Highlights o’ my Break

Today is my first official day back to work at the studio after a much-needed three week break.  It’s been an amazing break that I am deeply thankful for.  Many people don’t know that, for the first five years of me opening and running Reverence, I worked an additional full-time job.  That job was a huge blessing to me as a single person who owned a business and then Seth and I as we navigated the roller coaster ride of owning a business as a married couple, and I am really grateful for the Lord’s provision of it.  Because I had responsibilities at my other job, I was not always able to take off many days during the times that the studio was closed on a break, so I have really enjoyed being able to take off an entire three weeks last year and this year.

What did I do over my break?  I’ll sum it up in one delicious word: unhurried.

I spent lots of unhurried time with the Lord…
I spent lots of unhurried time with Seth…
I spent lots of unhurried time with my family and friends…
I spent lots of unhurried time outside…
I spent lots of unhurried time playing with Prince Caspian…
I spent lots of unhurried time reading, journaling, and watching movies (the kids at the studio were peer-pressuring me–haha–to watch all the Tinkerbelle movies, so I unashamedly did.  they were adorable)…
I spent lots of unhurried time sleeping (those who know me well know that I wake up between 5:30-6AM each day, and my “sleeping in” is considered to be 7:30 or 8AM.  You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there were several days where I slept in until 10AM!)

This is one of Seth's favorite pictures that he took of me, determining which way I would get to the gold in Skagway, Alaska.  It's hard to wrap my mind around, but gold fever is very much alive and active in Alaska today!

This is one of Seth’s favorite pictures that he took of me, pretending to determine which way I would get to the rumors of gold in the Yukon. It’s hard to wrap my mind around, but gold fever is very much alive and active in Alaska today!

You might also know that Seth and I went on a little adventure to Washington, Alaska, and Canada during this time as well.  These past few years have been pretty crazy-full, so we decided to take some time off during the studio’s off season this year and do some exploring of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  We’ve been wanting to go for quite some time, so we decided to save our pennies and just do it.  It was BEAUTIFUL.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Seth.  Ever.  We took it at the EMP Museum of Seattle in the sci-fi section.  Hilarious!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Seth. Ever. We took it at the EMP Museum of Seattle in the sci-fi section. Hilarious!

It was an amazing trip for many reasons, but it was really GREAT to be with Seth for 12 uninterrupted days.  It was really GREAT to be outside in nature and put all those things that have been clouding the periphery of my vision for the past few months behind me.  I had some GREAT times with the Lord–just praising and worshipping Him.  Seth and I sought the Lord together for our future, Reverence Studios, and more.  I came back with clarity on some changes that I need to make in my life and some boundaries that I need to put in place again.

Great trip.  Deeply blessed.  Great break.  Deeply blessed.  Ready to be back to work, but I said goodbye to the old workaholic, people-pleasing Kirsten who felt like she had to work 120 hours a week and justify every decision to every single person.  And you know what?  It feels good.  I’m still going to be the hard-working, determined, and compassionate person who God created me to be, but I’m turning 30 next week and it’s time to make some changes and leave the bad stuff behind.

Also.  I saw a humpback whale’s tongue up close.

At Mount Rainier National Park.

At Mount Rainier National Park.

We fell in love with Alaska.  I've never really said that the "air has agreed with me" in all the wonderful, amazing places I've been privileged to visit.  But it did here.  Alaska, we have a feeling we haven't seen the last of you.  :)

We fell in love with Alaska. I’ve never really said that the “air has agreed with me” in all the wonderful, amazing places I’ve been privileged to visit. But it did here. Alaska, we have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of you. :)

 

When All is Quiet on the Stage

People always ask me about my favorite moment of the recitals, and there are always many.  This year was no exception.  I loved the dance that one of my students did with a high school girl who is wheelchair bound (there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience…or backstage after they were done).  I loved all the unpredictable moments that happen with live performing…shoes and hairpieces flying off mid-routine, the little ones ordering their classmates around on stage, surprising the audience with different props and tricks and dancing down the aisles.  I loved the creativity and originality and worshipful spirit myself and all my staff put into their choreography this year (we try to take it up a level each year).  I loved the joy in all the dancers faces as they danced their hearts out.  I loved the atmosphere backstage (and I think this is the first year no dancer lost a tooth and handed it to one of the staff at the finale, haha).  I love seeing the students grow each year and all the years they have danced at Reverence.  I love feeling the Lord’s presence each year.  I love hearing the feedback from the audience about a particular dance that was especially fun or meaningful to them.  I love all the volunteers who give of their time to help out at these recitals.  I love to dance myself and give glory to God.  I love the feeling of victory–only by the grace of God–that I feel at the end of each show.   I love all that.

But, do you want to know my absolute favorite moment of recital day?

There is a moment that I take every single year after every single show to walk out on the stage.  It’s quiet then, that stage.  All the performers have left.  All the tape has been pulled up from the floor.  Pictures have been taken, flowers have been distributed, hugs and cheers have been given.  We’ve cleaned up all the programs left in the audience and searched for lost and found.  Seth has broken down all his camera equipment, my friends and family have torn down all the sales and backstage things.  I have said, “Copy that” into the walkie talkie one last time, garnering the laughter of myself and all my students since I do not know walkie talkie etiquette.  Everything is quiet in that moment that I walk out onto the stage one last time each year.

And there I stand, in the presence of my God, taking a moment to truly think of the magnitude of what just happened and giving thanks to Him for all of it.  That is my favorite moment.  Tears trickle down my cheeks as I think of all the feet and wheels that danced across this stage and how God used every single dancer.  And I am grateful for everything…the joys, the challenges, the imperfections, the people, and Reverence.  Nothing happened without Him knowing about it beforehand, and I am thankful.

People who have been business owners longer than me have often talked about the resilience required to be a small business owner, and it’s true.  Resilience is not formed during the easy times.  It’s formed during the difficult, challenging times.

And, only by the grace of God, here I stand.

Time

Is it really the end of April?  Is it really almost the end of the school year?  Time surely is a-flyin’ by and most of us don’t stop to realize how quickly it passes each moment…each hour…each day…each year.  One of my goals for 2014 is to stop and savor every moment…the large and the small, for they are all valuable and precious.

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” -Cecil Beaton

Even though we had snow and ice on April 1 (April Fool’s from Mother Nature, haha), the past few weeks have been shaping up to be beautiful.  We’ve had 80 degree days, 50 degree days, and a myriad of weather in between, so Seth and I have been trying out some different hiking trails in Central PA.  We love to hike, be together, and unwind from the week.

hiking 6

hiking 3

hiking 2

Prince Caspian has been thrilled that we’ve been able to have the windows open. He loves to creep on the neighborhood from his little bubble.

hiking 4

hiking 5

I always hesitate to write about how busy things are because, let’s face it…everybody is busy.  I don’t want to be the subject of a meme! :)  But, things are busy.  This is my ultra-busy season of the year, but it is also the most fun!  I love, love, love our recital season at Reverence because God always does incredible things!  It is so awesome to see the fruit of the labor the students, staff, and I have invested in throughout this school year.

Time is so precious! I pray that you would each savor every moment and live life to the fullest for His glory!

xoxo,

Kirsten :)

Friday Musings on Entrepreneurialship and Comparison

There is a joke among entrepreneurs that goes, “Entrepreneurs work 80 hour work weeks to avoid working 40 hour work weeks.”

It’s true, you know.  We bust our derrieres doing what we love because we love the challenge, the creativity, the joy of creating something new.  Entrepreneurs are risk takers.  We think differently and outside of the box.  We would rather work until midnight doing something that we love, something that we’re passionate about, something that is going to change the world than work until 5PM doing something that bores us out of our minds.  Trust me, I know.  I worked a 9-5 job for 7.5 years (pre-Reverence and during the first four years that Reverence was open) because I had those pesky bills to pay, a cat to pamper, and a life to live.  I learned so much at that job and I am so grateful for the years I spent there.  However, I knew that the risk of staying the same was greater than the risk of change, so the leap of faith to open Reverence was necessary.  And, six years down the road, I am grateful I took it.  I remember signing the lease to the studio space we have and feeling like I was going to throw up.  And I did throw up later (don’t judge–it was nerve-wracking!).

In commiserating with some other entrepreneurs, we laughed at some different misconceptions that people have of us:

1.  We work five hours each week and the money just rolls in.
2.  We sleep in until noon each day, roll out of bed and check our Facebook for a few hours before working in our pajamas.
3.  Our success was overnight/instant.
4.  We have it easy.
5.  We are billionaires.

The truth, however, is that it’s not easy.  We all work long hours, waking up early/staying up late, for free until our business gets off the ground.  More often than not, that takes many, many years of blood, sweat, toil, tears, failures, and more.  It hasn’t been easy to learn all these lessons.  In fact, it’s very humbling to learn them.  It’s a lot of heartache, insecurity, crying.  But it’s also an extremely rewarding thing to do.  I get so much joy out of every aspect of being an entrepreneur (even the things that I previously thought were boring!), and I know that I am making a difference for God’s Kingdom and eternity which is worth it to me.

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others.  At the beginning of Reverence, I used to compare myself to other dance studios.  They had more money that was just handed to them, they were in an umbrella organization, they had bigger spaces.  And then I just had to stop and say to myself, “Look at what God is doing in your tiny little space that HE provided for you.”  And I’ve been so much happier.  It’s also easy to compare OTHER people to others.  But it is so very dangerous.

Never EVER doubt that when God has given you something to do–whether it be in a leadership or entrepreneurial role, a 9-5 job, a job at home, being a stay at home parent, whatever it may be–that He will give you the power necessary to complete it with excellence.

Every day I have to walk confidently and boldly on the path that God has called me to walk.  And so do you.  Let’s run this race together!

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Opening a Small Business

If you are considering taking that leap of faith and opening your own business, here are some questions to ask yourself before you get started:

1.  Is there a need for your business?  Will you be adding value to the lives of your customers through your business?
Sure, you might be fulfilling your long-time dream, but is there a need for your business in the market?  Will you be fulfilling a niche?  Is the business you want to start a trend that will be outdated in just a few years, or will it last?

2.  Are you willing to wear many hats?
One of the things I love about owning my own business is that I get to do a beautiful combination of things that I love every day.  I get to teach, I get to be creative and choreograph, I get to do finances, I get to work with people, I get to manage a staff, I get to plan large events, I get to write, I get to develop curriculum, I get to mentor, I get to clean, I get to costume, I get to do PR, I get to teach workshops, I get to do so many different things.  And, I get to incorporate my faith–the driving force behind everything that I do–in every single aspect.  If you enjoy doing a combination of different things, then owning your own business might be a great fit for you!

3.  What are the costs and skills necessary to starting your business?  Do you have them already?  Do you have plans to acquire them?
Opening a business requires a LOT of funds.  It’s important to have a plan.  Are you going to take out a small business loan?  Save your own money?  Acquire investors?  What skills do you need to open a business?  Do you need to take any additional courses or certifications?

4.  Do you have a solid business plan?
Having a solid business plan is CRUCIAL to opening a business.  It’s important to map out the structure of your company, realistically crunch numbers, and create lasting goals and visions for your organization.  Each year I still pull out my original business plan and look at it to see if I’m on target with the original vision I created for the studio.

5.  Are you willing to change your entire lifestyle around?
When I seriously started praying about opening Reverence, I was working a regular 9-5 job.  I was able to teach dance and co-lead the dance ministry at my church in the evenings, be a part of a small group, lead women’s Bible studies, do volunteer work, date, and hang out with my friends whenever I wanted.  I had money.  I had a great life.  I had a safe life.  When I opened Reverence, the lines between personal and business blurred.  I started early in the morning and worked late into the night.  Reverence is like my child–I have stayed awake worrying about it and praying for it, I have invested blood, sweat and tears into it.  It is an extension of who I am.

Some people understood when I started saying “no” to activities, leading ministries, my usual dinners with friends.  Some people did not understand.  You are ultimately responsible  for everything that happens in your business.  There is a tension that needs to be managed in order to be a healthy small business owner–a delicate work/life balance.  It’s hard work.  Are you at a physical, spiritual, and emotional state to handle it?

6.  Is the risk of staying the same worth more than the risk of change?
Every entrepreneur needs to ask himself or herself that question.  My answer…after months of prayer and soul-searching…was that I needed to take the risk and open Reverence.  And you know what?  It’s been worth every moment.  When I look back on these past six years, every drop of sweat has been worth it.  Not because I’m perfect or have done things perfectly along the way, but because He has used Reverence to change lives.  And changed lives are worth it…