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A Year of Yes: Sometimes all you can do is breathe

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

The stresses of life pile up from time to time. These last few weeks were a little rocky. Stress at work. Apartment issues. The nerves associated with putting on a live show in New York City on a cold Monday night in January. A really not-great date. Not enough time to write. One afternoon, I was sitting with all of that and I realized I was holding my breath. This is what I do with stress. I get very still. I get quiet. I hold. I wait.

I’ve found that the breath is the beginning and end of everything for me. A thought. A feeling. An action. A reaction. If I can get my breath moving, my spirit comes back to life. Then the mind. Then the body. And if I can keep the breath going, these pieces of me begin to work together. It’s a slow but reliable process.

Sometimes breathing moment to moment is what I can do. Sometimes it’s all I can do. And that’s enough. That’s the seed where solutions begin. And I always have access to it. It’s always an option, and so I take it.

A Year of Yes: NYC’s Secrets & Lies at CAVEAT was a sold out show

I am so excited to tell you that my live storytelling show last night was a sold out performance. It was packed and we continued to sell standing room at the door. The storytellers were amazing, the audience was fantastic, and the team that runs CAVEAT is first-rate. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have had this wonderful opportunity to showcase storytellers and the secrets of this amazing city that I love so much.

A Year of Yes: My live storytelling event is tonight—NYC’s Secrets and Lies at CAVEAT

My live storytelling show, New York City’s Secrets and Lies, is happening tonight at 7:30pm at CAVEAT, located at 21A Clinton Street, New York, New York 10002. $12 tickets are on sale now on the CAVEAT website: http://caveat.nyc/event/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies/. I hope you can join us! Doors open at 7pm. Bar will be open before, during, and after the show.

Can you tell the difference between a secret and a lie? Five expert storytellers spin incredible tales about the secret pasts of NYC locations you walk by every day. All the stories are true except for one. If you can identify the lie, you’ll be in the running to win a pair of tickets to a secret NYC event.

Stories Include:
“Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live in the New York Public Library?”
“A starlet, a millionaire playboy, and a world-renowned architect take center stage during the trial of the century.”
“An entire building in NYC has been stolen? Yes. Twice, actually.”
“How spite, paranoia, and the quest to throw wild house parties led to the creation of one of NYC’s hottest, most secret nightclubs.”

Host: Christa Avampato has a deep and unabiding passion for New York City and the secrets it holds. She began her career managing Broadway shows and national theater tours, and now works with performing arts organizations and museums to help them use technology to grow their audiences. She’s been an invited speaker on the power of the imagination at SXSW, Games for Change, New York University, and Columbia University. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Royal Media Partners magazines, PBS.org, HuffPost, Megyn Kelly TODAY, and Cheddar. Dedicated to helping young people find their own voices, she’s worked with 826national.org, Sesame Workshop, New York Public Library, University of Pennsylvania (her alma mater), and Cornell Tech. This fall her young adult fantasy novel was published by Possibilities Publishing Co. Christa earned her MBA at the Darden School at the University of Virginia. You will always find her sharing her never-ending curiosity on Twitter @christanycInstagram @christarosenyc, and her daily blog christaavampato.com.

STORYTELLERS: 

Allison Huntington Chase, CEO of Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tours in Brooklyn.  Allison grew up in Hartford, CT and has a degree in Screenplay Writing from the School of Visual Arts. As a child, her father created one of the world’s largest haunted houses, which was featured in New York TimesEntertainment Tonight, and Newsweek as “one of the best haunted houses in the country,” thus making her the 2nd generation of ghost tours.

Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped Cities, a web magazine and tour company based in New York City. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and  Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture. She is also a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Pre-College Division. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. Michelle appears regularly as a guest speaker in documentaries, on television, and at conferences on urban issues. Originally from New York, she has traveled to over forty countries and is always looking for the next adventure.

Sarah Laskow is a senior writer at Atlas Obscura, an online magazine that covers the world’s hidden wonders. She writes about cities, the relationships between people and nature (plants in particular), and obscure histories. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, and many other fine print and online publications.
Alex Neuhausen is an engineer, musician, and venue owner. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He produces music which has been licensed for video games and television. His current project, “Strangers on the Internet,” has a forthcoming EP. He founded the legendary underground venue, Secret Loft, in a Brooklyn auto garage in 2013. Now in Manhattan, Secret Loft hosts a dozen events per month, spanning comedy, poetry, dance parties, live music, and circus and aerial dance shows. You can find a schedule of events (but not an address or phone number) at http://www.secretloftnyc.com, and you can see what you’re missing on Instagram @secretloftnyc.
Bridget Randolph is an NYC-based actor, writer and storyteller from small town Virginia. Bridget studied acting and performance with the Salon:Collective in London, UK before moving to New York; here she discovered the magical world of improv and storytelling thanks to the Magnet Theater (specifically, Rick Andrews and Adam Wade). Bridget has performed in Lady Sketch Show, the Everyone Is Sad show, and will be in Adam Wade’s Storytelling Series on January 6th. She is currently developing her first solo show. You can follow her on Twitter (@BridgetActs), and Instagram (@bridget.m.randolph), and find out about upcoming projects and shows at www.bridgetacts.com.
Carla Katz is Jersey born and bred storyteller and now lives in Hoboken. She debuted her solo show “Body Parts” at this year’s SOLOCOM 2017 at the Peoples Improv Theater. She has performed at numerous Moth StorySlams, at the Magnet Theatre, in “Adam Wade’s Storytelling Series”, and in front of her dog Finn.  Katz likes to get emotionally naked and she tells stories that expose the small dramas that make us laugh or cringe. By day, she is a labor union leader, lawyer, and political animal. By night, she gets naked and howls at the moon over Manhattan. Katz learned storytelling craft from fellow Hobokenite Adam Wade– 20-time Moth winner and
comic extraordinaire.

 

A Year of Yes: Two stories to make your Sunday—The Great Monarch Migration and buying textbooks for a student

I have to share these two stories with you because they encapsulate just why “yes” is the word I’m embracing for 2018:

Bookstore employee writes this on Facebook after “little old lady” shocks everyone at the register with her kindness to a student
http://dailyheadline.com/an-old-lady-paid-for-a-customers-books-then-she-said-this-and-left-him-tears/

Entomologist Phil Torres goes to Mexico to record the Great Monarch Migration. “This is what it’s like to be surrounded by a million butterflies.”

 

 

 

A Year of Yes: Meeting an inspirational scientist at The Explorer’s Club

The world is a magical place. At about 12:30am, I got a direct message on Twitter from a paleontologist whose work I greatly admire. (He discovered the largest dinosaur on record to-date.) He happened to be here for work and asked if I’d like to meet him at the Explorer’s Club before his evening train back to Philly. We met on Twitter in the Fall when I was tweeting about how much I loved his book, but I’ve never met him in real life. Since this is my Year of Yes, I accepted the invitation without hesitation. (And truth be told, even if this wasn’t my Year of Yes, I would have accepted!)

He has been a big supporter of my book and read it with his 10-year-old son. When I mentioned to him that I’d love to go to the Explorer’s Club because Emerson’s second book will have a scene there that will send her off on her next journey, he reached out to the head of public affairs and to their lead archivist to arrange for me to meet them during our visit today so that I would be given access to any help from them when writing my book. I. Was. Stunned.

Additionally, we talked about science education, the power of effective science communication, and dinosaurs (of course). I also learned a lot about his own personal and professional story that led him to where he is today. He is nothing short of inspirational. I honestly felt like I’ve known him for years and I could have stayed there for many hours chatting with him.

“Yes” is a powerful word. Kismet and synchronicity play a role for all of us if we stay open to possibility. Kindness and graciousness are immense gifts that cannot be measured. Twitter is an amazing tool to create connections that otherwise may never happen.

A Year of Yes: The Kirkus Review of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters

emerson-page-and-where-the-light-enters-6x9-front-backI’m so excited to share the Kirkus review of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Thanks to Kirkus for considering my book and for the incredibly kind words; I’m more motivated than ever to write book two!

“In this debut YA novel, the extraordinary truth behind the death of her mother kindles a teenager’s determination to claim her place in a world-threatening conflict between light and dark.

Odd things are happening around 13-year-old New Yorker Emerson Page, a girl who has suffered from severe anxiety since the death of her mother five years ago. The official cause of death is still unknown. The teen’s therapy dog, Friday, is her anchor; so is Columbia student Skylar, who stays with her when Emerson’s forensic linguist father is away. A trip to her favorite bookstore is the catalyst for puzzling events that begin with the gift of an old tome; the disturbing appearance of a part-metal, part-flesh woman named Cassandra; a howling storm; and a riot on the street under a sky “painted the color of chaos.” Indeed, mysteries and portentous happenings so abound that readers could well feel at sea if not for Avampato’s taut unveiling of a fantastical hidden world, where descendants of the nine Muses in Greek mythology must find a way to prevent the destruction of all human creative thoughts and endeavors by one of their own. Can Emerson be the key? The author takes her relatable heroine on a journey toward self-determination, strength of purpose, and the discovery of her own gifts of light and imagination. During Emerson’s odyssey, paintings come to life; books in a vast “Library of Imagination” represent nothing less than the lives of every creative mind on Earth, past and present; and the heroine faces the nightmare that is Cassandra’s dark world of “In-Between.” The multilayered plot and vivid prose amply illustrate the tale’s key themes: the importance of human imagination, the arts, and invention as well as the value in finding and sharing one’s light. A suspenseful fantasy that delivers a richly layered, thought-provoking plot infused with messages about self-realization and the significance of imagination and creativity.

Avampato may want to reconsider her statement, in her otherwise inspirational note about why she wrote her work, that there are “almost no” YA books “in which a female protagonist takes control of her own life and destiny.” Among the wealth of such novels: Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, Catherine Linka’s A Girl Called Fearless, and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.”

(On the this last point, I appreciate the push though stand by my belief that we do not have nearly enough YA novels that positively portray strong female characters. As support, I give you this short film by Rebel Girls that shows just how few positive role models girls have in literature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1Jbd4-fPOE

To that end, I’d be glad to have an open discussion about this, and to find ways to feature more powerful girls and women in stories.) 

A Year of Yes: My live storytelling show, New York City’s Secrets and Lies, at CAVEAT on Monday, January 29th

My live storytelling show, New York City’s Secrets and Lies, is happening at 7:30pm on Monday, January 29th at CAVEAT, located at 21A Clinton Street, New York, New York 10002. $12 tickets are on sale now on the CAVEAT website: http://caveat.nyc/event/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies/. I hope you can join us! Doors open at 7pm. Bar will be open throughout the show. Visit the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/events/983548008463724/

Can you tell the difference between a secret and a lie? Five expert storytellers spin incredible tales about the secret pasts of NYC locations you walk by every day. All the stories are true except for one. If you can identify the lie, you’ll be in the running to win a pair of tickets to a secret NYC event.

Stories Include:
“Did you ever wonder what it would be like to live in the New York Public Library?”
“A starlet, a millionaire playboy, and a world-renowned architect take center stage during the trial of the century.”
“An entire building in NYC has been stolen? Yes. Twice, actually.”
“How spite, paranoia, and the quest to throw wild house parties led to the creation of one of NYC’s hottest, most secret nightclubs.”

Host: Christa Avampato has a deep and unabiding passion for New York City and the secrets it holds. She began her career managing Broadway shows and national theater tours, and now works with performing arts organizations and museums to help them use technology to grow their audiences. She’s been an invited speaker on the power of the imagination at SXSW, Games for Change, New York University, and Columbia University. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Royal Media Partners magazines, PBS.org, HuffPost, Megyn Kelly TODAY, and Cheddar. Dedicated to helping young people find their own voices, she’s worked with 826national.org, Sesame Workshop, New York Public Library, University of Pennsylvania (her alma mater), and Cornell Tech. This fall her young adult fantasy novel was published by Possibilities Publishing Co. Christa earned her MBA at the Darden School at the University of Virginia. You will always find her sharing her never-ending curiosity on Twitter @christanycInstagram @christarosenyc, and her daily blog christaavampato.com.

STORYTELLERS: 

Allison Huntington Chase, CEO of Madame Morbid’s Trolley Tours in Brooklyn.  Allison grew up in Hartford, CT and has a degree in Screenplay Writing from the School of Visual Arts. As a child, her father created one of the world’s largest haunted houses, which was featured in New York TimesEntertainment Tonight, and Newsweek as “one of the best haunted houses in the country,” thus making her the 2nd generation of ghost tours.

 

Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped Cities, a web magazine and tour company based in New York City. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and  Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture. She is also a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Pre-College Division. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. Michelle appears regularly as a guest speaker in documentaries, on television, and at conferences on urban issues. Originally from New York, she has traveled to over forty countries and is always looking for the next adventure.

Sarah Laskow is a senior writer at Atlas Obscura, an online magazine that covers the world’s hidden wonders. She writes about cities, the relationships between people and nature (plants in particular), and obscure histories. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, NPR’s All Things Considered, and many other fine print and online publications.
Alex Neuhausen is an engineer, musician, and venue owner. He holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He produces music which has been licensed for video games and television. His current project, “Strangers on the Internet,” has a forthcoming EP. He founded the legendary underground venue, Secret Loft, in a Brooklyn auto garage in 2013. Now in Manhattan, Secret Loft hosts a dozen events per month, spanning comedy, poetry, dance parties, live music, and circus and aerial dance shows. You can find a schedule of events (but not an address or phone number) at http://www.secretloftnyc.com, and you can see what you’re missing on Instagram @secretloftnyc.
Bridget Randolph is an NYC-based actor, writer and storyteller from small town Virginia. Bridget studied acting and performance with the Salon:Collective in London, UK before moving to New York; here she discovered the magical world of improv and storytelling thanks to the Magnet Theater (specifically, Rick Andrews and Adam Wade). Bridget has performed in Lady Sketch Show, the Everyone Is Sad show, and will be in Adam Wade’s Storytelling Series on January 6th. She is currently developing her first solo show. You can follow her on Twitter (@BridgetActs), and Instagram (@bridget.m.randolph), and find out about upcoming projects and shows at www.bridgetacts.com.
Carla Katz is Jersey born and bred storyteller and now lives in Hoboken. She debuted her solo show “Body Parts” at this year’s SOLOCOM 2017 at the Peoples Improv Theater. She has performed at numerous Moth StorySlams, at the Magnet Theatre, in “Adam Wade’s Storytelling Series”, and in front of her dog Finn.  Katz likes to get emotionally naked and she tells stories that expose the small dramas that make us laugh or cringe. By day, she is a labor union leader, lawyer, and political animal. By night, she gets naked and howls at the moon over Manhattan. Katz learned storytelling craft from fellow Hobokenite Adam Wade– 20-time Moth winner and
comic extraordinaire.

A Year of Yes: The best lesson from Maya Angelou—I’m with you, kid.

“Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told, ‘I’m with you, kid. Let’s go.’ ~Maya Angelou

I’m so glad Maya Angelou got her stories down, that she left us with such a legacy of hope, encouragement, and the unbridled belief that ordinary people can chase down extraordinary dreams. This quote that she tossed out onto Twitter about a year before she passed continues to inspire me. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s the only place where she ever wrote it down.

It conjures up a mental image for me that’s empowering and action-oriented. The very best helping hands we have are at the ends of our own arms. Use them. Build the life you want. Yes, you can do this.

A Year of Yes: Take the next step

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Photo by Me 🙂

The first step of a new project is hard, but there’s a lot of encouragement out there about taking it. What’s just as hard, if not harder, and what rarely gets the encouragement it needs and deserves is the next step.

Maybe your first step was more like a stumble. Maybe the first step was greeted with joy, congratulations, and that often twinge-worthy question of “what’s next for you?” Whether your first step was successful or not, what you do next has a lot of expectation behind it. I’ve always found it takes even more energy and gumption to take that next step. Too few people take it. A lot of people start things; far fewer people continue something, and even fewer actually finish what they started.

All I want you to do is take one more step toward something you want to do. Make it a leap, or make it a baby step. Just do it. I believe in you.

A Year of Yes: Midwest Book Review of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters

Honored to share that Midwest Book Review reviewed my novel:

“A deftly written and unfailingly entertaining novel for teen readers, Emerson Page and Where The Light Enters showcases author Christa Avampato’s impressive flair for originality and master of the storytelling arts. Unreservedly recommended for both school and community library YA Fiction collections.”

The review has been provided to the Helen C. White Library’s “Cooperative Children’s Book Center” (University of Wisconsin, Madison) where it will be made available to school and community librarians throughout Wisconsin’s public school systems and community libraries. This review has also been provided to the Cengage Learning, Gale interactive CD-ROM series “Book Review Index” which is published four times yearly for academic, corporate, and public library systems.

Additionally, this review will be archived on the Midwest Book Review website for the next five years.

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