Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Christmas with the fam, 2016.
As I'm typing this, it's 10:19 PM on Christmas Eve. Per Robidas family tradition, I've been banished upstairs so my parents can do their last-minute wrapping in the living room. No matter how old you are, some traditions never die.

To be honest, I've been hot and cold when it comes to Christmas this year. Before Thanksgiving, I was super excited and brimming with ideas. Over the last month and a half, though, work has become super stressful, I've had to have some tough conversations with my managers about changes in the new year, and my weekends have been full due to a second job (which I love!). On top of that, the rest of the family has been juggling school and multiple jobs and everything, our whole house has been dragging a little going into Christmas.

But. This weekend, we are home. I went to church this morning and got to go to lunch with my amazing church family after. We spent Christmas Eve at my aunt's house, celebrating with my dad's side, which was fun. Tomorrow, we get to have a quiet morning with just our family, and then head out (in the forecasted snow!!) to my uncle's house for my mom's side's Christmas. It will be loud, and crazy, and filled with lots of running around and good food. I love big family holidays.

I love this time of year. I love Christmas and everything that comes with this season. But, every year I get a little sad, too. I always end up with a little knot in my stomach that won't go away. On the surface, I'll get a little sad about all the things I didn't end up getting done or thinking of. But, the root goes deeper than that. I get weirdly nostalgic; I start to miss times that I've never lived. I can't walk through a store without thinking about how weird it is that I'm so close to so many people at that moment and yet am never, ever going to meet them again. I get lonely for not just the people in my life, and the people who used to be in my life, but also the people who will never be in my life. I start to want to know all the alternate paths and random people and opposite lives I could be leading. And, I start to miss them all.

I don't hate these Christmas aches. They keep me grounded, I think; they help me see a little deeper than all the commercial stuff. But it's not comfortable to feel it. I start to miss life when me and my cousins were younger, or at least the times before girlfriends and boyfriends, when there weren't those family outsiders to talk around. I miss future us, too: I think about the inevitable day when this whole family unit won't be together, I think about my aunt and  uncle's divorce, and even though they both still do holidays together, all that unsaid tip-toeing. I think a lot about my friends, too; sometimes about how I wish I could spend Christmas with them, like when they all sing around the piano in You've Got Mail. I think about all those awkward family conversations, and how on earth we can become so disconnected to our own flesh and blood. I think a lot about what I wish I did during the year to make these talks better, whether it's spending more time with family or fixing my life so I have better things to talk about.

Personally, I feel (am) on the cusp of some pretty big things. I am hoping for them, praying for them, and so ready for them, to come true. But, it's also heart-breaking to think about future me not being here, so close to family, with the churches I've grown up with and little cousins everywhere. If I get what I want, and everything changes, it won't be the same again. How scary is that?

Since yesterday, I've been so uncomfortable with how cluttered the house is, and the piles of stuff everywhere and a planner I can't even read, that I've been dreaming of skipping over Christmas and getting a head start on my week off work to re-set and re-group. I am so looking forward to 2018: not because 2017 was bad, or just that I'm super excited for some cool opportunities, but just that I need a fresh start. But, these Christmas aches have made me slow down a little. Christmas Day, I want to make a point to take my time. Really talk and listen. Enjoy some good food and not sweat the small stuff (because let's be honest: at a family holiday, there'll be a lot of little things to possibly sweat over). Regardless of what does or doesn't happen in 2018, I do know that Christmas 2018 will be different just because it's a new year. 

I'm okay with taking a step back from a couple of traditions this year. We didn't have the time, and that's okay. Not every year is the same. My goal is to soak in all the wood stove, twinkling lights, loving family, giving spirit, stupid jokes, and snow falling New England Christmas vibes tomorrow. No matter where I am or who I'm with, today, tomorrow, and next year, it's special to have this day to relax and reflect and enjoy. I may lean into the Christmas aches for some perspective, but I'm excited to soak up the unique joy that every year brings with it.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Praying that you and yours have a safe, warm, joyful holiday.

Merry Christmas! xoxo

PS-As part of their gift, I made a Christmas movie with my cousins as our virtual Christmas card. It's cheesy and super fun. It's unlisted on Youtube, but I'm going to leave the link HERE for a couple of weeks if you want to take a peek. :)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Petitioning the Christmas Cop-Out

Christmas tree shopping with little cousins in tow.
Pre-Thanksgiving, I was already wicked excited for Christmas. I had so many ideas for gifts and parties and decorations, so many things I wanted to do with the little cousins. I imagined weekends spent at craft fairs and candles burning and lots of family snuggled together to watch a Christmas movie. It's been a few years since I really, whole-heartedly felt Christmas-y that early, and I was thrilled.

But. In my idyllic Whoville-esque world, I'd forgotten that full family on-board-ed-ness is a key ingredient. Over Thanksgiving, both sides of the family talked over Christmas plans and brought up the ever-present question of how to handle gift-giving. I don't know why, but neither side of our family has ever figured out a Christmas gifting system that works year to year. Sometimes, we buy for everyone. Sometimes, we buy for just the kids and grand-parents, and no middle-adults. This year, we decided to do a yankee swap for my Mom's side, and no gifts at all for my Dad's side. And, I don't know. That's really sucked a lot of the fun out of Christmas for me.

It's not that I want a bunch of gifts, obviously. I hate thoughtless-consumerism just as much as the next person, and I find nothing more soul-sucking than a cellophane-wrapped Walmart gift basket. But, at the risk of sounding like a Pinterest quote board, it's not about what you get! The best part about Christmas gift-giving is that it has almost nothing to do with the actual gift that's getting wrapped. There's a lot of joy that comes from meditating about a person, deciding on the best gift for them, and then going out of your way (but making room in your budget or time in your schedule) to give it to them.

When I was little, I always got a present for every single person in the family. Granted, I was 11. Most of my presents involved photos stuffed in thrift-store frames, cookie dough for the freezer, a badly knit dish towel, or, if I was being spend-y, a can of mixed nuts. I spent months planning these gifts out, and painstakingly wrapping every single one. At Christmas, I was so proud that every person had a present from me. I remembered that I would worry if I had left someone out; I was terrified that they would think they weren't as meaningful to me if I hadn't found them the perfect gift.

As an adult now, whenever I watch my little cousins give gifts, I understand what it must have been like to watch me as a kid. They get so excited whenever they've been the ones to pick something out, and they always have a fantastic reason for giving it. One year, my cousin Ena bought my Mom white coffee mug with the Lucky Charms logo on it. One one side, over the Lucky Charm's guy's face, sat a huge, orange 50 cents sticker. Ena was so excited, "I heard you loved Lucky Charms!" she said.

And she's right. My mom loves Lucky Charms! And now, a good 8 or 9 years later, we still have that mug in all it's Dollar Store glory. It's one of our favorites. If we do a yankee swap, moments like that won't happen. Every one will have a sterile, $20 gift for the swap and it will pass without a ton of talking. Don't get me wrong, I love a good yankee swap. But they work best when you're doing it with a huge group, or at a church Christmas party, and everyone can bring silly gifts. Those yankee swaps are amazing, but swaps in a normal-sized family, with serious gifts, are just lame.

I just can't stand the dicussion that always comes with this. All the "we don't have money this year!" and "we never know what to get!" and "you're all grown up now!". It's just laziness. Most of the gifts I give are homemade baked goods, because I never have the extra money, either. But the point is not the what of the giving. It's the taking time out of your day to really think about a specific person, and do something that's just for them.

I think we bring out a lot of our insecurities as adults as Christmas. We worry so much more about how much money we spend on each person, and whether or not that was the 'right' amount for them. I think that's ridiculous. We think that we can't do homemade gifts any more, and that it's better to give nothing at all than to give a plate of cookies, or something small. These are our families! They love us and value us and are happy when we think of them.

I find that heart-breaking. These are our families, and we should be able to love them as the people we are in the here and now: simple treats if you're broke this year, a heartfelt card, or if you're on the opposite side and have been really blessed this year, then something they can't get for themselves. No one else is (or should be!) judging you, no matter what side you fall. I petition that we get over our egos this Christmas, and get back to the heart of the matter: giving of ourselves, to those we love the most.

Happy Friday! xoxo

PS-Here's a look back at what I was thankful for in 2015 (hint: if I'd written a list this year, there would have been a lot of repeats!), and some priceless holiday family pictures.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Know What Fills You Up

You are reading Monday Monologue #1. To read all posts in this series, click here.

We can very easily identify what drains us. We can voice that we don't like someone, complain about how tired we are after traveling, and admit to never getting certain tasks done because we dread them too much. But do we know what fills us up?

Since it's full fledged skating season and work is back to usual, my weeks have gotten rather intense. I'm a full-time para, skate most weeknights, and skate and coach every Saturday. Now, I spend my Sundays working at my friend's skate shop and then go to our team practices after work.

I chose this life and I LOVE it. It does, though, make me extra-conscious of my energy, how I'm using it, and most importantly, how I'm filling it back up. I'm trying to not spend my time worrying about the next day, but instead spend time preparing for it.

I am not a naturally positive person. I get frustrated with myself very quickly, and more often than I'd like to admit, throw myself into a woe-is-me crisis. But lately, I've been trying to turn the conversation around and instead of complaining about what is making me stressed/worried/uncomfortable/upset, identify what I need.

Sometimes, I need a snack. Sometimes, a coffee. There are days when my answer is yoga, a walk, time to fill out my planner or clean out my purse. There are days when I need to turn off Netflix and go to bed, and there are days when I just need to binge Friends.

Life is a lot more nuanced than we often give it credit. I think sometimes in our habit-forming, high-productivity lives we forget that life isn't black and white, and we have thousands of shades of gray area to figure out, too. I eat clean because sugar and chemicals make me feel crappy, but I also eat my fair share of donuts. I love reading classics but I also love watching sitcoms. Sometimes I drink coffee, but sometimes I crave tea. I love being home, and can easily waste away a few hours on the couch with my laptop, but I also love game nights and dinners and bonfires with my friends.

We can't eat a salad every single day just like we can't have cinnamon rolls every single day. Life is all about balance: our needs change day by day, and the secret is not simply forming good habits, but identifying what we actually need in that moment.

Since I'm in the middle of a busy season, this question has come up a lot lately. I want to take advantage of the amazing opportunities that have come my way, hit my goals for this season, spend lots of time with friends and family over the holidays, and finish reading Persuasion. I think if we took more time to set our priorities and listen to our minds and bodies when life gets busy, we'd have a lot more mental space to enjoy this phase of our lives instead of dreading it and playing the victim.

What fills you up? What keeps you rested, vibrant, positive, and grounded so you can be your best at work, your side gig, on the phone with your mom, while out with your friends, and maybe most importantly, in your own mind? These moments are our lives. We're writing our legacies right this second. Let's show up for them.

Happy Monday! xoxo

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Training For Novice Freeskate

The other night at skating, it really hit me how hard getting through this Novice Freestyle test is going to be.

For readers that don't skate: to move up levels in skating, we need to pass tests that are created by the United States Figure Skating Association. There are multiple tracts to choose from, like Moves in the Field (footwork patterns), Freestyle (typical programs with jumps in spins), Pattern Dance, Free Dance, and so many more. Generally, there are eight levels in each tract. Once you pass all of them, you become a USFA Gold Medalist in that discipline (like becoming a black belt!). Right now, I'm a Moves in the Field Gold Medalist and am working on becoming a Freestyle Gold Medalist. I'm currently training for my Novice test, which is third to the last, followed by Junior and Senior.

I passed Intermediate Freestyle this past August, a test that took me two and a half years to get through. Although I've been skating since I was three, I started in an extremely recreation-based program, which led to spending most of my time in group lessons or private lessons with recreation-minded coaches. A late bloomer to higher-level skating, I didn't start landing axels and doubles until I was 18.

The move between being an Intermediate skater and a Novice skater is really hard. For Intermediate, the only jumps you need to pass are your singles, an axel, a double-salchow, and a double-single combination. For Novice, on the other hand, I need an axel, double-salchow, double-toe-loop, double-loop, and a double-double. Given that I need six jump passes, I'm doing two axels. And, since axels are relatively thoughtless now, I'm doing more complicated patterns into them, like 180's and spread-eagles.

That is all awesome! But. It means I have to worry about every. single. jump pass. This is the first time I've had to think that way!

At the moment, this test program is kicking my butt. For Intermediate, I focused-in and intensely trained for it, with no thought to anything else, for about 4 months. That was after having already had the program and been sort of working on it for about two years (I know. I'm the worst). Even then, it took skating about ten hours a week, three lessons a week, doing the jump patterns over and over and running through the program at least twice if not three times a session to make it trend towards mostly clean run-throughs. If I did all of that for Intermediate, and still messed up one jump in the actual program when I took it, what on earth am I going to have to do for Novice?!

Fresh out of high school, I knew that all I wanted to do was improve at skating and figure out someway to turn it into a career. At 18, I was simultaneously completely oblivious and unaware of my (lack of) quality of skating, lack of experiences, and who I even was as a skater, while also throwing myself into anxious, panicked fits of self-loathing and inadequacy. I knew that in that exact moment I wasn't hire-able  in any capacity, and while I kept the softest flame of hope that with a lot of work I could be, I also had zero idea of how to make it happen.

But. That was two (almost three!) years ago. Today, I've left my limiting coach situations behind, and now have a dedicated team that's working for me. I've made the cut on higher-level TOI teams, competed internationally with them, and worked with top choreographers. I've attended auditions, competed Showcase, and gone to every single workshop and seminar I can get myself to.

I am nervous about Novice, because I want to pass it this winter (I'm talking this December or January, at the latest). My program is not a typical test-program with a lot of filler stroking; every single second is choreographed, and that is making it even harder. But, I'm also super excited, because I feel that while getting this trained enough will be hard, I also feel like it's totally doable.  Passing Intermediate was a big deal for me because it was about more than just passing the test: it was about staying committed to skating as an adult, making changes to my life so my my dreams became achievable goals, and finally conquering some of the mental demons that had been holding me back for years. I did a lot of good work--on the ice, off the ice, in my head--to get Intermediate ready. I'm totally capable of doing that for Novice, too.

In order to pass Novice in 1-2 months, I'm putting my energy towards these things:

-Completing 2-3 run-throughs every single session.
-Practicing my jumps almost entirely in pattern, and in sequence with the other jumps, too.
-Committing to never quitting run-throughs (a bad habit of mine!), and fighting through the bad ones instead.
-Using this program for several holiday shows that are coming up, so I can practice executing the jumps under pressure.
-Doing cardio off the ice again, to improve my stamina.
-Staying mentally positive and focused, and putting emphasis on how I'm working through issues, not the fact that there are issues.

I finally feel like anything I want to accomplish is within my wheelhouse, it's just a question of whether or not I decide to commit to the process of getting there. That's kind of a cool place to be.

Best! xoxo

Friday, October 27, 2017

2017 Summer Adventures

There are always good things to enjoy about the time of year we're currently in, but every couple of years it feels like the Universe comes together and just hits you with a full, perfect season. Growing up, there are definitely summers that I look back on as even better than usual, and I think Summer 2017 is going to become one of those.

I've never been a person to have 'free time'. I tend to the lean to the over-commitment side of the spectrum, and when there's not real work that needs to be done, I love to make up arbitrary tasks so my to-do list stays full. It's a control thing, and not something I'm proud of. Too much freedom tends to give me anxiety; or, at least, put me in a bad mood. But, over the past year or so, I've also come to realize how much the opposite of that does, too. When I'm over-scheduled, I become a lot more pessimistic, and don't end up putting out my best stuff, anyways.

Figuring out this balance is currently a work in progress, and probably something I'll never have down to a science. But this summer, a couple of key things lined up that allowed me to spend a lot more of my time on adventures than I have in the past. The conclusion? Make adventure and relaxing and fun much more of a habit. Here are some favorite things from the summer:

Lots of family time // I'm really lucky, because almost all our family live locally. This summer, my entire extended family met up for ice cream, my cousin and I went shopping, we surprised each other at work, watched fireworks together, and ate lots of good food. I spent an entire evening playing with my little cousins at the local lake before my brother's graduation party, and spent quality time with my mom and grandmother over lunch.

 Summer Reading // Ever since high-school I've struggled to read as much as I wanted to, but I think I've fixed that this year! What with my weird work schedule, I spent a lot of time reading early in the morning, between jobs, and at the rink between sessions. I also built a lot more reading time into evenings, and spent whole weekend afternoons just curled up for hours. It's literally been years since I've done that, and it felt so damn good.

Quality friend dates // I started the summer with a mission to spend much better quality time with my friends, and overall, I think I accomplished that! A few highlights: coffee dates with Johanna, beach walks with Katarina, Boston exploring and Shakespeare on The Common with Kat, weekday Panera dinners with Rebecca, Sunday lunch at IHOP with church family, plus many more phone calls, potlucks, and hikes.

Hiking // This summer I re-discovered how much I love hiking. My mom and I did Mount Major in early July, and then we started working our way through the 4000 footers. We did Mount Tecumseh in the rain, which was hard but oh so fun, and then I did Mount Canon with some church friends. I loved that one; there was literally a section with sheer rock and a wooden ladder you had to scramble up (parkour!). I also did a few quick solo runs up Mount Blue Job, which I loved whenever I needed a quick re-set.

Beach Days // Traditionally, I am not a huge beach person, but this summer I loved it. I spent a weekend with my cousins in Bath Maine which was so long in coming. I ran on the beach in the morning and then spent the rest lounging, reading, and getting ice cream. The best! We also took our summer school kids on a beach field trip, which was probably the most fun day I had at work all summer.

Seeing some shows // In August I saw Romeo and Juliet when it was live in the Boston Common. It blew my mind how fun it was to watch theater outside, and definitely reminded me how important it is to support the arts. I also got to see my favorite singer, Cam, when she was live at Eastern States Exposition! To me, she is the perfect mix of country and folk, and was so genuine and adorably retro in person.

Skating breakthroughs // This August, I finally passed Intermediate Freestyle! This summer, a lot of the changes I've made to how I'm training really started to show and pay off, but most of all, I'm proud of the headspace I put myself in. When I was at the rink, I was fully present and working hard for everything. I pushed myself to do more run-thoughs, more spins, more jumps in pattern, and the result was a really strong test day. I've had my fair share of mental barriers in skating, and this summer I made significant progress towards beating them down. 

Given that I work at a school, my summer work schedule was a huge change. I ended up working at summer school three mornings a week, and then coaching and picking up shifts at my old retail job to fill in the gaps. While at first I was a little upset to not have a more interesting summer job, the schedule ended up being a blessing. With work not immediately taking so many hours out of my week, TOI being on break, and having just left a relationship, I entered the summer just wanting to do a lot of exploring and take some time to reset. Now that skating's mid-season and I've got my full schedule at both jobs, I want to keep that spirit of adventure alive by going to different skating events, going to shows, and making a point to set more dates with friends. The holidays are right around the corner and I'm excited to pack in just as much friend and family time as I did this summer!

Best, Gillian. xoxo

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I Was Wrong And I Never Should Have Left

It was a silly decision to decide to quit the blog. It just was. 

After posting here that I quit, I tried to start the email newsletter I'd promised. The first one was fun to write, because it was about 2017 TOI Nationals and a re-cap of our season, but after that I just kept coming up dry. There was so much going on, and I had so many thoughts, but when I sat down to write, nothing would come out in a relevant way.

As I kept poking at it, I realized that I hated that no one would be able to scroll through old newsletters in an organized way. The best part of blogging, at least circa 2011 when blogging was still so personal and authentic, was discovering someone new and just getting lost in their archives. When I found Casey's Elegant Musings (now Casey Maura!) I spent an entire snowed-in Sunday afternoon reading every single outfit post she'd ever written, and then proceeded to dig all the way back to her first post of all time and attempt to read it in chronological order. A few years later, when I started following Carly from The College Prepster (she was still in college when I first found her!) she became my morning coffee. I would wake up and immediately read what she'd written, and then, as I finished up my second cup, get lost clicking through her related posts. Even now, whenever I start to feel a creative rut coming on, I pour through Elise Joy's 'creativity', 'motivation', and lately, 'knitting' tags.

So many people who never got into blogging like to smash it in with the rest of the social media train wreck, but those of us who've found our own spaces here know it's just not the same. Each of the three women I talked about above really shaped and represented a phase of my growing up. As I worked through new things and discovered more of who I was, I sought out their voices because they represented what I was striving to be. Casey showed me how to be myself, even the contradicting parts of myself, when I was an awkward 13 year-old that related every real-life situation to an I Love Lucy episode and perpetually felt out of place. I turned to Carly when I was wrapping up high school, and she let met indulge my to-do lists, random ideas, and overbearing, Type A tendencies. And then, just when I was positive Blogland had turned into a lifeless dessert, Elise sparked the creative juices, self-reflection, and fierce independence that full-time retail had started to beat out of me. 

Once I officially was done with the blog, I really started to miss it. The months before, I had started to feel out of place here. Like I'd outgrown it and somehow lost my voice along the way. But without this platform, I realized I'd gotten rid of my voice all together. I tried journaling, but without the structure, and the editing, and the desire to make some sort of point, I found myself doing a lot more complaining and worrying than real, productive, restorative writing. At some point, I actually started a brand new blog. But the new space didn't fix my problems. I didn't want to abandon all the story I'd already written.

So, a couple of weeks ago I decided to come back. I've changed the design (it's super ugly right now and will definitely change again), and wrote a new about page. At work, I wrote out a list of post ideas. I decided I really had outgrown 'young yankee lady'; so I changed the URL. I wish I'd realized in June that what I needed was a face-lift, not a whole new space. 

I am excited to be back, as I've really missed sharing snippets of my life and pulling together a mass of work that, if no one else, I enjoy reading through. I think we have to keep writing, and writing well. The romantic part of me believes that blogging is our last intelligent, personal narrative. If we don't write letters, or journal, what are people going to publish in 100 years? Anthologies of Instagram posts? *shudders*

And if nothing else, it's exciting to have somewhere to ramble incessantly like this (and let's be real: a place to use words like incessantly. That doesn't happen often).

Thanks for reading, guys! It feels good to be back!

Gillian, xoxo

Friday, June 30, 2017

Moving On

I'm going to cut right to the chase:

I am having a fantastic year! There's been a lot of growing going on and I feel like I'm starting a new chapter. For a while, I've felt this good old blog winding down, but I didn't want to acknowledge it. 

There. I said it. After 5 years in this cozy web space, I'm officially leaving Young Yankee Lady behind.

The past 6 months have been pretty great. I finished up the school year at my new-ish job as a special ed para, and really loved it. I ended up working 1 on 1, and I found it so fulfilling! While I've decided that this isn't going to be my career, it's the perfect place for me right now. For the summer I'm working at summer school, and (hopefully) have a few side things, as well.

Skating wise, I've switched coaches and clubs which is a huge change. I also went to Knoxville ProSkaters again, competed at Nation's Cup with my team, and we became the 2017 National Theater on Ice Silver Medalists this past weekend! We are so excited!

This year, though, has led to a lot of questioning. There were situations that led me to really think about what I wanted from life, longterm, and there were multiple times I considered changing tracks and going a more traditional route. The fact is, life is scary. And it's hard to keep the faith when the path isn't clear, and it's hard to ask people to love you and want you when you can't, in any detail, talk about the future. 

Dramatic? Probably. But at any rate, I've done a lot of questioning that almost tempted me to give up on some dreams and move to something 'practical'. Thankfully, though, I decided that that was crazy and what the pit in my stomach wanted, not my heart. 

But I also decided that if I'm going to go for THIS (this being a creative, skating filled life where I'm actively making new things), then I'm going to GO FOR IT. No more holding back, no more excuses, just lots and lots of work and willpower. While I've said this over and over again, I'm ready to act on it. I'm not going to lie about my goals anymore. I'm not going to hold back. Can you imagine if I missed an opportunity because my fear led me to hold back? That would be heartbreaking! I'm not letting it happen. 

I want to thank all of you for the past 5 years. While our space here was small, it meant a lot to me. Some of my best writing, and think-throughs, and epiphanies came from this blog, and having you guys here to read has made it so special. I truly believe that we all have stories, and can learn from or inspire or motivate each other. The writing and recording of a life is, in many ways, a lost art. I love blogging because it is NOT just social media: when people are truthful, it's the honest story of a life. Maybe some day we'll publish books of old blog posts like people compile old letters now. 

I would love to stay connected with you guys! If you have new projects I've missed out on, please leave a comment so I can see what you're up to! If you want to keep up with what I'm doing, I'm very active on Instagram (@gmrobidas). I promise lots of skating pictures and book pictures and usually some baby cousins. I'm also doing better at posting all my skating videos on Youtube, so if that's your thing you can follow me there. And last but not least, I'm starting a newsletter list. My hope is to send out Friday emails that just talk about what I'm learning and set a few goals for the week. Sending it as an email seems really personal, so I'm hoping it will feel like the old days of blogging, just maybe more work focused. 

Again, thanks for being here. I love you guys, and will miss this space. I hope we stay connected!



Monday, January 9, 2017

Audition Video Progress

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figure skating audition video progress gmrobidas

Over the years, I've talked a lot about my ultimate, dream goal: to work for a professional skating company, like Disney on Ice or Willy Bietak. That dream has gone through many stages. There was the the shiny-eyed stage at 13, when getting in seemed so attainable for my future adult self. This was followed by the complete inadequacy stage of about 18, when graduation was just around the corner and I felt like I'd fooled myself into believing show skating was an option. This led into the desperation stage of 19, where I tried to put myself out there (and took some huge steps!) but was so nervous that I couldn't count on myself to really perform well.

But now, I think I've entered the courage stage. I'm 20 years-old, and feel very at peace with my skating. I will always want to be better, and strive to be better, but I'm not letting that want distract me from all the things I can currently do. I'm being more professional with how I approach getting a show job, but I've also switched my mindset so that now, I'm doing it for me. Even if nothing ever comes from it, I love skating. I like this process. It's a challenging way for me to put myself out there, and I grow so much with each step. I really like this stage, guys. 

After literally years of video attempts, I finally contacted a professional to actually do it. We met on Saturday during one of the club sessions, and got all the filming done! I used Tap House Media, an awesome local company. We actually know the founders through their parents, and Heidi was so wonderful. I thought I might be nervous, or self-conscious, but the whole morning was so comfortable and fun. 

figure skating audition video progress gmrobidas

The night before I made a list of everything I wanted to remember to do, and I think we got it all in there.  I came up with some footwork sequences to show off different things, and spent a lot of time spinning and doing show tricks like spread eagles and illusions. My jumping has been a little weird lately, so I saved that until the end, with the plan to send her some of my own jumping videos if I couldn't do any good ones while she was there. But not to worry! I landed axels and double salchows! I'm slowly but surely pulling myself out of this rut. My jumps are definitely my weakest area when it comes to qualifications, so I wish I could showcase more doubles, entrance variations, and combos to show. At some point this year, I'd like to make an updated jumping reel so I have more to send out, but with the season I've had for jumping, I'm actually really happy with what got filmed.

At the very end, I ran through my showcase program. Late summer, I worked with Kate McSwain to choreograph it and I am so in love with it. The music is a Boogie Woogie Bugel Boy/Candyman medley, and it's very retro and rockabilly. I still need to work on consistently landing my jumps in it, but I'm so excited to take it to a showcase competition. I do love the faces and acting that's in this program, so I really wanted snippets of it in the video. 

It felt so good to finally take this step! When the video's ready, I'll definitely be sharing it here. Action is the best way to cure feelings of inadequacy.

Happy Monday! xoxo

Monday, January 2, 2017

Courage in 2017

2016 was a pretty good year. I just re-read the post I published this time last year. I hadn't even remembered half of the intentions and goals I set, much my less my 'word of the year'. Yet looking back, I found that my intention started to manifest itself without me even thinking about it.

I had picked stubborn as my word for 2016. It may sound like a bit of a negative word, but I meant it in a positive way. I wanted to be stubborn about my goals, and learn to lean in to the hard stuff. I wanted to be stubborn and stand up for myself, instead of getting pushed around. I wanted to be stubborn by living in the way I knew was really me, instead of feeling directionless.

While the particular word 'stubborn' didn't stick with me long, I did keep coming back to the overall intention. When something would start to go badly at work and I would get queasy and scared, my mantra was, "You're tough. Be tough". Sometimes when I was nervous, I'd imagine physically digging in my heels and refusing to move. Those visuals and mantras gave me the oomph I needed to get over a few hurdles this year.

In a less positive way, though, I did find myself doing a lot of muscle-ing this year. One of my coaches actually cited this as why I wasn't jumping as well as I could have been: I was trying too hard, and ended up just forcing it. If I calmed down and allowed my jumps to flow, they'd be easier. I need to beat this habit on-ice, but the funny thing is I've noticed myself doing the same thing off-ice, too. When I get worried, I tend to start pushing too hard and forcing things, instead of recognizing that sometimes, I need to just let it go, and see what happens. I learned a lot about this balance of stubbornness in 2016, but I've still got a long ways to go.

For 2017, though, my word is courage. As in the courage to be authentic. The courage to put myself out there, regardless of anxieties and insecurities. The courage to reach out to someone new, take the first step. I want to be more courageous in my relationships. More courageous in my pursuit of opportunities. More courageous in my actual work, so I can be willing to take risks and experiment. I want to courageously do what is right, not what is easy. I want the inner strength, peace, and forward attitude that courage implies.

I've thought a lot about my goals for 2017 over the past month or two. Rather than looking at the whole year, I'm setting goals by the quarter. At this point in my life, I feel like things tend to stay the same forever and then change all at once. I cannot imagine a single plan that would realistically work out for the whole year. But a 3-month period? I can plan 3-months of intentional, challenging, growth inducing goals.


  • Split the year into quarters: January-March, April-June, July-September, October-December.
  • Set 3 'big' goals for each quarter. These should be challenging but realistic.
  • In addition to the Big 3, keep up with my goal to perform a solo every month (a challenge I gave myself in November), and read 5 books (3 audio, 2 regular). 
  • I would also like to be more intentional about habit building in 2017, so for each month, I'm going to pick a theme, and then try to build some habits around that theme. I'm not going to go crazy keeping track of them or anything, but I'm hoping that just having that monthly reflection and reminder will help me to be more intentional in my daily life this year. 
Now I know that probably seemed a little intense, but I actually feel like I've built a lot of flexibility into it. Planning only 3 months at a time allows me to be so much more aware of what will actually be useful, and I'm hoping that leads to a lot of strides forwards this year.


So what, I'm sure you're dying to know, is the plan for quarter one?

BIG 3:
  • Make/send out an audition video. 
  • Prep for/pass Intermediate Freeskate.
  • Another personal one I'm going to keep offline right now (I'll be less mysterious after I check it off). 

I'm not sure what I'm going to do for January yet, but in February TOI Boston will be hosting a Sk8 to Elimin8 Caner exhibition that I'd like to solo in, and in March I'll probably skate in either a local show or a Showcase competition. 


I'm horrible with reading lists, but right now I'm looking forward to listening to Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth on audio, and then finishing The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, finally finishing my re-read of The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien, and starting Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham (I'm also really looking forward to finishing Gilmore Girls in general. I'm finally in Season 6 and loving it, although I'm already dreading Season 7 because from what I can tell while staying spoiler free, everyone's dissapointed by it. BUT I've heard A Year In The Life is awesome, so I'm still psyched). 


For January, I'd like to focus on rhythm. I want to add more flow and stride-catching to my day, so I can spend less time worrying about stuff that doesn't ultimately matter. I want to try making my bed every day, sticking to the same morning routine, figuring out what I'm wearing for work at the start of the week, and packing my bags the night before. 

February is going to be a crazy month with tons of practices and therefore tons of commuter time, so I'm thinking of restore. I'd like to focus on getting enough sleep, eating really well, and working out in a way that boosts my energy. 

I don't have many ideas for March, but with it being (potentially) a slightly slower month than January and February, I'm thinking I might focus on create. I've been wanting to challenge myself more when it comes to creative projects (I tend to always do the same creative things), so maybe I would try to start and finish a project in March.

Yes, I know. I always unleash my most psychotic, sticky-note loving self on January 1st. Yet while I know my 'quarterly system' and 'monthly focus' can come across as a little heavy, I actually feel really light and content about it. Planning for just three months, taking things as they come, and focusing on wellness and wholeness, just feels so achievable. I don't need to worry about next fall. Or summer. Or honestly, even May. I am not there yet. Instead, I am doing my absolute best work now. 

Happy New Year! xoxo