8 Things I Need To Thank My Big Brother For

8 Things I Need To Thank My Big Brother For

6. Setting a "good" example of what not to do

One of the things I am most thankful for that God has given me is my older brother. He is my best friend, buddy, brother, and protector all wrapped up into one. We have the closest bond of all of my siblings in my eyes and having him around is one of the best things ever.

So, Dan, here are 10 things I need to thank you for.

1. Being weird

With you around, I feel way more normal.

2. Your sense of humor

You have turned many not so good days into great ones just with your witty sense of humor and absolutely ridiculous one-liners. I could be in the worst possible mood over the most dramatic thing in the world and you say one thing and I can't help but crack a smile. You sure know how to entertain people and you certainly have entertained me over the past 19 years.

3. Your strange, yet incredibly helpful, advice for each milestone in my life

Every single time you have given me a piece of advice, it has come off very random and funny (i.e. when I went into high school you said "just don't be a whore" and here I am, now graduated and that was some of the best advice ever), yet in the long run was super helpful.

Now, in college, you encourage me to "find a sorority that has weekly book club meetings or something weird and actually get out and DO SOMETHING other than study." Despite the fact that on the surface that just looks like you are giving me a hard time, I know underneath that you just want me to stay true to myself while having fun and making friends.

4. Always looking out for me

As an older brother, you are kind of just born into the role of protecting me. You have always been there for me. You told me what boys to stay away from and what not to do at parties. Despite how goofy and funny you were, you really cared and looked out for me as well.

5. Being my confidant

This one goes both ways. I tell you everything. If you find out I didn't mention something you wonder why I didn't tell you. The same goes for you. I mean maybe we don't tell each other everything cause there are some things you just don't tell your brother, but I have always been able to talk to you about anything. Our late night conversations are some of my favorite memories.

6. Setting a "good" example of what not to do

You were the first born so naturally Mom and Dad had no idea what to expect and neither did you. But boy did you test their limits and push their buttons. So, thank you for showing me exactly what not to do and being the PERFECT example of how to get into trouble. I credit my fantastic record of being a good student and not so troublesome child to your example.

7. All the crap you give me

I would like to say most of the time I have pretty thick skin and I owe that to you. Through the years you have made me so aggravated by some of the things you say to me, but most of the time I end up laughing about it. I could walk downstairs and barely be awake for an hour and you would make fun of me somehow. It never hurt me because I would just dish it right back.

8. Making sure I know my worth

It is no secret that my insecurities get the better of me and I get down a lot. You, however, have a funny way of picking me back up without even knowing I am down. There are countless cards and letters from Confirmation, graduations, and other milestones where your more serious side comes out. You always tell me how beautiful, and strong, and independent I am and you encourage me to always be myself and love myself. Your words of encouragement have gotten me through a lot of bad days.

You have been the best big brother ever throughout my life. We have been through a lot together and I am so happy to have you in my life. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me. Love you buddy!

Cover Image Credit: Caitlin Johnston

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A Letter To My Dancers

Everything your dance teacher wants you to know.

When anyone (especially a child) chooses to invest their time, talent, and passion into dancing, it's nothing to take lightly. These kids spend more time with me at the studio than they do at home with their parents. Before long, they're my "kids," too. When I only have an hour to lead a warm-up, teach choreography, and rehearse a number, there isn't much time to express the thoughts and feelings I'd necessarily like to. Being a dance teacher is the most spectacular and rewarding job - and I want my students to know that. Between the great rehearsals and the frustrating ones, the competitions and recitals, and the endless hours we spend together each week, there are just a few reminders I need to share with them.

Dear Dancers,

Please love yourself and love what you do with every ounce of your being. Do it with so much passion that your heart wants to burst. Dance is the most special thing; it's something we are privileged and lucky to have, so don't take it for granted.

Please believe in yourself. You are worthy. You are talented. You are strong and capable of everything you set your mind to. Strive to be the best version of yourself every day, not the reflection of the girl next to you. Dance like you. Move like you. Experiment and find what makes you, you. Be an individual. Trust me when I say I don't want 20 carbon-copied robots. I want you.

Trust that I have your best interest in mind. Sometimes my choices and decisions won't make sense, you might be confused, hurt or frustrated, but keep the faith that I'm on your side. I don't want to see you fail, and I'll do everything in my power to help you find the success you're looking for.

I want you to succeed, but for me to do that, you need to tell me what you need. Do you need the counts again? Do you need me to review the transition to floor one more time? If you understand, tell me. If you don't, tell me that, too. Be vocal, be present, be smart, and be prepared. Practice on the sides. Pay attention to the small details. Ask questions. Don't be late, and definitely don't forget your choreography. Take responsibility for your responsibilities and lead by example. Do you have any remote idea how many children look up to you? Who want to be just like you someday? Dance just like you? Kids watch, listen, and copy. Make sure the behaviors you're teaching them are behaviors you're proud of.

Make memories with your dance family while you still can. Cherish every 9 a.m. Saturday morning rehearsal, every competition you attend, every fundraising event, and every team sleepover. It'll be gone so fast. You're going to miss these days. Please, enjoy them.

Don't compare yourself to other dancers. You are you, and nobody can do "you" better than yourself. Don't wish away your abilities by secretly wishing you had Suzie's feet, Betsy's port de bras, or Charlie's center. The only thing you need to worry about is being a better version of yourself than you were the day before. You are your only competition, so don't be too hard on yourself. Be kind to your mind and body. You work day in and day out to perfect your craft and artistry. You work to mold and create yourself. You'll be rewarded with time if you keep fighting and don't give up. Usually when you want to throw in the towel, it's after you don't get the part you wanted or you don't make the team you hoped to. What you need to understand is the answer isn't "No," the answer is "Not yet." You know you're trying and working hard, and those efforts don't go unnoticed -- even if it seems they are.

Please, remember that it's not going to always be fair. You're going to be let down, and you're going to feel disappointed from time to time. You're not always going to win the trophy. You're not always going to get the featured solo part, and not everyone can be the front row and center dancer. This doesn't mean you're "bad" and this doesn't mean you're not "meant" to dance either.

Quite frankly, it's just how it works, you guys. It doesn't mean I don't like you, and it doesn't mean the dancer who does have the solo is my favorite. The dancer just might be more talented. Yeah, I said it. They might have better lines, straighter knees, or stronger stage presence, and that is entirely okay. You're going to run into this for the rest of your adult life. Someone is going to be smarter, more qualified, more desirable for a particular job or position. So instead of despising and resenting these dancers (and especially me), try to learn from them instead. You'll learn more from each other than you could imagine. But if you take away one thing from this, know that you are still worthy of my best training, my best analogies, my best choreography -- whether you are featured, in the third row, or even off-stage for the turn section.

As your teacher, it's my job to teach. Learning (and learning correctly) requires close attention to detail, incredible focus, and a plethora of corrections on my part. Yes, I will go out of my way to critique you, and I will continually tell you what needs fixing until it's fixed. I might have to tell you over and over and over again. And you know, I might even get frustrated with you once in awhile because of it, but here's what you need to understand: This doesn't make me mean or a bad teacher. This doesn't mean I hate you. What it does mean is that I see potential in you and I want to help. I just have to ask, do you see what I see in you? Do you see the talent and abilities I see?

Corrections are good. Success is an incredibly long and never ending process that takes time, but the corrections I give you are helping you get one step closer. So next time you catch yourself getting upset about receiving the same critique week after week or you want to complain about how mean I am, please remember that my intent is not malicious. I'm doing my job.

It's also my job to instill perseverance, dedication, discipline, trust, humility, confidence, creativity, bravery, and strong work ethic into you. I want to push your limits. Test you. Challenge you. I want to mold you into the person you want to be. Even though you probably don't even know who that person is, I do.

There are so many possibilities, opportunities, and challenges that are out there once you enter the world of adulthood. The dance world is so much bigger than your studio, competition routines, and conventions. At the end of the day, no one remembers or cares (especially your future employers) if you won a quadruple diamond platinum plus on your lyrical solo in 2016. They don't care about your first place overall at Showbiz. They don't care if you're Teen Miss Winner of the World. They don't care. What people do care about is your character, your heart, and how you made them feel.

Dancers, I will always support you. Whether you want to pursue a professional dance career in Los Angeles or New York City, in a company overseas, on your college dance team, I will support you. Whether you want to teach dance or choreograph locally in town, I will support you. Whether you don't want to dance at all and maybe be an engineer or a cosmetologist, I will support you. I will always fuel your dreams, goals, and desires, no matter where they'll take you.

I love you and I'm proud of you.


Your Dance Teacher

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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