lin manuel miranda

5 Square Pegs I’m Thankful For

It’s Thanksgiving time again, which means we have reached that point in the year where there is an entire day dedicated to something we should all strive to do a little more of: be grateful. I personally feel like I could talk for hours about all that I am thankful for, but that’s not to brag, it’s more to criticize myself for all the moments I let trivial things make me forget.

This year has been a trying one for our world. Fear and hate have tried their best to dictate who we are and what we do. But among this darkness has also been the constant presence of love. There are people helping people and loving people and saving people. There is still an ever presence of light that is trying it’s best to bleed out the dark.

Here on my blog, I’ve been doing my best to highlight the good things that have been happening amongst the bad in a monthly segment called “All the Good Things.” It’s a list of positive minded and/or inspiring actions/events that happen during a specific month, the length being equal to the number of days in that month. Come December, I’ll have done 11 “episodes” which equivalate to 334 good things that have happened so far this year! (And that’s only the ones I included on the list!) For me, making this list each month has given me a constant source of hope and positivity. It’s inspiring to know how many good hearts are out there in the world!

Speaking of good hearts. Last year for Thanksgiving, I wrote a post about 8 badass women I was (and still am) thankful for. Starting with my girl, Gina Rodriguez, the list showcased 8 women who had truly inspired me that year with their character, courageousness and all around badass-ery. This year I have a new list, and while they are not all women, they are all people who I’ve looked up to this year . For amongst all the repetition and imitation found in this age of social media, these 5 people are paving their own way with passion, innovation, inspiration and kindness. These are the square pegs challenging all the round holes—don’t make it weird. They are the ones standing out for good reason, showing the true benefit of being yourself and standing up for what you believe in.

.

1) Ellen DeGeneres

ellen-degeneres

If you’re ever looking for a smile or a safe place to laugh, Ellen is your go-to girl. With her unwavering positivity and message of kindness, she is a constant source of joy for anyone and everyone, especially those who watch her show. I am constantly inspired by the goodness she brings to television and social media and I can only hope to be part of projects with such a positive impact one day.

.

2) Malala

images_malala-y

Honestly, I don’t even think there are words I can say that could possibly describe the magic that is Malala. But maybe that’s the point. After all, it is not only her voice but her actions and her unshakable bravery that make her someone I continue to look up to. If you don’t know her story, I highly you suggest you look it up in its entirety, but here’s a sneak peek:

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 5.50.31 PM

.

3) Gal Gadot

Build Presents The Cast Of "Wonder Woman"

A small part of me wishes Wonder Woman would have come out last year so that Gal Gadot could have been properly featured on my list of badass women, but the rest of me is glad it came out this year, because she is the superhero we all needed. It’s no secret she’s a badass, but it’s also no secret that she’s humble and kind and an incredible role model for young (and old and any age really) girls and boys alike.

.

4) Chance the Rapper

Chance-the-rapper-on-gma-aug-2016-billboard-1548

I don’t like being behind the times, so when I started hearing everyone talk about Chance the Rapper’s album Coloring Book, and then realized I could only listen to it on Spotify, I almost immediately handed over my $7/month so I could see what this guy was all about. After doing so, let me just say that regardless of whether or not you like his music—which I do—you can never be too late to the party that is Chance the Rapper. Bottom line, he’s just a great person that is so full of life and love that it makes you want to be full of life and love.

.

5) Lin-Manuel Miranda

112616-people-lin-manuel_miranda-jpeg-30412_6bca945092445d03bae13e2e4a3a95c9.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

A few months back I had the opportunity to see Hamilton when it came to LA, which was everything I wanted/hoped it would be times 1000. Afterwards, I more or less love-ranted my way into a blog post called “5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda,” which says pretty much everything I want to say here, save for a few more thank you’s. As someone who’s constantly exhausted by what I find on social media, Lin-Manuel Miranda is always a breath of fresh air.

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 6.02.47 PM

Sometimes I have to remind myself that these tweets are not written directly to me. But then again, maybe they are. Maybe they are exactly what I need to read in order to get me where I need to go, which in a perfect world, is a place where I can write something that is exactly what someone needs to read in order to get them where they need to go. I’m all for this assembly line of inspiration, kindness and productivity, Lin. Let’s keep it moving!

.

Thank you to all these square pegs and to the many more that are out there making a positive difference in the world. I have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and you are all among them!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

5 Lessons I Learned from Hamilton & Lin-Manuel Miranda

Yesterday I saw Hamilton at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles and it’s safe to say my jaw has yet to stop hanging open. It lived up to all the hype and was somehow able to be better than I expected. For amongst the talent of the actors and actresses, the incredible music provided by the orchestra and the simple yet beautiful choreography and set design, the pure genius of the lyrics is what truly left me speechless. And while I could probably write an entire essay about the lessons I learned from the historical content of the play, I think that’s something you can only appreciate if you have the pleasure of seeing it in person. I did however walk away with a handful of lessons about the play itself, where it came from, what inspired it, and how it came to a city near me.

1) Consume Everything

Lin-Manuel Miranda first got the inspiration for Hamilton after picking up a copy of Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton titled, Alexander Hamilton. After reading it, he started to envision the story being told as a musical. Now, clearly this idea turned out, you know, decent. But just think what would have happened if Lin-Manuel Miranda never picked up a copy of that book. Or rather, think what wouldn’t have happened. All those critical accolades, all those sold out Broadway shows, even this very blog post wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t grabbed a copy of ole A. Ham at the airport. That being said, it’s important to consume as much of anything and everything as we can. You never know where you’re going to find a new inspiration or a new passion that could completely change your life. So read books, see movies, get out in the world and take in what it has to offer, then (preferably) write a kickass musical about what you find so I can have something to do on Tuesday nights.

.

2) Pursue the Crazy

“Honestly, Lin, a musical about Alexander Hamilton?” I have no proof of anyone ever saying this to him, but I think it’s safe to assume that at least one person was on team doubt during this endeavor. But Lin-Manuel Miranda had an idea, a vision, and he pursued it, no matter how many people gave him the “Honestly, Lin” speech. And in the end, it didn’t matter how many people told him he was crazy, because that quickly became far outnumbered by the people telling him he was a genius, and probably overshadowed by a vast number of people asking him to sign their baby. Regardless, Team Doubt is looking pretty bad these days.

.

3) Be Bold

In my post-show stalking of Lin-Manuel Miranda, I also learned that his first performance of what would eventually become the opening number of Hamilton, was at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word. You know, a casual venue…where he had been invited to perform a different song! At the time he was starring in the Broadway show In the Heights—which he also wrote the music and lyrics for, isn’t it a shame this guy has no talent?—and was invited to perform music from that show, but instead he showed up with a song about Alexander Hamilton, thus treating the White House stage as the birthing room for what would go on to become one of the most successful shows in Broadway history. The man doesn’t go halfway, people.

.

4) Do it Your Way

“A musical about a key segment of American history, great! Wait—what do you mean it features a lot of hip hop music?” Again, I have no proof of this conversation taking place because I wasn’t in the room when it happened, but I’m just spitballing here. Lin-Manuel Miranda could have showed up with a very proper, classical musical with beautiful gowns and elaborate choreography and a few tangent storylines that were only included as people pleasers. Instead, he created this musical mastermind of a history lesson that somehow makes you want to dance and go back to 11th grade to pay closer attention at the same time. There is no recipe written anywhere that told him this would work, but he believed in it, and sometimes that’s the hardest part of any pursuit.

.

5) Go Out and Do It!

Whatever it is. Whatever idea you have bouncing around in your head. Whatever you find yourself daydreaming about during the workday. Go after it! Write it down. Start taking the small steps. Put a plan into motion. Because just as Hamilton probably wouldn’t have existed if Lin-Manuel Miranda hadn’t grabbed that copy of Alexander Hamilton at the airport, it also wouldn’t exist if he didn’t dig deeper into the inspiration he found in its pages. So stop throwing away your shot. Stop letting those ideas and dreams simmer out. Believe in them, chase them, write a historical hip-hop monologue about them, you never know where it might take you.

giphy (16)