Sam @CUSP Conference 2015

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When Spirit Meets Shakespeare

It’s been quite a year for me and it’s not even June.
I produced Julius Caesar with only one working foot. I’ve been let down personally and professionally. I realized that I can’t control everything. I remembered there is something greater in control. I’ve been hacked. I’ve been out of whack. I’ve been on a rollercoaster trying to gracefully balance my life between working a 9 to 5 and trying to build a business. But here’s the thing. I learned through all of this: it’s all good.
I’m a really private person but I also love the idea of sharing my journey with kindred. You beautiful people out there who may find some piece of my story that parallels yours and, hopefully, it  inspires you to keep going. I always tell people, there is nothing really special about me. I feel like everyone is a reflection of God so there is nothing more magnificent in me or awesome about me than anyone else. We’re all awesome. BUT, if I had to point to one extraordinary thing about myself, that would probably be the fact that I am relentless. I don’t take no for an answer. Now, I’ll negotiate but no is a no-no.:-)

My feet have failed me now…

I  had foot surgery at the top of the year and when I had it I just knew in my mind that I was going to be fine in three days. I had surgery on a Friday and I thought I would be okay by Monday. I really, really believed this with everything in me. I was fooling myself. I was out of it. I was in a full cast — from my knee to my toes — and walking was not an option for six weeks.
I am a busy girl. I have a full-time job and I run a business. My work weeks are about 90 hours. Insane, I know, but that’s my life right now and I kind of love it. I like having this multi-dimensional life. I also speak professionally and I take it very seriously. That means, when I get a speaking gig, there are weeks of preparation before I even hit the stage. I love sharing my (he)art work with the world and my love for Detroit and Shakespeare. But this foot surgery required me to sit in one space, pretty much, all day. I wasn’t very mobile and I couldn’t even shower fully while the cast was on my foot. I was uncomfortable and pretty down in the dumps. It was the first time I had ever been that still and not by choice.
There was a lot of personal and professional let downs happening at this time as well.
It wasn’t a fun time for me. But once I got out of my cast, I was able to start healing my mind, heart and my darn right foot. None of them are the same as they were before my surgery, but I’m getting there.
My head is still trying to wrap around the fact that I can’t control everything. I have to admit that I am a recovering control freak.
My mom recently reminded me of a party I threw when I was 8 or 9 years old and I invited all my friends over. As soon as they got there, I passed out an itinerary — lunch at noon, dancing at 1 o’clock, social time at 2 o’clock and snacks at 3 o’clock. What kid passes out an itinerary at a party?! LOL. My mother never planned parties for me. I would always tell her, “Mom, I got this.” That should give you a little bit of a glimpse into who I am —  a planner. I am grateful for my innate ability to organize and project manage. I think I was born to be a producer. I was made to create Shakespeare plays. But, I am learning the importance of letting go and life is not a play…well, I could argue this but you know what I mean. We don’t know the outcomes to our chapters and we don’t know all the players/characters we’ll meet along the way.

Life Unscripted…

It turns out that surgery and the let downs were a blessing.
I needed to sit down. I have been running around for nearly four years building Shakespeare in Detroit and I rarely take a moment to just be. I had to depend on other people like my beautiful parents, my boyfriend at the time and my sister to help me do day-to-day activities. That was a blessing. As a control freak, I always just want to do everything myself  and I learned that it is okay to depend on other people, sometimes. As a matter of fact, when you allow someone to help you, you are allowing them to help themselves. Helping someone is an equally rewarding act and rejecting assistance or help or support from someone is rejecting the Universe. How can you ask for blessings, ask for favor, ask for help from the Universe and then reject it when it shows up? The blessings and the help the Universe blesses us with doesn’t always come in grand gestures. It can be as sweet and as simple as helping you go grocery shopping and cooking for you. It can be an encouraging word or a card to tell you to Get Well Soon. The Universe doesn’t always show up in the form you want it to. It doesn’t follow your script. I wanted the Universe to grant me the strength to walk again three days post surgery. Instead, it reminded me of how much I am loved and that I need people.
The let downs I experienced were also blessings. In fact, they really aren’t let downs. They were just mirrors of the energy I was assigning to my own experience. I believed I was ready for certain things because it felt good to want those things. But I really wasn’t ready and the people who let me down in my personal and professional life were just holding up a mirror for me to reflect the fact that it is time to dig deeper and do the work, personally and professionally, to become the person, the business woman and the artist that I want to become. So I am grateful. I am happy for those experiences at home and at work.
I’ve always put my best foot forward (there’s pun here, did you see that?), but now my head and my heart are working together so that I am not just doing great work but I am living a great life that is filled the gratitude for all the gifts the Universe gives me in this unscripted life. I’ve always been aware of the Universe’s presence in my life, but I am not trying to tell it what I used to tell my mom, “I got this.” The fact is, the Universe “got this.”

Hacked and out of whack…

Speaking of an unscripted life, this past weekend was quite busy for me.
I gave a really energetic motivational speech to a bunch of teens on Friday. My Twitter was hacked on Saturday and I had a beautiful rehearsal with my actors on Sunday. Talk about a whirlwind!
I thought it was going to just be a regular weekend of public speaking and rehearsal — my usual.
When I showed up for my speech at Michigan State University, where the youth organization I agreed to speak for held their weekend camp, I was greeted by 200 excitable young people. I have been so busy with The Merchant of Venice I didn’t really think about or process how many kids were going to be at my speech. But I walked in and they were so full of life, that I forgot about my foot, which isn’t fully recovered, and I became a much shorter version of one of my favorite speakers, Tony Robbins. I was high-fiving kids, running around, jumping up and down. Adrenalin is a powerful drug. LOL. I had the time of my life. I didn’t anticipate this amazing experience. Some speeches are more exciting than others and I just thought I would show up, share a few photos on PowerPoint from the plays I have produced and leave. I was going to be into it. I am always into my speeches. But I was on another level of inspired that I could not have predicted, especially, because I am always very mellow and exhausted when rehearsals begin on any of my plays. But it turned out to be one of the most amped presentations I have ever given — truly rewarding. But when I got back to my car, my foot was throbbing and my back was killing me. Recovering from my surgery continues to be a challenge and I am reminded of that, often. My stamina isn’t what it used to be. So when I got home, I passed out from my post-Tony Robbins wanna be experience. I am kidding when I call myself a wannabe. I want to be Sam. But I will admit that I love Tony’s energy. It is aspirational and my body will get back to itself…eventually. I know it will.
The next morning I woke up and my personal Twitter account was hacked by some bored, lonely, rude human who changed my profile pic to some vulgar photo — they even changed my bio — and  the person started retweeting a bunch of inappropriate things. I was horrified but I was able to fix it quite quickly thanks to some of my amazing followers/Twitter friends. P.s. Make sure you have a really strong password, folks. AND change it frequently. AND check your email often. AND set up the two-step authentication process. Trust me. I did that so all is well now. This was my personal account. Just that one. I monitor three others. But it was just that one. All is well with the others, believe me.
Now, let’s all remember, I am a recovering control freak. So this upset me for a second but then I thought, if someone will/can hack Taylor Swift’s Twitter, then surely they can/did hack mine. The less evolved Sam would have found the hacker, went to their house — AKA their parents’ basement — and gave them a whoopin.’ But I had all that time on the couch elevating, physically and metaphysically, earlier this year and so I don’t have time for that. I fixed the issue and moved on. But I do accept the lesson which is great for all entrepreneurs out there — monitor your brand constantly and always be proactive about your online presence. You have to nurture the things you love and protect them, which I always did. But now I will be an online mama bear. It’s necessary.
As far as rehearsal on Sunday, it was beautiful. I am so delighted and proud of my small but mighty theatre company. I am humbled and honored to direct The Merchant of Venice. I watched two actors who have never done Shakespeare find their way through a portion of the text that may have confused or discouraged less invested and less dedicated artists. They went for it and I am so excited to see where they land with their characters when our show opens in July at New Center Park in Detroit. They are working their asses off and I am so proud to be their director.

It’s all good…

Everything. All of it.It’s all just information. It’s all a lesson. It is getting us where we want to go — to happiness, contentment and to being the best version of ourselves.
I think it’s really awesome that I am not in complete control. I am powerful. But I am not as powerful as the Almighty.
I don’t have the insight that the Universe has.
When tests are handed to you. When you lose the physical strength you once had. When  someone or something disappoints you or you think they have, there is something in there for you to learn — in the big things and the smaller things.
Surrender. Stay open.
Now, I haven’t reached Nirvana and my spiritual journey  is far from over. But I continue to strive for peace and love and light. No is not an option. It is a no-no.
I said life is unscripted but I suppose that isn’t completely true. I believe there is a greater power who holds the script and is just waiting for us to turn the pages to each chapter of our lives.
Faith + Works.
Something greater than me exists. I just have to work with it.
It’s all good.
~ Sam