Sunday, August 31, 2014

Incomplete Thoughts and More Questions

I thought I'd go ahead and throw this out there, even though I don't have the answer. Only questions. Only observations. Only wondering.

A number of months ago I was waiting for someone to show up at a rehearsal site. The studio was in one of those places where there are rows of businesses in what look like storage units or offices with accompanying garages. One of the businesses was, of course, a personal training/workout studio.

While I was waiting the personal trainer came out with two clients. I watched as he barked orders at them, as they said "yes, sir" and performed tasks which appeared to be questionable for one of them. I saw one of the clients in obvious distress, saw him say something to the trainer, saw the trainer be demeaning and belittling and the guy said, "yes, sir."

My thought when I watched the tyrannical personal trainer was that, at least in BDSM, there is a safe word. With personal trainers there is only, "yes, sir."

I've listened to snippets of self-help gurus who use prejudicial language, who put themselves above others as the experts and who challenge and bully their followers into submission. Or so it seems.

Recently I started reading a book which seemed to have a different approach. At first. But then she started in with the same language. Discriminatory. Belittling. Blame the follower, the victim, the oppressed.

I understand that there are difficult decisions to make in life sometimes. More times than we'd like. That sometimes we have to sacrifice. That life isn't always easy. That we do have to look at ourselves with honesty and admit what we can do and what we can't do.

But I wonder: do people have to do it through shame and guilt and being bullied? I do believe it is possible to make these same changes in more positive, supportive, healthful ways. Then my thoughts go to the opposite end (sort of), the you-can-manifest-anything-if-you-think-hard-enough end of the Change Your Life industry. And I think that, my desires and needs interact with others' desires and needs and sometimes we don't always get what we want no matter how hard we close our eyes and center our hearts and wish because sometimes needs conflict or sometimes what we think we need isn't the thing we really need or our need will unknowingly make another person's more necessary need impossible and so it goes 'round and 'round.

Where is the in between of trainer-without-a-safe-word and lala-manifesting-life-vending-machine?

I do know there is not one answer for all people and all situations. Each person has unique needs and resources. Each person has approaches which work or don't work. I know there are some more "middle ground" trainers/teachers/speakers/authors. And it seems that the middle ground people tend towards one side or the other.

My incomplete thought has not been clarified as I write this. I am no closer to an answer than when I began - I am actually farther away. I see more questions with each thing I write and I see where there is some truth in most of the approaches -- although I still don't care for either of the far ends of the spectrum : too whip-carrying tyrant or too blink-and-it's-yours hopeful.

Maybe we need to stop looking outside of ourselves for the answer.

And maybe we need to stop thinking it is going to be quick and easy.

And I do acknowledge that even being able to contemplate these questions is significant. I know there are people for whom survival is their daily reality and making change means getting themselves, family, friends, to safety.

Which brings me back to my original thought: why would a person willingly let themselves be bullied into making change?

No answer. More questions.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Falling behind on posting - but not on writing

It has been almost two weeks since I've posted here. I didn't realize it had been that long.

The excuse? I've been busy. Really busy. Work and theater and preparation for my upcoming workshops (which includes a new one added for this season).

And I have been writing. I am doing well with my daily journal writing. Yes, I have missed a day here and there. But when I went back and checked, between my writing by hand journal and my in-phone app journal (a little program called Dayly, and no, I did not mistype its name), and editing the novel - I have been writing every day.

One project which has been keeping me busy is preparing to interpret Twelfth Night at Shakespeare in the Park in Bend, and the lush green park along the river, Drake Park. The event sponsors are great to work with and the theater company, Northwest Classical Theatre Company - is wonderful. They put on a great show, they are amazing to work with, they are kind and nice and welcoming. It is a joy to be able to interpret their performances. And the interpreted performance was tonight. It went well, we had a good audience, and I look forward to being able to do this again next year. We have been preparing this play for over 4 weeks. It will be good to get that time back - and I will miss this production and these people.

And it is on to the next theatrical adventure - which is that I will be part of a five member team interpreting the Series A Fall Festival of One Acts by Sam Shepard at Profile Theatre on Sunday, September 7th. This is a special interpreted performance on several levels. That there are five interpreters is one level. This is the newest addition to my performance interpreting training workshops: it is a professional study group, and we will be working with feedback about our interpretations to improve our work over the next several months. Another level is that this is the first time Profile has done a festival of one acts - and they are amazing. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the read through earlier in the week and I am excited to see these plays as they develop. I like the plays and the actors. It is great to be able to have this to use as our source material for professional development. And I love the format - six one acts, a strong company of actors, and several directors.

I will also be offering my Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series workshops this season. Both TIPS I (the introduction and overview) and TIPS II (the more intensive mentored, hands-up workshop).

On the writing front - I am continuing to revise the novel. I have revision on three of the six chapters (up to 25 pages) mostly done for the writing retreat I will be attending in October. I will do revision on the other three, then go back in for more tweaking as needed if I have time.

With this space here, I am searching for a direction, I think. I had the plan of posting revision as I went along on the memoir, which I have put on hold. For a couple of years I had a weekly prompt series I did. Now, I would like to return to more regular posting - but I'm not sure what I want to write about here.

It will come.

In the meantime, I am writing - just not much here. And I am doing theater - which also feeds my creative soul and inspiration. I will return to more scheduled writing here - and other things.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Thoughts from the Heart


I know many people are stunned by Robin Williams' death. His suicide.

I have no new words to add.

Only a deep feeling. Many deep feelings.

I know he talked about depression and his struggles. I didn't realize his struggles were - this. I didn't realize this was a possibility.

He had it made! Right? He was loved by many - not just the public, but family and friends. He had money. He had talent, oh so much talent. He could make us laugh. I know, sometimes made us laugh at times with pain behind the laughter. He was at the top of everything. It seemed.

I was wrong.

But isn't fame and money and adoration of fans and a following and so much talent enough to keep us safe?


I want to write something profound but I have nothing profound to say. Stunned. Sad. Feeling that my anxiety episodes and complaints and periods of mild or situational depression are nothing. I know they're not, but this. Today. Losing Robin Williams to depression. I'm talking about the collective loss - I know his family's loss is even greater and. And. I have experienced two losses due to suicide - but neither of them were that close. It is always a loss.

But somehow I wouldn't think that we would lose Robin Williams this way.

I want to write a poem for him. But it didn't come, yet, so I'm writing this to add to the thoughts of others.

Here is one piece I've read which I really relate to and like. It's worth the click. Depression is a Duplicitous Asshole by Angela Giles Patel.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Re-establishing a Practice

Photo: Underground Tour begins.
Beginning the Underground Tour in Seattle
This week we took an overnight trip to Seattle. We packed in several activities and even got a good night's sleep. And we had a great time. A couple of days away, no work, just fun and exploration, and silliness.

I also took the opportunity to re-establish my daily writing practice. I've been thinking about it. In the not too distant past I've written here about different sides of the writing every day issue and I still stand by my earlier thoughts: not every writer must write every day. But I also know that writing every day can be a benefit for some of us.

I needed a break from writing every day. I needed a break from the expectation that I had to write every day. I needed a break from the pressure of performing and "doing it right' or "doing it wrong." And I freely admit that the expectation and the pressure was internal. I could point to external experts and successful authors and say, see, they said so - or they do it so it must be right. I also know that I was the only one who could make it happen. Or not.

So I took a break.

Good idea. Really. Take one thing off the "must do" list and keep it enjoyable.

I also noticed that my writing production, when I'm not in an ongoing workshop or class slows. I can point to work - and it's true. I can point to theater - which is one aspect of my work - and it is also very true.

And I can point to times when I have written every day and I've been working my normal amount of hours and I've been doing a play. It worked.

There is also something to writing begetting writing. I was just having this conversation with another interpreter. Yes, we were talking about theater, interpreting theater - and about writing. We are both authors and we are both interpreters.

Writing every day can be like the joint fluid which keeps your knees and shoulders and hips and all of that in your body more mobile and moving easier. Writing every day can be the grease on the wheel which, when mobile, keeps it lubricated and the mechanisms working.

Or writing every day can be a signal to the Muse - or whatever you call your inspiration - that you are willing to show up. Then you have to listen, as the other interpreter-author pointed out. And she's right.

So I decided a couple or so weeks ago that I wanted to try writing every day. Not like the Morning Pages, though that was a very useful project many years ago. But something where I set a realistic goal to write every day. I didn't act on that decision. Until this week. Until we were in Seattle and we went to Elliott Bay Books and I found myself again standing in front of some blank journals. Knowing that I had several at home - but not like this one - and I bought the one that stood out to me.

Then I wrote. The next morning after my shower and while one of the other of the three of us was in the shower, I wrote. I decided on three pages a day, not because of Morning Pages though that is her magic number. But I decided on three pages because I know it is a little past my "done!" point and it will push me just a little.

I also decided - obviously since I purchased a notebook to write in - to do this writing by hand. This writing is the grease and the movement. I write well on the computer, efficient, fast, things work. But this writing is more from the body and that is what I need to communicate with and from more. Also so I don't feel the same pressure to produce that I sometimes do when I'm on the computer. Or feel like I should be editing the novel in progress.

This is writing from the gut.

And I am.

Trying to re-establish a daily writing practice. And to be gentle with myself and have self-compassion on the days when it may not happen; which I hope are few.