Author: Mandy (Page 2 of 26)

Now What?

“What do you think is going to happen?”

I must have heard this 50 or more times since it happened.

After a brutal election cycle, I – like millions of Americans – spent my November 9 feeling overwhelmed by a swirling and full range of emotions. Nothing about this week, and now, is straightforward.

The world we live in is complicated. In spite of what Facebook shows us in our news feeds, there are numerous ways to think and feel about the things that happen in our lives. We don’t always agree with each other. We alternate between decisions made too fast or too slow. We get things right and wrong. History has shown us that. But we also have moments that make us more human to each other, when we can display grace and compassion. Unfortunately, those moments are usually in times of great challenge or tragedy. I wish it were different.

I wish that I didn’t feel the way I did on election night. But I did.

I wish that I would have woken up to the first female President in the history of our country (though imperfect), realizing the dream that so many parents have had for their daughters. That my parents told me about all the time growing up. But I didn’t.

Yesterday morning, I read a piece written in the character of Leslie Knope. Leslie, in many ways, is my spirit animal. She’s a woman who in the face of incompetence and small town small-mindedness, never gives up. She never stops trying. She never stops working for what is right, good, and just. She’s the superhero we need when the world is maddening. Like it is at this very moment.

I read her letter twice. First, silently to myself at my desk at work, as I sat still processing how unpredictable life can be. Her words reassured me. I felt, for just a moment, that I could breathe again.  Later, I read it out loud to my husband (another Parks & Rec fan) as we watched Netflix together, as he was curious to know what she had said on the matter. Her words, read aloud, suddenly meant more. I heard it anew in my own voice and had bright moment of recognition. This is all of us now. We can speak our truths aloud and make something happen with them.

Today, I’m writing this from Marywood University’s campus. I’m here to speak at the Entrepreneurial Institute, put on by the amazing team at TecBridge. I’ll be talking about how to find your battle cry: the unifying big idea that drives action in organizations, tells your customers what to expect, and anchors what you do.

I feel good being here. No, I feel great being here. I’m surrounded by people who have the desire to make change in the world. Who want to do more. Who ache for the opportunity to take risks, fail, and most importantly, succeed. I’m also surrounded by members of the Marywood University community who have always made me feel at home and like I belong.

I’m in an environment where – as our University President said in her opening remarks – dignity, service, and  justice are “big time.”

We should be thinking about our own battle cries for the future. What will we do to take action? How will we move forward? What can we do to preserve and advance the big time ideals of dignity, service, and justice?

I know for me, I’ll continue working on the things I care about most. I’ll teach, perform, serve, strive, and organize. I’ll have meaningful dialogue. I’ll be respectful. I’ll be kind. I’ll take care of my family. I’ll continue to be a proud woman and member of my community. I won’t accept anything less than what I deserve. I’ll keep moving.

I take great comfort in that. Just for today, I have the opportunity to keep moving.

 

 

 

Creative Non-Fiction

Over the summer, Brent and I took a creative non-fiction writing workshop. It was awesome.

Not only was it taught by one of my dear friends and colleagues, but it was also an opportunity for me to write consistently and explore a style that I haven’t really played with before.

Being a blogger is sort of like creative non-fiction, I guess. It’s a lot of reflection and storytelling elements get used to talk about thoughts or feelings or events. But there’s an all at once delicate and powerful ZING to it that’s like nothing else.

Each week, we’d be given a prompt to write about. Then, in one page or two, we were to tell our story. I wrote a lot about my childhood, about important moments in my life. Some of my stories were sad. Some were happy. But they were all my moments and getting to share them with others in a writing workshop was such an intimate experience. It was thrilling and therapeutic. And I loved hearing everyone’s stories each week, too!

I’ve been toying with the idea of using this blog as a platform to share some of those pieces of writing – and maybe make some more! Eventually, I’d love to submit something somewhere and get it published. Seeing a byline in print still thrills me and it gives me those little gold stars that I try to tally up in my head when I accomplish something (Type A, much?).

No matter where it appears, I still smile and give my 16 year-old self a big hug when I see my name on a piece of work.

See that, Young and Naive Mandy Who Still Wants to Go To NYU and Live In the Village? You can write and not have to live in New York and have all of that school debt.

Ah, well. I guess I should make her proud and just keep doing it already. It’s one thing to talk about it, er, blog about it. But it’s another to do it. So, let’s give it a whirl. I’ll write some stuff and share it here. Could be fun!

The Struggle With the Gut

Do you remember when you were growing up and learning all about gut feelings?

Those moments when you were told to stop and listen to the internal jerking that made you nervous, uneasy, or anxious?

You were reminded to go with your gut when it told you something. Listen to it. Appreciate it. Learn to love it and let it guide you.

So what do you do when you want it to talk to you but it isn’t?

My gut and I? Well, let’s just say we don’t always have the best relationship.

Sure, I’ve trusted it and it’s gone fine, but then there are times when…damn…it just…let me down. And I guess that’s one of the beautiful things about the whole human experience. You get to mess up, learn from it, and then keep going.

But right now? I really wish that little buddy and I were talking.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my gut and I aren’t on the same wavelength. Questions, requests, invitations – all things that I can normally handle – are stumping and stalling me. I take longer to respond. I consider more. Doubt. Stew. Resolve.

I’m wondering if it has to do with my latest blogging hiatus and the thoughts I’ve had while I was wasn’t writing on here (even though there was still plenty happening in the background). Lots of reflection about how to spend time and how to be kinder to yourself. Trying not to feel guilty. Focusing on just…BEING.

Now I’m here. Nearly midnight. Laundry is put away and I’m sitting on the couch thinking about decisions and to do lists. Nothing here is major. Nothing here is critical.

But still I sit – waiting for good ol’ Gut to chime in and say, “Hey! This is worth your time.” Or, “Nope. Don’t do it.”

I’ll try sleeping on it. See how that goes. After all, maybe he’s just tired and needs a holiday, too. :)

 

 

What happens when you take a blogging holiday.

My last post was months ago. I’m not sorry.

The break was good. I lived fully for several months, taking in all of the best parts (and even some not great parts) of this beautiful, crazy, and often bewildering world we live in.

I stopped feeling guilty about not writing because really, when it comes down to it, it’s a lie. I still wrote. Every day, actually.

I wrote emails, documents, training plans, presentations and analyses at work, which made my brain all at once tired and happy.

I wrote creative non-fiction as part of a writing workshop I shared with dear friends and my husband. Once again, my brain smiled.

I wrote responses to interview questions and award nominations. I had to *gasp* talk about myself. As uncomfortable as it is, it’s good for you. Do it every now and then.

We try so hard – so, so hard – to keep up with things. Building good habits. Making changes that stick. The tipping point seems out of reach at times, but when it hits, boy, does it feel good. It’s happening. You’re doing it. You’ve won.

But sometimes the win is in not letting the tipping point tip. Sometimes, it’s about backing away and being in other things so that you can return feeling at peace, refreshed, and with the right perspective.

NEPA BlogCon still happened. I performed in a play. I read books. I climbed down a mountain. My picture was in the paper. I felt proud for my friends. I laughed. I cried. I loved. I lived.

That’s how I’m looking at it.

I took a blogging holiday and lived. :)

75 Thoughts You’ll Have Getting Ready for Your Wedding Day

A few months ago, Brent and I tied the knot. It was…perfect. Absolutely and in every way.

But internally, while I was surrounded by all of this perfection, my mind raced. So many thoughts and feelings.

They sounded and felt a little something like this…

The Morning Of

sleep sleeping wizard of oz judy garland the wizard of oz

1.) Zzzzzz….. (*alarm blasts waking you from sweet, sweet slumber*)

2.) Five more minutes…no…WAIT. I’M GETTING MARRIED TODAY.

3.) WE’RE GETTING MARRIED TODAY!

80s vintage kiss retro 1980s

4.) HOLY SHIT WE’RE GETTING MARRIED TODAY!

5.) Note to self: Do not forget deodorant. Also wear a button down shirt so you don’t jack up your hair like some animal.

6.) Headpiece? Check. Jewelry? Check. Random assortment of pharmacy essentials in the event of a sudden headache diarrhea indigestion attack? Check.

On the Commute

7.) Let’s go get spiffed up! OMG. What if there’s construction? PLEASE DON’T LET THERE BE A DARK RED LINE ON THE MAP, GOOGLE!

8.) WHY ARE WE STOPPING?!

9.) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (stares at sea of brake lights).

no the office michael scott please no

10.) God? Are you there? It’s me – a frazzled bride in search of meaning and a clear roadway.

11.) If you let this traffic pass and I’m not late for everything, throwing off the entire flow of the day and ruining it for everyone, I’ll be eternally grateful!

12.) What’s this? MOVEMENT?!

13.) Whew. False alarm. We’re moving again. People will make it to the wedding and we won’t have to eat 900 pounds of shrimp by ourselves (though that wouldn’t be so bad…)

tina fey hungry shrimp happy eating

Getting Hair & Makeup

14.) IMMA LOOK SO PREEEEETTTTYYYYY.

film musical gtkmm get to know me meme natalie wood

15.) Why did I never learn to use a curling iron like a real person?

16.) Maybe I should give YouTube another shot. BRING ON THE HAIR TUTORIAL VIDEOS.

17.) Can you just be here to do my hair every day?

18.) Do celebrities have healthy hair with all of that styling and hot tool usage?

sad zooey deschanel frown pout the new girl

19.) Who am I kidding? I won’t suddenly start doing my own hair. I’ll watch YouTube videos and mourn.

20.) Ooo! This makeup looks delightful!

21.) Why don’t I wear makeup more often?

22.) Oh, yeah. Because it takes time and effort.

23.) My eyes are…how you say…on fleek?

24.) Brow game is strong today.

25.) OMG I LOOK SO GOOD!

princess diaries celebrities

26.) I’m like a fairy princess in this flower crown.

27.) *sneaks peek in another mirror* WOOOOOOO!

28.) Okay. Now what?

29.) I’m going to watch my friends and family get their hair and makeup done too!

28.) *fidget* *fidget* *fidget* WHEW. OKAY. THIS IS REAL.

29.)  Everyone looks so great!

30.) *hears Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”* LIFE IS A MYSTERYYYYYYY

madonna like a prayer 80s music video

31.) Where is Madonna right now? She’s probably not in an Ulta. I’m in an Ulta.

32.) I’m so happy this button down fits me right now. #buttongap

33.) OOOOOOOH! I LIKE THIS COLOR LIP GLOSS.

34.) *sniffs every perfume*

35.) Imma dance right now right here.

dance feeling it 80s films bored

36.) UH UH UH UH GET DOWN

37.) Okay, Mom. I’ll stop.

38.) CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP

39.) Why is my stomach so flip floppy?

40.) Flip floppy. Flip floppy. Such a weird phrase.  Andy Samberg.

grace helbig hannah hart mamrie hart lonely island on a boat

41.) I’M ON A BOAT!

42.) We’re all ready? Awesome! Great!

43.) GONNA RIDE OR DIE WITH MY MAIN GIRL, MAMA BEAR

44.) This car feels so hot.  It’s October. What is this nonsense?!

airplane sweat sweating

45.) *cracks window* No. Yes. No. YES.

46.) Aww, Mom. You’re getting me all teary looking over here!

47.) I CAN’T BELIEVE TODAY IS ACTUALLY HERE AND MY MOM IS IN THE CAR AND EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.

48.) Wow – we’re here already. That went quick!

Getting Dressed

49.) ALRIGHT. DRESS TIME. LET’S DO THIS.

matt ren thumbs kylo

50.) Wait. Gotta put on deodorant again.

51.) Wait. Gotta brush my teeth.

52.) Wait. Gotta change bras into that undergarment thing I paid way too much money for but is integral to the structure and shape of my dress.

53.) Getting married is a con.

54.) SO MUCH MONEY. BUT I LOOK SO GOOD RIGHT NOW.

movies audrey hepburn funny face

55.) Okay. Dress. On. Yes.

56.) This is slipping.

57.) Anyone have a safety pin!?

58.) Okay. Dress is stable. WHOA. PRINCESS ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!

59.) No, Mom, don’t cry! If you cry, I’ll cry too!

60.) I wish I brought a sweater. Might get a chill.

61.) My Nanny would be proud. I’m in her pearls and thinking about cardigans.

62.) Okay. I’m dressed. I’m ready. LET’S DO THIS.

awkward jim carrey ace ventura primping

63.) How do I sneak out without Brent seeing me? I know he’s next door…

64.) Is the coast clear? The coast is clear. Let’s book.

65.) Wow, walking in a dress like this is…interesting.

66.) HELLO CO-WORKER/FRIEND/CLASSMATE IN THE ELEVATOR WHO I INVITED TO THE WEDDING. THIS ISN’T WEIRD AT ALL.

community awkward alison brie bye annie edison

67.)  Am I ready for this? I’m ready for this.

68.) Do I need to pee? No. I’m good. This is just nervousness.

69.) Everyone is looking at me in the lobby. How…do….I….respond to this?

70.) Do not close dress in car door. Do not close dress in car door. Do not close dress in car door.

71.) Do not mess up hair. Do not mess up hair. Do not mess up hair.

72.) *smile at Mom*

73.) I can’t believe it’s here already.

tv excited mom arrested development screaming

74.) It’s all happening.

75.) This is the best day. I’m with the best people. Everything is the best.

 

 

 

 

Why Does Creativity Feel So Difficult?

Photo By: Richard Jones

I scheduled the time for me to write this. I planned it in advance. In my whirling brain, I committed myself to sitting down and writing about…

Something.

Creativity doesn’t always come easily to me. There are times when I sit and stare at an empty screen, waiting for an answer that never comes. Or one that comes but doesn’t satisfy.

But then there are those rare moments when that sneaky bolt hits you and charges you with enough energy to write 5 blog posts in quick succession. Or 10 pages of a play. Or that manifesto you’ve been waiting for.

It never seems to be conveniently timed or on command. Rarely when you need it. Sometimes only under the greatest of pressures. Creativity is the thing we wish for with a smile but curse when it doesn’t arrive as expected.

So, here I sit, my feet propped up on a cozy couch with a cup of mint tea at my side. My husband is writing code next to me, working on building a website. He’s good at putting his creativity to use. Meanwhile, I’m struggling.

I went to Google, because, well, where else do you go when you want answers? I searched “why is creativity so difficult?”. What I found was pretty darn interesting – and rooted in science.

All this, and more, from a squishy thing in our noggins.

I started this post feeling frustrated at my lack of inspiration – but now, I’m feeling pretty good. This block is a positive thing. I’m stretching my brain and letting it do its thing. And hey, I’ve got another post out of the experience!

I’ll enjoy the down time while I’m at it.

You know – spending a nice afternoon with a cup of tea and brain science.

If an idea comes, it comes.

I’ll wait and relax.

After all, it’s good for me. 

Letter to Self

There’s a file on my Google Drive named “Mandy’s Big Fat Wishlist”.

In it, there’s a list of things I want to do in the next few months, the next year, and then within the next 3-10 years. Somehow sitting down and actually writing out things that I want to do/see/be makes it feel more within reach.

Also, it gives me something to open up and look at when I feel unfocused. Maybe it’s a bit woo-woo, but it feels good!

One item I’m working on now is to take Unstoppable, a writing course by the incredible Alexandra Franzen.

I’m a self-help and growth junkie. I read books on how to change your mindset. If I see a blog post relating to organization, I click on it and read it (knowing full well that I probably won’t follow through on the suggestions it gives). Essentially, I am Liz Lemon walking into The Container Store thinking that if I buy all of these little boxes, tins, and bottles, I’m going to get my life in order.

Essentially, I am Liz Lemon walking into The Container Store thinking that if I buy all of these little boxes, tins, and bottles, I’m going to get my life in order.

Like her, it’s more likely I will set something on fire.

But I’m feeling good about Unstoppable so far. I’m about halfway through and enjoying the exercises. One of which (the one that inspired this post) was to set a timer for 3 minutes and write a letter to someone.

I chose myself.

I chose myself because I haven’t written to myself since high school when we were assigned to write a letter in 9th grade to our 12th grade selves.

It’s a strange and wonderful thing to write to yourself. You can reflect and give advice. To some degree, you can be more honest with yourself.

It was a gift. On one hand, I gave myself the gift of time for reflection and self-advice. On another, I gave myself something concrete – much like a big fat wishlist – that I can look back on when I feel unfocused.

A New Year is always filled with great potential. I start every January 1st feeling motivated.

For today, I feel like I’m making progress. The trick is to keep the momentum.

A letter to self from time to time might help.

 

 

Hamlet

In 2013, lightning struck. The New Vintage Ensemble was born out of a love for taking the work – but not ourselves – seriously. And now, we’re at it again.

“Hamlet” opens next week and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. The countless hours, phone calls, and Google Drive documents (I’ll get to that in a minute!) have been worth it – and for so many reasons.

I have this sneaky feeling that lightning is going to strike again.

I’ve been lucky. As an ensemble member, I’m playing the roles of Francisco, Osric, and First Player. Behind the scenes, I’m supervising producer – i.e. keeper of the Google Drive. Budgets, marketing, contracts, and accounting are my shtick (and totally appeal to my type A tendencies).

We, as an ensemble, have also been lucky.  The Mall at Steamtown and Amos Towers have generously offered us rehearsal space over the past few months.

We’ve had the opportunity to work with local theater organizations and small businesses like Taney’s Costume Shop (patronize them immediately), DIVA Productions, the University of Scranton, and others to bring our vision to life.

We’ve worked with amazingly talented people like our designer, Graham Campbell, and our photographer (and my beloved Mister), Brent Pennington.

You don’t get opportunities like this often, so when they do happen, you have to thank the stardust we’re all made of for it.

And those special people. You give oodles of thanks to them, too.

Being on both sides of the stage had given me a greater appreciation for the work that goes into making something like this happen. And I love having the chance to apply things I love doing (i.e. planning, marketing, performing) in an area I love so much.

But beyond my own selfish thrills, there’s more to this “Hamlet” than I would have ever thought possible.

Our Director Casey Thomas’s vision for “Hamlet” is brilliant. There isn’t another way I can say it. He’s fearless in his direction and from the first day, we knew that we’d be doing Shakespeare in a way that was completely unexpected.

As for the cast? I’m in awe of them every night. “Hamlet” is an emotional piece, demanding a lot of actors and audience alike. But the performances my fellow friends and castmates deliver have made the hairs on my arm stand on end, my eyes well with tears, and my ribs ache from laughing so hard. They are magic.

Season's greetings from the cast of Hamlet! #nvehamlet #scranton #theater #shakespeare

A photo posted by Mandy (Boyle) Pennington (@mandyboyle_) on

But one of the most exciting things about this “Hamlet” is our venue. The New Vintage Ensemble will be working with the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple to produce this show. They’ve graciously opened their doors to us and Shopland Hall will be home base for the next two weeks.

The minute I talked to the production team about where we’d be doing the show, I’ll be honest – I got choked up.

I never thought that I’d be doing some like this when I started acting. You know, actually producing and being in something of this magnitude. It’s humbling and makes my heart full.

I remember my first role, dressed in a purple leotard with plastic vines and flowers hot glued all over it. I was a fairy in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with one line. I still remember it.

But there was something about those musty curtains and bright lighting that made me come back. Again and again.

#nvehamlet #newvintageensemble

A photo posted by Mandy (Boyle) Pennington (@mandyboyle_) on

And now, here we are. We open a show in one week – in one of the most beautiful venues in Scranton. With some of the most talented people I’ve ever met. And we’re friends. And we get to do this. For real.

That is perhaps the greatest gift.

We get to do something we love and share it with you.


HAMLET

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SHOW DATES & TIMES

  • Friday, January 8 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 9 at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
  • Friday, January 15 at 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Shopland Hall
Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple
420 N. Washington Ave.
Scranton, PA


TICKETS

Tickets are $15 and are available via Ticketmaster at NewVintageEnsemble.com or ScrantonCulturalCenter.org

Online: http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/16519/844896?brand=scrantoncc&camefrom=CFC_SCC_NewVintage_Hamlet2016

By Phone: During Box Office Hours 570.344.1111 and Ticketmaster Charge by Phone After Hours at 800.745.3000

In Person: Fidelity Box Office at the Scranton Cultural Center, 420 North Washington Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503

In Person: All Regional Ticketmaster Outlets, including Boscovs, Gallery of Sound and Select Walmart Locations

 


Sometimes

 

The labyrinth in the @marywooduniversity Rotunda. #meditation #walk

A photo posted by Mandy (Boyle) Pennington (@mandyboyle_) on

Sometimes, you leave a class you taught and need to sit in the Rotunda.

You sit. You breathe deeply. You remember.

You remember how it felt to have a few moments to yourself when you could just sit and be.

You remember the anticipation of an exam. The pain of an assignment.

You yearn for the simplicity of college, when the worst thing you had to do was wake up before 9:00 a.m. to attend a class you couldn’t stay awake for.

You wish you didn’t have the stresses you have now. The conflict. The questions.

So you walk across the campus to the Rotunda. It is cold and quiet.

Sometimes, there is a labyrinth there – a replica of one found in a cathedral. It is an act of meditation to walk it. This might be what you need.

Maybe you walk with a friend unexpectedly.

Maybe you find a moment in the quiet to feel the load lightened.

Maybe you like the feel of the canvas under your feet and the spots of warmth where there are probably pipes beneath the marble.

You have a moment where you can reflect, breathe deep, and let go of what was bothering you.

You feel better for it.

You reach the center.

Then you return. Smile.

And then you type.

Like now.

It was what you needed.

Bursty Heart Feels & Fringe

Scranton Fringe

I’ve got a case of the bursty heart feels.

What are those exactly? Well, it sort of feels like joy, pride, and gratitude – all at the same time.

My heart has a lot of feels because this week marks the launch of the Scranton Fringe Festival. Over the past year, I’ve watched this idea grow from a twinkle in someone’s eye to something so much more.

Scranton Fringe isn’t just about bringing together people in NEPA to enjoy and explore art.

It’s not just about giving artists an open and accepting stage to introduce their works to the world.

It’s not limited to giving minds the room to sparkle. To play. To dance.

It’s all of those things – and so much more – but when I think of Fringe, I see part of my own heart. Because it’s made by people I care about and it does something great for our region.

I’m proud of my friends who are the artists, the co-organizers, the directors, and the volunteers.

The people who sold buttons and shared social media posts and fangirled over the ideas we had at bars late at night.

The people who wrote a GODDAMN MUSICAL and the people who are bringing it to life with toe-tapping, puppet-making, sha-la-la-ing intensity.

The people who make us laugh. Cry. Feel. Fall in love.

The people who gave money, time, advice, and commitment.

The people who made phone calls and stored shit in their basements.

I’m grateful that I get to share in a few moments this weekend – and many weekends before and after – working with them, playing with them, sparkling with them.

Because things like this don’t happen every day. Essential as they may be, they don’t always happen. It takes a lot of work and time and effort. It’s scary to try something new. It’s challenging to make something happen in your community. It’s intimidating to have to push yourself. Especially when it’s needed.

But when those special people do, magic happens.

And that’s what Fringe is. It’s pure magic.

And if you believe in magic – in any sense of the word – you’ll be a part of it this weekend.

SCRANTON FRINGE FESTIVAL

OCTOBER 1-4, 2015 in DOWNTOWN SCRANTON

SCHEDULE: http://scrantonfringe.org/2015-schedule/

TICKETS: http://scrantonfringe.ticketleap.com/

SOCIAL: https://www.facebook.com/scrantonfringefestival and #ScrantonFringe

ABOUT SCRANTON FRINGE:

The Scranton Fringe Festival is dedicated to creating a bold and engaging platform for creative and thought provoking art with minimal risk to artist and audience. Regional as well as touring artists will be welcomed to present work with no censorship placed on content or artistic expression while striving to promote Scranton as a viable and creative environment.

All types of shows are welcomed on the fringe! You can expect to any of the following at the fringe festival: Theater, Comedy, Fashion, Burlesque, Spoken Word, Dance/Movement, Music, Film, Magic and (possibly) MORE!

40+ productions. 12 venues. 1 city. #SCRANTONFRINGE

 

 

 

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