Documenting My Work

Happy belated 4th of July! I spent this weekend with family in Tennessee and accomplished several things I’ve been working on recently: I made good progress on my 5th book of the summer, I finished choreographing more routines for next year, finished an application essay for a weekend program at a college, and I finally got all of the spring showcase routines I choreographed onto youtube!

So now I can finally upload and thus document my work on my blog (The last 5 I am in! And I know one of them has a different background, that’s because I don’t have a recording of the routine done at this meet but it’s the same routine and I still only just got it on youtube recently.):



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While this isn’t from today, this actually is a picture of me and my middle and top. (I’m the one holding the other two.) Acro rocks!

It’s acro camp week at Jump Start!!!!! I may not be great at gymnastics anymore, but I’ve loved learning acrobatics these past, as I recently discovered, about 5 years almost now.

I love having one of my groups advance over months of work so that we can increase our difficulty and work on new harder skills. But I also enjoy occasionally working in new groups or pairs, which is what acro camp week is all about!

I like working in new teams sometimes because I love seeing how different people  work together. Every person on the planet is unique in their own way and has a different personality with different talents to bring to a team. Therefore there are an infinite number of combinations of people that can create a team, and every single team will be a little different.

I think my fascination with how different people work together is my individualization strength showing; I’m pretty good at seeing the different talents of others and pairing people based on who might make a good team based on their different skill sets. I think this strength helps me also with creating choreography that’s specific to each girl for gymnastics, and for acro and group routines makes sure each girl looks good alone and as a group.

Ever since taking the Gallup’s Strength Finder quiz for ID I’ve been very intrigued by how I, and others, keep noticing our strengths showing in various aspects of our daily lives.

Performance Bonanza

Level 4 and up group routine to “We Built This City” ending pose. (video of full routine coming soon)


This past week was endless. All of last week I was working like crazy to prepare over 50 kids for various routines to perform at our spring showcase yesterday. Then Saturday was crunch time, trying to get in last minute practices, but only up until one of the girls had her Bat Mitzvah. And if you’ve ever been to a Bat Mitzvah then you would know they last all night long… Then Sunday was the big day and I was at the gym working for 12 hours straight, but it was worth it to see all of the smiling faces of kids and impressed parents.

I always say the most exciting part of a show is what happens backstage, but it’s typically not viewed as entertaining until after the show is over. I’m glad the audience mostly though everything ran smoothly because in the back room it was crazy. There were girls changing leos and getting hair done while some people were stretching and warming up skills. Then there were last minute order changes in the program. And what was most stressful was that I had to change all 4 of the huge routines about 20-1 minute before each show because so many people just didn’t show up… I had to re-block two routines slightly, teach a level 4 boy a routine to fill in for someone, and I even ended up having to be in one routine because I was the only other person that knew it and could do the acro skill with a girl.

Level 4 and 5 team pose.

However, thankfully everything went still went surprisingly well and I was so proud of all of the girls. I even had a couple people say they were close to tears during some of the routines because the choreography was so good, which of course made me want to do a little happy dance!

I’m sure there were some mistakes, and I know there were more last minute “oops” moments, but the show must go on and I was very happy with all of the team and acro kids.

Then today my acro tops started asking “what are we going to do now in acro; are we going level 9?” We aren’t ready for level 9 yet, and I told them how we still need to work on improving and advancing our level 8 skills first. However, we did start working on learning new skills today which everyone was excited for. It made me think about how in school it’s also the end of the year, but in school if you repeat a level that’s like taboo even if you are

Hot Shots (ages 4-6 soon to be on team) final pose after their group routine to “Little Bitty Pretty One.”
working on more advanced skills. Furthermore, in school there isn’t the same excitement about it being summer time and that meaning you get to work on a bunch of new skills and try different things than normal.

I wonder how we can bring the excitement of getting to learning something new back into school.


The Hump

imgres.jpgI don’t really understand the expression “moving in circles.” More often I feel like I’m moving in infinity loops. It seems like I’m being productive and making new choices to try and move forward, but in actuality I’m just moving infinitely many times in the same constant cycle.

The last couple of weeks have kind of felt like this. In ID, in theater, in acro, even with class work a little. It has been feeling like not much has positively changed. I wouldn’t say things are bad, but they are just annoyingly constant. I’m a person who enjoys being busy and working fast, and moving quickly to do seemingly impossible things. I get frustrated when it feels like I’ve been spending too long doing virtually the same thing, and yet that’s how things feel lately.

With my acro routines, my theater performance, and my team’s work trying to make the next level prototype of the RISE bin, with all of these things I’ve been working hard to make them better for the past few weeks. However, as much effort as our team has been putting into them, we just can’t seem to get over the hump. We still haven’t done an acro routine with out falling for my hardest group and we perform next week. We still haven’t done a full run through of Shrek (or had everyone off book, or had everyone show up, let alone still working in new props, tech, and costumes), and we perform next week. And after months working on a full sized next level prototype, we still are getting stuck with materials and number crunching with ReSpIn, and we have a presentation/performance/showcase/iFest next week as well!

Everything is next week, and going into next week I currently am a tad worried. Typically everything seems to work out in the end, and the show must go on despite how ready or not we feel, but that hasn’t been easing my thoughts.

We still have a long way to go and little time, and I wonder how in the world we can get over the various humps in our lives.


Passion Work Retreat


I’ve been on hiatus for the past week from blogging, but now that break is almost officially over though, it is time for me to start getting things back in gear. I hadn’t planned to be on hiatus, but I have a rule where I don’t blog if it would mean leaving family/friend time unnecessarily and with it being Thanksgiving break, things got busy.

However, by no means did I stop thinking. It was quite the opposite actually, there were many occasions where someone would say “Anya stop thinking,” but I’m not very good at that. It can be a problem sometimes actually. A problem I have not yet been able to solve for.

In fact sitting next to me at this very moment is my notebook flipped open to the page with notes from our Google Hangout with Grant Lichtman and notes about my AP Lang portfolio that I have been working on putting together, at least 40 notecards most of which have sentences describing one of my past blog posts, a passion board with sticky notes and a sharpie for both iVenture and AP Lang work (in truth it is the beginnings of these becoming more closely into 1 related topic), a white board calendar with all of the dates I need to keep in mind, and another white board with all of the big things I need to get done and what my hopeful schedule for today was in order to work on them.

But alas, this all makes me sound like I was much more productive this week than I truly feel I was. I mean I didn’t even blog. I didn’t go through my list of things to do. I did work some on all of the above as well as coaching gymnastics camp, finishing the choreographing for 2 acro routines, memorizing theater lines, looking and taking notes on a bunch of potential colleges, and studying a little for the SAT which I take this coming weekend. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if did more than most students this week, but it still doesn’t feel like enough knowing how much time I also spent just looking up random stuff online and watching gymnastics videos and Netflix and playing games.

Does it ever? Does it ever feel like enough?

Kat and I were texting earlier about how we both don’t feel like we got as much done as we intended on getting done this week. It seems that all we look forward to is having a little time because that’s when “we’ll get to work on the stuff we want to be doing.” The problem is that we are so busy the rest of the time that when a little time comes our way what we “want to be doing” become simply relaxing. Which isn’t nor should it be a bad thing. We all need time to reboot and “stop thinking” for a little sometimes. The hard part is finding the “free time” to use as “work time,” and being around others that are still in “reboot mode” doesn’t make it easy.

While Kat and I were texting (actually I ended up having a similar conversation with a few others as well, it was kind of on my mind a lot today), I brought up the concept of a writers retreat. Ironically this thought came to me because of a TV show I had been getting caught up in this week. Authors, trying to write a book typically, will sometimes go on a retreat for an extended amount of time in order to clear their mind of other distractions and just write. Then write some more. Then keep writing because they have that time!

Sometimes I wish I could go on a similar retreat. Not just for writing but just to have time dedicated for working, but for passion work. Ideally it would be great if it could be my school for a week. Because truthfully, it’s really hard to spend what would be break time with family trying to work all of the time. The whole reason we have breaks is so that we can reboot and have some family time without worrying about work so much. School is work time, so what if we just changed what that work was; not to mention make it for a longer period of time just in a new location.

Sometimes I’ll say I need to go do work and my family will react with “What work didn’t you do already that’s due tomorrow?” Then I have to explain how it isn’t actually due in the typical school sense which is why I haven’t finished it, because passion work can’t really be fully finished, but it does need to be worked on.

Finding time for passion work when that passion work isn’t yet your “work” work is really difficult. So sometimes I wish I could just go on a passion work retreat to dedicate a large amount of time to the work that isn’t “due” but is important and needs time without interruptions and distractions (many of which I cause myself when I go into “break” mode).

I think it would even be okay for a few people to on this retreat with me as long as they too were in “passion work mode” because then we could hold each other responsible and get feedback from each other even while on retreat.

Anyway break is over tomorrow and thus work begins. With midterms only two weeks away plus all of the big events I have coming up, things are about to get crazy and I think I’ll need some rest.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Impossible Timing


Today was the last day of acro camp and it was pretty successful!! We had a little over 10 people in camp, and they were all people that actually pre signed up for acro camp (rather than us having people from normal camp join us)!!! This was a big deal for us, because it’s been hard to get more people interested in acro because most people in Georgia have never heard of it.

Because we had so many people today, we decided to have some fun and try doing a big group routine which we had decided earlier in the week to scratch. However, if we were going to do this routine, we had to do it all today.

So in under 30 minutes I choreographed a routine. Then in about an hour I taught everyone the routine and we recorded it the first time we did it all the way through.

I’m still a little mind blown that we actually pulled it off even to the extent we did. I mean most of these girls have been doing acro for a couple of days at most, not to mention i don’t know how much experience with learning dances they have, and we did it in an hour. Plus I don’t think I’ve ever made a big routine like this so quickly.

Sometimes having a small window of time, and  really intense focus on one specific thing can really help to make the impossible possible.


Hide and Seek


Summer seems to go by so fast sometimes, and yet it has still barley begun.

Tonight is the last time my entire family will be together for a little over a month because we will all be off at various camps. My brother, sister, and mom are leaving tomorrow morning for a gymnastics sleep away camp in Tennessee so today we had to run a bunch of errands before they leave.

If you’ve ever heard of the “song that never ends” well today was the “trip that never ends”. We kept being very unsuccessful everywhere and then would have to go to yet another store in order to finally finish getting through our list after a little over 5 hours. The list wasn’t even that long!!!

While running errands I saw some people from Mount Vernon and started talking to them about their summer. It was especially funny because the first thing they said to me was, “It seems like you’ve been at school a lot since summer started based on social media at least.” And they were so right.

I feel like how a person spends their summer can say a lot about them. What do you care enough about that you choose to spend your “free time” away from school working on it? Well for me, apparently that thing is more school. I mean in a week I’ll be off to camp for 3 weeks at another school, and this time it’s a college: Duke East. Then at the end of the summer I’ll be at Yale for 3 weeks.

Besides my various Nerd Camps for this summer, I’ll also be traveling to visit family and friends in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York which is always fun! Some of my friends and I, that I will see while in West Virginia for my family reunion, have decided that we are going to play a Disney medley duet at the talent show which I’m excited about! Plus for the first year ever we are having a specific acro/group dance camp, as well as a Drama camp at Jump Start that I’m also super excited about! (I’ve even already started choreographing the dance.) Then I will come back just in time for a few soccer practices before the school year starts back up. Not to mention we are officially moving in July to our new house!! Plus while I am in town I’ve already had a ton of fun times hanging out with my other friends that are still in town.

It’s funny, I hadn’t quite thought about it before but my summer describes me so well: work (primarily for school and most of which I enjoy), travel, family, friends, music, acro (and the gym), and soccer.

Summer isn’t like school, there aren’t teachers constantly around watching over you and making sure you get certain things done. Summer is a time of choices. It’s your time to go out and seek whatever you want. There is only a finite amount of time between school years and you have to choose how you want to spend that time. What matters enough to fit into the schedule?

It’s what you do when no one’s looking that often says the most about you.


Living History

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The Renaissance Festival was so much fun today!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Oh and the house we will hopefully be moving into also was pretty nice!)

I love the Renaissance Festival because we get to dress up in costumes and just have a fun time exploring all of the cool items from that time period. I love the clothes, art, food, games, and shows that they have at the festival and I really love seeing so many enthusiastic people there! There was even an acro show and my coach and I think we could totally get some of those skills they did! I really don’t know what it is about the Renaissance (and medieval times too)  but it has always been my favorite time period.

Maybe it is because I grew up hearing fairy tales about popular ideas from then (everyone loves to tell stories about dragons and fairies right?). Or maybe it is because  I’ve been going to the festival since before I really even started to learn about the Renaissance in school, so when we did start to learn about it, I already felt excited due to my excitement at the festival. Maybe it’s just because the Renaissance is one of those few times in history class where the primary focus is on the happy stuff that happened rather than stuff about wars and conflict.

What’s your favorite time period to study? Why?


Preparing for a Show


Well I’m currently prepping for my next big show which is our gymnastics meet this weekend. I have 4 different routines I’ve had to prepare for this weekend: 2 level 8 acro pair routines, a trio level 7 acro routine, and the big group routine I made for the entire team to do.

Today was a little stressful because I had to rework almost the entire team because people didn’t show up today for the mandatory practice and because there is a lot of partner work, that meant I had to change things around again.

This routine has gone through a lot of different versions, but I think it may finally be ready to show and I’m so excited! Last year at this meet I choreographed a group routine to “Let it Go” (from Frozen if you have somehow managed to not hear this song yet). That was my first time creating and coaching a routine so massive and it was really fun! That’s why this year I made 2 new ones (one for the younger girls to “Kung Fu Fighting” and one for the older girls with acro at the end to “Feel Alive”).

This year’s routine was much more stressful, but that’s just because it is a little more intricate and if it gets pulled off, then it should look even cooler than last year!

The more stressful the practice is, then the greater the excitement is if the show turns out right!


Plan, Practice, Preform


Today was really nice. I felt oddly focused and calm all morning which happens every now and then where I’m just abnormally quite compared to normal. Then by the time the end of the day came we had FUSE15 flight school and I was wide awake!!!

For the first week in June this year, MVPS is hosting a big design thinking conference that is going to be helping 4 non profit organizations. We are having primarily educators from around the country coming in for FUSE15 and it should be awesome! We are also, for the first year, having a group of teachers and students be the coaches during the conference. I’m really excited to be a coach and today was nice because we were working with our organization teams for the first time and started our discovery phase to learn more about our user.

Then I went straight to acro after that great, quick meeting for FUSE15. I only had 45 minutes of time for acro tonight, but my partner and I finally finished learning our new routine so that we can be ready to preform 2 routines at our spring in house meet at Jump Start. We are the first pair we’ve had to get all the way to level 8 with two complete routines which is super exciting! (Well a few of the skills are still a little rough, but we have done them all before even if not consistently.) When we do preform, in a few weeks, it will be the first time we have done these new routines and I really hope they go well because I think the more advanced we get, the more people with think acro is cool and want to join too! (Well that’s the hope at least.)

Then to close the night off I participated in the first ever “The Cup” show at MVPS which was basically a talent show for the high school. It wasn’t the best organized as far as pre planning and practice, but that is expected with a first time for anything especially when it is organized completely by students because they have less experience. However, it ended up being really good and a lot of fun. Way more people than anyone expected ended up coming which made some people a little nervous, but even the few that felt bad because they messed up a little, pulled it off really well and no one noticed.

I’ve said before that the high school should have a talent show and I’m really glad we did because we have some talented students at MVPS. I hope this tradition continues and I can’t wait to see how it grows; I’d love to see some more unusual acts in the future.

I did a mime for the show tonight and it went really well especially since I had never done a big performance of one of the mimes I know before today. A lot of people said they really enjoyed it and a few said it brought them to tears even; it’s always great to hear that you really affected your audience because that is how you know you put on a good performance. 🙂

Over all it was just a good day of planning, practicing, and preforming.