Grief — it’s a bitch.
Whether you’re mourning a person, a pet, or a dream, they all require the same amount of processing. I’m not saying mourning the death of my father was the same as losing my job, but I did have to give myself the same love an attention to heal.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming to be an expert on loss. All I can say is be gentle with yourself and feel into the pain. When my dad and sister died, I did a lot of masking the pain only to have it come back up over and over again. For me, that pain has never fully gone away, but with some proper processing, it is getting easier.
Today we’re talking bout a different kind of loss – artistic loss. It seems like it should be easy to brush off a bad audition, or a job that suddenly ends. But it’s not. The truth is, we need to nurture ourselves in the same way we would if we just lost our fur baby. This may sound indulgent but it’s not. Processing a loss is what makes space for healing, growth, and action.
I’ve previously mentioned the book the Artist’s Way. It’s been monumental for me in identifying and removing creative blocks in my life.
A few years ago, I suffered one of the biggest blows to my career – and ego – when I was suddenly replaced on Dating Naked.
I had been the host for 2 seasons, and had a contract for a third. We were gearing up to shoot season 3 (in Bora Bora of all places! 😭) and about two weeks out, I started to get a bad feeling when I still didn’t have a travel itinerary. I called my manger. She did some investigating and found out VH1 hadn’t picked up my option yet.
This was a shock because I didn’t know that was, well, an option! Turns out, contracts protect the production, not the artist. Good to know. To make a bad situation worse, my agents knew this was happening and chose not to tell me so that I wouldn’t become alarmed. They thought it would all blow over.
I was furious – and embarrassed – for being so out of the loop. What if one of my friends auditioned for my job? The hosting world is small and I didn’t think it was cool to find out my job was in jeopardy that way.
Well, it did not blow over. VH1 decided to go another direction and I was replaced. This hurt. I started thinking all kinds of negative thoughts about myself. I was no good. I screwed up. I wasn’t talented. I’d never work again.
I needed to get out of my head. I had to process and heal. Luckily, an amazing meditation space called The Den had just opened in Hollywood. They were offering free classes all month. I indulged. I went almost daily. I dealt with my feelings in a positive way. I processed the hurt, the shame, the anger. I did Qigong, breath work, sound baths – a smorgasbord of healing techniques. And it really helped.
I started to notice synergy in my life. The woman who opened the Den, Tal Rabinowitz, just did her own creative U-turn. She was recently fired from her job as a comedy exec at NBC. That inspired her to open the Den. (Read about her amazing story in the Hollywood Reporter.) I mean, how’s that for inspiration?
Weeks later, I ran into the ousted President of VH1 at one of those mediation workshops. Turns out she had also been let go and was looking for her own clarity. That gave me so much peace none of this was personal. It was business.
With renewed confidence and some sage advice from Tal, I decided to get out of my funk. I put on a fancy dress, grab my bestie, and went out on the town. I put myself out there and had the opportunity to share my truth in a positive way through the lens of TMZ.
I was very proud of that interview. One, the fact that TMZ cared about me felt good to my ego. Two, I was able to have my voice heard and not be a victim. Three, I didn’t have to hide in shame. The news was out and I was ahead of it.
In the Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron talks about how important it is to treat your inner artist like a child. It needs attention and compassion when it gets a booboo. I’m so glad I found the Den, because I didn’t really know what to do with myself. By the grace of God, it just showed up and it’s exactly what I needed – lots of self care – and death to my ego.
My identity is no longer tied to being on a cable television show. I don’t get my self confidence from fame or adoration. It comes from a quiet resolve within myself. I’m proud of where my career has taken me since. I started producing What’s Good?! to make myself feel better. It made other people feel better too. Now, I’m sharing these feel-good segments with a broader audience on Spectrum 1 SoCal.
Had that loss never happened, maybe I wouldn’t have been pushed to act. I think there is beauty in loss and we have to see what opportunities lie in those moments. We can choose to lean into anger, or choose to respond in grace. I’m glad I chose grace – after I fired my agent. I realized I need open communication in my business relationships. I found a fantastic new agent who believes in me, respects me, and communicates with me.
And I’ll get to Bora Bora on my own dime some day.