At first, it's the guilt. It's the idea that if you take even a moment out of the routine, the hustle, all you've accomplished will crumble. You'll fall behind. Everything will come to a screeching halt. And oddly enough, I discovered that's exactly what I needed... I needed everything to come to a screeching halt. I have just returned from a two week vacation. That's right, I said vacation. Two Week. Vacation. Or as I like joke, a two week time out.
Now these feelings of career set back or loss of control are not unique to being an actor, but for some reason since I returned to performing I feel them more keenly. When I was working in the corporate world or in hospitality, I didn't bat an eye. Vacation? Yes! ...and here, let me make sure I put my auto reply on this here e-mail! Buh-bye!
Yet, this year, for some reason, it was harder. But as the days approached to head out of town I knew it was the thing to do. My brain had gone in to overload. I was having trouble motivating and I felt emotionally drained and overwhelmed. I need to regenerate.
While gone, I made the conscious choice to only check my e-mail once daily and to try to use my phone as a camera only. I wasn't going to think about projects that needed to be done, those website changes, my new headshots, my next narration. I was just going to enjoy the moments and live in them! And I had great moments (Thank you BFF Lisa Clough and gang!), I read a couple of books for the sake of reading....not to prep and be aware of the vocabulary and tone and character choices. I checked off some bucket list items, I belly danced on a table top (stone cold sober), I did hookah (coconut flavored), I shopped, I ate whatever I wanted (this included a 13 oz hamburger I am proud-ish to admit), I went to an 80's disco, caught a drag show, I sat at the pool for hours, walked the beach. I witnessed a riot on my flight (not so cool and kind of scary) and I went to bed early. In other words, I lived.
And living...living is what makes us better actors. Until this vacation, I had no idea what a fight on a plane would look like or feel like...the fear when those fully loaded police and federals come on board...what getting a red card meant (well...I knew what being red carded in footie was) and how "trapped" I felt by the circumstances around me. Now I do. Now I can pull on that sense of unease.
One of my professors always used to tell us the best thing we could do for ourselves as actors was to live and this past year, I lost touch with that a little. I put myself on a focus train and while I am glad I did and the results of that discipline have been wonderful, I forgot to take a moment and remember to just be and experience. I also learned that for me, I need to take a vacation more often. It doesn't have to be a two week vaca, it can be a long week end, but that regeneration is really important to my psyche.
So, how was it when I got back? My focus was sharper, my drive was escalated, I was ready to hit the road running. And I did. I went right back in to the studio to record pick ups and two books and I got cast as a stage mom in a short film. I feel more grounded and, as always, with travel to new places, I am wiser and fuller and more. Huh...that's it, in a weird funny little way...I am "more". Wow, I need to put myself in timeout more often!