Monday, July 23, 2012

Frustrating Catch-22s

We've all been there before.  A situation arises in a relationship ("acquaintance" may be a better word choice) that has no good solution.  If you take an action, you will be called a tyrant.  Ignore the situation and you are labeled as a snob and uncaring.  These are the situations that are referred to as "damned if you do, damned if you don't" moments.  As much as we all hate them, these circumstances arise more often than we would like.

It is crucial that we understand that we cannot control another person's response to our actions or lack of actions.  The only thing we can alter is our motivation and responses to the situation.  If you believe that one action is significantly better and it is an issue that you feel passionately about, follow your heart and face the consequences.  Nothing is worse than keeping the peace in these situations and living with regret regarding your actions.  However, when the issue at hand is not something worth fighting for (it's just not that important), then by all means strive to keep the peace.

The sad fact of the matter is that once you find yourself in one of these horrible situations with a person,  they will often create another one before too much time passes.  Think about it.  If they get their way and "win", then it becomes a source of power for an individual.  If they didn't get their way, then anything you do becomes a contentious battle and is seen as a personal attack against them.

Not all Catch-22s are driven by an individual's ego though.  To me, these are the worst of these bad situations.  Sometimes there is no choice that is going to keep everyone from getting hurt.  A decision still has to be made.  In those times, it is important to choose the best option without allowing personal relationships to overly influence the decision-making process.

If you've ever dealt with any of these "no good solution" problems, you probably feel you have had more than your fair share of them.  I know that I feel that way.  Making tough decisions -- often with no clear solutions -- are signs of developing leadership and personal maturity.  Constantly judging someone's actions as a personal attack is a sign of childishness, immaturity, and insecurity in my opinion.

I'm thrilled that I've not been in one of these situations for a while and hope that the nastiness associated with these horrible choices stays away for a very long time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Marathon is Almost Over!

For the past two weeks, my life has been consumed with Music Camp 2012 at Abundant Grace Ministries in Collierville.  The first show was successfully performed last night, so it's no wonder that on this Saturday morning the entire process is on my mind.

This year's show is "The Amazing Grace Race" by Celeste Clydesdale.  The imagery of the race parallels that of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy and is also a good description of the production process itself.  Unless you have been involved in directing some type of theatrical production or other large-scale event, you may not truly understand what is involved.

What the public sees is the sprinting aspect of the Camp: two weeks devoted to teaching kids choreography, staging, and fixing musical problems in order to put the show on stage.  I have encountered many people who think this is when all of the real work is done.  It's true that this is the most physically demanding time in the production, but by no means the hardest work.  Creative and administrative preparation has been going on for months in advance of the first session of Camp.

Music Camp (and all theatrical productions) are marathons.  Planning begins months in advance and the director lives with the material, mentally envisioning the staging and attempting to recognize potential pitfalls before they occur in rehearsals with actors.  (The LAST thing you want to do in any production -- especially one with such a short rehearsal time -- is make numerous changes with your actors.  The result is always confusion and frustration for those attempting to bring the script to life!)  What no one sees are the numerous paper sketches in folders at home of stage movement, sets, and props.  They miss the readings (which would be quite funny to observe) in my office, deciding which lines need the greatest emphasis.  Absolutely no one is around when I begin to walk through each character's staging, deciding which actions are essential to my interpretation of the story, which would be nice to include if possible, and which are more trouble than they are worth!  Why is no one around?  They would send for the men in white coats!  I look incredibly unstable while walking through these scenes.  This year, these processes started back in February after finally settling on the musical we would present.  The selection process began back in December, 2011.

Now that I'm into the performance dates, Camp is simply a jog to the finish.  I've done the prep work, the children have been thoroughly equipped, and the volunteer staff have been lead as best I could.  Now it's time to simply reach the finish line.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning's final performance with both anticipation and a touch of sadness.  I really do enjoy working with these kids and we have had a lot of fun together -- MOSTLY-- but I'm ready to get some rest physically and mentally!

What happens after the show closes?  There will be a bit of work to return the stage to a church sanctuary and follow-up notes to send to staff and students.  Then I'm off for a much-needed vacation before diving in again and beginning to plan for the crew's next production.  It's sad to admit, but before this show even ends, there are already ideas buzzing around in my head regarding what we can do next.  Some would say I need professional help!  I just say that I'm addicted to the joy of watching kids develop their skills and using their talents in the ministry of their local church.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reclaiming My Voice

Here's a little secret....I enjoy blogging.  I like writing about my life and things that are on my mind.  It's been a while since I've written anything here though.  Why the delay?  I became more concerned with other people's opinions rather than exercising my own voice.

Today I began to think about my neglected blogs and decided to visit them and see if I had happened to have any visitors recently.  Imagine my surprise and happiness to learn that both Livin' Life and Collaborations have been seeing a decent amount of activity despite the lack of new material.  I finally took the time to sit down and see if I could recall why I stopped writing.  As I began to reflect on the circumstances causing me to stop writing, I realized that I allowed other people to make a decision for me that was not theirs to make.  I finally came to a position with which I am entirely comfortable.

I am not an authority on every subject nor do I claim to be.  I do have opinions (just like you do).  I also have the same right to express my opinion freely.  As we all know, opinions are like noses and belly buttons;  everyone has one!  (Of course, there are also OTHER body parts everyone has that I chose not to mention, you dirty-minded people!)  Most of you have never seen my belly button. I don't mind showing it to you, but some don't particularly want to see it either.  The same applies to my opinions.  I'll continue to express them for my own personal enjoyment.  Read them if you want to......ignore them if you want to.  It really makes no difference to me.  Just don't attempt to make them say something that isn't there.  If you care enough to enter into a mature dialogue regarding a topic, ask and I'll be happy to make my view clear and listen to your respectfully presented opinion as well (after all, that's one of the strengths of the blogosphere).

So starting today, I reclaim my voice.  Don't want to read it?  Move on!  You won't offend me at all.  Think I'm full of hot air?  Visit elsewhere and find another windbag that is more preferable to you.  If you think something here is directed at you, recognize that it probably is not.  Honestly, if you're even on my radar screen and I have something to say to you, you'll be told about it.  Those who know me best will attest to the fact that I am generally not one to mince words.

That felt good!  Now I can move on and begin exploring my mind again and continue Livin' Life!

By the way, here's the picture I ran across earlier today that is the source of the belly button reference.  (Want to make sure I give credit where it's due since I'm not the originator of the comment!)