Living Like Pat

Let us be elegant or die! – Little Women

It’s Pat is a film based on an SNL character.  Throughout the film, we never know if Pat is male or female.

Ever felt like that?

I don’t mean gender identification.  Even though this blog is only opinion (sometimes, very strong opinion), I don’t have enough knowledge to talk about gender identification.  If that’s something you’re struggling with, or looking for information, here’s somewhere you can start.

The damsel in distress.  The knight-errant.  From early on, literature portrayed women as those who needed to be rescued, and men can cut their teeth on bravery by saving them, and usually rewarded by that woman’s hand in marriage.  In just about every romance novel that formula remains the same.  Geez, even in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy (which I find many things wrong with), our “heroine” needs to be saved by the dashing “hero”, and that strengthens their “relationship”.

That’s what we’re taught.  How many women read those and swoon inwardly, then go to their happy day-dreaming place and imagine themselves in peril only to be rescued at the eleventh hour by whoever tops their fantasy?  I don’t think there’s any one of us who hasn’t had that daydream.

But why is that?  I can’t tell you how many times the “damsel in distress”, whatever distress it is, gets the attention of all who are around.  Women are taught they should appear weak and needy in order for men to know they are required and desired.

That’s pretty crappy for both parties.  It’s telling women they need to be rescued, and it’s telling men they need to be the rescuers.

That doesn’t work for me.  It never has.  In my earlier, less confident years, when all around me I was being bombarded with reasons I should be in a relationship, people asking me why I wasn’t, how lonely it must be, and – my favourite – stories of women in their 40’s and 50’s who were getting married for the first time, so there’s still a chance for me.  Congrats and all, but really?

So, all around me, twitterpation was in progress.  Because of how my mind worked, I tried to find (what I thought was) logical reasons to my pervasive singleness (impending spinster-hood?).  So  I looked to my friends.  It seemed to me that they were closer to the archetype of femininity than I was.  There weren’t birds braiding their hair or anything, but there were clear indicators, such as the meal cooker.  With the small exceptions, at that time in my life, it was the ladies who cooked for their partners.  While I *can* cook, I don’t.  In fact, I’m very proud of the fact I’m planning to pre-cook my lunch for the upcoming week, because for as long as I can remember, I’ve preferred going the easy way.  Back when I could eat salad, that’s pretty much what I lived on: chicken caesar salad, or if I was feeling very ambitious, taco salad.  Only on special occasions did I make lasagna.  5-7 years later, I can’t eat salad (I know!).  When I was doing the lifestyle challenge, I tried very hard to pre-cook, pre-plan and eat properly, but I’m sad to say, I’m back to my old habits.  Back when I was desperately trying to understand why I wasn’t in the same boat as my friends – paired up – I thought no small part of it was because I just wasn’t feminine enough.   I’d failed in my gender duty.  I also hate doing laundry, cleaning, dishes, everything that was taught to me by my mother on running a household.  I won’t even get into the species of weird that grows in my fridge on a regular basis (did you know cucumbers melt?  I didn’t know that.  I also didn’t know I even HAD cucumbers in the fridge.  That’s how infrequently I even go to the fridge).  Was/is there something wrong with me?

That’s the problem with comparisons.  Who decides the base model is the correct one?

But wait, there’s more.

I’m a fairly independent person.  If I want to do something, chances are I’m going to have to do it myself.  And you know?  It means I do a lot of things other people don’t, because they don’t want to do it themselves.  Independence is liberating.  It also makes me wonder if I’m painting myself in a corner.  Ever thought that?

I don’t need to be rescued.  I rarely find myself in the middle of the road with a car barreling toward me with no hope of escape.  I can’t think of the last time I was held hostage with the bad guys using me as a mouthpiece to the (probably single) negotiator.  I could use a glass of water though, if anyone’s offering.  Naw, it’s okay; I’ll get up and get it myself.

Men, you don’t need to rescue me.  You don’t have to prove yourself as masculine as I am feminine.

So is independence off-putting? Is strength a turn-off?  I mean, yesterday I carried a 25lb box of cat litter with my weak hand through the store, and I thought I looked boss.  Couldn’t have done that without breaking a sweat a few months ago.  Is that impressive, or unfeminine?

Are these labels: feminine and masculine the problem?  Why should I ooze femininity out of my pores just so masculinity will catch a whiff?

We all have other things going for us.  Will I discount a relationship because the dude screams at spiders and we’re both burning the house down?  That actually sounds like a decent match to me.  Why should I think I’m defective because I’d rather buy a new set of dishes than wash the dirty ones?

It’s Pat?  No, it’s Kim, who likes getting her nails done, but wandered around a barn in flipflops without missing a beat.  Who hates shopping, but tries to find her perfect angle while capturing that selfie.  Who watches The Walking Dead, but voms when she sees someone spitting.  Who turned to the internet for assistance when she couldn’t figure out the vacuum, but calls her dad when the car makes a funny noise (who in turn tells her to read the manual…psh).  Kim, who doesn’t need to be rescued, just hanging around, who will maybe find someone who doesn’t need to be the rescuer, but if not, it’s cool too, because life is pretty rad as it is.

Volunteer Fatigue

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. – Cynthia Ozick

Volunteer fatigue.  It’s a thing.

All my life I’ve been a volunteer.  If things needed to be done, I was usually right there in the middle.  Some days I wished I could have done more, other days I wished more people would have done something.

But I’m tired.

Too often I’m seeing unfair and unrealistic expectations set on volunteers.  Just because one is volunteering does not mean they are not also professionals, but volunteers are often treated like after thoughts.  I’m not saying we should get our names in lights and a parade, but considering we’re giving up our time, and in some cases money, a certain level of respect is necessary.  Organizing volunteers is similar to herding cats.  It’s the last thing people think about, and why should people think about it?  After all, it’s not like we’re getting paid.

Another unfortunate thing about volunteers is that it’s a very small well.  It’s often the same volunteers at the same events.  It’s not sustainable.  What happens when the faithful volunteers get tired?  Nothing, because there’s no one to take up the mantle.  Tiredness turns into something more extreme, and when those volunteers “take a break”, they rarely come back.

That’s where I’m circling now.

I moved to Airdrie less than two years ago, but even before that, I was driving between Calgary and Airdrie to give my time, and I loved it.  Airdrie is a great town, with a great community.  I love seeing the community support each other, and I wanted to be a part of it.  Except, if I’m being completely honest, it’s a (small) portion of the community helping the larger community.  Which happens.  Not everyone is going to get on board.  Some people just want to go through life doing their own thing.  Diff’rent strokes, after all.

Communities are driven and shaped by not-for-profit organizations and associations.  It’s been great being involved in them, to see the change and improvement they bring.  But it’s also been detrimental.

I’ve been trying to build my own business, and I’m making some progress, but there’s a lot of things I do for free, that if I was getting paid for, there could be some positive changes in my own life.   Like I could actually afford to go on vacation, a much-needed, and at the risk of sounding immodest, much-deserved break.  I have my own dreams and goals, and for the past two years, they’ve been set aside for the good of the many (again, at the risk of sounding immodest).

I’m trying really hard to be level-headed as I write this, because I made the choice to volunteer, and as I said, I like it.  And one does not volunteer to get anything in return, other than the warm feeling in your cockles for doing good.  But to every action, there is a reaction, right?  So what’s the “reaction” to volunteering?  Here’s what it’s been in my experience:  the expectation to do more.  Not, “hey, I acknowledge that you took time to do this for me, and thanks”, but “hey, I need you this day, then this day, then this day.  You can do it, right?”  No.  I can’t do it.  Not anymore.

I find it hard to communicate how unbelievably hurt I was when the people I helped in the past 2-3 years couldn’t find the time to check out my show.  (Conversely, the people who volunteered: Stephanie, Joey, Lindsay, and Alma filled me with joy).  But where were the rest of them?  It’s hard not to think that what I do, what I’m good at is all well and good as long as it fits your purposes, but if it has nothing to do with you, then people couldn’t care less.  So I’m hurt, and disappointed.  But, on the upside, it’s forced me to re-evaluate.  I need to take the time and figure out what I want for me.  Which is difficult, because that sentence sounds super selfish, but I need to take the time for me.  How can I help others at the expense of myself?  It seems counter-productive.

This summer, I’m taking the time to discover what is good for me, and that’s going to mean potentially disappointing people.  That’s learning to say “no”.  And it’s also learning to say “good-bye”.  Perhaps more people will step up if the faithful step back, as hard as that is.

I’m still going to be active in Airdrie’s community; I wouldn’t be who I am if I wasn’t, but it’s going to be different.  Airdrie has a community of 50,000.  How many of them volunteer?  Remember, many hands make light work.  And an invested community is a strong community.

If you want to volunteer, but don’t know where to start, check out local volunteer agencies in your community.  For those of you in Airdrie, check out Volunteer Airdrie.

These Boots are Made for Walking (But the Clothes are Not)

Beware of all enterprises that require a new set of clothes – Henry David Thoreau

Most of you know, or have read about my 3 month lifestyle challenge.  It’s been over now for a month, and for the most part I’ve stuck to the new habits I formed January-April.  Mostly.  I’ve hit a plateau, so will need to reassess, but I’m still going to the gym, I’m running again outside (last week I ran my first non-stop 5K), and I’m *trying* to keep my food habits healthy.  Check out the Airdrie Lifestyle Challenge menu for the posts during the three months.

This post is not about working out; the challenges, the rewards, the sucky moments.

It’s about clothes.

I work out 4 times a week.  At least 3 times a week, I’m running.  It’s safe to say I’m sweating a lot.  Some people don’t like to admit they sweat, but I see my sweat as something to be proud of.  It’s all that fat crying and running away.  Unfortunately I have a hard time doing laundry.  I live in an apartment building that has 3 machines for at least 60 apartments, and it’s closed at a specific time each night.  I was able to do a couple loads of laundry once (on a sick day), but then someone snaked in before I was able to finish.  So I jump from friend to friend, mooching their laundry facilities.  I hate asking, but clothes are more expensive than pride.  That being said, I am not able to do my laundry as often as I’d like, and since I have less workout clothes than other clothes, things get ripe, so I’m off to buy new workout clothes today.

I went to Pennington’s website to acclimate myself to what the store offers.  (I hate shopping, so I pre-shop and go for the clothes I’ve already window shopped).  Their activewear is at best pathetic.  First of all, we’ve got weird flowery designs, and a cute little button-hole top.  WTF?  We’ve got sleeves that are flowers, and the body of the T one solid colour.  Can I just have a moisture wicking shirt that isn’t see through, and won’t constrict my movements?  Of the 20 options, there’s one that caught my eye.  It’s a tank, which is great for summer, and outdoor activities like running.  Then there’s this:

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Nex, I checked out what Sport Chek has to offer for women’s workout apparel.  They’re going to have more options in that regard, because that’s their bag, but just look at they offer:

 

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This is pretty standard style.  There’s no weird flair, it’s functional, lightweight, and it’s got some moisture stuff happening.

Why aren’t fat people getting some moisture wicking clothing?  This is something that grinds my gears.  The world is telling us that we need to lose weight, but what the deuce are we supposed to wear while we do it?  Can we not feel some pride in our workout gear?  I already feel like a bit of a weirdo when I run, because, well this:

Can I get some pride back with my cool, functional workout gear?  Is that too much to ask?  Is this just a Canadian problem?  I know that plus sized stores are much better in the States.  It’s a double edged sword though.  I have no other options, so I have to choose what they’re offering, which, to their statistics, or metrics, or whatever it’s called, they think their clothes are a hit.

My only consolation is that in a few months’ time, I’ll be too skinny for their ridiculous shirts, and can wear something for function, and not just because I don’t have a choice.  In the meantime, I’m the one with a weird flowery back paneled-shirt.

The First 10 Pounds

Do or do not.  There is no “try”. – Yoda

I haven’t had a chance to blog any updates in a while.  It’s still hard trying to juggle things, without having everything come smashing down in a disastrous pile of woe.

But I’m getting used to it.

I’m getting used to prepping my breakfast and lunch for the next day.  (Side note: Airdrie folk, do you notice your bananas getting brown very quickly? How do you staunch the tide of browning bananas?)

I’m getting used to late suppers.  I don’t have a microwave, or the time between work and evening responsibilities to make supper at a normal hour.  Dinners are usually cooked and eaten by 9:30 with bedtime shortly thereafter.  I don’t want to hear any, “that’s not good for you”, because I know it’s not ideal, but it’s the way it goes, and this is my journey, not yours.  We all have our different things we shouldn’t do, but have no other option.  Well, I guess my other option is going to Costa Vida for that yummy chicken burrito, but (and I won’t blame it solely on the burrito), that’s part of the problem that got me in this mess.

I’m getting used to the workouts at the gym.  There are still days where I feel uncomfortable while I’m surrounded by gym-rats who embody visually what I’d like to look at.  For their part, they’ve all been very nice and encouraging.

So I’m getting there.  This last battle of the mind was a decent one, with many shots fired, but I won.  (I had a mini cupcake at the end of the week, but I won).  I refuse to believe that I’m a bad person for eating a mini cupcake, or a homemade cookie.  That’s not a healthy way of looking at food either.  Food is not the enemy.  Lack of understanding, lack of discipline is.

The hard work has paid off.  I’m just two days away from my one-month weigh in, and I’ve already lost 10lbs.

Remember when I said I couldn’t see the forest through the trees?  I think I’ve found my viewpoint.  If I continue to lose ~10lbs a month, which is healthy, and the recommended amount, by the time The Courtship of Sarah Chandler goes up, I’ll have lost ~40lbs.  By the time my birthday swings ‘round, I could potentially have lost ~100lbs.  So that’s my goal.  Yes, I have an endgame goal, but it’s too far away, it’s too intangible right now; it could easily slip through my fingers and I’ll have lost.  But 10lbs a month is good.

I’ve learned some things about people going through this journey.  Things you can say, and shouldn’t say.  Encourage them.  Some people (myself included) often don’t know how to respond to encouragement, but we need it.  Yes, we’re doing this for ourselves, but we’re the last people who can see the physical changes in our body.  Don’t trivialize what they’re feeling.  If they’re momentarily feeling rough that they didn’t make their weekly goal, let them feel it.  It’s okay to deal with disappointment.  What doesn’t help is if you preach at them and remind them why they’re doing this.  We know, believe me.  We need to know that yes, it’s a bummer, but it’s just one week, or one day, etc.  In my experience, if I internalize something, it gives it so much more power, and I end up feeling much worse about myself.  So while my logical brain knows all the good this journey is, if I have a setback, regardless of all the awesome things that’s going on, I need to mourn that setback, get it out of my system, if you will, and move one.  Let that happen.  We can’t seek comfort from a double chocolate bar anymore, but let us keep our words.

Here’s a picture of me when we started, and a picture of me on Saturday.  I feel it’s too early to spot *all* the differences, but I’m starting to see some changes.  Change is hard, even when it’s good change.  I’m not always the best with unfamiliar things, so imagine when the unfamiliar thing is me.  Things get second guessed.  Strange, isn’t it?  This is what I want, but I don’t know what to do with it when I have it.

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Thanks to all of you who have checked in, and have been so supportive.  I couldn’t imaging have all these differing emotions and feelings and not having anyone to bounce it off.

Airdrie LIFEstyle Challenge: The Beginning

Just before the new year, I was one of the members selected to be a part of the Airdrie LIFE-sponsored Airdrie Lifestyle Challenge.  For 90 days, I’ll be working with a great partner (Michelle) to be the healthiest we can.  This includes working out at Anytime Fitness in Airdrie – on our own, and with a trainer; meal planning with Simply for Life; and I think an attitude change.

I am in an industry where talent is often overshadowed by physical appearance.  I’m tired of being looked over because I do not embody this current culture’s vision of beauty.  I also know that to be healthier, I have to do this.  Thus starts my beginning.

…And what a beginning it was!  We all met last Friday at Anytime Fitness, which just happens to be within walking distance from my apartment.  There were introductions: to each other, to the program, and to the machines.

I cannot tell you what a terrible week this is to start a new routine.  At the time of writing, I am 4 days away from Nose Creek Player’s 2nd Annual Airdrie Original One Act Play Festival.  In addition to having my own play involved (in which I am acting and co-directing), I am in another play, and organizing the thing.  I am 2 days away from the first rehearsal of The Vagina Monologues.  I am in my second week of the winter semester of P.A.C.K. (Performing Arts Camps for Kids) at Bert Church Theatre.  To put it mildly, things are busy.  Shifting priorities are hard, but they’re even harder in the midst of already-established priorities.  But it’s been done.   I have a wonderful theatre family.  They understand this journey, and are very encouraging, even allowing me to be late to rehearsal and leave early – something which grates on my nerves more than nails on a chalkboard.  It shows me I am not the only one committed to my journey.  The journey will be hard.  I’m a very reasonable person, and I know it’s going be balls to the walls, but it is easier knowing I’ve got a crowd of people in my corner.

Discounting Friday, Saturday was the first time I’ve ever set foot in a gym with the intention of working out.  I had people with me.  I had my partner Michelle, and her partner Christine, and my BFF Melinda (who had applied with me, but was just too darn skinny to be my real partner).  Together we introduced ourselves to the cardio machines.  And lo and behold, I liked it.  We made plans for Sunday.  Might as well build up the habit when it’s easy so when things get tough, the habit is formed.  Sunday brought snow.  Plans changed, I was on my own.  I’m a fairly independent person.  I live by myself, I vacation by myself, but the thought of going to the gym where people could whisper about my size, my inability, or whatever, was daunting.  I did it anyway.  I plugged in an audiobook, and forgot about everyone there.  Hurdle 1: cleared.

Today is our first meeting with our Simply for Life consultant.  I’m looking forward to it actually.  I have so many food restrictions: IBS, lactose intolerant, allergy to freaking lettuce, and spinach, and kale (and pretty much every lettucey thing out there) that it’s going to take work finding something that won’t make me run to the nearest bathroom (or ditch), but I’m so bored with my current choices, I’m excited to be able to step it up.

Wednesday is my first personal training session.  I’ll be sure to blog about that.  Actually, from what I’ve heard, my fingers may be the only functional thing after the session is done.

I hope you follow along my journey and that you are encouraged.  There will be moments of pride.  Moments of sadness.  Moments of whingeing.  Moments of TMI.  But success comes from all those moments, and it’ll be great to share it with you.

Childless by Choice

If you send up a weather vane or put your thumb up in the air every time you want to do something different, to find out what people are going to think about it, you’re going to limit yourself.  That’s a very strange way to live. – Jessye Norman

In the past while, I’ve been somewhat flooding my Facebook timeline with articles about being childless (by choice).  I find that at this stage of my life – in my 30’s where people are “supposed” to be settled.  In a job, in a relationship, and in a family.  More and more, society seems to be allowing people to be outside this norm, but there are still aspects of a life that people think they’re okay to comment on.

I should define what childless by choice means, because I firmly believe there are two sides of this choice. The first choice, is one that’s thought through.  “I don’t want kids because it’s not something I’ve ever wanted”, “I’d rather be the cool aunt/uncle”, etc.  Then there’s the choice made by women and couples to remain childless because all other options have run out.  I almost think of that as a forced choice. Perhaps they’re making the choice because hearts can’t take leaving that option open and never having it fulfilled.  I’m speaking only from the first choice.

I’ve known from a very young age that I didn’t want kids.  I didn’t know how to eloquently say it, but when I would read books and the heroine would get married and have kids, a part of me waffled.  I was okay with marriage, because there’s some part of me deep inside that is a hopeless romantic.  The girl gets the guy and vice versa.  It was the kids that gave me pause.  I felt like that was it for the woman.  No more fun adventures.  She couldn’t just leave on a moment’s notice and do fun and crazy things.  Before you get indignant and say having kids is not “it” for a woman, I know that.  I do.  Kids are an adventure in and of itself.  Just not for me.  In fact, I can recall only two times in my life where I was considering kids.  One, when I was still a teen (I was NOT considering teen pregnancy).  My best friend had died when we were 12, and I remember she had picked out a name for her hopefully future daughter.  She died, before that came into realization.  I thought I should have a kid, for her, and name it what she would have named her daughter.  Even though I hated the name she chose.  Even though I didn’t really want kids.  It didn’t take me too long to realize having kids out of a sense of duty isn’t the right reason.  After all, it’s not like I’m royal or anything.  The other time was when I was seeing a guy.  I’m almost ashamed to write this, but in the interest of full discloser, I was tired of being single.  I think I would have done anything or agreed to anything to make sure I would not be the only one left single.  So there was talk of children.  I cringed every time I smiled brightly and said, “kids would be great!”  Luckily that relationship didn’t last, and I gave my head a shake.  There are some things a couple needs to compromise on in order to have a healthy relationship, but for me, kids vs. no kids is not a compromise.

As I grew older, I realized that as much as we say having kids is none of people’s business, and you should be able to choose whatever you want, people can ask all they like, “so, when are you having kids?”, without fear of reprisal.  I have been told the reason I keep talking about it is because there’s some deep seeded issue I haven’t yet addressed.  (Not true.  I keep talking about it, because people still don’t understand.  That’s why we keep talking about issues.)  There’s even a small part of me who keeps talking about it so if there’s ever a potential guy, he’ll know from the outset what he’s getting from me, and there won’t be any surprises later on when we’re deeply in love and one of us gives in just so we don’t have to part, which leads to problems later on, but I digress.

So, just so we’re clear, I don’t have any deep-seeded issues about being childless.  I’m not trying to convince myself.  (Although, in part, I am trying to convince you I AM FINE WITH THIS, SO PLEASE TAKE THE HINT).

The other day, after hours of “should I or shouldn’t I”, I posted this link on Facebook.  As I said earlier, eloquence about this subject is hard to come by for some reason.  I found this post not only summed up what I feel, but I had been told (either word for word, or in some variation) over half of the “what not to say to childless women” found on the list.  Later on that night, my name was tagged in another post.  This post.  Now since there was no preamble or explanation as to why I was tagged, I assume the person tagging wanted me to read it, so I can only assume she still believes that when I say I’m okay being childless, I’m like the author and sometimes feel bereft and alone.  Of course that frustrates me.  That implies I don’t know my own mind.  It is becasue of responses like that I feel more discussion on the topic needs to be had.  Please don’t create drama in my life.  I don’t feel empty, or bereft.  Like I said, this choice was option number 1.  I came about this logically and on my own. It was not forced upon me.  And just because I don’t and won’t have children of my own does not mean I can’t or won’t impact the next generation, and that suits me just fine.   When people ask me when I’m next going to have kids, I don’t panic, freeze up, or think, “OMG I’m defective!”  I smile and say “never”.  And move on to the next topic – usually.  I feel perfectly adequate.  I am doing just about everything I ever wanted in life, surrounded by some of the best people in the world.   I have reached the point in my life where I am happy with myself, and where I am in life, and instead of trying to diminish that, perhaps people should be lauding it.  It is sometimes hard to get to where I am.

Have you ever made a decision about something – big or small, and once the decision is made, you feel peaceful?  I’ve felt that about a lot of decisions in my life.  Quitting a job, or moving, or switching schools.  And not having kids.

Is that enough?  Have I convinced you?  Do I even need to convince you?  Can you please accept my decision and respect it?

Being childless by choice (number 1) is not a knee-jerk reaction to my current situation in life.  Yes, there are people who say they don’t want kids, but later on they’ve got little gaffers to take care of.  That doesn’t negate other people’s (or my) argument.  Just as we’re allowed to change our mind, we’re allowed to stand firm in our decision.

I feel at peace with my decision.  If you don’t feel peace, perhaps it’s not my decision causing the problem.  Glass houses, friends.

Through the Fire

Let my burden be your burden, and yours be mine. – Ancient spell

I was talking to a good friend today who is walking to the precipice.  She is making one of those choices that, when the final answer is revealed, her life could very well be changed.  That is to go in the direction she wants to go.  I know what that’s like.  I’ve been there.  I was in a job I hated, but couldn’t go job searching because (as one of the reasons I hated it so), I didn’t get time off.  So I had to take a giant leap of faith and quit that job.  I was only able to do it because my roommate at the time so encouraged me to do so and assured me rent and other bills would soon be paid, and food would not be scarce.  Not everyone has an opportunity like that.  I quit my job, took some planned vacation, temped for a week or so, and had a permanent job that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) before the end of the month.  But I had support.  Most everyone I knew understood the job I quit was draining me, and the only thing that had kept me there for so long (almost 5 years) was the wonderful people and friends I had made along the way.

From that decision, other things opened up in my life.  I was able to take a course (my oft-mentioned, and nerdery-inducing Shakespeare course).  That was instrumental in my growth not only as an actor/person, but as a writer/director.  I became bolder, encouraged by my new bosses, and genuinely felt I could grow in my position and my skill, and that they would support it.

So did I go through fire?  Yes.  It was a hard decision, not knowing when I would find permanent work.  And when I did find this job, for the first half dozen months or more, I was only part time, so I had to supplement my income in other ways.

This was not the only event in my life that I “walked through fire”.  When previously encouraging roommate became not so encouraging, but harsh, and frightening, and everything else that caused me to lose sleep, get high blood pressure and everything else, I had to leave, but I didn’t know where I could go, etc.  But again, I had help.  My friends were so supportive, so encouraging, so empathetic, that when I felt the less safe at home, I at least had safety within my friends.

I’m not finished living, so I’m not finished these trial by fires.  They will keep popping up, and if I want to keep this pattern of growth, then I’ve got to walk through them.  But no one wants to walk through this fires alone.  And no one should.  There will be fires to walk through that are so personal, it’s hard for friends and family to understand, but they will still support you.

That is the benefit of living in community with people.  And I don’t mean “being active in your community” although I highly recommend that as well.  It means sharing your life with people.  Allowing other people to share their life with you.  I think some of us are in danger of losing this.  Social media brings us together in amazing, exciting ways, but it also lulls us into a false sense of togetherness sometimes.  We need to learn to straddle the line.

I know that when I next walk through the proverbial fire, my friends will be there walking beside, and behind me.  They know I will be there for them when it’s their turn.  It is a huge sense of relief, to know that in our hardest moments, the burden is made lighter by their efforts.  Growth does come from individual effort, but I believe some of the best growth comes when your friends and family are shouldering some of the burden.

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