Well-Being//

With My Directorial Debut Just Days Away, Here’s How I Am Staying Calm

Years before my movie Lez Bomb came out, I was on a ship that nearly capsized. That taught me that without big waves, we lose the opportunity to test our courage and rise to the challenge.

My directorial debut, LEZ BOMB, releases this Friday, November 9th, in theaters and On Demand. Eight years in the making, it’s been one hell of a ride. This process has had its ups, downs, and everything in between. Recently, a friend gave me the advice to see it all as waves. You can’t hold too tightly to the big or small waves. They continuously come, always fluctuating. You have to weather the calm and the storm with equanimity, because they’re both passing moments in time.

Wave and storm analogies have always had a special place in my heart. In 2005, I was on a ship that near capsized. “Women and Children, calmly and slowly make your way to the muster station.” We were hit with a 50-foot rogue wave in the middle of a storm in the North Pacific. My mind jumped to Titanic. When I looked out the stormy windows and saw 40-foot swells, powerful winds, and freezing water, it was clear there was no way to evacuate. I was assigned to a guy named Brian who was significantly shorter, yet was supposed to hold me for support as the ship violently rocked back and forth. Five degrees from capsizing and staring at my mortality was nothing like Titanic. I felt no love or romance. And I was going to die without coming out of the closet. A lesbian caught between the clutches of Brian’s legs while he held on to the railing behind us. I wasted years holding on to a secret that no longer seemed important. In that moment, all I could do was laugh.

Perhaps that’s when I fell in love with comedy in challenging situations. People love this ship story. “Wave Day,” as we called it on Semester at Sea. It happened on the International Date line, making it a day that didn’t technically exist on the calendar, yet was one of the most formative days of my life.

I wish I could say that once we were safe I ran through the halls, telling everyone I was madly in love with my friend, but I did not. I was too busy jumping out of planes and recklessly processing before I returned to the whole sexuality thing.

A year out of college, I found my yoga practice. It forced me to sit with myself versus darting back and forth between distractions. I started to write the first draft of Lez Bomb. At that time, it was dramatic and angsty. I’m grateful it took six years from that point to actually make the film. It allowed the time and distance to look back on those emotions through a comedic lens, and with the initial drafts, I slowly came out to more and more people — most importantly myself. Through my practice, I learned to surrender to reality and let go of past expectations.

Returning to a mat often, with repetition, allows the body the opportunity to take shape and hold a posture, experiencing a particular form within a moment. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. But you learn to sit with the discomfort, and pierce through it, riding the waves, both big and small.

2.5 years ago, I was in a class where the teacher asked us to attempt a handstand on blocks. My impulse said,  “no.” I didn’t want to fail in front of people. My mind went to Lez Bomb. I had spent six years trying to attach a star and director, with no money and no luck. I hit a wall of fatigue and knew I had to do it myself. But I didn’t want to fail in front of people! In that moment, I knew I had to do it. Within the confines of my mat I made the decision.

Sometimes it’s a big storm, a giant wave, and an encounter with mortality that leads you to yourself. Sometimes it’s coming out. Sometimes it’s handstands. It’s whatever it is that gives you courage to lean into your authenticity.

In retrospect, I could have saved a hell of a lot of time attempting a handstand on that ship, coming out upside down, while rocking back and forth. But, had that been the case, I never would have had the opportunity to experience and process the journey in between. It really is the journey and not the destination in both life and storytelling. A story would not have an arc if the hero wasn’t given obstacles to overcome. Without big waves, we’d lose the opportunity to test our courage and rise to the challenge, becoming the hero of our own story, with faith in calm waters ahead.

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- MARCUS AURELIUS

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