Until we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge

It’s been just over a week since I had to say goodbye to my little prince, Iggy. I am amazed by how empty and difficult it’s been without his big meowing and even bigger personality. I know that time will heal the wounds until only cherished memories are left, and I’m happy to know that he is free of suffering and a body that didn’t reflect how young he was at heart and spirit. I love you, sweet pea.

Iggy’s last photo – happy and purring

(Originally posted on Facebook on August 9th, 2015)

With a broken heart and crying face, I am sad to write that after over 20 years of love and friendship, we said goodbye to Iggy today.

This morning while I was making his breakfast, he suddenly seemed very weak in the legs and started panting and meowing. He was so stoic and brave that it was hard to tell but I knew something was very wrong.

We rushed him to the vet where the diagnosis was a clot in his back right leg and possibly heart failure which was making it hard for him to breathe. He was scared and in extreme pain. They gave him a sedative and had him in an oxygen tank to help his breathing but Dr. Kurtis gently explained that with the prognosis wasn’t good even if we tried to treat the clot. I knew the right thing to do was to end his suffering and let him go. Iggy was brought in on a blanket, lying down and meowing though no sound came out. The doctor administered the anesthesia which helped Iggy relax and get sleepy. I stroked his head and told him I loved him as the barbiturates were administered and he passed away. I know he was surprised and didn’t want to go – a fighter until the end – but he was suffering so much and I hope he knows how much I love him.

I’m a leaking mess and am trying not to hold it all in but I miss you so much, Cat. I know you’re free now, Iggy, free from the body that was aging and cramping your style. May you always have fresh water from bathroom sinks to drink from, open grass to race through and plenty of milk rings to kill. May your ears hear sharply, your eyes see clearly, and your legs be strong. Everything reminds me of you: the spot on the rug you slept on to the paw prints on our wood floor to the ice cream bowl I just finished and wish I could let you lick. I’ll remember how you stole cereal milk and loved to explore – from the suburban tree nursery and ponds in Illinois to our apartment fire escape and awning in Hell’s Kitchen. The night air reminds me of buzzing summer nights in the Midwest, when I’d call you home from your adventures; my heart would skip with relief when your little face popped up between the trees at the edge of the yard and you’d sprint home. (Thank you, Cary, for reminding me of that.) I miss your wide range of meows that scared guests and your determined personality that demanded you be treated as an equal. And you were.

We belonged to each other since meeting in the car in 1995; my mom brought you home from the shelter in a box – all ears and paws and meows. You were my faithful companion from Barrington to Arizona to Chicago to New York to Cincinnati to Los Angeles. You outlasted every boyfriend (present fiancé excluded) and were the best roommate and coworker. I can’t imagine how I’m going to live without you. I don’t know how to come in the door without you meow/yelling at me for being gone. I miss petting your soft fur and the smell of your neck fur and how you fit into the crook of my left arm.

You were mine and I was yours. Thank you for picking me, my sweet bear, and bringing me so, so much joy. Be whole and free and happy. There’s no more need for fear or pain or confusion. Please be nice to other cats in heaven. My baby, you weren’t always good, but you were the best. I love you from this life into the next.

My cat Iggy, 1995 – 2015. Rest and play in peace, sweet boy.

Iggy the Orange Tabby cat. Faithful companion of love and joy from Spring 1995 - August 9th, 2015. Rest in Peace, my friend.

Iggy the Orange Tabby cat. Faithful companion of love and joy from Spring 1995 – August 9th, 2015. Rest in Peace, my friend.

By Isla Paschal Richardson, shared with me by Thom:

Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you…
I loved you so —
’twas Heaven here with you.

A smart cat that loved to snuggle in the mornings…before meowing and knocking things off the table to wake me up. He was the best kind of punk.

(About the Rainbow Bridge)

I Moved to LA!

It’s been about two months since we packed Iggy into the car and drove cross-country from NYC to LA. And I’m quite content with the decision to move. I love New York City and its nonstop energy but felt like it was time for a change. I seem to get that feeling every 3-4 years so maybe that’s a life rhythm for me. And I’ve always wanted to live in Los Angeles – for the sunshine, the big city with a suburban sense of space (aka it’s roomier here), and of course, the entertainment industry.

On set for Alpha House

Career-wise, my time in NYC was essential: being on Broadway in Chinglish, getting my first credits on network television and in major indie films, and continuing improv through UCB. I grew a LOT in New York and am proud of my work there. But as much as I was auditioning and building relationships with casting directors, it felt like time to shake things up and move on. Los Angeles is the heart of TV/film; for as many projects that shoot in New York, everything else is filmed here. Or is cast here.
(Except for theater. Even regional theater is cast out of New York. So if you want to do theater, live in New York. Or Chicago.)

But right now, I want to do more film and television, and that is mostly cast in Los Angeles, especially the bigger roles. So here I am! Ready…to almost completely start over. I transferred to CESD’s commercial department in LA – so grateful! – but I’m essentially starting from scratch as far as getting to know casting directors, directors and other industry people here. I’m a little nervous about the future and living in that space of the unknown…but I’ll never know if I don’t try, right?

Greg and me

So far, so good. We’ve unpacked (and I’ve been “nesting“), Iggy’s settled in, and I had new headshots taken with Greg Crowder this week. As advertised, the weather is incredibly mild compared to New York or Chicago (July is actually pleasant) and we’re a 10-minute walk from the trails leading up to Griffith Observatory. And the best part is that I’ve already got a community of friends here that moved from Chicago or New York where we first met and have even met some new ones! I miss my pals in NYC but know I’ll be back to visit often – like next month!

I’m excited for this new chapter in life and what lies ahead. Now to find a new theatrical agent…!

Iggy and me in Los Angeles

Work Hard, Play Harder


Over Valentine’s Day weekend, the ladies of SirenClaire, Emilea, Joanna and I – along with many other improvisers from all over traveled to Chapel Hill for the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. (Original news post) We watched shows, met and hung out with other improvisers, and performed that Saturday. We had a solid show, but…it didn’t feel like our best work. And I felt kinda wonky about it afterwards.

Later that night, I was talking to another improviser – Ben Rameaka – who had some good insight. He pointed out “you don’t go to festivals to do good shows; there are so many factors that can throw off your game – traveling, new spaces, unfamiliar audiences. You go to have a great time with your team.” And I can guarantee that Siren had a GREAT time: flying down to North Cackalacky, eating great food, dancing at the after-party, (the impromptu after-AFTER-party), staying up super late in the hotel and NOT getting a single complaint – we had so much fun! In addition to hanging out with my awesome team, I also got to know the improv community better. Lots of people from NYC were there so I hung out with old friends and met some new ones.


As the wise and beautiful Emilea put it, this trip was a vacation for us to spend time with each other AND we happened to do and see some improv. So work hard and play harder with people you love. I deeply appreciate the trip and time we spent together – we’re already talking about when our next shows, sketches, AND getaway will be. =)


Holstee Manifesto

A card with the Holstee Manifesto


Follow-up: a focus board and inspiration wall

I ended up making two things as a result of my New Year’s writing exercise: a focus board and an inspiration wall.

My Focus Board:

My focus board for 2015

What I call the focus board is just a very simplified vision board anchored by two themes for the year in the middle. The themes are surrounded by five areas to which they apply. I used pictures of places I want to be or what I want to surround myself with as the background and added a sprinkling of words and sentences around the edges as additional inspiration. I wanted to keep it super simple to make centering myself easy and quick. There are no people on this board because it’s for my life and what I imagine and make it to be. The focus board is on the wall above my desk, directly in front of me behind my open laptop.

The Inspiration Wall: 

Inspiration wall

The inspiration wall is more free-flowing – both in shape and size. It’s pretty word-free and really just has pictures of people that inspire me to create my own content and not conform to societal norms. This is where I think about other people’s journeys and how different or similiar they are from each other and mine. I expect the images to change throughout the year; I’ll add more as I discover them, perhaps covering other ones up.

Most images are of well-known actors/celebrities. (And reveal my current girl crush on Felicity Jones!) I also added a few Asian models and an actress from a movie I haven’t seen yet. Though I don’t actually know who they are, it’s important and significant to see multiple Asian faces on my inspiration wall. They help me visualize people who look like me being as popular and influential as the other people on the board. Seeing them bolsters my belief that I belong in this industry and not just marginally.


It’s been about a month and a half since the two collages went up, and so far I like having both!

One calms and centers me to the tasks at hand while the other encourages letting my imagination run wild and making bold choices, like wearing a vintage 80’s dress to a Duke alumni networking event! (See below for me and the dress in an impromptu photo shoot – shoulder pads!)

Life’s too short not to make a bold choice now and then…AND the wool dress kept me quite warm walking around the city! A win-win!From an impromptu photo shoot

Celebrate and Create – a New Year’s writing exercise

I found this step-by-step writing exercise by “actors’ advocate” Dallas Travers a few years ago and have found it to be a great way to review the past year and organize my thoughts looking forward. Unfortunately her site is under construction right now, so I had to find a cached version…and figured I’d post it here with my own tweaks for YOU to check out – and also for me to find it more easily next year! And you don’t have to wait for New Year’s – any milestone like a birthday or life change or just because you feel like it will do.

This is my variation on Dallas’ classic “recipe” where I’ve adapted her words to my needs. Have fun!

proceed as if success is inevitable

Celebrate 2014. Create 2015.

This exercise allows you to take stock of the year behind you and acknowledge all the amazing things you accomplished. It will also help you to kick start the new year with excitement and vision.

Sit back, relax and get ready to Celebrate + Create!


Make yourself comfortable. Play some music you love, grab some yummy food or cup of tea, light your favorite candle. With a notebook, pen, and google calendar (or whatever you use!), begin your Year 2014 Reflection.


With your calendar handy, review the past year and consider what you are most proud of in each of the following areas of your life:
– Career
– Health
– Personal Relationships (family & friends)
– Professional Relationships
– Confidence
– Business Approach (marketing tools or mentality)
– Finances
– Craft & Creativity
– Personal Growth (investments you made in yourself)
– Spirituality
– and of course, Fun or Play (like traveling!)

These are geared towards actors so feel free to add your own categories or leave off ones that don’t really apply.


Identify 3 primary intentions or beliefs that guided you in this year. Perhaps you notice certain values or priorities that popped up consistently throughout the year.

You don’t have to get really deep; just write whatever comes to mind. I jotted down
   1. Make the most of every opportunity, even alone.
   2. A little is better than nothing.
   3. Don’t worry; you’re already on the right track.
It only has to make sense to you.


Now look back and consider what didn’t work as well as you had hoped.

Buddha's 3 things that matterWith compassion, consider the unrealized expectations, unexpected circumstances or interruptions, challenges, upsets or losses, doors opened and doors closed.

After making a list of what didn’t turn out as you’d wanted, ask what was learned or even gained from going down an unplanned path. Note which were finite moments that have passed and which are ongoing opportunities.


Consider what, if anything, you feel incomplete about. What actions can you take to tie up any loose ends?


Finally, create a year-end ritual. How can you celebrate the challenges you moved through and success you enjoyed? How can you make a renewed commitment to yourself for the coming year?
cat sun

The year-end ritual can be a little break from the exercise. Have an impromptu dance party or hug it out, light another candle or burn some sage, have a snack or glass of wine, or all of the above.

Take a deep breath in thanking the year that’s gone by and then out to welcome the year to come!


What are you looking forward to in 2015? What 1 to 3 specific goals would you like to accomplish by the end of next year? Dream specifically!

You may or may not actually accomplish these goals in a year, but I find that even the process of formulating what I’d LIKE to accomplish stretches my imagination, strengthens my hope in good things to come AND makes me smile.


What improvements or changes in lifestyle or mental attitude do you anticipate or hope for in the next year? (Step 6 was about specific goals whereas Step 7 is more about ongoing changes or systems, like nurturing your professional network or learning a foreign language.)

How would you like to create these changes in your life? Who might be able to help you succeed at these changes?


Of the life and career goals or intentions you have for 2015, what are you building on or recommitting to from the past year? What’s new? What resources do you bring from 2015? What resources will you cultivate?

Also note and appreciate how much you’ve already created or done!


Which people do you wish to build stronger relationships with? Who would you like to attract into your life? How will your relationships (personal and professional) blossom in 2015?
Anne Frank HowWonderful - sq

Make a list of at least 10 people you wish to build stronger relationships with. You may already know who they are. You may not.

I like to quickly brainstorm lots of people and then go back and revise my list to get more specific, especially regarding the people I want to connect with!


What principle or action will you give up so that you can experience a fuller life?
– Dallas’ example: “I give up being late. I will be early or on time. I have more than enough time to take care of myself and all that is important and meaningful to me.”
– Me this year: “I give up dragging ass. I have enough time and energy to anchor myself AND explore new things. I give up on being late and having bad days.”


How do you want to experience 2015 – what color, taste, texture, smell, and sound does it have? What images come to mind when you picture the coming year? If 2015 had a theme song, what would it be?


With those images in mind, create a vision board to represent all that 2015 holds for you – a physical representation of your life vision. Vision boards allow you to use your artistic skills and creativity and play with the physical picture of your future. They’re a lot of fun to make and an effective way to supplement your actions with internal focus.

My 2013 Vision Board

Here’s a collage-based vision board I made with Dallas’ instructions for 2013. It took a surprisingly long time to make, so this year I might just write out my vision ideas on a big sheet of paper.

Having a clear understanding of my intentions and new systems for 2015 is the most valuable part of this exercise for me. But we’ll see; I might get crafty January 1st!

I hope you enjoyed doing this exercise and would love to hear your thoughts or see pictures of your vision boards in the comments section! Happy New Year!

You can be good - Steinbeck

Dukies in the Arts

Wow, it’s been quite a while since I last blogged but I’m inspired after being a Duke NY panelist tonight for current students and recent alums interested in careers in the Arts. I got to think back to when I was an engineering student who gave up on the pre-med dream but hadn’t yet found my way into the arts. There was nervous energy in the room tonight from the students who want to find jobs but aren’t sure how or exactly what they want to do yet. And that’s OK. Seriously.

The hardest part about graduating into the working world is transitioning from being handed classes and assignments with specific objectives and guidelines to…not having that. Instead of being told what to do, you have to figure out what you want to do, figure out how you’re going to do it, AND be financially viable. Life becomes way more nebulous after you leave school.

A recurring theme from the evening is that it’s a process…which often takes a lot more time and patience than ambitious young Dukies expect. The most you can often do is get a little closer to what you think you’re interested in…and see how it goes. Hopefully, you’ll find guidance and support in friends and mentors – alum or not! – along the way.

After the students all went around and listed their dream jobs (or passed if they didn’t know yet), we discovered that the panelists also still have dream jobs they’re working towards. I felt very fortunate to realize…that I think I’m IN mine:  an actress with a very flexible and financially sufficient engineering “support” job. What more could I ask for? Well, besides starring in an action drama like Maggie Q as a Chinese pirate queen OR being in either Quentin Tarantino’s or Baz Lurhmann’s next movie IN ANY CAPACITY AT ALL. I’d also be very happy doing comedy like fellow Duke grads Retta and Ken Jeong. Hey, being in your dream job doesn’t mean you can’t still have aspirations!


I left the event with a renewed excitement to create, to “make new,” whether in other people’s gigs or my own, like my Bennett Cerf jokes channel! It’s for fun and really for me and my friends to enjoy, but I hope others get a kick out of ’em too! (And I’ve gotten pretty good at doing the Ken Burns effect in iMovie because of it!)

Bennett Cerf Channel

Final Dress

Tonight is our final dress for 4000 Miles. We’ll have a small audience of about 50-60 people and photos/video taken for publicity. I’m so excited. And nervous. And sad that the rehearsal process is coming to an end.

Acting is transient. Life is transient. And I’m trying to soak it all in at once. I wish I could bottle up this moment of being on the edge of revealing our work – it’s so sweet and piercing – but I can’t. I can only enjoy it right now. I suppose that’s all one can do at any point in life. Two and a half hours until places are called for the top of the show.

It’s late afternoon and the sun is still bright on the white snow. It’s beautiful and fleeting but I won’t be afraid of time moving forward. I am open. I am ready. I am here.


Peruvian lilies in Cincy

Peruvian lilies in Cincy


Life in Cincinnati

Okay, kids, we’re going into tech for 4000 Miles. Tech is the part of the rehearsal process after we’ve blocked and rehearsed the scenes and add all of the technical aspects of the show: the lights, sound cues and music, costumes (with quick-changes!), props, and of course, the set, which is the Greenwich Village apartment of a 91-year-old. And there’s the “skype” scene with LIVE internet communication! Pretty sweet, right? I actually haven’t been in yet since I’m not in the first half of the show, but I am so excited! I had a fitting yesterday and…I will definitely win for the number of accessories. I might get some colorful hair extensions for myself after seeing what my character Amanda gets to wear!

But first, I want to tell you about Cincinnati and how the first month (of two) has been for me! Basically, everything is great – the people, the show, and the lovely Queen City! I had some FOMO (fear of missing out) about leaving New York, potential gigs, and my community there, but it’s been really nice to have this time for myself. And my roommate Iggy, who only pooped twice in his carrier on the way over.

CLYBOURNE PARK's Michael Place with cast members from 4000 MILES: Robbie, Adina, & me

CLYBOURNE PARK‘s Michael Place with cast members from 4000 MILES: Robbie, Adina, & me

I really love everyone I’m working with from the Playhouse staff and interns to guest artists, like the designers and my supercool cast mates Robbie, Adina, and the amazing Rosemary, who has her own wikipedia page! I really enjoy getting to know new people on a rather personal level in a short amount of time, especially when they are as good people as this bunch! We’ve been hanging out by watching award shows and movies, making grocery runs and trips to the gym. And we’re all from New York City, so we can hang out back in NYC too!

The show, aka rehearsal, is going super well. I’ve missed exploring and really digging into scenes, and our director Blake (also the Artistic Director of Cincy Playhouse) is so awesome to work with. I’d do it again any day! We were actually kind of ahead of schedule in the rehearsal process because Robbie and Rosemary (who have the most lines) were basically off-book (memorized) as soon as we got up on our feet. That definitely made me get the pages for my two little scenes out of my hands as soon as possible! Everyone being off-book so early allowed a lot more time to play around which is such a luxury. And I’m still discovering new stuff about my characters and moments – that’s the really great thing about being in a play (vs. putting something on film): you get more chances to do the scene over a much longer period of time.

As far as being away from New York, it’s been relaxing and rather productive! Since I don’t know many people or places to go, I have less distractions (except for HGTV – I LOVE the Property Brothers) and have been able to schedule engineering work and regular exercise more easily. I’m also eating better and buying more groceries instead of eating out. Baked sweet potatoes with a little spicy brown mustard and plain greek yogurt with a spoon of blueberry preserves and cinnamon are my new favorites! The actor housing here is really nice; I’m in a spacious 1-bedroom apartment on Elsinore Place (check out the theatrical history of Elsinore Arch down the street!) and I love having this much room without all of my distracting stuff. I’ve learned how much I can live without being here and see a major de-cluttering project when I get back to NYC.

My dad was also sweet enough to bring my car down so I have the mobility to explore the city! Cincinnati is very hilly and has a lot of really beautiful houses and buildings here. They’re functional with elegant design elements, and you can tell they were built to last. (And they need to in order to survive these winters! There has been so much snow!) One of my favorite things about exploring has been the food – there’s a LOT of good food here, like barbecue ribs and Graeter’s ice cream sundaes. Good thing I eat at home a lot otherwise! And I really like thinking about what it’d be like to live here more permanently. I’ve met a few new friends through OTRimprov’s monthly open jam and have also reconnected with some old friends who live in the area. I love it and can only expect that to happen more when the show opens and more people check it out!

And in case you need tickets: Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles at Cincy Playhouse!

Good Earth Tea giving good advice

Advice from Good Earth Tea

Goals, Systems and Me

I’ve been thinking a lot about new year resolutions, goals and forming new habits in 2014 (it IS still January, after all!) and have been thinking about two seemingly conflicting resources:

– An article by James Clear about throwing out goals and just focusing on executing systems, and

– Dallas Travers’ actor’s business blueprint program which starts with a very specific acting goal and breaking down the steps until you get there.

Upon further inspection, I think these two resources are saying the same thing – break down a really big goal (like being a series regular on a TV show) into smaller, more manageable steps. (Typing this sentence reminds me that I already wrote a post about this.)


Last year’s vision board

So why do I feel uninspired to start? Perhaps it’s last year’s vision board with all of the goals that I wrote down and aspired to achieve but didn’t. Or DID achieve while somehow still feeling unsatisfied. Yup, I think that’s it. What went wrong? I think I picked sort of arbitrary goals instead of what really resonates with me. Then once I had those nebulous goals, I didn’t put much thought into the process that would lead to achieving them.

As James Clear points out in his article, it’s way better to

Commit to a process, not a goal. – Yeah….I sort of stopped thinking about how I was going to get to my goals beyond Step 1. I thought it was enough to have goals instead of being present and mindful where I was. 

– Release the need for immediate results. – Check! I am impatient and got frustrated when I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. 

– Build feedback loops. – Definitely did not do this. Perhaps if I had, I’d recognize when I’d made progress (and be inspired to continue) or realize if I felt like I was stalling and make an adjustment in my process. 

I’m in a big feedback session right now – maybe beginnings and ends are good for that sort of thing. And I think my goals/systems can be grouped into three general areas: acting goals, health, and the people in my life.

As far as what my acting goals actually are…I’m going to release the need for immediate results and maybe think of some smaller projects to work on first. Dallas’ business blueprint will have to wait until I know what big goal to work towards – TV? Film? My own work? Not sure yet. And that’s cool.

I do know that I want to make being physically fit and active a permanent part of my life. It’s been a little touch and go, as evidenced by a slight “Christmas belly” but I’m back on track with exercising and eating nourishing foods. This year, I’d also like to move away from valuing my appearance and discovering how strong and capable my body is. I’m getting a little tired of not liking the way that I look or wishing that my body were different in this way or that.

And the last, but definitely not least, area I’d like to focus on this year is my community: my family and friends. Traveling to Taiwan last year to see my extended family and spending quality time with my friends and family in America gave me the best memories of 2013. And I want that to be a life-long focus. I’m not sure what system would work best for that…maybe I’ll start a contact spreadsheet to keep track of when I last connected with specific people so I know when too much time has gone by without a proper chat. And have a list of people with whom I’ve lost contact but want to reconnect.

Lots of ideas. Lots of new systems. Lots of feedback and adjustments, too.

Thank goodness I released the need for any immediate results already!

On to new beginnings and adventures!

Oh, and Happy Chinese New Year!!! Welcome the Year of the Horse!!!