I do my best creative work when I'm under the gun. I’m in my zone when I’ve waited and procrastinated to the point that I get really nervous.
It’s just the way I work. I try and try to plan and be prepared in advance, but no matter what I do, it’s my last minute changes and ideas that feel the best—the most authentic to me.
I figured out today that it’s my nervous energy that feeds creativity. It’s hungry. It’s ravenous for honesty and a sense of urgency. When I’m writing or choreographing at the last minute, I stop caring, questioning, or analyzing what anyone else is gonna think, and I just FLOW.
To me, creativity is about freedom, and I’m the most free when I know I have to work right now, feel right now, and improvise right now with the tools I have.
It’s scary. But, I trust that my fear will always lead me down the right path.
oOver the course of a week in January, 204 women and girls read victim impact statements at the Larry Nassar sentencing hearing. The judge in the case gave all of his sexual abuse victims the chance to come forward, read their statements in front of the world, and force their abuser to hear what they had to say.
It was almost a full year later before I listened to the NPR podcast called Believed. It’s an investigative journalism story about the victims of Larry Nassar and how they finally put him away.
This case had a tremendous effect on me. I was inspired by the bravery and power of this huge collection of women getting together to unleash the truth. But, I wasn’t just moved that they were speaking up NOW. Many of them had spoken up BEFORE. They reported it to police, parents, child protective services, and medical licensing agencies. It shouldn’t surprise you that until 2018, their stories had been silenced or not believed—filed away as misunderstandings.
During the week of the Kavanaugh hearing, I yelled at my co-worker. He was upset that someone’s career could be ruined over an accusation of an incident that happened in high school. He was frustrated that because of the #metoo movement, he would have to have tough conversations with his teenage boys about how to navigate this new world.
I listened to him talk. Then, I RAGED.
I was angry hearing him complain about having to talk to his sons. As a survivor, I was all too familiar with feeling careful, scared, shy, and hyper vigilant. The fire in my voice when I responded to him caught me off guard. I’m sure it caught him off guard too. But if I’m honest, expressing my anger was euphoric.
My outburst helped us both understand each other a little better. I felt compassion that he was scared and wanted to protect his boys. I also realized how dangerous it is when we don’t take the time to really listen to the experiences, perspectives, and struggles of others. Moving forward, I’m trying to open my mind to learn more from other genders, races, and cultures who view the world differently than me. I’m sharing more of my stories with others too.
2018 was named a “year of the woman.” Looking back, so much has changed in how I operate.
Here’s a few intentions I've been working on that I’m carrying into 2019:
If you were also moved by the victims in the Larry Nassar case, please join me and complete the “From Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children” course that shows adults how to protect children from sexual abuse.
Take the training at D2L.org. Use the promo code FLIPTHESWITCH to get it for free.
From Darkness to Light trains adults to follow five steps to protect children: learn the facts, minimize opportunity, talk about it, recognize the signs, and react respsonsibly.
As a Christmas tradition, I've been making fancy pistachio orange drop shortbread cookies for over 10 years. I don't know the source of the original recipe, but full disclaimer, it's not mine. Whoever came up with it is a magical minx and I bow to their genius.
I'm following a "mostly keto" diet these days because eating low sugar not only makes me feel better but I'm trying to avoid a very hefty family history of diabetes. This year, I still wanted to make Christmas cookies, but I decided to try an experiment with my favorite recipe. The result? Pretty f-ing fabulous.
These shortbreads are a touch more crumbly than the classic, but it's a well-worth it substitute to make them keto-friendly.
Here's my take on a Christmas classic. Make them for your friends, family, and co-workers. Be prepared for everyone to think you're a MASTER BAKER.
Keto-Friendly Pistachio Orange Drops
1 cup butter (room temp)
1 cup Stevia in the Raw sweetener
1 tsp. grated fresh orange peel
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
1 cup (16 oz) dark chocolate chips (or low sugar chips)
2 tbsp. coconut oil
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat the butter, stevia, and orange peel using an electric mixer until it's as fluffy as you can get it. Stir in almond flour until well blended. Reserve 3 tbsp. pistachio nuts, and stir the remaining nuts into the dough. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls into balls (about 1 inch in size, I use a melon baller). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned (will look as if it really hasn't browned -- just a hint of brown). Remove and put on a rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a pot over low heat until smooth. Drizzle a thin layer of the melted chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Sprinkle with reserved nuts before the chocolate hardens. Store in a cool place.
I recommend keeping these in the refrigerator and eating them cold! It helps them keep their shape and style, plus I just LOVE cold cookies.
You spent many days, months, and years crafting your show. Preparing, you were behind the curtain, fixing all of your mistakes backstage. You recited your words, repeated the flick and twirl of your wrist until you had it just right. Then, it was showtime. Under the bright lights and the cameras you were just as you hoped you would be--beautiful, practiced, poised, edited, under control.
The show was beautiful, and it must go on.
But, my dear magician, I want to see the REAL you next time. Would you show me? Can I grab a seat backstage?
Show me your tricks. Show me what it took to become the performer you are. Show me your cracks, your flaws, your mistakes. I want to see your vulnerability because it mirrors my own. I don’t care if you’re not the best at it. Neither am I. Give me more of your not-so-perfect self. Let everyone else applaud your tricks. I’m here to bow to your struggles.
The real magic is in your mess.
Traumas from the past are shattered glass. Back then, you picked up the sharp and sparkly pieces you could see, and you moved on. You were busy—you had to get to work. But inevitably, tiny shards were left behind, hidden in the cracks and corners. Later, you let your guard down and walk into the kitchen barefoot. The glass cuts. Startled, you bleed. You realize there's more healing to do.
You see, there is no perfect cleanup, no perfect timeline. When glass breaks, it’s messy, and so are we. So, don't beat yourself up when hidden wounds from the past show up to ruin your day. Healing craves patience.
Today is the day you decide that a shard of glass is here to amuse you, to spark your curiosity, to open back up.
I’ve been teaching Pure Barre classes for 5 years. There’s a thing we call “the shake zone,” and it happens when your muscles are fatigued to the point that they start shaking. When I take class, it’s usually coupled with a bunch of sweat pouring down my face.
As a teacher, I LOVE when I see a client holding her leg so straight and activated during leg lifts that she is literally shaking from her glutes all the way down to the pointed toes on her foot. She’s barely moving, but every single muscle in her leg is engaged, active, challenged, and shaking. Sounds brutal right? It is, and it’s badass.
At the barre, we aim to get in our shake zone as much as possible, because when you’re shaking, you’re pushing yourself to get stronger—you’re refusing to let yourself take the easier option of the workout. Sure, there are days or moments when your intuition tells you it’s time to rest or to stop so you don’t injure yourself. But on most days, when you start shaking, you can choose to stop and come out of the position, or stay with it, let yourself shake, be challenged, be with the pain. We aim for option B.
If you start a new workout regimen and it’s hard, don’t set your sights on some magical day when it will suddenly feel easy. It’s hard and it stays hard. Every day it takes dedication and gumption to be active and to work through soreness. Once you accept that it’s hard, you’ll start to love that it’s hard.
But, the thing about the shake zone is, it shows up outside of the gym if you let it. You can start with one small shake and build it into a habit of embracing challenges all throughout your life.
Other things that are hard but worth a shake:
I have a theory, and it goes a little something like this:
Embracing challenges creates faster results, stronger bodies, open minds, and happier people.
I’m a woman, I’m a survivor of abuse, and I’m proudly an empath. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve had a lot of feelings about the news the last few weeks. I’ve heard coworkers, podcasters, and writers ask and answer this loaded question again and again: “Why do survivors delay or fail to report incidents of sexual abuse?”
We often don’t speak up for a variety of reasons such as: shame, fear of being blamed or attacked, not having “evidence”, and having panic attacks. Many of us unconsciously block out abusive experiences, perhaps during childhood, and have memories painfully resurface months, days, or years later.
But there’s something else. There’s a huge reason we’re not talking about.
Instead of focusing on why we hide horrific experiences and memories of sexual abuse or attacks, let’s look at the everyday experiences of women. It’s in these stories that we’ll find super common, arguably innocent, easy-to-brush-off examples of disrespect, sexism, and simple gross ignorance. It’s these everyday experiences that help create a culture of the silenced and the silencers.
Women are treated as less, silenced, disrespected every day, all the time. We often don’t speak up or even share our experiences with other women (be it something as awful as sexual abuse or something as minimal as being interrupted in a meeting). We’re silent because it feels so normal, unavoidable, and relentless.
I took a quick survey of women in my life this morning and asked for their normal examples. I encouraged them to include anything funny, light-hearted, and silly, but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that what I got back was a lot of quick replies in the tone of serious, sad, and angry.
Read these stories. Share your own stories. Talk to your wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters, sisters. We need to be heard. Saying nothing distorts reality.
We are constantly told we should smile more.
“Gas stations are tricky. You are vulnerable because you’re pumping gas and can't really leave the area fast, so if someone is checking you out or approaching you, your only defense is to look unapproachable. I have had some scary experiences, so now I am really picky about which pump I pick based on the surroundings.”
“I was introduced to a guy at a co-worker's going away party, and he asked if my job was to "fetch the tea.”
We all hate getting stared at while we sit at stoplights.
We scan driveways and sidewalks before getting in our cars. We look over our shoulder constantly.
We are interrupted and talked over in meetings.
“My senior VP said they’re using me as a secret weapon to negotiate with an important client because the client finds me attractive.”
We get followed down aisles and gawked at in stores in our workout clothes.
“I hate when colleagues talk about me while I am standing right there. They refer to me as "her/she". For example, “Is she going to follow up on that?"
We are groped or rubbed on crowded trains and buses every day.
“I was in a meeting that was starting late and the commander at the time told me to get up on the table and dance.”
We are often greeted first by our chest and second by our eyes. It still happens when we’re wearing turtlenecks and sweatshirts.
When we share our ideas at work, they are often called stupid or pointless and then our colleagues talk over us, steal our ideas and claim them as their own. “It took a bit for the men at work to respect me as far as my technical opinions. When I first started, I could send an email saying my opinion and it would be shutdown. My mentor would send an email saying the exact same thing I said, and the team would acknowledge him.”
We are viewed as weak for showing vulnerability, sadness, frustration, and empathy.
“A guy at my office kept coming to my desk (essentially cornering me while I was trying to work) and talking to me even if I said I didn’t have time to talk. He’s married with a baby, but asked me to a bar everyday for weeks until I told my manager.”
We are called bitchy, bossy, or a dictator when we stand up for ourselves or simply give others a clear direction of our expectations or boundaries.
We are judged as bad mothers for staying home. We are judged as bad mothers for working.
People assume we don’t know how to fix or assemble things around the house or can’t use tools. They say that things break more because women use them. “The women in my family assume that my dad is the one who does all the work/repairs in my house. They cannot fathom that I know how to fix things/use tools.“
We’re always expected to be the ones to accommodate. “A male colleague of mine doesn’t turn in his work on time or respond to emails. When I brought this up, I’m faced with, “Can’t you just stop by his desk and talk to him about it or tell him the deadline is earlier so when he’s late, he’s actually on time?”
“Every time I meet someone when I am traveling for work, they ask me who is watching my kids (I am not kidding...every time). How many times has this happened to my husband? None.”
“I was told that if someone goes out to lunch with me it will look like "oh so and so got a hot new girlfriend" versus a business lunch.”
We are women. This is our normal.
We. Are. So. Tired.
We are Professors, Managers, Engineers, Leaders, Mothers, Analysts, Directors, Designers. We are good people and we deserve respect.
We know that the level of inequality, abuse, and disrespect is still much much much worse for others. We all need to keep sharing our stories.
My tower garden is exploding with fresh lettuces, basil, chard, and kale. In addition to making salad jars for lunches, I've been adding greens into my smoothies to make use of them this Spring.
Here's an easy recipe for a sweet greens smoothie. You could swap mango for pineapple or swiss chard for kale depending on what you have at home.
Green Mango Smoothie
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks (or a handful)
3 or 4 leaves of swiss chard, stems removed
1 scoop JuicePlus+ Complete French Vanilla
Send me a message on my Contact Form if you have any questions or would like to place an order for a tower garden or JuicePlus+ products. I'd love to chat with you!
I teach 20+ barre or dance classes 6 days a week and often have extra jobs dancing on the weekends, so as you can imagine, I'm hungry a lot and I need a lot of energy to keep going with a smile on my face.
Adding JuicePlus+ products into my life has been a life saver because it keeps my immune system strong and gives me a ton energy without having to spend a lot of time planning my meals. People always ask me how I keep going with my schedule. The main reason is that I truly love being a teacher and being active, but the other reason is that I made these products a priority so I could keep doing the things that I love.
Here's one of my favorite smoothies. I often make this one in the afternoons when I need a fast and satisfying pick-me-up.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Shake
1 scoop JuicePlus+ Complete Dutch Chocolate mix
1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon peanut butter
Blend ingredients in a blender until smooth. Enjoy!