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A Story from a Friend

November 12, 2013

It’s been a long time since posting, but I couldn’t resist the urge to share this inspiring story from my friend Benny Hsu. He writes another blog called Get Busy Living, and he’s been a huge encouragement for me for quite some time. I hope he is to you too…

Chinese Bamboo Tree

When you start to make positive changes in your life, it is not easy. You want results right away. When you don’t, you easily want to give up.

I like the story of the Chinese bamboo tree: You take a little seed, plant it, water it, and fertilize it for a whole year, and nothing happens.

The second year you water it and fertilize it, and nothing happens.

The third year you water it and fertilize it, and nothing happens. How discouraging this becomes!

The fifth year you continue to water and fertilize the seed and then—take note. Sometime during the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree sprouts and grows NINETY FEET IN SIX WEEKS!

Life is much akin to the growing process of the Chinese bamboo tree.

It is often discouraging. We seemingly do things right, and nothing happens. But for those who do things right and are not discouraged, things will happen.

It might take years, but if you are persistent enough, you might have “overnight success” that others will see. But in your heart, you know the results came from doing the right things over a long period of time.

The situation you are in right now is the result of the seeds that you planed 5 years ago. Are you getting the results you want? If not, begin today to sow the seeds of what you want 5 years from now.

Remember, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get the results you’ve always gotten.

Get busy living,
- Benny

I Love You

April 17, 2013

I love you

The American poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

I like to write about facing challenges and learning from them. When I don’t write, sometimes I hide instead, afraid of struggles that seem too personal, too huge, too profound for words on a page. So here I write again for those who will read, that even the life of a happy person who follows her dreams can bring both triumphs and trials too seemingly overwhelming to bear alone.

This week I’ve had wonderful conversations with beloved friends who both share my fears and need encouragement as much as I or anyone else. In light of the warmth left behind by those moments, I’d like to encourage all of us to find someone to whom we can say “I love you” each day this week. Truthfully, we all need reminders sometimes that we are loved. So to those of you still with me on this journey of many years, thank you. I love you.

Low Income, Lofty Goals

April 15, 2013

Today I wanted to share a truly valuable service my friend and colleague Chris Herbert seeks to offer to talented and underprivileged students, called Y-Apply. Here’s his pitch – check it out, and help out if you can.

For once I’m not writing to ask you to come to a concert I’m giving. Instead, I’m asking you to help me out with an Indiegogo campaign I’m part of. I’m on the board of a new non-profit organization called Y-Apply. Y-Apply educates high achieving public school students from diverse backgrounds and and their families about financial aid options and the application process to top-tier colleges and universities.

I went to Yale… and then went to Harvard. I loved my experience at both these elite institutions and I feel very fortunate to have benefited from the world-class education and life-long connections they afforded me. However, something was, and still is, lacking at these elite schools: diversity. Just last year, Yale announced that it is trailing in its own diversity goals. The New York Times echoed this two weeks ago with an article about the failure of top-tier colleges and universities to recruit low-income students. As a Yale alum, I want to see my alma mater become more ethnically and economically diverse. Only in this way can Yale and other leading colleges and universities continue to serve as beacons, attracting the brightest students and faculty around the world.

Y-Apply seeks to tackle this problem. Its workshops for high school juniors and their families provide the tools to help in the application and financial aid process. Y-Apply has a solid 5-year record of success, with scores of program participants from low-income and diverse backgrounds in 5 American cities gaining admission and financial aid to many of America’s top-tier colleges and universities.

In the past month, Y-Apply earned its official non-profit status from the IRS. This means it can accept tax-deductible contributions. To that end, the Board of Directors has set up an Indiegogo campaign to generate seed funding for Y-Apply’s upcoming workshops. Please consider making a donation no matter how small to support us in our efforts to help low-income and diverse students achieve their college dreams. Just click on the indiegogo image below to make your contribution.

Y-Apply Fundraising Campaign

Y-Apply Fundraising Campaign

Time Machine

February 15, 2013

Lately, I’ve taken a bit of a break from writing at Skydiving for Pearls, to focus on my crossover efforts from opera to musical theatre and film and television. I’ve also started gearing up for a very big project to come, called The Peace of Persistence, which I intend to unveil fully in September. In the meantime, I’m singing and acting up a storm, excitedly awaiting the start of rehearsals for the New York Philharmonic’s Carousel while filling in for an injured friend in the opening weekend of the return of Don Cristóbal, now through Sunday.

Speaking of returns, Kara Morgan is back! She’s moved to Los Angeles to more fully pursue her dreams in acting and singing, while I miss her shining face, I wish her all the best. PS, Kara, feel free to hire me when you make it big out there. I couldn’t resist sharing her newest episode, Time Machine. Enjoy!

Alright Here

November 12, 2012

Despite the news of Hurricane Sandy and the NYC Marathon cancelation, I’ve kept a relatively low profile as I recover from a couple of unexpected blows. First, the marathon, and its cancelation that oddly leveled a sizable blow to my ego even to the point of feeling like heartbreak. Second, my knee, the same one I had worked so hard to heal after my training fall on the Queensboro Bridge, which I then re-injured by falling while dismounting my bicycle on the way to my church job last Sunday – ironically, the day I had planned to run in the marathon. In one week, I went from running eleven-minute-miles to walking eleven-minute-blocks along with the elderly with their walkers on Tuesday. I did vote.

As I sat at home for the rest of the week, nursing my physical and emotional wounds, I searched for answers and lessons to be learned; meanwhile, the universe threw funny moments and great visitors in my direction to remind me that I wasn’t and am never alone. Several friends came to visit, along with a photographer I had met while singing in the subway. She needed a place to stay when her plane was canceled due to the Nor’easter last week and gave me an opportunity to help someone displaced from the storm, from the comfort of my home. The strangest surprise came when a census bureau representative who had tried unsuccessfully to ask me questions for a financial survey when I was sick months ago returned at this uncanny time, with organic orange juice and flowers.

My loved ones and well-wishers have helped to soothe my soul and teach me some valuable lessons about striving, resting, and communing with life and the living. Here are five things I learned this week:

  1. The elderly aren’t just wise because they’ve accumulated a lot of experience. Having to move at such a slow pace makes you choose between living in the moment and going insane.
  2. When it takes you 2 minutes to walk past someone, you’re more likely to be friendly. Otherwise, every person you pass is an instant awkward moment.
  3. Although I value peak experiences, I placed too much stock in one day’s easily canceled event. I talked a bit too little about anything else but the marathon, and in it I laid my worth as a woman who could do anything. I can still do anything, and I will likely run another marathon, but each day has no more potential than the next to change my life or the world.
  4. Heartbreak is sometimes a gift to make you a stronger person.
  5. Regardless of fame, success, dreams, and all our striving, our best lives still end with those we love at home

Thank you to everyone who cheered me on, and especially to those who donated to Team for Kids on my behalf. It’s an amazing charity, and I’m so grateful to have still helped so many children with your gifts. Finally, a song from my dear and talented friend Trina Bass Coleman, called Alright Here. It reminds me of the most important lesson of all: regardless of fame, dreams, and all our striving, our best lives still end with those we love at home.

Marathon Canceled

November 2, 2012

Breaking news, the marathon has been canceled. Thanks all for your amazing support and for the debates, which have helped NYRR make this difficult decision and also raised a lot of support and funds to make this a race to recover. Millions have been donated by private donors, ING and the New York Road Runners. I’m looking forward to now having a free weekend to figure out how to volunteer my time. If I can help you this weekend, please let me know. 

From a Marathoner with Love

November 2, 2012

Closed Central Park

Dear Friends, Fans, and Family,

To those of you who’ve supported me by donating funds to Team for Kids, running with me, or cheering me along my training, thank you. I couldn’t have come this far without you.

As you know, this part of the world has been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, and I have no words to express my sadness and heartbreak for the victims of this storm. That it has begun to polarize our community about such a life-affirming event as a marathon further breaks my heart. So many of us have spent months training for a challenge designed to makes us stronger and raised donations for very worthy causes, and I believe in this marathon and that it should continue on Sunday. I believe we each should run with our heads held high, celebrating 26.2 miles of this amazing city and the inhabitants who now fight daily to keep it running in every way.

Although I think it practical and important to keep the marathon’s spirit, income and revenue rolling despite this difficult time, my heart does truly goes out to my friends especially in Staten Island, Long Island, lower Manhattan, and NJ, as well as those affected in other localities. Throughout the days leading up to the race and on Sunday, volunteers are encouraging runners to donate to help victims of the disaster. As participants, may we use this moment as a call to volunteer our time or donate as we can and not turn away from those who need our help. As spectators, please meet us with a cheer rather than a protest for our months of hard work.

Let’s not turn our backs on each other in this time of need. If you need disaster relief or volunteers elsewhere, please post where we can help in the comments. If you have a donation to give, please begin with the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief here: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy. If you’d rather give to another similar organization, this Huffington Post article provides some good tips for giving well to the disaster relief efforts.

If you’re interested in giving also to Team for Kids, please send your donations in the way of my friend Kristen Kasarjian’s page. She’s running for the same charity I am and still needs to reach her goal. We all have goals, after all… Some of us want to finish a race, some want to replenish our incomes so we can pay our bills, some of us want heat, water and electricity, some of us need a new home. It’s the energy and beautiful stubbornness behind people like marathoners that make this city great. Please don’t hide behind the glow of your television, computer, and smartphone while criticizing people bringing revenues and hope to a city we love. If you want to help, unplug along with those who have no choice and look for an opportunity. I promise you, there are plenty… and if I can help, please tell me how.

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