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Hi there! My name is Saumirah McWoodson, and I’m the founder and CEO of Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, and I’m also a dance education researcher and business consultant at DanceEdStartup.com. And I’m the host of The Happy Dance Podcast where we talk about all things related to dance, education, and cultivating a life of happiness. So, let’s dance!
Hey guys. Welcome to The Happy Dance Podcast Episode #7. My name is Saumirah McWoodson, and I am your host. Okay, so first of all, I want to jump right into telling you why I’m doing a happy dance today, and today I’m doing a happy dance because it is officially my summer break. So I should say that I’m used to having summer breaks because I’ve worked professionally as a classroom teacher for about six years now, and when I was not working as a classroom teacher, I was still working at schools in the summer and so I got used to the campus being a little bit different or I got used to students not filling up the hallways, so just not as many students being on campus during the summers, or I worked at summer camps. That sort of thing. So personally and professionally, just in all of my life, I have always had a summer break. I was explaining that to someone at my brunch, the other day, they were asking about–I’ve actually gotten asked about this a couple of times recently–how it felt now that I’m just focusing most of my day and my waking hours on, well, of course, being a full-time dog mom, but also growing my business, and I told both of these people, I was like, “Well, it’s not that different for me because I’m used to kind of doing whatever I want in the summer anyway.” And so yeah, if I haven’t just been kind of… Well, I’m not the kind of person that just lays around and does nothing. That kind of feels like the most horrible thing in the world to me. It’s actually extremely hard for me to relax.
But anyway, it’s officially my summer break because my classes for my doctoral program, we had our last in-person classes this past weekend, so that was our residency weekend where we meet on campus. And then I have one more final project due by Friday at midnight. I’m going to try to get it done earlier, because apologies to my professor for my other class. I was reminded once again that starting papers or starting to edit papers that are really bad late at night, just doesn’t, it doesn’t work for me.
So I will work on getting my Marketing and PR in Education assignment done earlier than aiming for it to be done by 11:58 when it’s due at 11:59. Also, knowing that I’m a morning person, and there have been many times in my life when it’s hard for me to stay up past 8:30 or 9:00, I probably shouldn’t plan on working late. That does not work for me at all. But yes, that is why I’m doing a happy dance. I will have a couple of breaks, I think I will have almost a month free from I guess just kind of homework assignments for my doctoral program.
I was gonna say I’m really excited because now I get to spend kind of more time working on things for Dance Ed Startup. So I am going to start writing lesson plans that coincide with playlists, that sort of thing.
I also want to catch up on some fun reading, but I was thinking how ridiculous that is considering that I am trying to write a dissertation. I should probably be doing only academic reading. So I am all about balance, but I’m a slow reader. I’m not one of those people that speed reads. I’ve learned to speed read for school, but when I’m reading for pleasure I like to take… I’d say at a solid three minutes per page of any like regularly font-sized novel.
So even for me, reading for pleasure, is kind of like an all-consuming thing, but I really probably should just be reading about dance education in the United States for the next month or so, but however, I spend my time over the next couple of weeks, I will be happily dancing through the next few weeks. And I will figure out how to balance my academic readings and my pleasure readings. And that’s kind of, that leads me right into what I wanted to talk about today.
So I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, but not so much balance. I’ve really been thinking about being a typically busy person, like most of us are today, but being a busy person and prioritizing.
So I think I heard, maybe in a podcast or maybe on an Instastory or something, but I think Rachel Hollis said something like we can do all of the things, but we are going to prioritize differently at different times, and that’s okay.
So, for example… And I think it was actually on Amy Porterfield’s podcast that she was talking about this, on one of the podcasts where she was on there. And I think she was kind of talking about: Okay, when you’re at work, you love your kids, you love your family, but you’re making a choice from 9 to 5, or whatever you’re doing for work, you’re making that choice during that time to prioritize work. And of course, making money benefits your family. (And now I’m adding my two cents in here.)
I don’t remember saying any of this stuff, but… But of course, making money does benefit your family, but when you are going to focus on… We can’t do it all in the same moment. But in the same week, can we dedicate our time to work and family and travel? Sure. But that’s over seven days. So each day or each minute, you’re going to be focusing on something else. And something I’ve just really been trying to figure out. I’ve said in previous podcasts, that my kind of word for the year is community, and I really, I’ve said as well, I’m really happy with the community that I’m continuing continuing to create for myself here in Sacramento, and all of that sort of jazz.
But I’ve also said before all of the hats that I wear, all the things that I’m doing with doing all of those things, that is hard to find balance or it’s hard to know which is the right thing to prioritize at the right time.
I am trying to focus on, of course, hence the name of the podcast and of my blog, but I am trying to focus on happiness and developing my own happiness. And part of that is finding balance, and finding time for my educational program, for my businesses, for growing my businesses, marketing my businesses, interacting with clients. Like that’s all, of course, for an entrepreneur, that’s hugely important to me.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a super involved dog mom, and so for my Facebook friends who got a lovely photo, of some organic non-GMO dog food, being able to spend time with my dogs every morning and kind of keep them on a routine… For all of the non-dog parents out there, maybe that sounds really silly, but it something that’s really important to me, and so that’s something that I do prioritize in the morning.
I also like that when I keep my jobs on their routine, it helps me say my routine. So if we get up and get on our wall by 6:00 or 7:00… They’ve been letting me sleep and lately, so I have been getting up around 7:00 in the morning instead of between 5:45 and 6:00 am, so that’s nice. But anyway, with that I’m usually able to start working on my personal business ventures by about 8:30 am, which is when they go down for their morning nap. Again, if you’re not a dog parent you probably think I sound silly, I would too, but now that I’m a dog parent I think everything I’m saying is totally normal.
But yeah, that’s something that I highly prioritized and so when I’m doing other things, it’s hard for me to not have that time with my dogs. Or going back to the creating community. So for example, I think I did a great job with balancing this past weekend. I had residency weekend for my doctoral program, as I already mentioned, and I had that Friday night from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm, then Saturday morning or Saturday all day from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm.
We finished a little bit early on Saturday, and then after that I had organized a Meetup event. I mentioned before that I highly recommend Meetup.com if you’re looking for friends and fun. Look for Meetup.com in your area. But anyway, I had organized a Meetup event and it was just at an outdoor movie where I live, in Sacramento, California. And I was pretty nervous about it because I didn’t really know anybody who was going, but it was great and I felt so fulfilled, and I just had a blast being able to share in that community-building, set-aside time with new friends and people that just wanted to hang out on the Saturday and watch a movie. So that was really awesome. And I felt personally fulfilled from that. And I’m glad that I carved out time and made myself go, because big picture, community and developing friendships is something that I want to focus on.
And then Sunday morning, I had another meetup event. I host a monthly brunch for a social Meetup group for 20s and 30s-Somethings who are living in my area, and so that’s something that I absolutely love, and I value that time so much. And hey, I’m a millennial, so I love brunch. But typical Saumirah, doesn’t book things for myself back to back to back like that. Class Friday, class Saturday morning, Meetup Saturday evening, Meetup Sunday morning. And then I also went to work for one of my side hustles, now that I’m trying to work my work on my business full-time.
So I always, just so you know, if you follow me online or know me in real life… I think people that know me in real life, they realize this about me over time: I always have at least probably 10 side hustles going at one time. And some of those side hustles make me like 50 cents per month. And some of them make more than that but whatever I’m doing, I just wanna state for the record, I’m not in any way a spontaneous or like fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of person. Anyone in my family or anyone who knows me at all can tell you this. I plan everything out to the tee. And so even when I take risks, they’re extremely calculated. But anyway, moving on from that. So the point I would book this weekend and I was kind of like, “Oh my gosh, what are you doing?”
You know? Because I think I mentioned before on this podcast, I’m 49% introverted and 51% extroverted or vice versa. I never remember which one it is. They’re so close it doesn’t really matter to me. But the point is that with that, I can sometimes… Or I guess not sometimes, just always, I’m always… It seems equally fulfilled from either being alone and rejuvenating or from being around others and getting energy from hearing other people’s stories and sharing my own story, and just feeling connected to humanity. And those are the big reasons of why I host a monthly brunch. I seriously feel connected to other humans and to humanity as a whole, when I just have expensive eggs and mediocre coffee. No, it’s usually good coffee. We have really good brand places near where I live.
But anyway, I sometimes get energy from stuff like that and sometimes I’m like, “Oh my gosh…” It can be too much sometimes. And so I’m always trying to find… Yeah, I guess I’ll say balance. I’m always hoping that I’m making the right decision with how much energy I’m choosing to put into things or make myself available for, for all of these social things. And what I’m realizing, which is hard because you always wanna feel like, again, like you’re making the right choices or the best choices. So, what I’m realizing is that yes, you can fit everything in… because I was thinking about this podcast, and I don’t know if you listeners want advice from me, because I think that I have been tending to phrase things as questions, and so I was trying to think of what would I say if I wanted to be this advice-giver on this podcast and I was thinking: “Well, okay, so you’re talking about balance. Well, how do you balance stuff out?” Because, talking to myself because I’m always by myself… How do I get stuff done because people tell me all the time that I have so much energy and I get so much stuff done so I was trying to think, “What do I actually do?” And I think that when it comes to stuff like this weekend that I just had my original advice or what came to mind was, “I just do it.” I see that there’s free time, I know that I need to balance hard like mind-boggling, strenuous academic stuff with fun, hangouts on the grass in the middle of summer with friends, and so, just do it.
But it’s funny, and this is the introverted part of me, it’s funny that, leading up to those things, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing?” So it’s almost as if the two parts of me are in conflict about these things that I’m doing in my life, but that’s fine. I’m sure most people have that… I don’t know. I’m also a Gemini as well, so I guess these twins that live inside of me or constantly fighting. Who knows. But that was going to be my advice is just book the meeting, or plan a vacation and put money down, or write in your calendar and actually do it, put it on your to-do list and make sure you don’t let more than 48 hours go by without crossing that thing off your to-do list.
But what I’m realizing though is that you can do all the things and you can know that you are choosing to prioritize one thing over another, but that doesn’t make it feel any better. And I was thinking about this because I feel that I did a knockout, but-kicking presentation for my marketing class this past Saturday. I felt very proud of it. I told my partner, I think it’s probably the most prepared I’ve been for any presentation in my doctoral program thus far. Whoops–it’s like the end of my second year. But that’s how I felt.
It was opposed to be a 10-minute presentation, and I got it down to 11 minutes. Yeah, I didn’t wanna work any harder than that apparently. But anyway, I just… The entire presentation like, four or five times. I feel like I knew it down to how many breaths I could take per slide. Not really, but that’s how I felt. And so, I was so, so, so, so proud of myself, but I chose to prioritize that presentation and those slides and my speech and my pauses and my charisma, all of that sort of stuff for the sake of that class because I really enjoy that class. And I spent not so much time on my three-minute thesis presentation that I had for my different class. I have to be honest. So the title of the class it’s not coming to me right now. It’s called “AI,” and I always think “Artificial Intelligence,” and I feel so ridiculous right now. But for the class that I was supposed to have written a strong chapter two of my dissertation for… We had to do this assignment, which I really loved the assignment actually and I worked hard on it, but I definitely put more time into my marketing class presentation, which for granted that presentation was longer, but my marketing class is not writing my dissertation. I’m not getting a doctorate in marketing… unfortunately, ’cause this class was really fun. But anyway, so what I’m getting at is that even though I feel so… I feel so confident and happy and validated or I don’t know, accomplished, I guess, is a good word for the work that I have done recently and throughout the entire semester for my… Applied Inquiry! Sorry, really, of topic. This is how to communicate in real life. The other class is Applied Inquiry III. Okay. So even though I feel really accomplished because of the work that I’ve been doing in my marketing class, I feel guilty for neglecting the other class. And it’s hard because I, I felt good, I felt proud, I felt excited to do a presentation in school, and that’s a great feeling that I would not trade for anything. But the fact that I… to be really flat out, my three-minute thesis, I thought it was very good… it was a little over time, as well. I feel like all of my words are important, obviously, #whyimdoingapodcast, but I didn’t memorize it. And most of the people in my cohort, because they’re all over-achievers, but most of them had it memorized, and I… Because I saw that some people did not memorize it, I gave myself the freedom to not memorize mine as well, which to me means I wasn’t working as hard as I possibly could have. And of course when I was working on my 37-slide PowerPoint or–I use Google Slides–my 37 slide Google Slide for my marketing class, I could have been editing my chapter two of my dissertation. So I’m just thinking about how some people might feel in other parts of their life, or how I would feel going back to… sometimes I have to go and make money to pay the bills and I have to leave my dogs at home. Sometimes parents or people are leaving their kids… Well, I guess if you have kids, you’re a parent. Sometimes parents are leaving their kids at home or people are leaving their loved ones to go out in the world to make money, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
So you know you’re doing it for the right reasons. Like I know I’ve loaded up myself with all these social activities this past weekend it… And I was doing that for the right reasons, because I felt so amazingly fulfilled. It makes my heart and my soul happy to engage with other humans who are at similar stages in life or if they’re at stages in life that I’ve gone through, or if I can get advice from others. I love filling the cups of others and having my cup filled just from going to brunch. That fascinates me.
But what I’m saying is that it doesn’t make it any better, even though your soul is fulfilled from the things you’re doing, it doesn’t make it any easier to know that you’re not doing other things that are also extremely important to you or that also give you happiness and validation and a sense of accomplishment.
And so, I think my altered or developing state of advice, it wouldn’t just be to do the stuff because that’s not a way to live your life. Don’t just do stuff. I mean, sometimes just do it. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. Take your calculated risks and live your life. But what I’m thinking is that it’s really about the quest or the task, the challenge is finding the balance between the things that easily, naturally, without a doubt, will give you joy and feed your soul, and make your heart happy. It’s finding balance between those things and then the things that aren’t so fun. The things that will be good for you but you don’t like doing them.
I was thinking about writing and it’s crazy actually, because I completely love, I’ve loved writing. I have my blog at DanceDaze.org/Blog, and I’m sure that some of you who don’t… Haven’t been following me online, or don’t know me from… You haven’t been my Facebook friend since high school or something like that, so you don’t know about all of my ventures from when I used to promote teeth whitener and all that stuff, back in the day, but I’ve had blogs for a really long time. I had my first domain, when I was 14 years old. So, again, when I say I’m a nerd, like I’m a nerd. I just happen to be a nerd who was also a varsity cheerleader in high school.
But, anyway, I… totally lost my train of thought. This is why I need a co-host.
Oh, okay. I was thinking about writing and it made me think of this quote that I discovered years ago and it’s by Steven Pressfield, and I’m holding this book in front of me. His book is called The War of Art. And I have two books of his… I forget what the next one is called. That one’s still on the bookshelf, and it’s not in the same room as me. But anyway, the point is: his quote is something like, “For real writers, it’s not the writing part that’s hard, it’s the sitting down to write.” Or something like that. And I will say, boy, oh boy, is that true for writing this dissertation of mine. It’s crazy because I was actually considering, and I feel like the sounds crazy because I feel like I was the one who knows my process well… but I was considering just changing it all up… And I was like, “Whoa! A 15-minute podcast gives me over 2000 words. It was like, I should just speak everything I wanna write in a paper and then find citations that support my thoughts!” And I think that’s like… Okay, I know all the flaws in that thinking in terms of academic research, so don’t like don’t tell me. Maybe some of you are gonna be like, “That’s genius!” But I did not do that. But I was literally having that thought because I was like, “My goodness, I have no desire to sit in front of a computer and edit this document.” And it’s horrible because again, I’m someone who loves writing. I’ve loved writing since high school, I just… It’s something that came easily to me even with writing academic papers. And I’ll say even through college, I never… I didn’t always wanna write papers, but I’ve had so many positive experiences with writing, and I’ve received, honestly, so much praise, like, I guess… Yeah, academic praise from writing that I’m confident in my ability to write. And so when I’m writing these super short blogs or whatever, posting freebies… I hope the freebies are helpful ’cause I spend time creating those documents and I want dance teachers and early career dance educators to be able to use them. But in terms of the actual blog content itself, I do feel like I have a very realistic… You know, I’m not like, “Whoa, that was the best thing I’ve ever written!” when it’s three sentences and here’s a freebie. The point is, I’m confident in my abilities to write and my abilities to express my thoughts through the written word, but everything changes when you’re doing a dissertation and… And I feel guilty because I feel like, with my not-so-awesome balancing act, I feel like I’ve done a poor job of incorporating the things that don’t instantly give me joy, like walking my dogs or honestly even putting the dishes away in the mornings. I feel like I should be giving more attention to the things that… What is it? Delay of gratification? I need to balance instant gratification stuff with delayed gratification stuff. And that I think… Therein lies the challenge. It’s not just like, “Oh, I’m so busy!” because we’re all busy. We all have stuff to do. We all have to do stuff we don’t want to do. I actually don’t, I don’t enjoy doing dishes in any way, I just really love having a clean kitchen. But still, it’s still instant gratification. I think I read that in an article somewhere.
So anyway, yeah, I’m trying to pose this in a way of like, “Oh, here’s what I discovered.” And this is what I’ve discovered. But if you ever want to message me on Instagram or something or if there’s somewhere to comment on this podcast… I’m not someone who comments on podcast, so I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but, find me online or email me and tell me what you think or like how are you balancing stuff in your life? Besides one, hashtag just do it, besides throwing it all on your calendar and getting it done or two, feeling guilty constantly because you’re always neglecting something. How are you dealing with those feelings of regret and how are you deciding when it’s time to do the things that spark joy and when it’s time to do the things that are like the medicine? A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. So okay, if a social outing is like my… And sorry, I’m playing with the binder clip in case you hear that sound, sorry. I’m a fidgeter sometimes. How do you decide between the things that are like the sugar of your life and the medicine of your life?
So that is what I was thinking as far as this podcast. So thank you for listening. I’m gonna end it here. Thank you all for listening. If you are interested in the book that I mentioned, it’s called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield. And it’s a book that I read actually a long time ago, but I have so many… it’s probably one of my favorites. I have not read it recently, but I have pencil marks all throughout this book, and I believe this is a second copy. I think I had a different version earlier because… Well, this one’s not dog-eared. And I see now that… Maybe I went through a phase where I was like un-dog-earing my books because… what is that movie?
Oh gosh, I can’t think of it, but… In that movie where the guy is like, “Oh, it’s disrespectful to dog ear your book.” So I see that I actually unfolded the corners. So, I was gonna be like, “This is a newer version!” But I think this is the one that I’ve had for years and anyway, I would highly recommend it for artists.
So yeah, The War of Art, obviously a play-on words from The Art of War, which I have not read, but I have read The War of Art. So. second goodbye. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. If you enjoyed this podcast, please go over to Apple Podcasts and give me a rating and review. I would really appreciate it.
And then also I forgot to say it at the beginning and I thought about it, but I was like… Eh, I don’t wanna cut off what I was saying. But this episode of The Happy Dance Podcast is sponsored by my digital course called Dance Ed Startup for early-career dance educators who want to start, streamline, and grow their dance education business.
And that opens up again in September of this year, on September 9th of 2019. And if you are interested, learning more about it, you can go over to DanceEdStartup.com/Course and you’ll see a little outline of the order we go in for the course and all of that sort of stuff.
Thanks you guys so much for listening. Be sure to rate and review on Apple Podcasts, if you enjoyed it, and I will catch you next time.
Oh, and really quickly! How to keep doing a happy dance in your own life! Sorry, I got really close to the microphone there. So I would say to keep doing a happy text in your own life… Okay, I’ll say this. I don’t like being a person who struggles with having guilt. And so that’s what I am trying to focus on, not in terms of just planning or prioritizing or finding balance in my life, but I wanna stop feeling guilty for enjoying the sugar.
So I will say that’s my little advice for continuing to do a happy dance is like, allow yourself the time to enjoy the good times because I think you need to have the memories of those for when you are doing the things that are getting to be that delayed gratification, the things that are not instantly satisfying and that don’t necessarily feed your soul.
Okay? Thanks for listening. I’ll catch you guys next time.