My Naked Heart

By Caleigh LeGrand

Last Fall, when I watched the trees whittle themselves down to their structural essence, I realized that I still have a lot to learn.

Via my Second City improv training, I’m mastering the removal of the “masks” I wear. I’m exposing myself to my own unfiltered potential so that I may portray any character I play, and so I can invite new people into my life and experience new opportunities.

This might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but playing a role onstage isn’t about putting a mask on.  It’s way too difficult to play a role with the many masks we’ve already fashioned for ourselves – the ever-good daughter with a shiny reputation, the rationally intellectual business person, the sexy girl on a heart-racing first date, the heart-sleeved friend who’s always got a shoulder to lend.  True emotion isn’t readable through layers, which is why learning how to act is really just about learning how to de-mask.  Once I drop my baggage, once I shed my socially constructed confines, I’m free to pick up a character, try her on, and let her just play through me.

De-masking means my health, work, financial, social and personal realms are all taking a turn for the even-better.  I’m making changes.  At this time of year, lots of people are resolving to be more strict with their diet, their finances, their behavior.  But I’ve decided to not care what I eat, demote myself at my day job and behave unexpectedly.  Let’s call them counter-resolutions. Let me clarify…

1. I’m teaching myself to hold less guilt in my heart when I eat something that society tells me has “too many calories.”

2. I’ve gone back to serving, rather than managing, at my restaurant. (Turns out, with this move, I’m now earning more money and spending less time at the restaurant, leaving me with more time to focus on my other endeavors.)

3. I’m networking and meeting some of the most interesting and inspirational people by letting go of worrying about what others think of me.

Goals have their way of being both exciting and daunting at the same time, and these ones merely skim the surface of my current focus.  I’m still shedding my leaves, still peeling my masks off, still getting down to the heart of my matter.  And I’m up for the challenge because I know it takes heart, and heart I’ve got.



Caleigh LeGrand is an actor and writer living in Toronto.

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