Hi Shallengers!

This week was TOUGH. Most of my weeks in the some 1100 odd days I’ve lived in New York are tough, but there are some that attempt to break you in half.

Some weeks it can be tough to possess that unrelenting resilience required of me to be a performer, a singer, a musician, a writer, and a human being. There were days this week where I laid in bed and stared up at my “wall of love” with all its inspirational quotes and pictures of my family and thought, “I just don’t feel like being positive today.”

As Debbie Downer as that sounds, I’m entitled to those days, those weeks.

I had grandiose plans for this week, as I usually do, but this week was more about reflecting, being alone, and asking myself honestly, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU REALLY WANT?!”

1. Experience something new.

8/14 Build public art with LEGOs

After a strenuous 2.5 mile run in 90 degree weather, I decided to walk back to my apartment on the High Line rather than walk back up the West Side Highway or take the train.

At first, I was peeved by the congestion and the amounts of tourists, so blindly unaware of their own existence, but then as I approached the northern end of the park, it cleared out a little bit. Then I noticed a roped-off area with this sign in front of it:

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Originally I walked into the exhibit to take a few pictures and admire this cool community project. Art collective projects like this are my favorite. About a year and 1/2 ago, I participated in a The Strangers Project. I was instructed that my story must fit on a single side of an 8.5×11 sheet of paper, be true, and anonymous.

With this collective, it was more hands-on. Essentially, there were about 30-40 people all working on their own contributions to the work: some making more structural choices (towers, bridges, etc) and some (like myself,) making our own personal stamps on the project. As you can see below, I chose to create my initials.

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2. Go somewhere in New York City that I haven’t been before. 

8/15 Explore the East Village, Alphabet City, and Lower East Side 

Yes, I’ve been to the Lower East Side before. Some of the venues and bars down there are my favorite to frequent. However, I’m not as familiar with the area as other neighborhoods in the city. So I started on St. Marks, wandered in and out of the shops, pausing to watch all of the unique, trendy people who hang out in that area. I love St. Marks because it’s a place where anyone and everyone can be themselves. There is no such thing as a “freak” on St. Marks. On St. Marks, we’re all freaks.

I walked down to Tompkins Square Park and wove around the paths, admiring the families with kids, the dogs eager to chase the overfed squirrels, and the young NYU couples in love. I sat for about 30 minutes on a bench, without my trusty headphones on, letting the soundtrack to my day be the birds, and the wind, and the mindless chatter.

When I got up from the bench, I strolled down Avenue B past schools, and little community gardens, and found all sorts of cool street art and objects, that I would typically overlook being as fast-paced and focused as I usually am.

Here were two of my favorite sights of the day.

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One of the things I love about New York, is that “ugly” things can be made beautiful. The first photo is a trash receptacle. But someone chose to make it beautiful. Some people may scoff and say that graffiti is not art, but I think some graffiti is art at its purest form. Graffiti artists often make art for no financial gain, and are often not recognized for their work (unless you’re Banksy). This person was not defacing anything. He or she was leaving his/her stamp and saying, “I am here! WE are here! And we’re in this thing called life together!”

The next picture I love because I feel like this van is something so indicative of the Lower East Side. If you want to be a hippie and like Chris Farley (as Matt Foley) “live in a van down by the river,” you can! I am dying to know the history of this van. I’m sure there is a book full of stories about this van.

I finally made a giant circle and walked all the way back to the West 4th subway (with a short stop on 2nd Avenue to my favorite tattoo parlor and consider getting a third tattoo…) and then headed back home.

3. Do something alone that I would normally do with others.

8/15 Explore the East Village, Alphabet City, and Lower East Side 

(See the full story above)

There was something so beautiful and peaceful about being alone for several hours on a sunny day in New York. I was so acutely aware of how many people were in this city and how “alone” in those few hours I actually was. It’s both freeing and incredibly scary to realize how alone you are.

I’m sorry to be so introspective in this post, but that has simply been that kind of week.

4. Say “yes” to something to which I would typically say “no.”

8/13-81/14 Applying to a slew of jobs

This past week I put in something like 12 resumes and cover letters to various companies. Some were for music business related 9-5 jobs, others were part time positions.

I’m not giving up my dream to work in the industry as a singer/actress/performer, but I am allowing myself to explore options. I’ve been largely unhappy with my current work situation, and am looking for something new.

I also have been feeling lately that my knowledge that I spent years collecting, is sitting on a dusty shelf, WAITING to be used. The times I feel like I’m stimulating my brain the most are when I write music, write (either for this blog, or for my own personal use), or read a new book.

I want to use my education. I no longer want to feel like I’m an object, instead of a person at work. We shall see how this pans out.

5. Do something that scares me.

8/12 Get rejected… HARD

I had a big audition this week, and was rejected, quite harshly. I’m no stranger to rejection, but this one particularly stung. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons I chose to do so much soul searching this week. You can read the post here.

8/13-81/14 Applying to a slew of jobs

(See above)

I already have an interview on Wednesday. Cheer to new adventures!

6. Make a new friend. 

8/16 Central Park picnic

After a delightful Sunday morning at SoulCycle, and a brunch with some good friends, my crew and I went to Central Park to join some friends of a friend.

I had some great conversations with all these new faces, and was truly stimulated by these wonderful, interesting people. It amazes me how many like-minded, open, friendly individuals I’ve found in this city.

7. Have a book of the Week

The Martian – Andy Weir

This book has been a bit of a slow burn for me. I’m enjoying the concept so far, but the scientific jargon is weighing me down a big. However, I always like to finish something I start, and this book is not a National Bestseller for nothing. I will report back when I finish. Perhaps I just need to get over the hump of the science talk and dive further into the story.

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8. Purge the unnecessary.

I did not get rid of anything this week. Although my bag collection needs to be combed through. Perhaps this week.

9. Do something that makes me feel beautiful. 

8/12 – Dressing up for my audition 

Although my audition was not successful, I spent time making myself look and more importantly feel beautiful. I did not attempt to dress for anyone else, just myself. I felt completely comfortable, and let my inside shine through my outward appearance.

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10. Surround myself with nature. 

8/15 Explore the East Village, Alphabet City, and Lower East Side 

(See Above)

Tompkins Square Park and all the little gardens and pockets of green along my walk made me feel so lucky to live in this city. I’m excited to see more of what New York City has to offer me in terms of their spectacular park system.

Shallenges Completed: 9/10

Shan Baby Score: 6/10

This score may seem a little harsh, but some of these things hit multiple categories. This week I let a little dark raincloud hang over my head when I could have done more to fill up my week.

In a way, I’m glad I had a tough week; it helped me focus more fiercely on my end goals. I needed a slap in the face of sorts to make me ask myself tough questions: “What do you want? Who do you want to be? What makes you happy? Are you doing everything in your power to make yourself happy?” 

Here’s my Happy Face of the Week:

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Until next week,

Shannon Rose Allen

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