Writing Progress

All right, so yesterday I finished a draft of my latest play, NANNA-SIN, inspired by the Ancient Sumerian myths of the god of the moon.

The story goes that two teens are the sole survivors of a village attack decimating their village. They make a pact to travel to the city capital to the temple of Nanna-Sin. One has a connection to the divine and the other seeks revenge. They cross paths with a priest in the House of Nanna-Sin, a lead orchestrator, who sees the potential to use their skill to make a political upheaval. The high priestess of Nanna-Sin is the one with the power, however misuses it to gain control over the people.

Anyway, without giving away the whole of it, which is what the reading on 10-14-17 at the EXIT Theatre is for (mark your calendars! 😉), I'm reflecting on a couple things I did differently this time around that I want to remember and perhaps expand on for next time.

You see, previously, my process of writing mostly involved swirling down the drain of imposter syndrome while simultaneously self-flagellating until the deed was done enough. After a recovery period of varying length, I'd say, "hmm there must be an easier way." But then, I'd return to the same old process and shrug that, "it must just be my process."

Well, how wrong I was about that! Here's some things I did differently this time:

1) Outline

Instead of diving into this good idea I had, I held myself to completing the outline. Well, at least 90-95% of it. The last 5-10% I was okay with coming up with in the process of writing out the script.

This helped SO much because when it came time to write, I didn't have to hold two different things "what happens next" and "what specifically they do or say in each moment" in my brain. I could get to the big story points and color in the details along the way.

The other thing was that if I discovered a new direction that didn't match up with a story point in the outline, it was easier to make a decision about what was the right way to go because I had choices. Not "this is the only thing at can think of"

Way more relaxing. Gotta do that again.

2) Collaboration and Constraints

I spoke with my director truthfully about where I was in the process and told her the story as I saw it.

A screenwriter friend recommended telling more stories as practice in… telling stories. I know, right? Like why did someone have to tell me this? But all I can say is that it wasn't obvious to me that doing this would have any positive impact on my storytelling abilities. Now it seems like a "duh" moment. Oh well, live and let learn.

So two aspects — talking through the story made me realize right away where I needed to work out some story holes and other challenges. For instance, one thing we acknowledged right away was that this story was way bigger than I had time allotted. So constraint #1, tell this epic story in 30 minutes and hit all the points. We talked through some ideas of how this could be possible. The story turns and transitions may be quick. I had it on my radar. Constraint #2, out of respect of my director's timeline and when she wanted to initiate rehearsals, it was going to be best if I finished by a certain date. Deadlines are always a good thing for me at least — though I am not nearly as good with self- imposed deadlines as when a deadline comes from someone else — especially if I'd be letting down another person or group by not fulfilling my end of the duty. Being on deadline gave me the ability to get it out despite it not being perfect. It made me make decisions that I couldn't worry too much about — should I really bring this element in or will people think that's hokey? Nope, gotta move on and get done.

3) Bring Yourself (Play to Your Strengths)

When you get into the nitty gritty of the story — this is where I shine once I'm in the flow. I knew I would be fine and could go for as long as I wanted once I got there. The outline and the deadline helped put a slight bit of pressure and narrowed the focus. Then, worries about what to say or how to transition from one thing to the next? Nah! I'm in the flow!

Flow Time!

And then everything is just calibrated to keep me up. Music helps me with my pace and to keep going. I personally prefer atmospheric dance music that doesn't have a lot of lyrics. Sounds strange, I'm sure, but there's something about moving my body to the beat that every so often helps me get back into it full force.

This story has a lot of ancient elements that I didn't know about — so research helped. Cool things that I learned like how the first author was a high priestess of Nanna-Sin. She wrote poetry and hymns. So interesting because when you read them, I was expecting more sort of exaltations of mystery but really there was a lot about being victorious in battle against their political enemies? Whoa, that could be useful. File that away for later.

And then there was the part where I had to just give myself creative freedom and say, ok I may not get this right the first time and that's ok. Like is it historically accurate? No, but if I invent something based on what I know, it will take less time. And then there were other elements I knew I were going to incorporate like the characters have metaphysical powers so it's like a parallel world where these kinds of powers were not thought possible but are.

Tons of solutions to try to figure out but ultimately I used what I had closest to me as a tool. So, in this story I brought in my influences from yoga, internal martial arts, and Hawaiian healing. Like there are healing chants/songs, a power that one can feel, physical protocols and methods. Is it representational of those things? Oh god no. My teachers or staunch practitioners of these systems would probably frown upon me if I did that. But look, I'm just playing. I can play with stuff and also practice it more traditionally too. No biggie. It made it fun to play in the world of the play.

4) Technique

There were things I did to negotiate between the largeness of the story and the amount of time allotted. For instance, there are some moments where I had to represent a complex idea — like simultaneous time with different space/characters or advancing one character's arch with not a lot of pages. And through the magic of the form, I remembered that I can run both at the same time. I can have two places represented at once on a stage. People have the ability to listen to a story being told by one character and understand another person on stage as a character in that story. There's a point later on that I'm particularly proud of too for its low-budget, high impact way of representing multiple worlds. I use what I know is available in most theater spaces to make the relationship representational in a 3D way.

All sounds conceptual, I know, and whether I was actually successful in clearly articulating what I meant remains to be seen, though at least I tried. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work and we can come up with something else.

It's All Been Done Before
And yet at the end of the day, it's all been done before. Someone else has written thousands maybe millions of stories with these elements. So it's not being created purely from scratch. Not when you think of it like that. Epic fantasy story that needs to be told in 30 minutes? A lot of cartoons do that successfully for multiple seasons!

There's something about the idea that if someone else figured out something remotely similar to what you're working on, it makes you (or me at least) feel like, ok well I can probably figure it out. At least an aspect of it! I mean I'm not trying to be a super amazing great writer all in one go, but, you know, occasionally people laugh at my jokes, think I represented a particular scene or moment in life well, or opened their eyes to a new perspective. Those things are all things that not just my mom and dad have told me.

😊

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I used to sleep

HYPNOS: I used to sleep. I used to sleep and dream. Dream about sheep. Just kidding — I never dream about sheep. Sheep are boring and expected. Still they are cuddly and innocuous little beings. Eating their grass. Baa-ing. Wandering around. Eating more grass. Laying down… what do you think a sheep thinks like? 

Do you think sheep have the same kinds of problems people do only maybe their gradiation is smaller? Like sheep has blue, yellow, purple, but humans got chartreuse, goldenrod, amethyst. How do you think a god sees? It’s… indescribable. You see, to understand it would be touching divinity. It would mean that you’d have to die. Maybe then you could understand. The dead understand a lot of things that the living don’t.

There’s a seed in the heart of the forest down in South America that is supposed to be THE remedy for sleep. It’s been 21 days. Even for a god, I’m starting to feel as though something is off. As if I don’t understand myself anymore. I was looking for ways to get this seed here, but of course, it’s near to impossible. 

First of all, you’d need a guide to even find it. But the guide doesn’t speak Spanish or Portuguese so you gotta find a guide for the guide who knows the language of deep within the forest. Second, the conditions have to be just right for the plant to flower and fruit, or so it’s indicated on these numerous websites that I’ve bookmarked. Apparently it’s a really stinky kind of flower that attracts the worst kind of bugs.

I’m afraid of bites… Well, I suppose that’s obvious though…

“Don’t let the bed bugs bite…”

“Good night!”

Good night. 

“Good night.”

I can feel the world’s people go to bed. And I’m going insane. People tell me “just go to bed,” but I can’t go to bed! I’m racing once I’m in there. Ready to go. Better than coffee. Better than any kind of drug. I’m like thinking a million things a moment. I have all these ideas like toaster with a side container to make eggs. Dog socks. A left-handed violin. Shoes that clean themselves. Jackets that turn into seat cushions. I could go on forever.

I could go on forever.

I could…

go on…

forever…

Forever. 

I need to sleep. The dreams do something with all these thoughts. The dreams know how to sort it out. The dreams point the direction. 

And I stop worrying.

I walk.

I enjoy my day. 

I remember what it’s like to laugh.

And the deepness of an instant.

I see me again. 

When I dream.

I miss dreaming.

The Real World – Theater Edition: A Couple Words

Barbara Jwanouskos, speaking up. So, it’s been a while since I’ve written more of an editorial for San Francisco Theater Pub instead of conducting an interview with a local theater maker, but I thought I’d write down a couple words this week because I’ve been thinking. I’ve been thinking about how our artistic systems are […]

https://sftheaterpub.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/the-real-world-theater-edition-a-couple-words/

The Real World – Theater Edition: An Interview with Libby Emmons

Recent interview with Libby Emmons for SF Theater Pub was way cool. Loved hearing her perspective on art-making and not “asking permission”. 

And it’s so true! We do ask permission all the time to do art. Why? Isn’t that somewhat the point of art (possibly) to not ask permission?
I remember something Rob Handel told us at CMU though – that you submit to playwriting/creative opportunities AND you create your own opportunities. The first is because hey, you never know. It’s so much determined by undefinable factors that you can never truly know. I call BS on anyone or thing that says otherwise! 

And the second is because it’s fun to make art, yeah? I think so…

Anyway, wanted to share this interview again here to help promote the Morrissey Plays at PianoFight tonight and tomorrow and because I wanted to share what Libby said once more! 

Oh, in the spirit of not apologizing for one’s existence/art and also Morrissey —

http://youtu.be/AZa8jHi1nkk
You’re Welcome. 
Barbara Jwanouskos interviews Libby Emmons. Kicking off the first interview of 2016 is Libby Emmons who starts us off right by talking about indie theater and the importance of creating your own opportunities. Libby is a playwright as well as a producer and has a similar theater in pubs type of play series going with […]

https://sftheaterpub.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/the-real-world-theater-edition-an-interview-with-libby-emmons/

the bike play

There’s this play I wrote about two girls that steal Lance Armstrong’s bike while he’s doing the Tour of California. Just a crime of opportunity, you know. So they go on this road trip to get rid of it, but end up being in over their heads. They post about it online and become internet-famous. It becomes a meme. A hashtag. An event. It gets really big and more than they can handle. Things escalate – you know how it goes.

This is a play that I send out a lot as a sort of “here’s what I write” thing. It was written in such a weird way – different than I had done in the past, but I felt good when it was done. I mean, not that I think it’s done done. I gotta hear it again. I’d love to see it, but, you know, that takes commitment from a theater company or something. I suppose I could do it myself… Hmm…

Anyway, so I’m going to share a couple of pieces of it over the next couple of posts. Feel free to enjoy.

This is about midway through the play. They are now starting to steal cars to cover up their tracks. I played with the formatting a bit from how it is in the script. I want to see how it reads.

 

SCENE TWELVE: jamie’s secret blog

JAMIE updates her blog while simultaneously remembering a part of the journey. The two are driving down Highway 5, California. The screen is a blurry California landscape from a car window. ELLA drives the car. JAMIE leans her head against the window. Silence.

 

JAMIE

Ella drives fast. I don’t, but she does.

She likes the flow.

I get nervous, I put my foot on the gas, I drive fast, my heart beats fast. She drives fast, her heart rate slows down. To a pulse.

Thump…

Thump…

Thump…

Like it’s sounding its last beat.

The one thrill it has left isn’t a thrill at  all. It’s soothing to her, the flow of traffic.

She bobs in and out of cars, I grip the edge of my seat, the Jesus handle, anything I can latch onto, I hold on for dear life like that’s the only thing I can do. The only thing I’m supposed to do. Fight for my life. A new one.

When Ella’s like this I wonder how much longer before the other shoe drops. I used to relax too – go with the flow – but I can’t anymore.

I can’t.

I see everything.

I see how close we come to dying every time she passes another car.

I grip the seat.

There’s nothing else I can do, you see?

Nothing.

Punk As Fuck – reading on 1/12 at the Gallery Cafe in SF

Super lucky to be selected as a guinea pig for Custom Made Theatre‘s new plays development program. Myself and Megan Cohen, another fantastic local playwright (who happens to be in the cast of my play!) were asked to share a play we’d been working on for these one-off readings at the Gallery Cafe

The point of the readings is to hear the next draft of a script in progress and receive public feedback through a talkback immediately following the reading.

Originally, Punk As Fuck, was developed as a part of Just Theater‘s New Play Lab. We did a public reading last April and I was very proud of the work and everyone involved. Since then, I’ve had a chance to ruminate on the feedback I received as well as step back ftom the whole thing and figure out what exactly is next.

Right now, the play sits between a linear and non-linear structure. Like you could go in and make changes that would push it to be more like a Shakespearean structured comedy. Or you could trim the references between characters. You could diverge every time the want for some sort of logical linear reasoning came up. And I admit that it does probably exist between those two spaces right now.

I did have a thought this werkend when working on the latest revisions. We always talk about “the event” in theater, meaning why are all the characters there, tonight in this space? I had this step back and suddenly see the mural moment where it was like, “what if the event being staged is that each person lets go or attempts to come to terms with is trying to define what punk rock is and what that means for their identity?” 

And it’s a little disappointing in a way because that opens up a whole huge set of potential re-writes that I simply don’t have time to put into place until after the reading is over. But at least I may have a little more clarity for the next time I go at it. And who knows? Maybe the changes I made were what allowed me to arrive here in my thinking.

In any case, I hope you can come out (if you’re around/available)! I’d love your thoughts and perspective on the whole thing. 

Here is the facebook event. Join us! Oh, and let me know if you do so I can say hi! 

It’s Been A Long Time

“…I shouldn’t have left you without a dope beat to step to…”

 

9v8za

And here I am, back on this crazy thing and ready to give an update on all that’s happened. The biggest thing was that for the past two years, I’ve been off at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing my MFA in Dramatic Writing under Rob Handel’s direction. The amount of writing we were doing in this program made life for the past two years fairly intense, so it was hard to keep The Dynamics of Groove up to date. That’s not to say I was an internet hermit. I still contributed to the blogs with San Francisco Theater Pub and 108Heroes.

Here’s the top 25 things I’ve accomplished over the past two years in no particular order:

  1. Wrote and helped to produce “It’s All in the Mix”, a coming-of-age love story about DJs with All Terrain Theater at Vamp Records in Oakland, CA. Directed by Brady Brophy Hilton, Stage Managed by Robert Neopolitan, Sound help by The Selector DJ Kirk and Kris Barrera, featuring Champagne Hughes and Courtney Nickolson as JUNE, Kris Barrera and Tommy Nyugen as BIZ, and Johnny Manibusan as PAT. Special Thanks to Tracy Held Potter, Sean Sullivan, and more. ItsAllInTheMixPostcardFinalFRENCHe2
  2. Wrote 31 plays in 31 days in the organization’s inaugural year (some of the eye sores are on this blog…)
  3. Moved to Pittsburgh and found an amazing apartment in Squirrel Hill.
  4. Wrote a one-act comedy, “Hera, The Pregnant Man Play” for the San Francisco Olympians Festival, which was voted an Audience Favorite the night it was read! A filmed version of the staged reading is available here. Produced by San Francisco Olympians Festival (Special Thanks to Stuart Bousel), directed by Amy Claire Tasker, Claire Slattery as HERA, Nick Trengrove as TERRY, Ben Grubb as CHAD, Eric Hannan as RYAN, Arie Lavine as ALICIA, and Brian Martin as ZEUS. HERA The Pregnant Man Play
  5. Got a mention in the Huffington Post by George Haymont for “Hera, The Pregnant Man Play”.
  6. Tested and received my black belt in Shaolin kung fu.
  7. Wrote a ten minute multimedia comedy, “Donut Erotica”, which was selected for publication by 31 Plays in 31 Days. You can listen to a podcast recording of an older version here. Produced by 31 Plays in 31 Days (Special Thanks to Rachel Bublitz and Tracy Held Potter), directed by Claire Rice, featuring Colleen Egan as LINDSAY, Peter Townley as KEV, Michelle Talgarow as the CASHIER LADY, and stage directions by Caitlin Evenson.
  8. “Donut Erotica” was then selected to be performed in CMU’s Playground Festival in the spring of 2013 and I had the chance to work with some amazing collaborators. Directed by Alex Franz, Video Design by Jordan Harrison, Sound Design by Ian Julian Williams, Set Design by Dan Daly, LINDSAY – Olivia Brown, KEV – Scott Coffey, SHOP OWNER – Petr Favazza. And special thanks to Laci Corridor, Jonah Eisenstock, Britain Valenti. DONUT EROTICA by Barbara Jwanouskos
  9. Made all the donuts (including vegan and gluten-free ones!) for the Playground production.
  10. Wrote an introduction and provided copyediting to the forth-coming collection of plays from the second annual San Francisco Olympians Festival, “Heavenly Bodies”.
  11. Started writing a bi-weekly series for San Francisco Theater Pub called “Higher Education” about what it’s like as a theater artist going through a graduate program and the lessons learned while there.
  12. Helped shoot and edit video for the 108Heroes re-launch promo. Check it out!
  13. Taught “Introduction to Screenwriting” at the university level in the fall of 2013.
  14. Wrote two ten minute plays for the San Francisco Olympians Festival, “Ajax Minor” directed by James Nelson, featuring Richard Wenzel, Caitlin Evenson, Carl Lucania, Jan Marsh, Karlie Blair, and Eli Diamond. And “Neoptolemus”, directed by Charles Lewis III, featuring Eli Diamond, Ben Grubb, Richard Wenzel and Carl Lucania.
  15. Worked with Disney Imagineering Research and Development as a writer by contributing 40 short scenes to their emotional speech database project.
  16. Was identified as a semi-finalist for the DISQUIET Literary International Short Play contest for my ten minute comedy, “Naughty Cheetah”.
  17. Was identified as a semi-finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival for “i stole lance armstrong’s bike”.
  18. Taught “Advanced Playwriting” in the spring of 2014.
  19. Wrote and collaborated to help produce “The Imaginary Opponent” as my thesis play production at Carnegie Mellon University. Directed by Quin Gordon, Production Assistance by Dan Giles, Set Design by Britton Mauk, Lighting Design by Daniel Bergher, featuring Cathryn Dylan as ERIKA, Austin James Murray as MAC, David Patterson as SIFU ADAM, Sawyer Pierce as GABE, and Annie Yokom as MASTER LYNN. DB_ImaginaryOpponent_24
  20. Submitted “The Imaginary Opponent” and “Day Drinkers” as my thesis for the CMU library.
  21. Graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with an MFA in Dramatic Writing.
  22. Met with theater, screenwriting, TV and other entertainment professionals at the LA and NY Showcases for the class of 2014.
  23. Wrote “Time to Wine”, a short comedic libretto for the Baria Project with Roger Zahab and the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh to be performed in July 2014.
  24. Collaborated with Stephen Webb to write the libretto to “For the Time Being”, a short opera love story about a being from another dimension, composed by Daniel Arnaldos and to be performed in February 2015.
  25. Returned back to the Bay Area!

It’s been a long journey, but I’m ready to take this all to the next level!

 

 

31 Days: The August Challenge

I haven’t been the best about updating my blog lately, but if you’ve read the last couple of posts, you’d know that there’s so much going on! I just haven’t made the time to focus on writing, but since I’m leaving behind a lot of folks in the Bay Area, one of the things I’m trying to make a commitment to is updating this a little more regularly. I’m not promising much, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

August for me is all about new beginnings. I’ve accepted the 31 Days, 31 Plays Challenge. I’m continuing the Artist’s Way practice of morning pages, and even trying to incorporate the Artist’s Dates more regularly. And even though I’ve written about it before and felt like I totally bombed, I’m trying to commit to at least five minutes a day of practicing kung fu and tai chi.

These three activities are intensely important to me, not just because I love doing them, but because they ground me and keep me moving forward. As I shift my life pretty dramatically in August 2012, it’s important for me to start it out right. That means building these three things into my everyday.

That being said, you gotta have goals. Certainly the top priority for me is just to be consistent and diligent about incorporating these three activities into my life, but without milestones, an assessment of what you do well and what you’d like to improve upon, it’s hard to really move forward realistically.

The morning pages, because they are already a part of my daily lexicon, were not hard to start out with. The kung fu practice and writing a play were a lot harder. So, I decided to do a little writing brainstorming about it. I took a page of my journal and divided it into three’s. One was titled “writing”, the next, “kung fu” and a third, I added called, “personal”.

I added the “personal” column because I realized that there were some larger ideas and concepts that I wanted to get better at in all of my life. In kung fu, we talk about reaching the next belt level and there are certain focus points that you should have attached to your training, whether that be balance and focus or clarity and confidence. For adults practicing the art, achieving another belt level is not as simple as passing a test, or this tangible thing that marks your progress into a more advanced level, but it can weave into something in your personal life that you are trying to work on.

For me, adding a “personal” column was a way to focus on the areas of my life where I would like to see growth. Instead of just wishful thinking, however, like “I wish I was more fit” or “I wish I didn’t get angry so easily” or “I wish I knew how to hold the nunchaku without constantly hitting myself in the head.” All these can be fuel for goals and are achievable when a bit of action is put behind it.

In this list-making exercise, I decided to free-write as fast as I could to get at the aspects of each of these areas of my life that I wanted to improve upon. After everything was written down, I noticed that in each column, and overall, there were certain ideas, activities and concepts that were a theme. These were the ones that I highlighted as I read back the list. Additionally, in each column, there was at least one goal that I had written that I gravitated towards, but was not necessarily a part of any pattern or reoccurring theme. I made note of those too.

The Things I Want to Get Better At
If you don’t know where to start, sometimes a self-assessment is the best place to begin.

My approach to goal-setting came from my work at the Food Bank where as the Grants Manager, metrics, goal-setting, and deliverables were part of my daily projects. In a lot of nonprofit work, there’s an idea of creating deliverables that are SMART (duh…), but in this case, SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely”. Even though I didn’t put my goals in this specific format, I thought it was a good way to think of what I wanted to carry out in the next month and not just set out to do something because it will be “good for me”. Well, something is only good for you if you understand what it is improving upon and if in practice, it is actually effective in moving you forward.

Once I had looked over the list and identified themes as well as what jumped out at me, I decided to make a couple of focus points/goals out of the results. Because I want these to be achievable over the next month, I picked only three in each group, with one “fun” goal that I added in as a marker for a personal best.

Here were my top three goals (and one fun goal) in each category:

Writing

  1. Consistency of writing practice (both in the morning pages and playwriting) and greater stamina in my practice. I would say I’m defining consistency as being able to write three morning pages every day and one play a day (that is at least one page and has a beginning, middle, and end by 31 Days, 31 Plays standards). I’m defining greater stamina in the morning pages by not stopping the morning pages until finished (not getting distracted by other thoughts or actions) and in playwriting I’m defining stamina as working towards an ending. So, whether it’s a one page play or a 15 page play, working towards an ending and going back to the play to finish it after taking a break.
  2. Incorporating wonder into my plays and writing about interesting topics. Admittedly, this one is a bit amorphous, but I figure part of this goal requires that I get out of my comfort zone with topics and perhaps take up one of Julia Cameron‘s Artist Way activities, “The Artist Date,” to fill my imagination bucket with images and experiences. I also find that Naomi Iizuka‘s list-making tool around objects, facts about oneself and the known universe are helpful in germinating a seed of an idea.
  3. Practicing heightening conflict and character development in my writing. So, this is something that has frustrated me in the past because it has often taken several drafts and several attempts for me to find the conflict that characters have with one another and in the play. I think focusing in on this aspect, asking myself what the conflict is while writing will help (hopefully).
  4. FUN ONE! So, this goal didn’t have anything attached to it, but in meeting my friend, Sean’s daughter, Shaye, the other day, I realized that I would LOVE to write something that young people like her, and kids would be interested in. So, I might try writing a couple plays that I think she (or her generation) would dig.

Kung Fu

  1. Truly knowing the material that I will need to test to first black over. This one is maybe my top priority in this category because I’ll be leaving soon and will need to take all the material I know and the couple of forms I don’t know yet with me. I want to have the material down to a point where I really feel like I’d be a good black belt. Like I really earned it. And to do that, I need to focus on my newest material and make sure the memory and application of it is there.
  2. Lowering my stances and building my endurance. Similarly to my writing practice, I want to be able to do more in my kung fu. I want to build up how much I can actually take. Right now, I know there’s a couple of things I could work on with my posture. For instance, sometimes I feel really wobbly and un-grounded and I could do the stance for a little while, but probably couldn’t hold it solidly for very long. I’d like to get better at that so that it’s not just show, but, yes, I can actually hold a low bow or bird stance or whatever and feel comfortable fighting from that position.
  3. Doing the breathing techniques I’ve learned in hou tien chi and hsien tien chi while doing the forms/techniques. I sort of turn this on and off now, and I wish it were a little more instinctual and natural to really feel the breath and energy moving through me the way that the forms are meant to be done traditionally. I don’t want to just go through the motions, but to think and focus on everything I’m doing. Breathing properly requires you to pay a lot more attention to what you’re actually doing.
  4. FUN ONE! I really want to try to get it so that I can do the Yang Tai Chi form in one hour. Right now, it takes me about 13 minutes when I’m moving slowly. I could probably go for even longer if I slow down even more. Going slower will also help with the memory, the stances and positioning and thinking about the applications too.

Personally

  1. Develop my focus and awareness in all areas of my life. I think, like a lot of people, I try to do too many things all at once, and I end up doing a not very great job at any of them. Rather than work that way, I’d like to try to really think about what I’m doing in the moment and be aware of what’s going on around me or within me as well. I feel like if I got better at this, I wouldn’t be so blind-sided by people’s actions sometimes.
  2. Getting better at “letting go”. As an example, I’m literally trying to give away, sell or get rid of a lot of the “stuff” in my life that I’ve accumulated over the years as I prepare for this move to Pittsburgh. It’s been hard knowing what I might need and what I might want in the future. I know I have had a tendency to hold on to things for too long. The thing is, that’s emotional energy that’s associated with all that physical stuff too. That’s more energy and time that I could be putting into the activities and people I really do want around me. I’m trying to get rid of as much as I can, especially before I leave the Bay Area, because I’m not sure when I’ll ever have this gift of time again. In the process I’m also trying to be a bit more choosy about what I do welcome into my life and my world. If it’s hard to deal with than I’m not as inclined to keep it.
  3. Taking better care of myself more consistently. July was rough. I ended a job I had for over five years and said good-bye to a lot of people who have had a profound impact on my life. I opened a play that I started writing over nine years ago. I did a double-test into a new belt level that is just one test away from black belt and hence discipleship into the art. A lot of huge things. In the midst of all this, I ended up eating crappier food than usual, not getting enough sleep, and not giving myself the quiet time and space to re-charge. I’ve gotten pretty good at taking care of myself, but I drop off the ball sometimes. I’d like to be consistent about taking care of myself when times are hard and stressful, because things will always get harder, while at the same time other things will get easier. I need to be able to truly be present to the people I love and the activities I do, and that starts by taking even better care of myself.
  4. FUN ONE! Reading more often. I don’t read nearly as much as I would like to, or probably should considering I’m going back into grad school. If I can read a bit of a book a day, I will feel much more aware of the world and hopefully that will enrich everything else I do too!

So, there you have it. My top goals/focal points for the moment. I’m trying to be better at using my blog as a tool by which to assess myself. Hopefully, it will happen!

Self-Transformation
Change is not only possible, it’s inevitable!