“Sorry, I can’t come over. I’m writing!” I said to my sister over the phone.
I hung up. Well, I WILL be writing very SOON.
You can always tell when I have a deadline.
Mysterious bags of gluten free chips start to pop up in the strangest of places. Like that matters as I shovel an entire bag into my mouth in record time. It ain’t a “gluten free diet” my friends it is a “glutton free diet”!!!
The laundry is done, the house is organized and the floors have been vacuumed. Yes, I said it. The floors have been VACUUMED!
Sit-ups! I have to do my sit-ups.
Floss my teeth. I must!
Intermittent cloud cover hints at rain.
My garden! Who knows when I will get back to it? After all, I have a DEADLINE! I prune, water, trim, mow, edge, replant, repot, replenish the compost and fret over prolific mites that are decimating my bedding out plants. The battery in the mower needs recharging. I use the weed wacker to finish the job. I survey my sweet little “I should wash that filthy vinyl siding” house and force myself inside. The mosquitos make it an easy transition. Well the sun IS setting for crying out loud! My kids have promised treats from Peter’s Drive In as they leave to buy more potting soil for me before the store closes. I am doomed.
Netflix beckons as I snuggle under a comfy comforter in my bedroom. I binge watch a series I don’t care about but feel I must finish. I started it didn’t I? Fast-forwarding helps.
I pull up an empty document on my computer screen while still watching Netflix. Sure, Lana, that will work. Not.
The kids are back! Hot fudge sundae, delicious!!!
Now I am over heating under my comforter that WAS perfect BEFORE the sugar rush! I am sweating! I head for the couch. Guilt rises with the setting sun. It isn’t until the next day that I find something.
My dear friend Maggie Volke gave me a sticker that is on my filing cabinet where I see it every time I sit at my desk. It says, “Stand your ground, it’s sacred.” A new mindset swept through. “Sacred” is one of my favourite words. “Stand your ground” didn’t always make me popular but it defined me. I was “Ms.” when others told me it wasn’t necessary anymore. I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts when people told me not to bother and I became a solo act when theatres were closing down due to cut backs. I made my own way as an independent artist travelling abroad and earning my keep when just about everyone told me it was impossible. Children? You can’t be an artist and have children! I dared to have two, one in my 30s and one when I was 42. I was perpetually going against the flow.
CLAIM your space and VALUE it, Lana. When I reconsider the act of creating as “sacred”, writing is no longer a “have to”. The albatross vanishes and my spine straightens.
Last week I wrote reflections on “Standing tall” and I was asked to elaborate on what that meant to me as a performer.
When I sing something happens to me physically. My spine is redefined with strength and vitality. Many years ago I sang with a rock band for the School’s Out Picnic at Prince’s Island in Calgary. Thousands of kids showed up to hear local talent mixed with some headliner from elsewhere. I honestly can’t remember who it was but I did know there were kids paid to scream for him. Ah well…One of three singers, I had a small solo. All of a sudden my arms were outstretched, my legs solid and my voice came straight from my core. It was a far cry from my days singing at the United Church in Midale Saskatchewan! The confidence that had been born on the prairies became even more powerful as I accepted it. Music moves through me like an energy bolt. It completes me and the results are sheer surrender to the notes. Truly sacred I believe. It is like dancing with the Divine.
Acting was a different adventure. Stage fright crept into my life.
I recall a time when I was presenting at an Alberta Culture event to prospective clients at an arts convention. I was sitting backstage. How had I gone from that freedom before thousands to second guessing myself? Self-doubt is an ugly demon. I was so sick. I only had 12 minutes to perform part of a very complicated piece about a disabled girl in a wheelchair. I sat trying to collect myself and then something came into my head. Find some repetitive gestures and count on those gestures to see you through. Find a language and forget about who is watching. The light shone on me sitting in the chair. My spine lifted me up and my arms reached out. I could feel the audiences’ hearts opening. Emotionally triggered and trembling with the adrenalin rush I took my exit. “You’ve never done it that way before,” said my friend. “You found something.” I did and I was grateful. From that day forward I valued my intuition, savoured my physicality and enjoyed pauses.
There are moments where I am in the story. It cradles me and the words come out effortlessly from that place of trust rather than training. The gestures morph into my own physical repertoire that evolves with my curiosity. The training comes in when I have to memorize, maintain structure and keep focused. Those skills are invaluable and keep the quality consistent. Now whether I am singing or telling or both…the sacred line of energy is impenetrable and the commitment to my life’s work has provided deep roots of understanding.
Themes in my work echo my ethics. I listen carefully to what pulls me and let it speak to me. Acceptance, renewal and resilience are important to me as well as healing, laughter, equality and democracy. I want everyone to be welcomed when I perform. When you acknowledge THAT voice, there is a tremendous responsibility to stay true to it.
Would I have come to these memories if I had not had a great laugh at myself yesterday?
Time to call my sister. I just met my deadline! hahahaha