Finding My Tribe

Some days you issue a simple request, and the fulfillment of that request moves you in unanticipated ways… In this case, I asked a long-time friend, “Will you write for my blog?” His submission whisked me back to the magical summer when we met (even before reading this piece, I did think of it as magical). I had no idea, until now, that I had witnessed the birth of his passion for theater. We reconnected in college and I have been grateful to see him perform in multiple plays; in one more case, to be with him in the cast; to take college courses in theater and literature, some of those as we traveled England, and see and discuss more plays than I could count. And I am grateful to know that, even as life seasons have changed, he still finds his place and his tribe on the stage.

re:create recess #13: Daniel Seifert

The summer of 1983 was transformative for me. I finished junior high, turned 14 (I’ll pause while you do the math…did everyone get 48?), and moved to Colorado. In the middle of all that, I performed in my first play. I had seen a couple of plays before, and sang in a school talent show when I was six, but this was a whole new experience, and it changed the course of my life.

I have yet to meet anyone who loved junior high, and I spent those two years feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. The people whose opinions I cared about valued sports and girls, and they weren’t very excited about people who got straight A’s. My athletic ability was mediocre at best; my default when talking to girls was terror; and I learned quickly that sharing my results on our standardized tests would get me teased. Add to that the fact that the last four letters of my last name are F-E-R-T, allow yourself to imagine what Junior High boys could do with that, and you’ll begin to understand that I was ready for big changes in my life at the time.

So, when my mom told me about this group called Christian Youth Theater, I decided that since we were leaving California anyway, I could stop caring about what anyone else thought and just give it a shot. I auditioned and got cast as Muff Potter in their production of “Tom Sawyer.” From the first day, I was pretty much hooked by the whole process. The blocking and rehearsing, the sense of teamwork, even the costumes and makeup – for the first time in my life, I felt like I had found the thing I was supposed to be doing. As a bonus, there were a lot of girls in the group (including this cute blonde named Siv), and even though I wouldn’t describe myself as confident around them, at least I felt less awkward.

Me, left, as town drunk Muff Potter

When we moved to Colorado, then, I had a sense of identity that I had lacked before, and it helped to anchor me. I went on to do several shows in high school, and I was a Theater minor in college. The theater has become a refuge for me – the place that I am willing to work ridiculous hours for little to no pay, all because I love the process so much. The trust and camaraderie that develops in a cast; the hard work and struggle to make the scene come out just right; the mild terror of being on stage and dealing with mishaps; it all invigorates me and restores me to balance. I still do shows when I can, although the demands of a full-time job and being present for my wife and daughters require me to be better at prioritizing my time. I am also pursuing a Master’s Degree from Fuller Seminary, with a view to serving as a kind of chaplain to the performing arts community.

A 2015 production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with me as town loser (and drunk) Bob Ewell. For the record, I do occasionally play nice characters.

Performing is my passion, and I don’t know that I would have found it if it hadn’t been for a remarkable summer of change. Oh, one other significant event happened that summer – I kissed a girl on the lips for the first time. [Full disclosure: since it was my first time, “near the lips” is perhaps more technically accurate]. I still know that girl, but that is a story for another time.

Daniel Seifert lives in Westminster, Colorado, with his wife, two daughters, two girl cats and a neutered boy dog.  Though he is an employed and responsible adult, he is still, at heart, kind of a nerd.

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An Expressive Outlet

Create Challenge Guest Post Day has made Wednesdays my 2016 favorite day of the week! As a writer, there is so much about today’s post that resonates with me: the desire/need to release words into the world; the joy in the process and relief at its end; the writing-editing tension; and procrastination, because laundry. When we attended church together, the sight of Liz made my heart happy – she smiled, encouraged, believed better about others than they felt in the moment. She feels it, and so I’m confident she would tell you, too: Just Create!

Create Challenge Guest Post #6 – Liz MesenbringLMsky

I’m most creative in my writing and photography. They both provide an expressive outlet for me to capture an experience that resonates within me, or share a message, whether assigned or initiated from a simple desire to just write. In comparing photography with writing, I realize I take pictures in gratitude or awe of a scene, moment or person. In writing, I feel a sense of responsibility to clear back the extraneous words in my mind and find the essence of a thought, experience or moment. Photography is about what’s around me, on the outside, apart from me. Writing deals with what’s within.

I’ve written on a variety of topics and for a variety of projects, including ad copy for The San Antonio Express-News; animated character dialogue for LeapFrog; a Master’s thesis on education and the role of technology; resumes for myself and others; personal statements for private school applications; essays; and most recently, sketch comedy.

Regardless of the audience, it’s all in fun. I enjoy the process of organizing and fine-tuning a thought, feeling, opinion; pondering a memory; even getting a glimpse of what I might like to try or do, or where I might allow myself to be led in the future.LMbeach

I write when I feel a nagging need to hold a pen and scribble it across a notepad, as fast as it wants until my fingers intuitively release it. Sometimes I speed my fingers along a keyboard as words flow from me onto the big Apple screen.

I write until I’m done, satisfied (or relieved) to have released whatever story, memory, notes, whatever it is trumpeting in my mind or heart. It feels much like having been thirsty and knowing when I’m satiated and no longer in need of water.

I write trying not to edit, just like life when fun moments, like a belly laugh, are spontaneous. My writing teacher Amy said all writing should be considered a first draft; any intention, if it exists, should be allowed to move aside and the real story permitted to take center stage by the second or third draft. I try to allow fearlessness and honesty to guide my editing process, deleting the unnecessary or superfluous in order to spotlight the message at heart.

Too often I procrastinate writing, letting laundry, dog walking, dinner prep or the call of a more financially lucrative job search take precedence. Sometimes I feel more accomplished with a stack of clean sheets put away in the closet, warm tidy towels hanging in the bathroom, or the inviting way a freshly vacuumed carpet beckons for a walk down the hall. It’s a challenge when family members offer greater appreciation for a clean bathroom and a piping hot dinner than a two-page entry on a blog or humorous sketch in a black and white composition book.LMtrees

For me writing is like blending ingredients (situations and words) to create something I can’t completely envision from inception. I imagine similarities with cooking, painting, or sewing, all things I don’t do or enjoy as much as writing. I’d rather write and edit than prepare an intricate meal with the necessary steps of measuring, chopping, monitoring temperatures and timing, stirring… It all leaves me feeling drained. Instead, the writing process feels relaxing, refreshing, as I release the swirling thoughts and ideas in my mind to magically come together into a more orderly, understandable and relatable piece of reading. I appreciate the entire process of a written project coming to life, like the unfolding of a colorful banner.

My latest creative endeavor is sketch comedy. I sort of stumbled into it but have discovered that it is incredibly satisfying to fit humorous life observations and experiences into a new-to-me writing structure. I like the challenge of being ultra-specific with story, details, and word choice. It’s rewarding to hear others laugh after I’ve recreated a mundane activity – ordering a pizza, renewing a driver’s license, or shopping for groceries – into an amusing scene, and have a team of actors and production crew be excited to bring an entertaining sketch to life.

Over the years I may have refrained from certain stories, perhaps because I didn’t want to face a truth, accept a reality, expose a vulnerability. Words and stories can be judged or misunderstood, and sharing a piece of writing can expose me to unintended hurts, opinions I prefer not to hear. However, not writing tends to isolate me from God and the spirit within me. When I make it a priority to write, excusing Writer’s Block to find another home, it’s like lowering a drawbridge so the light of the Holy Spirit can once again flow through me and onto the paper. I’ve come to learn that what I share can also be an invitation to grow closer to others, to God, and even myself.

LMesenbring

 

Liz is currently working on a variety of writing projects ranging from sketch comedy scenes to developing a television pilot. When not tinkering away at perfect word choice, she can be found walking a dog, feeding the birds, or working on mastering the fine art of parenting a teenage daughter.