Rudolph


Hey, blog world! Christmas is getting close! Christmas movies are on TV, and radio stations are starting to play Christmas songs! My favorite Christmas song is “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. Rudolph is looked at as a cutesy song for kids, but to me, Rudolph is a kindred spirit who’s story has a much deeper meaning. Let me break down the song and explain.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer had a very shiny nose, and if you ever saw it you would even say it glows.

Rudolph and I were both made extra special. He of course has his beautiful, shiny, red nose and I have Aspergers Syndrome (a form of Autism) and Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, which is a fancy, scientific way of saying I’m missing a piece of my brain. The Corpus Callosum is a wide band of fibres that connects the left and right sides of the brain and transmits motor information between the two sides.

All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names. They never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games

I know all too well how poor Rudolph felt because I too have been bullied because of my differences. I’ve been laughed at, excluded from things, and physically and verbally bullied, by not only my peers, but a few adults too, all because of my Aspergers and ACC!

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa came to say “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Then how the reindeer loved him, as they shouted out with glee “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, you’ll go down in history!”

This part always makes me emotional. I cry tears of happiness and get a fuzzy feeling in my heart. Everyone finally sees Rudolph for the unique person he is, embraces his difference and accepts him! It gives me hope. Hope that someday, every individual who was made a little extra special will be accepted, loved and celebrated by the world. I hope that day comes very soon!

If fictional reindeer can learn to accept their peer who is a little bit different, why can’t the rest of the world! Please, take a lesson from Rudolph’s story. People (and reindeer) who are a little bit different, are really the exact same as you on the inside! They have hopes, dreams and feelings and deserve to be treated with respect and acceptance.

Leah

 

Blasting Broadway


Hey blog world! One of the newest memes that’s been trending lately is “Blasting Music”. Lyrics to a song that make you turn it up accompanied of course by a picture of a blasting volume knob and someone enjoying the music! Click here to see some examples. I’ve seen a ton of these and realized there are none for thespians! I have to fix that! Here are some “Blasting Music” memes for the Broadway obsessed!

 

“I’m alive, I’m alive, I am so alive and I feed on the fear that’s behind your eyes. And I need you to need me, its no surprise I’m alive.

“Omigod, Omigod you guys! Looks like Elle’s gonna win the prize! If there ever was a perfect couple this one qualifies! Omigod you guys!”

“TIME FLIES, TIME DIES!”

“I think I’ll try defying gravity!”

“Life is really up to you, you must choose what to pursue! Set your mind on what to find and there’s nothing you can’t do!”

“Electricity sparks inside of me and I’m free, I’m free!”

Touch me! It’s so easy to leave me all alone with the memory of my days in the sun!

Suddenly Seymour is standing beside you. You don’t need no makeup, don’t have to pretend! Suddenly Seymour is here to provide you with sweet understanding. Seymour’s your friend!

“It’s just a jump to the left…”

“I only want to say, if there is a way…”

“Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You’re only a day away!”

“He had it comin’! He had it comin’! He only had himself to blame! If you had been there, if you had seen it, I betcha you would have done the same!”

Did I miss any? Feel free to make your own and share in the comments!

Leah

For Lease Navidad


Hey blog world! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, I know it’s late November, but Spirit of Newfoundland got into the spirit of Christmas last Thursday night! It was opening night of their brand new show “For Lease Navidad”! Along with it being the start to my Christmas season, this show was special to me for two additional reasons. #1, it was an early celebration of my 19th Birthday (I became a legal adult last Sunday! Yikes!) and also my 30th Spirit of Newfoundland show! As you can tell, I am addicted to Spirit of NL! It’s my happy place.

The second I stepped inside the building, my breath was taken away! I thought I had stepped into the North Pole! I was surrounded by beautiful Christmas trees, garlands and other decorations.

I brought my friend Kristen with me. She and I went to High School together and she’s one of my Special Olympics teammates (go Bright Stars!!!) She bowls and plays softball with me. She had never been to a show at Spirit before, but heard a lot about it from me (Spirit of Newfoundland is one of my special interests. I’m obsessed with it and talk about it constantly and can go on and on and on for hours about it!) and she has been dying to meet Peter, so I thought she would be the perfect guest to invite to my special pre-Birthday supper.

The meal that night was prepared by chef Alex Pierson. Before it even started, as always, there was a bread basket on our table. Spirit always has a basket of homemade sourdough bread at each table. It’s one of my favorite parts of the meal at Spirit! Last Thursday night, it was a little different. Alex put jellies and raisins inside of it, making it something like a fruitcake. I wasn’t fond of those additives and picked them out, but Kristen quite enjoyed them. She ate almost every piece of bread in our basket and then asked for another!

The appetizer was a butternut squash and sweet potato soup with caramelized apple. I’m not a sweet potato fan, but I gave the soup a try anyway. It was ok, but not something I’d eat again. 3/1o. Kristen shared the same sentiment. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good. I found it very peppery and the squash came through a lot more than the sweet potato and I didn’t like its taste.

The main course on the other hand was absolutely delicious! 10/10!!! Maple salmon with a caramelized onion reduction served with potatoes, turnip and chef’s selection of seasonal vegetables. The salmon was cooked perfectly, I didn’t even need my knife, it fell apart so easily. It was very light and flavorful. The maple sauce was the best part of it! It added a nice little touch of sweetness to the salmon. In my opinion, this was the best piece of salmon I’ve ever eaten!

Soon after eating, it was time for the show! I was honored to get to be one of the first to see “For Lease Navidad”! It’s set in the 1950’s at a place called Doreen’s diner. The opening number was lots of fun! Doreen’s three children Randy, (Keith Power), Betty (Janet Cull) and Johnny (Michael Power) sang “Jingle Bells” but did it in a 50’s way. It was really cool! I couldn’t help but dance to it in my seat! Then, they sang Doreen’s menu to the tune of Jingle Bells. Everything sounded so yummy! It made me hungry again!

At certain points in the middle of the song, the music would change to something dreamlike and the spotlight would shine down on one of the three kids. They told us what they’d rather be doing instead. Betty wants to be a hairstylist, Randy wants to invent things and Michael’s character wants to reno the diner and turn it into a rock n roll diner!

The costumes that they had on were awesome! I really felt like I was back in the 1960’s. Michael’s was the best, he was dressed up like a T-Bird from “Grease”! I really liked Janet’s vintage waitress outfit too.

Soon Peter burst through the door, all frazzled and disoriented. He’d been mugged and had a few bangs on the head and was bleeding. Poor darling. Doreen (Kara Noftle) took him in, sat him down and cleaned him up. She asked him his name and he said he didn’t know. She asked where he worked and why he was there and he didn’t know that either! He had amnesia. As she and her kids tried to figure out who he was, Doreen accidentally let slip that there were money problems with the diner and that lawyers were involved. Everyone was becoming very concerned with this. Doreen brushed it off like it was nothing and tried to keep what was left of her secret from the others.

Soon, Doreen took Mr. mystery man upstairs with her and they had a little talk. Doreen was really upset that there were money problems with the diner and that she is at risk of losing it. Mystery man told her there was a song that his dad used to sing to him when he’d feel down during Christmas. Something started smelling fishy right about there. If he had amnesia, how could he remember that? Anyway, he gave a moving performance of “Christmas Is…”. It made my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside and I came so close to crying happy tears!

Throughout his scene, a few more red flags began popping up. He stammered after being offered scotch. He said “I love scotch!… Um… at least I think I do?!” And as Doreen left to go deal with an issue in the restaurant, Mr. mystery man asked to make a phone call. A red flag went off in my head at that point. How could someone with amnesia who can’t remember his name or what he does for a living or very much at all for that matter, remember a phone number? Hmm? Then he started talking all secretively (“Yes it’s me. I told them I was mugged, amnesia.”) Something was definitely up. I wasn’t sure what to think of this guy now.

Later in the show, Peter dressed in drag! He looked really good! I think he should play women a little more often. Also with him were Keith, who is no stranger to drag (he looks stunning in women’s clothing!) and Michael who doesn’t look too bad in a dress either. These three were gossipy “news bags” always with their head out the window, or their ear to a china teacup on the floor. Michael’s character made me laugh when she answered the phone. Instead of “Hello!” she said “VOCM Cares!” because that’s what you have to say to win their vegetable hamper!

In the final scene of act one. It was finally revealed to the others by Doreen that she had in fact lost the diner. They needed a Christmas miracle now to keep it going. Solemnly, as they passed out desert, everybody sang “Coventry Carol“. The casts voices blended together so perfectly. The song was hauntingly beautiful.

Desert came around and it wasn’t the usual screech cake. It was bread pudding with raisins and chocolate. That was pretty good, though I picked the raisins out (I don’t like raisins). I tasted a hint of screech in there somewhere, they must have added a bit to the pudding. I liked it. I give the bread pudding a 6/10. Kristen really liked her pudding, her plate was clean in a matter of minutes!

In act two, in keeping with the recent trend, they had an instant choir! For those of you unaware of what that is, people gather together and rehearse for an hour and then record a song. There have been two hugely successful instant choir events in St. John’s recently (“California Dreaming” and “Hallelujah“, both of which were stellar!) and I was pleased to see Spirit do this in their show! I love it when Spirit gets the audience engaged and involved in the performance! The song we sang together was the classic “The 12 Days of Christmas”! Doreen assigned each side of the room a part in the song, we rehearsed for a minute or so, then began. Our partridge in a pear tree section should have projected a little more in my opinion, but other than that I thought that everyone did excellent for such a spur of the moment performance and we sounded wonderful! Especially when we all came together on five golden rings! Kara and all the other cast members were excellent conductors!

Also in act two, a few famous faces graced the stage for a performance. Elvis was one of them. Looking at him you knew it was Michael Power, but I swear if you closed your eyes and listened, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference! He was spot on! I was astounded!

The Beach Boys sang for us too! Janet, Peter, Keith and Michael performed “Little St. Nick” with harmonies. It was astounding! Keith stood out to me in this. His soprano voice never ceases to amaze me!

Keith also stood out in his performance of “White Christmas”! He and Michael and Janet each put their own spin on the song and Keith with his amazing soprano voice gave us a superbly silly rendition of the song.

Keith and Michael and Janet and Kara did a mash-up together. The boys sang “Imagine”, and I didn’t recognize the song that the girls sang, but thought it was nice. Their voices together, the power of the lyrics and the emotion poured into the performances made this one of the most breathtaking performances I’ve heard in a while. I was on the verge of tears listening to it!

This far into the blog post, I’m willing to bet you’re wondering how things are going with Doreen’s diner and who our shady mystery man really is? Well, I won’t spoil the show and tell you! I will however say that the show has a happy ending with a wonderful message! Do kind things for one another.

The finale was awesome! Everybody dressed up as Boney M! You should have seen their Afros, they were huge! They sang “Rivers Of Babylon” and of course “Mary’s Boy Child”! My heart overflowed with happiness! When it was over, my face hurt from smiling!

Then came my favorite part of the night, the singing of the Spirit of Newfoundland song. It too always makes my heart feel happy. It’s such a lovely song!

When it was finished, they gave shout-outs to their friends in the audience. They mentioned that me and Kristen were there! Kristen loved getting called out! It made her feel special.

As usual, I absolutely loved every minute of the show! Kristen did too! She gave it two thumbs AND two big toes up!!! I’m thrilled that she enjoyed her very first night out at Spirit! “For Lease Navidad” is an absolute must-see! It will warm your heart and put you in the Christmas spirit!

Another absolute must see is their Christmas luncheon! Starting on December 6th, the dynamic duos of Peter Halley and Shelley Neville and Evan Smith and Kara Noftle will take turns performing in a daily lunchtime show. As they sing Christmas carols (backed by Frank Fusari, Bill Brennan and Boomer Stamp) you’ll enjoy a three course dinner prepared by Chef Alex and his team. For more information on this or “For Lease Navidad”, or to make your reservation, call 579-3023 or click here to visit their website!

Leah

Top 13 things I’d like for my Birthday


In response to this week’s WordPress discover challenge

Hey blog world! My Birthday is coming up soon! It’s hard to believe that on Sunday I’ll be 19!!! It’s crazy how fast time flies by! I’ll officially be a grown up (19 is legal drinking age in NL) and that honestly is a little scary. The one thing I am looking forward to about being 19 is finally being able to get into the Fifth Ticket piano bar and listen to my friend Evan play the piano. This is what I would like this year for my Birthday.

13: “Ticket to Ride”: This is a board game where your objective is to claim railway routes connecting cities across the world. I first discovered this game at my Church’s youth group and had a great time playing it. I’d like to get it for my Birthday so I can teach it to my family and play it more often.

12: New flats: I need a new pair badly!!! The ones I currently have are my only pair of nice dress shoes and they have holes and the insoles are coming out!

11: The “Bob’s Burgers” coloring book: I am a huge “Bob’s Burgers” fan! I even dressed up as Louise for Halloween this year! louise-ears When I heard that a “Bob’s Burgers” adult coloring book was recently released, I got very excited! I hope Beefsquatch will make an appearance somewhere in the book! He’d be fun to color in!

10: Canvases: I’m an artist and sell my paintings to raise money for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund. I can never have too many canvases.

9: “Billy Elliot The Musical: Live!” I first saw this masterpiece on Netflix. I fell in love with it! “Billy Elliot” is such a beautiful and inspiring show. It’s the story of a young boy in England who is enrolled in boxing lessons but doesn’t like going to them. One day, he happens upon a ballet class and his life is changed. He is amazed by what he sees and realizes that this is what he wants to do instead of boxing. His father as you can guess is disapproving of this. Not only is the story uplifting and inspiring, but it has some breathtaking musical numbers too. “Electricity” is my favorite.  Now that I have cancelled my Netflix subscription, I’d like to get this movie on DVD.

8: The Beatles Yellow Submarine LEGO set: November first was a special day. John, Paul, George, Ringo and their iconic yellow submarine were immortalized in LEGO form! Being the huge Beatles fan that I am, I would love to get this set, put it together and display it in my room!

7: The Jelly Belly 50 Flavor gift box: I’m a sucker for Jelly Bellies! They are my favorite candy ever! It’d be nice to get a big box for my Birthday! One thing I like about this big box is that there are some flavors in the box that I haven’t tried yet! I’m very curious to try out the A&W Root Beer bean. I like how A&W Root Beer tastes in it’s liquid form, I wonder what the Jelly Belly jellybean is like?

6: Beanboozled 4th edition: I am also a sucker for punishment! Just for a laugh I’d like to get this and try it out! I’ve done the Beanboozled challenge before, but they have since updated it and made a few modifications and additions that weirdly, I’m curious to try. Coconut’s evil twin is now spoiled milk and they have added two new beans, strawberry banana smoothie/dead fish and caramel corn/moldy cheese.

5: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down”: I have a strong feeling my niece bought this for me, but can’t be sure until Sunday night. She always buys me the newest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book for my Birthday. It’s one of my favorite series of books! I always crack up laughing when I read them! I can’t wait to see what Greg gets up to in this next one!

4: “VeggieTales: All The Shows Vol. 1”: I’ve been watching “VeggieTales” since I was little. I still love to watch it! In my opinion, you are never too old to laugh and learn along with Bob, Larry and all the others! While I do like the newer VeggieTales (“It’s A Meaningful Life” is my favorite of the more recent episodes), the classic shows that I grew up with are my favorites. I have a lot of them on VHS, but my VCR kicked the bucket years ago so I have no way to watch them. I’d give anything to once again watch the Philistines pelt Josh and his friends with slurpees and Rack, Shack and Benny get thrown into the furnace for refusing to sing “The Bunny Song“. I’m so happy that there is a way for me to do that! There is a box set available with all the classic VeggieTales episodes from 1993 onward. I hope to get this box set so that I can relive those memories, and introduce them to my boyfriend who is only familiar with the recent VeggieTales.

3: James Taylor’s greatest hits CD: Last May, my best friend celebrated his Birthday. As an early present, I took him to see James Taylor at the Mile 1 Centre. It was a magical evening! Before that night I had never heard of James Taylor. Now, I’m a big fan! His music gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and makes me feel calm and relaxed. My favorite one of his songs is a tie between “Sweet Baby James” and “Up On The Roof”. Many a night, I fall asleep listening to a James Taylor greatest hits playlist on YouTube. I’d like to actually have his greatest hits CD so I can listen to him offline. It would be nice to have in the car.

2: A stuffed Rudolph doll: Rudolph holds a very special place in my heart. He’s my little kindred spirit. Just like him, I was born a little differently than my peers (I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism) and was bullied because of that. The end of Rudolph’s song where he gets to lead the sleigh and all the other reindeer finally love and accept him fills my heart up with so much joy and hope! I wish that someday I’ll be accepted by my peers. I would be so happy to have a little Rudolph of my own to cuddle with.

1: A Skype call to my family in Australia: I have some family living in Australia, my sister is originally from Newfoundland, but met and married an Australian and now they live together somewhere in Australia (they move around the country so often its hard to keep up with them!) Together they had the most adorable little boy who is now two years old! He’s the most precious thing! Because Newfoundland and Australia are on opposite sides of the world, I rarely get to see them in person. We do our best to Skype whenever we can. I really hope that I’ll be able to Skype with them on my Birthday! It would be the best Birthday gift in the world!

I’m really looking forward to my Birthday party with my friends on Saturday and my family party on Sunday. Spending time with the people I love is my most favorite thing about my Birthday.

Leah

20 Years of Spirit


In response to this week’s WordPress Discover challenge AND Photo Challenge

Hey blog world! My favorite place in the world as you all know is Spirit of Newfoundland! Soon it will be celebrating its 20th anniversary! I thought that today I would give you a little history lesson on Spirit and talk about my experience with it as well.

A piano playing singer and teacher, and a journalist. Not the likeliest of combos. However, that’s just what Spirit needed! You see, these were the prior jobs of the artistic director and COO of Spirit. One fateful night Kathie Hicks, the now COO of Spirit attended an Easter brunch at a restaurant called the Stonehouse. Peter Halley, the now artistic director of Spirit was performing there. Peter recognized Kathie right away from her work in media and Kathie had a big crush on Peter! Kathie got to know him further through mutual friends Ronalda Hutton and Peter MacDonald and they became fast friends. Many of the conversations that they would have would be about what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives. They both loved their jobs but felt like something was missing and they wanted more. When she asked him if he could have any job what would it be he said; “I’d like to know that my job was going to work in a show.” She asked him why not and when he replied that he didn’t have a regular show she suggested that the two of them put one off and so they did! They had humble beginnings. At first, since they were just starting out and unknown to the public Peter and Kathie had to drag people from off the streets and pay them to come see the show! Now, Spirit is approaching 20 years and thriving! They have a show almost every night and quite often they sell out!

Their first show was in 1997 and was titled “Hard Tickets in High Society”. Peter Halley wrote it with Shelley Neville. Peter writes the majority of Spirit’s shows. A lot of people think that it must be such fun for Peter to write these shows. It’s actually a lot of hard work. A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into it. To date, they have done 66 shows, 40 of which are originals! They have done approximately 10,000 shows in total! Spirit’s shows have had a wide variety of themes. Duets (“Go Duet Yourself”), musical men (“Women Doin’ Men”), tributes (“Feelin’ Groovy”, “Sinatra On The Rocks”, “Viva Lost Elvis”), and of course Newfoundland (“Skeets, Snobs & Peppermint Nobs”, “Our Celtic Spirit… Written In Crayon”)!

Newfoundlanders are not the only people that Spirit has performed for. They have performed in many other places! In 1998 they went on a cross-Canada tour with the Ennis Sisters to promote Newfoundland tourism. Also on September 20th, 2002 they performed “Nunsense” in the Waterford Light Opera Festival. The IBP (Ireland Business partnerships) gave Spirit $10,000 to help them along with this endeavor. They were the only Canadian troupe selected to perform and they competed against shows such as “Les Misérables”, “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Godspell”. They didn’t win the competition but they did win the adjudicators choice award.

Spirit has won many awards in their 20 years of existence and rightfully so! Some of them include the 1998 Tyrone Guthrie award from the Stratford Festival, the 1999 Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador Ambassadors award, 1999 City of St. John’s Event of the Year award and the 2002 Cultural Tourism award for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Spirit has performed in many venues. They began at the Majestic Theater. They operated there the whole summer of 1997. However, they found it difficult that the venue was also a bar and that smoking was allowed in the venue. That September they scouted out somewhere else to go. They came upon the architectural beauty of Cathedral Street, the Masonic Temple!

Masonic Temple

The beautiful Masonic Temple located at 6 Cathedral Street in Downtown St. John’s.

Absolutely gorgeous isn’t it?! Here’s a video tour, guided by Peter so you can see just how beautiful it is inside and out.

Eventually, Spirit left the Masonic Temple and moved to Theatre at St. John’s Lane. In 2008, the Temple went up for sale. Spirit placed a bid on it but they lost. A couple from Vancouver won the building. They wanted to turn it into a BnB (Bed and Breakfast). Sadly, however, they ran into a few minor problems. A radiator exploded and they sprung a leak and owed $32,000. Adding on to their issues, the city wouldn’t let them transform the Masonic into a BnB because of the historical significance of the building. So, they had a large, historical beauty and nothing to do with it. They saw a Spirit of Newfoundland show and thought that what they did would work really well in the Masonic Temple. Peter and Kathie met with the couple and they sold them the Temple! It’s been Spirit’s home ever since!

My favorite part of a night out at Spirit is at the end of the night when the cast sings the Spirit of Newfoundland song. It’s an absolutely beautiful song that was written by Shelley Neville, Peter, and Kathie. Every time I go to Spirit, I stand, put my hand on my heart and sing along with the cast when they sing this song. I’m flooded with a feeling of happiness and pride every time I hear it! At first, when Spirit was just starting they didn’t know what the show was going to be about but they wanted a song with a key message, so Peter lived with the song for a few days and eventually came up with “Spirit of Newfoundland”. Because they were just starting out they would use this song to plug their company. They would go to government agencies, tourism groups and anyone else dealing with the tourist trade, ask them for 5 minutes of their time, explain that they were putting off a summer show and then sing them the song.

My first Spirit show was in 2007. I was 10 years old and my parents took me to see “Viva Lost Elvis” at the Majestic Theatre. I was at the Buskers Festival that day and got music notes painted on my face to wear to the show! My 10-year-old mind was blown that night! I was mesmerized by the lights, the music, the dancing, everything about the show! I loved every minute of it! To this day, that childlike wonder is still there. Each time I see a show at Spirit I’m mesmerized by the pretty colors of the lights, the beautiful singing, the incredible dancing, etc. It’s magic and it makes my heart so happy!

I will willingly admit that I am a Spirit of Newfoundland junkie! I have seen 29 of their shows! Some of them were so good that I’ve seen them multiple times! It’s so hard for me to pick a favorite because I loved every single one that I’ve seen, but if I had to narrow it down, this is my top 5.

5: “Beatles: Back In The N.F.L.D” (2013): A magical mystery tour through the Beatles songbook. My favorite part of this show was “Beatles: Through The Ages” where they took Beatles songs and adapted them to different genres. A Newfoundland version of “When I’m 64” for example. That was great but my favorite part of that segment was when they rapped “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”!! So cool!

beatles

When I say “Maxwell” you say “Silver hammer”!

4: “Where Once They Stood” (2016×2): An emotional roller coaster of a show that depicts the story of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and their involvement in the First World War. This show will make you laugh, cry and feel proud to be a Newfoundlander. It’s a show that everybody, especially Come From Away’s must see! Its one of the best shows that Spirit of Newfoundland has done!

susy

Sister Suzy’s sewing shirts for soldiers!

3: “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (2015): This was a touching, funny, slightly scary and all around wonderful show! It takes us through the life cycle of a relationship from first dates to marriage to kids and onward. “Funerals Are For Dating” is my favorite part. It’s so sweet!

picture-file-picture

“And Now… The Parents”

2: “Grinch, Dressing & Gravy” (2014): Best Birthday gift ever! I went to see this show to celebrate my 17th Birthday. I even dressed up as Cindy-Lou Who! Cindy and Grinch The Grinch is one of my favorite Christmas stories! I loved the Newfoundland… I mean Whofoundland twist that Peter put on this tale. I liked it when he went mummering. My favorite part though was the twist ending!

1: “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop” (2011, 2013, 2016×2): I’ve seen this show 4 times and would gladly come back and see it a dozen more! It never stops being fun! This show is my most favorite because ABBA is one of my favorite bands. Rocking out to all my favorite ABBA songs is a ton of fun and hearing the beautiful ballads makes me smile and sometimes tear up. Side note, it’s really too bad that Shelley has stopped doing “Slipping Through My Fingers” in the show. She did it the first time I saw this show in 2011 and it tugged really hard at my heartstrings. It was so emotional and beautifully sung that it brought me to tears! I think they should put it back in the show.

ABBA show

Another reason why “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop” is my favorite Spirit show because the night I first saw it, April Fools Day 2011, was the night I met Peter. During the show, he told the audience that his favorite ABBA song was one that was sung by the girls but was from the perspective of two men. He asked if anyone in the audience knew what it was. I assumed that question answering protocol there was the same as it was at school so I raised my hand to answer. Peter, being a former schoolteacher was taken aback by this. He said that he felt like he was back in his classroom! He called on me and I made a guess. It was an incorrect one (I guessed “SOS” and the answer was “Fernando”) but at least I tried! Later in the show, he asked another question, if anyone in the audience had a favorite ABBA song that hadn’t been sung yet. I did! Again I put up my hand to answer. Peter saw it and was again astonished by my politeness. He told the women that he was talking to that their answers were void now because they didn’t raise their hands! After the show, I got to meet Peter! I was pleased that he remembered me as “the girl in the back who was raising her hand.”. We introduced ourselves and chatted about the show. I thought Peter was very nice. I liked him and could tell that he liked me. We kept in touch and got to know each other more and more and quickly became best friends.

Everyone at Spirit is lovely! They are always smiling and are very friendly. I’m not accepted by many neurotypical people so it makes me and my heart smile that I’m accepted and welcome at Spirit and I haven’t got to worry about being ridiculed or bullied. The staff at Spirit are my 2nd family. I feel blessed to know them, have them as my friends and work with them.

Speaking of work, for the past three years, I’ve had a seasonal job as a jack of all trades at Spirit! I do everything that needs to be done! I polish silverware, package screech cake, advertise the shows on Facebook, transcribe scripts, take inventory, etc. I love my job! It’s awesome that I get to wake up in the morning and come to such a happy, accepting and fun place! The work I do doesn’t even feel like work. It’s so much fun! Having such amazing co-workers as I mentioned above is wonderful too. That’s one of my favorite things about my job! I can’t wait to come back to work this summer!

I’ve made so many lasting memories and lifelong friends at Spirit, as have thousands of other people. Thank you for the music Spirit of Newfoundland! Congratulations on 20 years!

Leah

Last Day at Spirit 2016


Hey, blog world! Today, my summer work term at Spirit of Newfoundland came to an end. I’m sad that it did. I had a dazlious summer working there! As I’ve said countless times, and will continue to say countless more, it’s the best place in the world! Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favorite day of the week because I got to go to work!

I love all my co-workers, and yes, even you John, though you are a hard case (John is one of the bartenders at Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a sweetheart but at the same time he’s a hard case too! He loves pulling people’s legs and getting them on the go!) It was so nice to see all my old friends again and make some new ones! Miss Leah is really going to miss Jordan now that she has to go to school. Jordan is new to Spirit and he does marketing and social media. He made me smile! I thought it was so sweet how he always called me miss Leah! I’m also very thankful for Penny! She’s who you talk to when you call Spirit on the phone to make a reservation. I’m terrible at remembering to sign in and sign out every day (sorry Bridget! (our accountant)) and Penny would always remind me to do so. I don’t know what I would have done without her! What I love the most about my co-workers is that they accept me for who I am. An Autistic globophobe who keeps a stuffed dragon in her purse (I take Stuffy out and hug him when I feel sad, scared or stressed. It really helps.) They don’t pass judgment or make fun of me. That means the world to me. A lot of neurotypical (“normal”) people are unaccepting of me and I get bullied a lot. It’s wonderful that I don’t have to worry about that at Spirit!

My bosses, Paul, Peter and Kathie were all wonderful as well. I couldn’t ask for three better people to work for! My favorite boss related memory from this summer happened last week. I had to take a two-day First Aid course as a mandatory requirement for the Early Childhood Education program at CONA which starts next week! Yikes!! Anyway, part of the course was a test on the second day. I needed to get 75% or higher in order to pass and receive my certification. Last Thursday, while I was on my break, Peter helped me study! I really appreciated that. We focused on severe bleeding and how to bandage different types of wounds and other injuries. My favorite part of our study session was when Peter practiced bandaging my head!

This summer, I spent the majority of my time working with the unsung heroes of Spirit of NL, those who set up the dining room. Meg, Alex, Matt, James, Sarah and all the others work their butts off so you can have a fancy table to sit at during the show! They have to plot out the room and figure out where all the tables should go and which party should sit where then they put tablecloths on each table and set them all! I feel that they don’t get acknowledged as much and kind of fly under the radar and aren’t as appreciated by our patrons, so I’d like to take a minute to thank you all for what you do!

I was always flat out when I helped them. I had a million jobs to do and I loved it! I polished the silverware, folded napkins, helped set the tables, refilled the sugars, replaced the tea lights, filled all the water jugs and tended to the partridge in the pear tree! Lol! Work was never boring, which is one of the things I loved most about the job. There was always something to do and I enjoyed doing what I was doing! It didn’t feel like work at all! I liked folding the napkins and polishing the silverware best. I found both of those tasks relaxing.

Today, as I said was my last day. It was a hard day. I wasn’t ready to say my goodbyes!! I cherished every second I spent with everyone today. I got the most wonderful surprise from everyone this evening. It was really warm in the dining room, so I sat in the bar awhile to have a drink of water and a little break. I noticed that literally everyone in the building had suddenly gathered in the Screech Room. I wondered what was going on. I went up to Naomi and said “What’s up? Is there a staff meeting now? Am I supposed to be in here too?” She said no, this meeting wasn’t for me. Then Peter chimed in saying that people wearing berets weren’t allowed in this meeting! Little rascal! I had on my favorite purple beret! In spite, I took it off. Everyone laughed. Then Peter said, “ok, there’s no purple allowed in this meeting!” I was head to toe in purple (it’s my favorite color)! Aside from my beret, I had on a purple necklace and a purple dress I inherited from my nan. In that moment, I was thinking “Gee, they really don’t want me in here. Something’s up.” Kathie the CEO and Bridget the accountant soon entered the screech room and all of a sudden Peter began playing the piano. Everyone started singing “For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow” and at first, I thought, “Is it Bridget’s Birthday?” then I realized, “Wait a minute, this is my last day. Holy cow, it’s for me!” The second I made that realization, I started crying. It was so nice of them to throw me a surprise goodbye party! The entire building stopped what they were doing to wish me well, sing me a song and say goodbye. That meant so much to me! I was very touched. I entered the Screech Room and saw on the table there was a piece of screech cake with a candle, a gift bag, and a card. I thought it was so sweet of them to give me those things! I blew out the candle on the piece of screech cake they gave me and read their goodbye card. I came very close to crying again! Their words were all so thoughtful and beautiful! My Spirit family is the absolute best! I tell you, they are all angels that are very good at keeping their wings hidden.

Another highlight of my last day was giving a special gift to Peter, Paul, and Kathie. Last summer, they implemented the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund because their building, the Masonic Temple is 118 years old and is starting to deteriorate. It’s in dire need of repairing. Because Spirit and the Masonic Temple mean so much to me, I knew I wanted to do something to help them with this endeavor. I started selling my paintings to raise money for them! I decided today to give them their first check. In a year, I managed to raise $161!!! I was so proud when I handed the check to Peter, Paul and Kathie. It had only been a year and I already had raised so much! Knowing that every penny would be going back to my Spirit family and help to make my 2nd home beautiful again made my heart overflow with happiness! Long live the Masonic Temple and Spirit of Newfoundland! If you would like to buy a painting and help me help the Masonic Temple, please visit my Facebook page!

The end of the day was the hardest! Though I knew I had to because mom was outside waiting, I didn’t want to leave! There were a lot of tearful goodbyes. As I walked down the steps of the Masonic Temple, I turned, looked back at it, said “I’ll miss you!” and blew it a kiss.

I miss everyone already and can’t wait to come back to Spirit in November to celebrate my Birthday by seeing the Christmas show! Don’t have too much fun without me guys!

Leah

16 Summer Memories


In response to this week’s Discover Challenge!

Hey, blog world! There are two weeks left to summer! Where the firetruck did it go?! It feels like only yesterday it started! This has been an amazing summer for me and I’ll be sad to see it end soon. I thought I’d share with you 16 of my favorite things I did this summer

1: I was a Jr. Leader at VBS. Every year, my Church holds a VBS (Vacation Bible School) during the first week of summer. This year, our theme was Cave Quest. As I do every year, I volunteered as a Jr. Leader! I absolutely love doing it! This year, I helped out with the Imagination Station and KidVid Cinema. At Imagination Station we did science experiments! On day one, we broke open a rock to look at the geodes and crystals inside, on day two, we gave the kids flying toys that they needed to build up friction in their hands to be able to fly (they held the toy in their palm, rubbed their hands together and then let it go) and on the last and my least favorite day, we learned about static electricity by rubbing a balloon on a carpet, then sticking it to a pole and watching the spark! Yikes!! I was not told there would be balloons until the head leader of the Imagination Station brought one out and explained to the kids what we were going to do!! The second I saw it, my heart started racing and I was filled with anxiety and panic! I couldn’t focus on what was going on because my mind was solely focused on the balloon and the overwhelming fear that something would happen and it would pop! I was petrified and couldn’t wait for the experiment to be over! As soon as our first group was done, I told the head leader about my globophobia and she was very understanding and helped me find another station that needed an extra helper for the day. I was assigned to KidVid Cinema! There, we watched a short video about a young girl who visited Africa to help build a school and deliver backpacks full of supplies. She then started her own thrift store to raise money to continue helping out those children! Then we talked about what we watched and the children shared stories of how they helped others! It was sweet.

2: I got published in the Herald, twice!!! The Newfoundland Herald is the #1 entertainment magazine in Newfoundland and Labrador. They have a Young Islanders column where they feature articles written by young people from around the province. I love writing and it’s been a dream of mine to have my work published. When mom found out about Young Islanders, she told me about it and I set to writing right away! I composed an article about the musical theatre scene in our province. I sent it to the Herald and a week later, I got an e-mail back saying that they liked it and will publish it! I couldn’t believe it! I was speechless and nearly cried tears of joy! Something I wrote is finally being published! I was so proud of myself! When I picked up my copy, seeing my words on the pages was so surreal to me! Something I wrote was in the most popular magazine in our province! Wow! A short while later, I sent in another article and got that one published too! That was about the Best Buddies program at MUN. They are going to publish another of my articles in the Back to School edition of the Herald so be on the lookout for that!

3: I read almost every day. My summer was full of books! I’ve toured the Wonka chocolate factory, gotten an inside look at Tyler Oakley’s life outside of YouTube, cheered on Bruce Bogtrotter as he ate the Trunchbull’s cake and right now, I’m deep in the Mortmain Mountains with the Baudelaire orphans, trying to solve the mystery of the Snicket file and VFD. As you can see, I’ve had so many incredible adventures! Twice a week before I go to work, mom drops me off at Chapters bookstore to spend the morning. I get a drink at Starbucks and then head off to the children’s section. Right now, as I said, I’m reading Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and am loving the books! I’m always so excited to go to Chapters and see what happens to the orphans next! Their books are so hard to put down! I hate having to leave on Thursday afternoons because Thursday is the last day of my workweek so I’ll have to wait until the following Tuesday to come back to Chapters and read more! I’m always left with a cliffhanger and lots of questions! The books are so full of mystery, adventure, suspense and a bit of humor here and there. For those of you who haven’t read them, this series is about Klaus, Violet, and Sunny Baudelaire. They are… or rather, were, children of rich parents and they lived in a mansion! I’m using past tense because one day, during a trip to the beach, the family’s financial advisor comes to get them to tell them that their parents have died and their house has burned down. It all goes downhill for them from there, poor things. I’m nearly finished #10, “The Slippery Slope” and can’t wait until tomorrow to go to Chapters and see how it ends!

#4: My boyfriend and I had a water fight! That was one of my favorite days of the summer! For his Birthday back in May, I gave my boyfriend Glen some date coupons. One of them was for a water fight! He cashed it in last month on a scorching hot day. My Niece and her friends joined us. They are only 11 years old, but put a water gun in their hands and they turn into Rambo! Glen and I were soaking wet, but the girls had barely a speck of water on them! They were too fast and sneaky for us! Even so, we all had a blast that day!

#5: I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I love cooking and baking! Because I had a lot of free time on my hands this summer, I spent a lot of it in the kitchen. I tried my hand at a few new recipes this summer! Thanks to Chef Michael Smith and his Back to Basics cookbook, I learned how to make homemade chicken strips, barbecue black bean burrito’s, his version of chili and lots of other things! A few of the recipes I tried were a flop (I’m looking at you peanut butter brownies and toasted marshmallow milkshake) but at least I had fun trying! Hands down, my favorite new recipe that I tried this summer was fudge. In high school, the special needs students made fudge every Friday and it was to die for! I swore I heard angels singing in my head every time I took a bite! I bought one, sometimes two pieces every Friday for 3½ years (I had to repeat world history last September!) Because I loved it so much, the teacher gave me her recipe on my last day of school. A few weeks ago, I used it for the very first time. It was perfect! Just as I remembered it! It brought me back to the special needs classroom (I ate recess and lunch with them every day)! I’ll certainly make this recipe again and again!

#6: I’m back to work! I’m working in heaven this summer! Spirit of Newfoundland dinner theatre! My job at Spirit is always one of the highlights of my summer! I help set up the dining room for the shows. I love the work I do and the people I’m working with! I consider them not my co-workers and bosses, but my family. While I loved every day at work, I think my favorite day was when we did a live video to promote New Amsterdam peach vodka! We had a fancy hat party! I love fancy hats!Hats

#7: I attended some absolutely fabulous shows! Hello, my name is Leah and I’m addicted to theater! The majority of my allowance and paycheck goes to box offices! Going to a theater to see a musical or a play is so much better in my opinion than spending money on some material thing that I’ll just get bored with over time! This summer I saw three shows, two of which were at Spirit of Newfoundland. There I saw “Sinatra On the Rocks” and “Where Once They Stood”. “Sinatra On The Rocks” was lots of fun! That was a tribute to Frank Sinatra and it told of how he once performed at the Harmon Air Base in Stephenville. My favorite part was when Evan Smith played the piano backward! That absolutely blew my mind!! “Where Once They Stood” was such a powerful show. It was quite the emotional rollercoaster. At times it was heartbreaking, other times it was laugh out loud funny and it also had some very touching and heartwarming moments as well. It’s one of the best shows Spirit of Newfoundland has done! It’s the story of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and their involvement with the First World War. I highly recommend seeing both of those shows, if you choose “Where Once They Stood” bring Kleenex! You’ll need them!! For more information or to make a reservation, call 579-3023 or click here.

I also saw Stanley Braxton’s “Blank: The Musical” at the LSPU Hall. I can now check seeing Stanley Braxton off of my bucket list!! Stanley Braxton is an improv comedy group from right here in Newfoundland. My boyfriend and I had a date night to see their show a few weeks ago and neither of us could breathe we were laughing so hard! In one sketch, Liam was trying to get Alana to do the Macarena! So she would clue in to what he was doing, every time he talked he would do one of the moves! It’s a bit difficult to explain with words, if you had been there, you would have cracked up too! In the second act of their show, they improvised a musical that as per audience suggestion was called “Love Changes Things”. That was my favorite part of the night. The singing voices of the Stanley’s were amazing! Also, there were points in the show where I had a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart and came close to crying happy tears! It was a story of Alana and Mike who were going to get married. Their parents were polar opposites of each other! Alana’s were very soft spoken and gentle. They gave Mike a marshmallow as a wedding present! Mike’s parents, Rod and Maude were ruffians who only felt anger and loved beating people up. There was one point in the show where they ate a marshmallow given to them by Alana’s mother and found they enjoyed it. That put a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart! When Alana’s mother tried on Alana’s pair of “shit kicker” boots to try and compromise and fit in with Mike’s family, that made me laugh! The ending was the sweetest part, they all group hugged! I think this show should win a Tony!

#8: I went camping in Butterpot Park. My family’s day to day lives are always super duper busy, even now during the summer! My parents and I all work, dad even so on some weekends, my Niece plays soccer and spends a lot of time on the field and I have quite the social life, always hanging out with friends somewhere! The only family time we get these days is Tuesday and Wednesday nights when we sit on the couch together, share a bag of popcorn and watch “America’s Got Talent”! That’s why I always look forward to our annual week of camping in Butterpot. Just the four of us together in nature able to have some family time! We had a barbecue and campfire every day, we went for walks together around the campsite, my niece and I went to the beach together and I waded in the water up to my ankles and watched as she caught little fishes. It was such a wonderful week!

#9: I reconnected with some old friends! I used to take part in the Social Thinking group at the Autism Center. That was a group for teenage girls with Autism where we learned lots of important social skills like social boundaries for example (we did the Circles program, which I think was my favorite part of Social Thinking). I dropped out of the group two years ago because there was too much on my plate. I missed my friends there a lot. Last week, I arrived at the Autism Center for sewing club and saw my friend Kathleen from Social Thinking there! I was thrilled that she had joined sewing club and now I’d get to see her more often! We caught each other up on what’s been going on in our lives and I helped her make pajama pants. It was a fun day! I can’t wait to see her next week! Last Saturday, I invited another of my social thinking friends, Erin out to the Geo Center because they were having a family fun day. We danced, laughed, got our faces painted and did lots of other fun things! That was one of the best days ever! It made me so happy getting to see her again!

#10: I did a lot of walking: I try and do it as often as I can because I like it and it’s a great way to keep in shape. Every Monday I walk to the drugstore 5 minutes from my house to look at the Herald, sometimes I’ll leave Chapters early to walk to the Toys R Us down the street to look at the board games, Lego sets, and art supplies and I also love walking around downtown and window shopping! On Water Street especially! I think my favorite walk I took this summer was with my Best Buddy Allison, she picked me up after work one day and we walked down Signal Hill together! I loved looking around me at all the beautiful scenery. We were both beat out afterward but we had a lovely time!

#11: I competed in a rhythmic gymnastics tournament! I’m a member of the CBS Brightstars Special Olympics rhythmic gymnastics team. This summer, we competed against Mount Pearl and St. John’s. We did a rope routine and a ribbon routine. Rope was my favorite, it was set to Hannah Montanna’s “Hoedown Throwdown” and was the easiest of the two routines!! I won a silver medal for my rope routine and a 4th place ribbon for the ribbon routine! gymnastics winnings.jpg I was very proud of myself and everyone else on my team as well! Go Brightstars!!

#12: I went to summer camp: the Special Olympics league in CBS always kickstarts the summer by having an overnight campout at the Lavrock Center. That’s always such an awesome day! We had a scavenger hunt, we painted picture frames, we had a campfire, I brought my guitar and we had a sing-along and there were even awards! We won medals based on our performance in the various sports in Special O during the year. Along with rhythmic gymnastics, I also participate in bowling with Special O and my team and I won many awards for it that night. My team won bronze for highest points standings for the year and gold for highest points over average, and I myself won gold for the highest double for a female! I even won the female athlete of the year award!!! Again, I was so proud of myself and everyone on my team!!

#13 My boyfriend and I spent a day with our best friend: As I detailed in Swimmin’ In The Rain, my boyfriend Glen and I spent a day with our best friend Peter a few weeks ago. That was another one of the best days of my summer! We swam,were treated to a concert, played BeanBoozled… ok, maybe that last part wasn’t so nice, sorry Peter!! All in all, it was I think a perfect day!

#14: I recorded a radio ad: Two weeks ago, I got a call from one of the instructors of the Worktopia program at the Autism Center. Worktopia is an employment readiness program that teaches essential job skills and provides job shadowing opportunities to adults on the Autism spectrum. I had a lot of fun in that program and learned a lot too! Over the phone, the instructor told me that she was planning to do a radio ad to get the word out about the next semester of the program. I was the first person she thought of to record it! I was flattered! A few days later, I arrived at Steele Communications to record my ad. It was incredible! I’d been in the building many, many times but only to pick up my winnings from K-Rock from the lady at the front desk (I enter and win contests on that station quite often!) As we were walking to the place where I was to record my ad, I saw Pete Soucy in his studio hosting Backtalk! It was really cool to see him in action! Getting to record my own ad was really cool too! Even more so when I heard myself on the radio!

#15: I did a lot of singing: I attended several open mic nights and kitchen parties at All Saints Parish and the S.U.F Hall. I love going out to those! There’s always good company, yummy food, and great music. It’s lots of fun getting up in front of the crowd and singing! I think my favorite performance I gave this summer was at a kitchen party at the S.U.F in July. I dressed up like an old lady and sang “Seven Old Ladies” and “The Mobile Goat“! Also that night, my friend Linda sang a hula song, so myself and a few other ladies snuck into the kitchen before she went on and put on grass skirts and leis and came out hula dancing to Linda’s song! That was so much fun! If you are in the Topsail area and are looking for something fun to do Saturday night, come on by the S.U.F Hall for an Open Mic night! Doors open at 7:00, the show begins at 8:00 and its $5 admission at the door!

#16: I sold a lot of my paintings! For those of you who don’t know, I’m an artist and I sell my paintings to raise money for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund! Business has been booming this summer! I sold lots of my artwork! Every sale made me extremely happy because it meant more money for the Masonic! If you want to find out more information on the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund click here and if you want to view my artwork and maybe buy a painting, click here!

My summer still has many fantastic things in store! To name a few, on Thursday and Friday, I’m going to the St. John Ambulance headquarters to get certified in level C first aid and next Tuesday, I’m going to see “Where Once They Stood” again! My poppy and his friend and I are going together this time. What’s your favorite thing you’ve done this summer? Tell me in the comments!

 

Leah