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Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Home for the Holidays

Powerful emotions are easily stirred up when you go home for the Holidays. Families are known to trigger strong feelings such as: disappointment, frustration, love, loneliness, vulnerability and anger, to name a few. No matter how old or accomplished you are, your family frustratingly sees you as little Suzy or Jimmy when you walk through the door. They hold on to the memories of who you were and have difficulty seeing who you are today. There is a great scene in the movie, “Home for the Holidays,” which depicts this time travel phenomena. Holly Hunter, a divorced, single mother, with a daughter in college, is picked up at the airport by her parents and put in the back seat of the family car as if she were 12 again. She glances over at the next car, also filled with family, and notices a handsome young man glancing disparagingly out the back window. They catch each other’s eye and acknowledge the embarrassing regression they are both experiencing. The film is packed with recognizable, toe-curling moments shared by most families. Director, Jodie Foster, seamlessly weaves a variety of emotional hues by balancing intense, complicated family dynamics with sweet, tender, loving moments. Audience members not only recognize themselves within this wacky, loving family, but more importantly, they walk away understanding that families are messy and filled with both good and bad qualities.

Just as balance is a vital ingredient to a successful film, it is also essential in creating a successful life. Balance can help you ride out difficult situations more easily, put things in perspective and leave you with some wisdom to boot. It is a valuable skill worth developing. Cirque du Soleil built a successful, awesome, multi-million dollar show based on balance. Similar to a high-wire act, life can feel as if you are juggling everything thrown at you while trying not to lose your balance and fall down. When you lose balance, you can feel lost. Knowing what makes you lose balance and finding your poise again can bring you back to home base.

Living a full life means that you must weather uncontrollable outside circumstances. You will inevitably bump into people and situations that won’t always turn out well no matter how great an effort you make. It may not be your fault, it’s just the nature of life. Sometimes a little wisdom can go a long way. When you get the starring role, know that one day it will come to an end, nothing is forever. Enjoy your good fortune while you have it. There may be an abundance of work this year and next year you find yourself struggling. Life doesn’t come with guarantees. When you learn to expect change rather than fight it or try to avoid it, you won’t be surprised when it happens. Make friends with change and you will be better prepared for it.

– Expecting and accepting change will help you flow with life’s ups and downs and keep you balanced. 

When you feel stuck in something negative, you have lost your balance. Get unstuck by stepping back and taking a distant view of things. When you have a microscopic view, it’s hard to see that there might be positive aspects of your experience. Make a point in finding them and not waiting for them to find you. What you are experiencing may not be as bad as it feels. Putting space between you and what you are going through helps you to stay out of a reactive mode. Once you are able to see the whole picture, you will be able to make informed choices based on strength and not fear.

– Remember, getting distance from your difficulty helps you find your balance.

Rather than seeing endings as loss, view them as transformations. Nothing is lost, it is just recycled. The leaf that has turned brown and falls off the tree does not end there. As it crumbles and disintegrates it becomes nourishment for the soil that feeds the tree. Stretch your perception to view endings as a necessary component to beginnings. This view makes it easier to let go when it’s needed, rather than clinging on to things unnecessarily. Focus more on the interconnectedness in life. When you hold up a piece of paper to the sky, can you see the clouds in it? Can you see the clouds which released the rain that fell to the earth and fed the trees that grew and became the pulp that made the paper you are holding in your hand? Open your heart and mind to see the transformations occurring all around you.

– When you view endings as a necessary part of beginnings it helps you find your balance. 

We need both our intellect and emotions to make good decisions. When we get lost in our emotions, it can feel as if we are drowning in them. Our thinking is needed to keep us afloat. Remembering that feelings are not facts can help us find our balance when strong emotions arise. Feelings are just a temporary state, not your total self. Bringing balanced spacious awareness to your emotions makes them more manageable. Engaging our thinking can also help us endure physical pain more easily. When you have a bad headache, all of your focus may gravitate towards the pain and it could feel as if your whole body is hurting. It can lessen the pain to know that your knee, foot and elbow are just fine.

-Remember to equalize your emotions with your thinking to help you find your balance.

Expect strong emotions to be stirred up during the holidays. Ride them out more easily by remembering that you are not powerless over yourself. How you choose to meet your challenges is completely up to you. No one can ever take that away from you. You are responsible for and in charge of your own happiness. When you feel trapped, pause and take a moment to look up at the vastness of the sky as a  reminder of all the space available to you. Remember, if you happen to lose your balance and fall down, you can always get up and start fresh again and again and again.

Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful emails expressing your gratitude for “The Conscious Actor,” articles, they have warmed my heart.

Have a Wonderful Holiday

May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you be safe and protected from inner and outer harm, and may you live a life filled with ease.

Free Tips on Handling Holiday Stress


Bonnie Katz is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice.  She understands the unique demands and challenges of the acting profession because along with her experience as a psychotherapist, she has been a part of the acting community for the past 39 years.  This unique combination enables her to have a deeper understanding of the struggles of actors. Her skills and training as a psychotherapist and mindful meditator enable her to work with clients in an atmosphere of warmth and understanding. For more information on Bonnie’s psychotherapy practice, visit her website. I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Click here for a free brochure on mindful meditation. Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.

conscious actor journal

The Conscious Actor’s Inspiration Journal; Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to express your new creative views. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop.

Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Paper Chase Press.