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

The Comeback Kid

“Are you a boy, or a girl?” she asked, lip curled in a grin that implied she knew but just wanted to make me feel small. It worked.

“I won’t even dignify that with an answer!” I said…

…silently, in my head.

I felt the familiar rush of shame blush my cheeks a rosy pink, and stood, frozen, eyeing the group of kids standing behind the most popular girl in my new school.

My heart pounded in my chest so hard I feared it might explode through like a fist.

That image gave me some comfort: the blood would splatter all over Susie (Jenny? Brittany?) and crowd, so there’d at least be that.

Ruing the short haircut my Mom had talked me into just before we moved, my flat-chested, barrel-like bigger-than-most-girls-my-age body, and my fair, freckle-speckled skin, I tried to think of something to say that would get me out of this encounter with some teensy shred of my dignity in tact.

This was it. The way I handled this moment would set the tone for my future in this new environment, this new social strata. I searched the memory banks of my mind for some comeback that could get me out of this mess relatively unscathed. Perhaps even ahead in some way, having won them over with my wit under duress.

Nope. I got nothin’.

I felt a bead of sweat drip from under my left arm, causing a tickling sensation that, unfortunately, made me start to giggle. Hearing myself giggle made me feel a bit hysterical, which then caused me to actually start laughing hysterically.

And so what I actually did when faced with the elite of my new school was I stood there like a laughing hyena while they stood and stared in a mix of disgust and curiosity.

Eventually, the ringleader (Alyssa? Mandy? What was her name?) flipped her blond hair and said “Whatever!” as she turned and led the rest off.

Alone again, after the hysteria had crested and eventually receded, I took a deep breath in, and gave myself a silent “Welcome to your new school, Loser!”

The laughing jag had worn me out and left me with a hollow feeling that I knew all too well.

It was gonna be a bumpy year.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: dignify

 

 

Flight

I lay on my side

Face away from the door

Stay still, slow my breath

Pray he thinks I’m asleep

Then a breeze shocks my back

The sheet lifts, the bed shifts

Hot breath at my neck

No luck tonight, fear chokes my heart

I go into a trance, nothingness

The familiar comfort of the void

Leave my body, don’t need it

My soul and I, we float into the wallpaper

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: trance

Three

Once upon a time there was born a little girl

Who was adored by all, like a precious pearl.

Her two older brothers, announced proudly to all

That they had a little sister now, too busy to play ball!

And so things unfolded, and all was well.

For the next few years or so, things were swell.

Until one day, much to the girl’s chagrin and surprise,

She somehow graduated from adorable to pest in their eyes.

She followed them around and pleaded to no end,

But they’d outgrown her and had other things to tend.

And soon she, too, had lots of friends and things to do.

Each had their own life, each had their own crew.

The years flew by and their lives flew on,

And came the time when their parents were gone.

And though they each had families and lives of their own,

The girl-now-woman came to know that their love was a keystone.

And she held close to her heart the years when they’d been young,

For she knew them to be the love from which all other love had sprung.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: pest

 

 

 

 

Dormant Child

I hear you now

From within, so deeply hidden you had no chance of being heard until now

I thought maybe you’d flown away with the night and my innocence

Or maybe you’d been crushed by the weight of his body on mine

I held a funeral for you inside and accepted the loss

And then, one day, there you were; and at first

I could not recognize you through the warp and woof that my soul became

 

Here you are now

And I found you, and though you were unrecognizable to me

I knew and loved you at first sight with every fiber of my being

I’d never seen anything more heart-breakingly beautiful in my life

I drew your little burned body into my arms, your flesh black and peeling

Raw, red skin angering through the seared pain of the past

I loved you until the dead flesh fell away, until you pinked up and began to flourish

In the fore of my heart I let you pick your own room and decorate it pink and kitty cats

Let the other girls invite you to play and read you stories

I gave you hot baths and fed you warm milk and cookies, told you I was putting you first now

And I realized that you were more me than any me I had ever been before or would ever be

 

Now you are here

And you are my everything, you are the key, finally – the center of us all

You carry my truth, my play, my freedom, my deepest self-song

 

Now I am here

The parent who will protect you from that kind of hurt ever happening again

The mother who will love you like you are my everything

The woman who sings a self-song so beautiful it makes me cry to hear it

 

I hear you now

 

For Suzanne, with Thanks & Love

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: dormant