I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for July, 2012

Does It Matter?

Ever get involved in something and wonder if you made a difference?  The end of my summer youth theater has caused some introspection both years.  And part of the conversation I have with myself goes something like this:  We did two shows with a total of five performances.  Had over three hundred audience members between the five performances.  Everyone had fun.  The dinner theater food was great.  But did it really make a difference?

Such was the conversation I had with myself this morning.  I blame the mopey attitude on the fact that I was still recovering from the all-night cast party we had from Sunday evening till Monday morning.

Then I went looking through some e-mails, cleaned out some text messages, and deleted some old Facebook messages and got my answer.

In each of those places I discovered at least one message from a cast member of the High School/College age show thanking me for allowing them to take part in the performance.  For one young person, it confirmed that they should be pursuing a major in the performing arts.  For a couple of others, it was their first theater experience ever and they discovered that they kind of like it alot.  For three others, life is rough right now for a variety of reasons.  For them, rehearsals and performances became a safe place to be.

That last reality breaks my heart and humbles me all at the same time.  I enjoy working with high school and college age kids and I love musical theater so it makes sense to put the two together.  We have a few laughs, do some good work on stage, and make some memories.  To know that I gave even just one young person a place where they felt safe is more than I could have hoped for and gives me all the motivation I need to do it all again next summer.

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I’m Issuing a Challenge to Myself

Am I the only one who is tired of all the polarizing issues that seem to be consuming every other inch of my Facebook news feed?!  People are digitally screaming at the top of their lungs to defend their political party, attack a particular business that has a stance they don’t agree with, scream against gun ownership of any kind . . . and the list goes on!  This doesn’t include the posts that are personal rants against specific, localized situations, gender bashing from both sides, etc.

My heart hurts.

Polarizing issues and their accompanying opinions have been around forever. Social networking just gives us the chance to throw our opinions in the faces of hundreds of people with just a few keystrokes!  Right now, someone wants to remind me that the right to free speech is guaranteed.  You would be right.  But whatever happened to civility?!  I’m not against a healthy, calm discussion over differing viewpoints and opinions but the ranting and cuss filled raving can stop any time now.

A number of my Facebook friends take the month of November to post one thing each day that they are thankful for but I can’t wait that long to see my Facebook feed looking a little more “positive”.  Especially considering this is an election year so the political posts will continue into the month of November!  I wonder what would happen if everyone I know on the social networks I frequent were to try, starting right now, to keep their status updates positive for just one month?  A week?  Could we even do it for a day?

 It’s so easy to get sucked in to the rhetoric, the bashing, the name-calling . . . so I’m challenging myself to do something different.  

For one week, I am going to focus on the following:

1.   Making sure to post status updates that are positive or that find the good in even a negative situation.

2.   Choose at least five Facebook friends each day that will get an encouraging note from me on their wall just because I can!

3.    Try and find at least three “feel-good” stories to share (as opposed to the “this’ll show ’em” type stories I see with such frequency!) or articles that are educational/informational.

This is my way of trying to keep a positive attitude in an online environment that seems to be so full of anger and venom right now.  Care to join me?

I Can’t MAKE You Understand

For the second summer in a row, I have spent numerous hours working on theater productions with students ranging from 5th grade through college age.  Actually, I have worked four shows – one after the other – from January till now and all of them have been with students in that age range.  And I’ve loved every energy draining, adrenaline-filled, pulling-my-hair-out moment of it.

If you don’t get that, I can’t help you.

Go ahead.  Tell me how much attitude teenagers have.  Tell me that they are self-centered and rude.  Point out that they are lazy and don’t really care about anything.  Emphasize the fact that they think they know everything and are unwilling to listen to adults. Give it your best shot as you try to convince me to hate these kids I’ve come to think of as “mine”.  I’ll smile at you and think, ‘You don’t get it.  And you’re wrong.’

Yes, teenagers can have an attitude that makes them challenging to work with.  So can adults.  Even those old enough to be grandparents.

Yes, they can be both rude and self-centered.  Again, I have met a number of “grown-ups” with the same character defect.  If we’re honest, all of us have our moments!

Yes, they sometimes act like they know it all.  So did the rest of us at that age.  Some of us still do.

In the last two years alone, while working with teenagers/young adults in the theater, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing . . .

. . . a young lady who almost chickened out before auditions who ended up landing the lead and becoming one of the most hard-working performers I’ve ever known.

. . . that same young lady coming in early and staying late or scheduling extra times to meet with the director just because she wants to make sure that she is really ready for performance.

. . . a group of total strangers become so closely-knit that they shed tears when the show is over and they know they won’t see each other as often.

. . . cast members who ask for a chance to “do it again” when I tell them that a particular scene/musical number isn’t up to expectations yet.

. . . performers who come early, stay late, and schedule extra times with the director to go over that tough number “just one more time”.

. . . yet another group of young ladies who almost gave up on auditioning only to land principal roles.

. . . high school students so touched by the performances of their fellow actors and actresses that they shed tears.

. . . students who volunteer to stand in the dark and turn stage lights on and off just because they want to be a part of the experience.

They’ve given me chills, brought tears to my eyes, surprised me by surpassing my expectations, grown as performers, given their fullest effort to an art form they love and when all is said and done, a few of them have wanted nothing more than to know that I was proud of them.

So let’s make a deal, you and I: I’ll go right on working with the college show and the senior high show then spend my summer working with middle school, high school, and college age performers in the summer theater program I direct.  And you are welcome to stand there and shake your head at me, wondering why on earth I do it.  I’ll smile, thank you for coming to the show, and keep an eye on the time so that I don’t miss the coffee get-together I have planned with some of “my” kids.

Daydreaming

If you had a week to yourself, what would you do with the time?

Hmmm . . .

Sleep in until I was darned good and ready to get out of bed.

Revel in the fact that no one would ask me “What’s for dinner?” or “Can you run me to (insert random designation here)”

Read until I cannot see straight!  I have a list of books to read that is far too long!

Learn a new piano piece.  Or maybe even start writing a new song.

Sew.  Or cross-stitch. Or scrapbook.  Something crafty would happen!

Enjoy my favorite movies and popcorn.  Or tea.  Or coffee with flavored creamer.

Indulge in a bubble bath.

But let’s be honest – A whole week to myself?!  I might enjoy the first few hours.  Maybe even the first day.  But at some point, I would start missing my family terribly!  As nice as it is to daydream about a few moments to myself, I enjoy people far too much to spend an entire week alone.

So I promise not to run off and hide.  But that movie and cup of tea idea . . . hmmmm.

I Blinked

When I wake up tomorrow morning, I will be the mother of a 16 year old boy.  This isn’t the first child in my house to turn 16.  It is, instead, my last.  Yes, my baby turns 16 tomorrow.  “Big” birthdays like this tend to make me reflective.  So bear with this sentimental mom as she waxes a bit nostalgic.

Children have made me so much more aware of the fact that life is full of phases. They’ve also made me aware of how quickly time passes.  The first day of school, the first “teen” birthday, first dates, first dances, entering middle school, entering high school . . . these events and so many more give us pause and make us reflect on the rapid passing of time.  With each of my kids, these events have had an impact on me and my awareness of just how quickly the days are running away.  But I am still a little surprised by how intensely I am impacted by the “lasts” – the last 16th birthday, the last “first day of high school”, the last . . . you get the idea.

My baby turns 16 tomorrow and my oldest turns 21 in August.  Talk about two biggies close together!  My oldest has been out of high school 3 years now and my second born starts her sophomore year of college in the fall.  Child number 3 is a High School Senior this year – with all of the “extra” activity such an important year brings – and the youngest will be a Sophomore in High School.

When I read over the previous paragraph, I think to myself ‘How on earth did that happen? Just yesterday, I was bringing my youngest home from the hospital, right?’ I blinked and my four children five and under now range from 16 – 21.  One more blink and my husband and I will be the only two living in our house. So I will cherish every silly moment with my kids, every goofball conversation we have, every random outburst of singing that occurs, every argument over who the best superhero is . . . all of the craziness that is a part of our family.  I will cherish the insanity of graduation festivities this year, knowing I only have to deal with it once more before I’m done with it forever.

And you’ll understand, won’t you, if I try not to blink!

Looking in From the Outside

I have once again come up against the misunderstanding I face at least once every year. It comes from different sources and is worded slightly differently from time to time, but the lack of understanding is the same.

Take 2 Summer Youth Theater is in it’s last week of rehearsals, with performances of Disney’s High School Musical this coming weekend.  Since our church sponsors the theater, our performances and such get announced in church services as a way of encouraging our members to support the teens involved.

After yesterday’s service – where we were promoting the upcoming performances and encouraging people to buy tickets –  I heard a variation of a familiar statement – “It’s nice that your husband lets you play around with all this theater stuff.  After all, it must keep you away from him and the kids quite a bit. He must be a very understanding man.”  *sigh*

First of all, my husband would never dream of seeing this as something he “lets” me do anymore than I would have the attitude that I “let” him play golf.  Yes, we have to discuss our various “extra” activities and make sure that we are not dumping an overwhelming amount of responsibility on one another.  In those discussions, we have both been known to “negotiate” the timeline to make sure that all responsibilities are handled, errands get run, kids get where they need to, and we still get to play.  But neither one of us has the right to give or withhold permission for anything!  To add an extra level of humor to the statement, my husband was the one who had the idea for Take 2 so I’m really helping bring his idea to life!

I don’t “play around” at theater.  Yes, it’s a hobby I indulge in but I also take the work seriously, striving to become a better performer myself and seeking to help young people develop their own skills.  And I will be involved in three shows during this coming school year, all of which come with a paycheck attached so in those cases, it’s a job!

As for the keeping me away from hubby and the kids – for the first half of the summer, hubby was coaching a baseball team and I was supervising two students interns who were directing the middle school show.  Even if I had been home every night, hubby was either at practice or a game nearly every night so we were both busy!

As for the kids, my youngest daughter was one of the students interns so she and I were working on the middle school show together.  The three still living at home are all in the High School/College Age show so we are together at each and every rehearsal.  (Confession – LOVE all the chances I have had to share theatrical experiences with my kids!)

Side note:  my four kids were born in just under five years and hubby spent many years working for UPS and his shift had him in bed by 7 or so every night.  Add that to four little ones and I stepped away from community theater involvement for MANY years.

I’m really not angry.  I’ve heard this statement – or variations of it – for years.  The truth is, theater is something I participated in long before I was known as “Jim’s wife” or “Esther/Margaret/Janessa/Jay’s mom” (pick any child because they’ve all been used numerous times!) and it’s a hobby I am thrilled to have a chance to share with my kiddos.  I have never forced any child of mine to be involved in a theater show but they know that once they commit, they are seeing it through to performance.  (Believe me, there has been at least one time I can remember when a couple of my kids regretted being involved in a particular show and wanted out – mom said no!)

I do appreciate the concern for my family conveyed by statements like the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  There are even times when I have to look at what is going on in the life of my family and NOT take advantage of a particular theater opportunity because it would cause an unmanageable level of stress.

I will continue to enjoy theater and share it with my kids whenever possible. I will continue to smile and say, “Yeah, my hubby’s a pretty great guy” every time someone hints in a not so subtle way that they think I’m wrong to be so involved in the world of performing arts.  Most importantly, I will strive to remember that I cannot judge the actions/activities/involvements (or lack thereof!) in another family because I don’t know the whole story!

Video

A Song for Sunday!

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