Now that I work in social media, I understand what an all-consuming art it can be. Especially for work, I'm constantly checking: how much engagement does this have? Likes? Comments? What's the most compelling comment I can come up with while still being positive and encouraging rather than sarcastic, biting, or—much worse—manipulative?
Through social media (ironically?), I found this very interesting graffiti piece in Vancouver entitled, "Nobody Likes Me" and then read an enlightening article about the artist's inspiration behind it. For me, excelling at my job was the initial motivation to become engrossed in every aspect of social media, but it's certainly so easy to let that motivation and obsession be clouded with thoughts of personal affirmation, identity, self-worth, and value. It's no doubt a slippery slope. The instant gratification when something's good is powerful, and the lack of gratification stings that much more when something is, well, the opposite of good.
Don't get me wrong. I love social media and am a huge proponent of the way it allows people to connect and communicate in ways they normally wouldn't. But, I was glad to see someone draw out a very real truth that is often missed and overlooked—or, maybe just taboo to speak of—in the vast world of online media. Thanks for the recalibration.
Want to know why?
Ok, I'll tell you. Last June, I was involved in a project with my friend Monica Allison who's an extremely talented singer & songwriter. She has this amazing album called You Can't Take It Back (which happens to also be her return policy, she says) and she made a music video for one of the songs on this album, Small Town.
In 40 seconds when you're done watching this sneak peek video, you'll know as much as I do about what the final product will look like—because the real deal won't be released until Wednesday.
I'm so excited to see it, I can barely stand it. Waiting with baited breath now...
We sang all my favorite Easter hymns at church today. We celebrated, we listened to stories of changed lives, and we ate and drank in remembrance of Him. It was a special day for this, and, I admit, I cried through most of it. What can I say—I am my mother's daughter.
The rest of the day was spent experiencing a small piece of what heaven may be like: in community, gathered around a table with families and friends. It was brunch in Brooklyn with some of the sweetest people I know in this city. And after a short rest in the afternoon, that led straight into a potluck dinner at a wonderful neighbor friend's house, also with some of the sweetest people I know. It was a good, full day and for no reason that I actually deserve.
Those are the kind that make you most thankful.
I couldn't get enough hugs from this little guy yesterday. I barely let him out of my grip for five seconds (but he let me know he didn't care for that so much) as we made our final Central Park playground jaunt together.
He hopped on a plane bright and early this morning and said goodbye to New York City as he'll be making his new home in the City of Angels. (You may have seen that his sister left on Saturday.)
It was almost as if Luke knew what was happening yesterday. He kept waving and saying goodbye the whole time, and then...right as I was about to step on the elevator, I got this awesome high five followed by a hug. What a special last memory.
My little buddy Luke, I'll see ya later! Very soon, I hope.
I love Fridays.
But this Friday I'm feeling extra nostalgic and a tiny bit sad as this little girl spends her last day in New York City. She's off to an exciting, new adventure tomorrow as she says goodbye to the Big Apple and moves to warmer temps and sunnier days with her mom, dad, and little brother.
New York is full of goodbyes. I'd like to say I've gotten used to them by now, but not really. You don't really ever get used to parting with people you love time and time again. And while this city has a lot of splendor and glory to offer, its transience isn't one of them.
"Let's interlock hands to take a picture of our nails!"
And then my heart melted.
I never thought I'd have a blog post quite like this, but there's a first time for everything, I suppose.
Meanwhile, my mom used to tell me she did crazy things because she had four kids and she had lost her mind during the process. Either I inherited a crazy brain gene (without the four kids) or New York has made me crazy. Because somewhere along the way, I lost my mind.
I had been so excited about this event for weeks. My friend Jenny was going to be speaking and signing her newly released book, Dancing Through It, at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble on Monday night. I corralled my fellow ballet-loving friends and we went to hear the discussion.
Even though I already had one signed book from Jenny, I was waiting in line for another for my friend Maggie who had to leave the event a little early. There was a table stacked high with Jenny's books on display to grab as we snaked through the line, and when I finally reached Jenny and her sharpie, she stealthily handed me another book she had gifted to pass along to my mom. As we happily waited to get a picture with the author herself, without thinking, I shoved the books into my purse. After our photos and goodbyes, my friends and I gathered our things, made our way downstairs and began parting ways.
And, without hesitation or a moment's pause we walked straight through the doors. Never thinking twice. Shoplifted books in hand!
It didn't dawn on me what happened until I was on the crosstown bus back to my apartment. When I realized, panic ensued. I wildly texted my friends—who had done the same thing!—and asked if they had paid for their books, even though I knew none of us had.
While the next half hour involved a lot of worse case scenarios in my mind—including jail time and public ridicule, the mistake was easily solved. I called Barnes & Noble before they closed, explained what happened, and asked to pay for the book over the phone. Despite the one employee's annoyed tone after my confession of what I had done, the debt is now settled.
But, sheesh, I never thought I'd have that offense on my record! Hopefully it's the last, ever...
In the midst of mixed emotions during Jenifer Ringer's farewell performance, it was undoubtedly a magical sendoff. Former dancers, partners, and colleagues paraded on stage to bring her well-wishes and flowers. But my favorite part of the celebration? The confetti and streamers that practically shot out of a cannon from overhead.
I couldn't help but share a few more of the magical photos from the day:
I only recently learned what a grand jete was.
And that was because my six year old friend, Grace, showed me.
Needless to say, I don't know all that much about ballet. But over the last two years I've begun to educate myself, both directly and indirectly, through the art and work of one ballerina in particular: Jenifer Ringer.
To me, though, she's always been Jenny Fayette, mom of Grace and Luke who became a dear friend. I spent a great deal of time getting to know Jenny and her family when I became the nanny for her two amazing children a couple years ago. I was handed the job from a friend in New York as she packed her bags and left the city for a new adventure and home in Colorado.
I knew a little about Jenny before I met her and her family, but not much—most of my information had come from her spotlight during Sugarplumgate a few years prior. She spoke on Oprah and The Today Show after she'd been called "fat" by a New York Times dance critic following opening night of the Nutcracker. There was an outcry of support from the masses, and she made a few television appearances regarding the topic. She spoke in every interview with such grace and poise, especially considering she'd been very outspoken about her past eating disorders.
Despite the spotlight (because of a successful ballet career, not just this one incident!), from the first time I met her, her graciousness, warmth, and radiance shone bright. Her kindness was evident in every word she spoke. I'd never met anyone quite like her—her genuine smile, her warm words (both of which are a rare find for someone who's been living in New York for over twenty five years), and her constant affirmation were so welcoming. After I began keeping her kids, I realized every bit of that warmth and kindness was real. It was who she was on the inside, not who she portrayed to the world to be.
The longer I've known her, the more I've found something to be true. She's an extraordinary woman who has been given much talent, grace, and beauty, but she has given back even more.
Knowing her as a friend has been such a gift to me. What I naively didn't realize—until I witnessed her farewell performance last Sunday—was that her life, her artistry, and her dance have been a gift to thousands of other people as well. She's inspired everyone: the aspiring dancer, the person struggling with an eating disorder, the avid fan of the ballet, and the girl living in the Big Apple trying to make the most of the difficulties that come in this city. No doubt, the love and admiration in the audience last Sunday were palpable. If I've learned one thing about the ballet in my two years of informal understudy, it's this: Jenifer Ringer is the people's ballerina.
I fought back tears with a lump in my throat for the duration of the performance and especially during her final bow. I'm sad never to have the chance to see her perform onstage again. But even more so, I'm sad for those who have watched her for years with such delight and will never see her perform again. While Jenny's career as a professional dancer came to a close last weekend, she accomplished something many of us may never know. She found something she loved as a very young girl, and she used that gift and talent to inspire others.
And that is the true loss in her farewell. The ballet world has lost in Jenny's retirement what many may have never known existed: someone who pursued a career for the pure joy and beauty it provided for those experiencing it. She is a true, genuine, and lovely-to-the-core ballerina—not only because of her loveliness as a person, but because of the beauty she imparted with a deep, passionate perfection of the art itself.
It was a glorious goodbye. Merde, Jenny, in all that is coming next for you!
[photo via New York City Ballet facebook page]
Cupcakes tend to have that effect on people.
Especially when they're fabulously-themed Valentine's cupcakes with extra sprinkles.
But not for the romantic reasons.
I always love a good handwritten & homemade note, especially on Valentine's Day. (I'd be lying if I said I don't love celebrating the pink and red, love-inspired holiday.) This year, I celebrated with two pretty special cards from two of my sweetest friends, and an even more special gift from my dear friend, Jenny: an advance copy of her book, Dancing Through It, that is set to be released this coming Thursday. I couldn't even wait until I got home last night to start reading; I opened it the moment I reached the subway platform to wait for the next train.
And now I'm not feeling so bad about the piled-up 10+ inches of snow outside after all. You'll know where to find me on this long holiday weekend—curled up & reading!
I still can't believe I got to witness Jenifer Ringer's farewell performance yesterday. And I'm still processing hundreds of thoughts and emotions from the day, but the one thing I know for sure: it was a bittersweet adieu for the entire audience.
NYCBallet won't be the same without her beautiful artistry—that sentiment was felt universally.
If you follow Taylor Swift on twitter (who doesn't, right?), you may have seen this picture in a tweet from her on Saturday night.
This is a photo from her concert at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
I—along with 55,000 other teenyboppers—was there!!! It was a wonderfully entertaining time, and I have more pictures to share. But thanks to TSwift for kindly letting me use her photo for now.
...in none other than Times Square.