At left, sitting on the grass and wearing a blue baseball cap, I’m surrounded by a fellow volunteer and four athletes at The Washington State School for the Blind’s annual track meet. At right, wearing an English riding ensemble, riding crop in hand, with my hair severely pulled back in a high bun, I play Agatha Trunchbull in Matilda. Behind me sit solemn-faced young students wearing knee socks and school uniforms.
Washington State School for the Blind (left), Matilda the Musical (right)

A picture is worth a thousand words

Whether at a track meet or skiing at Mt. Hood, one of my biggest joys is hanging out with students from The Washington State School for the Blind. Another deep joy is acting, and I’m back at Portland Playhouse next week, gearing up for another month of the charming and hilarious show Matilda. The photo on the right is from that show; join us in June.

A photoshoot is worth a thousand questions

Speaking of pictures, I was asked recently if I’d appear on a magazine cover. Gads! The cover of a magazine. I probably shouldn’t disclose more, apart from the fact that the folks featuring me asked: How do you describe what you do? I was stymied. What do I do? I’m an actress, a singer, a deviser of new work, a writer, an arts advocate, a board member, an audio describer, a voice-over actor, a mom, a wife, a pet owner … the list goes on. The phrase jack of all trades, master of none comes to mind, and then I disappear into it. I do a lot of things. Yes. And, when I’m doing the thing I’m doing, I’m full-bodied and committed.

The opportunity got me thinking about how I want to be represented on a magazine cover. You may not know this about me, but glam stuff? I’m all over it. I pore over the Met Gala photos the minute they’re available. And while I don’t have the resources to go total Met, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about how to enjoy this moment as a cover girl and feel beautiful and seen. This is also known as enjoying the opportunity to glam up. Spoiler alert: I’m gonna smash some stuff. I’m not speaking figuratively. Expectations be gone!

This just in: the photo shoot took place, and wow. Just wow. I felt heard and seen and beautiful. The one and only Nik Morrow, aka Nana Tuckit, supported me for my prep. Photographer Rachel Hadiashar gave me creative space and such heart. Collaborating with her was a dream! Botanical artist Amanda at Soul Seeds dove in and brought a mind-bending love and understanding of plants and flowers. Make-up artist Megan Blake so tenderly and beautifully applied my make-up. What a day! I was invited to come into my power as a creative artist, and I am massively grateful for that.

A thousand and one ideas

Speaking of being photographed, at sixty-one years old, I’m dancing, dancing, dancing with what I look like. Sound familiar? I am attempting to grow old gracefully. Oy, even that sentence sounds like total bull. Growing old. Letting my hair show silver, letting my belly relax, accepting wrinkles deepening. What does it all mean? I’m anxious to read Miranda July’s new book, All Fours. They’re holding a copy for me at Broadway Books. Maybe she’ll shed new light on this last third of life, this post-menopausal dream state or goddess state-of-the-art. As I’m sitting here, typing away, I have no fear of just letting my tummy go. I remember a treasured acting teacher asking us to check in with our bellies all day long. She even asked us to go so far as to keep a belly journal and not succumb to our culture’s attachment to women’s flat tummies. That kind of breath-holding separates us from our feelings, she said. Truth. Yes, it does. But boy, it’s hard to look at myself. So, I’m going to give myself a challenge. Go to the photo shoot. Have fun and look at yourself with love. Love every single cell, sixty-one years of life. Know what you love, what you do, how you shine. And take in this gorgeous honor. Keep shining, lady. You’ve got this.

A thousand thank-yous

I got an epic gift this week from my friend Jelani Memory. An autographed copy of A Kid’s Book About Equality by Billie Jean King. Talk about empowerment. What a goddess. I remember watching that epic match between King and Riggs with my mom, who, I think, thought she had to leave her career to have me, and probably did have to. While I know having a family was a true joy for her, in that same container were the atrophied dreams of a brilliant artist.