Clown noses and Janet Jackson

41K9nHkNwKL._SY300_Of course you’ve all heard about the notorious wardrobe malfunction experienced by Janet Jackson and J.T. in front of millions of fans… if not, you can Google it or search it up on YouTube.  Well kids, here’s the story of a lesser known malfunction of the performance kind, maybe not as titillating (I make no apologies for that pun), but perhaps as entertaining.

Back in the day, there was a little character on t.v. called “Loonette the Clown” who lived on a big comfy couch, somewhere near Clown Town.  This clown was supposedly of the kindergarten-ish age, but looked a lot like my highschool acquaintance, who at the time was in her early twenties.  Loonette’s thing, was a daily adventure in and around her couch, with the occasional trip to her Granny Garbanzo’s house to visit with a nomadic Aunty and receive mail from the unicycle riding postman, Major Bedhead.  Loonette had a dolly named Molly (of course) who accompanied her everywhere, unless she was pissed at her for leaving her in between the couch cushions.  

Loonette became one of my longest running birthday party characters, and if you were paying attention, I mentioned her costume in one of my other posts about the problems of changing costumes in a car on a hot humid Ontario day.  I actually enjoyed donning most of the costume, as it was loose fitting and involved comfortable footwear, but there was one aspect of the get-up that was a bit of a problematic, again, especially in hot weather.

Have you ever wondered how clowns get their noses to stay on?  I know many of you or your children have attempted to pull them off (ha ha – but hands off my face please!), so you obviously don’t appreciate how difficult it is to have them stay on. Perhaps after reading this you will.  

First, you take the nose, (which incidentally costs more than you’d think – between 30 and 50 dollars per), and turn it around so you’re staring at the inside – the foamy part with the very round nostrils at the bottom.  Then, you take your spirit gum, and paint the inside of the nose with it.  Next, you stick it quickly on your nose and then pull it off, leaving a coating of white spirit gum on your nose.  Wait a bit, and then re-stick the clown nose on to your nose, carefully positioning it so that the nose holes line up and that the outside of your nostrils (the outside part that you can flare) are tucked as much into the sides of the nose as possible.  And voila!  You are a clown.

This is where I think the manufacturers of said noses made a grand omission.  They made no mention of nose malfunction on any of their packaging.  Oh no! I had to find out the hard way, and almost traumatize small children in the process.

Yes, as mentioned, it was one of those extremely hot, humid Ontario days that I’m so fond of, and there I was, Miss Loonette the Clown in my pink sweatshirt, orange overalls, striped black and white tights, and black wig with purple hat, made out of thick felting material.  Not exactly plus 30 degree celsius attire!  This time, I had gas in my tank and was able to get ready in the comfort of my air-conditioned car, so I was lulled into a false sense of well-being and preparedness, until I opened the car door.  i made a mad dash for the shaded porch, and rang the bell.

A blast of cool air greeted me along with the client, who ushered me straight through the house and….straight out again through the back door.  The heat hit me again as I tried to be cheerful and child-like throughout my opening routine.  I was able to find a patch of shade, but shade in July doesn’t do much to bring down the body temperature, only save your skin (of which I was showing very little) from the burning UV rays.  As I sang and danced I began to notice more and more perspiration, especially on my forehead.  Thank goodness for eyebrows, is all I have to say, or else my white eye make up would’ve been halfway down my chin in seconds.  Unfortunately, the big problem I could feel, was my nose.  The liquid on my face began to creep under the edges of my very Loonette-ish red nose, causing the nose to start to slip dangerously around, and create a seepage of white liquid on to my upper lip.

Now, the biggest rule of doing these characters is that you don’t break character!  Imagine the nightmares little children would have if Barney took off his head because he was sweating buckets (and I can tell you – mascot costumes are the worst for heat!  I think I lost 15 lbs one summer performing as LaLa the Teletubby!  Next time you greet some kid in a mascot costume, usher him into the shade for goodness sake!)  Have you ever seen a half-dressed clown? Weird.  

So, there I was, as one of the most popular children’s characters of the time, and my nose was on the verge of sliding off my face.  The horror!  Once I had assessed the situation, I decided to use as much discretion as possible.  I’d casually turn away from the circle of little ones and quickly wipe a drip, I’d laugh and sniff, laugh and sniff (by the way, that had nasty implications later, but I don’t need to go into THAT much detail, do I?), and every so often, I’d do a little hand wave in all directions, especially towards myself.  Despite my efforts, the perspiration kept flowing in waves down my face, leading up to the ultimate in nasty clown experiences.  As I bent over to hand out my personalized Loonette the Clown colouring sheets, a stream of white, gooey liquid shot out of my fake nostrils and on to the grass below.  It was one of those moments when time seemed to stand still.  I know I froze (how ironic a word to use when I was actually on the cusp of suffering from heat stroke), and then felt an additional wave of heat, this time from the flush of embarrassment, wash over my already dripping face.  There was nothing a clown could do, but raise her freckles to the sky, sniff, and pretend NOTHING had happened.  The show must go on, musn’t it?

Needless to say, I couldn’t look the client or her adult party guests in the eye as I waved my goodbyes.  If I had looked at their faces I would’ve known which ones had most likely witnessed the spirit gum ejaculation that day, and I was content not to know at that point.  Ignorance was definitely bliss in this circumstance.

 And so Janet, I join you in sisterly solidarity.  Whether it be a boob, a pair of panties (a la Kate Middleton), or spirit gum snot shooting out of a clown nose, we all survived it with (a fair bit of) grace and composure.  For, as Janet says, it’s all about “control”.

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Cotton candy daze.

70018-candy-jarsMy mother deprived me when I was young – I came to that realization some time in my 20’s, during one of those intense conversations with your group of friends in a tiny university dorm room late at night. Oh my god! That was why I was so obsessed with sugar and candy as a young adult. The moment I started to have disposable income, I was free to buy whatever sweet indulgences I wanted. It was liberating to peruse the chocolate bar display shelves, make a discovery of a new flavour of Skittles, and grab a box (or two) of my all-time favourite Junior Mints as I boarded the bus home from whatever part-time job I had at the time. I could eat what I wanted, and what I wanted was sugar.

During my childhood, my breakfast choices were limited to Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies (they didn’t have the flavoured kind back then), or Shredded Wheat, with just a tiny spoonful of white sugar sprinkled over the bowl. School lunches were a daily disappointment, resulting in an un-healthy coveting of my fellow classmate’s array of Twinkies, Joe Louis’, Wagon Wheels and Fruit Roll-Ups.  I gnawed on carrot sticks and celery filled with peanut butter (yes, we were allowed that back then too), while they stained their lips and tongues with the sweetest tasting red and blue dyed “fruit” leather ever!

My grandmother took pity on me though.  She let me dip into the candy jars she kept on her coffee table, and provided me with a late-night snack of Shreddies covered in a thick layer of brown sugar that melted in between the little waffle pattern of each piece.  (I still love sucking the brown sugar milk out of the soggy Shreddies before bed once in a while).

Herein lies the problem.  Today I am a 41 year old who still loves to douse her Shreddies in brown sugar.  I still buy boxes of Junior Mints, chocolate bars of various kinds, new flavours of Skittles, Wagon Wheels (I swear they shrunk them!), jelly beans, English clotted cream fudge, Mocha coconut Frappaccinos from Starbucks, maple dip donuts from Tim Hortons, and fruity Mentos.  I could go on.  And on.

I don’t really want to blame my mother for this (what I now consider to be an) addiction, since I am now a mother and understand that she was just trying to be a responsible parent, giving her child the healthiest start she could get in life.  But amazingly, whenever the topic of sugar consumption comes up in idle chit chat, there is at least one other person in the group who admits sheepishly that they have a sweet tooth and that they can trace it back to childhood deprivation.

I guess you’re wondering how this relates to being a Clown, so here it is.  If you’ve read back in my blogs, you’ll have read about the various parties with the wide range of entertainment the hosts provide for their guests.  One thing I haven’t spoken much about though, is the food, save for the crepe station at the Forest Hill soiree.  Much to my delight, and dismay, a fair number of these parties have taunted me with tables laden with candy displays worthy of Willy Wonka.  It is a wonder I was able to keep from salivating through my intro at one party, as my eyes kept straying to the table in the corner filled with corner shop glass bell jars full of jelly beans, sour keys, pink candy corn, gum balls, green gummy frogs, Tootsie pops, Swedish berries, black balls, and Lindt chocolates.  I actually envied the children swarming around the perimeter, holding brown paper bags open so the adults could scoop handfuls into them.  For the rest of the show I had a debate going on in the back of my head, trying to decide whether the client would offer me a chance to take part in the sugar frenzy as part of my tip (hopefully), or whether they would assume- as they should- that I was an adult and therefore had little interest in gorging myself with tooth-decaying crystalized gelatin and shellac (…sigh…).  Unfortunately, most of the time, I did end up closing the door behind me, empty handed.

So dear readers, my recent decision to try to cut added sugar from my diet has brought me to these reflections, and hopefully to some sort of peace eventually with my battle against sweet cravings.  To this point, an expanding waistline and numerous cavities have not convinced me enough, so I’ve bought two books from Chapters to help give me a little push in the right direction.  At the moment, I am also reading Katherine Boo’s novel called “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” about Annawadi, an undercity of Mumbai – an eye-opening account of the lives of people living on the edges of poverty in the shadow of the luxury airport hotels there, which, after only a few chapters, has already made me feel quite ill about the over-consumption and waste we are so “fortunate” to have in this “civilized” part of the world.  Surely all of these things will help break my first-world problem of sugar addiction?  I guess we’ll see the next time I am offered Birthday cake, won’t we?

Mindful Moments

amsterdam painting

This is a moment.  You reading this is a moment in your life, and if you choose not to, nothing will happen.  You are allowed to choose which moments you take for the most part, so go ahead… choose now.

If you are still reading, I’ll thank you.  I hope it’ll be worth your time.

Tonight what I’m going to talk about is not clowns or the world of entertainers.  So if you were looking for that, I apologize.  Tonight I’ve decided to write about something bigger.  It is nothing new, and in fact many of you may find this boring, as writers have written furiously for eons about this topic, but when writers feel inspired, there seems to be no stopping us, no matter how repetitive we may be.

The topic is moments.  Moments which give birth to other moments.  Moments that are meaningful and meaningless.

A great writer gave voice to a young boy not long ago… a boy who burst into a room and shouted,

“You are going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!”

These great and terrible moments were summed up for me in the aforementioned author’s book, which essentially is a moment out of a great number of people’s lives (at the moment).  What the author has done, and consequently the makers of a little film based on his book have now done, is made people stand back from their busy lives, and think about the moments they have.

Some people have many, many moments, and in fact, so many that they don’t give those moments any value.  They swim through them at blinding speed, and get annoyed by them, curse them and furiously look for those moments of what they deem to be of a higher value in the future.  They strive for more and more, casting aside the moments that they were already given like torn gift wrap.

It is only when we are told that those moments are finite, that we are forced to slow down and desperately start to tally the number of moments that we have until the end.  Unfortunately, it often takes a terrible moment to force our hand.  What I find beautiful though, is that despite how terrible it may be, there are still great moments that rise out of the terrible.  There is beauty in grief, there is the reminder that what we have is beautiful and precious, and sad and joyous all at once.  Out of loss comes love, and a strengthening of the love that was there before, but may have been lost in the frantic race for more moments.  When we are forced to slow down and think of each moment as precious, we are reminded of what is important in the world.  What is truly valuable.

Beauty inspires beauty. Tonight I watched the movie that reminded the world of how finite and infinite the universe can be.  That movie made me want to give something beautiful back to the world.  It reminded me to think of the moment I was in.  As I drove away from the theatre I turned on a beautiful song, opened the sunroof of my car, and stuck my hand up into the air.  I felt the cool air rushing between my fingers, felt the weight of it push against my palm.  I noticed how the pavement stretched out in front of me, how the long grasses by the curb bent away from the other cars as they passed.  By just noticing these things, I felt more alive and more appreciative of the universe than I had in a while.  Such simple things that would normally escape my noticing.

More and more there is talk of “mindful moments”.  At first I thought this concept to be just another fleeting catch-phrase for a fad, but now I think I understand.  In a world full of noise and images and immediate gratification, it is becoming more and more important to be mindful of the moments we have.  What does it taste like when you bite into an orange?  How does the grass feel when you lie down on it?  What does it sound like when the wind blows through a tree’s branches?  What does a mint leaf smell like when you rub it between your fingers?  More and more the old adage, “Stop and smell the roses” is becoming necessary to our humanity.  If we don’t stop soon, we will miss it.  It will be gone, and we will too.

 

* thank you to John Green for the reminders.

 

 

Mama Clown

ImageHappy belated Mother’s Day to my North American readers (which is most of you!).  I was actually hoping to get this post written BEFORE Mother’s Day, but of course, being a mother comes before being a blogger, so I had to let it go (don’t start singing, please!). Over the weekend I did in fact have some time to reflect on the ins and outs of being a mom as well as a clown, or, a clown mom, or a mom clown…  Whichever way you put it, it’s pretty weird isn’t it?  Have you ever thought about that?  Think about acrobats and fire-eaters and super heavy weight-lifters… do you ever picture them pushing their babies in strollers?  Not really.  Well, here’s a snapshot of my years as a mommy clown.  Wait, that sounds like my children are also little clowns, but that’s just not true – cute to imagine, but no, rest assured, they’re just regular kids.

New motherhood for me came with a whole other set of challenges.  Most women head out to buy belly bands and maternity pants, but they don’t make Cinderella costumes with expandable waist lines.  Disney might have an issue with that.  Much to my partner/agent husband’s chagrin, I started to out-grow some of my costumes.  He could no longer book me for characters like Sailor Moon, Cinderella and Felicity Shagwell. Those outfits had to be tearfully hung up in the closet. Luckily, my clown costume is wide and ruffly, and my Loonette costume hangs stifly out from my body, so both allowed for quite the extensive growth of waistline.  Needless to say, they were also beneficial post-babies.  As the months stretched on, I continued to perform, dance and face-paint.  Nausea was fun (-not), resulting in the need to stash plain Premium Plus crackers in my show bag, but at least my makeup hid the greenish palor of my skin.  After six months, I started to have difficulty leaning forward in the chair to paint stars and rainbows on little girls’ cheeks, and getting up and down off of the floor started to get awkward, not only during clown-dom, but during every day activities too.  I had to call it quits until baby arrived.

Once baby did arrive, the scheduling of shows and feedings became an all-out military exercise, with all regiments at the ready.  Co-ordinates and travel times had to be synchronized with feeding times.  I could only travel a certain distance and perform a certain amount of time, lest the baby go too long without me, or, me go too long without the baby, as all of you nursing mothers will understand. Somewhere I have a photo of me holding my first-born in the front seat of our car, taken after my mother-in-law had driven him out to meet me in a parking lot for one of these in-transit feeds.  Nursing-stops were as necessary as fuelling up the car in between shows.  Luckily, to this day my children (so far) have never mentioned any weird flashbacks of vinyl car seats and extreme close-up polka dot patterns.  Thanks to the support of my family members, we got through those years.

During toddler-hood and into the first school years, the kids didn’t seem to find anything strange about my sudden appearances in the family room dressed as someone else.  Air kisses were to be expected as I said goodbye on my way to gigs each weekend, since I had already applied my bright red lipstck.  My daughter only asked a couple of times whether I was the real Cinderella or not, before she asked to try on my long white gloves and “glass slippers”.  The strangeness did arrive though, probably when my son was around seven years old.  I started to get funny looks instead of blase indifference.  His mouth would twist to one side, and he’d quickly revert his eyes back to the television.  One day I asked him what he had told his class I did for a living when they had been discussing careers at school.  He had told them I was a teacher.

I still have faith that one day my kids will relish the thought of their mother as an entertainer.  I mean, it’s not every day you can boast that your mom can do intricate face painting (you never know, he may want to be in a KISS air band competition one day…), or that she can make motorcycles out of balloons (okay, I haven’t mastered that one yet, but I could work on it…).  True, it pales in comparison to saying that your mom’s an astronaut or a neuro-biologist, but they’d be hard-pressed to find any other kids whose parents have such a unique job.  One day they may even write about it.  Who knows?

The Joe Job

   Cold.  So cold.  And lonely, so lonely.  Just the sound of car tires crescendo-ing, then decrescendo-ing, the occasional booming of stereo bass emanating from tinted windows…the wind threatening to blow you off your feet….your hands curling permanently into claw shapes from the cold and stagnant position….the heavy black clouds on the horizon, stealthily edging closer and closer across the endless sky. “What’s that?” you ask from the cushy position you hold inside your family-friendly SUV.  The seat warmer is warming your backside, and you’ve taken off your shoes in preparation for the long drive.  You’re on your way to your grandmother’s house for dinner, when you spot the strange monolith by the side of the road.  There’s a lone figure up ahead, standing on the strip of burnt grass between the sidewalk and long stretch of dirty asphalt.  At first it is just a stick with a square in the middle, but the figure fills out as you draw nearer.  Your squint starts to relax as a human form takes shape.  It seems to be draped in fabric of many different colours, which are being blown sideways by the strong north winds.  Where its torso should be is a large, plastic sign, which, as you reach a distance of twenty feet, contains block letters aligned centrally which reads,

SALE TODAY!

BILL’S FURNITURE PALACE

You turn to your driver, and are about to say something witty about the pathetic creature standing by the side of the road, but then you think twice, realizing that it’s really not worth your time and energy to make a comment on the obviously futile business of employing human beings to do the job of a post.

Ah, and here you (dear readers) thought entertainment was all glitz and glam.  Welcome to the “fun” side of this job.

Frankly, if it wasn’t for the money… would I do it?  NO.  That’s why people hire me.  No one else in their right mind would do that job voluntarily.  For some reason, new home builders and banks still seem to think that a clown holding a sign will attract new customers.

But wait…aren’t there hundreds of you out there, just driving around aimlessly, with nothing better to do on a Saturday,thinking, hmm, maybe I’ll open a new bank account?  Aren’t you automatically intrigued by vast, newly paved Big Box store parking lots dotted with helium-filled balloons?  Don’t you postpone your trip to buy the latest iPhone to pull into a gravel driveway lined with trailers slathered with pictures of happy caucasian couples and children swinging on rope swings (when’s the last time your child actually sat on a rope swing?) just to see what the kid dressed in the gorilla suit holding the sign was promoting?  Of course you do!  Okay, well maybe some of you do, but I can vouch for the numbers of people I’ve seen at these events, and they are few and far between.

So what’s going on inside our heads when we’re “performing” at these celebrations of raging consumerism?  Here’s a little sample…

1.  “What was I thinking?”

2.  “Is this what my life has come to?”

3.  “I have a university degree!”

and, 4.  “When can I go home and drown my sorrows in Bailey’s?”

So, with that in mind, the next time you see a clown, or a gorilla, or a guy in a tuque with headphones wearing a sandwich board advertising mattresses, give them a little of your time.  Stop in and say hi.  Break the monotony.  Bring the kids, the in-laws, I DON’T CARE!  Just make the endless hours go faster by acknowledging our existence.  You never know, I might even make you a balloon animal to go with your new condo.

– Sunny the Clown

Confessions of a joke-less clown

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Hello few and devoted friends!

I apologize for the delay but being a Christian married to a Jew causes quite a few issues when it comes to scheduling this time of year.  Most of the time I’m eating or cooking – or exercising with the vain hope that it will make up for all of the extra calories consumed.

So, here I am, back to it.  Better late than never right?  Okay, well, what to talk about, what to say?

Hmm, I realize that so far at least half of my posts have been about performing as something other than a clown, so I suppose I should return to the reason some of you decided to sign on to my posts – clowning.

One of the most commonly asked questions I hear when performing as a clown is, “Did you go to clown school to learn how to do this?”.  This is a completely valid question, given that I’ve been hired under the guise that I am a PROFESSIONAL, which usually implies that I have trained or been schooled for such a profession.  But, in this case, the answer is no.  Not that I would ever say that to the client, as I don’t want them worrying that they’ve hired any old raggedy clown off the street to be in close quarters with their children, but I do have to come up with some kind of credential when answering said question.

Usually the answer I give to the children who ask is a definite, “Yes, I went to clown school, not far from here!”, which usually satisfies their curiosity (at least temporarily).  To the adults, I answer with a little more reassurance, a verbal resume if you will, including my time spent at a high school for the performing arts, and years of being trained by other performers, which is mostly true.  Throwing in the fact that I am also an elementary school teacher doesn’t hurt either.  That link to a “reputable” profession always helps to calm any fears.

I know that a lot of clowns have been to a proper clown school, and have been trained in the different strands of “clowning” – juggling, balloon-making, face-painting, pocket magic, singing, dancing, joke-telling, and general frivolity. As you know, I kind of just fell into this job.  Does that make me a phony clown?  Does that make me any less of a “clown” than a clown school graduate?  I’d have to disagree.  Even doctors who have been through years of medical school can suck as doctors.

Clowning is one of those things that either comes naturally, or doesn’t, although there’s always been one area of clowning that I’ve always felt I would’ve failed, had I been to Clown School.  Jokes.  I can’t tell a joke to save my life.

In order to help me address this issue, I just Googled “telling jokes” and an article from WikiHow popped up called “How to Be Funny Without Telling Jokes”.  Perfect!  Okay, so you’re probably wondering how it’s possible to be a clown without knowing any jokes, so I’m going to try to reconcile my shortcomings with the steps WikiHow suggests…

1. Set the scene for laughter (okay, this is easy considering I’m dressing in a multi-coloured, polka dot striped outfit.)

2. Facial expression (Well, half the work’s done for me with the face-paint.  The hardest part these days is figuring out how to smile without too many under-eye wrinkles showing.)

3. Poke fun at yourself (Don’t have to do much for this one… I have size 10 feet without exaggerated clown shoes.)

4. Get some laughs with a prop (I can be very creative with a long balloon – just saying..)

5. Fake stories (Easy to do with the imaginations of five year olds.)

6. and finally.. Don’t laugh at your own jokes (An easy one to avoid when you don’t know any.)

Helpful yes, but in my experience, I usually I find turning the joke around is the best strategy.  When a kid asks, “Can you tell me a joke?” I ask him if he knows any, which often results in quite a few of the party guests asking me to answer numerous Knock Knock and Black, White and Red jokes.  Brilliant!  By the time they’re done, ta da!  It’s time to move on.  Clown off the hook!  See how clever I am?

So, to end this post, here is a quote that I feel gives validity to my shortcoming.

“One of the greatest gifts in this world is the ability to make others smile.” – “The Unauthorized Autobiography of Jonathan Fisher” 
― J.E.B. Spredemann

So, if I can do this, then I guess I’m the most professional clown around.

 

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Baby

We often ask the question, “Who am I?” of ourselves many times throughout our lives, although usually when we’re young we are asked the less philosophical, “Who do you want to be?”.  I find this a strange question to ask a little person, since they haven’t had much exposure to the options by the age of three.  They are given choices, generally based on popular career genres, such as fire-fighter, doctor, veterinarian, teacher, athlete, astronaut… to which the child will usually respond by doing things like pausing, glancing up to the ceiling, and then very proudly pronouncing that what they would really like to be is a princess or pirate.

As we emerge from toddler-hood, our parents and families start to daydream about our life paths, and funnel us into activities that they feel will nurture and build our skills and experiences, with the hope that they will lead us one day to a career related to these activities.  Parents spend most of their children’s young years freezing to death in hockey arenas at the crack of dawn, sitting around in waiting rooms for hours playing on their phones while their daughters practice cartwheels and pirouettes, and some parents even wait indoors on glorious summer afternoons while their child is taught advanced mathematics, all to better prepare them for the life of an NHL player, So You Think You Can Dance finalist or the next Sheldon Cooper-like genius who makes more than 100K a year.

My parents put me into a few outside school activities – gymnastics, ballet, baseball – but nothing was as serious as some of the kids’ programs they have today.  Things were different “back then”.  We were the generation that played outside until the lights came on, we were the kids who knocked on our friends’ doors without having to have our parents arrange a “play date”.  We spent a lot more time outside.  But I digress.  The point is, we tried different things and didn’t really think about the future.  We weren’t pushed to become the next virtuoso by the age of nine.  That’s not to say I didn’t have dreams though… I came from a musical and artistic family, so it was natural that I would follow some sort of creative path.  My parents would play “A Chorus Line” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” records in our living room, so of course I had visions of becoming a Broadway singer.  I also had grand aspirations after watching “Fame” (the t.v. show) religiously from start to finish every week.  I drew, wrote poetry and stories, sang in choirs, tried out for school musicals, and tried to dance like they did in Fame (hey, I had legwarmers after all…).  In some ways I did follow the path towards “stardom” but eventually came to realize I wasn’t quite “star” material.

It was when I left Arts school and headed to university, that I started to panic.  All of the exposure to arts and literature and philosophy in university was wonderful, but a career?!  Hmm.  Well, many people in my family, including both parents, were teachers.  They were great teachers, but if they hadn’t had to teach, they would’ve been a musician, composer, singer and fabric artist.  Consequently, they were (and still are) these things, but they never had enough time to be those things fully.  Teaching brought in a salary – playing piano and singing and sewing beautiful works of art out of fabric – did not, at least not enough to raise a family on.  Years later, after leaving university, I discovered myself in the same boat.  I wanted to sing, and paint, and write, but no…  I had to do something to make myself money.  I had to choose a “career”.  In the interim, I became a children’s entertainer, but then, like my parents, and my brother, I became a teacher.

While entertaining started out as a somewhat fun way to make money, it also became an outlet for some of my creativity.  I was able to lose myself in the character I was dressed up as, I was acting! -something I could never do when I wasn’t in costume or facepaint! I was able to lose myself, shed my shyness, swallow my embarrassment.  I could sing loudly as a clown, I could sing sweetly as a princess, I could paint beautiful pictures on children’s faces, I could dance around like a fool-  I was doing something I enjoyed and getting paid for it.  It was in this way I came to learn about myself, through becoming different “people”.  It was a freedom I didn’t expect.

Many other things have lead me to an understanding of who I am and what I want to be.  Don’t get me wrong, if you asked me today what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d still be unable to give you a straight answer.  What I know now though, is that I’ve adopted a certain pride in not defining myself in one way.  Though it may be confusing to explain it to strangers, I am happy to list out all of the different facets of “who I am” and “what I am”.  Perhaps it’s because I’m currently reading Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series that’s brought me to this topic this week, but it’s also something I think about and “mull over” frequently in my life.  There is strength in diversity, and whether I’m wearing my clown hat, my artist’s beret, my teacher hat, my mom hat or whichever one I need at the time, I am content with who and what I am right now.

 

Check out two great blogs for more reading!

http://isweatthesmallstuffblog.wordpress.com/

http://mazetheauthor.wordpress.com/