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The Advice Goddess: August 2017
Wednesday, 02 August 2017 12:51

Jack and Jilted

Q:  My boyfriend of three years cheated on me, and when I found out, he dumped me. I’m getting over it, but boy, it’s a slow process. Some days, I’m fine, and others, I feel super sad or really angry. Is there some way I can speed up my recovery so I can get on with my life? 
— Wasted Enough Time

You wish him all the best, which is to say you hope a giant scorpion crawls out of the sand and bites his private parts.

It’s understandable that you’re feeling overdue for a little emotional fumigation. But consider that there’s an upside to the downer emotions and not just for the dry cleaner who’s about to buy Crete after getting the mascara stains out of all your clothes. 

Though we tend to see our gloomier emotions — like sadness and anger — as “bad” and the “whoopee!” emotions, like joy and happiness, as “good,” evolutionary psychologist and psychiatrist Randolph Nesse explains that emotions are neither good nor bad; they’re “adaptive.” They’re basically office managers for our behavior, directing us to hop on opportunities and avoid threats through how good or crappy particular things make us feel. As Nesse puts it, “People repeat actions that made them feel happy in the past, and they avoid actions that made them sad.” 

Nesse believes that sadness may, among other things, be evolution’s version of a timeout. Note that a term psych researchers use to describe sadness is “low mood” (though it would more helpfully be called “low-energy mood”). Sadness, like depression, slows you down; you repair to your couch to boohoo, lick your wounds, and seek comfort from the two men so many women turn to in times of despair, Ben & Jerry.   

And yes, there’s value in this sort of ice cream-fueled Kleenexapalooza. Being sad is telling you “don’t do that again!” — while giving you the time and emotional space to figure out what exactly you’re supposed to not do.  

Because your emotions have a job to do, you can’t just tell sadness and anger, “You’re no longer wanted here. Kindly show yourselves out.” They’ll go when you show them that they’re no longer needed, which you do by reprocessing your painful experience into something useful. Unfortunately, there are some challenges to this, because when you’re upset, your emotions and all the things you’re emotional about become a big tornado of stuff whirling around in your mind “Wizard of Oz”-style. 

But what do we humans understand really well? Stories. And it turns out, studies on coping with breakups by communications researcher Jody Koenig Kellas find that creating a story about the relationship and the breakup seems to help people adjust better and faster. Essential elements in this seem to be relating your complete story in a “sequential” way (in order), having a narrative that hangs together and makes sense, and illustrating it with examples of things that happened and giving possible reasons for them.

The need to mentally organize what happened into a detailed and coherent story pushes you to reflect on and make sense of your experience in ways that less directed thinking does not. What seems especially important for moving on is making meaning out of the situation — turning the ordeal into a learning experience that gives you hope for living more wisely (and less painfully) in the future. 

Kellas’ results dovetail with decades of research by psychologist James Pennebaker, who finds that “expressive writing” (similar to what Kellas recommends) speeds people’s recovery from emotional trauma. But say you hate to write. Research by social psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky finds that recording your story (say, with the voice memo app on your phone) also works. You could also just tell the story to a friend or a homeless guy at a bus stop. (Give him a few bucks for lending an ear.) 

Finally, consider the difference between healthy storytelling, used to find meaning in what you went through so you can move on, and unhealthy “rumination” — obsessively chewing and rechewing bits from your relationship without insight, solutions, or relief. Psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema finds that this builds “a case for hopelessness,” prolonging distress and recovery.

A powerful way to unbuild a case for hopelessness is by recognizing that you have some control over what happens to you. You get to this sense through accountability — admitting that you have some responsibility for your present situation (perhaps by ignoring red flags and letting wishful thinking run the show). Sure, blaming someone else probably feels more gratifying in the moment. Unfortunately, this tends to lead to insights with limited utility — such as the revelation that Cheerios, oddly enough, do not actually cheer you up (not even when paired with a lactose-free milk substitute such as Jim Beam).


(c.) 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


‘Fiddler on the Roof’ fueled by sheer exuberance, great songs
Wednesday, 02 August 2017 11:15
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WAYNESVILLE —  HART Theater’s production of the often-revived musical comedy “Fiddler on the Roof” was nothing less than a sparkling jewel — and its universal theme remains relevant today.

Highlights included the high energy and enthusiasm of the performers, coupled with renditions of some of the greatest songs ever written for a Broadway show.

The show’s director, Steve Lloyd, who also is executive director of HART, was spot-on when he termed it “one of the best musicals ever written” in the show’s playbill. 

Under Lloyd’s sharpe-eyed direction, the show faithfully adhered to the theme on which it was written, and avoided succumbing  to the temptation of modern-day revisionism and political correctness.

“Fiddler on the Roof” was also HART’s biggest production of the year — and the July 8 show on which this review is centered was a near-sellout of the 255-seat James Auditorium. Reportedly, it was nearly a sellout on opening night, too.

The show, which ran July 7-30, featured a cast of 30, a live orchestra and elaborate costumes and sets. Opening night included a big bash in the theater’s lobby.

The much-beloved show, with the book written by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, was appropriately high-spirited and featured a musical score that is nothing less than stellar.

The central character is a Jewish milkman, Tevye (played masterfully by Jeffrey Streitfeld), who lives in a Russian shtetl in the town of Anatevka in 1905, on the eve of the Russian Revolution. Tevye constantly expresses his consternation, shakes his fist and jests with what he sees as an indifferent God. 

As outside influences encroach upon the family members’ lives, Tevye, the father of five daughters, attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions.

He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters, who wish to marry for love instead of the parents making a suitable match, as per tradition. What’s more, each daughter’s choice of a husband moves further away from the customs of his faith. 

As the show ends, the Jews of Anatevka — under an edict from the tsar that evicts them from their village — are marching toward their unknown destinies in the shadow of a threatened pogrom.

Ultimately, “Fiddler on the Roof” is the story of the gradual disintegration of a family — and a community. 

In addition to Streitfeld’s top-notch performance of Tevye, especially good efforts were registered in the roles of dark-haired Golde (Lyn Donley), Tevye’s wife; and Tzeitel (Martine Rose), Tevye’s oldest daughter; and Yente, the matchmaker (Susan Rudniak).

The talented orchestra, directed and conducted by Daniel Hensley, included Isaac Fulk and Sarah McCoy, piano; Sabrina Kumar and Jim Anthony, winds; Sadie McLure, violin; Mary Jo Sparrow and Jai Kumar, brass; Jason Slaughter, brass/bass; and Dave Bruce, percussion.

Among the many standout vocal performances were renditions of such timeless classics as “Tradition,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Miracle of Miracles,” “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Do You Love Me?”

“Fiddler on the Roof” is based on “Tevye and his Daughters” (or “Tevye the Dairyman”) and other tales by Sholem Aleichem.

The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, had the first musical theatre run in history to surpass 3,000 performances. “Fiddler on the Roof” held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until “Grease” surpassed its run.

It remains Broadway’s sixteenth longest-running show in history. The production was extraordinarily profitable and highly acclaimed. It won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography.

“Fiddler on the Roof” spawned five Broadway revivals and a highly successful 1971 film adaptation. The show has enjoyed enduring international popularity.

Prior to the recently completed  HART production, “Fiddler on the Roof” was performed at least twice before in the Waynesville area, including once in 1990, when Lloyd (the current HART director) first came to Waynesville, and once when the play was produced by the Chancel Choir of Waynesville First United Methodist Church.

Upcoming HART shows include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Aug. 4-20, in the new Fangmeyer Theater; and “The Loves of Elaine,” Aug 11-20, in the Feichter Studio.



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