When I was 18 years old and attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, my high school English teacher, Mrs. Blackburn wrote me a letter. It was in response to a note I had sent her wondering if my decision to pursue acting was the right choice. She wrote:
“Acting is not impractical. Beauty serves mankind in moving us toward the abstract and the spiritual in a way the mundane can’t. It enables us to see ourselves when it is too painful to look inward. It makes us laugh and relax; good medicine. Never, Never think it is impractical. And for you the actor; what a sense of giving something to humanity that is worthwhile; what a sense of return on your investment. Go for the ‘dagger’ scene. I believe in you.”
Brilliant words, right?
I was recently given a task by my good friend. She had selected several people to answer a question for her: “What defines you?” It seemed simple enough until I started to truly ponder the question. What defines me? Perhaps I didn’t know.
I consider myself a very passionate person. I always have. When I love something it courses through my veins and when I despise something it can deplete me. The mapping out of my adult life has been charted by that passion; sometimes I choose the right path and at times I am lead astray. That’s the thing about passion; you can’t control its direction.
When I look back on my life I see many defining moments. When I received my friend’s request, I immediately thought back to the letter I had received so many years ago from Mrs. Blackburn. “Go for the dagger scene” was always a thought I clung to from her words of encouragement. It has been a thought that has sustained me through many changes in my life.
My love of acting has never left my soul. I have never found anything in my life that can replace the feeling of being on a stage. At the Academy, I had a wild instructor named Harvey Solin. A method acting exercise we were asked to frequently participate in was called “To Be” and it required you to act on your impulses; say what you feel, do what you feel, BE IN THE MOMENT. It became my creative fuel as I pursed an acting career in Los Angeles. After stapling thousands of resumes to my head shots, paying for endless hours of bogus casting workshops in town, and sleeping in my periwinkle blue Saab on the streets of Studio City, that passion for acting had become tarnished. I was bartending and felt like a cliche.
My journey then took me back to the Midwest and I found I had a niche for revitalizing property. Taking something distressed and making it beautiful seemed fulfilling. I returned to Los Angeles and started working for an interior design firm. Design became my passion. That translated into my own business. Not wanting to be confined to interiors alone, I focus on Lifestyle Design and strive to have a voice in all things that pertain to how we live.
But does that define me?
I shelved the question to work on a project.
I was on my way to meet with someone who was interested in the work I was doing on my blog. She wanted to discuss a possible collaboration. I didn’t want to go empty handed so I put together a signature look.
I found some beautiful roses that looked amazing…
And when I present someone with flowers I have but one rule: Don’t distract from nature’s beauty.
I wrap them in matte black paper so the flowers take center stage…
One of my favorite “go to” supplies is black artist tape. With a quick piece of tape, the flowers are securely snug in their wrap…
Sometimes I add a subtle accent. In this case, I spray painted a faux mum black to act as a complimentary jewel on the face of the bouquet…
A black butterfly applied to the inside is the final touch…
This can be a dramatic gesture that is perfectly suited for a birthday, host|hostess gift, holiday, or celebration…
Before I headed out the door, I took a look at my work. It put a smile on my face.
I know people might look at what I do and think it’s insignificant or even silly. It may not be profound; it’s not rocket science and it’s not a cure for cancer. However, it is what I do and what I love.
Maybe in the process of wrapping these flowers I had answered Lisa Moody’s question? I typed out a quick label to send her a photo.
WHAT DEFINES ME…
Perhaps our collection of passions in life make us who we are. Maybe defining ourselves cannot be singled out by one event, one emotion, one dream. We all have this amazing potential to be incredibly significant.
Believe in yourself. Go for the “dagger scene”!