Saturday, August 7, 2010

Taking a Break

"Summer lovin'
Had me a blast,
Summer lovin'
Happened so fast ..."
Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

DAYS 260-302:  No apologies ... no excuses ... I will consider my 43 days away from my OGJ as my "summer break."  I did promise myself, however, that I would complete one full year of My Online Gratitude Journal, so BACK TO IT!


Two MAJOR events happened during my "blog break" ... the first was the opening and run of my musical Parade.  I look back at the previous post on Day 259 - three weeks before we opened - and see a show in its infancy.  It was an AMAZING three weeks of growth ... the skeleton of a set shown in my last post developed into a REMARKABLY stunning and massive two-story vision of faded glory framed by an enormous Confederate flag.  Add to that some evocative lighting (as you can see in the picture above) and beautiful costumes ... it was a show that literally took your breath away.

The production design was icing on the cake, though ... the performances of a talented cast of THIRTY created a final product that was nothing less than STAGGERING in its power and message.  I wept openly through many rehearsals and shows - something I RARELY do, particularly with shows I have directed.  We ran for EIGHT SOLD-OUT performances, each culminating in a spontaneous standing ovation and NUMEROUS comments (even from my most critical theatre friends) that it was "the best show that they had EVER seen in Jacksonville."  Even better, I had some audience members so stunned by the production that they could do little more than wordlessly shake my hand or hug me through their tears.  In fact, a number of friends returned to see the show a second time.

I never feel sad when a show closes ... the final performance and "strike" of a set following the last curtain call always comes as a relief to me.  Not this time ... I fought to hold back the tears as I watched the final show and my heart sank as the set was dismantled and I knew the Parade had passed by for the last time.

I have NEVER been prouder of my direction as I have been on this show and consider it, WITHOUT QUESTION, my strongest piece and best work ever.  My only worry now is that I will never be able to match it ...  It is an experience I will never forget.


Two days after Parade opened, I was on a trans-Atlantic jet winging my way to the beautiful country of Ireland.  My mother was born and raised on the Emerald Isle and came over to the United States when she was a teenager.  So in a way, Ireland is "home" for me ... a home I have visited three times before, but not for the past THIRTY years.

You've seen the pictures ... coffee table books abound with shots like those above and, if you've never been to Ireland, you might think they were retouched.  The picture above was one that I took - it looks like that ... REALLY.  It is a GORGEOUS country of green patchwork pastures, abundant free-roaming livestock, primitive stone fences, and roadside ruins.  This picture is the Glen of Aherlow, a valley nestled between mountains, not far from my mother's hometown of Mitchelstown in County Cork. 

I was delighted to discover how little Ireland changes ... there is a simplicity and gentleness about this land, and the people echo that in their kindness and generosity of spirit.  I have two pairs of aunt and uncle along with nine first cousins from my mother's side of the family who still live in and around Mitchelstown, and I was DELIGHTED to spend the first half of my week with them.  Now bear in mind that many of these first cousins were TODDLERS when I saw them last (and I was barely out of high school myself) and some had not even been born yet.  They are now all adults, many married, and many with children of their own!

It was a wonderful week, meeting my now grown cousins and reaquainting myself with the glorious beauty that is my mother's homeland.  Fortunately, the entire Sheehan clan (my mother's side of the family here in the United States) are planning a family reunion to Ireland in the summer of 2012, so I hope to be returning VERY soon.  There's also talk of taking some time on the other island as well ... I hope to FINALLY see London, along with Scotland and Wales, too!!

I also decided this summer that I owe it to myself to take a vacation AWAY each summer from now on ... whatever the expense.  I'm already planning to take that Alaskan cruise that I've dreamed of for years ... NEXT SUMMER.  And it better not be long before I make it back to the city that I INSTANTLY fell in love with for only a day ... Vienna.


  1. Need a date for 2012?? I have been yearning to get back to Wales (my fave so far), but haven't ever been to Ireland or Scotland. :::wink, wink::: What a *wonderful* summer you have had, my sweet.

    And regarding words are sufficient to express my gratitude for the whole experience. Not only did you assemble a cast of thirty ridiculously talented people...many of them are or have become dear friends. Especially my own, ML. I can't wait to see what the next 20 years brings us. I love you!

  2. Most Alaska cruises take off from Seattle... would love to see you if you're in my town!

    -andrea (chaknis)