art, creativity, decision-making, theatre, Washington

This just in: Break it down

Image by Guille Faingold
Image by Guille Faingold

I’m in the very early phases of a new theater project in DC, or rather what may become a new theater project. Right now, I’m researching the community and the potential opportunity for my idea to spread its wings in this new city. It would be the biggest project I’ve ever considered doing, and therefore requires more research and consideration than any other decision I’ve ever made.

Whenever I’m approaching a big idea, I break it down into its smallest elements as fast as possible. That way I can take it one piece at a time. I can see myself approaching from a distance. I have to time to prepare and can take in the whole landscape around the idea.

There’s a time for taking a giant leap. There’s a time to run toward something as fast as our legs will carry us. And there’s nothing wrong with testing the waters before diving in head first. It’s the best way to avoid the rocks and provide us with smooth sailing.

art, creative process, creativity, decision-making, dreams, theatre

This just in: Know when to dream and when to do

There's a time to dream and a time to do. Know and respect the two.
There’s a time to dream and a time to do. Know and respect the two.

“If you freeze an idea too quickly, you fall in love with it. If you refine it too quickly, you become attached to it and it becomes very hard to keep exploring, to keep looking for better. The crudeness of the early models in particular is very deliberate.” ~ Jim Glymph, Gehry Partners

Right now, I’m kicking around some ideas for a new theater project here in D.C. I’m excited about the possibilities that this community offers. It’s open and welcoming vibe is just what I’ve been looking for and it’s opened up my sense of what’s possible.

Whenever I begin a new project, I try to leave my mind open for as long as possible. Eventually, I do need to synthesize my ideas but I try to stay in the generation process as long as is feasible. Sometimes, we’re so anxious to get to an answer and then get on with the work.

This quote from Jim Glymph reminds me that there’s a time to dream and a time to do. Both of those states are equally important to the creative process and each deserves its due.

beauty, choices, decision-making

This just in: What we need is better than what we want

What you deserve
What you deserve

Life doesn’t always give us what we want. We strive for something (or someone) only to find we’ll never be able to reach it, fix it, heal it, or save it, try as we might.

This has happened to me several times in the past few months, and I have to be honest: I felt crushed. Confused and beat up. Even unsteady at times. And then I read this: “Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve more.” And I’m reminded that life isn’t so much about what we want; it’s about what we need. We don’t always know what we need until we look back on our trail of broken dreams and realize they had to break so that something more beautiful could take its place.

Like me, you might be going through some things right now. Things that hurt. Things that make you feel sad, afraid, or angry. You might be asking yourself, “why me? Why is this happening now? How did I get to this point? Where did I go wrong?” I get it. I really do.

Cry it out. Dance it out. Talk it out. Rid yourself of that thing that just didn’t go the way you wanted, secure in the fact that it went the way that it needed to go so that you could live your best life and be your best self. That idea keeps me going, and I hope it will keep you going, too.


choices, decision-making

This just in: It’s okay to close some doors

Close some doorsThe world is full of possibilities. What no one tells us is that not every one of them is meant for us. The only work we ever really have to do is to find the doors that are ours to open. And no one can make that choice for you except you. Other people will try to push you down one path or another. They will try to tell you that this or that opportunity is too good to pass up. What matters is whether or not that opportunity is something you want and leads to a place you want to go.

action, courage, decision-making, determination

This just in: Getting things done Amelia Earhart style

Don’t quit. Just do it.

“The best way to do it, is to do it.” ~Amelia Earhart

I’m a planner by nature. I love nothing better than a good decision tree with many intricate branches accompanied by an extensive pro/con list and supplemented with a healthy dose of if-then statements. However, if I’m really honest with myself, 99.9% of the time I know exactly what I need to do. My head, heart, and gut operate in lock-step most of the time. The decision tree, pro/con list, and if-then statements are usually just reassurance. To do something, I need to just do it. I’ll learn from my mistakes. I’ll get up if I fall down. I’ll manage through the bumps, bruises, and disappointments. I’ll keep going.

In recent months, I’ve done a much better job of letting go. I’ve stopped second guessing myself. I’ve reminded myself, very often on an hourly basis, that I really am going to be fine no matter what. I’ve learned how to ask for and accept help and support. And perhaps the most amazing discovery is that if we bet on ourselves, really put all our faith in our abilities, the Universe comes through with a pair of aces. Every. Damn. Time. Once we decide to commit, once we really decide to go after something with everything we’ve got, the world rises up with us.

Trust—in ourselves, in others, and in the greater forces that have a hand in good fortune—is hard. The older I get, the more I realize that every once of the difficulty to cultivate it is more than worth it. And once we have trust, action naturally follows.

choices, decision-making, fear

This just in: How to know if you should run toward or away from fear

What to do in the face of fear
What to do in the face of fear

When something really scares you, you only have two choices for your next move: run toward it or away from it. You either give it all you’ve got or give up with all you’ve got.

So how do you know which choice to make? It depends what’s on the other side of that fear. Is it something you really want? Then charge ahead. If it’s not, then it’s time to take your leave.

Don’t do something just because it scares you and you feel you need to conquer it. Do it because in the conquering of that fear, you can realize a dream. Fear can protect us or hold us back, and the only way to know the difference is to peek behind that fear and see what’s waiting for us.

action, choices, decision-making

This just in: What it takes to follow our purpose

A light in the distanceI’ve been thinking a lot about purpose lately. Not only of finding it, but living it. Of the hard choices and sacrifices made to pursuit it. All of the bright shiny objects that try to distract us from it. And the meaning of it when we consider all of the other priorities in our lives that may have to be reshuffled to make our purpose possible.

Realizing the full power of our purpose requires taking many small steps in a big direction. I think it might be the only way to find and pursue our purpose: one deliberate action at a time. Sometimes a decision opportunity occurs at a crossroads. Sometimes we have to make the choice to keep going through a dark time because we believe so strongly in the light ahead. We might feel like giving up, and for a time we may actually just put our purpose on hold.

The big leaps toward our goals are one in a million. They’re fun to take. Everyone loves a good sprint toward something we really want. Purpose rarely works that way. The road is often slow and steep. We have to learn a lot along the way. We get lost and turned around and confused. We fail and we try again. Those are the times we take a seat, close our eyes, and regroup. Why did you start? What did you hope to find? What have you learned? And why does it matter?

Maybe you’re in the midst of these questions. I am, too. It’s not an easy place to be. What I’m doing now is living the questions, one at a time. I’m remembering what mattered to me most when I first started my career, ironically in Washington, D.C. I’m remembering what I hoped to find all those years ago and everything I’ve learned along the way. I’ve always known why it mattered; I just needed to remind myself.

Taking this journey is like taking a trip back in time, a journey home. I feel like my life is coming full circle in a place that’s I’ve been meant to be all along. And that feels damn good. In those dark moments when I’m questioning everything (usually at 3am when I can’t sleep), that’s the idea I hold onto. I’m right where I need to be right now, and someday soon it’s all going to make perfect sense.

action, choices, decision-making, future

This just in: Can you do fewer, better things?

Shiny lights
Shiny lights

Now that I’m a few days past the 39 year mark, I’m reflecting on what this next phase of life and career look like. What I’m certain of is that it will include fewer, better things. In the past I’ve spread myself very thin over a number of projects and ideas. Now I’m trying to more heavily invest in a small number of things that will make a significant impact.

This sounds easy, though I’m finding it’s difficult to do. I have a lot of interests and hobbies. I’m intensely and endlessly curious. And I do know this: I want what I do to be meaningful. I want it to matter that I took it on and put my best into it, and that means focus.

There are a million shiny lights. The question is which shiny lights are meant for me? That’s what my 39th year is all about. After all, our lives are a reflection of our choices.

choices, decision-making

This just in: It’s easy to make the right decisions

Blue Bloods
Blue Bloods ~Frank Reagan,

“It’s a funny thing about decisions. You don’t seem to need to talk yourself into the right ones.” ~Frank Reagan, Blue Bloods

I need to have this quote printed and hung on my wall in a prominent place. I’ve noticed in the past year that my decisions that have turned out to be the best are the ones I made quickly and from the gut. The ones that have not worked so well are the ones I needed to extensively explain and rationalize to myself and then to others. When my mind swirled with too many perspectives, when I lost sleep and found myself physically exhausted by thinking, those were the decisions that never worked out as much as I tried to convince myself that they would.

There’s so much power and insight in that lesson, and in my case it took a long time to realize. Going forward, I’m sure my analytical mind will continue to have its say. Now I’m going to make sure that my gut and my heart have just as much chance to weigh in when a choice needs to be made. In the place where 2 out of the 3 align, I’m going for it. I have a feeling this is going to lead to many faster and better decisions.

choices, decision-making

This just in: Sometimes all you can do is roll with it

The Hero’s Journey is never a choice between a good option and a bad option. It’s a choice between difficult options. Whenever I’m faced with this kind of choice, I play out the scenarios of each. Yesterday I was faced with a very sad and hurtful reality. I needed to make a quick decision and I knew neither choice was perfect – far from it.

The best choice would be to dial my life back about 6 months and make a very different choice at that juncture. Since I don’t have a time machine on- hand, all I had were my current not-so-great options.

So I chose the one with the least amount of conflict, internal and external. Not because I’m at all afraid of conflict, but because the conflict would have involved other innocent people who didn’t have anything to do with my tough predicament and whom I wanted to spare seeing and hearing the direct conflict. As hurtful as it was for me, it would have been worse for them.

I took my punches. They hurt. I stood up again and kept moving forward. Sometimes that’s what life gives you – punches – and the best thing you can do is roll with it. Make the tough choice and let the chips fall where they may knowing you can handle whatever comes next.