I am living a dream right now. It did not happen magically or overnight, nor is it always sunshine and butterflies, but it is a dream.
To make a long life story short, I quit an upwardly-mobile corporate job, opened my speaking and coaching company during the Great Recession, wrote blog posts and eBooks for 10 years, and was discovered by a children’s book publishing company during a speaking engagement in October 2017. I wrote my first storybook, Seraphina Does Everything, and it was released last month. I have the best publisher on the planet. With the help of my publisher’s PR firm, I was invited to be a guest on a Hallmark Channel talk show, Home & Family in May 2019.
It has been one week since I flew to Los Angeles for the show. I can breathe again, and wanted to share my experience with you. I plan to give you the complete story…including fears, tears, and nausea. You have been warned.
I was very excited when my publisher called me with the news of the interview. For weeks, I didn’t feel nervous. I am usually pretty comfortable on camera.
Underestimating my nerves was silly. Very, very silly.
I arrived in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon, and a dear friend of mine, Julie Buck, took the train from San Diego to be with me. This very benign “Hey, I’m going to be in L.A. Wanna hang out for a couple of days?” ask ended up saving my skin.
Julie arrived shortly after I did, and we had a nice afternoon catching up. Because I was on Eastern time, I fell asleep around 9:00 pm local time.
I wasn’t asleep long.
I woke up at 12:45 am and spent the remainder of the night in the hotel bathroom dry heaving. You were warned, remember?
At 6:00 am, I couldn’t stand the darkened room any more, and I woke Julie up to keep me company. She did so gladly and helped me practice for the interview.
We arrived at Universal Studios at 9:30 am. After a 10-minute golf cart ride through the backlot, we arrived at the location where Home & Family is filmed.
It was the coolest set at Universal Studios.
Most of the backlot is filled with huge industrial buildings with few discernible entrances. However, Hallmark channel has constructed a 2,500-square-foot, free-standing house for the talk show. There is a beautifully-landscaped yard in the front and back, full kitchen, laundry, craft room, and several family rooms with sofas. The interior is decorated with a gorgeous blend of neutrals and bright pops of color. If there were bedrooms, I could live there happily.
After the tour of the studio, we were taken to…our trailer!
As soon as I saw my name on the door, it got real. My stomach was still cramping, and my nerves were hitting me hard. The evil voice within me (The Perfectionist) was berating me for my nerves. She wanted me to feel stupid and small. She wasn’t helping. Thank goodness that there was hot green tea at the Craft Services table to soothe my irritated throat and calm my stomach a bit.
Julie and I wandered the area, stumbled onto the set for NBC’s The Good Place, and took some fun pictures. Julie was a godsend. What I didn’t know at the time was that Julie was also a psychic sponge – she was absorbing my nerves and projecting nothing but calm. I cherish her for this.
At noon, it was hair and makeup time. Michelle and Francine made me feel fabulous!
I never have the patience to curl my hair, so that was a nice deviation to a more modern look for me. Also, the makeup was very subtle and natural. It wasn’t at all pancake-y.
Okay, so I’m made-up, dressed, and waiting in my trailer to be called to the set. I had two choices at that point: totally freak out or get my Carly Simon on.
I opted for Carly.
One of my favorite movies is Working Girl. It is a rom-com from the ’80s starring Melanie Griffith and Harrison Ford. Working Girl is a story of gumption and guts in Corporate America. AND, it contains my life’s theme song: Let the River Run by Carly Simon.
I have played this song in my brain’s jukebox during key life events:
- Walking into my first grad school class
- Pulling into the parking deck at my first job
- Standing in front of a group of grad students who hilariously thought I was their professor
- Thanking my boss for the offer of a promotion but that I was quitting my job instead
- Facing my first client as an independent consultant
In my trailer, I pulled the song up on YouTube and let Carly motivate me. I danced around the trailer and did *not* ruin my makeup even with my glistening eyes. But, the lyrics had never meant so much to me as they did that day.
I’m trembling right now writing this. It was a powerful moment.
And then it was time to go on set.
Time became asynchronous at that point. I felt like I was teleporting from one place to another. Additionally, people were rapidly appearing then disappearing in front of my face. I wondered whether I was actually on the set of Doctor Who.
I teleported from my trailer to the circular rug in the Home & Family house/set.
POOF! Someone was in front of me hooking up my microphone.
ZOOM! I’m in another room surrounded by cameras.
POOF! My makeup artist is touching up my powder.
Psst! If you click the image above, you can watch the six-minute segment!
After the interview concluded and the crew began to hustle to the next set, hosts Cameron and Debbie told me that I’d done a great job. They made me feel so happy with my performance. Everyone on the set had been so kind to us all day. I suppose that they know that when guests feel at home, the show will be the better for it.
POOF! I’m on the back porch of the set. We are filming a video for Instagram…
ZOOM! I’m in my trailer packing up.
POOF! Julie and I are in a golf cart heading for the exit. Somehow, it’s 2:30 in the afternoon.
As time returned to a normal progression, The Perfectionist started growling. She wanted me to microanalyze my performance. When I refused to feel anything other than proud of myself, she started whispering that “This wasn’t that big of a deal. It won’t make any difference in your success.” I told her to shut up. She’s still pouting in the corner.
Are there things I’d do differently? Of course. BUT! For my first experience on national TV, I am happy with the performance that I gave. I doubt anyone but Julie knew I’d been up all night dry heaving.
I was there to promote my Seraphina. This storybook is the best thing I have ever done in my professional life. I am so proud of it. The message is important, the artwork is frame-worthy, and I released my inner poet. I couldn’t have been happier to have an opportunity to share a message of life balance with the hundreds of thousands of fans of Home & Family.
I hope I get to do interviews like that again. I hope that Seraphina Does Everything is the first of many storybooks I will author.
I’m living a dream. Even with the trembling and shaking, it is a wonderful dream.
In today's world, kids are often as over committed as adults. Seraphina does EVERYTHING! helps children, and the adults who love them, understand that life isn't all about doing. It's also about being!
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.
I’m so happy for you Melissa! The interview is fantastic. I know your opportunities and success will continue to grow. Blessings for all you have in front of you and endeavor to do!
Thank you, Diana.
Wow Melissa, what an inspiration you are to me! I will be ordering your book from Starline Books in Chattanooga ASAP!
Thanks, Ruth! Cheers to your support for independent book sellers. ~Melissa
Congratulations Melissa. I’m so happy for you and I look forward to reading “Seraphina Does Everything” to my grandchildren.
Woo-hoo, Melissa — you are amazing, and I am so happy for you!
Treasure every moment as you bless many people with your insights and encouragement.
Thank you for your transparency in this post. You are a strong, talented and inspiring woman! I will be watching for this to air on the Hallmark Channel and then I will tell all my friends that I know a real STAR!!! I am proud of you. You do things with excellence. What a role model you are! Thank you for the many hours you worked with me in my professional life. Blessings to you and your family.
Thank you, Brenda. The show has already aired. If you would like to watch the segment, scroll up to the image with the triangle in the middle of it. Click there and the video should open in a new browser window. Thanks for your support! ~Melissa
WOW! Thanks for sharing your story about the interview and for posting the actual interview. You were absolutely terrific! (Should I saw “awesome?) Can’t wait to get the book!
We miss you here in Chattanooga!
Thanks, Ben. I miss my friends and clients at Southern Adventist, too!
What a great story and a great lesson Melissa! Thanks so much for sharing it with such honesty and vulnerability!
High five, Melissa! Great interview, great article, and thanks for sharing your vulnerability.
Melissa, your presence is transparent and purposeful and delightful, your work is IMPORTANT, and through your mindful choices, you empower the lives you touch. We were so moved by your sharing of this story lesson with the children and adults at church. Thank you!
Oh, Rhonda. Thank you. I have printed out your comment, placed it by my computer keyboard, and will use it as a daily affirmation for the next several days. I really appreciate it. ~Melissa
Congratulations! Hope to see much more of you on national television talking about your good work.