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It seems my last post (the one where we discussed negativity) was relatable for more of you than I had anticipated.  Since so many were able to identify with the struggle of controlling interloping thoughts that are anything but happy, I thought it would be nice to share some tricks to keeping yourself balanced outside of the studio.

For the first installation of this balancing-act how-to, I’d like to focus on creating a zen space.  Having an area to yourself designated purely to relaxation and restoration is key to maintaining a healthy mind and body.  Much like a mom-to-be nesting in preparation of her baby’s arrival, I find immense satisfaction in building a nest of my own.  I’ve shared just a few photos of my new apartment previously (which I regularly refer to as the coziest place on earth), but my favorite spot therein has slowly become my bedroom.  I’ve been taking my time putting it together, adding special elements to up its relaxation factor.  A few things that are currently making it extra-snug…

A new mattress from Santa.  One word: plush.  And new sheets, too, because comfort is an extravagance I do not play around with.

String lights in leu of a headboard.  The soft glow of these warm lights makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a warm blanket- perfect for lazy Sunday mornings spent blogging from my bed.  More fun lighting options here.

Heavenly scented candles. There’s something so comforting about the flicker of a candle.  I once told a friend that when I’m alone, I like to keep a candle burning because it’s subtle movement serves the same “white noise” purpose as a soft radio playing in the background of an empty house;  Its delicate dance creates a buffer between the apartment and me, filling the air with just a bit of motion produced by some source other than myself, and strangely enough, I feel less alone.  My friend looked at me like I was 100% crazy and we moved on, but I’m sticking to my story.  My favorite scents are this (whose sexy smell has earned it the nickname “man candle” amongst my friends and me) and this classic.

Artwork with personal meaning.  When I arrived home after opening night of Peter Pan last spring, there was a package for me at the door.  A very dear friend of mine who lives out of state had thoughtfully sent over a beautiful print depicting one of my favorite quotes from J.M. Barrie’s timeless story- “Just always be waiting for me”.  It’s deep hue and night sky theme make it perfect for hanging just above my bed, and every time I see it I am reminded not only of that magical performance weekend, but also of my lovely friend and her sweet gesture.  I also have a print from Viktor Plotnikov’s Orchis hanging near my bed to remind me of another favorite show.

Something uniquely “me”.  It’s obvious by now, I’m sure, how much Peter Pan means to me.  When I first saw the Haptic Lab “Wendy Darling” kite at the Catbird boutique in Brooklyn, my eyes turned into animated red hearts a la this infamous emoji.  It’s so light and ethereal, and with it hanging right above my bed, I am tugged back to a time where innocence prevailed and I imagined my dreams being carried from Neverland to my bedroom in an enchanted floating ship.  It’s eclectic, it’s strange, it’s a kite hanging in my home- but it’s me and I love it.

So, I’d love to know, do any of you nest like me?

PS- check out my new “Muse” status on the gwenythbrand website ;)

under pressure


BREAKING NEWS: Business Insider just listed professional dancing as one of the 14 most stressful jobs in America.  Of course, if you are a dancer, you already knew that.  But from the outside, ballet is tippy toes, tutus, and tiaras, and really, what could be stressful about that?

For starters, at the tips of those toes are bruises that won’t quit.  Inside that tutu is a body that works out hard.  And under that tiara is a brain that is constantly churning new information.  In addition to all of the mental stress of performance anxiety, the emotional stress of competing for roles daily, and the physical stress of grueling rehearsal hours spent training the body to defy physics, some dancers are forced to adapt to every other profession required of them: artist, athlete, nutritionist, makeup artist, hairstylist, physical therapist, doctor, seamstress, publicist…the list goes on.  In small companies like the one I dance with, staff is limited and this collection of jobs can seem endless.  Countless responsibilities + a constant fear of injury + an inconsistent salary (business insider listed the average dancer’s salary as “n/a”) = a whole lot of STRESS.

With all of this pressure weighing on our sore shoulders day in and day out, it’s important to schedule in some time for stress relief.  For example, right now I am writing this post from under the covers of my bed (yes, I realize it’s only 6:30 pm), with a cup of tea and a candle burning.  The string lights my boyfriend and I hung last weekend are creating a tiny twinkling canopy over my head, a cute stuffed moose is overseeing my lounging and I’m thinking this might be as close as life gets to perfection.  Yes, my feet are throbbing and I have a weird pinch in my right shoulder, but right now- just for a few hours, I have to sew pointe shoes later- I’m closing my eyes, exhaling those aches and breathing in the sweet aroma of relaxation.  And boy does it feel goooood.

How do you de-stress after a long day?