Wednesday, March 8, 2017

27 Things I've Learned in 27 Years

I celebrated my 27th birthday a few weeks ago. And this past year has been the year of the most growth and change I've ever experienced. But there is plenty I have learned as I've gone along. Some of it may not be super "earth shattering" or anything...and some of it is just silly stuff...but much has had an impact on me, and God has used much to mold me over the years. I didn't think I was going to be able to come up with 27 things, but it really wasn't that hard! And I had fun doing it!





1.      I still HATE lettuce! I always thought maybe my taste buds would change as I became an adult and I would be able to enjoy salads, or like having lettuce on my sandwiches. Not the case! I still absolutely loathe lettuce, and won’t take it on anything!

 2.      I think I always knew I was an extrovert. I was just afraid of what everyone thought, so I kept all of myself TO myself. Everyone just expected me to be shy and introverted, so I stayed that way. Until I realized that I was being ridiculous to hide so much of myself. My transformation from being the most insecure, quiet girl who kept everyone at arms-length, to the girl who thrives off of being with people with a much stronger sense of self-worth, was such a 180 that it’s still a surprise to people who knew me several years ago.

3.      Personality tests are the best life tools ever to exist! Knowing my own type truly helps me to step back and be very aware of the people around me and how different and unique everyone is. Everyone does things, handles things, processes, and thinks about things in a different way. It’s helped me to extend a lot of grace towards those who may be different from me. Especially in the workplace, or even within my own extended family.  

4.      I should have been a lefty.
Soooo…this is totally a dancer thing! I was always dominant on my left side doing most things. Especially turns. Other dancers would tease me again and again when I got more excited about turning on my left side than on my right side, because most people are right dominant. Plus I’m more comfortable carrying things in my left arm or on my left side. And yet I write, and eat, with my right hand.

 Okay…super random, I know. Moving on…

5.      I can handle Indiana winters. That doesn’t mean I have to like them. But I can handle them. I have mastered the art of driving in the snow, and I’m actually pretty good at it. I just choose to stop caring about the drivers around me. If they think I’m driving too slowly, they can go around me. In fact, I’d prefer that anyway. The driving process feels less scary to me now. And if I’m snowed it, rather than let it stress me out, I’m perfectly content to stay home, bundled up in sweaters, comfy socks, with a warm cup of coffee and a great book or movie.

 6.      Sushi rolls are a little taste of Heaven! In a teeny, tiny, bite-sized roll! I used to make a “yucky” face whenever my dad would tell me how much he loved sushi. Now…it’s one of my favorite things in the whole world! {Although, I’m pretty sure he would still tell me what I’m eating isn’t “real” sushi. Whatever though! It’s a step up from never touching anything even remotely similar!}

7.      Relationships, closeness, and connections with cousins, aunts, and uncles are so important!

8.      You are truly never too old for Disney!

9.      So many of the challenges and struggles I had growing up, stem from my adoption, even though I was adopted as an infant. I’ll be sharing a post on this as well.

10.   Grammar is seriously your friend. Even if you wouldn't consider yourself one the smartest people in the world, if you know your grammar, it’ll at least make you sound highly educated.

11.   People apologize WAY too much! We live in such a shame-filled world. And that makes me sadder and sadder all the time.

12.   Reading really is good for you! I definitely gain so much more through reading an amazing book than through watching an amazing movie. {Even though I love both!}

13.   College is NOT the greatest time in your life. High school is DEFINITELY not the greatest time in your life. High school can be the absolute worst (like a lot of it was for me…although, middle school was a lot worse still), and even in college, you’re still too young to really be the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. College shaped me, for sure, and I don't regret my college experience. But I didn’t come into the person I am until after college.

14.   I was just not made for this time period! I went through my phase of feeling like I had to fit in, so I decided that I liked all the same music, or doing all the same things as the other kids in my class…but really, I’ve never “liked” a whole lot from this generation…I prefer to watch old movies and listen to old music. I’m not “joined at the hip” to my phone. I learned how to talk to adults and to articulate well very early on. I'd prefer to go to the symphony or the opera before I would go to a rock or pop concert. I prefer lace, vintage, and anything old fashioned. 

15.   Had it not been for show choir, I never would have made it through high school. I just wouldn’t have cared…at all.

16.   Having said that…Music, dancing, and the arts is NEVER a waste of time! Even if you never excel as a professional in your art form, you gain invaluable experiences from it all! But your passions are NOT a waste. Not ever.

17.   Strive for excellence, but not perfection. There are many versions of excellence…but no such thing as perfect.

18.   After a rough day, a hot shower is all I really need when I get home. It literally feels like you’re washing the day away.

19.   This quote is so true: “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.” THAT has pretty much become my main life philosophy, and no matter how frustrating people can be, you just never know what they are going through.

20.   Stay away from toxic people. Someone who demeans, manipulates, and beats you down mentally and emotionally, is not someone you should keep in your life. In ANY situation.

21.   You can still have time of your life, WITHOUT alcohol. I learned this through attending a Christian college, where drinking was not allowed at anytime, anywhere. I had some of the absolute best times with friends, even post-college…and no drinking necessary. I do have a drink once in a while, but I don’t feel like I need it to have a good time.

22.   The fruits of the spirit…are just that…fruits of the SPIRIT. Not fruits of the FLESH. I cannot produce them in my life on my own doings. I’ll be writing a series on The Fruits of the Spirit very soon! And I'm so excited about it!

23.   Doctrine isn’t important. Neither are denominations. All were invented by MAN. Of course, to each their own. I’m not “bashing” denominations. But, my concern is, what does the Bible teach? What does the Lord want? How is the life I am living reflecting Him? So if my focus is on that, what does it matter what denomination I belong to?

24.   Attitude is everything! Even the most mundane tasks can be joyful if you just CHOOSE a joyful attitude. I'm really not a huge fan of cliché phrases like, "Have an attitude of gratitude." But it's true! Our perspectives on whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, even negative ones, are our CHOICE. 
{Note: This is NOT meant to diminish or downplay something very tragic or heartbreaking you may be facing! I'm mainly talking here about general frustrations, less than ideal work situations, or just overall yucky days, etc., that everyone faces.}

25.   You are NOT the only one going through what you’re going through. And once I found the people who’d had similar experiences, my life was drastically changed, for the better!

26.   People aren’t mind readers. You will never get anything if you don’t ask for it. I am now helping my students understand this concept. Don’t be so afraid to speak up.

27.   Legitimate thoughts are NEVER made off of emotions. Never make a big decision when you’re upset, angry, or maybe even a little too happy. You’ll end up changing your mind every day, probably multiple times a day, because our emotional state changes so much.  Chances are, you won’t be making a quality decision, and you’ll regret the decision later.

  
What have YOU learned throughout the course of your life?
Maybe you've gained some wisdom that I haven't yet...but should ;)
I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Hello, March {Better late than Never!} || Monthly Goal Link-Up

It’s already March 6th…but that’s okay.

It’s never too late to reflect on life, see how you’ve grown, and set goals for how you’d like to grow even further in the upcoming days.


Like to post about your goals? Link up with any goal post in staygoldautumn.com's linkup on the first day of the month!


February was a good month overall, and I’m looking forward to what the rest of March brings…


IN FEBRUARY…

 

 
I spent an unforgettable long weekend in beautiful, sunny Florida for my lovely cousin’s wedding. It was the best wedding ever {and really made me look forward to my own even more!} and it was so great to spend that time with all of my cousins, aunts, and uncles all together in one place! I can’t wait for that to happen again in just five more short months!



I’m a February birthday! And although birthdays are not that big a deal to me anymore, I was very happy to spend some great time with the greatest bridal party I could ever hope to have! These ladies are my FAVORITES!

And of course, my fiancé {and his family} is SUPER into birthdays, so I could never get away with not celebrating with him. I think he's getting me to learn how to actually like my birthday :)) 

 
I took a group of my dance students to a local competition for their first time ever {mine too as a teacher} and they won! I'm so proud of them!

 

The February temperatures here in northern Indiana were absolutely out of this world, too! Between my time in Florida and the glorious 60 degrees and sunshiny days we had around here, I got my share of vitamin D, and finally got past my winter “slump” {Seasonal Affective Disorder is the real deal, y’all}. January felt like the longest month EVER! February was so much better in that sense. 

I also decided to try my hand at intermittent fasting. Which has been going, just…eh…okay, I suppose. Cutting out sugar completely, equals RIDICULOUS fibromyalgia flare-up apparently! Which was NOT OKAY! Still, even though I haven’t done completely well with this so far, I’m willing to keep trying, and willing to surrender it to the Lord again and again.

You can find out more about how I got started with intermittent fasting by clicking HERE.

 

OH! AND! I discovered that THIS SONG…right here…this is my theme song for the whole year! Particularly since my Word of the Year for 2017 is BRAVE!

 

 

 

Okay...good reflection…good times ;)

Onward…to March! It’s kind of a big month even so far! It’s only been 6 days in, and I’ve already had a big choir concert for the Lent season {glorious music…I will miss it}. I picked out my wedding dress, and we found the best florist ever for our wedding! And still ahead, I have two important voice competition first round auditions that I’ve been working my tail off to prepare for! And plenty of wedding prep to do!

 
Goals for March:

 
Read another book {there will be a review coming up on the one I read last month}.
Officially meet with my photographer and get everything all set with her.
Contact and book my musicians for the wedding.
Decide on wedding hairstyles for me and my bridal party.
Start planning the wedding shower with my Maid & Matron of Honor.
NAIL my two auditions at the end of the month! No fear!

 
Whew! We are looking at a busy time, people! But I’m so ready for it!

 
#Brave2017 #OneWord365

 
What are some of your goals this month!
Tell me in the comments, and let’s live life with intention together!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Being Hungry



Food is a gift. It’s a necessity.

I don’t treat it that way, though.

I use food to deal with stress…to deal with “boredom”…to deal with anything upsetting.

I use it to feel something…and to stuff DOWN what I’m feeling.


Prior to that, it was a way to stay in control…a way for me to prove myself…to gain affirmation.

During that time, I was AVOIDING food for the same reasons.


Recently, I was hit with an overwhelming realization that I had never stopped to consider before.  

For much of my life, I have never used food as NOURISHMENT.

No matter which extreme I’ve been in. Eating nothing at all, or eating everything I could get my hands on {currently, it’s the latter}. Food has always been associated with negativity for me. I’ve never even considered it for its intended purpose…to keep me alive. It truly is a gift from God, and I’ve allowed it to turn into a bad thing. A stronghold. A sin. 

My struggle with food has dominated my desire for God for years.

I’ve shared about this before…during a period of time when I was doing so much better. I truly had found freedom, but the enemy found where my vulnerabilities were greatest, and used food to tempt me. And that became very, very hard to fight off, and I found myself right back where I was. In the bondage of food addiction.

 But I now truly understand that when that happens, it doesn’t make me a failure. It doesn’t mean I’m incapable of overcoming the problem. It just means I’m human and need help.

And some of you may think it should be an easy thing to fix. I always thought so too. And I’ve always been so hard on myself for never being able to, in one case, JUST EAT…or in this case, JUST SAY NO.

WELL…

Try telling an alcoholic to “just stop drinking.”
Try telling a heroin addict to “just stop doing drugs.”

It just doesn’t work that way. And anything can turn into a problem. Even if it is supposed to be a good, healthy thing.

 I’ve said over and over that this needs to stop. I just want to be healthy. But every time I try to get there on my own, I give up. And THAT is what needs to stop.

 So…having shared all of that with you, confessing that this is just another new beginning {thank God that He is willing to give us chance after chance after chance!}, and in the spirit of my Word of the Year, BRAVE…the real purpose of this post is to tell you that I am entering into a new phase of life that I hope will truly result in a total turn-around, and help me permanently kick this addiction to the curb.

 It’s called intermittent fasting.

I'm gonna try not to be too technical going into this. I don't want to exhaust the explanation in this particular post. My goal is not to convince you {or myself} of anything...

Essentially, all it entails is making reasonable food choices 5 days a week, with two days {non-consecutive} of fasting. This definition of fasting, though, is to go for 12 hours at a time with no food, but eat a total of 500 calories during the day. And there are several ways to go about that. I’ve done a lot of good research on intermittent fasting, and for someone with blood sugar issues, this seems like a great way to go. I personally can’t PHYSICALLY go for long periods of time eating nothing {resulted from years of disordered eating, plus blood sugar issues I’ve had for a long time even before then}, so I liked the way this “lifestyle” was explained. {Added bonus: It’s all backed up with biblical truths on top of all the health benefits, so I was even more certain that this was the direction I wanted to go.} 

Now, I must admit that knowing I have a wedding coming up in less than 6 months is quite the motivational factor. And yes, I want to lose weight and feel comfortable in my own skin when I put on my gown. Even in general, I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. BUT…the most important thing is to develop a HUNGER FOR GOD, above anything else, including food.

He has created us to need food, but it was never meant to replace our need for Him.

I heard that about strongholds before, but it never truly struck me to the core…until now.

So many people struggle with eating, body, and self-image distortion. And food is only part of that. We eat to escape our pain, and it eventually seems to feel like a hopeless, unredeemable situation. Food addiction brings shame, just like any other addiction completely consumes and takes over. It’s just not talked about as much because it doesn’t seem as “dangerous”.



“The strongest, most mature Christians I have ever met are the hungriest for God. It might seem that those who eat most would be least hungry. But that’s not the way it works with an inexhaustible fountain, and an infinite feast, and a glorious Lord.”

~John Piper


THAT is what I desire. I know people like that. I dream of that. I am fully aware of how hard this is going to be, but I want to develop an overwhelming appetite for God, and I have fully experienced His fullness…but I want to LONG for more, and just keep craving! Only then, can I overcome anything else. 

I’ll be sharing updates, as well as talking about the meal plan I’ll be using for my “reasonable food choices”…Trim Healthy Mama {check it out for yourself too, but I’ll you all about it later!}. And I would so appreciate your prayers, and walking with me through this new venture.


And please let me encourage you…

Whatever your struggle might be…

This space, this little corner of the web I have here…it’s for you. Let me walk with YOU too.

Monday, January 2, 2017

My #OneWord365 for 2017


Last year was the first time I participated in the #OneWord365 movement. And I'm so on board with it again. See, instead of making a list of goals, or “resolutions”, you choose one word to guide your year. And I just love that concept. 

The word goals has always been super intimidating to me. 
I've always had such a difficult time with high expectations, including ones that I set for myself. So I decided to stop creating resolutions, because I had no faith in my ability to follow through with them. The problem there was that I was going into each new year expecting to fail. And with that kind of attitude, I always did. And that's why I was so happy to discover this One Word movement!

The word I chose for 2016 was TRUST…and I grew a lot just from consistently keeping that one word in the forefront of my mind. I had my own perspective of what this word was going to mean,  of course. And God knew exactly what I needed to gain from it, and how this word was going to grow me. And I just love how we still can be constantly surprised by God. It's like I forget that He always has something unexpected and beautiful to reveal! But I kind of love that, because I love being able to say, "Wow, God! That was YOU!" And I was truly stretched, in the greatest ways, by this word TRUST that He gave me.

I've had sort of an odd game of ping pong going on in my head the last few days as I've tried to come up with a word for this year. Actually I think it was several games, while grappling with several different words. I wanted something that was going to allow me to grow and change in every aspect that I hoped to this upcoming year. I kept wondering, what one word would be THE One Word? The one that would shape my relationships...maybe change some habits...maybe help me improve upon some unhealthy routines in my life...and maybe even allow me to make a difference in someone else's life. Without setting measurable goals that I would inevitably break within a few days, what could be the single word that would still get me to where I want to be?

That word, trust, from this past year covered everything. But God gave it to me. He was the one who continued to present me with opportunities to learn about trust. And like I said, God always takes us by surprise. So rather than focus on the next chapter and trying to write it for myself, I choose to let God write it. God, You come up with the word...

And He did...


My word for 2017 is BRAVE.

God kept leading me back to it in very obvious ways, but I just kept wanting to pick a new one. Brave is not something I do very well, but I'm choosing it now because it "piggy backs" off of the word trust. Yes it took an act of bravery to choose trust as well, and knowing what is coming in the next year, it's a good thing that God always goes before me and knows even better than I do how I will need this word BRAVE more than anything else.

It will be an act of bravery as I enter into the biggest new phase of my entire life, and watch everything as I knew it before completely change. That's SCARY. It's a great thing...but a big change. And scary.

It will take bravery to withstand all of the negativity that will inevitably come my way from many sources as I plan a wedding and a new life.

It will take bravery to respond to God's {CLEAR!} callings to minister to and encourage people who are struggling in the same ways I have. I've had many chances and promptings to do so, and I have not obeyed.

It will take bravery to jump into a new ministry venture that the Holy Spirit laid on my heart a couple years ago, but now really seems to be paving the way to allow me to start. And my soul is ALL KINDS of revved up for it! {Don't worry...I'll come back to talk about this one day. It's absolutely something to be shared...just not right this minute.}

I'll need bravery to open my heart and say to the people who care about me most, "Here's what I'm dealing with, or struggling with right now and I need your support." Brave enough to be SEEN.

I have a lot of things I want to try this year too! New things. Things that I would not usually have done out of fear...fear of people's eyes on me, fear of failing AND of falling, fear of rejection, fear of simply not being enough. And my fears are not going to just disappear overnight and all of a sudden I will become this brave-hearted person. But through prayer and surrender, and believing that God will give me the strength to go into the next year, following Him as He leads, I know that 2017 holds great things! The best things!

Bible stories are seriously the greatest, because they chronicle brave people doing brave things in the name of the Lord. And I have a few favorites that just always inspire me. Maybe some of your favorites are the same...

A Jewish Esther bravely stood before her Persian king and spoke truth.

A young boy, David, boldly stood before a giant and defeated him with only a stone.

Daniel didn't fear the lions and trusted God to save him.

Mary accepted the plan God had for her to carry His son, in spite of the rejection she knew she would receive.

Moses was relentless with Pharaoh, led the slaves of Egypt into freedom, and proclaimed the Ten Commandments.

So many others I could list here...some of the bravest people in our history, and their BRAVE could only come from God and His leading. All the while being molded and fashioned more and more like Him. All of these people made CHOICES. They chose to follow. They chose to trust. They chose to keep pressing on, even when there was pain involved. They chose BRAVE.

And that is how we become more and more as the LORD wants us to be, and more like Him. Through taking steps and making choices. Bravery isn't a feeling, just like so many other things. It is jumping in, knowing that it might not be easy, and knowing that it might not turn out the way you expect...but also knowing that God is already ahead of you, and through His spirit, your step of brave faith will shape you into a more Christ-like person.

As I've written above, I already know the ways that I want to grow in bravery this year. But I also know that God has a few things in store that I could never even think of. And I'll be able to face anything through His strength alone. Because He makes me brave.

What about you??
What is your One Word for the year 2017, and the purpose behind it?

I'd love hear about it!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

CURRENTLY || 30 Reasons I am Thankful



Thanksgiving is such a great holiday, isn’t it?  I look forward to it every year. But this year, the only thing I could think about was getting a break. I was in desperate need of a break from 50 plus hour work weeks. I needed to be out of the studio for a few days. I needed a chance to get a couple of full nights of sleep. Most importantly though, I needed a chance to renew my mind a little bit. I’ve been in kind of a bad mentality lately…not feeling like myself anymore. So, going into this holiday week, I made the decision that I was going to CHOOSE JOY, and enjoy my family and friends.

I found that Ann Voskamp said it very well…


{source} 



Fresh starts are important. And it’s not like any day or every day isn’t a good time to begin again…but it is nice to have one particular day completely devoted to giving thanks. It’s a day to step back and breathe, and recognize that we are HERE. We get through the rough parts and we are HERE…that gratitude is a CHOICE.

I’ve seen the gratitude challenges going around social media, where people talk about something they are grateful for daily for 30 days. I didn’t take part in that because I am so bad at following daily prompts. I knew I wouldn’t keep up with it. But just because November is almost over, and I technically missed the challenge, that doesn’t mean I can’t still find 30 things to give thanks for. I do think that choosing to give thanks out loud and sharing your heart this way is enough to lift the mind out of whatever “darkness” it may be in. So that is what I am doing today.

What is on YOUR list this month?



In no particular order…


1.       A job that I love! In a place that I love! I’ve been wanting to work at a Christian school for a while, and I also wanted a job where I would only need to be in the classroom part time, and have an office position for the rest of the time. I didn’t think I would ever find a job like that, and I did! God amazingly provided! I love that I get to have my dream job of teaching music without being exhausted by it full time, but I also get to work in the school office, surrounded by incredible, positive, God-loving people, from whom I learn so much every day!

2.   The Nutcracker! It’s that time of year! The iconic music by Tchaikovsky is heard all over! As much as I miss actually being a part of it, I absolutely love getting to sit in the audience to watch the ballet every year. And this year, I’m doubly excited because I get to take a lot of my music students to see it!

3.    Coffee. No explanation needed.

4.   The toddlers who light up and come running to hug me around the knees when I walk into their classroom for music class!

5.   The infant room at school for when I need “baby therapy” ;))



6.   MUSIC! All the composers and their brilliance! And the opportunity to expose my students to the beauty that is Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and many others.

7.  The opportunity to have ever spent time with this sweet boy. We lost him way too quickly and unexpectedly, but I loved him so much. And I’m thankful that the Lord let us all have him for the time we did. Miss you so much, Herschel boy!



8.   A voice teacher who truly understands. I’ve had a lot of issues with my voice over the last couple of years. I don’t have a lot of stamina to sing opera anymore, and that’s not been easy.  But my teacher and I have had a blast picking out new musical theatre repertoire instead! Finding new music, and rediscovering old music that is a bit easier on my voice, and still makes me feel so good to sing has been an exciting process so far! Maybe even more than ever! I’m thankful that she has walked through this with me and made it all so much easier.

9.  The movie score station on Pandora Radio.

10.  The sweet family who has opened their home to me for the next several months...their generosity has been overwhelming! Knowing that I have a place to stay, and an opportunity to save money for my future is such a reassuring feeling.

11.   The greatest crew of bridesmaids in the whole world! I have five of the best, more beautiful ladies (inside and out), without whom I am have no idea what my life would look like. It certainly wouldn’t be as sweet, that’s for sure!

12.   Netflix. Yes I just went there :))

13.   My fiancé! For loving me when I don’t love me. For our mutual love for Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls, {yep! That’s right!} & Once Upon a Time. For playing our made up game of Name that Score {movie score music}. For not giving up on me when I become the most frustrating, air-headed human in the whole world.



14.   Sleeping longer on weekends. After 50 plus hour work weeks, the days I have with no alarm are totally the best days ever!

15.   Planning my dream wedding.

16.   Having grandparent figures in my life.

17.   Christmas music. Obviously. Cannot wait to start decorating for Christmas!

18.   Birds. All kinds. My little reminder of how much God cares for us.

19.  Wine. Yes. Wine. Makes things a bit more festive ;))

20.  Grace. The grace that covers all. I don't have to try and be perfect, prove myself, or live up to every expectation. I don't have to earn God's grace, just ask. And, that I have the opportunity to give that kind of grace to others too.

21.  Sunshine. It just makes me so happy from the moment it hits my face.

22.  Montessori education.

23.  Prayer. He meets me where I am.

24.  Health. Even though I don't always feel healthy. It could be a lot worse.

25.  Sweet and random acts of kindness.

26.  The stories in my head that MUST be told! I've been talking about writing a book for such a long time, and I still haven't done it {lack of time}. But I really look forward to the day that I get started! And I love that the Lord placed the stories in my heart. I know the process will unfold in the right way, in the right time, and with His help.

27.  My sweet junior bridesmaid who is most literally my 11-year-old best friend! And the opportunity to be a part of her dance training, and a part of her family.






28.  My dance students. From my smallest "baby ballerinas", to my early level kiddos, to those who are girls after my own heart and started dance late {older than 9} as beginners, to my upper level, hard working, beautiful students. I love being their teacher! I just wish I could give them MORE! Next semester will be better. But I'm so proud of them and impressed by their attitudes. They push ME to be 100%!




29.  My own precious dog, Libby, and the other adorable puppy dogs in my life. Having them to cuddle with makes my heart happy.

30.  Family. My extended family. And the family that I've been blessed enough to come into. And the chance to create my own new family in the future. 




Hope ALL of you had a beautiful holiday weekend, dear readers!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Let's Reevaluate the Cost, Shall We?

 


Ever since the hit show Dance Moms began growing in popularity, "littles" all over have been saying that they want to learn to dance like Maddie, or Kalani, or Chloe.

And as much as I want to kick Abby Lee Miller in the face sometimes {actually these days it's MOST of the time}, I do think that she produces incredible dancers, and I am glad that her show has made many a child desire to learn how to dance.

As a dance instructor and former dancer myself, I am, of course, pretty addicted to the show. The drama between the moms certainly does get a bit crazy, but the girls and their routines are so stellar, and I have just loved watching them progress over the past several years. Watching a dancer grow is one of the most beautiful things!

I have a group of upper level dancers, and most of the girls in the class have been with me for about 2 years, and they are all insanely hard workers. At the end of class, I often do a typical improvisational exercise with them. They are all used to this, and it's actually their favorite part {which makes me very happy}. Basically I pick a pretty song, put it on, and ask them to JUST DANCE...from the heart. And they do. But I do think back on one particular time I did this. At that time, they all had been dancing for about a year. And my mind was completely blown in a different way. They'd improved. They'd grown. Their passion and love for dance has increased exponentially since they first came to me. I saw beautiful technique and facial expressions, and their joy completely radiated from the inside out of every single one of them. I got all misty-eyed, and chills were on my arms. I was so happy, and reminded of WHY I DO THIS!

Not to mention, I got even more excited thinking about my classes of younger students, and what kind of dancers they would grow up to become!

Dance class is so worth it! For the teacher AND the students!

Now, I do realize that the cost of dance classes at some bigger studios can be astronomical! And for a lot of families, I know it's hard to even think about spending that much money. Especially when your child sees a dancer like Maddie from Dance Moms, and has her heart set on dancing just like her. THAT'S when the costs start to add up. Competition fees, costumes, stage make-up, and the dance classes themselves can really get expensive. Plus, as a student progresses, they will also grow, which means new leotards, shoes {especially pointe shoes! Oh my word, those are pricey!}, and more classes per week to keep up with their training. And it just adds up to more and more each year.

Okay, now I may actually be scaring you away from putting your child in dance, rather than persuading you.

So let's turn that around right now.

There's a common misconception about paying for dance...
That you are simply paying for someone to give your child a class for 45 minutes or one hour, maybe once a week.

Here's what you're ACTUALLY paying for...

  • AT LEAST one class once a week
  • SEVERAL classes a week, depending on your child's level &/or goals
  • The instructor's TIME and emotional investment into your child
  • Extra rehearsal time
  • Years of lessons and instruction that made the teacher QUALIFIED to teach your child
  • Maintenance of the studios and facilities
  • Costs of music and props that make classes so much more fun for your child
And that's not even including...

...the INVALUABLE experiences and knowledge your child gains!

They will learn...
  • How to take care of their bodies. When you dance, you WANT to stay healthy. You want to avoid injuries and sickness, because that means missing dance class! 
  • Discipline and focus. If you want your child to learn how to work hard, dance class is the place to be. They will be setting goals, learning what they need to do to accomplish them, and discovering that they won't always get to where they want to be WITHOUT putting in the work.
  • How to create lifelong friendships. Dance quickly becomes a social life, and it's hard to be shy around a group that you see constantly! Your child will connect, fast, with the other kids in their class. And those connections will last a long time because it's such a special bond that they share. I can attest to that!
  • Confidence! And especially if you have a daughter, that's a pretty important quality for her to have!
{NOTE: Dance is NOT...NOT...only for girls! The world of dance would not even EXIST without the boys! And boys need that confidence just as much...after all they are the ones who do the highest jumping, and all of those incredible lifts you see on stage!}

Now, earlier, I mentioned that the upside of watching Dance Moms is that those girls inspire young, aspiring dancers...but the downside is that a lot of parents think that all studios are like Abby's.

THEY ARE NOT.

In fact, most places are the exact opposite.

It becomes a family. Parents work together. Teachers truly care about their students. Everyone makes sure that they keep the environment positive. So those drama mamas shouldn't scare you any more than the costs should!

I would not trade my experiences as a dancer for anything at all!
 

And I love, more than anything, being able to pass down my knowledge and love to my own students, and helping them create their own beautiful experiences! And if it can change someone else's life, the way it LITERALLY saved mine {yes, really}, to me that's worth any expense! Even if your child never becomes a professional dancer, that doesn't mean all of that time and money was for naught! There is so much more to all of this! And it is PRICELESS!