Friday, December 8, 2017

Photo Friday Number 2



Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.


Read more about Franz here

Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie, Scotland.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ripped From The Archives: Patient Persistence

I'm back on the stage, this time in Seoul, South Korea. As I scrolled through the Creatavita archives last week, this post cried out to reappear. May it inspire you to hang in there.

This guy hangs out at the Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, Korea.
No, I'm not concerned. Not at all.
Persistent Patience
Persist – to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition, remonstrance, etc. 

 Patience – an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

You need both.

That was helpful, wasn't it?

I used to be the least persistent person on the planet, perhaps in the universe. I wanted it and I wanted it NOW. Giving up was easy for me. As soon as something became difficult, I'd give up. First rejection from an audition, I'd become an emotional mess, assume I had no talent and announce I was giving up. Boyfriend after boyfriend into husband would be forced to tell me I was talented, there must have been another reason, yadda yadda yadda. 

 I had a similar relationship to patience. If I couldn't lose that last five pounds, if I didn't get hired for that gig, I would become impatient and frustrated. And then I'd give up. Well. These attitudes will not work if you're living a Creatavita. Because creativity is always challenging and always takes time. Always.

In addition, neither persistence or patience are valued in our modern society. Oh sure, you'll hear the touching news story about the woman who endured for 25 years to get her college degree, but let's be honest, we don't expect that attitude of ourselves. We all know that we want it and we want it NOW. If we can't get it, we grab our marbles and go home. Patience, as in waiting your turn when in traffic, is considered to be a sign of weakness. Powerful people don't need patience. They can have what they want when they want it. Don't we all want that?

This is false power. This does not lead to a Creatavita. This leads to a heart attack.

I touched on this subject in the previous post Carry On. If you want to have a flourishing life and in particular, any type of artistic career, you are going to have to cultivate persistence and patience. You are going to have to develop the ability to get back up, to let the catty comments slide right off your back, to ignore all the seemingly positive things that happen to everyone else and not you, to somehow find a way to keep going.

In fact, the abilities to persist and to be patient have actually been found to be better indicators of success than talent or genius.

Now I have your attention, don't I?

Angela Duckworth, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, calls this quality “grit”. According to Dr. Duckworth, here are the two key components to grit:

  1. Sustained passion
  2. Perseverance

Interesting, huh? Darn close to my initial idea for this post.

Here's the TED Talk where Dr. Duckworth talks about her research.


It is almost 20 minutes long, but the time has come for you to get off of Facebook today anyway. Close it up and watch this instead.

I love two moments in particular. The first one happens around 2:40, when Dr. Duckworth briefly discusses the 10-Year Rule, which is the same idea as the 10,000-Hour Rule, made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers. If you didn't know either of these rules, you do now. These rules tell us that to become a world-class performer in any field, you MUST put in 10 years (or 10,000 hours) of “consistent, deliberate” practice.   By the way, we're not going to discuss which number is the better number.  We're creative types, we're smart, we only need the general idea which is lots of excellent practice leads to mastery and expertise.

 That information alone should inspire you to get to work. Think about it. You now know that if you practice for a specific amount of time with mindfulness and awareness, you will become an expert. Will you have a great career? I can't promise that, no one can, but at least you'll have mastered an creative form that is the source of the greatest passion in your life.

I'll discuss my second favorite moment from Dr. Duckworth's TED Talk in a bit.

Before we move on, here's a super quick grit test  http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/.  Go ahead, take a minute and try it out.  Interesting, huh?

As you know, Creatavita is all about finding solutions that everyone, even the bozo who drives you nuts on the morning train, can incorporate into their lives. So, get ready.  Here are some ways to cultivate persistence and patience in your life:

ACTION has always helped me. Aim to do one thing every day that leads toward your big goal. Send one email, compose one measure, practice one song, write one paragraph. When you go to bed, you'll be able to put your little head on your pillow, knowing you are one step closer than you were when you woke up.

Dr. Duckworth takes this one step further, saying we should work on our weaknesses every day. That's right, at 16:10 in the TED Talk, she actually suggests spending part of your day doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. Man, I have to meet this woman. She is singing my song!

PRACTICE patienceTry meditation or yoga. Both are excellent ways to focus the mind and body on the present moment. Being in the present often leads to a greater mastery of patience.

HAVE A PLAN. Oh no, not the plan again. Yes, that ridiculous plan that I went on and on about in my last post will help you cultivate both patience and persistence. You could also try this one. You will recognize that you are in this for the long haul and the only way to the end is via short steps.

GET SOME PERSPECTIVE. There are 8 billion people on this planet. Most of them call the day good if they have food in their stomach and a comfortable spot to call home. The vast majority of them don't find your frustration with not getting your book published, selling your cd or finding an agent all that compelling. This is not meant to diminish your creative work in any way. This is to encourage you to ask why. Why is this so important to you? What is this work really saying, what does it really mean? Would you miss this creative form if it was no longer in your life?

Finally, if all else fails -

TAKE A BREAK. Step away from the canvas, close the piano lid, shut off the computer, put down the pen. Go for a walk, a run, a swim. Head down to the coffee shop. Go to bed early. Talk to your partner, spouse or kids. Time, even when you feel you don't have any, is often exactly what is needed.

Rockabilly dancer in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park.




Friday, November 24, 2017

Photo Friday Number 1


Time for a new feature here at Creatavita - Photo Friday. My intention is to post one or two photos and a quote to keep us motivated. Every other Friday to start. How does that sound?



When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven”.

Harriet Tubman

Find out more about Harriet here.

Photo: Chrysanthemum Festival at the Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, South Korea

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Truly Grateful

Dear Creataviters, 

Hello from the other side of the planet. 

Here's my annual Thanksgiving post.

Truly grateful,
Heidi

Let's pause, take a breath and ponder.  While the world feels challenging right now, we can all find at least one thing to be thankful for.

I am thankful for all of you.  I mean it.  You inspire me to reveal, to question, to write, to be there for you.  Making the road easier, letting you know you're not the only one, confirming that you can follow your dreams - these are my goals here at Creatavita.

Happy day of thanks.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Everything Has A Place

Packing up my belongings so often during these past eight months has often filled me with anxiety. Will I need that shirt in three months? Will I be able to find that moisturizer over there? Should I take an extra bottle? Oh my god, what if there isn't any good coffee?  Oh, come on, there has to be coffee. Well, I was challenged to find good coffee in the last country.

All of these musings, which start out as necessary and end up yucky remind me -

Everything Has A Place

I find life flows more easily when I give every thing in my life a place. The space I live in (which is currently small and temporary) becomes more peaceful, more serene when I take the time to settle in. Perhaps it seems silly that I mindfully decide which surface will become my kitchen and which corner will be my relaxing space. I do this so I can have certainty, which leads me to peace, which leads me to a more mindful and joyful existence.

Likewise with my things. Most of us have too many physical things, right? Many of us actually struggle with releasing our material things. We cling to the memories, even though the memories don't reside in the thing. They reside in us. But let's save that conversation for another day. Let's talk about giving our things a place.

When I give each thing, even that pile of receipts that is staring at me right now from behind this laptop, a place, I recognize the value of that thing. I can determine its importance in my life. Plus, from the practical side of life, when I give each thing a place, it is easier for me to find the thing when I need it. Chargers live in the drawer at the end of the kitchen counter. My phone spends the night on the kitchen counter (turned off, no less). My room key lives in the arm pocket of my favorite Costco jacket or on the kitchen counter (see? that's the surface in my room. I'm already calling it the kitchen counter!).

I am packing and moving again today. As I flow through that task, I will stay aware of my gratitude for all of the things I have and focus on the idea that

Everything Has A Place



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Channeling Roy

Roy Halladay died yesterday.

Yes, he was a grown man who played a game and made ridiculous amounts of money doing that, but I'm a grown woman who tells stories and makes okay amounts of money, so I can't fault him for that.

Besides, Roy taught me so much about being the best artist I could be.

Roy was just another quality pitcher in the game I love until I read this Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci 7 years ago. I know you don't like sports, but you really should read it. Tom Verducci is an excellent writer. Besides, the rest of this post will make much more sense.

Suddenly, Roy looked an awful lot like me. A human who had a deep desire to succeed at a task that could, at times, seem impossible.

Roy sent me on a quest. Because of Roy, I purchased every book written by Harvey Dorfman. I used the guise of my son's love of baseball for the purchase, but if you want to find those books today, they're next to my side of the bed.



I remember reading a page or two and jumping out of my chair, antsy to get to a practice session. From reading Harvey's work, I realized the biggest challenges I faced were inside of my own head. I also realized if I would work mindfully and persistently, there was a good chance I could solve many of my artistic problems.

Messiah, Jim Thorpe, PA, December, 2010.
The first performance trying out Roy's ideas.

These attitudes, while initially challenging, transformed how I work.

I now see problems as challenges, challenges that might take longer to solve, but that have a solution.

I don't get as emotionally involved when things go wrong.

I seek out quality feedback from respected sources.

I work consistently (join me in my daily warmup) to keep my skills as sharp as possible.

I enjoy the game, the thrill, the wonderment of what will happen.

I am confident that my skills are up to the challenge of whatever comes my way.

I know I will fail, but I also know I have access to the tools to fix my failures.

So yes, Roy Halladay was a baseball player, but he was also a teacher.

Thank you, Roy. You changed my life.


Hit the stinkin' ball


Monday, November 6, 2017

Ripped From The Archives: Deleting The Negative

Recently, I had to return to this post for my self .
Here's guessing some of you will appreciate it also.

You ever have one of those nagging negative thoughts that won't leave your head?  You're trying to write, rehearse, practice, even perform and that one tiny moment keeps repeating over and over, like some crazy cat GIF gone awry.  Years ago, or perhaps yesterday, a critic didn't like your latest show, a director gave you a look when you missed a line, an editor commented negatively on your favorite phrase, or, the worst, your mother said she didn't like your newest creation.  You replay the words that felt like a dagger, your confidence sinks and your spirit begins to shut down.  All of the positive work you had accomplished begins to fade.

The weight of the world on my shoulders,
just like this guy in Lisbon.

Me too!!!

Here's what I've been playing with lately. Every time my mind returns to the negative moment, I practice replacing it with a positive one.  Like the spontaneous compliment from a respected colleague.  Or perhaps the memory of an accomplishment.

I will warn you, this takes time and practice.  The first time I experimented with this practice, I found myself working on it for almost a week.  But it did stop the negative thought from planting a root in my mind. I'm trying to recall the moment right now and I cannot.  Truly.  It is quite remarkable.

There's another practice I've been working with.  I remind myself that I am the only person on this entire planet who is still experiencing this past moment.  Everyone else has moved on, possibly to more joyful moments.  I have a choice.  I can hang on or I can let go.

Guess which one I choose?

In the heart of Tokyo sits this oasis, the Meiji Jingu Garden.



Friday, October 6, 2017

Listen

I've been mindfully making an effort to live by my Guiding Star Touchstones this year.

A Touchstone is a message that connects you to your deepest wisdom. I use my Touchstones to remind me of what really matters and to guide me when I feel confused. Here's an exercise that will help you find your own personal Touchstones.

My Touchstones this year are:

Persisting Brings Joy (which I wrote about here)

Create to Feel Great

Listen

Today, I want to talk to you about Listen.

As I was crafting my Guiding Star plan back in January, I realized that I had developed an ugly habit - I wasn't truly listening to people. I would let them talk, but like so many of us, I would be formulating my response in my head as they were talking. Even worse, I would often feel my Inner Judge (she's a nasty son of a gun) mouthing off about how wrong said person was or how stupid said person was or if said person would only listen to ME.  But the worst realization of all?

I was using this habit on the people I loved the most.

I would do it to Beloved ALL THE TIME.

Starting January 8, I made a concerted effort (big words for I'm going to try very hard) to listen, to give all of my attention to the person in front of me. To just listen, not craft a perfect response, not tell a bigger, better story, not try to connect with them through a common thread (this habit, which I inherited from my father, is admirable, but taken too far, I find it actually makes me less connected).

Let me tell you - this Touchstone has transformed, yes, transformed my existence this year.  Don't forget, I'm out on the road in strange new lands with people who, six months ago, were strange new people to me. Reminding myself to listen to these strangers has created deep bonds with many of them. I honestly try to listen, to speak only when it is absolutely necessary, to give my colleagues the opportunity to complain or feel joyful or feel bad, to BE THEMSELVES. Many of them are no longer strangers to me.

Listening has given me great benefits as well. I am finding life to be easier when I listen. Situations that I would have previously gotten involved in are rolling off my back. I'm not reacting to every pebble that gets kicked up on the road of life. I'm not trying to solve everyone's problems for them.

Ironically, listening to others led to being listened to by others. It happened one night in Hangzhou, China, as I was enjoying a misty evening with 2 of my colleagues. The conversation started simply, with one colleague asking about my son. He asked and I talked, about my son, about how proud I am of him, about how I never expected to be a mother, about how I was frightened that I would be a bad mother, about how my son taught me how to be a good mother, about the blessing of having a good relationship with a strong independent child (that could read stubborn and mean, right?)  My colleagues did nothing but listen.

Two days later, I thanked one of those colleagues for letting me talk. I realized how much it meant to me when I started to choke up while thanking him. What a gift they had given me. A simple gift available to all of us.

Listen.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Still Better Than Nothing

As I move through my 15 minutes of blogging today, this post from July of 2016 seems most appropriate.

Better Than Nothing

A favorite mantra of mine, particularly when I'm feeling overwhelmed.


20 minutes at the gym?  Better than nothing.



10 minutes working on that project that follows you wherever you go?  Better than nothing.



Sometimes that's all you can do.  As long as it doesn't become your regular approach, you're okay.

Like this short post.

Better than nothing.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, a little boy lived on a farm in North Dakota. He went to a one-room schoolhouse. He would spend hours looking at the globe, tracing his finger over the shapes and strange names. 

"Mongolia. I'm going to go there some day."

Once upon a time a little girl lived in a little town in Wisconsin. She would make up stories and dance and sing into her hairbrush microphone, so much that her sisters and brother would yell at her to shut up.

"Some day I'm going to be a singer."

The little boy and the little girl grew up, met each other and married. Their marriage was typical, full of ups and downs, arguments and love fests, good times and bum times. Because they agreed their love for each other mattered more than anything else, they compromised over and over again. One year, the little boy would live out his dreams while the little girl worked to help him. The next year, the little girl would live out her dreams while the little boy worked to help him. Somehow, this arrangement lasted for decades.

Today is their wedding anniversary and they aren't together, 
but you don't need to feel sad for them. 

They aren't together because they are living their dreams.

The little boy is in Mongolia, seeing the wild horses and drinking yak milk.

The little girl is on a stage in Beijing, China, singing her heart out.

The only things missing are the globe and the hairbrush microphone.

Happy Anniversary, Richard.
I love you more.



The Glamorous Life, Beijing Style

Beijing, the capital of China. When I hear the word Beijing, I think Mao, bad air, and too many people. None of which are on my top 10 list.

Well, the air IS bad.

AQI of 175 today which means unhealthy, wear your mask.

And Mao does still exist here.

The entrance to the Forbidden City.

And there are people, LOTS of people here.

Temple of Heaven with lots of people.
But Beijing is so much more than bad air and Mao. There's a vibrant, cosmopolitan feeling in the atmosphere. Young people ride by on bikes from one of the many bikeshare companies, fancy cars (Lexus, BMW and Mercedes are big here) drive by and the crowds are loving Sister Act.  The first night, while heading to the Great Leap Brewery, I felt like I was walking in Paris. I did. The beer scene is hopping (pun intended) and food of all cuisines is easy to find. Last week, I ate American Barbeque with another excellent Chinese beer, Slow Boat. FYI, most of these beers seem to have an ex-pat partner or two.

Once again, China has surprised me. Yes, dodging parked bikes and aggressive cars while wearing a face mask is tricky, but I'm okay with that for three weeks.

Go ahead! Park it wherever you want!

How they look after the bike company workers clean up.


I've tried to see as many sites as possible. Beloved joined me this week (he's now off to Mongolia for a few days) and we packed in even more, including:

 the Lama Temple, which is a must-see in my opinion.







Summer Palace (which was mobbed the day I was there)



Great Wall, of course. Actually, I went there twice, once with my colleagues and once with Beloved.



Forbidden City, which is HUGE




Walking is an absolute necessity here, as is patience. Beijing is home to 22 million people and most days it feels like that many are visiting as well. I'm having no problem reaching 10,000 steps a day!

Don't forget that I also go to work every night (twice on Saturdays and Sundays), spreading love and joy. I am truly embracing the magnificent abundance and navigating gracefully (my Guiding Star slogan).

Our run here in Beijing ends on Sunday. Beloved returns from Mongolia and we head to Xi'an to see the Terracotta Warriors on Monday. Then it's on to Shanghai for 2 weeks there.

There's so much to tell you, but this must be enough for now. Please feel free to ask questions by posting a comment here on Creatavita or on your favorite social media platform.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Glamorous Life, Shenzhen Style

Oh boy, where do I start? There have been so many adventures, and off the stage. I'm still thriving.

First from our time in Guangzhou, which was now 2 weeks ago.

Nap time is big here in China. As it should be. The only surprise?  Public napping. Extraordinary public napping.

See these folks? I thought they were an art installation.


Hey, in my defense, they're sitting in a space in the gorgeous modern Guangzhou Opera House. See for yourself:

The opera house is behind me

One part of the opera house


Look, I stood there for at least 3 minutes, trying to determine if they were real people and decided they weren't. I was even impressed that the guy in the front had a Bluetooth gizmo in his ear. So I snapped the photo. And then the guy in the back turned the page in his book!

Only later when I saw more people in the same position in a food court did I realize what a phenomenon extreme napping is in China.

These Buildings. I tell you, the architecture is amazing. Look! These are from last week in Shenzhen

Can you see how the sculpture starts on one side of the building and ends on the other?


Shenzhen Poly Theatre
There was no way I could get enough photos to give you a true sense of the many modern buildings in Shenzhen. However, the modern buildings didn't mean good Internet. This was the first week that we encountered how the Internet works in China. Our hotel had weak Internet (much like I've experienced in the US), but when combined with needing a VPN, it was a failure. Hence, I had trouble uploading photos and posting.

We're starting to see ourselves in the publicity.
Yes, that's me - back row on the left.






My Anxious Imagination

Here I am in China, the mysterious empire on the other side of the planet. Three weeks in (I'll be here for 10 weeks), I am finding it fascinating, much easier to get around than I expected and nowhere near as intimidating as I had imagined.

Imagined. That is the key word here. Boy, what I had imagined.
I didn't imagine this.

I imagined this.



Leo Babauta of Zen Habits calls it the stories we tell ourselves. Let me tell you about the stories I had told myself.


Let's talk about my travel to China. The story I told myself was that this trip (which consisted of a short flight between Philadelphia and JFK, and a direct flight from JFK to Guangzhou) would be horrific, destined to be one of the worst I have ever taken in my life.


I was wrong.


How did I get there? It's a question worth exploring because inside the answer is a key to so many triggers for my personal anxiety, which I'm going to guess is similar to your anxiety.


Online Reviews - I dislike online reviews. Even though I know the best approach to online reviews (throw out the top and bottom rated ones, read the middle), the negative ones seem to form my story. And once that negative review is in my head, I can't get rid of that information.  So when I read the numerous negative reviews for the airline I was flying to China, I was convinced this trip was going to be a disaster.


Bad Customer Service - The airline industry struggles with providing high-quality customer service (I hope that sentence made you laugh out loud.).  This same airline with the negative reviews has a seat reservation system that is inconvenient to say the least. It was impossible to reserve my seat online. Which meant I had to call one phone number to find out I had to call another phone number, then talk to a service rep who was clearly having trouble communicating. So he hung up. So I called back. He didn't hang up this time, but there was plenty of silence, as I heard sounds in the background (is he making coffee? is he in an office or his house? where is he on the planet?), received short answers, and finally was asked for my credit card information. You anxious for me?


This airline's website also states a carry- on weight limit of 5 kgs, which is about 11 pounds. 11 pounds for carry-on??!? Look, I'm good at keeping my weight limits down when traveling, but even I think 11 pounds for a long-haul flight is ridiculous. Do I pack 11 pounds or go with everything (which was about 16 pounds) and hope they let me on the plane? And yes, I was once stopped from taking an overweight carry-on onto a long-haul flight, and yes, I have not forgotten that experience.

Her Experience Will Not Be Your Experience - I love this phrase, given to me by Tara Tagliaferro. Unfortunately, I forgot it. Since some of my colleagues had had a negative experience with the demon airline, I convinced myself I would also have a negative experience.

Mental Tape Loops - once they're going, they're going. I have a heck of a time getting them to stop.

This all combined to make me a pretty difficult person to be around. At one point I yelled at Beloved, "Look. I know I am not handling this well. I am trying and I am failing.". He just looked at me and went back to his crossword puzzle. Smart move on his part.

So what did work?

Live in This Moment - which is really challenging for me when I'm feeling this anxious. But it works. I remind myself to live in this moment, not the one that just went by, not the one that's around the corner.

Trusting My Gut - which felt completely confused. I would literally stop myself, breathe, ask myself what was the best thing to do in this moment, wait for an answer and go on. I wasn't entirely successful (see yelling at Beloved above), but I tried.

Get Away - take a vacation from my anxiety. When I was as packed and prepared as possible, I dropped it all and went for a walk in Valley Forge National Park with Beloved. I looked at trees, I watched tourists, I felt the fresh air on my skin. This was the best thing I could do with my time and energy. At the end of the walk, I felt more settled and had a much better perspective on my life.

The trip? Ended up being one of the easiest long-haul flights I have ever taken. My flight from Philadelphia to JFK actually landed early. I was the first person to check in for the flight to Guangzhou. No one batted an eye at my carry-on. The customer service rep goodheartedly agreed with me that the seat reservation system was inadequate. The flight left on time and was comfortable. The food was airline food. Hey, we're not looking for miracles, just less anxiety!

And here I am.
Writing this for you, three weeks later, it is hard to recall how anxious I actually was. I mean my stomach is tightening, my hands are getting cold and my brain is looking for something to be anxious about, but I am realizing that all of this is still an anxious ol' story I tell myself. Living through this anxiety made me realize how I can work with my anxiety and not let it win every time.

What about you?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Persisting Brings Joy

Yes, that's the theatre.
The Poly Theatre Shenzhen.

Creataviters, it happened. One of my Guiding Star Touchstones, Persisting Brings Joy, worked.

After 100 performances covering the role of Mother Superior and appearing nightly in the Ensemble of Sister Act, I finally went on as Mother Superior.

Ni hao Shenzhen.

I've been wanting to tell this woman's story ever since I met her. I'll admit, when I was offered my current contract (covering the role, not performing it regularly), I was disappointed. I even shed a few tears. This woman lives in my soul. I know her like the back of my hand. We have much in common. But I sucked it up, realized my good fortune and opportunity, and moved through the disappointment so I could come to Asia with a bunch of really good folk.

Going on is always full of emotion. Somebody else is sick or injured. And in this case I really, really, really like (okay, let's call it love) this person - Rebecca Mason-Wygal. If you look up the word professional in the dictionary, there's a picture of Rebecca. But guess what. She gave me advance notice, she sent me hints telling me to make sure to find the handkerchief and crucifix, she even gave me a present! That's right, no petty jealousy here.

Then there's the other cover, my best friend on this tour, Megan Opalinski. Like me, she's also covered this role before and not gone on. Only by the luck of the draw (we'll be switching the roles we're covering very soon) did I go on this week.  Guess who came up to me during the show with many thumbs up and "you're doing greats"? Guess who was the first one to hug me after the curtain dropped?  And I don't mean a fake, sure you were okay, I'll take one for the team hug. I mean an authentic, boy, am I proud of you, congratulations hug. Yup, Megan. Her picture is right next to Rebecca's in that dictionary.

What did I realize from this experience?

Discipline Works. You know, I don't think of myself as disciplined, but I am. I have a very specific routine as a cover (which is coming in another post). I'll tell you right now, it involves daily review of my lines and staging, as well as daily vocal work. It also means I am keeping myself rested and as healthy as possible. That means making choices about when to socialize and when to go to bed. Not always fun, but I'm here to perform a show first and enjoy myself second.

Together We Are Strong. I used to fail at this concept. Epically. I felt so insecure, I thought I had to hang onto all of the marbles for myself. I would close off from colleagues who were just trying to be my friend. Thank God I've figured out what a waste of energy that was. Rebecca and Megan were not the only colleagues who stood next to me, gave me encouragement or offered to help. And what a difference that made.


That's a wig.
Be Prepared. Which is really an offspring of Discipline Works. Will I go on again? One never knows when one is a cover. My job is to be prepared and that's what I do. I wake up every day and know that my priority is to be prepared. The rest is up to someone else, so I don't even think about it. I have enough to do making sure I'm prepared.

That's Megan behind with the big authentic smile on her face.
I have so much more to tell you, but it is time for me to rest. Now you get out there and persist. Because joy is around the corner waiting for you.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Day In The Life, Part 1


In May, I asked you what you were curious about. What did you want to know from Creatavita? One of you (thank you for the comment, Unknown) requested a post about my daily life. As I said in my comment, I didn't think that would be of interest. I was glad to find out it would be...at least to Unknown. I started composing a draft about my daily life and was quickly stymied. Writing this was more challenging than I anticipated. How DO I spend my time? How do I write about it without sounding inane (10:45 - bathroom break)?

So, another series of posts is born, because the daily life of a touring performer differs greatly, depending on what part of the process the project is in.

Today, I'll start with a day in the life when I am in rehearsals. I'm intending to write at least 3 more posts in this series. Why? My schedule is a bouncing ball and I believe knowing about said schedule would provide insight for many of you.

I'll start with a day in the life, New York City rehearsal style, in April 2017.

6:30 am - The alarm goes off. I always start everyday with my gratitude practice (I focus on my Guiding Star slogan and think of three things for which I am grateful). Once that's done, my feet willingly hit the floor.

I can't believe my good fortune. I'm staying at the East Side apartment of a very generous friend. The apartment, like most Manhattan apartments, isn't large, but it is comfortable. When my friend is in town for work, I sleep on the pullout sofa (it's really comfortable). When she's isn't here, I get the bed. She's high up in the corporate world, so her hours are even longer than mine. Consequently, when I'm here, I'm usually alone.

I prefer to start the day quietly and slowly, Hence, the next two hours are filled with:
Coffee and reading the paper (yes, I still read the paper, and you should too)
Breakfast
Prepare lunch
Shower, dress and pack for the day (I've usually prepped the night before)
Vocalize and review material for today’s rehearsal.

8:45 am - Most days I walk to work. I allow 45 minutes so I'm sure to be early. If I choose to stop for coffee, or walk a different route, I know I'll have time. I also use this time to talk to Beloved. Occasionally, I take the subway, but since I enjoy the morning walk and find it an excellent easy stretch, that's my first choice.

9:30 am - I arrive at the rehearsal studio. Rehearsal doesn't start until 10:00 am, but I HATE BEING LATE. I find it beneficial to have this time to take care of questions or just socialize with my new colleagues. Then there's going to the bathroom. While this might seem severe, leaving rehearsal to go to the bathroom is frowned upon. Texting or taking a phone call is also a huge no-no; it's best to take care of all personal business before rehearsals start.

10:00 am - Alright, let's head into the first rehearsal session of the day. Usually, there is a 10-minute break every 50 minutes, but since this is a non-union production, that is not required. As we get further into the process, we're more likely to work through break times.

Rehearsal for a show like Sister Act (specifically, for the Nuns) is intense. We have intricate vocal harmonies, which switches from 2 parts to 3 parts to 4 parts and back again, all in one song. We have "ography"; while the movement for this show isn't classified as dance, it is complex and there is a LOT of it. Then there's the scenes where we aren't dancing, but we are singing or just being. We start the rehearsal period working each element separately, combining them by the 5th day of rehearsal.

Because this show requires so much movement, there's no dressing up for work. My uniform consists of workout clothes and sneakers. Comfort is a must. At first, this is great. Even though I splurged and bought most of my rehearsal clothes at Athleta, by the end of week 2, I'm tired of them. I'm dying to wear real clothes.


This is us in April.


This is us in May.

One of the travails of this rehearsal period is the climate control in the rehearsal studio. First cold, then hot. Those of us moving are hot, while those sitting are cold. The door has to stay closed because of the sound and that heats up the room. Just right doesn't exist.

2:00 pm - Lunch. We get 60 minutes for lunch, which can get easily swallowed up. I usually like to get some fresh air on a lunch break, but the area around this studio is congested with no green spaces close by. Most days I bring my lunch and stay in the building. This gives me more time to eat (standing in NYC food lines can suck up a lot of time) and leaves more money in my pocket. This is also the only opportunity of the day to return phone calls, emails, texts, etc. Brush my teeth, use the restroom, chat with my colleagues and we're back. The 60 minutes zooms by.

3:00 pm - Back to work. It's a repeat of the morning.


6:00 pm - Rehearsal day is done. I take the subway home or walk, possibly run an errand (hello CVS) and eat dinner. Most nights after dinner, I study. That's right, I study. Because I do my best work up on my feet,
I rearrange the furniture so I can get up and practice blocking and choreography, being careful not to break anything! I take breaks to work out, write for Creatavita, and interact in my digital world.

I'm in New York, so you'd think I'd see some theatre or get out. I do. I get to two shows and I see friends for dinner three times. Yes, that's all. Disappointing, right? Folks, I'm just too tired at the end of the day! Besides, I know I need to use the energy I have left to work on the material for the next day. I'm here to do a job and it is my intention to do the best job possible every day. Being prepared is key to making that happen.

10:30 pm - I'm done. I crawl into bed with a book, content with a good day's work, ready to rest my body and brain.