NEDA Awareness Week Show and Positive Mental Health Movement for Coping with COVID-19

Hi lovely readers. It’s been a minute. February was a very busy month, with three shows, and lots of big changes in my personal life. This post is to highlight some of that. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to raise awareness about mental health and suicide rates – which at desparate times like these – begin to rise. People are laid off, can’t feed their families or pay their bills… anyone struggling with their mental health could be negatively impacted by this pandemic in a very bad way.

As someone who has struggled with her mental health throughout her life, I find the need to spread some positivity during this crisis, and let you all know about some cool things the NYC dance company I dance for did back in February. At the end here, I also want to give you some suggestions on movement-based activities you can do while you are quarantined and/or if you are struggling with your mental health and being stuck inside is driving you insane.

I currently dance for Borne Dance Company, which is a New York City based dance company who’s mission is to bring awareness to mental health and destigmatize eating disorders. The last week in February is the National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Borne Dance Company celebrates the end of our season with a showcase during Eating Disorder Awareness Week. We host other artists, singers, performers, dancers, poets, and musicians who gather to play a show.

Admission to the show was donation-based, and 80% of the proceeds were donated directly to NEDA after our show weekend was over. This year, Borne performed a new 25 minute piece titled “Bound“, which explored themes of isolation, and showcased the negative thoughts and coping mechanisms we hang onto as people.

The work was well-received, and we generated a lot of donation money through everyone’s generous donations. It was such a special day, and one of those full-circle life moments for me. Eight years ago when I was sick with anorexia, I never thought I’d be dancing professionally in NYC, let alone in a show with a company that cares so deeply about raising awareness about eating disorders.

PC: Human Stories Photography NYC for Borne Dance Co.

This all being said, it is always important to check-in on your friends, family, and loved ones all times of the year. Especially now, however, during this crisis, we need to keep checking in with those in our lives who are struggling, were struggling, or who we suspect might be struggling. Not just check-in on their physical health, but check-in on their mental health. Ask how their feeling, and if the answer is not positive, offer ways you can be there for them. Phone calls, video chats, text messaging – any way you can extend a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, do it. It could save their life.

90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine

Dr. Roger Sperry

Now if you yourself are not feeling your best, or you want to find ways to help someone you love feel better, here is a list of ways to use movement to improve your mental health during this time of isolation and quarantine. Dr. Roger Sperry says 90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine, so staying active and mobile during this time is crucial for maintaining positive mental health. Here are some fun movement activities you can do solo or with a friend/partner (maintaining social distance of course) that could help increase/maintain your mental health.

  1. Exercise! Schedule specific times during the day or throughout the week dedicated solely to moving your body. Whether you find a yoga routine online, an at-home HIIT workout, or some cardio – find time to keep your body engaged throughout the week!
  2. Dance party! Maybe you’re cleaning the house, or maybe you’re really stressed and tight from sitting at your home computer and working from home. Turn on your favorite tunes and start grooving! Even if for five minutes! Dance like nobody’s watching, or have your family members join you! I bet you will be smiling within the first two minutes. Dancing increases blood flow, and seratonin (the happy hormone!) levels!
  3. Stretch! Ok dance and exercise isn’t your thing? Maybe Google some light stretching exercises you can do at home to stimulate blood flow, and let your muscles lengthen gently! It’s amazing what a little bit of light stretching can do to improve your mood, and how you feel physically.
  4. Play with a ball! If you have children, or a partner or roommate, take five minutes and just toss a ball back and forth to each other. You don’t have to have a lot of skill to do this, and it will get your blood flowing and you can even wear latex gloves so you don’t have to physically touch the ball! Don’t have a partner? Play fetch with a pet OR play wall-ball where a wall is your surface to pass from!
  5. Play with your pets! If you are a pet owner, you can take your dogs for a walk, or cuddle or play with your cats, hamsters, bunnies, etc.! Pets are the best for comfort, and they are an amazing excuse to go outside and talk a calm walk down the street 🙂
  6. Create! If you are an artist, dancer, or person who can’t sit still, try creating a dance or movement flow organically. Take some time to move and create, just like you would sit and create a painting, craft or song! You can keep it private, or show it online/to friends or family (following pandemic guidelines of course). You might surprise yourself with your creativity and what you will make!

These are just a few simple ways you can use movement to improve your own state of mental health, or help engage a family member or friend who might be struggling at this time. So much healing can come from simply moving your body, and it will also help pass the time while we wait for equillibrium and health to return to our society.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this post brought some positivity into your morning, afternoon, or evening (whenever this post reaches you!). Stay positive, healthy, and moving my friends! I hope to connect more soon.

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

How Dance Helped Me Survive Anorexia (and Literally Everything Else)

My body has been through A LOT. I’m not just talking about injuries due to accidents that happen in life. I mean, my body and I have survived significant damage and abuse as a result of the actions of other people, and as a result of my four year battle with anorexia nervosa. I was 12 years old when I first noticed there was a disconnect between my body and my mind, and it later manifested into a full-blown eating disorder by the time I was 16. The only constant throughout my entire life is dance, and due to some unfortunate recent events, I feel it is important I share with my followers why dance has saved my life throughout my eating disorder, and the abuse I’ve suffered at the hands of others.

I am a professional dancer, and I have been involved with dance since I was 10 years old. Currently I am 22 years old, and I was 16 when I was admitted inpatient for anorexia. The program I attended was super strict, and I couldn’t even stand up for longer than 10 seconds before a nurse or tech would tell me to sit down. The two weeks I was inpatient, I grew increasingly antsy and upset that my E.D. had interfered with my passion for dance. I was prepping for senior year of high school, and auditioning for college programs, and I was alarmed that my summer potentially would not be spent being able to dance or work toward my goals. Dance was always the one constant in my life, and even with my eating disorder, exercise and dance were always positive places of solace for me, instead of outlets for negative behaviors.

“Dance gives me something to live for, a fulfillment I can’t find anywhere else”

For my whole treatment plan, I set my goal to be able to dance again, and to devote my positive energy and focus into dance as motivation to get better and stay healthy. I even was able to get special permission to attend my dance classes so I could finish my recital that year. With the help of my treatment team, I was able to keep my intake levels accurate and my weight gain on track while I finished my studio season. That summer, my outpatient team even helped me meal plan and prepare me for a dance intensive at a college I was interested in attending after graduating high school. I went to that dance intensive, and the experience changed my life. I had never been so motivated to live my life for myself and for my art which is dance.

I later auditioned for that college, was admitted into the school and dance program on a merit and dance performance scholarship. Four years later, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in dance performance, a B.A. in psychology, and a minor in dance/movement therapy. I am now performing professionally, teaching dance, and looking into dance/movement therapy graduate school. Dance truly helped save my life, and I am forever grateful that dance was a part of my experience with my eating disorder. Dance gives me something to live for, and a fulfillment I can’t find anywhere else.

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I’ve FOUGHT for years to have a healthy relationship with my body. I treasure and value my body, and try to practice body compassion every day of my life. When someone or something happens that puts my body in a vulnerable, compromised, or damaging position, I must remove myself from whatever negative stimulus is causing me and my body harm. Toxic people, situations, and stress only lead to that mind/body disconnect I suffered for so many years as a kid and young adolescent. I have come too far into my recovery and my life to allow myself to tolerate any sort of abuse or direct harm to my body and mind. I’ve come too far in my dance career to allow an eating disorder or other people to abuse my body.

Dance gives me a purpose and a reason to rise out of bed every morning. Life is truly so much better when I can dance through it, and I am blessed and very lucky to have discovered my love for dance at such a young age.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the link below will direct you to the National Eating Disorder Association’s confidential Helpline

NEDA Eating Disorder Helpline

Until next time,

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