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I Wonder As I Wander...

I wonder as I wander... Hey there. It's been a minute since I last wrote. Probably about four months, to be exact. As you can imagine (if you haven't been looking at my Instagram and Facebook posts), I've been QUITE busy for the past four months. For instance... A new theatre season began at my two part-time jobs, which meant more work shifts, pay raises, and a promotion I didn't anticipate. I got to work on a whopping four shows, two of which were on Equity contracts, and several received much praise, nominations, and awards. I got to frolic at the Renaissance Faire for the day, followed by pumpkin carving (all in my Renaissance dress, mind you!). I got to take some much-needed time away from social media to care for my mental health. I got to cook some tasty dishes and treats for my family and friends and even some people in the theatre community. And believe me, when I say this, they went FAST! Oh, and by the way... Did I mention that I accomplished a primary goal for this year? See for yourself:

And if you need further proof:

It happened. I'm now a Actors' Equity Association member, and I'm excited and scared about what comes next. Given the nature of this business and how well-established artists are often cast in multiple projects repeatedly as members of the union (or even non-union, for that matter), there are times I wonder if I stand a chance among the most respected actors in my region. And I wonder about this as I wander about my days. I wonder as I wander... I often think back to a day when I shared my news with a colleague, and she asked me if there was any difference between any of the theaters in the area. I told her that one of the theaters where I work as a house manager often casts the same people repeatedly in their shows, and I asked if I stood a chance of getting cast, let alone seen, for any of the shows and projects in the area. Do you know what she told me? "Oh, you will. You're not only so talented, but you're so reliable." That made me smile and gave my heart and spirit some much-needed reassurance. It's not just my talent that's gotten me this far in my career or life. But it's how often I show up for others out of love, concern, encouragement, steadfastness, and kindness. Those are intricate qualities to find in this profession I call acting. Sometimes, having the best voice, training, or even the best credits on your resume isn't enough. It's how often you take the time to show up. It's how often you hold yourself accountable for your actions and mistakes and learn from them with humility and grace (even if it means your pride gets bruised now and then). It's how often you show your authentic self when you're not onstage, even if it means allowing the imperfections not to define you or how much it matters that you treat everyone with kindness and respect. It's how often you allow yourself to feel all of the emotions of each rejection alongside the successes, no matter how much it overwhelms you. It's how often you keep going, even if you must crawl to wherever you want to be in your career or life. As Winston Churchill once said, "If you're going through hell, keep going." And as Steve Harvey once said, "If you're going through hell, why do you want to stay there?" I wonder as I wander... In case you haven't figured it out, I've been doing a lot of wondering as I've been wandering lately. It's going on towards the end of the year, and I'm in a reflective mood, with a massive dose of gratitude added there for good measure. And part of that involves looking back at how an extensive choice I made five years ago changed my life. It was changing my name legally and starting over with a clean slate.

And with that official declaration from the District Court in Montgomery County, I'm living the life I've always wanted, even if there are a few bumps in the road in terms of confronting my past to achieve all of the dreams and opportunities the little girl dreamed of so badly. For five unforgettable years (and during a pandemic, no less!), I've had the chance to craft memories I never would've imagined if I didn't wonder, as I wondered and wandered, what it would be like to change my fate and life in the process. Memories where my joy was as evident as the smile on my face:

First-time occurrences of being featured in stories about my career in prominent and local news outlets:

Working with incredible people across the region that I get to call friends and my tribe:

Performing at two prestigious locations that I even I never expected to be at:

Having the opportunity to shine at some magnificent opening nights (even as a house manager):

But as much as there were plenty of smiles this year, there were also times when my smile wasn't as wide, and my eyes didn't twinkle as much:

And yet, through it all, I made it through. Better yet, I not only survived, but I thrived. There were plenty of heartbreak, stress, frustration, and tears this year. Sometimes it forced me to feel so many emotions that I was overwhelmed and didn't know what to do with myself. And I even dealt with some challenging experiences that tested my spirit and, in some cases, my health. I felt like giving up going through these dark periods, but something inside me, call it a guardian angel or a still small voice, encouraged me to keep going. "It will get better." "It will be okay." Nothing terrible ever lasts forever, not really. And look at it this way: The more pain you feel, the more you'll feel alone and want to stay on the ground and give up. But if you do, you've just made it harder for the people who love you and support you, even those you haven't met yet, to stop fighting for you and encouraging you to keep going. That sums up all of my friends and family who stood by me through the bad times alongside the good and told me to keep going, even if it's crawling or just going very slowly. Yes, it hurts. I know that all too well. But nothing lasts forever, even the pain. Ending it all with your hand isn't the answer. It will only cause more pain for the people who mean the most to you. You DO matter. Trust me on that. You are meant to be here for a reason, even if it's showing others what it means to have patience and discover purpose through the pain and struggles. Don't worry. It will be okay. And be sure to reach out to others if you are struggling. You never know how much the act of a good friend listening to you or sharing a hug with you can bring some much-needed hope. I wonder as I wander... What am I hoping for in 2023? Especially when I'm wandering around the final few days of 2022? Well... I hope for an unforgettable year of many beautiful things happening to me. Like performing in NYC again. Like performing in the central Washington, DC, area theaters, including Ford's Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre, Arena Stage, Folger Shakespeare, Round House Theatre, and more. Like auditioning in person again and feeling safe to do so. Like traveling to London to celebrate my birthday. Like doing a musical for the first time in five years. Like seeing my student loans finally paid off. Like seeing my best friend for the first time in over a decade. Like starting to move away from my mental health medication for good slowly. Like going to audition in NYC in person once a month for great projects and shows. Like not doubting my talents and capabilities or selling myself so short of what I can do. Like meeting new people who may open my eyes, mind, and heart to new stories and ideas I never thought of before. Like performing in person in shows in my hometown and the surrounding communities so my friends and family can come to see me. Like doing some more reading. Like exploring more places I haven't been to before. Like hanging out with my friends and family more often. Like restarting some traditions that I've put off for over two years. Like knowing and appreciating my worth, even when others can't see it or even when I can't. (This week's blog post may be short and sweet, but these are still my observations and reflections from a 2022 well-lived, well-learned, and well-loved. You are welcome to disagree with anything I say, but I won't tolerate any hateful, disrespectful, or offensive language, especially since we're heading into a new year. If you have a new year's resolution, being kinder to one another should be at the top of your list. I will block you if you can't even do that one simple thing.)

I wonder as I wander... I can't tell you if 2023 will be better than 2022. I'm not even sure if 2023 will be better than the past few years we've been on this crazy ride called a pandemic or even a tripledemic. But I do know this: Staying in the same place and resisting change isn't the way to enter the new year. We can do great things if we are courageous enough to see them and take the steps toward who we are meant to become. Small steps are better than big ones. So much has happened to me because of those small yet mighty steps I took these past few years. Maybe that's my wish for you for 2023. Take those small yet mighty steps with courage, even if it's just a minute at a time. And more importantly... Have FAITH and LET GO. I look forward to celebrating the new year, and I hope wherever you are, it's one that's filled with possibilities, transformation, learning, growing, and thriving. And also the assurance that no one is ever truly alone. Here's to a joyous and magical 2023. I wonder as I wander...

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