14 – January 14
“You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning.”—Billy Wilder
My first career goal was to become a professional actress. I fantasized about the applause of adoring crowds, fame, stardom and tears of joy streaming down my face as I collected my Academy Award for Best Actress. I dreamed of moving audiences to joy and laughter, rage and sorrow, and the wonderful acclaim I would receive. Great fantasy. I saw it. I wanted it.
The trick was to get it—to bring my fantasy into reality. Maria Nemeth, in her book The Energy of Money, describes the difficulty of crossing the border from metaphysical reality to physical reality as “trouble at the border.” I had to make some effort to put my dream into being. I had to take risks; I had to step out into the unknown. I had to put myself on the line, without knowing whether or not I would measure up. I had to send out ships.
So these are some of the “become an actress” ships:
I auditioned to be in a play at my high school. I asked a friend what I had to do. When she told me I had to sing, I backed off—I was much too frightened to do that. But then she said, “Well, you’ve been taking dance lessons for years, so go to the dance audition and try out for a dancing part.” That felt like something I could do, so I joined the crowd at the dance audition, did the steps they showed me and was cast in the show. Success! I loved it. I loved the rehearsals, the people, the creativity, the teamwork solving problems—it was all terrific, just like in my fantasy.
So I went to my school counselor, told her I wanted to be an actress, and signed up for all the drama curricular and extra-curricular activities. I took dance lessons, acting and singing lessons, read and studied plays, auditioned and performed in plays. Subsequently, I got a degree in Dramatic Art from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and made the trek to Hollywood as countless thousands before me. I had my professional pictures taken, got an agent and auditioned everywhere I could. I got my Actors’ Equity card performing in Hello, Dolly! with Martha Rae, my Screen Actors Guild card in The Time of Your Life with James Whitmore, and did odds and ends of dinner theaters, commercials, and Disneyland.
Then the dream shifted, and I followed a new path: bookkeeper(!?). It seemed strange at the time, but now I see how the two seemingly different career paths were necessary training grounds for my current profession, financial stress reducer.
You never lose anything, no time is wasted, all experience is meaningful. But you have to put ships in the water to get anywhere or you’ll never hear the lookout shout, “Land ho!”
“All paths lead to my highest good.”
While teaching my Financial Stress Reduction® workshops, I came to the realization that really I’m still acting – I’m just now doing my own one-woman show on money. Looking back, I can see that the part about acting I really enjoyed was the rehearsal period. The cast was a small, intense, artistic mastermind group creating a project together. We discussed the play, the philosophies behind the writing, examined our characters and their motivations, tried out line readings, movements, props, costumes. It was wonderful!
But after the show was set, and we performed what we had decided on, every performance, every day, and for me things got really boring very quickly. In school, a long run was 4-5 performances a week for about 4 weeks. And then we were on to the next show. It was like a repertory company, changing plays and parts all the time. Professional acting was an entirely different venture.
When I did a musical show at Disneyland 5 shows a day 5 days a week for 9 months, I thought I would die of boredom. We had a great cast of crazy characters and the musicians all doubled and tripled on their instruments, and we started putting in different songs just for fun. We were always getting in trouble for that…
I remember the host of our show, Fun With Music, was dressed as Merlin, and at the beginning of the show he would introduce the musicians and have them play a bit of music on the different instruments. They invented a game where the music the musicians would play would be a bit of the theme song from a TV show. Then in his response, the actor playing Merlin had to indicate that he knew what the show was. For example, the clarinet player played something from Star Trek, and Merlin said, “I see you go boldly where clarinet players haven’t gone before” which was a take-off of the opening line of the TV show. We all got a big kick out of watching that interplay. (In any production, there are always many inside jokes going on onstage that the audience is never privy to.)
Many years after I started teaching my workshops, I realized I had created for myself the exact thing I most enjoyed – a small, dedicated, creative mastermind group of people who wanted to grow and succeed. And now I get to be the director! Awesome how life turns out.