Always Improv-ing (COME SEE OUR SHOW!)

I’ll never forget the first time I set foot in an improv workshop.

I was a sophomore in college, 19 years old, and scared to death.

It’s almost impossible for me to believe that was 13 years ago. Geeze, I’m old.

I had always wanted to try comedy. My favorite shows growing up were Kids in the Hall and Saturday Night Live. I played along with the improv shows “Who’s Line is it Anyway” and “The Instant Comedy with the Groundlings.”

I wanted to perform. I wanted to write. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

One day soon after I got internet in my apartment, I found that Four Day Weekend, a long time improv troupe and theater in Fort Worth, Texas; had just begun offering a beginner’s improv workshop.

I didn’t sign up at first. I thought about it though. I badgered my friends and parents about whether or not I should. About whether or not they thought it was stupid. Every told me I was the one being stupid. They told me to just give it a shot, and if I didn’t like it, I could quit.

Finally after about six months of religiously checking their website, going to shows and endlessly going back and forth-I signed up.

I was terrible.

I was the only girl in a class of 8, and I had zero confidence.

But I had a blast.

Over the next few years I continued taking workshops and eventually formed a troupe through Ad-Libs Comedy club in Dallas.

monkeyjunk

It continued to be the one stable thing in my life while other aspects were lacking. I didn’t have much ambition or love for my job, but I had improv shows to look forward to. I wasn’t thriving in terms of relationships, I was overweight, I had little confidence in the other avenues of my life-but I always felt good being on stage.

In the spring of 2011, I found myself in a really bad place. I was depressed. My comedy troupe, Monkey Junk, wasn’t performing as much because our members were all doing really awesome things with their lives (marriages, careers, babies).

When I lost my job in Dallas, I packed up as much as I could and I drove to meet my aunts in Austin for the weekend. They suggested we take a free improv workshop because they had always wanted to give it a shot.

I was scared.

Somewhere, during my months of depression, I lost all confidence to be on stage. I didn’t think I could be funny. I didn’t remember how much fun it could be,

But after a lot of persuasion, I went.

And I had a blast.

After the class, the owners of The Institution Theater suggested that I sign up for class. I told them that I was just visiting.

The next day, I drove to Waco, and broke the news to my parent’s that I was moving to Austin.

The rest, my friends-is history.

I took a few classes. Met some amazing people who were interested in a type of long-form improv that I had always found fascinating called the Harold.

iscream3

Three and a half years later, and iScream Sandwich is still one of my favorite parts of my life.

There have been times over the last few years where I have had that fear of performing and social anxiety return, but I’ve found a group of people who I know will always support me both on stage and off, and I ALWAYS leave a rehearsal or show feeling a million times better than I did when I arrived.

My team provides me with a safe place where I can always be myself, and will always be accepted.

iscream2

When I quit drinking, I realized that improv was one of the only things in my life that I didn’t associate with alcohol. I never drank before shows or rehearsals, so it has always been comfortable for me to return to.

While improvising, you are forced to be in the moment. You can’t worry about the things you did, or the things you have to do. You only have the present. You have to listen and support your team. You say “yes” to move things forward.

It makes you realize how important relationships are. It makes you mindful of your actions and details. A teacher once told me that using “Heinz 57″ instead of generic ketchup can define who you are in a scene. You think about how you really hold a broom or drive a car.

In short, I am so grateful for the experiences the art and my current and past teams have provided me.

Of course, this is all leading to me asking you to come to one of our shows.

And YOU SHOULD!

harold night

iScream Sandwich will be at Coldtowne Theater next Monday, March 9 at 8:30 pm.

Even if, or especially if, you’ve never seen an improv show, you should give it a shot!

 

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Just Me

This weekend while I was home visiting my parents and sleeping in a room that was once covered in Beatles albums and blacklight posters, my mom presented me with a memory board that she found in the depths of a closet.

best friends

My first thought was that “I used to be so cute.”

My second thought was “I used to be such a loser.”

Especially because upon further inspection, this was something that I made in my free time and for my own enjoyment, and not for any sort of school project or anything.

But now I’m back to thinking it was quite precious. I love that my best friend Suzanne and I loved each other so dearly that we wanted to preserve our friendship and our lives and our dreams at that exact moment.

I also have admiration that my 11 year old self was so insightful… that she knew what she wanted in life. She might have even had a better idea of her goals and passions than I do at 32.

board

Nowadays, I often have trouble deciding what food I would like to eat for dinner. I can no longer tell you with confidence what my favorite color or animal is, and I definitely don’t have the time nor patience to write a poem about my house.

whats hot

 

However, there is still so much on this board that I can still relate to. It’s pretty crazy that in a life where so much has changed, there are some aspects about my true self that still exist.

I still love dancing and boys and friends, and I still have a strong dislike for snobs and math.

the future

 

I may still struggle with what I want to do with the remainder of my life, but I still have the goal of wanting to help people. And I may have not had the best luck with animals (RIP Oreo) but 21 years later, my pets have a greater importance in my life than I would have imagined.

I remember fondly how strong my desire to become a “famous actor” stayed intact. While I no longer hold on to dreams of fame and fortune, I still have a passion for performing. I have a desire to nurture that love and to grow stronger in my skill. Just this week, I signed a contract with an agent and am signing up for acting classes. It makes me kinda giddy that 21 years later I haven’t completely given up or sold out.

about me

 

And of course there are some truths about myself that I can still proudly claim as my own. I still love my family and friends. I believe that I am a friendly person and that I’m extremely lucky to have the people I have in my life.

I’m thinking I should make one of these now… or what modern folks call vision boards. I used to think that this would be cheezy- but I do see the importance in taking the time to explore yourself, and the things you really want out of life.

We get so caught up in day to day life that it’s easy to forget what we hold important to us.

I’m glad I found this little board, and it definitely makes me proud of who I was and who I am right now.

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My Favorite Things (right now)

I have to say, it feels good to be writing again, especially when I feel like I’m only doing it for my own benefit-because it feels good for me right now.

I used to worry so much about what people would think, or that I always have to be funny, or that I’m going to be judged. I still worry. I’m human. But I don’t care near as much as I used to.

I do appreciate feedback though. And it means more to me than you know. Thanks to those of you who have reached out to me and please keep it coming.

One thing I’ve been really trying to do, especially when I find myself feeling a little down or without something on my mind that I have to get out, is making a list of things for which I’m grateful.

I know, I know.

Shut up already with your psychotherapy bullshit.

Whatever. It helps me to keep things in perspective. Also, I really just enjoy making lists of things that make me happy. It’s much better than making lists of things that make me sad.

 

Yerba Mate:

yerbaUp until a few months ago, I was totally and completely addicted to diet coke. I never bought a case or six-pack of them to keep in my fridge, probably because I didn’t want to admit I had a problem, but I would stop by my friendly local convenient store every afternoon to get my fix.

Only recently did I discover that they had these.

Now I drink Yerba Mate everyday in place of diet coke.

I have no idea if it’s better for me, or if it will end up giving me cancer, but I do know that it is delicious.

I also know that it supposedly has a very high natural caffeine content-which is my main reason for switching over.

This girl needs her caffeine.

Also, it’s delicious.

Stevie and Potter:

stevie potter

It’s no secret I love my doggies. I don’t even think I can express in words how comforting they are to have around.

Sure, I get annoyed that they cost money, chew things, poop all the time, and want constant attention-but I realize that I feel good being able to provide these things for them.

Plus they are freaking entertaining.

Even when Stevie Ticks pees on the floor, she has this way of looking at me all full of shame and my heart just flies.

Grandmommy:grandmommy

My grandmother is turning 90 years old in June, and I cherish every second I get to spend with her.

As a child, I loved her for being the kind-hearted, always loving grandmother that would do anything to make me happy.

Now I love her for all of those things, but also for reaching 90 years of life as someone that has my utmost respect and admiration. I love her for being someone who has gone through many hardships and triumphs, while continuing to always be a provider and always acting out of love.

I look forward to our conversations, her insight to life, her advice, and her memories.

I have never met anyone who has loved so deeply and so truly.

I am forever grateful for the memories she has given me.

Boyfriend Matt

boyfriend matt

I feel bad because I know I sometimes take him for granted.

He puts up with a lot from me, after all; and always with patience and love.

At the end of the day, I couldn’t ask for a better partner in life. He makes me laugh, he lets me cry, and he says stupid things that make me feel better every day.

I’m so grateful that he supports my goals and makes me be a better person.

Bikram Yoga:

pure bikram

I knew it worked for me in the past, but I didn’t remember how MUCH it did for me as for as dealing with stress and giving me confidence.

I still struggle to get myself there some days, but I always leave feeling refreshed and relaxed.

CJ and Chuy:

mexican

Dude. These guys are simply the bestest friends a gal could ask for.

I really look forward to our podcasts each week, and I know that no matter what mood I arrive in, I’ll leave feeling 10 times better.

I know that they will always give me positive feedback and they take my venting in stride.

Check out our latest podcast at Darkives.com

I also have to give a huge thanks to CJ for spending 3 hours this weekend helping me when my car battery decided to DIE.

car 1

 

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I Love Myself and What Self Help Book Worked For You?

I spent the weekend at home at my parent’s house in Waco, and I did absolutely nothing. It wasn’t very exciting, but I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

I snuggled with dogs, watched mindless television, had long conversations with my grandmother, and read an entire book for pleasure.

It’s so nice to have a place to go that feels safe and where I feel loved, regardless of the chaos that might be happening in the other facets of my life. I know that no matter what I do, my parents will accept and want the best for me.

I know. I’m a giant cheezeball. But cheeze is delicious so I don’t care.

potter stevie potter car stella 1

Before I forget, I want to say that if you’re at all into reading scary books, “Seed” by Ania Ahlborn is definitely worth your time. I read her book “The Bird Eater” a few months back, and it really stuck with me. It’s been a few weeks since I’d had the time to put into reading a good fiction book, so I decided to try another book by Ms. Ahlborn.

seed

I can already tell that this one will stick with me for a long time. I can always determine how much I enjoyed a book by how difficult it is to start another one. You kind of want to read another book just like it, but none of them seem to compare.

This particular book really scared me. Exorcist stories always do, though I’m not even sure you could call it that. It’s part psychological and part horror, and all around terrifying.

The other indulgence I allowed myself this weekend was a book by Kamal Ravikant called “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It.”

love yourself

I’ve said it before, I don’t usually fall for “self-help” books that tout that they have the answers for happiness or a magically better life.

To be honest, I’m not even sure why I decided to pick it up.

I guess I can’t help but be allured by a promise that there is an answer for any pain or hardship. Or that perhaps I would be inspired by someone else who had found the “answer,” the key to this crazy roller coaster called life.

And let me say this… I’m not completely sold on this book… But I do think there is something to it.

The author claims that he has found a way to change misery into magic… that he has found a way to truly be happy.

And for him, it was simple.

He goes into greater detail in the book, of course; but the main idea is to repeat the phrase “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself” over and over again until you finally start to believe it. When you’re lying in bed, when your driving to work, when your watching tv- “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself.” Eventually, you will feel so much love toward yourself that you want the best for yourself. You will begin to treat yourself with love and make decisions that will ultimately mean the best for you.

The more I think about it (while I don’t think it’s that easy), there are parts about this ritual that make sense.

First; by continuously repeating something positive about yourself, you are keeping yourself from thinking negative thoughts. It keeps you from getting into the that cycle of “I should have dones” or “Why didn’t I do this differently?”

It’s basically a way of keeping yourself in the present, but with an even more positive spin.

I also know that there is proof that if we repeat something enough, it starts to burn a path in our brain, and we eventually start to believe it.

It’s no different than binge watching FOX news and coming away conservative.

People all over the world scan Pinterest for positive quotes and affirmations when they’re feeling down. Some people turn to religion or prayer as a way to get their worries off of their chest.

So it makes sense that providing yourself with positive reinforcement whenever your mind feels too noisy, or whenever you feel anxious and depressed will help to lift your mood.

I also think that it is undeniable that if we could treat ourselves the way we treat other people that we love… if we could be as gentle and as patient with ourselves as we are with our loved ones…. we would find that we were not only happier-but that we would be making smarter decisions.

I do have to say that it is my first inclination was that this all seems a little egotistical. Should I really focus all of my attention on myself? Does this mean I should stop caring about other people’s feelings?

I know that’s not his intention.

He claims that the better you treat yourself, the better you are able to treat others.

I don’t know.

But I’m trying it anyway.

If nothing else, it’s working to keep my mind busy. And I do feel a little happier.

But that could be because I ate pizza for breakfast.

That’s right, I love myself so much I gave my tummy pizza for breakfast.

I love myself. I love myself. I love myself. I love myself.

Maybe if I say this enough life will actually start to love me back.

What I’m really curious about, is whether or not any “self-help” book or website has ever worked for you?

 

 

 

 

 

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