Learning About Myself Through Travel

I have learned so much about myself from living on a ship.  And I don’t like some of what I’ve learned.  I understand that is a loaded statement.  I’m not trying to be a martyr.  Or over critical of myself. I just started seeing patterns in myself day to day that I want to make better, or make disappear altogether.  The biggest thing I’ve realized is that I’m a dweller.  It is so hard for me to just take things and move on.  I think of them constantly, replaying them over and over in my head.  Stop, I say to myself. Stop stop stop.

I’ve finally started to take my own advice, but I need to tell myself to stop daily.  Do not dwell.  It is incredibly unhealthy, and annoying.  Especially on a ship when you are really in your own little bubble.  If you don’t get out, trust me, you can begin to feel unhinged. I meditate, and like to have an ‘attitude of gratitude,’ but living in the moment is difficult when you replay things that happened months ago in your head and wonder if you could have done things differently, or even if you said the wrong thing at dinner the night before.  I think that after all these years, though, I’ve come to recognize that I do this and that I don’t like it.  It sucks. And it’s not helping me grow as a person at all.  If anything, it’s stagnating me.  It may not seem like much, but this is a huge realization, and one that is helping me become mentally healthier and more whole.

I could also say I’m too sensitive, but you know, that’s something I’ve always lived with and it’s always going to be a part of me.  I can’t get rid of it.  And at this point, I don’t want to.  What I do want to do is temper it, and understand that certain scenarios affect me in very strong ways.  I’m already preparing myself for when we go to India.  I’ve always wanted to see it, and feel SO lucky that I’m going.  However, several people have told me stories of the poverty, the strife, the gut wrenching quality of life.  I know this will cut a wound deep inside me, and my emotions will punch me in the stomach.  But I want to take what I feel, and channel it into writing, or acting – some sort of artistic outlet.  I already know it’s going to affect me.  And I know myself, and realize I cannot build up a wall against the emotions that are going to, frankly, completely overcome me. But because I’m not going to fight against it, at least I can allow myself to really feel and not beat myself up over the way I will react to sad circumstances.

I have only a couple days left in Australia, and then we are going to Indonesia.  I’m excited for Southeast Asia, in particular Bali and Komodo Island.  Australia has been really good to me, and I’m thrilled I got to see the other side of the world.  It just all goes by way too fast, and I definitely want to spend more time in Sydney in the very near future.  Going to all these great cities for just a couple hours can be frustrating, as you’re just on the lookout for the free wifi, good lunch spots, and top tourist attractions.  I’m looking forward to really staying in Australia on my own time, and experiencing the city life, beaches, neighborhoods, and arts scene at my own pace.  My favorite parts of Australia have been the weather, when we’re right on the water, and downtown in the casual, beachy, pedestrian ridden streets.  When we’re right in the heart of the city, between the chain stores and the huge buildings and fast food restaurants, I just can’t wait to get back to the quiet, back alley streets and cafes on the water.  Because as much as I don’t’ miss the cold, and the CONSTANT hustle, nothing, and I mean this, compares to New York City.  I love to travel, so when I get to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, I want to go the beach and see the unique things these places have to offer.

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Where Did The Month Go?

It has been a long time since I last wrote.  Time flies, and the amount of time I actually feel like I have to write is overwhelmingly small.  My days are so busy, and when I do have an hour or two to myself I want to use it either exploring the new place I’m in or catching up on much needed sleep.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve now been on board for over a month, as it feels like so much has happened, but hardly anything has really changed at all.

I’ve seen some amazing things that I’ve always dreamed of seeing.  Melbourne was a fantastic city, and while I didn’t get to see much of the city of Sydney itself, I had the best day there because I got to meet up with my friend and new mom, Bianca, who I hadn’t seen in over a year.  It was a beautiful thing to sit with her in a café on the opposite side of the world and meet her gorgeous new girl.  Those are the moments when you are so grateful for the love you have in your life.  When you can just feel the warmth of a friend who lives thousands of miles and time zones away, but still talk to them as though you’ve seen them yesterday.  Those moments are hugely needed on the ship, because you can get caught up in this small little world onboard and you need to keep yourself constantly reminded of the ‘real’ world.

One of the best experiences of my life happened in Tauranga, New Zealand.  I had the chance to go to Hobbiton, the movie set of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. I cannot describe just how incredible this experience was.  It was beyond what I had imagined, and truly exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot about the amount of detail that went into filming these movies.  The whole Shire is filmed on the farm that belongs to the Hamiltons, and it is huge.  After the first 3 LOTR’s, the set was built to be destroyed.  Once the Hobbit trilogies came about though, they decided to this time build the set permanently, so tourists could come to Hobbiton well after the filming had finished.  We saw clothes lines, workshops, scarecrows…it was all there!  Our guide told us that during filming, every day Peter Jackson would have crew walk pathways, acting like ‘hobbits,’ taking clothes down from the line, and back up again, to make the pathways look worn, as though people were really living there.

I will never forget this experience, ever.  The weather could not have been better either: sunny, with a cool breeze. The natural beauty, greenery, and smell was intoxicating and so needed for the soul.

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Southern Hemisphere Awakening

I sit now in a cafe in downtown Kaikoura, New Zealand.  As we pulled in this morning I went outside on the deck and couldn’t believe my eyes.  The scenery was truly out of The Lord of the Rings.  The rolling green hills, interspersed with the brownish sage brush and the arid mountains in the backdrop.  Simply stunning.

I’m getting acclimated and used to ship life again one day at a time. It is certainly a different lifestyle choice, and one that is both fun and difficult to adjust to.  Having only done one previous ship, I find myself looking for the people I used to work with, only to then realize a second later that the knock on the door is in fact not my old friend but a new face looking to make a new connection.

I know that with everyday, my job will become easier, and the friendships I’d like to have will grow. And in the meantime, I have some wonderful views to contend with.

Sailing into beautiful Kaikoura.

Sailing into beautiful Kaikoura.

My new home!

My new home!

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Taraunga park

Taraunga park

I think these trees look like those cell phone towers that we in the US try to make look like trees by randomly placing branches on them but here they are real!

I think these trees look like those cell phone towers that we in the US try to make look like trees by randomly placing branches on them but here they are real!

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A New Adventure

On the plane to Sydney I started writing a new post. When I re-read what I wrote, I immediately thought, “I haven’t written in so long and god it shows.  What I’m writing sucks.  I sound like a fourth grader writing about ‘my summer vacation.’  What do I say that will make this post not sound like that?  How do I describe the beautiful places I’m about to see without sounding trite?  The feelings I have about going so far from family?  About taking a job that helps and hinders relationships? About being able to do something I love, and how cliched-ly blessed and lucky I feel.  Having a new job that, when I describe it to others, I’m met with simultaneous reactions of happiness and good natured jealousy.  What do you say to that?

So I erased everything I first wrote, and then thought about why I’ve taken this job.  This is my second contract as Assistant Cruise Director and my first time doing it this summer was one of the happiest times of my life.  I contemplated why, when I’ve always been anxious about change and instability, I enjoy jobs that are the epitome of the unfamiliar.  Meeting new people every day, going to places I’ve never seen before, and being in a constant transient state.  Do I love to scare myself? To challenge myself? Because I know I can’t do a cubicle lifestyle?  A big part of it is that I know I would never have these sort of amazing opportunities on land. I wouldn’t be managing an entertainment department AND performing, while seeing some of the most beautiful and exotic places in the world.  I realized my passions for travel, singing, and a good challenge far outweigh the nerves I may feel.

I now relax in my hotel room in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand.  It is STUNNING here.  I know now why this was the setting for Middle Earth.  I cannot wait to explore.  On this voyage I will see places I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to see.  I loved my first contract, and I’m really excited to go back and improve on myself, the way I do the job, and my performances and singing.  I hope that you follow my journey as I post PLENTY of pictures and write about this amazing upcoming voyage.

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Everyone’s A Critic

Everyone’s a critic and everyone has an opinion.

That’s why blogs are so popular.  This online medium has given me and millions of other people the opportunity to sit comfortably in a coffee shop while pouring our thoughts into a computer and publishing those opinions, stories, and views to an online global audience.

However, online isn’t the only place where people can and will express their extremely crucial and necessary opinions.  Naturally, being in the arts, I’m used to hearing all sorts of critique, praise, criticism, and applause.  Usually, these come from directors, casting agents, and teachers.  Most of the time, fellow actors and audience members won’t (hopefully) share an opinion unless they have something nice to say, as the old adage goes.  But that’s not always the case.

ImageI performed in a cabaret series at the popular midtown spot, Don’t Tell Mama.  It was a lot of fun and they’ve had some pretty special performers there, so I was really happy to have the chance to grace the stage where I’ve seen some amazing acts.  A friend of mine set me up with the gig and I was excited to perform a couple monologues in front of a larger audience instead of one of two casting directors at a time.  The other performers in the series sang or performed original work, so when I went up my palms were sweatier than I had expected them to be.  After saying the last punch-line I was pleased that there was laughter.   I find there’s nothing worse than to say something ‘funny’ in a monologue only to pause for the laughter and find yourself listening to crickets.

At the end of the show I waited for my friend who had come to see me settle up her tab, so I stood by the exit.  It was at that moment when an older gentleman who appeared to be the father of someone in the show approached me, apparently intent on giving me a note.

ImageYes, you read that correctly.  He was there to bestow his critical opinion on my work and his note just couldn’t wait.  “You did a great job.”  “Thank you,” I replied.  “But if I may offer a suggestion,” he countered, “sometimes I felt you spoke a little too fast.  It would’ve been nicer if you had taken your time more. You had some funny moments. I would’ve liked them to soak in more.”  I stood there, mouth partially agape, eyes wide and for a split second I didn’t quite know how to react. Believe me, I don’t think I’m ‘above’ critique, not at all.  And I’m sure I can use his commentary and learn from it. I just couldn’t believe some random audience member felt it was his place to actually give me a note.  So I swallowed hard, took his criticism, and slapped a smile on my face saying, “Thank you.  Thank you so much, I appreciate that,” and let him go off on his merry way, probably thrilled that he could make such a contribution to a struggling artist’s life.

We all have opinions, especially when watching any sort of performance, sporting event, movie, etc, and I think self expression is crucial to growth and experiences.  But sometimes, I think it’s important to just remember that while an opinion may seem helpful, it’s good to use common sense and know when you should turn your inner critic on (or not).  Maybe he’d make a good blogger.

Jacqueline Chambers

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This is Halloween

As I throw away the fake cobwebs and clean up the left over candy, I can’t believe that October is over and Starbucks is already serving coffee in red Christmas cups.  Over the years, Halloween has become one of, if not my favorite holiday, and I’m always so sad to see it go.

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Hosting Halloween

The crisp leaves falling, orange frosting on everything, and a chance to play a new character makes this holiday so much fun for me, and I love seeing how into it everyone else gets.  I’m lucky that I have the perfect, albeit difficult, career choice for getting to be somebody else and step outside my own body, and this holiday gives non actors a chance to do that, too.  It’s truly important to never let imagination slip away, even as we get older.  Exercising creativity is crucial, and Halloween gives everyone a great opportunity to do that without (hopefully) being judged.

I read an article about a woman who decided to take it upon herself to determine if a child was ‘fit enough’ to receive candy.  Instead of treats, she was planning to pass out notes addressed to children’s parents telling them how irresponsible it was to have their ‘overweight’ child out trick or treating.  While my initial reaction was to laugh and guffaw at people’s inability to mind their own business, when I really thought about it, I got extremely sad.  Halloween is the one night a year a kid can put on a mask and hide their insecurities.  They can be an Avenger, Luke Skywalker, Hermione Granger, Princess Belle.  Let them escape from harsh realities of teasing classrooms and ‘imperfect’ body issues, and have a night of mischief and fantasy.  This woman must have some serious problems if she’s OK with taking that away.  Why perpetuate their insecurities when this is the night they can leave that all behind and enjoy their treats with their friends?

THAT is exercising creativity!

THAT is exercising creativity!

I hope that the parents were able to avoid this wicked witch’s house (pun definitely intended), so a special holiday wasn’t ruined.  I love the way that Halloween allows everyone a socially acceptable way to explore their alter egos and get into their inner kids. Creativity gives us a great outlet to never grow up if we don’t want to, and playing is just as important for a ‘grown up,’ as is it for a kid.

Jacqueline Chambers

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What Is It Worth?

How do you know when to say no?  In an industry that makes you feel you’re lucky for whatever you get, how can you justify walking away from an opportunity?

Most think about a job with the mindset: I want to do everything.  Every prospect brings more networking.  Somebody could see me in that show.  I could meet new people.  It bumps up my resume.

Yes, these are all pros of accepting work and reasons to say yes, but let’s compare this to something even non actors can relate to: dating. 

Would you say yes to every date you were asked on?  Maybe someone would initially say, YES!  Why not give everyone a chance?  You never know if someone will surprise you.  Maybe this is the elusive ‘one’ I’ve been hoping for.  Hey, it’s a free meal. 

BUT- let’s use a universal currency to really evaluate if it’s all worth it.  TIME.  For dating and shows, is your time worth it?  Sometimes the answer is a resounding yes, but in the same way not all encounters are created equal, not all work opportunities are either.  Like debating about the second or third date, if you don’t see if going somewhere and working for your future, take that advice and apply it to acting.  Will working with the same creative team be for your benefit, or are you not progressing, and expanding your boundaries?  Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith and realize that, maybe taking on a new show for the sake of another credit on the resume, isn’t worth it. 

I’d love to hear others’ opinions on this.  Do you think I’m being crazy?  Or am I just weighing my options and looking at my time as a way to grow.  If I don’t take that show, I could use the time I would’ve spent rehearsing and memorizing lines to do more writing, taking a class, or exploring a new part of the city.  I don’t think passing something up is necessarily being selfish or foolish.  I think, maybe it’s part of growing into yourself, growing up, and realizing who and what deserves your most precious commodity of all: your time.

Jacqueline Chambers

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