Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tourist At Home

Having had an out-of-town visitor these past few days, I have done a lot of walking. And theatre going. And general exploration of my city. I'm a little exhausted. But I'm also grateful. After all, how often do you stop (or go) to see what's right around you every day of your life?

I've been telling people recently that I live a fairly little life. Overnight work requires vigilance about daytime sleep. Having children in school demands attention to homework and tests and dismissal schedules. Life in general calls for lists and completion of tasks and simply keeping up. I may live in a vibrant city, but on any given day, I might as well be anywhere, simply getting through the steps to make life work. 

And then, in walks someone from out of town, here with the time and energy and desire to see and experience and enjoy "my" city. And suddenly, my "little life" becomes a little bigger. Suddenly, the theatre beckons as strongly as my nap time. Suddenly, an exhibit that seemed far and hard and "for someday" becomes easy and "perfect for today." Suddenly, schedules are adjusted, naps are delayed, and tasks are postponed.

We spend months planning our vacations. But sometimes, if we keep our minds open, we can vacation right where we are. Stepping out of "little" doesn't always take a long flight or hours in a car, and stepping into "tourist" doesn't take more than just letting go.

I may have vacation trips behind me and vacation trips ahead, but this week, I got to play "vacation" without going anywhere at all. And I'm coming out of it as reinvigorated as if I'd gone on a tour or relaxed on a beach.

Even in the midst of a "little life," we can get a taste of something bigger--sometimes just by being a tourist at home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mr. O And The Course of History

When I was in high school, the school's rather legendary history teacher took the opportunity at the start of each year to show students the episode of Star Trek in which Kirk has to make a choice that will help in the short term, but completely change the course of history in the long term. Mr. O's point was that even the smallest of details could change the small and large parts of history completely. Each event could affect the next, thereby setting in motion events for years to come. It was, to be sure, an important history lesson.

I think about Mr. O and his Star Trek episode quite often, and not just when I am chasing one crisis that leads me to chase another and another, until I am far from where I started or intended to be. I ponder them when I start thinking "what if I'd" or "oh, no, I should have," and when I start to worry that just one little adjustment would have made everything line up perfectly. Each choice we make makes a difference. But one change doesn't necessarily set up just what we wanted--often it sets up a completely different scenario, with pieces we hadn't even considered.

We change history with every choice we make. So, we can worry about each choice, and the events that will result from it, or we can do what we believe to be right right now, and accept the events we might set off. For, while it is important to realize that our small actions will change the course of history, we can't always know how they will do so, and in how many steps.

But, thanks to Mr. O, I have a bit of Star Trek at my heels, a reminder that my actions are a part of history, but not the only reason things turn out as they do. And as I did back then, I simply try to do my best in the class--and in life...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

In Your Corner

Despite countless obstacles, my daughter's friends throw her a surprise party. They have pulled together balloons and streamers, snacks and cake, and, perhaps most impressive of all, a fairly good surprise.

I am, to be sure, impressed with their efforts, not to mention, relieved that I wasn't the one who had to plan a surprise. But most of all, I am touched by the fact that they made it important enough to schedule their lives for. When the time came, they were in my daughter's corner, laughing, and singing, and making her feel special.

I have realized, perhaps more so in the last few years, how important it is to have people in your corner. For years, I went to the same place daily, so the "corners" were obvious. But when that changed, and the corners were often the tiny little corners of the couch that I snuggled in to, scared to face the world or to spend any money, there were friends and family who, though not necessarily on the couch with me, were firmly in my corner. They hung in for the low points, and celebrated the successes. They helped make my corner be a safe place, rather than a lonely one. And they helped me get to what became one new step, and then another.

So, when I look and see that my kids have people (and not just me and the rest of our family) in their corner, I am happy to feel as though they'll make it through--through both the surprise parties and the not-so-festive times. Because I know what the people in my corner have done for me. It's largely thanks to them that I am here, not washed up yet, to write about it.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Why I Do It

After seeing a show with me this week, my daughter remarked, "THIS is why I do theatre." Perhaps it was the music, perhaps it was the story, or the statement the show made about society. For whichever, or all, of these reasons, it spoke to her, and confirmed a love that she already knew to be real.

We spend many hours every week doing things that are necessary or required or beneficial. But how often do we feel such attachment to what we are doing? How often do we have that feeling of "this is why"?

I could argue that my daughter's statement is that of someone much younger than I, with fewer obligations, and more brain and heart space to feel so strongly about her direction. Yet, I choose to see her statement as a reminder to me, and to all of us, no matter what age, that there is always room to think about "why," to ask "why," and to recognize "why" when we see it. There may always be jobs and tasks and assignments and errands that we do "just because." But every so often, or even more often than that, we should make sure we know, and say out loud, "this is why I do it."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Available

Along with "yes" and "of course, I'll be there," "available" is probably one of the most important words in a freelancer's vocabulary. When you're staff, your presence is basically a given. But when you're freelance, employers want to know that you can appear at a moment's notice, that you can jump into a planned, or a last-minute, vacancy on the schedule they need to fill.

So, as a freelancer, I try hard to be available. I don't make too many absolute plans, I don't get attached to particular working hours or modes of travel. I am, within reason, available.

What I have discovered as an active freelancer, however, is that "available" works both ways. While I am busy being "available" for work, I am also "available," both logistically and emotionally, for my family, in ways that I couldn't necessarily be with a job others might consider normal. As my schedule is constantly fluid, my thought processes tend to be that way too, which means that I can process the needs of kids and personal life in the available moments here and there. I may need to "be available," for the places where I work, but I can also use "being available" to help fill the needs of my family I never could if I were "full-time."

So, as much as I can, I say, "yes, I'm available." Because that doesn't mean just succeeding in working in a freelance world. It also means being available to help the important people in my life through that world.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Still Running

In the midst of my running around, trying to accomplish the needs of life and family events, I was reminded to look back a few years at how this running around would have differed. A few years ago, I would have been questioning every penny. A few years ago, the running would likely have been with anxiety rather than euphoria. A few years ago, I would have been beating myself up for running anywhere instead of being at the computer searching job leads and rewriting resumes.

I feel very lucky that a few years ago is a few years ago, and now is now. It is obviously more enjoyable to go through life fueled by euphoria than fueled by anxiety. It is a tremendous relief to focus on the choices, not just the pennies. Yet, as I thank goodness for how things are, I can't help but also be grateful for how things were. There were undeniably unpleasant--more than unpleasant--moments and experiences. There was insecurity--about myself and how I fit in. There were all sorts of questions and challenges that made even everyday accomplishments difficult. But today, reminded of all that, I appreciate the euphoria a little more. Today, with all that making up the "me" I am now, I realize, just a little more clearly, how lucky I am.

We might not wish on anyone certain experiences we've been through, but for us, those experiences, good and bad, inform the person we are today, and give us perspective when we so desperately need it. So, in the midst of my running around, I am reminded of who and where I've been. And of how glad I am that I'm still running.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fair Trade

I wonder sometimes, when I am working overnights, if I am losing days. After all, a night worked results in a day largely slept (or sleepwalked) through. So, do I, in fact, end up with fewer usable hours, even though I seem to be up for far more hours?

I realize sometimes, when I have a break from working overnights, if I am losing days. After all, a night not worked results in a night largely slept through, and a day that doesn't include the very early and very late hours and the ability to blog in the middle of the night.

I discover sometimes, when I alternate in and out of overnights, that the different work scenarios, and frankly, most things in life, are a trade-off. There are good points, and bad, to almost anything we do, meaning that sometimes, the luckiest we can be is when we have just the alternating life I've described--days that don't seem to end, and days that end far too quickly, days when we match up with the world, and days when we can march to our own beat.

Is it a fair trade? I don't know. If I'm awake enough for enough hours, I'll think about it tomorrow...