Thank(fulness)

As I sit digesting the mass of food in my bloated belly after our Thanksgiving Day feast/extravaganza, I feel a mixture of gratefulness, satisfaction, pride, disgust, and guilt.  I am grateful for all my blessings this year; and I don’t say that superficially – God has blessed me immensely this year. I believe that He blessed me not only because He is good and wants to bless His children, but because I asked. That is a lot of what I have been learning this year: to ASK for and expect good things from God, and to TRUST Him, that He has heard my request, that He knows my need, and He knows what is best and will provide. God has never disappointed me. I maybe ask with wrong motives sometimes, but He has a way of showing me that what I asked for is not what I need, OR He gives me above and beyond what I need. god is so good. I can’t even begin to tell you. He has answered my pleas so many times and provided in ways I thought were not possible, yet I still struggle to give things up to Him and trust that He will take care of it. I have learned time and time again that I cannot handle everything on my own, that I continually fail, and am not as self-sufficient as I would like to be. He has been teaching me that I need to ask for help, from Him, from other people. God often works through and answers our prayers through other people. Let me give an example from this year:

This summer upon my return from abroad I was totally broke and was worried about paying my tuition for this semester. I exhausted all my resources trying to find funding. I emailed he deans of the English department and College of Arts and Sciences asking about any scholarships I could apply for, if I could get anything for my grades or from the Honors College, I called the director of the dance department and reminded her that she had promised me a scholarship if I returned to dancing, but she denied having any funds left to give me.  I had maxed out my loans and couldn’t take any more out. I searched for grants, but I was eligible for none except the Teach Grant. I started filling out the paperwork although I knew I didn’t want to commit to 5 years of teaching in low-income public schools upon graduating; it seemed like my only option. I began praying about it, really asking the Lord to show me what He wanted me to do, and trying to come to terms with changing my major over to education as the grant required if I had to, and teaching if that was what God wanted me to do, although I knew my heart was not in it. My heart still wanted to be dancing, and was ready to do anything I could to dance again. I missed it so much. It seemed silly and trivial, not to mention impossible getting into performing shape again after 9 months away from ballet. But in God all things are possible, and I committed myself to Him.  Deep down I really hoped that God would be pleased to give my dancing back to me. It would take a miracle for me to return at this point, not only financially, but that was where it had to start. I was letting money control me, which is something I recognized as I laid it before the Lord. I struggled to put aside my doubting, although I know God had provided for me before in incredible ways. Why was it so hard this time?

One evening I spent walking and praying to silence my mind and listen.  I had decided I would keep walking until I heard from God. I struggle to hear from God the way other people do, but I decided to keep my spiritual antennas alert for any little thing. God always speaks to us very clearly and in detail, as He did this time. It was as simple as bringing to mind the name of a lady who had been a frequent customer at Starbucks and an admirer of me as a dancer. I saw her in my mind as I was praying, and it was like a light bulb went off in my head: ask her. It didn’t seem like an answer to prayer at the time, but it was a clear direction to go next. And I did. I wrote her a lengthy email explaining my situation and hoped for the best. I knew she gave a lot of money to the arts in Columbia. I had tried everything else in my power; I had nothing else to lose.

She didn’t respond for weeks, and I began to give up hope that she would. I had no other clear answers, except I felt a calm and peace about the situation as a I prayed about it. I decided to trust the Lord to come through, even up to the last minute, as I knew He often answers us. Long story short, it was 3 days before I had to pay my tuition and I still had no idea how I was going to pay it.  She contacted me and in short, gave me the exact amount I needed to pay the rest of my tuition. My part of the agreement was I had to be dancing again and helping out the director in her office. God knew the desires of my heart and answered my prayers better than I could have imagined. My primary desire is that I always trust Him wholeheartedly. When we submit our desires to Him, He grows in us and molds those desires so that He is the priority in our list of desires.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;  trust in him, and he will act.

~Psalms 37:4-5


Looks like I’ll have to explain the other feelings later…

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Pink Tights Success!

Last week on Wednesday I had to put on the pink tights for the first time in, um, YEARS. But we were already at the theater so my self-consciousness didn’t have much of an effect on my ability to perform. The performances Thursday and Friday went extremely well, I thought, for myself as well as the rest of the company. I was just pleased with myself to be performing onstage again. Being backstage of the Koger Center felt completely familiar and normal, as if not a month had passed since I last performed in it. The last time I performed was spring 2009. It goes to show I feel at home onstage dancing. Every time I stood in the wings before I went onstage this weekend though, I was reminded of God’s goodness to me and thanked Him for the opportunity to be performing again. He truly knows the desires of my heart and saw that they were a good thing and was pleased to give it back to me. I would love to continue performing for as long as God will allow me to, but I think I can say now that it no longer has such a grip on me that it is what I live for, and my primary goal in lie. My primary passion is for the Lord, and in Him I can order my other passions. That is the difference between me and the other dancers. I know that I was made to worship God, and that is what I am doing in my heart whenever I dance or perform. It’s an attitude of the heart, and it’s taken me a long time to figure that out. God willing, it is not too late to get back into performing. I don’t think it is. He has been gracious to me, so gracious and so good!

pink tutu

 

Oh, need I mention I was so worried about my weight before the performance ans how I hadn’t lost any before the performance? I let it go as est I could, and surprise surprise! I had dropped 5lb over the weekend. I guess I just need to repeat that weekend more often: eating mostly just chocolate, coffee and performing!

As if it weren’t enough to have to wear pink tights for my first performance back after a couple years, I had to wear a very PINK romantic tutu for Raymonda variations and a pink and nude unitard/pants suit with attached skirt for Great Galloping Gottschalk. The latter, choreographed by Lynn Taylor-Corbett, was my favorite of the two because it was so much fun to dance. I was one of the four souvenir girls. It was a treat to have Lynn come set the piece on us at the beginning and just before the performances as well. But the best part of this weekend was that my Mom came to see me!She hadn’t seen me perform in 3 years, and that time was in Koger Center with Columbia City Ballet. It was a special treat to spend time with her all weekend, especially since I will not be home again for Thanksgiving. Someday I would like to be home again for Thanksgiving. The last time was 6 years ago.

Well, next I will look forward to performing in our student choreography showcase Nov. 29-Dec. 3 at Drayton Hall, then finishing up all my work (quite a bit of catch up work and papers to write. ugh) the semester and going home for Christmas.  Happy holidays!

Facebook Fatigue

In response to the Facebook Fatigue, Friends, Friendship and Focus blogpost by The Extinct Existentialist, I think it is time for this romantic idealist and paper-and-pen loving girl to reconsider her Facebook addiciton. I do spend countless precious minutes on that social network that could be better spent elsewhere. It is by far my favorite go-to when I want to procrastinate, as well as my sleep-deprivator. The benefits are great in that I can communicate with friends across the country or across the ocean anytime of the day without costing me a penny, but then I wonder how much more efficient and meaningful my communication would be if I had to call them. Even email has turned into the snail mail of the future, and I only email people when I have time to write them a thoughtful message, or I it is too important for the trivialness of Facebook. I cringe to see businesses using Facebook for their work. What happened to it being a “social networking” site?

I have decided to limit my Facebook time to 5-10 minutes a day, usually in the evenings, because that is one of my winding-down the day methods, but I wonder that I don’t need a different course of limitation. I could not eliminate it completely because so many of my friends contact me about important stuff like rehearsals or meeting times on it, nor do I want to.

What happened to writing letters? I ask this question along with the anonymous author of the above tracked post. Letters are more personal, and I am scared that if I switched over to letters or phone calls, personal modes of communication, many of my current infrequent correspondents would altogether stop Facebook messaging me. Some of those I wouldn’t mind losing the semi-“personal” contact with, but others I am afraid I would; I want to cultivate our communication, but am I limited to the popular technology-driven options of our culture? It is tricky thing to consider…Would some of my friends overseas, for instance, continue to correspond with me if I was suddenly no longer online? We would have to be intentional about it. And I would have to make time and effort to write them. Somehow, I feel like the trade-off would be much more satisfying, however. Remember when you were a kid and you got a letter in the mail, how exciting it would be? Or anticipating a letter from a friend? Now all I have to anticipate in the mail is bills. I call for a return to letter writing and expecting good things in the mail!

I find that I relate and can speak for many others that we can relate and agree to what he had to say about Facebook(and technology) addictions:

“Facebook is an excellent way to stay in touch, but forgive me if I also think it the scourge of society. It seems to me that if we spend less time updating the world about our lives and reading about other people’s lives, we spend more time actually living. We can cultivate friendships face-to-face instead of maintaining superficial, virtual acquaintances. I would rather have a few strong relationships with friends I visit on a regular basis than 500 “friends” on Facebook. I realize this is not an either-or situation. We can have both. But I can’t shake the notion that somehow we might be better off without Facebook.”

Pink Tights Count Down, Day 5

My efforts are futile. I am frustrated by my failures. I don’t have the good things to report I wished I did; and somehow this doesn’t surprise me… In my consideration why I tend to fall back on bad behavior patterns rather than persevere and utilize self-discipline, I like to pretend I don’t know. But I do know. I can’t do it in my own strength, Never have been able to, and if I can, then it doesn’t last for long. I tell myself God wouldn’t care about this my problem or my goal, but He does, and He wants to hear about it from me. He wants to help me, but I have to give it to Him. When will I learn?!! God wouldn’t give me back my dancing if He didn’t want me to do my best and dance my fullest and discipline my  body in order to perform my best. But what is my motivation? People’s recognition or His? He gave me back my dancing so I can worship Him, not so that I can say, “look at me! I’m back! Look what I did!” God, forgive me. God, take the reins!

I Could Have Danced All Night…

Julie Andrews is one of my heroines. I have had many nights I have felt the same as this song, and many nights when I didn’t feel it enough. When you get your hi from performing and aren’t on stage, it’s like a life line is missing. Fortunately, I strongly believe that while I may not ever get recognition here on earth, I know I will be performing for eternity in heaven. As cheesy at that sounds, it keeps me going. I know I will have the perfect body and endless energy up there, too. For the rest of my time on planet earth I will dance and worship my creator. I have had to give up my dancing for my mental and physical health, and God has given it back to me, so I owe all to Him.

Pink Tights Countdown, Day 12

I have let the last week or so slide by without much incentive to watch my diet for my pink tights… Still the same weight, although I know I am more toned than 3 months ago, when I started back after 9 months off. I can brag about my efforts to practice more Pilates each day I’m at the studio, and I substituted for Kyra(one of our fabulous ballet faculty member)’s Pilates classes twice last week while she was gone. It felt good to be teaching Pilates again, especially at a university level, and to many of my peers, but I am out of practice teaching too. It’s been a year and a half since the gym I taught at closed. It is my goal to get started on my teacher training and get certified in Pilates mat before I graduate from USC, so I can teach at other fitness centers while I’m looking for a more permanent job, rather than continuing to work these minimum wage jobs.  Not that I haven’t enjoyed the variety of minimum-wage jobs I’ve had thus far – coffee shop, bike shop, babysitting, tutoring – but I know I am much more highly qualified in the dance world and Pilates industry.

The Classics to Contemporary performances are in a week and a half. I am ready rehearsal-wise, and pointe shoe-wise, but not body-wise. There’s not much I can do in a week other than continue to try to eat less, and that shouldn’t be hard seeing as I am utterly broke and have no money or time to get groceries…still, I manage to eat. It’s strange. The most exciting news is, my mom is coming to see me perform! She had been talking about it ever since I told her my joy/predicament over performing in a pink tights ballet again, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Dad has to stay  home in New Mexico with the animals and horses, but mom is coming just for the weekend. She’ll fly into Charlotte and rent a car to drive down to Columbia. Apparently she has a high school friend from Colorado who lives in Columbia now, and I am sure she can find the little art galleries around here and various other things to amuse herself. It will be much different this time from the last time my parents came to visit me in Columbia during my season with Columbia City Ballet. Columbia is such a different place for me now: lighter, happier, friendlier, more comfortable. I live only 2 minutes away from that first apartment I had, and I drive by it everyday, and we perform in the same theater as CCB, as well as many other things that could and sometimes do remind me of it, but I choose not to remember that season of life if at all possible.

http://www.cas.sc.edu/dance/2011/10-11-season.html