#14 – Jes

I don’t know Jes as well as I’d like to, but I hope that will change.

I met her through a friend in the theatre community and was immediately enchanted by her wit, style, and killer smile.  I’ve known for a while now that she yearned to make the leap into self-employmenthood wanting to finally fulfill her dream of being an image consultant.  She’s recently taken the big step and I couldn’t be happier for her.  Ok, that’s not true.  I was even happier when I realised she needed to test out a new service and would offer me a substantial discount to be a guinea pig.  Yes please!

I had the pleasure of trying out Jes’s Style Direction service.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into at first, but now that it’s done I am so glad I went through it.  During our first session, Jes asked me a ton of questions ranging from tame to fairly personal about all aspects of my life (fashion, home, employment, health, etc.).  Then over the next week I had to do 19 pages of homework.  No joke.  19 pages!!!  And it was all worth it.  Who doesn’t like spending time thinking about objects you love, or finding inspiring images, or rewatching favorite movie clips?  Once Jes had a chance to look at all my answers, we got together for my second session.  The second session’s purpose was to narrow down my style to two words – my core word and my edge word.    With the core being worth 80% and the edge worth 20%, the idea is that I now have a sense of who I am and can make better stylistic choices.  For example, she claims that it’ll be much easier for me to shop now because I’ll be able to discount 70% of the stores in a mall instead of driving myself insane trying to find something that screams “me” in a place that is nothing like me.    Or I’ll have a better sense of why a certain room in my home doesn’t feel comfortable, because I’ll start recognising which objects don’t satisfy my emotional and practical needs.  Or it’ll make putting outfits together easier because I just have to dress with my core word in mind and accessorise thinking of my edge.

 
In her words this can feel like a “hippy dippy” process, but Jes does an amazing job of making the intangible become practical.  She was full of useful suggestions on how I could concretely apply this new direction to all elements of my life, from how I dress to what art I might buy to how I interact with my family and friends.

I’m not getting paid to sell you on Jes.  Jes sold me on Jes.  You can tell that, through her new challenges, she is taking the time to better understand herself and her bran.

And that confidence and enthusiasm is contagious.

Check her out:  www.jeslacasse.com

 

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#13 – Dad (The Birthday Edition)

If you ask my Dad to recount any stories of my birth and my first year of age, you’ll be out of luck.

He saw me enter the world through the hospital room window.  After much false labour, it only took a couple of hours of “real” labour for me to make my appearance.  He almost missed it.  Too busy in the smoke room or playing cards with my uncle I guess.   I’m told he did hear the roars of a woman down the hall, wondered if it was my Mom, but assumed it couldn’t be.  He was wrong.

It wasn’t long after Mom and I came home that Mom had to return to the hospital.  She was very ill.  Kidney failure.  Lots of hours away from home ensued.  Not only did he have to regularly drive over an hour a day to see his wife sick, but he was all of sudden in charge of newborn, and still had to put in his hours at the office he had called his second home since he was 16 years of age.

Once Mom came home, she was really weak and couldn’t take care of me on her own.  Dad quickly learned about diapers and bottle feedings and developed his own soothing tricks.  Though, don’t ask him to tell you any of them… he doesn’t remember.  He does remember waking up in the middle of the night, sitting in a rocking chair, with me in his arms, and freaking out at the thought that he could have dropped me.  He never did.  (That I know of…)

My Dad was always strongly present, but definitely on the sidelines throughout the rest of my childhood.  I had an extremely strong relationship with my Mom (with only the slight “fuck off!” yelled at her when I was 16 to tarnish our near-perfect record.)  I always knew I could trust him and go to him about anything, though I rarely had to because I suspected my Mom told him everything already.   I wouldn’t have known just how vital Dad was to my upbringing when I was a baby if it wasn’t for my Mom.  I think, deep down, she might have felt oddly guilty about missing out on some of the early baby craziness, but she never hesitated to sing Dad’s praises.  I also would never have known that Dad cried every time he watched me perform in Crazy for You when I was 18 if Mom hadn’t told me.

And when my life took a turn for the worse, he was my white knight, taking my girls and me to safely.  Now he continues to make us feel safe, and cared for, and loved.

It’s cliché, but my Dad is the best Dad ever.

 

#12 – Pier

While I was waiting in line to grab a coffee before my meeting with Kate, I ran into Pier.  I don’t think he and I have properly spoken in a long time.  Maybe even years.  Sure, we’re friends on Facebook.  I stay up to date with his company’s work, but it’s been a while since we… talked.

This is strange in some ways.  He hired me for my first major professional acting gig.  I stage managed and assistant directed on a beautiful Brecht piece he worked on.  DD5 and I saw him perform at her school.  He was a witness at my first wedding ceremony and sang at my second.  (Same guy.  Long story. Don’t ask.)

I’ve always been in awe of him.  I hesitate to call myself an artist, but wouldn’t for a second hesitate to give him that moniker.   I greatly admire his passion for children’s theatre and his organic creative process.  All of this admiration can be scary though too.  One day, I watched him in rehearsal release an actress’ voice so much that she was sobbing by the end.  I was afraid I’d be next!

Pier has a way of bringing out vulnerability in people.  Getting to the core of what they didn’t know they were capable of.  Thankfully that often translates to depth and truthfulness on stage… and not just tears in the rehearsal room.

Our brief chat while I waited for my coffee was typical Pier.  A bit of a whirlwind.  Charming.  Slightly self-deprecating.  Always creating.  He said he was at the cusp of something new in his life, and that he’d really like to reconnect properly.  He said something along the lines of he thought it would “do him some good.”

I think it would do me some good too.

#11 – Kate

Looking fierce! (And yes, my youngest daughter was born with a mohawk.)

My friend Kate has given me an amazing opportunity: the chance to direct again.  I’m not just directing any play.  I’ll be working in the theatre for young audiences realm, specifically for kids 5 to 9.  Wheee!

 

I feel like Kate and I have a special bond.  We have daughters near the same age.  We both did the single mom working theatre contract to theatre contract thing.   We both have twisted, and often dirty, minds.  (Which we would never bring into our theatre for young audiences work, of course.  Ahem.)  We’re both hard-working, driven women with nice faces and yummy gooey emotional centers.    Nom.

 

We recently got together for our first brainstorming session about the new play.  I’ll be honest, the first time I read this piece I put it down after the first page.  It did not grab me, at all, but I gave it a second chance.  After all, I trust Kate.  She wouldn’t give me a bad piece to work with.  Right?

 

I’m always a bit intimidated when, as a director, I meet up with an Artistic Director because I want to make sure I impress them.  Confirm that they made the right choice in hiring me.   Reassure them that, though I couldn’t remember to bring a change of clothes to my daughter’s daycare, I’ll most certainly meet all deadlines with verve and creative gusto.    I had no real reason to be worried about meeting with Kate.  Within a few minutes, I confessed my original uncertainty with the script and she told me she felt the same way.  The more we talked, the more I realised we had a lot of the same questions about the narrative, the characters motivations, about costuming…  I mean, really, does he need to have a full-body fish costume?  I mean, can’t he just say he’s a fish and we’ll believe him?  Anywho, I digress.  The point is Kate is an artist and a being an artist involves having a lot of questions, and worrying that you’ll never find the answers.   The creative process ends up being trial and error mixed in with random silliness in an attempt to make sense of things.  And often the end result is an artist’s best attempt at making the answers interesting and beautiful enough for an audience to soak up.

 

I love doing all these things with Kate.  I think she’s a pretty talented lady and, when I’m around her, I feel just a bit more talented too.