Friday, May 11, 2012

The Evolution of My Hair

My mom recently sent me some old photos, and I couldn't help but be completely embarrassed. Luckily for you, I've decided to share my embarrassment with everyone. After posting pictures in my first blog, a lot of people have commented on my...interesting... haircuts. My hair has had some good days, but mostly bad, very bad. Well... you're welcome. I'm just going to leave it at that.

This is my newborn picture. This may be the only picture where it is actually apparent that I am Japanese. I'm also, as you can see, bald.

6 months later, and I'm still rockin' the fuzz.

How cute were my siblings?! I can't believe my sister actually has her arm around me instead of my brother. This is a first. 

Here begins The Mullet. 

I still remember sleeping in rollers. 

This is my preschool picture! For a moment, things are starting look on the upside for my hair. 

Disappointingly, The Mullet makes a come back. Even my dog, Noelle, was ready to run.

As if my frail figure didn't already point out that I looked like a boy, my mom convinced me to ditch The Mullet for this classy bowl cut.

I'm not sure how we turned out quasi-normal.

How cute; A little boy with a dress on.

This picture might confuse you. No, I didn't go back to my bald, newborn look. Here, my mother convinced me it was a good idea to go "short". News flash: short is getting a haircut to your shoulders, not receiving the same haircut as your brother.

Is it a he? Around this time, most people assumed it was a he. I learned to casually point out my earrings, which of course proved my femininity. Lets face it- gay boys have way more style than I do in this picture.

P.S.- Bubba, cool ears.

I finally started growing out my hair around middle school. It only makes sense to have braids.

8th or 9th grade: Blonde streaks in the front aren't cute, but at least I haven't reverted back to the mullet.

11th grade: Cut all of my hair off, again, and died it dark brown. This is my brother's favorite version of my hair. I think that I was borderline emo, so I have different feelings. At least I got rid of the blonde front section.

Why I decided to go shorter, I have no idea. This is my sister's favorite version of my hair.

That's probably the closest I've ever been to my natural color, also.

12th grade: Oh yeah, sure... I'll grow it out again. Why not?!

 Au Natural for my senior pics.

Freshman-Junior years in college.

This is my 21st birthday bash. Yes, my grandparents came. I was attempting to grow out my hair, so this is the awkward stage.

Gymnastics hair. French braids, high ponies, and messy buns. My favorite.

I went blonde for my senior year of college and haven't looked back. Blondes definitely have more fun!  

I'm rocking the bangs for now, but who know's where I'll be next year?!

Let me know which "do" is your favorite!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Circus of the Sun

It all started in middle school.

I would like to start out this blog with a S/O to my big brother and big sister. You see, they used to tell me that I was adopted from the zoo. Since my parents fostered children before they were adopted, I believed them. With my monkey heritage and gymnastics in mind, they have also called me a circus freak for longer than I can imagine. Well, Leah and Bubba, you called it.

My gymnastics coach purchased tickets for my family to see Cirque Du Soleil's "Alegría". I sat through the show in complete awe, like most do, but I had a special connection with the performers. While most people in the audience couldn't comprehend the athlete's abilities to perform certain acts, I realized that I had a clear understanding of their talent because of my background in gymnastics. When a gymnast watches another gymnast, it's almost impossible to just watch. We are naming skills in our heads and comparing our ability with others. We are perfectionists and we are competitive. The moment I realized that I understood their artistry is the moment that God placed a dream inside of my heart. It was a mere seed that would continue to grow with God's perfect timing for ten years and counting.

At this point, I was a level 10 in gymnastics and had been competing for around 6 years. By the time I graduated high school, I had seen two more shows. During high school, I attempted international elite for a few years. As most will tell you, I was *not* made for the elite world. In four years, I had two shoulder surgeries, breaks in both legs, and a nasty habit resulting from low self esteem. I had no confidence. While I often look back and wonder why I made the decision to qualify for elite, I am now grateful for the skills those years gave me. While most level 10's are doing gymnastics on repeat and rarely learning new skills, elite gymnastics enabled me to learn a large variety of skills that I probably wouldn't have attempted otherwise. I also spent close to 40 hours a week in the gym, which taught me to appreciate dedication, obligation, discipline, and an aggressive work ethic.

I graduated from Klein High School in 2007, and soon thereafter, I began my freshman year at the University of Maryland. I assumed college gymnastics would be the end of my performing career. I struggled through my freshman and sophomore year, but I began to understand myself as an athlete my junior and senior year. Better late than never! College gymnastics taught me repetition, time management, patience, teamwork, and it caused me to fall in love with the sport all over again.

My junior year of college, I met THE most attractive boy alive. He was 6'4" with baby blue eyes and an athletic build from playing lacrosse. He loved me before I even considered him as more than a friend. As we quickly got serious, I told him about Cirque Du Soleil, and we even went to see "Ovo" together in Washington D.C. Sometime during this period, I told him that I had always considered auditioning for Cirque. We were engaged our senior year.

 I felt like my talent had reached it's highest level thus far. I thrived off of my team's encouragement and the atmosphere that Terps gymnastics provided. Sometime between wrapping up my gymnastics career, graduating from college, planning a wedding, attending the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships, and moving to Max's home town of Columbus, Ohio, Cirque was removed from my thoughts on reality. Life was moving quickly and we were moving on.

After we were married, we both entered into the real world. No gymnastics. No lacrosse. No more college. Hello 8-5. Hello bills. Hello rising gas prices. As my gymnastics team likes to put it, we were muggles.

Although we've had a blast together in my favorite town, Upper Arlington, we both felt like we were living too safe. We couldn't help but question whether or not life is supposed to be more than putting the leftovers into a savings account. We were 22, newly married, and... bored. We both felt that we were filling our life with material investments instead of eternal investments- relationships, adventure, exploration. After a somewhat irrational conversation, we began to dream of quitting our jobs and starting something new. Because I had talked about Cirque on and off for so long, we both knew that Cirque was an avenue that could help fulfill these dreams. On a whim that night, my husband told me that it was time for me to go for it.

The next day, I sent in my resume and began training after 11 months off from gymnastics. My assistant coach at the University of Maryland told me that her assistant coach from gymnastics at the University of Florida had a gym in Columbus. I ended up calling him, and he let me come in and start training right away. 

Side note: Usually club gymnastics facilities only cover gymnasts 18 and under. Months before I came, Louis, the head coach, had an olympic hopeful training at the gym who was over 18. Because she was there just months before, Louis had new insurance coverage that allowed me to practice at his facility. I called other places, and they were unable to help me. God has perfect timing. 

I had to submit a demo video, so I started taping myself during training. With an all or nothing attitude, I tried new skills and repeated skills that I haven't tried in years. Yep, gymnastics was still fun. March was the first time that I've ever trained gymnastics for pure enjoyment. I had no pressure from coaches, teammates, or myself. I felt blessed for my God-given talent and I felt free.

At the beginning of April, I got in contact with Playback Performance to compile my demo video. On April 18th, the day before my 23rd birthday, I received two e-mails.

This first one was from Cirque Du Soleil asking me if I was interested in an opportunity. They also asked me if I had made a demo video.

The second one was from Craig at Playback Performance notifying me that my video was complete.

The e-mails came within 3 hours of each other. It doesn't feel like a coincidence.

Today, May 9, 2012, I will be signing a contract for General Training in Montreal, Canada. I will be in training from the beginning of August until the beginning of November. At some point along the way, I will prayerfully be offered a contract with "O" in Las Vegas. There is always a possibility that plans will change, so Max and I invite you to pray that doors continue to open.

Max and I couldn't be more excited about what's to come, whether Cirque works out or it doesn't. We realize that God's plan is the best plan, and we ask that you pray for us in this new endeavor. 

As excited as we are, there are a lot of unknowns. Please pray for us as we begin a new chapter. Please pray that I remain safe and injury free. Please pray for us to trust the path that is laid out before us. I know that God has had his hand on this entire process from middle school until now. Please pray that we choose Him as our guide and not ourselves.

Psalm 37:4, 7- Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him

I have to take the time to point out that this adventure wouldn't have even started without the approval of my amazing husband. Columbus is his hometown, and the people in Columbus have supported him his entire life. His family is here. Our home is here. Our financial stability takes root in Columbus solely because of Max. His professional lacrosse team is here. Resolute lacrosse is here. His dearest friends are here. We are safe here and Columbus is our home. It hasn't always been easy to be supportive, but Max has stayed along my side every step of the way. I picked a winner, ladies.

Welcome to my life. It's a Cirque-us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

[Act I. Scene i.] Enter Abigail Schmidt

Here I am.

I was born Abigail Alyss Adams on April 19, 1989 in Cleveland, Ohio. My dad, John Quincy Adams (no, I'm not kidding), was completing residency at the Cleveland Clinic when I was born.

 Before I could roll over, my mom (Lucretia, and I'm still not kidding) and dad moved our family to my favorite state, Texas. I lived in THE Woodlands until I was 8, spent 3 WONDERFULLY rural years in Brenham, Texas, and then moved to Spring, Texas where I remained until I was 18.

Family. I am one of three children born to my parents who have been happily married for nearly 32 years.

I realize this belongs on

I have an older sister, Leah, who is the epitome of an older sister. She's 5 years older than me, and she is bossy, rule-breaking, and independent. You may think I'm being mean, but she's everything that I've ever wanted to be. She's never pushed over (me), never too chicken (me), and she can organize any mess into perfection (NOT me). She's also the most amazing mother to my precious nieces, Hadley Angel and Harper Reese. 

Yes, she's had TWO kids.

I have an older brother, Austin aka "bubba", and it would take a lot more than a paragraph to describe him. Those of you who know him know exactly what I mean. He is completely outlandish. He wears neon converses, can make anyone laugh, and my nieces call him "Gunkle". He's logical, loyal, and LOUD. He really loves Jesus.

Both of my siblings are married to amazing people, and when we are all together with our spouses, it feels like it has always been the six of us.  

I know this family section is getting long, but equally important are my in-laws. My husband's parents have been a beautiful impact on my life. They have shown *NOTHING* but unconditional love toward me since the day that I met them. Praise Jesus for my second set of parents. I love you, Mama Kate and Pops! My husband also has a big brother, Brandon, and is married to a blonde bombshell, Erin. They have two little girls, Willa and Tatum. I know, FOUR NIECES under the age of 3! What's a girl gotta do for a nephew?!

I saved the best for last. I am married to my handsome husband, Max Schmidt. We met in class our junior year of college at the University of Maryland. GO TERPS. He played lacrosse and I was a gymnast. He enables me to face my fears, address my faults, and achieve my dreams. We face the future together. He makes me better. We got engaged December 24th, 2010 at my aunts house, less than a year after the day that we met. We were married by my brother 8 months later on August 13, 2011 on the Riviera Maya in Puerto Morelos, Mexico. We have a sweet, red labrador who is named Maya after our wedding location.

Maya aka My-My

School. I graduated from Klein High School in 2007, and the University of Maryland in 2011. I have a BA in English specializing in Renaissance Literature. Hence, reading and writing are soothing to my soul.

Gymnastics. I started gymnastics when I was five years old. I competed level four through international elite before heading to college. After four years of collegiate gymnastics, I retired at the age of 22. Little did I know, the opportunities that gymnastics has given me are countless. Gymnastics gave me discipline, dedication, and it was an outlet for me to become an individual. It lead me to the east coast, my husband, and is continuing to open BIG doors. Let's get one thing straight though; my gift is from God.

Don't forget to tell my mom that you like my bowl haircut.

Faith. I grew up attending church. I grew up as a Bible-believing, morally driven, perfectionist with a knack for southern etiquette. When I was a junior in college, life happened. Although I would say that I have loved Jesus since I was a little girl, I wouldn't say that I really applied the Bible to my life until I met my husband. Growing up, my belief system was mostly sparkles. It was like a new sequin top getting worn for the very first time at a New Year's Eve party. My belief system was sparkly, fun, and it looked ever so perfect. When I met my husband, he helped me to realize that my life in Jesus isn't the happy act that I had been living. In fact, it's not about me at all. I value my flaws, my darkest days, and my most sincere pains because they tell my story of how Christ continually leads me through redemption. 

He is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

This is my life. This is my testimony.