Friday, November 17, 2017

The Last Gift.

I got off the plane, my uncle pulled up and ushered for me to get in. He was talking to a funeral director on the phone. My grandmother had passed away. I was flying into to see her, and spend some time, and she passed away that very same day. My Uncle got off his phone, handed it to me and asked me to read the eulogy out loud to him as he drove. I read it, all the while thinking, wow this is so well done. The details of her life so specific, her interests so spot on, and I learned some details about her that I hadn't known before. I asked him who wrote it, and he responded, my Nan. She wrote it, and so the journey began. A lot of us don't want to think about death, especially our own, but I learned something from my beloved Nan in her passing - she left us a final gift. My Nan was a month shy of 96, and she passed peacefully. I am in deepest gratitude for this, and yet the fog of a loved one passing is no less. It leaves you in a state of confusion, that something is not quite right, it's all a mistake and when you wake up tomorrow she will be there. But she wasn't, and there were logistics to tend to. And, as we followed the treasure map of her memorial my grandmother left in her passing I was blown away at the gift that was bestowed on the family. She was a planner. My grandmother wrote her own eulogy, she had given away most her stuff, she had sold her house, her camper, her car. She had picked the priest, she had picked the church, she had picked the cemetery, picked were donations go, had a flower lady, bought the grave plots, the grave stone, and the casket. Needless to say, I think she was ready. I sat with Father Jim, the man she requested to do her mass and I understood why - we laughed and cried as he told stories about her, stories I had never heard. At the viewings I stared at her pink embroidered casket. It made me smile as tears streamed down my face, my grandmother loved pink. It was like being invited to a life celebration for my grandmother, thrown by my grandmother - and I can't tell you how incredibly thoughtful that felt. In my mourning I could barely remember my name - I can't imagine trying to pick out a casket or trying to find the right person to say her services. This is not to say my mother and my uncles didn't do much, they did everything. Yet, it was following  my Nan's guiding. I am so grateful for that. It was her last gift to us, the final act of generosity ensuring her life party was the way it should be, and that her loved ones were cared for in the process.

Photo by Juliia Nardin
from "Coriolanus: Fight like a Bitch"

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Role of Roles.

Recently I have been observing the role of roles. I have always run from being stuck in any form of role in my personal life. It felt confining, constricting, restricting, un-freeing, and un-natural. And, yet as an artist, I am often called to play different roles, parts, and characters. I personally though have never viewed these characters as roles, I simply felt them as different parts of myself that I was letting come to the surface. I am currently playing a character who I simply can not deny that she lives and thrives in her roles. I looked at it many different ways and when I came back to it over and over I saw the truth. She is a Wife. She is a Mother. She is a Daughter, and she Wants to be. She thrives in these Roles. I resisted, I persisted, I insisted that she is not only that at first, and then I thought, why am I judging "only that" she is an embodiment of love, and that is everything. She does not know herself without giving and receiving love to others and that is incredible. As I looked deeper, I didn't find a woman caught in "de-selfing"  in the classic term of loosing oneself to others. I found a woman who knows herself most in love, and therefore her "roles" are not bound in fear but choices that go way beyond the self. The choices to take pride in these roles come from the utmost commitment and strength. The deeper I went in this direction, the deeper I felt her. Freed when she caressed her child, elated in the arms of her lover, and humbled to the wisdom of her mother. Yes, we do not want to get stuck in "a role" and in defining ourselves by others, yet at the same time...I was growing. There is a freedom in the form, fuel in the love, peace in the commitment, and a healthy relinquishing in the roles. I was in love with love. When you love your family so much that it feels like your heart is beating outside of your body it is tremendously scary, and vulnerable - but also your heart has expanded. It was humbling, I had much to learn from her. There is a role of roles, I suppose, when we choose them with love.

Photo By Julia Nardin
Virgilia from Coriolanus: Fight like a Bitch

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fight Like a B.I.T.C.H.

 Three weeks into rehearsals for Rebel Kat Productions all female production of "Coriolanus: Fight like a Bitch" a rage brews in my belly. The women in this show are fantastic, every one of them, as well as the design team, production team, the producers, and the director. I am thrilled sitting at table reads, thrilled in movement sections, thrilled working on the script at home. And yet, a rage grows in my belly. A rage I didn't know was there, and I have probably been sitting on since I was young girl. It was awakened in our first rehearsal when our director asks us how we would fight, as women. Not learning to "fight like a man" for once but if we were really in a situation where we needed to fight in - how would we fight? I didn't know. I had to sit with it. I felt where the power in my body lived, and what areas I would move towards, and what areas I would move from. And that was how the anger was awoken.
 Originally in Shakespeare's plays the entire cast was played by men - even the women's roles. Now I sit round a table with a cast of women, I feel like knights of the round table, entirely with glorious ladies. And, they are not playing these roles as men in this production - they are playing these roles as women. Women who fight, who lead, who stand for rights. They listen, they laugh, they support, they fight - like a Bitch.
 I'm playing one of only two characters in the show that were originally written as women, and I feel the difference in their portrayal. Vulnerable, silent, obedient, emotional, beautiful, this was the ideal...and they were often viewed as weak. As I read and re-read the script I am continually struck by their strength. How active listening takes so much wisdom and courage, how holding space for your family takes the utmost strength, how wearing your emotions on your sleeve takes tremendous heart, and how being vulnerable is the ultimate act of honesty. Fight like a Bitch, yes, I will thank you...and as I fall more in love with the army of incredible women in the room with me everyday, I see the fullness from all sides. There are infinite ways to be a woman, and every one of them in their authenticity are absolutely perfect. Thank you "Coriolanus" team.

Photo by Valera Vulfson
Come See: Coriolanus: Fight Like A Bitch
#FightLikeABitch #Seattle #Arts #AllFemale #Shakespeare #SEAThtr

Intimate Sensitivity

Photo by Navid Baraty

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Just Add Value.

Photo By John Britton

It's time to start thinking about what we value, because what we value will show us who we are and where to spend our time and energy. Oftentimes I believe that our values unknowingly are placed upon us by external factors, cultural norms, and the opinions of others - but I think we really need to take the time to acknowledge what we personally value. If you are finding that something about your life feels off course, but you are not exactly sure why, take a look at your values and see if what you value fits with where you are spending your time and energy, there may be a performance gap. Everyone should look at their core values. I suggest to try to look at and identify a handful of your deepest core values, and work from there outwards.

I value my health I feel like if I can't enjoy my body and mind then everything else is dimmed, so for this reason I take care of myself. I value peace of mind so I try to attend to things in a way where my mind is not constantly worrying. I value waking up each day and doing what I love. This may mean I make choices based more on passion than security. I value our planet and all the animals and plants in it, this means I make choices about what to eat, to recycle, to reuse and reduce and try to make my footprint as small as possible. I value honesty which means I try to be transparent to myself and my friends and family. I value my time. You will very rarely see me spend or waste time on things that are not interesting to me. I value my community and service, my partner, my family, and my friends, as well as those in need. I put a lot of energy into these things because they are important to me. There's not a right or wrong in terms of values, however be aware if you are in alignment with yours. If you are spending a lot of time money and energy on things that are not aligned with what you really value and care about then you may feel off track in your life. If you are spending all your time, energy, and resources directly towards the things that you value the most, then no matter what anyone else says or does to you, you will feel a very high-value, confidence, and enjoyment in your own life. 

Take your life back and just add value!

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Power of No

Photo by Navid Baraty from Ode - a stage song
Recently I have been experiencing the joy of the Power of No. 

Often times in our life I think particularly as women we are taught and trained to accommodate which basically means saying yes to things. There is a beauty in this, being easy-going, being compassionate, being understanding, being flexible, and yet over time it can become both wearing and draining. So what are the benefits of saying No? I have found this new thing called saying No and it feels great. I feel like I know my boundaries better, I know what I really want and what I am doing for others just to be nice. When I say no to things that I don't want or do not seem right for me there is more room for the things that are right and do feel good. There is an honesty in no and a clarity and because of that people trust where you stand because they know that when you say yes you will really mean it. I noticed that when I say no I feel less of a need to blame judge or criticize others. I think when we say no we are setting our boundaries of what we want and so we are generally more fulfilled and therefore can allow people to just live their life. The need to blame disappears as well as the feeling of being a victim. I would suggest that in saying no there is no need to be mean or angry or blaming it is simply a firm assertion of what does not work for you. Then what does work for you has the power and the space and the clarity to come through. This is just some of the powers of saying No. I would suggest you listen to what you really really want in your heart and all the things that you don't really really really want just say no to and let them go. I wish you peace and Bliss on your journey.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Service your Depression

I feel like this past winter I saw and encountered a lot of people who were struggling with depression. It's a challenging beast, and I notice that in the Northwest many people are affected by lack of sun and a lot of rain. Now that we are moving into summer I would like to plant this seed for next winter, and even for now if it is needed. I would like to offer a small yet powerful antidote to your depression, whether it is seasonal affected disorder, situation related, bio-chemical, or something else all together. Get outside of yourself. Take care of someone else who is struggling, volunteer at an organization that helps those in need, listen to your friend, walk a neighbors dog, make a meal for a stranger, save a bug, take care of a plant, surprise someone with an act of service. I realize that depression comes in many different levels, and forms, and I do not claim to know or understand all the answers, and I recognize that for certain levels of depression professional help is needed and necessary... however - I also know that regardless of the severity - making the world a better place through helping others always makes us feel good no matter what the level of depression. And, don't think that you can't include yourself in this circle. Often many of us spend a lot of time lost in and/or thinking about our selves, but how often to we actually nurture and take good honest care of ourselves. Serve our own soul. This is very different. Depression can be self focused and extremely isolating, and not nurturing to the self in the slightest, and not that this is the cause of the pain or depression, but it certainly does not help to breaking the cycle. Get out side of yourself, I promise you will feel better even when it's hard. At times working with kids in prison they would get very depressed, and I would have them make cards for kids who were sick or terminally ill in the hospital. It was amazing to see these cards and how incredibly good it made them feel about themselves and how invested they would become in these other children - true empowerment through compassion. It will service others, it will service your depression, it will service the world. I wish you peace, I wish you happiness. Serve depression with service!

Photo by Navid Baraty from "Ode" a stage song