I will say that my poop joke didn't go over nearly as well as I thought it would!
IF you go to Green Lake, I gotta say: you really missed out if you didn't come. And, no. I don't mean you missed out because you didn't hear me speak. Union Gospel Mission's Art Therapy program showed up with tons of great art and fascinating stories and did the hard work of hanging the show. The Bruised Hearts Revue played some swinging, toe tapping, western music filled with beautiful lyrical content. I had a great time as did my family. There were even art supplies provided for the kids to fill their own wall in the gallery.
And now... the script I wrote myself. I memorized the whole thing and was able to speak without notes (a la the Moth!). Brendan took video that I will try to post. The video taught me that I should stand up straighter! And, please, laugh at my jokes, wouldja?
I am so happy to participate in this art night. These events have been very special to me over my 15 years attending this church. I helped plan them for many years and ran point for a few. I also have shared my own artistic efforts. When I was 18 and dancing for Pacific Northwest Ballet, I danced right there on the subject of Love and made eyes at my boyfriend whom I married 4 years later. A couple years after that I showed a painting which was the product of my self-led art therapy (before I knew art therapy was a thing) to process and mourn the loss of my first baby to miscarriage. And, now, I'm here behind a microphone.
I was invited to participate in the planning of this event and decided that I had too many other things requiring my attention. 4 of those things have names, Ezra, Ivo, Hazel Belle, and Bran, my children. As the event flyers were posted and requests for submissions were going around, I felt a tug. Art, my desire to produce it and roll in it, has a place of permanent residence in my heart. But, motherhood, busyness, illness, etc. have really put a damper on it for the last few years in particular. And, you should know about me, that by 20, a stage accident led to a pretty serious injury that suddenly ended my ballet career. That left me in a very weird, complicated relationship with Art. Imagine: my whole life I loved Art, believed in it's importance for all people and in me, and I was surrounded by the ballet world. I had this perfect way to engage it all. I had intensely trained. Then, I was dropped down into this other world, the normal world with the muggles, and I can't do it anymore. So I was forced to struggle with these questions: Is Art still that important to me? Should I find a new way to do it? And for 14 years now, I've wrestled with whether that part of me should be allowed out. And when my mommy years set in I was able to get busy and distracted enough and love my children enough to just not think about it or even try to do it as much. This past year in particular I have been feeling how much that has hurt. Because I love the storytelling aspect of art. I enjoy looking at the world through an artistic lens, but what I love the most is saying, “Hey, look at this.” I love an audience.
So I haven't done much art, but what I did do during these mommy years was to start blogging. People began talking to me about “my writing” and saying things like, “well, you're a writer...” “WHAT? no. I'm just doing more of that self-led art therapy stuff. I'm just processing and pontificating from a place of safety behind my keyboard.” After a while, though, I really started to enjoy writing more and more and I started to hear a knock. I feel like that after ballet, that Art relationship became so painful to think about that I just stuffed that part of me way, way down. I put my artistic self under a trap door in the floor, locked with a little hook, and rolled out a big, thick, dusty Persian rug over the whole thing. But, she knocks. And as my writing started to develop that self was like, “Hey! I'm still down here! You should let me out! We could totally use this writing thing! And, maybe, oh, I don't know, just maybe, we could love on an audience again!”
So, I let her out, and she immediately repossessed the controls, and I became a writing fiend. Because ballet training doesn't make you very good at moderation. You know, ballerinas aren't really known for loving ambiguity. “Oh, let's just create, and just see what happens!” No. We're like this is how we do ballet and we will be the best someday. So I immediately came up with this training program filled with goals, and practices, and on and on. And, mostly, I've loved it. Because Art fills me up. It inflates me, makes me feel like I'm fully occupying myself. I feel animated as in alive. And, you know, I'm a Believer in Jesus, and I know that I'm filled with the Holy Spirit and that there is no God but God. Back when the ballet stuff fell apart and even still though less frequently, people would ask me or imply that maybe I liked ballet too much. Maybe it was becoming an idol, and maybe that's why God let the ballet thing crash. And, I gotta tell you, that question buried a deep fear in me that the artistic desires that I have are selfish, and wrong, idolatrous. Naturally, that has made trying to engage it all the more complicated. But, as I get older through years, but also through life experiences and spiritual gowth, seeing how amazingly loving and huge God is, I am coming to the conclusion or at least the next landing pad) that God is honored and praised by my using the love and creative skills that He gave me, and so I am trying to be less afraid of being a whole person, of engaging Art. But it is hard.
So, back to, I felt a tug. I emailed Katie, who in addition to being all the wonderful things she is, is my sister-in-law. And that's good because I probably would have been to scared to ask anyone else, and I honestly thought the answer would be “not this time.” The question was could I maybe have some mic time to do a little storytelling... or something... And, to my joy and terror, she said “Sounds great!” Well, then I went like this [BLANK STARE] because I had no stinkin' clue what I should tell! I sat down at the laptop more than once to get started. I had stories of backstage excitement and audition embarrassments from my dancing days. I was really obsessed for some reason with trying to describe and expound upon my first existential crisis at age 6... not sure what THAT was all about. And those are all pretty good stories, but none of it was feeling right. I really wanted to have a tie-in to this theme of BeLonging, and everything I wrote just felt a little forced. This whole time I kept saying to God, if you want me to get up there, if I'm going to try to do this Art stuff again, I need you to tell me what to say, and I really believed that he would... or wouldn't and that I could always just squirrel out!
Fast-forward to this past weekend. By Saturday night, I was terribly sick. My kids go to three different schools, so we have a diverse influence in our home: three sets of teachers, three sets of traditions, and three sets... of viruses and bacteria. Our poor family is like this massive petri dish accepting donations from ALL over. So I had this bad upper respiratory thing going on from preschool, then a stomach thing appeared, I think from 2nd grade, and the piece de resistance: friggin strep throat from Kindergarten. And let me tell you, strep throat is my kryptonite. One of the symptoms for me is frequent bouts of weeping, and I would rather (and I know what I'm saying because I did it 4 times) go through unmedicated childbirth or break an ankle than have friggin strep throat! All through my three days of bedridden illness I had THIS, the mic moment, in mind, and I thought, “well, there goes that. I'm not going to have any time to come up with anything, and it's not like that was going well. So, at least now I have a better excuse to give Katie.” And with that I think I was mentally attempting to get that girl back down under the rug.
Then, I woke up on Wednesday morning, and I thought of all the ways my period of sickness kind of answered my prayers for God to give me something to share. And, no, I am not here to breathe strep throat upon you all; my antibiotics took care of that. I thought about how I could tell some stories about coping with a sick mom in a family of 6, or about the horrible fight that handsome boyfriend now husband and I had in our sickness and health moment, or the comic tragedy of taking two children and myself to the doctor's office while suffering from sudden, uncontrollable... ailments. While I settled back into a somewhat healthier body, my artsy self quietly settled back in behind the controls, and I sat back down at the laptop as soon as I could.
So, what you have just sat through is what came out. Nothing about it has felt forced. And here is the BeLonging tie-in:
No matter what, I belong to God. Me with a lost ballet career. Me with a lost baby. Me with friggin strep throat and a family of 6. It all belongs to God. And the skills, love, desires that he has given to me belong to me, and no matter how many times I try to hide under a trap door, I'll always be longing to be let out.
Thank you so much.