The Happy Dance Podcast: Episode #3

Read the podcast transcript below or click HERE to download the PDF!

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!

Hello! Again, my name is Saumirah McWoodson, and you are listening to Episode 3 of The Happy Dance Podcast! So thank you very much for tuning and I’m so excited that you have decided to join me either for the third time or perhaps for the very first time. So again, in this podcast, I will be talking about all things related to dance, education, and cultivating a life of happiness. So, In Episode 2, I talked about community and about surrounding yourself with fantastic, great, wonderful people who will enhance and inspire your life in a positive way. So today I’m going to switch it up a little bit and I’ll jump into that in a second.

I don’t want to forget I actually want to first tell you why I’m doing a happy dance.

So today, I’m doing a happy dance because I’m having a wonderful summer. I’m keeping busy, and I’m getting a lot of things accomplished, but also, tomorrow is my birthday. And I absolutely love birthdays, I love holidays, and I love excuses, to spend quality time with great people, like I mentioned in my last podcast! So I’m very excited that tomorrow’s my birthday and I have plans with friends tomorrow evening and for later on this weekend as well. So that is why I am currently doing a happy dance.

Okay, so now to dive into what I wanna talk about today. I previously mentioned that I’m researching dance educator preparation and pathways to long-term careers for dance educators in the United States.

Okay, so today I’m actually going to comment on an article about service learning practice in higher education in dance education.

Okay, so I’m gonna give you a little bit more of my background in dance education, and how I came to essentially teach dance and to start some dance education organizations. So I pretty much grew up as a competition dancer. I studied at a large school for the performing arts in Daly City, California. So, you can read this in my bio on my website, at DanceDaze.org. I studied at Westlake School for the Performing Arts in Daly City, California, from when I was about four or five years old, until I was about 13 years old, and then my family moved and I started dancing at a different, a few different other studios in the East Bay of California.

As far as my teaching experience, although I studied dance as a student at the pre-professional level and had experience competing in dance for several years, I didn’t really get any teaching experience until I was in my very early 20s and I went to study abroad in Marburg, Germany. So the summer before I was in Germany, I actually was a participant in a program called Camp Adventure or Camp Adventure Youth Services, so we basically ran really awesome summer programs, or year-round programs depending on what track you were on, for the children of United States service men and women. So I spent a summer in Brussels, Belgium, with Camp Adventure then I went right into studying abroad in Marburg, Germany. And somewhere in that time I had my first experience teaching dance. So I taught, I believe one class at United States Army Garrison Bamberg, I believe, to a small group of students, which was really fun, just kind of as a camp counselor type of person. I did that as part of my internship. I wasn’t paid for it. And then when I studied abroad, I taught a couple of classes, I substitute taught some classes, at very Fairy Tale Dance Studio, which is just outside of Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.

So that was… Those were pretty much my first two experiences teaching dance ever in my life. And so, that’s interesting in my opinion, because I know a lot of people who work as dance educators or who start their own dance companies and their own dance studios, they have different tracks toward becoming professional dance educators, and so I think a lot of people do have that similar experience of, they are students and then they teach.

However, I did not have the experience of studying dance as an undergraduate student. I did spend one year studying dance education at the graduate level, and completing some graduate work in the Dance Education Master’s Program at New York University and that was during the same time that I earned my American Ballet Theatre Teacher Certification in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. So I basically had almost no experience teaching and then I jumped into a graduate program, in dance education so that I could learn how to teach. I always felt I was very… Again, I was in my early 20s then, but I felt like that experience as well, set me aside from a lot of people who were in my cohort in that program because many of them had undergraduate degrees in dance, or something related to the arts. There were a couple of people who had some degrees in Biological Sciences and things like that, but I kind of always felt a little bit of an odd ball out because I was a competition dancer, which I felt was a little bit looked down upon and I had been a varsity cheerleader in high school. So I felt like I definitely wasn’t coming from this–even though I had studied the Vaganova method of classical ballet and I had trained at the pre-professional level–I didn’t feel like I had this ivory tower training, when I entered my graduate program in dance education. Anyway, I came back to California, and I essentially started Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools, sort of right away, with only teaching a couple of classes in my early 20s, and then doing a year in a graduate program in dance education and becoming an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher.

Okay, so I want to talk more about my background and tell you what Dance Daze in Schools has done. So the reason I’m interested in this article that I was reading (and I’m going to grab it here) . . . So this article is in the journal of Dance Education in Practice Volume 5, Number 1, and it’s from this year, 2019. The article is called Developing a Service Learning Project Within a University Choreography Course. It’s by, I believe this is how you say her name, Ali Duffy. She’s an associate professor of dance at Texas Tech University.

So that’s the article that caught my eye and the reason it caught my eye is because I really love service learning. And I’m not quite sure at this moment where that interest and passion began for me, but I know with some of my earliest work with Dance Daze in Schools, that’s exactly what I was doing, I was working to create service learning opportunities for college students, even though I was not in any way a university professor, a college professor, and I was actually doing this both before and while I was earning my Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of the Pacific.

So if you want some examples of what kind of stuff I was doing, you can go ahead and go to DanceDazeInterns.wordpress.com. Again, that’s DanceDazeInterns.wordpress.com. And there you’ll find a couple of blogs that I wrote myself, but you’ll also find blogs that were written by my service learning interns that were working for or volunteering for Dance Daze in Schools.

And so there are two particular experiences that I helped to facilitate or took the lead on with Dance Daze in Schools, and one was with UC Berkeley with their Chan Fellows Program, so that was really awesome. I was able to work with an extreme student from China who was a Chan Fellow and she helped to start a dance program at a Mandarin immersion school in Oakland, California, as part of her fellowship requirements, but also as part of being a service learning intern with my organization, Dance Daze in Schools. So that was really awesome. And she worked with dances and schools for an entire year.

And again, if you go to DanceDazeInterns.wordpress.com, you’ll be able to find some photos. And she has a couple of posts up there that she wrote herself, and so that’s really great. And then the other service learning program that I was able to develop was in partnership with St. Mary’s College of California which is in Moraga, California, and there, the leadership program or the service learning internship program, that I partnered with on their campus was called the Bonner Leaders program with the Bonner Leadership Program.

It was a little bit similar to the Chan Fellows program, in that my interns had to complete a certain number of service hours giving to the community each week. There had to be some sort of reflection each week, that sort of thing. They were different because these students at St. Mary’s College of California, they were not extreme students, they were just getting their degrees from St. Mary’s College. So those were some of my, I guess my most streamlined experiences with developing and partnering with other organizations to help design this service learning experience with using dance as the medium. And so basically, I used to spend a lot of time emailing people and calling people for hours every day, essentially, and that’s how I found these programs and how I got in touch with these, these two individuals. One was named Ryan and one was named Sunshine. I got to partner with them and participate in these great programs. Then I got these interns matched with Dance Daze in Schools, and then I personally went out and I found schools for the interns to work with, so schools that were in typically, they were under-served communities or they did not have a dance program already, things like that. I was able to find public schools each time. So even though I personally as an academic, as a classroom teacher, I’ve only personally taught in private and charter schools with Dance Daze in Schools, I’ve actually worked with a lot of public schools and a couple of charter schools as well.

Okay, so, so now I wanna dive in. So that’s kind of my background in developing these service learning internships. I also wanna say that I was fortunate that in partnering with these programs that the interns were paid and so that’s something that’s always been important to me. I know that when I was a college student, there were tons of opportunities that were available but a lot of them were free.

And I’m a big advocate of volunteering, I’ve been a member of several volunteer organizations in my life, including as an active member, formerly, of Alpha Phi Omega National Co-ed Service Fraternity, which I joined when I was an undergraduate student.

So service is a big part of what I do, but I also think it’s important, when possible, to pay people for doing quality work.

And so I am proud that Dance Daze in Schools has always been able to pay our interns even if they are completing more of a service learning project, even if they are working as interns, they are paid interns. So I’m very proud of that. That I’ve been able to do that. Whether it was just through Dance Daze in Schools or whether it was in partnership with other community organizations, colleges, and educational foundations and that sort of thing.

Okay, so in this article, again, I’m not sure if I’m saying her name correctly, but I believe it’s Ali Duffy. She talks about basically how she started to incorporate a service learning component into her university choreography course. She talks about how she just wanted to sort of restructure the class that she had been teaching for a couple of years, and how it coincided with her recently founding a non-profit dance company and forming partnerships with community organizations and that sort of thing.

She talks about how she re-worded the description of the course, how she supported the college students in leading the courses for their partner organization, which happened to be a school that served middle school-age children.

And then the article goes on to talk about some different aspects that they incorporated it into their teaching, so a lot of elements of dance, a lot of improvisation, a lot of choreography techniques, the college students were teaching to the middle school students, and so I thought that was really great. The college met with their students that they were teaching, the younger students, twice per week maximum and they had to, after each day of working with the students, they had to write a reflection paper and reflect on questions such as: What did you observe? How is your experience similar or different than you expected? What impacts the way you view this experience? What did you learn about the people or this community? How can you apply this experience to other experiences now or in your future? How do you sense our class and the Talkington class are affected, impacted or experience experiencing each other? What surprised you about this experience?

One thing I really liked about this article is that she pretty much lays out how she supported the college students. There was a lot of debriefing. There was a lot of reflection, which is a core part of a core component of service learning. She talks about how she made sure that her university students had a bit of a background in classroom behavior management, and they talked about different ways to approach more challenging situations in the dance classroom. And so I think that that’s really awesome. I think that’s a piece that’s missing for a lot of newer dance educators who don’t necessarily have a background in teaching in the classroom already.

And so, one thing I really liked that’s mentioned in this article is that she says, Duffy states that the teacher of the students with the community organization with whom the university partnered, at the end she sent an email and told Duffy that she appreciated that her students were “exposed to elements of dance, improvisation, and choreography as a communicator of meaning as opposed to a series of steps to replicate and perform.”

And so I thought that was just… If you’re interested, you can go through read the article you can find it in online if you have access to this journal. Again, it’s in Dance Education and Practice, Volume 5, Number 1, 2019. But anyway, I just found it really awesome the way that she describes the way in which she helped her students teach dance, or use dance to teach, I guess, sort of life skills or ways to kind of observe or take in information and to act and react in different life situations. I think that’s what’s important about teaching dance through a service or community-based opportunity, instead of the traditional either studio dance classes or professional or pre-professional dance classes. There is definitely, with the service learning component, there’s so much of an emphasis on giving back as a citizen and helping to create responsible and engaged and empathetic citizens, I believe.

So that’s all of interest to me.

So I wanted to say, for my personal take-aways I think that this is just absolutely great and I’m interested personally in going out, and I’m sure I will, again, (I’m not sure if you listen to my previous podcast, but I am a doctoral student at the University of the Pacific, so this is all within my realm of research) but I really want to go out and look more into what kind of educational opportunities, dance programs, either undergraduate or graduate-level dance programs in the United States are providing for their students.

And I also, as part of that, I would love to know more about which of those programs are providing specifically service learning opportunities and I would like to see how those differ or when students leave the program, how does that I guess their next steps after leaving college and the university, what’s the difference between the students who had a little bit of service learning experience through dance and those who did not? So that kind of interests me after looking at this article, and then it makes me curious as well. So I went in a lot about, I went into a lot about my background in dance and how I kind of I didn’t rush into teaching. I was definitely someone who I could have taught. There were a couple of studios in Stockton. If you know Stockton–yes, there are nice dance schools in Stockton. There are lots of awesome things in Stockton, actually, but some people don’t realize that I think because of rumors.

But anyway, I didn’t jump at the opportunity to teach, I was a little bit shy, but I was also kind of . . . I’m someone who definitely learns from observing, and I like to take things in and I never want to do anything until I feel prepared. So as I get older, that’s changing a little bit. And I think that’s also coming with accepting, realizing, claiming ownership of my experience, of my knowledge, of my education that I’ve had so far, but definitely when I was in my late teens, early 20s, just entering adulthood, I was not someone who was very much like… “Yeah, I know what I’m doing. Let me teach this class!”

So with that, I didn’t have a lot of teaching experience I was a student of dance for a very long time, and so, anyway, getting back on track, reading this article makes me curious about how the majority or what are some other ways that people are getting training to become dance educators?

So I think it is common that people, they start studying at studios and then they get an opportunity to teach and they jump at it and suddenly they’re dance teachers.

So for me, I think it’s different because I have that studio background and then I also have some pre-professional training experience in classical ballet as I mentioned, and I also had the great fortune of being able to observe and learn about dance in a professional environment at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, School at ABT when I was completing the certification there and studying in New York. And then also for me, which I think is really important and unique about the way that I view dance education and the way that I view my classes and the way that I view all of the teachers with whom I work, especially the college students, is that I have my Master of Arts Degree in Education so specifically in Curriculum and Instruction. And also with that, before I taught a class on my own, I participated in and completed an intensive teacher residency program while I was earning my Master’s degree, so every week, I had a full day of theory and discussion and debate and reading articles and reflecting on articles with my cohort, and then for the other four days in a week, I was in a classroom studying, under a master teacher. So I had that unique experience where I was not just thrown into a classroom of second grade students. I had a year of intensive training where I got to sit back and observe, and I got critiqued every day, and I got recorded, and I got to watch myself teaching and to comment on what mistakes I made, and I got to reflect on why I was not able to certain students, and why some students were not learning, and how could I make the information more accessible to all of my students. I had a year of that, a solid year of that. And so as a classroom teacher, I think that makes me different from many of my peers who were just kind of thrown into a classroom and said, “Okay this is your internship year while you are earning your Bachelor’s or your accelerated Master’s! You’re just gonna teach this class all on your own because you have a substitute credential!” or something like that.

And so I’m also curious as to what… What are kind of the common ways that most people who end up having a long-term career in dance education, how do they come to that? Is it common that most people who become dance educators or professional dance teaching artists I wonder if it’s common that they do participate in university courses, that they attend college to obtain these positions.

And so those are some of the thoughts that came into my mind as I was reading this article. And then finally one of my final thoughts or questions is: Where can people who don’t go to college, but who want to teach dance, where can they get this kind of learning and teaching experience in dance? So I guess I just, if you wanna comment on this, tell me how did you become a dance educator? How did you come into a space of opening your own studio? Those are the kind of questions I have because, like I said, I have my own experience but when I’m go out into the world now to continue my learning and my training in dance so far, I’m doing that with people who are at the university level, studying dance.

So when I went to participate in the Dance Education Lab’s program in Los Angeles, we were at a university at Loyola Marymount and we were with most people there were dance majors, or they were already professional dance educators, and so we were in that again, that kind of ivory tower world and the students were getting that awesome dance training.

Or last summer when I studied at the Sacramento Ballet and participated in that summer intensive, well, all the students there clearly are getting that professional level of training already. So what about the people who aren’t studying in these professional schools of dance? Or what about for those who are not attending college, and getting degrees in dance, or in choreography or in performance, dance education? I’m wondering is there still space for those individuals to become professional dance educators and to make a career out of it, and if so, how are they doing it? And then if not, why?

So, those are my thoughts. And I just wanted to bring it back to dance a little bit. So again, I was reading from or I had some little excerpts that I read from this article in the Dance Education in Practice journal, Volume 5, Number 1. And the title of the article, again, is “Developing a Service Learning Project Within a University Choreography Course.” And if you are interested in continuing this conversation with me or sharing with me your background in dance education or maybe it’s separate kind of like me, if you wanna show your background in dance and your background in education with me, feel free to email me. My email address is saumirah@dancedaze.org.

So you sell that “s” as in “Sam,” a-u, “m” as in “Mary”, i-r-a-h at dancedaze.org, and I will put that in my show notes! But thank you so much for tuning in to Episode 3 of The Happy Dance, and I really look forward to chatting with you again, next week. And let’s see . . . I think that I’m going to leave you with these words this time, so that you can continue cultivating that life of happiness.

I think that something that was emphasized in this podcast, in my opinion, is just that lifelong learning. So if you love something, challenge yourself to keep learning about it, keep diving in.

I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but . . . YOLO! Which means, “You only live once.” I respect you if you believe something different, but that’s kind of an expression that sort of reminds me to keep pushing forward and to keep learning and experiencing as much as I can. So definitely just keep diving in and keep seeking opportunities and experience in the things that you love.

Okay, so thanks again for listening and I will catch you next time.

Bye!

The Happy Dance Podcast: Episode #2

Read the podcast transcript below or click HERE to download the PDF!

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!

Hi there! Thank you so much for joining me for The Happy Dance Podcast Episode #2! Again, my name is Saumirah McWoodson, and I am your host, and I’m excited to talk with you today about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I’ve been thinking about creating community and surrounding yourself with great people.

So we’ll jump into that in a second, but first I wanted to say that I’m so excited, and the reason I’m doing a “happy dance” today is because The Happy Dance Podcast is now available on Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play Music, and iTunes. So that is the reason I’m doing a happy dance.

And just so you know, I might not do this in every podcast because I might forget if we’re being honest; however, I decided before I started this podcast that if I ever interviewed guests on this show, I would ask each guest to tell me why they’re doing a happy dance currently when we started out the show, the interview, and then before we leave, I would ask the guest to let me know what their advice is for continuing to do a happy dance or continuing to cultivate that life of happiness. So I’m going to try to remember to do that in my episodes as well. If I don’t do it, though, just know that I have forgotten because I’m trying to remember a lot of things, and at least for this episode, my outline and notes for what I will be saying are all in my head. I decided to not write anything down but that is why I’m currently doing a happy dance. I got my first podcast out, and hopefully you listened to it–the entire 5 minutes and 26 seconds, of The Happy Dance Podcast Episode 1, and I again this podcast is currently available on Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play Music, and iTunes, and I’m really happy about that.

I also wanted to let you know that this episode is being sponsored by Dance Ed Startup, my digital course created specifically for passionate educators and trained dancers who are ready to launch their own dance education business. However, I think it will be a great course also for current studio owners who really want to better support their current staff members, their early career dance educators and new dance teachers, and for people who own dance businesses, whether they are mobile businesses or studios, who are just looking for innovative ways to expand what they’re doing or to streamline the processes that they already had in place.

So again, this podcast, this episode is being hosted by Dance Ed Startup. That course will be launching again in September of this year. So our expected launch date is September 9th, of 2019. So, hopefully, if you are interested in any of what I was just telling you about, you will consider signing up for that course. I’m very excited for it and I’m excited to work with you. And in addition to the digital course where, where we will have modules released week lease that you can somewhat go at your own pace, there will also be one-on-one coaching built into the course. So I’m super excited about that. Okay, so I think those are all of the introductory things that I wanted to say at the beginning of this episode.

I wanted to give you a little bit of history, background about me, and tell you why I even decided to try to start a podcast. This has definitely not been a lifelong dream of mine in any way. I actually had never listened to podcasts, I guess, not intentionally. I’d listened to podcast, for school. I’m currently a doctoral student at the University of the Pacific studying Educational and Organizational leadership with a concentration in Social and Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation. A little caveat there, tangent, I guess, as well.

But anyway, I’d listened to podcasts for my academic programs and maybe I’d overheard a podcast in my time surfing the web, the Interwebz, but I never kind of searched for podcasts. And I came across a podcast actually from the wife of a country music singer, who I fell on Instagram. She said she’d been interviewed on a podcast, and I was like, “Oh that sounds fun. Let me go find that.” So I went and I found this podcast, and I absolutely loved it and that was probably in I’d say, November… October or November of 2018, and from there, my interest in podcasts just kind of took off. I started listening to tons of podcasts that just related to me and my life. So I found several stepmom podcasts, and then I started listening to business and marketing podcasts and I found my favorites.

I’m actually disappointed because I’m no longer currently commuting 30 minutes each way, for work, which is… Well, of course for me, it’s absolutely wonderful. If you know me, I actually completely hate commuting, I just, I hate it.

However, I no longer have this designated time, about an hour a day, to listen to these podcasts that I was just getting so much from… And so, I’m currently just working for myself this summer, so currently just working for Dance Daze, Inc. and Dance Daze in Schools and DanceEdStartup.com.

But everything that I’m doing is pretty local meaning within . . .  the farthest thing that I do right now is a 20-minute drive away, which is still far, but I’m only doing that once a week, and I’m gonna have a break–And that’s my classes out in Davis, if you’re wondering. I don’t mean to be cryptic.–Everything else that I’m doing with my life, currently, is within, I’d say five minutes driving of where I live. So yeah, it’s just hard finding that designated podcast time and obviously I could listen to a podcast, while I’m doing the dishes, or doing laundry, which is what I’m currently doing besides recording this podcast. However, there are always other things to do. So I am currently searching for ways to insert podcast-listening time back into my life.

I also am a person who . . . I struggles with saying that I love reading, I love the thought of reading and I love buying books. With that said, I have about, I think it’s four to six books, and I’m saying, four to six because I’m looking at my stack right now, but it’s kind of spread out, so I’d say that I have four books that I want to currently be reading for pleasure and then I have two books that I want to read for pleasure that would also for sure help me with my doctoral dissertation that I’m working on and that I will be working on after I finish this podcast and edit it.

But then I also of course need to be reading lots of articles all the time for my dissertation, research in dance education articles, so I… It’s great of course that I am researching something that’s important to me, something that I love and that I’m passionate about, which is dance educator training and preparation in the United States and pathways for long-term career opportunities for dance educators in the United States. I’m very passionate about that.

However, again, if it’s hard to find time listen to a podcast, you can you better believe that it’s hard to find time to… to read peer-reviewed journal articles and then just entire books that I probably should have read and when I was a graduate student in a master’s program. But alas, better late than never, so.

Okay, so back to what I said at the very beginning of this podcast, when we first started chatting with each other, today: I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of community. So what I mean when I say that is . . . Some background: So I’m an only child, and I’m really ambitious. So when I say I’m an only child, I say that because a lot of my life I’ve spent alone and I’m not saying that, you know, I’m not having a pity party, it’s just true. I’ve been comfortable, or as a kid I was comfortable playing alone and at most times in my life I’ve only had one or upwards of three best friends at a time and it’s just, it’s funny to me because a lot of people when they meet me in person, they say that I have so much energy and I’m so social and they can’t imagine me being shy.

Well, just so you know, I’m painfully shy in many situations as I’ve realized a lot of people who have podcasts, and who have wildly successful YouTube channels, a lot of us are shy in real life, so I don’t feel alone in that. And I’m also someone who scores… I think it’s like 49 and 51, depending on how I answer a couple of questions of course on with… What is it? The personality . . . Is is the Myers Briggs test?

I have a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, so I should probably know which test I’m talking about, but you know the really common test that gives you a bunch of letters and tells you where you fall on that . . . with that sort of stuff?

Well, yeah, I think I’m 49% introverted and 51% extroverted or vice versa. I can’t remember, actually, but the point of that is to say that I’m alone most of the time, unless I make an active effort to go and be social and spend time with other people. And then what was the other thing that I said? I said I’m an only child, and… Okay, I don’t remember the other thing that I said but I’m not gonna stop this podcast! Tangent! So this is where it would be really helpful if I had a co-host or a guest because they could be like “Oh, Saumirah, you just said THIS.” And everything would flow so wonderfully. But anyway, so because I’m an only child because I spend a lot of time alone. Oh, I remember, I said I’m also ambitious, and so being an ambitious person, I spend a lot, a lot of time in my head with ideas. I wanna go off on a tangent about that and give an example but I’ll save that for another time. But essentially, I’m basically running like three businesses, right now, and I got another business idea today because I ran into a former student’s . . not “ran into” — A former student’s grandmother brought her granddaughter to my dance class, and now I’m thinking of another kind of business opportunity that I want to start this fall, so I’m just constantly creating in my head and online and writing ideas down or typing ideas, making lists all the time. I’m always building and working to create a life that I want and to cultivate a life of happiness, which is something that I’m very proud of, but it often keeps me away from others because they’re not in my head, they don’t have the same vision as me, they don’t have the same aspirations, and sure I guess they don’t have the same energy that I have, at least not about the things that give me energy. So with knowing that about myself and kind of realizing that somewhere between my quarter life crisis, which I had a little bit early, I had a quarter-life crisis at 23. And it’s a real thing for any of you who are young millennials: A quarter-life crisis is a real thing and you can find a literature about it, and books about it, and you’re not alone. #ITGETSBETTER. But anyway, between then and now I’ve learned those things about myself, and so at the beginning of this year, and kind of at the end of last year when I started listening to these really awesome and inspirational podcasts where people were just sort of going after what they want in life and living a life of their dreams and and actually yes, starting podcasts, just because they felt like it! I think all of the podcasts that I started listening to at the end of last year, they all were new, meaning they had five or fewer episodes and they were all women and they were all entrepreneurs and so I was super excited about that as well.  I wasn’t listening to, at the time, I wasn’t listening to any established podcasts, then. They were all literally like, “Hey! I have podcast. Let’s see how this goes!” And I loved that, and that is so inspirational to me, people just living their best lives and being their best selves inspires me, so hopefully I will be able to do that for someone else, with my podcast, and with all of the other stuff that put out into the world.

Okay, so at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I started kind of feeling all of those things, so feeling like, “Wow, I spend a lot of time working and crafting and I’m a doctoral student and I’m a business owner and I am alone unless I actively go out and try to spend time with other people. And so I’m not really someone who sets like New Year resolutions, but what I’ve been doing for the past, I guess, two years now, maybe more, but I’ve kind of focused on a word . . . . You can say an affirmation, but it’s not really an affirmation. I don’t go around saying like, “Live your best life,” or I do on the Internet maybe but . . . . But my word and I decided to focus on for this year was community and so I’ve been really intentionally working to create community in my life and I’m happy because I feel like I’ve been really successful with that. I know when a couple of years ago, so when I first come out to the Sacramento area, I got involved with Meetup.com. And if you are someone who’s looking for a community as well, I highly recommend Meetup. There are different groups in different areas and I will say I think I got completely lucky with the groups that I found here in the Sacramento area. When I moved out here, there were just a lot of people in a similar stage of life as me. We had just, I don’t know, we were just similarly looking for a good time, and just in my opinion, kind people, and funny people, and people that just wanted to make friends and go hiking and go to festivals and listen to live music and go snowboarding and skiing together and that sort of thing. And I was able to find that with Meetup.com. I was able to find those friendship groups, and at the time, also though my life just wasn’t really that busy. So back then, I was working my very first full-time job, so . . . . Yeah, I’ve been doing the entrepreneur thing for a long time, and I’ve also been in school, so don’t judge me that my first full-time job was not until my mid-20s.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, because I was always pursuing education or starting businesses, quite frankly, but that was my truth then, I just wasn’t, I just had one job and I wasn’t actively working on Dance Daze at that time either, so I had a pretty fun social life. I had lots of people around me, again, when I actively went out to these Meetup events and since then my life has just changed. I’ve gotten so much busier, and a part of that is because I’m continuing to pursue a life of happiness and to work towards living the life of my dreams and accomplishing all of my goals and growing my businesses. And I picked up a couple of dogs and all of that sort of stuff, but I don’t have a lot of time now.

And so, I wanted to focus on community because I like having friends. That 49 or 51 percent of me that’s extroverted gets energy from being around other people and honestly I just need people to talk to sometimes, besides my mom and my significant other, and my two adorable dogs.

So, this year I’ve been focusing a lot on community and I just… Yeah, I wouldn’t even say meditating because I think I’m too impatient to meditate, which is a problem but I’ll work on that. Maybe in 2020. But I’ve just been focusing on that word and intentionally pursuing opportunities to create community and to discover my own tribe, and to actively speak into existence, my personal gratitude from the tribes and communities around me in particular. And I feel so grateful that I’ve been given the community that I want from the universe. I feel like I’ve really worked hard to find friends and work on being a good friend because it’s hard when you’re busy and you’re ambitious, and you’re an entrepreneur, and when you’re fine not leaving your apartment for days and not talking to people except your mom and your significant other. So I’m proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone, sometimes and out of my mental state of “I deserve to relax!” and “I work so hard!” and “I don’t sleep enough!” so I’ve been pushing myself out of that, those kind of, I guess, excuse modes and saying “What do I want more–Do I want more time to sleep, or do I want more friends?”

And for me, I’ve said “No, you’re focusing on community; you want more friends. And so I just feel very grateful that I think I have good people around me.

But when I was thinking about this podcast . . . . I had this experience this past Friday evening that led me to think about the idea of not just having people around me but around having great people around me, which I also believe that I have, and with having like-minded people around me in the sense of people who are just… I don’t know if I wanna say bootstrapping it, or tooth and nailing it, or just fighting as hard as they possibly can to live the life that they absolutely dream of having. And I feel like I have those people in my life. And part of that is because of the doctoral program that I’m in. So being a teacher, especially I think, I don’t know, I think all of my full-time jobs have been that I’ve had for more than six months, have been as a classroom teacher, and so I feel like teachers usually are so focused on that job of teaching that we found a lot of intrapreneurs, a lot of people who are so dedicated to that craft. But I personally did not run into a lot of people who are classroom teachers who were also building businesses outside of the classroom. I think it’s hard to do and I do think I was partially crazy for the past couple of years, and I have been averaging about five hours of sleep per night for the past, I’d say at least two years. However, with being a teacher with working full-time, most of my time was not spent around people who I won’t say people who had high aspirations but with people who dreamed of, “Oh doing anything grandly different than what they were currently doing and they’re doing in their day-to-day life. Like I said, they were intrapreneurs, so maybe they dreamed of turning around the school in some way, or creating programs for the students, and doing really impactful, positive, fantastic work for the school, or for the district, or for the charter organization for example. But a lot of that . . .  When it came to the actual planning that they were talking about with me, it wasn’t really about anything outside of that community. And so, I think the reason that the doctoral program and the people that I’ve met, especially in my cognate, so kind of like the track that I’m on, which is a social and educational entrepreneurship, I think people in our program, I mean, my goodness, we are, if I’ve ever met world-changers in my life, I have met them in this program, in this social and educational entrepreneurship cognate of the doctoral program at the University of the Pacific, our Sacramento campus.

And so, on Friday night, I was just chatting with some ladies in my program, and they were telling me about all the things that they are working on and I was just completely…

I won’t say blown away. That’s not the right phrase.

I just felt so in my element and so surrounded by my people. And we have different struggles or dilemmas for example, some of those people are worried about like marketing and digital marketing, digital media, and that’s something that I’m passionate about and something that I’ve actually spent a lot of time and getting online certifications in and it’s something that I really enjoy . . . . We, we’re taking a marketing class right now, and so that’s where that kind of talk comes from, but maybe they’re extremely amazing at finding those business partners or the people that are gonna support their endeavors financially and that sort of thing. Like, face-to-face networking which I am not very good at. I’d rather in an email or a text message any day, than go up and shake someone’s hand and introduce myself. That’s again something maybe I’ll work on in 2020. However, they were just telling me about their dreams and their passions and what they’re working on, and it just completely made me feel like yes, I’m in the right place in the right place with the right people at the right time and I was just thinking of how important that is when we’re creating our community.

You know I’m definitely at the stage in my life personally where it’s not enough to have friends to hang out with or to have people that I can text when I’m feeling lonely . . . . that’s just not enough that’s empty and that’s . . . so 2009. So I want friends and I want people that wanna go out and go to music festivals and sing songs with me with our flip flops or in our bare feet, that sort of thing, all that. (I love a good music festival if you can’t tell, because I keep mentioning that.) But I also want people who are equally as ambitious as me. You know?

It’s so good to not feel out of your element. It’s so good to feel like you’re in the right place, surrounded by the right people. There’s nothing better than that feeling I think. There are a lot of good things in the world, but I think that’s definitely one of them and that’s why I’m so grateful to be in that program, and my doctoral program is definitely one of my tribes. It’s one of the places where I found community and it’s wonderful.

So I don’t know if I’ve said this yet. My program is actually a hybrid program, my doctoral program, so we have classes online twice a week, about two hours per class and then once or twice a month we have residency weekends, and so we are required to be on campus at University of the Pacific for Friday evening and all day Saturday and sometimes all day Sunday as well. And so I’ve gotten to know these people who I’m spending those weekends with pretty well over the past two years and so after the summer, we will have one year left in our program, if all goes well, if we stay on the same track.

Okay, so I was doing a little bit of research around this idea, and when I say a little, I mean, a little because in a busy girl! I did not do enough research . . . . Just being flat out honest with you guys. I did not do enough research to add a bunch of links in my show notes and that sort of stuff. Maybe I’ll get there, but today is not that day.

I did a quick Google search of something like “surrounding yourself with great people.” And so maybe if you search for that or I search again I’ll find the exact article that I read, but I read one article and I was like… “Yeah, yeah! It happens in these other spheres of life, as well.” And so I was thinking of it in terms of, of course, just finding… like friends who are experiencing similar things as you. So sometimes we have to or we experience loss of our life that other people have not experienced and so it’s good to find people who share in that and who are actively working to maintain or to re-find joy in their life after they’ve experienced some kind of loss. Or if we are someone who we feel like our mind works differently. When I’m working a 9 to 5 and talking about having a business and I feel people think that I’m crazy and out of my mind and  don’t know what I’m talking about or something, that doesn’t feel good. It feels good, when I’m just surrounded by people who are doing the exact same thing but maybe in a slightly different arena, in a different field but literally… their thoughts are the same. Their mind is constantly racing and they’re always hustling. That’s amazing. So, I was thinking about community in that sense of just finding people with I guess, shared beliefs or with shared actions that they’re taking on in their life. But this article mentioned that it’s similar in the military, they’re like… Before you go into battle, you go to Basic Training, and you spend all this time together, and you’re away from kind from normal society. You are creating a bond and forming your tribe. You’re just, you’re like in it with these people, you get to know them, you create the bond and then you can go out and conquer the world. And then I was thinking, “Wow, that is what’s happening in my doctoral program. Like, we’re all these little weirdos basically with all these crazy world-changing ideas . . . . we get together, we bond, and then in a year or two will be out in the world, hopefully unleashing these fabulous dragons just doing all the stuff that we want to do and just making the world so much more awesome than it is, or continuing to make things incredible. And then, I was also thinking about… And it might have mentioned it in this article (again: super quick research!).

It might have mentioned it in this article also or I might have found this somewhere else. I don’t really remember. I had trouble sleeping last night I was up at 3:45 in the morning, so my memory is really foggy! Anyway, the idea for a lot of these online entrepreneurs, that I’ve been following anyway or I guess digital course creators, however they identify, they join masterminds. And so, from my understanding, a mastermind is like a group, it’s kind of just like a more intense digital course, but it’s people who are essentially wanting to change the world digitally so with their digital course or with their online programs and products, and that sort of thing. But they are working together in this small, or maybe it’s big sometimes, but I’m talking about like communities where you know everyone’s name and you interact with them regularly, so that’s why I’m saying small, but they’re in this group and it’s kind of like the juices are flowing, or cooking or marinating and then they go out and they again put all of these wonderful things into the world. And so that’s just kind of something that I wanna focus on as I continue to go into, or I guess through . . . . (Which proposition, former elementary teacher of six years?!) As I continue to travel through the year of 2019 . . .

I just want to focus on not only creating community, because like I said, I feel like I’ve been wonderfully gifted with having a great community or several communities and tribes in life right now, I want to continue to push myself to surround myself as frequently as possible, with great people, with game-changers with world-changers, with other innovators, people who are just out there just challenging the status-quo. And what is it? Round pegs, square holes? That are just making things awesome, and I would like to challenge you to do the same. So if I’m supposed to have a call of action at the end of these podcasts, there it is! Challenge yourself, if you are in the mood for a challenge if you’re not, don’t even worry about it, but if you are: Challenge yourself to surround yourself with awesome people, with great people, with people who are doing excellent things, or at least with people that you can just really be yourself with and people who you won’t feel bad about yourself when you’re around them.

And that’s what I… Again, what I want to continue doing for myself, in as we kind of round the corner and finish out the second half of this year I want to continue creating community and I want to keep surrounding myself with the great ones who are out there in this world.

Okay, and that is all I have for you all today, so thank you for listening to The Happy Dance Podcast Episode 2!  And as I said before, if all goes well, these podcasts will be released at 7:00 am Pacific Standard Time on Wednesdays every week. So thank you so much for listening and I look forward to chatting with you again next week! Go out and do a little happy dance for yourself and a good time while you do it. Bye!