Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy, happy new year.

Summer '12 - Photoshoot with my bestie, Lauren King

"Twenty-twelve was a year of cleansing." 

- my mother
What did I learn, lose, gain, and what did I cleanse? Let me count the ways

Mom and Dawn
Cleansing, indeed.

I'm sitting in Tallahassee, Florida, in my brother's beautiful country home. There is a slight hum going on in the house. My 8-year-old nephew makes "pew-pew" sound affects as he plays Fruit Ninja, and my 6-year-old niece Megan continues to ask and inquire why pictures look the way they do, why people smell the way they smell, and often breaks into random dramatic skits that go about in her head.

Grandma and Meggy-pie.

My mom, 65, with her long and very beautiful, curly, salt and peppered hair, stands in the kitchen; although she complains about the pains that strike up and down her calves, and continues to wipe her eyes because the kitchen florescent lights are too bright for her, I sense that she feels at home when cooking for her children and grandchildren. Tonight: beef, vegetables, rice noodles, and lemonade. My sister-in-law smiles as she watches my mom cook.

Megan playing with a puzzle

My brother Luan, whose 41st birthday is in three days, is trying to fix his son's race car, while talking to my mom about the silly things her grandchildren say to her throughout the day. My brother and mom have the same laugh. Loud, giggly, and....did I mention loud?
Never embarrassing though, to be clear.

I've never spent January in Florida with my family.  Normally, the environment around me has a soundtrack of summer storms -
thunder, rain and bugs. Typically, my body accumulates about a hundred mosquito bites as a souvenir of my trip. Today it's chilly, and we haven't stepped outside once. There's a fireplace going, and I just finished a Spongebob puzzle with my niece about an hour ago. 

Beginning the new year with my family is a privilege, methinks. 

Jill and I witnessing Audra! Summer 12'
However, last year overall, seemed like a huge obstacle course in the dark, and all that the people in the world had was a flashlight to share

I felt suffocated by pressures. And the world went bananas.

Although I relished well in the moments that were good, even grand, I fell deep and hard into moments that felt unescapable. What I knew in my heart were moments of challenges and cleansing, I covered them up with titles of curses, and bad luck in my mind. Why the shootings? Why did we lose Chad? Why were people rioting and who decided Russell Crowe could sing? No, seriously.

I drowned. 
Soon after, lower Manhattan did too. 
Although I felt like I sank, I began, like NYC, to rise out of the darkness. 

2012 was a year of firsts for me as well. A few of them include:

....Lea Salonga. Duh.
  • Moving to New York
  • Getting my Equity Card
  • Playing my dream role in a professional theatre company
  • Breaking my arm, ugh.
  • First time to Portland, Vegas, Chicago, and 5 other cities.
  • Dated, for the first time since I was...16.
  • Witnessed my brother getting diagnosed with bladder cancer
  • Having a real snowball fight.
  • Becoming an Assistant Choreographer
  • Bringing Lisa to Florida
  • Showed my mom and family...ALL OF MY TATTOOS.
  • Jennifer Paz saw me in Miss Saigon. :) 
  • My first pair OF LADUCAS!
  • Working at Urban Outfitters
  • Oh, I met Lea Salonga. DREAM COME TRUE.

Andrew and I at the Bean, Chicago. Winter 12'

It was also a year of repeated blessings:

  • Doing the tour of Grinch again
  • Working in Southern California
  • Spending summer in Florida
  • Facing heartache and rising above it
  • Witnessing marriages, death, hurricanes and blackouts. 
  • Continued to learn how to figure out the subway system, and got lost only twice.
  • Got thicker glasses and never cut my hair, as per usual.

My girls. Disneyland, Halloween 12'

Overall, the year taught me one important lesson: 

It's all about choices.

You can continue to strive to be an even better person, no matter what, because you choose to. Become a better sister, friend, daughter, girlfriend, teacher, and mentor by choice.

 Love someone by choice or choose freedom for your well-being. 

Choose to forgive and choose to really, really mean it. Rather than being caught up in the smaller details of pain, look outside and choose to be grateful that your pain is minute, and that you could be in a worse place. 

Call someone, meet up with them, and communicate because you have a voice. Choose to be less passive aggressive through texts, Facebook, and emails.

Choose to allow God to speak to you and through you. Open that conversation and choose to stay in it. 

Choose happiness. Because you totally can.

Lisa and Luan at the pool, Summer 12'.
Of course, this is the lesson that resulted of a year of making mistakes, falling, breaking, getting up and getting pushed down again. I didn't choose happiness all the time -- I chose to wallow. Although I felt selfless, my perspective and energy was becoming very selfish. And I didn't think I had any choice in the matter, but I did.

I did a lot of ignoring. I ignored heavier issues, roots of problems and sometimes I ignored my heart. I was sad a lot of last year, and a lot of the time that I was, I chose to be that way. Can you blame me though? Being human isn't easy.

Stefan Karl as the Grinch, Whoville 12'

Yes, there are a few goals for 2013 that I hope and will actively take part in trying to achieve. Resolutions, goals, manifestation of your own destiny, letting God and letting go, whatever.

Write more, read more, volunteer, start getting into coupons and save the shit out of my money, get a new tattoo, eat better, smile more, etc. 

My nephew Kiet, facetiming with his favorite Aunt.

But overall, cleansing your life of negativity and choosing happiness seems to be of utmost importance these days, at least in my life. 

Happy New Year, everyone. 


and always work it out.

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