New Priorities for the New Year

I don't know about you, but for me 2015 felt a bit like my "annus horribilis" (bad year) to quote Queen Elizabeth II (1992). For as many wonderful changes happened, there were an equal, if not great number of challenges. It seemed that the harder I worked to dig myself/my family out, the worse things got. But, there is one caveat- we grew closer as a family and we grew in our faith. So, I cheerfully bid adieu to the past with the great expectation that we can't go lower, or things can't get worse (I hope, I hope, I hope), we've gotta go forward!

One thing that I noticed about myself in 2015 was that I really did not take care of my health. As stress was building, rather than combat it with healthy food and exercise, I either didn't eat (bad for metabolism) or kept myself "busy". Personal time for quiet was non-existent. So, in the days leading up to 2016, I made plans to change that. The inspirational example for this? My mother...

Growing up, I could count on the house schedule, in which everyone contributed. Monday and Thursdays, laundry. Saturday mornings clean bathrooms, dust and vacuum (well maybe there was several days of vacuuming). Everyday, empty the dishwasher in the morning, be sure that no dishes were left in the sink at night, empty all trash cans everyday. Meals around the same time each day. My mom woke up at the same time everyday and went to bed at the same time every night. To this day, she maintains the same schedule. As a youthful artist, however, I rebelled against the structure of it all. I had to stay up late, doing what I considered my best work at midnight or later. That led to terrible sleeping habits and no sort of cleaning system in place once I had my own place. Now, I'm mom-as-artist-entrepreneur and while my creative time often still falls to the fringe hours of the day-- early morning before kids wake up or after their bedtime- I find myself craving more and more of my mother's structure. Just don't tell her I said that.

It is more than just a cleaning schedule. It is recognizing that we all get the same hours in the day as Fixer Upper's Joanna Gaines or Oprah Winfrey, for example. It is about how we use our time. It is easy for me to get caught up in a project and neglect everything else. And maybe that was fine for a certain period in my life. But, now I need to set aside an amount of time for each task, each day and not allow things to consume all of my hours- not if I ever want to have the balance I seek. Not if I want to cultivate several ideas, simultaneously. It also means excepting my best at the moment, rather than awaiting perfection or knowing all of the answers before beginning.

So, here's to a new year full of health, prosperity, and dare I say it- schedules. Say a prayer for me as I dig into my mother's world and attempt to sleep at a reasonable time.

What does the new year hold for you? Have you made any resolutions?


Do you struggle with a routine to start your day? Check out this article for inspiration:  "The Morning Routines of 12 Women Leaders"  

Ever heard of decision fatigue? Perhaps wearing the same outfit everyday will keep your head in the game: Why Successful People Wear the Same Things Everyday.

From Roarin' 20s to Blue Christmas...

As you may know, I was selected as one of the Honorees for the 2015 Breath of Life Gala hosted by Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) of Central Pennsylvania. With only 10 weeks from my initial acceptance of the honor, to the date of the Gala, I was faced with quite a challenge—raise as much money and awareness as possible in support of the organization.

 Kristen Murray & I with dancers from Hershey School of Dance. Photo: Hollis Healy

Kristen Murray & I with dancers from Hershey School of Dance. Photo: Hollis Healy

My first fundraiser was attended by many of you who follow my Facebook page. I hosted a Day of Dance for CFF at the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet. We had a great time taking (and in my case, teaching and taking) classes in ballet, modern, contemporary, hip hop, and Zumba. The attendees gave donations to CFF in lieu of class fees and the teachers: Kristen Murray, Stacey Tytler-Raab, Hannah Ruskan, Gregg Hurley all generously volunteered their time. It was truly a community event with participants from Hershey School of Dance, Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, Messiah College, and Studio ’91. I was so pleased to see so many of my former students and loved seeing the hard work and energy being poured out in the studio! Thank you for your support and thank you Pennsylvania Regional Ballet for allowing me to use your space! We raised over $600! You can find more photos from the event on my Facebook page.

The dancers in attendance also participated in #8Counts4CF. They performed 8 counts of improvised movement, which we filmed and uploaded to social media to raise awareness for CFF. I am grateful for those who kept the trend going!

 Emily Drobnock (right); Thea Rodgers and her mother (left)

Emily Drobnock (right); Thea Rodgers and her mother (left)

A few days following that event, Knock Knock Boutique of Hershey gave me a second opportunity to raise funds in support of CFF. The owner of the Knock Knock Boutique, Emily Drobnock, one of my former students and later colleague at Hershey School of Dance, opened her shop for private shopping hours and donated a generous portion of the proceeds to CFF. I highly recommend her shop for chic, affordable jewelry/accessories and for hosting a party! She is organized, knowledgeable, and always ready with a smile!

 The Hubs and I before the Gala

The Hubs and I before the Gala

The 10-week drive culminated with a Roarin’ 20s themed Gala at the West Shore Country Club. Dancers from the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet performed. There was a silent auction, casino games, and a live band with great music. Thea Rodgers, a young woman who battles the disease, gave a moving speech about living, no thriving, with CFF. This was followed by a live auction, a “Bid for Life” where donors gave to support the foundation. It was a beautiful evening made special by the opportunity to meet the parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis. In all, over $90,000 was raised during the event. Thank you to Victoria Silva, who nominated me, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for the opportunity to work with you. If you would still like an opportunity to give, my fundraising page will be open through the end of the year:

In addition to fundraising for CFF, I’ve been busy with classes and rehearsals at Messiah. Tonight, the dancers will perform in Blue Christmas, a service for those who have experienced loss of any kind and may not look forward to the holidays. A trio of dancers will perform a new ballet piece that I’ve choreographed In Grief and Loss set to music by Phillip Glass. A solo dancer will perform, Need You Now (2006), which I originally performed at L’Arte de la Danse Festival in Heidelberg, Germany, set to the music of Smokie Norful.  The program contains choreography by Gregg Hurley with music contributed by special guests including his wife, Susan Hurley and tenor Justin DeMartino. Come and experience, through dance, many journeys of the heart- from grief and sadness to comfort and strength.

Thank you for support in my endeavors. And just in case I don't have another opportunity to say it, have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Blessings and peace to you and your families and friends.


2015 is flying by!!!

 Pennsylvania Regional Ballet dancers waiting to begin an Ugly Duckling performance

Pennsylvania Regional Ballet dancers waiting to begin an Ugly Duckling performance

I can't believe that we nearing the end of summer. Before we get into another dance season, I wanted to take a moment and fill you in on all that has been happening.

In February of this year, I took on a new position. I became an Adjunct Instructor for Messiah College's Department of Theatre and Dance. The major is just beginning its fourth year (Fall 2015), so it is a very exciting time to join the program. For the Spring Semester I taught ballet classes.

At the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, I had the privilege of restaging Kirsten Kaschock's work, The House That Jane Built. The young PRB dancers were so eager to do this work; it made my job so easy! Kaschock is a brilliant person and a veteran choreographer. It was nice to be a part of her rehearsals and listen to her discuss her creative process and intentions for the piece. The work was shown at PRB's annual Spring Gala in March and was later selected to be performed at the Regional Dance America/Northeast Festival in Philadephia, PA in May.

May was a busy month for me! The Pennsylvania Regional Ballet toured my 30 minute ballet, The Ugly Duckling. The ballet addresses bullying using dance, narration, and an original music score by James Casey. We also offered an in-school residency where I am able to talk more in-depth about the movement, bullying, and individuality. This year alone, more than 1800 students in the Harrisburg School District (Harrisburg, PA) were able to watch, participate, and/or be a part of these offerings thanks to generous support of the funders of PRB.

I had some time off after PRB's annual Summer Concert before heading into their annual Summer Intensive. As part of the faculty, I taught ballet, modern, dance history, and anatomy to the summer program students. We had a great time and I'm so grateful that my mother was able to make it a great summer for my own kids! The end of the summer was bittersweet as I said goodbye to my role as a faculty member at PRB in order to take on more responsibilities at Messiah and still maintain balance for my young family. After 10 years as a faculty member, and many years as a student before then, PRB will always be home. I look forward to returning in January to set choreography on the company dancers.  

Here we are in August! In the earlier part of the month, I had a chance to be the student and take a few classes at Broadway Dance Center, thanks to the good fortune of my friend and fellow teacher, Stacey Tytler Raab.  We also went to see An American in Paris! Beautiful dancing, choreography- winner of 4 Tony Awards, but not one of my favorite shows overall. We also had a chance to stop by the Ailey studios to see Ellenore Scott and Michelle Ramos Burkhart as they prepared for another year of the Breaking Glass Emerging Female Choreographer's Project (I was part of the inaugural group in 2013). I am amazed, but not surprised to see how the project is growing each year. The work that they are doing to advance female choreographers is incredible.

Now, I am gearing up to return to Messiah next week, but this time I will take on a few more classes. In addition to teaching ballet classes, I will be teaching dance history, and will create choreography for their concert dance ensemble, GiViM. I'm also looking forward to assisting the seniors as they navigate their senior projects and make plans post-graduation plans.

I will keep you informed of opportunities to see my choreography or take class from me throughout the year. You can always check my calendar to see upcoming events or send me an email through my contact page!

Best wishes for a new season of dance!



Judging Your Work? Read this by James Clear

Happy Monday, Everyone! 

Do you struggle with comparing your success to that of others? Do you judge the validity of your work by how popular it becomes or how well it is received? If you've ever felt this way, this is for you. Today, I want to share this post from James Clear entitled, Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others. It is a nice, brief read and an important message.