GOD TALK: Peace, Be Still
In these crazy times, I think one of the most important things we need in our lives right now aside from love would be peace and joy. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the Fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience (or long-suffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These nine "fruits," whether you are Christian or not, are all values that many people either claim or choose to live by.
Before you tell me, "Easier said than done!" Trust me, I know! I know it is so much easier said than done. I know that because exercising these values are not my strength. So right now, in a time full of empty schedules, it is the perfect time to work on these areas. Patience with family. Peace in times of stress. Love in a time of separation. Joy in a time of isolation and obedience to the requirements of the law. Goodness in a time where it's not easy to be good. Self-control is a time where there is no out.
The time of self-quarantine is a lot bigger than us. I ended up seeing this at first as self-isolation, which made me afraid. The virus is not what I am scared of, and to be honest, I think a lot of people resonate with me on this. The scary part is not the virus, it's the fact that the world is shutting down. Businesses have closed, we feel like we can't go outside, we can't interact with people we love. Some people are separated from their families in a time where maybe, it's their family members being affected by the pandemic or affected by the natural cycle of life.
The biggest fear of mine in this pandemic is that I will retract back to how I used to be- cold, angry, depressed, more anxious than I've ever been, feeling trapped, feeling like I couldn't move, couldn't breathe. I've worked so hard for the past two years to work on my mental health and face my fears, now, I face the fear that I will go back to being the person I hated.
My mom and my siblings have been working on the fruits of the spirit, learning how to cultivate them better together so we can exercise them apart. How do we exercise these aspects? Get creative. Sometimes it requires getting really creative and requires you to go the extra mile to show your love to someone, to bring peace into a chaotic predicament, to bring joy in a depressive state.
The best part of this whole thing has been spending time in the presence of God. I haven't been sleeping recently, falling asleep between two and four in the morning. Some nights it's because I feel this emptiness, this pit of loneliness, and the only thing that fills it is His presence. Reading the word, His words, over myself, it feels like He's in the room. Listening to worship, helping me engage in my own worship and adoration to him. Praying, because it is what I was born to do.
The beautiful part about this quarantine is the fact that I have found something in God I was never able to find before. I realized that God has been able to pull me out of those places where I feel like I'm stuck in quicksand. Being separated from my loved ones has given me the time I didn't have before to really focus on God.
So in this time of self-quarantine, for those of you who are feeling like it is more like self-isolation, remember to find the little things that bring you joy. Look at old photos. Pull out old photo albums and reminisce on the good times. Look at things that bring you joy. Step outside in the sunshine and enjoy the fresh air. Be kind. Be good. Be gracious. And you can do this.
This too shall pass.
LIFESTYLE: Relational Connection Together, Apart
Maintaining relationships with friends or a significant other in quarantine might be one of those, "How the heck am I going to do this?" situations, so yes, while it will take a little extra effort to keep the people together, it is going to be easier than you think. It is going to require intentionality to reach out to your friends. The extroverts around are going to be needing this connection, and the introverts, though some are relishing in this time, they may need someone to reach out to them and keep them from falling into self-isolation.
If you're in a relationship with a significant other, find ways to be creative with your thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs at this time. Sending messages and FaceTime is great and all, but every relationship needs a sense of mystery and adventure and surprise. Finding activities that are possible to do with each other, such as having a list of random questions, creating something together like a virtual photo album, a poetry book, etc. Even playing games is a possibility. This also extends to friends.
Recently, my friends and I downloaded an app called HouseParty (available for android and iOS), which is a video chatting app where multiple people can join a chat. You also have the ability to play games on the app as well and it's so fun. Another way to stay in contact with one another is by using FaceTime for iPhone users, where multiple people can come on as well. Zoom is great too if you have it and the ability to buy it.
Remember, just because you can't hang out in person doesn't mean you can't still have good conversations with them. Relationships, both as a couple and as friends, are hard enough, but this adds to a new level. Take advantage of the fact you will bond with these people, to learn more about them, to get closer with the people you surround yourself with, with the people you spend so much of your time with, or the people you love.
The other night, I was FaceTiming with my best friend, and over time we added more of our friends to the call. It was the highlight of our week. With the boredom of quarantine and the struggle of holding ourselves together, being able to just laugh and tease each other and tell stories was a memory that we got to create. Memories don't necessarily have to be made in person. They can be made virtually too. I'm so thankful for technology. I'm so thankful we have the ability to stay connected with each other. We're very lucky to be living in the times that we are.
See, there's always a silver lining.
FITNESS & HEALTH: Keeping In Shape During A Pandemic
It is imperative for dancers, professional or pre-professional to keep in shape during this time. It seems absolutely impossible to somehow keep the same rhythm and flow of our technique and artistry in the middle of a pandemic when artists are being laid off and unsure of their futures.
Don't worry guys, it's going to be okay.
I have been recovering from an ankle injury, so a lot of my exercising the past month or so have been full of physical therapy exercises for my ankles. Lots of therabands to maintain strength in the small muscle groups and ligaments to support my pointe work and ankle stability, rolling out the arches of my feet to keep the muscles pliable and prevent them from shortening, and stretching the tops of my foot and ankles. It helps with pointe work and just the line of the foot in general.
I've also been focusing on upper body. While I can't do everything I want to do to strengthen my legs at the moment, I can stretch and do yoga to keep my quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles from shortening, which I have to admit was beginning to happen, so I am working on gaining that flexibility back. I have been focusing on building my strength in my core: obliques, lower abs, psoas muscles, back, and shoulders. I also wanted to tone my arms and chest to have nicer lines and keep my body a little on the firmer side for variation and quick work. I've been joining in Box 'n Burn's IG Live classes to keep my endurance and work my upper body. My goal is for my upper body to have a ton of strength by the time this is over.
Remember when strengthening, you need to maintain flexibility otherwise your muscles will be short. Having short muscles prevent having full mobility, so if you're going to strengthen, be sure to stretch as well. Light yoga will do the trick.
I also wanted to share some free resources online for you dancers to be able to have access to online! If there is a suggested donation, please take it into consideration and support them, because the reality is that we are all laid off, and every bit of support helps the artistic community.
INSTAGRAM Live Classes
THE BALLET WORLD
GUEST BOX: Seeking Peace for a Piece of Mind
As we have recently added Y.H. as a content creator, I asked her if she was willing to write a blurb for the April Issue so you could get to know her better. I'm super excited that she was down for it. In this month's guest box, please welcome Chief Contributing Editor of Life On Pointe TV, Yingru Huang!
"I’m just a f****d up girl lookin’ for who’s lookin’ for my own piece of mind."
— Halsey | Ashley, Manic
Hey guys! Before I start writing, I’m sure an intro is needed, because I have never written for this platform before! My name is Y.H., and I am a 21-year-old, third-year Dance Major studying at UCLA! I come from the Bay Area, in a kind of small town call Alameda. I’m also literally Ellie’s wifey until death do us part, and I am a behind-the-scenes contributor and Chief Video Editor for LIFE ON POINTE TV, as well as helping with promotions on LIFE ON POINTE’s Instagram. Besides dancing (which is part of my schoolwork), writing (also a huge chunk of my schoolwork), and editing videos for LOP, you can find me writing my own little blurbs, video editing my own projects, or taking and editing photos! I also try my best to consume a general mass of entertainment and music, so surfing on YouTube, movie/TV show streaming services, and Spotify are a must for relaxation! I’m kind of nervous, since this is my first blog, but I hope you guys enjoy my writing, and feel free to leave comments to affirm my work or leave constructive criticism!
So. Covid-19. Quarantine. Social habits suddenly changing from real life interactions mixed with technological uses, to virtually everything being done digitally besides real-life interactions with your closest family. And that’s if you’re still living with your family, like I am right now. The transition has been a struggle, but also comes with its pros. Now that everything is online, I can wake up just five minutes before my scheduled lecture on Zoom, a live-video streaming app once meant for business calls, but is now being used nationwide for schools to continue providing education to their students (Zoom University, anyone?). Because I’m living at home, I can split home-care responsibilities, from cooking to vacuuming the floor, between family members, which means more free time. Despite the inability to physically be with my friends, I can still use video-chat services like FaceTime and Zoom to stay in touch with them, which I’ve been doing everyday so as to not become an asocial zombie.
But you have to admit—besides everything being so readily accessible these days thanks to the power of the Internet—that it feels like nothing really “turns off.” Work and school are suddenly so accessible, as long as you have Internet and the digital tools to use the Internet (middle-class struggles right here). And for someone like me who is constantly creating and trying to make art, the Internet has been providing different intellectual conversations and methods on how to exactly continue to be creative when we’re all suddenly retained, thus sparking different modes of creativity. So, it is so easy, with all this downtime, to just work, staring at your computer screen for hours. What once was a digital novelty has now suddenly become an essential, and with that comes what feels like days spending on screens, from working to using the screen for downtime as well.
And, I don’t know about you, but that has certainly been creating some issues, from how easy it is for me to not go to sleep due to staring at the screen so much that your brain literally perceives itself as awake, to getting screen fatigue, to getting pains in your arms, neck, and back because you’ve been sitting in relatively the same position for a long time. Not to mention the amount of stress and peaks of anxiety that suddenly show up and devour you not suddenly, but incrementally, because now everything, especially work, simply doesn’t stop anymore. It’s all there, sitting on your laptop or device, just waiting, beckoning you to come back to it so that you can keep alert and stressed. All of this, in a location where all you’ve got is all the rooms in your living space. There’s simply no turning away from it.
If you noticed by now that this is becoming a issue, STOP YOURSELF. NOW. Before things get any worse. For although it feels like you’re being less productive because of quarantine, the truth is you’re probably feeling a lot more stressed right now being stuck at home with your screens than you were a few months ago, when going outside just to catch a breather was the norm. And my advice: give yourself some time to not look at screens. Maybe read a book, or listen to music without cruising through your phone. Or do some chores instead, if you’re really that jittery.
Or maybe, just maybe, take a bloody nap. All our bodies need rest, and there is such a thing as a food coma. Let your body rest from all the stress it’s been building up, physically and mentally. Because not only is being at home becoming stressful, the whole world is becoming stressed due to Covid-19. Do not let that bite you in the neck, my dear friend. Even if it feels difficult, try. Because the thing is, we may feel like this is temporary, but the habits we develop during this time may continue to exist in the long haul. And the good ole saying, old habits die hard? That’s going to ring extremely true by the time the world has recovered from this whole pandemic.
So don’t try to use the time that feels “empty” or “useless” to fill it with more work. Even if you think you should find a new hobby, take a pause if you notice that even the hobby is making you stressed instead of happy. Learn to take an active break, rather than one so passive you become a numb being and just watch YouTube videos all day. Because the mind, although it has the need to be active and entertained, also needs a chance to breathe. So, take this time to actually take a break, and move around. Heck, maybe even go outdoors and walk on the empty street, and embrace the fresh air and solitude from the crazy digital world for a little bit, even if it means a long shower at the end. Because, at the end of the day, if we can’t take care of ourselves, we can’t keep functioning. And if we can’t function, we will not be able to do things as well as we should be.
So, maybe, just maybe, find your own peace with your own piece of mind in this crazy world we’re currently living in. Pun intended.
. . .
Life On Pointe Presents:
This was a very special piece to me. As soon as I heard Steffany Gretzinger's song Remember, I knew I didn't just want, but I needed to dance to it. I immediately sat down and listened to the song at least 14 times, working out choreography in my mind and came up with a story line and ideas of specific shots I wanted to use. In my piece, you'll see a red scarf be used throughout, representing the love of Jesus wrapping around us, how He is always with us, behind us, beside us, in front of us. This premiered on April 12, 2020 in honor of Easter. I wanted to bring people hope and do what artists do: help people forget for a few minutes what reality is and bring them into a different world, full of beauty and life and love and art. For those of you who watched on Premiere Day, thank you for all of your feedback, for all of the support, for sharing and loving on this video.
Ellie Kim - Director | Yingru Huang - Editor | Michelle Ju - Footage Arrangements
And as promised, a very special shoutout to Josh Wong (@jwongx27), my friend who let me borrow his ankle brace while I heal from this injury. Love you bro!