• Inspiration and Making Changes

    Photo by Bruce Aoki

    I have to admit that I am someone that can lose motivation when I lack inspiration. While it might not always show, because I am also extremely determined and goal-oriented, I notice a difference in myself when I work from a place of inspiration and joy rather than out of pure commitment. The truth is, we are all going to find ourselves in that place of discouragement, where we kind of take a step back and ask ourselves: “Why am I doing this? Do I really love what I do?”. While I think those times can be an important catalyst for introspection and reevaluation, there are a few proactive steps that I sometimes like to take.

    If inspiration is lacking in one job or project, try a side outlet or grow a hobby. Learning a new skill or working towards my degree was always an important way for me to experience success and fulfillment outside of ballet. I cannot express enough how important it can be for dancers to find another outlet for creativity and passion. For me, baking, hosting dinner parties, writing, hiking, enjoying an evening with friends, pursuing education, and working on strength in the gym have all been important avenues of personal growth that boosted my confidence as an individual and grew my skill set that I could then bring into the studio. That sense of accomplishment or excitement in other areas of your life can provide a spark to keep going during a long rehearsal day in the back of a studio.

    Sometimes changes in your routine, big or small, can help get you out of a rut. It allows you to take notice of what is going on around you and helps you to shift your focus outward . There is something to say about finding a routine that works, but even those routines can become stale after a while as we grow and change as individuals. Changes as small as trying a new recipe or cutting your hair differently or even changes as big as moving to another city or starting a new side hustle can bring a breath of fresh air. Take yourself to a new coffee shop, try that new ingredient that caught your eye at the grocery store, walk a different way to work, pop into that new workout class that piqued your interest! The options for change are limitless.

    Treat yourself! This is huge if you are someone like me who can be hard on yourself for not feeling inspired and motivated. Approach this place of discontentment with kindness and compassion toward yourself, knowing that it is natural to have fluctuating feeling and different levels of enthusiasm. Instead of beating yourself up with the “I should be”s and guilting yourself into trying harder, stop, and do something that will nourish you as a person. This doesn’t have to involve spending money. You can read a book, light a candle, meditate, take a bath, do a homemade face mask, make yourself dinner, look through old pictures, self-massage, call a friend. This can what truly whatever your heart desires.

    Take time to step away. This one is difficult because it sometimes makes us face the reality of something we have been ignoring for a while. Taking a break can allow you to come back with a fresh perspective, new inspiration, and a rekindled love for what you do. But, it can also bring clarity that it’s time to go a different route for a while. My path with ballet has never been straight forward. I have taken breaks that were forced on me because of injuries, but I have also taken time to step away and try out a new career because at the time that was best for my well being. On paper, it can sound easy, but it is SO DIFFICULT to step away from the thing that you have known and loved your entire life. Taking time off can bring up emotions from going into the unknown, feelings of inadequacy, and even a sense of loss for who you think you are, but it can also unlock freedom to pursue other parts of yourself. If I would not have listened to my intuition to take time off from ballet, I would not be who I am today.

    Now, let’s talk about what happens if these feelings are persistent. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings about it, which can help you look back and see if there are any patterns in emotions. Sometimes, a decision of change can become obvious. Realize that it is okay to be exactly where you are. Give yourself permission to just be in that space and recognize that you don’t have to have a five-step plan of action. Know that it is normal to go through periods of intense motivation and inspiration, followed by periods of just feeling kind of meh. As dancers, we think that we have to be at 110% capacity all the time, that we are only allowed to make progress. In reality, there are going to be times of stagnation and even degression, and that is okay. Lastly, give yourself a deadline to reevaluate where you are. Make a few small changes and then give yourself a few months, or whatever timeline you choose, to see if anything has shifted. If nothing has progressed, head back to the drawing board.

    Finding inspiration is more than a Pinterest board, more than a collage of inspirational quotes and photos, and even more than watching other people do amazing things that make you want to work harder. As cheesy as this sounds, it’s about looking for those answers inside yourself for what truly fits you. You are unique and your path is going to look different from everyone else. That is what makes you as an individual, amazing.
  • Find What Fuels Your Dancing

    The name for What Fuels a Dancer came out of the idea of finding a lifestyle that complements our entire self so that our whole body, mind, and spirit can thrive. Your lifestyle should help you find what fuels your dancing. It is so easy to reach for a temporary solution like an extra cup of coffee when working long days or skipping self-care for scrolling on Instagram. While doing this every once in a while might not provide anything but a headache and a tired body the next day, over time, this pattern can totally throw off every sense of balance. Trust me, I am totally guilty of this too. It’s sometimes easy to just look at what will get us from one hour to the next, one ballet to the other, the next promotion, the next part. We so often forget to take a step back and look at the big picture to see if what we are actually doing is going to serve us in the long run. So, let’s take a look at what it means to find your life fuel!

    First, it means that nutrition plays an important role, but it is not the main character.

    In fact, there isn’t one aspect of life that is the magical key to finding health and happiness. In order to find what fuels your dancing, you will need to look past nutrition. Our bodies need more than just food to thrive. Meaningful relationships and connections, self care, restful sleep, a fulfilling career, physical exercise, and even fun are all aspects of life that fuel our bodies from the inside out and create the true meaning of health. Think about it, no amount of kale or broccoli alone will turn anyone into a happy and healthy individual. Have you ever seen someone who looked angry and stressed while drinking a green juice, or to the opposite extreme, blissfully happy eating ice cream? While this is not an excuse to eat all junk food all the time, it goes to show that eating a perfect diet doesn’t bring happiness. We will definitely go in depth on the topics of nutrition, emotional health, mental rest, and so much more but they shouldn’t be treated as life hacks that will suddenly change everything forever and ever. It’s the combination, the balance, of all of them that lead to a fueled life.

    Second, finding your life fuel involves self discovery, experimentation, and some amount of grace.

    An idea that we will explore later is the concept of bio-individuality. This is what allows a vegan and a meat eater to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner around the same table, with different foods of course, and both feel like they have nourished their bodies and souls. It’s what makes a crossfit athlete and a yoga instructor total devotees to their workout of choice. To put it simply, bio-individuality means that we are all different, unique in our wants, needs, and what is right for our own bodies. What works for me might not necessarily work for you. You probably won’t turn into a plant-based, ballet dancing, mountain hiking, smoothie bowl addicted, Bon Iver listening, natural skincare using, want to be yogi from reading this blog. Actually that’s probably a good thing because I’m pretty sure the world only needs one of me. This example might be silly, but too often we see someone who is #goals to us and then think that we have to follow EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL. of their workout, diet, and morning routine in order to have happiness and balance. When this fails us, we get frustrated, throw in the towel, and try to find another extreme in hopes that it turns out to be the perfect fit. But, what if we take the aspects from all of our experiences and personal research that we like, that resonate, that actually work for us and create our own hybrid of a lifestyle that not only makes us feel our best, but is also maintainable? Just something to think about.

    Lastly, it’s about the journey not the destination.

    I know that might sound as cliche as a girl in an oversized sweater sipping a pumpkin spice latte, but let’s look beyond the basic for a second. Our lives were made for growth. As soon as we reach that thing, that promotion, that health goal, that number in the bank account, that stage in life, we realize that we aren’t actually done. There is something more that we are searching for. I know for me personally, I always thought I would be satisfied if I made it into that ballet summer intensive, that professional program, that ballet company, and achieved that role and that accolade. If we are constantly living for the end result though, we lose the things that are around us, the things that actually sustain us and keep us going. The spontaneous coffee date, the ten minutes sitting in sunshine, or the failed dinner that turned into the most memorable night of laughter can actually give us space to exemplify health and provide fuel for the future. Sometimes it takes a whole lot of humility and self-love to be just right where you are. Forging your own path and going against what is conventional isn’t always easy, but it is so rewarding to listen to your own body.

    This week, see if there is something that is keeping you from living a fueled life. Is there a small change you can make that will give you more energy and focus? Do you need to reframe a day around self-care? If you need encouragement, leave a comment with a change you want to make, contact me here, or head over to my YouTube channel for more inspiration!

  • Welcome to What Fuels a Dancer

    What Fuels a Dancer started as  my passion project.

    Reflecting on the past twenty years of my life, I can see how so many roads led me to this moment. I started ballet at the age of four as a way to channel my kitchen twirling and natural love of dressing up. As I got older, making and sharing food, especially baked goods, became my trademark. I was always the dancer that hauled numerous batches of homemade mocha granola, peanut butter swirled brownies, and salted Nutella cookies into the dressing room. In my free time outside of school and ballet, I had my nose in cookbooks or was testing a new recipe for friends and family.

    When I moved away from home to pursue dancing in a professional atmosphere, I struggled with injuries and anxiety that launched me into a journey to find a lifestyle that would help me become the healthiest, strongest dancer that I could be. Three years ago, I launched an Instagram account called What Fuels a Dancer. It was a way of combining all of my passions together: my ballet career, love of making and sharing food, and my dedication to living a healthy lifestyle. Just this past year, I took one more leap to become certified as an Integrative Nutritional Health Coach, which was the natural step that gave me the confidence to share what I have learned with you!

    My heart behind the What FUels a Dancer blog is to provide a space for you to find inspiration, balance, and community.

    Whether you wear a tutu and a tiara for a living or a pantsuit, my hope is that you can find space here to grow as you explore what it means to live a life fueled by love, self-care, and passion. You might be trying to find balance in your professional career or with mounds of schoolwork, searching for your life mission, and exploring what being healthy means to you, or maybe you need help developing a self care routine or get out of a unshakeable rut. Wherever you are on your health and wellness journey, I am right there with you, so we can go through it together. How does that sound?

    Many of my stories and anecdotes are unique to a dancer, but I think the lessons I learned and the emotions I felt are totally relatable, regardless if you have 20 pairs of pointe shoes in your closet or not. Let’s be real for a second. Whether you are a professional ballerina, a stressed out college student living in sweatpants, or a business professional forging a career for yourself, there are some things we all have in common. Having been a professional both inside and outside of the dance world has taught me that every job has the ability to throw off your work-life balance, that body image issues aren’t selective to people that only wear leotards, that anxiety can come in all different shapes and sizes, and that there is so much more to you than your accomplishments and career title.

    My teens and twenties were the most formidable times of my life. I was figuring out who I am and what I want to do with my life… actually, I’m pretty sure I still haven’t figured it out, but I’ll keep you posted. I was so lost when it came to self-care and self-love and felt overwhelmed at the thought that I didn’t know where I was going to be in a month, much less five years. I remember how much I wanted there to be someone who was like an older sister and professional mentor to walk alongside me and encourage me through the growing pains and help me establish healthy habits that I could carry with me for the rest of my life.

    This is why I started What Fuels a Dancer: to create meaningful relationships that center around health and wellness in every aspect of life.

    I am so passionate to bring you resources from my own learning and experiences as well as those from other dancers, students, and professionals, and create a space for positive community and personal growth. I promise that we will talk about some hard stuff, but there will be also be some fun recipes, random musings, fun chats, and lots and lots of smoothie bowl love.

    So, pour yourself a big mug of tea, wrap yourself up in a blanket, light a candle, and come with an open mind and heart and a willingness to dig deep into yourself. Just because we aren’t face to face doesn’t mean that we can’t have girl talk. Get ready for some real conversation and genuine connection as we walk down this path together.

    Have a question or a topic idea that you want me to discuss on here? Head over to my contact me page and send me a message! If you are looking for one-on-one coaching with me, I have more information on my Work with Me page.