Category Archives: Me Myself and Abby

Thoughts and studies on the human that is Abby (aka, Me :P)

Lessons from the Year

Ah yes, one of those reflective posts about the past school year. A riveting expose on the major life lessons I have learned over the past nine months. An insightful analysis of how the human spirit can overcome all odds. Or, you know, just a fun little diddy to celebrate the fact that the hardest school year of my life has come to an end.

 

Upon returning to my home in Kansas City, I flipped through my completed 2018 scrapbook planner in comparison to my current 2019 one (here). Here are some highlights of the countless lessons I have learned this year.

 

August- Memorizing with songs is super helpful for Spanish. I only got a half point off on that first Spanish quiz because I forgot an accent on one of the names. Somehow, I must relearn everything this summer as to not fail my last two Spanish classes.

September- I very much enjoy film acting. God bless James for texting me early in the year when I wasn’t in rehearsals to come act in his directing project. Special shout out to his precious cat princess who enjoyed running between my legs during intense bits of dialogue.

October- Gypsy jazz is a blessing. Thank you, Nathan; I’ve got your playlist running through my headphones as I write this.  

November- Doing an overnight shoot after an all night sleepover is rough. It’s funny how I said I would never do another overnight shoot again and ended up ending my 21st birthday walking into the studio to do another one. Regardless, Andy is one of my favorite people and I would do a hundred more overnight shoots if it meant being able to keep making great films with him.

December- Prayer works. Sometimes it takes a long, long time, but man, when you see the Lord transfer someone’s life, it is absolutely miraculous and beautiful.

January- I have missed doing improv more than I knew. I had the opportunity at KCACTF to do a long form improv workshop with students from across the region, including a gal who is an incredible scenic painter that I idolized last summer. Our team still has the Loopers group chat going semi-strong; it was a good time.

February- I truly could make a career doing projections for theatre. I cried during the first tech rehearsal while I was standing backstage waiting for my entrance. Seeing my months of animation actually work on stage was amazing and I look forward to the next opportunity I have to tackle this art form again.

March- It’s possible to almost lose an eye and get frostnip in the span of 16 days. (See this post for the story about me getting whacked in the face with an ice skate during “Little Women” here) Pro Tip: when doing an outside shoot in the woods when it’s cold, constantly move your body, or your sweet fella might have to carry you through the woods to your producer’s car, where you will throw up because of how much pain you are in due to how cold you are, which will lead the two of them to taking you to urgent care. The best thing to come from that situation was getting a solid nap in the waiting room. Hot dang though, that film looked GOOD.

April- Giving a bad performance does not define you. You’ll have stellar performances and ones that you wish no one had witnessed. Regardless of how each performance goes, you go in the next day and breathe out the character once again with a fresh mind and heart.

May- God provides. I spent weeks trying to nail down a part time job for the summer. I was ready to give up until I went to a bridal shower and ended up having a conversation with a long-time friend of the family. As I type this, I am looking out over Downtown Kansas City with a cup of coffee, waiting for 10:40am to hit so I can walk down the street to one of my favorite places for an afternoon of work. This is the kind of life I relish, and totally beats working in a department store.

 

It’s astounding to see how much growth I have gone through since August. I thought that flipping though last year’s planner would be a lot harder. There’s memories in there that are bittersweet, but I’m getting to a point where “bitter” is starting to fade away as an adjective. I know that there will be years that will be tougher and that there are countless things I still need to work on with myself, but the future is bright, which is something I wouldn’t have said three months ago with confidence. Bring on summer and one more year of undergrad, Life: I’m ready for you.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

 

Crazy Calendar Lady

I love my planner. When I say love, I mean it’s basically my favorite possession and if some guy snatched my backpack, I would care about getting my planner back more than my wallet. Why do I have so much affection for this book that is supposed to just hold dates and assignments? Because I am a calendar-scrapbook-addict. And a sticker-addict. And a mega- washi-tape-addict. When I’m stressed out, I reorganize my tape storage box.

I can’t claim credit for coming up with the idea of scrapbooking my planner. Four years ago, my dear friend Suz introduced me to the wonderful world of scrapbooking her Erin Condren planner. I dabbled with sticking random photos into my planner, but it wasn’t until the January 2017 that I started decorating the pages on a weekly basis. Let me tell you, those first few months of spreads were ROUGH, but around March, I finally got into a system of creating my weekly layouts. Now, I’ve got it down to a creative science.

This year, I made the switch from Erin Condren to Plum Paper (which was one of the stupidest difficult choices I have ever made in my life). What’s nifty about Plum Paper is that you can get extra pages added to your personalized calendar. I’m a sucker for grids, so I got a checklist insert at the end of each month. I also got some swanky dotted paper, because who doesn’t love this magical type of paper? With these additional pages, I have dipped my toe into the water of bullet journaling via making daily goal and mood tracker sheets. It’s something I’m still perfecting; I consult Pinerest on the daily.

Whenever someone lays eyes on my planner who hasn’t seen it before, there is usually a list of questions I receive 95% of the time.

 

Planner Scrapbooking FAQs

  1. When did you start scrapbooking your planner? As I said before, I played around with scrapbooking my 2016 planner a little bit, but it wasn’t until 2017 that I started doing it consistently. I am currently on my third year of the scrapbooking adventure, and hope to go back to finish the 2016 planner someday.fullsizeoutput_2ff3  (March 25th-March 31st 2019 Spread)
  2. How do you get the little photos?-My process is copying and pasting my photos from the week into a Word document and making them all 1 ½ inches wide. I end up with a grid of photos that I print and cut out! God bless my roommate Indigo who has been printing them for me on a weekly basis this year. fullsizeoutput_3011(Photo sheet for April 22th-April 30th)
  3. How do you make your spreads? I decide a color scheme with four roles of washi tape. I’m a weirdo who has to stick to patterns or it bugs me to no end. I consult the photo gallery on my phone to layout all the photos to cover up the ridiculous schedule I had to adhere to for the week. From that color scheme I have picked out, I go through the dozen or so sticker books I have to fill in the extra space.fullsizeoutput_3015 (My beautiful collection of washi tape)
  4. How long does it take you to do a spread? Usually about 20-45 minutes, depending on how complex I want make the spread that week.fullsizeoutput_2ff2 (April 15th-21st 2019 Spread)
  5. Why do you scrapbook?  Two main reasons: It’s a great way to forget about the stress of the week by covering up my schedule with cute photos and fun stickers. It’s also a great way to practice gratitude. Even when I’ve had an awful week, looking back at silly snapshots from the week makes me remember that life isn’t all that bad.fullsizeoutput_2ff1 (Antigone Highlights)
  6. What’s the deal with your mood tracker? This school year was full of extreme highs and lows. From major disappointments to triumphant successes and seasons of deep despair and radiant joy, I have been all over the spectrum. I had heard about people who journaled about their moods on the daily, and I decided to try and make a visual chart for myself to keep track of my own. I make a key of colors that correspond with certain moods, and also use stickers to track things like spirals, when I’ve felt encouraged, and The Red Baron (you can figure that one out for yourself). I’m only on my second month of mood tracking, but it’s already helped a lot when I communicate with loved ones or my counselor.fullsizeoutput_3017 (April Mood Tracker and Daily Goals)
  7. How do you set up your bullet journal? I started doing my daily goals in bullet journal form this January with a set of goals that I thought I needed to improve on. Over the course of February, March, April and May, some of those tasks has stayed the on the list every month, some have been consolidated, and others have been taken off the list for now. It all depends on what’s going on that month. For example, I always have “Jesus Time” at the top of my page, but for the month of May, I’ve got “Practice Gentleman’s Guide Music” as a daily goal to prepare for the show I will be performing in June.fullsizeoutput_2ff4 (May Mood Tracker and Daily Goals)
  8. I don’t how to do something like this; how do I start? It’s all a matter of starting without having any expectations. My planner looks so different from Suz’s planner and ours both look super different from ones you can find online. Pinterest is a great resource for getting inspiration, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. Come over and hang out with me; I have many stickers to spare!

 

Scrapbooking my planner has been one of the best forms of self-love I have done over the years and I can say with confidence that it has helped improve my mental health. Maybe the washi tape life isn’t for you, and that’s okay! Find something that makes you happy and use it to decompress. It’s amazing what 30 minutes of sticking mini photos down with sparkly stickers does for the soul.fullsizeoutput_2ff5

 

Until next time,

Abby

 

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

 

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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Learning to be a Support

One of my favorite superhero films is the most recent Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot. I’m a huge fan of movies with strong females as the leading characters. I feel that girls everywhere need to be able to see powerful women in stories on screen, stage and in literature (and yes, I include comic books as a kind of literature). Something about this movie that I really love which often goes overlooked is the partnership between Gadot’s and Chris Pine’s characters. Pine’s character, Steve Trevor, serves as the secondary hero of the story, as well as the love interest to Diana. What I love about their dynamic is the two need each other throughout the film. There are clear moments when they both in danger, but they work together to save one another. While Wonder Woman is the obvious hero of the film, she does not save the day single handedly. The screenwriter could have easily taken the story in that direction, but they made the refreshing choice of showing a woman and a man exhibiting a healthy partnership.

I’ve always been a pretty independent gal. I’m one of those stereotypical first-borns with that “natural leader” curse, which is a nice way of saying I have a tendency to be bossy. I tend to find myself in positions of leadership, and to be quite frank, I really enjoy it. I like taking care of other people, solving problems and getting others to unify. However, there have been times where it has gone to my head. I became more focused on the title rather than the responsibilities I had to others. I wanted to be important, but lost sight of what leadership is truly is about. Over the past six months though, I feel as if I have discovered the key to effective leadership: knowing how to be a support.

A prominent example of this in my life is working in the scene shop at my college. Backtracking a little bit: I used to work at a wedding venue as a server/dishwasher. This required a lot of heavy lifting, and I went out of my way to do as much of the lifting as I could without asking for help. It made me stronger, and at times, it was kind of fun to surprise the boys I worked alongside. Jump forward to about three years later, I have found myself working in set construction and maintenance in Potter Theater. When I first came in, I felt the need to prove myself. I also felt like I needed to show I didn’t need help with tasks that other workers (mainly the guys) were asked to do by themselves.

Here’s the deal though: I did need help. Like, a lot of help. I still do! And it’s not just with heavy lifting. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m doing on a construction project. Other times I need an extra set of hands to hold things in place while I try to drive in a screw. And don’t get me started on how many times I’ve had to ask someone taller than me to reach something on top of the lockers.

I found myself in a work environment where I had to acknowledge the fact that other people were just as capable, and oftentimes more so, than I was. One person in particular who was (and still is) far more versed in the technical aspects is Ben. My first impression of him came from me wandering into the shop to help with School House Rock: Live! and seeing him putting together a flat by himself (“Okay, that took me about an hour and a half and it was the WORST”). Over the course of the rest of that school year, I picked up new skills as I worked on different projects. The most valuable of these skills wasn’t how to put together a platform or a set of stairs. It wasn’t how to sweep a stage or how to properly clean a paint roller. No, the greatest thing I’ve come to learn is how to be a support (bet you never saw that coming from the title of this blog).

Ben and I have been working together on various odd jobs for over a year now. More often than not, he has been the one to lead the projects due to the fact that he is more knowledgeable and is a lot stronger than I am. I’ve had to accept the simple fact that being a helper to someone can be just as satisfying as being the leader. From that partnership in the shop, we formed a strong friendship that stretched its way outside of the theater and has been a wonderful constant in my life.

To the people who don’t go to school with me, I ought to probably mention that Ben is also my boyfriend. After a rocky year of relationship and personal drama, the two of us came closer together and realized our partnership could possibly work at a deeper level.  A major change in myself that I have noticed is that I don’t feel the compulsive need to be in charge of everything 24/7 anymore. It’s an odd feeling, but also a relief as well. It’s more fun to share the load with someone rather than trying to pile it all on yourself just so you don’t have to rely on another person.

I won’t claim that I’ve lost my drive to lead. Quite the opposite actually: I feel that the more I have learned to support people like Ben, the better understanding I gain on how to effectively serve others as a leader. The past few months in particular have been full of really hard life lessons, but I am thankful to have the support of friends who truly want the best for me and the opportunity to support the people I love and respect. I believe that the best leaders are the ones who don’t think of themselves as above the ones who follow them, but the ones who are willing to get down into the thick of things to work alongside those they lead. Learning how to do this well is going to be a life-long journey full of screw-ups, but I am eager and expectant to grow this vital skill. Isn’t it wonderful though, that we never have to stop learning?

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Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Things to Stop Saying to Yourself

I’m my own worst critic. There are times in my life where I struggle hardcore with how I feel others think of me. To be quite honest, it’s more common that I’m slightly paranoid about my relationships with people. Unfortunately, often times it is my own mind that makes situations exponentially worse than what they actually are. When you are filling your mind with self-induced negativity, you begin to believe that everyone else around you believes the same lies you are feeding yourself. These are some common phrases that can cross our minds, along with possible alternatives that could be used instead.

 

“I’m so stupid.”  Replace this with -> “I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I have at this point in my life.”

 

“I’m annoying; nobody wants to be around me.” Replace this with -> “I am unique and the people that matter love me.”

 

“I look so ugly today.” Replace this with -> “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, even on my off days.”

 

“I suck at *insert something you love doing.*” Replace this with -> “I’m never gonna stop learning and improving.”

 

“I’ll never be as good as so-and-so at *insert a task that you want to excel at*.” Replace this with -> “I am not in competition with the people around me; life is about improving yourself and working with others.”

 

“I’m a failure.” Replace this with -> “I didn’t expect or want this situation to go this way, but it does not define me.”

 

“I’m not good enough.” Replace this with -> “I may not have all the skills I need now but I can get there.”

 

“I’m unlovable.” Replace this with -> “I am loved beyond my human understanding.”

 

“I don’t matter.” Replace this with -> “I am capable of making a huge impact in my world.”

 

“I wouldn’t be missed if I was gone.” Replace this with -> “I am connected to and loved by so many people that care about my well being.”

 

It is so easy to believe the lies we feed ourselves and allow them to affect our overall life experience. My challenge to you is to start catching yourself whenever you start to tear yourself down. As you work on building yourself up, you will find that building others up as well will come much easier to you. There’s a verse where Jesus talks about the two greatest commandments, which are loving God and loving others like ourselves. In order to love others fully, you need to love yourself as the wonderful creation God created you to be.

Full disclosure: I have been so hard on myself for as long as I can remember. I hold myself to impossible standards, and when I fail to meet those expectations, I beat myself up mercilessly. A handful of my professors are helping nail down the idea in my heart that I am loved, valued and capable, which means I can let up on myself. So do me a favor: join me in being kinder to yourself. I promise you, it’s gonna do wonders for your soul.

 

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

Things I Learned from Disney Princesses

I love Disney. Serious though, I honestly don’t think I could express how much I love Disney movies. And let me tell you, princess movies are still to this day are one fo the best ways to brighten my mood. Over the years, I have enjoyed these wonderful fairytales and have learned a great deal from these awesome ladies. Here’s a highlight reel of some of the best things I’ve gained over the years from these stories. 

Snow White- Cleaning is so much better when you sing. 

Cinderella- You can always find a spark of joy, even in really awful situations. 

Aurora- Sometimes, naps are really heckin’ important. 

Ariel- Little things in life we take for granted can be magical. 

Belle- Reading is better than boys most of the time. 

Jasmine- Don’t settle.

Pocahontas- Nature is glorious and screams out creativity. 

Mulan- You can be a strong lady who is worth fighting for. 

Tiana- Don’t be afraid to hustle for what you believe in.

Rapunzel- Chase your dreams, but also be okay with them when they change. 

Merida- Sometimes you need to chill out and listen to your mom. 

Elsa- Let stuff go (no, I’m not sorry). 

Anna- First impressions of love aren’t always what they seem. 

Moana- Family is the most important thing. 

I am a firm believer that you are never too old for a Disney movie. Take some time to go back and enjoy one of these princess stories; you never know when you’ll learn something new!

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

A Month on Prozac

On December 14th, 2018 I started taking Prozac. For those of you who don’t know, Prozac is a synthetic compound which inhibits the uptake of serotonin in the brain and is taken to treat depression. In other words, it’s an antidepressant. Two years ago, I almost began taking a medication to help my mental state, but for a number of reasons, I decided against actually getting the prescription filled. Fast forward to the end of this past semester, I’m crying in the doctor’s office, my pride finally broken down and hesitantly agreeing to spend my four weeks off of school getting used to this new tool in my life.

The first few days, I was mad. I didn’t want to be medicated. I felt defeated. Why couldn’t I have taken care of myself before now, doing the things that would make me feel better without the help of these new chemicals being added to my system? I have had people in my life express that they didn’t believe medication did more good than they do harm. While no one ever told me to my face that they would be disappointed, there was always a little voice in the back of my head that worried my closest friends would judge me for having to use medicine to be a happier person.

Most of the time, the first few weeks of a medication are a little rough, and I can attest that this is true. I hosted a Christmas party five days after I began the meds and let me tell you, I felt super nauseous in the middle of the get-together after taking it. (Shout out to Avery for being my emotional rock during that party.) Then, for about eight days, I lost my appetite. While I still made myself eat something throughout the day, I ended up losing five pounds. I also began dealing with dryness in my throat, which, as a singer, scared me to death (Biotene is a life saver).

However, after all of this, my follow-up appointment with our family doctor was much different than the first (the only tears that happened were when I had to get blood work). After regaining my appetite and beginning to have motivation to actually take care of myself physically, emotionally and spiritually, life was becoming so much more bearable. In fact, it was so much more than bearable. It was full of joy and expectancy towards the future. I wasn’t scared about going back to school. I was having a much easier time communicating to the people I love. Little things that used to really bug me were becoming less bothersome.

My classes started back up on January 14th, one month after beginning the medication. A month before, any thought of school, work, or the shows I’m working on would make me feel panicky and want to hide away from the world. Beyond any expectation I could have had for myself, that first Monday back at school was marvelous. It was by no means perfect. Several instances popped up that threw off my uncommonly good mood. This time however, there was so much more clarity for how to deal with these annoying happenstances. The next morning, I fully processed how miraculous it truly was how I handled the curve balls that were thrown at me.

So, it’s been a month. And frankly, I feel great right now. I am more at ease with daily troubles that arise. I am able to recognize when I need to take time for myself to recharge. I am now much more aware just how truly blessed and loved I am by the people God has put into my life. I am fully aware that things will get tough again, possibly very soon, but I am abundantly grateful for this past month of rest, recovery, and rediscovery of myself.

I write this to the person who is being stubborn about getting help, to the one who is scared of what others will say, and to the one who doesn’t think it’s worth the trouble: getting help does not make you weak. You are a valuable human being and modern medicine is an incredible thing. While I don’t believe that all problems can be solved with medication, I am now a firm believer that they can do major good. A dear friend of mine once explained it to me this way: you wouldn’t tell a diabetic to pray harder for their illness to go away. While there are good foods that can help a diabetic and exercise can do wonders for anyone, but you wouldn’t tell a diabetic not to take their medication. The same applies to mental illnesses. There’s natural ways to treat depression and anxiety, but sometimes, your brain needs some extra help to function fully.

And to the Christian who is on the fence on starting a medication, I have one last nugget for you: God wants you to feel better, and He’s not gonna be mad at you for not praying more to Him to take your depression away. We live in a world of brokenness and unrest, but praise the Lord for His gift of knowledge that He has given to modern physicians. Use your resources, and know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you want, I’ll let you use some of my washi tape to wrap up your orange bottle.

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Until Next Time,

Abby