Friday, May 18, 2018

Mountain Tops and Valleys

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". 

Image Source

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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  1. Great blog post, Lillian! Our family absolutely loved our time with all of you! Look forward to seeing you next month!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! I am SOO EXCITED to see YA'LL! ...and on my terf! ^_^ Happy Preparing!