Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Last Time

April 2011, Showing the kids our new house.

So often in life something ends and we stand stupefied and wish we’d have known it was coming to an end. “If only I’d known last time was the last time!” I myself have thought or uttered those words countless times. In that respect, I guess my situation could be worse.

I am walking around my house like a ghost. I am haunting my own house. I was told via a brief typed letter delivered certified mail, that I have to leave my home. I can’t even tell you what the 5.5yrs here have meant to my family and I. I knew several things immediately: that this was irreversible fact and I had to accept it. I also knew that had I not been abruptly put out I would have stayed in this house until my children were adults.

In fact, I’ve seen my kids grown up in this house in my mind many times. I’ve imagined my oldest moving out and turning his room into a craft room while consulting with my youngest on updated room colors. I only imagined my husband and I leaving this house because our children were grown and it was time to travel.

Whatever I wanted or imagined, this is happening. We have to go, because the landlord (who acknowledges what amazing tenants we have always been) wants to give our house to someone else. They have the legal right, but it stills stings. We have to vacate during the holidays in the middle of the school year.

There's a certain oxygen deprivation when you are forced to make a big change especially quickly. There's a separate element to the heartbreak because you have no control. I have never been asked to leave anywhere I've ever lived. It's terrifying that this could happen, is happening. I'm strong and I will heal from this someday, but it makes it hard to trust anyone.

So, I breathe and put one foot in front of the other and try to focus on the task at hand. Maybe this is an opportunity for a grand adventure? A wonderful change? Some future I haven’t imagined a hundred times? We keep swimming. As always, I do what’s best for my kids. I smile and tell them what they need to know. I tell them not to worry. Behind closed doors, I cry. But I seek out the joy in the re-organize and cleanse of the belongings that won’t fit in our next temporary home. I focus on Thanksgiving because this time I know it’s the last time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Other Side of Busy

One of my favorite professors in college taught dramatic literature. He would say "drama is the tension between what a character says and does and what they really feel and want." Which means even the most level-headed of people can't truly be free from drama. That's not to suggest it's been a telenovela around here since last I posted, but there has definitely been some struggle beneath the surface as well as actual dramas..and comedies.

The status quo can be difficult for me to accept because the potential for more is always looming around the blurry edges of any mundane moment. I know, I know says the gimpy stay at home mom. Yes, I spent one glorious community theater season finding the old me. It cost my peace of mind, my blood pressure rose, even my ability to ambulate left me more than once, the peace in my household, hours of sleep, gallons of gas and probably countless other things I've forgotten in hindsight, but I did it. I freaking found her! I found the confident, enthusiastic artist I had been so afraid was lost forever. Also, whatever the cost I loved every minute of it. So, tension yes, regrets no.

I still got "it" ladies and gentlemen. Alfre Woodard, the speaker at my college graduation, said something along the lines of "now you've all got your degree. go ahead and pass that to mom, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend whoever because that paper isn't what matters. Trust your training to be there when you need it." Now, I was certain she was right the moment she said it, but hot damn if it didn't hold true all these years later with a giant break from acting and everything! Smart lady.

A scene from "Crimes of the Heart" Sept 2015

Barnette and Babe

Mobility devices and the stage weren't an issue most of my life. If a director thought my gait or lack of balance was an issue I sat down, No biggie. I only had one director insist I use the chair because it gave him "levels." Between you and me I'm pretty sure it just got me on and off faster. These days I'm Dr. House-ing it, I use one cane which I ditch with some frequency. As, I mentioned in a previous post my return to the stage was set in a kitchen so I spent a lot of time at the dining room table. However, more than one person commented that I "flew around that stage" to a degree that they forgot it was me. A) That's awesome B) Being accused of attempted murder tends to light a fire under a gal.

My second show was a horse of a different color because it was mostly a bare stage with chorus risers for the large cast of kiddos. It was funny and fluffy plot-wise, but a big workout physically. I used my cane the whole show except the opening living room scene. My calves burned and my endurance grew. I came down with a terrible upper repertory infection after that one so the post-show exhaustion was elevated to a whole other level.

A scene from "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" Dec 2015

The Fight
It was during the downtime after the illness finally abated that I was seized with panic that my little glimpse at my old self was over and I'd spend the rest of my life folding laundry and icing my swollen ankles after washing dishes. I started trying to convince myself that I should just see those shows as a reminder that it was still possible and let it rest at that. Um, yeah right!

I reached out to the education department because duh, I have a lot of experience teaching theater to kids. Low and behold, they needed help! Not only did I get to assistant direct the kids for three hours on Saturday mornings, but I was allowed to bring Miss Roo. She's a natural on stage, by the way! It was just amazing. A couple hours of creativity and home for a nap. When did I get so old? I think the kids did it to me.

The show went well and I was invited to direct a summer camp musical. A full musical in two weeks! In the weeks between children's shows, I rested up and auditioned for and was offered the lead in the final show of the season. It was a romantic comedy and I was gung-ho to follow in Meg Ryan's footsteps. This one was more complicated than either of the previous two because the director wanted essentially an empty stage. Without the option to stay put very often on what scant furniture there was I debated heavily on using the cane.

Bottom line, was I just didn't want to for this character if it was avoidable. I wanted both hands free. In the end I literally leaned on my co-star for support.  It was a fun role, but it didn't exactly pack the house. Ironically, I've been stopped in public and complimented more on this role then any other! I even got an award nomination. Adrenaline does a good bit for the struggle to be other than oneself while operating a sub-par mode of transport. I had the funniest picture recently of trying to maneuver a bumper car with the sticky steering wheel down a highway. Then again, there are days when bumper car is the way to go! 

A scene from "Prelude to a Kiss" June 2016

Bar Scene

Friday, July 15, 2016

So, How'd it Go?

Ugh, um...good...er well, I guess.

   I feel wrung out just now. I did get really sick right before my birthday, take some trips out of town, go on some auditions, work on  children's theater production, play the lead in a romantic comedy and directed a children's musical in two weeks. All this on top of the day to day stuff obviously. I tried to make it back for more Jedi training in June, but my schedule got crazy and we had a death in the family (perhaps more on that later).

   So, here I am just past the "thank god, things can get back to normal" phase well into "Oh dear god, is this really it?" phase. I'd been so busy I'd thought about catching up on laundry as some great happy goal. Obviously, it made me happy to get through the back log, but seriously? Sigh....

   Project! Over-doing-it, pain, stress, spending down time resting and recovering, being overwhelmed for a cause. End project RELIEF, rest, chores, time...depression. I hate even writing about my "normal life" just now. Uncertainty, plagues me and I hate that I can't ever grow out of the not knowing. The adults had it all together, before I was one. 

  I don't want to complain, but I do want to say because no one ever does being a parent (disabled or otherwise) and a fulfilled human being is really HARD. 


So, full disclosure this is like draft four or five of this post because it's been a long time coming and I have a lot and nothing to say all at once and I can't let this be a complain post. I will now take a few deep breathes and tell you a lot of things that seemed super significant happened since I posted last, but most were not. 

I continued to try and balance my personal fulfillment with family obligations and physical pain and limitations. Nothing new there, but the battle becomes not letting on how much of an impact things are taking on me physically while being honest with myself. Emotionally, it's been a rewarding theater season/school year. Crap, rewarding? Draft five seems inevitable....


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Letter to My Ex's Mother

Dear His Mom,

             I just want you to know how much our time as "family" meant to me. Although I knew your wisdom was valuable at the time or knew how much I'd reference it in the future. Your voice lives in my mind even now with those of my most respected mentors. In fact, I think of you more often than your son these days.
             That is not to say I don't remember my long relationship with your amazing son with great fondness, it's just that as inconceivable as it would have been to to me then, my life now is so similar to yours then. I hear and follow your advise all the time these days. I would have laughed if you had told me I'd ever become a mother of two whose days revolve around laundry and shopping lists. Here I am though, here I am. It seems more often then not we're not even aware of the gifts we receive in our youth. I reflect on our talks and wish I had been wise enough to remember more of what was said or ask more questions.
             These days I think of you when I plan out a week of dinners, sort laundry or feel my identity apart from the kids slipping away. Your words from all those years ago bubble up and ring true. You gave me practical advice as well as comfort that I only needed and appreciated later. I know you'll never know your impact on me, but I'm grateful beyond words.
            Thank you for being a role model, friend and a whole lot smarter than I was (to be fair the early twenties aren't usually the smartest years).

Me (older and wiser)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finding My Footing

For my latest adventure in neuroplasitcity I went to see Lynn at the beginning of November. It had been a long busy month since my last session so I was feeling...tight and unsure. I am usually enthusiastic, if not genuinely confident. She asked me if I wanted to start with an improv or if I wanted to led through something and I 100% wanted to be led. Just an observation, maybe my body having a better sense of what it was in for was...taking me down a peg so I could be present. Maybe that's nonsense, who knows.

I started sitting in a chair, Lynn asked me to choose one of my favorite characters I've played. I picked Babe from Crimes of the Heart since I'd just wrapped up my stellar performance as the youngest Mcgrath. She told me to curl up until I disappeared. In the past when I've been asked to be smaller I waited anxiously for the stretching out that always came next, but my mood lent itself to invisibility. I stayed in my vanished state a few moments before she asked me to "reappear" as Babe. Maybe to someone who isn't a performer this sounds completely bizarre, but I assure you it changes your physicality and that my friends is the whole point.

Next, I rocked front to back and then side to side in the chair. The side to side rocking was much more challenging. It was during this motion that she encouraged me to think of my ribs as an accordion opening. That was a very pleasing image and like a lot of this work made me think of Alice in Wonderland.

Rocking has always been a soothing motion to me, but this rocking had a goal. I was searching for that elusive feeling of being grounded, the openness my habitual muscle tension robs me of and the gift of feeling something else. Lynn asked me to think of my body as a "team" working toward achieving a goal. That sounds very simple and it was exceptionally difficult. I noticed first with some dubiousness and then delight that when I lifted my rib cage I felt a tug on my troublesome shoulder blades.

When I said as much, Lynn rolled out Mr. Skeleton (just like the one my AP biology teacher had) and showed me how lifting my rib cage does tug on my shoulder blades. Neat stuff, but in all the the physical therapy and the "squeeze your shoulder blades and hold them" no one ever said float up your sternum like there's a balloon attached to it or open your ribs like an accordion! These images were far more effective for me than the "strengthen the part that hurts" method.

Lynn talked about how the fascia gets bunched up and creates the feeling that things are "stuck". Tricky, tricky... I already mentioned making my sternum light and we worked with the image of a string from the crown of my head (Pinocchio, anyone?). That image is certainly not new, but in conjunction with open ribs and a light sternum it makes a big difference. We discussed again how I have to change the dialogue from "fighting" my body to communicating with it. Ugh, me and my body forever in couple's counseling.

Next, we focused on my feet for a bit. It's not my feet's fault really somewhere along the line I just started putting all my weight on the right and hardly any on the left and it messes me up pretty bad, pretty often. So we went through putting weight on the toes, then heals, then arches. I have no idea how long this lasted, but I know I could have done it all day. When we stopped I felt weight evenly in both feet in a really wonderful way. I think I said "Woah!" when asked how it felt. It was really great.
After that we decided to give shaking another go. Last session was my first try and very little happened and I was kind of bummed. The procedure was the same this time: I laid on the floor, moved my legs in and out until they fatigued. This time though I shivered all over like I was cold. It was both trippy and encouraging. I think Lynn was right about the shaking increasing over time.

Lynn wanted to see me walk with my cane. I felt annoyed by this prospect, but I am annoyed by my cane in general so that's not a surprise. After watching me hold and walk with cane we decided to adjust it slightly. No issues there, then she suggested I place it more in front than beside me, that was fine too. When she told me to use the wall for support and try switching sides...issues. For the record I switched to this cane when my shoulder blade pain got bad because it fit me better then the previous crutches and because I was supposed to switch sides. Great plan in theory, but I don't switch sides. I've attempted it here and there, but it's no good. Anyway, she asked me to use the cane and the wall for support so I could switch sides. I put the cane in the other hand and promptly burst into tears. I know we had a conversation about why that was, but I was emotional so vulnerability/balance issues some such things. I know that I stood there with the cane in the "wrong hand" a long time before I was ready to take a few tentative steps. Then Lynn said another brilliant thing "Maybe the first step isn't to do it, but to think about doing it. To just rehearse it in your mind until your ready." All the sudden there was a first step and I wasn't a blubbering failure.

Before we departed she gave me the homework to spend ten minutes everyday rocking, opening my ribs like an accordion, etc like the beginning of the session and then doing a movement improv, I left there having the unique feeling of a sensual experience with every step. Toes, heals, arches...two feet. That evening in the shower I wasn't doing my one legged (flamingo) lean against the wall. I was standing on both feet. I hadn't thought about it at all just found myself that way. The following days it happened quite a bit that I'd discover I was standing on both feet. I loved the feeling! It was at my daughter's bus stop two days later that I thought "I wonder how long this will last."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Clumsy Perspective

I know I promised to update the blog when the show was over, but then it was Christmas and illness, life, etc... Before I post about my last Jedi training session I came across a poem which I think I had intended for the open mic night I just missed (illness and obligations). Enjoy or not...

Clumsy Perspective

I am stunned by how normal everyone else is behaving.
I am raw, damaged in a way I'm not accustomed.
Everything is different, my every cell reminds me.
How? How is everyone else speaking in normal volume with ALL THE SCREAMING?
I may prefer the screaming to the silence which is a barrage or varying sensation.
I am inundated with twinges, tickles, itches, pains and all manner of other uninvited guests.
This is MY tea party, however mad.
Why do they all look at me like I'm the same?
I love and loathe the changing.
I grin at the far off place where this is behind me, but this is the starting line.
Before wasn't working, but it was consistently shit.
This is a mad, spinning, loud, sparkling, warm, full, awful, exhilarating existence.
They don't see me in a different way than before.
They ignore a different part of me now.
How? How when there's so much more of me now?
I don't really understand the how, I try, but it's fucking confusing here.
First it isn't there.
Next it is taffy sticky, stiff, stretching with effort.
Soon it is a rock: solid, heavy, smooth.
Then it is a spotlight glaring up at me until I learn to guide it...
And shine it forth