Strangers who are mean to me are basically kicking a puppy

I like to think I’m a pretty nice person. I try to find the positive side of just about everything. It is known that I have a penchant for loving terrible things. It’s part of my charm, according to Katie. I love dogs and cats and babies and even adult humans, though the consensus seems to be that adult humans are the root of all the problems.

And yet…

Strangers scream obscenities and call me a fat ass across a busy parking lot because my husband stopped to let me out of the car in front of the grocery store.

Strangers in a movie theater call me horrible names and repeatedly tell me I need to be put in my place because I politely asked them to quiet down in a movie theater.

Strangers on the internet call me names and judge me without knowing anything about me.

Friends say things to me or about me that are hurtful. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Sometimes to my face and sometimes behind my back.

Adult humans are constantly breaking my heart.

But I’ve survived heartache before. When your heart is openly exposed on your sleeve, it tends to take a beating. Mine is no exception. But I’ve learned to manage the bruises.

And with that, I wanted to show you guys my process. Because I know I’m not alone in experiencing hurt. I know that many of you deal with so much more than a few spiteful strangers proverbially spitting on you. And I wanted to share how I deal. And how I continue to stay positive despite the bullies and meanies that I occasionally engage with. It’s a process, to say the least — and one that’s not without a pity party for one. But it works for me.

Survive

The first step for me starts while I’m dealing with the initial incident. My body takes over, so my brain busies itself by running simulations to help choose the safest route for getting out of a given situation. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t always listen to my brain. Sometimes fight wins in the fight or flight response, and I yell back. In the most recent conflict, I panicked and froze and eventually took flight instead of going for a fight. I’m not mad about it.

Calm myself down

The rush of adrenaline that spikes, when someone is verbally accosting me, can take its toll on my ability to think. I try not to do anything while I’m in this phase. Instead, I’ll sit in my car or away from others and work things out in my head to remind myself that I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m away from the conflict. Sometimes I’ll call Brian, or I’ll tell you guys about it in my Instagram stories.

Get angry

Once I’ve calmed myself enough to rationally think about whatever it was that happened, I usually get angry.

I start thinking things over in my head. Replaying the situation on repeat, wishing I had said X, Y, or Z. Trying to understand how someone could say whatever it was they said, especially if it was a stranger who knows absolutely nothing about me. I may even hide in my car or house and scream at the top of my lungs to let the emotions building up inside of me out. Anger is something I understand. But taking that anger out on another person, especially one you know little to nothing about? I can’t fathom how anyone can do or say cruel things to strangers.

Allow myself to be sad

It takes me time to get over the hurt. For long-term heartbreak, it can be weeks or months or even years. For a slew of slurs? It may take hours or days. For me, it’s kind of a grieving process. I don’t know what exactly I’m grieving when someone verbally assaults me, but it gives me time to let the insults wash through me. The more hurtful, the longer it takes. My eyes live on the verge of tears, but we already know I’m a pretty regular crier as it stands. Brian already calls it my superpower – just like the Hulk, but instead of being always angry, I’m always ready to cry.

Limit social media

If you notice me going dark on social media, it’s likely because I’m taking time for myself. I’m allowing my heart to recuperate without adding the stress and expectation of social media. There’s no contract that says I have to be “on” all the time, and when I turn myself “off” I can recharge in a way that doesn’t add to my anxieties. I think we all need a little bit more of this, honestly.

Power up

I have a Power-Up playlist on YouTube that re-energizes me when I need a pick-me-up. It has empowering songs, like “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. It has happy songs like, “Can’t Fight the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. And it has songs that just bring me personal joy, like “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. It’s a fun collection of party pop, alterna-rock, Disney songs, and musical numbers that makes me ridiculously happy. I also use this to rev myself up before a show. It’s amazing what music can do.

Remember the good in humans

You guys are pretty much the best, did you know that? If you’re reading this, you’re probably already on my list of favorite people. My village lifts me up so hard. You remind me that for as many mean people in this world, there are a hundred or even a thousand times as many kind, generous souls ready and willing to share and spread joy. To love. To pass good vibes on to everyone around you. Keep doing that. Because the world needs more people like you.

How do you stay positive when people are mean? What are some of your coping mechanisms for heartache? Let me know in the comments, because I’m always looking for new ways to stay positive.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Some people make me feel uncomfortable

I am often surprised by that which makes me awkward. JK guys. I am the queen of awkward. For all my self-love and confidence, I also know what drops my confidence like it’s hot. I am also acutely aware of things that make me uncomfortable, and I feel like I can’t be alone in this, guys.

As someone who genuinely loves people and surrounds herself with them whenever possible (hello extrovert life), it’s hard to find people that truly make me uncomfortable. I talk to strangers at the grocery store. I get in full-on conversations about Disney with my dental hygienist and physical therapist. So really this list only has a few offenders.

Door-to-door salespeople

Yes, even you, adorable Girl Scout peddling your caramel delights and shortbreads

I really don’t like it when people come to the front door unannounced. Unless you are like family or one of my friends who is like family (at which point, cue DJ Tanner shouting “It’s always open!”), I get a surprising amount of anxiety. Maybe it stems from my very first night alone in our house…or my inability to easily, breezily say “no thank you,” but I cannot handle people at the door.

If Brian (reminder: Brian is an introvert) is home, he is the one to answer the door, because I would much rather hide on the floor, in the back of the house than answer the door.

When I’m home alone, or I’m caught off guard…Or worse, sitting right there with the curtains open…I open the door to find everything from teenagers selling coupon books or kids selling candy to guys wearing neon yellow vests asking me to show them my ComEd bill. It’s really hard to say no to any of them, but the pushy ones (always adults) don’t just take no for an answer. They keep coming at you with details. They compliment your hair or your dog. And distracting you from saying, “goodbye. No thank you.”

So I printed out a sign and taped it to my front door. Because I’m classy. (Mostly because I’m a terrible decision maker and couldn’t find the right sign that compelled me to pay $15, and until I do that, my free print out will do).

Police officers

Especially police officers in cars that are behind me while driving

It’s no secret that I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the law (all driving related, obvi). And maybe it was that last speeding ticket that really did me in because that police officer was terrifying. But I get SO. MUCH. ANXIETY. when I’m driving and a police officer pulls behind me on the road. I’m just waiting for the lights to flicker and the siren to sound and then I have to come up with an excuse for why I was doing whatever it was they pulled me over for in the first place.

Even when the siren sounds or the lights flicker and I KNOW it wasn’t me (because I’m a surprisingly good driver now), that doesn’t stop the angry tummy of anxiety from greeting me with open arms like a long lost friend.

The other day I was driving home, and I noticed a police officer behind me. And he kept driving behind me as we moved into the next town over…and I was just like, fuck it. And I made my escape. I turned onto the tollway (an unnecessary route for me to drive the few miles to my house, but for me, it was well worth the 70 cents to avoid any further anxiety from being tailed by Chief Wiggum for another three miles).

This morning? Driving Brian to the train, and I drove through a yellow light right behind a police officer. I immediately pulled into the bank on the other side of the light just to let the police officer get a good mile ahead of me before continuing on my route. Illogical, maybe. Unnecessary, definitely. But my peace of mind is important, guys.

Okay gang, now that I’ve rambled on about people that make me feel uncomfortable, let me know in the comments what types of people make you uncomfortable? Or are you an impenetrable fortress of comfort and security?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

High-maintenance birthday princess

Guys, it’s May 1st. Which means several things, but mostly, to me, it means the month of my birth. I am finally 100% owning the crap out of my high-maintenance needs as a birthday girl (because this is how I intend to combat birthday anxiety).

Every year on the first day of May, I get inundated with magical emails that offer me free meals, coupons, and gifts for shopping and dining at my favorite businesses.

a list of restaurants and stores that offer free birthday coupons in your email for signing up.

And I am reminded that I’m soon to be another year older.

Another year has gone by in which I haven’t accomplished every goal and dream under the sun. Another year in which I am waiting for X or Y or Z.

And fuck that, you guys. I am done worrying about what hasn’t happened. I am living for what I’m doing right now.

I am so over thinking about what HASN’T come yet. Because it’s time to celebrate what has happened and what is happening. A year ago, I was just on the cusp of something magical — an adventure in improvisation and what a wild ride it’s been.

I’m going to celebrate like a rockstar this year. Because it’s been full of my favorite things. My friends. My family. My love. Improvisation. Writing. Reading. Learning. Dreaming. Disney World (thrice since my last birthday, you guys. THRICE!). Traveling. Adventure. PUPPY. 35 has been good to me.

So cheers to the last month of 35. I’m going to celebrate the crap out of myself this month. I’m going to own my self-dubbed high-maintenance birthday princess title and use all the birthday coupons. I’m going to have fun and enjoy every slice of life that I can grab.

And I intend to welcome 36 in the best way possible. In Ireland. In a castle. Spending my entire day as a princess, obvi. We’ve booked ourselves two nights in a (presumably haunted, because why not, right?) medieval castle B&B/hotel so I can wake up in a castle and go to sleep in a castle on my birthday. It doesn’t get much more high maintenance than that, amiright? So get excited about the coming adventures, because I know I am.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Are you a birthday prince or princess? Do you celebrate a birthday week or month? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Spoiler-free Avengers: Endgame review

I. Am. Shook.

I’m going to keep this review short and sweet and omg-it’s-so-hard-but-Ima-do-it-anyway free of spoilers. If you haven’t already seen End Game, get thee to a theater ASAP…but it would definitely be better if you’ve already seen the first 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I recommend this order). The way End Game ties them all together in this beautifully composed goodbye letter is more than incredible…it’s breathtaking. 20 minutes ago, I bought tickets to see it again. In 20 minutes. So as I quickly draft this review , I’m also preparing myself to see it again, knowing now what I didn’t know last night.

Avengers: Endgame Black Widow

The best way I can sum this up for you without spoilers is in a listicle. So here goes: 8 things to know before watching Avengers: Endgame

  1. There is no room for bathroom breaks. Ignore the articles that tell you you don’t need to see certain scenes. They are wrong. There is nothing you purposely want to miss. So drink minimally and slowly, Avenger.
  2. The beginning packs a punch. We ate in a dine-in theater and I was crying into my fish taco within seconds. To be fair, I immediately knew what was coming thanks to one of Brian’s many predictions that became too real.
  3. The first half is a beautifully weaved build-up to some of the most epic movie scenes I’ve ever witnessed.
  4. Bring tissues. For real. Even Brian teared up a bit. I, the emotional basketcase that I am cried A LOT. Some sad. Some happy. Some just emotional. I won’t tell you whether there was more happy or sad. Because spoilers. Just know that if you cry, you will cry.
  5. If you haven’t seen all or most of the MCU movies, you might want to go back and watch them first. Or wait until the crowds subside. This movie is probably for everyone, but OMG it is MADE for the fans.
  6. You know nothing. Like Jon Snow, you probably think you know everything, but you know nothing. So several of Brian’s predictions came to be true. A couple of mine may have. But neither of us expected how this plot was going to play out.
  7. Be on the lookout for the ultimate girl-power moment. And that’s all I’m going to say.
  8. Go see it as soon as you can. Because the night is dark and full of spoilers. But you won’t find those spoilers here.
AvengersEndgame Poster

Avengers: Endgame

The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured the Avengers ranks compels the remaining Avengers to take one final stand in Marvel Studios’ grand conclusion to twenty-two films, “Avengers: Endgame.”

Kevin Feige produces “Avengers: Endgame,” and Anthony and Joe Russo are the directors. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Trinh Tran, Jon Favreau and Stan Lee are the executive producers, and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

7 things you can do right now to celebrate earth day

Happy Earth Day friends!⁣

In the last few months, I’ve been making a conscious effort to be a better human. I’ve been trying to use fewer plastics, buy less, recycle more, reuse, repurpose, or upcycle items, and so much more.

When I do anything, I try to think about the implications of my actions on this planet we call home. I don’t know what clicked, but something got me to expand my awareness of our world. And it makes me feel good to be doing something. Brian and I often have extensive conversations about the changes I’m making in our lives, and most of the time he’s on board. When he’s not, it’s because he has come with a counter argument that is well-researched or we look it up together. We’re constantly learning and growing from each other, and it’s magic.

In honor of this very important day of celebrating the earth, I implore you to do one or more of the following things:⁣

1. Recycle your old cell phones. If they’re sitting in a drawer and you’re never going to use them again, it’s time to pack them up and give them them back to the universe and not dumping them in a landfill, where electronics remain the leading cause of toxic waste. ⁣My new phone arrives today, and I’ll be sending my old one back to Sprint to refurbish for someone else.

2. Reuse grocery bags. Instead of accepting more bags from stores and then throwing them away, reuse the ones you already have. Or pull out those dusty promotional grocery bags you get just about everywhere these days and use those. ⁣

3. Minimize your use of single-use plastics. Instead of buying bottled water, fill a reusable water bottle or straw cup. Stop accepting plastic straws with your drinks. Bring your own reusable cup to Starbucks. Use real silverware, dishes and cloth napkins🍽. Start using bar soap without plastic packaging instead of liquid soap in a single-use container. ⁣

4. Donate! Before you Konmarie everything into the trash, consider whether it’s something that someone else might use or buy. Then donate it to your local thrift store or an organization that provides items to those in need. ⁣

5. Consider buying used. Instead of adding to the consumption of new products, buy something that is new to you. I’ve been thrifting a lot lately, and not only has it been saving my wallet, I feel better knowing that someone else’s trash became my treasure. ⁣

6. Go paperless. Call up your financial institutions and other companies and request digital bills and statements. It also makes for fewer stacks of paper piling up on flat surfaces in your home!⁣

7. Plant a tree. Or flowers. Or something. It’s all a part of the circle of life. Don’t you want to bee (pun intended) a part of it?⁣

What other things can you do or are you doing to help the planet? Let me know in the comments!⁣

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things to do in Chicago this spring: City adventures

Greetings fellow adventurers, world travelers, or Chicago natives. Despite the snow-covered flowers from this past weekend, spring — I promise you — is here.

With spring, comes the end of hibernation (or Snowbird) season. And if you’re like me (and the 547 cookies I ate this winter — not counting the two I just had for lunch), you’re probably ready to step out and get active. And I’ve got a list of some super fun things you can check out if you’re a Chicagoland local or considering an exciting visit to the Windy City (highly recommended now that winter is *hopefully* over…just in case, bring a coat. And a light jacket. And an umbrella. And maybe hand warmers…).

Some of these things will help you with that whole getting active thing. Others may deter whatever health resolutions you made for 2019. But it’s fine. Walk it off. Without further ado, here are some of my top picks for things you can do right now (or like, really, really soon) in Chicago(ish). I’ll even break it up for you into two parts: city adventures and suburban treks (coming next week – make sure you’re subscribed). Try both. I promise the suburbs don’t bite. And neither does the city.

City adventures

360 Chicago ($20-$30)

Chrissy in a rainbow dress on the TILT at 360 Chicago
You better believe I dressed to match the TILT, you guys. Dress: Amazon $15; Crinoline: Amazon: $13

I recently attended a sweet media preview at the skyscraper formerly known as Hancock (now officially known by its address, 875 N. Michigan — but like most things in Chicago, we call it what we want because we don’t like change). 360 Chicago is what you get when you ascend the elevator to the 94th floor — a panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan, complete with a bar and cafe, activities and entertainment (including yoga!), and my favorite part, the TILT thrill ride.

TILT is a moving window pane that literally tilts you out at a 30 degree angle, 1000 feet over Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile). It’s pretty freaking awesome. I’ve been on it about ten times and probably would have kept going if they hadn’t kicked me off to make way for more people. Tickets to the observation deck are about $20 (buy online in advance to save a few bucks) and $8 extra for the TILT experience (WORTH IT).

Djembe! The Show ($39-$53)

Recently making its U.S. tour debut in Chicago, this interactive storytelling experience is EVERYTHING. First and foremost, this show is a drum-focused musical performance. But it’s so much more than that. Cletus and I had the pleasure of attending a media preview for the show and oh boy did we have a fantastic time.

Djembe! drums in the Apollo Theater lobby
These drums were so much fun to listen to and play with!

Each seat is equipped with a djembe drum because you are a part of the show. The performers will guide you in an interactive drum performance that will leave you breathless (and probably with slightly sore arms unless you’ve been working out all winter — I clearly haven’t).

The empty Djembe! stage at the Apollo Theater
The stage at the Apollo

In addition to the incredible collaborative drumming, there is a beautiful story weaved throughout the show that focuses on the positive and uplifting side of the history, music, and influence of the djembe drum. The music is inspiring, and the storytelling is amazing. I cried. Of course. Djembe! is playing at the Apollo Theater through June 2. Tickets are $39-$53.

She the People

Not sure if you know this about me, but I’ve been studying comedy at The Second City Training Center in Chicago. It’s been a wild ride to be sure, and I am loving every second of it. Part of the ride includes seeing lots of comedy shows, and She the People is truly the best show that I’ve seen at The Second City. I’ve seen it twice, and I’m planning to go again. That’s how good it is.

I laughed. I cried (there are some real moments in here that really spoke to me). I related. It is so freakin’ relatable. It’s feminism with a side of laughter. It’s smartly written and super funny. I only cried like twice. If you’re a woman. If you love a woman or women. This all-female cast sketch show is for you. If you’re a He-man woman-hater, you may want to sit this one out. Go see Djembe again. Or one of the other dozen or so shows playing at The Second City every night. She the People plays Thursday through Sunday evenings in the UP Comedy Club. Tickets are $26-$36.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the city in Spring?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to be a beautiful woman

  1. Be kind. Even to abhorrent individuals who will try to bring you down.
  2. Be able to rise above anyone who tries to tell you that you can’t play on the playground.
  3. Have hope. Because hope makes the world a brighter, more beautiful place.
  4. Know that your face is beautiful because it is uniquely yours. And sometimes you might wear makeup because it’s fun to play with. And sometimes you might not because you don’t feel like you need it or because you’re tired. Or sick. Or you want to see the lines that travel across your face like a map to every emotion you’ve ever had.
  5. Be a feminist. If you want. It’s not required. We’re not pushy around here.
  6. Be angry when you’re angry. You’re allowed to have emotions.
  7. Say what you feel. No one knows what’s happening inside your head or heart until you tell them.
  8. Be you. Always. Unapologetically.
  9. Wear what makes you happy. Allow yourself to be comfortable without worrying what other people think.
  10. Love yourself.
  11. Listen to yourself.

Now, just for funsies, in the comments, tell me at least one (but if you can tell me three, tell me three!) thing you love about yourself right now.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Disney adventure in ride photos

I’ve taken the liberty of downloading those bad boys from my last trip (with the indomitable Cletus, who also joined us for the Disney Wojcation in 2017) and placing them here for you to laugh at (or ridicule — either way, I’m going to assume you’re laughing with us…whether or not you are).

You can tell a lot about a person by the photos they take when they’re on a ride. Luckily, because I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder, I get to keep and cherish all of the ride photos I’ve been on in the last year with Memory Maker.

Cletuses requested approval of any images that went into the video, and he agrees that these are some amazing photos (which is great, because I really didn’t want to have to edit each one with a Mickey Mouse emoji over his face). I have no contractual obligation to the other people in the pictures, so please, also enjoy the ones that made me laugh without their prior written approval. (If you are one of the people in these photos 1. I’m sorry and 2. I’m sorry).

When I was little, I used to count how many rides we got to go on in a day like it was a gigantic feat. Now with the Fast Pass system, Cletus and I are able to double the amount of rides we can get on in a day. And it made for some fun photo ops.

Chrissy and Cletus doing a pose on Expedition Everest
Yes, we rode all the big rides several times on a 5-day trip. We are masters of the Fast Pass+ system. One day, we’ll share our secrets. One day.

Without further ado, I present to you…

How to look awesome (or terrible) in Disney World ride photos

What do you like to do for ride photos (whether they’re at Disney, Six Flags, or another theme park with this option?)

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A playful year of fun and magic

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know I’m not a fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. A few years ago, I even came up with a monthly list of ways to dominate next year without a typical resolution, which I continually utilize as a guide for success.

Now a lot of people who don’t do traditional resolutions like to choose a grounding word that they use to guide them through the year. I’m not that type of girl. I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt gal, myself. Instead, I choose to label my year as it begins to play out or even at the end of the year. And this year was so perfect, you guys. I mean, not everything goes according to plan and things change and resolutions are hard to follow, but wrapping up your year with a bit of positive energy never hurt anyone.

And so I thought I’d tell you how I categorize my years.

In previous years, I’ve had The Experimental Year, a year of trying different stuff in the world of dating and boys, which was also the year that ended in a chance meeting with a handsome Irishman at a bar. I’ve had the Storytelling Year, in which I asked myself, “Will this make a good story in the morning?” and if the answer was yes, I did it, regardless of whether it was a “good” or “bad” idea. I’ve had good years and weird years and even bad years (like the Year I Didn’t Feel Good Enough; though I also came away smarter and more ready to tackle the world than ever before). And I always try to find the positive spin to the end of the year instead of wishing it away like just another fucking zit. (Side note: I hesitated in linking the aforementioned piece because there was a surprising amount of backlash to it. And that backlash made me want to stop writing, but I won’t self-censor any longer because that post wasn’t specifically about 2016. It was about every year.)

I take the biggest changes, most exciting adventures, and my highlight reel and try to find an underlying theme. This year started shaping itself before I even realized it was shaping. And it all started with a fake resolution.

I play games

At the beginning of this year, I thought I’d be cheeky and come up with a ridiculous New Year’s resolution. I made three. Two of which I’ll actually hit. 

  1. Play 365 games
  2. Play 100 DIFFERENT games (so that some of those 365 could be repeats)
  3. Play at least 25 different games that we own and have never played

Number one…that one is probably not going to happen. Unless we can play like 200 games in the next 3 days. Doubtful. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Number two…I have six more games to play. MUCH more doable.

Number three…DONE. Well, at least we made it through several of our untouched boxes (of course, we also bought a few new games…)

Silly resolution aside, gaming was a good start to a truly magical year.

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I played in a Dominion Tournament at GenCon. I lost, but I had lots of fun!

I play with video

I’ve been dabbling with some different video styles on YouTube. I started a few things that could absolutely become the first of their own series (C-Rex Adventures, 60 Seconds of Chrissy), but we’ll have to see where 2019 takes us! It’s all in good fun which, for me, is super important. I can’t take myself too seriously, guys.

T-rex costume reaches for a ball at the bowling alley

I play dress up

In March, I took on something called The Disneybound Challenge. Every march, an Instagrammer/Blogger runs an Instagram photo challenge for people who DIsneybound (for those of you not in the know, this means dressing like Disney characters, something I apparently have a knack for. I nailed it for 31/31 days and continued to play dress up throughout the year (today, I’m wearing an outfit inspired by Moana’s Hei Hei).

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The "buttons" are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

This is a Disneybound of Olaf. The “buttons” are actually Olaf disney trading pins.

I play pretend

In April, I began training at The Second City Training Center. In March, I’ll finish a year of improvisation and “graduate” from the A-E improv program at SCTC. Since August, I’ve performed in eleven shows (all student shows, but performances on Second City small stages nonetheless), with at least seven more shows before March comes to an end. When you’re improvising, you’re basically doing what small children do in free play — you make up stories. Sometimes you’re the mom. Sometimes you’re the baby. Sometimes you’re an accountant named Stan. But always, you should be having fun playing with your castmates and classmates.

Level D show photo from Second City Training Center Chicago

These crazy kids (a few of my SCTC loves are missing from this photo) give me life, you guys. This is one of the best things I’ve done for myself. And I’ve been saying that a lot lately.

I play house

Sometimes, I even pretend to be a grown up with my Grown Up. We have a really neat house that I have spent a lot of time in this year (thanks to the job quitting and the new puppy). I may make a terrible housewife, and I’m a horrible housekeeper, but I am good at playing house. You know. Pretending to be good at those things. On social media. And when we host parties. But definitely not in real life. There are rooms in my house where the clutter goes to die. I’m trying to fix that, but it’s a lot harder to get rid of clutter than I thought.

 

 

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I play with my hair

After years of planning and scheming, Kaitlyn and I finally took the plunge and dyed my hair hot pink. (Kaitlyn is my incredible stylist. She’s pure magic). We started with a super sweet gentle pink, and now it’s this hot pink, bold AF shade that I cannot get enough of. I’m never* looking back.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

This poor man. I fangirled John Grogan so hard I cried. He is, though, one of the writers that made me want to be a writer, so I think a little obnoxious fangirling was to be expected.

I play with puppysaurus rex

Adopting a puppy was one of the craziest things we did this year. Not only did this furball full of love and ENERGY enter our world, she dominated it. There is something magical about a creature that wakes up with the sun and says, “It’s time to play!” She naps when she’s tired and wants to play the other 77% of the day. This is a lifestyle I can get behind. Now if only her version of play was the same as mine. Unfortunately, two black lips and a few deep scratches later, we’ve learned the importance of training our sweet girl (but we always train with games and play and toys and treats instead of negative consequences. And boy does she love toys and treats! (I think I may have spent more on Nia’s Christmas than Brian’s…don’t tell Brian).

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

A sleeping puppy on your tummy is probably one of the greatest things ever.

I play Disney (and that other park with Harry Potter [ and that OTHER park with Bugs Bunny])

After immersing myself so heavily in Disney Instagram, I became obsessed with needing to get back to the parks. I wanted to knock Dapper Day off my bucket list and asked my pal Laura if she wanted to go. When she said yes, I booked a hotel for November and started planning. When my cousin invited Brian and me to visit Universal Studios with him and his wife in October, it sealed a deal I made in my head. I was going to get an annual pass to Walt Disney World. (If you go more than once, the price of the pass is worth it (especially with added discounts and perks and such). I was lucky and able to use credit card points to reimburse my Disney pass purchase, so it was essentially “free” in my head, which makes it all the more logical. To me. And so I visited the happiest place on earth twice in a matter of two months, catching both the Halloween and Christmas seasons. And then…just for fun…because it’s close to home and the season pass was so cheap…we got season passes for Six Flags (Great America, but we can go to any of them with the pass). I guess I’m kind of a theme park addict…

Magic Kingdom Disney Photopass hub grass Cinderella Castle

Playing on the hub grass in front of Cinderella Castle seemed like a great idea.

And so with that, I give you Chrissy’s Year of Play. In which I truly embraced my inner child and let her help me find the joy I need to live this life and take the next steps on my journey. Being a creative is hard. Being an empath is FUCKING hard. Learning how to free yourself to determine your path? So hard. But so worth it. I honestly believe that my role in this world is to bring joy and laughter and share that light with you. And so when you see me behaving like a kid in a candy store with a light-up skirt and hot pink hair, remember that we all have a part to play. This is mine.

*I reserve the right to change my mind on the “never” at any time. 

If you could put a theme to your year, what would it be? What are your highlights from 2018?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Movie review: Mary Poppins Returns

Yesterday was a weird day wrapped in a magic bow. It started with a rehearsal for my newest Second City Training Center coached ensemble (yay!) followed by my car getting towed because apparently, my Spothero reservation didn’t go through (boo!). But it concluded with dinner and a movie next to the most adorable husband this side of the planet.

And not just any movie. A pre-screening of Mary Poppins Returns, a movie I’ve been dying to see since it was announced (especially once I discovered one of my favorite celebrity crushes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, would have a role similar to that of DIck Van Dyke in the original film). I’ve also loved Emily Blunt since The Devil Wears Prada. And then there’s Colin Firth. Who I’ve loved since I was fifteen, watching Pride and Prejudice on repeat.

Mary Poppins Poster Jack Lin-Manuel Miranda

I went into the theater with high expectations. I was hesitant to have such high expectations after the Nutcracker kinda flopped on me (I was initially drawn into the colors and music and potential messaging, but after thinking about it for far too long, I realized that the action in the plot did not back up the messaging and it wasn’t actually very good at all). Thankfully, I’ve slept on it, and I still absolutely loved Mary Poppins Returns.

Mary Poppins Returns movie review

THIS is the movie we need right now. The world is dark and gray, and Mary Poppins animates it with positivity and color and sheer energy to yet again save the day (and the Banks family). Emily Blunt plays Poppins in a way that makes me believe she’s always been Poppins (no disrespect to Julie Andrews intended because she, too, played the part practically perfect in every way). It’s like in Doctor Who, when a new doctor comes in and you truly feel like they’ve been the doctor all along. Like magic.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS,  a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

We’re on the brink of adventure; don’t spoil it with too many questions.

-Mary Poppins

In Mary Poppins Returns, the Banks children are more responsible than their artist father who has taken a part-time job at his father’s former bank to help make ends meet during The Great Depression. Mary Poppins arrives just in time to help the entire Banks family (Jane is a regular visitor to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane). With Jack the lamplighter as her childlike adult accomplice, Mary takes the three Banks children on quite the adventure. From a dazzling display inside a Royal Doulton bowl, using classic animation (which Disney hasn’t really used since Winnie the Pooh in 2011) as a nod to the original sequence inside the street chalk scene to an important meeting with Meryl Streep’s Topsy on the ceiling of her home, Mary teaches the new generation of Bankses how to have fun.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney's MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS,  which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

I loved the energy and imagination and pops of color that swirl throughout the film like paint on a canvas. The music is full of clever lyrics (and several that are full of much more adult-humor than one would expect, including a line about flapping about in bathtub gin). I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat, full of joy, and so many chills, you guys. If you need a little boost of magic this holiday season, let this be the movie that takes you there.

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks' home in Disney's original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks’ home in Disney’s original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Lin-Manuel Miranda is there every step of the way, but the entire supporting cast is brilliant. Molly Weasley Julie Walters is the perfect casting for Ellen. Meryl Streep slays as Mary’s eccentric cousin (I wonder if any relation to Uncle Albert?). Colin Firth plays a duplicitous banker with sheer perfection. As for the Banks family? Emily Mortimer is such a perfect casting for Jane that I can see a resemblance to her 1964 childhood counterpart. Ben Whishaw is a wonderful combination of the child, Michael, and Mr. Banks from the original movie. The three children —Joel Dawson as Georgie, Pixie Davies as Annabel and Nathanael Saleh as John — are adorable and charming in their own rights.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Joel Dawson is Georgie, Pixie Davies is Annabel and Nathanael Saleh is John in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Mary Poppins easter eggs

The nods to the original are spectacular and come in every shape and size, including:

  • Dick Van Dyke’s incredible singing, dancing cameo
  • The return of the penguins
  • A passerby (UPDATE: this part was played by Karen Dotrice, the original Jane Banks!) stating, “Many thanks. Sincerely,” which is from the nanny advertisement that Jane and Michael write for their future nanny. No one else is picking up on this egg!
  • Admiral Boom still lives next door
  • Several sightings of the Sister Suffragette vote sash as the string on Michael’s kite
  • The blocks that Jane held, spelling out Mary Poppins
  • The snow globe from Feed the Birds

I found myself squeeing throughout the movie, and Brian often had no clue what I was noticing, so you really have to know your Mary Poppins to catch them all. I’m quite sure I missed as many as I caught, so once I’ve seen it a few more times, I’ll pass along the easter eggs.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Returns

Are you planning to see Mary Poppins Returns? Have you seen it already? Let me know your thoughts!

In Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, an all-new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London. “Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers.

Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 19, 2018. Get your tickets for Mary Poppins Returns.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!