Moving Through the Sadness

A dream swallows me
images with no meaning
but the sense of being trapped
in a home that is not my own
without any dreams to move me forward . . .A rainy day

into tomorrow. I pull myself awake
yearning to remain in
the oblivion of sleep
but terrified by the images that
haunt me . . .

into my waking hours.
I blink awake
and hug my daughter
in desperation and love
looking for answers she does not have.
She doesn’t even understand the questions . . .

I write in my Morning Pages
filled with words I’ll never share
some of hope
some of fear
some of the sadness I carry with me . . .

out into the living room
to be greeted by a flowerDad's flower.
that represents Dad
the man I miss
the man I mourn
the man who was . . .

the man who I never really knew.
I wonder what my daughter knows of me.
What mark will I leave behind
for future generations unknown?
Will my life pass as a blink
with nothing to show but the memories . . .

found in a flower?
I move through the day,
searching through the hope
and find a dream
written by two idiots
that reminds me that all that  really matters . . .

is the journey, not the destination.

Moving Toward Possibility

 

 

True Confessions of a Fearful Artist

Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

I sit in a coffee shop feeling my heart beat as I try to find a sense of calm. In a little over an hour I will be at an interview for a directing job. Just a small college show, but my fears overwhelm me and I feel panic building.

What am I afraid of?

Once upon a time I believed I would be a famous director.  I thought I had the talent and vision to create powerful and meaningful theatrical experiences for even novice theatre-goers. Or, at least that’s what I tricked myself into thinking.

The truth is that my doubts ate away at me. That little inner critic took control and won. I didn’t have the courage to pursue my dream fully and I let the nay-sayers and the cruel manipulators who wanted to keep themselves on top push me down. I lost faith in my ability. I lost faith in my talent and knowledge. I lost faith in myself.

I still got directing jobs, though.  Usually through somebody else’s recommendation. Actually, that’s how I get most of my jobs of any type, through a connection or a recommendation–rarely through an actual interview?

What does that say about me?

Since moving back to Massachusetts, I’ve seen plenty of directing jobs, although most of them were near Boston. I used the hour drive (without traffic) as an excuse not to apply. You know . . . rehearsals would start around 6 or so which means I would have to leave by 4:30 at the latest to be sure I’d get there and wouldn’t have any time to see Sarah, etc. etc. etc.

But really what held me back from applying was fear.

Then this job came up, and the excuse didn’t stand. This University is 15 minutes from my house, without traffic. The play is quirky and interesting, written by a woman and with strong female characters. It relies heavily on movement, music, and, I believe light. In other words, all the things I love.

No excuses. I had to apply. I didn’t even let myself stop and think. I sent in my resume as soon as I saw the ad, even before I’d read the play. If I had procrastinated, the inner critic would have found another excuse for me to run away and hide in fear.

Which brings me to this moment of nervous tension building.

But here’s the interesting thing, since I started writing this post, suddenly my fears are beginning to calm. It’s as if words are my meditation. By allowing myself to blog, to share my words in a public sphere, I have slowly learned to be brave about all my artistic endeavors. The inner critic doesn’t have as much control anymore.

I can, and will, go into this interview knowing that they want me to succeed. They want to find the director who will be the best match for this project.  I believe that could be me, but if for some reason they disagree that isn’t a reflection of myself or my talent.

Sometimes what it really comes down to is personalities.

I no longer have the dream of becoming a famous director. I have other dreams trying to make themselves knows–writing and publishing novels; developing theatre for social change projects; becoming a successful arts advocate in some way; and other dreams that I have yet to put into words. Directing is a part of my life that I’m not willing to give up completely, but it is not the guiding light to my creative soul. Still, I think I need to confront this fear in order to continue to grow into the person I want to be.

Wish me luck.

What are you afraid of as an artist? What do you do to confront those fears?

 

 

 

 

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

The Monster

It loves to creep in when you are sleeping, oozing into your dreams and manipulating them to promote the utmost confusion and terror. Of course, then those dreams wake you up, and the rest of the night becomes one of tossing, turning, insecurity. “To sleep, perchance to dream” but without sleep the dreams hold you hostage>

The monster has been there.

Next it weighs you down in bed, making you tired and unable or willing to get up. But to stay in bed means to sleep more and to sleep means to dream. A vicious cycle.

You wake up and begin to write. Three pages. Morning pages. Pages intended to get the monster out of your head and enable you to face the day with energy and creativity. But the monster grips your pain, making each stroke painful. The monster whispers in your ear, “It’s futile. This won’t help. You can’t escape.”

Somehow you write the pages anyway. The monster hasn’t completely won.

Perhaps you get up, but the monster has not let you out of its grasp. No, it tricks you into thinking that everything is good. That you have defeated it and sent it back into its dark and stinking lair. You try to greet the day with cheer and a positive attitude, shaking off the grip of the monster.

“I’ll make my own breakfast.”

“These eggs taste funny.”

“Do I have to?”

Harmless words that have nothing to do with you. But, the monster twists them, using its power over language so that you hear this instead:

“You don’t know how to cook.”

“Daddy makes better eggs.”

“You are such a nag.”

The monsters niggles and pokes until every moment of being awake is almost as torturous as the moments of the dream. The sun refuses to come out, because it too is afraid of the monster.  Words circle around you and suffocate you. You try to escape in the words of others, but that only allows the monster a new form of attack. “That writer is better than you. You have no original ideas. That person is more popular. . . ” The comparisons that hold you down, away from even trying.

You take a shower, hoping to wash the monster’s slime off of you. To cleanse away the tentacles and claws.

For a moment it works, lulling you into a false sense of security. You feel your breath ease. You begin to relax. Your eyes begin to close, falling into the comfort of a new kind of sleep, after the disturbances of the previous night.

But the monster knows how to get in once you sleep.  The cycle begins again.

I want to get out a torch and slay the monster. This is not the beast of Beauty and the Beast, trapped in the form of monsters by his own ego, but basically innocent. This is not the Hunchback of Notre Dame, hated for a deformity and because of people’s ignorance. This monster is invisible and hurtful. This monster is terrifying and powerful. This monster grips many of us in its grasp and will not let go.

I’m ready to fight it. Lisa the Depression Slayer is on duty now, and she intends to win.

 

When Doubt Creeps In

Devious Doubt
sneaks in the cracks
whispering perilous prose.

“You cannot succeed!
It’s just a dream!
There ‘s no hope, you know.”

Fractious Fear
joins in the fray
after creeping through the door.

“If you try you’ll fail,
they’ll laugh at you
of that I’m very sure.”

Undulating Uncertainty
oozes in,
leaving slime along the floor.

“You’re doomed, my friend
you cannot win.
You’ve never  won before.”

Calm Confidence
speaks up at last
climbing on the bed.

“That’s a lie!
You know it’s true
that she’s been far ahead.”

Hovering Hope
heeds the call
and adds her singing voice.

“Her past supports
her current dream
and she’s made
the perfect choice.”

The monsters loom,
they growl and groan
they try all of their tricks.

But deep inside
Queen Confidence reigns
and she can take their licks.

The path ahead
remains unknown
the future still unclear
but monsters will never
overcome
the dream she holds so dear.

Don’t Wait . . . Create

I had an epiphany in the middle of the night last week.

It was not a religious epiphany or something that can save the world. I awoke from a dream with a feeling of peace and a moment of clarity.

A clear view of the bend in the river from a bridge in Vermont.

I finally understood what has been holding me down from truly pursuing my dream to reinvent myself and create my ideal career. After several days of deepening depression and frustration, I broke through to an understanding of what is wrong and how to begin fixing it.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody when I say that the thing holding me back the most is

I am not talking about fear of the unknown, because my life has really been a series of unknowns. What I seem to fear is following a non-traditional path.

To put it more simply, while I keep saying I want to create my own career that doesn’t fit the mold, I still am using traditional methods to find work, praying each day that I will discover a job description that matches my dream job. I am still looking for a position that someone else creates and I fill.

But, in my moment of epiphany, a phrase sang out loudly in my head:

Don’t Wait . . . Create! I think this will be my motto for my new company, a company of one that I am giving birth to as I type each word.  I know what I have to do now, and I am beginning to plan. I am still scared, because I am wandering into a completely unknown world, where I have a lot to learn. I don’t really know how to start my own business. But, if there is one thing I do know, I always learn what I need to know to achieve what needs to be done. So I cannot let my fear stop me.

What are the next steps? I’m slowly trying to figure that out, and I even wrote a Hub about it (not a brilliant Hub, but at least I wrote something).

I know that one of the first steps I need to take is to really clarify what services I want to offer. I plan to market myself as a Teaching Artist, Theater Artist, Creative Thinker and Writing Consultant who offers individualized programming to meet the needs of my clients. I’m going to provide examples of things that I can do, such as:

  • Work with students of all ages to create a performance on specific themes
  • Use drama techniques in non-theater classrooms to enhance learning of specific subjects.
  • Work with adults with special needs to encourage creativity and enhance interpersonal relations, as well as build confidence.
  • Work with individual groups to find new ways of approaching problems such as bullying or effective ways of communicating.
  • Use creative techniques to enhance writing and encourage students of different skill levels to find their individual voices.

Whew! Those are off the top of my head. Do they work? Do they sound good? Would you hire me?

Here’s where you, my blogging friends come in. I need help! In so many different ways. I think I’m losing my mind. 😉

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money, I just want advice and input. So, if you have any suggestions about how to achieve this momentous goal, please speak up, or even e-mail me.

I also have a fun challenge. I want to make myself an LLC but I don’t want it to be Lisa Kramer, LLC. I want a name for this company, and a logo. Right now the name I am playing with is “Eclectic Approaches” but I am open to any suggestions from this fabulous blogging community that has such a way with words.

Epiphanies come when you least expect them. Last week I was struggling through the dark wood, unable to see past my depression and my fears.That evening, I had hit rock bottom, hiding from my family in my bedroom and curling up in a defeated ball of emotions, followed later by a complete outburst of tears, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear. But the explosion opened the way for messages I needed to hear. I cannot describe the dream or the image that spoke with such clarity. I couldn’t even remember it when it happened. All I now is that right now I feel like I am on a good path.

I wonder where the path leads?

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

The Journey as Sestina

 I felt like writing poetry today, and decided to challenge myself by writing in a form called Sestina. I’ve only used this form once before, in a poem I wrote years ago for my sister called “A Sestina from the Heart”

MOVING INTO THE UNKNOWN

Box by box, item by item, I pack for our move
to a place both familiar and yet unknown
pursuing a life or perhaps a dream
of days filled with fulfilling work and challenges
met with a smile, a laugh, and joy
and evenings filled with stars, friends, and peace.

What will it take to find that peace?
Does the solution lie with this next move?
Or does the truth lie with inner joy
and acceptance that life is a journey into the unknown
with every day bringing new challenges
as we pursue our ever-changing dream?

What happens when we become unsure and dream-
less, tossing and turning at night in search of elusive peace?
Perhaps the search for a new dream becomes one of the challenges
which keeps a soul vibrant and constantly on the move
always  embracing the unexpected and the unknown
which will sometimes bring sadness but more often joy.

What if you find life is not filled with joy?
Or that everything you hope for is only a dream?
Then the next step becomes another unknown
followed by another, and another, and another until you find the peace-
ful place inside your heart which encourages a move
toward other dreams, other stories, other challenges.

Unless, of course, you wish for a life without challenges,
but for me that seems like a life without joy.
For me a successful challenge is a move
toward the next step of the journey and piece of the dream.
Knowing I can handle what comes gives me a sense of peace
even as I journey into the unknown.

I knowingly take steps toward the unknown
trusting that life will not give me any challenges
I cannot face. Knowing that even days not filled with peace,
can still be filled with joy.
As long as I keep working toward a dream
then nothing bad will happen on this, or any,  move.

While I don’t know what challenges this move
will bring, I believe that the unknown dream
is the one that will bring me peace and joy.

Sometimes I Wish . . .

Sometimes I wish
I could just let go.
Let my mind fall into the
secret world of insanity
where life takes on the shapes of your dreams.

But I know those dreams could easily turn into nightmares.

Sometimes I wish
I could just let go
of responsibility and appropriateness
of doing good in the face of bad
of my sense of decency and justice
that other people find so easy to ignore.

But then my heart weeps.

Sometimes I wish I could just let go
of the fears that hold me back
and the kindness that does the same.
I wish I could become the tigress
fighting for her family despite
the pain she may inflict
on others.
Or the secret viper whose poisonous bite
destroys without care.

Sometimes I wish . . .

But then

H is for . . .

I have been struggling a little today, with a blank screen and a blank mind. This will be a week of juggling too many balls at once, and I am feeling overwhelmed. When I posted on Facebook that I had nothing to say and no “H” words to write about, my dear friend Beth suggested that perhaps I need to write about the word HELP! I took that idea, and then borrowed a little from the inspiration of the wonderful Kathy McCullough at Reinventing the Event Horizon who has been sharing her fabulous art that reveals so much of the pain and beauty in her psyche. I thought I’d take to color and paper, and see where my mind brought me. This is the result:

H is for the Hills that I have yet to climb.

His for the Hopelessness that builds inside.

H is for Happiness I yearn for and Hope to find.

H is for the Heaven in my daughter’s Hazel eyes.

H is for the Home and the Hearth of my dreams

H is for the Hurt that I try to abate.

H is for Hunger that I Hope to feed.

H is for the Humor that Helps me Live.

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