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!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Showgirl Things #1

The best part of this photo is our reflections in the ice!!
I have now been in Orlando for 41 days, and have performed in 30 shows. We are currently in the middle of a few days off before this Friday (December 14), when we start having shows every day through New Year's. We have 37 shows left!

Because of all the thoughts this new experience has spurred, I thought it would be fun to start a small blog series to record the things I learn, notice, and try throughout different contracts. Welcome to Showgirl Things #1!

So what have I learned, after a month and a half, my first rehearsal process, and doing the same half hour show several times a night? That this world is a weird little world of it's own, and I've still got so much to learn.

There are no topics off-limits in a dressing room. Before and between shows, our topics of conversation have included: boyfriends, periods, sex, sloths, ingrown hairs, our weirdest pimples, toe hair, wine, beer, places to drink wine and beer, church, marriage, plus lots of personal stories of struggle and family and what's coming next. The good, the bad, and the ugly; if you're thinking about it, it's okay to talk about it.

Speak Up. Despite how it felt (for me) at first, it is NOT embarrassing to admit you didn't hear what the choreographer said, or didn't understand a note, or something on your costume broke, or you're costume is uncomfortable, or you actually can't do what they're asking you to. It is embarrassing to NOT say something and then, later, be dealing with not knowing the steps, making the same mistake, dealing with a costume that doesn't work, or constantly missing an element. Be honest, and speak up for yourself.

Listen to everyone who tells you to buy Biofreeze and ice your feet. Rehearsal Day 1, I was told to ice my feet and ankles. I ignored them, because "I've had long practices before" and "we weren't even jumping". By Day 3, I was sitting with a bucket of ice every night and looking forward to it. Get ahead of it! Prevent injury! Help your muscles recuperate!



Modesty is overrated. The first time you see people chilling without clothes, it will be weird. But the second? Meh. No one is looking at you. So take off your bra and towel the sweat off. You'll feel much better.

Be a whole person. If skating is your job, then you have to find something else to bring you joy. Host move nights. Be the one that always brings food. Start a new hobby. But make sure you have interests other than skating.

Pre-Set Leaving For The Night. Every night, we pre-set our costumes for quick changes. It only took me a month and a half, but I finally realized how the veterans get out so quickly at night: they pre-set leaving. So now, before the last show, I put my makeup away, lay out the clothes I'm changing into, fill my water bottle, and try to get things ready to go. It makes it much easier to deal with packing up while sweaty and tired when half of it is done.

Don't gossip. Don't give notes. I love talking. It's hard to keep my mouth shut. The people I see here who have accomplished the most in their skating careers don't bad mouth other skaters or choreographers or producers, don't give notes, don't blame, and our very selective about who they vent to.

Sleep In (Not Always). Since we're all in evening shows, I've been sleeping a lot. And enjoying it. But! Don't squander the opportunity for growth. This contract is pretty sweet in that the schedule is definitely not crazy. So, I've been trying to use my free time to get better at yoga, run and do pilates more often, journal, and find work for when this is done! Explore. Workout. Cook. Read. It's so much more fun to be busy.

You were hired because you deserve this. So focus on what you need to do. I have definitely found myself acting embarrassed while on practice ice because I was working on jumps that I can't land, and was worried other skaters were judging me. But, firstly, that's almost definitely all in my head and, secondly, who cares? We were hired for the same job. We all have different strengths. Working on hard things make you better. Don't avoid that just to look good.



Find moments to really appreciate what's happening. So, yes. It's the same show, twice a night. Some nights go better than others. But the last thing I want, is for this incredible opportunity, that I've dreamed of and worked towards for so long, to start to feel stale. This is the only advice on this list that is coming directly from me, and isn't something I've stolen from another cast member: find a spot to just be grateful. In our finale, the music starts to crescendo as we skate to our final poses, they start shooting off fireworks from the lake our stage is in front of (!!), and together we stop and start spinning before hitting our final pose. During that stop, I look straight up, really watch the fireworks, and really see the magic of the moment and what we're doing, and with all the stress lifted because the show is practically over, I think about how amazing it is that this is my job. This little moment feels very meditative. I recommend finding one for whatever your day-to-day is.

I am really loving it here! I've learned so much, and I actually felt at home fairly quickly. I want more of this in my future, that's for sure.

Thanks for reading! Be the grittiest.
xoxo Gillian