Heart Full of Fire

flaming-heart

My heart is full today.

Coming off of my daughters’ completion of a brave and whirlwind school year — followed by a beautiful trip east celebrating my nephew’s graduation.

And back home soon after, enjoying the first moments of summer with pajamas, basketball and videos.

Then seeing the horror today in Orlando. The vicious killing. The families forever torn apart.  Somehow hearing the screams of my martyred Armenian ancestors all over again, like I’ve been hearing them lately from Syria and around the world. And knowing in my bones that no matter what is said by this faction or that, God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

But then on the night following this tragic morning, seeing the Tony Awards, and being reminded of the transforming power of storytelling — of theater, like nothing else — to return our minds and hearts to hope, to truth, to love.

And all this … on the eve of a playwriting deadline I must complete. One of the most important ones I’ll ever have. How do I complete the story now, as I had planned before? With all of this new tumult, both good and horrible? Even with the story remaining intact, what changes now in my approach or mindset?

Tonight I realized: it’s exactly the right time to finish this play. Because my heart is more full of fire now than I can remember, and this play is about a character who stands up for what matters most to him, no matter what the consequence. (More on that in a future post). Countless inspirers surround me, here and in the heavens, so I am more humbled, and more grateful now, for the opportunity to tell this story that means the world to me. I’m more convicted than ever that it needs to be told. And that all our stories of courage, faith and persistence must be told, no matter who tells us otherwise. I can only hope I do this particular one justice.

Onward.

 

 

 

“Our Best Hopes…”

Screen shot 2016-03-06 at 9.50.10 PM

“And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.”

This quote from Ronald Reagan’s 1992 Republican Convention speech has struck me powerfully today.

Those who know me know that I rarely quote Reagan or Republicans (though my other favorite quote of the 40th President is “There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.“)

But with the current campaign climate and all its nastiness, a change of tone surfaced when this quote came up during the coverage of the passing of Nancy Reagan today.

The lovely and circumspect quote above clarified to me why this season’s Republican presidential campaign is so distasteful and disgusting to me:

No one is appealing to our “best hopes.” Everyone is appealing to our “worst fears.”

That is precisely why no one is inspiring my “confidence.” The candidates have instead sensationalized and over-generalized various topics, pitted groups of Americans against each other, lashed out at other nations and cultures, demeaned their fellow candidates, magnified people’s doubts, and turned the whole affair into a circus when it could have been an intelligent, compassionate and cogent series of dialogues and debates.

Not that such tactics are anything new. But I’d like to think that one day our country will have a handful of candidates on both sides of the aisle who don’t merely quote their beloved predecessors every 2.3 minutes but actually emulate them — or better yet, surpass them as servant-leaders. Here’s to hoping.

Onward.

 

Blog Tour — ​JESSICA: The Autobiography of an Infant​​​, by Dr. Jeffrey Von Glahn

I am pleased today to host a blog tour stop for Dr. Jeffrey Von Glahn’s fascinating book, JESSICA: The Autobiography of an Infant.

Jessica by Jeffrey Von Glahn

Background:  

​Jessica had always been haunted by the fear that the unthinkable had happened when she had been “made-up.” For as far back as she could remember, she had no sense of a Self. Her mother thought of her as the “perfect infant” because “she never wanted anything and she never needed anything.” As a child, just thinking of saying “I need” or “I want” left her feeling like an empty shell and that her mind was about to spin out of control. Terrified of who––or what––she was, she lived in constant dread over being found guilty of impersonating a human being.

Jeffrey Von Glahn, Ph.D., an experienced therapist with an unshakable belief in the healing powers of the human spirit, and Jessica blaze a trail into this unexplored territory. As if she has, in fact, become an infant again, Jessica remembers in extraordinary detail events from the earliest days of her life––events that threatened to twist her embryonic humanness from its natural course of development. Her recollections are like listening to an infant who could talk describe every psychologically dramatic moment of its life as it was happening.

When Dr. Von Glahn met Jessica, she was 23. Everyone regarded her as a responsible, caring person – except that she never drove and she stayed at her mother’s when her husband worked nights.

For many months, Jessica’s therapy was stuck in an impasse. Dr. Von Glahn had absolutely no idea that she was so terrified over simply talking about herself. In hopes of breakthrough, she boldly asked for four hours of therapy a day, for three days a week, for six weeks. The mystery that was Jessica cracked open in dramatic fashion, and in a way that Dr. Von Glahn could never have imagined. Then she asked for four days a week – and for however long it took. In the following months, her electrifying journey into her mystifying past brought her ever closer to a final confrontation with the events that had threatened to forever strip her of her basic humanness.

1 Jeffrey Von Glahn

BLOG POST:

​In this excerpt, I had been seeing Jessica for over a year. I was still struggling with getting her to be more open about herself.

I knew I had to do something about Jessica’s continuing guardedness about herself. I had a foolish urge to ask Jessica herself about this, but, fortunately, the notion flew out of my mind as fast as it had entered….I finally developed what I thought was a rather creative idea. Little did I know that…I would make an unexpected discovery: for all these months, I had been laboring under a delusion about who was sitting across from me; and, in fact, I had been deluded from the moment Jessica first stepped into my office….

One day, after Jessica finished venting her feelings about whatever had troubled her since the last session, I said I had a question, gave her a warm smile and said, “How do you feel about me trying to get to know you?”

I sprang this question on her without any warning, for a very specific reason. I hoped it would force her to react on the spot, before her defenses had had a chance to get organized. I was tired of listening to bland reports of incidents that had already happened, after her psyche had transformed them into emotionally sterile recollections….

Even though I had never before asked her anything even remotely similar, she replied immediately. It was as if she had been expecting my question from the very start of therapy and had been steeling herself for it ever since.

“You’re just a computer,” she quickly began. She sounded like a professor who was impatiently explaining a fundamental point to an obtuse student. “You’re just a thing I put information into and get a program back. You can’t be human. You can’t have any feelings.” Then her words stopped as abruptly as they had started. She stared blankly at me.

It felt like a million light bulbs went off in my head. I immediately thought, “No wonder I’ve had such a hard time reaching her. In her mind, I’m not a person. I’m just a pile of electrical parts!”

When Jessica looked at me, did she see that I was a human being? Of course she did. Yet, that reality wasn’t enough for her to overcome her fear about relating to me as a human being. Why she wasn’t able to do that was beyond my comprehension. I just couldn’t understand how she could see me as something other than human, after I’d spent months of unrelenting effort trying to reach her.

Her chilling answer was one I might have expected from a robot, not from someone who functioned in society, talked face-to-face to me, and, aside from her inability to stay home alone at night and her fear of driving, behaved like an ordinary person. I had never felt so estranged from another human being in my life.

Jessica by Jeffrey Von Glahn

Twitter Handle:  @JeffreyVonGlahn
Website:  http://jeffreyvonglahn.com

Purchase Link for book:  http://www.amazon.com/Jessica-Autobiography-Jeffrey-Von-Glahn-ebook/dp/B00IUCKOD8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418530951&sr=1-1&keywords=JESSICA+by+jeffrey+von+glahn​

This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.

Thank you, Jeffrey and 4Wills Publishing, for such an insightful and important work.

Onward!

What We Storytellers Do

Screen shot 2014-07-18 at 11.37.05 PM

“George Banks will be honored.

George Banks will be redeemed.

George Banks and all he stands for will be saved —

Maybe not in life, but in imagination.

Because that’s what we storytellers do:

We restore order with imagination.

We instill hope, again and again and again.”

 

In the memorable film, Saving Mr. Banks, the character of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has just shared a series of painful memories to help author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) understand that producing a film version of her novel Mary Poppins (borne of her own painful family memories) would be meaningful not only to him, and to audiences everywhere — but also to her.

Walt Disney concludes his moving monologue with the lines above. I had to replay it several times when I first saw it. It is a remarkable moment in the film and a moment that likely resonates with anyone, but particularly with those of us who consider ourselves writers or artists.

Continue reading

That Thing We Do

 

When I think of pure joy for our work, our art — the joy we feel when we create something good and it finds acceptance with an audience — I think of one of my favorite film scenes of the last 20 years.

 

In the 20th Century Fox film, That Thing You Do! (1996), a group of teenagers in 1964 Erie, Pennsylvania form a band, work hard to make a record and get the chance to go on tour, tasting a bit of success before conflicting dreams and personalities take them in different directions. School, jobs, military service, marriage, ego and all sorts of other things will divide them soon enough. But there’s one thing, during this one summer, that they all have in common: their music, their ‘thing.’ And as I’ve said before on this blog, we all have to have something that is ‘our thing,’ something that we love to do.

 

In this scene, the group discovers that the song they recorded (titled same as the movie) is on the radio for the first time.

 

 

 

I’d like to think that only an artist — writer, musician/composer, singer, painter, actor — can fully understand the sheer exuberance of this scene. Working and waiting and hoping for a chance. Having certain family or friends who just don’t get it. Having to work the day job while holding onto a dream. Finally getting accepted, getting noticed, getting an audience. (“I am Spartacus!” Victorious!) Despite the imperfect and blurry YouTube clip, the joy is palpable in this simple and sweet film, and I love how this scene captures it more beautifully than so many other films with the same plot (well-written and directed, Tom Hanks!)

 

Ultimately, though, the joy of this scene is not just for artists — anyone with a dream or passion deferred can relate to it.  We all desire such joy in what we do, in living out our God-given gifts.  So:

 

What would make you run down Main Street screaming with happiness?

 

What would you be willing to burst into a department store and announce to the world?

 

What victory would make you feel THAT much joy?

 

Whatever it is, do it. Create it, be an advocate for it, whatever ‘it’ is.  Even if you have to keep the day job forever, get your passion incorporated into the schedule and fabric of your life somehow, even if just in small bits at first.  If you haven’t started yet, start. If you’ve been at it for years and it’s just not getting anywhere, retool and try again. Just don’t stop that thing you do, that only you can do, that you were put on this earth to do.

 

Onward!

 

(Disclaimer: I do not own this film; Posted from YouTube Video Account 1, 2, 3, 4, I declare a dance war… )