June 30, 2011

A Day in the Life - June 2011

As part of my 101 in 1001 project (I don't even have close to 101 things on the list yet...maybe "Finish the List" should be ON the list?), I have set a goal to document 1 day of every month in photos. Yesterday I realized that I hadn't done that for June yet, and June was ending...like, today. So, even though it was quite possibly the most boring day in my recent history, here is my Wednesday:

Up at 5:20am -- ready to go run for the first time in a week:

What I leave the house with on gym days: lunch bag, purse, and gym bag.  All too big and too heavy.

A very sleepy gym before it officially opens at 6am.  Taken with my phone...it just captures the grimness of being awake that early to exercise. ;)

I decided NOT to take any workout (during or post-run) photos.  You're welcome.  At my office by 7:30, washing some coffee cups and other dishes and getting the coffee ready.  Like the poster?

Breakfast!  Homemade muffins from my mother-in-law, hazelnut coffee....and drugs.  Wheeee.  (Hey, calm down, it's a prescription!)

Very dull morning.  Just doing some busy work lately until the July 1st catalog rollout.  Mid-morning snack was an apple. Don't worry, I removed the sticker before actually eating it.

It's Wednesday!  Time to create a Life Well Lived post! 

...which took me to lunch time!  Lunch was leftovers from a homemade chicken spaghetti I made.  Yum yum!

More busywork for the afternoon.  Then finally time to go home at 4pm!  Luckily I got a parking spot in the shade all day!  In 100 degree days, parking in the shade and cracking the windows a bit makes getting into the hot car a bit more bearable. 

I'm "pet-sitting" for some friends who are in Maine all summer (the jerks! the weather is probably AMAZING there!), which means going to their house a few times a week and feeding the turtles.  This is Yertle:

And this is Sheldon and Ginger.  Their heads are above water because they are trying to bite my hands off.  They're feisty little devils...

Unsure of Sheldon and Ginger.  They would probably take my finger right off if I gave them the chance!

Finally home!  Carmen always has to sniff/lick my feet to see where I've been. I know, it's kind of gross.  But also adorable.

Okay Mommy, you may enter.

Aaaaand this is what I did for the rest of the night. Literally.  Sat on my couch and watched So You Think You Can Dance and the Red Sox/Phillies game.  BORING.

Seriously it was SUCH a boring day that I almost didn't want to even make this post. But today is the last day of the month and it's probably going to be equally boring, and I said I'd do it for the project so....yeah.  Hopefully July's "Day in the Life" post will be a bit more exciting! 

Have a great day!

The Audition

(this post is cross-posted here)

This is a photo I took at an audition last week for part of the 7 Days project over on Flickr (it's fun! you should play!).  Since I knew I had an audition right in the middle of the project, I had this idea for a photo in mind.  Think of the end of the opening number of A Chorus Line, when the auditioners line up across the stage, holding their headshots in front of their faces.  That's the general idea.

Once I played around with the color a little bit, this was the end result.  And I'm kind of obsessed with how it turned out. It's not perfect.  I'm in a bathroom, and you can pretty much tell there's a toilet behind me.  The centralized color is the best I could do with the free version of Picnik.  Ideally, you wouldn't be able to see me holding the camera.  But that's okay...because I think all of that is kind of symbolic of an audition.

Rarely is the audition perfect.  If you give perfect auditions, please, write a book and make millions sharing your secret with the rest of us goobers who sweat and shake and stammer and do our best to keep from getting cotton mouthed or short of breath right before a high note in a song!

So how did this audition go? I feel like it went really well.  I always set personal goals when I go into an audition, and the weight and number of goals varies with each circumstance.  Sometimes I know that the audition is purely for audition experience.  There may not actually be a viable option for me in a particular production, but I will go....either because I want to try out a new monologue or song, get my face in front of a certain director at a certain theatre, or just to test the fates and make a director say, "Huh...she is not what I had in mind at all for this show, but let's see what she can do."

But I also love this photo because it's a bit symbolic.  Ideally, you look very similar in person (aka "in real life") as you do in your headshot, but hopefully your headshot kind of rocks.  When you walk out of the room, you want to leave with them a tangible bit of you that reminds them "Hey, I was the short, curvy girl with the hair that you weren't sure was red or blonde or some magical combination of the two!"  But really, you're leaving them with just an image.  A small piece of who you really are as a performer.  You hopefully add to that with your audition, whether it's a monologue or a cold reading or 16 bars (carefully selected to include a slow section, maybe part of the bridge and at least one good money note), but even still...they're only getting a piece of you.  It's just up to fate (also known as The Production Team) whether or not what they see is enough to bring you back for more...or offer you a place in the production.

You know? I almost think I'm starting to like the audition process.  It's such a personal challenge. You basically get a chance to, for a few minutes, have all eyes on you. It's your chance to sell yourself.  That's why I will never understand those who walk into auditions unprepared (not having read the script of the show beforehand, not having a song selection, etc.).  YOU control those few precious moments, so do as much as you can with them!

And at a callback or a cold reading?  You're getting the opportunity to play this role, even if it's just for a few minutes and a line or two. Make the most of it!  Make choices.  Look at your scene partner or, if you're alone in the scene/reading, really make strong choices! Even if you're wrong, let the director see that you are making an effort and, if you're cast, he or she will steer you in the right direction during rehearsals. (All of this is expanded upon in a GREAT book called, appropriately enough, Audition, which I highly recommend.)

One thing I also noticed at this last audition...please, for the love of everything good and holy and pure...shut up.  Watch what you say in the lobby.  Watch your language.  Don't analyze every second and every note of your audition loudly so that you ensure everyone around you hears about it.  Because frankly?  Nobody cares.  I know that sounds rude, but it's true.  Everyone else is concerned about one person there: their own self and their own audition.

....not sure where I'm going with all of this really.  I've just been thinking about auditions a lot lately as the next round or two comes up for me, personally.  And I've just been kind of bullet-pointing things that are on my mind about them:

  • Be confident
  • Make choices
  • Think about what you're wearing before going (especially if movement may be involved).
  • Be nice to your accompanist.  Introduce yourself, ask his/her name, THANK them.
  • Thank everyone, for that matter.
  • Be pleasant the entire time you're there.  You never know who is watching/listening.
  • Be prepared.
....what would you add to that list?

June 29, 2011

Life Well-Lived, Vol. 6

Today is the SIXTH (!!) installment of "Life Well Lived" the brain child of my good friend Kelsey! The idea is to, every Wednesday, blog about the things in life, small or huge or anywhere in between, that make you joyful, that make you thankful...anything that makes your life WELL LIVED. 

Also, you can now follow @MyLifeWellLived on Twitter!  Follow and post with the hashtag #LifeWellLived and let's make this go viral!

On to today's reason my life is well lived!

1. I've been on the cover of a newspaper...well a SECTION of the newspaper anyway!


Every Thursday in our local newspaper, there is an arts/entertainment mini-magazine type thing in the middle of the paper. Whenever a local production is in the works, the Thursday before opening night is usually when the show is featured in Denton Time. I've been in countless productions, but this is the first time I've been in a show/had a role in which I've been actually ON the cover! This was when I played Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in the summer of 2009!

2. I have learned a role in THREE DAYS!

In the fall of 2009, I auditioned for a local production of Chicago.  I was called back and read/sang for the role of Matron "Mama" Morton, but I ended up losing the role to a very talented actress.  Sadly, due to some personal circumstances, the actress had to leave the show with very short notice...one week before the production opened.  The director talked to me on Sunday, I was at rehearsal Monday, we had a preview audience on Thursday, and the show opened Friday.  Whew!  Fear is an EXCELLENT motivator, and that role/experience still stands as one of my proudest accomplishments.  Bonus: Hubby was also in the show as Billy Flynn!

3. A celebrity has replied to me on Twitter! 

Last summer, the short-lived television show The Good Guys was filming in Dallas, starring Colin Hanks (total cutie and son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks).  I started stalking following Colin on Twitter and one day he tweeted that he was snacking on some almonds, which he found delicious. I grabbed my own bag of almonds (a great healthy snack, btw!), snapped a pic on my phone, and tweeted it to Colin.  HE REPLIED.  Yes, I was all twitterpated (see what I did there?) for the rest of the day!

4. Every year, my sisters-in-law, niece and I bake Christmas cookies!

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2010

On a whim, we decided to get together and bake Christmas cookies in December of 2008.  My sweet sisters-in-law (my brothers' wives) and I, along with my then-8-year-old niece.  We had a great time, wore dorky, dollar-store Christmas-themed aprons, and made a TON of yummy treats.  We did it the very next year (no picture from 2009 that I can find...sad), and the NEXT year.  This holiday season will be our 4th Annual Hilliard Sister Christmas Cookie Baking and I am already looking for recipes!  It's a great tradition that I hope we continue (and continue to add children to) for years to come.

Now, it's your turn!  Post 3-5 things that you think make your life well lived, and shoot Kelsey an email and let her know! 

June 27, 2011

7 Days Wrap-Up: Summer 2011 Edition

I'm part of a really awesome group on Flickr called 7 Days, in which members post self-portraits every day for seven days.  Two of the days are theme days (different every time), and this summer edition was my second time to participate.  (You can view my Spring submissions here.)

Seriously you guys?  This group of people is at least 10 kinds of badass.  I have SO much fun looking at everyone's creative, fun, beautiful, silly (insert other adjectives as you will) submissions and reading their comments.  I will spend SO much time going through and commenting on everyone else's photos and laughing my head off (comment love is what it's alllllll about, yo). 

You should definitely join the group.  Just click on the link up there, and send a request, and play along with us in the fall!

So, here are my photos from this round, along with my captions:

7 Days, Day 1 -- Freckles & Lip Gloss

Hooray! 7 Days is back!

I thought this might be a good start to the Summer 7 Days cycle because it features some of my summer staples: freckled shoulders, sundresses, and lip gloss!

It's a toasty 102 degrees in Texas today, and I'd MUCH rather be out by the pool drinking frosty beverages, but lunch with the in-laws called. I hope you're all having a wonderful Saturday!

7 Days, Day 2 - Celebrating in Style! (Theme: BLACK)

As I mentioned yesterday, my father-in-law and his wife are in town this weekend. Tonight we celebrated both Father's Day AND his 60th birthday!

We were told to dress up, and imagine our surprise when a BLACK limo picked us up! I was wearing a BLACK strapless BCBG dress and hubs was wearing a BLACK shirt and coat.

We went to the Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas, where we spent a GLORIOUS 3.5 hours eating and drinking some incredible cuisine and having awesome conversation with family we haven't seen since our 2008 wedding.

It was an excellent day!

7 Days, Day 3 -- God, I Hope I Get It!

I was really hoping to be able to pull off this shot, and I'm pretty happy with it!

Tonight, I went to an audition for the musical "Gypsy" at a really amazing local theatre (only one in the area that uses 35-40 piece orchestras to play original Broadway orchestrations).

I sang really well, and I'm happy with it -- no matter how it turns out!

(Bonus points if you catch the reference in the title & the homage that is my pose!)

7 Days, Day 4 -- A Watched Pot

On the menu tonight? Chicken spaghetti. But it takes SO long for the water to boil and it gets SO warm in my kitchen in the summer that an ice cold Corona seemed to be just what the doctor ordered!

7 Days, Day 5 -- Sign says (woo!) "Stay away, fools!" (Theme: WHITE)

'Cause love rules...at the lo-o-o-ve shack! This is a GREAT new place to eat in Denton, TX -- the Love Shack!

I wore a white shirt today hoping to find a photo op to fit today's theme, and when Whitney (my sweet friend who helped me snap the photo) suggested lunch here I remembered the AWESOME wall outside! Voila!

7 Days, Day 6 -- In the Summertime
(note: this is a screenshot of a video submission)

It's been an interesting day. I got about 3 hours of sleep (I don't even know why...), I was up at the gym by 6am and at work by 7:30...then I had a doctor's appointment and found out I have SHINGLES. GAH! And might I add, "Ouch." I feel like a leper or something.

Also? It's back up to a kerjillion degrees outside, which makes it a gazillion and ten inside my car. But the local Oldies station was playing some summertime favorites so I decide to have a little fun for my 7 Days submission today.

Thank goodness tomorrow is FRIDAY.

7 Days, Day 7 -- Day of Rest

This is what I've been doing allllll day. I slept 12 hours last night, went to lunch with the hubby, nearly fell asleep on the 15 minute drive home, then took a 3 hour nap.

Think my body is trying to tell me something?

I'm feeling better, but the medication is making me feel a little weird. I hate ending 7 Days feeling under the weather,but once again, I've had a GREAT time!

I hope to see you all again in the Fall!


So that's it for this round of 7 Days!  Come play with us next time around!  It's SO much fun!

June 24, 2011

Fitness Friday -- Listening

I almost didn't write a post today, because after last week's awesomeness I feel like I really failed my body this time around. 

I took Monday off from work because of an insanely busy weekend with visiting in-laws and a late night on Sunday at a VERY fancy celebration that included a limo and dinner at the Mansion at Turtle Creek in Dallas.

So my first day to work out this week was Tuesday.  I ran 2.5 miles, as was the plan.  Wednesday morning I completely overslept and rushed out of the house with only the essentials (read: coffee) and forgot my gym bag at home.  BUT, I did try to make up for it by doing my legs workout while watching So You Think You Can Dance (lunges and other various means of torture designed to [hopefully] reduce the size of my thighs).

Thursday morning I got up after only getting about 3 hours of sleep for some reason.  This is where all the old bits of advice to "listen to your body!!" started haunting me.  I needed to run 2.5 miles.  I told myself I'd do that 3x a week no matter what.  Then I started hearing that obnoxious line in the back of my head again...

Listen to your body!

I wasn't feeling great. I felt really run down and tired.  My right knee was a bit sketchy.  And the rash that had been bothering me on my side was especially irritating.  So I got on a stationary bike instead and rode about 6.5 miles in 35 minutes.  Then I went downstairs and did arms/back/abs work.

By the time I got to work, I was feeling kind of yucky, still, so I called the doctor and made an appointment to have my little rash area looked at.  She could fit me in at 2pm, so I went in after lunch....and found out I have shingles.  Shingles.  Ugh.  Even my doctor seemed surprised.  

Apparently, it's the chicken pox virus, which NEVER EVER GOES AWAY in your body once you've had it.  It just lies there, waiting dormant, to screw with you.  It can be "awakened" by stress, aging, or disease/low immune system.  I don't feel particularly stressed....on the contrary, I've been feeling pretty good . I'm not letting the Summer Financial Woes get me down...I'm just trusting that, as always, God will provide and take care of us.  I'm keeping myself healthy.  I'm enjoying not being in a show right now.  I'm reading. I'm sunbathing.  But, maybe subconsciously my body is taking on some stress.  I don't know.  All I know is that OW this hurts and PLEASE give me some medicine now that you know what it is.

So I got some drugs for the Shingleshanks (what I'm calling them because it sounds more fun), and today? I have been completely worthless.  I didn't run. I didn't bike.  I didn't stretch.  I didn't do yoga.  I didn't do ANYTHING. 

I slept for 12 hours last night, woke up and went to lunch with the hubster, barely stayed awake on the drive home from lunch, and then took a 3 hour nap. 

Because my body told me to.

There's a part of me that feels stressed (stop it, Mandy.  You want more shings??) and disappointed in myself for not meeting my weekly goals...but I know deep down that listening to your body and knowing when it needs a break is much more important than running the 7.5/8 miles I was hoping to get in this week.  If I don't let myself recover, I'll have more bad weeks. 

Here's hoping I get the rest I need, recover, and come back even more ready to kick some butt next week!

June 22, 2011

Life Well-Lived, Vol. 5

Today is the FIFTH installment of "Life Well Lived" the brain child of my good friend Kelsey! The idea is to, every Wednesday, blog about the things in life, small or huge or anywhere in between, that make you joyful, that make you thankful...anything that makes your life WELL LIVED. 

Also, you can now follow @MyLifeWellLived on Twitter!  Follow and post with the hashtag #LifeWellLived and let's make this go viral!

I am VERY excited to say that today's post is a guest post from my good friend and ULTIMATE DIVA, Neeley!  Neeley doesn't have a blog yet, but she DOES have an awesome Twitter account, which you can request to follow hereHere's what Neeley has to say:

1. I had a glam-diva photo shoot!

Like Mandy, I recently lost a significant amount of weight and made a pact with myself... I will take an ultra sexy, diva photo shoot to celebrate my body at least once a year. As women we spend so much time micro-analyzing every nook and cranny that I felt the need to give myself an indefinite 'Hot Girl' pass. Now whenever my self-esteem is taking a hit, I have a collection of photos that remind just divalicious I really am!!

2. I gained a friend... MY MOM!

Oil & water, dogs & cats, Neeley & Carol... All polar opposites. As an only child, I am spoiled, stubborn, and always wanted life on my own terms. It was hard for my mom to accept that. Also my artistic dreams were a little too eccentric for her initial understanding. However, over the past year we have really come to understand and appreciate one another. She recently received her Master's degree at the age 52, which proved to me that we have a lot more in common than originally thought. We are both hard workers, fearless, and wildly independent. We might not always agree, but we love one another and that's what REALLY matters.

3. I took a major step towards being a full-time actress!

At the beginning of 2010, I declared that I take major steps towards being a full time actress. Since then I have been in 8 theatrical productions, a commercial, and I was signed to a major local talent agency. I made a decision, and by the grace of God took the necessary steps to reach it. I still have a LONG way to go, but I know I am on the right path. The picture below is of Echo's production of 'Well' which lead to me being signed. That opportunity stretched me as an actress, and gave me a new respect for the craft.

4. I am with the man of my dreams!

I no longer have to dream and wish for my Prince Charming, he is here! It didn't work out the first time (we dated for a hot minute in college), but now that we are older everything is working out perfectly. He is everything that I needed, wanted, & wished for. I am truly blessed to have him, and I can't wait to see how we continue our Life Well Lived... Together.


Thanks SO much to Neeley for participating this week. Having Neeley in MY life definitely makes it well lived and I'm thrilled that she has so many awesome things in her life.  Yay, Neeley!

Now, it's your turn!  Post 3-5 things that you think make your life well lived, and shoot Kelsey an email and let her know! 

June 21, 2011

Tuesday Tunes - The Trews "Friends and Total Strangers"

Today I have another edition of Tuesday Tunes for you!  The album that actually inspired me to start Tuesday Tunes is "21" by Adele...but I feel like I need to listen to that one a few more times to really be able to talk about it and give it the credit it deserves.

So today!  We will talk about yet another album out of our friendly nation to the north -- Canada!

Ever since I was introduced to this video (not on the album above):

...I have since acquired almost all of their discography.  They are that. good.

"Friends and Total Strangers" is an acoustic album, containing songs from albums such as "Hope and Ruin," "Den of Thieves," and "No Time for Later," as well as some newer songs written for the album. 

"Sing Your Heart Out" is one of the ones written for this acoustic session and it is amazing.  I tend to love musicians who actually PLAY INSTRUMENTS (imagine that in this autotuned society we live in!) and play them well and sound great live:

"I Can't Stop Laughing" and "Poor Ol' Broken Hearted" are also amazing, but my very favorite song on this album has become "Man of Two Minds" (also found on their "No Time for Later" LP).  I just think this song speaks to me because I've always believed that the human heart is capable of so much love...and just because you've chosen to love one person forever doesn't mean that you'll never fall in love with another person ever again.  It's about choice, but it's 100% possible to feel so much love for different people in our lives:

I HIGHLY recommend this album, as well as any of their others!  Happy Tuesday Tunes!

June 17, 2011

Fitness Friday!

(Don't you love how I'm suddenly assigning all these days? Tuesday Tunes...LWL Wednesday...now Fitness Friday?  Let's see how long any of them actually last.  But I do thrive on having structure, so maybe this is a good thing.  Anyway...)

Happy Friday, bloggers and readers!  How has your week been? 

Honestly, I feel like this week has kind of been a blur.  Some of you know about my...um...interesting Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, which included an unexpected 1am drive to downtown Dallas to make sure someone got home safely.  Guh.  Not the best thing to happen the very week I decide to start trying 6am workouts. 

But! I am happy to say that I did run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (Wednesday was rough!), and I did weight/cross-training on Tuesday and Thursday.  And I did make it to the gym at 6am on Monday, Thursday and today. 

Making sure that those little curve balls didn't throw off my goals was a pretty big step. And, even though I'm really worn out today, it's that productive, accomplished kind of tired. Woot!

I've been doing these early morning workouts with my Mom, who is kind of a beast.  She's never really considered herself a runner, though, so it's been something new and challenging for her, too (even though she still leaves me in her dust.  Darn long legs...which I did not inherit. How is that fair?).  Today she wanted to try an outside run, even though it was already 80 degrees at 6am and so humid it felt like we were drinking the air rather than breathing it.  But we did it!

It's hillier than I thought it was...so I'm glad that's why it felt hard and not because I was just struggling.  I was very proud of Mom, too!  I definitely earned that Starbucks skinny hazelnut latté I went and got after my run!

So! It's gonna be a good day.  I'm happy, I'm wearing green, and I'm excited about all the family time happening this Father's Day weekend. 

Have a great weekend!

June 15, 2011

Life Well-Lived, Vol. 4

Today is the fourth installment of "Life Well Lived" started by my pal Kelsey! Every Wednesday, she encourages everyone to blog about the things in life, small or huge or anywhere in between, that make you joyful, that make you thankful...anything that makes your life WELL LIVED.  Also, you can now follow @MyLifeWellLived on Twitter!  Follow and post with the hashtag #LifeWellLived and let's make this go viral!

Now for today's installment:

1. I had my picture taken with Champ, the (WORLD CHAMPION) Dallas Mavericks' mascot!

I went to a Dallas Mavericks game (my first!) with some friends, and we had GREAT seats thanks to my friend's company.  We had a blast, my husband saw us on television, and we managed to find Champ after the game and have our picture taken!  This picture makes me smile, because we were all laughing and having SO much fun doing something so juvenile as chasing down a mascot! 

2. I've had a "Classic Movie Moment" onstage captured on camera.

This is a still photograph from when I played Ulla in The Producers in a community theatre production.  Yes, that's me...no, that's not my real hair.  :)  I am slightly obsessed with this photo in its black white form, because I feel like it looks like it could be a still from an old, black & white movie.  What a great pose!!

3. I was my very best friend's Matron of Honor in her wedding.

Shelly has been my very best friend/evil twin since we were in the 3rd grade. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding on September 6th, 2008, and I was the Matron of Honor in her wedding on September 7th, 2010.  Our anniversaries are one day apart, and I just feel so blessed to have had a soul mate for so long and also share our most special days together. 

Now, it's your turn!  Post 3-5 things that you think make your life well lived, and shoot Kelsey an email and let her know!