Alyssa Sellers


1 Comment

A Letter to the Struggling Creatives

easter 004(In January 2013 I wrote a Facebook message to a dear friend to encourage her in her creative struggle. In March 2014 I stumbled back across it and felt as if my past self had written it for my future me. Very timey-whimey,  Doctor Who-ish. Today I want to share it with you, fellow struggling creative, with the hopes it will encourage you, too.)

I read your Facebook post yesterday and I believe the very fact that you are facing resistance is an indication that you are indeed on the right track. Have you read The War of Art? If not, you TOTALLY should. It’s short essays on the struggle for the creation of art. In it Steven Pressfield talks a great deal about Resistance. Resistance is the name he gave to the force that doesn’t want good and beautiful to exist. Resistance is the force that stops us from creating.

In times of resistance and struggle I cry out for help from the Master Creator; the one who made every good and perfect thing. Admittedly it sometimes takes me awhile to do so. Sometimes, more often than not, I’m afraid.  Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Office: Finding Comedy In the Midst of Tragedy

theoffice6This week a natural disaster devastated a community. I know what that feels like. It feels absolutely horrible. This week I was going to write an entry about what The Office meant to me during my long recovery from Hurricane Rita. When I saw the devastation in Oklahoma, I reconsidered.

Then scrolling through twitter I saw a tweet from Patton Oswalt, presumably in response to someone telling him he was being insensitive:

So after seeing this I thought, “I will indeed write about The Office because in tragedy we need comedy. Otherwise, why go on?” So here I go: Continue reading


Leave a comment

Remembering That I Forget

My Christmas Tree ~ Portland, Oregon 2012

I live in that magical land where Christmas trees grow. Oregon is the nation’s biggest producer of Christmas trees and harvested over 6 million in 2011 and , sadly, I did not purchase one of them. Last year, I thought I was broke and would be gone too long in December to purchase a tree. This year I have a whole new appreciation for broke-ness and will be away from my home for a week but I am not letting this deter me.  My friend Belinda, a graduate student at Portland State, offered to drive me to a Christmas tree farm just outside the city to pick up a tree and to celebrate the completion of her finals.

As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle and onto the parking lot, I knew I made the right decision. The smell of Fir trees enveloped me and I shouted, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS TREES!” Thankfully it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and no one else was around.

Belinda and I set out in search of this year’s perfect tree. When I first saw my tree, I impulsively burst into, “O Tannenbaum!” However, not wanting to make a hasty choice, I tied a bright red bag to a branch and walked on. Eventually after much deliberation, I chose the tree that inspired my song.

I spent the better part of a day decorating this tree; mostly because I’m a perfectionist but also because I’m sentimental. As I unwrapped ornaments that had been unfairly confined for two years, vivid memories flooded my consciousness and I remembered the refrain from a song we sang during worship service on Sunday:

Though the world may see and soon forget
We will not forget who you are and what you’ve done for us.

But do we? Do we really remember? I believe that humanity as a whole is fairly forgetful and this is why God instructs us in all sorts of reminders like the celebration of Passover, hauling rocks from the dry bottom of the Jordan River to create an altar and participation in communion. These acts remind us of what God has done and reinforce for us the promises of what God will do.

This year, decorating my Christmas tree, was one of those reminders. As I hung up the lights, circled the tree with a garland made of old silver Mardi Gras beads and placed ornaments on branches, I could not help but to recall specific things God has done for me and as I remembered I began to feel joyful anticipation for all of the things God is going to do. This, my friends, is worshiping fully.


Leave a comment

They Say the Neon Lights are Bright on Broadway

Look, Ma, a Tony!

Summer may be officially three days away, but in my world it starts when I view the Tony Awards show. It was live on Sunday night and I missed all but the last 10 minutes, but, thanks to CBS.com, I don’t have to live lost in a time vortex.

The Tony’s are my most favorite awards show. And I like me some award shows. I suppose, I like qualifying things; putting things in categories and ranking them. Even within an award show. Here are my favorites of the night:

Most Adorable Couple:
Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, when he received a special Tony Award for his extraordinary contributions to the Broadway community. Watch it, it’s precious.

Most Inspiring Moment:
“When I was around 5-years-old running around telling everyone I wanted to write Broadway shows, it didn’t really occur to me that it would take 56 years to actually accomplish that, but it was worth the wait. Look, Ma, a Tony!”
—     Jack Feldman, Lyricist of Newsies, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Original Score

Most Articulate Explanation of Theater:
“There are those rare people who can look at the world and see things that the rest of us don’t see until they show us: these are the writers. There are those special few who can take that vision and turn it back into a world: these are the directors, designers. There are fearless beings who live in that world and show us who we are: these are our actors. There are dedicated people who know why that world matters so very much: crew, theater staff, producers, investors, managers, marketers. And then there are the people who step forward and say, “Show me this world. Open me. Change me.”: these are our audiences. And when all of these people come together and say, “Yes,” there is theater.”
—     Jordan Roth, Producer of Clybourne Park, in his Tony acceptance speech for Best Play
 
Best Explanation of My Life:
The Opening Number featuring Neil Patrick Harris
“What if life were more like theater?
What if everywhere you went you heard a band? And then apropos of nothing there were crazy dance routines.”

Let me stop you right here, NPH. I can answer this, because this is the world I inhabit and it’s…wait for it…legendary. On Sunday a friend said to me, “You are the only person I know who comes out of the bathroom singing and dancing.” That’s probably true considering that for most of my childhood I got ridiculed for this involuntary trait. But, friends, as an adult, it is a fairly fabulous way to live. When you think about it, what’s the alternative? Take it away, Neil.

“No, life is bleak and brutal and we carry from the cradle
 the awareness that it is futile and invariably fatal.
We muddle without respite through the sadness and confusion,
or we huddle in the cesspit of our madness and delusion.”

“What if life were more like theater?
Life wouldn’t suck so much.”

Show I’m Most Excited About Seeing When it Comes to Portland in Two Years:
“Once”and not just because it won Best Musical. I will see it because I had been living in Portland for around four years when the original movie came out and felt this town claim it as its anthem, as if it were really about us. Because, I went to the sold-out concert that Glen and Marketa held at the Keller, the largest audience for whom they had ever played. And, yes, in part because Glen said, “Hi, lovely day isn’t it?” in and ADORABLE accent to me and my three friends at the corner of SW 3rd and Clay on his walk to the backstage door with Marketa. Because in that moment, I knew that Portland was becoming something close to home. Oh, yeah, also because the music is wonderful.

Most Interesting Coincidence with My Life:
The multiple musicals featuring the music of brothers George and Ira Gershwin. Recently, I’ve been revisiting my love of this musical duo. (There will be more on this in a later post. Stay tuned.) Turns out, the Broadway Community has too. The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess won for Best Revival of a Musical and the new musical Nice Work If You Can Get It was also a winner.


Leave a comment

It’s Not Easy Being Green



University of Maryland ~ October 5, 2011
Jim Henson’s Alma Mater

On a particular downer of a day when I was struggling with the tension of creation and production and plain old purpose I read a book about Jim Henson entitled “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” This short book uses quotes from colleagues, family, friends and Jim’s own creations to provide a picture of who Henson was; incredibly creative and profoundly productive.

I began my journey with Jim on page 55.

“There are no rules, and those are the rules.” ~ Cantus Fraggle

I looked at the previous page and it is a quote from Jim, “Many of the things I’ve done in my life have basically been self-taught.” He goes on to say this helped him “approach puppetry from a different angle,” and that he “learned as I tackled each problem…if you learn too much of what others have done, you may tend to take the same direction as everybody else.” He created an entire world of happiness, a world that continues to encourage and educate people around the globe, out of something close to nothing.

INSPIRATION!

I went back and read the whole chapter and then the whole short book; about 200 pages. Frank Oz said Jim was “an extraordinary appreciator.” I need to be the same. I need to appreciate what I have and not squander my time in what it is I want. Appreciate and move forward in the path and work set before me.

In the book of Genesis, Abraham had all sorts of stuff, but not the thing he wanted – an heir. He knew God promised but sometimes he struggled. He was impatient and untrusting and occasionally tried to do things his own way. But in the end, God’s plan and promise prevailed.

After all, God did create the heavens and the earth. Even when Jesus was walking around as a human the sea still responded to him. God is power and love and a million things I don’t and never will understand but, because of my relationship with Jesus, he sees me as his perfect child. Perfect. He’s given me love, joy, beauty and a sense of wonder. So, if I move forward in his promise, I can’t muck it up too much.

“All of this stuff is about mankind trying to see himself in perspective. That’s what literature is about, that’s what art is. It’s trying to figure out what you are and what you’re doing here.” ~ Jim Henson page 164


Leave a comment

Dream On

I am a part of this awesome church called The Groves.

If you know me, that sentence carries a lot of weight.
A. Because I don’t just go throwing compliments around. If I say, it I mean it.
B. Because I don’t take publicly aligning myself with people, places, things or ideas lightly.
C. Because I have a lot of opinions, some of which are about churches.

All that being said, I love my church. Thanks in part to some excellent sandwich board marketing I stumbled into a Groves Sunday service a year ago today. By the time I left that afternoon, I knew I was home. Since I moved here 8 years ago, my heart has been for my neighbors in downtown Portland. I want them to know what true, unconditional, never-ending love is, that, that love is God and through his son Jesus, brokenness is transformed into good. The Groves shares my heartbeat.

Dream+Weaver

Yesterday in our Sunday service we continued our journey through Genesis and read about Joseph’s dream. And while I tried hard to get the vision of Donny Osmond in a technicolor dream coat out of my mind, Paul and Sunia spoke about God dreams. Here’s my take away: Joseph’s dream eventually came true but this was after his character was developed enough to catch up to it. A number of people scoffed at his dream and were pretty mean about it. But you can’t hold a good God dream down. Mary the mother of Jesus had a God dream, too. She was a little more reserved in whom she told and found encouragement in her cousin. Over time God prepared both Joseph and Mary for the actualization of their dreams.

The Groves Church is full of dreamers. I am one of them. Sometimes I encounter scoffers, oftentimes my scoffer is myself. Lately lies have tried to swoop in and snuff out my dreams. But, yesterday, I was once again reminded that I can’t let them. A couple of weeks ago I began a practice of beginning my day with dancing. I get up, turn on some tunes and shake out the lies. It’s a good time my friends. You should try it. One of my favorites, Florence + the Machine, sings it well, “It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off.”