Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Peace of the Theatre: Reentering the World, But Leaving the Drama Behind

They say that it’s not safe for a recovering alcoholic to return to the same friends and hangouts they used to have.

I took that message to heart when I found myself overwhelmed by bad habits, an unhealthy body image and addictions when I quit stripping almost two decades ago.

It wasn’t alcohol or drugs that ruled my world, rather sexual addictions and a need for drama.

I hung up my stilettos and unfortunately, my acting shoes, too, because I could not really separate one stage from another. I left behind my greatest dreams to find a peace of mind I yearned for more than a successful acting career.

There was plenty to fill the gap: I returned to school and shifted my focus from my external self to everything I could accomplish solely with the powers of my mind.

I found new happiness and success: valedictorian of my college, an MFA in Creative Writing, a yoga teacher certification (although, granted, this involved my body, too), a published book, a college teaching career, a husband, a family.

And, finally: Peace.

Sure, the acting bug would pop its shiny head up every now and then and the question would rise: What if?
It wasn’t until my work friend mentioned auditions at a theatre she was involved in that I actually paused and thought: Maybe I should; Maybe I will…

I did. I auditioned. For the first time in fifteen years, and it felt good.

Picture of Sheila Hageman as Gwen Landis
I felt like I was back in my element. Back amongst people who understood my love to make believe and my search for understanding.

Playing Gwen Landis in Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July” at the Town Players of Newtown has brought back the joy, the commitment, and interestingly—the peace without the drama of my younger self.

The peace that I find onstage when I release myself to my character and let the rest of the world stop.

This is why I acted. I had forgotten the transportation of self I experience—that same expression of a deeper self I experience when I write, when I teach, when I practice yoga, when I love my family.

I see the cross-connection—the exuberance of experience, of entering a deeply felt sense of life and awe of being.

I open myself to this and allow myself to be attentive to my next steps upon this journey.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Positive Body Image Means We Can Love Our Bodies Just as They Are But Still Want to Create Change

Positive body image means loving ourselves as we are now, even if we also wish to make changes to our outer appearance.
Brooklyn resident Matt Diaz embodies this positive body image message.
After losing half his body weight, Diaz had an excess amount of skin. Always a promoter of healthy body image, he felt to be truly honest with the world that he needed to show what lay beneath his incredible transformation.
Diaz posted video of what he looks like now and requested people donate to a fund to help him afford the excess skin removal surgery. He will now be able to afford the surgery thanks to the positive turnout from strangers ready to support him.
He explains that although he does want surgery to fix the skin issue, it is not that he does not love himself just the way he is.
"There's nothing wrong with wanting to change things," Diaz said. "I refuse to hate my body. I just want to be better."
This is a message that oftentimes is hard to understand, but is so vital to "get" as we seek to move to a new way of viewing our own selves.
I remember one yoga client I had who struggled with her weight her entire life. Her main reason for working with me and trying yoga was to get rid of her excess belly weight.
A drive to improve the way one looks is often the precipitating factor that causes one to begin yoga or any kind of new workout regimen. Of course, we can usually see the positive health benefits, too, but oftentimes, outer appearance is what first motivates us to change.
Unfortunately, that very fact can sometimes make or break whether one will stick with the program and whether one will be improving one's body image or mangling it more in the process.
We can desire to make positive changes, even in our physical appearance, which can sometimes be thought of as being superficial, and still have a positive body image while we're at it.
What I kept stressing to my client, which she had a hard time grasping, as most of us do, is just because we want to change our outer appearance, doesn't mean we can't love how we look right now.
We do not have to lie to ourselves either about what we'd like to change or what we don't like; we can be honest about not liking our cellulite or our muffin top or whatever it is that we are setting out to improve upon.
The attitude that can derail us from improving out body image is when we are angry at ourselves for how we look now, or when we feel that how we look now is something to be fought and railed against.
The key is to recognize that those "imperfections" we see do not make us any less a valuable person.
Positive body image does not mean having a "perfect" body, but rather loving the body we have today, even while we might want to make some changes.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dream Bigger, Then Grow

By Michelle Worthington

The quote that sums up my writing mission is, "Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself."

First, you have to work. Nothing comes easy in this life and your passion must be proportionate to the size of your goal. I am not afraid of hard work.

Second, keep working until you make it happen. It might be a long hard slog and there will be times you want to give up, but your tenacity must be stronger than your self-doubt.

Finally, be known as an expert in your field. Some people may mistake my goal of brand recognition as vanity or showmanship, but I can't help people if they don't know who I am. I can't share my story with them, inspire them or make a difference in this world if I sit back and wait for them to come looking for me. 

They won't.
Photo of Michelle Worthington
I have never implied I am more talented, special or worthy than anyone else and that is not what marketing yourself as a brand is about.  I can promise you that as long as I see a need, I will try to fill it. It is my duty, not only to myself, but to my children and my community to use my talents to increase the greater good. I will work hard so that when people hear my name, they will smile.

My second goal is to be interviewed on breakfast television about my writing.  The third is to increase brand awareness of Michelle Worthington, Author, on social media. The fourth is to sell more books. The final goal is to get speaking engagements nationally at writers’ festivals and women's groups where most authors make the majority of their income.

Providing for my family and setting a good example for our kids is above other things why I want to be successful. Strangely enough, I wouldn't put this as my top reason for wanting to be a writer. When your goal is hard, and your dream is bigger than your comfort zone, can living a dream for someone else really be enough to keep you motivated?

Is it so awful to want to achieve something just for yourself? Have we become so scared of being labeled 'selfish' and a 'bad mother' because we want to feel good about ourselves for something we alone have accomplished?  My kids love me and they want me to be happy, so does hubby. But, do they want the dream I have? Do they share my passion? The answer is no. Doing it for them is not enough. I have to do it for myself. What other people think of me is a huge achievement-blocker that needs to be overcome because when my goal becomes difficult to reach, it will be easy to stop and justify failure by saying it didn't turn out to be the right thing for my family and I will listen to the million reasons why I shouldn't keep trying.

What if it was the right thing for me and I just gave in because it meant my family would have had to make some changes and sacrifices for me to achieve it? My goal will also create my sanity and is my salvation. When I do achieve my goals, with the love and support of my family, it will be something I have done for myself and I want to be proud of that.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten Clues You’re a Mom and Not a Stripper Anymore

1)      The only time you whip out your breasts in public is to nurse your hungry baby.

2)      The best compliment you’ve received lately is when your husband saw you in jeans a few weeks postpartum and said, “You look good. Not thin, not fat, just normal” and it made you feel awesome.

3)      The comment “How beautiful!” lobbed in your direction no longer makes you think you might be able to sell a lap dance, but rather that you need to lock your daughter in her bedroom until she turns eighteen.

4)      The only hands you need to worry about tugging on your clothes and pulling your underpants down belong to fingers sticky with candy.

5)      You are now actually responsible for cleaning up all incidents of vomit, urine and feces that happen in your vicinity.

6)      Underwear is no longer about how much you can show, but how much you can hold in.

7)      The last time you had a Brazilian, it was a bag of take-out and didn’t involve hot wax, tears or walking funny the next day.

8)      The only bouncer in your employ is not a massive bodybuilder named Vinny, but a springy seat with baby elephants and kangaroos on it.

9)      The only bottle service you’re negotiating is whether you or your husband will be taking the 3 am feeding with baby.

10)  Instead of guys hassling you to negotiate for bjs, it’s all about fending off repeated requests for PB&Js.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Here is a Man and Look at His Hot Wife!

Daily Mail had such an egregious article title of how women are relegated to only being important for how they look that I had to share: 'Most comedy talent in one place!' Jerry Seinfeld beams at SNL's 40th anniversary as wife Jessica, 43, shows off toned figure.

Jerry gets to “beam” and be quoted while Jessica gets to tag along to show off her body, as if that is the only reason she exists, to be a pretty piece of arm candy for her husband.

She doesn’t even get to beam in adulation of her comic husband.

Oh! But don’t worry, while Jessica doesn’t get to say anything, at least her purse does!

“Her gold purse made a statement with the word 'Saturday' emblazoned across the front.”

Thank goodness she had her purse, or she might not have even known where she was or what day it was, huh?

And it’s not like Jerry doesn’t appreciate what he owns, as the writer sees it: “Still, the 60-year-old comedian appeared to be keen on showcasing something else - his 43-year-old wife's enviable figure.”

Oh yeah, uh-huh. I can tell that’s what Jerry is doing there.

Look at what Mail Online does next—Jerry must be happy, so that calls for a metaphor—you now, fancy writing: “The Seinfeld actor looked like the cat that got the cream as he wrapped his arm around the fit blonde.”

Jerry is a cat and his wife becomes an inanimate object.

But Daily Mail figures the photos can’t be enough, so we get a luscious description of Jessica’s body parts, errr, I mean, outfit: “Jessica's clingy purple Narciso Rodriguez jumpsuit called attention to her muscular arms, and its low-cut bodice put her cleavage on full show.”

Perhaps realizing how objectifying the article was becoming, the reader gets to learn that Jennifer actually is something besides Jerry’s wife: “The cookbook author completed the look with a black double-chain necklace and colorful dangling earrings. Her blonde locks were slicked back and she had on a bright red lip.”

Finally, we get a mention of Jerry’s attire: “Meanwhile Jerry looked dapper in a black tuxedo, crisp white shirt and black bow tie.”

Umm, yeah, his outfit just gets a sentence because we know what a man wears isn’t important, it’s what he does. So then we get a description of his experience of the SNL 40th Anniversary special.

I understand that it’s a night about comedy and he’s a comedian and that’s why the article is about him, but why does his wife have to get turned into just an objectified thing for the night?

Can you imagine if Daily Mail wrote an article about one of the female comedians there with the title:  'Most comedy talent in one place!' Tina Fey beams at SNL's 40th anniversary as husband Jeff Richmond, shows off buff figure?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Embrace Your Inner Madonna

Perhaps it’s because I was a teenager when Madonna was first hitting it big in the 1908s, but I still hold a spot in my heart for her ability to stay relevant in our fast-moving, youth-loving culture.

And perhaps it has something to do with being a bit of a rebellion myself when I was younger by embracing my sexuality and expressing it as a stripper and nude model, but I can’t get on the bandwagon and bash Madonna’s performance at the Grammy’s.

The Daily Mail called it:


The message repeated ad nauseum seems to be that it’s OK for young artists to show cleavage and butt, but when it comes to anyone over the age of thirty—whoa! Better reign it in, old lady!

But even worse than her age is that she’s a mother!

Dear God! No! A mom who wants to continue a life of her own? A mom who believes she still gets to be who she is no matter how old she is or how many kids she has?

I’m not saying every mom should run out there and flash her body to the world, but if it’s what Madonna wants to do, then her age or parental status should have nothing to do with it.

Madonna is doing all of us mothers a favor by showing we can still embrace our Rebel Hearts.

Age is just a number.

Parental status is just one aspect of what makes up a person.

Celebrate who you are and what you want to do in life and how you want to express it.

Embrace your inner Madonna.

Express your Rebel Heart.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Yoga Pick Me Up to "Waves" by Mr. Probz

When I first began making my dance videos last year, they were meant to help push me into joy. I think they helped me to remember how important it is for me to have some sort of outer expression of my internal joy and that I really want to share the joy I feel with the world.

I want to show others who suffer from depression that there is hope for us all; we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones sometimes though when it comes to finding help that will work.

I’m still trying to find what therapeutic methods work best for me and how I might be able to help others find relief, too.

In that light, I thought I would try my hand at some yoga videos to share the joy I experience when I’m flowing through some asanas.

It truly is hard to feel depressed when your body is moving to some music that you love.

So, even if you’ve never tried yoga before, this is a great way to start. When you need a pick me up, if you can remember and convince yourself to move, even just for the length of a song, you may feel better.

Please forgive my beginner video skills, which cause my head to get chopped off. And Tiger Lilly makes a brief appearance.