In the long, long ago life— before marriage, before children, before the star-studded Hollywood-excess of a movie and well before COVID— I had the privilege of performing in the National Tour of Steel Magnolias. We played elegant theatres coast-to-coast, explored beautiful American cities in our month-long stays, garnered solid reviews, even an invitation from First Lady Barbara Bush to a private luncheon at the White House. The year held many amazing experiences, not the least of which was sharing the stage with five extraordinary actresses.
Audiences had not seen this intimate, comedic gem. They experienced it right alongside us, came to know and love each of the characters, making this story of love and friendship a hit. I loved coming out for curtain call after the gut-wrenching last scene to hear the applause amplify slightly, not for me in particular, I think they were just glad I was alive.
Now life, if we let it, has a way of circling back in the sweetest ways. This go ‘round, it’s bringing me home to Chinquapin Parish, to Truvy’s beauty salon, and back to the theatre where I’ll be playing my all-time favorite grump, Ouiser Boudreaux. Not only do I get to play alongside another stellar group of women, I have the honor of working with the fabulous Tara Falk at the helm!
Opens October 1st, 2021 and runs Friday-Sunday through October 24th. Season passes available now, single and group tickets for Steel Magnolias go on sale August 16, 2021 at Cherry Creek Theatre.
I have been called many things in my life– strong, compassionate, wise- and the “B” word, as in bossy. I’ve spent hours at kitchen tables and RiNo coffee shops, dispensing advice and Kleenex, bringing clarity to the confused and donuts to the distraught. These caffeinated, altruistic moments can get messy. Dreams are shared along with struggles. Questions and voices and glasses are raised, ideas get thrown around, sentences get interrupted, and napkins are nervously shredded. In other words, magic happens. Nothing feels better than a problem-solving download with a very good friend, then saying goodbyes with a hug and a plan.
Danielle LaPorte- “We all just want to be seen and heard. No exceptions.”
This dynamic works best when it works both ways and within my trusted circle I am uplifted, held, and given a swift kick in the pants when I need it. Friendship, connection and community are as old as time and perhaps never as vital to our well-being as they are in today’s crazy swirl of a world where we are bombarded with information and disinformation. The time we spend together gives us the opportunity to listen to one another with our hearts, share our insights and practice empathy. It lifts us up, makes us more generous human beings. Why is it so much easier to fix another’s ills than it is to cure what ails you? Because blindside is never 20/20.
Dr. Seuss — “When you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”
The idea of being paid to help people get unstuck and on track with their thoughts, habits and desires sounds like a good thing for an empath, doesn’t it? People tell you where they think they want to go, you help them hone in and be specific, then craft a strategy on how to get there; like Google Maps for the soul. When we listen carefully to one another, when we talk freely, we share our goals, obstacles and frustrations. What we’re often missing is the awareness of what we already know, and because answers are inherent in the question, it sounds pretty simple. So simple, we slap our foreheads when the answer is right under our…knows.
A Life Coach is different than a therapist, mentor, shaman or babysitter. Each of these are useful, respectable professions (often sharing the same tasks) a life coach wields more than a riding crop and whistle. The coach’s superpower is accountability. Even the friends we check in with daily, accountability from a pro is altogether different. There is $kin in the game, a weekly Zoom meeting, and someone who is not only listening, but taking notes. Dreams and goals are chunked out, tasks are broken down into actionable items and timelines are integrated into strategy, and your Life Coach isn’t going to hijack your session talking about her latest Tinder disaster.
While great friendships evolve organically over time, finding a great coach requires its own investment. Surfing the Internet you’ll find great adjectives on their websites- passion, empowerment, confidence, transformation, tools– (and who doesn’t want more of those?) but it takes more than keywords to find the right fit. et’s take a look at what they do.
- Identify true desire.
- Identify any obstacles or objections to desire.
- Align resources to achieve desire.
- Search for where the manifestation of this desire lives.
- Connect manifestation with recipient of desire.
- Ensure manifestation, recipient and desire are in alignment.
- Write offer, go under contract, schedule inspection… oh wait.
The next time someone tells me I should be a life coach, I’ll remind them I’m a Realtor. We make many choices, some make life better while others go wildly wrong. Choosing a friend, mentor, lover or life coach can enhance the quality of your days and nights. Choose wisely.
When it comes to stuff, there is always too much, much too much of the time.
All of it needs my attention, nothing gets enough of it and like everyone I know, I’m sleep-deprived and overwhelmed. The dishes don’t do themselves, the mail keeps piling up, the pet sheds, the news howls, the weeds grow, and the laundry perpetually plots against us. Just when you’ve finished folding the last load, hot from the dryer on a sweltering day, you peel off your dirty clothes and the cycle begins again. Tabletops are rarely clear, drawers are full of long-lost keys and screws and parts unknown and the Christmas decor… don’t even.
There’s my own stuff, and the boys’ stuff, and the stuff the boys bring home from “the bins” to sell online that seems to multiply, and there’s all the stuff that’s been left behind. I swear I’m not a hoarder, I just have too much stuff. I’ve cut way down on buying and try to take two things out for everything that comes in, but I’m losing the battle and the war. Maybe it’s the spin of the news cycle that’s got me twitterpated, but I find myself waking up to the rotating clutter of life and the world at large. It’s America, after all, and we’re nothing if not a consumer culture but it is insane.
Our collective obsession with stuff is the emotion we attach to it. My brother dies. Stuff. My husband dies. More stuff. All of this stuff is too precious to be tossed because that feels disrespectful, right? Losing the person is unbelievably hard, letting go of a shoebox full of “How are you? I am fine” letters written by a love-struck middle-schooler should be easy. But it isn’t. I’m overly cautious, telling myself I’m saving things for the boys who may want to wander through these someday, even thought they’ve shown no interest over the last four years, and heaven forbid when my time comes, they’ll be stuck with a slim life insurance policy and a bunch more stuff.
Still… it feels like you’re erasing an existence.
What’s stacked in the garage, taking up space on shelves and in rafters, isn’t what overwhelms me… at this point. I’m concerned with what is right in front of me; the clothes I move from closet to closet as the seasons change, skirts too small and pants whose rise has grown short over the year, the shoes to be tripped over, and that folded laundry that’s yet to make it into the drawers. On Memorial Day weekend I spent a little “down time” looking at the feng shui of my home, trying to clear the chaos by moving furniture while listening to self-help podcasts on my iPod. Feng Shui is an interesting concept regarding the auspicious placement of your stuff to create good “chi”, which is all a fancy way of saying spring cleaning with magical intention followed by the dance of the tchotchkes.
The entire ritual made me feel better. Space was opened up, things were grouped in harmonious ways and, if the Internet is right I should be rolling in money faster than a wire from the Prince of Nigeria. While obsessing on the Bagua, best mirror placement, and the right corner for the lucky bamboo, I learned of a lesser-known feng shui practice. Getting rid of twenty-seven things a day for nine days. This is meant to empty what is too full, making room for more abundance (i.e. stuff). Both 9 and 27 are lucky numbers but something tells me that in the days some 3,500+ years before the invention of the magnetic compass, your average Chinese household didn’t have much more than twenty-seven things. Maybe that’s why they didn’t go a full two weeks.
Simplifying my life is an ongoing process, complicated by the need to make a living, the consumerist barrage of American lifestyle and some basic fears of letting go. Drawn to the efficiency and magic of it, I will embark on this journey, ready to pitch 243 things in less than a fortnight. I’m sure it it will take a few rounds before I’d make it to the garage, but it’s a start. I’ll let you know how it goes next week… if I don’t chuck the computer.
Did you know that Denver Botanic Gardens is ranked one of The World’s Most Beautiful Botanic Gardens? I’ve walked there every month for a year, sometimes more. Comfortable with the sweetness of time passing, I walk with friends or I walk alone. I always have an extra ticket…
Ever wonder what to do or what’s going on around town? Me too. That’s why I’ve created this easy cheat sheet for Denver Events running from July through October. You’ll find arts and culture, music and barbecues, pet-friendly gatherings and social soirees at your fingertips. Print it out, save it to your phone, grab your sunscreen, a blanket, a friend (furry or not), pack up the family or head out alone to any and all of these great events. They’ll remind you what makes living in Denver so spectacular!
Oh, and if you’d like to beat the heat looking at houses in Denver’s hot real estate market, we can do that too! I’m air-conditioned.
I have this friend…
And this friend set up a series of tasks to be done in a specific amount of time. We all do this, right? That’s probably how you spent your day. Morning alarm clocks ring and the battle begins with a slap of the Snooze button. Racing to meet due dates, deadlines, and school schedules, we “block out” time, “tackle” to-do lists and “rush” through traffic. Sounds like a football game. We complain there’s never enough of it, chasing minutes rather than savoring moments as if the only measure of time is what can be accomplished between sunrise and sundown. Time has never changed… you have.
Remember when you were young and summer break was so exciting? Sleeping in, sleepovers and sleep-away camps sound divine in early June, but come September the summer had lasted long enough. You got bored. The natural rhythm of seasonal time brings us full circle; from the restless excitement of the final school bell to the excited entrance into the next grade—taller, tanner and ready for the next adventure. Why don’t we feel that anymore? Because we’ve got this time thing all wrong.
The measure of time is a natural cycle of days, nights and seasons in continuum. We are fooling ourselves that it can be managed, bottled, blocked or wasted; it can only be perceived as having value or as the enemy, but in its essence it just is. And it’s all we have.
All this said, I do find that my life is more fluid and enjoyable when I set up time to focus on any given task—time blocking is one word for it. When I allow myself to be fully engaged in a single activity— property searches, phone calls, exercise, writing and even paying bills— I feel and perform better when I give up the notion that I’m in control of time. Living with sensory integration disorder, I’ve learned that the race with time is one I’ll never win; dust and laundry prove my point. It’s easier for me to choose how to engage with it and to give myself the gift of focus. In a multi-tasking paradigm, I never get things done. In engagement it flows and flies, making the most mundane… joyful.
So my friend… Overwhelmed and over-scheduled, stretched to the bursting point. Setting aside weekends and evenings to catch up wasn’t working and the desire for life/work balance had become more stressful rather than reducing it. There was no room to move forward with so much on the plate. “I’ve planted some poppy seeds in an egg crate, set them in the sun, and when the seeds have sprouted and the plants are robust, I’ll have completed what is weighing me down”.
What a wonderful thing, I thought; to give oneself the time it takes nature to make manifest what is possible and mirror a span in time. Last time I checked in the reply was, “cultivating poppies”, an image I adore as I move through my own sense of task and time. Today there was a rainstorm, our sunny skies turned grey and the sweaters came out again. Soon we’ll be wishing it weren’t so hot. Both are needed to cultivate your poppies.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It was less than 24 hours after the shock of The Purple One’s untimely death that the Denver Film Society announced they would open the annual Film on the Rocks program two weeks early to honor Prince with a screening of “Purple Rain”.
“The film was the thing from the first moment of the sad news”, says Film Society’s Festival Director, Britta Erickson. “We’d just announced our 2016 line-up, but it didn’t take long to pull the trigger on making a decision to add the show.” The epic event, and it had to be epic, meant securing an open date at the Red Rocks venue, negotiating the film rights from Warner Brothers, and pulling together some of Denver’s most talented musicians for a local all-star tribute.” Kristin Nolan stepped it to round up more than 170 performers from a wide range of musical styles, they rehearsed, sound-checked and jammed. In a syncopated collab between Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Film Society and Ms. Nolan, all of this happened in three weeks.
And. It. Was. Epic.
The Red Rocks Amphitheater became a lavender sea as fans and their families filled the seats, squeezing close together to accommodate the record-breaking FOTR crowd; a sell-out at 9000 within 24 hours. The party started appropriately when Andy Rok and the Real Deal took stage to with The Artist Formerly Known’s party anthem, Let’s Go Crazy, as we waited for the dusk to descend. So much more than Prince cover bands, each of the thirteen groups offered an original rendition— Flobots, Shady Elders, Ian Cooke Band with Kevin Johnson of The Bright Silence, Elin Palmer and members of Chimney Choir, Bluebook and more. Wheelchair Sports Camp brought the funk, others were spot on in style, spirit and soul; and some brought a more personal tack with their arrangements that, if not the immediate pop-song ear-worm, revealed the strength of Prince’s music. The Heavy Heavies brought me to my feet, while jazz singer and KUVO hostess, Venus Cruz, brought me to my knees.
The evening turned toward the sacred when 115 members of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus took center stage for the grand finale; a splendid rendition of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”. Hearts were shaken and stirred. This heavenly choir stepped back, allowing the other 60 artists onstage for the title track of the evening, Purple Rain. The stars were out, the house was standing, swaying, singing, and by the time we got to the ooo-ooo-ooo-oooo at the end of the song it was as if there was a great shaft of purple light and love beaming from Morrison, Colorado to the celestial sphere.
Moments later, the movie started to a roar from the sated crowd and just as I remembered— Morris Day was campy, Apollonia was stunning, and Prince… my god he was a star.
Film on the Rocks opens its regular season on May 23rd with Grease and continues with summer favorites, The Big Lebowski and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, cinema greats, Citizen Cane, standouts like Deadpool and closing in September with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. July 27th brings another tribute to another fallen star with the 1986 David Bowie film, Labyrinth. Summer nights just got epic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
When Boulder theater artist, Amanda Berg Wilson returned to Denver from a decade long explore of Chicago what she found here was a lot of great theater. What she craved, was great theater with a Chi-town influence. “There was so much being done in Chicago while I was there, so much of it was unlike anything I’d seen before; exciting voices from playwrights telling multi-disciplinary, non-realistic stories that were offbeat and very theatrical.” That was then. Now in its fifth season, Co-Founder/Artistic Director, Amanda Berg Wilson and the cadre of artists who constitute The Catamounts, continue to surprise and engage like no one else in Denver theater. Drawn to the non-linear tale, this “Theater for an Adventurous Palate” has built a repertoire of edgy experiences for a loyal Denver/Boulder audience that is welcoming of the group’s esoteric, contemporary focus. And they FEED you.
I sat down with some Catamounts and began a chat about the upcoming production of Jordan Harrison’s play, Futura, with a slight detour diving deep into the differences between experimental theatre and performance art and the evolution of the avant-garde movement. “The concept of pushing the boundaries of theatrical convention isn’t new, of course, it just keeps changing” says Amanda. “Where we fit into this as a company is that rather than looking for stories that alienate, we’re looking for stories with a point of entry, for narratives that refine and defy convention while engaging our audience.” So far, so good.
Futura is the season’s second full-length offering; a dystopian allegory written by Jordan Harrison, directed by company member Meridith Grundei. A 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for his play Marjorie Prime, Harrison takes us to the not so distant future where the printed word is illegal. Harrison’s obsession with fonts led him to an exploration of the art of pen-to-paper and the extinction of the printed word in a digitized age where online libraries, e-readers and the rapidly shrinking newspaper industry are the polar ice caps of a font-fetishist’s nightmare. Melancholy for a pre-e world and the collateral damage of the Information Age is a now a font of inspiration for millennial writers. Playwright Annie Baker mourned the loss of film to digital in The Flick, and though Harrison is currently on the writing team for the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, his theatrical forays continue to pay off.
I ask Ms. Grundei, to tell me about Futura and a world where the printed word cannot be written or even read. “It takes place in 2021, so not that far off, when the written word is virtually dead. On her first day back on the job after her husband’s gone missing, a University professor launches into a passionate rant about history, relevance and importance typography and the detrimental effects of the techno world on the human brain. Then she gets kidnapped.”
We continue into the topics explored on the play’s dark side: the ominous Big Brother, capricious Wikipedia and manipulation of information controlled by a select few. “It’s interesting because rather than being a manipulative polemic, we ask at what cost? Futura is a brilliantly written and thought-provoking play about the physical loss of the written page, our privacy in this growing technological world, and the beauty and sadness around the loss of something so simple as an ink smudge.” Says the eloquent Ms. Grundei. “A life without texture” say I. The Catamounts Executive Producer, McPherson Horle, adds, “The largess of Jordan Harrison’s ideas about government intrusion and the power of the written word would be gift enough, but the humor, grace and humanity that pervade this piece are truly remarkable. This is a hopeful story about the importance of human connection, and the art that flows as a result.”
Now tell me about the FEED. Berg Wilson picks up, “FEED is a multi-course, seated dinner where each course pairs a dish, a drink, and a performance piece. All courses revolve around a central theme, and live music weaves the whole evening together.” Go on… “We choose a theme, FEED: Fire, FEED: Illuminate” says Horle. “Then we create a palate of handcrafted food and a specialty drink inspired by that theme. We encourage people to experience the chef’s pairings and the performance- dance, music, literature- each element enhances and compliments the other. It’s truly magical.” I ask MacPherson Horle how that came to be. “Well, first off, we’re foodies. Foodies with an MFA.”
Sounds good to me!
Futura opens April 2 at the Nomad Theater in Boulder and runs through the 16th. Click here for tickets, schedule and special performance events.