Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 ... a year in review...

It is the very last day of 2009. So color my world with the chaos of trouble cause tonight is going to be a good good night! I'm back in Salt Lake City and can't wait to see my awesome friends for a fun night out on the town. (Currently trying to strategically plan the warmest way to wear a fun new year's dress...)

2009 has been moderately good to me. Not the greatest year ever, but some pretty awesome stuff went down. Major events of 2009...

1. My mother dear has slowly been recovering from brain surgery. 2009 has been good, but 2008 was plain terrible. Very fittingly, the very end of 2008 was spent in hospital with mother dearest. It has been a very slow recovery- brain surgery is kind of a big deal- but I feel like we are headed in the right direction... hopefully 2010 will show even more progress - perhaps even a return to normal? (That would be AWESOME!) Overall though, the whole ordeal has really helped me realize how much I adore my family. I am remarkably lucky to have such amazing and supportive people in my life like my parents and my sister. They are just downright fantastic.

2. Finished college. Well sort of. Finished "college" and am now playing catch up for all that I couldn't do while dancing a zillion hours a day. The last semester- I realized what awesome people I have spent my life with for the last 4 years. When my family went into crisis mode, I also realized how absolutely awesome my friends are (Colorado and Utah). Friends sent my family care packages, offered to fly in to help me out, sit with me in the hospital, and gave me record hugs that brightened the darkest of days. I am such a lucky lucky girl.

3. Senior Concert. It was awesome. The faculty was impressed and proclaimed it one of the best senior concerts they have seen. I would expect nothing less from my amazing classmates.

4. Graduation. How lucky was I to be able to walk across that stage in my bare feet while being surrounded by all of my best friends?

5. Greece. Oh Greece! The trip of a lifetime with 2 of my favorite people. The pictures are still my computer's screen savor 7 months later. It was that much fun.

6. California. So my immediate family is pretty awesome. My extended family is too. Each time I see them I am reminded of how lucky I am. And Chicago. It was only one weekend, but me and Emma had a positively fantastic time.

7. Sans Limites Crochet went online!!! This is a very recent development, but I have already made 4 online sales! WOO HOO! Thank you, Sans Limites supporters!

8. Aunt Ellen and Cousin Jimmy moved to Colorado - I don't live in Colorado any more, but it is awesome to go home and have some extra family there. Jimmy is probably the most awesome high school kid that ever existed and Ellen has the most contagious giggle. And their presence there means so much to my mom and has improved her life so much. They make more of a difference than they know.

9. I started life in the "real world" ... still in school. Ok, so it's not the REAL real world, I'm still a student. But I'm no longer in the dance department. The harsh reality of spending my days alone, sitting, studying hit me hard (as opposed to seeing my friends all day everyday while being up, active, interactive, and creative...). The first half was rough... really rough. But I had an "Awww HA!" moment while studying for finals. Yes, these classes are really hard for me, but I'm learning some darn cool stuff. I need to remind myself of that more, and all will be ok. I love to learn, I love to learn, I love to learn... my mantra as I face anatomy and o chem next semester... wish me luck, cause I'm gonna need it!

10. I have read 29 books... and am half way finished with 4 others (art, Africa, Iraq, and science related). As I finished up my bachelor of FINE ARTS degree, I realized I wasn't a very good artist. I'm a pretty good dancer, and I can make a dance that looks pretty, but I have trouble making a dance that speaks about the world... why? Because I don't know that much about the world. I've spent the last 8 years in the dance studio, and am now trying to navigate what life is like outside of it. The books I have read have helped me learn more about the world, the economy, the environment ... and even the art world. I spent 4 years in a very intense program, and right now I'm letting all I learned there sink in. It's a stewing period, and it is awesome. Ok, so my goal after graduation was to read a book a week... at 29, I'm 23 short... but still pretty proud of myself.

My other new year's resolution was to run 20 minutes a day which I have completely failed at, but I have improved my yoga skills, so there's that...

My goal for 2010 is quite cliche. I want to be healthier. (Please realize this is very different from losing weight- I'm quite happy with my weight- honest!) As a dancer I have a great respect for my body- it is my instrument, my way of speaking to the world (senior quote from high school - "Dance can give the inarticulate a voice") And now as a pre-nursing student I'm learning just how vital it is to eat right and exercise. It is so crucial for your body's functioning and will serve a major role in disease prevention later. And honestly- with the poor health that appears in the US that is mostly preventable- we should all shift our focus to prevention and start taking better care of ourselves. So there, I'm gonna do my part. Christmas is over- no more living on sweets! (I have an entire tower of treats from Harry and David in my apartment... this is a great goal I'm undertaking!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Dudek Family Christmas!

So there are some Christmas traditions that always happen for the Dudek family - all of which I'm appreciating so much more this year since they were missed last year. (We had a last minute Christmas in the SLC condo/University of Utah Hospital.) I like to think of myself (and my family) as being pretty eco friendly peeps... but there are 2 traditions my mother refuses to give up.

1- Refusal to use LED lights... they seem too cold. My mom thinks they look more blue than white and therefore do not convey the appropriate feeling of a warm, candle- lit Christmas... therefore they are not used on the Dudek house.

And 2- the yearly purchase of a real tree. That's right, none of that plastic mess for the Dudeks! I think a large part of the reason we insist on this tradition (mom especially) is because we have so much fun going to pick it out. We all must go together, and stage a tree-hugging photo shoot. Because all four of us must be present, that means we are usually getting our tree very last minute. Only after finals are over and my dad and I come rolling back into town do we venture to the tree shop. Classic moment of today... the tree man says that trees are %30 off.... Dad then says, "and by 30%, you really mean 50%, right?" Yes... my father is an expert in tree bargaining.

A third Christmas tradition... Many of my years growing up I spent at least a good solid day at my dance studio learning a competition routine from one of my favorite teachers- Sarah Mizushima - only in town from Southern California for Christmas. Tonight, my sis and I went to a class taught by Sarah... such a blast! Spending my Christmas break dancing her movement just felt right (we even did our develope combination to the song we performed her choreography to when I was in 8th grade... and I felt very old!).

And tomorrow to continue in the true Dudek Christmas tradition, I will begin my Christmas shopping- yes I am well aware I only have 3 days to complete it, but this is my method of crowd avoidance... no one else waits this long to do their shopping...


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Some Wisdom from Maya

My mom was in town for my birthday this week. So nice to have her around, even though a lot of our time was spent with her knitting (jealous) and me studying (ick). She and I have been determined to experience the world through art (fiber art most specifically) and reading this year. She gave me a positively splendid book for a birthday gift called Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou.

This is the second book of Maya's that I have read... the first being All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, which interested me because it was while she lived in Ghana. In actuality, Maya and I have a lot in common. Of course, I'm not a black American, but I am a dancer, a people lover, and a fan of Ghana... just like her. Maya's quotes have inspired me (scroll to the bottom of my blog for my favorite Maya Angelou quote!). I have been lucky enough to find even more inspiration in my latest read.

I know, I know... it's finals week, but this is the perfect book to be reading while studying. Each little chapter is separate from the last and only a page or two long making it the perfect thing to pick up real fast before bed, when needing a study break, or waiting for a ride... love it.

So here is some wisdom I have gained from Maya this week...

In her introduction... " You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution. Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood. (Please pretend I never wrote a blog solely devoted to whining about my birthday...) Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity."

" The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm or amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed."

"All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart which tells us all that we are more alike than we are unalike."

"The human heart is so delicate and sensitive that it always needs some tangible encouragement to prevent it from faltering in its labor. The human heart is so robust, so tough, that once encouraged it beats its rhythm with a loud, unswerving insistency. One thing that encourages the heart is music. Throughout the ages we have created songs to grow on and to live by. We Americans have created songs to embolden the hearts and inspire the spirit of people all over the world."

" If we tolerate vulgarity, our future will sway and fall under the burden of ignorance. It need not be so. We have the brains and the heart to face our futures bravely. Taking responsibility for the time we take up and the space we occupy. To respect our ancestors and out of concern for our descendants, we must show ourselves as courteous and courageous well-meaning Americans. Now."

And from her convocation speech...
"Are you prepared to work
To make this country, our country
More than it is today?

For that is the job to be done.
That is the reason you have
Worked hard, your sacrifices
Of energy and time,
The monies of your parents
Or of government have been paid
So that you can transform your
Country and your world.

Look beyond your tasseled caps
And you will see injustice.
At the end of your fingertips
You will find cruelties,
Irrational hate, bedrock sorrow
And terrifying loneliness
There is your work.

Make a difference
Use this degree which you
Have earned to increase
Virtue in your world."

Well put, Maya Angelou.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Words...

Looking for a good time in SLC?

I have two words for you...
Samba Gringa.
Best freakin time you will ever have.
What is there not to love about loud brazilian beats, sexy costumed dancers, high energy drummers, and a crowd going wild.
One big dance party, and the time of your life.

They play at the Urban Lounge. You should go... and bring your dancing shoes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Whine Session

I'm a 23 year old whiner... all the reasons I don't like having a birthday on December 7.

1. Pearl Harbor Day. I know that's not the first thing people really think about on December 7 anymore, but when you do, it becomes a little more difficult to celebrate.

2. Finals. Yesterday was my birthday (yay). I spent it studying because I have finals this week and next (boo).

3. The Nutcracker. True- this is not a worry anymore, but ALL the years I was growing up my birthday always always fell on the week of the nutcracker which meant I was totally stressed out between end of school projects and dress rehearsals, lighting, spacing... when I was lucky enough to have my birthday fall on a weekend I inevitably spent the whole time in dressing rooms and on stage.

4. Christmas. I love Christmas, and EVERYONE is in the Christmas spirit... which makes a birthday hard to remember. I love that excited feeling building up toward Christmas... but I don't let it start until after my birthday. That means I have about one week less of holiday cheer time than everyone else. Sad day.

5. The Winter Brain Conference. My dad studies the brain. The winter brain conference ALWAYS happens over my birthday and he has been required at the conference for the last 25 years or so (I'm only 23... guess what that means...). I don't remember ever having a birthday with my dad around. True as a "grown up" I should probably get used to that... but now that my dad is the only family member I live close to, I really do enjoy having him around. No matter how old I get, I will never get sick of family time. (In all reality though... to show how great my dad is... the year he won the award for best basic scientist we got to join him at the conference and he wished me a happy birthday in his acceptance speech and made sure I knew how much he hated missing my birthday each year... thanks, Dad!)

6. Snow. I've grown up around snow, should be used to it, but in all truth I really don't like it. I'm determined to take up snowboarding with the hopes that it might help me like snow more, but so far snow is still a frustration. In the unpredictable weather of the mountainy west, it will be absolutely beautiful weather... until my birthday when inevitably it gets crazy cold and a crazy storm hits making it difficult to go anywhere (or celebrate). This rule also holds true for our spring breaks.

7. BAD BAD Birthdays. I have a history of having really really downright terrible birthdays. It's just about at the point where I prepare myself for the worst. For example... this time last year I was driving through the crazy snowstorm to pick my mom up from the airport. She had just been discharged from the hospital in Fort Collins and was flying to Utah not to visit her daughter on her birthday, but to prepare for brain surgery. (She got the staples out the day after Christmas.) Needless to say, I was terrified and really was in no mood to celebrate something as minor as a birthday. 2 years before that I had the stomach flu and a final on my birthday amongst a slew of other really terrible things...

All in all, compared to birthdays past, yesterday could have been much worse. It was actually quite enjoyable considering I spent it studying physiology. Clearly, no matter how old I get (23... wow...) I probably will never stop having brief, childish, and selfish moments like now when I feel the need to complain about completely trivial things. On the plus side, I have a large group of ridiculously awesome and thoughtful friends and a family that spoils me more than I deserve. Yay birthdays and thank you!!!

Happy Holidays. Drive safe in that crazy snow. Good luck on finals.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

ART and life.

As a gal with a BFA... who is no longer doing much of anything fine artsy (except the Art Market this weekend which was a moderate success)... I feel the need to have musings on all things fine and pretty and emotionally stimulating.

As a girl who grew up in a house of science, I respect all that it has to offer and all that it does for our lives. Science, business, politics.... it's all completely crucial to how we live. AND... I'm studying science now... BUT the arts are the WHY in our lives. The ability to create something that makes us think, feel, and emote is what makes us uniquely human. Author Ellen Dissanayake argues that we should be referred to as Homo Aestheticus rather than Homo Sapiens because populations of humans have survived without any understanding of science or complex business or politics, but not a single population of humans has ever existed without some form of art. Art is what defines us.

I stumbled upon this quote today - "If we as citizens do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the alter of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." -Yann Martel

When science can't be understood, and there is so much disagreement in politics, and we are in a complete economic slump... there is always art. It gives us empathy and understanding. It helps us think outside the box and gives us hope and appreciation for life when we have none. It brings beauty and thought to our lives... if only it were more appreciated.

Those who do not see art, experience it, think about it... they are missing out on such an important part of life! They are missing out on what makes us human - and in that way we might be losing a part of our humanity.

Ok... it's the end of the semester... and I have been studying physiology for far too long (clearly), I had to give art's horn a toot. Go see a dance show.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Novemberrrrr... the good, the bad, and the ugly.

November is an odd month in Utah. After mormons, and the Sundance Film Festival, Utah is known for its outdoor adventures. It's cold in November, so no more rock climbing, hiking, or boating... but the snow has not come yet... and my snowboarding pass doesn't begin for another week. So it is a bit of a restless time here in Utah.

Luckily- or unluckily?- I have been keeping pretty busy anyway. I have had at least one test a week... and will continue to have a test a week until the end of the semester, some on the same day. The latest test was physiology- by far the most stressful - which had added stress because it was the same time as opening night for our dance show. Panic set in last night when I realized my professor forgot the arrangement we had made so that I could both take the test and be on stage on time... oh man. Thanks to a helpful TA, it worked out, glad that's over. So November has been divided between doctors visits with mother dearest, library marathons, and dance rehearsal... With dance show ending life should be settling a little bit...

So changes happening in November... some good, some bad, some ugly...
- no more dance rehearsal
- signed up for a rock climbing class
- ski season begins
- new medicines for mom
- preparing for an art market
- getting information for sailing lessons next summer
- getting information for volunteering abroad next summer
- hoping beyond hope I can talk my way into anatomy class
- and... I am no longer a blonde.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

One Hell of a week ahead...

Show weeks are always really stressful! Spacing rehearsal, lighting rehearsal, tech run, dress run, show Thursday, Friday, Saturday plus any other last minute rehearsals the choreographer needs. (Everyone come to see The Odds: A Dance Concert with Things on a Stage this Thursday, Friday Saturday at the Marriott Center for Dance, U of U campus, 7:30 where I will be performing in a work by Shannon Vance- my first time on stage since graduating with a BFA!)

Test weeks are really stressful. I'm not a scientist, although I'm trying my best to do well in my science classes... it just is really hard for me. Class, quizzes, reviews, library marathons... STRESS!

What's really awesome is when show week and test week happen to be the same week. Ha- yeah!!! Thank goodness I was able to rope my professor into letting me start the physiology test an hour early (while missing another class) so that I can be done in time to have a full 30 minutes to run across campus throw some make up on, change, warm up, and hop on stage!

Of course... all classes and review sessions for test will be missed because of tech, dress, etc...

Thanksgiving can't come soon enough.

My heart starts pounding every time I think about this week more than one day at a time... systemic capillaries, systemic venules, systemic, veins, superior/inferior vena cava, right atrium, tricuspid (atrioventricular) valve, right ventricle, pulmonary semilunar valve, pulmonary trunk, pulmonary artery, pulmonary arterioles, pulmonary capillaries, pulmonary venules, pulmonary veins, left atrium, bicuspid/mitral/atrioventricular valve, left ventricle, aortic semilunar valve, aortic artery, systemic arterioles, systemic capillaries and all over again... sooooo much studying to do!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Epilepsy continued...

So my mother dear has been in town all week. Lucky me! I love having my mom around- a constant companion, a shopping buddy, giver of life advice, sharer of crocheted clothing opinions... plus I get to go out to eat all the time! Usually... that's what happens when my mom is in town. Not so this time. This was a medical visit. Over the last week my poor mother has had EEG's, MRI's, EKG's, several blood tests, and an ambulatory blood pressure test (with her arm inflating 3-4 times an hour). She's seen internists, neurologists ... and the list goes on.

I've written a few blogs now relating to epilepsy. I have a fresh view of it after yesterday's visit with my mother's neurologist. My mom has been feeling awful lately- and wondering if the root of it is her anti- epileptic drug. Her hope this week was to be told that she didn't need them anymore... no such luck. We were told that because epilepsy is a progressive disease, you are pretty much destined to be on Anit-Epileptic drugs for the rest of your life once you have had a seizure (because seizures cause brain damage that lead to more seizures, that lead to more brain damage and more seizures...) The doctor said that if any patient with mild epilepsy lived a thousand years they would reach intractable epilepsy (epilepsy that can not be treated with drugs). So... it is important to treat it while you still can.

The downside? Those drugs have some NASTY side effects. My mom has been on one medication and feeling completely terrible... so we googled the drug. The side effects include, but are not limited to... drowsiness, accidental injury, weakness, vomiting, infections, loss of appetite, runny nose, coughing, nervousness, neck pain, back pain, depression, mood swings, irritability, muscle weakness... and that's only half... Yesterday she decided to try switching meds - when we saw these side effects we were pumped! Maybe not taking this drug she would feel better... until we saw the side effects of the new drug ... headaches, shakiness, weakness, back pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, bronchitis, chest pain, fever, a rash that could send you to the burn unit of a hospital... again - not even half. I have to admit, I almost didn't want to read the list to her.

And these are what people suffer from who can be TREATED for the disease. Those that have to live with the effects of epilepsy have it even worse. I was BLOWN away that a disease that has been around for so long still destroys so many lives. On the plus side - spending the afternoon in the Neurosciences Center of the U of U made us realize how lucky we have it. Yes, my mother's health is poor... but there are a lot of people there in much worse shape. Donate to the Epilepsy Foundation if you can- help support research for new drugs. They are much needed.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Epilepsy is a disease that is close to my heart. I did a fundraiser for Epilepsy research when I was 16, my father has been researching it my whole life (and most of his), my grandfather had it after his stroke, and my mother might have a very mild form of it after living with a cyst in her brain.

More people have epilepsy than Parkinson's, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis COMBINED! That's about 3 million Americans, and one third of those people don't respond to treatment - that is ONE MILLION people living with seizures and brain damage!!! SCARY STUFF!

Epilepsy has been around forever, yet research on it has been slow. This is mainly because up until the last century people with epilepsy were viewed as being "possessed." It's a scary thing to watch someone have a seizure, so a lot of people are unaware of what epilepsy really is. As far as understanding the body, the brain is considered the last frontier. My dad is one smart dude- and all his buddies are pretty smart too. Yet I can see, in dealing with my mother's health issues, that there is still a lot they don't know. The brain is a tricky thing, composed of dendrites, axons, and synapses... how that translates into memories of chocolate cake or a brain disorder like epilepsy people don't really know for sure (although people like my dad have a pretty good idea- GO DAD!).

David Axelrod- Obama's senior advisor and right hand man - described Epilepsy as "terrorism of the brain" in yesterday's 60 Minutes episode. The Axelrods and one of my dad's colleagues from Harvard Med School appeared on the program yesterday to discuss Epilepsy. Check it out HERE.

Please take the time to watch it! (And for an interesting book on Temporal Lobe Epilepsy read Seized by Eve Laplant - read about that book in my earlier blog post about respecting the brain!)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Learning... oh what a joy.

Those that have heard me complain about school for the last few months probably assume that I say learning is a joy sarcastically... but I'm not. I'm actually really enjoying all that I am learning in my life right now (about the world and about myself). I think it is more the sudden switch to the sedentary life style that I'm not enjoying (stimulating lectures= fun, sitting on my couch alone studying= not so fun).

I realized after my trip to Ghana that I want to leave this world a better place than it was when I entered it. I love dance, and I firmly believe that the arts make the world a MUCH better place - no one can deny this. BUT, you have to be a really good artist to make a difference in the world. I'm a really good dancer, but am I a really good artist? Not so much. You can't be a good artist without having some knowledge of the world - and how much can one really learn about the world from inside the dance studio? You see where I am going with this... There are a few things that I have been doing lately (that all oddly seem to correlate) that are giving me a greater understanding of the world.

1 - I am going to class. (Good college student- actually making it to lecture! That is me) The classes that I am going to now, while boring at times, have all had at least a little something this year that has me completely intrigued. In my last blog I mentioned how interesting it has been to learn about identity in my Growth and Development class... next week we learn about the adjustments of young adulthood... I'm sure I will have many thoughts on that... Nutrition has also kept me much more intrigued than I had expected. Rather than simply learning about how many carbs/proteins/fats you should get, my teacher has done a great job of integrating into the class why nutrition is so important. The most interesting segments have been learning about Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies in developing countries and how those contribute to the growth of poverty. Physiology, although incredibly hard, has been sooooo intriguing! I love calling up both my younger sister and my dad and having physiology discussions with them. I always knew those two were smart, but I have been increasingly blown away by all that they know, and all the time they are willing to devote to our discussions to help me succeed (unlike them, science is not my forte). The most interesting lectures thus far have been those on the brain. My mother had brain surgery last year- and there are still some lasting problems with her processing center that no one can really put their finger on. Thinking about her symptoms and my attempts to diagnose her have been quite entertaining for me... probably not so much for her, but she puts up with my phone calls anyway.

2. I have been reading. A LOT. Much more than I ever have in my life- and I am learning so much. Right now I'm about 50 pages into Mountains Beyond Mountains a story about how one doctor has been able to change the world by treating people in Haiti for free. I'm completely captivated. It is so good to learn about the health conditions in Haiti- I already learned about its environmental conditions after reading Collapse. It is also interesting to think about how the lack of healthcare is mostly because of the extreme poverty level, but also CONTRIBUTES to the poverty level since people can't work when they are sick. This was a point that was highly emphasized in the book The End of Poverty. That book (along with my stay with my mom in the hospital) has really gotten me excited about this new path I have chosen in my life. The End of Poverty also captivated me because it discusses the economic situation of Ghana- a place I have been and love dearly because my short trip managed to change me so much. I have also been reading books about the brain, which of course relate back to my mother's health, my father's research, and my physiology class. The knowledge I have been gaining in this subject lets me feel like I am much more involved and supportive in their lives- which is only fair since they have been so supportive of mine.

3. I'm listening to the podcast, Stuff You Should Know (thanks to Emily for the recommendation). I would say it is my guilty pleasure, but really how guilty can you feel when you are learning stuff at the same time? It's pretty darn awesome. This is a recent addiction, so I haven't listened to that many, but those I have listened to continue to relate to my life. I listened intently for a good half hour as Josh and Chuck explained how a hangover works. I giggled throughout and was actually able to follow every single bit of what they shared - thank you, physiology class!!! I also sat for just as long with my face slightly twisted as they explained parasites. My sister LOVES parasites (she said she doesn't want to ever go to Africa because she knows too much about them... sad day). I'll have to get her opinion on their accuracy. Also, for a brief while, my own mother was being tested for parasites!!! Did you know that one can be living inside you for 30 years or more and you might never have a symptom!?!? (My mother spent her early twenties doing field work in Mexico... parasite? quite possibly.) Parasites have also been know to cause brain cysts... and since my mother had a cyst the size of a baseball in her frontal lobe, one does start to wonder. They also talked about a parasite that only exists in one country now days... Ghana. Glad I didn't know that, and that my sister didn't tell me, before I went. But this podcast isn't just science stuff - they also have several podcasts devoted to healthcare reform- a topic also highly relevant in my life. Plans for the weekend? Listening to podcasts and reading - no lie.

To close, there is some post college advice that I got that keeps me motivated it goes,
"Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded, but trust me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked." Trying my best the enjoy the power and beauty I have now! Off to the library to read up on some Pub-Med. Learning... oh what a joy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am a dancer? Identity continued...

So... long day... filled with thinking. (My brain is a bit tired...) 1 hour of yoga - best part of the day, 3 hours of cramming for an exam, 3 hours of growth and development class, 2 hours of nutrition class, 2 hour long absolutely KILLER exam, and then 3 hours of rehearsal... I'm glad to be home and done with the day. Now that my brain is no longer completely occupied with Physiology (yay for test being over) my thoughts have returned to my identity crisis... which is not so much a crisis as an investigation.

In a weird coincidence we spent a very long time talking about identity in both my development class AND dance rehearsal... very fitting. We were talking about teens and how they struggle to find an identity. There are three things that can happen. First, there is identity foreclosure, where people don't ever really learn to think for themselves, simply adopting the same views of the world that their parents have. I can thank my time in the IB program for never having this as my identity. Yes, my religious and political views are basically the same as my parents, but I've reached those conclusions myself through understanding... yay. The second thing that can happen is identity diffusion, where you don't really care about the person you become or the things you do with your life. I can thank my time as a dancer for that- always keeping me focused on goals and caring about people and my role in the world. The final and most beneficial approach to finding an identity is identity moratorium. This is where you take time to explore all the possibilities in the world, remain goal focused, but are able to welcome change in your life (also known as going to college). I'm glad to hear this is the most healthy because it is what I am going through right now. There have been many times this semester that I have worried my decision to take a break from dance has been a mistake because it has been such a significant part of my life and so completely shaped who I have become. As I mentioned in my last blog, being a dancer has been my identity. Now I'm exploring what else is out there, and even though I complain about studying and I miss dance class a lot... I'm really happy. I'm doing stuff that I never had time to do before - like yoga - and I love it!

We also discussed this in rehearsal. I'm performing the week before Thanksgiving in a friend's masters thesis dance. She just showed the piece to the faculty. Overall, they like the movement, but want more from it. Shannon has given us the assignment of trying to find our identity within the movement- and what it means to us. So yes, I have a lot of identities to find and a lot of soul searching to do. And getting there is all the fun.

The rest of my soul searching will be saved for another day. For now I'm happy watching Family Guy and drinking a Fat Tire (before I work all day tomorrow on my nutrition project that I've procrastinated...) Long day finished and it feels so good.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am a dancer!

SO... now that I am done with the dance program, I am having a bit of an identity crisis. I have been dancing since I was 4 - so since I was 4 I have always said I am a dancer. 18 years later - I'm not dancing for the first time in my life- so can I still call myself a dancer?

I went out in Denver this weekend with my good friends from high school. What an awesome night in downtown Denver! I met a lot of fabulous new people. Of course at the bar I couldn't help but bop to the music - even if I was the only one doing it... A new friend looked to me and said, "I like you, you're a dancer!" She said this without even knowing I've spent the last 18 years of my life dancing, with the last 4 being devoted to my BFA. It was comforting to have her identify me as a dancer without even knowing how true that statement is. YAY - I am a dancer- always have been, always will be. It's always good to be reminded!

Monday, October 12, 2009

5 Weddings Down- YES, FIVE!

Yes, this year I have had 5 very dear friends get married. Diana called me the other day to say she was watching the movie 27 Dresses and thought of me. This weekend it was Rachel and Nate (Nachel) and Gina and Teauger. Sadly- they were on the same day and in different states. Had they been in the same city- I probably would have pulled the same move as Katherine Heigl and paid a cab driver to take me back and forth...

So anyway- I went to Washington for the weekend and played the roll of photographer's assistant (allowing me to get some awesome pics myself) and witness on the marriage license for Rachel and Nate. The wedding was held in the backyard of their friend Anthony in the midst of a beautiful Washington forrest in Gig Harbor. Sarah (Rachel's sister) and I spent the morning helping Rachel get ready - lots of hair curling, make up doing, etc. Once ready, they took some beautiful pictures in the beautiful backyard.

Their wedding ceremony was very small- no more than 30 people. And there was no sitting or marching in... we all stood in a circle around Rachel and Nate. There was a great circle theme throughout the wedding - the rings, donuts instead of cake (YUM)... etc. The ceremony was performed by their good friend Mike - who did a beautiful job and even included some Dr. Seuss - like wedding vows. (I will love you for richer or poorer, quiet or snorer - haha- you get the idea.) AND ultimately the best part of the wedding was how fabulously I watched two families come together, and even though I technically wasn't a part of either- I now feel like I am. I was treated with such kindness, I couldn't even believe it. Really a truly fantastic wedding!

Also on this trip I realized how much I really love Washington. I have only spent two long weekends there (the last one being my sophomore year of high school). But some places just feel like they fit- and Washington is one of them. I was absolutely obsessed with catching the perfect picture of Mt. Rainier while I was there. Before I saw the mountain I naively made the comment that it wouldn't be that impressive since I grew up surrounded by the 14ers of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I was wrong- when I looked out my posh hotel room of the Hotel Murano and really caught a glimpse for the first time I was completely amazed! So amazingly beautiful... and I woke up to a view of it each morning I was there! Rachel is trying to convince me to move, and I have to admit it is something I would definitely consider doing once school is over!

Congrats Rachel and Nate and Gina and Teauger! Much Love!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A mother-daughter story

My New Year's resolution for 2009 was to read more- and for the first time in my life I have actually kept a New Year's resolution and I am hooked. I just finished reading the book Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor - and I started it less than 24 hours ago... I originally started this blog as a means of documenting my travels (because as Sue brilliantly states at the end, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection"), but it has also become a blog about my retrospection of the amazing books I have been reading. Amazon recommended this novel to me saying, "In this intimate dual memoir, Sue and her daughter Ann, offer distinct perspectives as a fifty-something and a twenty-something each on a quest to redefine herself and to rediscover each other as they travel through Greece and France." I was immediately intrigued. First- I love reading about people who have also been places I have been. Having just returned from Greece myself, I was curious. Second - I am a twenty- something, my mother is a fifty- something - my life seemed oddly paralleled with the contents of this book so I ordered it and decided to give it a try.

Oddly paralleled is putting it mildly- I feel as though I am living this book. Ann travels to Greece multiple times (3 times by the book's end) because she is so completely captivated by it. In the last 4 years, I have made it to Greece TWICE and would never turn down a chance to go again - like Ann - I feel a strong connection to Greece's history, mythology, and breath taking beauty. It is impossible to be in Greece and not feel like you are right with everything in the world. Ann and I also did many similar things on our trips. I too hiked to the oracle at Delphi- the navel of the world - and reflected on those infamous lines from Oedipus Rex where he too made the trek. I too ran a race in the stadium of Olympia - breathing the same air and inhabiting the same space as the athletes of ancient times. I too traveled through the Plaka market enjoying lunch outside at a beautiful Taverna. I too marveled at the beauty of the Greek Orthodox church near Syntagma Square and watched the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament Building. I have enjoyed the sunset over Athens from a hotel rooftop while admiring the Acropolis, and I have joined a handsome Greek gentleman, at a lively dinner, after being asked to dance with him in his foustanella with 400 pleats. I have hiked in the winds of Mykonos and stood breath taken in front of Ephesus in Turkey - one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. I love reading about someone who has shared these experiences.

Sue, the mother, is in her fifties and trying to relate to her now grown daughter. She struggles with her feelings of herself as a mother- comparing herself to her own mother. She fears she has been too involved in her writing career and not enough of a home maker. I wonder if my own mother ever has these fears. If she does- I would tell her she is the perfect combination of both. She managed to stay up all night sewing my old ice skating dresses while also getting her PhD and continually proving to me she is the most intelligent woman I know. She has been a brilliant role model and a system of constant support. Sue also is trying to resolve her feelings of getting older, fearing death, and maintaining her health as she ages (having to take a blood pressure machine with her on travels for her hypertension). These are feelings I know my own mother has because we have talked about them. My mom is at this moment trying to find a time to visit her doctors in Utah (and me) to have her most recent round of MRI's, EEG's, endless doctors visits, and an ambulatory blood pressure test. Sue eventually recovers from her hypertension, and I can only hope that my mother recovers from her own ailments SOON!!! I miss having an active mother that will go on Grecian adventures with me and I want her to feel better - I don't feel like I am old enough to have a mother with severe health issues and I know my mom doesn't feel old enough to be bothered by severe health issues... Sue also wonders how her work has a place in the world and how it will make the world better. I think my mom is probably too preoccupied with her health to be too concerned by that issue at the moment- but I know, after traveling to Ghana, that this is an issue that I hope to address in my own life.

Ann, the daughter, has recently graduated from college and is struggling with what to do with her life. She is torn between her more creative side (writing) and a life's work that will also pay the bills. In her post college life she begins to doubt all that she is capable of, even though she is clearly a girl of many talents. She is a shy introvert who is smart, but not brilliant, who is known for her kindness and occasionally quotes the modern dance great Isadora Duncan. (Um yeah, hi! Ann - Sara, Sara- Ann... we are pretty much the same person!)

The only difference between me and Ann is that I have never struggled with telling my mother anything about my life. In fact- she is usually the first person I will tell. My own mother and I have always been very close, but I feel like we have become even closer over the last year. I have been struggling with the "what will I do with my life?" question for a good long while now, and it occasionally gets me down- my mother is always the perfect person to share my worries with. I know my mother has also been having a very difficult year ever since her brain surgery almost 10 months ago (jeez- time flies!). I hope that she feels she can turn to me in the same ways I know I can turn to her. We have both had a year of worries. I worry about my life, but I also worry so so so much about my mom- and I know that she spends a lot of her time worrying about me. We have really been there for each other this year - from late night phone calls about senior concert, to hand holding at doctors visits, graduation from college, getting all of her hair chopped off, my bad breakups, and a Christmas occupied with movie marathon sleep overs and watching the snow fall from the windows of University Hospital - I know I wouldn't have made it through this year without her and I hope she feels the same way about me.

Ann recounts a story from when they were in France saying, "I glance over at my mother. Her eyes are closed, her fingers interlocked. I wonder what her prayers are about. Her novel? Her blood pressure? Peace on earth?... I'm filled with a love for my mother. The best gift she has given me is the constancy of her belief. Whatever I become, she loves me. To her, I am enough... Then after a few moments of wondering, I come out and ask her, 'What did you pray for back there on the kneeler?' 'You,' she answers." ... Sue later tells Ann in a bit of advice, "You deserve to love yourself." I can picture this situation, with these exact words coming out of my own mother's mouth. I have so realized, this year especially, how lucky I am to have her in my life.

The book ends well - they both find happiness and self acceptance and acceptance of one another and all that love and greatness... It is good to see that light at the end of the tunnel, because right now as I study endlessly for physiology while missing dance and my mother keeps feeling worse and worse... it is good to know that that light will one day be reached. Sue and Ann learn so much about one another while in Greece... when my mother's health returns - we are going. No doubt in my mind!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Respect for the BRAIN!

As a dancer, I have a lot of respect for bodies. They are capable of so much! This has been helpful since I'm learning probably more than I ever thought I could know about body function in physiology class. We recently started learning about the central nervous system - just in time for me to finish reading the book Siezed by Eve Laplante.

Siezed was recommended to me by my mother. We've enjoyed sharing thoughts on books this year. The brain has always been something I've had at least a vague interest in. My father works remarkably hard- doing brain research. He's conducted this research my whole life, and even won research awards from the Epilepsy Society and years worth of grants from the NIH (National Institute of Health). You can imagine how terrified he was to hear that my mother had a grand mal seizure last year at work - he knows the implications of something like that.

I like to think I have a broader knowledge of epilepsy and all that it entails thanks to my father's research and my mother's health. But I learned so much from reading this book- another book that I truly believe all should read. The book discussed how so often those with epilepsy try to hide it because they think those who know they have the disease will think less of them for it. How terrible to have an illness and feel the need to hide it from the world when it has such a great affect on your quality of life.

Siezed focuses primarily on those with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE), a kind of disease I think most have never even heard of. People with TLE don't always have the typical seizure that the general public pictures when they hear the word. They don't physically seize- but their brain does. Some of these most would not even recognize as a seizure (my mother didn't even with a brain researcher for a husband.) Ever had deja vu? The deja vu feeling is brought on by activity in your brain that resembles a seizure. Don't worry - having deja vu doesn't mean you have epilepsy... The sensation of "jamais vu" is a form of seizure. It is like deja vu in reverse- you are in a familiar place- a street you drive everyday for example- but can't figure out which way to go. A strong smell - known as an aura - can be a form of seizure or a sign a seizure is coming. Not being able to speak, when you know you should - seizure. A feeling of doom- seizure. Obsessiveness - could be a seizure... and worst of all - the altering of your personality - seizure, and symptom of TLE. This disease is so life altering- and so difficult to treat (anticonvulsants have little affect on most).

Other interesting facts I gained from this book? Chubby brown-eyed babies tend to be quite gregarious while skinny blue-eyed babies are often shy (explains my occasional shyness- I was a very skinny, very blue-eyed baby...). Most people we now consider geniuses most likely had TLE- or at least displayed many of its symptoms. Hypergraphia (a symptom of TLE where you write endlessly) is believed to be the reason we have such works as Crime and Punishment or Notes from the Underground. Van Gogh's personality quirks as a result of TLE could have been why he cut off his own ear... and the list goes on and on. Similarly, many people incarcerated for violent crimes could be victims of TLE... A tiny scar on your brain from a head bump, a fever, even deprivation of oxygen at birth, all could lead to TLE... There is just so much that is unknown about the brain and it manages to be terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

So anyway... read this book - it helps with your world awareness - always a good thing. You might even learn something about your own brain! Mostly I learned that there is still a lot that we have left to learn... No one can claim they complete understand the workings of the brain... It is our body's last frontier...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Perfect Fall Evening

Last night I met up with my friend Brittney and some of her friends for the perfect fall evening- what a blast. We packed a picnic and drove down to Provo (ick, home of the team down south- amongst BYU fans fresh off a win over Colorado State- oh no!) and headed up Provo Canyon for a night hike. After dark, at around 8:30 we headed up Diamond Fork Trail and an hour later arrived at the Fifth Water Hot Springs! We were thinking we might be the only ones up there so late, but the place was packed!!! To avoid the crowds we headed to the springs that were a bit hotter a little further up near a beautiful waterfall and encountered a few skinny dippers with their dog. We eventually figured out our perfect peaceful place - away from the crowds - just near the waterfall where the cold water met up with the hot. It was a balancing act, and we had to keep the water moving to avoid being scalded on one side and frozen on the other... but ultimately our private waterfall grotto was worth it. After opening some wine and fresh fruit- we turned off the headlamps and flashlights and admired the stars for hours until our fingers got pruney.

I didn't get any pictures, because it was so dark (what- Sara without pictures???), but this is what the springs look like in the daylight. This is a hike I am definitely going back to- very very soon. Such a fantastic night!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

3 Weddings down... 1 (or 2) to go...?

My best friend, Diana Neal, got married last week to Tyler Timothy... finally. Haha, I say this jokingly because they have been dating for almost 7 years! They are high school sweethearts and since all us dancers just graduated from college, it was the perfect time to finally tie the knot.

KJ - the playa- look at all those lovely ladies!

The ladies!!!

I was a witness on their marriage license!!!

Bride and Bridesmaids!

Diana and Tyler's first dance!!!

The ceremony took place in the Old Meeting House in Salt Lake City, UT. Both their families were there and everyone looked fabulous! It was a beautiful, small ceremony, followed by a fantastic reception filled with good friends and dancing to a jazz band! Beautiful evening! They are in Mexico right now- having a blast on their honeymoon- and I can't wait till they come back and start their new lives together as husband and wife! (Last time Diana was out of town, it was with me in Greece... so I can't wait for her to come home!)

Next wedding(s) - Rachel and Nate in Washington on October 10th... Gina and Teaguer ALSO get married on the 10th... I'm excited to see Rachel, but sad to miss Gina's ... weddings, weddings, weddings!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Girls Getting into Trouble- the Bachelorette Party of Diana Neal

Several members of the class of 09 reunited to celebrate Diana's last night out!!! It was so so so nice to all get together again! Nothing like seeing a pack of girls together having a ball!

After meeting downtown and decorating my dad's car with "hot chick outta control" stickers, the night officially began with dinner at Cafe Trio - a Salt Lake favorite. Good food and good company! We got several stares from the other restaurant goers - 8 great girls laughing and having a good time- we may have dominated the restaurant a little.

Next... well... I can check going to a strip club off my to do list. Yes we did. Good times. We even learned how to make it rain dolla billz on the dancers. Although, I must admit, you have to have skillz to get our dolla billz - our BFA's make us a tough audience.

Next stop: Cisero's on Main Street in Park City. It was rather deserted since none of the skiiers have arrived yet, but that only worked to our advantage. The few guys that were there were only too happy to have us arrive and paid for our drinks the rest of the night. The bartender got dolla billz rained on him as well... had to put our new skill to good use.

Our adventure then took us to Destiny's family cabin in the mountains outside of Heber. We had a bit of trouble finding it on the crazy dark dirt road at 2 in the morning... but the cabin was worth the search complete with hot tub, pool table, home theater (and recliners), and the 6 or so bedrooms. After our epic sleepover we sadly had to return home for class/work/life. Too bad... Great Night! Much love to the class of 09 and congrats to Diana! MY BEST FRIEND GETS MARRIED TOMORROW!!! YAAAAAAAY!!!!!

2 weddings down 2 to go!

Camille and Cameron got married last weekend! Yes, I am doing homework on a Friday night, and of course taking a break to document the fun that was had! Camille was a fabulous bride... the zipper on her dress split right before the ceremony... I would have cried - but Camille handled it with complete grace. If she had any nervousness, she didn't show it - she had so much poise.
Highlight of the wedding... the bride joined the kids in the blow up jumpy castle thing. Then was joined by her husband- then of course joined by her dance friends. We didn't let our pretty dresses keep us from having some good barefooted fun.

Camille and Cameron met skiing at Snowbird a few years back. For those that know Camille, this is not surprising. These two are going to have so many skiing, river rafting, mountain climbing adventures - I can't wait to see all the fun they have! Much love!

Silly dancers fighting over the bouquet!

Diana and Tyler get married tomorrow! Can't wait!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Can't believe it's been 8 years!

I am home watching footage of September 11, 2001 - a day that changed the lives of so many people in this country and the world. I was so young when this happened - watching the old footage still brings tears and I watch with dread knowing they will fall. When the first plane hit I was home doing my hair, getting ready for school. There was radio footage on the drive to school - it sounded like a big deal, but they wouldn't say what happened ... we thought it was a radio host getting worked up about a Denver Bronco's broken leg. By the time I got to class I laughed when someone told me a plane had crashed into a building in New York. It sounded so ridiculous - what a silly mistake. We watched the news instead of class and a little while later watched the towers fall on live TV. Watching something like this happen in front of you changes you and your thoughts about the world. How heartbreaking that something so dreadful could happen in the world we live in.

In memory of all who died that day... sending love out into the world.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


9/9/9 is shaping up to be a BIG NIGHT! If I could be 4 places at once tonight, I would...

1. Diana's bridal shower- where I will actually be and obviously the most important...

2. Physiology class - where I will regret not being come class Monday...


4. Watching Obama talk about Health Reform!

Where is the Harry Potter time-turner when you need it?!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A dance blog at the U! YESSSSS!!!

So... I was logging on to the University of Utah website yesterday and saw news about this blog- the U's Red Thread - and recognized a very familiar name. My former professor, Steve Koester, will be writing weekly about the TV show, So You Think You Can Dance! I know I will be a regular reader, and everyone else should too!

I have taken many classes with Steve - most recently a class called "contemporary views" where we discussed what makes art and what makes dance - not as much of a straight forward definition as you would think. On a particular day, SYTYCD was actually a topic we discussed. Steve has a knack for making you think about things and picking them apart in a way that you would not have done on you own... and ultimately you are more satisfied with your understanding even though the process might be frustrating. For example: One day we were asked to give a definition of what dance is. All of our definitions were similar with subtle differences. Then we were asked to define art - what is art? And finally entertainment- what is entertainment? How does it differ from art? and how is it the same? Then we watched this video. . .

REALLY WATCH IT!!! Does this fit in your definitions? Is it dance? Is it art? Is it entertainment? Does it make you want to change your definitions at all? ... excellent thoughts to ponder upon.

I myself go back and forth with my love of the show SYTYCD. It's a fun show, I love watching dance on mainstream media, and really it's just incredibly entertaining. And that's just it - it's my guilty pleasure - it's entertaining, but is it art? Not really. And my modern dance mind gets bothered by that sometimes. There was an episode a few years back that had a dance that was a little different, out of the ordinary, but still beautiful and actually a little bit thought provoking. It was completely trashed by the judges because in the words of Nigel Lythgoe, "I didn't understand it, and I don't like things I can't understand." At that moment I realized why they never have modern dance on the show. I have studied modern dance intensively for the last 4 years and I still see modern dances that I don't understand- but they make me think - and that's a good thing!!! SYTYCD is promoting dance as entertainment in a really big way which is totally awesome, but are we losing the art part of it at the same time?

Steve is the king of thought provoking. I went to see a show last year that was all his own choreography - amazing. The final piece had absolutely beautiful dancing, but ultimately I remember the meaning and feelings I got from it. It began by introducing his dancers... I-Phen Ling, this age, her marital status, weight, height, Taiwanese, NOT Chinese, and then began listing off these incredible insights about her, and down the line with every dancer. At times they were interesting little known facts, and then sometimes I felt like that fact was so private, I didn't have the right to know it. What courage for those performers to be so exposed - physically and emotionally. Later in the dance he started asking questions of the audience... Have you ever stolen something? Did you lie about it? Have you cheated? Of course answers were not expected - but it got you thinking. And you could feel the entire audience go stiff not only thinking about the times they have done those things, but now wondering about the times the person sitting next to them has. It was quite uncomfortable watching that dance, but man did you learn a lot from it!

I could summarize all the awesome things Steve says... or you could just read the blog. Do that.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Yesterday, I posted this as my facebook status: "No one should die because they cannot afford healthcare and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree post this as your status for the rest of the day." Many friends of mine had this posted as well... and a few commented on it... "You get what you pay for" etc. Yes- I can understand that view... you get what you pay for... STILL no one should DIE because they cannot afford healthcare and no one should go BROKE because they get sick...

Ok, I know views on healthcare can be a touchy topic. A lot of people are for universal healthcare, or a public option, and a lot of people are against it. A lot of people fear having the government run something so important- because we all know they don't always run things that well... people are worried the quality of healthcare will go down... worried that you will be put on a list and not be able to get the care you need... lots of worries. I understand these worries - change can be scary! BUT I really do think change needs to happen and this is why...

Take for example my parents. Both are PhD educated, both have worked hard their whole lives, have jobs they are great at that contribute to the world, raised a good family, and saved for retirement. They are pretty set financially and are only a few years away from completely owning a beautiful home in Colorado where they can spend their later years. They also have fantastic health insurance - which really came in handy when my mother needed brain surgery last December... because brain surgery is expensive and unexpected and even my parents savings could not have covered it. My dad is almost 62 - in a few years he will be 65 - he could retire and be eligible for medicare. The problem here is that my mother is 10 years younger than my dad - and her job has no health insurance. If my dad were to retire at 65, he would be eligible for medicare, but my mother would not. Because she now has a pre-existing condition- it would be close to impossible to find fairly priced health insurance for her. Seizure medication, EEG's, and another brain surgery would be impossible for my family to pay for without insurance if my mother ever needed it... If something happened where my dad could no longer work and my mother's health got worse, health bills could only be paid by selling the family house... Should my parents lose their house because of bad health and healthcare policies?

I recently met a woman who just became a single mom. She has four children under the age of four! She told me that she has to make less than $700 a month to qualify for Medicaid. She gets paid $1100 a month in child support... so that option is out. The cheapest health insurance she could find for her family is $900 a month. Of course that is out of the question for them. She is currently trying to find a job with health benefits - until then... let's hope everyone stays healthy- right?

I read a TIME magazine article about a man who got fired from his job and lost his health insurance. He was working a job without health benefits for 3 years. During those 3 years he had temporary health insurance in 6 month installments... he didn't buy better health insurance because he was hoping to again find a job that covered him. 2 and a half years into those 3 years his kidneys started to fail. He was covered for the next 6 months... when he tried to get another 6 month installment of health insurance he was viewed as a new customer by that company with a previous condition and was denied further coverage. He now has no health insurance- because no one would cover him- and can't work because of his rapidly declining health... what is he to do? He always had health insurance... but it's not doing him any good now.

Yes, all those concerns about universal healthcare are legitimate. BUT the current system is not working. You don't always get what you are paying for. No one should die because they can't afford healthcare, and no one should go broke because they get sick.

Period. Exclamation point.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sans Limites Crochet goes online!

My project for this three day weekend is to do some investigating and get my small farmer's market booth online!!! YEAH! I have been crocheting since I was 9 years old. In the beginnings, I sold some items on the Colorado State University campus just days after my 16th birthday and donated the money to the Epilepsy Foundation ( My senior year of high school, shocked like the rest of the world by the Tsunami just after Christmas, I held another sale at CSU along side UNICEF and again donated the money (

Now that I am a college student (and becoming a professional college student, so it would seem) I have been taking the little profit for myself. 3 years ago, I officially started Sans Limites Crochet and woke up at 5 AM every Saturday to drive all my stuff down to Pioneer Park and set up for the Farmer's Market. The summer after that I sold at the Farmer's Market, the Park Silly Sunday Market, and the Sugarhouse Art Fair. This year with all my travels, adventures, and weddings, keeping a regular business has been impossible. SOOO... since my stock of crocheted hats keeps growing... I am attempting to move it online! Keep an eye on Etsy- a website kind of like Ebay only it is specifically for handmade arts - an account of mine should be popping up there soon!

And in the mean time... there is now a facebook fan page. Check it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Some Tea Tag Wisdom

I am pretty well - behaved when it comes to the liquids I consume. I don't drink soda unless I'm on an airplane and it's free. I don't drink coffee unless it is that mostly milk version from starbucks on an early morning road trip with me as the driver. And I rarely consume any alcoholic beverages, although I am currently sipping on a New Belgium Fat Tire only in honor of both the Tour de Fat AND the Rocky Mountain Showdown all going down this weekend in Colorado. Tea is my only vice. So I consume a lot of it in all sorts of varieties.

Normally I am loyal to Celestial Seasonings (another fabulous company from COLORADO!) but lately I've been drinking Yogi Tea. Since I am no longer dancing 6ish hours a day I'm trying to do at least an hour of yoga every morning in between all my studying, so I thought some Yogi tea would be fitting. By far the best part about it is the tea tag wisdom that I am greeted with each morning. I start my day with sayings such as...

"Love what is ahead by loving what has come before."
(Very fitting for a recent college grad that finds herself back in school and is trying to adjust.)

"The beauty of life is to experience yourself."

"The art of happiness is to serve all."

"Share your strengths, not your weaknesses."

"You are remembered for your goodness."

and most importantly... "Keep Up."

Thank you, Yogi Tea, for my much needed morning encouragement now that I find myself in classes where I no longer feel like the expert.

Now onto some studying ... most likely with a friendly cup of tea.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fabulous Friends!

I'm not going to lie... this first week of school has been difficult. I'm still adjusting to not seeing the people I love everyday and sitting through all of class...

Annie and I had a stitch and bitch today - more bitching (almost 5 hours worth), less stitching. Even though we are both quite confused about what to do and what we want out of life at the moment - we both agree we wouldn't change our time in the dance department for anything. We have learned so much about ourselves, about people, and about the world. I think I have gained a greater sense of empathy after being involved in the fine arts. I have also made some of the best friends I will ever find. I can completely relate to them, and we can finish each other's sentences. The few friends I have seen this week have completely saved it. I am so grateful for them and I know that they are going to help me through any difficulties I might face this year.

Beyond being absolutely gorgeous, and incredibly talented, my friends are also impressively intelligent, caring, and supportive people. I've said this before, but I know they are going to change the world. They have changed me and enriched my life in so many ways!

Thank you April, Diana, and Annie for brightening my week.

I also spent three hours in rehearsal at the dance building this morning on a lovely Saturday. Just like old times and feelin' good.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School... or something like it.

Today classes began at the University of Utah. I have mixed feelings. Yes, I am back in class- even after walking around in a silly gown and carrying a diploma in May. I don't know if I would call today my first DAY of class, since I only had one class... and I only have one class tomorrow... and no classes on Friday. This is school??? I'm used to spending all day everyday plus weekends doing school related dance classes, rehearsals, activities, etc. When I first signed up for classes I thought this would be an awesome schedule with lots of free time and plenty of time to work. Still might be true, but seeing as how I am still jobless (I'm not TECHNICALLY a CNA yet- still 3 tests to go...) I am feeling pretty lazy and I don't like it. I'm very restless... AH!

In addition to all that... I'm used to walking into a familiar building I call home, knowing all my professors, knowing and loving all my classmates, dancing away my first day of school nerves, and spending the day with my best friends on the first day of school. Today had none of that. I am just another number in a huge lecture hall with a bunch of unfriendly science nerds.

On the plus side, I'm really interested in physiology and I got to wear jeans to class instead of sweat pants... here's hoping for a better tomorrow.

Life in the dance building...

vs. Life in the lecture hall...

Can't blame me for being a little disappointed today!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Growing Old - Part 2

Today was my last nursing assistant clinical.   I have spent the last few days preparing to enter the nursing home and then actually aiding nurses aides (yes- I am at the very very bottom of the healthcare ladder) in some nursing homes in and around the Salt Lake City area.  It has been an interesting experience - one I think I am still in the process of reflecting on. 

Some of the residents amazed me.  For example, I met one fabulously beautiful woman and former model that just had her 100th birthday!  She is one of the few residents still up and walking around and has a beautiful picture of her family on her night stand that includes FIVE generations!  Very impressive - what a long and beautiful life she has lived!

I also met a resident that was new to the home, having arrived only the night before.  Imagine her confusion at being in a new place, with someone completely in charge of her life, dictating what you eat and when, what you wear...  I didn't fully grasp what a difficult adjustment each of these residents have gone through until I saw it today.  I wish her the best...

Mostly- I witnessed my own limitations.  The most basic being that I should probably lift some weights before I ever get a job in a nursing home... my arms are severely lacking in the necessary muscle.  Those CNA's work very hard over there and even with TWO students helping, there was never a restful moment.  After only a few days I am so much more exhausted than I would be after hours and hours of dancing. I commend them all so much for what they do! 

Monday, August 17, 2009

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

I just finished reading All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes by Maya Angelou.  Maya Angelou has a gift with words and incite on life- we all know this.  I had heard many great things about her, but this is the first book of hers that I have read (sad I know).  This book is part five in her six book autobiography that begins with the greater known I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  Why start with book five, you may ask?  Because it is a description of Maya Angelou's life in Ghana - a country near and dear to my heart.

Ground Nut (Peanut Butter) Soup

It was really interesting for me to read this book, having been many of the places she describes.  Being a dancer, Ms. Angelou mentions what a high it is to dance in Ghana - oh how I can relate!  Her talk of plantains, kasava, and ground nut soup had my mouth watering - I know the feeling of walking through the markets in Accra - I remember trying so hard to get that snap at the end of the handshake that is tradition there, and I also have visited the dance department at the University of Ghana.  

The only way out of the "room of no return" at Elmina Slave Castle - onto a waiting slave ship

Angelou also speaks briefly of her visit to the Gold Coast - now known as Cape Coast - where she saw Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle - both sights that held slaves before they were put on boats and sent to the "new world" as part of the slave trade.  I visited Elmina Castle on my trip, and still get the chills when I think about all that happened there.  This was the only place I can remember being in my whole life where just the act of being there moved me to tears.  I felt like an emotional mess while visiting the castle, and to point out the obvious, I'm definitely European in my ancestry.  The place had such a lasting effect on me, I can  only imagine the effect when you know your own ancestors survived through an ordeal like that.  I can tell you that my grandparents were Czech, some Irish... I have that background that I can identify with.  Many black Americans are missing that sense of culture and identity.  Were they Ewe?  Ashanti? Ga?  Were they even from Ghana?  Angelou herself finds some closure on this topic while in Ghana.  

At Elmina Slave Castle

Angelou is also in Ghana during the height of the Civil Rights movement.  In fact, at the same time Martin Luther King Jr. was organizing the march in Washington D.C., black Americans in Ghana were organizing one of a similar nature at the American Embassy.  The march in Ghana also becomes a memorial of sorts for W.E.B. Du Bois, the Harvard educated father of pan-Africanism and a social rights activist who called Ghana his home in his later years.  On my trip I was lucky enough to visit his former home near Accra which has been turned into a museum in his honor.  It was interesting to hear Ms. Angelou discuss her time in Ghana especially during that point in history.  Understandably so, blacks were unhappy with the United States at the time and viewed it as an unjust and racist country; many came to Ghana as a means of escape hoping to find a sense of belonging.  However, they were no longer Africans either, and felt a sense of ultimately belonging nowhere.  What a difficult struggle to overcome.

W.E.B. Du Bois Museum
Ultimately, I don't know if EVERYONE would enjoy this book as much as I did...  but I DO think everyone should go to Ghana, and then you will love this book too.  It left me with much more insight and subjects to ponder upon.  

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Growing Old

I have spent almost 70 hours this week in class training to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).  I am two nursing home clinicals, two tests, and a CPR class short of being ready to enter the job world as a CNA.  

What does a CNA do you might ask?  CNA's work in hospitals and doctors offices, but you will see them mostly in nursing homes, working with the elderly.  They help with the activities of daily living (ADL's).  This means we help residents walk if they are unsteady, eat if they are too weak to do it themselves, go to the bathroom, and shower - all things that can become increasingly difficult and less private as you age.  

Aging is a tricky thing.  You gain so much wisdom and perspective on life, but you also lose some of the basic mechanics of your body- joints, hearing, seeing.  Is it worth the trade? As a dancer, I am acutely aware of how completely amazing the body is in its functions - your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own.  I can't imagine losing my ability to control it, because that is what I take such great pride in.

I am generally a positive person, but I can't say how I would react if I lost control of my body.  Some are continually amazing in their grace; some are forever saddened by their loss of control... who is to say which way you will be...  either way, I think this experience will help me regain my appreciation for my youth and gain a fresh zest for life and its awesomeness... let's hope... we will see when I report for clinicals Wednesday at 6 in the morning... more reflections to come!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Conquering my fears

I have lamented in past blogs how completely terrified of heights I am... but this past weekend I took one step towards conquering that fear.  In fact... I have done 2 amazing things in the last year that would have made my knees wobble not too long ago.

Last year I walked over a rope bridge in the rainforest in Ghana.  This bridge was above the canopy... the tallest trees in the forest.  I was scared all day and didn't think I was going to be able to make it across.  I did and it was so beautiful!  I'm so glad I was able to walk over that hurdle, even if  my legs were shaking in the beginning. 

I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my friend Emma (and saw my dad every now and then since we stayed with him while he was at his medical conference).  Among many fun sight seeing activities (strolling near Obama's old crib, Millenium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier...) I was actually the one who suggested a trip to the top of Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower).  Yes my friends, I suggested a trip to a building that held the record of tallest building in the world until 1996.  AND when we were 103 floors up, I actually stepped out onto the skydeck and looked straight down... some major courage on my part.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One wedding down... Three to go!

Yes, my friends, it is wedding season.  Being a college grad, along with all my friends, it is time to get married! (No worries- it is still a far away happening for myself!)  However, many of my nearest and dearest are getting ready to tie the knot!

This past weekend I was a bridesmaid for the wedding of Sarah and Howard Cordingly (formerly Sarah Fields).  Sarah and I were roommates our first semester of college.  We became fast friends! I remember meeting Howard for the first time (only a week or so after she met him) and thinking they were going to get married someday!  They met while Howard was on leave from the army, at the time stationed in Germany.  They talked on the phone everyday for almost a year, and she went to visit him for a European Christmas.  They have been living together ever since his return - very romantic.  

Their wedding was absolutely beautiful.  It took place at Hamilton's Restaurant up in Logan - it was set up beautifully and had delicious food after.  The ceremony was short- just the way I like it- but amazingly sweet.  There were amazing guitar players for both the ceremony and reception - I love guitar -  touching musicians and a blast to dance to.  We continued celebrating the rest of the day at Sarah's parents house with more awesome music and great food.  Sarah and Howard have some amazing friends that are great people and easy to get along with.  After this weekend, I am lucky enough to call them my friends as well!  Sarah was the PERFECT bride!  She was breathtakingly beautiful and amazingly calm and laid back.  The biggest congrats to them both with so much love!!!
The bride and her entourage!
Still to go... Camille and Cameron - a friend from the dance department, Diana and Tyler - my best friend, and Rachel and Nate - one of the few girls I can talk on the phone with for hours and spill just about everything to.  I'm so glad my loves have found love!!!
The wedding party!