Since September, 2012, I have been writing a series of articles entitled, “A Forever Decision” based on my experience of losing my beloved dog Camilla. In October, I found that my Uncle Steve has terminal cancer. Uncle Steve is my favorite uncle and is one of the most important people in my life. I continued writing about coping with the grief of his impending loss, as well as day to day challenges involved in caring for him. The articles grew into a larger work of art. I hope that my writing will help others who visit the Open to Hope website to grow stronger in the face of difficult situations.

January 1, 2013

It’s a new year and with it comes new opportunity.

I’m thinking of my uncle today. Will he be with me all year? What will happen this year? Am I up to the challenges?

Luckily, the daily routine keeps me grounded. I can always count on my dog Isabella to bark at me for a snack during breakfast. I can keep myself connected to my clients and my business.

I have a new cabaret show to work on. The author asked me to be his dramaturg and give suggestions on the order of the songs. I love working with George Marcy. He’s 84 and the original Bernardo in Broadway’s WEST SIDE STORY. Carol Lawrence will direct his cabaret show. She was the original Maria on Broadway. It’s exciting to work with him again.

An old friend also asked me to dramaturg her musical, ME AND CAESAR LEE. It’s a story of a middle-aged musician who is finding new hope in life. Pat Holley is a terrific composer and lyricist, and she also wrote the book for the musical. I can’t wait to look at it.

And yet – when I’m not engaged in working on scripts, I tend to lose my concentration. In my mind, the future stretches out into one blank canvas, and I have trouble holding on to the present moment. I eat, spend time with Walter, feed the dog, wash the dishes, and take part in other daily activities. But due to the impending loss of Uncle Steve, I find it hard to approach anything with zeal or abandon. Instead, I feel like my life is moving forward and dragging me along with it.

I have nightmares, usually consisting of not being able to keep up with the people and activities around me.

And I have to set my mind to accomplishing the things that need to be done every day. I don’t know what I’m afraid of, but I feel afraid of the future.

With all the hype leading up to the end of 2012, I found myself reviewing my year and my choices, and trying to figure out lessons that I could remember from what I experienced during the year. But all I could think of were the things that I didn’t do quite right – the email that I overlooked, the words I said that didn’t come out quite right. Fed up with this process, I decided around 3pm yesterday to stop thinking about the fact that it was New Year’s Eve, and just try to live through the last few hours of the day and the year. That worked for me.

I abandoned trying to make sense of everything and just went about living my life.

I think that’s what I’m going to have to do for the next few weeks, at least: Just live. And breathe. Don’t think too much. Do what I have to. And take it easy on myself.

I can start a new year well if I feel that I can take one day at a time, and not be responsible for building a perfectly successful year with no mistakes.

There is a lot at stake this year. Decisions that may mean life and death. I got through last year with the surprise of having to make a forever decision about putting Camilla to sleep, and I suppose I can rise to the occasion of making decisions that are required of me now. I am trying to remain calm in the face of what seems like endless possibility. I think I’m going to have to stop thinking so much.

What a new way to start the year.

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Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton is an NYC-based freelance dramaturg and the Founder of Hamilton Dramaturgy, an international consultancy. She created Hamilton Dramaturgy’s TheatreNow!, where she hosts and produces an oral history podcast series of important theatre women working in America. Anne has dramaturged for Andrei Serban, Michael Mayer, Lynn Nottage, NYMF, Niegel Smith, Classic Stage Company, and the Great Plains Theatre Festival, among others. She is also an award-winning playwright. Her chapter, “Freelance Dramaturgs in the 21st Century: Journalists, Advocates, and Collaborators” appears in The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy. She was a Bogliasco Foundation Fellow, won the Dean’s Prize for Dramaturgy at Columbia University School of the Arts, and holds dual citizenship in Italy and the United States. Anne lost her best friend Curtis in a head-on car accident in 1979, two weeks after his high school graduation. Her emotional life became frozen and she has spent the last thirty-two years exploring all areas of self-expression, particularly through stage plays, poetry, theatre, art, and music. She is currently developing her own chamber-play-with-dance entitled ANOTHER WHITE SHIRT, about the way that grief moves through the body.

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