Sunday, October 6, 2019

Life Right Now


Hey friends.

I have become the absolute worst kind of blogger: the sporadic, only-posts-life-updates kind. Luckily, though, I'm not naive enough to think that anyone actually cares that I've not posted since June. And I'm certainly on top of things enough to understand that if at one point anyone did care, that person definitely doesn't read blogs anymore. Because who reads blogs?

Well, I guess I still read blogs. The other day I was combing through Elise Joy's blog archives for a knitting tutorial and I got caught up reading old posts about her early marriage. While reading one of her anniversary posts, I actually teared up. Elise has been so inspirational to me in her way of presenting herself; there are few people with online presences as large as hers that do it so authentically. While (of course) there is always so much behind the scenes we don't know about, I love how great she is at capturing the feeling of specific chapters of her life.

Though the 15 year-old Gillian that started this blog definitely couldn't articulate that, the ability to form a written time-capsule is what 22 year-old Gillian still wants from blogging. I journal, sure, and I'm on Instagram a lot, but I'm missing long form writing again. I want to challenge myself to capture my life in type.

So, here we are. I'm excited to come back to this world, and excited to write earnestly again. The goal is a post published every Sunday morning at 5am. Though I know I've said it a thousand times over the last two years, I'm back for real this time.

A major contributing factor to my lack of posting over the last two years has been the seemingly constant changes in my life. Especially since this time last year, no two-months have looked the same. So to get started: here's a bit about what life looks like right now.


work. I am currently working as a professional figure skater, performing in professional contracts. At the moment, I'm in-between shows, and have been home since April. For work during these in-betweens, I'm still working as a skate technician at Home Ice Boston, coaching both group and private skating lessons, and working at a coffee shop.  It's an exciting time because for the first time in my life, skating (through shows, coaching, and the skate shop) is making up the majority of my working hours and the majority of my income. What a crazy thing to say. It's also an exhausting time, because I don't have a regular day off and I'm commuting to Boston (3 hours round-trip) 5 days per week. But, busy-ness is a good problem to have.

skating. Speaking of skating, I'm finally buckling down and getting myself back to training for my Novice Freeskate test. This summer was busy and wonderful, but unfortunately not the greatest skating summer. But my jumps have been making progress, and I'm excited to finally be in the right headspace to make this test happen. I've been spending a lot of time beating myself up for being 'bad at it', and that isn't helping. So here's to digging deeper, committing, and challenging myself in a way that is fun and encouraging.

chris, family, and friends. Chris and I have been dating for a year and a few months now, and he truly makes life wonderful. He deserves a proper blog introduction, but us being together has led to so many adventures, good talks, belly laughs, and new perspectives. There's been a lot of relationship changes for me over the last year: making new friends, discovering new things about old friends, changing how I interact with my family, and generally attempting life as part of a committed couple. Lots of change, but still exciting.


anxiety. While 2019 has been an incredible year, it's also been one full of insecurities, self doubt, self loathing, and major anxiety attacks. Perhaps it's because of there being so many changes? Regardless of the cause, my self-talk, perfectionism, and worrying has led to a lot rough nights, arguments, wasted days, and general lack of joy. I'm currently actively working on improving and managing my anxiety, and talking about it more openly. I am still debating about whether or not counseling or medication is something I should turn to right now. In the meantime, I'm trying to be conscientious about what I can do.

reading. On a lighter note, 2019 has held some incredible reading experiences. So far I have read 21 books, which is a really big number for me. Most of my reading time has been coming from audiobooks, because of my long commutes. It's really satisfying to be able to get through books quickly, as paper books generally take me a month at least. Reading consistently (and diversely) makes my life so much better. Some favorites of the year: Station Eleven, Burnout, Pachinko, Big Magic, and The Defining Decade.

the rest. Outside of this list, I've been getting back into yoga and running, cooking a lot more (yay!), wrapping up a re-watch of The Office, planning roadtrips, and starting to put cinnamon in my coffee.


If you asked me at 2pm in the middle of the day, I'd probably say that life right now is "CRAZY! unmanageable. Busy. But good? But crazy. and stressful." Right now, though, I will say that life feels pretty great, actually. I don't often take a step back, but I'm at a point where I can trace the work, people, and good habits in my life back to tangible decisions I made over the last few years  (as well lots of luck and coincidence, as always), and that feels amazing. I'm tip-toeing, but I do feel myself coming up on the life I wanted a few years ago. It's coming. Curating a life is exciting!

Thanks for reading, guys. Hope this Sunday finds you well. These are the days, let's enjoy them.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

What's Up on June 4, 2019.


It's currently 2:11 PM on a Tuesday.

// I'm sitting upstairs in my parents house, planner open and trying to crank through my to-do list. So far today: I went skating, stopped for groceries, made a few decisions about upcoming wedding/birthday presents, and did more scheduling with some skating students for the summer. I also got payments set up for my car loan, pre-paid for highway tolls through EZPass, and made a truly spectacular hummus and veggie pita wrap.

// Speaking of cars, there's some big news that's escaped the blog so far: I have a new car! A few weeks ago, I purchased a 2014 Chevy Sonic RS. It's my first proper, non-junker car, and while the prospect of buying something so nice and having a loan was daunting, I'm so glad I did it. I feel like I'm living in luxury: it has AC! and heat! and power steering! What a miracle. Of course, as is the case when you buy anything new, I've resolved to turn over a new leave and keep it exquisitely clean, trash free, and current on maintenance. I even bought Febreeze to spritz on the seats. Joking side, I really do want to keep this car much better than my last. We'll see how long it's free of trash, though.


// In mid-May, I went to Palm Springs, CA, to skate with American Ice Theater in the US Open. It was an incredible experience, and I'm so happy I went! We learned a new piece by Kate McSwain entitled "Juxtapose" in just two days and then competed it. It was so cool to be skating alongside a group of people that were not only capable of learning a piece in such a short time, but really brought it to life. Here's a link to an Instagram video with some clips of the piece.


// Right after getting home from California, Chris and I left to camp in Bristol, VT for Memorial Day weekend. We had an incredible time, and I'd say our first camping trip together was a huge success. We were in the same area last fall for a weekend with his parents, so it's been fun to get to know our way around and find our favorite spots. I'm planning to write a post in the next few weeks with a list of our favorites in case anyone finds themselves looking for a weekend getaway! I'm really falling for Vermont. Definitely a great weekend spot if you're looking to explore New England.


// There have been so many family events and reasons to celebrate lately. A few weekends ago, my cousin and my brother's fiance graduated college from the same school. After watching the ceremony, we had a family barbecue and got to use the fire pit for the first time this year. This coming Friday, we have another cousin graduating high school, and then a close friend's wedding on Saturday! Chris' birthday is the Monday after that, his parents are visiting the following weekend, it's Father's day, and then our 1 year anniversary is the weekend after that. So much to celebrate! I caught myself getting overwhelmed by it this week, and the pressure to make each moment special, but that's a silly thing to worry about. I'm very grateful that I get to worry about too much celebrating.

// I've spent a lot of time thinking this month about the trajectory of my life, and what career shifts I want to start making. As with every new season, there are things to push harder for and things to let go of. I've set some goals within skating and coaching for the next year, but I still feel like I have a lot of soul searching to do about what path to choose. All in all though,  I realize we typically find our paths instead of expertly designing them. I'm currently attempting to strike the balance between being open to where life goes, and being intentional with what I want.



// Oh also, I cut my hair. It's very exciting.

Happy Tuesday, guys! What's up with you?
xoxo Gillian

Friday, May 3, 2019

What's Up on May 3, 2019

From a walk in Boston.
It is currently Friday, May 3rd, at about 3:45 in the afternoon. 
I'm working at Home Ice today. I've actually been here every day since the Wednesday before last, since the owner's traveling. The drive is definitely tiring (it's an hour and a half drive for me), but I love being here. Especially over the last week and a half, I've basked in how fun it feels to be responsible for something like a shop. Obviously, actually owning something like this is a ton of work, and super stressful. But I can't help but find myself loving the idea of making something that's all yours. 

The other thing sparking these small business fantasies is my new job. Last week, I officially started working at a coffee shop in Portsmouth. Like I wrote about on Tuesday, I was a little hesitant to start another job, simply because I don't have a contract yet and don't know exactly where I'll be going. But, I'm home now. I want to buy a car, I want to travel this summer, I just bought new skates...so another job it is. 

But, I'm super excited about this. Everyone is nice, and once again, it's fun working in a small business. I'm excited to learn to make lots of fancy coffees, and see where this goes!

From a walk in Portsmouth.
Outside of work, I've mostly just been skating. I got new boots a few weeks ago, so I've been breaking those in. In some ways, it's kind of fun to slowly start jumping again in new boots. It forces you to slow down, and really focus on the technique since everything feels so alien. Definitely good since I've been trying to change my technique anyway. I'd really like to pass my Novice Freestyle this summer, hopefully in June, so I'm seeing lots of training days in my future. 

Chris had work in Boston today too, so we actually drove into the city together this morning. Since I had time to kill before the shop opened, I skated a quick session and went for a run. After that, I walked to a coffee shop and sat for over an hour reading Glittering Images by Susan Howatch. First off, I've been loving this book. It's definitely a slow read, but it's also intriguing and funny. It follows all the scandalous drama among church of England clergy in the 1930's; I really can't believe I left it on my TBR shelf for so long. 

Just a fairy-tale worthy spot in Portsmouth.
Secondly, I definitely need to make more of a point of going to coffee shops and reading. On the drive in today, I was talking to Chris about how I'm frustrated with the lack of joy I'm currently getting from my 1 Second Every Day video. I loved my first one, and was excited to start one for 2019. But while this project gave me so much joy and perspective last time around, I'm finding I'm just not happy with it this time. That's fine, of course; I'm allowed to change up the little projects and habits that make me happy. But I do feel the urge to start something new to look back on and find perspective in. I'm wondering if making time for a nice coffee and a book is my new project. After all, what's better for prompting reflection than sitting down quietly with a treat just because you want to?

Anyways, Chris is swinging by the shop once he's done with work, and then from here we'll go out somewhere in the city. I'm excited; for someone who's in Boston so often, I don't often explore much. We're hoping to grab a beer and see some live music somewhere.

The weekend is looking pretty low-key. I'm working, but the plan is to meet up with a friend Saturday night and then go to church Sunday night. Ideally, I'll go for a run and try a coffee shop for breakfast, but we'll see. 

What's up with you? Hope everyone's having a great day, and heading into a safe and happy weekend. 

Thanks for reading! Be the grittiest.
xoxo Gillian

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

On Being Between Contracts, and Worrying Instead of Enjoying.


Being between contracts might be the only part of skating professionally I wasn't prepared for. 

I got home from Miami two weeks ago. The day I got back, Chris and I went to our favorite brewery, and my parents met us there. That same week, I grabbed dinner with a very close friend. We had family from out of town visit for a a few days, and we spent a lot of time looking at old photos, making cake, and eating donuts. I spent an easy-going Easter at home with lots of little cousins, Chris, and one of my closest friends (and her baby!). Being home is utterly fantastic.

But the thing is, so is being away.

What feels especially significant this time around is the absence of a departure date. Chris and I were reflecting a few weeks ago that this is the first time in our entire relationship that we don't have an end-date. I got my contract offer for Sea World in early August, only 6 weeks after we met. We planned everything in a 'we have until November 1st' frame of mind. I came home from Sea World with another signed contract, and the knowledge that I'd be flying out again on March 7th.

Now though? I'm just home. Maybe for a little? Maybe for a while? No clue.

So what do I do with myself? How does one make a plan, with no timeline to fit the plan into? Do I relish the free time, and spend it with friends while I can? Do I lay low and save money? Do I find another job?

On Tuesday, I walked by one of my favorite coffee shops in Portsmouth, and noticed their 'hiring' sign in the window. On Wednesday, I emailed them and scheduled an interview. Thursday, I interviewed for all of 10 minutes and left with a job offer. I'm excited to start. I really like working, and I happen to really enjoy this spot. It's in Portsmouth, and I'm already fantasizing about becoming best friends with the owner, and walking across the street for drinks after work. I'm hoping it will be the perfect mix of flexible and fun. But is it a failure to fulfill the starving artist trope and become a barista? What if this is me settling? What if this is the beginning of me becoming a broke, going-nowhere creative, stuck making coffee for practical people that went the traditional route and now make enough money to regularly afford fancy coffee?

I know that that's crazy. I know that, for anyone pursuing an abnormal, creative life, this is incredibly normal. Skating is a small, seasonal industry. It takes time to get your footing. I've gotten two contracts; I will most likely get more. At the end of the day, it matters that I work hard, and it matters that I pursue what I love: it doesn't matter how many side jobs I have to pick up.

I keep coming back to one thought, though: what do I tell people? When someone inevitably asks the dreaded question 'what do you do?', what do I say? Do I answer with my ambitions, and say I coach and skate professionally? Do I keep it simple, and say I make coffee? Do I lengthily explain that I'm currently between contracts? Do I crack a joke and avoid the subject?

I realize that I'm the only one worrying about this. That that question is filler, an ice breaker. But if I can't even tell my Uber driver what I do, what do I tell myself?

Because really, that is the root of the problem. The only voice demanding to know what I'm doing, is my own. It's unsettling, to not be able to answer yourself. On any given day, I have no idea what I'm doing. So it's no wonder that as big and defining a question as what do you do makes me queasy.

Maybe, though, the problem isn't the question. Maybe, the problem is that I'm answering it the wrong way. Hopefully, as a well-balanced, functioning adult, I 'do' more than just the things that make me money. Contract or not, what I actually do doesn't change that much. Contract or not, I still work on my skating. I process life with my mom. I call my friends for long chats. I insist to myself that I'm going to start running. I cook with a lot of vegetables, and very few spices. I get excited to explore new places. I go for walks when I need to clear my head. I call Chris before I go to sleep. I apply to jobs constantly. I attempt to make it to church. I am never without my planner. I journal a lot.

Those things all paint a better picture of me, and what I do, than any job description ever could. I want to be a full-time pro-skater and coach, with consistent contracts, and plenty of students. That is what I'm working towards; that's my dream, my end goal. But when I look at the life I want, those goals don't even make up half of what I want to do. Figuring out how to be 'successful' at skating means the world to me, but if that's all I were to accomplish, I would be dissatisfied with my life.

What I really want to do with my life is more than skate, and frankly, more than work. I want to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. Someday, I want to be a loving wife, and a loving mom. I want to have a colorful kitchen, and have long, talkative meals. I want to travel, and live in different places. I want to push myself artistically, and tackle the things I've always thought I wasn't good at. I want to skate because it makes me happy. I want to keep writing. I want to go to school, and work with people that are struggling, and hike a lot more than I currently do. I want to help people be creative and capable. I want to have strong friendships in lots of different places, and I want to always be excited about the future.

Not knowing my next gig is tough. But it's not the worst. Life is really long, and I believe, holds enough flexibility for some things to not always go as planned. This season, I want to focus on embracing what's in front of me. Instead of fretting about where I'll be in a few months, I want to focus on enjoying being home; and, later, enjoying being away from home. I may feel like I have little control, but in reality, I hold all the power over what I do with my time. I want to be better at appreciating that.

What are you worrying about, instead of enjoying?

Thanks for reading! Be the grittiest.
xoxo Gillian

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April Check-In

First stop the day I got home: the Portsmouth Brewery!
Writing From:

Home. Technically at the moment, work in Boston. But I am home for a good bit now! So that will be nice.

Skating:

I am definitely excited to have more time to practice now that I'm home. My big goal is to pass my Novice Freestyle this spring/early summer. If I end up staying home throughout summer, I may even push to train Junior Freestyle and test that by the end of summer. But we will see!

Towards the end of May, I'm going to be skating in the American Ice Theater piece at the U.S. Open! Very excited to do some contemporary skating again; it's been almost a year and I've missed it.

Read 3/4 of Pachinko laying in the grass in between shows. 
Reading:

I finished Pachinko while still in Miami and LOVED it. Definitely recommend to anyone that is intrigued by the words "multi-generational family saga." I also just finished listening to Inheritance by Dani Shapiro on audio. Super interesting, easy read.

I'm kind of in between books right now. I'm thinking of reading Mansfield Park (is that enough of a springtime read?), and maybe listening to The Man in the High Castle? Not sure what I'm gonna do. Maybe I just need to meander through the library tomorrow.

Working On: 

I really want to keep growing my coaching base, but I am worried that I won't be able to make much progress since it's spring and a lot of beginner skaters aren't in the mood for lessons at this point. But we'll see, I haven't lost hope yet.

Other than that, it's really figuring out what I'm gonna do for work while I'm home. I still have the skate shop, but I definitely need something else and if coaching doesn't pull through, I'm not quite sure what I'll turn to.

Mom: The cats haven't even noticed the fish yet!
Eating:

I really want to cook more while I'm home, and have been making lots of burrito bowls. I can't wait to try this recipe for curry chicken and rice. For Easter next weekend, I'm making an apple cake. Also, I recently discovered Trader Joe's JoJo's cookies (they're like Oreos, but so much better). Obsessed.

Trying To:

-Not stress.
-See my friends more often.
-Enjoy downtime.
-Apply to every opportunity I can think of.
-Get rid of clutter.

Looking Forward To:

Skating with AIT, my friend's wedding (it's in August but I already can't wait), our favorite local spots opening up their patios.

From April 2018.
This Time Last Year: 

I was in the throes of AIT and Ice Chips, Kelsie and I went hiking during spring break, I spent time exploring Boston and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with Caroline.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Favorite Things in Orlando, FL 2018

This past Christmas season, I got to live in Orlando, FL for two months while skating in Sea World's "Winter Wonderland on Ice". It was an incredible first show experience, and I loved the work. I'll probably talk more about the skating in another post, but I wanted to share some of my favorite places and experiences I got to enjoy in Orlando!
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort.

Disney Springs

I ended up visitng Disney Springs a few times over the contract, and loved it more each time. It's fun, whimsical, and there's a little something for everyone. While it's definitely theme-park expensive, everything is so well curated that even just window shopping is fun.

The first time I went was during my parent's and Chris' visit. We walked around a lot, and ended up getting lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. The second time, Chris and I went back to see the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian Village Resort.  We got there early, and got to walk around in Disney Springs with some beer, and then took the ferry to the resort and explored until the show started. That cast was fun and very good, the food was good (if not great), and we thoroughly enjoyed our server.

Exploring the Grand Floridian at Disney Springs.
My big recommendation for getting a Disney feel on the cheap is taking the buses, ferries, and trains to as many resorts as possible and just walking around. We took the ferry to the Grand Floridian and it may have been my favorite part of the night. Everything was decorated for Christmas, and it felt like you were walking around the movie set of Mary Poppins. I loved it.

Other highlights for us at Disney Springs: Wine Bar George (very classy; ask to sit upstairs. The mulled wine and olive oil cake was amazing); Raglan Road (incredible irish pub with amazing cocktails and music), and House of Blues (more great live music and beer!).

I also loved that there were always performers in the streets. We stood at watched Bryan Malpass one night, and he was absolutely incredible. Check him out.

Universal CityWalk with my family!

Universal CityWalk


Similar to Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk is another theme-park downtown area. After a certain hour parking is free, and I'd definitely recommend it as a night time spot. We saw the Blue Man Group there with Chris and my parents, which was a really fun show because the crowd was so excited to be there.

That night we grabbed dinner at Vivo Italian Kitchen and then dessert at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. The food and service at Vivo was incredible, and I loved the steampunk, Willy-Wonka vibe of Toothsome.

To me, the best part of CityWalk is Pat O'Brien's, an Irish pub with dueling pianos. I'm a sucker for live music, and the atmosphere was so fun. I wish we had stayed longer the night we were there.

A day spent at Discovery Cove.

Discovery Cove

Since I was working at Sea World while in Orlando, I was able to get discount tickets to some Sea World parks. Me and two other castmates spent one of our days off at Discovery Cove, a resort-style wildlife park owned by Sea World. Discovery Cove is fun because it's all inclusive. Once you're in the door, you get breakfast, lunch, plus unlimited snacks and drinks throughout the day. You swim through a series of beaches and lazy rivers, and get to swim with fish and stingrays, feed tropical birds, watch otters, and do a dolphin swim (for an extra fee). I loved it, and would definitely do it again.

It's an expensive activity if you're paying full-price, but the food was great and I'd say it's worth it if you commit to spending the whole day there.


Downtown Orlando

One big regret from this contract for me was not spending more time in downtown Orlando. Not having a car, I definitely didn't get out as much as I wanted to; and I wish I'd explored downtown more than I did. We did a cast dinner one night at a great downtown restaurant with a view of the Orlando Eye (the big Ferris wheel). I wish I could remember what it was called; they had a great beer list.

A few non-Orlando highlights.
Bonus Loves

These experiences weren't in Orlando, but are some other places I loved:

On one of our series of days off during Chris' visit, we rented a car and drove down to the Fort Lauderdale area. Since it was early December, the beach wasn't busy, so it was fun to just walk around and stop by cute beach-side bars. Lots had live music, which is always a plus for me.

My absolute favorite thing, though, was the Cuban food. Especially in the Fort Lauderdale area, we got to get pastries, Cuban coffee, and try a few restaurants. I am now a huge convert to colada, and a big believer in trying as many local places as possible. Our favorite was Vicky Bakery, by far.

One of the things I love most about doing contracts is the chance to spend time in places I probably wouldn't choose to go. I don't think I'd every randomly decide to vacation in Orlando...but getting to live there for 2 months, and have family visit, was filled with so many great experiences. If I end up doing that contract again, I'll be excited to update this list of favorites!

Thanks for reading! Be the grittiest.
xoxo Gillian 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

March Check-In


Have been wanting to break back into blogging, and thought I'd start with a little check-in. Thanks for reading, guys! I want to be here more often again.

Writing From:

Miami, FL! I'm here for a short skating contract. I've never been to Miami before, so I'm enjoying experiencing a new place. Our cast is staying in two apartments, six people in each, so it's a bit tight. Everyone is so nice that it's not a big deal, though.

Skating:

As I said, I'm currently on a contract! The show runs about a half-hour, and we're doing 3-4 every day. It's a fun, energetic show to skate. We just opened this weekend, but I'm looking forward to getting back into my own practice again in a few days.

Over the past two months, I'd worked a lot on my jumps. Definitely want to keep the progress up, and keep chasing my double-loop.


Reading:

Currently, I'm in the middle of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and am LOVING yet. Definitely recommend to anyone that perks up at the words "sweeping multi-generational novel". I want to do a reading update soon, because I've actually done some great reading this winter. A few weeks ago I finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mendal, and I'm planning to start re-reading Tolkien's The Return of the King once I finish Pachinko.

Working On:

Before I left home, I was putting a ton of effort into growing my student-base as a skating coach. I made some good progress, and loved every second of teaching, so I'm excited to be home again and get to pursue that more.

Otherwise, I've been spending a good amount of time working on my writing and applying to different blogging positions and freeelance gigs. Excited to see where that goes!

Eating:

A lot, haha. Since I'm in the show right now, meals have been a lot of scrambled eggs, salads, fruits, and anything sustaining but healthy. I've been topping it off with a bit too much wine. Oh, and we had some great sushi the other day!

There's also a really cute tea shop a five minute walk from our venue, so I'm excited to start walking there more often. They sell Bobba tea, which I haven't tried yet but definitely want to! While here in Miami, I'm excited to get some Cuban coffee, and try some aerapas.


Trying:

-To get back into running!
-Not to worry if Chris and I don't call every night.
-To be a good roommate.
-To make baked oatmeal (hopefully this weekend!).
-Essential oils! Currently using Bergamont in the mornings, and Vetiver before bed.

Looking Forward To:

A beach day on our first day off, Chris visiting and getting to explore with him, hearing back from different shows and writing gigs I've applied to, and skating for myself again soon. Also, Chris and I have been making plans to camp a lot this summer, so I'm excited for that!



This time last year:

I spent a weekend in Burlington, VT for a Theater on Ice critique with my team. I was getting more comfortable working at Home Ice. And I started rehearsals with AIT Boston.

Amazing to look back and realize how much I was hustling to be as big a part of the skating world as possible, and a year later I'm in my second professional show. It really is the work you put in.

Thanks for reading! 
Be the grittiest xoxo.

PS-check out my new skating reel!