STAY TUNED…

 

“Don’t take much to be a dreamer; all you do is close your eyes.

 

But, some made up world is all you ever see.”  ~Jack Kelly; The Newsies

 

 

 

As I sat listening to the beautiful voice of Jeremy Jordan sing these lines during the finale of the Broadway version of Disney’s The Newsies (I was so stoked to finally get the chance to see it thanks to the limited time showing brought to select cinemas), a new and profound motivation rushed over me.  His words didn’t just hit home, they were an exact confirmation for me in this season of life…

 

I don’t want to just be a dreamer.

 

I realize that’s kind of my theme here at A “Dreamer’s” Inkwell, and that isn’t changing… I think having big dreams is a crucial part of making positive change.  The issue, however, lies in living so much in this romanticized place of dreaming, that we either get discontent in our present reality, or, we forget to put in the necessary hard work it takes to reach those dreams. 

 

My goal from the beginning of starting this blog over two years ago was to record my journey in the pursuit of my creative passions and to encourage others in theirs.  While that is still the essence, I’ve realized that I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years and grown in ways that I hadn’t expected, and with that, my dreams have also shifted slightly.  And you know what?  That’s totally okay!  However, it is not okay with me anymore that I haven’t been as disciplined or consistent with my posts as I would like, and I’m planning to do better!  It’s also not okay with me to just keep dreaming, but not taking the steps I need to take in order to see them come alive.

 

One of my goals for 2017 was “less talk, more action” and so far, I’ve already seen areas where this principal is going to make a world of difference if I can stick with it. 

So, with that being said… drum roll please… I would like to announce that coming soon to a screen near you (most likely glued to your palm in smart phone form) you will be able to access my new site!  I am so excited about everything that this year has in store, and I can’t wait to continue including you in my journey.  I’m also looking forward to sharing other people’s stories with you so we can all gain some outside perspective on what it really means to put action behind the dreams we’ve been harboring. 

 

STAY TUNED for the official launch of A Dreamer’s Inkwell …same title, same writer, just a new look and renewed enthusiasm!

 

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And of course – thank you, thank you, thank you a-billion-zillion times for following and helping me to achieve this dream of blogging in the first place.  You people are fabulous, and I can’t wait for you to join me as I keep my head in the clouds, feet on the ground, and continue to write it down!

A Hallmark Christmas on the Ohio

I don’t know if any of you are Hallmark Movie Channel addicts like my family and I, but especially at Christmas time, you can hardly keep us away from them.  Often, in these heartwarming films, the scripts feature quaint towns that have tight-knit communities that get together to sing carols or have Christmas tree lightings.  Although many think places like that don’t actually exist, I’m thankful that I know otherwise. 

Nestled in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio, and resting peacefully on the bank of the Ohio River, there is a small town that most would probably only stop in to get gas on their way to larger destinations.  Sometimes, however, these are the towns with the most to offer because it’s not all about the glitz and glam of the neon lights, but rather how brightly the hearts of everyone in the community shines through in everything they do.

And ok, ok… maybe how beautiful their Christmas light displays are too.

This Christmas season has been very eye-opening for me personally, so in a special recap post, I’d like to feature my hometown of Gallipolis, Ohio… it deserves to be seen as more than a pit stop.

I will admit I have gone through phases in the past of feeling that my dreams were just “too big” to be housed in such a small town or that there just wasn’t enough to do for my adventurous spirit.   I have since realized how very wrong I was.  I have discovered that there is something so special about being able to keep an open mind and explore new places, while still having a place to call home.  I understand that for certain aspirations, you do have to leave home in order to have certain opportunities available to you, but I also think that sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at your surroundings with a fresh perspective and appreciation. 

In recent years, many hardworking community members have had a hand in revitalizing our small French town, while still preserving its unique charm.  I, for one, am so thankful for all of these individuals who have had a hand in making me realize that “big dreams” aren’t just meant for big cities.  We need visionaries in every area in order to progress and see positive changes, and I truly hope to be someone that is a positive contribution to whatever community I am in.  The folks who have brought about these changes have made downtown Gallipolis the platform for some of my best holiday adventures thus far.

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The Gallipolis City Park being the mecca of Christmas cheer is lit up with hundreds of beautiful, multicolored lights at the end of November with an event that draws out current residents and attracts past community members back to town.  The team behind this new beloved tradition known as “Gallipolis in Lights” that has developed within the last few years deserves a huge round of applause for bringing out such a spirit of togetherness and wonder which is exactly how Christmastime should feel.  I have gotten to introduce friends from out of town to our beautiful area by strolling through this illuminated wonderland, eating Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream from Shake Shoppe, and then laughing about how cold we were for our deliciously silly decisions.  I have also witnessed families with young children or elderly couples being filled with such joy as they take time out of their busy schedules to just spend time together and sip on their hot chocolate from Pip and Hud’s (the frozen yogurt and gourmet popcorn shop across the street).

While the lights may be the center of attention in downtown Gallipolis during the holidays, there are still plenty of other family-friendly events and entertainment to enjoy; the Christmas parade or the French Art Colony Holiday Home Tour to name a couple.  However, as a lover of all things theatre, I have to focus on a couple of highlights that I particularly enjoyed this year: The Colony Club and The Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre. 

Both of these locations hold great historic value, and it’s so exciting seeing them being used to bring communities together for great entertainment. The Ariel building has been a member of Gallipolis since 1895, while The Colony Theater originally opened in 1937.  Age, of course, has brought about a few face lifts, which brings us back to the present day where you can go catch classic films or live music while eating dinner at The Colony Club.  I’m telling you right now, there is nothing quite like the feeling you get from sipping on coffee, being surrounded by beautiful brick walls and large antique tapestries, and watching George in “It’s a Wonderful Life” utter “I want to live again” in black and white with friends on the night before Christmas Eve.  It’s nostalgic and current all at the same time.  (Side note: The Colony also may possibly have the best seasoned, loaded fries I’ve ever had!)

After you’re done eating, you can conveniently slide a couple doors down from the Colony and enter in to the double doors of The Ariel prepared to be wowed, not only by the decorations, but by the level of talent in the room from the incredible musicians in The Ohio Valley Symphony.  My mom and I had the chance to go this year, and by the end of the night, we were both baffled that we had never taken the opportunity to see any of their performances prior to this year’s Christmas show.  I can pretty much guarantee, it won’t be my last.  This showcase was yet another reminder of people who are working hard to bring quality opportunities to our region of Appalachia. 

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One of my favorite parts of the evening at the symphony, besides the violins, was getting to make friends with the lady who sat in my row.  She didn’t seem to speak very much English, but if her joy in feeling the music wasn’t enough communication already, she also proceeded to take off her scarf and give it to me after I complimented it; She wouldn’t take no for an answer, as she continued to push it toward me, saying only, “for you.” 

Wow.  The heart of Christmas showcased in just two words.

Gallipolis is a town full of stories like these.  Moments that may seem small to some, but they’re the ones that matter because they remind you that you’re not alone.  It’s a town where you can run into family friends that you’ve known since birth and make new ones all in one night.  It’s a place that is both classy and down to earth all wrapped up in a riverfront package and stamped with a Fleur-de-lis.  It’s a praying town that joins together when someone’s child is sick or when the man who has played Santa for as long as I can remember is in the hospital.  It’s a supportive community that encourages greatness in all of its forms.

It’s my home, and I deem it “Hallmark”-worthy.  

To my followers here at the Inkwell, I’m aware that this is not my typical post, but I think it’s an important one.  In a society of constant upgrades and rushing around to get the next best thing, it’s easy to get caught in a “grass is always greener on the other side” mentality.  I know because I’ve been there.  I think it’s crucial to try to take a few moments every day to just look around and be thankful for what you have been given, especially at this time of year that at its very core is based upon the love that has been given to us by Christ. 

I guess, in a way, this post is my way of taking stock of how blessed I feel to have grown up in a place like this, with such loving people, but also to encourage any of you that are ever passing through Ohio (especially at Christmas) to swing by Gallipolis and see for yourself how special it is.

The Age of Not Believing

There is a reason I fell in love with stories when I was young.  Specifically, there seemed to be a common thread between all of my favorites that kept me coming back for more… Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Lion King, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more.  That thread was an unbreakable, iridescent piece of wonder and courage that fueled my imagination and made me believe that absolutely anything was possible.

 

It was possible to rise from the ashes of defeat and overcome my fears.

It was possible to discover new lands and have countless adventures.

It was possible to be a warrior one day and still a girly girl the next.

 

While I continued to surround myself with these beloved tales growing up, somewhere along life’s road, I unknowingly crossed back over Terabithia’s bridge and found myself smack dab in the middle of adolescence and adulthood.  As the wars of self-doubt raged inside of me, I slowly began slipping into the age of not believing.  I may never have admitted that to myself, as I am the constant source of encouragement for those around me…but when it comes to my own dreams, sometimes all I can see are brick walls and stumbling blocks.  I don’t know about you, but I seem to be the best at coming up with lists of “cant’s” and “wont’s” for myself, even if those lists are subconscious.

 

When did I stop believing that I could slay my Jabberwocky?

When did I forget that imagination can create new solutions to age-old dilemmas?

When did my lack of faith in myself begin reflecting on my belief in what God can do through me?

 

So, for all the doubters, non-believers, and grown-ups who sometimes have these moments like me, here’s some inspiration for the rest of your week:

Maybe you can’t.  BUT, GOD ALWAYS CAN!

It’s time that we stop sitting around trying to figure out all the ways that we can force everything to happen on our own, and then getting upset when we fail.  Instead, it’s time that we start embracing and believing in how big the God we serve really is, and all that he can do through us.  It’s time that we begin letting that thread of wonder and courage that our favorite characters from childhood weaved inside our hearts be tethered to the One who created and holds our hearts.

With our eyes focused on His strength and not our weaknesses this week friends, let’s dream big.  Work on your novel, perform your heart out on stage, teach a classroom of little ears with new determination…whatever it may be, let’s just be more like Alice and start believing “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

And above all, let’s give God the glory for allowing us to believe like a child once again!

 

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For the Love of a Tree

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Let all you do be done in love. ~1 Corinthians 16:14

 

There is a very tall tree in my front yard.

As a female of above average height, normally, I am quite fond of anything in which I get the chance to look up because it gives me the rare opportunity to feel small and cute; however, this extra gangly tree is simply not my typical idea of beauty.  It’s not the magical home of fairy tea parties as one could easily picture happening under the graceful boughs of a Weeping Willow.  It’s not a majestic Sequoia known for being the Rocky Balboa of plants with its mighty strength and determination.  It’s not vibrant, and it doesn’t have thousands of tourists to come watch its yearly showcase like the talented Cherry Blossoms.

No, this particular tree is messy.  It is not one lively shade of green, and the irregular size of its limbs is not aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Yet, today, I could not stop staring at this mysterious growing wonder in my front yard.

In fact, today I realized, I want to be exactly like this tree.

Now, at this point, you’re probably wondering why, of all the gorgeous creations God placed in this world, would I want to emulate this ugly tree that seems so lacking.  While at first, all I could see were its physical imperfections, I ended up noticing that this tree is sturdy.  It’s been there for as long as I can remember, and its great height can only be due to a solid foundation.  At the top, where often the leaves of a tree fan out in a beautiful display, this one has decided to point directly up towards the sky with no effort of disguising its intentions.  Its limbs, while of different sizes, are all pointing straight out to the left and right and slanting slightly upward.

Why does any of this matter?

Because, in a world of uncertain times, I want my hope and foundation to be planted deeply and firmly in the truth of Christ’s sacrifice and my eyes actively looking up to seek God’s direction.  And, in a world in which hatred has become such a common language, I want my arms to be constantly reaching out and pointing up, loving others because He first loved me (1 John 4:19).

Love isn’t always easy; it may not seem to be blooming like a Cherry Blossom or flowing like a Willow.  Sometimes, love is messy and unorganized like this tree in my front yard.  Sometimes, we have to reach out to people in their despair and plant ourselves firmly there as a beacon of light and hope regardless of our comfort zones or personal appearances.  Sometimes, we have to stop watching TV long enough to help an elderly neighbor find something she lost or lend a listening ear while sitting on the front porch with a friend (a special thanks to my grandparents and parents for showing me what this looks like).  Sometimes, we have to set aside differing opinions long enough to have a real conversation or help someone in need.  Let’s love each other today, people!

I was wrong… this tree is beautiful; I want that kind of beauty.

This is My Path

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This is my path… I’m sorry I’ve been trying to walk yours.

“There’s a difference in getting a degree and getting an education – there are all sorts of ways to get an education.” ~Kait Ramirez

 These wise words were spoken by my friend Kait as we conversed about the constant pressure that is placed on people to make the right choices, and the constant (yet usually uninvited) input others enjoy offering along the way.  The truth is that no two lives are ever going to be lived exactly the same way.  So, why do we feel the need to constantly compare ourselves, or make someone else feel they need to make the same choices we’ve made?  That mentality is ruining our lives because there is no way to truly enjoy any decision we’re making if we’re constantly under pressure to prove something.

If you’ve been following me for very long, you know that I’ve touched on this subject in other posts (For example Broadcasting the Bloopers) but it has been that large of a stumbling block in my path (and I know for sure I’m not the only one) that I felt it was worth hitting on it again, except with some new points that I’m learning along the way.

Kait is right. I needed to hear those words that day, because as someone who has always loved school and excelled more in that area than in sports or anything, not having finished a degree at this point in my life has made me have really low self-esteem at times.  BUT WHY!?  For the things I really love to do, I don’t need a degree, so any job to support myself while pursuing my dreams should be good enough!  Isn’t that better than being a hundred thousand dollars in debt just to prove to them that I did something with my life? WHO ARE THEY ANYWAY?  So, my point in this is… If you need a degree for the job you want, and you finish school and get that dream gig… then awesome!  I’m so proud of you!  If, you realize that school is too expensive and that you’ll be just as happy pursuing your dreams while also waiting tables or cleaning toilets to support yourself… then awesome! I’m so proud of you!  Both paths require hard work and discipline, and neither path makes you better than the other person because…

Your career does not define you.  Your character does!

You truly can get an education in so many different ways other than just through paying for college.  If finances have been a struggle for you and school isn’t working out right now, as in my case, please don’t waste time feeling bad about yourself.  Or, even if you’re currently in school or graduated, there’s always more to learn so you can keep growing.  Whether it’s through reading, traveling, listening to others, or whatever outlet is working for you, get an education through learning to appreciate the things in your own path instead of trying to walk someone else’s.  Life isn’t just one cookie-cutter path for every person, thank the Lord! That would be so boring…God created us all for different purposes, and instead of trying to fit into someone else’s shape or trying to change them to fit ours, we should be celebrating the fact that we all get to experience life through unique eyes and with different passions all for one greater purpose (See 1 Corinthians 12:12).

Let’s stop feeling guilty.  Stop judging.  Stop being prideful.

Instead, let’s be kind.  Be compassionate.  Have integrity.

Be who God is calling you to be, walk your own path – and be unashamed!

Summer With Sondheim

As the girl in the rags received her applause, she realized something very important…

Cinderella never needed a prince, she just needed confidence.

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Hello friends, I am back at the keys today typing out a post that has been marinating in my mind for at least a month, but I just couldn’t seem to get dinner on the plate, if you know what I mean.  I will just start by telling you the reason for this delay… Stephen Sondheim.  After being cast as Cinderella in a local production of Into the Woods, I became extremely familiar with the name of this man who would be terrorizing me with crazy high notes and intimidating timing for three months straight.  Sondheim is extremely talented, but his work is challenging, especially for a self-conscious girl who auditioned for a step-sister and for the first time in her life, landed a lead instead.

So, I wanted to share a few of the things that I learned in my summer with Sondheim:

  1. Don’t Say ‘Can’t’

We are all guilty of this at some point in our lives.  We except limitations that other people or our own fears place upon us, without even trying to see if we can push past them.  For example, I have been classified as an Alto in every choir I’ve been in, so in my mind, I probably can’t really hit high notes very well.  I also have never been very rhythmical, so timing has never been my specialty.  To top things off, I have never been good at auditioning, and I have had crippling stage fright when it comes to singing in front of people (it’s funny how that affects me so differently from acting).  Despite all of these negative mindsets, with an abundance of prayer and discipline, I was able to survive the audition and all of the rehearsals and performances singing in front of people, I expanded my range in order to hit some of the notes required by my character, and I worked so hard on my timing that by the end of the show some of the other cast members actually told me that they relied on me to know when to come in!  Now, I don’t say absolutely any of this to brag on myself, but truly to brag on God for giving me courage and for teaching me that through Christ (Philippians 4:13) and discipline (Hebrews 12:11) we can accomplish more than we ever imagined.  Just remember, that small progress is still progress, sometimes it feels like you can’t possibly reach your goals, but tiny bricks build large buildings – so don’t give up!

  1. Be the Change You Wish to See (Gandhi)

Doing a stint with a show in any degree, whether it’s high school, church, community, or professional, you work so closely with people for that amount of time that they become what’s known as your “theatre family.”  It’s something that I find amazing every time; that these people can literally be complete strangers to me on the first read through of a script, but by the last curtain call, I feel as though they were always meant to be in my life.  You laugh about your mistakes together, learn new skills together, eat loads of unhealthy foods together, etc.  But like with any family, that much time spent together on top of a lot of stress and lack of sleep can cause tensions to run high at times.  I’ve heard it said that performers are also the most insecure people you will ever meet, and often this is hidden behind false confidence but appears in criticizing others.  I have unfortunately seen a lot of back-biting and catty conversations in my many years working with different areas of theatre, but I have also seen extreme amounts of love, passion, and encouragement.  I don’t think I could’ve survived this show without those positive things from other cast mates this time.  I came in the rookie with a lot less experience than many of the other cast members, and instead of them pointing up their nose and watching me fail, I had so many of them encouraging me and giving me compliments that gave me the confidence boost I needed.  With that being said, no matter what field you’re in, or who you’re around, you can be that boost to someone else – instead of being critical, give them that much needed compliment today.

  1. There is Joy in the Journey

This opportunity was not what I expected, but I’m so glad I was able to partake in it, even for a small amount of time.  Sometimes, especially in America, we think we have to plan our lives so strictly and rush around in order to truly “get to the top” or “be a success” and then we can enjoy our lives, but what we don’t realize is that along the way, we’re actually missing out on our lives.  We must strive to find the beauty in every day, be willing to take detours, and accept God’s good gifts to us!

 

Now as summer turns to autumn, I send away my Sondheim script with a hearty thank you for all the lessons learned, as well as, a sigh of relief for getting to catch up on some much needed rest!

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“Let the moment go, don’t forget it for a moment though!”

Behind the Scenes: Take One

Happy July 1st everyone!  With the clean page that is the start of a new month, it seemed like as good a day as any to finally update you on the progress of my spoken word short films that I mentioned in my February post, Location, Location, Location.  While filming did not begin in the spring like we had originally intended, my friend, Adam Johnson, and I finally got the bulk of the footage completed for the first video entitled, What Have I Done?  So, I’m here to give you a behind the scenes look, while the project heads into post-production.

What Have I Done is a poem that I wrote around three years ago; up until that point, I had written plenty of poetry, but never one intended to be a spoken word.  The first in my repertoire of its kind, this poem holds a very special place in my heart; I didn’t know it at the time, but this piece opened up a very specific outlet for me to be able to combine my passion for writing and theatre, while still sharing messages that are based on my personal experiences.  I have had the vision concept behind this video for so long, that it is hard to believe I’m finally seeing it come to fruition, and I can’t begin to tell you how stoked I am to share it with all of you!  For now though, all that I can let out of the bag are some images of the process and some lessons that I’m learning along the way.

 

Lesson #1: The Show Must Go On

Pretty much everyone has heard this phrase, but it especially strikes a chord in those that have had experience with live theatre. People forget lines, entrances get missed, buttons pop-off…but no matter what happens, you have to give the audience the performance they deserve!  With filming, these issues aren’t exactly the same due to retakes and editing, but to a certain extent this same phrase applies; you can’t always choose your conditions and circumstances, but you have to make the best of the situation.

In this particular instance, that means attempting to give a truthful performance while wearing all black on what felt like the hottest day of the year so far… I was dripping, people!  Not to mention, I have issues with being up close and personal with birds (Rooster attacks can emotionally scar a person, ok?), and the building in which we were filming just so happens to be the current home of several flocks who probably didn’t enjoy me trespassing.  But, sometimes we have to let go of our romanticized ideas of perfection, and…

Despite everything going on around you, when you believe in what you’re doing…

the show must go on!

 

 

Lesson #2: Film is Like a Jigsaw Puzzle

I have always loved films…seriously, to the point where my friends know not to let me go near the five dollar movie bins or I’m doomed!   However, a love of watching movies, and even a love of acting, cannot fully prepare you for the great undertaking that IS film.  I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to experience both stage and film because it has truly given me a chance to respect the challenges that arise in both types of performances.

Some may think that film actors have it easier because if they mess up, the mistakes can just be placed on the blooper reel and the shot gets done over again.  While there can be more chances to get the take right, it can actually be quite difficult to deliver the same lines over and over again, while attempting to have the same intensity and honesty every time.  In my very first short-film experience, I had maybe two actual lines, and I was there for at least an hour and a half; similarly, for this video, we were on location for around four hours for what will probably be about a five to ten minute finished product.  You have to be patient with the process even if it’s tedious at times, because film really is like putting together a puzzle… the finished product must have each of these smaller pieces to look as beautiful as it can; every new angle, the specific lighting techniques, the transitions, and of course music, all play very important roles.

 

Lesson #3: Be Inspired by Others

If you don’t feel that any of the other lessons apply to you, please at least hang on to this one…

Your dreams are important…so are theirs!

Who are they?  You know – the people around you who seem to keep showing up as your best support systems, or the friends that have been in your life for years, or maybe just the passionate people you meet along the way…most likely, they all have dreams too.  Listen to them, be inspired by them, and maybe just maybe, ask them to join you!  I used to think that my art was better kept to myself, although something inside wanted to share it, I guess I was embarrassed and I also thought people wouldn’t understand.  Not everyone will, but that’s okay, because it’s those that do who end up changing how you see things too.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  We can only learn so much on our own.

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Adam hard at work setting up equipment… while I meander around and take pictures.

 

I for one could not have done any of this without Adam.  I was lucky enough to know someone who has an eye for film and who isn’t afraid to passionately pursue things that are outside of society’s box.  We have been able to bounce ideas back and forth, and I’ve been able to indulge in gaining knowledge in fields other than my own areas of expertise.  For all of this, I am truly thankful.

I’m also excited to announce that I have some other talented friends who will be featured in either this video or the upcoming ones, so stay tuned! And, don’t forget…

Let people in, don’t give up, and let your dreams grow wings!