Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random Thought...

So I was driving home today and this thought occurred to me...

If you are in a "Left turn only" lane why do you have to use your turn signal? I mean it's not like you're randomly going to go straight or just out of the blue decide to take a right. Everyone knows you're turning left. It seems kind of ridiculous and redundant to have to use your blinker...

Just something that puzzles me.

Something else that puzzles me... Where do all the lost socks go? I mean seriously... I had two on my feet. I put them BOTH in the hamper, and they BOTH went into the washer. But when I go to pair them up after drying there the lone one remains. It's mate has gone missing... Where are you little sock? Did the two of you have a domestic dispute in the wash? Is there some magic land full of nymphs and unicorns and single socks? Sometimes I really do wonder...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First or Last?

Well it's Sunday... the last day of the week and the last day of my vacation here in NYC.
Hmm... but this statement calls to mind a thought:

Is Sunday the last day of the week or the first day? Typically I view it as the last day because it finishes my weekend. But on every calendar (well maybe not every calendar) it's Sunday that starts off the row of days on the grid.
Mondays always seem to be wretched days, but I think that's mainly the result of self-fulfilling prophecy. You know... Monday's are bad because I perceive them in a negative light. They mark the beginning of the endless and tedious work week full of the "have to"s, and not the "want to"s that I daydream of, but must patiently wait for till the weekend arrives.
But what if I saw Sunday as the first day of my week instead of Monday? I wonder how it would change my perspective and my attitude if I started my week off not only by doing those "want to"s, but with my focus where it should be... on the Lord?
Sunday is my Sabbath- my day of rest. It's the day where re-fuel, enjoying my family (both literal family and church family), but also prepare for the week ahead. Maybe if I started to view this day as the beginning of my week (and not the end), maybe I would begin to put God first in all things, and not last. Maybe if I started to view the first day of my week as a gift - a day off - then I would welcome Mondays with joy, feeling rested and prepared instead of resentfully dreading them.
Hmmm... maybe I will have to shift my thinking for next week... What do you think? Are Sundays first or last?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


No... this post is not about V-Day as in Valentines Day.
It is true that I am not a fan of pink, nor hearts, nor any sort of plushy stuffed, well... anything. But I choose NOT to endlessly rant off the many reasons why I so dislike this commercialized greeting-card holiday.

I will say just this one thing and then I'll be done on that subject:
If you love someone, any day is a special day, every day is a good day to tell them you love them. It's absurd to think we need a holiday in order to convey such an important, no, vital message.

Alright I'm done.

V-Day actually refers to Victory Day - that is February 13th, the day I danced the Fairy of Wit.
Yes, that's right... the variation went well. No. It went more than well. Praise the Lord it went wonderfully!

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36.

On more than one occasion the Lord has quickened to me this verse, but oh how apt I am to forget it! The Sunday before I performed the Fairy of Wit my pastor preached on this very verse (as well as those leading up to it). God was very clearly saying: "Jessika, do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded!"
And yet instead of trusting God, claiming His promise, and resting in this confidence, "Stressika" (yes, that would be me) persisted in focusing on the waves of doubt that only seemed to grow larger the longer she (that is to say I) looked at them.
But oh how faithful and patient God is with us! Finally after recognizing how out of whack my priorities had become, confessing and repenting putting other's opinions over His, with both hands I grabbed the promise given in Hebrews 10:35-36. My confidence rests in Him, and oh how richly rewarded it was!

Still feeling some butterflies in my stomach Saturday morning (which actually isn't a bad thing at all) this verse was not only in my morning devotional book but also in my Bible Study lesson:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Can you say appropriate?! And He did give me such a peace... As the music began and I ran out on stage, the spotlight shining down on me, I felt His joy and pleasure. No worry... just fun. No pressure... just peace. The tempo was absolutely perfect, and as I moved through the variation I mentally checked each challenge off my list. "Yes. Good Jessika. That one's done. Keep going. You're doing great. You can do this. You ARE doing this!" I could feel all my co-workers in the wings watching, cheering me on. Even my old boss happened to be there - a gift in and of itself! And then came that fateful last step. I can't really tell you what went through my head at that moment. I think I just decided I was going to do it. And I did.
The smile on my face was slightly ridiculous. If it wasn't already big enough before, I think it kind of overtook my face as I went to bow. I can honestly say I have never been more proud of myself - and I NEVER say that. But I know that as much as it was me, it was even more Him working through me. To God be the glory!

My confidence was richly rewarded. At the end of the Prologue Act just after the curtain came in my old boss came up to me and congratulated me on performing the part. I said: "Thank you. You know I was feeling a little nervous about it at first, but..." and she interrupted, "Oh NO! I knew from the moment you came out on stage that you were going to be great!"
What a reward. And what a victory! I couldn't have asked for a better show and I am so thankful for all the many gifts the Lord's given me!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Beauty," Confidence and Wit

I am sitting here in the therapy room at McCaw Hall.
Boyd, our physical therapist has his latest victim on the table. We call him "Bender the Mender," and he has on more than one occasion been responsible for keeping a show going - in particular the marathon ballets such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and of course The Sleeping Beauty or "Beauty" - it's abbreviated name.
Thankfully I'm not in here because I'm need of therapy - well physical at least, the mental and emotional I can't vouch for. My reason has more to do with human and internet connection than anything else. It's always a hoppin' place here in the therapy room.

This is our last weekend of shows, and I honestly can't tell you how I feel about that. A little sad? Yeah. A little happy? Sure. But truthfully the feeling that's recently overwhelmed me is... anxiety. And I am ashamed - of feeling anxious that is...

You see this Saturday I will be the Wit Fairy. It will be my premiere and my finale of this part all wrapped up into one show. As my co-worker Abby would say, "Git 'er done!" And I shall. But I find that in all this endless practicing and rehearsing I've developed a slight complex regarding this variation.

When I first saw that I was cast to learn this part my initial reaction was at first slight disbelief and then slight, well, for lack of a better word, horror. With speedy tempos, gallops on pointe and lots of chaînés (very fast small turns), it's a pretty challenging variation. And since I'm going for brutal honesty here, I really felt like it was over my head, not to mention my ability. But determined to see this as an opportunity for growth, I attacked this variation with tenacity and determination.
And much to my surprise I absolutely love dancing it! Oddly enough it really suits my dancing personality and I feel I've certainly risen to the challenge. This is me patting myself on the back...
The end of the variation is pretty tricky: you have essentially six counts of chaîné turns and finish in a double step-up turn done without coming off pointe. You feel like an Olympic gymnast trying to stick a dismount - the goal of course being a solid, sans fumble landing. I have practiced this part of the variation over and over again, and I wish I could say I nailed it every time. Everyone's been so helpful in offering up their suggestions, tips and corrections, but sometimes I felt like there were "too many cooks in the kitchen" if you know what I mean.
Taking everyone's suggestions and every opportunity to practice I know I've improved. But as my Facebook status said today, I've come to realize that at this point practice doesn't = perfect but only perpetuates my insecurity, anxiety and complex over this variation. Practice has become a barrier if you will to the one ingredient that I cannot be without: confidence in myself. By practicing over and over again, I am refusing to trust myself and my ability that I can and will do this variation excellently. Seems like a very simple lesson to learn, one I should have had under my belt a long time ago... But I find there's always lessons to be learned and re-learned. That's just life, right?

So all this work and for what? One show? That's a lot of pressure. Well it is if I choose to look at it that way. There are quite a few of us dancers who have put in countless hours for just one show - one opportunity. With only nine shows and quite a few casts, sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles. But you know what? Even if it's just one, it's one! It's a gift! And what else are gifts for but to be enjoyed. So this Saturday matinee, while I'm not the Fairy of Joy, I will be full of joy as I take hold of the gift and blessing it is to dance victoriously the Fairy of Wit. And I will stick that last turn. I can do it and I will do it!
To come and see many premieres this final weekend, you can buy your tickets here. But you better hurry before they all sell out!

Photo of PNB principal dancer Mara Vinson as the Fairy of Wit in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Angela Sterling.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Passions Combined!

So this year I am on the Women's Retreat Committee at my church. My mom is co-chairing the event so I could hardly get out of it even if I wanted to, but to be honest I was the one who actually approached her asking if I could be a part of it.

If you can't already tell I'm a passionate person. When I'm into something I'm into it.

So it's not surprising that I'm into this retreat.
Two things (of many) the Lord has given me a heart and passion for are:
Helping women discover who it is they truly are apart from all the noise and clutter of this world we live in.
Encouraging others to live boldly in authenticity and transparency, using the gifts they've received to serve and bless others.

And I can't tell you how much it gladdens my heart to see that these two passions of mine will be the focus of this years retreat. Coincidence? I think not. It seems to be a theme the Lord has been circulating not only in my heart, but within my family, circle of friends, and church too!

Another perk of being on the retreat committee is that I get to be in on developing the overall aesthetic of what's going to be an awesome weekend. Just as my blog tagline states I love all things (to be) beautiful. So I was floored when this lady agreed to design our logo/image for the retreat. Not only is she an incredible individual but a beautiful and extremely talented artist.

Below is the artwork she created for our upcoming retreat plus a couple other samples of her work. Thanks Aly!
And if this retreat sounds like something you'd be interested in attending (for women only - sorry guys) click here to find out more or to register. I promise you it will be an awesome and life-changing weekend not to be missed!

Images attributed to Alyson Redding found at:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Addiction? Inspiration!

Okay I have a confession to make.
I love beautiful clothes.
It's not like I'm a shopoholic... Borderline - yes. But I can still refrain myself.
I'm inspired by -and by "I'm" I mean my wallet- unique pieces I find in vintage shops and flea markets. I like my clothes to have character just like me. After all, what I wear on the outside should reflect the different facets of Me that remain hidden on the inside. Soft silhouettes of chiffon and a closet full of "twirl-factor" dresses pay homage to my cleverly disguised inner girly-girl, and muted slate blue tones reflect the deep-thinker that I am. Crisp whites and soft creams reveal my diminishing perfectionistic side.

But lately I've been inspired by kindergarten? Or is it my favorite condiment?

Well whatever it is, I find myself constantly buying clothing items in a marigold or mustard hue. I saw this photo of Diane Kruger on the red carpet at the SAG Awards and felt it tied it all together. Primary colors! But slightly more mature versions of the elementary school art class lesson: Marigold/mustard yellow, vibrant red and deep navy blue.

So here are some photos I found of things I swoon over -

(From top to bottom: , Semi-Matte Lipstick in Heat wave by NARS, All Seasons Shirtdress, Midnight Stroll Dress by sarahseven, Intermission Heels, Marigold Cocktail Dress by sarahseven, Sun Dot Dress, Red White-Vintage Hair Pin by Sumikoshop, The Petal Bag by sketchbook.)

Diane Kruger Photo date: 23 January 2010 Photo by Steve Granitz - © - Image courtesy

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ready. Set. GO!!!

Ready. Get set. GO!!!!!
The gun shot sounds and we're off. It has begun.
Not only did I make it to the starting line but am now running this marathon that is The Sleeping Beauty. And what an eventful week it has been as we prepared ourselves for the initial sprint: opening weekend.

As I stated before, this is not just a ballet but a production. Nothing is glazed over; every detail is attended to. There are set changes (that involve moving giant pillars and platforms) for each act, props to be placed, costumes to be changed, and praise the Lord we have an excellent stage crew and an army of wardrobe, wig and makeup men and women that manage to transform us and the stage in only our 15 minute intermissions! We owe these unsung heroes a giant round of applause for their tireless efforts in making this production possible. And unlike us (the dancers), they don't have weeks of rehearsal to get things down pat. For most of them, they have the Monday of performance week till Wednesday night - our dress rehearsal - to get everything set up, lighting adjusted, and kinks worked out. And all this is going on while we are rehearsing on stage too.
You see with five casts of principle couples (Prince and Princess Aurora), each one needs a dress rehearsal, but with the limited time we have, unfortunately some are more "dressed" than others. This can be pretty stressful, especially when you're trying to get the full feeling of what this three hour show's going to require stamina-wise. But in these less than ideal circumstances everyone's handled them with grace and the utmost professionalism. Sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles -so with chin up you make the best of it.

But I have to say Wednesday was quite surreal. Definitely NOT your ordinary dress rehearsal.

First of all, because Sleeping Beauty is so long, we broke up the dress rehearsal into two parts: the Prologue dress was in the afternoon, and then the last three acts were in the evening at the usual dress rehearsal time. But this pushed our class time up to 10am, which felt very early considering we'd finished rehearsing the night before at 9pm. It also required us to be ready with full stage makeup, performance hair and costumes for press photos at noon. Rushed? Just a little...
And the rehearsal was pretty rough. Not only did we struggle with orchestra tempos, but there were costume malfunctions, and special effect flubs. Well that's what dress rehearsals are for - ironing out the creases, which we most certainly did. And just as we were about to be dismissed can you guess what happened? The McCaw Hall fire alarm went off... and this was NOT a drill.
So we all, clad in our costumes of tutus, pantaloons and gold heels - the men's attire, wigs and stage makeup, marched outside to wait on the sidewalk of Mercer Street in the cold, wet weather. Olivier Wevers, dressed as Carabosse the evil fairy, began to wave at the cars that slowly drove past us. It was quite a sight to see! We looked like a freak show - or at least that was the message conveyed by the baffled and slightly horrified expressions of those people who witnessed this spectacle.

It felt like the hours before the fire truck arrived, but I'm sure it was only a matter of minutes. We all filed back into the theater to finally change, only to come back hours later to do it all over again... dress rehearsal part two: Acts 1-3. Well they say bad dress rehearsal, good performance... A true statement.

Opening night came and everything went off seamlessly. The production glittered and sparkled and everyone in it radiated excitement and energy. The audience was packed and I never felt more proud to be a part of such a tremendous company of beautiful and talented dancers. Two more shows remain this weekend and then we have five more performances the following one before the spell is finally broken and the Sleeping Beauty awakes for the for good. I would highly recommend coming to see this awesome production - it's definitely one you don't want to miss! Buy your tickets here before they all sell out!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Morning Thoughts...

I woke up this morning hearing a song in my head.
I love it when that happens.
But this wasn't just any song...
Utterly beautiful, as I listened to the inaudible music this was the first thing that came to my mind:
"Heaven sounds like a banjo."

Listen to this song and see if you don't agree...

A side note -
a) Sufjan Stevens (who wrote and performed this piece) is one of my all-time favorite artists.
b) The title of this song "All the Trees of the Field will Clap their Hands," is based on one of my favorite passages of Scripture in the book of Isaiah.
c) God has used this song, in combination with one of my favorite things (a.k.a. Trees...) and a recent road trip I took this summer to reveal profound truths in my life. But more of that later...

For more information on Sufjan Stevens click here. Thanks to youtube ardkok for the video.