There is no room for self-doubt or fretting for the future in “Lookingglass Alice”. This wild and tight 90 minutes of stunts and circus won’t allow for insecurity. I have to rise to the occasion. To climb the 12-foot rolling apparatus that makes me larger than life, to leap and land, both feet magnetized to the hip creases of my partner. To press out of a headstand into a handstand in time with being hauled upwards through a tight hole in the floor by my legs. To stand straight, abs locked, elbows back, hands gripping the calves of the partner standing on my shoulders. To burst out of the darkness into the glaring stage light on stilts with all the glory and confidence of a tyrant. Eye contact. Breath. Go. Steady. Go. Courage. Go. Rise to the Occasion. Go.
I am proudly approaching the final leg of a multi-month run of this incredible collaboration of bodies and minds, and must remember these principles moving into my future March on March. March is going to be a Live Well Month, one that calls for Courage and Rising to the Occasion. It’s an income-free month, full of projects and goals, classes and performances.
In planning my March on March, perusing what I’ve agreed to, building a schedule of meetings, writing time, curriculum planning, rehearsals, budgeting to the penny and making sure I get plenty of exercise, good eats and dog time, what I refuse to let happen is to be crippled by doubting myself. I suffer from Depression, and it manifests in self-hate and ruthless judgement and a desire to give it all up and take a last breath and be done with it.
Courage. Rise to the Occasion. Go.
What good does Self-doubt do? Not self-criticism to keep oneself in check and make sure one is doing things correctly or well or for the right reasons, but rather, that abusive inside voice that says “you can’t”, “you are not smart enough”, “you don’t look right”, “you don’t deserve it”.
There are essays and studies on whether this behavior is based on chemical imbalance, societal pressures, gender constructs, or too much time on Facebook. In the end, it doesn’t matter WHY I do this to myself, but what I can do to stop it. Because not only does it hurt me, it keeps me from supporting, serving, and loving others. It prevents me from performing at the top of my game, from showing up strong, from giving my good stuff to others.
How do I Rise to the Occasion of Life Outside “Alice” with the sense of duty and care as Life Inside “Alice”?
Remember that Balance is not a relaxed state. Balance is active. When I am balancing on my head under the stage, ready to pop my legs straight up out of the Mad Hatter’s picnic basket, I am not relaxed. I am calm. I am breathing. I am focused. But I am active. I am not relaxed. What does this look like on the This Side of the Looking Glass? Balance work with leisure. Make a concerted effort to work very hard and to take breaks and see friends and read something off topic. Stay balanced.
Remember to Stretch and to Warm Up. Oof, those 43-year old muscles, tendons and joints! Can’t do the deep squats of the Caterpillar or deafening bellow of the Red Queen without a warm up. Likewise, if I am going in to a meeting or to teach a class and have to focus on the needs of others, I can’t expect myself to jump in cold, or I’ll let everyone down! What does my non “Alice” stretch look like? Probably enjoying a really good cup of coffee and an excellent, delicious, non-rushed breakfast. Plenty of time with my dog, some yoga, and some face/phone/facebook time with loved ones. Maybe sing a little, too. Gotta keep that voice working!
Remember to Listen. We juggle a lot in “Alice”, including gigantic yoga balls while gigantic balloons are being batted about by the audience, lights are flashing, music blaring, and our Lead is being strapped into bungee cords for super human bounce action. A keen awareness of my partners’ positions and needs is essential. Ears open. Eyes open. Try to keep myself and everyone safe. Listen for vocal cues. Pay attention. As I’m moving about in the world, caring for the people around me is essential. That’s what I’m doing here, right? Being part of the world? And just like it isn’t wise or safe for me to try to fix something I don’t understand (ie: the bungee rigging), I can certainly Rise to the Occasion in other ways (opening doors, giving up bus seats, assisting someone trying to carry their stroller down stairs, reach out to a loved one, help a friend)
Prepare Your Material. Research. Practice. Can’t just hit a show cold without knowing how to do a forward roll or what my lines are. Same thing with a planning meeting, class or writing session. I need to take the time to plan and practice and discover in these ventures.
Tend to Injuries. I’m no good to anyone if I’m hurt. Whether it’s a pulled muscle or hurt feelings, take care of that shit so that you can be your best self. Also, let people know what’s up. They’re always really nice when I tell them my stupid face nerve is doing its hurty thing. If my performance is compromised, my partners knowing what’s up keeps them safe and prepared.
Have a Blast. What is not to like about working with outstanding actors, designers, technicians, crew, producers, directors on a piece of theatre that leaves the audience cheering? There is every reason to enjoy every minute. Same with Life Outside the Rabbit Hole. I am blessed with a month to do basically whatever I want. There is every reason to enjoy every minute of that, too.
It’s evident to me that silencing the voice of inner doubt has everything to do with having the courage to believe I deserve success, and that my endeavors deserve thought, time and attention, and that by establishing Balance, Warm Ups, Preparation, Self-Care and Blast-having are the ways to achieve a healthy state of mind so that I may be a good partner to the nice people in my life and Rise to the Occasion in all of my activities.