Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Through The Cat's Eyes

My dear friend Bob Souer had a wonderfully profound thought today. It involved one of my cats, Storm, and his aversion to his litterbox. Huh?? OK, let's see if I can start from the beginning...

A few weeks ago, I asked my on-line community of fellow voice actors to help me with a problem I was having...(FYI...this long story has been slightly edited from its original version)

"My dear cat Storm (the one I call Norman)is an alpha male. He and I are incredibly attached to one another and he tends to act out when I leave town. Over a year ago we brought home our puppy. Storm preceded to 'mark' everything that belonged to the dog and eventually the dog herself.

So, I went to the vet. Had him checked- he's fine. She recommended vaccinating him and letting him be indoor/outdoor (I don't vaccinate my animals normally- don't believe in it). We did that. I put pheromone plug-ins throughout the house (at $50 a pop!). We had all carpets cleaned and neutralized to take out the previous odors. We got rid of the large plants that had been marked. We also implemented an 'alpha ritual'...Storm gets fed first, gets treats first, gets pet first...etc. Honestly, we've done everything I can think to do.

Last week, we went out of town. We closed all closet doors and left the cats (there are 2 of them) well cared for. However, when we returned- we discovered Storm had taken out his aggressions for me leaving him on our bed. All over our bed. 4 times. It's bad.

The delimna:

I adore this cat. The vet told me I may need to put him down. That is not an option.

I know one of you has to have experienced something like this and may have some great advice. I don't know what else we can do to fix the problem. I also know I can't have my house destroyed by 1 cat."

Thanks to the advice of my wonderful friends, I found a great holistic vet that helped me solve the problem. Here is the update I posted today..

"I took Storm to a holistic vet. They said there was nothing wrong with him medically, but that he did obviously have a ton of anxiety. She told me that more often than not a cat's anxiety can be linked to his litter box(es).

So we mapped out my house and where the litter boxes were (I had 2 at the time, one for each cat). Both were on the first floor, were covered litter boxes with liners and wheat litter.

She said most cats hate covered litter boxes, that it is not natural to urinate in a cave. Also, since we have a dog who likes to ambush the cats...the vet said it was causing anxiety to exit the boxes with no visual of where the dog was. She also said many cats don't like the feel of liners when they are scratching around in the litter.

She asked me where Storm had marked...was it consistent? Yes- it was almost always upstairs in our bedroom. She mentioned that was most likely where another litter box needed to be. It works out good for us, because there is a good space for a box in the master bathroom that the dog can't get to (she's too small).

The vet said to add a 3rd litterbox, uncovered, and with clay litter. Oh my! It works! That is obvioulsy the prefered box now. So, we removed the liners from the downstairs boxes (and were shocked to find they are actually easier to clean!) Storm is also spending nights outside roaming. While he doesn't seem to leave the backyard much, it still gives him his freedom.

Finally, she said to get rid of anything he had marked, thus eliminating 'old habits'. We boarded him while we were on vacation last week and it went great! He was happy to come home and slid right back into his routine without taking 'revenge' on us.

FYI- not one mark since I first started this thread. I guess ya learn something new everyday! Who knew litterboxes were so important??"

OK, I know what you are this a post about pets or voice over? Well, it's both. I'm posting to help educate those that may be in similar situations and thinking of getting rid of, or finding a new home for your cat. There just may be a solution that will save your cat AND your marraige :)

I'm also posting this so I can copy down a comment from my friend Bob...


The first thing that popped into my pea-sized brain in answer to this question is: think about what sort of impression it makes on you when you’re visiting someone and they don’t have a clean, tidy bathroom for you to use? I mean, I know cats aren’t human (I’m sure they’re convinced they are the superior species!); but it seems reasonable that this kind of situation would be important to every creature.

I suppose the larger application is that when we do things for our own convenience, we’re seldom serving the needs of (clients? family? friends?) others."

I am proud to say, for once, I wasn't the one that found the correlation between my life and my job...Bob did it for me. Thanks Bob, I couldn't have said it better myself!

Make sure to check out Bob's Blog about this story...priceless!

Monday, August 20, 2007


I made a very dumb decision when I was planning my wedding a year and a half ago. I decided to make every centerpiece, bridesmaid's gift, and favor by hand. 27 table centerpieces, 150 favors, 4 bridesmaid's gifts, and one gift for my mom. By hand. My own two hands.

It seemed brilliant at the time (many months before the wedding). It would save us money, it would add a personal touch, and besides- I love to make things! Genius!

4 months out I began creating the centerpieces. They would be hurricane lamps decorated with ribbon that matched our ceremony colors. Of course, I couldn't just tie a silly ribbon around a lamp! Oh no! I decided I should add flowers and pearls, and rhinestones, and 'I love you' charms. They should be sewn together so they could last forever! It didn't matter that my back was killing me and I had multiple burns from the hot glue, sore fingers from the needle...I was doing something important.

The favors each had little hearts tied with red ribbon around them. The bridesmaid's gifts were picture frames with pictures of us as children and as adults. Not just any old frame- each was handmade with embellishments and mementos of our lives together. My mother received an entire scrapbook from my birth to my wedding...showing what an incredible mom she was!

If you haven't figured it out yet...I am a moron. Plain and over the top self inflicting perfectionist.

A few weeks ago, we had a yard sale. On a table covered with cloth set 15 hurricane lamps. The hand-made centerpieces for our wedding. My time, my sweat, my stress...for $2 each. I sold 2 of them. At one point, I tried to give them one wanted them. They are now sitting in boxes in my garage.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading lately, and noticed several of my fellow voice actors (including myself) are doing to their careers what I did to my lanterns. Perhaps I should say 'overdoing'.

It is easy to fall into a pattern when you work for yourself. We each want to succeed, and it can be hard to know when to walk away. In the downtime between voice jobs, I have a tendency to still sit in my studio on the computer. I read the voice actor forums (there are almost too many to keep up with!), I listen to auditions from other voice actors that have been posted online, I read blogs, I research the market and make sure my demos are in every appropriate location, I listen to every demo at the top agencies (oh yes, there are a few I even know by heart), and I brainstorm ways to improve my business and my acting.

Obviously, this is what makes me great at marketing and it also makes me a better voice actor. The question is...when do I just let it go and trust I've done everything I can do for the day?

I've been thinking a lot about those lamps. One sits above my computer- another to my right. One in the guest room and two in my bedroom. They are beautiful and would likely sell for a fortune in the right store. Sometimes I wonder though...did anyone see them at my wedding? Were they really just for me? Did those pearls really need to be sewn to the ribbon, or was the ribbon just fine on it's own?

This last weekend, I walked away from my studio. I went out with a girlfriend and tasted some new wines. I cleaned my house from top to bottom. I spent time in my gardens pruning the flowers. Sure, I checked my e-mails and even recorded a couple of auditions, but I didn't worry if I had missed something. I didn't spend all of my time sewing pearls- I stopped and looked at the big picture. I remembered what mattered.

Success isn't success if all of your time is spent getting there. Success is defined by the person you are at the end of the day. (I think someone famous said that once)

If this is the job we are each meant to have- the little embellishments won't be necessary. Our work will speak for itself. So, stop worrying and go enjoy the party!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Some Bees and Some Changes

When you visit our home, one of the first things you will notice is that my husband and I love to garden. Actually, my husband is slightly more obsessed with the grass while I divide my time between the vegetable, perennial, and butterfly gardens. I find incredible enjoyment in gardening organically, it is quite a challenge to keep the pests away and the plants thriving.

I often find correlations between the work I put into my garden and the work I put into my voice over business. These are two areas of my life I am equally passionate about. I credit my voice coach, Nancy Wolfson, for finding a way to blend the two.

This weekend I was finally able to unveil my new website...

The concept was developed many months ago after Nancy came across a picture in a magazine. It had beautiful yellow flowers and a honey bee. I agreed that it captured my hobby with the flowers; my young, fresh voice with the color yellow; and the bee...well, that was just for fun.

I was fortunate to meet Jason from Village Green Studios who designed the site.

Now the story...(you knew there would be one!)

If you've ever worked in a garden, you know how docile bees are. They almost never sting, and they are extremely beneficial to the plants. I have forever been fascinated with bees. My poor husband has had to sit through countless slide shows of the many close-ups I've taken of busy bees. I've always felt a strong working relationship between myself and the bees, we both have jobs to do in the gardens.

This past week, Jason had finished the initial design of the site and wanted to get my thoughts on it. I loved everything, but wasn't 100% sold on the roaming bee. I decided it might be wise to go outside, water the gardens, and think things through. My time in the fresh air helped me decide the bee should probably go, as some folks might find it annoying.

I came inside, ate some cereal, put a load of laundry in the wash. and came upstairs to type out the e-mail to Jason. As I leaned back in my office chair, I felt a needle prick in my spine. It took me a few seconds to realize I had just been stung. The poor bee had become entangled in my shirt and was defending himself. In all the years of my life, I have never been stung by a bee...once by a wasp...but never a bee.

Currently, the house next door to us is up for sale. It is my sincere hope that no one was there on this particular morning. I am quite sure I have never ripped an article of clothing off my body that fast in my life. Off goes the shirt...out come words that would make a sailor blush. If you've never been really hurts! I fly into the bathroom for a cold wet towel to hold over the growing welt on my back. My dog, in her endless fascination of all things loud, began clawing frantically at my leg. It was not a pretty site.

The good news is that I am not allergic to bees, and that the bee did not die from the sting. The better news is that he stung some sense into me. The website bee stays...and I have a greater appreciation for him than I ever could have imagined!

As you look around the new site, and the new blog layout...feel free to offer any suggestions on how I can improve them!

For now...I couldn't bee happier :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

It Ain't Luck Baby

Last week was my mother's...uh, 39th...birthday. We threw a surprise party for her in Texas that was an absolute blast, and we were able to stay for a few extra days and spend some time with the family.

During one of the conversations I had with my mom, it came up how fortunate I've been with some of the publicity I've received regarding my voice over business. I said I have been lucky. My mother said luck comes to those who work the hardest.

Have I ever mentioned how brilliant my mom is?

Another brilliant woman in my life is my voice and business coach, Nancy Wolfson.

Last week I booked my first gig with The Big Fish Voice Company. It wasn't a huge part, but was still a blast to record. It was a couple of lines in a Qwest spot as a teenage girl. They wanted to record the commercial via ISDN.

My house is not ISDN capable, but I regularly use a local studio for this purpose called the GroundCrew Studios. Some of the greatest people in Charlotte work in that studio and it is always a joy to visit. While I was there recording for Qwest, I was asked by the GroundCrew to also help them out on a couple of local radio commercials. Obviously, I was happy to oblige.

Afterward, I was e-mailing with Nancy and casually mentioned the situation. With her permission, here was Nancy's response.

"It is so cool that while at the studio they had you do two more commercials - totally what I tell people all the time about how work begets work - not just on a spiritual level, not just on a confidence level that comes thru the reads, but also on a PRACTICAL level, too."

I say it all the time, and I mean it...if we are only as great as those we surround ourselves with, well then I'm pretty phenominal!

Thanks mom, thanks Nancy!