Friday, January 12, 2018

The Road to New York City

As I close my 100-day mark in NYC, it occurs to me that not a lot of people know how I managed to finally make this move to the Big Apple! The reason I want to tell this story is because it is a true testament to trust and faith that things will work out the way they're supposed to; that beautiful things can happen, even in the midst of hopelessness.


May 2017. I had been trying to move to New York City for the better part of a year. I was living in Orlando and my situation was rocky. I was in the midst of a really complicated break up, I was artistically dry, and I knew I needed a change. Staying in Orlando just didn't make sense anymore. My heart was saying "New York, New York!", but it was clear that it wasn't the time. There were plans made over and over again, only to be repeatedly shot down. It felt like there were road blocks in every direction. So, I made the only decision that seemed to be clear of obstacles: I could move home.

That's how I ended up back in Cleveland, living with my parents, working with my dad, and spending most nights watching Frasier reruns. It was a really lonely summer. I realized that I couldn't really just slip back into my cozy little Cleveland life after being gone for two years. My friends were engaged, married, expecting, buying houses, moving away, starting careers, and I was... not. My relationship had gone down in flames, I had no direction, my best friends were a thousand miles away, home life was strained, I was sick all the time, I was totally lost. Thankfully I had an artistic opportunity at Cleveland Public Theatre, thanks to one of my CSU profs. You better believe I held onto that with everything I had, because other than that glimmer of light, I was entirely depressed.

The scariest part of about all of this for me was that I almost entirely lost my faith. I felt abandoned, particularly by God. I couldn't wrap my brain around why He would allow me to go through this sort of depression. Why was the rug constantly being pulled out from under me? Why had so many people let me down? Why was He saying no to my ambitions? Why was I sick every night? Why was my relationship over? All these questions cycled through my head 24/7. Even in my sleep, I would dream about these questions. It was exhausting. I was so frustrated with God. I was ANGRY at Him. Even sitting through church was impossible. Shout out to the stranger who approached me in the prayer garden outside St. Matthias after I had fled the sanctuary in a full blown panic attack after the opening hymn. I had been sitting there in front of the statue of Mary for probably 45 minutes, sobbing, when a man came up to me, handed me a worn card of St. Anne, and said something to the effect of, "I don't know what's going on, but remember it too will pass." I still keep that baseball type card in my wallet.


Anyway, I got some help. I saw a spiritual director and a therapist. I went on a retreat with my mom. I tried to help myself out of this hole that just seemed to be getting deeper. There were moments of serious clarity and happiness in this! At one point, I had made plans to hike a 500 mile pilgrimage across northern Spain (the Camino de Santiago, if you've heard of it). As luck would have it, every one of these moments was met with an equally powerful moment of deflation. That pilgrimage? It was canceled because of my health issues. Meanwhile, I had given up on New York. As much as I wanted to go, I concluded that it just wasn't in the cards for me. So I started looking for a full time job and an apartment in Cleveland. I found the perfect apartment and two different job prospects that seemed like sure things. I thought I was finally getting somewhere! They all fell through at the last second.

That was rock bottom. I remember standing in my parents' kitchen, home alone, crying, looking up to the ceiling, throwing my hands up in defeat and yelling "it's in your hands now God! I'm giving all of this to you because I can't handle it anymore!"

It had all culminated in that moment: the depression, the panic attacks, the illness, the loneliness, the hurt, the loss, the jobs, the apartment, the breakup, the defeat, the road blocks, all of it. I threw it all in God's lap because I was collapsing under the weight and He was the only one who could take it. You know how people talk about "giving it up to God" and "a weight off your shoulders" and all the other sayings like that? I always understood them in theory but had never really experienced that sensation. That is, until that moment. For the first time all summer, I felt at peace.


Just a couple days after that, I went to New Jersey to visit my best friend, Kasey. I spent a week there, hanging out, shopping, enjoying some time away from Cleveland. It's only a short 45 minutes to NYC from her town, so I went into the city a few days and saw some friends. Then, PLOT TWIST, the craziest thing happened! I saw on Facebook that one of my old friends from Cleveland, who I hadn't seen in years, was leaving New York to go back home and was looking for people to fill her position at Kleinfeld (yes, of Say Yes to the Dress). On a whim, I sent my resume through. Within three days I had a job offer! Nora had also told me that she needed to sublet her room in her apartment in Manhattan and asked if I was interested. Needless to say, I went back to Cleveland and told my parents I was moving to New York City!

I was home for three days. I packed up everything I could fit in two suitcases, got a few boxes ready to be shipped out to me, booked a flight, and made the move! It was amazing insanity. I still can't believe it happened that way.

I don't tell this story looking for sympathy or pity. I tell it because I KNOW there are others out there suffering with similar things. I know we've all experienced at least one of these feelings before. I'm here to tell you that THINGS. WORK. OUT. The key is trust. It wasn't until I fully trusted God, and put every ounce of strength I had into doing so, that the door finally opened. All the rejection was because something bigger and better, something that I actually WANTED was ready for me. I just needed to be ready for it. I wouldn't be ready until I let go of all that weight. And now, here I am, 100 days into my Big City adventure, and I am beyond grateful for the outcome of that summer. I suffered, but out of the suffering came something truly amazing. I am living out my dream! I am healthy, I am motivated, and I am finding my place. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle with some stuff. Some days are still hard. But I keep trying to remember what it felt like to give it up to the Lord. As they say, "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018: Personal Renaissance


WOW it has been a while! A little over three years, to be exact. But with this new year, as with any new year, comes some new goals and ambitions, and one of mine was to get this blog up and running again. My most creatively productive and stimulating periods of time have been when I've been consistently blogging and writing. So, here I am, ready to put my thoughts back out into the universe, as well as share some of my creative lifestyle with all you readers!

I've given a lot of thought to this blog in the recent months, as I've geared up to get back at it. I went through some different ideas for new blogs, came up with some names, but ultimately decided that Free Sparrow is still my perfect canvas. It may go through a few changes, maybe look a little bit different, but I'm really excited to be back on this blog, into which I've poured a lot of time and effort.

SO! It's a new year! Is everyone excited? I love the new year. Yes, it's just another day. Yes, we should always be striving to better ourselves, and yes maybe we're fooling ourselves into thinking this time is more appropriate or special than others to makes changes. But the way I see it, you should take any opportunity for inspiration. If the idea of a fresh start inspires you, then follow that! Go for your goals, and use these changing dates to push you in that direction.

I've been especially introspective this New Year. I think it's because 2017 was arguably the toughest year I've faced yet. 2016 was rough, and we all said, "Oh, 2017 has to be better right??" I hope it was for all of you. Unfortunately, I found the opposite to be true. 2017 was a HUGE test in so many aspects. I won't get into that; after all, the new year is about looking forward! All you need to know is it has really pushed me to be reflective and move into 2018 with the proper mindset for success in many areas of my life. There's a lot I want to do in 2018. I took some time and wrote out in my journal all my goals for the coming year. There are quite a few of them! I broke them down into actionable items, as well, which is maybe the most organized thing I've ever done. The very first one I wrote down was exactly this: "get Free Sparrow back up and running". Others included your usual things, like "regain overall health" and "save money" and "travel more". I have some personal practices to implement, like writing and reading more, soaking up art and culture, and generally learning every day. I also have career goals: to audition like crazy, book some work, and turn equity by 2019. I want to register my small business, Cranberry Ink, in 2018 and get Pure Barre certified. And of course, my spiritual goals: to cultivate my relationship with God and give back to my community.

You may be thinking "WOAH girl slow down! Don't bite off more than you can chew!" Well, anyone who knows me knows that I just about always bite off more than I can chew. I'm gonna chalk it up to ambition! All of these things are combined into what I am calling my PERSONAL RENAISSANCE. This is very powerful wording for me. As you probably already know, "renaissance" is french for "rebirth". Think about that for a minute. It's an awesome concept, right?? Historically, it refers mainly to a huge manifestation of art and knowledge between the 14th and 17th centuries. The idea of consciously choosing to reclaim your artistry and cultural awareness is empowering!

That is exactly what I'm doing this year. My priority is my Personal Renaissance, and I'm seriously excited about it! It will involve my training for my craft, my art for my business, and research for my career. But it will also include personal learning on things I love, like fashion and music. I'm focusing on making choices like reading instead of scrolling endlessly through Facebook and seeing theatre over watching TV. I am dedicating myself to this time in my life. It's such an important season for me, having recently moved to New York and having endless opportunities for growth at my fingertips and absolutely nothing tying me down to anything.

The most important part of this entire process, though, is my faith and trust in God. This burning desire in my heart to learn and grow and make art, that comes from somewhere. I feel very blessed to have this scattered, creative, passionate brain. It makes me who I am and gives me so much drive to experience all the beautiful things in this world. God has led me to this place and into this season and I know he has so much to teach me. So, at this stage of life, it's all about my relationship with him and letting him lead me. I am powerful because I have him fighting right by my side. (I love the image of my God in battle, fighting for his people rather than sitting on his throne of clouds. It gives me goosebumps to think about.)

So here's to a year of faith and art and writing and creating and growth and passion! I'm so excited for 2018! There are big things coming in this year; I think we can all feel it! What are your goals and dreams for this year? What are you working towards in 2018?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween, A Few Days Late


Well, it is November 5th, and I am just now posting about Halloween. We are at the time in our academic semester when we are in tech rehearsals for our show, which I will post more about later, meaning that all my time is pretty much given to school. I haven't even had time to catch up on reading the blogs that I follow, let alone post on my own. This post is even going to be fairly brief.




This Halloween, I debated for weeks, as I normally do, about what I was going to dress up as for the holiday. Every year, I go back and forth between mediocre ideas and always end up settling on something pretty lame. This year, after spending an evening surrounded by animals at the Boo at the Zoo event near us, I decided to put some effort into my costume and go as a peacock! I did look up some stuff online, but I pretty much came up with the ideas by myself. I pulled together old dance pieces, and made my plume from peacock feathers that I bought at the craft store. The costume came together fairly quickly, and with my hair and makeup, I think I pulled it off pretty well!




I went to three parties on Halloween night and it was a blast! The costume went over really well, too. With everything that I added to it, I think I was also sort of channeling a Vegas showgirl. I was very happy with it, and while all of these photos were just taken with an iPhone, I think they also turned out well. What did you go as for Halloween this year? Did you make your own costume?


Note: I did my hair according to a mock-mohawk tutorial that Karmin posted years ago. You can find it on YouTube!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014



Thanks to the notorious rainy weather of Cleveland, doing outfit photos has been out of my reach during the past week. So, I have been going through my photos to see what kinds of interesting posts I can put together until I have the chance to get outside and shoot. I think it's about time I do a "bloopers" post, or a post of some of those strange, sometimes hilarious photos that come out of the rapid fire of photography. My sister takes photos for me sometimes, and she has a way of catching me in some really awkward facial moments. Since it seems like I'm gaining some regular readers, I suppose it's high time you get a glimpse of candid me.



Jul 2, 2013

Doing this post get me thinking about the posed online world in which I spend a decent portion of my time. Things I post on the internet are things that I write, that I choose to expose and how I present them. In reality, that is just a very very small fraction of what my life really is. There are a thousand moments that are captured by other photographs, other people's sight, or even my own mind that never make it onto the internet. Now I'm not saying that should change. No, I like that I am picky about what goes online. I choose to be discrete, specific, and picky about what I share publicly, and don't believe that there is anything wrong with that.



Jul 29, 2013

Sometimes, we choose to take those less-than-perfect moments and shove them under the rug, rather than acknowledge that they exist. Well, bloopers are a part of life. They happen every day. We say things, do things, think things that we consider to be embarrassing or wrong, when a lot of the time, they are just little quirks that mean nothing. Tripping on the street, for instance, or that moment when the food on your fork falls into your lap instead of your mouth. Or the time you accidentally spit on the person you're talking to because you're so excited about what you have to say. These things happen all the time, and they're part of our humanity! Let's not make such a fuss about them, and acknowledge them for what they are: real-life bloopers, and not a big deal.



So, enjoy these sometimes strange, sometimes "embarrassing" photos of me. They are bloopers, and I am not ashamed! Embrace your bloopers, and learn to laugh at them. These are the unposed, candid pictures. These are the reality. What about you? What do you think about those little blooper moments?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What I Wore: Apple Picking


As I mentioned in my earlier post about apple picking, sometimes I think it's necessary to embrace my Midwestern upbringing, especially around this time of year. For me, this meant taking advantage of the opportunity to wear overalls! I figure, once I'm living in New York, I will no longer be able to justify wearing such farm girl "fashions". Now is the time to sport the overalls, flannel, and enjoy the brisk Midwestern fall weather.





I've been thinking about purchasing a good pair of overalls for a while now. This is partially due to my urge to bring back the 90s in full swing. I haven't owned a pair since I was a small child, and for a long time I didn't think they would fit into my more feminine, classic wardrobe. However, as I get older, I'm realizing that I can have a wide variety of styles in my clothing arsenal. I figured this was the perfect time to try them out again! It turned out the orchard was a great choice. Plus, they are insanely comfortable (and you never have to worry about your pants falling down).





I'm gonna keep this post nice and short, but please enjoy the photos! How do you feel about "farm girl chic"?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

For the Love of Fair Trade!


Hey all! I am so beyond excited to announce my very first partnership! Free Sparrow and Lov'edu Living have partnered up to talk to you all about the importance of Free Trade. But before I dive into Free Trade itself, I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Lov'edu! Anna Boettcher founded the London-based company in 2013 around the beliefs of the power of ethical business. Every single one of the items that she sells is handmade from all natural materials, sustainably produced and fairly traded. She says that she wanted to "create a circle of giving", where everyone involved, from the designer to the seller to the buyer, would be getting exactly what they deserve. ETHICAL is the big word, here. Her business supports not only the creativity of the people making the products, but also the community from which they come. Currently, Lov'edu is showcasing collections from Paris, London, Africa, Thailand, and Ibiza, where Anna was raised. Not only do they support people through the selling of their products, but they also support the community by promising that 10% of their annual profits will be donated towards projects that they feel are worth supporting, especially projects related to protecting the environment, furthering young people’s education, protecting children and assisting women to set up small businesses.

"The Lov'edu store is based on the belief that an object can only be beautiful where it has been created and traded in a joyful and generous spirit."



When I first visited their website, I was blown away by the vibrant colors and beauty of the products. Lov'edu features home decor, accessories, jewelry, and lifestyle products. Some of my favorites include the Maasai Glass Bead Necklaces and the Handwoven Baskets. They offer such a wide selection, so there is definitely something there that will please everyone. There is even a variety of kids' toys that are so sweet and charming, especially this little stuffed bunny. I hope that one day I can visit their brick and mortar store in London. I can't imagine how beautiful some of these products are in person! They sent me one of their African Trade Beads Bracelets and I love it! It is unique, interesting, and of course, lovely. I've worn it a couple of times already and gotten many compliments. It also came with an adorable little red heart stone that is currently living on my book shelf, reminding me of my promise to ethical products made with love.

"We believe that trade is the oldest and most powerful driving force behind cultural and creative exchanges in this world; it has made people travel, discover, be inspired and create since the beginning of civilisation. If used wisely, trade is the most beautiful way of not only creating livelihoods, but of uniting humans, across borders, without judgement, creating a space in which differences in culture, belief, ethnicity and tradition are not barriers to understanding, but rather, are sources of enjoyment, creativity and expression. It is a place where we all speak the same language, whether we are on the side of the giving or the taking, of the offering or the receiving, of the creating or the experiencing, it is an exchange, it is a trade."



And the best part is, everything is responsibly made and traded! I can't tell you how much I appreciate this company for it's fair trade values. In a nutshell, a Fair Trade product is anything that comes from farmers and workers who are FAIRLY compensated. They are given a just wage for their labor and you receive a beautiful, quality, handmade product. Because the workers are paid fairly and the goods are made sustainably, fair trade supports the community and environment. Every time you buy fair trade, you are personally supporting a person and their community, rather than a faceless corporation. In our society today, it is so important for us to think about what we buy and how we go about our consumerism. It is part of our civil responsibility to protect our society and make sure that people are treated fairly. Choosing fair trade is a guaranteed way to do that.

"Fairly Traded - an item is deemed to have been traded fairly when the price of the item is the producer’s/artist’s asking price and can be translated, at it’s minimum, into a living wage for the time of labour plus a bonus for creativity. If wages are paid, they will be at least living wages (a living wage, as opposed to minimum wage, guarantees workers to cover living costs and lead a decent life). Producers are not tied to any trade agreements, they maintain full control over their work and work processes and remain 100% independent."



Over the past year or so, I've made the personal decision to stop buying from stores like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, H&M, etc. These stores are selling cheaply made, mass produced disposable clothing and do not support their workers. My family stopped buying from WalMart a long time ago for the same reason: people are not being treated well. It may cost a little bit more for me to shop elsewhere, but it is completely worth it. I am paying for something more responsible and of higher quality. Little by little, I'm doing my research and finding out where I can shop and feel good about it. One thing I'm always certain of, though, is that when I buy fair trade, there is no problem. My money is supporting something worthwhile.

"Lov’edu believes in a world where beauty, art and style can be enjoyed within a circle of sustainability, through building relationships with designers, producers and crafters whose processes respect and work with nature. This vision is part of a process we call “The Love Education”: Love Beauty, Love Nature, Love Yourself. It is the practice of thinking and acting from a higher state of consciousness and awareness; of living a holistic lifestyle that is in harmony with nature, with humanity and thereby, with oneself."


I really am so excited to be partnering with Lov'edu! This is a cause that is very important to me, and I am proud to be supporting a company that believes in the same principles. I encourage you all to take a swing over to their website and peruse the lovely collections. I assure you, there will be something there that you will fall in love with! And remember, every purchase counts. Every time you choose fair trade, people benefit, communities benefit, and the environment benefits. On top of it, you receive something unique and beautiful! It's a win-win situation, always. October is Fair Trade Month! So, for the love of fair trade, go buy fair!

“Our philosophy of direct trade, from the producer to the shop floor, makes every purchase a holistic experience of giving and receiving. At Lov’edu every piece has a story, making our customers feel truly unique ” - Anna Boettcher, Founder and Director.


You can visit the Lov'edu website here.
For more information about American Fair Trade, you can visit Fair Trade USA.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Perfect Fall Day




I know it's been quite a while since my last post, but as is customary here in the Midwest at this time of year, the weather has been pretty icky and on top of that, I contracted a lovely cold that kept me from even thinking about being in front of or behind the camera. However, yesterday turned it all around! I have been wanting to go apple picking for the past few fall seasons and yesterday we finally went! My mom, sister, aunt, two cousins and I made our way to Hillcrest Orchards for the most perfect fall day I could've ever imagined. In the few hours that we were there, we took a hayride, picked over thirty pounds of apples (and gobbled up a few), got pretty lost in a corn maze, meandered through the pumpkin patches, and had a whole bunch of family fun!




Oct 12, 20141

It was the most wonderful of days to do it. After suffering through the bipolar weather tendencies of Northeast Ohio, we had a gorgeous, sunny, crisp fall day. The land seemed to stretch forever; no wonder we needed to take a hayride to get to the apples! There were a ton of families out, mostly with little kids, all enjoying the great weather and taking advantage of all that this beautiful farm had to offer. While apple picking was our main event, the pumpkin patch is another point of interest at this farm, with a huge selection of great Jack O' Lantern material and fall decorations for days.





We loved Hillcrest! The land was so pretty and spacious. Even though I'm really a city girl, sometimes I love getting out in the country and breathing in all that fresh air. Plus, being a Midwesterner, you have to take some time every now and then to embrace your inner country child. Hillcrest has so many activities and being there was so much fun! They even have a market where they sell their fresh made apple butter, cider, and salsa! It's great for the little ones, too. They had play areas, a smaller hay maze, and pedal karts. They really have something for everyone, and we all had such a blast! We will definitely be bringing Charlie back at some point.

Oct 12, 2014



We spent a good hour or two in the orchard, sampling the different delicious apples. They had a large variety, from Red Delicious to other kinds I'd never heard of before, such as Empire. They were each a little different, and we got a great medley! I know that alongside my pumpkin obsession, I'm about to look for creative recipes that call for apples. My mom, sister, and I filled a 20 lb bag to the max, and we ended up with around 50 apples! My aunt and cousins filled a 10 lb bag for them to take home, and between the six of us, we probably ate about a dozen. It's so great that at Hillcrest, they let you eat as many apples as you want while you're out in the orchard. It gave us the opportunity to taste each one so that we knew exactly what we were picking. We got some specifically for baking, some for applesauce, and then of course some to just eat by themselves.



Olivia has already made two pies with a few of them, and I plan on trying my hand at an allergy-friendly pie. That means gluten, dairy, and egg-free crust! I'll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying our wonderful fresh apples and the memories that we made getting them. Even though this may be the last year I live at home, I'm hoping I'll be able to come back from time to time and go apple picking with my family :)

Have you ever been apple picking? What was your experience?