Goodbye January, Hello February

At the start of each month, I take a look back at the past few weeks and highlight three things that I accomplished, as well as three highlights for the month to come. It’s a nice way for me to check in and see how things have progressed over time.  Like the idea? Feel free to make it your own! Leave a comment below, I’d love to follow along with your updates!

January Favorites
Local architecture, yummy coffee, and our students after our show.

Whew. Just like that, the first month of 2015 is gone! It’s been a little bit since I’ve taken some time to check in on what’s happened over the last month. At end of December, I published a yearly wrap-up, but I’ve missed these little mini check-ins!

I’m a day or two behind (I blame it on the snow), but there’s still lots of time in February to get some big ideas rolling. 2015 started off pretty strong, and I intend to keep that trend rolling in the month to come!

In January, I…

  • Enjoyed some time off for the holidays. Okay, so this one trickles over into December as well, but who’s counting? I took a little over a week off of work surrounding the holiday season, and it was just what I needed to refresh my mind and start the year ready to run. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to jet off to a picture-perfect destination as I would have liked to, but that’s a goal for 2015!
  • Traveled to NYC for my third NY Times Travel Show. I can’t believe this is the third year I’ve attended this event for work! Time flies, right? I only ended up working the set up & first day of the event due to some other things going on (keep reading…), but it was just as much of an adventure as any other year is!
  • Debuted a new piece of choreography. Amanda, Arenda and I presented new work at the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange’s Cabaret Nights IX this month. It was great to be able to perform in a different setting than I’ve been used to of late… cough cough, football field. We had wonderful support from friends & family, some of our students even came to watch! You can view our piece here.

In February, I will…

  • Get back into gym mode. Alright, confession time. I’ve totally been a slacker since the holiday season, and I need to get my butt back into gear! The cold weather definitely does not make it easy to leave my warm office over lunch and head to the gym, but I’m going to tackle it!
  • Plan ahead. I’ve got a lot of things coming up over the coming months from football games, to dance competitions, to work events, and more. Now, more than ever, it’s important that I really look forward and plan ahead so that I can tackle all the goals I have stored up in my brain. I’ve been making some baby steps here, but it’s crunch time. Now, let’s get focused!
  • Write, write, and write some more. I’m really feeling ready to make some big strides, and will be stepping up my writing game here, at work, and beyond. Stay tuned for some fun!

As a new part of this series, I’ll also be including three goals to accomplish in the month ahead.

In February, I’d like to tackle…

  • Two books. Not That Kind of Girl and Yes Please have been calling to be from my bookshelf for weeks!
  • Three new recipes. It’s been quite some time since I tried something new!
  • Research into purchasing a domain name. I know this is a step I need to take eventually, but there are so many things to consider in the meantime!

Cheers to the start of a new month!
Keep me in the loop if you’re starting your own monthly check-in series. 

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Web Wanderings

This week’s edition of Web Wanderings takes a little different twist. In addition to the Links I Love for the week, I’m also going to be including some favorite blog posts, words of wisdom, and more from around the web. Consider it a glimpse into the craziness of my week! Web Wanderings (1)

Links I Love

  • Behind the Scenes: Sia’s Elastic Heart video shoot. With the release of this beautiful piece from Sia came an awful lot of drama. The video features Maddie Ziegler of Dance Moms fame, along with actor Shia LaBeouf. This video gives a bit of insight on what inspired the story and how it all came together. (Bonus: another fantastic performance of this song which aired on Ellen this week)
  • #sleevebucks: Taking Starbucks coffee sleeves and turning them into pretty drawings. My personal favorite is the Hermione Granger sketch- if you know me, you know I love all things Harry Potter!
  • Dancer Freezes Time: Okay, so this is an ad for powdered milk/coffee creamer/something of that sort. But the images the photographer was able to capture are absolutely stunning. Am I crazy for thinking that these would make beautiful wall art?

Favorite Reads & Inspiration

  • Walk on the Wild side: Cheryl Strayed’s 1,000-mile hike: I read Wild cover to cover in one sitting and am absolutely dying to see the film.
  • Are You At War?: Maxie McCoy is one of my favorite writers. It seems that her words always hit home at just the right time.
  • Get Gutsy Week Wrap-Up: I was thrilled to be a part of Jessica Lawlor’s 2nd Annual Get Gutsy essay contest this year. At the end of the contest she brought everyone together for a week full of gutsy-ness, which included an awesome Twitter chat. You can see the summary of the chat here, and be sure to have a look at my contribution to the Get Gutsy essay contest. The full list of entries are available to read on her site as well.

Quote of the Week

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

Cheers to the weekend, even though it’s looking cold & snowy!

Coming to Terms & Getting Gutsy

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. This post is my entry for Jessica Lawlor’s Get Gutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details and download a free copy of the inspiring Get Gutsy ebook.

Earlier tonight, I had a massive flashback to college. Rushing home from dance in the freezing cold, a million thoughts rushing through my mind. Most of them center around the constant to-do list that is running in my head. GutsyOut of clean underwear? Whoops, guess tonight just became laundry night. That paper due tomorrow? Nope, haven’t started it. Sigh. Cue the coffee.

For someone who loves planning as much as I do, it’s odd that procrastination is such a terrible habit that I just can’t seem to break. Three years post-grad, and here I am faced with the same issues. The clock ticking down to deadline and I am just booting up my MacBook to start clicking away at the keys.

It’s risky, but it’s how I work best.

Believe me, I had a million other plans for what I was going to be writing here. It’s no secret that I draw inspiration (a lot of it) from Jess, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the Get Gutsy essay collection this year. I’ve spent the last month with ideas bouncing around in my brain, trying to think up an exciting, and equally inspiring, story that I could submit.

But do you know what I’ve realized? That’s not what I am. I’m not jumping out of airplanes or runnings marathons. That kind of thrill is just not in me.

I’ve spent the last few years trying to find what I want to be, who I really am. I know, I know. Here we go with another ‘twenty-something finds herself in a sea of chaos’ story. I promise, that’s not where I’m heading.

2014 wasn’t an easy year for me. It was filled with ups and downs. Personally, professionally, emotionally. You name it, I dealt with it. Through it all, I tried to build myself up to all of these ideals that I saw other people achieving. The job promotion. The engagement. Even something as trivial as the beautiful meal posted up on Instagram.

I spent my year comparing myself to others and trust me, it was not pretty.

Near the end of the year, I started to realize that maybe the things I thought I wanted aren’t actually what I want. I don’t need to be making strides at the same pace, or even in the same pattern, as my peers. I need to just be me.

In my quest for perfection, I became a very toxic person. Even I didn’t like to be around me. My anxiety was at an all-time high, I snapped at people over stupid little things. The roughest part? I didn’t even realize it along the way. It hit me all at once like a ton of bricks.

I was unhappy with the way my life was going. I was unhappy with the path that I was on.

For someone who always likes to have the right answers, that’s not an easy thing to admit. It’s taken a lot of me-time to sit and process all of my thoughts and what steps I need to take to remedy the things that cause me so many struggles.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned so far, it’s that it is okay to not hit every check-in point along the way. It’s okay to change your mind, or even start a new journey all together.

2015 is the year of me concentrating on me.
Selfishness in the best (and most necessary) kind of way.

I’ve finally realized that in order for me to start accomplishing big goals in my life, I need to take care of myself first. It’s not going to be an easy path; I’m not very good at accepting failure. But even a tiny win is still win, and all the little changes add up to big progress.

I’m getting gutsy and challenging myself to reevaluate the priorities and patterns in my life. To make more intentional decisions. To keep the big picture in mind as much as possible. And most importantly, to roll with the punches and not sweat the small stuff.

Now that we’re all the way down here (sorry that this became a sort of a tangent), you might be thinking “so what? What’s the big deal with all of this?” And honestly, I can’t tell you right now. I don’t have the answers. It’s as new to me as it is to you, but that’s half the fun of it.

Stick around and you’ll see where we end up!

Fifteen in ’15

The talk of the town this time of year certainly revolves around New Year’s Resolutions. But what starts out as an awesome goal typically turns into a wasted wish shortly into the month of January. 15 in 2015

Gyms are packed with those looking to reach fitness goals, but that will all clear out by the close of the first month. That healthy eating you’re trying to tackle? Taco Bell will sneak in there sooner or later. Don’t get me wrong- I admire those that can stick with their plans for the full year. In fact, I’ve been known to set some lofty goals for myself.

Rather than establishing one big resolution for 2015, I’ve decided to take  step back and reflect on what I’ve learned in 2014 and put that to use. How do I want to carry out the next year? What changes do I want to make? I remind myself over and over that baby steps add up to big changes, and that’s going to help me work my way through 2015.

I’ve rounded up fifteen topics that I’d like to spend time on throughout 2015. There’s no specific goals in mind (well, not for every one), but more of a guideline of intentional living for the next year.

  1. Communicate. Admittedly, I’m not the best at staying in touch with friends, old or new. There are far too many good friends that I haven’t seen in years, and I’d like to make an effort to change that.
  2. Hydrate. Coffee runs in my veins, but there certainly is not enough water in there. What’s the recommended amount now? Eight glasses per day? That seems like so many! Regardless, you’ll see me filling up my cup more often this year.
  3. Read. The last two weeks have brought on a huge reading kick for me. I forgot how nice it feels to curl up on a rainy Saturday night and get lost in a book. I’ve got quite the stack of literature ready to go on my nightstand, and I’m ready to tackle that and more!
  4. Adventure. Sometimes you need to just take a walk on the wild side. I tend to get a little comfy in my ways, but this year I am ready to take some risks and challenge myself in tons of new ways.
  5. Exercise. Okay, so here we are with the stereotypical resolution. I always forget how great I feel after a work out until I actually make it happen. Even a quick trip to the gym over lunchtime makes a world of difference during my day. Here’s to chasing after those post-work out endorphins.
  6. Learn. I truly miss being in an academic environment, but that doesn’t mean that the education has to stop. There are so many great resources just waiting for me to take advantage of them, and I’m excited to dive into some new projects.
  7. Rest. Overexertion is just a bee-line for burnout. I’ve learned that when I’m tired, it’s better to just rest than try to keep pushing myself through. I’ll end up being more productive post-sleep anyways.
  8. Organize. I live my lists and calendars, and am going old-school with a paper planner this year. With so many projects going on, it’s nice to have a home base of my life in one bound book. I’d like to continue that organization to the rest of my projects that might be a little more off the cuff than I’d like them to be.
  9. Relax. Whether it’s with a warm bath or a yoga class, I need time for me. Fueling my introverted side is the only way for me to be really balanced throughout my day. Me time gets a front seat this year.
  10. Create. Choreography. Writing. Crafts. Goals. Making all of these things happen is on my to-do list for 2015. I need to hone in on the aspects that add fire to my creativity and go from there.
  11. Travel. My wanderlust is always in full force. Ever since I spent a semester in London, I’ve be wanting to pack my bags and head out on whatever flight is next on the list. This year, I’m hoping to cross a few destinations off of my list.
  12. Write. An obvious one. I’m off to an okay start, and am ready to challenge myself in my writing. I’ve always wanted it to become a regular habit in my life, and am hoping to increase the frequency of it this year.
  13. Love. Myself, my family, and those around me. I sometimes jump to the negative aspects too quickly, rather than taking time to reflect on all the love that surrounds me.
  14. Appreciate. With running from job to job, I sometimes forget to stop for a moment and appreciate how lucky I am.
  15. Enjoy. Even if nothing else on this list comes to fruition, at least I’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Let’s do in, 2015. I’m ready for ya!

A Year in Music: Top Tracks of 2014

For the last Monday of the year, I figured there was no better way to close out than with an edition of Music Monday. L I S T E N

Last year, I published a playlist of my fifty favorite songs of 2013. I always love sharing my music tastes, and it made for a nice little wrap-up for me.

This year, Spotify had a feature to download a pre-made playlist with your top played tracks in the year. It shapes up to be a bit different than last years- not all of these tracks were released in this calendar year. You’ll find some tracks tucked in here that don’t typically fit in with my tastes… the downfall of using Spotify as I teach a variety of dance classes.

So sit back, relax, and have a listen. To save the playlist, simply follow me on Spotify and hit Subscribe on the playlist itself.

Cheers to more great music in 2015!