Filtering by Category: Art Life

I'm a Storyteller

I know you all know that already.

Anyone who has known me longer than about 5 minutes can ascertain that pretty quickly. But I have only recently claimed that title and begun to own it. I haven’t always borne the title of ‘storyteller’ with the confidence that you read in my words online, and see live in action if you see me on the daily. There are a few factors that led to my confidence in this life that I lead (I’m looking at you, Roblyer), but I’m going to focus on 1 in particular.

If you too are a storyteller (or even someone who just loves stories!), and haven’t discovered the 88 Cups of Tea podcast… run, don’t walk, and subscribe. Yin Chang started this podcast 4 years ago, and it has become so much more than just something to listen to every other Thursday.

If you tuned in to the 100th episode 2 years ago, you’ve already heard this story, but I’m going to tell it again anyway.

2 years and 4ish months ago, I walked out of a ballet rehearsal, got into my little yellow car, and promptly began bawling.

My artistic life felt like a mess, and I was so.tired. of grinding for everyone around me. My students loved me (and I adore each of them to this day and I always will!), but I didn’t have enough of me to give to them due to just how much I was teaching to make ends meet at home. I had a place in a professional theatre company, but I was so worn out from teaching and being a mom that I couldn’t give my roles the devotion they deserved. I wanted SO BADLY to write a novel and be just like my dad (cause duh, he’s the best!), but between dance recitals and preparing for summer camp season, I had nothing left. There was no creative juice for ME; I just kept pouring and pouring, making the dreams of everyone around me a reality while (mostly) setting aside my own aspirations.

My mother-in-law was in town that day, watching Eli so that I could go watch the ballet dancers work through ‘Don Quixote’. She’s a gracious woman, but arriving home in the state that I was in wasn’t a good idea for anyone, so I decided to head to the gym and hop on an elliptical until I was too tired to cry anymore. I knew that if I was going to shake it off, I needed to listen to something other than my angsty work out music, so I decided to search for my favorite author in the podcast section of Spotify (Sarah J Maas). 88 Cups of Tea popped up first. I hit ‘play’ and hopped onto the exercise machine.

I stayed on that elliptical for the entire hour and 23 minutes of Sarah’s episode. I was hooked! Yin was so warm, and my favorite author? She… was… NORMAL! Being an author someday started seeming like less and less of a pipe dream, and started shaping into a hope that could fit into my reality. By the time I left the gym, I felt like my own cup of creativity was less empty.

That was the night that things started to change. I began to shift my focus from teaching and performing (although I still do both of those things, and love them!). I didn’t dive headlong into writing a novel, although I do have one started that I will finish. No, my path has led me somewhere that surprised me.

Remember how I’ve been making noises about my copywriting business? That wouldn’t exist without 88 Cups of Tea. Between listening to Yin’s interviews with authors, agents, and a whole host of storytellers in the industry, somehow I stumbled upon copywriting. Here it was; my niche. The thing I excelled at. I did not see that coming at all, but here I am! Telling stories on the daily, and loving every minute of it.

I owe so much to this amazing community of storytellers, and Yin; our loving “camp counselor” of a sort. 88 Cups of Tea has become a part of my life in ways I don’t fully know how to describe. The podcast itself is precious to me, yes. But the community it has birthed is a gem that I never want to be without ever again. We are friends, confidants, cheerleaders, counselors, and a whole host of other roles for one another. I made it through the early days of Zelda’s life by communicating with my fellow storytellers while trapped under a sleeping infant. They kept me sane, and helped me stay connected to the outside world while still bonding with the littlest Curly.

Anyhow, happy birthday 88 Cups of Tea! I love you (Yin <3), and I hope you continue to thrive for many more birthdays to come!

And still, we hope.

Dear Reader,

This post is a little ramble-y. You've been warned. 

I've been searching for words since just before midnight on Tuesday, and I'm still struggling. But what I do know is... this isn't what I wanted. This isn't what I hoped for. This is, very possibly, my nightmare. 

Don't get me wrong, dear reader, I fully recognize the privilege I wear. I am white. I come from an upper middle class family that takes care of my curly headed crew when we need help getting our act together. True, I am a woman, but I'm lucky. I'm physically beautiful (which shouldn't matter, but seems to). I'm well educated. I have a husband who adores and believes in me, and I will never have to worry about my son not coming home at night because of the color of his skin. I definitely speak from a place of privilege, but I have fears too. Fear of living under a constant trigger warning for the next 4 years. Fear that I will be sexually assaulted again because the new president openly treats women like toys for his own amusement, and that opens the door for others to follow. Fear that my friends of color will never know what it is to feel safe in their own homes. Fear that my LGBTQ friends will lose the rights that they have only been able to enjoy for such a small window as it is. Fear that the entire human race is doomed, due to an impending environmental fallout. 

There are so many things to be afraid of now, and yet I have hope that all is not lost. Why? Well, it may not seem big to you, but it meant the world to me. 

So, I teach dance. Most of you know this by now. One of my passions in life is training the next generation of musical theatre performers to be able to at least make it through a dance audition without having a panic induced meltdown. Anyhow, at the beginning of class every week, we have a huddle where we check in with one another. We say how we're feeling on the inside and out, and get ready to dance together. We all went around the circle, and few kiddos expressed some sadness at the outcome of the presidential race, and some expressed confusion at the sadness, but all expressed their happiness that this was they day they got to come and dance with me. Anyhow, during our huddle, I reminded them that we were getting close to the time of year where I will be gone for a few weeks while I'm in a show (babies, if you're reading this PLEASE be nice to your sub!), and they wanted to hear (again) about the theatre company that I work for. "You mean, it's like a job?" "Can we all go to your show?" "That exists here in BCS?" "It's so cool that we have a professional theatre in this town!", you know. The usual comments from my crew of 10-14 year olds who show up every week. I forget sometimes that what I do for a living is actually pretty cool, and that they are watching my every move. Anyhow, amongst the usual commentary, one of my kiddos (the one who is so stoked that there is a professional theatre in her hometown) informs me that she has decided that as soon as she "is old enough and has enough money", she is going to open a theatre for people with disabilities. 

That may seem like a random thing to have latched onto, but think about it. A 14 year old girl, who is a budding performer and director, has more talent in her little finger than many people even SEE in their lifetime, and she has decided that the goal she is going to work towards, is opening a theatre especially for disabled actors so that they have a voice too. Y'all. This is our future. These are the kids we are raising to take our place. And guess what? THEY. ROCK. They understand what is important. They care about things and people other than themselves, and they work HARD. 

And so that is where I am right now, folks. I'm not happy. Devastated is a much more appropriate word. And I may not be looking forward to the next 4 years. But I am hopeful, because I see our future every day. And y'all? It's not too shabby. 

Still here. Promise.

Posted on October 17, 2016

Dear Reader,

Hi there. How’re you doing? Sorry that I abandoned you all for so long. I’d say that it won’t happen again, but we all know that’s a dirty rotten lie.

So… where have I been? Well, at last post I had just started teaching 2 dance classes a week  at Pure Energy Dance Productions in Bryan. Hippie and I were just beginning to plan our wedding, and were coming to grips with the fact that Hippie Jr was walking, which meant that once again, life would never be the same. Now I don’t just teach more, I somehow became the Assistant Artistic Director for the studio. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’m legally Mrs. Hippie, and Hippie Jr is not only walking, but running, jumping, identifying colors/letters/numbers, and is in pre-school. So much. So very much.

Every so often you have something happen that makes you realize just how quickly time cruises by while you’re busy trying to make daily life happen. This time for me, it was nothing major, just feeling an irresistible urge to write again. Feeling like something of myself had been missing in the last year and a half since I had written. Feeling so desperate to play with words that I DIDN’T CARE WHAT CAME OUT OF IT, I just had to write SOMETHING. Sitting down to write for the sake of writing doesn’t just happen, as it turns out. Not when there is a Hippie Jr who needs you to come and be the Percy to his Thomas (trains = life in little man’s world right now). Not when there is a full time job and steady acting work that you love, but that requires a lot of prep work and hustle (lesson plans don’t write themselves either, it turns out). Not when there is a Hippie who utterly adores you, who deserves to feel utterly adored too (he is. Don’t you worry, dear Reader).

Like all creative endeavors, writing has to be made a priority. Has to be given a little bit of that most precious commodity that we all like to horde for ourselves, or it won’t happen. Time is a bitch, but I’m going to start making an effort to give my writing a little bit of it once again. Art ain’t easy, and my life is full of so much beautiful artistry that it’s kinda unfair to the rest of the world to NOT share it. No guarantees that I won’t disappear again. But I can guarantee that I will try.

Sincerely,

A “No, but really. A LOT has happened the past year” me