Friday, October 14, 2011

Do you trust me? A RANT.

Tonight I went to see my brother, John Shannon, play at a bar in Pittsburgh.  Now if you know me at all, you know that I am a HUGE loyal supporter of my family and ALL of my siblings, but this is the thing.  If you call yourself my friend and you haven’t ever downloaded any of my brother’s music or been to see him in one of his MANY NYC or Pittsburgh (or L.A., etc) shows, I have one thing to say to you.  SHAME ON YOU.  
I get it.  You get the Facebook invite from me inviting you to John’s show.  You think it’s really sweet that I support my brother.  But you simply DON’T GET IT.  Now, I am a bulldog of a big sister, but I am also PICKY and have REALLY GOOD TASTE.  And if my brother’s music were a piece of shit, I wouldn’t ask you to go.  I would play out my sisterly duties with pride, in a more private manner.  But my brother’s music is f*cking brilliant.  It’s transcendent and complex and sometimes it ROCKS in the dirtiest of ways and sometimes it makes you want to sit outside in silence and stare at the sky for no reason.  And if you are a freaking human being on this planet, there are plenty of opportunities for both.  It’s UNIVERSAL and it’s AWESOME. 
Do you trust me?  Have I not given you good advice?  Have I not told you stories that make you laugh?  Have I not taught you something at some point in all of those classes at the studio or gym?  Please get off your ass.  Go to itunes.  And download some music by my brother, John Shannon.  Because even if he WEREN’T my little brother, I would be ranting just like this.  It’s THAT important, and it’s THAT good.  For real.  Stop thinking it’s cute that I’m a good sister.  And show up for art and creativity and brilliance.  NOW.
John Shannon and the Wings of Sound: Songs From The Desert River (his most recent)
John Shannon:  American Mystic
Waking Vision:  Of The Waking Vision
Waking Vision: Into High Selva
Waking Vision Trio: The Ancient Bloom
For real.  I am not messing around.  It’s because I love you and I want you to realize I’m not just posting shit for my brother.  I’m posting it because it’s freaking amazing.  

Go.  Now.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Ways to Avoid Creative Road Bumps!

Travel.  It makes me wanna blog.
Today, I’m on my way to Pittsburgh, and fall is HERE!  The trees have changed color a lot since my Amtrak ride back to NYC last week.  For those of you who don’t know, I have been going back and forth to Pittsburgh since August to work with the amazing choreographer Michael Rooney on ABC Family’s first movie musical, ELIXIR.  The movie stars the breathtaking Jane Seymour and the absolutely brilliant Chelsea Kane, as well as the gorgeous Sara Paxton, Drew Seeley, Tom Wopat, and Adrienne Bailon.  I have had an incredible time working with Michael, his assistant Danny, and the superteam of dancers on this project (including the stars- just WAIT until you see what they do!!), and feel so grateful to be part of it!  I can only imagine how I will cry and shriek when I see the finished product next spring- eeeee!  
Working as a choreographer for film = my Next Big Dream.  I love how the creative drawing board just expands when you think of camera angles, 360 shots, overhead shots...endless possibilities!!!  Especially when you have an upbeat and funky fun director like Sanaa Hamri, jumping around with childlike enthusiasm and spitting out ideas faster than you can possibly write them down!  It’s an adult playground.  Totally exciting, explosively creative and glamourous, but also challenging, fast-paced, and ever-changing.  Time is money.  You MUST plan well, but you also have to be flexible. You can’t be too attached to your material.  As with any major project, there have been changes, challenges and minor setbacks during our process with this film, but the art is in how you deal.  
I am not saying it's always easy.  But I AM saying there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind, when you feel that THE MAN is taking away your juju!!!  And I am going to give them to you!!!  Here are three ways to help you artfully and smoothly maintain your creative flow in times of challenge:

1.  TAKE A HINT FROM THE FOUR AGREEMENTS:  REMEMBER THAT IT'S NOT PERSONAL!   Especially with your art.  Yes, you may have to change your favorite piece of choreography to fit a dancer who has different abilities.  You may have to cut entire numbers to stay within the budget.  You may have to revisit the same number four, five, or ten times to tweak it exactly how Mr. TV Executive sees it in his mind (clearly I am using choreo references here because that's what I know best.  Feel free to apply it to your line of work!).  And it has nothing to do with you, your work, or your artistic integrity.  It’s how you fit into the bigger picture and how you roll with the punches (bonus points if you stay chipper all the while!).  The ability to withstand all of that BS and still be able to let the brilliance flow-- that is the gold.  And who knows... maybe you’ll even (gasp) GROW as a result!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am a creative genius."

2.  REMEMBER THAT RESISTANCE IS YOUR FRIEND.  Whaaa?  That's right.  Next time your budget for paint gets cut, your project deadline gets pushed up a week, or your lead gets sick on the day of the show, y'all, just take a second and BREATHE.  Feel what is happening in your body.  Fear, anger, and the desire to chain smoke or inhale a Cinnabon are common knee jerk reactions to those pesky road blocks that appear out of nowhere just before your big break.  It's just resistance.  DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU.  Take a few slow, deep breaths, clear your head and drink a glass of water, mentally remove the drama from your brain, and keep moving.  Sidenote: I highly recommend  Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art, a warm and humorous book which first delves into the yucky things that can freeze your artistic vision, and then teaches you how to snap the hell out of it. It’s an easy read, guaranteed!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am able."

3.  TOOT YOUR OWN HORN AND GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT!  There is no better way to get into that "I Can Do It NO MATTER WHAT" mentality than to remind yourself how far you have come!  I suggest you make a list of your biggest accomplishments and keep them where you can see them.  I keep my "As Seen In" graphic as my computer desktop image, not because I want everyone at Starbucks to see it, but to remind myself that I have accomplished things!  I have done this before!  I have succeeded in the past, and I can do it again.  Here's mine, and I highly recommend that you make yourself a flashy, pretty reminder for yourself!  Fun Affirmation:  "I am courageous!"

So there you go.  What do you think? How’s your grace under pressure?  Where do you feel inflexible or unwilling to let go?  What are your triumphs around this subject?  Leave a comment below and tell me where you excel, and where you fall apart!  Let’s help each other.  Can't wait to hear from you.
And if you liked this blog, hop on on over to my website and click "contact" to sign up for my mailing list!  Hope to hear from you soon!


Monday, September 26, 2011


Dear Pittsburgh,
I am in love with you.  You are my hometown.  You remind me of growing up, of Sunday dinners with Grandma, of capture the flag in the sweet height of summer, of my first love.  You remind me how special I am to be part of your legacy, how good it feels to bond with friends over great sports and conversation.  And it’s because I love you that I must tell you the truth:
You’re fat.
I tell you this because I am in love with you, because I want you to thrive and live and carry on the great traditions of our parents and theirs before.  But Pittsburgh, I just got back from the Giant Eagle.  And you’re fat.
I hear you in the aisles, shooting the breeze with your neighbor, blaming others for it.  You blame the economy for making quality food so expensive (while the truth is, quality food is a lot less expensive than triple bypass surgery and diabetes medication).  You stand in line at the deli and curse the heavens for only creating 24 hours in the day (because surely if there were 25, you would go to the gym).  You blame your children for taking up all of your time, thereby forcing you to pump all of your well-being energy into them and leave yourself bone dry and tired.  You even blame the Steelers for being such a damn good team that you HAVE to tailgate and drink beer and eat wings to show your Pittsburgh pride.  But the only one who is to blame, dear Pittsburgh, is YOU.  
I know you are probably getting defensive as you read this.  “She doesn’t have kids.  She’s a big shot New Yorker who left her beloved hometown behind as soon as she possibly could.”  I can hear you saying it.  And guess what, you’re right!  I don’t have kids yet.  I did leave town to pursue a career in the arts.  But I always come back.  I always do.  And I am here now, to bring you PERSPECTIVE and a slight smack on the ass.  I have a background in health and wellness.  I am a dancer and a certified fitness instructor, I am 35 years old and I look damn good.  And I am not fat.  But guess what?  I WAS.  And if it weren’t for the fact that I was planning the Baldwin High School reunion and wanted to look amazing for my Pittsburgh peeps, I might still be a size 12 instead of a Weight Watchers lifetime member.  But I made a choice.  I had something to prove.  And I am here to help you do the same.
Pittsburgh, I’m worried about you.  You are the salt of the earth, my family.  I want you to live long and feel great.  So I am challenging you to step up your game.  I am not going to try to make you all vegan like I aspire to be.  I am not going to tell you not to celebrate a Steelers victory at Primanti’s at 2am.  Because that is not my point.  I am here to tell you it’s EASY to make small changes that will prolong your life.  So for the next SEVEN weeks, here are seven minor adjustments I want you to try:
  1. IF you drink soda, switch from regular soda to diet.  If you already drink diet, switch to green tea.  You will get used to it and you can lose up to 15 pounds in a year just from making this minor adjustment.
  2. Switch from white to 100% whole wheat.  Bread, pita, pasta, all of it.  It doesn’t taste that different and you will trade in empty calories, starch and sugar for fiber, antioxidants, and 30 more nutrients.  
  3. Eliminate eating 3 hours before you go to bed.  When you eat before bed, your body has to use up all of the energy it usually uses to repair and restore your body during sleep to digest your food.  You will sleep better, if you go to bed on an empty stomach.  As my friend Ken always says, “Go to bed hungry, wake up skinny.”  Yes please!
  4.   Drink water!  It aids in digestion and keeps things moving internally... ahem.  Lubes up your system and makes your skin look sexy.  You want to aim for half of your body weight in ounces per day, so if you weigh 150 pounds, you want to go for 75 ounces of water, or about 9 8-ounce glasses a day.  An easy way to get a jump start is to drink a huge glass of water with a little lemon first thing in the morning, before your coffee, to jump start your system.  And speaking of coffee...
  5. STOP with the sugar and sugar substitutes in your coffee.  Try agave syrup or Stevia (a little goes a long way) if you need sweetener, and please throw that gross half and half in the trash.  Fat free skim milk or almond milk... much better.
  6. Move your freaking body.  ANYTHING, people.  You can fit in 100 crunches during a commercial break while you’re watching “Teen Mom”... throw on some tunes while you’re making dinner and move like Jagger.  And get out of breath.  You’re not going to die, I promise.  Do this a few times a day.  There IS time.  Bonus points if you get your kids to do this with you!
  7. And finally, do the 500 calorie countdown.  What is that, you ask?  It’s a fun little game I play with myself when I’ve been a little too indulgent, and it helps me feel better FAST!  Find 500 calories in your day that you do NOT need.  Here’s my example so far today:  I got home from the gym and tossed a Trader Joe’s dairy free/meat free burrito into the microwave.  I got out the tortilla chips to enjoy as a side because hey, it’s a theme!  Yummy.  But then I thought, NO!  I do not need to eat these chips!  I put a little soy cheese (don’t judge me) and some habanero lime salsa on top of the burrito and walked the hell away from the chips, saving me at LEAST 200 calories in mindless crunching.  Then, I headed to the Giant Eagle (the trip that inspired this whole blog).  I had to walk through the bakery, and sure enough, they were handing out free samples of some delicious looking chocolate-y cake-y thing with a piece of oreo on top.  I walked on by, kids.  Saved me at least 100 calories.  So now it’s 3pm and I have the rest of the day to bypass 200 more.  If you do this every day, you could save yourself one POUND per week.  It’s just as easy to pass on these little bites, licks, and tastes as it is to eat them without even knowing.
Please note, my dear Pittsburgh, that I’m not asking you to give up anything (except the sugar substitute).  It won’t cost you anything.  It won’t even take up more of your time.  But by the time I come back for Christmas, yinz will be feeling SO much better.  I promise.  Leave a comment below and let me know if you’re in, and I will support you!  
I love you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Adam Shankman, please pick me!

Y'all, it's been a minute.  We have been shooting a little ROAdy production called "Waiting for Shankman," a musical plea for Adam Shankman to put us in the ROCK OF AGES movie.  I am happy to share with you that it is HERE!

The really exciting part is that we've been picked up by and and we hope to go viral with this video!  Adam, if you're reading this blog, we're serious!  Put us in the movie!!!

Click to read about us on Playbill and Broadwayworld!

Let's make this happen!  You can help.  Here is the link to YouTube: Tweet it, Facebook it, send it to people, do whatever you can!  We want this to be huge!  Thanks so much to the awesome ROA fans out there and to everyone who is helping us in our plea!!

Here is a pic of me and my co-writer/directors, the amazing Josh Sassanella and J. Michael Zygo, with our storyboard.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Midnight Show

Hi!  I have been remiss from the blogosphere for a while, as my shiny new Dance Captainly duties have taken me away from blogspot for a minute.  But I do appreciate your checking in!

I asked and you answered, and today's topic of blogification is (drumroll please)... THE MIDNIGHT SHOW IN SAN FRANCISCO!  A few of you wanted to know how it went, what it felt like, etc.  Well, luckily for you, I had my video camera with me that night, and I have put together a little VLOG, if you will....  I started recording random stuff after our 7pm show.  It's important to know that we had ALREADY done a show that evening, and had two shows the following day!!!  Why is it important, you ask?  Well, so we can feel like rockstars for doing it.  Just kidding.  I'm a swing.  I did one of those five shows.  My life is easy.

Big props to our awesome cast, band, management, and especially crew, as they had to load out after that last show.  Love you guys.

Enjoy the video!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Faithfully Yours

Well my friends, thanks for hanging in there after my last cliffhanger post!  We made it through the L.A. experience (separate blog on that to come- it deserves its own post) and came out clean on the other side.  We are currently rocking in beautiful Costa Mesa, CA, and things are clearer.  Much much clearer.  
My last post spoke cryptically about change and decisions and faith, etc... well, I can now tell you what's going down.
For most of you who follow all things Rock of Ages, you know that two weeks ago, we lost Joey Calveri to the Wonderland machine.  Joey's departure was the first of several on the horizon, and while we celebrate his Broadway debut and the addition of the crazy talented (and super fun) Justin Sargent to our band of leather-clad thieves, it was the catalyst for much more change.  This week we lose our dear, dear Rebecca Faulkenberry and Mig Ayesa, who are jet-setting back to NYC to re-open ROCK OF AGES on Broadway (March 24 at the Helen Hayes, people!  Get your tix!) along with our own Dan Domenech.  As you can imagine, it is a huge loss, to lose two of your principal actors on the same day.  Tears are already welling up as we anticipate their departure next Monday, and as I reminisce on the past six months, I feel so grateful to have been part of the original clan, this family that found each other in the name of rock, on the dusty road, on a wobbly contract (sorry SETA but let's call a spade a spade).  Bound together by the HEART that drives this show and the support of the creative team and producers, we find ourselves teetering on the brink of change.
New on the scene this week are the wickedly talented Elicia MacKenzie and Peter Deiwick as Sherrie and Stacee Jaxx (respectively).  They come from us directly from the Toronto cast of ROA, and having seen them in rehearsal this week, they are going to be phenomenal.  I am really excited to work with them both, which leads me to my next big reveal.
After much reflection (and many conversations with both agent and husband), I have decided to sign on for another six months.  I am very excited to share that I will be taking over as Dance Captain as of April 11 (I can’t even talk about losing Lindsay yet so I won’t), and the three of us felt it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  I am SO excited to wear this new hat.  I am also nervous, as it’s a huge responsibility.  But I am up for it, I am ready for it, and I am really looking forward to it!  Of course, for all of my peeps at home in NYC, this means I will NOT be returning to teach for a little while longer.  I know you understand why I made the choice I did, and I am ever grateful for your support in this journey.  I love you and miss you, and look forward to seeing you again after the summer.  I know you are well taken care of, as I love getting your updates and keeping up with you on Facebook.
So, things are still shifting into place, but they have a concrete destination at the moment.  New people, new cities, new adventures are on the horizon.  I am grateful.  I do struggle daily with the idea of being away from my husband for another few months.  But, as my post-ROA goal is to get pregnant, I am embracing this opportunity to tour the USA and absorb all it has to offer.  I am blessed with the best husband in the world, who supports my dream as if it were his own.  I recently expressed my feelings to a close friend about how I feel like people judge me for choosing to be apart from him during our first year of marriage, and she beautifully pointed out that it is a wonderful gift to spend our first year of marriage exploring so many cities across America together.  Thank you Erin for that gift of perspective.  Next stop on our extended honeymoon: San Fran!
Well, lights out for me, as we have a put-in tomorrow for Peter and Elicia and I want work out and grab a green juice at 118 Degrees beforehand!  Speaking of which, I am reading The Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr at the moment, and I am INSPIRED to change my eating habits!  Do yourself a favor and pick up this book.  Carr (a cancer survivor who also penned Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips) is witty, sassy, and well-versed in doing a body good.  AND she mentions intenSati in her book... love it!
Much love to you today and always!  We gotta have faith!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Faith: Between The Rock and a Hard Place

Greetings from Seattle, a breathtaking city with great food, fresh air, and friendly people!  This is the first city in a while where I haven't been onstage at all, and although I definitely miss it this week, I am also grateful for it, because I'm trying out some new things with my diet (I haven't had alcohol since Feb 1 or meat since Feb 3) and processing some new energetic goodies I picked up at my Oneness retreat last weekend.  Physically, I have allowed myself to slow WAY down this week.  Instead of blazing calories aggressively on the elliptical at 140 beats per minute, I have enjoyed some fantastic pilates and yoga classes, and even spent one gorgeous morning not working out at all (gasp!) and talking about The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts with two strangers in the hot tub.  And despite the seemingly lazier week, I am still satisfactorily sore.  Yay!

On the work front, the foundation is shifting, and there is a lot of change in the air.  Not surprisingly as a result, there is crazy energy and deafening speculation buzzing around our teased little wigged heads.  Several people are experiencing sleepless or restless nights.  Emotions are running high.  I will refrain from commenting on specifics, but the show, she is a-changin'.  Add in the pressure of the impending HUGE Los Angeles opening next week and the Broadway re-opening next month, and you have a LOT of peeps experiencing simultaneous growing pains and succumbing to the mercy of the unknown.  It is both inevitable and uncomfortable (but please make no mistake, my friends:  We are still ROCKING 8 shows a week- it's our favorite thing!).

When I graduated from high school, I received one of those long-winded cards spilling with poetic advice on how to live life post-cap-and-gown. I cut out the following passage and committed it to memory: "When you have to make a decision, make the best decision possible in the moment, then forget about it. The moment of absolute certainty never arrives." 17 years later, I still come back to this quote when I'm feeling indecisive.  And last weekend at my retreat, I learned that the desire for certainty is one of those pesky little cravings that keeps us in a pattern of suffering (as a side note, the craving for variety does too). Crap. I'm suffering! Waaaah!
When faced with the threat of (or opportunity for) change, I squirm like a four year old in Latin Mass.  Blame it on my Taurean nature, my craving for significance, or fear of the unknown, I want to always know that I am in exactly the right place, taking the best option for my long term benefit, and in control.  This is why I don't like flying, skiing, or horseback riding- activities that remind me I am small, insignificant, and definitely not in control.  This is also why I quit performing after September 11 to become a General Manager.  I wanted certainty in a world that was falling apart.  But, like they say, the only real certainty in life is change.  So here I am, and here we are, a band of guitar shredders and headbangers and pole vixens, sitting in the not-knowing like a dirty diaper, and all we can do is shrug our shoulders, shake it off, and wait, together.  No amount of speculation will satisfy.  We just have to (freaking) wait and see how it plays out.

At the risk of sounding cryptic, there are decisions to be made.  Some are my choice, and some are out of my hands.  So, since I don't have absolute control (and never will), I choose to have faith.  Faith that the outcome will be for my highest good and the good of all others.  Faith that I will be happy and satisfied.  Faith that the lessons of 2011 will strengthen and feed my soul, and feed the souls of my friends.  And yes, faith in the Divine Hand of God.  I am really tired of trying to muscle through without THAT help.  And the Big Guy knows I have certainly tried!  No matter what, in the end, things work out.  They always have, and they always will.

I leave you tonight with the question:  where in your life have you forgotten that faith is an option?  My friend and life coach Jo taught me that life begins when you embrace fear and uncertainty, and leap with abandon into the abyss.  THAT is when you grow, and learn, and experience joy like never before.  I look forward to the day I can share with you the questions and circumstances that inspired this blog entry (God I hope it's soon!!!).  Until then, much love and faith to you!  We are in this love together!

Supporting you,

Friday, January 14, 2011

"I don't know where I'm goin'..."

It's sunny and 60 degrees in Orlando, on the Friday of our one-week stay in this Disney-fied Florida town.  I spent Monday at Epcot, Wednesday at Islands of Adventure, and today, when most of my fun-lovin' friends hopped the shuttle to the Magic Kingdom, I stayed put.

Don't get me wrong: I love the parks.  The Harry Potter ride was AWESOME.  And today, upon checking Facebook, when I saw my fellow castmates' insta.gram photos with Mary Poppins and other characters, I had a teensy flash of FOMO.  But all in all, I'm glad I stayed home.

It's no secret that we have the best job in the world.  We get to travel to the most interesting, metropolitan, fabulous cities and rock out for money.  We stay in great hotels and people throw us parties.  We sign autographs and wear fake eyelashes and bevel for pictures at the stage door.  But sometimes, it's necessary to take some space.  Hence, it's 4:54pm, I am still in my pajamas, and I haven't seen another human being or uttered a word today.

When you haven't taken alone time for a while, it can be a bit scary.  I don't do idle time well. My learned belief, most likely picked up somewhere along my childhood or adolescence, is that busy equals important and idle equals lazy.  But as I've grown older and started meditating, I've learned that idle can be healing, nurturing, and insightful.  Here is the insight I've gained today:

Since the turn of the new year, I have felt a new urgency to plan my year, to trim the fat in body, mind, and relationships, to organize everything from my Kindle books to my suitcase.  However, with all the excitement of warm weather and water rides, I haven't taken action, and to me, it feels like I've been sitting in a dirty diaper.  Enter today's Operation Solitude.  Now mind you, I haven't taken great strides today.  On the contrary, I realized that my desire to compartmentalize everything is simply a diversion from what I really need to do this year:  have faith, and wait.  There are a LOT of "I don't knows" happening in my mind: 
* I want a Broadway gig so I can have my dream AND my husband in the same city, but I don't know what will happen when my time with ROA is over and I have to start at square one. 
*I want to make a difference and help people live in their greatness but I don't know if I want to teach fitness anymore (I am super scared to publish this fact, but I hope you understand that I am growing and changing). 
*I want to have a baby but I don't know how long it will take to get pregnant, or if I will make a good mom. 
*I want to experience spiritual growth but I don't know how I will feel after attending my next big Oneness Intensive conference. 

Note and full disclosure:  Any of the aforementioned "I don't knows" can be replaced with "I'm afraid that".  Yes, I'm on to myself.  Fear is a bitch.

What became clear today is that, much to my chagrin, no amount of de-cluttering, label-making, or re-folding will help me know any faster (even though it did feel good to de-clutter my follow list on Twitter.  Just sayin').  Bottom line:  I just have to (freaking) wait.  Take it day by day.  Stay honest and positive, do my best, put my intentions on loudspeaker, and have faith.  So, without the "I don't knows," (and "I"m afraid thats"), here's what I'm left to blast to the blogosphere and beyond:

*I want a Broadway gig so I can have my dream and my husband at the same time.  ROA at the Helen Hayes sure would be sweet! ;)
*I want to make a difference and help people live in their greatness.
*I want to have a baby.
*I want to experience spiritual growth. 

Now that feels a little better.  At least I know what I want.  And no, I don't know in what form they will appear.  But that, my friends, is not up to me.