The Sorry Space

I'm sorry.
Why?
Because.
Because, why?
Because you're sad. You're unhappy. You're mad. Because that horrible thing happened. 
It's not your fault.
I know.
Then why are you sorry?
I don't know.

 
I used to say sorry to fill the space.
 
Even writing that seems like an odd thing to say.
 
But it's true.
 
I used to say sorry to fill the space of silence. To apologize for things that weren't even within my control. To apologize for something that never had to do with me. I used to say sorry for pain that I never caused and hurt that was not my fault.
 
Sorry used to slip from my lips as easily as air.
 
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
 
If you asked me why I apologized so much, I wouldn't have an answer.
 
And honestly, I still don't have the answer.
 
Somewhere along the line I got it into my head that it was my job to fix everyone. To take on their pain and hurt, and try and make it better.
 
Somewhere along the line, I started saying sorry for things that weren’t my fault, but it was all I could think of when I say people I loved and cared about in pain.
 
Sorry.
 
I’m sorry.
 
But as you might imagine, that wasn’t always the healthiest thing for me. I would venture to say that it’s not the healthiest thing for any human being.
 
Saying sorry all the time. Taking on the world's hurt. Trying to fix the discomfort and pain of those you cared about with a single word can get quite exhausting.
 
It can even be demeaning.
 
See, when you utter sorry enough, people think that they can do anything to you.
 
People think that they can step all over your heart and soul, and it’ll be ok, because you both know you’ll be the one saying sorry in the end.
 
Now does that sound right to you?
 
Does that sound kind to you?
 
I do hope your shaking your head no on the other side of this screen.
 
I do hope the world no slips from your lips.
 
Because no, it’s not ok at all.
 
See, if your heart is that of a fixer, a healer, a do-gooder, chances are you want to rid the world of all it’s horrors. Chances are you want to reach out to the people you see in pain, the ones who are sad, the ones are hurting, and wrap them in love and warmth that will fuze back the pieces of their broken hearts.
 
Chances are you see folks dining alone and stop for a second to wonder if they're lonely. Maybe you walk down the streets and stop to look in the eyes of those who have no home, and give them the last crumbled bill in your wallet. You’re probably the person who stays on the phone with a friend in need, long past when you’d ought to be in bed.
 
And you know what?
 
That’s beautiful.
 
Your heart is beautfiul.
 
That goodness is beautiful.
 
It is.
 
But guard your heart, ok?
 
Don’t be so quick to fill the space with sorry. Don’t be so fast to apologize for something that you had no control over.
 
Listen before you let sorry slip through your lips.
 
Your apology should land on the hearts of souls who need it, who'll appreciate, who will hear it. Fill the space with sorry when it’s needed - not when you are at a loss for what to say.

NOTE - THIS WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON GLASSHEEL.COM

The Place of Praise

I tend to have a problem saying "thank you" when I'm complimented. 

Seriously.

Someone tells me, "you're so ___________________ (fill in the blank with something positive)", and I say, "oh, no YOU are." It's an active effort for me to sit in that place of praise. 

I don't do it on purpose. 

It's like a knee jerk reaction - and I have no idea where it comes from.

Perhaps it's my need to please people, or because I'm not always comfortable with attention on me, or because I am my own worst critic.

Perhaps.

But here's the thing - I know too many wonderful humans who do exactly the same thing, especially women. Girlfriends of mine who are brilliant at their crafts, their careers, at motherhood, at marriage - they too shy away from living in that place of praise.

And I wish we'd all just...stop it.

Perhaps it would be easier to stand in that praise if we saw our fellow sisters doing the same thing - and celebrated them for it, and even encouraged them to do so more often.

So, ladies of the world, hear me when I say, "it's OK to own your magnificence and celebrate your accomplishments. It's OK to say "thank you" when someone recognizes the good in you and the greatness that you're doing."

Humility is beautiful, sure. But being humble doesn't mean you're not allowed to feel the praise. 

Feel it.

Own it.

Embrace it.

 

Take the Time

The following post was originally published on I AM THAT GIRL.

Self Worth.

It’s a term I hear everywhere I turn lately. Every article I read. Every post I see.

Self Worth.

Part of self worth is taking care of yourself and making sure you get the things you need. Knowing what you need to be at your best is important - and you and only you are the person whom can make that determination.

Sometimes, maintaining self worth means taking time for yourself...solo.

And I think that’s easy to forget that in this age of digital connectedness. We’re constantly peering into one another’s lives. We’re with one another even when we’re not - and sometimes, just sometimes, that’s a bit too much.

It can be overwhelming to be constantly surrounded with people and posts - and taking time away from that to get the balance and clarity that you need is ok. It’s more than OK. I happen to believe it’s quite healthy. (But hey, I’m not a doctor, so don’t quote me on that one.)

Sometimes, life can get overwhelming. You’re juggling three jobs. You’re juggling school and work. You’re juggling school and work and relationships and friendships and families. Sometimes the carousel of life seems like it’s going a bit too fast. And all you can think is...push pause, please. I just need a pause.  

I think when that moment of woah happens - you have to do what works for you. If phoning a friend works, that’s great. But if you need that quiet time, take it.

Take the quiet time.

Take the quiet time, even if it’s for five minutes. Go outside. Look at the blue sky and the green grass and life bustling all around you, and just...breathe.

And then tell yourself, I will get through this. I have climbed mountains before, and I have gotten to the other side.

Say this with me, friends...

I will get to the other side of whatever is stressing me out. Whatever is making my head spin. Whatever is making me doubt. I will take time for myself today, looming deadlines be damned. I’ll sit for that manicure without my phone. I’ll go for a run. I’ll take a walk. I’ll read my favorite book. I’ll crawl up on the couch for that catnap. Cause there ain't no shame in self care, or taking those moments of clarity when I see fit.

 

 

 

FAIL FORWARD

 I wrote roughly three articles before I wrote this one.

They've now gone into the internet graveyard. They've become words that will never see the light of day, and that's OK.

Why?

Because they were garbage.

That's right, garbage.

The sentences didn't flow. The thoughts didn't make sense. And it wasn't really a good fit for anyone's eyeballs to see except for mine, and that's cool too.

Sometimes, you ned to create, just to create. Sometimes you need to write down the thoughts in your brain, and the only person that will ever read them or see them is you.

And you know what? That's ok.

Really.

Trust me.

In the conveyor belt that's become the creative production and freelance world there's an expectation to create and produce, and create more and produce more, and sometimes, it's a little too much.

As artists and writers we put so much focus on product, we can too often forget the road to creation is paved with a lot of failure and garbage.

There it is again - garbage.

Sometimes I write and it's bad. Sometimes I write and it's really not appropriate to share on a public platform. Sometimes I create and think it's great, and then realize when I'm editing it that it's terrible - and I need to start all over and toss whatever I created into the garbage, and begin again. 

But that's the beauty of creation. The trials and tribulations. The looking and examining and making sure it's the best possible version of itself.

Nothing's perfect from Day 1.

Masterpieces need tender love and care, and that doesn't just happen on the first shot.

So when your editing, or looking at a piece that you created, or a business that you've started, don't be afraid to throw out the garbage and start over. 

The beauty of this life is learning how to fail forward. There's so much to be learned when that happens, so much wisdom to be gained. Allow yourself to fail and fall, and give yourself the permission to pick up and start anew.

NOTE - THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED ON GLASSHEEL.COM.

She Really Is Useless

I was running late to work with a student.

I know, right there I'm wrong because, well, I was late.

But hey, I let the parents know - I texted, and said, I'm running late. It was fifteen minutes. They said OK. I thought that was that.

And then I got a text that said, this is unacceptable. I just texted her to see when she'll be here. She really is useless.

And then I got the "oops"...

That message was for someone else. Sorry.

I was three minutes away from the house. Useless thundered in my brain on a loop. USELESS? REALLY? I wanted to drive away, and say, perhaps you should get yourself a tutor for your kid that's more useful.

But I didn't.

I finished the session with my student.

Maybe the parent really wasn't talking about me. Maybe it really was about someone else. Maybe...

...maybe not.

It was a rather uncomfortable session. And I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. Again, useless thundered in my brain. How dare they. I'm an outstanding teacher. I know that in my bones. So you're having struggles with your child. I can understand that. It's tough. You're worried. You're stressed.

But then you take that out on me?

Nope.

That's unacceptable. So, I finished our session, and then I politely declined to work with the family ever again.

Maybe it wasn't supposed to be personal, maybe it was, but there comes a time in life where all the money in the world cannot make up for disrespecting another person.

And it's all too easy to get swept up in the rat race of life and want to make more money, and then stand for treatment that just isn't right. That just isn't nice. That just isn't decent.

I don't care if you're a CEO, the commander in chief, a stay at home mom, Hollywood royalty, or a nine to fiver - when you start thinking that people are there to serve you and suit your needs as you see fit, and that their usefulness is wrapped up in your perception, you lose.

You lose, and you're wrong.

Nobody gets to determine the usefulness of people.

People aren't old shoes that get to be donated to Good Will or thrown to the trash.

People are humans who cry and love and laugh and bleed and feel.

And we're all useful.

NOTE - THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON GLASSHEEL.COM

Breathe In Stories, Breathe Out Art

I got a million rejection letters this week.

I mean, It wasn't a million. But it felt like a million.

And it messed with my head a bit.

And now I'm writing about it, because, maybe if it messed with my head, it's messing with someone else's head, and, well, I'm all for pouring encouragement and community and positivity back into the internet.

So, back to the rejection letters.

I'm a freelance writer, theatre director, producer, and teaching artist. I also run thewriteteachers.com. None of this happens by accident - I am constantly sending out query letters, applications, submissions, etc. 

Some might say that the application process to be a creative professional takes more time than the actual creating - I still haven't quite made up my mind on that one yet.

But alas, I digress.

Sending out submissions, whether you're the performer, or the creative behind the table, takes a lot of time, effort, and mental energy.

Sometimes, you'll get the response you like. A lot of the time, you just...won't hear anything. And then, like this week, you'll get a lot of "thanks but no thanks emails" - and it can be hard on the soul. 

If you get enough emails like that in row, sometimes, at least for me, my brain just starts shutting down. The doubt creeps in. I start to wonder if my words are just awful. I start to think - "maybe I just don't know what I'm doing. Maybe the things that I've directed and the projects I've created were just...crap, and nobody told me."

That's the point in which I usually text my people - my mom, my best friends, my now husband. 

And usually those voices break the shell of "maybe I'm not good enough."

See, creating is hard. It takes cultivation. It takes dedication. It takes motivation.

And letting yourself wallow will not make the words come faster or the projects come knocking. Comparing your success to that of one of your contemporaries doesn't do you any good, either. 

Hear me when I say that, please.

Letting yourself wallow will not make the words come faster or the projects come knocking. Comparing your success to that of one of your contemporaries doesn't do you any good, either. 

Resist the urge to do that.

Instead, remind yourself that success comes from years of creating when nobody will consume your art, dedication, and constant pursuit of your vision when those around you can't even see it. 

Instead, turn to those who inspire you the most, and learn from them. See all the shows. Watch all the films. Listen to all the music. Read all the books. Talk to all the people. 

Instead, remind yourself that you create because the magic that is in your bones deserves to live outside of your head. 

Breathe in stories, breathe out art.

The Story of the Wrong Wedding Dress Color

We've been married one week now! And yes, I know that that's not a long time - but it's amazing to me how time truly does fly.

Our wedding was magical.

I'm not just saying that because it was my own wedding - many of our guests have used that adjective. 

Magical.

But there were some pretty crazy things that happened the week of our wedding - and you know I love a good story, so here we go.

My wedding dress was the wrong color.

When I told this to my family, my little brother said - I thought there was just one color...white?

But as my fellow brides know, this is not the case.

There is white, there is ivory, there is champagne, there is latte. 

I'm sure there are more, but those are the colors that I kept coming back to - and then, I finally settled on my dress, which was supposed to have ivory lace with a latte underlay. 

Ten days before my wedding day, after my third fitting, I realized that the underlay was not latte, but white.

And then I proceeded to lose my mind.

And before you start picturing a Bridezilla moment, let me stop you right there - it didn't happen. I don't really have that chip. I just cried, and cried, and cried. I tend to go inwards when problems arise, and I was mad at myself for not picking this up as soon as I had my first fitting. 

HOW COULD I NOT REALIZE THAT IT WAS NOT THE RIGHT COLOR?

HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID? 

HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING? 

This, dear friends, is why bridesmaids are important. My tribe of lovely ladies immediately sprang into action, "you're not a bridal consultant. It's their job to order what you asked for, and to catch potential mistakes from the factory. This is on them. Not on you."

Their words made me feel better, and gave me the courage to speak up.

The last fitting I brought it to the attention of the bridal staff - and they, unfortunately did not have the same reaction as my bridesmaids. They asked me why I hadn't brought it to their attention before then - which, just made me shut down. I was so tired, I just didn't have the energy to fight.

Because honestly, it's just a color. 

And I did love the dress.

And I happened to have a coloring that works well with both ivory and white. 

But I wanted to bring it to their attention because perhaps another bride wouldn't be as calm as I was - or perhaps another bride's day would be ruined. I thought they should know that they need to be careful with their orders. Someone slipped up, and in my case, I made it work. 

Others might not.

Unfortunately my words fell on deaf ears - so, newly engaged folks - let this be a cautionary tale, and double check the work of the bridal salons.

The big lesson here? It's a good laugh...now.  It made me calm on our wedding day - cause let's be honest, if I could get over them getting my dress order wrong, nothing else could bring me down! And, I keep thinking if Schuyler and I are blessed with a daughter of our own one day, it'll be a good story.

The madness didn't stop with the dress though...cause, well, this is me we're talking about.

The day before our wedding we received an email from the hotel where we were staying with our bridal party, parents, and out of town guests.

Apparently there was a squatter situation.

Yes, you read that right.

There was a guest who refused to leave, and while the sheriff was going to evict them, they would not be gone by Friday night, which is when we needed the room.

The hotel then asked us which guests we would be able to move to a different hotel, right down the road. The GM was also going to spring for an uber so they could get to and from the hotel where we were staying with ease.

I read the email, and I laughed.

I read the email, and thought, this has to be a joke.

I called Schuyler, and we laughed, together.

It was not a joke - and two of his dearest friends opted to take this new room (which happened to be larger than the original, so hey, I supposed that's a win!) 

The lesson here? It's another funny story. And just as long as we can laugh together - nothing else really matters. The laughter is the good stuff. That's where life lives. That's where love resides.

10 Wedding Planning Tips

I'm getting married in ten days.

TEN DAYS.

Cue all the shrieks and heart eyed emojis and confetti cannons and "to-do" lists, and...oh my goodness I'm getting married in ten days moments. 

My fiancé and I had what the wedding industry would call, "a short engagement". 

I mean, it was nine months. 

You can grow a human in that amount of time, (and no, I'm not pregnant), so I have no idea why it's considered short, but alas, I digress.

Wedding planning can be BANANAS. And so, here are the top ten things I've learned whilst planning my upcoming nuptials. 

1. Find a space that is a reflection of you and your future spouse. Don't get swept up in what other people want for you, remember what you want for yourselves. So, if that means a crystal palace, go for it. If it means a backyard barbecue, go for it. If it means a destination wedding, go for it. If it means getting married in a park, or a castle, or a loft, or an artist's colony on the water - go for it. We chose a vineyard, which, brings me to my next point...

2. ...DIY weddings are not less expensive. I'd love to meet the person who came up with that narrative, cause it's just not true. DIY weddings are a lot of work, a lot time, a lot of phone calls, and emails, and meetings, and whatnot - so if that's going to push you over the edge as far as sanity is concerned, perhaps you might want to think about a venue where you don't have to bring in everything yourself. There are happy mediums - for example, the vineyard where we are getting married is a little bit of both. They have tables and chairs (you might laugh when you read this, but rest assured, some "vineyards" or atypical wedding venues do not.) They have beautiful grounds. They have a list of approved caterers, but we're not locked into any which one. They also will not give us WINE GLASSES - which, I know is insane. But alas, it's true. The list can go on and on....so, this brings me to my next point...

3...do your research. When a florist tells you that there fee is $4700.00, and you don't want to pay that amount of money, look for someone else. It doesn't mean you have to forgo your dreams of white roses, it just means you have to find someone who will work with your budget. And they're out there, I promise. Same goes for all of your vendors/expenses - photographers, videographers, bands, DJ's, caterers, rings, etc - you don't "have" to pay anything. It's your wedding. You get to pay whatever you want, and there's nothing written in stone that says you must pay "x" amount of money for something. Do what makes you comfortable. Do what makes you happy, and what doesn't hurt your wallet beyond repair. You make the budget, which means you make the "rules". But, here's the secret to staying sane throughout all the mayhem...

4. ...there are no rules. Do you want to have a wedding menus of burgers and truffle fries? Do it. Do you want to have a wedding of 20 people? Do it. Do you want to have a three course meal with French table service? Do it. We're having an ice cream cake at our wedding. I don't like regular cake and I absolutely love dessert, and I wanted to have dessert at my own wedding, so, I found someone in the area who will do ice cream cake. Did it take a couple of more phone calls? Yes. But, I posted on my personal Facebook page, and the Hive Mind gave me plenty of suggestions, one of which I ended up using! Which brings me to my next point...

5. ...people will want to help you. All sorts of people. Maybe it's your family. Maybe it's your friends. Maybe it's the family you're marrying into. Maybe it's the people who have watched you grow up, that think of you like one of their old children. Maybe it's colleagues - I don't really know. But what I do know is that when you get engaged, people from all different moments in your life are are going to be excited for you, and their going to want to help, and for my fellow workaholics/control freaks out there, hear me when I say, "let them."  Let them shower you with love and help and light. There's so much sadness in this world, people are happy to celebrate moments of joy. 

6. Let yourself live in the moment of joy. You don't have to announce to the world that you're getting married on Facebook immediately. Take the time to live in that happiness with you and your beloved without watching "likes" on a screen. And for the love of all that is good any holy, call or text people to let them know you're getting married. You don't want your Grandma finding out from Facebook. Enjoy the little things, like telling the engagement story, like reading the cards that people will inevitably send, like doing an engagement shoot- (which, was one of my favorite parts!) Perhaps you think it's cheesy, but let me tell you, if you find a good photographer, it's a lot of fun. 

7. Find a photographer you love. For me, the biggest skill a photographer can have is capturing the essence of a person in film. That's a skill you cannot edit. That's something a filter cannot do - capture those magical moments of love between two people. My photographer does that brilliantly, so, if you're in the market for a wedding photographer, I'd highly recommend David Perlman of David Perlman Photography. He did a beautiful job of making our story come alive in photos during our engagement shoot, and I cannot wait to see what he does in TEN DAYS! David's artistry is amplified because he really does love, love. He loves weddings, he loves people, and that's the lens in which he shoots - and that's the kind of photographer you want at your wedding, someone who loves, love.

8. ...live in the love. A wedding is a day. Just one, really beautiful day. But that's not a marriage. That's not what matters. What matters is the love between you and your spouse. What matters is the promise of forever. When you're marrying the love of your life, nothing else really matters.

9. Keep repeating to yourself "when you're marrying the love of your life, nothing else really matters. Even rain. I just looked at the projected weather forecast for my wedding day, and there's a 60% chance of scattered thunderstorms. For a moment, I got a. little teary, because we're getting married at A VINEYARD AND COCKTAIL HOUR IS SUPPOSED TO BE OUTSIDE, but then, I just started laughing. Cause you know what? It's just rain. We'll get cute umbrellas, and just as long as we all keep laughing, all will be fine.

10. Keep the love and laughter present. Let yourself drink it all in. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, your wedding is a day that celebrates your love, the start of your marriage, and you get to do that surrounded by those who love you unconditionally - and there's no vendor that can put a price on that.

PROJECT HERO, Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and the Space for Empathy

This week, I had the pleasure and privilege of teaching a workshop called Project Hero at East Hampton Middle School.

Project Hero  is a Theater Arts curriculum created by the incomparable Kate Mueth for Guild Hall and The Hamptons International Film Festival, that partners with and pushes into local middle schools. Teaching artists spend three days working with sixth grade students on...their feelings. We have conversations. Through theatrical games we dig deeper into their own narratives, and their own stories. We cultivate a space that hopefully gives them the tools to dea and cope with the world around them. We ask them to look inward at their own reactions to circumstance and conflict. We ask them to look around and see how they can help another.

We build empathy.

And it is beautiful.

Earlier this week, the world lost Kate Spade. 

Today we learn that Anthony Bourdain is no longer with us.‬

And as strange is it may seem to you, the work that I did in this workshop this week is intrinsically tied to the suicide of these two bright souls. 

‪Too often we put up walls.

Too often we look the other way in uncomfortable situations.

Too often we stay away from those we don't understand, or don't know.

Too often we think we know the plight and mood and motivations of another. How many times have you looked at someone and thought, they have it all together? How many times have you looked at someone and thought, "they don't understand struggle or pain."

Nobody is immune to struggle and pain, and mental health does not discriminate.

It does not care how much money you have. It does not care what you look like. It does not care about your gender.‬

It does not care.

Part of the workshop is an activity called the spectogram. We literally put a piece of spike tape down the middle of the classroom and make a line. One side is "yes", one side is "no", and the middle of the line is "maybe".

We then ask the students a series of questions, starting with the less personal (i.e. - I love the color pink, and slowly but surely leading up to more serious topics like, I have been bullied. I feel like I don't have anyone to talk to."

Each and every time I run this workshop, there's always one statement that hits kids the hardest.

This year it was "I do not feel safe at home, and/or I know someone who does not feel happy at home."

Five out of the fifteen students in my class moved to the "yes" part of the line.

One student, we'll call him Paul was upset by this.

"Megan, he said. I love going home. I let out of sigh of relief every time I go home and go, "ahhh, school is done."  I can't imagine not loving being home. Or not feeling safe at home. And it makes me feel so bad that some people feel that way. And it makes me want to take them into my home."

He's 12.

Isn't it funny how sometimes, the children of this world are the ones who teach us?

I said to him, "Paul, that is beautiful. That is wonderful. And I hope you never lose that. I hope when you are an adult, and when you see people hurting, you always want to have them come into your home. I hope you always want to help."

I don't know where the point is when people stop inviting the hurting into our homes. And I mean this in the figurative sense, of course. But somewhere along the line, it happens. But perhaps it's students like Paul that can bring us back to what matters most. 

People.

People need people. And depressed people need people even more. And they're not going to ask for help. The world in which we live doesn't always create the space where we can ask for help without fear. Without judgement. Without repercussion of having a negative label tattooed on our foreheads. 

But, I have to hold out hope that we can create that space.

Imagine a world where people feel safe asking for help, where people could pursue counseling without fear of judgment, where you could say, “I’m not fine”?

Imagine that? 

Let's create that world. 

I don't claim to have any special solutions to this. And quite frankly, I don't think there is one. For I do know too many people championing for the hearts and mental health of others, and if there was a magic fix, they would've used it by now.

But I do know it starts with conversation. It starts with listening. It starts with showing up for those you love, and even for those you don't. 

Everyone has a different story, but at the core of us all remains three things: the desire to be seen, to be heard, and to be loved.

So as you navigate your days, weeks, months, and years ahead - see people. Hear people. Love people. 

And invite those who are hurting into your "home".

RISE

Last night I watched the season premiere of RISE, and my heart exploded into a million different pieces of joy. It was wonderful. It was inspiring. And it felt like I was watching my life play out on my television screen. 

I have been the English teacher who tries to get students excited about words, and literature, and characters...only to have them sleep in class.

I have been a teacher in a school district that would rather cut it's musical, it's play, and it's music programs, only to put a multi million dollar concession stand on it's football field.

I have had trans students come to my theatre department, seeking a safe space, wanting to be called by the name and pronouns that they chose for themselves - breaking a bit when their parents refused to have a conversation about their transition.

I have had students whose parents would not allow them to perform in "A Chorus Line", because it's immoral. But, you know, "Sweeney Todd" was fine. 

I have had to stand on a stage and tell a cast that they were no longer allowed to perform a show, because it was deemed too provocative by the administration, after they had already approved the show.

I have had administrations try to not pay for the rights to shows. They still don't understand that there isn't a discount, and that if the show is licensed by, let's say, MTI, that yes, that's the only place we can get it from.

I have had athletes want to join the play, the musical, only to have their coaches tell them that they cannot do both.

I have had those same athletes find their strength on the stage. 

I have seen the light and talent in students that nobody ever thought would be singing - only to have them study theatre in college, and then find themselves centerstage.

I have seen tech students find their home, their purpose, and their focus in the wings and at the lighting booth - only to go on to work in theatre professionally. 

I have sat in those seats with the best of colleagues and collaborators - tech directors, music directors, choreographers, and pit conductors who became my closest friends, and they constantly made me better at what I do. 

Watching the show last night, I was reminded of a Saturday rehearsal for "A Chorus Line". I asked the students what their dreams were - what they wanted to be and do with their lives. My Cassie said, "like, for real? Or what we wish could happen?"

"You're fifteen," I said. "There shouldn't be a difference between the two If you learn nothing else from this experience, know that. Your dreams can be your reality."

"I never thought of it like that", she said. 

"Well now's the time to start", I replied. 

Watching the show last night, I was reminded of my Dad, who started a theatre program in a town that, at the time, had like, two stoplights. The school didn't have a theatre - so he, and his colleague and partner in crime, Jon, made a stage in a gym. Yes, they built it. And they built the risers to hold the seats. And they hung curtains to make wings. And they lifted the bar of education and artistry so high, it's continued for 35 years. 

Later in their career, a new high school was built. And they got a theatre, and they had a shop, and they had a stage craft program to fit alongside the theatre curriculum.

And it was amazing - for what they built was so much bigger than any sparkly show - it was a community, a family, a tribe of students and adults who learned how to tell a story. The students learned how to fight for others who were different than them, for the stories that needed to be told. They learned the importance of teamwork and of collaboration, skills that would carve out paths for them long after they left the walls of their theatre.

Once, they did The Laramie Project. Initially, the administration wasn't pleased with my Dad, they thought it would cause some trouble. They were right, for soon the threats from Fred Phelps and his warriors of hate came out in full force.

But my father and the administration went through with the play.

Because Matthew Shepherds story was one that needed to be told. 

And the students were ready to tell it.

There are so many more stories like that one. So many more stories of my own. So many stories of colleagues of mine, from different schools, in different towns, all across the country who fight for the importance of the arts in their schools.

And they always need your help.

And they always need your voice.

So as you continue to watch RISE - I hope you'll lend your voice to the arts programs that helped shape you into the person you are - regardless of whether or not you have a career in the entertainment industry.

Because as we all know, arts education is what sticks.  It's what stays in our blood, our bones, and the message of what we learned is forever kept in our soul.

So go - vote for that school budget. Show up at that school board meeting. 

The theatre educators and students could use your support.