Friday, April 7, 2017

Act II: Where Dreams Collide


I have loved live theater for as long as I can remember.

Everything about it has always filled my whole body with excitement. Finding my seat in the flip-down, red velvet chairs. The sound of the orchestra warming up. The moment the lights first dim. The decorated, glittery costumes. The ever rising emotions of the music. The devotion and passion of the actors. 

It is an art that speaks to me like no other. 

I was in my first real musical production when I was 16 years old and have been lucky to take my place on that hollow, black floor many times since. Yet, whether I have been on that stage myself or seated comfortably in the audience, the intricacy of all these elements has always filled my heart with a million wild butterflies.

Showboat, Leavenworth Summer Theater 2006

While all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, the part of live theater that most deeply tugs at my heart strings is the undetermined, uncertain, cliffhanger and peak of the plot; the middle. Those final, perfect moments before the production's intermission and the close of the curtain.

For most of the audience, this is the time when everyone gets up for their bathroom or snack break, just hoping that the 15 minutes they are allotted are enough to get what they need done. Me? I watch the clock move like molasses until those lights finally dim once again so that I can find out how the story will continue. Will Maria return to the von Trapp family? Will Belle save her father from Gaston's malicious plot and return to the Beast? Will Elphaba really be able to defy gravity and use her powers for good?

This turning point in a story is one that I have identified with very much recently. Unfortunately, for me in my real-life story the time between Act I and Act II has been much longer than 15 minutes. 

Around mid-2015, I (finally) decided that the corporate world just wasn't the place for me. My experiences and self-reflection directed me toward an idea I hope will fit. While this certain profession was never a thought in my mind before, I knew I needed an ever-changing environment that would allow me to help others using the gifts that God has given me. Patience, kindness, creativity. I realized I needed to teach.

Being the first child of two amazing educators, I didn't want to simply follow in their footsteps. I was too much of a rebel for that. I have always desired to make my own path. But what I realized somewhere around the end 2015 was that I had already made my own path. It was full of travel, following my own crazy dreams and letting my heart go where it lead me. But it had eventually lead me back to what I truly desire: to make a real difference, and maybe the classroom was the place. 

I landed my fist teaching job in August of 2016. Kindergarten (not my first choice ). Yet, it was impossible to not fall in love with the innocence, the loyalty, and the curiosity of those sweet children. Everything about my job was wonderful. From dressing up silly, to singing songs, pulling loose teeth and wiping snotty noses. It was the greatest job I have had since working for Disney, but I was paid just as little.

I loved this new dream. Teaching. Guiding. Loving on kids.

But I was broke as s**t. 

I recently just passed my four year anniversary of living in heaven (aka San Diego). Unfortunately, teaching part-time and nannying in the evenings just wasn't enough to keep my head above the sea of debt and bills. While I was thankful for paying my way to earn my undergraduate degree almost entirely by working three jobs (and also by the mercy of a few scholarships), my dream and decision to move to San Diego had drained my bank account, maxed my credit cards, and stole every penny from every paycheck I worked my butt off for.

I loved San Diego. The beaches, the culture, the people... the infinite sunshine. But I also loved following my passions, my purpose, and being there for others (even my kinders after they got sand in their eyes). Yet somehow, I felt my dreams colliding in a devastating, unmanageable way. How could I live out my passions and also live in my dream destination?

If my life, so far, was a musical, the first act would certainly entertain you with journeys and adventures of life lived in The Happiest Place on Earth, in the bush of Tanzania, and to the place "the princess" of this story longed to live forever: San Diego. But before the curtain closes, you'd find that this princess is in a tough place. Choosing between dreams, coping with unhealthy habits, and crying for help. To friends, to family, and even the government.

That's where she leaves you.

The curtain has closed. She is safe. She is getting help. And she is watching the clock move as slow as molasses until Act II begins and she can find out how her story moves on.

Go pee. Grab your popcorn. Because this story will have a happy ending. As the main character in this story, I'm not sure how it will happen, and neither will you. But sit tight.

The entr'acte is ready to begin.

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