Don’t Miss GYPSY at Studio Tenn!

I am happy to say that I'll be back on stage in just a couple of weeks playing the role of Mazappa in StudioTenn's production of GYPSY! It's been awhile since I sat in a rehearsal room and it feels GREAT! For those of you who aren't familiar with my career as a stage actor, there's lots of catch-up reading in the "actor" tab above. When I was 13, I played Dainty June in GYPSY at the Strauss Playhouse. Now I've graduated to the role of Mazeppa! A big leap! Haha...  This musical is one of my very favorites. The book is incredible. The music is incredible. Our CAST is going to be incredible! Thanks to StudioTenn for giving this mama the chance to Bump it with A Trumpet! Click here for TICKETS and INFO! gypsy studio tenn mazeppa

Les Miserables Birthday Party for Rosalee’s 9th Birthday!

"Mom! I know the theme I want for my 9th Birthday!" said 8 year old Rosey from the backseat of the car...  I was excited to hear because we have quite a tradition for fun birthday events with her past themes spanning, Wiggles, Princess, Teddy Bear PJ Party, and more... "Les Miserables!" Yes, we are a family of theatre nerds and it's starting to show up in Rosey big time. The following pictures chronicle Rosey's Les Miz themed party! The Menu: French Baguette, Spiral Cut Ham, Double Cream French Brie, Sharp Cheddar, Parmesan/Gouda Blend from Trader Joe's (Rosey's Favorite), Water Crackers, Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika, Raw Veggies (Red Peppers, Cucumbers, and Carrots) with Ranch Dip, Chocolate Fondue with fresh Strawberries and Pound Cake, Strawberry/Mango/Lemonade Punch, and the Cake was from Dulce Desserts in Nashville (Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filing.) YUM! I decorated the table with wood and silver. The only thing I purchased was a set of silver candle sticks to represent the gift from the Bishop in the story. I used as many wooden cutting boards and wooden bowls as I could find to give it a rustic look. The favors were French Revolution Rosettes made by my wonderful mama, Carla Duffy.  I used the leftover ribbon from the rosettes to make little French flags with wooden skewers. (thank goodness U.S. 4th of July ribbon is red, white, and blue just like the French flag!) The game was "Pin the Candle on Val Jean." My step-dad Steve Duffy drew it and it's so fabulous! LOL! I wanted the kids to have some sort of costumes, so I went to Goodwill in search of "peasant wear." They didn't have much but I discovered that old curtain valances are cheap and work perfectly as a shawl. In the picture below, I'm wearing a brown curtain valance! Only 1.99 at Goodwill. Ha, ha! We did Karaoke and Rosey sang song after song. She loves "On My Own" and "The Confrontation: between Javert and Val Jean is always a big hit in our house. As I said, musical theatre nerds, all of us! Enjoy the pics! The whole event ended with a girls-only sleepover. There were even some 4th of July fireworks happening late in the sky above our backyard. Some of the girls thought I arranged that! Nope. Just party planning luck! The next morning, my brother Jay Nelson showed up to pick up my niece Rylee, and he couldn't pass up the chance to do some Les Miz Karaoke (He is a Nelson after all!) Jay and Rosey squared off for "The Confrontation" between Javert and Val Jean. It was hilarious. All in all, it was a wonderful celebration of a very special little girl. Rosey is a shining light in my world and I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming each day. Caring, kind, and full of creative ideas. Happy Birthday my sweet girl. Your mama loves you so much... :) Sarah Jane 003 les miz party-017003 les miz party-002003 les miz party-003003 les miz party 003 les miz party-014 003 les miz party-025003 les miz party-005 003 les miz party-006 003 les miz party-007 003 les miz party-008 003 les miz party-009 003 les miz party-011 003 les miz party-012 003 les miz party-013 003 les miz party-019 003 les miz party-020 003 les miz party-021 003 les miz party-022 003 les miz party-023003 les miz party-004

COOK with it!

I wanted to share this quote I read in the Lulu Powers newsletter.  Check her out at www.lulupowers.com (she's a cooking/entertaining diva).  The quote really resonated with me, so I created this little graphic to help us all remember: don't try to run from fear (it will catch up to you again and again) - you've got to COOK with it!  So many good things that I've done in my life started as fears. I really do believe that the only way out is through and this quote is a fun reminder...  Enjoy!

A Weekend BY MYSELF

Well, here I am. Sitting in bed, noodling around on the computer.  The house is quiet except for the purr of my cat, Bob, sitting next to me.  No one to feed, no one to pick up or drop off, no one to comfort or discipline or praise or referee. I'm alone. For those of you who don't have kids, this likely seems pretty mundane.  For those of you who have small children - this is INCREDIBLE!  My husband was out of town working for eight long weeks and his gift to me is that he took our 4 and 7 year old kids away to San Diego for the weekend. This is my first alone time in SEVEN YEARS.  I have to say that again. My first alone time in SEVEN YEARS.  I'm not proud of that.  It's not healthy at all, but living far from family and always moving around, the opportunity has never arisen.  Once I went somewhere with Rene for four days and that was pretty wild and wonderful to be a couple without kids. We had a ball.  Other than that's it's been togetherness to the max. So I thought I'd chronicle my journey of three nights alone in our LA apartment.  Here goes: Thursday, November 1 1:30pm - Rene packs up the van and I burst into tears as I'm saying goodbye. As I'm crying I have no idea why I'm so emotional.  I've been quite excited of the upcoming alone time, but when it's time to go, I get very sentimental about being away from them.  I LOVE my family and want them to come back home SAFE and SOUND.  What's that you say? I'm not in control?  Even when I am with them I'm not in control? Oh, well then I guess I'll just say a prayer and send them on their merry way.  The kids are stoked!!! 3:30pm - After they leave, I dry my tears and head off to Hollywood for a voice over audition.  As I'm driving I feel great. I feel liberated that can go anywhere I want! After the audition I decide to eat drive-through fast food (something I never do with my children) and drive around neighborhoods looking at amazing houses (also something I would never do with my kids in tow). 6:30pm - I get home and it really hits me they're gone. I can do whatever I want!!!  What do I do? NOTHING. I put on my pj's and lay around in bed watching stupid TV.  My cat Bob loves this idea and takes advantage of lots of petting he hasn't had since I was a NYC bachelorette.  Bob has been with me 15 years, and he remembers when there as no Rene, Rosey, or Mateo.  I think Bob needed this weekend too. I make a call and get a spontaneous dinner plan with my friend Dana.  We go to a nice Italian restaurant in our neighborhood and talk for a long time.  There's a part of me that still feels like I'm forgetting to do something... Like someone needs me to get home or pick something up for them.  Of course that's not the case.  It's just Sarah Jane.  Pretty crazy!  It was so fun to have an impromptu dinner out... Friday, November 2 5:00am - I wake up early as usual and pull my laptop onto the bed.  One thing I don't get to do when my family is here is be a work-a-holic.  I take great pride in my goal to balance work and family, but as any of you who own your own business know, there's SO much to do!  So I worked and worked and worked and worked until I realized that I needed to eat.  So I go in the kitchen and eat a cupcake and milk for breakfast.  I'm a wild woman at this point!  Then I sugar crashed and start falling alseep at the computer.  Some turkey breast from the fridge fixes me right up, and I'm ready to go again.  I had a meeting with a business consultant and all morning Rene gave me text updates that they were having a BALL at Seaworld.  Rosey rode the new rollercoaster, Manta, three times!  It felt amazing that the world was going on without me. Everyone was happy and well.  Wait a minute, I am not the center of my family's universe? Well, that's actually quite a weight of my shoulders.  I love that the kids can love their mama and NEED their mama, but when I'm not there, the are happy and well adjusted.  That also speaks to the involvement of Rene, the best daddy in the world. 4:00pm - By late afternoon, I have had my fill of work and need to get out into the world.  I go to the Century City Mall and wander... I go in random stores, try things on, spend lots of time looking.  There's no one to whine, or pull on my shirt to leave, or hide inside the clothes racks, or beg for ice cream before dinner, or need to go to the bathroom at inopportune times.  Just me and MY needs, MY interests, MY time.  I'm starting to get the hang of this! For a moment I wonder if this is how it starts when mothers abandon their families.  Do they get a taste of this and decide they can't GIVE anymore? Oh no! What if I enjoy this too much and then a year from now I'm out partying every night and going to Phish concerts with a bunch of single friends and I screw up my kids for life and then they'll spend years in psychotherapy talking about how I was a selfish mother!!!! Wait - It's ok for me to enjoy just being me.  It's okay for me to have time alone.  It's healthy that I don't spend 18 years losing sight of my own needs.  I need to put on my oxygen mask first! It's okay.  And with that, I went to a hip restaurant for dinner and ate almost a whole bowl of guacamole by myself while reading a magazine.   When it was time to go home I swung by Target, just because I could.  Wandering the aisles of Target is a special little "happy place" for me.  As I snuggled into bed, I felt very content, and I felt more like myself that I had in years.  Sarah Jane was emerging. Nice. Saturday November 3 9:00am - I met a friend for breakfast to catch up and also talk about a school event I'm helping with.  By now I'm feeling fresh and new. I have an ease in my energy that I haven't felt for a long time. That ease really made me see what the responsibility of children can do to a person's nerves.  The constant responsibility for other human beings takes it toll!  It felt like someone removed a weight off my chest and I felt lighter and softer.  I like the woman I am right now! This is the fun, creative, nicely groomed, energized Sarah Jane rather than the frazzled, overwhelmed, crazy woman I sometimes feel like.  Ahhh... 11:00am - After I get home from breakfast, I feel great.  I get lots of work done.  It's tedious inventory work that  I've never gotten around to because it takes lots time and quiet thinking that my work-from-home mom life doesn't easily allow for.  I work all day and totally forget to eat.  Good thing there are some leftover chips and salsa in the fridge! I'm back to my single girl eating habits.  Not a good thing.  Note to self: having to feed your kids at regular intervals forces you to eat better.  Finally as evening rolls around I get a text from my friend, Jason, and he says he can get me in to a concert he's doing in Los Feliz.  Because I'm able to be so spontaneous, I say YES!  My friend Sunita goes with me and we had a great time.  Of course when Rene is home he's always happy to hang with the kids while I do social things like that, but there's something different about that.  I felt more free than ever. 12 midnight - I get home and realize as I'm going to bed that I can't wait to see my babies.  I'm actually starting to really MISS them.  I'm so glad they're having fun with daddy and feel like this weekend is such a wonderful thing for all of us. Sunday, November 4th 6:30am - I wake up at 6:30 which is actually late for me! It's my last day to work so I go full blast.  I get brunch with a friend and work some more. Texts from Rene and the kids make me so happy! 4:30pm - And that brings me to right now.  I'm about to head off to dinner with my friend, Shadi.  She is a mom of three and never gets a break! I hope this little three day weekend thing is going to sweep through my circle of friends!  And if you're thinking, "My husband would never do that." Just ask yourself this.  Are you feeling out of control, over worked, and don't know who you are anymore?  Is that good thing for your marriage? Are you modeling a balance that is healthy for your kids?  Get some time, not an hour or a day but a WHOLE WEEKEND to really unwind the stress. Let these fathers be fathers.  Let them get some alone time to really get to know their kiddos.  It's not easy, you know that, but it's also very rewarding and important. These dads are intelligent people and I know they can do it.  Just make it clear that your long-term health and sanity depend on it. I can't wait to see my kids and my husband when they get home this evening! I miss them and they miss me.  I hope that this weekend-off experiment can be something we do regularly - at least twice a year. Fall and Spring perhaps? It really is a win-win for everyone.  As they say, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy..." I'm thrilled to report that mama is more herself than she's been in years... And daddy has won himself some major brownie points! ;) Love to all, Sarah Jane www.lifeisrosey.com P.S. - Feel free to share this with friends and family! Visit www.sarahjanenelson.com to follow my social media and blog posts...      

A Very Personal and Important Post

  I lived in NYC for 10 years and the thing I'm SO glad to be away from is the harassment I received on the street. That is the most memorable negative of a city I love. I was flashed, men said crude things to me, a man in a nice suit asked me the time and then when he was close enough he pulled out the cover of a porn VHS and muttered a bunch of gross things, and once a man walked by and grabbed my crotch really hard, then disappeared into a crowd. That was in the middle of Times Square! The last straw was when my baby daughter was 6 months old and a man pulled out his penis standing right on the sidewalk near our apartment on the Upper West Side. That was it. Never again. Now that we live in LA, I miss the interaction you get from NYC (LA can be pretty isolating) but you know what? I don't miss it that much! I'll stay in my car thank you very much. Read the article below and you'll see why I'm glad people are speaking up about this issue. Men are raping, violating, abusing, and disrespecting women all over the world. The media FEEDS it. Women are afraid to speak out and fight back for fear of retaliation. Sometimes they play along to try to fit in. We all know that physical assault is not okay but even the verbal harassment is very violating and damaging. What can you do? TEACH your sons RESPECT for women. Don't make women sexual objects in front of them (what you do with your partner behind closed doors is your business - ha, ha) As a parent you can make difference in our culture. When you see commercials during Monday night football, talk about how it's inappropriate to sexualize the women in the commercial. And you want to know why women agree to perform in those commercials? Because they think that their sexuality is ALL THEY HAVE TO OFFER. Teach our girls that they are more than a piece of flesh. Educate then on sexual abuse. Let them study martial arts so they can put someone much bigger then them in a deadly choke hold if they ever need to. And let's work to make sure these sickos like the one in the story below are held accountable for their actions. http://www.xojane.com/issues/73-year-old-woman-raped-and-beaten-for-daring-to-photograph-public-masturbator?utm_medium=facebook

My 9/11 story. An eyewitness account of that beautiful blue sky morning that changed our nation and our world.

I write this in honor of the precious lives lost in the September 11th attacks. My heart goes out to the families, the survivors. This is my story of that day - September 11, 2001 Around 8am.  My boyfriend René was about to go on his morning run, and I decided at the last minute that I would go with him on my bike.  We headed south on the West Side Highway bike path, and it was the most spectacular morning.  I remember the sun gleaming on the Hudson River in a way that made me think, “I can’t believe THIS is our life. We live in the most beautiful, special place.  A spectacular day…” As we approached the boat basin, I started to think that we shouldn’t go our usual route around the base of the World Trade Center and back up Broadway to our 14th Street apartment.  René had been sick and I didn’t want him to push himself too much with a long run.  As we turned around and headed north, I remember seeing a bunch of commuters getting off the ferry.  They all looked chipper and refreshed - briefcases in hand from their boat ride commute on such a pretty morning.  What a lovely way to get to work!   As we passed Stuyvesant High School, the city noise seemed to get louder.  Planes over Manhattan were a common occurrence, but it was especially loud above us.  I remember thinking, “Lord, how close are they flying planes to the city these days? I can’t even hear myself speak!”  Then we looked up. 8:46am.  We watched American Airlines Flight 11 crash into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  An enormous fireball shot out towards us and the sound of the deep BOOM shook my insides.  It seemed like many seconds passed before I took my next breath.  A woman nearby crumbled to her knees on the pavement.  Traffic stopped.  For a moment, the city around us was in stunned silence with only the sound that of cracking embers falling from high above and the low roar of the flames.  Finally, sirens rang faintly in the distance.  René and I looked at one another in disbelief.  The paper and debris that streamed from the building after the explosion went with the southeast wind and we were luckily standing two blocks northwest of the World Trade Center.  We just stood there watching, unable to believe our eyes. This is our view of the building right after the fireball died down into smoke.  Something you can't believe you're looking at.  Something that might happen in a Die Hard movie, not in real life in front of you... At the time, we both thought it was air traffic control gone awry.  I didn’t have my cell phone and I knew mom would want to contact me, so we finally turned away from the now smoking building and headed north up the West Side Highway sidewalk. I remember crying as I rode my bike - looking back over and over.  I also remember the fire trucks racing by, headed for the scene of the incident.  I’ll never forget those handsome young firemen, hanging their heads out of the fire truck windows.  They saw the black smoke billowing out of the giant tower and they charged forward towards the scene that we were fleeing.  One guy in particular caught my eye, no more than 30 years old, handsome with brown eyes and light brown hair.  He looked scared.  As a first responder to the incident, it’s possible that brave, young man didn’t survive that day.  When we got to the intersection of 14th Street and the West Side Highway, René headed across the street and I waited with my bike for a chance to cross.  As I stood there waiting, I looked back at the building, still in disbelief.  Just then, another fireball.  I yelled, “RENÉ!  LOOK!” 9:03am  United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of World Trade Center.  I couldn’t tell what caused it.  I didn't see that plane because it had hit the tower from the south.  It looked like an giant explosion had come out of the building from our angle.  I was so confused and in shock as we hurried home.  As we arrived at our building at 237 West 14th Street, we heard intense screams coming from the apartment across the hall.  Screams like nothing I had ever heard.  We knocked on the door and discovered that my neighbor’s sister worked at Cantor Fitzgerald which was located at the top of the tower that was hit first.   She was hysterical as she watched The Today Show.  I tried to comfort her, but there is so little you can do in that circumstance. We went into our apartment and gathered a few things, talked to René’s brother Hector on the phone, and then called my mom and told her we were heading up to her place.  At this time (less than 5 minutes after the 2nd plane had hit) people were just discovering what had happened.  We walked outside and were able to hail an empty cab.  (With all the subways stopped and bridges and tunnels closed, empty cabs were non-existent that day.  We were lucky.) Once inside the cab, the driver told us that a plane had hit the Pentagon.  It was surreal.  I thought, “Do things like this REALLY happen to me?  Right here in the U.S.A.?  This is a war zone.  What’s next?”  We didn’t know what else was coming and so we just held each other close and tried to remain calm.  I remember the cab driver (a Middle Eastern guy with a very heavy accent) was telling us, "It's the governments who hate each other. The regular people in the Middle East can get along.  Palestinians can live and work beside Israelis and have no problem.  It's the politics! People are just people!"  We got to mom and my step-dad Steve’s apartment at West 102nd Street and were still in shock.  The television was on the Today Show and we all sat on the couch watching the events unfold.  It showed doctors and nurses at St. Vincent’s Hospital (right by our apartment) waiting outside with stretchers to treat the injured but very few injured ever arrived.  So many who worked in World Trade Center that day would not make it to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Suddenly, right on television, at 9:59am the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.  When the cloud of dust settled, the building was gone.  It was hard to fathom.  We were shaken.  It was scary to be on this island, bridges and tunnels shut down.  Not knowing what might happen next.  At 10:28am the North Tower collapsed.  Two skyscrapers.  110 floors each.  Gone. Throughout that day, we hung out at my mom's apartment. Dazed.  Trying not to let panic set in.  We were constantly reminded of the day’s seriousness by F-16 Fighter Jets roaring overhead.  We watched comedy.  Any funny tv show or film we could find.  We even put on my childhood home videos to lighten the mood. The city was covered in a thick cloud of smoke and dust…  It was very strange to think that human life was somewhere in that dust. Finally, by afternoon we realized we hadn’t eaten all day and decided to get some food at the corner diner.  Walking outside, we saw the strangest sight.  Hoards of people, dressed in office attire, walking north.  With all the subways stopped, taxis non-existent, and tunnels and bridges closed to cars - people were walking home to upper Manhattan, New Jersey, the Bronx… Some had briefcases; many were covered in white soot.  They all looked tired and dazed.  I wish I’d taken a photo but I was still in too much shock to think to do it.  When we got in Metro Diner, we were shocked to discover that it was packed.  New Yorkers were sharing a meal together, some sitting quietly, some talking about what they saw and how they felt.  There was a sense of goodwill among the citizens.  We would pull together to get through no matter what. After that day, the city was still in a tailspin.  The air down on 14th Street had a unique smell that I suppose can only come from more than 2,000 people and 2 skyscrapers cremated in the blink of an eye.  It was strange to breathe it in.  Our neighbor let us know that her sister who worked in the South Tower, had been late for work that morning and her life was miraculously spared.  She had worked on a team with 30 people and only 3 had survived.  She was late for work, one person was at a funeral that morning, and one was home sick.  She spent the next month going to funeral after funeral for all her lost friends and the PTSD and guilt she experienced was severe.  I wonder if she ever recovered… The most heartbreaking sights in days that followed Sept. 11th were the flyers.  Faces of mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, cousins, boyfriends…  All ages and races.  MISSING. This is a bus stop right by my apartment. Families held on to hope that their loved ones somehow got out of the buildings and were in a hospital or wandering the streets somewhere. I would stand and look at those fliers - so many faces.  Good hard working people who were loved.  Week by week, the fliers were slowly taken down.   Life went on for New York City.  The goodwill and warmth shared by our citizens on that day slowly shifted back to the harder edged city ways.   I had PTSD with an intense sensitivity to sounds.  I would wake in the night and think I heard an explosion far away (perhaps the Empire State Building?) only to discover it was a truck driving over a man-hole cover.  The sound of the North Tower exploding in a fireball was stuck in my ears - a low, loud boom.  René comforted me when I cried in the night.  The first “normal” thing we did after 9/11 was to see the movie “Zoolander” on that following Saturday night.  It was packed with other New Yorkers trying to feel normal.  Everyone in the theater laughed out loud.  My friends on Broadway went back to performing their shows.  We all tried to go on with life… holding our loved ones a little tighter than before. And that’s my 9/11 story.  I know I’m just one of millions of lives changed by that beautiful blue sky morning of September 11, 2001. “Life is short, we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us, so be swift to love and make haste to be kind and may the Divine Mystery, who is beyond our ability to know but who made us, and who loves us, and who travels with us, Bless us and keep us in peace.” Love, Love, Love, and Peace. Sarah Jane P.S. - You can subscribe to my blog by entering your e-mail address in the box at the top right of this page. I never sell your info or spam you. Just occasional ramblings, pictures, and thoughts...