Step Back Safely

>> Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I've let myself take the next 30 minutes before class to sit and reflect on the past week or so. Someone gave me a fantastic piece of advice to set aside short amounts of time during your day, every day, like 10 or 15 or 30 minutes to feel or do something that you want or need to do. So, that's what this is essentially. There are valuable things I've seen and learned since I last posted. 

The first being that even being busy doesn't necessarily equal stress. Often times we associate stress or worry when we have a lot of things to do or a long day ahead of us or a lot on our mind. Yes, these all could potentially contain situations that may be unpleasant, but instead of looking at this inevitably busy and crammed future with the mindset of, "holy shit, how am I going to get all this done?" it feels so much better to open your eyes to each moment. Let yourself live and breathe each thing that happens. Focus on the task at hand, not the next 5 that will happen later. In order to achieve that sense of "now" it's essential to understand that each and every moment that we live through can be an opportunity for us to learn and grow. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming stressor, but rather something that we are in the process of learning from. For instance, I spent every night last week in a crammed space at the back of theatre with a lighting board that seemed about 100 years old. Not the most pleasant activity, but I made a conscious effort to step back and realize that first and foremost, I am so lucky to be given the responsibility of designing a show. Beyond that, I am learning how to use the board, focus on what I need to do, design lights, and work with other people in general. (notice the theme of gratitude creeping in) I could continue to list the things that made me feel better but essentially, all I was focused on was the show and the board and the lights. NOT the fact that had homework that needed to get done, a fish to feed, or how little sleep I might get that night. I found myself getting things done quicker, more efficiently and with less stress. So I'll keep exploring this idea of focusing on one step at a time and see where it takes me.

The second major breakthrough this week also came from a very good friend. This person revealed to me something extremely personal and put great trust in me. It was something that had told one other person in their life because they didn't want to face it or talk about it. So, naturally I explained that the feelings they were having we're normal and understandable (that's the camp counselor in me coming out) and I didn't question the subject any further. To my surprise, this person continued to reveal more and more and more or less work through some things. Now, I am the kind of person who loves to cry and wear my heart on my sleeve but I understand that some people really hate doing that. This person had a wall up for so long that the freedom to let t down was not only scary but slightly relieving. The situation was something I had NEVER experienced and I could not sympathize with them, and they didn't want pity anyways. So I simply reassured them that they were safe and I was here to listen and reflect with them. My point of all this is that safety is something so essential to us as human beings. We need to feel safe in order to live. I encourage you to not only find somewhere that you feel truly safe, but also to provide someone you love with that safety. I am a people pleaser at heart and so doing that for someone is really rewarding for me. I can only hope it brings as much comfort and connection to you as it did for me and this friend of mine.

The last little thing I want to mention is that a few days ago I subscribed to a daily email from a restaurant in California called cafe gratitude. Every day they send out two questions that are for personal reflection. Ive found it to be grounding and helpful in seeing the big picture of things. One question is normally something that is negative, like something you're scared of, or something you wish you had. The other is positive, something you love to do, something that motivates or inspires you. Ill post a link in my next blog but i just wanted to share this helpful tool with you! Thank you for reading and I hope you're feeling good today.

All that with a splash of gratitude,


Come On Get Happy

>> Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today is Saturday, October 15th, and I'm currently en route to Honey Pot Hill orchard, about 30 minutes outside the city, to go apple picking with SGA. We were originally scheduled to go last weekend but our bus never showed up. Don't you worry, I proved that was kin of my mother and father by letting them know exactly how I felt. Needless to say, we ended up getting a discount on our bus for this weekend, which I still think should have been free, but what do I know? I will say, this weekend feels more like fall than the last. It was about 80 last Saturday and today it's like 65 and sunny. Boston has been pretty indecisive about it's weather choices, but this weeks finally showing signs of consistency. Fall in Boston is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It's sunny and cool and colorful and comforting and there is a sense of love in the air, which is nice to have before the harsh winter that is New England. The past few weeks in general have been action packed and eye opening. I had the opportunity to perform in a senior directed scene and I got the chance to see my parents for the first time since I moved in! The reunion was bittersweet knowing that they only had 48 hours to spend here. We made the most of it, shopping, eating and catching up or cleaning up. Besides the external things have been going on, I've had no lack of internal things happening too. With the classes this year digging deeper into our souls and ripping our insides out, there is an incredible opportunity for self discovery. I've come to realize that I am more self aware than I've ever been. It seems like these late teen years and early 20s, are really where you start becoming the person you're going to be. You start seeing things in yourself you never have before and you continually find surprises in your behavior, your language, your mind, and your heart. However confusing all this is, I still feel confident in the fact that I know I'm confused about some things. I'm learning that life is truly what you make it. Like I've said before, there are things in life we can control, and things we can't. The things that we can't, we have to accept and express endless gratitude for, even if it means twisting in some way to become or learn something positive or constructive. The things we can control are just that. We can make the choice to really live , learn new things, take time for ourselves, get out and meet people. We can choose to smile or frown or cry, to be sad or to be happy. I truly believe happiness is an attitude not an emotion. Thus, we can ultimately choose to be happy. There is a time for sadness and grief and I'm in no way saying that we are not allowed to feel these things when we need to. Really NEED to. But, once that is passed we have to chose to get happy. So, until next time and in the long term, I am making a vow here and will hold true to this; I am going to be happy. I am going to smile when needed, ask someone how their day, express gratitude for the things that I am really lucky to have, like waking up every single day living and breathing. So you know what, BE HAPPY!

All that with a splash of gratitude,


Turning A New Leaf

>> Monday, September 5, 2011

Today marks the last day of summer freedom before the first day of school. I can't believe it's been a year since I started classes here at the conservatory. It's actually sort of surreal. Today I had the chance to sail once again on a Boston Harbor Cruise along with 100 other BoCo students. Last year, most of the guests were from my class and we had the time of our lives. We took over 600 pictures and it was an amazing way to end orientation weeks before starting school the next day. This time around, it was mostly 2015 kids that were on the boat and it was really nice to be able to bond with them and start to develop relationships with what's truly 1/4 of the program I'm in. I've even become pretty good friends with a few of them in the past week. It's nice to have some fresh faces around here. I'm excited to see what the rest of the year holds.

On another note, for those of you who don't know, I lost my uncle last monday after he had a 4 year battle with cancer. Jon was one of the strongest men I knew. He fought so hard and never gave up. Although I didn't have the chance to go to Arizona for his memorial, I recorded 2 songs that were both played at the ceremony. One was a John Lennon song, Imagine, because my uncle was a HUGE Beatles fan, and the second was Home by MIchael Buble. When I decided I wanted to play guitar 7 or 8 years ago, he was one of the first people I told, and in fact, he bought me my first guitar. A few years later, I finally felt confident enough to play for him and I played him that song. He was quite moved by it, and to be honest I was too (because he was.) It felt only right playing it for him again. My family has been so strong this past week and the support they have received from family and friends means more than any words could describe. Personally, I've had a few rough nights but I know that Jon would want me to be strong and carry on with what I love to do. Last year, I went and visited Jon for a few days over my winter break. It was a life changing experience. We talked about the future and the past, and I told him that I wanted to a part of him with me always. I proposed that my stage name be Matthew Jon, or Matt Jonathan, but he insisted that I use his middle name. So, Matthew Ross was born and that's what it's going to be. To say that I miss him would be an understatement, but I know that he is in a better place and out of pain which is comforting. He is, and always will be, a huge part of who I am. There are not too many people that I look up to like that and I know that he'll be watching over me for the rest of my life. Miss you Junky.

Other than that, the past week has been CRAZY busy. With SGA stuff coming up fast, preparations are underway and in a matter of 3 days, 2 major events have already happened. The block party and this cruise. I'm really excited and feel quite lucky to be a part of student government here at school and I take my job seriously. I'm looking forward to the experiences that it will bring. 

Even though I've seen 3 natural disasters in the past 3 weeks, an earthquake, a hurricane and a fire, I am hoping that the school year will have a different fate. Sophomore year is one of the hardest and it takes strength and patience and perseverance to get through it all. I'm ready, at least I think I am!

All that with a splash of gratitude,



More Than A Splash

>> Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wow. It's been forever since I posted. I sincerely apologize for that, but now that I'm back in Boston and back to the craziness that is BoCo, I back on Blogger too! There's way to much I could say and tell you about the summer so I'll keep it short and simple. My 10th summer at camp was nothing short of incredible. I learned so much about myself, my friends, kids and just life. I met amazing people and did my best to make an impact on every camper I got the chance to spend time with. The summer flew by way too fast and I was sort of shell shocked when I arrived here in Boston on Friday. 

I was excited and nervous and anxious, and mostly because I was moving into my own apartment for the first time. I wish I had taken some before and after shots because the work that my brother, mom and dad did is stunning. The studio is warm and feels like home. They really transformed the place and that's why I titled this post, More Than A Splash. The gratitude I have for my family is endless. There are really no words that could express how thankful I am to have them in my life. They've been nothing but supportive and helpful throughout my whole life, and lately I've realized how truly lucky I am.

Beyond that, I want to express my gratitude for the camp people (which I already sort of wrote about.) Camp has become a home for me. There is a certain vibe and energy that surrounds that place and it is irreplaceable. I tried as hard as I could to bring bits of camp into my apartment so that I feel at home always. I brought my 10 year plaque, I bought a candle that smelled like camp, and I'm purchasing a HUGE mural that's going to go on my wall either of a Lake Towanda sunset or just a lake sunset that reminds me of camp. With social media and cell phones, it's become so much easier to communicate in the off season with friends. I was talking with my mom about it the other day, but I really feel like that made a difference for me this summer. Of course when you go back it's like we never left, but being able to talk to people from camp, more than ever before, this past year made it so much easier to just REALLY start where we left off. I want to mention a few names (probably a lot of names) of people that had a HUGE impact on my summer. I decided I'm not going to list campers, but I will say that this summer I became closer with kids than I ever have and it was the thick icing and sprinkles and cherry on top of a giant cake that was this summer. So here goes (in NO particular order); Josh, Max, Brian, Ryan, Colby, David, Joey, Jeremy, Jovan, Jacob, Kaplan, Melrose, Breen, Breen, Mike, Rick, Leslie, Emily, Aaron, Scott W., SJ, Jordy, Matt, Scott M., Dusty...and I'm probably missing a bunch of people. Nonetheless, I just wanted to say thank you for everything. You really have taught me more than you know and I look up to each and every one of you. 

With that, I'll bid you farewell as I embark on what should be the second part of the journey of a lifetime. BoCo is crazy and fun and stressful and educational and million other things. But now, it's home and I'm ready to get started again. I hope that everyone has a great start to the new year (which really isn't the "new year" but you get the idea) and I'll be sure to post once a week from now on. 

All that with (More Than) a splash of gratitude,


P.S. The pictures are from various points throughout the summer 


Summer Night #2: Trees and Stuff

>> Saturday, July 23, 2011

So it's been over a month since I last posted, and I feel like time has gone by faster than ever before. These past four weeks have changed my perspective on time in general. The truth is, four weeks moves faster than you think, especially when almost every day is action packed. Thus, I don't know how I could possibly fit everything in one post. What I can promise is that I will post more often this session, seeing that I'm not as busy. Outside of camp life, I had the chance to visit some friends at their lake house and spend the day and night there. The last time I visited was 2 summers ago and this day was even better than that one. Hanging out with family friends is possibly one of the nicest days off anyone could have. It gave me that chance to recoup and energize after a crazy first week. Fourth of July came and went faster than you could say FIREWORK, which in fact the kids did sing at the spot we watch the Minoqua fireworks. That night also marked a large event in my life, the first time I ever drove a camp van.
 I had waited 10 years to get behind the wheel of one of those white mammoths of a vehicle and finally I had the chance, on one of the craziest traffic nights in town. Needless to say, it went well and I've driven the vans a few times since then. In camp, things got crazy! I am happy to announce that my activity, ComedySportz has really been up and booming. After two overflowing periods of kids, it can be hard to find games for these kids to play. On a "deeper" note, I think it's hard to keep things fresh in general, especially when things can get sort of monotonous. Speaking of things being repetitive, last year I was lucky enough to be an advisor for a U.N. day team. On U.N. day, the camp is divided into four different countries, each with it's own advisor. I was the country of Wales, and after a close call, we won! So, this summer I had the chance to go for the repeat, which hadn't happened for decades here at camp. We changed that. Wales in fact repeated, by only 2 points, but that just means we'll have to come back and try for the threepeat next year. Visitors weekend came and went and I had a lovely time with my parents. This is their eighth time making the trip up to the Northwoods, and they seem to love it every time. It really is something special when my brother and I are able to share what we love about camp with them for a weekend. But before long, they left and the a whole new group of kids was arriving. Since then, second session has been off and running faster than first and the end of summer is approaching. Soon enough I'll be back in Boston getting ready for auditions and decorating my apartment. 
For the deeper part of my blog this week, I had a hard time thinking of what to write about. Last night, at campfire, one of the CITs talked about pushing your limits and boundaries, and it got me thinking. What have I done this summer that has helped me grow and learn something new. Off the top of my head I couldn't think of anything but when I really sat down and looked at this summer I realized that I had done more than initially thought. What a concept, doing something you don't want to do, or something you don't think you can do, to intentionally learn something or grow in some way. Is that possible? I'm not sure. I think that as people we only grow and mature from situations and incidents when we look back on them and make a realization. Often times, we don't even make that realization and we still grow. I guess it's sort of connected to the idea that everything happens for a reason. Everything we do in life, we learn from. Thus, everything, every person, every problem, every good time, every bad time, every moment is in our lives to teach us a lesson, whether we know it or not. That's why I truly try not to live with regrets. Regret, for me, means I learned nothing from a situation, and that's pretty much pointless. So as my summer continues up here in the Northwoods amongst the trees, I will be like a tree and grow as much as I can. I encourage you to do the same. 
I apologize if this hasn't been my most extensive post or the most intellectual but I've been around 15 year olds for like 7 weeks now so you can't blame me. Either way, I hope you're having an incredible summer and I'll do my best to post again next week, hopefully with something a little bit better. 

All that with a splash of gratitude,


Summer Nights #1: 10 Years Later

>> Friday, June 17, 2011

I've decided I will no longer state that it's been a long time since I last posted. This is due to the fact that it now typically takes me 2 to 3 weeks to post again, so it's sort of a norm at this point. I've been up at camp now for approximately 13 days and they've already been some of the best of the year. Between the nights off, the campfire, the reunions, the new faces, the late nights, and the failed work-out's been pretty darn fun so far. Tonight I'm sitting in the lodge with my laptop, browsing facebook, and tuning out the unimportant arguments about sports teams that I know nothing about. It's funny, but 10 years ago I would have never expected to be where am at this moment. 10 years ago today I was probably sitting in my bed crying because I was overflowing with a multitude of emotions; excitement, nervous, pumped, scared, maybe a little homesick already too. It turned out to be the summer of my life and I can distinctly remember thinking, "I want to be a ten-year one day." I never thought it could actually happen, I never thought this day would come, but the years flew by and now I'm a senior counselor, driving boats and vans, directing my own activity, and trying to be for these kids what so many counselors were for me; the best role-model and friend a kid could ask for. As a 10 year old boy I looked up to every one who was literally looking down at me. The tall kids were always cooler and an example of how I should act. I wasn't thinking that exactly, but it's important to note that kids truly watch their "superiors" actions and model their own behavior from that. There are cheers and songs and camp things that I know and do because I watched the older kids do them. With that in the back of my head, I try hard to be aware of what I'm doing and saying because the truth is, someone is always watching.
As a fluid transition should be, I will now relate my last night to my next remarks. I struggled in high school, more as a junior and senior with the fact that I felt as if I was always under a microscope. I've learned that high school can do that to you. High school is some of the deepest trenches that you'll fight in. The kids can be semi-evil and judgmental...and actually plain mental too. It's not exactly peer pressure, but it's a type of force that you feel when you walk down the halls and eat lunch in the cafeteria. I guess I exposed myself to this sort of feelings because I was putting myself in front of the school, more often than not. I was constantly in shows and assemblies, but it felt like I was always performing. I had to put on a front, a sort of mask, when I was in school to come off like I was always happy and feeling pleasant. For those who were my close friends in high school, they knew that wasn't true. That mask was wearing me down and eventually led to a minor breakdown in the parking lot at 10PM after a dress rehearsal. I'll be the first to admit that I am a dramatic kid, but this was something else. I was alone in my car crying because for the first time, I felt like I had a moment of reality. I didn't have to pretend or fake or smile or even sit in silence, I just cried. From that point on, I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to let this wear me down anymore. This was the beginning of a long learning process that I'm still in. It was the first time the idea came to me that I didn't have to associate myself with the people who didn't like me. That was the most basic form of it. It's slowly evolved into something slightly deeper, but the concept is the same. So, here it is:
The truth is, and I really believe this, people do not change. They grow, the mature, they learn, and they act based on those things and more, but deep down, they don't change( This does not mean people can't change the way they behave or act.) Over the past three years, I've had some of my highest highs and my lowest lows. There are people who have been through it all with me and have stayed by my side and made sure that I kept my head on straight always. Those people are my friends. There are people who have picked me up and dusted me off and gave me the push I needed to move on from whatever I was stuck in. Those people are my friends. There are people who have given me tough love and kept me thinking about the big picture in times when I was focused on the little stuff. Those people are my friends. Then, there are people who make me feel inferior and victimized, always wrong and never right, small, unimportant, stupid, embarrassing, pointless, dumb, unattractive, rude, mean, evil, boring, bad, one dimensional and what I think, say, or do doesn't matter. Those people are NOT my friends. It's not worth it when there are so many people who make me feel good and happy with who I am and what I do or say. That's not to say people are perfect, but the majority of the time it shouldn't be a "make fun of Matt-fest." I've definitely digressed slightly, but I think that I got my point across. 
Needless to say, the people here, for the most part, are my friends. I am one gosh darn lucky dude to be at a place like this, and to say that I've been here for 10 years. So, the campers arrive in 2 days and then the summer really begins. I'm ready, at least I think am. But, who knows what the summer holds for me, no matter what though, I'm excited for all it. 

All that with a splash of gratitude.
<3 Matt


I'm Not Waiting (to post anymore)

>> Thursday, May 19, 2011

Once again I'll start by saying, it's been a while. This time it was a long while. Unfortunately I don't have many subscribers and the people who do read this are either busy with finals or probably have forgotten this blog exists, yet I still feel the urge to write again. I feel like giving you a summary of what's been going on in my life the past month or so is somewhat pointless because there's really too much to cover. What I can say is that I have grown, learned, and listened so much more than ever, in the past 30 days or so.
The human is an interesting thing. I've heard someone say once, "humans are like animals that take things personally." I remember saying something along the lines of, "amen." I guess it's true. Like animals we learn from experience. We don't wake up knowing how to sit or shut up or poop in the proper place or listen or learn (you get the idea.) We learn from the things around us and suddenly they are in us without any effort, sometimes. Often, you don't know why you do a certain thing or feel a certain way, it's just what you do! We have adapted and molded ourselves based on things outside ourselves. The number of people I've encountered personally with in the last 4 weeks is more than you could fit on the largest cruise ship in the world, and it's because I opened myself up. I took a leap of faith and decided to let people into my life and hopefully let me into theirs. The results were staggering. First off I figured out that some things are better unsaid, and some things aren't. Most of the time, people would rather tell you their issues than hear yours, but there are those out there who actually want to listen. I think I am one of those people on occasion, but I am defiantly guilty of hogging what I call "The Pity Light" which is a cross between the spot light and a pity party. So, I am working on that every day, hopefully I'm making some improvement. The other major thing I came to see is that often times we can learn more from those we hate than those we love. I realize I use the word hate sort-of loosely, but someone said to me recently, "find what you don't like about the people you don't like and then take a look in the mirror, I bet you'll learn something." 
Love is probably the most powerful beast out there. After one of my exams, my teacher said to me, "keep doing what you love, and spread and carry the love around with you every day, we all need it." It hit me that I was doing what I love. I was at school for something that I truly loved to do. I had thought about it, maybe ever and I suddenly awoke to the fact that I had spent all year doing something and dedicating myself to something that I love. That's one type; love for something we do. I recently was asked by someone, "Do you love me? Like really love me?" I wasn't sure how to respond. I guess I had once again thrown the word around loosely and hadn't thought about what it really meant. I ended up seeing that I loved this person, but I wasn't in love. I think there is fine line between the two; to love someone means to really care about them on a level deeper than friendship, to be in love with someone...I haven't figured it out yet. I'll get there, and I can't wait to see whose there with me. Which sort of ties into this next one.
A word that many theatre majors have become familiar with. But I'm talking about the other kind, the kind that eats away at your insides and makes you wish for things that we don't have. I looked back on my year and saw in some ways, someone who was taking control of the things that he wanted to do and got stuff done when he needed to get it done, and in some ways I saw someone who was waiting for #1: things to happen to him, #2: things to come to him, #3: things that were gonna take him away. What was I waiting for? I don't regret anything, I try not to, so I don't regret the things I have and haven't done this year, but now I see why I got frustrated sometimes. I was waiting for things that either weren't coming or weren't going to come unless I started the ball rolling or furthermore took matters into my own hands. I think this is something that a lot of us do without realizing it. I sang a song called "I'm not waiting" in my spring voice recital, and that's what got this whole idea in my head.

I have a lot more things to talk about like movies, and home and such so I could go on forever and I'm sure I'll be posting some more stuff soon but I thought I'd share this idea with you. My Dad began sending me ideas and quotes that someone sent to him or he came across online or read in a book or whatever, and I told to keep doing it! They are all really good, but some have stuck with me and this is one. It's an idea that I have been embracing and trying to think about more lately. It's simple but important:

Begin to see yourself as a soul with a body rather than a body with a soul.
How someone treats you is their Karma, how you respond is yours.

all this with a splash of gratitude,

I'd also like to add a special note here for one of the most amazing people I've ever met: Gavin. 
You are so strong and so loved and never forget that. Though these past weeks have been hard for you, just know that there are so many people out there who are beyond grateful for having you in their life. Me being one. All my love to you and your family <3


  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP