Grit

Grit is a personality trait possessed by individuals who demonstrate passion and perseverance toward a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions.

Here’s a story about grit. All of my boys were given this incredible opportunity to attend middle school in Manhattan. And while people scoffed at the idea and judged me for thinking it was a better option than the schools in our town, they thrived there and the experiences each of them had were paramount to who they are today.

My oldest was an actor at the time and went to the Fame school, my middle son was never challenged academically and finally was. My youngest learned to navigate the subway system in the sixth grade and found extreme compassion for those less fortunate. I still send him with ones to give to homeless people when he travels through the city to get to his school. He was the one who told me about grit.

The public school they attended is called Booker T and is located on 107th street. At the time it was called Delta Honors and was very hard to get in. It is filled with an array of teachers, mostly young, who push the kids pretty rigorously so that they can go on to a good high school. They are passionate about what they do and insist on meeting with the parents every quarter; something unheard of in this pissy town I live in.

One teacher, an older woman who liked to yell, had a grit tree in her classroom. She had all the kids color a paper bird and place it on the bottom limb of the tree. When they did something she found “grit worthy” they got to move up a branch. One day a boy in the class did something she deemed not grit like, and took his bird off the tree. Literally clipped his wings! I guess it disturbed my youngest a lot, for him to relay the story to me.

When people dare to be different, dare to step out of the box and fly in a different direction, there are always people who will clip their wings or will at least try to. The thing that keeps a person flying high above like an eagle, is the ability to not care what others think.

People care too much about what others think, which is why they never reach eagle status. Eagles fly higher than other birds. They understand and accept this. And, they only fly with other eagles.

So either you have enough grit to fly like an eagle or you are a bird amongst a flock who does what others do because you are too afraid to fly. Your fear of flying simply comes from your fear of being judged for doing so.

Dare to be different! I’ll be up here in the clouds if you care to join me.

The Process

Inky is very inspiring and his story even moreso.

It’s funny how we travel through life always looking out there somewhere, focusing on a destination. We think it would be illogical to even engage in a situation or relationship, if we can’t see where it is headed. Without an outcome in sight we may not even be able to think about the process, let alone start one.

Most of us need a destination. We need to know the answer to that cringy relationship question, “Where is this headed?” Else we will not want to invest our time in something or someone if there is not sured success.

I struggle with this all the time. I have auditions come in, get into character, memorize my lines, do the audition, feel a connection with a client or director and then may never hear another word again. This can be extremely defeating. One might even question why I do it, since most of the time all of the effort I put in and the lack of a sured outcome generally has nothing to do with me.

But today I was reminded by my youngest son why I actually do do it. He brought up Inky to me and how anything I do should never be about the win or the destination; it should only ever be about the process.

When we change our focus from the destination and focus on the process instead, we live in the moment. We are so focused on the process that we enjoy ourselves and have fun. If we are not having fun, intrigued or driven by what we are doing, then we should not be a part of that particular process. This should be your gauge for whatever you are giving your time and attention to.

I was reminded today of why I put myself out there over and over again despite the odds that are against me. It’s because I enjoy the process and I have a ton of fun.

But damn, that logical mind is a toughy. It still says, “I need an outcome! What’s the point of all of this work if there is no win, no destination?”

And here is the answer I came up with:

We are not about a future out there somewhere, we are about what we are right now in this moment. Who are we right now? Whose lives are we effecting? What is our message? What do we stand for? What brings us joy? And what are we doing about it?

When we focus so much on the destination, we miss the journey. The sounds, the sights, the tastes, the smiles, the laughter, the sun, the moon and the stars. We miss the breeze, the breath in every moment and the sun on our face on a beautiful day. We miss the rain and the rainbows after.

The little things. We miss them all. They are the process which makes our life whole. And if we can focus on all of those little things, we will see that the destination is really the amazing journeys we each take on a daily basis by staying true to ourselves, loving others and enjoying every minute we are gifted here.

I’m going to go pour myself a cup of hot coffee now. It’s part of my morning process and I absolutely love it!

Steps

I wanted to write about steps and how taking just one, can change your entire world.

Two summers ago my youngest son was rowing and beginning to work out regularly. He took to the weights and regimen like a fish to water. His body took to them as well. Within a short time he completely transformed his frame of 140 with little muscles to 180 with huge Popeye ones, and this is when my oldest son told him that rowing was a waste of his talent and time and that he should be playing football instead.

In life, all it takes is one person to see a bigger vision for you than you are capable of, and your entire world can change. This person, or maybe if you’re lucky, a few more, believes in you and your ability so strongly, that you inevitably start to believe too.

With these words, spoken by his big brother, the football journey began. Most people would not even ponder the idea of taking this first step (especially with no prior experience), let alone the ones he did.

The only playing of the sport he had ever done was in the front yard and maybe tossing it at school once in awhile at recess. Still, he committed to the path and took that first step of going out for the team in the 9th grade. You can imagine how other kids viewed him and were so quick to put him down. Our town is mean, rather the people are, and I am looking forward to moving, but that’s another blog.

We went to all of his games and watched his team be beaten down at every one. They literally had 5 plays and the same 5 kids they put in for every position. He managed to get in a few times but it was futile and he felt defeated in all aspects of the sport.

If this path were to continue, further steps needed to be taken. So…I went on Max Preps and researched schools. This is what I do! I’m a dreamer, but more than that, I am a person who takes steps towards those dreams, else they are merely fantasies.

I found so many schools in Texas and South Carolina, but none in New York. I began to ponder the idea of boarding school for him but the schools looked scary that were rated high for football and he is my baby, so that wasn’t going to happen. I actually started to look at properties in Texas and South Carolina, but as I did more research, I found a school in New Jersey he could commute to.

I ticked that box and went on line to the school website. It was overwhelming. An essay, an interview, testing to get in and of course, a private tuition. Did I mention it was all boys and religious?

He didn’t care! So I wrote letters, called, called again. Wrote more letters until someone wrote me back and found out I had made the deadline to apply for the next year. He did everything they asked of him, including an essay about football and Jesus and we waited and waited for a letter to arrive.

When it finally did, he hesitated, knowing this letter would determine next steps. They would either lead to the doorway of this school and its interview process or back to the school he was currently at until we could come up with another path because giving up on his dream was not an option.

Luck was on his side. Or fate, I’m not sure. Every now and then people deserve a break and he got one. He was invited in for the next step in the process.

We took the train together that day knowing what was at stake. The only other option was to move and my middle son was still at home in his senior year. It was overwhelming and I couldn’t allow myself to think about it. He not only had to do well on his interviews, he had to test well to gain one of the 12 spots that were open. Over 300 kids had applied that year (record numbers I was told), because another religious school had closed.

We were there for hours. I heard the morning prayer, stood for the pledge of allegiance, saw students come and go in their uniforms and watched him walk by a few times from office to office. He was in a suit but quickly lost the tie around hour two.

When he finally finished around noon, we took the many steps back to the Path train and began our way back home. He talked about his interviews, feeling as though he had blown one and then didn’t say much on the Long Island Rail Road (the other part of our commute).

It was tough. I could see how bad he wanted this. Sometimes we want something so bad and we don’t do anything about it, but this kid was doing everything he could.

Within two weeks he received another letter. He was at school and my middle son was home. He convinced me to open it, just in case. So we did. We both screamed with joy when we read that he had been accepted. I texted him with a photo of the welcome letter and he screamed with joy when he got it. I know this, because he told me hugged the kid he was walking with he was so happy.

None of us had any idea what it actually meant though. At the time the football team at this particular school was number 1 in the state. I think they rank high in all their sports, and there are over 18 of them. The 5 plays he learned at his old school were replaced by the over 100 at his new one. Yes, 100! It was like learning a new language, but one he committed to by writing them on index cards that he studied every chance he could. To be number 1 in anything means you have to commit and his team takes commitment very seriously.

And so does he! This is why it’s the perfect place for him. He has never once complained about the workouts, the practices, the schoolwork or the commute. And while he is not commuting at present, he still commits to the workouts at the gym he uses here. He also works out with a football trainer in New Jersey every weekend, who is as inspiring as they come.

The progress he has made is astonishing! He has learned the footwork, the ball handling and the speed. But there is always another step to take. A different diet, heavier weights, faster footwork, turning a leg this way, a hand over here, his body forward. I hear him as he watches the video recording of himself from practice.

Footwork is so important in football. Good footwork gives a player agility and reduces injury. It is essentially the same reason why we take steps in life or don’t.

The steps we take determine our outcome. And while some people are so afraid of failing or being hurt that they do not take any steps towards what they want, they actually fail to realize they have already been defeated.

Whatever you want, is merely a step away. So the question remains…which direction are you heading in or are you even moving at all?

Shakin’

I heard this song the other day and it reminded me of a session I had with a prosperity coach named Annita. Just writing that sounds funny, but let me explain.

On any given week I can audition up to three times. Before this disastrous piece of shit known as covid came into our lives, sometimes it was four or five. “Back in the day” I had the opportunity to get up in front of people, now like you, when I want to meet people I am potentially going to work for, I have to sit at my computer.

While most of you probably don’t worry about your background or lighting when taking these meetings, I do. It’s a production! I have a ring light that I cart around the house with me to try and find the best background.

Generally I would use my make-shift studio but my husband’s office is in the basement so I can’t go there. The kitchen is off limits, as is the dining room and living room, because my youngest son is at home now being taught on his computer and he has decided that being near the refrigerator is the best place for him to work.

I get it! He literally eats every two hours! The kids weighs 180 and is rock solid muscle! I like having him home; he’s a real charmer and it beats the three hour commute he takes daily when he is in school where I worry about him non-stop. I don’t know how many times you can tell a kid to make sure they call you when they get on one train to head to another, but this guy has been told at least a thousand and still…no call. The up side to him working in the kitchen, aside from the fridge, is I get to hear when he isn’t paying attention. “Do you have an A in this class?” is all I need to say and he quickly re-engages.

With all that said, I usually go upstairs to take the meetings because my two older boys are off at college and I have my pick of two rooms. They are complete opposites in taste and style, but have an equal amount of brilliance, so it all boils down to where I can’t hear anyone downstairs. My family is loud. I hate loud!

I don’t know about you, but trying to find a room in your house that isn’t like you are in surround sound is becoming a hot commodity. It’s not normal for people to be home together all the time. Men left the cave at some point to go hunt for months at a time! The only hunting going on over right cheer (read here), is me trying to find quiet space!

Sometimes, like last week, I log into the meeting early (I am always early to everything) and just sit there and go over my lines. I’m always prepared but then the committee gets involved and I start to get nervous (the committee of course are the million thoughts in me head that ask why are you doing this, followed by you will never get it!) Sometimes my hands sweat and my mouth gets dry. I start to forget the lines I have so well rehearsed. It’s at this point that I want to cancel the call and say f%^& it! And I have!

Well, I never understood this behavior because I like acting more than anything. Annita, who happens to be a Human Design expert, looked over my body graph chart and started explaining open centers and lines and I was blown away. Apparently I am a Projector (only 20% of the population is). Not only does this type have to wait for the invitation, they can burn out when they go after things they haven’t been invited to. . Me, wait? I’m a go-getter. I don’t wait for anything, which explained why I feel burned out a lot of the time. She also said that due to certain numbers and lines crossing and being unidentified, I will reject things before they have the chance to reject me.

The lingo was quite intense but the message was very clear. Keep doing me but don’t push. Allow for the opportunities to show up instead of trying to make them happen and most importantly, feel the fear and do it anyway, because fear shuts down abundance and fear is nothing more than excitement without breath.

In the 30 minutes I talked to her, I felt as though someone finally got me and on top of that, everything she said made perfect sense. I now go into auditions with that shortness of breath and stop for a moment and realize this is nothing more than excitement because I have an opportunity in front of me.

So, my message is learn to love the shakin’. It means you are excited and that an opportunity for something really awesome is right in front of you. What you do with it is up to you, but I now embrace the nerves because I know on the other side of them is happiness.

And may you find quiet space in your space and covet it. I personally live for Saturday and Sunday when my husband drives my youngest to New Jersey to train with a coach. Ahhhh….I can almost hear the nothingness now.