goals update (post-ILHC and back on schedule)

Weekly/Daily Goals

1. Running – Hah! I did get one run in last week, and another in today, but there was no running at ILHC. Big surprise? I think not.
2. 100 Push Up Challenge – Started! Week one, column two.
3. Read 20 mins/day – Happens most days, but certainly not every day. Busy schedule lately with ILHC and moving.
4. Minimize spending at restaurants – I only spent money at a restaurant once at ILHC! BOOM!
5. Blog on Schedule – Did anyone expect me to update during ILHC? Despite my best intentions? No? Good.

One Time Goals

1. Grad School – Working on it.
2. Pack and clean apartment – Boom. Working on it for serious. It doesn’t feel like I’m packed and ready to go yet, but I’ve made some serious progress. Moving on Saturday, I think!
3. Downsize life – As I’m packing, I’m throwing away, giving away, and selling. Anyone want a convection oven?

There will be a (long) post on ILHC on Friday, and probably a second post on Sunday. Most incredible experience…maybe ever.

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update on goals (also, I leave for ILHC in the morning!)

Wednesday updates on monthly goals. It’s a better week than last week, but that doesn’t mean I got more done.

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. Running – I did not run two times last week. I became exceedingly stressed (tears on a regular basis), and then I began to get sick (brought on by the excessive stress). However, I have run once already this week, and I plan on running again when I get to DC.
2. 100 Push Up Challenge – No progress. It hasn’t been on my mind, also due to stress. I will get on this when I’m back from DC.
3. Read 20 mins/day – I’m good most days. Some days I fall asleep on the bus, but I’m still making the effort!
4. Minimize spending at restaurants – good progress. I’ve only eaten out only twice in the last week and a half, and one of those meals was under $4. Win.
 5. Blog on Schedule — I missed one day last week entirely, and I was a little off on another post. Otherwise, great!

One Time Goals

1. Grad School – A bit of a refocus from what the goal started as. I had a really good meeting with a Career Counselor for Emory this week, and I’ve made a lot of progress on what I will be going to school for and how I need to go about contacting professors. I feel much more in control and competent, which is really what I needed.
2. Pack and clean apartment – A good amount of my stuff is packed and cleaned far before it needs to be. I need more boxes. I can’t pack everything, but I am working on packing as much as possible!
3. Downsize life – I made some tough decisions today when it came to clothing — I was hanging all my clean laundry, and I went through everything that didn’t end up in this last go-round of wash and decided whether I really needed it. I now have empty hangers. EMPTY HANGERS, PEOPLE. Also, I’ve now sold a bedside table, my microwave, and a hot plate. One papasan chair, a bunch of school supplies, a violin, and a convection oven, and an electrical heater to go.

A lot has been going on, and while some goals have suffered, I feel like this week is on a serious and definite up trend. Plans for the weekend: ILHC (BOOM! I leave in the morning and I am so excited!), running with Beth (another BOOM!), lots of reading, working on typing a manuscript for a friend, and miscellaneous work. Next week: grad school stuff, job hunting, running, and MOVING. I’m busy, but I’m excited!

Using my new suit case for the trip! Thanks Mom & Dad for the birthday present! It even fits all my shoes! (And trust me — I’m bringing three pairs, including a pair of running shoes…and I might add my heels!)  

interesting book covers

You know the phrase “Never judge a book by it’s cover?” Not true. Covers are often the first impression we have of a book — and first impressions are everything. They influence whether we pick the book up, whether or not we read the book, and even our initial opinion.

And let me tell you. There are some fantastic covers out there. If you didn’t know, I actually work at the Emory Libraries as a temp in the Stacks Division, which means I shelve more books in a daily basis than you can imagine. And the interesting book covers that I see? Sometimes, they’re just too great not to share.

There’s something absolutely fabulous about  plaid jacket, a wide belt, and a floppy hat. Nothing classier for a book cover.

Creeper goat is totally into your nightly romance.

Honest? It’s just a great illustration.

Can you find the pokeball? Gotta catch ’em all!

The best advice Morgan ever gave me for my make up was to never use blue eyeshadow. She said it would make me look like a prostitute. But now that I think about it, I kinda want to learn to do my make up from this chick. I also want all the sorority girls who make the “duck face” to know this is what they really look like.

 

We’ll let the book speak for itself with the best excerpt…ever:

Was I an egoless starfish?
No, my needs, my needs
Have always been needy.

goals update #2

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. Run 2x/week — 1.67 mi on Aug 8 at 9:51 min/mi, and 1.5 mi on Aug 12 at 8:53 min/mi. Huge difference in time I think is in large part due to how I was feeling that day, as well as the temperature outside and time of day. It was significantly hotter on Aug 8th. I haven’t yet been running this week, but I plan on going tomorrow and Saturday.
2. 100 pushup challenge — I have done the assessment, putting me in the second tier with seven good form pushups. At least, I hope they were good form. I was supposed to start the challenge yesterday, but it’s been a rough week. As such, I will start tomorrow.
3. Read 20mins/day — I’ve been slacking on this. I could make excuses about a lack of sleep and stress, but they’re all still excuses. The end.
4. Minimize $$ at Restaurants — I was really bad the first week, but I have sharply dropped off my spending this week with a total of less than $15 at restaurants. Win.
5. Blog on schedule — well, this post should have been written last night. But other than that, I’m doing well! (On the note of my blog, it’s gotten a lot of traffic recently due to being posted on Jerry Almonte’s facebook page — so hello, all of you dancers. I love you, and I’m glad you’ve found something you find interesting to read, but you might have noticed this isn’t a dance-focused blog. Enjoy looking around as long as you like!)

One Time Goals

1. Email professors — I have emailed them, but I have received no reply. Also, I have had a stressful few days when it comes to graduate school applications — so a lot of things might be changing soon. Trying to sort it all out.
2. Pack and clean apartment — the stress has actually helped on this front! I’ve spent a good amount of time packing, selling miscellaneous items on Emory Classifieds, and cleaning up a bit.
3. Downsize life — I have been picking things which I don’t need and selling them on Emory Classifieds. This has been successful (yay money!), but I may have been a little overenthusiastic — I already sold my stovetop burner and microwave, so my partial kitchen has been reduced to nearly no kitchen (I have a mini-fridge and a convection oven left!). I also have a clothes swap coming up on September 2nd (perfect timing), so I’m excited about cleaning out my closet!
Miscellaneous Notes:

1. Congratulations to Beth, who has a job! Like, a real one! I am jealous, but also super excited for her.
2. I may actually be attending ILHC! I did not think I would be able to go, but some things might be working out. We’ll see!
3. When I say this week has been stressful, I mean there have been a lot of tears and anger and frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. There’s a lot of advice being thrown at me, and very little “I totally have faith in your ability to do this.” As such, I have attached pictures of kitties.

This is how I feel:

kittie, kitten, cat, beat my head against a wall, frustrated, overwhelmedI could use some of this:

I would love a kitty. Just to give me some occasional loving. Please?

improving as an intermediate-advanced dancer

While I believe the following post can apply to all levels of dancing, I think it is particularly pertinent to intermediate-advanced and, by proxy, advanced dancers. More importantly, I think it’s something that a lot of int-adv dancers understand in concept, yet very few actually practice (including myself!).

I was watching A Word on Swing with Nina Gilkenson Pt.2, which is a great video project by Jerry Almonte and Bobby White to interview some fantastic people and see what they have to say about the lindy scene. Around 10:40, Nina starts talking about what it takes to improve as an int-adv dancer. Based on some personal goals and some recent discussions, this really hit home with me.

I find that many int-adv level dancers are complacent with their dancing. If you are truly happy where you are and only desire minimal additional improvement over the course of your dancing, then that’s fantastic. However, if you want to break into the “next level” of dancing, conscious self-improvement is necessary – no matter your level of dancing. For int-adv dancers, this can be a challenge: classes and privates are not necessarily the best way to improve any longer, and moving forward on your own can be both challenging and intimidating.

No One can Tell You how Your Body Moves

I believe that classes and private lessons can get you a long ways – particularly if you are an intermediate-level dancer on a budget who really wants to learn a few more variations and some basic yet challenging technique. However, if you are edging on intermediate-advanced and find yourself stagnating no matter how many classes and privates you take, you might want to consider taking a sabbatical from lessons to explore how your own body moves.

Let’s be honest – as Nina so concisely puts it, no one can tell you how your own body moves. The only way to figure that out is to find a room, a mirror, and a bit of free time (and maybe a dance partner, when applicable, of course). Spend some time trying a move, seeing how it works, and tweaking it until you like how it both looks and feels.

This does not mean imitating another dancer; in fact, Nina also points out that many of today’s dancers are often a Frankenstein-like-amalgamation of national and international level dancers – but that gets us nowhere new and interesting! Looking at videos of great dancers is a good starting point, but you should remember that your own body is quite different and may not ever make that really cool shape you admire in Peter Strom or Bobby White.

Exploring Your Own Body as a Vehicle for Improvement

So how do you explore your own body, you ask? It’s relatively easy, even if it’s sometimes a bit intimidating. I’ll tell you how I’ve been working on it, and you can at the very least start from there.

First, I started learning classic choreographies (and you’re in luck! There are some great instructional videos nowadays). Personally, I started with the Big Apple, moved on to a bit of the Gang Busters routine, and have recently been working on the Tranky Doo. Next, I plan on either learning Al and Leon’s Shim Sham or the Jive (links for all). You can also look at this great compilation of jazz moves.

Learning these choreographies teaches you basic jazz moves, but it also requires getting comfortable with those movements (rather than learning them once or twice in a solo movement class and moving on). The more comfortable you get, the more you can play with height, syncopation, and shape – and the more you play with varying the movements, the more comfortable you become with your own body.

Second, I’ve been working on my solo movement. It’s a direct correlation with the first step – if only because knowing all these great jazz moves would be worthless if I couldn’t put them together in my own way. You don’t have to be a solo jazz master (I certainly am not!) – but part of becoming comfortable with the movements is being able to mix it up and have fun. If you’re nervous about jamming with others at social dances, I suggest picking a beginner-heavy corner on a mid-tempo song and jamming out – just be ready to turn down a few people if they think you dancing by yourself means you want to dance with someone else.

Third, I’ve been working on my ability to lead. This does two things: first, it teaches me what I like in other follows, which teaches me about how connection works from the other end, how to play around as both a follow and a lead, and how my idea of the next move might completely differ from my follow’s idea of the next move (and that’s okay). Second, and more importantly, it teaches me how to view movement from a different angle. It’s teaching me a lot of body control, as well as a lot of forethought in dancing (not the same as anticipation), which I have often struggled with.

Conclusions

I’d love to see how other people make a conscious effort at improvement in their own dancing. What is your motivation behind it, and how do you go about doing it?

For example, I have a hard time solo dancing in a social setting because 1) I get self-conscious, and 2) I start watching everyone else and forget I should be doing my own thing, too. How do you combat this?

Is there anything else in particular that you work on as an intermediate-advanced dancer to facilitate self-improvement? Sometimes, it’s necessary to have a dance partner for the purposes of feedback – but sometimes, that’s just not possible. As such, I’m really interested in ways you work on self-improvement for social dancing 1) without a person there to bounce ideas off, and 2) without making all your social dancing a drag by focusing too much on practice.

best new lip product: Just Bitten Kissable Lip Balm

Summary:

I love Revlon’s new lip product, even if its name is a mouthful to say: “Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain.” Regardless, this is the lip stain which doesn’t dry out your lips and which lasts a reasonable amount of time. Great for people who don’t normally wear makeup, or for makeup lovers who need something easy and casual to keep in their purse in case of emergency.

For more, keep reading!

The Reason I Tried It:

I know that it doesn’t look like much. In fact, I thought it looked like the kind of makeup you pass over because it’s cheap, poorly made, and for gullible little girls who are fooled by pretty packaging and a huge picture of the beautiful Emma Stone. Who doesn’t want to look like Emma Stone? However, my friend Emma (also gorgeous, though not to be confused with Ms. Stone) gave me one to try in a deep red color called Adore (055) – and holy cow, it’s amazing.

The Product:

“Just Bitten Kissable” Balm Stains are a cross between a lip balm and a lip stain. This means (1) the balm does not dry out your lips like your average lip stain (including the Lipstain + Balm), and (2) the color stays long after the balm has worn away.

For the record, this product is not to be confused with “Just Bitten” Lipstain + Balm, which requires the separate application of the stain and then the balm, rather than together. In fact, the Lipstain + Balm version is terrible about drying your lips out. Just saying.

The best part is that the product is shaped like a giant crayon, which is incredibly natural to put on. The actual lip balm is very smooth, and it rolls between your lips quite easily. Very agreeable, as far as drug store lip products go!

My two favorite colors are Charm (035), a light peachy pink color which is great for daytime wear, and Adore (055), a deeper red color which is just a little dressy without going overboard.

The Cons:

I don’t like the name. It’s a mouthful to say. That’s about it. Plus, it’s easy to confuse with Revlon’s similar and less awesome product. And like I said, it looks like the cheap makeup you pass over because it doesn’t actually work — but you know what? It works, and it’s awesome.

The Reason You Should Buy It:

If you love makeup, this product is fantastic because it’s more casual and easier to apply than lipstick. It only comes in a few colors, but there are a couple good basics and a couple fun pops of color. I have two colors in my purse at all times – after all, they’re affordable (about $8), and they make for a great, simple product to keep in your purse for times of need (impromptu meeting, the sudden appearance of a cute boy, etc.).

On the other hand, if you’re not a huge makeup guru, this lip product is great – it’s affordable, it’s easy to apply (did I mention it’s a giant crayon?), and it comes in good, basic colors depending on what you need. This is great to add to your small, under-used makeup bag as that one lip product which you might actually use.

Go. Buy one now. You won’t regret it.

in other news, I (probably) lost my wallet

Weekly / Daily Goals

1. I have run once this week (so slowly…), and will run a second time tomorrow or Friday. 2. I completed the assessment and am in level two of tier one. I will start the actual challenge on Friday.
3. I have been falling asleep on the bus rather than reading.
4. I have spent too much money at Restaurants, but am stopping…now.
5. Success! Blogging on schedule (if late at night).

One Time Goals

1. I have not yet emailed professors — mostly due to the extreme discouragement I experienced, as explained in the last post. I have a better game plan now, I think, so we’re on track to email two people this weekend.
2. No need to pack yet.
3. Both forwards and backwards movement here — I have downsized things I already owned, but collected (useful?!) things from Shoe, who is leaving the country and expunging her life. The collected things include a dresser, wine glasses, utensils, storage units, and tupperware with locking lids. Oddly, I am most excited about the tupperware.

Other News

For all other news of interest, see the title. I’m not terribly upset — yes, there was cash, and yes, I will have to replace all my cards (the driver’s license is the biggest hassle) — but there’s nothing I can do about it now except move on. I will be searching my car one last time in the morning, and then moving on (and before you ask, there have been no charges to my cards — yet).

I am vaguely upset about losing three things: 1) some mementos (two photobooth photos, one card from a good friend) I keep next to my money so I can look at them when I’m happy / sad / nostalgic, 2) the actual wallet, which was adorable and the most useful wallet I’ve ever had, and 3) the earrings which were, for whatever reason, stored with my change.