Friday, November 4, 2016



Wetbacks. Wops. Micks. Guineas. Japs. Towelheads. Greaseballs. Chinks. Should I continue? I can. I mean the list goes on, and on, and on, but I don't want to. Did you know there's actually an entire wikipedia page that lists ethnic slurs? I didn't, until I googled it. When I visited the site, I was happy to learn that I had not heard of most of them, but that's about all I felt happy about.  And I was so uncomfortable typing the ones above, I made sure to include more of the ones my own ethnicity would have been called. Correction, would be called. Present tense. Because we are in a new time. It appears that we no longer only hear these words said by our old racist uncle during Thanksgiving, but they are now rampant on social media, and at political rallies, in our schools, and in our neighborhoods. The floodgates have been opened, my friends. Welcome to America, 2016. Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and the Divided.

I really don't want to get into politics here. I think we've had just about enough. Full disclosure, I'm a registered Independent that leans left, pretty far left. As an 18 year old, I didn't want to register with one party because I wholeheartedly believed in voting for the best man (or woman) for the job. I also think I didn't want to freak out my conservative family. But I knew then, just as I know it now, I'm a liberal. I've actually voted for a Republican (though I regretted it), but I would do it again if I felt he (or she) was the best person for the job.

And I'm not here to alienate my conservative friends, quite the opposite, because all sides have been guilty of the name calling (and that's putting it nicely). I know politics is a dirty game, but we have forgotten how to be neighbors, because we've forgotten we are neighbors. We have forgotten that ALL of us have been created EQUAL, not just the people that we agree with, not only the people that share our skin color, or our sexual orientation, or our religion. And I'm not here to sit on my high horse, because this election has brought out the worst in me as well. But the one positive thing it has brought out is the knowledge that we have a real problem in this country. And it's a positive because you can't find a cure, if you don't know you're sick. We're sick. We are better than this, we can change this, there's still hope. But the time is now to start looking for a cure.

On November 8th, we'll have elected a new President, but regardless of who that is, the one thing that won't change on November 9th is the fact that we are a divided people. I know so many people are angry that we have become a politically correct society. Well, this election has all but killed that concept. I have an awful feeling the slur words above (and more from that Wikipedia page) as well as misogynistic terms that are so easily thrown around (and dismissed as 'locker room talk') will continue, and used even more freely. What has happened to the word KINDNESS? What has happened to the word EQUALITY? What has happened to LOVE?

So why am I writing this? Well, I like to believe I have a few talents (though some of you might disagree, and I know who some of you are). And I'd like to use them to make this world a better place, if I can. I know some will call me a bleeding heart, an idealist, and they'll mean it as an insult. Sorry, I take it as a compliment. Because if I learned anything from all those years of Catholic school, it's that we should "love one another". That means EVERYONE. Especially the people that we want to punch in the face (it's fucking HARD, I know). Don't like it? Take it up with Jesus. So, I wrote a song as response to the hateful words I've been hearing. I wrote this song as a response to the way we are treating one another. And I wrote this song to spread some joy. Warning, it contains some words that I can actually get behind, expletives. I hope it makes you laugh. I hope it spreads some light. And I hope it makes one person think before they use their words to injure. Because words matter.

30% of proceeds from iTunes sales will be donated to Human Rights Watch.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


First blog post of 2015. Woohoo!! Break out the champagne! It only took me more than half the year to hit 'publish', but let's not dwell on my lack of consistency, nor my procrastination. Instead, let's be crazy and focus on the positive. Let's focus on what I've actually been doing when I'm not writing this blog. I finished recording an album of songs I wrote with my amazing band, Red Wine + Whiskey. A song I wrote made the Top 10 of the Davenport Songwriting Contest for musical theatre, and I was lucky enough to perform it at the Davenport Theater in NYC. I started my own production company, Roxy Strago Productions. And I produced, directed and acted in a short film that I also wrote, called "Composing Life" (I swear I'm not a control freak, really...lack of money means you need to do more)!

I'm not writing any of this for a pat on the back.  Honestly, aside from feeling exhausted when I typed the above, I don't feel any more successful than I did when I published my last post in October, 2014. Okay, that's not entirely true.  I've succeeded in one main area. And it's pretty important. I did all of those things while I was totally and utterly petrified.  I did them while I was not 100% ready. I did them while those little voices kept saying to me "Who do you think you are to do this? You're not a real musician, you think any one will like these songs? You aren't that talented.  You're not really a writer.  You're barely an actor, how the hell are you going to direct real actors? You're gonna FAIL!"

#regramed from @belcoaching

Yep, it's true, my inner critic is an Asshole, and yep, I'm pretty much afraid of everything, and yep, those voices can be pretty damn convincing, but one voice was LOUDER. And that was the one that told me that I'm here for a reason, and when I jump a net would appear.  I know those other voices are only trying to protect me, but ultimately, they're wrong.  I appreciate their intentions, but they are fucking wrong.  And so I decided that I would hear them, but I would no longer listen to them. I OWE it to myself to do everything in my power to live the life I dream of. And after years of waiting for permission that never came from the powers that be in this industry, I decided to stop waiting for it. I just started to DO! And my God, it's empowering. It's still scary, but for so long I've heard that the best things happen when you're out of your comfort zone, and for the first time I've lived it. I continue to live it. 

Our album hasn't been released yet, I didn't win that contest, my company hasn't made a dime, and we're still editing this little film of mine; I have no idea how any of this will turn out. I'm still going to do it. And for a change of pace, I'm going to think positively about it. Though I'm not foolish enough to believe things are gonna be less scary.  They'll probably be more frightening, and I'll probably start getting enough points on my rewards card at my liquor store for discounts. I just refuse to let fear hold me back.  There's a Robert H. Schuller quote that says, "What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?" Do that! I know it's not totally realistic, there's no guarantees in this life.  But do it anyway. You owe it to yourself.

Here's a little iPhone recording of one of the scenes from "Composing Life" being shot on May 30th. More to come. I'm excited (well, excited and scared).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If Just One Persons Believes...

I've heard it said the hardest part of doing anything is starting. It's especially true when you are staring at a blank page, like what I'm faced with each time I attempt to write this blog. The past few weeks of writing weren't that difficult because I had experienced some sort of struggle almost daily, and so I had a lot to think about and express, and I guess learn; which makes writing easier, at least it does for me.  See, I think I'm having such a hard time with this post because what I've felt this past week wasn't an overwhelming sense of fear, but gratitude.  Pure gratitude, for where I am right now, for things that have led me here, for the future and for the people in my life who have supported me.   So the question is, can I be happy and write a meaningful blog post?  I don't know, but I'm going to try.  I mean this post is already late by my self imposed deadline anyway, so I'll struggle on.

Now, I'm well aware that you learn from your failures/negative experiences, and that means we shouldn't be afraid to fail, but I also think you can learn from the good things as well.  BUT just for old time's sake, let's start first with a disappointment. My Indiegogo campaign ended this past week and I didn't raise as much as I'd hoped. Heading into the last week of the campaign I felt angry.  Why does potato salad raise $55,000.00 and I'm having trouble raising more than a thousand?  Oh, and then things started to get really ugly when I began to list (a mental one, but still not pretty) all the people who didn't donate (people who I have given to and people who I knew could afford to give, but hadn't) and then thankfully I had an Oprah "A ha" moment.  I realized that no one owes me anything.  I had this dream, on my own and not one person (except for maybe my mom) was obligated to give me a dime. And when I contributed to anyone else's campaign, it was never because I expected a payback.  I gave to support my friends.  So I released the NEED to raise money, and I let it go (please don't sing). I also forgave all those people on my mental list, though they had done absolutely nothing wrong to be forgiven for, but I needed to do it for myself. And crazily enough, once I did that, I raised more money (maybe it's a coincidence because most people wait 'til the last minute to contribute, but I don't so).  And I continue to receive support now that the campaign is over.    

Yes, I failed!!!  I did not reach my goal on Indiegogo, but I have gained so much more (get ready, I'm going to get positive now).  The support I did receive was overwhelming, because I realized that those people who contributed to my film did so because they truly wanted to.  No one had to open their wallets and contribute any of their hard earned cash, but they did.  And as I thanked each person, I received notes back full of support.  When I yelled at someone for what they gave and asked "Are you crazy?" they simply responded "No, I just love you and believe in you".  And then I wept, at my desk, at work, and it was embarrassing.  I don't think I have ever actually heard those words said to me before. And if they were said, I either hadn't really listened or I just didn't believe them.

With all these people believing in me, I can't let them down by not believing in myself.  And as I move forward getting ready to go into the studio, and search for a cinematographer, there are moments of fear.  What if the songs don't sound like I want them to? What if I choose the wrong person?  What if what I've written isn't any good?  But, and here's the biggie, what if I truly believe in myself (like my friends do) and listen to my instincts, and trust my gut?  Imagine that!!  I have to believe that if I do that I'll be where I need to be.  I'm not saying it will be perfect, but I believe it will be the perfect place for me, in the perfect time.

And Lord knows I can ramble on and on with my non-perfect sentences, but honestly, I don't think I can say it better than Bernadette Peters and the Muppets. Special thanks to my dear friend Polly McKie for introducing me to this, and to all those friends and family members who believe in me.  You make it essential that I believe in myself, and with that, anything is possible:

UPDATE: Let's share the love.  I had this thought this morning (after posting very late last night), what if we all thought of one person that you believe in (they don't need to be in the performing arts) and you told them so.  Or maybe you tweet them with #Ibelieveinyou!  Or if you don't feel comfortable telling them personally, why not say a prayer for them or send them good thoughts and root for them that way.  You never know who needs to feel your belief right now! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Hero's Journey

A few years ago I had the incredible opportunity to perform in NYC Player's "Neutral Hero". Unbeknownst to me, the story was inspired by Joseph Campell's The Hero's Journey.  And no, I didn't play the hero, but I did play Karen Elliot, the Goddess (yes, I still laugh about it myself).  I never gave much thought to the hero's journey before I joined the cast, and I haven't thought about it much since, because well, I'm no hero. I've never saved a life or healed the sick, I'm just a girl from Long Island, who wants to entertain people through stories and music, and who would like to one day pay off her credit card debt, but that's another story for another day.  And honestly, I wasn't planning on writing this post, but the feelings I've been dealing with recently have dictated to me that I needed to talk about what I've just figured out.

Working on this film, trying to raise money for it, and writing this blog has given me the keys to open up my very own Pandora's box of fears.  You name it, I've experienced it in the past two weeks. Some fears are normal, like not raising enough money to make this project, to feeling like the work isn't good enough.  I say they're normal because I've experienced that type fear before. But other fears are just completely irrational.  It seems like one little negative thought leads to another one that's a little bit bigger, and before you know it I'm catching Ebola, being falsely imprisoned, and/or dying alone. It's been a rough week.

My fears had become so overwhelming that I began to feel physically ill, so when I saw Elizabeth Gilbert was on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, I sat my ass down on my couch and watched that sucker immediately OnDemand.  I was transformed in an hour.  See it was there, I was reminded of The Hero's journey but in a more personal way.  A very abbreviated explanation of the journey is the 'hero' answers the call not without self doubt, struggles on the path, then reaches a point of no return which leads to a battle, where Gilbert says that "every single one of those obstacles prepared you for the battle, then you lose your fear and then you become the hero".  Me. And you, if we answer the call.

See I answered my call.  And it is a very different one from most people I know. No one else in my family, or friends for that matter, has received a similar call as I, and if they have then the have rejected it. They all went to school, got jobs with that degree, got married, had kids, because that is their call; but that's not mine. Sometimes when people see you making a different choice then the one they are accustomed to, they assume you must be unhappy.  But no worries, they're here to help!! They have all the advice in the world and know just how to fix you.  And even though I didn't know I needed to be fixed,  I began to doubt myself, and my call.  What if they're right?  Maybe I should  just forget this crazy dream of mine (it's really hard anyway), find a good paying job with health insurance (I too have a degree), get a man, a marriage license, and pop out a few kids (Lord knows that would make my mother very happy).  But honestly, I'm not unhappy without those things.  Yes, there are a few things I'd like to change about my current situation, but I'm happy on my journey.  Nothing makes me feel more alive and grateful than writing and performing, and nothing makes me feel more trapped then having to do something that takes me away from that.  This is the life I want to live.  And then, like a light bulb, I realized that I was feeling all this anxiety because I'd let the opinions of others affect my own.

Sure it's not without struggles or trials (this indiegogo campaign of mine is just the tip of the iceberg) but they are just obstacles on my path.  And I welcome them.  I don't enjoy them, but if they are prepping me for what's to come, I welcome them.  So now, I have officially chosen to become the Hero of my own story!  If I'm not, who will be?  That's what my film is about...characters who have received and accepted their call, no matter how difficult, no matter who doesn't understand, no matter who tells them "No", because I don't believe you will be truly happy unless you follow your own call. As Paulo Coelho author of The Alchemist says, our only obligation is to find our "personal legend" (or purpose), honor it and fulfill it.  And at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card or an advertisement for OWN TV,  I hope I can continue to be brave enough to continue my journey.  I may not be a hero in terms of a summer blockbuster, but I see now that I am the hero of my life.  I can only hope you're the hero of yours.  You deserve that!  Hell, he world needs it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Asking for help SUCKS!

Asking for help is hard.  I'm not used to doing it and I don't like it.  As adults, and I think I'm supposed to be one of those, shouldn't we be self-sufficient?  Aren't we supposed to look like we're got it all together, even if we are raging messes inside?  Won't it look like we're weak if we ask for help?  It's funny though, whenever someone asks me for help, I never once look at it as a weakness, but somehow it's different for myself. It feels embarrassing for me to need assistance.  It's a blaring reminder that I am not perfect, I do not have it all together and I'm not sure I ever will.  It's also an incredibly vulnerable thing to do, to put yourself out there and say to the world, "Oh hey, excuse me everybody who seems to have their act together, I sorta cannot do this on my own, so can you maybe throw me a rope.  Only if it's not too much trouble"!

But I see now that it's essential.  I'm in that ask place right now, as I'm asking for help to bring this film to life.  I don't have an off-shore bank account or wads of cash in my mattress, nor do I have wealthy parents or a sugar daddy (and I'm totally ok with that).  So I started an indiegogo campaign and am asking for support. When I thought about doing it originally I had no qualms about it.  Many of my friends had done their own and I supported them.  It's not a big deal.  But when I put my campaign up, all of a sudden I felt not so great about it. It kinda felt dirty to me.  Who am I to ask my friends and family for money for something that I want to do.  Who do I think I am??  I would imagine people seeing my posts about my campaign and them saying to themselves "You want to make a film, good for you, go make it yourself".  Now as a disclaimer, no one has ever said that to me, but whenever I post something on FB or send an email about raising money, that is what I imagine people are thinking.

When I was doing research on budgets for film and raising money, I send an email to a friend who had just completed their own short film and I was asking about financing.  This person (who is an excellent human being, super smart and talented) said to me that they couldn't bring themselves to ask their friends to pay for their short .  Since there will be no return on it, it didn't feel right to them.  But they were making no judgement on anyone who went that route.  Part of me felt sick because I too agreed with them (partially anyway), but I also realized that without help this film would stay where it had been for a long time, on my computer and in my mind.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and a call for help.

It still bothers me when I write an email to a friend and ask them to check out my campaign and to consider supporting it.  Then when I get an email notification, instead of thinking I have a new contribution I just assume it's a nasty email saying "Please never contact me again about your stupid film, I have my own things to deal with".  I have yet to receive an email like that.

But you know what I have received?  Encouragement. And from surprising sources.  I have been so supremely touched by the generosity of people, some of which I barely know, but who have contributed and then sent messages like "I know what it's like to purse your dreams, and how tough it is at the beginning...I'm rooting for you."  How amazing is that?  Every time I get an notification that someone has contributed, I'm filled with so much gratitude I want to cry.  To feel any kind of support is absolutely amazing.  People do want to help you.  But you need to be brave and ask for it.  Have I reached my goal? No. Will I?  Probably not, but that's okay.  I'm not stopping.

I came upon an article in TIME Magazine (no, I'm not that intellectual, I saw it on Facebook) and in it, Ricky Gervais said this about hard work "I believe that if you didn't have to work for something, it can’t truly be considered success. Luck doesn't count. I think success is allowed a certain pride and you can’t be proud of luck or even of being born smart, artistic, or talented. It’s what you do with it that counts."  This thing is not going to come easily to me and that's okay.  For a little while I was thinking that if it doesn't happen quickly or easily it's not meant to be, but that my friends, is complete bullshit.  There are lessons in this journey, there are things I need to experience for me to grow and there are moments to be met, so I can get to the next moment.  I can't skip any steps.  And so I will work harder on this than anything else, so that when I have my first screening, I will know I have succeeded, but not without the help of some friends.  And for that I'll be forever grateful.  This is a journey that is opening me up, it's teaching me to be vulnerable, to ask for help and to trust that good intentions, hard work, dedication and a pure love will be rewarded in kind.     

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's funny how these doubts keep growing.

Two weeks ago I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for this passion project of mine, and just like that, I received two generous contributions.  I was thrilled!  This was going to be a piece of cake.  My friends and family would see how devoted I was to making this happen and click that pink button of support.  And strangers would see the link shared by said friends and family, discover that it's a funny yet worthwhile project, and they too would want to help.  So of course, throughout the day any time my phone 'dinged' (yes, my phone dings) with an email alert, I immediately knew it was another contribution.  And since you are all brilliant people, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you, I was wrong...Nothing.

I tried to tell myself it doesn't matter.  Even if no one else contributes another dime, somehow I would make this film.  But little by little this was just another thing for those negative voices to grab a hold of, make me doubt myself, and then doubt some more, because to me, in that moment, the amount of contributions told the story of what everyone thought of me.  And it wasn't a very good story.  It felt like no one believed in me or my talent; that no one believed in this project; that no one cared.  I was all alone in this world.

Now if you are looking at the paragraph above from a rational, non-emotional and calm perspective you would think I should go straight to a shrink, and looking back right now, from the other side, I can see that it does seem a bit cray.  And though I cannot fully explain it, those feelings felt 100% real. When you are in that dark place of fear and doubt and insecurity, it's relatively easy to go from "Maybe my post isn't reaching everyone I'm trying to reach" to "I guess no one believes in this project" to "I'm completely alone in the world".  And so I broke down and cried my eyes out.

I also failed to mention that earlier that day I held the door for a woman who was on her phone.  She walked right into the overpriced coffee chain, that continuously spells my name incorrectly, without a thank you.  So I, loudly and passive aggressively, said "You're welcome".  She came back out and said "Thank you.  I'm sorry you need to be validated".  I really wanted to call her a few choice names, but by some strange act of God I restrained myself and just said, "No, I'm sorry that you have no manners".  Then I realized that, though she was rude, she was right.  I do need to be validated.  I do need to feel like I matter, that what I do matters, that people like me, that I count, that everyone knows I exist...I can continue, but I'll spare you.  And that's what the lack of contributions was feeding into, my lack of feeling validated.

I wish I could finish this post with an epiphany; that I found the remedy for this need of validation, because I would totally share it with you and make the time you wasted reading this worthwhile, but if you came here for all the answers, I think you now know you came to the wrong place.  I'm struggling right with you (at least I think you might struggle too, if not, please impart some of your wisdom).  Instead, here I sit, with a new recognition and a few realizations:

  1. The entire world does not revolve around me and what I want.  I never thought that I thought it did, but apparently there's a small part of me that thinks it does, or it should.  I'm embarrassed to admit it, but there it is. 
  2. What other people feel about me and my talent should have no affect on how I feel about myself and my talent.  But at times it can feel like that's all that matters.
  3. The amount of "support" I get, or do not get, for this project does not reflect my self-worth, or the worthiness of this film.   
  4. I should probably see a shrink.

I need to work on these things daily (aside from the shrink, because I cannot afford one, so I drink, kid, but really I can't afford one), just stating them doesn't make them a reality in my life.  So the only solution I can think of is to keep going, to continue to do the work because ultimately, that's what's important.  Having doubts does not mean I will stop!  I also know I will hit more walls as I move forward; this is just the first one to climb over.  And most importantly, I still believe "If you build it, they will come", so I'm starting to build this foundation.  I choose to believe the right people will find and support this film, and I will be stronger for the journey.

Now since this film is a comedy with original music, I had an idea to write a witty song for our Indiegogo campaign and luckily I had some extremely talented friends sing along (a few just happen to be in "Composing Life" as well).  I couldn't be more grateful for their time and talents, as well as the opportunity to bring this story to life and the lessons I will continue to learn.  I hope you enjoy. And I hope you continue to climb over your own walls; they need to be climbed!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm tired of waiting.

Did you miss me?  Did you wonder where I'd gone?  Do you remember reading this blog at all?  If so, I apologize for my blogging absence.  If not, well, let's just pretend that you did and you do because, although it has been over a year since my last post, I'm back.  I honestly feel quite guilty for not posting for so long, but I did have my reasons.  One of which was feeling that these posts had become more narcissistic than I had liked.  I also hated feeling the need to have people "like" my posts and I couldn't stop comparing myself to other bloggers when their posts were shared all over social media but I was lucky to have 18 people read mine (and I know that I am lucky).  These feelings seemed to cheapen what I was trying to do and yet I couldn't figure out how to separate what I wanted to say from my insecurities about how many people were reading it and how they were responding to what I was saying.  I also felt like a hypocrite, trying to put myself out there in order to "inspire" others, but I couldn't inspire myself out of paper bag.  I needed a time out.  And so I focused on my work.

I've been 'working' on a passion project for years.  And by 'working' I mean thinking about it.  These characters have been living in my head for over five years and remained there until two years ago when I finally wrote a television pilot, but I know no one in the tv industry.  So I sat on it, and sat on it some more.  Then in February I had an epiphany, I figured, I'll do a web series.  I'll write a prequel to the story, so the world would meet these characters and fall in love with them, but a few months into that process I realized that that was not the right platform for me or this story.  So I went back to what seems like my roots and wrote a short film.  See, I majored in film production in college, but after graduation I focused on performing and never used that very expensive piece of paper, otherwise know as my diploma.  And then like all good procrastinators, I sat on it again because I needed to make it PERFECT before I moved forward!! Ha, when will I learn?!

Since I've started on this journey I've been trying to figure out why I'm so afraid to move, and I think it's because if I do this and people hate it, if they hate my work, then they must think I'm not good. And if people think I'm not good, well, then, they must be right, right?  So then everything I've ever thought about myself, my life and my dreams will be wrong.  Yes, rationally I know I wear some brightly colored tight fitting CRAZY PANTS!!  Because that's insane.  My self worth does not depend on something that I create, and it most definitely does not depend on what others think of it.  But tell that to the vampires in my head at 1:00 in the morning.

So now, I'm tired!!  I'm tired of waiting for something to happen. I'm tired of thinking positively, and reading inspirational quotes and sharing them, and then waiting some more. It's not about waiting, it's about doing.  Looking back on my life so far, I've realized I've been waiting to be picked...picked for a team, picked for a dance, picked for a solo, a date, a role, a career, a life even.  And I'm tired of it.  I can no longer allow myself to wait for someone to "pick" me, so I am picking myself.  I'm not going to wait for approval or permission.  I'm no longer waiting for the perfect time because I think we all know that no such time exists.

And I may very well fail, but I will do so on my own terms.  And by fail I mean, people may hate my film, or worse they may feel nothing at all.  It may not get into a single festival, nor be the stepping stone like I hope it will be.  Hell, it may not even be seen!!  But regardless of the what the outcome turns out to be, I know it will propel me forward, personally and creatively, and that's far better than sitting on my couch waiting for something.  I'm going to make a movie:

Going forward, I hope to write a new post every week focusing on bringing this passion project of mine to life, dealing with the difficulties that will arise, facing the fears and irrationalities, and the journey of moving past my comfort zone.  Please join me, because it's so much more fun when you feel completely uncomfortable with a friend!  Let's do this!
#Ballsout #Shortfilm #Composinglife