Saturday, August 25, 2018

Three Things in Mind for This Season

Well Y'all, a new season is underway here at Ballet Magnificat and I can't believe I am entering into my ninth season with them! I am so thankful!

 Looking back and reflecting, I think that my life would prove it to be true that Ballet Magnificat really is like a greenhouse! For those of you who may never have heard Ballet Magnificat referred to as a greenhouse before and are wondering what I am talking about, let me explain. These past years, Ballet Magnificat has been for me a safe place, a set-apart-from-the-world environment where hearts and minds are protected and climate is controlled in a spiritual sense by the Son ruling and reigning over it, cultivating maturity and promoting growth in the spiritually hungry and like-minded people comprising the ministry, who came together not only because of a shared passion for dance but also because of the common desire to see the Lord glorified, that after some time spent together at Bmag start resembling more than ever before, "strong, healthy, beautiful seedbearing flowers and plants", just like that which you would find growing within the special shelter of a greenhouse.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. ~Isaiah 55:12 

I owe a lot of credit to Ballet Magnificat, God's chosen vessel used, for making me into all that I am today. I would have never guessed that this modest little ballet company in Jackson, Mississippi would have impacted my life so greatly! I have matured so much over the past couple years (nearly a decade!) here at Ballet Magnificat, both technically as a dancer and spiritually as a Christ follower, and I am beyond excited to see what more the Lord has for me in this upcoming season. Bring it on!
A couple of things I am certain of about this upcoming season are the things that the Lord has revealed to me about how He desires me to live out the next 12 months of my contracted time with Ballet Magnificat. Today I thought I would share a couple of those things with you! Maybe you will find Him nudging you to adopt some of these things too.

#1 Living to Improve not Impress. A lesson I will never stop having to relearn is that living to people-please gets me nowhere! Two Bible verses that come to mind on this topic are Galatians 1:10 and 2 Timothy 2:4. Knowing that people-pleasing leaves me high and dry every time, I haven't the slightest idea as to why I always relapse into it!? Perhaps it is the way I am wired, but I also suppose that the way the world operates, offering more incentives to those who people-please than those who desire to God-please, doesn't help and is distracting. But thankful to say, I've recently been given a fresh reassurance from the Lord that pleasing God over people-pleasing is the way to go! I've been reminded that pursuing excellency and improvement for God's Glory and for the sheer enjoyment of it in anything I do, is so much better than striving and agonizing over trying to meet the sometimes unrealistic standards of insatiable mere human beings, that doesn't amount to anything but empty accolades and vain short-lasting praise anyway.

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#2 Resting in the Lord. Formerly, I was spending a good portion of my energy seeking to refresh and enhance my life- physically and mentally, with physical solutions, BUT what I have come to learn is that in order to obtain any kind of rest and refreshment, whether it be for mind, body, or soul, it can only be fully achieved by resting in the Lord. Two verses that come to mind pertaining to this topic are 1 Timothy 4:8 and Matthew 11:28-30. I've learned that I need to be careful not to seek the actual thing of "rest" more than I seek after God and that even though not all situations may seem conducive for resting, rest WILL come when I seek him; practically doing so through prayer and His Word.

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#3 Living Life Well. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about life, death, eternity, and salvation. I've been thinking about people, some I know, that find themselves on their deathbeds without a choice to live due to serious illness, maybe because of some freak accident, or considering also those being physically persecuted for their faith in other countries, and my heart is saddened. Then, especially on the heels of our summer workshop working with the children of this up and coming generation so quick to entertain ideas of suicide, I think about people who have the free choice to live, but then go and give it up, and my heart is saddened further. Then I think about people like ME (sometimes) who go on living life half asleep, complacently, or in longlasting discontentment and I've been MAJORLY convicted about it. God has been teaching me just how precious of a gift life is, for the believer and unbeliever alike, and I want to live it well! Sure undergoing dreadfully difficult times is apart of the package of life, but life also offers us good times, sweet moments of blissful elation that we wouldn't trade for the world, wouldn't you say? 

My mind really gets blown away pondering on all what Christ went through to accomplish for me, for his children, for believers, to secure and ensure for us that we might have nothing BUT good times to come, for all of eternity! What kind of amazing future is that? What kind of love?! So with this precious life I've been given here on earth, and with the promise of a heavenly future, I want to make sure I live this life solely for the one who gave it to me and to be thankful; to live out my calling on earth well which is so much more than just what I do, but is also about what goes on in my heart and my mind, you know what I mean? Some bible verses that come to mind when reflecting on this topic are 2 Peter 1:3-11 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

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Well here's to a new season; and living it rightly! Happy back-to-school to any of you returning to your respective studies and dance studios! I intend to post some blog entries soon for you bun heads that will be featuring excellent online dance resources and some getting-back-into-shape tips so stay tuned! Until then, you can check out my Staying In Shape Regimine I posted about a while back. Yes, we company members are no strangers to the getting-back-into-shape process and have been at it for a couple of weeks now. Along with our daily technique classes taught by Mr. Jiri Voborsky and Ms. Sol Maisonet we have been furiously rehearsing "The Return of Snow Queen" a revised, new and exciting version of the original "Snow Queen" that we performed just a few years ago, and the Ballet Magnificat Trainees will be joining us in the fun of rehearsing "The Return of Snow Queen" as early as next Monday which will be their first day back in the studio for the school year... fun (sore) times ahead! I hope you've already purchased your tickets for "The Return of Snow Queen" because it is gonna be epic (and well-rehearsed, haha...) and you are not going to want to miss it!! Get your tickets below!

"The Return of Snow Queen"- Nashville, Tennessee

"The Return of Snow Queen"- Jackson, Mississippi  (Ticket Sales begin Sept. 1st)

It feels so good to be back at it with blogging again! Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read! It also feels so good to be back in the preparing stage for touring again with Ballet Magnificat. Our tour season begins the end of next month for the Ballet Magnificat Alpha Company and our booking calendar can be found HERE if you are interested in seeing where we will be going. Touring always makes for good blogging material with all the adventures we go on! I just can't wait to get on the road again and tell you all about it! I know the Lord has awesome and fun things in store for us because He always does! Check back soon for updates and in the meantime, you can pray for us! 

We covet your prayers!
God bless you my dear friend on the other side!
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My 2018 Workshop Experience in Snapshots

Hello World Wide Web!  How was your summer? If it was anything like mine, then it just flew by! I haven't even had the chance to tell you about it until now! I had the grandest time this past month over at Belhaven University helping run Ballet Magnificat's 2018 Summer Dance Intensive (SDI). Our summer dance intensives give students the special opportunity to take dance classes every day from Ballet Magnificat staff and company members such as myself. Company members also get to mentor them, lead them in times of worship in the mornings, and Bible study in the evenings. In the dorms, I was given a group of 12 girls to be in charge of and responsible for. We had ourselves lots of fun and I would tell you "I had the best group EVER!" if you were to ask! 😏 

I will share some pictures from this past month down below, but for live updates and more, I suggest you follow me on Instagram at @oqpiedoptimist, and subscribe to my newsletter ( I haven't sent one out in a while though, hah) so you never miss a beat!

Teaching the wonderful level 7's

Companies taking class...

One day I got to slip off campus with these awesome people to dress up like a cow to get our free chicken from
 Chickfila on "Cow Appreciation Day", It's a thing!

A picture of me with my amazing group of girls on our shopping trip weekend!

One weekend we performed for the students. Here The Ballet Magnificat Alpha Company warms up before the performance.

In costume, me snapping a pic with one of Alpha's newest dancers, Ashton!
Can you name the photo bomber?! 😏

Performing "The Garden" Choreographed by Tara Thibodeaux Drew. Ingrid in red is stunning!
PC: Claire Quint

Performing "The Garden" Choreographed by Tara Thibodeaux Drew.
PC: Claire Quint

Another picture with my beautiful group of girls after our performance.

One weekend the Alpha Company taught an Olympic themed conditioning class to all the students. Pictured here are some of the Alpha company members posing in a tough-olympian kind of way.  

My group of girls represented the country of Puerto Rico during the conditioning Olympics! Look at what a lovely flag they made!

More sweet faces I got to work with this summer...
A student from my variations class

Wow! The Lord did so much over the course of this years SDI. I don't think I will ever forget it! And it is so much more than just the dancing. One of my favorite things about helping run Ballet Magnificat's SDI is that with all the time and energy that is spent investing in the students, it always surprises me how much I find the Lord investing in and teaching me! Just when I thought the students were the only ones on the receiving end, I realize that I too have learned and grown so much through all of the pouring out! 

With all the wonderful memories behind us and a new season approaching, we will not forget the Lord's faithfulness and all that he has accomplished in us. There was enough transformation going on in all of us, students and staff alike, this summer and I want us to be reminded that we are never done transforming, so long as we find ourselves on this earth. Summer may be over, but I think transformation has only just begun!  
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. ~2 Corinthians 3:16-18
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Friday, May 18, 2018

Ain't Nobody Got Time for Social Media ...

Why hello my dear readers!  Do you miss me? It has been quite some time since you've heard from me, for a number of reasons I will explain to you in a moment. Please bear with me as the first blog posts I write after hiatus are always the most difficult for me to get out. I mean, it has been so long. It is hard to figure out where to start, not to mention that I feel "constipated" creativity-wise having not been able to exercise expressing myself through writing here at The Occupied Optimist for a while now. I have just been SO busy!

The last thing I remember sharing about with you was the trip that I took to Israel with Ballet Magnificat Alpha in February. And now it is May; Summer is right around the corner! I guess time flies when you are having fun. One thing I remember about that last entry I wrote is that Israel had left me on a "spiritual high", a "mountaintop" so to speak. Lord knows... I didn't stay up there though! One of the best ways I can think to describe this past semester to you is by sharing that it has been full of "mountaintops" and "valleys". 

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What I would like to do with today's blog post is to go through each month with you, blow by blow, recalling all that has happened this past year so far because it is good for me to remember, and perhaps for you just entertaining. Some of it will be a recap. Things I've covered in previous blog posts will be touched on again, but with the more recent months, never-before-seen pictures and stories will be featured to get you all caught up. Take note of the mountaintops and valleys. Maybe this entry will help you to recognize the mountaintops and valleys in your own life! We all have them. I am just glad that the best views come after the hardest climbs!

January-   Valley.

Happy housemates having random "Snow Days" off work in Mississippi!

  • January was not a bad month, just a slow month. The Alpha company did not have any bookings that month. It was all about hashing through choreography and getting back into shape after the holidays (when we didn't have snow days!) preparing ourselves for the coming month for our trip to Israel.

February-   Mountaintop  for  sure !

The Ballet Magnificat Alpha company in Israel striking a pose looking East.

March-   Valley.

A post shared by Lillian Marie Ortiz (@oqpiedoptimist) on

  • Even though now it is hard for me to remember that March even existed, when I think about it hard enough I remember that, in the moment, March seemed like such another sloooow month. Our performance bookings that month were next-to-none. We only had one run-out to Kentucky the first weekend in March which means that the remainder of the month was spent at our home base in Jackson, MS having nothing better to do but rehearse over and over and over again. Sure, I bet we probably needed the rehearsal, but it is these times when we have hardly any performances and are stuck at home repetitively rehearsing that I start to get "cabin fever". 
The times when performances are few are the times I somehow become prone to forgetting the reason why I love doing what I do. I know that there is a reason for every season under the sun, and SOMETIMES the seasons that we don't tour very much are my favorite (I get a chance to go to church consistently and get involved in the community!), But other times I get too inside my head with all so much time to think! Can you relate? 
March was one of those "other times". I did a lot of writing that month- it's just that you didn't see it because it was all in my journal instead of on my blog. The optimist deep inside me (or maybe the Holy Spirit) reminds me that it is times like these when the Lord does the most sanctifying and I guess that makes it worth while.

April-   An Oh - so - Wonderful  Mountiantop !

  • Alas, we have arrived at April- a busy yet glorious month which had much more performance bookings than the last; enough reason to fill a performing artist of any kind, with much happiness!
The first day of April we were in Longwood, FL celebrating Easter, my most favorite holiday! We had the priviledge of working with our brothers and sisters in Christ from Northland Church who put on a spectacular production celebrating Jesus, four times that weekend!

We had the sweetest, most endearing host families during our stay in Longwood!

They introduced us to Jeremiah's Italian Ice. This franchise is a must-stop, sweet-spot
I highly recommend you visit if you are ever in the Central, South Florida area!

Meridian MS, was where our next performance booking was, but I have to say my favorite performance of the month, and I can even easily say of the whole year, was the performance we had in Lancaster, PA my hometown!

Towards the end of the month we revisited FL, stopping in Orange Park for some dance workshops and a performance that our exceptionally wonderful sponsor and friend Lisa, and the Mercy Steps School of Dance set up for us. To my delight, I got to be hosted by some good ole' friends I made last time I was in Orange Park, FL with the company.

Such sweet sweet family and friends!

We had such a great time in Orange Park!

A midst all the performing, The Alpha company made time to have an "Alpha Retreat" in which we gathered in the home of our Artist Director and spent the work day bonding, team building, praying, eatting and being encouraged.

nom, nom, nom!

Gathering around the food!

Something else exciting that happened in  the month of April was that business began to pick up for Lilly's Creations with the launch of my new ballet skirt designs! Please check them out if this sort of thing interests you! 😊

...The one thing that put a damper on things this month was that the closing of my house by ballet mag leadership was made official, which meant that I and my housemates would be having to pick up and move out of it in the next month, a source of major stress for me in lastest weeks but the Lord always carries us through, doesn't He.

May-  I  suppose  this  month  being  a Valley  would  make  sense...

  • Being that last month was the end of the Ballet Magnificat Alpha tour season, the beginning of this month, regarding the Alpha companies work, revolved all around helping the Ballet Magnificat School of the Art's department put on their end of the year recitals. Some of us worked backstage and others of us worked front of house. The students ended up all doing a wonderful job with their dances.
In recent days, the Alpha company's energies had also been spent on doing some fundraising. This year we decided to sell roses at the student recitals and it was a hit! We are no florists, but it sure was such a fun process learning how to prepare a bouquet! Thanks to all of you that supported us through a purchase of one of our bouquets!

Arranging bouquets after class. I guess you could say we like to multitask by "stretching" at the same time. 😆


Maggie trimming the stems

Beautiful bouquets!

Outside of work, stress levels have been high with having to move out of my home of 8 years and trying to head up organizing the logistics of it between my five other housemates, a growing process for sure! 
Though the process hard, God has been evidencing his provision to us in so many ways which has been encouraging. Pictured here is the humongous vehicle we used to transport all our stuff, lent to us by a kind couple from my housemate's church.

Abbey and Sam help us. We try to keep things fun.

I never had to move a refrigerator before but I guess there is a first time for everything! God also provided us with the pickup truck pictured here, a specialized appliance dolly, and five men for helping us get this mission accomplished. Thank you Lord!

Driving from house to house, The Lord also allowed me to get my first ever tire blow out. Look at me "Adulting" all over the place! AAA came to my rescue!

Yes, I've been a busy stressed out girl. I wish I could take the "too blessed to be stressed" saying to heart... but the struggle has been real. To cope with the stress I make things! 😊 Which is another reason why I have been too busy for blogging. I don't know if that is normal but it sure does help- making stuff like this:


(Towel Toppers!)



(Greeting Cards!)

So that pretty much sums up what my life has been like the past couple months. I have finally settled into my new place across town and though it's going to be a bit of an adjustment, adapting to my new neighborhood and environment, change is good- a theme I often harp on about here at The Occupied Optimist. I am on a two-week summer break now, so hopefully I will find good rest for myself physically and spiritually. As life slows down again you may be happy to hear that I intend on returning back to my normally scheduled rhythm of blog posting, but I hope you feel all caught up with this blog post, feeling as though you didn't miss a beat, because you really didn't miss much.
Thanks so much for reading! 
I have missed you!

Please leave comments down below if you are feeling provoked to respond to any of the adventures I have shared with you about. 
I'd love to hear about what mountains and valley's the Lord has taken you through too!?

If you are new, Welcome! 
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