The Importance of Being Earnest: Aside from the Witticisms of Oscar Wilde

“To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up.”

I often over-think interactions with others. I read into not only what’s said but also what goes unsaid. It’s something that acting has taught me to do –scratch beneath the surface. Usually, people aren’t going to come right out and tell you exactly what they’re thinking, and sometimes they’re not going to admit it to themselves. I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about being alive – the complexity of the human existence.

Especially in this day and age, with the bombardment and overt presence of social media, we’re even more careful with what we share with each other. There’s a veneer of happiness, without delving into what’s underneath the surface. We want information quickly, and we don’t want a lot of detail. This prevalence of insincerity is what makes genuine enthusiasm, or earnestness, important.

When you see it or hear it, it’s almost like striking gold. There’s this purity about someone who is earnestly wanting to do something or be something.  

It can also be a very tender thing for one to have earnest goals and intentions. There is a gentleness there that needs to be cultivated. I’d like to think that genuine intentions and interactions are rewarded — maybe not immediately or in the way that you initially expected. I think the majority of people want to help, and when you voice what your heart wants, or what your soul wants, people will do whatever they can to help you achieve that. I’m not saying that they’re going to just hand over the keys to the castle, but they may know someone who knows someone. No matter what industry or business you find yourself in, connections and networks are the keys to opening new doors. You still have to work hard and make the effort, but one of the things that links highly successful people is that they aren’t afraid to stop and ask someone else questions or have conversations. It is through those conversations, that the next steps start to form.

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Pride & Prejudice: Not Specifically About the Novel

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged…” that to become “completely and perfectly and incandescently happy,” you’ve got to have a little pride and forget a lot of prejudice. 

Today, I came home to find a package. An ordinary manilla envelope with ink streaks across its unassuming body. I knew what was inside, and I didn’t want to open it. 

Much like how I didn’t want to order it in the first place. 

Together we sat in our quiet embattlement. 

As you probably know, I recently self-published a poetry book, entitled One Whole World. The idea came about rather unexpectedly, but I felt like I needed to do something. I’ve always been an over-achiever, and I felt that after graduation, I didn’t really have a token of achievement. Growing up, I’d received report cards, awards, recognition, and eventually a degree. I could trace my academic path like a carefully constructed trail of breadcrumbs. After graduation, there’s not so much pomp and circumstance. Sure, I do things. I’m auditioning. I’m working. I’m learning. However, I felt like I didn’t have something tangible. Call it a quarter-life crisis, but for some reason, writing these poems made sense. 

I finally felt freed. I felt like I knew my purpose. I had set deadlines and goals. I was writing again. I had ideas that I wanted to express. I felt like I was finding myself, but it was more than that. I was giving myself permission to be who I was all along. I let myself unleash. 

However, I’m prejudiced against myself. I second guess and I worry that it’s not good enough. Why should I share my thoughts or ideas with the world? Who would care? Do I really have anything special to share or am I just adding to the noise? I was putting all this time into my poetry project, and I felt like kind of an idiot. I felt like a charlatan. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to really do this. 

What changed? 

I started telling people. “I think I’m going to put together a poetry book.” 

Then I started asking questions :“Do you have any advice about self-publishing?” or “Do you mind proofreading my work?”

Incredibly, people were excited for me. They were generous and kind. I felt like a little kid sharing her scribbles with this world, and instead of being told the brutal truth that she was proudly displaying a page of wiggly lines, people saw my scribbles as I saw them: beautiful. 

They were encouraging. They were impressed. They may have been blowing smoke up my you-know-what, but I appreciate it, nonetheless. It gave me the confidence to continue, and the courage to share it further. 

I put my work on Amazon, and I was excited. Then, people started sending me pictures. Their books were on their way. Then a few weeks later, they had the copy in hand. I felt a familiar dread start to gnaw at my stomach. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein. What have I done? Why did I open my mouth? What was I thinking? 

People are going to hate it. There’s going to be a mistake or several. People are going to want their money back. I should just give them their money back. Why did I decide to sell these scribbles in a book? I’m a fraud. I’m the one behind the curtain, and I don’t have any more magic up my sleeves. 

My anxiety was back. 

My self-prejudice was back. 

I realized I needed to also get a copy of my book. It’s silly to not have a copy of your own book. I had to know if it had all gone wrong. I begrudgingly ordered my author’s copy, and tried to forget the estimated arrival date. Still more people asked me about my book or told me they had ordered their copy. 

I should have felt excited. I just felt guilty. 

And back to tonight, I opened the pesky little package, and out I pulled my book, and I started to cry. Not anxious tears or sad tears, but happy tears. I gently fondled the cover, and a great sense of pride fell over me.

I made this. I put time into this. Perhaps, there’s parts that are rudimentary, but there’s a lot of good in it, too. Some may find it flawed, but to me, it’s perfect. I’ve never seen something so beautiful, and I was reminded of the time I was first cast in a play or when I first booked a SAG role. I had worked hard, and something good came from it. 

I had so much doubt and anxiety over nothing. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been incredibly kind and encouraging. I’ve been incredible fortunate that I wasn’t met with disparaging remarks. It was my own dumb brain that was causing me the most pain. 

“Oh Jane…I’ve been so blind.”

I was the only obstacle in my way. It was my own preconceived notions of what a “writer” is or what makes something “worthy.” We all start somewhere, and we’ve got to start somehow so don’t chastise yourself for trying. Champion your efforts. Take pride in the fact that you’re doing something. You’re putting yourself out there. You did the damn thing. 

It’s too easy to berate yourself. It’s harder to be kind to yourself. It’s hard to look at your scribbles and decide that you want to share them with the world, but you didn’t used to have that problem. At one point, as a young adolescent creature, you scribbled with a crayon on some jagged piece of paper, and you marched forth to display your work.

“LOOK WHAT I MADE!” You pronounced, and waiting for people to applaud. It wasn’t a question of if it was good. It probably got lost within a week or two with more papers and colors and scribbles. It didn’t matter. You kept doing it because you were having fun. You loved creating it. It was fun to let your imagination run free across a piece of paper. When did we start judging ourselves for this process of creation? 

If you’re nervous about starting a new project or anxious about putting yourself out there, have faith that it will be worth it. 

Will some pretentious art critic decide it’s worth a million bucks? Will some publishing company give you a book contract? Will you be invited to be on The Tonight Show? Probably not, but why do we define success with such high stakes? Why it it the pinnacle or the dumps? What happened to the middle ground? 

Be proud of what you create, even if it’s not perfect. Even if it doesn’t quite meet your expectations. It’s part of your journey. Journeys are even more important than destinations. Celebrate the small successes, but also be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself down a path that you’d rather not go down. Go the way that makes you happy. Do the things that can make you feel proud of yourself. 

Pride isn’t always a vice, but a very important virtue. It is natural and normal to feel scared about starting out, but let me tell you, you can do it. I believe in you, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. If you stop hiding in yourself, you may find that you have a whole crowd cheering you on. 

Don’t be embarrassed. Start to spread your wings. The fall is scary at first, but wait until that wind hits your wings. It’s bliss. It’s so much fun to soar in the direction of your dreams. Forgive your self-prejudice. Keep your chin up — looking toward your future. 

Look at you fly. You didn’t think that you could at first, but you did. I’m so proud of you, and I hope you are, too.

 

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A very special thanks to those who’ve supported me in this endeavor. Your kindness and generosity mean the world to me. I feel very fortunate to have so many wonderful, beautiful people in my life. I hope that you enjoy the book, and I hope that you feel courage to go after what you’re afraid to voice. Thank you so very much for helping me on this journey and nudging me out of my nest. I hope I can return the favor. 

Resolutions Realizations

HAPPY NEW YEARS!

Cheers to you and yours. I hope 2019 brings you opportunities to explore, dream, and discover! One of the discoveries that I’ve had this year is Resolutions.

You probably have a couple, and if you’re like me, you’re not great at sticking with them through the whole year. Now that we’ve commiserated and understand that we’re not alone, and that we, as a human race, are not always great at sticking to commitments, let’s talk about some things: 

While setting goals can be a great motivator, don’t let it consume you. It’s important to find a balance of rest and relaxation so that you can have the energy to pursue your dreams and enjoy new destinations. 

1. HAVE PATIENCE 

Did you know it takes 21 days to make a habit? That means that if you started your resolution on Day 1 of 2019, then you’re 1/3 of the way toward turning that resolution into a habit. Way to go! If you’ve ever tried to make (or break) a habit, then you also know: It’s hard! We’re used to going about our days the way we have for several years, and therefore, things won’t automatically change or get easier after a few measly days. You may forget or decide that you have something important to do, and that you just can’t today, and THAT’S OKAY. Be kind to yourself. Have patience. You’ve got an entire year to make a healthier habit so have patience and believe in yourself.

2. BE POSITIVE

I get super excited about planners. Like SUPER excited. I bought my 2019 planner in June, and decorated it in June. If you didn’t do this, then congratulations, you are a sane person. All of this to say, I completely forgot what my planner looked like so imagine my surprise when I opened my new planner, and found all of these nifty sheets about setting goals. There’s also a spot for a vision board, and several lists about listing what you are proud of and what you are grateful for. I wandered in to 2019 going “Resolutions Shmesholutions,” but then I started playing with my planner. I started writing down what I was thankful for, and the reasons that I’m proud of myself. From there, I realized the next steps I should take to be even more proud of myself and to prioritize my time around what I’m grateful for. I went into setting my resolutions with optimism and excitement. Vivian is pretty darn cool, and I’m going to be pushing her to be even cooler in 2019.

^Vivian being SUPER cool circa 2011

3. DON’T BE AFRAID TO START SMALL

Another cool thing about my planner is that it has several ways to break goals down. You have a spot for yearly goals, and then you have a spot for monthly goals, and THEN you can track your progress on a daily bubble map. (Yes. I’m type A. How did you know?) If your goal is to work out more or eat better, then try to ease yourself into it. Could you go to the gym three times a week? How about two? One? Start out with something that you know you can accomplish for January. If you set yourself up for failure, you’ll just get sad and frustrated, and it will be even harder to keep going. Let yourself celebrate the small things. If you didn’t go to the gym at all in 2018, and now you’ve gone once a week in January! You go Glen Coco! Now, let’s try for twice a week in February. No one learns how to run a marathon in a day, it takes practice, and most importantly, it takes time. You build up to it. 

In a way, a new habit, can be like running a marathon (I’ve actually never ran a marathon, but let’s keep with the metaphor.) It can be really difficult, so set achievable smaller goals to build up to your one big goal. Much like a runner starts out with a few miles, and then a few more miles, and then a few more miles. Start at the bottom of the hill, and work your way up.

4. BE SPECIFIC

Don’t just be like I’ll go to the gym at some point. What days work best for you? Do you have a prior commitment on Monday evenings? Do you have to be up early on Thursdays? Do you like to sleep in on Saturdays? Work around your own schedule. Don’t build in a new obstacle for yourself. Do you prefer to work out in the morning, at night, during lunch? Have a serious heart to heart with yourself, and lay down the ground rules. Know how many times a week you’ll work toward your goal. Know when (day and time) you’ll plan to enact that work. The devil is in the details. Also, don’t be afraid to give yourself a deadline. Deep down, we’re all procrastinators. A deadline helps light a little fire under your butt so be straight with yourself. You’ve got this. 

5. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE

AKA. KNOW WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS

A resolution is never going to work out if you don’t have a reason to go after it. Have another heart to heart with yourself and ask the hard questions. Why are you doing this? What would happen if you didn’t do it? What would happen if you did? If you’re going to the gym because all of your friends said they needed to go to the gym more, then guess what, you’re probably not going to find the motivation to go to the gym that often. If you’re going to the gym because you want to run a marathon (I really don’t, but it’s just a really good example), then go to the gym like you want to run a marathon. Decide your resolution, by deciding what sets your soul on FIRE. Be honest with yourself. What do you really want to do? How do you want to spend your time? Be selfish with your goals. Because guess what: They’re YOUR goals. Do with them what YOU please. If you don’t like my ideas, then do your own thing. I hope that no matter what you choose or don’t choose, you’re moving in a direction that makes you happy. 

IN PRACTICE: 

“All right smarty pants, what are your goals?” you may be wondering. That’s a fair question. Let me preface by saying I’m an overachiever. I get anxious if I don’t have enough to do so please don’t compare your list to mine. I’m a crazy person. We’ve already talked about the planner situation. 

January Goals:

  1. Write 1 Screenplay - I have this scratch sheet of paper when I have an idea for a play or movie, and I’m starting to run out of room. I love writing, and I love storytelling. This year, I’m going to make it a priority and get my ideas on paper. I’m already 60 pages into January’s script. (Halfway there! If you don’t include the proofreading/editing)
  2. Write 2 Chapters in my novel - Again, lots of ideas, love writing. Need to put pen to paper. I’ll be honest, I got excited about my screenplay, and have not touched this one yet. I’ll have one chapter done by the 15th, and I’ll write the other one by end of the month.
  3. Workout (3x/week) - I’m starting to get stiff, and I hate it. I used to be more active, and then I graduated, and I fell into a slump of covers, Netflix, and chocolate. Also, I discovered the beauty of wine. Needless to say, I want to be more active. I want to be able to run a couple miles when I’m seventy, and if I can’t do it when I’m in my twenties then I’ve got a long road ahead. 
  4. Market my poetry book - Have you seen my poetry book, One Whole World? Check out my Books tab to get more info.  Also look out for a social media promo coming soon! 
  5. Meal Prep (1x/week) - I always forget how much I love to cook. I forget because I don’t really like food. If you ask me what I want to eat, I genuinely don’t know. I can be very picky, and here has been my diet for winter: Breakfast - granola bar and bananaLunch - Cup of coffee; Handfuls of Cheddar Bunnies; or whatever I could scavenge from the break room after a lunch meeting that thought they were feeding 5,000, and not the 50 or so members in attendance.Dinner - Can of soup; mug cakeThat is why meal prep is now a thing because I want to be more active, and you can’t run several miles off a handful of cheddar bunnies. You just can’t.
  6. Finish reading Letters to a Young Artist - I have had this book sitting on my shelf for way too long. I used to read all of the time, and I want to get back in the habit. This book is absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend it! P.S. If you have any book recommendations, let a girl know.
  7. Blog (1x/week) - I like to give advice, and I like to share my thoughts. Hence why - blog. I feel like I don’t normally talk about myself very much (unless I consider you a very dear friend), and this way I’m learning to become more comfortable talking about me.

Much luck and love in the new year. Here’s a little #poemfromtheheart for you:

 

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Where did you go?

It’s been awhile. Maybe you noticed. Maybe you didn’t. Either way, you may be wondering — why did I stop writing? 

Fear not! I took a break from my weekly blog posts to focus on a bigger project: my first poetry novel.

Through writing my book, One Whole World: Poems from the Heart, I felt like I was finally able to synthesize my thoughts and feelings about 2018 and life, in general. As I was writing, I felt like a floodgate had been opened, and my fingers were able to find the words that I wanted to speak. 

I was inspired to start writing at the Dallas Museum of Art. I had just resigned from my job, and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I had drove to Dallas for an audition, and I decided to spend the rest of the day surrounded by masterpieces. I allowed myself the freedom to be still and observe. I had no time constraints. If I felt compelled to stay in one room or move on from another, I trusted my instincts, and I slowly meandered through the different halls — taking in what these artists had to say about the world we all live in. 

As I was outside, immersed in a statue near a reflective pool, I started typing out How long must I stare? Many more started to take form after, and as I was driving back to Austin, I kept dictating new thoughts and drafts to my Google Assistant. (Really, the only time, I’ve ever appreciated the program.) 

I’ve heard people say that writing is mostly re-writing, and they are correct. After I had ordered the poems, I kept re-reading and correcting and adding. I finally gave myself an ultimatum. You get one more time to read and review, and then we’re locking the content. (I’m not sure why I said we. Sometimes, it’s helpful to divide myself into multiple people…i.e. business Vivian, creative Vivian, analytic Vivian, etc..) I locked the content, and submitted to Amazon for approval. 

Will there be things I find later that I want to change? 

Probably. 

Was I using editing as a form of procrastination and hiding behind perfecting punctuation rather than putting the book out there? 

Most definitely. 

I’m going to honor my process and learn from this novel. I’m already working on several other writing projects from novels to screenplays to more poetry, and I can’t promise that this blog won’t take a backseat to other projects that I get excited about. When I can, I’ll write. When I can’t, well….until next time. 

Please check out my book on Amazon! 

Let me know what you think. I’m excited (and nervous) to share my poems with you, and I really hope that they inspire you to explore, dream, and discover. 

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Love Your Body

In 4th grade, I was taller than my teacher. She was normal human size. I was way off the chart. I was the opposite of Honey I Shrunk The Kids. I was Honey I Dropped the Kid in Supersonic Waste, and Now She Won’t Stop Growing. 

In 6th grade, despite being gargantuan woman, I loved wearing heels. They made me feel older —more sophisticated. I’d hear the click clack click as I walked down the hallways, and I thought that was the sound of success. 

Until, the majority of kids at school starting to make fun of me:

“Why are you wearing heels? You’re tall enough already.”

I stopped wearing them. I started to hunch. I wanted to be smaller. I perfected the art of appearing smaller. I’d slump in my seat. I didn’t want to be tall anymore. I wanted to be tiny. I wanted to disappear into the sea of normal  people. 

It wasn’t until college that I started to enjoy my height again. Between the acting, movement, and voice classes, my professors kept encouraging me to own my height. It wasn’t  just about “standing up straight.” It wasn’t rigid. It was about rediscovering my confidence. It was encouraging me to grow bit by bit — like a flower returning to the sunshine. 

“I am who I am. 

I have nothing to prove.

I have a right to be here. “

There’s nothing I can do about being tall besides embrace it. 

Who can reach that can of soup on the top shelf? Me!

Who’s tall enough to ride this roller coaster? Me! 

Who’s buying these 4” heels and daring anyone to say anything about it? Me! Those shoes are cute, and I  can’t hear your insults from up here. 

You only get one body in this life. One vehicle to propel you toward your aspirations. You can get out and kick the fender when it stops acting normal or you can enjoy its imperfections.  It’s how you get to where you’re going. You can’t let other’s negativity and comments slow you down. Love your body for how it is. Even further, love yourself for being you.