Canon’s The Big Moment with The New York City Ballet & George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker

There was a time when I had big dreams of growing up to become a ballet dancer.  Christmas times were once filled with rehearsals, Nutcracker performances and even missed school to tour with the Hartford Ballet.

A childhood dream fulfilled.

hartford ballet nutcrackerhartford ballet 1These scanned photos of the Party Scene in the Hartford Ballet’s Nutcracker were taken at the Bushnell Theatre in the early 90’s by my father  on a minature speed graphic with a very fine lens. My how technology has changed!

In retrospect, dancing up until my early teen years instilled in me a particular kind of dedication and perseverance for something that I was fiercely passionate about.  I never imagined that decades later I would have a dream day with The New York City Ballet: a big moment orchestrated by Canon.

With my friend Brianne –  I began my day at Lincoln center, venturing to the New York City Ballet’s sunlit rehearsal-studios through a corridor strewn with images showcasing George Balanchine’s ballets.  Prior to taking a ballet class, we received instruction on how to use the world’s most compact and light-weight full-featured DSLR: The Canon EOS Rebel SL1.  As a mother, writer and amateur photographer, carrying around my clunky and heavy DSLR is truly a labor of love.  I don’t want to compromise on image quality when working or capturing precious family memories.  I found the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 to be an ideal lightweight, portable camera with impressive image quality (in such a small body!).

Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City BalletCanon's The Big Moment with the New York City Ballet

When I viewed images of our ballet class led by New York City Ballet principal dancers: Abi Stafford, Jared Angle and Daniel Ulbrich I couldn’t help but laugh at the seriousness in my facial expressions.  Revisiting dance with the lull of an accompanying pianist, in a studio typically filled with renowned dancers of unfathomable dedication was overwhelming. 

Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City Ballet

The ballet class highlight most definitely came when we were treated to an up-close pas de deux of the dance of the Sugar Plum and Cavalier, gracefully articulated by Abi Stafford and Jared Angle.

Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City Ballet Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City Ballet

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 captured many of their movements beautifully.

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 New York City Ballet Dancers #BigMoment New York City Ballet Principal Dancers

The day ended with a backstage tour of the David Koch Theater and viewing of The New York City Ballet’s George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.  I have attended many different productions and always dreamed of seeing Balanchine’s choreography.  To say it was breathtaking, flawless and incredibly moving is an understatement.  It was pure magic from the moment I heard the familiar pull of Tschaikovsky’s score.  I tried to soak in every single element – The NYCB Orchestra, intricate set details, ornate scenery, elaborate costumes and brilliant dancers were mesmerizing.  It was more that I could have ever imagined from a live ballet.  I promised myself that I would return to Lincoln Center someday with my own little ballerina.  For now, I have a special gift for her tucked under our tree – autographed point shoes and memorabilia, courtesy of Canon. 

Canon's The Big Moment with the New York City BalletNew York City Ballet Nutcracker Sugar Plum Fairy

A Big Moment indeed.

Special thanks to The New York City Ballet, Canon USA Imaging, and the entire team that made this #BigMoment possible.  I was not compensated for this post.  I received transportation, lunch, a Nutcracker Ticket and gift bag. Images 3-7 and 10 are via Getty Images for Canon.  Image 11 is via Paul Kolnik.  As always, opinions are my own.


The Leaf Pile

It’s amazing how a scent can evoke the sharpest, deepest memories. Violet reminds me of my great aunt Nina, and pungent autumn leaves have a way of catapulting me back to my New England childhood.   My brother and I would spend hours constructing mountains of leaves and equal amounts of time diving in said mountains.  I was recently thinking about how I longed for my kids to experience some elements of a suburban childhood – but then realized that many organic experiences take place spontaneously, amongst little friends, instead of in isolated yards.

Both are beautiful. Different, but beautiful. 

Every day at nursery school pick-up, Adrian, his peers and big sister Lucia are drawn like magnets to the leaf piles on the church lawns.  The children eventually all emerge with grass-stained knees, leaves in every crevice and giant smiles.  We have a bit of a walk home from school which sometimes seems to take forever.  Adrian loves the satisfying crunch of a huge, crisp leaf beneath his feet.  Lucia walks in circles, creating a perfect bouquet of crimson red, burnt orange and bright yellow leaves.

Like most children, my kids have a natural connection to the earth.  Their infectious enthusiasm and desire to explore serve as reminders to slow down and celebrate each season.  Once again, my kiddos (and their beloved leaves) remind me that right now is what matters most



Little Healers

I’ve spent the past two full days alone with my little boy as his big sister was enjoying a mini vacation with her grandparents. He truly is getting to be quite the big boy.  He loves the playground, having me read the same story over and over again, and the mere prospect of getting a toy ninja from a gumball machine.  He pushed his sun-tired little body as much as possible today and finally collapsed in my arms for a necessary break.  He awoke smiley and rested.  And my day seemed to take on a different course – after holding him in my arms for so long.  Tiny healer indeed.


Living With Autoimmunity – #Lifescript {Sponsored}

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This is a sponsored post by me on behalf of
Shortly after moving into my first Manhattan apartment, I was stopped on the street by a reporter, inquiring about my favorite body part, for a story about female body image.   Without hesitation, I said, “My hands,  because in them, I see my mother“.  I found comfort in seeing a piece of my mother in myself, despite the fact that her hands cause her considerable pain as a suffer of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although I was previously diagnosed with two other autoimmune disorders, and genetically predisposed, I never imagined that I would receive the same diagnosis in my thirties., (a health resource for women) was recently introduced to me during a time when I was searching for supporting Holistic Research to help control and slow the progression of my Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I’m doing well and consider myself to be healthy.  I also often remind myself that my situation could always be much worse.  Always.  But as I’ve had a bit of consistent pain in a few fingers, I’m well aware of the fact that I need to get serious about an anti-inflammatory diet as I believe in the connections between food, environment, and chronic systemic inflammation.

To be honest, there are times when I’ve wondered what I did to make my body create antibodies that attack my own healthy cells.  But in some strange ways, living with autoimmune disorders, including RA, has empowered me to be more conscious of my choices on a daily basis.  I regularly get acupuncture, take supplements and tend to my health in other ways.  I have to be mindful of my sleep, create time for exercise and connect with supportive friends.  Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet is my next step.  And perhaps now I’ve created a way to hold myself accountable.    

I’ve found the below articles relating to Rheumatoid Arthritis to be helpfulAnd please feel free to pass on any information in the comment section if you are so inclined:

A Chef’s Solution For Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tips
Top Lifestyle Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Moments Alone In Motherhood

Although my children are no longer tiny babies, there isn’t a whole lot of child-free leisure going on.  My days are usually pretty fragmented with little time for recuperation when needed.  But once in a great while, I find myself alone, seeking solitude within.  Moments of clarity occur in the grocery isle, the shower and the trips home from acupuncture.  Inner silence is often found while walking down a busy street.  And when those fleeting moments in my own space and time are over, I’m convinced that I return to the people I love a better person because of them.

Today took me to a beautiful lunch alone, in NYC’s Bryant Park.

The Vault

It is incredible what our children retain.  Their capacity for reiterating stories back to us at the most unexpected times is extraordinary.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that my children are literally tiny vaults of encapsulated memories, constantly conjuring up elements from days past.

“We’re going to SESAME PLACE!!!!” Adrian screams every time we drive through a certain spot on the BQE.  “Remember when you made me wings, bought me a cookie, blew bubbles in the park, talked to the old lady with the doggie, and read me the story about the glittery mermaids?!”.  How can she possible recall the sequential order of a day that took place years ago? A day that felt rather random to me, yet clearly significant to her.  

I have a handfuls of memories I vividly remember from when I was Lucia’s exact age.  Like when I’d image in Kindergarten that my cubbie had the pretty rainbow painted on it and not the caged Lion that was assigned to me.  I remember that my friend A frequently peed in her pants and didn’t understand why F‘s tush was always peeking out of the top of his jeans.  I remember visiting my mother’s family in Colombia for the first time and begging my Tias to take me to see the movie Annie in English.  But mostly, I think of my mother and her ability to guide me and my brother with steadfast grace and compassion.  Traits I hope to emulate in my own motherhood.

School vacations always have a way of making me reevaluate my role as mama. Free of schedules, our days are fluid, filled with outdoor play, messy crafting and family-time.  I’m reminded of how Lucia and Adrian simply need to be kids and small gestures can make their days feel magical. 

My husband and I are a solid team, but recently, life’s challenges have been getting the best of us.  It feels impossible to practice “calm begets calm” when I honestly just want to scream, and the big girl still doesn’t have her shoes on after asking several times.   It’s been hard for my husband not to be short and stern when external stressors are no longer few and far between.

Then I observe my Lucia mimicking my frustration, and I watch them both be little bosses to one another.  Soon they retreat back to their biggest influence, seeking comfort found in mama’s arms. 

Sometime we need to step back and reassess the roots.  We need to reflect on our collective intentions and the foundation upon which we built our little family. Our future actions will continue to bear flaws, but accountability, and perseverance to amend can be part of our legacy.

We somehow always return to spontaneity and fun, and Marino-style family dance parties.  And we do our best to reflect what we want them to emulate, with remembrance that each new day carries memories in the making.