divorce, kids, writing

Walking in Water.

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Trudging along making a splash.

It’s a funny thing about beginning a novel. Sometimes you swim, sometimes you’re in over your head, and sometimes you have a slog for a while before you make that splash.

The trick of course, is enjoying it all. Being creative comes easily to me, it’s what I do. It might be cooking, or acting, or planting seeds, or producing a film, or helping my charity raise money—all of them are worthy pursuits as far as I’m concerned. But creating something new, something memorable, and most importantly, something that touches people can be as elusive as the Loch Ness monster. You’re pretty sure it’s down there but you can’t prove it…yet.

I find myself here again. I have an idea that I love, I’m inspired to do something with it. The characters are there, but mostly still in the green room waiting to go on, or trying on outfits in wardrobe. The story is forming and changing and messing with me even as it emerges, but it’s not solid yet. It’s like that dream I have where I’m back on The Young and the Restless, due on set in an  hour and no one has my script for the day. And that’s not a bad thing. Without all the floundering around and wrong turns, my story would be a simple repeat of paths and roles I and others have taken before. To find something new, you must wander, you must get lost, you must drown just a little.

The trick is not to panic. I won’t say to just keep your head above water, because that would mean you miss all the colorful coral and currents that run below. Diving deeper is often good, just don’t get indulgent and pass out before you see light again. And here’s what liberates me.

I can delete it all. Or just some of it. I can divorce an idea or a portion of it and keep custody of the kids. I do this often. I must have written a dozen novels that have never yet seen the bedside lamp of a reader or the screen of a Nook, but they are still there for me. They weren’t wasted. There’s no accounting for what an editor will like, or a publisher feel they need in their fall line up, much less what the reading ‘public’ will deign to declare ‘popular.’ If I could guess that, I’d work less and be bored more.

But producing the predictable is a life poorly lived as far as I’m concerned. Long ago I gave up doing what people thought I should do and started living my own life, and since then it’s been brilliant. Sure there are tough times, setting a good example for your kids isn’t always easy in this materialistic world. One example would be a father taking their ex to court to cut his child support, not contributing to his children’s college education, but somehow being able to afford his expensive luxury car and his multiple houses. I can’t tell you how many women go through this kind of thing.  I’ve served on enough juries to know that the decisions in any given case has a great deal to do with the judge’s whim. I was sued by a lawyer who hit me on a motorcycle and produced a fake witness, etc, only to find out later that the judge was presiding at the lawyer’s wedding two weeks after the trial!   My husband and I have chosen to put money away for college for our girls, and I’m proud and glad to do it! It’s a value that’s more important to me than the showier aspects of life. In spite of all the world’s stress and confusion and profusion of questionable priorities, in the end I’m still able to give my daughters what they need, and I don’t mind what some would call ‘sacrifices’ because I don’t believe I’m missing out on anything. I try to set the example of being the kind of person I want them to be and that’s all that matters. It’s not a hardship to clean my own house, weed my garden, pay my bills, and be the evil, dictator mom when I make my youngest participate in her class trip. I could do without that last bit, but payback is hell. I was a horror at her age.

I love what I do and I choose it, but that doesn’t mean I wander around in a cloud of creative bliss without having to deal with insane legal fees or the not so far-fetched fear that one of my children will be shot while they are at school. It doesn’t mean that projects flow effortlessly from me. I’m in all that too, but I found out long ago that I could do with a lot less. I’ve come to realize that what I really let go of was needing people to envy me, needing to compete with anyone else. Hell, I rejoice for other people now and guess how much more often I get to win? My friend’s book hits the NY Times best seller list, and I feel genuine pride in her accomplishment! A kid in my daughter’s volleyball game tells the ref that the ball was out, even though it costs her team a point, and I rejoice that she has that character. I see someone vastly overweight taking a walk and I’m prouder of them than an olympic athlete. It just makes me happy to root for others.

Recently I had what I consider to be one of my greatest personal successes. My younger daughter is a good student, very bright, exceptionally talented in many ways, but she doesn’t push herself to stand out or excel more than others. She’s one of those whose simple effort gets her good grades and she’ll land in a great college of her choice, but I was raised to excel dammit! Challenge yourself, try harder, be disappointed if you don’t improve!! If you don’t stand out, you disappear, and many other dysfunctional etcs. But at a meeting with a very wise teacher of my daughter’s, I voiced my concern that she wasn’t putting herself forward and his answer was awesome.

When I said I didn’t understand why she didn’t push herself more, he looked me in the eye and said, “Because her ego does not require it.”

Wow. I was miserable and competitive into my thirties, and my sixteen year old already has it down.

I’m gonna’ take credit for that, because…why not? I love winning when everybody does. I’m no longer fond of winning if someone has to lose. That sucks. I want to enable and encourage people, not put them down to feel better about myself.

So, I’ll be patient, I’ll slog along in the ankle deep, ice water of a new story, finding humor and pain in the human condition and a fun way to tell it. And I’ll do it with a smile on my face. I really am happy now, whether the novel comes in this form or another, whether my life takes one turn or several, whether my daughter is exhausting me or exalting me, I’m on the path I want to be on.

And look how pretty the water is when it arcs and splashes, listen to the swoosh and music of the waves and droplets.

Write them, feel them, be them.

Shari, October 4th, 2015

Acting & Experiences, creative inspiration, Entertainment, family, writers, writing

The Funny Scary Thing.

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My beast husband and I fooling around on a shoot for a movie poster idea.

Usually I try to include some helpful information in my blog, be it for acting, mothering, partnering or writing. Today I’m just going to tell a story, take from it what you will. It is, in a convoluted way, an explanation of how we function as storytellers.

I’m terrible with years, but it must have been around 1978. I was 17, my sisters were 14 and 8 when we took a family trip to Hawaii. My brother doesn’t figure into this because he always had his own room, sort of. With three younger sisters, very little is sacred, which explains the padlock on his bedroom door at home, but that’s another story.

So we’re in Maui, we’ve rented a condo facing the beach and coconut groves and my sisters and I are in one of the bedrooms, it’s one of those two queen bed affairs with the floor unit air conditioner under the window next to sliding glass doors. There’s a small patio outside the doors, and a table and chair next to the air conditioner.

Being teenagers, my sister and I quickly grow bored with the family hang out, so we find out that about a mile down the beach there is a twin-plex movie theatre. We check the movies and discover that “Junglebook 2” is playing. We decide that, as well as a little independence, this will be an evening well spent.

After the hour long application of makeup and hair fluffing, (because that’s important when you are going to a movie theatre to sit in the dark when there’s no one there you know) we head out, following the instructions from a local. It’s a lovely, late tropical afternoon and we are in silly, giggly high spirits, everywhere around us is beauty and we are grown up enough to go out un-chaperoned. Fourteen and seventeen, who needs pesky parents?

Just outside our condo, we walk through the coconut groves. The wind is playfully tossing the big wide leaves of the palm trees making a lovely, friendly whispering noise, like happy secrets being shared. Big silly crows caw at us from the fronds, comic and brazen, making us laugh. We reach the beach and turn left. The gentle roll of perfect waves with sunlight streaming through them comforts and serenades us as we walk down the beach. Confident, fearless and giddy with freedom, we reach the theatre and go to the ticket desk. Sadly, Jungle Book 2 is sold out and there is only one other choice.

Damian, Omen 2. Da da da dum.

Oh, what the heck, we came all this way and the option is to go back home and sit around reading or playing cards. So we buy the tickets and go into what will always remain to me, the scariest movie I have ever seen. If you know the Omen movies, then you know that there is always an animal portent of death. In the first movie it’s Dobermans, in the second it’s big black ravens. I spend most of the movie with my hands over my eyes as people die violent, creative deaths and there is no way to save them from the spawn of Satan. My sister doesn’t cover her eyes because her hands are too busy digging her fingernails into my arm. The movie thoroughly and officially freaks us out. When the lights come up, we’re shaky, but like, hey, it’s just a movie, right?

So we leave the theatre. Moving from the brightness and colors and crowds of the lobby into a dark, deserted and overcast night on the beach. No sunlight sparkles on aqua blue water, it is silver black and menacing. The clouds hang low and ominous as though supported by the thick, humid air. Clutching each other and alert for otherworldly evil, we start along the sand, each roll of waves grasping toward us like dark fingers that break and crash with malevolent intent. Breathing shallowly, hunched together, on full alert, we make it to the coconut grove.

We move through the terrifying swooshing sounds of the threatening fronds shaking and hissing threateningly above us. Suddenly, a crow cries out and we scream, breaking into a run, covering our heads before our eyes are plucked out by the heinous messengers of darkness.

Finally, the glow of light from the condo windows, our parents, safety. We rush in and tell them how afraid we were. Being the concerned, loving parents they are, they laugh at us.

Once we settle down, everyone goes to bed. We all change into nightgowns. I remember my sister had a long nightgown, white cotton and full, I had a short one. My two little sisters are in the bed closest to the sliding doors and I am in the one near the bathroom. We have left the sliding glass door open, our parents are nearby, so we don’t need to board up the windows and put out crosses, a gentle breeze filters through into the room. The screen door is locked and the white sheer curtains are drawn.

Much later I am wakened by the need to use the restroom. I check the semi-darkness carefully for demons, I’m far from sure it’s safe, but I decide to risk it.

I get up and scuttle the few feet to the bathroom, turning on the light as I close the door.

Now, what I don’t know is that when I turn on the bathroom light, it wakes my sister and the wind has stilled so the room is stuffy and over-warm. While I’m in the bathroom, she gets up out of the bed, half-sleepwalks to the chair next to the air conditioner and turns it on. She’s enjoying the cold air on her face, so she leans her head against the wall and falls asleep in the chair.

Very cautiously, I open the bathroom door and peer out. The room looks clear of hell’s minions, I do not notice my sister in the dimness, where she sleeps motionless in her white nightgown by the sheer curtains of the same color. I start back for my bed, tiptoeing to keep from waking the three headed dogs, and I’m halfway there when my movement wakes my sister.

Three things happened at once: a sudden, strong wind blows, sending the white sheer curtains streaming inward toward me which wakes my sister, who stands up and walks toward me.

From being sure the room is still and unoccupied by anything other than my sisters in the next bed, what I now see is a ghostly figure in white gliding toward me out of the billowing curtains, hands at its sides, zombie-like, bearing down, directly toward me. An electric shock of horror freezes my bones, and I leap for the bed, exclaiming “Oh my God,” except that my petrifying fear renders me incapable of pronunciation, so it comes out more like a throaty, quavering, “Oh ma ga!” I dive under the covers, heart beating and blood pounding, unable to speak, scream, or hear. I yank the thin cotton sheet over my head, because, as we all know, thin cotton will protect you from the devil.

Within seconds, the room is flooded with light and my mother is standing in the doorway, my father’s 6’4” frame behind her. “What is going on?” she cries, concerned. In the light, I sit up to see my sister standing looking groggy in the middle of the room and I know I’ve been snatched from the gates of Biblical mythology come to suck the life blood from my soul.

It takes a minute to explain and figure it out, then being the loving, protective family they are, they have a good long laugh at my expense.

They still laugh at me today, and this story of my cowardice is now one of my daughter’s favorites. Especially the “Oh mah Ga,” part, which makes them howl with laughter at my ridiculousness. I guess it’s genetic.

But let me tell you something. I learned a little something about what the power of suggestion will do to you that day.

And I still don’t like scary movies. I can make them, but I don’t like to watch them.

Whatever you feel and experience, it goes through your imagination and experience filters. Be careful what you let in, lest it fester until you make a complete fool of yourself.

And that applies to so many things.

Did I mention that I’ve learned to love crows?

Shari, August 20th, 2015

Life in General

My Inner Vixen

Feeling good.
Feeling good and living it.

This one is hard to start. As a woman who grew up being considered traditionally ‘sexy’ (blonde hair, green eyes, long legs, etc) I had to deal with attention from men from a very early age. I hit the cover of Playboy when I was 17, (my mom signed a release). But when they asked me to do a centerfold, I refused. As a model, the cover was fine, a modeling job, but being ‘a playmate’ was just too much of a stereo type, one of crowd, not for me.

I spent a good bit of time in Europe and the Virgin Islands where my family had a home when I was growing up. Even at ten and twelve, when I was a competitive ice skater in training in Switzerland and France, all the young skaters shared a dressing room. I remember being shocked to see boys stripping down to their underwear to change, but quickly got used to it. It was just what they did, not a sexual action. Around the pool in St Croix, or at the beach, pretty much no one in my family or circle of friends wore a top, and it felt completely natural. In my opinion, Americans are far too puritanical about nudity, which causes a inordinate amount of sexual frustration and worse. But there is a difference between comfortable nudity, meaning self-image, and portraying yourself as a sexual object.

I’ve done plenty of nudity in films, it’s true. But I have never, ever been the chick who takes her top off, and that’s all. If I liked the role as an actress, if there was a challenge for me, then I wasn’t afraid of nudity, though I do remember having to fight with directors who wanted to make a rape scene into a sexual thing with nudity. It isn’t, and I wouldn’t do it. The bottom line for nudity in movies for me is this—if I’m playing a part I want, and a love scene comes up, I have to act it just like anything else.

Once, in class, another actress was working on a scene from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’. She was trying to play the sexy Maggie, and it just wasn’t working even though she was absolutely gorgeous. The coach, a wonderful director named David Beaird, was working with her and she was having trouble getting away from being self-concious. So I raised my hand and said, “Can I tell her something?”

David looked up and me and laughed. “Shari Shattuck wants to help with being sexy, come on down.”

I went down onto the stage and whispered in the girl’s ear. “It’s not about ‘acting’ sexy, it’s about ‘feeling‘ sexy. You have to feel turned on.” She looked at me, blinked, said, “Oh,” and started the scene again. She crawled over the table and slithered across the other actor, her voice had dropped an octave and she was in total command, and everyone in the theatre was speechless.

David turned to me again and said, “What the hell did you say to her?” I still haven’t heard the last about that from David.

The entire point is this. There is nothing sexier than a woman in love who is into a man. Or a woman into a woman, or man with man, or man with a woman, whatever. My point is that sexiness comes from within. Sure, some greased up playmate in a bikini with her thumbs in her panties, about to pull them down, creates a sexy visual image, I could have done that for a living for quite a few years, as many women do, but it isn’t real passion, it’s just icing on a cardboard cake.

I’m fifty-four years old now, and I’ve never felt more sexy. I adore my husband who makes sure that every single day, I knows that I’m the best thing for him. Talk about great foreplay! I’m pretty much ready to throw him down anytime.

I have many author friends who write erotica, and I really respect what they do. I know the people who read it, love it! And I’ve heard statistics that women who read romance or erotica are something like 80 times more likely to have sex, and this is why…they get turned on!! Go figure. It isn’t about dressing up in lingerie (though that can be fun) or flavored body gels, (which are sticky) it’s about being into and sharing the physical and emotional experience.

Because that’s what a vixen is, a woman who’s in it for the sheer joy and pleasure, and gives as good as she gets. She’s an artist. It’s the same for men, though I don’t have a name for it.

I know this isn’t a particularly life-changing blog, but I do think it’s important. So many of my friends have been in marriages a long time, are going through body changes, have too much to do taking care of work and kids and houses, and they get lost from that part of themselves.

So here’s my advice for today, rediscover your inner vixen, or your truly sexual male self, I’m not going to discriminate. Find it in yourself, not outside, that’s where the real joy is. Share it with someone worthy, try something new with an old mate, just feel sexy!!

And then curl up on the sofa in your pjs and eat ice cream and kiss a lot. That’s my plan.

Shari, May 24th, 2015

acting, Entertainment, film, makeup, mental illness, movies, New Novels, schizophrenia

Sometimes I Scare Myself.

Not my best day. photo by John Dlugolecki

This image of me is a work of art featuring makeup by an incredible artist named Devan Weitzman.  I realized when I looked at this picture, how my priorities have changed over the last trio of decades, and all I have to say is…what a relief!

I spent my teen years as a competitive ice skater, so I understood that hard work, and artistic ability were things that fulfilled me, that moved and motivated me. But then the day came when modeling, and then commercials, became my bread and butter, my entire value was suddenly based on how I looked, not necessarily by me, but by the people with whom I worked. In that business, it was a somewhat understandable—if horrible—place to have your self-worth centered. I remember how important it was to always look ‘sexy’ and ‘attractive.’ I was proud to be the one on the cover of the magazines, on the billboard, or the one who turned heads when I walked through a restaurant. I was proud, because it’s all I had to be proud of then. Without realizing it, I became more and more discontent, distressed, and unfulfilled. But, of course, since I had what others wanted, I was not allowed to express any unhappiness. I didn’t even understand that I was unhappy, and certainly not why.

And then I went on a remarkable photo shoot.

There was a model in Atlanta, I cannot remember her name! because she was a few years ahead of me. When I was starting out, she was winding down. I’d heard about her, and seen her picture everywhere, but we had never worked together. Then one day we were booked to do a swimwear ad featuring us on a bicycle built for two. We shot together, and then each had a turn alone. I was so interested, (and yes, invidiously so) to see why everyone thought she was so great. I was ‘a model with a brain’ so I was well known for using the area, theme, space, movement, and being creative, but I always, of course, focused on looking ‘good.’ So I took my turn and then she was up. I stood in the dark behind the photographer to watch and learn, like the Chinese stealing trade secrets.

She did a few shots of standard smiling or pouting poses and then she did something that shocked me. She pretended to have slipped and hit her crotch on the cross bar, and she did this ugly, ugly, pained face.

And it was fabulous!! In that silly moment, I realized that there was so much more to being a contributing talent than just looking ‘good.’ It was clear to me that because she was less inhibited, she was just plain better at it than me!

Now, no one’s ever accused me of being inhibited, mind you, that was just a step up to being able to see the value of being a character, instead of a face/body.   A realization, in fact, that ‘unattractive’ could be brilliant!! That producing something from the inside out was far more rewarding. And—here’s the secret—It’s much more fun!!! When I came to LA, I deliberately worked on characters in class like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, or one of the witches from Macbeth. And it was really terrifying for me, as it would be for so many women and girls who equate ‘ugly’ with bad. We who were told when we raised our voices, or argued with authority, that we were ‘acting ugly.’ And God forbid we were deemed unattractive by a society that worships beauty.

Taking my ‘ugly’ characters out in public showed me how differently people treated me, though i was the same person inside, and that inspired me to write “Invisible Ellen.”

Thankfully, things are changing, women are increasingly being valued for who they are and what they do, but we have a long way to go. And girls, you all need to get on board! Don’t let men make you compete with yourself or others, and instead of tearing other women down, build them up!! Root for them, cheer for them, chant their name as they go in on the same audition as you are! After all, we’re all on the same team, and isn’t it great to celebrate a thousand victories than to hoard a few of your own and resent everyone else’s?

Theater and acting helped me change my center of self-worth. I was desperate for substance and creativity as opposed to surface appearance. I learned to work in a company, a group, be a part of a whole, and be proud of my talent and hard work instead of my blonde hair and athletic body. I got my worth back.

And now, full circle. In “Scream at the Devil” I play a schizophrenic who is anything but concerned about her looks. She recedes into madness until she’s terrified by every sound and flash of light, and that is what’s important.

“Scream at the Devil” opens Oct 24th at the North Hollywood Laemmle, and plays through Halloween. If you want to check out the theatre page and watch the trailer to see just how far down I can get, here you go— http://www.laemmle.com/films/38650

This character and her pain aren’t pretty, and that’s why I’m so proud of it.

And now I am happy.

Shari, October 9th, 2014

Acting & Experiences, creating character, creative inspiration, mental illness, writing

Trigger Happy

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Did you know you have pathways in your brain? Learned reactions to physical and mental stimuli? Isn’t that fascinating?

Here’s how it works. When your senses perceive something, (and perceive is the operative word, as we all perceive things differently) Certain chemical and electrical responses trigger in you brain and receptors open up, creating a kind of path that becomes the path most traveled. These receptors create different physical results, fear, tension in the neck, nausea, well-being, whatever it may be. We learn these responses, in fact, we memorize them, and if we don’t alter them, we loose the ability to take the path less traveled.

Now, I’ve reduced this to a ridiculously simplified version of the science, but being neither a physicist nor a neurosurgeon, I have to use the cliff notes, as it were. And here’s where it gets interesting for writers, actors, and well…humans.

For both writers and actors, these reactions to stimuli are what we would call ‘character traits.’ As an actor, you can use this to develop a much more rounded character to fill out your role. As a writer, you can actually explain, or intimate how past reactions control your character now.

For a human, to change those patterns we have to un-program and retrain ourselves. And this is difficult, we’re dealing with long term chemical and behavioral training. Pavlov’s emotions, let’s call them. In the case of the famous doctor, he would ring a bell, and the dog salivates. In someone who was abused as a child, the sound of people shouting may trigger an intense panic that has nothing to do with the actual situation at hand.

Our triggers are many, but every once in a while, we hit one that rests at our core. For me, the idea that I never can do enough, be good enough, that I should have to take care of everyone and everything that comes up, and if I don’t, I’m not good enough, that I’ve failed, is a biggie. Of course, it’s impossible, I’ve set the stakes too high to ever win at that one, so that particular ‘bell’ is no longer useful to me. This response is too ingrained to fix with conscious reasoning, knowing I have this issue doesn’t stop the reaction. I’m a puppet and the strings are tight.

So I went to someone who could help. I worked with a woman who does a procedure called ‘tapping.’ She is a therapist, and versions of this therapy are used to help soldiers with PTSD and people with childhood traumas. We talk about what the frustration or feeling is, identify where it is in my body, name it, and then she proceeds to talk about it, by having me repeat and reaffirm a different thought process while ‘tapping’ at different random spots on my face, hands and arms. The tapping interrupts the programmed response, allowing new pathways to open.

It was amazing. And I think it helped me quite a bit. But the point of this blog is to talk about those pathways and how they define characters, just as they define us as people. Isn’t that what we want from our performance or our fictional characters? I know I want them to ring as true as possible, and to be distinct from each other.

Let’s take some examples. Let’s say I’m playing a character who has a certain phobia, say, fear of dogs. Now, something, at some time, triggered and trained this character to behave that way. So, when I create my history of the character, (and this is acting homework, it has nothing to do with what is written in the script) I would include one or more experiences where I was bitten or other wise frightened by canines, and my body learned the response of breaking into a sweat and tensing for battle every time I hear a dog bark.

Or…let’s say….I’m writing a character in a book who is loving and motherly. I create a history for her where she grew up around lots of siblings and extended family and there was constant laughter and noise. This woman would sit at a restaurant and hear children bickering at the next table and it would create a real warmth in her chest because her conditioned response to the sound is happiness and safety.

Those are simple examples, but do you see how this kind of thing is influencing your life? How can you use mental triggers to round out your characters? Try an exercise where you have two people meet, and they both have very different reactions to something that happens to them. If you stick with the ‘why’ they behave this way, you will find that they are distinct from each other, and it will open new avenues of how they understand, misinterpret, or relate with each other.

This process will also help you deal with difficult people in your life. On of the hardest things to do is to not take it personally when other people treat you badly. But it isn’t about you, it’s about them.

When people can sense the restrictions that their emotional past puts on them, they can sometimes, through exploring it deeply and feeling it fully, change it. This is called an epiphany, and it is one of the peaks of a character driven story. And that is a very useful tool. But stay aware, it’s not going to happen just because someone else tells them they are wrong. Oh no. People will die rather than be wrong, so they will fight to justify and prove they are right, even if it means continuing to be deeply unhappy. People have to come to life-changing revelations on their own, from inside.

So for today, be quiet for a moment and feel what’s going on inside, then ask yourself what that is, the first answer will not be the one, keep asking, and you’ll find it. Then notice how that reaction, physical sensation responds to different situations as you go about your day.

Fascinating stuff. I love acting and writing, but mostly I love being human and connecting with others. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all understood the strings that bind and control us, because only then can we cut them and braid a stronger connection with ourselves and others.

If you stick with this, not only will your characters fill out, but you will begin the process of understanding that greatest paradigm in your life. You—and all that has gone into making you unique.

Hey, maybe you should write your story!

Shari, September 11, 2014

Acting & Experiences, Entertainment, family, Life in General, men, New Novels, parenting, Theatre, writing

Who am I NOW?

As the evil disney queen in a book video a few months ago. It suits me.
As the evil disney queen in a book video a few months ago. It suits me, fantasy and literature.

Who am I now?

I haven’t been on my website for a week or so or posted anything new, and so I was surprised to see that I had 3000 hits in a single day hits a few days ago. This was, to quote Zoolander when his message machine tells him he has 12 hundred messages, “A little above average.” and I wondered why.

Sure, I have a new book out and “Invisible Ellen” is doing pretty nicely, but that couldn’t be it. And then I remembered that my girls told me my ex had done this show called “Celebrity Wife Swap,” and I thought, “Oh, it must have aired.” I knew about the show, but only because he and his wife had wanted the girls to be on it, which caused some friction, but my daughters had the sense and the backbone to refuse. Neither of my daughters are fans of ‘reality’ TV, and—though admittedly I’ve never watched CWS—that show seems…uh, let’s just say…not exactly creme of the crop, and they didn’t want to be associated with it. Bless their classy little hearts.

Now, I didn’t see the show, don’t ever intend to, so maybe it’s a steaming pile of art and I would be sorry to have missed it, but my instinct tells me no.  I have never once looked at either my ex’s or his wife’s websites and I definitely steer away from anything involving them in social media, (I know, I know, I’m writing this, but I’m trying to make a point!) I know I won’t like what I see, so why go looking for it? To be honest, I don’t really know them, and have only the barest of contact since he announced with a smug smile that he wouldn’t be contributing to college, then drove away in his Porsche. He tells a different story, no doubt in his public version of himself and has an image of himself to maintain, as many people do, but I deal with the reality, usually damage control, and that’s plenty. I do my best to disassociate from that whole, publicist-generated, artificial world version 2.0.

So it interests me that people would see that wife swap show and look me up. It’s a weird interconnected web out there. It feels remote to me and my everyday life. I think of how I’ve tried to focus my life away from that kind of negativity and on doing work that is worthwhile to me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t work on a show for the money if i really needed it, the key to avoiding that is to keep your cost of living down so that having to prostitute yourself is kept at a minimum. From someone who once starred in “Death Spa” that may seem a bit bogus, but hey, things have changed.

You see, at first you want the things that everyone else envies, I don’t know why, but that’s often what our society teaches is desirable. You want to be sexy, and famous, and beautiful and rich, and then you grow up and want to be valued for something real. Well, some of us do anyway, others get caught in the cycle. For me, after living by my looks modeling in New York and ending up a cocaine addict, which I beat myself at 22, I had to come to terms with the fact that being valued for what is on the outside is very, very lonely and untrue. Then I wanted to be famous, because that impresses people, right? But when I got a dose of that, It just felt just strange. When many people meet someone they’ve seen on TV or film immediately there is a veil, an artificial wall, that separates you because they think you are something you are not and, falsely, feel different from you. I hated that. You give up privacy and often even the ability to spend time in public with your family comfortably. I’ve had people put their kid in my lap while I was eating at a restaurant and start video taping. I love meeting new people, but that was just invasive, (especially since I was eating spinach). Now I have many wonderful friends, who I first met as ‘fans’, don’t get me wrong, but there is a difference between meeting people on an equal footing, and people wanting to document meeting you as a trophy for being on a show or in a movie that you don’t even think is very good.

That didn’t feel right to me. It’s lovely to have people like and respect your work, and name recognition as a novelist is important as well as for an actor, but when you have to constantly pretend to be what you’ve created, meaning some kind of public persona, it is, for all but a few, confusing to the point of soul-crushing. Egos get all out of whack. But I did love acting, the art of it, making an audience breath together or laugh as one, and since the film and TV roles of quality weren’t coming to me, I turned to theatre where I’ve done my best work, respected the writing and myself, and felt the joy of working with an artistic community that betters the many, instead of the few.

And writing has always been my first love. Though I’m proud of all of my books, I don’t think there’s any question that “Invisible Ellen” is the kind of book I’ve always wanted to write. Hopefully, it’s original, funny, heartwarming, and uplifting. Those are qualities I feel good about.

So, one day soon, maybe I’ll get thirty thousand hits on my website because my new book, “Emerging Ellen” is hitting the stores. I certainly hope so, but for me, that’s a different kind of attention, one I can spread around and share. Oh, and it would go a long way toward helping me pay for private school and college, which would be lovely, and for my charity as well. Meanwhile, I’ll drive my used Ford Escape Hybrid, give what I can, and laugh and love with my girls and my family, support my friends’ many endeavors and try to create something new and worth reading or watching.

Because that’s who I am now.

Who do you want to be? Go get ’em baby.

 

Shari, July 25th, 2014

 

 

 

 

Life in General

The Lull before the Storm.

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And we’re off to see new places, meet new people, and have new adventures!

The lull and the storm. I love them both. With a new book and a film coming out I find myself suddenly required to leave my personal lull and calm of writing and venture back out into the world of traffic, airports, hotels, and a slew of new people. When my primary career was acting, I spent far too many hours pursuing the job instead of doing what I loved, acting. There was endless driving, classes, auditions, interviews, schmoozing, photo shoots, travel, and every single day—judgement and rejection. The career of acting is pretty much a constant flurry of activity, much of it frustrating and distasteful, followed by days of anxiety and waiting. There were days when I was worn so thin that I was tempted to go home, climb into my closet with a good book and a pillow and shut the door.

Then, when my second daughter was born, I shifted into writing so that I could be there for them. Other that the soap opera, which was, frankly, the easiest job I ever had, acting is a very difficult career on family. 16 hour shoot days and months on location do not make it easy to show up at your kid’s school play, much less be involved on a daily basis in their lives, and that wasn’t a choice I wanted to make. Writing gave me the leisure to work on my own schedule. And writing is solitary and frictionless for the most part. I can work for hours every day and never feel as though I’ve been frayed down into something as thin as dental floss by exchanges with rude, insensitive people or abrasive personalities.

But now, I’m off on a new adventure, and I cannot do it from the peaceful haven of my living room. I need people, we all do. I need my agent, my editor and her team, my publishers, the cover designers, copy-editors, the crew, my co-producers, the list goes on and on. Though novel writing may give the illusion of self-containment, it is only that, an illusion. In truth, there is a team of people who make it happen.

Doubly so for a film. The actual shooting days for a film are the smallest fraction of work involved, and now that we are almost through with post production, special effects, music, sound, etc, the time has come to get it out there. Though choosing a crew and a team give me the option to work with people I like and respect, promoting your product is a different story.

And that means…traffic, airports, hotels, and people I don’t know yet. And while that’s wonderful, I know it will take it’s toll, both physically and mentally. While I’m pretty good with dealing with most humans, I have a very low snapping point for rudeness, unfairness, and stupidity. Things it’s hard not to run into when you are traveling.

So here we go. Reminder to self—deep breath, manners, patience, and acceptance.

It’s the same with everything. As our world expands, and the population explodes, we come into contact with more and more people, many of whom have vastly different opinions and points of view from our own, and a select few of which just plain won’t like you. Social media has added a whole new level to this, with people we never meet being sometime lovely and supportive, and sometimes just plain belligerent and cruel. So how do we deal with those unknown factors without becoming angry, bitter, and rude? In other words, the very people we most despise?

Here’s what I’ve found—Questions work better than negation. “Do you really believe that I’m that unintellegent?” rather than, “At least I’m not squatting while grooming fleas off the rest of my family.”  Manners work better than rudeness. “I’m sorry you’re having a bad day.” as opposed to, “You call yourself a waitress? Bitch my soup is cold!”

I have discovered that almost anyone can be diffused with a kind word, or an acknowledgment of their own strife, unless they are sociopaths. Just as an argument with a significant other can only be settled when we learn to say “I can understand how that must feel,” and  mean it, you’ll be sleeping on the sofa under a throw blanket. Accepting that someone else has a different point of view from yours can lessen the stress over a confrontation. Except for sociopaths, in that case, I recommend running away. But run backwards so they can’t hit you with a brick while your back is turned.

We all need people. No matter how talented, perfect, caring or admired you are, there is someone else who is better than you at something else. It’s the ‘village’ philosophy. At some point in our modern society, we’ve developed the fantasy that we can exist without others, specifically others who are different from us, this is fundamentally wrong.

As humans, we survived against amazing odds because we learned to work as a team, a tribe. Some hunted, some gathered, some watched for danger, some raised the children, built the fires, etc. That survival technique is built into our DNA. The fact is, we still do this, taking on a required task in our structured society. Now we just call it a ‘career choice.’ When we ignore this fundamental need to connect with and rely on others, we feel desperately lonely and afraid, but we don’t understand why.

And when there’s a disagreement, or friction, watch out. It upsets you to deal with confrontation? Join the club. Nobody likes it, except maybe the sociopaths who, by definition, feel nothing because they have little or no conscious. But maybe it can help if you remember this.

The science of thought has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Here’s a fun fact to know and tell. Every single second, our brain is hammered with over 11,000,000 bits of sensory information. But our poor brains can only absorb and assimilate 40 of those impressions. We select which information to keep based our history and sensory preferences. For instance some people (almost all men, by the way) are primarily visual, (they remember and react to what they see) others (many women) are more auditory, (they remember what they hear) and some (me) are kinesthetic, meaning that we react to what we physically feel, (I remember and respond to body language and motions). So we each select what we perceive.

This is exactly why you can have an argument with a wife, husband or a co-worker, and both of you will remember the situation completely differently, and both of you can be absolutely sure, swear-on-your-life sure, that you are right.

You are. And so is she. Or he.

Let’s review. 11 million stimuli….reduced to 40 consciously acknowledged. Could it be possible, just maybe, that we might miss something that someone else saw, heard or otherwise perceived? Mmmm.

So I’m giving myself this advise before venturing out into the big ol’ cruel world. Be patient. Be kind. Be forgiving and accepting. Maybe that rude person is just having a really bad day.

And just in case, wear shoes with really good traction.

Shari, October 12th, 2013.

Life in General

It’s All in the Details.

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On set with Tony Todd, a great actor who understands.

It’s all the same. In acting, writing, life, the real indicators, the emotional movers, the things that forward the story and touch our hearts are the little things. 

Here’s an example. The scene above from “Scream at the Devil” was a culmination scene. That means of course, that a great deal leads up to it. This scene begins with Detective Johnson, played by Tony Todd, finding me huddled, trembling and emotionally destroyed in a small closet. What leads up to it is a night of delusion and horror that have reduced me, and my mental health, to a quivering glutenous mass. My home is completely destroyed, everything in it is upside down, closets are emptied, dishes are broken, suffice to say that when Det. Johnson’s parter, (played by Kiko Ellsworth) comments. “She’s not much of a housekeeper, but we can’t arrest her for that!” he is making the understatement of the film. (And he’s really funny.) 

So that’s the set up. Now,  as they can’t find any evidence of a crime other than destruction of my own home by me, they have to go. But Det Johnson is not convinced, he sees a woman who is truly afraid of something. He sits down to try to talk me into leaving with him, to getting help, but I refuse. I cannot go back to a mental institution. 

Following the script, we act out the scene, I tell him I won’t, can’t, leave, he gives me his numbers, and tells me to call him if I need anything. Then he stands to go. 

Then he does something that was not in the script. He pauses, looks around at the devastation that is my living room, then leans down, picks up a candleholder on its side on the coffee table, sets it up right, gives me a sad but hopeful smile, and heads for the door. 

And I began to weep.

This film was very emotional for me, so I was already very raw, but that simple move, that small action of righting something in a world so topsy turvy, just said so much. He didn’t say, “If you clean this place up, you’ll feel better.” He didn’t get out the vacuum cleaner, he didn’t do or state anything obvious, just that small, simple kindness that illustrated to a broken woman that she could begin to heal with tiny, baby steps. 

Wow. What a wonderful actor, to find that moment.

And it’s the same for writing.  When my new character Ellen is reminded of one day in her horrific childhood, the day she was rescued from starving alone in a halfway house, she remembers only one thing clearly. The taste of a packaged cinnamon bun, though she has no idea why. Back in real time, Ellen’s reliance on cellophane wrapped snack foods as comfort and safety are an ongoing theme, though she doesn’t ever really understand or even question why. We will discover later that she was given the sweet treat by the same neighbor who called the police, and being five years old and not having eaten for several days, it’s the most wonderful thing she had ever, or will ever eat. If I had stated in the opening chapter, “Ellen used snack foods as a substitute for affection and family,” it would have been, as we say, “Too on the nose.” It would have meant the same thing, but as it is implied, and subtle, it moves us more. At least, I hope it does.

And what about life? I recently had to put down not one, but two beloved pets. One thing I insist on is being with them, so that they will have something familiar and comforting as they leave this world. You would think that the memory of that, the shaving of the limb, the hypodermic filled with what the vets call, ‘the pink juice’ the glazing of eyes, would be what makes me sad. But it isn’t.

It’s the tiny things that move me. A few crushed leaves in my herb patch release a minty smell that makes me recall my lab lying there to cool down, her tail thumping and her brown eyes hopeful. A glimpse of white tissue on the sofa beside me make me think for just a second that I see my cat, who loved to curl up in the small space between me and the arm while I was writing. Both of these things, and many more bring me that cloying sadness of loss, sweet and empty. They are small things, yet so filled with richness for me, and me alone, that I can only smile at the remembrance as my throat tightens and my eyes well up. 

So how would I write that? The smell of mint in the light wind would bring a choking clench to my character’s throat and her fingers would move against her thumb with   a tactile memory of stroking the softest ears while the recall of a soft snore makes her laugh out-loud, forgiving the tightness in her throat. A bark in the distance slows her step as she walks back to the house, lingering to savor the scent of freshness and the memory of devotion. I don’t have to say, “She thought of her dead dog and it made her cry.” 

There is something in comedy, and in good literature, called ‘the skip.’ That’s what I call it anyway. It’s a matter of association, from one thing to another that skips the steps in between. It’s hard to think of a good example, but I’ll try. I was watching a movie screening of a film I had done with a well known comedian, and there was a scene where I take my dress off, toss it on a chair, and stand there arguing in a bra and panties. It was quiet in the screening room, and all I could think was, “This scene is lasting forever!” though it had probably been all of fifteen seconds. 

Then from the darkness next to me, the comedian said flatly, “Nice chair!” And I busted up laughing. 

He had skipped the filler thoughts. If he had said. “You’ve taken your dress off, your wearing black lace panties. Oh look, you’re half naked, that must feel really exposed, let me take the focus off of you..nice chair.” It wouldn’t have been funny, would it? 

So, if you are an aspiring writer, and want some practice, try this. It’s a version of a ‘sensory’ technique for acting.  Take a real emotional time in your life. Relax quietly and ‘live’ it. Let all the memories and feelings about it pass through you, focus on the little things, the temperature in the room, the light on the trees, the smell of traffic, the feeling of the slate on your bare feet, whatever it is, remember the sensations.

Now write about it. Not in a linear way, but recalling the details as your primary indicators. Here’s one of mine, my  ex husband is telling me he won’t pay for college, I notice the condensation growing on my ice tea glass and then gathering into droplets that are finally heavy enough to fall, leaving a trail that reminds me of snail slime. The smug smile on his face is accentuated by an unpleasantly hot wind that lifts my hair and fuels my rage.

Sure, now I know I should have thrown the tea at him, glass and all, but that’s probably better left in fiction. Though, unfortunately, the abandoning his girl’s education for his Porsche and petty revenge on me is very much real life. 

See? Not even fun or interesting to hear that last bit is it? It’s the details  that make it drama, it’s the obvious facts that make it melodrama. 

And the same can be said even if you’re not a writer, or an actor, or have any use for words and actions other than on that greatest of stages, Real Life. Look for the little things. The reflections of sky on water, the smell of butter sauteing, the giggle of your niece in the other room, the splatters of dew on a smooth rock, the kindness of someone in a hurry who pauses to hold a door open for an elderly person, the music of gratitude in the scratchy ‘thank you’ that results. 

Notice these things, feel them, keep them, take them home with you. They are what life is made of. 

I wish you a million and nine small things, hundreds of thousands of special shining moments, smells, sounds, memories. Pull one out and it will take you back, bind them together, and you will have a life worth living. 

Love, and tiny glints of beauty, to you all.

Shari, September 1st, 2013

 

 

 

 

Life in General

The Shari Action Doll

 

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Here’s me in my NY modeling days. That’s Fifth Avenue I’m crawling across and a row of traffic coming right at me!! Let’s get Shari, she’ll do it!!

That’s me! ‘Shari Action’ is a nickname that a modeling friend gave me when I was sixteen. I was always moving, talking, jumping, taking chances, trying new things, and filled with energy. Always ready to try something new, and constantly busy creating or doing. Modeling was only fun when I got hang off the edge of a building or dance thru traffic on Fifth Avenue. (See above)

In fact I remember when a particular hairstyle was in vogue, it was a basket weave, very labor intensive. When a client asked a hairdresser who worked with me often if he could do that on me, the stylist responded, “Sure. Give me two sedatives and a neck brace and I’ll have her out in an hour!”  

In other words, I could not sit still. 

But my hyperactivity didn’t start then. As a kid there wasn’t a tree I wouldn’t climb or a fort I wouldn’t build—and sleep in! Now? I travel, cook, direct, produce, act, write, mom, volunteer and clean my own damn house thank you!! And I love all of it. I love driving carpools, cleaning up after my girls have wrecked the living room with their friends, brainstorming story ideas with my husband, helping to build sets, gardening. What do I love most? What I’m doing right now. In fact, writing this blog has given me a burst of energy and enthusiasm to get back to my new book. Can’t wait!

I’m lucky to still, at 53,  have a ton of energy and enthusiasm. And I love my life now, whatever that may bring. The more I do, the more energy I have and I fall asleep every night exhausted and excited for the next day. 

What I don’t do is live on past laurels. Ironic, perhaps because I used the above picture, but that’s because it’s from the time I got my nickname and illustrates it pretty well. Past laurels aren’t real anyway, you know that right? Memories are elastic, they don’t freeze in time like some event popsicle that never changes or melts. You can’t keep a six pack of accomplishments and pop one open to drink with dinner. It’s over, you drank it, your part in it is done. Memory is 50% recall, 50% invention, and 50% projection. (Yes, that’s 150%, we tend to add a bit as the years go by.) The only thing worthwhile is what you are doing now, and it only matters how it effects you, not what anyone else thinks of it. I know people who actually define themselves by some ‘success’ from 30 years ago. Really? What does it matter if you won a trophy or had a hit song or made a million dollars…then? What are you doing right now? How are you contributing? What do you give back? Do you enjoy it? Are you more concerned with how, or if, you will be remembered than you are with seeing the beauty and opportunities around you now? 

Look again. 

My experience with the children I’ve known with terminal illness has changed so much of my perspective. No one but their family and friends will ever know their names. Some of these kids won’t live long enough to rack up a list of ‘accomplishments,’ yet they show more bravery, life and courage than so many people I know who live to be one hundred, star on a soap opera, live in huge houses, are pursued by paparazzi, or any of the other superficial marks of ‘success.’ 

Yet those children leave a remarkable legacy, worth far more than being ‘known’ or having six million FB likes. Their legacy is one of courage and love and the priceless reminder to live every single moment with joy and kindness. 

Now that’s something to be remembered for. And something to remember.

I gave a lecture a few nights ago and afterwards an elderly lady approached me and complimented me on my energy, speaking and enthusiasm. That was nice, I love connecting with people and seeing what they know that I don’t, but what struck me was when she said wistfully, “I wish I was young.” 

I don’t understand that. I don’t want to go back a single day. I’ve done many things, good, bad, crazy, and even scary, and I enjoyed almost all of it. But the point is, I did that. Now I want to move on and do different things. I look forward to getting older, to giving myself permission to do nothing, to watch the sun set, to take a nap, to read all damn day if I want to. It will be a different stage of my life, and I hope to enjoy it as much as all the other acts.

Of course, I do understand wanting to be young for the sake of health. Nobody likes to be sick or in pain. That, I get. To quote Woody Allen, “I’m not afraid of dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” 

But I agree with the sentiment. I don’t think I’ll mind dying. I mean, what’s the alternative?  It’s not like I’m gonna get out of it.  Neither are you, by the way, so you might as well step up when it comes. And I believe that if you live your life desperate to be remembered, to create some kind of immortal sense of yourself, you are living a wasted life. 

Now, that’s not to take away from those people who truly have done great things and certainly should be remembered. But if I look at what I want out of life, the truth is, I don’t care if anyone remembers that I wrote that book, only that they found pleasure and humanity in it. That a phrase or a character touched them, possibly helped them in some tiny way at that point in their lives. I hope they remember that, not my name. I don’t need my performance as Viola in Twelfth Night to be celebrated or lauded, but I’m glad I made people laugh and shared their joy. I want my friends to think of me as a good person and my daughters to know I loved them. That’s it. 

I’m still Shari Action. I still do a hundred things in a day. Let’s take today for example. I got up, reviewed the final edit for “Scream at the Devil” and made changes. I picked apples from my tree and made apple jelly. The sound of the jars sealing as I write is as pleasing a satisfaction as any film I ever made, because it’s right now and I love it. I have a huge pot of Gumbo simmering on the stove, because my kids liked it so much when I made it last week that they demanded at least three times as much. I worked on my new novel, did some gardening, and wrote this blog. That’s it so far, but it’s only five o’clock! I didn’t hike because I wasn’t feeling well when I got up, but the more I did, the better I felt. 

And now, it’s hubby time. I’ll have to lure him away from the editing bay because, he, like me, loses track of time when he’s doing what he loves. We will sit together and watch the sun change on the mountains, we will laugh and share, and plan. 

God I love my life. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities, for all the moments, even the ones that aren’t easy, even the ones that make me look silly or bad. 

And as for making a name for myself and being remembered by people who don’t know me? 

Well…that’s not something I’m going to put too much energy into. The Shari Action doll doesn’t think much of that. She’s too busy and too darn happy. 

 

And she wishes the same, or better, for you. 

Shari, July 30, 2013. 

 

 

Acting & Experiences, Life in General, mental illness

The Now on which the Shadow Stands.

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Loving life…all of it!!

This is one of my favorite quotations. As far as I  know the author is anonymous, and this poem is inscribed on the base of a sun dial at a University.

The shadow by my finger cast
Divides the future from the past:
Before it, sleeps the unborn hour, 
In darkness, and beyond thy power.
Behind its unreturning line, 
The vanished hour, no longer thine:
One hour alone is in thy hands,-
The NOW on which the shadow stands.

The reason I’m sharing this today is that I’ve had a sort of time warp jump illustrated to me in my life, perhaps in a way, a very external one, that few people will experience.

It’s been over ten years since I’ve done a film or TV. I have no regrets.  I’m so glad I took the time to be with my girls, and there’s no question that the theatre I did in that time has made me twice the actress I was before, but what an interesting thing to see myself on film again with a decade jump.

Now, forty to fifty is a big leap, and Scream at the Devil is far from a Vanity piece. You don’t play a woman tortured by schizophrenia with full make up and fake eyelashes. Not if you want any kind of reality, and I certainly did. Actually, I’m fifty-two now, so call it a dozen years. And I look different. I’m in good shape, but I have cellulite, and a few more pounds. I have the same cheekbones, but the skin is a big looser around my mouth. My eyes crinkle when I smile, and let’s face it, extreme emotion is seldom physically flattering.

And I’m all right with that. Of course, editing is a strange process, you can, and often have to, change the tempo of scenes, choose shots that make the scene work or fit into the other actor’s improvised lines, it’s not anything like choosing the best still photos from your vacation or head shot shoot. What I’m hoping for here is a performance that moves those who see it, and that honors the suffering of those affected by crushing mental illness and chemical imbalance.

I know, though I don’t care all that much, that people will judge my appearance in this film, and compare it to my much younger self. Why? I don’t know. I suppose as actors and performers and even as a people, we have allowed judgement of physicality and age to so infect our perceptions that even the judged have bought into it.

Big mistake. And here’s why. I don’t care how young you are, how beautiful, how sexy, or how much you place your self-value in those traits, you will age. And I wish for you the same joy in it that I have found.

I’ve never been happier, or felt more beautiful. It makes me so sad when I see women who are in their fifties still trying to sell themselves as ‘sexy.’ Not that they aren’t, of course, they are, but it’s a different sexy, it’s a confident, feeling sexual and contented on the inside instead of counting on others feeling that you are what you want to be.

Does that make sense? Once when I was in an intensive scene study class, a very attractive blonde young actress was struggling to do a scene from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and the coach was trying to get her to embrace Maggie’s sultry, seething sexuality, but she just coudn’t. Finally I said, “I can help her!”

David, the coach, looked at me and said, “Fine, Shari Shattuck wants to tell someone how to play sexy. Please, yes, be my guest.”

Instead of speaking up in front of everyone, I left my seat, went down to the stage and whispered in her ear, “It’s not about ‘acting’ sexy, it’s about feeling turned on, feeling sexual.”

She nodded, started the scene again and virtually slithered over furniture and the actor playing Brick like a cat in heat.

David turned to me and said, “What the f*ck did you say?”

I just winked at the actress and said, “It’s a secret.”

But it’s not, or it shouldn’t be. Ladies, gentlemen, embrace your age, be the best you can be, and smile at the fact that the twenty-somethings will get more attention than you. That’s okay, it’s a relief really, to stop being thrown into the arena of physical competition. Don’t let anyone do that to you anymore, and don’t, please, I’m begging you, do it to yourself.

I’m very excited about my life now. I’m calmer and happier, and more fulfilled and focused than ever before. I have as much, maybe more energy than I did in my twenties, I am so much better at dividing my time and knowing what I want and who I want to spend my time with. What a gift!

Take that gift, reach out and grab it. Unwrap it and smile and rejoice. The gift of now, the culmination of all your work, realizations, epiphanies, emotional growth, and wisdom.

Who could ask for anything more?

With love and contentment,

Shari. June 30th, 2013.