When something scares you

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I’m really good at trying new things and meeting new people. Booking a class, or going to a meet up doesn’t scare me. Getting my ass over my head on a steel hula hoop kind of scares me – this is something that always gave me problems when I did aerial silks in Toronto. I have a whole lot of badonk (my bottom) to get up in the air compared to the other men and women in the class. I faced this fear today. I had lots of difficulties getting upside down, but I didn’t let it hurt my ego – I just kept trying and let the attendant/instructor help me when I needed it. I surprised myself. I left with worn hands and a sore body, but a happy mind and heart. I didn’t get any of the more beautiful poses/moves but I did get this photo in as the instructor was talking me into letting go with one hand. I did. I didn’t fall.

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When I feel scared in new situations I say to myself: I love myself. I got this. I’m confident.
I walk up to the instructors and ask their names. I offer to take photos for classmates since they are just as scared as I am.

I accept where I am today, how flexible I am, how far I can go, how much help I need. Because it’s okay to be a beginner. It’s ok to learn and need help. It’s brave to try something new and foreign. I think it’s important as a dance teacher to feel what it feels to be a beginner and to embrace that humility. I’m a beginner at ballet (ish), at stuff where I hang in the air, at speaking French – don’t let fear stop you from trying new things, meeting new people and letting go of the proverbial hoop. It’s left me feeling rather inspired (and sore – Ow!).

I need a budget

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In the run up to 2016, I have realised that I need a budget. Also my dad gave me this article from a Canadian Newspaper the National Post about Personal Finance. I have always believed ‘oh I’m not good with money’. Somehow this universal ‘truth’ means that I sheepishly don’t look at my bank account balance or credit card bill until I absolutely have too. I’m tired of feeling money shame. Like I’m not a ‘grown up’ or that ‘I’m always behind’. Like I mentioned in the goal setting post, I like systems. I’m good at systems. Why can’t I apply the same approach?! Again, I thought you might be interested in what I’m doing to get myself organised and saving for 2016. Some of these thing may seem obvious – but I figure I can’t be the only one who needs help in the financial literacy area.

2016 – I am good with money, have savings and am financially literate.

1. I let go of my personal money shame. I am open and honest with people who love me and ask for support from those who I perceive as ‘good with money’. I have a  few gurus in my midst who already have offered their support and personalised spreadsheets. I need their sage advice and I need to listen.
2. I buy myself a fancy coffee (we are talking soya latte here) if I’m in a meeting or it’s the weekend.
3. I cook myself a meal three times a week. I love cooking. I often say it’s the way I measure how well I’m taking care of myself. Whether it’s two dinners and a Sunday brunch – it all adds up. And sometimes it is actually cheaper to eat prepared stuff then what you make…but I always feel more nourished by my own cooking.
4. I save money for travel before I spend it. I have definitely ‘found’ ways and means to make big trips happen in the past and I’m over the worry and creative approach it takes to afford it off the cuff. I travel to teach/perform/work etc., but not for leisure until May 2016). May is my 30th Birthday and I would love to do a bit of travelling but that means I have to have everything saved up.
5. I track everything. Like everything. Without judgement, without shame. I just input all my receipts into my google spreadsheet and keep an eye on my available savings. I need to make this a habit and that will take several months and some discipline.

What do you do? How do you save and stay on top of your finances? I would love to know. I often think we don’t share enough best practices in this area. It’s like mental health – we are all hush hush. Would anyone like to have a monthly meet up to review how we’re doing? I’d actually love that. Happy New Year and happy savings!

I’m a nerd – goal setting 101

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When I was 18 I worked for athletic apparel company, Lululemon Athletica. I had the gift of working with wildly colourful people AND I got to wear yoga pants and trainers to work – score! The main thing I took away from working with Lulu was how to set goals. I’d write SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound) goals around my 1 year, 3 year and 5 year aims. It’s interesting to look back on what was important when I was 18. I was way more focused on owning property and stuff. I’m in the process of revamping my goals for the next little while and thought it might be helpful to share some steps in case the idea appeals to others.

1. First, think about what your life looks like in 5-10 years (pick one timeframe). Write down personal, career and health headings. Make some notes under each heading of what you envision, what you want. Who’s there? What would you want it to look like, feel like?

Now in a few sentences write it down as if its happened or happening. Example: I own a two bedroom flat. I make hats for dogs (or something like that). Complete this for all three headings. Personal can be relationships, friendships, mental health, physical health, wellbeing etc.

Be honest and be bold – this is for you, not for anybody else.

2. Then, under each heading write down 5 years and think about and write what you would need to do then to achieve that vision. Make sure that they are tangible and measurable goals.

3. Then, write down what you’d need to do 3 years from now to achieve that 5 year framework…then 1 year…then 8 months…then 3 months.

Suddenly, if you’re goal is own a house (an easy example) – you have a road map of how the $50 you save each month is adding up to your deposit/downpayment. Or taking out a small loan to pay it back in full to build credit so you can get a mortgage. Or researching property value and demographics for up and coming neighbourhoods! It all counts. We are all looking for patterns to feel like me make progress – sometimes reminding yourself that small acts add up to a bigger more meaningful gain can help you feel motivated and accomplished. Also, if your goals change….THAT’S FINE. That’s more than fine. That’s human. (If you want more details or a worksheet go here).

If I was still holding myself to the rigor of my 18 year old Nancy’s goals, I’d probably be a very unhappy musician. You change. You grow, so do your goals. Making time for yourself to think about what you want, what inspires you or where you could go if nothing held you back is exciting and freeing. Don’t view it as a series of tick boxes, but rather an informed guideline meant to help you distill and create your best life with people who challenge and inspire you in the right ways.

I’m finding it really interesting and hard to think about what I want next. Partially because my life has changed so much. My career has changed a few times over and I’m only 29. I don’t know if this helps you, but try it. Even for one year from now. Christmas 2016 – what will you have embarked upon? Wishing you and your loved ones a very festive holiday season – a prosperous New Year and many cups of tea with those you love.

Hard talk: what conversations should we be having?

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With all the European Swing Dance Championship madness, I feel like I haven’t sat still in six months. Thanks to the vision of the event director, Sharon Davis, I had the unique opportunity to curate a series of lectures around the big picture of lindy hop. I tried to put together talks and topics that hit a number of notes like: health and wellness, conflict resolution, design in dance, community building, business best practice and historical perspectives. It was small – only five lectures, but meaningful. It did however leave me wondering about bigger conversations we want to have. Conversations around ‘value’ – whether business related for organisers and teachers or ethos related around role and gender, conversations around ‘power’ and what it means to be a role model in our scene – or any talent based discipline. I like bringing people together to discuss hard topics, to find the words and understandable language to improve understanding and empathy. I guess I want to know what you want to talk about? How can we keep the conversation going? Do you need help? How can we help you? I don’t mind moderating to facilitating the ‘hard talk’. It’s not about me, Nancy Hitzig, it’s about all of us and how we relate to one another and promote kindness, respect and personal ownership.

I’ve made a career around hard topics of conversation: money, legacies, wills and estates, human resources – artistic projects, dreams, schemes and everything in between. I don’t why that is. Maybe because I feel a relative amount of distance between myself and the cause or activity I’m fundraising for? Maybe because I’m often bringing an artistic vision to life and I don’t let myself feel bogged down with someone else’s perception of me? Whatever the cause, it often yields professional clarity or contractual clarity that makes it easier to deliver what I say I’ll deliver. There are so many topics we shy away from – perhaps we need to lean into them a bit more. Examine them with open hearts and heads and bridge the language/education/socio-economic gap…wouldn’t that be exciting? These are just initial musings, but I want to know – what do YOU want to address in the lindy hop community? What do you want to talk about? Let’s make those conversations happen with the right research, moderator and panel and in the most appropriate language where people can be heard. You tell me.

‘Bad news Jews’ and New Year tidings

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There’s a deli in Toronto owned by a good friend, Zane Caplansky and at Caplansky’s you can buy t-shirts that say ‘Bad news Jews’. It’s still funny!

It’s a whole year since I moved back to London to start my job with City of London Sinfonia and it’s the third year that I’m not together with my family for the Jewish High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the Jewish New year and subsequent Day of Atonement. Some of the holiest, or most important days of the year. It’s a time for reflection, family and most importantly, food. It’s really interesting to be a Jew abroad. British/English Judaism is different. It’s stealthier. Under the radar unless you live in specific Jewish communities. The fervent and public Jewishness of Toronto is virtually unseen here. I’ve always worn my North American Conservative Jewishness like a badge of honour. A statement of: I am a person who values community, family, charity and inclusion. Perhaps that’s an over simplified view, but I think it’s part of what makes me, well me. It’s the parts of me that people love, the parts of me that allow me love others with abandon and verve.

I’m not religious. In fact, I’m probably a pretty ‘bad’ Jew – but culturally it brings me such comfort and connection – to my family who are far away. To my grandparents who taught me some of my most useful lessons and to my ancestors who’ll I’ll never know. It ties me to something greater, not a deity, so much as a community. A spirit of togetherness. I miss that a little. It feels odd to not be with them and to be in a place that lacks the same kind of cultural awareness I’m used too. It’s not bad, it’s just part of the journey of finding my life in London and how my Jewishness fits into that bigger picture. I love Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because I like to reflect. To think about what my weaknesses are and how I could be better, be kinder and be more generous to myself and to others. I think it’s meaningful to ask others to forgive you for carelessness or downright meanness. I also think it’s important to go hungry sometimes, especially when there are millions who go hungry everyday.

I get a little weepy thinking about it all.Walking my grandfather to his seat. Hearing the cantor singing Kol Nidre next week and not holding my father’s arm in the uncomfortably air conditioned sanctuary at Beth Zedec. In those moments, we’re united with great and great great grandparents who listened or sang these prayers. There is such power in that collective memory.

Whatever your background or belief, it’s such a natural time to reflect and embrace Autumn, a kind of natural start to the year. I wish you an easy back to school or work from time away and a sweet 2015-16 with those you love. For those for whom it has meaning, l’shana tova.