When It’s Dark, Look For The Stars…

Star Cluster

Dear Gentle Reader,

I hope this finds you in good health and spirits!

At the start of this crisis, I told myself that this would be a great time to do all the things that I felt I didn’t have time to do. Ha-ha, yeah, right.

By the end of the first week, I could feel a suffocation building. You see, there were a lot of things that I was in the middle of and leaving them unfinished would prove to weigh heavily on my psyche. My team and I were placed on furlough in early March. The company that holds the contract to the location we are located was up for renewal this year and we still didn’t know the status.  We didn’t know if we would be employed when it was time to come back to work. I was in the middle of interviewing for a new job that would have incredible effects on my life and present new challenges that I was looking forward to. With hiring frozen, there went that possibility for now. In mid-April, I found out the company I am with lost their contract. Now it became a question of would we be invited to join the new company or would my team be up a creek?

Couple this stuff with the health issues of some of my loved ones. My job, while sending me on furlough, was kind enough to continue to pay for my health benefits which was an  unbelievable kindness that I will never forget. The reason it meant so much to me was because my hubby (who continued to work) is still dealing with his cancer which we hadn’t told many people about and we are both covered under my company. Every day, I am constantly checking in with him to see how he feels. I almost feel like a mom. LOL! So a massive cloud was building over this one issue.  My mother and sister both work in nursing homes and I have seen both catch colds from people there. I know it isn’t intentional and I feel for all involved, but I would worry about what could happen if one of them came home with the virus? My dad is suffering from dementia and his health isn’t all that great as it is and it takes a lot to push away those thoughts. My good friend, Tom, works in a place that is considered essential and I worry about his health as well.

I had nightmares that ended up with me alone in strange places when I was once surrounded by people and places that were familiar several nights a week. This put my sleep cycle into something much more severe chaos than mere insomnia. What did these dreams mean? I know some people think they mean nothing but to each their own.

I would try to distract myself with projects but eventually, those thoughts would come back and take over, so I would move on to something new but once again, Dear Reader, came the worries. It seemed like every”where” I would run to, I was followed by these lingering thoughts that would bloom into storms of worry. My eyes would flash with tears and my blood would pound in my ears like inescapable thunder.  For weeks. Finally, I sat down in the middle of the “rain” and just surrendered. So I wrote to you, Kind Reader.

When I set out to do something, I typically get it done or I get a version of it done that I can live with for now. However, when I don’t do it, I engage in a lot of negative self talk and frustration with myself. I wish I can tell you how all the things that I didn’t get to do or complete have contributed to that typhoon of depression and anxiety.

I know that it can never rain forever. I know this. I know that no single feeling will last forever. Once this virus is under control, I would feel better. Then something happened. When I focused on that one little fact, “it will not be forever” (It just feels like it.) the rain lightened up a little. Each day that my love came home and was feeling fine, it lightened up a bit more. Then, one day the doctor said that the immunotherapy seems to be doing some good and the rain stopped. After that, I found out that most of my team was going to be moved to the new company that won the contract. In fact, I just signed my offer letter today! The nightmares have stopped.  When I check in with my mom I find she and my dad are doing great. I don’t think the worry was needless or irrational or unwarranted, but I am surprised at how deeply it sank its snare into me. I thought I would be on social media so much more than I am currently, but all I could handle was a text thread between my siblings and nieces and my besties. I would pop in every couple of days, but it was all just an attempt to distract myself and not to connect. It is rough. It WAS rough. I think now that things are evening out, I may be back on more. Fingers crossed.

I feel like I will be back to normalish soon whether or not the shelter in place orders are lifted. Until then, I will keep looking up.

Do you ever notice that when you look up and see the stars they glitter their little hello’s, but when to look past them, more come into view? Like you are getting closer to those far away balls of light?

If you, Gentle Reader, are finding that this shelter in place and social distancing is getting you down and need to talk about it, drop me a line! If you feel like you need help, reach out to NAMI.ORG or you can call them at 800.950.NAMI or text “NAMI” to 741741.

Again, we are all in this together.  Be kind to yourself and to others. Be alert and be safe.

Until next time….

I’m Not OK & That’s OK

white ceramic sculpture with black face mask
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Hello Gentle Reader,

How are you holding up during this pandemic? I hope you are well and staying safe and healthy.

If you would have asked me last month, I would have said I am great. That would have been a 3/4 true statement. People ask now and I tell them I am doing ok. That is a lie, Dear Reader. A big ol’ bold faced lie, I tells ya!

I think I really hit “the wall” about two weeks ago. I have tried to keep myself busy learning some new things, completing yarn projects that I had started but never finished, and even moving all the furniture in my apartment around. I would have done a closet cleaning, but I did that around Christmas time. Every time I try to work on something theatre related, this deep sense of despair hits me like a kick to the chest.

Yup! Like Bruce Lee is kicking me in the chest…

Ever since I got the directive to stay home on March 11th, I have been having a hard time sleeping. I have tried sleeping pills and they do the trick, but I don’t take them repeatedly  because I don’t want to make a habit out of it. I used to find that using them for one night would reset my sleeping rhythm and I would be good until the next bout of insomnia.

Now, I think they enhance my anxiety more than anything else. When I do sleep, I either can’t get comfortable or I have nightmares that set the anxiety into overdrive or scare the shit out of me. Sometimes both.

I think of my friends every hour but I find pulling up social media to be less stimulating than actually seeing them in person or laughing with them and feeling that vibration fill my heart with joy. When I think about logging on, I just get overwhelmed.

I have an ongoing text conversation with my siblings and a cousin and my nieces, but it isn’t the same.  It is nice to have, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t the same and my brain doesn’t like the lack of punctuation and all the spelling errors thanks to voice text. LOL! I know, Kind Reader, I am being ultra whiney right now and I should be grateful for the contact. I hear you and I acknowledge you.

It’s true, Gentle Reader. I am being whiney. But here is the point of all of this. It is ok to not be ok. I have always said to embrace your feelings. Acknowledge them and walk through them. I am bringing them to light because maybe in doing so, it might help someone else that is struggling with this shelter in place malaise as well.

For me, I imagine working my way through them as though I was walking through a haunted maze or house during Halloween.  For those of you who don’t know, I love horror movies but am terrified of the dark. (Rereading that last sentence during editing makes no logical sense, I know, but then again, neither does loving performing but hating being in pictures.) Walking into a haunted house is always a sense of fun and dread, granted there is no fun in the feelings I am currently fighting. I jump at everything that pops out or screams at me. I have night lights in every single room of my apartment. I think every noise that the neighbors make is something other than what it is. I am a psychological mess. I freely admit that. I’d love to see a therapist, but worry that I would go bankrupt for all the sessions I would need to fix me. But I know I am not alone. And You are not alone.

So as we work through this and maintain vigilance in the face of this pandemic. Honor your feelings. Work through them in any way that you can. If you want to drop me a line, feel free to do so. Maybe we can trade ideas. If you feel like this is way too much, please, PLEASE, reach out to NAMI.ORG or you can call them at 800.950.NAMI or text “NAMI” to 741741.

My Dear Reader, we are all in this together. Be kind to yourself and to others.  We don’t know what others are dealing with. Be safe and be aware.

Until next time…

5 Musicals, 1 Staged Reading, 1 Webisode, and 1 Play in 12 Months…

Crazy cast of Sugar
Crazy cast of Sugar

To say that 2013 has been a busy year is redundant.  I have spent countless hours in rehearsals and still more in performances.  But it was such a wonderful, exhausting and yet fleeting year.  There were so many high points and a few low points.  I don’t want to bore you with them as I have feel I have already shared them with you.  There’s nothing that bothers me more than repetitive blogging.  That’s part of the reason that I’ve been a little less productive on the site this year.

Crazy cast of Promises, Promises. (rehearsal)
Crazy cast of Promises, Promises. (rehearsal)

One thing that never changed throughout was my positive outlook.  Life is too short to spend too much time marching in the “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” parade.  I always say honor your feelings, so if you feel sad, do it.  Feel that sadness, but only stay in the parade for a block or two. Don’t let it drag you down the street! There were a times when I was kicking myself for getting in way over my head. I worried and stressed about it, but once I worked through it, I had to come up with a way to fix my predicament.  I don’t like to be a victim of my life.  I don’t see how it helps me.  So the only thing to do is to remain positive.  Except when it comes to a strep test.  THEN you wanna be full of negative.

Finale of 9 to 5 with some of the crazy cast.  Photo by B. Heninger
Finale of 9 to 5 with some of the crazy cast. Photo by B. Heninger

In my lows, I will admit that it reached points at the nursery where I didn’t want to care about the place.  But again, what good does that do?  It just creates a cycle of waking up, grabbing a shower, followed by 8 hours of clock watching to then head to the theatre.  At that point, I would have to take a moment to shake off my day’s indifference so that I can commit to my characters.  Then I thought of how much more fully involved I could make my characters if I took all the aspect of my life and tried to commit to them. How much more can I experience LIFE and use it in theatre?

The kooky cast of Zombie Prom.
The kooky cast of Zombie Prom.

I began offering ideas to the management at work, and many of them they loved.  It astonishes me that once that line of thinking became vocalized how many other ideas seemed to come out of nowhere. Sadly, it took most of the year to pass before I even had the inclination to do this. Still, it opens a new way of thinking and I cannot wait to see how I can utilize it for future characterizations.

In all honesty, I feel like I have to say that this has been a totally selfish year.  My goal, in addition to continuing to perform, is to help promote the arts and to celebrate the people who create it.  I have been so wrapped up in only my shows that I have failed in helping.  So like my new mindset for work, I would like to throw it out to the wonderful community that I am lucky to be a part of:

How can I help you? 

I am all ears.  I have some ideas in the planning stages so, maybe you are thinking the same thing I am.

Until next time, (which may even be next year!)

jery

 

P.S. Have a safe and happy New Year!!

 

 

Shame on me…

I am experiencing the strangest, um, cycle…no.  That isn’t the right word for it.  Sadly, I don’t have the proper way to say it concisely.  With that in mind…Lemme tell you a story.

So when I began working on this show, I was elated. I was joyous.  Over the moon, even.  During the six week rehearsal process, from staging to building the characters, from rehearsing in an echo-y room to finally getting to the theatre, from playing with my fellow actors to venting with them, I have seem to come to a point where I feel stagnant.  And I am absolutely ashamed to say it.

I don’t know what it is about this particular play, but right after Opening, I’ve just been feeling like I am in the middle of the road.  The preview shows were fun as was Opening Night. However, since then while I am energetic and enthusiastic off stage, I personally feel like what I am putting forth is stale.

But if I were truly in “the moment” how in the hell, could find myself in the situation I am in?  I don’t believe that I have ever played the same scene twice in a row.  I am sure that it’s for selfish reasons, because I think I’ve played the way I have to illicit different responses from my cast mates.

I actually felt bad when I walked out to thank the audience for seeing the show.  I hung out in the far back of the group, trying to not be seen.  I wish I didn’t even go out there, but Rosa herded everyone out into the lobby, so I got stuck in the group.  Even meeting Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano Theatre and author of Zoot Suit, was super cool, but I didn’t feel worthy of his compliment.  I ducked out of the lobby very shortly after that.  I was in my regular clothes and in my car before the rest of the cast even came back to the dressing rooms.

What makes you feel like you’ve stalled in the middle of your momentum?  How do you overcome this obstacle?  More importantly, once you figure it out, how do you prevent it from happening all over again?

Let me know what you find that works for you.

Cheers!