Monthly Archives: March 2019

21 Life Lessons

Last year when I turned twenty years old, I had an existential crisis in a Starbucks in St. Joe. I have wonderful memories of that day, and also some not so great ones. I have to say, my year of being twenty was a lot like my birthday last year: full of wonderful memories, along with some not so great ones. The past 365 days have been some of the most character building days of my life. On this day of starting up a new year of life, I’d like to share twenty-one life lessons that I have learned over the course of my time here on earth thus far.

Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay. However, that does not give you an excuse to not be kind.

Breathe. It’s something I don’t do nearly enough. Breathe to support yourself when you are singing. Breathe when you’re on stage delivering lines. Breathe through the stress that will at some point pass.

You deserved to be treated like a queen; settle for nothing less. 

You can’t take words back; think before you speak.

Learn to apologize, but do not apologize for things that are not your fault.

Your casting in a show, your position in a job, your grade on a math test or your GPA do not define who you are as a person.

Being a Christian is not easy, and anyone who tells you that all your problems will go away when you accept Jesus is a big old liar.

When you’re frustrated, take ten seconds to step back and think as to why someone else is thinking differently than you.

Meekness is not weakness. Meekness actually shows are strong you are.

Know where your personality flourishes and find a work environment that best suits you. I do not belong in an office setting. It makes me go bonkers and I feel so unproductive when I am trapped behind a desk.

The arts are so important and no matter what others tell you, never stop creating.

Do not hold onto your plans with tight fists. Instead, hold them with open palms, allowing them to be remolded or tossed out if needed.

God wants you to be happy and enjoy life. He created so much awesome stuff; He wants us to enjoy it!

There is no shame in seeking help to improve your mental health.

Not everyone is going to support you. Listen to your opposition, but do not allow it to sway you. Instead, listen to the people who are in your corner rooting you on, and encourage them to succeed as well.

Sometimes, you have to be the bad cop. When you do so, do it with grace and understanding. No one is perfect; deliver correction with gentleness.

Practice makes permanent.

Sometimes, you need to do a better job of trusting your gut feeling.

Reading out loud is one of the best ways to share community with another person.When someone walks into your home, offer them a beverage. If they’re sad, offer a hot one, making sure to add an extra spoonful of sugar.

No matter how badly I mess up, I am still loved beyond my own understanding.

Never stop learning, my friends. Whether you’re eight or eighty-eight, there’s still so much to life that is left to be discovered. I look forward to seeing what all I’ll be learning over this next 365 days of life!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

I Remember

I remember the first time sitting in a college class, wishing I didn’t have braces.

I remember the first time I walked into the art lab in the humanities building.

I remember the first time I was in love.

I remember the first time I was kissed.

I remember the first time my heart was broken.

I remember the second, third, and fourth time, too.

I remember the first time I knew I truly loved performing.

I remember how it felt to be labeled incorrectly.

I remember the first time I thought about him in a different light.

I remember the first time I drove a car.

I remember the first time I felt the utter shock of paralyzing fear.

I remember the first time my heart skipped a beat when he said, “I love you” for the first time.

I remember the first time I got a C in a class.

I remember the first time I realized that my grades don’t define me.

I remember the first time I felt the shame of sharing my darkest secrets.

I remember the first time I felt truly empty and broken being touched by a guy.

I remember the first time I felt truly safe while he held my hand.

I remember the first time I felt worthless.

I remember the first time I felt like I mattered to someone else.

I remember the first time I let go of my plans.

I remember summers of coffee runs and jam sessions.

I remember matching converses and sunglasses.

I remember throwing up in Applebee’s from stress.

I remember the thrill of being cast in my first college show.

I remember the first time I wandered into the scene shop and learned how to build stairs.

I remember saying no in the doctor’s office.

I remember saying no again.

I remember caving and getting a little bit of help.

I remember the argument that followed.

I remember the first time I felt the guilt that plagued me for almost a year.

I remember the first time I cried under the tree outside of Potter.

I remember the first time I thought, “You have to tell him about Jesus.”

I remember the first time I went up to the prop loft.

I remember the first time I saw myself on screen as a film actress.

I remember the first time a person told me I had a beautiful soprano voice.

I remember the second time I felt blindsided by heart break.

I remember the first time we got snowed in.

I remember the first real hug I received from him.

I remember the last time a gospel conversation occurred.

I remember the first time I was truly honest with my doctor.

I remember the first time I wrapped a pill bottle with washi tape.

I remember the first time in years I felt truly in love with the Lord.

I remember running around the house with the pure joy of celebration.

I remember the sound of Taylor Swift and the smell of burning polaroids on New Year’s Day.

I remember the first time we held hands while walking across campus.

I remember the first time we talked about Potter Prayer.

I remember the first time I felt scared to continue.

I remember the first time I thought about swallowing all my antidepressants in one go.

I remember driving down the highway blasting “Smoke and Guns.”

I remember joy.

I remember pain.

I remember both the good and bad.

I remember the countless times that people have told me that everything happens for a reason.

There are times I have wanted to give up, but then I remember that my mission is not yet complete: there are still more memories to be experienced. For better or worse, God is not finished with me yet, and He is a Father who remembers His people.

 

“For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”

Deuteronomy 4:31

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Revisits: Coffee Shop Romance

Do you ever have those days where you think, “Man, I’d really like to be lazy today and plagiarize the writing I did as a self-reflective exercise back in 2017?”

…is that just me?

*shrugs*

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I’m currently working to get a stockpile of writing together so that I can have time to have intentional rest one day a week. I’m trying quite hard to make Fridays my Sabbath, but wouldn’t you know, Abby posts her blogs on Fridays. And by, “post her blogs on Friday,” it means she is often finishing said blog close to 11:59pm on Friday evenings (and sometimes posting them a few minutes after midnight).

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I decided to get a bit of inspiration (and possibly a ton of material) for future blog posts by digging through my Google Drive. I had two writing projects I tried to complete my senior year of high school into my first year at Missouri Western: one document titled, “2017” and the other “365.” The point of these projects was to write every day, and I found that by the end of both documents, I was dealing with waves of depression that stole my joy and motivation. In honor of the rediscovery of some light hearted and not-so-light hearted pieces of writing I found, I have decided to start a new category on my site called, “Revisits.” In these posts, I will be doing a sort of commentary on my younger self/older pieces of writing. This first tidbit of writing was done January 3rd, 2017 at a coffee shop called Black Dog, which is one of my favorite places in the KC area. For point of reference, the original writing is in bold, and my additions are in italics. Enjoy!

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January 3rd

Coffee shops are one of the most calming places I find myself in these days, second only to used bookstores. Man, I wish we had more bookstores in St. Joe. Can I just pick up my college and drop it in the middle of Kansas City?  Not the chain stores like Starbucks or Caribou, though my Barry Road Starbucks is still a place I frequent often. I’m talking one of a kind coffee places, where you never find the same decor in another place. Places that welcome visitors with one of a kind experiences and flavors to try. Places that are crowded with people from all walks of life, whether hipsters, business men, college students or old couples enjoying the afternoon together. Places that you can plop down in a nice leather chair, sit back with a house cup, and enjoy the atmosphere. I’m sitting in the coffee shop I wrote this in, and I can confirm, there is a table of hipsters directly in front of me, a bar stool that is being occupied by a businessman, a girl doing some sort of medical homework across the room, and an older couple just ordered two black coffees. I also am indeed drinking from a house cup and am enjoying the organized chaos. However, I am sitting in a metal chair and that’s a little disappointing.

I like going to these places to people watch. Strangers can be truly fascinating things. Please tell me other people do this. I’m not crazy, right? Before I started this monologue of coffee shops, I was sitting in a corner facing away from all the people. What’s the fun in that? You can’t observe the life going on around you. Granted, now I’m in a corner room where the subjects I can watch are the ones going to and from the bathroom and the guy who is most likely a college student sitting about 10 feet away. Currently sitting at a table right outside this corner room. It was full today, so I couldn’t claim my favorite chair. He’s very interested in his phone instead of his computer and he’s thrown his head back in frustration a few times. Maybe he’s in a fight with someone. He’s smiled at me a few times; I hope he figures out his problems.

I feel as though coffee shops have the potential to be one of the most romantic places on the planet. Imagine: you sit down across the room from a beautiful stranger. *snorts* I’m sorry, I’m sorry. They glance up and you share a smile. You leave your things to go retrieve your beverage, only to trip and spill the stuff all over the ground just inches away from your destination. Why is everybody always tripping in romantic stories? Anytime I trip, people usually laugh. The stranger jumps up to help mop up the mess as you mutter how much of a klutz they must think you are. They laugh along with you at your situation. Oh okay, there’s the laughing.  As you wipe up the coffee, you lock eyes. Both hearts skip a beat. A little spark has been lit. After the napkins have been tossed and the damage is cleared, they insist on replacing the drink. Bravo, fantasy guy. Even though you’re in college, you ain’t cheap.  You sit and talk, getting to know each other. You learn they’re at university not too far away from your own, and that they’ve seen you every now and then at this place drinking out of one of the red house cups. Total sidebar: I NEVER get the red house cups at Black Dog because those are only for their normal bottomless coffee. HOWEVER, whenever Sweet Ben and I go to our Monday morning coffee shop in St. Joe, I ALWAYS ask for the red mug. You explain how you want to travel, and exchange stories about your global travels with high school youth groups. Ooooooooo fantasy guy loves Jesus, nice detail, Abby. They laugh at your terrible jokes. You giggle at they’re (their, Abby, come on) awful puns. As weeks go by, you see each other more and more frequently. A bond had been made; a match made in a coffee shop. I know for a fact I was probably thinking of the song, “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop” while writing this. Go give it a listen, it’s cute.

Oh what a life that would be if romance were started by my habit of spilling things. Right? Sorry 2017 Abby, that usually only happens in film. I know it wouldn’t be with this guy across the room. Big oof.  He just cursed and pocketed his phone. He did ask how I was doing though before he took out his notebook. I’m trying not to be nosy, so I can’t tell if he’s drawing or writing. I’m assuming it’s the latter, as he’s mouthing something and leaned his head back again. Poor fella. At least he has a cool jacket in a heap on the chair next to him. Life is better with cool jackets. I wish it were a little less cold so I could wear mine. …apparently I was doing stream of consciousness writing at this point.

I think I accidently snapped Leather Jacket Guy back into reality by my cup clattering back onto the saucer. In about 20 minutes, I’ll be walking out the doors into reality once again. It’s too bad my friends couldn’t join me today, (Ah, this was a CYT rehearsal day I guess) but then again, if they had come, I wouldn’t have been able to get my coffee shop prince fantasy out onto paper. Is fantasy the right word? HA apparently so, as even now 2019 Abby has used that very same word twice. Goodness, I just laughed too loudly in this very crowded place. Also ugh Abby! Why did you end on that sentence?? Heaven’s sakes, this is pure, awkward gold.

Apparently, early 2017 Abby was a hopeless romantic. Then again, the current version of me is still a sucker for romcom thoughtful gestures. I will hold true to the fact though that local coffee shops truly are the sure fire way for me to get major inspiration. I look forward to exploring more of this pile of once forgotten compositions. There’s something oddly therapeutic about revisiting my past self. Who knows? It has been enlightening for me to see just how far I’ve come in a little over two years, not just as a writer, but as an overall person. Never stop changing for the better, my friends.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Top Five Stage Injuries (As of March 2019)

I have found throughout my experience of almost twelve years doing live performances on stage year-round that I am a very sturdy human. More often than not, I end runs of shows with multiple bruises and a few good stories. Most recently, I closed “Little Women,” in which I got to portray Amy March (check out my most recent post for more insight). Out of all the roles I’ve played, I didn’t expect the scariest injuries I’ve ever gotten on stage to come from this one. After almost losing my right eye in the middle of Act 1, I thought it would be fun to go back and tell some my “battle” stories. So, here are my Top Five Scariest Injuries in my Acting Career (thus far).

Honorable Mentions:
“Narnia”: While doing a stage combat workshop for the giant battle at the end of the show, little Abby got smacked in the face by a very thin, metal pole of a sword.

Stage Combat Punches to the Face: One when I was playing Fred Weasley in a combat workshop, one when my scene partner was on top of me and did not aim well (or aimed a little too well I suppose), and once when I was 18 and a 14 year old uppercut my jaw. The 14 year old cried more than I did; it was funny.

Sword on hand: I don’t remember what summer it was, but one year, the skin between my thumb and pointer finger on my right hand got nipped by a sword during a rehearsal. I’ve still got a scar.

5) “Alice” – Abby’s Head vs. the Concrete
Middle school was when I really started getting into stage combat. We were doing a reimagined/modern version of Alice in Wonderland, and I was playing the Unicorn. Now, the Unicorn and the Lion come on stage while fighting each other, and the main character interrupts us. We help her figure out how to get home, blah blah blah…that’s not important.
My dear friend Brooke and I were trying to figure out a cool fight to do for our scene. Our dance room in the church we rehearsed in had very hard concrete floors, so everyone was pretty careful when they were in there. However, while trying to work out a lift, Brooke accidentally flipped me backwards, causing my head to crash super hard into the ground. This is the first time in my life that I’m pretty sure I got a concussion, but didn’t go to the doctor for it. Hindsight…probably should have. I had quite a large lump on the back of my skull for about a week. Thank goodness this was not on stage.
4) “Mulan”- Abby’s Shin vs. the Mountain
This next memory is one that happened on stage, but not during a performance. During my junior year of high school, I got to play my favorite/the best Disney princess ever. Our set was absolutely incredible: it was basically a huge mountain. It was about eight feet tall and had a bunch of levels so that we could have a lot of variation in blocking. Shout out to the parents who put together that beast.
During one of the first tech rehearsals, I was running up the mountain to save Shang from dying, as princesses do. This was at a time in my life where I was a lot more klutzy, and my foot slipped on the edge of one of the levels. My body went flying forward, and my shin connected HARD with the step. I still have a scar from the dent that was put into my leg, and I was always slightly nervous about staying on my feet during that scene.

3) “Little Women”- Abby’s Head vs. the Couch
These last three incidents were things that happened during a performance. In other words, large crowds of people witnessed these occasions. Imagine if you will; it’s opening night of the first musical you’ve performed in for over a year. You’re playing a very dramatically bratty character who often throws temper tantrums on stage. During one of these fits, you are blocked to fling yourself backwards onto a couch. Well, during the first time you have an audience to watch the show, your head connects very hard with the wooden beam of the arm rest on the couch. And let me tell you, the THUD is quite loud.

I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have actually heard an audience collectively exclaim, “oooooo” all that once. I could see the eyebrows of my music director, who was in the pit, almost fly off of his forehead. It is by the grace of God that my head hit at the fluffiest part of my wig and right where my braids were hanging out underneath my wig cap. If I had hit my head a little bit lower, things could have been a lot worse and much, much scarier. Good thing I have a thick skull!
2) “West Side Story”- Abby’s Foot (and the rest of her body) vs. the Fence
If you don’t know me in real life, let me paint a picture for you of what I look like: I’m five feet tall. That’s about all you need to know for this story. During my senior year of high school, I was playing a dream role of seven years: Anybody’s in West Side Story. Hanging out with some of my best bros, getting to dance and fight was extremely fun. Another thing that I got to do as this character was scale a 6 and a half foot chain link fence. While this was fun, it also was kind of terrifying every night, and sometimes impossible for me (which was SUPER embarrassing).
Whenever we jumped off the fence, we were told to jump forward a bit so as not to land on the “sidewalk” (a six inch platform on the stage). On one of the nights that I actually got over the fence, the arch of my foot landed on the edge of the sidewalk, causing a shock of pain to shoot up my leg. Luckily, it was a scene where I was supposed to be scared to death, so I was able to sort of play it off. At intermission, Officer Keary (one of my friend’s dad who is a police officer as well as a parent who is supportive of their child’s theatrical experiences) wrapped my foot, since the shock had left my ankle really sore. There was no visible mark left over, but man was that ankle sore for a bit.

1) “Little Women”- Abby’s eye vs. the Ice Skate
Again, I didn’t think that my scariest injury on stage would be during a show like Little Women, but alas, here we are. It’s the second to last show, and I am going through the scene in which I hit my head the week before. For some reason, my shoe is slightly loose, and for some other reason, I have a very difficult time getting the ice skates out of the box that they are set in. You would think that this would be the moment that an ice skate would fly up and hit someone in the eye, but oh no no, that’s not how my life works. I run over to my pal Libby, give her my sister stage hug, and then dash over to the coat rack that has my cape and bonnet. As I reach up for these props, the back corner of the ice skate swings up and smacks me in the eye. I half stumble off stage, dropping off the props as nicely as I could while also grabbing at my throbbing face. I feel a slightly squishy thing in the palm of my hand, and my first thought is, “oh man, is this part of my eye in my hand?” It wasn’t. It was just my contact. So, over the course of three minutes, the backstage team gets me contact solution, I miraculously get the tiny piece of plastic back into my eye, and get carried on stage for a scene in which I am crying after a near death experience. My mom just thought I really connected with the character that evening. I’ve never seen my peers that shocked on stage while still staying in character. It was super helpful to be able to actually cry during the scene, and you’d be amazed what performance energy can do for you when you have to do a happy-go-lucky production number.
After finishing my Act 1 scenes, I go downstairs, peel off my wig and curl up in Sweet Ben’s lap, waiting for one of the amazing ASMs, Elizabeth, to show up to clean my war torn eye. At this point, I’m laughing and making jokes already, and I think some of my peers thought I was a nut. Miss Elizabeth has excellent bedside manner and did a great job of doctoring the cut that was just below my eye and on my eyelid. Again, it is by the grace of God that injury was not so much scarier than it could have been. The next day, our stage manager asked me to keep cleaning the mess over the course of the day so as to prevent infection (because you can’t really put a bandaid on an eye). Me, trying to be tough or whatever, tried to clean it by myself, but ended up getting alcohol in my eye, which was quite counter productive. It was because of this that Ben ended up with the job of not only cleaning my eye every day, but also remembering/talking me into doing it. You can’t blame me for “forgetting”…it stung, okay! I didn’t like it. (However, it’s a week after that scare and the cut is almost completely healed. Huzzah for modern medicine and kind souls who are gentle and helpful.)

 
The biggest thing I have come to learn from all these injuries and every other bump and bruise I’ve gotten as a performer is to always get back up. You can’t let a misfortune scare you off from doing your best at your craft. To be completely honest, I’m sort of glad in a way to have dealt with these situations. They have made me stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. While I hope to not deal with anything more serious than I’ve already dealt with, I am grateful for the painful times that have helped me grow into a more resilient human being.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

In Defense of Amy March

52913877_393988021393058_494394256673210368_nLittle Women is one of my favorite musicals. Though the writing of the show can be weak (and very frustrating) at times, the show is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen the show a handful of times and have always wanted to be a part of the production. When I found out that my college was doing the show last year, I was over the moon. The idea of auditioning was so exciting to me, and a few close friends in my life told me, “Ah man, you would play such a great Amy!” Here’s the deal though: I used to hate Amy March. Oh goodness, her track made me want to bang my head against the wall; the character was so irritating to me! Low and behold though, when auditions and callbacks ran their course, I found myself with the wonderful opportunity to bring this girl to life on stage.53267019_533478970513424_9212348036921950208_n

Since I’ve been involved in the performing arts, I’ve often been cast in “presentational” roles. In other words, I’ve had a lot of practice playing very silly and outlandish characters. It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I started to get the opportunities to play more grounded-in-reality characters, and even then, most of them have had some sort of quirky trait to them. Because of this, I have a tendency to be overly-punchy (punchy: v. to be very extra on stage) with my character choices. Recently, I’ve been working with my professors to become a more honest actress, which involves being pretty vulnerable on stage. This can be extremely scary at times. The best way I can describe it is feeling like you’re standing naked in front of people who are expecting some amazing feat from you. At first, you feel small, nervous, and like you want to burst into tears (and sometimes you do). But the more you do it, the more confidence you gain in yourself, and the more you realize you actually do have clothes on and that you are in control of what the audience sees from you.

53160175_364347857484983_1562172531467616256_nThe biggest challenge with Amy is seeing past her bratty nature. This girl is the youngest of four and looks up to her three older sisters. She especially idolizes Jo, but does not have a healthy way of expressing that, nor is she receiving the gentle, redirecting love she needs from an older sibling. Instead, she is harshly told her interests are silly and that she can’t come along to things she’s too young for. In a moment of frustration, Amy takes out her anger in a very destructive way. There is a reason she does the things she does. There is a reason she talks the way she talks. There is a reason she reacts the way she reacts. There is a reason she is the way she is: it is due to the influences of the people in her life.

Through this character study, I have come to better understand how to deal with not only hard-to-love roles, but also hard-to-love people. Everyone is the way they are due to the 52902829_2274365536220205_8833550887990329344_n
thousands of influences they have had in the span of their life. Via friendships, work, schooling, family dynamics, trauma, triumphs and so much more, we are shaped by the people and events that we encounter everyday. For example, I write the word “and” in a certain way because when I was six years old, a high school-aged girl was teaching a lesson in my Sunday School class and I saw her draw her “ands” in a way that my six-year-old self thought was really stinkin’ cool. The same goes for how I react to stressful social interactions, especially with other women. Because of multiple experiences going back to elementary school, I have had a hard time feeling like other females actually want to be my friend. It’s a really hard thing to deal with, especially when I’m constantly paranoid that ladies are gossiping about me behind my back. While in my head, I know that most of the time, this is not the case, due to previous experiences, I have been conditioned to be weary.

52895342_177495873133735_5806673484998246400_nBy walking (and running, stamping and dancing) in Amy’s shoes for the past two months, I feel that I better understand how to interact with hard-to-love people. When you play a character that you constantly feel that you are sticking up for, you find yourself saying the sentence, “They are the way they are for a reason,” an awful lot. While there is no excuse to treat people poorly, it is helpful to have the understanding that people don’t just lash out for no apparent reason. We are complex human beings who want understanding and love. Little Women will continue to be a show I hold near and dear to my heart, but now with a much deeper appreciation for this story. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Morgan Mallory and Dr. Paul Hindemith for giving me the opportunity to bring Amy March to life in our production. Getting to work on this show was one of the most educational experiences I could have gotten as a college student and I am so grateful for the many ways I’ve been able to grow while working on this process. This show has taught me once again to put my preconceived notions of people aside and truly look at the core of other broken, multilayered human beings.

 

Thank you, Miss March, for working on my heart with your story.

 

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Until Next Time,

Abby

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