MY MUSIC VIDEO! (And The Shallenge Week 7/8)

HELLO WORLD!

My apologies for not giving you my weekly Shallenge last week. I’ve been SUPER busy finishing up stuff for the EP, auditioning, and working.

BUT, I’m happy to report that my music video is DONE! Here it is!

You can also download the song on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/you-hate-me-single/id1032069998

OR

Stream it on Soundcloud here: 

So here is my Shallenge for weeks 7 AND 8. (Roughly 8/25-9/7)

1. Experience something new.

Release an single on iTunes/Spotify and an official music video on Youtube.

(See Above)

I’m beyond excited to share this music with you. This EP (when it’s finally released in full) will be the fruits of a long, tumultuous, beautiful, stressful, artistic, eventful three years. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy it makes me to go through this journey of releasing my music with those who love me the most.

So please share and download in order to spread the love around. It will be GREATLY appreciated.

9/5 Watching the sunset over Central Park

I’ve never been able to watch the sun go down, and the NYC lights come up from such a hight! When Katie and Nick came to visit for the Labor Day weekend from Nashville, they stayed in the Le Meridien Hotel and the pool room had a GORGEOUS view. The walls of the pool house were just glass for days! You could see Central Park in its entirety. All of us just looked out, and took a quiet moment to appreciate how lucky we were to be there for those moments.

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

9/5 Going to the top of the Le Meridien hotel and watching the sunset over Central Park

(See above)

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

9/2 Turning off my phone for an entire morning

Now, this doesn’t exactly fit the category, but there was a morning last week where I very much needed to be alone. I had an audition that I signed up for in the morning, went home, released, made myself a light lunch, went back, auditioned, and CRUSHED the audition.

I was in complete silence that morning other than rehearsing for my audition. I had no worries about who was texting me, what people were posting on Facebook, the latest Twitter hastags, or any of the naked models on Instagram.

Most times, when I trust my instincts and truly listen to my heart, I give the best auditions. It’s often when I let others get into my head, that I don’t perform as well.

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

9/7 Do NOTHING on Labor Day

After one of the best weekends I’ve ever had in my LIFE, I was sad to see Katie and Nick leave. However, I had some much-needed downtime. I laid on my couch, caught up on TV, did some dishes, listened to some music, and took a few little naps.

I got invited to parties, to parks, to hangout, and drink, and yet staying it was the best decision I’ve made in a while.

5. Do something that scares me.

Releasing my single/video

Yes, I know I brought this up previously, but this scares the shit out of me. One of my best friends was visiting this past weekend and she told me (in a very nice way), that she liked my first album, but it wasn’t really “me.”  And I tend to agree with her.

However, this album is so much “me,”  that I’m left completely uncovered, vulnerable, naked.

6. Make a new friend. 

8/26 Meeting new people at a friend’s birthday party

One of my dear friends had a birthday dinner and then a karaoke party afterward, and there were several people at the party I didn’t know. The great thing about this friend, is he is so loving and accepting, that I feel that I can always trust his judgements regarding friendship. It was special to spend time with him, but also a treat to meet some new and interesting people.

7. Have a book of the Week

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

I picked this book up from one of the tables at The Strand. The book outlines the history of philosophy through a 15 year old girl (Sophie) and her philosophy teacher. I’m just about done with it (I haven’t had a lot of time to read these past two weeks), but it’s a great refresher course on philosophers, and also told in a unique way.

Sometimes reading philosophy can feel like a textbook, but Gaarder’s method of storytelling is accessible, yet not dumbed down.

8. Purge the unnecessary.

Throwing out old “unmentionables”

I threw out a bunch of old pairs of socks and underwear. Don’t judge me monkey; it needed to happen!

9. Do something that makes me feel beautiful. 

9/4-9/7 Hanging out with old friends for the Labor Day Weekend

Katie is one of my oldest friends, (I’ve known her since the 1st grade) and I just ADORE her husband Nick. They are one of the easiest couples to hang out with because they both compliment each other, are never needy, and truly just go with the flow. I never felt like third wheel the entire weekend (although we did bring Jen along for the ride to make it an even four a few times!).

There was a particular day, where we started in Central Park in Sheeps Meadow. We stayed in the park for a few hours, and then wandered back to their hotel suite. The entire day was full of good conversation, good vibes, and really just basking in our friendships with each other. We did not go to a fancy club. We did not spend a lot of money. We did not even need to be wearing nice clothes. Katie, Nick, Jen, and I were just able to be, and exist around each other without needing anything else.

It was a day/night, and it made me feel beautiful that I am lucky enough to share my life with such beautiful people.

10. Surround myself with nature. 

9/5 Central Park Sheeps Meadow

The summer is over, and ending it in Sheeps was a nice testament to this crazy season.

9/6 Walking the Highline

Because of the holiday weekend, the Highline was a bit more overpopulated than usual, but I do love showing off the beautiful parts of my city to those who haven’t seen them before.

Shallenges Completed: 9/10

I’ll give myself a 9 instead of a 10 simply because I used a few examples twice and didn’t always complete the challenges as they were meant to be.

Shan Baby Score: 6/10

My score is so harsh, because most of these challenges were completed in the last week, not in the week before. I let myself be a little lax for a week, and it honestly didn’t feel too great. Completing these tasks help me learn something new every week, and I never, ever want to stop learning and growing as a person.

One last thing before I go: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE like, share, and spread around my music! Spread the love y’all!

Love always,

Shannon Rose Allen

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How Much Love?

The Notebook is on. It’s 5:30 p.m. I still haven’t changed out of my PJs. It’s Sunday. In about an hour or so, I will probably order some Steak n’ Shake online because I REALLY want a milkshake.

It’s one of those wonderful, lazy, introspective Sundays. I haven’t spoken to anyone today, other than my roommate’s dog, who is sitting at my feet while I write this.

So since I’m in such a mood, I’ll write about my favorite subject: LOVE.

How much love are we granted in our lifetimes?

Do we have a limited amount of chances at love?

I remember the first time I watched The Notebook with my first love, a boy I dated in high school. We were mad about each other; in the midst of our teenage years. We had just finished his senior prom dance (I was a sophomore at the time). In my high school there was a day in between prom (Friday night) and the day everyone went to Cedar Point to enjoy rollercoasters, ferris wheels, and bad fried food (Sunday day).

So on Saturday, I convinced this boy, (who I was absolutely crazy about and was crazy about me) to watch The Notebook. I had seen the movie only once before on a long bus trip for one of my show choir competitions. I cried like a baby through most of it, and was so happy that I had a boy who I loved as much as Allie loved Noah. I was so lucky. I was 16 years old and in love.

Real love.

After we finished the movie, that boy pulled me into a hug and said, “I love you so much.”

I will never forget that moment, because it was one of the times in my life that when someone said those words, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it was true.

I can now say wholeheartedly, being a 27-year-old woman, that what I had with that boy was real. Probably more real than any love I’ve experienced since then.

So this leads me to my initial question: How much love are we granted in our lifetimes?

Did I use mine up? I’ve been in love exactly twice in my life, one with the boy in my story above, and once more in my last relationship. Both loves were unique in their own way; they taught me different things. Obviously there were problems in both, (What relationship is without issues?) but I so, completely loved these two men while I was with them and gave them the sincerest form of my heart.

So is that it? Did I miss my chance?

Did I use up all my love?

Now, I know the counter-argument here: “Oh but you’re so young!” “You’ll find someone!” “Someone will come along when you least expect it!” 

Spare me.

Because honestly, I’m not convinced that the kind of love that I want still exists in my world.

When I say my world, let me clarify: my life as it exists in New York City. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life here, but I don’t know that love is here, for me, in this city. What’s more concerning to me though, is my generation’s way of going about dating and relationships. The cavalier nature in which pretty much every potential prospect has treated me, makes me sometimes wish I were born into a different generation. A generation who care more. A generation who felt more.

A generation who loved more.

Who knows, perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the love of my life is just around some unforeseen corner, under some unturned stone. Perhaps he’s not.

I suppose I’m lucky to have loved at all. (You all know the quote, don’t make me say it.)

I want to believe that I will find love of some sort again. Hopefully it is less like my generation’s skeletal idea of love, and more like the loves I’ve experienced in the past.

The next time someone tells me those words, I want to feel like I did that lazy day where I watched the Notebook over 10 years ago. I don’t want to question the sincerity of the statement or have any reservations.

I want to know.

Until then, I’ll still question whether this life will give me another shot at love.

Xx.

Shannon Rose Allen

The Shallenge Week 6: Stronger

I’m exhausted this week. Apologies if this week’s Shallenge is a little brief. I shall possibly explain in another post later this week. But right now it’s 10:45 on a Monday night and my call time tomorrow is 7 am. By the time you read this, I will have been on set for server all hours! 

Anyway, let’s jump in!

1. Experience something new.

8/19 Color Me Mine

Jen and I adventured to a lovely place in Tribeca this week called Color Me Mine. The deal is you pay a studio free for paints and supplies, then an additional price for your piece, depending on the size.

You can take as long as you would like to make your creation. Jen and I both decided to go with key trays that looked like quote bubbles. Jen went with, “Don’t 4get Ya Keys Ya D-Bag” while I went with my favorite Latin phrase, “aut viam inveniam aut faciam.” (translated as: I shall either find a way or make one)

We had a ton of fun AND found out that the place is BYOB. So next time we’re bringing the champagne!!

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8/21 Yankees vs Indians Game

I’ve been to Yankees Stadium a few times, but never to watch the Tribe play. It was a beautiful night, and I was with all Cleveland fans which was amazing. The Indians ended up winning which was awesome, considering we haven’t been doing so well this season.

Gotta love a good ol’ game of baseball!

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8/22 Bowlmor Lanes Chelsea Piers

It was my friend’s birthday this week, so we celebrating by renting three lanes at Chelsea Piers’ Bowlmor Lanes. I haven’t bowled in YEARS so it was great to make an ass of myself and have fun with a ton of new and old friends.

At one point in the night, my team created what was called “The Model,” where essentially one walks down the runway like a top model and then casual drops the ball into the lane. I’m surprised no one kicked us out for all the crap we were pulling. Regardless, it was fun!

I took a lot of video, but no actual photos of me bowling. However, here is my bowling “look” for the night.

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

8/19 Color Me Mine

(See Above)

8/22 Bowlmor Lanes

(See Above)

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

8/21 Barry’s Bootcamp

I wrote last week about going to Barry’s Bootcamp and absolutely loving it. Well, this time I went ALONE and added on the treadmill rotation that I had previously skipped. When I tell you that Barry’s is the toughest, yet rewarding workout you will every experience, I mean IT IS THE TOUGHEST AND REWARDING WORKOUT YOU WILL EVER EXPERIENCE.

I encourage everyone who has a Barry’s location near them to check it out. If you live in NYC, you should absolutely check out my friend Zack H’s class because he’s incredible.

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

8/19 Joined a new dating app

Sigh. Yes. I did. And I’m already regretting it. This particular app promises to be free of any “fuck boy” riff raff, and yet it seems to be the same as all other forms of dating online: AWFUL.  I’ll probably delete it this upcoming week.

Side Note: I guess “fuck boy” has become my generation’s new term for douchebag. Yet, every time I hear the term, it just reminds me of a term one might hear on So You Think You Can Dance for a new type of contemporary dancer. Kind of like “B-Boy.”

Example: Next up we have Raymond, a “Fuck Boy” straight out of Detroit, Michigan.

Anyone else? It kind of makes me giggle.

5. Do something that scares me.

8/18 Set my new single, You Hate Me to arrive on social media sites

Yes. I will have a single AND a music video for you soon. Patience my friends. These things take time to perfect.

6. Make a new friend. 

8/20 “Basic Bitch” House Party

I went to a “Basic Bitch” party this last week that was light hearted and full of some super fun individuals. I was attempting to give you my best “housewife basic bitch.” I didn’t take a great picture dead on, but the whole outfit was complete with pearl, a sensible blouse and periwinkle dress shorts. Don’t forget the Toms shoes! 🙂

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7. Have a book of the Week

I’m still working on The Martian by Andy Weir. I’m finding it difficult to get past all the space and science jargon. I’m enjoying the story, but I can only stand the book for so long until I put it down and go back to bingeing episodes of Orphan Black (WHICH IS FANTASTIC).

8. Purge the unnecessary.

I didn’t so much as purge this week, as I did organize. I ended up doing something like six loads of laundry in one day over the weekend, and then subsequently re-organized all my already clean clothing with my cleaned clothing.

I still would like to try to go through my closet at least once a month and try to get rid of 5 pieces. That’s my goal. We shall see if it actually happens.

9. Do something that makes me feel beautiful. 

8/18-8/24 FITNESS FITNESS FITNESS!!!! 

I. CANNOT. STOP. WORKING. OUT! I know that I typically have a pretty regimented workout schedule, but now that I’ve been getting into classes like Flywheel, Soul Cycle, and Barry’s Bootcamp, I can literally see my body changing before my very eyes.

Here’s a silly picture of me dressing 80s style to my friend Zack’s Flywheel class.

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10. Surround myself with nature. 

I just didn’t hit this one this week. Unless you count being on a rooftop at the house party, I did not bathe myself in nature at all.

Shallenges Completed: 7/10

Shan Baby Score: 7/10

Even though this face looks distressed, here’s my Happy Face of the Week, which just so happens to be the artwork for my new single: 

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Love always,

Shannon Rose Allen

The Shallenge Week 5: The Art of Being Alone

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

Sometimes it’s a “NO”

Sometimes it’s a “no.”

And not just a polite, “no thank you.”

But a big, FAT, honking, “N.O.”

You feel so free, so unaware of anything except your talent. You feel sure.

There is that moment when you take a deep breath, place your fingers on the keys, and open your mouth for your first note.

All the sudden you are acutely aware of your surroundings.

“Why is the air conditioner so loud?” 

“I’m playing these chords too slow.” 

“The mic is too far away from my face. Whoops! Now it’s too close.”

“Why is the casting director talking through my best phrase?”

“Why did I choose this FUCKING song!?” 

“It is such a good song, but there’s that other FUCKING song that would have been better!”

“Oh fuck, not I forgot a chord! What comes after Asus!?! WHAT THE FUCK COMES AFTER THE GOD DAMNED Asus!?!”

“Well we fudged that part well enough… maybe.” 

“Alright… here comes the big vocal part…” 

“THANK YOU, SHANNON. WE’LL BE IN TOUCH!”

After weeks of perfecting, vocalizing, and visualizing yourself on the stage… ANY stage at this point. Alas, there must be another “no.”

And probably many more “nos” to come.

So how do we change a “no” into a “yes?” Ask anyone who has ever gotten their life-changing “yes;” it’s often serendipitous. Sure, that person was wildly talented and deserving, but that’s most of the New York City creative world.

The other constant conundrum is how to we persevere in a world of “nos?” What is the right decision? Do we curb our creativity and put it into a more prosperous or lucrative career? Do we take the small victories and take the unpaid shows, the background work, the open mics, the shitty bar shows that pay in beers? Do we sell out, find a producer that picks apart every piece of skin, sinew, and bone that makes us a person, and produce massive amounts consumerism shit to throw at the world?

Or do we continue to make art? Do we continue to be happy in the moment when our voices project from a speaker, or out fingers strum our guitar strings, or our hands hit the keys.

Maybe we hold our heads up high. Let each “no” be a little battle scar that a resounding “YES!” will eventually patch up.

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I don’t know.

I really don’t know.

I do, though, very much know what a “no” looks, feels, tastes and smells like.

I’m all too familiar.

Xx

S

The Shallenge Week 4: Body and Mind

Hello my lovely Shallengers!

Week four of the Shallenge brought far more than I even realized. When I began to write this post and was tallying my successes in each category, I found out that I had quite the week indeed.

As always, if you’re a new reader, please revisit my original post, as well as weeks one, two and three, if you are interested.

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

1. Experience something new.

8/4 The Hunger Games Exhibit 

Jen and I ventured to the touristy streets of Times Square to the exhibits at Discovery. We decided that we would see two of the three exhibits they had running. The first being The Hunger Games trilogy exhibit.

I imagined it would be something similar to the Harry Potter exhibit I went to when it came to Boston’s Museum of Science, and I was essentially correct. There are several rooms with costumes, paraphernalia, information about the making of the movies/books, and interactive media.

My personal favorite parts were examining Katniss’s “Girl on Fire” dresses (including the wedding dress), playing with an interactive map of the districts to see what District I would have been in (growing up in Cleveland, I would have been on the boarder of Districts 3 and 6.), and making my Beetee-esque propaganda piece where I appeared, in selfie form, as part of the rebellion.

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8/4 Body Worlds – Pulse

Next, Jen and I wandered over to the Body Worlds exhibit, which perhaps because it is less exciting to children, was far less crowded. I’ve been wanting to see a Body exhibit for a while now, and I’m glad I finally got around to it.

What I found most fascinating was seeing the difference between the healthy body parts, as opposed to the not-so-healthy body parts. For example, the non-smoker’s lungs as opposed to the heavy smoker’s lungs. Getting to see all the actual muscles and tissues that make up a human body was such a cool, new experience. I only wish I had a doctor there with me, just as I always like to have a visual artist with me when I go to art museums; I like to hear the expert word. Alas, neither Jennifer, nor myself, are even CLOSE to being doctors.

Although I truly enjoyed both exhibits, they were a little pricey. I would definitely recommend trying to find a coupon if you do so choose to go. Again, no regrets, but for someone who is a struggling artist in NYC, every penny counts.

8/7 Saved by the 90s

Jen (again, my fearless Shallenge partner in crime) and I wanted something new and fun to do on our Friday night. She told me about a 90s party at Webster Hall that happens every Friday. I put two and two together and realized that I had been to a Saved by the 90s Bayside Tigers party a few years ago, as there are some Berklee alumni who rock out in that band.

The party is 19+, which can be a little annoying for someone in her late 20s, but was still a riot. Jen and I RSVPed early to receive free admission, and also got two-for-one drinks until midnight. (SCORE!)

The best part about this night, was it was just about the two of us friends drinking and dancing to throwback tunes. Neither of us were concerned with finding someone to make out with, or talk to (although there were plenty of parties interested in our crazy asses).

Jen and I were decked out in in our best 90s grunge attire, and danced the night away until she turned into a pumpkin and had to retreat home for an early morning Saturday work shift. I most definitely recommend checking this party out A) if you like to dance, B) if you love 90s tunes, and C) if you are looking for something more than the tired, desperate bar scene of New York.

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8/10 Barry’s Bootcamp

Oh boy. This one kicked my ASS.

One of my dear friends Zack, has just completed his training as a Barry’s Bootcamp instructor. I was lucky enough to nab a spot in his first ever class! The class essentially consists of two parts: floor and treadmill. There are four alternating rounds (two treadmill and two floor) and Zack had us focusing on abs and arms. I personally chose to stay on the floor the entire time doing two sets of arm workouts and two sets of ab workouts because I wasn’t feeling great, but next time I will definitely jump on that treadmill.

What’s so great about Barry’s is you really feel like you’re in it together with the entire class. The other class members were my fellow soldiers and were were all suffering (BOY were we suffering) together! Zack is an incredible teacher with a real zeal and love for what he does. I highly recommend his class if you live in New York

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

8/4 -Discovery Times Square

(See Above)

8/5 – Run UP the West Side (Riverside Park) 

As I’m still completing my 10k training, I’ve really appreciated how much I love running outside. Typically I start from my apartment and run 3 or so miles downtown, but on the 5th, after a long day working on set, I decided to run up the west side and discover Riverside Park.

This gorgeous stretch of park was perfect for an evening run, and would also be the perfect place to take a stroll or have a picnic with a loved one. While I was running this particular night, there was a movie playing on the pier, and the whole area was buzzing with couples (young and old), friends, and family.

I attempted to talk a picture mid-run of the beautiful sky, and it turned out a little blurry. My apologies.

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

8/9 SoulCycle 

I typically prefer to work out alone, but when it comes to classes that are so intense, such as SoulCycle, it’s good to have a partner in crime. On Sunday, I opted to take a class with my friend Brandon, who goes by Reed, as my instructor.

Although I obviously knew Brandon upon entering the class, there is clearly a divide between teacher and instructor, and not to mention the riders who were coming to a class at 5pm on a Sunday, DEFINITELY had some dedication.

There is something about cycling that allows me to process through my stresses and anxieties in a healthy way. As I was desperately peddling to the beat and hanging on Brandon’s every word, I also cleared my head (and hopefully burned a ton of calories!)

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

8/8 – Go to Williamsburg for a date

Yes, I know I told myself that I would not go on any more drink dates, but the occasion arose on Saturday to go get drinks with someone whom I’ve gone on a few dates with in the past year. When he asked that we meet in Williamsburg to go bar hopping, I initially had objections. I know I sound like a Manhattan snob, but weekend trains in the summer can be hellacious, especially when we’re talking about the L between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

After going a few different places, we ended up at this dive bar called Rocka Rolla which played awesome classic rock music, had an eclectic crowd similar to that you may see at a Lower East Side rocker bar, and served this delicious specialty called “The Coffee Thing,” which was delicious and alcoholic. The beverages were cheap and the company was good.

I’m glad I decided to say “yes.”

5. Do something that scares me.

8/8 – Blog about body issues

I have been pretty honest about my struggles with body image on my blog, but this past weekend, I wrote a reflective post about how this has really been affecting me lately.  It is always scary to be vulnerable and open up fresh wounds regarding one’s insecurities, but I’m glad wrote it.

You can read the post here.

6. Make a new friend. 

I did not make any new friends this week. Womp Womp.

However, I did hold dearly on to those whom I love.

7. Have a book of the Week

Freedom – Jonathan Franzen

Oh my. This book knocked me out. As I’m writing this, I probably have about 30 pages left to read, but I can truly say I haven’t wanted to put it down since I started.

Freedom follows the story of an American family and their lives pre/post 9/11 as they all go through their own individual struggles as human beings. There is a constant reference to being a “good” person versus a “bad” person, or doing what is “right” as opposed to “wrong.” This family ends up in the gray area that many American family find themselves in. Your heart will break in a million different ways for each character, and I personally went back and forth between whose side I was on based on the character telling his/her story.

This book makes me want to read all of Franzen’s other works. His writing can be dense at times, but it is endlessly descriptive, honest, and at some times a bit surreal.

8. Purge the unnecessary.

8/7 Go through all my makeup, toiletries and medicines

Whenever I move from place to place, I rarely go through my toiletries and beauty products. This is usually because they exist in little space-saving cubbies in my closet, and can easily be packed up and moved without giving them a second thought.

I went through and PURGED some old products and also gave Jen some of my barely used, awesome makeup products, that simply just weren’t my taste. I also has far too many shades of lip that were practically the same color, so I deemed my best friend worth of rocking them on her face instead of mine.

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9. Do something that makes me feel beautiful. 

8/7 Learning new songs on piano

On Friday before I went out, I sat at my piano and experimented with several arrangements of cover songs I’ve been dying to play. Before I knew it, several hours has passed in what seemed like minutes.

Something about sitting down and creating music, whether it’s my own or someone else’s, makes me feel internally beautiful. I feel like I glow from the inside out after I’ve spent time singing and playing.

10. Surround myself with nature. 

8/5 Riverside Park dusk run 

(See Above)

Shallenges Completed: 9/10

This week I did not make a new friend, but I definitely completed all the other categories and then some!

Shan Baby Score: 10/10

I’m going to go ahead and give myself a perfect score because I feel like I truly, sincerely lived this week, and that’s what this Shallenge is all about!

Here’s my Happy Face of the Week: 

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Until next week!

Peace and Love,

Shannon

“You can’t be ugly! Be Pretty!”

There’s a scene in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, where Clementine divulges the following to Joel as his memory of her is being erased:

Clementine: “Joely? Am I ugly? When I was a kid I thought I was. I can’t believe I’m crying already. Sometimes I think people don’t understand how lonely it is to be a kid. Like, you don’t matter. So I’m eight, and I have these toys, these dolls. My favorite is this ugly, girl doll, who I call Clementine. And I keep yelling at her, ‘You can’t be ugly! Be pretty!’ It’s weird. Like if I can transform her I would magically change too.” 

This movie is a beautiful piece of cinema, and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t done so.

All that aside, this scene in the movie has always struck a chord in me. In particular, I think it resonates with me now more so than ever.

An ex-boyfriend of mine introduced me to this film way back when it came out in 2004. I vividly remember us watching it together and him telling me I reminded him of Clementine. I took some grandiose offense to this, and it probably turned into a dramatic fight, which ironically proved his point. In the little over ten years since that movie has come out, I’ve simply embraced just how Clementine-esque I’ve become.

Lately I’ve been borderline obsessive over my appearance. Not necessarily obsessive in a Narcissus-complex way, but rather in a “You-can’t-be-ugly-BE-PRETTY” way that Clementine outlines in her above monologue.

Those of you who know me, know that this post is not intended as an act to retain sympathy. No, I’m too self-aware to try to illicit meaningless sympathy via the internet. I’m simply being introspective about the roots of my somewhat newfound obsession with trying to attain perfection.

Unlike Clementine, I never felt ugly as a kid. Sure, I knew I wasn’t “pretty” in the simplest form of the word. I can vividly recall being in my fourth grade class and having a moment of recognition for whom the pretty girls were. There were two of them; they were best friends. For all intensive purposes, we shall call them Mary-Kate and Ashley.

Mary-Kate and Ashley were what you might call “traditionally pretty.” They had all the physical characteristics of “cute” kids. Not to mention their parents dressed them to display all the staples of a well-fed, well-bred, American child.

Both girls were as sweet as pie, almost to a fault. Teachers loved them, boys (ever so unaware of their sexual beings) chased after them on the playground, and parents of other children could only hope that their kids struck up a friendship with these girls.

I, on the other hand, was a chubby, coke-bottle-glasses-wearing, stringy-haired, weird kid, adorned in my brother’s hand-me-downs (which I LOVED by the way). I displayed the annoying characteristic of always having my hand up to answer questions in class, wanting to be the Hermione Granger type character of being an “insufferable know-it-all.” At daycamp, I would laugh inside at the girls who would rather paint their nails on a park bench, than go out in the woods and expand their limited consciousness of what this great big world had to offer.

My mother never held being “pretty” as any standard on how I should live. She always stressed the importance of being myself, and not caring what other people thought of me.

But I always cared. I still do care.

One of the things I most admired about my mother was her endless ability to not give a fuck about what anyone thought of her. Sometimes when we were out in public I would be so embarrassed by things she would say or do, that I would literally run away from her in the grocery store and wait outside by the car in the parking lot, so I didn’t have to suffer the embarrassment of my mother. Now, looking back, I wish that I had observed her quirkiness more closely, immersed myself in her strangeness.

I never had body image issues growing up. I always felt like caring about your body was such a trivial matter. (Body image, as not to be confused with personal health. I always got plenty of exercise.) I just simply did not have the time to worry about counting calories, or worrying about how thin my waist was (or was not), or if I had a thigh gap (that really wasn’t even a “thing” yet in my day). I had a friend in middle school who started counting calories before she even started menstruating.

In high school, I dressed for comfort. I wore jeans, hoodies, minimal (if any) makeup. I was there to learn. Plus, I had somehow scored dating one of the hottest seniors when I was a sophomore, so it’s not like I was trying desperately to find a boyfriend. I dressed up for special occasions, but mostly I didn’t care. I had a boyfriend who loved who I was on the inside and out, and I figured everyone else who spent time with me, also felt the same.

My body image issues seemed to have started sometime after my mother’s death. So some time between 2011 and present day, I have developed a pretty severe case of what some doctors call body dysmorphia. Essentially, body dysmorphia is a condition by which the beholder sees something drastically different in the mirror than how others see them. Obviously, the issue is more complex, but that’s the gist of it.

Lately, I’ve become so overtly obsessed with what I look like that I will make self-deprecating jokes to my friends, as a way to justify my self-hatred.

“My thighs are 24 inches in diameter! Some people have 24-inch waists! I’m essentially walking around with two models in my lower half.” 

The day I displayed this zinger of a joke upon myself, was greeted with raucous laughter.  In that moment where I allowed myself to vocalize my hatred of my thighs, I in some way felt better about them. See thighs! I’m in control of you! I can make jokes about how big you are despite my rigorous exercising and carb-limiting diet! 

But then, later, at home in my apartment, I can stand in front of my mirror for 30 minutes at a time, just picking and pinching thighs, biceps, the sides of my waist, examining pores, pulling at my ears (like that will all the sudden make them symmetrical), or trying desperately to make both corners of my mouth raise the same distance so I no longer have a lopsided smile.

I wonder how I got down this rabbit hole. When did I care so much about the light wrinkles in my forehead? When did I care so much about my thighs (which are genetically larger than life) that I actually went an googled “liposuction thighs before and after?” When did I care so much about my weight that instead of simply eating right and exercising, I’ve started measuring myself weekly, getting a rush of adrenaline every time I lose .25 inches off my waist?

Where did that little girl with glasses, who loved to play in the dirt in her brother’s hand-me-down shorts go? Why have I become so concerned with getting random “likes” on selfies where I’m decked out in my best makeup look, in perfect lighting, my face in the exact right angle so I look my skinniest?

I work in an industry where everyone is constantly telling me, (whether implying or explicitly) “Be skinny! Have skinny legs! Be tall! Have a symmetrical face! Erase every line, blemish, and crinkle in your skin to look like a human robot! Be sexy! Have bigger boobs! Where’s your thigh gap!?” 

“You can’t be ugly! Be pretty!” 

I legitimately had a wardrobe person for a TV show where I was working background tell me after huffing and puffing that nothing would fit right on me,“Oh, you have really big hips and a small waist. It’s going to be tough to fit you.”

So I said back to her, “You know WHAT motherfucker? Yes, I have big hips! Yes, I have a waist that is a lot smaller! You don’t think it’s been difficult dressing myself with these fucking measurements for 27 motherfucking years!? PLEASE tell me how much you hate my body type and would rather be fitting the first-teamer who is probably a size 0 and has the body type of a teenage boy where literally EVERYTHING looks good on them!!!” 

No actually, I didn’t say that. I just nodded, smiled, and continued to take a verbal beating by this woman who clearly hated my body.

Then I went home and cried.

I wish that were a joke, but it was not.

And you know what, I drank the Kool-Aid. I got into the work-out-until-you-virtually-kill-yourself workouts, the starvation-tactic diets, the heavily contoured face that it seems women have to wear not only for special occasions, but ALL THE TIME.

Don’t get me wrong. I love making myself look pretty. I love makeup. I love my rock and roll hair. I love clothing, shoes, and bags!

I don’t however, like my unhealthy and constant obsession with how I look. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-hatred.

I will continue to work out. I will continue to eat “clean.” I will continue to wear makeup.

I’m going to try, however, not to pick myself apart limb from limb.

I cannot hate myself anymore.

It’s too exhausting to hate the way I look. I can’t change it. I don’t have a magic wand that will get rid of my big legs, or make my shoulders less broad, or my face more symmetrical, or biceps slimmer. (Or the money it would entail to make that medically possible.)

I cannot shout at my “ugly doll” and ask her to be pretty. “Like if I can transform her I would magically change too.” 

I know my issues will not go away overnight. I know that becoming that girl who used to play in the mud and throw her scraggly hair into a ponytail will be difficult to find underneath all this body image bullshit.

I know.

But I hope to get there.

xoxo

Shan Babe