Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Years Intentions

I create my own reality . . . Perception

Vitality | Purpose | Contribution


What I'd like to both give and receive/ how I'd like to approach the New Year:
  • Awe
  • Whimsy
  • Prosperity
  • Empathy
  • Love
What I'd like to experience in the New Year:
  • Dance classes in the styles of my interest (African, Afro-Modern, Tribal Fusion, House, tap, hip-hop styles/ plan weekly)
  • Social dancing (swing nights, House nights, Hipshaker, Hotpants, Worldwide Discotechque/ alone and then get people there?!)
  • Regularly writing/ creating about these experiences (as research/ next morning writing session)
  • Teaching classes and producing shows (engage people with the embodiment of music/ it's my job!)
  • Regular creation (of nuggets or pieces of choreography/ self-directed when not working toward a show)
  • Travel (planned - CO, May trip, NDEO national conference)
  • General horizon expansion (possible on a daily basis/ if you let it be . . . Perception)
  • Live music/ with friends (updated by JamBase!)
  • Continued development of balance
Where I want to go in the New Year: 
  • Colorado (in April to visit friends - ticket booked!)
  • Big Trip (in May, hoping for Greece or Norway!)
  • NDEO National Conference in San Antonio (in November - dates are on my calendar, working on a proposal)
What I want to learn in the New Year: 
  • About the dance and music forms I love for continued progress
  • Potential discovery of new to me and related dance and music forms
  • About food, specifically production, digestion and nutrition, and how to work that information into my cooking
What I want to change in the New Year: 
  • Interrupt the ease with which I opt out while keeping balance

New Years Intentions 2017 - Proccess


Arrived on a softer word . . . resolutions are something the UN makes. I make intentions. Ideas that will buoy me as I continue toward living with purpose. Like many years, what is coming out is not very literal. I am coming to find more and more that purposeful actions come about from purposeful considerations, and I've seen this guide the things I do. The ways I eat, how I treat my body and my friends and family, how I invest in personal growth and my passions and how that contributes to others is all a result of the intentions I hold for how I want to live.

"I believe in mind over matter, and I've made my mind up to travel in time . . ."

I create my own reality . . .

And in it today, I am a fairy.
In it today, I everyone is my friend and I am theirs.
In it today, I will go to the moon.

Input/ Output

Interconnectedness (tuning in, feeling)
Presence (improvisation, listening, responding)
Energy (dancing, loving, eating, hugging)
Curiosity (discovery, experiences)
Awe (I find)
Whimsy (I find)
Abundance (I find)
Empathy (I give)
Love (I give)
Value (creates direction)
Pursuits (applies it)

Output/ Input

I create my own reality.

All the above, put simply. There are so many ways this idea rings true. In how I feel, in how I treat myself and others, in how I spend my time, energy and money. I am almost disappointed in how 'truist' this phrase sounds, yet I am still attracted to it's room for whimsy. 

I'll sit on it for a moment.


I decided this year that I wanted to try self-reflection and development processes for both the personal and professional aspects of my life. That said, just as I've found over the years in deciding to combine my personal and professional journals, and in line with my interest in simplicity, I am finding that these two objectives are really not that different. They keep crossing over one another. I have a feeling that in the end, I'll end up combining them.

I am glad that I am starting to identify this as important professional development, because I get very little of that if it's not self-imposed. In a way, this is a bummer. In another (more dominant) way, I am actually glad it's my responsibility and mine alone to make sure I am evaluating my own work and planning for ever-increasing success.

Word ( Perception

Career Assessment (Nov Star Tribune): Only answer

If there were no barriers of time or money, I'd work as: A dance artist :)

My professional life would improv if: I got to dance more. Define dance more - take more class. Define take more class - take more classes I really want to take, even if they are on free evenings and weekends, as I think Kris would want me to be doing what I want too - so African classes, Afro-modern, be willing to chip in to pay more to go to tribal Fusion classes and making space for House workshops, tap classes and hip hop classes. Maybe rather than trying to go when I end up available, I should be more diligent about planning out each week ahead of time according to what's offered. Again, define dance more - go out social dancing more. Define go out social dancing more - going Swing dancing and such. Define - once the Contempo show is over, going to Th night swing (ICEHOUSE industry night Sundays, Hipshaker, Hotpants and Worldwide Discotech - may need to stop even trying to get anyone to come with me, go and THEN invite people!).

My professional life would improv if: I spent more time writing about the research aspect of why I want to dance more - understanding the direction of jazz through analysis of how people are melding presentational and social dance forms today. Solution - spending some time writing after my experiences going out or training or seeing shows.

My professional life would improv if: I continue regularly making space for choreographic exploration. Once my April show is over, I'd really like to go back to multi-weekly movement sessions of my own where I create nuggets that help me know where I am, generate and potentially provide seeds for whats next.

My professional life would improv if: I got more professional development travel funding. Not worth changing a current structure I otherwise enjoy, just worth noting. I appreciate that Kris sees the value in me attending conferences, and I will keep doing so.

The job I've enjoyed most so far has been: Dance artist :)

Five things I want to achieve in my career: I'd like to work full-time in a university when I am older and less able and interested in performing a lot. I'd like my own choreography funded well enough that I can pay dancers for rehearsal and performance, project by project. I'd like Rhythmically Speaking well-funded enough that we consistently fund the annual show year to year, paying each choreographer an average of $3,500 - $4,000 (estimate for paying self and 4 dancers $10 an hour for 60 hours, rehearsal space and other creative costs). I'd like to regularly perform with well-regarded choreographers whose work I am interested in and get paid for it. I'd like to positively impact the scholarship in and general opinion in the larger dance community of jazz and American vernacular dance. I recognize these ideas as not super-meta or general, but they are what made sense for me to consider at the time of this writing.

Three crazy ideas I'd pursue if I could: Doing a national version of Rhythmically Speaking. Starting MN and national tours of RS shows. The Charlie Brown Christmas dance show. I don't know that this one is crazy, and I might try to make a small iteration of it my next big project. Maybe we could do a studio showing of it around Christmas 2017 and try to actually do the show for Christmas 2018?

My ten best assets for the world of work are: Tenacity, dedication, curiosity, enthusiasm, organization, self-direction, leadership, charisma, self-reflection, willingness.

The things that matter most to me are: My relationships, my health, movement and dancing, sharing the joy of moving to music with others. It has been occurring to me lately that many people have self-interest (inherent in American culture) without balancing it with community-interest (as Ive learned is very important in many African cultures) and I feel I can help uncover and repair that gap by helping people feel them simultaneously through jazz and American vernacular dance improvisation and other such class scenarios (as it is an amalgam of these values physicalized).

Passion/ Purpose Ven Diagram (Project Happiness)

My friend Emily shared this and it just struck me, so I made my own version. I am realizing going through some of these exercises I've found this year that I certainly do not need help figuring out what my passion or purpose is right now, so much as I need to consider more carefully how to make the best of it, allowing myself to grow while contributing to others and maintaining a well-designed life in general.

Your Top Five (things to commit your energy to): I actually did not write down where I found this (shame on you, academic!). I like this idea of continually reconsidering what these things are. That said, this idea really didn't define how deeply or specific one should get with these. It kind of reminds me of the 'Hotspot' idea outlined in the "New Year's Resolution Guide" from in this, you identify the hotspots of where your energy is going, and then consider where you want it to go. Considering this idea, I think I've actually be doing a really good job this year of balancing energy toward my desired hotspots, and I think I've actually got mine narrowed down to just three things:

Vitality                    Purpose                Contribution

Including things such as:

Nutrition                 Relationships        Joyful experiences
Exercise                  Passion                  Helping others experience music embodiment
Mental                    Intrapersonal         Encouraging self-realization
Financial                Interpersonal          Encouraging interconnectedness

I'm gonna stick with a top three :)

New Years Questions (The Accidental Creative Podcast):

What do you want to experience this new year?: I want to travel more, even considering just little trips opportunities for mind-expanding travel. Seems that this will work out, as we are planning to take a trip in May. This said, I may even open this beyond just travel and get down to the root of suggesting this as a desired experience: I wish to expand my horizons and see new things. These two things are possible on a daily basis if you let them be. Perception. I also wish to dance more, something discussed above in detail. I also want to experience more live music with friends. I also want to continue experiencing balance, something I have been consciously working toward.

Where do you want to go in the new year?: I actually feel like I spoke to this quite a bit above. I have to admit that I am afraid to reach too far on this. I thought about making it a goal and putting it in writing to finally see Radiohead live in 2017, but research showed that it's likely not possible for this year given certain circumstances, so I'll have to settle for going to great lengths to see them the next time they tour the US. I'll also add I'd like to visit Colorado (ticket already booked!), and I'd like to go to the NDEO National Conference (definitely happening :)). I'm glad I've had enough foresight about conference planning that I didn't look to 'blow my load' this summer and then not feel like I have the travel funds for October. That said, I suppose there were just no seriously exciting summer opportunities I've come across, so that helps (unless I am awarded the Next Step grant, which would allow me to travel for movement conferences!). Regarding reach, I guess I feel a little sad that I don't want to reach. Perhaps that is because I already know we are going to take a big trip! Hoping for Greece or Norway.

What do you want to learn in the new year?: I would like to keep learning about and progressing in the dance forms I love, which will have a positive impact on my teaching, choreography and performance. I'd also like to keep learning about food, specifically production, digestion and nutrition, and how to work that information into cooking.

What do I want to change?: I want to interrupt the ease with which I choose not to go out to do things I'd enjoy (live music, dance shows, dancing) because it's easier and cheaper to stay home. This is hard to note because I do also believe in listening to what we really want, and if I really want to not have another drink, to stay home for an evening, etc., I want to listen to that. I'll have to seek balance for this.

Career Vision and Goals (UC Berkley): I realize that I have a mission, but have not split down specific goals from it. I suppose it's safe to say that I have the goal to fulfill my mission by creating opportunities for people to experience music embodiment through classes (teaching), performance (choreography, performance and organizing) and scholarship (conference presentations. At this point, I don't know that I am interested in getting more specific about this. I am learning, trial by error, about how to best balance all these methods for fulfilling my mission, and am working to listen carefully so I know when to shift where I am putting my energy. As those shifts become more consistently toward and away from certain things, perhaps I will become better able to more specifically define these goals. Another career goal I suppose I've considering somewhat obvious but wouldn't hurt calling out is to make a living in dance teaching, performance and scholarship. A lot of this writing isn't very 'SMART Goal,' but I think some of it is more than it has been in the past. I think I have a good sense of what I need to be SMART goal and what I don't, and perhaps I need less of this because I tend to be a very self-directed and self-motivated person.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Year in Review

I originally came across these questions a couple years ago in a social media post by my friend Stephanie Johnson, and have enjoyed doing this since. Here is another go!

1.) What did you do in 2016 that you'd never done before?
Bought a house, performed and choreographed with an entertainment company, showed my own work professionally at our region's ACDA, presented at an NDEO conference, worked in a coffee truck!

2.) Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make any for next year? 
My new years resolutions have become less and less literal over the years, so I don't really feel I 'keep them' now so much as use them as guideposts for continued growth. I think I did a lot of self-directed learning about living a purposeful life in all it's aspects this year, a curiosity driven by last year's resolution to understand everything as vibrating spectrum. As for 'resolutions' for next year (considering finding a term that feels more fitting to me), filling this out is part of that involved process :)

3.) Did anyone close to you give birth?
I'm sure I won't even be able to keep track of all the babies: Sarah, Mandy had twins, Karis, Sarah BE, so many babies.

4.) Did anyone close to you die? 
Yes. This one feels tough to clarify, as there was one death of a friend that was very close at one time. It happened between the deaths of two people who felt like close friends because of my connection to their artistry. This succession of loss made me think even more deeply about how to be purposeful.

5). What countries did you visit?
Didn't go out of the country this year, but went to awesome conferences in Dallas and Newport, RI.

6.) What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Funny looking back at what I noted I wanted for 2016 (to work actively toward making space and time for scholarship and choreography): I was very successful in carving out space and time for choreography, and I feel really good about that. Regarding scholarship, I tried, and kept bumping up against walls. It took loosening my attachment to what I said I wanted to realize that what I said and what I actually desire are perhaps different right now. In light of this, I have actually decided to back down on pushing out writing in favor of focusing more carefully on actually dancing; choreographing, performing and being a student/ experiencer. In that, one thing I'd like to have is more experiences with the dance forms that intrigue me most. I already have a 'deliverable' for that; I will again apply to the MRAC Next Step Grant with a bent on attending some conferences surrounding forms about which I am curious, positioning those experiences as research about the junction of the self and the community that happens in jazz and American vernacular dance forms, and how that can inform my choreography, teaching and performance.

7.) What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory and why? 
April 21st - the day Prince died.

8.) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The first thing that comes to mind is buying the house. Looking back on the year, I also feel really good about my experience at the NDEO jazz conference and the amount of production output I created; Dancescape, Circulate, Circus McGurkus 1 and 2, Rhythmically Speaking. That said, I want to be sure to keep highlighting for myself that there is a difference between busywork and deep work. I want to keep conscious about defining when I am doing which, with a focus toward the later.

9.) What was your biggest failure?
According to the intentions I set for myself for the year, my biggest failure was not making more progress on a new piece of scholarly writing. That said, I believe I am making excellent progress in being purposeful with everything in my life, and I'm coming to see that pushing writing out of myself because I said I would just to keep a category of my professional life active is not very purposeful. Doing so belongs to the autopilot I operation system I am rejecting. Rather, I want to spend both my personal and professional time on what I want most, and clearly, since the article I was working on wasn't progressing, I don't really want it. I am definitely learning from this scenario, and keeping some focus on answering the question of "How do you want to spend your time in 2017?"

10). Did you suffer illness or injury?
I can't remember anything about the 'toe injuries' I referenced in last year's write-up. I did experience some injury this year in the painful culmination of poor-patterning amounting to inability to step down on the ball of my left foot without pain. I ended up quite grateful for the injury; it could have been far worse than it was, and I learned a lot from it after Karla wisely told me, about injuries, to "learn everything you can from it." Wise advice, not only for handling injuries . . .

11.) What was the best thing you bought?
Probably the house . . . but I do like my sweatshirt dress from Etsy :)

12. Where did most of your money go?
See above (again!). That, and building savings back up after paying the downpayment.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Life design/ intentionality and purposefulness applied to all parts of life. I also dug deeper into food and moved toward vegetarian/ veganism, as well as habit research. I really loved the Cloud Cult album "The Seeker" and the Kneedelus album, and certainly went through some digging into the Bowie and Prince catalogues. I also got pretty excited about talking walks.

14. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer?
Happier, Thinner, Richer :)   May that process continue until any element should pause or reverse.

15. What do you wish you'd done more of? 
Going out social dancing. Time with friends.

16. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I feel I balanced things out pretty well this year. Having a hard time thinking of what I'd really say to this, which I suppose is good!

17. How did you spend Christmas?
Liebhard's Christmas Eve and Olson's Christmas Day.

18. What were your favorite TV programs?
Walking Dead even though I wanted and tried to quit, Gilmore Girls in preparation for the reboot, Agents of Shield.

19. What were your favorite books of the year?
Again, I didn't read for pleasure nearly as much as I would have liked to. If that means it's not a main leisure priority for me, I suppose that's ok, I just really do enjoy it when I do it!

20. What was your favorite music from this year?
Discussed above, I also really enjoyed Radiohead and Polish Ambassador's new releases (A Moon Shaped Pool and Dreaming of an Old Tomorrow, respectively). I also got to see Weezer again for the first time since high school, this time with Kris, which was really awesome. It got me going on their catalogue again, and made me realize I had missed a lot of new releases! The White Album didn't end up knocking me over the head with joy, but it definitely has some good stuff and I am grateful for the renewed interest in them. I ALSO NEARLY FORGOT that I got to go to the Newport Jazz Festival this year. It was incredible to see Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington, who I had gotten into somehow near the start of the year. I spent a lot of time in the yearly part of the year with Bowie's last release Blackstar, and was embarrassed to realize that an Emancipator slipped past me in 2015 (Seven Seas). This album was really informative to my ideas of correlation between habit and repetition in music, particularly jazz-influenced EDM in regards to my own interests right now.

21. What were your favorite films of the year? 
I don't get to the movies much, and the ones I actually go see in the theater tend to stand out more in my memory. "Fantastic Beasts" was really quite incredible!

22. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? 
31. Still didn't get to Valleyfair. Tried. Maybe I'll go alone . . . I had people meet me at the VFW this year for drinks and Hotpants. It was pretty fun when I let go of the desire to always be surrounded by a crowd. This year it falls on the Saturday before Easter. Not sure right now what I'll do, but I imagine I'll cook up a good plan :)

23. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More dancing. ALWAYS.

24. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Reduction, mixing and matching favorite items that have tended to fall into my favorite color pallet of red, black, grey and white, handmade whenever possible!

25. What kept you sane? 
Continuing to delve into life design/ intentionality/ purposefulness. Again, that said, I think I may be getting to a gorge-point with it and may need to reduce the amount of input I'm taking in on it all and just do. Also, meditative morning walks and realizing that when you operate with more purposefulness in general, there is less insanity.

26. What was a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016?
Many. Let's see which ones flow out effortlessly: to learn everything you can from any given moment or situation and to encouraging relentless curiosity. Those are the two that came out easiest. What else . . . that purposefulness limits stress and allows everything to feel whimsical, that choosing this allows me to create my own reality and therein find even more whimsy . . . I am on my way to something good for the eventual resolutions, though I'm not there yet :)

Thursday, December 22, 2016


They hold a certain magic for me. I am unsure of much about their background, but I do know they are in the greenhouse that Frosty melts in before he comes back to life. I also know that my grandma seemed to always have one in the winter, a bright red beacon in the corner of the otherwise modest kitchen or living room. They reminded me of the way she'd sometimes color her lips: they'd become a bright red beacon, highlighting special occasions. A vibrant reminder of the wisdom and wit that regularly splashed from those lips, filling the house and those in it with joy.

It always gives flutter to my heart to pause and appreciate a thriving poinsettia in the cold and dark of winter. As I've gotten older, I've recognized that it takes special care to help something thrive. This idea certainly isn't limited to plants, but they are a nice reminder. Growing, living, breathing, thriving, shifting, fleeting.

My mom carried forth her mother's tradition of having a poinsettia around the house during Christmas time, cultivating her own brand of that quiet winter magic. She, too, looks great in red, and has her own sage ways and wisdoms.

Each time I see beautiful poinsettias in a display or someone's home, or when I line my own lips with a similarly vibrant red, my subconscious whispers to me these musings, and I am filled with a sense of ebullient wonder.