Sunday, April 23, 2006


I just looked at the hit checker at the bottom of the page and I have almost had 100 hits. That is pretty amazing to me. When I started I didn't think anyone would read what I had to write. In spite of that thought, I was so afraid that people would read my thoughts, and judge me...and that those people would be people I know in my 'real life'.

I remember when I started this blog. Fear was such a big part of my life and I hadn't even named it yet. I was so unaware of it, and it ruled me so much. I think I want to write about the people who inspired me to start writing here where others could be privy to my thoughts. Those two people helped me let go of that original fear, and are still helping me now.

They are directly responsible for the creation of this blog, and only one of them knows that it exists. My mother, who writes her own blog, brought the idea into my head. So many times last summer I sat at the computer when no one else was home and wondered if I could manage to write a blog without her finding out. So many times I left the desk just a little bit disappointed with myself for caring so much, and just a little bit relieved that I didn't have to worry about being discovered.

(Now I find it just a little bit ironic that I am at a theatre school whose tagline is "Do You Want To Be Discovered?" - just a little.)

My mother is an amazing person to me. She has made so many big choices, with big consequences. Her journey had been so bizzare and curvy, and wonderful and scary. To come from an alcoholic household, a house of secrets and abuse, and end up in a place of peace, joy and hope, always hope... My mother broke so many cycles that wounded her so that I wouldn't have to feel the same pains she did. I have my own wounds, as is inevitable. But my mother has been sober since I was three. My mother never read my diary. My mother accepted the fact that I would have my own opinion and that I could see hypocrisy in her own life - and call her on it. My mother didn't allow me to be placed in situations where I would be preyed upon. My mother protected me, even sometimes from things that weren't really a danger (The Indian in the Cupboard isn't really going to lead me down a path to Hell, after all). My mother showed me that it was okay to go to a counsellor and ask for help. My mother has shown me that a person can be in one place spiritually and as little as one year later be somewhere radically different. And that's okay. She has shown me that it is good to be strong, pulled together and in control. She has begun to show me that it is okay to be weak. It is okay to be broken. It is okay to give the steering wheel to God.

The other person, the one who tipped me over the edge into this fearful realm of sharing my thoughts with vitual strangers, is a teacher of mine here. I met him when I was 16, and I was fascinated with him right away, although I was intimidated by him too. I worked with him for three weeks the next year, and since then have looked up to him, respected him and cherished his involvement in my life.

He is an artist. A story teller. He loves the same authors as my mother, but shares my perspective and love - and belief - in the fantastical. He has helped me to shape some of my thoughts on God and art and serving both. He has reminded me that I am gifted when I thought I was most worthless as an actress. He has helped me to find the beginning of my way on this shaky path that acting can be. He has listened when I have been upset and lost, and he has laughed with me when I have found the light in the dark passage. He has surprised me with his bluntness and comforted me with his blessings.

Yet I haven't told him about this blog. I remember clearly when I actually took the thought of blogging seriously. It was last term. I was in his car, listening to something on the radio. He was driving me home from one end of our small town, and it was dark. We were talking about blogs for some reason, and he said to me that he thought it would be a good thing for me to do. It would be a good thing for me. I was a little bit startled, and a great deal encouraged. I am a little like Mary, in that I store things up in my heart and ponder them, and bring them out like treasures, smiling at the preciousness of them but scared that others will see my treasures as gaudy trinkets...I don't show these things to people very much. That moment is one of my great treasures.

It was within a week of that moment that I started this blog.

Perhaps before this year is over I will give him the address to this place of mine. This is an even bigger risk for me than to give it to my mother, because I tell my mom my secret thoughts that I write here. And my mother is far away, and no-one that I live with now from day to day will find this secret from her.

Fear is a big, stupid thing. I suppose it must have a purpose. It must. But for the most part, in my life, it is a big stupid obstacle.

Little steps, little steps. Patience and understanding, forgiving myself every time I perceive failure. I am told to do these things by a lot of people in my life, particularly my voice teacher. Old habits are hard to break, new habits are hard to learn, and in the meantime I must have patience.

Perhaps by the time 1,000 people have read my thoughts I will be settled into the habit of freedom from fear.

Incidentally, the three shows I have performed since that one difficult show have been much easier - well, as easy as this show can be. I think having that one hard show served as a wakeup call to me that I cannot settle into and relax into this role, I still have to work and be present every moment that I am on that beautiful stage.
That is a good thing, even if it doesn't sound like it. Sometimes I wonder what non-actors think when I use acting terms, so just to be clear, relaxing into a role is a bad thing. It means that the energy I bring to that part is lower, and it lowers the importance of everything the character does or tries to do.
In retrospect, I think that is a part of what happened. Hopefully, lesson learned. Realistically, one more step on a vast journey.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dry Eyes

Today I had a rough show.

I have a role that is an emotional roller-coaster. Usually I have no problem at all hitting the sadder spectrum of that emotion. Sometimes I don't know what to do with myself on stage when I'm happy, but sad I can do.

Today for some reason I held myself back. The emotion balled itself up in my throat and stayed there, tightening in on my voice and causing a lot of pain in the process. And giving me dry eyes when I'm usually a cascading fountain.

It scared me. A lot.

I don't completely know why I was holding it in instead of letting it out. It confused me at the was a struggle for about half of the play. I hated it. I had a terrible 'inner dialogue' (actor speak for the tape playing inside of your head) telling me that I was a failure. Eventually I found the mute button and focused on relaxing my throat. Then I was better. I felt better, anyway.

In the long run, this was probably a good experience for me. It sure didn't feel like it though.

Afterwards, when I was 'debriefing' about my perception of my performance, one of my fellow actors asked me if I was in physical pain today. I said yes - yesterday in dance (which I shouldn't be doing in the first place with my knee how it is) I slipped and fell, barely twisting my knee but landing hard core on my wrist. My whole arm is sore today. I feel like I've been lifting weights and pulled muscles without all the added bulk and strength, but it's just my lovely connective tissue disorder coming to the forefront again. It was very interesting (and somewhat reassuring) to note that there could be a possible connection between protecting myself physically and protecting myself emotionally.

And I have made progress. I am forgiving myself for being less than ideal out there on stage and moving forward with my life.

It's good to know that I can have a rough performance and still have a pretty good day.

Monday, April 10, 2006

After the show has opened

Notes I wrote in church while I perhaps should have been giving Oz (the preacher) my undivided attention, April 9th 2006:

Oz said it is easy to be confident in God when we see him aiding us, easy to trust. When it seems we are alone trust comes hard with tears and moaning, weariness and anguish.

Why is it so hard to remember the good times, so easy to second-guess the things I know to be true? When I am struggling it seems that is all there is. When I’m flying it seems that the trust is so present and easy. The memories of tears and frustration fade away. Why? Human foible? I am beginning to think it is inevitable.

This rehearsal process has made me a different person. “I’ll trust God but I’m still going to cry about this.” - Oz just said this. I have started learning so much about myself. I hate being weak. I hate looking messy in public. Crying messily makes me feel like a huge loser. I haven’t seen anyone in my growing up handle pain in a healthy way. I have cut myself off from my body. I have pushed pain down into my deep self and I continue to do so on a subconscious level (though I am becoming aware). And by doing so I have cut myself off from my source of power. But I have begun to learn to change. I am beginning to know what being in my body is, what allowing myself to fail is. I am most afraid of failure and I didn’t know that before. Failure and being alone. Two things that started when I was so young the roots are almost lost to me.

I have begun to ask for help when I need it. I have begun many good things. I have prayed more this term than I can remember ever praying before in my life. I never would have believed that I could have survived something like this term. I didn’t think I would survive this term. I didn’t think I would find solace and comfort where I’ve found it.

Fear is a big thing, but unlike Oz I don’t think it comes from sin or un-dealt-with sin alone. It comes from lies you are told. It comes from lies you tell yourself. It comes from things you are taught as a child. It comes from unrealistic expectations you place on yourself, expectations you can never achieve.

Feeling broken has hurt so much, but I don’t think – I know – I would not have grown where and how I’ve grown without the breaking I’ve gone through. And I think I will always be doing this. Breaking and growing, scars being ripped open and healed anew. It will be a constant hurt and a constant renewal and peace.

March 29th 2006

Counselling. 4 out of 6 of the Dahlen house inhabitants have gone for counselling today.
I feel lighter.

Fear bunches up in my chest and then stops everything from getting any further out than my throat…and that tightens to hold it all in until I feel like something is going to break…and I’m choking on my emotions, pain in my throat until I could cry from that, only holding in my tears is the whole reason I feel the pain in the first place.
I let them out today. I don’t remember being able to let go once I start holding before, but today I did. Great wracking sobs. Pain pouring out like from a pitcher, overflowing onto the world. And then suddenly it didn’t need to pour out any more and it stopped. My breath slowed, I stopped gasping for air. I realized that I hate looking like a mess and I smiled. So quickly I went from pain and sobs to smiles and sparkling humour. Humanity is such a quick adaptive creature.
Murray tells me that letting myself be a mess, letting myself fall apart, letting my pain and fear become visible instead of hiding them away like a disease, will allow me to become one with my body – to be in my body, as Paul keeps telling me. It will allow me to accept myself and grow, and become mentally and emotionally healthy, to become a person who is able to have a healthy relationship and to be able to act.
It’s scary to be a mess in front of people. I hate appearing weak. I hate computers inability to understand syntax. There, at least that last one is taken care of. I hate crying, because to me it seems weak. The lack of tears is connected with strength to me, but to Maki and Tyler it would make me a cold-hearted bitch.
I never saw my parents deal with pain in a healthy way. Dad ran away, Mom grew angry and yelled and swore. I rarely saw them cry with pain. One memory of Mom crying in pain, when she spanked me in my taffeta dress and then saw me, crushed and hurt…and then she cried because she had done that to me. One memory of Dad crying in pain, when I told him how much I had wanted to be with him as a little girl and that I didn’t want to have to tell him…when he realized that I was right, that he should have known that I wanted to be where he was, that he needed to spend time with me to show his love.
I got the idea that strength is good from them. From what they didn’t tell me as much as what they did, from their inaction as much as from their action.
When I love and accept myself, flaws and all, mess and weakness, I will find it impossible to not be present in my body.
This is going to be a long fricken process. But that is okay. I feel peace at last.
I feel like it will happen, and God is in charge of the timetable. And I can accept that, right now, at least.

For a change, crying hasn’t made me headachy. I actually feel better for having let go of my tensions. Maybe because I actually let go of them instead of shifting them around to another part of my body.

I wish my knee wasn’t injured. I’m glad I know that I hate feeling like a ball of weakness. I am glad I know that I hate weakness. It gives me a starting point to jump off of, the discernable edge of a cliff from which to launch myself.

Maybe today I will be able to simply be, and not hold myself in judgment.