Monday, November 30, 2009
The film is called Our Deepest Fear, narrated by Marrianne Williamson. Below the video are the words that she speaks. Please watch and enjoy.
"What holds us back in our lives, is our fear. And sometimes when you take a very close look you find out that your fears aren't exactly what you thought they were. Our deepest fear, is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It's our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. But actually, who are you NOT to be?! You, are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are ALL meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us, it's in ALL of us. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. So it's Holy work, to move past your own fear. It does not just help you, it helps the world."
Saturday, November 28, 2009
All avid book lovers enjoy receiving books as gifts. Books have been at the top of my list from childhood, and I've treasured them all. But if you're looking for something more unique yet still book related, here's a list of great gifts to give this holiday season that every avid reader is sure to love.
1. Membership to a Bookstore - Many bookstores have annual memberships for a small fee or sometimes, free. In return, they provide receive weekly coupons and updates on many features only members receive. Gift cards also are always welcome.
2. Bookshelf/Bookcase - This is an awesome gift and perhaps not the most obvious either. However, every book collector requires a bookshelf! Target, Office Depot, hardware stores, department stores, even bookstores themselves carry bookcases.
3. Booklight - This sounds like such a minor gift and something so small that it will go overlooked but let me assure you, being an avid reader myself, a booklight is a great gift! It comes in handy when reading in bed, especially. Does the book obsessed friend you know travel a lot? The booklight provides a solution for those long airplane rides when everyone is sleeping and doesn't want the light on, shining in their face.
4. Bookends - This is a simple gift but can add flair and attitude to any ordinary bookshelf or mantle. Typically, book collectors love to showcase their collection and bookends help to add attention to their prized collection. In any store that provides home decor and accessories, you'll find a number of bookends that are very decorative or on the simpler side - depending on the type of gift you're going for.
5. Book Journal - What's a book journal, you ask? Well, many book lovers have read so many books they start to lose track of the ones they've read. I'm definitely at fault for this. Why not provide a solution? Book journals can be found almost anywhere. I've seen a number of book journals that are set-up like address books so you can enter in a title, author, your personal rating, and a short blurb reminding you what the book was about.
6. Books on Tape - Almost every bookseller has these for a reasonable price. More popular books may be a bit more on the expensive side but for the most part, I've seen a lot of books average to $20 - $30 a book. This is a great gift for people who travel in their car a lot and it provides a nice variation to always reading. It's nice to be read to once in a while.
7. Boxed Book Sets - Although boxed book sets are technically books, boxed sets are just a bit more luxurious than a single book on its own. Boxed sets are usually more expensive because they are in hardcover (this is not always the case however - just normally). However, boxed book sets can overlap another hobby or interest your friend may have. Perhaps they are really into movies as well, so you can get them a boxed set of a book turned movie. Also, special editions for books are a great gift as well. Many remain as coffee table books which is even better because they turn into a conversation piece and are sure to attract a lot of attention.
8. Magazine Subscription - Chances are if your friend or family members likes to read, they enjoy reading almost anything. Magazines are the next tier of the book lover's obsession. Barnes and Nobles provides an interesting gift where they put together a number of magazine subscriptions that you can buy and then your friend choose their own magazine they'd like to have a subscription to. It's a win win situation because the gift is very affordable and will turn out to be a great hit for your friend as well since they get to choose whatever they'd like. If you'd rather choose a specific magazine, that's a great idea too because the holidays always have a number of great deals so you're guaranteed to run across a bargain.
9. Tote Bag - All readers should have one. The great thing about tote bags is that they are so versatile and provide a solution to carry a slew of items, whatever the reason may be. Bookstores usually sell their own brand of tote bags but if you search online, tote bags can be found anywhere. If you're looking to customize a tote bag, that's even better because pretty much anywhere and everywhere you look online, you're able to find someone that is able to customize a tote bag for you. They're usually very inexpensive as well. This is a great gift that can have a new book tucked away inside to make it extra special.
10. Miscellaneous Book Items - You can pretty much get anything related to books and authors, more specifically. For example, there are many different stationary and journals you can buy from bookstores and online that have pictures of a specific author on them, literary quotes listed on bookmarks, calendars, literary mugs and more.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I was reading the article on this subject and decided to post the 10 paradoxes here along with my personal thoughts. Psychology Today: Psychology of Creative People
1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest. - I am full of energy, but need time to myself to recharge and rewind. I'd say that I have a great deal of mental energy, which can be as draining as physical.
2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time. - I was fortunate to be smart in school, but dancing has helped me to become people-smart. I tend to be very imaginative, and because I was always a big dreamer, I guess that I appeared naive to many people, who didn't think my ideas were practical.
3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. - To me, both balance the other. - I explore, or "play" with ideas and think outside the box, but I also use responsibility in how I develop these ideas so that they make some form of sense.
4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. - Imagination is great, but you have to analyze ideas, test them in order to make them a reality.
5. Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted. - I enjoy performing and relating to others. But I also crave some private time alone.
6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. - I'm proud of my ideas, of what I accomplish, what I believe in. But I am humbled whenever I see other artists, admire other's work more than my own and always strive to improve myself.
7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.
8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative. - I know many people who don't follow the norm, myself included, preferring to experiment with new ideas and ways of doing things. Yet, we are conservative in also loving tradition, especially in the world of ballet.
9. Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well. - I always tend to think that any choreography enough. I tend to look at it objectively in that sense, asking for imput from other people.
10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. - There is always rejection and physical pain involved with what I do, yet I have always loved doing it. I believe that this love must be there no matter what you do or else you will end up unhappy and discontented, which is worse.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Although ballroom dancing and competition has long enjoyed popularity in many countries including England, Japan, Australia, and Russia, outside of the occasional foreign or small budget film, think "Strictly Ballroom, it has not enjoyed the same prevalence in the U.S. Happily, that has all changed.
Where there used to be one or two long-enduring, dusty chain dance studios, now we have those same studios suddenly revitalized plus a plethora of new, independent studios and community sponsored classes offering various types of ballroom dance instruction. You too, may wish to join the newly swelling ranks of ballroom dancers.
Ballroom dancing can appeal to people for a number of reasons. Many dancers practice ballroom primarily for the exercise that it offers and, make no mistake, it can provide a very intense workout depending upon your physical abilities. The nice thing about using ballroom for this purpose is that your workout can shift to fit your fitness level. You may need to start out gradually if you are easily winded during the more energetic dances, restricting yourself to using less arm movement, concentrating on the slower dances, or just simply dancing to music with a slower tempo. But through regular practice, you will quickly work your way up to the heart-pounding, muscle-building results that can be achieved through an hour of say, swing dancing or really good tango.
Another reason that people choose to learn ballroom is for the social interaction. Studios themselves often offer a small dance community to belong to, frequent dances to attend and periodic dance-oriented events. Many friendships have been formed during group dance lessons. Ballroom can likewise be attractive to couples looking for more bonding time or a hobby that they can enjoy together that builds teamwork and intimacy.
Ballroom is also an engaging outlet for creative people looking for a new form of artistic expression. Especially if you eventually engage in either competition or exhibition, the opportunity for creativity just does not stop and goes well beyond your dancing style and choreography, you can also express yourself in the music that you select, your costumes and your interpretation of the dance.
Finally, ballroom dancing can be competitive it you want it to be. For those that thrive on the thrill of competition and want a sport that will inspire them to work consistently to get better and to stretch their abilities, this can be it.
Yes, ballroom is a sport. There is an International DanceSport Federation (IDSF) and 57 National Olympic Committees including the United States have recognized DanceSport.
COMMON BALLROOM DANCES
Let's look at a few of the most common Ballroom Dances:
All ballroom dances except for Tango are executed by stepping with the ball of the foot. The Tango is danced by stepping with the heel of the foot.
The Foxtrot is a slow dance in 2/4 or 4/4 timing. It can be danced to many popular dance numbers, such as the songs by Frank Sinatra and big band sounds. It can also be danced to a faster rhythm such as old-fashioned World War II Swing rhythms. It is a very easy dance to learn.
The Waltz is also a slow dance but totally different than the Foxtrot. Although the Waltz looks easy, it is probably the hardest to learn and execute with extreme precision. It must appear totally smooth and elegant. It is danced in 3/3 timing and there is an extreme emphasis of balancing on the balls of the foot for both male and female.
The Swing Dance has always been a popular Ballroom Dance, with many variations and names. It has been variously named Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, East Coast Swing, and West Coast Swing. It is a lively, fast dance and can be executed with many different step and movement variations. Usually the historical era dictates the type of swing dance performed. Such as during World War II, swing dance was very physical with partners throwing each other over their shoulders and under their legs. This type of physical Swing Dance is coming back in style.
The Latin Ballroom Dances
All Latin dances are executed using Cuban rhythm. This means that before one can truly dance any Latin dance they must learn Cuban rhythm. Cuban rhythm has to do with how you put your weight on your feet. In Cuban rhythm you step without puttinng weight on your feet. This is not easy to do. It takes a lot of practice. Many people think Latin dance is just about moving your hips like a belly dancer. This is incorrect. Belly Dancers move their feet exactly opposite of Latin Dancers. They put weight on the foot they step on. Belly Dance is a very earthy dance, but Latin dance is smooth and the hip movement comes naturally when not putting weight on the foot you are stepping with.
All of the following dances use Cuban rhythm.
The Cha Cha is a popular Latin Dance that originated in the fifties. The timing is Cha Cha 1, 2, 3 or 4 and one, two, three. Many popular dance numbers have the Cha Cha beat. It is usually danced to a fast, lively Latin tempo.
The Mambo is a dramatic Ballroom Dance. The movements are highly emphasized. The timing is 2/4 or 4/4 with a break, hold, or emphasis on the second or fourth beat.
The Paso Doble is a very elite Spanish Dance that originated out of the Spanish Bullfights. It depicts the Bullfighter and his cape. In this dance, the male dancer is the bullfighter, and the female dancer is his cape. The costumes for Paso Doble are usually very Spanish and ornamental and likened to the Bullfighter's costume. This concept is best illustrated by the Ice Dancing duo, Torvill and Dean, shown below in their victorious Paso Doble Original Dance from the 1984 European Championships. A truly stunning routine which captures the essence of what ballroom Paso Doble should be.
There are many variations of the Tango such as the Argentine Tango and the French Apache. The Tango is called the "Dance of Love." It is the only Ballroom Dance that is executed using the heel of the foot rather than the ball of the foot.
The Tango is also a dramatic dance where not only the feet make steps, but the eyes, smile, and body play a part in the tone of the dance. The partners frequently look into each others eyes and then look away for dramatic effects.
The Rumba is a slow dance with a 4/4 Latin rhythm. Cuban rhythm is emphasized and it is danced smoothly. It is similar to the Bolero, but the difference is that the Bolero emphasizes upper torso movements mostly in the shoulders. The rhythm and timing are the same. Both the Rumba and the Bolero are danced to slow romantic Latin numbers.
So, now that you may be interested in ballroom dancing, where do you go to take classes? The Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire studios are the best, but there are many other ballroom dance studios out there that are also good.
There are the single class offerings put on by community centers, gyms, nightclubs and other organizations. Some of these are very inexpensive or, in the case of the nightclubs, free! These classes may not teach you the same formal steps and will certainly not teach you as extensively, but they can be great fun and wonderful exercise. These are also good choices if you really just want to be able to go out and look respectable on the floor at a salsa or swing club.
Whatever your goals, ballroom has something to offer for everyone. So have fun, compete and learn a new dance style today!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
It seems to me the saddest thing,
that we're caught in some disjointed mystery,
when I take a serious look
at what is going on around me.
Oh! The times we live in...
What we're writing for posterity!
It seems to me, it's not at all
the way it ought to be.
These paradoxes of our lives,
I view with near righteous indignation...
But we've all done our part to write
our times eulogy of degradation.
We have a lot more knowledge
but a whole lot less wise judgment,
Our accomplishments reach astounding heights
but our values are in the basement.
Wants readily outweigh our needs,
We're spending more, enjoying it less.
We don't appreciate the things we have
and find no real happiness.
We know how to make a living
but not how to live our life.
Instead we stress out to the max,
feeling far too much strife.
We can conquer seas and mountains
and even conquer outer space
but we don't have a clue what we should do
when it comes to the human race.
We scoff, rebel and degradate
that which we don't understand.
Yet we've never learned to really love
our neighbor, our fellow man.
We don't appreciate our differences
nor respect another's view
yet we expect that others
ought to agree with me or you
And when they don't, we get offended
and think that they are fools;
We've all but forgotten
all about the "Golden Rule".
We have too much pride in having more,
we point fingers and we gloat,
We preach on other's worldly wrongs
but won't remove our own mote
in our own eye and sadly
we refuse to believe
that others might be just as good
and right as you or me.
We hate too much, we talk too much,
we have narrow visions and wider roads,
We tell others how to live their life
but can't carry our own load.
It seems we have less wellness
yet a whole lot more problems
and for all our many 'experts'
we are not able to solve them.
We have shorter tempers, taller visions,
bigger dreams and less ambition...
Such sad paradoxes
of modern life's condition.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2009 is Veterans Day. In the United States of America, we have many freedoms. Some of these aren't often thought about, sadly. However, since our nation came into existence, brave men and women have fought and died to guarantee those freedoms.
Many thousands have fought and died on foreign soil, and are buried there, to extend the same possibilities to people of other countries. Quite a number more have been killed while performing humanitarian aid, again helping others unselfishly.
It goes far beyond this, though. Time, effort, equipment, toil, tears, and sacrifice have all gone into making this a great nation, and the engine that drives this is our military men and women. Not all have perished in combat. However, none have been useless positions without purpose. Each and every one has contributed to the whole.
It is hard to imagine any part of our daily lives that aren't in some way impacted by the efforts, sacrifices, and sometimes lives of our military personnel. Most spend lonely months or years away from their loved ones to do the task. Many return maimed.
Yet, without all they have done and continue to do, we wouldn't have the right to believe what we want to believe, the right to work in the professions we choose, the right to hold lawful assemblies, or even the right to complain if we so desire.
We wouldn't have the opportunities to live where we choose, to purchase our own homes and land, and we would not have the incentive to become better every day in every way.
A meaningless existence is what we'd be left with. Others would dictate what we could say and do, when we could say and do them. We would be told what to think, how to live; and if we did well, it could be taken away and given to someone else who probably did nothing to earn it.
Veterans Day differs from some of the other special holidays. The Department of Veterans Affairs has found that many people have difficulty recognizing the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They are distinct for many reasons, but the most significant is that Veterans Day specifically honors our nation's living veterans-those among us, people we interact with, who have served in the Armed Forces. Memorial Day is primarily to honor the dead, especially those who died in service to their country. Armed Forces day, the third Saturday in May, is to honor the five armed military branches and all those on active duty. While every person on active duty is, by definition, a veteran, Armed Forces Day honors them specifically for their current service. Veterans Day is more specifically oriented toward those who served in the past, whether active duty or guard and reserve, peacetime or wartime, stateside or overseas. It is also worth noting, as John Milton wrote, "They also serve who only stand and wait."
Veterans Day developed out of Armistice Day, which was an event at the end of World War I, known at the time as "The Great War." The "armistice," or end of hostilities (stop shooting), began in 1918 at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The war actually ended, by treaty, on June 28, 1919. In November of 1919 Pres. Woodrow Wilson declared a commemoration of the Armistice with the idea that people should pause at 11:00 am. on November 11 and reflect on the losses of the war. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution for commemoration ceremonies on that day. In 1938, the Congress enacted a Public Law making Armistice Day a legal holiday that celebrated "world peace." By 1954 a grass roots movement developed to have the holiday honor all veterans of all the wars and the term "armistice" was replaced with "veterans."
Each veteran, in his or her own way, is a living testament to some aspects of the ways in which our Armed Forces support and defend the Constitution. All who have served are part of the fabric of our national commitment to freedom and liberty for all US citizens. In recent years, both Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Barack H. Obama have made similar comments about their specific interactions with active duty, reserve, and national guard military personnel. Both presidents were deeply, emotionally moved by the incredible sense of duty to the nation that they saw, heard, and felt in the presence of the people they command.
Why is Veteran's Day important? Because, without all they have done, there wouldn't be a USA as we know it. It is with supreme gratitude that I remember all of them on this day, past and present. This is a day for all veterans. Be proud of them when you see them, and be prouder if you know them.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” Helen Keller
What makes feeling sorry for yourself so insidious is that it is a sign of both unhappiness and the fact that the misery will continue. How does one become trapped in a morass of self-pity? It begins with self-doubt. When we fail to believe in ourselves, we fail to reach our potential, in school, at work, in life. And by not reaching the success we deserve, we experience the psychological pain of regret, shame, and guilt. Now, what would you do if you accidentally touched a hot stove? Wouldn’t you pull your hand away? We automatically flee from or avoid pain. The same is true with psychological pain.
It may be too painful to admit I am not as successful or happy as I would like to be because I have either done the wrong things or haven’t done the right things. So, rather than feel that pain, I cover it up by denying responsibility and assigning blame for my misery to the outside world.
So, how do we get rid of self-pity and get on with the rest of our lives? Of course, we never know what is going on in the minds of others. What you see as self-pity could in fact be legitimate feelings due to grief, clinical depression, or a major illness. But speaking in general, we all experience self-pity at one time or another. I've found the following suggestions very helpful in dealing with my own bouts of self-pity.
1. Rather than run from the pain that’s troubling you, face it and use it as a catalyst for change. Use your misery as motivation for self-improvement. Find out what you are doing wrong and correct your behavior.
2. Don’t add to your suffering by comparing yourself to others. Life is not a competition; it is a garden. Every flower (person) is different but beautiful in it’s own way.
3. Stop being demanding. Stop believing the world was created to serve you. The truth is, you were created to serve it. It doesn't center around you. You're just a small (but important) part of the whole. Focus on what you can give back to life instead of what you can take from it. Make your contribution and enjoy the ride. Some whiners complain, "What's the purpose of it all? What's in it for me?" They find no meaning because they are self-centered and can't understand why the world doesn't cater to their every need. When they stop thinking of themselves they will discover meaning, for there is a whole world out there that needs their help in spreading joy.
4. Admit that many people are worse off than you; yet, they are doing better. So, follow their example and join their ranks.
5. Stop claiming the world is unfair. The only thing unfair is your distorted belief that the successes of others are due to their 'lucky breaks' and good fortune rather than their constructive action. Once you stop whining and start taking action, you will be able to join them in success.
6. Realize that there are no failures on the road to success; there are merely a series of successive steps that must be taken and detours that must be maneuvered. Just as a stranger is a friend you have yet to make, ‘failure’ is a success you have yet to reach, so just keep plodding onward.
7. Understand that misery doesn't exist in the world, but in our mind. It is not our present conditions, but our reactions to those conditions that are the source of our pain. The fault lies in us. Self-pity is self-defeating; no good can come out of it, so accept responsibility and change yourself.
8. Change your focus from what you cannot do to what you can do, from what you lack to what you have, from the way things are to the way you will make them become, from the person you are to the person you plan to be, from the problems facing you to their possible solutions, and from the difficulties you're mired in to the opportunities they offer. Since we become what we think about, it is essential that we focus on the right things.
9. Use the power of your imagination to help, not hinder you. Vizualize how wonderful things will be when you begin taking constructive action. By doing so, your imagination will become your coach, motivating you to act.
10. Understand the power of choice. Choice is a door. When we open one, we slam shut another. When we open the door of Self-Pity, we slam shut the doors of Positive Action, Success, and Happiness.
Self-pity is never a helpless cause because it can always serve as a terrible example. The choice is ours, we can serve as an inspiration to others by illustrating what is possible, or we can serve as an example of what NOT to do. Which will it be? Which door will we open?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Professional ballet schools. You might be wondering, "What really makes one of those large schools so professional, anyway?" Broadly, the only thing that allows a school to tout itself 'professional' is an attachment to a professional dance company, such as The School of American Ballet is associated with the New York City Ballet, although the title is not exclusive to company schools. Despite what one may think, this doesn't always amount to better training, and it almost never amounts to any kind of degree. In order to obtain a degree in dance, one's best bet is to attend a university program.
What usually leads people to choose one school over another is either a future job opportunity with the school's company, or quality of training. Before you send your dancer off to a professional ballet school you should make sure your dancer knows his or her goal. There are many things that you, as a parent, should be aware of, so that you may help your child make the right choice.
Scholastic education. Too few schools offer in-house educational programs. Most schools will help you enroll your child in a nearby high school, or they will help you arrange independent study. Regardless of what your child's goal is a dancer, they should never be permitted to neglect their studies. Things don't always work out in dance, no matter how talented you are. The average retirement age of a dancer is thirty. Your child should not be limited to teaching ballet or choreography after retirement.
Company hiring practices. Just because your dancer is a student at an official school, and quite possibly has been for several years, doesn't mean a guaranteed job opportunity. Most companies do hire from their school, but some only do so as a technicality; a student will be brought in for one year, or less, so that at hiring time, the company can show that they do, indeed, hire from their official school. One simple way you can check is by reviewing the company's roster of dancers. A dancer's training is most always included in their individual biography information. You can compare the number of dancers who have trained at the company's official school, to those who have not, and come up with their hiring ratio. Remember, just because the official school has put their stamp on a dancer, does not mean the dancer was brought up through the school. As an outsider, it is hard to find these things out, but there are ways. Ask around, you and your dancer have the right to know.
Repertoire. If your dancer's previous training matches the bulk of the company's rep,
there is a greater likelihood of success. A well rounded dance education is very important for today's young dancer; contemporary, jazz, ballroom, and flamenco are just some of the things you can supplement your dancer's training with. There are also non-dance activities that are invaluable to a young dancer's growth.
Performance experience. Aside from school-run student shows, most companies use students in their largest productions as dancers, supernumeraries, and understudies. For dancing roles, girls are often used more than boys, because of the larger amount of girls needed for a specific production, but they are typically last-cast. An example of such an occasion is a story ballet: The Nutcracker; it has many more dancing parts for girls. In most cases, girls gain solid stage dancing experience early on starting around sixteen. Boys, however, do not. They are often used as supernumeraries, but that is not valid experience. The best thing to prepare a young dancer for dancing on stage, is believe or not, dancing on stage. Classes alone at a professional school are not enough. Lack of experience can greatly hinder a dancer's career, especially when the dancer has been at an official school for many years, and is not hired by it's company.
Training. Curricula vary from school to school. Some have very well rounded programs that include several forms dance, music, and acting, and by contrast, some offer only a few forms of dance. Choosing the right professional school depends on your dancer's ultimate goal.
Scholarships. Every professional school should have both merit scholarship and financial-aid programs.
Boarding. Some schools have year-round, fully-staffed student dormitories which include cafeteria meal-plans, but most do not. As you know, cost-of-living varies greatly from city to city, state to state. Some dancers are ready to live on their own in apartments at an early age, but many are not.
You don't have to have danced to help your child along in the path they have chosen. They might think they know everything there is to know about what they do, but it is to their benefit that you know some things too.