My dear friends...
It's finally FALL. *Sigh of relief and excitement.*
If you, like me, feel somehow more alive at this time of year, I know you share that sigh with me.
It's like the wind rustling through the ever-so-slightly-changing leaves is calling, "Welcome, come on in and rest."
How do you answer the invitation to rest?
September was a month with something filling our calendar
They were good things - personal things, work things, things for people...but A LOT of things. Can you relate?
I had to be SUPER intentional this month to keep my head above water, and all-in-all, I'm glad to report...I actually did OK. (Thank God.) I didn't knock it out of the park, but I've had fun; I've had some space to breathe in the middle of some good chaos, and I don't feel completely and utterly depleted or dead-to-the-world. I suppose that's a win. (Baby steps, ya'll...)
So, I wanted to share with you about some of the cool things that have been happening from the perspective of where in the crazy I feel like God has shown up to offer me some rest or perspective. I hope that this list is an encouragement to you to see space in whatever your crazy is currently.
Don't have time to read? Here's the bullet list:
Alternate Creative Outlets
New Teachers and People
Affirmation (Film Fest!)
Hangin' in for the goodies? Here we go!
That Chick-fil-A piece I shared about (which turned out to be an internal vid, not a big commercial like I thought- sorry- won't have any footage to share with you, but you can see pics here) involved two trips back and forth to ATL. Long car drives in nice weather (thankfully) help me a lot to pray without distraction, to sort out feelings, to sing, to let my spirit catch up to my body, I guess. Now, I don't want to drive to ATL every week, but I'm reminded a good solo trip now and then is worth the gas money, for sure.
So anyone familiar with The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron will know where I'm going with this. The concept is that we need time to nurture our inner creative - to go explore nature or shops to get our imagination going.
This month, this time came for me while T.J. was on a work trip, and I found myself with a solo weekend.
I thought about paying to stay at a retreat center or get out somewhere to hike, but we'd been traveling a lot, so I decided to stay in. I ate leftovers and barely washed dishes, binged a documentary called The Last Movie Stars about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (really well done; I recommend it!), created costume sketches for a musical about monsters, and formulated story and character ideas for a Christmas video collaboration any BEMA listeners out there will be really excited about! (Scroll down for more!) I stayed up too late because my brain couldn't stop creating, ate popcorn, and slept on the pull out couch.
I think I even did my nails... *gasp.*
Late night artist nights aren't a sustainable lifestyle for me by any means, but very fun and fulfilling for a weekend. It felt truly like both play and rest.
Alternate Creative Outlets
I haven't costumed a show in over three years because I burnt myself out on it prior to the pandemic.
Design is one of those skills that I have but haven't chosen to cultivate at the highest level. It's not so much a back-up plan, but more a 'when I have opportunity it's fun for me' thing, and it's been a convenient way to offer services to the theatre community while continuing to get to know people.
So, after the long break, I was genuinely happy to accept another costuming job for Nashville's Street Theatre production of rock musical, Monster Songs. I've gotten to meet a handful of new people, and the thrift store run madness that has filled every day for two weeks has, I admit, been pretty fun.
The thrill of finding gems hiding in racks and racks of unwanted clothing and the somewhat tedious process of mixing and matching them on my basement floor has taught me something about myself- that I like puzzles and working in limitations in order to see a cohesive whole arise from scattered pieces.
Who'd have thunk you learn such things about yourself at Goodwill?
New teachers and new people
September was also a month of welcoming in new opportunities to continue growing as an artist.
I signed up for a new acting class with a great teacher, had coffee with an actress who generously offered advice and resources, have continued to meet with an acting accountability group I met through a networking class, and (on the personal front) have enjoyed many dinners with growing friends.
Acting class is such a wonderfully vulnerable space.
If you want to grow as a person, in accessing your feelings and your patterns- sign up for one! Outside of the church I've been privileged to be a part of, it's probably one of the safest spaces I've ever experienced. As a former theatre teacher used to say, "There's a fine line between theatre and therapy," and I feel like I've been getting some of both. :) (I could write many more posts here on what God has been teaching me through acting class....but we'll save that for later.)
You never know what someone may offer you - a perspective you didn't have, a question or comment that will help you see yourself more clearly, or an invitation to receive something good from gifts they have that you may not be used to receiving. It's been both humbling and exciting to welcome new voices into my life.
I believe most of you know that I submitted Pierced and Perfected to a few film festivals and traveled to the Great Lakes Christian Film Festival where it was nominated in three categories. The trip turned out to be a great one: more new people, inspiration, good conversations...
And yes, gotta admit, it also feels really good to be acknowledged for your hard work by people who get how hard it can be to work in this field. The sincere comments, feedback, and questions I received from others over this festival week meant a lot. And it's encouraging to bring home wins, too! See pics here.
Safe Old People
Affirmation has also come in the form of being reminded what good friendship looks like.
I'm grateful to have a few friends, some of them who have been around or in my life for many years, who have really shown me lately that they honestly care about me and not just because I initiate with or serve them. They've wanted to listen, they've asked good questions, they've given affection. In doing so, they've reminded me of how God cares for us. This may sound really basic, but it's been a huge discovery for me that many of my friendships throughout my life have NOT been like this, so when there are good ones...they feel REALLY good. Like a sigh of relief. Accompanied by lots of happy tears.
Happy tears also happened when we traveled to Wilmington, NC this month to visit the church I moved there to help start 10 YEARS AGO...phew! Seeing faces of dear old friends and hearing stories of what's happened since, seeing children grow up, hearing the ups and downs of time, and giving lots and lots of hugs was just so SPECIAL.
While among them, I felt a sense of reassurance that despite the disappointments and unexpected turns that inevitably come with any endeavor (there were ways in which I felt I was a failure while living there), the seeds you plant will grow. Work is not in vain, especially when that work is done in love. For me there's a deep sense of rest in the realization that the seed doesn't rely on me to grow.
I hope these thoughts are helpful. And I hope you can hear and accept any invitations to find rest as we enter the best month of the year! (Yeah, it's my bday month...I'm biased. 😉)
What's up next?
Back to those BEMA listeners...
I'm excited to announce that I'll be created a short film for Youtube that will be released as a collab between myself and Marty Solomon. It will be an adaptation of the late theologian and author Frederick Buechner's Christmas piece, "The Birth," featuring his take on the shepherd, innkeeper, and wiseman.
Mine will be a modernized adaptation, where I'll play each character and incorporate aspects of social media into the final presentation of the film. From the filming to editing, this will occupy most of my time from here to the holidays, so I'd appreciate prayers for the process!
With love and wishes for all the wonderful fall things!