... dance, fitness, food, health, life...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hi there.

Coronado Beach sunset

Well, howdy. It's been a hot minute.

I've missed this. I miss the writing, the community, and getting on my soapbox from time to time (ha!). As spring slowly thaws out Pittsburgh, my writing muscles are thawing out, too.

I have things I want to share with you. Adventures I'm having, projects I'm starting, dreams I'm scheming, challenges I'm facing. The desire to share has been brewing for weeks now, but I had to work out some kinks in my head. Sometimes I get too wrapped up analyzing this and that, worrying that my ramblings are of little to no interest to anyone. I know my fellow writers can relate... I also know that we throw in the towel at some point and jump right in anyway!

So, here I am. Feeling a little rusty. Feeling a little shy.

Here's a sneak preview of what I'll probably chit-chat about in the coming weeks:

* I'm teaching weekly fitness classes to seniors at a local senior facility. They're a kick in the pants!
* I finally went swing dancing after living in Pittsburgh for a year and a half. A year and a half too long, yo.
* I visited San Diego last month. Love.
* I registered for Zumba training and certification at long last.
* Rheumatoid arthritis is no joke. Two years post-diagnosis, I have much to rant about.

I think that's a good start.

It's nice to be back.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

7 out of 31

Well. #31Days has come and gone and I logged seven days out of the 31.

This is not a stellar percentage, I know.

After only a week in, I knew that blogging everyday was not in the cards. Despite every good intention, I just couldn't do it. Well, I chose not to.

You see, I quickly realized that I had to make a choice. The way my days have been structured between an insane month at work, commuting, getting myself to the gym, spending QT with the hubs, cooking/eating dinner, trying to maintain some level of order to the apartment, AND trying to blog each and every night after all of the above... Something had to give.

I hated letting it go. I hated that I had made such grand plans and bold statements--let me tell you all about America's best homegrown dance, the Lindy Hop!--only to jump ship so early on. I hated that I felt like a failure and the lamest blogger on the block. I was embarrassed and felt guilty for standing you all up. And that is why I was suddenly MIA without a trace. With each passing day sans posting, I got more and more discouraged, and the guilt dug deeper and deeper.

I am sorry for standing y'all up.

{I realize how utterly crazy an apology may sound over something like a blog, but seriously, promising something and not following through is not cool.}

That said, can I say that I've finally realized and accepted that this season in my life is more about going and doing and making and connecting than sitting and writing on the reg. Giving myself permission to be and do sans guilt is pretty amazeballs.

Not to say that I don't have anything to say on le blog.

Not to say that I don't want to share all about the Lindy Hop, as I outlined here.

Not to say that I don't have things to discuss about my latest adventures and projects.

I do. And I will. Just on a timetable that better jives with where I'm at right now. I hope you can dig it, amigos.

I'll be checking in... 


Monday, October 7, 2013

#31Days, Episode 6/7: Influence + life lately + freedom

Hello friends and welcome to Episode 6/7 of #31Days to the Lindy Hop, the writing challenge linkup hosted by The Nester. Today is detour from straight up Lindy story-telling, though. I have another story to tell today, one that explains a little bit of my life lately... but it circles right back to dance.

Just over a week ago, I returned from Indianapolis where I attended the Influence Conference.

I've had a really hard time articulating to people just how awesomesauce the Influence Conference was. When asked, I stare at them for a second and then blurt out "so great" or "just what I needed!" Not too profound, and it definitely doesn't do the conference justice. But amigos?? It changed the trajectory of my life. Them's fightin' words, I know. And while even this post won't do what is going on in my heart and head justice, it is the best I can do for now.

Leading up the to the conference, I was not in a good place. My life was full of busy-ness, but I was expending what little time and energy I have outside of my full time job on pointless things. To add insult to injury, I knew that I was wasting and losing time. But I felt helpless and stuck and I had no idea how to even begin to dig myself out.

Add to that bitterness and pure, black anger that had been residing in my heart since leaving Colorado in August 2012. I hated Pittsburgh, y'all, just hated it. And I hated that I hated it, because I am not a hater. My essence is joy and energy and life and glitter and sunshine. For real. But somehow, somewhere along the way, my first year living in the 'Burgh was filled with ugly, hot anger. I tried so hard to fight it, I really did. I tried to "have a better attitude", to pretend that I was okay, to fake seeing the good in the city. It was exhausting and it flattened me.

Then God took me to the Influence Conference and in the span of three days, shifts on a tectonic scale occurred within my heart.

The point at which I realize it had happened was while riding the bus back into the city from the airport. Instead of the usual knot of lead in my stomach, I found myself eager.... what the what? I was in shock. Then, as I transitioned back to normal life and returned to my daily routines last week, I experienced another strange feeling: I felt at home. What on earth happened to me in Indianapolis??

Call me crazy, amigos, but that is nothing to me but proof that prayer is no joke. Because there is no other explanation for such a sudden 180-degree turn in my heart. The power of positive thinking? Please. God really does hear us. Through last year, He heard all of my sobbing and my f-bombs and everything in between. Go figure.

So how on earth does this nice little story have anything to do with the Lindy Hop?? Well, I find God in art, specifically dance and music. When I am on a dance floor or stage, or listening to my Louis Armstrong Pandora station, my soul feels things that can be nothing else but God. But while I was stuck in the hamster wheel of busy-ness and anger, this was impossible. Art was impossible.

via Pinterest

Now, as if awakening from a paralytic coma, I'm free. Free to do art. Free to find God again on the marley, at the barre, in a swing out, in the wail of the trumpet...

Get down with your bad selves, amigos!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

#31Days, Episode 4/5: Swing Kids

Hello friends and welcome to Episode 4/5 of #31Days to the Lindy Hop, the writing challenge linkup hosted by The Nester. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a story chock full of joy, jive, and jazz!

I first caught the swing bug when I saw the movie Swing Kids, waaaayyyyy back in 1993. I was in middle school (um, yep, I just dated myself).

via Pinterest

I poignantly remember seeing the dance scene for the first time: my eyes got buggy, my jaw dropped, and my heart starting pounding in my chest. I wanted to do exactly what they were doing and I wanted to do it right then and there.

Being in middle school and living in small town suburbia were not very conducive to finding swing lessons, of course, so I just made up my own moves. I couldn't help it--I most definitely could not sit still. I began buying big band music and I would dance all over my kitchen like a crazy person, trying hard to mimic the actors in the movie, and doing a doozy of a job at that--Frankie would probably have stood there shaking his head at me, ha!

I can't help but smile at middle school me now, thinking back to that movie and how cool I thought it was, how amazing I thought the dancing was. Now that I know how to Lindy, the dancing in the film is really not that great. Of course, they're doing all the flashy tricks, spins, and jumps, but as I said in Episode 1, this does not a dancer make.

It's all good, though. Swing Kids, bad dancing and all, was my start on a journey that I still treasure. In fact, the fever that started when the swing bug bit me back in 1993 is still with me. I haven't been on a social dance floor in over a year (which will change soon--more on that in a future episode!), but when I have Pandora set to my Louis Armstrong station, my poor downstairs neighbors are in for a lot of pounding. Sorry guys.

I guess I will forever be a Swing Kid.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

#31Days, Episode 3: From world headlines to a new dance craze

Hello friends and welcome to Episode 3 of #31Days to the Lindy Hop, the writing challenge linkup hosted by The Nester. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a little story chock full of joy, jive, and jazz!

Yesterday I told you that today I would be sharing about my first forays into the world of the Lindy Hop, but I've decided to switch gears. More about me later.

Have you ever wondered where the name "Lindy Hop" came from?? I mean, who or what or where is "Lindy"?

Well, "Lindy" was a who (haha, that sounds so Dr. Suess)...

The quick 'n dirty rundown: swing dance evolved in the late 1920's alongside jazz music. Dance and music do go hand in hand, after all. Well, dance marathons were hugely popular in the ballrooms of the day, and couples would compete for days and days and days against other couples, hoping to be the last couple standing at the end. What this looked like, if you can imagine, was each person leaning up against his or her partner so they would remain upright and dancing (more like sleep-dancing). If you sat or fell down, you forfeited.

Okay. So, during one particular marathon, a man by the name of George “Shorty” Snowden was dancing with his partner, Big Bea. They had been dancing for a long while and nothing exciting had happened... Until! Shorty noticed that there were reporters nearby. Hoping to grab their attention and make himself and Big Bea stand out--he really wanted to win that marathon!--he pushed Bea out, she did a little twist of her hips, and then he pulled her back in. The reporters went crazy! They declared a new dance move and demanded to know what it was called. Shorty had to think quick on his feet. He remembered seeing headlines about Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic Ocean in newspapers, exclaiming “Lindy Hops the Atlantic!”

Discovered via Google Images and also seen here
So, with all the cool in the world, he told reporters: “That? Well. That ain't nothin' but the Lindy Hop!”

And the Lindy Hop was born.

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I am not a historian. This story was gathered over years of swapping tales with my fellow swingers. If you have cold, hard facts that boost my story, please share! I'd love to connect.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

#31Days, Episode 2: Frankie + Hellzapoppin'

Hello friends and welcome to Episode 2 of #31Days to the Lindy Hop!

Real life, amigos? Today was not my day. I am just now sitting down to blog, right up against my bedtime. I am so worn out that my bones hurt. So. I'm going to postpone my story-telling for tonight, and instead share a little eye-candy. I hope you don't mind. I hope you understand. And I hope you enjoy this clip as much as I do, and maybe even hit "repeat" a couple of times, just like I do :)

Watch for this guy. He's easy to spot by that huge smile.

His name is Frankie Manning. He's kind of a big deal. He shows up on the sidelines, sportin' those overalls, around :38, but then he shows us what's up at 1:14.

 Does that get you as jazzed as it does me?!

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I'll be back tomorrow to tell you more about my first steps into the world of Lindy Hop.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#31Days, Episode 1: Why the Lindy Hop

Hello friends and welcome to Episode 1 of #31Days to the Lindy Hop! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy a little story chock full of joy, jive, and jazz.

Why the Lindy Hop?

The Lindy Hop is, and will always be, my first dance love. Before there were the 'tard and tights, there were the spectators and spankies, the red lipstick and hair rolls. There was jazz, man! Hot, swinging jazz. And it was good.

I want to share more about this rich, high-energy art form, one that was born right here in the US of A. Oh, swing is most definitely all over the world at this point, but it started right here.

I want to tell you, dear reader, that swing is so much more than flashy, acrobatic moves. Tossing a partner through the air is not exactly dancing. I don't say that to come off exclusive, amigos, I just want to shed light on the fact that Lindy does in fact have footwork and technique. And there is etiquette on a social dance floor--big moves on a busy floor is a big no-no. The flashy moves are oh-so-fun (see my face in the pic above?) but they are just the cherry on top.

More than anything else, though, I want you to know how important the Lindy Hop is. It was born and cultivated at a time in history when the country's economy flat-lined, when America jumped into the middle of another world war, and while racial segregation was still rooted deep like an ugly weed. The Lindy Hop gave people joy and happiness and hope at a time when even a simple smile was a struggle.

The Lindy Hop is important to this gal, too. It shaped me to be who I am today by encouraging me to blossom from an insecure girl to a young woman with confidence. It helped me discover who I am: a dancer! I met my best friends. I traveled around the country. I even got to meet some of the people who shaped the very Lindy world way back in the day.

Yes, yes, y'all, I have a whole lotta love for the Lindy Hop. Thank you for stopping by and allowing me to share it with you!

Anyone else a Lindy lover? Please tell me about it in the comments, I'd love to connect!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Influence + #31Days sneak peak

Oh, where to begin?

I just returned from the Influence Conference and my heart and my head are so, so full. There is so much I want to share--so much--but I'm going to divulge in a slow stream over time, as things come to me, rather than one big heart dump.​ That would just be a mess.

So much inspiration. 

Lara Casey and Jeff Goins both caused a major paradigm shift in how I think of myself, my dream, my why.  

Shauna Niequist reminded me that my work is my responsibility. She gave me permission to do my thing with my brand of crazy. She also dropped this truth bomb:

"The lie is scarcity; the truth is abundance."

There is plenty of room in this world for more art, more creativity, more beauty. No artist should be hoarding her gifts. Preach, Shauna.

Oh, there is much, much more. More inspiration, more encouragement. Seeds have been planted--ideas, friendships, truth. More to come...

** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

In the spirit of the conference and in honor of one of these seeds, I'm joining in the 31 Days link-up hosted by The Nester, which kicks off tomorrow, October 1. The linkup is a writing challenge to post every day in the month of October, talking about one topic, any topic. My #31Days topic is where it all began for me, my roots.

I cannot wait to share this story with you.
Join me tomorrow for the kick off!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Goodbye to Grams

My beloved Grams passed away last night. It's been looming; my family was prepared. Her health has steadily declined over the last couple of years, and it really plummeted for the last month.

Let me rewind a bit to replay some of the details...

My mom called me about a month ago to tell me that I should really start looking at flights to fly home to Colorado and see Grams, stat. I panicked a little and jumped online, hoping I'd find a sweet deal, pronto. No dice. Ticket prices ranged from $600 to $800--what the what?! Yes. I just want to go home to see my Grams, not play tourist in the mountains! It was infuriating

I continued checking, looking farther and farther in to September, then October.... Please God, let her wait for me... please let these crazy prices drop...

Last Thursday my mom called me in the middle of the day. She never does this, knowing I'm at work, so I figured it was important. Before I hit "accept", I just knew it was about Grams.

Grams was in the hospital. ICU. Her lung had filled with fluid, she couldn't breathe on her own. Ventilator, sedated. Cancer.

Back to the interwebs. My work colleagues helped me search flights for that night. Does $550 work for you? Boom, I'll take it. Ticket purchased, I rushed home to pack, then rushed to catch my buses to get to the airport. I hopped a couple planes and landed in Denver about midnight that night. Please God, let her wait for me...

I headed to the hospital Friday morning. She was sleeping, but would stir when we talked to her and even opened her eyes, under the influence of the sedatives. Her eyes stared blankly back at me, but I chatted her up anyway, told her I had finally come, that I was there.

The plan at that point was to turn everything off, unplug, say goodbye and let go on Sunday. But Grams had other ideas.

On Friday afternoon, her status began to steadily improve. By Friday evening, the doctor's plan was to wean her off the sedatives and test the waters with some breathing exercises, seeing how she might fare off the ventilator. On Saturday, she was a star patient--she was awake, she responded to questions by nodding her head, and she was sure ticked off that she had a tube down her throat. It was decided: come Sunday morning the ventilator was to be shut down and the tube would come out.

Sunday morning, the family gathered. We fidgeted and paced the hallway, awaiting the doctor to finish rounds. The time arrived at last--success! We rushed in and took turns hugging her, talking to her, holding her hand. All the nurses and doctors marveled at what a strong fighter she was and discussed release from the hospital the next day!

My flight back to Pittsburgh was scheduled for Monday morning. I said goodbye to Grams on Sunday night, giving her lots of kisses on the forehead. She said she would see me again.

They released her home yesterday afternoon. Mom sent me a text late last night, telling me she was home and that hospice was set up.

This morning I awoke to find another text from Mom: your Grams passed tonight.

See, Grams hated hospitals. Hated. Them. She knew her time had come but refused to breathe her last within the hospital's walls. She would be home.

I am so grateful that I was able to finally make it home to see my beloved Grams. I am at peace knowing she is no longer suffering, that her last moments were in the house she had lived in for 60-plus years, that my mom and uncle were by her side up until the final moments, and that she is finally back with Grampa.

Three generations on my wedding day, August 2012. Isn't she lovely??

Goodbye, my Gramma C. Nighty night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bight. I will love you forever and ever.

your Jessi C

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2 + 2: Influence Meet 'n Greet

In just over two weeks I will head down to Indianapolis, Indiana, to attend the Influence Conference!! I'm stoked, but I'll admit that I'm also a little overwhelmed with all I need to do to get organized and ready--biz/blog cards! decide which workshops to take! get a haircut! plan my outfits!--this is my first blog conference after all.

But! Before I hunker down for some serious list-making, here is a little 2 + 2 list for our pre-conference meet and greet...

Two things you will find in my bag:
  1. Batman.The moment Batman and I found each other on the bus that sunny Saturday afternoon, we've been inseparable. Just take a gander at my Instagram reel and you'll see.
  2. Crabby snacks. Low blood sugar = bad news bears. Yes, I'm one of those people... but don't worry, as long as I have good eats, I'm good to go. Anyone want to make a grocery store run Thursday afternoon??
Two things I'm most looking forward to:
  1.  In real life. I'm uber-excited to finally meet the gals I've been reading and tweeting with and looking up to for months and months. Connecting with peeps just jazzes me up. I have a feeling I'm in for a treat.
  2. Sparking. I've been wishing/hoping/dreaming for many moons about how to take this and my other blog to the next level. I'm ready for the spark to get the fires going.
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Now, to hunker down and make some lists...