bridging the gap

A few months ago, Catherine McCormick of CatherineGraceO asked me to be a part of a nationwide campaign to “bridge the gap” between millennial and midlife bloggers across the country. The aim was to break boundaries between age groups and bond over our similarities–which hint, there are lots!

I was fortunate enough to speak with Cynthia Lawson. And man she’s a beautiful soul! Incredibly positive, a loving mother and a handbag designer, she is a self-taught creative. Although it wasn’t until she brought her daughter to a modeling audition that she got the bug. Casting asked Cynthia to audition too, and thus began her modeling career. Being on sets helped shape her style which translated to growth her other career in pharmaceutical sales. Her regular offices noticed a shift in Cynthia; she was chic, confident and beaming! In her words:

Along the way I noticed how my job industry was obsessed with youth culture
and appearances. Not to mention if you were outdated or looked old you became invisible. My
mission over the last fifteen years has been to overcome this stereotype. Armed with fashion
magazines and the E network, I consistently noticed that woman like me were not represented.
It wasn't until 2009, that I discovered a hidden world of fashion blogs written by stylish women
of all ages. These soon became the fuel that I needed to bring out my true self. I started from
the top down and updated my look with a sleek new hairstyle. Girls a good hair style can
immediately update your look and take years away. I looked for the right style of clothing that
complimented my body type, and tried to become adventurous with my color palette. As I
looked at myself in the mirror I realized, I look younger now than I did fifteen years ago. The
style formula I created and continue to add to, has been the guiding light in my life and really
gave me a purpose.

Through her career shift, things began to blossom and she realized that people respond to how you dress. She’s not lying. As humans, we take stock of how people present themselves- are they laid-back, confident, polished etc. and in turn we make adjustments to how we introduce ourselves to said new face.

Through her time modeling, she came into her own and started to “dress for success”. I’m out here in LA doing the same thing! Playing into that game so to speak. Sure would I love to roll out of bed and arrive to an audition? Yes. But does an athlete just walk on the field without warming up? Appearance is the entree to acceptance Cynthia told me. I couldn’t agree more. You could have the best audition out there, but if there’s no effort for appearance there will be chatter. Dress for the role people! Go into that room and own it. Casting wants you to be the answer to their problem!

This conversation reinforced my belief that at the end of the day, regardless of the age gap and career choices, we all share a lot more in common with one another than differences. Both of us want to uplift and empower those around us while realizing that we first need to keep our mental game strong. By leading with openness (and a kick ass outfit to reflect that) we can encourage those around us to do the same.
So, I’m daring you again to chat with a stranger, acquaintance or colleague who is at least 20 years older than you- hopefully you’ll find that bridging the gap isn’t such a hard thing to do.
Cheers!

making “me” time

And just like that, it’s the first day of Spring!

Growing up I learned that Spring was all about rebirth; plants and animals coming out of hibernation as the frost melted away into sunshine and warmer weather.

blooms at Lake Elsinore

And while warmer weather might not be there for everyone (just come visit Southern California to get your dose!) there are hints of Springtime popping up everywhere:

ps loving the portrait feature on the iPhone 7!

…Like poppies! Popping up (can’t help myself!) throughout the parks in California. Known as a “super bloom”, the wildflowers are extra happy and vibrant this year because of all the rain we got during winter–see we really did have seasons this year!

..We also “sprung forward” so the days are feeling longer and the nighttime slump comes later.

…There are lots of “spring cleaning” ads. Having been in my new space for a little over a month, I’m taking the time to clear the clutter and get rid of excess stuff I haven’t touched in months.

…It’s March Madness! My Dad is in his, damn I can’t even remember how long he’s run it, but he’s the ring leader (call him the “commish”) of a big NCAA basketball tournament pool. His emails bring me joy everyday. It also helps that my alma mater, UNC, is still in the running and Villanova (last year’s champs who beat us) are already out. YES!

…Pastel colors are everywhere! Stores are gearing up for Easter (hello Reese’s and Cadbury chocolate eggs!) and flowers are blooming.

wildflower cluster

So back to flowers and “me time”. Over the weekend, I decided to drive out solo to Lake Elsinore and see the colorful blooms. Man, did I feel like I was in Oz (not just how colorful, but lotssss of other people had the same idea).

cactus meet flowers

Wanting some time with little human interaction to reflect, soak up the sun and take some pics, I took a slightly steeper path, made it to the top and spread out my things.

alllll by myself (and loving it!)

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. For everyone!!!! Making time for yourself-even if it’s just 15 minutes and at your kitchen table- it is so vital to staying grounded. For re-centering, rebirth (hey, hey, Spring connection) and refocusing on you. What brings you happiness and what you need to let go. I’ll write more on this later in the week and the steps I take, so look out.

sunny selfies

In the mean time, on the first day of Spring. I dare you to take some time for yourself. JUST FOR YOU. Because at the end of the day- even with girlfriends, boyfriends, moms, dads, spouses, family, coworkers, etc. If you aren’t making yourself whole and happy it’s going to make it damn challenging for the rest of your circle to bring you that fullness. Find it in yourself. I promise it’s there.

You can start small and:

…buy yourself flowers

…get whipped cream on your coffee

…read the comics AND the sports section from a real newspaper

…sit an extra 5 minutes in your car to listen to your favorite song (again)

…take a walk around your block during your lunch break, or when you’re home from work

…smile

…stay longer post workout to stretch a little deeper or dip into the sauna if that’s available.

Whatever you choose do it for you!

Wishing everyone a great start to their week. Let me know how you take your “me time” in the comments.

xo N

act like a champion today

So I just had a breakthrough, even though it’s been in front of my eyes since I was little.

Has that ever happened to you?

You hear something for years and it doesn’t totally make sense/you think you understand, and then BAM one day it hits you?? The marquee finally blinks in all of its’ glory!

Mine went a little something like this:

So, there’s a famous sign: “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” that hangs in stairwell between the Norte Dame football locker room and the tunnel to the field. Tradition states that all the players touch the wall on their way out before game day. My dad is an ND alum, so we had a replica hanging in our basement growing up. Later, as I was choosing colleges- I ended up choosing UNC because I saw that same sign in a stairwell at the theatre department, only it read “ACT LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY”.  A literal sign I should go there.

Now flash-forward to post college, living in LA and my acting teacher said something along the lines of “LA is the Olympics of acting, so you better train (aka rehearse, practice, read scripts etc.) all the time if you are going to make it in this sea of actors”.

And even with all of these sports metaphors, I was still thinking about myself as an “actor” and weirdly that meant I felt guilty about getting help– I needed to figure it all out on my own because that’s what the great actors do right?? They just find the character, they know the beats of the scene, where it needs to go to tell the writer’s story etc. The greats do it all on their own.

And it’s ironic too because part of the reason I love what I am doing is I constantly get to LEARN. I’m a student of life, as corny as that sounds. But subconsciously I was blocking out help.

But recently it clicked. The “BAM” moment happened during another acting class, as the teacher- a series regular actress- said her career changed when she started thinking about her auditions with an athlete’s mentality. No longer were they this big once in a lifetime, must book or fail situations. Auditions became a game. This meant she was still training, approaching the text from a writer’s stand point and making the strongest choices based on what was on the page BUT she then scored herself post audition like she had just played a game of basketball. That took the audition more into her hands and totally changed her dynamic in the room.

*Most* athletes don’t beat themselves up after all of their losses– because statistically you can’t win them all. Instead, they look at game tapes and work on improving their plays so next time around they can give it a better shot. By approaching acting with the same mentality, it has allowed me to reimagine what winning and losing look like. I feel more in control because I know I have the tools, and can keep training on the parts that aren’t up to par (pun intended).

Not saying this is the way. It’s just the way that I now approach my work- and maybe it’ll help you, regardless of your profession. The same principles can be applied.

Now that the marquee’s lights are flashing (thank God!) I don’t need to feel less than because I work through scenes with an acting coach or another actor (aka teammate). And winning doesn’t just come in the form of booking the job. It comes from keep track of growth in the audition room, classroom and onscreen, of being consistent and great at what I do. Being an athlete means showing up to all days like they’re game days; ready to utilize the training, while also trusting your teammates, coaches and your own worth–and ultimately “PLAYING LIKE A CHAMPION” all the damn time.

why i marched

photo c/o Sophie Kuller

Because I couldn’t sit at home

For my future daughter and son

Because my female body shouldn’t be as regulated as GUNS

*nasty women unite*

Because there’s a massive wage gap that still exists, especially seen in Hollywood

Because I stand with Planned Parenthood

Because every woman has the right to choose what’s best for her life

*love is love*

Because it’s not ok to be slut shamed

To know that we’re not fighting this alone

Because coming together is the first step in a longer narrative

*girls just wanna have fun-damental rights*

To build bridges, not walls

Because things still aren’t EQUAL across the board

Because there’s strength in numbers

*pussy power*

To feel empowered

To defend and advance human rights world wide

To show there is a peaceful way to fight

*free the nipple*

To open our hearts and raise our fists

To help the broken hearts make art

Because the US sets world wide examples

*and while we’re at it, fuck that dog movie too*

Because this is a marathon, not a sprint–here’s some next moves

Because labels shouldn’t hold us back

For what Meryl said

*my body, my choice*

Because there’s a double standard

For the women and men who’ve already dedicated their lives to equality, and to inspire future ladies and gentlemen to do so

For my dear friends, mother, grandmothers, gay friends, straight friends, new friends, old friends, teachers, male friends and all the people I love- this was about equality and defending our human rights.

*love* NASTY-IER NAT

holiday small talk

Things I love about the holidays:

  1. The food
  2. The booze
  3. The decorations
  4. The gifting
  5. The days where your fuzzy socks/pjs stay on all day
  6. The carols
  7. The friends and family I don’t see often enough

Things I dislike about the holidays:

  1. Catching up with certain friends/friends of friends/family and navigating how to present my life as a creative freelancers who acts, makes wine videos and writes a blog. It can be toughhhhhhhh.

As someone without the “normal” 9 to 5 who can highlight a promotion or change of departments etc. as success (although, luckily, there are lots of creative freelancers emerging at the moment) it can be seemingly difficult to explain what I do or even how I’ve grown. So what do you do??

Me: Grabs a glass of wine, throws on a smile and makes a b-line for awkward convos first so I can settle back with close family for the rest of the night.

Me to Me: Takes a bottle of wine, fat plate of apps and sits by the fire. Tells it my all secrets and avoids people at all costs.

Sooooo you don’t have to do either extreme- take to the “difficult” ones first, or hide. But here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

create your elevator pitch

I know I know, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier if you make a little semi-rehearsed speech. Bonus points for embellishing, everyone does it. And hey, you put it out in the world it might just come right back to you!

enjoy the little things

So you didn’t get a huge holiday bonus like your sister who works in finance, but you know what you did do as a creative?? Probably saw more of the world, reflected, became a better you. Savor that. Please and thank you. Everyday I try to express the gratitude I have- it’ll make it easier to chat with Aunt Lucy and Uncle Pete from Nebraska…wine helps with that too.

lean on your friends

If you’re lucky, some of these holiday parties will include your best friends. If so, buddy up and the build each other up while in conversation. You bet your ass I will brag about my best friends, and they’ll do the same. This tactic works best in front of your relative//family friend who thinks you need a Plan B. You don’t. You just need a fabulous support system. Said nay-sayer is not one of them, but brush that off.

smile

Personally it’s hard for me not to, especially after a couple glass, but for those with resting bitch face try it. I’m not trying to get all puppies and rainbows over here, but I shit you not, throw on a smile and hopefully it’ll access a more positive mindset. If you go in the party with a frown and shit attitude it’s hard to have an amazing time despite all the cocktails you’ll thrown back. But–if you slap on a smile, take a deep breath and try to find the fun in sharing your projects/success/set backs/hopes with the world, you just get the best gift of all: a surprising amount of love, support and kind words you never knew your family and friends had to share. YOU just have to open yourself up to the opportunity.

And on that note, I’m stepping off the apple box and dropping the mic. Enjoy all the festivities this season!! Sending my love your way and many thanks for reading and supporting my career.

Merry Merry!!

xoxo Natalie