Sometimes things happen in your life that seemed devastating at the time, but in looking back you realize the ‘devastating event’ actually changed the direction of your life. Completely.
No, I did not make the 8th Grade basketball team at Young Junior High, so please, enjoy the 7th grade basketball shot. That’s the only one there ever was. I was able to fool Coach Parker with my height in 7th grade, but when it became apparent that I was afraid of getting hit by the ball and I really didn’t like running — well, I was rendered athletically useless at 13.
Being the overly sensitive kid that I was; I did not take the rejection well.
I went to the mat late today after hours of editing and rendering. It was a solid class, all business. I continued the strength work from yesterday.
Three times during the day I stopped to play Could I Have This Dance? and waltz around the room. Once Jonathan caught me, and cut into my momentary fantasy — he did not make cookies today, but he does make a really great chocolate chip cookie. He’s also a pretty good dancer, not quite as trained as my Dad, but he has a right and a left foot.
I promised him if we ever had a boy I would learn more about baseball if he would make sure he taught a girl to dance. We shook on it, sort of. It depends on how much baseball I have to learn to be deemed a mother who does not suck.
Today I jumped back into chaturanga like I had been doing it all my life. I am finally starting to really feel the placement. I love the feeling of actually getting better at something.
In an effort to heal my fragile ego after the basketball rejection of 1982–and to help me find what color my parachute actually was–my Mom took me to the Creative Arts Theater & School (CATS) and enrolled me in ballet and acting.
Yes, that was it folks — Coach Parker determined one of my many courses in life.
Not really. It was actually a group of people much more important to me than Coach Parker ever was. (Nothing against Coach Parker, she was very pretty.)
He said you have an innate ability, my Mom said, it means it’s instinctive for you. You were born with it.
I don’t know if Zac Ward remembers telling my mother that, or if she remembers telling me that — but the person who does remember is me. So, even if the entire conversation was fabricated (and my Mom is not prone to completely fabricated conversations, so I am going to assume it was not) it has served me well. Every time I would get down about something–and even to this day when I look around at all I’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish–I go back to that moment when someone who was not supposed to tell me how great I was, saw something great in me.
And it drove me.
Push with your whole hand, she said. My yoga instructor tonight was Hayleigh since Chaz nor Ellen teach on Friday. Hayleigh barely touched me and I felt the placement. I turned and felt myself open more. I love that feeling, the release after the open.
Do you know who Ethel Merman is?
I got the role of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. In the beginning, I was trying to be Julie Andrews. I was never going to be Julie Andrews. I guess Zac knew something I did not because he asked me about Ethel Merman and told me to listen to her and try to sing like that.
Do you feel that?
Yes, I said, as she gently moved my arm placement.
You got it. Nice.
I always say, there is nothing like a little positive reinforcement, even in yoga.
I went to the library immediately and checked out an Ethel Merman biography and the Gypsy record. We rented There’s No Business Like Show Business. I started singing. At first I was just mimicking her, but by the time I was singing Slip em’ the Slipper Routine it was all mine and I knew it. For the first time, I really knew it. It was the birth of a part of me I had yet to meet at 16.
I would have never done that without Zac awakening a passion.
Once I got the Ethel Merman singing down, then he made me watch Ann Miller for the dancing. I actually think, ultimately, I looked more like Ann Miller in the role.
To this day I know one thing for sure — if there is no passion in your life, there is no life in your life. After several years of going through the motions on this waiting-for-baby train, getting up everyday with a drive towards something is almost like a rebirth.
I had forgotten what that actually felt like until I was dancing around singing with Anne Murray — who has always been perfectly in my key.
I had many great influences as CATS.
I spent many nights with Kathey Ward listening to Starlight Express and Chess.
I followed Linda Lee around all over the place like a sidekick I’m certain she never asked for — but she didn’t seem to mind at the time. I latched on the most when my Mom went back to dental school. I was proud of my Mom, but looking back, I think I was a bit of a brat. I don’t think I fully appreciated or understood the magnitude of what she was trying to accomplish and how hard it actually was to accomplish it.
When we went to the floor on our mats I felt a massive release through my lower back and buttocks. My left hip. Tears flowed, again, I was not sad.
Zac was the director for my three favorite roles at CATS — the number one being the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the title role in Snow White. I wanted Snow White so badly, I died my hair black for the audition.
On opening night of Snow White I received a vintage copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (which I think actually was Zac or Kathey’s when they were little, but I could be remembering it wrong) signed: You will always be our very own Snow White. Best Wishes Always, Zac, Kathey and Scott. It’s in my jewelry box on our dresser.
Sometimes I like to close my eyes and try to remember what it felt like to have that kind of drive when I got out of bed every day. I know it drove my parents crazy on some level; sending me off to major in musical theater in some strange far away city. But there was nothing that was going to change my mind — so they let me go. Off I flew.
I’m not an actor now, mainly because I was too sensitive to audition for a living and that’s what it takes. I admire my friends who do it. I realized this lack of drive to audition early and I have never looked back.
I know it’s not because I don’t have an innate ability — it’s because I’ve chosen some of my other innate abilities.
Like producing and editing. And writing. And yoga.
And hopefully-one day the most important role of all-being a really great Mom.
My parachute has all kinds of colors, and perhaps that is why I needed to travel all over the place and do all sorts of things. I think we all have lots of colors, and some of us are lucky enough to hone in one one or two of them pretty early.
I try never to regret anything.
Rather, I just trace the moment of devastation to the moments of joy that never would have happened without it.
It works almost every time.