Posted in Facebook:
Strap in, I'm doing this early.
Mostly because my schedule year is already, essentially done. The work I have to do involves mostly meetings and barricading myself to my computer to create content, plans and proposals for 2019. And because my year is "done", I'm feeling reflective. And while you may make some shady comment about long Facebook statuses, fuck you, I'm doing this for me and for those who matter. You get you post your content how you want, I get to publish whatever personal essay I want out in the universe. You don't like it, don't read.
This year has been trying. I might argue it's been one of the most trying years I've ever had, but then I think if super pivotal years what were trying and bad (2016, 2013, 2012, 2009). And this year wasn't a *bad* year, it was trying. It was hard, it was a challenge, it was a test, but it wasn't bad. I feel appropriate that I should have this conversation now, almost a year later after having the same conversation with someone we'll call a "fallen showgirl". She was drunk and high when I saw her last January when she unloaded her past year of shit storms onto me (a divorce, a drug habit, homelessness). I can't argue with her, she's having a hard year. THAT is a hard year. After I play therapist for 45 minutes, she catches herself: "but you understand! You had a hard year too!" I had to shake my head for a second, because 2017 for me wasn't a "hard year", it was just hard work. Moreover hard work that paid off! And then I realized, that most people don't know the difference.
As I sit typing, what was planned for this specific date would have been my day off after opening the first two days of "Bally-Hoo" with High Society Cabaret. Cancelling that show is my most recent heartbreak. But mere days after cancelling the show, new information came to me that would have made putting this show on stage, had we decided to push through, nearly impossible. I know what that would have looked like, and it wouldn't have been good for anyone, and it would have been a crushing low in the history of our company. We did, in fact, dodge a bullet. I know that now. And for me that's been the whole year, just dodging bullets; almost doing a thing, working to do a thing, to have it suddenly taken away; but then seeing that had I decided to be too proud or too stubborn, it would have cost me dearly. This year has taught me some very valuable lessons on deeper levels that I only know how to learn in my way:
➡️Empathy: The best thing you can do when you've been hurt, is to feel what the person who has wronged you is feeling. Sometimes it is the hardest fucking thing to do. Especially if you are *that* upset. I have learned so much about myself through others' emotions. And that's not to say you necessarily forgive that person, and you *definitely* don't forget. But if you make this an automatic practise (and it takes practise) and it will provide you with solutions, or at the very least, closure. It has also helped me make decisions concerning the well-being of other people. I have made the choices and done the work I've done with High Society Cabaret because I thought of what my artists might experience as part of my operations. I've been where they are, fuck I still am where they are, and I now feel a responsibility to set the new status quo in arts work and creation.
➡️Humility: Speakeasy at Revival was a long time dream for Belle Epoque and I in the expansion of High Society Cabaret. I knew on the production side of things, it would be a cakewalk. If you've ever seen one of our full productions, running the most base version of Speakeasy is child's play by comparison. Our two biggest hurdles were outreach and income. Both greatly influence the other to put me between a rock and a hard place in running this monthly. I need money to reach the guaranteed paying audiences, but I need those audiences to buy to get the money to reach that audience. This is not an unfamiliar problem. Because of this, I did not make budget 5 out of 11 Speakeasy shows. Failure is not new to me, but this was a new level. I can't remember a time I failed this consistently. But pre-set dates and a 2018 plan kept me from throwing in the towel and I had to endure it, then do it again, to fail again. But with each failure, as Allen Kaeja recently said to a class I was a part of "was a nugget of truth." I may have failed, but I have been collecting nuggets, and I can't wait to make some big plans around Speakeasy at Revival for 2019.
➡️Patience: I should start by saying I am not naturally a patience person, and I am far more patient with others than I am with myself. And this year my patience was tested, and then it physicalized in my body, and for the first time in a while I didn't really like myself. The plans I made earlier this year were not on schedule nor were they yielding the results I wanted. This made me over work to over compensate, which meant my training and my personal care took a severe back seat. I often heard a ticking clock and all I could register were swirling bodies who seemed to be doing more than me, better than me, faster than me and with more recognition than me. I longed for a version of celebrity and recognition as validation for the hard work I was doing. I would go through bouts of depression too overwhelmed by everything everyone seemed to be and everything I was not. I felt my own progress stall, I had trouble measuring my accomplishments and beat myself up for not weidling the results I wanted in any given situation. I gained weight in ways I was not happy with and that made me hate the body I have prized. At one point I felt I was grasping at straws, finding corny inspirational memes, turning to the wrong people and divulging too much in hopes I could find another option to get me where I so desperately wanted to be, and to connect to the people I thought I wanted to be like. I entered dangerous territory when I started comparing myself and my work to others, which took me into a deep depression I haven't experienced in years! I'm arguably still recovering.
But out of all that came a deeper learning of lessons I've always known, and now stepping back and away from all the events of 2018, I'm watching hovering tetris blocks aligned with their respective spaces. And those blocks will only drop when it's time. There's not much I can do about when it happens, except set the conditions I can control just right to allow them to slide smoothly into place.
This all now feels like pointillism: up close it's a mass of chaotic coloured dots, seemingly placed at random, often messy and haphazard. But the message happens when you step back, and see the dots organize to form and shape. When you work in dots it's easy to forget the form, but you cannot create form without the dots. This year was a lesson in not getting hung up on dots.
Thank you to everyone who showed their love and support this year. You taught me that kindness is a commodity that should remain free and open exchange. Thank you to those you supported and were patient with me was I went through some of the most financially trying times I've experienced in a good long while! I make the promise to pay it forward whenever I can. Thank you to the show family I have in High Society Cabaret, my work wife, my burly children, my peers and friends who have truly shaped me this year. I am still standing and fighting because of you all. Thank you to my inner circle, near and far, the people who see me for who I am, warts and all, and love me all the same. And thank you of course to my family and my partner, who are solid ground to jump from as well as a soft place to fall.
I will be in and out of social media for the next couple of weeks as I reorient, get some much needed work done, and actually work to enjoy a holiday season for the first time in I don't know when. I am always available through messages, email or text. I can't wait to take what this year has brought and put it into action! xoxo