Thursday, April 30, 2015

:: April 2015 ::

5 Epic Things That Happened This Month:

+Skating in Ice Chips with my team, and doing a solo in my club's annual spring skating show.

+Making more time for yoga. Granted, I'm still not doing as much as I want to be...but I'd been really missing it and it feels good to be doing a couple videos a week.

+Actually doing week-endy things. Remember how I said Deanna and I's new years resolution was to be mores social? Well, this month we really made it happen. Nothing big...but honestly, meeting up with people on the weekends just completely changes my attitude and makes the week so much better. We went shopping, got coffee, and just hung out! And it was lovely.

+Hitting the school home-stretch!

+Being able to sit on the porch, ditch the coat, and even drive with the windows down a few times!!

Last Month's Goals:

+Do yoga more consistently. Yeppers! Although I need to get in the habit of doing a sequence in the morning.

+Skate in Ice Chips and my club's spring show. Yes, and it was so much fun!

+Go shopping!!! This has been a goal since January, and I finally did it! Still a couple things I need but it was great to finally get some stuff.

+Land a double salchow. Not yet, but it might be getting closer.

+Do a forearm headstand without help. Not quite!

This Month's Goals:

+ Land a double salchow.

+ Land a double toe-loop.

+ Do a forearm headstand without help.

+ Finish my Brit lit and psychology class.

+ Leave the month in good shape with chemistry, economics, and french 2.

+ Focus on getting Junior MIF test-ready.

Look how long my bangs are!

On The Blog:

+ This month, we talked about Growing Pains, and why printed pants will change your life. Then, I re-capped the Northeast TOI Festival and my freshman year.

+Deanna and I completed a 30 Day Disney Challenge this month! It was a lot of fun going through the prompts each day. She posted about it over on her blog, and I participated on tumblr!

Recommended Reads:

+Beauty Is....A Choice by The Refined Woman.

+Good Mythical Morning. I am so late to the party on this but they are AMAZING. Oh my word, this.

Hope your April was full of warm friends and warm weather!
Here's to a May with nothin' but good vibes.
Happy Thursday! xoxo

cardigan // jc penny's, blouse // old navy, jeans // modcloth, heels // thrifted

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Freshman Year

Coming out of the 8th grade, I assumed freshman year would be no different than any other.

I happily ignored all the shouts of "Highschool will be the BEST four years of your LIFE." I also tuned out the long list of terrors everyone likes to list directly after. You know, things like failing grades. Bad haircuts. Stupid crushes. Ridiculous amounts of insecurity, awkwardness, stress, and anxiety.

I mean, seriously. This was me. I was smart, organized, and motivated. I'd already completed three whole high school level courses. What could freshman year possibly throw at me that I couldn't handle? I mean, it's not like I was awkward or anything. Or had a bad haircut. Ahem.

(Also, that choker? I wore it all. the. time. I wore it so much, that a guy who was in my lit class freshman year came through my line at work a couple of months ago, and after we figured out how we new each other, he said, "choker necklace, right?" Ugggh. You know it's bad when....).

Going in, I had (as usual) a clear vision of what a successful year would look like. And like usual, freshman year was not remotely similar to that.

We were out straight every single day of the week. With so much to do, my Mum, brother, and I took on the viewpoint of Conquering the World. Dramatic, I know, but that's what it really felt like. In our heads, the world was out to get us and squish us under too much to do. But we would show them! Together, we fought against magnificent odds to stay sane, stay happy, and somehow still get school done.

Jokes made in Latin while doing translation during Breakfast? Favorite part of my morning!

Planning future 4-H meetings in the car? I'll take notes!
A fashion show/awards ceremony/presentation day at the fair: Me, Deanna, Emily, Bailey, Lynn.
The three of us spent an awful lot of time together that year, between classes AJ and I were taking together and drive-time. And we did really well with staying on top of things, honestly, despite how busy we were. But there was one evil that got the best of us every time. Even though we had to face it weekly, we never learned. Eventually, we gave up fighting, and simply prayed for mercy and freedom. It's name? Co-op.

For those of you who don't know, co-ops are homeschool groups that meet together once a week to share teaching responsibilities. One mom might teach a math class to all the kids in a certain grade level, say, while someone else's mom (or dad) teaches language or science. There's usually fun things, too, like field trips, games, and special days, and work as a great way to build a community of homeschoolers. For the record, I'm not bashing co-ops. They work for a lot of people. This one, however, did not work for us. We hated it with a passion I have not felt since. Thursday became synonymous with Black Day of Death.

We hated having to hang out in the cold, damp, church basement all day. We hated the fact that the only chairs were metal, and loud, and freezing to sit on. We hated that we had to pack lunch (my family has a thing against packed lunches). We hated having to sit through a morning 'worship' that was so Biblically inaccurate we would rant about it for the next week. We hated the fact that no one said hello (I'm not even being dramatic here. They completely ignored us), and that not a single family noticed when we skipped one day. We hated the classes that were more busy-work than helpful.

Squinting in the sun at National 4-H Conference!
Again! Not bashing co-ops in general. But honestly, I have never felt more alone, or misunderstood, or unwanted than I did every Thursday freshman year. We'd get home and be so mentally exhausted, that I would plop myself on the couch and binge on Netflix for an obscene amount of time. That year, I watched through every Dick Van Dyke Show, Say Yes To The Dress, and Toddlers and Tiaras (see how my taste went down hill?) available to me. I even got desperate and started watching Bridezillas.

Lest you think I was an unwanted, Netflix-watching slug all year, I'd like to point out that I was a completely different person when I was around 4-H. The year before, the county had decided to cut funding for our beloved 4-H program, effectively shutting it down. I mean, with no money, how could it continue? We needed supplies, and staff, and events, and paperwork....

Luckily, though, most 4-H people aren't pushed aside that easily. While we lost a lot of members who started participating in other counties for the convenience factor, a core group quickly emerged that stayed dedicated to our county and worked hard to keep 4-H available. Led by an amazing retired Extension Educator, Lynn, who worked as a full-time volunteer, we managed to pull off a complete year with zero funding and zero staff.

While this was going on, Deanna and I were in the prime of our 4-H lives. Old enough to qualify for everything, but just young enough to not be distracted by non-4-H things, we worked our butts of for the county. Multiple times a week that year, we headed out with Lynn to talk to commissioners, reporters, anyone that would listen. We developed different campaigns to spread the word, and created award-winning displays. We served on the county council. We even beat our fear of phones and cold-called people to talk 4-H.
Sewing project from freshman year; probably one of my favorites.
While this was happening, we didn't loose focus on our personal 4-H projects. And because we were the county-almost-gone-under, our projects held even more special meaning. We worked hard to stand out at State level events, because to be recognized would only help prove how worthy 4-H was of county funding. Honestly, it was a beautiful thing. Kids from other counties who heard about our problems would come up to us and say how sorry they were. That they couldn't imagine their lives without 4-H, and that they were so proud that we were working so hard to get it back. As a county, or, at least, Deanna and I, we really believed in our projects. Okay, so maybe we didn't believe that our Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes would get the funding back. But doing our absolute best to represent 4-H well would, and we had passion behind our every move.

This is easily my happiest story of Freshman year. While it was not resolved right away, we did make great progress that year. And as a county, we grew. For the National trips, two out out of five spots for National 4-H Congress were filled by our county 4-Hers that year, and two out of the three spots for National 4-H Conference. Those two spots belonged to Deanna and I, and we had a blast.

The conference was held in DC in March 2012, and while considered a working conference, we squeezed in plenty of fun. We spent 6-8 hours each day working in round-table groups, preparing presentations that we would give to different government bodies. The rest of the time, we were usually in leadership workshops. But meals and nights were free for us, and we used our time well. Over the five days, we learned too many Celtic Women songs, scared ourselves so badly with ghost stories that we ended up dead bolting the door, and discovered that it takes me 4 hours to eat a slice of pizza. We stayed up till 3 in the morning, then stumbled out of bed at 6 to do it all again.
Chandler and I
It was on this trip that I met my Kentucky friend, Chandler. We were in the same roundtable group, and the three of us started hanging out after. One night, we were talking about different stereotypes about where we lived, and Deanna and I asked him if he knew what boiled dinner was. He didn't, and was thoroughly confused when we explained that it was boiled meat, and veggies, but not really soup, because you just eat each thing separately on a plate. We laughed, and then, in complete seriousness, he asked, "have you guys had fried chicken before?". Yes, yes we have, Chandler.

After our mums picked us up at the airport, we requested a stop at Wendy's before heading home. It was the perfect way to procrastinate parting: because why should Deanna and I ever be forced apart, when we were so good at taking care of each other?

Because apparently 4-H was not fulfilling enough for me, that same year my brother and I were in a musical, State Fair. I had so, so much fun dressing up and putting on a show with lots of great people. I loved the singing and loved the dancing. The only part I didn't like was, you know, the actual play part. I felt so terribly self-conscious up on stage, being expected to act. I had no idea what to do. So, I pretty much was the noticeably uncomfortable person always drifting to the back. Not that you can tell from the photos, or anything.

This one's from my big scene. You can tell by how absolutely thrilled I look. I chose to channel that Seinfeld episode, the one where the woman never moves her arms. It really allowed me to give my character a quirky, individual personality. I know, I know, genius.

Regardless of how I felt on stage, though, I really moped when State Fair was over. A lot like with 4-H, I got really energized simply by working to put something together with other people. I really, really love working with that kind of stuff. I think souls do more bonding during work than any other time, really. And to suddenly not have those crazy kids in my life three times a week? It left a big whole.

Okay, I've made it this far and not mentioned skating once. Crazy, right? Well, it's because my skating was in a really weird place that year. It was about this time that I decided I wanted to pursue theater on ice. At the time, that literally meant Disney on Ice to me. But With all the crazy busyness of other time took a back burner. And I felt terribly guilty about it. In many ways, freshman year was the year that I had to mentally re-commit to pursuing skating with all of myself. I left the year with a firmer knowledge that skating was what I truly wanted, and a resolution to not allow it to be shirked so easily.

Freshman year was so many firsts. If I could describe it in one phrase, it would be 'doing things before you're ready'. I was so busy, flying from one thought and subject and activity to the next, that I had no time to over-analyze. The only option was to sit down and do the work, and attempt to put a smile on your face through the process. Looking back I think I was crazy to undertake so much, and I've actively tried to take on less each year since. But, I really wouldn't trade that year for anything. If I had had time to think, I probably never would have accomplished as much as I did. Within the space of that year, I underwent so much growth. I left as a different person. And I'm the better for it.

A ridiculous movie made with the cousins.

This post is already a novel, and there's so much more I want to say. I'll attempt to sum it up, anyways.

My Takeaways From Freshman Year:

+Do things before you are ready. Don't stop to overthink.

+You will form the strongest friendships when you are working passionately towards a common goal. Something special happens when people come together to create, make, and do. Never waste an opportunity to pursue that.

+Family is not limited by blood. Freshman year resulted in relationships that, really, are more family to me than some blood relatives. Deanna and Lynn, especially, come to mind. I am so blessed to have people like that in my life.

+Speaking of family, work with your parents as a team. Because if there's one 'grown up thing' I've finally learned, it's that parents have problems, too. Who knew?!

+While you shouldn't overthink, do take time to evaluate. At the end of the year, I looked back and realized what I liked and didn't like. That led me to a slightly more focused Sophomore year, a focused Junior year, and a super-focused Senior year. Listen to yourself, and don't be afraid to pursue a passion, even if it means narrowing interests.

+Finally: always trust yourself. Know your worth. You're more capable than you think. While I was accomplishing big things freshman year, I still felt small and lost, and struggle with a lot of insecurities. Doubting yourself comes naturally, unfortunately. If there's one thing I would tell my freshman self, it would be to breath and realize that I had something important to contribute, and that I could do what needed to be done. Be willing to bet on yourself. Simple as that.

What are your memories of freshman year? 
What takeaways do you want to pass on to others?

Happy weekend! xoxo

This is the first in a  series summing up my four years of high school. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Printed Pants Will Change Your Life

1.) They will teach you that print matching is a million times easier than you ever expected. It will also teach you that Fashion Bloggers have no right to talk about it as much as they do--it's not really a big deal.

2.) You'll have the comfort of pulling on jeans and a sweater 5 minutes before leaving the house, but everyone else will think you made a big effort, because OH MY WORD SHE'S NOT WEARING NORMAL DENIM.

3.) You'll get 4-season wear out of these babies. And we all know that's a huge bonus.

4.) You will use them to make great steps towards the social acceptability of talking pants in public. For some reason, whenever I truly love someone's pants, and I say, "Oh my! Those pants!" I get nothing but strange looks. I could say that exact same thing about a top, or a jacket, or shoes, and not be looked at like a witch at the local drowning, but for some reason saying you love someone's pants is not socially correct. If that's not inequality, I don't know what is. But while wearing printed pants, someone will inevitably say "I love those pants!", which makes great strides (strides! legs! pants! get it??!! hahaha....) for our cause. High fives for clothing compliment equality!

{Doing It All}

5.) They'll match literally everything. Green? Pink? Plaid? Another floral? Why not?!

6.)You'll feel like the most adorable six year old on the planet. Skipping around in these pants and ballet flats make me feel girly, silly, and obnoxiously cute. These are the grown up version of all those polka-dot leggings we used to wear.

7.) While the above is 100% true, these pants also send out major put-together vibes. I mean, you're a young woman so in control of her life that you can wear pants with flowers on them. Absolute genius.

{February 2015}
8. You'll make someone's day. Laugh all you want, but I know my day is made when someone walks in looking particularly cute. And there is some intelligent thought behind this. (1) That person has beat procrastination, laziness, and grumpiness because they got out of bed and pulled on something that makes them happy, (2) they've pulled on something outside of the norm (let's be honest...we seldom call someone's jeans + sweatshirt 'cute'), and (3) they're being themselves.

Because here's the thing about printed pants, and every other awesome article of clothing you own: wear it. Love it. Rock it. Because style isn't about clothes, it's about knowing yourself enough to express it through clothes. And that, ladies, will change your life.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Northeast TOI Festival Recap & TOI Explanation

Goofing around with my friend and team-mate, Katie! Also, TOI Festival sweatshirts!
On the last weekend in March, we drove up to Burlington, VT, for Northeast Theater on Ice Festival! I know I've mentioned Theater on Ice a lot on the blog this year...but seeing it's one of the lesser-known aspects of figure skating, I thought this would be a really good opportunity to explain it a bit more!

Simply put: theater on ice is essentially competitive Disney on Ice. We compete with two programs: the Choreographic Exercise, or CE (short program) and the Freeskate (long program). There are teams for every level of skating, and it's recognized nationally by USFSA. There are also international competitions US TOI participates in, although in Europe it's called Ballet on Ice.

Theater on Ice has two distinct styles. The first is very Americanized TOI, and it focuses on props, costumes, and a well defined storyline (think Disney on Ice). The more Americanized version is very theatrical and usually humorous. Then there's the European style, which is a lot more abstract. Rather than telling a defined story, it generally deals with themes. As the US competes more internationally, some teams are focusing more on an abstract-style, while others still embrace the more theatrical American side.

The CE is skated first, and has much tighter rules than the Freeskate. Teams must wear all black, with minimum hair and makeup, and use no props. Each year, there are guidelines put out that describe what to choreograph into the CE. For instance, this year one of the elements is a form of 20th century dance. We also have to include cannon movement, which is skaters doing a similar movement one after the other (like how you sing 'Row Row Row Your Boat' in a round...only with movement). The last element is percussive (fast, sharp) movements.

The freeskate, or long program, has virtually limitless possibilities. Unlike the CE, there are pretty much no restrictions or're allowed free use of costumes, props, and choreography! Everyone on our team loves our Freeskate. :)

So at Northeast TOI Festival, we had a critique. Basically, you skate each routine exactly like you would in competition, and the judges meet with the coaches to discuss any changes that need to be made before competition. Luckily, we worked really hard beforehand and had a very smooth critique! One of our best skates ever, and the judges were very pleased with it. :)

It ended up being a 12+hour day at the rink, but that meant lots of time for team bonding! With only a few bumps, it was a great weekend with great people!

A few highlights:

-Creepily walking back and forth throughout the entire hotel with Katie.
-Getting bagels with Katie for breakfast before the critique.
-Cheering on other TOI Boston teams and being obnoxiously loud about it.
-Getting to be in costume with an audience and have an EPIC skate.
-Down time chilling outside of the locker-room when it got a bit loud (with Katie!).
-Stopping for Ben & Jerry's on the way home! Definitely recommend The Tonight Dough.

Happy Weekend! xoxo

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Growing Pains

Whenever people talk about growth, I always envision the end product.

The final moment, when you can see how much you improved. The shiny 'before and after' shots. The day when your workout actually doesn't kill you. Or when you throw together an essay and get a really good grade without thinking much about it.

But here's what I've realized: that definition of growth has set me up for failure.

It's led me to believe that I'm not growing, because I don't have those shiny moments very often. But the problem isn't me not growing. The problem is I'm not recognizing what growth actually looks like.

The actual definition of growth isn't very comfortable. And it certainly isn't shiny. Growth is pain, or at least sore muscles. It's found in your day-to-day, not just the days of the Big Test or the Big Show. Other people see your growth when you're having conversation with your best friends...not when you're presenting or polishing a perfect post.

Yesterday, I yelled and cried a lot because I was feeling overwhelmed. The past few weeks have been crazy...and they're going to stay crazy for a while longer. I was feeling overwhelmed because I haven't been getting my hours at work 'right (either waaaayy too no time for other stuff...or way too few....and no money...), there's been ice time issues, I'm behind in my French class, and really struggling with some other classes. On top of it, I have a cold, which makes everything un-enjoyable.

But behind all the overwhelm, the deeper issue is that I so often feel inadequate. Like I'm not doing good enough at anything. I believe that the only reason I'm not exactly where I want to be, is that I'm not working hard enough or trying hard enough.

It's like when I switched to from group skating lessons to private lessons when I was 13. For a couple years after, I felt so inadequate every time I practiced. I was a bit of a late-bloomer to the private-lesson world, and while I don't regret anything about how I've pursued skating, it definitely made some things harder. I wanted so badly to be good, but I knew I wasn't. It didn't really help that my coach had one amazing skater about my age who was just ridiculously good (nothing against her. I've never met anyone kinder or harder working), but it was hard footsteps to follow. I felt so frustrated and insecure every after every practice. Now, don't get me wrong...I loved skating. But it was because I loved it, and wanted it so bad, that I felt so terrible when I couldn't deliver.

At the time, I couldn't see improvement. But looking back, I really was working hard and growing. My footwork--previously non-existent--became fairly solid. My jumps got really high. I learned so, so many new spins. I started doing real routines. I tested. And, after awhile, I gained confidence in my own skating. I started to feel strong and powerful on the ice. And I laid the groundwork for where skating has brought me today.

The thing is, we're usually the last to fully understand what we're doing. I know I never realize when I'm out straight. Where others see us putting a lot on our plates, we see unfinished to-do lists. Where others see us trying our best and getting back up, we see ourselves falling again.

But we (myself included!) need to give ourselves a break. I've been so upset thinking I'm not doing enough or being enough. But the thing is, I'm not always going to feel perfectly confident or comfortable. The point is to keep going, keep smiling, keep the faith. Because growing pains are a part of life. And eventually, they fade. :)

Happy Weekend! And Happy Easter! xoxo

PS-Unrelated, but I've been joining Deanna for a 30 Day Disney Challenge! She's posting every day over on her blog, and I'm joining in on tumblr! Check it out! :)