Friday, July 29, 2016

I Am, Part 2

There is one artist who shows us years worth of her creations, and another who creates on video right in front of us. There are some artists who show a particular angle of the world, and others who challenge our view with constantly changing angles. And as I watch their process over two days, I see patience in the face of technical difficulties. I see varied interpretations of instructions that were the same for everyone. I see hesitation turn to confidence, and I see confusion turn to pride. And all the while, I hear years of learning coming out of my mouth--the notes that over the years have made me feel good and work harder. The notes that made my work different, and hopefully better. The notes that made me feel as though I was worth teaching.

I can't say whether any of these kids will become video artists, producers, or editors. Who knows at that age what will happen by the time you are my age? I sure didn't. But I feel good about helping to make it a possibility. I feel good about providing a few words, some constructive notes, and a little validation. I went in thinking that my main contribution was sharing a technical skill. It turns out that what I had to offer was a little different and a lot more. If I, in such a short time, provide just a little guidance or just a little inspiration, prepare them for just a few of the notes that, over the length of their careers, will dash them or excite them, I will have done what was most important. And as I hear the words from my mouth and see the looks on their faces, I think I've done my job.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Am, Part 1

Thanks to a collaboration with one of those people we are lucky enough to meet along our paths, I am helping to teach a teen workshop called "I Am." Over the course of two afternoons, we, the professionals, are helping twenty teens make short videos about their lives. When the days are over, they will understand a little more about shooting and editing. When the days are over, we will understand a little more about what we know and what we don't, and about how it is that we got to where we are.

"I am" is an interesting statement for any of us to make.

"I am" is a statement that can change from today to tomorrow.

"I am" is both a statement about us and a statement about the circumstances that surround us.

"I am" is a statement we often avoid, favoring "I do" or "I wish."

"I am" is a reminder of how scary it can be to speak up for ourselves.

"I am" is a reminder of how empowering it can be to speak up for ourselves.

This is two days of imparting some of my years of knowledge and experience to a room full of kids just beginning to amass their own knowledge and experience. But having seen Day 1, I have a feeling I may be learning as much as I am teaching. And I may come out with my own somewhat new version of "I am."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Again

One of the best things about the summer (particularly the very loosely planned version of summer that I tend to create) is the fact that there are so many new beginnings. During the school year, we pretty much all have our marching orders. We know where we're going, and when, and the structure of things looks pretty much the same, week after week.

In the summer, though, this particular Monday may look nothing like last Monday. Perhaps we can sleep more. Perhaps we are taking a different form of transportation. Perhaps we will have more time on our own. Or less.

Sometimes, the lack of consistent structure can be exhausting. During the school year, we (we, the adults AND we, the kids) know which friends we will see each day. We mostly know what will be expected of us. And we know the rules of the game, whatever the game may be. While summer may free us from some of the expectations, it also requires us to regroup, sometimes more than we'd like, and to make new friends and try new things.

Before we know it (no, say it isn't so!), our loosely structured summer will be over, putting us right back into that life where we know a lot more about what's coming our way. So, for now, we can bristle about adjusting to the new each day. Or we can enjoy what the new has to offer us--the ability to try something different, just for a moment in time, the opportunity to stretch our adaptability, and discover how much we can handle, and the chance to appreciate what a little freedom can give us. It's not the same old, same old. It's summer, and each day, we have the chance to be new again.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

All Paths Lead

I sit at a table with women with whom I used to sit in meeting rooms. We used to meet monthly, if not more. We used to collaborate on helping, and serving, and advocating. We used to speak together for an organization.

It has been a long time since those "used to's." Each of us has navigated through all sorts of pieces of life since then. And though each of us may still help, and serve, and advocate, we do it separately, and in our own little worlds. Though we meet, we meet only rarely, and not so much to create action, but to catch up. We are connected by the used-to's, but our paths from "used to" have been so different that it is sometimes hard to see exactly who and where we were then.

Yet, the starting place still brings us back. Though our paths have diverged widely, when we are back together, we always seem to have the bond that brought us together then. So, while paths lead where they lead, perhaps many paths really lead to where you created them. If you have laid the proper groundwork, you can find the path. If the people who walked it with you understood it back then, it is not so hard to remember where it leads.

We have moved along--and will continue to move along--all sorts of paths. But when we find the people in our lives who believe with us, speak out with us, work hard with us, perhaps even the most divergent paths lead back to them. And following those paths can be a really good way for us to keep from getting lost...


The last few years (by which I generally mean my post-ABC years, which are quickly becoming more than a few years ago) have been full of a lot of second-guessing. Second-guessing the motives of people who didn't hire me--or did, second-guessing the thoughts of people who heard my story and my ever-changing elevator pitch, and (perhaps most of all) second-guessing myself, as I tried to figure out who I was now and what I could do.

Yet, every so often in the process, I have had moments when the second-guessing fell away. When an opportunity felt so right that I just went for it, or when a person seemed so interesting that I didn't care what she thought of me, or when I actually felt as though I knew where I was going. Suddenly, instead of second-guessing, I have found myself, shall we call it, "first-guessing." Forging ahead without looking back, acting before asking way too many questions or allowing in way too many doubts.

Have all my "first-guessing" moments netted success and accomplishment? Nope. Have all my "first-guessing" moments led to clear paths and an ongoing "I get it now" feeling? Absolutely not. But the "first-guessing" moments have given me a bit of clarity. They have re-upped my confidence when it was flagging. And they have led me to a better understanding of who I am and where I'm meant to be (even if I won't be that person in that place for a while).

We spend a lot of time second-guessing ourselves and almost everyone and everything around us. But when, every so often, we can listen to our "first-guessing," we have the opportunity to learn a little more, and do a little more. We have the opportunity to become not just the product of what has happened to us, but the product of what we make happen for ourselves. When we let go of the second-guessing, we have the chance to put ourselves, and what really matters to us, first.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


In the last bunch of years at ABC, the One Life to Live production team became quite the experts at what was called "six-packing." A genre that for years had shot one episode each day was now shooting six episodes in five days, and honestly, by the end, more like seven in five. Such a shooting schedule allowed the show to go "dark" for whole weeks throughout the year, which saved a tremendous amount of money, a huge concern as cheaper-to-produce talk and reality shows loomed large.

And so it was that we went from producing twenty-something scenes each day to producing fifty or sixty most days. For a period of time, I actually scheduled these days--it wasn't easy, but it was an education in how to make the most of time, and a constant reminder that it was often possible to do more than a day's work in a day.

And so, as I have spent an entire week feeling one day behind in blog posts, I can't help but feel as though I am seven-packing now, as I post my second in a day. Have I gotten ahead enough to go "dark" for a week, or even a day? No way. But for today, just being back on track is enough for me.

Day on the Dayside

I dress in the early hours of the morning, and prepare a lunch that will actually be eaten at lunchtime. I head for the bus with hundreds of people who, like me, are rested, dressed for the day, and ready to work. But for me, today is not just one day like every other day. Today, unlike most any other recent day, I am working dayside, 8-4, to be specific. And after several months of nights and overnights, I am genuinely confused.

I head into the kitchen--wait-people drink coffee at this hour, don't they?

I head to the shower--wait-I took a shower not that long ago, when I was on the back end of a night shift.

I go to get dressed--wait-am I dressing for daytime heat or overnight lack of sleep cold?

I pack a lunch--wait-does lunch look the same as stay awake snacks?

I head to my lobby--yes, Mr. Doorman, I am as confused as you are to see me leaving at this hour.

I walk to the bus stop--wait-I am with a crowd, not alone, and there are many buses coming, not just one or two.

I arrive at work--wait-relieving the overnighters, rather than the other way around.

I take my meal break--wait-I can actually go out, as it is not the dead of night!

My day is done--wait-what? Done? In the middle of the afternoon? Now what do I do?

It is truly amazing how our systems adapt so quickly to our current reality that what was once normal can feel so abnormal. It has been a lovely few hours on the dayside. But it's not so terrible that I'm a little confused. I'll be back at night before it will even matter.