Monthly Archives: March 2012

Building a House of Brick ~ Respecting My Boundaries

I’m sitting in my morning meditation, my wee pup, Bailey curled up on her cushion beside me.  It’s a peaceful morning and although the sun isn’t shining, it’s not raining either and the neighbour’s gardener hasn’t brought out his industrial strength leaf blower yet.  Nothing but my monkey brain to wrestle with this morning.  I smile as I realize I’m mind-writing this blog as I meditate.  My best writing quite often comes when I’m not writing.

Image

Just as soon as I become aware of how peaceful it is a loud rumble fills the room.  A semi-truck has driven through my living room right into my stillness room, the engine booming and reverberating until I can feel my blood thrumming with the noise.  Free radicals of noise pollution.  I hear Bailey perk up beside me.

I bring my awareness back to my breath, breathing in one of my favourite Blessings from St. Theresa of Avila.

May I be at peace

May my heart remain open

May I be aware of my true nature

May I be healed

May I be a source of healing to others

May I dwell in the breath of God.

Twice more I breath in the blessing.  My attention is pulled to the engine outside my house as it belches and coughs and seems to become even louder.  A tiny tentacle of realization slithers and sinks down into my depths, bringing with it frustration, annoyance and more than a little bit of apprehension.  I will my peace to come and my heart to remain open.  Instead, I lean forward and tilt open the lid of my zen meditation clock to see how many more minutes I ‘have’ to practice breathing in peace.  Four minutes to go…..stop or continue sitting….stop or continue….I lean forward again, press the off button and shut the lid.

Trampled boundaries.  Again.  I hate confrontation.  Which is the same thing as saying I hate standing up for myself.  Wow.  I’m sitting at my desk, typing these words as the realization of that filters through my being.  I don’t like standing up for myself.  No wonder my boundaries are being breached, even I don’t respect them!

I spend the day listening to the thrum of the generator, tempering my annoyance by turning my music up louder.  I say to myself, “This is good having a TV pilot filming here, maybe one day I will be cast in it.”  “You said you support the Arts here in Vancouver, well, here is a chance to show it!”  “It’s not that loud, you’re just being sensitive.  They have to park the generator somewhere!”

I argue back, “But you were very firm when they polled the neighbours that you were concerned about the noise of the generator.  You told the young PA that you had trouble sleeping and worked from home.”

I amaze myself at how easy I call on my shadow Victim archetype and slip automatically into “Woe is me, how can the big bad bully do this to me?”

These words are the sunshine that clears the fog away.  I had no idea I called in a low-lying fog to surround me whenever I felt my boundaries being assaulted.  A thick haze that obscures even the strongest wall.  Here I thought I was building a house of bricks to protect me from the big bad wolf, and instead I see that my house is built of straw.

Image

Night falls and still the generator rumbles, straw flying everywhere as the walls of my house disappear.  The wolf howls even louder through my bedroom window, as the filming continues into the early hours of the morning.  And still I keep silent, plugging my ears with small bits of squishy dense foam, which does nothing to block the booming base of my attacker.  It appears I’m willing to even compromise my health by sacrificing my much-needed restorative sleep, all to ‘keep the peace’ and not stand up for myself.  How much easier it is to see with the light on.

The weekend comes and the beast sleeps outside my door.  I walk with Bailey around the block, stepping over the thick, long, black wires that snake their way down the street from the film set to the hulking white truck parked opposite my driveway.  It turns out I’m not as excited about film sets and the accompanying entourage when I’m not actually a part of it; when it disrupts my ‘civilian’ life.

Sunday evening arrives, and with it the trepidation of the next morning’s waking of the fire-breathing dragon.  How this generator cur grows in my imagination and what power I give to it!

I’m having dinner with Lynn and my Victim is regaling her with all my illustrious “poor me” generator stories, pulling the blanket tighter and tighter around me as I speak.  She puts her fork down firmly and says, “No.  This is not right.  You told them not to park the generator truck where you could hear it and they did.  Someone dropped the ball and it’s not your fault they did.  Phone the production office and tell them to move it.”

My heart actually picks up speed as I hear the truth in these words, as my Victim steps out of the shadow and peers around into the light, knowing that I have to start mixing some concrete to lay the bricks to build a proper boundary.  One that doesn’t imprison me, but rather, frees me from the wounds suffered from weak boundaries.

Monday morning and I am awakened by the roar of the generator turning on.  I slip my feet into my red slippers, wrap myself in my fuzzy green bathrobe and head downstairs with Bailey.  Plugging the kettle in for tea, I look out the window at the pouring rain outside and the poor, orange-vested film crew carrying this and that from the grip truck.  They aren’t the enemy.  Neither is the grumbling, rumbling truck they’re walking past.

I pick up the phone and dial the film production office and ask to speak to Gordon S., the Locations Manager.  As I do so, I’m surprised at how easy it is.  I’ve stepped into my Femme Fatale Business Woman, donned my Ralph Lauren custom designed suit, twisted my hair into a perfect French roll, and am tapping my manicured fingernails against the table as I wait.  By the time Gordon S. is speaking to me, my spine is erect and my tone is firm as I explain the problem and my expectations for a solution.  As he backtracks and apologizes, dodging and weaving, I continue to stand firmly, yet kindly, in the conviction of my boundaries.  I hang up the phone, having received both his promise that the generator will be moved, as well as his personal cell phone number and that of his on-set assistant.  I’ve left him with my assurance that I will be following up.

The tea is seeping and I’m once more paddling about in my housecoat and slippers, but my spine still carries the vestiges of my Femme Fatale.  I’ve laid my first row of bricks and mortar against the huffing and puffing wolf.

Two hours later and a much smaller, quieter, off-truck generator is moved into place further down the street.  The rain has stopped for now and the bright sunshine of illumination warms the knots in my shoulders.  My story has changed and I have stepped out of the shadow and am animating the positive traits of the Victim.  She is the Guardian of my self-esteem, guarding and protecting the growth and awareness I am making.  My Victim is now a reminder of my own strength, of the power of my personal boundaries.

I will build no more houses of straw!

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Archetypes, Meditation, Spirituality

Happy World Theatre Day!

There is nothing like good theatre.  Watching a good film is a passive activity, in theatre the audience is one of the characters, breathing the same air as the actors on the stage.  No performance is ever the same.

Oscar Wilde said, “ I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

Challenge yourself to watch one play this week in honour of World Theatre Day – you can do it!

From John Malkovich’s International World Theatre Day Message: “May your work be compelling and original. May it be profound, touching, contemplative, and unique. May it help us to reflect on the question of what it means to be human, and may that reflection be blessed with heart, sincerity, candor, and grace. May you overcome adversity, censorship, poverty and nihilism, as many of you will most certainly be obliged to do. May you be blessed with the talent and rigor to teach us about the beating of the human heart in all its complexity, and the humility and curiosity to make it your life’s work. And may the best of you – for it will only be the best of you, and even then only in the rarest and briefest moments – succeed in framing that most basic of questions, “how do we live?” Godspeed.”

1 Comment

March 27, 2012 · 9:21 pm

I Will Not Go Gently Into The Night – Shine The Light on The Vancouver Playhouse

I’m sitting in a state of shock and sadness.  Last night, after 49 years, The Vancouver Playhouse had its last curtain call.  One of Canada’s longest running regional theatres and a very strong part of Vancouver’s cultural fabric is dark.  I still can’t believe it.  None of us in the theatre community can.

Image

My sadness is coloured with so many other emotions.  The red fire of anger burns against the cold blue of despair and I fight against sinking into the black gumbo muck of hopelessness.  I’m tired of fighting.  I long to rest, to be appreciated and valued.  It feels like I’ve been kicking against the current and treading water for so long and then, just when I think I can see a bit of an eddy, along comes a massive wave that pushes me under and tumbles me about.

It is so hard to be an artist of any kind; to be driven to create, to paint, dance, act, sing, write.  To open my heart to the world, show my soft, vulnerable, bleeding underbelly to the masses. To dip into the swampy swill of my wounds and paint a picture with my blood.  The empty page and the theatre stage become my battle grounds and I work hard to get out of my way to let the Truth of the story shine through.

I’m driving home from a difficult audition or an emotionally exhausting rehearsal and pull up to the stoplight in front of the Ambleside Starbucks.  I turn my head and watch the people coming out, coffee cups in one hand and cell phones in their other hand held against their ear. Civilians.  How I sometimes wish I were drawn to do anything but act.  I watch the woman in the navy blue peacoat and imagine her life to be free and unencumbered by the need to mine her inner depths until she bleeds.  I imagine she’s meeting a friend for coffee, to chat and laugh about how she fell three times snowboarding, or the book she’s reading for book club.  She’s not looking forward to an evening connecting with the emotional pain of losing a child, to memorize the words of the playwright, to animate the layered wounds and needs of a character.  All with the intent to honour the truth of the play so that, perhaps, one person in the audience will feel a subtle niggle of recognition and maybe, just maybe, nudge open the door to healing just a wee little bit.

Stella Adler says, “The word theatre comes from the Greeks.  It means the seeing place.  It is the place people come to see the truth about life and the social situation.”  When will our society value the Arts?  When will our society value creativity?  As one mourning sign posted outside the closed doors of the Playhouse theatre says, I want Chekhov AND the Canucks.  Why can’t we have both?  Why can’t we value and support the Arts as well as sports?

Image

A cup of tea will not make this better, but I wrap my hands around the mug my dad’s hands formed and I feel a bit of his strength flow into me.  We cannot give up now, not when the city needs us more than ever.  We cannot let The Vancouver Playhouse go gently into the night.

*Read The Vancouver Playhouse press release here.

*Read Max Reimer’s (Playhouse Artistic Director) response to City’s assistance of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, September 2011 here.

*Sign ipetition to Save the Vancouver Playhouse here.

2 Comments

Filed under Theatre