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Today, my home theatre released a beautiful video called “Home” that one of our amazingly talented members (who is a wonderful friend) put together. The message is simple: we’re on hold now, but we’ll be back. You can view the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=_yX-Oh_aFLg&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0e8i063ZMv-rLsGH1seNfVpr7BggIaojtzyr-O4oN8HODr-TQ-Yn_jjHM

The thought is the same throughout the theatre community, worldwide. We’re all dark now (not open, for those of you who don’t speak theatre) and we’re all trying to figure out what to do next to stay alive, to thrive, to be ready to welcome our patrons back with open arms as soon as it’s safe. We will be among the last to reopen, and rightfully so. Putting hundreds of people in close quarters together for hours is a really bad idea right now. We need to think about this, to restructure, to figure out our “for now” reality, and we are.

It’s tough. It’s tough for everyone, I know, but theatre is on my mind right now, so there it is.

We’ve been calling our season ticket holders just to touch base and to see if they’re okay. Everyone I have spoken to misses the theatre. They miss our shows and can’t wait to come back, although they want to be safe and want us to be safe as well. They understand and they’ve been lovely, asking about my own family and all.

I love my theatre. It’s my second home where I can do what I love and they accept me for who I am. I can be me. I love my theatre family and I miss them like crazy; I’ve met some of the most amazing people there who will be lifelong friends. I miss performing. I miss doing hair and makeup. I miss the energy of a show, there’s absolutely nothing like it in the world. I ALMOST miss hauling a bat-on-a-string across the stage and having it malfunction in more than one show, but that’s a story for another day. In the past, my theatre has probably, quite literally, helped to save my life. While the selfish part of me would love to throw those doors wide open right now and just pick up where we left off eight weeks ago, I know we can’t for a while. My heart hurts so much about this  sometimes.

BUT… we will be back. We will perform again. We will make people laugh, cry, question, and feel, again.

We will be back. I love you, family.

 

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zoom
/zo͞om/
verb
(especially of a car or aircraft) move or travel very quickly.
“we watched the fly zooming about”
2.
(of a camera) change smoothly from a long shot to a close-up or vice versa.
“the camera zoomed in for a close-up of his face”
noun
a camera shot that changes smoothly from a long shot to a close-up or vice versa.
“the zoom button”
exclamation
1. used to express sudden fast movement.
“then suddenly, zoom!, he’s off”
Google Dictionary
Two months ago, these were all of my definitions of the word zoom, but it has, in a very short time, become so much more.
If you work from home, you’re no doubt familiar with Zoom (capital Z), the video conferencing website. Companies and groups all over the world are using Zoom, and other video conferencing companies/apps like Google Meet or Facebook video calls, to conduct business and hold meetings while friends and family are using it to connect in this time of social distancing.
For this, I am profoundly grateful.
Now, I will stress this: it’s not the same. You can’t hug or kiss anyone, shake hands, fist bump, etc. You can’t whisper a secret in a friend’s ear or snuggle a new baby, but it’s better than nothing.
Here are some ways that I’ve been using video conferencing in the last 6 1/2 weeks.
  • An Easter video chat with Oldest Child and Amazing Girlfriend.
  • Weekly board meetings with my theatre. I’m not a big board meeting fan (even though it’s necessary), but it’s SO good to see and talk to my friends.
  • A long-overdue chat with my Italian bestie. We’ve never done that before, I’ve never been very comfortable with video chats, but we had a lovely time on Sunday. This will be a new normal, especially since she’s monitoring my work in Italian. ❤
  • Coloring (or whatever) nights with theatre peeps.
  • Sermon Chats with our church group, where we discuss all sorts of things theological and personal.
  • Check-ins with students. We were using Google Meet, but some students gave out their codes to others and there were some highly inappropriate things that went on, so we’re moving to a more secure platform.
  • Work meetings. I love my coworkers, they’re amazing people, and meetings that used to be a chore are now a joy.

This virus sucks, that’s for sure, but it would be a hell of a lot worse without this way to connect. I have had some dark times through this, to be sure, but I look forward to those times when I can have a semblance of normalcy.

How are you connecting these days?

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I usually consider myself a pretty good sport. I play by the rules, accept my defeats (mostly), and shake them off. I’m not an obnoxious winner, only a little gloating, especially when I beat Marty in Jeopardy. Hey, if you beat Marty in Jeopardy you would gloat, too.

But I’m having trouble being a good sport right now. I’m a person who craves authenticity, realness, hands-on experiences and that’s not happening right now, nor is the possibility. I love the idea that zoos and museums are streaming live animal cams and virtual tours; I think that’s fabulous. These are things that I would normally watch and plan to visit, or put it on my wish list to visit, like the Louvre or the Bronx Zoo. But right now, I can’t and I don’t have the heart to watch.

There was a woman on the news yesterday, from somewhere in my area, who was supposed to leave for Hawaii yesterday, I think, with close friends. They had been planning the trip for seven years. Yep, seven. Of course, their trip was cancelled because of COVID-19 and so she made the best of it. She made several videos as if she were on the cruise, folding towels into animals, pretending that she was on the deck drinking lovely tropical drinks, wearing big, floppy, cruise hats. Of course, she was disappointed, but she really made an effort to turn it around.

A friend of mine posted a video of having Spring Break in her backyard with her kids, to the tune of “Vacation” by the Go Gos. It was adorable. It was so much fun to watch. I don’t know if she was actually planning on going anywhere for Spring Break, but if her plans were cancelled, she sure didn’t look defeated. I admire that.

I don’t have it in me to do that. I’m doing what I need to do, socially isolating, only going out for absolute necessities, staying as active as possible, but, damn, this sucks. I don’t have any immediate travel plans, just an overnight in Stratford, Ontario at the end of July. That’s still up in the air, whether that happens or not, but there’s hope. Right now, though, it feels like nothing good will ever happen again. I can’t watch those live streams because it’s not real. I’m not there, I’m not experiencing those things and, honestly, right now, it doesn’t feel like I will.

Now, there are some good things coming of this quarantine. Youngest Child has us all to himself and I get more impressed with him every day. He’s an amazing kid. He’s still messy, but one step at a time. I’ve been cleaning out closets and cupboards, throwing out useless things and preparing other things to donate. We have our health. We are still getting paid. We are still teaching. We have everything that we need, including toilet paper. We are fortunate beyond words, I know that. This is another thing to not point out to me. I get it. I’m not a good sport about this, I know, so please don’t tell me to look on the bright side or anything like that. Do you think I haven’t said that to myself? I am able to meet with dear friends for brunch and Coloring Night on Zoom, Tap Club on Facebook Live.   My theatre board meetings are on Zoom as well. Church, Sermon Chat,  and all of Holy Week are online. I may never go to church without my couch blanket again.

I’m not a good sport about this, I know, so please don’t tell me to look on the bright side or anything like that. Do you think I haven’t said that to myself? My inner Amanda Wingfield is coming out: “Nothing offends folks more than…” That being said, my theatre is still heavy on my mind, as well as all of our sister theatres. We’re all struggling to continue to do the thing we love. My show was cancelled, as well as many other shows. All of those dreams are gone. Honestly, theatre keeps me going through the year. It’s what I look forward to, what I need, and it’s not happening for the foreseeable future. The thought of not being able to even be in the building for months makes me anxious. I want my make-up room, the ghost light, the stage. I want to hug my friends who accept my weirdness, who love me for who I am. I can’t do that and I’m not okay.

I’ve always had a phobia about feeling trapped (let’s go back to childhood trauma, shall we?) and here I am: Trapped. Now, I do have a loving family to be trapped with, a killer garden planned, and neighbor cats who think they live here and bring other cats to visit. I can walk in my neighborhood. I’m freaking (desperately wanting to say the other word but won’t here) wanting to accept everything, to be at peace in my mind, but I’m not. I’m not. And I want you to know that it’s okay to say that, to not fool yourself into thinking that it’s not okay if you don’t feel that way. Be real with your feelings.

Will it ever be okay? Sure, someday. We’ll have a vaccine or a cure at some point. Things will open back up. We will, thank God, travel again, hug again, congregate again.

But right now, I’m not a good sport about it. I hate this. And that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay.

 

 

 

 

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We’re 15 days into the COVID-19 craziness since everything started shutting down here in Michigan. Some thoughts I have.

Good Things:

  • Sleeping. Marty are I are working Monday through Friday and putting in longer hours than we do normally, just because everything has to be answered and checked online instead of verbally. Every student gets feedback and that’s tougher to do this way, but I don’t have to be up at 6:00 anymore. I can wake up and post things in my pajamas. I am already used to this.
  • No Student Behavior Issues. This is a fabulous thing. I haven’t had to yell at anyone in more than two weeks. I had one kid act up on a video conference and I just deleted him from the chat. Now that they know I record video conferences, everyone is on their best behavior.
  • Writing. I have time to write! In fact, I’ve almost finished my next book, a sequel to Traveler.
  • Yoga Pants and Leggings. I haven’t worn any other kind of pants for two weeks. I am comfy.
  • Gardening. As I wrote about last week, I’m making a Shakespeare garden and I’ve been able to get that all dug out, plus, I’m enlarging another one of my gardens and making it a spiral garden. It’s going to be awesome. Marty is still scared.
  • Music. Youngest Child regularly serenades us with beautiful piano music. He’s doing well under the circumstances and is channeling some of his cabin fever into music. It’s pretty awesome. (The music, not his cabin fever.)
  • Carry-Out. We are supporting local restaurants twice a week with carry-out. This is wonderful because not only does it get me out of the house and support a local business, I also hate cooking most of the time. It’s a win-win.
  • Deep Cleaning. This is a sort of good thing. I do not enjoy cleaning, but I do enjoy getting rid of clutter, which is necessary. This means that we won’t have to go through quite so much stuff when we move to London, whenever that is. Again, Marty is scared.
  • More Meditation Time. Very necessary.

Bad Things

  • People Are Dying. Seriously, scary amounts of people are dying from this, alone in overcrowded hospitals. Yes, I know that there are people who are recovering as well, and that’s awesome, but we also have never faced anything like this virus and the numbers jump higher every day. Yes, people die from the flu, but we have medicines and vaccines to help with that. We don’t for this virus that kills, percentage-wise, many more people than the flu. Don’t fluff this off.
  • Social Distancing. A necessary evil. I’m introverted, so I don’t regularly go out just to hang out with people, but I do enjoy going places, being out and about. Even my favorite trails in the woods are closed. Picking up local carry-out has become very exciting, even though people in line are standing very far apart and only one person goes into the restaurant at a time. It’s kind of a weird experience.
  • No Theatre/Church. Self explanatory. I miss my friends. I miss their hugs.
  • Scared Students. Kids are nervous. They miss school, they miss their routine and their friends. Hug your kids tightly, they need it.
  • PEOPLE WHO WON’T STAY AWAY FROM OTHER PEOPLE. Seriously, there are still people gathering in places and not paying attention. God forbid, they spread the virus to someone who will die from it. I get that they may not be worried about themselves, but really, how stupid can you be? People were having a full-on PARTY by my sister/cousin’s house a few days ago. C’mon. We’re all bored, we all want to  get together, but this is where maturity (or lack of) kicks in. Idiots. Batman Slapping Robin Meme - Imgflip

I hope all of my readers around the world are safe and sound. Wash your hands and stay home. If you’re any kind of essential worker, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are appreciated.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts with me. This is a global thing; let’s stay connected. Love you all.

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Unless you’ve been meditating in the desert for weeks like Jared Leto, you know that we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. How long will this last? No one knows, but we can make it better by doing what is recommended: staying away from people as much as possible and washing our hands. It seems trivial to some, but my dear friend in Italy has seen just how bad this is. She and her family are fine, thank God, but so many are not. There are hundreds of deaths every day in places where there used to be such joy. I watch video from Rome, Florence, and Venice and remember how full of life those cities were when I visited just five years ago. The streets are empty, the obituaries are many. This is serious business, folks.

I don’t think I really have to explain the term “social distancing” since the entire world is doing it. If you’re not right now, you should be so we can get rid of this stupid virus and hug people again. I don’t know about you, but I miss hugging my friends. I hug Marty, obviously, but he does not want to be hugged all the time. Hugging Youngest Child is like trying to hug a rock right right now and he makes funny noises when I do. It will be good to hug other people again. Someday.

Like everyone else, we’re trying to find things to fill all of the extra time at home. Of course, there are always things that should be done, but aren’t pleasant. I’m forcing myself to do some of that. Things like scrubbing the kitchen cabinets. Or individually dusting all of the books in a bookshelf and then moving the bookshelf to clean the years of dust bunnies behind and underneath. I know, I know, I’m enjoying myself way too much, but it has to be done. Sigh. Sidenote: I hate cleaning. I keep a (mostly) clean house because, well, I don’t want to live in a dirty house and I love it when the house is clean, but I actually hate the process. I used to think I was a domestic person, but I’ve come to realize that I’m not. My mantra is, “Someday, I will hire a maid.”

Youngest Child has also decided that we are going to work out this entire time and that my running and sit-ups aren’t enough, oh, no. In the spirit of Jillian Michaels, he has added push-ups to my routine, six sets of an increasing number every night with a minute rest in between each set. Last night, I made it to six sets of seven. I hurt now. Marty wryly watches me struggle from the couch as the six-foot-tall teenager says that it’s good for us, that we’re going to be “ripped” this summer. Tonight, I’ll be up to six sets of eight. I don’t like push-ups.

Marty and I are also teaching remotely from home, which has been an interesting experience. We have apps that we can use to help us assign work and the students are familiar with the apps, but getting all 100+ of them to go online and do the assigned work is some of the problem. Most are, and they’re doing a great job, but some have limited internet access, even though the school lent out laptops to those who needed one. There are also others who are choosing to not do anything. We are grading their assignments, but at this point, the grades don’t count. The behavior management part of this has been FABULOUS, though. I haven’t written anyone up of kicked them out of my class in a week, although I did turn off a kid’s camera on Zoom yesterday for flipping everyone off. I was not shocked at who did the flipping off, either. It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes in the coming weeks.

There is no theatre right now. That’s something I’m super sad about, as are many people that I know. My cast and I were at least able to perform one weekend of The Glass Menagerie with wonderful reviews before we got shut down and there’s still a possibility that we could have one more performance to record, with no audience, and a cast photo once things settle down. Other theatres around here didn’t even get to open their March shows at all. Many are postponed until at least May or are cancelled outright. And that really, really sucks. I don’t want to get too deeply into that because I’m still having a hard time dealing with it. I know that there are many others in the same boat, but that doesn’t make it any easier. In the meantime, I’m still going over my lines every day, just in case.

With no theatre, I’m trying to focus back on writing, which is a good thing. I’m very close to finishing my sequel to Traveler (which is, by the way, available on Amazon. Hint hint.) and I have have a couple of other projects going as well.

I’m also focusing more on meditation. I’m very much in a learning frame of mind with metaphysical things and this has been a great time to explore, really be quiet, and let it happen. More on that later.

There’s time to read for fun again. I have a long way to go before I catch up to where Marty is, but I’ll try. I have about five books that I’m reading simultaneously at the moment.

Oh! I’m also planning my garden. I’m making a Shakespeare garden, kind of a big deal, with plants that Shakespeare references in his works. There will be a lot of new landscaping and I ordered a bunch of seeds that should be here any time now. I’ll post before and after pictures when things actually begin growing. Marty is scared.

So, what are you doing during this time? Drop a message in the comments or give this post a like. I’d love to hear from you. Reading comments gives me an excuse to not clean the basement.

Stay safe, everyone.

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There are little, beautiful, things that make me smile.

Baby belly laughs. Best thing ever. Hands down.

My husband’s hand on my back at night as we go to sleep.

A random text or Snapchat from one of my boys.

Snuggling with one of my boys.

Messaging with my cousins.

An email or message from Sabrina.

Someone being kind.

A hug between friends.

A silly rehearsal moment

Petting friendly kitties.

Petting any animal.

Random sappy things said by students.

Sunburst through the clouds.

Our Christmas tree, still lit on February 12, by choice.

Dimes.

The thought of being on an airplane, going somewhere.

A lovely quote.

Pictures from days gone by.

Good feedback from a director.

Ocean waves.

A warm, soul-squeezing passage in a book.

A most satisfying piece of a plastic bat. (Only some of you will get this.)

Time to write.

Snow with no snowblower noises.

What makes you smile?

 

 

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I’ve been fending off a depression hole for the last several days. Work has a lot to do with it. When a “hole” is sneaking up on me, I’m usually able to distract myself during work by getting into my teaching, but I can’t this time. I have to fight to stay on task during the work day. (That’s a teaching term, “on task”.) I’ve been lucky enough to not fall completely in it, but it’s looming over my shoulder every minute.

End-of-show depression after a really great experience comes into play with this, too. I just finished one of my favorite show experiences ever and I’m in mourning at the moment.

Getting home and being with my family helps. Dinner with my husband helps. My husband is my endless optimist and also a teacher. He understands what I’m going through. Going to rehearsal also helps. I love rehearsing; I love the challenge and being on stage. I love this director, the actors, and producers I’m working with, so that’s my fun, healing, time. Friends help, including Facebook friends. I asked for cute and funny things yesterday after a particularly bad day and boy, did they deliver! Whether they sent images or private messages, it really hit me in the feels. If I mentioned you, thank you so much. Your thoughts and actions mean a lot to me.

Even with all of the good things, my depression is really hard to shake right now. I’m struggling with what to do and what I want out of my life right now. I need to be happy, or at least, content.

I’ll be in Salem, MA in two weeks, a place of several of my ancestors, to do some research and spend some quiet time by myself. (I will also be memorizing lines, so there’s that. Have you read The Glass Menagerie?) I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to a week away from work and spending some quality time with my family. I’m looking forward to opening a new show in four weeks. I’m looking forward to not thinking about bad behavior and data and scores and parents and posting Content/Language Objectives. I need to meditate, clarify. Seriously.  These are goals.

Depression sucks. Be kind.

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I’ve been really busy with theatre lately and haven’t had much time to write, but that’s a happy problem. More blogs to follow, but in the meantime, I want to share this lovely little quote that I found:

“A certain kind of magic is born when the curtain rises. Intoxicated by the smell of the greasepaint and powered by the glow of the footlights, lovers successfully elope, villains get their just deserts and people die in epic stunts and yet live to tell the tale. Thousands pay to sit and be fooled by illusions and still jump to their feet to applaud despite their gullibility. It’s an inexplicable, delicious, addictive power that keeps people entranced and coming back for more, again and again.”
― Carrie Hope Fletcher, When The Curtain Falls (goodreads.com)

I’m so glad to be a part of this.

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I got a new tattoo a couple of days ago, an early birthday present to myself. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have been adding to my collection over the last five years.

I’m up to 6 now, including the one I had covered up two years ago, and I love, love, love, my body art; it’s an expression of me and who I am. I went back to a shop where I went two years ago that had been recommended by friends. The artist who did my cover-up then was super awesome and I wanted to have him do this new one. Unfortunately, what I wanted wasn’t his style so he referred to another artist in the shop. After viewing the new guy’s work on Instagram, I felt comfortable that he would get it right and set up an appointment.

The tattoo turned out fabulous, just what I wanted, but it was the conversation we had that has been sitting on my brain for the past two days. I won’t tell you all of it, but the gist was that his family had not been supportive of his art when he was growing up. As with a lot of families, though, his family didn’t consider anything having to do with art as a “real” job. Now, this guy is talented. I wouldn’t have let him put his art on my body if he wasn’t. He loves what he’s doing, but I wonder what would have happened if his family had supported his dream, if they had encouraged him to follow his passion rather than quash it. He’s making his own art now, not in the way he originally wanted to, but it fits him at the moment. Still, he has “what-if” moments.

I immediately identified with what he went through. In my first year of college, it was made very clear to me that my aspirations of going into theatre would not be supported and financial assistance was withdrawn. I eventually took the safe route, managed college myself, and got a “real” job, but I often think about how my life would be different if I had been allowed to pursue my dream. Now, I think that Marty and I would still have met and we would have had the same kids because we were meant to, but I might have been happier, less prone to the bouts of depression due to work frustration. I might not have been wishing my life away every year, counting the days until my next break. Is this a grass-is-greener situation? Maybe. I honestly don’t know what would have happened if I had majored in theatre and gone to New York like I had planned. I might not have made it very far in that world, but I would have at least tried. I wasn’t confident enough to really strike out on my own so I put my energy into getting a safe job. Plainly put, I was too afraid to try it by myself. I wish I had been braver.

Now, Youngest Child wants to be a jazz musician. He’s excellent, really, a very good musician, and that’s not just mom-bias talking. I see me-as-the-artist in him, except he’s more confident in his abilities, more proactive in following his path. We are supporting his decision. He’s making contacts that will help him in the future, taking as many private lessons as we can comfortably provide for, and I’m driving him all over the metro area. Is it a lot? Sometimes, but you know what? When I pick him up from a performance or a lesson, he’s happy. He’s doing what he loves to do, he’s challenged, and he’s driven. As a mom, that’s the best outcome I can hope for. Will he make it professionally? I hope so, but if not, at least he will have had the chances and opportunities. (I have a sneaking suspicion that he’ll do well, though.) We made it clear that he will have to support himself as an adult, but he’ll figure it out. We’ll be here for advice if he needs it.

Society tends to look down on kids who want to go into the arts, but, ironically, we pay billions of dollars into the entertainment industry every year. The arts are so important: music, theatre, painting, sculpting, these things all take an enormous amount of talent, yet parents discourage their kids from going into them full-time. I get it, it’s hard to get insurance or job security in the early days, not to mention a retirement plan, when one is paying their dues, but is that more important than being happy with life? Some people are willing to work a job that isn’t their passion and deal with it fine and then there are the rest of us who find it difficult to fit into that mold.

What is the point of all of this? If you have a kid who is interested in going into the arts, let them try. If they’re terrible at it, that will be evident soon enough and they’ll try something else. Relax and be supportive of their dreams even if you don’t think they have a snowball’s chance in hell of making a living at it. Don’t make them wonder, “what if?” later on because you squelched their ambition. They may not get there, but they will have the memory that you supported them and believed in what they wanted to do and that, my friends, is worth a whole lot more. You might be surprised at what happens next.

 

 

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I just closed another show yesterday and it was a good one. If you ever get the chance to see You Can’t Take It With You by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, do it. Written in 1937, the message is still relevant today. I won’t got through the whole play for you (but you should!), but I wanted to share with you something that resonated with me. When I say resonated, it hit me right in the gut the first time I heard it. Hard. It coincides with what I’m going through right now, life decisions that I’m making. Here’s a little speech from Grandpa Vanderhoff in Act III to help you understand. He’s speaking to Mr. Kirby, a businessman with indigestion and anxiety whose son wants to marry Grandpa’s granddaughter. Mr. Kirby is against the match because Grandpa’s family, the Sycamores, are not the typical family. They don’t hold regular jobs and happiness is their main goal rather than the “American Dream” of making money. They’re not rich, but they’re really a happy family. Grandpa understands that Mr. Kirby is unhappy with his life, even though he is incredibly successful, but Mr. Kirby won’t see it. After learning that Mr. Kirby had originally aspired to be a trapeze artist and a saxophone player as a young man but put those dreams away when his father “knocked it out of him”, Grandpa tells him this:

“Where does the fun come in? Don’t you think there ought to be something more, Mr. Kirby? You must have wanted more than that when you started out. We haven’t got too much time you know- any of us.

“How many of us would be willing to settle when we’re young for what we eventually get? All those plans we make… what happens to them? It’s only a handful of the lucky ones that can look back and say that they even came close. So… before they clean out that closet, Mr. Kirby, I think I’d get in a few good hours on that saxophone.” (Hart and Kaufman)

I’m at the point in my life where I need the few good hours on my proverbial saxophone. I need the fun. I need to not wish my life away. I feel like I’m on the brink of change, I just don’t know what it is.

Maybe you don’t know either. Maybe you recognize that your life isn’t going the way you want it. It doesn’t mean that you’re not grateful for being employed or whatever, just that  you recognize that you need to make some changes in your life because it’s not your path.

I’m working on my path.

I’m curious. Are you happy? Or have you realized that you’ve been sacrificing your happiness for something else? Share if you’d like, support is good. Comments are welcome.

Much love to you all.

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