Category Archives: Lessons

grin and bear it.

We are daily, hourly, weekly faced with challenges.

Some are inconsequential.

Some are thrown at us.

Some suck.

Some are thrilling.

Some we choose.

I want to know, as soon as I am faced with a challenge, which it’s going to be. But I can’t always figure it out. I can’t always know if I need to push through, or step back. If I should keep forging ahead knowing there will be a payoff in the end, or if I should change directions, take a new path. And if the answer is to pick a new path, I want to know when I should start forging that path. I rarely know.

In fact, maybe I never know.

It is the challenges that we choose that fascinate me. I am faced with challenges that I choose all the time. In the thick of those choices, when things get really hard, I can think to myself “self, just sit down and give up for a while. No one will know but you.” But I don’t. Because what about all the people faced with challenges that they don’t choose? Faced with the world and life being thrust upon them? They can’t sit down and give up. They have to keep going. And if they can keep going in a situation they didn’t choose, I can keep going in a situation I placed myself in.

Let’s be real. Have I faced challenges I didn’t choose? Life altering moments that really really sucked? Moments where I thought life might be better if I wasn’t in it? Absolutely. I hope I never face moments like that again.

But, at this moment in time, I choose my challenges. I take ownership over where I’m taking my life.

Since I have been gifted this privilege, I better tuck my chin in, power up my glutes, and do it with a smile.



It is breath that gives us the will to live, the fortitude to overcome, the peace for joy.


When we are lost. When we don’t know what. When we don’t know where. When we cannot understand. First breathe, then think: what nourishment do I need now? What nourishment does s/he/we/you need now? For body, for spirit, for eyes, for brain, for whatever.


It is fear that is my undoing. It holds my breath. It hides the clues. It takes away my sense of me. It holds me hostage.

Until I breathe.

And then I am breathing. And breath blows fear away.

Like the imaginary dreams floating out of my child’s restless head. Together we purse our lips, puff out our cheeks, and we blow them away. Blow them to the dream-catcher to snare, to the window to toss out into the world and break into a million dancing pieces. Our breath is magic.


I’ve been thinking about cultivation.

I’ve been gardening.  Last fall, I broke up the ground for a veggie patch and sowed it with black gold from my very own compost bin.  This spring, I took up the cardboard and dug around, delighted to see worms as a fruit of my labor.  Then I salvaged wood from my back porch, cement blocks from a broken down outdoor fire place, spiked spacers from a patio job at my parents’ house, and nails rescued from my late grandfather’s tool bins and fashioned a raised bed.  I filled this bed with bags and bags of dirt purchased from the local farm co-op into which I mixed composted chicken poo from a dear friend and neighbor.  Then I planted seeds.  Every night I went out and planted a few more kinds.  Today, the first little shoots poked up.  Little beet leaves lifting up their delicate green leaves.  In the pouring rain today, I was tempted to go out and offer them shelter.  I worked so hard and so have they; to have them washed away would be so sad for us all.  I convinced myself that they would survive the downpour because we have worked so hard together, and I built them up on furrows for just that very reason.  I have set them up for success.

Cultivation takes time.  It takes dedication, love, passion, and a desire to set something up for success.  To think – what do I need to give you so that you will succeed?

The dictionary definition of the word is too exacting, too…dictionary-like.

When a day goes by (or more often 3 or 4) where I can’t get my hands dirty, pull up weeds, chop down invaders, make space for the unexpected windfalls (like the small plot of wild columbines that I have been protecting from the lawn mower), my heart sinks, a get restless, my butt goes numb from too much sitting,  and I begin to worry about anything and everything.  But when I give myself time to cultivate, I am peaceful in my heart.

This garden cultivation is really a metaphor, you see.  Have you figured that out yet?  It is a metaphor for the artistic work that I do best.  It is a metaphor for mentoring artists, for wooing donors, for working with a scene partner, for directing a play.  It is all cultivation.  Setting things up for success is an act of cultivation.  Sometimes things happen in minute increments that you can barely detect–or maybe not at all, like those little beets that were so busy underground while I looked at blank dirt for a week and hoped my cat would stop digging up my careful rows.  Sometimes it happen all at once, like the clematis that bloomed early along the back wall of my garage and gifted us with huge purple stars of beauty.  One day it was green vine, the next, flowers the size of my head.  Sometimes it is a slow steady slog, like the days I spent hoeing, hammering, and hauling dirt.  But, without it, my little plot would fail.

I like to cultivate things.

Light & Life

When I was a child, I went to an elementary school with arts-inspired curriculum.  It was the 80’s, the concept of supporting the whole child in education was new, but all those hippies had to educate their kids some place. Our holiday celebration was not the re-telling of of the birth of Christ, but was much more and inspiringly called Light & Life.

I don’t remember much about these annual shindigs other than an abundance of candles and twinkling lights.  However, I do remember the mission: to celebrate light in a time of darkness.  To celebrate life when the world feels dead.  Light & Life.

This afternoon I went to my child’s Holiday All-School.  The school is much like the one of my own youth but better because we know more about educating the whole child.  It is filled with the children of children of hippies who walk alongside hipster kids’ kids, preppy gals children, and all sorts of named cultures, non-cultures, and in-betweens.  We’ve got it all.  And, together,  we lit a candle.

As the Head of School took the candle from the hands of a child, lit it, and sent peace to the world…I took a deep breath in and silently thanked the universe for keeping my child safe.  I silently thanked the universe that I no longer live next door to Newtown, where my high school has been contemplating how to do a lock down on a multi-building campus, where my oldest friends have had to watch funeral processions slide by with tiny caskets.  And I silently sent my love to anyone who might need it.  Anywhere.

Do not joke about a mythical Mayan Apocalypse when worlds are ending every day.  Please.  It offends my heart.

Instead let us spend solstice celebrating the light the gleams through darkness, the life that goes on living whether we want it to or not, and the chance to make amends, make change, make life, make light, and continue on.  Let us celebrate the lengthening of days and the turning of the earth.  Let us recognize the joy in small things and set aside our paltry love affairs with useless worries and imagined emergencies.  Let us celebrate Light & Life.


She is Fierce

“…though she be but little, she is fierce.” – Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

My daughter and I say this to each other sometimes.  To remind each that we are fierce.

I say it to myself now, at 3am, finally done with my very long work day.

I repeat the word, Fierce, to myself in the car.  What is this word?  Fierce.

I’m adopting it as mine.