Standing ovations and other delusions of etiquette in our Local theater

Maybe it's my passion for the theater, maybe it's that I've attended enough plays to understand how theater etiquette works, or maybe it's just because I'm a theater snob, but whatever the reason I've become increasingly disappointed in reactions to our local theater.  Greensboro is lucky to have one of the best local/regional theaters in the nation and I'm grateful for that.  I'll rave about Triad Stage to anyone who will listen, I've donated what I can afford and I've been a season ticket holder off and on over the years when my budget could afford it.  I currently have two season tickets to this year's "Lucky 13 Season", but I'm bothered by a few things I can't get off my mind. The first play in this years season was "Wait Until Dark".  Triad stage gave us a fun play with an amazing set  (as always), the lighting perfect, special effects great, acting good aside from the leading actress who had so much nervous energy she could not keep her twitching hands still that it detracted from the over all performance of the show.  The subject matter was light-hearted and not particularly moving, but it didn't need to be.  Not every play needs to be an emotional roller-coaster.  When the curtain figuratively came down, I wasn't particularly moved by a particular cast member, the over-all cast or subject so I remained in my seat.  No need to stand unless you are moved, yet the entire audience was on their feet!?  Why I'm not sure.

Greensboro, this is a plea, show some class and only stand when a show, cast or particular cast member moves you.  Triad Stage is a professional theater and we should treat it as such.  These are not your children's grade school theater productions where you stand because at that age any act of performing deserves credit.  These are paid actors, actresses, lighting technicians and directors.  I think they do a great job, but if we don't criticize then we will never push them to do better.  Do you get a bonus for doing your job well, not great but well?  I doubt it, so why give a standing ovation if it wasn't warranted

This weekend I attended "The Mountaintop" It got good reviews and I was eager to see the play only to be disappointed.  I don't trust Greensboro reviewers of plays as it feels like no one will go out on a limb and tell Triad Stage they can do better.  Let me be the one to say it, Triad Stage you can do better and you should.  This play was good, but not great, everything aside from the leading actress was just plain "ok" theater.  The Subject matter could have been compelling, the play itself was interesting, but in my opinion over all it missed the mark. Triad Stage played it safe with this show and it didn't deserve a standing ovation, yet again when the curtain came down I was surrounded by standing theater goers.

To theater reviewers in the Triad, please be a little more honest.  Let the audience know what they are really in for.

Greensboro, I'm pleading with you, don't stand up unless an actor, actress, or cast moved  you emotionally.

Triad Stage, you are good, I'm not saying this was poor theater, it's still good, but you have a talented staff and a decent budget as far as theaters go.  You are playing it safe these days.  Take more risks, move me, make me want to stand up at the end of a play.

Do the work: Sunday 06.01.13

Artwork by Betty Trotter
Artwork by Betty Trotter

When you buy a house that is perfect for you, you expect to feel like this.  But when you buy a house and you are emotionally spent already that might not be how you feel after you've signed all the paperwork and stepped outside.  I closed on my beautiful house on Friday, I signed the mountain of paperwork, promising to pay, and acknowledging god knows what.  As I walked out of the lawyer's office I expected to feel elated, but instead,  I kinda lost it.  By "lost it" I mean tears, not tears of joy, sobbing, sitting in my car looking like a ridiculous idiot sobbing at lunch time for no apparent reason.

I'm not entirely sure where these feelings came from, truth be told they caught me off guard.  The suddenness of the pain was astounding.  Pain, and sadness weren't the emotions I was expecting.  I was expecting elation, maybe even a flood of adrenaline.

I know I've made the right decision, I'm in love with my house.  I'm ready to move forward into the next chapter, but when I walked down the street with my house keys in hand I didn't feel elated, I felt empty.  I felt utterly empty and exhausted.  When our expectations of where we think we're supposed to be  or what we think we should be feeling aren't congruent with reality it can be jarring.

I'm proud of myself for many things in this last year.  I'm proud of myself for doing the work to open my yoga studio and not going completely insane in the process, for working hard at Lincoln, for always putting in the work at the end of a relationship to work through my feelings until they are completely processed.  I'm proud that I am a strong independent women who has the strength and the financial means to buy myself a house.  All of those things should be good, but even still I'm sad and upset.

A caring friend gently reminded me that what I'm feeling is normal, and it means I have more to learn, it means I have more work to do.  More reading, more journaling, more meditation.  More work.  period.  If you ever think to yourself  "I don't need to do the work, I don't need to be more introspective", you're probably in for a big wake up call.  It doesn't matter what your age is.  No matter how much self-work I've done I'm confident there will always be more.  If we simply float through life not looking closely at our emotions I ask "what kind of life are you really living?"  I know that if I do the work now this won't rear its ugly head unexpectedly 5 or 10 years from now.  I've got to dig deep and just deal what is coming up. Self work is not easy.  It's some of the hardest you can do, but I promise it's worth it.

In some way's this place where I am feels familiar.  I've been here before.  Do I really have to learn this lesson again?  Yes, I do.  I must have missed something the last few rounds so I've got to process it out once again.  We get the lessons we need until we don't need them again.  This I'm sure of.  Until I figure it all out, I'll do the work.

Tuesday Tidbits: My home practice isn't pretty

Max with yoga mat
Max with yoga mat

It's 8:24pm on a monday night and I've just gotten done with a short meditation practice.  I know I've got an early morning start tomorrow, but the evening breeze is coming in my bedroom window after a cool rain.  I'm not quite ready for bed.  A piece is missing.  My home practice.

I get up, unroll my mat and set it up in the empty room I practice in.  It's not pretty, my mat is dirty it's been well-loved and no matter how many times I wipe it down with tea tree oil, it still feels grimy to me.  Never mind that, I go change tops to make sure my t-shirt doesn't fall down and distract me.   I've got too many distractions in my mind already I want to mitigate the ones in the body.  When I come back to my mat Max is lying down next to it, at least he isn't on it.  I'll choose my battles and I let him be.  I think when I do yoga it seems to give him a sense of calm and security, but then again I could be imagining that.

My teacher Stephanie said we should lock dogs and children out of our practice space/time.  I do understand why, but max doesn't want to bother me, he just wants to be near me.  I'm on my mat to practice that's all that matters.

I'm getting back to a steady home practice these days.  No, I don't spend 3 hours a day on the mat like some teachers I know and admire, but I do make it a point to get on my mat for a few minutes each day even if I can only spare 10 minutes.  I need the time to listen to my body, I need the time to check in.  It's not pretty, I get distracted, I try to remind myself like I remind my students to stop thinking about the lint between my toes, the chipped toe-nail paint, the dust bunnies in the corner and the list of things I failed to do at work and just breath.  The point is to notice the distractions, acknowledge them and let them go.  Listen to my body, what's tight, what's not, what's going on in the body, what's coming up in the mind.  Notice and let go.

The point is that if we don't show up on our mats to find out, we'll never know.  We need to be home to answer the door.  That's why I head to my mat.  I want to be present for whatever knocks.  What ever calls at my spirit.  To do that we need to put in the work.  We need to show up so I show up.

Thinking about little girls: Gut Instincts

Little Curly Haired Girl I finished reading " Lean in" this week by Sheryl Sandberg.  I'd strongly recommend you read it as well.  Frankly I think everyone should read it (man or woman).  It's got me thinking about many different aspects of the female life, not simply workplace related.

Given the current cross roads I've found myself in, I've been thinking about how we don't teach our children to trust their gut, especially our female children.  Maybe you are teaching your daughter how to trust herself and if so this is great, but looking back on my childhood trusting myself, my gut, my instinct was certainly not talked about or cultivated.  This is not a criticism to my parents, it's more a commentary on society in general.

When I think about decisions I've made in the past, I know I've made really big decisions more on calculations of what I think the "smart choice" in life is, than on what I really wanted in my heart.  Have you done that?  For example in college I would have loved to do a semester abroad.  I reasoned that I couldn't afford it, I couldn't afford to live abroad for a semester and not be working ect...  .  Yes, on paper that was a very smart choice right?  But regardless I'm still paying off student loan debt, I'm not sure that a semester abroad would have really made it any worse than it is and the experience would have been priceless.  I've taken and stayed with jobs I've not been completely jazzed about because they are the "smart" financial choice.  I've dated men long-term because they seemed like safe bets, choices that wouldn't break my heart (clearly this one has not worked out for me at all).  I don't always say no to people and events that I should say no to.  It comes down to not trusting myself.  I don't think I'm the only person who does this, I believe there are many, I'm sure some men do this, but I have a hunch that it's more of a female thing.

I'm happy to report in most of my adult life thus far, I think I'm getting better and better about trusting myself.  Finding and listening to what my gut is telling me is still hard, but I'm stopping to try to figure it out.  Even still questions still nag at me.  How do I continue to cultivate a trust in myself, a trust of my gut feelings and gut desires?   Not just go with them, but recognize and walk with them.  In the times that I do listen to my gut, it's typically gone well, but I don't always  know how to distinguish what my gut instinct actually is.

Let me take this a little further, not only do I wonder how to cultivate it for myself, I wonder how we teach little girls to cultivate a trust in their own intuition?  What if I ever have a little girl? (I'm not planning on having children, but never say never.)  How do we teach little girls to trust themselves, listen to their hearts, be strong, stand up for themselves, and be their own strongest advocates?  How do we teach this?

I've given it a lot of thought recently, I certainly don't think I have all of the answers, but I have a hunch that a few of these would help.

1) Turn off the TV:  This simple thing will get rid of the bombarding of girls with bad messages that you are fat, ugly, not good enough, popular enough, pretty enough ect....  The TV (with rare exceptions) belittles self-esteem.  Get rid of it.

2) Attempt regular conversations with little girls (and yourself) about what their hopes and dreams for the future, help them on the path that they are interested in, constantly brain storming ideas with them about how they can make their dreams come true.  Think about possibilities not road blocks.

3) Teach girls yoga and meditation.  If I had these tools when I was younger, I would be a different person today for sure.

This is what I've got for now.  Do you have anything to add?  How do you think we are doing on teaching girls to listen to their gut instincts?  I'd love to hear your thoughts especially if you have little girls!

7 Year Anniversary

I took a picture on the way into work to commemorate my 7 year Lincoln Anniversary.
I took a picture on the way into work to commemorate my 7 year Lincoln Anniversary.

Today is my 7 year anniversary at Lincoln Financial.

Let that sink in a moment.

Seven years at one company, going to the same floor, of the same building with the same people every day, 5 days a week.

7 years, that is longer than any relationship I've ever been in by at least a good two years.  The job I was in before this I had worked at a total of 4 years.  How long have you worked at your current job?  I'm 30 and I've worked at this job for 7 years.  I'm a little bit in awe of myself.  When I thought about all of things I thought I'd do with my life, I never dreamed that I'd spend 7 years working for an insurance company.

Not that I have a bad gig.  In fact I think many would kill for a job like mine.  After all, I get my own greyish/blueish cubicle, I've got a plant on my desk that I've managed to keep alive for the most recent half of my seven years here (this is incredible seeing as how I normally kill plants).  I've got a steady income, a matching 401k, enough income that I also contribute to a ROTH IRA, enough PTO to pursue my passions, health insurance, and a portion of my income is variable, so in theory the harder I work the more I make.  Pretty good gig, Lincoln is Awesome, but I'm not sure that I'm always happy hanging out in my cubicle making phone calls to financial advisors.  Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with Lincoln.  Lincoln Financial is an AMAZING company to work for. I would highly recommend them to you if you are looking for a job.

It's just that I never thought this would be how I made a living, I thought my living would come from being a little more intimately involved in non-profit work or doing something where I could see that I was making a direct positive impact in someone's life.  I guess that is why I teach yoga, but yoga sure doesn't pay my bills (at least not yet, maybe someday it will be able to pay some, or at least help me take a big vacation once a year or enhance my wardrobe).

This anniversary seems like a good time to take stock of what I've been doing with my life and where I want to go.  Is it an accomplishment to spend 7 years at one company?  I honestly don't know if it means I'm dedicated and loyal or if it means I'm afraid of risk and change.  In reality I think it's a big combination of all of those things.  What I think it says about me is that I really don't like change.  I like the safe route, I want the sure shot in life, in relationships, in everything.  I don't like change and I typically don't do it gracefully.  Therefore I've stayed in the same job and pretty much the same position for a very long time.  Does this mean I'm failing to reach my full potential?  Some times I think so.  I try to accomplish a lot, but how do we know if we are making a difference or leaving a positive legacy and does it matter? These are my thoughts, and I've been spending way to much time in my head about it.  What changes do you resist, what do you stay in because you don't like change?  What do you want your legacy to be?