What are our pens doing?

Each morning I read from 3 published works. They have become my friends that greet me in the morning. I open each with anticipation that the words in these collections are waiting to speak to me; specifically and gently. My habit of reading these is old enough to have taught me that indeed the genius minds before me are able to comfort me, inspire me, to give me hope. It’s why I get up so early!

You see I don’t wake up calm and collected. I wake up with butterflies in my stomach, worried about something, anxious about a little bit of everything. But these three friends always prepare me to step into my day with eager anticipation.

These three collections found me. My friend Teresa Noble gave me a little paperback called Thoughts for the Quiet Hour years ago. It’s no longer published but Dexter finds copies for me on the internet; “Used…gently used …excellent condition”. I never asked him to do this. He just surprises me because he knows I love to give them away.

My second book, Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, found me in Colorado when I was on a trip I couldn’t afford at a conference that I was driven to attend. And last, and as they say “but not least”, is my Life Application Bible from my sister-in-law Janeece. I never knew there was a bible with “helps” at the bottom! All those years of church and no one told me! Really?!

So here it is, February 11th and I am thinking about November 21st from Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. It inspires me each time I read it. It’s like I have forgotten the words, and then there they are, reminding me again “to write”. Each day, this collection of philosophers starts with a verse from the bible. D.L. Moody collected 365 of his favorites; that in and of itself is amazing. And then he collected someone’s commentary supporting each verse. Now that I can Google, I keep my phone in my robe pocket just to see who these unknown geniuses are. Not every morning mind you, but sometimes.

November 21st starts with a quote, “I heard from behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet saying… write.” It sounds like Shakespeare, right? Well almost, it’s Revelation. And then Thomas Champness says, “Are there not others who would dry their tears if we would remind them of past joys, when we were poor as they are now? Would not some, who read these plain words, place inside the envelope something bearing their signature to which would make the widow’s heart dance for joy! What are our pens doing??”

What are our pens doing? My daughter-in-love (law doesn’t say it right) Sarah, my son Chad’s wife, heard my cry for personalized stationary a few years and ago and now it’s a staple of my budget. Envelopes bearing my address and personal cards bearing my name are like crystal champagne glasses. It states to whomever I am writing that what I am saying is intensely personal and very important to me.

I look for those moments when I can slip a word of love to someone else who may be experiencing life in a way that brings particular joy, or sorrow, or generosity. They should know their kindness to me meant something or that when I woke up they were the root of my anxiety and that I am honestly praying for them. Or perhaps, they just need to know I remember some past sorrow that is revisiting them just now.

What are your pens doing?!? ….. Write! Do it! Don’t wait. “Are you adding joy to other men’s lives? If so, then angels may tune their harps when we sit at our desks…looking at our pens as writing music for them to sing because what we write makes their client’s joy be full!” Joy! You see what I mean about these people that inspire me! So now, you …. Write. Write. Write.

Spell check. Save. Send. 🙂

Watching Creativity Become

It’s that time of year when parents are invited to come to class with us and we share our work. What has been a private process of creativity becomes public for the first time. I suppose you could argue that the class provides a weekly audience, but by now that audience has shifted to a trusted legion of fellow travelers. Your classmates are your comrades on a journey that opens up new worlds of insight that are nearly impossible to explain to anyone else. Hopefully, if all goes well, your class has become your best audience, providing a mirror for your discoveries; a group that can delight in those revelations right along with you, in fact sometimes before you.

But once parents arrive everyone gets jittery all over again. Perhaps this audience will enjoy being an observer of their child’s self-discovery and savor this one tiny glimpse of their child’s journey. Experience tells me that for some, this hour becomes a time of discernment that may bring a jab of criticism or the need to measure success. That’s the chance you always take as an artist when you show your work, but with your family it’s more personal.

So to all whose job it is to observe creativity on its journey, I have these words of encouragement. Creativity is precious and very private. I once taught a class where one child was so exceptionally shy that the mere idea that everyone’s parents were coming to observe gave him an instant case of the flu. I knew his cold sweats were motivated by his tender soul not germs floating in the air. And so we created a plan.

Every great work needs a lighting design and every production worth seeing needs a great stage manager. The flu disappeared as our lighting designer/stage manager was born. When everyone’s parents arrived this young boy stood proudly by the door. He knew his role in our collective success. We started working and proudly he stood. He had joyfully participated in the class all semester warming up, becoming the man who owned all the caps in Caps for Sale, happily playing a monkey in the tree. But not today. Today he was prepared for something else. Today he would shine the light on the other actors. His cue came and flawlessly the light switched on! Bravo!

How could I begin to explain to a type-A parent that he was indeed learning, becoming more confident by the moment and especially today? What I know is that until an individual develops enough confidence in what he or she has learned you may not get to see it. It may remain hidden until it has gelled.

I don’t remember his parents’ response. I do however remember his! He was elated with his role stage left. OFF STAGE LEFT to be more correct! He knew. I knew. It was a good day.

I Choose to Have a Sunday

I choose to have a Sunday, a time apart. Not just to do the wash or pull weeds, or go to the grocery, or all that other stuff we don’t have time to do during the week, but to head to my spiritual home. To have 2 cups of frothy coffee at a much slower pace than a Monday or Tuesday, put on something nicer than jeans, but less corporate than my suit, and go “be”.

I need a place to go once a week apart from the cares of my world, to be refreshed. Going to church, for me, especially when I don’t rush off after the service, when I slow my pace and connect, grounds me. This is where I learn to rest, to serve, to let go, to be thankful. Once I am there I become less worried about results. It’s like stepping into a zone where I realize there is an entire universe out there so much bigger than me, and ever so gently my daily worries melt away. I am reminded to forgive, to tell the truth, and above all else to be kind. It presses me to pay attention to the details of other people’s lives, to show up, to get outside of myself.

I loved reading that Jim Henson said he spent time in prayer every morning; that this time helped him start the day with a good frame of reference. I absolutely know this to be true. Finding white space! Ah me. Filling our spirits is as necessary as breathing.

A Charmed Life at Kids Who Care

www.zuilma.comI was listening to Charles Osgood this morning, as I do when I get ready for church. I heard words that describe why I hope that I always work at Kids Who Care. It is the key to relationships for me. We create a work of art together and it allows us to be in relationship. We teach each other the things we know. I get to share words of the all the greatest geniuses I’ve read about or observed. I get to pass along advice like “always say important things face to face”, “written thank yous matter”, “leaders pick up trash!” And you say things like “my heart is smiling”, or you show me your fairy notebook, or squeal with glee at the thought of a real Tinker Bell climbing through the window. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be in those rooms and basements and on those sidewalks? I have spent my entire adult life in relationship with artists and children. A charmed life for sure. A rich life beyond anything money will ever be able to glean.

Things That Can Derail Your Day

There are things that can derail my day in a nanosecond if I’m not careful. So I have created a list over time that I look at almost daily. I wouldn’t have to read it over and over if I had mastered these things 🙂 I am a “work in progress”! I love this list…

  1. Be careful of tiny distractions.
  2. Don’t be distracted by people’s temperament
  3. Don’t worry about vindicating yourself 🙂
  4. Give people a fresh start.
  5. Visibility is not about being seen, it’s about connecting.
  6. Seek to understand, not to be understood.

Each of these “one liners” has a story of course. I will share those at another time.

One Bird at a Time

I have this phrase that lives in my head; “One bird at a time, One bird at a time, One bird at a time.” It comes in 3’s, and if I am really lucky it resurfaces when I need it. It’s for those days when I am catapulted into foggy confusion by the sheer volume of information. It’s for those moments when I feel like I am under water and everyone around me is up there on the pool’s edge moving along. I can’t quite understand them, and I certainly can’t join the conversation because if I open my mouth I’ll drown. All that water pouring in.

So, “one bird at a time” helps me take the first step, get into the flow, and naturally, I move forward. Perhaps this story will help you. 🙂

There was a young boy sitting at his kitchen table with an open tablet of Manila paper, colored pencils out of the box, and his text book lying open. He was frozen; staring at the text. His dad came into the room and asked him if he could help and the little guy burst into tears. His assignment was due tomorrow; 12 state birds drawn and labeled. It was impossible! He hadn’t even started. His dad gently smiled and simply said, “One bird at a time, son. One bird at a time. Just take one piece of paper, draw the bird, and label it. When you finish with that one, go to the next, and then the next. Before you know it the project will be complete.

It’s September and my list of to-dos seems to grow exponentially. Before I can check anything off, the list has doubled or tripled in length. So today, right now, I say to myself, “One bird at a time, one bird at a time, one bird at a time.” It’s working! Join me. 🙂

Alumni Profile: Kate Lovelady

28469_639482644674_18311562_36788393_4765296_nKate Lovelady
Years at Kids Who Care: 1989 – 2002 (Student)
2005  Present (Staff)

  1. What are you doing now? I’m the Company Manager and Resident Assistant Director of Kids Who Care.  I manage the communication with the actors in the company, assist Deborah and work with the production staff and actors on all of the mainstage shows.  I also book the Resident Company and serve on the development team on staff.  My favorite thing is that I’m in the class room every day with 4-year-olds and 17-year-olds who love Musical Theatre and want to study together.

  2. What was your favorite role or show you were in at Kids Who Care?  The most www.zuilma.comfun experience I had  on stage at KWC as a kid was when I was a wife in an orange leotard in the 1998 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The year that stands out to me most was the 1994 tour of Choices. I sang the end of the Star Spangled Banner at the top of the show – in the dark! It was my only part in the show and it was my favorite year. But, if I had to choose only one favorite it would be getting to play Mrs. Darling in this summer’s production of Peter Pan. Coming back to the Scott stage as an adult was delightful and I will never forget it.

  3. What is the strongest lesson you took away from your time at Kids Who Care and how has it made you who you are today?  You can create the life you want to have.  The best way to a happy life is to find your dreams, say them out loud and make the choice to chase them every day. And if you surround yourself with the right people who will encourage you and love you no matter what…anything is possible.

  4. Which KidPower Point of Power do you most identify with and why?  As a kid, Role Model shaped me the most. The idea of being authentic to myself is at the core of who I am. Now, Encouragement is an active part of my day-to-day life because for me it is the most powerful thing I can receive and gift I can give to those around me.
    Kate Earth and Soul
  5. Tell us how what you are doing today applies to what you wrote on your cloud card as a kid.  When I was 7 years old, I wrote on a cloud card “I want to make Kids Who Care happen forever.” And over the years, I continued to say that out loud and now I’m living my dream every day.

  6. Any favorite or funny story about your time at KWC that we may not know?  My very first Sparkie was Clinton Foster. I was 16 and he was 7. Before a tour performance, shortly after we’d become Sparkies, he walked up to me while I was talking with some friends, gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me to have a good show. After I walked away, he said to my friend Taylor, “I just kissed Katie on the cheek and I bet it was the best thing she ever felt in her whole life.”  And it was. First Sparkie For Life.

  7. What is your dream for Kids Who Care? This summer as we celebrated 25 years, I was reminded over and over as each alumni spoke that this is our home. My dream is that our family will continue to grow and that we stay connected and most importantly will never lose sight of the heart of the company.

Rejuvenate Your Feelers

Following any marathon of work that mimics the explosive ongoing energy required of a Kids Who Care summer, you need more than a nap. You would do well to create a window to “rejuvenate your feelers”. Like a butterfly that sunbathes to refill the solar cells in his or her wings, we all need dedicated quality time off in order that what follows will have the possibility of being fruitful.

What I learned this year on my annual trek to breathe the Aspen filled Colorado air is that I should always pack a journal. I found myself writing in a Mead College Ruled Spiral Notebook I picked up from one of those gas station/fishing bait quick stops along the highway. When I am quiet I discover things, and I always want to write these things down because I know from experience, that if I write these morsels down they will find a place to resurface in my life.

Like today, I read Nora Ephron’s I Remember Nothing. You know her. She wrote Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, Julie & Julia. Her play, Lucky Guy, starring Tom Hanks is on Broadway now. She talked about the difference between 30 and 50. There is a difference by the way. I loved them both for totally different reasons.

Then it struck me, this is the place, Purgatory, Colorado, where Kids Who Care’s Heart to Heart was conceived. I suddenly realized I have been observing generations of families from balconies overlooking the ski slopes for over 25 years. Daily I sit with frothy coffee, or a glass of Malbec, or maybe something with huge volumes of crushed ice and lime, and watch families play; multiple generations dedicating time to be together, apart from their daily stressors. It’s is good to see. After my summer marathon, it is a place of bliss, to “breathe a little”. Sip a little. Observe.

So I am closing my Blue Mead College Ruled Spiral to return to Nora Ephron’s words and a fresh avocado with chips. I’ve bathed myself in sunscreen, “Freckles only please with a little Colorado tan to take home.” Dexter stands in the crystal clear lake catching dinner, I hope.

It’s September, and it’s time to ”rejuvenate my feelers!” Wherever you are, I hope you will do the same.