Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'm Blessed

I'm truly blessed. I live a charmed life, and sometimes I need a kick in the butt to be reminded of that. I'm in love with a wonderful man. I have the best friends in the whole world. I have the best job I could ever dream of. I have a hobby and a passion that brings me infinite joy. And, I know I'm doing the right thing.

See, once in awhile, I get an itch. When I'm up on stage, sometimes I think... "Wouldn't it be great if I could do this all the time? Every day? Can you imagine having this feeling be your job? Could there be anything more wonderful? To get paid for this joy?" When you're standing in the spotlight, and the audience is on its feet, it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget the insane amount of work it took to get to that place.

For the past month, I've been living the work. This month, I've been doing theatre for my life. And it's been awesome. Last weekend when Annie opened, I have never felt more on top of the world. It's like I tell the kids... why would anyone ever do drugs when there is theatre??? But it was a rough 2 weeks to get to that point. I have a sinus infection, and every day, I wondered (and am still wondering) exactly what is going to come out when I open my mouth. It's scary. I'm blowing more crap out of my nose than I thought I could produce in a lifetime, let alone a couple of weeks. My ears have been plugged (not a great asset for a singer), and my head has been throbbing. I'm going on 10 days now with no end in sight.

My feet look disgusting. Dancers of the world, I salute you, but you must have the ugliest feet of anyone on the planet. Hours in character shoes every day have really taken their toll on my tootsies. Blisters, callouses, swelling, redness, and let's just forget the pedicure I had last month before Martha's Vineyard. Ugh.

My body hurts. A lot. The kids that surround me every day are half my age, and most are half my weight. When we were choreographing "Easy Street," I had about a week of being so sore, I couldn't go down a flight of stairs without wincing and moaning. My hips are aching, and my thighs are all bruised up. Isn't it weird how a person can be completely bruised without knowing how it happened? My toes are smashed, and my throat is killing me (see the two paragraphs above). Advil has been my best friend lately.

I'm emotional, and way more than normal. When your body is your instrument, and you feel like you can't rely on it, it's a frantic feeling. I can't imagine what it must feel like to have to rely on your personal instrument for a paycheck. I'm not made of that kind of stuff. Then add fatigue on top of that, both psychological and physical. I've been a wreck.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. Despite the agony, I wouldn't trade all these hellish side effects for anything. This month has been perfect. The cherry on the sundae of this perfection happened this morning when I got up in front of the interns and sang for a Master's class with Anne Runolfsson. I almost talked myself out of going this morning. I had a meeting at school at 10:00, I was tired, I felt like crap, and I hadn't eaten anything. But I went. And I got up there in front of all the interns, and I sang. I shook like a leaf. My legs were complete jello. That's what happens when I'm nervous AND I haven't eaten. I sang OK. Not great, but OK. But I got wonderful feedback from Anne. She's a performer, but she's a teacher. I love this woman. She's amazing. And I got to thinking...

Here I am again. Putting myself out there where I ask my students to go every day. It was frightening, and I was a mess up there. But this is what it's all about. I am tooting my own horn here, but I really think one of the things that makes me a good teacher is that I'm willing to personally do everything I ask of my kids. I stepped out of my comfort zone into the freefall. I took a deep breath and jumped. Today made me a better teacher. And a teacher is what I am. I love performing, but it's never going to be my job. I like knowing where my paycheck is coming from every month and that if I'm sick, I can call a substitute. I like working with kids every day and sharing books and writing and the arts and everything with them. I do love performing. Maybe I even love it more than teaching, but it's a love that would burn me out if it was every day. The highs and lows are higher and lower than in teaching... at least for me. I can't live without that high completely. It's in my blood. But, I have the best of every world here in Fairfield. I love that I live in a town and have a job where I can take an entire month and pretend performing is my life. I can work with professionals, and I can experience the aches and pains and emotions and friendships and growth and applause and that theatre high. And when the month is over, I can go back to my classroom and my kids.

I'm tearing up as I write this because it's hard to admit that it's almost over. This crazy month is almost over. I only have 4 shows left of playing Miss Hannigan, one of my dream roles. I've learned so much and worked so hard and made so many new friends. What a gift. I'm going to miss it. It's going to leave a definite hole.

Yesterday, I bought 55 composition notebooks at Target. Yep, the school supplies are out. And when the school supplies are out, I'm a little girl again. A little girl organizing her folders and spiral notebooks, laying out pens and pencils and crayons, putting them all in her backpack, only to take them all out the next day and do it all over again. I'm getting another itch. It's the itch that happens every August where I can't wait to get back into my classroom and get things up on the walls and make seating charts. I'm a teacher. A teacher who loves theatre. And I truly have the best of all possible worlds.


  1. So proud of you! And so happy for you.

  2. What an awesome insight! To be able to so clearly see what you love, what you need, what you can do . . . that's rare. I'm glad you decided to stay a teacher, and I love watching you when you're a performer!

  3. You made me cry, this is so honest and beautiful!! We are so lucky to have you here!!! You were fabulous as Miss Hannigan, can't wait to see what you do next. Loads of appreciation, Joanne Poole

  4. Apart from being a wonderful performer (see that girl DANCE!), an inspirational teacher and the love I didn't expect to sandbag me so delightfully just when AARP were getting downright pesky, you're a really clear, honest and grammatical writer too. All in all a pretty awesome package (and yes I mean pretty as in beautiful) Tena Nelson. You are blessed. And so am I.


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