Feeling Happy…

Life these days has been hectic. All good types of hectic. Working full-time again is a great. Theater activity is high, which is wonderful for my creative side. Activism has been put on the back burner a bit – well maybe more of a side burner. Blogging about life and such has been going swimmingly. We have a grandchild on the way, which is the best blessing of all. I can honestly say that I am feeling happy lately.

Feeling happy…not something I have felt much over the past year or so. Sure, I’ve had moments of happiness. But to feel happy more often than not is somewhat foreign to me. I have been diagnosed with depression in the not so distant past, along with anxiety. Both are still lurking, but happiness is what I am focusing on.

Happiness is a choice. People will argue that point, but from what I have seen and experienced in life, my statement is true. When we wake up in the morning we have a choice – we can look forward to the day ahead or be miserable that it exists.

During our bout of homelessness, it was certainly a challenge to feel happy about much of anything. Certainly I smiled and laughed a number of times during that period, but I didn’t feel it. I lived the old adage of fake it until you make it.

Putting on a facade of happiness when you feel anything but is draining physically and emotionally. I would be exhausted after putting on the mask of happiness for any extended length of time. I would bet that a lot of people would say the same.

People find it interesting to hear me say that I am an introvert. Introverts can be social, we just have to ensure we have time where we aren’t interacting with anyone too. So how can I say having a hectic life is good? Because I have my down time also.

Like tonight, I have things to work do for the theater, but it’s on my computer in my home. Finalizing a show’s program, preparing an agenda and other items for tomorrow night’s board/member meeting all can be done by myself at my computer. My alone time.

I have always enjoyed my own company. Give me a night or weekend by myself and I am a happy woman. I will read, write, play games on my computer, watch a little TV and probably bake something.I may not talk to another person the entire time and I am perfectly okay with that.

The only time that can be an issue is when my depression is in full swing. Then I overthink everything. It can also set off an anxiety attack. So I have to use my coping skills, and sometimes medication, to keep me from getting derailed.

Yet even when my depression is trying to take over, I try to find some bits of happiness. I will appreciate the weather, interacting with my dogs, reading a good book, enjoying a nice meal – well you get the idea. It’s the little things in life, as much if not more than the bigger things that can keep happiness your focus.

 

Oh My! I’m going to be a Grandmother!

Today my stepson’s fiance publicly announced that they’re expecting a bundle of joy in August. I’m going to be a grandmother at the age of 48. Holy cow!

Needless to say the first thing one does when we get this news is start looking at baby items online to buy. The other thing we do is figure out what we want the little one to call us. Grandma, Grandpa, MomMom, PopPop, Grammy, Grampy, etc. Then you have the more interesting names such as Glamma (popular with the reality TV set) and Goddess (one that is used by some celebrities).

I knew I didn’t want to be called MomMom or Grandma or Grammy. My husband knew right away he wanted to be called Pop. Not PopPop, just Pop. Okay, but what do I want to be called by my grandchildren? Enter Google search for grandparent names.

I checked out the traditional, the hipster (shudder), the non-traditional grandparent names. One name that stood out to me was under “traditional” for grandmothers – Nini. Interestingly, this is what I was called as a young child by family. How perfect is that?

So, Nini it will be. I can relate to it. I am comfortable with it. And I won’t sound old being called it. Also, it will be easy for the baby to say as he/she learns to talk.

Nini and Pop. I like it.Now the baby just has to arrive!

Becoming Molly & Emily

In community theater, we don many hats – actor, director, tech, stage manager, costumer, set builder – you get the point. You are a Jack/Jane of all trades and you like it. One of the most common issues when putting on a larger show in community theater is the need to double cast your actors to cover all of the roles. Needless to say, this can be tricky at times to ensure you haven’t double cast an actor for 2 roles that are on stage simultaneously at any point.

I am in the upcoming Reedy Point Players production of Pat Cook’s play Titanic: Tragedy & Trial. The director of the show is a veteran actress/director and has directed the first act of this show as a one-act play previously. So, she knows what she’s doing. This is helpful when you have approximately 30 actors and a potential for 60+ roles in a show.

Our director asked at the time of auditions if we, as actors, would be willing to take on more than one role, should the need arise. I, of course, said certainly, as did most others. The role I really wanted was that of Maggie “Molly” Brown, though I knew in this production it was a smaller role. I really admired this person and wanted the chance to portray her, no matter the size of the role. Our director had the foresight to offer me said role and I accepted – doing a happy dance.

A little later on I was also offered the role of Emily Ryerson. Again, I was happy to take on another role. It seemed I had a little research to do now so I could portray both women accurately, even if their time on stage was brief.

This is the first show in which I will be portraying “real” people – those who lived and breathed, not ones created from a playwright’s imagination. I want to be certain that I know the women I will become for a brief moment in time. So, I headed to Google.

the-unsinkable-molly-brown-biography-picture

First up, Mrs. Margaret “Maggie” Brown was put into the Google search engine. This charismatic trail blazer of women’s rights and philanthropy has quite a bit about her on the web. There were a number of factoids I never knew. She ran for the Colorado state senate around the turn of the 20th century – something unheard of – especially since women didn’t have the right to vote yet. Maggie Brown was not referred to as Molly until after the Titanic sinking when a reporter gave her the moniker “the unsinkable Molly Brown” in a story highlighting her heroism during the Titanic tragedy. She was an avid activist, philanthropist, suffragette and in her later life an actress. Pretty amazing woman.

emily-ryerson

Next, I searched for information on Mrs. Emily Ryerson. Nowhere near as much information on this dear lady. She was my age at the time of that fateful voyage, from Haverford, Pennsylvania. Emily Ryerson, her husband, their three children and two servants were first-class passengers on the Titanic. Mr. Ryerson helped to load lifeboats, but unfortunately he did not survive the sinking. Emily, her children and servants were on lifeboat #4 and all survived. She provided an affidavit regarding the events surrounding the Titanic’s sinking to the senate hearings that took place in May 1912. Mrs. Ryerson eventually remarried another wealthy man and lived a long life. The only other information was some society column mentions.

The easiest way to distinguish the women when portraying them is their accents and their demeanor. Molly Brown was a larger than life character with a southern/midwestern accent. Emily Ryerson was a true society lady with the clipped accent of the upper crust of Philadelphia’s Main Line. Luckily I know both types of women and at times I am both in my own life.

Some would think it’s over the top to research these women when the roles are minor, relatively speaking. My thinking is that old adage – there are no small roles, just small actors. I’m excited for this production and want to give it my best.

When you care about what you do, you do your best, no matter the task.

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/reedypointplayers

http://www.thereedypointplayers.com/

 

Living a Busy Life

Those of us who are busy people don’t realize how busy we are until we think about it – which we don’t very often. Busy people just do. We don’t think about it, we just do what we obligated ourselves to do. Those who are not busy people cannot imagine how we do all that we do. (That’s a lot of do’s!)

I call my activities obligations because I committed to them, not because I don’t thoroughly enjoy doing these things. The word obligation has such a negative connotation, such as I’m obligated to clean my house, instead of the reality that it is something you said you would do and therefore you do it. I digress.

I’ll give you a sample list of my commitments: going to work full-time (yay – love this job!), on the board of directors for our theater (actually the executive committee so more of a time commitment), one of the actors in an upcoming production, helping out with whatever I can on the current production, my activism, taking care of the house, taking care of my husband (he’s disabled so I have a bit more than others to do), and squeezing in time for friends and family. Doesn’t seem like an unmanageable amount and it isn’t.

A snapshot of a regular week:

  • Sunday – housework, theater stuff (rehearsals/meetings/or both), activism meetings
  • Monday – work during day, rehearsals or meetings at night possibly or I may have a night home, run errands, activism work
  • Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday – work during day; rehearsals or meetings or working on theater things from home, run errands, activism work
  • Friday – work during day, possibly go out with friends, run errands
  • Saturday – housework, theater stuff, errands, possible visit with friends/family

You get the picture…

I am not complaining about my life at all. I love what I’m doing and with whom I do these things. I enjoy being busy most of the time. Of course we all need down time to recharge our batteries. When I’m in that mode I either watch TV/movies or read.

Speaking of reading, I actually read almost every night before bed. It relaxes my mind so it’s not racing from the day’s activities. I focus so clearly on what I am reading that everything else falls away.

Reading isn’t the only thing that helps keep my mind at ease. Blogging is a great way for me to get my focus for the day. I tend to write my blogs early in the day when my mind is gearing up for the day’s activities. I love to write and it gives me a pleasant way to start my day.

So, as I gear up for today’s 8 hours of theater obligations, I sit here and write about my busy life. I feel blessed for having the ability to not only write about it, but to live it.

Photo credit: 
Balls in the air 2
Photo by AlamarPhotography on Getty Images

New Chapters

When one reads a book, the beginning of a new chapter is something designating a new scene or viewpoint. In life, when one refers to a new chapter, it’s typically the start of some new thing such as a job, living situation, relationship, etc.

For me, I have had a few life changes that would be a reason to refer to this time in my life as a new chapter. In November we found a new home. This month, I have started a new job. Two major life changes that signify a new beginning.

A new chapter in life is like having a clean slate. This concept has been sitting on my mind a lot lately. What does the idea of a “clean slate” mean? Does it mean everything else that was going on in your life and around you suddenly change too? No, of course not. Aspects – most of them in reality – of our lives don’t change when a new chapter in our life begins. Just like in a novel, the story lines are continuing, there’s simply a new twist/turn/aspect thrown into the mix.

For me, this new chapter of my life is a positive one. But last year, when we became homeless, that chapter was not so great. At times it downright sucked. There were positive parts – amazing support from friends and family, strangers being kind and helpful, a weeding out of those who weren’t so supportive and caring.

The hope that comes when a new chapter in our lives occurs is what keeps us going, no matter the tone of that chapter. Hope is what gives us all a coping mechanism when life takes a hard turn. Hope is what keeps us up when life is on the upswing. Hope is likely what helped turn your life to the positive.

There are a number of people who are scared to have hope. But somehow, we all seek hope out. We look for something to hold onto that will propel us forward. To keep some light peeking through the dark times. Hope provides the handle and the flashlight.

Hope is the constant in the book of life. It is the catalyst of many new chapters within that book. It is what keeps us writing our book of life when the chapters are bleak. Hope is our savior.

Find the hope in each new chapter of your life.

Hello, I’m Your Director…

I had the privilege of having my directorial debut at Reedy Point Players in December 2015 with the play Little Women. I had always wanted to direct, but the opportunity didn’t arise until 2015. I had submitted the play with me as director to Reedy Point early in 2015 for the 2015-2016 season. I was thrilled when I was told it was approved.

In September of 2015 I held auditions in a room at the Delaware City  Library. I had a decent turnout – including a few new faces. The three young women who were new to Reedy Point auditioned for roles as the March sisters. One had never performed, ever. One had primarily done school productions (given the school district they were top of the line productions). And the third had a full acting resume. They didn’t know each other prior to the auditions. Yet when the three of them read for me, the chemistry was perfect. Their audition gave me that special feeling of wow this is going to be amazing!

The cast came together nicely, with only one casting change a couple of weeks into rehearsals. One of my cast members, though she definitely had experience, struggled to capture what I asked of her for the character. This young woman was challenging at times, but I enjoyed the challenge. Her considerable talent was still raw and just needed guidance. I knew I could get it out of her if I was persistent yet patient. Demanding, sure, but understanding on how to demand the performance I wanted. I believe I became a better director because of her.

The young woman who had no experience had such natural talent and easy way about her, directing her was a cake walk. As was directing the young woman with the school performance background. My fourth March sister was a veteran of this theatre and was so determined to give me her best and it showed. When it came to show time, my cast did me proud. They gave outstanding performances each show. When Beth March died, I did cry a bit. (It was the mission of that actor to ensure I cried each time she died on stage.) The audience laughed, cried and felt every emotion the actors portrayed. It was the optimal debut for a director.

LitSo, why am I sharing this now? Well tonight I had the pleasure of seeing one of my March sisters perform at Chapel Street Playhouse in The Diary of Anne Frank. Oh she has grown as an actress! I received the best compliment a director could receive from a very seasoned actor – I am one of her favorite directors.

I am hoping to direct again next season at Reedy Point Players. This time a show a little different from Little Women, to push me as a director. I look forward to that next time when I can say “Hello, I’m your director…”

Healing Old Emotional Wounds

Yesterday, I posted a difficult story about myself. Yesterday is when I finally started to allow myself to heal from that emotional wound. It took almost 20 years before I allowed myself to start healing.

How many of us hold onto old emotional wounds like a tattered blanket around us? We beat ourselves up for choices we made, choices other people have made that affect us, and other outside forces that wound us emotionally.

When do we know that it’s time to throw that worn out, self-loathing blanket of emotional wounds? For me it was yesterday – 19 years, 8 months later. For you it could take a lot less time or perhaps never. It’s up to us to decide for ourselves.

Most people will say, and I did too – don’t judge me on my past mistakes. This is very true, but do we practice it for ourselves? How many times do we continue to replay events or conversations in our heads with judgement a key factor? How often do we berate ourselves for not doing something or doing something differently to change an outcome?

We are human, therefore we are fallible. We make mistakes, we make hard decisions, we choose to do or not do things that we regret later. As a human, we hopefully learn from these things and grow into a better version of ourselves.

How do we grow and better our lives? Sometimes it is as “simple” as speaking about something we did or had done to us to someone. Though, to be honest it’s never simple. I chose to finally share my story publicly. This decision was simple yet difficult for me, but I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. And yes, I shed tears when I shared at the rally and when writing my blog. I cried a bit then and will most likely shed more as the healing process continues.

Others, it may be talking about it to a therapist or counselor. This is a great way to handle old emotional wounds as you have someone who can guide you through acceptance of what was and moving forward toward a more whole version of yourself. It’s a safe environment where you can feel comfortable sharing your innermost thoughts. I highly encourage and recommend therapy as needed.

Another way is to join a support group. For those who are the children, adult children, significant others, family members, etc. of addicts, Al-Anon is a fantastic organization to help them. There are so many support groups out there, just do a Google search and you’ll find plenty in your area. Support groups can also be found on Facebook, which can be helpful.

Emotional wounds are the hardest to heal. They affect us on every level, a lot of times without us realizing it. They hamper our emotional and spiritual growth. They eat away at self-esteem, self-worth and self-love. Emotional wounds can sometimes never be healed because they are too painful. These wounds become part of our every day existence and it can seem you will unravel if you strip them away.

The benefit for attacking the issues at the core of the emotional wounds is a sense of freedom. Emotional wounds can feel like a prison, but when you address these wounds and begin confronting them it feels like a key unlocked that prison. It takes time to walk through that door and put it behind you, so realize healing is a process and takes time.

The healing from an emotional wound or from several can take a very long time. Perhaps we never stop healing from it. Like grief, it can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Some random thing will trigger the tears, the emotions. That’s okay. It’s part of the process.

We’re allowed to cry. We’re allowed to be angry. We’re allowed to feel sad. We’re also allowed to smile, to laugh and to feel joy. Most importantly we are allowed to love and be loved.

Standing Up for Planned Parenthood – My Story

Today, my husband and I went to a Planned Parenthood support rally (called PINK OUT!) in Wilmington, Delaware. It was one of those things that you think, okay I support them so I’ll show up – not thinking I would have the courage to share my story but I did.

This is my story. I’m sharing it here because I think it’s important to have people know the stories of those who support Planned Parenthood.

I was born in the late 1960’s to a woman who was not married, was in her early 40’s and was not interested in becoming a mother – again. She had been married 3 times and divorced 3 times. She had 4 children from two of the marriages, but was not their custodial parent. I have never met her. In 1960’s America abortion was illegal. My biological mother still had a choice, though 1 choice could be life threatening. Needless to say, she chose to give me up for adoption. I was lucky enough to be adopted by a loving family and will forever be grateful for that fact.

Fast forward 21 years… As a student at West Chester University, I became a patient at the local Planned Parenthood. They were informative, caring and kind. I had my gynecological exams done there, purchased birth control there, obtained free condoms from them and had STD testing at Planned Parenthood. At 23 years old I went to this same Planned Parenthood to get a pregnancy test. Lo and behold I was indeed about 8 weeks pregnant! The woman who counseled me at Planned Parenthood was so wonderful. I don’t remember her name, but her words of understanding and encouragement allowed me to decide to keep my baby.

This isn’t the end of my story…moving ahead about 6 years to when I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. Yet again I became pregnant. This time was different for me. I knew the relationship I was in must end, not just for me but for my 5 year old daughter. We deserved better than being treated poorly by a “dry drunk” who cared more about himself than anyone else. But I was carrying his child. We would be tied to each other for life.

Again, I went to Planned Parenthood. They again discussed my options – keep the baby, give the baby up for adoption or, as a last resort, have an abortion. NEVER did they encourage me to make any choice other than one that I felt was right for me at that time. I chose to terminate the pregnancy. I was almost 9 weeks pregnant at the time. The clinic I went to in Delaware no longer exists. But it was there when I needed it. There were pro-life protesters outside the building with disturbing images of fetuses on their posters, screaming that I was a baby killer and I was going to hell.

My mother was with me as I walked to the door of the clinic. No purses or bags were allowed, as the Police Officer stationed outside the door checked us in and apologized for the protesters. It was a small building, with a small waiting room and reception desk when we walked in. My memory has it as dimly lit, but I think that’s just my vision of it. They called my name to go have blood work and an ultrasound done. The nurse was quietly supportive. Then they wheeled me into the procedure room. As I lay there, I started to hyperventilate, tears running down my cheeks. The doctor spoke softly and kindly to calm me. The nurse held my hand throughout. I wept. It took only minutes. I wept. They brought me to the recovery room where I sat in a recliner and stared out the window while I wept. I wept for 3 days straight.

I tell this story because I do not take my choices lightly. I did not terminate a pregnancy on a whim. It’s taken me many years to begin to accept the choice I made. I am so incredibly thankful that thanks to millions of women who fought for a woman’s right to choose, I was able to make that choice legally. I had it done safely without worry of mutilation, infection or death. I was treated with kindness, respect and compassion by the people at Planned Parenthood.

I share this very private story of mine with the world so you all can see that we need the caring, compassionate and professional services of Planned Parenthood. I understand that by sharing my story there will be some that choose to blast me for my choices. That’s your right, but know it won’t change my mind. I am Pro-Choice because no one should ever feel they have the right to choose what I do with my body and my life but me.

Life Lessons in One Sentence

Life lessons in one sentence are a common thing in social media. Some are good, some are great and some…well not all are winners. Below are the briefly stated life lessons I like the most. (These are in no particular order, just randomly typed as I thought of them. No hidden meaning.)

One of the most beautiful things we can do is help another.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.

Never let a bad day make you think you have a bad life.

It’s not about the cards you’ve been dealt, but how you play the hand.

Winners are not people who never fail, but people who never quit.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

True love means whatever happens you figure it out…Together.

I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I’m thinking of making a few more.

Books are uniquely portable magic.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

If it doesn’t feel right, doesn’t seem right, trust your gut.

Helping someone else is the first step in helping yourself.

Love is an equal opportunity emotion.

If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

Be careful what you say as words cannot be taken back once said.

There are so many more I could share with you all. What I find interesting is any one of these simple sentences is really quite complex in thought. I could write tons on each and every one of these statements. Yes, some are similar in meaning and thought, yet just a slightly different turn of phrase that expands the thought in a new direction.

I will leave you with this…find a simple life lesson and make it your own. Live it, breathe it and abide by it. You may find a new take on life by doing so.

My Favorite Authors

I have a few favorite authors, and a number I like and will read regularly. I designate one as a favorite if I tend to enjoy their books over and over, I look forward to each new publication, and I own a number of their books.

One of my all time favorite authors is Nora Roberts. I in particular enjoy her series – trilogies, quartets, etc. I like her development of each character – showing different facets of them to a reader. I enjoy the paranormal aspects she brings to a number of her books – making them part fantasy to encourage a fun journey in my mind.

BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER – POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

Nora Roberts recently completed a trilogy called The Guardians Trilogy. The first book, Stars of Fortune introduces the legend/quest, the cast of characters – including a mermaid, an immortal, a time traveler, a wizard, a lycan and a seer, and the romantic pairing for this one. The second book, Bay of Sighs, continues the quest and the development of the unusual characters and offers up the next romantic pairing. The third book, Island of Glass, concludes the quest, has the third couple find love together and we find out how things wrap up for the other characters.

This formula is one that Ms. Roberts uses in most of her series, with different characters, quests or objectives, and pairings. It’s a successful formula and one I enjoy reading. Some may critique that it is a re-used formula, but given that she intersperses other novels into her repertoire that do not fit a definitive formula, I don’t see an issue with it.

Another favorite author is Heather Graham. She does primarily paranormal mysteries with a romance aspect to them. She has a series called Krewe of Hunters that will incorporate some of the same characters but mostly it is the name of the special FBI group – Krewe of Hunters – that is the tie between the books. Ms. Graham’s books tend to show a grittier side of life at times which keeps the books interesting and compelling. I also happen to like the way the romance aspect gets mixed in, but I’m a romantic.

Another favorite is Sherryl Woods. Her books are simply a joy to read. Contemporary romances that are sweet, non abrasive, with a hint of Mayberry and old fashioned/traditional values. The women portrayed are not some throwback to the 1950’s. They are strong, independent women. The type of women you want to be friends with and have in your life. The men are good guys (in general) but are not the focus. Relationships and family are the focus. Ms. Woods books can make a bleak world sunny.

I enjoy any number of other authors – male ones too – but these 3 authors are my “go-to” ones.

Who are your favorites? What genre do you prefer?