No. 123: 2014.

I can’t believe I’m writing a thank you note to 2014. (“Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!“)But I’m going with the idea that thanking it might be a helpful part of the “letting the year go” process.

Dear 2014,

Let me be clear: I am not sad to see you go. You were ruthless in teaching your lessons; but this does not mean, however, that the lessons were not worthwhile.

I learned to take nothing for granted, for this too can and shall pass eventually. I learned to nurture the relationships that support and sustain me. I talk to my grandparents more frequently now, because of you. I have discovered the value of building the framework of my life, brick by brick, slow as it may be.

I am choosing to remember you this way, as:

the year I rescued Daisy
was cast in my first musical since undergrad
the year I got a bike.

The year I started this blog,
ran a half marathon,
saw two of my best friends get married.

I will remember you as the year I found a yoga home,
ran to the Berkshires for Shakespeare camp,
directed a show that meant the sun moon and stars to me.

You are still not my friend. But I am thankful for some of the things you gave me nevertheless.

Christina

No. 122: Serial.

I have a confession to make (it will seem fitting that this is a confession in a minute): I love true crime specials. 20/20, The First 48, those kinds of docudramas with an articulate singsongy narrator that slowly focus on old Polaroids: I can’t get enough of them.

Which is part of the reason why I am addicted to Serial. Serial is a podcast: one true crime story told over the course of a season. There has only been one season so far, but that didn’t stop me from flying through episodes 1 – 6 in a single Saturday while cleaning the house.

The other part of the reason I love Serial is the really artful narrative crafted by Sarah Koenig. She’s an authentic, genuine storyteller and her curiosity and passion is what drove her to create this podcast. She even asks for money and owns up to how awkward it is; I really love her lack of pretentiousness and her admission that yeah, this is a weird relationship to have with a crime.

Already a Serial fan? Check out the SNL Christmas Serial bit. Haven’t listened yet? Visit the Serial website to get your fill.

Sarah Koenig, Serial, you rock.

(PS: Image credit.)

No. 121: Kale

Dear kale,

I’ve put you in my smoothies for years now. I’ve sautéed you and massaged you with avocado. Yesterday I tried you with hot sauce. It was a revelation. I was reminded of my love for you. Our relationship had grown stale. I loved spicing it up.

I appreciate your bold, green leafiness. I’m reminded of your staying power, despite being so trendy. Your “packing a punch” level of nutrition gets me every time.

Thank you for elevating my diet beyond the Christmas treats I’ve enjoyed, for justifying the Lindt chocolates here and there because I got my greens in first.

You + me = forever.

Love,

Christina

(PS: Image credit.)

No. 120: Prof. John Wood.

The other course I wrapped up recently with Future Learn was on Shakespeare and His World.

Call me biased, as I write this wearing my Shakespeare and Company sweatshirt (from my stay in Lenox, Massachusetts this summer), but the course was really rewarding. I have studied Shakespeare from a variety of perspectives: as an actor, as a teacher, but never as a sociologist. Sociology is the study of social behavior; its causes and its development. In effect, this course handled that. It was equally the study of one remarkable man and the times that shaped and influenced him, as well as the culture itself that was responding to and creating these events.

For example, take A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Shakespeare uses the “play within a play” conceit. When one remembers that Shakespeare is writing for his friends, his own company of actors, an entirely different understanding is taken. It made me think of high school, and writing inside jokes into skits we would perform for class projects. It makes Shakespeare much more tangible, accessible, human even, as we read his plays. I’ve always thought of other playwrights, like Tennessee Williams when it comes to the adage “write what you know.” But Shakespeare is not exempt from that. He wrote what he knew (a vast amount!) for his own world: his audiences, his friends, his society.

John Wood is a true academic. His commentary was thoroughly researched, his knowledge of the items in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was immense. What I enjoyed most was the moments when you could see a glimmer of excitement beneath the professionalism. For this reason, I most looked forward to his weekly round up videos when he would reflect on points the class participants had brought up. This was when you could really see the extent of his knowledge: unrehearsed, improvised, and vast.

While the course may have been a bit too vast for my expectations, I learned a great deal about Shakespeare and his society which I have already implemented in my own directing and teaching. I’m looking forward to even more Future Learn classes in the (ready for it?)… future.

No. 119: Profs. Wood and March.

I shared several months ago that I had signed up for some free online courses through FutureLearn.com. Today, I finished on a belated note with Exploring Play, which is a course run through the University of Sheffield.

I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that it can be tricky to devise a course around play. How to do so without seeming pedantic? The very nature of play is to be experimental and curious. In what ways can that be honored, while still being an academic course?

Professors Elizabeth Wood and Jackie March have done so, and they have gone above and beyond. The different topics within the study of play, such as universal design and disability, to virtual play and play theory, were all incredibly engaging. Not only that, they were encouraging. I felt myself looking for playful opportunities during my professional and personal time: joking with my students, trying new things at rehearsals. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from the thousands of online students, but for the guidance of these excellent professors. They truly made the experience a rewarding one through their moderation of the course and dissemination of the material.

With a playful (and thankful) heart,

Christina

No. 118: Friend of a Friend.

I went into yoga this evening, and a friend of a friend (hence the title) pointed out our mutual acquaintance. She recounted their conversation and when she referenced me, she said “oh, the really beautiful one with the short blonde hair?”

A tiny detail, a three syllable word, thrown in there to make my day.

Thank you so much for sharing that. It was not needed for the story, but so appreciated as a part of my evening.

No. 117: Day After Christmas.

A nod of appreciation to the day after Christmas. When, after the wrapping paper has been thrown out and the parties are over, you are free to enjoy leftovers. The glow of the Christmas tree. A quieter welcome back into the winter season, without the pressure to buy the perfect gift or find the right sale or balance family time with sanity.

It is a time reserved for contemplation – for appreciation of the days past and the consideration of what the new year will hold.