Friday, December 23, 2011

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Monday, August 15, 2011


As my first week of the year without the boys drew to a close, I chose to leave my quiet cocoon and venture out into the world. What I found out there was brutal. Thursday, Paragon Theatre Ensemble for their critically acclaimed production of “A Lie of the Mind”. Centered in the eye of the storm following an episode of domestic violence, it is anything but calm in this eyeball. Sam Shepard’s turbulent 1985 family drama is an unblinking stare into our perceptions of love and the realities we choose to face…or not. Severely beaten by her husband, “Beth” suffers from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and a shattered heart. It’s a difficult piece to watch as each of the characters plays according to his/her own set of rules, yet engaging as they are unwittingly committed to their convictions, even as they begin to unravel. Images from the Shepard landscape, a shotgun wrapped in the American flag, hauntingly howl at our modern culture as like the whisper of a locomotive on the prairie. The only one in the wolf pack with a stammering glimmer of hope is Beth, who understands the difference between being dead and being not dead is only the sense of the love that lives inside of her.
Friday night I got a text, “will b @ R&J @ 7 dress down” were the instructions. The place was packed as I made my way through the crowd to the ringside. None of the men stood up when I arrived at the table; a lack of manners? More likely it was the two men fighting behind me in a cage that held their rapt attention. The waitress slinked by to get my drink order and I thought better asking for a chilled Sauv Blanc. “Grey Goose and—“ “Cranberry?” she asked. “Yes please, with a splash of grapefruit.” I said. I rarely drink vodka so anything short of an umbrella is a good disguise. “We don’t have grapefruit.” She sniffed, looking past me to another table. “Orange--?” Catching her glare, “Cranberry’s fine”. I really had no idea what world I had walked into, the closest I’d been to the MMA cage fight was a glance at the TV during an evening of UFC pay-per-view, but as a go-anywhere kind of girl I was soon enthralled. Men, women and children watching as the opponents battled it out gladiator style; round-house kicks and left hooks flying, wrapping their well-oiled guns around each other’s necks with the ultimate goal of blacking out. Wow. What would make someone want to do that? Near the top of the ticket were the two women. It was a fast and furious cat fight, the crowd going wild as one gal pulled a manic maneuver on the other. “She just threw a triangle on her” my host leaned in to tell me. “I threw a rhomboid on some bitch back in high school” I replied. The accountant at the table found that funny.
After a month of political slice ‘n dice in the Senate and the bloodbath looming in the election, the London riots and the horrors of Syria, I’m a bit over-saturated by blatant aggression, aren’t you? It’s not that it has to all be pirouettes and Kumbaya campfires in Tracyland, but a bit of civility would be a refreshing break about now.
When Saturday morning rose up to meet me, I logged on to the Huffington Post to comment and reply to comments on my blog. With my newly minted awareness to our hostile environs, I cringed as I clicked to see what was posted. What fresh hell will be laid at my cyber doorstep? What caustic retort to justify the certainty of one side or the other? I remained calm as I responded, careful to speak my truth without inflammation, and gladly turned off the computer. Preparing for a night out, I slipped an old Enya CD in the player and drew a cool bath to wash away the sins of our global anger. Next stop was the Riverfront Park Fashion show, an annual event that draws out Denver’s glitterati. As the rail thin 20-somethings strut their stuff on the catwalk, I recalled my own decade of starvation. After all that I’d experienced over the past 48 hours, the thought of pouring my hungry ass into a skin-tight pair of William Rast jeans, now that would be... brutal.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

As My Old Troupe Leader Used to Say... "Be Prepared"

A record-breaking heat has swathed America this July, and there’s no place hotter than the US Congress. All the political wrangling over the debt ceiling has left constituents right smack in the center of the crisis, glued to our televisions, checking for resolutions on the internet with still no word. The heat broke in Denver today, though as of yet there’s been no such luck in Washington. I took advantage of the relatively balmy temps to venture outside my air-conditioned office to visit with some potential clients; a listing and two home buyers. The seller is concerned about where their home value may (or may not) be headed, the buyers are worried job security: one a librarian, the other in the health & beauty industry, and of course that factors into their home buying scenarios. It has been tough out there in the virtual realty world and people are understandably nervous.
On my way home, I made my pilgrimage to Costco. Wandering around the aisles I noticed there were flats piled high with “emergency” items: stacks of powdered milk, eggs, mini-generators powered by the sun and ready to charge a cell phone, perhaps a Prius. I’m not much for the concept of living in fear, in fact I am mindful to release as much of it as possible in my daily meditation, but it was very clear to me how fearful we've become. And why shouldn't we be, after all? I tried to remember where it all began, this abject fear, and what had I learned in my life that had prepared me to get through it. *Lightening bolt* I had been a Girl Scout and I took that vow into my girlish heart.
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
As the thunder broke and the rain slapped down upon the Costco roof, it struck me that everyone seems to be preparing for different things…
• I’m prepared to make more (time), save more (money), give more (love) and spend less (time worrying).
• I’m prepared to take life as it comes without feeling the need to control all the crazy stuff that’s going on around me. It’s not like I ever could, but I’m not as tempted to try.
• I’m prepared to give myself as much credit for being who I am as others seem to give me. (The word fabulous does come up on occasion.)
• I’m prepared to work harder, be braver and dance along the edge of whatever my own little slice of greatness may be.
• And I’m ready to fall in love again… I think.

(Wow. I’ve gone all Pollyanna on myself, I didn’t see that coming.)
What I am not prepared to do is give up. I’m not prepared to live in fear of this life or of the world beyond. I may be afraid, sometimes petrified but I refuse to live in fear, no matter what the Congress does. Oh, and I will continue to cook beautiful things the bounty of my garden and freeze them to enjoy through the winter, but I will not hoard canned goods!
Now if you’ll all make an apple pie circle and join hands with me while we recite the Girl Scout Law…

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How do You Handle Rejection? Not with Kid Gloves.

Why did I choose the professions I chose? Am I a glutton for punishment? Working as an actress in New York and LA, the rejections come fast and furious. It means you're out there, you have a chance at landing that agent, that role, that spot. There is plenty of time to protect yourself before you get serious and throw your hat squarely in the ring, but once you do, you're in it baby, and I found I was spent more time vying for the jobs than I did working them. The good news there is that it is a numbers game and when you're moving that fast you don't have time to worry about what you've lost, you're on to something else.
When I moved from Hollywood to Denver years ago, I had a small child and plenty to keep me occupied: Hot Wheels, zoo trips and Dr. Seuss. The two years before relocating I'd lost both of my parents and became a mother. During the pregnancy and grief, I lost the taste for the game of having to be "picked" in order to do what I do. I am well trained, talented and ambitious; the spinning plates of self-esteem seemed somewhat crazy, after all you are the same person whether they 'pick' you or not. Nothing is diminished, you just don't have the gig.
Becoming a writer, and more specifically a playwright has shifted the power. Now I get to experience the joy of creating first, sharing it with others when I'm ready. The trick here is discernment, knowing when you're ready and whom to share with. Public readings can be brutal if you don't know what you want from an empowered audience and when you ask people to come and listen to a work in progress, that's just what you do. After you've poured out your imperfect soul, you sit in a hot seat and ASK for them to tell you what is wrong with your baby. Crazy, huh? But it is part of the process. It used to be that scripts were nurtured and pruned in a writer/director collaboration with a trusted group of actors brought in as needed. Not so much anymore. Everyone's in the game; an entourage of opinions, insights and yes, rejection marches into your quiet little writer's world. Add to this, my career as a Realtor and... let's just say it's a wonder I'm not medicated.
I find that most of the "rejection" I face on a weekly, if not daily, basis can be handled with one of two strategies. A.) Take a nap. And B.)Downsize.
A.) Allows for the idea that I may be exhausted. Putting yourself out there on the page or in front of people is an immense output of energy. With two sons, two careers, three cats and a social life, the chances are that I'm not putting in much regenerative time. This could mean that a power nap or a meditation to bring me back to center may be all I need to "suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
B.) Is a shift in perspective. Is whatever I'm experiencing right now big enough to make me stop doing what I want to do? Usually not. Even that "Big Thing" doesn't have more power than my passion. I learned a long time ago to ask myself "Would I do this, even if I am only mediocre? Would I do this without the 'Big Break'? Do I love this enough to do it for myself and the pleasure it gives me?" I can answer yes to all three questions. So when I downsize the situation, looking at it from the context of the whole, it is usually very small. It stings, but scraping my knees when I wiped out on my Stingray never made me sell the bike.
Rejection will always be there if you are brave enough to take risks in your life. Discovering the greatest risks from the deepest part of yourself and taking them bring far greater rewards than the temporary feeling of emptiness or unworthiness that not being "picked" can slap you with. Swimming in the deep end gives you an opportunity to face those feelings and release them as false assumptions and outmoded conditioning. They will pass.
So rather than treat myself with a kid glove approach, I throw down the gauntlet and go face to face with the fears, the feedback and the fuckers who stand in my way.