In my last post, I wrote about reconnecting with my family and my roots while home for my Pop Pop’s funeral. Hearing the stories of Pop Pop’s life was fascinating and inspiring. I’ve always wished people would open up and share with each other more instead of keeping things tucked away. I would have loved the opportunity to hear my Pop Pop tell me about his experience on the Hindenburg, but I am grateful I got to learn about it after his death. It’s incredible how you can keep discovering new things even after someone has left your life.
While I was home, I made a point of checking out of social media and getting off the grid so I could be present in the events happening around me. I’m glad I did. I wrote at length about my experiences with my family and the funeral in my last post, but I also spent some time in Philly listening to my soul. I love acting, writing, singing, improv, and photography. My website even has sections dedicated to each of these important parts of myself that contribute to the whole of my being. Why so many different facets to my life and personality? I love life, but I love actually living it way more. Oh, and I can't be put in a box.
Life is a balancing act. If you become too centered or focused on one aspect of your life, you take away focus and resulting joy, from the other areas. For instance, let’s say your life is primarily career-centered. If every decision you make in life is because you value your career above everything else, you will question all of those decisions if your career isn’t going the way you want it to go. Your relationships will fail, you'll miss weddings and birthdays, your friendships will be affected, and your overall happiness will be totally contingent on a whole bunch of external factors. The same thing goes for being too family-centered; if all of your energy is poured into your family, the individual members of the family and their opinions or personal issues will have an unhealthy effect on your vision of yourself. Why? Because in both cases your happiness is contingent on external validation.
That’s why it’s important to listen to your soul and not your ego. Your ego will tell you that you're doing something wrong because of how you appear to others; your soul will warn you that it might be time to do something you enjoy for yourself because you can’t help or be there for others if you aren’t there for yourself first. Ego is external; soul is internal.
After all the funeral proceedings of Saturday night, I knew I needed to do something soul-based. I decided to head into Philly on Sunday with one of my friends from college I hadn’t seen since our mutual friends’ wedding last April. Prior to leaving LA for the weekend, I’d put out a feeler to my Philadelphia network to find out about the improv scene and to see if anyone wanted some inexpensive headshots. I heard from my best friends, of course, regarding my trip home, as well as some others regarding the improv scene, but it was my friend from college who actually invited me to an improv show at Comedy Sportz and then took me up on my headshot offer.
It was really nice. We saw a show and ate some lunch, I took some new headshots of him, and we caught up. I also realized how fulfilling it is when someone (who isn’t your immediate family or in your closest-knit circle of friends) supports your creativity because he’s able to connect with what you’re writing. While we were catching up, I came to realize that not only was he supporting my creative photography endeavor by taking me up on the headshots offer (check my Instagram story for some shots - @JohnyTheGirl), he also reads the blogs I write and watched my Underpaintsclub video. The feeling I got when I realized the amount of support he was giving to me was one of overwhelming gratitude.
If I had worried the entire weekend about everyone else and placed their needs above my own, ignoring my soul telling me I needed to do something creative, I would have missed out on the beautiful discovery of that gratitude for my friend’s support. Balance is extremely important. Those couple hours we spent together in Philly were so fun and so fulfilling; they provided me the balance I needed on a weekend otherwise cast with the faint shadow of my Pop Pop’s funeral. I can’t wait to catch up with my friend again when I’m back east in a couple months performing with my musical improv team Garage Band at the Del Close Marathon (DCM). He and I talked about long-form and musical improv for a long time, and I’m so grateful he was able to grasp the importance of and my excitement for DCM.
I’ve said it before, and I truly mean it. If you have a dream you're truly committed to, I want you to have it. If you're willing to make hard sacrifices and drop unnecessary distractions to achieve your goals, I’m all in. And I really want to help and be a part of your journey. I support the people I surround myself with because I believe in them. I’m grateful that I have such fearless, passionate friends who work toward their goals, but there’s a reason people find each other. Even if people get distracted along the way, they always end up where they belong: with kindred spirits. Kindred spirits, however, can be positive or negative influences - it depends on the individual’s perspective and his choice to either break previous patterns and grow or to fall back into old patterns and remain unchanged.
I think this is a good place to stop for now. I had an absolutely amazing weekend with my family, but I am so incredibly excited to be back home in LA; there was nothing like stepping off the plane and heading straight to practice with my musical improv team. I’m so grateful for this amazing, exciting life. So until next time, starve your ego and feed your soul, and stay balanced! And, of course, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further or pick my brain, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’m here for you!