You’ve Been Served

“Mercy me!” she exclaimed to no one in particular as she almost dropped the full tray of assorted cookies she had just painstakingly arranged and was about to take out to serve to members of the Ladies of the Lake Tea Group.

Looking down to see what had created the slip that had almost been her undoing, she eyed a small pool of what appeared to be milk on the linoleum floor – evidence of what could surely be deemed criminal carelessness, as just moments before, against her better judgement, she had succumbed to pressure from Myrna to allow her to serve the coffee, a mistake that reinforced her privately held poor opinion of Myrna’s character.

She took it upon herself to rearrange the cookies and the more arduous task of rearranging her expression from one of annoyance to one of the pleasant politeness she was known for, and with an almost imperceptible sigh, she headed out to return to the girls.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: mercy

Calling All Introverts!

I love this article so much, I had to share it today!

(I am emailing it to my husband and close friends, so that they can finally understand some of the things that make me, well, me. )

Pop over now to read “12 THINGS INTROVERTS ABSOLUTELY NEED TO BE HAPPY.”

The author is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of the bestselling book, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. From her site:

She blogs for Psychology Today, and her writing has been featured on Quiet Revolution, The Huffington Post, The Mighty, The Muse, and elsewhere. Speaking as an expert on introversion, she has appeared on numerous radio programs and podcasts. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways; now, she writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did

Boy am I glad she writes about this. It is so spot on.

Numbers 6 & 9!!!

I have read many articles on introvert behavior, but this was the first mention of having difficulty putting things into words and needing a room of one’s own or time in a space on our own. We are moving into a new apartment next year, and I am thrilled that I will have one room that will be all my own. I cannot put into words what this means for me!

I thought it was just one of my idiosyncrasies, but it seems I am not alone.

I have already ordered her book to read more.

My fellow introverts, what do you think?

Coffee Break

With the tiniest of wry little smiles, she thought to herself, “I have a rather droll sense of humor, don’t I?”

Anyone who might have been looking her way would have thought to themselves, “Now that is an intriguing woman,” but sadly, no one was looking her way at just that moment.

And just like that, her face returned to its usual arrangement, a bespoke blend of earnest effort and fatigue, as she went to top off table eleven’s coffee cups.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word prompt: droll

Steady Pace

He rubbed his knee quite gingerly, as if to say, “Come on, old Boy. We’ve come this far. Just a bit more to go,” before rising to head out for his daily constitutional.

Once up, he paused a moment, giving his body’s sundry parts time to adjust to the height, though in his mind, he was already half way down the street.

And once his body was ready, he started out, one step at a time.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: gingerly

The Dance*

When I was a little girl, I took dance lessons. From the age of 4 or so, I took, tap, jazz and ballet. I have vague memories of doing some kind of moving across the floor and the teacher saying “Jeté, jeté!” as we stepped from foot to foot.

I loved those lessons. There was a big dance recital, where my mom made costumes for me: I played a bumblebee and a munchkin.

When we moved to Dallas when I was 5, for some reason, the dance lessons stopped. It was a hectic year, and the business venture that my Dad had moved us there for failed, so after the year, we moved back to Houston, to a different part of town and a different set of circumstances. Finances were tight, so extras like lessons were put to the side.

But. I did not stop dancing. I would put my parents’ albums on the record player and dance my little heart out. This was way before MTV or dance videos. The only references I had were old Hollywood musicals, which I adored. So my dances were my own versions of what I had grown up watching: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn moving dramatically across streets and fields in passionate, emotive and song-filled scenes.

I had plenty to be working out. In my young life I had already suffered a great deal. But my trauma had been locked away tight in a safe room of my psyche, so I wasn’t consciously trying to tell any particular story through these dances. My body-mind just needed to move and my soul just needed to express through that movement.

Favorite songs were Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and most of the album “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band. But I would dance to just about anything.

The dancing stopped somewhere around age 11. By that time, I had discovered food and TV and they became a kind of narcotic, a way to numb out the confusing feelings and thoughts that made life difficult. They became my number one coping mechanism, and saw me through until the teen years when other substances became available and appealing to me.

Did I dance again? Sure. At dance clubs in the 80’s and 90’s, where alcohol and often drugs were a part of the mix. At weddings, always somewhat self-consciously. There were a few attempts to go back to dance lessons so that as an actor I could be more marketable for musical theatre. I’ve danced in musicals and loved every moment. But the kind of dancing that I did in that living room back when? Nope.

Through my 20’s and 30’s, I had pics of me from that recital in my costumes, beaming. I think I even still have a bumblebee wing. Over the years, I have often used those pictures as self-reference, proof that there had been a time when I had been confident, happy in my body and free-feeling. I looked to those pictures to try to find hope that perhaps one day, I could find those ways of being again. Through much healing over the years, I have made a lot of progress. I go deep in my work as an actor and singer, and work from a place of a great deal of freedom often. But it has always still seemed to me that the girl I had been – with her total lack of self-consciousness, innocence and creative freedom – was to be forever out of my reach no matter how hard I worked for it.

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Then. Last week, a young director reached out to me and asked me to do his film. He’d had me in mind for the Woman in the script, he said, and he really, really wanted me to play her.

In the script, during the character’s most private inner moment, she transports herself through fantasy from her home bathroom to a gorgeous copper bathtub in a tiled tunnel in Central Park by the Bethesda Fountain. She is wearing a beautiful dress and a sax player is playing music in the background as she has this very free, very private, very joyful moment.

From the moment I read the scene, I imagined the woman dancing around the fountain.

I asked the director had he imagined the Woman staying in the tub in her private moment. He said yes, but that it was my private moment, and he wanted me to have complete freedom. (What a wonderful gift he gave me, that freedom. So grateful for his desire to collaborate.) So I had imagined my moments in the tub and was excited and curious for how the shoot would go.

I had not seen the location, so did not know that the tiled tunnel was a beautifully lit space that had arches in the background and copper hues, and that the tub would be placed in it, not near the fountain.

So that morning, as we arrived on location, when I saw the actual scene – the brick tunnel and the beautiful space that was surrounding the copper tub – and then heard the song the saxaphone player was to play, I knew that I had to dance out of the tub and around that beautiful tunnel.

And so on the first take, as the camera began to film, I began my private moment, made my way out of the tub, and I began to dance.

It was one of the most magical experiences I have ever lived. In the moments of my improvised dance, with the sax player playing for me and with me, the sun beginning to come up behind the fountain in the distance, hearing only the music and the echo of my own laughter, I felt myself dancing simultaneously as the woman I am right now and the little girl I was then. The tunnel and that living room became one across space and time. The joy that bubbled up through my body was total and whole, and it was such an honor to be in those moments bringing the Woman of the film and the director/writer’s vision to life.

Afterwards, we did more takes, and they were each wonderful but different in their own ways. There was no way to repeat that first take, and that was perfect too.

But I walked away from that shoot forever changed.

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There are moments in life where you feel that you are in the exact right place at the exact right time doing exactly what you were meant to do. In those moments, you can see that every other moment of your life has been a part of the making of this one magical moment. Every thing you’ve lived, every person you’ve met — the good, the bad, the ugly — it all makes total sense in those moments.

Those moments are astonishing. They are when I know I am a wondrous creation, a part of the whole that is this incredible Universe. I know in those moments that my life has been intricately designed, just as a rose has, or a peacock, or snowflakes. That nothing in my life – from the worst trauma to the most brutal pain – has been for naught. That it has all led to this moment in time, to this me that I have become.

That dance is forever in my heart now. It lives inside me, and it is the beginning of a whole new level of personal and creative freedom. I do not know what will grow from it, but I know that I have re-awakened something important inside, and I am so very grateful for that role finding its way to me, for giving me back the Dance.

#actorslife #danceforever #theheartremembers #itsnevertoolate #TheDanceoftheHeart

*Repost Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: dancing

This is a repost, but I really, really needed to re-read this today. I am feeling a bit lost, especially creatively. It feels like that connection with The Dance inside me is very faint if not non-existent – there’s been too much chatter going on inside lately that has nothing to do with joy, freedom and the sheer bliss of creation.

I needed to remember that in-between the astonishing moments of feeling like I am exactly where I am meant to be, there are moments of feeling totally lost. And each gives value and meaning to the other.

Sometimes I am dancing, sometimes I am stuck, or falling. Sometimes I am in the fetal position. Sometimes I am flat on my face.

I m reminded of a spiritual teacher who taught me to write a letter to myself during a time I am very, very happy and to save it for my unhappy self to read, to give me hope during the down times, to help me remember that there will be better times again. To remember the ebb and flow, the ups and downs. The times of movement and the times of apparent stasis. It has been a powerful exercise at times.

I will dance again, soon.

May we dance for each other when it is time to dance. May we dance for those who cannot hear their own music today.

 

 

Good Fences

For as long as I recall, I’ve carried within me the following line:

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

I can’t usually remember what poem it is from. I probably read it in high school English.

But it has stayed with me all of these years intact, the way wonderful writing can. It visits me at times, like an echoed wisdom from an ancestor since passed.

I think it stuck with me because even in high school, I sensed the existence of walls inside me.

I didn’t know it consciously. But often the Frost quote would float through my mind paraphrased as “There is something in me that doesn’t love a wall.”

Looking back, the Freudian slip was prophetic.

Those walls were walls that I’d built to protect me, but they’d also held me prisoner, because I did not know then that they were of my own making, and therefore my own to remove.

Years later, through much personal healing and growth, I’ve come to terms with my inner walls, and I find I am both of the people in Frost’s poem.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.

Like the narrator, I, too, find that my walls want to come down.

Though I’ve come to accept them as a part of me to love and find compassion for, they also feel like something that wants to be dislodged, or that needs to disintegrate, feeling like foreign matter in the organic soul forest I inhabit within.

And like the neighbor, some ancient part of me feels them to be necessary. It’s as if there’s an ancestral heritage in place that pulls me to them, at odds with the part within that wants them down.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

I thank those parts within for their concern, and the peoples from which I came who needed walls to survive.

I thank them for their love and care.

I respectfully let them know that today, I choose a different way.

I feel their support at my back as I step out into the Great Adventure.

I lovingly dismantle each wall, and face the leafy, lush green of the world within and without, with my face towards the sun, unafraid of the shadows.

I wonder if Robert Frost was speaking of the walls within, too.

I like to think so. It makes me feel we are connected, like good neighbors can be.

Mending Wall

BY ROBERT FROST

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.”

I could say “Elves” to him,

But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me,

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father’s saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”

More on my walls: Palisade

And: Essential Excavation

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: neighbors

Body Electric*

I used to search for the Truth “out there”

Let myself be told what was real and what was not

I was taught what to believe by my elders

To accept what I read in textbooks and such

I learned to analyze it all, think it through,

Used my brain and thinking to try to figure things out

But no more.

 

My body, in her intimate, ultimate wisdom,

Has taught me a new way to believe, to know

My body knows my truth, my body knows the world

I have learned a new way to answer my questions

Now, I ask my body for the answers, and I listen to her

My body never lies.

 

* Borrowed with Great Love from Walt Whitman

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: believe

Independence Day

I’ve been living life backwards

Searching from the outside-in

Looking to others for the answers

Waiting to be told I can begin

But today I called a meeting

A quorum of my many selves

We voted in a new president

And the Me who won, rebels

We deny that They are right

We oppose what we’ve been told

We’ll listen for the guidance within

And our own truth, we will uphold

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: deny

Pay It Forward

Commit yourself to a mighty purpose.

– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I was saved, in large part, by reading and acting.

Growing up, my friends, my hope, my pleasure, my education all came from what I watched and read. As this was before the internet, this meant books, magazines, television shows and movies.

I had friends, sure. And a family. But I didn’t trust most people, with good reason due to early trauma. So I turned to other resources for help. To what was available to me as a child: books and television.

Through them, I could enter into other worlds and become a part of them. This saved me from the intense loneliness I felt, the extreme “otherness.”

I have no doubt that were it not for books and movies, I would have descended into a kind of madness that might not have turned out so well.

Fortunately, I had a library and a television at my disposal. They brought me works that gave me hope that another life could be made for myself. They gave me company. They gave me connection.

Today, as I navigate my life as a performer and as a writer, I can think of no higher purpose for myself than to create work that can do the same for someone else.

I am on a never-ending quest to examine and understand both the light and the dark sides of human behavior. I’m drawn to works that explore and celebrate the human spirit. Stories of how people rise above the problems of life and the human condition to make change and follow their hearts. I have a soft spot for the seemingly ordinary moments and people in life: the underdog; the unsung heroes; the quiet, small moments that can sometimes hold a lifetime.

It’s my mission to collaborate deeply and bravely as an actor and singer with all of the people who make up a production, so that together we can create stories to inspire, educate, elicit, and evoke. To wake people up so that they may live life more fully and authentically and to embrace their lives.

I also volunteer as a reader with SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s BookPALS program. I read storybooks to kindergartners in hopes of sparking a lifelong relationship between children, reading and books that I hope will help them navigate the murkier waters of growing up, of life.

That is my mighty purpose. What is yours?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: mighty