If I were to go back to July 31 and give myself some advice for this month, it would this: Secure your seat belt. You're about to have some thrilling highs and some disorienting lows. You're going to cry a lot and you're going to be really tired. But it's going to be good for you, and you're going to learn 8 things...
1. When the world is on fire, we need moments of celebration.
Therefore, I'm taking up some space here to share with you that we are grateful that we're getting a house here in Nashville - and sooner than we expected we'd be able.
We're excited, but let's be honest, we're also stressed by the long list of to-dos that comes along with this new step into adulthood. Thank you to my friends who have reminded me to stop and take moments to be grateful and happy about it, even against the backdrop of craziness near and far.
2. I am not a machine. I need to rest.
House hunting and that list of to-dos has been deceptively fun, enticing me to stay up past bed time, pressuring me into thinking I must burn the candle at both ends to make up for the tasks T.J. can't do presently because of a crazy work schedule (Please join us in praying for a new job for him!) as if, by my efforts:
the house will be perfect,
I'll still put out quality creative work,
keep becoming a loving and educated anti-racist,
and be able to fully show up in all my relationships.
Yep, go ahead and laugh.
This is why God crated the Sabbath for his people- to remind them that they were not saved by their efforts but by his gracious provision, strength, and compassion. He commanded them to deny their instincts by not working for one day out of the week, certainly a big challenge for people accustomed to being enslaved. Welp- I too am enslaved by the pressures of the world, and I too need to remember that God views me with compassion and extends an invitation of rest.
So, come tomorrow- I'm fighting for bed time, you guys. Please hold me to it!
3. Listen to how those who love you measure your success.
Emotional breakdowns #1 and #2 this month revolved around how I view my career and value as an artist. Looking back at 2019 I only did two shows of my own, so I found myself feeling like a failure, wondering if I should explore pivoting into a different path as many others are doing due to the events of this year.
Turns out, after talking with a few people who love me and see my choices in 2019 differently...
(Ladies, 4. Find a man who listens and be brave to tell him what you need. T.J.'s care for me recently has been a reflection of God's patience and kindness.)
...I now can better understand that:
5. The artist life is a long-game, and that's ok.
My review mirror is not as accurate as that of those around me. I had forgotten how many years it took to get Last Nights of the King to a polished, tour-able condition. I've added two Mary shows to the repertoire, and in 2019 I made relationships within the Nashville theatre community. I know this time has not been wasted, and that it's unfair to judge it as less valuable just because it doesn't result in money coming in presently. Relationships are the best investments, and therefore...
6. Collaborations are life - giving.
3 creative collaborations are keeping spirits up right now.
You already know about the musical project, 12, but now I'm happy to tell you about another musical I'm writing on with friend and director Jay Shannon: Elena: The Dawn of Women's Equality, based off the life of Elena Piscopia, the first woman to get her doctorate. The third project I'll hold off on announcing for now... We'll let the suspense build. :)
In a time of isolation and little theatre, these creative connections are keeping me sane and helping me feel seen as an artist. I thank God for them.
7. Show frequency + $$$ does NOT = my value.
I will keep creating, building up a body of work, and trusting that God will provide the opportunities, that he'll keep helping me see how I need to grow, and daily keep reminding me how loved I am. And he really is doing this. Daily I'm seeing that:
8. Compassion is at a premium right now.
I've got some special friends I've fought in trenches with over these last 4.5 years taking vastly different paths in the middle of heart-breaking situations (breakdown #3, if you were wondering). 2020 is intense and so deeply challenging- for everyone. The trenches are dirty and the wounds are visceral, but I am hopeful for these friends, even if the roads are long. Compassion goes a long way - they need it, I need it- the world needs it.
Did you know the Hebrew word for compassion is deeply connected to the word for the mother's womb? If you'd like to learn more about how this word is used to describe the character of God, I highly recommend checking out the Bible Project's latest podcast series on the character of God, specifically this episode on compassion. If you've ever questioned how God could be kind and just if he's also wrathful - or if he even is these things, this series is the one for you.
And that's where I'll wrap this update for now, despite so many other things to share.
Thoughts or questions?
What has August 2020 held for you?
I'd love to hear from you in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.