About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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Wednesday
Jul282010

What does a Dream Board look like? 

 

 

This is one of our V-Day creations.

It's called a Dream Board.  

It's basically a visual representation of the things we dream about. And it's purpose is to serve as a reminder of the things we long for. So that we won't forget.

So that we don't get distracted from the things that make us feel alive.

I have a picture of a lighthouse because someday I want to live by the beach.

I put pictures taken from a friend of mine who built wells in Africa because I want to be engaged with third world countries. With helping in practical ways. With raising my children to have perspective on the world, not just their tiny neighborhood.

I have a postcard from the play Crave because directing it my senior year in college was the most cathartic experience of my life.

The chair in the street is another reminder that someday I want to have my own theatre company. Or at least direct plays.

I put a wedding picture up there because I dream of staying happily married. And maybe both working from home so we can be together a lot.

 

I have things from Europe on my board because I want a life that lets me travel.

I have concert ticket stubs because nothing gets me quite like the experience of watching people give everything they've got in a public forum.

 

Under the dream, "Own my own theatre company," I had posted these three blurbs:

1) " I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being. --Thornton Wilder

2) "I came to New York in the late '70's: New York is where everyone in the world comes to make it.  You have 500 people auditioning for a soap commercial.  I said, "That's not why I became an actor."  So I came to the conclusion as I was growing in my faith that the powers that be are the producers and directors; the actor is just a hired hand.  He has to develop his skill sets at the service of someone else's message.  In my case I thought that was schizophrenic.  That was like serving two masters and I didn't want to spend my life doing that.  So I left the theatre.

3)  The vision of the Fellowship of Performing Arts: "At the root of understanding Christianity is the admission that the world is not what it ought to be, and at the heart of being a Christian is the confession that, 'I am part of the problem.'  Many of us are motivated to exert enormous energy to realize perceived ultimate values-usually some form of power, profit, or pleasure-that override humility, virtue, and sacrifice.  The result is often conflict and disintegration....When we see characters on stage choosing wrongly, maybe we'll come to grips with disintegration in our own lives."

 

 

 

Here is why I posted these quotations on my dream board:

1) I feel so deliciously human when I am onstage. You know the dream where you are on stage in your underwear and everyone is laughing at you?  I like that feeling.  As long as it's my emotional underwear and not my actual underwear.  I love feeling like I can be the surrogate for other people's breakthroughs.  If I can be brave enough to go through it onstage, maybe I make a way for someone in the audience to go through it in the privacy of their home, to face the demons and bare the brokenness.  It is a glorious thing to be human, to live this life, to be messed up, and to share the mess.

2) It was very hard for me to give up performing to get married.  I saw these two things as diametrically opposed. I could not be an actor and be a wife.  It wouldn't work. I had to choose.  I chose Michael, knowing I would be a fool to let love go so I could play Laurey in yet another summer stock production of Oklahoma.  And that's when it really hit me.  Being an actor is being a pawn-the player in somebody else's dream game.  I wanted to write the game, not swallow the life of a gypsy typecast actress doing the same musicals over and over just so I could say I was performing, that I was "making it."  There are a thousand dark-haired sopranos with good acting chops that can easily do whatever I would have done as an actress.  Call it hubris, but I want to do something significantly unique, and since there is nothing new under the sun, I'm certainly not going to give up true love serving someone else's dream.

3) I love to write drama where characters choose wrongly.  I want to mine the disintegration.  Especially when I am writing drama for my church, I want to put everybody's dirty secrets on stage and just shout "So what of it? Who cares! This is what life is about; we are all dirty ugly glorious beautiful beings striving for the light, so let's not be afraid to get it all out on the table."  

Life is too short to pretend we are all doing fine.

 

 

Tuesday
Jul272010

From Sleep Unbound: delivering a baby


This is the last book I read for my final grad class-taken because I received free college credits through the county's staff development program, and the class met at my old high school, three minutes from my house.  The class was Literary Analysis; we read Hamlet, The Adventures of Huck Finn, and From Sleep Unbound by Andree Chedid, translated from the French Le Sommeil delivre by Sharon Spencer.

I didn't underline a single passage in this book, and I only dog-eared one page, page 107. 
Here is the passage that struck me:

"I made one decision.  I made another.  I was so deeply involved in one that it seemed the alternative had never existed.  But then it returned, took charge, and overshadowed the first.  There were a thousand reasons to run away and a thousand reasons to remain.  The most contradictory thoughts flowed together, and sometimes I wondered, where am I in all of this.

I had not yet resolved this problem when the child was born.  It is a perfect word, the word "delivery."  Everything sang inside of me.  My brain and my heart were reborn.  I breathed rhythmically.  I seemed to float between layers of air where nothing sharp could touch me."

__________________________________________________________

I remember being struck by the word delivery and Samya's feeling of deliverance from her own self through having a baby.  I'd never thought of childbirth as deliverance before.

I should have. Having a baby delivered me from myself. 

Michael and I weren't trying to get pregnant when we got pregnant.

We had only been married eight months.  I was in the process of taking grad classes; teaching full time high school English; pioneering a high school drama program; studying for the GRE's; and applying to grad schools for a degree in theatre directing.  I'd applied to schools in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Montana.  We were just going to move to wherever I got accepted (hence no New York applications).

We were praying for God's direction, and fighting back a pervasive sense of malaise.
We weren't unhappily married, but nothing else felt right.
We were restless and uninspired.

The day we found out we were pregnant, I had gone to watch the movie Syriana by myself, and then spent the rest of the afternoon in Borders trying to come up with an artist's statement- why I do theatre; why I think it's important; what I have to contribute to a program.
I was two days away from mailing out six grad school applications.

On the way home, I stopped for gas and decided to buy a pregnancy test. I hadn't missed my period; I was a little achy and that was it.  I remember staring at the test as it sat on my passenger seat-thinking that this tiny little box, six inches long, could change my entire life.

I got home, took the test, and refused to wait around to watch the results.
I walked out of the bathroom, walked back in, and saw two horizontal lines.
In disbelief, I found the Help Line phone number on the side of the box and talked to a pregnancy test  employee-a man, who upon my explanation, asked me Is this a good thing?
I answered yes with almost full conviction.
Only then did I get a Congratulations.

Then I went and folded laundry.

It was Christmas Eve.

Michael was on his way home from a friend's house.
After folding copious amounts of laundry and trying not to think about what just happened, I wrapped up the two pregnancy tests in Santa paper and placed them under our tree.

When Michael got home, I asked him if we could each open up one present.
He agreed and picked out a gift for me- I opened up two books by Gregory Maguire- Lost and Son of a Witch.
Then I handed him my lumpy package.
He started feeling it, turning it over in his hands.
He suddenly looked up at me, felt the package one more time. A slow grin spread across his face.
I shrugged my shoulders like, "Who knew?" and started crying.


We named our son Malachi Emmanuel.

As soon as Michael and I knew we were getting married, we knew we would name our first born son Malachi.
Michael's sister, Dawn, died in a car accident when she was sixteen years old.
She had written in her Bible, in the book of Malachi- I want to name my first born son Malachi.
Emmanuel came partly from it being Christmas Eve when we found out we were with child:
God with us, Emmanue.
The other part of Emmanuel came from a Ghanaian boy that captured my heart back in 2004 when I spent two weeks working in an orphanage there.


Malachi Emmanuel delivered me from myself, even as I delivered him into this world.

He was the thing we were praying for.