Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turning 32 - Big, Deep Breath

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday.

I've always felt that my New Year starts on my birthday, so it's important to take a look at my 31st year before my 32nd starts tomorrow.

31 has been a mixed bag.

Professionally, it's been an absolutely magnificent year. I've booked a lot of acting work this year, and accomplished one of my big goals - booking my first SAG national commercial and becoming SAG eligible - a PERFECT position to be in when you live in a "Right-to-Work" state like Florida.  I've also made a huge professional decision, but more on that in a minute.

Personally, it's been a mixed bag.  I fall more in love with my husband every day.  We just celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in one of our favorite places, Florence.  We did as much vacationing as we could.  In those respects it was a great year.

My health issues are a different story altogether.  If you don't remember, I've been in and out of the rheumatologists office since a weird rash showed up on my legs in May. My general practitioner is so sharp, she took one look at it and knew exactly what it was - a skin rash related to Lupus (which I had other symptoms for as well).  I was eventually diagnosed with "Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease", which means I test positive for a family of diseases (Lupus, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid Arthritis), but don't have enough symptoms of one of them to be officially diagnosed.  At the end of August, my blood work came back really bad, and the Doctor said he believed I had progressed to Lupus, and that he was afraid that many more symptoms were about to show up.  He said he would wait for another blood test in three weeks before he made the official diagnosis. They added another medication - a disease modifying drug - to help. Armed with lots of prayer, new meds and more education about what I needed to be eating to reduce the fires of inflammation burning in my body, I had a GREAT check up three weeks later.  I've been downgraded again to Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease, and I don't have to go back until just before Christmas - which is a DEFINITE improvement.

What I've noticed in my body is that I'm experiencing more fatigue (which the doctor says they can't treat) and more joint pain - tough when everything you do all day demands the full use of your body.  Some days I come to the end of it with absolutely nothing left.  I'm so exhausted that I regularly fall asleep by 8pm and sleep ten hours - like last night, for example. I have a long way to go to adjust to dealing with my disease.

Just before we went to Europe I was offered a theatre contract out of the blue.  It was a great project, with backing from the National Endowment for the Arts, a great cast attached and a production team that I adore.  Never in a million years would I have turned that down before, but my reality right now is that I don't have the stamina to add a rehearsal process to my schedule and am not selfish enough to try.  My health is the primary focus right now, and until we get it fully squared away, performing in anything more than a commercial is really off the table.

Which has led to my decision (well, OUR decision, as Jason is a major player in this) that I would finally apply to graduate school for my MFA in Directing.  I don't know how much longer my body can hold up under teaching as many dance classes as I do, no matter how much I love it.  Getting my MFA would mean a transition to a less physical side of the industry, and open doors for directing professionally and teaching full time at the collegiate level. It's a well prayed over decision, and Jason and I truly believe it's the right one.  It also means another big move for us if I do get in, as I'm not applying to any schools in the State of Florida. The exciting news is that of the three applications that I've already completed, I have made it through the first cut at one and now have to write a "show-pitch" for them, and have been invited for an interview next month at another.  These are both programs that offer a full tuition waiver and paid teaching assistantship to cover our costs of living, and were my top two choices from the beginning.  I will continue following through with my plan to pursue my MFA, and my prayer is that God will either open or close the doors.  That there will be no question of what we're supposed to do and where we are supposed to go.  If you'd be willing to keep us in your prayers, please also pray that God would be preparing a job position for Jason wherever we ultimately land.  God has been so faithful to us in our first four years of marriage, and we know that His journey is better than anything we have planned - we are living proof of it!

I'm celebrating my 31st year today - the good, the bad, the ugly.  Preparing myself for big changes in year 32. Ready to journey onward wherever our path takes us. Thanks for celebrating with me.

Look how far we've come, Mom!