Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Romance is Alive and Well!

Where did I start to cultivate this idea that romance is a wonderful way to enjoy life?  Disney? As if that's the only way romance can bloom in a person - hah!  The more television I watch covering news and dramatic series, the more I become devastated by how cynical our culture has become.  Shows like Black Mirror (BBC) and even shows that are designed to make me laugh at the news (like John Oliver or The Daily Show) only serve to remind me that I live in a backward and negative world.

So what do I do to remain romantic?  Well, I read romance novels as much as possible.  I used to shy away from telling people this because I thought this pastime implied I was an idiot, though I don't actually think that's true of myself or my friends who also love reading romance novels.  What I love about these novels is the fact that the formula for love is clear and I know this book will have a happy ending.  Life doesn't work like that.  I don't care if the story is implausible and would never happen in a million years, the point is I get to enjoy the feelings of cheering a couple on to love because that's fun and inspiring!

Simple human kindness seems a romantic ideal and is behavior our fast paced society overlooks often, myself included.  I feel like I'd really like to be able to invite a little more kindness into my everyday, which makes me think of romance and people simply being courteous to one another. The Victorian era is a favorite in romance novels.  The time was not ideal and had many more problems than we focus on in these novels, but the reason so many romances are historical is because society has a set of rules that people lived by, including taking someone at his or her word.  That is a ridiculous idea these days because if you don't "get it in writing," the agreement is not lawfully supported.  Yet another realm of cynicism that our society requires.

Bottom Line: I like it when I am courteous to someone and they acknowledge that kindness.  The opposite is true that I enjoy when others do me a kindness that I acknowledge.   Simple, but not a commonly employed idea here in L.A.  This starts with me, and I vow to do my best to be kind (with an impish gleam in my eye) to those around me.  Here goes!!!

Happy New Year 2015!

Copyright 2014 Dr. Heather Corwin

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Egotism is Not JOY

I have a few God given talents.  I know I do - because I believe everyone has a few.  Mine happen to be teaching actor training, healing through Rolfing, and tenacity.  I have above average intelligence, but I know many people smarter than I am.  This past year I've discovered something new in myself that I have been taking time to examine: guilt at enjoying and celebrating my talents. 

It's not like I rub my talent in people's faces, which would be egotistical.   Somehow I've linked this teaching ability (take the leap with me) to the idea that I may get attached to students liking me.  Well, students usually do like me, but in all honesty, I'm much more attached to the idea that they have to learn something than they have to like me.  Regardless, liking your teacher is not a prerequisite for staying in the course. 

This past semester was magical for me on many levels.  The students I was teaching, some familiar and some new, were reaching new levels of curiosity, achievement, and understanding of the material I was teaching.  I felt like I may have just entered a golden age of my teaching career because I feel like I more deeply applied nuanced individual teaching to my students in ways that supported them to soar in the material!  Witnessing their growth in acting as performers and as people was a gift and a delight!

And then I started to wonder about wanting them to like me too much, in a similar vein to my ego wanting great reviews as an actor.  Though the result is not the same thing, I somehow tangled approval in my mind to both types of reactions to me.  As a result, I was aware that I was creating a space where I would not allow myself to enjoy the relationships of the students as much as I wanted to because I was afraid I would become egotistical and NEED the adoration of my students. 

Upon great reflection over the duration of this past semester, I've come to realize that confidence is not egotism.  Joy is not arrogance.  Trust is not dependance or validation, it's a special event that occurs when people have respect for each other.  I want to take back the moments of holding back joy!!!  I delight in my students and I revel in my successes as a teacher. I promise myself to not confuse these ideas again in the future.  I promise to unleash my joy!

This is my foremost New Years' resolution!  2015 is going to be GREAT!

Copyright 2014 Dr. Heather Corwin

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yoga Wrings Out the Body
There are days when I'm able to enjoy the idea of returning to my yoga practice and open up my body with enthusiasm.  On such days, I can't usually make it to a yoga studio, so my go-to DVD is Shiva Rea's YOGA SHAKTI, which offers the ability to choose several practices OR I can build my own sequence.  Today, I chose the basic flow, which is about 45 minutes.  Ahhhh.

Resting always feels better to me when I've done some motion with my body.  Today, I also had the added benefit of enjoying my little kitten, Loki, jumping on my arm and wrestling me - which made me cackle with delight.

Every day I need to test my inner and outer energy level.  Then I see where I am that day to best decide how to proceed with motion.  Some days, that will lead me to a walk.  Other days I will want to do a strenuous full body work out.

Today, I'm thrilled that I did what I needed.  What do you need today?

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Kindness Always Surprises Me

I have a few people in my life who endlessly surprise me with their compassion and honest concern for others.  One such person often gets accused of being an upstart because he actually leads others to fight for their rights and to make the world a better place.  He is truly an altruistic warrior.  It seems to me as I've witnessed people react to his actions that doing this makes some people feel inadequate or small and they lash out at him.

My first reaction to a situation is usually to sit back and assess, whereas the people I'm thinking of who are kind assume the people involved have good intentions.  While that point of view is not my first, I do wish sometimes that I had this belief.  How great would it be if I actually thought everyone was kind?  Clearly, my first thought after this one is, "well, couldn't lumping everyone as KIND be problematic too?"  Yep.

I think the lesson here is that borrowing ways to see the world can be useful in some instances and not others.  When I'm having a particularly trying day, I can borrow the kind outlook on life and see if that makes my day better.  On some occasions, I know it has.

Borrow some kindness today and see how that works for you!  I'd love to hear your experience!

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Walk in the Park

Saturday was a lovely day for many reasons.  The temperature was 101 - in October.  Oh. L.A.   However, my husband and child let me sleep in and we all went out to breakfast.  Afterward, at our daughter's suggestion, we went to our local park where she enjoyed the swing, her favorite park activity.  My vibrant daughter prefers my husbands' pushes to mine - so I was able to stretch in the shade.  Ah.

Yesterday was less active, but I did mindfully rest for 5 minutes in savasanah. Instead of excuses, I'm simply proud I was able to find a small but effective part of my day to be mindfully physically present.

Today, after lunch, I spent quite some time doing some stretches on the floor and standing.  I can feel the blood moving, which feels like energy flow!

Baby steps.  And I love it!

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Getting Back to ME

There are days when I look at my self and I sigh with resignation that who I am now is close to who I want to be...but I'm not quite there yet.  What makes me feel this way is when I look in the mirror, I notice I don't quite look like I did before I had a child though I'm close to the same weight.  I was physically a power house before my child and now I barely have time to take a walk once a week.  So how do I get back to me?

This morning for the first time in a LONG time, I did a sun salutation.  And then I felt better than I have in a long time.  Movement for me is integral to my happiness.  It's how I manage stress, it's how I work out my inner turmoil, and it's how I feel strong.  Ironically, it's the first thing I tend to put to the side when my time is at a premium - and it's the most important resource I have as a human being.

The next bunch of blog posts are going to chronicle how I reintegrate moving back into my life.  Some of that may be in the form of laying on different types of objects that open up muscular tension (like a ball), or bamboo, or just simply stretching - or actually using the tread mill I was so eager to buy so I could walk at night in my house.  Sigh.

I urge you to take the GETTING BACK TO ME challenge if you need it!  One step at a time....

Copyright 2014 Heather L. Corwin

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready for ACTION!

I remember one of my first acting teachers telling me, "a relaxed actor can do anything."  I agree.  Well, I'm currently performing in a staged reading and I'm finding the many tools I practiced to remain "relaxed" are not as close to me as they once were.  In other words, taking time off from theatre acting while raising a child, now 3 years old, has had an impact.

The role I'm currently playing demands emotional commitment.  What that means is in my moments of expressing big emotions, I'm finding I have tension that doesn't leave after the performance.  What I used to do was practice yoga, stretching, and walking all the time.  Now I'm lucky to take a walk around my neighborhood.

Being well - and taking that a step further being fit - is not something easily practiced in my life as I know it.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires time and attention, and  must become a priority.  As a point of truth, for me to be a successful and healthy person and actress, I have to prioritize attention to stretch and hone my physical state of being. 

Ways that I know work well for me are modern dance, improv dance, yoga, swimming, and walking.  What are your favorite ways to connect to your physical power and ease?

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Perception is Crazy Making

There are days when I wake up and feel great, think I look great, and I walk tall (see image on right).  Then there are days when I look at my reflection and see a woman who is overweight, saggy, frizzy hair, and not attractive (see troll on left).  How can these perceptions coexist from day to day?  Maddening.

So how can I maintain my positive feelings and decrease my negative?  One very crucial way for me seems to be to maintain my active lifestyle.  Before having my child, I used to be extremely fit and practice yoga continually.  If I didn't do that, I found another avenue to remain happy.  I other words, I know that my physical activity profoundly affects my mental states.  Plus, being fit helps me feel attractive and look more attractive to myself and others.  Creating the change I wish to see in me takes time and learning.  I have to discover how to find the time to do all that I want to do in my life - including being fit.

Another point I feel I need to make is that I have the shortcoming of associating my outward appearance with sex appeal.  Though I don't often project my standards onto others, I have a deeply rooted belief that if I'm slightly overweight (not according to science which has me at my optimum weight), I am not attractive.  Thank God my husband does not adhere to my overzealous beliefs on this matter!

The bottom line here is to find balance in my life and in my mind.  I'm really hard on myself and have no patience or tolerance for areas in my life that may require time to make adjustments.  If this applies to you as well, I encourage you to practice compassion and self-care - as I am trying to do for myself.   "(We) are beautiful, no matter what they say..."

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin

Monday, February 10, 2014

Call backs and what they Mean

Many of my acting students like to talk to me about call backs and what they mean, most especially when I'm directing a show.  Usually what it means to be called back is that the people casting believe you have the ability to do the job they're calling you for, but they need final chemistry checks with other people.  

Guidelines to land the job:
  1. If you've already said you are available for some times, make sure you're available.  Unless you have another call back that is equally important, do NOT say you have other plans.  This implies you don't care about the project.
  2. Be prompt and prepared.  If you're supposed to print out something and have it prepared, make sure you do so.  NOT doing so insures you NOT getting cast.
  3. If you have questions about a character or the story, try to see how other people may have addressed this in other productions (if applicable) so that you have some ideas of how to address your challenge when you get to it.
  4. A kind actor will get cast faster and more often than a talented undependable person.  The things you have under control should be under your control (on time, memorized, available when needed, etc.)
  5. Dress the part.  If you have any idea of what the director might be going for, OR YOU have an idea of how you'd like to make a choice regarding a character - DO IT.  Choices are what you get hired for, even if they may not have originally been the director's inclination.
Bottom line: if you don't want to prepare or be at call backs or rehearsals, don't be an actor.

Copyright 2014 Heather Corwin