Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Busy Body.


And this:

And this, too. . .

Is what I'm working on.  Remember "The Resolutions 2011" my online list of New Year's Resolutions? Well, I've been really working on an all of them this year (yay!) and one of the things I've been really serious about is my fitness.  First of all, it feels better to be in shape.  Second, it makes me better at my job/intended job as a performer.  The stronger your legs, the higher you jump.  The better your cardio, the easier you breathe on stage.  Pretty simple stuff, right?  Third, this is a shallow industry: when you're on a stage, those lights are really harsh. . . and it can be easy to judge.  Film - of all kinds - semi-permanently freezes your appearance forever.  So it better be good.  People want to look at pretty people, and while I think cultivating the inside is more important than polishing the outside - that intelligence, kindness, patience, humor, and class are more important than abs, highlights, and pouty lips - the manicured outside is part of the job.

Something I'm really happy about is my success level.  When I left for school last fall, I weighed around 135 lbs (my heaviest weight ever), was wearing a dress size 8, and pants around a 6.  I had made headway all year, loosing a little here, firming up a little there, progress, progress, progress. . . then when I got home almost a month ago, I finally made that big "Bam" break through.  Since I've been home, I dropped a pant size (I can fit back in my size 2s!  They're not quite comfy enough to wear, but they zip and I can move around) and since last spring, I have lost several dress sizes - I went to the mall the other day, and I swimming in the size 6s I was so proud of squeezing into just a few months ago!  I know that isn't biggest-looser weight loss, but a dress size or two is a lot, especially on a petite (I'm 5'2) frame.  Overall I've been feeling pretty good about things, and I thought I'd share some of my motivational images - as well as why I've had less time online - with anyone who cared to know.

Hope all is well in your worlds, lovely people! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekly Gratitude: Maybe the Last One Ever?

There is a rumor going 'round that the world is going to end tomorrow.  If thats true, I think it's a terrible shame: it really is an amazing place, and can be so full of goodness if you look for it.  What I think is even more unfortunate is those who believe the world is absolutely over tomorrow.  For those who are running around with heads full of regret and hearts full of worry, that is no way to spend their "final hours."  I hope they learn to live and love a little, when the sun rises on Sunday (as I sort of firmly believe it will. . .)  And those who are content, self-satisfied, standing on soapboxes and leaning out windows, shouting about doomsday?  Well, I hope for their sake's if they are right and the end of the world happens they've done something more with their lives.  You know, other than thump things and stand on corners and harass (more or less) innocent bystanders.

But all in all, I'm just not too worried about the whole thing.  There are so many things in my life to be grateful for right now. . .

*My little brother.  I don't know, I just love him extra this week.

*Having only a passing encounter with the cold that seems to have devastated the immune system of pretty much everyone I know. . .

*Cast lists.  And good things on them!

*6 in' Flatbread sandwiches at Subway.  Turkey-pepper-jack-spinach-tomatoes-red-onions-olives-jalapenos-more-tomato-pickles-no-sauce-no-salt-no-pepper-thanks.

*Yummy new recipes to try (at least, I think they were yummy. . . I got so caught up in the baking I didn't do a ton of the sampling. . .oops).

*Getting a chance to help Mum set out fitness, weight loss, and other health goals.  I'm really grateful for the chance to give back by encouraging and supporting her.  She's pretty much given her life to me and my siblings and I'm glad I can help her out.  Bonus points?  Her and Boyfriend are now committed to this healthier lifestyle thing.  Mwahahaha!

*Friends who make me laugh from 100s of miles away without even knowing I'm crying.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Five Hundred, Twenty-Five Thousand, Six Hundred Minutes

It's been one year. . .

Twelve months. . . 

8, 765.81277 hours. . . 

It's been eight weeks on a couch.

A summer spent on physical therapy, tears, nausea, and relearning parts of my own body.

It's been two semesters of holding back in dance classes.  Of explaining to guest instructors why I must modify their choreography.

It's been dozens of sleepless nights, fueled by pain.

It's been countless attempts at the most basic of exercises: a push up.

Innumerable muscle spasms.

Five prescriptions for five different painkillers: none that worked.

Two medical complications.

One nerve blocker.

A list of fears and what-ifs that is longer than I care to count.

A thousand supportive smiles and encouraging words from loyal friends.

The best specialist this side of Dr. House

One amazing Physical Therapist.

Two slings.

Four ice packs.

Three procedures.

And it has been 525,600 minutes since my shoulder surgery.  Since I gambled on the one thing that might -  that would maybe - give me a shot at pursuing my dreams.  That could stop the spasms, the dislocating, the pain, the numb fingers and the twitching forearm.  I know many people have overcome more than this: and that I haven't even overcome yet - I am still six months away from knowing if the procedures even worked.  But I am here: one year in.  One year later.  One year stronger.

And I thank God for that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Certain Rhythm

I've been done with school for about two weeks now.  Unfortunately, I didn't walk into a summer job.  Most of my teenage years I was "employed," in the family business - I also did a few summers at a local farm.  I enjoyed that work quite a lot, actually: it felt good, productive, better than waitressing or fast food or being in doors all day.  However, last summer I had my major surgery (it was actually a few procedures all rolled into one) and I was on bed rest for almost two months (I was stubborn and couldn't sit still that long).  Since that took me out of the work force, I couldn't apply for a job: I had hoped by the middle of the summer I might be able to work, but that was unfortunately not the case - I was in physical therapy right up until the week I left for school, just trying to be whole enough to dance.  This combination of events is why there is no steady summer employment waiting for me when finals ended.  However, in a few weeks elementary schools end and summer camps begin, and I have some work opportunities there.  I also teach: women's fitness, self-defense, private lessons.  I don't make a lot, but I get by.  Again, though, not until June do I have the chance to really begin working.

I was relatively pleased, however, to look back at the last two weeks and see I hadn't been entirely unproductive.  My days have developed a certain rhythm.  There is working on the disaster area that is my new room: it's a combination of everything I bring to and from college, the items my mom brought with me during our forced move, and other assorted things that no one was sure what to do with when they forced moved in. . . and my room was the most available space!  It's pretty well sorted now, as I spend part of everyday cleaning, going through belongings, sorting out what stays, whats given away, and what just needs to be tossed.

Then there is cooking: I love to cook and the luxury of making most of my meals is one I will never take for granted again, living on caf food.  I've been regularly experimenting in the kitchen: rasberry glaze, fresh hummus, chocolate cake, omelettes with various veggies.  Exercise is always in the mix, my 100 morning and 100 bedtime crunches, hand weights, going to the gym for a run.  I've had time to play online: retooling my blog, chatting with friends, compiling lists of DIY projects for my new room and for the space I'll be sharing with one of my best friends next year.  Watching reruns of favorite shows and brand new movies with Boyfriend.  Playing with the dogs.  Practicing, practicing, practicing, practicing - I miss my daily dance classes fiercely.

So while I haven't been working, and it's been rainy and blah (never a good thing for motivating me!) I do feel as though I've been able to maintain some level of productivity.  What about you, bloggers/followers?  What do you do when you don't have to work?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Last night I got the chance to see Botanica, the newest work by the dance company Momix.  Part modern dance company, part experimental performance troupe, part traveling Cirque Du Soleil, Momix is an incredible spectacle to behold.  I've had the opportunity and pleasure of working with assorted company members through master classes and workshops, and always walk away feeling inspired and refreshed.  To get to see their latest production was so exciting for me!  The tickets were my present from Mum for my 21st birthday back in March.  A perfect gift, no?

Here are some images from an amazing show!

The opening piece: the first thing involved the curtains on the floor billowing like waves.  Eventually the dancers rose out of it, after this giant flower rolled on stage and blossomed.

Somewhere in the middle of the first act.
This is the beginning of Boyfriend's favorite routines.

As she lifted it off of her head.

Beginning to build up speed. 

This dance was incredibly beautiful as she built up speed and traveled the full length of the stage, turning not stop.  Sometimes standing, sometimes on her knees, sometimes in classical western dance form.

This is the beginning of my favorite piece

Beautiful, no?
So many different floral images were projected.

Second favorite piece of the night.

Look closely at her.  Stunning.

There were so, so, so many other pieces and images.  I wish I could share them all with you, but even what Google images shows is more than I can fit in a reasonably sized post!  I hope someday to make art half so brilliant.

Weekly Gratitude 5/15

This has been sort of a long week in Lelaland, hence the Weekly Gratitude being on a Sunday rather than Friday or Saturday.  However, there are some serious gratitudes to check off this week!

*I'm grateful for the sound of rain and the brook at the edge of our yard, that comes in through the window in my new room.

*I'm grateful for a window to set my bed beneath (windows by the bed are sort of an obsession of mine.)

*I'm grateful for Hershey's Drops.  Just try them and thank me, ok?

*I'm grateful for the 21st birthday present my mom got me (tickets to see one of my favorite companies ever!  hells yeah!)

*I'm grateful for that new room I mentioned.  Basic shelter is more than a tragic number of people can claim.

*I'm grateful for my friend's helping me trust my instincts in the world of femininity and dressing.  I had on a cute, trendy-but-classic outfit last night.  Complete with hair and makeup.  I never would have done that without my girls' support.

*Cooking!  I love to do it.

*Boyfriend joining me on a quest to get healthier.

*The wedding and the wedding celebrations this summer!



*The feeling of an amazing workout.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let's Be Revelationary



Everything about this makes me want to shout "Yes!"  I love the way it looks, the feel of it.  The raised fist, the black & white, the various fonts.  It's revolutionary art, with the emphasis on art.  I love the message: it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes ever:

"The opposite of war isn't peace - it's creation,"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Lovely Breakthrough

A look at what went through my head during my MTE (Musical Theater Ensemble) performance final this weekend.

Breathe, just breathe.  It's going to be fine. I wish I'd realize when I signed up for the class that the final was a performance.  I still would have done it of course, I love to perform, but maybe I wouldn't have been so nervous to sing.  Alone.  In front of everyone. God, I wish I could afford voice lessons.  I'd be so much less nervous if I wasn't the only damn person in the class who wasn't taking those, too.  And now it was time to go out on stage: not that it should have been so scary.  I knew everyone out there, knew that if they had an opinion of me for the most part they wished me well.  Knew there were friends in the audience, loveable people who came just to show me their support. I hope none of my friends are out there.  It's going to be so embarrassing when I choke and my voice shakes and I squeak!  

Five minutes until places.  I look in the mirror and double check myself.  Instead of feeling better, I get more nervous.  It's my own face in the mirror, of course, but it looks different.  More mature, I suppose, and strangely composed.  At least it won't show on my face how embarrassed I am. I touch the corner of my eye hesitantly, right where I've winged the eyeliner out softly.  I hope I've done my makeup right.  The neutral eyeshadows, designed to highlight my eyes without being noticeable as "makeup."  I don't want to look like a frosted cupcake. The right shade of "bitten lip" pinkish red, so that my lips don't washout on stage.  If I look good and confident, it should help me sell this thing.  God I hope I don't choke. . . I brush my hair back from my face, noting how different my body feels when I get nervous.  Everything responds so slowly.  My senses are both heightened and muted, like a high definition TV screen with the volume turned way down.  I can smell my own hair as I brush it back: it smells vaguely perfume-y and sweet, from the spray I used when I straightened it.  I like it: like that its foreign, making me seem like a slightly different person.  The person with the similar but more elegant face, there in the mirror.  That person doesn't choke when she has to sing.


Oh God, oh God.  I wish I'd had more time to practice.  Why did we change my song so close to the performance?  I wish I had private voice lessons, then my nervous wouldn't show in my voice.  I'm the only person in my class without them, the only person who is limited to getting help and training from Steve during our vocal sessions.  I hate not having any money.  I hate that I couldn't afford lessons when I was younger.  I've already said and thought all of this, but I can't help it bubbling up inside of me again.

I shrug off my warm blue zip-up, borrowed from a friend.  My brand new dress hugs my body underneath.   I bought it for less than $20 when I was out with Sarah on one of our Adventures: at the time it had sat on the rack, so sexy and daring and elegant all at once.  It was such a pretty cut, and so inexpensive, I had to try it on.  It fit so well. . . Why did I listen when Sarah said how good I looked?  I don't dress like this.  I'm not pretty enough for dresses like this.  Oh my God, it shows off so much of my back.  I hate my back!  Thats stupid.  I've spent a million hours at the gym this semester: my back is finally fit and strong. I check the mirror one last hurried time as a scout from the dressing room - just to make sure it isn't too tight, or too short, or the wrong color, or any other excuse I can find to slip into one of my plain black cap sleeved dresses, nestled safely in my bag.  A security blanket I'm longing to wrap myself up in.  Anything to distract from the fact that I have to sing soon. . .

I walk quietly through the door to the stage behind Tyler.  He throws me a quick smile and I start to calm down a little bit.  It's amazing what a smile will do, a touch of compassion working wonders on a bucket of nerves.  One by one, most of my classmates step onto the stage; I watch them straighten as soon as the hot lights touch their faces, watch nervous eyes and comfortable postures and warm smiles on different people.  They introduce themselves, telling their stories one by one . . .

My parents didn't want me to do this, so I came to school as a Criminal Justice Major.  Then I tried Psychology.  I ended up Arts & Entertainment Management with a focus in performance. . . 

The cutest girl in school asked me to be in a show. . .

I didn't start early, like everyone else.  I'm a late bloomer. . .

My mom told me I had to be potty trained before I could dance.  I stop wearing diapers the next day. . .

If you have a Plan B, you'll use it and I don't want to. . .

I want to do it for my mom. . .

Little polished snippets of themselves: honest and light and charming, endearing snapshots of real people.  Life shined up to sound musical-hopeful.  Thats the thing about performing, even a stupid school final: you're asked to share something, something personal about yourself.  Hand it to the world to do with what they want- and then you gotta smile and sing.

"Some People," from Gypsy

The titular song from "Singing In the Rain,"

"Ten Minutes Ago," from Cinderella

"Shy," From Once Upon a Mattress

"They Say It's Wonderful," from Annie Get Your Gun

"Can't Say No," from Oklahoma!

The audience cheers and screams as my friends go on, giving them support and smiles as they take center stage.  Oh my god, I hope no one screams my name.  They think they're helping but I swear I'll cry.  I hear voices I know, familiar nicknames thrown around, cheers and hollers that tell me right where nearly every person I've ever met at school is sitting.

The last notes of "Singing In the Rain," interrupt my nervous thoughts and now Tyler's coming off stage and those bright hot lights are empty.  My heart rises somewhere up near my throat and my stomach plunges down around my knees.  I set on foot out onstage and my body knows just what to do.  I smile, like this is the easiest thing in the world.  My shoulders drop, and my feet carry me, accompanied by the clicking of my heels and the dull wooshing in my ears, to center stage.  I straddle my mark, just a few feet further up than some of the others stood  Nerves or not, singing or not, this is my audience for the next two minutes, and I am going to claim them - with my firmly planted stance and my smile and the easy way my voice lifts right out of me when I speak.   As soon as I start to tell my story, I know they can easily hear me in the back.  I find comfort in the carefully rehearsed words, the way the audience laugh easily at my joke in the middle.  I hear a familiar chuckle and know Nick is sitting in the front row - though I insisted he didn't come.  Just like Jess a few rows back, and Marissa in the middle, he'd ignored me.

I can do this.  Ignore them.

I introduce my song - "Lovely," from "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum," music & lyrics by Mr. Stephen Sondheim.  Two facts float throw my head briefly - "Forum was Stephen Sondheim's first full length production" ( three days a week studying the history of musical theater has paid of tragically well) and "Joelle played this role her freshman year.  She's so much better of a singer and sitting right near Ruthie!" I push both thoughts out of my head as Steve plays the intro.

"I'm lovely - all I am is lovely. . ."

My pitch is right.  My voice isn't shaking. I know what to do from here: I can act.  As long as I stay in key and remember to breathe, I'll be fine.

". . . winsome, what I am is winsome. . ."

The first of the higher notes comes and I offer a quick prayer please please please please please

"radiant as in. some. dream. come. truuuuuuuueeeeeee. . . ."

It comes out and suddenly I'm smiling.  The breath support is there, the note is clear and strong, my pitch is perfect.  I realize something, something pretty stupid but pretty important too.  I can do this.  I AM doing this.

And I sing and act my heart out.  There are giggle where it's supposed to be funny.  My pitch stays good, which is my weakest point.  I don't perform perfectly - but it's the very best I've ever done.

Then it's over and I smile, letting myself look past the bright lights to the faces I know, seeing happiness, relief, pleasure on their faces, matching the look on mine.  Sarah and Devon and Julia, Nick and Colin and Ruthie, Aaron and Jess.

I walk back stage, my stomach full of butterflies and ready to cry - from relief, and joy, and plain old nerves.  From an overwhelming sense of having just accomplished something invaluable.

I walk backstage, grinning like an idiot - Tyler's sitting in the green room, a smile so big his face looks like it might split in two.  Sarah K hugs me, and Karly applauds.  They always knew I could do it, of course - they just didn't expect me to.  Neither did I.

But I did.

And I will never, ever choke in an audition again.