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. ūüėČ

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

Today I Dislike Words

Yes. Me. The person who manages to post despite having no regular access to internet (STILL). The person who sometimes posts multiple times in one day. The person who loves language and plays with prose whenever she can.

I HATE words.

Not all words, just certain ones that torture me by their existence, by their meaning, or by their elusiveness. I dislike words that seem determined to defy expectations and deny me their use.

What kinds of words do I mean? Here is a sampling of the words I currently despise:

I dislike all words that describe people’s abilities on a resume, because I do not know how to use them properly. Am I a manager? Am I a teacher? What makes me an excellent communicator or a creative thinker? How to I explain the multiple roles I have played in my life, and the skills that each of those roles require? How do I keep it all down to one or two pages, showing the qualities that make me a viable candidate for projects of all kinds.

I no longer understand the meaning of those words.

I want to change the meaning of words. I refuse to discuss progress any more, but rather talk in terms of movement. I am moving, in many directions, to get to the next step in my journey, not to achieve a specific goal. Success and failure cannot define me, as they are relative to the eyes of the beholder. But what words can I use to replace them?

Today I feel defeated by the limitations of language. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever wish words meant something different? 

Perhaps today I need to express myself in something other than words, to help me move from this:

to this:

Perhaps it’s not the words that are the problem, but my inner critics ¬†(this link is to a Hub Post about them)¬†who seem to be screaming loudly in my brain at the moment.


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.

 

Support or Encouragement?

“I love you and I support you.”

I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately, and for some reason it makes me cringe. I’m not sure why. I thought perhaps I should explore my reaction in order to understand and¬†break away from it.

Let’s start with the dictionary definition of “Support”. According to dictionary.com support means:

“1.¬†to¬†bear¬†or¬†hold¬†up;¬†serve as¬†a¬†foundation¬†for.
2. to sustain or withstand (weight, pressure, strain, etc.) without giving way; serve as a prop for.
3. to undergo or endure, especially with patience or submission; tolerate.
4. to sustain (a person, the mind, spirits, courage, etc.) under trial or affliction: They supported him throughout his ordeal.
5.¬†to¬†maintain¬†(a¬†person,¬†family,¬†establishment,¬†institution,¬†etc.) by¬†supplying¬†with¬†things¬†necessary¬†to¬†existence;¬†provide¬†for: to¬†support¬†a¬†family.¬†¬†. . . “
¬†There are ¬†many more elements to this definition, but I think I can end it here as the two definitions that I’ve highlighted give a hint to my discomfort; particularly number 3.
I don’t want to be tolerated as I figure out my next steps in life. I don’t need the support of anyone else. But what I do need is encouragement. I need belief. I need enthusiasm. Maybe that all falls under the definition of support, but I guess in my own warped and twisted view of the world that word implies that I am incapable of doing something without someone else providing for me. That is not true.
I am capable of supporting myself and supporting my family. But, I do acknowledge that it is easier with a partnership where nobody bears the burden of support–where we collaborate to achieve in equal parts.
I guess it is all about semantics.
Are there any words or phrases that rub you the wrong way? 

Life Misremembered

Portfolio

Image by cirox via Flickr

How does one truly document a life?

I am trying to get a compact collection of my  past accomplishments together in a form that shows who I am, and who i can become. But, I have not documented my life very well.

A world of technology dictates that ample evidence needs to be provided, in the form of videos, pictures, documents, and anything else that proves we’ve done what we say we have done. Our word isn’t enough, we need to show our successes in living color.

But, as I said before, I have not documented my life very well.

I don’t think I ever expected to be reinventing myself so many times. So, while I am basically organized and keep mementos and journals, somehow my everything has gotten scattered and I cannot create a true supporting portfolio of everything I have done. where are the pictures of puppets I have made? Where is the evidence of classes I have taught? Where are the documents showing projects finished, and proposals written? Where is the mask that I designed for an opera? Where are the smiles of children and the notes of thanks?

I look on what I have gathered and question if it is enough. Back to being hard on myself, again, never believing that I am good enough. But, deep down inside, I know that I am talented, creative, and have accomplished many amazing things.  When I tell the story of my life, it is filled with variety and challenges, creativity and joy, conflict and success, smiles and tears.

But, without the images stored in a concrete way, it is possible to imagine that my life is a memory created in my dreams, rather than reality.

I know who I am and what I can. I wish that could be proven with a simple conversation rather than material evidence.

Too bad the world doesn’t work that way.

On Dreaming in Japanese

Sign from Seattle's old Japanese-language libr...

Image via Wikipedia

When I lived in Japan, I started dreaming in Japanese. I believed that was the sign that I was finally becoming fluent. Years later, Japanese only pops into my head occasionally, and the phrases aren’t very fluent. Last night, I found myself in the top floor of an old library.¬† While there were comfy chairs to sit in, this place wasn’t one of these clear, bright, modern libraries that I go to now. This was more like the library of my childhood, that smelled like books and dust the minute you walked into the door.¬† I was with a few people, although I’m not sure who (my mother-in-law?) one of whom knew I spoke Japanese. The others were Japanese, and started testing me. They also kept handing me books. Books that creaked open and had cobwebs holding them together. Now, mind you that even when I was pretty fluent, I could only read about 1000 kanji (which is only about a fifth grade level I believe) so these library books would have been beyond my capabilities even then. But, out of respect for my insistent friends I struggled through reading and conversing in a language no longer comfortable for me.

What does this dream mean? It could simply be a reaction to the beginning of a long overdue e-mail conversation with one of my best friends in this world who still lives in Japan. Or, maybe it is my subconscious telling me to pull out the dusty books of educational desire and start embracing learning for learnings sake again. I didn’t study Japanese because I had to (there were plenty of gaijin who got through their time in Japan speaking as few phrases as possible). I did it because I love learning, I love language, and I love words. So, maybe my next step involves dusting off some old dreams and pursuing something new.¬† Suggestions, anyone?

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