Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Lecture on Moving Forward

I am fifty one years old. Ever since I could talk I have complained, joked about and quite honestly, been viciously cruel to myself about what I looked like. My first word was diet. My second was cake.
I was mocked as a child, ridiculed at school through every development of myself. I've been hurt, used, ignored and taken for granted and I've then blamed myself for most of it. (What a waste of time!)

It stops now for two good reasons.

A dear friend has complimented me more than I have ever heard in my life.
This person who has looked at me, noticed that I have blue eyes, noticed the mark on my arm, noticed that the beauty of my soul shines through and how special that just may be. Noticed how close my heart is to always tumbling into every single area of my life - and that perhaps, just perhaps, that is worth being paid attention to.
Wow what a remarkable difference this makes. That I was told, I was proud to walk into that room with you. Bing, bing, bing, there's a first!

I am typing this while my dear friend Linda rests. We have worked a little on her book, then exhaustion arrives and rest needs to take over. From my seat next to her, I can see the blue of the sky, the calm of the water outside, she cannot move her head to take any of that in. It takes me a moment to gather my thoughts. It takes me a moment not to believe that the warmth & love I feel rushing through me could heal my dearest friend, she after all saved my life, it would be the natural thing to do.

So if I can't do that, the least I can do is to learn and grow and inspire.
I refuse to waste any more time on putting myself down or not on asking & finding what I want next.
I am healthy and have the privilege of being able to move, wipe my own tears away, hear words from another heart - damn - even hear another heart beat. I cannot waste any more time in not declaring what I want to do with my life.
I want to get words out there to help heal and inspire. We have important stories to share people, stand up and share your truth.

I talk a lot about privilege and I hope this post highlights what I actually mean by that.
The lesson here is not to listen to the clatter of peoples voices who themselves do not understand.
To not be the people who do that to others. To develop your self awareness to the skill of where it says I will not accept anything but everything that will be for the better of my life and that of others I choose to love and welcome into my life.

Where did hiding ever get any of us? Where did holding onto the past, good or bad, get any of us?
Keep moving forward.
Be the difference. Be extraordinary, not settling for ordinary.
Get yourself ready - for that opportunity, where you dance in joyous circles toward it, knowing that someone saw you and Saw All Of You.
For those of us who are capable of doing that - it is our duty to do that. How fortunate are we.

This is for our Linda Pestana. An incredible light in a very dark room.
(She just woke up and said what are you doing? I said changing lives.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Journey to New York

An interesting thing had happened last Sunday on my way to New York.
I was on a morning bus from Providence and in short, the man two rows behind me was not well.
When he boarded with his older friend, it was clear that the two were perhaps, eccentric, not on the same wave length as most of us or just still on the effects of alcohol and or drugs.

Long story short by two hours into the journey, the man, who claimed he was an ex marine, was slamming his head against the bathroom door, crying, trying to open the emergency exit door and screaming racial abuse at passengers. His threats to beat a man up, turned into "I will put bullets into his brain" and finally ending in "I will blow this bus up."

I have never felt so sad and scared at the same time as I literally cowered in my seat.
The police were excellent. The driver was excellent. The other passengers were excellent.
All I could imagine was how this set of circumstances may have escalated. How any one of the other people could have reacted and how that may have impacted this already tense and very troubled situation. What if he did have a gun? What if someone else did?

As someone who writes in her plays about mental illness because it interests me, I must admit I felt shame. What gives me the right to think I can share details in my work about such fragile human brains? What on earth do I know? Yes, I've seen some things, but do I really know and understand?

Like many, I was troubled about the news of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. The image he presented does not match the image he left us with, and like many, I again am reminded that you never know.

We are so deeply tender and are effected by so many things that spin around us. I watch the television news and feel bewildered not knowing whether something is good for us or not. I see people around me and I find I second guess whether I can trust them or not. And now we hear threats and actually wonder - could that be for real?

I guess this post is just another reminder that we all need to stop and breathe. Trauma is all around us, shown in a troubled face and shown in a confident, handsome one. Success is clearly not in the outer skin and our souls, brains, hearts, and our very beings are constantly needing care and attention.

Nobody is kidding when they suggest wearing a safety belt.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Words of Freedom

A few months ago I checked a message on my phone while driving (NAUGHTY!!!).
I had to pull over and cried with happiness as I read a note from Ted Clement, artistic director of Counter Productions Theatre Company who asked if they could present a staged reading of my play "Stalking."

Thursday May 31st I sat behind a packed audience and watched this deeply personal story come to life.

I have worked extremely hard in my own life to discover that I alone own the key to my being.
Those that have disrespected me, taken my nature for granted, abused and ignored me do not have that power.
I am in control of my volume. If you get to see my joy and my truth, I am choosing to share that with you. I am aware, all too well now, and to my strength, of where I do not need to shine, and believe me, I do not. 

I am privileged to be able to have grown from trauma. My heart breaks for those that cannot and I hope that my play "Stalking" dips into that world.

A highlight on Thursday for me was when a young lady introduced herself. She had been a victim  of a stalking incident and thanked me for describing the issue well. She totally understood the stream of anger and the complicated emotions involved. It has been a great concern of mine that I do not make a commercial drama out of such a terrifying situation, so I was honored and touched that she spoke with me.

There were a few things that inspired the story of "Stalking" and one of them was the sense of never belonging. Not even to yourself.

On Thursday evening I felt I belonged. Thank you, and I mean thank you in abundance, to my friends for your continued support that has helped me achieve professional steps to pursue my ambitions to write AND the personal steps toward being happy again. 

Here it is - a man once stood over me in disgust, violation and utter disrespect. His face may haunt me but thirty three years later I rise in strength and complete freedom. 
I choose to move toward joy and invite you all to do that with me.

Always with love,

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Art of Connection

I have been thinking a lot about connection lately.
The beauty and power of both holding on and letting go. How does that connection effect us? How does letting go effect us?
How sometimes when you think about a person you see their name everywhere. A street sign, a trolley name, a famous person, a place, on a car, in the paper, on a book.

You think did that name ever exist before? Now it’s following and surrounding you. Is it trying to tell you something?

Try this - close your eyes and choose the color red. Now open your eyes and looking around find all the things that are red. They will jump out at you for attention - or is it your attention seeking them?

A dear friend of mine recently wrote about the positive effect of finding a coin that reminded him of his special grandfather. Upon seeing that coin, how it gave him a positive boost and what he did with that resourced energy.
It is known that coins may represent signs from our loved ones who are now within their next adventure.
I too will always smile when I see a coin, a dragon fly or the numbers 11 11.
For the first year of being a widow I would take a photograph of the ceiling and always, always found a white light within the picture. That happened for the entire first year and believe me, it brought such comfort. 
I did not feel so alone, I had a connection. Was it really a spirit? A blemish on my phone? I don't know, but it was a connection.

We all feel better after sometime spent with a special friend. We all find release in reading that favorite poem, book or seeing that movie that just seems to get and accept us.

Is this why some of us are attached to our phones and technology?
I understand the concern when our heads are down with fingers tapping when we are in the company of the people we are writing about. However, I also see the quiet joy of faces smiling over phones when they are miles apart.

We need to find our tricks, because they work.

There is no place like home and home is where the heart is. So to be reminded and connected to that will always provide a sense of peace where one can realign with goals, energy, purpose and living.
In all the things that we race to achieve and find - perhaps it all boils down to this.

When you're in a plane and you look down and see the land below clearly as a grid, with roads and rivers and lines, you can see how it all connects. Even a dead end is connected, and perhaps that dead end is a beginning.

So if seeing a coin or a shining light in a photograph brings inspiration and strength - then how amazing are our brains that we can create and make that happen.

If, at the end of all of this, I discover that these were actual signs - then oh what a magnificent joy that will be. Either way, and in every way, we win.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Divine Magic of Writing

In 2013 I moved to Providence and made a promise to myself to return to my play writing. I nervously began by joining a class at The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket.

Many, many pages and five years later, it was divine creative magic that had Jessica Chace from The Gamm, choose my play to direct for the Boston Theater Marathon.

The marathon receives hundreds of submissions, fifty are chosen and then local theater companies choose the one they wish to direct. Out of fifty companies, my jaw dropped when I read in an email that I was paired with the theater that had reignited my passion. I could not have chosen better.

I was walking on air to arrive for a rehearsal of my work at that theater, with actors I had seen and admired in productions, and here they are performing lines I had written. Every playwright understands that feeling. It's delightfully surreal.

Sometimes, we work incredibly hard and sometimes it is faith, whispers of connection and pure divine magic that will offer a helping hand. I have always loved feeling that there are wings around us and just occasionally when I have felt them; I am lifted into my true, authentic self.
My writing has, (always was actually) a place where I love, cry, laugh, grow and live. I am so fortunate when others want to join me in that exploration.

In anticipation of the performance in Boston this Sunday - I want to thank Kate Snodgrass for creating this amazing theater marathon. It is an honor to be included.

Thank you to The Blue Cow Group - my writers group, we too came together through classes at The Gamm Theatre and have been working hard and inspiring one another to achieve some pretty cool work.

I want to thank Jessica Chace, for reading my work and bringing it into a delicate, vulnerable life with our talented actors Rachel Dulude and Tom Chace.

You have made this lady a happy one.  Did I say - THANK YOU xx

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Loud Stuff & Cookies at an Airport

This week while waiting at an airport gate in Washington DC, I suddenly saw something leap in front of me and I screamed. Screamed like a child. No, I screamed as loud as a 51 year old adult can scream. There was I, sitting, early morning, eating my breakfast, I did not expect this.

A small bird had jumped out from the chair opposite to practically land at my feet, to beg for the cookie I was consuming. I screamed, the bird screamed, then shrugged its shoulders in disappointment (or sarcasm) and flew off.

Embarrassment arrived as I lifted my head expecting to be surrounded by armed security while everyone else would be laying on the floor. I would be arrested, green card taken and wearing orange before my flight had pulled in.

I looked around. The young girl opposite me said bless you, thinking I had sneezed, while the other said "Yeah fuck, I thought that was a rat."
Everything had stopped for me and yet only two people and a tiny bird noticed.

Isn't it funny from our own prospective of how we view situations? How most things are so important, noisy and busy while no one else is paying attention. How loud we think we are or how quiet we think we are.

At another gate the day before two men were talking. Actually, let me say one was talking while the other had to listen. He was demonstrating his male dominance about a work story that featured pornography suddenly appearing on a computer screen. It was sexist, loud and boring and the two ears that had to listen (others at the terminal had no choice) nodded patiently. At the end of the story the man declared "I'm going to write a book." I could literally feel the sigh of everyone say "dear God don't bother."

On the other side of this coin, I recently worked with an incredible woman and could see how those around her were so busy attempting to keep up with her energy, they could not actually assist her. In her need to achieve her mission, she had forgotten to give basic instructions and there was a frenzied flurry where she had to complete most of the tasks herself.
In order to do something, you cannot do everything, I wanted to whisper to her. But who am I?

The sad days arrive when we think we are being noticed, or belong, or cared for and we are simply are not. When we believe we ourselves are noticing, caring for and making those around us feel they belong, while we are not.

I am bewildered at how we run and race and do so alone, while others huff and puff believing that the world is paying attention. Houses are to be built, not blown away. We are worth so much more than that.

As I boarded that flight, I was thinking, about the word 'together'. I feel it means to gather strength, love, and to gather happiness. I fancy some of that.
I should have shared that cookie, I thought. We all should.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Triple A & David Bowie

Last week, I had a conversation with my triple A man, aged 27 years - "I'm 28 on Sunday" he boasted as he fixed a new car battery.
He then asked me if I liked sports.
Then he asked me if I liked shopping. (I like shopping about as much as I like sports.)
Then he asked what music do you like?
"Well my absolute favorite is David Bowie" I replied.
"Oh" he says "Is he like Michael Buble?"

No, dear sweet, young triple A man - David Bowie is nothing like Michael Buble.

Throughout my life, the incredible music of Bowie has been my partner.
In moods, dance, inspiration, spirits, love, love making, ambition and work.
He is part of some of my favorite memories involving my brother, both of us screaming from a balcony in London as Bowie simply walked onto the stage and began to sing.
(Another terrifying memory was when my brother told me he too was an alien and could pull his face off, after we had watched The Man who Fell to Earth.)
A previous boss & friend of mine communicates a need for help with a Bowie phrase.
I use it constantly to write. I use it to change my mood, to boost my confidence, to simply move.
My connections are deep and wide. That's what we create when we find our musical heroes.

I miss David Bowie. The day he died, my brother and I could not talk.
I thought - no I'm OK, with the experience that I have been through, I'll be fine. I wasn't and seeing his face, and many faces, flash on the breakfast news was too much.

When a hero dies, whom we have never met, it does something to us. It's that bleak reminder, again, that none of us get out of this alive. That we are vulnerable, that there is a ticking clock.
The possibility to meet a hero, to thank them, to have eyes meet, is now over. The anticipation when you get the concert tickets, or hear that there is a new album. The idea that you might just bump into them as you walk through New York City. It all ends when you hear they died. I wonder if it is just another piece of your hope that dies? Especially if they've been a hero since your childhood. It's another recognition that there is no Santa, Disneyland is expensive and easy diets do not exist.

So, thank you young triple A man for at last giving me the boost to post this blog with my humble thank you to my David Bowie.
Plus, what a joy, to find that now, I join the older people bracket and can honestly say - nobody writes music like that anymore.

I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test