Live More Own Less

Just writing I have set myself a new challenge this year - Live More, Own Less.

Simply, by the end of this year I want, at least, 1/3 fewer physical possessions than I have right now.

Why?

I want more freedom and mobility.  I want to be able to pick up and move at a moments notice.   I want to focus more on accomplishments and less on possessions.

Sometimes, (particularly if I’m looking through tabloids in the grocery checkout line) I think I may be one of the only people in the world who thinks walk-in closets, McMansions, and multi-car garages are grossly excessive. Bigger does not mean better.

Benefit of cleaning out stuff - finding a pic like this.

In the name of environmental activism and rational thought, I have declared a war on stuff. I am kicking materialism squarely in the nutz. I would rather be out in the world, experiencing it than trying to own it.

To meet my stripped down life goal I am giving away, or recycling one box of former belongings every week.  So far I’ve given away an estimated ¼ of my possessions - well ahead of target!  Goodwill has received most of the items because they also recycle textiles if they can't use them.

And here’s the really cool side effect– it feels great!

The more I’ve given away.  The better I’ve felt.  More liberated.  It’s become almost addictive. My tiny apartment looks better too.

That beautiful dress has a new home

I’m also consuming less because a) I loath shopping b) I’m thinking about every single item I bring into my apartment. I only buy what I absolutely need and concentrate on quality. If it won’t last forever, then I don’t want it.

If you’d like to try the same experience I recommend starting with formal attire.  Purge your life of formality. All of mine is gone! I don’t care how sentimental  it seemed – I have pictures.

I found a group called Working Wardrobes, which provides clothing for people seeking jobs, but also helps girls in need find dresses for formal occasions like prom and homecoming.  Working Wardrobes got all my dresses. Including the one and only pageant dress I ever owned. Some of the dresses were great, some I would rather forget (pageant dress), but now all will find new homes.

What have I done with my extra freedom?

IMG_0655

I have some incredible plans before the end of the year, but for right now I’ve: written a full length play, gone to museums to see the Endeavor Spacecraft and an exhibit of original photography from Queen Victoria’s reign, found Monarch butterflies and snakes in my neighborhood, seen the desert bloom after the rain, played with new baby niece while teaching other niece archery, etc.. All fun.

Can you name the museum?

Next Live More Own Less Project:

I have to find a new home for my old mountain bike, perhaps with a kids non-profit, but it needs to be refurbished.

 

My Interview with The Penmen Review on Playwriting

Thoughtful headshot The Penmen Profile: SNHU Chats with Award-winning Playwright Raegan Payne

(Originally published November 7th on The Penmen Review)

by Pamme Boutselis

An award-winning, published playwright, Raegan Payne’s work is regularly in production. She is also an actress and strident volunteer. Her efforts in volunteerism are chronicled in her nationally recognized blog, The Good Muse.

Have you always written? There’s a picture of me trying to type when I was one. I always kept a journal.  When I was in elementary school I would write plays for my brothers and cousins to perform, but I was a horrible producer so the productions weren’t very good.

What’s your process in developing your storyline and characters? I believe a well-rounded character is the cornerstone to good writing.  You can watch a wonderful character do any boring activity for hours and it’s fascinating.  I do detailed character sketches and try to get to know each character inside and out before I get started.  I definitely stress more about a character having an arc than fitting them awkwardly into a certain act structure.

What challenges do you face in your writing, and how do you overcome them? I can’t spell, so thank god for spellcheck.

I’m also a slow typist.

I get self-conscious like anyone.  I force myself to write a page a day.  I also always work on several projects at once, so I don’t get locked with one and stop altogether.

What has the road to publication been like for you? I had one of those Hollywood stories, literally.  I couldn’t afford to produce a full production of my plays so I started entering them in contests. I started “winning” to quote Charlie Sheen.

The Hollywood Fringe festival was approaching, and some people knew I was winning awards, so we all scraped a few hundred dollars together to put the plays up.  The plays attracted some big actors, and they sold out.

One night after the show someone walked up to me and asked, “Are these published?”  I said, “No not yet.” And they responded, “I think my publisher would be interested.”

Cliché ending—And the rest is history.

How do you market your work? My blog, The Good Muse, has helped a lot even though it is a work unto itself and not related to the plays.  I think TGM was important because it’s an open portfolio of work.

As far as plays—I enter playwriting contests.  And I win some. That helps.

I also have tons of people read my work to give me notes—this not only makes the work better, but it spreads the word about my new projects.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? You’ll never, ever, ever be perfect.  Don’t even try.  Just put stuff into the world and see if it flops.  You’ll learn more from mistakes than successes.

Who are the writers that have inspired you most, and how have they inspired you? I love Christopher Moore’s funny sci-fi-ish novels and Chris Durang’s plays because of their madcap and yet real characters.  Tina Fey for being a groundbreaking female comedian who proves that women are funny. Jane Austen for her wit and candid observation. Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde for setting the bar so high.

If you keep just three books in your library, which would you choose and why? This is the hardest question. Right this minute I’d say:

  • “Pride and Prejudice” because I would need a good love story and it’s funny.
  • The complete works of Shakespeare because I could spend the rest of the days studying his sonnets and plays and learn something new everyday.
  • “Sacre Bleu” by Christopher Moore, because it’s ridiculous, hilarious and everyone needs a good muse or a book about a muse.

- See more at: http://penmenreview.com/spotlight/the-penmen-profile-snhu-chats-with-award-winning-playwright-raegan-payne/#sthash.ymAH2jSq.dpuf

My Interview with "Creating Story" about Playwriting

Outtakes Ladies Home Journal Photo Shoot Theater, especially black box, is most often an intimate experience, both for the audience and for the actor. Award-winning playwright Raegan Payne talks about her playwriting and what attracts her to this kind of storytelling.

A Poor Man’s Art Form

“I like being forced to tell a story with just dialogue and almost no resources,” says Payne. “It’s a poor man’s art form, anyone can do it, that’s what I love. Inversely, it should also be accessible for the poor to see and often times it isn’t.

“Also, theatre has an immediacy as well as intimacy that can be missing in other art forms. And the audience influences the work – actors hear their response to their performance and that... Read Rest of Interview Here on Bob Gillen's Wonderful Blog "Creating Story"

UPDATE! Volunteer Journal #72 – The NOH8 Pic is Here

Thanks to the wonderful Adam Bouska I finally got my NoH8 Campaign picture.  Super Cool!  Especially considering that the man probably takes hundreds of people's pictures a day.

Cheers to a really inventive charity and a fabulous campaign to bring equality to all!

To do your own NOH8 photo visit the website and check out a photo shoot in your area.  It's well worth the time and effort.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation by TheGoodMuse

For the kiddies starting back to school.

I didn’t do anything really major this summer. Nothing really.  Just went to Alaska to see my plays done in Valdez.  Then produced “The Reaper,” “Things Unsaid,” and “Sweet Nothings” with a star studded cast in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.  I worked with legendary actors Robert Pine, Peter Jason, Jane Heitz, and April Shawhan and soon to be legendary Scott Bloom, Catero Colbert, Nick Giordano, Taylor Treadwell, Dana Daurey, and Shay Astar.  I even had a Special Musical Guest Trey Green play with Jon Sosin! (Trey did owe me since I got practically naked in his music video, but I digress.) And then I…

GOT PUBLISHED!!!

Excitement abounds. Am crazy real playwright now like Wilde, Moliere, Williams, and, dare I say it, Shakespeare. Except… I’m alive! Completely [happy sigh]. Sorry, I was discussing? Oh yes…

I also mean this to be an apology of sorts because I totally dropped the muse ball. Now that it’s fall I’m back on it and plan to work with the Trevor Project, Pablove, Heaven on Earth Society for Animals, and I’m doing a freakin polar bear jump within the year. Promise.

I would also like to say that I’m switching the mission of TheGoodMuse just a bit.  Instead of just looking for different kinds of groups to support (i.e. KidSave, TreePeople, FoodForward) I will now be working with groups who maybe have the same mission as another just different styles (Heavenly Creatures/Lange Foundation or Surfrider/Heal the Bay).

So send on your suggestions. Let’s see what ya got.

Greening the Film Industry

Last week an unbelievably complex movie set rose out of what use to be the Ballona Wetlands in Los Angeles, CA. The production team of Transformers 3 built one floor of an office building. Utilizing cranes and huge hydraulics they tilted and lifted the floor at odd angles.  As the sun set huge lights illuminated the fake floor replicating daylight and casting eerie shadows on the surrounding hillside.  All in all it was a feat of engineering awesome to behold. Unfortunately, its environmental impact was equal in scale. The entertainment industry sucks up electricity - from building temporary sets, to the water bottles and soda cans at the catering tables it all adds up to a carbon footprint comparable to the textile industry. Realizing that greening up production could save money in a tight economy many... Read Full Article

Outtakes from the Reader's Digest Photoshoot

I was lucky enough to be paired with a Vanity Fair/Rolling Stones photographer "Robert" for the Reader's Digest shoot. Like me, he was a little skeptical about us pulling off the Reader’s Digest photo – he was best known for crucifying Farrah Fawcett on Hollywood Blvd with Saran Wrap and I, never having worn a scarf or a pearl choker, am more known for knee high black boots, jeans, and snarky attitude. Fast forward to this, somewhat, brilliant idea of doing a boring normal shoot and then a more fun pin up type shoot as a salute to my grandfather who served in WWII (and truth be told loved him a good pinup – though that’s creepy that I was going to duplicate that but…never mind). Robert claimed that we had to push it really far to get Reader’s to accept a somewhat normal pin up shot.  I’ve included the “push it really far” pics which were certainly not going to make the Reader’s publication, but it would have made the magazine a hell of a lot more fun if they had. I've included my internal commentary under each photo because I can't shut up.

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Volunteer Journal #58 – The Midnight Mission

I lived in a loft above Skid Row when I first moved to LA. I always say it was a green loft because the building housed an electric company before me; the heater didn’t work so it was very energy efficient, and I was so poor I couldn’t buy anything new. But I was comfortable compared to my homeless neighbors who I watched mill about on the street below… One night the temperature dropped to freezing, a rare occurrence in LA, and I saw paramedics pull a frozen homeless man from a phone booth.  They peeled his fingers off the phone one by one. I still wonder about him – what was his name, how did he end up there, and if I had seen him before his demise would I have helped. I wonder whom he had called or wanted to call and what he wanted to say.

I also think of the woman who, every morning, would pull on a uniform and get ready for work in and around her 4x5 tent. More than one person got ready for work in a hovel on that street – the reality of being one of the working poor in America.

Living in a half way decent place, in a bad location, and struggling for grocery money I did not even consider going 2000+ miles back to the place of my birth for Thanksgiving.  Instead, I decided to volunteer at the Midnight Mission, which was only one block down the street. I thought this was a particularly good idea because I was so close to being in the serving line myself - best to scope out things ahead of time. I asked a friend to join me, because I was too intimidated to go alone. Their response…

“No, I don’t think so. I mean, they might want to talk to me. I don’t know what to say. That could be awkward.  It ‘s just going to be sad and dirty. Let’s not.”

I was cowed and nervous so I didn’t volunteer, which made me start thinking… How many people don’t volunteer because they’re scared or have the wrong impression like my friend? What if I volunteered and wrote about it to show people what its really like?

And thus TheGoodMuse was born.

Ironically, 57 volunteer adventures later I still hadn’t returned to Skid Row to help out.  Maybe it was all a little too real or raw.  Whatever the reason I was happy when the Reader’s Digest article published and I got a personal invite to volunteer from Mai Lee, Community Relations Manager, at the Midnight Mission.

The Midnight Mission’s goal is to offer a bridge to self-sufficiency for homeless people through counseling, education, training and job placement. They also offer all the necessities of life to the homeless of Skid Row: food, shelter, clothing, personal hygiene and medical care. They do all this and much more without a dime of funding from the federal government. And although the title “Mission” would imply religious affiliation there is absolutely no sermonizing for services.

The Mission itself is an intimidating new structure of glass and steel.  Mai Lee met me in the lobby.  Tiny, energetic and smiling she said, “I don’t do an orientation for anybody.  I make it as easy to volunteer as possible.  Let’s put you to work.” She gave me a “I Love The Midnight Mission” apron as a gift and then threw me into the industrial sized kitchen to work. (P.S. Mai Lee – I’m a stress baker and I did not have an apron!  Do you know how many shirts I’ve stained? I love it. Thank you.)

I started wrapping silverware for the hundreds we would serve at lunch. Then I was put on the serving line. My job was scooping asparagus. Very glamorous. I worked alongside a wonderful drag queen named Chris who joked with the people coming down the line. Chris lived in one of the many rat-infested apartments that dot Skid Row and when she recognized a friend or acquaintance she would cackle, “Girl, get over here and get some salad! You be needing it!” At the end of lunch she told me she might come back once a week in the afternoon to volunteer because it gave her something to do.  I had moved from the serving line to chopping Romaine hearts when I was stolen from the kitchen and moved to the education section of the complex.

In a pristine classroom I was introduced to the teacher “G Money” who was prepping a room full of adults for their GED tests.  Everybody was bent low over workbooks, which looked like… math books… Eeeekkkk Math Workbooks!  I wanted to climb the wall and hang from the ceiling hissing like a vampire who’s seen a cross.  Unpleasant.  Math is so unpleasant and if anything I needed to take a workbook, sit at a desk, and have someone teach me.  As it turned out I think I helped a number of students to wrong answers.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to do long equations or multiply/divide fractions. I have a calculator on my phone, which I kept busting out as the students whispered, “That’s cheating!”  “I know,” I would say, “I’m just checking the answer.”  Nope not checking the answer, getting the answer, but why argue over semantics.

It’s fortunate that I met William.  Hunched over a small storybook on one side of the room William, 40 something, was working on reading comprehension. William became my focus, which spared the math students. I sat down next to him and said, “Hey what are we working on?”  He had just read a short story and now was struggling to answer the corresponding study questions. “Cool,” I said, “read it to me.” He started to read and immediately the problem became clear.  As a new reader Will read the words so slowly that they no longer made sense in a phrase. I applied a little acting.  After he read a line I would say, “Okay, how would you say that?” He would repeat the line back to me at a normal speed.  If another character showed up in the story I took their dialogue and showed him how the sentence would sound in real life.  From afar I’m sure we looked like we were goofing off, but William started to plow through the questions. I can’t tell you how great it felt watching William speed up and start enjoying the story.  It was one of my greatest volunteer moments - no doubt.

I’ve been poor and lived at poverty level a couple of times in my life. It’s almost impossible to dig yourself out without help.  And it’s almost impossible to find help that’s not condescending or doesn’t require some kind of soul trade. The Midnight Mission offers schooling, temporary housing, counseling and medical services, a library, a barbershop, but most importantly it treats people with dignity.

Philippe Cousteau gets Feisty about Fossil Fuels

The same day BP finally threw a cap over their spewing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico (which is expected to be as effective as celebrity rehab) the non-profitArtists & Athletes Alliance held a private discussion with Philippe Cousteau about the epic Gulf disaster.  Event attendees, like Jorga Fox Alyssa Milano ,Stephen Baldwin and Jason Marz , were treated to Cousteau’s inside information about the spill and it’s consequences, and got a rare glimpse of his feisty Irish side when discussing BP, the government, and our dependence on fossil fuels. Frustrated with the media’s  B-level response to the BP oil spill, Cousteau decided it was time for...Read Full Article on Celsias

Diatribe Against A Leather Couch

200552612-001Attention Bachelors: Stop Buying Leather Couches! Actually check that. I’m talking to anyone who purchases leather furniture. Put your VHS tape of “Coming to America” away, and let’s talk about why leather couches are the most unpleasant piece of furniture that can be purchased. 1. Is your furniture cold or is it just you? One feature of leather that isn’t discussed often on the sales room floor is it’s uncanny ability to absorb and magnify the temperature of the surrounding room. This temperature issue is particularly grating as any man with an air conditioning unit in his apartment or house will jack it down to 60 degrees (I can almost guarantee this. How they expect to get a woman naked in a polar environment can be saved for another discussion, but perhaps they are thinking to apply the “Can I warm you up?” technique. I digress. )

Since his apartment/house is guaranteed to be 60 degrees you can bet your frozen bottom that his premium Italian leather couch will feel like...Read full article on Celsias