There is so much to write about today’s guest that I have restarted this intro many times. You really just need to listen and hear and feel all the positive vibes yourself!
Since first walking into his classroom at Broadway Dance Center here in NYC, I knew I would be a fan of Jim Cooney. He has an energy that is a rare mix of welcoming and energizing but also grounded and professional-- all of that at once. Beyond learning steps, he delves deep into your why, showing up for yourself, centering yourself, and so much more, while challenging his students with such a variety of styles of dance.
While he is an incredible (and award-winning) choreographer and director, he goes further, with a strong business mindset and belief in the abilities of all those he encounters. He took these skills, as well as a clear passion for helping people strive toward their greatest potential, beyond the physical classroom/stage, creating Amplified Artists, a platform for artists with a mission to create abundance and a bountiful life.
Jim tells me so much more about this platform, actionable tips regarding being clear on who you are, what you are presenting, the importance of keeping it simple, and that yes, we all absolutely should be embracing our unique, varied backgrounds.
Jim Cooney: www.jimcooney.me/blog
Instagram & Twitter: @jimcooneynyc
“Amplified Artists is a membership community for those working in the performing arts. The mission is to create abundance in the type of art you make, but more importantly, to build a bountiful life. We do this by integrating our artistry with our money and health, which streamlines our efforts and creates a bigger, more fulfilling impact.”
Find out more at www.AmplifiedArtists.life
Jim's photos from his website, by @jjignotzphotography
We need all the good news we can get.
This brings me to Some (More) Good News, featuring mini interviews with people following their passions, even if that means leaving behind a potentially more comfortable career path, and making people feel better along the way. (Shout-out to John Krasinski for inspiring this whole thing in the first place!)
S(M)GN episodes released each Friday. Follow @positively_kate for more.
Have stories of good news you know should be shared? Send me a message!
Wanted to write to you tonight after a day that...just didn’t feel super. Was it good? Definitely. The sun was shining, the weather was in the 60s, I was able to check items off the to-do list, etc. I am healthy and safe. But there were also elements overshadowing the good and trying to take the day in a downward spiral. Nothing life-altering, I just mean that kind of day where you wake up extra tired, you feel scattered, I ate poorly and constantly snacked, didn’t get the planned workout in, procrastinated… Ever have a day like that?
But I am not writing to highlight this so much as to mention what I showed the world: If you are reading this right away, check my Instagram story. Daffodils, my smiling face (well smiling eyes and a mask), and a budding tree along the Hudson River.
The excess snacking? No photos of food. The tired eyes? Nope. Social media is curated. Sure, some people like to show all sorts of aspects of their lives. We are all different people, and we all have varying thoughts on what to share. Some don’t share anything at all! Each individual gets to create his/her own public/friend-facing world.
But it is hard to remember sometimes that that photo you see of the family in a ‘perfect’ setting with a ‘perfect’ pose is a moment that has been planned and directed. The flawless makeup-ed woman overlooking the beach isn’t telling you about the hours it took to make that look, nor what she sacrificed to get to that moment. The announcement of a friend’s huge business deal didn't just happen overnight, but what months or years of sweat and tears are we not seeing?
It is important for our mental health to remember that social media is a way to share our lives, but it is thought out, filtered, captioned, planned, you can continue the list however you’d like. It is too easy to fall into the “her life looks so much better” trap, isn’t it?
Just a reminder. We can all use those sometimes, right? Not a single human on this earth is perfect, or anywhere near. Technology is a blessing in many ways but also a detriment. The more we use those critical thinking skills we learned back in high school (well, at least the Phillipsburg High School English department loved to emphasize these skills that I did not realize would become such a part of my life…anyone else?), the more we are prepared for the deluge of content facing us everyday.
One more tie-in to today: Since finding myself getting in my head with things this evening, I made the choice for the rest of the night to feel better than the earlier part of the day. We have a choice, and mindset is a powerful tool. I took a way-too-hot shower, did a face mask, put on my cutest and coziest pj pants, lit the lavender candle, and am writing to you :) Simple things-- but aren’t those the ones that make such a difference day-to-day?
So if anyone is finding your day spiraling, I hope that you take a moment and see what the rest of the day could look like. Some changes are much easier than others, and some situations are indeed out of our control. But when you can change the outlook, do. It doesn’t have to be major. Cheers to candles and cozy pants with big band jazz playing along…
Annie Trinkle is the Founder and Executive Director of Animal Alliance . She took the risk in following her passion to help animals, leaving her corporate job in NYC, and ended up forming one of the largest private animal shelters in the state of New Jersey. She has an incredible team with her helping thousands of animals each year and says she has “the best job in the world”. I love her comments on creating a structure using your business sense, but then using your heart to lead you. And I was shocked to learn that she was once scared of dogs-- Talk about a turn of events!
I was blessed to meet Annie through adopting Lucy back in 2002, then Linus a few years later. The two rescue dogs brought so much happiness to my family.
We need all the good news we can get. In trying to do my part in keeping spirits inspired, S(M)GN is back. This time, with mini interviews about people following their passions, even if that means leaving behind a potentially more comfortable career path, and making people feel better along the way. (Shout-out to John Krasinski for inspiring this whole thing in the first place!)
S(M)GN episodes released each Friday.
Have stories of good news you know should be shared? Send me a message! @positively_kate
To the multi-hyphenates, freelancers, and non-9-5-ers: this one is definitely going to give you an extra boost today. Patrick Thornton runs his own Professional Writing & Editing Services business, while also writing for publications like Ranker, and working as managing editor of Ghost Proposal. Since beginning undergrad as an arts administration major, to realizing additional passions in the writing space and getting his MFA, Patrick is an incredible example of being open to opportunities and letting his path go its own unique way.
By following his heart, he has created a world for himself filled with utilizing his skills and passions in various ways, helping others along the way. In addition to his writing and editing work, his services include: creative content, SEO, grant proposals, resume consultation. On his website, you can find writings about everything from Victorian era hygiene to paranormal activity to Judy Garland!
From his first encounter with a successful, well-known author who told him, “nobody really knows if they’re any good,” he knew to take risks and go for it-- and it has worked out indeed! As he emphasizes, it takes courage, self-awareness, and vulnerability. In this episode, you will see how Patrick is a prime example of making a successful career out of following this guidance!
Welcome back to Some (More) Good News! S.2 Ep.4
I have been a part of the New York Foundling’s junior board for about eight years now, and this is how I crossed paths with today’s guest, Travis Welcome.
He is one of THE most passionate people I’ve ever met, the embodiment of living to help the world become a better place. Travis is the Senior Director of Programs & Innovation at Change for Kids. Prior, he was with Mott Haven Academy and The Felix Organization, and volunteers many hours with organizations including the New York Foundling.
With all the students he encounters, he strives to ensure that “each and every one of them has the ultimate world to succeed”.
Travis goes on to say, “One idea and the right resources— anything’s possible”.
You are not going to want to miss hearing from this inspiring man!
Facebook & LinkedIn: Travis Welcome
Universities dealing with the struggles of covid-19 in a show about good news?
Yes, because wait until you hear about the teamwork, creativity, and, most of all, care that has gone into this past year. And that window into the hope and love Butler and other colleges have shown was just a bonus on top of my chat with Meg--a person who is the embodiment of finding ways to make a difference every single day through her work and relationships.
Meg Haggerty is the Director of New Student & Family Programs at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN. So many emotions by the end of this interview. Teamwork to create unique solutions for keeping students learning and engaged throughout a growing pandemic, the mental health impact on all, and to hear how Meg and her team have been striving to engage students and find solutions to help them their physical and mental health.
The care (there’s that word again!) Meg shows for each and every person she encounters is so apparent, and she does such a beautiful job illustrating her journey and growth through Butler University, under the umbrella of always being ready to help others. As Meg says, you never know how much of an impact being you, your unique self, will have on others--and yourself. And, to highlight Meg’s favorite quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” by Maya Angelou.
People need people, and Meg is a fantastic example of going the extra mile to make a positive impact in the day-to-day, throughout a pandemic, within her work environment, and in her family. Enjoy.
Follow @positively_kate for more GOOD NEWS!
We need extra good news. I’ve been saying that since we started last March, but now there is the added layer of cold winter...so yes, we need extra good news.
In trying to do my part in keeping spirits inspired and happy, S(M)GN is back. This time, with mini interviews about people following their passions, even if that means leaving behind a potentially more comfortable career path, and making people feel better along the way. (Shout-out to John Krasinski for inspiring this whole thing in the first place!)
Episode 2 takes us to Lily Kirchner, from Chippewa Falls, WI, where she has recently founded Light For Autism Corp., a nonprofit dedicated to bringing awareness and advocacy to autism and early intervention, and to "provide funding for services, resources, and extra curricular activities to individuals who do not qualify under insurance, educational, and waiver guidelines".
Lily and her husband, Bryan, are parents to two wonderful boys, Jim and Will, both diagnosed with autism. They are forces for good in this world: showing nothing but love, and working hard to help their boys and many others.
If autism is new to you, here is a definition from Autism Speaks: "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today."
Lily is a light of hope and an amazing example of putting one's challenges into action for good!
Season one of S(M)GN may be found here.
New episodes released each Friday.
Have stories of following your passion you know would inspire others? Reach out! We need all the good news :)
Brain busy? Thoughts nonstop? Mind spinning? Feeling anxious?
Take a deep breath, turn on the video below, and calm down the body and mind for sleep...
As most of you reading this know, I love quotes and love sharing them. But I realized it's been a while since I've done a post here devoted to the fabulous images I have found over time and saved... What good are they doing sitting in a file on my computer? Let us let the #goodvibes out!
Disclaimer, these are not my works, but they certainly deserve to be shared!
Which is your favorite? Share on insta and tag @be.bykate for a shout-out ;)
Read, breathe, be inspired:
You never know the path a meeting will take...
Years and years ago, I was in a crowded audition room with a girl who had just moved to NYC. We started talking and saw each other at various auditions over the years.
Skip to 2020, and she has started a podcast with a fabulous newsletter attached called The Luxury of Self Care. She has been delivering inspirational and practical episodes, with wonderful reminders and tricks to add self care into our every day-- because we can't take care of others until we take care of ourselves.
When Ahnastasia asked me to be a guest, I of course said yes without hesitation. We had a great chat about how to take steps to become a healthier you in mind and body, and, as I harp on over and over, how EVERY BIT COUNTS!
Hope you enjoy this episode while taking a walk around the block or taking some deep breaths with a cup of herbal tea in-hand...
This is one of my favorite 80s playlists....One my barre classes requested often!
Hope you enjoy, and let me know what some of YOUR favorite high-ponytail-and-neon-clothing beats are...they may show up in a future playlist!
Yesterday I was interviewed for a podcast.
It was a great experience, and I was honored to be asked. We talked a lot about small, daily changes we all can make to work toward and healthier, happier life. But something in there got me thinking… Well, I suppose I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately, but hearing it spoken out loud by my interviewer brought it to the front of my mind. She mentioned people wanting to look past 2020, to forget it, to not think about it as we move into 2021. She’s right-- I’ve heard these mumblings often lately.
I just don’t think this is the right way to go about it, however.
“What does not kill us makes us stronger”
“Learn from your past”
“Experience is the teacher of all things."
I mean, people have been saying it for centuries-- ‘good’ or ‘bad’, every experience is that, an experience. And while they all are not pleasant ones, there are often takeaways to bring with us. 2020 has been terrible in a lot of ways. Lives lost, jobs lost, incomes lost, our world as social beings pulled apart, missed occasions and celebrations, the list goes on. None of this is to be diminished in its importance and severity, not at all. I just want to be sure we look back at how we have grown and what *light* has shown, as well.
This is one of those times I like to pull out a pen and paper. Go ahead, the blog post will be here when you get back.
Got it? Okay, so now write any and all positives you can think of that have occurred since March.
Need some ideas? Well here is my partial list:
-QTWJT aka quality time with Jeff Tente
-Gratitude in being able to see my parents when so many I know couldn’t
-Cleaning and organizing parents’ basement
-Walks because I wanted to walk, not because I was running to 10 commitments per day
-Technology allowing me to teach and train virtually, film projects, and take classes
-Helping some local restaurants getting take-out
-Saving money not having events to attend
-Time to write for myself
-Time to read
-Reading the news every morning (that’s never happened before)
-Researching so much into the entertainment industry
-Calls that hadn’t happened in prior years with my college friends scattered about the country
-More opportunities thanks to lessened schedules to visit some friends I’d not gotten the chance to spend as much time with over the years. Backyard or rooftop distanced meet-ups.
-Connecting with people through teaching Pilates online
-Becoming a better runner with gyms closed
-Having the time to stretch and foam roll and take care of my body better
-Getting to really enjoy the Christmas decor since I’m in the apartment all the time (lol)
Have any *bright spots* you’d like to share? Comment below.
And my challenge to you this week is to be a reminder to others of the good in the year...share a virtual smile, send a card, share a story of hope… <3
"The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power." -Harvard Health
"Grateful people are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor (Happier Human, 2018)."
Yep, there are studies done about gratitude. Quite a lot, it turns out.
The one above, from PositivePsychology.com, seems fairly obvious upon reading, but how often do we actually think about the benefits of simply being thankful? And if you do think about this often, then kudos to you! And if not, kudos to you for reading this and being tuned into the benefits!
I love the title of this study from Berkeley: "How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain". This study took nearly 300 people who were about to begin counseling, the majority of whom were going for issues relating to anxiety and depression. Randomly dividing into three groups, one just went to counseling, one was told to write in detail about their negative experiences, and the third was assigned to write letters of gratitude to another person each week.
"What did we find? Compared with the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counseling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. "
When I write down a list of what I am thankful for, how can I not feel brighter and more content after? In addition, when I randomly write someone a letter, I am filled with happy feelings. Have you experienced this? Or receiving mail from a friend, which fills me with happy gratitude, too. Or complimenting a stranger-- suddenly I have a smile on my face and feel a lightness as I walk away.
Two recurring themes to note: One is that a practice of gratitude takes time to reap all the positive effects, and that it does indeed leave a lasting positive effect on the brain.
So how are you practicing gratitude today, this week, this month? I'm sure you have many ways you can think of yourself, but here are some ideas if your brain needs some storming:
-write a thank you note to a friend
-look in the eyes of the cashier and say a warm thank you
-order from a small business on etsy and express your thanks in the 'note to seller' box
-write down a list of 'what I am grateful for'
-make a Joy Jar, writing down things that make you happy on slips of paper, put them into the jar, & pull one out when you need a smile
-hug a person in your household & thank that person for being there through this crazy time
-email an old professor or teacher to say something made you think of him or her, with a thank you for what you have learned
-find a gratitude phrase, write it out, place it next to your bed so as to start your day with gratitude
-follow my copy of Oprah & mentally say 'thank you' as soon as you open your eyes in the morning
I'm thankful for you reading this and spreading the love!
Stating the obvious too much to say there's an extra layer (or 10) of stress throughout the country this year??
There are many ways to help combat stress. Let's talk about one of them here:
Sit tall. Place your hands around the base of you ribs. Exhale all the air you can. As you slowly count to 8, inhale, feeling your hands being pushed outward by your rib cage as you do so. You sit taller still. Then just as slowly, exhale the air back out.
Do it again.
Do it one more time.
How do you feel? If you say even 2% better than you did one minute ago, I'll be happy!
I am fascinated by what breathing can do to calm us and energize us. (Not the energy that comes from a 'fight or flight' feeling, but the healthy energy of being ready to seize the day!)
Many experts have variations on breathing patterns to put into practice to calm the body (specifically, calm the parasympathetic nervous system), and it comes down to not the exact number of counts you inhale or exhale, but that you are mindfully slowing and controlling your breath.
For example, the above exercise in breathing. Maybe 8 counts felt too much for now? Start with counting to 4 slowly. Want to add another layer? Hold your breath after the inhale for 4-8 counts.
Today I took a gyrokinesis class for the first time. Talk about getting the body's natural energy stores going through breath. That is the basis of this technique.
Granted, any movement of the body helps to get the blood flowing, sending oxygen, increasing endorphins...but what I find neat about gyrokinesis is, well let's just give you the definition right from the source: "is a movement method that addresses the entire body, opening energy pathways, stimulating the nervous system, increasing range of motion, and creating functional strength through rhythmic, flowing movement sequences."
Sleep: Oh sleep. Stress goes up, sleep seems to goes down. Try the aforementioned breathing exercises as you are lying down in bed to help calm the body and mind. Google can give you a plethora of versions.
Again, it comes back to slow and controlled breathing.
One last thing--
This was too timely not to share.
A friend through the entertainment industry has created a podcast called The Luxury of Self-Care. In a recent post, she wrote the following:
(n) A state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility.
Doesn't that just have the most delightful ring to it? Let us all keep taking steps in the direction of ataraxia. Today, that's to slow down our breathing and calm the body.
Let me know how it goes for you :)
"There'll be days like this, my mama said."
You know the song? When I'm having a sort of a 'blah' day, I think of this line...It makes me feel a bit better. We all have 'days', we do...Not talking major issues, just those days when you feel a bit blue. Even the most motivated people we can think of don't always feel like being productive and 'on' every single day. But if we keep our mind on our goals, as well as remind ourselves of what helps us out of 'those days', it can do wonders.
Below is a tale of a day like that.
I got out to run today. Well, this evening. It took hours to get myself to commit to that. I just wanted to lie down, or to eat a bad of chips... But you know, I find both of those things are sweeter after I've accomplished some things ;) What's more, usually once this body gets moving, the tiredness & food cravings dissipate...
Now don't go thinking I ran a marathon...'All' I did was tell myself to get out there, rain & fatigue & all, and run for 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes!
15 minutes for ME.
What does it really come down to, especially when people are just starting this health journey? Is it the specifics of the workouts? Not so much(!). What it really comes down to is JUST GETTING STARTED. Each day, making positive choices that will continue to lead us on a healthier path. Once that is routine and feels a part of our schedule, then we can hone in on more specifics. But if we are not moving our bodies because A. we are having trouble convincing ourselves to move at all, or B. we are paralyzed by the idea that we have to do an hour/a spin class/a HIIT workout/something major, then we can fall into the trap of doing nothing at all. Please don't! Do ANYTHING! As long as it is safe, of course. Just move. Dance around the room, walk, find some stairs and go up and down while listening to a podcast, run for 'just' a few minutes....
And does that 'blah' day start to feel a bit better?
It was raining. It was cold. But wow do I feel better now!
(And, made it to 16 minutes ;) )
No matter what 'level' you are in your fitness, physical or mental, we all have days that are more challenging than others. Today was one of those days for me. But the mental aspect of getting out that door combined with the endorphin increase of moving turned the day around. And now I sit and write this to you, hoping that it might inspire someone out there in some way...
Small steps lead to big changes!! Take a step today.
Maybe you took the stairs. Maybe you took a 20-min nap. Maybe you are headed out to an evening walk with your dog. Maybe you are making a healthy dinner instead of pizza. #EVERYBITCOUNTS
Take a step, and be proud of yourself for doing it!
Please share your steps in the comments--they deserve to be celebrated!
Because we REALLY need some good news.
And it's out there. It is! We just might have to look a little bit harder at times...
Join me along the Hudson River in October 2020 in Manhattan:
I love finding healthy snack gems while in various grocery stores and specialty shops. Thought it was about time I shared some with you! And while we are here, do leave a comment if you have other favorites I missed! Always appreciate getting new ideas!
There will be some repeats here from my prior post on healthy eats on-the-go and more added in. Decided to go give you a visual as well and went to Whole Foods and Duane Reade this morning! Here we go:
Raw almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried fruit (no sugar added!)
What to look for: ingredients that 'make sense' aka real food, no chemicals or 'fake' sugars, etc. High protein count. Low sugar. Aware of calorie content as it plays into your full day (some protein bars can be 250 calories +!)
The best bar around I have found. Some complain of the texture getting caught in teeth. I say, worth it. Lol. But your call ;)
I also like breaking it up into small pieces and mixing it with a bowl of fruit....like a portable granola in a way....
-KIND Bars - the low sugar options
Yes, even in one 'type' of bar, the range can be wide. Some have 5g of sugar, some have 16g. Make wise choices.
-As you see in the video, there are so many coming out on the market, I know I am missing some! To reiterate and add a few other points, look for:
no soy, lower sugar, higher protein, real ingredients, and what the overall calorie content is.
-Gluten Free Bites
(The prep-in-advance version is making these on your own, super easy!)
I had these with me on my wedding day, as they are easy on the stomach, a sensible set of ingredients mixing energy-boosting qualities, and easy to pop in my mouth when my blood sugar starting going low. Definitely helped on the long but incredible day!
While I hesitate to get smoothies from smoothie shops because I don't know all the ingredients, some do indeed post the details. Note sugar, protein, etc.
Great grocery store finds:
Wow this brand is my new favorite find. While they utilize monk fruit, a sweetener that does not really contain sugar, my research so far has found this to be better and quite frankly fine,
Check labels as some have higher fat and sugar content than others
Same as above. This is my other favorite in actuality!
Bananas, apples, oranges, so many on-the-go options!
-Grocery store to-go sections
From hard-boiled eggs to healthy salads to plain grilled chicken, see what you can find.
What are your fav snacks on-the-go?? Comment below!
Keep moving with this six-minute upper body attack!
Want arms that are long & lean, strong & toned?
Add this to your cardio (& healthy eating) 2-3x per week