#BroadwayByJune : The Final Edition by Anna Stone

When I set out to start #BroadwayByJune I had no idea what was in store. I knew that I had a goal I wanted to reach and that I wanted to document my journey to hold myself accountable to reaching that goal, but beyond that I didn’t really know what to expect. If you had asked me one year ago where I thought I would be in June of 2018 I would have said something along the lines of, “hopefully dancing on Broadway and finally living all of my dreams!” Today that is not my reality, but I am so in love with the reality this journey created. I would have never guessed that my perspective on life and my journey would shift so drastically, that my dreams would shift, and that diving into writing would create the most magical of lenses to look at not only my own life, but all the lives surrounding me. No, I am not where I thought I would be one year ago, but oh man am I forever grateful for where this last year has taken me and where I am today.      

When #BroadwayByJune was initially created, when it was simply an idea, I was so timid to even begin. To share my life in that way felt scary, overwhelming, and quite daunting. Would anyone actually care what I had to say? Did I have anything to say? Would people think I was just bragging or seeking attention for what was happening in my life? What if I failed? There was such a high level of vulnerability I had to risk by sharing my story, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do that, or if I was brave enough to do that. But, thanks to the incredible support and encouragement of the people I love most, I was reminded that if you want big things for your life you have to risk big. And oh man, am I so grateful I took that risk.

But I am grateful in a way you might not expect. If you look at my journey at face value I am not on Broadway; I didn’t achieve the goal that I set out to achieve. Shouldn’t I be sad and disappointed? Honestly, I did feel a little bit of sadness and disappointment at first. I stated very loudly and very publicly that I was working towards this huge, monumental goal, and then I didn’t get there. But, when I took a step back, as I like to do a lot, I realized (or well, I remembered) that making it to Broadway wasn’t actually the point.  

There were two original points. First, I was taking control of my life by not being ashamed or scared of the thing I wanted most. I said out loud, and very definitively, that I wanted this for myself and I was going to go for it. So, in my own way, I took ownership of my life in a way I had never done before by creating focus and intention. I knew that there was a risk of failure, but the point was that I was fully owning this goal and putting my whole entire self into it whether I succeeded or not. Second, I was sharing my journey publicly for whoever wanted to listen: creating accountability for myself, but also sharing in the hopes that my insights and discoveries might be valuable to someone else’s life.

Both points are incredibly important, but the latter is the one that has taught me the most. Vulnerably sharing my story week after week, month after month, has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about strength, courage, humility, connection, and most importantly, authenticity. This is where my deep sense of gratitude lies. I worked incredibly hard to always share and write from a place of truth and honesty, to make sure it was always my voice coming through. I never wanted to be something or someone that I wasn’t. This meant sharing every part of my journey, not just the sunshine and rainbow days, but also the, “I had to give myself a week to watch Netflix before I was ready to jump back into my life again,” days.

These were the harder moments to own and share with all of you. However, the kind words, the thank yous, the messages of ‘oh my god, me too!’ that I received when I shared these types of stories, taught me something crucial. The bad times and the hard times are how we get to the good stuff. All parts of our journey are valid and important, but we spend so much time trying to highlight and get to the ‘perfect’ moments that we forget that it is not only ok, but it is imperative to feel the bad and the low moments too. When we give ourselves permission to not only feel these emotions, but to also talk about and share our experiences with them, they have the ability to connect us in the most miraculous of ways. We begin to realize that we all deal with pain, shame, doubt, guilt, fear, insecurity, etc. It may not be in the exact same way, but we all deal with them. When we see that, we realize that we are not broken and that we are all in this together. It’s simply part of our journey and part of being human.

The amazing thing about this, is that we achieve this level of connection by simply being ourselves in all moments; by always living, sharing, and showing up in our truth and not trying to be something that we aren’t. Over the course of the last year I stumbled into these realizations, and I stumbled into them because I was striving to be me every step of the way. A journey that began with a very narrow focus, me and my journey to Broadway, expanded into a journey of striving to connect to fellow human beings by owning my story and sharing it fully with all of you. I realized how the simple act of honoring and sharing our truest selves has the ability to not only transform our lives, but to connect us unlike anything else. The whole journey became so much bigger than me, and for that, I am eternally grateful.               

I have become so passionate about this idea that the thought of stopping simply because June has come and gone was not an option. So I have taken everything I have learned over the past year: my newfound love for writing, and my desire to spread as much love, positivity and magic in the world, and I created a brand new project: Infinity Plus One; a community dedicated to inspiring everyone’s capacity to DO by identifying, confronting, and resolving the challenges that we all face. It is a home for inspiration, support and the knowledge you need to set your inner power free. We will work together to resolve the challenges that we all face, so we can move forward with our lives the way we truly desire. Because, when we learn to accept, embrace, and truly love our true selves - the unique power and light that only you have - truly anything is possible, and by simply being you, you have the power to live the life of your dreams.

There is a website that is being constructed as we speak, and I am SO excited about it. But until that goes live, I have created a channel on the brand new Instagram TV where we will talk about all of this stuff and keep the magic flowing, so we can live our lives the way they deserve to be lived. You can access this channel, see all of my videos, and continue on this journey with me by following me on Instagram @annateresestone. I promise that there will be a lot of love, a lot of positivity, and a lot of silly dance parties!

I would have never imagined that my journey would lead me to the creation of something like this, but I am so happy that it did, and I am so excited to begin this next step of the journey with all of you. Continue to believe in the power and beauty that is you and lets keep creating magic!

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Moving through the different chapters of our life with grace and an unyielding sense of self, I am learning, is quite the skill. After callbacks slowed down and I released the need to know what is coming next in my life (at least in terms of a performing job) I took yet another step back. For the last 2 weeks, I have been traveling, spending time with family, enjoying those precious moments, and trying to be as present as I can for those relationships. But, after returning to NYC last week, I have found myself overcome with a new sense of urgency to find more clarity in whatever my next step in life is.    

In one of my last few days at home, I sat down to interview the rabbi of my synagogue for a new project I am working on. We discussed so many incredible things. We asked questions such as, “what is purpose and how do you find it?” “Is combining your passion and you career a positive thing, or does that became too heavy a burden to bear when you ask the thing you love to also make you money?” We touched on how our life truly only makes sense in reverse, and how our innate personality has a big effect on how we navigate our journey. Towards the very end of the interview, we talked about how our lives have so many chapters in them, and how, as someone in her 20s, I have so much ahead of me. Then she asked the question, “how do you take the next chapter and not leave what you built and who you are behind. And how does that come with you... And not feel like you’re giving up? And what is the role of failure when it comes to purpose and meaning?”

Woah. My head was buzzing. So many tough yet important questions to explore and navigate for myself.

So, I have been giving a lot of thought to failure lately and what constitutes a failure. The title of this blog series is Broadway By June; I set a goal for myself to be on Broadway by June of this year. It is now June 4th and I have not achieved that goal. I recognize that June has 26 more days in it, but it doesn’t look like Broadway is calling in the next few days.

I set a massive goal for myself, and I worked really hard towards that goal while vulnerably sharing my journey with the world. Does not stepping into a Broadway contract by the end of this month mean that I have failed? Does it discount all of the work I’ve done in the last year?

I’m realizing that failure is very tricky, and it by no means is a black and white topic. It is very much a gray area. I feel like this journey has taught me more about myself than I ever imagined possible and has opened doors to new possibilities I may have never otherwise considered. But with that said, I am also carrying the weight of the reality that I have not yet achieved my monumental goal of Broadway. This is not a very fun weight to be carrying and has me questioning the best way to proceed.

Right now, I am really not sure. It’s honestly just left me with a million more questions. I’m curious: how do I gracefully move through to the next chapter without leaving what I built and who I am behind? And, how do I bring that with me without regret or the grief of failure? Is it really failure if I’ve given it everything I’ve got? Does planning for a chapter down the road stop me from fully experiencing and living the one I’m in now? Have I really failed if I always pick myself up and keep moving forward in the best way I know how?

These are the types of questions I am asking myself and trying to find the answers to in my life right now. As we reach the end of audition season and head into summer, I am reminding myself, and hope to remind you as well, that these are normal thoughts, and, as daunting as these things can be to think about, they do not mean that we are broken in any way. Because no, I do not have a performing job lined up, but I am so excited to be in the city this summer with the people I love and to be diving back into classes to become the strongest and greatest version of me. And no, I do not have an agent, but I will continue to keep fighting for myself and my career as I have done for the past 5 years. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I am reminded to keep moving forward with everything I have learned thus far backing me up.

As I sludge through this swampland of what are sometimes not-so-fun questions, I am reminded of a very important fact: my journey is uniquely mine, and all I have control over is how I choose to walk forward and navigate that journey. So while I wish that there was some magic wand I could wave and it would give me all my answers (or put me into the Broadway cast of SpongeBob Squarepants), the reality is all I can continue to do is the work. The work on myself, the work on my craft, and the work of living my life the best way I know how.   

So I am combatting this new sense of urgency to have it all figured out by staying focused on myself and on my work. Because, no matter what, I will always be me, and there isn’t an experience or fellow human being on this planet that can take my sense of worth or belonging away from me. After all, Eleanor Roosevelt really did say it best: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

With that I would love to ask you this: What are your thoughts on failure? What are your tools for walking through new chapters in your life with grace and an unyielding sense of self? Leave a comment below and let’s help each other walk through this life as gracefully as we can.    

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

There is so much power and liberation in living in the present moment. Taking the time to notice the beauty that exists around you, to really listen and hear the person you are having a conversation with, and to release the need to figure out what’s going to happen in the next hour, month, or year. This is such a difficult thing to do, because if you are anything like me, you like to have a plan, set goals, and always be reaching for whatever is coming next. For the last month of my life, with audition appointments, exciting callbacks, and rearranging my life so I would be available for exciting opportunities, everything felt as if it were building and leading towards something big; but over the course of this last week, when everything got incredibly still in my life, I was reminded how vital it is to release the plan and simply love what is existing right here and right now.

The last month of my life has been quite the ride (in the best way possible). If you’ve been following my journey you know that when I missed an important audition because I was out of town, I took a leap of faith, asked for help, got myself an appointment to the invited dance call for this project, then received a callback and had to change my flights on a previously planned trip so that I could be back in the city for said callback. It was exhilarating, hectic, exciting, stressful, and oh so magical all at the same time. Now, I worked very hard not get ahead of myself during this process and really take it moment by moment -- I have made the mistake before of getting too attached to a job while in callbacks, and the spiral down after you learn it’s a “no,” flat out sucks. I was not going to make that mistake again. But, there was still that part of me that couldn’t help but feel as if the universe were aligning in all the right ways and something big was coming my way in the form of this new job.

Now, I have no idea if it’s a “no” for this job. I have very intentionally not been checking audition update, and I have not heard from anyone I was in callbacks with about continuing on. That is also not to say that the project hasn’t continued on without me knowing and is now fully cast, I really have no idea. But, my point is, no matter what, it’s ok.

The last time I was in the room for this project, I felt really great about the work I did and what I brought to the table. I felt confident in the fact that they had truly seen me and that I did the best I could in that moment. I spent the few days following the callback worrying about it and stressing out about why there was no email in my inbox, then I paused...and I asked myself, ‘why?’ This was now out of my hands and completely out of my control, quite literally, even if I wanted to, there was not a single thing I could do about it, so what was the point of worrying about it, or dissecting every tiny detail and talking about it until I was blue in the face? There wasn’t one!

So I made a choice; I was going to release it. If it came back to me, amazing! If not, that’s ok too; I would then be available for the next opportunity to come my way.  

After making this choice, my life became incredibly still. I had very few auditions happening and I recognized an opportunity to shift my focus. I began saying yes and creating more opportunities to see people I love and have experiences that made me feel alive and joyful, I made a point to notice the beauty that was around me, I incorporated a daily gratitude practice, and, most importantly, I very consciously released the need to know what my life was going to look like in the next few months and just began enjoying and appreciating the moment I was in.

Like this very moment, while I am sitting in the park, sunshine on my face, as I write these words, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and beauty.

Having a plan makes us feel safe and like we have everything figured out, which ironically, is something we don’t actually have the ability to do. We cannot control anything that happens outside of us-- what life decides to throw at us, the jobs we ultimately get, or the people we meet. But, what we can control is everything inside of us, and the way we respond to, navigate, and interact with everything that comes our way. This is our true power and it is always there for the taking.

For me, I find this is much easier to do when I am focused on the present moment, not 9 million moments that may or may not come in the way I think they will. Of course have ambition, have drive, and strive to be the greatest version of yourself, but never at the expense of living and appreciating who you are and where you are in this very moment. Even if it’s in the midst of great struggle, because with that struggle comes great power, strength, courage, and wisdom.

Who knows if I have a new and exciting job in my future. Who knows if I will book Broadway by June. All I do know is I’m going to continue enjoying the ride, release the “plan,” and simply love what is existing right here and right now. Won’t you join me?

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Life is such a funny thing. Incredibly wonderful; but funny. Just when you think you have it all figured out and you’ve got a solid plan, it swoops in and says ‘I have a different idea!’ These moments can feel like some of the worst when you are inside of them, but, 9 times out of 10, I have learned that once you get to the other side it all makes sense. These are also the moments that show us how incredibly strong we are and how we can truly handle anything life throws at us. Last week I lived and survived one of these moments when a trip I had planned got derailed and I had to re-learn the value of breathing and leaning on the ones you love, all while staying incredibly focused.    

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that I recently took a leap of faith and submitted myself directly to a casting office to be considered for a project I feel deeply passionate about it. This leap of faith paid off and I received an appointment to the invited dance call. Over the course of this last week my journey with this project continued on.

I had been planning a trip out to San Francisco for quite some time now because my boyfriend has been relocated and is working out there for a while. It’s the day before I leave, and while I’m packing and getting myself ready to go, an email notification pops up on my phone. With just one glance I see that it’s a callback to continue on with the aforementioned project. This is, of course, incredibly exciting, but that was not my first reaction. My first reaction was panic, and hoping so desperately that this callback wouldn’t be happening while I was away. As I go to open the email, I plead to the universe, “please don’t be while I’m gone, please don’t be while I’m gone…” Email opens, and of course, it’s scheduled for the day before I fly back to New York… And, on top of that, there’s a new song with multiple harmonies that I need to learn and prepare in the next 5 days.

Cue even more panic, some serious frustration, and anxiety. Of course I was incredibly grateful for this opportunity, but I wasn’t able to mentally get to that place yet. My brain was clouded with about 9 million things at once-- Do I cancel my trip? Do I see if there’s another day I can be seen? This is why you don’t plan trips during audition season! When am I going to see my vocal coach to learn this music? The list goes on and on, but you get the point. I take a breath and I text my boyfriend to clue him in on what’s going on. He was my saving grace. Before anything else, he pointed out and helped me begin to celebrate how incredibly exciting and well deserved this opportunity was, and then he says, “so what are our options?”

There were only 2 options we could realistically see, cancel the trip all together, something neither of us wanted to do, or fly home early. So I immediately starting searching flight options that would get me home in time to sing Monday afternoon. In the midst of all of the flight searching, I was simultaneously looking up my vocal coach’s schedule to see if I would be able to see him and learn this new material in the small windows of time I’d be in NYC over the next 5 days. By the grace of all of the amazing powers of the universe, he had an opening early the next morning that I could manage getting to on my way to the airport, AND he had an opening on Monday afternoon to work the material one last time before I went in to sing for casting. I immediately booked both slots. Things were aligning: I was going to make all of this happen.

As I’m continuing to search for flight options, I discover a flight that would get me home at a reasonable hour on Sunday evening. I would be able to get plenty of sleep and take that callback by storm the next day. This would mean literally cutting my trip in half, but it also meant I would still be able to go. It was truly the best solution, but if only it were that simple. Unfortunately, changing flights is not a very fiscally friendly endeavor, so I take a breath, make the call to the airline, and am hoping beyond hope that it wouldn’t be insanely expensive.

Once on the phone, I learned that It’s going to be about an hour until I was able to actually speak to someone, so I left my number for them to call me back, hung up the phone, and immediately walked down the hall to my roommates room and plopped on her bed. I recounted everything that had just happened and was finally able to release all of the panic, frustration, and anxiety that had been building ever since that email notification popped up on my phone.

After I managed to get everything out of my system, I finally look up and I see her sitting with her legs pulled up to her chest, hands covering her mouth, and excitement ready to explode from her entire being. Progressively getting louder and more excited, she just goes, “Anna...Anna...ANNA! This is amazing!” Again, I thank all of the amazing powers of the universe; I truly have spectacular people in my life. Through her eyes I began to gain a little perspective. Now, I use “a little” very specifically. I was unsure if the flight change would actually pull through, I was doubting my ability to prepare the music in time, and I was really sad that I would have significantly less time with the man I love; so the stress, frustration, and anxiety were still very present. But through her eyes, gratitude, joy and recognition of how much I deserved this due to my hard work, were added into the equation.

My phone starts ringing and I see the airline is calling me back. I take a breath, answer the phone, and I walk back to my room. I explain to the woman on the other end that I need to change my flight, I tell her which flight I found online and would love to take; there is a momentary pause as she searches through on her computer. She tells me that there is room on the flight (yay!), but then she tells me how much it’s going to cost...my heart sinks. It was going to cost more to do it this way than to just purchase a brand new one way ticket (still not a cheap option). I ask her if this is indeed correct, she confirms, and I ask if there are any other more affordable options? She begins to search again when she casually asks me why I need to change my flight? I explain to her that I had a very important appointment pop up on Monday and I had to get back into the city early. She pauses, and then she says, “You know what, I’m going to make a one time exception and wave the change fee.”

I cannot even begin to express to you how much gratitude and appreciation I felt towards this woman who showed me the most incredible kindness. She did not have to do that in any way, but with that simple act, she transformed my day and made a situation that was stressful and complicated, so much better.

The flight was officially booked and everything fell into place. All that was left was for me to do my job. I learned the music before heading off to the airport, I dedicated time once in San Francisco to continue working and making sure I felt solid on the material, I had an amazing trip, and I made it home safely. The next morning I went to my vocal coaching, something I am so incredibly grateful for! Singing already makes me nervous, but having to sing a song I had had for such a short amount of time is a whole new level of nerves and anxiety. In my lesson I was able to really work out all the nerves and get to a point of confidence and strength before walking into the room. Thank goodness!

It was showtime. I walked into my callback, delivered the work that I had prepared, and you know what? I left the room smiling. That has never happened to me in the history of me singing, EVER! I had done the work, I knew I was deserving, and I believe it shined through in the room. I am truly proud of the work that I did and it is now out of my hands. I am practicing the act of release, and knowing that if it is meant for me, it will come back to me.

I still can’t believe how well everything worked out. The people that I love rallied around me, a random stranger on the other end of a phone call showed me incredible kindness and generosity, and I was able to schedule vocal coachings that fit perfectly into my very strict timeline, all of which allowed me to focus and do my job. In hindsight, all I feel is overwhelming gratitude.

The world is going to throw everything it’s got at you, but I promise you are strong enough to handle it. It may feel like a total mess right now, it may even feel like a complete disaster, but I promise you, everything works out exactly as it should. So call on those you love, never stop breathing, and stay focused. You got this.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

There is great power in taking your life into your own hands, putting yourself out there, and taking a giant leap of faith. Yes, it is scary in the moment, but when those moments pay off, man are they worth it. A couple weeks ago I was heartbroken after I found out I wasn’t going to be in town for a major audition I really wanted to attend, but after many turns of events, I realized that I didn’t have to let this opportunity simply slip away, I had so much more power within the situation than I dared to believe. With a little bit of encouragement and guidance from the people I love, I made the choice to do everything within my power to still be seen and get in front of the team. So throughout this last week, I mustered up a whole bunch of courage, I put myself out there, I asked for what I wanted, and I learned how empowering and liberating it is to seize an opportunity for yourself.

For the last few months I have had a trip planned to meet and visit my boyfriends family. This trip was important to me for so many reasons: my boyfriend is currently working across the country and this was my first chance to see him since he’s relocated, I was so excited to meet and spend time with his family, and it was going to be such a wonderful breath of fresh air outside of the city for a few days. This was the trip that took me outside of the city and conflicted with this major audition. But this weekend was too important to me, I refused to cancel it. So after realizing that I wasn’t going to be in town to dance for this production, I created a plan. My first course of action was to attend the singers ECC. I would be in town for this audition and it would ensure that I would be seen by part of the team.

Now, if you’ve been following my journey, you know that I very recently dipped into an epic shame spiral from a singing experience that I perceived to go horribly. So, needless to say, I wasn’t super excited about this and was incredibly nervous.

Cue mustering up a whole bunch of courage and positive juju!

I took all the necessary steps to make sure this audition went as smoothly as possible. I scheduled a vocal coaching so my song felt great, I arranged my resume to make it clear I was a strong dancer, I picked an audition outfit that made me feel confident, and I spoke to myself with all of the self love and compassion I could muster- “You can do this! You’re so talented! You’re so beautiful!” etc. etc. etc. The nerves were still there, but I felt prepared and ready to walk in that room.

The audition came and went and I felt really good about the work that I had done. However, something wasn’t sitting right; the experience had been incredibly positive, but I wasn’t convinced that it would be enough to move me forward in the process. But, it felt out of my hands; I didn’t think there was anything else I could do. Then later that evening I was talking to a friend of mine and she suggested submitting directly to the casting office with a video of the audition choreography (I have learned the combination before when I was in for a different production of the show.) I liked this idea, especially the idea that there were more steps I could take, but this didn’t sit right with me either. This show is being cast through a casting office that I do not have any previous relationship with, and I did not want to chance the office not responding well to this video submission idea and me making a bad first impression.

So I took the night to think about it (stress heavily about it, if we’re being totally honest) and sleep on it. I woke up the next morning without an ounce of clarity, I had no clue what to do. So I called on a dear friend of mine who is really good at stuff like this and asked her advice. After explaining the entire saga to her, we weighed out the pros and cons and played out the different scenarios of possibilities, but then she said, “there is one other option we haven’t mentioned yet….”  

She reminded me of the connection I have to one of the members of the creative team. It was a slight jump to this connection, but it was close enough to warrant a reach out. I also knew that this connection is an incredibly gracious human and would most likely respond well to me asking for advice. As we continued to talk about this possibility I felt my body relax; this solution felt right, it felt genuine, and it felt like the smartest move to make. I made the decision to go for it and we constructed an incredibly professional email simply asking for advice on how to proceed. I read the whole thing over one last time making sure that this still felt like the right thing to do, and then the email was sent: officially out of my hands.

I heard nothing for quite a few days. I was partially convinced I wasn’t going to hear anything at all, and that was ok, that’s the name of the game, and at least I had tried. But, late Monday evening: RESPONSE! As we thought, she was incredibly gracious and kind in her email back to me and suggested I submit directly to the office with a letter and headshot/resume.

Done.

I composed a very professional letter asking for an appointment to the invited dance call. I made sure to note the dates I had previously danced and sang for the team, attached a copy of my headshot and resume, and sent both a hard copy and an email to ensure it would be seen by someone. This part was incredibly nerve racking for me. Again, I do not have a relationship with this office, so I was taking a major leap of faith here and just hoping and praying this didn’t backfire somehow.

The very next day I received an email from the office with an appointment time to come in and dance for the team. IT WORKED! Relief and excitement simultaneously washed over me, but the best feeling was a sense of pride. I had 100% gotten this appointment on my own. Yes, I had encouragement, support, and love from those around me, and I am beyond grateful for that, but I decided to fight for myself, put myself out there, and do every single thing within my power to make this happen, and that is an incredible feeling. Even if nothing happens after I dance for the team, I still got myself into that room. I created the opportunity for myself, and I did it in a way that felt right for me. Now that is a major victory in and of itself.   

At the end of the day, if there is something that you want, and you know deep in your bones that it is a good thing for you, you must ask for it. You get this one life, and you truly have the power to make it whatever you want it to be. If you don’t claim that power for yourself, no one else will do it for you. So dig deep, grab onto all the courage you can muster, take the leap, and maybe, just maybe, it will lead you exactly where you’ve always dreamed of.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

We live in a world that makes us believe that everyone’s life is perfect. With one swipe you are inside a world that projects images of perfectly crafted lives that are happy, beautiful, and adventurous at every turn. These perfectly crafted ‘life highlight reels’ can be absolutely beautiful and awe inspiring, but they can also make us feel that if our life is anything less than these perfect collages, then it’s not enough. I believe in a very different narrative. A narrative where we use these tools to connect and lift each other up based on our shared humanity. We are all human, we all feel pain, shame, guilt, fear, doubt, insecurity; and most importantly, we must feel those things to feel their glorious opposites: joy, peace, bliss, love, confidence, and straight up awesomeness. This last week has been very difficult for me, and I seriously considered shoving everything that happened under the rug and ignoring it. I thought about writing ‘fluff,’ something that made me look as if I have this whole journey figured out. But, that would not be holding true to the things that I believe in-- honesty, truth, authenticity, and that all parts of our journey are valid and important. Instead, I want to share my honest, vulnerable, and authentic story, even if that means standing tall in what right now feels like one giant mess.

A dear friend of mine told me something very important the other day, ‘life has a crazy way of giving you a healthy dose of humility just when you think you have it figured out.’ Well, last week was my healthy dose of humility. It poured in when I did the one thing you aren’t supposed to do. I became attached to the idea of a job, and I did it way before I was even close to booking said job. I had been waiting for weeks for this one specific audition posting to be put out. It’s a show I’m totally right for, the timing of the contract would be perfect, and it would create some much needed financial security. Well, last week the listing was finally posted, and you know what...I’m out of town.

I was totally thrown for a loop, and honestly, quite a bit more upset about it than I should have been. But, we can’t always control our emotions and the fact is, I was really frustrated. So I recognized the fact that I was upset and I consciously gave myself the space to be irritated about it for a little while before deciding how to move forward. But, from there, life stepped in and just started snowballing.

I had a voice lesson where everything was not working the way it was supposed to and it felt as if any semblance of the work I had been doing on my voice was thrown out the window. This was not ideal, but I recognize and understand that all moments of my training cannot be positive, there will always be highs and lows. Life would go on, but then I had my tipping point. I performed in a master class and I allowed my nerves to get the best of me. My performance was, what I perceive to be, incredibly poor (completely disastrous if I’m being totally honest) and an inaccurate representation of the work I know I can do. During this spectacular disaster, many of my peers, who I respect and admire a great deal, all have eyes on me. Que epic shame spiral.

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that my voice is an incredibly vulnerable part of me, something I have worked very hard to cultivate and build confidence in. So this one moment pulled about every shame trigger I have and all of a sudden I felt like I was 16 again. I was embarrassed by who I was, and it was as if all the years of work I have done on myself did not even exist. I felt like a failure.

This is a really crappy feeling. It feels a bit like being out in the middle of the ocean, waves crashing all around, and nothing to grab onto. I hate this feeling. I hate feeling small. I hate not loving the person who looks back at me in the mirror, and I hate feeling like I failed. If you’ve ever felt like this, and I’m guessing you have because you’re human, I will never try to convince you otherwise, it sucks. But also, I hear you, I see you, and I support you.

I think it’s important to note that I’m not writing this from the other side, I’m in the middle of the trenches, wading through the crap and focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other. That’s life, that’s where I am today, and that is ok. The journey is not all sunshines and rainbows, some days it’s really hard, and we have to know that we are not broken for feeling this way.

I know that I will bounce back from this, I know that I will find my footing, life will go on and all will be ok. But I am also honoring the fact that I am sad right now and my body, soul, and mind need time to heal. The world is quick to swoop in, tell you to keep your chin up and do whatever it takes to smile again. And, you know what, you should do that. But it’s also ok to be sad; that is part of the journey too: an important part. So listen to what your body and soul need, and if it needs to spend a few days watching Netflix and living in sweats before getting back on the horse, awesome; do that. Just make sure to get back on the horse, I promise I will join you.  

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Fear is such a funny thing. It is there because it wants to protect you and keep you safe, but it has the ability to make you feel so small and like you will never be good enough for the things you want. And, no matter how hard you try, you can never make it fully go away. However, your relationship with it can change, and the way you speak to it can change. You can make a choice and refuse to let fear dictate your life. You can choose to be greater, stronger, and more powerful than fear makes you believe you are. For many years I have let fear run my life. I have allowed it to talk me out of doing many things and having experiences that could have been truly amazing. But not anymore. Last week I took a plunge and decided to go for something that has terrified me for many years, and in turn, my spirit was re-invigorated and a fire was lit under me to keep fighting for my dreams.

During this last week of auditioning, I took a massive leap and I did something brand new-- I auditioned for “Hamilton.” Now you may be thinking, ‘so what Anna? I’ve auditioned like 9 times, what’s the big deal?’ Well, a few years ago, when the show was in previews, I remember sitting in the audience and thinking to myself, “this is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, but this is not my show, I’ll never be in it.” At the time I wasn’t being condescending towards myself and telling myself I wasn’t good enough. I just knew that I was not a hip-hop dancer in the slightest and this show would not sit well on my body. So every single time I saw the auditions pop up I wouldn’t even think twice about it; I just said “nope” and kept scrolling.  

Fast forward a few years; insert multiple classes and technique work that focused heavily on being grounded and a whole lot of self work to build confidence and strength within myself.

I was scrolling through auditions last month and I came across the “Hamilton” ECC for dancers, and I paused. I thought “hmm, maybe I actually want to go this time.” Immediately the thought scared me and I thought I had for sure gone a little bit crazy. You see, a side effect of me saying I would never be in this show morphed into me viewing the audition as this massive ordeal, something I would most certainly fail at if I walked in the room. Therefore, I was terrified of it. But, as I kept thinking about it over the course of the next week, the thought began to feel less scary and less crazy, it began to feel comfortable and like the right thing to do.

This was a pretty big moment for me. In years past I would have let the fear control me, it would have stopped me from entering the room completely. Or, if I somehow convinced myself to walk into the room and it indeed was a complete disaster, I would have spiraled downward and felt terrible about myself for quite some time, but not this time; not anymore. At this point in my life I knew I would be able to walk into that room, and, even if it was a complete disaster, it would not be the end of the world. I would still be the person that I am and my life would go on.

So I decided to take the plunge. I was going to take a leap of faith and go for it!  

Well last week was the audition, and I have to say that it was one of the most inspiring and positive audition experiences I’ve ever had. I loved it! First and foremost, it’s a lifelong dream of mine to work with Andy Blankenbuehler, so to even have the opportunity to dance his choreography from this show was such a beautiful and incredible experience. We got to learn a section of “My Shot” from the show, and one of my favorite things about Andy’s choreography is how intelligent it is. Every single movement you do has a specific meaning and purpose behind it, so as we were learning the choreography, we got to learn many of the specifics about why they move the way that they do in that particular part of the show.   

There was so much conversation about heart, focus, hope, standing up for what you believe in, and being a part of something so much greater than yourself. Not only is the show so relevant and important with everything happening in our world today, but the movement and the meaning spoke directly to my heart and my life. Everything resonated so truthfully with me that it was as if all of a sudden I had been shaken awake and was reminded not only why I am chasing Broadway, but that I can do it because of who I am and the uniqueness that I hold.

Now, this story doesn’t end with me getting a callback, getting the job, or even moving forward with the process of this show at all. No, this story ends with me being so proud of myself for taking a leap and doing something that has terrified me for years and in turn re-invigorating me and reminding me why I am so excited and driven to make a life within this career at all. “Hamilton” may not be my destiny, it may not be in my future at all, but this week it reminded me that I have something special to offer this world and I have a dream that matters.

This is truly the greatest gift I could’ve asked for right now. With being smack dab in the middle of audition season, dealing with daily rejection and loads of uncertainty, it can be really taxing and difficult to maintain an optimistic attitude and an unwavering focus on your goals. For me, it was beginning to translate into talking myself out of how important my #BroadwayByJune dream is to me so that it would hurt less if it doesn’t end up happening. But what’s the point of life if you don’t dream big and go all the way for the things you want? I am beyond grateful for last week and that audition that re-invigorated my spirit and lit a fire within me to keep fighting. I cannot wait to keep going and see how the journey unfolds.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

I believe that the way we think transforms our lives. When we are crystal clear on what it is that we want and why we want it, we are able to stay focused and continue moving forward when things get tricky, frustrating, and difficult. Now this is allowed to, and most likely will, change and transform as we move through our lives, but when we maintain awareness and have clarity over our goals, desires, and intentions, it is so much easier to navigate our day to day. Last week when I went to an audition that tested my desire to keep chasing my Broadway dream, my brain took over and reminded me how incredibly vital it is to stay focused and keep the “why” of chasing this dream at the forefront of mind.  

Because of the nature of auditions, maintaining a positive headspace can be a difficult and frustrating task. I am an extremely introverted person. I love spending time with myself, I enjoy the quiet, and large groups give me anxiety. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges for me in the world of auditioning is the holding room. More often than not, especially at this time of year, they are jam packed with people, they are very loud, and it’s difficult to focus and center yourself before walking into the audition room. I do, however, recognize that holding rooms are a necessary part of my job as a performing artist, so I have become very specific with how I approach them.

Last week I went to an audition that I was really excited about, but as I turned the corner to walk into the holding room, my heart sank and my anxiety began to rise. The hallway was packed with people, making it difficult to even get into the room. Completely disregarding my brain’s attempts to tell me to turn around and go home, I kept moving, b-lined to the holding room, and (thankfully) found a chair in the back of the room, giving me at least a tiny bit of space. I am someone who, regardless of how crowded it is, likes to be in the actual holding room, at least at the beginning, so I can make sure to hear everything that is going on and am prepared as possible. So I set up shop until I was sure I knew what was happening.

Once they went through the process of calling out the list, giving out numbers, and telling us how many people were going to go into the room at a time, I knew that I had a couple of hours until I actually went into the room. But at this point, my brain was hardly working, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people surrounding me, the room was insanely hot, and any semblance of a positive headspace that I had before, was now gone. So I got up, got dressed, and went in search of somewhere in the building that had at least a little bit more breathing room.

I found a hallway that, aside from a few people passing through now and again, was completely deserted. I took a deep breath and began to go through a physical warm up to get my body warm and ready for whatever choreography may be thrown at me that day. After about 5 minutes, the thought “I want what is on the other side of this audition” flashed through my brain and caught my attention. I began repeating it over and over again in my head and I felt my body and my mind begin to relax. It was as if all of a sudden a door opened up inside of my mind, handed me a beautiful, golden nugget, and the clarity of why I was in this moment washed over me.

While I have worked to discover a certain level of joy within the experience of auditioning, I don’t show up at audition after audition simply for the joy of it. I show up because I want the experience that is on the other side of it. The chance to perform, the chance to create, the chance to do what I love more than anything else in the world. I’ve always known that, but I also know that I have a tendency to forget that small, but oh so significant detail, when I walk into a holding room and there are 9 million people and tons of noise that pulls me out of my body and away from my focus of the task at hand.

In that one moment I realized the vitality of holding onto the “why” of why I chase this dream day after day at the forefront of my mind. Once the thought, “I want what is on the other side of this audition,” entered my brain, I did not let it leave my mind, it became my focus, and all of a sudden my body and my mind were able to center themselves and I could think clearly again. I was able to walk back into the holding room and hold onto what I can only describe as a ‘positivity bubble’ around me, and when I walked into the audition room I was excited, focused and able to concentrate on being the best version of me possible. And you know what? I ended up having a lot of fun!

I am so grateful that my brain took over and reminded me of my “why.” It seems like such an obvious thing, thinking clearly and positively about what you are doing, but when you are in a moment that is overwhelming and stressful, that is one of the first things to slip away. It takes discipline and brain power to stay focused and positive when a high stakes and stressful moment happens, but it also makes room for a much more enjoyable experience, and I’m pretty sure, a whole lot more success.

I am a big fan and a big advocate for enjoying and loving every single moment of our lives. We hold the power to create our own reality within ourselves, and it begins with the way that we think. From this point forward, my thoughts will be intentional and always centered around “why” I am doing something. Won’t you join me and begin transforming your own life?  

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott  

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Being alive is a truly amazing gift. When you really think about it, the things that we have the capacity to experience are truly remarkable. And yet, if you are anything like me, you take so much of it for granted. Recently, I have been doing a lot of thinking and meditating on the ways in which I can change this reality in my life; shift my mindset so that I can experience maximum joy and feel truly alive everyday. Well, last week I took a voice lesson with a brand new voice teacher, and his approach towards singing held this beautiful golden nugget that not only transformed my journey with my voice, but cast this incredible light on my approach to life and auditioning.

I have a great deal of anxiety and insecurity when it comes to singing. I know that there’s a strong voice inside of me, but when it comes to trusting my sound and having the knowledge to truly navigate and use my voice to its potential, I feel like a fish out of water. Because of all these things, my voice is an incredibly vulnerable part of me, so when I took a voice lesson from a brand new voice teacher last week, I was quite nervous. However, I am happy to report that it turned out to be this incredibly positive and liberating experience.

Throughout the entirety of my lesson he spoke about focusing on the feeling that my sound was creating. Really finding that sweet spot and living there instead of judging, pushing or trying to force the sound into a specific place or pitch. As the lesson went on, my voice produced sound with an ease and strength that I have never experienced; it was quite an incredible feeling. At the end of the lesson we worked on a song that I was afraid was a bit out of my range, but as we approached it with this newfound philosophy, I found that the song came out seamlessly. And better yet, it was so much fun to sing! I was able to actually pay attention to the words and play more within the song, because all of a sudden I wasn’t stressed about whether my sound would come out properly or not. Following and trusting the feeling I was creating allowed me to relax into my voice and open up space to focus on new things.

This is a huge breakthrough moment for me. I have a hard time focusing on anything other than my sound while I sing because I’m so concentrated on my voice being in the exact right spot and on the right notes. Finding depth and story while I’m singing has always been a huge challenge for me, so when it began to happen naturally I nearly exploded with joy. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day, all of a sudden it was like this whole new world of possibility and exploration within my voice opened in front of me.

As I went about my life for the next few days I couldn’t help but continue to reflect on what we talked about in our lesson and how liberated I felt. I attended a few auditions and classes over the course of the remaining week and slowly but surely all of these dots started connecting in my brain and I realized how fundamental/pivotal/essential his point is not only in singing, but also within life and auditioning!

When you really look at our lives, we have zero control over anything that happens outside of us. We cannot control booking a job, landing a job with a specific salary, meeting the person we are meant to spend our life with, or what the people behind the table think of us when we audition. What we CAN control is how we interact and react to everything that happens within our life. We can focus on the feeling, finding the sweet spot of where we like to live, feel and exist, and navigate our lives from that place.

I find that to be an insanely liberating concept, not a, “well crap, I have no control over anything in my life, so what’s the point?” No: flip the narrative! You have the ability to release the things outside of your control and focus on the things you do in fact have control over. You can focus on the things that bring you joy, the things that feel good, the things that make you come alive; because as my voice lesson taught me, when I focused on the right feeling, everything fell into place, it was natural, easy and it was so much fun. I truly believe that’s how life works too. When you get rid of the crap and stop forcing yourself into a place that doesn’t really fit who you are, or only sort of fits, your life opens up to an entirely new world of possibility. It isn’t necessarily easy, because then it wouldn’t be life, but it can flow so much easier when you focus on that sweet spot feeling.

I believe we can apply this same concept to auditioning. Human beings are receptive to energies, and when you walk into a room trying to force something or be someone that maybe isn’t entirely you, I believe that the people auditioning you can sense that, and not to mention, it probably isn’t a super fun experience for you. So why not flip this narrative too? Why not walk into an audition room focusing on that sweet spot feeling and make it an experience where you get to play and be a creative artist, or whatever it is that you want to feel when inside the audition room! This doesn’t mean that you stop working hard or taking it seriously, but that you approach it from a place that makes you feel good and that makes you feel like you. Because I’m also willing to bet that, if you adopt that mentality, not only will auditioning be a more pleasant experience, but you will also probably be way more successful.

I’m still determined and ready to book #BroadwayByJune, but this has really taught me that I am more concerned with having experiences every single day that are enjoyable, positive and make me come alive, and that includes auditioning. So for now, that is my plan of attack, I will continue to work hard towards my Broadway dream, but I will do it by focusing on the feeling of creating playful, joyful and positive experiences that are true to me and the feeling I want to feel every day of my life. Won’t you join me?  

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Over the course of this last week my life kicked into full gear. We hit the end of January, audition season officially kicked off, and my life went from 0 to 60 in what felt like an instant. Now, I knew this was coming. As a Musical Theatre artist in NYC, this is the craziest time of year, but there was still an element of shock that set in and began to overwhelm as the week progressed. You would think that after taking part in what is now 5 audition seasons I would have the balance down to a science; but, the reality is, every year my priorities shift and I am a slightly different version of myself. So as I navigated my first truly hectic week of this year/audition season, I took time to reestablish my routine and began discovering the right balance for this moment of my life.    

If you are following my journey, you know that one of the big things I talk about is discovering the right sense of balance in my life. And, as you can tell, it’s something that is constantly evolving and changing as my life continues to evolve and change. If there is one thing I believe, it’s that as human beings we are not meant to work our lives away. As a society, I believe that we are addicted to the busy-mentality and the need to be productive at all moments of our existence, and I choose very consciously not to live my life this way. It is not always easy, but I believe that choosing to rest and be still gives us great insight into who we truly are and leaves space for a whole lot more joy.

Over the holidays and even over the first few weeks of January, I had a great deal of time to rest. So when this last week filled itself not only with a handful of auditions, but teaching private dance lessons, teaching 2 different workshops, taking dance classes and working 2 other jobs, by the time I reached Friday, I was flat out exhausted. I was back and forth on the subway too many times to count, and I fell asleep on just about every one of those trips. I managed to push through Friday, as well as work early the next morning, but when I finally got home Saturday afternoon I collapsed into a ball of exhaustion for the remainder of the weekend. I was grumpy, too exhausted to think about productively planning my next week, and flat out felt like a lump of a human.

I work very hard to keep my weekends free so that I can fill them with rest, time with the man I love, and re-charging so I can tackle the week to come. But, this particular weekend I did not feel like myself and I couldn’t figure out why. Well, I finally got some sleep and the oh, so obvious answer became incredibly clear: I was exhausted, overworked, and the balance I had created in my life for the few months prior had to shift. The reality is, this time of the year is simply busier for me. So I took the message that my extreme exhaustion was trying to send me and realized that I needed to take the time to set clear boundaries for my time and reestablish my routine. By doing this I realized I would be able to continue consciously navigating this busy season while maintaining a healthy balance that works for and sustains me.

I took some time writing in my journal to flesh out the thoughts I was having about how I was spending my time vs how I wanted to be spending my time. As I kept writing, I felt myself begin to come back into my own skin. I began to relax, breathe a little deeper and think a whole lot clearer. I recognized that I love the things that fill up my time, and even though there isn’t much I can walk away from right now, I can start taking advantage of the moments of stillness I do have and create true moments of rest instead of simply sitting and thinking about what else I could be doing in that moment.

Basically, I realized that I need to be aware of and extremely intentional with my time, especially when life gets hectic. Last week taught me that as soon as my life gets busy, I go on autopilot and I tend to lose touch with myself, and as soon as I lose touch with myself, my life feels chaotic. My body sent me huge warning signs in the form of stress and exhaustion and I am happy that I decided to listen to them.

When I took a moment to connect back to myself and reaffirm how I want to be spending my time, everything felt in alignment again. I made a clear list of my priorities; all of the things I want to be taking up the majority of my time. And then I began brainstorming the ways in which I can be more proactive when I have moments of stillness and rest. Small things like turning my phone off earlier in the evening, knowing that the emails, messages etc. will all be there in the morning, as well as claiming the moments that are mine, like my weekends, to fill with whatever it is my soul needs in that moment, gives me the space to rest in a truly productive way.

Our lives are in a constant state of change, and as they begin to shift and evolve, so do we. As those shifts happen, maintaining awareness of ourselves and how we spend our time is crucial to sustaining the right balance for our lives. Never forget that you have the power to control how you spend your time and how you build your life-- That power comes from inside of you! So here is to listening to what we need and creating the right balance to help us live the life of our dreams as we navigate our individual changes.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

One of the greatest blessings of my life and what I am most grateful for everyday is that I was lucky enough to discover something that I loved so deeply so early on in my life. I started dancing when I was 4 and it was truly love at first plié. My journey with learning to dance is fully integrated with me learning who I am as a person. So much so, that when it came time to pick a career path, there was zero question in my brain, dance would forever and always be my guiding light, I was going to make it my career. I feel so fortunate to be making a life doing what I love more than anything, but I would be lying if I said  there hasn’t been a significant learning curve in turning my passion into a career.  

Marc Anthony has a famous quote that says, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It is such a beautiful picture: if you are in love with what you do you will never feel like you are actually working. On one hand, I love this quote. I am a big believer and advocate for filling your life with what you love, and if possible, making a career out of it (that is what I’m doing after all!). But, on the other hand, I think this quote is a bit misleading. In my experience, no matter how much you love something, there will always be some part of it that still feels like work. And that’s OK!

For many years I clung to the idea that nothing related to me career should feel anything like work. I was very tunnel visioned in the sense that I so desperately wanted my life filled with passion and joy and to have my time filled with the things I had always dreamed of-- dancing, performing and taking classes that made me feel like I was on top of the world in the greatest city in the world-- that if something in my life didn’t fit this bill, I instantly thought it was the wrong thing for me. I would let it make me feel miserable and I resented it taking up my time. I even stopped taking dance classes for a while because they no longer provided a space for me to find joy and simply dance for myself, they felt like I was going to an audition.

But last week, when I was on my way home from one of my dance teaching jobs, (one that definitely does not fit the bill that I just described) a very dear friend of mine reminded me of something incredibly important that helped shift everything into perspective: “It is still a job; so let the times you love it most fill you up.” Such a simple yet strong statement that flipped a light bulb on in my head.

I chose dancing as my career. When I did this I asked my love and my passion to support my livelihood in this world. This means that sometimes I will have to take teaching jobs that maybe aren’t my favorite age or style to teach, but they pay me well, so I take them so I can pay my rent and live. This means that the way in which I take class has to shift. There are certain classes with specific teachers that I will go to because they fill up my soul and remind me who I am as a dancer and why I love it so much, but then there are certain classes I will go to because I want to get to know the choreographer and expand my network. Trust me, I do not like the reality of class culture here in the city, but it IS a reality right now, so I move forward by compartmentalizing it in my brain.

There are the projects, jobs, and classes I take on because I love them and they fill me up, and then there are the projects, jobs, and classes I take on because they enhance my career and sustain my livelihood as a human being. It’s all about the balance. This shift in perspective, while both new and what will surely be a  lifelong  exercise in finding the right balance, I am certain will help me continue finding the joy in every moment. I will be able to walk into that aforementioned teaching job knowing that it is time to work. I will be able to take a step back and appreciate the work for what it is because I will no longer be expecting it to be something it isn’t.

When I transitioned from dance being my hobby to it being my career, because it is the thing I love the most in the world, I expected it to be sunshine and rainbows all the time. I was never told, or maybe I just didn’t listen, or wasn’t ready to hear it at the time, that sometimes this would mean doing work I didn’t necessarily love, and sometimes that work would take up the majority of my time. However, that in no way shape or form means that you should quit and stop doing that work, it means you should understand the “why.” If you understand the “why” of what you choose to do, and if at its core it is moving you forward towards the life you truly want to be living, then it is worth the sacrifice it may bring.

Fill your time and your life with the things that bring you joy, but remember that there is a balance between the work and the play. Sometimes it’s going to feel like work and that’s ok, as long as the payoff is worth it. So here’s to looking at our lives as a big picture, letting the times that we love what we’re doing fill us up, and chasing the life of our dreams.   

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

The most important thing I want for my life is to find joy in every single day, every moment if I can. Even the sad, difficult, heart wrenching moments: I want to enter and live them with an open heart and remain rooted to my sense of joy. As I talk about this, I think it’s important to remember that joy and happiness are two different things. I don’t want to be happy all of the time, even though that would be really awesome life doesn’t work that way and I know that. Our happiness is circumstantial, triggered by external events happening in our lives, while joy is internal, the light that we carry with us in all that we do. Now I am not always successful at this, and I actually get quite frustrated with myself when I don’t feel that joy or I forget to notice it. But, this last week I was reminded of what I believe is the absolute key for living a life filled with joy: finding joy in our lives doesn’t just happen, it is a very specific way in which we approach our life and it must be practiced.  

When I began the process of prioritizing my time last week, one of the things I committed to was taking at least 2 dance classes every week (I am proud to say that I stuck to that, and man did it feel good!) As an added bonus, there was one class in particular that taught me a very important lesson. This class was with Parker Esse and inspiration struck while we were doing a standard across the floor pirouette combination. After everyone went across the room once, he stopped the music and took a moment to talk to us about it. Yes, he made pointers about technique, but he also dived into an idea about how the way in which we approach the combination, whether we’ve been turning for 20 years, 15 years, or just 1 year, is extremely important.

He spoke about shifting our focus from concentration to determination, and how our determination must be rooted in positivity and joy. Our own personal self doubt and fear are the only things standing in our way. We must release that self doubt and fear and lead with determination, positivity and joy. We must take a risk and show up as the absolute greatest version of ourselves, because this is when the real you walks into the room; and that is who people want to work with: people who have fun, enjoy what they are doing, and walk into a room confident, excited, and never apologizing for their talent or who they are.

Now, the next thing he said is what I believe to be the most crucial point: we must “practice this feeling.” We cannot expect to walk into an audition and automatically know how to approach the material confidently and joyfully. This is something we must practice every single day, and it starts with a simple across the floor combination,  our warm up, everything. We must practice the feeling.

The whole time inside my brain I was screaming “yes, yes, YES!” He was so right. Those are the type of people I want to be around and want to work with, and when I am that version of myself, things just work out better in my life; and better yet, I feel really good and enjoy life so much more. As I continued thinking about what Parker said, I realized that yes, this is amazing advice for auditions and our career, but it also 100% applies to everyday life.

If I am saying that I want to find joy in every moment of my life, I can’t expect that to just happen. I can’t cross my fingers and hope that I’m going to be in an awesome mood everyday when I wake up making that day a really great day. I have to practice approaching every single thing I do with a sense of determination, positivity and joy. I must be taking risks everyday and always be showing up as the absolute greatest version of myself.

It seems like such a simple concept, but it can be incredibly difficult to put into practice. It is so much easier to see the negative things about ourselves and our lives, and it can feel selfish to acknowledge the good things about ourselves and our lives. But you also deserve it, it feels WAY better, and this is when the magic happens. Not to mention, as cliche as it may be, life is short and you only get every moment once. So work hard and reach for the stars, but enjoy every bit of it along the way, otherwise: what’s the point?

Today is the first day of 2018, a fresh slate and perfect opportunity to build and craft our lives in the way we want. Today is a new beginning and it is our chance to practice approaching every moment with determination, joy and positivity. Today is the day to take our lives in our own hands. So here’s to releasing doubts and fears, leading our lives joyfully and consciously, and making magic happen!  

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

The last month and a half of every year is a crazy and wonderful time. From Thanksgiving until New Years Day my life is filled to the brim with birthday celebrations (mine and every other member of my immediate family) and the insane yet wonderful holiday magic of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years is all around. With so many important moments packed into such a short amount of time, it is very important for me to find moments to pause and reflect on my life. To remember and appreciate everything that has happened within the last year, what accomplishments I have achieved, what I am grateful for, and also meditate on the areas of my life where I would like to see growth and really focus on in the year to come. We are smack dab in the middle of this crazy time, so when I celebrated my birthday last week I dedicated time to sit down and really look at my life in this moment. As 2017 comes to a close, there are so many things in my life to be grateful for, but there is one trend in my life that I have become aware of, have been procrastinating really dealing with, but am now determined to work on rectifying in the coming months.

I am someone who wants to do and accomplish many things in my life but I have realized, that in trying to accomplish this myriad of things, I spread my focus too thin and I juggle way too many things at once. This makes me feel like I am doing everything just passably, when I could be doing 1 or 2 things exceptionally. I am not quite sure how I have overlooked this for so long, but it got pointed out to me about 2 months ago and now it is impossible for me to unsee. And frankly, it’s driving me nuts.

Over the last 2 months I have slowly noticed this trend pop up all over my life. Every few days there’s been a major “A-ha!” moment, but not like an exciting  ‘A-ha!’ breakthrough moment, it’s actually more like, “well crap, there it is again...and again...and again...” This became incredibly stressful. You know how when you are doing something in your life that isn’t exactly good for you, but you don’t know that it’s not good for you, so you’re living in naive bliss? But then something happens and all of a sudden this great light is shed and you realize what you’ve been doing and now there is no way to unsee it? Yea...That is exactly what happened to me, but this habit was so ingrained in how I live my life that, even though I knew I needed to fix it, figuring out how to do that felt incredibly daunting and overwhelming.

So I spent the better part of 2 months overwhelmed and telling myself, “ok we’re going to fix this,” but never actually fixing it. I kept blaming the fact that I was busy and simply didn’t have time to deal with it right now (#vicoiuscycle….). I looked at my calendar and knew that life calmed down a bit after my birthday, so I kept saying, ‘as soon as my birthday is over, we’re really gonna fix this.’ Well, last week was my birthday; it was officially time to face this challenge head on.

Now, if there is one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am really terrible at the logistics and organization of my life, especially when there are many moving parts to consider. I recognize what all needs to get done and what needs to get accomplished, but creating an organized plan to get it done is not my strong suit. Lucky for me, my boyfriend is really good at that. So 2 days after my birthday, after getting so overwhelmed by my inability to prioritize what I actually wanted to get done and having a total breakdown, I sat in a chair in our kitchen while he cooked dinner and we talked through my life in a way that I rarely can: objectively.

He took me through an exercise to assess how I am currently spending my time. First, I made a list of all the things I want to prioritize in my life moving forward. I made this list small and compact so that I can begin creating days that are intentionally filled with the things I want to be working on. Then I made a list of everything I do for work on a weekly basis. I then went back to the first list and wrote down what percentage of my time currently goes to these priorities. This was really depressing...lets just say that the numbers were even smaller than the list itself.

Then I did the same thing for the 2nd list. This 2nd list was s made up of work hours that are  non-negotiable; I have to make money and they are concrete commitments. With that in mind, we revisited the first list and assigned realistic weekly/monthly time commitments that I can prioritize and fit within the parameters of those concrete hours.

When I took a step back and looked at the information we had created, I felt extremely empowered. While I knew that this would take time, dedication and sitting down at the beginning of every week to very clearly map out how I would be spending my time, I also knew that this was realistic. And better yet, it all seemed so clear in my brain. Going forward I would know exactly what my goals are for the week and I could draw a crystal clear picture for how to structure my time every single day. Not to mention I made a hard list of my priorities, I could know to schedule these things first and that they have first dibs on my time. When other things come up, I could look at my schedule and have clear boundaries put in place. I could  confidently say ‘yes I have time for that,’ or ‘no, I simply cannot make that happen this week.’        

That is so incredibly empowering for me. While I know I must hold myself accountable for scheduling my time clearly every single week, if I can stick to it, I know I will alleviate a lot of the stress currently in my life. Plus, I think I will see even more progress and growth in the areas of my life where I want to excel. It finally feels like I am taking my life in my own hands and living very intentionally every single day, and man does that feel good. So here is to a time of reflection, prioritizing my time and my goals, and building the life I truly want to be living day in and day out.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be a dancer. Dance is the one thing that has always made sense in my life. It has taught me who I am as a person and it has given me a voice. So when it came time to decide what to do with my life, there wasn’t really a question, I was going to be a dancer. Over the years this dream has grown, been cultivated, and become more specific. As I have thought about the path of my career I knew that one of the major career milestones I wanted to check off of my list was to be on Broadway (and if you’ve been following my blog, you know that the whole point is to document my journey to reach my goal of being on Broadway by June of 2018). Well, this past Monday and Tuesday that goal felt a whole lot more real and a whole lot more possible when I got to dance on a Broadway stage for the very first time!

This last week was the 29th annual “Gypsy of the Year” competition. It was held at the New Amsterdam Theatre, which is currently home to Aladdin on Broadway and I performed in the ‘National Tours’ number, choreographed by Chaz Wolcott. When I was asked to be a part of this number I was so excited and I desperately wanted to say yes, but I was worried it wouldn’t fit within my schedule. I was so caught up with making sure I could make the scheduling work that I did not put two and two together that this meant I would be performing on a Broadway stage. It wasn’t until the next day when I pulled up the website to explain the show to my roommate that I realized, “OH MY GOD! This takes place at the New Amsterdam Theatre!” Que absolute freak out moment.

Now, this is a very full circle moment for me. When I returned to NYC after touring with “Beauty and the Beast,” I worked merchandise at Aladdin, i.e. my survival job was in the New Amsterdam Theatre. I walked into that theatre night after night, never ceasing to be amazed by the sheer beauty of the space, always in awe and inspired by the performers dancing up on that stage and dreaming of the day that it would be my turn.

Well on Monday morning it was officially my turn. I showed up for tech rehearsal at 10AM, entered the theatre through the stage door, and oh my god did that feel good. I didn’t care that I wasn’t entering for a paid, 8 show/week, Broadway contract, I was walking through the stage door and getting ready to dance on a Broadway stage. 4 year old Anna who started dancing because she liked the costumes, but hid behind her moms legs and wouldn’t talk to anyone, had made it here.

When it came time for us to go out on stage, we walked down 5 flights of stairs from our dressing room, because as I learned, Broadway has a lot stairs, walked backstage and out onto that stage. Wow: my breath was taken away. However, that moment was short lived because we only had 15 minutes on stage to block and run the number. We quickly went through the blocking and then we were able to run the number once before our time was up. Towards the end of the number, there is a moment where we are all still and we raise our right arm to the sky. It was a moment of stillness and my eyes welled up as the reality of where I was and what I was doing sunk in.

42nd street was right outside those doors, bustling with people who traveled from all over the world to see this city and this stage, and there I was dancing on it. My dream, that began when I was an unbelievably shy 4 year old, had brought me to this moment and that is just insanely cool. I’m tearing up as I write this because I know how many people there are out there that never discover their dream, and if they do, for whatever reason, may not be lucky enough to get to live it. And there I was, in the middle of a moment where I realized that I was truly living my dream. Those moments don’t happen as often as they should, so I am counting my lucky stars for this one.   

The performances took place later that evening and again the following afternoon.It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The rush of running onstage to a packed Broadway house is a feeling I will never forget; it was nothing short of magic. At the end of the show on Tuesday we learned that $5,609,211 had been raised in only 6 weeks for Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids. Wow, that is beyond incredible. Not only did being a part of this show make one of my dreams come true, but so much good and much needed help is going to come from all of the money that this incredible organization raised.   

If you have a dream, no matter how big, small or outrageous, I hope you have the courage to believe in it, fight for it, and work as hard as you can to make it happen. Because I believe in a world of possibility and I am here to tell you that you can do it. I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to have experienced this moment, and whether or not I ever actually book a Broadway show, I will always be able to say that I danced on a Broadway stage, and that is truly a dream come true for me.            

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

 

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

I’ve always found the sequence in which things happen in our lives to be incredibly interesting. You can be absolutely certain that a particular job or relationship is exactly what you want in your life, and is the right thing for you in that moment, but for whatever reason it simply doesn’t work out. It isn’t until you can see each moment in hindsight that it all makes sense. If it wasn’t for everything working out exactly as it had up until this point, you wouldn’t be where you are, surrounded by the people that you are, or be the person that you are. This however, can be very frustrating and difficult to remember when it feels like nothing is working out the way you believe it should. Last weekend I was reminded how true this is when I was finally able to cross a career bucket list moment off of my list: after 5 years of auditioning and it never panning out, I finally got to work for Disney!

After going to an open call back in June, for a local project Disney was putting on here in the city, I finally received “the call” (well actually it was “the email”) that I would be performing with Disney here in New York City! I was so excited! It was a very short contract, but it didn’t matter, I could finally say that I would be working for Walt Disney Entertainment!

Last weekend, after months of anticipation, and a whole lot of speculating about what I would actually be doing (it was all confidential at the time of the audition and for months leading up to the event), it finally happened! It was a collaboration with Saks Fifth Avenue to celebrate the unveiling of their holiday window display. This year is the 80th anniversary of Snow White, so Saks created animated window displays and themed them all around Snow White. For the grand unveiling they collaborated with Disney to create a truly magical event.

It was as magical and wonderful as I could have imagined. The show was only about 4 minutes in total, but it had many moving parts: 40 dancers, a 40 person choir, Snow White, her Prince, the 7 dwarfs, Disney’s Sofia Carson, a full scale light show, fireworks, and it all happened on 5th avenue right in front of the store which was completely decked out in lights and holiday decorations; it was truly incredible to be a part of. Even though the show itself was not a significant amount of time, the grand scale on which it operated had to be coordinated and put together very strategically.

The show took place in a public space, so we had to block and tech the show in the middle of the night, 3 am to be exact. Cue going to sleep at 8PM and drinking coffee at 2AM as I head into midtown in the dead of night. However, the street was not completely closed off at 3 am, and because it’s New York City, there were still quite a few cars on the street. Hence, it was a bit like James Corden’s crosswalk theatre. We had 40 seconds on the street to block while the lights were red, but as soon as it turned green, they yelled “cut” and we had to disperse as quickly as possible, wait about 30 seconds for the lights to turn red again, and we would run out as fast as we could to where we left off. We did this over and over again until everything was fully blocked. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced; running back and forth across 5th avenue, dancing 1 or 2 eight counts before hearing “CUT” yelled on the megaphone and running away so we weren’t hit by a car, taking in the magnificent sight that was the lights on the Saks storefront, freezing because we were dancing outside, and being completely and utterly exhausted because it was the middle of the night. It was an absolutely crazy experience and I loved every second of it.       

When it came time for the performance, it was simply a dream. There is something truly magical about the holidays in New York City, and you could feel that holiday magic buzzing through the air. We were in beautiful costumes made specifically for us and this event, the streets were crowded with people eager to see the iconic Saks light show and window display, our backdrop was the iconic light show and window display, and I was surrounded by professional, talented, and wonderful people so excited to bring this event to life. It was a Disney experience for the books; a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life.       

With a career in Musical Theatre, when you are hearing no after no after no, it becomes increasingly more difficult to remember and trust that everything will work out as it is meant to. For the past 5 years of my life I have been auditioning for Disney, consistently making it to the end, being placed in their files, filling out paperwork, but never receiving “the call” telling me I had the job. And trust me, there were many moments when I was convinced it was going to happen and my heart was broken when it simply didn’t (those are the moments that taught me you cannot get too attached to a job during an audition process!)

As I look back over the last 5 years of my career since moving to NYC, I can see the through line of why things worked out as they did. Each job has brought specific and wonderful people into my life, taught me invaluable lessons about this career path and most importantly, about myself. But as I look back at each moment that I so desperately wanted to receive that call from Disney, I realize now that it would’ve taken me away from the opportunities and people that I did end up with, and for me that is such a devastating reality. I would not trade a single contract, Disney or otherwise, for the connections and experiences I've made over my time here in New York City. That being said, I am so grateful that my path ended up bringing me into Disney’s world, it was magical and wonderful, and I am trusting that it was short and sweet because new and exciting possibilities are just around the corner.      

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune : Create Through the Fear by Anna Stone

Have you ever been struck with an idea; something you know in your heart of hearts to be perfectly aligned with you as a human and all of the things you want in the world, and that you also believe the world truly needs? The dots are connecting, the lights are clicking, and the ideas are snowballing, but all of a sudden you are washed over with a sense of fear? All of your insecurities flood your brain, you begin to question your ability to actually do it, or if it really is even a good idea? Yea, me too. Just this last week actually. As I have learned, fear, without a doubt, will always show up when we want to do something really amazing, but we must act anyway. Today I am choosing to trust my voice: respect that my fear wants to keep me safe, but act anyway.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Brene Brown has shaped the way I navigate my life. As I’ve walked through the last few days, with fear and self doubt flooding my brain, her words have been whispering in the back of my head reminding and urging me to listen. Brown tells us that when we dive into something big in our lives, a few things are inevitable: fear, self doubt, comparison, anxiety, and uncertainty. However, she tells us, “Instead of shying away from the critics, expect that they’ll be there, in the front row seats. Then acknowledge them, know exactly what they’re going to say, and ignore them. Say, I see you, I hear you, but I’ll do this anyway.”

In choosing a life as a performer, I have chosen to live a life that constantly asks me to exist in a vulnerable state, to put my true self on the line in hopes that others will like what they see. When I chose to begin writing this very blog series, #BroadwayByJune, I chose to put my life, my goals and my story out into the world, even though there was, and still is, a very real possibility of me failing. Every ounce of this comes with fear, self doubt, comparison, anxiety, and uncertainty. Experiencing and feeling these emotions is still one of the most difficult things I deal with. But, through all of these experiences, I have gotten much better at acknowledging and recognizing these emotions, hearing them, and knowing that I can and must act anyway.

Because this idea is new and not completely developed, I am choosing to not divulge the specifics right now(I promise it will all come in time!) However, I will say that this last week has felt like an emotional rollercoaster. It began with being struck with what felt like a pure light of inspiration, my brain going 9 million miles/second with ideas, my dreams and ideas growing bigger and bigger, diving head first into crafting the specifics to begin building from the ground up, but then being stopped dead in my tracks once the fear decided to wash over me.

I am not ashamed to admit that when this happened, I spent the better part of a day watching Netflix and being frustrated at myself for not working and allowing my insecurities and fears to dictate my actions. When I finally got myself out of the house, after about ¾ of the day, I went to see a dear friend perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Getting myself out of my apartment, focusing on something entirely different, and seeing beautiful artists on stage living their dream, was just what I needed to begin thinking clearly.

Watching every single one of those artists shine on stage that night was inspiring and it reminded me why I chose this particular career path in the first place. It’s difficult and frustrating, but when you are so in love with what you do and are working on, the challenges and frustrations are worth it. This reminder was the exact perspective shift that I needed.

On the train ride home after the show I simultaneously remembered and reminded myself of a few very important points. First, that nothing great in life happens without taking a risk, and sometimes that risk is really huge. Second, just because something is hard does not mean it is wrong, more often than not when we find what we are meant to do, it challenges us in difficult, yet incredible ways. Last, we all carry a unique and magical light in us that is capable of beautiful and magnificent things.

I must trust and honor my light. Today I am choosing to trust my voice: respect that my fear wants to keep me safe, but act anyway.   

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

As we navigate and move through our lives, the most crucial decision that we make is how we choose to spend our time. I’ve always been a naturally very anxious person; I worry about whether or not I’m doing the right things, worry if I’m doing them the “right” way, and I constantly wonder if I’m doing enough. If we take a positive spin on this, it’s great that I care so deeply about what I’m doing, but, on the other hand, the anxiety and fear I feel over making sure I’m spending my time the “right” way, many times, leads to me simply not doing anything at all. Very counterproductive. But over the last few weeks a particular word and concept has been popping up in my life: the word is ‘flow,’ and the journey it’s taking me on has already been mind blowing.    

The word flow first entered my world when I stumbled upon a book in the Amazon Bookstore called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” The bright teal and green colors on the cover initially caught my eye, but the content of the book is what sold me. Written by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, he delves into how our consciousness works and how when we are able to organize the information that enters our consciousness we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives. He refers to this as “flow- the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” He argues that we are able to find a state of flow even in the most humdrum of activities, and our ability to enter this state on a regular basis will lead to overall more happiness in our lives.

I’ve been incorporating yoga classes into my fitness routine through free classes I’ve found online (that I am able to do in my living room!). In one particular class the teacher spoke a great deal about finding flow within our transitions, and finding that flow with a sense of grace. She reminded us that the one inevitable constant in life is change and we will benefit greatly if we choose to navigate the transitions of change with grace. As she was speaking about discovering grace and flow within our practice and our life, I was reminded of a meditation practice I had stumbled on a few days prior: “Breathe in present moment, breathe out joyful moment.”

I could feel all of the dots beginning to connect in my brain. Not only are we 100% in control of where we place our attention at any given moment, but we are able to deliberately choose to make it a joyful moment. By breathing in the present moment we bring ourselves into the moment at hand, we are aware of what is happening inside of us and around us; we are so focused on the present moment that we are unable to worry about anything else. By breathing out a joyful moment, we are making a deliberate and conscious choose to make this moment in time a joyful one.

You always have the choice.

Our moments can be spent worrying and searching for answers, or we can be 100% present, truly experiencing the beauty and magic of being a living breathing human being that is able to experience all that the world has to offer.

I don’t know about you, but I find that completely magical. It is extremely cliche, but we are only guaranteed this present moment in time. Your life is made up of multiple, single moments strung together, so how much more beautiful and enjoyable will your life be if you truly let yourself live in the flow of your life and find the joy in every moment?

The concept of flow coming into my life has made me realize how tired I am of being anxious and worried about my life needing to be a specific way all of the time. I am determined to live in the present moment and experience the joy that this life has to offer. It’s all too short and too fleeting to not fully experience and love every second. If flow has done this much for me in a few short weeks, I cannot wait to see where it leads me in the moments to come.   

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

As I navigate my life on a day to day basis, one of my most essential priorities is establishing balance. If you’ve been following my journey, I speak to this truth a lot. I have discovered that balance is my key to a happier and healthier life and I have spent the last year working to create the right balance for myself. Hard work within our career is vital and our happiness grows as we are striving and advancing towards things we are passionate about, but I do not personally believe that this can be our entire existence. Among many other things, for me balance consists of fostering and cultivating meaningful relationships, allowing myself time to rest and breathe, and taking time to experience the beauty of the world. NYC is a magical place, but for my sanity, I must periodically escape the rush and constant hustle so that I am able to breathe and reset. This past weekend I indulged in an escape that was filled with breathtaking fall views, laughter, new friends, and a much needed mental reset that allowed me to re-establish this sense of balance in my life.  

On Friday morning I took the Amtrak out of Penn Station for the very first time when my boyfriend and I boarded the “Vermonter,” and set off on the most beautiful train ride to Vermont. It seems so silly, but I forgot how insanely beautiful the changing of the leaves are in the fall. It’s been 10 years since I’ve lived somewhere that truly sees the transformation into fall, and I was awestruck by the vibrant colors and endless supply of beautiful sights.

While sitting on the train, I took a moment to journal and reflect on where I was mentally I am a huge fan of journaling, it’s an incredible way to stay in touch with ourselves and where we are in our lives. It can be an extremely therapeutic way of working through things and you never know where it will lead you.

While writing, I took note that I had been letting some old insecurities into my life. I was not trusting who I was or the strengths I know I bring to the table. Instead I was wasting time comparing myself to others and wishing I had different strengths. This is an insecurity I know very well from my youth, but I am proud to say that I have worked hard and it rarely creeps in as an adult, so I tend to get very down on myself when I start to feel this way. My head starts to flood with thoughts like “what is wrong with you?” or “just get over it.” Thoughts that are simply not productive for anyone.

So I paused, thought for a moment, and decided to take a different approach. I took the things I was wishing I had or wishing I was and countered them with strengths I do have. For example, I wrote that “I may not be the life of the party who has 9 million friends, but I am someone who loves deep conversation about life, connection, authenticity, passion, and I’m a damned good listener.” As I continued the exercise I remembered so many of the things that I love about myself: the things that make me unique and make me, me. I remembered that my attitude and perspective are everything, and I have complete control over both of them. With my final thought I gave myself permission to love and enjoy every second of this life, and I made a promise to take this weekend to live in the moment and find the beauty around me.  

The weekend provided just that. Vermont has no shortage of beauty and the fall colors that paint the landscape left me in awe everywhere I looked. The light pollution was low so I was able to look up and see a true night sky filled with stars; one of my favorite views in the world that I miss dearly living in NYC. I got to stand at the edge of Lake Champlain and watch the sunset; there is something about being at the edge of a lake and taking in the vastness that has always helped me put life into perspective. There is so much out there that I have never seen, so much that exists beyond my bubble of a world. I find that idea so comforting. I stand there and I see all the possibility that exists in the world, an endless supply of exploration and discovery. I find it truly magical.         

The weekend was also filled with getting to know new friends, playing “Cards Against Humanity” for the very first time, and playing with the most incredible cats I’ve ever met. Time spent laughing hysterically and simply enjoying the moments spent together. I tend to get so caught up in my day to day hustle in New York, that I forget to simply be sometimes. These moments of connection and doing things simply for the joy of doing them helped me to shift my perspective outside of myself and see how much opportunity there is for happiness even in the most ordinary of moments. It was beautiful and exactly what I needed.

My weekend escape left me feeling grateful for the life I have created for myself and all of the beauty that exists within it. Life is all about balance and indulging in moments that bring you happiness and help you stay on track is a part of that balance. Taking the time to breathe, reset and shift my perspective this weekend left me feeling rejuvenated and ready to jump back into the hustle and keep working towards my big picture goals. Vacation and play are incredibly valuable in our journey and they offer wonderful perspective. We should never be afraid to balance our hard work and dedication with these simple pleasures.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Ever since I started the Broadway By June project I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the value of setting goals and intentions within your life. I've learned that there are a lot of different opinions about goal setting, and many people believe it's actually not a good idea to set a goal that you can't guarantee you will achieve. I disagree; I believe in pushing your limits and reaching for the stars, because if you never try how will you ever know? This approach is risky though; if you always shoot for the stars there are that many more opportunities to fail. While failure is actually a good thing, providing a huge learning opportunity and showing that we are taking risks for the life we want, (another post for another day!) I have realized something essential that bridges that gap between huge goals and achievability: you must have structure within your goal-setting to maintain your momentum. By structuring your goals with realistic and attainable resolutions; resolutions that you can mark as complete on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis; resolutions that aid in your journey towards your big goal; you are more likely to stay motivated, continue moving forward, and reach those goals.

I recently finished reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and throughout the book she places a huge emphasis on the type of resolutions discussed above. Her story has become a huge source of inspiration in my life; so much so that I am in the process of creating my very own happiness project. The cool thing is that everyone’s happiness project is unique and can be designed specifically so that it is suited to the individual. The basic idea is that you set resolutions for yourself based on parts of your life where you want to find improvement and overall more happiness. The catch is that these resolutions have to be measurable. Instead of saying “I want to take more dance classes,” you would say, “I will take 3 dance classes a week.” By stating that you will take 3 dance classes every week, you have the opportunity to look back at the end of each week and can clearly say, yes I did this, or, no I did not do this.  

I am so grateful this book came into my life when it did. I have been feeling a bit aimless with my goal of Broadway By June over the last few weeks. There haven’t been a ton of auditions happening, and I haven’t been in a strong enough financial situation to take tons of classes to feel like I’m growing and mastering my craft. Even if it’s not 100% accurate, feeling aimless is a huge source of unhappiness for me, and I tend to snowball pretty quickly if I don’t find a way to resolve that feeling, so when I read this quote by Rubin, I was struck with an idea:

“You hit a goal, you keep a resolution...It’s something you resolve to do every day, forever. Striving toward a goal provides the atmosphere of growth so important to happiness, but it can be easy to get discouraged if reaching the goal is more difficult than you expected…..With resolutions, the expectations are different. Each day I try to live up to my resolutions. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but everyday is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.”     

Reading this quote felt like the universe hitting me upside the head and saying, “Hey! Pay attention!”  

Yes, I want to hit Broadway By June, that is my goal and the next big life achievement I want to cross off my list. But, Broadway is also not the end all be all of my world. Better yet: Broadway is not a guaranteed goal I will achieve. So, I am, above all else, concerned with my everyday life being full of happiness, fulfillment, and growth. This has become another goal, a new goal: that through this happiness project I will create resolutions that will keep me accountable and striving towards Broadway By June, as well as stay with me to create a day to day life in the arts that keeps me fulfilled, balanced, and happy.

As you read this I am working to do just that. Within my happiness project, which contains resolutions centered around creativity, friendships, organization, and more, I have begun to create a “career resolutions” section. Every single career related resolution, I believe, will be a positive dose of accomplishment whenever I am able to physically cross it off my list. It will keep me motivated by finding bits of success on a regular basis while acting as a driving force towards Broadway By June because each resolution specifically caters to growth within my performing career.

As of now, my “career resolutions” are as follows:

  • Sing Everyday
  • Stretch/Exercise everyday
  • Take (at least) 2 voice lessons a month
  • Get known by 1 new choreographer a month
  • Sent out 5 more agent submissions
  • Put a pop song in my rep book

This is just the beginning of my career resolutions list and my happiness project, and I am so excited about it! I plan to begin here and adjust accordingly as my life and career shifts.

Working to achieve a goal can be a daunting task, especially if it’s something you cannot guarantee you will achieve (like Broadway). But, when you create resolutions that are 100% manageable and will help you move forward in achieving that goal all of the sudden the process becomes infinitely more positive and, better yet, it feels possible.    

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott

#BroadwayByJune by Anna Stone

Money can be such an awkward thing to talk about; it’s a taboo, but it is a very real struggle as a performer trying to make it in NYC. I don’t know a single performer who hasn’t, at least once in their career, struggled financially. One of the largest stresses of a life in the arts, in my opinion, is the difficulty that is creating financial stability and consistency. Performance work is contract to contract, which doesn’t lend itself to stability, and you want the work you do in between contracts to be flexible enough so that you have the time to audition for your next performance job, thus, more instability. I have worked hard over the last few years to find the right balance, but sometimes I find myself in an unfortunate financial bind, like I did over this last week. When that happens, it is vital that we shift our priorities and get creative with how we spend our time.

I start to feel so much shame when I am struggling financially. I begin to feel worthless because I can’t afford to take the classes I want to advance my career, or I can’t afford to grab drinks with a friend. But, the reality is this is not a reflection on my character and it does not diminish who I am as a human. When I found myself in a position of financial stress last week, I had a choice to make, I could sulk in self-pity, or I could be honest with myself and begin to move forward towards solving the problem.

Sometimes the hardest choice we have to make is being honest with ourselves and actively deciding to be happy. It takes a lot of energy and discipline,but I did just that. I made the conscious choice to recognize that this is simply a struggle and a stress in my present moment: something that I need to muscle through. In forcing myself to embrace self-honesty I was able to identify the problem at its source. So I opted to: A- find a solution to my current financial pickle, and B- get creative with how I would continue my journey and my training while in this pickle.

Thankfully, I got pretty lucky in finding a fairly immediate solution to my financial stress. Through VIPKID, my side job where I teach ESL classes online to kids in China, I have the ability to set my availability and create my own schedule. So I took full advantage of this and began stacking many more classes than I typically schedule throughout my week to teach. This simple step already began to alleviate some of the stress, but I knew it was not going to be enough. Thankfully (again), an opportunity presented itself to pick up a weekly evening of teaching dance classes in Long Island. I knew it would be a substantial time commitment, and it meant a full afternoon/evening outside of the city, but the money would be enough to set me back on a comfortable track so I seized the opportunity. I was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief; there was a light at the end of this tunnel!  

Now these opportunities didn’t simply fall into my lap out of thin air. They are the product of 5 years spent in the city networking. I’ve always struggled with the concept of networking, it is something that has always felt ingenuine to me, but I have realized that it is quite the opposite. Networking isn’t about kissing up, it’s about showing up, being yourself, and proving that you are a dependable person to anyone watching. Both jobs listed above are opportunities I have because of people I met through auditioning and contracts. I know that doesn’t sound like “networking,” but anytime you meet someone new is an opportunity to cultivate a relationship, and cultivating relationships is exactly what networking is about. You never know where they will lead you.    

Now, just because I had money coming did not mean it was already in my account and I could start spending like crazy. I had to get creative with the way I was spending my time so I could make sure I kept working towards my goals in the meantime. For me, this translated to spending a lot of time in my apartment. I am naturally a homebody, so this didn’t bother me, but I did still need to be productive. To keep my body moving, I found a website filled with free yoga classes online. All levels and all lengths: http://yogameditationhome.com/yoga-videos/ I had hit a gold mine! I pulled out my yoga mat and voila! I had found a free and enjoyable way to keep my body moving and in shape.  

I also took this opportunity to flex my creativity muscles. Having a lot of time at my apartment gave me the ability to continue working on an art project I hadn’t touched in awhile, (but am loving and am so excited to finish). I also took the opportunity to research and begin to build some exciting projects for Motivated Movers (www.motivatedmoversnyc.com We’re a beginner dance training program if you’re interested in learning more!) I don’t always create time in my schedule for projects like these, but I’m always grateful when I do; it’s incredibly fulfilling.  

Focusing on creativity was not something I typically valued. I actually never viewed myself as a creative person until about a year ago. But, as I have allowed myself to explore my personal creativity I have learned to trust my instincts more. I see possibility in new and exciting ways, and I’ve simply had a lot more fun! And, as an added super bonus, exploring my voice as an artist in this way has allowed me to show up in the audition room as a much more confident and joyful version of me.

Being in a stressful financial situation is never fun, but if you’re in your 20s and pursuing an art career in NYC it’s bound to happen. That’s ok! Money should not be a taboo; it is something we all deal with. While navigating this last week, choosing to embrace my current situation and make the most out of it, while remembering that I am not defined by my current situation and that I am still a worthy human, made all the difference in the world. It is not always the easiest choice, but it is an essential one. It is the type of choice that provides us with fulfillment and makes us better performers, artists, and humans.

Editor: Brian Crawford Scott