Monday, October 22, 2012

I hate Tumblr

Monday 5pm rant: I hate Tumblr.  There is NO order to any of the Tumblr blogs I've ever stumbled across (if that's were they call themselves) and 90% of the time, no real credit given for photos (that reblogged business is BS - AND it looks atrocious when you scroll and scroll and "reblogged by______" takes up 80% of the page).  When little hipster faces smile at me from About, I want to smack them for posting and not giving a shit.  It drives me MAD.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Trying to clear my head at the moment...just get in it, get out of it, and everything in between.  Conferences, while often anticipated for the travel, the change of pace, and the promise of face time with my colleagues, does indeed bring a crash.  I remember my first APAP and the crash that followed.  It was like the day after Christmas.  Many moons have passed since then but I still experience it.  I was cranky last week, no doubt just trying to get caught up on sleep and tie up loose ends before the next trip.  Midwest was terrific - easier, busier, great meetings, a great session, meaningful connections.  I felt for a moment, brilliant.  And PAE was...well, when I get out my own head and get perspective, even a better sense of space and time, it was decent.  Especially given that I didn't know any southerners.  I made a lot of new connections and that does matter in the long run. 

It's hard to not compare the two conferences.  Each has its own mission and values and personalities.  Hard to not compare my experiences at one versus another.  They were both decent in their own way.  I long for consistency and pay off.  I suppose it will eventually happen. 

It's also hard (for me) to not always be thinking, what's next?  What is the next goal to achieve?  It's hard to be in the moment.  Be content and appreciative and grateful of this time and this experience.  That overachieving side of me is one of my greatest strengths but also a weakness since it can eat away at a sense of worth.  It's easy to let myself be defined by a series of achievements and met goals.  I'm remembering a TED talk about how it's important (and often enough at times) to just show up.  To show up, bring our best, put the time in and do it.  Not every day is magic or brilliant. 

Not every conference or meeting or moment is awesome and most probably won't be.
Not every piece of art I create is stellar or needs to be stellar.
So accepting that and being OK with showing up and creating for the sake of creating...that's enough.  And in the world of conferencing and artist representation, I need to find a way to be OK with the mundane. I suspect these two are related.  If I can get back to some things that I've missed for some time, namely creating some art, I think I will find an inner peace that will allow me to feel like the hard and smart work of each day is enough, and will in time, allow for another moment of brilliance. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some people are just moody souls sometimes and the other night at the opening party my mentor was in a mood. I let it go and did my own thing. My last words to my roommate before nodding off to slumber were, "I hope he doesn't come to my session tomorrow."

The thing is some teeny part of me thought he probably considered it. But truthfully, he doesn't attend keynotes or sessions or any of that so I never expected him to show up. At 8:05, maybe 30 seconds after I started my presentation, he walked through the door. Amazement and panic hit me in the face. I couldn't stop, I had to keep going, but it tripped me up for a few minutes. Eventually I had to not think about him being in the room and my nervous thoughts that I was "on" and was I doing a good enough job? Was I measuring up? It's easier for me to talk for 90 minutes to a group of strangers versus to one person I know. And not just know but respect and admire and whose integrity and business ethic and smarts are what I strive for as well.

Way to make me nervous.

I never looked over his way the entire time. Somehow I got through it and it was near 9:30am and as I was wrapping up he offered some additional insights to our audience. It was over, I was done, I packed up and finally breathed and took in the fact that I just led my first ever professional development session at a regional. I did it. It was tough but I did it and it was rewarding.

I fired off a text message that was - I cannot believe you came. I couldn't even look at you. Way to make me nervous. To which he replied, Sorry. You were great. I wanted to hear it.

I spent the better part of that morning "on" in the booth and decompressing and digesting. I immediately felt like he set out to make me crash the session if you will. But slowly, I realized that wasn't the case. Let's just say building confidence as an entrepreneur is tough, even for otherwise independent confident people. I'd been fighting to find myself - both old and new versions of me. I had been realizing since November just how much BS was in my head and how easy it is to get caught up in old patterns of thinking. Thinking that people are out to make me feel nervous, "on" and to be perfect all the time so as to impress and prove myself. Something, I don't know what, got a hold of me and shook me to my senses. It's enough to show up and do what we do. It was enough to show up, in Grand Rapids, be my great self, bring my knowledge, and be part of something bigger. And people come because they care - about me. Isn't that why I go? Even when I know the material? It's for moral support. Finally, I gave myself permission to accept that I was enough and I was worthy of that. That maybe I had shown the gorgeous genius that I am and continue to be.

I circled back with a very sincere thank you...thank you for coming. It was great to have you there. So many compliments on the session, on my knowledge and on "that guy at the end" who had really thoughtful insights. He was there for me. He had my back.

This conference was the final nail in that old thinking's coffin. I realize how much support I have. Real, genuine, I believe in you and have your back, support. It's not always spoken by our colleagues and mentors but it's there. I'm liberated and very blessed.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On My Shoulders

We were talking about big long term plans and he had asked if I'd stay in our current house and I confided how I wanted to I'd been ready to move for 2-3 years now but given the turn of events from 2009 to present day, it doesn't allow for it.  I gave him the Reader Digest version of it all and summed it up with how I feel like it's my fault things aren't progressing.  And he stared me straight in the eye and said - That's a whole lot of responsibility to put on your shoulders.  You should try to take some of that off.

I felt vulnerable in that I suddenly realized I'd said too much.  And why do I always offer so much?  On the way home I thought of other specific questions I'd had and forgot to ask.  Damn.  But then thought - that wasn't what it was about.  Sure, he's a great sounding board for business tactics and planning but he plays another role too. 

He's always telling me to not be so hard on myself.

I'm always conflicted after these conversations. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Long Island

Last week Mitch and I took a mini road trip to Long Island to see the Treehouse Shakers perform in Huntington.  I had booked Coyote's Dance with Huntington Arts Council on their outdoor stage in Heckscher Park (part of the Summer Arts Festival, Family Series) and it would be a twilight show and gorgeous.  While I'd been to Nassau over the years, I hadn't been back to Suffolk in eleven years and I was excited to make this less about work travel and more about fun -- beaches, seeing the hold sights, etc.  I loved not having to be "on" but just exploring again.

Once one gets past the crappy Belt Parkway traffic (past Kennedy airport) and well into Nassau County, it's so beautiful on the island.  We arrived and checked in at our "day in" only to quickly realize it was a real dive (as in, pay by the hour, trucker stop, enter room from the outside, smokey/dingy, something out an after school special hide out place).  It reminded me of that horrid little place in Parsippany from years back and now with a 4 year old in tow, I could not in sound judgement stay.  L.I. - for being home to many a swank New Yorker's home or vacation home - has its fair share of lodges and motels and even on a budget, I really wouldn't recommend one stay at one of the "lodges."  As my good friend and I joked, avoid anything with "Sleep" and "Roadway" in it as well.  Fork over the dough and get something nice.  It makes all the difference in the world.

A few calls and a dinner later, we were checked into the fabulous Long Island Sheraton in my old hometown and my bad motel experience was behind us with a credit back to my account.  Funny how things work out.  I feel like we were destined to be in Smithtown for most of our stay.

Sunset over Smithtown

I spent a lot of time just driving....driving around, driving to get lost, driving to find.  Find my old house, my old school, a beach, a park, the diner, and just to see how things changed and how they stayed the same.  Driving to reminisce and tell "when I was a kid" stories to my son.  We found our way to Sunken Meadow State Park on the north shore, complete with a big kids' jungle gym area, a beach, bath houses, mini boardwalk, snack stand, and a glorious albeit rocky shoreline.  We had glorious weather the entire three days and that Tuesday July 10, it was a sunny 79 degrees on the beach.  We didn't have all our beach toys but we still enjoyed the time to just sit and be.  To look out and see CT across the take in the beauty of the coast.

My old house -- Village of the Branch, Smithtown, NY (top) and the Post Office (bottom)

I loved seeing my old house (and the swing set in the backyard) and amazed at how many stories and memories I could recount with such clarity and enthusiasm to my child.  I loved that Mitch wanted me to show him all around, show him my old ____.

I had an existential moment over fro yo that Tuesday wondering what if...what if we had stayed?  What would have happened?  Who would I have been?  Who would my friends have been?  I'm sitting here with my son in 2012, twenty-six years after we left Smithtown.  He might not even be here, at least not in this way, had we stayed.

Sunken Meadow State Park (view of the beach umbrellas that dotted the sky on the mini boardwalk; view of the beach and Long Island Sound; my son a little "meh" over the stone beach)

It was too deep and philosophical for me in that moment, over Red Mango fro yo.

Somedays I miss NY in ways I cannot describe.  I may not even be able to articulate it well here. It's not about wishing something had played out differently, wishing we had stayed, wishing I was a true New Yorker.  It's a different sort of miss, of longing.  It's something that maybe only someone with as much wanderlust would understand.  It explains why, when I return, to the city or the island, I feel immediately like I belong.  Like I could live this NY life.  It's rooted in a love of and need to travel/explore/immerse and appreciation of one's personal history.  That despite the family hardships of that time, it really was a terrific town and for me, at that time (aged 6-9), it was formative and impressionable.  A lot of wonderful memories there.  Most of all, I'm grateful for that wanderlust that brings me back to enjoy every ounce of what that island offers.  Grateful I can now share it with my little guy.

Here are some pics of our time on L. I.  I cannot say enough fabulous things about Huntington -- Heckscher Park, the ponds with ducks, the huge kids' playground complete with sandboxes, the outside theater, the overall experience.  What a family centered town.  Had we more time, we'd have gone back and just wandered around, maybe fed some ducks, seen the museum that is right there in the park, even explored downtown Huntington.  Treehouse Shakers had a terrific audience that evening and I am proud of them and the community for supporting the arts.  A special shout out to John Chicherio at Huntington Arts Council and Jim P. at Long Island Children's Museum - always great to see colleagues.

Heckscher Park - view of the park with the lakes and ducks; Treehouse Shakers perform Coyote's Dance

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Reading List

I asked my Philly Social Media Moms group for summer reading lists as I prepare for a trip this week and the beach in two more weeks.  I'm pretty lucky if I can read two books a year these days but I'm happy to say that with my Kindle, I've been doing a little more than usual.  Since the holidays, I've downloaded and read Scary Mommy and started Swag by Lisa Bloom.

Here are a few more to add to my pile - in electronic form or print - from Amazon, my favorite online shop.  Disclaimer -- I'm a lover of historical fiction and a few of these are historically based and focus on anthropological looks of a certain time.

The Chaperone - Laura Moriarty

Then Came You: A Novel - Jennifer Weiner

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer Bucket List

There are a few cool activities already on our summer schedule -- BBQs, Knoebels, the swim club, Coney Island and a trip to Long Island to see roster artist Treehouse Shakers perform, for example.  But here are just a few others to do/see in 2012.

Art Projects
Make Christmas cookies in the summer
Visit a farm
Pick your own

Plant seeds
Picnic at the park
Water park
Dutch Wonderland
Crayola Factory

Science or Natural History museum
PA small towns
Annapolis/Eastern shore of MD
"Brave" in theaters
Shakespeare in the Park
Arden Theater

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

We were at my parents for Father's Day dinner this evening and just as I was getting ready to leave, this plays on the radio and I call my mom into the kitchen and shriek, "Listen!"  It's our song...mine, hers, Bethann's.  It was released in 2000, as I embarked on my post-college life and my grandfather, her dad, was ill.  He would pass away in April 2001 as this song was played on nearly every station.

Tonight it mom's house...his favorite place to visit.  Where Hannah would say, "I always see him at aunt Betty's."  And where his wife still comes for dinner.

I think he wanted to make sure we knew he was with us.  On Father's Day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Saw this just now and I think of the folks who said this to me in February and March.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Conquering the World One Spray Tan at a Time | Spray Tan Part II

(Part II of II in the drama that was my first spray tan - Read Part I here)

So my sister swore to me last week that after the crazy bronzer washed off in the shower that I'd look AMAZING and followed it up with, "You can do ANYTHING with a great spray tan!"  I stared at my 1960s-70s baked darkness with an eyebrow raised.  I didn't believe her.  All I knew is I had to be in York, PA in two days for a conference and I'd refused to go if this hadn't toned down by Wednesday morning.

Freaking out about the color, this being my first ever spray tan of course, I went to my PSMM friends - a closed group on FB - and hit the panic button.  The ensuing dialogue had me cracking up for days.  But as you can see from the before (usual pale Chrissie) to the after (the Sophia Loren look) to the post shower (acceptable) to the several showers later (smokin) -- it's great.  Best of all, I never had more colleagues - men and women -come up to me and tell me I looked fabulous/hot/great than I did while in York.  Was it all due to the spray tan?  Maybe.  Maybe it was also my attitude and better mental place.  It was a super conference but I have to admit, BA was right:  You really feel like you can conquer the world with a great spray tan!  (Images of Mary Lou Retton inspiring young girls comes to my mind right now).

Pale Chrissie (Beer Fest last weekend)

Immediately following the spray tan (frightening)

After the first shower (tame)

A couple days later with colleagues (smokin)

Am I converted?  Will I be a spray tan addict now?  No.  I can definitely see myself getting two more sprays this summer and one right before the start of conference season in September but cost aside, 95% of the time I embrace my paleness.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Water Slide: M's 4th Birthday

A shot of the inflatable water slide from M's 4th birthday party with friends.  June 10, 2012.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Spray Tan Part I

My first spray tan ever.  There are no words.  Well, there are (and some incriminating immediate post spray pictures but they are only on the hubby's phone right now) and I promise a lengthy and comical post about the whole experience.  In a state of panic last night (looking like scary brown leather) I could only share with my fellow Philly Social Media Moms who know me online - in the safe haven of a private FB group.

Well I trusted the process and while I still think I am dark for me (and a tad skanky ho looking), here is proof that 12 hours after the spray and one shower later, the scary bronzer does indeed wash down the drain like the red dye the day after a trip to a salon and you are left a little less mid century Italian Riviera looking.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Gaggle of Chicks, a Plop of an Apple -- A New York City Tale

This is a repost from my Piccadilly Arts blog originally posted on May 17.  I've added a few more pictures.

Last week my son and packed our duds and made for the Big Apple.  A mommy and son adventure complete with trains, performances, playground time, ice cream treats and more. The reason for our jaunt up NJ Transit's Northeast Regional line was to see both Treehouse Shakers' Hatched and Windmill Theatre's Plop.  Treehouse Shakers performed their new piece for the littlest of audience members at Ailey Studios and Windmill Theatre performed at The New Victory Theater.  But why stop with theatre?  We are in NYC!  So I scored us a sweet deal on boutique hotel (thanks, BookIt) in Midtown East and made sure we had down time for cartoons and playing at Madison Square Park.

Mitch colors before the performance at The New Victory 

I admit, one of my favorite parts about my job is that at least for a few more years at least, I can share my TYA knowledge and connections with my almost four year old.  As my mom likes to say, he's a really cultured kid.  He was a cultured baby too.  He's been to IPAY and a few conferences and retreats and mingled with artists since he was 3 months old.  He's seen several theater pieces at the New Vic studios, seen Zany Umbrella Circus and Treehouse Shakers twice now.  We see what we can, what's most appropriate for him, and we schlep far and wide.  It's especially great now that he's SO verbal to hear his recounting of the experiences.

 "I saw a farm show, Mommy!  And the chick went 'cheep cheep, cheep, cheep.' And I saw a bird, a cow and a lambie!"

The above photos I took after the performance.  Kids and their families sit front and center and have an opportunity to truly experience life on an American farm.  It's told through the eyes of a baby chick that has just hatched and we watch her learn to walk, take in her surroundings from roosters, cows, lambs, and birds.  Sprinkled throughout the narrative area chances for the children to pet, feed, and hold baby animals.  The puppetry and scenery are just exquisite.  Perhaps one of my favorite elements of the performance is the live music.  I never would have visualized this piece with live music and yet it gave it a whole other layer of stimulation and authenticity. I was truly touched at how beautiful this show was and how utterly American it felt to me.  I see loads of international performances for this audience that are phenomenal as well but Treehouse Shakers captured what it means to be an American in this piece via something as authentic as a farm, and more importantly, a child's first visit to a farm.

These pictures were taken after Plop.  Plop is based on the picture book The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and the Australian Windmill Theatre produced and performed this adorable piece for preschoolers.  The "plop" is the sound of apples falling from the sky (a fabulous contraption) into a bucket of water and making a rather loud plopping sound, scaring away two little rabbits.  Filled with terrific audio and engaging visuals, this blends fairy tale with fun. My son spent about ten minutes after the show playing with all the musical instruments.

A few video snippets to follow of each show but for now suffice it to say, both were audience favorites and make anyone working in our Theater for Young Audiences field proud -- this is exactly the sort of work that should be noticed, curated, funded, and supported.  It's thoughtful, meaningful, interactive and fun.  Kudos to both companies.

Here are a few more from the trip.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Tearing through Target

On a quest today to buy a friend of M's a birthday gift, we found ourselves distracted - as always - in Target.  We went in for a $15 gift and walked out 90 minutes later with $160 worth of groceries, accessories, birthday gifts (for him and the friend), toiletries, and more.  Despite a few meltdowns, we did have fun trying on shades and glasses.

Lillies in the Garden

These will forever be Mitchell's flowers.  When we move, I'll dig these babies up and take them with us.  I planted them in the spring of 2008 and they bloomed the day he was born.  I cannot believe the little guy will be four in just five days. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My adoration of #51: Carlos Ruiz

Many moons ago when I first started to get into the Phillies, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the active roster.  I thought Shane Victorino was adorable and great speed racer.  But while the local community gushed of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, I hung back and surveyed the scene.  Not really a band wagon jumper, I got into the game, the team, and players very gradually.  Baseball had always been a very boring sport to me and moreover the silliness of bandwagon fans when things would go well made me want to smack people.  So gradually over 2-3 years I started to understand the game, the calls, the pitches, the players and the competition.  There is a lot to comprehend.

I also noticed this adorable catcher, Carlos Ruiz, in 2008 and 2009 who seemed to fly under the radar all the time.  He quietly called the pitches and at certain times in the season could really be a clutch player.  I started to follow his moves back then and on any given day the Phils played, I'd be over my laptop typing (errr, screaming) "CHOOOCH!" into my FB status whenever he'd make a killer play or hit.  Doc's no hit game he credited to Ruiz...and many other well played games.  Who doesn't remember the commercial with Doc and the blow up Chooch doll promoting the start of last season?  The two were a force last year and I really credit both of them for being such class acts but Doc especially for elevating Ruiz to a new place of respect. 

Here we are in 2012 and I broke down this April and got myself a Chooch jersey.  I'd had a tee shirt and his bobble head but not a Jersey.  It was a long time coming.  Like I said, I was never a fan of the sport...or any commercial sport for that matter.  And frankly, I don't do jerseys.  It's a look I never liked nor identified with.  I still don't.  It conjures up images of starter jackets, hot shorts, Lee Press On Nails, hair with bad roots and bo-bos.  But I wanted something more official than the Chooch tee.  I wrestled with this decision for years.  SO conflicted.  It's not my style at all.  When I finally made the decision and sprung for it, I vowed to keep it indie in spirit and style and took a pic with Instagram and said, "Made him wait 3 years.  Had to know my feelings were real, ya know?"  Word.

And here we are this season with a pathetic offense and some of our ace pitchers looking like they are losing their focus and who is playing like an ace?  My man.  Ruiz is killing it every night he's out there.  He's had more homers this spring than all of last season and more RBIs.  For the first time in his career, he hit 4th in the line up last night.  Now, he's been playing well and totally deserves all this attention and reward if you will.  But if our offense were actually bringing their A game, he'd be further down on the line up, but no doubt still playing great.

Here are some of my favorite Chooch pics I've found over the years.  My little curated Chooch gallery if you will. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: Eye on Gymnastics and Nastia Liukin

How excited am I for the Olympics?  I love my Phillie Carlos Ruiz but nothing quite compares to the rawness that is an amateur (if you can really call an Olympian that?) vying for gold.  For as long as I can remember, I've watched both summer and winter Olympics with summer being my favorite - the gymnasts, the runners, the swimmers and divers.  I never considered myself overly patriotic either.  That is until I'd find myself standing and screaming at the TV, biting my nails in anticipation, scared some athlete who has given up her life for this sport might slip on the beam at any given moment, hollering, "Come ON!" for Team USA.  Four years ago  I watched with an infant son and I am excited to introduce him to this 8 week long TV ritual.

I am routing for this amazing gal - who I loved watching in 2008 - and I am hoping makes it to London this summer.  A gorgeous young woman who is strong and athletic.  I'm just a tad obsessed with how can do these amazing things with her body.  Go Nastia Liukin.


Monday, May 07, 2012

The Live Unicorn

Last week I schlepped to NYC for one of my roster artists' events.  As I was leaving Penn Station I chose to go up a different set of escalators and found myself standing in the lobby of Madison Square Garden.  I looked around and felt very small.  It's a huge lobby with tall glass windows but feels surprisingly 70s.  But before I could process anything more I had a vision.  I have been here before.  I was small.  I was about maybe 1984/85?  I was here in the lobby with my parents and there were vendors selling stuffed unicorns and batons and day glo sticks.  The circus?  Disney on Ice?  I don't know.  But I saw it immediately and clearly.

I whipped out my phone and quickly posted to FB about my very surreal moment.  Within minutes my artist colleague Drew clarified everything:  The year was 1985.  Ringling Bro. promoted the "real live unicorn" as its draw. 

Wow.  I had totally forgotten.  But not forgotten is my white felt/fleece unicorn with its blue horn that I got that day.  I used to perch it over the headboard of my bed and there it stayed for YEARS.  Batons and day glo sticks were the rage then. I love these little moments where I revisit a past experience, especially with such intensity and clarity.  And when I remember the sights, smells and little toys of yesteryear.

Even stranger was later that evening I spoke to another women at the event, talked about how my memory works, how I don't just "remember" something but rather, see it.  How instant it is.  She, like Drew, remembered the marketing ploy of Ringling that year and nailed it as well.  Later I'd tell Dad and say, What on earth is the significance of this unicorn on May 2?

Was it a real unicorn?  I have no idea.  I'm sure then I thought it was.  Now, I'm guessing it was either a horse with a prosthetic or a goat with a horn that Ringling exploited. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Just A Little Boy

As a mom of a little guy about to be four...foreseeing endless baseball games in the coming years (and/or track meets, soccer games, etc.), I saw this today on FB and had to post.  It's so sweet and humbling.

I believe we all have to face/endure/forge through disappointments, set backs and as my grandfather would say, "Don't let the bastards get you down!" Teaching girls and boys about winning and losing gracefully, about team spirit, about trying and moving forward or knowing when it makes sense to walk away, how to handle the conflicts with dignity and integrity -- definitely. We have to lead with hope and compassion as well as wisdom and empathy that comes from what we've lived.  But let's not lose site of the fact that some times the boy at the plate is indeed 4 or 6 or 8 years old.  With feelings. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tales of a Runner: Run for Clean Air 5K April 21, 2012

So this past week's race - The Philadelphia Run for Clean Air - was pretty was beautiful by any other standards, near 70 degrees and sunny by 9am.  The sun was beating down at 8:30 as a warmed up and stretched.  Yeah.  I wasn't too sure how this would go over on my body.

I ran it, heat headache and all, and finished, although not with the time I was hoping for.  I came away somewhat disappointed.  Warm runs are VERY difficult for me.  I spend the rest of the afternoon treating a headache and chugging the coconut water to replenish myself despite being hydrated the morning of the run.

I've since found a few solutions -- continue with some light runs during the summer months, either very early morning or late evening, and get myself to a track to improve my pace.  I've definitely plateaued and I need some speed and track workouts to kick that issue.  Staying hydrated with water and coconut water.  I may even need to invest in some sort of pack and bring some with me on warmer runs.  And some sort of wrap around shades may also be necessary.

At any rate.  When one has a crappy time, she compensates with a cute picture.  Thanks to Tom at Meta4Photo out of Berwyn, PA for the photography on race day. And it was for a great cause - Happy Earth Day friends.