2016: A Year in the Life

2016 has been a roller coaster of a year. Between the election, celebrity deaths, and internet breaking tweets, we welcome 2017 with open arms, ready for a fresh start.

For me, 2016 has been one of the greatest years of my life. Here’s a look back on some of my favorite moments.

January 2016

Spent a week in Iceland climbing glaciers and seeing some of the most breathtaking sights.

February 2016

Moved out of my studio apartment down to the Financial District.

March 2016

Had my final shift working as a librarian for the American Music and Dramatic Academy. My first job in the city.

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April 2016

Traveled to Buffalo to witness my cousin get married on a snowy, spring day. Reunited with my wonderful family.

Surprise trip to Chicago for a weekend to see my old classmates from Northern Illinois University. It had been nearly 4 years since I last saw these beautiful people.

May 2016

Traveled to Cusco, Peru to volunteer with Maximo Nivel. Climbed a lot of mountains, ate some great food, and had life changing experiences.

June 2016

Felt the love and strength of NYC during Pride.

Rang in my birthday with alcohol, lots. My night was as blurry as this photo

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July 2016

Lost some wisdom, gained some embarrassing photos.

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August 2016

Spent 3 weeks home in the Bay Area with family and friends.

September 2016

Spent a weekend in Boston.

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I also started dating a really, really awesome guy.

October 2016

Spent Halloween with some great company.

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November 2016

Voted for President.

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December 2016

Completed my degree and finally graduated college.

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Spent Christmas weekend in Connecticut with my boyfriend and his family.

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Here’s to an unforgettable year and what lies ahead.

Happy New Year!!

 

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How I Started My Life Over

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Whenever someone asks me what I do, I never know what to say.

You see, I lived my life for 20 something years knowing who I am and what I wanted to do.

That is, at least I thought I did.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a performer.  I grew up in the world of ballet and dressing up in pretty costumes and pink ballet shoes was the most magical thing for a 8 year old. When I started middle school, my pink tutus turned in to petticoats and character heels.  Something just felt so right about musicals; combining my love of music, dance, and acting became the perfect trifecta. Ask anyone who knew me growing up, they’ll say I was always performing. It was a part of my DNA, the essence of my being.

It came to no surprise that I continued this passion throughout high school.  I’ll never forget the day I got cast as the leading role in my freshman musical. I had braces, awkward eyebrows, and couldn’t quite master the art of social contact. But none of that mattered.

Everything just felt so…right.

I thought I was going to shit my pants on opening night. Sure, rehearsals were fine, but when you’re thrown out in front of a live audience, the adrenaline is so consuming. There’s nothing quite like it.

By the time college rolled around, there was no second option. I had to pursue theatre. I just had to. I mean, what else was there to do? I ended up traveling to the middle of nowhere in Illinois to be a part of a BFA Acting program. At this point in my life, I felt like things were heading in the right direction.

Boy, was I wrong

The start of my sophomore year there, something didn’t feel right. I couldn’t quite pin point the reason, but I knew I had to get out of there. I packed my bags and left without looking back.

There I was, back in my old room. Pictures from high school and the glory days filled my wall.  Memories of being a big fish in a small pond felt like light years ago and the awkward, skinny girl in those photos were barely recognizable to me.

I spent the next ten months of my life feeling empty and without purpose. I worked at a restaurant, tore my ACL, became depressed, took a lot of medication, and tried as much as I could to feel…something. Anything at this point.

By October, I thought I’d give theatre another try and flew two thousand miles across the country to New York City. Surely if I wanted to make it, this was the place.  I attended a conservatory and for the next year and a half, I did nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe musical theatre.  It wasn’t easy, and I nearly quit several times, but seventeen months later, I was out in the real world. Within weeks of finishing the conservatory, I landed the job of a lifetime. Little did I know that job would change my life forever.

I was hired to work at a Broadway show and attend to audience members’ every need. I didn’t care, I was on Broadway.

Well, sort of.

This was it. This was where I needed to be.
I watched rehearsals, heard all the gossip, partied alongside A-list celebrities. The entire run was a blur, and I drank a lot.  Within that short time, I met some of the most incredibly talented performers, had my heart broken what felt like a hundred times, and learned about the business I had intended to pursue.

I grew close to one of the actors in the show and got to see first hand how difficult the business was. He inspired me and showed me that there was more to life than performing.

There was a real world out there and I needed to explore.

He inspired me to see the world. Within a year, I traveled to three different countries, volunteering my time and exploring new cultures. I saw beyond the stage lights and experienced thrills I’d never felt. The adrenaline kicked in, and I savored every sweet moment.

Riding Elephants in Thailand,

climbing Lion’s Head in South Africa,

walking on glaciers in Iceland.

I felt like a new person, like I had been awakened for the first time.

Not only was I inspired to see the world, but I aspired to better myself academically. I enrolled back in college, determined to finish what I started and get my degree.

So I did.

I put my memories of pink tights and tap shoes away in a box, and replaced theatre posters with maps of the world and trinkets from my adventures. It just didn’t feel right to keep pursuing theatre. I’d lost that passion and joy. Looking at those photos from high school, I didn’t recognize that awkward girl, but I admired her for following her passion.

I didn’t know where my journey will lead, but here I stand, ready to graduate.

It’s a strange feeling, you know, not knowing what lies ahead.  All my life I’ve been determined to do one thing, and now I’m about to be thrown in to the big wide world with limitless possibilities and no idea what I’ll achieve.

But that’s what is so great about life, you can start over at any minute.

I have no regrets about walking away from my first love, it allowed me to become the woman I am today: strong, independent, and fierce on the dance floor.

So go ahead, take me world.

Take me on this crazy journey, and let’s see where I end up. I’m starting my life over and I couldn’t be more excited.

A Lesson in Respect

A poem for the modern day cat caller

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This path I walk with great stride
And yet you do not stand aside
No matter the day or the weather
You seem drawn by a tether
Shouting obscenities
Cruelties
Shaming my essence
I pass you by
My head held high
I am no sweetheart
I shall not smile for you
I wear a skirt, maybe heels, even so
It gives you no pass to call me a ho
Your words affect me not
But your tone feels red hot
A woman I am, yes that’s true
But I give no shits, get the clue?
Treat me like a person
Not a piece of meat
For as a woman
I should have freedom on the street
So give me the peace to do my own thing
Otherwise my opinion I will soon sing
I desire respect and compassion
But your comments ignite my passion
Women’s voices need to be heard
STOP THE SLUT SHAMING
Seriously, it’s quite absurd

Understanding Depression: My Story

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Today I’m having a difficult day.

 
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2012 and was put on 3-4 different medications because I could not get through it on my own. I lost interest in every day things and felt nothing.

Six months later, I moved across the country to New York. I was alone, scared, and anxious. I decided to stop taking medication so I could feel something. I was going to a city full of artists and people who felt things. I did not. 

Two years later, I finished a conservatory; no longer scared, no longer anxious. I felt things, I was interested.

Two more years went by and I began feeling lost. What was wrong with me? I went back to school, determined to finish what I started. I was working 2 jobs and going to school. I had no time for myself and panic sunk in.

One day I was called in to the office at work. My boss told me I seemed unhappy. I broke down and let someone see my vulnerability, my weakness. I was drowning and didn’t know it. I was so consumed with work and school that I didn’t notice I was struggling.  Something was wrong.

That day was a dark day.

I walked home sobbing, hiding under my sunglasses when there was no sun. When I got home I couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack alone in my apartment. I found an old prescription of Lorazepam and took two. I hadn’t taken it in almost four years.

That night was one of the worst nights I ever experienced. Instead of feeling sad or scared, I felt nothing. I was empty. I didn’t feel sad anymore, but did I feel better? No.

I decided that was the last time I would take anti depressants.

Today I’m having a difficult day. Today I feel sad. I have no reason, but I feel it.

Most days I feel fine, I’m not sad, I don’t feel empty…but sometimes I do.

I’m learning more about myself every day and I’m proud that I know how to handle my thoughts.  I am not crazy. Depression is real. It’s serious and can make you think some pretty scary thoughts, but instead of wallowing in my pain, I work through it. I take a deep breath, count, and exhale the fear.

I think it’s important for everyone to realize the severity of depression and anxiety and recognize its effect on the mind.  Anxiety disorders affect nearly 40 million adults in the United States and only about a third of them receive treatment. There are many different types of anxiety including Social Anxiety Disorder (which affects about 15 million people), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (affecting nearly 2.2 million), Posttraumatic Stress -PTSD (affected by more than 7.7 million), and Panic Disorder (which affects around 6 million adults). Those are only just a few of the many, horrifying categories of anxiety, not including depressive states.

Symptoms come in varying forms: persistent sadness, hopelessness, fits of rage, loss of interest in every day activities, insomnia, low appetite or overeating, thoughts of death or suicide, difficulty concentrating, and so much more.  Personally, I’ve felt all these symptoms at one point within the past four years.

What I’d like the world to know: I’m okay.

Or at least I will be. I have high hopes for the future and am confident that one day I won’t feel these dark, depressive thoughts. I am hopeful that we will overcome the stigma of depression and understand it’s powerful affects on the mind.

If you feel any of these symptoms, don’t suppress it. Do some research, and seek out help. If there is one thing I learned: It’s okay to ask for help. We are not made of steel, we are meant to feel.

Check out Anxiety and Depression Association of America for more information and support. Take charge of your life and allow yourself to feel.

 

 

4 hours in Cusco

Spent a couple hours walking around Cusco today before work and I had so much fun checking out the sights!

Walked around the Plaza de Armas and got some sun. This stray dog kept following us around, so we allowed him to be in my photo.


Took a tour of the  Museo de Inka.



It was such a beautiful museum filled with ancient artifacts dating over 800 years ago. This city is so rich in culture!



My roommate and I got dressed up in traditional Peruvian clothing in Asunta’s shop. Check her out for all the best deals and she even gives you free gifts!


Ate some delicious empanadas at La Valeriana which looks out over the beautiful church.


The church doors here are all very big!


Took a walk back to our homestay which is in the beautiful Wanchaq!


Finally, got a great jugo at the store near our house. Gotta relax a bit before we see the kids!


This is the view I’m looking at while I enjoy my jugo. It’s pretty incredible!

Stay tuned for more!