Revisits: Coffee Shop Romance

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

…is that just me?

*shrugs*

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

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

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January 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

 

My Top Five Stage Injuries (As of March 2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

In Defense of Amy March

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Until Next Time,

Abby

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Learning to be a Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Things to Stop Saying to Yourself

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

Self Care Tips from Someone Bad at Self Care

(Don’t let my beautiful coffee cup photo I took in South Dakota fool you; this post is full of Michael Scott gifs.)

 

I am horrible at taking care of myself. There are times I forget to eat, drink water, or do basic activities unless I have written them down in my planner. However, over the past two months, I have been proactive in making positive life changes in order to better enjoy my college experience. Below are five tips that are given all the time but are too often ignored. Sometimes we need a friendly reminder of the obvious things in life in order to make lasting change.  

1) SLEEP

The first thing I tell any incoming freshmen is to prioritize sleep. It is really easy to think that you need to stay up through the wee hours of the night to get your mountains of homework done and/or to maintain your social life. The truth is that most of the time, it is better to recharge than to try and cram subpar effort into a homework assignment. Trust me, sometimes it will do you a world of good to just hang up the towel for the night and take a crack at it in the morning with a fresh set of eyes.

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2) Learn the Magic Word

You think the magic word is, “please” don’t you? WRONG. It’s a little two-letter word that does wonders. Say it with me now: N-O. NO! It’s great! And you know what? It will NOT be the end of the world if you say “no” to something. All the things that are filling your calendar could be relatively good things. However, if you are spending most of your time being stressed out by your to do list, it’s time to take some things off your plate. Thankfully, I have people in my life who have helped me take better care of myself by calling me out when I start to get to the point of being overwhelmed. Sometimes saying “no” to a good opportunity will open you up to even better opportunities in the future. 

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3) Set aside 15 minutes a day for you

This is something my vocal professor started telling me last semester and it has been a part of my bullet journal for the past two months. In the midst of crazy class schedules, work, and extra-curriculars, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time for yourself. No matter how busy you are though, it is so important to take time to do things that bring you joy, even if its for a short period of time. Whether it’s coloring, playing Super Smash Bros, playing the ukulele or taking your dog on a walk, set your timer for at least 15 minutes a day to do something that does not involve a textbook.

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4) Use your resources

I am extremely blessed to go to a college that has many free resources available to us as students. I have spent a lot of time both in the tutoring center and the counseling office. Access to free homework help and therapy has been unbelievably helpful. Take time to figure out what resources your school offers and take advantage of them! You’re already paying for it, might as well get the most out of your student fees.

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5) Be plugged into community

Everyone needs friends. More importantly, everyone needs friends who are on the same wavelength as them. My first semester of school was rough in the friend department. I felt like I was on an island most of the time and with being an extrovert, that was terribly lonely and energy draining. Sometimes, it takes stepping out of your comfort zone for ten seconds to be able to see opportunities at new friendships. So join a club, attend that RA event or talk to your neighbor in Spanish. You never know when you’ll meet your next great pal.

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College can be one of the most stressful things you ever experience in life, or it can be one of the best stages of your adulthood. For a while, school was something I dreaded, but as I’ve begun to take better care of myself, I’ve learned how to better handle the constant stress that gets thrown my way. When you take care of yourself, you tend to be happier, and when you’re happier, trials that come up in life don’t seem as frustrating. It is so important to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. So I challenge you to find at least five things you can do to better improve your overall state of being. You owe it to yourself to be the best student you can be!

 

Until Next TIme,

Abby

 

Things I Learned from Disney Princesses

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

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

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

Aurora- Sometimes, naps are really heckin’ important. 

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

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

Jasmine- Don’t settle.

Pocahontas- Nature is glorious and screams out creativity. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moana- Family is the most important thing. 

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

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

Strategic Lack of Effort

You sit around the war room table, ill-prepared for the battles that are about to take place. The leader of one of the neighboring factions reads the rules of warfare to the collective of five divisions. None of you fully understand these mysterious words that are being read, but you feel as if you get the gist of it and cautiously begin your mission to secure borders.

The war begins at a slow pace. The four men you are plotting against claim their territories, while you, the only female, quickly secure what used to be known as South America. You observe as battles break out in the old European territories. One faction leader in particular (a boisterous, bearded fellow who gets quite excited when he wins) seems to be unstoppable. His mark of purple terror spreads like wildfire. You realize that he must be stopped, no matter what the cost.

You send your troops north to invade North American territories, as well as to the east to join the effort in toppling the purple army. You try to defeat the lone soldier, Reginald, in Southern Europe, but have the worst luck you’ve ever seen in battle and lose three men, causing you to retreat. Some battles are successful, others devastating. No matter how the battles turn out though, the bearded general cannot seem to be thwarted by any of the other faction leaders.

Throughout the war, you form a quiet alliance with the dashing leader of the mechanical army to your right. You move past the fact that you tried to slay his prized commander, Reginald, knowing that you must stop the nonsensical violence. As battles rage on, the two of you work together to strategize the demolishment of the tank battalion. While your comrade keeps the enemy at bay, you successfully take over the North American base. Both you and the awkward, new age Nazi leader are now head to head in the race to end the war. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

You study the lay of the land to find the best way to victory. You realize that if that you can claim the European headquarters, you can resolve the mindless bloodshed. But, it is your ally’s base that you must invade. In a moment of bluntness, you exclaim, “If you let me conquer you, we can beat Jon!” You don’t necessarily process how odd this sentence is; you are hyper focused on winning this war.

The leader of the mechanical army agrees to your master plan. Through a blatant lack of effort, your comrade loses his headquarters to you, even while the other generals shout at him to not let his biases blind him to the end goal. The end goal though has become larger than the individual: everyone’s mission is to defeat the Nazis. After hours of struggle, you have won the war. You sign the peace treaty, but prepare yourself for the next war that will inevitably break out again in the foreseeable future.

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(Haven’t written in second person in a hot second, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was from a riveting game of Risk: Legacy that was played very late at night with my boyfriend and his roommates. Not gonna lie, was very proud of myself for winning the first of fifteen wars that will be fought over the rest of this semester, even though I thoroughly embarrassed myself with my outbursts. While the future wars are unclear, one thing is certain: we can never let Jon win. Stay tuned for possible new story times.)

 

Until Next Time,

Abby

A Month on Prozac

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until Next Time,

Abby

 

Becoming an Unapologetic Taylor Swift Fan

Two years ago, I was sitting on the couch amidst the chaos of Meltonshire Christmas. My dear friend Suz, whom I used to follow around as a starry eyed ten year old when she 49814843_2295867917315745_5896481448726102016_nwas a colorful, outgoing thirteen year old, was talking about the upcoming Taylor Swift Reputation Tour. I had recently begun listening to the new album and was finding that I truly enjoyed it. I hadn’t listened to Taylor’s tunes consistently for a few years, but was finding myself getting pumped in the morning by this new album. Then Suz, the best gift-giver I have ever met in my whole life, offered to buy me, her sister-in-law and our Taylor-Swift-expert friend tickets to the stop in Tampa. With Suz living in Orlando year round, it was the perfect excuse to go down and visit my “sister”, while getting to experience my first actual concert. Let me tell you, committing to a trip down to Florida eight months in the future was one of the most spontaneous choices I’ve ever made in my life, but a choice I will forever be grateful for.

 


Here’s the deal with Taylor for me: I’ve always liked her. I remember in being in sixth
50255259_2281043228805055_4998270209354629120_ngrade and singing “Love Story” at a karaoke event, and some of the first songs I learned on guitar were ones that she had written. But as seventh grade rolled around, Taylor Swift became less cool. The “popular” girls now rolled their eyes at the country/pop singer. Me, being a confused and very nerdy middle schooler, began to listen to the voices of my peers’ opinions, and in turn, began to listen to the music I enjoyed less and less. Even when I started homeschooling and went to community college, I found myself floating away from the music I liked because of how other people talked about the artists. I was focused on others’ opinions instead of forming my own.

 

Fast forward to August 2018. The anticipation of the trip made my heart race every time 49343010_2270982129815967_3729155219322306560_n.jpg
my brain wandered to it. Samantha and I made crafting runs to create my “Feelin’ so Gatsby” look. I have the “Reputation” album on repeat as I drive between jobs. I’m scrolling through hashtags previous concert goers had used to see a glimpse of what I was in for. Still though, I’m not an open fan. Truth be told, when certain people asked me what I was most excited about for summer break, I would be slightly embarrassed to say, “I’m so hyped to see Taylor Swift live!” A part of my brain was sent back to middle school, where girls who set all the trends that flooded the halls declared that only weirdos listened to that stuff.

 

 


50223045_275772673116648_5145700386333523968_nAmong my close gal pals on the trip though, I felt truly safe to be open. My friend Marri is one of my biggest role models in being an unapologetic fan. I swear, this woman knows Taylor Swift better than most people know themselves. And here’s the thing about Marri: she doesn’t give a crap what you think of her, at least, she’s led me to believe this is the case. For as long as I’ve known her, she’s been loud and proud about her opinions, and people listen to her due to her confidence. She probably doesn’t know this, but her unyielding passion and exuberance for the things she enjoys has inspired me, especially as I enter further into my 20’s (Marri, if you’re reading this, hi, you’re great and I love you).

 


Florida was a dream. The Dampa Squad (yes, I meant to type Dampa, not Tampa; if you’ve been to Florida you understand why) graced the streets of DisneyWorld in mouse 39186571_2100793379973259_8932990053886459904_oears and glitter, enjoyed the wonders of a moon sand beach (right before getting caught in a rainstorm), and dressed to the nines at the Taylor Swift tour. Throughout the week, I grew relationships with girls I had known and looked up to for years and grew new friendship with a gal who quickly become a wonderful counsel (Hi, Caileigh). And let me tell you, I cannot do justice to the emotions I felt while at that concert. Lyrics that I didn’t even know I knew by heart were being shouted as I danced like no one was watching. There were multiple times words from songs brought tears to my eyes as I reflected on how far I’ve come in life. As dumb as it can sound, going to the concert made me realize I wasn’t alone in my appreciation of this talented artist.

 

img_3639The semester following the concert was full of extreme highs and lows. Through successes and heartbreak, I was beginning to listen to Taylor’s music consistently as I once had. Her words inspired me and pushed me forward. In the midst of a breakup, I did such a stereotypical thing that makes even me chuckle now: I began playing music again. Being a busy theatre and animation student, playing piano or guitar was an activity that I never made time for. During a much needed snow day though, I picked up my precious green guitar and spent an hour playing some of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. Let me tell you, my fingers hurt like HECK after not playing for months, but the joy my soul felt after making music was infectious to my overall mood.

 

Here’s my overarching point to this ramble: don’t let other people’s opinions keep you 50248155_2195147897414057_8624359927403511808_nfrom enjoying the things that make you feel alive. There’s always gonna be someone who thinks what you enjoy is silly (let me refer you to my Twilight post for a direct quote). However, we are all created unique, including our different interests and passions. Can you imagine if all of us liked all the same exact things? UGH! So boring! As you dive deeper into 2019, I challenge you to be unapologetic in what you love; you never know how it could affect people. For example, while sitting in a coffee shop furiously typing this post to meet my deadline, I ended up wandering around to give my brain a break. This led to a conversation with a lovely barista, who I not only found out liked Taylor Swift, but Doctor Who as well, a show near and dear to my heart. I’ve decided that we should be best friends. Be proud of your passions, my friends. You never know when they could possibly change your life.

 

Until Next Time,

 

Abby

 

Some of my favorite tunes:

“New Years Day”

“All Too Well”

“Love Story”

“Mean”

“Long Live”