Love At First Site

Greetings, fine folks!

Let’s cut to the chase. So…since December, I started a low-key, passionate love affair. It’s all I can think about, I consider it my better half, and it brings out one of my best sides.

I’m ready to share this news with you guys…

HERE WE GO.

The tale of love at first site:

So at work, I met a sista from anotha mista. Her name is Francesca. After talking one night, I learned she’s a fellow globetrotter, and our conversation soon became full of oohs and ahhs and lols. We couldn’t stifle our excitement and curiosity to see the world. We decided to become FBO, and found we had a mutual friend…from Budapest. The rest of that night, we discovered just how small the world is.

The next couple of days, we joked about starting a travel blog so we could low-key gush about our travel stories. Then every day for the next several weeks, we stayed after work for hours, stayed up into the wee hours of the night, and ambushed local coffee shops, glued to our laptops. Many iced chais and coding dreams later, a baby was born and named, The Compass Chronicles. Hallelujah.

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Sorry, Fran-dawg

Since our launch date on the New Year, we’ve been connecting with the travel and creative community, and it’s been quite the cool experience, as we’ve met some really freakin’ rad folks out there. Fran and I also came up with a super dope milestone that I really really REALLY want to share with y’all. Trust and believe when that day comes, you’ll hear about it.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join our adventures, laugh with (or probably at) us, and if anything, go out and do something you love and let it consume you. Compass Chronicles is something that makes me excited to wake up and create something great, it’s inspired me to reach out and put myself out there, and ultimately, makes me SO anxious to travel again. It’s my new bae.

With this lil’ project we are nurturing and tending to every day, we hope to bring really cool work, and really cool people to the table. Take a gander, if you will!

Social plug: we are also on the ‘Gram, FB, and the Twittersphere.

Ciao for now,

deesignature

 

 

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5 Life Takeaways from NBA Dancer Tryouts

When I’m not gushing over typography design and hashtags at work or in rabbit holes with Instagram travel accounts, chances are, I’m dancing. Quick background: I started dancing when I was in high school, kind of a late bloomer in the dance world. Through YouTube videos, leaping through empty grocery aisles, and using my patio deck window as a mirror to learn to dance, I developed a passion for it, and continued the sport as a collegiate dancer. After college, I went onto dancing for the NLL, MLL, and the World Ski Championships. Now, I am so excited to add one more badge to my collection!

 

If there is one thing I believe, it is that hard work is rewarded. It may not be right away, it may not come in the form you expected, but in the end, working hard lends itself to a desired outcome. So…several  weeks ago, I tried out to be an NBA Dancer.

To be completely honest, tryouts were  intense, exhausting, and physically/emotionally/mentally draining. The amount of prep time, hours dedicated, and thoughts accumulated to what felt like a week-long marathon, and my mind and body kept racing nonstop. Through the process, I have taken note of some habits that have developed and realized that these are universal lessons to be applied to everyday life.

 

1. Embrace discomfort.

I took extra dance classes, and consequently, was taking studio classes with young and talented kids. I had a good decade on these teengers, and they were kicking my butt with flexibility, stamina, and the way their bodies could endure any choreography and technique thrown at them. During the tryout week, small groups were analyzed, improv choreography was tested, and showmanship was primed. The whole process forced me to be outside my comfort zone, and I have realized, it’s how we grow as people. Push yourself!

 

2. Take care of yourself.

Our bodies set the parameters for what we can achieve, and being healthy is the best gift we can give ourselves. Our physical, mental, and emotional well-being directly correlates with how we act, think, and live. Body aside, treat yourself! For interviews and training camp, we had to dress up and do our hair. Little things like that do not go unnoticed to people, and it was fun to pamper ourselves and get dressed up. Enabling ourselves to perform at our full capacity is the least we can do to make the most out of this wonderful thing called life  🙂

3. Be kind.

This is a mantra I live by, and it’s good for the soul. A cool thing about auditions was that all the women in the group were extremely supportive and encouraging. By being kind and accepting, I built relationships and trust during the process with the ladies auditioning with me. This fostered such a reassuring environment, and now they are my teammates. Be genuine, be you.  In a day’s interaction, the guy in front of you ordering coffee could be your next boss. The lady who bumped into you at the grocery store could have a vital connection to a prospective employer. Someone you smile at could be your next best friend.

4. Never stop doing what you love.

Being in a practice atmosphere, dancing with people next to me, and being able to all work towards something, lit up this feeling inside of me. A feeling I like to describe as passion. Dedicating time to do something that tugs on your heartstrings is so fulfilling. As a dancer, it’s an underappreciated art in the grand scheme of things: the label of dance being a sport, the industry itself, the low-pay…etc. Despite it all, it’s a labor of love, and to feel that so deeply is a marvelous feeling. I hope you find something you are infatuated with and stick to it, no matter how hard. This propels you!

 

5. Stay true to who you are and believe.

Perhaps one of the most significant takeaways. In the unique setting of the audition atmosphere, the pressure is on to impress a panel of judges more than ever. With a short and dense amount of time to showcase, it’s tempting to play up a persona and force a personality for approval in return. In the case with tryouts, I reassured myself to just “do me”. In the interview process, abiding by this allowed me to answer genuinely and with honesty. It made things so much easier, and consequently, less stressful. I was able to effectively exude who I was to the judges, which you owe to yourself. Be you!

 

If someone were to come up to me a decade ago, and told my awkward, lanky, naive 8th grader self that I would be an NBA Dancer one day, I would not believe it, 100%. Five years ago, when I was dancing for CU, I still would’ve thought this was an intangible dream. Fast forward to today, I still can’t stop smiling, thinking about the moment my name was called when the director announced the team.

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The little sis and I at our reveal party!

 

 

There is something to say about fighting for something you want, and achieving goals. Reaping the benefits of hard work is an incredible feeling. I am psyched to be on the court and to live out one of my dreams this season! Go for it, dreamers!

 

Ciao for now,

Dee

 

Top of the Mornin’ to Ya.

How’ye? So the past several days in Dublin have been immaculate. I’m overwhelmed by the beauty and culture here, and already, it has led me to be at ease and challenge myself at the same time.
Off the bus from the airport, it was sensory overload. The accumulation of jet lag, hunger, and heavy bags was negligible compared to the excitement I felt. Walking down Dames St. in search of the hostel, the cobblestone alleys peeking out and historic buildings were reminiscent of why I loved Europe. The stares received on my end were hilarious, as I can only imagine what three exhausted-looking gals with huge backpacks and maps in their hands, look like in the middle of lunch time in city center of Dublin.
I was taken aback by the left-side driving, beeping crosswalks, the wide sidewalks, and the busyness of it all. There’s this refreshing jolt of anxiousness I get when I’m curious about a place, and I got this déjà vu gut feeling of the love of traveling — YES!
Fast forward a several hours, my travel buds, Liz and Veda, are sight-seeing. Liz is my analytical, highly intelligent friend, and Veda is this spunky, daring, down-to-earth girl so the three of us is powerhouse on this trip. We saw the Dublin Castle, went in a library, Bank of Ireland, took a campus tour of beautiful Trinity College, and ended the night with cold Guiness on tap. I stayed in a different hostel than them, so my night gave way to more discovery as I walked along the river and getting the bearings on a different side of town.
 
Our third day, we made a trip to Galeway and the Cliffs of Moher. Not sure what to say except WOW. Galeway is a quaint little festival town on the opposite side of Dublin. The Claddagh ring originated here, Christopher Columbus prayed at a church here, and this town was home to a handful of royalty. Being the most fortified city in Ireland back then, the town had this intriguing and liberating vibe of relaxed flow now. Oh, they also love JFK here. Proceeding the best seafood chowder I’ve ever had was hiking the Cliffs of Moher. Google it, and yes, they really do look like that. It’s surreal physically being there, though, I’ll say that. Mother Nature put in serious work for this.
 
 
Back to Dublin, the rest of our time here was spent exploring Grafton Street, stumbling through the little streets, going to Ireland’s oldest pubs, hitting up parks and museums, and learning Irish folk songs and enjoying live music everywhere. Drink-wise, we had Guinness by day, cappuccinos with lunch, and wine and ciders at night. Not traditional of what we’re used to, but I’m certainly not complaining. The lifestyle here was like a mental massage and gave me clarity to just how important it is to treat yourself and not be so tense and work-focused. A lesson for us all, perhaps. I mean, when you’re in a busy pub and everyone is clapping to a song about crying cockels and mussels (I don’t know, either), all your worries don’t seem that big of a deal anymore.
I love the small streets, pubs and restaurants that spill over every corner and alleyways. I love the graffiti and art on random buildings. I love the historical buildings and monuments that stand so bold, yet so nonchalant to the everyday local. I love that they say, what’s the criac? like we say helloI love the people here. I’m such a sucker for nice people and while I thought Coloradans were nice folks, the Irish are genuinely kind, kind souls. I already know I will be back.
Ireland was the perfect start to my travels, and I’m anxious to see what’s in store! Next stop: London!
 
Ciao for now,
Dee
For on-the-go updates of my nomadic journey, I’m Snapping (thisisdeelife), tweeting, and Gramming!

For the Dreamers

DREAM. Go for it.

Those words embellished the right side of a cardboard poster from one my eighth grade projects. Ms. Johnson assigned this project to the class, challenging us to define ourselves. On the top right corner, it needed to be a motto we live by. At 12 years old, I didn’t know much, but that was my motto and can’t help but smirk a little thinking back to my awkward, lanky, pre-teen self, having clarity in words to live by. Fast forward a decade later, and it’s soothing to say that some things never change.

A dream of mine that only came in fruition within the past several years was to go professional with dancing. That is, NBA/NFL style. Being a passion of mine, I’ve always saw dance as a hobby, and something I did on the side.  As I danced for the Buffs in college and dedicated over 30 hours a week to it, “pastime” did not serve justice what dance meant to me. Via 5:00AM alarms, night practices, and giving up holiday breaks to practice with my team, being a member of the CU Dance Team was stitched in the fabric of my identity, embedded in who I was, and was essentially a massive asset to defining who I was. I took pride in being a part of CUDT, which reflected in person I was growing into. Some of my teammates had danced professionally, and I admired them so much for it. It was an intangible dream for me, until senior year approached, and I knew I was not ready to give up being on a dance team. I tried out for my first professional team, dancing for the Major Lacrosse League. I loved it. I just knew that was the niche where I need to be. It’s hard to describe, but I guess it’s what folks say about Love. You just know. So I made my dream to be items on my “To-Do List”, things to check off in reality, and not stay in the realm of dreams.

So a little over a week ago, I went to my first NFL Cheerleader audition…

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Trying out for one of my dream teams, terrified is an understatement. But that’s almost how I knew it was something I had to do. I remember clutching my headshots and applications in my right hand, walking up to the immaculate venue and taking deep breaths. I prayed while I stretched, and took my brain to a level of focus, charged by the desire to do well. A couple hours later, 49 numbers were called to advance to a week-long process of finals, mine included. Elation ran through my veins, and that moment of pure bliss is something I’ll remember forever.


Now with risks, you either get the biscuit or you don’t.
In the scheme of auditions, one puts herself out there, open to judgement, critique, and a fate rested in a panel of judges. There is constant expectation to show this panel what you’re made of. It’s the ultimate test of rhetoric. I primed myself to perform at my best and be at my best at all times. During the week-long process, it was all I thought about. I talked to myself a lot. This in turn, was a personal growing experience: I really had to know myself to show others who I was in a short span of time. I learned about how I reacted in times of pressure, and learned to cope with it. I learned to take in feedback and implement that to improve. I was outside my comfort zone in the midst of extremely talented and beautiful women. I had to train myself on confidence. I had to trust the process.

The tryouts ended with a final showcase open to the public, and all our work this week was encompassed into two and a half hours. At the end of the night, the new team was announced. I remember being paralyzed from nervousness/anxiousness and my mind spinning. Typing this out takes me right back to that circle of NFL Cheerleader hopefuls, all holding hands and looking down, deep in curiosity of the new team. I remember my number not being called and my heart dropping. I remember the number of a friend being called out and feeling on cloud nine for her. I remember the ten minutes of silence after as I packed my things to leave. I remember hugging my family and sobbing on my mom’s shoulder, only for a moment though because she started crying and saying how proud she was.

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Two days later, the week still lingers in my mind, and the feelings of the past week gives me tingles in my fingertips. I think back to the final show. When I’m on stage, I forget about my hamstring that painfully tugs at me whenever I lift my right leg. I forget about the feeling of wanting to vomit all week from too many butterflies. I forget about the literal blood, sweat, and tears that went into the process. All that is trivial matter when I get to perform with amazing people. Last week was one of the coolest and inspiring experiences of my life. I could do this ten days a week, free of charge. It’s a labor of love. THIS is why I do what I do. THIS is why it’s my dream.

I’m grateful to have danced with the women that I did — serious talent that made everyone bring their A-game. I’m grateful for the directors, judges, volunteers, and alumni — the tremendous amount of work they put in is unreal, and not unnoticed. I’m grateful for the corrections and feedback to push me to improve. I’m grateful for the friends along the way who’ve helped with everything, from rhinestoning my top, to daily motivational texts, to well wishes, to wisdom. I’m grateful for the friends who did this with me, because that sisterhood bond is something I will cherish. I’m grateful for the new friends coming out of this week, and humbled to have more remarkable people in my life. I’m grateful to have a healthy body to move and groove and keep doing what I love. To have so many people invest in me and believe in me is something I will never be able to truly repay; I am extremely grateful. This past week has brought out so much love and support in my life, and is the ultimate blessing. It’s not the biscuit I originally had in mind, but this biscuit came in the form of a pleasant surprise.

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How cute is Mom and the little sibs?

As I sit writing away in a coffee shop in the company of my latte, I am trying to hold back some tears. Happy ones. Normally I just do me in a coffee shop, but today, there is a commercial being shot here, so I actually don’t want to be in the background sobbing. I know I cry when I watch The Lion King or during fireworks shows, but the lump in my throat right now is a genuine measurement of the impactful week I’ve had. My heart is so full. I am so happy, and so fueled to go for it again. I loved pushing to be my best at all times. I will take that wherever I go: at my job today, being there for my little siblings, my next interview, or at practice with my teammates. And I will keep pushing myself in all endeavors of life, and hope you will, too. Don’t give up on what you want.

Dream. Go for it. From 12 to 22, my word stays strong. And so it will when I am 32 ,and you bet when I’m 72. Cheers to that, and cheers to dreams.