I got inspired yesterday. Really inspired.
I went with a couple of friends to Onalea Gilbertson’s one woman play, Blanche: The bittersweet life of a wild prairie dame. Blanche is a one hour play Onalea wrote and produced as a tribute to her grandmother, Blanche Gilbertson who passed away shortly after Onalea completed her first draft. Performing Blanche as part of this year’s High Performance Rodeo (HPR) is a dream come true for Onalea. In the five year’s I’ve known her, she’s always dreamt of bringing Blanche to the HPR stage. And now, after much hard work, commitment and perseverance, she’s done it. She’s shared the story of her grandmother here in her hometown. Through original songs she wrote, recordings of her interviews with Blanche, photos and video footage from her grandmother’s attic, Blanche came to life on the Rodeo stage. It was inspiring, entertaining and heart-warming.
And it was a reminder — That’s how dreams come true.
I first met Onalea when I worked at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. I’d started an art program and we were partnering with the City of Calgary in the This Is My City project. Onalea walked into my office one day and said, “I want to start a singing group.” It seemed reasonable. There’s a lot of unsung talent at a homeless shelter. Many clients play instruments, write music, sing. Creating space for music to happen was another opportunity to connect people to their creative core. And Onalea’s resume as an actor, singer, performer, writer, poet, unsung hero is pretty vast. Why not do whatever possible to help make it happen?
And happen it did. Over the next year, Onalea’s regular Monday night appearances would become the highlight of many people’s weeks. In the end, The DI Singers would become a weekly staple at the shelter. A place where anyone, from clients, staff and people from the community could come to sing and share in their love of music. Eventually, after a lot of hard work, organizing, begging, borrowing and pleading for the resources to make it all happen, Onalea and the DI Singers would perform the world premiere of Two Bit Oper Eh! Shun as part of This Is My City and HPR 2010.
Two years later, after more hard work, commitment, perseverance and a whole lot of numbers juggling to make the finances work, Onalea would remount Two Bit as, Requiem for a Lost Girl at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in July 2012. Two clients from the DI would fly to New York along with other performers from the original production to be part of the off-broadway debut of the play.
That’s how dreams come true.
Yesterday, as I sat over a late lunch with Onalea after the performance, I was once again reminded of how special this one woman force of nature is. Beautiful. Talented. Heartfelt and heart-driven, Onalea does not give up. From scrambling to make ends meet on a show by show basis, to work-shopping every line and note of music, to making sure every performer on stage with her is paid fairly, Onalea never gives up on her dream of creating music, being a performer and igniting the imaginations of everyone she comes in contact with. It doesn’t matter how high the obstacle, how wide the gap, Onalea will do whatever it takes to get her over the next hurdle, get herself across the divide that separates her from her dream.
Because, that’s how dreams come true.
They don’t just appear, fully formed, all coloured in and ready to roll out upon the stage of life. Dreams are breathed into existence, moment by moment, step by step. They take care, nurturing, effort, blood, sweat and tears. They take vision and commitment, determination and perseverance. Making dreams come true takes heart.
And Onalea is a woman of great heart.
I was blessed yesterday. I got to see and hear and witness the story of Onalea’s 93 year-old grandmother told through the eyes of her granddaughter who loved her dearly. I got to hear the voice of Blanche recall tales of her life. I got to hear her laugh, see the photos and watch the home movies she’d taken long ago when she was young and life was an adventure waiting to unfold. Because of Onalea’s dream, I got to meet a woman I’ve never met, who, like her granddaughter was filled with a love of life bigger than a prairie sky.
And I got to be part of witnessing Onalea’s dream come true.
What a gift.
And in that gift is the reminder of what it takes to live the life of my dreams. It isn’t about wishin’ and hopin’. It’s all about living large, about taking risks, putting myself out there and living it up for all I’m worth.
I’ve got a dream. Do you? What’s it gonna take to make your dream come true?
For Ticket Information on Blanche: The bittersweet life of a wild prairie dame please click HERE. Blanche runs until February 26 at the Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary.
Today’s everyday poem is posted over at A Poetry Affair. Do drop in for a visit! I’d love to see you there.