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Career, Motherhood and Meditation

I’ve been meditating for over a year now and I find it incredibility helpful.  As I juggle career and motherhood I find those 15minutes vital to my well-being.

My Meditation practice had a pretty comedic start though –

Day 1. I committed to just 5 minutes and chose a simple technique that involves meditating on one word.  I set my kitchen timer and explained to my 2 yr old that I was going to sit on my yoga mat, close my eyes and meditate.  I invited him to sit with me and sat in lotus position on a stack of magazines (I have tight hips.)  My son climbed all over me immediately.  As I focused on the word Patience he pulled my hair, “What you doing Mummy? You meditating Mummy? You meditating?”   When the timer went off, I blessed my practice with Namaste and rolled up my mat – it was messy but I’d done it.

Day 5. He became less interested and just quietly played nearby.

Day 6. He got out his own magazines from the rack and sat across from me!!

Day 7. When the timer went off he whispered very earnestly “Mama-stay, Mama-stay.” (His understanding of Namaste)  He did this for 2 weeks.

Day 15. I got into the habit of telling him the word I chose to meditate on.  (Honestly, having a two-year-old, it was often Patience.)  However, without fail my son would say “No! Monkey, Mummy…Meditate on Monkey, Mediate on Monkey.”

Day 20 I gave Monkey a try – I did not find it as effective at setting a tone for my day as Joy, Peace or Breathe!  But… I then spoke to a friend and yoga teacher and she said quieting the monkey mind is actually a meditation technique, so maybe he was trying to tell me something after all!

Fast forward to today –

Though I miss being able to set my intention for the day through meditation, I meditate before bed mostly now.  At night the apartment is quiet and I find it a great way to download the noise of the day – plus I sleep like a baby. I’ve also upgraded my stack of magazines to an actual meditation block!

This Blog post originally appeared on MsinTheBiz.com

Stock Photography. To Do, or Not to Do – that is the Question.

A few months ago my Italian cousin sent me a Facebook message, which said she had seen me in the Italian magazine Come Stai.  I assumed it was just someone with my likeness.  I was wrong.  It was a photo of me with a caption that translated as ” 20% of separations are caused by an unfulfilling sex life.”  It was from a stock photo shoot I did 4 years ago!

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Come Stai – February 2014.  Photo Credit: Megan Maloy for Image Source.

With a risk of TMI – I think that a fulfilling sex life is important in a marriage, so I’m ok with this.  However, it was a great reminder that I have signed away my rights to my stock images and have no control over their usage.  There are definitely subjects I would not want my image used for – Cigarettes jump to mind immediately.

What is a stock photo?  A stock photo is a way for magazines, advertisers etc to get high quality photos at a cheaper price than hiring a photographer.  Subjects in Stock Photography could be anything from food, animals, travel images, to people posing as professionals or expressing common emotions.  The cost to buy these images depends on many things – if you are buying exclusive or non-exclusive rights, how long you can use the photo for, size of readership and country of use.

Print work doesn’t fall under any union jurisdiction so it’s non-union work. Rates and hours vary greatly, but in my experience models are paid on average $100-$300 for a day’s work. Models sign a release and the images can be used in anyway, possibly in perpetuity. This article really illustrates how one photo can be used repeatedly in many different outlets.

One of the most infamous Stock Photo stories recently was Samantha Owens.  A stock photo of her was used in a Sex Column in The Guardian with the title – I fantasize about group sex with obese old men.  She wasn’t really fazed however and even enjoyed a huge twitter following after she came forward with her story.

Ariane (aka The Overexposed Stock Model) is a Stock Model that I guarantee you have seen EVERYWHERE!

If you work consistently as a commercial print model it makes sense not to do Stock Shoots. The possibilities of overexposure and conflicts definitely increase (not booking a job as you already appear in a campaign for a rival/conflicting product.)  However for someone like myself, who is primarily an actor, stock work has been fun, occasional work.  You don’t need an agent, casting for Stock shoots are often on self-submission sites like Now Casting or Actors Access. It is also a great way to build a portfolio of photos if you are looking to do more print work.  Hey, even Amy Poehler did Stock Photos when she was starting out!

This blog was originally published on MsinTheBiz.com

5 Ways Being an Actor Makes Me a Better Mom!

I’ve produced my own films, had recurring roles on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, shot two episodes of Law and Order and numerous Indies but my toughest role…Mom! Being a mom is awesome, well…most days, but like any great role not withoutits learning curve and challenges.  I’m the first to admit there are plenty of areas of motherhood I still need to work on …Patience immediately comes to mind!  But today I choose to celebrate why I’m an awesome mom – specifically five ways being an actor helps me in my parenting journey.

 1. My appreciation for characters and costumes. It is Halloween everyday in our house!  My son loves dressing up and spends the majority of his time in character – totally cool, I get it!  Currently his two favorite inventions are Mike the Handyman and Officer Breadsack.  (Although his PreK teacher did forbid him to wear his costumes to school – it was too distracting for the other kids.)

2. I’m trained in play!  My son and I are walking down the street and without warning I’m assigned the role of a mother bird that needs to fly away from the dragon. I’m suddenly thrust into an improv and I follow the rules, YES AND….

3. I love stories and storytelling.  I don’t know exactly when my mother stopped reading bedtime stories to me but it was years after friends had stopped the ritual and I swore her to secrecy.  I have such fond memories of begging her to read one more chapter – she would usually relent as she was just as invested in the stories as I was.  My son and I read 3 stories a night, sometimes up to 45mins, and I treasure that time with him.  A hidden benefit – reading stories out loud is also a great opportunity to brush up on those accents and dialects!

4. I adore researching a role.  After the initial transition motherhood felt relatively instinctual.  To simplify it, keep the baby warm, dry and fed.  However, when we entered the world of discipline my instincts started to betray me and phrases would come out of my mouth that shocked me.  I needed help.  I have always loved researching a role and motherhood was no exception.  I found a slew of fantastic books that equipped me with new tools to be the mom I wanted to be. Two of my favorite resources are; How to Talk so Kids will listen, and Listen so Kids will Talk and Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves.

5. NYC – adventure and inspiration.  I love NYC.  There are certainly downsides to raising a kid in NYC but there are so many wonderful benefits too.  My son was talking about collage in his PreK class and the next day I took him to MOMA to see the Matisse exhibit.  (He preferred the Miros and other surrealists who “painted a picture that had nighttime and daytime in the same painting!”)

This blog originally appeared in MsinTheBiz.com