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Choose Happiness

Trevi Fountain 2011

I get told a lot "You're so lucky to be an actress" or "You're so lucky to travel so much." And I agree, I am. My husband and I have been very blessed to see so much of this world and to do so with our kids and, many times, while working. But there is the always the flip side. We work very hard, take a lot of chances, and, quite often, have nothing to show for it.

I decided to move to LA to pursue an acting career in 1998, after visiting a friend of mine that lived in LA. "If she can do it then why can't I?" I thought. I joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1999 and have been working as an actress ever since. It took me a long time to call myself an actress rather than just saying it was something that I was pursuing. You see, I spend a lot of time wondering where and when my next job will come from. We joke in our house that it is feast or famine, either we are both working and making money or we are both wondering when our next paycheck will come in. After my kids were born, I thought that I should maybe quit and pursue something a bit more stable, a 'real' job. I went back to school, I did internships, I tossed around ideas of other things I could do, I tried to form partnerships for new ideas. But I just wasn't happy. I was spiraling into depression, taking my family down with me. I knew deep down that this fire inside would never go out but I was afraid. I was afraid of failing, afraid of making my family suffer because I had this selfish dream to act, afraid of my kids looking at me with disappointment. I was choosing to live in fear and letting the darkness of that fear shadow everything else.

Now here is where I believe that I am the most lucky: I married a man that fully supported and loved me. He encouraged me not only to talk to a therapist about what I was feeling but also to not give up on my dreams. I slowly started getting back into what I loved, doing a local play where I got to finally live for weeks in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I started driving back and forth to NYC from Philadelphia to audition for commercials again. And, after a while, I started booking again. I was in no way Meryl Streep but I was doing what I loved. And even with all the rejections and setbacks (and, trust me, there are a lot), I was happy.

There is so much talk these days, in the media and on Facebook and all around us, about what kind of world we want to live in. We can choose to see it as hopeful and full of promise, or we can choose to be afraid, and that choice starts in our own lives. My husband and I choose daily to keep at it, to figure out how we can pay our bills, to take a chance on living a creative life, to scrounge together enough cash to take a road trip with our kids. We may not have all of the securities of a full time job, with 401ks and whatnot, and do sometimes live paycheck to paycheck with me watching my earnings every year to make sure I earn enough to keep our health insurance. But we are happy, all four of us. We are rich in love and will figure the rest out together.

The second play I did, after I decided that I couldn't give up this crazy thing of acting, was an Agatha Christie play, The Mousetrap. It is a really fun mystery, a whodunit, and I knew that my son would love it. So he came one night with my husband, sitting in the audience watching his mom on stage for the first time. After it was over, he met me with a bouquet of flowers, gave me a huge hug and looked at me with amazement. He was proud of me and I could feel it in my heart. And I knew in that moment that all the struggles, the ups and downs, the instability, the rejection and fear that I may never 'make it', that it was all worth it. It was all worth my son seeing his mom doing what she loves and being so, so proud.

Choose happiness. Go see the world. Take a chance. The sky is the limit.

xo, M

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