A few weeks ago, another step was taken toward the realization of a dream. I've been working on a musical with my friends Lee and Tony since November 2017. We recently held a staged reading of the musical and it will be a fully produced show in May of 2024. Tickets are available now and you should all come see The Table at The Nebraska Communities Playhouse in Hickman, Nebraska. Yes, ALL of you should come see this show. Please. :)
The process of watching this project coming to life has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The day after the staged reading, I expected to need a break from this particular work, simply because it had been so incredibly time consuming for the previous three weeks. But after allowing myself to sleep in, get caught up on housework, and give myself a break from staring at a computer screen, I was beyond ready to get back to work, shaping and reshaping the story and songs. The project needed work, that was undeniable. In some places, major work. But instead of being daunted by the task, I was eager and determined. And it surprised me a little to feel that way.
I'm an idea person. I love dreaming up possibilities. I've mentioned this before, but I haven't always been great at the finishing part of pursuing a dream. I'm happy to say I seem to be getting better at that. I've finished things in the past couple of years I don't know if I would have a decade ago. And I think I know why.
For most of my life, I've been a person with a high capacity to juggle responsibilities. I can keep a lot of plates spinning - all the roles I've had to assume through the years. Wife, mom, daughter, friend, employee, business owner, etc. I've always known I can't give 100% to all the things all the time, but I am a person who seems to function better when I have a lot to do. I'm still that way. But the past three years have changed my perspective, not only on my capacity to juggle responsibilities, but also on my capacity to create.
I'm sure age, experience, and knowledge gained, have all contributed to what I now see in regards to my own limitations, but I don't know that I'd be where I am now in terms of perspective had I not come face to face with my mortality. Thank you, cancer. But it isn't simply the feeling that my days are numbered so I'd better get busy living and doing the things I want to do while I can. Creating out of that feeling would leave me in a frantic state of creativity and I do not want that. No, this is desire to operate at full creative capacity, in peace. Not "peace and quiet" kind of peace, but the peace that comes from knowing I'm not chasing anything or anyone. The peace you have when you're working with people who fill you up, and not with those who leave you depleted. The peace of being purposeful with your time and resources even when others don't understand the ridiculous things you might choose to do in order to achieve that peace.
My husband and I are taking a hard look at our life and planning to make some changes I'm certain some people will not understand or agree with. It won't be the first time friends and family have called us crazy. And speaking of capacity, I don't have the capacity to care about that anymore.
Thankfully, I also don't have the capacity to care about the capacity of others either. I've spent way too much time over the years asking God why I haven't been afforded certain opportunities while I've watched other people have experiences I wished I had. I honestly don't feel the need to ask that of God anymore. Mostly because I am fully aware of the amazing opportunities I've been given, but also because I've learned that if I wanted to have specific doors opened to me, I would also have to deal with all the crap that goes along with walking through those doors. And the more I see exactly what that crap is, there is no way I want that for my life. Because what I see there doesn't bring what my heart desires - to create out of a place of peace.
My personal mission statement is to do creative work that inspires and equips others to do their creative work. What that creative work looks like and who the "others" are, is going to be determined by one thing - answering the call that I alone hear from my Creator. I'm quite confident that when I am faithful to that call, He will also show me the "how, when, what, why, where, and who" I need to create at my highest capacity in peace. Even in typing those words I feel the tension release from my shoulders, breath fill my lungs, and my mind begin to clear. I suppose those are signs I'm on the right track.
Hello again from your inconsistent blogger. The days are FLYING by and while I will likely always be frustrated by the mere 24 hours I am given to accomplish everything I'd like to in a day, I am also learning to be content, realistic, and more kind to myself. My body is demanding that from me so I am trying to cooperate.
Physically, I'm feeling better. My last surgery seems to be doing what I hoped it would do - let my body heal. Being off my chemo pill has meant an improvement in how I feel physically as well, although I do wrestle with the emotions of knowing I don't have that added weapon in my arsenal right now. I'm still dealing with the effects of other drugs and the ongoing issues gifted me by radiation. It appears some of those issues are here to stay so I'm doing my best to come to terms with all of it. My appointments are fewer and farther between, which means I can actually go an entire week without making a trip to the doctor or lab. That feels like an achievement, for sure.
My daily work life has honestly been a dream. I don't think I've ever been able to say that in my 42 years of being a laborer of some sort, so operating in my sweet spot is new for me. Most days are spent in my office working on some creative endeavor - my business, new songs, new books, new musicals, new projects. Our new puppy (pictured here in my office) means I start my day earlier than I'd like, but Rupert has honestly been so good for my new schedule. He gets me up early and takes his first nap right around the time I step into my office for 3-4 hours. He wakes up, we have lunch, then dive into an afternoon full of more of the same. Not every day goes as planned, of course, but for the most part, this season is a blessing in so many ways. As I told a couple of co-writers yesterday, these are the best of days. I'm so grateful.
Even the best of days have their troubles, though. I won't pretend life has been easy. It's just that I've longed to be in a season where I'm more fulfilled creatively and now that I am, I'm in awe of how it has helped me deal with the messes of life in a more constructive way. Life will continue to be hard - I know that. Broken relationships, navigating changes, financial concerns, caring for family, ongoing health challenges; all things that keep me on my knees. But between living a more intentional life creatively and a deepening commitment to knowing God better, I've found the space to think more clearly when hard stuff happens.
I hope all of this spills out into creative work that inspires and encourages others. I've seen the futility of doing creative work for merely selfish gain and it's empty. I've done that. I don't want that. I've chased things and people and affirmation and reward. Yuck. I'd rather chase dreams. I'd rather run hard after an idea or a feeling or a story that just might make a difference in somebody's life. I'm so grateful I feel physically and mentally able to run after those things lately, and I'm very grateful God seems to have given me an open road to run on for a while.