This is me 18 years ago. Like, almost to the day.

Just before I took this photo, I’d journaled that it wouldn’t be much longer before mom would be done with this world. We’d discontinued chemo and radiation and had hired a hospice worker to come into the home and administer her morphine. Soon she would stop speaking, but on this day, we were able to talk on the phone for what would be one of the last times.

She was in good spirits, aware of what was ahead for her. I, on the other hand, was exhausted from flying back and forth to Atlanta. On this day, back in LA to close up some business before returning to my mother’s side ’til the end, I realized the end might come before I could even get back to Atlanta. That all this prepping to be able to stay with her in her final weeks might be for nothing. We may not have weeks left.

Sure enough, she passed on the morning I was headed back to Atlanta to stay indefinitely. Instead, my stay was less than a week. Finish up some paperwork with my stepfather, write the eulogy, and begin a whole new relationship with my mother. One in which I’d need to learn some sort of “spiritual braille” in order to communicate.

This time of year for me is pretty rough.

I mean, I certainly have joy-filled memories of this time of year from both before and after the one in 2000, but for the most part, I feel this time of year like I do in this photo. Exhausted. Distracted. Going through the motions so I can still pay rent and engage in basic hygiene, but really disconnected from a lot of feelings. Because the feelings are pretty rotten.

2018 has been all about digging in and feeling my feelings and these — the ones I’ve distracted myself from for nearly two decades this time of year — are landing differently right now thanks to the mind-body work I’ve done.

One of the distractions I created for myself this time of year was born in 2014: Get in Gear for the New Year. Yup. We’re entering the fifth year of this free 11-day challenge for actors and other showbiz creatives that I built as a way to distract me from feeling my feelings at a tough time.

Turns out, this total give of tools-and-mindset goodness has helped many thousands of actors all over the world. Of course, in the ways you’d expect: an awesome tune-up of all the juicy good actor brand managers and marketing tools, a reminder of the WHY behind the WHAT on this spectacular creative career we’ve all chosen, and a superfun way to connect with the worldwide community of SMFAninjas engaged in this work at the same time.

But also in ways you might not know: Every year, I get thank-yous from creatives I’ve never met (and some that I have met, of course), letting me know that as they too have gone through some tough times, this work provides structure, support, community connection, creative outlet, and mindset upgrades during these final few days of the year.

That means a lot to me.
More than you may ever know.

Because sometimes that’s all our art, our storytelling work, our creative expression is meant to do: Bring better feelings to someone right when they need exactly that.

Ah… I love that.

And that’s why the joy of hosting this massive year-end party (You’re signed up, right?!?) extends far beyond the WORK we’re doing during it.

By being a part of this free 11-day party I’m throwing?
You’re helping me heal.

So, thank you.

And if you’re having challenging emotional dips this time of year, please just know you’re not alone.

All my love and thanks,

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

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  1. Don December 18, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Astonished at the timing of your post, Bonnie. Just today I was speaking to my counsellor and our focus was on me driving forward to the future through my acting and not being undermined by the painful times of the past. Acting and other creative pursuits provide that structure and supporting loving hands as you so perceptively noted. Thank you for being vulnerable and thank you for sharing.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie December 18, 2018 at 2:31 am

      Thank YOU for enjoying some of that structure. 🙂 It’s a joy to share it with you. Love the timing! Just lovely.

  2. Elizabeth A. Zimmerman December 18, 2018 at 6:29 am

    My mother was in hospice at Christmas of 2012. I left her side to go to an audition where I was supposed to burst into tears. She promised not to die while I was gone. Needless to say, I got a callback. We both thought it was hysterically funny timing, because we can find humorous in anything.
    She passed exactly at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and left money for me to specifically pursue acting and to make people laugh.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie December 18, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      I love this, Elizabeth. And finding the humor in everything is a precious gift. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  3. Laura December 20, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    Love you so much, Bon. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie December 20, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Love you too, hon. You make it a joy to share! XO


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