It seems that my motto these days has been “I feel blessed to be stressed.” With the year coming to a close, these past few months have been an absolute tornado – but not the kind that drops a house on a wicked witch and leaves you stranded in a world of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!). This tornado has led me to meeting incredible people, being filled with more inspiration than I could have ever imagined, and furthering my career in the dance world in ways that I thought I could only ever dream of. Now, don’t get me wrong – lions, tigers, and bears have been thrown my way, but I think I am okay with playing zookeeper for a little while. The added stress that comes with it is a blessing…or at least according to me.
At this point in my career, I have either taught, performed, choreographed, or judged in five out of the seven continents. Still, I can hardly even believe that I can make that statement. In fact, I had to make a list for myself because I am still in shock:
- Europe (Denmark, Russia, Slovenia, London in a few weeks)
- Asia (China and Russia )
- North America (16/50 states)
- South America (Chile and Ecuador)
- Australia (Melbourne)
- Africa (maybe next year?)
- Antarctica (think the penguins need some lessons?)
*Russia technically falls under Eurasia, with portions being split between the two respective continents.
Traveling the world has always been a dream of mine, something I promised myself that I would try to do while I was still young. However, I never imagined that I would have the pleasure of traveling for work – doing what I love and working with people who continue to fuel my passion in the most amazing of ways. Seeing dance all over the globe has informed me as an artist and has opened my eyes to the expansiveness of the dance world, which tends to feel so small. Teaching classes, presenting courses, and choreographing on groups of athletes who speak a completely different language has changed my tendencies as an educator and has grown the way that I structure and facilitate my lesson plans. I can honestly say that with each trip I take, a new light is sparked in at least one aspect of my career.
To recall that just a year ago, I was finishing up my last-first semester at OSU seems unreal and looking back at my calendar, it seems that the best way to describe it could only be a tornado. Home for a day or two àgone for a week or three àhome for an hour àteaching for ten: who would have guessed that I would find myself here in just the first 6 months out of school?! Which is why the only sentence that continues to repeat itself in my head is just this: I feel blessed.
Now, as I mentioned, with every new trip and opportunity comes a little bit of stress added to my usual routine: preparing lessons and choreography, applying for visas, finding substitutes, getting laundry done in time to be re-packed, re-scheduling life so that I can accept these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that are thrown my way; the list goes on. I feel truly humbled and honored to have been considered for these trips, and that is why I think I will always say that the stress is worth it. However, it has definitely been a shift in the past two months when life has started to work in its own timeframe: health concerns started to appear, dental work deadlines quickly approached, loved ones passed, and my calendar started to blur amongst the chaos. Life seemed to be moving a bit faster than I could catch up to it, and for the first time in a long time I think I started to find myself a bit overwhelmed. I have always been one to “do the most,” but am now finding myself searching for time to “take care of me” – something that has to be put in quotes because I am not entirely sure that I have figured out what it means yet.
I love the hustle. I am thankful and grateful for the hustle. To be honest, I do not think I would be the best version of myself if the hustle completely came to a halt. And that brings me to the new outlook that I have started to have on what this hustle is to me, and how it is my “self-care” in its own way. No matter how bogged down I may be with work and reality, these short trips where I can dive into my profession and do what I love leave me feeling re-energized and inspired. They spark new passions and perspectives that catalyze some of the most incredible “butterflies” inside me. They bring me back to reality with revamped and solidified goals as I work with my dance students at Magnificat High School, Baldwin Wallace Community Arts School, and Dance Lakewood. They push me to become a better instructor, growing with my students throughout the course of the season. Those butterflies remind me why I chose to go to college for a degree that “would not pay the bills.” Well, to all who ever doubted that choice: here I am, traveling the world for a career that I am constantly falling more and more in love with. If that isn’t a blessing, I’m not sure I know what is.
So as 2019 comes to a close in the next few weeks, my many thanks and love is sent across the globe to those I have had the pleasure of getting to know and be inspired by, and to those that I hope to meet and dance my heart out with in the future. This 2019 Tornado is one that I have been happy to be swirled around in, and I can hardly wait to see what 2020 has in store.