May Issue: A New Start

It seems impossible to move on and move forward with your life when you are, LITERALLY, stuck inside. It seems impossible to know where to go after you've left something behind when you are, LITERALLY, stuck inside.

Quarantine has been a real blessing. I know, it sounds crazy... but hear me out.

In the last 40 or so days that we've been under the Stay At Home order, I have had a lot of time to reflect, be challenged, and face things I've been running away from for years. This includes my dreams, my family, my relationships, and running away from myself. How do you run away from yourself? Well, it's pretty simple. Just bottle everything up. But that is no way to live.

What kind of life is living in pain? - KylEast | CHAINS

LIFESTYLE: Relational Awareness

*Pictured: @mikynot & @the.ellie.way

One of the things during this quarantine that I have been working on is connection with my family. When my parents told me that we were going to work on our family this year, I was skeptical.

My thought process was, "I'm moving forward in my life, I'm in dance, I'm working, I have my own life that is separate from my family. I'm an adult, and soon I won't be home. How are we going to work on this?"

Well, little did we know Covid-19 was going to hit and keep us together for much longer.

I love my family. My parents are two of the most amazing people on this earth. My siblings are a blessing to me. But are they perfect? No. We all will tell you we are each far from perfect, but we fight like hell for the relationships that mean most to us, especially with each other. Because of my personal bitterness from the past, I had shut them out, and those who know me personally know that I keep people at an arms-length, it doesn't matter who you are.

During this time, even though it hasn't always been easy, each of us are actively working on healing our family and becoming stronger as one unit. It has been incredibly difficult and beautiful in its own way- a metamorphosis and new beginnings are taking place where I kept on thinking, "It's too late." I'm constantly being put in my place these days. Family is important. Family is the life force of humanity. So many broken people are a result of broken families, which I've begun to realize. I'm not broken. I may have gone through some pretty tough times, but I'm not broken. I have a whole family, and despite our imperfections we have begun to move forward and move on in a direction where there is so much promise of happiness in our futures. And we will be stronger for leaving our bitterness and un-forgiveness behind.

Our new favorite thing to say to each other is, "You are a powerful person!" This reminds all of us as a family that whether we agree or disagree on a matter, we can own up to it and still respect one another. When I get into an argument with my family members, I am choosing to be powerless. When I get into the middle of something with my friends, I'm choosing to put myself in the middle of it. When we started going through this relational course, I realized that I don't have to put up with people's bull. I don't have to put up with how people treat me. I am a powerful person, and sometimes we need to be reminded that we aren't powerless in the situations we face. This has really helped me on a relational level with not only my family, but setting boundaries with my friends and exes.

Sometimes, you have to let go of the picture of what you thought life would be like and learn to find the joy in the story you are actually living. - Rachel Marie Martin

GOD TALK: Moving Forward From Toxic Relationships

I want to share an excerpt of something I am currently working on, but this is a realization that I have come to in the last four months. I recognize that this may not make sense to everyone, and I hope that as I would respect anyone else in their religious journey that you would respect me in mine.

I went through a two-year journey to finding the love of God in my reality. This wasn’t even walking it out, it was just finding it. As a child, my number one priority was God. This bled into my teenage years and adult years, but one thing I admire about myself is that I was a steadfast child. I knew my God was bigger than all things, I knew that I could face anything with Him by my side.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

Hebrews 13:5-6

This was a constant scripture I meditated upon. I wrote it out over and over again in my journal pages. I would look at people who made fun of me or bullied me, “I rebuke that in Jesus’ name!” and call people out on their slander, and battle their words with scriptures. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be that child again.

As I grew up, life became less supernatural and more "real." Even the Lord said that His reality is bigger than our reality, so when life became more “real” to me, I just mean the temptations became harder to fight. Lies from the enemy came in more force and in more numbers. My eyes wavered from His face and to the problems around me, and I drowned in them. Whereas I child I felt no void because I had all I needed, as a teenager it changed, and as an adult, it feels like regaining my balance.

When I lost my ability to keep my eyes steadfastly fixed on Him, I began to realize how much my Dad traveled. While he did this to provide for his family and support my dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer, it felt like he wasn’t around. Reality said he wasn’t, and reality is what I had my focus on.

There is a difference between reality and truth. Reality is the world or the state of things that they exist, a thing that is experienced or seen. Webster’s Dictionary even says “A thing that is actually experienced or seen, especially when this is grim or problematic.” What that tells me is that reality has a negative connotation to it. Truth is the state of being true, something that is right, accurate. The truth of the matter was that my Dad was providing for me and my family. The reality was that this took him away from us. I chose to focus on the fact that his work took him away from me.

In that time, I built up mindsets that were not based on the truth of God. The void in my life continued to grow and I needed companionship, because my companion (Jesus) I once spent every minute of every day with suddenly didn’t feel as real to me anymore. I began to go to other people, especially other boys to fill that void.

My dating history is pretty terrible. Though I’ve had few relationships, I’ve “talked” to a lot of guys who’s character were questionable, to say the least. I’ve always gone after people to fill a void, even though I didn’t want to face that truth. Reality said, “I just want to have someone.” Truth said, “You’re lonely and you’re using them to fill a void.” I’d been in two serious relationships, one of which was kept from my parents (which, by the way, 10/10 would NOT recommend).

Relationship number one taught me that I couldn’t rely on reality anymore. The reality of that relationship was the same as the truth: it was beyond toxic. It was abusive. It was not okay. I was hurt deeply by that relationship on so many levels. There were many problems, one of which were that I was using him to fill the void and my need to not feel lonely. My thought process with staying in this relationship with all the opposition within it was this: “He can change. It might take us twenty years…Mom & Dad were able to work out their marriage throughout their twenty years. So it’s possible. I just have to fight.” So I kept choosing him, even while I knew God was pulling at me in this time.

One night after a huge verbally abusive fight with him, I went on a drive around LA at one in the morning. I don’t exactly know where I was going, but I was just driving. I didn’t want to wake up the people I was living with and I needed to scream. I screamed at God, telling Him how He should just take my life then and now, that if He ended it I wouldn’t have to feel that pain. I cussed Him out (I know, I could’ve been struck down), I blamed Him for my birth, I was angry, and I wanted Him to know I was angry. But just like He wrestled with Jacob and let him win, God did the same with me— only God didn’t physically wrestle me.

I screamed out, “God! You said You would never leave me or forsake me, so why did You? Why have You left me?” This is when a deer jumped out on the Glendale streets and I almost hit a deer. Thank God I was in my Dad’s car. I slammed on the brakes and pulled into the shoulder. Obviously, I was panicking at this point and needed to breathe. I put the car in park and just started crying. Suddenly I felt this heat come all over my body and I had a spiritual encounter with God where He showed me all the times He had been with me in the moments I didn’t see or feel Him.

“I am at a distance because you told Me you didn’t want Me here.”

As soon as I heard this, I broke down in sobs. I remember Him taking me to our spot. As a child, I had this special spot with Jesus where it was just us, and I always went there when I was having a bad day and He would always make it better. It was somewhere up in the clouds, the flooring white and gray marble beneath our feet, a massive fountain in the center and we would dance around it. The fountain’s spray would overtake us and I remember feeling so much joy there.

“I want to let you in,” I remember saying. “But I don’t know how. I can’t.”

“You can,” He replied. “I won’t break the walls all down. I won’t make you open the door. I won’t make you do anything. I’ll be gentle. I won’t judge you. I’ll never be angry with you.”

I remember having this picture of this massive door. I remember turning the handle and leaving it cracked open. “This is all I can do right now,” I said. I felt Him smile over me, and His presence grew stronger. “I’m okay with that.”

That was a day of breakthrough for me. I broke up with the guy a few days after entirely this time— there were no more strings with him. I cut all soul ties and I felt better without him. I didn’t miss him. I didn’t want to be with him. This was my reality now: I didn’t need him to fill the loneliness, and neither did I want him to.

Darling you look happier, you do. - Ed Sheeran | HAPPIER

FITNESS & HEALTH: Winning Against An Eating Disorder

*Disclaimer: eating disorders tend to be a sensitive topic of conversation, so please keep in mind that it could be triggering to the reader.

I've struggled with eating disorders for the past 2 years, but really I started with binge eating disorder (BED) when I was 15 years old. BED is basically where you can't stop eating... just like when you binge-watch a show on Netflix, but with eating. When I turned 17, I was taking a class with a guest teacher. He looked us up and down and when he got to me he said quietly, "Coffee & Cigarettes."

I was taken aback by his comment.

I didn't really know what it meant until I contemplated what he was saying. A sudden shift happened in my mind and I saw my body in the mirror. I was nowhere near obese, but I didn't have the "ballerina figure" either. One of my teachers encouraged me to continue eating healthy and to go to the gym to work on toning my muscles, which made sense to me since I was very weak at that time, and it would also thin out my body. After a few weeks of working out and seeing very little result, I started to ignore my hunger pangs.

I didn't make a conscious decision to essentially starve myself skinny. I blamed the fact that I would forget to eat on how busy I was until I saw it become a real problem. I was in Hawaii with my family and I found myself nauseous every time I looked at or thought about food. Then I would feel guilty and binge eat. Then I would feel guilty again and starve myself. I got stuck in this consistent cycle of battling anorexia and BED at the same time and it took a while to get over.

When I got into the company in April of 2019, I got better. I lived too much of an active life to not eat. I was dancing for at least 3-6 hours every day on top of cleaning houses for 3-7 hours, on top of working as an administrative executive assistant running around LA expediting permits with my client. It was insane and I had to eat. I was also the slimmest and fittest I had been in my whole career. I was happy to eat because I looked good and I felt good.

I made the decision to take an extensive break from dance as I had been dealing with politics in dance for years at this point and I was just done. I wasn't enjoying it anymore and I left the previous company I was with. When I joined Pasadena Dance Theater, I felt like I really found a place I loved with people I enjoyed. The whole experience gave me hope, but I still wrestled with wanting to quit dance or not. After Nutcracker ended in December, I moved back to Bakersfield with my family. I fell back into poor eating habits and just got skinnier and skinnier.

My parents and friends started to notice and people began asking me if I was eating enough. I didn't want to face the fact that I was dealing with these eating disorders, but I knew they were right when I was feeling like I couldn't function. If I didn't drink coffee, I would get blinding migraines. I felt so weak that when I would stand up I would have to wait for the dizziness to pass. It took my eyes at least an hour to adjust to normal vision after waking up. I knew that I had a problem and didn't know how to fix it. It was a strange feeling; the feeling of hunger gave me a weird sense of calm and control, but behind my lies of "I'm not hungry" and smiles, I was miserable.

Thanks to my mom giving me her last session with her Keto Coach who specializes in helping people with eating disorders, I was able to talk to her. The first step was looking at the fact that I did, indeed, have a problem with BED and anorexia and I needed to break the cycle. We started by just getting me to consume enough calories consistently enough. Slowly, my energy has been returning, I feel better, healthier, and I have the strength and desire to dance and workout and not feel miserable and deprived of nutrients. It's still not easy, but I'm fighting it one day at a time, telling myself "No!" when I go to food on emotional days and choosing to eat at my designated times, choosing to eat when my hunger pangs appear.

It's helped to have my parents be so helpful- my mom helping me meal plan and my dad on nights he's home cook dinner for me when I'm in meetings. It's helped to have my friends be so supportive and let me share my progress with them and have them encourage me in this process. I'm lucky to have people around me taking care of me, even if they're far away and in quarantine.

I'm not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body. - Demi Lovato

And dancing? Man, I miss it. I miss going to class. I miss seeing my friends. I miss creating. I miss being alone in the studio perfecting every movement or learning a variation. I miss pushing boundaries and learning new things about my body. Dance towards the end of last year was a journey of me getting to know myself.

I know I said I really wasn't sure if I wanted to continue dance as a career after this past year. I told my parents that I wasn't sure if I was cut out for it. I wasn't sure exactly of what I wanted at that point and was taking into high consideration the option to quit.

Yet once a dancer, always a dancer.

After this extensive break, with including quarantine time, I've taken an official four months off of dance. That is a long time to not be doing much. This included working out and stretching, and yes while I popped into the studio maybe once or twice, I wasn't really doing it to work on technique. I did it to feed my guilt if I'm being totally honest. After contemplating these past four months, I decided that I'm going to give myself until the end of 2023 to really go after a real career with a professional ballet company. I'm giving myself three more years, as I will have hit nearly 20 years of official training in dance if I hit that year.

For the time being, I have been working out consistently, I have been stretching twice a day, I have even been taking online barres and even gave myself a center in my backyard (only a few times because concrete destroys your body). I'm excited about the next two to three years of training because I feel like I'm giving myself a real fighting chance now that I know my body well enough to perform the way I want to. I've been experimenting with different projects and working on future collaborations and performance pieces to perform when quarantine is over.

For the first time in a very long time, I am excited about what the future holds.

It's time to show the world what you're made of, Love. - Philip Pegler

The Ellie Edit: Dress Up cuz, Why Not?

On a lighter note! Fashion is one of the ways I express my mood or one of the ways that helps me change it. I have some of my favorite items that I wear for the specific purpose of boosting my mood for the day. So the fact that we have nowhere to go makes me a little sad when I see my dresses rotting away in a closet. For all the weddings, events, and GNO's (girl's night out) that have been canceled, I decided to create a look-book for the heck of it. Some links may be affiliated and I'll leave codes if they're available down below.

This is one of my favorite dresses- so simple and so impacting. It basically wears itself and it's a super easy look to style. I chose to keep my hair natural and pin a few of the strands back for more volume. I've worn this outfit for a premiere ballet, my debut performance with Pasadena Dance Theater, and a recent Girl's Night Out.

{1.} Dress: Forever 21

{2.} Accessories: Necklaces in the styles Chelsea, Katie, Earrings in the style Jen, Ring in the styles Amber & Joy

{3.} Shoes: Steve Madden (linked is a similar style)

This is one of my most highly requested looks from my friend's birthday dinner back in December. We dressed up and went out to a nice restaurant and took pictures at a cool hotel. I also wore this to a client's event for a fundraiser I did in Los Angeles while I lived there. This is one of my favorite dresses for once again, its simplicity, color, and cut. It's very elegant and easy to wear to any event that you need to dress up for.

{1.} Dress: SHEIN

{2.} Accessories: Necklaces in the style Katie, Earrings in the style Laura, Ring in the styles Amber & Joy

{3.} Shoes: DSW - Mix No. 6

#JFFpodcast Recap

Because of quarantine, I've been lucky enough to be able to interview some pretty amazing people. So stay tuned for more to come! However this past month, we had some pretty incredible guests on and I wanted to share it with you.

#JFFpodcast Episode 3: KylEastMusic

As you can probably tell, this is one of my favorite episodes to date (as there was a whole dedicated blog post to it). We chatted about the art of understanding the difference between sensual and sexual and rediscovering your body through music and dance, overcoming eating disorders, and what fuels our art so we can speak to the world through a language we speak. It was an incredible interview. Also please check out her new song CHAINS, a song about her journey in overcoming her eating disorder. It was so meaningful and powerful for me and I am so, so proud of her. Congratulations and thank you for sharing your art.

Audio Episode: Just For Fun w/ singer/songwriter KylEastMusic

Instagram: @kyleastmusic

CHAINS out now:

#JFFpocast Episode 4: Y.H. & Ellie K.

This audio episode surrounds the behind-the-scenes production process of REMEMBER, a music video released on Easter 2020. In this episode we also cover a working relationship as best friends, a little of our history and how to put aside our creative (and personal) differences in our relationship. Thanks Y.H. for hopping on and sharing your editing process with us.

Audio Epiosde: Just For Fun w/ video editor-in-chief Y.H.

Instagram: @yingkangaroo


- A Note From The Author -

I hope that you and your families are staying safe and well. I know quarantine has really driven a lot of people to look and face their own fears and giants and realities, but as I stated earlier, there is a difference between our reality and truth. Remember that this is only temporary, that this too shall pass. Quarantine has been a real eye-opening time for me, with my friendships, and with my family. It has been hard, it has been emotionally taxing, but it's what you do with it that really counts, and I have fought to remember that. It will get better. Everything is going to be okay.

Xx, Ellie


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