Fortune Cookie Wisdom #19

You have many special gifts, go experiment with them!

I really like this fortune cookie.

But how do you know what your gifts are? I think the best way to find out is by trying  new things.

Last summer my mom retired at age 70. She was really quite miserable after retiring because she really loved her job. She even got an ulcer shortly after retirement. But then she started trying new things. She started a sewing project with her sister-in-law. Once a week, we work together doing genealogy research. She discovered that she really has a passion for history. She wants to start volunteering at the literacy council.

My husband’s step-dad Darryl also retired recently. He, like my mom, has a hard time sitting around doing nothing. He decided that he wanted to be a first responder and signed up to take EMT classes. He also joined his church choir which always practiced during the time he was working.

I wonder what other ‘gifts’ we will discover that we have.

I found out that I love to run when I was in my 30’s and started writing a book this year. I probably won’t be running marathons forever and as of right now I am thinking one and done as far as the book goes. We’ll see where this path takes me.

I am encouraged by the others around me that even in my 60’s and 70’s, I might still find new and exciting gifts.

 

 

De-roling

My daughter Arabella said something interesting the other day. Yesterday I told you that I found a new friend from the theater who is also a runner. Arabella said she didn’t know if she liked my new friend or if it was just her character that liked her. Interesting! My daughter was the maid of my new friend in the show. They had a really close stage relationship.

It really got me to think about acting. The last two shows I’ve had stage husbands. I am absolutely in love with both guys, although I would probably never date them if I was single.

This past show, I was in a romantic scene with my stage husband. We were supposed to kiss. But since I am married, the kiss on the lips turned into a kiss on the cheek. How was I supposed to muster up feelings for a complete stranger that I wasn’t remotely interested in and make it look convincing? I had to pretend to be in love with someone I wasn’t in love with.

My husband also had roles where his character was married to another woman. He was married to one woman on stage twice. It really didn’t bother me all that much. But there was another woman he was married to where we ended up stepping down from our roles. This woman was completely gaga about my husband and rubbed it in my face while I played the part of their maid. It didn’t work out well at all. Later she ended up leaving her husband for someone she was in a show with at the theater.

Surprisingly, these things happen in a community theater. Rumor has it that in a previous show a stage husband and wife slept together although they were both married to other people. I could probably write a play about all of the things that happen backstage and call it fiction because no one would ever believe half the stuff was true.

It is strange that while working with someone very closely on stage, you get to know them very quickly. I built relationships within a few weeks that otherwise would take me years to build. I had to feel comfortable working with my stage husbands if I was going to pull it off.

I’ve also had parts in the last two shows where I had to hit people on stage. This past show I had to hit my stage husband. The show previous to that, I had to hit my stage child. I really don’t feel comfortable hitting people, even more so people I don’t know. We really had to work together as a team to make it seem natural because in real life it wasn’t.

But some of the best shows I’ve been in I have had parts where I was married to my husband on stage. We’ve had people ask of if we were married to each other after the shows because if we weren’t we would no longer be married. Being married on stage and off is so much easier to pull off.

Then just like that, the show is over. Do I really like that person I was supposed to be in love with? Or was it just the role I was playing? Reality blurs a bit. I find myself forming friendships with people that I probably wouldn’t otherwise associate with. People of all ages and backgrounds come together for the common goal of putting on a good show.

I have been in enough shows now to know what to expect. As I’ve dealt with the anxiety and excitement of being on stage, I’ve also dealt with the sadness when it is over. For a short period of time, we become family. Then the family falls apart.

The cast members are making plans to get together again. But it won’t be the same. I am just glad for the experience and the friends I’ve made along the way. It’s time to say good-bye to my character, one of my all time favorites. It’s time to de-role until the next show.

I find it interesting with all of the time spent building a character, no one mentions once how to tear it back down and let go. Sometimes that can be more difficult. It makes me wonder how professional actors are able to do it. From all of the tabloids, I see that it doesn’t always work out well for them either.

 

The bittersweet end

Today is the bittersweet day after the show is over. I am relieved to have more time on my hands. I even started working on my book again. But I will miss playing the part. This role was one of my all time favorites. I enjoyed working with the cast and made some new friends.

Things did end up getting a little out of hand with the special needs child backstage this past weekend. I am glad that I mentioned something though. The special needs girl latched on to another teen girl that was totally inappropriate. She said that she would die without the other girl’s attention and demanded to know what she talked about with other people. She even followed the girl out into the wings and hung on her right before going on stage. This behavior was upsetting to everyone and I’m glad I spoke up even though I took some criticism for it.

I did make a new friend, another runner. We are planning on going running together this week. I’m not sure if it will work out. This other woman is younger than me and qualified twice for the Boston Marathon. She is younger and faster. I told her if it doesn’t work out that I wouldn’t have any hard feelings. We have a lot in common, so even if it doesn’t work out maybe we could still be friends.

Friday night, after the first show, the cast that likes to hang around and celebrate got kicked out of the theater after the last patron left. So it was suggested that the next night I would have a pool party at my house. I was already planning that for the second weekend, but last minute threw it together for the first weekend as well. Both nights I ended up going to bed at 3 AM. THREE IN THE MORNING!! I don’t remember ever staying up that late which made the Sunday performance a little hard.

I have a lot of new friends (and enemies) now that I have a house with an indoor pool. For the first time in my life, I am really popular. I want to think people like me for me, but I really don’t care anymore. It makes me feel special, liked. In a strange way it makes me feel like I can make up now for the childhood I never had.

I had some friends and family come out to the show. Some lady even asked me for my autograph. Yeah, like I am ever going to be famous for my acting. But it felt good.

Something strange happened. My mom came to the show and my stage husband raved on and on to her about how wonderful I was on stage and off. My mother replied, “Is that so?” and then spoke to me about a problem she was having. She wanted my help in solving the problem. Why would she talk to me about something like that right after a show? Why didn’t she rave about the show? Or me? Or my daughter who had her first solo in a performance? I really felt hurt and wondered if she was always like that or if it was the first time I noticed it?

Someone asked me why I liked performing. I really had to think about it. I like to be somebody else. I love the costumes and the makeup. I love to sing. I love to be challenged. The strange thing about being an anxious person is that I don’t feel a lot more anxious being on stage than I already feel. Which in a weird way frees me to try things that most people would be anxious about. Plus I already know how to deal with anxiety. Does that make sense?

It was great to be in the show, but I am ready to get back to my regular programming with a couple of new friends in tow.

 

Goal 6: Try new things/explore different interests/be fun/enjoy lifelong learning.

When I was younger I was afraid to try new things. Now that I am older, I long for something new.

When I was younger, I never thought I was good enough or smart enough. But being older, I don’t really care if I make a fool out of myself.

This morning I went to an exercise class for the first time. I was the only one in the front row, all the other spots were taken. Front and center for everyone to watch me make mistakes. But I don’t care anymore. Besides I am old enough to know that everyone else is really concerned about themselves and how they look. If they make fun of me, shame on them.

Everyone has been very welcoming though. I took a strength training class for the first time this week and everyone introduced themselves and helped me set up my equipment. Someone even cleaned and put away some of my stuff. They even gave me helpful suggestions and asked if I was coming back.

I have to admit, I’ve been rather shocked lately about the kindness of other people.

I’ve been trying new things, like exercise classes. I also bought an Indian cookbook. I  tried making a few recipes this week. They turned out okay, although it has been a real challenge to find the ingredients I need.

The most exciting new adventure for me this year has been to start writing a book. I am still terrified about this! I’m not sure how it will turn out, but I keep pecking away at it every day.

I don’t have to be perfect nor do I even need to be good to enjoy trying new things. It took me a long time in life just to learn that.

 

The community theater extrovert

I don’t know what it is about community theater. I become a whole different person. I’m not just talking about the role I’m playing as a character, I’m talking about me as a person. I become an extrovert.

In real life I am not much of a social person. I blog, does that count? You get the idea. I like to keep my opinions to myself. I shy away from the spotlight and become a wallflower. I am moody, melancholy, and not at all agreeable. But at the theater, I am an extrovert on stage and off. All or nothing, baby! My most redeeming social quality is that I have a quick wit. I love to make people laugh. After the evening shows, Paul and I rarely made it to bed before 1 AM.

One night after celebrating at the theater, we had a couple of people crash at our house. One of the actresses confessed that she has cancer and is going through her third round of radiation next week. How could I say ‘no’ to that? Come on over! That night I went to bed at 2 AM then got up the next morning and did the show all over again. That is life as a community theater extrovert I guess.

You tend to meet a whole bunch of eccentric characters at the theater. For a brief time, they get to be someone else too. I wish I could say that all other life stops for awhile during the run of a show, but it goes on. I lost my job during the run of the show. I wasn’t the only one either. A cast member had a funeral to attend out of state. One young girl got her first period and had to reach out to people that were basically strangers to help.

For that short period of time, we became like family and you know how it is with family…some people drive you nuts. Oh, and there is always drama.

There was this new lady that was very beautiful, nice, encouraging, optimistic, and cheerful. She also totally annoyed the crap out of me. Every time she was on stage she would over act and upstage me. It drove me nuts. Back stage she dumped my whole water bottle on my dry clothes. It was an accident so I couldn’t do anything but suppress my irritation. She apologized profusely. When we had only two shows left, she decided that she didn’t like the dance routine choreography and wanted everyone to change it without actually telling everyone who would be on stage at the time. I told her there was no way I would be changing anything.

My husband Paul had the lead part. He had somewhere around 200 lines to memorize. Most of them were a paragraph long. He did a great job. Everyone thought that he had a natural gift for memorizing. Does anyone?? I really want to know. He spent at least an hour a day going through his lines.

There were love triangles on stage and off. Did you know that the theater is also a good place to fall in love? My uncle Rick met someone at the theater for a first date and they are already engaged!

Sometimes things didn’t go as planned. Lines got missed or messed up. Once the curtain opened at the wrong time while a woman was changing behind it. One little girl got hit hard on the head by someone moving a prop. Three other people fell, one while tied up. Many people had sore throats. We wandered around the rest of the week like exhausted zombie versions of ourselves while life continued on.

Then after the show is over, the main characters have to de-role. It is time to say good-bye to the new family. There is a period of sadness and loss after saying bye to a beloved character that almost becomes you for awhile.

For that brief time, everybody loved you. You were someone special, a star. The anxiety of performing is a major adrenaline rush. It is thrilling! Did I mention the costumes, makeup, wigs, and hair primping? Fun!

Then when it is all done, we go back to our normal lives until the next show.

 

New beginnings

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

With each and every day, it has become easier to adjust to losing my job. There are some positive things about it. I will have less stress from work. Plus I am planning on taking some time off to do all of the things I have been putting off since I didn’t have time because I was working over the past decade.

Just think of all the things I could do with an extra 130 hours a month!

I am planning on spending time with my parents putting together a genealogy record for my family. It seems like yesterday that I was walking around cemeteries and talking to family, since deceased, with my grandma. Next year grandma will be gone 10 years and now is the time to start the process with my parents. I also want to take all of the old family photos and put them into digital format which is a huge undertaking.

I want to write two books, one about growing up with a violent autistic sibling and the other about Paul’s journey from rags to riches. I don’t care if they are bestsellers, I just want the family history documented if only for future generations. Maybe I’ll take some writing classes. At the very least, I will have time to read a few books.

I want to double my time at the gym. I want to be ready to run a 50k.

I want to take a photography class and at the minimum take more photos.

I want to learn how to cook different ethnic dishes. I want to eat healthier. Maybe I will brew my own beer.

I want to spend more time with my children. Alex is doing so much better, but there still have been a few bumps in the road. Arabella wants me to audition for the next community theater show with her. I want to be a better singer and dancer.

I am starting to let things go. My staff and I had a combined 20 years of experience that we used as a team to handle operations. It is hard to hand over operations to a staff I deem as inexperienced. Although it is terribly frustrating, it is nice to hand over all of the resulting customer service issues to them. It’s not my problem anymore.

Today my daughter Angel’s beta fish that she got when she was in high school died. Now she is a junior in college. I flushed the last remaining shred of her childhood good-bye. But I will be able to spend more time with her when she is home and take more trips out to see her when she is gone.

Change is hard, but it is time for new beginnings.

 

 

Ancestry vs DNA

A couple months back I shared my AncestryDNA results.

I was frustrated with it because all of my genealogy records compiled by my great aunt pre-internet, and even the research I did myself, did not match the DNA results like I was expecting. The genealogy records showed a strong German heritage, the DNA results did not.

It was very confusing for me because my records did not match the DNA results. Which records were right then??

Without really realizing it, I had identified with my German roots. After all, I was called a stubborn German by relatives. It’s no wonder why I enjoy German beer and sauerkraut. My grandpa and great aunt spoke to me with German words. Strangers remarked how German I look.

Then when the DNA results came back with 10% German, I felt like I lost part of my identity. It was part of who I thought I was. It was the connection that I had with my grandparents. They are long gone and I am not even me anymore. I lost all interest in genealogy at that point.

Then a couple of weeks back, I received an email from Ancestry stating that my DNA results have been updated. Apparently now I am mostly Germanic European. They were even able to pinpoint the region in Germany from my genealogy records. What??!? How confusing is that?

The good news is that now my records match. Otherwise who would I believe? Science or a long line of family tradition and record keeping?? I was really doubting the family records. There were a lot more questions than answers.

Maybe I’ll dive back into genealogy again. It has been about 10 years since I started digging for my roots online. I bet a lot has changed since then with the information that is available. It would make for a great hobby on a cold winter’s night.

 

 

What’s in your genes?

Last week my son’s Ancestry DNA results came back.

It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. In fact, I don’t think he is my son.

Well, that might be taking it a little far…

My son is only 7% German. According to my genealogy records, I should be at least 75% German. In fact, just last week someone commented to me out of the blue how German I look. My husband even said that he doesn’t know anyone that looks more German than I do. That was before my son got his results back. Now I’m not so sure anymore..

My son is 27% Polish which definitely comes from Paul. He is also 10% Italian which was also a bit of a shocker. I am going to say that Paul is Italian. Both Alex and Paul look a little Italian to me. Plus Paul loves Italian food, music, and wine. My records do not indicate that I am Italian.

Of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered 4 more Ancestry DNA tests for each member of my family. It was the only online shopping I did while trapped inside 3 days during the blizzard. You should be proud of me! Lol. I was tempted to order the ‘how to speak German’ kit and buy plane tickets, but hey maybe I’m not even German.

Now here is the big kicker…My son is almost 50% British. I didn’t know that my husband was British. My genealogy records indicate a small percentage of British blood.

Last year Paul’s mother passed away. He never knew who his father was. His mother told him some very limited details about the identity of his real father. One thing she said was that his dad’s last name was Wilson. The Ancestry DNA results matched my son up with an unknown 2nd cousin with the last name Wilson.

I’ve opened Pandora’s box. Should I reach out and contact this unknown cousin? I asked Paul what his thoughts were. He doesn’t care either way. Is there more to gain or to lose?? I honestly don’t know. What are your thoughts?? I have been tossing this around in my brain a lot lately…especially since soon this Wilson guy is going to be seeing 3 more close relatives that he probably had no idea existed.

I started digging around in my family tree to try to find my British link. I found 2 separate lines going back to England both with the last name of Wilson. Then it hit me. Oh my gosh, could my husband and I be related?? Is that why my son is so British?? What have I gotten myself into now??

I can tell you one thing, this has really renewed my interest in genealogy.

 

 

 

Out running

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Change is inevitable. It happens each season. This week a cold wind came into Wisconsin and blew the warm falls days and sunshine away. Sadly, I started going to the gym and running on the dreadmill again. I really can’t complain. It has been a warm fall with hotter temperatures than this summer.

Usually we get our first few flurries by this time of year. It makes me remember my grandma. For the first little snowfall she would write the word flurries or put a F on her empty calendar like it was a huge event. I have a F on my calendar too. It reminds me when I need to give my pets their flea medicine. Seriously, what did you think it stands for??

The last time I ran outdoors, I took a few photos to show you how beautiful my running route is. It was probably a good time for a change anyway. People were getting to know my routine which can be a little disconcerting. It was always the same cars that almost hit me. People were starting to actually honk when I wore my ‘honk if you’re going to hit me’ shirt.

I had a great season with huge goals…My first 18 mile trail run weekend, my first Olympic triathlon, and my first Half Ironman. Plus I ran another marathon. I am thinking of cutting back though. I’m not going to decide for sure until January.

Three out of four races, I had to travel far enough from home to need a hotel room. Plus adding in all of the gear and race fees, it can be a pricey hobby. I will probably still race, but will cut back on the amount of races and the longer distances. I also might want to try other things like doing a Tough Mudder. Plus next summer, the local theater is planning on doing the show Cabaret which is heavy on dancing.

Running has a special place in my heart. I spoke to my trainer at the gym this week. I told him that my races went well but I was thinking of cutting back. I told him that I want to run for the long run. Running gives me time to process my life in a healthy way. I don’t want to over train, hate it, or get hurt. I want to enjoy this hobby as long as possible. Plus I want to do other things I enjoy like dancing, cross country skiing, or kickboxing without being locked in an always training box.

I just love to run. Who knows? I might be able to get outside a few more times this year before it snows. Wisconsin is a very beautiful place to run.

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Risking adventure

This past weekend my son went cliff diving. Thankfully, he lived to tell about it. Honestly, it looks like a lot of fun.

My son loves adventure. Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.

A few weeks back my son sprained his ankle at the trampoline park. Thankfully, he didn’t get hurt more seriously. Honestly, the trampoline park sounds like fun. I would probably want to hang out there if I was 17 too.

Despite missing a week of work at his new summer job for a sprained ankle, my son is getting up before dawn to put in 40 hours of hard labor at a flooring company. I can’t treat him like a baby anymore. He is taking a lot of responsibility and working hard.

With his first paycheck, he bought an electric bass guitar. It is so cool. He has the ability to pick up any instrument and quickly learn how to play it. He is being courted by a couple of bands. How exciting! What an adventure I am sure that will be. I wish I could’ve done that when I was his age!

In a few weeks, he will be getting a motorcycle. If my husband was into motorcycles, you can bet I would be riding on the back of it or getting one of my own. How thrilling!

But as a mother, I am not too keen on my son’s adventures. What if he gets seriously hurt or worse??

My husband says we would be total hypocrites if we are adventurous but discouraged it in our children. I suppose our son could spend his life locked away in his room playing video games, but that is probably dangerous too.

I just told you a couple of weeks back how the rudder broke on our sailboat during a race. We spun in circles in rough water and had to come back against the other boats that were coming towards us. That adventure could’ve ended poorly, but it didn’t. It made for a great story and the most exciting race ever.

My hobbies aren’t the safest.

I could drown while swimming or sailing. There is a 1 mile stretch of my running and biking route that are especially dangerous. I’ve almost been hit in that area by idiot drivers a few times. But I have yet to change my route. Last year a pedestrian died on that road. Granted it was dark and he was wearing all black.

This week I was running on the dangerous stretch of road when just under the hill a Bambi froze in the middle of the road about 20 feet in front of me. I knew if I didn’t start yelling at the animal that a car could come over the hill, swerve, and hit me. It could’ve been dangerous.

It was at that moment I realized that my son is no different from me. We want an exciting life of adventure which means unexpected things can happen. We don’t want to get hurt doing it, but are willing to take the risk to do something that makes our lives more fulfilling.

It is time to start letting go and letting him live his own life. That doesn’t mean I will stop worrying or trying to give unsolicited motherly advice!

You probably know which child is giving me most of my gray hair!