Standing on Their Shoulders

I mentioned a few days ago I’d spent some time in the UK recently.  I made a point to cram in as much of the history as I possibly could.  And history from all periods in time.  I went to Stonehenge with it’s mystical stone formations from people long disappeared.  From there to Stratford where Mr. Shakespeare was born and raised and returned once his success was ensured.  He was a climber of the first degree.  He built a then, and actually still today, huge 22 room house to show those townspeople what the glove maker’s son had achieved.  And in the meantime introduced to the world over a thousand words and hundreds of phrases still in use today.  Then to the palace’s and castles of the Kings and Queens of the Tudors, Stewarts, Hanovers and Windsors that led to the formation of the good ol’ USA and the eventual up-yours of the Revolutionary War.  Realizing I was standing on floors older than my entire country is a bit sobering.  And that includes the James Colony settlers.  Then to the only surviving original operating room (remember I’m a medical geek) and all the scary gadgets that passed for medical instruments back then.  Finally to the horrific and unrelenting conditions of the London blitz during World War II.  The smoke, darkness and confusion must have been overwhelming.

Being lucky enough to be able to see these amazing and important places and to have the thirst for knowing more is a gift I am most grateful for.  I realized somewhere along the way that all these things and many, many more, lead to where I am at the moment.  The struggle of early women for equality.  The rise of the middle class and the expansion of education for all.  The artists and performers that braved humiliation and sometimes persecution to bring art to all.  The formidable thinkers who saw far beyond their place and situation in time and created laws and institutions that protect and motivate todays leaders.  I could go on and on.  As I sometimes do.  But my long winded point here is that none of this happened in a vacuum for any of us and it ain’t a bad idea to get a little familiar with whose shoulders you’re standing on as you climb out of your current place on to the next rung in the ladder.  I know you’ll find my boob tube tuned to the History Channel a bit more in the future.

Words, Words, Words

I’ve just returned from an extended holiday in the UK.  It was first vacation I’ve had in probably 8 years that wasn’t work related, even though there was a smidge of work done on the trip.  This time I went further than just the city of London, which is one of my favorite cities on earth.  Even though I was a French major in college and have a fondness for Paris, I absolutely adore and am in serious crush with England.  And it returned the affection.  The weather was fabby, the people wonderful and the sites everything I’d want them to be.

I’d hoped to do more inhaling of the accent than I was able to but circumstances prevented that.  What I did do was listen to all the talking going on around me, which was so easy to do on the tube.  And for a word junkie like me, it was quite the treat.  I’d read somewhere that Americans use about 2000 words but the Brits use approximately 5000 words.  Very soon I was suffering from word envy.  And it was a serious case of the green eyed monster.  They use the language so richly that I was embarrassed to open my mouth sometimes.  Not really but you get my drift.  When you are in the presence of someone who has more skill than you do at something, a shyness comes about when you realize that you don’t measure up to their expertise and you’d be a fool to even try.

Instead of letting this stop me, I’m resolving to try to increase my master of language and all the wonderful words we have available to use.  After all, I just visited the home of where so many words were created hundreds of years ago.  I wouldn’t be doing my travels justice if I didn’t at least try.  So fair warning dear reader, you may need a dictionary nearby in the future.

No More Bush League

What’s this?  Another sports reference?  But what can you do when sports are so much a part of our lives?  Deal I guess.  The term bush league comes from baseball and means amateur, unprofessional, unsophisticated.  I recently came back from a gathering of voiceovers that happens not quite annually but often enough to merit attending.  This time I came back with a different perspective, one that had started building a few months ago but was solidified at this gathering.  A lot of my friends and colleagues were there along with a lot more newbies and wannabees.  In attending all the various meetings and addresses at this conference, I realized that I had started to top out with what I could learn at any given workshop or symposium.  It was a funny realization.  When you get started in any venture, you are a sponge soaking up as much knowledge and expertise as you possibly can.  You read every book, take every class, listen to every podcast, join every online group, practice every moment you can, seek out any coach that could possibly teach you something.  Anything to get you closer to expertise and success.  This stage exists for quite a while until it feels like this is how it will always be.  Not so.  After a while, all this new found knowledge gets absorbed and settles in and becomes your new default position.  You continue to add to your knowledge and your expertise level continues to grow.  You think this will go on forever, that you’ll be learning things about your craft and it’s business ad infinitum.  Until you pay to attend something and you realize that the meetings you went to and actually learned something new were few and far between.  That you actually learned more from hanging out with your fellow professionals and pals.  Wow.  Is that a jolt.  You suddenly realize you are on par with these professionals and have to rethink how you see yourself.  And your training.  You’ll have to be more selective about who you give your hard earned dollars to in hopes of furthering your craft.  It’s a whole different way of living in your dream but an equally as exciting way.