Wednesday, June 27, 2012


An image of one of Colorado's current wildfires up north
If you haven't heard, our state is burning up. Literally.

It started out with just one, then they multiplied. My friend just told me that about a third of the population of Colorado Springs has been evacuated. Scary, right? Fire is frightening because it can be so out of our control.

Please pray for our state. Pray for rain, for the firefighters, and for all the people impacted.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Forgiveness Tank

God calls us to forgive. Often. This all sounds good and fine until someone really hurts you. I'm not talking being stood up for a phone date, or someone borrowing your shirt and forgetting to give it back. Sometimes people really hurt you, on purpose. It's meant to sting, for you to feel it down to the depth of your soul.

Ever gone through that?

Ever done that to someone? I have. More than once, unfortunately.

"Forgive." Even THEN, God says. Seven times seventy times we are to forgive. Not having God's infinite ability to love those who have hurt me, I struggle with that. The bottom of my forgiveness "tank" appears fairly quickly in situations where my heart is concerned.  I can blame it on my personality, my baggage, my childhood, etc. etc. etc. But the fact is I'm human. More than that, I often forget that I've done the same thing to many people. The only one who loves perfectly all the time is God.

He offers to give us the ability to love those who, ironically, are human too. We are so imperfect. We try to make excuses for ourselves. I know, because I do it all the time: "I was in the right. They are the ones that need to change. I have done nothing wrong." When in actuality, we all do wrong. All the time. I know, because I do. All the time.

Seven times seventy? Sounds like a lot. Until I think about how many times God has forgiven me. And how many times Casey has forgiven me for various things. And how many times my friends have as well. Amazing, incredible gifts that were tossed my way when I was being a huge jerk.

I pray the people in my life have the eyes to see that, when I struggle with being a jerk, I desperately need forgiveness from them. I also pray that I will remember often, that God fills up my forgiveness tank with His ability to love and move past things.

Monday, June 25, 2012



Few things annoy me more: Calling espresso, "expresso." Especially when Starbucks workers use it! Auuugghh! It's like fingernails on a chalkboard-- if anyone uses chalkboards anymore. I believe they've officially been replaced by white boards and eraseable markers. Nails make very little sound on those things.

Maybe it's all the time I spent living in Italy that made me a huge language snob. I often have to bite my tongue when someone asks me if I want "a biscotti," because in Italian that word means "cookies." Plural.

Panini? Means "sandwiches." Plural. "Panino" is the singular in this case.

But even I admit the words "panino" and "biscotto" are virtually unknown to the non-Italian public-- "expresso" is different. It just SOUNDS wrong, doesn't it?

So here is your Italian lesson for the day: The next time you ask for this heavenly, amazing, delicious beverage, use the word ESPRESSO. With an S. And while you're at it, tell the guy working at my local Starbucks the correct way to say it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Hauntingly, heartbreakingly beautiful:

"Long walks in the dark, through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be. The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie. I said a prayer and fell asleep. I had a dream, that I could fly from the highest tree. I had a dream." (Priscilla Ahn, "Dream")

I highly recommend watching the entire music video and hearing her amazingly beautiful voice for yourself:

I have dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer since the age of seven. Fast forward to a moment over a year ago, before a show with Ballet Ariel, minutes before stepping onstage. I had my iPod in, and was listening to calming songs to subdue my typical pre-show butterflies. "Dream" began to play, and the above line ("God answered in silent reverie...") struck me straight to the depths of my soul. I happened to be pacing nearby a mirror at the time, and looked myself straight in the face-- stage makeup on, flower wreath around my ballet bun, and costume/pointe shoes tied on and ready to go. I saw in that mirror a professional ballet dancer, ready to go onstage and share my love and joy of dancing with whoever was sitting in that audience. 

I don't know how I hadn't realized it until then-- but God had answered my hopes and prayers.

Peter Strand and I in "Napoli" with Ballet Ariel, March 2011

God had answered my prayers, but as a seven year old, I had no idea what that would look like. I don't remember specifically, but I'm pretty sure I'd hoped to be a principal dancer in a big, well known ballet company like New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre. I know that as I grew older (especially as a teen), that this specific hope became much more pronounced. Sometimes dreams don't pan out the way we originally plan. God knew that with my personality and emotional makeup, a big, crowded, competitive company of 30+ dancers was not the right fit for me or my talents. He knew that I would emotionally and artistically thrive in a smaller community-- and handpicked the people I'd work with and under. This is exactly what has happened. I absolutely adore where I am at artistically with my current company. It is a difficult, sometimes back-breaking career with many challenges. Nevertheless, I see it as an amazing gift from the one who created me with specific talents and passions, and placed me exactly where I am now.

"I had a dream that I could fly from the highest tree..." God listens to our hopes and desires, and when we share these with Him, He answers us in the best, most beautiful and perfect way possible.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Confessions of a Reactivated Facebooker

Oooohhh! See what I did there? I changed up the title on you. And stuff.


Yes, I am back on Facebook. Or, for the lazy person (me): FB. I am pleased to say it is going very well. I am only on for about 20 minutes a day, which is practically perfect in every way. It's enough time to check my notifications, look at a couple interesting tidbits or pictures, then log off. I've also made a rule that I won't be dowloading the FB app on my phone, so it won't be a temptation to log on when I'm stuck somewhere or bored in the doctor's waiting room.

People have been very sweet in welcoming me back, and have been commenting on my wall: "We missed you!" and "Glad to see you back!" This makes me happy. I did miss the community a lot, and seeing everyone's shining faces. And now that I have some parameters, I am expecting this to be a much healthier experience. It already feels so different from before.

How about you? What is your FB experience like lately? Have you ever found yourself spending too much time on it? Did you ever take a break? Talk amongst yourselves... I'll give you a topic...

Oh wait, I already did that. My bad.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Avians Are T.O.'d

Angry Birds. It's not a description of the emotional state of one of my pets. It's a video game that I've only played a couple times- the second time being last night.

People continually say how "addicting" and "fun" it is... And I'll agree with that. But only for about an hour.

Last night I was playing this particular game with my friend. He was pretty good. Better than me, in fact. Suddenly, I was transported back to 9 year old Gina, who played a lot of video games with her brothers. Incidentally, both my brothers are now owners of computer/tech businesses. Yeah... I turned out to be a professional dancer and dance teacher. Can you guess who was better at Super Mario Brothers and Final Fight?

In the first fifteen minutes of playing Angry Birds last night, I thought, "I don't suck so bad. I just need practice."

Fifteen minutes later: "I still suck... Maybe I just need to stick with it and NOT GIVE UP!"

Half an hour later: "I really suck at this. And I'm getting bored."

Forty five minutes later: "I am getting infinitely suckier, and I'M DONE."

Addicting? Yes. Fun? I'll admit to that. But only for awhile. Then it just gets annoying... Those pigs laughing at you gets really, really old. I'll probably end up playing again at some point though, because who wants to admit they can't beat a green cartoon pig hiding under a piece of wood?

Not me!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bella's Havin' a Baby... Vampire

Cullen family portrait

I am halfway through Bram Stoker's Dracula. What can I say, vampires are scary. My first "experience" really thinking about the blood-suckers in depth was when I read the Twilight series. The story conditioned me to think of our undead friends as mostly good-natured, deer-hunting individuals-- committed to keeping you (meaning you-- humans) safe from their unfortunate need for blood.

Reading about Count Dracula though, who (SPOILER ALERT! If you plan to read the book Dracula, skip to the next paragraph. Unless you don't care. Then, by all means, keep reading) has no problem hurting, sucking blood from, and generally ruining the eternal lives of both children and adults. He's AWFUL. Just awful. I hate the guy.

Yeah, yeah. I know. He's not real. Or IS he?

Regardless, there was a point where I was reading about the Count's devious and evil ways and thinking, "Twilight totally ruined me for this book. Vampires aren't out for my best interest. They want to suck my blood and turn me into an undead, terrible person, just like they are."

Curse you, Edward and Bella! And your little half-vampire baby too! (Oops, there goes another another spoiler alert). But I am wise to your ways now. If I hear flapping outside my window late at night, I will NOT be inviting you in to have some tea and watch Hannah Montana. Watch out. Because I'll be in the kitchen, peeling garlic cloves. And peeling. And peeling. And then peeling some more.

Because those things take forever! Ya know?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Confessions of a Deactivated Facebooker: Reactivation... And Free Brownies.

Some of you have been following my journey of being unplugged from Facebook. Here's a new twist in the story: I'm reactivating.

It's been almost three full months since I deactivated my FB account. (Click the blue links throughout this post to read about my experiences unplugged). My reason for deactivation? Plain and simple: The time I spent on this social media site was taking my attention away from some really important things in my life.
It came to a point where I realized I needed a break. And so, I took one. I'm so glad I did. Here's what I re-discovered during this time:

  • I like to read. I always have, but during my break, I've been reading  much more (currently I'm in the middle of Bram Stoker's Dracula), and it's so very delightful! I looooooove it.
  • I really  like to write.  And think deeply. In the last three months, I've traded status updates for longer blog posts. I've gotten to listen to my soul in a much deeper way and sharpen my writing and communication skills. No plans on stopping that.
  • I really like my friends. I reconnected face to face with lots of different people in my off time from FB. Coffee/lunch/frozen yogurt dates filled my heart up in a way that I really needed. Yeah. Totally continuing that.
  • I really really REALLY like my husband. I'm going out on a limb here and ask: Don't we all spend way too much time on FB that we could be spending with our significant other and/or best friends? I did. No way I'm trading back now.
  • I LOVE God. Although I definitely still could be spending more time talking with Him, I found that the sounds of silence forced me to listen to His voice a lot more and get closer to Him. And for that I'm forever grateful.  I refuse to give Him, or my time with Him, up.
All that said... It is obvious to me now that I can go back to FB and not get too wrapped up in it again. I've rediscovered highly precious things I would be a fool to give up in its place. I will be spending a very small amount of time on FB compared to before (on purpose), and I am forever grateful for the change the break made in my habits. I highly recommend taking a break from FB, if you are at all feeling that you've traded important things for time on it.

Here's to a new, much healthier FB experience! And free brownies! (Wait... I don't get free brownies for reactivating? Heyyyy..... I might have to re-think all this...)

Totes M'Goats.


"Totes my goats," you say?

I've been hearing this saying here and there and everywhere for the last several months. Does anyone have any clue where this came from? Did it hail from the Magical Land of Trendy Quotations?

If I am not mistaken, "rad," "totally tubular," and "gag me with a pitchfork" also come from this enchanted place.

And, might I ask: How in the world did you obtain said goats, and where exactly are you planning on toting them? They look pretty happy exactly where they are, IMHO.

If you figure it out, let me know.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Made Disney's Douchebag List

So, apparently my latest role has made it onto the "Disney's Douchiest Characters":

I am so excited! Let me explain further.

My whole dancing life, I have been cast as the "safe" character. In ballet, this usually means the princess type, or at the very least, the nice ones. In The Nutcracker, I often got cast as a pretty Shepherdess (the reed flute variation) and of course, a flower or snowflake. I still have never been cast as the "saucy" Spanish girl in Nutcracker. Ok, ok, so I'm really white, but that's just discrimination, right???

A little background: My training is in the Royal Academy of Dance method, which in ballet terms, means the teaching syllabus used in England and many other places all over the world. In layman's terms, it's extremely classical ballet-ish. So it's not surprising that my roles reflected that.

It was not until a few years ago that choreographers began giving me the chance to be a little out of the box, dance wise. I got a chance to do a kick-butt piece to Nine Inch Nails a few years ago, which was very contemporary in style. I have recently been privileged to dance the Arabian variation at Ballet Ariel. And (getting to my point) I was recently given the chance to be the "not nice" girl as a Stepsister.

I got to be a douchebag! Yeah!

I do love the classical roles, wearing a tiara and tutu or pretty flowy dress, smiling pretty and being nice to people. I look forward to doing more of these roles in the future, don't get me wrong. But getting to romp around stage being mean to someone, even being ugly, is one of the greatest things I've ever experienced onstage. Drawing on my acting and musical theater experience to portray Doris in a full length ballet (Cinderella) brought my two great loves together.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Things I Learned From My Cat

Things I have learned from my cat, Stella:


  • Everyone is trying to kill me
  • Life is about lying in front of the window and watching squirrels
  • Scratching and biting is the best way to communicate my issues 
  • Treats are the most important thing in life. Ever.
  • Resting is a good thing.
Ok, so maybe I haven't learned all that much from Stella. But today I am taking some moments to rest and that is a good thing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lemonade, anyone?

Writing this post will undoubtedly make me miss my brothers even more than I already do, but here we go anyway.

As I made breakfast this morning, my "Dean Martin" Pandora station played the song "Summertime." Summertime, and the livin is easy. Your daddy's rich, and your momma's good lookin. These famous lyrics always make me stop and wonder what the writer meant, and why they felt the need to tell me this about my parents... Anyway, I realized that today, my summer has officially begun. With the Ballet Ariel season officially over, I enter a new phase of life. My bed begins the strong argument that spending time in it is much more fun than getting up and taking ballet class (I am not forced to be there as I am when on contract). I often resort to yelling at my bed in this situation, but that is another blog (a two year old blog at that).

Summertime. When I was younger, it meant swim lessons, popsicles, and "The Refreshment Place," the lemonade stand my two brothers and I ran a few summers in a row. We not only sold lemonade, but being the shrewd business kids we were, we realized not everyone liked lemonade. So we offered cookies, punch, and popsicles (ok, ok, Otter Pops-- anyone remember these???) as well. My older brother was quite strict with us and how many cookies we could eat ourselves. I remember him yelling at us if we had more than a couple in a day. My younger brother and I were much more relaxed about these things. Ironically, all three of us now own and run our own businesses.

What memories does the season of summer bring to you?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

End of Season Thoughts

The performance in Leadville went really well. I could breathe much better than I could last year when we performed "Avoca." Maybe it is because I took a few people's advice about drinking a ton of water beforehand, or maybe it was just a little gift from God. Not sure, but I'm happy about it. I'm also happy about the audience that showed up! They were, from the very first moments of the ballet, very vocal and supportive. They seemed to come ready to laugh, clap and cheer loudly. As stepsisters, Peter and I got many laughs for our bits, which makes my heart so happy! I love to make people laugh, and to hear it is like music to my ears. I found a lump in my throat as the curtain fell after final bows-- I will sorely miss hamming it up with my "sister" Peony.

A rerun picture, but appropriate: Peter and I as Peony and Doris, the crazy Stepsisters.

Despite this lump, this tour was super fun for me. One memorably fun time was dinner with fellow company members when we got to take a load off and celebrate the closing of the show. We made pasta and hung out at the rental house down the street from the Opera House. I consider it a huge privilege to be friends with my coworkers. I work with some huge-hearted, hilarious and interesting people! We had lots of laughs and good conversation sitting around until the wee hours of the morning. What great bonding time for us before a couple month break from seeing each other on such a regular basis.

Today is Sunday. We carpooled back after stopping at a local Leadville coffeehouse for our morning caffiene. Such a cute place. I bought a postcard of the main drag of Leadville to remember the fun experience I had here this summer.

Now what? I plan to take my regular ballet classes (hopefully almost daily), work out at the gym, and attend pilates classes in order to keep in shape for the next season (starting in August). I'll still be teaching, and working on my social media marketing business SugarPlum Ltd. As I mentioned in my previous post, ending a ballet season is always bittersweet. This time I plan to celebrate all the beautiful times I had this year, onstage and off, as well as process the challenges and try to grow from them. It was overall a wonderful year and I am so happy I found myself dancing for Ballet Ariel this season. I am looking forward to brand shiny new one coming up in a couple months.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Getting High

For the next two days, I'm getting high. And I'm not coming down till Sunday.

Yep, this afternoon the company and I are taking a trip to Leadville (10,000 ft) and performing our full length Cinderella at this immensely HIGH elevation.

You thought I was talking about something else, didn't ya.

This last show should be interesting for several reasons: a) At 10,000 feet, I may have to carry an oxygen tank around on my back along with my fairy wings, b) The Tabor Opera House is a beautiful, historic theater, but widely known to have ghosts, c) This is the last time I'll get to perform this show in its full length, as far as I know.

Sugar Plum Fairy in Ballet Ariel's Nutcracker 2011 (photo by Jenna Holliday)

There's always a bittersweetness about closing a show and dance season. Every season has ups and downs, accomplishments and setbacks, but for me I feel like this one was my best yet-- professionally and emotionally. I was privileged to dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy for the first time (perhaps the most challenging role I've ever done), and even got a taste of delightful musical theater style acting as a Stepsister in Cinderella. Every role is different. The physical/mental/emotional work that goes into each one is truly exhausting-- but in the best way possible.

I get the feeling I am right where I'm supposed to be despite the lows, and I have grown much through the times of struggle. That's what's funny about life. Without the low points, I would never grow, so I am grateful even (especially???) for these.

And, God willing, I'll be back for another season of  full of new experiences.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Last Chance to Fit in the Glass Slipper...

Tomorrow night is the last time we'll be performing Cinderella in Denver! The outdoor ampitheater at the Arvada Center is one of my favorite venues to perform at. There is covered seating  but a lot of people choose to sit on the grass and watch the show. Sitting outside and watching dance/theater/music makes for one very amazing opportunity: Snacks. I am a huge fan of dinner theater because you get to eat and ALSO watch something awesome.  Before I joined Ballet Ariel a couple years ago, I watched the company perform at this same outdoor ampitheater. I sat and enjoyed some great dance while eating Twizzlers and drinking Dr. Pepper. What, may I ask, could be better than that?

So here's the scoop: We're performing with the Colorado Children's Chorale Festival Singers. They will go first at 7:30 pm, and we will perform an annotated version of Cinderella at 8:30 pm (it's an hour version of the full length ballet, great for kids). If you'd like to come, and I hope you do, here's a link to all the info you may need:

After that, the company travels to Leadville to perform at the historic Tabor Opera House Saturday night. We performed a ballet based on Molly Brown's life there last year and it was one of the most memorable shows I've ever done. This theater is truly unique and the audience was bar none one of the best I've ever performed for, complete with "bravo!"'s and "brava!"'s.

I will be sad to begin saying goodbye to Doris, my stepsister character, but am pleased to share that I'll get to dance bits and pieces from Cinderella later this summer and probably this fall at collaborative dance shows.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

No Excuses Please.

Tears so early on a Tuesday? Totally worth it.

No exuses:

More later when I can pull myself and thoughts together about this amazing video and person.

Monday, June 4, 2012

To Be Thirteen

Friendship bracelets... Boomboxes... Nerds candy... Debbie Gibson... Mile high bangs... These are the things I think of when I travel back in time to age thirteen. About to go into eighth grade, boys suddenly became interesting rather than annoying. Suddenly school dances became events of the century (even if I didn't go).

I've been thinking about being thirteen a lot lately, because I've had the privilege of having a girl about that age around me (we'll call her Emma) pretty consistently the last couple months. A couple weeks ago she made me a friendship bracelet. I haven't worn one of these things for years. My best friend Andrea (who I've known now for almost twenty years... Wait, wait... Twenty YEARS? MAKE IT STOP!!! I suddenly feel elderly...) made me one when we were just into high school and I still have it. One of the things that touch my heart like no other are handmade or handpicked gifts. I put on the bracelet Emma made me immediately after she gave it to me. Did I mention she sneakily asked me what my favorite colors were a few days beforehand? "Just wondering," she said, after I told her pink and light blue were my current choices.

Me with my brand new friendship bracelet

At thirteen, life is not simple. You thought I was going to say something different, didn't you? For me, life was more than a bit complicated. Life at home was full of transition. On top of that, I was working hard to become the best ballerina I possibly could, I was adjusting to junior high culture, and also at the top of the list I needed to figure out if my crush liked me back. Thirteen year old girls need support. Their problems are not "small" or simple compared to ours (even if it really looks that way from the outside). In their minds, that upcoming school dance is as large as whatever issue you may be having in your marriage. Reaching for that next goal in ballet class is no different than that current goal you hold in your career. But still, I've noticed that Emma lives more in the moment than I do. She fully expects fun and joyful things to pop up in her life and enjoys them to the hilt when they do-- even though her life is far from perfect.

Why do thirteen year olds think so differently than us adults? The harsh reality of adult life has not jaded them yet. They are able to give freely and lovingly without strings (ie, my lovely friendship bracelet). They fully expect big and beautiful things for the future. I still find my thirty-four year old self hoping just as hard as my thirteen year old self did, but with less expectation that big and beautiful things could actually happen.

What happened to thirteen year old Gina? Now, with God, I know all things are possible. Yet, most of the time now I don't dream too big anymore. Thirteen year old Gina had the image in her mind of dancing the role of Juliet at ABT. I know now this will never happen, and actually I am not sad about it. It is just reality, and I am one hundred percent happy in my current dance career. It all worked about perfectly in the way I needed. But something about being thirteen allows you to dream big. Being around Emma has unearthed something in my soul-- I want to love more openly and be less inhibited. I want to expect big joy, even when life sucks.

What do you remember about being thirteen?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

National Donut Day?!?

So, apparently yesterday was National Donut Day. I saw the tweets going out about it all day long and thought, "Hmm, might be fun to go get one." Didn't make it though. And now I'm kicking myself, because my friend Chad told me today at church that Krispy Kreme (my all time favorite!) and Lamar's Donuts were giving out free donuts all day.

I had to wipe away a little tear when the words "free donut" registered in my brain. There's something tragic about missing out on a free, quite possibly hot, just the right about of sweet, piece of fluffy pastry. And yes, I do realize that this is my second post in a several month span about donuts. I wonder what that says about me...

Well said, Homer. Well said.

Did you get one yesterday?