A Thousand Times

Last night marked my personal 1000th Show of Hamilton. I’m not sure what is more wild to think about: the fact that I’ve played this show 1000 times, or that I’ve only missed 39 shows out of 1039 total performances of the Philip Tour. All this to say, doing 1000 of anything has me in a particularly reflective mood (I’m usually pretty reflective, but this time I feel like sharing for a change). 

I think I’ve finally cracked what makes practicing scales hard…and it’s the same source of my frustration now that I’m 1000 shows into Hamilton. The longer I’ve been working on something, the more upset I get with myself when-

A. things don’t go as well as I hope and/or 

B. I cannot see the progress from day to day

Confession time: I am terrible at practicing consistently. I always have been. I don’t routinely keep a practice journal to log my progress or make mental notes of where I am now and what the next step to where I’m going is (though I’ve tried many times). I am at my most productive only when motivated by deadlines—most of them not my own. I am not kind to myself when it comes to self-talk (I feel like most people aren’t kind to themselves either). We all have that voice that says “you mean to tell me in 1000 shows you couldn’t figure out a fool-proof way to do xyz” or “if you can’t do it now, what makes you think you could do it later on when you have even less time to prepare and the stakes are higher?” This is exhausting, and it takes the wind out of the sails of progress if left unchecked. It’s very easy to let these voices win and find yourself in a dark place (add single-digit weather, constant moves, living apart from your loved ones, and you have a very short time before the spiral takes you). 

Here’s the thing about that voice though…it’s not true. At least, it’s not true yet. But if every mistake upsets you to the point of exhaustion, you will have no energy left over to address the little details before they become big issues. The longer you avoid fixing things, the more you are complicit in their persistence (and the harder it is to talk yourself into doing something about them). This is settling. This is mediocrity. The negative self-talk over time becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy…if you let it win. 

So a simple fix would be to not let it win, right? Well, yes…except it’s not so easy to turn it off—it’s a practiced habit. Ask yourself: “In the countless times I’ve done something, have I routinely let that negative voice win?” If, like me, your answer is “yes,” then we have to unlearn that muscle memory, that conscious reflex. How does one erase this habit? 

Slowly, deliberately, and patiently.

If you are nervous when you practice, you will be even more nervous when you perform. If you practice with distractions, you will not have the stamina to focus in performance. If you practice impatiently, you will never give yourself time to truly learn what it is you are working on. I say all this because it’s what I need to hear—it’s what I’ve always needed to hear. Gracious, patient discipline: that’s what I need. This is the reflex to develop, the habit to take the place of letting negativity win in difficult moments. 

We’re hardly ever taught discipline from this perspective though. It’s often taught from a place of fear: that without discipline you will fall behind your colleagues, that you will be incapable of accomplishing what you set out to do, or that you will miss your window of time to learn something. Do these statements sound familiar? They are cut from the same cloth as that negative self-talk, and, in the same fashion, they are not true today but could become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you dwell on their possibility. 

Imagine how different the arts would be if instead of teaching discipline through fear, we taught discipline from a positive perspective…that instead of saying “you (the student) will never get where you want to go without practicing,” we say “you (the student) have the power to change the outcome.” Because at the end of the day, we all do have the power to change the outcome. It takes patience, it takes persistence, and it takes discipline. It won’t be a linear path, and it’s absolutely alright to feel disheartened at times. But instead of letting that negativity influence your next step, take solace in the fact that it’s never too late to change the outcome. There will always be another show, another chance to get it right, another opportunity to do your best.

One Year…

Since I’ve performed Hamilton

Since I’ve been in an orchestra pit

Since I’ve lived on my own

Since I’ve lived on the road

Since I’ve been to physical therapy

Since I’ve been surrounded by friends

Since I’ve worked in a coffee shop

Since I’ve gone out for drinks after a show

Since I thought I had everything figured out

Since life felt normal

Without a full-time job

Without earning a living wage

Without live music

Without traveling for fun

Without discovering new places

Without distractions

Without plans

Without a drive or purpose

Without a reason to get out of bed in the morning

Without words

Of not knowing what tomorrow would bring

Of living in my childhood bedroom

Of having no choice but to look in the mirror

Of making coffee at home

Of realizing what I take for granted

Of debating a career change

Of learning new skills

Of watching the world adapt online

Of trying to take advantage of “found time”

Of grieving

Until this feels like a distant memory?

Until this is over?

Until everyone that wants a vaccine has one?

Until we can put away our masks?

Until the problems we have now feel solved?

Until the theaters and concert halls are packed again?

Until our industry comes back in full?

Until we know how bad it really was?

Until we recognize what got us here?

Until we forget?

With family

With time to do things I never thought I could

With a reset button

With a newfound perspective

With home-cooked meals

With a therapist

With streams of entertainment

With Raveena in the same city

With long walks and longer conversations

With gratitude…

The View from the Other Side

It’s hard to be the regular person.  

We fear change.  From an evolutionary standpoint, we’ve inherited the notion that change opens the door to the unknown and thus is synonymous with danger.  At the starting point, we long for the moment when the new normal becomes comfortable—when we know what to expect and have faith that we can fully deliver what is expected of us.  We long to be the regular person.  

It’s hard to be the regular person.  

As time passes, the technical challenges we deal with on the daily become easier to navigate.  With more experience comes more tools at our disposal to put out the proverbial fires.  We feel thankful that we are seemingly over the hump, that we’ve been able to settle into our new routine.  For a moment, it feels as if this feeling will continue indefinitely…that nothing stands in our way.  Comfort sets in.

It’s hard to be the regular person. 

After a critical point, the collective comfort starts to destabilize for any number of reasons.  Either the physical, mental, or emotional demands of the new normal wear us out over time; or as the technical problems diminish in difficulty, our minds create their own problems to occupy our time instead; or collectively we settle so much into our routines that our jobs become peripheral.

It’s hard to be the regular person.

As soon as we feel comfortable, the everyday things lose their immediacy.  We long for vacation—either in the literal sense of us going individually or the figurative sense of just longing for something different than what we already have.  I used to always think being the sub was infinitely harder than being the regular person, but it’s really just a different race altogether: being a sub is a sprint while being the regular person is a marathon.  The biggest difference?  I would argue that a sub is a welcome, albeit temporary, change to a system—a departure from the ordinary, a vacation from the normal.  The regulars are predisposed to welcome a sub with open arms.  

It’s hard to be the regular person.

There comes a point where you just stop trying or caring about what everyone else thinks.  In the beginning, you’re focused on doing a good job and trying to compound on what is being put out by others…but with added comfort comes the ebbing of extrinsic motivation.

It’s hard to be the regular person.

Two years ago, I walked into a rehearsal in Seattle with 10 other bandmates whom I had never met.  Save for a couple audition tapes, I was an untested professional musician thrust into a leadership role—but this was definitely not the first time I had gotten an amazing opportunity that led me to question my qualifications.  Now that I reflect on my relatively short transition from student to professional, I realize that one particular experience informed my preparation and approach more than any other.

Years ago, a 17-year-old me spent a summer at a prestigious music festival and was placed in a string quintet with a bunch of name-brand conservatory students.  It was quite a stretch for me, and though I tried my best to deliver as violin 1 I was out of my league.  Needless to say, this placement didn’t last more than a week before I found myself in another, more “suitable” group.  

This quick leap and fall from grace made me wary in each subsequent scenario that felt similar, and landing Hamilton fit that bill perfectly.  So, in my months leading up to the first rehearsal, in my countless hours of preparation, in the wee hours of the morning before I fell asleep, and in the final days as I tried to find inner peace with the looming unknown in front of me, my mantra was simple: DON’T SCREW UP.  I even wrote a blog about this at the time “Be Prepared.”  And while I feel like I did very well individually in rehearsals (and subsequently in shows), I was not actively thinking like a section leader—I was satisfied with “leading by example” and being as solid as possible for our quartet while patiently waiting to see what specific things I could do as concertmaster to be most helpful.  

It’s hard to be the regular person.

I recognize now that in the beginning I was so inwardly consumed with my own part that I was hardly listening beyond.  Fortunately for me, I was working with some incredible players that all had experience playing shows and touring, we somehow gelled as a quartet from day one, and we all hit it off super well socially.  I cannot stress enough how fortunate I was to work with this particular group: if anything negative had come up in rehearsals or the first month of shows, I probably would have been ill-equipped to handle the situation adequately as a leader.  But this quartet and band bought me time to truly learn on the job…And for a moment, it was easy to be the regular person.

But it’s hard to be the regular person.

I have learned so much in my time on tour about myself, about how to succeed as a professional musician, and about how to be a good leader.  But the most important lesson that I’m still experimenting with is how to lead with calm, expertise, and confidence regardless of the circumstances: ideal or not.  It’s a careful balance of inspiring intrinsic motivation to go the extra mile in every facet; having a fully-formed concept of how things should be while remaining open to (and in some cases pushing) individual creativity; building a predictable and genuine workplace environment where feedback is regular and expected; being a positive influence on the group, even when issues arise at work or at home; and, above all else, being present with the group and getting my eyes and ears outside of my individual part.  THIS is where my inexperience reared its head in the beginning, and now, two years later, this is the part that I wish I could go back and change—who knows how those changes would have propagated after two years with the same group…

It’s hard to be the regular person.

So, just celebrating our two year anniversary of the Philip Tour and being over 800 shows in, we find ourselves in Toronto, Ontario for fourteen weeks with a quartet of local musicians.  It is a new beginning in many ways—a chance to try again from scratch while being informed by the experiences I’ve had the last two years.  From the rehearsal process to the first week of shows, I’ve made a conscious effort to focus outward and to be mindful of the group rather than being consumed by my individual part and trying to impress.  It’s not the same as “not caring” about my part, rather it is realizing (and hoping) that elevating the group does much more for the whole than focusing on elevating myself.  It’s this small, fundamental change in perspective that I believe will serve myself, the group, and the whole well for our long time here.  And from this experience I’ll be able to further refine my approach for our extended time in Washington, DC later this year with a fresh quartet of local musicians.


Sit back comfortably in your chair and close your eyes.

Turn your attention to your breathing.

As you inhale, imagine the air filling up your heart; exhale and feel the static tension leave your body.

After a few breaths focusing on your heart, turn your attention to your emotional state.

I want you to feel gratitude.

Meditate on what that emotion feels like, or a time in your life that you felt it strongly.

If you had to graph it on a chart, where would it show up?

If you find yourself drifting down a tangent, bring yourself back to center—back to your breathing.

Then, try again.

I’ve been seeing a Life Coach since May.  The above is an excerpt from one of our first sessions, back when she was beginning to teach me the art of emotional regulation.  We had previously done this same exercise, but we focused on the emotion of love—one that comes far more naturally to me for some reason.  How do I know this?  Because the point of these meditations is not to feel these emotions; rather, it is to regulate your heart and breathing, to refill your emotional energy tank, and to regain control of the internal things you can control while simultaneously disposing your worry for the external things you cannot control—and when it came to meditating on gratitude, I could not achieve this as I could with love.  Much to my dismay, I honestly struggled to pinpoint what gratitude felt like in this moment…

It’s easy to feel thankful for anything in the first mile—a new opportunity, a new job, a new relationship.  As long as something feels fresh, gratitude effortlessly flows from within.  But over time, the spring dries up and what was once fresh and exciting becomes the new normal, a progression seemingly written into the laws of nature.  Every time we go into something new saying “this time will be different,” and invariably we find ourselves weeks, months, or years later fantasizing about our next move and how fresh it will feel in comparison.  

So what changes?  

When something is new there is no expectation attached to it, save for our desire to feel like what we’re doing now is different than what we were doing before.  

After two years on the road and moving to a new city every couple weeks, I’ve been through an endless cycle of boom and bust within each stop along the way as the newness of each city is exchanged for (usually) a desire to get as far away as possible by the end.  These smaller cycles have also seen an overarching battle between the romanticism of exploration and the stresses of constant motion—with only a matter of time until the latter wins the war.  

So is this progression universal law in the same way that we’re slave to gravity and the spontaneous pull from order to disorder?  Is there an antidote to the “comfortable” phase?  Some argue that it’s simply to keep searching for something that makes what you’re already doing feel fresh again: to spice it up, to fall back in love, to get creative.  I think it’s more fundamental than that…

Simply, don’t lose your gratitude for what you already have.  

Don’t forget about the opportunities that have been bestowed upon you, the people that have been placed along the way, and the things that make you who you are.  Instead of fantasizing incessantly on where you used to be or where you want to be, use the past as a means to refresh your gratitude and excitement to how you felt when you began, and use the future to reframe your trajectory—ever grateful for this rung in the ladder.  It’s easy to make an impulse decision to pursue something else in the name of a fading flame, but without gratitude you will be slave to the same boom and bust cycles as before.  

Let us never lose sight of our gratitude.  For when we let the comfortable phase in, expectations come in too.  Like a revolving door: as gratitude leaves, entitlement comes in to fill the negative space.  Gratitude is the antidote to the comfortable, to the normal, to the monotony.  It is the spice that keeps everything fresh, the lens that brings clarity to the haze of going through the motions, and the oil that feeds the eternal flame of passion.  

Static Friction

Why is New Years always such a let down to so many people, myself included?  Maybe it’s because we couldn’t spend the day with the people we loved the most, or perhaps as we think about our hopes for the coming year we are constantly reminded of our shortcomings and missed goals from last one.  While I had some big aspirations for this year (and made some serious headway achieving those things), 2019 was largely a year of building foundations and finding the groove.  Already a year into touring with Hamilton, I felt that I was still very much learning how to fully function in a constantly changing environment.  

When I look back on my year, there is a clear divide between the goals I concretely pursued and the ones that largely fell by the wayside—a story of a hidden force.  I don’t remember much from High School Physics, but after learning about Newton’s Laws of Motion in an idealized, abstract world, you’re introduced to one of the “catch-all” forces that brings them into real life: Friction.  The interesting thing about Friction is that there are two types, Static Friction and Kinetic Friction, and while both resist motion, Static Friction is always greater than Kinetic Friction.  Simply, It takes more force to move a stationary object than it does to keep one moving, and this parallel is visible in everything from the process of developing good habits to the reason (I think) why big cities overflow with productive energy when compared to small towns.  

In 2019, I lived in 16 different cities for mostly three week stints, played just shy of 400 shows, reconnected with many friends along the way and lost a very dear one…and I only wrote three times.  Amidst the rollercoaster of emotions and myriad of experiences from this year, I found it extremely difficult to both set aside time for writing as well as collect my thoughts and channel them into something cohesive and meaningful.  And it shows: while I am an introverted person, I’ve found myself dipping into becoming even more of a hermit with very little to say—and the static friction persists.  

How does it manifest?  

For me, it involves an endless cycle of idealizing how things should play out, putting on the persona of having everything together and contributing only when I’m 100% sure of things, finding myself frustrated and flustered when things don’t crystallize physically as they do mentally, and then going back to the drawing board to try again with the weight of past shortcomings ever present in my mind.  

And how to overcome it?  

Overcoming this, however, is simple in theory: I merely need to ditch the persona of having everything together—this opens the door for things to play out differently and for me to remain flexible instead of triggering my perfectionist mindset.  

Why is it then so hard to do this?  

Sunk Costs.  After years of being raised in an environment that rewards and accredits those that have the answers and ignores those that don’t, I’ve subconsciously accepted this mindset as I’ve transitioned to the professional world—and with those years living by this philosophy comes the inevitable sunk costs of admitting it is flawed and starting over.  But it is necessary—and now, six paragraphs later, I realize that change is the only way to break through the static. 

So what is my New Years Resolution for 2020?  Simple: to overcome Static Friction.  To Reset in order to recognize the hurdles I’ve built.  To Reframe the narrative in order to eliminate the force keeping me stationary.  And then, to try again.  

Reset. Reframe. Retry. 

Happy 2020.

What Is Success?

Success does not require formal training.

Success does not equate to following the rules.

Success is not measured by recognition.

But this does not mean success is easy to achieve.

The problem with success is that we let others define what it means.  

We grow up constantly being compared to our classmates, our friends, and our family.

We watch as those who exhibit the most skill within the confines of any “test” are recognized.

We learn to aspire to the spotlight and to fear leaving without a legacy.

We are taught to blend in when the only sensible route for differentiation is to stand out.

We are rewarded for playing it safe only to learn later in life that those “rules” don’t matter.

This leaves us feeling betrayed by a system into which we put so much energy and trust.

But education is designed to teach us how to succeed in educational systems—it is self-serving.

And to let it (or anyone else) define what “success” means is silly.

This does not mean to disregard ideas from your trusted teachers, friends, and family.

This does not mean to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  

This does not mean to blindly follow your own path.

After all, success absolutely requires you to work hard—as hard as you possibly can.

Because achieving success is very difficult.

And the odds are not in your favor…But not for the reasons you might think…

You see, the reason success is scarce is because we get hung up on everything above.

We spend a lifetime of blood, sweat, and tears chasing after something that will not fulfill us.

Clawing for recognition at all costs, and silently pained when it comes to others over us.  

Because we are rarely taught the truth:

Success in a career is simply earning a living doing something you love.  

Remember that: what YOU love, not what someone else defines as “successful.”

And while we’re at it, let’s discard the myth that more money or fame equals more success.

Doing the thing is hard enough, and it is worth celebrating when you get there.

Any recognition that comes along with it is simply a bonus, but it is not required or guaranteed.

And if you do happen to earn that living doing what you love, don’t stop there…

For success is not a static entity—you must constantly improve and differentiate yourself.

And you must reevaluate if the living you are earning is sufficient both for today and for tomorrow.

Take faith in yourself and the race you are running.

And don’t trouble your mind comparing yourself to others—instead learn from them along the way.

Appreciate their struggle and celebrate in their success as you would want them to celebrate in yours.  

Let’s redefine what it means to be successful in any career, one person at a time.

On the Death of a Close Friend

“Are you sitting down?”  

There is no good way to give bad news.  It hits like an earthquake: suddenly, unrelentingly, and with countless aftershocks that are equally devastating.  It is a rare moment where the emotional world manifests as a physical force, knocking us off our feet both literally and figuratively.  I wasn’t sitting down, but even if I was this news would have pulled the floor out from underneath me.  Receiving news like this is a fact of life that I have struggled coming to terms with for many years, a specter perched in the back of my mind akin to a ticking clock: easily covered up with white noise, yet persistently poking through the subconscious.  

It wasn’t until 2 hours after that phone call that the news of Jason Ryan’s passing began to sink in.  As I began my first show on the two show day, I recalled a text he sent me out of the blue several months ago when Hamilton opened in Orlando:  

“Hey bud!  I wanted to make it down for the show but I am still on the job search and haven’t landed anything yet.  I would have loved to come and see the show!  I’m sorry I couldn’t make it but keep me posted as to where you are touring!! Once I get a job I would love to come visit during a weekend.”

The thing is, I never asked him to come see me in Orlando, nor did I expect it from him.  While many of the times we’d talk would be unexpected, a unique attribute of his character has crystallized as I reflect now on those sporadic conversations: Jason treated every friendship, opportunity, and experience he had as a blessing.  In a world haunted by the past, obsessed with the future, distracted by fleeting things, daydreaming of greener pastures, and constantly making excuses, Jason created his own current with his unwavering hope, infectious love of life, and devotion to his friends.  As if his uncommon perspective wasn’t enough to leave a lasting impression on everyone in his path, Jason didn’t know a stranger.  He was simply unforgettable, and in the moment when you hadn’t thought about him for awhile, you’d get a message that would brighten your day.  


In the Fall of 2010, I piled my life high into my car and caravanned with my parents to Stetson University for move in day.  A haze of reluctance and insecurity hung in the air: after six years with the same class of just north of 100 students at Trinity Prep, I was fearful and ill-equipped to handle even the slightest of changes.  Enter Jason Ryan.  He was the first person I met at Stetson on Orientation Day as he was a Focus Leader.  Donning a bright green plastic Stetson Hat and a voice full of joy, he was a ball of energy that quickly snapped me out of my timid reluctance to begin this new chapter.  He was that upperclassman friend that invited me to join his group at lunch, included me on his crazy shenanigans with and without Nerf guns, instilled in me a love and pride for our School of Music, and inspired me to work as hard as I could while showing me that it was still possible to enjoy the ride.  

He never asked me to join Phi Mu Alpha.  He never had to.  His genuine gravity pulled me in-how could I not want to be a part of the things to which he was so dedicated?  When I discovered he was my big brother, I was ecstatic-but I could never have predicted how enduring and special our friendship would be.  Aside from being such a great mentor, inspiration, and friend, he always made the time to go the extra mile.  I’ll never forget one special Saturday he had told me to set aside completely for a surprise.  A week or two before my initiation, he showed up at my dorm first thing in the morning and asked if I didn’t mind driving.  It was about two hours down the road through the Ocala National Forest and off I-75 at a gas station in Lake City that he surprised me with two tickets to see the FSU football game, my childhood home team.  While the Marching Chiefs played the National Anthem center field, he caught the attention of our entire section as his rich bass-baritone voice belted out the words, bel-canto style.  Needless to say, in typical Jason fashion, we made a lot of friends that day.

Although we had not lived in close proximity after he graduated for most of this decade, our friendship endured.  I visited him twice in Boston, first to attend his Master’s Recital at New England Conservatory, and second to stay with him and his soon-to-be fiancé, Matt, while I auditioned at Boston University for their Master’s program.  Most recently, Raveena and I caught up with him and Matt months after they moved to New York while I was on vacation from Hamilton.  Though it had been years since we had seen each other last, our friendship seamlessly picked back up as if no time had passed, and I could already feel his gravity adding to the force pulling me back to New York.  As we talked more in the coming months, his presence in The City made me so excited for life after tour, a future of finally living in the same place once again after so many years spent at a distance.  


There have been so many questions running through my head since Sunday: How could this happen? Why him? Why now?  But the one that I keep coming back to is What can I do now?  Nothing in life can prepare you for the death of a loved one, and I am at a loss trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.  What I do know for sure is that I have not cherished life and my experiences the way Jason did, I have not kept up with old friends and made every effort to make those relationships enduring like he did, and I have routinely talked myself out of tackling big goals instead of relentlessly whittling away at them with hope and passion as was so characteristic of him: needless to say, there is still so much to learn from him even after his passing.  They say that after death we live on in the memories we shared with others, the love we gave freely to others, and the many ways we affected those whose paths we crossed…And while I had taken that statement at face value up to this point in life, I cannot think of a person this describes better than Jason and the legacy he has left on all of the people in his life.  So thank you, Jason Ryan, for teaching us all what it means to be a great human, a kind soul, a loving friend, an inspiring artist, and a spring of hope.


To the Stetson School of Music community, I cannot think of another student who loved and believed in the School with the fire that he did.  

To the Brothers of Phi Mu Alpha, I cannot think of an individual who better embodied those qualities we hold near and dear to our hearts.  

I have never been to a Senior Recital in which a single musician both filled an entire 800 seat hall and simultaneously entranced each soul to gracious silence (and I haven’t heard of one since).

I have never known a person who loved life and the people he shared it with as much as he did.  

The earthquake from his untimely passing has brought forth a tidal wave of love and beautiful memories universally from all of those he touched in life, a truly uncommon and incredible sight to behold.  


20 Things I’ve Learned on Tour

Reflections on 1 year on tour with Hamilton

 20 things I learned about work, life, and myself.

  1. It is absolutely vital for your well-being and happiness to have friends at work.
  2. If it feels scary, then it’s probably the right thing.  
  3. Walkable cities with reliable and diverse public transportation systems are the best.
  4. Getting to watch shows instead of playing in them is a blessing.  
  5. When your environment is constantly changing and you strip away the people and things that make you feel “home,” then you begin to discover who you truly are and what you truly want. 
  6. Even introverts have a limit to how much time they can spend alone.  
  7. Four weeks in Vegas is too much.
  8. Sprinting is based on talent, Distance Running is based on character.  
  9. AirBnBs are better than Hotels.
  10. The people around you are incredible resources-listen to them, learn from them, and collaborate with them.  
  11. There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing on a day off. 
  12. If you don’t practice, you won’t get any better.  
  13. Never forget to take care of yourself, because no one else will.
  14. Vacations are just as much for you as they are for your coworkers. 
  15. Hold on tight to the people that know the real you and love you all the more for it.  
  16. If you aren’t a voice to make things better, then you are inviting complacency.  
  17. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal and sleeping in your own bed.  
  18. Despite the day to day ups and downs of life, make every effort to enjoy the ride-because you never know when it will end.  
  19. “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” -C. S. Lewis
  20. Give 100% of yourself to everything you do, otherwise you are wasting both yours and everyone else’s time.  

P.S. I love my job, and I love you guys.

I’m Thankful…

For my Parents

For their authoritative yet understanding demeanor; for their unyielding support of my passions; for knowing when to save me and when to let me fall; for encouraging me to be myself; for always making time for me and always being there when I perform; for demonstrating the power of actions over words; for teaching me how to lead by example.

For my Brothers 

For picking up where my Parents left off; for teaching me how to be cool; for showing me how it feels to be accepted for who I am; for the never ending advice and encouragement at a moment’s notice; for sharing with me: time, energy, experiences, love.

For my Family

For always giving me love, no matter how much or little we see each other…even if we barely know each other; for always showing genuine interest in my life; for welcoming me with open arms; for being patient with me as I learn what it means to love unconditionally, as I grow older and understand the true value of family.

For my Friends

For accepting me for who I am and how I am: at my best and at my worst; for giving me their time and energy; for being inclusive; for being honest, even when it’s hard; for being equally supportive in my successes and failures; for teaching me what it means to be a good friend.

For my Teachers

For having the courage to teach me how to teach myself; for being patient when I don’t understand or work hard enough; for teaching me to love the journey more than the destination; for pulling me off the floor after failure and pulling my head out of the clouds after success; for showing me that there is always more to learn.

For my Job

For giving me the opportunity to perform for so many people; for teaching me consistency; for showing me just how amazing work can be; for allowing me to do what I love every day; for connecting me to people that teach me and push me to be better; for proving to me that I can do it.

For Music

For giving me a language far more expressive and personal than words; for being the soundtrack to my life; for comforting me in hard times and exciting me in happy ones; for bringing people together; for providing an artistic channel in which to process raw emotion into something more; for giving a voice to my creative energy.

For the Naysayers

For pushing me to realize my full potential; for helping me to understand what I truly want in life; for teaching me that I cannot please everyone; for keeping me unsatisfied, ever reaching higher.

Position is Key

There is a disconnect between the short term and the long term: we live day to day with different moods, roadblocks, and routines, yet our minds dream big with distant goals pushing us forward and giving us a reason to applaud or admonish ourselves each day.  How can we overcome unpredictability of the short term in order to realize our dreams in the long term?

I watched a video the other day on the Galton Board and was taken by the random, unpredictable paths of the balls producing the same predictable shape every time (in order to understand how it works, you only need to watch up to 2:30 on the video).  While it is practically impossible to predict the path of any one of the balls, bounces to the left and bounces to the right are equally likely-so most of them will fall directly below where they start.

This experimentally proven result is a metaphor for the seemingly random journey to achieving our goals.  While it is easy to obsess over each day hoping for a favorable bounce, it is far more beneficial to put time and effort into positioning ourselves to accomplish what we want and letting the inconsistencies and randomness of the day to day work themselves out in the long run.  Instead of worrying about what we cannot control, we should instead have faith that there are many possible paths to realize our goals (often paths we are consciously unaware of), despite any day to day setbacks we may encounter.

I did not have a clear path to success when I moved to New York last October, just some skills, some connections, and an audition.  While I still cannot fully comprehend how quickly things fell into place to lead me to Hamilton, I firmly believe moving to The City, taking every opportunity I could throughout my life to build a unique skill set, and making friends along the way put me in the position directly above where I wanted to be.  Even if things had not worked out, chances are I would have landed close to where I wanted to be, on a similar path to realizing my personal goals.

The next time you have a rough day and your personal frustration is building, I challenge you instead to take a moment, reaffirm what your long term goal is, and ask yourself “am I in the best possible position within my control to achieve this?” If the answer is no, then adjust your position accordingly to increase your odds; and if the answer is yes, take a deep breath and do not worry about setbacks of today knowing that the odds are in your favor.