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? :)
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 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!
So, 30. Here we are! I wish I could tell you that I’m only feeling joy as I enter a new decade, but the truth is that my feelings are more on the sweet side of bittersweet. I have NO regrets over my 20s, and I want to think that if I wrung as many bits of joy as I could out of each year, I should have no sadness about moving forward.
But that’s just it – my 20s have held such sweetness, so many life events that only happen once – that of course there is a bit of sadness in acknowledging that. Overall, though, I am grateful. And with the love of my life and my precious baby girl at my side, I am believing that the best is yet to come. Besides, my spirit age is 36, so existentially speaking, I’m still a spring chicken :)
One photo from each of the last 10 years – last one below!
10 hopes for my 30s:
1. That we will complete our family
2. That we will own our home outright
3. That we will be content in our home, whether it’s the one we have now or not
4. That we will celebrate ten years of marriage with great joy
5. That we will see the family culture we envision being lived out on a daily basis
6. That I will find joy in my work, know the right balance of hours, and have the freedom to live that out
7. That we will continue to value experiences over possessions, exploring new and beautiful places as a family, both down the road and around the world
8. That I will be more fit at 40 than I am now
9. That as much of our family as possible will get to spend more than one week on the Island each summer
10. That I will have the discipline to see continued growth in all areas of my life, especially in my faith, becoming more like Jesus every day
I have wanted to chat about this on EFM forever, so please tell me: what is your actual age, and what is your spirit age? (You can go read Joanna’s post, but basically, your spirit age is how old you think you’ll always feel inside, whether you’re 8 or 80.)
178 of you took my recent survey, and I’m so grateful! I loved learning more about y’all, and especially hearing more about what you love about Em for Marvelous and why you read. In fact, I think you fired me up for at least another 8 years – so thank you, truly. Many of you asked about seeing survey results, and I agreed it would be fun to share a few. So here we go!
Love my four friends from the earliest days! Pretty sure that number includes my Mom and two sisters. The biggest lump of you have been reading for at least a few years, which is neat.
I was a bit surprised by just how many of you are married. Always, always happy to have my non-married folk in the mix, though, too.
I’m no statistician, but I believe we’d call this a bell curve! But really, not a statistician – I didn’t realize I gave my 30 and 35 year olds two choices until I was making these graphs. Oh well, you get the idea :)
I sorted the 22 people who chose “other” into one of my categories – nurses, teachers, counselors, journalists, etc. went into traditional, and stay at home moms went into “not currently employed” (no shame in that!). I love that most of you have a “traditional” job, and am glad you are finding some of what you are looking for here.
I was limited to ten questions, but if I had had an eleventh, I would have asked how many of you have kids! Still curious about that…
The favorite posts numbers roughly broke down into three categories. Personal finance, goals, travel, love and marriage, parenting, life updates, and deep thoughts were across-the-board popular. And the finance posts, wow! I was a bit surprised to see that they were the most beloved, but I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s obviously something I’m passionate about, and I guess that’s a bit contagious. It’s also one of my more unique offerings. Regardless, I’m so glad you love them, and since you do, I’m going to do my best to make sure I write at least one a month going forward.
Bringing up the rear were spotlights, Triangle features, and wedding things. Not terribly surprising, and I’m also reminding myself that just because y’all didn’t mark them as favorites doesn’t mean you don’t like them – in fact, many people brought up the spotlights as being very helpful when answering my next question.
Which brings us to… open-ended feedback! To a number, every single person wrote something sweet here, and I truly treasured each comment. I was actually kind of like, where’s the constructive criticism?! But I’m not going to complain :) You guys are just the best. Here are a few selected quotes from what you love and don’t love to read:
— “We visited my aunt in Beaufort and rather than staying at a traditional hotel we stayed at the hotel you recommended. I would have never taken the chance if I didn’t read your review.” Some of my FAVORITE comments were when you told me you took action on something you learned through EFM, whether related to travel, finance, a wedding reading, or a purchase.
— “Your interviews with great moms were some of my favorites!!” Marvelous Mama came up over and over again! I do plan to continue this series off and on, and have a few more pending from the first batch that I’m hoping to get up soon.
— “I can’t wait to see those Triangle guides!” Bless this person’s heart. I just had to laugh when I came across this response. Whenever they get posted, the Triangle guides and our wills will go down as the most long-suffering posts in EFM history.
— “I think you have a real gift for simplifying complex topics like budgeting and marriage! I love your thoughtful posts on “why” or “how” you live your life – I think it elevates the idea of living by your values and helps me think about my own values.” I wanted to hug this person! At my best, I think my posts equip you and help you feel confident, and the best way I know how to do that is to walk you through my thought processes.
Next, a few things came up over and over again in response to “why do you read Em for Marvelous?” The most common:
— authentic, honest, and genuine
— real life and relatable
— cheerful and positive
— practical and helpful
— good writing and grammar (ha!)
— wide range of topics
— you care about me and like following my family’s story
And something SO many people said: “I feel like we would be friends in real life!” Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that we would. Probably because you’re all so nice!! Seriously.