Reds, Oranges and Yellows

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The day before Thanksgiving.
The day before my whole life changed.

I’m pushing a full cart around Whole Foods in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’ve just finished a full day of rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, and am ready to fill my fridge for the holiday. I want to have everything prepared, and special.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year! Hot chocolate, family, fun and laughter!

And this year needs to be the same.  How could it be any other?

My cart is full of pistachios, spaghetti squash, candles, doubles of everything, for me and my husband.  I load up the food and watch it go down the conveyor belt, seeing each item, grabbing a special card, some mints…..do I have everything?

The price arises on the screen at the cashier and my eyes widen.  I’ve never spent this much before, but it’s worth it.

After filling the cab’s trunk with my endless paper bags, I enter my room and lovingly place each item in the kitchen.

I take the bag of pistachios and empty them into a bowl, placing it next to the new autumnal candles.

All is set…….
Indeed it was, but not for the scene I thought would play out.

 

It felt strange to arise on Thanksgiving Day without my husband, but he was flying in, so I made the annual cinnamon rolls, and watched the parade with my fellow cast members.

We can’t wait to meet your husband!

And I waited in anticipation.

Upon his arrival, I was giddy like a puppy.  I showed him all the food I had bought, the candles, and placed the bowl of pistachios in front of him.

Something was off….

And while we were talking, he ate handfuls of pistachios…forming a giant pile of shells on the table, while his suitcase stood unpacked against the wall.

We had a quick turnaround before heading to the company Thanksgiving dinner my director was hosting at her home.  My husband secluded himself in the TV room, and watched football.  This was very odd behavior.  He was also an actor and usually so social.

After dinner, the group all decided to make gingerbread houses, and create teams, having a fun contest.  He declined, saying he wanted to watch football.

As I formed the house with each piece, spreading icing and creating the foundation, I saw his face in the opposite room, the lights of the TV bouncing off a distant expression.

Why was I forming a home without him?
It may have been made of gingerbread and gumdrops, but a tightness that had been building in me for months was rising.

And soon we were heading back to my apartment, leaving the gingerbread house to my director’s daughter who had such a fun time creating it with me.

And upon entering, I was invited to sit down to hear the words that would change my life, on Thanksgiving.

 

I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore
I don’t think I love you anymore

But the fridge is full.
But I bought special candles.
But I got you a bowl full of pistachios.
But….we’ve been married for 14 years.
But……..we’ve been trying to have a family………

And the ground opened up, and all I knew of my life began to burn.

In a fire so bright, flickering like the vibrant leaves falling outside in reds, oranges and yellows.

On Thanksgiving Day.

 

Two months later, I was sitting, weeping in a spacious apartment in New York.  The walls were so white, and the January wind blew outside the glass windows as I huddled in heartbreak.  A friend had introduced me to the apartment’s owner, a writer, who opened her home and invited me in for tea and support.

She listened with compassion to my story and shared her own journey from a deep depression to forming a new life and finding love again. There was so much to take in, I asked if she had any paper I could write down her wisdom on.

She handed me two bright yellow sheets.

I wrote furiously in between my tears all she shared, specifically a tool that had brought her out of her darkness.

Gratitude.

Every day, write down what you are grateful for. Write down your victories.  If your greatest accomplishment was folding laundry, then celebrate.

And so it began.

At first it was a memo in my phone.
Then a writing pad.
Then a journal, and another.

Every day, before closing my eyes, I would reflect on what I was grateful for and celebrate.

And then I started to begin my day with gratitude, turning off my alarm and sitting upright in the darkness, saying out loud, simply,

I am grateful for sleep
I am grateful for this bed
I am grateful for this apartment

And so it began.

The healing.
Building a new life.
Forgiving myself.
Asking for help.

And then Creation, pouring out of me in my performance, in my artistry.  The chakra system, that had been a distant understanding before my divorce, now glowed brightly as I held my belly.  And the color of Creativity?  Orange.

And finding my voice that had been locked for so long, now flowing so freely again in my written word.

Finding my Creative purpose, launching a global business and community to empower artists to success.

Finding and forming a life I never imagined, one so much richer than before.

Finding you.  All on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

I look outside the window of my bedroom at my parents’ house.  There is a giant tree in the front yard, and the sunlight is reflecting off the autumnal leaves, in vibrant colors like fire.

Reds, oranges, and yellows.

The red of that day four years ago, the burning of what used to be, the panic and fear of my former life.  The yellow of those sheets and the wisdom of the writer’s compassion in January of 2013.

The orange of my internal fire, my Creative center glowing in all it’s bright Chakra light.

And the tool that ties it all, and was there even before….when I used to arise with hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls.

The heart of why we gather on this day.

The heart of what I feel for this path.

Gratitude.

It saved my life.

 

Today, I celebrate you, and the path that has led me to you, in all it’s vibrant colors.

Today, I ask…what are you grateful for?

Fire

Neck Grab Fire

Feet enter the studio space, bags thrown down, and shoes removed. Coats unzip, and as hands leave each sleeve, the arms emerge unencumbered by December chill, stretching in the open space, with fingers flexed.

We stand, all three, before the mirrored walls and window overlooking a darkened Eighth Avenue.

Our soles touch the wooden floor, from heel to arch, mapping out a pattern, leaving the smallest trace in the light dust from the traffic of the day.

At first only two feet move, the feet of the teacher, as we stand taking in the solo story, observing before translating to our own legs and breath. Then we move in unison, students of each other’s phrase, assimilating the simple questions:

If you had 32 counts to tell a story, what would you say?

How would you move?

What part would you tell?

 

The idea was born of a song, and a simple lyric,
“Don’t you know I breathe in Fire, breathe out Fire?”

I could feel constriction around my throat.  Something was stuck.

My feet hit neighborhood concrete last year, stepping in time to the infectious beat and simple ukelele strum of Merrill Garbus.  Though the subway entrance, with steps yawning open to the street stood in my field of vision, I saw only dancers telling a story before my eyes.

Each story was site specific, told from the room it occurred in, and all within a home.

What happened between us makes sense if I’m nothing.  You’re all if I am nothing at all.”

I saw the story for months, and then November winds began to blow. I wanted to create the piece before the ball dropped, so I reached out in specificity.

I asked the dancers two questions, and sat with my own answers.  I knew my story intimately, and chose the living room. The other two spoke from the bedroom and kitchen, and we came together, to learn what each gesture meant.

We formed a community, a trio of strength.  Tears fell and laughter rang. We grabbed shoulders, opened our wrists, and laid our heads, leaning gently before lifting in rhythmic time.

 

In the new year, once the holidays had passed, we clothed ourselves in red, and struck a match, so we could dance through the camera’s lens.

No longer apart, but moving as one, now it could be shared.  My hands grabbed for my throat, but felt only space.

“I am in bloom at the end of the world.”

Now, Share your Story.  You are not alone.

Trio Lean Fire

Smiling Incense Fire