giving thanks

Each year we spend the Thanksgiving holiday sharing what we’re thankful for and breaking bread with our families. Whether it’s your blood-related, friend tribe, or work family is up to interpretation and circumstance; but nonetheless, it is a day to share-in and be surrounded by good energy, good people, and good food.

I was lucky enough to land the trifecta this Thanksgiving. I enjoyed the company of family and friends, ending the day back in New York to a sold-out show at CATS with my work fam (eating Little Pie Company pie no less…)

I heavily considered staying in New York this year for Thanksgiving. It would have been the first year of my existence that I wasn’t home with my family. I was conflicted — on the one hand, as we grow older, we sometimes have to choose our travel battles wisely. On the other, the holiday season is sacred – filled with nostalgia and tradition that only recirculates at that special time once a year. And while it feels like a week has passed between stepping on the train to Connecticut last night and as I sit here writing this in New York less than twenty-four hours later, I would not have traded the moments I had today for anything else.

I love Connecticut. I love waking up in the morning, eating cinnamon rolls with my parents, and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love my Grandma’s mashed potatoes and the smell of her home on the holidays. I love seeing my family from Long Island. I love playing Bananagrams with them and watching my Grandma get really upset every time someone yells “PEEL!” I also love that she still slips me twenty dollar bills like it’s hush money. And, most of all, I love that my cousins and I still have to sit at the kids table even though we’re all over the age of 22.

I am incredibly blessed to have a mere sixty miles in between my two homes; and moreover to have a family there with open arms that carts me to and from the train to New York just to see me for 16 hours. I am so grateful to have friends that think to reach out and wish me a “Happy Thanksgiving,” even though we’re grateful for each other every other day of the year. And, furthermore, I am very lucky to spend one last Thanksgiving sharing this theater with brilliant artists tonight, eating pie and comparing food baby bellies.

I am surrounded by an abundance of love and gratitude this Thanksgiving, and I hope you are, too.

bravery

bravery

“Bravery is living life wide awake.  Bravery is feeling what you need to feel.  Bravery is dancing with your fear instead of avoiding it.”

-Dr. Rebecca Ray

I’m back to blogging in hopes of reigniting the self-reflective and open relationship I have with myself.  This past week, my world was inflated with many emotions — namely the cautious, blind, brave tip-toe towards embracing the unknown. Bravery to take a step in an uncomfortable direction will be an obstacle we continuously face at various moments in our lives; and most times we won’t know that the fear we feel is merely a fraction of the courage we have.

“It takes courage to come undone; there is so much vulnerability in the process of unraveling.  So much freedom, too.

I don’t know you, but I know there’s something you must do.  Maybe it’s to finally walk away from the person who isn’t your person anymore, even though you so badly want them to be.  Maybe it’s starting the blog that’s been weighing on your heart for years.  Maybe it’s going back to school when you’re afraid of being a beginner again, of standing out and looking awkward and feeling misplaced.  Maybe it’s leaving the job, or joining the gym, or making the phone call.”

A dear friend recently sent me Dr. Rebecca Ray’s Soul Sparks Newsletter entitled “10 Things That Happen When You Get Brave”; and I firmly believe that whether we’re feeling high or low, at some point, we’ll need a small nudge or hard shove towards the tough choices in our lives.  These words validated my emotions and gave me permission to commiserate with the unnerving reality that comes with the aftermath of a brave choice.  The most relieving realization is the reassurance that your feelings are normal.

Your breakthrough will feel exhilarating.  What happens next won’t.  
That initial rush proves that it’s all worth it…You needed this awakening…And after that first HELL YES moment, just be aware that you’re going to come down a bit and that’s okay, that’s normal…You’re going to have to get used to being uncomfortable for a bit.  Feeling off or sad or scared doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice, it means you made a new choice.”

It’s so easy to feel like the choices we make are wrong when they don’t quite feel right.  Uncomfortably staring out into an abyss can be both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. But trusting that all feelings – both high and low – are temporary is also trusting that when the comfortability settles in, the reason for the abyss starts to become clear.  When feelings are constantly in flux, practicing patience with those emotions can be the biggest obstacle to conquer.

“You thought making the leap was the hard part.  Nope.  You’ve just shifted your reality and changed your expectations.  People who once fit perfectly into your world, back when you questioned your worthiness, no longer do…And so you’ll be asked to let go.  Letting go is a continuous choice, not this dramatic, one time only event where you officially release what’s been weighing you down.  No, you’ll have to choose to let go again and again and again until eventually love is your baseline.”

It’s amazing to me that we put this expectation on ourselves to immediately adjust to the new choices we’ve made – specifically the ones we know may take time to reveal their purpose.  Exuding confidence the moment we make a tough choice takes much more than feeling it the day we decide to step forward.  We are allowed to feel sad, we are allowed to feel lost, we are allowed to grieve over the parts of our lives that we once loved but are no longer serving a positive purpose.  But we must continue to re-choose ourselves each day until its practice becomes such an integral part of our lives that it’s no longer a choice but second nature.

“You’ve given the universe a green light to send you what you want…When you raise your vibration, you are magnetic.  This means new opportunities, new relationships, new attention, new everything…By accepting and allowing the good things coming into your life, you are showing others how it’s done.  You’re raising the bar.”

Bravery comes in all forms.  It can be large, small, unnerving, liberating, and most of all, questionable.  Most of the time, we don’t recognize how brave we are until we need it enough to make choices that will eventually pave the paths in our world.  I am a huge believer in trusting the universe to guide us towards where we need to go, but not unless we are willing to embrace that those jolts of directional change won’t always make sense right away.  Let’s be magnetic, let’s raise the bar, let’s allow the universe to show us why we needed to be pulled from our comfort zone.  Without bravery, we will forever be walking in circles, hoping that something will change for us rather than fearlessly moving through uncomfortable moments towards a world where the choices we make for ourselves will inevitably come to fruition and bring a life we deserve.

seriously?

seriously?

I had a very rapid epiphany while drifting to sleep in an upstate hotel near Saratoga Springs earlier this week —

I need to stop taking myself so seriously.

I don't know how or why this thought sprung from from crevices of my mind, but I'm glad that it did. I am constantly wrapping myself up in the little things – from the comparison of my surroundings, to where I'm going to be in six months when my show closes, all the way down to that thing I said to a coworker the other day that may have been funnier in my mind than it was out loud. And I slowly started to laugh to myself because, at the end of the day, I have very little control over the timing of my life. God, the universe – whoever or whatever you believe in – has a finite plan that rarely lines up with when exactly we want things to go our way. So why am I putting so much pressure on myself at twenty-five to be the best at everything, or be at the height of my career, or have myself completely figured out?

Our twenties are about discovery. Hell, life at any age is about discovery. My interests, my beliefs, my expectations, and my world are all slowly evolving as I grow and learn each day. I need to start consistently practicing the philosophy I preach. I need to stop wondering and start wandering. I need to bring my ideas to fruition. I need to embrace new intrigue now, while I'm young and vivacious and living in the atmosphere of a wild city that is filled to the brim with possibility.

I will thank myself later.

green bean salad

green bean salad

So I have to be honest, I am extremely picky about my salads; mostly because 9 out of 10 times, restaurants will give you half a pound of lettuce, sprinkle it sparingly with toppings, and call it a salad.  It turns people off from the healthy alternative, and you’re left paying an arm and a leg for a bed of lettuce will never actually satisfy you nor fill you up.

Instead, I would much rather build my salads from the ground up with substance.  On a sweltering hot day such as today, all I could think about eating was cold, fresh fruits and veggies.

So I bought a bunch of raw fruits and veggies that I love and dreamt up a lettuce-less salad to make at home.

IMG_7949

My base was green beans – which I know sounds weird, but I love raw green beans.  They’re crunchy, delicious and a alternative green base to your salad.

Processed with VSCO with 6 preset

I topped it with chopped baby carrots, raw sweet corn, avocado, red peppers, cucumbers, scallions and sliced cherry tomatoes.  To keep it as clean as possible, I made some guacamole as a “dressing.”  A little lime and black pepper and voila!

escaping reality

escaping reality

Manhattan is undoubtedly momumental; a concrete jungle filled to the brim with basically anything you could want at a moments notice.  It is yes and no all at the same time.  You can feel like you have everything and nothing in New York.  You can feel so suffocated yet so lonely in New York.  You can feel so much freedom yet so much restriction in New York.  New York City contains endless possibilities yet endless obstacles.

I have had many heart-to-hearts with a kindred spirit of mine, Hailei Moriah Call, who endlessly commiserates with me on many levels; but more recently the struggle of living in Manhattan while yearning for the escape to places outside of our itty-bitty city.  After a fourteen-show stretch at CATS, we all needed a breath of fresh air.  My breath of fresh air typically lies in the small town of Brookfield, Connecticut where I have spent the majority of my life learning and blooming into the person I am today.

Having two homes is simple and difficult all at the same time.  When I’m in one for too long, I crave the other.  And as I sit here in a Starbucks that lives on the corner of Route 3 in Rocky Hill, Connecticut rather than the average Manhattan street corner, I can’t help but wonder if my heart will ever feel settled somewhere.

love my life in New York.  I wake up in my sunny Manhattan studio apartment each morning feeling undeniably grateful (and a little hungover on most weekends).  But as we ripen through our twenties to approach an age bracket where we should be “settling down,” are we settling for where we settle?  Do we even have to settle?  Or can we break the glass ceiling and choose to put roots down in multiple places that set our souls on fire when we need them to?

My father said to me today that New York is not a part of me.  My heart almost exploded as I instantly went on the defense, because New York is a part of me.  Three and a half years of mistakes, adventures, tears, and triumphs become a part of you and they will continue to as long as I allow New York to be a part of me.  But the Statue of Liberty holding a chuck of my heart in her hands will never yank my roots out of the Connecticut soil, nor will it step on the roots I create anywhere else in my life.  For I would not be the person I am today if I did not ground myself into various places of this world.

tony

tony

The Tony Awards have held a special place in my heart since I started watching them in my adolescence, and it has been my dream to attend one day in some capacity.  This past year, when I was asked to join the company of CATS as a dresser, I truly thought that I would have the opportunity to be involved with the 71st Annual Tony Awards.

When the revivals started popping up like weeds in the Spring, I surely thought our show could never be passed over.  I mean, come on, we’re CATS.  Reviving this show was huge for the theatrical community.  And when we did not receive a nomination, for anything, I was admittedly surprised, but took solace in the fact that we were not alone.  Many shows got snubbed – namely a fellow ALW revival, Sunset Boulevard.

Despite being disappointed, I quickly reached a place of acceptance – we were walking into a ten-day work week leading up to the Tony Awards and on top of our fourteen consecutive shows, had to put in four new actors before Monday.  A Tony performance would have annihilated us.  It was a blessing in disguise.

But as I watched tonight’s Tony Awards Broadcast, I realized that, despite zero recognition from the American Theatre Wing, CATS is one of the most resilient and hardest-working companies on Broadway today.  We put forth one of the most physically demanding shows, on a raked stage, on one of the most difficult schedules, every single week.  And we don’t need a nod from anyone to tell us that.

Congratulations to my friend Philip Heckmana fellow dresser at CATS who had the honor of dressing Mr. Kevin Spacey tonight as he brilliantly hosted these awards.  A huge shout out to Daniel Gaymon, our Macavity in CATS and one of the kindest and most enjoyable colleagues I have at the pleasure of working with each night at the Neil Simon who was one of those delicious men in the opening number.  Kudos to Andy Blankenbuehler, who probably couldn’t pick me out of a line-up, but still says hello to me every time he visits our theatre.  Who brought us boxes on boxes of incredible doughnuts yesterday with a message reminding us that we deserved to be performing on the Tony’s tonight.  Who revamped this iconic show and made it possible for me to have a job, and who won the Best Choreography Award for Bandstand, where in my old colleague Drew McVety performed while my buddy Zak Jacobs cheered in the wings as Assistant Company Manager to this new musical.  A huge congratulations to my girl Kate Baldwin, who I dressed in Songbird, and was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! which I absolutely cannot wait to see.  I was tickled to see Gavin Creel win for Supporting Actor in Hello, Dolly!, a genuinely brilliant man who educated me in an hour-long masterclass about acting through song and cheered me on as he steered my performance in a productive direction back in 2012, which I will never forget.  To see Kristolyn Lloyd performing alongside the cast of Dear Evan Hansen after dressing her years ago in Heathers and knowing her warm spirit was such a proud mama moment.  And Zach Prince making the goofiest face next to his man on-screen during the line-up for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, was nothing short of typical and fabulous.  It has been an honor to work with all of you in some capacity throughout my time in Manhattan and even more exciting to see your success on screen tonight.

 

Congratulations to everyone who has poured their soul into these productions, both on and off the stage.  The nominations and winners were beyond well-deserved, and I am so grateful to be a part of the theatrical community as the small fraction that I am.

top five

top five

Last night, three karafs of sangria in with my two girlfriends from college, we started discussing our top five favorite artists.  I’ve already touched on my love for Ed Sheeran (see before i dive right into you), but I got to thinking about my personal top five, and wanted to share them with you (in no particular order) —

S A R A   B A R E I L L E S

sara-bareilles-2013-650-430

My heart has been beating for Sara Bareilles since high school.  I’ve seen her in concert twice, and went to her opening night as Jenna in Waitress.  That is how much I adore her.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

R-2754478-1307221483.jpeg

T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Uncharted — Kaleidoscope Heart

Many The Miles — Little Voice

Goodbye Song

Free Ride

Casseopia — The Blessed Unrest

D A V E   M A T T H E W S   B A N D

Dave-Matthews-and-Tim-Reynolds-at-Farm-Aid-2015-17

Another one of baby Tara’s favorites.  It all started when I was a freshman in high school trying to impress my senior boyfriend who loved DMB; and then I actually fell in love with his music and carried it with me into college and beyond.  I’ve never seen him perform live, which is shocking, but I will one day.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

8289953392_387229b5a1_o

T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Satellite – Under The Table And Dreaming

Why I Am – Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King

Ants Marching – Under The Table And Dreaming

Grey Street – Busted Stuff

Crash Into Me – Crash

M U M F O R D   &   S O N S

rs-196542-161048637

My Mumf love started in the autumn of my senior year of college back in 2012.  Ever since then, Mumford and Sons forever holds my fall-time anthems.  I have tried many times to see them live, but have yet to succeed.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

sighnomore-packshot

T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

I Will Wait – Babel

Little Lion Man – Sigh No More

Lover of the Light – Babel

The Cave – Sigh No More

Winter Winds – Sigh No More

J A S O N   M R A Z

JasonMraz-NewPub-BilZelman

What can I even say about Mr. Az?  I love him, I love what he stands for, I love his music – all of it.  He is a brilliant artist and his affiliation with Sara Bareilles makes my heart beat for him even more.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

jasonmrazbeautifulmess_liveonearth_cddvd

T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Butterfly – We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Traveler/Make It Mine – Beautiful Mess: Live On Earth

You F*ckin Did It – LOVE Is A Four Letter Word

Welcome to Saratoga: Older Lover Undercover – Selections for Friends

Live High – Beautiful Mess: Live On Earth

E D   S H E E R AN

68851e05-cec7-421b-8cf8-3e68eb7d60f6

This is the newest addition to the top five family.  Thinking Out Loud struck a chord in me, as it did with many people back in 2014, and from there I just fell in love with Ed Sheeran’s music.  I bet you’re starting to sense the trend I have with male guitarists.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

636243283768859926-1689261771_ed sheeran divide

T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Dive –  Divide

Thinking Out Loud – X

One – X

Photograph – X

Galway Girl – Divide

O T H E R    F A V E S