5 Steps to Dreaming Big

We want to make our mark on the world in some individual way. Even more we want to be known.  We make friends. While engaging in relationships we find ourselves changing, or even worse, awaken one day to find we have changed into someone who has veered away from the path we thought ourselves originally on. Sometimes we like who we have become; who our relationships and experiences have made us. And sometimes we don’t.

At times these traits are obvious to us and at others they are not. When I first started this post, I realized that week that I’d become a pushover and a scaredy cat. (We often delay our blogs to protect the innocent–which is usually ourselves!) Anyway. At the time I was afraid to leave my job. For many ridiculous reasons that at the time seemed important and true. One: my life feels like a delicate balance and I don’t want to disrupt it. Two: my job was pretty easy and it paid me reasonably. Three: they know me. I’d been at the job for over three years. Four: they seemed willing to work with my crazy schedule.

All of these are bullshit. My life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles while pursuing your passion. No job (or relationship, for that matter) is “easy” when you’re not being treated right–and sadly, I didn’t  feel like I was being treated well. Which leads to three–obviously they didn’t know me if they felt they could mistreat me. And my schedule isn’t so crazy and it’s not that I’m not accommodating when needed if possible.


Life is a delicate balance, but living is about how you deal with obstacles

while pursuing a passion.


Well, I woke up a week after writing the above. Went into work like a good worker bee, determined to keep my head down and keep working.  During my shift, I found out I was denied my request for time off to perform the show I was already cast in. I lost it. In what feels like the “Hulk smash” version of myself, I decided I didn’t need a job that told me I couldn’t put myself first, and I quit.

I hold myself in high esteem. I’m a calculated person and I very rarely make snap judgements, uninformed choices, or un-researched plans. For better or for worse, I rarely walk into a big decision without a plan. Quitting a job is just not something I do. This was a big decision, and I had talked myself out of it so many times, but when the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


When the thing I am most passionate about was put on the table, I didn’t think twice.


Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics: “stop worrying where you’re going. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ve gone. Just keep moving on.”  These lyrics always reassure me, no matter what I’m in the middle of. In other words, stop thinking about it and just go. Just make the choice. If you are that passionate about making the change happen, things will fall into place. If I hadn’t quit, I probably would have gotten let go, because I was going to do those performances. It was also time to leave that job. But I sat in it for too long because I didn’t value myself enough.

A while ago I wrote a blog on self-worth. This is a gigantic topic that we as a society don’t talk about enough. Therefore we question our worth, and what we want fights a battle against what we can offer. Which determines our worth.  If you continually think down on yourself, hold yourself back, or tell yourself that you’re not worth it, you never will be.


Maybe you continually beat yourself up because you don’t know how to do anything else. And if you pick on your own weaknesses, it won’t hurt as much when someone else does it.


I don’t know you. I don’t know your situation. I do know that I’ve been in both types of situations: the ones where I succumbed and stuck with something I didn’t want to do, and I’ve stuck up for myself and went my own way. Both choices have led to both good and bad outcomes. However, most times I’m  much happier standing up for myself, even though I might have to work harder, give up things, ask for help or money, and suffer a little.

How do you begin? Here is a place where lists will help you.

  1. Figure out why you dislike where you are–and “being you” doesn’t count. Is it because of hours you don’t like, not able to have a creative outlet?
  2. Can you change this by staying in your current situation but by just rearranging things?
  3. What is more important: comfort or creative? Heads up–pursuing the creative or the passion isn’t always easy. Generally it’s twice as tough because if you fail at even the smallest parts of your plan, it’s painful.
  4. Figure out your financials–this isn’t to say “don’t leap until you can afford to” but instead, “understand what downgrades and adjustments will need to be made, so it’s not so harsh a reality later.”
  5. Breathe deep and leap.

Just know that if you’re meant to do whatever your passion is, you’ll find the support. My gal Angie Atkinson is a huge example of this (outside of LL and I). Angie started her path to rock stardom three years ago, and isn’t famous yet, but you’ll hear about her soon. Angie started out wanting to move to NYC to be an actress.  That dream (and her amazing acting prowess) brought her to the city.  However, she decided it wasn’t the path for her anymore, and instead wanted to write and perform music.  She has been working on this in her spare time; writing, rehearsing; performing; and making an album–which she just released–go to iTunes or Amazon to buy it!!  For now check out a video or two.

Remember, whatever mark you want to make, you’re probably already on the path either to make it–just take a look around, what are you happiest doing?  What do you spend the most of your time doing?  Are they similar?  Why not?

We only get one life, so live it large.

Clare

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How to Let It Go

I am lucky to work with people on a daily basis. Actually an hourly basis. I hear their joys, wows, and the dreaded “I can’t…” I don’t mind a good mental download. Sometimes you just have to unload.  But, how many times have you had the dame complaint? How many times have you complained about that today or this week?  Even worse or even how many years have you had the same complaint?

I have caught myself playing the complaint game, many times. Woe-ing over what is happening with a certain person, place, or thing.  Acting as if it is all happening to me, personally. That I have no control over any of it.  But, then the Universe, or Clare, or my Husband knock some good loving sense into me.  They help me see the big picture, or the other side to the story.  With this new adjusted view, I actually have to let go of said complaint and own my role in the situation.  When I step back I see that I have to then control my control-ables.

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I know, I just made that seem easy-peasy.  Truth… it’s not so easy to let go over the issue that is bothering you.  For example, a friend of mine years ago and I both worked together. He would complain on the daily and sometimes find me a few times in one day to complain about his job.  First, it was too easy, then too boring.  Then his company wanted him to do things he was uncomfortable with or he didn’t feel was in his job description.  Next, he would complain the job was suffocating him.  For months I had to listen to his complaining.  Until, one day I didn’t.

I grabbed his shoulders in a loving way.  Looked him in the eye and said: “This isn’t the only job in the world. If it’s not lighting your fire then go, find a job that does. But for heavens sake, and my ears, do not let another negative thing about your job come out of your mouth. You do not have to do this job.”

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He was shocked.  I was too.  It was the first time I took someone and was so direct; I could have lost our friendship all together.  Or worse, been head butted!Of course after this harsh reality check, I hugged him and told him I loved him no matter what. But, he is the only one who can make himself happy.  No job would.


You are the only one who can make you happy. 


A week later he had made a decision to leave the job.  It’s been 3 years since his decision and, I have to say, he looks happier with every year.  His last day he almost floated out to his car.  Did I miss working with my friend on the daily?  Yes.  But did I really miss the friend he was when he was working with me?  NOPE!  Our friendship is even better now.  He took ownership over his own life. He went on a path truer to him and his goals.

You can too!  I know you think it’s too late, too much money, or you’re too invested in the path you are on.  Go read Clare’s Blog on her feelings about the usage of the word “too.”  But seriously, we are living longer and longer these days.  Don’t you want to?  It’s been proven more times than Google has pages, that happier people live longer and healthier lives.  If you’re unhappy ask yourself why.  Then take changes to turn that frown upside down.

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If you’re job is causing you stress, angst, displeasure:

  • What exactly is the stressor?
  • Can you pinpoint it?  Narrow it down to one or two or three things.
  • If its your commute then you don’t need to change your job.  Change the commute or how you spend time commuting.
  • If it’s your co-deskmate ask you boss to switch your desk, or invest in the top of the line headphones and rock on (or not but let people think you are).
  • Boss…what about your boss? Is it how they talk to you? How they treat you? Or just that you have a boss?  If it’s how they talk to you go to HR. Or have a meeting with them, and politely express how they are making you feel. Bosses can often change too. If you just don’t like working for a boss then take the steps to work for yourself!

If the stress is coming from a relationship with a friend, family member, or significant other, figure out:

  • Is it how they treat you?  Just be straight up.  Tell them: When you say or do this _______ it makes me feel like this______.  If they don’t get it, understand what you’re saying, or refuse to change, then you can remove yourself from the situation for a time period.
  • Is it how they treat themselves.  Tell them!  Seriously, people put themselves down all the time and it can be so hard to stand next to that. What kind of friend are we if we don’t help them see how awesome they are!

Maybe it’s your home, apartment or car:

  • What exactly is it about your abode that you don’t like?  If you really sit down and think about it, maybe a new rug or lamp will fix the inside.  Or a quick search online you might find your perfect haven.  If the problem is larger, work out what you might need to do to fix your frustration with your living situation.   Sitting around complaining about it and doing nothing to change it seems pretty silly don’t you think?  Unless you do something to change your situation, nothing will change.

If something is bothering you, or you hear yourself on repeat, figure out exactly what is the bother. Narrow it down. Then, ask yourself if it’s something you can fix or if you need to make a get away plan.  You are (or should be) the conductor of your train. Take back the control. Stop relinquishing it by blaming another person, place or thing. Go and do!

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I am currently taking steps to rid a complaint from my life. The moment I made my game plan the moment a felt a huge weight off my shoulders and have found excess time in my busy schedule. I want that for each of you. Please feel free to share your experiences with Clare and me, either in the comments, or email us.  We’d love to help you rid that woe.

Xx~LL

If you have a comment scroll down past the tags below (or up, if you’re on the main page), or email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com   We LOVE your feedback!!   Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for DAILY inspiration!

Photo Credits: Alan Cleaver (stress eraser), Bernard Goldbach (eggs), !unite (strongman).

5 questions to help you focus your dreams.

I think I was six when I said, when I grew up I either wanted to be an archeologist or an actress. I loved digging in the dirt, and wanted to either find dinosaurs or Egyptian artifacts. I also loved playing dress up and creating my own version of skits in the back yard with all of my friends. I’ve always loved working with people and finding stories. Ultimately, that is what both of my career choices was about for me. What I didn’t understand as a child, is that both lives don’t always lead to the average living situation with a husband, kids, dog, house, mortgage, car, fence, etc. But you don’t think about those things as a kid.

When we were children it was easy to glamorize a career. It becomes part of our identity, our dream job. Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up—it’s a standard question. It might change as we go through high school and college, depending on our aptitude and what we are exposed to.  But generally, we hold onto those dreams, those career goals.

I come from the fairy tale generation.  We grew up with Disney, parents who told us we could be anything we wanted to be, and President Clinton telling us that everyone deserved to go to college.  The trouble is, once through college, or stepping into the real world, we try our dream out.  We stretch our legs and try out our skills… but it sometimes isn’t enough, or isn’t the right fit.  As adults we still dream about a career or a goal, especially in the ones that are continually in our faces. The sane ones that we can judge on the surface, but don’t understand the depths of what they actually take to live them.

I’m approaching my five year anniversary in New York. It’s a very exciting milestone, for me. I have survived one of the most brutal cities, and have been somewhat successful in the career I wish to be in. The buckets of money have yet to arrive for my performances, however, I feel like I’m successful in my persistence in this career, as well as my achievements. However, as an actor I’m continually terrified. Terrified of when my next creative job will arrive. Terrified of where the money will come from. Terrified by the dozens of friends, who are just as talented, who quit the business and move home. Its an alarmingly large rate of people who attempt this city, only to return home a year or three later. They have either seen the dark side of the dream, accomplished the dream and didn’t achieve the level of happiness they wanted, or did and are ready for a new dream.

The thing about dreams is they keep us going.  They give us something to wake up in the morning for.  They give our life excitement and challenge. Drive is so important in life. Something or someone to wake up for is a necessity in life. However, we do grow and change and our life and choices form us, and remold us into different adults. We look back and forward at the same time and wonderwhat we really want to achieve. Some of my friends have gotten to the point in their lives and realize that what they really want out of life isn’t offered by their chosen career. Other friends figured this out in college, or just after, and diverted their path towards other things like children, or homes, or staying in the town they grew up. And that is perfectly fine. Point: sometimes the dream we have had in our head since childhood isn’t the one we really want to achieve.

Sometimes this stifles us. Sometimes it releases us. What is it that you are really dreaming? Do you want a specific job? Or perhaps a way of life, instead?

Start with your current dream: What is it?

Maybe get a piece of paper or something to make notes. And be honest with yourself.

What attracts you to it–this dream? Is it the goal itself or what the goal will bring? (for instance, if you want to be an actor, do you want to actually be a part of the craft, or do you want to be famous, or do you want to have money?)

Why are you attracted to that aspect? (if it’s the craft, is it because you love that you can become someone else? You like bringing life to someone else’s words? If its famous, do you like that it can open doors? Do you like that you can be charitable to whomever you want to? Do you like that your picture will be everywhere? If it’s the money, what do you want to do with that money? Do you think that getting the money is easy by acting?)

What are you doing to achieve that goal? (Are you auditioning daily? Are you watching movies and reading gossip magazines? Are you only dreaming?)

Switch gears.

What is stopping you from going after the goal? Fear? No talent? No connections? Family/job/money stopping you? (If its fear—do you really want it? If its talent—why are you still drawn to it? If its no connections—why don’t you have them, as in do you need to start looking, or go back to school, or network? If its family/your job/money—are you sure you’re not making excuses only to keep you from it?

If you had to give up everything and only choose one: your family, your dream, your security—which would you choose?

Think about your answers to the questions. Maybe the dream you’re dreaming isn’t the right focus.

Social media gives us a great view of society and sociology. Many people post what they love most and what they are most proud of on social media. What are you posting? Also, what makes you jealous, no matter how slight, when friends post it—why does this make you feel that way?

I dreamt of being an actress. I’m still in the process of making that happen, bumps and bruises, rejection, and the lack of having a “regular life” make it frustrating and mildly unappealing to me. That is my inside view. I look at Facebook and how people I went to college and high school with are married with children and enjoying their lives, while I sit, single in NYC. But I did dream the right dream. Maybe if you sit, looking out your window at others, you should take a look at what you really want and desire. Start with my questions above and analyze yourself. If you need help, feel free to reach out at liveclarelesley@gmail.com

Dreams are amazing. They pull us through the drudge of daily life. But, if it’s the wrong dream, it could be detrimental to your spirit. What do you really want? Re-tailor your life to that dream!

–Clare

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(Art by de la vega, photo by Live ClareLesley)

Nerves: How to Squish Those Butterflies

I audition often–probably not as often as I should, but that’s not the point. I audition regularly enough, so basically I interview, put myself out on the line, open my heart and soul, through a song or a text to complete strangers with a mere hope that they’ll want and choose me. Insert horrific kick ball team selection moments here–it feels terrible to be picked last, or if in theater, not at all.

At the moment of writing this I’m headed to an audition. It’s a big one for me. I’m on a subway and I’m trying to do breathing exercises and releasing tension in my shoulders and listening to other music–anything that will take my focus away from the flip-flopping in my stomach, the wiggly legs, and the voices in my head.
The thing about ignoring problems is that they always butt their head back in. I’m at a sensitive equilibrium, and any shift in my breathing, my stomach or makes me jolt out of it. I’m at an intermediate level of being able to keep my nerves in check, because I have to do it so often. But I’m not going to lie, sometimes I let the nerves win. I’m staring success in the face and I’m going to let my nerves get to me. Oh. I’ll fight them, but they’ll still win. WHY? Why am I going to let a flip-flopping stomach and some wobbly knees take over and ultimately take away my chance?

Lets break down nerves, in a logical thinking way. Ultimately, nerves are created by fears. If you figure out your fears and face them, they should be easier to conquer. Both LL and I live by the thought that if you look at your fear, figure out the worst-case scenario that the situation could bring and then come to terms with the worst possible, there is no reason to be afraid anymore. For instance: the worst possible situation that could happen in the audition I’m headed to is that I’ll say something completely offensive, look completely unprepared, and not perform perfectly: making a bad impression and leading the people in the room to think I’m unprofessional and untalented. Let me dissect this for you and for me, since it always helps to rationalize out a situation to ground yourself. First, I wouldn’t say anything offensive–I’m more professional than that. Second, I doubt I’ll look unprepared, I looked over this music and audition materials for five hours last night—I’ve got this. Looking like I’m unprofessional and untalented—well, both are perspectives, if you think about it. It’s someone else’s perspective of me—which might book me a job, but is ultimately none of my business what someone else thinks of me. They’ll see me and meet me for maybe 10 minutes, which paired with my resume is enough to give me a job, but not enough to know me. So, what I’m trying to say with all of this is the worst could happen, but I’m prepared enough that it shouldn’t all just explode. And, better yet, no one will die or be harmed in any way.

“Nerves” come from fears. We all know that. I’m nervous because I fear I’m not going to get a role. Actually worse, I’m nervous because I’m afraid I’m not an actress, and I’ve put all of this time, energy, and money into being one. Wait—whaaaaat? I AM an actress. I’ve booked many gigs—some that have actually paid me. So, seemingly my nerves and fears are silly.

So how do you beat them? By continually calling them out for what they are and confirming your status as a fantastic, wonderful, unique, talent in the world.

Here are some steps:

1) When you start to feel the nerves, call them out—hey nerves, you’re just fear.

2) Dig deep and figure out what the root of the fear is: For me and auditions and job interviews, its feeling like I’m not good enough (this is generally the root of all nerves.)

Going on a first date: nervous that they won’t like you (“Not good enough”). Nervous that they aren’t who they say they are (Fear of someone lying to you—which you can’t determine until you get there. But you CAN always leave).

Quitting a job, or telling someone some heavy information: fear that they will hate you forever and will spread it around that you’re a terrible person (sometimes these are really silly reactions. If they hate you forever, well at least your last act was honesty. And if a rumor is spread around that I’m a terrible person for being honest… so be it.)

Traveling nerves are a bit of a different creature, but still, it’s a rare chance that your plane will crash, your suitcase will get lost, you’ll die… just make sure to get insurance and take the precautions you feel will make you more safe.

3) Breathe and talk through that fear, or that worst case scenario. Find a safe place, and a safe person to talk to—this does work best with a friend. I find that talking things out to others, and/or writing them out help get them outside of your body and mind, and therefore are no longer part of you. So talk it out; write it out; GET IT OUT.

4) Understand yourself and your fear—I’m not a therapist and I can’t help you completely work through everything, but I’m sure there is a root of your terror. My theatrical ones are that I’m not good enough to book another job, because I see so many of my friends booking work when I don’t. Well, its just not my time. And my close friends, and mother will tell you I’m insane having these thoughts—I did seven shows in 2014. Already this year I’ve done two play readings, am cast in a show, and am in the process of booking another. It will all be ok. (Just FYI, I didn’t book the original show that inspired this post—on this side of it, I’m totally fine; not crying, berating myself, hating myself, etc. Just moving on to the next.

5) Move on to the next. Or the first. Once you’ve talked through the fear, told yourself that it is silly—yes, please use the verbage “its silly” because really, it IS silly that you don’t feel good enough, or that someone will hate you, or that you’re going to die for doing an every day thing. (If you’re terrified of scaling Mt. Everest, that is something I can’t help you with in this blog. At LCL we can coach you through it—email us at liveclarelesley@gmail.com to get started!!) Now that you’ve said the thing you fear is “silly” see how you feel.

6) Tell yourself that you are wonderful, awesome, courageous, and amazing. If you are not what this particular opportunity needs—GREAT! There will be another one that is BETTER for you, or you’ll understand reasons why you didn’t get this one. Maybe its because you didn’t really want it in the first place!

7) BE OPEN—this is a big one. After you’ve gone and done and got over your silly fear, listen to the world. If you’re looking for a job, tell your friends and listen to what they have to say. If you’re looking to date, get out there and try different opportunities—try joining clubs or groups instead of continually refreshing your Hinge pool. If you were afraid to tell someone big information, look at that relationship and question why you were afraid—is it you or them?

8) Dive back in! Yes, this is kind of part of number 7… but get back out there. The more you try the more you’ll get over the fears and nervousness. I’m nervous about singing auditions, but I’ll go in and give nary a care about reading auditions. I can cold read Shakespeare and you’d think I had it memorized. Because I’ve DONE so many and have achieved more success. The less nervous you are, the better you’ll do. I’ve conducted many job interviews and been on the casting side of theater—most of the time the person is hired because they are confident. Breed confidence!!

9) Check back in with your fears. If you can still tap them easily and call them “silly” then you’re doing great! If they’re still debilitating, you might want some stronger help than a blog!

Good luck! Remember, breathing is the opposite of nerves—if there is plenty of good warm breath in your stomach, there aren’t room for butterflies!

–Clare

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Competitive Progress

I’m writing a novel. It started out as a journal response to a break up, and then blossomed into a much bigger entity. Its been a slower process, because, it takes a LOT of time to write a book, especially when your life isn’t focused around it. It takes a lot of time to do anything if your life isn’t focused around that thing; raising a child, advancing your career, becoming better at sports, getting a performing career regulated. I was also in final rehearsals for a show I was about to open. One of the gentlemen in my cast was on his computer a lot while not on stage. At one point, I teased him about taking notes on other actors in the show, and he responded that he was working on a novel. I asked questions and was an appropriate level of excited for him and interested, outwardly. Inside, the competitive streak awakened. I mentioned that I was working on a novel as well, and shared a little about mine. We have a similar amount of page numbers, so I felt around his same level. But something was ignited in me. I felt competitive, and something inside me seemed to take a starting position, ready for the starter pistol to fire. Although his book is a completely different subject than mine, and really outside of rehearsals, I don’t know his life… As in, his book could be a culmination of writing from the last 10 years, or it could be that he has lots of free time that he can spend on it, or maybe he’s just much more regimented than I am. Also this is his second book—whereas this is my first large work. Instead of coming home from a long day of rehearsal and just relaxing, I opened up my computer and tried to dive into writing again. Why did I do this? Simply because I saw someone else writing, my brain thought: oh, he’s getting ahead of me in the Race of Life—I have to hurry up and catch up with him! Which, frankly, is a really dumb thought. However, I have it all the time. All. The. Time. Why? Competitive progress.

Whenever I set out to do something, and I see someone else doing something similar it ignites the passion and competition in me. Sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes, I sacrifice things so I can “keep up with the Joneses.” I didn’t sacrifice much but sleep last night, but sometimes that is enough of a sacrifice. I have this crazy notion that I need to finish because a colleague might get ahead of me—this is a completely ridiculous thought. So, the questions arise: Why am I letting someone else’s actions spur me on? Why do I feel the need to be competitive? And why does it matter if it inspires me to move forward with my goals and ambitions?

Writing happens for me in spurts, any project that takes time, I often do in segments. In between writing the above and now, I read an article about jealousy. I started questioning myself, was I jealous of my colleague who was making sure he devoted time to writing? In a way, yes, but I turned it into a positive. It spurred me on to do my own work. Jealousy is only jealousy if it turns you against another person and in a way against yourself. If you’re starting to feel a heightened emotion and feel badly towards yourself because of something someone else is doing: STOP. Make that into something positive instead of just sitting and bemoaning your life. Take that energy and allow it to be positive, and creative instead of negative and a vacuum. Do as I did—I saw someone else doing something that was similar to a project I was working on. I felt shame and a bit jealous that he had thought to work on his project when he had spare time. He wasn’t flashing it around, he was just being present in two genres of his life at the same time: rehearsing and writing.

First, take the ridiculous jealous feelings out of your brain, set them aside, and tell yourself that you don’t want to be negative about whatever achievements the other person is making. You just don’t. Refuse! You’re feeling this because you wish you had more time to work on something, or were more creative, or wish you had thought of it. Whenever you start feeling jealous, tell yourself it’s a natural need to create something. Start brainstorming.

Brainstorming and creativity can happen at anytime. You just need to give yourself the permission, and the outlet. Put down the game on your phone and give time to yourself instead. Once you start sneaking in the time to create, you’ll start making time for yourself to create. I now sit down every morning for an hour and work on creative things—whether it’s writing or working on my website or working on something creative or even just doodling or making lists on the creative ideas I have; anything that gets the ideas out of me and into the world.

Also remember, my dear snowflakes, that you are totally different than any other person. Your timeline is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as Lesley’s or my cast mate’s, or the guy sitting across from me on the subway, or any of your “friends” on social media. I don’t have a baby, a 401K, or a mortgage like many of the people I went to school with. However, I have a blog, two almost-books, a burgeoning theatrical career, and an apartment in Manhattan. I will get to where I need to go, when I’m meant to get there. Things will show up in my life when they are meant to. My stories will get written when they do.

That brings me back to the blog. Last week I was looking at our blog stats. A few months ago we hit a record number of views in a day for us. It was so great. Lesley and I are asked for our opinions and advice all the time and we wanted to reach a greater number of people, so we started this blog/book/movement. I’ll admit that when we started, it was a lovely outlet to express my thoughts. When the momentous day happened ( it was our first triple digit day, so we got excited). Then, we seemed to dwindle back down to double digits. Like any other high in life, the fall out is hard. Especially when your hope and expectations are up. At times like these, the fall outs, you can do several things. The most popular being: wallowing in self pity, and giving up. However, if Edison gave up, we wouldn’t have the light bulb… or at least the version of the light bulb he created and as soon as he created it. Someone else would have done that, but not shared with the world some other gift… anyway… The point I’m getting around to is this: if I didn’t fail in life as much as I have, I wouldn’t have anything to share with you. I wouldn’t try as hard to write a book, tell stories, be an actress. Failing, or roadblocks that diverted my path from the ones I thought I wanted to take brought me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. Yes, it all might not be momentous realizations and creations, but instead encouragements and redirections. The blog not getting as many views spurred Lesley and me into figuring out other directions (and really at three months old, we’re doing GREAT at LiveClareLesley—I just want it to be 1000 views a day. Now!) If I hadn’t had the terrible relationship, I wouldn’t have started a novel. If I hadn’t seen my acting colleague working on his book, I wouldn’t have been spurred to write both my novel and our blog. We all have things to share. We all have gifts to give. We all want to make a mark on the world.

Stop worrying about the mark. Like all good acting/art teachers will tell you: be true to your art. Go out and create, be, live, do. Stop worrying about what others are doing. You’ll make whatever you want, and make it your own, on your own timeline.

Clare

(oh and if you’re interested, you can follow the novel’s progress at The Time Turner)

Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s my birthday Month!

I absolutely Love LOVE LOVE! Celebrating my birthday. Did I mention I love my birthday?!

But I hate when people say they’re coming to my birthday celebrations and then last minute text, call, email or some other way to bail. I know things come up, people get sick, etc, etc. I just really don’t want to hear it on my birthday or while I’m celebrating.

So, I have devised a new way of planning and celebrating. A almost fool proof way to enjoy your celebrations without disappointment on whose ditching out: Choose Your Own Adventure!

You pick and plan how you want to spend your day/weekend. Invite your friends and family. Instruct them to “Choose the Adventure” they most want to do. But!! Unless instructed,  they DO NOT RSVP. This way, should something come up for them, you’re none the wiser and you can focus on enjoying those that did come!

Here’s what I did last year:

Friday drinks at The W 7pm-10

Saturday: 8am beach run
9:30 coffee brunch
1pm spa day
Dinner at my favorite restaurant (I will need to know if you’re coming for reservations)
10pm drinks at an Amazing bar
Sunday: 4pm Yoga
9pm drinks at Sassafras

This year’s adventure:

Friday: 6pm Olympic Spa (girls only)
9pm dinner drinks The Line Hotel
Saturday: 8:30am Yogaworks Weho

10am brunch below yoga studio
8pm Dinner Sage (made res for 12 please rsvp)
10pm Funky Sole Dance night at the Echo (get in line at 10 free before 10:30)
Sunday: 4:30 yoga by my house
6pm BYOKombucha or other fermented beverage the B&L haven

Those were the basics of mine. You can get as detailed as you want! The best part is…. I got to do everything I wanted to do and those who attended picked something up their alley. They chose the adventure they wanted to have with me. No lists needed. No trying to visit with everyone in one night.

I’m sitting here at the end of another joyous birthday. It’s typically my “new year.” I am happier than last year. Just like last year I was happier than the year before.  I am so thrilled to be celebrating my birthday today! I hope you can use my “choose your own adventure” birthday planning to enjoy your next one.

This is another way we at Live ClareLesley are inviting you to take control of your own life. Do things your way and that includes celebrating your birthday the only way you can. By being you!

Happy Birthday To Me, my fellow Aquarians and un-birthday to all of you!

Xx~LL

Am I An “Amy”?

I’m reading Gone Girl, and I’m almost done—don’t worry for those of you who are reading it or have plans to see the movie, I’ll talk about the book some, but nothing that gives away any spoilers. I have to admit the book was really difficult for me to read for the first section. I grew up in a small town in Kansas, and I know where North Carthage is. I have been to North Carthage. My Midwestern town seems grossly similar. I also now live in New York—and although I’m not the heiress and namesake of a popular book series (yet), I was feeling a lot of parallels in my own life. Which I’m sure is a point Gillian Flynn is trying to make—are you like Amy?

This fact is almost as terrifying as some of the twists in the novel. Amy talks about being a “Cool Girl” and makes herself a blend of what men think they want—the thin girl who isn’t afraid to eat, likes to be adventurous, and isn’t upset if a guy goes off and does his own thing instead of premade plans with her. There are a few articles out on the subject like this one, that state their viewpoints on “Cool Girl” status.

In the shower, I was thinking of this—I seem to do a lot of deep thinking in the shower, which is a pain in the ass because by the time I get out, I forget the amazing topics I had just brainstormed.  In the shower I wondered if I should shave my legs, but shrugged it off thinking: I’m not sleeping with anyone at the moment, so…why? After the shower, I was thinking about my last few weeks…I’ve been occupied by a relationship of sorts with a man and it wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked it to have been, so I’m moving on. But before it turned the corner, I was out shopping and planning. I bought new razors, thigh highs, and the pretty kind of panties—the ones that after you wear a couple of times just get all frizzy, so you save them in the back of your drawer for “special occasions” and then in a few years clean out said drawer, and end up throwing them away because they’ve somehow ratted up in the back of the drawer, even though they were never worn—yeah that kind. I have all of these things, and am ready “just in case.” Lesley and I had a conversation about this blog, and she brought up that a common complaint people have when dating is that the other person changes after three months of dating, and it isn’t true. People don’t change, they just relax back into who they really are.

I’m a comfort woman, not that I am lazy, but there are things that I don’t care to do, unless its for show. That being said, there are several things I do for myself regularly like wearing pretty smelling lotion, daily mascara, and blowing out my hair. But the myriad of things that I list to do when I think I’m about to hop into a relationship is a bit mind blowing for me. Partially because the list is seemingly long, but partially because I’m so easily willing to slip into a vaguely different version of myself, a better groomed, slightly more sexy, taller (the heels come out) version of myself. Because, in a way, this is what I think I need to be in order to start a relationship. Again, not major changes, but I don’t show up to a first date like I do to daily things.

I’m not just a heightened version of myself only when dating. We all go into different situations where we are a shinier, better, improved version of ourselves. There is a different me at work, there is a different me with certain friends, there is a different me at a networking party. It just happens. It’s when we play into this persona and create even more heightened versions of ourselves that it becomes an issue.

In Gone Girl, Amy confesses that she hates this person who she has made herself out to be, this perfect version of a wife for Nick. The perfect version of a daughter for her parents who are in a cookie cutter relationship. She hates it so much that she doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t even know what it is that she likes. Because she has created this character, partially out of fun and partially as an experiment, Amy makes herself out to be likeable (to which at one point she asks the reader if “likeable is a compliment”) and therefore makes fake relationships with people by being an amalgam of the things she thinks people want to see.

One of my favorite quotes is: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” ee Cummings nails humanity on the head with that thought. What is the better choice: to be yourself, or to take on who you think people want to you be? Amy says it’s a game for herself to step into these people, these different stereotypes to be more likeable. Feminism says you should stand up and be different than the stereotypical woman. I say: I like fancy undies and heels when I’m out on a first date—heels for the first impression and to give a glimpse at how intimidating I actually am, and fancy undies so if my first impression of you is a good one, I can know that I have a secret I’d like to share—maybe not tonight… but sometime.


I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. I think that if you want to let your freak flag fly, then do. If you don’t, well… don’t. Your choice, just don’t hurt anyone intentionally. I think that its fine to be who you want one moment and try on someone else’s skin the next—just don’t get so deep in a lie  that you hurt someone, or worse hurt or confine yourself. If you want to buy fancy undies, or fancy wine, or have a fancy shave, do.

Plans to see the movie tomorrow with my book club, are urging me to finish reading Gone Girl even though my inner voice keeps comparing me to Amy. I think, even though the comparisons terrify me, I know that I’m not like her. Yes, I do try on different versions of myself, but all of them are rooted somewhere in me—I would wear the fancy undies and heels more often if they were more comfortable. But ultimately its not the true me. And when I do put on these personas it is for me—possibly driven by others—but in the end, for me. I’m going to go finish the book now… maybe you should go check on yourself and see how much of your outward self is for you, and how much is for the world… We’d love to hear your thoughts below! (Oh, and I JUST finished the book… I’m NOT an Amy.  Not even close.)

Clare

Flirting: A How To Guide

One day earlier this spring, a dog walker I passed (a tall, but average looking dude who I wasn’t terribly interested in), commented on my sunglasses. I wasn’t sure if he was flirting or not. I already knew that I wasn’t interested, but afraid to engage or lead him on, I didn’t flirt back. But why didn’t I?  Flirting is harmless, especially in open spaces and either during the day or in the company of others. It makes you feel good, it makes them feel good… so why is it underrated, complicated, and only allowed if you’re romantically interested in the person you’re flirting with? Why has it become a taboo or just a subject that isn’t discussed?

Well, this will be no more. All right, y’all, lets dissect flirting. EVERYONE loves to be flirted with, no matter what. Even if you’re not interested, you can admit that having someone throw out a flirtation in your general direction is always a wonderful feeling. Why? Because everyone loves to be acknowledged that they’re sexy.

Why am I going on about this? Because, generally women don’t take compliments or flirting well—because we’re afraid that we’ll have to put up with whatever comes after, and you’re just not what we’re looking for. Men sometimes don’t quite get how to flirt without being so aggressive. Everyone should be aware of the fact that sometimes whomever is sending forth the flirt isn’t always looking for more. In fact, the best flirts, are flirting ONLY FOR THE MOMENT with no goal other than to flirt. I have friends call me out all the time for flirting with the waiter or waitress… I’m a heterosexual woman, but I’m not above or below flirting with anyone. In fact, I flirt with babies like crazy!

In the 80’s there was a movie called My Blue Heaven, in which the character played by Steve Martin has a philosophy of: I tip everybody, and its not tipping I believe in, its over tipping. Basically, the character is not afraid to palm anyone a bill to get what he wants. I have the generally same feeling about flirting. Why not just do it with everyone?! You never know the benefits you’ll reap!

What if you don’t know how to flirt, if you think you’re bad at flirting, if you enjoy being flirted with, if you enjoy flirting. My answer to all of these is: why not do it? In a way flirting is kind of a “pay it forward” action. What? Yup. Think about it: I flirt with you. You feel good, sexy, handsome, and have a high feeling about yourself, you’re going to flirt with someone else to see how far you can stretch that feeling, and without knowing it you’re giving someone else the happy, high on life feeling, too.

When it comes to flirting, there are some easy guidelines to follow. Seriously, try this out first on people that you don’t really care about an outcome with, or people you won’t see again—that way if you crash and burn, you will feel embarrassment for a moment and then can move on.

Seeking women—shoes, earrings, hair, face, and the hand/wrist area are always good safe places to flirt about. Aka—that bracelet makes your eyes sparkle. Your earrings give you a statuesque look. Those shoes make you a perfect height. And yes, they can be that silly.

Seeking men—compliments and flirting about a man’s height and strength are always appreciated. Again, stay away initially from sexual body parts. This isn’t to say you can’t add a sexy tone to anything you say, just overt sexual flirts will return you with overt sexual overtures or the person running away. So, stay neutral in your flirts—at least for now.

When receiving flirtation, stop yourself if your sizing up the person. Seriously, stop. Pretend the flirt is a compliment and only a compliment. How would you take it or feel if I just said—hey, you look great in that color! Think about it. Now how would you respond to me? Most likely, it’s a genuine and simple, “thank you” with a smile attached. A flirt is really just a compliment of you being alive and in this spot at this moment. Really. Take it as just that. Smile. Be happy to be appreciated. If you feel like reciprocating, do.

Flirting is simple and fun. Keep it easy. Keep it light. Keep doing it daily! You’ll feel more confident and people around you will to. Just remember to keep it appropriate in places you frequent, and pay attention to social cues—if its unwanted, stop with that person and move on. Don’t take it personally. Flirting is fun. It should be easy, and if you’re not good at it, practice for a while. Hey, you could even do a Joey/Rachel situation and sit around with a group of friends and flirt with each other to see what works and what doesn’t. (“How you doin’?) And if all else fails, say something and smile and wink. (Go ahead, practice in the mirror first… I won’t tell.)

Clare

If you’re looking for more on this subject, check out our book out this fall!  Stay tuned for more details!