Hey Death, BITE me!

BITE is out tonight.  it is dedicated to a wonderful woman of God who has taught me more about living than anyone I know.

 

Bite:

There is a certain sleepy South Dakota town which lies just off the Interstate 29 and most people would miss the jewel that it is unless you drive off the main road, stop awhile, and take up residence.  It is the kind of town where groups of farmers congregate in shifts at the local gas station and receive coffee refills for 75 cents and where kids appear in your backyard simply because they know your son or daughter and they want to play outside after school.  Many would choose not to settle here, opting for larger cities or something closer to bigger shopping and malls.  There is really nothing outstanding that would set this town apart from most small town rural America, nothing except its commitment to its residents.

In this town on a particular fall evening the local Legion Hall was bustling with music blaring down Main Street.  Streams of people milling in and out of the building made one wonder what sort of hoodlum party was taking place, grass skirts and coconuts litter the sidewalk.  Cars are parked diagonal and through the middle of the street as we see kids, teens, moms and dads accompanied by grandmas and grandpas filter into the hall.

Holding court, in a gaily colored leu is the reason they have all gathered.  In every way it looks like the Pacific islands have come to play for an evening.  Dancing, music, laughter, and more food than one can imagine line tables.  Succulent ribs and racks of bar b que are flanked by baked beans and one whole table is covered with slabs of cake with inch thick whipped frosting.  There is joy and conversation and youth alive in this space, and that is exactly how the guest of honor wants it.

She has come home to this little town on the prairie to live out her remaining days, a young woman with a body riddled with cancer, but a spirit which knows only grace and love unconditional.  Not yet thirty, she has fought the better part of her twenties with a disease that wants to claim her, she won’t let it.  She approaches it with a bite of grit and good humor and the kind of work ethic one imagines of a South Dakota raised woman.  There is nothing fleeting or wimpy about this woman, this warrior of mercy and forgiveness.

Yes of course, she would love to bite back at this wretched illness and kick its butt to the curb, and she has put up a valiant fight, so much that the townspeople would gladly take it from her.  She has mirrored for the younger teens in band how to hold their heads up with humble pride and dignity, never shirking from what her instinct told her she must do.  She has fought and in the process has shown each of us what it means to join the journey with someone, no matter how crappy the road ahead appears.

Time is running low for our girl and while we would all will every ounce of youth and health and strength to her, she has shown us how to let go and how to accept a fate that hurts.  She is honest in her ordeal, real in admitting that sometimes the pain has been too much to handle, that the road has not always looked pretty.  Yet, she has become even more beautiful as her life comes full circle.  Tonight residents poured out in droves to love on one of their own, she is beloved to them, to all who know her.  Her desire was to spend her last moments with her family, surrounded by support and the agape love she has come to know from her Creator.  As she prepares to say goodbye to her earthly family, she is aware of the eternal family waiting to embrace her.  Again, she teaches us with quiet grace what moving toward eternity looks like.  She demonstrates the sweet Spirit of Holy listening and resilient resolve.

“I want to be home, and that’s where I am going.”  Welcome home to our lovely young woman, an example of Psalms which tells us that death no longer has a sting, no longer has a bite.  She has embraced the essence of living and the Promise of eternity awaits her and we are better children of God for having shared her journey.

 

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

The Message (MSG)

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed.

GROUND WORKS KICKS OFF SUMMER!

hayward build may 2012 done done

HAD to POST this.

10 Ways Being a Theatre Major Prepared Me for Success

Posted on January 16, 2012 by

I chose to post this because it spoke to part of my guts and soul.  The older I become, the more I understand I must keep in contact with those pieces of me that make my soul sing.  The world wants me to fit a mold, and I cannot.  Now, I know why.  My profs at SDSU in South Dakota taught me well.  I am indebted to them.  See the following post.

When I chose my major, I had no pipe dreams about becoming a professional actor. I did it because more than one wise adult had advised me that my actual major in college would have less impact on my eventual job search than having the actual degree. “Study what you love” I was told, “not what you think will get you a job.” I listened for once and chose theatre because I’d done it all through my secondary education, I had relative success doing it, and because I simply loved being a part of it. Fortunately, my parents gave me absolutely no grief about my choice (unlike most of my fellow majors. Thanks mom & dad!)

Fast forward 25 years and, like many people, I am no where near the waypoint on life’s road I envisioned I’d be back in college. Almost 20 years as a business consultant and now a business owner with a modestly successful track record in my business and blogging, I realize how much being a theatre major set me on the road towards success.

Here are 10 ways being a theatre major helped me succeed:

  1. Improvisation. The great thing about the stage is that when it’s live and you’re up in front of that audience anything can, and does, happen. Dropped lines, missed entrances, or malfunctioning props require you to improvise while maintaining your cool. Theatre taught me how to focus, think quickly and make do while giving the impression that you’ve got it all under control. It’s served me well when clients, airlines, coworkers, or technology wreak unexpected havoc at the worst possible moment.
  2. Project Management. A stage production is basically a business project. You have teams of people making up one team working to successfully accomplish a task on time, on budget in such a way that you earn the applause and an occasional standing ovation. Being taught to stand at the helm of a theatrical production was a project management practicum.
  3. Working with a Limited Budget. Everybody who has worked on stage knows that it’s not the road to fortune. Most plays (especially small college shows) are produced on a shoestring budget. This forces you to be imaginative, do more with less and find creative ways to get the results you want without spending money. Ask any corporate manager and they’ll tell you that this pretty much describes their job. Mine too.
  4. Dealing with Very Different Human Beings.The theatrical community is a mash-up of interesting characters. It always has been. From fringe to freakish to frappucino sipping socialites and everything in between, you’re going to encounter the most amazing and stimulating cross-section of humanity when you work in theatre. In my business career I have the unique and challenging task of walking in the CEO’s office in the morning to present our findings in an executive summary presentation and to receive a high level grilling. I will then spend the afternoon presenting the same data to overworked, underpaid, cynical front-line employees and get a very different grilling. Theatre taught me how to appreciate, understand and effectively communicate with a widely diverse group of human beings.
  5. Understanding the Human Condition. Most people have the mistaken impression that acting is all about pretending and being “fake” in front of others. What I learned as a theatre major was that good actors learn the human condition intimately through observation and painfully detailed introspection. The better you understand that human being you are portraying from the inside out, the better and more authentic your performance is going to be. In my business I am constantly using the same general methods to understand my clients, their customers as well as myself and my co-workers. I believe that having a better understanding of myself and others has ultimately made me a better (though far from perfect) employee, consultant, employer, and ultimately friend. I didn’t learn methods of observing and understanding others in Macro Econ, I learned it in Acting I & Acting II.
  6. Doing Whatever Needs to Be Done. When you’re a theatre major at a small liberal arts college there is little room for specializing within your field. You have to learn to do it all. Light design, sound engineering, acting, directing, producing, marketing, PR, set design, set construction, ticket sales, budgeting, customer service, ushering, make-up, and costuming are all things I had to do as part of my college career. Within our merry band of theatre majors we all had to learn every piece of a production because at some point we would be required to do what needed to be done. I learned that I can capably do just about anything that I need to do. I may not love it and I may not be gifted or excellent at it, but give me a task and I’ll figure it out. I now work for a small consulting firm that requires me to do a wide range of tasks. The experience, can-do attitude and indomitable spirit I learned in the theatre have been essential to success.
  7. Hard work. I remember creating a tree for one of our college shows. We had no idea how we were going to do it, but we made an amazing life-like tree that emerged from the stage and looked as if it disappeared into the ceiling above the theatre. My team mates and I cut out each and every leaf and individually hot-glued them to the branches of the tree. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them glued on while standing precariously on a rickety ladder high enough above the stage that it would make an OSHA inspector soil his boxers. Sleepless nights, burnt fingers and a few brushes with tragedy were needed to get that tree done. But, we got it done. It was fabulous. And a few days later we tore it down, threw it out, and got ready for the next production. C’est la vie. In business I have periods of time with unbelievable workloads in which there are sleepless nights, seemingly endless days and tireless work on projects that will be presented and then will be over. The report will be archived and I’m onto the next project. C’est la vie. I learned all about that as a theatre major.
  8. Making Difficult Choices. You’ve got four parts and twenty four schoolmates who auditioned. Some of them are your best friends and fellow theatre majors. Do you choose the unexperienced jock because he’s best for the part or the friend and fellow theatre major who you fear will never talk to you again if you don’t cast him? My senior project was supposed to be performed outside in the amphitheater but the weather was cold, windy and miserable. Do I choose to stick with the plan because it’s what my actors are comfortable with and it’s what we’ve rehearsed and it will only stress out the cast and crew to change the venue at the last minute? Or, do I choose to think about the audience who will be more comfortable and might actually pay attention and appreciate the performance if they are inside away from the cold, the wind and possible rain? [I changed the venue]. Any business person will tell you that difficult decisions must sometimes be made. The higher the position the harder the decisions and the more people those decisions affect. Being a theatre major gave me a taste of what I would have to digest in my business career.
  9. Presentation Skills. Okay, it’s a no brainer but any corporate employee can tell you horror stories of having to endure long training sessions or corporate presentations by boring, unprepared, incompetent or just plain awful presenters. From what I’ve experienced, individuals who can stand up confidently in front of a group of people and capably, effectively communicate their message while even being motivating and a little entertaining are among the rarest individuals in the business world. Being a theatre major helped me be one of them.
  10. Doing the Best You Can With What You’ve Got. Over the years I’ve told countless front line service reps that this is rule #1 of customer service. You do the best you can with what you’ve got to work with. I remember an Acting I class in college in which a pair of students got up to present a scene they’d prepared. They presented the scene on a bare stage with no lighting, make-up, costumes, props or set pieces. It was just two students acting out the script. It was one of those magic moments that happen with live theatre. The rest of the class were transfixed and pulled into the moment, reacting with surprising emotion to what they witnessed. You don’t need Broadway theatrics to create a magical theatrical moment on stage. You don’t even need a stage. The same is true of customer service. You don’t always need the latest technology, the best system, or the greatest whiz bang doo-dads. A capable CSR doing the best they can and serving a customer with courtesy, empathy, friendliness and a commitment to resolve can and does win customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What I have learned I’ve tried to pass on to my own children. Study what you love. Follow your passion. It will serve you well wherever life’s road takes you.

 

Shalom, cahl

Freeze Frame

Not a flake of snow on the ground, nothing.  Nary a wind kissing the treetops, nothing. Snippets of people biking or walking by, dog screaming her comments, is this really January in the Midwest?

Hard to believe what I am seeing out my house window.  I hear birds singing, fat, FAT squirrels hardly able to scamper across the road (who’s going GIECO now?), kids digging out their bikes, and parents placing laundry on the line.  It feels rather surreal, like i am really not here watching this and it is really not taking place…..anyone ever feel like that?

If my dog were not piercing the sound barrier with her bark I would swear this was all the figment of a dream….but it’s not.  There is something oddly welcoming  and peaceful in this unexpected sight.  Part of me wants to understand it, figure out what it causing it and thus master it in order to replicate it.  That is the human and Western tendency, is it not?  Part of me thinks, wow, if I could bottle this phenomena, market it well, I could be a millionaire!    Yah, part of me thinks that, and I sure that there are others out there thinking the same thought.

The other part of me, the more smooshy side that deals in wonder and expectation and symbols wonders if we are to simply receive?  Maybe this is not one for figuring out or replicating, or anticipating when our big punishment of snow will happen.  Maybe this is a chance to Freeze the Frame and simply bask in it.  A gift becomes a true gift when well received, whether expected or not. that is what makes it a gift.  If we can combine that thought with the PRESENT, we are gifted NOW, right here in this moment.  How are we present in that?  How am I present in this moment and do I view it as a gift?  I am entertaining ways to do just that.

In that thought, I am going to close a blog post I would normally have written much more on, to take some quiet moments listening to what the birds and the crunch of the gravel on the street have to tell me.

Shalom,

cahl

you know you’re in small town…..

While picking up my car from an oil change, we passed by a very large man, clad with coveralls and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth…His car painted Dukes of Hazzard General Lee!!! I giggled to myself as his beefy arm hung out the window at the end of December in South Dakota.

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