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!


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.




Let’s Start Saving That Moolah.

We meet again! First of all – let me say, I’m absolutely stoked that you decided to continue following montifresh and read my next post. Let’s get goin!

My previous post touched on four ways how to make “The Big Move” run as smoothly and accessibly as possible. But let’s be real – the best and least stressful way to make this next chapter start off smooth, is having a few saved pennies in the bottom of our piggy banks.

SO – How TF do we start saving money NOW?

I’ve done some yummy research and have found some fantastic ideas that we NEED to start applying to our lives, like.. yesterday!

(I stumbled upon another wordpress blog (theyounghopeful) that writes a “a girls’s guide to thriving in college.” Hot damn! I wish I would have stumbled upon their posts three years ago. The specific post that I will be quoting is “The College Student’s Guide to Saving Money,” and while some of the tips would have been helpful to know as a freshmen, a couple of them can still be useful for graduating seniors.)

I have highlighted two of the tips that I found to be most helpful –

1.Commit to a savings schedule.

  • Save 10 dollars every paycheck.
  • Keep every $5 bill you come across and stash it in your piggy bank. Every month, you can record how much you saved and then try to match that or do better next month (but do not buy stuff just to get a $5 bill as change, cheaters!)
  • Save an extra dollar every week. This one requires a lot more self-discipline. Essentially what you are doing is setting a certain time period—say, 5 months. For every week, you will add an additional dollar to your piggy bank. So the first week, you will donate 1 dollar, the 2nd, 2 dollars, 30th 30 dollars, and so on until you reach your 5 months, and then you start over. If you REALLY want to save money, keep this up for an entire year!

2. Institute a “no buy week” once a month.

This is obviously going to be easier for some than others, BUT try choosing 7 days out of the month when you keep that debit card and extra cash hidden away in your top drawer. No groceries, no eating out, no coffee shops, no alcohol or partying, even as far as no uber rides. You’ll be surprised with how often you’re throwing $3 here and $9 there on meaningless items that you don’t actually need to be spending $ on.

3. Make a budget!

I find this tip to be most important. Jennifer Edwards, a professor at Point Park whom teaches an entrepreneurship for the arts course, provided our class with a Skype meeting with professional dancer, Amy Smith. Smith is a founder and co-director of Headlong Dance Theater, a Philadelphia-based contemporary dance company. She provided us with a budget sheet that allows one to calculate how much their time is worth.


Determine the cost of your life for a year. What do you need to earn to live without financial panic?

Monthly rent _________ x 12 ________

Internet __________ x 12 _________

Cell phone _________ x 12 ________

Liquor, going out, etc. ________ x 12 __________

Artistic research ________ x 12 __________

Student loan debt _______ x 12 ________

Utilities __________ x 12 _________

Car/transport __________ x 12 _________

Groceries __________ x 12 ___________

Classes/workshops _______ x 12 _________

Clothes, books, etc. ________ x 12 __________

Savings __________ x 12 ____________

Vacation _________ per year

Use this number to calculate week, day and hourly rates. Divide your annual number by 1500: this is your hourly rate. Multiply that by 8 to get your day rate. Multiply that day rate by five to get your week rate. Use these numbers to negotiate for pay and budget your projects. Your time has value!


MY WEEKLY RATE IS $__________ per week.

MY DAILY RATE IS $_____________per day.

MY HOURLY RATE IS $ __________ per hour.

Fill this out for yourself and calculate how much YOUR time is worth. NEVER let someone devalue you as an individual, OR devalue the art form in which you are studying/working by paying you less than you deserve.

As dancers we tend to believe that “working for free” is a good way to network ourselves into the professional community, and while sometimes this is the case, most of the time it is not! By working for free, you devalue the art form and yourself as an individual in the art form’s community. A musician would never allow someone to record his music without some sort of payment, a lighting designer would never light a show without receiving the money he/she deserves, and a plumber will NEVER fix your toilet for free. (I mean- am I right, or what?!) What makes dance any different? Be strong and stand up for the greater good of our art form! YOU deserve payment for your work! DANCE DESERVES PAYMENT! 

The last two money saving tips come from an article written in US News. ( This blog gives personal finance advice accumulated from voices behind numerous money blogs.

4. Be a social deal seeker.

We all want to be able to get away from “work” or be able to step outside of our small 2 bedroom apartments, but what is the best way to make those fun, extra activities affordable? “Happy hours, lunches out and expensive exercise classes are all fun and tempting when you start receiving your first paychecks, but these daily or weekly luxuries will eat away at your budget fast…One of the best things about being fresh out of college is that most of your friends are likely in the same financial boat as you– cash-strapped and paying down debt, but free from the time and financial responsibilities of family. Keep your college crowd together and grow your new city circle of friends by planning fun, low-cost activities such as picnics, pickup games and free outdoor festivals. Also look out for activities on daily deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt.”

5. Set a long-term goal.

“Budgeting does not always mean just saving; you can also budget in fun. Whether it’s a new couch, tropical vacation or dream home to own, setting a long-term goal will motivate you to stick to your budget and reward your financial responsibility.”


Woah – while that’s full of details and pretty damn dry, it is SUPER necessary to read and study before your parents finally decide to do the ole’ “cut-off”

My next post will be FUN and uplifting, I swear by it! 





NYC – The most expensive city in THE WORLD to live in.

Let’s really start to dig in with possibly the most nerve-wracking topic there is in terms of making that big life transition. (Especially for those, like myself, who didn’t attend school in “The City” and/or have the gracious, financially-set parents who can make-do with keeping those training wheels locked in, just a tiiiiny bit longer after graduation.)


If you read my first post, your little eyeballs may have stopped dead in their tracks as soon as you read “NYC (the most expensive city in THE WORLD to live)” – yeah, I know, absolutely petrifying! And, is it even true? Well according to CURBED: New York, yes.. it is. (See Bottom Quote)

But you know what, y’all. THAT’S OK! And here are 4 simple reasons how/why.

  1. Location – Seems pretty self-explanatory. Right? Even though we’d all love that LES loft off of Ludlow and Broome overlooking the hippest bar scene in the city, that’s just not plausible. (Unless of course, you were blessed with the parents who believe in “training wheels after graduation” – if thats the case, by all means, beg Daddy for that LES loft. I’ll be in Washington Heights envying you.) Anyways – Location is EVERYTHING in terms of cost. The most reasonable places are going to be either very North or very South of Manhattan. (Washington Heights or Brooklyn.) For a hot second, I was SET on Brooklyn – (Park Slope, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg or Bushwick.) But recently a New York-living, professional dancer, Ian Spring, enlightened me on some of the perks of Washington Heights. “You can get a lot more space for a lot less money in the heights. River access is one of my favorite parts about the neighborhood. There are also a good number of parks. Commuting is generally easier and less crowded I have found. Also, the Latino men are super sexy… Maybe don’t include that part though.” Oh, but of course I had to include that key factor. 😉
  2. Cram Those Roomies – The more the better. (In terms of COST, of course.) Myself and three other girls are currently working on finding a decently sized two-bedroom that the four of us can squeeze into. That automatically makes each room 1/2 the price! #WINNING ! Although, with trying to rent a place this may get tricky – finding a landlord that accepts this genius, money-saving idea may not be the simplest task in the world. OH, and here we meet that “cool part” for the first time – the thing that involves me giving ideas/advice before actually testing the waters. I’ll keep y’all posted with how this works out in the future weeks of apartment searching.
  3. Find a Day Job BEFORE you make the big move– Easier said than done, eh? Well, believe it or not, finding a day-job in NYC is extremely possible and can be done relatively quick. The first three things I thought about were interests, skills, and connections. What do I enjoy? What am I good at? And who do I know? Well, my interests are pretty damn obvious, at this point, no? – Art, exercise/health, consumption of beverages (specifically wine & coffee hehe) writing, and number freaking 1 on the list – FOOD!  My skills? Well- dancing, socializing, and some minor experience in working at a cafe as a barista/smoothie maker. (Sidenote- If anyone reading this is in the Pittsburgh area, go check out Amazing Cafe in the South Side. You won’t regret it!) Lastly, connections? I have a plethora of connections in terms of artists, but who do I know that can recommend me to a consistently-paying day job that will assist in accommodating my rent, a couple of meals each week, and my artistic research/practice. DING DING DING! Answering that last question is actually pretty simple – Courtney Christine (@courtjc) ! I’ll touch on this crazy, beautiful specimen in future posts. As for now – Answer these questions for yourself. I bet your realizations will come faster and easier than you’re anticipating. Good Luck!
  4. STAY POSITIVE– Last but sure-as-hell not least.. posi-freakin-tivity. I truly believe this is a key factor in terms of making this life transition. Without a constant positive mind, this next step in that huge ass city, has serious potential to eat us alive. There WILL be tears, there WILL be struggles, but it will ultimately ALL be worth it. When we are down, let ourselves be down and feel those not-so-fun emotions, but we CANNOT allow ourselves to bask in those places. Staying there for too long gives us the ability to reach destinations we do not need to waste our time at. Make sure you keep yourself surrounded by happy, healthy, and generally uplifting humans. THEY are the keys to staying on the right track. You are who you hangout with.

With all that being said – Long story LONG – Cheers! 

Here’s that quote from CURBED: New York City. Yikes, but remember we got this shit!

“…a new report by major international bank UBS says that New York City is now the most expensive city in the world to live in. Oh, wonderful. It isn’t just the city’s soaring property prices that have steered it towards its new qualifier; it’s also the city’s cost of goods and services and low after-tax wages that contribute to New York’s soul-shattering expense, the Wall Street Journal reports (h/t TRD). While global cities Zurich and Geneva outpace New York in their cost of goods and services, the city’s burdensome rents tipped the scale in New York’s favor for the title of World’s Most Expensive City.”