My birthday yesterday ROCKED! I had so much fun! Thank you to everyone who came out and cut a rug with me in class! Here’s a little teaser of the fun we had. Smooches!
I always know when I need to write about something when it’s been a week and I’m still thinking about it. In this case I have facebook to thank. I’ve been seeing this little post circulating and it’s really gotten under my skin. Usually I’m great at just giving an eye roll and moving on, but for some reason, this one really bothered me. I’m sure you’ve seen it; “It’s Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays! share if you agree!”
Let me preface all this by saying I was raised in Texas as a cute white Catholic girl. Outside of the occasional man who made sexist comments or wouldn’t shake my hand, (yes, they’re still out there) I’ve never experienced any kind of prejudice. I’d like to tell you that I’ve never been a prejudiced person myself, but I’m starting to have my doubts. My life has changed a lot since my Texas days. I met my husband, converted to Judaism and am raising two Jewish little boys. And WOW is it eye opening. It’s like being given glasses after not being able to see. When I was growing up I was aware of all the obvious prejudices, and there were many. But there are so many little ones that happen everyday that “we” (good Christians) don’t even see or recognize that we’re doing. We make these huge assumptions because we’ve been brought up in areas where we have been the majority. Or even if we weren’t the majority, we were the dominant people. We assume that everyone should enjoy our holiday, our song, our prayer. And why not? It’s a really great holiday! The songs are so sweet and catchy. And whats wrong with a little prayer? Even if you don’t believe in the same God, just put your head down, close your eyes and pretend. We’re praying for good things aren’t we?
I don’t think I ever consciously thought those things, but the idea was swimming around in there. I’m pretty sure “we” all think Hannukah and Kwanzaa were made up to fill the Christmas void. (News flash, ALL Holidays are made up!) Even now I catch myself singing Christmas songs with “Christ our Saviour is born” and wonder why my husband won’t just sing along, damn it! But would I really want to sing a song about Buddah? or Allah? I don’t care how catchy the tune is, why would I sing a song praising someone or something I don’t believe in? And there it is. There it is in big bold letters. I put those glasses on and I can see everything from a non-Christian view, my kids view. I look around and see how one sided everything is at this time of year. All the songs..the decorations… all of it. It’s been so commercialized that I don’t think my kids even catch half the religious intentions so for the most part it’s ok. I’m all for learning about other religions but again, the one-sidedness is amazing. I go into my sons’ classroom and teach about Hannukah every year. I talk about minorahs and candles, spinning driedles and latkes. Yes, we Jews have a holiday as well. And it’s a really lovely one too. I’ll tell you all about it if you like.
I’m not asking to change anything about Christmas. I love Christmas! Just be aware of who else is around you. There is a Christmas season for the Christians, a Hannukah Season for the Jews, a Kwanzaa season for the African Americans, and the Buddists…..well I don’t know what they do, but I’ll support them whatever it is! My point is, unless I’m assuming ALL of my friends are Christian, why would I say Merry Christmas? I hope my list of friends is diverse enough to include ALL kinds of people. So no, it’s not Merry Christmas, it’s Happy Holidays. Share if you agree.
(You don’t really have to share. I was just using the same phrase that was used in the beginning. See? I’m clever like that )
This week I celebrated my Eleventh wedding anniversary! (yay!) But if truth be told, I don’t put much stock in marriage. Sounds terrible, right? But let me explain: My parents divorced when I was 12. My Grandparents divorced…both my Aunts divorced….my sister divorced. (3 times!) So the idea of marriage….the stereotypical idea of marriage, just isn’t for me. When my husband proposed I happily said, “Yes! But I won’t promise you forever.” So we decided on a marriage ‘lease’. Every year we re-evaluate who we are, what kind of marriage we have and we say, “What do ya think? Another year?” Romantic? Maybe not. Realistic? Yes, I think so.
To promise someone “forever” is, in my opinion, ridiculous. I have no idea who I will be, or who my spouse will be, in 5 years let alone 20…30. Why would I let some preconceived notion of happily ever after, dictate if I stay in a marriage that is no longer healthy? I married when I was 31. My husband and I have been lucky enough to have grown in the same direction. We share the same interests, have the same goals. We are both very physically active. We like to eat healthy and don’t like to drink much. We have similar beliefs. All of these things help keep us together. But what if you’re not so lucky? What if, over the years, you’ve changed? You’ve gotten healthy and your spouse refuses. What if they’ve strayed? What if you’ve strayed? You’re being neglected, or neglecting them? This goes both ways. The marriage lease is a way of keeping us on our toes, stop taking each other for granted. Keep your partner at the top of your list. Not somewhere below 1.wash windows and 2. get kitty litter. We’re all guilty of it. But I think the idea of “forever” exacerbates the problem. So many times people get married and they think ‘that’s it! I’m set for life!’ And they stop trying. They stop trying to impress their spouse….stop courting them. Now, that’s going to happen…of course it is. Trust me, when I’m covered in poop and haven’t slept in 5 days, i’m in no mood to court anyone and I would, in fact, encourage my husband to stay away. BUT, we still have to try, if only in tiny little ways.
I hear celebrities say things like, “divorce is not an option!” All whilst fighting off reports of infidelity or abuse. My motto is “divorce is always an option” so I better make sure that I let my husband know how much I love him. That he is special to me and even after 11 years, I’m still happy to be with him. And hopefully he’ll do the same for me.
Now, i’m certainly not encouraging anyone to jump ship at the first sign of waves. There are always going to be rough patches. We had one that lasted 2 years. It was tough, and there were times I wondered if we’d make it. Did divorce enter my mind? Yes it did, but to be honest, the idea that divorce was a possibility, that I wasn’t ‘stuck’, actually helped me through it. If I know that I don’ t HAVE to stay, it makes it easier TO stay. I have a choice. We always have a choice. So I choose to work hard and work through the rough times. Will it always be that way? I don’t know. So far so good! But I’m just taking it one year at a time.
My newest routine to All About That Bass. Love this song and it’s message!
Hey Ya’ll, my last song was removed from youtube so let’s see if this one stays!!
I think I forgot to post this one, but it’s my new favorite! Easy enough Choreo but still challenging!
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Big changes yet again! We finally found our own space! I’ll be teaching my Dance Fitness classes in the same studio we teach our Aerial classes! It’s a gorgeous warehouse with high ceilings and a rockin sound system. So come on over and try a free class on me. The address is 151 Kalmus Dr #J-7 Costa Mesa, CA 92626. (Inside Dance Asylum) Hope to see you soon!!
12 years ago I was living in New York City. That was my address. But at the moment the towers went down, I was on tour with Kiss Me Kate. I sat watching TV as everyone else did, feeling incredibly helpless. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to be back “home” in NY….to count the heads of all my friends. What actor hasn’t “tempted” inside the Towers at some point in their career? Not being able to get through the bogged down phone lines was torture. The show was cancelled that night and rightfully so. When we finally got back in the theater the next night, it felt wrong to me. How could we possibly put on a happy show? Sing happy songs in such a time of sorrow? I felt like my job was, quite frankly, dumb. But we did it. We put on a show. We pasted smiles on our faces and performed for a crowd of about 300 in a theater that sat 2,000. I even thought, “Who are these people? Who would come and see a show at a time like this?” At the end of the show Rex Smith, our lead, asked everyone to sing God Bless America. The backstage crew came out, and we all held hands and sang. I looked around and saw the pain in everyones eyes. The cast was crying, the crew was crying and the audience was crying. We were all hurting… together. At that moment I felt such a bond with this group of complete strangers in the audience. With tears streaming down their face, they stood and applauded us for what felt like 10 minutes. I realized then, that what we do as actors is not stupid. We provide a gift. These people had showed up to forget. To take their minds off the horrible things that were happening in the world. To have a respite, if only for a few hours. After that show, letters came to the stage door thanking us for helping them get through those tough days. I saved many of them, to remind myself that we ALL, no matter how big or small, make a difference. God Bless America.
My road to Chicago is at an end, and it has been a fabulous ride! I have gotten more out of this than I can possibly explain in words, but I will do my best. This road actually started 10 years ago. The day I became a Mother was of course the best day of my life. But there was a massive change in my actual being. As an actor, we are by nature selfish, we have to be. We ARE the product we are selling, which is why we bore you to death with our resume or how fabulous we were in our last job. It’s the equivalent of you talking Insurance, Computers or what ever vocation you have chosen. But once you bring a child into this world, life ceases being about you. Everything, from a burp to a smile becomes about your baby, and rightfully so. It was a change I was happy to make. Because the whole time I’m thinking in the back of my head that of course I’ll go back to performing. I just have to wait till the baby is a little older. And then they’re 3 and a second one comes along and again, I’m happy to wait. The shift happens gradually. You exchange your 3’ heels for flip flops. You go from ‘full beat’ makeup, to being happy if you put on chapstick. You go from dressing to the Nines, to….. well, just dressing. You exchange late nights and ‘show folks’ for suburbia and really nice ‘normal’ people. Juliet Fischer was slowly packed away, and Juliet Schulein aka, Jackson and Cole’s mom became my identity. And I like her, I do! But it was like trying to fit in to a world of Penguins when your really a Peacock. I did my best to tone down and keep my feathers hidden. I didn’t always succeed, but I did pretty good. And then one day you look up and 10 years has gone by. The ‘comeback’ didn’t come.
Enter crazy, good friends here. Peacocks in hiding like me, who found me by taking my dance class! We supported and encouraged each other, and the next thing I know, I’m at an audition for Chicago! Unfortunately the story doesn’t end here, because I tank at the audition. Let’s be honest, it’s been a few years, so I’m not sure what I was thinking was going to happen. What did happen was I couldn’t sing it. I tried so hard, but I cracked every time I went to hit the high note. It was at that moment that I saw how much I had given up and how far I had fallen. While my family is the best thing that has ever happened to me, I had let my other love go. I cried for days. It was like I was grieving the death of the old me. But slowly, I realized she wasn’t gone, just packed away somewhere. So I pulled her out, dusted her off and got to singing. Everyday. For Months. I closed up all the windows in the house so the neighbors wouldn’t kill me, and sang my face off. Then, 2 months later, I saw another audition for Chicago. Same director and choreographer. (Ron Kellum and Randy Slovacek) All I had to do was sing for the Artistic Director. (!) Well I’m happy to tell you, I marched in and sang the shit out of that song! I have never been more happy about an audition in my life. It was the resurrection of Juliet! I didn’t even care if I got the job at that point. (but I did!) Doing the show again has been one of the highlights of my career. For so many reasons: the cast and crew were amazing, and my costume rocked and I actually looked good in it! And I got to be with “My People” again!! A room full of fabulous Peacocks! One more beautiful than the next!! But mostly, because I never thought I’d be here again. So thank you for following me on this awesome, awesome journey. Juliet Fischer is alive and well. But from now on, my ‘stage’ name will be Juliet Fischer-Schulein because we both deserve the recognition.