Sometimes I'm Down, and Sometimes I'm Up

New Year. A time of celebration, reflection, planning, and new beginnings…right?

For some people, I do believe that is the case. But it’s not the case for everyone, myself included.

Personally, I’ve never really been a fan of New Year’s Eve and all of the traditions that go with it. It seems a bit much to party and eat and drink so close to the holiday break, and the idea of “resolutions” always gives me a feeling of dread like I’m just going to fail all my new endeavors. Perhaps not the best head space to enter into a new calendar year with.

So what to do?

Keep It Positive

This can be quite difficult. And honestly, I hate when people tell me to “be positive” or “stay positive” or "don’t be so negative.” There can be great value in letting negativity sit with you for a while so you can work through it.

So why am I suggesting positivity?

I find that there is so much negativity naturally wrapped up in the end of the holiday season that focusing on anything else but the positive can lead to a mid-winter spiral that is difficult to come out of. I’ve seen it happen to many of my friends, and I’ve experienced it more times than I would like to admit. So, I’m going to lean into this idea that I really don’t love and I’m going to suggest to look positively back on the year, as well as forward at what’s next, but also without ignoring the negatives.

3 x 5

Now, I know a lot of people spend time making huge lists at this time of year: everything they’ve done and everything they want to accomplish. But I find that task quite daunting. And I know other people will suggest doing big dream boards or goals lists etc. to keep them on track looking forward, but I prefer to keep it small.

I suggest three easy-to-make lists of 5 items each (do more or less at your own leisure!):

#1: Your Top 5 Favorite Moments From Last Year

Why favorite? Well, sometimes our biggest triumphs on paper don’t always feel the most fulfilling, so why limit yourself?

I find that favorite moments can be big or small, which gives lots of wiggle room and makes it easier to fill the list. And these can be related to your profession or personal life or something more specific if you choose, but since this blog is focused on being an artist I’m going to keep my list focused on my artistic life.

  1. Watching my best friend run (and finish) her first full marathon in Disney World!…Okay, I cheated a little with this one, but for artistic reasons. I actually missed a full weekend of rehearsals for a show I was musical directing at the time to make this happen, which eventually meant more work on my end. But you know what? That artistic sacrifice was totally worth it.

  2. Hearing the crowd roar with love and support for our cast of Beauty and the Beast at New Hyde Park High School last year. That was a special group of people, and they deserved every accolade they got!

  3. Pippin at From Stage to Screen. The entire experience working with our teen cast and my creative team was wonderful and delightful! The growth I saw during the show amazed me, and so many of those kids pulled off feats I would not have thought possible. My cup runneth over with pride, even still now.

  4. Listening to my orchestrations being played in a Broadway theater for the Arts For Autism concert in June. A small orchestra played three of my orchestrations to a packed house at the Gershwin Theater (where Wicked resides), and it was an incredible experience! And if you don’t know about the Arts For Autism concert, click here now and learn about this life-changing event!

  5. The whirlwind 4-day experience of traveling to Bristol Valley Theater with my collaborator Sean Havrilla (and company) to learn our entire musical, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, to perform in two public readings. 11 hours of travel, 8 hours of rehearsal, 5 performer friends, 2 readings and talk backs, and 1 phenomenal theater.

  6. (BONUS - Just because!) Getting to sing with one of my closest friends at the wedding of one of my other closest friends. Love and music are a beautiful combination. :-)

#2: Your Bottom 5 Least Favorite Moments From Last Year

What? But why, Michael? Why would I want to remember my least favorite moments from the year?

Every experience is a learning experience. Perhaps something didn’t go right for you this year and perhaps it was even painful. But I guarantee you learned something from it. We are creatures of habit, yes, but we also constantly teach ourselves new things to ensure that we repeat positive actions and avoid repeating negative ones. This could serve as an excellent reflection on what you may want to figure out how to avoid in the coming year, so as not to repeat missteps.

  1. Struggling to make it through playing two full weekends of 13 The Musical. Pop-rock shows and my tendonitis do not always agree, and this was one of those slightly painful times. Did I over-rehearse? You betcha. Oops.

  2. Overscheduling my spring. I took on too many projects at once and promised too much of my time. I made it through, but I’ve never felt so ragged in the springtime (or gotten a spring cold before).

  3. I missed one of my favorite annual experiences this past year. I had a group of students performing in the Arts For Autism concert this past year (and they were gooooood), but I missed their professional experience and rehearsal weekend leading up to the concert. I was sad in the moment and still regret not being there. But now I know.

  4. Getting frustrated with myself when I was doing my best. I learned how to tap in three months for a show this year, which was quite a feat in and of itself, and I never gave myself enough credit or any amount of a break. Sometimes, we just need to be kind to ourselves.

  5. Having to say no to a wonderful experience. I could not make it work and I don’t regret saying no - sometimes we simply have to - but I was very sad to miss a potentially wonderful opportunity.

#3: 5 Things You Are Looking Forward To For Next Year

What I like about this concept is that it isn’t a list of goals that you feel obligated to achieve (though it can be if that’s how you roll) and it’s not talking about things that are all nebulous - it’s simply about what excites you looking forward. And if you can’t fill this list yet, that may be a signal that you need to create more opportunities to look forward with excitement in your life, whether that be in your career, hobbies, general life, social life, etc. Having something to look forward to helps me keep my momentum, even when things don’t feel awesome in the moment. Maybe it will help you too.

  1. My musical The King’s Legacy is getting a world premier this summer at the Bristol Valley Theater!!! If this isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.

  2. Getting back to writing the baton-twirling musical comedy that I began with a friend and collaborator last year. This thing is going to be such fun!

  3. Working on Legally Blonde at New Hyde Park High School this coming spring. The excitement off of these kids is contagious and electric.

  4. Working on RENT at From Stage To Screen this coming spring. They are stoked and doubling down already for these auditions - it’s going to be an excellent experience.

  5. Continuing this blog! Getting to write something weekly has been a blast so far, and I can’t wait to continue!

I Wish You…

Just a personal note from me moving into 2019: I wish you all the best. I sincerely hope that what you desire comes to you, and that you are living with good health and joy. Thank you for reading, and thank you for being you.