Can you make art during a crisis?

     Art by susanmcculley.com

 

Art by susanmcculley.com

One of my favorite moments of television happened on a 2006 episode of Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. It was supposed to be a travel show about the food and culture of Beirut, but Tony and his crew found themselves in the middle of a violent conflict. They watched the airport get blown up from their hotel room, and saw whole neighborhoods get blasted.

They were trapped there for a week before being transported out. And there is this scene, where in the middle of the tension and chaos and fear - Tony walks into the kitchen of the hotel, and he cooks. For a moment, he loses himself in the chopping and stirring, the creation of something to share with others.

That moment brought me to tears.

Tony cooked because cooking was his art.*

That's how he shared his love and passion.

That's the creative lens through which he translated the world.

We are in crisis right now. In a million different ways, this country is in crisis. I feel it in the pit of my stomach, and it's breaking my heart. I wonder, why make art? Why write? Why create anything when things feel this uncertain, when so many people are suffering? What is the point of creating in crisis? I stare at the walls and leave my projects untouched as I sit with my fear and pain and anger in my own little internal Beirut.

But as I think back to that episode, Tony Bourdain answered my question for me. We create  - we cook or write poetry or cross-stitch - because we are human. Because we've been doing this since the beginning of time. Because we made cave paintings before we bothered to figure out farming techniques because art was more important than eating regularly.  Because art connects the discordant, makes sense of the senseless, and gives voice to the unspeakable.

Creating something - anything - that makes you feel alive is imperative, especially in times that feel stressful or uncertain. Whether that stress is on a national level, or a personal one. So, if you paint, please, I beg of you, paint. If you sing or quilt or take photographs of the insects in your backyard, please go do it. Please make all the things, and then - here's the important part - share them with the world. Don't keep your creations to yourself because your ego is saying that's not really art, or that someone else already did it better. Get brave and get it out there, so we can experience beauty and stay in touch with our humanity.

We really need that.

In later interviews, Tony said that the experience in Beirut "changed everything." When he and his crew came home, they kept thinking, What's important? They made changes, both to the show, and to their lives. Tony's Instagram from less than two weeks before his death reads - "An eventful week. On the battlefield and off. Making art . Every motherfucking day."

So that's what I'll do. Life may feel like a battlefield. But I'll be here.

Making art.

Every motherfucking day.

——–

*I originally wrote about Tony in present tense, and it really sucks to change that. 

——–

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Public Speaking Event: Hi, Michigan!

I'll be at Glen Oaks College in Centreville, Michigan this Thursday!

I'll be speaking about my new book Not Just Me, talking about leaving L.A., writing, mental health, yoga and whatever else might be on my mind that day. I'll be signing books and attempting small talk, so come hang out and let's be awkward together!

For more information, click here.

Moms for Mental Health event in Ottawa!

I am so thrilled to be part of this event in my Canadian homeland!

Join me and the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa for a lunchtime discussion on mental health on October 18th. I'll be there talking about my new book, Not Just Me, and a member of the YSB Youth Mental Health Counselling team will discuss what counseling looks like for youth and how to encourage a young person to reach out for support.

All proceeds from Moms for Mental Health will support YSB's life-changing mental health programs for youth.

Click here to register!

 

Writing workshop at Writer House in Virginia!

I am super excited about this writing workshop coming up on March 4th in Charlottesville, VA! It is open to experienced writers and newbies alike.

We'll be talking about creativity and how to deal with that inner critic who can sometimes stand between you and the work. We will discuss how to use your past as a catalyst for your current work. In-class exercises will access the passion within you and help you get your authentic voice on the page. We’ll also discuss writing best practices, from ways to approach your first draft to setting boundaries and deadlines to get your work to your editor.

Sign up for the workshop here and please let me know if you have any questions.

Hope to see you there!

xo,

~Lisa

New online writing class - starting soon!

Writing pad ad *If you're interested in this class, might want to sign up for my newsletter ASAP. I've got something to help make the deal a little sweeter...and a little easier on the wallet... 

It's 2017.

It's January.

It's that time when everyone is feeling all motivated to do that thing that they've been wanting to do forever - that thing that never happened because life got in the way. Because of laundry and doctor's appointments and soccer games. Because it's scary to jump in and actually do it.

I'm here to tell you that you don't need to be scared. Jump in. I'll jump in with you.

Everyone has a story to tell. This year, let's tell yours.

My online writing class is a small group - just eight students - and we'll meet on Wednesday evenings online. You'll log in from anywhere and use your webcam (yeah, it's strange at first but everyone gets used to it) and we'll all show up on the screen like the Brady Bunch opening credits. We're one big happy family and we're going to write together. I'll teach you everything you need to know to write your memoir and we'll read some great writers to find inspiration.

(Click here to see a demo of what a class looks like.)

If you've never written a thing: great. If you've published three books: great. You'll find what you need to actually get the words down on paper. There's no mean person with a red pen shredding your work. It's a very supportive and encouraging environment where you can dive into the experience of writing.

Class dates: Jan. 18, 25, Feb. 15, 22, Mar. 1, 8, 15 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. PST

Here's some of what we'll cover:

  • Class #1 – Where to begin: on beginnings, middles and endings
  • Class #2 – The Hero’s Journey: structure and story arc
  • Class #3 – “Truth” and dealing with the real life people you write about
  • Class #4 – Go deeper: show don’t tell and finding your voice
  • Class #5 – Covering a few Ws: Character, dialogue and settings
  • Class #6 – What’s next? Pitching, queries, agents, publishing and editing
  • Class #7 – Living like a writer: deadlines, scheduling and writer’s block

If you have any questions, please contact me. For more info and to sign up, check out WritingPad.

Hope to see you in class!

xo, Lisa

Perspective shift: a weekend with history

blog-mlk-0029-2 A couple of months ago I went to Washington, D.C. with my husband. It was his birthday and we spent the weekend eating too much, drinking over-priced cocktails and walking around the city.

I'm Canadian but I have lived in the US for the last twenty years and I now have my American citizenship as well. I love this country, and I see the problems. And the problems have been overwhelming me lately. The divisiveness, the name-calling, the hatred and bigotry. I get deflated and anxious. I get sad and frustrated. I talk about moving back to Canada.

But while in D.C. we went to monuments and memorials: Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Roosevelt, WW II, Vietnam - and something occurred to me:

As a country, we have been through some serious shit.

Are things bad now?

Yes.

Have they been worse before?

Yes.

That doesn't negate what is happening right now, but what it does mean is that we can do this. We were made to deal with hard things. We are strong and resilient. We were made to overcome and heal and work together to become better. This is true whether we're talking about the political climate or global terrorism or our own personal struggles with anxiety or depression.

It's easy to throw up our hands and assume that it's all just going to hell. But apathy is the easy way out. We might go through hell -- but we're sure as hell going to keep walking until we get somewhere better.

We're all in this together, so let's be radically kind and endlessly courageous.

with love,

~L

——– You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Upcoming event in NY!

Hey, New Yorkers! I'll be doing a public event at Mohawk College in Utica on October 27th and I'd love to see you there. I'll be talking about my experience with mood disorders and the tools that help make life a little easier as an introvert who struggles with anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder.

But it's gonna be FUN, I promise!

You can get tickets here.

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Mostly I write but sometimes I say the words out loud

Hey all, I wanted to share this clip from a talk I did in June - all about anxiety, depression and panic attacks. Even though I don't entirely love living with these things - I love talking about this stuff. It makes me feel less alone, it reduces the social stigma around mental health and above all, it reminds me that healing is possible when we can connect and laugh and say to each other oh my God, I totally know what you mean.

Hope you enjoy this short clip. (I have been doing more talks lately, so I should have more clips to share soon.) And if you're interested in having me come talk at your school, organization or conference - you can see my speaking kit here!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilcjT2Sbbnc&amp]

Authentic creativity at Hippocamp: a whole fancy PowerPoint talk

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 8.21.25 AM I'm super excited about the Hippocamp nonfiction writers conference in Lancaster, PA this weekend! I'll be giving a talk about how to find your own unique creativity: how to refine it,  own it, and how to make sure you never get blocked from it. I've got PowerPoint slides full of embarrassing old photos, helpful tips and cartoons. It's gonna be fun.

There are still some tickets to the conference available, so come hang out and talk about words with me and a whole bunch of extraordinary writers.

And no promises, but last year at this conference - they had a mashed potato bar.

Just saying.

with love,

~Lisa

(If your school, conference or company is interested in having me come speak - you can see my speaking kit and contact me for more information.)

I would rather fail than quit

13585209_1038201572930693_1705154612489819496_o I found myself saying this last night during an online book club for my memoir You Look Like That Girl. I truly believe that when we stop fearing failure - incredible things can happen.

Failure is not the end of the story.

Failure is necessary.

So, if there is something you've been waiting to do - that book you want to write, that business you want to start, that person you want to talk to - do it.

Let go of that voice that says you don't have a story to tell and you don't have the right and you might look stupid. I don't know who that annoying voice is, but it's not you. If you've been waiting for someone to come give you permission to live with courage: here it is.

Permission granted.

Look around. The world can be a scary, uncertain  place. Who knows how much time we have?

So get out there.

Fall on your face.

And then pick your brave ass up and do it again.

(Want to do your own book club with me? LisaJakub108@gmail.com)

*****

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Embrace Your Weird event tonight in Virginia

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 8.02.31 AM Hi all,

I'm thrilled to be giving a talk tonight in Charlottesville, Virginia. The event is called Embrace Your Weird: from Anxiety to Authenticity and it's based on the new book that I am writing. There is even a whole fancy Power Point thingy.

Many of us are afraid to talk about anxiety, depression and panic attacks – it’s about time we change that. This talk is a deeply personal exploration of mental health, told with compassion and humor. It’s a hopeful, entertaining and enlightening look at the root causes of anxiety, the results of the latest research and ideas for how to manage stress in your own life.

The event is free and open to the public, as part of Retreat Week at Ix Art Park. For more information and to RSVP, please click here. 

And in case you were wondering, yes, I'm feeling very anxious about giving an anxiety talk. But I'm gonna to do it anyway.

with love,

~Lisa

 

Thank you and a sale!

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.40.01 AM Thank you so much to all of you who have bought my book. It is currently in Amazon's Top Ten Actor Memoirs! (And, oddly enough, it's #1 in Dancer Memoirs, which is random but I'll take it.)

You Look Like That Girl is available for just $2.99 as a Kindle Monthly Deal - but only for the next week! And you also have the option of adding on the audiobook for just $3.99

And in case you missed it - here is the proof of how I suffered while recording the audiobook

.Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 4.57.24 PM.png

So it's totally worth $3.99.

I am grateful for Amazon reviews of the book - those are really helpful to me. So giant {e-hug} to anyone who takes the time to write one.

If you prefer to get a personalized/signed hardcover copy, you can do that here.

Thanks again for all the support and encouragement that you all have offered over the years. It means the world to me.

with love,

~Lisa

Managing anxiety: off the yoga mat and onto the stage

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I went to Providence, Rhode Island last weekend to speak at Johnson & Wales University and The Lady Project Summit. I did a reading from my book, spoke on a writer's panel and gave a talk about the rewards and challenges living an authentic life and embracing who you really are.

It was a phenomenal weekend for many reasons. I  had lots of teary-eyed hugs with people who are on their own journeys towards living a life they truly believe in. I also met wonderful people like Maureen Petrosky who took me to Gracie's, which is a restaurant that not only has unbelievable food, but also shares a name with my dog.

I was also scared out of my mind a lot of the time.

I have structured a pretty quiet little life for myself. I struggle with anxiety and get overwhelmed easily, so I try to keep life as simple as possible. I spend time with my husband, dog, and close friends. I do yoga. I stay home a lot, watching Netflix and reading books and cooking dinner. It's lovely.

But I've started doing these events which thrill and terrify me in equal measure. Sometimes, when I am in a new place, standing at the front of the room with a bunch of people looking at me, I panic and go into fight or flight mode.

This is a pretty typical evolutionary response to fear. When our ancestors had to face down a woolly mammoth, we had a couple of choices. We could try to kill it or we could run away from it.

The thing is, these days, we don't see many woolly mammoths.

We see public speaking. Or an uncomfortable conversation. Or a group of strangers. Or an opportunity that is unnerving. Or a situation we can't control. Or an outcome that is unknown.

But our minds go back to woolly mammoth territory and we want to either fight it or run from it.

What if there was a third way?

This is the most monumental thing that doing yoga has taught me.

I do hot yoga. That's the one that is 90 minutes in a room that is heated to 100 degrees.

It's hard. But it's not nearly as hard as life.

So, the yoga studio is my place to practice dealing with the actual hard things in life. Because when I get to a yoga posture that is challenging me - and my instinct is to either run out of the room or walk up and kick the instructor in the shins for making me do this - I hear my teacher's voice in my head:

Meet resistance with breath.

Maybe I can get beyond my caveman mentality and just stop for a minute. I can realize that I'm stronger than I think I am and I can be still for a moment and stop the spinning of my mind. I can take a breath - then decide how I want to respond.

So, as I stood in a glorious theater in Providence, RI, with a group of strong and interesting women all sitting there, ready to listen to me speak - the spinning started:

What am I doing here? Who the hell am I? What makes me think I have the right to stand here and say anything about anything to anyone? They are going to throw things at me. I need to run out of the room right now.

And then I took a breath. I met that resistance from my inner critic, with my breath. Then I remembered that they actually invited me to come speak. They wanted me to do this. These people had voluntarily signed up for this workshop of mine and no one was tied to their chairs.

So, I said:

"Hi. My name is Lisa Jakub. Thanks for being here today. I'm a kind of nervous, but really want to talk to you about something that is important to me. I want to talk about how we can all live a life that feels authentic even if it's different from what other people expect of us. And the reason that I feel like I can talk to you with some authority about this topic is because I screwed it up so majorly, for such a long time."

And then they laughed and then I loved them.

That's what can happen when we don't operate on automatic pilot and when we are open to options beyond the binary way we are tempted to see the world. It's not always yes/no, black/white, good/bad, kill/run - the world is nuanced and so are we. When we can still the story line in our minds, a whole beautiful world of middle options become clear.

Sometimes we get a chance to make friends with the woolly mammoth, and we're rewarded with a fantastic weekend, spectacular people and some really good macarons.

——– You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Stepping back: lessons of 2014

feet As I said last year, I'm not really a fan of New Year's resolutions. They tend to be vague proclamations, glorifying some unrealistic ideal, and often resulting in a deep feeling of inadequacy and another lapsed gym membership.

I prefer to look back at what I learned over the past year. Once again, 2014 was a year of throwing myself into a free-fall of new and slightly terrifying situations. Some I managed okay, many I could have done better. But I can say this with total certainty: I showed up for my life.

Sometimes you need to believe in yourself even when some other people don't

I heard "no" a lot this year. I received a stack of rejections for my book. Each one made me want to hide in shame. But there was a tiny part of me that clung to a fundamental truth -- I came into this world to be a writer. That voice was almost drowned out by the much louder voice that said I should just quit this whole writing thing and take up cake decorating. But persistence tends to pay off. I could not be more proud that I found a supportive and enthusiastic publisher this year, and that my book will be published in June.

Sometimes people are more wonderful than you could have imagined

I remain in humbled awe of how kind you all are to me. You send me emails and tweets and Facebook messages and funny memes of dogs. You tell me about your families and your jobs and your dreams. You tell me how we are alike and how you feel connected. There are more of you now, and I can't always respond to everyone. But please know that I read every message and each one is more meaningful than I could ever express. You are why I show up at this keyboard every day.

Sometimes you need to do things that you swore you'd never do

I have continued to do talks at conferences and colleges. Two years ago, I would have said this was as likely as me becoming the heavy-weight champion of the northeast. The biggest shocker of all is that I actually enjoy it. This completely introverted girl with social anxiety and a general loathing for anything that requires more than sweatpants, actually has a good time talking in front of people. Go figure.

Sometimes the world fucking sucks

Robin Williams died. And it still breaks my heart.

And sometimes there is poignant beauty that comes from the world and its fucking suckiness

As a country, and as a little community here on this site, we started talking about depression, anxiety and loneliness. We connected and comforted each other and we told the people we love that we love them. We said the most important thing, over and over again. You are not alone. And you all inspired me to start working on my next book, which will be grounded in this topic. It will be honest and it will offer hope and it will be funny - because we have to be able to laugh.

Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain. ~Joseph Campbell

I wish all of you joy and peace in 2015.

xo,

~L

——– You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Happy freaking holidays: a guide to surviving December

This is a stressful time of year.

Sure, it’s joyous and whatever too, but let's not candy-cane-coat this. Many people are feeling a time crunch, family pressures, and money stress. Those of us who struggle with anxiety and/or depression tend to have a hard time, thanks to ridiculous holiday expectations.

But we can do this.

Here are some things that help me this time of year.

Leave

Walking (especially with the dog) is a sacred time for me. Even a few minutes of fresh air helps clear my head, get me grounded, reconnected to the natural world and focused on what really matters. And anything that makes Grace or Olive happy, makes me happy.

Give

I always feel better when I am able to stop obsessing about my own life and help someone else. Volunteering or just doing something for others (baking cookies for the mail carrier or simply telling someone how important they are to me) brings an abrupt end to my pity party.

Downdog

I am a yoga fanatic; I think the benefits are endless for mind, body and spirit. I love that it can be done at home without fancy equipment and is accessible to everyone, even those with a severe lack of physical grace, like myself. I start my day with some simple Sun Salutations (which are great for beginners) and tend to unroll my mat whenever I'm feeling stressed. Yoga with Adriene offers free Youtube videos that are perfect for newbies and experienced yogis alike.

Write

Writing is my outlet. I have written angry diatribes, compete with outlandish accusations and the inventive usage of profanity. Once I write it out, I usually realize how silly it was and can let it go. And watching all that self-imposed drama go through the shredder is immensely satisfying.

"No"

"No" is a complete sentence. Setting boundaries is important any time of year, but it's integral to maintaining my sanity at the holidays. I am an http://lisajakub.net/2015/03/23/how-to-care-for-your-introvert-a-helpful-guide/introvert with social anxiety, and parties tend to be really difficult for me. When my husband is with me, it's a little easier, but there are events that I need to attend without him. Even though carpooling with friends might be more efficient, I almost always drive myself so I don't feel trapped and I can leave if I start to feel a panic attack coming on. Knowing that I have an immediate out allows me to relax and actually have some fun. But even with those accommodations, there are times I need to decline an invitation and stay home with the couch and a book. And that's okay, too.

Sit

Meditation has been an incredibly effective way of dealing with my anxiety. Like everyone else, I always thought that my mind was just too busy to meditate -- but something significant changes when you take a few moments to breathe and become aware of the present moment. (I have recorded a short guided meditation for people who think they can't meditate - hear it here.) Meditation is not easy, but it's so worth it.  If you are interested in trying mindfulness, just sit in a quiet place, set a timer (start with just three minutes and work up to more) and count each inhale up to ten, and then back down to one again. Your mind will wander - constantly - but don't get frustrated. Simply come back to focus on the breath, no matter how many times you start thinking about that witty comeback you didn't say when your friend was being so judgy over lunch last week...

Here are some of my favorite books on meditation:

10% Happier - Dan Harris (For the meditation skeptic)

Wherever You Go There You Are - Jon Kabat-Zinn (For simple directions on mindful living)

Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program - Sharon Salzberg (For those looking for audio guided meditation)

You can also check out the rest of my favorite books on Goodreads.

Most of all -- don't get caught up in silly holiday propaganda and think that everyone else is perfectly merry with their perfect families and perfect homemade hot cocoa you are the only one getting stressed out.

Remember the profound words of Ellen Griswold --

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je4rgaSBO2g]

 

So, let's just take a deep breath and we'll all make it through this joyous season in one piece. Happy holidays, everyone.

————– You can leave a comment here, or join us on Facebook or Twitter

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Upcoming event at Bowers Writers House at Elizabeth College

Bowers I am super thrilled to be speaking at Bowers Writers House at Elizabethtown College in PA!

In two weeks, I'll be discussing inspiration, the creative process and I'll be reading a chapter from my book. I'll also try to stay calm and not just squeal with excitement about getting to talk writing all weekend.

I've done talks at high schools and conventions before but this will be my first time at a college. I still get nervous about the whole try-not-to-look-stupid-in-front-of-people thing...but I really love the connection and energy that come from engaging in person.

And I suppose it's good for me to get out of my house and put on real pants once in a while.

If your school/organization is interested in having me come talk - about writing/living authenticity/my life growing up - contact me at LisaJakub108@gmail.com.

And many thanks to Bowers Writers House for having me!

 

Emma Watson, feminism and thoughts from my college advisor

I saw Emma Watson's speech to the UN about feminism. I had shivers the whole time. She got me thinking about digging up this post I wrote a while ago, but was too timid to publish, because for some unfathomable reason, "feminism" has recently become a hot-button issue. And then I saw that she was getting rape threats and death threats, and shamefully, my first thought was "how terrifying - well, I can't write about feminism now."

And that is exactly why I'm posting this.

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Farewell to Robin Williams: a thank you note

  robin

 

Robin Williams died today.

It seems surreal to write that.

But since writing is the way I process the incomprehensible -- I find myself writing.

Everyone is tweeting and facebooking and calling into radio shows about what a great talent Robin was.

Yeah. He was. But that wasn't what I adored about him. It was the fact that he was an incredibly kind human being.

When I was 14 years old, I went on location to film Mrs. Doubtfire for five months, and my high school was not happy. My job meant an increased workload for teachers, and they were not equipped to handle a "non-traditional" student. So, during filming, they kicked me out.

It's devastating, at 14, to have your formal education terminated. I felt like a freak and a reject. When I arrived at work the next day, Robin noticed that I was upset and asked me what was wrong. I explained what had happened, and shortly after that, he handed me a letter that he had written to my school. He explained that I was just trying to continue my education while pursuing my career. He wrote embarrassingly kind things about my character and my work, and requested that they reconsider and allow me to return to my classes.

When I told him I still didn't think they would take me back, he said, "It's kinda like Amnesty International. That school just needs to know that people know the truth."

The school framed the letter. They hung it in the principal's office. But they didn't invite me to return to school.

But here's what matters from that story. Robin stood up for me. He was in my corner. I was only 14, but I had already seen that I was in an industry that was full of back-stabbing. And it was entirely clear that Robin had my back.

I know I said thank you at the time and I'm sure I wrote one of those stiff thank you notes that 14-year-olds write with slanting lines and spelling mistakes. But that all seems so insufficient now.

Even though I had not spoken with Robin in a very long time, I always assumed there would be some future opportunity to tell him that his letter changed my life. It taught me that you stand up for the things that matter. And even if your attempts fail, you tried. You told the truth. You took care of your friends. You fought back.

None of us really know what fights Robin was battling* but I know his struggles were not uncommon. It's estimated that 16 million people in the US have struggled with depression - and I include myself in that statistic. It's real and it's not shameful and there is help available.

You can bring it to the light, you can tell the truth, you can go to a meeting, you can reach out to a friend.

None of us are alone.

And if you have someone in your life who you are grateful for -- someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note - do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak.

Tell them all of that.

Tell them today.

-----------------

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

*ETA - Since I wrote this article, Robin's wife publicly discussed his other health issues. Obviously, I don't know the reasons for his decision but I do know that he had struggled with depression, regardless of whether it was a factor here. Depression was something that he and I talked about. I'm not intending to diagnose anyone - just sharing a story about someone I loved.


Here is the letter:

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 8.13.21 AM.png

Childhood choices: is it okay to recruit a 9-year old?

Jaden Newman is 9 years old. She also just became the youngest person ever recruited by a college program. Jaden plays basketball. I'm no talent scout but I saw a 30-second video of her playing - and she's damn good. Clearly, the University of Miami thinks so, too.

While I understand why many people are celebrating this fantastic achievement, it still makes me squirm a little. I'm not sure that we should be celebrating colleges recruiting 4th graders.

It's wonderful that Jaden is such a talented, hard working kid who has found something that she loves to do. But can't it just be left at that? Isn't that enough? Why does basketball need to be something that defines her future right now? There's a lot of baggage that comes along with being labeled a "phenom" before you hit double-digits.

I'm not sure why a university needs to take ownership of Jaden's future at this point. She should have the freedom to wake up next Wednesday morning and decide that she doesn't want to play basketball anymore and that she is much more interested in the debate team. Childhood is all about being free to explore who you want to be for the rest of your life. And if there is pressure of a college scholarship and this precedent-setting recruitment, I worry it will stifle her vision for herself.

Maybe Jaden really did find the thing she wants to do for the rest of her life at the age of three. Maybe this is just giving her a great option down the road. I hope that is what happens.

When I was three, I started my career and I identified myself as an actor for the next 18 years. Then, when I was 22, I slowly realized that I didn't want to do that job anymore. I had never even bothered to ask myself what else there was, because it hadn't occurred to me that there were other options available. I assumed I was incapable of anything else. Suddenly, I had no clue who I was. I identified myself as an actor before I identified myself as anything else. If you had asked me who I was, I would have said:

1. An actor

2. A girl

3. A Canadian

So, if I wasn't an actor anymore, was I anything at all?

For me, it worked out - I don't have any regrets. I was able to find a new path and eventually found my self-worth somewhere else (thank you, therapy). But not all kid actors end up in a good place. I hope Jaden knows that she has the ability to be something different if she wants - even if it doesn't come with the media attention and the prestige of college sports. Just because she is good at something doesn't mean she is required to do it.

When little kids say they want to be firefighters, we don't suit them up, put an axe in their hands and send them out there. But with sports, music and acting, it seems like the rules are different.

I believe that it's always important to know, wherever you are in life, that you are allowed to change your mind. None of us have to be just One Thing. If we all had to commit to what we wanted to be when we were little - there would be a whole lot of firefighters and ballerinas. And my husband would be a bird.

So, go do what you love, Jaden. Kick ass and have fun - whether you want to be a basketball player, a firefighter, a ballerina or a bird. I'm pretty sure you'd be awesome at all of them.

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Things change and nothing changes: Mrs. Doubtfire 2 debrief

I have a pretty normal routine when I get up in the morning. The dog goes outside to sniff around the yard. I do my meditation and yoga. We both have some breakfast and I make tea. Then, just before I sit down to write, I quickly check email - which usually consist of friends sending me links to farm animals on Buzzfeed and an exciting opportunity to turn my computer into a money-making machine by working from home. But last Thursday, I woke up to an interview request from Brazil.

I figured it might be a weird day.

And it was. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Mrs. Doubtfire 2 was in development. This was the first I had heard of it. Suddenly, I was being swamped with questions about whether or not I would be involved.

But here's the thing:

No one has asked me to be involved.

It's kind of like going ring shopping at Tiffany's after your first date. Everyone just needed to take a deep breath for a minute.

I'm not sure even sure how I would feel about a sequel, let alone what my feelings are about being involved. I am retired from acting - it's not the life that I want for myself. But if my friends/former co-workers ask me to consider something, I'm going to listen to what they have to say.

And really, who knows if the film will actually make it to production, or if my character, Lydia, will actually be in it, or a zillion other things that could come up in the meantime. There is no need for decisions yet.

The most interesting thing I had planned for the week was staining our back deck, but suddenly I found myself the topic of internet chatter. On Wednesday, I was just saying stuff. On Thursday, I was "making statements."

It got a little overwhelming with emails and unanswerable questions and interview requests, especially because my answer to everything was a legitimate, yet wide-eyed, "I don't know." It felt like suddenly everything in my life was changing - it was totally out of my control. Chaos was swirling around and from where I stood, this Doubtfire thing seemed to be all everyone was talking about.

So, I did what I do when I feel stressed and ungrounded. I turned off my computer and went to my volunteer job at the animal shelter. I'm always more comfortable with animals and when I can stop thinking about my life and help someone else.

When I walked into the area where I usually work, there was a woman who I had never met before. When I opened the door she turned to me with a sudden look of joyful recognition.

"Are you the one that I've been hearing so much about?" She asked.

My face turned red. I really wanted to stop thinking about Doubtfire 2 for just a couple of hours. I wanted to just do my regular life stuff without hearing another opinion about what it means if I do it or don't do it. I stumbled around and said something eloquent like:

"Uhhh. Oh, I donno."

"Yes, you are! You are the one who has been working with Pumpernickel! What's your name?"

Pumpernickel is a cat that came into the shelter about a month ago. She weighs barely 5 pounds and had been run over by a car. The clinic saved her and she is now up for adoption. She is absolutely adorable, but she has been deeply traumatized and tends to lash out unexpectedly. Pumpernickel has been my project and I've been socializing her -- she recently transformed from attacking anyone that got near her, to being a snuggly lap-dweller and giver of tiny kitty kisses.

The vet heard she was doing well, and came to see Pumpernickel's caregiver and say thank you. She doesn't know anything about my life outside the shelter, and she doesn't give a damn about what HuffPost Live was saying.

It was one of the prouder moments of my life.

I suddenly realized - that's the shit I want to be famous for.

My priorities snapped back into line like a well-cracked knuckle. You know where else this "news" of Doubtfire 2 didn't matter? At my yoga studio. At the farmer's market. With my dearest friend who, after checking to see how I was doing with it all, mostly wanted to talk about the fact that she just learned she'd been buying the wrong bra size for years.

Sometimes, it's easy to get whipped into a frenzy over entertainment news - especially when it involves being misrepresented in an Us Weekly headline. But the truth is, it doesn't really change anything.

We all have those distractions that threaten to take over our lives. Those moments of drama where it appears that something is important just because everyone else is throwing their opinions around. That moment doesn't have to define you. It's can be interesting, sure. But it doesn't need to displace the real things. It doesn't need to become something bigger and better than the priorities you intentionally set for your life.

Whatever the outcome of this whole Doubtfire 2 thing - I'm still the same person who giggles at Buzzfeed lists, knows a lot about her friend's new bra and tries to convince Pumpernickel to not scratch someone's eyes out.

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