Week 33: DC Children’s Hospital Visit

Project: Children’s Hospital visit for the Lion King

Actual Time Taken: 1 hour

 

What do Chris Pratt and I have in common?

 

Probably a lot. 

 

But one thing that we both did a few weeks ago was visit Children’s Hospitals! (Granted, he went as Star Lord from Gaurdians of the Galaxy and I went as “That Little Asian Dancer in the Lion King Tour,” but still…)

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This post is Chris Pratt approved. (I assume.)

And I know it sounds strange, but I legitimately get excited to visit a Children’s Hospital. There are so many sad stories, difficult situations, and sick kids that it’s hard to imagine being excited to visit such a place. But every time we as a cast get a chance to visit, I look forward to it.

 

I’m excited to see the smiling faces of the kids facing seemingly insurmountable odds. I can’t wait to sit and talk to the weary parents and connect with them on such a human level though such a surreal theatrical show such as ours. I always hope to find someone who not only knows our show (as most everyone we meet as at least seen the animated movie once) but who is also passionate about dance, music, theater, or any of the arts.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 2.53.38 PMMy cast mates making a difference! Love my co-workers!

This past visit did not disappoint. We arrived early in the morning (9:45 am is the crack of dawn for us night-owl entertainers!) and were ushered into a small arts and crafts room. Some of the patients were already coloring away on the lion masks that Disney had sent ahead, and stopped outlining the mane of the mask in purple and pink long enough to shoot us quick, shy smiles.

 

We navigated our way though the rolling IV stands, shin-high chair and table sets, and wheelchairs to meet the many mini-smiling faces on their level. One beautiful little girl I sat with was busy coloring in her hospital  gown, and finally placed her aqua and purple colored lion mask on her perfectly bald head with such pride that I couldn’t help but smile.

 

Another young girl I met was also going though some kind of treatment (we tend not to ask and try to keep it on the positive stuff- less diagnoses and doctors, more music and laughter helps to heal, me thinks.) talked to me so openly and happily about her love of singing and music. She said she needed to work on her dancing a bit, and once she was released from the hospital and free of her wheelchair, she would get right on it, to which I encouraged her to keep persuing her dream of being on stage no matter what.

 

But to be honest, my words felt so hollow. What inspiration could I give this strong, brave, beautiful girl who is battling her disease and yet still dreams of a life on stage? I feel like sometimes I get excited to go to these Children’s Hospital visits for a completely selfish reason- because these children always end up inspiring me in the most deep and profound way. People say that us visiting with them our stories of life on the road, giving out Lion King swag, and showing the videos of our show brings so much joy to the children and families dealing with serious illnesses, but the truth is the light that they bring to my life far eclipses anything I could ever offer them.

 

So thank you to the Children’s Hospitals, the Lion King, and the young children and families who are fighting for their health, and still allow a moment of joy to pass between us. These visits always affect me in the most profound way, and I am already excited for my next visit.

 

Maybe next time I’ll go as Gamora for extra fun-zies.

 

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Often mistaken for She-Hulk, I’m sure…

Week Seven: Random Acts of Kindness Weak (Week….)

Project: Love Letters for the Elderly and Random Acts of Kindness Week

Actual Time Taken: 35 minutes

Blast. Missed my weekly hour goal again. But at least that “A” for effort is there, right??

I finally finished up the Love Letters for the elderly program by dropping off our 300+ Valentines Day cards to the Meals on Wheels of Honolulu. (The entire campaign raised over 100,000 cards nationwide, which is nothing short of amazing!) I’m happy to report that they were completely taken aback by the volume of cards and were extremely appreciative. It felt so good to drop them off to the office and see the surprise on their faces at the sheer number of construction paper hearts.

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“Hearts” and crafts. Ha!

Also, Facebook, where I (sadly) ingest most of my breaking social news, informed me that it was Random Acts of Kindness Week. Feeling a bit lazy after such a concentrated effort on the Love Letters project for so many weeks, I decided to make this the focus of my hour of volunteering for the week.

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Random Acts of Kindness RAKS… apparently.

To kick off Random Act of Kindness (or RAK, as the graphic above calls it) week, I pulled out the ‘big guns,’ and bought a $10 Jamba Juice card (after purchasing my own Strawberry Raspberry Banana with energy booster, natch). I instructed the slightly confused cashier to give it to the next customer who came into the store. I was lucky enough to see this person come in as I waited for my order to be filled, and smiled quietly to myself into my matcha green tea shot as the woman receiving the card reacted with surprise and delight. She covered her mouth in shock and kept saying “No way, no way!

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My friend Hero and I downing our matcha green tea shots with our brave faces on…

Yes way, lady. It’s the power of the RAK.

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Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness. #6 is something weird like “try a new fruit,”

so I guess that falls under being kind to your… body?

The next day, I brought sushi to a friend at work (Ok, not so random… but still kindright?) because I know she loves it and it absolutely made her smile. Wednesday, I went on a scuba diving trip and ended up giving a ride to some people on the trip who I had just met but who were stranded at the dive shop, but that really felt like something I would do any given day, so I’m not sure how much that ‘counted.’ (Also, I’m not sure if I know who’s actually ‘counting,’ either. So there’s that…)

Thursday night, while grocery shopping with my boyfriend, I realized I hadn’t done a RAK Act (as I’ve now coined it, ahem…) for the day, so at the checkout register I bought the Kit Kats on sale, 4 for $3 (what a steal!) and gave one to the cashier, one to the person behind us in line, one to my boyfriend, and one to myself. (It’s kinda like the list says about trying new fruit, except I’m being nice to my tongue and not necessarily my body…)

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So this article came out yesterday. Timely! (And strange, what’s a Chicken Dinner candy bar?!)

Friday I fell behind and had planned to make up for it over the weekend, by doing lots of extra ‘acts,’ but by Saturday morning I found myself in the hospital, doped up on morphine for the first (and hopefully last) time of my life.

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Oh don’ t you worry. I checked in at the hospital on Facebook. Natch.

A little personal medical history: four years ago I herniated a disk in my neck. This is one of the many party gifts that a career in dance leaves you with- numerous, random, and sometimes serious injuries you get to nurse into your twilight years. Anywho, Friday night I felt something strange in my neck while I was dancing on stage, but ignored it, as we dancers are used to ignoring most pain… that is, until you can’t anymore. That moment came for me sometime around 6 am on Saturday morning, when I woke up in a full neck spasm and unable to move whatsoever.

Long story short, a trip to the ER and a litany of drugs knocked me out for the rest of the week, thereby stealing my chances to continue my RAK week (yes, lame excuse, going to the hospital. I know…) but I think I’ll try to sneak a few acts in this week (I think I’m about three behind?) to finish out my RAK week strong! (My neck, on the other hand, will be taking it nice and eeeeasy…)

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