Do endings exist? Or instead, a plethora of overlapping beginnings?

It’s here. My last week of school. Ever. And quite frankly, I’m dealing with an extreme case of CES. I just made that up – Conflicting Emotions Syndrome.

Excited and scared. Nervous and ready. Ecstatic and devastated. Confident and confused. I mean, you name an emotion, and there’s a 88% chance that I’m feeling it, to some extent. Although, the majority of the time, the positive and fun emotions definitely overpower the negative and shitty ones. So that’s good!

This post is going to be a bit different than my previous posts – less information regarding outside research/sources and more information regarding raw and honest words deep within myself.

Oh, woah! Let’s get personal 😉

This entire semester was a roller coaster ride full of juggling focused energy with many distractions. As well as toying with the conflicting thoughts that included; preparing myself for the real world, auditions, budgeting, etc vs. truly allowing myself to experience and enjoy my last couple of months obligation-free. Whether the distractions involved partying, over-sleeping, Netflix, junk-food cravings, love, relationships and/or boys – they were present, and there is no denying it. Honestly, I feel as though I did a pretty damn good job of balancing each of these distractions and phases. I can sit at this point and be happy and grateful for where I currently stand. The future is obviously unknown, but I am coming to terms with the fact that, that’s never going to change – so my best bet is to embrace it head-on with every bit of confidence and determination. Which seriously excites me!

If I said my last day of dance classes at Point Park were extraordinary, I’d be lying. Because the truth is – they felt JUST as energetic, positive, exciting, challenging, tiring and straight up sweaty as every other class I took over the past three years. That’s what made it so special, I think. No matter what was happening behind the scenes, regardless of the petty drama that inevitably shows up in any sort of institutional or group setting, as soon as PJ and/or Gordon started playing that undeniably beautiful music- the bullshit faded and we just danced. We danced! Every single day! Therefore, I will cherish every single one of my classes JUST as much as I cherished those last 4 grande plies in second with Jason, and that insane race across the floor with Garfield. Thank you. To EVERY SINGLE person that I was privileged enough to cross paths with throughout college. Let the journey/excitement continue !!

I want to share with you a couple of things I will take away from my experience in school, as a young adult, in Pittsburgh, PA. I hope you enjoy –

I have learned:

That I don’t know myself quite as well as I thought I did. That I have a hard time sensing boundaries: personal and impersonal. That every emotion is a good emotion as long as you’re aware of its existence and you respond accordingly. That I really enjoy the city, any city, a lot! I love to explore new cities. I love to explore in general, but especially with a compainion alongside. I learned to laugh at things when they annoy me, and just how hard it is to laugh at things when I’m annoyed. What sexy really means. And the differences between loving a relationship and loving a lifestyle.

How to wake up after a late night – of rehearsing, traveling and/or even partying. That mirrors shouldn’t be magnets, even when they’re in front of you 12 hours every day. That Pittsburgh fans are the BEST fans. Go Buccos! What it feels like to care about both relevant and irrelevant topics. That my mom just keeps getting smarter, or maybe it’s that I keep finding ways to trust her guidance more and more. That bumps in the road, mistakes, and uphill battles are inevitable and necessary.That no matter who you are and/or how you act, there will always be people who don’t speak your truth, but there will also be people who give you too much credit – so I’ve learned to not think too deeply into either of those opinions. Only you truly know you.

I learned that life is a constant progression, and as long as I live by my “Two-P Mantra,” practice and patience, then my journey will continue to lead me in the right direction. I have learned whom I love. I learned that, that is all anyone ever needs: love. That love isn’t that complicated, but at the same rate, it happens to be the most complicated feeling to ever exist. I have fallen in and out of love – with friends, music genres, a boy… you name it. But I’m beginning to realize that love never really fades; instead, life just goes on. And that, that’s OK!

I have learned that timing is seriously KEY – and that being in the wrong place at the right time is a common thread throughout my life thus far. I enjoy that about my life, a lot. I learned what it feels like to become homesick. And how devastating it makes my stomach ache when my mom is in Texas or Michigan, but the only thing I want is for her to hold me and tell me that everything’s going to be all right. (Although this realization has also shown me that there’s nothing better than my Mom arriving to Pittsburgh (or wherever I am) – my heart immediately feels so much fuller.)

I learned that beginning fresh isn’t always easy for me, but at the same time, I crave change. I learned that it’s essential to have a friend who reminds you just how beautiful and talented you are. And how gratifying it feels to see her take an effortless breath of appreciation, and smile, when you remind her of the beauty and talent that she exudes herself. (Whether that’s through sharing poetry or horoscope threads)

That I enjoy walking, regardless of the weather. That writing is mandatory, and without it, I go mad. That a simple Facebook message can lead you to the most honest, caring, bold and spontaneous roommate anyone could ever ask for. (NO ONE could have handled us the way we handled each other. YOU selflessly remind me to stand my ground, and to truly believe that I deserve the best, no matter what. Thank you. I love you.)

I learned how happy and sad it makes me feel when I change my eating habits. I learned that there’s no sense in holding grudges or creating false accusations. Instead, you should genuinely want what is best for every single person – no matter who they are, or what they have/havent don’t for you. That YOU CHOOSE to be happy, just as, YOU CHOOSE to be sad – and that sometimes, you need to choose the not-so-fun one.

I learned that it’s pretty difficult to keep a surprise 21st birthday party a secret if you start planning 2 months in advance. But surprise 21st birthday parties are the BEST, especially when you have the opportunity to plan one for your best friend.

I learned how to voluntarily engage my hamstrings, and that it’s a lot harder to voluntarily engage my psoas. That I enjoy being held. That I swear/sweat a lot more than the average person. And that I don’t think I’ll ever try to fix or change those things about myself. I learned how to cook, how quickly bananas and avocados have to be thrown out, and that every time you prepare meat in a small apartment, the smoke detectors WILL alarm… every. single. time.

I learned that when someone spontaneously offers you a concert ticket, no matter how tired you are – take it! The people you spend hours dancing with, will end up being some of the most interesting and genuine humans you have yet to meet. I learned how happy music makes my body. (I learned that one two decades ago, I just enjoy the frequent reminders.)

I learned how tired I can become, and how quickly it can hit. I learned how important trusting your future is. And that it is absolutely pointless attempting to plan or predict it. You’ll get nowhere. I’ve learned that you WILL fail, and that failing always ends up being the best part – it opens new roads and leads you to new epiphanies. I learned that even when you’re naive, there will still be people who admire your innocent traits. I learned there are some things I may never be able to let go of. I learned the good, the bad, and the indifferent. I learned … that I have a lot to learn – and THAT makes me absolutely THRILLED for whatever is to come.

 

I want to thank every individual who assisted in making my college experience absolutely unforgettable. Specifically, My Mom, Ron, Landon, Aunt Jill and Uncle Gary, Dad, Cheryl, Dustin and Camran, Sasha, Garfield Lemonius, Jason McDole, Peter Merz, Ruben Graciani, Jennifer Edwards, all of the choreographers that I had the privilege of working with, all of the Parsons dancers and administrators, Katie, Vicki, Liz and Zoe, and Emilio. Each of you know why you hold a special place in my heart – thank you for the memories made and for the lessons learned.

 

On a final note – I do not know what’s going to happen, none of us really do. But what I can say is this – I am an example of following and pursing my dreams, regardless of ALL of the risk factors that undoubtedly go along with making that decision. I stand as that example, and quite frankly, the majority of my dearest friends do as well. (The majority of my readers also, I’m sure! ) And that gives me a sense of comfort, while diving head-first into the sea of unknown. Therefore – I can confidently say that no matter what happens – I will be happy. I will be excited. I will be working. And most importantly – I will be living!

 

Cheers to real life, y’all – Cheers to adulthood!

 

Good luck wishes are greatly appreciated 🙂

 

 

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Nipping (unnecessary) Stress/Anxiety in the BUD.

We meet again!

And honestly, how lucky am I to have YOU sitting on your iPhone/laptap interested in whatever the hell I have to say!? Cheers to that – and thank you!

Alrighty – let’s get going.

We can ALL admit (especially as performing artists) that sometimes we totally allow nerves, insecurities, adrenaline, anxiety, stress ETC. ETC. to get the best of us. There’s no denying that in some cases those emotions are necessary and actually ASSIST in our successes – but there’s also no denying that sometimes those emotions act too intensely and end up unintentionally defeating us.

In this post, I have laid out helpful, scientifically proven tips that can assist in finding that happy medium between good adrenaline and bad adrenaline.

How can we cure stress IMMEDIATELY? For instance – in an audition, before a performance, in an open class, etc.

My first couple of tips come from one of my professors, Jennifer Edwards. (mentioned in “Let’s Start Saving that Moolah”) She received these tips through both personal experience and outside research.

Edwards talks about how stress is stimulated and initiated by chemical responses – hormones and neurotransmitters. aka: EVERYTHING WE DO! That’s right – every single step we take, every decision we make, and every emotion we feel is controlled by these hormones and neurotransmitters. She told us how “stress is necessary and apart of our autonomic nervous system.” This sophisticated system, controls everything thats automatic. It prepares us for our fight or flight response – AND that’s what I’m getting at. The same chemical reactions that occur when we are being chased by a bear, also occur when we are about to walk into that audition, attempt that really hard combination, or step into the lights on that stage. A FREAKING BEAR, Y’ALL! For real? Yes. A freaking bear. Now, that’s straight up nonsense. No worries, though! Luckily we have another system that counteracts the autonomic nervous system. The handy dandy parasympathetic nuero system! Big words – I know! But it’s actually quite simple.

An easy way to decipher between the two:

Autonomic Nervous System = Brain —> Body

Parasympathetic Nuero System = Body —> Brain

This trusty parasympathetic nuero system has the ability to bring us back to an “active state of relaxation”, and WE can control when it steps in and overpowers our nervous systems. Of course, if you’re being chased by a bear, don’t mess with the parasympathetic guy – let Mr. Autonomic keep ya alive, BUT if you’re about to step into an audition, it’s probably a good idea to call upon some sense of leisure.

There are two things that we have total control of that can seriously and scientifically calm our nervous systems into understanding that we are, in reality, not running from a bear – just simply about to perform some choreography. God damn it, it sounds so hilarious. So dramatic. But it’s REAL!

  1. Respiration – BREATHE!
    • Relax your neck
    • Clasp your hands behind your back and open your sternum/heart
    • Open your hands

We’ve all heard it a million times – “just take a deep breath.” But the fact of the matter is, when we, as humans, take a second to voluntarily inhale and exhale, we are forcing the nuero system to take over that vicious (yet necessary) nervous system. Relax your neck, clasp your hands behind your back and open up your sternum/heart, and then release your palms forward opening your fingers as widely as possible.

Think about it – if a bear (Oh, God, I need to find another example, but this bear thing just really makes me laugh/realize how ridiculously we allow our minds to rule our actions.) ANYWAYS – if a bear were actually chasing us, would we seriously think about relaxing our neck or opening our palms toward something that has so much power to potentially kill us? HELL NO! This allows the brain to overpower the nerves and understand that we are OK. It tells our nervous system that we actually don’t need to be secreting THAT much adrenaline.

2. Blinking

Take control of those damn eyelids – tell em who’s boss! Make eye contact with someone. (Hopefully you have a friend near, so you don’t look like a total creep staring some random person fiercely in the eyes.) Like I mentioned above – if you were being chased by a bear, would you stop and stare at it in the eyes? I’d sure hope not. haha. Same thing is working here -you are using your body to tell your brain/nervous system that you aren’t in danger. Pretty fascinating!

The next and last part of this post will touch upon a TED talk by Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are. And holy shit y’all, this stuff is SO good, it had me in tears.

I have provided the video link so that you have the opportunity to listen and experience it for yourself – but bottom line, Cuddy expresses her interest and research on how your body language can directly effect your brain, which in return can directly effect your outcome.

She leaves you with the advice to stand in a “high power pose” for just two minutes before you enter your next stressful situation, and she backs it up with numerous scientifically proven facts that merely changing your stance changes the hormones being produced by your brain. She shares personal life experience and speaks rawly and honestly about her passion for this game changing research. Thank you, Amy Cuddy!

LOOK IT UP. WATCH IT. ENJOY IT. APPLY IT! 

I can’t wait to experiment with some of these things the next time I’m feeling nervous about an audition or entering any sort of high-stress situation, and I hope I was able to open your eyes to some pretty interesting news and tips as well!

Until next time, lovely people.

CHEERS!