New Orleans Day 3

I took a bit of a break from writing as I’m back to school and my life is now crazy again… On the bright side, I’m so glad to share my highlights of Day 3 with you!

In the morning, my family and I went to get breakfast at the Ruby Slipper. There are multiple locations for this breakfast and lunch restaurant, but this location is especially interesting because it used to be an old bank. The crazy thing about it was that the bank was robbed by Bonnie and Clyde and was their last robbery before they died. Our waitress showed us the holes in the outside of the building that are rumored to be bullet holes from the robbery.

In addition to the dramatic backstory, the breakfast food was amazing! I got their cinnamon pancakes with a vanilla cream cheese frosting spread which I loved. It was light, sweet, and perfect for the morning. There were a ton of classic southern breakfast items on the menu as well such as eggs, grits, and fried green tomatoes.

After walking around the French Quarter for a little, we went back to our Air B and B to get ready for our Bayou tour. If you don’t know what a Bayou is, they are the swamps of Louisiana. This state is known for their swamps as they have alligators, snakes, and even wild pigs that roam the waters. We decided it was worth checking out. The company that gave us a tour was called Cajun Encounters, in Slidell, LA. They’re a large company and had at least a hundred people waiting for their tour by the time we got to the Bayou. The experience was interesting overall as we learned a lot about the Bayou ecosystem. Sadly, we didn’t see any alligators because in March, it’s not warm enough for alligators to come out of hibernation. It’s very rare that you see them in that until April so if you go on a swamp tour, I highly suggest that you wait until after March!

Our last stop of the day was at a seafood shack called Kenney Seafood. It’s far from fancy, but if you’re looking for some fried seafood, it’s the perfect place to be. You could choose between combinations of crawfish, shrimp, oysters, and more. I had a mixture of fried shrimp and crawfish which was so delicious. You can also get sides of fries, coleslaw, chowder, and other sides.  There was a plaque on the wall which  showed the waterline of where water flooded the restaurant during Hurricane Katrina. It was shocking to me because the plaque was about 5 1/2 feet above the floor. This day opened my eyes to the horror and destruction that Hurricane Katrina made. Even as we were on the swamp tours, we saw houses that were built on the Bayou, where residents resided in their day-to-day lives. During Katrina, almost all of them were destroyed, and because they were built on the Bayou, it was impossible for them to get house insurance. Many people rebuilt their houses from scratch or abandoned the scraps completely. We saw multiple houses that were flat as pancakes, forgotten by the owners. It was eye opening to see the  remaining destruction from the hurricane as it happened when I was eight, and I wasn’t there to experience and understand the horror of it myself.

Overall, it was another great day of exploring Louisiana. Not only did I learn a lot, but I was able to see the world from a deeper perspective. I hope you enjoyed and I cannot wait to share more of my adventures with you!

NOLA Day 2

Day  2:

New Orleans has been so wonderful! I’m so glad that I’ve gotten the chance to explore this city because there’s so much to see. My mom and I walked around the French Quarter because we didn’t have the chance to see as much of it on the first day. There are a ton of boutique stores, antique shops, pastry shops, and lots more.

My mom and I started our morning at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. It was a smaller museum, but had a variety of art ranging from photography to paintings and sculptures. They have Impressionist pieces and floors of modern and contemporary works. They also have student, senior, and child discounts if you are on a budget. I highly recommend checking it out.

After we wandered through the museum, our stomachs were growling so we ended up going to a cafe called Envie for lunch. There are multiple Envie cafes throughout the city, but this one looked like one of the cuter ones as it has armchairs, small booths, and plants hanging in the space. The lunch menu was average overall. They had a lot of sandwiches and other brunch foods. Luckily, there was a larger coffee menu and you could mix and match a lot of options. (I got a coconut latte.)

Walking in and out of stores in the French Quarter was an adventure in itself. Many of the stores had artistic courtyards and outdoor paths to walk through, which were very picturesque. Even if you don’t buy anything, the stores are a fun experience.

Towards the evening, my entire family collected at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. It’s accredited to be one of the oldest surviving structures in New Orleans. It was built in the 1770’s and has served alcoholic beverages since then. It still looks the way it probably did when it was first built, but it’s nothing special as far as drinks go. You can get beers and other dive bar drinks for a reasonable price. The lighting is pretty much nonexistent, but blindness is part of the experience, right?

Our final stop of the day was Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which is known for their INCREDIBLE fried chicken. Every part of the meal is as stereotypical “southern” as you can get. My meal consisted of fried chicken, mac and cheese, steamed green beans in spices, corn bread, and it was absolutely fantastic! We had to wait in line to get in, so if you want to skip the wait, I would suggest going around 6 pm to get in before it gets busy. They stop letting people in after 8 pm so you need to be in line by at least that time to be served. It’s not on the main drag by any means and you either walk a ways from the French Quarter to get there, or you can Uber/Lyft. It’s totally worth it though.

 And just like that, Day 2 comes to a close. As always, thank you for reading and I hope you’re inspired to check out some new places in NOLA!

Xo, Brynne

 

NOLA Day 1

Hello wonderful people! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to travel somewhere but my family and I are in the beautiful New Orleans, and I’ve decided to keep you updated on our adventures! Day 1 has already been so much fun and I’m pumped to tell you all about it! First of all, walking around NOLA was amazing because of the architecture. Even in the residential areas, the houses are painted in colorful pastels and have accents of Victorian swirls. They are so different from anything I’ve seen on the East Coast or Midwest. I couldn’t get enough!

 

We started the morning by going to mass at the St. Louis Cathedral. It was so beautiful in there and it was founded in 1720, but opened in 1794. I didn’t take pictures of the inside as I wanted to be respectful during mass, but it was so interesting. (Also, the priest must have been around 80 years old and he was adorable and made funny jokes aha.) Even if you aren’t Catholic, I highly recommend going to mass or other religious services when you travel somewhere because it can give you an experience of how people live.

 

For all my theatre nerds, this one is for you! You can actually see Tennessee William’s house in NOLA. Unless you’re specifically looking for it, it’s a little easy to miss. There’s a little plaque on the outside of the apartment, and you can’t go in because it’s a residential apartment which was very surprising to me. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be taken care of, but it’s definitely interesting to see where a such a famous playwright lived.

The Louis Armstrong Park was next on our list. It was very modern and simplistic, and there were some gorgeous art statues as well as one of Louis himself. It was a nice way to walk around in the sun and go across the bridges.

Next, my family and I got lunch at this place called Central Grocery, which is known for their sandwiches which they’ve dubbed ‘Muffulettas.’ They’re giant sandwiches with different kinds of Italian deli meats, cheeses, and olive spread on them. My family of 4 split the sandwich and were full. (It was about the size of my head and cost $20.) They were also sooooo good! You couldn’t take pictures in the store because they were afraid of people coming in and stealing the family recipe, but I snuck a couple away from the prep line so you could get a feel for the place. The entire store still looks like it’s paused in time as it opened in 1906. You could get old fashioned looking groceries, bottled sodas, and many different kinds of beers.

Apparently, you haven’t toured NOLA unless you’ve hit Cafe Beignet. There are multiple locations for this cafe, but the original one is way cuter! A beignet is basically fried dough with powdered sugar on top. You can also get lunch and coffee at the cafe, and the original location is a super long, artistically painted building with a courtyard. It’s every millennial/gen z’s Instagram dream.

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Since it’s our first day here, we decided we’d explore all over the French Quarter! You can walk along the Mississippi River and see the steam boats docked by the shore. Although there are lots of crappy tourist-trap stores and gross looking bars, there’s a mix of really cute stores and restaurants as well. They have a lot of antique shops, clothing boutiques, and art galleries. One of my favorite places to look in was Louisiana Loom Works. Ronda, the shop owner is so sweet and makes tons of stunning rugs! Not to mention, she adopted 8 cats and they all sleep in the shop and love to be pet by strangers!

For dinner, went to this pizza place called Pizza Delicious. It’s one of the best pizza places in all of NOLA and their thin crust is AMAZING. I’m also a fan of their Caesar salad. Sadly they were out of garlic knots, but apparently they’re super popular here.

Anyways, it’s been a great day to start off Day 1! I’m so excited to see what the next of the week has to offer! Have an incredible day and don’t forget to smile. ūüôā

Xo, Brynne

Life After School for a Performing Arts Student

As I’m entering the final semester of my senior year, there’s a lot of stress tied to this point in my life. This can also be the case for those outside of my career path, but there’s something about finding jobs after school that can be extremely stressful for performers in particular. I’m going to share a little bit of my ups and downs.

The final semester for performers usually means auditions, auditions, and more auditions. Like most performers, I get very nervous when I even think about going to an audition and in the past I’ve panicked a lot when I step into the room. This is obviously something I need to work through since it only inhibits me in the audition room. I’ve been told by many mentors that the more auditions you go to, the more normal it will seem and the less stressed out I’ll be. I really hope that’s what will happen to me. I got to start the audition process with the awesome company I worked with last summer. I’m so thankful to start my auditions there with familiar faces in the room. The scariness of auditions goes away when you know there are people rooting for you. Going to that audition and feeling encouraged is the next step to finding friendly faces at auditions where I won’t know a single person.

I’ve been asked what my plan is over and over again from all sorts of people, and to be honest, I have no clue yet. There’s no possible way for me to know the logistics of my life plan until I attend a million and one auditions. Some of these auditions can be for a summer theatre, while others could take me for an entire season. It’s all in the luck of the draw! I know for a fact that I will be going to Chicago to attend as many auditions as possible and show up to local auditions in the Midwest. And of course, I’ll be sending in many video auditions. I may not have a solid plan, but I’m really looking into traveling from regional theatre to regional theatre, auditioning for cruise lines with long contracts, or basing myself in Chicago for a couple years until I build my resume. My only problem with Chicago is there’s not as much musical theatre, which is my biggest love. And if I went to NYC right away, I would be in a pool of thousands of others my age who are hopeful to make it big right away.

I could think of many different turns my life will take me, but no part of me has a single idea where I’ll be. I may not even end up getting the jobs I anticipated and I have to be ready for that. This industry is super competitive and very tough, which is a reality that hasn’t quite hit me yet while being in school. I’m excited to start auditioning, pretty terrified, and I’m trying to go into the future with zero expectations. It’s so difficult for me to trust that God has it all together even though I can’t see what’s happening yet.

So these are my honest feelings about the future. If anyone who has experience in the musical theatre/theatre/dance industry has any tips, please let me know! I would love to hear them!

xo, Brynne

Navigating After-College Anxiety

As a senior in college, I can attest that I’m pretty scared for what’s coming next. Some people in my graduating class are engaged, have a job lined up, and know exactly where they’re going to live. I on the other hand, am sitting on the couch, eating a bag of doritos, with zero intentions of engagements, no idea where I’ll be living, and not a clue as to what job I’ll have. So my anxiety is asking me what happens if I don’t attain what I am hoping for right after college? Am I going to become a hermit? Will I live in my parents’ basements for ten years? The biggest question thus far: what if the things we end up doing never measure up to what we intended? We may never know, but God certainly does.

I was reading the book of Ruth a couple days ago and I thought it touches on my exact feelings on the future after school. If you haven’t read Ruth’s story, it’s a quick read and incredible. Ruth’s story begins with her husband passing away and her living with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her sister-in-law, Orpah. Naomi begs Ruth and Orpah to leave her in order to find a husband and a better life, and while Orpah leaves, Ruth decides to stay. From the beginning I find this incredibly interesting. Ruth says “For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you (1:16-17).”

Ruth had every reason to¬† leave. Naomi gave her permission and she truly had no other option in that moment to get remarried. But Ruth knew what was loving and chose to follow God’s will of being compassionate to others before satisfying her own needs. Her action of staying is a reminder that she chose what God wanted before her own. Ruth decides to stay with Naomi and find a job to provide for her and her mother-in-law, which leads Naomi to work in the fields of Boaz, an honorable man in the clan of Elimelech. Although Ruth was a Moabite, a race that was looked down upon in the eyes of the Israelites, Ruth was still kept safe from the harm of the male field workers (known for sexual assault/raping women) and caught the attention of Boaz himself. When Boaz told her why he favored her, he answered “All that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband has been fully told to me, and how you left your father and mother and your native land and came to a people that you did not know before. The Lord repay you full for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge (2:11-12)!” Ruth’s obedience to God’s call not only kept her safe, but revealed the way that God provided resources for her.

Spoiler alert: by the end of the story, Ruth ends up marrying Boaz and giving birth to a son. Not only that, but Naomi, who felt defeated and useless as a widow, now had a child that came from her family line that she could care for. Because Ruth stayed patient, obedient, and put others needs before hers, she not only made her life better, but Naomi’s life as well. God put together exactly what she needed when she trusted that His will is all that she needs. Ruth had no idea that she would end up remarried after she chose to stay with Naomi. But God saw how much she loved Naomi and created an amazing life for Ruth she never knew would stem from obedience to the Lord.

At twenty-one years old, I am pretty scared for my future. As a reminder, I have no clue where I’m living after school, no idea what job I’ll have, and I’m surviving off of minimum wage jobs and freelance side hustles. Trusting that God has a future for me when all I see is a huge question mark can be pretty intimidating. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as easily trusting as Ruth was to give over her life to God, but this story inspires me to do so. It’s really scary when we don’t know what’s in front of us, but sometimes we aren’t meant to know. We have to take it day by day and understand that the things God slowly reveals to us are like points on a road map. The smaller points start showing up in front of us and he will make the points that are His will easy to recognize. Sometimes we just need to take the leap.

How to Battle Negative Self-Talk

Have you ever had one of those days where you get in a funk? Regardless of what positive thing someone tells you, it goes through one ear and out the other. Last night, I was so frustrated. No matter how much someone would encourage me or tell me I was doing something right, it all felt like a lie.

I was confused at first as to why I kept thinking this way. It felt like these thoughts came out of nowhere. Why do I suddenly feel like I’m not smart enough in lectures, not talented enough in my art classes, or not pretty enough? The more I thought about it, I finally understood the source of my doubt and insecurity.

Throughout the entire day, I was consistently feeding myself negative self-talk. It started with little, meaningless things like¬†dang I wish I had longer legs¬†in ballet class. I looked back on my day and could pinpoint four or five other times where a negative thought about myself would cross my mind. It all built up until I finally couldn’t ignore it.¬†In a way, I’m glad it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore it. How many times do we think something negative about ourselves and don’t even know we’re doing it? I bet I’ve done it millions of times and I couldn’t do anything about if because I didn’t recognize it for what it was.

We become easy targets for negative self-talk when we forget how God sees us. When we forget or we don’t condition ourselves to learn and remember what He says we are, we become easy pickings for the devil. Tiny, negative, reminders throughout the day are sly ways to get someone to break, and that’s exactly how satan does it. When we don’t know our value or we set aside God’s positive reminders, we have nothing to protect us. So how do we battle negative self talk?¬†We need to remind ourselves daily, even multiple times a day of God’s thoughts.

If you find that something from your past is haunting you, this is such an important verse to remember. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a¬†new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” When you have accepted Christ, He does not see you as your past failures and is not ashamed of your actions. He loves you¬†endlessly¬†and will never stop, even if you’ve done the worst thing known to man. You can never lose the amount of love He has for you.

If you feel unqualified, unintelligent, untalented, or far from beautiful, this verse is for you: “For we are his workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in Him.”- Ephesians 2:10. He made each of us specifically to do amazing, incredible, things! Just because you are made different from someone else that doesn’t mean that you are not qualified or good enough. It just means that you’re incredibly qualified in something else, your own unique and incredible path that God has laid out for you and only you!

If you don’t feel accepted by others, you need to listen to this: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9. You’ve been accepted into the Lord’s kingdom before you were born. You’ve always had a home, maybe before you even knew it. The judgement of others does not define your value or worth. Truthfully, other people don’t have the right to judge you. The only being that has that right is the Lord, and his judgement does not come out of bitterness, hatred, or unkindness. It comes from a place of love and the passion to do what is right. Most importantly, God’s judgement¬†never¬†brings others down. It builds us up and helps us create a better life for ourselves and others.

I’ve found so much worth in those three verses when I go through difficult times or life trials. I’m making it a goal of mine to keep these verses close to my heart and memorize them for when negative self-talk comes creeping in. If any of these verses spoke to you, I encourage you to memorize them as well when you go through trials. We also need to tell ourselves that whatever negative thought that pops into our head is completely false and we need to name it. The more we name our problems, the easier they will be to smash. We have to declare that negative thoughts are not from the Lord and will not help us feel better about ourselves. Then we can remind ourselves what the literal words of God say about us.¬†When we hold to the truth of the Lord’s vision, we will always be enough and feel loved. There’s nothing that can take that away from us when we realize who the being is that created us so intricately.

As always, thanks for listening, and I hope that my story can help yours.

xo, Brynne

 

 

What I’ve Learned About Self-Worth

I’m going to be completely candid and say that last school year was especially difficult for me. In the beginning of that year I decided that because I was an upperclassman and I only had two years left of undergraduate, I would put all my effort¬†into progressing in my art forms and feeling prepared for the real world. I got cast in a bigger role through the theatre department and I was taking a ton of dance classes. Nothing sounds too bad about that yet, right?

My schedule was packed with class at 8:30 in the morning until around 3 pm with work until 5 pm and then rehearsals for the play from 7-10 pm every night. My class schedule had me running from class to class, sometimes without time to eat a full lunch. My academics became my main focus to the point where that was the only thing I was thinking about. I wouldn’t take time to be in community and spend time with my closest friends and I’d practice or do something else related to my art forms on the weekends. Worst of all, I put God as my last priority. I went to church on Sundays and thought about Him every once in a while but I stopped praying and He became very distant to me.

What happens when you focus on one thing? It becomes your entire life. That can be good in some areas, like a relationship with Christ perhaps, but too much of anything outside of that ends up leaving me dissatisfied and upset. I ended that semester consistently being stressed out that because I wasn’t achieving certain academic standards in my majors and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Since theatre and dance were my only focuses, that’s where I put all my self-worth. Because I didn’t reach out to God when I was struggling to find myself, I became so lost and felt worthless. Earthly things, even as important as academic studies, can never be your main focus. Eventually I got to a point where I felt like I had nothing to lose.

I was at my all time low and I had some incredible people remind me of what my real meaning in life is. I couldn’t find my value in academics anymore so I decided to find them in the Lord again. I cried and spoke prayers of hurt and sadness, and eventually prayers of healing and contentment. I started reading my bible more and seeing the truth in what God’s word says about me. 1 Peter 2:9 says that But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” It doesn’t matter what my worth is in the world. I could be the best actress/singer/dancer yet never be satisfied with where I am if God isn’t the top priority of my life and the center of my focus.

Going into senior year, I’ve still been transitioning over to making God my main focus. It’s really hard to be completely honest. There are moments where I’ve gotten down on my performance level in the arts and I have to snap myself out of it real quick. The more I seek God as my first priority, the more I’ve seen God bless me with my friendships in my majors, church, and campus. I’ve found more worth in who God wants me to be rather than what I feel like I should be in this world.

I wanted to share for anyone who is struggling/or has struggled with the same things as I have. I hope you find comfort in the fact that other people struggle with this daily and that there’s always a way for God to change you self-worth to a confident one. Thanks for listening to my story! Xo, Brynne