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I’ve been thinking about these subjects a lot lately.  A whole lot.  As I embark on Cameron’s third text, “Finding Water” in the trilogy of creative recovery, I’m left with my thoughts and her assignments.  My pen and my keyboard once again leer at me.

“The Artist’s Way” was recommended to me in the mid-nineties by an actor.  I’ve since completed that text, writing assignments and all- eight times.  A few times I guided artists circles through them.  Sometimes I did it with one other person sometimes groups of 10 or 15.  These texts work for me.  And, “Vein of Gold” was perhaps the most difficult writing challenge I’ve ever endeavored to accomplish.  It meant going back over my life 5 years at a time in chapters.  It was really a kind of excavation.  It uprooted everything and shifted the floor of my existence.  I say that because the sky rarely changed, and when it did it was kaliedoscopically miraculous and beautiful.  Poverty was scattered on the floor but wealth was sprinkled across the horizon in a seeming neverending milkyway of abundance.  So for me, the question of the day is always about where I set my sights.  Wealth or poverty? High or low?  Up or down?

Isn’t it interesting how life is a spiral?  Things come round and round and our best power is to go up the spiral and not fall down inside of it’s Persephonic abyss.

The past can haunt us.

When I was growing up I spent summers in a wealthy part of Jersey.  My grandmother lived next to the Pfeiffer’s, of the bakery.  And, they lived in a mansion.  I played there.  Then, I went home to my townhouse, or apartment, or modest two level child of divorce life in the burbs of Prince Georges County, Maryland.  I watched my Grandmother attempt to climb the social ladder.  Marry the mayor.  Feel important.  Cocktails at 6.  I watched a lot.  I saw my paternal family sell land and squander money on sportscars and self-importance.  I can’t really explain what these adult child behaviors look like inside of a person.  Especially through the eyes of an actual child.  I can only say there’s a corrosion there.  Something happens and this birthright of joyful bliss turns into a dark kind of black hole.  And, not only can it squelch the spirit of the body it inhabits but it has a kind of forcefield.  It becomes it’s own chaotic soup of insanity.  Or, in the descriptive of Cameron:

“Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive and powerfully persuasive. And for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive.

“Crazymakers create dramas–but seldom where they belong. Crazymakers are often blocked creatives themselves. Afraid to effectively tap their own creativity, they loath to allow that same creativity in others. It makes them jealous. It makes them threatened. It makes them threatened at your expense.”

I find myself staring at the floor too much lately.  There is a sense of devastation that can seem overwhelming.  I think it has to do with all of the crisis in the world.  With individuals choosing not to grow.  A general air of depletion and desperation.

Besides.  Things are tight.  People are relying on me.  I’m scraping my Company by.  And, these people that make up my Company are moving everything.  They are creating.  They are trusting.  I want to give them the world!  So, my eyes lift up.  They are bringing works to light that have never  been given a chance before.  So, I -once again- pull my eyes heavenward no matter the surface under my feet.  Maybe too much Casey Cassum as a kid?

And now, each time I look down there’ s a bit of stardust sprinkled among the clay.  Today, for instance-I reached into the mailbox to find a small envelope with a small card inside.  It also contained a check for $50.  It said, “Life is pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.” -Sir Thomas Browne.  Then on the inside it read, “Deb, Go set the world on fire.”

Or yesterday.  Two envelopes.  One anonymous for $24.  And another for $75.  It came with a hand written note from a woman I have not seen or spoken to in more than three years.  She wrote:  “Dear Deb:  I got your email about Venus’s financial difficulties.  I’m so sorry to hear that.  The economy has been rough all around.  I can’t help with raising money because of my job, but I hope this will help a little bit.  Hang in there!”

Or two days before that.  I ran into someone who used to bring her daughter to my BabyPlay classes and she pulled out her checkbook and wrote a $100 donation on the spot.

I never wanted to become needy.  But, that’s not what this is.  I begin to understand that the value of the work at Venus deserves so much support, respect, and acknowledgement.  It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the cutting edge plays that are mounted and the groups of people that make them appear.

What I’m talking about here is job creation in a suffering economy.  I’m talking about telling stories that deserve their day in the sun and fortifying a community while doing that.

Yesterday, I met with a photographer because the Laurel Leader is doing a story on our cushion fundraiser.  The story will be out tomorrow.  And, Marilyn Johnson has begun the prototype and had the first cushion ready for yesterday’s shoot, even though the idea is barely a week old.  This is what I’m saying.  After having been surrounded by crazymakers I think I’ve FINALLY learned, the more we stop doing their dance the more we become surrounded with a true sense of creative family.

In a 36 hour period, I had five lawyers helping to draft one document.  Two playwrights standing for Venus actively.  An old friend who is very commercially successful in TV, film, and Broadway connecting me with a Broadway producer.

Maybe, wealth isn’t always about the huge funding check.  I begin to understand that helplessness is an illusion kept alive by unkind people.  Who we are and what we have to give is ENOUGH.  It’s enough to launch new works.  It’s enough to give us a room of our own.

It’s enough to accomplish dreams.

Maybe, one day, each of us who has been beaten down by the crazymaker will look up instead of casting our eyes down.  Maybe, one day, we will decide that they don’t matter.  And, that their pain is not more important than our joy.  Their need to control in no way begins to come close to the respective callings and the talents bestowed upon each of us to land on a fulfilling life.

I can’t control a world that has a hard time appreciating the arts.  And, I can’t control women or men who have decided to hate themselves and take that rage out on any and everyone in their path.  What I can control is me.  My leadership style.  My vision.  The Company my Company keeps.  And, in that, I am the wealthiest woman alive.

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