Producing Love

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How does one keep love in mind, at the forefront of everything one does? I would love to say that I have an answer to that question or better yet, that I’ve been able to do it. But I don’t. I think at best it is an intention that manifests in the little actions we take. Sometimes we are looking out for the big demonstrations for proof, but in doing so we miss the lovely, small, unexpected, unconventional moments that contribute to a foundation of love. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the love language test, or anything like it, but it is a great one for raising our awareness to the multitude of ways that love can be shown and that love can be received. It also helps us understand that some people respond better to certain expressions of love. We often give the type of love that we want to receive.

I’ve always enjoyed producing for AboutFACE because of our ethos of love. Sometimes we get it wrong or miss opportunities, but other times we just get it right and I feel absolutely grateful to work with the people that I do. We have built a family that we work with and these past few readings we’ve had, we’ve been able to expand that family, to bring in people from our “extended family” and it is such a joy to watch these people work. When you are doing something you love, it truly fans the fire or ember or spark and it helps those around you to find their flame again.

The creative life is not a life that everyone feels comfortable living and it shouldn’t be expected that everyone does, just like not everyone speaks the same love language. But igniting that creative spark or seeing it flame is one of my favorite things in the world. Sharing your creative soul with me is a gift I’m eternally grateful for. And maybe that is my little way of offering love. Wanting to see in you what your soul wants to express.

The Joy of Play

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How can we forget the joy of play? Playing with your whole body (like tag) brings a greater joy. Working with a group towards the goal of fun (heart-rate up, eyes shining, smiles uncontrollable) is something I highly recommend.

I just started Drama Facilitator training with NAYD (the National Association for Youth Drama) in Ireland. And boy, I’ve had so much resistance. But I figure, if I’m there I might as well give it my all and so I’ve thrown myself in and been given a huge gift: experiencing the joy of play. The desire to bring more play into my acting drove me to create Story Haven with Amy Elise de Jong back in 2010. We created a drama/story curriculum for young people that encouraged play and creativity over performance. It was just what my soul needed at the time. Now nearly seven years on, I am getting an unexpected jolt that goes beyond my acting.

This joy of play has a broader application too – life. Yes! What if life is always giving us “offers” (a.k.a. opportunities) just like the best improvisation? As adults (and even as children) we tend to delineate between good and bad offers and more often than not we say “no.” So what if we tune in more fully to that little voice inside that is willing to dare to be different, to step out of our comfort zone and to take an offer and courageously say “YES” even if you don’t know where it is going to lead. I think we would all be surprised by what LIFE has for us. And yes, sometimes the offer comes by as a delay or a death or a break-up, and we should mourn what we need to mourn. But even then, maybe we should be asking, where is the opportunity in this?

And it doesn’t even matter if we get it right! Maybe we misread the offer, say yes and find ourselves on a completely unknown, unexpected and unfamiliar path. And that’s okay too. Sometimes getting it wrong is the disguise for inspiration for those around you, because this life is not lived in isolation and reaching out and saving a friend is just as important as saving ourselves! So next time the opportunity to play comes up, say YES, and dive in. You will not be disappointed!! Laughter is the best medicine and the great connector.

Last Tango Brings Tears

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If you’ve seen “Last Tango in Halifax” then you will know what I’m talking about. The writing (Sally Wainwright) and the superb acting (Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker, Anne Reid & Derek Jacobi) combine for a powerhouse show. There is a reality to this show that you don’t often see on TV. There were seriously times that I was in awe of the writing and performances. More often than not I ended up in tears – tears of recognition of heartbreak and inability to communicate, tears of knowing. What a beautiful gift to share with the world, stories that truly speak to your soul and connect you to humanity. We may not be perfect, but we are united in that imperfection. I definitely need those reminders myself. I am not alone in my grief or hurt and I am not alone in my joy. Sometimes it costs us very little to offer an olive branch to a friend or family member, sometimes it feels like it costs a great deal. But either way the true reward is the connectedness you feel. Give an olive branch, accept an olive branch whenever you can. You are not alone.

Letting Go

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I’ve recently become reacquainted with my propensity toward attachment. In one way or another it is something that I’ve always known about myself – maybe from moving around so much, maybe not – I’ve always been able to feel affectionate regard for things quite quickly. In a new place I’ll find ways to feel at home, to make it my own. With new people, I will look for connections and ways we click. With things, I will associate them with the place, event, person and fond memories around the time they were acquired. I’m an attacher. In one definition of attachment, it equates responsiveness with attachment, and this is in no way a problem for me because even if it is an inanimate object I will endow it with life and meaning. Even if it is an idea or a hope, I will attach. In many ways this ability to attach has been a gift – it makes me fiercely loyal, protective and affectionate. It means that people trust me and feel safe in my presence.

The flip side is that it weighs me down. Think of those vacuum cleaners with multitudinous attachments, the ones where you cannot even find a place to put all of the attachments so you tie or velcro them on, wedge them in between each other. That is me. In a recent course on abundance we spent one of the weeks clearing space. My husband and I picked an area – clothing, I think – and started purging, using the “Does this give me joy?” barometer. And wow, it worked and that space felt so good. I reduced my hours at my job to make time for creative work and boom, I booked an acting gig. Making space can bring you joy!

Now as we prep to move out of the apartment we have been in for a decade, we are using the KonMari Method to help us purge, clear and start fresh. I love the results, but the process can be pretty painful for me. The first couple of days I could be found occasionally curled up in the fetal position. It exhausts me and I just want to cry. Why? I have accumulated a whole lot of stuff. And I am attached to my stuff. It makes me feel safe, secure, important and ready for anything. Letting go makes me feel like I am in crisis mode. However, as I shred these documents I’ve been attached to, including the police reports and claims from when I was hit by a car, I see the stories I’ve held onto and how they have helped me stay small. When you are buried in stuff, weighed down by your possessions and relationships that don’t feed you, you are not available to say yes – your wings just don’t have the space to spread out. This painful process of clearing out, detaching, separating and letting go is providing me with a beautiful chance to grow and heal. It is time to let go of old beliefs. It is time to grow into the woman who I want to be, who I was made to be. This process of becoming me requires a lot of trust and faith. I may not “arrive” in this lifetime, but I will continue on this path, surrounding myself with joy, stretching out my wings and, when the time is right, flying.

untilyouspreadyourwings

One Fine Day

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Last summer I had the privilege of acting in “It’s a Fine Day,” a one act by Mayumi Lane as part of the HB Studios event The Central Park Plays. Jes Bedwinek and I played sisters laying our mother to rest in Central Park. It was such a pleasure to work with director Celine Rosenthal. Celine and Jes were at the same MA program together (for directing and acting respectively) and I so appreciated the relationship they have built – the shorthand and respect that comes from working together multiple times over a number of years. I’ve always believed in the strength of the company system. Of course it can work both ways, but the benefits I see are that your relationship off-stage enriches and deepens your relationships on-stage. You are able to communicate quickly and effectively. You know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and are in a position to call one another out in love. And that is probably the biggest benefit – love. When you truly appreciate and have a real relationship with those you work with, the love comes through the work and is seen and experienced by the audience and everyone around you.

As a new chapter in my life is about to begin, I take with me the knowledge and joy that one fine day Paul and I will be standing in a theatre that we have built with the people we love, and that we will have a chance to see that love grow and develop relationships with artists and audiences alike. Love is a powerful force and meant to be shared!

good company