Act Smart!: Feed your head

What I’m taking in regularly right now, and how to find your own reliable sources of information.

If you’ve read this actor’s “marketing” column even sporadically, it would be hard to miss that I read/listen/watch widely, sharing the best of it all sparingly. I believe this is not only is this integral to my artistic and personal growth, but that it is the easiest and most fun way to “market” oneself (remembering that marketing may not mean what you think it does).

This month, taking a page from the teach-an-actor-to-fish school of training and development, I thought that rather than simply share what I’m reading (and watching, and listening to) right now, I’d share the rationale behind it as well. Because even if you and I aren’t interested in the exact same things, you doubtless have your own dreams and aspirations that need feeding.

Heart Advice (Weekly Quotes from Pema Chödrön)

I’d heard about Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön literally decades ago from a more-evolved friend. I first tried dipping into an audio book, but her voice didn’t work for me. Finally, after several more mentions over the years from a number of trusted sources, including this fabulous podcast (more on him in a bit), I came face to face—literally, eye-level—with a used copy of When Things Fall Apart in my favorite thrift store. For a dollar—and no stooping!—it felt silly to resist. I bought/read/loved it, repeated this with another of her books, and then, after a little strategic googling, signed up for the newsletter.

Main takeaway on getting to Pema:

  • Multiple hits from numerous trusted sources over time generally yields gold. Even if I hadn’t come across the book, I might well have signed up for the newsletter. They are low-cost ways from a time/energy/money perspective of sampling an author or subject: i.e., it’s as easy to unsubscribe as it is to subscribe.
My love of podcasts pretty much coincides with their arrival on the scene back in 2004/5. My love of individual podcasts waxes and wanes, but usually is sparked by an obsession with some personality or author or subject—Russell Brand sent me down one of those internet rabbit holes, and hoarding (don’t ask) sent me down another. (And avoid Hoarders. It’s depressing as hell.) This led to a fascination with all things addiction, which ultimately led me to Anna David’s excellent podcast on recovery. It’s morphed into more of a “what happens post-epiphany” kind of podcast, where guests discuss their “aha!” moments (or collection of them) and how their lives are different now. Much like the best of Adam Carolla’s or Marc Maron’s podcasts, what you get are smart, sensitive performers—essentially, as one of Carolla’s guests put it, the philosophers of our time—discussing what they’ve come to learn first-hand about stuckness, sadness, and turning it all into fodder for growth.
Main takeaway on getting to Afterparty Pod:
  • Obsession gets a bad rap! If you can use it to tease out the threads of what interests you, you can not only enlighten yourself, but release yourself: listening to person after person share how Making It didn’t make them happy at their core leads to priceless gifts.
I gave up on cable a long time ago, mostly because I found myself watching it 8–12 hours per day. (I only wish I were kidding.) But my love of TV will not die, and fortunately, thanks to Netflix’s start-and-stop-anytime policy, it doesn’t have to. Have you been subbed to their stream-only service for some time? Have you watched all of House of Cards and burned out on Law & Order marathons? Switch over to the DVD service for a few months and catch up on your premium-cable shows! If you’re regularly going out for TV and commercial roles, or if you want to be, you probably don’t want to follow my lead on this, but if you are blazing your own path or financially-challenged or just some non-actor who somehow stumbled onto this page, why, feel free to use Netflix to your advantage, rather than letting them use you.
Main takeaway from weird TV-consumption patterns:
  • You only have two eyeballs and they are chained to the space-time continuum. Don’t pay for stuff you can’t use; buy a la carte!

* * * *

Book of the Month

Whether you’re repeating destructive patterns in your relationships with work, food, people, money, love, or any other substances, the things you are afraid to look at own you, plain and simple. Lost and Found: One Woman’s Story of Losing Her Money and Finding Her Life looks at the parallels between dysfunction that shows up in eating and spending—or, on the flip side, starving and hoarding—and shines a big, bright light on what’s really going on when we go overboard, and how to start finding our way back to balance and health. It’s written by popular author and workshop leader Geneen Roth, who lost her life savings to financial scoundrel Bernie Madoff, and then, after discovering how her unprocessed issues with food had simply resurfaced in her relationship with money, turned her life around. Probably my favorite book I’ve read on money dysfunction, and brother, I have read ‘em all.

Colleen Wainwright is a writerspeakerperformer who started calling herself “the communicatrix” when she hit three hyphens. She spent a decade writing commercials and another decade acting in them for cash money. Today, she spends most of her time helping people learn how to promote themselves naturally, not needily.

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