Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

 

Rome Highlight Reel

Hello, 2020! Woof, we’re only two weeks into this year and life is C R A Z Y! However, it’s the best kind of crazy. It’s only 43 days till the opening night of my final performance at Missouri Western, 73 days till my 22nd birthday, 108 days till graduation, and 217 days till I marry my best friend. Life is bonkers, y’all. 

I was blessed to end 2019 and ring in 2020 in Italy with my future-in-laws. For those who don’t know, Sweet Ben’s mom is at the Nato Defense College in Rome and will soon begin her next assignment in Naples, Italy. Ben’s sister and dad are also abroad with her, so this trip right after Christmas was the first time we had all been together since August when Ben and I sent them off at the airport. Over the course of eleven days, I got to have so many wonderful adventures in a country I had always dreamed of visiting. Here is an abridged version of the eleven days I got to spend with Ben and his family in Rome! 

Day 1 (12/27)

Highlight: After three flights (one of which was eight hours long), we landed in Rome and got to hug Ben’s parents and sister. Once Ben and I had a nap after lunch to battle jet lag, we took the Metro to a cozy little pizzeria. Little did I know that the first thing you see once you exit the station that leads to the restaurant is the Colosseum. Yeah, that was a pretty nifty sight to behold before dinner. 

Favorite Taste: Salami Pizza. Honorable mention goes to the shot of Limoncello after dinner. 

Fun Fact: It’s super common for Europeans to have coffee after dinner. This is a cultural norm I can totally get behind. 

 

Day 2 (12/28)

Highlight: Sant’Eustachio is said to be one of the best coffee shops in Rome. Judging by the crowd that was crammed into this relatively small space, a lot of people thought it was really good. If you’re ever in Rome, go check out this place. While it was a bit overwhelming, my Romeo e Giulietta was delightful. 

Favorite Taste: Gnocchi and Mozzarella in Tomato Sauce at this little corner restaurant we found by wandering down the wrong street 

Fun Fact: In 609, The Pantheon was the first temple that once honored Roman gods to be transformed into a church. This saved this brilliant piece of architecture from being destroyed during the Middle Ages.

 

Day 3 (12/29)

Highlight: On the first Sunday of the month, it is free to enter into Vatican City, which causes a TON of people to come out to visit. After going through the museum (which includes the jaw-dropping Sistine Chapel), we found a shortcut to go into St. Peter’s Basilica. Wandering through the gigantic church and praying with Ben for our future marriage was a beautiful experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. 

Favorite Taste: Cappuccino after visiting Vatican City

Fun Fact: Michelangelo, the artist who painted the Sistine Chapel, originally said “no” to painting the massive room because he reasoned that he was a sculptor, not a painter. The Sistine Chapel is considered to be the greatest masterpiece ever created. You aren’t allowed to take photos of the chapel, so enjoy this doggo statue that we found. 

 

Day 4 (12/30)

Highlight: Enjoying a lazy day and taking Star and Carebear on a walk. 

Favorite Taste: The richest hot chocolate I have ever tasted with the espresso I mixed into it because mochas do not exist in Rome

Fun Fact: People take their dogs EVERYWHERE. It was so funny to see so many different dogs out and about, including in the malls and some restaurants!  

 

Day 5 (12/31)

Highlight: We spent the last day of the year exploring an apartment complex that has sixteen murals on the sides of the buildings. There were so many moments throughout this trip where I would turn to Ben and say, “Can you imagine looking out your window every day to see *insert amazing sight*?” My personal favorite was the wall with rainbow squares. We were also able to find a coffee shop that put a bit of chocolate in coffee, which made me quite happy. 

Favorite Taste: French champagne with apple juice to ring in the New Year

Fun Fact: Many Italians wear red underwear to ring in the New Year. It’s said to bring good luck!

 

 

Day 6 (1/1)

Highlight: There’s sight called the Aventine Keyhole on a hill in a village in Rome, where you have a breath-taking view of St. Peter’s Basilica. We waited in line for almost an hour to take a look through this keyhole, and boy, was it worth it. (Photo credit of the view goes to Google, as my little iPhone wasn’t able to do the view justice)

Favorite Taste: Mini tiramisu at a 95 year old coffee shop 

Fun Fact: The keyhole is part of the property owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic religious order of crusader knights that was formed in the 11th century. It is the oldest surviving chivalric order in the world and is a sovereign entity under international law.

 

Day 7 (1/2)

Highlight: Climbing to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a TRIP, y’all. The climb is worth it though for the amazing view you get of the city. 

Favorite Taste: Lemon and Strawberry Gelato in the train station 

Fun Fact: Keith Allen Haring was an American artist whose pop art and graffiti-like work was inspired by NYC streets. One of his works can be found in Pisa, Italy! 

 

Day 8 (1/3)

Highlight: Ben and I took a walk with his mom in search of coffee. Afterwords, I played Monopoly for the first time in about eight years. The game took three hours, and because of my stubbornness and negotiation skills, I somehow won. Ben was proud. 

Favorite Taste: Chicken dumplings at an Italian Chinese restaurant 

Fun Fact: Monopoly was first published in 1935. It’s been causing fits of rage and strain on every sort of relationship around the world for 85 years. 

 

 

Day 9 (1/4)

Highlight: Van Gogh and Monet are two of my favorite painters ever. We got to have a VR experience where the viewer got to tour through the world of the some of the works created by these two artists. Not gonna lie, it was a bit emotional for me to get to be immersed in paintings I’ve admired my whole life. 

Favorite Taste: Fresh bruschetta mmmmm so good. Know what’s not good? Green Apple Limoncello. It’s like drinking battery acid. 

Fun Fact: You can trace the origin of bruschetta back to Ancient Roman times. It’s popularity has spread a lot since then and is still a classic favorite in Italian restaurants. 

 

Day 10 (1/5)

Highlight: While we were wandering around the ancient ruins of Ostia, I saw a large black cat just doing his thing. I followed him to take a picture and, naturally, he ran away because some weird American was being annoying. When we went through the bookstore, we found the same cat and his friend just chilling out in the shop! We saw a few other cats when we were leaving to head back home, which was probably the largest population of cats we saw on the whole trip. We happened to see another cat during our night tour of the Colosseum. It was quite funny to see people be more interested in the cat living in the ancient architecture than the stunning building itself.  

Favorite Taste: Marble cake at the café in Ostia

Fun Fact: Ostia was a port and commercial center of republican Rome. The ruins of the city include an amphitheater that could seat up to 4,000 people. Bonus fact: there are signs outside the Colosseum telling guests to not disturb any cats that are on sight. Apparently, there is a kitty colony in the stadium! 

 

Day 11 (1/6)

Highlight: There were some ridiculous seagulls we encountered during our final day in Rome. It’s almost as if they were posing for people as they took photos of them. Ben and I spent a lot of time trying to translate what these weird birds were squawking at each other. 

Favorite Taste: Bubble Toffee from my La Befana stocking

Fun Fact: The story of Pinocchio originated in Italy and the character is a common souvenir you can find on just about any corner. When we were walking through the city, we found a real life Geppetto!

 

I have always been of the belief that everyone needs to leave their home country at least once in their life. Traveling expands your worldview, reminding you how much bigger this planet is outside of your hometown. I am so thankful that I got to satisfy my travel bug urge in Rome with the Smiths, and look forward to more travels in the future!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

The End of the Decade Post

Huzzah, it’s another end of the decade/year post. Woo. So original. Bet you’ve never seen one of these before!

Anyway

During one of my flights on the way to Rome to visit my future in-laws, I looked back at the start of the journal I have been on-and-off writing in since December 3rd, 2018. It affectionately was nicknamed, “Break Up Journal #2” (thank you for the purchase, Mom.) It is astounding to see how quickly life changed over the course of those first few months of that journal. Beginning a relationship with my best friend from the scene shop was not in the plan. But as I have said before, God always has better plans than we do.

Throughout the course of this decade, I have learned so much about life. Sometimes, there are people who are only in your life for a short season, and that’s okay. There are times where it is best to stay quiet and do your job, even when you work with difficult people. There are times where you must stand up for yourself. There are times where the right course of action is the unpopular one. People change, and so do you. You must know when to apologize. You must know when you are at fault, but more importantly, you must also know when you are not at fault. It is okay to protect yourself. It is vital to love yourself. Your health is more important than pleasing others. Just because you fail does not make you a Failure: it makes you human. You are blessed with gifts in a unique way. No one can live your life for you; do not waste it.

There is so much more I have learned, yet there is even more I have yet to discover. I am eager for this new decade, as there is so much to come already. I’ll be getting married. Lord willing, I will begin grad school. Maybe even have kids, who knows. No matter what happens, life is never boring. No matter what comes my way, I look forward with hope and joyful anticipation.

As far as goals go, my main writing goal is to spend more time creating pieces that I actually am proud of. I got close to my goal of posting a blog every week in 2019, and even though I fell off the wagon over the last few weeks of this year, I’m still happy that I mostly stuck to my goal. However, posting weekly is not practical with the life I am living at the moment. I’m about to begin my final semester of undergrad. I’m planning a wedding. I’ll be applying for grad school. Life is bonkers. So, instead of hurriedly scraping together a post every week to hit a deadline, I will be posting on a bi-weekly basis in 2020. Twenty-six posts during a year of massive life change seems like a pretty solid goal. Perhaps 2020 will finally be the year I successfully complete a year long personal writing challenge!

First post of 2020 will be up on January 12th! I look forward to sharing about my trip to Rome. Fun fact: this entire post was written while waiting in line to see the Vatican. My feet are numb and there is an insane amount of people. Life is bonkers. Best wishes to all as you begin this next decade!

 

Until next time,

Abby

 

When You Feel Like You Are Letting Everyone Down

Hi, my name is Abby, and I deny the fact that I am a perfectionist and a people-pleaser. But alas, I am both of these things. On the enneagram scale I am a 3w2, which is a combination of “The Performer/Achiever” and “The Caregiver”, as well as being an ESTJ on the Myers Briggs scale. If you look up basic traits of these personality types, you find these major points across the board.

  • Basic Strength: leading and serving other people.
  • Basic Fear: failing and being unworthy of love. To avoid this, they set and accomplish goals to feel successful and worthy. They also fear having a bad reputation
  • Basic Desire: to be admired and accepted. They seek value through accomplishment, which may push them deeper into their work, which sometimes leads to being a workaholic.

Now, you may not subscribe to personality theory, but over the past five years of learning more about various theories, I have come to better understand myself and others. The biggest thing I have learned about myself is that I am my own worst critic. Seriously, I am probably one of the most self-critical people you will ever meet. However, my mindset tells me that I must be hard on myself in order to achieve and not let others down. This ends up being horrible counterproductive and a hole that I have a hard time escaping.

No one is perfect. There are times when you will mess up. You will need to ask for forgiveness, and 95% of the time, if you truly communicate your remorse, the other party will forgive you. I have found though that often times it is easier to forgive another person than it is to forgive yourself. Sure, the other person can say, “What you did upset me, but I forgive you.” But with me, the fact that I have upset another person destroys my soul. I feel that I need to keep punishing myself, even if I have already dealt with the consequences.

Here’s the kicker though: I am saved by grace. The God of the Universe came down from heaven to die for my sins so that I didn’t have to pay for them. Jesus took all the blame so I don’t have to suffer the eternal consequences. The fact that we are commanded by God to forgive one another is to be a representation of His love for us. If God forgave all of mankind, then we are supposed to offer that same kind of love to others. Just because God forgave us though, doesn’t mean the task is complete. It takes the other party to accept forgiveness to make the transaction complete.

When you beat yourself up after someone has forgiven you, you have thrown that person’s grace out the window. More often than not, people move on. When you dwell on the fact that you messed up two weeks ago on something, you are hindering yourself from moving forward. You cannot expect yourself to be perfect. It is foolish to think that you will never let someone down. But when you realize 1) that you are not a disappointment to everyone in your life, and 2) that you must give yourself grace when you mess up, you are able to be a much happier person.

I’m currently about to begin finals week. I am stressed. I’ve shed many tears over the past week. I have felt like I have disappointed every single one of my professors and that I’ve been a bad friend and a crappy girlfriend. But to anyone who feels this way (myself included): STOP. These are lies. You are not a failure. You are not a disappointment. You are not a bad person. You are not defined by your mistakes. You are human. Every person that you feel you are letting down? Yeah, they have all screwed up in the past too. Give yourself some grace. Dust yourself off and keep going. More often than not, you learn more from your mistakes than your successes. Embrace the chaos, remember to breathe, and keep moving forward.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby