Sunday, December 26, 2010

the perfect day for a blizzard.

The fireplace at The Cranbury Inn during the Blizzard of December 26th, 2010. 

"Fear not. There is light in the darkness."
- Suzanne Schafer-Coates

My Dad has been playing piano in the Presbyterian Church at the same lovely retirement home in our town of New Jersey for over 20 years now. And so last night when he asked me if I were coming to church this morning, naturally I said "Yes." I almost always come when I am home.

And truthfully, I love to hear my father play piano -- he is truly rhapsodic. He fashions a song as only he can -- with jazzy riffs and never neglecting the higher chords, which his fingers always include in a song. In fact, whenever I picture him playing, I picture his rather compact hands deftly stretching across the keyboard towards the high keys as they lift up the song and give it a sort of bursting, exciting, the walls are singing too! sound.

But sermon-wise, I just -- I'm a still a touch off from my stomach virus and I don't particularly feel "filled up" by sermons -- ever since I was little -- but I shall go. I love my Dad and I have known this church since I was little and I shall go...

And as the snow began to dust the roads, I made my way towards the church in the home. My town is so small that two roads got me there. 

 I collected a program from an elderly woman -- after all, this is not a youthful crowd in the retirement home -- and made my way to the second row of chairs, right behind my Dad. To my right, I saw a scoop of young people -- three young women and a mom, and a middle-aged man behind them. This perked me up! Honestly, all of the white heads in the church begin to look like a mass of q-tips as your eyes glaze over with the candle lights and the Christmas tree and the poinsettias. Well, to begin with, the minister -- Suzanne Schafer-Coates sang a song, a Jamaican Christmas song my Mom always requested from a church friend when she was sick. It's called, Mary's Boy Child. And so, immediately, I was hooked. My eyes even watered a little. This brought me back. And knowing that my Dad and Suzanne had chosen this song and mentioned Ron Anderson who would play it on his banjo, I think, brought me directly back to my youth. Like a roller coaster that within seconds has you shoved up onto the top of a mountain, I was shoved up into my youth. And it was beautiful. My Dad flaked off in a part of the song and I saw him make a funny face at the piano and that made the whole thing even better -- it was honest. Imperfect, clipped, and it reminded me of the Navajo Tribe. I've mentioned them in blogs of the past -- they always put an indentation in their jewelry because they believed that only God could make things perfectly. And so did my Dad apparently, this morning.

So... Then, these two sisters sang a duet. And they harmonized perfectly, seemingly effortlessly. I adored their voices. One of them reminded me of my former producing partner of Little Bird Theater Company and that also brought a smile to my face.

There were a few minor readings from the elder who was there from the other downtown Presbyterian Church and some Christmas songs and then, the sermon. Once again, I have learned to expect nothing. In fact, when I was little and forced to go to the church with my sister, we'd pass notes on the offertory envelopes. Over my mom's lap. Little beasts we were. And then, when I was old enough to really think about what I was saying, say 12 years old -- I bucked against the system.

I was so turned off of all of the "please forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us" stuff. And I know I sound petulant when I say "stuff," but alas, that's what it felt like to me. A whole lot of unnecessary stuff. Where was the God who was forgiving? And if this God truly forgave us for erring because we are human, then why are we constantly apologizing? I found myself whispering the words of constant self-deprecation and ultimately, I stopped saying them altogether. 

And in the past few years, I have happily studying Kabbalah.  I found no apologizing, merely methods of bettering myself. And if I fall, which I always assuredly do, I pick myself up and move on. It felt simple, forgiving, practical.

The memories of my childhood church years have warmed me. I've mentioned them in my memoir. And whenever I sip on sugary tea, whenever I hear a church hymn, whenever I think of Sundays as a child, I think happily of our downtown Presbyterian Church.

Today though, I just thought of the promise of a one hour service, hearing my father's music and the lovely snow, which I have longed for in California.

But, when Suzanne -- whose two oldest children I once babysat -- began her sermon intimately and simply, speaking of her youth... When she was a 25 year-old young woman in York, England, alone and broke and freezing cold, scared on Christmas -- away from her family, unable to go home, I was there. I was in the story. I wanted to hear more.

She spoke of how she lived in a house the church was tying to sell. But until they did, it was hers. No heat, the toilet was in the backyard, and it was dark. She sang in the choir and even the church was absolutely freezing!

She said that singing the old Christmas hymns made her happy, but when it came time for Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, she cried. She longed for home.

Then, she said she began to look at the candles in the church and focus on their light. How they lit up the room and she imagined the warmth they were giving off.

She heard the words, the ones the minister spoke from the sermon, words she'd heard countless times before, Fear Not. There is Light in the Darkness.

And for the first time ever, she got them. She understood what it meant. And she felt the light. And it guided her. Out of the darkness.

And this is what we study in Kabbalah. That light always pierces through the darkness. That we ARE the light that pierces through the darkness -- or rather -- the light is what we trust -- what is always there for us. Never abandoning us. Even when we feel like it is. Even when we curse it and step on it and spit at it and want to twist the lifeless life out of it. It is there. 

And this is exactly what Suzanne was preaching about today. That the light was there for her. And I love the double meaning of "light." Both the physical light, which literally warms and brightens us up. And the spiritual/figurative light, which warms (with its "Aha, I am being watched over!" moment) and and brightens us up (with the knowledge we gain that yes, we are not alone.)

And I think that when Suzanne was telling her story, we all felt less alone. I love that feeling of all religions, all spiritualities being one. Because they are. We are. We've all been that 25 girl alone in that house in England -- even if we are a 28 year-old man in Seattle or a 50 year-old woman in Germany or a 71 man in Pennsylvania. We have all been there. All done that.

And by sharing her story, Suzanne brought the story of Christmas to all of us in that little church in that lovely retirement home. She brought the hope that is Christmas, that stubborn faith that we are all risen again, that if we believe, we too can have new life.

Our courage liberates others. I once thought that seeming a certain way was the way to go as an actress. I took time off from acting - a few years -- and when I stepped back in, I had trepidation. And so, I thought -- be this way. Do this. And they will love you.

And the thing is... only when I had the courage to be vulnerable, to trust my gut, to be absolutely and utterly Kieren van den Blink -- was I truly embraced. And believed in. And what I mean when I say -- "utterly Kieren van den Blink" is that only when I brought me to the part -- my quirks and depths and comedy, and in meetings when I was honest, only then did I win.

Today, when Suzanne said, "Fear Not. There is Light in the Darkness," she spoke of her dark moments and those candles in the church, they gave her light and then hope and then, she believed. 

I've been acquainted with the night... As the Robert Frost poem goes:

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain. 
I have outwalked the furthest city light. 
I have looked down the saddest city lane. 
I have passed by the watchman on his beat 
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street, 
But not to call me back or say good-bye; 
And further still at an unearthly height, 
O luminary clock against the sky 
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night. 

And I can tell each and every one of my beloved blades of grass, there is indeed... Light in the Darkness.

And I'll let Van Morrison sing the rest to you as only he can... :)

Love... Always. Happy Holidays, my beloved blades.


a sexy song to keep you warm during the blizzard... :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Manifesting My Destiny.

"If you want to find God, hang out in the space between your thoughts."
- Alan Cohen.

My little blades, I apologize first of all. I said I was going to blog a few days ago and I literally starting falling asleep with the laptop perched somewhat awkwardly -- almost perilously -- in my lap in bed. And then, I just got an email from Allie, one of my lovely followers, and I was reminded of my promise.

So, thank you Allie. For keeping me honest. And thank you, Dasha, for pushing me to keep my promise as well.

And so, my little blades... this leads me back to all of you. When I began blogging this year, I had some goals in mind. And as you may remember, I was very specific about them. I was sounding my "barbaric yawp!" so to speak. About what I wanted, what I was manifesting, what I felt I deserved, what I wanted to share with all of you.

And though the year is not over yet, we are indeed winding down... And happily so.

See, I remember the searching for what I wanted. Looking for God in things big and small.  And here is the musical version of what I was seeking... And though it seemed -- even to me -- like what I've been seeking was on the outside -- move star, best-selling author, and millionaire. And quite honestly, I am not at all saying that I no longer aspire to be or see myself as those things. Because I do. But what I have been getting -- more than anything -- is closer to God, to the God in me, to me, I guess you can say. And so... here is the song that sings from my heart what this year has felt like for me...

And then, there is this: December 9th at 11:20pm and here I am at home, with Gatsby. I have a friend living with me. She brings a joy to my home that I didn't even know so acutely I'd be longing for. And I have -- gosh, it's funny because when I've been meeting with my teacher, Shalom, the past few months, he's been telling me how happy he is for me.

I am so happy for you, Kieren. You are changing so much.

And me looking at him quizzically. Almost like -- Dude. If I were changing so much, then where's my house? My boyfriend? My movie? My books? 

I felt like, I honestly felt like, if I were changing, Shalom, you'd see it. Not just feel it, sense it. There'd be proof. And the kind of proof that I consider proof.

But then, the funny thing is, proof did start to come... It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

Hehe. I had to go a little Grinch on your arses! Seeing as it is Christmas :)

But seriously though, it did start -- and is starting to come.

And thus, my quote -- I have been meditating almost every morning. Faithfully. For five minutes to fifteen. And boy, has it made a difference. It is the stillness in the beginning of my day that starts me off centered and calm. I then will drink maybe a green tea and eat a small breakfast.

And I used to begin -- how funny that "begin" and being" and almost the same word -- my day with a big sugary chai tea from my beloved coffee bean. But the thing is, I remember what my old acting teacher Marjorie used to say to me years ago, "All that sugar is affecting you, Kieren. Cut back on it." And I was mildly horrified at the idea of no chai -- my one treat/weakness/sin/no big deal it's a frickin' tea :)

But, when I looked at it -- I was beginning my day foggy. And when I started to meditate, I swear to you all, I started to "know" things or "see" things.
I knew that my friend Scott's new job would be in finances. Before he told me. And that my new friend George's first choice college was Yale. I knew that the manager with whom I was meeting would want to work with me. When I was quiet with myself, I got -- It's gonna be easy. She's gonna want to work with me. And she does.

1. I pictured booking a series of Voice-Overs. Visualized and felt the phone call from WME. And it came today!

2. I've been picturing a phone call or an email from someone reaching out to me to give me a break and someone did!!! I will share the news on Monday!!!

3. I have been craaaaving getting back on Broadway and then, I get introduced to a film agent at WME -- where I want to be again! Where I started -- and he wants to introduce me to one of the best Broadway agents in NYC -- at WME!

...I can even see the on-camera commercial I am going to book -- I see it when I am meditating. I picture it. Me and the guy. And our laughing...

But also, what is really making my life better and easier -- is that I am trusting myself more. I am seeing things, and feeling things, and knowing things. And then, I am quiet with them. And then, I trust them. Me. My gut.
It, life, is sooo much easier when we trust our guts. When we manifest our own destinies. When we know what we want and we see it, work towards it. My friend Tobey says most people don't succeed because they don't put one foot in front of the other.

So, yes. I am meditating. But, then, I act on what I see. I make the phone call to meet with my commercial agent to share my vision with her. And she introduces me to the manager.

I email me VO agent and tell him my vision/goal of booking a spot before the holiday.

I am bringing all of these people, my champions, in on my dream. Along with me. They are then a part of my vision and making it happen. And life is SO much more powerful, our dream SO much more obtainable -- they are always obtainable -- but they will happen faster and in a richer way when we involve our team. friends. family. agents. manager. lawyer. whomever our people are, or may be.

Honestly, I thought of Akeelah and the Bee the other day when I thought about my new company, The Little Beast. And the movie we are making. And I thought of how the little girl in the movie involves pretty much everyone she comes across in her life in her dream of winning the spelling bee.

The mailman and her mom, her brother and her brother's friends. Her tutor. Her teacher. Her girlfriends. Everyone. And guess what? She wins! It is the power of many. We can manifest our dreams more quickly and richly and fully by including other people along the way, empowering them as they empower us.

When I attended the Women's Conference a few months back and Oprah spoke, she said, If you want your dreams to come true, make them about something larger than yourself, something that benefits other people.

And I believe that is why Little Bird was a success. We sold our friend's paintings and photographs, we showcased our friend's writing and acting and directing and music, we produced all of it. And we all benefited.

And now... I feel the power of ALL again.

Since I began blogging, I:
1. Signed with WME for Voice Overs and have booked more in 4 months than I did all last year.
2. Signed with Arete for On Camera Commercials. And I have been On Avail 3 times and have a better relationship with my agent than I have had since NYC.
3. Have a manager who is passionate about me -- for exactly who I am.
4. I am making my movie -- every day, I move closer.
5. Lost my children's book deal :( (due to financial problems with the distributor). But am reaching out to contact Barnard Grads and whomever I am referred to who can help in getting them published.
6. Not a millionaire yet, but on my way! Every day, I am growing wealthier.
And most importantly, and Shalom pointed this out, it started inside of me and began to move out.

I started with meditation. I started in the quiet. I focused on what I wanted. I saw it and felt it and it became mine.

Even with dating. I am dating again! And I can see my husband. I feel him, I sit on his lap, I laugh with him, I already know his hair... :)

Amazing stuff.
And I wanted to be with WME again. Always. It was my first agency, my first love. (WMA was:)

And I wanted to book commercials again -- great exposure and money and fun!
And I want to be a movie star! To light up the screen and to inspire, to make people laugh, to move them. And this is happening too... !!!

I am not giving up, my phoenixes, not on my beloved books either.

My Grandfather, my Dutch Grandfather, during World War II when he was separated in the camps from my Grandmother and my uncle and Daddy, he found comfort in a book written by a well-renowned British minister called, The Significance of Silence. And now I get it. 

Silence brings us closer to us.

Listen, my little blades. You will hear the truth.

It's like what Glynda the good witch says to Dorothy, "You had it in you all along. It was always there."

So, have the courage to be quiet. And to listen. And then -- go out there into this big and wilding world... And give 'em hell.

I love you all... Always.