As usual, I am behind in getting these out, but better late than never. Overall it has been a pretty quiet but very eventful year for me…
I am still at CNB Bank in Ridgway. I have done training, so now I can open accounts for customers. I’ve officially been there for a year and am finally used to having evenings, holidays, and most weekends free. The only thing I can’t get used to? How much slower it is in comparison to working retail for 8 years.
The Release the Butterfly Tour is going strong. This is a benefit concert tour my Mom & I started in 2015 to raise money for FIRST (Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types). We go into the hometowns of other people with ichthyosis and put on an inspirational concert that, through the arts, shares my journey from insecurity to confidence. It provides an opportunity for the family’s friends and community to learn more about the skin condition, to raise money for a worthy cause, and to have the people affected with ichthyosis meet others like them, so they know they are never alone. Our first stop of the year was near Philadelphia, FIRST’s headquarters. This one was special to me as several of my college friends performed. Then at the end of summer we traveled to Greeneville, Tennessee to our dear friend Carlie’s hometown. Our last stop was our annual one in Lancaster with Bella’s family. I wish I could put into words what it is like to connect with these families. To date we have raised over $35,000 for FIRST through the tour! Already for this year, we are hoping to branch out to the West Coast and possibly even Canada, as well as hitting the cities of Pittsburgh and Baltimore (where some of our core team is from).
Once again, I am teaching dance at April School of Dance. This is my 9th year since college that I’ve taught. My pointe students are the highlight of my week. They bring me such joy. Their dance for the recital this year will be “Alice in Wonderland”. I’m going to be the caterpillar. I’m also finally taking classes for fun again…ballet, contemporary and tap. I took the last dance year off and it was so strange to not be in the recital. It was rough coming back, being a year older and all, but I’m glad I’m dancing again. I’ve missed it.
This year, my Mom released two original songs! She wrote them back in 2010 for a former voice student of hers, Tara Hart. The first one is called “Crushed Again” and is about a girl falling for her first boyfriend a second time, only to have it end again. The second, I helped co-write the lyrics. It is called “What Are You Doin’ With Him” and is basically what you’d want to tell a friend who is dating someone who is no good. If you’re interested in hearing them, you can get the songs digitally on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Youtube Red, etc. or you can let me know and purchase an actual CD from me.
At the beginning of 2017, I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by Josh Saunders of Caters New Agency. He came across some of my story on FIRST’s website and wanted to share it with the world. He was very patient with me as he sent me his drafts and I would write back corrections because I wanted to make sure my personal story and ichthyosis were portrayed in the right light. My story was released in three publications in the UK – Mirror, Sun, and The Daily Mail. I was even on the Snapchat daily story for The Daily Mail, right between a story on Ed Sheeran and one on Beyonce! Then Allure magazine picked it up and put the story on their website, and Yahoo did as well. If you’d like to read any of them, feel free to just Google my name with any of those and you’ll find it. At one point my story was even trending! I was receiving emails and messages from ichthyosis people around the world telling me how much my story and confidence has inspired them.
The biggest news of the year is that I signed with a booking agent, Remember to Breathe Studios owned by Herman and Amanda Locke, to begin my dream of motivational speaking! We are currently working on my website, video package, and fine tuning my message. I truly believe this is what I was born to do. I believe that God is going to open doors that I can’t even begin to imagine and that He will do more with this than I could ever dream. My goal is to start speaking to schools and colleges in the spring. I’m hoping it takes off and can eventually become my full time job. Please keep this endeavor in your prayers for me.
With much love,