Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season is upon us. This is my favorite time of the year. Deep down, a part of me looks forward to the first chill in the air, the first round of corny Christmas music, warm and bulky clothes that like a good friend hide those signs of holiday excess. Curling up on the couch with a blanket just seems a little more wonderful when the temperature drops low, even if there is a long list of things I should be doing. Despite what has happened in the past year, Christmas is still my favorite time of year. Despite what has happened in the past year, I still see so many things to be thankful for, reasons to still find joy. Despite what has happened in the past year, I'm still here (to quote one of my favorite Sondheim songs). Even though things have not always gone my way here in the city, and this year has been far from easy, I am still here, still loving it, exploring, growing, and taking advantage of all it has to offer, daring myself to live. However, my focus, my state is markedly different from Christmas seasons of the past. More than ever, I am lacking the creative drive, the steely desire to succeed, the need to achieve and be everywhere all at once. Instead, my thoughts are centered around scenes of domesticity, of family, of love. My mind constantly wanders to visions of family get-togethers, my anticipated return to Indiana, to family and cooking and laughter. Instead of hoping for gifts under the tree, I am excited to spend the entire day at home with my family.
Admittedly, I have not been to an audition in a month or so, a self-administered sabbatical. I have not had a voice lesson or been making the rounds at the piano bars. My headshot has not been dropped off or submitted, nor have you seen me in any form of acting or dance class. I have been to the theatre only once, dragged by a friend to catch a performance of the quickly closing and critically acclaimed Scotsboro Boys (if you are in New York it would be a shame to miss Kander and Ebb's last musical). Instead of hustling my wares around the city, I have taken this time to work on myself, and perhaps to rest. Reflecting, I see that my life has been pretty non-stop from high school to college to making the move to New York, spinning my wheels in order to get ahead. So for once, I am slowing down and putting a few things on hold. In fact, this fall I turned down a potential gig, a show that would have been a great opportunity and my longest acting gig to date. However, after much contemplation, I said no, not now, not today. The gig would have taken me away from New York and shortened my Christmastime in Indiana. The thought of rushing through this holiday, this year, just seemed an unthinkable idea, and so here I am, still in New York, with no clue as to my next move, but ultimately happier. I have been trying to exercise, reinstating my former courtship with yoga, trying to eat healthy, seeing the people who mean the most to me, and taking care of me. My sister's death and the accompanying grief have been more than enough to handle, but have also brought to the surface emotions, feelings, and pain that I had hidden deep within. Recently, I read cultural critic bell hook's book All About Love: New Visions. In the book, hooks (spelled in all lowercase, how fly is that?) analyzes our perceptions of love, our very human need to experience love despite our culture's greater focus on fame and wealth. hooks tells us that healing only comes through love, that we can never find the love we didn't experience in the past, but rather bravely seek out love in the present. Instead of walling up my heart, afraid of being hurt once again, I am attempting to open it back up again, to friends and family, to new experiences, and maybe even romance. With this softening of the heart, comes pain, tears, and is at times very scary. However, through this love, through this reawakening of my soul, I once again see vision for my life, hope, the promise that God does indeed have good things planned for me. Out of this love, this reexamining of myself, the world, and how I feel about it, I find myself coming back to art, coming back to a desire to express myself. What is next, I am not certain of, but I am certain there is a place in the sun on the horizon. One thing I do know is that I hope to return to this blog more often in the coming months.
So, once again I find myself getting into the Christmas spirit. While Thanksgiving was somewhat of a bust (I worked) and my birthday was mostly a mess (I worked and then I Drank), this Christmas promises to be a very special holiday. A time for healing, a time to grieve, but also to celebrate and cling very close to those big and small that are the wonders of life. My holiday season officially began last night with a very spirited tree trimming party. Up ahead, I am looking forward to writing Christmas cards, wrapping presents, and all that Christmas cooking. Oh, and a new episode of Glee this evening.