Dreams Coming True in the Middle of a Pandemic

Hi friends!

Wow. Quarantine and the COVID-19 pandemic has been quite the experience so far. In about 10 weeks, I’ve been furloughed from every single job I held this past year (minus some dance company work which is being handled digitally). I’ve lost the opportunity to perform, to teach, to choreograph, to wish my senior dance students off to college, and to say goodbye to my students at my beloved dance studio I’ve taught at for the last three years. My unemployment is nonexistent, and I’ve not received a dime of federal financial assistance since NJ went into a state of shelter. I was in the middle of finally narrowing down testing to pinpoint all of the auto-immune responses/health issues I was having between October 2019 and March 2019. That has also been put-off for the time being due to COVID-19. Further, I even had to miss a trip to see my best friend in Chicago before she moves to Seattle. This virus has ruined every part of my life (except my health THANK GOD).

It’s been an extremely emotional, and tumultuous time for me. This pandemic has caused a great deal of panic for me, in addition to abruptly ending parts of my life I will never gain closure to. I feel robbed of experiences, memories, and the money I need to support myself and pay my bills on time.

Last Wednesday (March 13), I received some pretty horrendous news regarding the dance company I perform with in NYC. I broke down in tears at the news, and cried harder when I read,

“NYC theaters will remain closed until 2021”.

My heart sank to my feet. The impact this virus has on the dance world is severe and long-term. I think it will be at least a year until NYC’s dance and theater scene are back on their feet and running. NJ Governor Murphy even announced today that until there is a vaccine, the shelter will remain in place. I cannot even fathom how that is constitutional or supposed to work. Vaccines take at least one to two years to be created/tested. What that means for the dance world is performing arts and fitness are not going to operate how they used to ever again. What that means for life as I knew it is that life is over. I felt hopeless and directionless.

Photography by Cary Davis – Human Stories Photography

Last Wednesday, I’d had it. I’ve cried so much the last 10 weeks, and cried the hardest on Wednesday. The ONLY motivation that has kept me going this entire 10 weeks was my application to graduate school. I applied for a program to earn my MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Concentration in Dance/Movement Therapy, and a certificate in Life/Career Coaching. I sent my application in in the middle of March, and had my virtual interviews on May 7. I was anxiously awaiting the response because if I was accepted, I was going to have a direction. A goal. A purpose!

I woke up on March 14 to my phone buzzing. A mental health facility I applied to the night before was calling me regarding my application! The first call back in WEEKS. I landed an interview (which is digital and being held tomorrow morning), and after I got off of the phone, I called my mom, and then went downstairs tell my dad. As I walked up to my dad’s office, my phone “pinged” with an email regarding my application status was updated.

I opened the email, and BOOM! There it was in all of it’s glory and grace, an acceptance letter into the school, into my program – complete with a SCHOLARSHIP! It was as if the skies opened up and poured this life-changing shower of gifts and blessings over me all in the matter of minutes! A possible new job, more education, and financial aid!? I couldn’t believe it, and I am STILL in shock about it!

Becoming a Dance/Movement Therapist has been a goal of mine for the last 8 years! Dance/Movement Therapy is the reason I chose the undergraduate program I attended because they offered a minor study in it. The program I will be completing will allow me to graduate as a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist, and a Board Certified Life Coach!

I want to work with veterans/military personnel, and women who’ve survived trauma. I want to write two books – a memoir about my life and experience with body-based trauma and movement expression, and a research-based book on how movement and dance heals the traumatized body and mind more effectively than traditional talk therapy. The beginning of all of these goals starts with this Master’s education, and I just CANNOT BELIEVE I AM GOING TO ACTUALLY DO IT!

This whole experience has confirmed to me this is what I am supposed to do with my life. I always knew it too, but this chain of events has confirmed to me I am in the right place in my life, and I will be able to help a lot of people. I have a direction, I have big goals, and I have a big purpose for this lifetime. I cannot wait to begin!

PS: My hair is red now this isn’t a filter

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Life is so strange and horrific and wonderful all at the same time. To me, it’s truly a miracle all of these amazing, wonderful things came to me during this time of extreme panic and no direction. I think the biggest lesson this taught me is to remain positive. There is light and hope at the other end of this pandemic.

I hope you are all healthy and safe! I will keep you all posted about this new job, and updates on schooling as they become available. Sending out lots of light and love to everyone. Stay safe!

xoxo

Future R/DMT LPC

One Skillet Turkey Sweet Potato Dinner

Hey friends! I’ve been in quarantine for over seven weeks, and have been cooking up some delicious meals I find on Pinterest or Google! I should have shared all of my creations, but I haven’t done that because a lot of recipes I’ve followed very closely to their original, and didn’t want to take credit for someone else’s meal. This recipe, however, I doctored and cooked differently than the original recipe directed. I also added a few ingredients to expand the taste, so I wanted to share what I created. It was a hit with my family and very easy to make!

You will need:

1 lb ground turkey (93-99% lean)

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 white onion, diced

4 cloves minced garlic

2 large sweet potatoes diced (or 3 cups worth)

4 tablespoons of olive oil (two for the pan, and two for the potatoes)

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1/2 cup of shredded low-fat mozzarella

1 tsp chilli powder

1.5 tbsp cumin

2 tsp Soul Seasoning (you can buy this online here)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

*Optional* 1 and 1/2 tsp of chopped parsley, cilantro, or chives – your choice

To begin, mix your diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toss until coated. On a parchment paper lined cookie tray, roast the potatoes at 400° farenheit for 25 min.

Next, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a 12 in cast iron skillet. Add garlic and let the skillet and garlic get hot and fragrant about 3-4 min. Add ground turkey. Cook on medium heat until no pink shows 6-8 min.

Add cumin, chilli powder, red pepper flakes, and soul seasoning to season the turkey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add your small diced onion and yellow pepper. Let the onions cook until they’re translucent.

Now this is where your preference plays a role in your cook time. If you want your potatoes crispier, you can add a few tbsp of water to meat mixture to avoid the meat drying out as you wait for the taters to crisp up. You can lower the heat on the stove top while you wait. But I found the potatoes were cooked and somewhat crisp after around 25 min.

After potatoes are finished, immediately transfer them into the meat skilled and mix everything together. Top with your mozzarella cheese, and then take the whole skillet and stick it in the oven. Set the oven to BROIL for 1.5 min to brown and melt the cheese.

Take the skillet out of the oven, and top with chopped parsley or chives or cilantro! Or serve plain! Your choice!

Serve immediately and enjoy 😉

The end result is savory with a little kick of heat at the end, but the sweetness of the potatoes offsets the spice. It’s SO good, and low-fat!! I served this with corn muffins as a side, and it was very filling to feed my family of four (mom, dad, brother, and myself!). If you have a larger family, you can definitely double the recipe and cook it in two skillets or one larger pan!

I hope if you try this recipe, you enjoy it! Enjoy your meals with your families and loved ones, and stay healthy and safe!

Xoxo

Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Body to an “Instagram Fitness Model”

Hi everyone,

In wake of my Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living, I’m inspired to write this piece about the importance of recognizing what we see on the internet as staged, superficial, and anti-reality. I wanted to write this article a while back, but because it is January and this month “diet culture” becomes synonymous with “New Year’s Resolutions”, I want everyone to keep some things in mind while they strive for their 2020 goals – specifically if they are related to health and fitness.

Also as a disclosure – this article is in no way shaming men and women who are dedicated to health and fitness, and/or those who make their business/money from that online. This is for all hard-working people who care deeply about their health and physical fitness, who feel they cannot “live-up” to the standards they see on social media.

Let’s get one thing straight – Instagram is a galaxy of humans young and old wanting to display their BEST selves to all of their peers, colleagues, and family members. Yes, people post for themselves, but deep down people post for validation for the things they are doing. As a member of this generation, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Social media has completely changed the course of online marketing, business, and self-promotion. If I have a great photo of myself, or something I did, ate, drank, saw – I will probably post it somewhere online.

That being said, do I ever post photos of myself I feel ugly in? Of course not. Do I untag myself from friends’ photos I don’t like of myself? Of course I do. No one wants to be seen in their “worst light”. I will add, a lot of the time we are all our own worst critics, so many times what we feel is “ugly”, we don’t actually look ugly. However, the point is, people post the best version of themselves online. And there is nothing wrong with doing that.

Nonetheless, the greatness of social media comes with a sleu of other issues. Seeing everyone’s best version of themselves online every day, at any time of the day can become mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can make you feel like you’re not “doing enough” or “being enough” – either for others, or even yourself. Being recovered from anorexia, I see my favorite dancers and fitness professionals online everyday and think to myself,

“I am not doing as much as their doing. That’s why I haven’t reached their level of success.”

Or their level of beauty. Or their level of fitness, technicality, etc.

It makes me feel terrible if I don’t keep my thoughts in check – If I don’t sit back and take a second to recognize that these images and videos I am seeing are not that person 24/7. No one can uphold the “Instagram standard” every day, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. We are all human and we are all FLAWED (physically, emotionally, mentally – in all capacities). And flaws can be and are beautiful too.

Here is an example. Before I started my 30 Days to Healthy Living, here is an image I took of myself on Snapchat immediately following a HIIT workout.

The image depicts me at a moment where I felt “fit”, at an angle where I felt “showed off” my body in a great way. I had compression pants on and felt put together. The lighting was good, and photo editing apps make filtering the photo to be more appealing really simple and easy.

Is that what my body looks like all the time? No. Now here are some images of me first thing in the morning, before I ate anything, PMSing, hadn’t worked out in three days.

I took these images the first day I started my cleanse last week. These photos were snapped three weeks after the gym photo – totally unrelated to each other. These photos of me I do not like. I wouldn’t really think to post them anywhere because I do NOT like the way I appear in them. Also, you’d think if these were a “before and after” shot, the more recent photos would be first and the gym photo would be most recent.

Reality is – a good angle and good lighting can make anyone appear “better”. Im also not being self-deprecating. I love my body, and I’m a firm believer that muscular definition wouldn’t appear in photographs if it wasn’t truly there. Meaning, the main way to look muscular is to have muscle. So if you see muscular definition, it’s because it’s there. That being said, good lighting and nice filtering can enhance the definition of our muscles or our appearance. We can smooth out fine lines/wrinkles, shrink waistlines, make our skin appear tanner or fairer, etc. Heck, I even increased the color saturation on these photos before I put them into this article!

So next time you’re scrolling through Instagram and see your favorite dancers, athletes, models, whoever – remember their life is not always that glamorous. It is not always picture perfect, with a friend on standby ready to snap gorgeous “candid” photos of you at your best angles in your best light. Instagrams are carefully curated by each owner, and they are meant to display us “living our best lives”.

Wherever you are in your journey – of life, fitness, health, and your goals – you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are ENOUGH, and no one is uniquely like you, even if their Instagram makes you feel like you’re not in the gym enough/working hard enough. Comparison is the killer of all dreams, and never compare yourself to others because of what you see. Everything online is surface level.

Xoxo

July 2019 Happenings!

Hi everyone!

I turned 24 this past week, and I can’t believe I already made another 365-day trip around the sun. This was the first time I was home for my birthday in two years, and it was amazing to be home with my family and close friends. I share the same birthday as my mom, so to be able to be home and celebrate with her, my grandma, my siblings, and my father meant a lot to me!

A lot has happened since I last posted! Remember in my last post how I mentioned I was going on an audition? Well, your girl was invited to join the company she auditioned for, and tomorrow will mark our third rehearsal together for the summer! It’s very exciting to think I am starting with a new performance group (based out of NYC), who has such an important mission that is near and dear to my heart.

Related: May 2019 Life Update

This specific company is dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders, and de-stigmatizing mental health. As someone who considers herself a recovered anorexic, and someone who struggled with anxiety her whole life, joining this team of artists means THE WORLD to me. I am so excited for our season. We have so many amazing projects lined up for the summer and fall!

Related: How Dance Helped Me Survive Anorexia and Literally Everything Else

I leave for Joffrey Italy in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!! I literally CANNOT BELIEVE I AM GOING! I prayed for a year for an opportunity to dance and travel, and last minute went to the Joffrey audition, and then was accepted into the Italy location! Life is so funny with the way it works! I can’t wait to travel, train, and experience Italian culture right on the Mediterranean.

Related: Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive

Another cool thing I did recently was get another piercing! I wanted my septum pierced for a while and decided to pull the trigger and go get it done a week and a half before my birthday. This way, it would have a whole month to heal before I leave for Italy. I LOVE how it came out! The piercing is a titanum horseshoe because I can flip it into my nose to hide it. I had it anodized rose gold to match my nipple rings 🙂 Haha. I adore it, and it’s been healing well. I can’t wait for it to heal completely so I can wear cute clickers and other jewelry.

Related: Julia – You Got WHAT Pierced?!

I’m feeling really optimistic about the future, and my coming adventures in Italy and NYC. I’ve been working and trying to enjoy my time home before I jet set off for four weeks to train. 24 is already giving me great energy, and I can’t wait to see where I am next year when I turn 25 (that is a SCARY number oh my gosh).

I hope I can write more, and at least make a post or two while I am in Italy! If not, I will definitely be posting when I get back to the states and after my NYC intensive. I hope you all are enjoying your summer vacations, travels, and adventures!

Xoxo

May 2019 Life Update

WOW it’s been a minute since I posted on this account, and for that I am deeply apologetic. Life has been throwing me curve balls left and right, and I’ve been working and training a LOT in preparation for my summer.

Here are some of my recent activities, endeavors, and favorites for you all to see what I’ve been up to!

Orange Theory Fitness

A brand new Orange Theory Fitness opened very close to my home town. If you don’t know what Orange Theory is, it is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness program. I’ve been curious about OTF for about a year now, and was SO SICK of my old gym membership. I have a membership at Crunch Fitness, and my schedule is so busy, I was barely using it. When I did go to the gym, I was so unmotivated to work out hard because it was late at night. I spend so much time preparing and teaching classes for clients and students, that the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was go to the gym and create an intense workout for myself to complete. In addition, the classes at my home gym are AWFUL.

For those reasons. I bought an OTF membership before they opened, and have been going for about a month now. I LOVE it. I plan on writing a whole post about Orange Theory and how I am running faster and rowing faster than I ever have before. This workout yields serious results. It’s fun, and because I spend a pretty penny on it, it forces me to go. I love working out in a group setting (that’s probably the dancer in me), so to be in a large group with everyone’s workout stats visible and updating in real time, it motivates me to work really hard. Another reason why I joined Orange Theory was to prepare my body for the intensity of my summer training. – see below for more on my summer dance training!

Pure Barre Training*

I am not sure if I mentioned this to you all, but the Xtend Barre I worked at closed very abruptly and permanently back in February. I was very upset because I just passed my test-out in October of 2018, and invested a lot of time and money into being a great barre instructor. I was reluctant, but a new owner bought our old space, and is turning it into a Pure Barre! He reached out to me, offered me a position, and I am being re-trained in Pure Barre method starting on Monday. I can’t wait! Pure Barre as a company has a much better corporate organization and structure, and the workout is very intense. It is also very different than Xtend Barre training. I miss teaching Xtend, but I am very excited for this new adventure.

*My opinion is not the opinion of Pure Barre, and does not reflect the opinions of the company. All opinions are my own*

Auditions

After a VERY stressful and somewhat awful audition back in April, I’ve been taking some time away from auditioning. I was auditioning at least once a week since January, and to be honest, I am feeling a bit burnt out. I don’t like when dance/performance becomes a source of an unhealthy amount of stress. That being said, I haven’t auditioned for anything in about a month. But in typical Julia fashion, I have an audition this Saturday evening for a company I am very interested in working with. I am looking forward to this audition because it is for concert, contemporary work instead of commercial work which is what I’ve been focusing on the last few months. Hopefully all goes well – I am looking forward to the opportunity.

Photo by Tim Lytvinenko

Summer Dance Training

As you all know, I am attending Joffrey Ballet School in Genoa, Italy this summer, and the Peridance Capezio BLUEPRINT summer intensive in NYC. I’ve been working full-time between all of my jobs to save and pay for my trips! I am currently looking to book my flight to Italy, and then I am basically all set to go! I can’t believe I’m going to live in Italy for two weeks, and then hop right on a plane back to NYC to train with some amazing choreographers and perform in a show! I am looking forward to all of my experiences this summer!

I will hopefully have more time to post as the recital season draws near, and my studio teaching comes to a close for the summer. Life is really busy right now, but I am excited to see what is in store for the rest of 2019!

How are your 2019 goals coming along? What are you working towards, and what are you doing every day to bring you closer to those goals?

Xoxo