Call Me Crazy, But . . .

I’m starting another Blog!

Yes, I know, I’m insane, but not really. The other day a college put out a call for on-line resumes and portfolios for theatre artists interested in doing some freelance work for the coming academic year. I sort of have something set up at LinkedIn and Behance, and I added some things and perfected them to the best of my ability before sending off an e-mail.

[Should I be worried that I never got a reply back? Hm, let it go, Lisa . . . let it go.]

I was not completely satisfied, however, with the results. The format doesn’t say much about me. It doesn’t integrate all the complexities of the work that I do. So, I knew that I wanted a better on-line portfolio somehow.

Yesterday, at a fun and fabulous Memorial Day barbeque, somehow we got into discussing job searches and the need for an on-line portfolio. The discussion was really about one of my former students who designed the fabulous costumes for the production of Peggy the Pint-Sized Pirate presented by my Theatre for Young Audience class a few weeks ago.

You’ve got to love the baby sea monster.

Bethany said, “I know, I know, I have to start some sort of website.”

One of her friends said, “Use WordPress, its easy and has a lot of great options for portfolios.”

Ding Ding Ding!


Now why didn’t I think of that?

Now the advantage to this is that I don’t intend for this new blog to become a daily habit, or to replace Woman Wielding Words. Once I get it up to date (which may take me a while) I will only update it to add new projects and so on. It will be a blog to keep my work/creative history in order, but not a blog filled with as much randomness as this blog.

I’m still debating on whether or not I should enable comments on that blog. What do you think?

Don’t worry, I don’t expect you all to follow me over there or anything, but I would love feedback if you are interested. Of course, right now it is in the beginning stages so there is not much to see, but if you feel like wandering over I’d love to see you at The Creative Portfolio of Lisa Kramer

Just don’t call me crazy! 😉

Celebrating Fabulous Friends

I have met some amazing people in my life. Maybe when I met them they weren’t yet amazing, but they went on to do and create amazing things. Yesterday I thought I would write a post about just  one of these amazing people. But this morning, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from a friend in Australia who I haven’t seen since I moved from Japan almost 17 years ago. We kept in touch for a while, but then lost touch as my life took me to multiple locations and I would forget to update everyone as to how to find me. Thanks to Facebook, LinkedIn and other sources, it is much easier to relocate lost friends nowadays, and I am lucky. Jacquie and her husband David fall into the list of amazing people. So today I am going to celebrate some of the amazing people I have met in my life, and highlight what makes them amazing. (I wonder how many times I can use the word amazing in one post?)

Cindy Baer at Work. Image stolen from her Facebook page.

Cindy Baer at Work. Image stolen from her Facebook page.

The woman who first inspired this post is Cindy Baer. Cindy was a friend from high school drama club. I don’t recall hanging out much with her, and we weren’t best friends (I’m not even sure I had a best friend) but drama tended to bring a lot of people together in fabulous ways. Cindy is amazing for so many things. She just wrapped a new movie called Odd Brodsky that she c0-wrote with her husband Matthew Irving as well as directed. (Side note–My picture might end up in the movie as I donated a little to getting it made).  But she doesn’t just make movies, which is amazing enough, she also formed a non-profit organization called Patron of the Arts (POTA) whose primary mission is “to help emerging filmmakers and artists fund art & film projects and find audiences.” Cindy also produced and directed the award-winning film Purgatory House which deals with real-life issues faced by teens today. Cindy’s work always has a message, and she is a passionate believer in using arts to change the world. She is an amazing woman. Cindy’s story gives me hope that with hard work I too can achieve my dreams. Oh, and for all you Halloween lovers out there, check out this trailer for Lizzie the Movie which includes Cindy as Lizzy Borden herself . . . creepy.

I met Jacquie Cheetham and her husband David when we all taught English at a conversation school in Okayama Japan. They were an amazing couple committed to making the world a better place. From teaching English in Japan, they both moved on to Social Work and working for and with people who don’t have easy lives.When I was working on my doctorate, they had encouraged me to do a project in Bosnia, using theater to help bring back a sense of hope, because they were there at the time (or at least David was). I wanted to do it, but because of academic politics and other issues that project never came to fruition. Jacquie has focused on helping battered women, and I admire her for this. While we have lost touch, so I’m not sure exactly what they are doing these days (I’m waiting for her to accept my Facebook friend request so that I can fill in the details) I have always held this couple in my mind as two of the truly good amazing people in this world. They represent what humans can do, if they only think with love, not hate.

Kathy and Sara

You’ve all met this woman, if only vicariously through our dear friend Kathy’s wonderful blog. But I now have the honor of saying that I met Sara live and in person. I can’t do justice to the amazing things that both Kathy and Sara have done. Sara has truly committed her life to helping in places many people fear to tread. Even though we only spent a short time together, I feel so lucky to count both of these inspirational women as friends. I feel inspired by who they are and what they do. Two truly amazing people. Kathy can do a better job sharing with you some of their experiences, but I had to include them here, because I realize that I have met amazing people at every turn in my life. I’m really lucky that way.

The list could go on and on and on, but perhaps I will reserve more accolades for a later date. Now, I have a duty to fulfill. Sandi at Ahhsome BOO’ed me today, as you can see by the fabulous addition to my sidebar, so I would like to BOO a few people too:

You have now officially been Boo-ed, pass it on if you feel like it. No pressure.

This Time It’s Different, Coming Home to the Unknown

“Welcome home, everyone,” I said into the walkie-talkie as we crossed over the border of Massachusetts.

Welcome home. Welcome home. The words echoed in my head, each time resonating with new meanings and new messages until the words became meaningless.

After all, I am still trying to understand what home means to me.

Of course, this is literally coming home, since I grew up in MA, and only moved away from the state after college when I began my adventures teaching English in Japan. (Of course, there was one summer during college when I lived in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but I’m not sure that counts).

When I left it all those years ago, I never thought I’d be back. Not that I made a conscious decision never to return to Massachusetts, but that I thought life would continue to lead me in all sorts of directions. I’m not sure where I thought I would end up. I had dreams of New York City, or perhaps London or Paris. I had thoughts of making it big in Los Angeles or perhaps becoming a politician (eek!) and living in Washington, DC. I had a brief thought of living in Boston as well, and working for some editing company.

The truth is that I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted to be. And I still don’t.

Life has taken me on an unexpected journey, making me land in places I never even considered. This return home  is merely another stop in the journey, but a stop that represents a full circle in many ways.

Driving into Massachusetts, then, contains levels of familiarity mixed in with something new and something completely different. What is the difference? Well, it is the unknown.

For the most part, whenever I have moved someplace, I already had work lined up or some clear plan. The exception to that was when I had just graduated with my MFA in directing and decided to move in with Nathan who lived and taught in Edwardsville, IL outside of St. Louis. I had no job, no clear plan of what I wanted to do, and no clue how to find something. I remember going into a deep depression as I struggled to find work and figure out how to use the degree that I had fought to earn, in a kind of ugly battle that was the beginning of my disillusionment with academia and with certain aspects of the theater world. Eventually, however, I found myself working with the International Economics Society as kind of a general office worker, and with the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in St. Louis as a part-time House Manager, while I tried to find my way into the theater scene as a director. I learned a lot from those experiences, including the fact that I don’t really like the drudgery of working in an office from 9-5. My experiences there led to the next decisions of my life which eventually brought me to where I am today.

But where am I? I am back in the same position I was then, as we made the move for Nathan’s work and I don’t have any specific work lined up until the spring (when the University Nathan is working for has offered me a class).  I’m back in the unknown, not sure where or how to start looking. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

But this time it is different. I may be unsure of what I want to do, or how to go about doing it, but I carry with me some valuable pieces to help me along the way. I’m not talking about the belongings that we lugged with us across the country (not even this computer which is my lifeline in so many ways). No, I carry with me the following:

  • Knowledge and experience: I have proven to myself time and time again that I can achieve any project set in front of me, and that I am capable of gaining the knowledge I need in order to face all challenges successfully.
  • Words: I am a writer. I write. I may not have made a lot of money out of it, but I have the talent and ability to write, and that is a valuable thing to have.
  • Diversity. I am a walking advertisement in all aspects of diversity. I have diverse skills that can help in many positions. I have an open mind to diverse possibilities. Heck, even my family represents diversity, with a husband who is Japanese/Korean American and a daughter who is, then, a Japanese/Korean/Jew. The ability to communicate and embrace diversity in our world is a valuable skill to have, and I believe I have it.

So what does any of this mean? I still don’t know, but I do know this time it’s different. I may be facing the unknown yet again, and be as clueless as I was when I left my MFA program so many years ago. But I will not allow that to bring me down. I will create a path and a life that I love, so that perhaps coming back to Massachusetts will really feel like coming home.


Advertising Self

Me for Sale

Our world runs on advertising. Homes for sale or rent, products to sell,  places to visit, services . . . we all find them through advertisements.

But advertising, as I was reminded quite painfully yesterday, can be false. (Where do people think of these scams?)

I’ve been thinking a lot about advertising lately, as I try to figure out how best to move forward into the next adventure of my life. I have to advertise myself. I have to advocate for myself as well. I have to promote and sell myself, and I simply don’t know how. I can do it for other people really well, but when it comes to self-promotion or self-advertising I feel out of my depth.

The above image is just a bit of silliness that I put together when I thought about this weeks “Weekend Theme” from Viewfromtheside’s Blog. Advertising plays such a crucial and somewhat manipulative role in our society that it is something worth thinking about.

The problem, for me at least, is that I cannot advertise falsely–especially when it comes to promoting myself. But there are so many people out there who have mastered the art of marketing themselves gloriously. I’m not saying they are all guilty of false advertising, but somehow I haven’t found the way that markets ME to the best of my ability.

Maybe I need to hire myself an advertising agency. But that requires something that I don’t have–$$$. Ah, the vicious circles of life.

How do you promote yourself?

The Power of Social Media, College Networks, and Support Systems

I have made a discovery!

In my panic of the past few days as I struggle to figure out how to move a family from Kansas to Massachusetts in less than a month without having to give up my dog babies, I have tried to expand my search for both housing and work. I announced the move on Facebook. I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile. I joined an alumnae group for Smith College on LinkedIn. And I’ve written posts here.

An amazing thing has started to happen. No, I haven’t found a place to live or a house yet, but suddenly I feel less alone. First came the wonderful and supportive comments on my posts here. Then came e-mails from the alumnae group–one from the CDO at Smith offering to help me find work, and one from a Smithie who lives in the Worcester area, offering to just help me in any way she can. Then came comments from friends on Facebook offering to hook me up with job possibilities and ask around for housing.

I now have plans for coffee dates and lunch dates (and possibly a tree viewing trip to Maine in the fall). I have a tentative meeting (either on phone or in person) to help find work. I have a job possibility, and two rental possibilities that are a little out of our price range but are better than nothing. I feel like I am building a valuable  support  community that will make this transition smoother and more successful.

I don’t know if I have any blogging buddies in Massachusetts, but I’d love to hear from you if I do. Or anywhere in the North East for that matter, as this network is an important one too.

I always forget the power of networking and the power of admitting that you need help. I tend to think I have to figure it all out on my own, but the world doesn’t really function that way.

“It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. ” Mike Davidson

“The way of the world is meeting people through other people.”  Robert Kerrigan

Really, I shouldn’t be so surprised by this, as I have often written about the connections that make this world such an intricate and interesting web of life.

So, I’d like to say thank you to the miracle of networking, the power of social media, the connections from all of my educational programming, and the wonderful support that people have offered me.

Now if I could only find  a place to live that will let me keep my dogs.

Speeding Back into the Unknown

It looks like I’m back on that speeding roller coaster carrying me on a crazy ride to destinations unknown. While this change was something I’ve been looking for, now that it is here I feel overwhelmed with the speed and the unclear destination at the end. Will I crash into a brick wall? Will I be flung off the track into the icy waters lying below? Will I pull safely into a station and be welcomed with open arms? Only time and the ride will tell.

Okay, time to leave this metaphor behind and be specific.

At the end of August, we are going to leave Kansas and move to Massachusetts as Nathan has accepted a position as technical director at Worcester State University.

There are both positive and negatives to this move, the biggest negative being a pay cut (especially since I don’t know how long it will take me to find work). But, given the insanity of his job in Kansas, and the fact that it has really caused chaos to our marriage and our family (one of the things I haven’t really written about) we decided that this move was something that had more benefits than negatives.

I move back into the unknown, with no clear job, no clear role, and (as of yet) no clear address to move into.  I am starting all over again, and I’m not sure what that means. Despite all the interesting projects I’ve done over this past year, I still have a career path that has so many twists and turns it is almost impossible to decipher.

I don’t know who or what I am anymore. I don’t know how to market myself to  get the job of my dreams, because I’m not sure what that job is.  Here is the description of myself that I put on LinkedIn a long time ago,

Overview: I am a person who takes on challenges and makes them happen. I welcome learning new things that help me achieve goals. I welcome diversity and unusual opportunities. What this has led to is a diverse and complicated career that is hard to pigeonhole. I am looking for more opportunities and projects that will take advantage of my intelligence, desire to learn, creativity, leadership ability, passion and love of language and culture. I am:

• A Theater Artist & Educator: I have worked in theater in numerous roles including director, stage manager, playwright, and designer. I have directed shows for adult audiences and for child audiences. I teach classes to children and adults. I have collaborated on new works. I am passionate about the power of theater to change lives. I am looking for opportunities to collaborate on interesting and meaningful creative projects.

• An Interdisciplinary Educator: In addition to teaching in college theater departments and arts programs, I have taught in other disciplines, including: writing (composition classes), education, library research, general studies and honors programming. I’ve developed interdisciplinary classes that incorporate theater with other disciplines. I also have mentored students in a variety of ways. I am looking for opportunities that allow me to share my love of teaching and mentoring in creative ways.

• Writer: I write. I’ve written everything from a doctoral dissertation to articles for children; grant applications to a novel for young adults (as yet unpublished); blog entries to journal articles. I am as passionate about writing as I am about theater and education. I am looking for opportunities to write, in any form.

• Manager: I have worked as a stage manager, house manager, festival coordinator, and producer. I have helped start three theater companies and organized volunteers for many events. I am looking for opportunities that allow me to combine my organization skills with my creativity

As you can see, I am a complex individual. But, where this will take me, I have yet to see.

All I know is that here I go . . .

Anyone have suggestions of where to go from here?

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