When I got the call from KPAC director Dennis McGraw in December of 2012, I didn’t need much convincing, my answer was “YES!” He called to see if I’d be interested in co-choreographing the spring musical for Kauai Performing Arts Center(KPAC). KPAC is a Hawaii State Department of Education Program. It brings the 3 high schools on Kauai together to put on a Fall play and a Spring musical each school year.
Being a dancer since age 3, it was my time dancing in High School that was the most special to me. I had the good fortune of attending a public high school in Fort Worth, TX that had a dance program.
It was my experience taking dance classes at the end of my school day that was so cool to me. I got to go to dance class, it was free, and it counted as school credit, just like KPAC does.
The fun I had dancing in High School helped to steer me into getting a degree in dance and moving to NYC to pursue musical theatre.
I had to audition to get into my High School dance program and Mrs. Gillaspy, the program director, was my absolute most favorite ballet teacher I've ever had. When I joined the program in my Junior year, I felt like I was home, I’d finally found my tribe. I was happy to go to school. KPAC is similar for many of the students involved. It’s a special, fun and accepting place to be.
I had a great time choreographing for the KPAC students last year and I was asked to return this year for the 2014 show, but things are a little different. Not only am I the sole choreographer for the show this year, but my husband is making his directorial debut (hooray!) as the director of Seussical, this year’s production.
So my demand as a chroreographer doubled, I needed to support my husband on this journey and in January, I left a job to pursue my own business!!
This meant late night pow-wows brainstorming ideas, working on the choreography late into the night. The soundtrack on repeat and the two of us singing the songs all around the house. Dr. Seuss had moved in.
As the demands of Seussical have escalated in the last few weeks, on top of me running my business, I have been going non-stop.
Is it worth it?
After watching these hard-working students in their first performance yesterday for over 800 public school children, my answer is a resounding "YES!"
These dedicated KPAC students gave up their spring break to come to rehearsals. Other years they’ve even given up their prom to perform with KPAC.
It’s the transformation of seeing students that have never stepped foot on a stage going up and performing like rockstars.
It’s the applause and look of wonder in the eyes of the children in the audience who are seeing live theater for the first time. It reminds me what this program is all about and why it’s worth it to dedicate my time, energy, and focus to this cause just for a few months out of the year.
When times get extra busy, I try to make healthy choices that will fuel me to keep the energy moving forward and keep me from getting ill.
Do I always succeed? No. And this year’s final rehearsals into the opening of the show have demanded so much time and energy that I decided I’d make a list of things that I want to remember for the next time I’m this busy.
Hopefully they’ll help keep you happy and healthy when the adrenaline is running non-stop too.
1. Make Smart Food Choices
I prefer home-cooked meals, and I know what foods make me feel like junk. Those types of foods are the most convenient.
If you must eat on the run, look for an option that is as close to home-made as you can. It’s easy to say “oh [insert fast food chain] is cheap and fast,” but it’s really not that inexpensive.
Grabbing a prepared meal from your local health food store or grabbing a sushi roll or take-out from a local restaurant is a healthier choice and it’s likely comparable in cost to fast food. For me, if it’s a buck or two more, and I know it’s a better choice, it’s totally worth it.
2. Plan cooking days into your schedule
Find a few hours where you’ll be home to cook up some food that you can eat on for several meals throughout the week.
Soups and stews are awesome for this purpose. I like to cook up large batches of meat, beans, greens and grains. It’s fun to see what kinds of combos you can come up with and which types of seasonings make it taste the best.
3. Limit caffeine
I love me some coffee. I know it’s not the healthiest thing ever to be drinking, but I try to cap myself on 1 a day. In the afternoon, if I’m feeling sluggish before I take on my evening’s work, some sort of caffeinated tea is plenty for me to feel energized.
Decide what’s good for you, know how much is too much and see how little you can get by with drinking.
4. Plan self-care moments into your day
I like to walk on the beach in the early morning as the sun is just rising. I also like to work out with my personal trainer. And I also like to do some Pilates and release work on my own.
If you can’t squeeze in all that you want, schedule in what you can.
If you’re weighing your options of sleep vs. exercise. Try to listen to your body and find a balance. Although sleeping is always tempting, I lean toward exercise. Sleeping is nice, but my body and mind will thank me after I exercise.
5. Enjoy your shower or bath
For me, a shower at the end of the day gives it some finality. It helps me to “wash the day off” as they say. Take the time for your shower as a moment for you.
Enjoy the warm water, dim the lights, light some candles, put on your favorite music. Enjoy!
When you notice moments of stress, (this is typically in the form of neck tension for me) stop and just take a few deep breaths. Breathe into your back, your ribs and your belly as fully as you can. I suggest taking at least 3 deep breaths.
One of my favorite places to check in with breath is in the car on my drive into town.
7. Know your limits and say no
Say no to any projects that will push you over the edge and/or projects that you just aren’t enthused about. Life is too short to overbook, overwork, and over-stress yourself for something that you don’t LOVE doing. I’ve found myself saying no more than ever this year.
What do you do to keep yourself healthy and strong when you’re strapped for time and energy? Leave a comment in the box below and share so we all can find ways to be healthier.
Mahalo for reading, sharing. And if you do come to Seussical, please say hello. I'll be at all the shows.
P.S. If you're wondering what happened to The Hundred Deconstructed series, not to worry, I'll continue guiding you on your way to happy Hundreds next week.