This weekend I will be away at a marriage prep retreat through my church with my fiance, and so am taking the time off from the blog to prepare. I would also like to use this space to ask for prayers for my fiance and me as we enter in to this period of serious discernment leading up to the wedding at the end of the year. We could use all of your well-wishes and support!
Last week, I did something crazy: I tried out for a musical. Now, I haven’t been in a musical since I graduated college three years ago (split-role of Narrator from Joesph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat). Before that, I hadn’t really been active in theatre since I was taking classes at the Academy of Theatre Arts in middle school. I love theatre, but circumstances in high school had discouraged me from pursuing it, so I had essentially let that dream die in the water.
Recently, however, I had been showing my fiance the things about theatre I had learned. The things I loved about theatre. He suggested that I should start doing them again. I had laughed at him: who would take me seriously? I might still be able to sing, but I hadn’t done acting classes since I was twelve.
Fast forward to last week. A local theatre announced that it was holding open auditions for American Idiot. I haven’t ever seen the musical, but I love the CD and I liked the general story. Even better, they were considering females for one of the traditionally male leads. At first, I simply dreamed about what it would feel like to go to the auditions. And then I mentioned it to my mum, off-handedly. She suggested that I go for it. My fiance started picking out songs.
So I thought “What the heck?” and went for it. I chose ‘Disenchanted’ by My Chemical Romance as my audition song, and practiced it with a YouTube video of a piano accompaniment until I literally almost lost my voice (thank you, Throat Coat!). And, heart hammering in my chest, I went to the auditions Friday night. I tried out with four other girls- sang my song, danced a wicked cool dance combination, and then went home.
I woke up the next morning the to e-mail: I had been invited to callbacks, being considered for the traditionally male lead. I’d proven myself wrong- they’d taken me seriously. I had a full day to prepare for the callbacks and take this shot at getting myself back into theatre.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a fairy-tale ending. Come callbacks that Sunday, I ended up losing my place in the duet song and botched it horribly (my own reason for why I feel I deserved to get cut earlier on in the callbacks, there are a million of other reasons that I might have missed). Casting went out, and there was no role for me. I was disappointed in myself for messing up and ruining my own chances for going further. I ended up in an almost three-day funk because I had been so close to that dream again, and again was not good enough.
But the thing about this whole episode that keeps me sane, that makes me a better person and writer, isn’t the whether or not I got into the musical. It was the lesson that I needed to take myself seriously to have other people do the same. It was the lesson that I can still do things spontaneously. That I was good enough for a second look just as I am. Maybe if I worked at it more, who knows? I could try out again. Maybe get into the next one. Or maybe I take this lesson with me when I try to contact book stores for readings, or English classes for guest-lessons. Maybe I allow it to be just another one of those experiences that make up the vast library of experiences that I can put into my writing, both poetry and fiction. Maybe I take away the fact that I had an entire horde of people willing to support me, believe in me and back me up no matter what the outcome of the auditions.
New experiences don’t have to have one goal in mind for them to be considered good for us. We don’t have to complete things the way we wanted to. We don’t have to win for them to become another part that brings us to a more complete whole. That audition has become a part of who I am now, and propels me forward with what I’ll do tomorrow. What kind of decisions I’ll make. What kind of risks I’ll take.
So go for the new experiences. Even if you feel ridiculous. Even if you feel like people won’t take you seriously, or that you aren’t good enough to come in first place or do the experience ‘right’.
What new things have you been wanting to experience lately? What has been holding you back?
When I knew I was going to commit to getting back into my blog writing this week, I hadn’t realized just how much I had neglected ‘The Amber of the Moment’. It’s been since the end of January- two whole months have gone by without a single post. I must sound like a bit of a broken record because I get into this cycle of posting-religiously to posting-never to promising-to-post and back again. But that’s life. Sometimes my writing gets stale, and I need to take a break. Sometimes real-life things get in the way and I get laser focused on them and can’t really see the big picture of all the things I’m letting fall by the wayside.
These past couple of months have been a huge buckling-down for me. My fiance and I managed to buy our very first house, closing on it on Valentine’s Day weekend after a whole bunch of hoopla (almost losing the house, switching lenders, stuff with concessions, just a mess). I have an issue with houses that are asylum-white, so the next couple weekends were spent, every day, just painting the house. And then came the housewarming party. And the weekend of de-stressing afterward from so much work in so little time. And then Easter.
Now the house still isn’t fully painted (got two bathrooms, spare rooms and a laundry room to go), and a bunch of home improvement projects are piling up on to the list. And now that we’ve finished the push with setting up the house, we’ve got to settle down on getting a lot of our marriage prep stuff finished (meeting the photographer, beginning our mentoring sessions, meeting with clergy to begin paperwork, etc.) So I can’t promise that I won’t find myself distracted by life anymore.
I think I’m finally coming to terms with that. That I can plan all I want, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be capable of following through. And that’s okay. Life can get in the way and it should because it’s important. I want to always be able to say ‘alright, now that I’ve finished this task I can be a real writer and keep a real schedule like the big names do’. And there is a point where I can’t just give up on these kinds of tasks because in the long run it is important to me. You all are important to me. Writing is important to me.
But I don’t need to beat myself up when things get a little jumbled up. When I slip off the track. All I can do is shrug and try to do better next time, knowing that ‘better’ is always just doing my best and attempting to discern between real-life challenges and recurring excuses not to do what needs to be done. It’ll be a life journey, for sure. Thank you for sticking through it with me.
Any big changes for you lately, readers?
I’m actually pretty proud of how this year went. It might not have been a banner year for publishing or submitting (only one poem for an entire year, really?), it was a good year for personal growth and moving forward with my life. I was able to stick to my resolution of posting more, and I ended up losing forty pounds since the beginning of my weight loss journey. I didn’t beat my Goodreads goal this year- with more things going on in my life, I wasn’t even able to match the amount of poetry and religious books that I read last year. I am happy to note that I am under contract for a house, so I will end up getting my own place this next year (fingers crossed). A mixed bag of what resolutions I was able to keep, exceed and outright failed, but I think I came out with a net positive for the year.
So for this next year:
- Marry my best friend
- Submit at least one work per month for publishing
- Set aside a day each week for writing/editing poetry. No other writing work allowed.
- Keep doing good with blogging.
- Maintain my weight for the wedding.
How did you do with your resolutions in 2015? What are your new ones this year?
So it might seem like I’ve been a little AWOL lately. Even this week, I’m posting on a seemingly arbitrary Tuesday instead of my customary Sunday. I am genuinely sorry that I have fallen short of my own expectations, especially so close to the end of the year as we are.
However, I do have a pretty awesome excuse: I’m now engaged! My significant other ended up surprising me on Halloween weekend with a carved pumpkin and a live band (we got engaged dressed as Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo, of all things).
Of course, once the excitement settles, what is left is the realization that we suddenly have a ton of things to do: engagement photos (finishing up round two of those this weekend), house showings (fiance wants us to be able to give each other a home for Christmas), scheduling time to figure out when we can reserve my home parish for the ceremony, scheduling marriage prep and so on and so forth ad infinitem. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of being equally stressed and equally thankful for even the opportunity to be so stressed about such wonderful things, but it is very time-consuming.
We are starting to get into a good rhythm, however, so I should be able to get back on track with most of my social media. I’ve been keeping up with my writing work well enough, at least, so never fear. I’ll keep myself as much on track with my social media as well.
Prayers and good thoughts are very welcome at this time!
I’m now 23! Though, to be honest, I still feel fifteen (which is not at all helped by my current situation of living at my parents’ home…). Here’s to another great year of progress and growth!
Well, no, not me (yet). This past Saturday we helped my little brother move out and back up towards his college campus, where he will be starting his senior year. And this Thursday my little sister, the baby of my big family, will be starting her first year of college some several hours away. This week has been full of packing, cleaning, taking inventory, swapping clothes and furniture, doing last minute summer painting and moving rooms around in the house to prepare for winter. My little sister and I have been feverishly attempting to finish the Chinese historical drama that we had started together (‘Perfect Couple’, if you’re wondering) so that we don’t leave anything unfinished. My little brother left earlier than anticipated because his girlfriend, bless her heart, was coming in early and he is so, so excited to see her.
It’s been weird, all this change and preparation for change. Even as all of this is happening to ‘other people’, plans are in place for me and my significant other to purchase our own first home by Christmas, and put everyone through the process of moving out and moving on all over again. I guess this is the first time in my family that this kind of thing is happening to everyone, and not one-at-a-time. We knew it was going to happen at some point- besides me and my next-older brother, every kid in my family is only two years apart in age (while me and my next-older brother are four years apart). At some point our life-changes were all going to clash, and its going to happen again- with current plans, it’s likely that my little brother moving out of state to pursue med school will either come right before or right after me getting married.
It’s not the way you think about ‘growing up’ as a kid. There’s always this idea that growing up will happen to you, and only you. We forget that our sisters and brothers are growing too, that our parents are still growing and will have their own changes even while we are still trying to figure ours out. Barely do we have time to figure out our own moves than someone else needs our help with their moves, and before we have the time to process what those moves mean, someone else is making another one. I don’t really think it will hit me that my baby sister is going off to college for another couple of weeks, when things have settled down a bit more and she’s not here at the house for me to bug after work or to play with my puppy or to watch k-dramas with. It might not hit until the first time I have to Skype her instead of walking across the hallway. She’s the first in our family to go to school farther than an hour away- me and my little brother went to the same college, so this is going to be entirely different for everyone. I don’t really know how you prepare for that.
And that’s life. All I really can do is pray- pray for her safety, pray for the prudence to give her to the space to make her own choices, to grow in her own special way- and to be available and there for her when she needs me. The same will go for my brother, as he finishes his last year of school, and my significant other, as he makes his first real push to save for something financially towards the end of the year. All I can do is trust in the fruitfulness of prayer and the fruitfullness of strong relationships. (And take the extra time and space to write and submit more, God willing.)
What new changes have been happening in your life? How are you handling them?
We interrupt your usual serious Sunday post to bring you some amazing news- IM GETTING A PUPPY! MONKEY AND I ARE GETTING A PUPPY! Say hello to Litleo:
She’s a rescue puppy. We know she’s mixed with a wire-haired Dachshund but we have no idea what else might be in her genes. We look forward to finding out while we watch her grow and learn. We’ll get to take her home sometime this week after all of the paperwork is filed and the initial puppy-materials purchased. I’m so excited!
Lately my life’s been a little bit of a spiral. Not entirely downwards, not entirely upwards, but more of the all over the place kind of spiral that is euphoric one moment and devastating the next. At times like these, everything tends to pile up on itself and start to take over everything. Stress from one task bleeds into my ability to complete the next, and I suddenly find myself doing a million things half-heartedly. I don’t like doing things half-heartedly. So when I notice that this is all going for a loop, I begin to fall into a pit of guilt and I get nauseous and force myself into a kind of dull depression.
It’s times like these that it’s important to remember that one little word: ‘no’. When people ask me to help out, to volunteer or make posters or come take care of their pets, what have you, it’s so hard for me to say ‘no’. I’m the kind of person who wants to be able to help. I want to be able to do what I can to make the world a better place, even if that just means alleviating the stress of the people around me.
Stretching myself out paper-thin doesn’t accomplish that, though. Sure, it may be a little spot fix for the person who needed me right then but what about everyone else? What about the kids I watch who will take the brunt of my stress at work the next morning? What about my family, who get brushed off by my so that I can take extra time to de-stress after work because I didn’t want to punish them for my life? What about my significant other, who I will make feel less loved because I decided to help everyone else and then no longer have the time or emotional capability to attend to him come the small amount of time we have together a week? When I’m helping out with a million different tasks, I end up not being able to focus on any of them to the extent that they deserve. My contribution is slighted, the project as a whole is slighted, and the opportunity for something amazing, the opportunity for grace and light, is wasted.
I’m not one to say that my own self-care takes precedent over other things, or that I shouldn’t try to do as much as I can for others. But in the past couple of weeks I really have come to a greater awareness of the need to know one’s own boundaries. The need to trust that other people will be there to help. That saying ‘no’ when I have become overwhelmed is not a bad thing- and is, in fact, necessary if I am to function to my own best ability. And functioning to my own best ability will, in the long run, enable me to do more for others than if I run myself ragged for a short amount of time.
So for the next month or so, I’m going to be practicing my ‘no’s’. I’m going to practice being honest with people about my capabilities (directly saying ‘I can’t make this commitment’ versus my normal ‘I’ll see what I can do). I’m going to practice being realistic about what I can fit in on my current schedule (being able to help for large events, rather than weekly commitments). And I’m going to pray that the needs I cannot fill myself will be filled, while also praying to alleviate my own anxiety and guilt about not being able to carry my community on my shoulders. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into a healthy rhythm in my own life, and increase my capability for contribution. Because the point of saying ‘no’ should never be to simply release yourself from all stress and constraint in life, but used in order to better prepare yourself to give an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to things you can accomplish in the future.
How do you do with ‘no’s’, readers? Has it always been easy for you? What, or who, do you have a hard time saying no to?
2014 is out the door and 2015 is in. The holidays have been a bit of a mess for me here, being as I’ve been fairly sick since Christmas. But seeing as my cold is on it’s last legs, it’s time to think about resolutions for this year.
I did passably well on last years resolutions. I definitely didn’t keep to my ‘blogging twice a month’ schedule as planned, but I did up my blogging considerably. I did become more active on my social media sites, though I could have done even better. I didn’t attend a single open mic, which is probably my biggest resolution failure. I’m doing well with my Irish Gaelic lessons, so that was a success (will even be visiting my little brother in Galway, Ireland this year as he studies abroad!). I did well with self-care, becoming less stressed, losing fifteen pounds of my thirty pound weight loss goal, and I definitely reviewed more poetry collections and read a ton more (according to Goodreads, I read 52 poetry and religious books in the past year).
So for my 2015 resolutions:
1) Blog twice a month here on Amber in the Moment. Do better with scheduling myself (this should translate into blogging once a week what with my other blog, if I blog there twice a month also).
2) Get better at advertising myself through all mediums- public appearances, social media, involvement with the community as a whole….
3) Lose the rest of my weight! I’m halfway there!
4) Get back to a regular submission schedule, both with full collections and single pieces.
5) Beat my record of last year’s Goodreads reading challenge and read more than 60 poetry collections and religious works in this next year. If you happen to have any review copies of your own work that you’d like to donate to that cause, I’d be more than happy to read and review them.
6) Start saving to get my own place in the next three years.
What are your top resolutions? How did you do with last years?