Spring TeaTime!

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Springtime is beginning to blossom. This time of year always reminds me of the time one spring when three of the dolls who used to live here at the giant backyard dollhouse called “Much Ado About Nothing” decided to have a patio tea party.

The three dolls who took it upon themselves to have a tea party were called Katie Leann, Bobbi, and Mary Caroline. I took the photo above when I happened to go outside and discovered the dolls having their tea party.

The three dolls looked very happy sitting at the patio table with their nice porcelain teddy bear tea set. I noticed right away that while they had a very nice tea set to use for their tea party, they didn’t actually have any tea to drink, nor did they have any scones, cucumber sandwiches, or other traditional teatime delicacies to enjoy with tea. I asked the three dolls if they were enjoying their tea party.

“We’re having a very nice time, thank you.” Katie Leann told me politely.

“Yes, our tea is delicious!” Agreed Mary Caroline, lifting her dainty tea cup to take a sip.

“I thought the sandwiches and little cakes were tasty too,” Bobbi added happily.

“I’m sorry,” I told the dolls. “But, I don’t see any evidence here that suggests to me that you’ve been drinking tea, or eating anything. Your tea cups and plates are spotless as though they’ve not been used at all.”

“Of course!” Bobbi said.

“Yep! Just the way they should be,” agreed Mary Caroline.

“What fun would it be to have to do dish washing after our tea party?” Katie Leann said with a giggle.

“So, did you, or didn’t you, have tea and teatime snack foods here just now?” I asked them, totally confused.

“We ate all the things we told you we had.” Mary Caroline explained.

“Yes! It was easy. Much easier than the way you have tea and snacks for a tea party,” Bobbi told me with a sweet smile.

“But, how?” I asked the dolls.

“All our teatime snacks and our tea are imaginary!” We can eat and drink anything we like, and we enjoy it all in our imaginations!” Katie Leann told me, as she took another sip of her tea.

“Aaaah!” I nodded and joined the dolls in smiling. “That does ensure that everything will always taste just right, doesn’t it?”

“Every time!” The three dolls replied in a chorus.

“Well, I won’t interrupt you further then. Enjoy the rest of your tea party!”

“Don’t go!” Mary Caroline urged me.

“Stay! Join us!” Bobbi encourage, waving to a nearby empty chair.

“You don’t mind?” I asked them.

“You’re a writer! You’ll be able to imagine even nicer tea and snacks than we did.” Katie Leann told me.

And so I did. I joined their tea party, and I had a wonderful time too. I sometimes forget how magical the imagination can be, and that spring day those dolls reminded me.

As we head into spring this year I hope everyone who reads this story remembers to use their imagination every now and then. It makes life so much sweeter!

Gratitude For Everything That Happens…

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A couple of weeks ago I made my very first pitch presentation to a theater with the goal of enticing them into producing one of my full-length plays. I have slowly been working on editing that play, off and on, since I wrote the first draft a few years ago.  Prior to preparing to make the pitch presentation for my play I hadn’t been feeling all that excited about that particular play in some time. However, going into the pitch I felt that the play had potential, and I didn’t want to not make the pitch at all and have to wonder forever after what might have happened if I had gone ahead and made the pitch for the play.

In the days leading up to my pitch presentation, when I wasn’t feeling particularly enthusiastic about my script, I chatted with a few close friends about the play, and about the issues my play was starting to raise that I could potentially further develop in later drafts. I hoped these later drafts would spring into being in a the process of exploring the play in a workshop setting with members of the theater company once they loved my pitch and selected to produce my play in their upcoming season.

By the time I made my pitch I had enjoyed such successful and satisfying brainstorming sessions with friends and family members that I was feeling really excited about the prospect of beginning to rewrite the play to further explore all those new ideas my friends and family members had helped me come up with in our recent conversations. The night before my pitch I was thinking that I would be rewriting the play to add new material, wether or not the theater company selected it for inclusion in their upcoming season of live theater.

So, I pitched it the play to the theater company! There was lots of nodding and other positive body language among the company both during my talk, and while they asked me questions about my play. After I concluded my sales pitch for my play, the members of the theater company thanked me for being so well prepared to make my pitch presentation. They said they like the concept of the play, and they were even more interested in what it would become once I added in the changes I proposed to make to the script in a workshop setting. They said they would let me know their decision one way or the other within a couple of days. I left feeing good about the experience, no matter what the decision of the theatre company would eventually be.

As promised, a couple of days later I received an email from the artistic director of the theater. She thanked me for making my pitch, and for allowing them to read my play. However, she indicated that they would not be joining me for a workshop of my play to develop it further, and they would not be including my play in their upcoming season. When I read that email I expected to feel disappointed. But an extraordinary thing happened instead.

The first thought that popped into my head upon reading the email from the artistic director wasn’t, “Oh no! They didn’t choose my play.” What first came to mind was this:

Whooppee! Now I’m free to rewrite my play, make it ten times better than the version that theater company read, and prepare the new and improved play for submission to other theaters!

I caught myself off guard with that response. I didn’t expect to feel happy about the theater company *not* choosing my play. However, I have been feeling so excited about beginning to rewrite my play that I suppose you could say that there was no available processing power in my mind with which to feel sad about them not wanting to be a part of my play rewrite in a workshop setting.

So, while they didn’t choose my play, I still did succeed in many respects. I prepared my pitch, and I made a great presentation. And I came up with lots of new material with which to improve my play. So, what that the theater company did not choose my play. What a fantastic outcome I got anyway! I have all those brilliant new ideas with which to begin a rewrite of my play. Considering how I’d been feeling about that play leading up to the preparation time for giving the pitch, I don’t think I would have thought to do a rewrite of the play at all if I hadn’t prepared to pitch it to that theater.

I’m feeling far better about that play, and about myself as a playwright, a writer, and as a person, than I could possibly have expected to feel after having been turned down for the pitch I made. I find that it always helps my mood, and the state of my mind, to express gratitude. It isn’t often that I wish to express gratitude for things *not* working out the way I hoped. But this time I think that not getting what I wanted has turned out to be exactly what I needed, and in the end I feel I am coming out ahead.

I take great joy in the process of rewriting my plays, and in finding out what sort of plays they evolve into as I work on them. I don’t write plays, or anything, with only the hopes that someone will want what I write. I write first and foremost for the sheer joy of doing it. So, today I feel grateful to that theater for asking me to pitch my play to them. They gave me such a gift. Now I get to rewrite my play and enjoy that process, which I would not have considered doing if I hadn’t prepared myself to make that pitch presentation.

I’m learning that sometimes, if I can view the situation just right, not getting what I want can be just as wonderful as getting what I want. So, I have to say that I really do feel gratitude for absolutely everything that happens in my life!

 

Dolly Option Paralysis

Penny PlayPal really loves to play with dolls smaller than she is. Penny is a life size toddler doll, and she always has a great time playing with other dolls here at the giant backyard dollhouse called “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Penny likes littler dolls so much that sometimes she gets to feeling overwhelmed by how many smaller dolls she could play with, and she has a difficult time choosing a single doll to play with at one time.

Just recently I ventured out to the dollhouse to see what was going on out there, and I discovered Penny sitting in the rocking chair, looking pretty overwhelmed.

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I asked Penny to tell me what was troubling her since she clearly wasn’t having as much fun as she hoped she would have that day.

“There’s so many little dolls I could play with!” She cried in exasperation. “I don’t know who to choose!”

I sat down across from Penny and looked at her holding all those little dolls in her lap. She really was in a state.

“Penny, how did you end up with all those dolls in your lap at the same time?” I asked her, bewildered.

One of the smaller dolls answered for Penny. It was Camille, the blonde doll in the black dress with polka dots. “We all want to play with Penny because she’s so fun!” The other small dolls all happily nodded in agreement, but Penny didn’t look nearly as happy or pleased with this notion as the little dolls did. Penny just sat there, looking stressed and overwhelmed. She didn’t even know what to say.

I suggested that the smaller dolls go do something on their own for a while and I would talk to Penny. So, Camille and her friends sat down to have a book club meeting.

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Once the smaller dolls were situated reading quietly, Penny and I went into another part of the dollhouse to figure out a solution to her problem of selecting a doll to play with. Penny looked longingly around the dollhouse at all the dolls and teddy bears that were there to have fun with.

“It’s just so hard to choose!” Penny said with a long sigh. “Could you help me?” I agreed to help her. Penny did seem quite distressed and I hated to see her feeling so flustered and out of sorts.

I already knew that some human beings can occasionally get to feeling overwhelmed when we have too many things to choose from, but I hadn’t realized that dolls could experience such problems too.

Finally, Penny settled on one doll to play with, but Penny must have still been feeling flustered because when I went to snap a photo of her with the one doll she selected to play with that day – well, the photo below was the result.

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“Penny!” I said in alarm when I checked the picture. “You moved her just as I was taking the picture. Half her head isn’t in the picture at all! I can’t use this photo. We need to retake it.”

Penny looked at the photo and then shrugged. “It looks fine to me,” Penny said. “If you want a better picture then stick around and maybe you’ll get one.” Penny then wandered away to play with the regular sized dollhouse I bought for the dolls earlier this year.

Sure enough, Penny and her friend did have some fun playing that day. They played in the dollhouse with Saucy Walker and her other little doll friend.

But, I still didn’t get a single good photo of Penny’s doll friend’s face! Oh well, at least Penny had some fun, and she was able to recover from her dolly option paralysis!

 

Dollhouse Renovations Begin at Winter’s Tale!

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The group of dolls who live here in the giant backyard dollhouse known as Much Ado About Nothing are definitely up to something new this month!

Just recently the lovely dollhouse pictured above arrived here for the dolls in residence to fix up. They will all be working together to turn this lovely house into a cozy new home for the tiny porcelain Victorian dollhouse family of dolls who have been living among the larger dolls, but who have been feeling a bit sad and homeless for quite some time. The dollhouse family of dolls are among the tiniest of the all the dolls in residence here at Much Ado About Nothing, and boy are they relieved to finally be getting their own dollhouse to live in!

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Before the dollhouse family will be able to begin living in their new home there is plenty of work that will need to be completed. The renovation are going to be run by the butler and the housekeeper, pictured above standing on the balcony of the new dollhouse, who also will be living in the house with the dollhouse family. Once renovations are complete they will begin running the household, and they will make sure that everything runs smoothly for moving day.

When I interviewed them, to learn more about them so I could write this post, I learned that the butler is named John, and the housekeeper is called Carolyn. They explained to me that they took their names from the kind couple who helped this dollhouse make its way into the hands of the perfect new owner. I loved hearing this news, and I told John and Carolyn that by choosing their names in this way they were extending a lovely gesture of gratitude to the kind couple who sold us the dollhouse.  John and Carolyn agreed enthusiastically, and they told me that they are eager to begin overseeing the renovations of the dollhouse, so the house can be given some tender loving care, and so the poor homeless dollhouse family will be able to move in and begin enjoying living in their new home.

Lastly, John and Carolyn informed me that they have spoken with the dollhouse family who will be living in the new dollhouse once renovations are complete. They said the dollhouse family dolls have elected to name their new home “Winter’s Tale” because their lovely new dollhouse home was purchased for them during the the cold season of winter!

Bubbling Up…

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Iris Petra,

I guess you think it’s really cute to give me a name, and to give me a voice. Haven’t you learned anything from all the stories you’ve read in your life? Be careful what you wish for.

I know you. I know you get bright ideas, and you run with them for a while, but sooner or later, you lose steam. I can dig you giving me a public platform like this to tell my side of things. But don’t for a minute get comfy thinking I won’t tell things exactly like they are.

How long will you keep this up? Giving that goody two shoes, Agnes, and I voices is quite a gimmick. I like having a voice. We’ll see how long *you like* me having one.

No, the image above is *not* what I look like. Please. I put that there a reminder that not everything in your head is very pretty, and now that you’ve given me a platform, well some of that not very pretty stuff is on it’s way to the surface.

Rasi Tripe

© 2018 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.

Do I Need a Reason?

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I write because I want something good to read.

I write because my dad, in his pink marble urn won’t be coming back this time.

I miss getting phone calls and silly greeting cards from him in the mail.

He always addressed them with my name, followed by “or current resident.”

I write because candy comes in colorful wrapping, and because people grow up, not down.

I write when I am angry.

If I don’t, that anger will build up inside

Until I burst like a balloon in the hands of a careless child.

I write because people fill churches on Sunday mornings, so life must mean something.

I write because I love easily, and because there are Muppets.

Since kindergarten, I have been learning to share and to forgive,

And they’re harder to do than writing any day.

I write because I dream in Technicolor and not black and white.

I write because I can immortalize people who hurt me as “the bad guys.”

In his songs Cat Stevens urges me to do what I want,and not what people say.

I agree with Cat Stevens, so I write that down.

I write because if I didn’t, my hands would only display my rings.

I write because I read the book “Harriet the Spy” when I was eight.

On airplanes, I write while they prepare you for a water landing,

Even when you won’t be flying over a body of water bigger than a swimming pool.

I write because the clock is ticking, but my watch has stopped again.

I write because koalas dream sweet eucalyptus fantasies

Cradled in the branches of gum trees down in Australia.

I write because fashion-conscious ladybugs wear polka-dots.

My mother microwaves her ice cream so it won’t be too cold to eat.

It embarrassed her to know I wrote about that, so I did it a second time.

Sometimes I read too much, and I miss what’s going on around me,

So I write to keep a shoelace dragging on the floor of reality.

I write because little children smile at everybody, even when no-one smiles back.

I write because my brother and I still don’t know what kind of animal “Goofy” is.

I write because I am my father’s daughter.

A hot cup of tea will solve any problem,

Especially when I can’t think of what to write.

The comedy mask smiles and the tragedy mask frowns, so I write.

© 2018 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.

Lightening Our Burdens

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Yesterday my day started out pretty badly. I was able to recognize though, while feeling really blue, that I didn’t want my day to continue on as it was going. At that point, I was feeling just awful. So, to help myself,  I used a skill I learned while I was attending online Dialectical Behavior Therapy  classes at DBT Path. You can learn more about the classes I attended, and which I highly recommend, by going here.  The DBT skill I used ended up helping me to turn around a day that began with very unpleasant feelings, including tears, into a day that ended up being filled with gratitude and peace.
Yesterday morning I was feeling very triggered and stressed out by a situation that is impacting every area of my life. I started the process of helping myself out of that triggered and stressed blue place by validated my own feelings. I allowed myself to mindfully feel sadness and frustration, and I allowed myself some mindful crying, because I feel that tears can be very cleansing. However, I also knew while I was allowing myself to feel those unpleasant emotions that it would ultimately do me no good to wallow in those unhappy thoughts. So, while I was still crying I typed a simple message on my phone and sent it, copied, to all of my friends with whom I am in regular texting contact.
The simple message I sent to each of my friends looked like this:
Hi there! I hope your week is going well. Thinking of you, and sending hopes of all good things your way. 👍😊
I felt a tiny bit better, emotionally, after sending out those words of encouragement and kindness to my friends. I didn’t know what was going on with my friends yesterday morning. But, I suspected that there was a pretty good chance that one or two of my friends might even be needing to read words like those coming from a friend yesterday because of things going on in their lives which they had not shared with me.
So, I went about my morning. I washed some dishes, and I took some time to do a meditation to help further calm my emotions. Then, I started receiving text replies from some of my friends.
Many of the friends I had reached out to with that simple little message responded thanking me for thinking of them, and for taking the time to reach out to send them good wishes. Over the course of the rest of my day I ended up in several brief texting conversations with friends who replied thanking me for reaching out, sharing what’s going on with them, and also asked how I was doing, and wishing me well.
I have been having a challenging week, pretty much filled with challenges I would have rather done without. So, when some of my friends inquired as to how I’m doing I answered their queries honestly. But, as I wrote back to them, I realized, and shared with them, that the challenges I’m facing this week may not be pleasant, or what I would have wanted to experience, but that I feel gratitude for the fact that I can *choose to* transform these uncomfortable moments in my life into writing material to add meaning and richness to the experiences of the characters who populate my fiction writing.
I know not everyone writes fiction, or writes at all, so not everybody has the option to label their unpleasant experiences as writing material. But, I know for certain that I have developed my attitude of gratitude toward ALL my experiences thanks to studying DBT for quite a few years now.
Yesterday I used a DBT Skill to check in with my friends, and sending the messages out, and hearing back from many friends, both lightened my own emotional burdens, and in a few cases I also ended up being able to help my friends lighten their emotional burdens a bit too.
By the time I went to sleep last night I was feeling pretty good. I even was able to finish writing a new chapter in the novel I’m currently creating. How different, and how much better my day ended compared to how it began!
It didn’t take me long to send out that simple message to my friends. And, it didn’t take away time that I desperately needed to have spent engaged in some other task to engage in some brief texting conversations with my friends either. All of the time I spent yesterday validating my own feelings, and validating the feelings of my friends, was absolutely time well spent. So, this morning I thought I would share this experience with all of you who read my blog posts.
I hope that all of you who read this post will validate your own feelings today, to the best of your ability, and that perhaps you might also take some time to lend a listening ear to someone else too, if you are able. I feel that each and every one of us make the world a little bit better place when we make the choice to help each other in lightening our burdens.
© 2017 Iris Baldwin All Rights Reserved.