Clown School Daze

Today marks the completion of my five week clown and commedia extravaganza.

I am not the same person that I was five weeks ago. I am different in ways I don’t even comprehend yet.

I am exhausted in the best of ways having truly spent myself each day.

In clown, if you let yourself, you open up like a little flower.

I fell in love over and over again with my fellow clowns. My heart broke open daily and then expanded several sizes and is bursting from my chest.

The world is shinier. I hear music everywhere. I make up little songs.

I carry the moments of courage, of tragedy, of brilliance, of mess, of genius, of laughter, of wonder, and of the amazing live theatre we made together these weeks with me forever.

I found out some very important things along the way.

I am too tired to try to articulate them today. I know they will be revealed in my future work.

I am sated, for the moment, and I celebrate these weeks.

My appetite will return.

But for today, I am sated.

And grateful.

Hello, Old Friend

The clown nose.

The world’s smallest mask.

When donned, it can bring magic to the courageous soul underneath.

If you give yourself to it.

Let it lead the way.

Soften your brain. Let your eyes open big, your eyebrows go up.

Let your tongue be heavy in your mouth.

Begin to look for sparkly things as you inhale and reach to find your wonder, just above your head.

Oh, there you are.

There you are.

Hello, old friend.

 

Morning Glories

As I wrote the other day, I am currently in a five week-long physical theatre intensive, including clown and commedia.

One week in, and I am joyfully astonished (and exhausted.) My face and sides ache from laughing. My mind has been blown repeatedly by the beauty of the other souls that daily become more and more alive as the class progresses. My heart has expanded and feels raw and tender and open in new ways. Many tears have fallen, from joy and wonder, from deep wells of sadness that come as old rusty parts of my soul are freed from their societal binds.

You see, clown is about exploring the four year-old inside. The little one you were before socialization caused you to “grow up” and be serious.

Before the body forgets to play and becomes blocked by The Block of Cool (as in, gotta be cool, man — gotta suppress this or that to be one of the cool kids.) The Block of Nice (Gotta be a good girl/boy if you want anyone to like you.) The Block of Polite (Gotta be polite to fit in and be a part of society.) The Block of Being Appropriate (Gotta do what everyone else is doing no matter what or you’ll stand out and the bullies will see you or you will be humiliated.)

So as we’ve been playing this week, we’ve been getting up underneath our adult skin suits and back into the wonder, the joy, the big, messy fun of acting with enthusiasm, leading with our hope, and the desire to have fun and make others laugh with us, at us.

It is an honor – a gift – to see someone’s unadulterated humanness. To really see who each person is underneath all the tricks we’ve learned to protect ourselves.

I am blown away by the exquisite beauty and brilliance of each person in the class.

Down the street, one of the buildings has some flowers blooming on part of it’s front wall. There’s a beautiful cascade of what looks like lilac that I was drawn to the first day during lunch break. What I did not notice then is that alongside the lilac are morning glories. (They were not blooming that first day.)

But the second day of class, I walked by the storefront again, and there they were, in all their, well, glory!

I was floored and just stopped and stared in wonder.

Then the next day, they were gone! (Upon closer inspection, they were there, but had withdrawn back into their tightly wrapped buds.)

The next day, half were out again, the others were in different states of the bloom process.

The flowers’ journey seems to mirror our class. We are all at our own different states of “bloom” in our work of rediscovering our unsocialized selves. We all have started the class in different places, and we will end in different places. But along the way, we are all blooming at different times. And sometimes, we are each beginning to show ourselves out in full bloom. It is astonishing to witness.

I cannot wait to see what will bloom next week.

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Carry On

Things That Are Traditional in My Family That I Inherited (Whether I Like It Or Not:)

Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Stuffing

Disbelief in Good Things Lasting

Aunt’s Pumpkin Bread Served at All Gatherings

Serving Dishes and Calling Them “Salads” Even Though They Contain No Vegetables Unless You Consider Miniature Marshmallows and Jello Vegetables

Dad and Uncle’s Christmas Chili

Finding the Least Trafficked Back-Routes When Driving Places Even If It Takes Much Longer Just Because “It’s The Back-Way”

Spode Christmas Tree China On the Table at Major Holidays Whether It Is Christmas Or Not

Distrust of Strangers & Non-Family People, Too

Gradma’s Green Bean Recipe

Waiting for The Proverbial “Other Shoe” to Drop

Watching Longhorn Games on TV No Matter What the Occasion (Funeral/Holiday)

The Avoidance of Heavy Traffic and Bad Weather At All Costs Even If It Means Not Going Out

Keeping A Stiff Upper Lip/Never Let Them See You Cry/Keep It In The Family

Inspired By The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: traditional

 

 

 

 

To Do’s Today

Here is what I can do today.

I can create:

Joy. By Taking time to find it in my body and then give it to the world in the form of smiles and kind interactions with others.

Peace. By listening and respecting others, staying unattached to needing them to agree with me or see things my way. By refusing to war with my self or anyone else.

Art. By choosing to use my body, voice, mind, emotions, instincts, words, will, expertise and talent to create in whatever ways I can. I can do this regardless of whether I get an audition or booking, or am in a show or film or not. Especially in today’s world, I can create art and share it daily, for my self and others.

Positivity. I can choose to meditate, practice gratitude, use mantras and affirmations and select an intention to guide my day. As many times a day as I need to, I can tap into the ever-abundant source of this that is within me. Every moment contains the choice of love or fear.

Justice. I can stay active politically for the causes I support. I can use my voice, body and energy as needed to take action. I can speak up when I see injustice.

Equality. See above. 

Beauty. I can allow my spirit to shine freely from within. I can reflect back to others the beauty I see within them, encouraging theirs to flow freely.

Comedy. I can listen for the clown (my unsocialized 4 year old) within, and work with her impulses instead of tamping them down. I can laugh at myself and at funny things and share that with the world. 

Music. I can hum and sing and make up silly songs in the grocery line. I can sing at the top of my lungs for the sheer joy of it. Or I can create art from the music in me.

Excitement. I can go against the grain of the social conditioning that started in junior high school and begin to allow my enthusiasm for life to thrive and be seen. I can choose excitement over “cool” and feel my own aliveness flow into the world. Maybe I will spark enthusiasm in others.

Intimacy. I can choose to be vulnerable with myself and with others, and perhaps help them to become vulnerable as well. Vulnerability may well be key to saving the world.

That’s what I can do today.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word: create

Fat is Not Funny (to Me)

My whole life I’ve been confused as to why people laugh at fat people.

You see it everywhere. Greeting cards with pictures on the front of a fat lady in a bikini or some big man holding a sandwich or something.

Popular culture is flooded with fat jokes and humor.

Character actors and comedians have made careers out of making fun of their own fat: John Candy, Roseanne, Homer, Fred Flintstone, the King of Queens, to name just a few.

Some of these people lost weight at some point in their careers and actually had trouble finding their new audience dynamic because so much of their appeal centered around their being fat.

People love to laugh at fat people.

I never thought fat was very funny.

Maybe because I was a heavy kid who was teased and bullied mercilessly in elementary and junior high schools for being overweight.

If you were ever that kid, you know it’s not funny.

Maybe because I grew up loving one of the greatest men I’ll ever know, my brother, who also happened to be obese. I’ve always been incredibly sensitive to jokes made at the expense of the overweight.

If you have ever had an obese relative, and know the suffering it creates for the relative and for the family and friends who love them…if you’ve witnessed first-hand the looks, the comments and mean behaviors of strangers…you don’t think fat is funny.

Fat shaming is a thing now. It has a name. It has been debated heatedly as something good.  (Shame as a motivational tool? Really?) And as something bad. (Fat people say that they are being discriminated against and just want to be accepted as they are regardless of a physical attribute, such as color or size of body.)

That fat shaming exists as an issue at all to me illustrates the total lack of understanding around the issue of being overweight. The issue of fat.

There are no greeting cards with junkies on the front. Or anorexic women or men. Why do we laugh at fat people? Why is there so little empathy for people struggling to lose weight?

Is it because generally most people think being overweight is someone’s fault and so the person deserves to be laughed at? Whereas there’s more room for forgiveness for a drug addict or some other more acceptable person who is afflicted by disease?

Is is because it is tied into the idea of sin? Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, also known as capital vices or cardinal sins. That goes way, way back into our social and cultural psyche…maybe it is encoded into our DNA so deeply that it has created a blind spot in our ability to have empathy or even understand what fat is.

Someone carrying extra weight is seen as a lazy loser, lacking will power, with too much appetite. Gluttonous. Lacking character and immoral. Disgusting.

I posit that most people, despite the over-saturation of information on dieting and other weight loss products that is out there, still view the issue of extra weight as a pure willpower issue.

Overweight or fat people are not commonly seen as a person who suffers from a disease, a food disorder, a reflection of an emotional disorder. As someone who learned to use food as a way to cope with life, in the same way an alcoholic or a heroin addict or a debtor uses those substances to handle their lives, in a disordered way.

I have a theory. I think that when people laugh at fat people, it is because on some level they are so uncomfortable at the literal evidence of pain that fat people are wearing. It cannot be hidden, the way an alcoholic’s or a bulimic’s or anorexic can. It’s out in plain view for all to see, a suit of pain, and on some level it reminds us of things maybe we also do not want to look at in our own lives. Our own appetites that we’ve learned to suppress. Our own uncomfortable feelings that we have not yet found a healthy outlet for.

We laugh because we see someone who is living out some revolution against something or someone on their own body landscape, and on some level it pisses us off because the person is not “towing the line” and keeping those feelings and desires stuffed down where we, as a society, have agreed such things should go.

So we express a cruelty towards these people in ways that in any other situation would be totally unacceptable and perhaps even unthinkable to us.

Why don’t we see fat people as people in pain? People who need help dealing with life differently? As people with a chronic disease?

Why do we still watch shows like The Biggest Loser that only address and promote the cosmetic issues of weight loss and not the underlying causes of the eating disorder: the person’s disordered behavior with food, a reflection of a disordered relationship to being in the world?

Why do we only want to get Physical Education back into schools when we need more than just “better eating” and to get kids moving to deal with the ever-growing numbers of obese children in this country? Those things are needed too, yes. But those things alone are not solving the issue. So they appear to not be working.

(Of course, this lack of understanding, this mis-education, is great for the diet product industry. It makes people constantly in search of the next big fad, the magic pill, the quick fix. Google and explore how much people spend each year on diets and pills and fads and you will see who benefits from the results of this misunderstanding towards fat and overweight.)

When will fat be treated as an emotional, behavioral issue, not a purely biological one?

As a disease like any other. Not a party joke. Not a greeting card.

I don’t know what to do to help this situation, to help educate and inform and shift the attitude towards fat, but I know something needs to be done.

Fat is not funny to me. When my brother died at 47 from complications of his obesity, I promise you, nothing about it was funny. He was a brilliant man with a wicked sense of humor and a huge, sweet heart. I will never stop grieving his death, and I miss him every single day.