Warning: Reading these musings may cause the reader to wonder, ponder health, mental or spiritual matters, scratch their head, be informed yet gain zero useful information or breakout in laughter. All thoughts are the property of my pea sized brain. All the information is as true as I beleive it to be... as I walk the journey of "releasing with a vote of thanks" my fat cells for a job well done.
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Finding Myself in The Secret Garden
I had the extraordinary opportunity to direct The Secret Garden
for the Pentacle Theatre, a local community theater in Salem.
At first I wasn't sure about it.
It’s a big show. It has very
difficult music. It’s not a well known
musical. However, I decided to attempt
the show anyway with the encouragement of my friend Jeff and one beautiful
I read the book, The
Secret Garden, as a child. As I reviewed
it I was surprised to rediscover a story of death, abandonment, fear, and
neglect housed within the pretenses of a flowery tale of a precocious girl and
a garden. The novel was unexpectedly truthful -- probably one of the reasons so
many of us were intrigued by the story as children. Burnett respected young
people and had faith in everyone’s abilities to face the darkness of the world
and emerge with the light.
I love this soaring musical version of The Secret Garden, which begins with a mood of secrets, solitude
and sadness and yet, ends with joy and redemption. It’s a tribute to the human spirit; a tale of
loss and rejuvenation; a feast for the eyes, the ears, and most importantly,
the heart. As I've read through the script of The Secret Garden, I couldn't help but be aware of the themes of human companionship, friendship, determination, and love. The main
theme is that no matter how dead someone or something seems on the outside,
there is always a spark of life left in them. If this spark of life is allowed
time to grow and is nourished with love, it will come back to life and
happiness, and will have a second chance to live up to its potential of having
a full and complete life.
human heart is a powerful force in this story. It has the capacity to cause the
most exquisite pain, a miraculous ability to heal, and the precious gift of
feeling love. Most importantly, I love
the theme of healing and personal change.
The story centers in a garden, a central symbol of personal
devastation (as in Lily’s death and Archibald’s mourning), self discovery (as
with Mary’s self discovery and change of heart) and renewal (as with Colin’s
recovery and a family coming together). The story follows Mary’s transformation as
she befriends others, especially Martha and
Dickon. They becomes her gateway to a mighty change of heart. Through
their budding friendship Mary begins to thaw and grow, like the earth around
her. She then in turn affects others for the better.
love how this theme is illustrated in a couple of ways in this play. One very
obvious example is the way that the garden came back to life after years of
neglect once it was found and cared for again. Another illustration of this
theme is in the way that Colin, Mary, and Uncle Archibald each flourish and
gain strength after they find friends and are given something for which to
such example is the character of Colin who is sickly and has been hidden away
from the world’s view until Mary accidentally discovers him one night. He, like
the garden, has essentially been un-cared for except for the basics of food,
water, and medicine. His existence is severely lacking in love, affection, and
any kind of creative outlet. Once Mary enters his life, she tends to Colin like
she does the garden, applying everything she learns, hoping to transform him into
a happy, healthy, and curious child.
as the central character, is the one that grows the most. When she comes to
Misselthwaite Manor she is an emotionless, sallow little girl. As the play
progresses, Mary’s cold heart and hard shell begin to crack, and she starts to
grow warm. Mary shows the most growth as she learns to care for the garden and
for Colin. She learns that it is okay to hope and to love another person.
this main theme is the idea that everyone carries within themselves their own
special magic. They can use that magic to care for and love other people and
things, resulting in healing for themselves and others.
additional theme is the concept of forgiveness and second chances. No matter
what happens in life, there is always an opportunity for a second chance. If
people can forgive themselves and let go of guilt and regret for events of the
past, they can embrace the second chances they are given, and they can move on
with their life and be happy. We see this theme personified in Archibald
Craven. The most difficult character to gauge
is Archibald Craven. His healing has been excruciatingly slow. He, perhaps out of all the characters, needs
the deepest emotional healing. Once he was willing to let go of the pain and regret that he felt over
his wife’s death, he was able to move forward in life with his son, Colin, and
niece, Mary, and find happiness once again.
of the principal themes driving this story of growth and life is, ironically, death.
In our world, life and death are paired. You cannot have one without the other.
Mary loses all the people that she knows within the first few minutes of the play.
Archibald Craven has lost Lily to death and longs for death himself. Colin has
lived in death’s shadow every day of his life, knowing nothing else. Many people
who have lost someone to death ask, “Is this all? Is there any life after death?”
The Dreamers in this story are an attempt to answer these questions.
Dreamers represent both life and death at the same time. They are a
of everything that each of the characters has lost due to the death of
Yet, while symbolizing death, they provide hope and help to those they
for in life. Even though the Dreamers are in a world apart from ours, they
the power to influence the real world. They still care and they are still close
The Dreamers help keep the hearts of each of the characters alive, even
the spark of life may be very small. They are happiness and sorrow,
and hope all at the same time. They use their magic to make the spark
life grow in the hearts of the people in the real world. In many ways they are
only ones truly alive, until they pass that life on to those in the real world
at the end of the play.
Composer Lucy Simon
said, "What Marsha has done is find the adult story that's there between
the lines. The power of the story is not just Mary finding the garden and
bringing everything back to life but helping Archie out of his mourning state,
helping him to accept and find his son again."
There is nothing quite like having a secret hideaway or like
watching something I’ve planted actually grow and develop and live. It gives me power and strength. It renews me spirit. It truly is a bit of magic. I have come to believe that great things come
to pass in gardens.
the greatest lesson of The Secret Garden is taught by Dickon: “The
strongest roses will fair thrive on bein’ neglected, if the soil is rich
enough” (2.4). Given the chance, even those in the most dismal of situations
can grow and flourish. It is then no wonder that this tale of redemption and
healing has such wide appeal. While The Secret Garden is best known as a
piece of children’s literature it offers deeply powerful themes and principles
that are at the very heart of the human condition.
The Secret Garden is part ghost story, love story, travelogue,
family saga, and even seed catalog, all joining in an unforgettable memory in
will never forget when my “garden” began to grow. I will not forget auditions. I will not forget making phone calls to
recruit a few people. I will not forget
rehearsals. I will not forget character
building experiences. I will not forget
moving performances that have changed my life for the better. Along the way I have discovered that
imagination – “charm” or “magic” or faith is the power to transform lives.
Secret Garden is a tale of redemption, rich with biblical symbolism and
mythical associations. I have learned so much from each of you and my own faith
(which is pretty strong) is has been strengthened because of my association
with you and my experiences with this production.
learned from Dr. Craven, Archie, and Mary's parents, of a fallen world waiting
for healing and rejuvenation. Consequently, some, like Mary and Colin are
physically and spiritually malnourished, and, in the words of Burnett, down-right
rude. Archie’s redemption, orchestrated by Lily’s love and at the hands of
Colin and his niece ensures the return of good rule to the ancient, gloomy
house and of health to the children. Dickon—constantly surrounded by life
and nature evokes St. Francis or Pan.
Martha, a plain-speaking Yorkshire woman, resembles the archetypal earth
mother and embodies an ancient folk wisdom seen neither in Craven nor in Mary's
deceased parents. I love that the spiritual growth of Mary and Colin aligns with
the seasons. Mary arrives at Misselthwaite in winter a dour and unhealthy
child. She begins her gardening in the spring, and as crocuses and daffodils
push up through the warming earth, her body begins to bloom and her manners to
soften. Summer sees the complete regeneration of both Mary and Colin, and by
the time Craven returns to Misselthwaite in autumn, the children are harvesting
the fruits of their labor—health and happiness. Archie too has found
healing. Finally, the overarching symbol
of the story is the secret garden, a lost paradise of love and happiness—a
version, perhaps, of the Garden of Eden, now reclaimed and rejuvenated.
are a few simple lessons I’ve learned along this journey. I apologize if some of those lessons are
religious in nature. However, I am
deeply religious and I make no apologies for that. Just know that each of you have played a part
in strengthening my faith in God and in His plan for us:
God can only help when invited. We must be humble and ask. Help came for this show when I stopped trying
to be that “One Woman Show”. Thank you
everyone that came to my rescue.
God orchestrate all things, is ever present,
healing in His wings.
By small and simple things all things move
We must listen with the heart in order to move
We must leave things behind to move forward into
joy. Whether it is sin or pain, or
sadness, or bad habits, or pride, we
must put it down, let go and move on to better ourselves and find lasting peace
The way is prepared. Sometimes it’s people. Sometimes it’s circumstances. So many people prepared the way for this show
to happen. You know who you are. Thank you.
Mostly, I know that God prepared a way for me to share how I feel in an art form I love.
Healing takes work. Creation takes work. Nothing comes easily.
When you feel joy share it. Your joy rubs off on others.
Healing is a mighty change of heart. Thank you for helping change mine.
He only could unlock the gate. I know many will find this too
simplistic. But I do believe it.
Life is change. Everyone has gone through a day that has
changed them in a way that prevents them from being the same person they once
Forget your past, forgive yourself, and begin again right
No matter how much it hurts now, one day you'll look back and
realize it made you stronger and better off in the long run.
Bad days come sometimes just to remind you that you have
plenty of good ones to look forward to.
Someday you will be just a memory for some people. Do your
best to be a good one.
It really is the little things that mean the most... like a
long hug at just the right time.
Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes
Do not let the shadows of your past darken the doorstep of
your present and future.
Let go, forgive and move forward.
It is not who you are that holds you back, it is who you think
you are not.
Until you're broken for awhile, you don't know what you're
made of. It gives you the ability to rebuild yourself, stronger than ever
When ordinary people survive under the most terrible
circumstances, they become extraordinary because of it.
Whatever hurts you, leave it behind. Whatever helps you
smile, keep it in mind.
A moment of success is just the final page of a story. It
holds very little meaning without knowing the rest of the story leading up to
it. This show is living proof.
Every ending is the beginning of something else. Every exit
is an entry somewhere else.
All of the greatest things ever to have happened in the
history of the world have happened in a garden… the Garden of Eden, the Garden
of Gethsemane, a Sacred Grove (a bit of a garden), and for me, a Secret Garden.
According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation” (History of the Church, 1:71).
That means it’s scripture too! That is why today I start my Book of Mormon study with the title page.
I am part of the House of Israel. My children and their children are a part of the House of Israel. This Book is written for me and for them.
I love that the Title page declares that this book is a “gift”… now this book I am marking will become a “gift” for my grandson. How cool is that? I feel like Nephi, writing my testimony of Jesus Christ and of the gospel plan as I study God’s word so …
I have noticed a ton of resistance to dress codes in schools. I have something to say... get over it.
A dress code is not about body shaming. It is not about control. It's not about taking away individuality. The dress code is not about making social divisions. It is not about taking away individual rights.
A dress code is about keeping a professional environment where real work happens. Contrary to popular belief, woman don't get to wear whatever they want when ever they want in "the real world."
Every profession has some kind of dress code. Nurses, doctors, real estate brokers, vets, and even McDonald's workers have a dress code. Even farmers and day labors wear clothing appropriate to the work they do. School is a professional environment where the student's "job" is to be the student - to learn - and the teachers' job is to open the possibilities in young minds and to create an environment where people - all people - can learn. Th…
Today may be the last day of the year, but it was the first day of the month around the Boyack house. Today was Once-a-Month-Cooking day. The funny thing is that it usually ends up lasting longer than a month. Our last big cooking day lasted from September to now. The thing is, I don't always pull from the freezer. Weekend we cook from scratch. However, with my voice lessons in late afternoons and sometimes play practice or performance I am too tired to think about dinner. Making dinner ahead saved me so much money from September to Christmas that I was able to pay for half of Christmas from the savings from the food budget. Plus, we had much healthier meals!
After collecting which recipes we wanted to make, and making a shopping list, John headed to the store around noon. We started the cooking and assembly around 1:00 and ended all the cooking by 7:00. In that time we made 35 dinners. We have the fix-in's in the cupboard to make 15 more quick and easy meals. We …