30 Minutes Before the Ball Dropped

2017-selfie

What words would you use to describe me in this picture?

Festive
Happy
Joyful
Energetic
Funny
Silly

All true.  My family and I got dressed up and went for an incredible dinner in Soho, enjoying an amazing meal, taking lots of pictures, and feeling celebratory.

All true, and an hour after this photo was taken, I was doubled over on the bathroom floor, horribly sick.

30 minutes before the Ball Dropped.

I came out of the bathroom, shaking and holding a full trash bag, and told my family I had just thrown up, and then I started to really plummet.

I did see the ball drop.  I was standing, not even able to take a sip of water and all my body was screaming was,

I want to be home.

My family was staying at a close friend’s who lives two blocks from my apartment, and the TV was so loud, I could feel this was just the beginning, and I put on my coat and boots and was just about to hug my father goodbye…..

And then my body fully took over.

And I didn’t leave that night.  Thank goodness I was with family, because things got very intense.

Hello 2017.

 

There are few celebrations that are global, that are felt by billions at the same time, and New Year’s Eve is one of them.  With so many different beliefs in the world, the ritual of a new year is pretty universal.

How do you celebrate your New Year’s?
What goes through your head as the ball drops?

We can feel everything from excitement to anxiety, but the glimmer of that ball, or the glow of the fireworks usually brings a very strong message to us all.

Hope.

Hope for a new tomorrow
Hope for a new opportunity
Hope for a new year full of all we desire
Hope to truly make a difference with our work

So, how do you take all of this in while you are flushing the toilet, too weak to stand?

With all the expectation, what does it mean?
I think the real question is, what are we CHOOSING it to mean?

 

This past week has been one of recovery, and staying home.  I ended up clearing my calendar and staying in to heal and sleep.

It’s been ups and downs, and my mother stayed an extra day to make me magical electrolyte elixirs, soup, and get food in for me.  Having her here an extra day was a lifesaver.

And being home, with low energy, actually allowed me the space to do a few things I had been really wanting to do.

Clearing out old papers in my office
Clearing out and donating cds to the library
Clearing out clothes in my closet
Clearing out my night stand

Do you see a theme here?

It seems this was my journey for coming into 2017.

What is yours?

I went through my own anxiety over having to postpone meetings and several things I had originally planned to do this week, but I knew I needed to heal, and the real question became

What is the gift here?

When I think of how I want to come into 2017, it’s CLEAR.  I want to have space and clarity so I can show up.  I want to be present here for you, for my life and Creativity.

And when I look around at my home now…..my office….I feel something very powerful,

Inspiration.

It would have been very easy for me to spiral with the flu, to believe that how I spent my first moments were a “sign” that my year was doomed.  Instead, I made another choice.

And you have that ability in any moment, at any time.

As you face 2017, it’s not about what will happen TO you, it’s always going to come down to HOW you handle it, and what you decide to make it MEAN.

Your point of power is always in the present moment and sets you up.  Very often, I have heard that what you are experiencing now is a result of the past three months. And I know that is why I was able to clear out this week and open to Inspiration and Hope.

So, what do you want your 2017 to mean for your Creativity?
What are you choosing for yourself?

Look for the gift. It’s always present.

Back to School

Freshman Dorm

One room: two beds, two desks, two closets, two large squares of cork board covered with colorful squares and smiles, tacked in place by plastic push pins. By the window, the ultimate convenience invention: the microfridge.

Plastic crates are stacked under the desk and by the microfridge, holding notebooks, pens, pencils, textbooks, and Hot Pockets.

Somehow, within a few square feet, I have squeezed my high school bedroom into this new shared space.

I’m looking out the window, overlooking the quad, seeing the families unloading their minivans; daughters and sons carrying their laundry bags and Doc Martens.

East Halls, Penn State University, my new dorm.

Freshman year.

My parents drive away and I walk to the dining hall with my roommate and friend across the hall, and it begins to sink in.

I’m here.  I made it.

 

I was the first class of the Musical Theatre BFA at Penn State University.  They called us the “guinea pigs” because every semester they were trying out curriculum on us, and our feedback was the deciding factor on keeping the course as it was, or adjusting it to better serve the program and the following year’s students.

This made for a very adventurous experience, and also our input was deeply appreciated.  Our successes and challenges were not only important for our personal artistic growth and craft, but for the development of the program as a whole.  We were the sounding boards.

My time at Penn State was rich and full.  I graduated with top-notch skills in my dance, acting, and singing.  I had a book full of audition songs, a well written resume, and professional headshots.  I had choreographed extensively during my time on campus, both locally and professionally, and enjoyed football games, deep friendships, and love.

I had the tee-shirt, the hat, and the Nittany Lion Roar, “We are PENN STATE!”

I was blue and white proud, and ready for my career, marriage, and post-collegiate life to begin.

Look out NYC…..

 

I returned to Happy Valley in 2001, three years after I graduated, to choreograph Pennsylvania Centre Stage’s summer production of Little Shop of Horrors, and loved being back in the theatre building, and a part of the arts scene there.  Campus hadn’t changed much since my graduation, and I knew a lot of the cast members.

And then a long time passed, a lifetime.

I didn’t return until the fall of 2013 and the surroundings had deeply shifted.

The HUB, or center building on campus had expanded out immensely, undergoing renovation and add-ons.  The building was new, enormous, and offered tons of dining choices, more space for students, and a larger main bookstore.

Streets that used to go though the middle of campus were now just walk-ways to accommodate the growing student body, and I lost track of all the new buildings rising from the once barren grasses.  The actual scope of the campus had enlarged, taking over a golf course, and fields.

I had rented a car to visit the campus, and drove on new roads.

There was so much that had been added, and as I drove all I felt was loss.

I was driving alone now, where for 15 years I had navigated from the passenger side of my marriage, changing the radio and enjoying companionship.

That companionship had begun here, within the blue and white cheers, and theatre parties.  Here I had fallen in love.

I had come into town to see my mentor’s one-woman show and dreamt that night of a massive flood, the waters washing me away.  I was held by a guardian angel and friend who wiped my tears, but I wondered when or if I would ever return.

There was so much change to process. Everything was so new.

 

Last week, I was camping with my parents and brother’s family at Little Pine State Park, over an hour outside of Penn State.  My brother and sister in law also grabbed their cap and gown in Happy Valley, so we planned a day trip to re-visit.

The morning of, I could feel the memory of my last visit forming a knot in my heart, so over breakfast, I looked at my mother and said,

“I’m scared to go back to campus today, and may need your support.”

She grabbed my hand and we both began to cry, as she reassured me she was there for me and always has been.

Just saying the words out loud released the tight ball, and in giving permission to feel it all, I exhaled and scooped a forkful of homemade quiche into my mouth.

Maybe I was going to be ok.
Maybe this visit would be different.

There had been heavy downpour that morning, and as we drove to campus, my parents windshield wipers worked feverishly back and forth to clear my father’s sight.  In the back seat, my mother and I laughed over emails and Facebook posts.

We parked in the Creamery Parking garage, and made our way in under umbrellas to partake in a college tradition:

Ice Cream.

Celebrating it’s 150th anniversary this year, the Penn State Berkey Creamery housed our family as we licked our spoons around the white circular table.  I didn’t even consider another choice, and eagerly asked the server to scoop my favorite into the cup, Bittersweet Mint.

Outside, new students were moving into East Halls.  Families were helping their sons and daughters carry their belongings and laundry bags into the stone and brick buildings.  Convocation was in two days, and the parking lots were full with suitcases and bins.

Much like years ago.

East Halls stood exactly the same, the same square lines and buildings.  What changed was who was entering them.

I savored each mouthful, remembering countless times I would buy ice cream after tap class or after rehearsal, and always the same flavor:  Bittersweet.

 

We left and the skies cleared, as our feet stepped through puddles on the concrete. We closed our umbrellas and began to see blue peeking through the dark clouds above.

In the clearing we took fun pictures on the Nittany Lion statue.
In the clearing we reminisced stories looking at our classroom buildings.
In the clearing I was able to visit with a friend who is now a professor, and hug that guardian angel who held me so tight two years ago.
In the clearing we went to the bookstore and I bought a new hat and long sleeve tee.

The clouds returned again, and rain poured down the slanted sidewalks towards the traffic lights on College Avenue.

I looked around at the students, the teachers, all preparing for a new school year and all the lessons ahead, and I felt the rain soak my skin.

I’m here.  I made it.

Back to School.

Kissing Nittany