Head – Skillet – BLAMMO!: Creativity, Play, “The Road Less Traveled”, and Forgiveness

For friends who follow me on Facebook or those who have found my blog through internet magic, you may have picked up on some soul-searching I’ve been doing over the last 6/7 months or so.  It’s a never-ending process and I’ve always been contemplative but circumstances are such that I spend a lot more time on my own and a lot more time occupying an inward-looking soul-space than I used to (soul-space sounds funny, but it’s so much more than just brainspace).  This has led to a lot of bigger questions and very few answers – which I have come to believe is how life works; there are always more questions than answers and we should always be asking them.

I’ve posted a few vaguebooky things to social media about feeling like the Universe is hitting me over the head with an iron skillet. To be clear: this isn’t a bad thing. In fact – it’s probably a good thing!  A dear ladyfriend of mine once shared the idea (not in these exact words) that if you are not listening closely enough and not fully following your path, the Universe will start making it rather clear what it wants by hitting you over the head repeatedly with undeniable signs, as if to say “DO THIS! DO THIS! DO THIS!”

Lately, I’ve been getting blaring signals that 1) I need to be pursuing more creativity in my life, 2) I need to challenge myself, and 3) I need to release emotional luggage that I am still holding on to.

I’m a skeptically superstitious person with Catholic roots – and any Catholic/”recovering” Catholic/ex-Catholic who tells you Catholics are *not* superstitious is lying (I mean look at the accounts of apparitions for goodness sake).  So when themes pop up repeatedly in a short amount of time – I don’t discount it as fully coincidental and look for the connections.

The other week, I had a really useful Tarot reading. I don’t want to delve too much into the details of that, but basically the cards were encouraging me to feed my creative side because I’m not being challenged and am bored.  They were saying “do the thing you haven’t been doing” and “take a nontraditional path” – that it may be difficult, but it will be worth it.  Very interesting for where I am at this juncture and while I’m not going to run out and do things based on a Tarot reading, it has given me a lot to chew on.

Then this week, there was a day when I saw many things that said “trust your heart” or “trust your story” – literally. Memes and articles and artwork etc.. My tattoo says “Trust your heart, and trust your story” and it is a life mantra of mine, a reminder to stay on my path; so when I hear or see either phrase, it grabs my attention. I’ve honestly never seen it so many times in one 24 hour block. I also received messages from a few friends that day asking me questions about life direction – putting things I’ve been thinking about on-and-off back in the forefront of my brain.

Head – skillet – BLAMMO!

That night, on my way to yoga I met an adorable 10 month big-old pittie (y’all know my love for the big pitties!) and after chatting with the owner for a minute and engaging with the dog, I learned the dog shares a name with a person who is problematic for me and a person who was occupying brainspace this week after being quiet for a while; I still played with the dog (of course) and we parted ways. Once at yoga, the teacher started with a personal story about a difficult person/situation in *her* life, a choice she made that day to let unhelpful emotions surrounding it go, and then encouraged us to all focus on letting go of something during practice.  I think I started laughing at one point during her story because I saw where this was going and was tickled by the timing.

Head – skillet – BLAMMO!

Yesterday, I had a meaningful conversation with a dear colleague/friend about creativity and she became the fourth (or maybe fifth) person in the last few months to bring up The Artist’s Way and encourage me to do it.  Then today, I spent the morning overseeing a series of interviews in which a colleague discussed the themes of creativity, play, “the road less traveled”, and forgiveness. Over. And over. And over. This was not on the docket. These interviews could have touched on any themes. Could have talked about anything. And yet these were the things that came up in each of the seven interviews.  Even the theme of “play” struck a chord because I saw a performance last night in which a sense of “play” was very evident; I had gone to bed questioning whether I still had that same ability to “play” or whether I’d become stodgy in my personal approach to acting and character building.

Head – skillet – BLAMMO!

Life is in the big things but it’s also in the details. Themes, signs, signals, directions, coincidences, skillets – whatever you want to call them, I think it’s my job to not only keep listening, but to start making bold choices and intentionally move forward onto a more creative and playful, less predictable, wholly forgiving path.

Head – skillet – OK! OK! I get it. I’m working on it. I really am now working on it.

Happy Birthday, Harry

Today marks a significant and much-celebrated day of the modern calendar year. Today is the birthday of The Boy Who Lived.  Today is the birthday of Harry Potter*. And today Harry turns 34. Which makes me feel both old and young at the same time.  Old because I first read The Sorcerer’s Stone in 1999 for a freshman year of high school book report – which seems ages ago; and young because I was 14 when I first read The Sorcerer’s Stone so I always thought that Harry – who is age 11 when the series starts – was younger than me. I’m sure the movies didn’t help with this perception of age/time since they were made years after the books began with actors years younger than I.

When I started the series, only the first three books were published and I devoured them.  And I fell in love. Hardcore in love. Insanely, crazily-dedicated in love.  After the series garnered a bit of hype and book stores wanted to cash in, I would wait with friends at the Barnes & Noble in Bel Air, MD or go with my aunt/fairy godmother (and one of my best friends) to an independent book store and we would wait to get our pre-ordered copies. Excruciatingly exciting hours were spent in anticipation of grasping on to the latest in the series – touching the cover, feeling the book’s weight and opening to that first page…

We would wear our Harry Potter glasses and put lightning bolt tattoos on our foreheads and chatter away about what we think may happen; who our favorite characters were; who we thought should be together, etc.  And then we would take our books to our respective homes – or sometimes a diner – and I would read. And read and read and read.  There would be no savoring; savoring would be for later. For now I needed to KNOW.

I went to lengths to finish books as fast as I could. One summer my family gave my much younger cousin the newest book (Goblet of Fire, perhaps?) for his birthday and because we happened to be on vacation with his family at the time, I stole the freshly unwrapped gift and speed-read that sucker before he could start. I was older and a faster reader so it made sense in my brain and didn’t feel that rude at the time…  After I turned 16 and had a job, if there was a Harry Potter book release, I would schedule myself out of work for a day or two so I could do nothing but read and preserve a perfect plot, unspoiled.  As the books grew longer, the necessary vacation days grew as well.

I loved these books. I loved the nervousness and butterflies that came with every new book release. I loved immersing myself in the world created by J.K. Rowling. And I loved, loved, loved my wizarding fictional friends.

I am absolutely a Harry Potter fan and I bordered on fanatical for a time. But as much as I love the books, I have never done a complete re-read. I have tried and I have always failed. In thinking about it, I realized why: because – without trying to sound dramatic – with the end of the Harry Potter series came the end of my childhood.

The Deathly Hallows was released the summer of 2007 – this was my first summer of Real Life. I had graduated from college with a theatre degree in the spring and had no clue what to do (with a theatre degree I know that is shocking!). I was living away from home with most of my best college friends busy and scattered and my best high school friends an hour away.  I was working a “real” job I HATED (I would often refer to this job as a Dementor). My youngest brother had graduated from high school and the first of my two parents turned 50. My beloved childhood dog, Dodger – who was my best friend since 6th grade and my soul-puppy – died while I was not home so I never got to say goodbye. And the Harry Potter series ended.

With my family getting undeniably older, the end of my planned educational path, the death of my pup, and the completion of a series I’d grown up with – I very much felt my childhood was over, that growing up was for real, and it was happening to me whether I wanted it to or not. I also felt that being a responsible adult was terrible if it included things like sitting in a two hour commute on the jammed-up beltway to get home from a soul-crushing job where you were doing too much and paid far too little. It was a rough summer. I was lonely and sad a lot – which was not something I was used to being and that was an adjustment in and of itself.  With time and distance, you get a little perspective and I realize things were not nearly as bad as they could have been and that my issues that summer were just growing pains. But it was all very real and very hard at the time. So the thought of going back to that last book – remembering the black cloud I seemed to live in during the summer of 2007 – that’s never been inviting and put me off the idea of re-reading.

Fast-forward 7 years and life now is not without its challenges but it is very, very good and I am the happiest and most at-peace-with-myself that I have been in a long time. There are absolutely things I am looking to improve upon or change – and there always will be – but I am content at my core.

So on this 34th birthday of Harry Potter – 5 years my senior, I’ll shamelessly add – I’ve decided it is high time that I revisit Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and fall in love all over again.  Today, I raise a glass of butterbeer to Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling and say: let the great re-read of the epic tale of Harry Potter commence!

Good to see you again, old friend.

Good to see you again, old friend.

 

And I’m still waiting for my invitation to Hogwarts…

 

*July 31st is also the birthday of author J.K. Rowling