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.