Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guiding Star Check In: Frustration

How ya doing, all of you with your fancy Guiding Star plans? Let me tell you how I've been doing.

Six weeks in, I was feeling the air slowly seeping out of my so-called Life with its so-called plan. I could also feel a dangerously high level of frustration mounting. That's no good for me. When I get frustrated, I listen to those crusty old voices in my head, I let bad habits replace good ones, and it's all downhill from there.  So on Wednesday evening, when it felt like my beautiful existence was about to fall apart, I told myself I was tired, which was true. I told myself a good night's rest was the best move I could make, and I went to bed.

It worked. I woke up feeling good, but...within hours, the frustration had returned. Every task was taking forever, extra tasks were appearing, my singing felt like it was disintegrating not improving, flights were delayed, plans were up in the air, the people I wanted to hear from weren't responding. You know what I mean?

These are the moments when I feel like a fraud. When everything I tell you on this blog feels like fake news. When I'm scared silly that the dog is going to come over, pull the curtain away and expose me to the world as the loser that I am.

So, one more time, I took my own advice.  I took a breath and figured out which task really needed to be done and then I did it. I started with a brief walk to the post office. Walking and saying hello to other people almost always makes me feel better, as it did today. I'm not alone.

I kept working on my voice. I set a timer for 15 minutes and focused on nothing but vocal exercises - the tough ones, the ones I don't like to do, but the ones that I know make a difference. That was not easy.

I breathed deeply and realized there was absolutely nothing I could do about a flight being delayed. However, I recognized that I could call the restaurant where I had dinner reservations (with the friend on the flight) and notify them of the situation. So I did that.

I walked to the other room and did a couple of Warrior Poses. I realized there was also nothing I could do about people responding to messages. I let go of that.

I had lunch.

I taught a voice lesson.

The flight was still delayed, so I decided to return to my singing. Guess what? The problems of the previous days and that morning had been solved. My evil plan of consistent practice had worked!

We all get frustrated, we all fall down. The difference is figuring out how to turn the frustration into motivation; how to get back up.  As Philadelphia's new hero, Nick Foles, said:

"I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing."

Yes, I have used that quote recently on this blog. How can I not?

Embrace it and grow.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Photo Friday Number 7

I think when you look at a struggle in your life, just know that's just an opportunity for your character to grow. And that's just been the message. Simple. If something's going on in your life and you're struggling? Embrace it. Because you're growing.

Photo: Hiram M. Chittenden Ballard Locks, Seattle, Washington

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Du's Response

Today's moment of joy.
Turkish kids eating ice cream and laughing.

My post about Du brought more attention to Creatavita than just about any post (except for Channeling Roy). Thank you for the reads, Creataviters. I'm always trying to figure out what I have to say that might spark a creative moment for you.

I shared the post with Du and she graciously wrote her own response, which you'll find below. For you native English speakers, a friendly reminder that Du is writing in her second language. But before we get to that, one diversion.

The original post sparked an interesting conversation with one Loyal Creataviter (hereafter known as LC) about the relationship between artists and their audience. Because LC's work involves administering young artists from around the world, her viewpoint was quite different from mine. LC's initial gut reaction was to advise caution. Communicating with me privately, she expressed some concerns about overzealous audience members crossing a line, a situation she has seen frequently.

In the end, LC and I came to the agreement that while sometimes these relationships develop blurred boundaries and misinterpretations, there is room for many types of relationships. We also agreed that the relationship that Du and I have developed is as it looks - a relationship built out of a common love for musical theatre, admiration of each other's humanity, and a moment of serendipity. One cannot plan to stand out of a superfluity of fake nuns in a shopping mall on the other side of the planet. That last sentence will make sense when you read Du's response.

What really matters, and the reason I have deliberated over this post for so long, is that I have deeply-held convictions that I believe need to be said out loud. They are, I believe, incredibly important in our modern society and I fear we are in danger of losing them.

I see too many people who have every material thing they need feeling hopeless. I see too many people who live in safe, secure environments trembling with fear - fear of the unknown, fear that has been created in their minds, either by themselves or by external forces. Meeting Du, the ensuing discussion with LC and then sitting with all of this has made me realize how important these convictions are to me. They are:

I still believe in the goodness of humanity.
I still believe in the importance of recognizing and respecting cultural differences.
I still believe in the power of art to transform lives.
I still believe in taking chances and reaching out to the unknown.

I honestly don't know how much the rest of you care about this topic, so I won't say more here. I didn't hear from anyone except LC, and believe me, I spent many moments wondering if there were others who felt this way. If you do care, post a comment (preferably here on the blog) and let's continue the discussion.

And with that, I turn this post over to my friend from Shanghai, Du:

I'm so honored that we can build up friendship.

I was 13 years old when I first saw musicals, my teacher showed us Les Miserables. And since then I love musicals.

I think watching musicals is my greatest pleasure. It's the only thing I want to do during my break time, and I can relate myself through watching musicals. Most of my friends may not understand this happiness. (Most people at my age don't like musicals very much.)

And I think our influence on each other is mutual. In Shanghai, after the show, I went to Grand Gateway 66 to join the activity. (Heidi here: Du is referring to one of the many "Nuns on the Run" press events that the Sister Act Ensemble Nuns have done on this tour. Photos below.) I started to pay close attention to you at the activity. Then I saw the show again on Sep. 16. Although you are a member of the nun, still attracts my eyeballs. So that in the whole show, I kept looking at you as soon as you appear.

Me at Nuns on the Run, Shanghai Version.

This is not Du. This is another woman I encountered during the same press event.
The Chinese LOVE to take photos.

At the end of the day, I thought about giving you some presents, wondering if it would surprise you (I believe I was surprised you and you are so sweet!). So on the last day of the show, I was so glad that I found you in the crowd and gave you presents.

Then the show was over in Shanghai, you arrived to Hangzhou, Xiamen and Japan. But I still want to see you again. Then I came to Seoul. For the first time in my life I flew from Shanghai to Korea. (In fact, after the end of Shanghai, I have thought of going to Hangzhou to see you, but due to the curriculum, I have to give up). Then I was planning to go to Seoul at that time. Prepare for everything and surprise you (before going to the Seoul, I was wondering you remember me or not)

Before I go to Seoul I have watched your FB, saw that you like yarn very much, I also know someone has already sent you yarn, (Heidi again: indeed, I received a lovely box of yarn from my dresser in Guangzhou. That gift was the first time, but not the last, that I would be the recipient of the generosity of the Chinese culture.) so I want to send you some different colors. (The Loquat cough syrup is so heavy that I cannot be able to bring over).

Du's Gifts

About being shy, actually because my poor English (as you can see), and seeing you are particularly excited and tense. Hope you can understand what I am saying.

I'm so happy to see you again, I hope to see you next time, not only this show, I'm loking forward to see your deduction of other characters. If you have the next performance please let me know, I will try my best to visit the place you are going to perform someday, just want to see you again on live stage. (I can always find you where you are in the show)

Finally hope you can take good care of yourself. To see you happy and healthy on the stage is the biggest wish of me. (I know that you was performance as Mary Laz in the show last week, so happy for you!!)

Heidi here for a final time - Thank you, Du, for your comments and your friendship. Thank you, LC for YOUR comments and YOUR friendship. Thank you, Creataviters, for reading and creating. Let's do what we can to make the world a better place today.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Photo Friday Number 6

Listen - are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?

Photo: World's End State Park, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, USA