acting, backstage, christian, christian blog, disney, family, planning, theater

Edits Aren’t Only For The Written Word

The third entry in Webster’s dictionary says that an acceptable meaning of the word “EDIT” is


c : to alter, adapt, or refine especially to bring about conformity to a standard or to suit a particular purpose

As most of you know, I’ve been pretty unhappy with things in my life this year. I’d list all of the things, but I don’t want to think about them and I’m pretty sure none of you want to hear about them either. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve treated myself to some spoiling–more reading, getting my nails done and lastly a trip to Disney. Thankfully, this week I feel more like my usually positive self.

Four Friends Fall For Disney

As I was going through my mail after my trip I opened one of the subscription boxes I receive . (I know–I needed something to get through two years of COVID) To feed my planner obsession I receive a subscription box from Cloth and Paper. It is filled with new pens and sticky notes and journaling cards and well, it is just something I spoil myself with. As I was going through my new goodness I saw that they had written that definition on one of the cards.

It stopped me in my tracks. Somehow, it made me feel like the things I was planning and designing didn’t have to stay on the page. No! I could edit myself as well!

What would I want to edit? Well, bad habits. I’d also like to firmly get out of this slough of despond I’ve been in. Lastly, I want to lose weight. I was preparing for a half marathon when Covid hit and since then I just can’t get my head to care about what I looked like. I would reason with myself and tell myself that I wasn’t going anywhere anyway so why not enjoy my food? I knew I had gained weight, but really didn’t realize how much until I put on my costume for Twelve Angry Women. I guess I had been deceiving myself by wearing leggings and spanx and all black, but wow, yep…I need to take action. For my own health. For my future.

Jessica Means and me! Photo by Francisco Montes

And yet I still didn’t take significant steps. I did slow down on pop and make a healthy decision every once in awhile, but we all know that isn’t enough.

Then, I opened that box and saw the definition and somehow I knew that was for me. I need to edit my life.

I started looking and researching what I was going to do and decided to start with baby steps (because I’m still not sure my head is all the way there and I don’t want to fail.) I looked up how many steps I needed to take a day just to maintain my weight…again, I was shocked…9000! Some of you aren’t surprised…I was blown away! No wonder I was gaining weight! I stopped running and I was almost never hitting that many steps a day. I downloaded the app. (Yep, they got me) I started Sunday. I’m taking small significant steps and I’m sore, but focused. I edited the first part of this chapter of my life.

The app gives me assignments for the day. It starts with a chapter to read that is sometimes a positive affirmation and sometimes healthy lessons. Today, it was a quiz. It asked me to rate every part of my body from 1-10 with how I feel about it. Then it challenged me to look at the area of my body that I am the most unhappy with and find something to be thankful for. For example, if I hated my feet the most I would stop and think about what my feet do for me every day and what life would be like without my feet even if they hurt when I walk. It was so altering for me. Even the areas of my body–my life–that I am unhappy with can give joy–purpose–meaning.

It is the same in my every day life. In this year filled with so much pain and disappointment, I can look at the area that causes me the most hurt and find something to praise and be thankful for. It is a small step. But it is a significant one.

Thank you, God, for edits and for being the Great EDITOR.

What about you? Are you editing something in your life? How can I help? I’d love to hear your stories too!

From the wings

Reba


bible, christian, christian blog, family, Fear, Grief, hope, planning, Prayer, theater

The Lord is My Shepherd

I’m really not quite sure where to begin with this story. In this year of never ending painful happenings my mother has now peacefully entered heaven.

Christmas 2020

I tell this story in case it will help those of you who might go through something similar. I honestly cannot believe I was so naive about preparing for death or long term care but I was. In March, I received a call that my mom’s kidney failure had reached a point that if she didn’t agree to do dialysis she would need to go on hospice. They told me that maximum she would have two months to live. I really couldn’t believe it because at Christmas, mom had still seemed so strong, but I trusted the medical diagnosis.

Scott Mayer praying with my mom

I went to S.C. and tried to talk Mom into doing dialysis and even tried to tell her that she could change her mind if she didn’t like it, but she was convinced that this was going to be the way her story ended and that she was ok with it. She continued to do amazingly well making me think that the decision for hospice was rash and that there was still time to do dialysis. Every week hospice would call and report that there was no change in her numbers. Somewhere during that time my mom’s right arm started to jerk uncontrollably. It caused her embarrassment, and a great deal of unrest. She simply could not get peace or rest. The hospice staff told us it was a build up of toxins in her body because her kidneys weren’t flushing everything out.

We visited and talked and she always sounded happy and seemed to do well except for the jerking of the arm.

Then, I got a call from the manager of the independent living facility that mom was living at saying that she really wasn’t doing well and needed more help. I called mom and she sounded the best she had in months and I thought, “Ok. I’ll go visit this weekend. Maybe it isn’t an emergency.” Several hours later the manager called me again and told me that mom had fallen.

I made arrangements to get there as soon as possible, but in the meantime, my daughter, a friend, and actually the manager (who seriously is a hero in this story) went to visit her and face timed with me. Mom looked terrible. They couldn’t decide if she had a stroke or not and told me I had to put her in hospice in the hospital and that she had less than a week to live.

I was frantic and couldn’t decide if that was what was right. Mom never wanted to die in a hospital! What should I do? I called back hours later and they told me that she was doing better–in no immediate risk of dying and when could I come get her…..what???? How does a story change that quickly? I mean, great! She is doing better, but….the emotions running through me were pretty wild.

I realize between what the manager had said to me the day she fell and now what has transpired at the hospital that she will no longer be able to stay by herself. What are the options?

I had always thought that assisted living was the step after independant living. When I had originally looked for places for mom–all the assisted living places had nurses at the end of the hall. So I thought that instead of a nursing home this was the next step.

Well, I was wrong. You have to be able to still do many things for yourself before they will take you. For example, feed yourself, dress yourself, help get yourself to the bathroom etc. In short, if someone had taken the time to explain all of this to me months before, she should have been in assisted living instead of hospice. Seriously, no one would take her. (I guess once they let you in they will care for you, but they won’t take you if you can’t do certain things.)

One day I talked to someone early in the morning who said as long as she could feed herself they would take her. I was very honest with what my mom could do or not do and begged her to please not waste my time so I could move on to someone else if they wouldn’t take her. They told me they would come evaluate her at 10 the next morning. At 3:30 the nurse walked in and I could tell by the look on her face that they would say no. I explained what I had been told and she just shook her head. They didn’t officially call me until 6:30 that night to tell me no. I really unleashed. I was angry that they told me one thing, but it wasn’t true and that I was missing spending valuable time with my mom having to navigate a system that had rules no one tells you about. She mentioned another place that might take mom. She said she had a friend over there. I told her if she wanted to redeem herself in my eyes she would call that friend and find out if I would be wasting my time to visit. She promised she would.

Here were my options they way I saw it.

1) Move my mom to Chicago. I was worried about how she would make the trip. Would it be too hard for her? Then, how would she react to it? The reason she didn’t live here already is that she refused to go that far north. Hiring an ambulance to bring her up here was astronomical.

2. I move down to S.C. to stay with her indefinitely. That was a hard choice, but the one I was leaning towards. I knew I would have to probably shut down Overshadowed and at this point the doctors are telling us it could be months.

3. My aunt said she wanted to take her into her home. I thought about it and might have considered it more, but I just thought I should be the one to take care of her and have that time.

4. Hire full-time care. Thinking about it–but found out that it would be about 16k a month. I wondered if I could arrange people to help me and pay them in shifts to make it more doable.

5. Nursing Home. 9k a month. and I just felt like mom wouldn’t say it, but that she would really resent me doing that. It would have broken my heart.

I really had a melt-down while I was thinking this through. I got so much great advice from many great friends, but it was so difficult. One friend said, “God will show you the next step and you will get clarity.
I wrestled with God all night.

The next morning I asked the representative from the company that had “led me on”if she had contacted her friend and if they thought it was still worth it for me to visit. She replied “Yes, Go ahead.”

When I walked in full of hope I started with the fact that I was sure Brooke had contacted her and told her about my mom. She looked at me quizzically and said, “No?”

At this time I felt like I needed to hit something. The representative from the current company said, “Let’s talk. Tell me everything from the begining. ” Somewhere in my rant she stopped me and asked me why the case worker at the hospital had not listed my mom on the NIV list.

My mouth dropped open in stupidity as I asked what she was talking about. She asked me why my mom wasn’t doing rehab and said that it was standard for people to go through rehab after a hospital visit. Rehab then gets them strong enough so that they can go to the coveted assisted living. She told me medicare would pay for 20 days which would give me time to either pack and go live in S.C. or make arrangements to bring my mom up here. She told me to get my case worker on the phone. At that point she talked my case worker through putting my mom on the list and at the end of the call I had 7 offers of people who would take my mom! Seven. After days of begging people to take mom–now people were asking me to take her. This saint of a women wasn’t done. She gave me the name of a facility that she would send her mom to if necessary and told me to head over there before I did anything else.

After spending time at the rehab center they told me that my next job was to get my mom evaluated by a therapist and according to what that therapist said they would take my mom. They had a case of COVID so they told me to go home and come back to see my mom in ten days.

I went back to the hospital where the therapist got my mom to stand and take a step. Finally, she got to get out of bed. They had been telling her she couldn’t for almost a week at that point! I noticed that her arm was completely at rest. I asked the Doctor about it and he said perhaps a medicine had been causing the twitching. What????? (They had taken her off all her medicines because basically they were just waiting for her to die.)

I honestly felt the clarity that I was doing the right thing. I told my mom that my daughter was going to be there in the next day or so. I told her they were going to move her to rehab the next day and that I would be back the following week.

She looked at me and said, “I love you, sug. (Short for sugar) Be safe.”

The hospital called me in the middle of the night to tell me that she had passed away.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my Shepherd.

I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Am I angry about several things that happened in my mom’s final days? Yes, but I read this passage and see my mom walking with Jesus, her shepherd. He is leading her beside green fields and flowing water. She is not afraid. God had prepared a table for her and she is forever with Him.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and your answer for where my mom was going to live and who was going to take care of her. Give her a big hug from me.

For those of you who might be in my shoes one day. Don’t trust that everyone has your best interests at heart. Find out now what each of these medical branches does in your area and plan how it is going to get paid for. If it isn’t too late I understand that there is a long term health care policy that is available.

In memory of Rachel W. Ruffin. Beloved mom and sister and Grandmother.

I’d love to have you follow and share my blog.

This is just me–talking to you-from the wings….

acting, artistic vision, audience, backstage, broadway, christian theater, directing, entertainment, family, intermission, planning, stage, theater

The Pain and Joy of Closing Weekend

I always get to this point in a show. Do you know the moment? It is when something is almost over–you can see the end in sight–a time you will never experience again–It is  here and I regret that more people haven’t seen this musical. I want to share it. There is pain and joy in the closing of a show.

This year has theater audiences struggling to come back from what they lost during Covid. We decided to do a smaller show for several reasons. We weren’t sure that people would want to sit next to each other. Or maybe we’ve all gotten used to sitting and watching our entertainment inside instead of taking the trouble to go out and actually BE with people.

So…I decided on The Marvelous Wonderettes. It is a jukebox musical. It was an off Broadway success. In fact, so much of a success that there are multiple sequels that are written and performed about these four girls.

These four girls….Missy, Cindy Lou, Suzy and Betty Jean. Entered my world months ago as strangers as did the girls who played them. (Amy Keipert, Jessica Means, Brooke Kassal and Grace Ryan) They worked harder than I think any of them expected as they discovered that this musical was much more than a few great songs strung together. They worked hours daily on their harmonies and choreography and characters and the work paid off. What we have is an amazing show with four brilliantly talented girls who sing difficult harmonies effortlessly.

Here I am at closing weekend wishing that I could convince everyone I know to spend a couple of hours in the theater with this show. Here are a couple of remarks I have received:

What a perfect show to mark the return to live theater. It was so good to laugh and smile and sing along with such fun songs.”

I haven’t had that much fun in years.

This show is better than vitamins. I feel ten years younger.

Honestly, those comments mean the world to me. The reason I am in theater is because I want to bring joy to the world. (well, one of the reasons.) This show did that.

We have one weekend left and if I could convince you to come out and join us for one of the remaining shows, would you? overshadowed.org

Even if you have seen the show before, the beauty of live theater is that it is never the same. Every night has a new audience and a new energy and most importantly a new moment to experience. I see the show night after night and love every second of it.

As we begin this weekend, we are tired, but it is a good tired. We are filled with the joy we have shared with audiences, the satisfaction of a job well-done and the feel- good sensation when you learn and grow from an experience.

We would love to share this joy…this story…this experience with you. We have lots of tickets left for tonight, friday night and two shows on Saturday…and it’s air -conditioned. (It’s a win-win.) Won’t you shake off the Covid hibernation and join us? Let’s get back to the joy of live theater.

Here is a little tease of the show:

Until next time–I’ll be in the wings–

Reba

christian, communication, family, planners, planning, theater

Noticing Life

This is my fifth year with a “Happy Planner.” I stumbled upon this planner community quite by accident when I realized that if I didn’t start being more intentional about what I chose to do every day that Overshadowed was never going to grow to be the theater company I wanted it to be.



My planning journey has morphed over time. Some weeks I’m really good at planning and following through and recording my thoughts. Sad to say, other weeks my pages are blank.

Should you ever be too tired to plan? Or not in the mood ?

No.

Even if you are too tired to decorate the pages that fill your planner you should never be too tired to at least write something. It could be a phrase that summarizes your week…for example. “Major zoom crash on first day back to school.” Or “Baby cutting teeth…so tired.” Or maybe just a Bible verse. Surely we have time for at least that?

For the first year of my Happy Planner life I bought a few sticker books that were motivational. I wrote my day-to-day “chores.” and took great joy in crossing them off when I accomplished them. The next year I subscribed to a kit from “The Planner Society.” I followed some inspirational planners on Instagram and discovered that planning now brought out the creative side in me! Even when I had a hard week I really looked forward to relaxing and “creating” a masterpiece (in my eyes) of what the next week would look like. The next year, I was inspired by my creative middle daughter who also uses a Happy Planner. She takes a tremendous amount of photos and creates a planner that is full of memories. When you hold her planner in your hand you almost feel the experiences and love of life she has poured into her year of planning! Inspired by her, I began to add more and more photos in my planner and started adding to my goals of regularly blogging and recording memories.

Then COVID.

This year it was a struggle to find anything to put in my planner. So I began to record the COVID cases in Illinois and the top 7 states that were a COVID battleground. I don’t know why. I think it was something to watch. I kept thinking that someone will find it interesting one day to watch the totals go up and up.

Then I heard this phrase–The Art of Noticing. I’m sad to say I never realized it was a book. I thought it was a new motivational phrase to get me to stop thinking about the negatives and start noticing all the positives in my life. And it worked. Slowly, I started adding pictures that I received from my kids. I added postcards and letters that I received and I started noticing that I have a lot to be thankful for. Believe me, I always knew that, but REMEMBERING it and WRITING it down and talking about it helped give me something to look forward to.

So this is how it works.

1) Every day of your life tells a story. How exciting is that?? Your story might be the beginning of a new book or a new chapter or maybe even the climax of the plot, but it is always a page turner if you allow it to be. What did you notice about your life today? Let me give you an example. Saturday was our annual gala. Usually we hold it inside at a banquet hall. This year, we held it outside so we could have more people (Because of the restrictions of COVID) As I looked around I saw FAMILIES. Usually, people don’t get to celebrate with their entire family because it isn’t exactly what younger children would enjoy. This year, the young and old enjoyed a night out on the lawn! What could have started as a “this is another thing COVID took” story, ended up with a blessing. Today, I have been a little overwhelmed by how much sadness is on facebook. It is a hard time right now and many of us are feeling the weight of things lost. We are anxious and sad and discouraged. While I was thinking about the heaviness of that, I stopped and just for a moment thought about a new project I had the chance to discuss with someone today. While the project seems a little daunting on my own, I’m excited about sharing the vision with someone else who has great ideas. What a blessing! Somedays you have to look a little harder, but the story is always there.

2) There is beauty in life. Every breath that you take. The fact that you can walk, talk, think, communicate. How long has it been since you sat down and really thought about the miracle of life? Take a moment right now. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and slowly exhale. Now open your eyes. What are you thankful for in life? I’m thankful for a good night’s sleep. Some days I have to get up and go to the bathroom several times during the night. (Thank you old age!) I loved sleeping soundly last night. I have a friend who can no longer get out and run. Whenever I run, I think of her. Thank you, God. Even though I don’t love it–I’m so thankful for it!

3) Beauty and nature. There is so much to say here, but remind me when winter comes to still be thankful for nature. I love the summer so much and have enjoyed the heat, the birds, the hummingbirds, my garden, the sun….I could go on and on.

4) Beauty of Conversations. Have you ever thought about writing down the fact that you got to talk to your best friend or mother or whoever? Write down one moment in the conversation that is meaningful. What a treasure that will be when one day you look back and remember that you both shared an old family story that caused you to remember something remarkable about your mom. I’m a little jealous that we didn’t have facebook when my kids where growing up. My daughter, Becca, regularly writes down conversations she has with her kids. I take a picture of that conversation and paste it in my journal. There are so many things I wanted to never forget when my kids where growing up. I am envious of all the easy ways there are to record things now.

5) Daily Routines. What? You might be thinking that no one would be interested in what you routinely do. Have you ever picked up a diary from a hundred years ago? They used to record the price of items they bought. They recorded where they went and who they saw. Many times they didn’t expound upon it at all. They just wrote it down. I love it. When I read accounts like this I can immediately put myself in their time period and understand what life itself looked like.

May I challenge you to start a planner? It doesn’t have to be big or fancy. It just needs to be something you feel comfortable with. Something that will encourage you to write and dream.

May I also encourage you that there is no right or wrong way to use it? Some people just use a regular notebook and THAT’S OKAY! The secret is to find what you enjoy, what you can handle and what motivates you to keep it up!

There are literally hundreds of options to use as a planner. I have recently added this subscription from #clothandpaper. I might not keep for for years, but I do love the inserts and quotes and PENS!


Next, may I challenge you to slow down and appreciate your life day-by-day? Taking the time to stop and record your thoughts will be a wonderful gift for future generations and perhaps it will make us all less fretful and anxious and remind us exactly how blessed we truly are.

I’d like to leave you with a few verses.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you. declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Proverbs 12:25 “Anxiety weighs down the heart of a man, but a good word cheers it up.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

If you have any questions about planners or journaling or verses to share I’d love to hear from you! If you haven’t taken the time to follow me it would mean so much to me if you would! And one more thing…my instagram is Reba.Hervas, if you’d like to follow me there!

I hope you have blessed week!

Until next time!

audience, broadway, christian, christian blog, entertainment, intermission, planning, ten commandments, theater

The Long Intermission

Since the election the cases of the virus have gone down in Illinois dramatically. The vaccines have begun with many people all ready receiving their second shot.

As artistic director it is my responsibility to plan the season of shows. I am still plagued with doubts. What about the new strains? Is this temporary? Even if everything opens back up will my audience feel comfortable sitting shoulder to shoulder? If not, how long will that take?

In light of that…I’m reposting.

I was in sixth grade when I saw my first stage production. It was a high school production, but that didn’t make it any less remarkable for me. I loved the story, actors, music and dancing. In fact, I loved the whole evening. I think I’m a little unusual in that I seriously enjoy EVERYTHING. I love the energy of the audience as they anticipate the show and seeing their friends or family on stage. I love combing over the playbill and reading the bios and even the advertisements! Then, the orchestra begins to tune their instruments! For most people that isn’t remarkable, but I love listening as they play a note, adjust the string or reed, and play again and again until the whole orchestra can play a note with a unified sound. The curtain goes up and the magic continues. Until intermission….

Intermission:

a short interval between the acts of a play or parts of a public performance, usually a period of approximately 10 or 15 minutes, allowing the performers and audience a rest.

a period during which action temporarily ceases; an interval between periods of action or activity:

Legend has it that in the late Middle Ages early renaissance (in theatrical terms at least think 16th 17th centuries ), theatre began to move from performances outdoors to indoor facilities. Theaters used candles to light the house and the stage. Intermissions began because the candles needed to be changed. While the candles were being changed, vendors would come and sell to the audience members to keep them from leaving the theatre.

Most productions that are longer than 90 minutes will have an intermission (even though the need for changing candles has long gone.) And indeed, it does provide a wonderful time for the audience to stretch their legs, go to the restrooms and browse the gift area or buy concessions. I’m used to the way that process works around this area, but imagine my surprise when I attended New York theaters years ago and they ushered us outdoors and to the restaurant close by to use the restroom because there simply was not time for the whole audience to use the facilities that were located inside that theater! It was a new world!

Does the intermission still have value in today’s world? Here are a few reasons I think it is necessary.

  1. An intermission builds anticipation for what is to come. It gives the audience a chance to stretch, move around, get a drink. And socialize. Which I believe is a very real part of the theater experience.
  2. An intermission allows the actors time to rest or change costumes or grab a much needed drink of water.
  3. An intermission allows the crew time to change the set for the next act.
  4. I try to not have a bottom line that is all about money, but let’s be real…concession sales are a part of a theater’s budget so in that regard, an intermission is very necessary.
  5. In productions that have employed musicians, union rules need to be followed, so that in most cases breaks need to be provided for the orchestra members.

That’s intermission in a world that ceased to exist weeks ago. And we don’t know when or if it will ever return. Thus, we have entered an intermission of sorts. I was listening to a short message from Bob Bixby (friend and Pastor in California. You can reach him at bobbixby.wordpress.com) when this first started and he mentioned that the Lord had given us a Sabbath. I have been fascinated by that thought since then. Did you know that one definition of the word Sabbath is intermission?? An interlude, a pause before we move into our next phase of work.

I didn’t.

What do we know about the Sabbath?

God included it in the Ten Commandments. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a commandment.

God wants us to receive something from this time of rest each week.

  1. It should be a time of resting from our work. It is a day that gives us a chance to renew ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  2. This is a time that we can spend quality time with God, but also have fellowship with your church family and others that we love. If we set this day apart we can create close relationships with others that can be spiritually rewarding as we encourage each other and grow together.
  3. This is a time we can stop and think about the blessings that God has given us. Sad to say that sometimes we get so busy with our day to day lives that the act of thankfulness is a trite thought in our prayers, but with a day set aside to reflect on the mercies of God, we can cultivate a attitude that should carry us through the week.
  4. This is a time set apart to rejoice and worship.

The day. The command. It is a gift.

I’m not going to lie. This time of shelter in place has been difficult for me. The theater being shut down has been painful for me. But could it be that in some ways it is a gift from God? A Sabbath? A pause. A time to reflect and regroup and thank God for His mercies which are new each morning.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Dear God,

I didn’t want to slow down, but I have loved what you have taught me during this time. Help me to be thankful for each day. Help me to learn from this time of intermission. Bring the rest for my soul. Thank you for the blessings that you have brought during this time and the mercy you have shown. Thank you, for understanding my burden. Thank you for the gift of Sabbath.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject! And as always, I’d love it if you would take the time to share this blog!

Until next time!

Reba