All the World’s a Stage (Date 5 of 35)

15 Sep

At the age of four, I walked down the stairs, dressed in my Mama’s high heels, a broad rimmed hat, multiple necklaces and no fewer than six of my Mama’s nightgowns, layered strategically to swirl while I turned. In my hand I held my Fisher Price tape player with attached microphone. I paused at the bottom of the stairs with my back towards my Mama, turned and looked over my shoulder, hit the “play” button, grabbed the microphone and yelled “HIT IT!” I guess you could say that I was a “ham” from an early age.

The hardest part of acting is being yourself. There is a tendency on the part of actors to “overact”. The best way to illustrate this is with a radio show. Think of the stereotypical “WACKY MORNING DJ”. Now think of a talk show where the hosts are simply discussing topics, not as a character but as themselves. We are drawn to the later type of radio show because it’s authentic. People crave authenticity. Authenticity requires consciousness. Consciousness requires you to be focused on the “here and now.” Not the past. Not the future. Completely focused on the present.

Today I met with Dating Coach, Jess McCann. Jess and I talked about many things but one thing that she said stood out. I have a tendency to get lost in my own thoughts. I alluded to this in an earlier post of mine, “The Kiss I Missed.” I can be physically present in a situation but my mind is already racing into the future, anticipating various scenarios, outcomes and planning for the unknown. This keeps me from being “present” and “conscious” and, because of this, some authenticity is lost and I’m not entirely able to be myself.

This past Tuesday, I started an acting class for adults at the local community center. The first class focused on body and mind awareness. The instructor had us perform “isolation” exercises, where we concentrated on various parts of our body and how those parts felt, and how they moved, in different scenarios. We then explored the mind/body connection, focusing on how we felt when we forced ourselves to smile, or forced a frown. When we laughed or when we tried to cry. Some students didn’t understand the importance of these exercises and the instructor responded by saying that, when you are focused on the present, you are able to let go of self-consciousness which allows you to be a better actor. “By focusing on your body and your mind, in the present, you are able to notice things that would go unnoticed”, she said.

I met Dave after that first class, with that last quote fresh in my mind. We met at a cute Italian restaurant. He’s a foodie and I was more than happy to let him take the reigns with ordering. It was fabulous! I have a habit of defaulting to the same restaurants and/or the same meals. I’m very happy that I allowed Dave to run this show! We sat at a table in the far back corner. Maybe it was the isolation exercises, or maybe the discussions with the dating coaches or the simple act of participating in this 35/35 project. Most likely, it was a combination of them all. Whatever the reason, I felt very “aware” while I was with Dave. I noticed when my mind raced into the future and, when it did, I pulled it back into the present. Instead of listening to my internal thoughts, I used my energy to completely focus on Dave. By focusing, I found that I talked less and listened more. Not only did I hear what he said, I heard how he said it. I also saw more. I noticed the fold in the collar of his shirt. How his blonde hair curled upwards at the top of his head. How he bit his lip when he encountered a moment of silence in our conversation.

I found that, by being “present”, I was able to let go of self-consciousness and just “be myself” which allowed me to focus on Dave. By focusing on Dave, I was able to get to know his character. And it’s good. As I left our date that evening, I found that I was acutely aware of everything around me. I looked up and saw the bright moon and noticed its beauty. I felt, authentic. And it felt good.

The Present

“The more you notice about yourself, the more complete you are.”

– Stephanie Hanna

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6 Responses to “All the World’s a Stage (Date 5 of 35)”

  1. Hall's Post September 15, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    One way to work on being present is take improv classes. http://www.dcimprov.com or focus on your breathing. On dates focus on the date on making them comfortable and getting to know them. In improv we do a technique called mirroring.. this works in life too. I do this with babies as well. Just mirror the person’s body language and tone. It shows you are insynch. Ever notice how when you take a drink the person next to also takes a drink? That’s mirroring and is a good sign. This technique can be used when doing a job interview. Mirror the interviewer’s body language if possible subtly.

    Hungry to develop your intuition? The first step is to quiet your mind. With too much brain-blathering it’s impossible to hear the subtle whispers of Source’s secrets… Skip this step, and frustration may be your only result. So, how can you quiet the ol’ cerebral-computer today?

    Also on dates.. the guy should be running the show.. let go.. otherwise you are behaving like the man.. this is my problem too.. I take charge.. try not to!

  2. Dave Elliott September 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Wow…each post gets better than the last! Great job, Rita! Something tells me Dave came away from the date with a pretty good feeling. Great job on allowing him to choose the place and take care of you. Sounds like he did a pretty good job with it, too. So let me recap the experience…when you allow yourself to be vulnerable…a man will step up and care for you. If this was a shampoo bottle, it would say lather, rinse, repeat…I wonder if it will work again…say, tonight?

  3. Rita September 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Marlene: I totally agree, learning how to quiet one’s mind is a key skill and one that I’m definitely attempting to master!

    Dave: At what point is letting a guy “run the show” no longer taking care of you, but rather “control”? It seems like it goes either way for me. I’ll end up letting them run the ENTIRE show, without taking my wants/needs into consideration or I’ll totally run the show myself! I did enjoy last night, and Date Dave did a great job taking care of things/me. But I want to be sure that I don’t mistake a man’s too controlling nature of “care and nuture”.

    • Marlene September 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      Controlling is when a guy won’t let you see your friends and be yourself. I knew a guy like that. He was always with his gf and she could never get any alone time with her girlfriends.. that is control.

      Letting a guy lead means.. he sets the date, and letting things flow naturally. But you should feel comfortable to be yourself and not afraid to be yourself. It’s allowing the guy to woo you.

  4. Keely Keyser September 15, 2011 at 1:37 pm #

    Rita you are truly amazing! In a weird way I feel as if I am reading a self help book, watching an inspirational movie and talking to a friend every time I read your blog! Keep up the good work! We are all learning to be stronger, more self confident and inspired by your actions!

    • Rita September 15, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      YOU are amazing Keely! I am just one big, walking, self-help book, that’s for sure 😉 The reason I take the actions I am are because I’m constantly inspired by people like YOU – remember that! I’m not going to let the 35 dates keep me from finding some time to get together with you – if you can stay in town 🙂

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