Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm Kind of A Big Deal. . . in Japan

So, remember how I told all ya'll about a show I put together in New York. Well, I never got around to posting the videos. . . til now.

So, for your enjoyment, here are a few of my faves.
It was such an amazing time, and I am so grateful to my talented sista's for doing this with me!
(Christine Dwyer, Lara Janine & my ru-bu-fu Jen Talton)
And none of this would have happened without the incomparable Katie Thompson, who astonishes me every day (did I mention last week she performed at the White House for the First Lady and the New Cabinet? Yeah, I know her!)
Oh, and of course I must shout out to Barbara Anselmi who stepped in to play for half our show the night before the concert!!! Thank you Thank you!
So, without further adieu. . .

Our opening Number, was an idea in my head that was genius-ly brought to life by Katie and the girls. . .

Here's my emotional moment. . . a pop cover written by Marie Digby, it's "Miss Invisible:

Lara and I both played Elphaba in Wicked in Japan. So, we decided to battle it out to discover who is "The Best Elphaba Ever."

We decided to pay tribute to the iconic and life altering music of En Vogue. . . of course in our signature style!

I wasn't going to post this because I'm a perfectionist, but this one's for Erin. It's a little song for my family's new settlement in the Pacific Northwest. I may not drink it, but it sure is funny.
Here's Starbucks, by Michael Mahler:

Closing out the show, we had to give it up for our genius musical director KT!
So, here with one of her original songs is "I Will. . . (Kick Your A**)"
Disclaimer: This song has minor profanities that may not be suitable for all audiences. . . ie to my nieces and nephews, stop watching now ;)

Act of Kindness #25

Sometimes teaching a lesson in church can be very difficult. It can be overwhelming and humbling. So, yesterday at church, I helped the teacher in every way I could. I spoke up, I helped her write on the board, led a discussion group and prayed for her. I hope it helped.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Next To Normal

Yesterday was quite possibly my favorite half day in New York ever! It was the most beautiful weather, I saw the most incredible show, and hung with one of my favorite peeps. Too bad I only had half a day!

I got up early with my former cruise ship roomie and stunning dancer, Ann Skufca, to get General Rush tickets to the hottest new Broadway musical "Next To Normal." And we got the last two!!! This is a brilliantly original musical about a family struggling to keep it together while the mother battles with bi-polar disorder. A bit of a rock-operetta, the music is captivating, and the performances just mind-altering! We're talking some serious Tony's people!
Now, I must disclose that this is not a family friendly show, and it is an extremely heavy and dark musical, but the beauty that it embraces is just stunning. I laughed for sure. I cried about 7 times. I left feeling so inspired and moved and thoughtful.

That is the beauty of art, to move you like that! And to combine that with the most beautiful sunny blue skies, 80 degree weather, Red Mango fro-yo and good company, and you got a little piece of heaven right there!

Act of Kindness #24

It has become a bit of a new tradition for me. As I leave New York City from JFK International Airport, I give away whatever leftover subway passes I have. Yesterday as I passed through the gate for the AirTrain I handed my remaining weekly unlimited ride pass to one of the people heading into the city. It often confuses people, and since it is New York, you can see them trying to figure out if it's a scam. But I just tell them how much is left, tell them to enjoy, and head on my way. It's a good way to start out a trip.

Act of Kindness #23

Being handicapped in New York City means that you are uh-ma-zing! In such a challenging city for even an able-bodied person, I am always blown away when I see someone with physical limitations navigating these mean streets!
Now, everyone knows that that fastest way to get around in New York is the Subways, and though there are a few stations that are handicap accessible, someone who is handicapped still must rely on the kindness of others to use them.
On Friday, I almost went on my way, before I realized this. A woman in a wheelchair was waiting outside of the turnstiles for the emergency exit to be opened. (It must either be opened from the inside or buzzed open by the station attendant. But he was pre-occupied. . . and even then, it is very difficult for a wheelchair bound person to pull open the heavy iron doors. ) I noticed in time, went back and held open the door. The rockstar went by in her wheelchair and I just admired. I hope if I am ever challenged physically that I will meet the challenge head on like her!

Act of Kindness #22

If you've ever walked anywhere in New York, you know that you cannot take a step without being asked for spare change. I often find myself in such a hurry, and so accustomed to hearing these pleads, that the voices become background noise as I scurry down the streets. Well, I decided to pay attention. I committed to giving change to anyone who asked me for it until I ran out. I was able to give to four different people, each time looking them in the eye. They seemed very grateful for change that I give little thought to, and would have just thrown in a jar when I got home.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Act of Kindness # 21

Last night I swung by the birthday party of my brilliant genius composer friend Jon (www.jonathan-reid-gealt.com/) As I left, I was walking toward 42nd to catch my train uptown, and a woman in front of me dropped her lipgloss as she ran for the cab. She had no clue she had dropped it, and I wasn't sure if I could get it to her in time, but I picked it up and ran it back to her.
Now go check out Jon's music. . . my favorite it "Quiet" sung here by my genius fellow Elphie Cassie McIvor, and here by another genius friend, also from Wicked, Natalie Weiss. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Act of Kindness # 20

I discovered a new website for niceness, and they have some very innovative ideas for doing nice things! It's called Do One Nice Thing.
They introduced me to this very very simple way to spread some good.

FreeRice is a website where you play vocabulary games, and for every question you get right, the sponsers (who have little ads at the bottom) will donate 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program to help end world hunger. Not too difficult, right.

Join me and let's feed some people around the world!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Act of Kindness # 19

Tonight I performed in a charity event at Don't Tell Mama's in NYC for Project Open called "May The Schwartz Be With You!" It was an amazing event, and I had so much fun hanging with Broadway legends who I number as friends!

As my act of kindness, I held the door open for the (slightly rude) waitress every time she was walking by, and especially when she was carrying buckets of ice.

I also got to take pictures with some precious fans (a ten year old girl totally made my night when she came to give me a hug!)

And I guess doing a charity event in the first place is an act of kindness on it's own.

I'm feeling very blessed.
Pictures from tonight soon to come (possibly with a little video!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Act of Kindness # 18

Today is my birthday! I am 28 years old. Whew! Time flies when you are having fun!

Thank you to everyone who has sent me videos, sung me songs, sent me messages and spread some serious kindness in my life today!!
I am so grateful!

I arrived in New York pretty early this morning, and as I made my way around the city with my luggage in tow. . . I had to go straight from the airport to rehearsal.

While waiting for the subway, a woman seemed to be confused. I asked her if she needed help, and was able to give her good directions to get on her way.

And then I was on my way.

Act of Kindness # 17

As I headed through the airport last night, I noticed a very long line at Security. As I know this is everyone's favorite part of traveling, I decided that this would be the perfect place to spread some kindness. As I went through security, I allowed 2 people to go in front of me. I noticed right afterward that the same generosity was being circulated throughout the room. Unlike usual, everyone was patient, no one was complaining, and I saw a guy helping the person behind him with their bag. Love it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rachel Smith

I met Rachel at my church in Inwood just about 2 years ago. Before I actual met her, I was introduced to her voice. All you have to do is sit in the congregation and listen to hear her big beautiful voice ringing loudy through the chapel! A graduate from NYU, she is a up and coming Broadway star! A couple weeks ago, she came by my apartment to get some new headshots, and fun shots too. Rachel has to be the most adventurous person I have ever shot with, even climbing into a construction dumpster outside my apartment to get the raddest shot! Take a look at our incredible shoot!






Okay, can we talk about how amazing this graffiti is . . . on the side of my apartment!
Check out Rach's broke down doll shot. . . Tyra would be so proud!
Prepare yourself. . . . This is the one! She climbed into a dumpster to get this shot!
She also had a herd of construction workers whistling and watching the whole time!




Saturday, April 18, 2009

Act of Kindness # 16

When I was about 18 years old, I got a job as a server at Applebee's. That lasted all of 2 days, cause I was a spoiled fine dining type of girl. But over the years, I've come back around to the novelty and the neighborhood style of this prolific eatery. In the last few years, it's become a tradition for my mom, two sisters and me to have a girls' night out at Applebee's when I come to town. It's central, it's cheap, and let's be honest. . . it's delicious!
It was only in these last few years that I discovered my Grandpa Bob creates the recipes for the desserts at Applebee's (and Costco, etc.) As the owner of Real Food Baking Company, his delectable desserts are licensed out to large corporations across the country! So, last month, he not only sent me a couple desserts in the mail to try out, but a gift card to Applebee's to try them out in person!
Combining my favorite things, tonight Girls' night met Grandpa Bob's desserts~
We gorged on Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae, Maple Butter Blondie, and Triple Chocolate Meltdown (the clearcut winner as we fought over the last bite!)
At the end of it all, we had $10 left on the gift card. So for tonight Act of Kindness, we gave the card (wrapped in a little note) to our waitress, asking her to give it to someone who might need or enjoy it. She responded that she had the perfect person in mind for it!

Here's just one picture to make you salivate!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Act of Kindness # 15

Are you a blog-stalker?
UrbanDictionary.com defines blog-stalk -
to secretly read someone's blog with the express purpose of learning more about them without their knowlege.
I am a blog-stalker.
For a while now, I have been following the blogs of a couple incredible photographers who make me want to not only be a better artist, but a better person.
For today's act of kindness, I decided it's time to stop stalking and tell them how much their work has inspired my life, and how I look forward every day to see what they will post.
Check them out and get a little light in your life!

Jasmine Star Photography Blog: www.jasminestarblog.com

Amelia Lyon Photography Blog: http://www.amelialyon.net/

Act of Kindness # 14

I found out about Goods For Goodness Sake through my favorite blog Operation Nice.
Their site is all about where shopping meets philanthropy.
Goods for Goodness' Sake donates 100% of profits to customer-selected charities through the sale of products created by small businesses.
So today, I bought this cute handmade and personalized notepad and magnet set, sent it to someone I love dearly, and selected the charity Stand Up for Kids as the charity of my choice.
I am so excited about this website, and the opportunity it gives us to give not just once, but twice at the same time.

Act of Kindness # 13

I was driving on the way to pick up my Dad from dialysis and a car infront of me was waiting to make a left turn through some crazy traffic. I waited to let the car turn in front of me. I smiled and waved, and the driver smiled back.

Act of Kindness #12

So, I have fallen a bit behind, but I am not quitting! My apologies for slacking, but with out anymore delay here we go:

On Easter, all of the family came over and we had a wonderful family dinner. As would be expected, there was quite a mess left behind.

As an act of kindness to my mother, I cleaned the kitchen top to bottom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Act of Kindness #11

Today was the most wonderful Easter Day! I woke up at my sister Mary's, played with her puppy and 3 beautiful boys, ate some orange cinnamon rolls, went to a lovely day of church, then had a big giant family dinner with nearly all the North West family in attendance (there would usually be 20, but we had 16 tonight. . . and in the next few months, the count goes up to 22!) Then closed out the night with some long lovely chats!
Needless to say, it was a wonderful, busy day!

So, today's act of kindness was small and simple.
While I was at church, the family in front of me had their hands full. The mother's coat (with a sweet angel pin on the collar) was covered in lint and hair. . . so I pulled 11 pieces of lint and hair off during the meeting.

And in behalf of this blessed day, I want to share this video from my church which is a segment from General Conference last week. This talk by Elder Holland was one of the most powerful moments of the conference for me and my family, and this video is a beautiful reminder of the true spirit of this holiday!
"One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. "
He is Risen! And I know that my Redeemer Lives!
Have a blessed Easter!

Click here to watch video

Act of Kindness # 10

I had to run to the store to pick up the salad fixings for our big Easter Dinner. We ran into a Super Walmart (which is nuts compared to what I'm used to in New York!) and made our purchases. On the way out, I decided to take 10 of the shopping carts floating around the parking lot and put them back into the shopping cart return spot. It only took a few minutes, but it felt good!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Act of Kindness # 9

Today, I decided to enlist my adorable niece and nephew to assist me in completing the day's task. We decided to buy 9 flowers and pass them out to people we saw as we walked around Port Townsend.
(PS- I might be in love with this historic town. . . stayed tuned for a blog all about it.)
They picked out the daffodils themselves, and tied blue ribbons around each stem.
As we walked around town, there was growing enthusiasm for these flowers. We walked into one shop and the owner of the store asked, "Where is everyone getting these wonderful daffodils?" My sister proudly replied, "From my children!" The shopkeeper went on to tell us about her childhood, and how every Easter she would place daffodils upon the altar at her church. Erin handed her a flower and the woman was so delighted.
Every reaction was of surprise! One little boy, in precious yellow galloshes asked, "A flower for me? Thank you for giving me a flower!" His sweet spirit and genuine gratitude has become my favorite moment of this vacation and this project thus far!
I'm so grateful I got to share that moment with my family!

My precious niece and nephew preparing the daffodils.
Carolynne placed the first one in the mail box of a lovely Victorian hotel we explored!



Ari Fife Headshots

A few weeks ago, Ari Fife asked me to take some headshots for him.
Ari and I are both from Southern California and have made the East Coast transition.
We met because we had the same amazing voice teacher
(Michael "the amazing" Goodrich teaches SLS/ Seth Riggs Technique in Universal City, CA.)
We subsequently ended up taking a musical theatre master class together as well!
(From Bob "the fabulous" Garrett who has been in a bizillion Broadway shows!)
For his shoot, I headed down to his neck of the woods. . . a little area known as the Lower East Side.
It threatened to rain, but ended up being a great day! Here are some of the shots:






Friday, April 10, 2009

Act of Kindness # 8

Today's Act of Kindness is combined with another act of service that I had already done. . .

A few weeks ago at a church meeting I donated a one look photo shoot. It was won by Cheri Matthieu. (I won a neck massage ;-) Cheri and I didn't know each other all that well yet, but she is a very talented opera singer and also comes from the Pacific Northwest! (Everett actually, which is gorgeous!)

So, the shoot I did for her was supposed to include just one shot retouched, but as I sat down to do so today, I decided I would give her 8 retouches instead.
So, without any further adieu, here is Cheri Mathieu!
(ya see how I did that? Adieu . . . Matthieu. . . okay, I'm stopping, and here are the pics!)

These pics are all taken in my apartment on Riverside Drive. . . well not all in . . .



The rest of these were taken on my "balcony" (AKA the fire escape)



She's so comfortable in front of the lens!


My favorite shot of the day! How stunning are these eyes?!?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Act of Kindness # 7

Today, I was driving from Oak Harbor (here on Whidbey Island) back to where we are staying in Admirals' Cove (West of Coupeville) and saw a bunch of trash on the side of Highway 20. I stopped with the intention of picking up 7 pieces of trash, but one I started, I didn't want to stop until it was done. I picked up trash as the traffic rushed by, but I soon finished and headed on my way leaving nothing but green behind me.

Act of Kindness # 6

I made 6 eggs benedict for my family this morning, and taught my nephew Richard how to make them in the process.
I got to benefit from the process, since I devoured some too.
Eggs Benedict is probably one of my all time favorite meals, and I am so happy to share it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Act of Kindness #5

Today, I left my parents' home in Milton to go on a vacation/adventure with my sister Erin and her family. We are staying in a vacation home on Whidbey Island (which is apparently one of the longest islands in the US!) It's beautiful so far, and lot's of photos are soon to come!

I thought I wasn't going to have internet access, but I flipped on the computer tonight to discover a weak, pulsating signal. . . just enough for me to explore the internet a bit. In my search, I found a website for The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation! (I didn't even know such a thing existed!) But it's a great site, designed with educators in mind, in order to inspire students to give back. They have free e-cards that you can send, and I decided to send 5 as today's act of kindness. I wrote to friends who I haven't heard from or seen in a long time, expressing my gratitude for their influence in my life.

BTW- I can't help but notice that doing these RAsK, I am finding myself gaining more than I think those I reach out to are receiving. It's like how teachers say they learn more about a topic by teaching you. I am doing some serious self education these days.

Act of Kindness #4

Today was the second day of the General Conference of my church. I felt so incredibly uplifted and inspired and overwhelmed today. I am so grateful to have been able to watch it at home with my family around me!

Okay, on to the kindness. I love music. So, today I decided to take four of my all time favorite songs and share them. I sent them as gifts from iTunes, and emailed them anonymously to people I know that I selected at random. Have a listen and a Lovely Day!

Incase you are wondering, these are the songs:
Can't Take It In by Imogen Heap
Across The Universe (written by the Beatles) by Rufus Wainwright
Hope for Me Yet by Marc Broussard
Life is a Highway by Rascal Flatts

Monday, April 6, 2009

Act of Kindness #3

After watching General Conference (my church's bi-annual world-wide broadcast where we hear the Prophet speak and we are spiritually uplifted,) my Mom and I decided to take a walk in a lovely area right by her house in Milton. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to plant a little bit of kindness along the path. I wrote three notes to the anonymous recipients, and tied them to a fence, a bench and a tree branch. Here are a few of the photos. (Taken by my oh-so-artistic Mother!)

The Woods
The Notes
Placing them

My Lovely Mom & I

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Act of Kindness #2

I feel like this one almost shouldn't count. . . mostly because it was so much fun for me!
After having sushi for lunch with my brother (who generously picked up that tab! Thank you!) I thought we should surprise my poor big sister who was home slaving away at her taxes with a little sweet treat!
Our favorite treat is Boba smoothies from a little Vietnamese restaurant in Tacoma called Wendy's II (i don't know where the Wendy's I is. . . )
So, I got a Vanilla and a Strawberry with extra Boba (the little chewy tapioca balls in the drink. . . I say it's like have a smoothie with gummie bears in it! It's addicting!)
I drove over to her house to give her the refreshing treat.
I love my sister (aka, my twin ;) so this one was easy! Next time I promise to stretch my borders a bit more. But don't worry family. . . I'll keep being sweet to you!