Thoughts on the Hamil-film

The critically acclaimed musical “Hamilton” finally has made its way to screen format, though not exactly how creator Lin Manuel Miranda promised. Originally, the filmed version of the Broadway show was supposed to hit movie theaters in October 2020, but due to the recent events that have turned the world upside down, it was released to Disney’s new streaming service. (Does this make Eliza a Disney Princess now?) Like many of my thespian colleagues and non-theatrical friends, I was very excited to hear the news of “Hamilton” being filmed professionally in order to give more people an opportunity to experience the show. While I was unable to watch it on July 3rd when it first dropped, I was able to sit down with my parents a few nights ago to see what all the hype on the internet was about. 

I was like a good majority of my friends in high school who learned the entire cast album by heart when the musical first opened in 2015. To this day, I could sing every lyric of the show if you turned on the soundtrack. As I went through college, the popularity of “Hamilton” ebbed and flowed: some people were still very much on the A. Ham train and others were over it. I grew in my various crafts as a theatrical artist and also learned the ins and outs of film making. I am now two months removed from undergrad and five months removed from stepping inside a theater; I did not expect the grief of missing my chosen career path to hit me so hard while watching this recording. 

So much of my life has been saturated in theatre. Having performed, worked technically, designed and managed over 60 shows in the past ten years, it has become the thing that has connected me to people the most deeply. I have gained so much empathy by walking in the shoes of so many different characters while working alongside my fellow actors. I have learned how to be a quick and proactive problem solver as a technician. I have strengthened my confidence in myself through design. I have learned to lead with grace and understanding as a stage manager. Getting all this experience in theatre made the cross over to the film world so much more interesting. Cinema students got to share their knowledge with the theatre students and vice versa. We collaborated on such interesting ground because the basic desire to tell stories is what has made us pursue the career path we are on. Studying theatre and cinema made me read, think and respond to the world around me with a more critical eye. It is because of the experiences on and off the stage and screen that I am who I am today. Watching this musical reminded me why I so desperately want to get back to where I have spent the last ten years: theatre has made me feel like I can make a difference. 

“Hamilton” was a beautiful example of the art form of cinema making theatre shine. There is no recreating a true theatrical experience in someone’s living room on their tv, as theatre is an artform that is to be shared between artists and an audience. However, it is clear that the filmmakers wanted to do the best that they could to convey the work and talent that goes into a theatrical endeavor. Principle and ensemble characters alike were showcased beautifully, as well as the designers’ stunning masterpieces all coming together. It also gave the audience a chance to see how detailed performers dive into their characters by being able to see subtle facial expressions that are often missed when watching a live show. It is truly fantastic to see cinematic artists using their storytelling skills to support their theatrical counterparts. 

To the people who are upset/unimpressed/frustrated with the recording of live performance: imagine if this is the first way that someone is able to experience theatre. Due to countless circumstances, this could quite possibly be many peoples’ first experience with the world we miss so dearly. This could possibly be the spark that strikes in someone’s heart to create rather than to wallow in their current state of unrest in this ever changing environment. This could be someone’s gateway to a new form of self expression. We are walking a line between cinematic and theatrical art, but in reality, this could be a way for both artforms to evolve. Do I believe that cinema should replace live performance? Absolutely not. Nothing ever could. However, in the name of accessibility, I believe that creating opportunities for more people to see innovative theatrical performances could be vital in reviving the industry once our doors open again. 

One of my favorite lyrics that repeats itself throughout the show is, “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” There are so many times where it feels as if this isn’t the case. It seems that everyone is at odds and that the middle ground has been lost all together. Hatred and spite is hurled back and forth constantly. However, there are glimmers of hope, joy, grace and forgiveness. There are good things happening in this dark and uncertain world. There are opportunities to love each other, even when we don’t agree. There are chances to change and grow. There is still so much work to be done, but truly, look around. We are living through history, just as our founding fathers and the strong women who laid the foundation of our country. We can use art to build on another up and, hopefully soon, begin to heal wounds both old and new. 

Even if you’re not a theatre person, I highly recommend watching “Hamilton.” The work put in by everyone involved is outstanding and truly blessed my soul in this very shaky stage of life. Take heart, my fellow creators: we will return. 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

Novel Writing Update #1: First 24 Days of Drafting

I’m working on a novel! First the first few weeks of drafting, I kept a log of my progress. You’ll see it becomes inconsistent, which I hope to rectify for the next chunk of drafting. I hope you enjoy seeing my process/struggle/victories in drafting!

May 31st, 11:33pm/ Word count: 0

I’m starting it tomorrow. I have an outline and I am ready to make something happen. Did I do all my character bios like I wanted to? Nope. Am I going to push back my start date because of that? Nope. Is this first draft gonna suck? Probably. 

I decided to keep a daily log of what’s going on with this writing process to be a companion to my weekly video updates. Let’s see what happens. 

I should probably sleep before this all happens. 

June 1st, 11:13pm/Word count: 2076

Woof I’m only one day in and I almost let myself go to bed on the first day without hitting my word count goal. AND THEN I SMASHED IT. And, get this, I DIDN’T volunteer to work tomorrow morning which means I shouldn’t be tired all day and will maybe actually get more writing done. 

I was able to write about 900ish words on my lunch break today and finished the other words after Ben went back to Leavenworth. I look forward to seeing what can get done on a day my soul doesn’t belong to Walmart. 

June 2nd, 10:54am/Word count: 2076

The motivation to start today eludes me. Avery is coming over at 2pm to hang out/work on wedding stuff and I have a list of other responsibilities to get done as well. BUT this project is a responsibility to myself. I’m gonna go wash my face and start scene 2. 

9:04pm/Word count: 3194

I’m so good at finding things to be productive with that aren’t the thing that I actually need to get done. Wrote an article for the yearbook, pulled three pages worth of photos for said yearbook, and fixed my wedding registry. *Sigh* 600ish to go until the daily word count goal is met. 

Oh, also introduced a character that I already love and I think came up with a way for more tension to be created. YAY. 

11:11pm/Word count: 5333

WOOOOOOO WE SMASHED THAT GOAL TODAY. I was having such rough time throughout the day but BOOM six and a half Google Doc pages later I did almost DOUBLE what my daily goal is. *Pats self on back before falling into bed*

June 5th, 10:39pm/Word Count: 8345

We are a little bit behind and haven’t hit word count goals every day, and that’s okay. Right now, I don’t want to write in order, so I’m looking for a song to listen to on repeat as I try to get out 1,500 more words before bed. 

Update: found the song for scene 16. “Call It Off” by NateWantsToBattle. 

11:45pm/Word Count 9755

We didn’t hit the actual word count goal today but got close. Nothing else is gonna come out tonight. 

June 9th, 11:21pm/Word Count: 12,113

At some point I wrote another fifty or so words a few days ago, but today was the first day I was actually able to get more than 200 words out, let alone hit my word count. I was frustrated and sad. I’m sleeping a lot more right now because I think I’m dealing with a wave of depression. Motivation eludes me. However, tonight I smashed my word count goal after Ben went home from work. I can do this. 

June 12th, 9:52am/Word Count: 12,416

I’m not even gonna do the math to figure out where I’m supposed to be at word count wise. It’s okay. Instead of saying, “Wow, you should be way further along,” I am going to celebrate what I have done. Printing out twenty pages of words yesterday was inspiring. The words are not great, but they are mine. Let’s add more now 🙂 

10:57pm/Word count: 14,147

I almost didn’t do it. I wrote 500 words before work, 400ish during my lunch break and came home to my diploma on the kitchen table and my body being very very tired from work. I watched two episodes of “Dead to Me” with Mom and almost decided to say, “Ah, I don’t need to write more today. It’s okay, I did enough.” But that wouldn’t be keeping a promise to myself. I sat down, I did the work, and I finished scene 5. 1731 words today. I’m really proud of myself. 

June 13th, 10:42am/Word Count: 14,591

444 words before another eight hour shift! I have told Ben that he must keep me accountable to my writing today. We shall see where my other 1300 words for the day come from later. 

11:17pm/Word Count: 15,873

God bless my sweet future husband for sitting at the kitchen table with me while I wrote out 1,282 more words after work today. We had watched two episodes of “Star Wars: Rebels,” which was a big mistake in keeping us somewhat awake after work. However, the 15 minutes I was going to work at the table turned into about 40 minutes of somewhat good progress. We’re getting to the middle of Act 1; I am going to have to cut out so much crap from this XD 

*few days without updating this log*

June 16th, 4:33pm/Word Count: 19,138

I am so close to 20,000 words. I’ve already hit my word goal today, but I’ll most likely start a new scene later tonight. It took a while to get myself motivated to finish scene 9, which I was starting to get traction on last night before hitting a wall. However, this afternoon I really got into a rhythm and knocked out 1807 words. I have learned throughout this process that I work so much better when the sun is up and I start to shut down once the night time hits. I’m quite proud of where I’m at right now in this process, even if I’m not as far as I would have liked to be word count wise. #ProgressIsProgress

June 24th, 2:26pm/Word Count: 21,801

It’s fair enough to say I fell off the wagon. And that’s okay. I’m giving myself grace because I have been dealing with work, wedding planning and various meetings that will determine my future. I refuse to beat myself up or do the math to see where I should be. This is a stage of life where it is very difficult to be doing such a massive project like this. However, I feel that after going through this month that I can set myself up for better success going into July. I plan to use the NaNoWriMo website for Camp NaNoWriMo, where my goal for the month will be 30,000 instead of 50,000. That goal is much more attainable in the season of life than 50,000. I’ll be going on a road trip during that time, which alway provides time for writing. It is so easy to want to be discouraged, but instead, I am very proud of myself. 

Let’s keep doing hard things.

Until Next Time,

Abby

I Will Never Understand

A week ago I started a draft for this post, which originally was going to be about how social media is killing friendships. In light of all that happened during the last weekend of May 2020 though, I deleted that draft. While it’s something I believe in, I need to be honest as I have been wrestling with various thoughts over the past seven days. 

I will never understand. 

I will never understand why the lines in the sand have been drawn because of different skin colors. 

I will never understand the fear of being shot if I get pulled over by a police officer. 

I will never understand what it’s like to be labeled as a “thug” before even opening my mouth.

I will never understand the fear of waiting to see if my husband will come home after hearing that a black man has been killed on the news. 

I will never understand the struggle. 

I will never understand the hurt fully. 

But I hurt. 

On Sunday, I cried when I talked to Ben about one of the men who is going to be a groomsman in our wedding. His name is Adarius and he is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. He’s kind, caring, loving and very talented. You will never meet a more gentle soul, and despite the fact that he is an amazing human, he has lived in fear because he is black. He and his girlfriend, Jules, have experienced hatred because they don’t have the same skin color. Some will say, “Well, this has been going on for years; some people are just racist.” That doesn’t cut it anymore. The people are done. The camel’s back has broken. 

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know who is going about this the “right” way or the “wrong” way. What I do know is this: Jesus loves everyone, but He made a point to emphasize people groups. He loved children. He loved poor people. He loved tax collectors. He loved prostitutes. He loved Jews. He loved Gentiles. He loved people who did not look or think like Him, and He called out the leaders who were oppressing people groups.  In Ephesians 2:14-16, Paul talks about the Jews and the Gentiles coming together and making amends. If we wanna talk about lines in the sand being drawn, the division between the Jews and Gentiles was extremely hostile. But look what Paul writes here: “For he himself [Jesus] is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Regardless of whether or not you believe in Jesus, the idea of Him breaking down walls is what we need so desperately now in our world. Erase the lines in the sand. Listen to those who are hurting. Admit when you don’t understand. Ask questions humbly. Be a safe place. 

I am grateful I got to share the stage of Adarius. I’m grateful for his light in my life. I’m grateful that he has been a sounding board for me and Ben and so many other people. I’m grateful for the many WWE nights with him and the boys. I’m grateful for his transparency. I’m grateful for his voice.I’m grateful to know him, and I’m grateful that I know so many other strong, resilient, and passionate black men and women. 

I will never understand, but I will do my best every day to learn. 

#BlackLivesMatter

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

If I Wrote My Own “Girl, Wash Your Face”

There’s a lady named Rachel Hollis that I’ve been following for a few years now. She’s famous for her motivational speaking, trendy blogging and her very transparent books about her life. “Girl, Wash Your Face” was a huge break out for her and it’s one I read many times during college and have listened to it again during this post-undergrad limbo. Each chapter of the book looks at a different topic from her life, talking about how she learned from it, and tips to help others going through the same things. This got me thinking: if I were to write my own “Girl, Wash Your Face,” what would my chapters be? So, I made a list. 

There would be a chapter about developing a love of Star Wars in middle school, right around the time your elementary school friends have made their defining cliques that don’t include you. This would probably include a little shout-out of the time I was peer-pressured by my friends to say yes to a boy who was asking me to be his girlfriend. 

There would be a chapter about when I decided to join my brother at home to homeschool with my Mom and the doors that were opened up through that experience.

There would be a chapter about my experience doing community theater nonstop for seven years and the dozens of shows that shaped me into the person I am today.

There would be a chapter about starting college as a fifteen year old. It would depict the first semester of being the “cool homeschooler” all the way through graduating at age eighteen with my first degree. 

There would be a buffer chapter about my experiences with learning how to drive. That was a riot. (I had to take the permit test five times.)

There would be a separate chapter about the last year I spent in community college post-graduation, where I worked in the art lab, took some studio classes, and agonized over where to transfer to for the second part of my studies. This would include the story of how I wanted to go to one specific school for four years, had a mental breakdown in McDonald’s with my parents, and that afternoon went and applied for Missouri Western. 

There would be a chapter about my hesitancy of having female friends and being a “guy’s girl.” This would also include the idea of “friend crushes,” which I totally believe are a thing.

There would be a chapter about my first bizarre year of undergrad: the roommate drama, the ice storm during tech week, and the British comedy that made me and my buddy very stressed at breakfast. 

There would be a chapter about my obsession with personality types, how the obsession helped me understand myself and slowly but surely except why I am the way I am. 

There would be a chapter about break-ups and how I wish I had seen myself more worthy of value. It would talk about letting go, but also that it’s okay that you share wonderful memories with someone who hurt you. 

There would be a chapter about having to set my pride aside and drop doing from a double major in Theatre/Cinema and Animation down to just an animation minor because of a conversation after a Directing Showcase. 

There would be a chapter about starting antidepressant medication about four weeks after a rough breakup and the roller coaster of emotions I still battle when it comes to taking a little white pill every day to help my brain. 

There would be a chapter about how my best friend accepted Jesus and the radical transformation I got to witness. 

There would be a chapter about the semester I first started dealing with suicidal thoughts. 

There would be a chapter about how I proved to myself that I can play a leading lady in a musical and how it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had as a performer. 

There would be a chapter about being a virgin all throughout college and the massive struggle it is to remain one until marriage. (I would need to wait on fully writing this chapter until after this August because alas, I am still on that struggle bus.)

There would be a chapter about saying goodbye to my department at MWSU and finding myself working at Walmart during a pandemic that turned my final year of college upside down. 

There would be a chapter about how you don’t need to change who you are to be loved by people. The people who are most important will be the ones who stick with you no matter what. 

 

Maybe someday I’ll write this book, who knows. Right now though, I’m working on a novel! You can follow my progress through vlogs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe7MNPmgaHo&list=PL-7Cp86raoS6SQtP7nRt5l6zi1Uw5Kf1D 

Feel free to join me in this creative endeavor! I’m always looking for creative accountability partners!

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

62

What do you say when sixty-two teachers lose their jobs? How do you process the idea that sixty-two families must reevaluate their livelihoods? What do you do when you get emails to give course evaluations when all but one of the five teachers you had this semester has been let go? How can you celebrate the milestone of finishing a degree when the school that gave you your diploma has decided to get rid of the degree you just earned? When are you able to walk through the halls of your alma mater without experiencing a tremendous amount of pain for what has been lost? There’s no easy answer to any of these questions. For some of them, there never may be one. 

The photo above represents sixty-two faculty members at my school who were recently let go due to drastic budget cuts. Whole departments have been wiped out, one of them being the theatre department, and still more people will continue to lose their jobs on top of these sixty-two. It’s easy to see human beings as a tally mark; just another number. But oh, there is so much that goes into that tally mark. 

You sometimes think your teachers aren’t real people; they just live at the school, right? However, teachers have hopes, dreams, fears, families and responsibilities that don’t involve their classroom. As I drew out each tally for this blog banner picture, I wept. The weight of seeing how many lives have to be restarted makes every little issue I’ve had in the past month seem petty. In the end though, these lives boiled down to numbers. When you simply don’t have the means to make ends meet, something has to be let go.  

I understand that my school isn’t the only school dealing with this. Many schools across the country are having to make impossible decisions about funding that isn’t there. It doesn’t lessen the tragedy though. There have been times where I’ve scrolled through Facebook and saw posts about schools that were trying desperately to save certain programs. I just never thought it would be my school dealing with it. 

There’s nothing I can write that could help this situation. For the past two weeks, I’ve tried to come up with something, anything…but there are no words that haven’t already been said. It’s sad. It’s infuriating. It’s unfair. It’s Teacher Appreciation week and all I want is to be able to help fix this mess…but there is nothing I can do but tell them thank you. 

There aren’t enough words to express how much my teachers have done for me. It takes a special kind of soul to be willing to dedicate their life to teaching the next generation. To the educators at my university and every other teacher who is in this same crappy boat: thank you. Thank you for showing up for your students. Thank you for pouring your lives out for us. Thank you for the lessons in and outside the classroom. Thank you for being there. And to every student whose favorite teacher has lost their job: reach out. Remind them of the good they did in your life. Your teachers deserve the encouragement. 

I am ready for this next chapter of life because of every teacher I have ever had, but especially those that I had in undergrad. Thank you all: without you, I wouldn’t be standing where I am today. As you begin your new chapters, I pray that your former students pour out as much love to you as you did for us.

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

How “Toy Story 4” Helped Me Grieve

Before starting this post, I want to give some shout-outs:

To Ben, Nick, Lexie, Nathan, Angel, Noah, Ryan, Mycah: Thank you for being amazing fellow TCD student leaders. I am honored to have worked with you all. 

To Alyx, Lexie (again), Trinity and Devin: Thank you for your willingness to lead. I am so proud of you four. 

To Manon: Thanks for making us journal digitally for Acting 2. 

To Ryan (again): Thanks for letting me emotionally vomit on you about this movie. 

 

I’ve been avoiding watching “Toy Story 4” for a really long time. I thought that the third movie was perfect and the fact that they made a fourth one was just a cash grab. I love Pixar, but I did not go out of my way to watch this movie. In fact, I low-key boycotted it. I was irritated when the trailer dropped and refused to spend money on a ticket to see it in theaters. 

It’s a Thursday night, one of my only nights at home with my family since I work evening shifts in the midst of Covid-19. We decided that we would watch something in Disney+, but we were slightly indecisive. I had suggested “Lady and the Tramp” or “Toy Story 4,” and Dad was in a Pixar mood, so the toys won out. I don’t know what I threw out the movie I had been avoiding for so long, but we all sat down to see what it was all about. 

For some context, I’ve been working 32-38ish hour weeks at the grocery store the past three weeks instead of doing school and theatre full time like I used to before the pandemic hit. On top of this, I also teach five students music lessons and online art classes on occasion. Oh, I’m also planning my wedding that will hopefully still take place in August. There’s a lot happening, so I haven’t fully processed the grief I’ve had festering for a while. Now, I thought I had gone through my grieving process and that it was done and over. I wouldn’t deal with it again, right? I had sobbed when I left the dorm I had lived in for two years. I held onto Sweet Ben when we heard the news of our final show at Missouri Western being canceled. I took long, tear-filled walks on the days I got emails telling me every internship/job I had applied for post-graduation had been suspended until late 2020 or 2021. I had gotten it all out with several cries. The grieving process was something I could check off my list.  

 

Ha. Ha ha ha. Silly me for thinking the grief had passed. 

 

On the day I’m writing this, I slept through a Zoom meeting with my theatre honor society where we announced the new E-Board for next year, which set me off on a very long, emotional evening. I had taught for three hours that morning and spent another two hours on homework, so my brain was fried. A 20 minute nap turned into an hour and a half, which led to me missing the meeting and crying on the kitchen floor for about fifteen minutes before eating dinner. I was angry with myself for sleeping through something that I was in leadership for and had a terribly hard time getting to a point where I was not beating myself up. I was embarrassed and was angry that I had switched off my alarm for something I had been looking forward to that whole day. But you know what? It was a 15 minute meeting. It was not the end of the world. But for me, it was a “last” that I missed. (Wow, tearing up again while writing this.)

An hour after this mini-depressive episode, we started watching the movie. It was fun to understand the context of the memes that have been circling around for a while and geek out over the gorgeous animation. BUT HOLY COW WOW WOW WOW I DIDN’T EXPECT FOR THIS FILM TO RIP MY HEART OUT. 

Without trying to drop too many spoilers, this movie sums up exactly how I am feeling about leaving the undergrad years. Woody, who is the protagonist across all four of these movies, is trying desperately to fulfill his purpose of being a toy by taking care of all the people around him. In doing this though, he sometimes forces what he thinks is correct instead of letting things naturally play out. You can even see how exhausted it makes him, but he keeps pushing through because of his love for his fellow toys and his kid. 

MAJOR SPOILER COMING IN THE MOST VAGUE WAY I CAN POSSIBLY WRITE IT BUT IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY SPOILERS WHATSOEVER SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH! 

*****************In the end, a choice is made that shows that these films truly were Woody’s story, not Andy’s. It shows that leaders can move on from what/who they once loved to new stages of life that could be much more fulfilling, even though it is majorly bittersweet. There were so many moments in the third act of this movie that I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, this exactly how I am feeling about leaving school.” In the end, Woody got the best happy ending for him, even though it meant leaving his previous normal.************************

 

(Spoilers done)

 

In the midst of this surreal time, Ben and my two other E-Board members, Lexie and Nick, have been working hard to set up the up and coming leaders for success in this coming year. Three of the four of us are graduating, leaving Lexie with a brand new team of bright, talented and thoughtful leaders, all of whom were freshmen this past year. There was a lot of anxiety in the first few weeks of this mess of who was going to step up, but across our organizations for theatre and film, there is a rise of leaders who will carry on with the work the upperclassmen started. I have full confidence in the students who were voted into leadership and those who will continue to lead without the title. It has been a blessing to see the students I got the opportunity to love and pour into over the past few months step up to the plate, and I know they will be wonderful. 

Moving on is so hard. A year ago, the mega-scary-depressed version of me would have been relieved that the rest of the school year had been canceled, but now, it’s so hard to say good-bye because of how wonderful the last seven months have been. But I believe that while college was a great thing, I am moving on to an even better adventure. It doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye, but there is comfort in knowing that the things are being taken care of by some awesome people. Good leaders understand when they have trained other leaders that it’s okay for them to move on so that those new leaders can take the reins. I believe that the senior class helped raise up some awesome underclassmen this year. We can rest easy knowing that even better times are to come, even when things look uncertain. 

Thanks to “Toy Story 4,” I started to truly process my grief of my senior year being cut short. Is the process over? No, and it will probably take a long time to get through it. But now, I know that there’s at least one cowboy out there who understands the exact feelings I am wrestling with. If you haven’t watched this movie year, I highly suggest that you give this underrated film a watch. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a film I desperately needed in this weird time we know as April 2020. 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

 

 

Pro Tips for Grocery Shopping During a Pandemic

Ever since this pandemic kicked me off campus and canceled all of my theatre jobs, I decided to get a job at a grocery store. The last time I worked an eight hour shift that didn’t involve being in a theater was in high school when I was working weddings. In a few weeks, I’ve gone from being a full time student to working about 36 hours a week pulling groceries for online orders, sorting crates, and delivering purchases to customers’ cars. It hasn’t been a huge amount of time, but I’ve picked up a lot of insight on what it’s like for employees dealing with their everyday work life.

On top of this, I’ve seen how hard it can be when stores are dealing with high stress situations. In normal circumstances, there are usually certain times of the day that are when things are rough on employees, sort of like a rush hour. However, if you haven’t heard yet, the world is dealing with this really weird pandemic, which means that people are panicking. When people panic, it tends to make mundane tasks like grocery shopping a lot more difficult. To combat this craziness, I have comprised a list of Ten Pro Tips to help you have a successful grocery run. 

 

  • Keep a two week stock pile in your house and try and go back to the store every few days to refresh it. This is a tip I learned from my future in-laws who are currently living in Italy for Ben’s momma’s work (yeah, they’ve been in much stricter lock-down a lot longer than we have). Fill your grocery cart ONCE with a huge stock pile, then try and go back every few days to restock a few things. This keeps you from having to hull a bunch of groceries every few weeks and gives you a better chance of getting the things you’d like. 
  • Even if you aren’t as spooked, please respect social distancing. Fun fact: employees are told to mega respect social distancing, as in, we could get in trouble if we don’t abide by it. Keep this in mind, as well as the fact that other people are more anxious about this situation than you might be. 
  • Go early, and don’t get upset at grocery workers when you can’t find what you came to get right before they are about to close. The store I work at tries to restock throughout the day, but it’s really hard to keep things like eggs and toilet paper on the shelves. Do yourself a favor and go early in the day so you can get what you need! 
  • Unless you have a household with more than six people and you all drink milk every day, you don’t need to get three gallons of milk. Milk expires, y’all. 
  • If it’s cold outside, dress warmly, because you might be standing outside for a bit. A lot of stores are starting to limit the number of people that come into a store, which means that you might have to wait outside for a bit. 
  • Wear a mask if you are dealing with cough (even if it’s a cough that is being caused by seasonal allergies.) It’s not fun when you’re a cashier and have a customer cough in your area. It’ll put everyone else at ease. 
  • Make sure you wash any produce you buy right when you get home. This is just a rule of life in general to follow, more than likely a lot of people have touched the fruits and veggies you just bought. Go give them a good rinse and a scrub once you get home with you haul. 
  • Please just go by yourself. I know your husband gets side-tracked while shopping and it’s helpful when you go with him, but please try to limit the number of people per household going to the store to one person. This allows more people to be in the store and more families across the board being able to get what they need. Now, there are some cases where it is not possible (single moms with kiddos, for example) but if it is doable for your household, please follow this tip. 
  • Check smaller stores for toilet paper. Big stores run out a lot faster than smaller stores. CVS, Walgreens, even gas stations; try there if your favorite chain store is out. 
  • If you have a senior citizen or immunocompromised friend in your life, offer to go shopping for them.  Take the time to serve people who are a higher risk than you by going shopping for them. It’s a task that can bless someone’s home and might keep them safe from this nasty illness. 

 

 

Stay safe out there, friends. I know I am personally struggling a lot to hang onto joy during this wacky time, but this will end at some point. Let me know if you have any tips that I didn’t mention here!

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Life Goes On

I’ve had two weeks to write something. Anything. I’ve made three different outlines for blog posts about dealing with the grief of losing the last two months of a normal college experience, handling depressive episodes or how it’s okay to be sad when life gets turned upside down. But I couldn’t get anything to work. Processing has been brutal and I feel as if I am just now getting some stability in a severely unstable world. 

Everyone is dealing with this temporary normal differently. For some, it’s a major disruption that is causing a lot of anxiety. For others, it’s a much needed reset time. For me, it’s a bit of both. I love planning for future events. Having the knowledge of what is coming makes me feel more at peace with my busy life. I was so excited for the four different shows I was working on at school and in Kansas City. Within 48 hours, they were all canceled. On top of this, the wonderful things I had planned for the last few weeks of school is gone. While friendships remain, the chapter of my life as an on-campus college student is done. I was preparing myself to say goodbye, but having to leave the way we all had to was not the way I wanted it all to end. On the flip side though, being home has given me time to reconnect with myself. I was flirting with the line of burn out but when everything came to an abrupt end, so did the burn out. I have gotten time to rest, recharge and reassess. There are countless blessings in this insane time of life. 

I’ve done my best to take care of myself, and the best way I know to do that is having structure. I was offered a job at Walmart which now has me working 32 hours a week serving my community. I’m able to reconnect with old music students as well as new ones as I explore the amazing world of Zoom teaching. Side bar: I literally had three Zoom meetings within five hours of each other yesterday and it was the trippiest thing ever. I have time to work with the social media team of my department to make our Theatre, Cinema and Dance pages engaging for everyone stuck in their homes. I’ve made exercising a high priority and I can tell that my body very much appreciates it. While this is not how I would have liked my last semester of college to go, life still goes on, and life is good. 

My biggest pro-tip for this season (or any season): allow yourself to feel. If you need to cry, do it. If you need to laugh, find some funny youtube videos. If you need to be angry, call a friend you trust. However, do not buy into the lie that you shouldn’t feel a certain way. Your feelings are valid and you need to allow yourself to process them. 

Life is uncertain and that’s okay. We’re all in this together and no matter how scary things seem, we will make it through.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Pray Specifically

One of my biggest pet peeves is the preaching of the “Prosperity Gospel.” To summarize, prosperity gospel boils down to this: if you believe in God, He will bless you and give you everything you pray for. Here’s the kicker with that: what if the answer to your prayer is, “no.” What happens if your faith is based on the idea that God is a genie who is going to grant your every wish? What happens when you pray for a giant house and nice cars and you never get them? Does that mean that God isn’t real? You can see how damaging this mindset can be, however, there are hundreds of churches in America perpetuating this idea. 

*deep breath* But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. For the longest time, I struggled with my prayer life because I felt guilty for asking for things from God. When I prayed, I didn’t want God to think I was only talking to Him because I wanted Him to give me stuff I wanted. Due to this mind set, I stopped praying all together for a while. Looking back, I think to myself, “Wow, that was a super bonkers way of dealing with this issue.” But y’all, it was a struggle, especially during my early years of high school. 

Fast forward to the year before I transferred to Missouri Western. I was at a loss. The plans I had been holding onto with an iron grip had dissolved completely. I was back to square one and needed to figure out where I was going to school. I remember having a conversation with a friend about my dilemma and they asked about how I was praying about the situation. I answered, “I mean, I’m praying about it.” Their response was, “But how are you praying?” It was here that I realized that while I had begun asking for things in my prayers again, I was being very passive about it. I began to pray specifically. I prayed for clarity, peace and understanding for the future. Sure enough, as I began to pray this way, the decision making process became so much easier. Yes, I still had to make difficult choices, but the more I was in tune with asking God for insight as to what is the best option the more clear things became. 

I very recently went to visit a potential grad school with Sweet Ben. It was a trip that we have been planning for months and over the last few weeks, I began to try and scare myself out of going through with it. As the time came closer to make the huge trek down to Texas, I prayed, “Lord, give us obvious ‘yeses’ or ‘nos’ on this trip. If this is not where we are supposed to be headed, put up a gigantic road block for us.” Over the course of the beautiful day of visiting the school, we were encouraged by several faculty members and two grad students who were assigned to get to know us. We discovered that the two students were Christians and were able to find out about the fairly large faith-based population in the department. On top of all of this, Ben and I stayed with one of my mom’s cousins and her family, which was an absolute joy. Knowing that there is a community of family and soon-to-be friends at a school that has the sort of education we are looking for was a huge answer to prayer. There was a huge sense of peace driving back to Kansas City. Before heading out of town, we stopped at a local coffee shop and I sat there with an overwhelming feeling of being at home. While we haven’t been accepted to the grad program yet and there is still some fogginess about the future, I was confident that our prayers had been answered. 

Shocker to Past Abby: it is totally acceptable to pray for what you want! James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” God wants to bless us. He has a huge desire to lavish His love over us. He is a good Father who is waiting to hear from us. Now, is he just a wish-granting factory? No. However, He’s the Dad that wants to give His kids the best He has to offer. This is why sometimes the answer is “no.” There was a time a few semesters ago that I was praying desperately for a job that would help relieve a huge financial burden that I ended up not getting. I was upset for a while, until I realized that the job would have taken up a lot of physical and mental energy that I did not have to spare. I am now grateful that I was protected from that job, even though it seemed like a great thing at the time that I was applying for. I write this to encourage you to pray specifically for what is on your heart. Pray with boldness and humility. Pray with the knowledge that God will answer, and pray for the wisdom to hear His response with an open heart. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

Leap Day 2020 Time Capsule

I think it’s fun that 2020 is a Leap Year. It makes the year all the more exciting! Four years ago, I made a “Leap Year Time Capsule” on this blog, so I went back to the original post to see what I wrote. Now it’s time to update the time capsule in hopes that I am still writing on this website in 2024 (that does not seem like a real year). 

 

2016 Abby’s Leap Day List

Favorite Color(s): Green and Purple

Favorite TV Show: Right now, The Office

Favorite Movie: Star Wars

Favorite Musical: HAMILTON

Favorite bible verse: 1 Timothy 4:12

Favorite show I’ve been in: Tie between Mulan and Godspell

Favorite Class: Dark Room Photography this semester, but Design last Fall was amazing.

Favorite Teacher: Carlos Bass

Favorite art medium: Graphite and really good colored pencils

Favorite show you saw this past year? Newsies

Currently reading: “Trust me, I’m Lying” and “Taming of the Shrew”

Best place you’ve traveled: San Diego (TAKE ME BACK)

Education so far: About to finish my associate’s degree at Maple Woods this spring.

Biggest achievement?: Almost finishing my associates degree before I turn 18

Top 5 favorite pieces of art you’ve done?

Screen Shot 2020-02-28 at 5.04.43 PM

Lowest time?: October 2014-July 2015

Highest time?: New friendships during Mulan

Present Goals? Finish raising money for my missions trip; Get my portfolio ready for art school; figure out exactly how I’m going to get my BFA; not fail College Algebra

 Favorite thing about Abby?: I haven’t given up and I won’t quit now 🙂

Let’s see what has changed!

 

2020 Abby’s Leap Day List

Favorite Color(s): Green, Blue and Red

Favorite TV Show: “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (You’re currently watching the final season on Disney Plus!)

Favorite Movie: “Marriage Story” and “The Empire Strikes Back”

Favorite Musical: “Come From Away”

Favorite Play: “Proof” 

Favorite Bible verse: 1 Timothy 4:12

Favorite show I’ve been in: “Crazy for You” as Polly Baker

Favorite show I’ve designed: Projections for “Newsies”

Favorite Class: Directing 1 last semester 

Favorite Teacher: There are way too many good ones, but as far as classes for this semester go, it’s a hard tie between Manon Halliburton and Paul Hindemith.

Favorite art medium: Adobe Photoshop Sketchbook with my moody Apple Pencil

Favorite show you saw this past year? “The Lighting Thief Musical”

Currently reading: “A Challenge for the Actor” by Uta Hagen

Best place you’ve traveled: Rome, Italy to visit Sweet Ben’s family

Education so far: Getting ready to graduate with the BA in Theatre/Cinema (63 days!)

Biggest achievement?: Designing and performing in “Little Women”/ The second to last performance of “Crazy for You”

Top 5 favorite pieces of art you’ve done?

Lowest time?: Spring 2019

Highest time?: Being engaged (so now!)

Present Goals? Manage my many design projects; Get my portfolio ready for grad school; figure out exactly how I’m going to get work after undergrad; not fail Spanish 

Ten Year Dream/Goal: To be a PhD in Theatre and enjoy the work that I am doing. 

 

Favorite thing about Abby?: I have endured so much and truly am thriving. No matter how low life gets, I never stop pushing forward. I am so happy that I am not where I expected to be four years ago. In fact, I am so much better off than I ever could have imagined. 

 

 

It’s fun to see how much things have changed in four years. Enjoy your extra 24 hours this year! 

 

Until Next Time,

Abby