Then, I put my hand into my jacket pocket and pulled out this:
Which led me to think about the small things that have peppered my summer. At first I gathered them just to show you what I've been up to. But as I was gathering them, the realization of what each item represented came to the surface. I realized my life had been so much richer, so much more creative than I had thought. Here I was, a tad frustrated because I thought I was spinning my wheels, but I was actually right in the middle of my usual creative life. Life was just happening differently than I anticipated. Gee, that's never happened before, has it?!?!
So, here's the photo. But before we go any further, I have to acknowledge that the original idea for this photo came from Wanda Eichler's blog, From Under the Willow. And you should know that Wanda is my sister. One of 5. Sisters, that is.
Blue Mask – Recognize opportunities. Two opportunities in this case. Beloved and I have been killing ourselves, trying to get The Teen to travel with us again. “Anywhere you want, anywhere on the planet”, we keep saying. “No thanks”, he says, “I'm happy right here.” So when he agreed to go to The Bahamas for a quick weekend to watch soccer (watching the World Cup in another country is a family ritual that was about to die), we changed schedules, spent too much money and went. That's Opportunity #1.
Which led to Opportunity #2, which took place in the very touristy Straw Market in Nassau, The Bahamas. The colors of this mask enchanted me immediately. I have learned to buy when I'm enchanted. Fortunately for my wallet, I'm not easily enchanted. But I didn't buy right away. Nope. Walked around to see if other enchantments lay in my path. Marley, the artist/vendor, was surprised when I kept my word and returned to buy his creation.
Lion King program – Never hurts to ask. Two of my step-granddaughters came to visit from Minneapolis, so of course we had to take them to a Broadway show. They hadn't seen Lion King and neither had we. I was working on Sunrise at Hyde Park (see below) with Darren Katz, Lion King's current Resident Director. No brainer, right? See if Darren can get you backstage, right? Guess what? I was still apprehensive asking Darren for a special favor. Guess what else? I did it anyway. When he enthusiastically agreed to give us a backstage tour (and it was deluxe), once again, something that felt risky to me was warmly accepted. By the way, the show really is still a remarkable production; if you can swing the ticket price, go see it.
Rubber Duckie – Fun is important. Rubber Duckie came into my life during a fun weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware with Beloved and a quartet of wonderful friends. Yes, we went to the arcade, and yes, we played Skeeball AND rode the Bumper Cars. And I won Rubber Duckie.
Tiny Shell – You never know. There we were, on Fire Island. We were expecting nothing but the infamous Cherry Grove drag queens. We did find the drag queens, and they were charming, but we also found an island whose rustic and beautiful nature was still intact. I don't always know what's going to be at the next stop on this journey...and that's a good thing.
Dog collar – Saying goodbye is hard. We had to put our dear miniature schnauzer, Lizzy, to sleep recently. We knew she was ill, we knew she wouldn't be with us much longer, but we didn't know she'd have to leave so soon.
Plays by George Bernard Shaw – Work is fun. I'm back to studying monologues. I need new ones for auditions and, more importantly, I thoroughly enjoy the work. A different part of my brain and personality have to show up. Thanks to Jen Regan, I've been diving into the marvelous plays of George Bernard Shaw. I thought his work was stuffy. Wrong again!
"To Love A Woman" lead sheet – Sometimes you surprise yourself. Sunrise At Hyde Park keeps reappearing in my life. I struggled with one of the songs, not vocally, but getting into the heart of the lyrics. Honestly, even with quite a bit of work, I still thought I was stinking up the place when we got to the performances. Apparently, I wasn't. More audience members commented on the beauty of that moment than any other moment. And, when two people whose opinions I highly respect, told me it was good, I decided to accept the moment. Maybe I wasn't feeling it because it was going through me. Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. Maybe I should let go more often.
Pink papers – It's easy to take skills for granted. Those pink papers are notes I took while teaching the Musical Theatre Intensive class at the Walnut St. Theatre School. This summer's class was particularly satisfying; for some reason, this group of students made me realize how much I had to offer. That felt really good.
Journal – You're probably better than you think. And more notes, this time from my one-day residency with Mary Martello, funded by 1812 Production's Jilline Ringle Solo Performance Program. My brain got blown up as Mary and I navigated our way through a piece I'm working on. I'm still not ready to categorize it - as a one-woman show or a cabaret, or a something - but with Mary's ideas and endorsement of my ideas, I'm writing every day and enjoying every second.
One more photo. One more realization.
Hummingbird feeder - The simplest joys are the best. For three summers I've been trying to attract hummingbirds to my back yard and I have finally succeeded. I've spent no more than $20 on supplies (and most of that has been for sugar), but the joy I have received from watching those cute little birds zing around has been worth thousands.
You probably don't like it when I give you an assignment, but I have to tell you – collecting these items has enriched me and made me feel so positive about my summer. Even if you don't physically collect them, I encourage you to do collect them mentally and reflect on their significance. I think you'll find you're living a more creative life, than you actually realize.
Gotta go. The hummers are hungry.