Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Musings

2013 was great.  I can safely say it was a great year.  I was happy, healthy, I worked really hard and had a lot of fun.  Did I get an acting gig?  No.  Well, yes.  But it was a 2 week contract that I turned down.  It didn't feel right, so I went with my gut.  I'm glad I did, but would have been even gladder (is that a word) if another, better job had come in its place.  Oh well.

But anyway, I saw family, played a lot with new and old friends, traveled a bit, and learned a lot. 2013 was great.

2014 has arrived.  And with it, the inevitable self reflection that usually comes with a new beginning.  I don't really make resolutions, per se.  At least I don't call them that.  I usually just have things I am thinking about, concepts I want to work on or get better at.  This year is no different.

I want to learn to love my body, no matter what state it is in.  Plus a few pounds, minus a few pounds. Feeling skinny, feeling fat.  Food baby, no food baby.  I want to learn to just focus on and truly appreciate the gift that it is.  My body is not perfect, and it doesn't work perfectly.  As I get older my body is starting to protest a little more each year.  But it works really well.  I can't complain; I can do just about anything I need to do in my life with it.  Do I wish I was an amazing dancer?  Of course.  But that's not what I am talking about.  I mean that all 5 of my senses are in good working condition.  I can exercise and physically push myself to stay in shape, even when I am not in the mood.  I can sleep, and my insomnia from a few years ago is better now than it was.  I will never take that for granted.  My body can heal.  And you know what?  It doesn't look too bad either.  I am grateful for my metabolism, and I don't mean that lightly.  I want to appreciate that more as well.

I want to look in the mirror with love and not criticism.  I think that is the biggest key for me.  Too often, I look in my mirror, immediately turn to the side, check the side view, and am rarely satisfied.  In those moments, my mind is flooded with damaging thoughts about how I am not doing enough, how my body is not enough. I really want to change that.  I want to live in a better state of gratitude for my body, and everything about it.

The part B of this thought is that if I can truly love an appreciate my body, maybe that will help me respect it more and treat it better.  As in, eat better out of self-love and respect, not a fear of getting fat.  I do pretty well with exercise.  But I could do better with my eating, and I believe that is all part of respecting and loving our bodies.

The other main concept I have been thinking a lot about is trust in God, namely with my career.  I want to really put my trust in Him that my life is in His hands.  My career is in His hands.  I want to let go of my need to control this industry and the people in it so that they all love me and want to cast me.  I need to trust that I am right where I need to be in MY journey, and that journey has nothing to do with anyone else's.  So I don't need to compare myself and my career to others.  Comparison never ends well for me.  I can be truly happy for others' successes, because their triumph does NOT mean my failure.  It is not connected to my life in any way.

I am powerless over pretty much everything and everyone around me.  But that is ironically empowering because all I need to worry about is my own craft and preparation, and leave the rest to God, accepting that I'm always progressing.  I don't know God's end game, but I need to have more faith that it is better than the one I have planned for myself.  I'm even progressing with all the rejection.  I don't know what it means, but eventually all the rejection and frustration will be clear, and I will have learned what I need to, or gained what I needed, or whatever.

It's a beautiful thing to have epiphanies every once in a while that can bring increased focus, motivation and peace of mind.  Maybe instead of resolutions I will call these my epiphanies for 2014.  I like it.

You know what else I like?  Profile pictures like this from dating sites:

The NAME!  I can't handle it.

And yes.  I am openly admitting that I am trying out online dating.  The entertainment value is priceless.  Oh- I'm supposed to actually find someone nice and go on a date?  I don't know what that means.

Over The River and Through The Woods...(Part Three)

I went home for Christmas for two weeks.  Every day was great.  I spent time with family, relaxed at home a little bit with my parents, saw good friends I have had forever, and met lots of new, fun people too.  I'm pretty sure I just have a ton a great pictures to share.  So here goes:
Amanda Crabb and I sang at a really fun singles' gala at the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake.  A great excuse to get dressed up and wear my red lipstick!  (I still get nervous about putting so much color on my lips off stage.  I'm weird.)

I adore this girl.
Sometimes you find yourself at the governor's desk and you have to pretend you have a lot of power.  It's fine.
This was the best of many unsuccessful selfie attempts.

Just a little winter sunset in the Avenues.
The next day, I got to wake up and see this.  Heaven.

An afternoon of sledding and such led to a Riding family party that Laura and I planned.  I heart the Ridings! (Sarah is sporting Dad's shoes below since her snow boots didn't make it up from St. George.  No biggie.)

Grandma/Lincoln time.  They're both the cutest.  It was so sad that Mike and Sarah had to go home after just a couple of days. 
Just your sensible winter sunset in Mapleton.  #nofilter.

So I went to this party in Salt Lake.  At one point of the evening I looked up and saw this. And felt really good about my life in that moment:

I also reconnected with this girl that I love, Kylee Shields.  Throwback to doing "Joseph" at the Hale when I was 19!  My, time flies.  Love her. 
Have I mentioned that I have started running?  I know.  So weird.  I never thought I would say it, but I am actually enjoying it.  I'm nowhere near a marathon, but it does feel good, surprisingly.  Anyway, this shot is from my run on Christmas Eve.  Just lovely.

A standard shot of the Christmas Tree.  Ppprrrreeettttyyyy....
Followed by Christmas Eve traditions like playing the chimes and the Nativity.  Dad was a star as the Wiseman.  But I gotta say, he was not the cutest in the scene.  That honor belongs to the young people. :-)

Christmas morn arrived, and with it, a note from Santa thanking us for the cookies, our very own Buddy the Elf (in the form of Jonny) and some protection for all the celebrities in the house (in the form of Megan and Rachel, little tough cookies that they are).  Plus, we finally caved and threw up a fire on the TV screen.  Thanks to Mom and Dad's new SmartTV and Netflix.  Hysterical.  #alittlebittrailertrash
It was a beautiful day.  It was filled out with our caroling at the rest home in town, a walk with Mom and Dad, and dinner with the Williams and the Ridings from American Fork (Dave and Becca).  Merry Christmas to all!
The next day was Mom's birthday, as per usual, and I tasked myself with making her waffles for breakfast.  Is it weird that I was nervous to do it all by myself?  They turned out great.  Success.
There are certain things I need when I go back to Utah.  Yogurtland is one of them.
There are also certain people I need to spend New Year's Eve with.  My people.  These are the ones. Joseph, the Littles, the Tinneys, and Amanda.  Just missing Rob, but he felt the need to spend the holiday with his own family.  So selfish of him, I know.  He's like that. 
By the way, we all eat our faces off all night.  It's a great time.  NYE Mormon style.
Utah sent me off the next night with a gorgeous sunset, once again.
Until next time, Utah.  You are always so good to me.  I'm glad I get to call you home.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

John Is 75 Today!

Today is Dad's big 75th birthday.  Let's talk about him for a second, shall we?  Okay.

My dad had a very busy career, working long hours.  He was up very early in the morning to exercise, eat breakfast, and be on his way by about 6:30AM when he commuted into San Francisco, about 40 minutes away from where we lived.  In addition, he had a lot of leadership responsibilities with my church that kept him going at night as well.  The fact is, he wasn't around a whole lot for my growing up years.  I remember a day when I was young, and he had to go on a scout campout or something.  He asked if I wanted to go with him, and I said no.  I am not totally sure why, but I think I was just feeling shy around my dad, and so that amount of alone time with him was strange to me, therefore not very appealing.  I feel kind of bad about it now, but that was the way I was as a child.  I remember going on one with him when I was a little older when there was a father/daughter weekend for church.  It was great, but when I was little something like that would have been very foreign to me.

HOWEVER.  I don't ever remember a time when I doubted my dad's love.  Not seriously, anyway, except for the time when I was a kid and something happened (most likely I didn't get my way in something) so I decided to run away.  I packed a little plastic toy suitcase and stomped out of the house, not even making it past the front porch when the strains of "Somewhere Out There" from the movie American Tale came to my mind, I started singing, I started crying, and came back in the house.  Actually, my dad was probably at work, therefore not even involved in whatever the situation was, but at that moment the whole world was against me, so he's included. I digress...

I also don't ever remember a time when Dad wasn't there when it really counted.  I was used to his busy schedule; it was all I knew.  We got up really early in the morning to eat breakfast together, and always had dinner together according to the time frame he had.  Mom was really good about that structure, I am sure, partly so we could see him.  He was home part of the weekend (Sundays were a little dicey) and Monday nights as that was a family time.  In addition, all of my performances growing up, and a good number, if not the majority, of my sporting events, were attended by my parents.  I know there were nights when he needed to be at church but canceled his meetings in order to come to my high school choir concert, or a play.  That always meant a lot to me, and I never worried that I had a dad who didn't care, or was too busy.  I knew he was there when he could be, and present when he was there.  As an adult who is more aware now of the pressures he faced during those years, that is quite remarkable to me.

Growing up, I watched Dad make Mom his top priority.  The only times I ever saw him really angry were when we were disrespectful to her.  (Well, and one time when he caught me sitting on the hood of his car).  They kissed in front of us, much to our dismay, when he left and came home.  And they KISSED.  I'm still kind of grossed out thinking about it.  But it was great!  I watched Dad take Mom on dates.  Maybe not every week, but enough that we saw it was important.  They worshiped together as well, and we saw the importance of that.  The example he gave me of how a husband can love his wife is forever imprinted on my mind, and I know I don't need to settle for less.  (Hence the reason I have yet to remarry, but anyway....) The love and loyalty in their marriage has been apparent my whole life.

Enough about the past, let's talk about Dad at the present.  I will say that as I became an adult, I feel like that is when I grew closer to my dad.  Maybe he had more time, maybe I just started to appreciate his dad humor more.  I think both are true.  But I now consider myself a Daddy's Girl, where I don't know that I would have as a kid. 

It's hard for me to describe how I feel about my dad.  I just....think he's the greatest.  I'm not pretending he's perfect.  But for a long time I have had this special place in my heart for him. 

When I split up from my ex, I moved home, as most of my readers (all twelve of you) are aware.  I lived at home for 2 1/2 years, longer than I had planned originally, but it was the right amount of time.  It became a unique opportunity for me to get to know my parents in a way not a lot of adult children get to do.  I know this post is more of a tribute to my dad, but my mom is the other half of their equation, and the third part of the triangle we formed, so I can't talk about that time without including her, nor would I wish to. 

I saw my parents in a way I had not before.  I started to figure out the little things that make my parents tick.  I saw weaknesses and strengths that I hadn't really noticed, or if I had, I saw the root of some of those.  I was party to conversations about what to do with their philanthropic efforts where I got to see how they are blessing lives all the time.

I saw my mom go every day for a week and collect small children from a neighbor who was having surgery and bring them back to our house for the day.  And then watched both parents entertain those children and care for them so that those neighbors could address some pressing medical issues.

I saw my parents hurt each other's feelings.  I saw them make mistakes.  I watched them argue (kind of).  I noticed what made both of them feel insecure.  I got to notice when Dad felt sick, or Mom. Or when they were both so tired but continued to do some good deed because it was the right thing to do.   I had conversations with both of them that started like this: "I'm worried about your mom."  "I'm worried about your dad."  I watched as they slowed down a bit more with age, and worried right along with both of them.  (Although, they still work harder on a daily basis than me.  I wish I had inherited more of that work ethic.  Sheesh). I also watched a love that has lasted over 50 years continue to endure and flourish.  I got to see them hold hands, work hard together, and spend time watching a movie together.  I also gained insight into my own character by watching them.  Multiple times I have thought, 'Oh.  That's why I do that myself.  Dad does it.  Mom does it'.  It's kind of crazy when you start seeing your parents and thinking, 'I am starting to get why I am the way I am.'  For better and worse.  Sorry, guys. Love you. :-)

My mom and I laugh about how Dad keeps binoculars in the cupboard in the kitchen for birdwatching.  We can be in the middle of a conversation at breakfast when he will, without warning, forget what we are talking about, grab the binoculars and start looking at some birds feeding outside the window.  Then, he will describe in great detail what he knows about said birds.  On the flip side, my dad and I laugh about my mom's innate ability to delay gratification.  She wants the cookie in an hour.  We both want it now AND later.  It's the little things, as he says all the time.

Dad was pretty livid about everything I went through with my divorce.  But he never really said much about it.  Both of my parents have acted with class and compassion toward my ex since then.  It has been a great example of treating others with respect, even through their mistakes.  And letting God be the judge.  But honestly, it felt really good to know my dad was angry.  I felt loved and protected to know that.  And then I thought, 'how bad could it really be to have my parents arrange my next marriage?'  Kidding.  Kind of.  Not really.

As I was making the decision to move back to New York and pursue acting again, my parents made it no secret that they didn't want me to go, for various reasons.  And they made those reasons known.  However, as they both knew I needed to make the decision, they stood back and watched me and waited.  The day came when I was ready to talk about the decision I had made and why.  By the end of the conversation, they had accepted that I was going, and were in full support.  If they still had reservations, they never voiced them, and all of that is to their credit.  But I also genuinely feel that support from them, and it means so much.

Moving out again was much harder than I thought it would be.  I was ready, but it was the end of a beautiful time of my life that will never come again.  But I think I gained a relationship with my parents that I didn't have before, and for that I am so glad. 

My parents are great.  My dad is great.  I couldn't ask for a better father.  He is stubborn, silly, conservative, kind, a true boy (warts and all), generous, funny, gentle, loyal, protective, quiet, strong, and good.  And he's my dad.

Enjoy some Dad realness in the videos below.  The first one is a reading that his mother used to do (she's where I got my flair for performing.)  The second is some Dad being a good sport realness.  With a cameo by my sister Teresa's kids.  If you know Dad, feel free to tell a story or memory about him in the comment section.  He will love/hate the attention.  But he is 75 today, so he needs to get over it. :-)

Here's to you, Dad.  Happy 75th!  (Don't think that multiple times writing this I have thought, 'I sound like I am writing a eulogy).

Not a eulogy, Dad.  NOT A EULOGY.  Do you hear me?

By the way, don't expect a serious post for a while.  I'm all serious-ed out.  I need a nap.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

My New York December. (Or in Other Words, Looking Back At My Holidays, Part Two)

There really is no better place to be for the Christmas season besides New York City.  I am enamored by it.  The city and/or different companies go all out, over the top with decorations on 5th Ave, 6th Ave, Times Square, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, and of course, don't forget the Rockefeller Tree.  There are celebrations, large and small, and just a general feeling of well-being.  Enamored.

Bryant Park

Some swanky party I worked at.  Good food. (Priorities)

I loved my little tree!

Park Ave.

And then sometimes Porridge the dog in Pippin wears my ear muffs.  It's fine.

  As do boys that I might meet on the train.  Don't worry about it.

Service projecting it up at KMart.  And then there is the ward Christmas party, with the Primary kids performing the Nativity.  Classic.

An ornament my sweet Visiting Teacher made. 

Feeling festive in my green cord leggings.  Don't judge.

Having a night in with one my best boys, Jeffrey Scott.  He's the greatest.
And with that, off to Utah to celebrate with family, sing at a gala, and play in Utah for two weeks!