Choosing Love Over a Desk

In the summer of 2013, I decorated my flimsy brown camp counselor clipboard with all sorts of things. Triangles, anchors, and sailboats are pretty much all I’ve ever been good at doodling, so those images were visible to everyone on the backside of the clipboard. On the front, beneath all my attendance rosters, camper evaluations, attempts at new signatures, and lists of what to buy at Meijer, I had written a quote to keep myself focused on life post-camp. “A life lived for art is never a life wasted” -Macklemore. I’d catch myself staring down at it a few times a day, reminding myself that performing is what I loved, and if I worked hard enough, I might have a shot at making it my profession after college and my summers spent teaching sailing.

One day, I asked a friend (who would later become much more) to call attendance while I figured some boat stuff out. He and his buddy felt the need to flip through my papers afterwards, and found my quote. They thought it was lame, and spent a big chunk of time on the sailing porch that day making me feel bad about being inspired by a Macklemore song. Those boys really succeeded in making me feel small that afternoon. For the rest of that summer, I avoided looking at the lyric that had once given me hope and focus. I felt like a pathetic loser every time my eyes fell on those black letters.

I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential.

Fast-forward a few years to winter 2015. I was grinding HARD at UCF. I was directing a pageant, leading a publication, blogging every day, working part-time, and taking “more than the recommended number of credits”. With a few business internships under my belt and a standing job offer in an office for after graduation, I had a lot going for me as “Business Maddie”. The big problem? It wasn’t where my heart was.

I had been aggressively getting involved in college activities outside the classroom in an attempt to move out of the business space. Because I was so close to finishing my marketing degree, I was determined to get it done. But even then, I knew that post-graduation, I would not be working in an office. Traditional works for a lot of people. A lot of people wanted traditional to work for me. But traditional has NEVER worked for me. By this time, I’d worked a few little performing jobs, and I was hooked. I didn’t know how I would make an entertainment career work, but I knew there was no other path for me. Every time I saw a live performance, I would cry thinking about life chained to a desk. Dramatic? Probably. But performing has always been my one great love. Entertaining has always been my everything. I had some critical adults (and peers) try to trick me out of chasing my love, and could finally recognize and process that. The only way I’d ever ACTUALLY be a pathetic loser is if I gave up on that dream. I started to pour all my energy into auditioning for everything I could, and in January 2016, I finally got noticed. It was the beginning of a new life.

The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint // the greats were great because they’d paint a lot.

Now, nearing the end of 2018, I feel incredibly grateful. I have made a living almost exclusively as an entertainer this year. I’ve had a few side jobs here and there, but mostly to keep myself entertained between gigs or have a change of scenery. It isn’t always easy waking up and dragging myself to every audition I can find, but it sure as hell beats the alternative. I’ve had some wonderful, weird, and wonderfully weird work experiences this year. I’ve tested my limits and discovered some weaknesses. Occasionally I think about how doing something else would be easier in a lot of ways, how some stability would be nice. Maybe I could do some more “normal” 26-year-old stuff for a bit. But for me, true joy is making other people smile, giving them (and myself) an escape. With some new projects on the horizon, I couldn’t be happier to live an “alternative” life. I’m out here choosing love over a desk every single day.

Macklemore’s Ten Thousand Hours came up on a Spotify daily mix yesterday, and I nearly cried hearing the first note. To me, that song is everything. From the first time I heard it years ago to this morning on the way to the coffee shop to write, every listen has filled me with hope, inspiration, and the motivation to put in my ten thousand hours. I’m reminded of everyone who has ever made me feel small, and am given a renewed strength to rise above.

A life lived for art is never a life wasted.

Finding Joy In A Routine

“The human spirit lives on creativity and dies in conformity and routine.”
― Vilayat Inayat Khan

Working as a performer makes finding a routine… challenging. Some days, my hours are similar to a “normal” 9-5 job. I’ll make a stop for coffee on my commute to work, have scheduled times to eat, and be able to get to bed at what an average person would call a reasonable hour. Other days, not so much. It isn’t uncommon for me to work three places in a day, travel out of town, or have an overnight rehearsal. This schedule variety is both as freeing and nerve-wracking as one might imagine, though I tend to focus on being thankful for the adventure.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the unique pleasure of developing a routine for certain types of days- the days where my mornings are free and I work in the afternoon/evening/night. I’ll wake up, make myself breakfast, light a candle, and settle in at my bedroom desk. I put on a movie and play with my makeup. I drink tea and experiment and daydream and practice my skills. I check out from everyone else’s reality and enjoy my alone time. Last week, I discovered the trick to winged eyeliner on my uniquely shaped lids!

I find that on work days where I practice this routine in the morning, I am happier. I can tell by the actions of my coworkers that I am more fun to work with (I’m a big believer in receiving back the energy you give). The little challenges I might encounter seem even more minute, and I enjoy performing even more.

Now, I’m working on a nighttime routine. I haven’t quite hit my stride yet, but so far it involves tea, candles, face masks, and time to be introspective. Time to practice gratitude, time to reflect, time to write and journal. More time in my own little world. A creative routine to recharge my spirit.

Now Playing: Front Porch by Spotify

Now Burning: White Pumpkin Latte

Now Drinking: Raspberry Hibiscus Herbal Tea

Buy The Damn Dress

Do you ever have those moments where you put on a dress and think to yourself, “Damn, self. You look great.” I do. Rarely. But when I do, I fall in love.

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I spent a year in college “fashion blogging”. I liked writing and creating, and it definitely scored me some internships, but it totally turned my love of fashion off. I wasn’t writing for myself, I was writing to gain popularity in a world of Insta-worthy bloggers. There was a strict formula to follow, and it never felt genuine to me. I still have the site URL active, but have all the posts hidden. This is better for the world, really, it turned to absolute shit toward the end. I also stopped loving getting dressed in the morning. My uniform of basic tanks and cutoff denim shorts has remained routine for the past two years.

But lets get back on track. Last summer, I was walking around Disney Springs, wasting time and scouting photo shoot locations. I wandered into Free People, as one does. I planned on buying nothing, as one does. Then I fell in love, as one does. Toward the front of the store, a rack of gauzy dresses pulled me in like a Venus flytrap. I’m a sucker for dresses I can twirl in.

I pulled two off the rack- a white tank dress that looked like it was made for a Coachella mummy, and a little periwinkle number that screamed fairy princess. “Just to try on” I assured myself. LOL Mads, good one.

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SURPRISE, BITCH! YOU LOOK FAB! The dresses were made for my thin frame, and made me feel like a summery mermaid. But could I justify spending upwards of $150 on a single dress just because I finally felt self-confident for the first time since getting back home from vacation?

I left the store with a handful of photos I’d taken in the dressing room, and booked my inspired ass to the fabric story in search of some airy cotton fabric. I was going to make my own little knockoff. $27 later, I was home, armed with five yards of fabric and some assorted lace trim. I started cutting, no pattern. I could calculate mentally, right? I had a vision. Two snips in, and I knew my imagination wasn’t gonna cut it. I could probably make my own dress eventually, but I had been texting photos of the FP dresses to my friends all night. It was like in every romantic comedy where the ingenue has her first encounter with the hottie of her dreams. Those dresses were all I could think about until I fell asleep, and they were the first thing I thought about when I woke up the next morning.

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You know what I did next? I went back. I got my periwinkle dream dress. Did seeing the number on the credit card authentication screen bum me out? A little. But I had just gotten a long-awaited paycheck, I was going to be fine.

I went to a bathroom, changed into the dream dress, and felt a wave of calm confidence wash over me. I felt like a queen again.

So what’s the moral of this story? #treatyoself

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Trader Joe’s Trip

So I know going to Trader Joe’s isn’t what most people would consider a “hobby”, but I’m not like most people. I love you to Trader Joe’s. The store is laid out in a way that encourages me to buy fresher and healthier foods than I do anywhere else. The customers are civilized, and the employees are helpful but don’t get in your way or push unnecessary small talk.

My shopping list usually includes a lot of fruits, veggies, some sort of bread/wrap/tortilla, and juice. I always indulge in a few treats per week since Trader Joe’s has so many fun little things.

I couldn’t resist picking up another tiny succulent to add to my growing collection- he was right by the entrance and only cost me $2. Isn’t he precious?

I’m a sucker for bottled sodas- even on a rainy day holed up in my apartment I feel like I’m on a patio in the Midwest (there’s my nostalgic side kicking in).

And because I’m a summer girl, I had to pick up a campfire s’mores bar. This time of year I miss summer camp, and little things like this bring me back.

Treat yo’ self moment? Absolutely.

Mamma Mia! Now I Need This Skirt

I’m really, really, ridiculously excited for this summer’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The original film is one of my favorite movie-musicals, and I have a very fond memory of going to see it for a second time in the theater with my sister after we had bought the soundtrack and memorized EVERY lyric. We had the whole place to ourselves (ok… my mom and her best friend were there too), and we ran through the aisles singing and dancing along like the dramatic theater kids we were.

Ten years later, and Mamma Mia! is a movie I still watch regularly. It is beautifully filmed and choreographed, and makes me nostalgic for a life I never lived. It also makes me want to put on a flowy skirt and twirl around on the beach.

That being said- lets talk about this little outfit on Young Donna.

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THAT SKIRT! Holy shit! I need that skirt. Its a perfect hippie pumpkin fantasy, and PERFECT to show how fun Donna was as a young woman. I crave that feeling of whimsy. That feeling of freedom. That summer feeling. I want to kick my shoes off, run through a meadow, and answer to nobody but myself.

I can’t wait to see more of the costumes in this film and incorporate late 1970’s style into my own wardrobe. For now, I’ll be scouring the Free People website for skirts fit for adventure.