be the hero you wish would save you. from

I found a path covered in brambles. And then I lost it.

For 8 weeks.

I found a path.

It was covered in brambles.

I followed it anyways. My own art. My own challenge.

I made the time to charge through those brambles, get stuck with thorns, step through mud, and scramble up rocks.   Time that I did not have but I made anyways.

For 8 weeks.

I rehearsed for Much Ado About Nothing.  For those same 8 weeks I trained for my first Sprint Distance Triathlon.

For 8 weeks, I made myself eat enough, sleep enough, be enough.

I did not clean the house. I barely did dishes. I barely saw my child. I had just enough time to get through my day. When I felt sick, I swam anyways. When I felt tired or injured, I rehearsed anyways.

I thought it was too much.

I thought I was over-committed.

I cried and regretted and my child punished me with torrents of tears at every departure.  

A man I love told me it was okay to give up: it was okay to admit I was over-committed and to drop something.  To know I tried and couldn’t.  And it’s okay to try and then…know it’s enough.  I wept and felt relieved.  Then I woke up in the morning to realize that I could not ‘give up.’  No, no, that would be failure.  But I could be okay with doing my best.  Not the best of another.  Just my best.

So I kept on down that path and made friends with the thorns.  Their stings warning me to dance higher out of their way.  The slips on rocks reminding me to look closer and step lighter.  The caked mud simply something to put up with, or sling in delight at an unwary partner.

Then, on that one weekend, eight weeks later, I opened my show and completed my triathlon in one big rush.

And I loved it.

I looked back at those 8 weeks and I loved those too.  The tears were so minor; the fear so small.

I recovered from the race and closed my show with an impish grin, a rock hard stomach, and dreams of future triumphs.

It all ended.

And I got horribly sad.

So I stopped eating good food and started eating chocolate and drinking too much coffee.  I stopped sleeping right and found myself up at 1am for no reason other than that I couldn’t sleep.

There must be a middle.  Not a balance.  Not that damn word: balance.  But a middle.  A middle somewhere.  A path.

To find the time to create art, create physical triumph…to have time to put my child to bed and live in a tidy home.  To put it all together and not slump down in sadness when it is all over.  

When the goal has diminished to a past accomplishment: to set the new goal all over again.  The new goal that feels no greater than the last but will be even more important.

How do I do this?

Do not answer.  I do not want to hear it.  Because I know the answers.  I just do not know how to put them into practice.  My brain moves too quickly; my body moves too slowly; my heart moves in tides.

I am bowled over by paperwork; I am lost amongst the ants invading my kitchen counters; I am grown over by the weeds in my backyard; I am snowed in by bills I cannot pay.

But when I expand my back ribs in the deep inhalation of a voice about to be, when I tuck my chin and watch the line in the pool race by, when the burning of my quads forces me to engage, when I sink into the eyes of another artist, there is nothing but my body in motion.  There are no papers, no dishes, no late fees.  There is just me moving through space.

My mind is at ease.

My heart the hero you wish would save you. from

My spirit soars.

There is a path…somewhere there is a path that I will make and I will not so easily lose it this time.


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.