"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Pennington for Your Thoughts

When I get a comment from a reader I don't know, I always look at their blog. Always. And I'll admit it, when I read blogs from someone who obviously has a better vocabulary than I, I get a little hot and bothered. Add in an unusual name and musician-writer-artist hyphenates and I am in full girl crush mode. 
Everyone, meet Ginger Pennington
 I know, Total Babe, right? She also has an August birthday and the fun Newlywed glow, as she just married the love of her life a little over two months ago. 
So go ahead and read on, and I dare you not get a little crush on her too. 
Ins and Outs for Artists

The door has been left unlocked, and here I am, inside the sacred hallows of The Struggling Actress blog, so very pristine and pink! 
The "I" in question is Ginger. You don't know me, but I am a fellow Struggling Actress, a Los Angeleno who doesn't take much seriously, an Unfocused Singer / Songwriter, seeker of adventure, a Periodic Painter, a Scatterbrained Writer of many ill-fated poems and fictions and Taste of Ginger, a dilettante artist of many stripes, and first and foremost, a Liver of Life.  

It is a bit mysterious and thrilling being here inside Lira's lovely blog -- like house-sitting while she is on vacation. I always snoop when I am left alone inside someone's space...it makes me feel like a sleuth. I love learning little secrets about people. And it's exciting to try to put things back at the exact angle you found them with shaky hands. As you'd expect, Lira hasn't left anything incriminating lying around: almost five hundred blog posts are filed away neatly, one wall is full of little doorways leading to other websites, there's a table cluttered with ideas and projects...and a note for me with instructions to distract her readers so they won't pine for her as she takes an extended vacation. 

So, what could be more distracting than my inner monologue?

Here is an epipha-not that just occurred to me as I was trying to fall asleep. Everything that you do in your life ever (besides meditating) falls under these two categories: Things Coming In or Things Going Out. Inbox or Outbox. Absorbing or Creating. Just think of how simple that makes every second of your life. The thing I realized is that most people spend most of their time Absorbing, or intaking, while creative people are much more concerned with putting out (and no, I don't mean in a slutty way). Consider:

Sleeping = Absorbing energy, taking in rest
Going for a run = Expelling sweat, creating kinetic energy

Eating Breakfast = Absorbing energy, taking in calories
Cooking Breakfast = Creating cuisine, expelling your culinary ideas

Browsing the web = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing emails or blogs = Creating something, sending out your brainwaves

Watching a movie = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Acting in a movie = Creating a character, sharing your energy

Reading a book = Absorbing someone else's ideas
Writing a book  = Expelling your own words and ideas

Listening to music = Taking someone's creativity in through your earholes
Writing or singing a song = Expelling your own ideas or voice

Going to a museum = Taking in someone's ideas through your eyeballs
Drawing a picture = Sending out creativity through your fingertips

I'm sure this epipha-not is half-baked...there are probably arguments you could make that certain actions in your life don't fall under one of these two categories -- like having a conversation, for example -- but I would find a way to argue back, of course, by saying that if you break it down to smaller increments of time, a conversation's nothing but taking in someone's ideas for a beat and then expressing your own. In and Out. The simplest unit of in and out is breathing, of course -- the stuff of life. 

What I've found, for me at least, is that I can't be happy unless I am relatively balanced between the intake and output. It's like I have this internal scale weighing everything and saying, "Yes, watching that Fresh Prince DVD from the library sounds great right now," but after an episode says, "I know I had planned to go to the movies at 7, but wouldn't I rather go to yoga instead?"

Now, that is not to say that it isn't lucrative to allow oneself entire days or even weeks of unbalanced input or output. I mean, there are some weeks that I just feel like a genius, so inspired, and during that week maybe all these opportunities pop up, allowing me to expel all my genius ideas into the ether -- to share them with the world! But how exhausting is that? And for this reason, I spend the next entire week being a complete bum, watching movies and reading books and resting all day, and hardly lifting a finger or allowing a brainwave to escape. 

Creatives, if you keep your life feeling like a swinging pendulum, then every time your pendulum swings back to the other side, you will feel refreshed and ready for the change, whether the change is flopping onto the sand with a good book or strutting into a new job rarin' to share your expertise. 

Oh, and here is something else I figured out: brand new experiences are the best, because then you are intaking and outputting AT THE SAME TIME! "No way," you say, "how does that work?" Well I'll tell you. When you buy that Groupon for the Trapeze School and you go down to the pier and climb up the ladder with trembling knees and grab for that swinging bar, you are learning something -- you are taking in a completely new-to-you possibility...but you are also expending energy, sharing your burgeoning trapeze talent with onlooking tourists who wish they were as brave. Perhaps this is why new experiences are so thrilling; they are the best of both worlds and provide an automatic balance of absorption and creation! So go hike that trail you've been wondering about. Go visit that town and talk to the locals! Go eat at that restaurant and then Yelp to high heavens about the polenta! Keep your balance.

...This is why our friend Lira needed her vacation. Have you seen what this woman has accomplished and expelled and created in the past few months? Her pendulum is due for a swing toward utter absorption and relaxation. Those who create frequently (blogging, auditioning, filming commercials, working) need to "fill the well," as Julia Cameron writes in The Artist's Way, so that they will have something to draw from when they dip their bucket in. Before we can have anything to write about, sing about, act, or paint, we need to take in rest and experience and inspiration. So you can bet that when your favorite Struggling Actress returns, her well shall be full -- nay, overflowing! -- with possibilities and creativity and advice and experience. 

But before I go, maybe I'll just peek in a few drawers...


  1. Great title, there, missus! xoxo

  2. Fantastic! Wow! Who is this Ms. Pennington. Geez, I'm crushing hard too!


Play nice.