Sunday, April 12, 2015

Alaska Adventures With Mama Henry and Fierce Koala (Day 27~Year 27: 30 to 30)

Of all the amazing things I got to see while working on the Boat one of my all time favorites was seeing my Mom on the dock in Sitka. Since I was little she'd talked about Alaska and I'd always wanted to take her somehow. You get a free trip on any expedition when you've fulfilled a 6 month contract and things lined up for my Mom to come the last week I was on a fill in in Alaska. It's still hard for me to believe that this happened. It was  a bit Ridiculous. And lovely. However it worked out I'm so thankful it did. I'm also grateful to my brother Sam who after I called Mom (from my first visit in Cleveland actually!) to propose the actual plan talked some sense into her when she was tottering.
 The whole day my Mom was traveling I was worrying about her flight transfers and Would She Make It. I'd never seen her fly and didn't know til then that she was fine with it. I've learned a Whole Lot the past few years about things I thought my Mom didn't like when actually she does, things are just different when you're watching kiddos versus not watching kiddos. Example~I thought she didn't like cities. And I was wrong.) It's kind of cool getting to know your parents as an adult.
 I also called Moma couple of days before to discuss definitions of "Cold".
 "No really, I know you love love love the cold, but really Mom, it's C o l d. It's boat cold. It's cold. Please bring actually warm clothes. Please."
"Mom. Like not cotton. Bring synthetic stuff."

 When they brought in her luggage the Expedition Specialist came to me looking worried.
"Did we lose your Mom's luggage?"
[ Dry and with slight eye roll ]"No. That IS her luggage."
 "It's just a carry on."
 "Where are her boots?"
 "She's wearing them."
 The ES's worry turned to admiration "I wish I could pack like that!"
Yes. Excepting for the part where the "boat cold" wasn't believed. The rest of the week I chased her like a Mother duck (ironic, yes.) trying to bundle her up with extra coats and thermal things.

 It was so great to have her there and I had a day off to spend with her too. We went out for a hike and on a raft ride to see bald eagles and mountains and trees and sea lions. Then we came back for lunch and were both so freaking worn out that we lay in bed and I was trying with forced gusto to get her to go kayaking but I was too tired to fight while she lay on the other side of the bed saying,
 "Yeah. Yeah. We can do that. We can do whatever you want." in voice that was clearly falling totally asleep and not about to get into a kayak.
 We did kayak at some point. We got ice cream in Petersburg, met new people, had slumber parties in her room, went to Glacier Bay and saw calving glaciers, and the last day of the trip we watched a bunch of humpbacks bubble net fishing at dinner time. And it was the last week of my fill in so we got to stay in the hotel together and have a girls night and then fly back to WV with a Scotch toast to a grand adventure. An adventure with my Mama.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Stella (Day 26 ~Year 26:30 to 30)

Part of the point of working on the boat at all was to save money to either be able to establish in a city

type place and start auditioning and looking for acting gigs or to get more refined training as a performer. Which is how I got to Stella Adler in NYC. On the one hand I didn't plan or budget nearly well enough to last very long there. On the other, I went because I felt like I was supposed to and employment doors to stay (not of the performance variety either. Just of the rent paying, grocery buying, air breathing sort.) didn't open. Even before going I knew NY wasn't quite my cuppa and honestly I was terrified at first. Which I never told my Mother til later on account of her being terrified that I was going. So I was like "S'no biggie! It's fine Mama." while I was stress dreaming the week before I went for a visit trip to scout places to live.
 But that changed and if nothing else it was kind of great to learn that much in my very brief time there. And it changed quickly. I was fine. And learning that I could do the subway systems and even help other people with them, that felt pretty awesome. 
 I will say that any patience I had remaining from working in customer service for 6 months straight on the boat (mine had been squelched out sadly) probably left while I was there. And not with New Yorkers~ suddenly I understood where they get their not deserved and actually I don't think even nowadays as much attributed reputation: when you're trying to get to work and tourists are taking up the ENTIRE both sides of the sidewalk, or simply not walking, or stopping on an escalator....yes, like I said, I was once a patient person. She seems to have left the building.
 So when I talk about this super short period of time there is a sense of "fail" as clearly I didn't finish up. But I wish I could discard that because I truly enjoyed the time I did have at Stella, I got some good out of it & some encouragement, met some lovely & talented people, and it's just fun to have gotten to study my craft in the heart of The City at all. And also I met again with the fact that while I love, love, to perform and am told I'm actually good at it, that maybe I don't have the drive to do it for a living. It's always been a doubt and New York brought it in clearer. A part of my heart still falters there feeling like maybe I take the easy or practical way out and don't steward my talents well but...I just don't know.
 The fact that I have an actual bank of New York moments makes me smile. Moving to the city at the same time Bonnie and Alex did and actually getting to see them made me glad. Central Park, Stella Adler, friends I made, old friends I visited (and who showed me such kindness! Milena, I mean you lady.). And it's so funny that while I'm glad to not be living there every once in a while I'll just MISS New York. When my Mom started watching Ugly Betty I watched some too and it's so very New York and suddenly I missed really random stuff like cheap cups of coffee with the little greek statue men printed on them.
 I do NOT miss working at Macy's although it's again fun to be able to say I worked in The Macy's, like the biggest store in the world Macy's. 
 Also New York probably helped me see some of what I did want. To have the contrast of Cleveland right after New York was good. I am a relational person and New York is not so much a relational city. People don't so much have one another to their homes because space is small and limited and so is time. Not so in CLE. And it's not as scrunchy.
 Touching back briefly on that sense of fail though and on this chapter of my life, the boat and New York are where some things started unhappily shifting for me I think. It was really good these last couple of days to write and remember over AmeriCorps & YWAM & Belhaven & CPAF, looking over 'rocks of remembrance' of God's good provision and leading in my life and as His follower and a performing artist. My time on the boat, while it has many good aspects, and while I believe God can use and does use that experience in my life, was a really difficult one spiritually. We aren't meant to go it alone, our walk is not only personal but meant to be lived out in a corporate context, within a body of believers who are the church. And so I still feel the repercussions of a season very much out of that. There were people I specifically asked to check in, to pray, to keep me accountable, and that was great and to them I'm grateful. But it isn't the same and while I'm so glad for having seen whales, kayaking in Alaska, the magic of Baja, so much....there's a part of me too that isn't so certain it was wise.
 And then there was post NY and Stella. I'd really felt I was supposed to go and so after it didn't work out (which again, I do believe was in part poor planning.) there was a bit of a before unknown to me raw spot in my relationship with God. I'd certainly gone to Him with things I didn't understand, things that made me sad, things with which I wrestled, but I think this was the first time that I felt...almost angry. Bitter. 
 I felt He'd called me to go....and now what? I felt that it had been over and over shown to me that this is where my giftings were, in acting, and shown to me by other people. people who actually knew their stuff, not my own self. Moving to New York scared me but I went. And it didn't work. That was really hard and I didn't understand. Somewhere I knew that the Lord's purpose in me going to New York could easily be completely not what I'd thought or expected at all. But not knowing what to do with what I was good at, not knowing why this door opened and closed, feeling I'd been led and not seeing the purpose~it was hard and it hurt. 
 This post is supposed to lead into Cleveland though I think now I'll divide 26 & 27 but I want to bring it in for a moment. When I moved to Cleveland I was looking for A Place To Be that included a good church and a community. And I found that in Cleveland, and in community here I could & can be honest about these things. I'm not judged because we each know our hearts are broken, our natures bent, and when I share, something may resonate with someone else, when they share, something may resonate with me, and in the sharing we can, from our different spot in the story, remind one another of what is True.
 . I still don't know all of the Lord's purposes in New York or any of that. I can still get a little sad over it, but I'm no longer bitter over it. It's sore sometimes, but I can trust that He works all things together for His glory which in His grace He wondrously has tied up with my good.
 And I can see this even in how I got to Cleveland. I moved for entirely other reasons than how I stayed. I moved for a relationship, and it didn't last, and it took me a while (though clearly less time then the NY puzzle) to see "Oh. That was to get me to Cleveland." :) 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Boat (Day 25~Year 25:30 to 30)

When I was 25 the year started looking like I was going to have one kind of adventure. And then that changed. Which was very good. But then I wanted to Do Something. Since before my adventures began I'd learned about Lindblad Expeditions and thought that could be really fun to do one day. In AmeriCorps I learned that my team mate & now friend Jordan knew about them too and his brother (who now I know too!) worked for them. Jordan said he'd wanted to work with them as well. And one day he did. And then he would start to write me about whales or when I'd see him at reunions he'd say "You should come work on the boat Feet."

And so.
It was time.

I was in Indiana after a MasterWorks festival when I got the email with my itinerary and I didn't even know what to do with myself. I was going to Alaska. Alaska. I hadn't expected it and I was excited. And from there I'd go to Oregon and Washington for fall on the rivers. And then (what the what was Shipyard? Oh boy, I'd learn.) a month or so in California, and finally Baja California, what I didn't yet know is one of the most magical places I've ever been and I dare say on earth. It was positively ridiculous, and wonderful, that my itinerary included every place that my particular boat~ The SeaBird~goes. 

So yeah. I worked on a boat. It was pretty cool. Sometimes I hated it. Sometimes it was ridiculously awesome. Definitely it provided me incredible opportunities I'd never have been able to do otherwise. And definitely I've written lots about it here in previous posts and I am pretty stupid tired tonight so that's about all I'm gonna say on it for now. 

CPAF/Lake Lodge Girls (Day 24 ~Year 24: 30 to 30)

 "The Lord is good to me, And so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseed, the Lord is good to me."
 While this little song naturally brings to mind the Disney cartoon of Johnny Appleseed from where it originates, it also instantly reminds me of Mary Jeane Kraft & a prayer time at CPAF. Every morning before work we'd pray together as staff and interns and one morning MaryJeane's prayer was this song. I don't remember what we were praying over but I remember this being so apt . It feels apt now too both as I start to write about CPAF and as I wish I had more time to spend on these late posts but that being because of gratefulness for the richness of people and places and times that God has placed in my life.

 At CPAF I was an intern with 3 other girls and we lived in a lake house and worked at the office. For the first half of my time there I missed Jackson a ridiculous lot. I missed theatre. I missed my group of friends and community. I knew that I was where I was supposed to be, the Lord had given me a peace not my own about coming, and while I knew I had much to be grateful about it was all in my head but not in my heart. And then one day that changed. My Belhaven friends had come to visit me on their break which was pretty amazing and I remember Meg basically saying to me that I needed to be grateful for the gorgeousness I was surrounded by, that I didn't have to be stuck in concrete. And I remember having a quiet time with God and basically saying that if my sadness sent me to Him then that was good. And something shifted. All the thankfulness I knew I Should be, got sent to my actual heart and I FELT grateful. It was lovely. And from there, my darling crazy chicken Hungarian sister (don't ask, I don't really have an explanation, it's just what we call each other) and I decided to create a show. We were the only two actresses in the office (Christi was there at first but then she had a wedding in our house and moved away leaving us surrounded by classical musicians. ) and there were precious few theatre opporunities in our immediate Indiana area. So we decided we needed to create one. And we did. We set aside rehearsal time at our house each night and we crafted a show out of what was on our hearts. Which for me was contentment. So Greener Grass was born. And what a blessing to go into a rehearsal space, (sometimes not really wanting to rehearse) in our own house (by the freaking lake may I restate.), pray over the rehearsal and give it to God, and then do the work.
 Beyond this, that year was another excellent time of growing both artistically and spiritually. Living with Annaka, and Krisz and Julie and working with a wonderful staff of artists (and Cyd! Cyd who kept us sane and on track and listened to us cry. She was the office manager and while Krisz and I may have been a minority as actresses among musicians, Cyd was a counselor surrounded in general by performing artists.) truly makes me say~ " The Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord...."After Christy and Barry's wedding at the Lake house Christi's brothers mentioned the benefit of sharing meals together (actually they said snarkily when they learned that though we lived together we didn't do this. "Oh well I guess there is no benefit to living in community." heh. It was effective.Also that was a great day. A wedding in our house in the morning and sledding with the guys followed by dinner thanks to Krisz and a random viewing of Back to the Future.) we took to it and traded off making dinner 4 nights a week. This simple shift changed our relationships with each other, which though we were simply 4 roommates helps me see why this would be important in a family setting later.
 And while I say' simply four roommates', it's no shrugging off. Sharing life with these women that year was such a blessing. We read Psalms together in the mornings, prayed together, sometimes fought together, sought resolution together, reminded one another of God's Truth when it was hard to remember ourselves. And we laughed and played too. And kept a boat from crashing into our house. (It happened.
And got flooded into our house. :) "...the Lord is good to me."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Belhaven~ (Year and Days 22 & 23: 30 to 30)

Okay~so clearly posts are falling behind again because, well I suppose because present life is happening and I've not taken the time to write about Befores. :) Saturday would have been 21/Shepherdstown but I also touched on that at the sum up end of the last post so we'll leave it there for now. I was near Shepherdstown Saturday though, at home with my fam in the Burrow. Kevin and I left on Friday and got in late for a short weekend Easter visit. It was so nice to be back in the mountains, by the river, and with my fam/crazy brothers & Alexandra. And really nice to have them all meet Kevin and vice versa.
 Sunday~22 blended with Monday 23 for a Belhaven/Kaelen conglomeration. Belhaven is how I met Kaelen who remains one of my best friends to this day. When I applied to Belhaven  I specifically requested a certain dorm (which is not the one generally requested.) and specifically requested to room with a non-theatre major. And I got placed in Not The Requested dorm and with Kaelen, a definite theatre major. But two things told me it was okay. The first was that our room number was to be 413 which is my birthday so that felt like a good sign. The second was that Kaelen responded to my letter (it felt strange to 'get to know' your new roomie with a phone call) with a handwritten letter of her own. One from Masterworks which at that time I knew nothing about and now too has been a big part of my own life. (funny story from my a vault of Kaelen stories~ this same letter lay on my desk at Belhaven covered by a few things a couple of months into our semester. Kaelen saw the curlicues on the edges and started going on about how lovely they were and how very much she liked them and did I do that? and who did that? and they were just so very.....then she saw that she'd done them and stopped. And we had a good laugh over that one.)
 Kaelen and I hit it off so instantly and well that people assumed we were long friends before Belhaven. There are about a billion stories from that time and from our lovely group of friends that I could write. And I could and should write about the Searles and how I met them serendipitously on the plane the first time I visited Belhaven and how kind they've been to me and how I lived in the house they had in Jackson. And I could write about that house, which we deemed "Tiffany's" only because we often had Breakfast At....
I still miss that house when I think of it. A bunch of us would get together there on Sundays and read children's books (yes. that's what we did.) and sing hymns, and laugh or watch movies or what have you. It was such a sweet time. And theatre, oh we did so much theatre. It was so rich to be in an environment of constant creating. And at Belhaven my faith grew as my theology shifted. And with Kaelen and Brandon and Brandon and Scott and Erin and Meg and Aunie and Bonnie and Alex (Bonnie and Alex! Love those two!)  I learned the words to hymns I found I loved. And of all the lovely things and crazy things and funny things my friendship with Kae is filled with, there's something I most learned from her in the very beginning for which I'm very grateful. Kaelen changed my prayer life. At first it made me uncomfortable and maybe I thought she was a little crazy. I mean, I prayed often I thought, but this girl prayed out loud and fervently about just about anything. If I brought something up she'd just pray about it. Like right then and there. And then it felt less crazy and how I prayed shifted too. And I'm still grateful for that.

 So much about being there was sweet and beautiful and showed evidence of God's provision. Even the first time I visited I was amazed by the fact that I didn't want to leave, that I felt somehow at home. At Belhaven both my craft as an actor and my walk as a Christ follower grew and it was a precious time.
 And being at Belhaven led to the next, because Kaelen is how I learned of Masterworks which is where I'd go after my time in Jackson.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Multi Day/Year Catch Up (Days 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20~Years Corresponding:30 to 30)

It's a little too bad this is such a catch all catch up because there were some good day/year connections in here. But for now, before setting out for home for Easter with the boy (yay!) I'd just want to touch on them so as to catch up. And honestly much of the days assignments have turned to blogs instead of 'tasks' if you will. I'd like to have done both but time just gets scrunchy ya know?

 Somehow I'm really the only traveler in my immediate family but I got but by the travel bug very young and wanted to be a flight attendant when I was a little girl. When I was 15 I finally got to really go somewhere and through the support of my church growing up, got to go with the McKenzie family to Israel where they were working with YWAM Jerusalem and living in Bethlehem. There's more to say on this, clearly, but today I'm mostly playing catch up so I won't delve. Sunday I went to Algebra Tea House on my street for an Iraqi kebab wrap and the intent of a glass bottle of coke. In Israel we would go to street stands or bitty cafes for either shawarma or falafel and coca cola in glass bottles. Algebra has both but part of this countdown is bringing past to present so I went with my fav go-to wrap instead. Also Cassie came with me so we could catch up after her house sitting for a week. Sadly they were out of coke so we had root beer instead.

 At 16 I worked a summer as a white water rafting guide on the Shenandoah (and a tad of the Potomac) river in Harpers Ferry. I was not particularly good at it but it was an enjoyable experience and I loved being outside and on the water and in the sun. You'd get the weirdest tans because you're sitting all day with your thighs sunward, your calves hidden, your face & arms exposed and the rest of your torso completely covered in a life vest. And this was the year that I discovered the beauty of naps. This is a job that totally wears you out and you'd just come home, eat and sleep. On this trip home this weekend I will most definitely be walking to the river on Saturday morning to give it a good hello.

 Then of course was 17 which though the season of such spanned longer then, I decided for this project's purposes to tie to the Gypsy reign. :) Barefooting, pasta making, contra dancing, Shakespeare loving, bunch of crazy wonderful friends. I loved that time and those people.

 18 was The Crucible- like literally, the show, not a metaphorical going through~ which I connect with really getting to know my dear friend Bergen more and also with realizing how much actually I really loved and wanted to do theatre.

 19 was Americorps which I've written about before and will again.
And 20 was YWAM and these three years, 18, 19 & 20 connect a lot in my journey of pursuing the arts as a Christian. And I'll try and come back to flesh these out better. For now suffice it to say at 18 in The Crucible I recognized how very much I actually did love acting and theatre and how as I was about to go away and do other things I loved for 11 months I didn't know what I would do without it. 2 days after having this thought directly is when I got a letter from A*Corps explaining three specialized teams specific to my assigned Denver base. Teaching/tutoring. Firefighting. And a brand spanking new theatre team. Which I auditioned for upon arriving, got in and became part of a team that a decade later is still part of my life and who I love dearly. During my AmeriCorps year I read Addicted to Mediocrity because more and more I was realizing I loved acting. Through this book I felt like God spoke to my heart and broke through a lot of the very practical and utilitarian way I'd been viewing the arts. Through this book I felt I was seeing that not only was it 'okay' that I love and do this, but that I'd been designed for it. So I looked up a performing arts DTS (discipleship training school~something else I'd wanted to do and was introduced to through YWAM in Israel) through YWAM, applied, and that was my post A*Corps step. And there new knowledge in what it means to be a Christian in the arts, in God's own artistry and beauty, developed and furthered.

 And post A*Corps was my first apartment with Bergen then Butera now Howlett. And that, that too was a golden time. Card nights, curry chicken salad, the beginning of Boxing Day breakfasts, Unbirthday Parties( that were possibly a terrible idea. I swore off planning surprise parties after this Bergen. You should always check to see if your roommate has homework first. Also it was completely not her birthday although that was sort of the point.)  and filled with bright pink cake, the fun of being a townie in Shepherdstown. Good times Bergen, good times. :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Grandma (Day 14~Year 14: 30 to 30)

 The reactions I sometimes get to going by my middle name are surprising. Some people seem truly offended, it's weird, that they've known me as 'Faith' and my first name is in fact 'Rachel'. Didn't pick the going by my middle name bit folks, just how it goes. Believe me, I've gotten confused myself when as a kid at the Dr's or something, they'd call my name several times before I realized who they meant. My favorite (but not) is when people discover this and refer to Rachel as my 'real name' as if Faith, which I've gone by since I was born, was not my 'real name'. Regardless, I'm grateful to carry my first name, as real as my middle one, because I was named after my Grandma.
 She gets this day, this year because it's when we lost her.Even now, writing so makes me tear up. At the time, for some reason, I thought 'normal' was hiding away the sad part, going and crying by yourself, and then being happy around people. I don't know where I got this except that I like being in control, and crying is not that. It wasn't until a few years after my Grandma died that my Mom and I learned we'd each been crying when we went to sleep for weeks, not knowing the other was mourning too. "Well I wish I'd known that!" said my Mom when somehow, talking late one night with Alexandra at the Burrow, it just came up. We could have cried together, which honestly probably would eventually have meant laughing together too, because of remembering together. And if not, we could at least have comforted each other. Cry together people. And remind me to as well.
 My grandma gave us kitchen sink baths when we were babies, and somehow, somehow I remember this. I remember orange measuring cups and using them as bath toys and pouring the water in and out of them. As an adult I've heard Mom say "She'd clean a big old chicken up for dinner and then fill the sink with water and plop one of you in it." Well. We none of us died from salmonella so....
 Baths were always a thing at Grandma's, even past sink bath stage. When Lukas was a toddler he had this habit of submerging face first in the water and just floating there, I don't know why, it was fun for him. So one night Grandma's giving him a bath and he's playing around and he does the dead man's float thing and Grandma waits patiently...until she didn't. She grabbed him by the white blonde hair and said "That's enough!!!" and pulled him out of the water to make sure he was still actually there. She was rather a patient woman so it was pretty hilarious.
 Grandma was also an incredible cook and no one makes mashed potatoes like she did. And chicken soup, and lemon chicken, and heaven knows, lots of things.But I really remember those mashed potatoes. I bet my Dad got his stellar cooking skills from my Grandma.
 She had seven kids including twins and as my Uncle Danny said at her funeral, when my Grandfather died (my Dad, the third, was 11 I think) she picked herself up by the bootstraps and raised those seven kids by herself. 
 My Grandma taught me to sew (not that I remember, but we made several dresses with Alexandra which was fun.) and she sewed me lots of dresses and things when I was a growing up. She also used to rock me sleep when I was a toddler which actually meant she would fall asleep and I would wriggle out and run around again. That rocking chair is now at The Burrow (aka, my families house) and has rocked so many babies. My Dad probably got his cooking AND fall asleep wherever skills from his Mom. :)
 It seems funny to write about her and to know she was wonderful to me but to not know how to say so. She was a big part of my world and I loved her dearly and I'm glad to have her name. I love you Grandma.