I love sharing interesting finds! Since my most recent blog post was about my love of ballet and its benefits, I’m excited to share a recent ballet discovery— Kinetic Essentials Ballet “Hue” Polish.
(This might be a good time to note: I independently purchased my KE Ballet “Hue” Polish and was not asked to review it, nor did I receive monetary compensation for sharing this product information).
Ballet is all about creating elongated, continuous lines for visual interest— And nothing creates a better visual line than having your ballet shoes match your skin tone!
My ballet shoes, which are a very pretty shade of pink, didn’t match my skin tone at all.
While researching a way to rectify that, I came across the Kinetic Essentials website and their Ballet “Hue” Polish!
It works on canvas and pointe shoes and offers a variety of colors for different flesh tones:
Photo Credit: Kinetic Essentials
A sponge applicator came attached to the bottle, so it was easy to apply. Also, it smelled nice and dried quickly… so, I was dancing in flesh-toned shoes in record time. You can see the comparison of my current (flesh-toned) canvas ballet shoes and my new (ballet-pink) pair, in the first picture. Big difference!
It feels good to have that uniform appearance when I’m dancing (AND shoes that match your skin tone really do make your legs appear longer). There’s also the added benefit of drawing attention away from my feet, especially in dance class! 😉
I love how it serves as a creative outlet for me to express myself artistically.
I revel in the intensity of physical exertion required, both in movement and stillness.
I enjoy the mental challenge it provides— trying to remember different ballet positions and combinations, while remaining focused on my breathing and body positioning— neck long, shoulders down, tail bone tucked in, feet turned out…
Ballet is the epitome of creative mindfulness for me.
I have no choice but to be in the moment, since it takes ALL of my energy and concentration to get those moves right, AND to remember to breathe and look natural!
Because I didn’t take dance classes in my youth (that expense didn’t make the cut in our family budget), there’s no muscle memory to call on, either… just a dogged (yet graceful), determination on my part, to get my body to do what the instructor is demonstrating.
Working within my range of flexibility and experience is crucial! And I can honestly say, I’ve mastered the art of pushing myself, without overdoing it.
What I love most, is how training in ballet takes me out of my perfectionist tendencies and breaks up any potential rigidity of mindset. It forces me, in the most elegant way possible, to practice patience.
In some ways, ballet is an exercise in resilience. It requires consistency, hard work and commitment, in order to see improvement.
I may never be a prima ballerina (or the youngest, most flexible person in the room), but I can set individual goals— to become more flexible and to gradually improve my technique each day.
The more consistent I am, the more quickly I see progress… and progress is a beautiful thing!
While living in Austin, TX, I discovered the wonders of Ramen… the soul food of Japan. And the restaurant responsible for my ramen noodle re-education—Ramen Tatsu-ya.
The ramen noodle bowls served at Ramen Tatsu-ya are not to be confused with the ramen noodle packs of college survival years, complete with those sodium-loaded flavor packets.
Ramen Tatsu-ya noodles are tender, served in a rich, flavorful broth, and include several add-ins (marinated soft-boiled eggs, flash-fried Brussels sprouts, woodear mushrooms, soy braised pork belly, pickled ginger, etc.).
The line out the door, which goes relatively quickly, tells the tale of how awesome their ramen bowls are.
When I lived in Austin, they only had the North Austin restaurant (now they have one in South Austin on South Lamar). Since I lived in South Austin, I had to find ramen noodle bowls closer to home.
The Whole Foods on W. William Cannon fit the bill with their Ramen Station. Not quite the same as Ramen Tatsu-ya, but still delicious… and much closer.
Since moving to Knoxville, I haven’t found a restaurant that specializes in Ramen (though I’m looking forward to trying Anaba, a local Japanese restaurant that serves ramen noodle bowls).
I did, however, search online for homemade ramen noodle recipes, and found these:
Photo: Ali a la Mode
Photo: Blue Apron
I made the beef noodle ramen recipe on the left (substituting chicken for the beef, and adding chopped cilantro), and it was amazing! My family loved it too.
For a vegetarian ramen noodle bowl, substituting vegetable broth for the beef and chicken broth and using portabella mushrooms, instead of beef or chicken, would work nicely.
When I learned of the recent passing of music icon and creative genius, Prince, I was more devastated than I expected to be about the death of someone I’d never met.
Why did I feel this loss more profoundly than the recent passing of others I’ve admired?
I think the sudden and unexpected nature of his death contributed greatly to my shock at hearing the news.
If someone has a terminal illness (David Bowie), has struggled with substance abuse (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston), or is older (Maya Angelou), you may expect their passing… not so in this case.
Another reason for my deep mourning: realizing Prince’s music represents the soundtrack of my youth (and that a lot of the double entendre and innuendo went way over my head when I was younger!).
Prince represents uncompromising creativity and a steadfast refusal to be placed in any one artistic box.
Not only did Prince create music at a dizzying pace, he also brought others along for the ride—introducing us to a bevy of other artists and generously showcasing their talent.
As someone with music firmly sewn into the fabric of my soul, I have a deep appreciation for his extraordinary songwriting ability, his gifted mastery of the guitar (and ALL of the other instruments he played) and his transformative showmanship in live performances.
To me, Prince represents living out loud. I feel galvanized by his determination to push back against the expectations of others, and truly inspired by his dedication to artistic expression.
Also, I have a collection of instruments that I’m determined to teach myself to play, and I’m inspired and encouraged by Prince’s self-taught musicianship.
After hearing Purple Rain on repeat for the past few days, I was no longer content to just listen to the beautiful melodies… I wanted to teach myself to play it!
Having never picked up an electric guitar in my life, I knew I needed to start small and the Purple Rain outro seemed like a great starting point.
I’ll admit, I was quickly caught up in delusions of grandeur, as I envisioned myself learning Prince’s guitar solo as well.
All it took was watching a few Purple Rain Prince tributes on YouTube to realize that guitar solo was WAY out of my league! The phrase “walk before you run” comes to mind.
The skill level required to play that solo would take years, and I wanted to learn to play Purple Rain in hours, so I opted for a simpler goal.
Because I’m inpatient in my learning pursuits, I searched for easy beginner chords—nothing that required tricky finger placement or complicated barre chords.
After a day of practice, I’m proud to say I’ve learned to play Purple Rain well enough to feel good about my efforts! ☺
Singing along while playing would have stretched my capabilities to the max (and thrown off my rhythm), so I chose to play while humming the song instead.
Here’s my Purple Rain Prince tribute… imperfect, but inspired.
Helping to improve the health of babies at the Metro Knoxville March of Dimes 2016 Campaign Kickoff today.
Save the date for the 2016 March for Babies on Saturday, April 30th at the Knoxville Zoo! #marchofdimes #marchforbabies #marchforbabiesknox #walkonthewildside #WhyIWalkTN
I’ve always wanted to chronicle my natural hair journey from the start, complete with a well-edited YouTube video montage and beautiful background music.
Unfortunately, that would’ve taken more spare time than I ever seemed to have on hand, so I’ve opted to give a quick update instead (complete with pictures).
After the combination of chemical hair relaxers (which I used to straighten my hair), hair color treatments (to cover those grays) AND caramel-colored highlights (definitely pressed my luck with that decision), my hair became severely damaged and unhealthy.
I wanted once again, to have the healthy hair of my youth, before the chemical processes and subsequent hair damage.
So, I decided to “go natural” (chemical relaxer-free).
Another major reason for my decision: my daughter’s comment that she wanted her hair to be “straight like Mommy’s.”
Could it be my daughter didn’t realize my hair’s natural state was NOT straight?! More importantly, her comment told me she was lacking a full appreciation of her naturally thick, long, curly-coils.
It also revealed how much my daughter looked to me for her hair goals and inspiration.
It wasn’t enough to tell her how beautiful her hair was, or point out the bevy of ways in which she could wear her hair.
I would have to show her what it looked like to embrace her natural hair.
Seeing me wear my hair naturally curly/coily or in twists; in a twist-out (a wavy style obtained after removing the twists); or wearing it straight (by blowing it dry and heat styling), would be the best way for me to show her, rather than just tell her.
The plan was a success!
I’ve been chemical relaxer-free since October 2011, and transitioned until my big chop (cutting off the remaining relaxed/damaged hair) in May 2012.
In order to speed up my hair growth and return to hair health, I chose to limit heat-styling (the application of direct heat to my hair with blow drying, flat-ironing, etc.), to the three occasions my hair stylists thermally straightened my hair to trim my ends (November 2012 and May 2013 by the fabulous LaTashia Mitchell of Something Natural Hair Salon in Austin, TX and in January 2016, by my equally fabulous Knoxville, TN stylist, Tawanna Russell of Divine Touch Salon).
I’m happy to say, my hair is healthier than it’s been in a very long while.
This natural hair journey has been quite the experience, and I’ve learned so much along the way. So has my daughter, for that matter!
The most significant lessons have been the importance of planning, preparation and persistence… followed by learning to go with the flow!
Now, my daughter and I fully embrace the variety of textures and wide range of hairstyles we both can achieve!