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Speaks To Me Sunday #79

25 Jun

This past year of my life has been filled with change, growth, hard decisions, big feelings, and a deeper understanding of who I am and who I want to be.
In this time I have been desperate to write, to express my feelings, my thoughts… but I’ve found myself at a loss for words. What I have been feeling and experiencing is just so big. I’ve been sharing bits and pieces, but some of it I am still trying to find the language to describe. 

So, if you’re wondering where I’ve been… I’m still here. Taking my time, listening, and trying to put what’s in my heart into words. Because I do feel like it’s important to share. What are our experiences for if not to learn from, to share with others, to forge meaningful connections… so, when I’m ready, I’ll let you know. 

In the meantime, I feel like something new is coming. More change is happening. I’m not who I was yesterday, last year, or when I started this blog about five years ago. I’m embracing the woman I’ve become and excitedly anticipating whatever comes next. 

Speaks To Me Sunday #77

5 Mar

Fresh start, clean slate, blank canvas, next chapter, new beginnings.

It’s like inhaling a deep breath of relief and exhaling a world of possibilities. 

There certainly is something magical about beginnings, isn’t there? Anything can happen. The thought makes me completely giddy. 

I am at the start of a new beginning. It’s been full of excitement, heartache, relief, doubt, sureness, and joy. Mostly I just have a lot of feelings. 

Packing up and leaving Los Angeles behind was harder for me than I thought it would be. I created a life there, and I am incredibly proud of all I accomplished. I will forever treasure the relationships and experiences California brought me,  but LA didn’t end up being where I wanted to build my life, plant my roots.

Nashville has been calling my husband and me back for quite some time. We couldn’t keep ignoring the way this city tugged at our heartstrings. The possibility of continuing to follow our passion for acting in a thriving theatre community and the budding Southern film market was so appealing. Equally important was returning to loved ones, finding a church family to fellowship with, dreams of our own home and a growing family, and the desire to truly invest ourselves in the place we choose to call home. The possibilities are endless and exhilarating. 

So here we are. Back in Nashville at the start of something new, choosing to begin again. It’s been quite the journey, but I am ready. I am choosing to trust in the magic of beginnings. 

Hey y’all! We’re home. 

La La Land

11 Jan

Can I tell you a secret? 

I was avoiding going to see La La Land.

I know.

And not because I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. In fact, it’s totally my kind of movie. A musical starring two of my favorite actors – clearly a winner. But I was scared.

I was scared because I am getting ready to leave the real La La Land, and I thought it might hurt. A film that I’ve heard described as a love letter to LA. A film showcasing some of the most beautiful locations in Los Angeles. A film about aspiring artists, struggle in the City of Angels, creativity, hope, and finding your own way. A film that just might tug at the heart strings of a girl who tried to give La La Land her best. 

And I was right. It was beautiful, it was my kind of movie, and it broke my heart. 

I have to give it up for Damien Chazelle and the creators of this gorgeous film because they nailed it. They told my story. The story of every actor who came to LA with a dream – every interrupted audition, every draining day job, every frustrating minute stuck in traffic, every awkward moment trying to promote yourself, every rude question about what you are doing with your life, every ounce of doubt that makes you think “maybe I’m not good enough,” every YES that just might change your life. It’s exhausting! It’s exhilarating! It’s Los Angeles. 

And I’m leaving it behind. 

After almost five years, the allure of LA has dimmed, and I realized I was ready to move on. But then this movie ignited some of the old excitement. It made me question my choices. It made me wonder if I truly gave it all I had. Total gut punch. No one likes to question their decisions once they’ve already been made, right?

But I’ve been doing it – reassessing, going over all the options. Driving myself mad. But you know what? The same truths that brought me to the original decision to leave… they’re still true. I love the idea of LA. The real LA? It’s not the same thing. It’s easy to romanticize, sure. Like in a gorgeous movie musical that looks like a glorious dream sequence from one of the classics. (Good job, Mr. Chazelle.) But it’s not the reality, it’s not what it feels like day to day. Truthfully, I never fell in love with Los Angeles, the city. I loved things about it… good friends, the gorgeous view of the San Fernando Valley from Universal that will forever be etched in my mind, passing movie studios every day on my way to work… at a movie studio, new opportunities to explore all the time. There is a lot to enjoy. But it never really became my home. And as much as I love adventure, I also need home. I want both. 

So, we are closing this chapter. And it’s bittersweet. But just because I’m leaving LA doesn’t mean I am leaving my dreams here too. They have grown, expanded, shifted. Yes, I still want to be an actress. That will never change. But I want to get back to my roots – the stage. I want a fantastic theatre community where I can invest myself. A place where I might truly be able to impact people. I also know the Southern market for film and television is booming. Hollywood is not just in Hollywood anymore – not really. So, I can keep looking for my shot. Even more, I want to focus on relationships, family, community, and the things that were made so much more challenging in LA. Quality of life. I want to thrive instead just surviving. And Nashville feels like the perfect place to do it. How exciting! 

I might be leaving the City of Stars, but it will always be a part of me, a risk I’ll never regret taking. And maybe one day we will be back,  but for now I will just be thankful for the opportunities, experiences, and even grander capacity for dreaming that I found in La La Land. 

Favorite Five Friday (134th Edition)

29 Jan

How it is already Friday again?! Another busy, fun-filled week…


1. I really enjoy hiking, but I haven’t gotten to do much of that since we moved to Burbank. Well, little did I know, there’s a great little hike just a few minutes up the hill from us! I got to enjoy with with some buddies and an adorable pup. It was pretty fantastic, and I’ll definitely be going back.

2. It’s Oscar Season! We are working on another Oscar Musical starring all the Best Picture nominees. We were busy recording the fantastically catchy song this week. I can’t wait for you all to see it!

 3. I spent a good chunk of time this week working on a photobook with pictures from our trip to Europe. It made me so happy to relive all those memories. Thank goodness for photos! They really are so important. I can’t wait for the book to arrive! And now I have travel fever. I just want to go! We’ll see where we end up next. 🙂

4. My brother is getting married in a few short months. To an amazing woman! I was so excited to go order my bridesmaid dress this week. It’s becoming so real. I am so thrilled for Jer and Sabrina. I can’t wait to be a part of their big day.

5. It had been far too long, so Leah and I decided it was time for another magical photo shoot. I love that we can just wander into some random wooded-ish area, I put on some fun costumes, and Leah creates something unbelievable. I’m always impressed by her artistry. Look how magical! (Go see her stuff/two more photos in this series at

Happy Friday, y’all! 



Speaks To Me Sunday #16

5 Jul

This came off of an awesome list that I read some time ago. I can’t seem to find the whole list, but if I do, I will post it. Each item was fantastic, but this was what I needed at the time. It’s what I needed today. 

I didn’t write my Favorite Five Friday post last week because I felt unremarkable. Nothing very exciting happened. I went to work, I cleaned my apartment, I went to the store, I took care of my cats, I watched some TV with my husband. I did all the things that add up to a pretty normal life. But it’s my life. So I’m trying to remember that it’s remarkable to me. 

Every day has meaning. Even the ones where nothing out of the ordinary occurs. Those days are the foundation. It’s okay that each day is not fireworks. That doesn’t mean my life is not amazing. That doesn’t mean that I am unremarkable. Some days are just the basics. That’s what makes the great days so wonderful. 

That said, some days I need to choose the remarkable. It can be so easy to stay home on the couch with Netflix and skip out on plans with friends or a new adventure. There’s nothing wrong with that! Sometimes you need it. But nights spent with Netflix are a lot less memorable than hilarious moments with your pals or trying something new. There is always a choice. And we so need variety! 

Please remember how remarkable you are even on the days that don’t feel special at all. #SpeaksToMeSunday

Speaks To Me Sunday #7

26 Apr


I love you, Amy Poehler.

I feel like I am just starting this journey. Whether it’s saying sorry to someone who bumped into me or apologizing about feelings I’m having… My people pleasing has got to stop. My opinions, emotions, and thoughts matter. I know men can struggle with this too, but I feel like women are so prone to making apologies for things that are not their fault. 

(This article sums it up pretty well:

I’m done being sorry for taking up space, for chasing my dreams, for feeling so deeply, for trying to be my own person. Ladies, let’s stand up to “sorry.” 

What are you done being sorry for? Comment, tweet me, or post to Instagram (@JoannaHackman). #SpeaksToMeSunday 

Choose Your Own Adventure

21 Nov

I love adventure.  Being a part of new and exciting experiences. Challenging yourself and taking risks.  Truly and wonderfully living.

I am ridiculously infatuated with the idea of adventure.  I want to live my life adventurously, but sometimes the cautious, routine-loving woman who runs my brain makes me second guess myself.  It is up to my heart to kindly tell her to please keep her fears of failure and losing control to herself.  This is my life, and I am going to choose my own adventure!

I have recently been on multiple adventures with my new friend, Leah.  We haven’t known each other very long, but I have already learned quite a bit from her. I admire the gutsy way she takes on life… she already wrote a brilliant blog post about what an adventure it was to become friends. (She’s a fantastic writer! Check it out here: Friend Dating).

So, I am not going to get into that particular adventure, but I wanted to share some of the others we’ve had so far!

Trying to figure things out in a giant city can be pretty tricky (especially for the directionally challenged. Ahem…me).  I get scared to go out and do new things because I don’t want to get lost, get in an accident, go to far, do it by myself… the excuses go on and on.  The first thing Leah invited me to do with her was a fitness class. In a place I wasn’t familiar with. On trampolines.  I thought it sounded amazing, but I was a little nervous about it.  So many new things all at once… the uptight lady in my head was frowning in disapproval.  But I had to do it! I wanted to do it! I went for it…And it really was awesome!  New activity and new friend all in one night.

Since then we’ve been on a six-mile hike in Laurel Canyon, had a lunch date in a cute cafe,  and made our way to Griffith Park on a photography expedition.  Hanging out with Leah is always an adventure, and I am loving it.  She’s inspired me to take some new risks and be open to new adventures.  People, this is the kind of friend to have.

I cannot wait til our next adventure!  Until then… “Adventure is out there!”

Habit Overcome By Habit

2 Oct

Humans are creatures of habit. At least, I know this human is.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, I love to have a routine. I love to know what’s next.  (Yes, I know I have mentioned this before. I was being facetious.) I thrive on my habits. (But somewhere in my heart, brain, soul I know that’s not all there is to life. Which is why I think God gave me an affinity for the arts… so, I would have to deviate from my well planned path to do what my heart longs for most. So, I could know how many beautiful colors there are in life instead of just the one color I would continue to choose over and over). There are so many things that just seem to be a part of me that I do without thinking.  We create our habits by repetition… some good and some bad.

Over the last few years, I started evaluating myself and my life.  It hit me that I was going to be… gasp, that I was an adult. I had to make choices about who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in this one messy, beautiful life.  I realized there were truths about myself that I didn’t want to be true anymore.  Even more than that, I realized that it was within my control to change them.  I could get rid of these bad habits that I had cultivated. I once heard that habit is overcome by habit… I just had to make a choice. So, I chose to better myself so that I could live a longer, healthier life. I made choices so that I could be the best me possible.  A me that I (my harshest critic) could be proud of.  I wanted to share a few of the bad habits that I broke and the new habits that replaced them…

1.  My whole life I have been an avid nail biter.  It was just something that I did… when I was nervous, bored, breathing… all the time.  I always kind of hated it, but I just didn’t think I could do anything to stop myself.  I thought it was just my quirk.  Then my husband told me he thought it was disgusting. Yup.  And at first I was hurt and angry with him… Then, I realized that is was disgusting.  So, to spite him and to better myself I decided to stop biting my nails.  I had read somewhere that it took 21 days to create a new habit…  I planned to stop biting my nails for 21 days and see what happened.  Well, it worked.  I went 21 days. 31 days. 2 months. 6 months. And, ya know… I kind of just stopped thinking about it.  Guess what?  It’s been a YEAR since I was a nail biter. Now, I have beautiful, well taken care of nails.  I love to get a manicure and have my nails painted fun colors.  I never used to be able to do that because I would just ruin them, and when your nails look that bad who wants to draw attention to them with color too? Now, that is no longer a part of me. I love having great nails! And I love that I overcame that “disgusting” habit.

My pretty pink finger nails (In Meryl’s hand prints)!

2.  Coca-Cola. If you have known me at any point since about 2nd grade… you know that me and Coca-Cola… we were an item.  I became a Coke addict at such a young age that I just never really thought about how bad it was for me.  I drank at least one every single day, but more often than not, I drank more than that.  Family bought me Coke memorabilia as gifts. When I had a bad day, a friend would bring me a coke. People would just laugh when I would show up places and pull a Coke out of my purse.  It was my thing.  So great was my love affair with Coke, in high school I wrote a speech about it for debate and I won awards! I am not kidding!  Well, at some point in college I realized what a vice it was for me. I had caffeine headaches and I was throwing so much money away buying Coca-Cola. I decided to give it up for 30 days and go from there.  Well, I did it. Because I am stubborn.  Then I just went back to drinking it. I knew at that point how terrible it was for me, but I just couldn’t let go. Honestly, I was struggling with the fact that Coke and I had been an item for over ten years. Jo and her Coca-Cola… it was part who I was. Wasn’t it?  No. Coca-Cola did not and does not define me! This was probably the hardest habit I have ever broken, but I did it.  I gave up drinking Coke. I never intended for it to be a thing where I never drank soda, but guess what? I don’t. I haven’t had soda in a YEAR! Let me tell you, if I can do that… you can do anything. Seriously. Now, I have a love affair with water (and coffee…) And ya know… I don’t really miss Coke at all.

Me and Coca-Cola before our break up

3.  I don’t talk about this next one all that much.  Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of what I accomplished, but it’s tender.  I have struggled with my weight most of my life.  I was never really big, but I was uncomfortable.  I weighed more than a girl my height should, and I was unhappy about it.  I didn’t feel good in my skin.  My senior year I realized that I was about to be ejected out of my comfy college world into full on adulthood. The industry I have chosen is harsh, and I had to be honest with myself. If I ever wanted to be seen the way I wanted and cast in the roles I wanted… I had to make some serious changes.  I did research about food and fitness, and realized it was within my control to do this. I was the only person who could choose, and so I did.  I changed my eating habits, I worked hard, and I succeeded.  It’s been a year and a half  since I made these choices… in that time I have lost more than 30 pounds, countless inches, and several pants sizes.  I have gained knowledge, muscle, a love of physical activity, a healthier body, and more confidence. I am in the best shape of my life, but I am not done. I made a choice and promise to myself. I am going to choose a healthy lifestyle from now on.  That doesn’t mean I’ve given up chocolate or pizza… or that I work out every single day.  But it means that I am trying and I am doing my best so that I can be my best. My new lifestyle is my best habit change yet.

Then and Now

Well, there you have it. Out with the bad habits… in with the new and improved.  Here’s to creating habits that create a better you!

Birthday Bonanza!

22 Sep

I adore birthdays!  Any and all birthdays!  (Okay, yes… I do particularly love my birthday, but don’t most people?!) There is just something so exciting about celebrating such a special event.  The anniversary of the day you came into this world.  Commemorating another years worth of adventures.  Remembering all the moments that came before this one.  Breathing in the promise of a fresh new year.  It’s really an amazing and special thing.

This past week was seriously a Birthday Bonanza!  And I loved it.

First, let me tell you, every weekend at work we host birthday parties.  It’s always a super fun extravaganza.  Being a part of it is really neat.  We get to plan a fabulous party for the birthday child and all of their friends.  We do all kinds of things to make the birthday kid feel as special as they should.  It’s seriously awesome. This last weekend, I got the chance to teach my very first party! (In the past, I have only assisted).  It was a very big deal.  AND… the pressure was on… Not only was it my first time teaching, but it was also the kid’s very first birthday!  And not only was it the kid’s first birthday, but the kid was also my boss’s son!  And not only was my boss there, but also all of my co-workers!  And not only did my co-workers attend, but also many important people in the company.  YIKES.  Like I said, pressure.  I will admit I was definitely nervous, but I survived!!  The party was great! There may have been a few minor slip ups, but I was really proud of myself.  It actually turned out to be nice to have so many people there that are in the My Gym family.  Everyone was super helpful and supportive.  I really love my job. Plus, this particular one year old happens to be a favorite of mine so I am thrilled that I got to teach his birthday party.  It was quite the day!

On top of that, it was my amazingly wonderful Husband’s birthday last Monday!  We spent several days celebrating and having a great time.  We celebrated with his brother and a friend on Saturday… We had taco night (his favorite), a round of mini-golf (or as I like to call it, the fail-safe way to puncture my ego…haha), a movie (Best in Show), and ice cream cake (my first time making it)!  It was a very fun night. 🙂

The Fellas

Blowing out the candles on his ice cream cake!

On Monday, I got to take Dan out for a birthday date!  I had been trying to think of what to do for a few weeks, and came up with a neat idea.  We often  joke that Dan takes me out on lots of dates, but I never take him anywhere because he always drives and we usually use his card to pay.  I decided that I wanted to take him out!  I even kept it a secret because Dan loves surprises, but I’m not very good at them.  So, on his birthday I came home from work to pick him up for our date.  I drove the car (I hate driving) and didn’t clue him in on where we were going until we got there.  We got off the exit in Silver Lake and pulled up to 55 Degree Wine.  Once we got there, Dan had a pretty good guess. 🙂 55 Degree Wine looks like a normal liquor store, but they have an underground wine cellar that functions as a cozy restaurant and bar.  I chose 55 Degrees because they do both wine and beer tastings!  Something fun for both of us.  Naturally,  Dan did a beer tasting and I did a wine tasting.  We had the place to ourselves almost the entire evening!  It was so fun to do something out of the norm for us.  We will definitely be going back there.   And at the end of the evening, I even pulled out my card to pay. 😉  It was a perfect night!  (Okay, okay… so he drove home.)

Beer Tasting

Wine Tasting

Happy Birthday!

So, there is my Birthday Bonanza weekend.  It was a whirlwind few days, but so much fun!  Birthdays are always worth celebrating, and I hope I never forget that.

(In case you were wondering… there are 34 days until my birthday.)

The Queen of Hurry Up

12 Sep

These are some things I know about myself…

  • I am a perfectionist
  • I am a planner
  • I am detail-oriented
  • I want to do everything at once
  • I like to make goals
  • I like to be in the know
  • I like to start and finish tasks quickly
  • I like to cross things off my to do list
  • I am not always good at prioritizing
  • I am not always good at making decisions
  • I do not like to be unprepared
  • I do not like to wait

Yesterday was my day off, and I decided I wanted to get some things done.  I ended up back in bed with a headache because I could not focus on just one thing.  There were so many ideas, projects, thoughts, and things running through my mind that couldn’t decided where to start.  My brain was telling my body to do a million (okay, that might be an exaggeration… what can I say?  I am a fan of hyperbole.) different things at once, and I finally just had to stop and sit down for a little while.

How absurd is that?

I get so excited about making plans and new projects, and I love that.  But I am not usually good at focusing in on the baby steps to complete things. Typically, I just try to find the quickest way to get to the end. It seems like I am always in a hurry.  When did I forget to stop and smell the roses? When did taking my time become so difficult to do? When did I lose the ability to focus? Honestly, I think it’s a mix of things.  I really enjoy completing things.  There is a sense of accomplishment that I just live for.  I like to get things done. Maybe I am in a constant race with myself? I also love being in the know.  There are so many things I want to experience… when I read a book or start a new television show, I devour them.  I can hardly stop myself from spending all my time reading or watching because I just have to know what happens. Hurry up and finish!  Hurry up and get to the end!  Hurry up and go!  These things don’t always bother me, but after yesterday, I think I need to slow down.

Here is a brief look at some of my headache inducing project ideas from yesterday.

  • I am working on all things food.  New recipes, new foods, new ideas about clean eating, new recipe system, new meal plans, etc.
  • I am working on all things finance. New budget, new saving methods, new spending methods, new reading material, etc.
  • I am working on some DIY. New sewing projects, new crafts, new clothing ideas, new decorating ideas, etc.

These are all things I still want to work on, but I came to the realization that I can’t do them all in one day. Or probably one month.  Maybe even one year.  I love to make lists, but I think I am expecting too much of myself when I am too general.  I can’t just make a list that says things like: “clean, organize, budget, sew, recipes” and think I am going to do everything I am implying on that list in one day.  I need to prioritize, break it down into baby steps, be more specific, create reachable goals, and focus on ONE THING at a time.

My mom manages her time better than pretty much anyone I know.  She once gave me the idea of “6 Things.”  You make a realistic list of six things you are going to complete before the day is over.  This sounds like the perfect idea to get started on my new “What’s the rush?” plan. (That’s the official name. I just decided.) I can prioritize, manage my time, plan the steps, focus, and, most importantly, take my time.

I am also going to start working on my 101 in 1001 so I can make a great, long list of specific goals. I have so many things that I want to do, but I want to enjoy myself while I do them.  No more hurry up.

There is absolutely no reason why I need to rush through every minute of my life.  I need to stop and look around.  Be a part of what is happening. I am thrilled to be here so I think I better start acting like it. 🙂  Enjoy each moment… this is the time I have been given, and I am gonna take it! (Slowly of course) 😉