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All In …

Thank you all for the thoughtful comments you’ve shared here so far – I love reading your reactions and learning about how much we all have in common. I can relate to so many of the experiences you’ve shared, and one in particular strikes me today – the times in our life when we’re bored, idle or feeling a complete lack of motivation.

As I mentioned in my very first post, I am a product of a single mother who worked hard, but struggled financially. I have always been a worker bee, so I got a job when I was 14 (back when you could) so I could afford to buy the “extras.” I started working hard, or hustling as I like to think, to achieve goals I had laid out for myself; and I’ve never really stopped.

When I joined Days of our Lives in 1986

When I joined Days of Our Lives in 1986

When I was offered the role of Kayla Brady on Days of Our Lives in 1986, I didn’t have any idea what a good fit a continuing drama would be for me. Now, here I am – three nearly consecutive soaps and 29 years later (yikes) – with this year looking to possibly be the best ever!

Now let me back up a bit here and say that while I have been busy for most of those 29 years, I have also had months, and sometimes years, of “being out in the cold,” as I often say. And in those times I felt CRAZY! If my husband would ask me “what are you doing today?” I would feel bummed out because I had no idea. “Surely nothing that great or important,” I would think. Down time has always made me feel anxious. Obviously when my kids were young it wasn’t such a problem because I could focus on them and their needs, but those days are gone now (my youngest, Matthew, is graduating from college in May … yay!)

So in this empty nest world, and especially during these past few years when I’ve not been working as much as I am used to or would like to, I’ve had to get moving! I’m not kidding – when I start feeling sad about the lack of purpose, I start setting goals for myself. Like Mandy so beautifully wrote in the last blog about an exercise goal that really got her motivated, and the incredible feeling of accomplishment in making it to the finish line.

Some of you have commented that I do so many things – but you should know that it’s all this that pushes me. I start making plans and sometimes I almost overbook myself so that I’m forced to get MOVING! I may even start with lunch dates with people I need to catch up with but have procrastinated. Anything that gets me out the door!

With my boys when I first started Mary Beth's Apple Pie Co.
With my boys when I first started Mary Beth’s Apple Pie Co.

And it’s times just like those that have led me down some unexpected and exciting trails. Take Mary Beth’s Apple Pie Co. That sure kept me busy, mostly because I didn’t know one gosh darn thing about any of it! But as my husband kept telling me “just say yes and figure it out later.” I took a giant leap of faith and great things happened. Just a short time into that venture, I went on QVC and sold 3,000 pies in seven minutes. Following that, I went on The Today Show to talk about the company and became a top Thanksgiving seller at William Sonoma. All absolutely unexpected!

A certificate from Le Cordon Bleu
A certificate from Le Cordon Bleu

During other lulls in my life I have signed up for many “how to” classes – from cooking and baking to knitting or tomato planting. You name it and I’ve probably taken a class in it. I’ve also painted entire rooms in my house myself (much to my husband’s mind doogle); I’ve become a CASA advocating for foster youth; I’ve taken sailing lessons (click for video); and most recently I’m finishing a new organic vegetable garden (that I will blog about later). All of this to keep the creative juices flowing. And I must say, whenever I do this, more work follows!

A good example of this is five years ago – I wasn’t working on Days of Our Lives, didn’t have anything going acting wise and was really starting to feel the anxiety and craziness creep in. I knew I needed to make things happen for myself, and then I was approached about doing a web series. I didn’t really know much about it, but I said “sure.” In the time since then I’ve said yes to all kinds of new acting opportunities – from acting in plays (click for video) and taking on roles in independent films, to a re-occuring role on ABC Family’s Chasing Life, and most recently trying my hand at comedy in a new Saturday morning series pilot. Today, all of that has paid off in more ways than I could have imagined. All because I took risks, got out of my comfort zone and said yes to new opportunities.

A poster from a play I did, a script from a table read and my new role in a comedy series pilot.
A poster from a play I did, a script from a table read and my new role in a comedy series pilot.

What it all boils down to for me is that I feel better about myself and am more productive when I’m proactive; and as a result my life has improved and changed for the better in more ways than I can count. The hardest thing is getting started, but I am challenging you to start … and you can do that by seeking out and saying yes to opportunity!

As you do, I hope you’ll come back here and share your journeys with me, because you all inspire me too!

Until next time!

19 Comments

  1. susan blackman

    Hi Marybeth,when I started watching Days in 1986 I was going through a very sad time with my family and when I started watching Steve and Kayla on Days and the show,it helped make my days brighter and the love story of Steve and Kayla helped me through this time and for that I thank you from the heart. I am so looking forward to seeing you and Stephen Nichols back on Days. I love your blogs and love reading about you and your family. Even though I have never met you I know you are a wonderful person.

  2. Gosh Mary Beth, ever think of being a motivational speaker??
    I’m not one to take chances in life as I’m a chronic over-thinker. I’ve had a rough year with many losses, my dad and a few friends and have been in “just trying to get by” mode. After reading your post I’m going to do more to get out of that mode. Maybe take a walk, or something that pushes me to move forward.

  3. I absolutely adore your blog posts!! I am in the throws of Motherhood currently with 3 daughters ages 12, 9, and 4. When I am not with my own children I am teaching Pre-K and have a classroom of 24 4 and 5 year olds. “Me” time is a rarity. I have learned to treasure the small moments in life. And we are very much a “go with the flow” family. My husband farms and his job is EXTREMELY demanding seasonally. Planning family activities often can be a last minute thing. I have admired you for years and your determination to always jump in and try new things! I have a few things I would like to attempt myself…but that will wait until my last baby starts school in 18 months. 🙂 Keep on blogging!!

  4. Hi Mary Beth,

    I’m from Holland and I started sort of following you when I saw you on atwt as Sierra. I loved Sierra and how you played her.
    When I read some articles of you I realised what an inspirational
    woman you are.
    I think a lot of people can learn from you how you do things in life.
    When I’m affraid or insecure about something I often think of you and how you would overcome that and face it.
    You are an example for many people and I think especially women because I think a lot them still struggle with insecurities and fears and don’t know or don’t know to use the tools they have to deal with them.
    Thank you Mary Beth!!

    Elise

  5. Christine Laver

    I love all your posts Mary Beth. I had a big life change recently when my husband was transferred to the US. Up until then we lived a quiet life in rural Ontario Canada. After living all my life in that area it was a big shock to move to Colorado. The hardest part was leaving all our family behind. Both of us have aging parents and you always worry about them. I must say I love Colorado Springs and the surrounding area’s. We have traveled to Utah, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. All such beautiful places. I had to write the State board exam for nursing which I passed (yahoo) and now am going to start my first nursing job in the US. While I was apprehensive about moving I looked upon it as another big adventure. It will two years in September that I’ve been here and I am trying to take advantage of all the splendid scenery that Colorado offers.

  6. It is such a giant leap of faith to say yes first and figure it out later, definitely. But you can’t get anywhere if you don’t take the opportunities when they present themselves. Your example really is kind of amazing. Actress, mom, entrepreneur w/multi elements I each of those is ALOT. I really admire it. I balance alot with being on my school PTO board, working, parenting by myself 4 days a week, and having full family time the other 3 days. I gave up acting to be on the PTO cuz I didn’t think I’d be able to do both with a travelling husband. But I miss it, and you do alot more and somehow make it work. My PTO stint is over soon, so hoping to get back to saying more yes’s soon. All your yes’s have resulted in so many great things. Looking forward to hearing about your future ones.

  7. Thanks Mary Beth for sharing your life, love, Family, career, hobbies & your exciting challenges that you are forever chasing. You truly are a inspiration to many who have dreams, goals, passions & challengers that they have achieved due to your strength, courage & desires to never giving up.
    I myself personally am a doer & have always aimed for challenge’s that sometimes seem or feel are impossible to achieve or reach. I learnt along time ago though that giving up & not trying weren’t an option. If we don’t challenge ourselves to try new things & step out of our comfort zones we will never accomplish all the wonderful options life has to offer. My goal has always been to try all things & if I don’t succeed the first time to try again. I’m an adventurous challenger…some one who likes to go above & beyond what I think I can’t do!
    Thank you so much for sharing your life with us all. I love to hear & read all your exciting new adventures. Thanks again.

  8. Wow! “All in” really hit home for me, Im really at that “lack of purpose” point In my life right now, 2yrs ago I lost my husband of 30yrs to cancer & my job of 30yrs & if that wasn’t enough that lovely thing we call menopause also decided to take hold! My 5yr plan 5yrs ago certainly didn’t include any of this, but what can we do life goes on & now I need to find some way to reinvent myself, its a vey scary thing to leave that comfort zone & put yourself out there to new opportunities but I think its time for me to take that leap of faith as you said & try something new! Thanks for your words of inspiration, I really needed them!

    • Mary Beth

      Kim…
      I don’t know why sometimes everything bad seems to happen all at once. It sounds like you have hunkered down to cope with so much. Maybe you are right and the time has come to see what possibilities are ahead for you!
      Life to me, looks like a long journey and often not what we expected. It seems like how well we can handle loss and be open to the ever changing landscape of our lives with be the secret to our success and ultimately our happiness. It is also the willingness to reinvent ourselves “as many times as it takes!”
      Good luck to you! …and menopause.. that is a blog post all to itself…

  9. Well I loved your blog this week Mary Beth and I have loved the replies I have read so far. We all need to take a leap of faith and just do-every one of the choices I have read about here have seemed hard at first-but one step in front of the other and they turn out fine to brilliant. Taking that first step is often the very hardest part.

    Thank you for not only reminding me of something I already knew, but inspiring me to actually do it. Not sure what that actually is yet-but I know if I have an honest think it will be decided.

    Life is too short not to create opportunities-whether they be big and life changing or small and inspirational. Thank you!

  10. I think it is the Pisces in us, the dreamer, the one that just can not settle on one thing, always doing, always learning, and always curious. It is true in that I feel my best when I am busy and producing something. So I have my hand in a little bit of everything. I might not be perfect at everything I try but I enjoy it, and I believe that is what matters. Enjoy the things you attempt. I write, paint, and create. Enjoy photography and have recently realized I am a great cook and a creative one at that. While not 100% perfect at it & not everyone’s cup of tea, I am enjoying the process and sharing the creative outcomes with family and friends to enjoy. So while I have taken some leaps that have majorly failed, what has come out of that is growth and experience and ideas to make things better.

  11. Mary Beth,
    You have always inspired me with all you do. I sometimes wonder if you have more hours in your day than me.

    • Andrea Welmaker

      It’s me again. I’m not sure what happened to the rest of my post. I got interrupted three times while I was typing it and I i guess I thought the whole thing got sent but it didn’t.

  12. KristenS

    Mary Beth, I am loving on your blog! The pics and posts are inspiring! It was a pleasure meeting you last week and I’m looking forward to hearing and reading more about your garden! This post is especially true for me. I always feel more productive when I am being proactive towards something. Even if I have no idea how it will all work out. Taking that leap of faith in to the unknown can be overwhelming but more times than not it has turned out to be an amazing journey.

  13. I’m a stay at home mom who does for everyone around myself. When my husband and I started out 15 years ago I thought this is what I wanted. As I’ve gotten older I’m realizing I was meant to do so much more but I don’t quite know how to get what I want. There are times I want to leave everything behind and do great things for myself. I then realize that i am doing great things here by raising two awesome human beings. When I finish this and send them out into the world maybe by then I will figure out what I was meant to do in this world. Thank you for being so Inspirational and a breath of fresh air.

    • Mary Beth

      I so love reading all your posts…Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I am not kidding when I say I have been in similar situations or times in my life that were similar to yours… I have had great highs and crappy lows, but the one thing I know absolutely is that no one will “make it happen for me”…I have to do it myself! HAVE TO! Yes I do have a lot of energy and hardly sit down, I have always been like that…but like I said in my post, being proactive changes my whole mind set. I will make a list of too many things to get done and I cross them off one by one….force myself even if I don’t want to. I can easily never leave my house…it’s comfortable …
      but no one is going to find me there. The changes I want for myself won’t be found there. I have to go out and find them,the classes, the jobs…whatever. I might feel (scared) or have no idea where to start but I know I just have to put one foot in front of the other, put myself out there and be open to what unfolds before me!
      I often think that if I never got another acting job what would I do, I have no other skills….it’s scary but I know with certainty that I would make something happen…

  14. Patricia K

    Just loved this Mary Beth. It is so true that getting started is so tough and our fears are the things that can hold us back from doing and trying new things. I admit that I am guilty of this. You jumping into thing amazes me. If we don’t just jump in – we can miss so much in life. So inspiring. Thank you for your blog and all that you share with us.
    Patricia

  15. Margaret

    I have 3 kids meghan 19. Austin17 and zackary 14
    They keep me busy
    Our high school band dept has an apple pie fundraiser every October. It is awesome cranking up to 3000 pies in one weekend
    Friday night pastry making at our university culinary kitchen then Saturday and Sunday’s we assemble the pies in the high school cafeteria.
    Profits are divided 40/60. 40% of profit towards each pies sold and the remaining 60% goes to the number of hours each student worked. It has been very successful
    Margaret

  16. I can’t say that I’ve ever said “yes” to quite as many different things as you do, Mary Beth. But, I can relate in one way. After I graduated from college with my history degree, I was a bit afloat. You can’t really do anything with just a history degree, but I wasn’t sure what to do next – go for a masters, get a teaching certificate, or just find a job.

    Ultimately, after a year of working and helping care for my dying grandfather, I decided to go back and get my teaching certificate. In reality, I didn’t want to be a teacher but it was the easiest way of “getting moving” again. After about two weeks of that program, I knew it wasn’t for me and was again trying to figure out what to do. To make a long story less long, I took a leap of faith and decided to apply for law school. I had no desire to be a traditional courtroom attorney, but I loved the law and decided that if I did something I loved, the right opportunity would come along. And it did. I graduated and after a clerkship found the perfect job and perfect boss for me.

    Now, it’s 14 years later and I’m still working for him and have helped him grow a very successful law firm. I have a great job which allows me to live a life I enjoy and none of that would have happened if I hadn’t closed my eyes and said yes without any real idea of how it would all turn out. So I’m a firm believer in taking that leap and having faith it will all work out in then end.

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