“The renewal experience has indeed impacted my work in Indianapolis both as a performer and a teaching artist. I've stepped out on faith on a number of productions I didn't think possible. One of my goals for this renewal was that I would share my talent as a drummer and vocalist. The time was now. No more procrastinating.”
Keesha Dixon, Executive Director of the Asante Children’s Theatre, attended the 2015 National Association of Black Storytellers Conference and festival in DC, as well as the 2016 conference in Philadelphia. She was renewed mentally and spiritually, being surrounded by artists and storytellers who encouraged and inspired Dixon to see her own value as a drummer and a storyteller. “They looked like me and shared my interests and beliefs. I dressed without the thought of feeling too eccentric. Truly, there is no sensation comparable to my high while attending the NABS conference and festival.”
From April to May of 2015, she intended to travel to South Carolina as part of her fellowship, until she received a call that her ninety-four year old father was being admitted to hospice. The stress that experience put on her relatively healthy ninety year old mother also resulted in her transition to hospice care, leaving Dixon in mourning. She explains, “The entire process took place in my home. I witnessed life exit from her body, little by little, each and every day. It is one memory I will carry to my grave.” As she processed her grief, she decided to move forward on a rail trip from Indianapolis to Seattle by way of Chicago and Los Angeles she had also outlined in her original plan for the fellowship.
Having lost both her parents in such a short amount of time left her physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted. “The time on the train provided space to be still with my thoughts,” she said. “I was able to breathe. I now could harness those thoughts that consistently seemed to escape my consciousness.” The rail trip brought with it spellbinding and calming views of the ocean and shoreline, and finally the stunning snow-covered peak of Mount Shasta. Dixon knew “What I had witnessed on this leg of my rail trip was just a speck of God's awesome work.” This part of her renewal process helped Dixon heal, and she was able to return to her professional life with quieter thoughts, more focus, and more deliberate behavior.
The lasting effects of her renewal project are primarily felt through better self-care. Dixon says, “I intentionally take time to go to the movies or take a meal with friends. I enjoy a cup of coffee by myself and read every other week. I take time to listen for the voice of God. I sing and play my drums much more. It helped me get to grieve.”