Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I'm stuffed. Not with holiday food, with stuff.

In the spirit of starting 2008 in an organized fashion, a lot of stuff has to go. I'm working my way through every drawer, every closet, every file folder and my storage closet...ruthlessly. Ha.

It's hard to get rid of the lovely Tahari evening dress I bought in 1993 to be a bridesmaid. But the thing is almost 14 years old and just doesn't look flattering on me anymore. Same with some suits purchased in the 90's for my former day job. Nice fabrics in excellent condition, but they just don't suit. Ha. Goodbye, eyeshadows, lipsticks, blushers and creams accumulated via years of makeup promotions. Farewell, magazine and newspaper articles on topics from flat abs to plotting a novel I've carefully clipped and saved but rarely refer to.

What/how much do we really need? How many pairs of shoes? Jeans? Types of hair gels? Pairs of pajamas?

But how can I part with a few vintage dresses that were my mom's? The very cool 1950's drinking glasses my great aunt gave me? I never know what sort of self-costuming a show or movie might require, so I've kept some stuff. Just in case.

I joined freecycle.org...an amazing Yahoo! group where you offer stuff you no longer want and can request stuff that you do. Within hours I gave away my Clavinova--a full size electric piano from the late 80's that still works great except for the C# key. Took up too much space in my bedroom, and I only played to pound out notes/the alto part in music I needed to sing. It went to a young woman who was so happy to gift it to her musician boyfriend. How nice when extra stuff goes to a good home. I then bought a much smaller Yamaha keyboard that fits in a closet.

Then there are books...very hard for me to give those away. Though I don't keep every book I read, I want those that have made their way to my 'keeper' shelf and my numerous medieval England research books. Seeing them lined up neatly on their shelves is somehow relaxing and reassuring. And then there's the bookcase with books to be read...

I'm off to the Salvation Army to donate several bags of oldies but goodies. And then to Target. In case I need new stuff.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Patrick Swayze and Me

I was in a bar with Patrick Swayze last night until 12:30AM.
And, if you know who he is, Travis Fimmel, too.

This is because I was an extra in their new pilot for A&E, The Beast. Not for any other reason.

I've been an extra on more than 55 productions, and have often been in close proximity to the principals (aka stars). But as a Dirty Dancing fan, seeing PS in person and watching him act in take after take was particularly cool.

Being an extra is rarely glamorous. We waited in a cold, spartan holding area for more than six hours on hard plastic chairs, then were on set--the smoky and cold bar--on and off for several hours. A few people smoked cigarettes (including PS) and they also blew in some fake smoke.

My call time was 12:00PM; we didn't wrap until 12:30AM. For not a lot of money. But, I enjoyed delicious food (including very tasty salmon and turtle cheesecake), and fun and interesting conversations.

One of the reasons I continue to work as an extra is to observe and be a part of the creative filming process. I got to sit mere feet away from PS and the director. I heard them discuss the various shots and takes and what they needed to do on the next take...it's interesting to see the personnel interact and make changes. It's also fun to see the movie or TV show and know what went into producing it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Inner Peace

As we rush around doing the busy-busy this time of year, maybe we need to stop for a moment to reflect on how we spent our 2007....how we chose to spend our time and what we chose to think about.

I don't mean trying to reflect while you're in the middle of wrapping presents or running errands or on the way to a social event. I mean sitting down in a quiet room and taking a few quality moments to go over what you have accomplished this year. What you have learned.

Most of us are so caught up in where we're going next or all the stuff we should be doing that we don't make time to appreciate where we are. Some of us tend to think, "Another year is passing, and I still I haven't ______________." For me, the blank is filled by "sold a book." This thought process, of course, leads to frustration and ruminating about what I could have done differently. Even when many aspects of selling a book are beyond my control.

What if I could turn that thought around and think about what I did do? If I could think, "I wrote another manuscript this year. And completed the extensive revisions my agent requested, to her satisfaction. And started two new novels." Those accomplishments should be a big deal. They should mean something. But my mind whips past any achievements to, "What's next? Why haven't you written more pages on your next books?"

The challenge is not being too hard on myself while remaining motivated and disciplined enough to move forward. Sometimes that seems to be a fine line.

I need to make more room in my head for gratefulness and gratitude. I need to allow myself to appreciate my successes and experience inner peace.

What can you appreciate?