I’m not a survivor.

Yes- I have Multiple Sclerosis. Yes- I have a Pituitary Tumour. Yes- I have a tremendous amount of pain every single day… but I’m not a survivor… I’m a WINNER :)!

I learnt a while ago that there are 2 ways to approach anything this serious – 1. Let it control you. 2. Don’t !

I choose to not let fear nor pain nor the fear of pain rule my life. I am incredible and I am all that I am because of the M.S.

How ? You ask?

Well sure.. when we were first told about the disease I was shattered… I didn’t understand it… no one did and it left me fearful. I was left side paralysed and I couldn’t speak… For an actor and especially a person as talkative as me… the not speaking thing was harder than the paralysis…! I could think it …it was just too hard to say so many words…!

And then I tried. I failed. I tried some more. I failed some more. And then I started from scratch. I got to re-learn as an adult how to be Divya and what fun that was!! My Dad and sister would read me the gossip columns of my favourite newspapers…My Mom would watch Oprah with me and Aditya would watch all my favourite rom-coms and comedies with me… and I got to spend all that amazing time with my family who made me realise how cool I was because they were so cool! My Doctor played catch with me and though I pretty much always failed in that…we got some good laughs every evening and I looked forward to the new day with childlike enthusiasm…enthusiasm that I had lost a while before that when work became WORK and family became FAMILY- the 2 things you were committed to but didn’t love the way you should!

And work? Well I decided to focus on MY COMPANY- BALANCING ACT PRODUCTIONS… and when I got up…I put heart and soul in to theatre and the company and it gave me purpose. i was proud to get up every morning because I was the coolest boss to work for! I had no fixed timings…I did short film direction, taught theatre, produced plays, directed videos, directed television shows, wrote television shows, wrote films, created tv properties for clients, ideated, acted,directed, produced and even sang! If I thought it…I did it!

From waiting hours for a shot, and waiting endlessly for the phone to ring I now had no empty minutes…and the phone rang off the hook!And I had to start saying no to work…so I could try something even more new and incredible !

And the travel… Aditya and I traveled every where and we’d pick a country and devour it! Days of research, months of planning and every trip was more exciting, more unforgettable and with more moments than I’d ever imagined possible…

And then last but definitely not least…I married the man of my dreams…someone I’d have only married 2/3 years post 2006 had the illness not happened and all that would have done would have made me miss out on living with my best friend, my partner in crime and my better half (in every way)!

So I didn’t survive… I live, I thrive and I win… and I wouldn’t change my life with all it’s ups and downs because it’s made me me…. and I’m pretty darn awesome!

 

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Fear ≠ Change

Fear-: to be afraid or to be apprehensive

When we are little we fear almost nothing. We find fire funny. We play with strays. We roll in the mud. We twist our parents ( big and fearful to others) around our little , tiny fingers and we don’t know defeat. We ask like we deserve something and we expect good things to happen to us- cos we are good, little people! And then as the years go by- we fear the ghosts under our bed, the shadows in a lane, the teacher who always shouts, the bully who hits us and fear takes over. We understand fear and we avoid confrontation because we are fearful of the result. And then later we start fearing leaving home, changing school, changing city, changing boyfriend, changing job and suddenly we equate fear with change!

There is no point fearing change because if there is any constant it is this- CHANGE IS CONSTANT and if you fear change then FEAR WILL BE CONSTANT TOO!

Every few years, whether it is my Geminian madness or my own crazy ambition- I have changed. From movies, to starting a company, to starting two companies, to teaching,to producing, to directing and now to expanding my own company.

Balancing Act Productions

Yes, Balancing Act Productions is expanding. From doing theatre and small amounts of Corporate events and workshops we will now take on more corporate work, off-sites, presentations, workshops, launches, opening, weddings, birthdays and events! I love events and I love the technical precision with which I’ve always run mine and I’d like to do more, plan to do more…WILL DO MORE!

A new team is setting up, new clients will be met…life will change and it’s terrifying !

But I’m going to equate fear with excitement and with the promise of starting something amazing… so wish me luck as I embark on yet another journey!

2013- start something new! (Check!)

P.s.-: Balancing Act Productions is expanding our Event management section and we are HIRING! Email info@balancingactproductions.com NOW!

Take a Chance on Change!

To start over…something must end. To say hello… sometimes we have to say goodbye.To laugh again…sometimes we need to have cried!

Divya Palat 

It’s so hard when things are over when we just keep holding on! I realised this when I produced my first set of shows and the run was complete and as everyone was about to go on stage , I was bawling in the bathroom not willing to let go. Since then ,it’s been 10 years and it’s still hard; but the public display of tears has significantly reduced and I’m learning to let go of incredible shows, amazing experiences and new found family to make way for even more incredible moments!

A lot of my girl friends are the same with relationships. Trapped with bad boyfriends, terrible husbands, abusive relationships- they aren’t even having a great time- but they’re scared of letting go- what if there’s nothing amazing in store for them next? What if this is as good as it gets? A friend of mine stayed with his cheating boy friend just because she was too afraid to actually go out and find someone again. “It’s too hard,” she told me ..”to start over!”

But even if we’re unwilling to change, scared to let go and holding on with all we’ve got- Life is way faster, smarter and trickier than all of us! Sometimes despite all our ‘clingy’ efforts , we’re going to have to change, have to let go, have to start over! And maybe the new is scary but may be it’s what we needed all along.

A perfect planner, I hated to lose control till I got sick and then paralysed and then suddenly had to allow nurses, doctors and family control of my choices, my life, my body! Suddenly in a moment, all that I was clinging to- my ridiculous plans, my naive thoughts on my career progress and my life ambitions had to be re-thought, re assessed and restarted overnight! And when you stop fearing the future and embrace the change then suddenly Life is an adventure and you can be part of an incredible journey. Had I resisted change, Balancing Act Productions (my company) would not be in it’s tenth year , I would not be married to my soulmate and best friend, and I’d never have walked again.

Sometimes Change makes all the right choices you were just too scared to make! Sometimes Change gets it right!

Trust!

Play On ( dedicated to all those I’ve ever worked with on stage and all those who love theatre!)

 

I have been doing professional theatre ever since I was 14 years old. Theatre has given me a home, given me a voice, given me confidence and even found me a husband!

‘Sound of Music,’ taught me to sing and I have been singing ever since. My taste in music is questionable…but nonetheless I’ll sing it for you!

The Verdict,’ is the first play Aditya and I produced. I remember booking all the halls for ‘The Verdict’ without having a single sponsor and then 4 days before we opened; Sponsors came pouring inand suddenly despite us having booked halls for 10 shows we were both suddenly on the phone 24×7 trying to find more free dates at halls! Theatre gave me the confidence to dream!

When we produced ‘The Graduate,’ I learnt I could teach new actors.All my theatre experience could help others and I loved it! Theatre gave me a sense of pride!

When I started ‘Imps’ no one in India had ever heard of Improvisational theatre. I made people realise that theatre was fun and most of the audiences we had had never been to a theatrebefore! Most of the actors hadn’t either! Theatre helped me meet new people!

With ‘My Way,’ I taught new writers how to write and helped new directors put up their first show! Some of them have become very talented directors today and I am proud!

In the ‘Wizard of Oz,’ with my pet puppy Cookie on stage to hold on to ,I learnt to believe in myself again! After my single attack of Multiple Sclerosis (ADEM), I was a little under confident in the spotlight. ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ had that spot light shining on me for hours. I faced my illness head on and won!

‘Starring You and Me!’ helped realise a cherished dream of acting opposite Aditya, my husband, rather than just directing him! I still remember the premiere night’s standing ovation! After all these years on stage…I still wept!

‘A Personal War- Stories of the Mumbai Terror Attacks,’ has won me awards the world over! I won ‘Best Fringe Show’ for a Free Showperformed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; ‘Best Director’ at the New York International Fringe Festival and ‘ Best Producer,’ ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Writer’ and ‘Best Performer’ most recently at the Sydney Fringe Festival. But here I learnt that I am the most thorough trip planner, the worst navigator and one of the best producers’ a team could hope for. We exhausted ourselves in performance but as a team we’re family! I made that happen!

With ‘Love Bytes,’ I learnt that underneath my tough exterior , I have a funny side. I loved making fun of myself and others and the audience seemed to love it too!

And with the new show ‘FourPlay’ I have enjoyed the comedy even more. I am taking risks on actors. I am enjoying myself more directing. This is a show I have written and over all these years with my new found confidence as a writer, comic and a director -I am pulling out all the stops!

I love theatre because every time I think I know myself and all that I am capable of; a new show reveals a side of me that I never knew I had.

Theatre has taught me that I am obsessive compulsive, thoughtful, irritable, unpredictable, stubborn, childish, mature and young! It has shown me that even during my best scripted plays that sometimes the best show isn’t the premiere show; it’s what you do every day at rehearsal!