NYC- The city of opportunity, ambition and cold, hard reality. The place where people tell it like it is, are honest (maybe to a fault) and will shove you in the subway if you’re walking too slow. So, is it true that if you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere?
I don’t know. But the more I travel and encounter people all over the world the more I realize that 99% of the population is made of 0% hustle. Literally people have no sense of urgency. Almost every situation I am in, whether it’s boarding a plane or the checkout lane at the supermarket- I’m working at my max capacity to move as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am hyper aware of how my presence is affecting someone’s day. Is my “let me take my sweet time” attitude making someone late for an important meeting? I want to be thoughtful!
When I look around, I’m the only one that seems to be acting this way. I’m constantly surrounded by people who seem to be moving at their slowest possible pace. I like to keep it moving and I believe that’s the New Yorker in me. Other people seem so content to just move as slowly and inefficiently as possible- even in high pressure situations people look sleepy and aloof. I had to board my last flight behind a man who could easily have been part of the cast of the Walking Dead– I wanted to shake him and scream “come on man theres 100 people behind you- WALK, load your luggage and sit the hell down”… Of course I didn’t. But it was hard to resist. Is that rude? Maybe… but isn’t it also rude to not take into account a time sensitive situation and focus on doing things quickly so the other 100 passengers don’t have to stand on the jetway in misery and have their flight delayed because you can’t put your luggage into the bin and sit down in a timely manner? I think so.
A lot of people see this “hustle” as a problem with New Yorkers. Always saying things like ” everyone’s always in such a rush” ” you don’t enjoy the moment” blah blah blah. I would argue that this hustle is an asset and it’s the asset that’s kept me ahead of the curve thus far in my life. I have a desire to get things done- to do them quickly and efficiently. The harder I work, the faster I work- the better I get. I compare it to a physical activity like running- if you just jog, the same speed and distance every day, you’ll never advance to running or make it to a marathon. It’s fine to be content to be a jogger- but if you want to get better you need to run faster and farther each time you run… That’s the New Yorker.
Aside from moving at a glacial pace, a lot of people are just detached- not connected to their surroundings- not aware. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pick something up and return to someone who dropped it without noticing. People don’t seem to notice when they are being rude and getting dirty looks from those around them… This is important. You should know the impression you’re making. The guy on airplane next to me as we speak is yelling like he’s at a football match. On an airplane, when you are trapped in a closed capsule with strangers, USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE. I should NOT be able to hear you talking to the person next to you. He has not once noticed the 3000+ leering looks I’ve shot him in the past 2 hours. This is not trivial- it’s likely he doesn’t realize how he makes people feel in general in his life- and that’s a nasty quality.
I think NYC (and maybe this can be argued for most major cities, but NYC is the roughest I’ve ever been to) can teach you to do things in a way that doesn’t waste time, and that time is precious. If you move slowly, you’ll be the last one to arrive at an opportunity and that’s never a good thing. I am very grateful to my School Of Hard Knocks training from growing up in Brooklyn. I learned to take tough criticism and still love myself, to not miss a train (be on time), to keep it moving and look for the opportunities in life- not always expect them to be handed to me. Sometimes people paint New Yorkers as people who would run an old lady over on the sidewalk just to make a dime.. but thats not true.
Any New Yorker can tell you that as cut throat as we are we are kind of like a large pack of animals- and we don’t like when people bully our own. There’s a difference between expecting a young, able bodied person to be able to take their head up from their phone and act quickly in a crowded, tense situation and expecting an elderly person to. I think by and large New Yorkers are the most empathetic people I’ve ever met. We are tough to a point, but if an old lady needs help crossing the street we got her back. There’s almost a sense of camaraderie even though its a no BS, tell-it-like-it-is kinda town.
I think we should stop and smell the roses, definitely. But I also think we should hurry up and mow the lawn. I highly recommend that you spend some time in NYC and get a feel for the rhythm of it, see the way people with huge dreams and tight schedules juggle everything in the greatest city on earth. I think it will help to inspire you, motivate you and maybe help you realize that you are capable of more than you think and at least every once in a while, you should hurry up.
Lately, whether or not Youtube is a valuable or legitimate way to showcase your work as a dancer or choreographer has become a point of contention in the dance industry. Everyone has an opinion on it and there seems to be a lot of hostility towards it. Some people feel that Youtube is something like a “get-rich quick” scheme for dancers or a way to achieve some type of fame that your talent or hustle doesn’t back up. While others love Youtube and think its a vital tool in our changing industry.
My personal Youtube is not a big deal and I occasionally post videos on it here and there. However, I constantly appear in videos for other choreographers and here is my stance on why I am pro-Youtube and don’t think its something to be hated in the dance world.
First of all, I have seen FIRSTHAND that becoming a “Youtube sensation” doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of working hours a day, editing, being knowledgable about marketing and monetization. Its not something to squawk at for someone to build a following on social media. It really takes a lot of hard work- and guts! Posting something on youtube with the comment section open means that anyone is open to comment anything they’d like. You may have spent two days choreographing a routine, 3 days training it and 30 hours editing the video so Dave from Kentucky can say, “you look a hot a mess,” or “this sucks.”
Youtube offers dancers and choreographers something they have never had before- their own DIRECT platform to the AUDIENCE. The fact is, the people watching Youtube are the reason we dance! We dance to entertain the general public- These are the people watching the Target commercials, buying the tickets to the Beyonce concert, watching the new J.Lo video on Vevo. Its important for other dancers/artists to respect your work- yes. But its also important that your work is relatable, inspirational and entertaining to the masses. Youtube is a great way for non-dancers to access your work, weigh in with their opinion and for you to market test your product. In our industry we work our asses off and then go into an audition for an old man in a suit that works for a high power company that doesn’t dance. Even when you do audition for a choreographer, everyone knows the choreographer has A say, but not the final say. Mostly we are judged and hired by people who know very little about dance and are casting directors or executives at big corporations. Thats what makes Youtube Phenomenal.
You can put YOUR work and your vision out there- unaltered – and have it viewed by people who love dance and who are dancers themselves. I’ve worked on countless projects where the choreographer and dancers have to compromise their original ideas for what works better with the artists quality of movement, what the creative director wants, what the budget allows, what the network wants and a million other reasons. All that is fine of course- but isn’t it nice to dance however you want without having to answer to ANYONE?
As a dancer and teacher I LOVE the fact that our videos can reach and inspire young dancers in small towns in the US or other countries that may not have access to a regular dance education. They can see what we are up to, decide if they might like to come visit LA, or pursue dance professionally themselves. Sometimes people say our videos made them enroll in local hip hop classes and we love to hear that! We support the arts! If we can inspire people to get up and dance in any way, shape or form that is success and for me thats the point. When we put up tutorials, we allow people from anywhere in the world to have access to dance training. A lot of people are hindered by finances and can’t afford to take classes or train as much as they like and we have found a way to circumvent that problem and help dancers with a desire to learn! I came from a family with a moderate income and I know it would have helped me immensely to have choreographers teaching me to dance for free on my computer screen.
For me, putting our dance videos out on YouTube is a way to give back to dancers everywhere and to engage them. To say, “hey, here’s what we are doing, what do you think?” To make people think, “you know what, maybe I can do that too…”. Lastly, seeing yourself on video from dance class and allowing that video to be open to criticism, to me, makes sense and furthers my training. It makes me not take class casually or lightly. I take class to train for the real world, where in auditions you have one hour to learn a piece and perform it and get feedback. YouTube class videos are much the same. Class youtube videos are optional, no one has to be put up that doesn’t want to and I personally think they offer such a great tool. I can see myself dance next to my peers and get a real idea of what I look like, what I am doing right and what I am doing wrong. Sometimes people comment things on the video I didn’t even think of or realize I was doing.
In short, I think YouTube is fabulous and I think its high time dancers had their own platform to dance as they’d like to- unhindered. I think its our job to reach out to other dancers not just in our local community, but all over the world and share our art- and with YouTube we can finally do that. YouTube is a step forward for artists. As dancers, what we need to stop doing, is attacking each other for our choices and differences. Love, support, accept and inspire ❤
I am in love with science. I was a Behavioral Neuroscience major in college and a bio geek in High School, complete with AP science courses, the whole 9. I am fascinated with technology. We can now unlock our cellphones with our fingerprint! The advances are astounding and in some cases, life saving. There is no denying that there are positive sides to the technological take-over we are experiencing. However, I feel lately I am seeing the negative ones more so than the positives.
We are living in the land of “Right Now.” Whatever you want you can have it and you don’t have to wait or work, you just have to push a few buttons and bam its yours. This sounds great, but I think there’s a good reason we weren’t all born with a magic lamp, with a little genie that pops out, sounds like Robin Williams and grants us three wishes; and I think that reason is because as great as it sounds in theory- that being given something simply by asking for it is not only negative, but counterproductive.
In order to truly be prepared to receive something you desire, you need to do work. Mental, physical, spiritual and emotional work. Otherwise, when something is given to you- you won’t know what to do with it, how to enjoy it. This happens constantly now-a-days. People are given things they “want” and then they feel unhappy for a moment with it and then bail on it- or worse, complain incessantly. “I got this job but its long hours and my feet hurt and my boss smells like cheese.” Its always, I got what I wanted BUT I’m not a hundred percent thrilled so I will be bailing on it as soon as I find something better. They want success but are too lazy to do the work. They want the up but can’t weather the down…. The Flake Factor.
We all know flakiness is rampant. People say-” Sure I can make your birthday party” and then the day-of you get the ” I got kept at work, then my grandma died, my car broke down and I broke my neck… so I can’t make it- Im SO sorry” text message. This may not seem like a big deal- but it is ( and you realize how big of a deal it is when people bail on YOUR birthday- but thats a different point for a different day). How you do one thing is how you do everything. Being able to keep your word is an EXTREMELY important skill. Reliability is intrinsically tied to success. You CANNOT win if you don’t show up and people do not want to work for someone who can’t follow through. For people to want to work with you and for you, they need to be able to trust your word.
You can try to justify it, “Its not a big deal, just someones party, lunch etc.” but when you make a habit of failing to follow through, that habit will follow you and so will the reputation. Relationships with friends, co-workers, significant others and family are built on loyalty and part of being loyal is keeping your word. If you say you are going to be somewhere, be there. Make a habit of honoring your commitments in all aspects of your life, I promise you its an integral skill to a successful, happy life. Don’t think people don’t notice. They do. I remember every single time someone’s dog died when they were supposed to show up for me.
Being loyal is another KEY ingredient in being successful. Not only loyal to people but to dreams and jobs as well. In the age of “right now” the idea of working for anything seems lost. Here’s the bitter truth- you are NOT going to be happy every moment of every day of your life. Let that sink in, then deal with it and move on. Being unhappy, anxious, uncomfortable, mad, indignant, downright POed- is part of life. Take it in stride. Put on your rain boots and weather the storm. Tenacity is a noble quality. To ride something to the top, you need to be able to hang on to it. When the going gets tough the tough hold on for dear life and never give up. These days people are unhappy for one second and they are using drugs, they are tired for one second and they are double fisting Starbucks at $6 a pop, mad at their spouse and they cheat, pissed at work and they quit. This is a recipe for disaster. The only time you will feel accomplished is when you FACE difficulty, not show it your butt as you run away crying.
It is so important to become mentally strong. When you are in a position and you feel negative feelings, you are being given an opportunity. An opportunity to grow up and become stronger and better. I urge you not to quit and take the easy road but to do some mental work- take some time to re-evaluate, analyze your feelings, adjust your perspective, ask for advice- BE PATIENT. Things worth having take time to acquire and it seems like lately no one has the time, for anything. At a red light, you have to send a text message. At a pause in conversation with a friend, gotta check your e-mail. We are so pressed for time that we can’t focus our energy on one thing at a time- EVERYTHING is a multi-task now. Getting more done right? But how much are you missing? I would say, too much. And don’t try to give me “the aren’t enough hours in the day” speech as an excuse for texting while driving while eating while applying lipstick. You have just as many hours in your day as Ben Franklin and Einstein had- and they made it work.
I would seriously argue that every major problem facing mankind right now is a product of over-accessiblity and a lack of patience. Obesity, drug abuse, alcoholism, sex addiction… you want it right now, you have it right now and you don’t take the time to consider the consequences. I urge you to slow down. Start today. Do one thing at a time. Spend time with your loved ones with your cell phone out of sight. Take a walk in nature, without your Ipod, just with your imagination. Follow through and show up- even if your tired or don’t feel like it- just show up and make the best of it. Struggle. Put your best effort in, even when something sucks. Cultivate a sunny disposition, find the humor in things, don’t text and drive, be empathetic, be HUMBLE, remember you are not the only person on the planet- we are ALL late, hungry and tired; and most importantly PAUSE. Don’t act on every single feeling, every whim. Just because you can get dominoes at 2 am doesn’t mean that you should. By choosing not to order the pizza you could end up with $5 more dollars and 5 less pounds. Take your life into CAREFUL consideration, consideration that doesn’t happen at the speed of text. Remember that with every single choice, you are shaping your current reality and your future circumstance. Your life is your responsibility, so take it seriously. Don’t get so lost in a world of status updates and instagrams that you miss the world thats right in front of you… and always remember the story of the tortoise and the hare- slow and steady kids, slow and steady.
Your brain is the most powerful machine you will ever own. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual but it is in your best interest to learn how to use it; learn to control your mind and keep your thoughts positive. Your thoughts become your life.. and that is the idea that I base my life on. People often ask how I got so lucky in dance and in finding a man like Matt.. but I didn’t get lucky at all- I got educated. I stopped letting my mind run on auto-pilot and learned to carefully control my thoughts. I use positive thinking and visualization to create the things I want. I tell the universe clearly what I desire and the universe brings it to me or in the case of Matt (who I met by driving across the country and moving to California) brings me to it. I know this sounds crazy… but in my own personal life I can promise you it works.
It is not enough to just muse on something.. “I’d like to win the lottery…” You have to genuinely believe in the possibility, all the time, without doubt. You have to learn to silence the sometimes subconscious voice in your mind that says “that’s impossible” and actually visualize yourself with the things you want. Imagine what they would taste like, smell like, feel like… smile and jump up and down like you actually did win the lottery if that’s what it takes… But believe it- and you will receive it.
How do you start?
1.Monitor your thoughts today. How many times a day do thoughts like traffic, debt, or illness cross your mind? Even if you are thinking: “I don’t want any more debt” you are still calling for debt. The universe doesn’t hear “I don’t want”… worry is a way of summoning the things you DON’T want by keeping them at the forefront of your thoughts. Erase the word debt and instead think “I want more money” and ” money comes freely and easily.” Replace all the negative with positive as much as possible. If you are stuck in traffic breathe in and out and refocus your energy. Don’t worry about traffic, or if you’ll pay your rent.. worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere.
2. Set a goal and test it.. give yourself 6 months to create something that you really want and believe you can have. Start small at first and work up to bigger things as you get better at this strategy. Think about it every day.. how would it feel to have that promotion or lose those 5 pounds? How would others react when they saw you in that new dress you’ve had your eye on? what will it be like WHEN you have it, not if…and so on..Matt and I keep a vision board in our home that we look at EVERY day. The board has pictures of all the things we want for our lives and I promise you, we will have every single one of them… because we believe we can and because we stay focused on them.
3. Be GRATEFUL. Wake up every single day and while you are brushing your teeth, instead of going through all the things you have to do that day or worrying about your big presentation at work.. go through ALL the things in your life that you are grateful for… A loving family, pretty hair, a job you like, anything. Greatness starts with a grateful heart and you will never have more if you cannot appreciate what you have now. This will put you in a positive place for the day and set you on a good path.
4. Focus on the big picture and have THICK skin: If you find yourself huffing and puffing over every day’s little disturbance you have gotten off the beaten path. Smile at the person who cuts you off in traffic, speak to people gently and with kindness even if they don’t deserve it right then, create an environment of positivity and change your environment, don’t let it change you. If you see someone struggling, ask if they need help. If you see someone upset look at them with understanding and say “rough day?” If you can create an atmosphere of understanding, empathy and positivity you will create a pathway for the universe and the people around you to bring those things right back to you. What goes around comes around… so send the right energy around.
5. TRUST in the plan: This takes practice. There is a reason not everyone is thin and wealthy… you have to train your mind EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY.. just like you keep your body fit in the gym you have to train your mind the same way. When negativity slips in, and it will, be forgiving of yourself, replace the thought and move on. Trust that if you don’t see results in 2 days that you need to stick with it. Remember that things don’t always come to you the way you expect them to. For example: maybe your visualization is that you want to make $100k this year. Stay focused on that. Maybe the next month, you’ll lose your job. Your mind wants to rationalize it and talk you into quitting on your goal- its hopeless, your unemployed.. you’ll never make 100k now.. right? wrong. Often times we are not on the path to the things we want and asking for the things we want means accepting that we may need to be re-directed. Maybe its time to hunt for a new job, or become your own boss or open that store you’ve always wanted. Take the events in your life as signs and listen to them. Don’t always assume the worst.
You may not be convinced yet.. but hey, sounds like it might be worth a try huh? it is- I promise 🙂
Every day, all over the world, every moment of the day, there are people acting a fool. They are standing on the escalator blocking the whole thing so you cannot pass; they are taking a dance class dressed for a music video shoot taking the whole thing WAY to seriously; they are cutting you in line; they’re letting their children run like wild animals through target, they do not have their money ready when they get to the drive thru window (even though there is a little sign that clearly requests that you have payment ready); they are cutting you off in traffic or coming to a full stop for no apparent reason before merging onto the parkway. These irresponsible members of society are everywhere and there is no one to keep them in check. So I propose this, we institute a “social responsibility officer” to monitor these not necessarily unlawful, but definitely unacceptable and annoying behaviors and alert the citizen to the infraction… and if no one would like the job, I nominate myself.
This week alone I have witnessed 3 noteworthy examples of social irresponsibility that went completely unpunished.
Case 1: THE PRICE-CHECK HOLD UP
So here I am at Target, minding my business, attempting to purchase this adorable watch that was on a sale for $8.00 marked down from $16.00. I’m standing behind three other customers on line number 6. The customer at the register currently has gathered every single baby seat that they sell in target, at least 8-10, and is asking the lady at the register how much each individual one costs. Now… here’s my problem(s) with this scenario: 1. There is a person at Target whose entire job is to put those convenient little price tags above or below EVERY single item in the store. That’s all he does all day is print little tags and slide them behind clear plastic holders so the consumer can read for themselves how much something will cost BEFORE they put it into their cart. 2. If you prefer not to read that little sticker, or prefer not to believe it is accurate, Target has gone as far as to put little personalized price-checker scanny machines all over the store, so that you can bring your 200 baby seats up to the price checker.. and scan them yourself.
Target has gone to these great lengths to avoid situations exactly like the one this socially inept individual has created. All these price checking mechanisms are around so that you don’t go up to the register and hold up a line full of people while harassing the poor underpaid cashier to price check every single item in your cart. So which baby seat did she choose? She did not even buy one.
CASE 2: THE FAST FOOD LINE DEBACLE
Matt and I find ourselves in line at Wendy’s because Matt has purchased a little keychain that entitles him to a free frosty with every purchase. We are at a “fast” food restaurant waiting in line for the better part of 12 minutes (in which time I could have grilled my own damn burger at home but that’s not the point) behind 5 or 6 other customers. Now, I don’t mind waiting in line but THIS I do mind. While we are waiting in line we all have the privilege of staring at this massive, bright menu complete with photos of fries, greasy burgers and other crap we shouldn’t be eating illuminated by a yellowing halogen bulb. So how should ones time be spent while waiting in line to place their order? By deciding what menu selection they would like to clog their arteries with… at least thats what one would think to be the most common sense pass time. However, at least 3 of the people got up to the front of the line, looked over at the person they were with and started to discuss what food they might like…”would you like the chicken sandwhich..” “the blah blah blahhhhh…” This conversation should have been going on during the time which you were waiting in line but had not yet reached the front of the line. This unprepared, non-sensical behavior is why we have lines in the first place…and if I was an “SRO” I would have stepped in.
CASE #3: THE PARENTAL CHECK OUT
We have all seen it.. a parent standing by while their kid licks the sidewalk, screams in public for no reason, punches an old man in the head or what have you. When we see it, we are all wondering the same thing– why doesn’t that parent step in and teach their child how to behave in public so they don’t grow up to think its cool to throw an entire bag of popcorn on the floor for no good reason. Maybe that parent has had enough for that day, or just given up in general but in any case I think it takes a village and someone should step in and handle it… and so this week, I did- in my first unofficial test as a “Social Responsibility Officer.”
Matt and I were on Hollywood Blvd leaving class around 9pm when a guy walked by with his young, possibly 6 year old, daughter on his shoulders. This child was screaming the word “no” 400 times a minute for NO REASON whatsoever.. and while she was on her father’s shoulders and walking in a group of 5 other relatives no one stopped to tell her to be quiet… so, I did. I yelled “hey”, shot her my meanest mom stare, and put my finger up to my lips to signal “be quiet”… and do you know what happened? She stopped yelling.