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Acting Reflections: Carpe Diem

4 April 2020 was a special day for me. Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't have such meaning to me. But when has circumstances ever been normal? Certainly not lately. But why 4 April? It's because I did something exciting, stressful, terrifying, and wonderful all at the same time. I published my website for the very first time. It wasn't easy, not by a long shot. I had to investigate other websites in order to be sure I have the basics - my resume, headshots, gallery of pictures from past shows, potential video clips, a contact page, you name it. I had to do a lot of trial and error to see what worked and what didn't. And I do mean A LOT! I had to ask people I knew within my circles to view my website and give me feedback, which proved to be extremely helpful. If I could pay all of them for their honest and helpful critiques, I would. Now do you see why I was so scared to do this? I kept putting this off many times in my career. "I don't have enough professional credits." "No one will take someone with community theater credits seriously." "I can't compete with other actors." "I can't make it pop out like other sites do." "I'm nothing special." So many voices in my head telling me "no." But you know what? I did it anyway, no matter how scary it was. Was it perfect? Not necessarily. Were there are lot of edits and changes? Of course! Am I proud to see how it's grown, evolved, and thrived this past year? You bet. All of the work I've put in this past year in creating, maintaining, updating, transforming, and beautifying the website is all worth it. It takes a lot of work do keep a site running and functional, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I couldn't have done it without all of your support, encouragement, advice, and love as I undertook this endeavor this past year. I'm forever grateful. As I've come to discover in several courses and sessions I've taken or attended, I have to do the things that scare me, and if the dreams I have aren't scary enough, they're too small to go for. I impart that same message my instructors told me onto you:

Do you remember the movie Dead Poets Society? The late Robin Williams played English professor, John Keating, who would transform the lives of his students, and turn the school on its head with his radical and courageous philosophy. One of the most beloved quotes from the film can be best said this way: "Carpe diem, seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." Carpe diem. Seize the day. Don't wait for the exact right moment to arrive because no moment can be exactly right, no matter how much you planned things out in advance. Don't keep putting off accomplishing your bucket list or that trip to a new country or learning a new skill or scheming a new idea that others think it's madness. Take that chance. Don't keep putting off whatever it is you want to accomplish or do because we're not promised tomorrow, so live each day in the present. It's a gift that all of us are given each and every day. Even without a global pandemic going on, it's a message that needs to be repeated constantly. I think we all needed to be reminded of this lately, and it's not just with our dreams and passions. It's what's going on in the world around us - politics, religion, women's rights, climate change, civil liberties, healthcare, you name it. We can't wait for others to do the job for us anymore. It's up to us and seize the day and get the ball rolling for the change we want to see in our lifetime and for future generations. Let me be frank about something: it's okay to sometimes bend the rules because as I've seen recently, people who follow the rules all the time rarely make history or are meant to fit in at every place, career, or relationship. Not every rule is meant to protect us or keep us in line, but it sometimes puts those who want to succeed in a less desirable place because of those in charge wanting to remain in power and let things stay the way they are instead of changing and transforming with each passing year. All the same, carpe diem. Is it scary to seize the day? Hell, yes! Nobody said it would be a walk in the park. But it shouldn't have to stop you from living in the present either. Nor be negative about the way life is going. Each and every single life is meant to be extraordinary, even in the humdrum patterns that you go through. I'm a firm believer that the people lead extraordinary lives, even if they think otherwise. Think about it: an individual may look like an ordinary person (or not), have a job, attended school, have a family, live in a friendly neighborhood, and all of the pieces that may look like a "normal" life to others. But in actuality, they may have lived through some of the most traumatic, stressful, and unique situations in their lifetime that is far from ordinary. Their experiences in schooling, jobs, travels, relationships, and more are quite different from yours and mine. Their journeys, lessons, mistakes, and revelations are all unique to them. No one is meant to experience the exact same things another person has. Each person is an individual, and we're not all meant to be the same human being as the other. And as the unique individuals we are, our paths are different but no less special than the other's. No matter where we come from, what our histories are, the lessons we were taught, how we were loved, what beliefs were ingrained in our minds and hearts, or whatever our lives are meant to play out, each of us are leading extraordinary lives. Even in the sameness of it all. But the important thing is to seize the day. Carpe diem. It's time to make your words, experiences, and their meanings your own. You're not meant to be a copy cat of the other. Never believe for one moment that your life isn't a fascinating tale waiting to be heard. Each of us are called to be extraordinary, not always in big ways, but the little things can become big opportunities for each of us when we think about it. I don't believe any of us are boring people. We can be interesting, even if we seem to be commonplace or ordinary. Why do some of us seem to be that way? Maybe it's because we were taught that if we did stand apart from the rest of the crowd, we won't be appreciated, respected, admired, or even loved for being our own individuals. We were literally forced into a box that hides or even makes our quirks and gifts seem small and pale in comparison to others. Each of us are amazing people. And each of us are called to do what Keating tells his students: carpe diem. I get the feeling I may have wandered off on a tangent. What does carpe diem have to do with this actor's reflection for this month? Well, plenty. I never would've imagined that my career would blossom the way it has this past year, even without a pandemic. Somehow, one thing led to another. And it all started with creating this website. I followed Keating's instructions: carpe diem. I was scared to do this, but I did it anyway. I had so many wonderful ideas, and I had to look at other websites in order to make sure I was on the right track. But just the same, their stories are not my own, and I had to make it my own. In other words, I'm the one who had to write my own story. I'm not meant to be a replica of someone else, nor do I want to be. I've already tried that, and I can tell you from experience, it sucks. And I'm sure many of you reading this feel the same way. Even if I lacked the professional credits many others have (or have not) or that it's not as much of site that catches the eyes of the people I want to attract, I still made this website my own. Carpe diem. And somehow, after the website was created and published, the most wonderful things happened that came to me (even with so many edits and updates along the way!). I got to do so much theater from my own home than I've ever imagined, thanks in part to Zoom. I got to work on my craft with my fellow community of artists and teachers. I got to learn more about the business and how to create my own individuality as an actress and as a human being. I got to update my resume on a frequent basis when a new opportunity came for me, right up to formatting it to make it look professional and clean. I got to do something I've never had the chance to do - networking with industry professionals - with some surprising results! I got to perform for audiences from across the country and even some parts of the world, all from the comforts of my own home. I got to audition using self-tapes and Zoom, both nerve-wracking, to say the least. I got to get headshots done with my glasses on. (The secret? Buying an inexpensive pair of frames and taking out the lenses. Works like a dream!) I got to submit to more professional and nonunion organizations and companies from outside the DC/MD/VA area. And this is only a snippet of all I've accomplished this past year since publishing my website. All it took was seizing the day. Carpe diem. It's not easy to keep a website running, and I need for all of you to understand this. I now have a deeper appreciation for people who keep websites running that aren't the actual businesspersons, creators, artists, restauranteurs, writers, and other occupations under the sun. I humbly bow at your feet! So many news updates, headshot updates, production photo updates, resume updates, blog updates... the list goes on and on! And then comes making sure the color scheme and fonts look right and it is easy to read by others. And then it's figuring out which headshot should be the most prominent one on the home page, the about page, and the contact me page. And then it's making sure all of my video clips are presentable, easy to click, and are relevant to who I am now as an actress. And then it's making sure I keep up with my biweekly blogs for all of you. It's quite the process, even if it is tedious and stressful at times. But I wouldn't have it any other way. Even as the voice comes into my mind telling me "no," I go forward with as much courage as it can be summoned for that day. And sometimes using that fear as a guide to propel me forward. Carpe diem. I seized the day, and it's paying off in so many ways. I'm living in the moment. And I highly encourage you to do the same. (Like so many of blogs, this one is no less different in the message. These are my observations, experiences, and opinions about what I've discovered on this journey this past year on creating the website, and in the past five years as an actress. I welcome your own observations and suggestions, even if you disagree with me. But I won't tolerate any hateful speech or foul language of the sort. I will block you if it comes to this.) This week's blog is both a message of inspiration... and one of gratitude. I couldn't have created this website without your love and support. The feedback you've given me on how it could be better or more presentable was nothing short of helpful and amazing. And it's not just for this website. It's for my entire life as a whole. For the people who have been with me from the very beginning, and there isn't a lot, I'm glad you're in my life up to this point. I know we're not meant to stay on this earth forever, but the fact you've stayed with me on this journey and never gave up on me, I am forever grateful. You've accepted me for who I am as a person, both the beautiful sides and the ugliest parts of me. You've encouraged me to go forward with some of the craziest dreams and ideas that even I wasn't sure would go well. You helped me through some of the most darkest moments, and you stayed with me when many others have left me because I wasn't the same person when they first met me. Or that I had to undergo some transformations on my own away from those who chose to leave me. If anything, all of my readers, compatriots, friends, and family have been my Keating. You've been whispering the words carpe diem to me, even when I was too tired to go on. If I could stand on top of a desk and shout "Captain, o my Captain!" I would. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart, I could not be doing this crazy career without all of your support. Of course, I couldn't forget the Almighty and Powerful God for blessing me with this wonderful gift, and all of the wonderful things that appeared in my life because of me simply letting go and seizing the day. Carpe diem.

It's amazing how much of a transformation one undergoes in a year, something that is destined to be repeated for quite some time. But do you know what's even more amazing? The fact that you decide to live in the moment and take that chance, no matter how mad others think you are. The fact that you decide to follow your dreams on your own path, no matter how hard it gets. The fact that you are willing to learn, grow, thrive, and transform as an individual each and every day just by seizing the day. If you look at this gallery of pictures and see how much I've changed from the inception of this site to now, I hope you can see how much I've blossomed just by seizing the day, no matter how terrifying it all is. Carpe diem. They are simply two of the most magical words in Latin that can carry so much power and promise for those who decide to heed its call. Each and every one of you is called to do something amazing, even if you think your life is boring. Your time is calling. Don't give up. Make your lives memorable. Write your own story. Be the hero or heroine in your tales. Never stop living in the moment. Accept the gift of each new day with hope and love. That's why it's called the present. Carpe diem. Carpe diem. CARPE DIEM. "Carpe diem, seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary."

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