Thursday, November 20, 2014

14 Things Only Box Office Employees Understand (And things we wish we could nicely tell our patrons)

I love my job, I really do. The people I work with are great, I feel so privileged to come to a theatre everyday and have it be my job. But some days I seriously wonder if people know what my job is really like. It's not *just* selling tickets to events. It's so much more.

1. Just because you, our beloved patron, didn't see a ticket price listed (which is more than likely your error), does not mean the ticket is free. 

2.  Oh look, my ticketing system is freezing as I have 6 people standing in line.

3. I'm sorry it's really really reeeally not my fault that you got mixed information and are asking me too many questions that I can answer in just a few sentences. 

4. The phrase "We rent to anyone who needs a place to screen their film" means just that. 
No we do not have a political agenda for showing two sides to the same story.
No we do not have a political agenda for showing a film about fracking. 
No it's not our fault that your event isn't selling well. I'm seriously JUST the box office girl. 
(What I'm saying here is...please don't shoot the messenger. )

5. No we cannot make special deals with you if they aren't already in the system.

6. It is not our fault that tickets aren't available if you wait until the week before the show.

7.  And no, I can't "open any seats up" for you. You snooze, you lose.

8. Creeping into the caterer's kitchen to heat up your lunch. While there's a meeting going on. 

9. Being genuinely sweet to verklempt older patrons. (The phrase "Kill them with kindness" comes to mind. And then praying they don't actually fall over dead.) 

10. When the person on the phone is looking at the seating chart and tells you what they're seeing. And it's the exact same chart you're also looking at. 

11. Patron, (After seeing you as the only person at the counter): "I'm looking for someone who's in charge..." 

12. When you actually don't have the answer to their question and you have to find someone in charge. 

13. When people come in, talk, and don't actually order tickets. 

14. Remembering that things could be worse. Your day job is in your field, and thank goodness you're not folding tee shirts at a department store. 

(All images from imgur. Except for Anne Perkins and Leslie Knope. That one is from giphy.) 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Desiring "More"

Hello. This is a request. A time for reflection, a self-call-to-arms and a time that I'm calling out YOU.  Yes, you, my beautiful friend. This is about desire. But not the type that you think... it's something more deeply ingrained in our hearts. 
The last few months of my life have easily been the hardest I have ever faced (and weathered!) Lando moved, and suddenly I found myself engaged but totally "single." There have been more life trails than I care to share about, and through all of this I've been left with a need for "more." I put "more" in quotes because some days I know what that looks like and then my plans change, and other days I don't know what it is at all. I'm scattered and unfocused and want to get my life/life goals on track but have no hard examples of what that looks like. Sure it's easy to sit in my therapists office saying "I need an accountability partner,"  when I really wanted to say scream "I need someone to SHOW me how to do this!"

Then a few days ago, I remembered about The Desire Map. I'm not sure how to describe it, so I'll take an excerpt from the site:
"You want it and you want it bad. Aspiring. Hoping. Plotting. Recurring. Reaching. Bubbling beneath your surface. You crave it — and it craves you. 
So you make a plan to get it. A to-do list. The bucket list. Quarterly objectives. Strategy. Accountability. The goal. Except . . .
You’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re actually chasing a feeling.
We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have, get, accomplish, and experience outside of ourselves. And we hope, yearn, pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there. It’s backwards. It’s outside in. And it’s running us in circles.
What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your career, your holidays — your life?
You know what will happen with that kind of inner clarity and outer action? You’ll feel the way you want to feel more often than not. Decisions will be easier to make: You’ll know what to say no, thank you to and what to say hell yes! to. I bet you’ll complain less. You’ll be more optimistic, more open-hearted. It will be easier for you to return to your center in the midst of a challenge — I promise.

You will do much less proving, and way more living.

And you will have more to give to the world.

For starters."
 The author is Danielle LaPorte, and from what I've gathered, she holds nothing back, and isn't afraid to be blunt. (I guess those are kind of the same thing?)  All across social media, she delivers daily #TruthBombs including this gem: "Turn you longing into a calling." And about a million more that I can't choose from/directly share.

I digress...I'm hoping to start going through the book, "The Desire Map." There's an app that Danielle LaPorte has released called Conversation Starters, and it's for a group to be able to go through the book with a good basis of structure. I love the idea of small groups, but for whatever reason, I can't seem to get stuck to one. I don't know if I'm lazy, scared of vulnerability, or find ways to convince myself that I have very little in common with the other members. (I think with the two small groups I've been a part of recently, all three of those are true, ESPECIALLY the last one.)

 I love the idea of going through "The Desire Map" with women who are close to my age/life situation and are willing to be vulnerable and honest. I think many times, as Christian women specifically, we are too scared to let our souls show. Among my 20-something friends, I am seeing more heartfelt yearnings...the yearn to travel; love bigger than ever; be more compassionate; learn more about ourselves and how God created us to help others. "The Desire Map" shows us just how to do all of those things, and stay focused and sane throughout the journey.

So, who wants in?
The website suggests book clubs as a way to get started. Using the Conversation Starters app, the workbook, Danielle's free audio files and/or just the book.  Meetings at a home, via Google Hangout (Or Skype, whatever), Barnes & Noble, anywhere! The book is $22.00, the workbook comes in packs of
3 @ $30.00 (or $12.00/book), and the journal is $12.50. I'm not sure about group discounts, but I'm hoping to get more information about that!

I feel pretty strongly that "The Desire Map" is what will help us all get what we want. 

Oh, and, if you're into Celebrity Testimonials, Shailene Woodley says: "She reps the sisterhood thing and women’s empowerment… The Desire Map [is] basically charting the things that you want in life, and not just sitting back and saying, “I’m going to manifest this…here’s how,” but actively doing something to manifest your dream."  So yeah. there's that.

Ps: Remember Lauren Dubinsky? Founder of The Good Women Project? Yeah, she's how I first found out about "The Desire Map." So really, that recommendation is worth the perusal.

Join me?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Year 25: Back to School Edition-Dear Megan.

This is a little something I wanted to share with one of my former students who will be attending Messiah College (the college I attended) this fall! Here are a few things I think she should know about Messiah.

1. Climenhaga is haunted. Seriously. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Mostly this would only affect (effect? Both, I guess...) you if you're in Miller Theatre. I've never encountered either of the ghosts, but I have friends who have. They are friendly ghosts, but they're still ghosts. Nothing to be afraid of...just be aware!

2. Shoes are optional. You'll be making the trek to the High Center everyday for the next 4 years. Proper footwear is a must. If you have to wear heels to performance class or anything that involves going down the Climenhaga Hill, carry them. That thing is a beast! (I lost the back to my cell phone there one year. Never found it.) I have walked that hill many times in bare feet to make the journey a little easier. Remember, this is college, not high school. No one will judge you for not wearing shoes outside.

3. Lottie. Here are just a few things...You can have ice cream WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can make a root beer float WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can eat a bagel WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can have cereal WHENEVER YOU WANT. You can eat a salad WHENEVER YOU WANT. AND THERE'S A FRUIT BAR. (I had to include something healthy because I assume your mom will read this....) Take friends and check it out. Seriously so many options. Also check out the Union (the chicken fingers are amazing, and the veggie burgers are legit), and also the Falcon (the white pizza at the Falcon is seriously so so so good!)

4. Baker's Diner. Bakers is just up the road in Dillsburg. Your task is to find someone with a car (Maybe suggest going as a peer group or floor activity!), and go get some delicious diner food. Their hot chocolate comes with whipped cream and sprinkles. I can't find the picture right now, but when I do I'll make sure to tag you so you can see it. It's a good place for off-campus studying too. Take some theory friends and get away from the busyness of the Bubble. It'll be good for your soul.

5. Participate in your floor activities. I am still in touch with a few girls from my freshman floor. We would go to dinner together, see movies in Parmer (SEE THE MOVIES IN PARMER. THEY ARE AWESOME.), have movie nights in our dorm, etc... These girls are your essential your sisters for the year. And it's ok to not get along with everyone or be BFFs with everybody. But finding a few close friends besides your roommate is always good.

6. Go to a soccer game. If there's one thing that is an un-missable Messiah Experience it's the men's soccer games. Even if you're not big into sports, it's such a privilege to be at the school who holds a rare title for having Championship trophies in both men's and women's sports in the same year. Get to a game. From someone who has wept and laughed during those games, I can guarantee that it's something that you have to HAVE TO attend. Take friends!! Everything is better with more people.

7. Be outside while you still can. If you were to take a poll of the most beautiful seasons in Central Pennsylvania, I'm betting the majority of people would say Fall would come first. So enjoy it. There are few things more beautiful than Messiah in the fall. The leaves turn colors, the morning air is crisp, and on the weekends, you can go apple picking! Paulus Orchards is 9 minutes away from campus, and is a fun little place. One of my friends just told me she still has syrup in her fridge from there! Apples, pumpkins, and I think it might have a mini corn maze too! Again, take some friends. My RA organized an outing Sophomore year and it was great fun! Sitting by the Yellow Breeches is also a completely legitimate way to spend time outside too! There are benches and even a secret spot that I'd be more than happy to tell you about! Carve out some downtime to read a book, go find a place, pack some snacks and go read. Yes, academics are important, but there comes a time where you just have to veg and be outside.

8. Make friends with the theatre people. For some obscure reason, there's a myth/legend/partial-truth that theatre kids and music kids don't get along. But since you're a pianist, your talents will be called upon by lots of singers. Ask about being in the JTerm musical pit. That's a good way to get your foot in the door, and Dr. Dixon (if he's still there...I think he took a sabbatical last year...?), is super fun and really nice.

9. It's ok to pick and choose your friends. This is something I wish someone would have told me in high school. It's ok to not be friends with people you don't like. In college you will come across lots of people who might not share your viewpoints or beliefs. And that's ok! Use your discernment to figure out who will be an edifying friend, and who you can support as a friend. Looking back, I realize all the fights I had in college were ridiculous and not worth my time. And you know what, that's ok. You will make friends and you might even lose friends. But the important thing is to invest in the friendships and the communities that are God-honoring and positive!

10. Speaking of "community," pick your Created and Called for Community (CCC) professor wisely. CCC is the spring equivalent of FYS. Sometimes your peer group decides to stick together and schedule the same section of CCC. Sometimes you go your own ways. But whatever you do, make sure you know the positives of the professors. I LOVED my CCC professor. (Shout out to Rob Pepper!) He made everything clear, created a safe space for ideas, and was very very nice. I had some friends who DETESTED their CCC professor. So do your research. Ask your upperclassmen friends, or check out It's super helpful for everything actually! (Along the same academic lines, ask for help when you need it. I was so terrified of going to tutoring or office hours because I thought people would think I was stupid. But really that extra time would have saved me so much heartache my freshman year!)

11. Get involved in the Worship Community. The people you see up front leading worship during chapel? They are a few of the Messiah College Worship Community. Doug Curry is the guy to talk to about that, along with a few people in the music department. You could be one of the piano players, or a reader, or any other volunteer job they have. Check it out!

12. Go sledding down Cemetery Hill.  This is something that is on my "regrets" list. As in, I didn't do it and what the heck was I thinking?! Seriously. The first weekend of good snow (Usually during JTerm), go sledding. And then go get hot chocolate at the Union.

13. Service Trips. Into The Streets isn't your only option! The Agape Center has lots of options to get involved! I organized two Service Day trips to Theatre Harrisburg in the spring of my Junior and Senior year and they were lots of fun. You can get your friends together and decide where you're going to serve!

14. Coffeehouse. Such a great way to see all the talent your school has to offer! Also, go to B-Sides! Wednesday nights at the Union. The Student Activities Board (SAB) brings in fun bands before they get popular. It's basically the ultimate hipster experience.

15. Get to Orchard Hill and befriend President Phipps. I remember the day I saw Pres. Phipps in the Falcon and she said "Hi Star!" and it made. my. day. I had only a few interactions with her and remembered me. Go to Pizza with the Prez. It's a fun little night where she brings pizza to your dorm and hangs out and chats! Orchard Hill is her house and it's beautiful! She will sometimes host dinners, and you might even get the chance to sing for her with concert choir! She is nice and listens to the students' requests, needs, etc...!

16. HAVE. FUN. This is seriously so important. Find things that make you happy. Breathe in the breezes, soak up the sunshine. Everyone always says that college that are the best 4 years of your life, and that it flies by so fast. And I can't agree more. But there are things you can do that will make those 4 years not only the best, but the most fun! Find your niche, but also don't be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. That's where [most of] the growth happens. Be safe, be smart, be silly, and be YOU.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Year 25, Wedding Planning Edition: Top 5 Things That Surprised Me

Top 5 Things That Surprised Me About Planning Our Wedding. (So Far.) 

It's a beautiful day here in Happy Valley and I am up to my elbows in planning! There have been some bumps in the road, and I'm not one to "fake it" on Facebook and act like everything is 100% going our way. Because it hasn't been. A month ago, we decided to postpone the wedding altogether. After a rough evening, I was in tears sobbing for my wedding, and my marriage. The next day, Lando and I shared some tense moments pouring our hearts out to each other and coming to the conclusion that we needed to stop planning a party, and start working on our marriage. I emailed the marriage counselor at our church to set up a time to our pre-marital counseling sessions. In the meantime, while I was waiting to hear back from the counselor, Lando and I made a pact to not talk about wedding planning until he had gotten a job offer. It didn't make sense at the time to plan a wedding when we didn't know where he would be at the start of this school year. We stuck to that pact fairly well, and I'm quite proud of myself!! I felt like such a nerd starting counseling early, but I know I won't be 100% happy with one Big Day if the Rest of Our Lives are doomed. (More on that later.) As soon as we set up a time to meet, Lando and I started to ease back into the planning conversations. We took it one small step at a time: reconfirming our wants and absolute must haves and our "wouldn't it be great if...."
Then, one morning I woke up with an idea. A great idea, and everything has fallen into place so far. So, stay tuned. Because it's going to be explosively amazing.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the top 5 things that have surprised me while planning:

#5: How hard it is to plan a wedding. 
For years I've been saying how awesome it would be to become a wedding planner. It's actually one of my dream jobs! So when I got engaged, I set my jaw and said (numerous times) "We don't NEED a wedding planner. I got this, yo." Here we are three months later and we are searching for a wedding planner. To some it seems excessive, and I had that mindset too. But there are a million little things that go into this wedding, that I am sure I haven't thought of. For example: who takes the flowers from the church to the reception venue?? I'm not about to stick them in the back of my parents suburban and have them transported like that over a mountain! Those types of details can be ironed out with the help of a planner.

#4: How hard it is to plan a wedding in State College. 
The person who is 1/2 of our photography team warned me about a week before I got engaged that local vendors would start booking up about a year in advance around here. Then I got engaged, we set an arbitrary date and it hit me that we were already MASSIVELY behind. We trudged through, looking at venues, meeting with people, and making internet searches. When our date changed the first time, I breathed a sigh of relief, because we had just bought ourselves the exact amount of time we needed. Then when that fell into the sinkhole of "Bad Ideas," and we came up with our new date, we somehow found ourselves in the "Holy Cow, This is Less Than A Year Away" category. (Side note: this may have been intentional on my part, and yes, Lando knows it.) So we contacted our three necessary vendors (Photographers, church, and reception venue) and ate a giant slice of humble pie, and asked if our new date was available. And, much to our relief, none of them were booked! Now, this is not to in anyway suggest that you slack on booking vendors in the Centre County Area. We were, future State College brides, my advice is to pick three dates (which is apparently what you're supposed to do anyway....?), do your research on vendors in the area, and then propose the dates to see when they are available.  We almost settled on a second choice vendor, and the moment I hit "send" on that email, I regretted it. Don't regret your venue choices! It will be the third most photographed thing on The Day. Next only to you and your partner, and your family and bridal party. (That statistic is completely made up.)

#3: How expensive invitations are. 
Lando and I decided on invitations about a month after we got engaged. We made some Chinese food, turned on Boy Meets World, and went through the free samples I got from Wedding Paper Divas. WPD is seriously an amazing site. You get free shipping on all orders ALWAYS (the code is at the top of the page), and you can order up to 8 FREE samples. You can customize them (not with names, but with dates and designs), and they send you the invite, RSVP card, details card (lodging, etc...) AND the envelopes that match. I digress, we perused them. Picked out our top one, and did some number crunching. It was going to cost us over $1100 to get these invitations. We said a quick "heck no," to that, and decided to come back to that detail later. A few weeks went by and one of my dear friends asked what we were doing for invitations. I said I wasn't sure, but I knew I didn't want to pay a huge amount for them. He then said "I'll do them. I'm not kidding. I'll design your invitations for you." So now, Josh is designing our Save The Dates and our invites and so far, they are so cool. Josh knows me fairly well, and can tell what I might like, or what I might not like, and always checks with me to make sure I've actually shared his ideas with Lando. (Ha! Whoops. Doing my best to keep this an egalitarian planned activity!) In the long run, Josh is saving us an enormous amount of money, and he might be off the hook for getting us a wedding present...

#2: How much of an adult I am...not.
As 20 somethings, we really struggle with where and how we fit into this world that we're inhabiting. I always felt that the minute some brave guy wanted to wife me, and put a sparkly ring on my finger, my course would be laid out before me. I felt so grown up the morning after The Proposal, when my dad and I were filing my taxes. And then when Lando and I started budgeting and crunching numbers, I felt so grown up, because if you know me, you know I'm a terrible money manager. That's around the time I realized that I had no money to spend on this wedding. And that was right around the time that I decided to put in my two weeks notice at my job, that I didn't like, but was my only source of income. So for the last three months, I've been poor. Like, poorer than I've ever been in my entire life, and the most discouraged I have ever been in my entire life. I'll spare you the gory details, but there were other things happening that made me feel like I wasn't ready for marriage. I've cried a lot, and there have been some intense arguments with various people, but in the end, as a good friend reminded me, no one is ever truly ready for marriage. It's a journey that most of us in our early 20s have never been on, so of course we're not "ready" for it. But we can prepare for it as best we can. Counseling, budgeting, job searching, going on road-trips with your fiance (seriously, go on a 3.5 hour + road-trip with your significant other. If you can handle that, and both of you escape well-fed and alive, you can climb marriage mountains), and lots of reminders to keep things easy. Laugh a lot. Take time away from planning The Day, and plan The Rest of Your Life. We've started our marriage counseling, and it was an amazing, and very eye-opening, 2 hour session. It got pretty intense really fast, and none of us were expecting it. But because of that, Lando and I feel better prepared for our second session. I digress...take time out of the wedding planning to work on your marriage, and your personal lives. Because once all the confetti, sparklers, and your Caribbean tan all fade away, and it's just the two of you standing in the kitchen of your new home...that's when stuff gets real. And if you're not prepared for probably won't be easy.

#1: How much support we have. 
Seriously, we have had an OVERWHELMING amount of support. People have come out of the woodwork to offer tips, and tricks, or simply lunch dates to talk about wedding plans. People I haven't talked to in years have inquired about how things are going. It's amazing to know that even though I might not be invited to share in their festivities, women are so helpful when it comes to wedding planning. I think that's one of the coolest things about being engaged...people who have been there will lend an ear, advice, a bag full of vendor information, anything. And this is not to say that our non-engaged or even single friends haven't been helpful....they've been some of our biggest supporters! Especially the people in our bridal party. So a tip for picking bridesmaids and groomsmen: think of the people you know you can trust. Choose the girls who will come over for a wedding crafting night, and the guys who will take you out for wings when your bride gets a little overbearing. (It will happen. Even the most casual bride has her "must haves" list.) Ask your parents to chip in! I found a great article on TheKnot on how to get the Father of the Bride involved in the planning. I think it's adorable, and dads, or step dads, will jump at the chance to help their little girl have a special day.  Let your day be your day, but don't be so prideful that you refuse help. You'll be up to your ears in mini details that would be easy to sort out if you ask for some assistance!

So those have been some things that I've learned along the far. Advice, additions, and questions, as always are welcome at anytime!

(This is one of the invite samples from Wedding Paper Divas! 
I've cropped out the irrelevant information, but you get the point!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy Things.

Hey y'all!
It's been a rough couple of days at Casa de Estrella, so today I decided to focus on things that make me happy! So, here are 5 things on my table today that are making me smile.

1. Fresh Cut Flowers 
I love fresh cut flowers, but I don't indulge in them enough. Last week, the old fashioned rose bush bloomed as did the two peony bushes! Peonies have always been one of my favorite flowers, and total motivation to have a spring wedding. The old fashioned rose has such a distinct aroma and I am catching whiffs of it from across the room. It's the smaller pink one nestled between the two peonies.  I cut them off and then hand-tied them with some twine that I found on my sister's potting table. I put them in some tap water and I am enjoying them immensely. I'm also keeping a constant watch to make sure that no bugs are crawling out of them...

2. My Homemade iPad Case
My sister made this for me when I first got my iPad and I'm still obsessed with it. She had given me some options of fabric, and naturally, I chose the one with the hedgehogs all over it. She made the pattern herself, and really, let's be honest, I wasn't surprised when she told me that. (This is the woman who made my other sister's wedding dress and all the bridesmaid dresses. She's too creative.) It's slightly padded, but not puffy....if that makes sense. It's like quilted on the inside. So yeah. the colors are happy, and I love hedgehogs, so it kind of makes sense! 

3. Sephora by O.P.I Nail Color
I love this stuff. I bought it three summers ago, and haven't worn it as much as I would like, but when I do wear it, it just makes me feel fancy. The color is "I Only Shop Vintage" and it's a nice "nude" shade. Now, when I say "nude" I don't mean pink...I mean "nude" as in, "it matches MY skin tone." It's not a heavy gold, and it's a bit sparkly. The JCPenny I used to frequent when I lived at home dropped a Sephora in the middle of the store. It was a nice addition, and this is the only thing I ever bought there. You can find this color online

4. "The Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas 
I've been reading this book for almost a year. I have one chapter left, and I'm going to be sad to have it all finished. I mean, sure I can read it again. But this book has been a huge reason why my view of marriage has literally been turned upside down. The subtitle is "What if God designed marriage to make us holy, more than to make us happy?" He touches on conflict, forgiveness, prayer, and of course, sex, and how all of these things can lead us not only closer to our spouse, but also closer to the cross. I NEVER highlight or underline books, but this one is littered. It also has a study guide at the back of the book if you decide to dig deeper. I think I'll be using that when I decide to read it again. You can purchase "The Sacred Marriage" on Amazon. 

5. A Lace Table Runner
I have no idea where this lace table runner (that you see in all of the pictures), came from. I wanted a pretty background for my pictures, so I grabbed the first lacy thing I found. I love lace. I didn't used to until I met Lando and started looking at more modern wedding dresses. I think the detailing is super intricate and it makes anything look and feel more classic and flowy. You can often find antique lace at estate sales, or antique stores! 

So these are the things that are making me smile today! Leave a comment and tell me what things cheer you up when you're feeling blue! 

Shine Bright! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Year 25: I'M ENGAGED!!!!!

Most of you reading this now already know but this is my official announcement to the world that on April 11th, Lando asked me to spend the rest of my life with him and I said, (and I quote directly): "Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh.........YES!"

The whole thing was a complete and total surprise to me. Lando orchestrated the whole thing, and it was beautifully, and SNEAKILY executed by the ENTIRE cast and crew of "Godspell," my best friend Liesl, my family, and a few friends who knew it was happening, so they came to see the show and The Proposal. The entire experience of "Godspell" was amazing, and life-changing for many of us involved, and this was the cherry on top of the sweetest bowl of ice cream ever invented.

Brief timeline of events, so you have some background before watching the video. (Yes, there's a video). On Sunday the 6th, the cast performed for several of Calvary's church services. It was a fun day, and it was also the day we were to load the set into the State Theatre. Our choreographer Sara asked if I wanted to ride with her from the one church service to the theatre and help unload things. I said sure! I was free for the rest of the day and it would be no problem. We sat in the lobby of the theatre because church was still going on, and I was just on my phone texting, and on facebook while Sara was working on a few things for the week. I thought nothing of the fact that none of the other cast members showed up for about 2 hours. It was a beautiful day and I was content to just be. As it turns out, Sara was The Diverter. As she was holding me hostage in the theatre, Lando was at my house in Boalsburg asking my parents for their blessing. (Side Note: Ladies....just...I don't care how non-traditional you are, this is seriously an important step for your guy to do before he proposes.) They obviously said yes! Lando later told me that they also took time to pray with him at the end of the conversation! Of course that made me cry! I feel so blessed to have parents who love and support us!

The rest of the week was pretty normal. Tech and dress rehearsals, being able to finally use our AMAZING set, and having a rocking opening night on Thursday the 10th.

Then came Friday. It was a dreary rainy State College day, but I. Did. Not. Care. My best friend was coming to town to see the show!! Liesl and I have been best friends for 5 years. She's always there to put me back on track and make sure I'm not becoming more of a hot mess than I already am. She's inspiring, and strong and just a beautiful woman of God. And she was coming to see my show. She also brought with her two friends from Lancaster, our former camper AJ, and his mom Michele. AJ and I have a special bond, and Michele is seriously one of the nicest people ever. We all went out to dinner, and Lando and Andrew (the guy plying Jesus) met up with us. Lando and Liesl exchanged a big hug and I rolled my eyes. "You guys love each other a little too much." I said. "Yep. We do." Lando replied, barely making eye contact with me. Lando sat on the other side of Liesl and we all talked and joked and enjoyed some good food. We went down to the theatre to get ready and at one point Lando was sitting on the couch in the green room staring off into space. I asked if he was alright, and he said his stomach was feeling a little off. I just figured it was pre-show jitters, so I let him have his space. (#ActorProblems). The show was great despite a tiny problem of missing a parable (an ENTIRE parable), I was feeling dehydrated, and then I swapped some words around in my song. In the grand scheme of things. It was no big deal.

At the end of the show we had our curtain call, and we went back to the dressing rooms to change. Our stage manager caught me and said "Hey Star, whenever you're done, head upstairs. We have a light cue that we need to adjust during 'All Good Gifts.'" I said sure, but that I really needed to grab a bottle of water and I had friends waiting for me, and hopefully they would stay. I sent a text to all my friends to not go anywhere because we needed to fix a light cue. They all assured me they would wait. We all headed back upstairs and I was chugging water like it was going out of style. Sara, once again, doing her job, came over to me and said, "here Star, I'll hold your water for you." and snatched it out of my hands. I was so upset. All I wanted to do was drink some water. For heaven's sake, someone was passing around a cookie and they didn't get that taken away! I was like, alright, fine. Whatever. And that's when this happened.

As you can see. I was pretty excited, as were the rest of our friends. What I still can't believe is how EVERYONE lied to me (and didn't feel bad about it!), and kept the whole event a secret. I feel so blessed to have been able to share the stage with all of these amazing people, and to have them be a part of a moment that will live on in my memory forever! It was also extra special because Lando had invited some of our other mutual theatre friends to be there, and my friend Katrina, who had NO idea what was going on, happened to be at the show that night too! It was so overwhelming to have that much support right away! Oh, I called my mom after the camera was turned off, and her response was "We've been checking our phones ALL NIGHT!" I have such a great cheer-leading section!

So that happened, and we are full speed ahead planning this expensive party. We are so excited and feel so blessed that we're able to spend a joyous time together with friends and family along the way!

I'm going to try hard to blog, but please forgive me if I allow another time lapse! I'm auditioning for King Lear in July, so perhaps that will allow for some good stories. (Provided I get cast!)

Feel free to share the video, and please reach out to me with any any wedding-related questions/comments, (either offering suggestions, or asking for some), as we are getting a really good education on how to do this. We are headed to a venue this afternoon and I'm praying this is the one!!

Thank you to everyone who has already shared so many kind words and invaluable advice with us! We appreciate it more than you know! We love you all!

Carry on my warrior friends, and as always, Shine Bright!

 PS: Here's a picture of the ring! Lando did a great job, with the help of his Best Men, Ben and Colin. Love you three guys so much!!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Diversity in the Theatre: I won't stop speaking up.

Lately, I've been feeling like a broken record. I can count on two hands the number of times I've recently said "white people show" or "shows where the director feels the family unit MUST be white." I understand that by living in Central Pennsylvania, I've kind of limited my options, but I'm dealing with that personally after a swift kick in the pants by someone I respect. (Side note: I'm planning on moving!!!!! More on that in another post eventually!)  
If you know me, you know that the subject of race isn't something I talk about it. I grew up in a white family. I never really thought that I was "less than" or had to work extra hard because I was black.Of course some people think I should take my skin color and let it define me in all aspects of my life. But I'm not going to do that. I don't find my identity in my skin color, I find it in who I am in Christ. But that's also a different blog post for a different time. 

I was recently asked to audition for a role of a middle aged, southern, black man. I didn't want to do it. I felt guilted into auditioning, because, I guess, I was the only black actor around here that people could think of. Which would be cool if the show had been "Race" by David Mamet, and the role was Susan a 20something (maybe early 30s...) black lawyer. But it wasn't. And I didn't audition. I included this in my email to the director, and I meant every word of it two weeks ago, and I still mean them today:  

I think that finding a play with one African American character was very bold, and a very cool decision on your part. On the flip side, as an African American actress who is involved in a community theatre that only seems to pick shows where WHITE families are the main characters, unfortunately, I don't have a prayer of being cast. And then having the option to audition for a show just because I'm black, is cool, I guess, but "being black" isn't really my schtick. I'm a talented actress, and I can do so much more than just look a certain way. And my prayer for the future of theatre is that my son or daughter will not be called upon for a role just because of their skin color. Theatre is moving in such a good direction, when it comes to diverse casting, but I think we who are involved at the community level need to be more conscious of picking shows that can be filled with people of all races and backgrounds, not just a show with a "token black." The world itself is changing...I'm in a serious relationship with a white guy, I have some biracial friends, and some Indian friends and some Filipino friends. We are hard-pressed, especially in the State College community, to find someone who is 100% anything. Diverse backgrounds are becoming the norm in the world, and I believe that theatre should be a direct reflection of life and the world around us. Otherwise, unless we're doing a historic Wilson, or GB Shaw, or Isben, it becomes inauthentic, and more difficult to relate to. Thankfully, a lot of contemporary playwrights are moving in that direction. And they're doing that by writing plays that don't have specific character breakdowns. Which is awesome, because it gives actors of color more of a chance of being involved! 

I'd like to point out that I'm not the only one thinking, talking, and writing about diversity in the theatre. I recently read a great article about the role of theatre critics where diversity is concerned. The Article Overview reads:
Some critics don’t concern themselves with diversity or context, sticking to the subject before them. This is its own form of injustice as well as an abandonment of the critic’s role; to see exclusionary practices and not comment on them is to perpetuate them, but also, to pretend a show exists in a cultural vacuum does a disservice to the role of art. 
I love this. The article goes on to say that the lack of diversity isn't just cultural/background. The theatre is also severely lacking women playwrights, producers, directors, etc...:
Just 17 percent of plays produced in this country are written by women. Since 2000, the annual list of the top 10 most-produced plays averages three female playwrights. (An interesting side note: there’s far more ethnic diversity among these women than there is among their male counterparts, which is great, but leads me to wonder whether this is because such playwrights enable artistic directors to check off more than one “diversity” box.)  
I literally couldn't have written a better side note if I tried. Do we as theatre practitioners purposely stack our decks so we can appear diverse? This honestly hasn't been my experience, but I pray to God it never happens.

There are a few sides to the diversity situation: people who think producers should strive to include all types of people in every show of the season; people who think that the only type of "diversity" we should have is a
"Random Black Girl" in the ensemble of every musical (these people are usually the more old fashioned types of directors); and then there are people who don't think about this at all, which isn't necessarily a problem, but it's not a solution either. 

I'm no expert, but I think the biggest thing we at the local level are missing is a simple dialogue on this issue. I can sit here all day and link you to bigger theatre communities who have devoted entire studies to managing and valuing diversity... but I think I'd prefer to ask the questions myself: 

  1. Why couldn't we produce "Race" by David Mamet for a season? Or any other shows like that? (Memphis!! Sister Act!! The Color Purple!!)
  2. Why aren't we able to draw a larger diverse crowd to our shows?
  3. What if we took the notion of "black people wouldn't have been anything other than maids in the 1930s" and threw it out, and cast a black woman as Reno Sweeney, or any type of lead? 
  4. Who says every family unit all has to look the same? I mean, have you seen my parents and siblings??
  5. What if we just sat down, and talked it all out? 
I feel like I took the long way to a simple point, but I think the only way to get there is to talk about the hard, and potentially uncomfortable things. Sure, I may talk about it a lot, but that's because it's important to me. As a woman, as an actress of color, and as a human being. 

I truly believe that art is a direct reflection of life, and I think most of my theatre and artist friends would agree. And if we're being truthful, life isn't seeing all white-bread families everywhere anymore. (Biracial, adoptive, and blended families, for example.) So why should our theatres show that? It's a direct misrepresentation of the world around us, and it's not 100% relatable to today's audiences. So even though I'm one person, I believe that I have the power to at least ignite the conversation. Join me, and together, we could change the world. 
More Links: 

Diversity in American Theater: The Mythology of Color Blind/Conscience Casting
On Valuing Diversity, Managing Diversity, and the Difference
"Random Black Girl" Composers: Kooman and Dimond

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"After All This Time?"

Some of you know this, and others of you might drop dead, but I have never read the Harry Potter series. Gasp. Breathe in...breathe out....
I was an extremely gullible child. You know all those Christian Parents who wouldn't let their kids read HP because of the magic? Well, I think my parents didn't let me read them because they assumed I'd probably try to make things levitate, etc..., and get angry when it didn't happen and try to burn down the house. To give a point of reference, I was in 6th grade when the first book came out. So, yeah, I was a little young.

By the time I realized I would survive if I had read them, I decided not too. I don't know why, but I just didn't. I went to college and I was basically the only one in all my friend groups who hadn't read them. But throughout the years, I have seen 4.5 of the movies, so I think that counts for something. I know it's not the same, but at least I'm not completely clueless.
After the last movie was released my News Feed, Pinterest and Twitter timeline were BLOWN UP with all these feelings. I loved how passionate my friends were, but to be honest, it didn't motivate me to read the books.
This past fall, I met a beautiful young woman named Veronica who is a baker, and basically just a really awesome human being. Recently she started to re-read the Harry Potter books and blogging about them in segments.  So, naturally, I thought, Veronica is really nice, and really cool, so I'm going to start reading the books and read her blogs alongside them!

I clearly have not started that. 

And now that JK Rowling has come out and said that she thinks Hermione should have not ended up with Ron, and should have married Harry , I'm over the whole entire thing.

Why in the world would I want to read books with a story line that THE AUTHOR has now regretted? Why would I spend literally over hundreds of hours investing my emotions into to characters, when I know that the author would have written this book a different way? Why couldn't she have just sat on her pile of billions, and silently regretted this? Why?? Millions of HP fans have been devastated, and me?? I'm not even a "fan" per se, and I'm upset enough to write a blog about this!!!

To me, it kills any hope I had of picturing all the cool things that exist in the wonderful wizard-y world. And to be honest, I had no idea that Ron and Hermione ended up together. I knew Harry got with Luna Lovegood (right? Is that right? Hold on...Googling.....) Just kidding, he marries Ginny. I TOTALLY knew that. But I seriously didn't know the Ron-Hermione match. So now I'm just sad, because, what if I wanted them to end up together?? What if I wished Hermione would have stayed single?? My hopes would have been ruined either way.

I'm sure I'll be able to get over this eventually, and I'll read the books, but for now, you'll have to excuse me while I mourn the loss of something I never had in the first place.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Guest Post: Elizabeth's Top 10 Things to Do on A Snow Day (That Don't Include Technology)

IT'S SNOWING! Surprise of all surprises, right? It's the millionth snowy day of 2014 here in Central Pennsylvania, and I asked my best friend Elizabeth to share with us a list of 10 things to do on a snow day! She's very much not dependent on technology like I am, so here is her list of things to do that don't involve sitting in front of a screen! Enjoy!

1. Spend some time with God: Read your Bible, pray, just sit and spend some time thanking Him for the blessings He has given you. I promise you won't regret it.

2. Read a book: Any book. Do it. It can be a kid's book for all I care. Just do it.

3. Be creative: You know that painting/scrapbook/knitting/woodwork etc. project that you have been wanting to do/finish but have been putting off because you don't have time? Well guess what, you have time now! Get to work!

4. Write. It can be a journal, a book, or a letter to someone! I mean, come on, everyone loves to get mail!

5. Bake or cook: We ALL have a recipe board on Pinterest of deliciousness that we want to try. Even if you aren't a good cook/baker, this is the perfect time to practice!

6. Clean: I know, I know. This sounds boring and not fun at all, but seriously. You have all day, why not get some of your weekly cleaning done! Even if it's just light cleaning, you have the time. Or if you want to be really ambitious and deep clean something, go for it!

7. Play in the snow: Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, make snow angels, or just take a snowy walk! Embrace your inner child!

8. Play an instrument/sing: Practice makes perfect! So go ahead and play away! I personally don't do this as often as I would like to, but when I do get the chance, it's so relaxing and calming.

9. Work out: Yea, this isn't one I do very often. You'll feel better after you do it though! (Or so I've been told...)

10. Play a game: Board game...card game....just have fun!

11. Snow day photo shoot: Seriously, grab your camera and document your snow day! Make some memories!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Year 25: Tactful Avoidance (With an intro about First World Problems)

I'm a huge fan of #FirstWorldProblems. If you search the hashtag on Twitter you get an amazing look at all the menial things people of privilege (aka, anyone in the US, UK, or other Middle-to-Upper-Middle-Class Countries), are dealing with on a daily basis. For example: 
Jan 23The heated leather seats in this rental car take, like, four minutes to warm up my backside.
Jan 22Had to cut bagels in half myself because they didn't come pre-sliced.
Jan 22My snowblower won't start.

Ok, so maybe that last one is actually a big deal if you're living in the North East right now. But I'm looking at all the people right here in State College who have bigger issues than I do. The homeless wanderers, the stranger guy at the cafe who approached me the other morning, who I will blog about's just heartbreaking.

It's also heartbreaking because I'm not woman enough to face my own problems. Anytime I'm hit with confrontation or conflict, my instinct is to run, hide, and avoid. Sweeping things under the rug should be my Olympic sport.

Tactful Avoidance is easy. But it's not always the best thing for us...for me. I prefer to distract myself from the bigger issues in life by trying to figure out trivial ones. For example, I'm sad to be missing Sean and Catherine's wedding tonight, (You know, the couple from last year's season of The Bachelor...!), but really I should be sad that I feel emotionally drained from a situation that probably wasn't a big deal to begin with. But it's easier to focus on the things that provide us an escape from reality.

Sometimes an escape is good, healthy even. But when all we're doing is escaping, we can lose sight of the important things directly affecting the people we love, and the world around us. My challenge to you, and to myself this week is to take time to focus on just one thing that you've been avoiding. It might be confrontation, it might be cleaning your room (whoops...), or it might be figuring out whether or not to accept/turn down/think about that big job offer you just got. Whatever it it, set aside sometime to think, meditate, and pray about the situation. I will join you in doing this as well.
Because running from problems is exhausting, and I'm getting worn out.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Year 25: New Year's Edition

Here we are. January 1st. My News Feed and Twitter Timeline is full of people saying good riddance to 2013. Some nicely...some harshly. I don't know everyone's story from this past year, but as I'm getting older, I see more and more people spewing malice at the past 364.75 days. Honestly, I don't get it. Now, that's not to discredit anyone's tragedy, or loss, or extreme challenge; but instead of focusing on how terrible the past year was, shouldn't we be thankful that God saw us through all of our tough times? Sure, it's nice to bury the past and move on, but it's our past that shapes how we approach the future. So as you continue your toast to 2014, remember to take the things that make you say "Sayonara, 2013!" and turn them into applicable life lessons for 2014!

I've seen this quote from Steve Jobs floating around, and I really think it's a good reminder:

As for me, this past year was about growth as a daughter, a girlfriend, a theatre practitioner and a student. I'm not in the habit of making resolutions, but here is the start (and partial continuation) of my Year 25 Active Challenges List:

  1. Instead of resolving to hit the gym twice a week, I challenge myself to treat my body as my instrument. I challenge myself to look beyond the things I can't physically overhaul, and focus on the things that are easily modified. 
  2. I challenge myself to show more thoughtfulness and gratitude towards those I love. 
  3. I challenge myself to approach every audition (4 in the next month and a half!!) as a learning experience. 
    • 3a: I will NOT put myself down after an audition. I will learn from my mistakes and correct them for the next time. 
  4. I challenge myself to gracefully say "no" to things I know will not be good for my mental stability. 
  5. I challenge myself to stop drinking coffee. Completely. 
    • 5a: I also challenge myself, to stop indulging in food that I know makes me feel sub-par. 
So those are 5, non-overwhelming things I'm going to challenge myself to do this year. I have many more, but I think 5 was a good place to start. 

What about you? Are you happy to see the New Year, or is January 1st just another day? What are some of our resolutions or challenges? Share them in the comments below!