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Walking My Talk With a Limp


By Rahti Gorfien

After assiduously prompting each mom I coach to ascribe to my doctrine of doing what they love, rather than being slavishly beholden to everyone else’s happiness before their own, I have recently been challenged to live by my own dictates.

I swore off indie theater (read: off-off Broadway AKA for no money) a few years ago when it became clear that I could no longer afford to do it.  Since then, I’ve gone full-tilt into my coaching practice, which has proven to be gratifying on many levels.  Then, about a week and a half ago, I innocently posted a status update on Facebook inspired by a reality show.  Almost instantly, a colleague from my East Village indie theater days responded, asking me to be in her play.

Something stopped me from speaking from the conscious, reasonable ‘just say no’ part of my brain.  While (perhaps) not a drug, this level of theater completely consumed me at one time.  Back in the day, I had come to terms with being typed as ‘off-beat’ by creating my own work.  Eventually, my flaming fantasy of getting ‘discovered’ and monetarily rewarded for my raunchy brand of acting-out got smothered by the rigor required of a life that included children and solvency. 

But I digress. Suddenly, the unconscious, unreasonable…in a word creative part of my brain began to chafe quite rigorously.  Tantalized by the juiciness of the role I was being offered, and feeling for some time that I’d started to give in to gravity both physically and mentally, I waffled.  I did everything I could to get my friend NOT to hire me: I demanded twice what she had budgeted as well as reimbursement for any additional childcare. I insisted on very specific and limited rehearsal times, I even made her cancel a performance which conflicted with my coaching practice…everything I could think of…short of just saying NO.

She wanted me.  She REALLY wanted me!  As ever-emerging artists or freelancers, we all know how powerfully seductive that is.   And so I bit; I made the crazy but what I call ‘choiceless choice’:  I said yes.  Never mind that my son would be on Spring Break the week we open, that the amount of verbiage I have to memorize feels impossible, that I can’t slack off on my coaching practice, where the ratio of marketing to actual coaching I need to do is a full-time job in and of itself, that rehearsing a play is like having an affair; with all the attendant obsession and sneaking around…if not to rehearsals, then to steal some time to immerse myself in the script and creation of the character…

Well, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me or anybody else that in practice it’s been one sloppy, uncomfortable proposition.  With just a week to go before we open, lines are still unlearned, script changes are still happening, fights are still being choreographed, the logistics of childcare are still being ironed out and the house is in more than typical disorder.  Such is the nature of theater in the trenches. As a result, I do feel a pull away from my family.  But past experience has taught me to communicate my needs dispassionately, and when I am up at the parenting bat, I focus my attention on my son more fully and with greater purpose, since I know will be putting that focus elsewhere shortly.  It’s messy, but bracing in some very positive ways.  While the day to day obligations of domestic life before my theatrical re-entry were starting to make me feel as though I have chronic fatigue disorder, the reserves of energy I seem to have in rehearsal and with regard to strategizing for it are incomprehensible! There are times every day when I’m terrified and overwhelmed. At those moments I’ve learned to pull back and remind myself that no disaster is imminent; my husband won’t take our son and leave me, and I’m not standing in the middle of the stage not knowing what to do or say.  Since being cast in this play, I’ve resumed meditating as I am once more cognizant of its’ myriad of purpose, not the least of which is to siphon off some of the self-terrorizing ideation that accompanies going outside my comfort zone on a daily basis.

I have no idea how this experience will pan out.  The show might turn out to be a half-baked disaster, not to mention my performance. But it sure feels great to reclaim my creativity in a new way, as the necessary component of a full, rich life, rather than experiencing my work in the theater as a maternal conflict of interest.  Which is what I’ve been preaching to my clients all along. That is my definition of artistic and vocational success…even if it walks with a limp.


Rahti Gorfien, of Creative Calling Coaching, is a Life Coach and Park Slope mom, specializing in mothers with universal and yet unique challenges to succeed both personally as mothers and professionally in their chosen vocations. She is also a regular contributor to Momasphere. Contact her to schedule a consultation and find out whether her coaching can help you reclaim your creative calling! Rahti will be appearing in The Asshole Differential February 20th- March 1st, 2010.


Reader Comments (2)

Good for you!! "There are times every day when I’m terrified and overwhelmed. " Strikes a chord most definitely, and it's a good place to be I think. I'm in the same boat with a new venture (homeschooling) and it's a bumpy but satisfying ride. Break a leg!

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