Tuesday, January 31, 2017

AND the frenetic pace begins again...

*long suffering sigh*

Well, I had my first day of teaching for the spring semester yesterday. I think that overall I can sum it up in two words:

It sucked. 😱

I had student emails out the wazoo, excuses for not coming to class and confusion about other things, another Course Management System crisis that consumed my afternoon, and general administrative nightmares. There were English Teaching Assistants including incorrect information in their syllabi that was the cause of half the confusion, and general flurried activity amongst my team that had my anxiety in high gear.

BUT, that being said, there were a lot of positives during the day, and a lot of positives that I'm still looking forward to coming up this week. So let's focus on those. We have:

  • Support - I have tons of emotional support from my family and friends. I've been leaning on them a lot lately, and their warmth and words of wisdom have been invaluable.
  • The students - actually, the students were GREAT. The ones who came to class. ;-) But that was most of them! I had three really good classes yesterday.
  • Barre class - After my classes, I was able to go to the Barre fitness class here at the athletic center, and it was wonderful. Working out gives me an endorphin high that really gets me through the rest of the work day.
  • Catholic school - As I drove home yesterday, I passed the kids' school. It's Catholic Schools Week, and they're both all excited about the activities and special lunches that are planned out. I am so grateful that we are able to send them there.
  • Dinner with Mike and kids - Yesterday evening, we all went out for dinner, and despite some initial Anne surliness due to being overtired, everyone had a great time, and it ended up being incredibly relaxing and comforting.
  • Feast of St. Blaise is Friday - This, and the accompanying throat blessing, is one of my favorites of the entire year. Our parish is having a special Mass for it Thursday evening, and I'm planning to go. It's gotten me thinking about Lenten preparation, which REALLY brings out the Catholic Nerd in me.
  • Super Bowl- We're having friends over to watch with us, and the food planning process is providing a delightful distraction right now. 

So, I'm trying, I really am. I've been channeling the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales like there's no tomorrow, and I'm anxious to talk about him again tomorrow. Have you gotten chapter 2 done?! Post will be up tomorrow afternoon sometime. *heart*

Friday, January 27, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #81 - Dealing with dread...

A real uplifter ;-) for today's installment of:

Yes, I'm talking about dread, we all deal with it sometimes. BUT, we put a positive spin on things, in a real What Would St. Francis de Sales Do?! kind of style.

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
I very much need YOUR input this week! What do you do to stave away that negative feeling of anticipation, and/or to lift your spirits during a difficult day?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 1

Oooooo, welcome to chapter 1 of our winter/spring book club endeavor! I have to say, this is perfect timing for me to be posting about chapter 1. Here's why:

St. Francis de Sales's feast day was yesterday. I had finished the novena and was all aglow. I stopped off at Confession on my way home from work, and *in the confessional* the priest talked about St. Francis de Sales and his message. I mean, seriously. Like Barb tweeted to me last week, I feel like I'm being stalked by a saint. :0 There's a definite St. Francis de Sales vibe to our year, for sure. And let me tell you, I NEED IT. More on that later on in the post.

All right, so chapter 1. I thought the way we would do each chapter discussion is for me to provide a short general overview. Then I simply will pull out some passages that really resonated with me, and subsequently reflect on why those lines spoke to me. You can also comment on those passages, or others that resonated with you that I did not mention. Let's get started!

Chapter 1, "The Devout Life," is devoted to a brief biography of St. Francis de Sales, and one of his spiritual proteges, St. Jane de Chantal. Many years ago, I read Introduction to the Devout Life, so I knew that St. Francis's overall philosophy is that holiness is possible in all walks of life; specifically, he was referring to laypeople. That was somewhat unusual in St. Francis's time!

I also loved learning that youngster St. Francis excelled in a liberal arts curriculum at the university level, and took classes in such things as horsemanship, fencing and dancing. :0 A kindred dancing spirit! No wonder I like him so much.

Our first quote:

"...he came to understand that a devout life can be lived in and through our normal routines and responsibilities. But even there, or especially so, it became clear to him that 'Christian life required strategy. A Christian should live in  the world without being of the world, and to do this required art.'"

I just love this guy! I think we can all relate to having mundane things to do in our day. Things, frankly, that we do not feel like doing. These things though, are very much part of our quest to be devout.

"Put simply: living today well means fulfilling life's responsibilities, no matter what they are, in a way that strives for good in response to God's grace. We live this good life carefully when we do what we do with intentionality, rather than by accident or out of mere routine."

Insert a heart here. I LOVE this way of looking at our everyday lives. I have some intense stuff coming up at work, stuff that I really don't want to do. But thinking about this view of intentionality puts things into a much more positive perspective for me. 

St. Francis also loved preaching, and not always in the traditional sense. His printed pamphlets are the reason he is the patron of writers and journalists, and this really speaks to my Dominican heart!

"...do all through love, and nothing by force."

Additionally, I relate quite well to his thoughts on spiritual failures of the repeated variety:

"The key to growth in holiness, he would constantly teach, is always to begin again, to keep moving forward, confident that the good Lord will provide."

I could spend an entire dissertation just on this sentence alone. Confession anyone? I mean, ugh! I feel like I'm confessing the exact same things every time I go! Can I *never* do any better?! But the key is to keep trying.

In summary:

"Thus, to 'be who you are and be that well' means to recognize and respond to the moments of grace and the opportunities for charity that are presented to us each and every day."

Chapter 2, "Francis's Spiritual Directory" will present us with a guide to live these everyday moments well.

Reading this book has already helped me. I'm finding myself thinking before leaping to impatience or frustration, sort of a "What Would St. Francis Do?!" kind of scenario. ;-) And it's helping, it really is. Difficult things that have come up in the past week, at work and at home with the kids, I've been able to deal with in a much healthier way than in the past. I'm really hoping this continues.

What were the highlights of chapter 1 for *you*? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A day in the life, 2017 edition...

We have the first installment in our Live Today Well book club tomorrow, so I'm taking a break from intelligent and spiritual discourse to wax on about the Exercise In Patience that was my day yesterday. Because, let's face it, we all need to have this catharsis every once in awhile :0

6:30-8:00 am - Drag self out of bed. Make effort to look alive. Get kids off to school, both fully clothed, and remember to pack lunches and snacks. Victory is mine.

8-8:30 am - Drive in to work while both listening to a podcast AND praying a rosary. Pats self on back for ability to multi-task.

8:30-9:30 am - Frantically try to tick things off my to-do list before the dreaded first meeting of the day.

9:30-11:45 (!!!) am - Aforementioned meeting. So many souls released from purgatory. So many souls.

11:45-11:55 am - Frantically change for lunchtime Zumba class.

11:45 am -12 pm - Walk briskly to aforementioned Zumba class, stomach rumbling for lunch, but no time to eat for the weary.

12-1 pm - Zumba. Managed to stay upright for the entire class.

1-1:30 pm - Get back from Zumba and scarf down food at desk while working.

1:30 - 2 pm - Attend virtual meeting. Because there just aren't enough meetings in my life. 😱

2 - 4 pm - Frantically tick additional items off to-do list before leaving for home. Semester starts in 6 days. 😟

4:30 pm - Arrive home and re-acclimatize. Attire self in soft leggings and loud tunic top because I deserve it.

5 pm - Mike and I pull the leftover options out of the refrigerator for dinner, because God knows nobody feels like cooking.

5:01 pm - Children come into the kitchen, discover the leftovers, and begin to complain.

5:05 - 5:30 pm - Dinner, with 2 long suffering faces for the duration.

5:30-5:45 pm - Kitchen cleanup.

5:45 - 6 pm - Cuddle with Anne while she watches the same episode of Shimmer and Shine that we've all seen what feels like 40 dozen times.

"Two genies in a bottle...up in the starry skkkkkkyyyy!"

6:05 pm - Call Henry down to finish homework, since he proclaimed needing much assistance with Spanish and Religion. I am the official homework helper for both of those subjects, as well as ELA, while Mike tackles Math, Science and Social Studies.

6:06 pm - Henry unhappily appears, and things transpire as follows:

"Here's my Spanish worksheet. I don't understand this verb conjugation stuff."

"Oh I love verb conjugating! Gosh, I miss it... (and indeed anything mentally stimulating of late, but that's a topic for another day :0). Anyway, I'm rusty since I haven't done this since college. Let me see."

*examines sheet*

"All right, these are the basic forms you need to learn. You did some examples in class?"

"Yeah." *unhappy face* "But I can never remember them."

"Well, you'll get them. For all of them, you take off the -ar ending, and then apply the ending for that form. So with yo, you add an -o..."

*long verb explanation follows*

I want to check my memory for some of the forms to assure that I was guiding him correctly, since it's been approximately 20 years since I last conjugated a verb. Thus, I look one of them up while Henry works diligently away. I am distracted, because Henry is asking me questions while I do this, and so when Google asks me a bunch of (what I see as) inane questions, I punch answers in without really examining them. When I turn back to my phone screen, I see that Google Translate has been an eager beaver and translated my Spanish verb page into English. So.Not.Helpful.

While I fight with my phone, which is suddenly moving at the pace of glacial melt, Henry informs me that he also needs to define the verbs.

"Where's your Spanish dictionary?"

"My what?"

"Your dictionary. The Spanish one. So you can look up what these verbs mean."

*long pause*

"oooohhhhhhhhhhh! *That's* what that is for!"

The Tiffany inside of my head heaves a very long suffering sigh.

"Yes. That's why we got you one of those. Where is it?"

"At school."


"Henry. When you have a Spanish assignment, *always* bring the dictionary home, OK?"


"For now, you'll have to find an online Spanish dictionary, but I'm far too tired to turn on the computer. You'll have to use my phone."

I remembered what most of them meant, but I was trying to be all parental and make him look them up himself. Several minutes elapse.

"Why is your phone so slow?"

"I don't know, I think it has something to do with Google Translate." *nostrils flare*

15 excruciating minutes later, the Spanish worksheet is complete. Grand.

"Now I have to answer my religion questions. Do you have the story about Joseph in the Old Testament memorized, because that's what I have to write about and I don't remember all of what we read in school."

The Tiffany inside my head is getting exhausted from all of these deep heaving breaths.

"Go get your Bible, Henry. That's what it is for."

7 pm - Get a cranky Anne up to bed and read 3 books to her because I'm too tired to try and talk her out of at least one of them.

7:30 pm - Come downstairs and pour BIG glass of white wine. For rest of evening do nothing but knit, drink and chat with Mike and Henry. Head to bed by 9:30, depleted by the thought of starting all over again in the morning.

3 am - *small hacking sound emanates from Anne's room.*


Sometimes, I tell you, nothing seems to go right. But I'm here, alive, and as of this moment, not sick yet. *cries!*

Have you had similar stretches, dear reader? All commiseration desperately welcomed. *heart*

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #80 - Fun with new fitness routines!

Hi all! And welcome to our New Year's fitness edition of:

Today I talk Zumba, Body Pump (ouch!), and...spinning? In other words, trying new things in fitness as part of my New Year's resolution. Join me!

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
Do you have a fitness goal as part of your New Year's resolutions? Do you like gyms? I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Organizing our reading for this winter and spring!

I was just super thrilled with the response to yesterday's post about Live Today Well. We have a nice little group reading along together, and it warms my heart to see how this blog community has grown.


So today we're going to pick one of the options I laid out yesterday, and get ourselves organized! I'm a librarian, organization REALLY makes me happy. *beams*

If you go back and look at the comments, the consensus is clearly option (b), which is:

(b) We read 1 chapter per week of Live Today Well. We start next week, go all the way through winter Ordinary Time, and continue on into Lent and Easter. We will finish during the last week of April, about 2 weeks into the Easter season. Then we start To The Field of Stars. This timeline works out well for Fr. Roderick's pilgrimage (and he'll be podcasting the whole journey), as he's planning to embark during the Easter season.

This is the option I was leaning towards as well. Each chapter is about 10-12 pages. For a book we're looking to take our time with and really glean lots of useful information out of, I think that's an ideal pace. As well, when I'm reading non-fiction, I like to also have a fiction book going at the same time to balance things out, and this frees me up to still do that. Importantly, this is a perfect book for winter Ordinary Time AND Lent. I really think it's an ideal fit. By just after Divine Mercy Sunday, we'll be done and glowing!

So here is our schedule:

Chapter 1 "The Devout Life" - January 25th (Conversion of St. Paul!)
Chapter 2 "St. Francis's Spiritual Directory" - February 1st
Chapter 3 "On Rising: Starting Your Day Right" - February 8th
Chapter 4 "On the Day's Preparation: Looking to Be Holy" - February 15th
Chapter 5 "On the Direction of Intention: The Key to Spiritual Perfection" - February 22nd (Chair of St. Peter)
Chapter 6 "On Meals: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary" - March 1st (Ash Wednesday!)
Chapter 7 "On Work: and Taking Spiritual Repose" - March 8th
Chapter 8 "On Leisure: Interacting with Others" - March 15th
Chapter 9 "The Examen: Reviewing Our Daily Progress" - March 2nd
Chapter 10 "On Retiring: Practicing Detachment" - March 29th
Chapter 11 "Prayer: Communing with the Divine" - April 5th
Chapter 12 "Living the 'Little Virtues'" - April 12th (Wednesday of Holy Week)
Chapter 13 "Confession and the Grace of Reconciliation - April 19th (Easter Wednesday)
Chapter 14 "Mass and the Grace of Encounter" - April 26th
Conclusion and Wrap up "The Universal Call to Holiness" - May 3rd (feast of Sts. Philip and James)

Now, these dates are not fully set in stone. I am planning to do the posts on Wednesday, but if a day really gets out of hand, the post may be Thursday or Friday that week. I'll always let you know if things are looking that way! This is a guide for the weeks generally, with the goal of finishing the chapter and chatting about it on Wednesday. I'm really excited! And how appropriate that the Interacting with Others chapter falls during Lent. 🤣

There's still time to get the book and join in! Ready, Set...let's get reading!

*virtual high five!*

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Live Today Well, an introduction...

Yay, I'm here! Yesterday decidedly did NOT go as planned, and my blogging time slipped through my fingers like so many grains of sand. Today was better, though still a bit crazy, and that will be the reason that this post will go out much later than usual. Alas.

Today though I wanted to talk about our plans for Live Today Well: St. Francis de Sales's Simple Approach to Holiness. We had talked about making this an Ordinary Time project, and I made a graphic and got all fancy. ;-)

My book came, I excitedly stroked it, checked out the Table of Contents, flipped through it, and did all the happy things I usually do with new books. And I realized that this will take us longer to read than just during this winter Ordinary Time stretch leading up to Lent. We had also talked about doing a separate Lent read-along of a totally different book during that liturgical season. My plan is to read To the Field of Stars: A Pilgrim's Journey to Santiago de Compostela, as my favorite podcaster Fr. Roderick is going to be walking this very pilgrimage this spring. So, by my way of looking at things, we have a few options.

(a) We read 1 chapter per week of Live Today Well. We stick to an Ordinary Time schedule, and break it up between winter Ordinary Time, picking back up after Lent/Easter. During Lent, we would read To the Field of Stars.

(b) We read 1 chapter per week of Live Today Well. We start next week, go all the way through winter Ordinary Time, and continue on into Lent and Easter. We will finish during the last week of April, about 2 weeks into the Easter season. Then we start To The Field of Stars. This timeline works out well for Fr. Roderick's pilgrimage (and he'll be podcasting the whole journey), as he's planning to embark during the Easter season.

(c) We read 2 chapters per week of Live Today Well. We start next week, and take the next 7 weeks to do this, finishing up about 2 weeks into Lent. Then we start either To the Field of Stars, or some other spiritual book.

Thoughts? My inclination would be (b). I don't want to rush Live Today Well. It's not a heavy read, but it's jam packed with information I need right now in my life, and will need all semester. Taking until late April to finish it is very appealing to me, since it spans that full season of my life. I also don't want to break up the flow of our reading and discussions by taking a break from it for Lent. To the Field of Stars, now that I look at it closer (and I don't even know if any of you want to read that along with me, so let me know if you do!), would be a lovely Easter read and would then coincide with his trip to Santiago de Compostela.

I know a bunch of you bought Live Today Well and are planning to read along, so I would love to hear from each and every one of you how you would like to proceed!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #79 - St. Francis de Sales & keeping up the positivity...

Hi everyone! My spirits are high for this week's edition of:

Today I talk about our favorite January pal, St. Francis de Sales, and about how belly dancing has inspired my view on success in teaching. Yes, really. :0 That's why you come here right, for the eclectic mix?!

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:
 Are you joining in the St. Francis novena or Ordinary Time read-along? Would you be up for a Lenten book club? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Winter inspiration and planning mode...

Happy Wednesday everyone! This morning, I was thinking about how pleased I am (and unexpectedly so! :0) with how much response I got to my January piece for Catholic Mom:


I guess I wasn't prepared for how many people have a devotion to St. Francis de Sales! He's a very quiet guy in my mind, that St. Francis. He's not the OTHER St. Francis that everyone always talks about. This Francis's feast day is in January, when everyone is bemoaning how much they loathe this post-Christmas winter time of year, and I think he gets overlooked a lot. I found him because he is the patron saint of writers, and for the past few years I've prayed his novena in mid to late January. When I write for Catholic Mom, I tend to write pieces that are very tied to the seasons and/or liturgical calendar. Last year I wrote about the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, so this year I switched over to St. Francis de Sales, whose feast is January 26th.

A few things resulted from all of this. First, I did set up the page for the St. Francis de Sales novena, which starts this Sunday January 15th, so if you'd like to join in, please do! There is a link on the page to the daily prayer, and we can be praying in community! I have a group of friends set up to pray it, and it will be all warm and fuzzy. The other thing is that in the comment discussion, I found out about a book based upon St. Francis's writings and philosophy towards holiness. The book is this one:


...and I have to say, I got rather intrigued after reading the sample. I think this would be a very useful book for me during the semester crunch that proved so crippling to me in the fall. I'm thinking that this may provide excellent journaling fodder for us during this stretch of Ordinary Time before Lent. Indeed, we still have some time before Lent, as Ash Wednesday isn't until March 1st this year.

Thoughts? St. Francis de Sales had a very understandable, relatable vision of holiness for laypeople. I like his everyday occurrences view of how we can become happy and holy. Let's just say that after Barb alerted me to this book in the comments over at Catholic Mom, I innocently added it to my cart over at Amazon, and then by the end of the day, had checked out. :0 It's now winging its way to me, and will be here tomorrow.


Do you want to read along?! There is also a Kindle version available, so an instant download possibility. Right now, the book is $11.99 in print, or $9.99 for Kindle, over at Amazon. Take a look at the preview, and let me know your thoughts!

*Fun side note! If you would like a St. Francis de Sales rosary like mine, Allison currently has it listed in her Etsy shop, and use coupon code CATHOLICMOM for 10% off!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Anniversay trips and more New Year's resolutions...

Hello ALL! I'm back from from a weekend away with my super cute hubby, and so I'm in very good spirits. Our anniversary was yesterday (12 years! *heart*) and the past three years we've a weekend to go away by ourselves on a small road trip, without the kids. It's LOVELY. We really miss the kids, but the time together is invaluable. And my husband? STILL SO STINKIN' CUTE. In fact, I swear he's gotten *cuter* as he's aged.

Anniversary breakfast
I'm as in love with him as ever, and grateful to God everyday for bringing us together.

And so this weekend, as I dwelt in my contentedness, I was thinking about happiness and New Year's resolutions. I've been talking about New Year's resolutions a lot, but it's because I find them so valuable. I'm a tenacious sort of person - which is both good, and bad, trust me. ;-) Sometimes, I *should* let things go, and don't (many bad previous relationships come to mind), which has its own set of problems. But I find New Year's resolutions important because I tend to really want to stick to them, and thus I put a lot of thought into what I want to do better or differently each year. This year I have officially set my resolutions as:
  • Make wellness a priority in three realms: physical fitness, emotional/psychological, and spiritual.
  • Don't worry so much!
  • Try to be more amenable to change.
  • Be more positive about work.
Last year, one of my resolutions was to try new things in physical fitness, and that led to me signing up for the group fitness class pass here at work, and that has worked out MARVELOUSLY. I already have a winter fitness pass, and even attended Zumba today for the first time in awhile. 😇 Physical fitness really ties into healthy mental and emotional health for me as well. And as for spiritual realm, I started a rosary on the commute in, also for the first time in awhile. I realized that I don't need to put pressure on myself to finish the rosary each day, or I could even pray a chaplet instead if I was really feeling that, it's just important to keep up with daily prayer in some form. That made me feel a lot better.

Worry has been a lifelong battle for me, but hope springs eternal! And change? It's not always bad. Sometimes a new way of doing something may require an initial investment of time or skills that does not appeal to me, but the end result can be much more convenient or time-saving. I need to allow myself to try new things for different, more pleasing results sometimes. I really, really hope that I stick to this.

Besides that, I've been working quite hard to improve my spirits about my day job. So far so good, and after a fantastic team conversation, I'm feeling a lot more hopeful about our future teaching direction and load. Overall though, I need to cease the negative thoughts and complaints about how challenging it has been. It *has* been challenging (as in, major s*$!fest :0) but dwelling on that is not helping me. I'm going to focus on the positive changes we're making, and remain hopeful that things will be better. I'm also going to focus on the multitude of SUPER FUN things I have coming up this winter and spring: dance classes, performance and workshops, cute things with Mike and the kids, Lent and Easter approaching, enjoyable blogging and writing projects...in fact, I even have a *belly dance road trip* this spring. :0 That's some good blog fodder, right there!

In that vein, let's start thinking about collaborative projects here on the blog. Anybody up for a Lenten book club or read-along? If you have ideas for titles, please do leave them in the comments!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #78 - Holiday recap & New Year's resolutions...

I'm back! And It's a post-holiday edition of:

Today I talk Christmas festivities, New Year's lessons and resolutions, and the spiritual value of all!

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:

How are your New Year's resolutions coming along? Do you have any ideas for projects we could work on together this coming year? Such as a linkup or journaling project for Lent or Ordinary Time, something interactive for the podcast, or something else entirely? Do write in and let me know!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dancing into the new year...

Hi all! I'm rallying today to have a better work day. Yesterday...it was a pretty rough transition back. Especially after having such a smashing Christmas and New Year's holiday. Today though, I'm thinking positive, and super excited to chronicle my New Year's Eve dance adventure!

Soooooo...let's just say I was just a wee bit nervous about this one. :0 I've danced semi-professionally now for a few years, but those performances are few and far between. And of the times I've danced solo on such occasions, this was certainly the biggest gig of my career: at a restaurant, on New Year's Eve, for three solo 20 minute sets. That's quite a lot of dancing, right there, and at a (relatively speaking) fairly high profile, promoted holiday event by the restaurant.  It loomed overhead for all of December as I selected music for my set lists, put together my costume selections and accoutrements, bought new makeup and jewelry, and generally felt queasy about the whole shebang. I wasn't alone though - Claire was also dancing that night, and we were slated to tag team our sets over a 3-4 hour period.

We had a game plan: veil entrances for most sets. Claire had fan veils for one of hers. And each of our second sets would feature balancing - me with Sword, and her with a candle tray. I would dance first, then Claire, and during the other person's set we would each discreetly loiter at the bar in our coverup, to be there to pick up props when they needed discarding or otherwise troubleshoot any issues that may arise.

We arrived together at the restaurant at about 5 pm on New Year's Eve, each pulling ridiculously large suitcases behind us, plus hoisting our proppage. My stomach was a bit of jumpy wreck, if I'm keeping it real here. Sword had been threatened TO.WITHIN.AN.INCH.OF.HIS.LIFE to behave or else be carted off to the meal recycling center on New Year's Day. He and I had rehearsed our approach and balancing technique all month, so I was cautiously optimistic, but dancing with him is like dancing with a toddler. Just when you think you're in the clear: BOOM. They embarrass you in public.

We greeted the staff and were directed to a dressing area in the back. It was nice - we had our own restroom, and plenty of space. Only thing was there was no heat back there, with a jittery door to the outside along one wall, and so the temperature was approximately ARCTIC TUNDRA for the entire evening. We shivered back there as we unpacked our boatload of costume stuff and then scoped out the scene back in the restaurant proper: people in all 3 dining spaces. Grand. I planned to dance a song in each room (sorta; the one space is significantly smaller than the others, so I wasn't sure about the ideal way to handle that one), before moving on to the next, but I truly had no idea if that would work out, or how it was all going to go down. As well, between two of the spaces lay the buffet and the bar. So lots of traversing people and wait staff to dodge.

Closer to 6 pm, we went back to get changed. I was up first, and I was NERVOUS. I shook it off as best I could as I readied. I put on my pink top and belt set over a new black and silver skirt, and suddenly the pink belt was suspiciously loose. Costume belts are very versatile and economical (you can change out the skirt for a completely different look) but they are a pain in the you-know-where for this very reason. They never fit the same way twice, whether with the same skirt or a different one, and they have zero give. I adjusted it as well as I could, put on my coverup, and headed out bravely.

Sound problems abounded, and the music was way too low when first started, so we had to wait while they fixed that. Finally, I popped into the banquet room with my pink silk veil aloft. The crowd in there was *amazing*. Families with adorable little children, who were all attentive and enthusiastic. I danced for them happily for a spell, then moved out past the bar to the next small area. Things were pretty quiet and subdued there, so I moved up to the third, larger dining space. There was more room to move in up there, so I stayed for a bit, and the people there were super polite and engaged. Things were going swimmingly, and I was really getting into it, when my pink costume belt FELL OFF while I was shimmying.


When presented with this less-than-desirable situation, there is nothing to be done but to kick the belt away and keep dancing. :0 The belt is totally separate from your skirt, so no harm done, but it's not exactly the exotic, put-together look you're going for.


I had to dance that way for the rest of my INTERMINABLE song, wait staff and guests enthusiastically snapping pictures of me, oblivious to my non-cooperative belt. I was distracted, but I danced on with vigor, at one point 3/4 shimming backwards into an empty high chair, but given that I stayed upright and kept dancing, I call that a win! 😂 As soon as it was over, I sashayed over to Claire to fix the belt prior to my final drum solo of the set. We got it back on, and I drum soloed over for the small dining area, worried about my belt the whole time, but it stayed on.

Relief flowed through me to have the first set behind me. It had gone well, even with the minor belt debacle. I pulled my coverup on, and Claire nervously fiddled with her fan veils. She had ordered new ones, only to receive them and find out that they were the largest fan veils KNOWN.TO.MANKIND. These things were larger than my dining room table. And we didn't exactly have a lot of space in any given spot in the restaurant.

I started her music and she danced out. The fan veils did great, she managed to manipulate them into the space perfectly. We got lots of compliments at the bar about how the restaurant owners and guests were loving the dancing, so I felt happy and encouraged. Claire finished up, and we headed back to our dressing space. I related how relieved I felt to have the first set done.

"Me too. But I'm nervous about the balancing."

Oh gulp. I had forgotten about Sword.


We changed. I had another top and belt set to put on, but with a velvet skirt, which tends to hug the belts better, and indeed this belt fit fine and felt secure. I practiced with Sword a few times, and he did great and promised to be good, so out we trudged nervously with our props.

Once again, I was up first, and I nervously balanced Sword on my gloved arm while Claire got my music queued up. I brought him into the banquet room first, where my favorite families were still lingering, and they greeted me enthusiastically. I whirled him around a bit, and did general sword swirling stuff, before making my first balancing attempt of the night on my head. I will give credit where credit is due, and Sword did GREAT. I balanced him for a spell, took him off to travel to a different part of the room, and got him re-balanced like a champ. The room really appreciated my efforts, but I reluctantly had to leave them to move to the other dining spaces. Sword once again came through, balancing for me in both of the other rooms. By this point, I was more than halfway through the second song in the set, so I happily brought Sword over to the bar to give to Claire. I was waylaid. :0

As I glided over, an older man got up and wanted to dance with me. And Sword. 😎 Which presented a bit of a logistical difficulty, but I made it work. Having people get up and dance with me was totally new to my professional dancing repertoire, but I knew that it was something I was going to have to master. I navigated that, finally got over to Claire, and deposited Sword with her. After that, my set was a dream, with my all time favorite piece of music "New Baladi," included in my playlist, as well as a kickin' drum solo. Once I had the balancing behind me, I really relaxed, and just enjoyed the music. The dancing went really well, and the crowd, which had grown, was engaged. This makes for a happy belly dancer. People also stopped me to ask to take photos with me, which I found a pleasant distraction.

I finished set 2 a contented camper, and pulled my coverup on for Claire's set. She was nervously lighting her candles, and I projected as much positive energy her way as I could. Balancing a prop is always nerve wracking, but most especially when it can set fire to the building. :0

I watched her carefully as she started in the banquet room (no problem), and then made her way to the small dining space. While over there, I heard a gasp. The tray had slipped off her head, but she deftly caught it with one hand, and got it re-balanced within seconds. I SO want to be her when I grow up, she is the best.

She moved to the upper dining room and got Tray balanced with no trouble, but I could tell she was eager to be rid of her. :0 I took control of blowing out Tray's candles so that Claire could finish her set, and we moved back to the dressing room in relief. Sword was very smug the whole time - he has redeemed himself as a prop of choice for the most coveted of gigs I do.

For the third set, I was downright relaxed. I was wearing one of my favorite costumes (a top and skirt set, no belt woes!) and my playlist was awesome. I felt happy and confident as I started to dance. By this point, the banquet room had finally cleared out, so guests were all seated in the small and upper dining spaces. It was also much later in the evening, and they were now ordering drinks. Hence, the atmosphere was a bit more, we'll say - raucous. :0

Thought bubble over Tiffany's head:

"Please Lord, please let this liquid that I'm currently dancing in be water."


The crowd was loud and spirited, and for the first time in my dancing career, I asked a woman if she would like to dance with me. She was dancing around in her chair, so I figured she might be a willing candidate. ;-) She seemed horrified by the suggestion and declined, but I felt proud of myself for asking. It's definitely something that is expected during restaurant gigs, so I need to get used to it. As I danced up to the upper dining space, I was clued in to the fact that these people had been watching my efforts down below. Several jumped out of their chairs and came over to dance with me. Well then.

This was a first for me, and it was a lot to manage. I had two separate dancing groups going, and they each wanted me to show them what to do. There was clapping and happy hollering going on, which I took as a good sign. As the song was wrapping up, the music cut out.


I could see Claire struggling with the audio cable at the bar, so I thanked everyone and danced over to help her. We got it fixed, but by that point we figured it would be easier and more streamlined to just have her start her set, given that I only had a few minutes of music left on my playlist anyway. Claire danced away. The crowd was all ready to go, and she got lots of willing participants to dance with her as well. The third sets really ended on high notes, to be sure.

The owners of the restaurant and staff all wanted to take photos with us, and we happily obliged. They were very happy with how things went, and I'm hoping that they'll ask us to dance there again. They got a great turnout, and everyone really seemed to enjoy themselves. Including us!

As we packed up in our tundra ;-), I reflected that as nervous as I had been, things had gone so smashing that I was now sad it was over. In fact, I've been sad about it ever since, and have longed to leave my career as a librarian to be full time, professional belly dancer. :0 Maybe there's some sort of exotic castle that needs a full time dancer, and I can buy all these extravagant and beautiful costumes to dance in...

You'll notice I'm here today. At the library. Not in a castle nor shopping for $5,000 dance costumes. So I guess you're stuck with me. 😇

I had a grand New Year's Eve, and after my dancing adventure, I went home and had drinks with Mike. It was a lovely and memorable night.

How was your New Year's? Any resolutions to share? I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year everyone!

Well, I'm back, and I'm going to be honest: I'm having a brutally awful work day. But you know what? I'm not going to dwell on that. Because it's been like this, and it will continue to be like this, so why give it more power by talking about it? But I mention it because it's the reason why I have no time to blog or eat lunch today. :-\

I did have a magnificent vacation, and I have TONS to tell you. Look for a long dance-related post tomorrow relating to my New Years's Eve adventure (which I am SO excited for!) and I'll devote Tea Time this week to a post-holiday chat of all of the fun goings on. At left you'll see my children on our trip to the botanical gardens. You can see how thrilled Henry looks. ;-) A good time was had by all though, truly!

My New Year's resolution this year is to be more positive about things that are challenging to be positive about. And to once again make wellness a priority. That may mean accepting change much easier than I normally accept change. We'll see how this all works out, but this is my current direction as we embark on 2017.

How about you? Do you have any New Year's resolutions? I'd love to hear them, and I can't wait to talk to you tomorrow!