Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Year of Lasts

I still haven’t fully processed that this is the final year of my undergraduate program. Technically speaking, I’ve been working towards this degree since I was 15 years old, which is when I started my gen eds at my local community college. I spent three years completing my associates degree, a year taking art classes/trying to figure out where to transfer to, and will be beginning my third year at Missouri Western on August 26th, 2019. It’s so odd to think that in roughly eight months, I will be moving on to a new chapter of life. 

Last time moving into a dorm 

Last year of caf food 

Last round of college auditions

Last year of working in the Potter scene shop

Last two semesters of foreign language classes (Praise the Lord)

Last eight months of having to walk almost a mile to most of my classes

Last few advising sessions with Jeff

Last time I will celebrate a birthday where there is a high chance I will be on a film set

Last year of using my faithful blue dorm room bed spread

Last year of sharing a bathroom with three other girls

Last round of finals during undergrad

I spent a few days working on this list. While there are many more things that will be a “last” this year, I have been having a hard time making the list much longer. It was frustrating, because I had the idea for this post about four weeks ago. I said to myself, “I’m gonna make a blog post to commemorate my senior year of undergrad by talking about all the lasts that are coming.” The more I worked to come up with a list though, the harder it got. I was wondering if I was struggling with writer’s block, but then I realized what the real problem was: I was being too negative. 

You see, I was looking at this final year with the mindset of “Oh yeah, it sucks that I don’t have a ton of time left at this school.” Instead of being grateful for the fact that I am going into my senior year with strong relationships and expectations, I was focusing on how all of it will be over once May 2020 hits. When I realized what I was doing to myself, I took a step back to reevaluate how I was looking at this school year. I have made goals for myself in academics, work, and personal development, but my main goal for the 2019/2020 school year is to fully live in the moment. I don’t want to focus on how a good thing is coming to an end; I’d rather be enjoying the good thing while it is happening. 

I challenge anyone who is getting ready to go through a time of transition to not focus on how things are coming to an end. I have found the more I focus on the inevitable end, the less I enjoy the journey. I’d like to think that I am a bit of an expert when it comes to planning, but there are times when plans become too rigid and stressful. Instead of making sure every single “last” is absolutely perfect, I am going to try and let myself be free to feel whatever emotions may come. So bring on the final year of shows, films, APO meetings, GFS projects and surprise adventures that will come my way. I am eager to see what Senior Year will bring.

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

A Letter to 14-Year-Old Abby

Dear Abby, 

Hey, girl. It’s me: You. I’m the You that’s about seven-ish years older than you. You’re fourteen, and your life is about to become a lot more complicated than you ever thought it would. You see, in about seven months, you’re going to turn fifteen. You’ll learn to drive and get your first real job. You’ll start teaching piano to an eight-year-old girl and end up teaching twenty-two kids music before you turn twenty. You’ll get a boyfriend and start community college. You’ll start a double major in Animation and Theatre. You’ll get dumped (twice). You’ll drop a major. You’ll meet amazing people. You’ll see the life of someone you love dearly change completely for the better. There’s a lot of stuff I wish I could go back and tell you. I’m taking the opportunity to do it down, with the hopes that there’s some other fourteen year old girl who needs to read this letter. 

You’re gonna have crushes on a good handful of boys, and that’s okay. However, these boys won’t always treat you the way that you deserve to be treated. Understand that you are a treasure, no matter what anyone’s opinion of you. There will be a few boys who show an open interest in you, but goodness sakes, do not settle. You deserve to be treated like a queen: accept nothing less. When your heart gets broken, know that the hurt does not last forever. Also, understand that it’s okay to have good memories from relationships that came to an end. God brings people into our lives for seasons. Sometimes those seasons aren’t as long as we originally thought they would, but regardless of how long any relationship lasts, there is something you can learn from every person you encounter. 

Don’t give up on your dreams. You’ve got some huge ones, and you will accomplish some of them over the next seven years. No one can achieve them for you, and no one will want your dreams more than you do. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you want to do with your life is foolish. You are not a traditionalist or one to do things the conventional way. You are a trailblazer and an extraordinary achiever: own it. While your dreams are your own, know that you will have allies to your goals who will help you along the way. Also know that there will be people who don’t have your best interests in mind. Be discerning with who you open up to while also trusting those God has put in your life to help you grow.  

Taking care of yourself is important. In fact, it’s about the most important thing you can do. You love to take care of others. You’re really good at it, too. However, you tend to have trouble taking care of yourself. One of the best things I have learned recently is looking at the “Love your neighbor as yourself” verse in a different light. You see, that verse isn’t telling you to love others but treat yourself like crap. It means that you have to know how to love yourself in order to love others. Loving yourself includes making sure you get enough sleep, drinking water, being in the Word, going to counseling and taking your meds. You’re gonna want to fight your doctor for a long time about medicine, but there is nothing wrong with getting a bit of extra help. Do not let anyone convince you that you are wrong for doing things that truly help you be the best version of yourself. 

“No” is a sentence. You are going to have so many great opportunities come your way, but you cannot and should not say “yes” to all of them. There will be times where you feel that you have to justify yourself for why you are saying “no” to something. You’ll also feel like you’re the biggest disappoint that there ever was when you have to decline a job or experience, but that is not true. The world will not combust if you don’t step up for every single position. Sometimes, the best way for you to take care of yourself is for you to step back and let someone else be in charge, even if it’s a job that you truly love.

There’s going to be a lot of really crappy stuff that happens. At times, it will feel like the world is going to end. However, there is going to be some really amazing stuff that’s going to come your way that will remind you just how wonderful life can be. There are times I wish I could go back in time and actually talk to you, 14 year-old Abby. Sometimes I wish I could go back and tell you to avoid certain people or situations. The thing is though, every event that will happen in your life will shape you into the strong woman you will become. So I’ll leave you with this: live your life to the fullest. Love everyone, including yourself, full heartedly, even when they hurt you. There will be so many more mountains that will outweigh the number of valleys. Be present in the moment and savor every minute of life. I promise I will do the same. 

 

Yours Truly, 

Abby

 

30 Tips on How to Not Suck at College

I’m about to begin my seventh year of college. Obviously, this makes me a complete and total expert on all things college. Whether you’re beginning community college or a four year university, I have devised a list of 30 Tips that I have picked up over my time as being a 15 year old homeschooler at Maple Woods and as my 21 year old self going into my final year of undergrad. It’s a mix of things I learned: both things people said to me that I took to heart and things people told me that I ignored/later regretted. Enjoy!

30 Tips on How to Not Suck at College

(In no particular order of importance)

  1. Guys, go to class. Seriously, don’t be stupid and skip all the time. Your mom and dad aren’t here to tell you to get up for school. Take some responsibility for your life and get your butt to class. 
  2. For the love of everything good and right in the world, backup your files. You know that flash drive that you rely on? That little thing that holds every paper you have to turn in this semester? Yeah, it’ll probably poop out on you during finals week. It takes like two seconds to drag and drop files into an online storage site like Google drive. Use it or you will call your parents sobbing in December. 
  3. Prioritize sleep. There are times I am planning my homework and social schedules around my bedtime. All-nighters are horrid and if you’re up until 3:30am every single night, you will be a miserable grump. 
  4. Get a job. Most campuses have a lot of on-campus work options, but towns that have colleges are usually pretty good with working with student schedules. 
  5. Know your resources. Schools often offer a lot of free services, like tutoring and counseling centers. 
  6. Drink more water than any other liquid. 
  7. If you feel like you’re the only person who isn’t drinking, don’t feel lame, cause you aren’t the only one. 
  8. If you are drinking, for the sake of you and everyone around you, be safe and considerate. Literally no one wants to have puke in their car or on their living room floor. 
  9. Join a club. Or two. Or six. Clubs are GREAT.
  10.  I am a huge advocate for flashcard studying. Focus on what you are writing and get a friend to quiz you on the cards you’ve made. 
  11. Don’t use your microwave for science experiments. If you’re wondering what happens to candy corn when you put it in the microwave, let me save you the trouble: it smells like burnt cotton candy and turns into sugary lava that breaks bowls. 
  12. Set clear ground rules with your roommate(s). If an issue comes up, talk about it and resolve it as soon as possible. The longer you let things fester, the quicker bitter feelings build up. 
  13. It is not the end of the world if you have to drop a class. Preferably, do it before deadlines hit so you can get if not all then some of your money back. 
  14. Professors have office hours: utilize them. 
  15. Become a secret agent in the dining hall. Some might frown upon smuggling out extra fruit or yogurt, but it’s a nice way to have study snacks for later. Also, you’re spending a ton of money already, might as well stretch your dollar. 
  16. People will get mad at you if you leave your clothes in the washer and/or dryer. This anger could lead to your clothes being tossed on the floor. Don’t be that person. 
  17. Take pictures and/or make videos with your college pals. This time does not last forever, so take advantage of the awesome tools we have to save some memories. 
  18. Look back at Tip #7. Same thing applies with sex. If you don’t want to have sex/ don’t feel ready for it, do not allow anyone to make you feel stupid for not doing stuff that you aren’t comfortable with. 
  19.  Find friends that you can work well alongside. I’ve been told by a few people to never work with your friends, but I beg to differ with that statement. The best work partner I’ve ever had is my best friend and the fact that he and I know each other so well makes work more enjoyable and manageable. 
  20. Learn how to budget, whether or not you have a job. 
  21. Find yourself a podcast that talks about a subject that interests you, especially if you have a long drive back home. This podcast can also come in handy on long walks to classes or having background noise for homework evenings. 
  22. Freaking text your mom. She misses you. 
  23. You don’t need as many clothes/shoes/accessories as you think you do. You’ll probably end up wearing the same pair of shoes everyday and honestly, no one really cares what you look like. 
  24. HOWEVER: If you enjoy dressing up, you do you! Don’t feel like you have to change yourself just because you’re starting college.   
  25. Even if you don’t like sports, try to go to a few games, especially if they’re free with your student ID. During my first year at Missouri Western, I randomly found a bunch of theatre majors at a football game and we had a grand time talking about our career goals while our team got whipped. 
  26. Not everyone knows what weed smells like before going to college, and no, you’re not dumb for not knowing what it smells like. If you’re like me and didn’t know until you lived on the fourth floor of a building (which causes all the smoke to float up to your room), it smells like skunk spray. 
  27. Sometimes, if your neighbor is being rowdy, instead of going straight to your RA, just knock on their door yourself. Half the time, it’s just a bunch of boys who look like they could still be in middle school yelling at a video game. They’ll be quieter if you tell them you have an 8am the next morning. 
  28. Do not rule out picking up new hobbies when you go to college. While yes, you shouldn’t change yourself, it’s good to expand your interests; it can lead to new friends! For example, I never thought I would be a WWE fan, but now I have a Ricochet t-shirt and I love Becky Lynch with all my heart. Watching wrestling with my fella’s roommates has opened up a whole new world of friendships that I wouldn’t have had if I had stuck to my mentality of, “ugh, no, I don’t wanna watch this because my cousin in middle school loves WWE.”
  29. Any time a teacher offers extra credit, do it. Don’t be a fool. 
  30. Understand that it’s normal and okay for your high school relationships to drift apart when you go to college. This was something I struggled with hardcore my first three semesters at Missouri Western. I had a death grip on my high school friendships that I wanted so badly to stay strong. Because of this, I wasn’t fully living in the moment and enjoying my new friends. There’s nothing wrong with missing your hometown pals, but know that you shouldn’t shut out the possibility of new relationships.

 

College is an awesome time of growth, self-discovery, and(as stressful as it can be) should be a ton of fun. Make the most of the time you have. You have no idea how fast time flies until you’re getting ready to pack up your life one last time for senior year. 

Do you have any tips to share about the college experience? I’d love to read them in the comments below! To everyone preparing for school to begin, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a great 2019/2020 school year! 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Sewing Class

On February 15th around 2:15pm, I thought about going back to my dorm room and swallowing all of my anti-depressants. It was a Thursday. I was sitting on a stool trying to focus on the demonstration my professor was doing, but the invasive thoughts kept whispering in my brain. It would make people happier. You wouldn’t have to keep trying so hard. You aren’t feeling anything anymore anyways. 

I had thought about suicide before for brief seconds, but this was the first time that there was an action plan. It was also the first time I was rationalizing the thought. Praise the Lord, I had the instinct to text Sweet Ben, who was across the room at a sewing machine, and my friend Nathan, who was across campus. I told them both about the thought and that I felt that I was safe, but that I was scared. I knew that my parents were already worried about my mental state, but I didn’t end up telling them about all this until about two weeks later. 

I thought about killing myself many more times during the following two months. I hated going to counseling appointments because I felt like a loser. I didn’t want to take my Prozac because I didn’t think it was helping. For the first time in my life, I experienced an extreme struggle to get out of bed each morning. Going to church wasn’t much easier, because I felt like God was mad at me. I wasn’t sure who actually liked me and was just waiting for every important person in my life to drop me. On one of my lower evenings, I admitted to Ben that there were times when I got in my car by myself that I hoped I would get in an accident to end my hurting. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever admitted to someone. 

During this period of my life, I was reading my bible every day. Not just reading a few verses and checking it off my list, but really studying the word and having a deep communication with the Lord. I had never felt closer in my relationship with God. So why was I contemplating ending my own life? Cause doesn’t it say God won’t ever give us more than we can handle? Doesn’t it say we are conquerors? Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? 

Here’s the thing: the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” is complete crap. Guys, we gotta stop using this phrase, because that’s not what the Bible is saying to us. It also can make you seem like a jerk when you are trying to comfort people who are hurting. There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians that is quoted all the time, especially during times of suffering. In chapter 10 verse 13, Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.” Friends, trials are not the same thing as temptations. If you jump over to James, chapter 1 says that, “No one undergoing trials should say, ‘I am being tempted by God.’ For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” It’s true that God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond our strength, but it does not say that we won’t deal with trials that feel like the world is falling down on us. God does not tempt us, but He does allow trials to enter our lives to sharpen and grow us. 

If you go over to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9a, you see that Paul is in a rough spot. He’s only about a paragraph into this letter to the church in Corinth when he unloads this. “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brother, of our affliction that took place in Asia: we were completely overwhelmed- beyond our strength-so that we even despaired of life. Indeed, we personally had a death sentence within ourselves…” 

O o f

Paul, the greatest missionary of all time, the guy who wrote a large chunk of the New Testament: he was open about the fact that he and his ministry partners felt so overwhelmed to the point of wanting to die. But look what Paul says in the second part of verse 9: “…so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises us. We have put our hope in Him that He will deliver us again.” God uses our afflictions to draw us closer to Him. He is the one who pulls us through the deep valleys. 

Here’s the hard truth: we live in a broken world. We have a sinful nature on an imperfect planet, and because things are not how God originally designed, crappy stuff happens in our lives. We often wonder why bad things happen or why we feel terrible, and the ultimate reason is that the world is not how it should be. People also often ask why God doesn’t stop all the terrible things that happen in the world, and that’s because we are creatures designed with free will. We get to choose how to handle our lives; God isn’t our puppet master. Rather, He wants to have a deep and meaningful relationship with us. 

Now, did I know in my heart that the paragraph above was true when I was going through my horrible patch of depression? Yes. Did it make things any better? Yes and no. Yes, because living with hope makes life so much more bearable. And no, because I don’t know about you, but when I’m having suicidal thoughts, I don’t want bible verses thrown at me with the hope that I’ll feel miraculously better. Of course, God could work this way if He wanted to, but He gets our emotions. Jesus got angry when He saw leaders leading poorly. Jesus cried with His friends when His buddy died, even when He knew that He was about to raise that guy from the dead. Heck, Jesus got to such an intense point of despair that He was sweating blood (look up hematidrosis; it’s insane). 

God gets our emotions, which is why He designed us to be relational beings. I was beyond blessed by the people in my life, specifically my roommates, my parents and Sweet Ben. My roommates sat with me while we drank hot beverages and would listen to my frustrations. My parents have been and always will be a safe spot for me to land, even when I’m not pleasant to be around. Sweet Ben held me when I was sobbing uncontrollably on multiple occasions. I was thankful that instead of telling me bible verses about how God is good and that everything happens for a reason all the time, my people loved on me when I didn’t love myself. I was never alone even when depression was rearing its ugly head. 

If you are struggling with scary thoughts, I implore you to seek out help. No one is meant to go through life alone. Sometimes it’s good to get someone else’s help with your burdens. Suicide is a permanent choice that rocks more peoples’ worlds than you could ever imagine. Ending your life is not the solution to your problems and it will certainly not make anyone’s life any easier. Every person is designed to love and to be loved by others; don’t rob people of the opportunity to have you in their life. 

Back towards the top of this page, I asked three questions: Doesn’t it say God won’t ever give us more than we can handle? Doesn’t it say we are conquerors? Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? Paul answered the first question for us, but what about the second two? 

 

So, are we conquerors? Yes.

Romans 8:37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who has loved us.

 

Doesn’t it say He will never leave us or forsake us? Yes (many times in fact).

 

Psalm 94:14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage

Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I’m writing this while I watch the sunset over a lake in Oklahoma. There are thousands of bugs out singing their very loud song. My cousin and her friend are making friendship bracelets. My aunts and uncles are chatting about jobs. A few boats are still out hanging out on the lake. Down the hill, I saw a momma dear with two little fawns. I am so grateful that I did not listen to the intrusive thoughts I dealt with this last semester. If I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here enjoying the simple joys of a summer road trip. Life can still be hard. I still struggle with self-loathing thoughts from time to time. I sometimes feel I’m not wanted. However, I am constantly reminded of God’s love for me through the people He has put in my life. I believe that God loves us through others. He gives us hugs through tender-hearted friends. He encourages us with a kind word via a caring companion. He wipes away our tears through the love of a steadfast confidant. 

It’s July 27th, around 8:30pm, and by God’s grace I haven’t dealt with the scary thoughts I first had in sewing class for a few months now. It’s a Saturday. I am happy to be alive and growing. While I have not been cured of depression (and may never be), I know Jesus has conquered all. Because of this knowledge, I know I too can be an overcomer. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please use the prevention lifeline. Every life is valuable. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

50 Ways to Love Another Human

There’s been a ton of “yuck” circulating as of late. It seems as if we’re spending a lot more time being angry with people instead of loving them. Regardless of race, gender, religion, political views, or whether or not the new “Cats” movie trailer gave you nightmares, all of us crave love in one way or another. A man named Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages” which talks about how there are five different ways that we express and receive love: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Touch, Gifts, and Quality Time. Everyone accepts and gives love in different ways. Some people feel more loved when you give them a hug over you giving them a gift. While you can transfer affection to others in many different ways, it is always good to know which of the five is most prevalent in the people you interact with on the daily. This is super helpful in romantic relationships, but you can apply it to friendships and even work relationships. I’ve devised a list of 50 ways you can show love to another person  within the five categories of the love languages. That being said, let’s kick it off with…

 

Words of Affirmation: Expressing words to build someone up

*Note: Words can go a long way, whether positive or negative.*

 

1) Compliment their outfit (this works for girls and guys, friends)

2) Post something awesome about them on social media 

3) Make them a playlist that reminds you of them 

4) Text them motivational quotes 

5) Write them fun messages on sticky notes

6) Spam their Snapchat 

7) Remind them of what makes them unique and awesome

8) Encourage them to pursue their passions

9) Validate their emotions 

10) Tell them you’re proud of them 

 

Acts of Service: Doing things to serve another person that take effort

*Note: When doing an act of service, positivity is key. Tasks done negatively or out of obligation don’t come across as loving.*

 

11) Wipe down their kitchen counter 

12) Cover the bill

13) Make them a hot beverage

14) Offer to drive

15) Help with laundry

16) Watch their favorite show/movie

17) Untangle headphones 

18) Make them a home cooked meal

19) Do the dishes (even when they aren’t yours)

20) Ask, “How can I make your life better today?”

 

Touch: Sharing a connection physically

*Note: Just because a person has Touch as their top language does not mean they only want sexual touch*

 

21) Make up a super cool handshake

22) Be intentional with hugs 

23) Give high fives 

24) Pat their back 

25) Play with their hair 

26) Sit close to them

27) Quick kiss on the cheek

28) Make eye contact when in conversation 

29) Respect boundaries 

30) If you know they are not a touchy person, ask if it’s okay to touch them before hugs/pats on the back, etc. 

 

Gifts: Giving a meaningful gift that makes another person feel thought of

*Note: This does not mean a person is materialistic if they have Gifts as their primary love language.*

 

31) Bring something home from a vacation 

32) Surprise them with their favorite candy

33) Find a cool rock? Give that to them and say, “I think you rock.” 

34) Pick wildflowers 

35) Fill a journal with photos and written memories with them

36) Purchase a book you know they would enjoy

37) Take them to a thrift store and find a second-hand treasure to give them

38) Bring them their favorite beverage

39) Frame your favorite photo of the two of you together 

40) Spend a quarter on one of those fun toy vending machines

 

Quality Time: Undivided attention 

*Note: Dedicating specific time for this person is important, which means canceling plans can really hurt.*

 

41) Read a book out loud together

42) Talk without phones present

43) Have a girl’s night complete with face masks and manicures

44) Play a board game

45) Go to the park

46) Try out a new coffee shop neither one of you have visited

47) Take a _______ class together (cooking, painting, etc.)

48) Run errands together

49) Watch a tv show together

50) Volunteer together 

 

Below, I’ve attached a link to the Five Love Languages Quiz. If you’re interested to know what your ranking of the five categories is, I strongly encourage you to check it out. I have found that knowing the love languages of people I care about has been super helpful in being a better friend and companion. Take time today to spread love to others. It’s important to remember that even though all of us have different opinions, we all still need to be loved by others. Just because someone thinks about the world in a way that you don’t agree with doesn’t mean that they are any less deserving of love and respect. 

 

Link to Quiz!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby 

 

How to Design for a Show

I’ve had the pleasure to work in projection, prop and set design over the past few years. You could say I’ve become somewhat of an expert at the design process. Today, I’d like to share with you my fool-proof method of how to successfully complete any design job. 

 

Let’s say you just got hired to do a projection design.

  1. Sit down with the director to get their vision for the show. This is best done with all the other designers present. 
  2. Read the script for fun. 
  3. Read the script, looking for themes throughout the text. 
  4. Read the script again as a designer. 
  5. Read the script one more time, just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Keep in mind that you can go back and read the script at any time during this process (which you probably should do). 
  6. Doodle and research a lot, until you come up with as many awesome ideas as possible. 
  7. Ideally, you have gone through the script at least four months before the show goes up. Layout a timetable for yourself. Deadlines are super helpful. 
  8. Spend the first few weeks working super diligently on your designs. 
  9. Remember that you’re also a full-time student.
  10. Try and pass your Spanish class.
  11. Realize you have three months until the show opens, so you probably ought to start animating that really complicated piece now so that you don’t have to stress over it later. 
  12. Decide to blow off animating to go hang out with pals. You’ve got time. 
  13. Get assigned a group project in your Spanish class that you end up doing 90% of the work for because your partner is a slacker. 
  14. Spend an eight hour day animating a good chunk of your content. It is recommended to have a few cups (or gallons) of coffee to get you through the day. 
  15. Go to production meetings and realize that you’re both ahead and behind schedule. 
  16. Ponder how this is possible. 
  17. Flunk a Spanish test.
  18. Go to tutoring more consistently. 
  19. Realize the show opens in a month and you have a ton of work left to be done. 
  20. P A N I C
  21. Use the adrenaline that comes from procrastination to make some awesome content. 
  22. Program your designs. 
  23. Realize that there are about 9 ½ glitches in your designs. 
  24. Rerender those trouble spots. 
  25. Possibly cut some pieces of your design during tech week. 
  26. Possibly add some pieces to your design during tech week. 
  27. Cross your fingers and pray really hard during opening night that your design reads well on stage. 
  28. Collapse into your bed, resolving to do a better job planning and managing your time during the next job. 
  29. Accept the next job. 
  30. Repeat. 

 

Remember when I said I was an expert at the design process? Yeah, that was a big fat lie. To be quite honest, I don’t think anyone ever becomes a complete expert at this ridiculous process, especially when you’re still in school. Each show is its own beast, and the challenges you ran into during the last show most likely won’t be the ones you’ll deal with on the next job. You must be willing to constantly learn as you work; it’s part of the gig. The thing that’s really great about the theatre community is that there are a lot of really talented people to work alongside and learn from. No design process will be 100% smooth, but there’s a certain beauty in the rough spots. It’s from the rough spots that we become better artists and problem solvers, and because of this, we make better art. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby

 

Revisits: La La Land

Conversation between me and my best friend

 Me: Did I ever tell you the first time I saw “La La Land” was with Micah?

Avery: Wait what?

Me: Yeah, we didn’t realize it was a romantic comedy until we were watching it. 

Avery: And you saw it in theaters?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: Just the two of you?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life. 

(Y’all don’t need context. Micah, if you’re reading this, I love you and I’m glad we have a solid enough friendship that we were able to go watch a movie musical together and have an intellectual chat afterwards about it without it being a date.)

 

I cannot tell you how many of my cinema friends are going to jump down my throat for writing about this movie, but who cares. I love this movie, maybe even more than I did when I first wrote about it in 2017. I thought it would be interesting to do a revisit to how I felt about this film two years ago. Words in bold are the ones I wrote in 2017, which have not been altered in any way. The writing in italics are from my 2019 self. Enjoy!

 

January 7, 2017

La La Land is a mean movie. It’s a beautiful piece of film, has catchy tunes, really fun dancing, costumes I wish were in my closet, and a wonderful score that I must find the sheet music for. One of my biggest stress relievers is to play through the songs in the easy version of the score I bought for someone else. As someone who doesn’t have a ton of time to practice consistently, it’s nice to have the easy versions of movie scores to sight-read. THE ENDING THOUGH WAS AWFUL. Okay, maybe awful isn’t the correct word. It ended how real life usually goes, which, sometimes, can be awful even in good circumstances. “Awful” was how I always used to describe the end of this film. Let’s see if I still feel that way. 

Some many people I know loved this film. Many of the posts in my Facebook feed have been the praises of La La Land and how it was so inspiring. It’s true; it is an inspiring film. Two people fall in love with each other and believe in each other’s dreams. They push each other to be better. They fight for each other’s goals. But the thing is, they don’t fight for each other. I didn’t get the idealistic/hopeless romantic ending I wanted. Here’s the thing about this movie: it is not about the love of two people. This film is a love letter to Los Angeles. While there is a depiction of a year long relationship, the story is  more so about the two lovers chasing their dreams, not each other. 

The montage that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters have at the end of the movie of “what could have been” caused a huge stir of emotions. At the forefront of these emotions was what was happening right in front of me. These two, fictional people both had their own dream worlds, or La La Lands, where they both achieved greatness and kept the romantic bond between them. If they had made different choices throughout their life, sure, they could have ended up together at the end of the movie like how probably 95% of the audience wanted them to. Probably not 95%, but you get the idea.  Instead though, she pursued her acting career, got married to a caring husband and had a beautiful little girl, and he finally opened his pure jazz club, which is hugely successful and brought the fulfillment he was looking for. They’re lives are both good, but they let go of the relationship in order to chase dreams. 

I have my goals and dreams. Do I want to achieve them? Of course. As the credits started to roll though, I began to think of how one day, I will be parting ways with the people I love so much now. Take Doc (Micah; I used code names for my friends when I was writing in this document because I was paranoid someone would read it), who came to the movie with me after a lot of bickering over why I was willing to go to Lee’s Summit to ride out with him so we could talk instead of just driving to Kansas myself. Avery and I joke that my love language is “quantity time.” He’s one of the most brilliant people I know (still true), and one of the people I love most in my life. Come this Fall though, we’re going to part way. I went to St. Joseph, Missouri to study theatre at Missouri Western. He moved to New York City to study at King’s College. Doc is going to be extremely successful no matter what he ends up doing, but it hurts to think that I most likely won’t be as close to him as I am now to watch him succeed. 

The people I hold dear won’t always be there. My friends and I, we’re all growing up. We’re all gonna go to different colleges. We all have different dreams, and those dreams aren’t intertwined with other people. Correction: dreams are always intertwined with other people. They just might not be the ones that you think they are. Our goals are for ourselves, no one else, and that’s okay. God gave us all the drive to do our best at whatever we do. It hurts though to think about life without these people. The countless coffee runs, the banter and teasing, the walks, the laughs, the jam sessions; one day, those will be fond memories that we’ll tell our kids about. But will be all be together 20 years from now? Chances are, no, and it really, really sucks to dwell on. This used to be something that I would dwell on a lot and honestly really didn’t come to peace with until a few months ago. 

Which is why I will do my best not to dwell on it. See above; I wasn’t super successful with that. I will continue to encourage my friends in theirs dreams. If I can help them reach their goals, I’ll do everything I can to assist. If there’s an opportunity to tell one of them that they are so valued and loved, you bet I’ll take every chance I can to do so. I want to try and stick by Dickinson’s words in reference to the “nows”. I was referring to a poem by Emily Dickinson which says, “Forever – is composed of Nows.” Focusing on how life will change someday will absolutely ruin the fleeting time I have left. You can’t be stuck in your La La Land: the real world never works out exactly how you want it to, and that’s okay. 

Man, I really love my friends. 

Alright, two years later. I love this film still, and I love the people that were in my life in 2017. However, as I predicted, most of them are not in my life anymore. Sure, we float in and out of each other’s lives on a rare occasion, but my core group of friends now is very different from what it was in high school. I’ve become a new Abby. Not necessarily a different one, but an older and somewhat wiser one. I’ve learned to not have a death grip on relationships. I used to get very upset when faced with the fact that just about all of the people you encounter in your lifetime will not remain there forever. While yes, it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a relationship, this does not mean that you have tight fists on relationships or circumstances. If you spend too much time and energy on your current situation, you may find that you were blinded to a new path that is 100x better than what you already have. 

If you find that a relationship you thought was going to last a lifetime ends, an opportunity you really wanted falls through, or you just feel like life is at a standstill, remember that forever truly is composed of “nows.” Your La La Land dream might not play out like you thought it would, but I think you’ll find what ends up happening is better than your favorite Oscar-snubbed-musical film. It’s easier said than done (believe me, I know), but learn to hold your life with open palms instead of clenched fists. The less time you spend worrying about trying to control your ideal dream the more time you’ll have enjoying your beautiful life. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

Designing for “Little Women”

I’m the type of person who prefers dark room photography over digital photography. I enjoy shooting a roll of film, the terrifying process of developing that roll, and the tedious cycle of getting a perfect print. I feel that the work it takes to get that wonderful satisfaction of a single print is so often underrated and taken for granted. The same can be said for technical theatre at times. There isn’t the rush of receiving a standing ovation after a show-stopping performance. Instead, there are hours upon hours of staring at your sketches, trying an idea, throwing that idea out, debating with directors and fellow designers, trying new ideas, and wondering if what you’re doing is truly worth all the effort. But when you get something just right, you feel like you’re on top of the world. When you know that you have constructively contributed to a performance with your design, it makes the countless hours of the process worth it.

It wasn’t until high school that I discovered that I could have a viable career in the technical and design aspects of theatre. I had grown up performing in four to seven shows a year, so I was constantly surrounded by new designs. As I began to research where to go after I finished my associates degree, I initially looked at art schools in the Kansas City area. The problem with this plan was that I was going to lose the theatrical outlet I had become so used to while growing up. During my last few years of high school, I was given the opportunity to experiment in set, lighting, prop, and costume design while also performing in shows at our local community theatre. I loved the collaboration that happened between directors and designers; it was a whole new world to what I had known from just being an actor. A few directors who had seen my studio art over the years suggested that I look into theatrical design more seriously.

It was a wonderful change of plans that I ended up at Missouri Western, where I have been able to not only major in theatre, but also gain a minor in animation. Since transferring, I have had the opportunity to do my first projection design project in which I created all the content during, “Little Women: The Broadway Musical.” The set of animations included eleven digital backdrops that were designed in such a way that drawings would appear to be sketched onto the screen and then filled in with watercolors. There was also an element of typography work that was used during the song, “Fire Within Me.” While the main character, Jo, writes multiple stories throughout the course of the show, it is during this number that she is finally writing from her heart, which is why I wanted the words to be visually written out while she gave her monologue. Along with the text, I provided sketches of every cast member with various symbols that represented the character. I used these as the content to create a set of images that would cycle through during the pre-show and intermission. I spent three months in pre-production, five months in production and spent the two months leading up to the performances polishing my work. I have yet to experience a more gratifying feeling than seeing my art on stage in such a way, and I am itching to go through the process again.

I believe that there is so much to be discovered in the digital media side of theatre. Having the opportunity to grow as an artist throughout this process was character building and stretched me in more ways than I ever could have imagined. It was a happy accident that my original pitch for the backdrops was for them to be from Amy’s sketchbook, since I got to portray her while going through the design process. Creating the art for the show in a way was a chance for me to do character work for Miss March. Getting to dive into the world of projection design with a show that is near and dear to my heart was a fantastic learning experience, and I can’t wait to work on my next project!

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Here’s a video that shows everything I created for Little Women; enjoy!

Revisits: Watson

This Revisit goes out to my best friend, Avery: the Thor to my Loki, the Watson to my Sherlock, and the most wonderful coffee pal a girl could ever ask for. I wrote this two years ago when I was getting over a cold, and the feelings remain the same. For reference: the original 2017 text is in bold, and my 2019 commentary is in italics. Enjoy!

January 10th, 2017

    There are certain people you meet that you know will go the distant distance in the friendship department. I’ve come to the realization that I won’t be in contact with the friends I see frequently now forever (how true, how true), but if there was one person I could count on to be a friend for life, it would be Watson. When I first started writing this document in 2017, I had the idea that I would publish it once the year was over. Because of this, I changed all my friends’ names. Fun fact: Avery is in my phone as “Watson” because it’s really satisfying to tell Siri to, “Call Watson.” While there have been times where we’ve fallen out of each other’s lives, we always manage to find our ways back to each other and pick up right where we started. YEAH LIKE WHEN YOU ONLY GET TO FACEBOOK EACH OTHER ONCE WHILE SHE’S IN INDIA FOR FOUR MONTHS.

    Her spirit and go-with-the-flow attitude is something I aspire to obtain. I’m Type A to the letter. I don’t think this is actually a phrase… *goes to Google* Yeah, I don’t think people say that. I want plans and structure in my life. Due to friends like her though, I am beginning to understand that it’s okay to relax and just let life happen at times (hence the only way I’m getting through this bed rest situation). OH YEAH. Okay, so backstory: I wrote this after having a doctor’s appointment where they told me I was having issues with my voice because I was overly exhausted. The good doctor told me the only thing I could really do was, “actually rest.” Ha. Ha. It took me another two years to actually figure out how to chill out. She jumps into adventures head on, it’s so awesome. ‘Tis true. She has done a lot of adventurous things in her life. I was the buzz-kill mom friend who was afraid of getting in trouble, so I didn’t have as many adventures.

      Ah, here is where we admit one of our biggest insecurities. There have been times where I’ve gotten upset because I’m never really a part of her social media presence. Yep. It’s kind of a really dumb thing to get upset about though. Let me explain myself a bit though. If you haven’t figured out yet from previous blogs, I am a very sentimental person. I take photos all the time and scrapbook like it’s a sport. I often go out of my way to capture selfies with friends even when they poke fun at me for it because I want to hold onto memories in as many ways as I can. However, not everyone is like that, and that’s something I’ve had to accept. While there are a the occasions where I’ll feel a little bummed to not be present on someone’s social media feed, it’s not something that should mess up a solid friendship. Ten years ago, that wasn’t even a thing, and I’m pretty sure that’s how long we’ve known each other. You don’t need to validate friendships through social media. Though I enjoy posting photos with my friends, a relationship is not validated by how many snapshots you have with someone on the internet.

    Today, Watson brought me coffee. I remember this day so distinctly, which is ironic to me because I was half-dead to the world. The last few days, I’ve been trapped in the house due to this stupid cold. We were supposed to go get coffee this afternoon at this neat place in Liberty, but I had to cancel due to the fact that it feels like there are baby elephants sitting on my sinuses. Wow, creative comparison  Abby. After texting her, she decided to bring me some yummy coffee from Caribou. It was quite delightful, and made me feel good that I had a friend who would do that for me. Honestly, it’s really easy to make my day. A sure fire way is to bring me a coffee, but literally, if someone brought me a rock and said, “Hey, I was walking, saw this rock, and thought you would think it was cool so I brought it to you,” I would be grinning for the rest of the day.

    You know who’s going to stick around for the long haul. There are going to be times where friends leave to move on to live their own lives. As we all should do, to be honest. That’s okay; people come into our lives when we need them, and sometimes, you drift apart as you grow into different people.  It can be good even. I mean, look at La La Land. Actually, no, I don’t want to think of that movie. I have a few friends who will make fun of me for this, but I love that film and at some point, I will be writing about it. Stay tuned.

    My point is, Watson is a friend that I feel like will always be there. We might be a world away from each other, but when we grow up, we’ll be able to go get coffee or look around a thrift store just like we used to. She’s a thrifting queen and I wish I had her skills. We could both have our babies on our hip and we’ll still make fun of the boys in our lives. She’s gonna laugh at that sentence. You just know, you know?

    Friends are important. The people we surround ourselves with shape us into the person that we become. I still regret the times that I blew off Watson to hang out with the “popular” kids. Ugh, being a people-pleaser to the unhealthy people in my life throughout high school was rough. It was so much time that was wasted where we could have gotten even closer. But, you can’t live in regrets. My sorrys have been said, and I have a wonderful friend who has my back, even when my face is stuffed up. She’s a quality human, that one. I’m glad I have her in my life as my partner in crime.

    God designed us to have community with one another. There are some people who are only there for a season, but others that will stick with you for years upon years. Be weary not to waste your precious time on people who are not looking out for your best interests. Not everyone will be your friend, and that’s okay. We would go crazy if we had to maintain friendships with every single person we ever encountered! However, with those friends we do hang onto, we have a responsibility to nurture them to the best of our abilities. I hope to never stop learning how I can be a good steward of the relationships God has blessed me with over the years. Avery, thank you for your friendship over the years: I am so grateful for you.

Cherish the people around you; they truly are a gift.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Lessons from Chad and Rachel

Today, twenty five years ago, my parents Chad and Rachel committed to spending the rest of their lives together. For the past two decades, I have had the blessing of having them as my parents, and over this time, I have learned so many things from them that have shaped me into the person I am today.

  1. Always have cookies ready for company.
  2. Grief is different for every person, and it’s okay to take the time you need to work through emotions.
  3. When going on a road trip, stopping at the gas station for snacks is important.
  4. There is a specific way to grip a golf club.
  5. You have to do different voices for each character when you read books out loud.
  6. Learning bible verses is easier when you have a song to learn them.
  7. Mom is a better driving teacher (sorry Dad :P)
  8. It’s good to seek out help when you need it.
  9. Singing while making breakfast go hand in hand.
  10. Being creative is worthwhile.
  11. Know when and how to say you’re sorry.
  12. People will break your heart, but your family will always be there for you.
  13. When faced with difficult circumstances, never stop persisting.
  14. Use candy canes as a stir stick for coffee.
  15. Make sure to add seasoned salt to scrambled eggs.
  16. Do not forget to say, “Uno” when playing said card game. There is no mercy.
  17. Being present is vital.
  18. Do not send snapchats that embarrass your family members.
  19. You are not defined by grades (because math is hard).
  20. If you do something, make sure to get a picture.
  21. Your husband should never stop pursuing you.
  22. As a wife, being submissive does not mean being a mouse; it means being a loyal life partner.
  23. Find a man who will be a good father to your kids.
  24. Be a woman who never stops learning and growing.
  25. Most importantly, at the end of the day, the best lesson my parents have taught me is that God loves me and wants a relationship with me. For that, I am eternally grateful.

There are so many other things I could have added to this list. I am so blessed to be part of the Wolff Pack, and I will never be able to fully express my thanks to the two who have never stopped supporting me. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.
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Until Next Time,

Abby