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New Year’s Reflections

2012 started well: fresh off a winning performance in our TheatreSports NYE extravaganza, my love and I headed outside and watched the (impressive) Space Needle fireworks from the grounds of the Seattle Center. Then a night of dancing and general merriment in the foyer of the Intiman Playhouse. My kind of night, and hopefully an auspicious start.

I’ve never been much for resolutions. I couldn’t have foreseen how 2011 would go for me – at home, onstage, or in the office. (Especially the former two.) The best I can do is optimize, take care of myself and be prepared for the opportunities that arise.

But since one often makes one’s own opportunities, I do have to ask myself what I want from the year. You don’t get shows if you don’t audition for them (as a general rule) and rarely do people approach you with the perfect proposition.

I am generally a person living in four spheres:

Friends & Family – the art of carving out time for others in a busy schedule and keeping an ear out for those who need help. This year means more phone communication with friends who live far away. This is also very closely tied to travel, another pursuit I enjoy that is rarely a solitary endeavor and often driven by the people I am going to see. I want to keep up 2011’s momentum in this regard.

Oh, and the world is apparently ending on my birthday this year (thanks Mayans) so I’m researching a way to celebrate in epic fashion. I had figured on an end-of-the-world party but based on past experience, it’s so hard to get people to show up to holidaytime parties that I may end up just flying somewhere instead.

Career – pretty self-explanatory, and very focused on my existence within Microsoft as opposed to looking broadly. I have a good thing going here. At the moment, I’m about to completely redesign a product in about 6 weeks. No lack of intellectual challenge! My goals for the year boil down to proving myself worthy of the Senior title I now wear, and hitting my 5-year anniversary here (and getting the crystal ‘Prism of Power’ in commemoration of that milestone!)

Outreach – this has become specifically working to champion the cause of girls in STEM careers with groups like IGNITE and my public speaking mini-tour. This is the area I’ve been most frustrated about, as I have grand ideas and an ability to rally others but little influence over the organizational health over the groups I work with within the time I have to give. So many women are saying how important this is – how can I get more of them to DO something about it? I have some smaller-scale ideas but I’m stuck watching and waiting for the next month or so before I can really get started.

Acting – The easy days of goals like “get into a show” or “get a lead part” are gone, and I’m at this perplexing stage where I’m just a step or two shy of playing with the ‘big kids’ in town. But at what cost? And is that what I want? With “Where No Man”, NERDprov, and TheatreSports alive and kicking for 2012, my dance card is already pretty full. And I choose those things because I love the thrill of touching people with laughter or emotion onstage. Plus I revel in the geekiness of the former two. But I haven’t done a musical in over a year, and I miss singing and dancing. And with the right script, I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of originating roles in new plays.
Hobbies – gaming, stained glass work, dance, etc. – tend to fall by the wayside given how busy I end up making myself. And of course there is the perpetual making-myself-feel-guilty-for-not-working-out-enough.

In the end, the question I ask myself at the start of a year is “what will make my heart sing this year?” During some corporate training I did in October (the Leadership Challenge) we spent time winnowing down our top 5 values from a list of over 70 options. My 5 were Creativity, Integrity, Growth, Variety, and Excellence. The Variety piece stuck with me – the tangible expression of a truth I’ve known intrinsically for a while. I don’t stop and focus on any one of my spheres because it’s the existence of the multiple spheres that enables me to be happy in the first place. For me, shutting everything out to focus on one thing would feel… empty. Sometimes I’m jealous of folks that can focus their efforts and talents so singularly, but that’s just not who I am.

But the only spheres I can really “plan” for are my career and my acting work. I’ve got clear goals already for my next year at Microsoft and know what I need to accomplish. Acting is always the hardest puzzle to solve, especially since you can’t cast yourself in (most) shows.
In light of the current situation, perhaps my focus should be on smaller self-initiated projects and less auditioning for big shows. (Although my ‘auditioning for big shows’ last year really only equated to Generals, which apparently went well and are in the cards again.) Or auditioning only for film/video work; projects like my recent quickie role in the Dragon Shout parody leave me wanting more.

Perhaps what I really want is to forge my own way with shows like “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, with sketch comedy, and possibly puppetry. I’ll still go to Generals and a few select projects – you never know what’s waiting for you. If I hadn’t been openminded about September Skies when it came to me, I would have missed a fantastic growth opportunity and would also not be so happily and hopelessly in love to boot. But I have a growing desire to see what else is out there beyond traditional scripted theatre.

As for this blog, my goals are to post more regularly (obligatory blog goal) – but to find ways to work shorter posts in along with the epically long ones, and to share more life-story style articles since that seems to be where my readership lies. (I can always post about any additional medical procedures I endure this year for a boost; who knew the Internet was so full of people curious about magnesium citrate?) I have hopes of digging out my Sesame Place-era journals to share a few more Being Grover-style stories with you in the long term.

Here’s to 2012!

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