Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Catching "Ya'll" Up-to-Date

So while I've been busy getting all deep on you guys with my blog posts these last few weeks I've neglected to resurface and just keep you all posted on daily happenings and trip-planning updates.  So... here goes...

Internship placement in India: I'm pretty sure I couldn't be more pumped about this job. It was not at all what I expected but it seems like it could be a really great fit for me!  I'll be working at a non-profit human rights organization that primarily focuses on issues surrounding child labor. I'll be conducting a program evaluation on a bridge program that they have where they take children out of labor environments and place them in schools where they receive formal education and counseling services. My job is ultimately to do consulting work... I'll be conducting needs assessments for the teachers/counselors while analyzing and evaluating the program, structure of the organization, and community resources. Finally I'll be able to make recommendations for ways to improve the working conditions for the teachers/counselors and thus better deliver services to these children.  Child labor is not an issue I know much about so I'm anticipating an eye opening, emotional, and thought-provoking experience with this job.  I feel very well qualified to do this with my experience and degrees. Plus, I pretty much taught undergrads how to do this for the last 2 years so this job placement is really opening the door for me to apply my academic skill sets.  Pretty sweeeeeeet... :D

Week in Nashville: I just spent these past 5 days in Nashville and had such an AMAZING time!!  I really truly love my life there so much!  It's so well-balanced: I've got hilarious, fabulous, and dedicated friends, I've got mentors who feel like family to me, I've got my favorite yoga studios, running routes, dance classes and restaurants, I've got my professional and academic connections at Vanderbilt and in the community, I've got the beautiful weather, I had an amazing apartment and living situation there... I mean... I could definitely see myself moving back there at some point.  Ahhhh :)  Anyway, a few highlights from the visit:

- Stopping by VIBE practice.  My little baby (VIBE) is all grown up :)  It was so much fun to be able to walk into the practice and see that all the visions I had for the organization have upheld (i.e. maintaining it's appreciation for cultural diversity, being highly selective of its members based on character and talent, etc.). That was just so incredibly rewarding :D

- Spending Saturday with a stomach ache from laughing so hard the entire day... Monday night dinner with other friends and highly inappropriate conversation topped it off.

- Visiting NDC and getting such a warm welcome from friends and instructors. So nice to be back :)

- Yoga with 2 of my favorite instructors in the world. What a gift...

- Dinner with my adoptive Nashville families. Even bigger gifts...

Aaaaannnndddd that's about all.  Overall it was just such a phenomenal 5 days, far too much fun, and I look forward to getting back there at some point next year.  Big thanks to friends reading this post who shared this vacation with me!!

All my love,

P.S. As you'll see by the title of this post, after 7 years I've finally caved and decided to invite "ya'll" into my official vocabulary. I held out long enough but the word is just too useful to keep avoiding... it's the end of an era :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I Wanted to Say

This is where my mind is at today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LSe0NeFeRU

With love,

P.S. I just realized I never posted an update on how the ballroom competition went last weekend... in short, it was AMAZING!. I placed very well and was so so pleased with my performance :D Most of all I just had so much fun!! Definitely an experience I'll never forget...


Video link to our Cha Cha routine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyh4KQtZCfY

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Full of Gratitude


There's no better gift I believe a person can give another than the gift of validation. Over the past 2 days you all have confirmed that for me.

It took me a month and a half of getting up the courage to email out the link to this blog. I revised the entries a million times, I deleted some posts, and spent more time than I would have liked by obsessing over how I might be perceived after sharing certain ideas with all who were likely to read them.  These writings are me: raw, honest, deep, and hopefully sometimes kind of funny me. In short, it took a lot for me to share this link with you all.

The messages I've received since publicizing this blog have truly touched my heart so very deeply. It's been such fun to hear from many of you I haven't heard from in a while, it's been enjoyable to share a deeper part of myself with those of you who know me on more of a surface level, and it's been tremendously touching to hear feedback on the ways in which you've connected with my thoughts and feelings.

I guess this goes to show that the best way to connect with others is by connecting with yourself.

Much love to you all,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

You Are Infinite

This is dedicated to somebody who received an invitation to this blog and I hope is reading this entry - by the end of it I hope You know who you are.

Ya know that quote "You may be one person to the world but the world to one person"? Okay so, whomp whomp, kinda cheesy, BUT, in all seriousness, haven't you ever wondered about what you mean to someone? Or, did you ever think that you had a pretty good sense of where someone in particular placed you in their life only to find out later that you had much more or less of an impact on them than you thought?

You truly mean more to me than I think you might suppose you do. Sometimes I think people are drawn to others because of the idea of them but not necessarily because of who they really are. Well, I can honestly say I value You because of who you are. That doesn't mean I've always liked You or that I respect all the choices you make. It also doesn't mean I've always been thrilled with the status of our relationship in the past, the present, or what I anticipate it may look like in the future.

I've been thinking a lot about You lately. Not particularly spurred by any experience per se, maybe I'll just attribute it to cosmic energy or some kind of karma or something. I've recently had random thoughts about You throughout the day, You've appeared in some of my dreams at night, and the funny thing is that in the recent past I haven't seen You relatively much.

I believe that people come in and out of each others' lives for a reason. It's not always to bring one another joy or even any pleasant sentiments at all but sometimes to offer an opportunity.
You have brought me gratitude, humility, confidence, pride, and a sense of connection. You've helped me to find comfort in my own skin, You've helped me challenge my beliefs about myself, You've given me new perspective, and the most beautiful part is that You've done it all so unintentionally and effortlessly - You've done it purely by being You.

Knowing You with the extent, to the depth, and to the limits that I do, I'm gonna guess that as you've been reading this entry You hoped for a quick second that this is actually about You - it is.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I Just Can't Get Enough, No, I Just Can't Get Enough

The past few days my immune system's been a bit run down, I've had some tough work outs, and I've generally just been feeling exhausted. Simultaneously, I've noticed myself returning to a destructive thought pattern that has a tendency to cyclically reappear every so often - the I Need More pattern.

In the past I've seen this evil pattern emerge often times in response to thoughts about relationships with friends and boyfriends: More time together, More fun to be had, More adventure needed, More laughing together, More phone calls. I've felt it frequently with dance: I Need More technique, More hours in the studio, More one-on-one instruction, More music. And the past few days I've heard I Need More thoughts regarding beliefs about myself. I Need to lose More weight, I Need More tan skin, I Need More workouts during the day, I Need to burn More calories during my workouts, I Need More toned legs, I Need More toned abs, I Need More clear skin. And boy does the list go on. Eew. I'm exhausted just reading this brutally honest and depressing list.

Why is it that so many automatic thoughts are so self-critical? Why is it such a challenge to possess self-respect and gratitude? When is it enough?

As long as I'm looking for More I know I'll never find it seeing as though there's always More to be had. I've been thinking so long and hard this past year in particular about the notion of resistance. Frustration is purely the result of resisting that which is. The more I want something to change the more resistant (and inherently less accepting) I am of it as it is. Unfortunately in this case I'm learning something pretty deep and personal about myself: there is something (s) for which I'm having a tough time accepting right now.

I appreciate your company on this journey while I seek and sit in the muddiness of figuring it out :)

All my love,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dance Me

"Show me slowly what I only know the limits of, and dance me to the end of love..."
~Dance Me To the End of Love by The Civil Wars

I realized on my way home from dance tonight that I was feeling such a way I've never felt before about anything else, anybody, any place, any thing... really truly passionate. On my way to the studio I'm energized and fluttery, during dance I'm entirely unaware of my cognition, and on my way home I kick into depression mode and the countdown to the next lesson begins. I am pretty smart when it comes to using my head - I can think critically, I can conceptualize abstract notions, and oh. man. can. I. analyze. ;) But dance is the one and only activity in which I have ever engaged that I have been able to move from my head and into my body. My mind gets a respite while I embody this other element of my being. It almost even feels like this spiritual force in my life.

There's an old home video (actually it was taped almost exactly 21 years ago to date) when I was 3 years old at my sister's 5th birthday party. My dad took the video camera around and asked each of us there what we wanted to be when we grew up. In a very matter-of-fact tone of voice, my babyish and confident self quickly responded that I wanted to be a "mommy or a ballerina." Well, I'm confident one day I'll be a mommy, and I'm fascinated that I knew I wanted to dance since that early in my life . I can recall during elementary school years turning on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack and dancing in my living room in front of the windows longing for some famous talent agent to pass by my suburban, residential street in Skokie, IL and see this cute little 6 year-old-girl dancing who he knew he had to hire and make into a famous professional dancer :) Ha, well, not much has changed...

I've spent this past month dancing with a really talented ballroom dancer who's been training me to get ready for my first ballroom dance competition, which is actually just one week from tomorrow (aaaahhhh!!!!). This is suuuuch a dream come true! I've been getting invaluable one-on-one training and feel like I'm in the best position in the world as a student. During my time at the studio and through conversations in passing I've learned a bit about dance instructors' jobs: They get the opportunity to teach (which I love!), compete professionally (which I imagine I might love even more), and travel while doing so (need I say more?).

So as I think about what kind of work I might want to do when I get back from my trip, working as a dance instructor looks like a pretty perfect option... however, there's a catch... I feel like there's this expectation set upon me by many people I love and value so much that I need to formally use my Masters degree in Human Development Counseling when I get back from my trip. One person in particular whose approval means a tremendous amount to me I know will be disappointed in me if I don't go that route. My intention in naming this is not to call anyone out nor do I mean any disrespect - it's not others' perspectives that pose a challenge to me, it's all about my ability to accept or reject those expectations. What a challenge!

I really do see a route for creating an opportunity to professionally fuse my interests in dance, counseling, education, and business. My college and graduate degrees provide me with such a strong foundation in the latter three areas, and perhaps teaching and pursuing dance at a professional level will give me better insight as to how I can combine this passion with other career interests. As I see it, my degree isn't going anywhere, I truly employ what I've learned from it every single day, and it's not only valuable if used in a formal community counseling setting.

One thing is certain - nobody who has made significant repairs in his or her world did so by doing things that had already been done. My ambitious life's mission is to leave this world a better place than when I entered it, hopefully while touching the lives of many. So, will I dance when I get back? Maybe. Will I go back to Nashville and pursue my license as a professional counselor? Maybe. Will I do something I've not yet imagined in a place I've never lived? It's possible. It'll be interesting to see how I feel in 9 months... And, as you ride these waves with me during my time overseas be forewarned that I'm likely to bounce between ideas as I explore my desires, my overall self, and my world. As such, I think I'm gonna go ahead and encourage you to gear less energy toward hearing what I say and more energy toward watching what I do ;)

All my love to each of you reading this...


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On the Fringes

So it's been a few weeks since my last post - wow - scratch that - apparently it's been a month, woah!! Time flies... I'm in quite a different place now than I was then... here's the brief catch-up then on to current stuff...

I've been spending most of my days doing yoga, bike riding, running, having lunch/brunch/dinner with friends, and spending lots of really fabulous time with my family. I've got my first ballroom dance competition September 17-18 so while I've only been spending a couple hours a week dancing it has hands down been my favorite part of my time here in Chicago :)

While all of this time at home has been so relaxing it's also given me lots more mental space to daydream about these next 9 months. I've been getting a little nervous lately about this trip, which I guess is why I'm really wanting to blog tonight - I'm really needing this space. Ha, have you ever had a journal that you only wrote in when things were going poorly? Well, that might be what this is for a little while, haha, thanks for baring with me... I'll do my best to keep you guys posted of the good stuff, too!
So the nerves... I'm really excited about this journey and all the new-ness it brings AND at the same time I'm starting to get a bit anxious. It's not as much the experience of being there as it is the experience of NOT being here. I'm not sure how easy it'll be for me to access home while I'm gone (more so in India than Israel) and my mind lately has been actively doing that thing where it goes to that worst-case-scenario place regardless of how unlikely anything is to happen while I'm gone.

Anywho... new thought...

I've been thinking a lot tonight about this concept of being on the fringes of a community. Two recent scenarios can sum this up well...
One of my very oldest and dearest friends lost her grandma several days ago and I visited her home tonight to sit Shiva (Jewish tradition of 7 days of mourning after a death) with her and her family who I would consider to be a strong-standing pillar in this community. Within this community, the majority of people attend the same synagogue, go to the same summer camp, and attend the same handful of colleges. I've know most of these people and they've known me since I was in elementary school and we see one another every year or two, some a bit more frequently than that. I consider myself to be on the fringe of this community - I know everyone well enough that we can hug hello, catch up, genuinely ask about each others families and really care to hear, and so on. At the same time, I'm not involved enough with the community that I get involved with much of the politics, the gossip, the dysfunction, or just any of the overall mishigas (Yiddish for crap).
On to situation 2... (Ha ,that made me think of "The Situation" EW - can you believe he's on DWTS!?? Boooooooo on that call!!!!) A friend of mine got engaged a couple months back and is in the process of planning out her wedding. She and I were in the same small circle of friends for a couple years. It's no secret that she and I love each other very much and have a nice mutual respect yet were probably only really friends at all because of association. For whatever reason we never really had that click with each other like either of us did with the other three girls. Well she's planning her wedding now and I recently learned that the other 3 were asked to be bridesmaids in her wedding and I'm not sure that I'm going to be invited. Likewise, I consider myself on the fringe of this community of girlfriends in that I'm not as close with the one getting married as she is with the other 3 and at the same time these 4 girls are near and dear to my heart and mean so very much to me.

So, with these two situations in mind this concept of being on the fringe of community has really highlighted the pros and cons for me of being in that place. It was so so nice to be able to see all these people this evening, very pleasantly engage on a surface level, and be done. At the same time, it's just surface level. Also, while I know logically that it certainly would make zero sense for me to be a bridesmaid in this friend's wedding, I still feel left out of this community of girl friends with whom I used to be so close. My head knows it make sense and my heart still hurts a little.

I have no conclusions to these thoughts, nor am I looking for a way out from the heartache - it's part of what makes me whole. I'm just thinking about life, how it works, and where I fit into it all.

As always, thanks for reading.

All my love,

P.S. I almost forgot!! Recent new stuff I've done...

- Biked 15 miles
- Went to Space - probably the coolest venue in the North Shore for live music
- Saw Madi Diaz and The Civil Wars... amazing talent!!
- Had such a fabulous lunch with one of my high school teachers who I haven't seen in 6 years
- Took a Zumba class
- Conquered the Crow pose in yoga with a block
- Participated in a photo shoot as a hair model just for fun (some of my fave pix are below)