May 11 2017
“Under Renovation”
By: Andy McDermott

Renovations are awesome; take a picture of something crummy, fix it and take another picture for all to enjoy. What’s not awesome? ¬†All the behind-the-scene problems: asbestos, lead paint, leaky plumbing, termite damage…no one wants the details about that stuff. Just show us the fancy.

My life is being renovated. I’ve taken a break from pictures and sharing, not because people don’t care about the messy, but because I needed to refocus on the calm and simple: shoulders down, deep breaths, and smiling often. Peacefulness.

We took one last trip to Los Angeles a few weeks ago to haul Andy’s motorcycle out of storage. This was the last of our belongings to be moved, so we decided to make a fun weekend out of it. We booked a room at one of our favorite places, The Queen Mary. This iconic ship was once the fanciest mode of transportation on the planet. Presidents, celebrities, and the wealthy paid thousands of dollars to travel in luxury between New York City and England.

These days, the ship is under complete renovation. We couldn’t view huge sections because they were covered with tarp and caution tape. We stayed in the fanciest room, but the TV didn’t work (oh well) and our pizza delivery guy couldn’t find us (it’s a big ship). I took a fancy picture, but what you don’t see is the trip to urgent care for a child a few days later as a result of an allergic reaction to bed bugs. Ugh! We also got a flat tire in the middle of the desert between California and Arizona, but that’s another story…

Life renovations are not complete until we take our last breath, but the quick snapshots of joy along the way are beautiful. There is a lot of messiness behind-the-scenes, but fostering relationships, renewing your mind and finding peace in the chaos are worth the effort. Maybe some caution tape and tarp are required, but the reveal is amazing!

Jan 18 2017
Lists, Laundromats, and La La Land
By: Andy McDermott

Lists. I like them and I loathe them. If I write a list, I either want too many things for my scattered mind to simply remember, or I’m writing goals that are difficult to reach. Then my Type A personality kicks in and I don’t know what to do with the uncompleted list…and let’s not even mention what happens if a list is misplaced. Ah!

I recently found a list of goals I wrote last year; our situation is much different than the goals I had optimistically set. Instead of “paying off debt” and “saving for a house”, this last few months have been our “laundromat phase”…it’s no secret that choosing an acting career is an unpredictable form of self-employment. Generous friends opened up their guest house to us and we are forever grateful. And humbled.

I have a memory from my childhood when our washing machine was broken for what felt like months, but was probably only a couple weeks. I helped my mom lug huge loads of laundry (a family of 9 generates a lot of dirty clothes) to the laundromat. I had never seen so many quarters.

It was a long process and you can’t go far because you want to switch the load to the dryers as soon as you are able…and then you wait some more. I didn’t enjoy the chore, but I helped because it wasn’t my mom’s fault the washing machine broke and it was my dirty stuff too. Teamwork.

Right now I frequent the laundromat every week. I drive out of the way to use the one by the library (our happy place) and the crowd inside is always interesting; quiet, somewhat friendly, with a hint of “I don’t really want to be here.” Everyone has a story. I make eye contact and smile a “we are in this together” smile. My kids help. Teamwork.

Our La La Land story is much different than the amazing movie with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I soaked up every minute of that film, especially since it was the first date night Andy and I had had in about 6 months (another “phase of life” confession). At one point, I realized my heart was racing and anxiety was building; the auditioning and rejection scenes were hitting close to home.

Our La La Land story entails a lot more trauma (less parties HA!) and the ending is still “to be determined.” Los Angeles is an incredibly unrelenting city, but the people who we have chosen to do life with here are unbelievably kind, encouraging, and fun.

At this moment, part of me wants to escape to the “country” and live a quiet life, but the list-making, laundry-toting part of me wants to press on and see the alternate ending. I’m not sure if it will lead to financial “security” and stability (since those things are never guaranteed anyway), but I know our little family’s love story is a good one either way…Teamwork.

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