clean slate

clean slateHow does disrespecting someone build a relationship?

This was a question I was asking myself as I listened to someone tell a roomful of people that they don’t know anything about what they do.  For me, I immediately shut down, realizing that even if I should speak or try to have a discourse with them, they would not hear me.  The irony was that the purpose of the meeting was to learn about how to collaborate and build good working relationships.

Once I recognized that they just needed to feel like they had a voice and needed to be heard (not necessarily by me, but by what/who I represented-a wound from their past), I was able to let go and be silent.  However, does that give them the right to immediately through me into the same category as the other negative experiences they had?  And also disrespect me without even taking the time to get to know me?

All of this brings me back to the simple desire for us to be understood and empathize with one another.  Our world would be a much better place if we could all see things from more than one perspective.  How do we do this?  Listen.  But also share with respect and patience.  However, there are also times when one needs to be noisy and act with immediacy; this too needs to be done with respect and specificity.  Once we start throwing around generalities at a large majority, we will most likely not be heard.

So how can we share our wounds in a respectful way which does not negatively impact new and potential relationships?  How can we start each relationship with a clean slate?  We need to figure this out because our future depends on it.


blazing the trail

blazing the trail041614It’s exciting to meet women pioneers.  Today I met such a one.

This is a woman director who has blazed a trail.  When I asked her how difficult it has been for her, she very honestly admitted that it’s been hard.  That it has taken her much longer to get to this point in her career and it will take us longer as well.  She shared how she notices when theatres announce their seasons the lack of women directors and playwrights.  And she encourages us to make noise; to bring this to their attention.

How can they not see it?  The absence of those who make up 50% of the earth’s inhabitants?  Looking through a patriarchal lens most wouldn’t notice it.  That’s where it becomes our responsibility to “make noise” as she calls it.  Many women do not like that idea; making noise.  It’s contrary to how we’ve been trained as women and how patriarchal society has defined femininity.  But we are obviously not being heard, so how else does our voice receive attention if we do not raise it?

There also still exists a severe lack of colorblind casting as well which needs to be addressed.  This too was presented through the patriarchal lens as white speakers thought the theatre’s come a long way, but minorities clearly disagreed.  It’s sad when the theatre, which I believe is made to look at all perspectives and stories, chooses to only see it from one limited point of view.

Despite all of this, I am very encouraged.  This female director’s example is a beacon of light to me and the other people that I have met, mostly men, have shown their openness to collaborate with artists of any gender.  This experience is giving me hope for the future as current and upcoming artists are open to new works with new messages to help shape and change our society.  I can only hope that I too can play a small part in blazing this trail to equality.


looking past the difference

looking past the differenceAre we really all that different?

It’s amazing how similar circumstances and experiences can bring people together.  On this trip I have a roommate who I’ve never met.  She’s from a state on the east and I’m from the west.  There’s an age difference and we’ve been brought up in different households with varying dynamics.  And yet…

We are here for the same reason; we share the same passion-theatre art.  Through that we’ve discovered how much alike we are; in our personalities, interests and even behavior.  Had we not had this opportunity under these circumstances we would never had met.  And even if our paths would have crossed at some other time, who knows if we would have hit it off the way we have now.

That’s the thing about people.  We think that we are unable to relate to each other when the truth is that we have much more in common than we think; not even on a deep down level.  Everyone has a story that follows a basic foundational resemblance; we were all born, had some kind of initial upbringing by someone, struggle to find identity and a place where we belong and need friendship.  So why does it seem so easy to see all the differences?

Perhaps it’s because we tend to put up walls to protect ourselves from being judged by one another.  When in reality, if we would just drop our guard, I think we’d find that we can all get along in mutual respect.  Something that does hinder relationship is the power struggle; the capitalist, classist society which strives to categorize and departmentalize people. But we’re not a product and if we don’t stop labeling ourselves as such, we’re going to miss out on all the wonderful people and possibilities that are out there just waiting for us.

Like the one I’m having now with my roommate!  It’s a smaller world than we imagine if we see all that we share…


surrounded by stories

surrounded by storiesWe’re all surrounded by stories.

So many people.  So many places.  So much life everywhere.  I wish I could hear all of their stories.  Recently, my husband picked up the hobby of ham radio.  Right now he’s only listening in on people’s conversations because he doesn’t have his license yet.  He’s really enjoying it and frankly, I didn’t really understand the fascination until now.  It’s like being a fly on the wall, but all over the country.  In his case, he doesn’t ever see or meet the people; it’s strictly audible.  For me, actually traveling to a different location affords me the opportunity to experience with all senses.

What am I experiencing?  A different way of life.  A different culture.  Sitting in the lobby of the hotel I listen in on the staff’s playful banter and when they’ll take their next break.  I got to meet a man who lives in Virginia and has two children currently on spring break (he drove me in a taxi from the airport).  Along the way, I did some site seeing from the car; it was a perfect auto-tour including the Capitol, Washington monument and the cherry blossoms.  And lots of people visiting the same things.

In the airport waiting for my flight, I heard the life story of a Lebanese woman being told to a young man who was trying to pick her up.  While in line to get breakfast, I overheard a British couple discussing the world dominance of Starbucks. I caught the receptionist picking on the concierge for being so sweet for getting me a bottle of water.  He also took the time to point out the restroom once I’m finished with the water.

It’s the little human connections that make it all worth it; not shutting out the world but inviting it to show you its many possibilities.  I’m thankful to have this opportunity to play a small role in the life stories of others across the country.


an amazing ride

an amazing rideHow did I get here?

Here I am, waiting in LAX airport to fly to Washington, D.C. for an arts festival at the Kennedy Center.  Did I mention I’m waiting, alone?  Ten years ago I would never have imagined I would be here.  Not only here, here at LAX airport which seemed like a million miles and a lifetime away, but living a life in California.  And on top of that, traveling alone.  I know for many this is not a big deal; in fact it is an everyday occurrence.  But for me, it’s miles and years away from who and where I used to be.

It’s not that I was necessarily discouraged to be independent, but it was much easier as a woman in the small town I grew up in to be dependent.  So I easily fell into this pattern once I got married right out of high school.  Though I looked at the world outside my tiny circle and existence with longing, it never seemed to be a possible reality.  Places like L.A., San Diego and even D.C. seemed like places in stories I’d only heard or seen on TV.  For someone who, at the time, feared driving 65 mph on a three lane highway, those big cities weren’t even close to being on my horizon because I literally couldn’t get past my own city limits.

Then something happened.  Thankfully, yet painfully, my longing for another life grew stronger than my fears and I started pushing past them.  My life literally and figuratively expanded from a three lane to an eight lane freeway (ironic that they’re called freeways).  The thrill of the ride far outweighed the fears that I continued to face and conquer one at a time.  However, through much of it, I had my partner at my side.  This still gave me that added security and at times, I fell back into my dependent ways.

But here I am now.  Alone.  Not really alone.  I don’t believe anyone is ever really alone.  I mean I’m at an airport surrounded by people and all I need to do is reach out.  We isolate ourselves; when really we can take a step in any direction we want and run into someone.  And my steps have led me here…

It’s been an amazing ride.  And soon I’ll be taking another one!


living in fear of man

living in fear of manWhen will women stop living in fear?

It’s a simple, ordinary day.  We’re finally getting the leaky faucet fixed in out bathroom.  Though we told our landlord that originally my husband was going to be home to meet the plumber, it worked out the opposite.  No big deal, right?  But in the back of both my husband and my mind is the slight concern because a stranger will be in the house, most likely a man, alone with me.  If it were my husband, no problem, but because I’m a woman, there’s a fear.

I used to not worry about any of that when we had our dog Sam.  Now all of a sudden, without my added protection, I feel threatened.  I shouldn’t, but based on how society has trained women, we need to be the ones to look out for ourselves.  It’s not the perpetrators that should be afraid of being caught, they have the power.  We don’t spend time teaching the men of our society not to harm or cause women to live in fear of them.  Instead, my husband tells me to leave all the windows open in case I need to call out for help.

When I answered the door and my landlord was most obviously quite surprised.  In fact, he said, “Oh, I didn’t think you would be here.  I thought it was just going to be your husband.”  As a result, he ended up staying the entire time that the plumber was there.  I appreciated the sentiment, but at the same time it was infuriating for me.  I’m an independent woman and can take care of myself; I don’t need a man to take responsibility for me.  But that is not living in our current reality.  The reality is that women take a risk when a strange man or even not so strange man enters her home.  I realize that anyone of any sex or gender takes a risk when spending time with a stranger, but the history shows that women are the primary victims of men.

So when will it be safe?  Is this fair?  Is this equality?  Will we ever have equality if women have to keep living in fear?



feeling too much

feeling too muchCan you feel too much?

Is there a point where you can feel so much that you just have to shut it off or down?  You’re so overwhelmed by an emotion that it defies all logic and even blocks out the truth sometimes.  But sometimes it’s the truth of a reality that we want to block out, so perhaps feeling is a defense mechanism.

I’ve been taught that we should always be in control of our feelings.  That it isn’t healthy to allow emotion to lead or sway us; one must come back to “reason.”  However, there are so many people who also say to follow your heart.  What does that really mean?  Is following the heart really a sentimental say to trust your feelings?  And if so, isn’t that contrary to being in control?

There are times where I know the truth and my brain is shouting it out but my heart refuses to hear it.  Instead, I start feeling a heaviness and longing which fills my body with a white noise, preventing me from hearing anything the rest of my body has to say.  At times I can choose not to act on the emotion or release it, but others times I open my mouth and a bunch of stuff spills out in a way which usually has no previous thought behind it.

So where’s the balance?  How do we follow our hearts logically?  Is that even possible?  Will we forever face the battle of logic vs. emotion within ourselves and society?  Neither way is wrong or better; they both live inside each one of us, some just sway to one side more than another.  But how can we value that in each other and ourselves whatever way we swing; letting ourselves feel too much if we need to?


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