Day 14:Halloween

Today is Halloween. For me, this day is special. It is not simply the day to go get candy from strangers, to dress up in costume or having parties. Having studied a wide variety of spiritual paths, I have adopted many customs into my own personal spiritual practice. One of these practices is following the calendar in a different way. I follow what some call the wheel of the year. This calendar begins and ends with today, or more specifically tonight.

The wheel of the year follows the seasons. There are eight markers, holidays, or sabbats that indicate a special time of the year. Tonight represents the end of harvest, saying goodbye to the past, to loved ones that have left us, either through death or simply moving out of our life. This is a time of closing one door and opening a new one.

There are many things that I do on this night. If anyone has passed away or moved out of my life, I remember them and say a fond farewell. I also go through the process of releasing the previous year’s business, putting away the past. Typically this is accomplished by burning a journal in our fire pit. I am not certain that I know what this will look like tonight, as I do not have a physical journal this year and our fire pit is not in a very usable condition. I also do some minor goal setting, getting ready for what is to come in the new year.

Part of this process, I feel, is going to happen through this gratitude entry. This has been a very challenging year. There have been many health issues within the family that have made things difficult, both financially and physically. There have been, financial obstacles come up that have truly changed the course of everything we hoped to accomplish this year. There have also been emotional and mental issues that have taxed our ability to cope. All in all this has been the most challenging year that we have had in a very long time.

However, there has also been good. We have simplified our lives and made our world much easier to manage by making healthy decisions about what is important to us. Our children had very big years. Our middle child has moved out on her own and has started a new chapter in her life. Our youngest has gone through a great deal of growth and has stepped out of her box to do some something she hasn’t really done before. Our oldest has made significant changes to her life to be healthier and happier. As a couple, we have grown and become closer as we have met the challenges of the year. We have had some really good experiences and accomplished some fun and exciting things, from a performer standpoint.

There is a lot of unpleasantness to say goodbye to since last Halloween, but there is also a lot of good to set aside, making space for the good that is coming this go round. When looking at things to be grateful for, it is easy to be grateful for those positives that came into our lives this year. It is also important to look at the challenges, obstacles and growth points, to see the resulting good and be grateful for what grew out of the experiences. This isn’t always easy and when a year has had more of these moments than normal is can be especially difficult. However, it is good to look at these moments for what they were. They were almost always growth moments, uncomfortable, painful and maddening, but what came about because of them was good.

Today I am grateful for a year that has truly challenged and changed me.

Namaste

Rev J

Day 13: the basics

In the grand scheme of things, I have a good life. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat. I am surrounded by people that are important to me and I am important to them. I have transportation and all of my needs are met. Are things perfect? No. There are many ways that things could be better.

Over the course of the last two years we have accumulated medical debt in very large amounts. We have worked very hard to eliminate that type of thing from our lives and it is back in a big way. This is keeping us from doing things that we would very much like to do. Financial stress is probably the biggest negative impact on our lives right now.

There are medical issues that keep coming back around that are causing us a significant amount of stress. Medical issues are probably the second biggest stresser in our lives.

Above an beyond these things, our life is pretty good. We are happy, safe, and well cared for. I have looked at how things are going to change over the next few months and some of these issues are going to improve dramatically. Over the course of the few couple of years, things will snow ball in the correct direction and these issues will minimize. It will take discipline and continued hard work but in the end this should make our lives going forward much better.

All in all, my life is not only good, it is very good. I am so grateful for having all of the basics covered and how things continue to unfold in ways that show a great deal of promise. This is a lesson in patience and discipline. If we play this correctly we should be able to say yes to many more things by the end of 2018. that seems like a long way off but during the course of that time, we will be able to say yes to things more often until such time as we will be completely out of debt, save for the house.

That is very exciting. It is easy to get caught in a place of lack when there are people around you that are saying yes to so much and you are doing your best to be patient and work a program. However, in the course of a life, two years is a short period of time to wait for things to right. In the meantime, we have everything we need. It is beyond needs that we are waiting on.

Today I am grateful for the basics in life, food, shelter, security.

Namaste

Rev J

Day 12: Fellowship

One of the nice things about being a performer and a musician is there are so many creative people in my world. I just spent an hour or so with one of these people. Just sat and talked about stuff. We talked about new houses, new projects, old stories, just stuff. It, by all accounts, was a pretty pedestrian set of topics. The take however is very different.

Creative people have a way of looking at things that analytical or process driven people do. When I talk with a person that has a very process driven mind, the conversation is cause, effect, result driven, target conscious conversation, which is great. However, when I get to spend time, without a deadline, script, or performance in mind, the tone is so different. The conversation is more about how things feel, how things touch you. It is difficult to describe the difference in how it feels. Creative conversations feel more heart centered, and at the same time more ethereal. We seldom talk about earth shattering topics like politics or world events, but when we do it is from a world view that isn’t border driven.

Fellowship is an important part of the life of a human. People need other people. Being able to check in with another person and let them know what is on your mind and hearing what they have to say is important. When you are able to connect on a matching plane it is even better. We need each others stories, each others experiences. We need to share what is meaningful.

As a wade through this thing that is a lifelong recovery from mental illness and physical disability, I have too often shut out this important aspect of being human. I did this in part because all too often the conversation would turn to questions about these things and not things that were important to me. In the eyes of those around me, I became my illnesses. In my own eyes this happened as well. I stopped being a person and I became a list if diagnosis and medicine.

Now that I am moving along this time line and reestablishing what it means to be Jason, I am craving fellowship. I want to be around people, but not just any people. I want to be around people who want to be better people. From my wife, who is very creative, to my musician friends, to my performer friends. I want to be around creative people. I want to be around people that want to make a difference and want me to make a difference as well.

I am starting to sort of the difference between someone I know and someone who wants and needs this fellowship as well. The people you surround yourself with are the people that help create the person you are becoming. I know now who I want to be around.

Today I am grateful for fellowship with the creative people in my life.

Day 11: Kay

One of the funny things about disability is that as soon as you get hit with conditions that lead to it, people with power tell you all the things that you can’t do. After my back surgery I was told by my surgeon that I couldn’t lift more than ten pounds ever again. I was told to not bend at the waist to pick things up ever again. I was told not to sit this way. I was told I can’t lay like this. I was given what seemed like pages of things I just couldn’t do anymore.

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I was given another list. This one was more subtle. I wont be able to be in control of my emotions. I wont be able to manage my moods. I just can’t deal with social situations anymore. No one ever specifically said those exact words, but during the process of digging in to what was my diagnosis and how to treat it, I received subtle cues that these things were changing.

For some time I listened to all of it and I did the only thing that I thought I could, nothing. I spent years looking for ways to not do things, to avoid activities and to basically avoid life. All the while, someone was waiting, and watching. This person never thought that I couldn’t do things. She simply waited for me. She put a lot of things on hold and her life, in many ways, stopped to.

Finally I think I got bored to the point where I started trying to do things. I know I got frustrated by not being able to do things. However it happened I started experimenting with doing things again. I had a chorus of people telling me not to and sometimes they were right, I shouldn’t have been doing the thing, but I always had someone in my corner.

She wasn’t always a cheerleader. Sometimes she would just watch, or listen, but she was always there and she was always on my side. She even patiently listened to my delusions knowing, I think, that eventually that whacked out idea would go away only to be replaced with something equally ridiculous and unattainable. She always listens though. She is always in my corner.

When everyone else is telling me what I can’t do. This person let me try the thing. Sometimes it would be something I really shouldn’t do, but I think she knew how hurt my pride was by not being able to do some of the things. She let me try, helped me when I hurt myself, and never made me feel bad about failing at doing very normal stuff.

Today I was watching a video about overcoming obstacles. It was centered on war veterans with multiple limb loss. I really got me to thinking. I have come a long way in what I do, from the guy spending his days in a dark room brooding over losing everything to this person that is at least trying. However, I still have along way to go. I have followed crazy delusions. I have tried realistic goals. I have tried to do the things I used to do. I have pushed myself to the point of re injury and pain, but I have not yet quite found the mark.

The one thing that I do know is that, in fact, I haven’t lost everything. In fact I really haven’t lost anything. My everything has been quietly watching, encouraging, blessing, and healing this stubborn, irrational, unrealistic dreamer for a very long time.

Today, and every day, I am grateful for my Kay, my wife. She has been the rock, the anchor, the coach and cheerleader for me ever since these issues came into our life. I love you baby.

Today I am grateful for my wife Kay

namaste

rev J

Day 10: Reset

I made a mistake starting this project while in the middle of two performance projects. I have been way to busy to write on this blog. I take that back. I had my priorities skewed and did not make time to write on this blog. I allowed my schedule to fill up and I took on more work than was reasonable. The idea behind a gratitude challenge is not only to share ideas of gratitude with others. It has a primary purpose and that, for me, is to remind the writer of what is well in his world and how much he has to be thankful for. It is an opportunity to raise yourself up and redirect thoughts and emotion from a downward spiral to an upward movement.

Today is the first day in quite a while that I do not have anything pressing to do. Sure I have laundry and dishes to do. Those are part of the daily grind, the routine. Today I do not have costume care, rehearsal, workshop, editing, sound, writing, or any other festival or phantoms feast related work to do.

I am thankful to have a day to reset and relax. It has been 16 performance days at festival, and two of the four performance days for feast. Add to that the weekday prep, costume care, rehearsal, study and all the other things that go along with this thing we call Renaissance Festival and it has been months of work. Today is really the first time that is almost totally devoted to day to day.

Performance is an addiction of sorts. There is a feedback loop that you have with an audience that gives you energy and feeds your sense of self. There is also energy output. Sometimes festival performance energy vs feedback is out of balance and it can be very taxing. For those that are familiar with spoon theory, you start borrowing from the future in order to keep up with the pace. Yesterday was the day that those spoons came from apparently. I hit a wall like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t even remember much about yesterday. It just happened.

Balance is something that I need to make more important in my life. I must do a better job of managing my “spoons”, my energy, so that I don’t need a whole day time out in order to maintain.

Today I am grateful for an open schedule to recharge my batteries and find my spoons.

Namaste

Rev J

Day 9, Weird Wisdom

Today I am being pulled in another interesting direction with this project. When I last did this I sat down and made a list of thirty things to be grateful for and each day I wrote about one of the topics. This go round I am waiting until the day and even the moment that I write each entry. It causes things to be a bit less refined that some of the other things I have written but it is a good exercise in living in the moment.

Today I am grateful for weird wisdom. What I mean by weird wisdom is timely bits and pieces that show up in your life at exactly the right moment almost always from sources I typically do not look to for guidance. These are stories that come across my news feed, quotes on my wall, motivation posters someone cooks up, or even words spoken in passing. Weird wisdom falls into the category I call the spiritual 2X4. The spiritual 2X4 is the stuff that just smacks you out of nowhere and rapidly changes your perspective.

I have received a lot of weird wisdom lately. Most of it has happened at festival or has been related to festival. One of the things that almost all of these bits have in common is that they have not come from anyone in a specific leadership, mentor or director role. It has all come from “one of the gang”. Someone will just mention something, almost in passing, and it will make me stop in my tracks.

The most recent item of weird wisdom came from a story I was reading from one of our stage performers. I have been having a strange season. I have been in several different shows in different roles within my specific character. I have also been intermingled into the staff side of things and it has caused me to think a lot about this season as work. I have not truly enjoyed it as much as I have felt invisible and imaginary pressure to make things work. This person told a story of being reminded to have fun while performing at the festival. Suddenly it was BAM right in the face with the spiritual 2X4. One of the things I had forgotten was to enjoy my time at fest. It was weird wisdom because of the people involved in the story were not direct mentors to me, people I do not know that well, and I wasn’t looking to solve that problem. A guy with a guitar and a guy from the pirate singing show, without knowing, slapped me with a very obvious answer to a problem I had written off.

No one was looking to impart any wisdom with anyone else. It was a personal story that was shared about keeping his own attitude where it belonged but it worked as a message for me.

The good stuff doesn’t always come from gurus and spiritual leaders. Sometimes, often times, it comes from “that guy over there”. We are all ministers. We are all healers. We all have a story to tell and that story does contain weird wisdom. I am always on the lookout for the 2X4 and weird wisdom. It’s often the best stuff.

Today I am grateful for weird wisdom.

Namaste

Rev J

Day 8, Little People

Short and to the point…

In my time as a festival performer I spend a good part of the day kneeling or sitting in the dirt with little kids, playing music. They dance to my flute or “help” me play my drum. Sometimes they just stand, stare and smile. It is a pretty good time to see these kids and to entertain them. Many of these kids are small enough that verbal communication is minimal and they don’t have the developed sense of humor to respond to an “acting” interaction. They respond to smiles, waves, hello’s, and music.

This is where I am in my element. Little kids like me and I am perfectly content to sit in the dirt and play music with my tiny audiences. The parents look so grateful that someone is spending time with their child and the littles laugh and dance and have a great time with me. It also makes the parents day when a performer gives their kid special time.

Often a parent will snap a picture and they will have that image with them forever. This weekend I was blessed to have one of our unofficial, official photographers walk right into a moment that I was having with a little. I am now blessed to have a permanent memory to look back on when I am having a why am I doing this moment. When it is hot out, or cold and rainy, and it has been a long season, and that thing I wanted to try in the lanes flops, I now have more than just a memory of an event that meant something to me. I have a picture.

Today I have two gratitudes. I am grateful for the littles that love to play with my traveling musician character in his funny hat, and I am grateful for the pictures that I have of that moment.