Updated: Sep 17
"It takes three things to make it in this business: the tenacity of a bulldog, the hide of a rhinoceros and a good home to come home to."
- Stella Adler
When I first read that quote, I understood the first two, but not the third. Which is shocking, because I was sitting in an old, mouse infested flat in North-East London wondering why I couldn't peel myself off the couch and yet was simultaneously launching a coaching business for actors.
The reality and the intention did not match.
My "good home" was not good, not peaceful, not beautiful, not safe and yet I couldn't understand why I was stressed all the time. Why I wasn't sleeping well. Why I was struggling to make enough money.
Tenacity? No problem. Resilience? Easy-peasy. But a home...?
What's that got to do with my acting career?
I fell into my next place at the mercy of a friend with a spare room and it is beautiful. It seems that the universe, over and over, tries to show me what's important while I blissfully continue suffering (often for no reason) because I lack the awareness to change my circumstances to support the growth I so often need.
And the space. The space to breathe and reflect that then creates the opportunity to challenge the mouse-infested-flat or my self-perpetuating negative thought cycles. It's a big sentence but basically, maybe there are two spaces. The outer and the inner. And my inner had no option but to reflect my outer.
Earth shattering. I know.
But AGAIN, you can read all the articles about creating environmental peace and then the second your situation is changed, you feel the difference. You feel the security, the ability to grow comes back again. The imagination lights up with possibility because the most basic aspect of your life is again taken care of.
"A good home to come home to."
My childhood home was and is a tapestry of love and food and company and music. Fiddle tunes and drum beats have soaked the walls for 20 years, I don't know if the paint was put there or if the love and candlelight did all the work. My parents built a Home, with a capital H for hearth. A wood fireplace, couches we always got second hand and an eclectic collection of art painted by family members and relatives and gifts of carvings and indigenous art work from treasured locals. It's a mecca of West Coast light and earth and love. I digress.
It's so easy as a child to take for granted what home was born out of. And the truth is that it was work. Consistent effort, consistent building, home done renovation, family dinners and porch expansions and arbors being built and gardening and weeding and hanging portraits and reorganizing and a dedication for rustic beauty born from West Coast influences and nature and Scottish heartiness and family photos and memorials and Christmas lights and weddings in the dining room and little statues made on art days and children's drawings and our heights on doorways.
It was about ten million minutes of love, and trial and work. A lot of work. Work that made my childhood beautiful and supported and awesome.
So it's no wonder to me now, after reflecting on the gift that home was, to see how being in a place I don't know as well with integral structural issues would challenge my mental health so much.
I'm not much good at communicating when I'm stressed, and what good are actors if they that can't sustain their own healthy lives? How can anyone empathize with another person or story when their own is fraught with stress? What good am I as a business coach if I don't take care of myself first?
I am happily in my new place, for at least a few more months. I'll have to leave this place as my friend is moving on as well, but when I do move, I want to start to grow my own home, like a sheltering ancient tree starting out. First with little leaves, then with strong branches and finally a canopy that can shelter myself and my community and my own family to come.
I can't wait to build my own good home. Just like my parents.