A New Day

Funny how a word comes in to the collective consciousness.

Yesterday, I wrote about the loss of The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt.

I said posting daily taught me that done is better than perfect. That sometimes I will feel “meh” about what I write, and that is ok.

I asked readers for help!

And the wonderful Suzi suggested Cyranny.

And guess what the word prompt for today was? “Meh!”

Which is how I feel about today’s word prompt.

Meh.

And here I am, posting anyway.

Because the power is in the doing of it.

I could judge myself out of ever sharing my voice, my work.

Or I can take the risk. Lay it on the line. No matter what.

So here I am. Day one post-Daily Post.

Feeling meh.

But taking action away.

(Or maybe because of.)

Inspired by Cyranny’s Word Prompt: meh

Another One Bites the Dust

Today, I mourn the loss of yet another presence in my life.

I am bereft.

I have been working off daily word prompts for about a year that The Daily Post has generously provided.

They have given me an anchor to my days…especially helpful last year at this time when I was having to stay close to home much of the time for health reasons.

It helped me feel connected to the world and to my creativity to post once a day.

It ended up teaching me so much about creativity. About how just doing it is much better than trying to get it “right” or good.

It gave my perfectionism a real run for its money. I had to let each day’s post go, however I felt about its value.

Sometimes I loved what the word prompt prompted. Memories or associations I’d forgotten or never even known I had.

Sometimes I felt totally “dry” and annoyed at the word. Sometimes I’d be shocked when such a prompt led me to an unexpected and wonderful-to-explore place.

I learned to live with posts I wrote that I thought were total drivel. Posts I secretly thought were brilliant. Meh posts.

Thank you The Daily Post for this amazing year and all you have brought to my writing.

I get attached to things.

I’ve grown accustomed to The Daily Post Daily Word Prompts! I had no idea they were ending as of Friday!

I’ve had panic since realizing they were moving on. What will I do? How will I survive?

I have found wonderful readers and other bloggers to follow from TDP. I loved reading the myriad variations off a word!

I feel adrift, at sea. Alone in the great ocean of blogs.

To all of “you” out there: do you know of any similar sites?

I take solace today in Oleta Adam’s prolific rendition of “Everything Must Change,” which I hear in my head every time I lose a good thing in my life to change. She gets me through every time.

At least that never changes.

Gone Fishing

I was so relaxed yesterday here in a beautiful old house on the shores of Cape Cod that I forgot to blog!

I slipped! Oops!

But instead of beating myself up, I choose to celebrate this little break from my drive to “get it all done,” this break from my goal of a blog a day, this break from perfectionism.

Just as it feels good to show up for my drive, it also feels good to show up for my need to “be.”

The Urban Dictionary defines “gone fishing” as:

Gone Fishing

1. To checkout from reality. To be unaware of what’s going on.

2. To drop the duties of daily life and go do something else, something nice.

I hadn’t intended to do that, I always blog no matter what. But you know what, it was nice to “slip.” I think I have always feared relaxing my grip, my drive — that if I do so once, I will slide into some kind of lethargy. Lose all will.

Yet here I am, right back on schedule. Happy to write.

May you give yourself a little break today – some change in your regularly disciplined routine, some shift in your thoughts.

It really is OK. The sun will rise again.

It did this morning.

Anna & The King & I

One of my favorite songs in musical theatre is the song sung by the character Anna in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.

I have always loved it, even when I was very young. I watched the movie version with Deborah Kerr, one of my favorite film actresses of all of the many Hollywood movies I watched after school.

Of course I wanted to be Anna. Never mind that she was a widow and having to go to a country far from home to make a living as a tutor and raise her son. Those things went over my head, I think.

She had a wonderful accent and wore gorgeous costumes. And she and the King had such a romantic and special relationship. I practiced talking and moving like her, and sang her songs, preparing myself for the day that I, too, would be a Hollywood starlet like her.

The lyrics of this song have grown more meaningful to me as I age. I feel I can sing this song with real conviction at this point in my life, having known great loves of my own.

Here is the scene from the film. Anna (Deborah Kerr) sings to the king’s many wives, letting them get to know her:

Hello young lovers whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I’ve been in love like youBe brave young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I’ve been in love like youI know how it feels to have wings on your heels
And to fly down the street in a trance
You fly down a street on a chance that you’ll meet
And you meet, not really by chanceDon’t cry young lovers whatever you do
Don’t cry because I’m alone
All of my mem’ries are happy tonight
I’ve had a love of my own

I’ve had a love of my own like yours
I’ve had a love of my own

Back then, I was not fully cognizant of the seriousness of the situation the lovers in the story find themselves in. They are servants to the King, and their love is forbidden. They indeed must be brave to try to be together, literally risking their lives to do so.

One would think that this ancient story would no longer be relevant. Sadly, it continues to resonate truthfully, reflecting the danger that still can exist between people simply trying to love one another.

I often catch this song floating through my psyche, when times get tough.

Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true.

It never ceases to bolster me.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: brave

Hollowed Halls

I felt the tickle of a trickle of sweat run down under my arm as I waited just beyond the corner past his locker. My mouth was dry, my heart pounding.

It was now or never.

I had to have a date for the dance coming up next weekend, and he was the only boy I could think of to ask.

He was a Kicker, not in the Popular league, so more within my reach. (Me definitely not being in the Popular League or anywhere near it.)

We got along okay, I thought. I sat behind him in history and sometimes we exchanged a few words. He at least saw me. I made him laugh once with my impromptu impression of the teacher.

I spotted his cowboy hat and forced myself to call his name, my heart suddenly full of hope. He turned and came over my way. I felt like my whole life was about to change.

My words tripped over my tongue and landed between us with a clumsy thud, but he got the gist.

He paused for what seemed a lifetime. My heart sank in the silence.

“Nope, I have to say no. But don’t feel bad. I wouldn’t say yes to a dance, not even if you was Susie Moore.”

Susie Moore was hands down the most popular girl in school. She was everything I was not: pretty, petite, outgoing, a cheerleader, funny.

I laugh a curt, self-derisive laugh and say “Oh yeah, of course!” a little too brightly, a little too pushed.

I walk away, my hope around my ankles, the taste of recognition of my non-Susie Mooreness bitter in my mouth. I’d known it already, but having it stated to your face is a whole different ball of wax. Especially from the mouth of your major crush.

Never again, I vow silently to myself. Never. Again.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: popular

I read my writing for the first time in a public forum today. It was amazing to share my words live, and to experience the other writer’s works.

Because I was so involved with that, I thought I’d repost Old Baggage for today’s word prompt, but this came to me instead. 34 years later and I still feel the sting. Isn’t it amazing? How intense our early experiences can be?

 

Risk Aversion*

I read my writing aloud in public for the first time two weeks ago.

I began this blog a year and a half ago as a way for me to begin to break the silence and shame I felt inside.

You see, I grew up in an environment that encouraged me to suppress my feelings and my true thoughts. In essence, I learned to hide my truth.

Because of things that had happened to me when I was young, I was afraid that to speak my truth would bring pain to others in my family. I needed their love, so I learned very early on to present a version of me that would be pleasing for them and others. It was literally a matter of survival, keeping my truth hidden.

Additionally, problems in our family were not acknowledged verbally for the most part. We pretended to each other they did not exist. If it was something that absolutely could not be hidden, there was a real strong pressure to keep the family problems secret, to keep them inside the home. I was not verbally warned not to seek help. But I knew it was considered dangerous.

So I learned to keep my true self buried deep inside, hidden far away from my family, and from the outside world.

I got so good at it, I lost touch with my own true self. I had hidden it so well, it became hidden from even myself.

I am a performer, so I need to be able to use my truth to reveal the truths of the characters I play. I learned to go deep within, but I found that as much as I loved bringing what I could to my work, there were internal tensions that made it very challenging. And so I began to embark on unraveling those tensions, to see what was underneath, to find more freedom and to expand my capacity to reveal through my work.

It has been an amazing process. I did not set out to, but I have ended up finding my self in the process. I’ve been making a deep excavation within, bringing out the remains into the light.

It has been excruciating at times, terrifying, wondrous, exquisite, mind-blowing, beautiful, sad beyond belief. But most of all, it has been a becoming whole.

In the process of finding me, I discovered that I wanted to be able to own and share my truth without fear or shame. So I started to practice doing so.

First in small, safe ways. To trusted people. Then, I began increasing the risk level, expanding my level of comfort by extending myself into the world in ever-widening circles.

This blog has been a hugely gratifying experience. It has been so important for me share my true internal experience, my real creativity, here. There have been times I have felt so fearful after hitting the publish button…it has felt so risky…what if someone in my family reads it? What will they think of me? If people know this or that, will they see me differently? Will they judge me, label me, only see me this way or that?

I realized that I was so afraid of only being seen for what has happened to me or what I have done, the mistakes I have made, or what I have NOT done or accomplished. I didn’t have a sense of being valuable just as I am, not what I do, did, will do, haven’t done.

The blog and posting has been stretching me in so many great ways. It has also helped me learn to let go of needing to be seen a certain way in order to feel valuable, safe or lovable.

What I did not expect was how amazing it would be to have people read and then reach out to share back. That has been and continues to be such a gift. (So thank you.)

And then, I had the opportunity to submit a piece I adapted from a blog post for an evening of work written by women on what it means to identify as a woman.

When I began writing this blog, I had never, ever intended to read my work anywhere, but there I was, sending it in, in hopes of being chosen, so I could share my work live, in person. (What?!)

When it was selected, I was ecstatic. And terrified.

Every childhood-conditioned muscle in my body was braced for trouble. Every old voice that wanted to keep me silent was working on my psyche: Who was I to think I had something of value to share? What if I upset people? What if someone was unhappy with what I had to say?

In the week before the event, I was questioning my sanity in having chosen to do it.(What was I thinking?! Why was I putting myself through this?!)

The fear and the voices continued right up until showtime and as the first readers read their work.

And then, my name was called. My turn. I gathered together my courage and began the long walk down the aisle, my heart pounding in my chest.

And then three steps from center stage, I suddenly felt something click inside. When I stepped into the light, I just knew in my bones that I was in the right place at the right time. I felt a sense of home inside. I felt warm. I felt safe.

What an amazing experience! It was an experiment, but it turns out I love sharing my words live, and also experiencing the words of the others involved. Who knew?

I am so grateful to whatever healing force inside me has been leading me on this journey to be free. It is a beautiful thing to break free of the shackles of one’s own past and to be able to freely express one’s own self.

*(Written 10/17/17, but I used a draft from Oct. 1 and didn’t realize I needed to change the date before publishing it! So here it remains, looking like I wrote it Oct. 1. But I promise I wrote it 10/17/17.)

Reposted in Response to The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: risky

Martyrdom

A thorny crown of my own making

Embedded in my righteous mind

I no longer feel the pain

You cut the wood, laid it at my feet

But the cross I bear I made myself

My tears became the stain

These things are woven into

The life and form I take today

Don’t know how to cut them out

Can I survive their extrication

Or am I Siamese with myself

Forever connected, inextricably devout

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: thorny

Broken Lineage

When I was in my mid-20’s, my father made a revelation to me.

In the instant he told me, it was if suddenly, an off-feeling I’d had my whole life until that moment suddenly made sense. Something aligned within me. My relationship to the world felt different. It felt like the earth turned just a bit on its axis and snapped into place after having been off for so long.

I felt like I could breathe just a bit easier after a lifetime of holding it in just a little.

My Dad and my mother sat me down and the story unfolded. My father had been at a work conference in Galveston, TX at which he was to speak. As she always did, my mother went along.

She stayed in the hotel when he actually went to the event that morning. Before the event, there was a meet and greet in the front area of the arena. My Dad had on a name tag, as did the other guests and participants.

At a certain point he noticed an older woman looking at him form across the room. Later, she approached him, and he recalled thinking she seemed hesitant about talking to him. As they began to small talk, he looked down at her name tag, and commented, “Hey, that’s funny. We share the same last name.”

He said the woman sort of paused a moment as if considering what to say next, and then suddenly blurted out, “I’m Rose Curry. I was your father’s first wife.”

She went on to explain that she’d been married to my grandfather and that they’d had a son together, my Dad’s half-brother. They were long-since divorced, and agreed not to have contact or tell anyone about the child, but her son had always known of him had always wanted to contact my grandfather, his father.

She and her son both lived in Galveston, and she had seen in the paper that my Dad was speaking. She had not been sure of whether or not to come.

My Dad says he went into a kind of shock. He doesn’t recall anything else about the conversation or the event. He gave the speech somehow and then afterwards went back to his hotel room.

My mom said when he walked in the door, he was white as a ghost.

He recounted the story to her, and they posited that perhaps it was someone looking to grift some money out of him. He was sure that his father could never have been married before, much less have a child and not tell anyone about it. Surely they were just looking to demand some inheritance or something, claiming to be relatives.

But curiosity got the better of him. He looked through the phonebook and found the name of the man that Rose Curry had claimed was his half-brother, and he called the number. He spoke to the man, and they arranged to meet that afternoon in the parking lot at a McDonald’s.

And my Dad said that the moment he saw the man get out of his car and approach him, he knew that the story was true. He could see the resemblance clear as day.

He spoke with the man for several hours. It turned out that this man, my half-uncle, had tried several times over the years to re-connect with my grandfather. He’d gone to Midland, TX (halfway across the state) to his house and rang the doorbell, only to be turned away in the snow.

He’d even called my Dad’s house once, at holiday time, in the hopes of speaking to him.

He’d had a tough life, struggled with depression and alcoholism.

My parents told me that after they left Galveston that day, my father had talked to my grandfather about the man. But my grandfather wanted nothing to do with him. As he had turned him away so many times over the years, so he turned him away again.

I. Was. Floored.

Suddenly, my whole childhood made sense.

I’d always sensed an indefinable energy around my grandparents’ house in Midland. They were loving people. I loved to be at their house and around them. But they didn’t leave home much. And there was a tension that I could feel as a child, something I could not make sense of. I guess I always felt that something was about to happen. Something bad. It felt like we were always on hold.

Hearing the revelation of this first family of my grandfather’s, it all made sense. That energy was the energy of holding a secret together.

My grandfather had been married and met my grandmother and fell in love. He had left the other woman, and their son, and they’d divorced. My grandfather’s side of the family knew, but were sworn to secrecy. My grandmother’s family and the family she and my grandfather would make together were not to ever know.

My God, that takes a ton of energy, to hold that big a secret.

So every time there was a knock at the door…every time the phone rang…they must on some level had been thinking would it be someone who knew the dirty dark little secret?

I remembered a man coming to my grandparents’ house at Christmas. My grandfather going out and talking to him on the front yard, coming back in angry.

(Now I know it was him.)

I was at the Thanksgiving dinner table when a man called interrupting dinner, asking for my Dad. My Dad came back to the table saying “some guy had just called and as said he was his brother, must be a wrong number, the guy sounded drunk.”

(That poor man trying yet again.)

Secrets are powerful things. They create an energy, they take up space. As you work to hold them in, it takes away from the living of your life. Every relationship feels that weight in some way or another.

As a sensitive child, I sensed it all. But no one would say a word.

I was close to my grandmother, but the one time she ever got mad at me or denied me anything was when I asked her in college for some family history. She refused to help me. I was so confused by her behavior at the time. It was so unlike her.

But once the big secret was outed, it all made sense.

My idea of my grandfather was forever altered on that day. My grandfather and my grandmother, but she had been dead for some time.

I never spoke to my grandfather about it. I had wanted to, but my Dad said not to, and I complied. I guess I have been conditioned to accept the weight of lies.

Sadly, he never agreed to have contact with the man who was his son, my half-uncle. I never met him either. All involved parties are dead now.

I remain. And I seek to be sure that I live life lie-free. Lies cost too much, and they can never be held forever.

I had a half-uncle. I wonder what he was like. I hope his children and their children have also broken the chain of lies. You can only hold the Truth at bay for so long.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: revelation

 

 

 

 

Freefall

I love to jump off cliffs.

This runs antithetical to just about every way I was conditioned growing up.

I come from very fearful people, stoic Protestants who practice “keeping things in the family,” “never let them see how you really feel,” and “stick close to home.” Cautious, careful, deliberate action-takers. Spontaneity? Not so much.

I never questioned it growing up. It was normal to me. Things like traffic and weather dictated activities. Never let them see you cry. Don’t show weakness. Therapy might as well have been witchcraft.

It is imbedded in my code, this desire to avoid potential problems. This fear of something bad happening if you are not careful at all times.

And yet.

I am no adrenaline junkie or extreme sports athlete. While I do enjoy a good rollercoaster ride now and then, I have not been ticking off a list of things I must do such as skydiving and bungie jumping, though if the occasion arose I might do those things.

But.

Years ago, at a quarry in Vermont, I discovered that inside me is a kind of a dare devil all the same. That there are times I want to take risks, when I must, in fact, take the leap.

I love to stand at a precipice and then jump off into a deep body of water. I just love that sensation in my body as I step off into the air, my heart in my throat as an unheralded scream of joy-fear comes out of my mouth. Those moments of being totally free and falling through the air are just so life-filled, so in the moment. I experience the rush of my own full life force. There’s a feeling of being at one with something outside of me and yet within myself all at once. And then, the landing into the water. Being encompassed, becoming one with it in those moments in the muted depths before surfacing. Astounded at having been saved once again.

Maybe those moments are my church, my sanctuary.

For those seconds I am not thinking, not watching, not taking care.

I just am, and I am far from alone, and it feels great.

I know that experience now, and I seek it out in other ways. In my work as an actor. I feel that same way when I fully invest in my character and truly lay deeply personal life and death needs on the line and take that same kind of leap into the scene. My partner and I leap into the air of the play and sometimes find astonishing moments of true experience together. Surprises, places unexpected. When it is over, the same astonishment and gratitude for having landed safely. This is also my church, my sanctuary. It, too, is holy.

My early conditioning and the family encoding have not gone away, maybe never will. I can still catch myself getting very anxious when it is raining hard and I am in the car with my husband, feeling as if we should go straight back home. I carry unwarranted dread around at times like a Pashmina shawl. It can feel comforting and necessary.

But that’s OK.

Today, I consciously choose times to allow my spontaneity to take the front seat, put caution and fear in the back and assure them that “I got this.” I look for more places to find my free-fall worship, and I’m so grateful that I do what I do for a living.

Acting as I know it is not for the feint of heart, and I am honored to embody the lives of people who are fighting to live better lives, love more fully, taking risks to get what they need.

For them, and for me, I am happy to take that step off into the air and see where it takes me.

#freefall #risk-taking #acting

Inspired by The Daily Post Word prompt: precipice