Taking ballet again

28 March 2017

One of my four focal areas for 2017 is to “live fit.” I’m hoping to accomplish this in a number of ways, but one I was really excited about was to take a ballet class. I’m in the last week of my first eight-week session, and I thought it would be fun to report in! Whenever I’ve talked about taking ballet with friends or strangers, they’ve had a lot of questions, so let’s pretend we’re having a typical convo here :)

Photo by Simply Seleta – one of the people who inspired me to return to ballet!

Why did you want to take a ballet class? I grew up a devoted bun head from about age 3 to age 18, taking classes 5 days a week at a traditional and rigorous school. I have a deep love for the rhythms and art of ballet, and mainly thought taking a class would be fun — and hopefully provide some exercise along the way.

Is it weird to take ballet again after such a long break? It feels like snuggling into a very familiar, comfy sweater :) The technique hasn’t changed, and I still know all the French terms. The music still makes me hum along, and I’m still not very good at développés. I am definitely not as flexible as I once was.

There was this very beautiful moment the first time I left the studio after class, stepping out into the cool night air, sweatpants over my sweaty tights and leotard. I had this rush of familiarity, like I’ve done this exact same thing thousands of times, but instead of scanning the parking lot for my mom’s minivan I hopped into my own car and drove home to my husband and daughter. How neat that something can stay a constant through such different seasons of my life! I’m grateful I’m able to enjoy it for what it is in this season and not wish for something that was.

How did you find the class? Like I said, I grew up with a technique-focused classical dance education, and that was what I was looking for (unlike a ballet hybrid like Pure Barre, which I’ve also taken and enjoyed!). If you’re looking for the same, keep an eye out for a studio that talks about a classical education and requires a dress code (usually certain color leotards for certain levels) and steer away from anything with a competition team. From there, I took a free trial class, and then signed up for an eight-week session!

What is the class like? Because it is a “fundamentals” class, it is very barre heavy – about an hour of the class is spent at the barre, unlike a typical class, which would probably be closer to 45 minutes. The teacher demonstrates each combination before we begin, and gives individual correction throughout. We sometimes start with sit-ups, push-ups, and planks. After barre work, we do center work, including adagio, turns, and small jumps, and then usually end with a few across-the-floor combinations (big jumps, turns, etc.). It’s an hour and a half long.

Who else is in the class? It’s been a bit different every week, but there are usually about 8-10 of us. If I had to guess, I would say that 3-4 of the other girls are in middle school, 3-4 are in high school, and 1-2 are adults. The skill level varies from a few girls who probably started dancing 1-2 years ago to the high school girls who are in the school’s company and are taking this class for extra conditioning. It’s a good mix!

Someone asked me if it’s weird or awkward to be in a class with middle and high schoolers, and in my opinion, no! I embrace it! I think it’s fun to be around them and get to talk about spirit week and things like that, haha! I was very proud when one of them complimented me on my sneakers – glad to know I can still hang with the youth :)

What do you wear? Ahh, the most popular question! I wear a leotard and pink or black tights, black shorts, and split sole ballet slippers. I wear my hair in a bun. Thankfully, I saved all of my gear from high school! The dress code is fairly relaxed, though, and some people wear workout leggings and athletic tops.

What did you love to do growing up, and do you still do it? Or any other questions I can answer? :)

Pretty athletic leggings

23 March 2017

My friend was wearing these Lilly Pulitzer leggings the other day, and I about died. I didn’t even know Lilly Pulitzer MADE leggings! At $98, however, they’re a little out of my budget at the moment, so I went down a rabbit hole to find some other fun, floral, girly options. Here are my best picks at a range of price points!

pretty athletic leggings

First row:
Lilly Pulitzer ($98)
Old Navy ($20)
J. Crew ($52.50 on sale)
Nanette Lepore ($68)

Second row:
Fabletics ($45)
J. Crew ($52.50 on sale)
Champion ($28)
Fabletics ($55)

Any other great sources to share with the group? :)

HGTV Home Town and our house portraits

21 March 2017

Are you all planning to watch the new HGTV series Home Town tonight? It’s at 10 EST, right after Fixer Upper – and if you love Fixer Upper, you probably will love Home Town! They both have a sweet, talented, smart, very-much-in-love couple at the center; small town coziness; fun house transformations; and a Southern heartbeat. Plus, Erin from Home Town wrote my favorite Southern Newlywed interview ever, and has been one of my favorite blogs to read for a few years. (She writes a short note sharing the best thing that happened that day, every day – admirable!) It has been so fun to see the show develop on her blog, from the first covert mentions (before they could even talk about what was going on but it was obvious something was up), to the pilot’s debut last year, to the past few weeks building up to the premier. They are an easy couple to root for and it has been so fun to do so!

We also have some of Erin’s original art hanging in our home! Before she became an HGTV star, she was a wedding and social stationer. Though she’s now using her drawing and watercolor skills to help Laurel-ites imagine home renovation possibilities, she used to create house portraits for people like me! She drew both of our family cottages (that’s one of them under her pen, up there), and they hang proudly in our main room. Since we live far away from Maine, I love walking by their sweet facades every day. I’ll always be grateful for her talent in bringing them to life!

Join me in supporting this sweet Southern couple tonight, friends? 10pm EST – I’ll see you there!

P.S. I am going to Laurel next month – counting down the days!!

60 Before 30 Recap

16 March 2017

Astute readers will remember that not only did the end of February mark my thirtieth birthday, but the end of my 60 Before 30 project! This was one in a long line of goal sets with a longer time horizon, as I generally prefer them to yearly goals. Though I’ve done a few 101 in 1001s before, this was my first time trying a 60 before 30.

In short, I LOVED it! I think I’ve improved over time at this long-term goal setting thing, because in the past, I’ve been a little over my lists by the time I entered the third or so year of them – but not this time. Though I didn’t complete all 60, I still feel as passionately about each of these as goals as I did three years ago. Partially, that’s because I allowed myself the freedom to replace any goals along the way that were no longer relevant or important to me. I only ended up changing about three, but the freedom to do so was liberating.

To quote myself (ha), “I hope writing these things down and working toward them will help me become the person I want to be — strong in mind, body, and spirit; capable and adventurous; encouraging and kind; grateful and generous — when I reach a new decade.”

So… did it work? I’d say yes! I will never be these things fully in this life, but I do think I am more these things than I was three years ago, and I think this project helped. Plus, I had a lot of fun along the way!

Let’s take a look at how I did! We’ll start with the goals I did not complete (womp womp):

— Host a themed party
— Go on a missions trip
— Make a watercolor, oil, or acrylic painting
— Learn to French braid
— Become a morning person with a consistent morning routine
— Make a square newel post for our stairs
— Convince Nancy to give me a hair tutorial
— Grow a cutting garden with dahlias, roses, and peonies
— Go antiquing at Brimfield, Round Top, Scott’s, Alameda, Brooklyn Flea, or another famous market
— Run a Chick-fil-a 5k
— Create a drop zone near our garage door
— Follow a year-long Bible reading plan with John
— Make a quilt

Just 20%! Not too bad! Alrighty, now for the four goals that were in progress when I crossed the finish line:

— Post a guide to the Triangle on EFM (Easily my most long-suffering goal :))
— Make our porch a comfy place to gather (We made progress, but are still locked in a head-to-head debate over whether a porch swing would “damage the integrity” of our porch ceiling. You can guess which side I’m on.)
— Renovate our backyard so it’s more private and a great place to gather (This is happening!!! More soon.)
— Develop a consistent and fulfilling prayer life (Ongoing, but research has been done and rhythms have been established.)

I won’t list all 43 goals I checked off (you can see them all here!), but I did want to give you a few of the highlights!

The goals I’m most proud of completing: Nos. 12, 13, and 14, paying off our two car loans and fully funding a savings account for our next car purchase

The goal that took the most planning to complete: No. 45, going to Europe (see my posts here: Paris, Provence, Cassis, and the Cote d’Azur)

The goal that’s made the biggest difference in my health: No. 11, making an appointment with an allergist

The goals that stretched me to be more generous than I would have been otherwise: No. 3, supporting a friend in something he or she is doing and no. 27, extravagantly and unexpectedly giving to someone else

The first goal I completed: No. 21, hanging a giant wedding canvas in our living room

The goal that took the longest to complete: No. 43, making a will

The final goal I completed: No. 59. buying a new Bible for the long haul (I eventually decided on the ESV Study Bible)

The most expensive goal I completed: No. 35, paying off at least 35% of our outstanding mortgage

The goal on which I most overachieved: No. 56, making at least one friend in our neighborhood

The goal I’d most like to experience again: No. 29, exploring the California coast (posts here, here, here, here, here, and here)

The goal I least thought I’d do but I DID: No. 4, expanding my very minimal eye makeup techniques (thanks to my personal consult with Sam)

The goals I most loved writing about on EFM: Nos. 18, 19, and 20, sharing about our second, third, and fourth wedding anniversaries

The most-anticipated and sweetest goal: No. 41, expanding our family (the one and only June)

Other favorites: nos. 8, 22, 24, 34, 46, 49, 51, and 54! Really, all of them :)

Anyone else wondering what’s next? Me, too! I already have a pent-up collection of ideas for another list, and just need to figure out the format that makes the most sense. I’m not in a huge hurry, but also already feel the void of not having an ongoing project! Any ideas you want to throw my way? So far, the best I’ve got is something that fills the time until we pay off our mortgage!