COOL & COLLECTIVE

Very often, I get asked by my friends “BRIEE! How in the world do you do it!?!? You always have SOOO much on your plate, yet you get it done with a breeze and STILL manage to stay calm!!”

And while I believe they’re being a bit exaggerated saying I do a lot, and somewhat stay calm in the process, I do have a few techniques up my sleeve on tackling lots of task and staying focus, calm, and not letting the stress of some get to me.

Task breakdown, Lists, and Decluttering. As much as I try to convince myself that I’m organized, I’m actually very very scatterbrained at heart. But I am very obsessed with making check lists. List for goals, achievements, tasks, breakdown a task, To-do lists, etc. etc. I like to think that my scatterbrain self is thinking of too many tasks and agendas to get done that an organized list is an everyday must have.

So I write everything. Yes I mean everything. I do this because if you only have multiple big agendas on your check list, and you don’t get through everything, you’re probably gonna feel defeated. But a mixture of both big tasks and little will make you proud and show yourself you did a lot today. Whether it was learning a new tap routine, or made lunch. You came, you saw, you conquered

Workout/Yoga stretching. Believe it or not, it’s actually really relaxing exercising in a way. It really helps me to workout if I’m frustrated with something (often with myself on an assignment but I’m getting better at that and this certainly helps), if I’m majorly stressed, or if I just need to clear my head. Yoga and stretching helps me to clear my head, be in tune with myself, make sure I breathe, and kinda to think of a game plan for task tackling.

Me time, Tea time. I like to have a nice little routine on Sunday nights to unwind after a long week and have some relaxation as another week approaches. After church and whatever other activities I have on Sunday, I put some calming music (My go-to is ukulele music like Dodie Clark and Grace VanderWaal), wash and pamper my face with masks and rubs, treat my hair for keeping it healthy, prepare a bubble bath with bath bombs and such, comfy jammies, make some sleepy time tea and curl up with a book.

Might sound very tedious, but it’s so relaxing and stress relieving. Especially with long weeks of work and assignments to do, it’s ok to at least have one night to you so pick a Me Time and treat yo self!

Calm. I recently downloaded this app called Calm and I really recommend it if you have trouble finding some time in your busy day to take a few breaths so you can stay sane. It has quick meditating sessions you can choose from, some soothing music and nature sounds, calming stories if you can’t sleep, and you can keep track of your stress levels and how much you’ve done a session per day. I’m really liking it and often use it while I do my stretching to help me be one with my mind and body.

And lastly, but I consider this the most important one

Praying. Especially praying for others. I often go up to my friends or post on my social media that I take private prayer requests, and many people whether I know them or not respond with such gratitude that I do this.

Praying for others actually helps me as well. It helps me with listening skills, being thankful for all the things and people in my life, and mainly to stay grounded and be mindful of others. Yes I have struggles in my life, but there are many others that are struggling way more than I am. So why would I waste my energy contemplating over mine, when I can help and be a light for others. Not saying that your own struggles mean nothing and should just be buried away, But not to fret about it. It’s not the end of the world.

I encourage you to do the same. Reach out to somebody. Ask if you can pray for them and if they need help with anything. It can be as simple as praying that they have good health and strength for days to come. Both of you will be grateful that you did.

Now although these methods and techniques help, there are plenty of times I have my meltdowns behind closed doors because of stress. I’d just like to add that it’s ok to have those meltdowns. Doesn’t mean you’re weak or not capable of doing any kind of task, It just shows that you are human and can handle as much as you get.

I leave my peace with you. I give my peace to you. I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be troubled. And do not be afraid.  John 14:27

He made the storm as quiet as a whisper. The waves of the ocean calmed down. The people were glad when the ocean became calm. Then he guided them to the harbor they were looking for.  Psalm 107:29-30

- Briee

PROPS ANYONE?

Props can come from all sorts of places. You can buy them, rent them, and even make them. Sometimes, there are those props that are so specific that they are impossible to find. In these situations, you have a couple of options and one of the main ones is to make it yourself. The way you can make props depends on so many things. Examples include budget, availability of materials, experience, and, most importantly, time. If you can’t make a prop, adapt the script or come up with something similar to what you need.

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Props can be made out of regular materials. What I mean by that is things that are usually made out of a certain material, like a pillow made of fabric, can be made of that certain material by you. However, what I find really interesting is the props that look professionally made and they are made out of completely bizarre materials. An example would be a knife that was made from cardboard and aluminum foil or an Indian chest plate made from yarn, beads, and straws from fast food places. Yes, these were actual props that we used in actual shows.

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You can’t really do a how to on making props in general because they all have different needs. However, the advice I can give is this:

  1.  Know that you need to make the prop: meaning you couldn’t find it in a store or something.
  2. Know what it needs to look like: so that when you are finding/buying materials, you have a plan instead of buying random stuff and THEN trying to make it look right. Trust me, it won’t work. 
  3. Know what you need to buy and what your budget is: This kind of goes with the last one, but just know what you will need and how much you can spend.

Here is a project I recently worked on for the FMHS Varsity Theater show, Lend Me a Tenor. The show takes place in the 1930’s, and involves a camera. First things first, I researched what cameras were in the 30’s. They were called brownie cameras and here is a picture of an actual one:

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On a budget, there was no way I could buy one of these because all of the old things that don’t work anymore are now much more valuable than when they still worked and were much more common. So, I could rent one, but still money… so I decided to make one from scrap wood and garbage instead. I used scrap pieces of luan to make a box and then I drilled holes in it for the lens and flash. The lens is a cut up piece of water bottle (which I pulled out of the garbage) hot glued into the hole. The handle is made of the plastic-like material that holds large shipments of wood together (Which I saved before it got thrown away). Then, the last thing you need to check for is what the director wants. The director wanted the camera to hang around the actors’ neck, like a modern-day camera, but brownie cameras did not have neck straps. So, I told the director and he said to do it anyway. This would be a special case where you might ignore time period in order to do what the director says. For the neck strap, I used a broken belt that I hot glued and stapled together. Here is my finished product:

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I really hope this helped in making props and when you watch your next show, think about where the props came from and if they are really what you think. 

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.      John 1:3

...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.     Exodus 31: 3-5

 

- Zoe

 

WIN CONDITIONS

One of the annoying things about being competitive is that you will inevitably lose at some point. I was thinking recently about winning and losing. Obviously, if given the choice everyone would prefer winning. Winning feels amazing! You feel like you’ve ascended to the stars above and that WOW everything’s possible right now. Now, while losing is actually quite good as well for learning and being reminded that you are not a god (you talented singer/actor/mathematician you), that is not the point of this particular blog. 

Win conditions, defined, are pretty self-explanatory. In football (or kickball if you’re homeschooled) you win by your team scoring more points than the opposing team by the end of the game. That’s how you win, but that’s not the win condition I’m talking about. To understand what a win condition is: we must dive a little deeper and look at the football teams. 

Suppose two teams are playing against each other. Team 1 has incredibly good defense and a good kicker. Team 2 has great passing and rushing. The win condition is to score more points, so how do both teams try to win using what they have? Well, Team 1 has to use their strength of defense and kicking to shut down Team 2’s offense and getting close enough to go for field kicks. Now we’ve gotten to a proposition. Knowing how to win the game of football, and knowing what their team’s strengths and weaknesses are, gives Team 1 a clear way to achieve victory; a win condition. IF they can shut down Team 2’s offense with their defense, and IF they can get close enough to score field kicks, then Team 1 will win.

Why do I bring all this up? Well, today I got confronted with this thought when talking to a friend about self-deprecation, something I’m very prone to do. Mid way through the conversation, I noticed she would completely ignore any negative comment I made about myself. My competitive side immediately thought: “How do I win this?” Little too competitive for a casual conversation? Probably. But then I realized, since I didn’t actually want to be a self-deprecating person, that the way to “win” was to let her win with the ignoring. And to do that, I had to hold off calling it out. I had my win condition.

The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.  Proverbs 21:31

- Ryan

THE IMPORTANCE OF INTEGRITY THROUGH FAILURE

As most of you know, I do a lot of shows, averaging about six to seven a year. However, I audition for so much more than just shows, and including shows I don’t get into, I audition about twenty to thirty times a year. My whole life basically revolves around “when’s the next audition?” And even if I audition, and I audition really well, that doesn’t mean I make it into the show, I’m told no a lot. It definitely seems like I’m told no a lot more than I’m told yes, and that would make sense right? So what’s the point in trying really?

I’m not going to tell you that auditioning gets easier after the hundredth time you do it, but it really doesn’t. Even if you think you’re the best person to audition, you still could still be told no, and that’s totally okay. What’s really important is how you handle it afterwards. Back in my freshman year, I thought I was hot stuff. I auditioned for our school musical, Guys and Dolls, and I thought I was going to get a lead because I was the best person that I knew. The audition came and went and I thought I nailed it. However, when the cast list came out, I barely made ensemble in two scenes. I was devastated. I took my sadness out on everyone around me and I made a lot of very poor decisions that almost got me kicked out of the show. 

I didn’t handle that audition well, no matter how I did in the end, because I messed myself up in the aftermath. A couple days ago I was stressing about the auditions for this year’s musical (Bye Bye Birdie!!! Auditions tomorrow at the time of writing this), and a very old friend sat me down and talked to me about how stupid I was being for stressing about nothing but a talent show that ends with a different name on a list than someone else. I was flabbergasted by that, the fact that the action that I had been spending all of my time on doing was nothing more than people doing the same thing to achieve the same goal. Rejection was nothing more than a “you need to improve” or a “you were good, but someone else is better.” Take the no and turn it into something great. As The Bible says in Colossians 1:17, He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Paul is writing to the Colossians basically telling them to not worry about anything because God is there, and no matter what, God will literally hold it together.

You have to stay positive, even, if not especially, in the face of rejection. Believe in yourself and know that God has a plan. 

Best of luck to everyone!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

- Matthew

Gifts Galore

If you're like me, you don't really think you do well with the whole getting gifts for someone. It's just that pressure of what you should get them, what they would actually like, and this one gift could change things for better or worse for the rest of your life (maybe not that too extreme, but you get the picture). Not to mention whenever I give out gifts, I like to give two or three items for them so they'll hopefully like at least one of them.

In the month of June, almost every week a relative of mine has a birthday. No seriously I'm not kidding! First week of June, my "Aunts" birthday. Second week, Abuelos' and "Uncles" birthday. Third, my Cousins' birthday. Fourth, my mothers' birthday AND Fathers Day land on the same day this year. And then another Cousins' birthday on the last week. So sticking to my rule for getting three presents for one person, and also making some of them...that's a lot of gifts....oh boy.....

But as lame as I am with my style of gift giving, I have made a list of things to keep in mind on getting someone a present if you don’t even know where to start.

Make of list of what the person likes

Usually when you’re trying to think really hard on what would be the perfect gift for someone, you forget what they’re likes, dislikes, and input on stuff are. I find it very helpful to start writing down anything about the person. It can be absolutely about anything about anytime, if you think it’ll be useful for your gift, write it down!

Something that’s recently happening in their lives

Like if they’re going on a trip and you get them something new they can take. Or if they just graduated and you get them something associating whatever they’re pursuing. Or say they're getting ready for the glorious joy of tech week and you get them their very own "tech week survival kit" filled with everything they need and desire (I came up with that last one aren't ya proud of me? Isn't that a cool idea? Lol)

Think of what they need

I don’t know about you but if someone handed me something like free dance lessons, that would be a great present in my book. If they have been in real need of something and you know of it, why not gift them with that! And if it is something like dance lessons or etc. what fun would it be if you do it together.

Stalking

This is like second to last thing you should do if other ideas haven’t worked yet. Simply going on someones Instagram feed or seeing what posts they’ve been liking recently can really be helpful. Just be sure that if they ask how you knew they wanted that not to mention the loads of old pictures you found while stalking….hehe….

Just ask

Who really said about not asking them what they actually want? Seriously there’s so much pressure for guessing what they want. Go ahead and ask away! What’s there to lose? You’ll get them what they want in the end after all.

Leave the receipt (Optional)

If all else fails and you're not feeling too confident about your gift, There's no shame in saving the receipt for them. Also no shame of getting just a gift card for them at the end.

And voila! You now (hopefully) have been a great gift giver to all! Whether it ends up being a store bought gift that ties into an inside joke, or a sentimental homemade gift that you found on Pinterest. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be wonderful! And now I’m feeling a little more confident on what I’m gonna get for everyone’s birthday this month so that’s a bonus!

Now trying to eat all that too-much-sweet-cake, that's gonna be the real challenge.

"Sometimes God gives a person wealth and possessions. God makes it possible for that person to enjoy them. God helps them accept the life he has given them. God helps them to be happy in their work. All these things are gifts from God."  Ecclesiastes 5:19