Stop looking for credit!


Dear Readers,

I am going to tell you something about myself today that may shock you.

I seek recognition for the tiniest, most minute task.  It’s true. If I do the dishes, if I take out the trash, if I do the laundry, if I clean the bathroom, if I put away the towels…on and on, without end. Try as I might, it’s hard to let go of wanting to be recognized. This mindset has led to more than a little friction in my relationship.

My husband and I have actually had multiple fights about the dishes. Dishes? Yes, dear reader, the dishes! They say that the devil is in the details and that is certainly true. He does them one way, I do them the other both of us steadfastly convinced of our “rightness” of THE WAY.

I believe “cleaning as you go is the way to go”. He believes that they will eventually get done and there is no need to do them “right now”. Being reasonable people, when we first married, we developed a system, he would cook, and I would clean.. that worked for a while, then I started to help him cook, and so then it got murkier as to who would do what.. (how does one do 1/2 the dishes?) Now, with a 3 month old baby in the house and two sort of cranky adults… well it’s not a pretty picture…

A few weeks ago, after too little sleep and having JUST got the baby down, I walked from the nursery to the kitchen to make myself a snack. Never mind that it is 3am and not breakfast, lunch or dinner time, I was hungry. I walked into the kitchen to find a SINK FULL OF DIRTY DISHES!! I got really mad and started to seethe. ARGHH!!!. I started to yell at him in my head – (Secret fighting in your head is the best, I recommend it!)

“WHY< WHY WHY can’t you clean the dishes, there are bottles and dishes and knives all in the sink and it’s not hard to wash them when you are done with them, why oh why do you wish to vex me so?

I angrily began to wash them, stabbing the wand in each bottle and getting angrier as the hot water filled up the sink. Getting more and more worked up, I start theorizing on my own, wild and crazy thoughts like..

“Why does he do this? He knows how much I HATE a dirty sink! It’s so easy to clean it.. why doesn’t he JUST do it. It must be to make me mad, it’s so simple why doesn’t he care enough to clean them, why? I mean it’s not like it’s hard. I have seen him clean before.. it’s simple really, you put the dish in the sink with the soap and water and VOILA, clean dishes!! I am doing it right now in fact!!  OH MY GOD!

Getting myself worked into quite a frothy milkshake of hurt and resentment, I decide that I will take a shower to to “cool” off.

I walk into the bathroom and notice, not only did he clean it, but he moved the shower nozzle to the setting I like, and he made sure my face cream is just to the left of my cleanser and my electric toothbrush is soaking in peroxide to clean it. I realize as my eyes fill with tears how much he does care, how much he does love me and never ever asks me to say thank you. It would make me sound a whole lot better here if this was a once in a while thing.. but truly, my partner is really good at doing things for people and not only not asking for credit but going out of his way NOT to be recognized. Yes, I do plenty for our marriage, AND so does he. It hit me then, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who does the dishes and who does the laundry, it matters that it gets done.. Maybe not on the same day, or let’s face it.. even the same week, but if you both work together, everything does get done. It sounds really simple when I put it like that, but trust me when I say, it’s taken my almost five years to reach that conclusion.

Speaking as someone who is married, you are going to fight. It’s a hard ugly truth that no one tells you when you couple up. So let me shatter the illusion, You will fight.

There will be big fights and little fights and the real humdinger are those fights that you say to yourself., “Why am I so upset about this”???  Does it really matter at the end of the day ? (see argument above) but keep slinging the verbal bon mots as you find yourself further and further afield of the original starting line of the argument! Some great marriage advice I read recently talks about being KIND to your partner. Do you know how EASY/HARD that is to do? You are bone-tired and overworked and all you want to do is retreat to the couch to watch mindless televison or escape into a good book or scroll through social media. Definitely do that, I am all about self-care AND dive into the investment of a loving and caring relationship. Do BOTH.

The point of my post today is – Give up looking for credit or checking your scoreboard- they did this, so I will do that.. or I will do this for them if they do this for me. Be loving and giving because it makes you a better partner, not because someone will give you a gold star.

Think about it…


Capture the moment…

Dear Readers, If you have spent any time reading my blog posts you will know I love pictures. I love looking at them, I love taking them too and have been known to stop and offer to take pictures for strangers who are in need of a drive-by photographer. With the selfie stick, that has stopped being necessary as it once was, and I still offer. I am known as a shutterbug to most, if not all of my friends. I have always worn this badge with honor.

With the birth of our daughter, I knew a shift in that philosophy was coming, because while I want to take a picture of her every five minutes, I also don’t want to miss something because I am trying so hard to capture it with the perfect pose, outfit and filter. Case in point, the other night my husband and I were taking pictures at the office Christmas party and where I normally would have said, let’s take it a certain spot and a certain time.. and let’s get pictures with all the people I run into, time was precious, since we had a babysitter at home and a curfew, so in the end, someone took one picture of us at the party and that was enough.

It should be noted, my husband HATES taking pictures and he does so only because he loves me. We had a discussion about this recently, because we had some people visiting Vivienne for the first time and I asked him to take a picture and he said, “Just enjoy the moment, why do you need a picture?” I will admit, at the time I was really vexed that he said that to me and I was getting seriously worked up and ready to fight back with all my very rational, logical reasons for why I wanted a picture but realized he had a point and I breathed in the moment as it was happening and didn’t document it. I have found several opportunities in the last 12 weeks (Vivienne is 12 weeks old today!) to really soak in the moment and not obsess over capturing it. I also think there is a STRONG temptation to only show the good and talk about the good and a lack of reality is pervasive on social media. I am doing my best to show both sides and not just a side but rather that it’s a large and twisted tapestry of things. It’s good and it’s bad. It’s hard and it’s easy and one blog post can’t do justice to the tumult of emotions coursing through me (hello hormones) on a given day. But I digress, back to the moments and the capturing of them.

Last week is a prime example, I took her and the dog and myself to the park, and while I was rolling her around I got a little tired so I sat down, she was smiling at me, as she often does and just as quickly, she giggled. It was so quick that if I hadn’t been paying rapt attention to her (perhaps reaching for my phone?) I might have missed it in the pursuit of capturing it. Just a few minutes ago,  I was rocking her to sleep (hopefully for many hours in dreamland) and she smiled in her sleep, I reached for my phone to take a picture and then I realized… if I take a picture I might wake her up and maybe it’s a better idea to let it happen and just smile back at her, silently and keep that moment unphotographed. Then there are other times when you snap pictures and you capture what I would deem a perfect moment. Such a moment and picture happened last night at the Hannukah party which has become a tradition for our family.

No, I am not Jewish. I am what is known as an honorary Jew. I was given the title lo these many years from someone who admired my work ethic and called me a Jew. I consider this to be a great honor and would never call myself Jewish as that would be incorrect. My dear friend has a gathering every year about this time and we really enjoy taking part in the ritual. This was our first party where we were the only ones with a baby and we were navigating this new reality and Jeremy was trying to calm down our daughter who was just on the edge of fussy, (yes it happens!) and I just happened to see this and in truth, was snapping pictures of the rest of the party and caught this by accident, and I am so glad I did.


I can’t speak for you, but when I look at this picture, I see all the love he has for her and all the love she has for him. She is focused and paying rapt attention to Daddy. In this instance, I got a “perfect moment” photo but more often than not, I realize they are going to happen when I am NOT holding a camera and I accept that. I think it’s more important than ever to live in the now.. and not miss what’s happening around you because you are thinking about the next thing happening. Live in the now.

What does that mean for you? Taking more pictures or taking less pictures? Maybe it means writing in a journal about the moments you are experiencing, good or bad.

Momentous or Mundane, it’s your life and it’s going by at supersonic speed, it’s your job to slow it down and take “pictures”, sometimes with just your heart.

Think about it….

The Importance of Artistry..

Dear Readers,

As an artist, I think it’s important to say two things.

  1. I had an opportunity to audition two weeks ago.
  2. I was not what they were looking for and that doesn’t make me any less of an artist.

I feel it necessary to say this because no matter how many auditions I do, I continually have to remind myself that the only control I have is how I perform. That is it.

The questions I ask myself in “audition post mortem”

  1. Did I study and prepare ?
  2. Did I give it all I had?

It is only after taking a very intense acting class (known as The Meissner Method) with        A Working Group that I have come to truly respect the audition process being an opportunity to work every time. I may not get the role long-term but in the audition, it’s my job to play it to the hilt and so in that moment, it’s my part.

I was lucky enough to have some great teachers in college, notable among them, my math professor, John Thomason. I always thought he was great but in my freshman year when I was going from my math class to my acting class, I was dolled up and in costume readying myself for my scene work and my professor noticed this and said

“Miss McKenna, I know you are not dressed up for my class..”  and I said,

“No, I have a scene today in my acting class, this is my costume.” He smiled and said,”I am very fond of theatre myself.”

He didn’t say anything else about it, but I noticed that in a lecture not long after that he talked about a Tina Turner concert and the importance of precision for the technician operating the crane so that he timed the entrance with the beat of the music. It made a real impact on me and I came to look for those little nuggets of performance related math and I definitely enjoyed that class and did much better in it due to the efforts of a teacher to talk about something I loved which made it much easier for me to pay attention and process the information, especially considering my distaste for mathematics heretofore.

I was reminded of this when I saw the Billy Joel concert last Friday night. First it was at the AT&T center in San Antonio which some of you will remember was the site of my first audition with “The Voice” in August 2011. So it was a nice reminder of my own personal artistry, but back to Mr. Joel and his show—-

It was exhilarating! First of all, I was really excited I had seats on the FLOOR. I went to another concert with seats in the high altitudes and resolved to myself I would not repeat the experience. I enjoyed all the musical numbers but I think my favourite part was watching an artist I admire working. He was clearly happy to be there (see above.. thanks Nathan Malone for the pictures) and made no apologies for the fact that there were “no new songs” and had some fun anecdotes about “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” and he confessed it was his botched attempt to write a soundtrack for a western but the lyrics are pretty contradictory and basically pure fabrication. As he introduced each member of the band, I found myself getting excited for these highly talented artists who were working. Specifically the male vocalist, Mike DelGuidice singing Nessun Dorma, it was pure magic and not something you would expect in a rock concert but there it was this elegant strand of gossamer next to the other beautiful yarn in this tapestry of music and light and sound.

It was truly unique and I found myself watching his mouth, tongue and lips as he created this beautiful sound. It was at this point that out of the corner of my eye I saw the lighting team working hard and it occurred to me how important their job is. Think about it, if they miss ONE cue, it definitely affects the experience of the participants, the performers and so on.. I don’t think I have ever paid attention to them before, and I realized, they are artists too. Every person working to bring this art to fruition is integral to the work. Realizing this as they worked that double encore and watching them rock out to the music as they worked, I was excited all over again about what it means to be an artist and have a renewed vigor for my next audition and role whenever and wherever that comes my way.

It may be awhile, and as my good friend Professor Pena says, “We earn our stripes, our legitimacy, as actors as much through “no”s as “yes”s. Wise words, indeed.

You may not think of yourself as an artist if you are not an actor, but I would encourage you to think again. So much of what we do as humans walking the planet has the opportunity for artistry, if we only take the time to make it art.

Think about it.


Sorry seems to be the hardest word… to give up


Dear Readers!

When I was in  my 20’s.. I loved the word the sorry and said it all the time. I felt apologetic most of the time, I also spent lots of time “checking in” to be sure people (friends and family) were not “mad” at me. Mad could mean, not talking very often or less connection. In my 30’s I started to realize how much we use it and don’t REALLY mean it.

Remember the words we use matter so now approaching my 40’s I find it important to REALLY mean “sorry” when I say, “I am sorry”- So here is the definition to get us all on the same page-

Merriam Webster defines sorry as:  feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence

Now, think about the last time you said sorry.. “Sorry I haven’t called, I have been busy” or “Sorry about not taking the trash out” or “Sorry, I can’t make it to your party/happy hour/event” — Ask yourself, did you really feel sorrow or regret or is it a knee jerk social construct that we are all so locked into that we don’t even know when we are saying it ?

I HATE that “sorry not sorry” thing that has grown in popularity, and I truly think that it has grown out of how much we are saying sorry when it is not really necessary.

There are plenty of times when we are duty bound to apologize. It’s not really that often, I hope, and I definitely know when I have screwed up, and it’s time to apologize.

I can’t speak for any of you of course, I can only tell you about my experience.

This post was inspired by some conversations and text messages that have been sent my way of late. A prime example of when a “sorry” is not needed  if you and I are friends and we are both busy and can’t connect at this moment, I don’t need or want, “sorry” What I want is a promise to reconnect or a hi, wish we could talk, looks like you are busy. (all true statements).  What is the point, you may ask?

Simple. Please think about how often you say sorry (examples above are not exhaustive) and then the next time you think you will say it, stop and think about it… is it really necessary for you to feel sorrow, regret or penitence?

Think about it…..


And the baby is screaming…


Dear Readers,

My husband and I are new parents and as such, we are learning what it takes to care and feed a newborn child without losing our sanity in the process, no easy task. I chose this picture to go along with this post, because it doesn’t tell the full story, it only shows you the half of it. The following is the other half, the not so perfectly posed half. Here goes….

My husband had a few days off and I am on maternity leave so we got the bright idea to take a road trip to New Orleans- my hometown. We had no idea what was in store for us as we wended our way to the Big Easy, (What a misnomer)

First of all, the trip which normally takes 9 hours, took 12.  We stopped off in Houston to drop off our dog with the pet hotel since we figured traveling with a dog AND a baby would be too much and so we dropped her off for her own vacation. There were a few stops that were unscheduled because the child needs to eat, who knew! I am joking of course, I know my child needs to eat, but I wasn’t prepared for the amount of stops that would be added to our itinerary.

So we got in to New Orleans about 9pm on Monday, and stopped by to see my Mom, and had the ambitious plan to stroll the French Market and then meet her for lunch the next day… easy right? No, not easy at all… and in fact rather impossible.

The next morning, we awoke and showered to prepare for our day.

We got a late start because thankfully she slept through the night which meant Mom and Dad also got a full 8 hours (YAY, no small feat… when this happens we always thank God (loudly and lustily).  We noticed Vivienne needed a bath so we got the bright idea to give her a bath, but though we packed seemingly everything under the sun that was hers, we did NOT pack her special baby soap, so we used my soap which is Argan Oil based. I figured it was organic so should be fine, right? Wrong. No sooner did we get her out of the tub and onto the towel, she started to get red dots on her skin… and the baby is screaming.

We immediately freak out and my husband hotfoots it to the nearest pharmacy to buy Baby Benadryl, and called our pediatrician on the way who told him to not panic and keep an eye on her, if she got swelling in her mouth or her tongue or her throat, then we should bring her to the Emergency Room, and she told him NOT to give the baby Benadryl… and the baby is screaming.

By the time he got back to the room, she had calmed down and magically had no red spots anywhere, so we can only conclude that it might have been a mild allergic reaction which upon further reflection could have been the soap, the towel, or any number of things. Remarking to ourselves that we overreacted and with the crisis averted, we breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed to the Ruby Slipper for a late brunch. It was tasty and delicious and our server delightful, we then headed to the French Quarter for some shopping. We found a little dress shop that had several things that piqued my interest, and since I’m on the hunt for a good vintage dress I started to pick through my options. I am just starting to try on a really gorgeous velvet number when the baby starts screaming for food.

My husband is a good sport and takes her outside to feed her, (thinking there would be a bench somewhere but no there is not)… he walks back into the shop… and the baby is screaming.

Jeremy: “Babydoll, where is the bottle for her? I see milk but no bottle?”

Jennifer: (rather impatiently) “It’s in the diaper bag” – Pause.

Jeremy: “Um no, it’s not”

Jennifer: “Here give me the bag, I’ll get it”… and the baby is screaming

As you may have surmised, the bottle is NOT there, so Jeremy being a problem solver heads to the Walgreens (you guessed it, up a few blocks and over) to buy a bottle so he can feed our child – and while he is doing that I decide that I am going to buy a dress hopefully making this bad moment worth it. I am all ready to head to the counter and then I realize, when he left with the baby, he took my wallet with him. UGH… So I decide that I will head to the pharmacy to get it, but when I get to the pharmacy and can’t find either of them, and start to panic. I call them on my phone… and the baby is screaming

At this point, I put two and two together and realize there is no way on God’s green earth we are going to make lunch with my Mom. I call her and being the wise and understanding soul she is, says, “Let’s do dinner instead!” so that helped immensely.

We proceed to the French Market and while many things struck my fancy, nothing called to me and said, “Jennifer, you must buy me” so I didn’t. We both talk about being tired and since it’s a 30 minute walk back to our hotel and my feet are REALLY hurting, my sweet and thoughtful husband suggests I get an Uber to go back to the hotel, get the car and come pick them back up. I seize on this suggestion and hop in the Uber, we agree to meet at Ursulines and Chartres in about 20 minutes. Sounds easy enough right? Well it would have been if I hadn’t left my cellphone in the Uber!!!!!!!!!! I realize it as I am getting in our car and reach for my phone to call them, I immediately start back to that corner, but they aren’t there. They could not have gotten far, I wasn’t gone that long, I circle the block, once, twice.. not there and I don’t have a way to communicate since I do NOT HAVE MY PHONE!.

If I had thought clearly (and as you can likely tell I wasn’t) I would have gone to our hotel (which would have solved all my problems since the driver was nice enough to see that I left my phone and brought it to the front desk) to use their phone but by this point I am frantic and terrified that I have lost them. I asked three different people on the street if I could use their cell phone (either I seemed crazy or they truly didn’t have a  phone to lend but I doubt it)  before I got the idea to go to a bar and call him from the phone.  However, his phone number is not local, so luckily a waitress at Checkpoint Charlie’s lent me her cellphone, and I called my husband’s number (luckily I have it memorized) but he did not answer. Lucky for me, he did call back immediately… and the baby was screaming.

You will be glad to know there is a happy ending to this… we were together and had beignet at Cafe Du Monde (they are delicious) but even more so when accompanied by the knowledge your husband and child are safe and sound.

So what did I learn from this experience?

  1. When you have a child, EVERYTHING takes longer than you think.
  2. Give yourself grace, things aren’t going to go as planned more often than not.
  3. Double check that you ALWAYS have a bottle.
  4. Marry a great partner who is understanding and resourceful.