Friday, January 23, 2015

To Cassandra... About Dying and Living

Dear Cassandra,


Elsa (left), Cassandra (middle), Anna (Right)
You can't read this, you're only 4.  But I wanted you to know that I have always felt fortunate in that I really love my life.  I've chosen some hard paths, but they were ones that I wanted and fought hard to stay on to live the life I imagine and dream for myself.  I hope you follow your heart and allow yourself to be happy.

I always wanted you.  Ever since I was a little girl, I had conversations with myself about what I would do with you and how well I would treat you when you came into my life.  That might sound funny to you because I'm sure you think of rules as unfair sometimes.  Still, I'm using every bit of knowledge and wisdom I can muster to be the best mom I know how to be because you're very important to me.

If there's one thing the I wish for you is that you could inherit my optimism.  Sometimes the sheer force of it is stunning, because I really have lived a charmed life that supports that optimism.  From your father, I hope you inherit his kindness (and his intelligence), but the kindness never ceases to baffle me- because your dad's heart is bigger than Jupiter and is so beautiful.

We all get hurt at times in our lives.  I know you will and I hope to be there to help you through.  I wish all hurts were as simple as you cutting your finger on the scissors when you weren't looking like the other night when my heart stopped, but that's not realistic.  And that scared me to death.  When your heart hurts, know that you can grieve.  Then take the time to feel into the wonderful things in your life.  Call your friends and spend time laughing and sitting quietly together sipping tea and just being.  Healing happens in the connections we make with people, even when much of grief occurs when others sever those connections.

Know that all of who I am is thilled that you are mine and I am yours.  I'm so happy that you chose me to be your mom!

All my love,
Mom
Copyright 2015 Dr. Heather Corwin

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Interviews Can Go Well

The feeling I want when I interview for the right University!
I've been on the hunt for a tenure track professorship for the past 6 years - longer than it took me to complete my Ph.D.  I had a few interviews in those years, but none of the positions were a fit for me for a variety of reasons.  This year, there are more openings in Acting and Movement (Actor Training/Theatre) positions throughout the U.S than the past 6 years combined!

Last year I was a finalist for a position that wasn't a good fit for me, though I tried to convince myself the job was ideal.  Thankfully, they didn't offer the position.  When they let me know that the job wasn't mine, I was so relieved I actually did a fist pump dance more commonly reserved for "celebrations."  It was a celebration because I was trying to ignore my inner voice that said, "RUN!"

This school year I've been honored to be interviewed at more than one college.  If you don't know this, the process is long for college hiring of professors, which usually takes one full year to hire for the following school year.  For one interview, I knew I wasn't a fit the moment I asked about research support or resources... after which they stared at me with a deer in the headlights look and said, "this is community college.  We don't do research."  Uhm...  I currently teach at Pasadena City College (a community college) and had terrific in house support and student participation for my study... so...  huh?  I think they heard, "I hate teaching, so how can I get out of it?"  Which makes me chuckle to think about - because I LOVE teaching!

I just had another online/video interview that, for the first time in forever (I've been watching a lot of FROZEN), is a terrific match.  Essentially I'm looking for an academic home where my colleagues are kind, passionate, still working in the field, and are excited to collaborate with me.  This place checks all the boxes!!  Now I wait to see if they're into me.  Plus, more suitors could be on the way!

What makes for your perfect place to work?

Copyright 2015 Dr. Heather Corwin

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Friends Lead the Way

This past weekend, a dear friend won a Golden Globe Award for her work in the television show TRANSPARENT.  Her name is Alexandra Billings (see photo right), and she is an amazing person for so many reasons including her deep love of living.  And yet... what I can't stop thinking is "if Alex can do it, so can I."

Sometimes I can't help but compare myself to others.  I cannot be Alex.  I cannot be you.  I can only be me - but because I know Alex, I know the world is not so small or full of impossibilities.  If Alex can do it, so can I.

Plus, Alex is an amazing teacher.  I had the luck and delight of taking her Steppenwolf West Viewpoints class in which I reveled as an artist!  Alex inspires, motivates, and holds a space that is safe and invigorating.  She's not defined by ONE talent, she has many.  If Alex can do it, so can I.

I know the work I do with students is deeply meaningful- and feeds my soul.  I love to act and dream of working on Downton Abby or any BBC endeavor.  (I'm smiling big at the thought!)  Alex is helping change the world through groundbreaking television.  I know I'll never be cast as a Transgender badass (like Alex) because  that's not me.  But I do know who I am and celebrate me.  So... if Alex can do it, so can I.
Copyright 2015 Dr. Heather Corwin

Monday, January 12, 2015

Light Your Fire Within

There are days when I am stunned by how much I enjoy my life.  Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of crappy days that hit as well, but mostly I'm content.  The reason is I really listen to that little voice inside me that is my "fire."  Every time I've listened, I know if I'm on the right path.  I know if I'm right for a job.  I'll know if a friendship is one that I'll enjoy and find much laughter.  My favorite fire kindles when I'm around my husband: sparks, embers, inferno!

But how do I listen?  I listen with my skin as it gets goose bumps to be dramatically obvious about something being good for me.  I'll listen to my thoughts which either get excited and I am drawn to a person or situation or the thoughts produce an exit strategy.  I listen to whether or not my body feels good or bad.  Amazingly, I find life extremely satisfying and appropriate for me if I simply listen to my fire.

If you feel like your inner fire is at a blaze 24/7 and you're a little out of practice listening, or worse - you keep getting burned, go to a natural setting like a wildlife preserve and find a place of solitude.  (I like nature.  If you hate nature, try a place you know you can be still and observe your personal reactions to things.)  Find a spot that's comfy and be still for at least 5 minutes.  Listen to what you think.  If you inner chatter is super loud, stay another 5 minutes until you're able to focus on your surroundings and your reactions to them.  Let me know what you discover!

Your inner fire isn't about burning yourself up, it's about setting the world ablaze with your power! Your fire signifies that which only you can bring into this world.  Be bold!

Copyright 2015 Dr. Heather Corwin

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Stand For Love

Alan Turing, The Imitation Game is based on his life story
I would like to say that I don't care if you're gay, straight, bi, or transgender - but I do.  I care that you know who you are and that you honor yourself regardless of sinister minds and oppression, religious or otherwise.  However, I do NOT care to know your business as it is YOURS and has nothing to do with me if I am not the subject of your affection. 

After watching THE IMITATION GAME, I was rocked to my core by the fact that homosexuality was a crime in the U.K.  I have a bias that Europeans are more open and accepting about sexuality than the puritanical heritage of the U.S.  Here laws banning homosexuality were not removed by the Supreme Court until 2003.  I wish I was kidding.

In high school, I enjoyed the friendship of many people.  We had a few openly gay young men in school and, thankfully, they were not beat up or killed.  I recall wondering often why people were so fearful and spiteful to gay, lesbian, or people who seemed different from them.  Later, I began to wonder if some of these people were also self-identified with the groups that they seemed determined to hate.

"Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine" is a memorable quote from THE IMITATION GAME.  People don't care what you do behind closed doors when you're a genius who can help them, but after this genius served his country they arrested him for homosexuality, he lost his job teaching at Cambridge, and was forced to take drugs to "cure" his homosexuality.  He killed himself at age 41.  What I find appalling beyond belief is that anyone can be interested in a person's sexual habits when they don't concern that person. If the reason is based in religion, our choices and actions are between us and our maker.  Regardless of the basis of hate or contempt, I wish the world moved more quickly to establish equality of all, rights for all.  Alas, my optimism often gets my heart hurt. 

Copyright 2015 Dr. Heather Corwin