The Weight

Dancer, Nicia John for The Ballet Brain Blog

Today, I’m a little bit overwhelmed. I’ve been in search of a way to practically allow the arts and sciences to set off a domino effect of interdisciplinary thinking as a daily routine in people’s lives. In the last three weeks, I’ve shared this idea with quite a few people, and it appears that there are crowds in search of the solution that lies at the end of this search. This art-science initiative impacts so many people’s lives, and I feel the weight. It’s heavy. It’s loud. It’s strong. People have questions, concerns, comments, stories… It’s stressful to feel like I have to know all the answers. Yet, God is in control. While in Europe, God gave me the hunch that I’d have to start being more vulnerable about my past because it’s one way people will listen to what I have to say. Today, someone asked a question about privilege and art-science. I see now, in hindsight, that God was preparing me to come forward about my lack of privilege in pursuing art and science. I didn’t have access to elite teachers or mentors. No mirrored, sprung-floor studios… All my successes are because of Him. It’s unbelievable how the the ideas and people I come across seem to manifest from a wealth of detail and intentionality beyond anything I could have conjured — it feels scary. It’s the exact timings of little things. My decisions. The things I watch. The places I go. The people I talk to. It’s so interconnected, I don’t know if I could explain it all. It’s most scary to realize that I’m not in control. The thing is, this is what I asked for. I asked God to take control of it all. I asked Him to take the lead, and He’s doing just that. So, inspire of my lack of comprehension, I will continue to surrender. At the end of it all, I hold no responsibility for any of impact resulting from this ongoing project. It’s all Him. For His glory and for His kingdom. Thank you, Lord. I am humbled.

Knowing Father


Earlier this year, I felt a burning urge to hop on a flight to Vienna, Austria without knowing why I’d be going or how I was going to get there. I remember anxiously waking up one morning at 5:00 am and thinking, I have to get to this city and if I don’t go, I’d be missing a chance at something. I don’t know what.. but something! After constantly being bombarded by visions of this trip and seeing a woman wearing a bag with “VIENNA” printed boldly across the front, I finally felt convicted enough to open up and just take a look at my options. One place stood out to me. It was a little cottage-style studio apartment in the outskirts of the city whose interiors looked like someone did a break-in-and-entry into the aesthetics of my brain, to pour it all out into a 12×12 square foot room. It was a rare find, already booked for months ahead. I knew there was no room for delay. The moment felt emergent and desperate, like I had entered into a time warp with a rare, one-time opportunity to change the course of my future from that point on, forever. I booked immediately and paid the first instalment. By then, it was 7 am, and I knew I was crazy. No flight … no plan. Just a booked Airbnb located over 7,000 km away from home. Now, in the last year and a half, God shifted my finances in a way that I could have never imagined. I’m not rich in the slightest bit — that’s almost impossible to attain as a second-year Master’s student who submits research proposals and works TA (teaching assistant to undergrads) hours to earn a living for day-to-day expenses and tuition. However, despite the hard work and the way it sounds, every single one of my needs is covered and paid for without worry, for months ahead. I’m truly in a state of rest while doing the things I love and learning so much every day. I graciously received extra income that would cover 20 hrs/wk of pre-professional ballet training, and it doesn’t hurt me to spend a little extra on something nice — within reason of course. All of this is possible by God’s grace. It’s the only reasonable explanation. He gave me the the most wonderful and sincere research supervisor, an influx of entrance scholarships and success on a research proposal! Truly, I’ve done nothing to deserve this, He knows. Yet, He just keeps adding favour to my life in ways I just can’t comprehend. By now, you must be wondering, ok so what? You’ve been blessed… what does this have to do with going to Vienna? Hold on, don’t interrupt my storytelling skills. You needed context for what’s about to happen next. Ok… So, I got to ballet at about 9 am on the morning of booking the Airbnb and happened to check my email between classes. At the very top, there was an email from the research funding agency I was under, that is, the agency I receive primary income through, for the 2022/23 year. I’d spent the last year working with their team as a lead volunteer. So, surely, this email could only be good things. Wrong! The email was the most bogus, ungenuine, indirect, classic corporate-style message I’d ever read. It was equal parts a “Congratulations!” for receiving funding from a different agency for the 2023/24 academic year (NB:…a different year of study) and a notice that they’ll be canceling the remainder of my 2022/23 funding. This was was then wrapped up in a thank you for your help this year… plus a, you have to pay us back for the last instalment. I was so confused and so disgusted. The email really through me off. Like, actually. Ballet was going great before. What do you mean “pay back”?? I’ve been working with you and giving my best for months. *Grad tip, always read the fine print about concurrent funding with research awards. Agencies will make it a priority to catch you if it seems you’re earning “more” than you should. More is a problem word. The income rate for graduate students in Canada has’t changed since 1970. Hello, 2023 inflation! I don’t know how anyone else who’s not in Christ gets by. How does that work? For anyone who’s truly not ok: Send me a message — I’m not kidding. Back to the story. It took about three hours, a slightly shotty email response and a second email apology for my harsh tone to help me come to my senses: God will provide. He’s proved to be way more than faithful time and time again. I have so much proof! It’s crazy how humans are so fickle. We so easily forget the goodness of God’s grace and default into worry and panic at the slightest inconvenience. God should be so tired of me. I told you, I don’t deserve His blessings. I was sitting at my workspace in the lab after lunch and like a truck load of bricks, everything else dawned on me: This morning, I somewhat impulsively booked an Airbnb in Vienna. Vienna. In Austria? *checks bank account to see if the payment actually went through. It did.* A significant portion of my summer funding is canceled, and I have to pay back a large portion of last month’s income. In light of this morning’s spiral of events, I’m pretty sure I have to figure out the rest of this trip and… I’m supposed to survive the summer with no TA income (I’d recently found out I also couldn’t work as an assistant over summer). Ok, so yes. Back to the panic. I’m sorry, but it’s just been a lot of emotion to transpire in the span of 7 hours. The summary –> The truth is that if I had waited until later to start acting on my thoughts for Vienna, I wouldn’t have booked