Friday, February 26, 2016

Twelve Hour Travel Day Thoughts and Toilings

We are more than half way through tour and it has been going so wonderfully well. Unfortunately, I have been so busy that I have not been able to update you guys about it until now. Today we are on our way from Phenonix, Arizona to Amarillo, Texas, a twelve hour drive. I really love long drive days on the tour bus because I can get a lot done!

My To Do List:

  • Bible reading
  • Nap
  • Study Spanish
  • Write/and decorate junk journal
  • Bible study with Alpha at 2:00pm
  • Edit photos
  • Plan class I am going to teach for the workshop in Amarillo
  • Write, edit, submit new blog entry: ^_^

Unlike the tour we are currently on, our tours are usually comprised mostly of performance bookings. This laid-back 18 day south western tour consists of only 3 performances and many more workshops. When I am not scheduled to teach and there is no performance, those days become free days! It is quite a treat to have a few days off sprinkled into our busy tour. I have only been scheduled to teach five times during this tour, but even those days are still more relaxing compared to performance days which are typically an all day process. We all agreed that the pace of this tour, due to all the workshop bookings is quite enjoyable, but I had to laugh when our boss Kieth said "Well, if we keep up at this pace... we will be put out of a job!" So I guess we better enjoy this tour full of workshops while it lasts.

So far we have had one performance of Deliver Us in Ft. Worth, Texas at the Scott Theater. In Dallas we held some workshop dance classes at First Baptist Dallas through their school of the arts program. I taught a creative movement class to 7-12 year olds. Next we passed through Mckinney, TX and held some workshop classes there as well, at the Texas Youth Ballet Conservatory. Since I didn't have to teach in Mckinney, I enjoyed my days off relaxing with my host family. The Texas Youth Ballet is one of my most favorite ballet studios across the country that we have worked withed. I have taught at their studio in the past and their students are so diligent, hardworking, and have an excellent foundation of strong clean ballet technique. Even though I didn't get to teach there this time, one of the highlights of being in Mckinney was when I got to reunite with some old students/friends I made last time our company visited.

Micky and I reunited with the cutest twin ballerina girls ever! McKinney, Texas

We then headed to Lubbock, Texas where we held a three day workshop that I did not have to teach or be involved with. We worked with an organization called Christ In The Arts (CITA) and I was hosted by the founders and directors of CITA during our time there. They were very hospitable and accommodating. They told us that there was not much to do in Lubbock but that they were willing to take us anywhere we wanted to go. We ended up finding ourselves content with just chilling and hanging out around the house, talking, taking naps and cooking. We also watched some DVDs of the dance productions that they have put on in the past. I thought they were phenomenal, entertaining and annointed! I was extremely impressed by their talent, passion, and professionalism. I had never heard of Christ In the Arts prior to us being booked there, but I had such a delightful time learning about them and getting to know the families and people there! All of their kindness and love is what made the experience so special! Christ In The Arts is another dance studio that has recently, also won a spot on my list as a most favorite studio that we have worked with. Way to go CITA!

 Next we continued our journey west to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I SO enjoyed watching the scenery transform as I have never been so far west before! While traveling I took hundreds of photos of the landscape, though in the end they all seem to resemble one another. I have included a number of the photos below. At the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, we performed Stratagem for only the second time this whole season; It went well.

I fell in LOVE with Arizona, where we went next to teach workshops at the Experience Arts School; I taught beginner ballet and a creative worship class. It was SO beautiful. America is SO beautiful. I knew it before...but now I know it better! ^_^ America is a wonderful diverse country both in its people and terrain. In Arizona I experienced many 'firsts'. First time seeing the desert, first time picking a fresh grapefruit from a grapefruit tree in my hosts front yard, first time visiting a Hillsong church, and first time seeing a sugaruo cactus in person. I LOVED IT! Be sure to check out the pictures I snapped below!

It feels good to be on the road again. The Lord has been teaching me SO much on this tour. All that is to be shared another time. The tour is not over. In fact, we only have a couple more miles to go before we return back to Texas. Amarillo here we come. THANKS FOR READING! ^_^
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Sunday, February 14, 2016


What did you do in celebration of Valentines Day?

Before leaving for tour, I had some free time to make each of my fellow company members a homemade Valentines Day card! I know Valentines Day is a frivolous holiday enduring solely by its commercialism, but there is something in me that just loves it!! And am still single so that is saying a lot! It IS POSSIBLE to be single and still enjoy Valentines Day. I see it as random day in which I can use as an excuse to be extra intentional in encouraging and reminding the people that are around me daily, that I love them, even if it is not in a romantic way. And I sure do love the people I work with!

I'm so glad I took the time to make these cards before our tour started. It was an enjoyable process and I am really proud of their outcome. My friends enjoyed receiving them too, and that warmed my heart. Below are some snapshots of what each one looked like. I wonder if anyone can guess which ones I gave to who!? ^_^

~ Happy Valentines  Day! ~

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Last Day Before Tour!

I am so excited for tour! It is about time for a change of pace and scenery. We have been working hard on these ballets, rehearsing day in and day out and now it is finally time to take these babies out on the road!

I am so thankful God gave us wonderful, sunny weather this week to load up our trailer!



We have quite an extensive amount of sets, props, costumes, and equipment that all need to be packed into the trailer. Some of them seem quite odd, but if you were to attend one of our shows, then you would understand. Sometimes we feel like a traveling circus!

The trailer seems pretty big at first, but as we begin to fill it with all of our stuff it suddenly appears so small. We pack it to the rim and everything has to be strategically puzzled together in order for it to all fit.

Catherine is in charge of puzzling everything together. She does a great job!

Emily carrying a sandbag

The harris' watching and waiting for instruction

These bases are what we use weigh down and erect our lighting poles. Each one weighs about 50 pounds! We let the guys take care of those!

After we get all our props and sets stowed away, we close up the trailer and call it a day. Tomorrow we will add in all our personal luggage.

I packed my ballet attire and gear in a backpack; my foam roller didn't fit. I packed my other clothing in my duffle bag roller, and I am bringing a tote bag as my bus bag to fill with books and other activities to keep me busy while traveling on the bus.

 It took me forever to pack for this tour! Maybe it took me so long to pack because we haven't gone touring in awhile, but also this tour was difficult to pack for because we have so many workshop days lined up, which means that we don't only have to pack normal clothes but teaching clothes too! I am looking forward to traveling to the south west because it will be warmer! It was fun to pull out all my summer clothes so early in the year. I forgot what they looked like!

First stop: Texas here we come!

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Cook and Craft

Let the countdown begin, until our first tour of the new year, to the southwest! My dance company will be stopping in Forthworth, Lubbock, and Amarillo Texas, Albuquerque New Mexico, and Mesa Arizona. 3 More Days until we head out! And there is still much to be done in preparation! For more information and details on our touring schedule CLICK HERE.

I am excited about this upcoming tour because we will be stopping in several states I have never been to before! I will finally get to see for myself, the natural beauty of the west that my old housemate from Arizona would always tell me about! All that I know about the west is of deserts, cactus, and other vegetation that are apparently no taller than myself. It would be so cool to see the Grand Canyon during our time out there, but I know that the chance of that actually happening is slim. I can't be certain that we will have time off for such adventures, but you can be sure that I will tell you all about whatever other escapades take place during our travels out on the road, so stay tuned!

At Ballet Magnificat I am one of the members in charge of managing sales merchandise and fundraising, so aside from the endless hours of rehearsing in preparation for our tours, another responsibility I have is making sure that all the products that we will be selling are packed and ready to go. Then at each performance venue, I am in charge of setting it all up in the lobby. I really enjoy this job! Maybe someday I will go into visual marketing?

Saturday night a fellow Products team member and I got together for a cook and craft night! We wanted to set aside an evening of fun and fellowship, as well as it being a time of productivity where we could work together on making some headbands that we plan on selling for fundraising. It was so much fun and this is what we made:

Mongolian Beef


  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (we used ginger paste)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar (the light brown sugar we used worked just fine)
  • 1 pound of beef steak
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 scallions (green parts only), sliced into 1-inch pieces


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saucepot over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water, stirring to combine.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium. Bring the sauce to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
  3. Slice the meat against the grain into pieces, then toss them with the cornstarch. Allow the cornstarch coated steak to sit 10 for minutes.
  4. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the beef to the pan and sauté until cooked through.
  5.  Remove the steak from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it onto a paper towel-lined plate. Pour any excess oil out of pan.
  6. Place the sauté pan back over medium heat. Add the prepared sauce to the hot pan (it should come to a boil almost immediately), then add the reserved steak and cook at a boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Add the sliced scallions, stirring to combine.

This Mongolian Beef recipe was SO delicious! We paired it with some brown rice and it made for a very wholesome meal. 


After cooking, we began working on the headbands! Making these headbands for fundraising can be quite an enjoyable task, so long as we don't wait until the last minute before tour to make them. We made the first headbands of the year that night and though we made quite a number of them, we still have a lot more to go! I am so slow when it comes to crafting and multitasking at the same time and I include all the talking I was doing that night, as multitasking! Oh well, at least we got the ball rolling!

To purchase one of these creations for yourself follow the link HERE. If you would like to know how to make the little flowers we use to decorate our headbands check out my tutorial HERE. They are so cute and you can use them to decorate anything from hair pieces to clothing, wreaths to gift wrapping! I hope you have fun trying these projects for yourself!

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Thanks for reading!

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Do It Yourself: Fabric Flowers

Making these cute little flowers is a wonderful simple little project that anybody can do! These flowers are perfect for using up those random scraps of fabric. Use these flowers to decorate anything from hair pieces to clothing, wreaths to gift wrapping! With the level of difficulty for this project being minimal, you will need to know how to use a needle and thread. 

What You'll need:

  • needle and thread
  • Strips of 2" x 16" fabric or ribbon (the wider the strip, the larger scale the flower and you'll need more length too. Have fun mixing sizes on your project)
  • Scissors

The steps are as easy as 1,2,3...4,5  ^_^

Here's what you'll do as shown in the tutorial photo above:

1. Fold your strip of fabric in half.

2. At one of the ends of the folded strip of fabric tie a lose flat knot. tuck the shorter end of excess under to conceal it.

3. begin creating folds that tuck under the knot, the center of axis of your flower, rotating it as you go, holding the folds in place with your fingers.

4. Not after you have too many folds, now go ahead and take your needle and thread and tack them all in place on the underside of your flower. Repeating until...

5. Once your flower reaches the desired size, snip off the remaining fabric with your scissors.

*Make sure everything is secure and tacked down with your thread. I like to sew down the folds, both at the center of axis as well sewing the fold into the previous fold (if that makes sense). I also like to sew down the remaining fabric left under the flower, at the end.

A) This is what the underside looks like. It is not pretty but that is the side that no one will see so that is okay.

B) What the front looks like, all finish! ^_^

C) you can go around and around as many times as you want if you prefer your flower to look even more full and abundant.

D) If you so desire, embellish the center with gems, beads or buttons!

Have Fun, Be Creative!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Lessons Learned in January

January, my first month blogging has finally come to an end, and I believe it has been quite a successful start! Thank you so much for supporting The Occupied Optimist and for reading! For this entry, I would like to share with you five specially selected lessons out of many, that the Lord had begun teaching me over the past month. 


Correction is different from condemnation. Maybe I am just a sensitive soul but I often get these two things mixed up with one another, which then can lead to catastrophic mental and emotional chaos and discouragement. For a performing artist, such as myself, correction and criticism are things that I constantly face on a daily basis. Maybe that is just life? After all, without some good constructive criticism, correction, and learning from mistakes, how else would one improve and move forward to bigger and better things? But honestly, sometimes receiving correction can be hard, especially when it can come so frequently at times for me as a dancer.

God has been teaching me that I just need to take corrections at face value and that they are not the same thing as condemnation. Believing that correction denotes condemnation, can make life very messy and stressful. I was not only applying that false belief to the corrections I received from my ballet instructors, or other authority figures but also when I felt I was being given correction from the Lord! Listen, Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus! To equate correction with condemnation is fallacious and a lie from hell. Once I had realized that, I was able to feel a lot more freed up in my dance classes, in life in general and in my relationship with God. Shame and guilt went away. I do believe that occasionally I will be corrected by a mortal peer or authority figure in a condemning manner, but that is when I need to extend grace to that individual, take the correction at face value, and know that "If Christ is for me, who can be against me" Romans 8:31, not taking their condemnation to personally.


Making mistakes signifies growth, discovery, and helps you in conquering fears. So don't be afraid to make mistakes! Somewhere along the way, I developed the idea that having to learn lessons from making mistakes is the equivalent to "moving backward", that it is unproductive, and is an indication of failure which is not true. I don't know where I get these ideas from? Satan?! You could imagine with all the lessons that life throws at you at the age of 25 that it was hard for me to not be depressed holding onto such silly notions. My mother would always tell me that making mistakes and learning lessons are just a part of life. She would encourage me by sharing stories about how even at her age, she is still learning, but somehow her exhortations did not sink in until only recently. This past month I have gained a better understanding of how making mistakes is not necessarily a bad thing, but is a sign of a life being well lived.


Pride erodes. There were some days at my workplace, when I felt that there was an elephant in the room that no one could see except for me! It affected me greatly causing tension and discomfort; its presence was almost paralyzing to my body and soul. What exactly was the elephant, and why did it appear as if no one else was affected by it? At first, I thought the elephant was the attitude of a specific person I could just not get along with. Then thought perhaps, more specifically, that it was their disbelief in me. But after further contemplation and observation, I came to the conclusion that that individual was innocent of such accusations.

In my very confused state, I persisted through my days still agitated by the elephant in the room, trying to figure out the mystery of what exactly it could be. Next I presumed that perhaps, the elephant was disbelief residing within myself; that I was causing the problem by having a lack of faith in myself and my abilities! Don't you find disbelief to be quite debilitating? So I did everything in my control to turn things around, to start believing in myself, and to reboost my confidence in order to make the elephant go away. But it didn't go away! The elephant got bigger!

Very distressed and frustrated, with thoughts muddled, the Holy Spirit finally intervened and whispered, "Proverbs 16:18 Pride comes before the fall". God showed me that my elephant was pride disguised all along; that it didn't matter how much or little belief or faith I had in myself, or that anybody else had in me, but that my only boast should be in Christ as Galatians 6:14 says "May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." The problem was that I was dealing with all sorts of bitterness, jealousy, and insecurity which were all rooted in pride and that I was trying to fix things all on my own. The solution lied in the basis of humility and gazing my eyes upon Christ instead of myself or anything else. After all, anything that I am is only because of Him and that is humbling! Romans 11:36 says "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

  • 1Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


Counting your blessings and giving thanks for them is most edifying. The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that it is God's will for us to be thankful. Blogging is so good for me. I have discovered with keeping up with this blog, that I have to hold myself accountable in intentionally looking for and finding good things about my day to share with you! It helps me to more often be reflecting on all the good things the Lord has been doing in my life, day in and day out, and it cultivates gratitude within me! Find out what works for you! Genuine thankfulness is key. I used to keep a journal and write down one good thing that happened to me for each day. This is a great idea and works for some people. Unfortunately for me, doing that very quickly became mundane, ritualistic, and void of authentic gratitude, and without true thankfulness and praise to the one who gave me all the things to be "thankful" for in the first place, recording them all down is meaningless!


You can never love or seek God enough. I have realized that I have grown complacent in my walk with God, which if you ask me, is easy to do especially if you are in the business of ministry. It reminds me of how a couple of years ago my company did a bible study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss based on common ministry pitfalls. It was really good! Basically, I find myself in the place of "talking the talk and not walking the walk", along with just striving through life and ministry in my own strength. In a sense, I have sort of had this idea that I "have arrived spiritually", that "I could not possibly love the Lord more"

Coinciding with the theme of Humility mentioned in #3, God has challenged me this month with the truth, which is that I could have never had been so WRONG, about thinking those things about myself. I am so glad that God meets us where we are at! I have a lot to learn about ministry. Specifically, God has been teaching me about the Holy Spirit; who he is, how to listen to him better, and also how to pray prayers through him. God has been showing me that I have not been utilizing all the power and kingdom authority that the Spirit has to offer. It is a mysterious thing and I think that sometimes (most times) I am scared or too timid to act on what the Holy Spirit urges of me because of my lack of understanding and trust of it, because my own thoughts of reason and sense override him. Though I was reminded by a fellow friend of mine that there are tons of stories in the bible where the actions of people and/or the requests of Jesus to people, didn't make yet resulted in miracles. I am learning that once I get past my self-consciousness and worries of what other people think about me, I can hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me so much more clearly! I look forward to growing in this area of my spiritual life, and in growing more sensitive and submissive to the Spirit. And also, simply speaking, I am learning that I can never ever love God enough. I am so glad God is teaching me all this before my dance company leaves for tour. I believe he is preparing my heart for ministry because opportunities always seem to increase whenever we set out, on the road! Pray for us!

  • John 14:16-18 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
 ~Phl 3: 12-14

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