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.

Whipping Wind

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As the wind whips around and the rain falls chaotically, I think about the times when on the inside I have felt a similar storm shaking me to the core. Sometimes it is so clear that the turmoil is created in our own minds, but sometimes it feels that it is all from outside circumstances and we feel helpless. Reflecting back though, I see more and more that the inner struggle stems from my desire to alter what is and the utter frustration that I can’t change circumstances or make things better for the people I love. What happens then when we accept what is, those horrendous, frightening, frustrating circumstances and say simply “it is so”? Does that mean then that we are giving permission for the “bad” things to reign? This is a tricky area I think, because accepting is not the same thing as permission. From the outside they can look identical. I think about a number of men that I know who are in custody struggles for their children – all of them lovely fathers. I see them trying to find the right balance between standing up for their children and their right to have their fathers present in their lives and laying down the fight so that the child can be left out of a battle and have peace. Neither seems like the “right and just” response. And sometimes when we are in the thick of it, we cannot even see the other possibilities, it feels like we are fighting for our own lives.

But here is the truth. This storm will pass. You can choose to shout and struggle and yell at the heavens or you can recognize the storm for what it is; put on a jacket, hat and rain boots and do your best to keep walking. To some that may seem really difficult, and it is and it isn’t. The only thing standing between you and the calm is yourself – your choices, your thoughts. And boy can that be a frustrating notion. I know that I hate getting out of the way myself, especially when I feel I am in the right and justified. Without even being aware I put down my feet and resist what is as it is not what I want it to be. Eventually, and on some issues it has taken me years, I can see my stroppy teenager holding court and when it is that clear it becomes easier to say, “okay, we can let go of this fight, it is what it is.” And with that comes such relief, and also usually tears, because I was so attached to the way I thought things should be, that unbeknownst to myself I was expending unconscious energy willing the world to be different. I’ve always wanted superpowers, but telekinesis is not yet a skill of mine. Surrendering one’s will and accepting what is can be a powerful step to reconciliation and a huge step towards accepting love. And if you’re feeling really brave you can even be thankful for the circumstances of the storm. Everything changes when you are no longer spending your energy on willing things to be different. Your whole life changes when you look at it from a place of gratitude.

If you are currently in a storm, know that even this storm will pass and gently give yourself a break from the struggle. Feel the rain whipping around you and the wind caressing you and release the fight.

Adele “Make You Feel My Love” https://youtu.be/0put0_a–Ng

Maya Angelou says…

Phenomenal Woman by Dr. Maya Angelou
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I’m not sure when I first came across Maya Angelou or why I feel such a deep connection to her and her writing. I guess I have always been drawn to spiritual women, women who I feel share a deep connection to mother earth and all people. Sister Fabu was another such woman and in some ways paved the path for my heart connection to Dr. Maya Angelou. Sister Fabu (not a nun) oversaw the summer and after-school program I worked at way back in the 1990s. Fabu was also a poet and she embodied peace and grace. Watching her mere presence calm an overexcited child was beautiful to behold. I wanted to be like her in the absolute best sense of the notion. To be able to hold a room of children, adults, whoever, in love. To be able to share a sense of grace, forgiveness and acceptance with all you encounter. That is something I hope in my lifetime to be able to do. Even if it is a fraction of what women like Maya Angelou and Sister Fabu were able to share, I know it will change the lives of others and my own.

I have a strong affinity to Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman.” In our first year of drama school this was the poem I chose to work on in voice class. Perhaps at the heart of this poem is the same kernel of what draws me to these phenomenal earth mother types – there is an acceptance and celebration of self, there is an awareness of the attractiveness and power in that, and there is a visceral expression of that love in the rhythm and between the lines. And always there is the mystery, how despite all odds this human being can share so much love. So thank you, Sister Fabu and Maya Angelou, for demonstrating what womanhood can look like, what embodied grace and love feels like, and what truth and acceptance sound like. I am forever in your debt.

Phenomenal Woman by Dr. Maya Angelou

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

Love Knows No Bounds

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I truly believe that love can find you anywhere. You could be on a solo pilgrimage through the Himalayas or living like a hermit in the highlands of Scotland and love would find you. I’m not talking about romantic love, though that is possible too. I’m talking about “a god or personification of love” or “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” (Merriam-Webster online). Love WILL find you in the darkest of places, even if you don’t want to be found. And yes, you can resist, you can run, but truly you cannot hide. You will always be discovered and no matter what, you will be found and you will be loved.

Wow, that is a powerful thought. You may read this and not believe me and that is okay. Someday you will see a sunrise so beautiful it takes your breath away, you will see the intricate design of an individual snowflake and appreciate its fleeting beauty, you will see a child running and laughing and against your wishes you will be filled with laughter. That is love.

If you haven’t stopped running I challenge you to do so, let love catch up, feel the warmth and bliss of being wrapped in love. You may never be the same.

#ShineYourLight

Grace Needed, Grace Now

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full-of-hopeI may be a bit obsessed with grace. My name does mean “full of grace” after all, but maybe it is just because there is such a need for it. Grace can be a bit tricky to define and often carries with it a religious connotation, but for me grace is another word for love. What makes grace different is that it is love in action that is perceived to be undeserved. In my first draft of this blog post I talked about how humbled I felt by grace because I feel so undeserving, but then I had a coaching session with a remarkable woman, Kristin Hanggi, and my perspective shifted. Grace is actually a unique form of love that is humbling because it reveals the boundless nature of love; it is forgiveness, it is compassion, it is understanding. Grace grounds you in the truth that we are all connected and it resonates deep down because it says “I am the same as you.” Grace isn’t just given from on high; it is given laterally and that is what is so amazing. Love is a powerful entity and I want to be more open to it in my life. It is so powerful that it can be scary, but it is also extremely beautiful. There is a pervasive feeling of unworthiness that I feel and see, and grace should be what lifts us up, dusts us off and shines through us. Love is needed in this world. When we get an opportunity to share love, we should take it. When I witness an exchange that says “you are worthy,” it moves me and fills me with love. The balm of grace is a beautiful gift.

In a recent yoga session led by my talented sister, I learned that the area around the solar plexus is the core of our identity. And that is where I feel it when I see an act of mercy or kindness, an unexpected gift given and received, an extending of love where before there was hate. It moves me in the very center of my being, it resonates in my soul. May this holiday season be filled with love; breathe it in, savor it and share it with whomever you meet. You will be stronger and richer for it.