Another dream of lions and tigers and fear, oh my!

I recently had a lovely and very surreal encounter with a lioness at the Seneca Park Zoo.

Some of you may remember the dream I had last week about lions and a tiger; I blogged about it because I felt like it was possibly a message from the muses about a creative project that I might be embarking on.

Last night, in another dream, the beasts returned.

The tiger once again made a pass through a room, this time in an old mansion where a convention was taking place. This time, he made prolonged eye contact with me, and trod over my foot with his giant paw, and hip checked me with his massive body as he passed by.

Then the lions – oh lordy, the lions! They were roaming about the building, and everyone was panicked when they knew they were near, because they were threatening. But as soon as they passed, everyone went back to business as usual, until the next sighting.

But I was on alert. I could see them around corners. I could smell them as they prowled on the floors above and below. I was both looking for them and avoiding them at the same time. Continue reading

A dream of two lions, a tiger, and a visit from the muses

Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Last night, I dreamed that I was … well, I’m not sure where I was but it was a room in a house I didn’t recognize. There was a door from the back of the house into this room and a door in this room that went out the front of the house. There were people in the room, no one I can specifically recognize, but I seem to remember a maroon couch that I was either standing on or near.

And at one point in this otherwise nondescript dream, a tiger walked in through the back door, silently and in no particular hurry, and walked past me as he made his way through the room and out the front door.  I felt his fur gently brush my skin and felt warmth radiating from his body.

I stood frozen in place as he passed, and when he was gone I said out loud, “A TIGER just walked through the room. Did anyone else see that?” Some people nodded like it was nothing exciting. Some people hadn’t even seen it. For everyone else, it was a non-event.

A bit later – because it’s a dream and I don’t remember what else was happening or how long it took – two lions came into the room. Except they didn’t just walk through. The first one came right up to me, sniffing me the way a dog might sniff a visitor to your house, and then settled herself near my feet as the other lion padded over and also gave me a once over. And then he started licking me. My feet, my legs, my hands. He gnawed softly on my shin and gently, but with intention, butted my side with his enormous head.

As with the tiger, I could feel their fur, could feel the heat from both of the beasts and smell the faint odor of animal, and I was frozen in place by their sheer power as it pressed against the air in the room.

These lions were not necessarily friends. It was clear to me, if not to anyone else, that they were dangerous predators there to investigate me and, if I was found wanting, would have gladly devoured me in a heartbeat.

This time, everyone else in the room was as frozen as I was because, apparently, two lions hanging out are more interesting than one tiger just passing through.

After what felt like an eternity in dream time, the lions both stood, looked me in the eye, and then sauntered out through the front door like the royalty of the jungle that they are.

As they disappeared over the threshold, someone in the room whispered, “That was a fucking LION.”

“No,” I replied aloud. “That was TWO fucking lions.”

And then I woke up.

* * * * *

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Letting go of the known and soaring into the unknown

A message to a friend struggling with a major life change:

Sometimes, when we embrace who we really are – whatever that means – it sets us off on a completely different path than we or anyone we know ever imagined we would embark on.

And because new things are scary, even when we think we’re putting our feet forward, in reality our hands are firmly gripped to the walls of our past, and we content ourselves with hanging perilously to the Cliffs of the Known rather than venturing into new territory.

Even when it’s painful. Even when it’s exhausting. Even when it’s robbing us of the sustenance we need to survive.

Because clinging to the known feels safer than letting go and facing the vast, scary unknown.

What if we fall?

But what if we don’t?

Sometimes, the only way we will let go of the past and see what’s truly meant for our future is if someone stomps on our battered, bloodies hands as they struggle to grasp the rocks crumbling under our fingertips and forces us to let go.

And in that split second, when letting go of the shards of rock seems like madness but we have no choice, and we’re angry that someone has abandoned us and betrayed us, and we see our fingers release and feel the split second of weightlessness before the anticipated plummet, we surprise ourselves by the realization that we’re not falling at all.

In fact, we’re floating.

And while it’s hard to get used to our wings, because we’ve never unfurled them before, and it’s scary to look down, because we don’t knows what perils await us, very soon we realize we’re not just floating, but soaring.

And then we’re seeing the world from new heights and new perspectives. And the landscape we imagined as dangerous is actually lush and green and filled with fresh waterfalls and crystal seas and beautiful things we never saw when our faces were smashed against our past.

Never forget that you have been created for wonderful things, and you are an important link in a chain of small interactions and experiences that make the world go round.

Following your heart and embracing all you are means that everyone benefits.

Depriving yourself of all you are means we all suffer with you.

Sometimes the only way to let go is to have someone rip your fingers from the ledge of who you were and shove you into the sky of who you are meant to be.

Letting go hurts in the moment, and sometimes we leave a limb behind because our grasp is so tight.

But when it’s time to let go, let go.

We all need you to keep moving forward.

We all need you.

“Suddenly Stardust” is here!

I’m so jack6.000x9.000.inddexcited to announce that “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” is now available for purchase!

I almost never rave about something I’ve written, but I’m absolutely in love with this book. And the advance praise has been so wonderful:

Law Tarello, MFA, and faculty at The Second City, says, “Don’t let her humble and even occasionally timid way fool you. Joanne Brokaw is a powerhouse theatrical improvisor. As a student she was willing to break out of her perceived comfort zone and on stage she used her considerable emotional range and life experience to expand the parameters of what her scene partners thought possible. Her reflections in this book are all at once insightful and revealing. If you have any desire to expand your horizons as a performer, Joanne’s stories can certainly prepare you for what and who you might encounter.”

Austin Scott, from the House Improv Theater, Gainesville FL, calls it, “A fascinating memoir that recounts the transformation from beginner to capable improviser and the emotional growing pains that come with that metamorphosis” adding that “Suddenly Stardust is essential reading and earns its place on my bookshelf right between Truth in Comedy and the UCB Manual.”

Scott Baker, one half of the comedy improv team Isaacs and Baker, says, “Finally, someone who gets it! Improv isn’t about being funny. It’s about letting go of fear in all aspects of communication and your life. Joanne Brokaw really gets it and conveys it!”

Veteran comedian Wendy Liebman calls “Suddenly Stardust” a “guide to life, showing how improv can act as a template for living fully with others. Improv can help us appreciate every single moment, be more creative, and remind us how stellar we are. Say Yes, I’ll get this book, And read it in one sitting, like I did. And then cherish it like I do.”

Carrie Anne Noble, author of the “The Mermaid’s Sister” and “The Gold-Son”, says, “”In Suddenly Stardust, Joanne Brokaw takes the reader backstage (and onstage) with her as she braves the challenging and terrifying world of improv. Her lessons learned will reverberate long with readers—and perhaps inspire them to say, “Yes, and” to purposeful, compassionate living a little more often.”

Comedian and storyteller Richard Hughson admits, “I was at first dismayed to see there were 142 pages, about improv for God’s sake! But this book is not about improvising on stage. It’s about improvising your way through life, complete with all doubts, fears, truths, failures, and successes. To anyone who is considering this – you will love this book.

Roberta Gore, author of “Saving Grace”, says,”Brokaw reminds us in Suddenly Stardust that time spent studying whatever it is we happen to love–be it yoga or ceramics or surfing–will likely reap a harvest of fruits we never knew we planted. Yes, improv teaches us to be looser, more creative performers. But much more importantly, it teaches us to listen, and give, and take, and color outside the lines.”

The ebook and paperback editions are available right now, and a hardcover edition should be available soon. For more information and links to the book at Amazon, check out the Books page on my website or visit amazon.com/author/joannebrokaw.

“Suddenly Stardust” is published by WordCrafts Press.

And don’t forget that I’m leading workshops this summer at The Focus Theater and at Writers & Books. For a full listing of events, check out the (always updating) list here.

It’s my birthday, and here’s what I really want

happy-birthday-cake-candle-celebrate-celebrating-1

Tomorrow, I turn 55. I can’t believe it’s been five years since I started my “50 thought on turning 50” blog post series, in which I noted that I might be 60 by the time I actually finish the list.  (My Ancestry DNA test came back and said I’m a hearty mix of Irish, Italian, and Procrastinator.)

I don’t mind aging. For me, the hardest part of having a birthday: the presents.

I’ve been told I’m a hard person to buy presents for because I don’t like to get presents. I’m swimming in stuff over here and despite a lot of effort to manage the clutter, it’s a never ending battle. Giving me gifts or knickknacks or books just adds to the stress. I change my mind a lot about where I shop, eat, or get my hair done, so people often spend money on gift certificates I’ll never use.

I know, I know. I sound ungrateful, but I’m really not. I appreciate that people care about me and want to show it on my birthday. And honestly, I’m not opposed to going out to dinner or receiving small gifts of things I really need or want (although right now, I don’t need or want much of anything).

So for those who can’t resist my “please don’t give me anything” plea, here is a list of ideas of things you can do for my birthday.

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WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson

Quick note: I appeared today on Connections with Evan Dawson on WXXI radio. The topic: parking meters, and the City of Rochester’s plan to enforce paid parking. While the City reversed their decision yesterday, the guests – Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation; Arian Horbovetz, creator of the Urban Phoenix blog; Jason Partyka, member of Reconnect Rochester; Bleu Cease, executive director of the Rochester Contemporary Art Center; and little old me – had a great conversation about exploring downtown, and ways to attract people and create a more vibrant experience for visitors. You can listen to the podcast of the hour here, on the WXXI website.

Rochester Post Magazine cover story

It’s been a while since I’ve written a feature profile, so when Rochester Post Magazine approached me this spring about writing a piece, I debated whether or not to take the assignment. But the interview subject – Natalie Rogers-Cropper, principal dancer for Garth Fagan Dance – was too intriguing to pass up. The summer issue of Rochester Post came out in July, and my story was the cover! Rogers-Cropper is fascinating, and I’m honored to have been able to tell her story. And the magazine is gorgeous! Alas, this is the last issue the Post will be publishing, so get our copy of the magazine now.