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180

I should absolutely be going to bed right now.

The show opened on Saturday.

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It was awesome.

In addition to the more-obvious love of rehearsal and performing, one of my favorite times as an actress is the drive home from the theatre after an evening show. Matinees are different–it’s still light out, more cars are on the road. But after an evening one, usually the freeways are clear. I drive fast (ish–I’m a mom after all) and if the weather permits I have my window down and/or the sunroof open and music playing very very loud. The drive feels like the bridge between my professional life and my personal one—I get to think about the show and I get to think about the loves of my life that I’m driving home to. It’s deeply peaceful in its way. There’s something so powerful, energizing, spectacular about having done work I love and heading home the the life with my husband and daughter that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Those are the moments I feel like I have it all. 

Saturday night I drove home and reflected on the 180 that day had taken: Opening was wonderful, yet that morning I had been in hell. I was entirely run by fear: fear I wasn’t good enough, fear I wasn’t as good as so-and-so, fear no one would like what I was doing onstage, fear I’d be criticized…..those fears. Usually I can talk myself off the ledge around this stuff; for some reason it was extra-hard that day.

But here’s the thing: I could feel—like those layers of colored sand in glass bottles that my dad used to have–the layer that was all that fear and I could feel the layer underneath it that was the complete opposite. That was calm, that was happy, that was so clear that the fear I was feeling was all about my ego: wanting to be liked, wanting to be approved of, wanting to be OK in someone else’s eyes. Garden-variety human insecurities, but sometimes they really stick, y’know? But this part of me knew that getting up on stage wasn’t about ME. It was about being of service: to the play, the other actors, the director, the audience, and as one of my best friends said to me, to the woman who might be in the audience who just found out her best friend has cancer and just needed to be entertained that night.

And that’s what turned the ship around: remembering when my back is against the wall to ask How Can I Serve. I wrapped that mantra around me like a coat and had one of the most fun evenings I could imagine. Fell in love with my character in deeper ways, fell in love with my cast even more, and was so profoundly grateful for the chance to be up there, doing what I love to do.

This evening, while catching up on Downton Abbey (I only just watched the season premiere, people! I am falling behind!) I took out some colored pencils and made myself some signs for my dressing room mirror: Love and Service. Because I am convinced again that when these are at the forefront of my attention, this is what can happen:

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this fabulousness found here

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