Growing up, my family always had a big party for my sister and my birthdays. Our birthdays are four days apart, and it was always easier to have a big party for the both of us, so I’ve grown accustomed to having big birthday parties. I won’t lie, I’d love to have a big celebration, but I also have one big fear.
What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
I know, it sounds stupid, but it’s a legitimate worry that I have, so I usually try to do several events.
Here are thirty three ideas that I have for birthday events. I’m not going to get to do all of them, but at least there’s a starting point.
I’ve been watching and listening to my Newsies soundtracks lately, and its brought back a resurgence of a group of fans known as the Newsies Mailing List. I’ve been looking back on some of my posts from 1998-present, and it’s chockfull of memories of youth. While some of the posts I made are cringe-worthy and full of awkward adolescent babble, other posts… they were from a version of myself that was full of life. I loved Seize the Day. It was my middle school anthem song- my fight song, as you will. I would burst into the song and was ready to take down giants.
Looking back on my past… it makes me feel so OLD and TIRED. Where is that girl who burst into song? Where is that girl on a mission? My exuberance for things seems to have gotten lost, and I am grasping to get back some of that life. I have been so bored and sluggish in a lot ways. My life feels like Belle in the Disney animated Beauty and the Beast- you know, the scene where she is out in the fields in her desire for the adventure in that great wide somewhere, and she picks up a dandelion seed plant, and she sings, “I want so much more than they’ve got planned!”
Being an adult is hard. I’ve lost friendships, gained friendships, had broken relationships that crushed me like a bug, went through some real life experiences that have tried to flatten me. I feel like I’m drowning in financial insecurities, yet I am embracing the joy of creating art that I love while feeling the sorrow of not being able to live off of it. I am trapped in a world where money equals power, and it sucks. I don’t know if I can carpe diem. But I’m not going to just tuck my tail between my legs and call it a day. Maybe I need a new anthem song. Maybe not Seize the Day or the Belle Reprise, but maybe a mixture of both.
To living the dream. To moving across the country to be able to pursue that dream. To finding opportunities to use my gifts in acting, singing, dancing, and playing ukulele. To being paid for those artistic endeavors.
To being validated, and seen for who you are, however artistic and strange that may be. To working on projects that don’t make sense and don’t need to make sense.
To working with artists who make an effort to represent diversity in a real way- who open their hearts and share their stories, and make you cry with their pain and laugh with their moments of joy. To being heard loud and clear without speaking a word in English. To singing about the injustice and making the truth known.
To writing something and see that writing from page to stage. To dreaming and seeing that dream continuously deferred, but it finally happening- small and unpretentious, but it took place.
To making an effort to bring life to the small parts in big casts, and to sitting through the long and tiring rehearsals to finally make it to opening night.
To looking forward to the artistic journey you are embarking on and to be excited about the future projects that are awaiting to be seen.
To never giving up on that dream, no matter how many times you get knocked down or are told not to waste their time auditioning because they aren’t looking for your ‘type’. To living the dream you’ve had in you since you were young. To reach for it again and again.
Last weekend, my church had a women’s retreat, and that first night was a little rough. I had carpooled with friends, and the trip was good, though we were stuck in traffic for a while, we made it there. But because we’d arrived right when it started, we were all split up, sitting nowhere near one another. It was crowded, and I was now distracted by my thoughts of how my word count for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) would be effected, so I wasn’t able to put all of my heart into the worship. My mind was scattered in many directions, and to make it worse, they announced that the “hotel” that I signed up to stay in wasn’t quite a hotel, but it was “special.” All of my complaints started to burst through my seams, but I held it together, and tried to listen to the first speaker, Tina Miranda.
It was on condemnation vs. conviction, and to be honest, I was not paying attention well. The seats were cramped. I was uncomfortable and squirmy. My foot fell asleep, and all around I kept trying different sitting positions to try to improve my circulation. However, I did manage to focus on one thing, and part of it is because I was so distracted that I just started drawing a cartoon elephant that was in the powerpoint presentation. Tina told a story of how in India, baby elephants would be roped up tightly, and on finding that they could not escape, they accepted that they would never be able to escape. By the time they were adults, even though they were much stronger than the bonds that held them, they stayed captive. It didn’t hit me until after the retreat was over, but I have accepted a lot of lies that have kept me in bondage since I was young, and I’m only now beginning to break free of them. We broke into small groups and it was loud and noisy. I could barely hear what anyone else was saying in my group above all the noise. And at that point, I was reluctant to say a lot because I didn’t know these women, and I didn’t know how much to share with them.
So then, the time comes for us to go to the cabins. Whoopee, I get to stay in the “special” cabin, which was farther off than any of the cabins or hotel rooms. Luckily, I had a few friends walk me to the “special” zone, or the Ranch House, as it was called at the camp site. And as I entered in, my insecurities began to well up inside of me. The friends I had carpooled with, and all of the ladies in the community group I go to, were all staying in the cabins. Since I am an introverted extrovert, I signed up for the hotel, knowing I’d be surrounded by people all weekend. While I do love being around people, I do not like a whole lot of noise when I’m trying to sleep. You can ask my upstairs and downstairs neighbors, who have gotten visits from my more rational and understanding husband, asking them to quiet down because his wife would throw a fit if they didn’t. Anyway, back to the special zone. The entry was decorated with a lot of weird paintings, like The Weenie Man. There were others, but none as weird as this. A little frightening, if you ask me.
There were three different rooms and the hallway to bunk in. I chose the room in the back where all the bathrooms were. I have a tiny bladder, so I knew I’d probably have to make frequent trips. Another advantage was that there were only three beds, so there would be less people that would be noisy at night. The downside was that if anyone else had to use the bathroom, they’d have to come in to do their business.
But the pros outweighed the cons, and there only ended up being two of us in the room. Another awesome woman, Kiesha, who is a personal trainer, and I ended up falling asleep on the earlier side. While things were a bit noisier in the other rooms, with the bathroom fans on, it drowned out some of the talking and laughing.
In the morning, we both woke up and got ready. I got all my things packed up into my book bag and my purse, and then I headed out, on my own. I was feeling a little bit lonely at this point. I hadn’t really gotten into any deep conversations with anyone. I really didn’t make any new friends, which made me feel bad about myself .
So I climb up onto this water slide that’s closed up, and I look at the view, and I am in wonder of God’s creation. I open my Bible App on my phone, and I open to wherever. It happens to be 1Thessalonians 5. I read and I pray and I begin to thank God instead of complaining and throwing a pity party for myself. After that, I headed to breakfast, and then headed over to the morning sessions.
The next three sessions kinda blasted me. Jamie Chapman spoke on Control and how the roots of it were Fear and Pride. She used Moses’s Song from Exodus 15:2 and the Lord’s Song from Zephaniah 3:17, and made us sing out loud. Little did I know that the woman who was leading my small group would be speaking next. Shiela Chopin was preaching about Complaint. I was so engaged in her bringing the word and keeping it real when she spoke about Moses and David dealing with the people’s constant complaints, that I actually forgot to take notes, which I now regret. Luckily she provided an outline. She spoke of walking in God’s Spirit, and “getting fat” in the word because if we are full of God’s word, then there is no room for complaint. And she left us with an awesome and powerful prayer.
After that, we broke into small groups. Our group went outside, and I was much more inclined to share, especially with the woman who had just blasted my heart with conviction about all of my complaining. I was so glad to get to know these ladies, and the discussion with them really blessed me.
After small groups, I was one hundred percent ready to receive the last session from Adele Douglin, and it was about Comparison. This is one of the areas that I struggle with A LOT. She gave examples in the Bible: Cain and Able, Leah and Rachel, Mary and Martha, and as a little sister with a “perfect” older sister, comparison has been following me around my whole life. When she talked about Antidotes to Comparison, I was hit strongly, and I’ll share them:
Speak God’s Promises Into Your Life
Compliment Sisters and Learn from Them
Take a Break from Social Media
Let Friends Know that Comparison has No Room in Your Life
REDIRECTING CONVERSATIONS TO SPEAK WELL OF ONE ANOTHER
We finished out with worship and lunch afterwards, and I couldn’t believe the difference in my attitude form the night before to the afternoon. I left encouraged and excited about what God is going to be doing in my life. I know that becoming a diamond from a lump of coal isn’t going to be easy, but I know that in the end, all of the pressure and pain in this life is going to result in something beautiful.
Today I watched the 1931 4th Academy Award winner, Cimarron, originally a novel by Edna Ferber, and was impressed with the improvements in sound, film, and acting. At first, the film seems to be about Yancey Cravat (Richard Dix) and his desires to pioneer the wild west of Oklahoma, as he publishes his new-fangled ideas on equality and justice in his paper, while his square wife Sabra (Irene Dunne) spends her time bitching about the dirty Indians and ostracizing the town whore, Dixie Lee (Estelle Taylor). However, it’s pleasantly surprising that with each time Yancey leaves, Sabra is forced to grow and adopt his ideals. It takes her years of being without her husband for her to mature, and when she finally is reunited with her hubby, it’s brief, and he dies in her arms.
Around February, I had made a goal to the Oscar winners of the past, and predictably, life got hectic, and all my goals went down the porcelain pee-hole. But in an effort to pick up where I left off, I now present the second annual Academy Awards winner for Best Picture (1930):
THE BROADWAY MELODY 0f 1929
This film features a love triangle between the vaudville act known as the Mahoney Sisters, Hank (Bessie Love) and Queenie (Anita Page), and song and dance performer, Eddie Kerns (Charles King), who is engaged to Hank. Let the drama begin! When Hank isn’t being a bossy bitch, and Queenie isn’t being a whiney drunken mess, and Eddie isn’t constantly fawning over Queenie in a creepster way, it’s filled with lots of old tunes, one liners, and zingers are a-plenty.
The Austin Ukulele Society’s March meeting was a wonderful time for regular and new members alike. We moved out of the classroom we’ve been using for well over a year and tried out the gym for the first time. Our group has grown so much! Feedback was positive regarding the increased elbow room. We had a blast learning to strum and sing the Lumineers’ 2012 hit “Ho Hey” and enjoyed playing some of our other favorites as well. Here we are practicing “Ho Hey”:
You can download the lyrics and chords here. Download a copy of the instruction sheet for this song (what we project up on the wall for all to follow along) here.
As always, we appreciate you for being there! A very special thanks to our gracious open mic participants – Ian, Woody, Katie, Steve, Kendall, Randall and Jacob. We look forward to seeing you…