Let It Burn

December 8, 2016

burning-fieldsWhen I was in Bali, I stayed in Ubud surrounded by rice fields. One day I noticed the field was burning and I asked them what was going on. They told me it’s customary to burn the field after the harvest. It keeps the field healthy and makes way for a new planting.

Burn the field. So, if the harvest was great, you burn the field. If it was a difficult year, a year of drought, you burn the field. Whatever happened on that field, whatever you went through to bring about the harvest, when it’s done, you burn it.

The field is always there, though. The raw material is there. The soil. The location is also a constant. The field, its soil, can become healthy even if it had a tough year. You just have to be willing to let it burn.

This. This, for me, was revelational.

#letitburn #ricefieldsbali #wearethefield #moveforward #soilrich #balilessons#ubud #itsanewday #2016goingdowninflames #riseup#phoenixrisingfromtheashes


Near Ubud – rice fields behind me




July 19, 2016


In my earlier artist years, I wasted a lot of energy. I was a career energy waster, truth be told. Then, I ran out of energy. I actually ran myself into the ground and was forced to stop pursuing performing and reconsider my path. Ultimately, I came back to it and to my belief that this great beauty, ART, has the power to change the world in ways nothing else can. But, in order to move back into it, I knew I had to figure out how to stop wasting energy.

What was I wasting energy on? Oh, SO MANY THINGS but for today I’ll talk about this one: I was constantly bemoaning what I did NOT have.

I don’t have enough time.  I don’t have enough money.  I don’t have the networking connections.  I don’t have, I don’t have, I don’t have … blah, blah, blah. 

And, after bemoaning what I didn’t have, I’d usually move on to comparing my lack of *have* with others’ seeming abundance.

She’s successful because she has money. Her dad is famous. She has time so she’s not tired like I am and so on and so forth. If I had those things I’d [fill in the blank], too.

I even had a coach (a belated thanks to him, Alex Katsman, for this) cut me off during one of my comparison rants by saying, “What a waste of your f…ing energy. You could be using this time, this energy, to work right now.”

Well, it took a few years but I finally turned the tide. It was exhausting and disheartening to constantly feel that I was not enough, did not have enough, etc. So, I hit rock bottom then I found my solution. What CAN I do? What DO I have? At the time, I had a full-time job. I couldn’t practice a lot but I COULD put in one hour every day after work. I would take myself straight home or straight to a practice room and do this. I couldn’t make very many auditions but I could create my own cabaret in the hours I could control. You get the picture.

This line of thought changed me completely. It changed my core DNA on some levels. And, I started to see growth and to feel like life was actually full to the brim with blessings.  It is astounding how far a little bit can go. It’s been years since I turned that corner but even now, when I get discouraged or catch myself feeling sad about what I do not have or cannot do, I remind myself of ALL the so-many things I CAN do … I call it the “Can-Can.” 🙂 And, with the “Can-Can” in play, I am re-invigorated every time.

With the world being what it is right now, I like so many others feel down trodden. I feel like it is impossible to turn the tide. That the weight is too heavy. I feel overwhelmed by what I cannot do. What we do not have as a country. But as I sit with that I am realizing something. The answer is the same. Instead of thinking about what I can NOT do, I must move into the “Can-Can.”

I CAN do small, loving things every single day. I CAN feed people. I CAN hug people. I CAN listen. I CAN humble myself. I CAN vote. I CAN create beauty through my art. I CAN tell important stories. I CAN dream. And I cannot help but think that if we all did the “Can-Can,” the world’s DNA might slowly be transformed.

Dream the Impossible Dream. Why Not.

To Dream the Impossible Dream from Tamra Paselk on Vimeo.

The Homeless Shuffle

September 23, 2015

homeless-person-nycTonight, I picked up some gelato (best ever) from Grom’s and walked down into the subway station at Columbus Circle. That’s where I saw the shuffling homeless man. I could smell him from quite a distance and he was talking to himself like one who is not well of mind is prone to do. His walk was a sort of rhythmic shuffle that dipped with each right footed step. Maybe because half of his right shoe was missing. As an actor, I found myself drawn to the behavior. The “impediments” if you will. The walk itself seemed pained. If this were a character I were playing, I’d have to be specific about where that pain was coming from. “Where is it coming from?” I asked myself. His third fingers on both hands and a touch of the fourth curved as his hands did this little flick each time his right step dipped. His tongue would protrude every few steps and hang out for a couple more and his eyes were squinting. There were sounds, too. From the mumbling but also an occasional whimper caused by the pain of shuffling, I assumed. Skin well worn, rugged. He was older but probably looked older than he is and his clothes were hanging from a very frail form.

I continued to study when suddenly his gaze flew up and he looked me straight in the eye for what seemed a very sane second. For this one moment, I felt we were connected by our shared humanity. Then he looked away and continued to shuffle but the moment lingered with me and is, even now, lingering. It felt intimate, uncomfortable. My mind leaped to imagining him as a child. As a little boy playing in a yard, carefree in that time before any of us really understand if our families are healthy or if our parents really love us. I saw him as an innocent, happy boy. 

Once upon a time, this man was an innocent, giggling baby. My heart breaks in this city as often as it soars.

I know many of us struggle to have huge and loving hearts toward the homeless. I am part of that ‘us.’ But, most of us who struggle also have at least one person who would take us in if we ever truly fell upon hard times. How blessed to be in good mental health. How blessed to have someone, anyone, to take us in. I thought of all the refugees who have nowhere to go. 

I imagined myself walking in this man’s broken right shoe and in my imagination I, too, began to shuffle. 


April 18, 2015

looking toward the sunI went to the gym at work tonight and no one was there.  It was one of those rare NYC moments in which one finds herself alone, actually alone.  And, it is quiet.  So blissfully quiet.  Alone and so silent that for the first time in a while I can hear myself breathe.  I board a treadmill facing a floor to ceiling window and start running, my gaze on the New York City skyline.  39th Floor.  The sky is overcast and my view is mostly a myriad of not-that-interesting rooftops. I’m sprinting now, letting it all out as if I could transfer all of life’s weight from my body and soul into the skyline.  And, my iTunes radio station is magical.  It plays song after song corroborating my unburdening until finally I’m running with my arms open wide and tears streaming down my cheeks.  Yes, tears in an unkempt, corporate building gym where silence found me and let me BE.  Open.  I am open.  HOPE is here with me and GRATITUDE, also.  Grateful that I am breathing.  Grateful that I can sing – gratitude unconditional that I am capable of singing.  This grateful truth that stands alone, set apart from the business world it must occasionally attach itself to.

As I run, all my body parts are jiggling. Because that happens now that I’m not as *younger* as I used to be. And because it’s been so long since I’ve run, my muscles feel like they are banging against each other violently, flinging themselves against my unsuspecting skin. Even my bladder is tossing itself up and down.  My muscles are aching now.  A painful pleasure rendering me free from the captivity I so often subject myself to in life.

Then, I almost flew off the treadmill.  It’s really best to keep one’s eyes open whilst running on a treadmill.

Every mountain neighbors a valley.  Can’t go under it.  Can’t go around it.  Gotta go through it.  Swish, swish, swish, swish, swish …

I’m on the 1 train now listening to “The Book of Love” and my soul is so well.  It is so whole.  Joy seeps out of every pore even if only for this one brief moment.  But, moments.  I live for those.

And, you are here with me.   Life is full of beautiful.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.


March 18, 2015

RESET BUTTONOn March 1st, I flew past the one year anniversary of leaving my full time job to pursue my career “both feet in the boat” style.  It was an incredibly restful and beautiful year and maybe I’ll write about that more in depth at some point or maybe I won’t (or maybe I already did. Ha!)  The point is, WHOA, here I am.  Working several jobs again to support my creative endeavors, getting stressed out, trying to pay the bills, feeling the pressure to land roles to make ends meet, etc and so on and so forth.  I have started thinking about the “business” a lot.  What I need to do to be *successful.*  Oh, that elusive end goal. 

Thankfully, I had an opportunity to HIT THE RESET BUTTON before I got too far along that toxic road.  I sang for an agent a couple of weeks ago and, ya know, it just didn’t go very well.  At the time I was mortified but retrospectively, I’m just so grateful.  Sat down afterwards for a little chat with my voice teacher and she reminded me that this whole thing, it’s timeless.

I left my job for the love of process and learning and ART.  Because I AM an artist.  Because I truly feel like my purpose on this earth, the means by which I can most effectively make a difference, is tied to my artistry.  I do not need that to look any particular way.  I do not need *it* to happen on any particular timeline.  I do not want to tell it what to be.  I want to stand where I am and be grateful.  I want to sing.  Every day.  I want to learn.  Every day.  I want to learn new monologues and explore with new acting partners.  I want to grow as both human and artist.  This process is timeless.  There is no need to rush (unless you’re working on a character that resembles a chicken running around with her head cut off – then, by all means, RUSH).  I need to stay healthy.  I need to be good to myself so that I can keep my heart open.  

I will work hard.  I will create my own shows and explore my own loves.  I will take the steps in the “business” when the timing seems right for me.  I will not rush that.  I do not buy into the business of “You’re too late” or “You must do it this way” or “You must do it at this pace.”  Those things are all the antithesis of how I got here in the first place.

I have so much to learn.  The journey bodes well for me because I will never run out of things to learn.  I will not rush.   Have you ever wished you could reset?  You can.  It’s a choice.  I learned that last week.



Right On Time

December 27, 2014

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you’ve lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”  ― Asha Tyson

It’s never too late.  This is something that *me* has been talking to *myself* about recently.  I have to admit that I often harbor a fear – a fear that I’m behind, that I’m too late, that I’m too old for this or that.  When this fear hits me, I try to be curious about it.  I sit with it and consider all that my life has been and everything in it that has led me to now.  To RIGHT NOW.  And, I know.  I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I’m right on time.  For what?  I have no idea!

Dear Santa (a retrospective Christmas list)

December 23, 2014

Dear SantaHey, I like presents.  I’m not going to tell anyone *not* to give me a present.  That said, I’ve never been the kind of person who needs to get presents at Christmas or on my birthday.  I tend to favor the random “I was just thinking of you gift.”  DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND ME HERE.  If you would like to send me a present, DO IT. 

Moving on (feel free to send presents – I hope this is clear).  I also don’t tend to feel obligated to give presents on holidays (don’t hate me!).  BUT (it’s a big but and I cannot lie) this year, I find myself wishing I could give presents to everyone.  “Why?” I asked myself during a moment of surface level reflection while walking home from the subway.  Gratitude bubbled up as if to reply, “Because your heart is so full of the gifts *you* have been given.” If I had known to ask, my gift list for Santa last year would have looked something like this:

RETROSPECTIVE “I’ve been a very nice girl, Santa” GIFT LIST


Carnegie Hall from the Stage

I have teachers pouring themselves and their wisdom into my life on a daily basis.  Refusing to let me slide on the little things.  Insisting that I understand technique while simultaneously affirming my unique voice, my quirky artistry.  Encouraging me to let the guards down and to let people in.  Allowing my imperfections, encouraging them even.  Believing in me and what I have to offer the world.  Not giving up on me even when I have been but a breath away from giving up on myself.  These teachers have opened doors to rooms inside me that I didn’t even know existed.  I’ve been living in my creativity house as if it were a studio apartment.  Now, I understand that it is a mansion and that the exploration has only just begun.  We all live in mansions.  Open the doors.   Walk down those dark hallways.  Discover your rooftop terrace. 

TIME (as in minutes to use as I choose)

ballet slippersThis year I had time.  To practice.  To Study.  To Think.  To feel uncomfortable having time.  To feel fearful.  To tell myself not to run away from feeling fearful.  To stand on street corners and notice tall buildings.  To spend too many hours watching hulu then reflect on why that’s not a beneficial way to spend my new found time.  To walk slowly and get yelled at by other New Yorkers for doing so.  To create.  To do yoga.  To take ballet.  To hang out with friends more than once every 3 months.  To take the 2nd train because the 1st was more crowded than I prefer.  Time to BE grateful – to FEEL grateful – to SIT in gratitude – to WRITE about gratitude – to EXPRESS gratitude – to REMIND myself to be grateful.  Time to learn how to believe in dreams and purpose and miracles again.  Time is my favorite.

ROCKIN’ (around the Christmas Tree) FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Grateful to be singing - cabaretI have friends and family who believe in me.  They call me.  They stand by me.  They show up to my performances (even the long ones!).  They buy me coffee when I’m barely getting by.  They let me buy them coffee because they know I need to be able to do that once in a while.  They post on my Facebook wall and tell me I’m good at things (and I think they mean it).  They cheer me on and make me feel that this leap of faith I’ve taken is worth every single anxious moment.  They laugh at my jokes (most of them).  They move to New York for me (haha!  Ok, I just tell myself they moved for me.) They tell me I look years younger than I am (booyah!). Friendship = the best gift EVER.

WOW MOMENTS (music/dream specific)

Claudia in Nine - Photo by JT PhotographyI sang in a cabaret with some of Broadway’s finest: Jeanne Lehman-French, Fred Applegate and Sarah Rice.  I sang Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony under the baton of Maestro David Bernard (after 15 years of dreaming I’d sing it one day with an orchestra).  I began auditioning for things, all the time (overcome fear of auditions—> CHECK). I was reviewed well by the New York Times, Opera Magazine and several others for my work with dell’Arte Ensemble in The Fairy Queen then I got to play one of my favorite roles, Claudia in Nine, with CNR Drama in New Rochelle.  Most recently, I stood for the first time on the Carnegie Hall stage and sang with the Collegiate Chorale under the magnificent direction of Ted Sperling (watching him conduct was a gift in and of itself).  I write these out because I had to sit down and think about the year to realize it’s been a progressive one.  So much easier to think about all I did NOT accomplish!

STRUGGLES AND FAILURES (Please, let me fail at something, Santa)

Sick Girl VaporizerI’ve had many of these.  It’s easy to watch each other’s online lives and assume that everyone else is happier or lives with fewer struggles or is more successful/happy than ourselves.  So, I guess I just want to say that it hasn’t been easy and life is still full of difficulty.  We all have enough weight in our own lives, though, so I tend to focus my writing intentions on the glass half full side of life with the hope of inspiring. Other times I have to write to inspire myself to keep working.  I am grateful for my struggles (even though we all know they occasionally feel too big to handle).  Without them, I wouldn’t appreciate where I am and I wouldn’t have the strength I have.  The muscles tear first then they build themselves back up stronger.  And, let’s not even go into the failures.  I have more than I can count but nothing in life has taught me more than these failures.  The failure is INVALUABLE to me as both human and artist. 

Gee, thanks, Santa.  You didn’t have to give me EVERYTHING I asked for retrospectively.

I wish I could give you all a thousand gifts. 

It has been an extraordinary year. 


Ode to Failure

July 17, 2014

I failed at things today.
Meaning, I did not achieve the objectives for which I set out to achieve.
Not only once did I not achieve…
Multiple times over, I fell short of my goals.

Strangely, my close friend frustration didn’t show up this time around.
Disappointment didn’t knock down my door.
Self doubt did not rear her sinister head. 
Nope. They stood me up.
As I stood there, absent of my typical crowd, I heard a little voice bubble up from deep down inside of me.

“Hey there.” she said, all smiley and sweetly.
“Excitement? What are *you* doing here?” I asked.

Truthfully, though, I know why she’s here. I know things now that I didn’t know 5 hours ago. I actually understand why I failed. That is so exciting. And, because I failed and now understand these things, tomorrow, I will fail so much farther forward than I did today. SO EXCITING.

I don’t mind failure, today. Not one little bit.

“There is no way into acting; it’s impossible. I knew that from the beginning. It’s statistically impossible to make a living as an actor. You have to love it, and even your love for it is not going to make it happen. What is going to make it happen is luck and tenacity. I never made a living until I was 35 years old. I came out here when I was 24. But one thing I knew and recognized was that people all around me were giving up and going home. I just, quietly, never gave up.” – Harrison Ford

Pull over, Human

July 17, 2014

If, while you are visiting NYC, a woman bumps into you nearly knocking you over with her body weight and the momentum propelling it forward, it’s not because she is purposely trying to hurt you and kill all the hopes and dreams you had for your vacation. It is simply, and quite logistically, because *you* decided to stop suddenly on a very busy sidewalk to peruse your map.

Friendly advice from said woman: Next time, pull over. Think of it as a highway for walking persons.

*Special Note: You don’t get to be angry at said woman. She was WALKING. Sidewalks were built for that very purpose.

Meanwhile, in real life …

July 17, 2014

I just stared at a couple while they kissed on a corner. Yes, I did that. I did it in that weird, creepy kind of way a New Yorker is allowed to stare at other human beings because of that whole public solitude thing. It was sweet and when it was over, the guy stumbled away in a “dazed and confused, I’m the luckiest guy on the planet” kind of way. I like real life movies.