Wonderfully You

Hey y’all. How ya doing? Hanging in there?

It’s March tomorrow, can you believe it? The month has flown by and I’ve been taking my time enjoying those quieter moments to just relax, let my brain veg for a moment. I wouldn’t exactly call it finding inner peace or stilling myself so much as just trying to figure out what is rest, what does that look like and how the heck do you keep yourself from bingeing all the Netflix shows or falling down the Instagram rabbit hole during rest.

I set up timers on my phone a few weeks ago so that I don’t spend more than an hour on social media a day. You guys. I did not realize how much time I was spending picking up my phone for a quick scroll here and there or how much time I took after work just mindlessly scrolling!

I also shut down all apps for downtime at 10:00 every night. Essentially I make sure the essentials are available (weather, clock, messages and phone), but everything else is off limits until 7:00 am. I was trying to make changes so the last thing I do at night and the first things I do in the morning have nothing to do with social media.

So far it’s been pretty helpful for me. You can try it, too, under "general settings and the tab “screen time.” Try it! I’m also attempting no-screen-time-Sunday’s…a challenge to be continued.

Social media can be great, a real tool to connect people, update on information quickly, spread a little joy even. I found myself falling into a not so good pattern. Too much time on the apps, too much time wasted, a need to check for…nothing really, and an overall dissatisfaction in general with myself. The highlight reels are so true and even I post only the good stuff. It’s what I want to put into the world, happy things. I posted a couple weeks ago about practicing patience and I realized in order to do a better job of that, to find satisfaction and gratefulness in my heart, I needed to separate myself from those apps. I’m ashamed to say it’s not been easy, but I’m definitely trying to break the habit or at least control the amount of time I’m on there and be more conscious when I am.

By setting timers to shut things down, I’m helping my brain to focus on things I want to do more, like reading. I actually just finished Misty Copeland’s book, Life in Motion, and loved it! I know, I’m late to the party, it came out in 2014, but I still found her story fascinating, her career amazing, and her words inspirational. You know what’s crazy is a year after she wrote this book she was announced as principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Dreams really do come true, baby! Truly though, read her story and you’ll see it came with a lot of work and a lot of support.

Misty’s story delved into everything about her journey including the doubts she had in her career. Doubts are like seeds, they creep into the back of your mind, plant themselves and they can grow if you don’t weed them out. Even after weeding, you might find a couple seeds are still there and they grow back. If you don’t pull those suckers out by the root, or even weed at all, those doubts can take over your mind like an overgrown backyard. It seemed that when faced with those thoughts Misty embraced them, entertained them even, and moved forward without ever actually falling prey to them because she knew her purpose on this earth was meant for more. Giving up was not an option.

The last chapter really spoke to Misty’s great understanding of herself, finding out who she was in life, in ballet, and fully immersing herself in that. I find that so inspirational, to really watch people embrace themselves. They just are who they are, for better or worse. They live and act in their truth without being in your face telling you who they are. They don’t need to because they’re just being themselves; their actions speak to that.

Also, how many times can a person use “they,” “their, “ and “they’re” in a sentence? Praise the holy Grammar Gods that my English teachers, including my mama, made dang sure I knew the difference!

Some of my favorite role models, choreographers, and characters are just like that: Gene Kelley, Scarlet O’Hara, Bob Fosse, Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman), Brenda Lee Johnson (of The Closer), and Dolly Parton. I know, it’s a random list.

I’m drawn to them because they’re fascinating to me and all they did was live their best lives, follow their path and their dreams. I’m sure each were faced with an opportunity to doubt who they were, but something told them not to. Ultimately when you know yourself you just are yourself, right? That fundamental “why” drives your actions.

I mentioned earlier my need to shut off social media (I promise this long post is all connected). In a lot of ways I felt like I kept seeing the same things online over and over again. Things that I once found so creatively inspiring became stale. Influencers using the same inflection, selling the same products, using the same presets, styles, and looks. Choreography videos of the same nature, not all, but many, and poses of the same kind. I like what I like but I began to realize that it all felt the same, nothing felt original or rather the better word for it, authentic. I started to feel stale .What was I on here for if I’m not getting inspired? Then it hit me, why the heck do I need to be on here to be inspired at all? Shouldn’t my own creativity be enough to fuel me to be, well…me?

So maybe I need to remember what I like, who I am, follow my why. If I step away from everything that’s packaged the same way, if I take a moment to delve deep into my own self, spend a little more time tapping into my own thoughts and creativity, maybe I could get a little more comfortable with who I am or at the very least, remember who that girl is before I was inundated with constant pictures of perfect. Had I forgotten what it was like to follow my gut?

Maybe I would actually take a step towards doing things that bring me real joy. Maybe I would actually feel a little less unsure of my song choices, movement choices, less lost on what to post, what to write because I’d actually be following my gut, numbers and followers be damned. Maybe I would actually spend more time working rather than “getting inspired” scrolling through the same content over again. Why couldn’t I produce the fresh content I’m craving? Be it in class, choreography, in my blog or heck, in my own life.

I suppose I’ve been on a thought train for a while about embracing oneself more, conforming less to what gets the most likes, and remembering that being yourself really is the only way to go for a fulfilled life. Following that heartbeat, following that drive the propels you forward is the only way to find a sense of self satisfaction. I know I could not live my life without dance even if means I didn’t end up on the Great White Way. I know I will always write even if it’s just a handful of people who read it or even just my mother. That’s being true to me, following what fuels me regardless of what it brings.

Misty Copeland’s book may have been about her journey to where she is today and if you’re wondering how these thoughts all intersect, remember she is in the ballet world, a world that demands perfection. Artistry is abound, your own mark and style is required to make you stand out and yet, there are rules to making it to the top, requirements that demand time, energy, and perfection. Doesn’t that sound like social media today? Be yourself, but if you want to be well received, well liked, these are the things that will get you there. A constant battle between excelling at the basics, but leave your mark as only you can. It’s the same as demonstrating a tendu or taking a picture of your coffee, the use of épaulement or the way in which you shot the pic can grab the attention of the viewer.

It’s all relative I suppose. I took away many things from Misty’s book, how her path truly lead her to where she is today, all the people that helped her along the way, and how all it took was one teacher just noticing her abilities and someone else offering her the opportunity. My goodness, it’s remarkable. At the heart of it, she had to be true in what she wanted, following that desire many times over even if it meant going against the wishes of others. Misty’s story really is a good reminder that becoming who you are is a journey and that you need only look inside to fully embrace wonderfully unique and original you. So maybe get off the apps and start following your gut more, remember who you are away from the influence of constant perfection.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time…

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.

- Judy Garland

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Just a Little Sunday Hello!

Hello!

Good morning! Or afternoon or evening, whenever you’re reading this!

Just a quick little post to say hi y’all! I’ve been eyeball deep in work, no surprise, but I’ve also been actively trying to enjoy the downtime I have in the evenings and weekends. Somehow taking a little less pressure off myself to accomplish and do all the things seemed like a bright idea to reduce stress. Who’da thunk?

In that down time I’ve gotten to enjoy finally seeing The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I love it! I think Amy Sherman-Palladino is brilliant and I love her quirky style, fast dialogue, and the characters she creates (read: original Gilmore Girls fan). In any case, yes, I know I’m late to the game but I really wanted to like it and surprise, I actually loved it! On to season two!

I wrapped up The Bear & The Nightingale trilogy. If you are someone that enjoys fantasy books, this one is really lovely. Katherine Arden blends Russian folklore together with some historical references, it’s very light and she’s well aware she’s mixing things together for this beautiful story. Essentially you follow the story of a young woman on her journey to fully embracing herself as a witch by watching her grow up, mess up and rise above all the struggles, and she she has a lot. In a lot of ways, if you strip away all the folklore, you read about woman growing up, discovering who she is, learning to embrace that even if it costs her the security of familiarity by walking down the traditional path. I know I’m summarizing three books very, very broadly.

There are tons of books that take on that subject, most likely set in current day, but what I really liked about this character is that she never shied away from what she knew she needed to do or wanted to do. Even if her family told her, “this is a terrible idea,” she went through with it because she knew it was what was best for her. I get very tired reading about the same character that has a responsibility and doesn’t want to step up to the plate. For Vasilisa, our heroine, she just continues to plow ahead without really sitting down to feel sorry for herself (Thank you!).

Here are all three books with the most gorgeous covers! Yes, marketing teams are totally selling to people like me.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the fun read and it was something different to dive into. Plus, any time I can find a series I’m usually sold. I love seeing characters continue on and if I’m really enjoying the book, there’s nothing better than knowing another story is around the corner!

Currently I’m wrapping up Life in Motion by Misty Copeland. I picked up her book just before school started as a nice way to get back into reading more on dance. When I think back to my college days, I couldn’t believe I got to spend so much of my time immersed in dance and I thoroughly enjoyed our dance history classes. Reading and writing about dance? Yes, please and thank you, more please!

But as many people will tell you, when your hobby becomes your job, and know that dance was always more than hobby for me, things shift a bit. Your whole world revolves around the subject and there’s no other creative outlet outside of that passion which means the chance of burnout is pretty strong. So, I tend to turn off a lot of dance things at home in order to recharge a bit. I listen to podcasts, I ready murder mysteries and fantasies, I cook and bake, study fashion bloggers, and anything else I can find to let my dancer brain rest.

I wish I could be that person that’s always fueled by it, completely content to think, talk, dream, do nothing but dance, but I’m simply not. For a long time I thought that made me a terrible dancer if I wasn’t 1,000% committed all the time. I actually came to realize that it helps make me a more well rounded person and therefore better at my job because I can get perspective.

In any case, I thought this year I could dedicate some time outside of work to dance a little more often and do it because I wanted to, not because I needed research for a project or lecture. See the difference there? Whether that was spending an afternoon watching a dance documentary or a musical or reading a dance related book, I just wanted to enjoy it simply for pleasure again.

So here we are, reading Misty Copeland’s book and I’m definitely enjoying it. I only knew a fraction of her story and I was always fascinated with her. My niece in particular thinks she’s amazing and she is. How she got where she is was truly a path of hard work, dedication, pure love for the art, and a whole heck of a lot of believers supporting her.

Alright y’all, that’s my Sunday wrap up! I’ve got a week full of choreography and grading ahead so it’s time to get back to work. But if you’ve got any reading suggestions, let me know in the comments section. I’m always looking for another good read!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

Penny likes a good read so long as there’s cheek scratches to go with it!

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Currently Reading...

Back in college, I couldn’t wait for summer to happen so I could dive into reading for pleasure! There simply wasn’t enough time with projects to work on, classes to craft, and tests to study for so summer was the time to catch up.

When adulthood happens, that is to say, life after school, I got really focused on work and suddenly there wasn’t really a summer break to spending reading gobs of books. I just had to somehow fit in reading for fun and I wasn’t very good at that.

To get better with having some fun reading outside of work, I make it a goal to read for 15 minutes every night. I get as far as I need to, sometimes I stay up a little later and sometimes I just crash, either way I get a little closer to my goal of more reading for fun!

Lately I’ve been on a fantasy kick with Bear and the Nightingale (A Winternight Trilogy) by Katherine Arden. Actually, I blew through that so fast and now I’m on to The Girl in the Tower, the second in the trilogy story. If you think I’m stopping at two, you are dead wrong! And oh, they’re great! Russian folklore with a twist, a mysterious magical young woman and her great adventures on a noble stead. Seriously. What more could you ask for?

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Summer Books

Summer reading, had me a blast! Summer reading, happens so fast!

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Okie dokie--someone got me stuck on Grease here recently and those darned songs just get stuck in your head! Not the point of the post, but summer reading actually is! My goal this summer was ten books and I'm a little bit behind. OK, I'm a lot behind! No worries, I'm sure I'll catch up and with a set time of reading for 20 minutes each night before bed, I'm sure to make it happen. So long as I don't get sucked into scrolling Insta...

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

"Yeah right, Mom" - Penny, My nighttime reading buddy. 

I reached out on Facespace a while back for good recommendations to read and so many people hit me up with awesome sounding novels. I'm working my way through the list right, but here's what I've read and loved so far: 

1. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Oh. My. Gah. Wonderful read. So many moments I just did not see coming and the author did a great job of throwing me some curve balls when I thought I knew exactly what was going on. Get it. You won't regret it!

PS--Amy Adams and Julianne Moore are starring in the movie version! Just announced last week! 

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

We interrupt this chapter for a chin scratch.

2. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Beautiful novel about three women that come together in the aftermath of WWII, becoming a new family, working through their ghosts and all that happens after. It was just an incredible read based on the author's stories from her grandmother--I read that after I finished it because you just feel like every story told is so very, very real. 

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

Can I help you? I'm in the middle of this story...

3. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Alright, it's a total young adult novel, but I still enjoyed it. I definitely got vibes of Katniss and every other female heroine in a dystopian universe that's out there lately including the love triangle. Still in all, it was a fun quick read for adventurous story. 

I use the Overdrive app to rent books from the library. I've put several on hold and when they pop up, I have a week to read them before they disappear. Needless to say I've started several and haven't finished them yet including The Wife Between Us, another suspense book I really want to finish! I'm patiently waiting my turn (again) for about four incomplete books right now...whoops! 

Just got to a good part! 

Just got to a good part! 

I'm working my way through Nightingale currently and really enjoying it, another WWII historic fiction this time about two sisters. Truly, I think historic fiction is probably one of my favorite book categories. In any case, back to reading! I've got another four books to finish after this one! 

What books are you reading this summer?  

Our little hambone, Penny. She's a sucker for those belly rubs! 

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Dreaming of a Book Filled Christmas

OK, it may be November still but I'm already dreaming of Christmas break! Only another week and a half of classes and then a week of finals. Sure, there's a ton of things to do between now and then but as soon as the grades are, my office is picked up, and the fall chapter closed, I will be happily in my home embracing all the Christmas wonderfulness this season! 

What, pray tell, does that include? A ton of reading! 

I was getting really great at taking 15-30 minutes a night to read an unwind and when the Thanksgiving break hit, my reading slowed to a halt. Next week is show week so you know there won't be any time for pleasure reading since we'll be up in the theater every night. I figured this would be a good time to start plotting my next reads for the break. 

Poldark

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I've been obsessed with the show ever since Big Sister told me about it. I literally set up a nest on my guest bed, made myself hot tea and embroidered while I traveled back to 1770 something for all of seasons 1, 2, and 3. It was heaven! 

I can't wait until season four to know what's happening so I think it's only reasonable I dive into the series! 

Little Women

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I guess I'm into these older tales, but at least I've jumped to the 1860's! As much as I love the story and the movie, I have never sat down to actually read this book. I don't know why, it just seems like a perfect Christmas time story to read. Perhaps it's the idea of family, sisterhood, and love, all those feel good emotions that pop up around the holidays. 

The Snowman

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I know, a total left turn from the historic line and romantic era, but I've been into suspense novels as of late and this one just looks like a good winter spook. Might have to save it for January but it's definitely one at the top of the list for me. Sounds like a good one story to me! 

 

All I have to do know is make it through all the grading and then, it's all about relaxing and enjoying some much deserved down time! 

What kind of books are you looking to sit down with this December? 

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Fall Greetings

It's fall, y'all! 

Well...

As close to fall as we get here in Oklahoma, although, it's certainly more fall than Texas, that's for sure! We've got falling leaves and the temperatures are dropping, too. It's that time of year you leave your house wrapped up for winter and come home stripped down to your skivvies. The weather is ridiculously fickle, but hey! That's fall in OK for ya!

Speaking of fall, it is October, end of the month, really, and I've found myself craving some good ol' Halloween tales. Some spooks. Things that make your brain go "eek!" While I'm not a blood and goop reader, I do enjoy a good suspense story and I found two I really enjoyed: 

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

The Dry by Jane Harper 

I found My Husband's Wife as a recommendation on Pinterest--there's so many book recommendations on there, it's ridiculous, but also very helpful, really. I really enjoyed the journey of the story. Each piece of information you got kept you thinking what would each twist in the plot lead you to next.

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The Dry was a Reese Witherspoon recommendation. Not that I know Reese personally, I just happened to read her list on People.com. Yes, I do love to read me some People. Anyway, I devoured this story! Our protagonist is on a quest to find out if his friend really did commit a heinous crime or if it's a cover-up from a secret they both kept from long ago. So. Flipping. Good. Go read it. Seriously. Go. 

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And if you want something a little more fantastical, something with a bit of mystery, try The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern. I loved it and it totally fueled my creative imagination in a way I really needed. 

I'm on to my next book and hoping to keep the good reads coming. I've been trying to make it a nightly habit to leave the phone on the charger and read rather than scroll. My brain needed some refueling and I'm happy to say I get so much more by activating my imagination with these stories than mindlessly scrolling for the forty eleventh time. 

Oh! One last thing! I've gotten picky about buying books and with as much as I'm trying to read, I just can't go out and buy book after book. I use the OverDrive app and you might want to try it, too! It's your library online! I connect to my local library using my library card, of course, and I check out books for 7 or 14 day periods. I have a wish list that I keep and holds I put on books that I want to read when they come available. It's awesome! Check it out if you haven't tried it yet. 

What books are you reading these days? Any favorite spookers or suspense novels? Share! 

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Summer Reading: Book 1

As a kid there were certain things that happened at the start of summertime. One, summer had to be kicked off with an ice cream cone or a shaved ice. Second, a trip to the library for a summer reading list. There was always a program where kids could earn little hamburger coupons to McDonald's depending on how many books you read. In short, reading equaled happy meals.

Well, my love of reading grew over time and earning coupons just wasn't necessary. Reading was an escape, an adventure, a way to visit a whole other world. I  think it's a wonderful way to spend time, but alas, I'm not very good about reading in my free time during the school year. Guess what though? It's summer time, baby, and time to hit the books! 

I just got a library card (don't judge, I just never took the time to get one when I moved back to OKC) and I'm ready to catch up on all the books I've been keeping on a list! My goal every summer is to read ten books. Some years I hit it, some years I don't. Doesn't matter because I still get to enjoy the gift of a book! 

First up this season, The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica MorganIf you like Princess Kate, Duchess of Cambridge,  and are anywhere remotely interested in her romance with Prince William, then you'll be guaranteed to enjoy the book. If nothing about the royal couple intrigues you, better steer clear of this one then! 

I first heard about the novel last summer while listening to a podcast on one of my many road trips that season. I was completely enamored with the story mainly because I think the Duchess of Cambridge is the epitome of classy. I've been waiting for the chance to sit down and devour this fictional royal love affair. 

They Royal We takes you through the relationship of American girl, Rebecca "Bex" and her real life prince charming, Nick. It's an easy read, completely fictional, but the authors have done a great job trying to immerse you in what they imagined dating a royal would be like. There's love, drama, and all the other good things a clean royal romance would need. In short, a fun summer read if you're the type of person to wake up an absurdly early time just to watch the Royal Wedding and weep through the entire ceremony. 

Thanks, Amazon, for the pic! 

Happy reading! 

What's something you've got your nose stuck in currently? 

 

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