Day 90 – Come From Away

I know I’ve written at length about my love of theatre before, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing it again. Just know that when I say I’m obsessed with live theatre, I’m not exaggerating, particularly musicals. I’m mesmerized by the talent of the actors and musicians, and absolutely astounded by the sets and lighting and costumes that make the productions come to life. If I had unlimited funds, I’d buy a seat at a different show every night–Broadway, Off-Broadway, community playhouses–I’m in for it all.

When I first saw ads and TV spots for the new show Come From Away, I knew I needed to see it. I’m always drawn to stories of the “helpers”–the people who show up in the face of loss and tragedy to help recover and rebuild. If you’ve looked at any of my social media feeds in the last two weeks, you’ll see the dozens of stories I’ve been posting of exactly this type of selfless compassion taking place right here in my home state in the wake of the devastating Midwest floods.

But even more than that, it’s the story of Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines aircraft–a woman whose persistence and tenacity helped break down barriers, a woman whose dream of flying led her to the sky. And with a long line of strong women in my own family (including my Grandma Kay who was one of the first females to fly for US Airways), this was a story that spoke to me on a very personal level.

Mom got us tickets and we headed to the Orpheum this afternoon for the show.

And I gotta say, folks…I might have a new favorite show.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an overly-emotional person. I tend to let a lot of things roll off, and it’s not often that my emotions really get the best of me. But every now and then, something that hits really close to home will choke me up, and there were several moments during Come From Away that I found myself tearing up and taking deep breaths to keep it under control. Anything 9/11 related always hits me hard, and in the opening moments of the show when they sing about remembering exactly where they were when the news broke. Yep, that got me. Then later when the beautiful souls in Gander, Newfoundland began to open their lives and their doors and their homes to the airplanes full of strangers without a second thought or a moment’s hesitation. Yeah, you know that got me too.

It just seemed fitting (one of those moments when the universe perfectly aligns) that I was watching this show today while this same sort of selfless compassion is happening all around me right here in Nebraska in the wake of the devastating floods just as it happened in the hours and days and months that followed the attacks in 2001.

And it’s moments like these that make me really happy to be alive and be a member of this human race.

If you believe everything you see on TV, you might have a pretty grim view of humanity. But if you can tear yourself away from the 24-hour news cycle and get a glimpse of the things that are happening right outside your front door and in communities around the world (you know, the every day sort of things most people aren’t going to bother to mention on the nightly news because it doesn’t have a flashy headline) you just might see that most of us are just regular people trying to do our best and squeeze a little happiness out of this life while we’re here.

And what a blessing to have a chance to love and connect with others at the same time.

If you get a chance to see Come From Away, DO IT!! And in the meantime, be kind to each other every chance you get.

P.S. The amazing folks from the show (including several Nebraska & Iowa natives) donated a portion of the ticket sales totaling more than $30,000 to flood relief. And many of us in attendance donated even more to the collection buckets on our way out the door. What a great way to spend the day!

#NebraskaStrong #WeComeFromAway

Day 78 – Character

If you only pay attention to the screaming headlines–you know, the ones that claim our world is overrun with scandal and lies and cheating and horror and greed–you probably walk around with a pretty grim view of this planet and the people walking around on it. I’m not denying that stuff exists. Of course it does. We humans are perfectly imperfect, and we don’t always care about each other the way we should or make the best choices.

But if you take a moment to avert your eyes from the sensational click-bait headlines and turn down the noise, you just might get a glimpse of the big beautiful world we’re all living in just trying to do our best and grab onto a little happiness along the way.

Call me naive, but I’m of the opinion that people are generally good. Deep down, I think we all just want to feel safe and loved. I think we all just want to find our purpose. But I also think we sometimes get lost along the way. We focus too much on ourselves, on climbing some social or professional ladder, on establishing ourselves at the top of the food chain, even if it means clawing someone else out of our way.

I’ve been posting a lot about the floods taking place here in Nebraska the past few days, and if you haven’t taken the time to read any of the stories, I hope you’ll take a moment to do so now. The devastation will tear your heart right out of your chest–the suffering, the pain, the loss. But the stories of people coming together, of communities rallying, of quiet heroes stepping in to lift up their neighbors and their fellow humans–those stories will make you whole again.

Character is the choices you make when nobody’s looking. Character is reaching out to help someone who needs it and expecting nothing in return. Character is loving and respecting other humans because they’re human, and not thinking twice about their race or religion or socioeconomic status or whether they voted red or blue.

Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.

Humans are capable of horrible things. It’s true. I’ve seen it up close with my own eyes. Hell, I’ve been on the receiving end of it. But humans are capable of extraordinary things too. And if you look around and pay attention, I think you’ll probably notice that there’s a whole lot more of the good stuff happening. And the best thing about that is, you can choose what you want to pay forward.

Get out there and spread some love and light.

Day 75 – #NebraskaStrong

You know we hear all the time about how the world is more connected now than ever, how social media and internet access and smart phones give us instant access to things happening all over the world, allowing us the experience news as it breaks. But that’s only half true, isn’t it? Because we’re really only as connected as our newsfeeds and our limited worldview allow us to be. The reality is that we can believe we’re informed and think we’re so “woke” but the only way we can ever really know for sure is to disconnect from our usual channels and push outside our comfort zones and look past the noise and the bullshit being fed to us.

Forgive me if I’m a little irritable right now, but I’m sitting here in a state that is literally drowning. Two-thirds of Nebraska is under water tonight. Entire towns, farms, ranches. Animals are freezing, starving, drowning. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes, lost everything. Bridges and roads have been washed away. I’m seeing photos of the devastation in my newsfeed, posted by friends and family. Yet somehow this is all a blip on the national radar, barely a story any of the major news stations are really covering.

Hell, Nebraska got way more coverage when our new state slogan was unveiled a few months ago…”Nebraska. Honestly, it’s not for everyone.” Yeah, that hit the late night circuit. Live with Kelly and Ryan sure had a great time poking fun at it.

Tonight, all of the major news outlets are running the same old stories about who the President is tweeting at today, followed by hard-hitting headlines about April the giraffe giving birth again, the potential for Russell Wilson to sign the biggest NFL contract in history, Lori Loughlin losing out on deals with Netflix and the Hallmark Channel, and Chris Hemsworth snapping selfies with wildlife in Australia.

You know, all the really important things.

But even if we’re laughably called a “flyover state” by a whole lot of people who have never even bothered to get a real glimpse of what Nebraska has to offer, there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be at a time like this. Because if there is one thing we Nebraskans are really great at, it’s facing adversity head-on and taking care of each other.

So yeah, we’re getting bitch-slapped by Mother Nature right now and most of the world isn’t even aware, but we’re standing up and pulling together and I have absolutely no doubt that we’re going to emerge from this stronger than ever. It’s just who we are. It’s just what we do.

We’ll stay #NebraskaStrong