I am an avid Real Simple reader. My mom gifts me a year-long subscription every year at Christmas (thanks Mom!) and it always makes my day when a new issue arrives in the mail. They recently posted an amazing tip etiquette guide on their website that covers everything from tips for bartenders to bell hops to psychics. Check the full guide out here, but I found the "Special Event" category below especially helpful with an upcoming wedding. They also published more detailed wedding tip policies here.
5 Ways I Deal with Anxiety
Let's get real with each other. I am what some may call a "Nervous Nelly", "Worry Wart", or a "Babe, you've really got to stop freaking out" according to C. I struggle a lot with anxiety and it's becoming a larger, unwelcome presence in my life as I get older. Due to recent worry about the future, jobs, money, and "adulting" in general, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I deal with anxiety. Here are 5 things that I find helpful:
I am taking my own advise and going on a beach trip with these two lovely ladies below. Abby and Ellie are two of the best people I know. I'm coming for you St. Pete!
What about you? How do you like to deal with worry and anxiety? I'd love your input! Go forth and be happy.
DIY: Upcycled Table
My friend Kat recently moved into her first grown-up house right around her birthday. She previously lived in a little apartment that was largely populated by IKEA furniture. I thought, "what better present for a new place than some cute, grown-up furniture?" I went rummaging around my new favorite home goods store, Consignment Furniture Depot, and found this festively painted table for $120 (originally around $400). Their business model involves selling gently-used home furnishings, jewelry, etc. that is decreased in price monthly the longer it sits in their showroom. A lamp you find for $100 on May 18th may be $80 when you come back on June 18th. It becomes a fun game of bargain hunting and deciding whether it's worth the risk of someone else scooping up an item to wait another month for the price to lower.
Anywho, so I bought this table and set about the task of repurposing it to fit Kat's laid-back, cool-color temp loving style. Here's what you'll need:
TWO: Remove any decorative hardware that you don't want covered in paint. This table came with these wheeled, brass claws that I quickly removed and set aside.
THREE: Cover your hardware-free table with a liberal coat of gold spray paint. As you can see below, I also gave my own coffee table a fresh look while working on Kat's present. Let the spray paint dry before moving on to the next step.
FOUR: Once the spray paint is dry, paint a layer of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Duck Egg (or whatever color you choose). Annie Sloan named her product "Chalk Paint", not because you can scrawl all over your finished product like a chalk board, but because of the paint's "velvety, matte finish". It's also designed to stick to just about anything (wood, concrete, metal, plastic, earthenware, etc.) with little-to-no prep (i.e. sanding or priming) so the drop cloth is extremely important if you're working inside. I achieved the paint coverage seen in the picture below without sanding down the table beforehand AND with only one coat of paint. Pretty snazzy, right?
FIVE: Step back, sip your beer, and sit on your porch swing while your first coat of paint dries. Apply a second coat if you feel the piece needs it, but I opted out!
SIX: Once the paint dries, grab your sandpaper and carefully distress different areas of the table. The idea is to sand off just enough of the Chalk Paint that the layer of gold spray paint shows through a bit. I sanded around the edge of the table and along the ridges of the legs where the piece would naturally age over time.
SEVEN: Because I'm a dummy who covered herself in paint wax without a friend around, I wasn't able to snap photos of the waxing process but I promise it's super easy and the most fun part of this project. You'll want to start with the Annie Sloan Clear Wax. Grab your rag and scoop out a dollop of clear wax. Everyone has seen The Karate Kid right? Say it with me, "Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off.". Work quickly and try not to overthink it as you cover the table in wax, rubbing off excess wax with a clean rag. You're going for a thin, textured layer. The clear wax creates texture for the dark wax to stick to later as well as a water repellent surface.
EIGHT: Finally, break out the Annie Sloan Dark Wax. Don't be scared! Scoop out a slightly smaller dollop of dark wax and start working it into the clear wax. It is super easy to wipe away excess dark wax, so don't freak out if you feel like you've used too much. You can also use a short, stiff paintbrush to stipple the dark wax into the clear wax, creating a different texture here and there. At this point, you can decide how distressed you want your table to look and use a little or a lot of this fun treatment.
***If the wax scares you, here are some more tutorials that I found helpful from Annie Sloan's website***
Here are some pictures of the finished product in Kat's room. I'll post some close-ups of the sanding step as well as the final look on my coffee table later this week. I'm currently rifling through my embarassingly large coffee table book collection to decide which ones I want to display for the next couple of months.
Let me know if you'd like to see more large DIY projects. This one was super fun to do and write about. Good luck with your own projects!
5 Life Lessons I Learned from Theatre
The Artistic Director of Curtain Call Youth Players, a children's theatre in Atlanta that I've had the pleasure to work with recently, asked me to write an article detailing what life lessons I've learned from theatre to share with their community. Theatre being one of the things I'm most passionate about, I readily agreed. This article could have easily had 50 lessons instead of the mere 5 I contented myself with, but these 5 are the ones that continue to have the most lasting impact on how I choose to live my life. Now, someone else's list may look completely different, but these are the nuggets of wisdom I'd like to share with you sprinkled with some snapshots of my theatre life:
1. Learning to juggle. A practical lesson first. As a Stage Manager/Dancer/Actor/Singer/Blogger/Reluctant Day Jobber, I can accomplish in ½ a day what most people take ½ a week to complete. In college, I overloaded on classes every semester and attended rehearsal until 10PM most nights. Now, I go to the office from 8AM – 5PM and then rehearsal until 11PM when I’m in production (9PM if I’m lucky enough to be working on a children’s production. Sorry, a “young adult” production, as they like to be called.). I don’t have time for nonsense. I draft and color-code “to do” lists, I prioritize efficiently, and I complete tasks with excellence. This is a life skill that can be carried over to any vocation, whether you dream to plan weddings or climb the corporate ladder. The ability to not only get many things done, but to get them done well (My definition of well is to complete a task above and beyond the median expectation) will get you noticed in all the rights ways while acting/singing/dancing on Broadway or sitting in a cubicle.
2. Everyone’s a princess. No princesses allowed. We live in a time when everyone receives a trophy for participation on a sports team, even if the team clocks in dead last. People cry out for attention just because they “tried”. Now hold on - I am all about positive reinforcement and encouragement. I hope those of you who have worked with me before can vouch that I demand excellence while instilling confidence and motivation in my teammates.
Theatre taught me to understand and be proud of what I bring to the table. Confidence, self-respect, and appreciation for my own self-worth were all valuable life lessons for the shy 7th grader who sometimes ruled my inner thoughts. But it also taught me to understand, respect, and appreciate what others bring to the table.
Theatre is a place where the intrinsic value of teamwork and humility are incontrovertible. Everyone on the team is necessary (a princess); therefore, there is no time or place for egos or demands for attention (no princesses allowed).
It should be noted that my original title for this lesson was Don't Be a Jerk. I changed it for the version sent out by Curtain Call, but I feel that here I can be a bit more blunt. As a Stage Manager, I cannot think of anything that grinds my gears more than a fellow theatre artist who acts out simply because they've decided that they deserve special treatment. Jerks don't get referrals. Jerks don't get positive reviews. Jerks don't get rehired. DON'T BE A JERK!
Now that I'm off my soap box about jerkiness, I'd like to move on to a more positive lesson.
3. Be Excellent to Each Other. In the immortal words of Bill and Ted during their excellent adventure (please say at least some of you get that movie reference), theatre teaches participants to “be excellent to each other”. Theatre, when approached correctly, has produced and shaped some of the most excellent people I know. Show folk are the best
folk. Outsiders don’t get it until they take the plunge and sign on to their first production, and then they never want to leave.
The sense of community at a good theatre company supports an environment where kids grow into remarkable human beings. They’re not only confident about their talent, but also smart as whips, dedicated, disciplined, respectful, and accepting of others. Let’s face it; kids (and adults, for that matter) can be mean. But I have never seen kids love and care for each other so well until I started stage-managing children’s (excuse me, Young Adult) theatre.
This is applicable to adults as well. Theatre folk take care of each other, end of story.
4. Resilience. Auditions taught me that it is possible to bare your soul onstage, give the audition of your life, be positively torn apart by a director, and come out on the other side okay. Being told “no” is not the end of the world. I've encountered a lot of people in my 25 years that have said "No" to me. Some were gentle "No, Emma. I really don't think spray painting that set piece in a small room with no windows or air circulation is a good idea". Some were more along the lines of an emphatic, "NO EMMA. YOU CANNOT GET OFF OF THE LIGHT GRID WALKWAY AND EXPECT TO NOT FALL TO YOUR DEATH ON THE MAINSTAGE FLOOR." (That particular "no" is a long story for another time.) However, I learned how to turn any type of "no" into a positive and constructive lesson. You stand up, brush yourself off, and try again.
Sometimes trying again means finding a different, unplanned path, which is coincidentally how I discovered my current passion, stage management. The point being, growing some thick skin makes you tough and determined. Theatre pushes you to try harder than you ever thought you could.
5. Find Your Bliss. Simply put, theatre makes you happy. If you leave your mind open to learning the lessons I’ve written about above, theatre could become one of the greatest joys in your life. It’s a safe haven to put aside the troubles of the day and dance, sing, or design the pain away. A completed production is like a secret hiding months of hard work that you get to share with an audience during every performance. The feeling when watching all that effort come together onstage becomes an exhilarating, driving force. If you’re lucky enough, theatre becomes your vocation and you’re allowed to play every day with the best people in the world.
Now get up and go audition. If you're not show-folk, then maybe this article will encourage you to become an arts advocate. Every theatre needs an audience supporting the people onstage and backstage. If you're a parent, I beg you to consider enrolling your kids in a summer program. You will be amazed at what they learn and how they grow. Help them find their bliss!
As you all know, I've been hinting at a move here for several weeks. The move is finally, mostly successfully complete. The past several weeks I've felt all my creative juices slowly seeping out of me as boxes piled up from floor to ceiling, dust took permanent residence in my lungs, and the idea of lugging a washer/dryer to my new place loomed over me. However, the move is finally OVER! Here's a little timeline of the move:
I am so excited about this new place! It's a 3 bed/2 bath town home with plenty of room for myself, Ann Hamilton, and her giant dog Ron the Greyhound. I'll post pictures of the space once we make it pretty. In the meantime, here are some pics of the moving saga.
Packing Tip: Don't have the money for garment bags? Trash bags work just as well to move your hanging clothes. I splurge on the lavender scented bags so that my clothes smell super fresh when I hang them in my new closet!
These sweet friends (as well as my parents who didn't make it into the pics) spent all day helping me move. They then unpacked ALL of my kitchen things while I sat icing my bum knee and ordering them around as seen below.
Frozen edamame ice pack = the classy version of a frozen peas ice pack!
Here begins the saga of my washer and dryer. Thankfully, Ann Ham and I hired some strong men to move them for us; however, upon installation we realized that the dryer was equipped with a 3-pronged power cord and the laundry room outlet was set up for a 4-pronged power cord. Undaunted, Ann Ham and I headed to Lowe's for a 4-pronged cord with hopes high. Armed with a screwdriver and an instructional YouTube video I got started.
I am happy to report that I successfully rewired my dryer with a new power cord (more complicated than I was expecting) and the dryer is in good working order. I even got the official "You did good" stamp of approval from my super-smart, handy grandfather!! Besides being quite a bit broke at the moment...I'm feeling pretty good about this strong, independent adult thing.
How has your week been?
I'm an Anthropologie girl in a corporate world.