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Actor & Adventurer

1 Sep

The last year of my life has been filled with change.

There have been so many moving pieces – big decisions, conversations interrupted by tears, feelings of confusion, growing relationships, moments of clarity, and wordless prayers.

I am not who I was a year ago. I’m not who I was when I started this blog. So, I’m choosing to move forward instead of looking back.

Two things I will always be: an Actor & Adventurer. And I think a writer too. I’ve wanted to write these last few months, but just didn’t feel like The Art of Acting Up was the right spot anymore. It’s been a joy to write this blog over the last five years. And I just want to say thank you for taking this journey with me.

Now, I am starting another chronicle, penning a fresh chapter, creating a new place to write about my life as an actor who is always on the look out for an adventure.

If you want to keep up with me as I continue to chase my dreams in LA, explore this incredible world, and share my point of view – please check out my new blog:

I can’t wait to go adventuring with you!




The Last Days

11 Feb

These are the last days. 

The last days I will be a Tour Guide, an Angeleno, a California Girl.

Saying goodbye is hard. It’s bittersweet at best. When you know you are about to leave, it’s like putting on rose colored glasses. Everything is amazing again. It’s fresh, new. Just like it was the day you unpacked your dreams and the Uhaul. 

We still stand by our reasons for leaving Los Angeles behind, but I am thankful for these last days. They have given me the ability to remember all this city has to offer with clear eyes and an open heart. 

We put together an LA Bucket List of all we wanted to do, see, eat, and experience before we said goodbye. I have loved exploring and truly enjoying the beauty of the mountains, the ocean, the thriving and active city. I have found joy in being at work, spending time with my co-workers, sharing the magic of making movies with people from all over the world. I have cherished every moment with my beloved LA family – the laughter, the hugs, even the tears. 

The last days have solidified just how wonderful the past five years have been and how thankful I am for the chapter we are now closing. 

It’s too easy to forget what life can really be. I get caught up in routine, making in through the day, and just living life. We should all get to live like it’s the last days. Seeing more clearly, smiling bigger, loving harder, breathing it all in… 

Here’s to living in the last days. 

And let’s be honest… I’ll always be a California Girl. ❤

Speaks To Me Sunday #75

22 Jan

Oh, this is so important right now. 

We must have the courage to stand up for our beliefs. But we must also have the courage to listen to the beliefs of others. Communication is essential. Otherwise, we will always be divided.

It’s scary to put yourself out there, to be vocal about about your beliefs and convictions. Especially if they might not line up with the beliefs of people you love… so I am trying to have a little courage. 

I feel incredibly proud of the people I know that stood up for women’s rights at the Women’s March on Washington yesterday. I thought my heart might burst with how proud I felt seeing people gather all over the world to raise their voices together. It was completely peaceful, totally within our rights, and, from what I hear, full of love. 
And then I started to hear some dissent. And it crushed me a little bit… I tried to read and listen to why others opposed this march. What I kept running into was a lack of understanding. People literally not knowing what this march was all about, but opposing it nonetheless. So if you don’t know, here’s why we march…

Women’s March on Washington:

  • Feminism. Women’s rights are human rights. 
  • Ending violence and gender and racial inequality in the criminal justice system.
  • Reproductive rights, quality healthcare services, accurate sex education, safe and legal birth control and abortions.
  • LGTBQIA rights are human rights.
  • Worker’s Rights that work for women too. Equal pay, access to affordable childcare, sick days, healthcare, paid family leave, and healthy work environments.
  • Civil Rights, man! Voting rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability.
  • Disability Rights as Deaf women and women with disabilities should be fully included in American life, economy, and culture. 
  • Immigrant rights for the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 
  • Environmental Justice to protect our world because we have the right to clean water, clean air, and access to public lands. 

So, there you have it. Why we march. Can you read it and not see something that speaks to you? Even if you can’t get behind all of it… Can you honestly read through that list and disagree with ALL of it? If so… I honestly don’t understand. But I suppose that might also explain why we have ended up with President that I also don’t understand. We are not on the same page, we are not understanding each other. But it seems to me that we aren’t even trying. 

So, here I am… trying. I am trying to be courageous enough to share my beliefs with you. I hope you will have courage, dear heart, and share with me too. I will not shame you for speaking your mind or for having beliefs that are different than mine. I will listen to you with an open heart, and hope you will offer me the same courtesy. Maybe then we can build a bridge to reach each other. Maybe then we can move forward with courage and with love into a world we are all proud to call home. 

Too Long To-Do Lists (101 in 1001)

18 May

Anyone remember 101 in 1001?

It was a challenge to complete 101 specific and doable tasks in 1001 days. I hopped right on board when I read about it because I love a good list almost as much as I love crossing things off of it. So, I made this list of all lists… and I got excited about it! Then I forgot about it. Then I remembered and got a few things done. Then I spaced again. Then I conquered a few more things. Then it stressed me out. Then I just kind of let it go, sparing the occasional thought for my lonely list.

I was meant to have finished my 101 in 1001 last December. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t get to cross everything off everything on my list. At first I was disappointed. I felt like I should write a post about it (closure, ya know?), but I was embarrassed that I did not defeat this project. I hate to fail.

Well, I finally went back to look at this insane list, and I realized there were somethings I didn’t even care so much about… Did I actually want to do a Mud Run? Or keep reading Jane Austen novels after I found out I wasn’t a huge fan? Was I going to go back to writing articles for after three years? No! Now, to be fair, I did accomplish a lot of the things on my list! I signed with an agent, I got my passport and went to Europe, I did fun things with my husband, I got a cat… I got two! These have been wonderful moments and memories in my life. Not just things to cross off a list.

So, ultimately I realized… one GIANT list of things I want to do doesn’t work for me. It’s like too much going on in my brain. A short daily list of tasks to take care of works much better for me. The rest of it… traveling, events, family stuff, dreams, ideas… those things don’t belong on a to-do list. Those are for me to journal about at length, to share with loved ones,  to entrust to God, to build in my own time.

I might have “failed.” But it was the best thing that could have happened. I certainly learned a lot! Going back through the list, I got to reflect on all I’ve done for the last few years and truly feel proud. I found out that sometimes I assign myself tasks just to be busy – not because I actually want to do them. Or that our desires do change from year to year. I also got to feel a jolt of excitement about some things I still want to accomplish… writing a children’s book, working on our finances, sending thank you’s to important people in my life, taking a hot air balloon ride! There is so much life to be lived – especially when I’m not concentrating on crossing all of these spectacular moments off a list.

I’m posting my 101 in 1001 below for you to see! There’s a little commentary in red and asterisks by the items I found that were still important to me.


My 101 in 1001:

Act. (1-14)

  • Find representation  (Step 1: start looking) (Step 2: Theatrical Representation)
    • Signed with Element Talent Agency (Commerical Representation) 3/28/13
    • Signed with HTG Artists 11/22/13
    • Signed with Avalon Artists Group in March of 2015
  • Land a speaking role on TV or in a film… did this a few months later!
  • Be in a musical again (As I don’t have complete control over this — I will just do all I can to make it happen!) ***
  • Watch all of AFI’s top 100 movies… maybe not alllll of them.
  • Discover my “type” or “brand”
  • Research 20 actors (10/20) ***
  • Research 10 directors (10) ***
  • Research 10 writers (10) ***
  • Start studying at a studio
  • Take an improv class
  • Take a voice over class ***
  • Start/join a script reading group
  • Find 10 free acting workshops/classes and go to them (10/10)
  • Find 5 new monologues (2/5) … Or a whole bunch of awesome scenes. You need those more.

Create. (15-26)

  • Try something new thing each week for 3 months (Pinterest, DIY, recipe, work out, etc.) (12/12)
  • Blog about the new thing I tried (3/3)
  • Get back into music (learn to read it, take lessons, etc.)
  • Take an art class of some kind
  • Take a photography class (or have your friend teach you to be her assistant at a wedding!)
  • Learn to use Photoshop (quick lesson with Leah/using other apps too)
  • Make a T-shirt quilt
  • Write a children’s book/story ***
  • Come up with a solid idea for a YouTube channel (then decide if I want to create it)
  • Create some kind of art to hang above our bed  (We moved and were able to use our canvas wedding pictures)
  • Sew something using a pattern
  • Make 5 homemade gifts (cards) (5/5) (Changed to cards because I found it to be a better fit!)
Work It Out. (27-33)
  • Work out at least 3 times a week for 3 months (12/12 weeks)
  • Find a sport/physical activity I enjoy (outside of basic working out)  I accidentally began enjoying hiking!
  • Do that activity at least once a month for 6 months (6/6)
  • Work on flexibility with yoga  2 times a week for a month (8/8)
  • Take a dance class
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign (6/22/13)
  • Compete in a mud run… really? 
Learn. (34-39)
  • Learn 5 important things about politics (5) *** (I guess this would come in handy.)
  • Relearn all 50 state Capitals (that’s right)
  • Learn some new things about the decades of the 1900’s — Style, culture, events, people.  (00’s, 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s)
  • Pick 5 countries to research and learn about (5)
  • Pick 5 significant historical events to research and learn about (5)
  • Learn conversational Spanish… or a little French, instead!
Get It Done. (40-47)
  • Get my California license
  • Get a new passport
  • Create a workable budget and stick to it ***
  • Set up an IRA/retirement fund ***
  • Get a life insurance policy
  • Buy my domain name and make my blog my website ***and get an acting website!
  • Save up and purchase a headboard ***
  • Declutter and downsize household items

Positive Growth. (48-51)

  • Say 2 positive things for every negative comment for a week (7)
  • Quiet time/devotional every day for a month (30/30)
  • Memorize 30 verses (2/30) ***
  • Get a plant of some kind (3/14/13) and keep it alive for at least 3 months (3/3)

Food. (52-57)

  • Take a cooking class
  • Make a cake from scratch
  • Successful meal planning for a month
  • Find recipes for 5 healthy treats (5) ***
  • Make cookies from scratch
  • Grow something edible

Go Without. (58-62)

  • Don’t eat fast food for a month (30/30)
  • Go meatless 1 day a week for a month (1/5)… or not?
  • Don’t eat sweets for a month (18/30: made it 18 days and then took an impromptu vacation.) (Started over: 35/30)
  • Go a month without buying anything new (Check this out: Could You Go a Year Without Buying Anything New?) (31/30) January 2015
  • Get up by 8:00 AM for a month (30/30)


  • Travel to Europe (Anywhere really, but specifically: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Greece)
  • Go on a hot air balloon ride ***
  • Finish visiting all 50 states (Maine, Wisconsin) ***
  • Drive down the PCH to San Diego (6/30/13)
  • Save up for a real vacation (Maybe Hawaii? Or Europe trip?)
  • Go camping
Get Dolled Up. (69-73)
  • Learn more about fashion/style and my own preferences… think I got it.
  • Learn to braid my own hair
  • Add more colors and diverse styles to my wardrobe (10/10 items)
  • Try a new make-up look once a week for a month (5/5)
  • Try a new hairstyle once a week for a month (5/5)
Spread Love. (74-80)
  • Send out Christmas cards
  • Get involved in community service
  • Send 50 handwritten notes/letters (50/50)
  • Do 10 random acts of kindness for strangers (10) ***
  • Re-purpose or donate all unwanted clothing
  • Send 5 Thank You cards to people who have impacted my life (5) ***
  • Donate blood
Read and Write. (81-92)
  • Update my blog weekly
  • Keep up with my calendar journal for the rest of 2013
  • Read and review 1 book a month for 6 months (3/6)
  • Read at least 3 Jane Austen novels (2/3)… or find out you don’t actually like Jane Austen very much.
  • Write a letter to myself on my golden (26th) birthday to open in 10 years
  • Start/join a book club
  • Read 30 new books (30/30)
  • Write 25 articles in a week for… or find out you don’t want to.
  • Read at least 3 Shakespeare plays I’ve never read (3)
  • Read at least 5 screenplays (5)
  • Read at least 5 plays (5)
  • Answer the 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind
For Fun. (93-101)
  • Go to a live taping of something
  • Date my husband (50/50)
  • Try 10 new restaurants in L.A. (10/10)
  • Get a cat
  • See a movie at the El Capitan
  • Go to Rodeo Drive with my mom
  • Go to Neil Patrick Harris’ Haunted Play… why did it close?! 😦
  • Attend a movie premiere (Fast & Furious 6 on 5/21/13)
  • Create a new 101 in 1001… NAH!

Cheers to trying new things, failing big time, short to-do lists, and living beautiful, unplanned moments!


10 Mar

I did it. 

I chopped my hair off.   

  Okay, so it isn’t the first time. I got this fabulous bowl cut when I was in preschool. My best friend was a boy, and I wanted to look like him. I asked him to cut my hair, and, good buddy that he was, he complied. Our mothers cried, I’m sure I did too! It was a disaster. This might have been the first time that I got the idea that short hair was bad. Not pretty. After all, I got in trouble for cutting it. (Not that I blame you, Mom. ;))

I had short hair for quite a while after that, but it wasn’t long before I came to the realization that pretty girls had long hair. Boys liked girls with long hair. That was just how it worked. 

So, I grew out my hair. It was long and I felt pretty. 

Samson’s hair made him strong, my hair made me beautiful. Honestly, some days it felt like it was the only thing that did. For most of my life I have felt like my level of beauty was directly correlated with the length of my hair. So I hid behind it. I was just another girl with long hair. 

I remember moving to Los Angeles and having multiple people tell me I should cut it, it was too long. One acting teacher even said to me, “I don’t get your hair. It tells me nothing about you.” In my mind I was thinking, “doesn’t it tell you I’m pretty?” So I kept hiding. But I started noticing that I was hiding, and it didn’t feel good. 

Well, I have been shouting from the rooftops that I am brave… And this “situation” with my hair got to the point where I felt like I needed to prove it to myself. I needed to cut my hair.

This might not seem like a big deal, but it was huge for me. At this point, I had been a long-haired girl for more than a decade. It felt like it was a part of my identity, the thing that made me me. But I needed to prove to myself that my beauty didn’t come from my hair. I needed to prove to myself that beauty (physical beauty) wasn’t the most important thing in my life. So, I took the leap…

It’s been over a month now, and this draft has been sitting here waiting to be finished. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to write all of these feelings down. Part of me is embarrassed by being so attached to my hair, part of me knows there are other girls out there who feel the same way. Part of me is ashamed to admit that there have been days since I made the cut that I have felt less than beautiful because of it, part of me is super proud that I did something different and brave. 

Overall, I am enjoying this new look. I don’t know whether I will keep it short or let it grow again. I do know that I like both.  Mostly I am enjoying knowing that whether I have short hair or long hair… I am still me. 

Kat Tuohy Photography

Ooh La La Those Hackmans

16 Oct

The city of lights is one of the most delicious places I have ever been. The sights were breathtaking, the food was amazing, and the experience was truly inspiring. Here are just a few of my favorite things about Paris…

1. Our first full day in the city we hit Disneyland Paris. You all know how much the Hackmans love Disney so we were more than a little excited. Honestly, it was like being at Disneyland in an alternate universe. It was Disney, but a little different. We loved experiencing some of the changes. Dan’s favorite ride was Ratatouille – it was an amazing 3D ride where you say on what I have compared to a giant air hockey puck. The ride had no visible track and was so smooth! It blew our minds. I loved Phantom Manor – their version of the Haunted Mansion. It was so different from the ride in the states! There is this whole eerie storyline that was actually kind of scary. I loved getting to see a whole new version of my favorite ride. The people there were so nice, the lines weren’t very long, and the weather was perfect. Of course, it was a magical day.
2. Prior to our trip, my friend Ali passed on an epic list from a friend who had lived in Paris. This epic list was three places to find the most delicious desserts in the city. The best place for hot chocolate, the best place for crepes, and the best place for macaroons. I was all about this list so I made it my goal to get to all three. Well, mission accomplished. We enjoyed yummy macaroons of all flavors at the original Laduree, inhaled the most yummy crepes at Le Petit Josselin, and talked nonstop about the hot chocolate and dessert we experienced at Angelina. Yes, experienced. Food in France is an experience and I only want to eat there ever. Angelina was our favorite of the three. The dessert we had might have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I will dream about it from now on. 
3. The museums and historical building in Paris definitely have a spot on my list – the imposing towers of Notre Dame, the magnificence of Versailles, the eerie macabre of the Catacombs, commemorations like the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde, and the timeless art held in the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. Each one so singular and important to France’s history. Versailles was so interesting to me because most of the decor in the rooms was not original. They were replicas or pieces from that time, but not belonging to the royal family. This was so different than England where every piece has been painstakingly saved for centuries, but, of course, France’s history and monarchy took a much different turn than England. The French Revolution saw the upheaval of their monarchy and with it most of the items belonging to the royal family which would be priceless today. I was so fascinated by this! It was also pretty amazing to see the works of artists like Monet, van Gogh, Dali, and da Vinci. It was like an other worldly experience. I feel like this trip just rejuvenated my interest in history and art.

4. We had a ton of great recommendations from friends, but my favorite would have to be Le Refuge des Fondus. This tiny restaurant was just down the street from our flat in Montmarte. We were some of the first to arrive for their 7:00 PM opening. After hanging up our coats I was asked to step up on a chair so I could step over the table to the bench! Thank goodness I had been warned ahead of time. They seated us right next to the only other people in the restaurant so the four of us decided we should introduce ourselves if we were going to be having dinner together. They were a lovely couple visiting from London, and we all hit it off! We had an amazing time cooking our own steak and potatoes in the hot oil and drinking wine out of glass baby bottles (yes, baby bottles of wine!). The food was delicious and the company was even better. After dinner, we signed our names on some money to be put on the wall with all the others hanging in the restaurant. Then the four of us decided to set off in search of the Moulin Rouge. Once we found it we took a few photos in front and laughed at how absurdly expensive it was to get in. Then we jammed out to a band playing 90’s american rock at a bar next door. We finished the night with some hot chocolate and exchanging info so that we might see them again some day. It was so fun to make friends in a new place! You just never know where you will meet some awesome people. I can’t wait to go back to Le Refuge des Fondus!

 5. The Eiffel Tower is spectacular. We debated going up into it, but what we really wanted to see from a great height was the Eiffel Tower. We ended up across the city at the top of Montparnasse Tower – the tallest building in Paris. The top floor is 500 meters above the streets below with a fabulous panoramic view, and wow… Paris really is the city of lights. We drank champagne and watched the Eiffel Tower as is began to sparkle. It was stunning! Magical really. Of course, it helps when you have someone special to share it with. That moment will stay locked away in my heart for years to come.

 What an adventure it was! Overall, Paris ended up being so relaxing, so romantic. Everything about it made my heart sing. It’s taken me so long to write about our trip because that really means it’s over. For the last month I feel like I’ve still been gone. I suppose it’s time to get back to real life… and to planning our next trip. There is so much of this world I can’t wait to explore.


Blimey, It’s Those Hackmans

8 Oct

Let’s start with London because that’s where our trip began. We spent about eight days traversing across the city and even some areas a little further out. Their 60ish degree weather was freezing compared to 100 degree heat we had just left in Los Angeles, but my excitement (and big ol’ rain jacket) kept me warm enough to keep going. 😉 I feel like we hit the ground running as soon as we landed and didn’t stop. Here’s the highlight reel:

1. Warner Brothers Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter was everything I hoped for and more. Being a giant Harry Potter nerd, this was at the top of my to-do list. I am so happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. We spent six hours listening to every bit of our audio tours, watching every interview, reading every sign, and taking in each detail of the sets, costumes, and props on display. I loved learning new things that even surprised a super nerd like me. We got to walk through the Great Hall (hey tour guides, there is no ceiling!), board the Hogwarts Express, peek inside the Ministry of Magic, and doorbell ditch the Dursley’s on Privet Drive. Hermione’s Yule Ball dress was just as gorgeous in person. The details of each wand, small prop (Time Turner, Sorcerer’s Stone, Snitch), and paper product (Daily Prophet, school book, letters, Quibblers, and Marauder’s Map) was exquisite. They also had a really neat display on special effects – like Lupin’s trunk that actually opens up the drawers and shoot out books, shoes, etc. through mechanics – verses visual effects – like the CGI background during a Quidditch match. The tour also included a look at the giant miniature (I know) of Hogwarts. It was spectacular. The tour concludes in what look like Ollivander’s Wand Shop where they have wand box with the name of every single person involved in the eight films. What a legacy! I left feeling ridiculously happy and (if it’s possible) an even bigger fan.

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2. Westminster was one of my favorite places to go while we were in London. This is also where I had my first “Oh my. I’m in London!” moments. We got off the tube and I was looking down, putting my train ticket back in my bag as we walked up the stairs. We had reached the top by the time I looked up and I found myself staring at Saint Steven’s Tower and Big Ben. I can’t even describe what it felt like to finally see it in person. In Westminster we wandered beautiful gardens and watched part of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace – very cool. But my favorite part was Westminster Abbey. There is a place within the Abbey called the Cellarium where they serve a lovely afternoon tea. We really wanted to do a traditional English tea, and our friend Amanda recommended this spot so we knew we had to go. It was delightful! I am not much of a tea girl myself, but I drank an entire pot of peppermint tea while we ate tiny sandwiches, delicious bite-sized desserts, and yummy scones with jam and butter. It wasn’t just the food – it was the whole experience. I’m so glad we did it. We also loved exploring the Abbey itself. There is something so powerful about stepping into a building with a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. I could barely wrap my mind around it. The coronation chair is also on display – it is one of the oldest things in all of England. The building itself is stunning, and I really enjoyed learning about England’s Monarchy through our audio tour (these were everywhere – it was awesome). Many of the Monarchs are buried or memorialized there. It was also neat that they honor other important English figures like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Charles Dickens. I am so fascinated by their history and the way they have preserved it for so long.

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3. Tour Guides! Some of our best experiences were on guided tours at Windsor Castle, The Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Each guide we had was full of history, interesting information, and wit. Each location held fascinating stories waiting to be told. I’m so glad we got to listen to them. So thank you to Adam (Windsor), David (Tower of London), and Fi (The Globe) for bringing those stories to life and making our trip feel so special.


4. Being in the presence of Stonehenge is one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced in my 26 years. Seeing something with my eyes that was seen by people 4,500 years ago was mind-blowing. I just couldn’t get my brain around it. The stones were a beautiful sight, and I was fascinated by the audio guide details – both fact and speculation by historians. I liked the idea that it was built for God or ancestors… At that time wood structures were built for the living. Stone was reserved for something more important. It was also such a gorgeous day which made it even more perfect. On top if that, the food there was delicious. It was an excellent thing to experience on our last full day in England.

 5. On our final evening we did a final sprint around the city to see a few things we hadn’t made it to yet. We wandered through Hyde Park to find the Peter Pan statue, made our way to Trafalgar Square (which we had somehow missed earlier in the week) to take a picture with the lions, searched for Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street, and strolled down Portobello Road because when you love Disney as much we do you have to. We had a blast running around London and squeezing every last drop out of our experience.  

So, there you have it! Some of my favorite moments from one of my newfound favorite places. Thinking through all of them and reading bits of my travel journal just made me so happy. I am so thankful for this experience, and I can’t wait to see more of this beautiful world! Check back soon for my (again, much belated) post on Paris!

Oh Those Hackmans In Europe

30 Sep

Guys. I went to Europe! Dan and I had a completely wonderful time exploring and eating our way through both London and Paris. I have so many memories from this trip that I already know will be treasured for years to come. 

Since we got back people have been asking about our favorite parts of the trip. That is a tough question because truthfully the answer is all of it. I’ve been wanting to share a post about our adventures abroad, but I’ve had a hard time writing since we got back. It’s like if I write down “final thoughts” that means the vacation is over. I’m not crazy. I know we’ve been back for two weeks already, but I’m sad it’s over! The time has come to move on. My goal is to release a post about London and a post about Paris within the next week. I can’t wait to share a few really special moments and photos with all of you! Stay tuned, mes Amis!


Taking up space

5 Feb

I’ve had a theme running through my head for the last week or so…

Taking up space.

It really started on our flight to Pennsylvania last week. (I’ll share about the actual trip tomorrow in my Favorite Five Friday.) Whenever we fly together, I always take the middle seat because I am smaller than Dan. I fit better in the middle seat so it just seems smart for me to sit there. Not a problem. What we can’t help is the people who sit next to us. Well, on this particular flight a very nice man chose to sit in our row. He was awfully chatty, but kind. The gentleman was not a very large man, but he just filled the space. (And not just his space) You know? Spread out. Took room.

And I got smaller.

I pressed in on myself trying to be more compact. At one point in the flight his elbow was about halfway into my seat, and I was trying to just be fine with it. I was going to be Polly Pocket if I needed to be.

And then I wondered why. Why was I doing this? Why was I shrinking?! I paid for my seat on this plane, and I should get to fill it! So, I stopped. I stopped trying to compress myself and become invisible. I am a person. I matter. I get to take up space. I let myself relax into my body, into my seat. I turned my light on (you know – that inner glow that says, “I am here! You are allowed to see me.”) and became present… And you know what? That man gave me my space. (Side note: He was not trying to be rude. Honestly. I think some people are just used to taking up space. Others have spent so much time trying to slip through the cracks. I did not verbally ask him to move or physically move him. I just decided to take up space.)

This turned on a light bulb in my head about all the other areas of my life where I try to make myself smaller. I get so caught up in making other people comfortable (the curse of a people pleaser) that I can forget to take up room in my own life. Well, I am done. I am here. I am ready to start taking up space. I don’t mean being bigger than everyone else. I don’t mean being unkind. I don’t mean being self-important. I mean being myself even if others don’t like it. Sharing what I have to give with the world. Showing up for my life and living each day like I mean it.

We all have the ability, the right, and the responsibility. There is only one you. Please take up the space that is meant just for you. If you do, people are going to take notice and let you have it. You are a person. You matter. You get to take up space.

Dear 16 Year Old Me

25 Nov

Tomorrow I will have been 26 for a whole month.

It’s still in that weird phase where you have to think about it for a second when someone asks you how old you are. But I am trying to own it. I keep thinking about my birthday and the letter I wrote to my 36-year-old self. The advice, the dreams, the self-love I expressed in that handwritten note. I have a picture of who I want to be in ten years, and it gets clearer every day. All of that is built on who I am today. How I got here, who I have been. It made me start thinking about what I would have told myself ten years ago. There is so much I wish I would have known. What would I have said to my 16-year-old self to help her through those heartbreaking and ridiculously fun teenage years? It might have been something like this…

Dear 16 Year Old Me,

You are not too much. Don’t dim your shine because it makes other people uncomfortable. Keep being your loud, silly, emotional, empathetic, talented, joyful self. Lean into it. It is who you are. You are enough.

Not everyone is going to like you. That is okay!

Mean Girls is a hilarious movie. Real mean girls are not your friends. Don’t waste your time.

Pick your battles wisely. You don’t have to submerge yourself in the drama. You will save yourself a lot of heartache if you learn to listen and act with kindness.

You are funny. Don’t believe the people who don’t know you are.

Boys who won’t stand up and say they like you because you aren’t cool enough, pretty enough, popular enough are not nice. They just aren’t. And you can’t change them. Don’t give your heart away. They don’t deserve it anyway.

Always choose your friends. The friends who are by your side through good and bad. The friends who love you no matter what. Cherish them. They will be with you a long time.

Spend time with your family. There will come a time when you can’t see them every day.

I admire the way you fiercely stand up for those you love and the things you believe in. Love and believe in yourself enough to stand up for you. You are worth it.

Forgive those who have hurt you. Even if they don’t apologize. Carrying around that hurt and anger won’t change it. The only person it affects is you. Lose that list of wrongs that is weighing you down.

Use your words. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Tell people how you feel. Ask for what you want. Share your thoughts. Learning how to express yourself and communicate effectively is going to make everything so much simpler.

Never miss an opportunity to laugh! Smile. With your teeth.

Be proud of all you have accomplished. You have worked hard! You have something to offer. Carry that confidence with you.

Don’t be so afraid to color outside of the lines! Being perfect is boring. Get messy. Go on adventures. Have some fun!

Know that you are brave for choosing your own path. You are an explorer.

You are supported and loved. You always will be.

I might be a little biased, but I think you are extraordinary. I hope you can learn to love yourself as much as I love you.

All my love,

26 Year Old Me