Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A life experience that helps me get into certain characters

Bryn Berg's Blog

Below is a short blog I wrote back in November 2010 about a two year long off and on draining relationship finally coming to a close.  I always felt so vulernerable around this person, and if a part I'm playing requires this trait I refer back to these words I have written.
"Mistakes Washed Away"
I couldn't put it off any longer. The few clothes I own that actually don't swim on me due to my weight loss were piling up, and begging to be baptized in the washer. It really wasn't because I was procrastinating on doing laundry. I can't stand it when my clothes are not clean. The simple black scoop neck top I wore the last time I saw him, it still had his scent. I had worn it to work that day, and had picked it out because it was form fitting, and revealed my body. I wanted to look good for him, and let him see how much weight I had lost. Surely things would be different this time when we tried again. I would finally be enough for him because I had lost fifty pounds. We fell into a long embrace when we met face to face last time. His strong hand slowly moved down my back, and over the thin material of the black top. "Yes" I thought "He finally feels the same way about me." I melted in his arms. His hand still descending down my spine. "He can actually feel my ribs, and my curves." I thought again smiling to myself.
Later that night, the black sweater I wore. His hands around my waist when we were dancing. My jeans...his arm rested on my leg to hold my hand during the movie we saw. These articles all still smelled of him after two weeks. How could I have ever thought he was going to be truthful? I wanted to believe him so much. I loved him so much! It was never meant to be. It took me two years to realize this. He abandoned me again after this night. A few days later I saw he had met someone. His profile picture on facebook is of him dancing closely with another woman. My weight was never the issue. It was just me period. He could not love the person I was.  And how could he when I didn't even like myself.
Sometimes in life we have major breakthroughs. I now understand that when I met him he gave me the most amazing rush of self confidence, I couldn't get enough. I was always like a crack addict with him chasing after that first high. Confidence and self love can only come from within us. I don't need you anymore. I am learning to finally love myself, and never let any man treat me poorly again.

The washer just shut off. I am now cleansed of you, and of the weak person I used to be.

“A 'Rampage' That Taught Me Some Life Lessons” -Another school paper.

Bryn Berg's Blog

“A Rampage That Taught Me Some Life Lessons”

            As an aspiring actress I have never been much for action movies.  While action films have a lot of brilliance behind them in regards to special effects and stunts they are just not my cup of tea.  I am moved by films where the focus is more on dialogue and the acting.  My choice of an out of the norm film for me to view was pretty simple, and I went with an action flick. I searched through my roku menu and went with a film called “Rampage”.  “Rampage” received three and half stars from roku, and three stars on imbd.com.  It was filmed in the year of 2009 when the economy was at the height of financial ruin.  The synopsis of this film listed on roku is “Desperation drives a bitter small town man to don a bullet proof vest, grab a semi-automatic weapon and attempt the largest killing spree ever.”  The film was stars Brendan Fletcher, Shawn Sipos, and Lynda Boyd.  It was directed by Uwe Boll.  I must say this film really surprised me.  I assumed it was going to just be about some crazy man going around and shooting up people, but it actually turned out to be much deeper than that.
            The movie opens with some really great shots of the main character, Bill Williamson burning all of his clothing in a secluded area possibly to cover up evidence of something illegal.  The film then flashes back in time to the week before. You find that Bill is a young man, most likely in his early twenties, still living at home, and not really going anywhere in life.  It is also evident that Bill is not very happy about his present situation.  As the day goes on you see how angry Bill is as he gets into multiple arguments over petty things with various vendors throughout town.  Bill then joins up with a friend of his who seems to feel his pain.  While all of this is going on you hear clips of various television and radio broadcasts talking about how greedy, materialistic, and selfish humans are.  This could have possibly been trying to point out that this was a huge reason why our economy crashed.  I really liked how they put these clips in intermittently during the film.  At this point in the movie I was questioning the dialogue and acting  because it didn’t seem very deep.  However, it did suddenly dawn on me that this film was most likely a satire of people’s reaction to the economy so the silly deliverance of the characters lines actually fit.
            The conflict of the film was a huge shocker.  I was particularly intrigued by the way they set up a certain shot when Bill was driving back to his house after his day out harassing local vendors.  The picture was shaking like they jerked the camera around on purpose.  I first chalked this up to B rated filming, but I realized it worked really well because it made me very nervous anticipating what was going to come next.  Bill was in his room building a bomb, and you see him pulling out an armored suit, and a huge gun.  Bill is also communicating with his friend about their plan to go on a shooting rampage.  There are more intense clips of broadcast going more into depth about greed, the state of the economy, and the country being at war.  I started to like the main characters acting more and more because he kept you guessing.  He was able to put a comedic spin on crazy behavior. 
            My hypothesis that this movie was a satire seemed to prove correct when Bill and his friend went into town and started shooting at anyone and anybody.  At one point Bill went into a hair salon with is enormous gun, and badgered all of the women present.  When Bill left one lady just said “what a d*ckhead” and business went back to business as usual.  This is not a typical reaction most humans would have however this could have been implying that people had become numb to violence and crazy behavior.  Next Bill went into a bingo hall.  No one seemed to even be bothered that a man walked in with an enormous weapon.  They just kept right on playing bingo.  This is also not your typical human response.  This could have be pointing out that people have just become so focused on making or winning money that not even the extreme threat of their life could take their eyes off the prize. 
            Bill and his friend were supposed to meet up, but Bill took a detour and robbed a local bank.  When he joined up with his partner in crime, he ended up killing him.  The movie is then at the place it started where Bill is burning all of his evidence.  Bill then proceeds home with the large stash of cash he has acquired.  No one suspects he was the killer because he had a mask on the entire time concealing his identity.  You then see his parents baby him because they are so worried about him witnessing all of the killings that he was actually behind.  It also came out that his friends (who he killed) body was found.  His mother then mentions to Bill’s father that they probably need to get him some counseling because of everything they think he’s been through.  The ironic thing is that his mother is a psychologist, and is totally oblivious to the fact that her son is completely loony. I loved this plot twist.  It also made it even more humorous that Bill’s parents were almost modern day cardboard cut outs of Ward and June Cleaver. 
            The film ends with Bill posting a broadcast on the internet of how he is over society, it’s hostility, and it’s greed.  However Bill has committed many murders of innocent people, and robbed a bank.  This was a brilliant way to prove how hypocritical and self-righteous members of the human race can be.  You then see a caption that Bill disappeared never to be seen again. 
            I was pleasantly surprised by this film, and it has made me realize that I shouldn’t be so close minded when it comes to action movies.  Science fiction has been used so many times over the years to make political statements so why can’t action films be a portal as well?  I’m actually really disappointed with myself for never taking this into consideration.   This movie not only had a unique editing and filming style, but also made some really important points about the state of our country during 2009.  Individuals had been so used to living in comfort that when the economy crashed so many people who had never seem hard times could barely deal with a less than upscale lifestyle.  I also feel that Bill’s rampage was a brilliant example of the war our country is involved in.  A lot of people feel that there is no rhyme or reason to what our country is fighting for, and many men and women have been killed needlessly, thus there was really no explanation for Bill’s actions.  Bill’s mother being a psychologist and not seeing how crazy her son was is another important factor of the movie.  They could have been trying to show us that people have chosen to bury their heads in the sand, and tune out all of the horrible events going on around them.  I could go on and on about other morals this movie taught, but I feel that I have picked out the best intents of the film. 
            This movie did have the elements of an action movie with all of the shooting that happened during the rampage, but it was not overdone like some action flicks.  It was just enough to show the viewer that horrible killings were taking a place, so we could focus more on the films intents.  I’m very shocked that this movie is not more well known, and would even recommend it as something to be shown in college psychology, or sociology classes because of its deep meanings.  "Rampage" had a great impact on me, and it made me very aware that I have perhaps tuned out a lot of what’s going on around me.  My life is always crazy busy, but now I realize my scattered schedule is not so relevant.  It's actually very small potatoes compared to all of the issues taking place in our society.  This film will never let me forget this. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ding Ding Ding!!! I have an idea. "The New 2nd Half of the Years Resolution"

So I had a very serious reality check this week in regards to a flaw in my personality.  I've been aware of it for quite sometime, and I've come close to sabotaging relationships, jobs, opportunities...you name it.  I would love to use the excuse that as an actress I'm more overly sensitive, and access my emotions easily than others. Nope!  I'm not going to lie to myself any longer.  It's time to nip this in the bud and break the cycle.  The truth of the matter is that I'm being very self centered.  There is only a very small percent of the population that is actually out to take advantage of others.  Most individuals these days are just trying to do the best they can with the resources they have.  Because of these limited options some folks might have to make a certain choice, conduct themselves in a specific way, have rules and procedures they must follow, etc.  It's probably no reflection on anyone around them.  The backbone of acting consists of learning to put yourself in the shoes of any character you're playing.  Well....shame on me!  I should be even more aware of the fact that you never know what's going on with those around you unless well,  you've walked a mile in their shoes.  
So I've come up with a plan.  I managed to get my original New Years resolution accomplished a little early.  So what if I make what I'm calling a "New 2nd Half of the Years Resolution"?  It's kind of like those accelerated college degrees.  You complete your goal in 6 months instead of a year.  I'm pledging that from now on I will NOT take things so personally.  I'm no longer going to be selfish, and my first reaction will be to look at what the person I feel has hurt me is going through, and the big picture.  It will no longer be about how my feelings were hurt.  I will also make sure that I take 24 hours to assess anything that has made me angry before taking any sort of action because 9.5 times out of 10 I always find that I blow these types of situations way out of proportion.  Hello Mcfly????????????  I think it's about time for this to sink in through my thick skull.

Happy New 2nd Half of the Year, and please feel free in joining me.  :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Learning to be supportive of those I care about

This was a blog I wrote back in March of 2008 after being blow away watching a new series at the time running on HBO called "In Treatment".  This particular scene was life changing for me, and caused me to do an about face on how I see dating, relationships, and marriage.  We can't judge anyone for who they fall for.

HBO has struck again with another riveting series.  Over the years they have blessed us with shows, and documentaries that have impacted my life.  Just when I thought the golden age of HBO was ending with the season finale of "The Sopranos", a new show had been born to continue the rein.  This time the premium network cable channel has gone back to basics.  There are no special effects or fancy scenery; it is all about the acting.
The series revolves around one main character, Paul who is a brilliant therapist.  His practice is run in very cozy and roomy office out of his home.  The series runs 5 nights a week.  The first four nights of each week we witness the sessions of 4 very complex characters that are Paul’s patients.  To make matters even more interesting there is a curve ball thrown in on the fifth night of each week.  We find that Paul is actually in therapy himself to try and fix his failing marriage, and to come to terms with his growing feelings towards Laura, one of his patients.
Anyways, I never meant to sound like some wanna be critic writing this blog.  I will get down to the nitty gritty while this is all fresh in my mind.  My entire life I have always perceived psychologists as people who can stay out of unhealthy situations because they have the right tools mentally.  The ironic thing is that I see now that even the most mentally educated people are just as human as we are.  Up until I started watching this show I always felt that one stayed in the wrong circumstances such as a bad relationship, living situation, job, etc because they did not love themselves, and did not feel they deserved better in life.  As I began to grow older I started to believe that all of my bad relationships and flings were a result of my own insecurities.  While the majority of these experiences were probably a result of my own past self esteem issues I was recently taught from this show that there are other important factors involved.
In last nights episode Paul was at his therapy appointment with his therapist, Gina.  Gina is a very close friend and colleague of Paul’s.  Both of them know a lot about each other, or so they think.  For awhile you watch Gina and Paul push each others buttons with psychotherapy Jedi minds games.  Paul intermittently lets his guard down, but becomes angry at Gina each time this happens because she has won at the game.  Each time this occurs Paul shuts off his vulnerability and finds a way to insult Gina.  Gina is tough as nails, or so we think.  For weeks you watch Paul’s insults towards Gina roll off her back like water.  As time went on you slowly see Gina breaking down.  Last night Paul finally pushed Gina too far in telling her how she broke one of her patient’s hearts to pieces.  Paul has assumed all of this time that she blew her only chance at happiness to obey the code of therapy ethics in never getting involved with a patient.
Gina finally breaks.  Within seconds it is revealed that Gina is not the hard by the book emotionless person we thought she was.  You see Gina tear up and defend herself.  Gina explains to Paul that she was very fond of this male patient, and even "wanted to eat him up".  However, she was not in love with him.  You learn that Gina was actually married for a number of years.  Gina admits that her husband cheated on her many times, and made a fool out of her.  She even stayed with him until his death.  My first reaction was to judge her as a weak woman who didn’t love herself, as this how I felt about my past similar involvements.  Little did I know how far off base I was in my whole thought process.  Gina assures the audience that she is a very confident self loving person with simple dialect.  I am still left wondering why she tortured herself for years by staying with her husband.   After a few agonizing seconds of anticipation Gina tells us, "I loved the person I was around him".
As quickly as the last few grains of sand drop through an hour glass my whole viewpoint on relationships and dating is forever changed.  I see it so clearly now.  I now understand why so many people close to me have chosen be terrible marriages and attachments. And more importantly, the missing puzzle piece to my past dating experiences has been has been found.  Ever since I watched this episode I have gone through my sorted dating timeline.  There were men that made me feel sexy as hell, guys who accepted me for all of my faults and even loved me for them, and fellows I could be myself to my entirety around.  I feel so lucky to have been introduced to this show.   I have such an inner piece now.   Because of this one particular plot line I can forgive myself for staying around too long in certain romantic situations.  I have come to realize that at times the euphoria certain men gave me out weighed their shortcomings in their overall treatment of me, but only temporarily.  As a long time number cruncher I always end up creating a "T-Account" of any situation I am pondering.  If the debit and credits, i.e. the good and bad traits do not balance out, or if the bad traits out number the good traits it results in me cutting my losses. 
Maybe it is a combination of my stubborn accounting background, and reading the book "He’s Just Not That into You."  Or perhaps it is simply because there has never been a man in my life that has been so extraordinary that I was willing to put up with his cheating or poor treatment.  All I know now is that I have to remember Gina’s situation could be the case with many of those close to me.  These individuals I speak of are my long term dear friends and family members.  They are of a different kind of love that is much simpler to grasp.  One thing I have always known about them is that their presence in my life is a gift from heaven.  Because I am so fortunate to have these people in my life I must never forget to support them if they are dealing with what I will now call a "Gina situation."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The story of my 15 year weight battle

          Sadly, there was no way around it.  From the very beginning of my life it was pretty much a given that I was going to be prone for obesity.  I was even born a very pudgy baby.  The genes run like wildfire on both sides of my family.  My mother was determined to protect my brother and I from becoming heavy children.  She stuck to her guns, and never kept junk food in the house, cooked very healthy meals, and let us indulge in treats on a limited basis.  Despite this amazing upbringing of love my mind rebelled against all of the nutritional lessons my mother had taught me.  By the time I was 6 years old I was sneaking food from the pantry, and would jump at the chance to always go to a friend’s house in hopes that they would serve me an abundance of unhealthy snacks.  At almost every party or function where food was around some adult would have to intervene and tell me to stop eating.  I remember in fifth grade at a class party I snuck into the kitchen and ate five donuts in a row.   I was a very insecure child who hurt inside a majority of the time.  I got picked on a lot in school because I had difficulties learning.  At the time they did not know how to diagnose my issues, but it was later determined I have ADD.
               Right after my twenty first birthday my father passed away very suddenly, and turned my world upside down.  I turned to food for comfort.  My food binges lead me to a fifteen year struggle with yo yo dieting, bouts of bulimia, and abuse of diet pills.  In the year 2000 at 215 pounds I was even outed by a federal drug sniffing dog while waiting to cross the border in Tijuana.  I was smuggling diet pills back into the country that I did not have a prescription for that I had purchased at a Mexican pharmacy.  Luckily when the canine put his nose on one of the pockets I had concealed the pills in I thought really fast on my feet and said "oh sweetie you must smell my dogs".  Thank goodness it worked and the border patrol agent only scolded me for petting a working dog.  Looking back I am so ashamed I stooped that low to lose weight.
           In 2006 after getting out of a very bad relationship I was at my highest weight ever, 230 pounds.  My eating was out of control, and it also didn't help that I had been chained to a desk for 8 hours a day in corporate America for over a decade.  I felt so unhealthy, and had no energy at all.  I started the process of trying to get gastric bypass, and even consulted with doctor who performed Carnie Wilson's surgery in 1999.  The insurance company declined the procedure stating that my health problems were not severe enough.  I was devastated because I thought it was my last hope in trying to win my weight battle, but really I was only trying to cheat the system.  I am very thankful now that the insurance company did not award me the surgery because many individuals have had complications from it. I started taking baby steps in my weight loss, and began working out.  I managed to lose 30 pounds from exercising a lot, but it did not come off easily because I was still not eating right.
           When 2010 came around I made a pledge to myself that I was going to make an effort to start concentrating on the things I wanted in life instead of things I didn't want.  I was a victim of the economy, and had been laid off my job.  I decided I would never go back to corporate America because I was miserable.  I had always wanted to get into acting and film making since I was a child so I decided to pursue this.  I had no idea how I was gonna do it, but I knew I would find a way.  A friend of mine helped me land a job at local gym with flexible hours so I could go back to school to major in theater.  Once I was finally on the track of what I had always wanted in life I started to not need food so much as a crutch.  I also realized I didn't love myself, and had to stop poisoning my body.  I was very lucky that after all the damage I had done to myself I was still healthy.  I worked out harder than ever doing strength training, yoga, kickboxing, zumba (my very favorite workout), and spinning.  I created a diet that cut out junk and fast food.  I also made substitutions for the bad food I used to eat, for example instead of eating chips, I would always have raw almonds on hand, or eat unsalted popcorn.  I also loaded up on the lean protein.  I still will have a cheat day once week so I don't completely deprive myself.  By October of 2010 I weighed in at 158 pounds, and was a size 10 versus the size 20 I used to be.  I had more energy than ever, and I didn't want to hide out from the world anymore.
            Last spring I saw Adam's group on promotion to try out his boot camp, and I jumped on the chance to try a different workout.  I admired the fact that Adam was very honest with me about my BMI still being a little too high, and that I was pretty much going to get buns kicked with his workout formula.  He was right.  Adam and Jeremiah pushed me beyond what I thought my workout limits were, and helped me put on some serious muscle.  I liked the boot camp so much, I stayed on.  The fitness formula works because of the amazing support and accountability.  I feel it is also successful because we do something different each and every workout so your muscles are always shocked, and the short intervals make you burn massive calories.  Adam's boot camp is here to stay in my life.  I have had also had great success in making better choices in my diet because of Adam's nutrition plan.  Recently Adam asked me to become an accountability coach, and it is one of the greatest honors ever.  I am very passionate in sharing how much fitness has changed my life, and make it a habit to constantly research and educate myself when it comes to diet and exercise.  Knowledge is power!  For example, I will be the first person to admit that I have a WICKED sweet tooth.  I began to research the internet for help.  I came upon an article that suggested a sudden sugar craving could be your bodies way of saying it's dehydrated.   When I feel the cravings coming now I drink water ASAP.  I have found that about 80% of the time my urge to grab candy goes away.  Who knew it was something as simple as that?  
           I now weigh in at 146 pounds, and was accepted into the theater and performance program this semester at the college I attend, and landed a part in their play.  I LOVE acting until I can't love it anymore.  It's my true passion.  To me it's not about the money, it's just something that's in my blood.  There is no greater feeling than to know you have possibly made your viewers think deeply because of your portrayal of human nature.  I am also considering becoming a personal trainer as well as a group x instructor.   It's never too late in life to go after what you truly want.   You deserve it!  Just take it slowly, and one day at a time.  Changes such as weight loss don't happen over night, they take time.  It is perfectly okay to take baby steps.  I wish it hadn't taken me fifteen years to figure this out, but at least I finally did, and trust me I am still very much a work in progress.  There is always hope if you just believe in yourself.