Tormentor

So.

You’re feeling down because of ____ bad thing that just happened. And you’re worried perhaps things aren’t going to turn around for you.
Or worse, you feel generally anxious and don’t know why. Or you notice that you’re sabotaging opportunities for success and you wonder “Why do I do this to myself?”
Or you see that you’re capable of doing good things, but you don’t know why you’re feeling so bad about yourself all the time. Or worse, you worry that you neither do nor feel good things about yourself.

What do you do when any (or all) of these things conspire against you?

How about this: ”Sometimes when we’re treated poorly, we start to see ourselves in the terms of our tormentor rather than in reality.” –Suzanne Lucas

How about changing perspective – just shifting the teensiest bit?
How about this question: “If I were to see myself how my good friend sees me, what would I see?”
Or this one: “Is this real or is this someone else’s perception of me?”
You don’t have to treat yourself poorly, either. Poor treatment of oneself is often confused for humility. And there is a very strident, purposeful difference between the two.

Your tormentor is not correct.

You are much more deserving and much more capable than that bad experience made you believe.
Who you are is enough.
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In literature and onstage…

photo from notsalmon.com

I love this concept of owning my experience. And I love putting that story-telling trick into practice onstage. It makes it easier to reiterate in my head things I’ve learned in life if I can act out those same concepts onstage. Perhaps I’m not that confident, but playing a confident person onstage gives me the chance to try it on and see what it’s like. Sometimes, that practice leads to radical change, sometimes, not.

And after a time of working with onstage practice, I realized I could practice in real life, too. I didn’t need a stage to try on new personas or ideas or skill sets. I own where I’ve been and who I’ve interacted with. I own the behaviors I’m not that proud of. I own the interactions that left me hurt or enthralled or joyful. I am the master of my fate. I am the creator of my stories.

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Unsettled

I love the feeling I get after watching a good piece of theatre – and ironically, I prefer pieces that leave me feeling unsettled. I don’t fault others who wish to see a happy ending or seek genres that don’t portray tragedy. I empathize and understand this feeling. For many, theatre is a means of entertainment and relaxation only. And sometimes, I seek that genre, too.

However, one of the purposes of participating in theatre is to motivate one to act – to act immediately and make changes for good. For example, watching a piece about world hunger and witnessing first hand the well-acted effects of such a troubling topic can be a uniquely compelling. And as I think about the piece and the topic over the next few days, I am motivated to resolve my feelings and so, take action by making a donation to causes that focus on making changes.

There is a flip side to just watching the stories on the stage. Behind the scenes, as an actor or director, I read the script, I work with the dramaturge to understand the context of the story, and I get to work with other actors and production staff to re-create the stories the script presents. This is lovely, engaging, fully satisfying work. And in the end, I feel humbled to participate in presenting stories that may assist audience members in taking action. And I am changed as a person, more empathetic and more understanding because the stories have caused me to see the world in another person’s shoes.

Seeking out discomfort isn’t easy – the difficult topics good theatre presents can be extremely unsettling. I think it’s worth it though. If theatre is the mirror of humanity, we are wise to seek an opportunity to look in that mirror from time to time to see, truly see, our image.

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The DM

I call it the Daily Memorandum or DM

David Allen (GTD) introduced us all to a very useful system of tracking what to do with documents/items that need to be held onto until a specific time. He calls it the Tickler Folder. I call mine the ‘DM’, which is short for the Daily Memo file.

To create one, I collected 31 file folders and labeled each one with a day of the month (31 total – some months won’t need all 31, but you can just keep them in rotation.) Then I grabbed 12 hanging file folders (same color for uniformity, but different type to help with organization.) I labeled each of the hanging folders with a month, 12 in all.

Since this is September, I lined up all the day-folders in order behind the September month-folder. Then I lined up the other months in order (January would go behind December…) behind the day folders. Every day, I look in the corresponding folder to see what documents are in there that I might need for meetings or events. Then I take that folder and move it to a new position behind the October folder. This keeps my folders rotating and makes it so I can put new things for the next month’s days in their folders.

Tips & Tricks of My DM:

  1. If it’s September 20 and I need to put something in October 27, I won’t have the October 27th file open to put anything in yet. So, I just put a post-it that says “27th” on the item and put it in the October folder. When October rolls around, I can divvy up the days and place them in the appropriate folders.
  2. I use this as a way to divide up a stack of paperwork or data entry work that would be too time-consuming for one day. I just break up the pages into smaller groups and place the little groups in day-folders, a few days apart. This really helps with time management.
  3. I use this as a Someday/Maybe spot, too. If I know that I’d like to think about something for awhile, I put that item in for a week or month later. Then, I can think about it without that item taking up my attention on my task list.
  4. For items that don’t fit into the folders (like toys my friend’s kids left in my car, etc.), I will write a quick reminder on a piece of paper and place that paper in the day-folder when I know I will next see my friend. Then I will put that item in an accompanying DM-Storage space I keep near my door (or in my car) That way, I’ll be reminded to take the needed item with me on that day.

This system is so helpful. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for tracking your time-sensitive tasks.

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Privilege

I sometimes get afraid that by acknowledging the goodness in my life, I will hurt those around me who may be struggling. When I say “I’m so lucky to have such an amazing job!”, I am painfully reminded of dear friends who struggle with their jobs. And I remember times when I was envious of where other people were, even though I was happy that they had happiness.

And then a friend told me that she worries when I don’t talk about the goodness in my life. She can’t see the good because I don’t express it and she thinks I’m unhappy.

So, what is the line between humbly acknowledging success and carefully expressing empathy? How can I graciously accept the privilege of this good life AND seek to help those who are struggling?

What do you think?

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Show Insights

Confession: I don’t like to go see musicals as a general rule. Because I love participating in shows, I tend to take the show elements to heart too much and I can’t get into the story. The mechanics of theatre are usually more interesting to me and I wind up evaluating through the filter “Why didn’t the director fix that?” or “Why is that performer making that lazy choice?” Argh!

This is trouble when my friends are in shows. I want to see them to support them – and I can get far too critical of details in the show they have no control over. My poor friends. (I’m really sorry, dear friends.)

So, this week, I went to see a show and I tried to take on a new filter of “Things in the show are getting my attention, what can I learn from them?” It worked! I really got into the story while thinking through what I would want to recall later when I have my turn onstage or directing…

Here are the things I learned:

  1. Good actors CAN overcome a not-so-good script
  2. Never underestimate the power of loving the material
  3. While speedy pacing is key for holding audience interest, it can also hinder connection. Choose the RIGHT pace, not the fastest one
  4. Chemistry = vital
  5. It wasn’t the height of the set, it was the creativity that made it awe-inspiring
  6. I would have been afraid to use ‘traditional’ elements if I had been the director – but those were the ones I loved the most in this production. Not all ‘tradition’ is enemy to ‘innovative’
  7. Clearly, when actors ask “Where’s the love?”, the scene achieves its purpose in the story
  8. Lighting: in one scene, the Director and Lighting Designer chose to create a scene in silhouette. With the powerful singing and acting, it created a Wow-factor that was very meaningful. Combined with a lighting choice in the last moment of the show, I will remember the story for a long time.

And not something I learned new, but something I was reminded of: I have very talented friends.

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Micro

Just one little fishy swimming upstream can make a change that would lead to a Tsunami.

Check out Sparked, a place to practice that upstream swimming.

What if everyone took the chance to do one micro-project on behalf of other people?

 

What if, indeed.

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System

The Montessori Learning System is one I admire. The top method used is this: when a teacher stands in front of class, he does not begin on his terms. Instead, he asks “Are you ready?” and waits until the students have calmed and put themselves in a learning state of mind. In waiting for the student, the teacher is creating a permission-based atmosphere.

The teacher’s needs do not supersede the students. Rather, the teacher places priority on the students’ needs and abilities to schedule their own learning.

Fascinating.

I think more bosses, more project leaders, more salespeople, and more gurus should find out if their customers and patrons and vendors and colleagues are ready before proceeding.

Don’t you?

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