The decision for me to go back to New York happened on a total whim.
I was sitting in my favourite coffee shop working on some emails and blog stuff when I noticed a notification pop up in Facebook. I clicked on it only to find an invitation to a Master Class series being put on by one of my favourite contemporary composers, Jonathan Reid Gealt (who wrote Quiet and Mama Don't Cry). When I saw the line up for the weekend and realized I could make the dates work, I immediately sent an email to Jonathan only to receive a response 4 minutes later saying there was a spot for me if I wanted it and the next thing I knew I was planning to be in my favourite city less than two weeks later.
Then I started to freak out a little bit.
After receiving the email from Jonathan I began worrying about money, but somehow the funds sorted themselves out, and I found really inexpensive (amazing!) accommodations on airbnb (such a great site!) and a bus ticket to NYC for $90. I then started to doubt myself - I was going to be in a class full of New Yorkers with teachers I idolize including Adam Guettel, Tituss Burgess and Jonathan himself. After breathing a little I realized that I just had to embrace the opportunity and trust that I was doing the right thing. I knew I was going to be pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, but that is one of the reasons I do what I do; If I wanted comfortable and easy, I wouldn't be performing! I knew that this trip was going to be amazing and possibly game-changing, but I had to allow myself to be open to the experience in order to do so.
Cue end of Ashley's freak out.
The first couple weeks of May were stupidly tough and I absolutely could have sat and wallowed in my negative feelings, but instead I chose to say yes to life. While this is generally a theme in my life (and written many times here on the blog, even right there in my beautiful new sidebar), it has been especially prevalent in all that has come along in the past few weeks. A couple days before I left for New York, my sweet Jessie helped me write a list of good things in my life (complete with pictures), which I tucked in my purse as a reminder of all that was wonderful.
Feeling excited, nervous and brave, I found myself on a Megabus bright and early on a Wednesday morning. It was anything but glamorous, but I finally arrived in NYC about 12 hours later.
A day of traffic delays, boredom and explaining my life story at customs would be enough to put anyone in a bad mood; instead I arrived in NYC feeling gracious and happy to be there. I made a stop at the always amazing Blossom and enjoyed a stellar meal of raw sweet potato rolls (filled with jicama, coconut, sweet peppers and avocado), eggplant rolatini (stuffed with tofu ricotta and covered in a housemade marinara) followed by the most BRILLIANT lavender coconut creme brulee.
To top it all off, my lovely server brought me a glass of red wine to accompany my dessert after he heard about the hard time I had been given at customs. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end a really long (and sometimes frustrating) day of travel. I was exactly where I needed to be.
And all because I said yes.
So much more to come on my NYC adventures including some delicious eats, visits with friends and an incredible experience in my master classes...