23 July, 2013

The Most Vulnerable Moment in Any Artist's Life

Advice from Stephen Sondheim to Jason Robert Brown (paraphrased by JRB): 
"Nobody cares what you think. Once a creation has been put into the world, you have only one responsibility to its creator: be supportive. Support is not about showing how clever you are, how observant of some flaw, how incisive in your criticism. There are other people whose job it is to guide the creation, to make it work, to make it live; either they did their job or they didn’t. But that is not your problem.
If you come to my show and you see me afterwards, say only this: “I loved it.” It doesn’t matter if that’s what you really felt. What I need at that moment is to know that you care enough about me and the work I do to tell me that you loved it, not “in spite of its flaws”, not “even though everyone else seems to have a problem with it,” but simply, plainly, “I loved it.” If you can’t say that, don’t come backstage, don’t find me in the lobby, don’t lean over the pit to see me. Just go home, and either write me a nice email or don’t. Say all the catty, bitchy things you want to your friend, your neighbor, the Internet.
Maybe next week, maybe next year, maybe someday down the line, I’ll be ready to hear what you have to say, but that moment, that face-to-face moment after I have unveiled some part of my soul, however small, to you; that is the most vulnerable moment in any artist’s life. If I beg you, plead with you to tell me what you really thought, what you actually, honestly, totally believed, then you must tell me, “I loved it.” That moment must be respected."

30 April, 2013

Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.

"There are thousands and thousands of people out there, living lives of quiet, screaming desperation who work long, hard hours at jobs they hate, to enable them to buy things they don't need, to impress people they don't like." - Nigel Marsh

"Make a commitment to start collecting experiences and not things." - Adam Baker

25 March, 2013


Top 5 Ways to a Better Life According to Dave Grohl

(An interpretation of his Keynote speech at SXSW last week in Austin,TX)

1. No one is you and that is your biggest power.

“It’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s f**king gone because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last . . .”
“Who’s to say what’s a good voice, and what’s not a good voice? The Voice? Imagine Bob Dylan sitting there singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in front of Christina Aguilera.”

2. Don’t be afraid of not fitting in.

“I can truly say out loud that ‘Gangnam Style’ is one of my favorite f**king songs of the past decade. Is it any better or worse than the latest Atoms for Peace album? Hmmm… paging Pitchfork! Come in, come in, Pitchfork! We need you to help us determine the value of a song! Who f**king cares.” Don't be someone who designs their lives to impress others.

3. Give a damn about yourself.

It’s about taking care of yourself so you can be a better human being. A 2.0 version of you is way more equipped to help others in need. Take up yoga if you’re stressed. Ask for a big raise. Walk away from a relationship that is abusive or draining. Or just take a nap, for Christ’s sake.

4. Be humble.

No one wants to go to lunch with a supermodel who says things like, “My cheekbones, if you’ve noticed, have a similar incline to an escalator.” One thing I’ve noticed is that if you are good at something, people will acknowledge it. Appreciate the hell out of those people. Should you be blessed enough to have the fortitude to work so hard at something that people celebrate you, your first reaction should be gratitude. And know that there’s a ton of people out there from all races and socioeconomic backgrounds who can still teach you something. I don’t care if you’re Bill Clinton or Jay-Z – always be learning; always be improving.

5. Spark a revolution.

Always have the highest bar for yourself. Wake up everyday and no matter how crappy you feel, want to change something for the better. Do something that makes someone happy. Create something that inspires someone. Be someone’s light when they are hopeless.

22 March, 2013


Living with less. It's an idea that I really would like to embrace... but it's hard. It's hard to change anything about ourselves - and it's especially hard when society is beckoning you in the opposite direction. But when I start to think about my own personal debt (which we are working hard to eliminate by using some of the methods on this website) and our country's national debt (which is comically explained in this video) I often start to wonder if I really need all of this stuff.

These two videos inspire me. Graham Hill made more money by the time he was 30 than most of us will make in our lifetime - yet he currently lives in NYC in a 420-square foot apartment. Granted, it's a pretty awesome, highly individualized apartment that was probably very expensive to create. He's on a mission to change the way we think about stuff and his TED talk "Less Stuff, More Happiness" makes me want to join his bandwagon.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

17 March, 2013


Thanks to Shane's Blog for the image (source: slowrobot.com).
This article from The Atlantic is also an interesting look at Finland's education ideas.

26 February, 2013


"In a global culture that requires creative problem solvers and craves innovation, schools must cultivate dynamic, adaptive thinking. And where do creative problem solving, imagination, divergent thinking, and experiential learning come together every day? 

The fine and performing arts.

When a child creates a world on a blank canvas, an actor brings Henry V to life on stage, or a musician awakens the brilliance of Mozart, they not only immerse themselves in some of the finest culture known to humankind, they involve themselves in the process of meaning-making. But just as important as the gallery exhibit, the finished dance, or the choir concert, are the hours spent in the studio: risking, experimenting, failing, succeeding, and growing.

The fine and performing arts are the crucible that stretches one’s potential, expands one’s mind, alters one’s life for the better. It’s the day-to-day experience of making art on the stage or in the studio that plays a major role in preparing students for life." 

-Kevin Costa, Director of Fine & Performing Arts at McDonogh School


17 February, 2013


"The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. 

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember to say 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away."

George Carlin

01 January, 2013

2012 - A LOOK BACK

I started this blog on January 1, 2008. I wrote 360 entries that year - almost one for every day, which was of course the original intention for the blog and the inspiration for its title: that I would write a little bit each day.

This year, I wrote 42 entries. An average of 3.5 blog posts per month, writing not even once a week. And the funny thing is that this past year was a year of huge transitions for me. A year where so many wonderful things worth writing about happened. Perhaps I was just so invested in living in the moment that I couldn't even step outside of myself for a few minutes to jot it all down.

A resolution for 2013? More writing.
But for now, as I've done each year, a look back at 2012...

We decided to make a big transition for our family: moving from NYC, where we lived and worked and enjoyed our friends for 10 years, to Maryland. It was a challenging transition but it was definitely the right choice for us. And it was a blessing to have a solid partner with whom to share the burden.

I start to learn about Peak Oil. I'm inspired by an 11-year-old to know where my food comes from. And I begin to connect with a cousin of mine who lives on the other side of the country, (bi-coastal kindred spirits).

My daughter turns two. We have a birthday party for her at which she is the only child - and she loves every second of having a room full of adults to dote on her. (Complete with a homemade Elmo cake!) I read a book called Animal Vegetable Miracle that creates a deep need in me to start our own garden and confirms our family's decision to move.

I continue to think about how I want to raise our daughter: what I want her to be exposed to and what kind of people I want her to have in her life.

We start our first vegetable garden. It will never look that nice and neat again.

To our city folk surprise, our plants in the garden start to grow! And actual vegetables start to appear. Our move to this new town gives me a luxurious amount of one-on-one time with my daughter... but it also gives me pains in my heart because I miss my friends in New York. Especially this one.

Six weeks later, our garden is going wild. Our 3 tomato plants have grown a few feet and our peppers actually look like peppers. It is truly amazing. I think about what it means to be rather than to seem.

I get a job teaching theater. And I love it. Within a few weeks I've already started to rethink how I talk about relationships in this all-girls school and I remember that humans are complicated. I strive to make each girl in my class feel comfortable with who she is.

I direct my first play at GFS and I feel very proud of how hard everyone worked on it. I get the best compliment I could've asked for from my student actors: "Ms. Waller took us seriously, so we took ourselves seriously."

I feel blessed with my abundance of good fortune.

There is a lot of buzz around the date 12.21.12 and although I am glad that the world did not end, I do believe it has begun to change. I feel grateful for the relationship that I have with my siblings, both the ones I grew up with and the ones that came with marriage.

My daughter continues to sing and it warms my heart. I get to be home for the holidays. My sister got hitched. I registered to run a 1/2 marathon (seriously?!). And I spent New Year's Eve with a man I truly adore, a man who believes we are more than just married but joined in spirit as well. Lucky, lucky me.