Getting Back to the Basics

I work best when I have a schedule and tasks to complete. Due to my free flow personality, I know that I can only be efficient and productive when I create that disciplined environment for myself. A massive player in my schedule is my morning routine. What my morning routine has looked like over the past few months is sad in comparison to my morning schedule a year ago when I was healthy and dancing fulltime. Part of my schedule while I was healthy was waking up before the sun rose to workout before I started my day at dance. When I injured my back, my routine became very out of sync.

Months later- I feel unruly.

I feel all over the place.

With so much going on externally, being disciplined in my own life helps to minimize the craziness around me. It is time to get back to the basics. Here are a few things I am working on:

I am pushing myself to go to bed on time- not two hours later than I usually do. Because I have not been waking up at the crack of dawn, my schedule has shifted and I have become a night owl. I do not work well at night, but for months, I have not tried to change this sleep aspect. Since I am going to bed earlier, I am trying to wake up earlier and start the day with my body moving with some form of non-straining exercise like a walk or yoga. I finish my morning routine with meditation and reflection.

This morning routine then sets the tone for the rest of my day. It has been incredible to be back on the trail here in Austin as I take a morning walk. I walk for over an hour each day while I meditate and listen to relaxing music. Stretching after the walk allows my body to lengthen before I get to my work for the day. In just a week, the results have been extrordinary. In turn, I am more aware of myself as I march through the day. Sometimes I just need to hit that reset button and reassess how I am living out my life. 

DIscipline is not easy especially for me because I love doing everything and trying anything. I am bouncing all over the place. Results will show that when I discipline myself, I succeed. I like to succeed and I like to be calm while I live my life. Since that is important to me, I am trying to build that discipline in my life because I see the importance it has for me. 

I am not doing anything special, I am just going back to what works for me. I am going back to the simple ways that make me grow and learn in the best manner possible.  What is your morning routine? I would love to know what you do to start your day! Let me know below!

Living My Dreams Two Years Later- Kind Of

On April 6, 2016, I accepted my first professional dance contract with Ballet Austin. For two years, I lived in Seattle and trained for hours every day to improve my technique while performing incredible ballets. I wrote about my life in Seattle and pursuing dance as a profession. This blog, before I rebranded it to MatthewGattozzi.com, used to be called, TheOdysseyChasingtheDream.com. Seattle was an odyssey to catch my dream, but I did it. IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

The last two years have been wild! 

The work that I have been able to perform has been incredible. The people I have met are world-class friends. I have made memories that will last forever. 

BUT-

To be honest,

I was not planning on this injury or any of the hardships I have encountered like depression or my car accident. These troubles have played a significant role in how I have lived my life the last two years and have defined how this dream that I caught two years ago has played out. I am very public with my life, and you can look back and see the craziness that I have faced. This is not the life that I imagined two years ago when I signed that contract, but I would not want to change it for the world.

I really believe I am living my dreams and pursuing what I want- but that is different than the dream that I caught two years ago. My life has changed drastically on a physical level, but I am trying to stay true to taking risks and continuing to learn about myself. I want to pursue growth and education regardless of what I am doing for work or where I live. Life is continually changing, and dreams are turning, but through that change, I am trying to stand firm in who I am. 

A lot of good has come out of my injury alone. Through all the work that I have done with Ballet Austin's marketing department, I have created a blog that was featured by Dance Magazine and Medium.com. The opportunities I have had within my time of being injured have been incredible! I am not living the specific dream that I caught two years ago- but the life that I am living now is better than I imagined it could ever be!

 Celebrating the end of physical therapy

Celebrating the end of physical therapy

Today, I graduated from physical therapy. I need to be cleared by my doctors before I am back to full responsibilities at Ballet Austin. The future is looking bright, and I am excited for what is to come. I am planning some big things- so stay tuned for what is next. Till then, enjoy this selfie of me celebrating finishing physical therapy. 

I am a Workaholic

Silence.

I have not had enough of that in my life recently.

With my injury and working extra hard to get back into physical shape while helping the marketing department out in Ballet Austin, I can exhaust myself without a break. No rest. Just going. I have loved what I am pursuing recently and even experiencing the craziness of South by Southwest. In doing so much, I have run away from my practice of meditation and stillness.

It was the afternoon of Easter, and I was sitting outside on the water eating brunch with a few friends. We just sat for a bit and took in the beauty of the day and calmness of the water. I realized that I had not done that in forever- just sit. If I am sitting, I am either working on my laptop, biking for my workout, or driving to an appointment. I have not sat down to just stop and rest for a moment. 

Today, after being inspired by the calmness of yesterday, I went out to paddleboard on the river here in Austin. I have never been paddleboarding, so that was fun and also terrifying because the wind happened to be very strong today... I almost blew over a few times. In between the craziness of trying to stay balanced and get back to where I started, I just focused on my breath and paddling. I was able to empty my mind for a bit. For the first time in a long time, I was not consumed with a million thoughts in one second about my life or other people. It was me and the paddleboard. It was special. It was relaxing. 

I am a workaholic. It can get nasty. I can obsess over one thing and spend hours and throw away responsibilities of my mental health. Do I accomplish a lot? Yes, but at what cost? Is it worth doing lots of things but losing yourself in the midst of it all? Stillness and silence put everything that we are doing in perspective. Meditation allows us to get away from being so up close to our lives and back away from life for a moment. I am not suggesting running away from life, but in fact, taking a rest for a moment. No one would ever want to watch a movie that is just a close-up angle for an hour and a half. The audience wants to see a balance of pictures and perspectives in a film. No one wants to listen to a speaker speak in a monotone voice. Sometimes in life, I can only have one angle or tone. I can comfortably live life without balance. 

I am not expert at how to meditate, but I speak from my need for it. I did not know I needed rest. I do not allow myself rest- I only move. Hopefully, even if it is for a few minutes a day, I can pursue this silence. A few minutes a day is better than no minutes at all.

Do you meditate or feel silence? How do you rest? I need help- let me know what works and does not work for you. 

Define Yourself

I care a lot about what people think of me.

I am a people pleaser.

This is my weakness. I can find myself making decisions based on my perception of what people will think of me.

I am insecure.

Currently, I am in some transition on what is next for my career that I cannot go entirely into detail about yet because I am working out a few things. What I can say is that I have been scared because I have cared about what people will think of me. Am I selling out? Will people support me? Will I be laughed at? These are a few questions that have been racking my brain. 

These questions have heightened my anxiety. My body has felt tense, and it has been hard to breathe thinking about all of it. 

But who cares?

Honestly- who are those people?

I mean, I love my parents, and I respect my friends A TON, but they do not live my life. I define myself and where I am going. This weekend I was watching a dance show, and a wave of relief washed over me. I was inspired by the dancing, and at that moment, all my concerns about other people went away. 

I am in a constant battle internally to fight outside sources of insecurity. Today, I won. Tomorrow, I go back out to battle. To win this battle, you cannot seek the approval of other humans. Proverbs 11:7 (NIV) says, "Hopes placed in mortals die with them; all the promise of their power comes to nothing." People can help you, but they are not your saving grace. Although I know that as true, I tend to make decisions as if people are my saving grace.

Are you living your life or are you living a life that you perceive as good based on what you think your peers will think of you?

Are you taking the risks that you want to take or are you making decisions that make you feel safe with those around you?

I have been scared to take risks in the last few months. I have wanted to play things safe. I have wanted to please other people. Last Thursday, I turned 22- Happy birthday to me! What I realized about 22 is that time is on my side. I have time to fail. I have no obligations to anyone. I cannot get to where I want to be if I paralyze myself with this fear of others. So bump that!

I can promise you that my 22nd year of life will be the most ambitious year of my life. I am ready to jump out of my comfort zone. I am ready to define myself.

What are you going to do? Join me! I need help living this life. I cannot do this alone. I love meeting people and being inspired by their lives. What are some risks you will take in the next year? Let me know below! 

We Are Humans First

There is a lot of hate in the world.

I am not going to say that I know all the answers on how to fix the brokenness, but I must respond to the bombings in Austin. 

A few weeks ago, there were some bombs placed in the mail that killed 2 and injured one. A few days ago, I was at a South by Southwest event that was canceled due to bomb threats. Unfortunately, yesterday, another bomb went off and hurt two people. I wish I could say this is new for me but I experienced the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Why?

I see this happen and I cannot come to grips with one word- Why?

Bombings, violence, and abuse happen everywhere at all moments of the day. There are many factors in these Austin bombings. I cannot speak on the person who has done this because no one knows. We do not even know if all the attacks are connected or separate. In pursuing figuring out the why to this madness, I found myself falling on social constructs and how we as people separate each other.

Kids are not born with prejudices.

Kids observe, and they are nurtured. I feel like a lot of my adult life has been realizing the different prejudices and then pursuing breaking down those prejudices.

The one thing everyone in this world has in common is that we are all humans. 

I believe that that fact alone can mend indifferences. I am not perfect, and will hurt people but being human- that is beautiful. I think it is interesting that religions, which are supposed to be "unifying" end up being a catalyst to war. But Jesus did not preach for war. He preached empathy and to transcend social constructs, social rules, and social traditions. Jesus saw the human, not the color, gender, socioeconomic class, or religion. We have more in common with one another than we do differences. But what is crazy, is that we scrutinize those differences. If you have taken a history class or two, you would learn that most hate in the world stems from these differences. 

Loving others is hard.

To stay safe, people build up walls to separate themselves from having to deal with another person who is "different." People do not want to get uncomfortable to understand the differences which in turn creates more walls between humans. 

Many people in the history of the world have gone out to pursue loving humans. Jesus was one of many, and he displayed a level of empathy when he was with the Samaritan woman at the well. Samaritans were DISPIZED by Jews and also, a man should not be in contact with a woman like Jesus was at that time in history. Jesus did not see a Samaritan woman- he saw a human who needed to be loved. 

We are all humans that need to be loved. My goal is to pursue seeing humans as humans alone and to love each human equally. I am not the one that can stop bombings. I am not going to war or becoming a detective. But my battle is in my everyday life, and that is where I will fight. I hope that by loving those around me, people will be inspired to love those around them. 

I speak from a weakness- I speak from messing up. I have many prejudices that I am working on breaking! Join me! The only way we can beat hate is by love. 

Love wins always.