The Importance of Staying Busy

I come from a family of five kids. Depending on whom you talk to, that is either a handful or nothing. Despite what people might think though, growing up with three boys and two girls, countless pets, a crazy grandmother, and friends and cousins that would randomly come over and end up staying, my house was always a little chaotic to say the least. Looking around the table at my brothers and sister the other week for my parents’ 40th Wedding Anniversary though I started to wonder, how did we all turn out so well? Not to toot my own horn, but I’m just a little surprised with so many of us, you’d think at least ONE of us would have gotten into trouble along the way, especially with all of our unique challenges. No, we’re not perfect. No family is, but all of us are well-educated, hard working, family oriented, kind people with no major hiccups in our backgrounds. I’m extremely proud of all the accomplishments of my brothers and sister – graduations, weddings, job promotions, business developments, and we’re still going. How did my mom do it? How did she not let at least one of us slip through the cracks?

The answer is, she kept us all extremely busy growing up. We all always had a full schedule. There honestly just wasn’t enough time to ever get into major trouble, even though we tried. When my brother’s high school crush would call him on our house phone (back when people had house phones), my sister and I would listen in as he begged her to stop calling him at home because our mom would make him swim more. “You obviously are not busy enough if you have time for a girlfriend”, she would say. “I can’t swim anymore, I’ll die! You have to stop calling me at night” my brother would plea over the phone. That relationship didn’t last too long. If we ever tried to smoke or drink growing up we would pay for it on the field or in the pool the next day. Somehow my mom always seemed to know if we were doing something wrong even though we thought we were sneaky, and would make us swim extra laps or run extra miles. Between swimming, school, after-school sports, extra-curricular art classes, more swimming, and the massive amounts of homework my teachers would pile on me, I fell asleep almost every night under my dining room table on top of a school book, only to be dragged out by my feet and carried to bed by my dad. To say my mom pushed us hard is probably an understatement. But she was always there in everything we did, and even though I resented her sometimes, looking back I think, she was really smart. She never let me hang out with my friends at the mall alone, she never let me loiter around and do nothing. She knew that’s when kids get into trouble. So she kept me and all of us busy all the time, even if that meant living out of her car, driving to 5 different games or competitions every weekend, giving up sleep so she could finish our homework for us (shhh!;) She knew every aspect of our lives, and nothing ever came as a surprise to her. She made sure we were successful because honestly, there was no other option.

Today every family seems to have a full schedule. Between school, homework, sports, after-school programs, weekend events, and vacations, just trying to keep up with family-life can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, not just for the parents, but for kids as well. One can see how parents today might be concerned that they are pushing their kids too hard. While everyone has their own challenges, and there has to be a balance to everyone’s schedule, I feel from my own experience it is better to always stay a little busier than not busy enough. Kids who have a full schedule of school, sports, and arts become better at communication and making friends, they manage their time better, and are more disciplined. They are better equipped to face future challenges, and less likely to get into trouble or fall into pitfalls. It also gives them a closer relationship with their parents since usually it is the parents who enable them to do so many things and need to be involved. I know it can seem overwhelming sometimes, but looking around the table at my happy, healthy, and successful brothers and sister, and then looking at my parents, I promise you the pay off is worth it.

The Confident Actor

When I use the word, “actor”, I apply it very broadly because my worldview was shaped almost simultaneously with my introduction to acting principles. When I am speaking in “big picture” terms as I am in this article, when I say actor, I am referring to “one who takes action”, in every sense of the word. Not just the person on stage, but the people in the tech booth that let us see and hear them, the audience members that made the choice to be there, the person who speaks out against the mean girl or the playground bully, the person who argues for legislation and regulations in order to put an end to human trafficking. All of these people are confident actors. Below are three signs of confidence in a person that are taught through acting.

Copy of IMG_5530
They are not afraid of being wrong. They do not stubbornly assert their position

Collaboration – Actors communicate their ideas and make strong choices but they are prepared to make adjustments and improve on themselves for the good of the group and their work; and most importantly, its impact on the world.

They recognize others good work.
They do not hog the spotlight.

They easily connect with other people and are not intimidated about reaching out to more accomplished people for help.
Find ways to connect with your character and your scene partner. This is achieved through understanding and creativity. It is important to understand what your character needs, wants, and fears. Then you need to have the creativity to relate to it.

They are not afraid to look silly.
They take risks in order to make strong choices on stage and always have fun!


First Technical Theater Week – Huge Success!

Our first Technical Theater Week was a huge success. Students will continue to fine tune their technical theater vocabulary over time but their enthusiasm for this lesser known theatrical art is commendable. Lighting Design rarely gets the attention that it deserves but BLS students are hooked!The skill, creativity, and vision required to pull off an innovative lighting design takes collaboration, communication and patience. I look forward to seeing our students overcome these challenges.

Students demonstrated excellent command over lighting vocabulary and concepts and then they made lighting decisions for their original play, “The Helping Oak Tree.” Students challenged themselves to explain their ideas to their team mates and provide constructive criticism in order to arrive at a consensus.

It was a new way of communicating for nine year olds but their perseverance to speak thoughtfully and respectfully, while also making their ideas clear is an example for children of all ages.

IMG_8402 IMG_8395   IMG_8340

Core Arts Standards and Life Skills

IMG_8387 IMG_8347
Our approach to teaching lets children be the artists. Student’s time in the classroom is spent expressing themselves and learning how to make strong artistic choices. Learning to make strong artistic choices will teach them how to make healthy choices for themselves and socially significant choices that will make the world a better place.
The National Core Arts Standards include a series of anchors for arts education. When you teach to these anchors, you are also teaching valuable life skills. When you see a child trying on costumes or reading lines over and over again in different voices, take a harder look, when you see them make a decision that has meaning and context your child has taken a step towards being the kind of person that will change the world.
  1. Creating
  • Self-awareness
  • Teamwork
  • Innovative decision-making
  1. Performing, Presenting, Producing
  • Confidence
  • eloquence
  • resource management  (time and finances)
  1. Responding
  • Critical Thought
  • Valuation
  1. Connecting
  • Understanding social issues
  • ability to understand experiences outside of their own
  • using problem-solving skills to come up with innovative solutions

Family Fun Day: Sept 20, 1-3PM @ BLS

Balanced Life Skills’ Family Fun Day
Join us for a Saturday Open House! Balanced Life Skills is opening its doors to the community on Saturday, September 20th at 1:00 – 3:00 pm! We will have entertainment with special performances and games, food, and board breaks — and it’s all FREE! A raffle will be conducted to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. You have chances to win free classes and private lessons for our various enrichment programs!
Our Red Belt Students will be assisting with a push up challenge and other activities. Come see them as they step into leadership roles in our community and set a strong example of service for younger students. Come seem in action!
September 20th, 1-3 pm
Balanced Life Skills
133 Gibralter Ave
Annapolis, MD