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

Volunteer Journal #94 – WriteGirl

WriteGirl There was a time when female writers were discriminated against and forced to change their names to George Eliot.

Unfortunately, that time is now.  Women are still the underdog in the writing world. For example, between 2010 and 2012 in Hollywood female writers made up only 9% of the scripts (written on spec) sold.

My parents chose the name Raegan so no one would know if I was a boy or a girl on a job application.  Out-of-date anxiety?  Nope, that choice has proven monumentally important time and again in my career. My personal experience is backed up by this Princeton study that found that female playwrights are more frequently rejected especially by... wait for it... female artistic directors!

So I’m going to support any group that encourages more young women to write.

More than just a 1960s Secretary

That's why I was thrilled to stumble across WriteGirl. WriteGirl empowers young women by matching them with female writers who mentor them in creative writing.

A large cafeteria had been commandeered for the WriteGirl workshop at which I volunteered. Among the areas each girl had to visit was a college counseling section, different brainstorming/writing prompt tables, and the greatest catering table I have ever seen at any volunteering event. I signed in, got a brief tour where I met many of the fellow mentors (all impressive credential female writers) and then was sent to one of the writing prompt tables to help.

At my table the girls, all in high school, were required to look at a map of the world with highlighted pictures and pick a location.  Even if they had never visited that country they were then to write everything about that area they could imagine. i.e. What's the temperature? What does it smell like? Who's there? What do you see? What do you hear?  How do you feel being there?

The Girls Plan Their Villas in Tuscany

The girls worked with very little prompting.  When they seemed stuck I just did what my teachers had done for me - I showered them with questions and encouragement reminding them, "There is no right answer.  You are the master of this little universe you are creating, so don't be self conscious.  Just write something down."

Again. Don't be self conscious.  There is no right answer.  You are the master of your universe. Just write something down.

100% of WriteGirl graduates go to college, but more than that it's important for girls to have female mentors who have played the game, written the words, and succeeded. WriteGirl infuses young women with confidence and teaches them that their opinion matters. So, for God's sake, Lean In Ladies!

And remember, as the women of WriteGirl say at the end of every meeting:

"Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen."

 

Volunteer Journal #92 - Midnight Mission Kids Program

Drawing in Chalk Out of all the charities I've volunteered for the Midnight Mission is by far one of my favorite.  They don't make you jump through too many hoops, they just put you to work.

When I found out that they needed people to play with kids at an after school program in South Central LA I was in.  I signed up for a two hour shift after work on LAWorks and drove over to the small park next to the apartment building where the kids lived.

Showing up at any new volunteering project is like showing up for the first day of a new school.  Are they gonna like me, what are we going to play?  I'm terrible at kick ball I hope we don't do that. I hope I'm not the last one picked.

I had lots of first days at different schools growing up, but I still get nervous wondering if any kids will want to play with me.

After a little awkward standing around a young guy named "Jack" (changed to protect little 'un), who was a bit by himself as well, decided that it would be okay to play horse shoes with me. Phew.  The rest of the evening went like this:

Jack: I think I won that game of horseshoes.

Me: Agreed.

Jack: Lets jump rope.

Some of the kids drawings .

Me: Okay.

Jack: Lets draw with chalk.

Me: Awesome.

Jack: I will draw a river going down the steps.  You will draw fish.

Me: Sure.

Jack: Let's play tennis.

Me: Cool.

Jack: Can you swing higher than me?

Me: Probably not.

Jack: If I put this toy around your ankle can you jump it?

Me: Ummm...

Jack: Nevermind let's go draw some more.

Me: Cool!

More sidewalk art!

Jack and I spent the bulk of the night drawing on the sidewalk in chalk.  We were joined by the other kids and they eventuallyy worked out a drawing contest.  Little introvert Jack, much like little introvert me, was included in the group.  Though much like me he also stepped away a bit to draw by himself.

So as not to get any little ones on film I handed them my iPhone so they could take the pictures.  After a little instruction they proved to be naturals. Those are their sidewalk drawing, and Jack took the picture of me sitting cross legged on the ground on the front page.

Volunteer Journal #83 - Helping Community Theatre

Sometimes volunteering means doing hair.  Other peoples’ hair.  I barely do my own. Buddy Sara asked if I’d be interested in putting my “crazy hair modeling” experience into practice helping Santa Monica Rep with their annual fundraiser.  We’d be prepping the actors. Ah shucks… why not… I’m a playwright.  If I’m not going to help a neighborhood theatre company – who is?

As for my "crazy hair modeling" experience I was a hair model (about the same time as the body doubling happened – it’s called being a “Parts Model” and it means you’re short). I worked for brands like Aveda, Paul Mitchell and Sexy Hair in print ads, catalogs, and industry show. It was fun; I made a few bucks, and got my hair “didz”.  I have attached a picture of my hair done ultra-fancy for a wedding catalog.  Check out the cool vintage wedding dress.

The problem was that Santa Monica Rep wanted their actors to have French Restoration hair – think Marie Antoinette.  In reality, in those days, high class women and men would have always worn wigs in public.  What I knew from having this hairstyle done to me for a Sexy Hair show was that to pull this off they needed half a day and a hairdresser on each woman.  They had Sara and I – a few cans of hairspray and one hour for five actors.

I did my best.  I tried to be kinder than hairdressers of old had been to me. I took my aggressions out by teasing the hair (this generally won’t hurt a model).  Helpful hint - the secret to getting out rat’s nest teasing is to lie in a bathtub after conditioning and gentle run your fingers through your hair.

In the end... we did all right as the picture suggests.

The great thing about volunteering is often you are faced with challenges that can’t be completed in the amount of allotted time.  Then you apply Macgyverism (make an explosive out of a toilet paper roll, etc.), and Parkinson’s Law takes over ("work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"), and you get it done.

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.

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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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