Returning to the Run-On (100WCGU)

It’s been a while since I contributed to Julia’s 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups, but this week I couldn’t resist trying to make a sentence that represents some of the craziness in my life at the moment. Enjoy and visit other people’s contributions at Julia’s Place.

As the nights become cooler, the leaves begin to change color, crisp smells stimulate and scintillate and September brings with it the need for returning to a routine, I wonder “what routine” in a wandering minstrel life filled with: work here, work there, project here, project there, dream here, dream there, constant movement between point A and point B, teach here in the morning, teach in another state three hours later,  put on the chauffeur cap in the afternoon for dance classes, the parent cap to supervise homework, in between find moments to exercise to write to dream, and to pursue future possibilities.

Yesterday I Began a Journey (100 WCGU)

This weeks 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups asks us to include …. the line was drawn ….. I have combined that with a little personal journey that I am on, as well as a foray into poetry (as I sometimes do). For those of you only interested in the quick read I offer the poem/challenge first, but am following it up with an explanation for anyone who wants to know more.

Yesterday I Began a Journey

Yesterday I began a journey
where the line was drawn between
who I am and who I want to be.

 My butterfly soul
danced a dance of new beginnings
around the strength found in the turtle and the moon

Lessons from people connected to the earth
tightened the bond between
mother and daughter
butterfly and turtle
creativity and hope.

Yesterday I began a journey
which will involve the beating 
of my heart drum
and the sound of thunder
dancing over the waves.

Yesterday I began a journey
with laughter, adventure, love and joy.
Today, the journey continues in words.

Yesterday I began a journey.

 

 The Explanation

Yesterday Sarah and I went on a spontaneous Girls’ Day adventure with my new friend (and I believe spiritual mentor)  Terry to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sioux Falls During a Hot Dry Summer

Part of the adventure involved Sarah’s experiencing her first pedicure after watching me get one. It was a silly, fun, mother/daughter bonding experience.

Sarah tried to resist the giggles as her feet got tickled and massaged.

But it was almost impossible to stop laughing.

Especially when your toes are being painted purple while you wear silly shoes.

Lovely mother and daughter feet.

After our feet were fabulous, we went to downtown Sioux Falls to eat lunch. We ended up at Chedd’s, a place for gourmet grilled cheese. Then (once we were able to put real shoes back on) we wandered through some of the fabulous stores on Phillips Street. The first place we wandered into was The Prairie Star Gallery, which has the most beautiful, spiritual and amazing collections of indigenous art I’ve ever seen. The owner shared stories with us of her journey as well as the meaning behind some artifacts. I played and heard the song of a drum so deep and beautiful it still resonates in chest.  She told us about the legends of turtles, who represent (in some traditions) women and birth and the moon . Every turtle shell has 13 sections, which represent the 13 moons of the year. Along the edge of their shell are 28 segments, the time between each moon. Women would use turtle shells to keep track of their menstrual cycles.

I ended up buying a gorgeous children’s book because of the draw of this legend.

I’ve linked the image to the Amazon book description.

As I was thinking about turtles, and the journey, and indigenous legends and everything else, I kept pondering my recent butterfly revelations. I did a little web research and found this lovely legend:

An Indian Butterfly Legend

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.

Since they make no sound, they can’t tell the wish
to anyone but the Great Spirit.

So by making the wish and releasing the butterfly
it will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

Author Unknown

All of these images and ideas are merging together into possibilities for me. Right now my mind is dancing with possibilities like:

  • an art project which will join these powerful images
  • a theatre production that shares some legends, all surrounding the shell of a turtle
  • perhaps a puppet play
  •  . . .

So you see, yesterday I really began a journey into possibility, spirituality and hope.

Today I Declare

Today is my independence day! I am tired of living up to the rules and perceptions of the world around me and losing myself along the way. I am tired of being “good ole’ reliable” Lisa, there to pick up the pieces, lend a hand, give good advice, solve the problem, and be on duty 24-7, while everyone else does whatever they want to do, regardless of anyone else. I am tired of being introduced only as, “someone who helps us out here” or “the wife of our a Technical Director” or “Sarah’s Mom.” I am tired of not having an identity of my own. So today I declare my personal independence. I hold these truths to be self-evident, that I am created equal, that I too am  endowed . . . with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  What does this mean? It means that from this day forward I will:

  • Give myself permission to write without guilt, even if it means closing my door or escaping to find a place to write on my own.
  • Let my family make their own mistakes without any interference from me.
  • Pursue projects and work that makes me feel fulfilled, even if it means that it cuts into the time I spend with my family.
  • Put myself first for at least one hour each day.
  • Insist that once in a while someone else must make a sacrifice, not just me.

Do I sound selfish? Perhaps, but I cannot continue to live my life feeling like I am only around to help others follow their dreams. I have every right to pursue dreams of my own. I am not doing anyone any favors, least of all my daughter, by allowing myself to be considered as a supporting player in my own life. So today I declare that it is my inalienable right to reach for the stars. If I crash and burn, at least I will look back on my life as one where I tried, I journeyed, and I never gave up on myself.

I intend to make it a life lived to the fullest.  I intend to find joy in every step of the journey. I want to look back and say, “I’m glad I lived the life I lived, and I am proud of who I am.”  If I can do that for myself, I can teach that to my daughter. If I can do that for myself, I will be the person I want to be.

 

 

 

 

Searching for an Image

Yesterday I began a new journey.

I literally drove all day, a round trip to Minneapolis to pick up a guest director at the airport and bring her back to the lot. That’s about 7 hours of driving. On the way up, I listened to past podcasts of Pop Culture Happy Hour as well as a little Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. You’ve got to love those NPR shows.

On one of the PCHH podcasts they discussed “road trip” movies and “quest” movies, trying to differentiate between them and clarify what makes a good movie. As I listened, I thought about my life as a road trip or my life as a quest. I have long been living the journey of my life, without having a clear destination. But, perhaps, my quest is an authentic life, and for me much of that authenticity comes from the journey.

That was stage one of this new journey.

Stage two came after I met the lovely person I went to pick up. Long car drives with strangers can be awkward, unless you find an instant connection, and I feel like we did. Terry lives the life I once dreamed of living, but I did not find myself jealous of that fact. Instead I found a woman full of wisdom, kindness and understanding.

She shared with me a story of a time when she kept seeing an image in her mind. That image guided her, with the help of someone else, to a deeper understanding and centering. Listening to her story made me resonate with the truth, the honesty, and a yearning inside myself to find and understand my own images.

I feel like I am taking a few steps on a new journey into my own inner truth. I only hope that I do not get lost along the way. Somehow, though, I feel like a wonderful journey has just begun.

 

I Miss Making Magic

I found myself sitting in the theater earlier, watching the bustle on stage–the carpenters added some finishing touches, the electricians fixed lights and added practicals, the props person decorated the set–and I found tears building behind my eyes and sneaking a trail down my cheeks.

A scene from GETTING OUT, a play I directed years ago when the magic was strong.

I miss making the magic of theatre. I have always loved tech. I love watching the disparate elements of a show, with all the work behind them, coming together to make the magical whole that the audience sees. But lately, between politics and lack of support the competition and the frustration, I’ve lost some of that joy. I miss working on a challenging project and creating a supportive company of cast and technicians who all feel the joy and the love of the work.

The opening scene of CLOUD 9, another play I loved directing, especially because it pushed buttons and promoted discussion.

I am surrounded by people doing that right now, but I am disconnected and so the sadness builds.

I yearn for a project that I truly believe in, and for the feeling of creating something that has meaning and touches audience and participants in some way.

Not a performance, but a powerful moment of theatre and connection, with me leading activities with the Roma.

As confused as I have been lately, my tears today have shown me that I am not yet done with theatre, I just have to find a new way to make it my home.

Walking as Meditation

I sat at the bottom of the driveway waiting for the bus to pick Sarah up, listening as she talked to Nathan on the cell phone. A slug made its slimy passage across the driveway behind me, so Sarah kept squirming and checking to make sure it wasn’t coming our way. I suddenly became aware of the peacefulness of the moment: the cool morning air carrying faint summer scents, the warmth of the early morning sun caressing my skin.

The inner voice inside me whispered, “Time to take a walk.”

I went inside, put on some sunscreen, grabbed my wrist weights and began walking. I felt the rhythm of my footsteps, the beating of my heart, the sound of my breath. The road varied between manicured lawns, perfect gardens, and expanses of weeds and wilderness in its wide variety of rich green speckled with red berries, white flowers, purple buds.

I walked and I thought and I found a moment of clarity inside myself. Something shifted and I know that I will find my path, as long as I keep walking, listening, feeling, breathing, and dreaming.

Now the clouds have rolled in and the sky feels heavy. That type of weather has weighed on my heart lately, making me feel doubt, depression, and dismay. But today, something has changed, and I watch the wind blow through the trees sending me a message of hope and possibility.

Today I walked into peace.

Dancing Through Life One Tea at a Time

I walked into a lovely home filled with chattering women. The kettle whistled on the stove, and the table in another room practically groaned under the weight of finger sandwiches and decadent pastries.

We were celebrating another generation, Smith College style.

Those were the days. The women of Smith College's Morris House gather for a photo in the room we always had tea. I'm in the front row. Can you find me?

Every year, just before nervous high school seniors need to make their final college decisions, active Smith clubs around the country hold teas for accepted students, inviting alumnae from the area to come and encourage these young women who might still be undecided, or reinforce the “rightness” of their choice.

This is the first Smith alumnae event I have attended in a while, and I found myself in a surreal reality of my own making. I went because I need to meet more people in the area. I went because I need to begin to network better. I went because I believe that my Smith education was indeed a great one (even though there are some things I would change). I went because I yearn to connect (in person) with intelligent women who support each others goals.

I found all that there.

But, I also suddenly faced the fact that I have been out of college for a really long time. Except for two much older women (who I believe graduated in the late 50s or 60s) I was one of the oldest alumnae there. I was also one of the only newbies to the alumnae group, so of course everyone asked for my story. Everyone wanted to know what I do. Everyone was interested in why I had moved to this part of Massachusetts.

Anyone who has been following my blog for any time knows that I cannot answer any of those questions easily.

I found myself floundering. Am I theatre artist? Am I an educator? Am I a writer? Am I a stay at home Mom?

With the accepted students, I was okay, sharing memories of Smith days past or able to makes some suggestions based on my experience teaching first year students. I am a good mentor, I know that.

But, discussing my life with alumnae left me sputtering like a slowly deflating balloon.

I woke up this morning asking myself WHY?

  • Why am I so afraid to say I am a writer, and that I am actually writing books?
  • Why do I only associate success with a paycheck?
  • Why do I dismiss all of the really cool things I’ve done in my life as meaningless because I don’t have a current  title, or the home I expected, or the life I thought I would?
  • Why do I find it so hard to trust myself?
  • Why do I doubt myself so much?
  • Why can’t I accept that I am a talented, intelligent, creative individual that has a lot to offer this world, even if I haven’t figured out the method of that offering yet?

As often happens, subtle messages from the universe began to creep into my consciousness in answer to my questions. Or maybe I began looking for answers and interpreting the world around me in terms of my questions.  I can’t be sure.

Whichever it is, as I sat in my local coffee shop inhaling a late breakfast (after having to do a fasting blood test this morning) and staring at my computer screen, the universe began speaking.

First I noticed a Facebook post from a very spiritual person that I follow of a song that I have always loved. I smiled when I saw it, but being in a public place without earphones, I didn’t click the video. However, as you will see, it plays a role in me even writing this post.

Stay tuned . . .

Some of the messages, as they so often do, came from the wonderful source of inspiration that is found in the blogosphere. Comments made on my recent posts about fighting inner enemies and the line between success and failure made me think about how many supportive people exist in this universe, despite the fact that I have had the dubious joy of meeting with so many truly selfish people in recent years. Those people lie behind some of my why questions. But, the supportive and insightful comments I have received recently made me ask new whys:

  • Why have I given those people so much power over who I am now?
  • Why can’t I move beyond the hurt and prove that I am worthy?

Then, I read  4AMWriter’s post about how being creative, especially writing, helps ground her in this post called “Replenishing is Drinking.” Reading her post made me realize that I thrive in creative projects. The more projects I have that I believe in, the more balls I can keep juggling in the air.  I do not thrive in sameness, in mundane day to day tasks that seem to have no purpose beyond keeping me busy. I work best solving problems, facing challenges, and working on projects that somehow make a difference. Perhaps, I realized, I don’t see my WIPs as making a difference, in a world full of people striving to become writers and striving to publish.

I sat and sipped my tea, thinking about why I want to write these stories, and if they do have purpose. The answer is yes. Both stories share, through fictionalized worlds, my questioning of certain social issues that make me fearful for the future of our world. Whether or not these stories ever get seen in a broader sense, they are the stories I need to write to find my path through these issues that bother me so much.

I began to write.  I began to explore one of the characters that I need to understand in order to move a story forward. I wrote for two hours, that seemed like minutes. I wrote almost 800 words, that seemed like volumes.

Then I started on this post.

Of course, the universe has a sense of humor, and my computer battery began to die. So, I deserted the post and headed into the gray rainy day to return home.

When we all leave the house, we leave the radio on for the dogs, as that helps them (sometimes) from their more mischievous instincts. When the music doesn’t play, chaos reins.

The first song I heard as I got settled at home was the same song I saw on Facebook this morning. A song which always reminded me that life is magical, as long as you remember to dance.

So my friends, I know that my life will always be wonderful, as long as I keep dancing, keep dreaming, and keep having warm cups of tea. I don’t have to have all the answers right now, I just have to keep asking questions.

That’s a pretty good thing to know.

Update:

I barely get this post posted when another message from the blogosphere reaches my mailbox. Please read “How to Build Strong Foundations Underneath Your Dreams”, a post that speaks the truth.

Seeking Strength

“Your living isn’t determined by what life brings to you as it is by the attitude you bring to your life.” (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Precarious piles
of unbalanced worries
fragile and threatening.
Be cautious
Slowly you make your way through
One step at a time
before
everything
topples
burying you beneath
things you cannot change
dreams you have not found
worries that belong to you
but also someone else.
A mind lost
A lump found
an expense building
a government crumbling
a world gone mad
A hope–
empty
A future–
unsure.
Yet at the base of the pile
Underneath the wispy papers
and the collapsing packages
lies the strength of belief
in yourself
in justice
in dreams
in words.
Sometime your strength wavers
Yet it cannot fade. It lies within you,
and is the foundation for all. The pile will not fall.

Image by Roger Boulay

Tilting at Windmills or The Search for True Heroes

“So many misconceptions surround the notion of heroism. Far too many categorize a hero as a champion on the battlefield, a commander of legions, a master of rare talent or ability. Granted, there have been heroes who fit those descriptions. But many men of great evil as well. Heed me. A hero sacrifices for the greater good. A hero is true to his or her conscience. In short, heroism means doing the right thing regardless of the consequences. Although any person could fit that description, very few do.” (Brandon Mull, Beyonders: A World Without Heroes, 110)

Those words resonated with me as I was re-reading Beyonders yesterday in preparation for reading the second book in the series.  I love this description of heroism, because it suggests that regular people can accomplish great things, if they do it for the right reasons.

It sometimes feels like, we live in a world lacking in heroes. I know, there are plenty of heroes that fit the misconceived description. There are even a few heroes that “do the right thing regardless of the consequences” but they are hard to find amidst all the cacophony of causes and complaints that barrage us daily.

I find myself wanting to hide under the covers because I feel like I am constantly tilting at windmills.

But perhaps a true hero keeps tilting at the windmills, even when faced with the impossibility of success.

Perhaps I have been looking for heroes in the wrong places . . . I’ve been looking for the ones that shout the loudest and make themselves known. But, when I think about it, the most heroic people I know are the quiet heroes. The ones who fight battles without need for recognition. The ones who seek to make change by setting good examples and speaking quiet truths. I’ve met teacher heroes and blogging heroes, I’ve met single mother heroes and artist heroes. I’ve met married heroes and single heroes. Heroic people are everywhere, but they don’t always get noticed in the middle of the chaos and the noise.

I believe it is time for me to, once again, celebrate the quiet heroes I’ve met in this world, because through them I honestly believe that the world can be a better place.  I’ve written about some of them in previous posts:

But I feel the need to find more of these quiet heroes in our world.

Who are the heroes in your life? Who do you admire for the way they approach the world?

 Does anyone want to tilt at windmills with me?

Seeking the Truth Inside Yourself

“She is without any need to please, any need to act, or look, or be a certain way. It’s as if she’s done with that, and rests now in the solid center of herself, having arrived at her own condensed truth. She is herself. And that is all.” (Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Kidd Traveling with Pomegranates)

“As far as I’m concerned, people who think they fear failure have got it wrong. They really fear success. If you truly feared failure, you’d be very successful.” (Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What it Was.)

The journey I began when I first started writing this blog has taken me in surprising directions, and I am still travelling.  I’m not just talking about the physical realities of my journey, with moves from Colorado to Kansas to Massachusetts including stops and pauses along the way: Okoboji, IA; Seattle, WA; Lexington, KY; Slovakia. These, of course, are part of my journey, but my inner journey has traversed millions and millions of miles and I am only beginning to discover what it all means.

Yesterday, as I was spending a relaxing day hanging out with Sarah in a bookstore, I found myself journaling in response to a prompt in Barbara Sher’s book. While I haven’t done all the activities she suggests, I have been reading a lot of books like her in the hopes that I could clarify for myself what goals and dreams I truly want to embrace. As I wrote in my journal yesterday, I came one step closer to my truth, even though I can’t label it with a traditional sounding career name.

Actually, I’m not even sure I’m ready to put this into words. So instead I will fill today’s post with a few images that, added all together, somehow represent the me that I am on my way to becoming.

Black Virgin of Rocamadour

Goddess Grants the Rebirth of Japan

The journey has just begun, where will it lead?

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