On Solitude and Spring Break

tumblr_mk5h9d5IYn1qmywbko1_500I’ve been on Spring Break this week, and, for those of you who don’t know, Spring Break for people over the age of 30 typically means sleeping past 6am and catching up on housework.

Both of these I have accomplished, in addition to handsomely chopping down my to-do list.

I’ve also been flying solo with week, with the g/f in Cleveland on a job.  Historically, I haven’t been very good at being by myself for any extended period of time.  I haven’t lived alone in almost 10 years, and I wasn’t very good at it when I did.  Alone time is when all your weird and disordered habits creep into your mind space.  Things like my strange and complicated relationship with food, a preference for 45 minute baths over 10 minute showers, and an affinity for the Discovery Fit and Health Channel, which, by the way, doesn’t even come in HD, making it even more pathetic.

I’m not saying that these habits went away; this week, I still spent a good chunk of time in the bath and in front of DFH.  I went to battle with a bag of dried cranberries and stayed up until 2am watching Dances With Wolves for the 16th time.  But I also felt strangely in control of my behavior. Make no mistake, this is a huge breakthrough for me.  I can’t say whether it’s maturity, confidence, a different living situation, all, or none of the above.  What I can say, is that I’m now able to embrace my weirdness and be comfortable with myself – even when I’m by myself.

Tomorrow I’m taking myself on my first solo hike.  Ok, so maybe it’s a small forest preserve in Crystal Lake, IL and not the Appalachian Trail.  The point is, for a long time I’ve wanted to experience hiking alone but never had the chutzpah to do it.  I’ll be sure to make a full report.

Lenten Do Over?

Coca-Cola_FamilyAdI promised to give up soda for Lent and it went really well

for about four days.

Oops.

I’m not particularly Catholic, so I’m not too concerned that this mistake will lead to eternal damnation (but then again, what do I know??).  However, I’m disappointed that I made a promise to the blogosphere that I didn’t keep.  So, are we ok?  Can we look past this?  I’ll try harder next time.

The thing is, I’ve been on this “lifestyle change” for awhile now – following the Weight Watchers plan and *almost* completely eliminating alcohol intake.  Diet cola is one of those little tricks that fills my belly, replaces, say, truffles, and feeds my serious caffeine addiction.

So, I’m actually not that disappointed because the past month has been one of the most successful at following “the plan”.

But, I’ll leave it to you to tell me: is diet soda doing more harm than good?  While it might be helping me in my quest for a waistline, I also have serious concerns that chemicals like aspartame cause nasty diseases.

What’s your opinion? Do I can the can?

Happy New Year 2013!

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Holidays, party of 1. No mom, I don’t actually smoke. Photo credit: Kelly Rose

I’m fairly confident the year was sufficiently rung last night.  The wine flowed, the turkey was delicious, as were all the delectable sides (including mashed potatoes, vegetables, stuffing and my Mom’s creamed corn).  I made a solid batch of deviled eggs and shoved blue cheese into pitted olives for a final touch.

But enough about me.  Most importantly, the meal was shared among friends.  We managed to cram nine people around the table for a family-style dinner, and were totally blessed with a night of laughter and plenty of leftovers.

I’m a little conflicted about making resolutions.  I tend to shape my life goals around the academic year because, well, I work at an academic institution.  Sure, I’ll be joining the pack that returns to the gym (but, to be fair, I went twice last week too).  Lose weight, eat better, let go of all the holiday vices… blah-di-blah…

But if I really had to pin down what I want out of this year, it’s to get my s&*# together.  

I’ve wrapped this up into three smaller goals that look like this:

  1. Meet more deadlines

  2. Find space

  3. Drink Tea

I’m pretty responsible, but the things that either (a) aren’t a priority, or (b) I don’t get paid to do sometimes fall by the wayside.  It happens with writing, and paying bills, and things like student recommendations or taking a ballet class.  In order to deal with all the little details and try to keep on top of managing my life, I need to find space in my brain.  But, I’m also seeking out a physical space so that I can continue to work on dance related projects.  With my change in jobs came a complete loss of free rehearsal space, and soon, I believe I might find the creative home that I’m looking for.

Vicki Crain told me that she was resolving to drink more tea, so this resolution is borrowed from her.  But drinking tea is not just the action of sipping on a overly hot, lightly caffeinated, somewhat tasteless liquid… it’s a life philosophy that I whole-heartedly buy into.  So, good one Vicki.

What, pray tell, are you going to work on this year?

Obligatory Blog Post About Being Thankful on Thanksgiving

If you decide to take a little time today between the food and the family and the football to check the interwebs, I’m sure I will be one of perhaps millions of blog posts appropriately themed on being Thankful.  We bloggers are smart like that in that we’ve figured out that readers generally like posts that are timed well to a particular holiday or event.  So what is going to make my blog post about what I’m thankful for stick out more than any other that pops up in your newsfeed?

Not much. Probably….

But in spite of my self-loathing lack of confidence that I stand out among other thankful-themed posts, and the honest belief that very few people read my blog on a regular basis (thanks Mom and Julie)… I’m going to do it anyway.

2012 has been a year of drastic changes in my life.  I moved. My relationships with friends and family have changed.  My job(s) have changed.  I have withstood heartache, hardship, and more change in one year than a person should be able to handle.  While I’ve alluded ambiguously to some of these over the last several months, a rant on gratitude won’t be the thing that causes me to spill on my personal life, but I will say that the year has brought with it a total shift in my mentality, my self-worth, and ultimately my happiness.

I think I had been craving a life that’s less complicated.  A life where the “stuff” around you doesn’t matter.  A simple life that I can actually afford.  Working an average of 60 hours a week for four months hasn’t exactly brought me to the simple life I envision, but my frame of mind has completely shifted.  I am better able to recognize what I need, and what I don’t.  I’m better able to take care of relationships with the friends who matter, and let go of the “friends” who don’t.  I’m living closer to Earth; eating more vegetables than burritos.  All in all, I’m grateful for who I am, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I ever have.

When I started this blog, I’m pretty sure THAT was my ultimate goal… exploring a simple life in a big city and finding myself in the process.

And, let’s be honest, I’m pretty awesome.

Oh, that, and, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be thankful for the meal that is about to make its way to my face in a  couple hours.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, the family’s famous Gulliver’s Corn (don’t worry, I’ve been begging Mom to write a guest post so you can get your hands on the recipe), and a homemade(ish) pie from yours truly.

Apple. With homemade whipped cream.

Delicious.

Coffee with Erin

There’s something so reassuring about having coffee with your best friend.

Even more so, perhaps, when you only get to see her every once in awhile.

Erin and Lauren, 2010 in Door County, WI

Erin and I have been friends since 7th grade.  I was still in braces.  Now, there are plenty of people I knew when I was in braces that I couldn’t give two hoots about now, and vice-versa, I’m sure, but not this one.  Erin’s a keeper.  She moved away when we were 14, and we kept in touch by letter-writing.  We’ve remained pen pals all this time, and enjoyed a brief couple of years when we lived in the same area again.

For the past two years, Erin’s been serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa (I still can’t believe she’s using all that French we learned in high school).  So it’s been awhile since I’ve seen her, and the six weeks or so that it takes to get a letter to Benin makes it difficult to keep in touch.  While in Chicago for a couple weeks on a leave/vacation from her service, we managed to squeeze in a coffee.

It still feels like it did in 9th grade, before she moved, sitting behind the bleachers or in the band room and talking about our hopes and dreams, and about the silly people around us.  Today, more than 15 years later, we talked about our hopes and dreams, and the silly people around us.

Not much has changed… our triumphs and our failures are just bigger now.

There’s something to be said about catching up with a person who knows you – Like, KNOWS you – the kind of person who’s known you since you had braces.  That’s the friendship in which years can go by and you pick up right where you left off.

What is work? and, the philosophy statement.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of “work” a lot lately.  Is work what you get paid to do, what you’re passionate about, or are you one of those lucky people who gets to have both?  I recently read this article on The Daily Beast that gives some thoughts on Labor Day and it’s origins.  Apparently it’s not just about white pants and hot dogs as summer draws to its end.

For me, Labor Day is pretty symbolic.  By that, I mean, it’s my ONLY holiday off.  Working for a public university I get a lot of time off for the holidays and a lot of time off in the summer, and in between are two brutal sixteen week stretches.

Yeah. Brutal.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Labor Day a month after Labor Day, because I’m in the middle of that stretch right now.  Save two days for Thanksgiving, Labor Day and MLK Day are it for us.

But even more than this glorious opportunity to sleep past 5:30am on a week day, “Labor Day” has serious implications that we work too hard.  So for us Americans, here’s a day (A day) to drink beer and barbeque.

Thanks for that.

I’m not opposed to work, I guess I’m just opposed to being forced to do something I don’t want to do just to make a buck.  It’s not the work that I’m against, it’s the perpetual need to generate dollars at the expense of my time, my energy, and even, at times, my dignity.

What’s the difference between work, my work, and a job?

If you’re really lucky those three arrows all point to the same place.  I’ve thought about this from the perspective all three of the things that I am: an educator, a dancemaker, and a writer, only one of which really generates any significant income for me.  Finding the why of what I do, especially in the things I don’t get paid for, means figuring out what my Work (capital W) really is.  The rest is just a time suck that helps me pay my rent.

Or not.

I’m fortunate of late in that I’ve been able to peace-meal together jobs (meaning, the things I get paid for) that are actually part of the bigger scope of “my Work”.  All of this is wrapped up in a tidy little statement that I’ve been working on for my teaching portfolio (ignore the dust, it’s under major construction).

This philosphy statement was the hardest four paragraphs that have ever emerged from this keyboard, but nonetheless it’s essential in figuring out how all the puzzle pieces of my life, jobs, skill-set, and passions fit together.  I think everyone should do it, even if you aren’t a teacher or and artist or particularly need a philosophy.

And, without further ado, here’s mine:

As an educator with professional experience in both the arts and sciences, I am convinced of the need for more integration of evidence-based practices in the arts, and more time-tested, somatic, experiential learning in academia.  To that end, I seek out opportunities to collaborate with peers and mentors to develop curricula that is effective and efficient.

I am passionate about the health of the dancer, and the majority of my work lends itself to understanding and articulating the body as it relates to dance.  Too often, the great work that is done in the scientific realm on dancers does not trickle down to its practitioners.

I believe it is my mission to use my experiences in dance and kinesiology to form an alliance between the two fields, with the ultimate goal of creating understanding and awareness around dance education and dancer health.  I believe that principles of educational psychology and learning are ubiquitous and should be implemented in dance classrooms as well as academic classrooms.  I believe that dance is a natural human tendancy, a healing art, and a means of discourse akin to any language.

Ultimately, my talent lies in my words, and in my ability to communicate, moreso than my ability to tendu.  Therefore, I resolve to be the messenger between these two worlds and further bridge the gap between experience and evidence.

How do we feel about this? Do you have suggestions that could make it better?

My favorite-est posts of all time

This post is short and sweet. I’d like to take a moment and share with you a mini-memoir of a few of my posts. Inspired by one of Dance Advantage’s upcoming circle time, I started reflecting on what I think is my best “stuff”.

Thoughts on stillness at artintercepts.orgMaybe these aren’t the best written, the most impactful, or even the most particularly useful to the greater body of knowledge, but these are the five that stick out to me.

1. On the blog at Art Intecepts I recently wrote a post about stillness, or lack thereof, and compared to the greater context of my life. It was a healthy reminder to me to slow the heck down, but not too much. Read about that here.

2. Shortly after returning from San Francisco this summer and speaking at the Dance/USA conference, I wrote on Dance Advantage about some conference take-aways, and the crtical need for a more effective conversation to take place in order to effect change in the dance community. Read about that here.

3. If you didn’t know I was gay, I guess you do now. Here’s my story, as told by me, on The L Stop.

4. I love to travel, if only to have a reason to write. One of my favorite travel posts came not from the coast of Italy, but from the middle of Wyoming. Read about the middle of Wyoming here.

5. Although first published on 4dancers.org, I love this post because, if for no other reason, it was my first appearance on The Huffington Post. If I had known all it was going to take was a jab at a famous dance critic and talking about naked dancing, I would have done so a lot sooner. You can read that one here.

Ok, so those are mine… what are your favorite posts?

Oh, stop it… you flatter me!

What I meant was, give me YOUR best stuff. For all the other bloggers out there, what is a favorite post you’ve written?