I sat at a table filled with my first year studies seminar students in the POD (our campus’ main dining hall) and we just talked. The original plan was that we would hold part of our class in there, but I realized that many of these students needed time to talk about other life issues–how to make friends, find jobs, juggle schedules, etc. Since this class meets for 2 1/2 hours on Fridays, and is intended to be a combination of academic learning and learning how to succeed in college–I had no qualms about adjusting my schedule for more casual discussion.
I spent the time bouncing around the table, trying to check in specifically with the students who don’t speak up much in class. While I have them turn in journal entries on a weekly basis, and try to respond to their concerns, I don’t know for sure if I’ve reached them so I use this time to try.
Towards the end, I sat back down in my original seat and one of the three guys in the class turned it on me . . . “How are you doing?” he asked.
After a moments hesitation, I answered truthfully. I think the students should know that they are not the only ones who struggle at times, and that we all have to find the balance.
“Um . . . I’m okay. A little stressed and overwhelmed at times, but I know it will all work out.”
“Why are you stressed?” he pursued.
“I feel like I have about a million balls in the air and I am in danger of dropping every one,” I said. “But, when I feel like this, I just have to remind myself that everything gets done eventually.”
“Oh, ya! You’re directing that play now, aren’t you?” the student said.
“That and . . .”
In my brain an image forms of colored balls cycling through the air, each one labeled with a different project, a different goal, a different part of me. They are connected, but at the same time they represent all my interests, dreams, and hopes. They are the reason that I cannot answer the question “what do you do for a living?” with a clear concise answer. They define me as what I believe I really am — a Renaissance Woman.
In an article from Aspire Magazine in 2012 called “Are You a Modern-Day Renaissance Woman?” Amy Beth O’Brien writes:
Many of us are seekers. It’s through our continual exploration and willingness to walk down different roads that we find ourselves. Embracing our renaissance personalities can make us incredibly happy, and joy has a tendency to overshadow any notion that we should care what other people think about our eclectic approach to work, so embrace this incredibly powerful and creative part of yourself. The world needs you!
My struggles lately, though, have been this feeling that I am failing at everything because I have too many balls in the air. For example, I know that I should be promoting P.O.W.ER more or working towards publishing novel number two–because the only way true way to become a successful author is to write more books. Yet both those projects have been pushed to the side somewhat, as other things move into the space.
What am I working on? Well, these are some of the major balls I have in the air:
I am directing a production of Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet that goes up the week before Thanksgiving.
Theatre for Young Audiences Collaboration and Production
I am teaching a TYA class, which will produce a show to be performed at the end of the semester to area school kids. As part of this project,we are collaborating with the Transition Students from the public schools (people ages 14-22 with various challenges) who will be performing with us. This collaboration started a couple of years ago, and has led to an interesting writing opportunity . . .
“Inclusive Theatre and Community Based Learning: Reaching Youth in Transition through Arts”
This is the name of the book that I am under contract to co-author (with my collaborator from the transition program) about the work I’ve been doing with these two groups. It’s exciting to have a contract and know that I am writing this book. It is terrifying to have a deadline and know how much work needs to be done.
In addition to the TYA class and the First Year Seminar, I teach a live Intro to Theatre and an online Intro to Theatre
I attended a meeting yesterday about an initiative to make arts education more important in the schools here in Massachusetts. This is one of my passions and I want to get involved more fully somehow. As part of my passion for this, I am also an adjudicator for the Massachusetts Educational Theatre Guild, which means I see shows at middle schools and high schools across the state and give feedback.
Meanwhile, I am still trying to promote P.O.W.ER, get workshops and talks going, attend book fairs and things like that. I have a book group event coming up.
I am also working toward publishing my book called “Giving Up the Ghosts”–a middle grade novel about a girl who has the power to see and communicate with ghosts but wants to get rid of it because it makes her too different, until she learns that maybe being unique is something worthwhile.
Mom of a Tween
Perhaps the hardest job, and the one I feel like I’m doing worst at is helping my daughter through these turmoil and hormone filled years. It doesn’t help that I am at rehearsal 4 nights a week (see above) and that she leaves for dance before I have rehearsal, so her afternoons are filled with homework, dance, and bed and we only see each other during the mornings and weekends. She’s excited that I am directing, and she loves that I’m an author, but there are many times that we clash as we both struggle to figure out who we are as individuals in this world.
I could add to this list, but you get the picture. As my interests grow, I will get more involved in projects. I don’t know where m future leads, or what I will be doing next semester, next fall, in the next five years.
But you know what? Now that I’ve embraced the idea of being a Renaissance woman, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I told my students yesterday, “eventually everything gets done and you move on to the next thing.” Ultimately, that’s what makes life interesting.