A personal odyssey to combat fear and return to what I love:
Today, I am feeling less than 100%. I made myself sick because of the stress and pressure I placed on myself the last few weeks. Auditioning for Musicals just scares the crap out of me, and I did two last week. I have not done a musical since I was around twenty and going to Bellevue College. Let me tell you why I went through all of this in the first place.
First, Abba’s music partly defines me and my childhood; the moment I learned independence when my parents got a divorce, and I had to grow up a lot, striking out on my own to some degree. I remember dancing at Skate Country East and tearing up the floor to their music – skating and Abba – Trust me, there are few things more delightful – I swear!
Second, I wanted to do a musical because I love them so, but I had so many bad experiences auditioning for them because of my fear of singing in public (thank God for Karaoke as that helped a lot over the years), and my directional dyslexia kicks my ass at Dance auditions. Seriously, I have been terribly humiliated more than once – There was this Sesame Street on wheels audition in Seattle that scars my consciousness.
So, I wanted to do the show, but there was a serious problem: I was petrified to face a musical audition, and felt unfit to be in a musical, no matter how much I love them. Hell, because of a series of events, I had given up theatre entirely until four years ago – but that had to change.
Here is the thing, I am going to be 50 in two months, and four years ago I realized how much I had given up by doing what I thought I had to do in life, rather than following my dreams. Four years ago I decided to go back and follow my dream again, and boy this decision brought me Roller Derby (yes, there is a connection), theatre in WA state, a divorce as I started to embrace myself, voiceover work, and now theatre in Hawaii. But I still wanted to do a musical, but I was scared. I had said: well, if someone does Mamma Mia, I will give it a try. Then Diamond Head Theatre announced it got the rights to do the show.
Mamma Mia Auditions
I wanted to be in Mamma Mia so much; I started taking dance classes at Diamond Head Theatre almost a year ago now. I was hoping I could curb my directional dyslexia by being exposed to dance moves more, or at least make my dance auditions suck less (boy, do I have stories). Even before this, around three years ago now, I started working on my singing with my voice teacher Leischen Moore, in Tacoma, Wa. When we started, I had told her how much I wanted to do Mamma Mia, and so we worked onMamma Mia music. I was going to do this thing, even if it gave me a nervous breakdown – and it almost did.
I went to the audition and, to my immense surprise, I got a callback for Rosie in Mamma Mia, a role I desperately wanted. However, I botched the callback because of my fear – stupid – and then I botched the ensemble dance callback because of dyslexia, my brain just cannot seem to take in directional information quickly. I do not think there are enough dance classes in the world to combat it.
After several personally, painful auditions, I got the call:
Thank you, but no thank you.
Sick and emotionally spent; I was angry at myself for not doing better even after all the investment in myself and my craft.
Then 10 minutes later I got another call:
So sorry, we can’t use you as Rosie, but would love to offer you a place in the ensemble.
These phone calls threw me off balance; I was stunned but grateful, so grateful, and I cried more after the second, good-news call. Aren’t we humans insanely funny?
For whatever reason I got accepted into the ensemble, after botching my callback audition, I am eternally grateful. In the middle of the run, I will turn 50, and I will be up there doing it: Dancing and singing to the music I love. I won’t be skating, but I can do that at Ala Moana Park while I learn my parts, listening to my iPod. I will also have graduated from a graduate certificate program in programming and web design, allowing me, I hope, to start a new career and be self-employed as I pursue theatre in a serious way, hoping to scratch out a living (more on that soon).
And that is my story … that is, so far. My journey toward Mamma Mia has been a three-year emotional odyssey, and I am so grateful to have this opportunity.
I have to thank my community here and in Tacoma for helping me conquer my fears and get back on track, after so many years of misdirection. But I need to give special thanks to Timothy Jeffryes who kept on me to try and believe in myself, and who went to dance class with me, and hugged me when he saw how frustrated I was getting with myself. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better partner in life. I may be an emotional basket case at times, but I am a well supported one – honestly, how many people can say that?
It has been about a week since we posted. We are still looking for active guest posters to help us crowd source this wonderful community. But I have been working on a project I wish to share: Coffee making, start to finish. Enjoy!
Today I this came across my Facebook page, and I found it touching. So much so that I wanted to share it. Cailleach, as the image of the old crone is more than a crone but she walks the circle of life each year, maiden to mother to crone. Which is why this is super appropriate for us here at Cailleach. This is Live Painting Show: A Woman’s Life. Originally published on Aug, 12, 2014. Drawing and painting by Stonehouse (석가), Video Editing by Yirigun (이리건), B.G.M by Silent partner – ‘Big screen.’ I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Welcome to Cailleach’s Chair, the meeting place for the Cult of Cailleach.
Why have I gathered us all here?
This is a complicated question, but let me start by saying this: I do not wish to grow old … not in our Western culture as it is today. To grow old today is to be forgotten, discarded, and marginalized. How sad it is to be old today; a lifetime of knowledge forgotten. A lifetime of know-how ignored. This is true for all of us, men and women, but it is especially true for women.
So, I stand here today and I declare proudly, I will not go “gently into that good night,” or “grow old gracefully.” When I was younger, I used to announce such silliness out of my inexperience of life and lack of practical wisdom:
“I will grow old gracefully!” I proudly declared, drinking as I did from the cool-aid. “I’m not going to be one of those old ladies who try to be twenty-one their entire life,” said I with my perky boobs standing tall and my taunt skin glistering with a new summer tan. “I will accept what was given to me, wrinkles and all.”
I was an idiot, and cool-aid is not nearly as tasty as mead.
Truthfully, parts of the above declaration is true: I do not want to be 21 again, goddess help me …. No. I do want to accept my place in the great cycle of life. But in truth, our society has a different spin on the phrases: “go gently into that good night,” and “grow old gracefully,” and I find the spin offensive. These phrases, in practice, no longer mean accepting and honoring the great cycle of life; rather, in practice older people, middle age onward, are asked to disappear quietly, allowing the younger generation to stand tall, while the older generation is shuffled away from their jobs (old faces don’t sell), and hidden away into retirement communities or, for those of us with little money, state-run institutions. I’ve seen it, more often than not; and unlike dear Hamlet, I have no interest in shuffling off “this mortal coil.” Besides, this model is not sustainable, nor is it helpful to our world, culture, species, or younger generations.
It is time to take back and to re-embrace a better way of doing things. What that better way is, I am not sure, which is one of the functions of this blog: to discover a more sustainable model. As I grow older, I have no desire to be the discarded “hag.” Nope. It is time to reclaim the magical, mystical, powerful crone/hag: the Cailleach.
Cailleach Bheare is the celtic image of the old mother, the hag, the magical crone, who is revered as a mythical being in Ireland (Caolainn or the Hag of Beare), Northern Ireland (Cailleach Bherri), Britain (Black Annis), Scotland (Cailleach Mor), and the Isle of Man (Cailleach my Groamagh). In essence, she is known as a mountain mother, but is also given the title of the queen of the Limerick fairies, and is understood as the mother to the gods (she has the name Boi when she was the wife of Lugh – Irish god of Light). And, as you might guess, she controls the weather in the winter months as she too is in her declining years. Interesting enough, she is not always old, but passes yearly through the cycle of age, from youth to old age, representing both renewal and death, the journey from ignorance and deep wisdom. She returns yearly on Samhain, October 31st to you and me, and will leave with the warming weather, placing her staff under a holly bush before turning to stone herself, hibernating and regenerating for the next round of life … the next year.
I will write more on this image as the blog progresses, but it is enough to point out her usefulness as an alternative image to age, especially female aging, compared to the one we have now: the quiet old woman complacently taking her place in a rocking chair, lap ready for brief visits from her grandchildren*. Not that there is anything wrong with having a grandchild on your lap, but surely the middle-aged and older generation has more to offer the world than a lap to rest in. Cailleach moved mountains because she had the knowledge, the wisdom to figure out how to do such a feat. Let’s tap that wisdom … please!
This blog is about sustainability and wisdom. It’s about what we have to offer in the way of wisdom regarding these topics from an older persons point of view, middle-aged to the crone. And the focus is on women writers, but this does not mean that posts from guest male writers will not appear on these pages. Although I would like to create a space for women to be able to share their understanding regarding sustainability, sustainability itself is not a one sided affair. Feminism, in all its facets, must inherently include the masculine element, or the movement is doomed before it begins. But the voices of older women are easily lost in our world, and so I would like to make this space the space of Cailleach – in somewhat the tradition of the Cult of Cailleach, which has a long tradition in different parts of the Celtic world. The cult consisted of older women who gathered together to under the cloak of nature, magic, and wisdom.
So, I welcome you to the 21st century Cult of Cailleach. Take a seat, feel free to drape my yellow robe about you if you are cold, and stay a while for the magic about to unfold.
*I say this, but also offer a nod of homage to the great Golden Girls, who were not complacent!
Research based on the following:
Coulter, Charles Russell, and Patricia Turner. 2000. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. Pp. 112-114.
Matthews, Caitlin, John Matthews, and Caitlin Matthews. 2003. Walkers between the worlds: the Western mysteries from Shaman to Magus. Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions International.
O’Brien, Lora. 2005. Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch. Franklin Lakes, NJ: New Page Books.