On the opening night of Mwindo at Seattle Children’s Theatre, I thought I’d return, and share some wisdom I’ve received this month. And I know it’s been a while, and I have no excuse, except to say that I couldn’t decide on a new theme for the months after November, and in the over-thinking I got distracted, and lost the focus to write. Before I knew it, I was detached from the goal of my page, and the desire to connect to you all! And I guess that’s how it always goes with our work, isn’t it? We get caught up in perfection, in conflicts we haven’t encountered yet, in the disapproval of others, and it causes us to become distracted, and disconnected. We forget that at one point in our lives we decided we’d stop living for the opinions of others, and for their validation. And then we start looking outside of ourselves for inspiration, which is a great place to find inspiration, don’t get me wrong, but we forget about looking for it inside. And man, we are sometimes so much better at sabotaging our own productivity then actually being productive, because we lose faith. We lose faith in our mission, and vision, and get bored, complacent, tired, or even scared. So that’s the roller coaster journey I’ve been on these last two and half months. And there are about 100 things I learned, and consistently remind myself when I feel most detached. For now, I’ll just list seven.

1. When the work gets tiresome, and I’ve lost the joy to do it: There’s nothing worse than being in the rehearsal room, or learning the lines, and just feeling tortured; feeling like you’re being forced to do something you don’t enjoy. When this happens, I remind myself that I’ve been given a gift, a chance, an opportunity, and it requires that I make the CHOICE to use my energy to focus and engage in it. But because I’m also human, and imperfect, it’s okay to rest, and find peace away from the work too. Finding a moment away to become rejuvenated, and re-energized is the perfect way to find new motivation, and inspiration for something you’ve been working on tirelessly. My escapes of choice are a new workout, a class in something new and different, or frozen yogurt with a ton of toppings. I also just like calling up people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and just conversing about everything. Every.Thing. What is your favorite escape?

2. When I feel like I’m not good enough: Sometimes I get bold and question God’s plan for my life, and I think that what I believe of myself trumps His belief in me. And then I have to slap myself in the face! If you have a love for something, even if it’s a hobby, or a pastime, you’re already good enough. You were born good enough because we were all made in His image, and are all purposed to be happy! But some things may not come naturally to us, and the arts are no different. Everything that’s worth anything takes time, and effort, so the same attention you would place in improving a relationship with another person, should be placed in training for, and improving your craft. Finding a new approach to what you love to do ignites a fire, and makes the work more exciting! And while training, focus on the passion for the work, not on perfection.

4. When I scrutinize the work of others, instead of encouraging it: Bitterness is a b*&^%, and waste of time! Who are we to judge, and criticize the work of our contemporaries when we ourselves are a work in progress? When I find myself either begrudging someone else’s success, or criticizing them, I remember that I’m not the dang queen of Sheba, and my struggles are not unique. Everyone is fighting their own battles, and needs some uplifting. Encourage someone when you feel the most broken. It’s a wonderful feeling that will motivate you as well!

5. When I think others are judging or talking about me, and my work: I have to remember that people care more about their troubles than my troubles. If you think someone spends more hours thinking about you than you do, you’re fooling yourself. Besides, you’ll actually NEVER know if someone is really secretly judging you, so why worry about what you’ll never know? And another thing, people might actually be talking about you and your work. But if you do your best, then who cares what they have to say anyway?

6.  When other areas of my life suffer including my spiritual, and social life: Don’t forget about the things that fuel you. I often get discouraged, and find instant satisfaction more pleasing than the stuff that takes time, and work. I forget that Scripture can provide me with the best words of wisdom, and truth; words that will keep me on a righteous path, and not lead me into more destructive thinking. I also tend to isolate myself when I’m feeling down. And there’s nothing that attracts negative thoughts more than battling your demons alone. Randomly invite someone to lunch, or, my favorite, for some frozen yogurt. And if no one’s down to hang, go to a public place, and just read a book, or watch something on Netflix. Be surrounded by living, breathing human beings, and remember that we are a collective society that thrives on being human together.

7. When I feel like I’m running out of time: I recently read in C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, that one of the most destructive things a human can do is believe that time is theirs – to manipulate, to fill, to increase, to slow down, etc. And it’s not. As stated earlier, I believe life is a gift, and therefore, time is a gift. When we were kids we wanted to increase the speed of time, and become adults so we could do “adult” things, and taste freedom, but in our adulthood, we want to slow things down, and we often lament the time wasted, or ill-spent. But the moment I remember that time exists in a vast space of opportunity for growth, I feel better about the fact that even though right now I’m not where I want to be, the present is still precious, and useful. And then I call my mom, and dad and tell them how much I love them.

And what brings me back? My faith in God. My faith in myself. My talent, my skill, my wisdom, and discernment are gifts from God, but they are gifted TO me, given to me for a reason, and remembering this always brings me back from looking out at the world for validation, and approval, and up in gratitude. What brings you back to loving what you do, and being happy?

And like I said, there are enumerable amounts of things I’ve learned just within the last two and half months, but if you’re experiencing even just one of the things listed above, I feel I’ve done a good thing.

 

Blessings to you all!

Yesenia with a “j” sound

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