Detox Tea Talk: September 2019

Good morning, good morning! I know it may not be morning where you are or when you’re reading this, but as I’m writing it is 6:24 in the morning, so- Good morning, good morning! I am trying to get back into the early morning swing of things before starting school again, and, I must say, it’s actually proven to be easier than initially anticipated.

But speaking of starting school again, I have less than a week before I am back in Washington. Back with the classes, the bakery, the drama department- just back. I’m excited. I’ve missed living further north a lot this summer, and being in Oregon last week made me miss it a lot more (probably because I was with Washington-made-friendships, but still). I’m a bit (read: very) nervous about how this new year is going to turn out, especially since a lot of it is still in the unknown, but I am trying very, very, very hard to live in that uncomfortable space and allow myself to take life as it happens. It’s hard.

But anyway, as is normal at the beginning of a new school year, I have been feeling rather nostalgic (but, really, when am I not?). A couple days ago I was reading through old blog posts of mine, and I ran across the Detox Tea Talk that I wrote a year ago, in September of 2018. The last thing I wrote in that post was this: “Many different things have been up in the air, and there has always been a fear of the unknown. But tomorrow I get to pack up and walk straight into the unknown. Here’s hoping the bravery sticks around…” In only four days, I get to walk straight into that unknown again. But the unknowns are different this time.

Unlike last time, the things that are unknown are unknown because I used to know them. It’s kind of like what I told myself at the beginning of the last school year- the hard things are getting harder, but better. Walking to classes by myself used to be so difficult, but suddenly I found myself going to counseling by myself. If I hadn’t figured out how to walk to a class by myself, I could never have managed walking to counseling (even though the counseling center is closer, but you get it). I could walk to counseling by myself because I could walk to classes by myself. My bad days were hard, but they were bad because I found myself able to do things I hadn’t been able to do before. I don’t even know if that makes any sense, but it was a weird sentiment that was extremely helpful for my first couple months in Washington.

This time, as I head into a new unknown, it’s helpful to know that the new unknown things are unknown because I used to know them. Things have changed, but I am affected by those changes because I love and am loved. I formed strong friendships last year, and now I have two friends in Spain and a few others that I can’t support in the way I want to. It’s unknown, but only because I care. I have a new job that I’m nervous about and have no idea how it will turn out. It’s unknown, but only because I care. I’m moving in with someone I’ve never met before. That’s super unknown, but it’s also an adventure. It’s all an adventure. The whole thing.

~ Claira

Screen Shot 2019-09-11 at 6.30.51 AM.png

Detox Tea Talk: July 2019

A couple weeks ago I briefly caught up with a friend via Instagram messages. She’s working at camp this summer, and even though I didn’t have much to share and there wasn’t much time to say much of anything anyway, it was good to talk to her. Towards the end of our conversation, she asked me how my heart was doing. Of course, knowing her, she didn’t mean my physical heart (though, if you’re wondering, my valves, veins, and arteries are doing just fine, thank you). No, she meant my emotions, my thoughts, and my general soul. I said I was doing good, which was (and is) true.

Writing these are always so strange to me, because, like I’ve said before, they feel like public diaries. Because of that, I seem to always remember where I was when I wrote them, and generally how I was feeling at the time. Because of the whole “public diary” thing, these posts always seem to be a little more personal, a bit more vulnerable. As I was constantly told over the last school, acting is simply doing private things publicly. Conversations, physical actions, and the things you say to yourself that would normally go unpublicized are all of a sudden written in a script and performed to a group of people. It shouldn’t surprise me that writing is often similar, just without the performing bit. You tell your stories, and you write your inner most thoughts, and, sometimes, there is an audience.

But back to my heart- it’s been on a rollercoaster of sorts the last few weeks. I always need the summer in order to recharge and process the past year, but for me there is such a fine line between needing my own space and needing to be around other people. If I’m alone for too long, I sink into a depressive-like state, and because of that I find it difficult to get out of my own head and actually do something about it. The heat definitely doesn’t help much, either, especially when it’s been 100° or over this week. In general, this summer has felt a bit odd. I’m never quite sure what I’m doing, or how my mental health is. July has always been a month that feels different each year. Last year it was wonderful, and a few years ago it was awful. This year, it’s been neither. I’m feeling indifferent towards July, but I’m still trying to focus on the good things.

I drink many cups of peach tea, text Emma, and watch murder mysteries. I go on walks, and talk to my mom, and try to read a little bit every morning. I don’t write as much as I’d like, or see as many people as I probably should. Summer, as a whole, is usually a hit or miss season for me, and I’m not sure how I’ll look back on this one quite yet. I miss my friends a lot, and there is a large part of me that is waiting to go back to Washington. Still, I am trying to remember the words of Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, who says, “Whenever we are in between here and there, whenever one thing has ended and we’re waiting for the next thing to begin, whenever we’re tempted to distract ourselves or look for an escape route, we can instead let ourselves be open, curious, tentative, vulnerable.”

To put it simply, my heart is good. It’s a bit sad, and a little uncertain about how the rest of the summer will go, and a tad apprehensive about the year ahead. But it’s good. Instead of looking back or looking ahead, I am trying to remind myself that this moment, right now, is all that exists. I am trying to live in the open, the curious, the tentative, the vulnerable.

~ Claira

Screen Shot 2019-07-20 at 11.20.33 AM.png

Detox Tea Talk: April 2019

Happy almost end-of-April! Since I’ve been writing and posting more this month, I don’t feel the need to catch you up on a bunch of stuff in a stream of consciousness post, and that feels like a nice change. Instead, I thought I would just process some of the stuff that has been floating around in my brain the last few days, and dump it all here.

This week has been a long one. It’s been beautiful, and funny, and messy, and good, but it’s been long. I’ve gone to bed exhausted every night, and I’ve woken up unsure of how I will make it through the day. I made decisions that will affect the rest my year, and I procrastinated on everything else. I had deep conversations and many reflective moments. I cried after rehearsals for A Wrinkle in Time (both because of how I’m kinda stressed, but also just because I love it so much and I’m really unsure of how to put it into words), and tried to stuff as many lines as possible into my head beforehand. I tried to break through mental hurdles and figure out how to get through my insecurities. And that, my friends, only brings us to Tuesday.

So yeah, it’s been a long week. This morning I woke up at 8:00, met a dear friend in the lobby at 8:30, and we drove into middle-of-nowhere-Oregon and sat on tree stumps trying to process ourselves. I searched for epiphanies and found none, and tried to pray but continually got distracted. It was good to escape to the woods for a little bit, but I wouldn’t say I came back to school with any newfound clarity. If anything, I’d say I’ve come away with even more questions than I had before, many having to do with theatre and religion.

I grew up in church, and I grew up loving theatre. Both communities have been incredibly important to me at different times of my life. Theatre has been more constant, but church has had it’s place. The thing is, I wouldn’t say church is important to me now. Back in October, when I wrote my letter to the Adventist church, I was deep in a culture that I thought I had to be in to find God. I still wholeheartedly stand by everything I said in that letter, but it does not accurately depict my relationship with the Adventist church, and it does not accurately depict who I think I am. That said, it still 100% accurately depicts who I think God is. I still believe God is a God of love, I just don’t think the Adventist church represents that love. Not all of it, at least.

When I think of theatre, I think of love. I think of community, and I think of family. I think of people who have lifted me up on some of my darkest days, and people who have made me into a better person. When I describe my love of theatre to others, I often catch myself saying phrases I have heard others use to describe their love of their church. To put it simply, theatre- and, more specifically, my school’s drama department- has become my church. My acting classes and my rehearsals, while sometimes difficult, are a spiritual experience for me. For those hours, I am entrenched in a very deep connection with people. (To be clear, I do not see “church” and “God” as being the same thing. So when I say theatre is my church, I am not saying theatre is my God. I’m saying that theatre is where I feel closest to people, and through them I feel closest to God.)

I believe that I was put here on earth to help people and to love them unconditionally, and, for me, those are hard things to do through church. Especially when I believe I was put here to help and love people through theatre, and the church I grew up in constantly tells me theatre is unnecessary. So yeah, I have been struggling with figuring out how to reconcile my time in church and how intensely it shaped my childhood with my love for theatre and how studying it and living in it is intensely shaping everything else.

I could go into how A Wrinkle in Time has been challenging me in terms of my many insecurities, or how my mental health hasn’t been fantastic this month, or even how I’m really happy about the warmer weather, but I think this is where I’ll close out. It’s 10:30, and I have a busy day tomorrow. One of the things I love about this series is how the posts often serve as almost public journal entries. And the thing about my journal entries is I rarely come to a neatly tied up conclusion at the end. As you can guess, I still have plenty to process. But thank you for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon <3

~ Claira

Screen Shot 2019-04-20 at 9.51.40 PM.png

Detox Tea Talk: March 2019

I cannot believe we are already in the middle of March. When you read this, I will be about to head right on into finals week, though oddly enough, I’m not feeling the stress that I felt last quarter. I think it has to do with having felt a sense of peace all throughout the last ten weeks, which is something I did not have last quarter. That being said, I am definitely still feeling pressure to end this quarter strong, which has been hard ever since the end of the Festival of Shorts. I have a strong case of the post-show blues, and gaining enough motivation to open a History or Sociology textbook has certainly not been easy.

The Festival of Shorts ended a week ago tomorrow, which means my time as Dorie also came to an end. For whatever reason, no matter how much I prepare for the end of a show, it’s still so heartbreaking when it ends. I’d like to say I let myself sit with the bittersweetness, but in reality I was simply too busy to let myself focus on the end. I had so much family come see the show, which was lovely, but it definitely made for a lack of reflection time. So, I carried the bittersweetness with me all of last week, and I’m only now trying to leave it behind.

Over the course of this quarter, quite a lot has changed. My major is now Global Communications with an emphasis in Spanish, along with my double minor in Drama and Psychology. I’ll tell the whole story of the switch soon, but for now let’s just say that God has a funny way of getting things figured out when they are supposed to be figured out, and not a moment sooner.

This has been a bit of a hodgepodge post, but much of what I still want to say deserves it’s own post. I sense a lot of change coming up in the next few months, and I have a feeling those changes will make their way into what this blog looks and feels like. Please accept this post as my check in for the month, and I’ll be back soon <3

~ Claira

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 12.50.39 PM.png

Detox Tea Talk: February 2019

Happy February! It feels like this year is going by so fast. I’ve been doing this little series for a year now, and even though I’ve missed a month here and there, I still enjoy doing a stream of conscienceless blog post every once in a while. Last February, I wrote that the month had always been a bit of a filler. I wrote that I never put much hope in it because nothing exciting usually happened. I wrote that I was craving spontaneity, and I was very ready for March to roll around.

This year, those words could not be further from the truth. March is my favorite month, so of course I’m still excited about it. And I’m also very ready for all the snow to melt and warmer days to return, but the 16 days I’ve spent in February so far have been amazing. Tomorrow morning, I will be in a car with four friends on our way to Oregon for something called KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival) where we will attend workshops and classes and spend an entire week learning more about theatre. When we return, we’ll be thrown into tech week for the winter quarter show, and then February will be over.

As the weeks of winter quarter swiftly pass me by, I find myself wanting to hold onto each day for as long as possible. Last quarter, I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling happy, but I was content. I was going through my classes and my little routines, and I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with it, I just wasn’t excited about life. Ever since returning to Washington after Christmas break, however, my life has been filled with so many beautiful things I almost don’t know what to do with it all. I had a temporary job in a theatre where I met amazing people (and got to sign my name on the wall!). I work with a lot of kids and have multiple circle times. I have play rehearsals, and Thursday dinners, and best friend conferences. I swim, and laugh, and talk every day. I am surrounded by creative, intelligent, and genuinely lovely people and I don’t think I could possibly be happier with my life right now. I wake up excited (and maybe a little tired!), and I go to bed happy (but definitely tired!).

Yes, I do have an off day every once in a while, but overall my mental health has been really good this month. The cloudy days haven’t affected my mood as much as they usually do, and ever since I started to prioritize my mental health everything else has gotten a lot better, too. This month has been a wonderful one, and when I start to think about it ending I definitely feel a little ache in my chest. Once February ends, I’ll go into performances of my play, and then I’ll be thrown into dead week, finals, and then spring break. March is looking like it will be another wonderful month, but once that’s over a happy period of my life will come to an end.

Going into winter quarter, I wasn’t expecting it to be extraordinary. If anything, I was expecting to struggle through some classes, audition for the play before working tech backstage, and spend a lot of time alone. Yeah, not the most optimistic. I’m trying to look ahead to a wonderful spring quarter, but I’m also holding on to the last few weeks of winter quarter. The past six weeks have been the best of college so far, and I would even go so far as to say they have been some of the best of my entire life. So thank you, February, for being a pocket of sunshine in my life. And thank you, dear reader, for sticking around while I’ve been out making memories that will inevitably become stories for you.

~ Claira

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 12.02.22 PM.png