It has officially been a month since I lasted published on this blog. I’d like to say this was intentional or a result of writer’s block. I’d like to say I have an amazing story to tell about a great adventure I took over the past thirty-plus days.
The truth is, it has been one of the most strange and unusual summers. There have been a lot of unexpected personal and professional opportunities and obligations that have come my way. The truth this, this month-long hiatus wasn’t intentional at all, it crept up on me quite suddenly when I flipped the calendar page to August, and I thought to myself, where did the time go?
One thing I can share about the past thirty days is that, although I’ve not been channeling my creativity into this blog, I’ve made time for it elsewhere – in dance, in poetry, in a much needed weekend retreat. And now that I finally have time to come back here, to this space, I realize that it’s time for another Creative Habit Challenge.
I’ve learned a lot over the past month, but one of the most important things – the thing I’d like to share with you – is to allow.
Life is not a content calendar with carefully scheduled blog and social media posts. Life is much bigger and better than that, more unpredictable than that, more exciting than that. So allow yourself to live when life comes at you.
Allow creativity to flow in the means you’re given. It doesn’t have to be on the blog you’ve built for three years or the YouTube channel you’ve grown from the ground up. Sure, don’t abandon your commitment to those things, don’t forgo the countless amounts of time, energy, and effort you’ve poured into them, but, at the same time, don’t let these things hold you back from something more.
Allow yourself to let go of one item on your to-do list, to make room for something else. Allow yourself to do this without explanation, rationalization, judgement, or guilt. Allow yourself to embrace the wild uncertainties of life. Allow yourself to indulge in a new opportunity. Allow yourself to be present in whatever is happening in your life right at this very moment.
Above all, allow yourself to release whatever is holding you back from being creative. Do this with mindfulness – don’t up and flee your city, get fired from your job, lose your partner, get evicted from your apartment, and scare your loved ones – but just allow yourself to let go and live. Allow yourself to let creativity in.
You may remember last fall when I started dancing again after a four-year hiatus thanks to Jess Grippo and her You Can Dance Again (YCDA) program. Since then, Jess has started to expand the concept, offering alternatives to her core workshop. YCDA began as a six to nine week experience, available both online and in-person for those living in the NYC area. This spring, Jess offered the first pop-up version of YCDA – a four-week mini workshop with a focus on pop-goddesses.
You might be wondering, what is a pop-goddess? Jess may very well have coined this term herself! She took three major goddess archetypes – Artemis, Kali, and Aphrodite – and paired them with a modern pop star whose personality, style, and dance reflect the core characteristics of the goddess archetypes – Pink, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga respectively.
Over the course of the four-week Pop-Goddess workshop, the weekly virtual sessions focused on the core characteristics of the goddess archetypes and their pop-star counterparts. After exploring each theme, Jess shared guiding prompts and action steps to help us integrate the concepts into our dance practice and beyond. For those in the NYC area who were able to participate in the in-person program, each weekly class allowed us to put the prompts and integration steps into action with a community of fellow dancers.
The studio sessions allowed us to work collaboratively with the other dancers to create movements that embodied the goddess archetypes and pop-star qualities. Jess also incorporated choreography from the pop-icons and created a curated set of playlists with music from the core pop artists as well as other female artists whose music channeled the goddess spirit. The culmination of the virtual sessions and in-person classes allowed us fully embrace and embody the energy of the goddess archetypes and direct this energy through our bodies and into our dance.
The very specific and guided focus of the Pop-Goddess workshop provided a perfect space for introspection and internal work as well as a supportive community to outwardly express our inner-goddesses through dance. As Jess’s YCDA programs evolve and progress, I believe this balance of internal and external exploration, both individually and communally, is the core. Creative self-expression starts from within – dance is merely a medium to convey that expression.
The four-week Pop-Goddess workshop flew by, only brushing the surface of the themes, internal exploration, and expression through dance. I, along with many of the other dancers in the program, was left craving more. Jess listened and was inspired to create the next version of the YCDA program – a four-month experience with monthly themes, a two-day dance retreat, and a culminating showcase. This YCDA workshop is available online and in-person for those in the NYC area, and it kicks off in less than two weeks.
If something is holding you back from dancing again or you’ve been hoping for an opportunity to dance again free from comparison or competition, I highly recommend speaking with Jess and exploring the YCDA program. Maybe you’re already dancing, and you’re looking for a strong community to support you in working through internal ideas or barriers and expressing yourself fully through dance. This upcoming workshop might be just what you need – check out the full details here. If you’d like to chat further about my personal experience with YCDA, feel free to connect with me!
This winter doesn’t quite feel like winter. Temperatures are starting to drop (a little), but snow has yet to fall in New York City. It’s just uncomfortable enough outside to keep us indoors, but I still haven’t gotten to curl up in some of my favorite wool sweaters with a cup of cocoa. Call me crazy, but I’m ready to see Central Park covered in a blanket of white! All of this in-between has given me a case of the (not so) winter blues. If you’re feeling like me, a bit down in the dumps during this remarkably unseasonable winter, keep reading to find out how I plan to kick this funky feeling!
Brighten Your Home or Office with Fresh Flowers
Cooler months can feel a bit lifeless. Only evergreens are in bloom, and there can tend to be gloomy grey tint to the sky. Brightening your home or office with fresh flowers is a great way to stimulate your senses in the winter. The bold colors and beautiful smell will help to warm your surroundings and your mood.
It can be challenging to find motivation to keep moving when it’s brisk and uncomfortable outside. Running or playing sports outdoors becomes difficult or impossible without the right cold weather gear, and it’s oh so easy to indulge in heavy, richer foods in the winter and hide the extra pounds under an oversized sweater. Bleak weather is no excuse to let your body stay stagnant – there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you moving! Join a gym or try a yoga, Pilates, or dance class this winter.
Warn Up with Wine
Nothing will brighten the end of a chilly winter day like a warming glass of wine. Whether you’re sharing a bottle with your co-workers at happy hour, your girlfriend after work, or your partner at home at the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with a great wine in the winter.
Reconnect with Your Girls Over Coffee
When the weather gets bleak, it’s easy to go into hibernation mode. After you get home at the end of the day, kick off your boots, and shed your winter layers, the last thing you want to do is bundle back up, trek into the cold, and get together with friends. It’s essential to stay connected to others, even when there’s a chill in the air. Head to the nearest local coffee shop to reconnect with your girls!
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Yes, you may have over-indulged during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you need to start the New Year with an intense diet that deprives you of dessert. Denying yourself of a little guilty pleasure here and there is a recipe for disaster – the combination of cold and starvation could send you spiraling into a case of the winter blues. This season, remember to indulge your sweet tooth (in moderation).
I think my mom enrolled me in my first dance class as soon as I could walk. From that moment forward, dance was a major part of my life. Hours after school were spent in class, weekends were spent at rehearsals, and summers were spent at camps and later full-blown dance intensives. By the end of high school, I was starting to get burnt out with auditions and politics, and I left the company I’d been with for over ten years. I spent my senior year taking classes at various studios in the area in a more low-pressure environment. I left for college unsure how dance would continue to fit into my life, but I quickly found a new dance community at the University of Georgia and at an independent studio in Athens. I’d never known a life without dance, but I graduated from college, moved across the country, and dance slipped out of my life.
When I moved to New York City last year, I vowed I’d start dancing again, but something was still holding me back. I’d lived in the city for eight months without stepping back into a studio. I felt out of practice and intimidated to take a class. Then a friend introduced me to Jess Grippo and her You Can Dance Again (YCDA) Program. After a brief call with Jess, I felt like YCDA was just what I needed – an alternative to the traditional dance scene and a supportive environment to reconnect with my dancer body and dancer identity. After a four-year hiatus, I finally started dancing again.
Jess is a dance reviver and creative coach based in Brooklyn. She created the YCDA Program because she, like me and so many other dancers, experienced a time where she lost dance and, in turn, a part of herself. YCDA is a simple way for dancers to return to their passion. The program is available both online and in-person for those living in the NYC area. During the virtual program, you’ll meet weekly with other dancers over a video hangout to receive guided dance sessions and coaching from Jess as well as other guest instructors. In the NYC-based program, you join the virtual program weekly in addition to meeting in a studio weekly with Jess and the other dancers. Both versions of the YCDA program focus on developing choreography from improvisation, guided prompts, and collaboration, culminating in a virtual showcase for the online program and a performance in NYC for the live program.
If something is holding you back from dancing again or you’ve been hoping for an opportunity to dance again free from comparison or competition, I highly recommend speaking with Jess and exploring the YCDA Program. The next session will begin in 2016, so be sure to join the movement to be the first to learn about what Jess has in store for the New Year! In the meantime, if you’re in the NYC area, get your tickets for the current program’s showcase next Friday, December 11 at 7:30P at the Alchemical Theatre Laboratory in Manhattan.
I started following Jennifer Sterling on social media after discovering her profile through a mutual friend. After a few exchanges on Periscope, we began to form a virtual friendship. It was clear that Jennifer and I had an instant connection. We finally met in person at her intimate event, Nourish & Nosh.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, what am I really hungry for? In the kitchen? In the bedroom? In life? Jennifer’s approach to holistic health shows you how to nourish your body at the table and away from it.
The Nourish & Nosh event consisted of three primary components, each of which are integral to Jennifer’s signature system: feeding your body through movement, food, and sexuality.
The evening kicked off with a Nourish Movement Class, a sensual, restorative, and mindful mix of guided choreography and improvisation to an amazing playlist composed by Jennifer. I left the class feeling both energized and rejuvenated in my body.
After working up an appetite, we came together to enjoy a carefully curated plant-based meal, free of eight of the more common allergens (wheat, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish). I’m not personally affected by any food allergies, but I was blown away by how delicious an entire three-course meal could be without these ingredients, particularly this Moroccan Spiced Delicata Squash Stoup (yes, stoup! soup + stew = stoup!).
For the final component of the evening, we circled up for a discussion about understanding our authentic sexual tastes with holistic sex and relationship coach, Anain Bjorkquist. The biggest takeaway was the one thing we can learn from the kink community: to explicitly communicate what we want from our partner. Ultimately, this candid conversation allowed us to tie together all aspects of the evening and explore the idea of nourishing our bodies by finding pleasure in all that we do: in movement or exercise, in food, and in our sex lives.
To learn more about Jennifer and her approach to health and movement, visit her site, connect with her on Facebook and all other social media @JennMSterling, and join live her on Periscope. If you’re in the NYC area, attend the next Nourish & Nosh in November – you don’t want to miss this amazing event, available at the early-bird rate until October 25th! Not in NYC? Check out Jennifer’s brand new e- course, BodyLove, a 30-Day program that will leave you feeling confident and irresistible from the inside out.