Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nannies and Dragons

I recently found myself thinking about Pete's Dragon--the Helen Reddy version movie of my childhood, in which a ridiculously cute animated dragon befriends a lonely young boy. By the end of the film, the boy has found a loving home, Helen Reddy has sung one of my all time favorites, "Candle On The Water," and the dragon has gone off to find another child who needs his help.

It's a familiar theme. At the end of Mary Poppins, the title character leaves the children in the able hands of their newly enlightened parents. Basically, the children in question just need a little help on their path, and once they are headed in the right direction, the magical helper, no longer so desperately needed, moves on to another mission.

Now, few of us have an animated dragon or a babysitter with a lamp-holding carpetbag to help us. We do, however, have friends and family, who often prop us up and guide us along. And, perhaps just as important, we have strategies we develop ourselves to make our paths clearer. 

For me, those strategies have included writing (thus, this blog), daily (often multiple times daily) emails with a coffee pal, and new perspectives from my kids. Do I ever find that I'm ready to let go of my Mary Poppins, or my Elliott the Dragon? Sometimes, perhaps. But just like those kids in the movies, I can't help but appreciate whatever makes the path a little easier and a lot friendlier. And unlike those kids in the movies, I have the power to hold on to the things that help me through the rough patches. I just have to split my focus between "within myself" and "in the world (or maybe the sky) nearby." And when looking for a little guidance, those are--with or without nannies and dragons--two pretty good places to find it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What I Did For LinkedIn

I suddenly begin to get emails congratulating me on my work anniversary--for a gig I haven't really done since...I'm not sure when. Guess I forgot to put an end date on that one. LinkedIn is a tricky tool for a freelancer--when a person can have many small jobs that start and end all the time, its representation of a freelancer at any given moment is only as accurate as that freelancer is vigilant about updating.

Don't get me wrong--I love LinkedIn. It is my go-to for researching all sorts of people. It is my way to keep up on what friends and former co-workers are doing (or, if they are freelancers like me, what they have done at some point). And, while I have rarely been actively recruited through LinkedIn, it is a way to keep myself "out there" without lifting a finger (kind of like that business I always dreamed of having that would, once up and running, create income on its own).

But when I get those congratulatory messages, I am reminded that LinkedIn, much like anything else in life, is only as good as what you put into it. While we all might long for that business that makes money on its own, mostly, we make money because we scramble, and create, and work hard. While we all might want to be seen and understood, mostly, we become visible when we speak up for ourselves. And while we all might wish for a LinkedIn profile that makes us appear dynamic and talented and professionally desirable, that LinkedIn profile is only as good as what we continue to put into (and take out of) it.

I am happy for the congratulations--they remind me of the things I've done, and of the people who still know my name. But they also remind me that social media is still only as good as what we make it. And that perhaps it's time to update my profile.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

End Of/Start of

When we stop seeing, do we forget to look?

When we stop hearing, do we forget to listen?

When we stop finding time, do we forget how to make time?

When we stop thinking outside the box, do we trap ourselves inside it?

When we stop thinking of anything but now, do we stop being able to dream of anything but what we already have?

When we accept defeat, do we stop being winners, or fighters?

When we accept what is, do we give up what might be?

When we misstep, can we find our way back?

When we have made choices, are there still choices to make?

When we look again, are there still things to see...?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Line Drives and Fly Balls

It sometimes seems as though my soap career was a straight line--entry job to Booth PA to AD to Director. Except that at some point, I aspired to be a writer and gave that up in favor of production. Except that at one point, I was fired and worked in sitcoms. Except that when it was all over, it wasn't really over at all. I guess straight lines aren't always as straight as you think.

Nothing much about my more recent life has been a straight line. Rather, I spend my life looking up, to anticipate what comes out of the blue, looking down, to make sure of my footing, looking ahead to avoid getting caught up in looking back.

The straight line--the line drive--might be more dependable. A line drive executed strongly is an almost sure base hit, while the fly balls can easily lead to outs. But sometimes, hitting a fly ball is all you can do. And sometimes, that fly ball turns into a home run.

I suspect that there are few straight lines left--for me, or for anyone. Which, I suppose, makes the game more interesting. So, I keep swinging, keep hitting, keep running when the opportunity arises. Life might not be a line drive, but it's still worth stepping up to the plate--every time.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Out Of The Box

I try to think creatively--about work, and about life. And most of the time, I do. But often, just thinking creatively, in any given part of our lives, is simply not enough. Often, thinking "out of the box," at work or at home or in the world, leaves us still challenged to accomplish all that we'd like. What I am discovering is that "out of the box" isn't just about how we view solutions. It is also about how we view ourselves. During certain hours of the day, I may be an editor, or an employee, or a neighbor, or a writer, or a parent. But putting myself only in those boxes at those particular times gives up the most important part of my thinking creatively. If I forget that I am a parent when I am writing, I give up a key part of what could inspire me. If I separate myself completely from being an editor while I parent, I am losing the skills of listening and looking for tiny cues, which might be helpful in parenting. If I think only about my work when I am working, I sacrifice the humanity that ultimately makes me better at my job.

We can build walls around the various parts of our lives--I certainly have--to keep them safe from each other. But when we clear away those walls, and try living "out of the box," we allow each thing we do to enrich the others. And make all of our life boxes just a little more comfortable.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Time Of My Life

In the wee hours of my overnight shift, I find myself drifting back to the few days, twenty-ish years ago, when I worked on the overnight news. Recently unemployed at the time, I jumped at the referral for work. At the time, it probably could have been any kind of work and I would have jumped.  But truth be told, my constitution at the time did not exactly lend itself to the shift I had been hired to fill. And within a few days, through either fault of mine or (more likely) vagaries of the universe, my stint with the overnight news was, well, over.

My head returns to my current overnight work, and the fact that it actually works pretty well, which, given the flashback I have just had, is kind of amazing. But twenty years ago was a different life. Twenty years ago, overnight work would likely have meant my children wouldn't exist (or at least wouldn't be the ages they are now). Twenty years ago, overnight work might have meant my never working on a sitcom or a symphony concert or editing projects at home.

Today, the 14-hour pre-dawn to post-sundown days I worked in the soap world--and loved--might be the thing that wouldn't work. Today, the traveling to another state or the late sitcom audience tapings might be the  things that brought me down. I guess maybe there really is a time for everything, or at least for most things. It's just a question of knowing when it's the right time of your life...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

More Presents...Or Not

When the employment becomes more present than the creativity...

When the test grades become more present than the life lessons learned...

When the white walls and the tidied rooms become more present than the beat of the city...

When the doing becomes more present than the feeling...

When the how becomes more present than the why...

When the texts become more present than the text...

When the words yelled become more present than the words written...

When the words written for instruction become more present than the words written for understanding...

We must be careful that we don't just accept every present...