America Needs Therapy: the importance of connecting with those different from us, fight the fear and listen to one another.

A few things need to be said before reading this: this is an analysis of the root of the behavior we are seeing right now. It’s obvious but i will make it clear just in case someone misinterpret this post: white supremacy is evil and there is absolutely zero excuse for it. Same goes for bigotry,  racism and any kind of hatred. We, however, spend so much time stating these obvious facts and hating without trying to understand how anyone actually get to this point.

Isolation is dangerous. Not being exposed to what differs from us ends up making us intolerant, ignorant and self righteous. It is a normal human tendency to want to be close to those who have similar views or tastes as us. Have you ever heard anyone say “I’d really like to find someone who believes the opposite of what I believe and hate everything I stand for.”? Ok. I made my point. Does sticking to those who are like us make us grow or teach anything though? No. It brings us comfort and happiness. It validates us. Let me repeat that. It validates us. We function better in tribes. We all, at a certain level, belong to a tribe. We thrive in it. We feel safe. Wandering outside is risky. It can be risky in two ways: it can alienate you from your peers and potentially lead to personal difficulties, depression, etc especially if you don’t quickly find a new group you identify with. It might not always be easy, however. Breaking the mold can be hard and getting another group to welcome you arms open is not easy as it sounds. 
Conservatives, white supremacists, progressives all have A definition and explanation of why they think the way they think right in their names. Conservatives like to conserve, stick to an old idea and refuse to see that life, people, and circumstances change everyday. White supremacists believe that their tribe and their tribe only is pure and supreme and that everyone else is bad and out to get them. These types of thinking are rooted in, not only fear, but also complete isolation within their own tribe and lack of exposure to the outside and other tribes. Therefore, fear and isolation are linked.

Let’s start with fear.  Comfort is everything. When you belong somewhere, you are happy, rewarded each day. Why on earth would you want to experience anything else?  A white supremacist is convinced that his race is superior. He’s been told over and over again that anyone who is not white is less than, not intelligent, dirty, trying to contaminate them to eventually exterminate them. So imagine being raised this way, being only exposed to the type of news or books that promote that ideology. You wouldn’t know any better and would never want to wander out to try to find out if it’s true or not. Of course not all white supremacists were brought up in the ideology. Certainly,  there is a group of plain angry, uneducated people who decided to blame all their problems on everyone else and declared that the only way to be free and have what they think they are entitled to is to eradicate anyone who is not pure. Those might have left a pretty good tribe for a worse one just because they couldn’t deal with the consequences of their action and inaction and were looking for a scapegoat rather than looking in the mirror.

Let’s tackle how isolation works in the particular case of bigoted people, racist or white supremacist. Those of us who live on either coast or big metropolitan cities are very much exposed to all types of people on a daily basis.  Whether people like it or not, if you live in Los Angeles or New York city,  you will be exposed to someone who looks or speaks differently. Being exposed to diversity makes us more tolerant. The more you’re around something, or someone, the more you are ok with it. It’s like food for a little kid. Research has shown that parents shouldn’t just give up if their child refused to earn a particular food and to instead reintroduce it as many times as possible, up to 15 times. So pretty much, if you don’t like something,  don’t give up, give it a chance, eventually,  you’ll forget you disliked it in the first place. 

Now, imagine being in a small town in a red state. You’re no longer in LA or NYC. Everyone is white. Everyone pretty much believes the same thing and they all take pride and comfort in those beliefs. Confederate flags on the front porch is a normal thing. Most of the people in town are or were miners. They dont have the same lifestyle or desires as me for example. But to them, this is the life they know. Anything outside of that is foreign, scary or repulsive even. So as much as we resent them,  we have to put ourselves in their shoes in order to come up with a way to fix it. It’s very difficult. It took me decades to be able to say, ok, let’s try to see where these bigots come from (not literally).

So how do we lessen their fears? How do we make them less isolated so that they are more open to listening to anyone else but fox news?

The answer is not simple but I truly believe the fighting must stop. You turn on the TV and journalists, journalists for goodness sake, or commentators from both side are arguing and ripping each other apart. All this does is temporarily make us feel better but at the end of the day, nothing has changed, peace is a million miles away and even a bit further.

What needs to happen is for the 2 sides, the 2 tribes to come together.

Remember Dance with Wolves,  how  2 sides completely foreign from one another, slowly got to know each other. Yes, ok, it ends in a massacre but, for arguments’sake, the entire movie shows 2 people trying to communicate and understand each other. I’m not saying it’s easy. Having a conversation with a racist is very difficult and it is going to be 1 step forward, 3 steps back for a long time. It’s going to take every high school in the country to welcome more international students, it’s going to take cities and communities encourage townhalls where people can freely express their fears. It’s going to take a damn good mediator. And of course, it’s going to take more history classes, better history classes, mandatory trips to museums. It’s going to take a lot out of each and everyone of us. 

Denouncing bigotry, hatred, white supremacy is always a must. Protecting lives come first and if you are physically attacked, I believe you have the right to defend yourself but generally speaking America needs therapy.  People get caught up in rhetoric and forget to look into the other person’s eyes and heart. We need to share our stories and connect. Yes, we need to connect with the enemy. As hard as it can be, the fighting has to stop, the olive branch must be extended, we must learn to agree to disagree and at least cohabitate. The truth is, the L.A. born and raised 25 years old doesn’t understand how the West Virginian son of a miner live and vice versa. Ignorance and lack of connection creates hatred. Ignorance is bliss only for those living in it. Unfortunately,  it often takes for the more educated to take the higher road and lead the way. It’s up to each and everyone of us. Like Michelle Obama says, when they go low, we go high. We no longer have diplomacy in the White House, and we can’t seem to count on our Congress to do the right thing but we can try to bring back decency in every American community.


Quick Sunday reflection on this week’s news 

​Sometimes, I can’t help but ask myself,  “how the hell did we get here?” This is Not the America I love and respect. I’ve always been fascinated by American politics and had high hopes for our country after we elected Barack Obama.  I, however, think electing him just woke up racism. Well, let me rephrase that, racism has always been alive but during the Obama terms, it was in the limelight.  So we made progress by electing a Black President but it also became our curse and prevented us to have our first female president.  What this tells us is that our country wasn’t ready to face the music. We haven’t healed our wounds from the past. America needs therapy.  Big time. Before we can have a Black, Asian, Gay, or woman president,  our country needs to undoubtedly, not just accept minorities, but welcome them.  Into their homes.  In their local governments. In their churches.  Work has to be done to show the bigots that minorities are not harmful but an asset to our society.  They have blood running through their veins like everyone else . They hurt like everyone else. They grieve or laugh like everyone else. They’re pursuing happiness like everyone else. 
Social media, the news, politics have been dividing us. I’m guilty of it too. We have to be honest with one another. Maybe what we need is a big blackout. A swap. Something to force us to see the good in one another, because honestly,  I’m not sure what else would fix this mess. Even if Trump is impeached or whatever, it’ll only anger his followers more. 
Enjoy your Sunday my peeps, hug your loved ones close.

Silver lining, a glimpse of hope in finding refuge in our community.

It has been a little over a week since an antiquated electoral college system made a madman President-elect of the most powerful nation in the world. We have gone through all but one stage of grief. There has been tears, grief, anger, protest but no acceptance. How can we accept as our leader someone who has enticed so much hatred? We have gone too far as a nation, as a people, to simply resign ourselves to four years of bigotry, racism, misogyny and intolerance or to put it bluntly, fascism.

In the last 8 days, we have heard of countless accounts of hate crime, violence towards women, people being targeted in places where they are supposed to feel safe, a French restaurant in Brooklyn, a bus, a college campus. For anyone to think that this is just a coincidence is purely delusional. These attacks are a direct consequence of months of Mr Trump directly encouraging his supporters to target certain groups of people, either by his rhetoric or by openly ordering them to do so. There hasn’t been one place where the election results was not a topic.  Medical offices had to put up signs in their waiting rooms reading “Please refrain from talking about politics as this is a place of healing”, people have randomly approached strangers and started conversations. I witnessed a man at a gas station passionately talking to drivers about a potential civil war breaking out on our beautiful land. Facebook and Instagram friends have deleted one another after decades of friendship when suddenly bigotry showed up on feeds the day after the election. To say the least, the mood of our country has been very low.

Ironically enough though, after the initial tears and shock, this outcome has brought a lot of hope and as much as it seems to have us pulled apart, it seems to have brought some of us closer together. Many have turned to social media to voice their opinion and to find comfort in the commonality. For some, it has been the only thing keeping us from depression and despair. Our desire to fight for what is just keeps us from falling apart. In a way, war has the same effect. In times of conflict, our survival mode is instinctive. We tend to work together against one common enemy. Unfortunately for us, our common enemy is our future leader and his bigoted followers. It is indeed worrisome, but we must find refuge in the fact that more people actually voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. She did win the popular vote. What we need to fight is the system, not so much each other. I personally think it is completely acceptable tjusticeo distance ourselves from those who support Trump. I tend to think that this time is too crucial to engage in arguments. People have spoken and if they have decided to support him, there is simply nothing I can say at this point that will change their mind. His supporters just had a huge victory and it is as if they were high, nothing will get through to them. They are simply too elated. We, however, cannot rest. We must prepare, organize, and create enough momentum so that our country fight the possibility of becoming an autocracy.

Thankfully, I have witnessed a lot of peaceful actions from liberals. There has been very little violence compared to what Trump supporters have done. Instead of punching, shoving, insulting people or threatening to burn someone alive because of their beliefs, faith, race or sexual orientation, we have stood up tall and marched together hand in hand to demand change. To me, the most inspiring event happening right now is the protest against the Dakota Pipeline (DAPL). Native Americans have shown us that is possible to protest peacefully and gracefully. They have proved to us, over and over that violence is not the answer and that there is strength in numbers, love, and prayers. I happen to believe that as the NO DAPL movement becomes more mainstream, it is becoming the poster child of peaceful protest. It has inspired so many and, in fact, is now even more important than ever. Our environment is at risk. People, including myself, are terrified of the consequences a Trump presidency will have on our planet.

It is clear to me that the majority of Americans believe in climate change and want a positive, healthy future for their children and generations to come.  It is in our DNA to want to succeed and be happy. Right now, we are feeling threatened by this one man and his posse who have stirred the pot of bigotry and ignorance but it has finally awakened us from our deep sleep of avoidance. We have been forced out of our comfort zone and in a way it is good. We have been energized. Every day that goes by, I feel stronger and come to appreciate things that really matter more. There is so much superficiality in our materialistic world and times like these help us center and focus on the most raw aspects of life. Happiness, peacefulness, respect,humility and integrity are all that seem to essentially matter right now. We are fighting for our rights to live without unjust rules imposed by a few.

My teenager and I often discuss reasons why we are here. Passing on knowledge and wisdom through whatever skills we have is the main one. Helping one another is obviously crucial to our survival and common happiness. There is absolutely nothing more rewarding in this world than carrying each other like Bono would sing in his 1997 U2 song entitled “One”.  Those who do not believe this are simply too distracted by all the shiny things around them! They’ve lost touch with the most basic concept there is. Our world is based on competition too much. Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to beat someone at something, or make more money, or have more than someone else. No one ever competes for less, when in reality, we should strive to have less so we can give more of what really matters, our heart.

I sincerely believe that this time, right now, is the beginning of us focusing more on the heart and less on stuff or status. I have seen so much unity in the midst of all the ugliness. What this election did is just bring everything to the surface. It has always been there. Trump is just the monster who woke it all up. But, remember, every fairy tale or myth has a hero who manages to destroy the monster. A hero usually has a pretty big posse too. I’ve seen or heard about a lot of heroes this week. Students are standing up for their immigrant, gay, black , and Muslim friends, or simply for their peers being attacked for speaking against bigotry. Strangers have taken a stand for those who were unfairly targeted. I think it’s time to shoot a new episode of that What Would You Do? show because I am pretty sure the results would be different. People are awake. They will stand for what is right. No more hiding. No more fear. And at night, or on our lunch break, we can turn to social media and see that we are not alone in this fight. We are ONE and we carry each other. Against HATE.


Trump presidency: why we can’t get over it and what we can do.

Like half the country, I have been sad and worried about the outcome of Tuesday’s election. I have also been very busy and wished I could have put pen to paper earlier.

In this essay, I will address a few different things. First, I want to talk about why it is important to act and not get over it like many Trump voters are trying to encourage us to do. I will also discuss President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s reaction to Trump becoming president-elect. But mostly, I want to address the urgency Americans face to organize, reject hate and protect our neighbors from retaliation against their race, sexual orientation, religion or color.

No, we cannot move on, get over it. Trump voters’ claim is that conservatives did not take the streets when President Barack Obama was elected and therefore, we should do the same and accept the outcome. The flaw in this thinking is that these two men could not have more opposite views, and characters. When George W Bush won, many of us were sad and disappointed but we didn’t protest. We did indeed respect the voting process. Even today, most of us respect the voice of the American people even though Trump did not win the electoral vote (just like Bush), we must accept the outcome because it is how the system work. We must work hard to get rid of the electoral college system but today is not the time. We have to follow a process and change the law. What we do not accept is Trump’s hate. What we cannot get over is the anger, the hate, the bigotry, the misogyny, the racism is has enticed. That’s what we need to protest. Just 2 days after the election and there has already been countless reports of hate, from kids verbally assaulting other kids in schools, to white supremacist marching in parades. Muslims, gays, immigrants , people with disability, women, all have been attacked. Kids, Teenagers are terrified that they’re friends or family will be deported. This is just the beginning. Now that Trump has been elected, it is bound to get worse everyday. Friends, who were quiet this whole election, are now coming out and openly post racist posts on social media. Trump has given every bigot and intolerant person in this country a voice. He has given them a pass to act on their feelings, no matter how ethically wrong or illegal they may be. THIS is what we cannot ignore. THIS is why we cannot get over it.

Hillary Clinton and President Obama have a duty to work with Donald Trump. The president must ensure a smooth transition of power. This country’s future and health depends on it. We do not want to fall into another recession or worse. Think of all the hard work the President has achieved in last 8 years. He got us out of the recession Bush left us. He cannot risk things falling apart so he must work with Trump. He must guide him and the more he works with him, the more likely Trump will succeed and even change his views on some issues. Now, I know, we shouldn’t hold our breath but I am trying to address the frustration some people have had towards our President or Secretary Clinton, feeling they gave up too easily. They didn’t give up. They are looking out for us.

It is OUR job to organize and come up with a plan.


The first thing we need to do is to report everything we witness. Through social media, we must continue to show every hate crime or bullying that happens around us. We must expose why Trump is bad for America. We are all reporters.

The second thing is to remain peaceful and not use violence. Much like NODAPL water protectors. Much like Martin Luther King, we must be willing to fight but peacefully. We must be willing to risk getting arrested but peacefully. We must show that they are abusing their power or spreading hate. Don’t make us look bad, expose THEM. Expose the anti LGBT people. Expose racists. Expose those who target Muslims. Expose those who bully immigrants children. EXPOSE. EXPOSE. EXPOSE. Use Hastags, send photos and videos to your local and national news. Send them to progressive newspapers. You see something, you report it. Because this is a form of national terrorism.

The third thing is to organize. Join every progressive, anti hate group you identify with on Twitter, Facebook, join mailing lists, etc. You need to make sure you stay up to date about what is being done by organizations that already exist. You can google the ACLU for example and join it. You can volunteer. Feeling useful is a great way to fight this awful feeling we are experiencing right now. There is strength in number.

If you are a student under 18 years old, start a club at your school, like Students against Hate and make it grow. Educate each other and discuss issues and go out do what you can but safely. You have social media on your side. In my days, we had student union organizations but we did everything by phone or word of mouth, we didn’t have the tools you guys have these days. It’s much easier to organize and gather these days. Plan on walking out and protest on Inauguration day. Don’t be afraid. Just do it peacefully.

You can also write letters to your local representatives. That’s what they do. They REPRESENT you. Even though we do not have control of either houses, we still have representatives there and they can and will be heard. But we need to hold them accountable.

Support organizations that fight for issues that Donald Trump will try to eradicate. Some of these issues are the environment ( Trump will not follow through with Paris agreement, he thinks global warming is a hoax), Planned Parenthood funding, Women’s right to choose, Immigration reforms (Donald Trump wants to make it illegal for Muslims to enter the country and wants to kick out mostly Latinos), and many more. We need to be activists. This will not be easy and it will get tiring but we need to spend the next 4 years signing petitions, making donations to the right organization, show up at rallies, etc.

I’m planning on creating a list of organizations and people to follow on social media but already you should all go make sure you follow Bernie Sanders, Michael Moore and Dan Rather.

Finally I’d like to address Donald Trump and his lies. Already he is planning on giving a seat at the table to lobbyists in his administration. Remember Trump got where he is by lying, scamming and cheating them and the system. He is NOT looking out for the average American. So we need to be very cautious. Sadly, too often, these kinds of people win before they are brought to justice. It takes courage and persistence to expose who they really are so take heart and do not give up. Find a good support system. We are stronger together. Remember, MLK walk to the bridge. It only worked because they were together, peaceful and because white people woke up and joined them. They became stronger and things changed. This is a pivotal moment in history. We do not want to repeat the bad history. We cannot go back to fascism. We must stop this now before it is too late. Go ask anyone who lived during WWII.

More later.


Halloween candy alternative for health conscious parents

Trick and treating is fun and a huge part of our culture but it doesn’t mean we have to give our kids poison and/or our money to big corporations. 

It’s easy to switch out candy your kids get while trick or treating. Tell your kids you need to inspect the candy and replace it with any of the approved candy. If/when they can question you, ne honest and explain why you feel you can provide better candy that will be as yummy.
Here’s a list of better choices, note that I personally still don’t eat some of those because they still have ingredients I personally don’t eat but they are far better choices than full of  artificial ingredients candy.

My favorite snicker alternative is OCHO organic candy. You can now find it at Ralph’s, Whole Foods and I’m sure other places. They come in caramel peanut, mocha, peanut butter ( Reese’s alternative) and coconut.They sell smaller size too on their website at

Anything by LAKE CHAMPLAIN. Ok, they’re expensive but Lake Champlain makes Halloween wrapped candy and you can also buy their mini bars. The peanut butter one is better than any Reese’s.

AMY’S KITCHEN makes candy!! They’re gluten free, vegan and some nut free think they’re good Nestlé crunch substitute. My favorite is the rice crisps, almond,caramel chocolate bar but it also comes in these flavors:

English toffee with almonds in dark chocolate 

Whippee cream center layered with caramel and covered with chocolate.

Soft caramel with pecans covered in chocolate 

Creamy nougat with caramel pecans, walnuts,and cashews covered in chocolate 

Coconut and roasted almonds covered in dark chocolate 

Chocolate creamy nougat covered in dark chocolate 

UNREAL candy is a great alternative to  m&ms. They’re so good, you won’t tell the difference and you won’t be hyper from artificial food coloring. 

CHOCOLOVE XOXOX has these awesome “movie theater candy size ” milk chocolate covered honey roasted peanuts I love. They are perfect for Halloween. They also have almonds and regular size chocolate bars that come in so many flavors. Chocolove chocolate is socially responsible certified.

YUM EARTH LOLLIPOPS are a great alternative to full of artificial food coloring lollipops. They come in big bags so they’re perfect for Halloween.

ANNIE’S makes a lot if fun size Halloween candy like gummy bears, etc.

SUNSPIRE makes pocket size milk chocolate drops that can replace chocolate m&ms.

There are a ton more out there so I will update but also check out this website where you can get candy corn anda bunch of other halloween specific candy 

My take on the world of ballet education.

It has been a while. I know. A lot has happened since I was here. Part of the problem is that I didn’t have a computer for a year. Being poor is not always easy. But this will be discussed later on.

Writing can really be an outlet for so much. It can be healing in so many ways. It is sad our kids these days don’t write anymore. I started writing really young. I would make up stories and even act some of them out with my dolls! Something happened to me which prompted me to come back here. Instead of being upset and angry, I figured, writing would be the best way to cope and if at the same time I could inform people, the better.

What I would like to address today is the world of ballet education.  As parents, we always want to tell our kids to do what they love, pursue their passion, follow their dreams and that if they work hard, they’ll make it. Mostly, it is true. But what no one wants to admit is how damn hard it is going to be to compete with those who are privileged. No one is admitting that no matter how hard you work, in America, the rich always get richer, the poor always struggle and you have to be a strong, 10 times better person to endure what it will take to make it.

If you’re offended by this, read on.  I’m not trying to blame you for being privilege or rich. I just want people to understand they are lucky and cannot ever understand what poor people go through to get where they want to be, if they even do manage to succeed indeed. The American dream is harsh. It’s a beautiful word, Utopian almost but reality is cruel.

My daughter was not the typical little girl who always wanted to become a dancer and who wore pink tutus all the time. She was never really into princesses and ballerinas. She liked horses. She liked books. But, she did like to dance. She started with Jazz. She had fun, going to class once a week. That’s all we could afford but it was enough. A couple of years later, she was told she had to start taking ballet which made completely sense. If she wanted to keep dancing, she needed the foundation. So, we added ballet. She fell in love with ballet. Suddenly, the girl, who you would never have picked to be a ballerina, wanted to be a professional ballerina. She didn’t care for the outfits and the bling, etc. She liked the discipline. She craved the hard work. After being told by a studio owner that she would be too talk to make it in the ballet world, she asked me to switch studio. That’s when we moved to a pre-professional ballet studio (the one before was more of a competition studio, a la dance moms show). There, she started taking more classes, 4 a week. She started doing more pointe. Slowly, I learned all the ballet lingo and what YAGP was, etc ( YAGP by the way stands for Youth American Grand Prix, if you’re curious go watch First Position on Netflix) That’s also when I started realizing that no one really makes it professionally unless they have money or are gifted like Misty Copeland and will be given opportunities because, well, they’re that good.

Another thing I started noticing was how studios only seem to pay attention ( real attention) to kids who have been there since they were in diapers. I know, I am exaggerating, although the idea of a baby in diaper doing fouettes is kind of amusing right now. In all seriousness though, if your kid has been at the same studio since they were in pre-ballet, most likely, they will get more attention, more respect, will be in better roles and be more pampered. If you are a new kid, well, get used to being in the background. Get used to only hanging out with whoever the new kid will be because the girls who have been there since birth won’t socialize with you. That is the truth. We’ve been to many studios and this observation never fails. No one likes the new kid. It’s the same everywhere isn’t it though? At work, at school, in society. Everything in this world is a reflection of how integrated we are as a society.
Even when we tried to ask for same opportunities ( i.e.doing YAGP ) as the girls who had been there forever we were given lame fake excused like, “oh you’re too young” ( even though younger girls who had been there for years were doing it).

But this leads me to another issue. Money. Even if you were allowed to participate in YAGP, you’d have to prepare for it. YAGP is a competition where a dancer presents a solo in classical ballet and contemporary if she or he wishes as well. In order to prepare for that solo, you need to get privates so you can learn the variation and perfect it. YAGP usually is in winter time, usually January or February depending on which city your audition is. Dancers start getting privates for YAGP in August or September and usually do not stop until the day of the competition. Now, let me break this down for you: depending on which studio you go to, privates will be between $75 and $150 an hour. They usually have one hour a week per solo. Most dancers do one classical and one contemporary. That comes to almost $300 a week just for privates. Add on top of that the tution you pay for classes (which if you are full-time pre professional is between $550 the cheapest to $800 a month or more). Ok. Now add to that shoes. On average, a pair of pointe shoes last 6 classes but most girls make them last longer. They have their ways. A pair of pointe shoes cost between $65 to $120 depending on the brand you get. But it’s not like you can just get the cheapest one. It has to be good for your feet. My dancer wore a $65 pair for 2 years but then realized she was getting bunions because of the shoe so now we spend $120 for one brand and $100 for another and alternate. So, did you have your calculator out this whole time? No. Ok, let me do the math for you. If your child wants to attend a pre professional ballet school that trains you well which requires you to come 4 to 5 times a week minimum, and she is on pointe and she wants to participate in YAGP ( and trust me, everyone wants to because it is exposure and a chance to win scholarship), you’ll end up spending about $2200 a month. You read right, average $1000 a month for classes, shoes and attire, accessories, gas to take your kid there, and if you have a kid who does 2 solos, privates can add up to $1200 a month. Sometimes, you will find studios that offer scholarships. They are rare but they do exist. Of course, scholarships are competitive. I’d love to share which studios I know help out families but I decided when I started this post that I would not name any studios. This blog is not about rating studios. It is a general opinion of the world of ballet education. My daughter was lucky enough to get scholarships twice from 2 good studios in our town. While it didn’t help with everything, it was a start and it is what enabled her to keep fighting for her dance future all these years.
Scholarships for summer intensive are extremely hard to get. After all, companies are in it to make money. We had teachers flat out tell us where NOT to go because of the reputation of the program. Some are really just taking advantage of their big famous name. One company that I will not name only offered 3 hours of training a day and charged an orrendous amount for their program. Most good summer programs will give you an intense training of at least 6hours a day. My daughter attended one where she trained for 8 hours 5 days a week and 4 on Saturday. Again, as a parent, you have to center your child and turn down the volume of the pressure talks. It’s more important to get the correct training than going to a big name intensive and get lost in the process and make yourself bankrupt.

All of this sounds pretty intimidating right? I certainly wish someone had warned me about all this when my daughter was 9 and decided she wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. But we learned as we went. I knew nothing about YAGP but then suddenly because everyone was doing it, we thought we had to do it in order to have a chance in this world. We were depressed when we couldn’t. I felt like a loser mother who couldn’t afford my kid to do something that would advance her and give her the same opportunities everyone else (or rather those with big wallets) had. Not doing YAGP alienates you even more because, everyone is doing it. Dancers show off about how many rehearsals they have and parade around their costumes. Teachers spend hours giving privates, often starting regular class LATE because they’re finishing up with the ones preparing for YAGP.

For about 3 years I felt like a loser for not being able to afford privates. I kept thinking, maybe next year, maybe your senior year. And one day, it stopped. It was a combination of my daughter not even caring anymore and me hearing moms telling me how the whole YAGP competition was rigged. They literally had stories about parents slipping hush hush “notes” to the judges and certain studios being favored. You’ll also once in a while bump into a successful dancer who had never done YAGP and we’d be reminded that things get blown out of proportion. You could put something terrible in the spotlight, hire a good marketing team, and everyone’d want it. Right? Do I need to give examples? I don’t think so. Not even thinking about doing YAGP just made things more bearable for me. But I must say, I give a lot of credit to my kid who has the amazing ability to brush things off. Trust me, if took years of practice and tears. But these experiences, the “no you can’t do this or that” speeches because she was too tall or didn’t have enough money, just made her stronger. Her attitude now is to show up in class, work her ass off, leave and ignore the noise around. It doesn’t mean things don’t get to her. She just handles it differently.

She’s had to practice that during Nutcracker time too. AH! Nutcracker! Oh you’ve heard of the Nutcracker mania. Every theater in town plays it around Christmas time. It can be a very magical show. If you attend a good studio, Nutcracker is a very elaborate production which requires months of preparation. The end result is magnificent. Be prepared, however, to have no life during the months leading to the magical nights. The first problem is the expense. Yes. You have to pay for it. You will have to pay the fee to participate, possibly a costume fee, then you will be asked to buy 10 to 15 tickets regardless of whether you can resell it or not. Most studios will also require parents to volunteer or you can pay a very high fee if you can afford to not volunteer. It’s a very thought-out thing. You can tell that most studios have done this for years and know how to justify their cost. They also know that parents have a hard time saying no to little Suzy who dreams to be a mouse or whatever role she will get (although there is no guarantee of what role you’ll get of course). So when you add up, depending on which studio you attend, you could be stuck with spending $2000 just to participate. Ok. So now, let’s move on to rehearsals and “tech” week ( the week of the show, you rehearse at the theater). Nutcracker rehearsals usually, at a minimum, will take up all your weekends from September to December. Forget about Thanksgiving vacation. Forget about birthday parties, soccer games, etc. Have fun juggling siblings’ commitments. Tech rehearsals are another problem because they are long, yet necessary. There is no doubt about it. If you are a good studio, you will make sure everything is perfect, and that means, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Remember, the studio pays the theater for the space so they usually ask cast members to arrive fairly early so they can get as much done as possible. The issue with this, however, is that most young dancers have school and missing school is not always a luxury for parents. Some schools are less forgiving than others. Younger kids might not be as worried as a high school junior or senior to miss a class. Then, there is the problem of getting to the theater. Some parents HAVE to work and cannot leave early to pick up their kid and transport them to rehearsals. Some parents CANNOT afford nannies or butler or car services or those not so safe apps.

So imagine all of this combined, the cost, the time, the stress, the school being missed, the transportation, the loss of income if you have no one to help you get your kid to rehearsal…. well you are out of luck.

Even if you are a hard working parent, when you are dealing with studio owners, they are so focused on their production that they completely lose empathy, if they even had it in the first place. They claim they understand but they can’t even make an exception for your kid who  can never  do what others do (YAGP, etc) to arrive late to a rehearsal so that her mom can make a living. The truth is that privilege and wealthy people who do not know what struggle is and won’t walk in your shoes only want to help their kind. It’s to their advantage. The ones at the top need to stay there. They can’t have “those guys” jeopardizing them ruling the world. Think about it, with the amount of wealth in this world (owned by only a handful of people) don’t you think we could have solved extreme starvation and poverty by now? There is no benefit for them to help the little guy. They claim they don’t want to give preferential treatment but in reality they give each other special treatment every single day.

This reminds me of another time when a teacher yelled at me and my kid for calling to let her know we were running late to a competition because I had gotten sick. But who cares about someone’s health right? The ONLY thing that matter is the competition.

Guess what? NO. Nothing matters more than someone’s well being, health and financial security. Nothing is worth jeopardizing someone’s grades when they count on full scholarship to even be able to attend college.

See, the problem with the world of ballet or competitive dance is that everyone seems to forget that kids started dancing because they loved it. They were not stressed about anything. Most likely, they started dancing in their living room or bedroom, at a family function on grandpa’s feet. Then fast forward a few years later, mom or dad takes them to a pre ballet or tap class and they laugh and have so much fun wearing tutus (if your kid is into that) and make noises with their happy feet. But slowly it becomes a competition in one way or another. It becomes a challenge. It becomes work. These kids turn into adults fighting for a job, sometimes being nasty to one another. The parents turn evil or because of peer pressure end up bankrupting themselves or lose focus and think their kid HAS to do what everyone else does. Less fortunate parents might become depressed because they can’t provide for their most precious offspring. Some dancers end up quitting ballet because they don’t love it anymore or because they do not like the politics of it. Who could blame them? Some end up turning into a different style of dance. Some make themselves sick, take drugs, start drinking, have body image problems, weight issues. THIS is a reality that no one talks about. This is hush hush. You might say, well this is the sacrifice to become a Prima ballerina but does it have to be this way? Why does getting anywhere have to be a nasty process. What happened to work hard but having pride, joy and compassion in the process?
We know dancers who work themselves so hard they have absolutely no balance. They live unhealthy lifestyles, drink coffee to stay up until 2 in the morning to finish a writing assignement due the next day at school. They are prone to injuries. No one can sustain this unhealthy lifestyle. Depression, lack of confidence, you name it, this world can create it. It takes a good support system, guidance and role models to have your head on your shoulder. There are, thankfully, programs that will help your dancer remain focus. Many art centers have education programs and offer seminars or free classes. You have to know where to look.

Awareness is very important in every aspect of our society. Every subcategory in our lives need to be looked at carefully and analyzed. Then, we need to talk about what we can do to change things and hold people responsible accountable. We do NOT have to accept these “NORMS”. No kid should be denied possible success and happiness in whatever he or she chooses just because he or she comes from a lower income family who works harder than anyone to provide food, shelter and security.

Society as a whole lets ITSELF down. We do not gain anything by bringing the same people or the same kids of the same rich families up to the top. Nothing improves or inspires by just letting the rich get richer and the privileged always getting ahead. Imagine a world where every kid had the same opportunities, where every child was given the same ballet training no matter how much money their parents had? For one thing, you’d see a lot more diversity. Things would start looking different. But here’s the root of the problem: no one wants that. Ballet is for skinny white girls. Yes, I know how it sounds and I think you all I know I disagree with this but that is what those on top believe and they want to keep it that way. That’s why some companies won’t even consider you unless you are a certain height or weight. It’s not a secret. It’s a catch 22. Of course, things are slowly changing but emphasis on slowly. Some companies welcome tall dancers or people of color but it’s not usually a melting pot, it’s more like segregation. But ok, it’s a step in the right direction. Like in history, eventually it will come to an end and blended companies will be accepted….I hope.

So, I am telling you. As with everything, what makes things change is your voice. Speaking up and exposing the unfairness and nastiness of anything is what creates or speeds upchange. So if you are a mom or dad with a kid in the ballet world and you are unhappy with the things you see and hear, speak up and get together with other who feel the same way. And in the meantime, protect your child and find other outlets. Your child’s health and mental well-being is more important than any grief you will experience. If you need recommendation, feel free to ask me. I’ve been there. I’m lucky because my dancer found ways to work around all of this and still be happy but I know it is not always easy.

Sound off.






The 2011 French movie Intouchables, The Intouchables in English is probably one of the best movies I have seen in many years.

I had this movie sitting on my Netflix instant list for quite a while and finally got to it last night. I can honestly say that I felt a bit stupid once I finished watching it. I have a tendency to beat myself up when I realize how long it took me to watch a great movie.

Intouchables is a heartwarming movie. It is real, honest and funny. Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy had such great chemistry. Anne Le Ny’s character was such a crucial one as her opinion changed in the course of the movie. While she is never overwhelmingly outspoken about how she feels about Driss, she is a great representation of what the average middle or upper class person think of Driss’ character.

The movie is great to me because it shows the judgments, it shows how they can be accurate at first but it also shows how they are only accurate because of how we perpetuate them. The scene with Phillipe and his lawyer is so crucial in setting the tone of the movie. So is the opening scene of course which is pure brilliance.

Maybe the reason I love this movie so much is because of how it shows people’s growth and change. It teaches by example, not by telling or reprimanding. The progression of Driss behavior is so well played. The more he spends time with Phillipe, the more he calms down, the more he feels respected and the less he falls back to his bad habits. The scene when Driss asks the man in the car to move his vehicle is the finale in Driss maturity and growth journey. If you watched the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

The openness the Phillipe has from the get go comes from his hidden despair, his desire to be seen for what he still is and never lost. When Driss walks in, he sees his opportunity to be without being judged. He is able to understand Driss and even dismissing his negative actions.

Phillipe and Driss need each other more than they even realize. They embark in a lifesaving adventure. They both become who they want to be by teaching each other without ever realizing they are doing so.

If you are a hope, faith oriented person who believes in the power of human touch, you need to watch this movie. It will inspire you, put you at ease and make you smile. It might also make you look at people who are different from you in a whole different way.


She is just one of us

Sometimes, smart people do really stupid things; beautiful people, ugly things; respectable people, offensive things. So many names come to mind, people whom we loved and made mistakes or caught us by surprise by doing something we thought they would never do.

There are 2 groups of people: those we idolized or love and out of nowhere shock us, and the ones who we know are really smart and we love and hate at the same time. We usually are not too shocked when they do something stupid. We expect it from them.

Let me give you a few examples. There are a lot of people we look up to, or enjoy watching on TV, listening to, but then one day, they do something stupid and suddenly it changes our whole view on them. Think Paula Deen. Think Lance Armstrong, Think Bill Clinton, Think, oh you know. I am sure you have your own list. Yes Miley Cyrus falls in this category, at least for young people and parents who thought she was a good example, and then suddenly went and did something so shocking….more on that later.

But first, let’s address the other category, the ones who really are smart, but do really stupid things because by trying to make a point (usually a good one) they are portrayed as monsters. Often, they are just misunderstood. Kanye West to me is the perfect example. If you listen to the man, he is actually extremely smart. He only wants harmony, peace and help people. He also does incredibly stupid things. I personally like the guy and like to hear him talk. I am very much like him. I sometimes let my frustration take over. Kanye West has gotten himself into a lot of trouble for things which, if you think about it, are not so wrong or untrue. Kanye lacks tact. I sometimes do too. I speak my mind and sometimes need to bite my tongue.

There were many men and women in history who were loved and hated at the same time. They were at first judged, only to be respected later when people realized what their message was.

There is nothing worse than seeing good people do stupid things because they might have lost their chance to do some real good. Look at Weiner, he screwed up a very promising career because of his indiscretion. I personally don’t care. I am one to believe that this just reminds us that these people are human. They make mistake like we all do.

No one is perfect. Yes, that includes you. You know you’ve done something stupid once. If you haven’t, maybe you should try it.

We’re all a bit judgmental of one another. Why? Because we are human and in a way we have a sense of superiority. We are social beings and we judge. I think jealousy plays a big part too.

This brings me to our dear Miley. Poor Miley, well, sort of. She is talented. Her songs are not any worse than a lot of pop songs playing on the radio these days. I believe she would have been a lot more respected if she had sang her songs but illustrated them differently. She took it a bit too far, but that is HER rebellion. I guess, even if we don’t like it, it is her life, her decision and in the end, she will be the one dealing with the consequences. She will be the one who will need to explain to her kids why she felt it was ok to expose herself to the world the way she did. It will be her regrets if she has any. 10 years from now, we won’t care about her VMA performance or her wrecking ball video. Who really cares about how shocking Madonna or Lady Gaga were in their videos?

Miley is just one of us, going through life. Yes she is in the public eye and she is using that to really get back at an industry who honestly probably took advantage of her and robbed her of a normal childhood in the first place. So in a way, who are we to judge (me including)? Michael Jackson, who is one of my favorite artists of all time, has done some PRE TTY weird stuff too. His ball grabbing was bothering me a lot when I was a kid. A LOT. But having a little compassion and understanding his life made me accept him and all his weirdness. I even felt empathy.

We all do things that are not always good or right or appropriate even. We all make mistakes and grow in our own weird way and at our own pace.

To be honest, I think that as spectators, we are awfully critical. Again. Guilty here too.

Everyone talks about how they hate the Kardashians. But honestly, who cares? First of all, their dad was famous before they were, they were thrown into the public eyes many years ago, before the sex tape. Then they had an opportunity and seized it maybe. Whatever. I don’t see how they are to be hated any more than other Hollywood celebrities. Why can’t we, “normal” people, just drop the judgment? Why do we have to resent people because they are successful? Ok yes, I agree if someone has gained success by stealing, then it is wrong. So why aren’t we more upset at CEOs, Cheney, Oil companies, Walmart more? They rob us more than the Kardashian. They do more evil. Pharmaceutical companies have worse agendas. So quit your jealous whining about so and so.

So ok, we can express our opinion. Miley Cyrus VMA performance and her new video are bad taste but let’s remember that she is human and if you don’t want your kids exposed to that, don’t let them watch it but also take the opportunity to teach your kid, and yourself, that she is human and makes choices, good, or bad. She is just a kid who is learning how to live in this world, like we all do everyday. Some of us have it figured out, some of us don’t. Some of us MIGHT THINK we have it figured out, only to wake up a decade from now to realize we are lost. There are no definite right or wrong way to live OUR lives. It is a journey. We do what we can.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some positive back. Instead of focusing on what is wrong about someone, why not try hard to find the positive aspects?

You want to know what made me want to write this post? Well, obviously, I watched that Wrecking Ball video because I wanted to see what the fuss was about (kids were talking about it and I needed to be aware). I found the song to be pretty good and the video could have been brilliant and powerful, even keeping the wrecking ball, etc. After the initial shock and disgust, I started reflecting and felt bad about the whole thing. It prompted me to realize how one small decision can change everything. Take out the self touching, nudity and hammer licking, a new approach and it could have been a more meaningful artful video.

Oh well. Maybe next time Miley. I mean in 10 or 20 years. We will forgive you. We understand. We really do.




Everything is ok

Today is my birthday. I started the day feeling down, for so many reasons: an old friend of mine picked My Birthday to bring up some things that were hurtful, I am all alone today since I have been jobless since Monday. I went to get a massage that turned out terrible. I did get a gift certificate though in case I wanted to ever come back. Trying to make my day a good one didn’t seem to work so I headed home.

See, I was really trying to not feel sorry for myself and do something for me, like all my close friends and relative always tell me I should do. I always put everyone else first and usually don’t like wasting money on myself. Then when I do, it doesn’t seem to work. But this time, I didn’t give up. I called up a different massage place, got an appointment and finally got the massage I deserved and needed.  I walked home, feeling content and decided to write a post.

I have been gone for so long and have truly missed writing, one of my passions. I will soon go back to writing about random things, health, politics, and other things, you, my dear readers love but for now, I need to express and share a bit of me and my “wisdom”.

Since Monday, I have been worried about how I was going to provide for my family now that I was jobless. I have many moments of ” freaking out, OH MY GOG what am I gonna do, how am I gonna pay for this and that”. But I also have to be honest and admit that I have had many moments of liberation. Monday night, in the shower, I felt like I had just been released from prison, or as if I was alive again.

Having someone repress you everyday is the worst thing a human being can go through. Not being able to be yourself is a shame and a tragedy. At the end of the day, you are more than your paycheck, you are more than your commute and how much stuff you buy, how often you travel, what you do for the holiday. Deep down, you are YOU, a fertilized egg who grew slowly and was influenced negatively or positively by those who raised you. But really, you are just a peaceful piece of nature, or miracle and more than anything you owe it to yourself and nature/God to live your life, the way you want it and to be happy.

I am tired of explaining who I am to those who do not get me. I am tired of trying to please everyone. And so what if people don’t like me….does it mean I am less than they are? No. I am still this little piece of nature. I was obviously meant to be here. So good riddance bad jobs, good riddance bad people or bad friends. I don’t owe you anything. I owe myself more. I owe Nature more. I owe my child more.

The purpose of this blog was always to support those who do not feel like they belong……(fill in the blank). This is for the beautiful souls who are talented and intelligent and those who want peace and love and understanding around them and are shut down by the others who tell them they are not being realistic. Who are they to decide what we can and cannot do? What we should and should not do?

I am tired of trying to fit in and having to explain myself (I know I am repeating myself).

Everything is ok. I am warm. Everything around me is calm right now. I am listening to Debussy. There is a lot to do and think about and figure out but for now, right now. Everything is ok.

Remember, if you feel like you do not fit in, it just means you are around the wrong people and you have yet to find those who are like minded. Send out a message to that world. Maybe they will come to you.