Showing Up Part 2

So—a month ago I wrote a blog about how hard it has been for me to show up lately. I was talking about this formula I use a lot in coaching:

Show Up

Pay Attention

Tell the Truth

Don’t be Attached to the Outcome 

And then the blog I wrote got all long and convoluted and strayed into how hard it had been for me to show up in the past. You know me. I tend to ramble. So I said I’d post a new blog: Showing Up Part 2—in one week.

So now a month has gone by. You know me. I tend to procrastinate. But anyway, here’s what’s happening.

In less than a week, I’m doing a showcase of a show I wrote called: Unwrap the Present: Life (coaching) is a Cabaret.  This is enormously exciting and soul-pukingly terrifying in equal measure.

Here’s how it came about. I did this show last spring at the Martha Beck convention and also at a little theatre here in LA. My husband’s manager, Mr. Hollywood (not his real name) came to see it and he really liked it. Now—he’s never particularly liked anything I’ve done over the years. I’m too big onstage, too old to be commercial, too sappy of a writer, not cutting-edge enough for him.  (As for me, I can barely forgive him for persisting in dating women 20 years his junior and voting for Bush.) In spite of our complete disregard for each other’s taste in entertainment and politics, we get along well enough. As long as we don’t talk too much about real stuff, we’re fine.

So imagine my surprise that he came to the show.  The bigger surprise came when he called me the next day and said he couldn’t stop thinking about it and did I think something more could come of it?

(There’s an old joke in Hollywood: A police officer calls an actor. He says: “Sorry Mr. Jones. I’m afraid I have bad news for you. Your agent came to your house and he went completely crazy. He abducted your wife, killed your dog and set fire to your home.” And the actor goes: “My agent came to my house?!!!”) It’s probably funnier if you’re an actor—but the point is—agents have the reputation of not caring about their clients—that is, if the clients aren’t famous. Actors have a reputation of doing anything for an agent’s attention.  Sufficeth to say: I was surprised that he called.

“Well, I don’t know,” I said. “I think it could be a good motivational program.”  He said: “We should think bigger. I think this could be developed into a tv show. I think you should do a showcase and invite all industry people to come see it. Has to be at a nice theatre, though, and really easy for them to get to.”

So—the showcase idea was born. We found a great venue at a lovely hotel in Beverly Hills, hired a publicist, a designer, a costumer and a lighting guy. At this point, this one night is going to cost a lot more than my wedding did. And when I realized, some weeks ago, the truth of that statement, I started to quietly freak out about the whole thing. Maybe not so quietly. I really don’t remember. Much of that week passed in a macaroni and cheese and Pringles induced coma.

Luckily, I have access to a lot of, you guessed it, Life Coaches. When I surfaced from the carb numb, I finally remembered to ask for help. D’oh!  You know me. I tend towards remedial.

Two of my coaching buddies, Keisha Gallegos and Martha Monaco asked all the right questions. They reminded me to visualize; they asked why I was so invested in what  the audience’s experience would be; they asked: Why do you want to do this? They worked with me on the thought: People will be jealous and turned it into: People will be inspired.

Funny how we can do this for others, but how it can still be so elusive in our own little lizardly minds.

I’d made an appointment with another coach, Jessica Steward, who is also brilliant at talking creative people off ledges. Our conversation went like this:

Me (whiny, whimpering): I’m afraid! I’m afraid we’re spending all this money and no one will show up and no one in Hollywood has ever liked me and —

Jessica (patient, calm): I’m going to remind you of a quote by Marianne Williamson—

Me (interrupting) I can’t stand her.

Jessica (still patient) But the quote is good.

Me (petulant) I know it. It’s that one: Our deepest fear is not hat we’re not good enough. It’s that we’re powerful beyond measure, blah, blah, blah.

Jessica (still patient, but it might be wearing a teensy bit thin): Yes, that’s the one. But in your case, put the word “talented” in for “powerful.” You’re talented beyond measure. And yet here you are, talking about numbers. How many people will be there, how much money it’s costing. You’re quantifying an experience that is qualitative. It says beyond measure. So stop trying to measure it. I mean, how many people really need to show up?

Me (dubious): Well—I guess—I don’t know, I hear people say you can make a career in Hollywood just by having a good relationship with 3 casting directors— 

Jessica (still patient but with a tiny edge): No! Nope. You’re still not getting it. Sonja, the only one who absolutely has to show up is you. 

Me (silent):

Jessica: (explaining patiently): You’re still believing it all comes from the outside. And you don’t believe those people on the outside, those casting agents and directors, like you. So to try to protect yourself, you keep not showing up. You got sick the last time (I had), or the video camera doesn’t work (it didn’t) or the mic goes out (it did.) This is what your lizard brain does to you whenever you follow your soul wisdom, This is the story you’ve told so much that you can’t even see that it’s fake.  But the real truth is, you must believe in your work in some small way or you wouldn’t even have attempted it. 

Okay. She’s right. So—the last couple of weeks, I’ve made a concentrated effort to show up. I wrote a blog post. I rehearsed. I met new clients. I re-wrote the end of the show 6 times. I stopped eating salt and vinegar potato chips dipped in blue cheese dressing. And I still got sick. And there was that hideous moment when I was in the garment district in downtown LA and I tripped and fell down in the street and hurt my ankle so badly that I had to crawl my way over to the sidewalk. But that was kind of sweet, too, since I was offered help in 3 different languages.  There was that horrible night when I convinced myself that I’d gotten lice from trying on hats. So yes, I have noticed is that I’m doing my usual schtick of trying not to show up—but I’m doing it earlier. The performance isn’t til Tuesday and I can walk on my ankle again and I’m feeling much better and of course I don’t have frigging lice. Nyah-nyah. Take that, you dastardly lizard.

I’m beginning to realize that it takes tremendous fortitude for me to show up. I mean, to show up authentically. To be as good as I am. It’s much more comfortable for me to go to self-deprecating humor mode. But—operating from there hasn’t gotten me what I want, which is connection. To my inherent gifts and talents. To my highest self.  To the people with whom I want to share that.

Funny, a couple of days ago, as I started fretting about the outcome of this whole thing, (No one will come! Everyone hates me! It costs too much! How will I stand it if I actually get something out of it? What if I can’t really deliver?) instead of eating, I sat and meditated and asked my essential self for a message about the show. She drew me a picture of a star connected to my heart. She wrote: No fear. We’re all connected. 

Yeah, right. Whatever. That’s nice, but proof would be nicer.

Immediately after this, I checked my computer and the first thing I saw was that a friend had posted about the show. “Go see it”, she said, “if you’re in LA. This woman is a superstar.” And on that same post, some other people whom I’d never met said they were coming. Then I got a call from Mr. Hollywood and he said some people from Lifetime and from OWN had RSVP’d yes.

Well. Okay. So a little woo-woo proof from the universe. I just love that. And in an effort  not to be attached to any outcome, I do remind myself that something may come up for these people, they still might not show up.

But I sure will.








This entry was posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012 at 5:47 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “Showing Up Part 2”

  1. Debbie Louthan Says:

    I’m so incredibly proud of you! Your bravery gives me courage, and so many others, I’m sure! Rock on superstar! :-) And I LOVE your writing. It’s refreshing! :-) You are refreshing! :-)

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