First of all, why do you do what you do? What’s the thing in your life that you are the most excited about? What brings you the most joy right now?
Oh, boy. Just start out of the box with a biggie. Oh God, it’s so hard to pick one! You know, it’s hard because there’s so much joy to be had.(laughs)
You can name them if you want.
Obviously the first has to be my daughter and husband. And then, being creative. And that happens in so many ways! I feel so fortunate to get paid to be an actor. I pinch myself. I get it from writing, I get it from baking, gardening…I sort of open myself to the creative flow, which is hard to do, by the way. It’s not like it’s a daily thing; I’m blocked in many ways as well. Part of my journey is sort of learning the ways that I’m unconsciously blocked and trying to open them up. I’m a complete “work in progress” in that area.
(laughing) I love that—I’m a complete work in progress!
(laughs) I would say anytime that I can get that creative flow going, it’s absolute utter joy.
Okay, so I started out with the light question. Now we’re gonna go to the heavy hitting questions.
Oh sh*t. (laughs) I love that THAT was the light one and I already took it so deep. I’m in trouble.
What is it that makes you vulnerable? As a woman, what is it that makes you deeply vulnerable?
I would say what makes me vulnerable is when I allow my mind to spiral. You know? When I start not being in the present moment and I start skipping ahead and picturing my daughter driving on the freeway on a late saturday night. She’s three, so there’s no reason for me to do this. But when I start thinking about loving something that much and how little control I have of her well being it’s terrifying. Making peace with my body, which I really love the strength of. And it’s just about in the society we live in, making peace with the aesthetic of it.
Which I work on daily, ‘cause in my mind that’s the best thing I can do for my girl, is to love my body and the way I look. That’s what I sort of decided when she was young. And so it’s sort of about faking it until you can make it. That’s a big one. I’m so aware when we’re in my closet and I’m getting dressed about being very happy and not sort of mirroring to her dissatisfaction in that area.
Yes, I’ve got to be more aware of that.
That is so huge for girls. And I would say just trust—trusting love. You know, it can be so terrifying to open yourself up to true love. That love can be with your mate, with your child, with yourself, because we are ultimately such vulnerable little creatures in this world. And really anything can happen at any time and we are very addicted to comfort. (laughs) Life is just not always comfortable.
(laughing) Nicely said! Which leads me to our next fun question: How do you deal with your pain?
Not a normal interview.
Are you kidding? It’s my favorite thing ever. How do I deal with my pain? I’d say on a good day I open myself up to it and cry, and in a bad day I’m probably not aware of it and I go to those escapisms. I probably eat too many almonds. I probably over work out. I probably zone out when I’m with my loved ones. Just probably not present.
Tell me about your journey with yoga and meditation and how that has influenced you or your practice.
Well, I hope it doesn’t sound too dramatic. It’s transforming, completely. Let’s see, it all began with yoga, definitely. I’d say when I was in my mid- to late-twenties I moved out here and there were yoga studios and I was always wanting to check it out. I’m sure more for the exercise element of it. And I used to dread going to class, but somehow something kept me going. It was about three or four years in that I started noticing that, I would always love AFTER class the way I felt, but it was really an effort to get myself onto the mat. Probably because unlike just plain exercise, which I do as well, it really makes you confront things with yourself, much more than just regular exercise does. I’m sure that’s what was so hard. But then afterwards, I would leave class and I’d felt like I had a massage and I just thought, God, nothing gives me this feeling. So after about three or four years, I actually started craving classes. You know, craving certain teachers and experiences I would have in their classes. Shiva Rea is one of my favorite teachers.
She writes for us! She’s wonderful.
It was so amazing taking classes with her…And then I started studying with this woman Tanda who teaches in Hollywood. A friend of mine took a workshop with her. She was really my first instructor in terms of sitting meditation. And I still study with Tanda. Then I discovered through my midwife, of all people, this place. Have you heard of Insight LA?
I don’t know much about it.
Okay. It’s the most amazing resource. I took my natural child birthing class through them and they really sort of helped you learn how to breathe through contractions. And it’s such an analogy to life for me. What most women live in, is fear of the next contraction, or they’re reliving the pain of the one they just had. And nature really builds in these breaks, if you can be in the present and not feel the pain and not sort of anticipate the pain to come. And it really helped me deliver naturally. It’s just such an interesting approach to pain—of sort of being in it and sitting in it. Even in the most grieving of losses, or whatever sort of pain you’re sitting in, we can bear it.
I realized when you said that it’s not always the pain, it’s the anticipation of pain that’s coming—
Exactly! If you think about it, when I’m depressed, or whatever I’m sort of obsessing on, I’m adding my own, like the Buddhists would say, “it’s the second dart.” You know, there’s the original—there’s the stubbing of the toe. You stub your toe; that happens. Okay, so you experience the pain of that, but then you’re like, Dammit, I stubbed my toe. I always stub it! I hate this table! This is always this way—f*ck everything. Then you start spiraling and start creating a whole second level of suffering that you are bringing to the table; it has nothing to do with what’s in the present moment.
And so through Insight, after I delivered, I fell in love with this place. They offer so many classes. So every Thursday night I go and have my sitting group. It’s completely donation-based.
Whether it’s yoga or meditation, how do you feel like your practice has shifted you as a woman?
I think the biggest shift has been in realizing how much more we are creating our life than we realize. That was sort of the epiphany to me. I would say before I started my practice, it felt like everything happened to me, as opposed to saying, oh, I’m not only partaking in this, but I’m actually choosing this.
You’re creating it.
Once I had this awareness, it’s not like it whitewashes everything and you’re never sad again, it gives you such an approach to handle your emotions. Then you don’t run away with them and then it doesn’t become a snowball effect where your reaction then adds to your suffering. You know what I mean?
Yeah. Maybe I need to practice some more. (laughs)
When I meditate in the morning, it really changes my day and my relationship with my day.
You’re on a hugely popular show, True Blood. What’s your favorite thing about the craft and what you do?
There’s just something about getting up, putting it out there, and getting this exchange of energy. Whether your audience is a camera lens, or live theater, or whatever it is, just putting that out there and getting it back is just an honor.
Very few people know what that’s like, to have millions of people see your art. That’s gotta be an amazing feeling to be witnessed in that way.
Yeah. That’s a great word actually, ‘cause that’s really what it is like when you’re an actor and you’re working, and people are watching what you’re doing. You’re being seen. And ultimately everyone, no matter who you are, we all at our core want to just know that we matter.
At our core, we just want to know that we matter….I am so inspired by you, and thank you for being so real.
Oh, well thank you for allowing it. You just never get asked questions like this, you have to know—trust me. This is just such a great forum. It really is.
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