HOTC Kenya Team – Katie O’Loughlin Returns!

If your remember, several months back Katie O’Loughlin was preparing a trip to Kenya. See post: https://pondersavant.com/2019/03/16/dancing-to-far-away-places-with-katie-oloughlin/

Well, she has returned safe and sound, with vibrant stories to be told! Take a look at her video from her journey:

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Who is Boogie Willis?

Is She Real or Fictional?

When I was just a youngin, I saw my friend, Karly, writing a letter.

“Who is she writing to?” I asked her sister.

“She’s writing to her friend, Boogie.”

I don’t know what it was, maybe because the name was so unique, or maybe I misheard some information, but somehow, I got it in my head that Boogie was only an imaginary friend. It wasn’t until years later, that I was introduced in passing to the lovely human named, Boogie, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was, in fact, a real person!

 

The Beginning of a Legend

At age 18, Boogie moved to Alaska. I had already moved from the state, but wild tales about her would travel to me. They were tales of creativity, and adventure. Local theaters in Alaska cast her in plays. Dance groups invited her talents in. I even heard that she played the harp, clearly the instrument of a mythical creature. Never once did I hear one bad word spoken about this sensational person. She was adored for her friendly and vivacious demeanor. Boogie became somewhat of an Alaskan legend that brought warmth to a very cold state.

‘Who is Boogie Willis?’ I would wonder on occasion. I could tell even from such distance that this was a very special individual, and I was very curious to know some of her backstory.

So, after all these years, I finally had the privilege of getting to know tidbit more this exceptional lady. I was beyond thrilled when Boogie agreed to take precious time out of her day to talk to me. Right from the get-go she was extremely gracious and accommodating to all my questions.

 

Finding Her Passion

Boogie has found a way to enhance her life by pursuing both acting and dance. In acting, she wants to take her viewers on a journey and evoke emotion. She doesn’t always have the words to express how she feels and so dance has given her a voice for what she cannot say. Dance challenges her in new and exciting ways that brings joy into her life.

To pay her bills, she maintains a day job as a debt collector. It’s a job that seems very unlike her personality, but she needed a job that allowed her to have nights and weekends free for her rehearsals and performances. Diligently she puts in that extra work to be able to support herself while she fills her life with her passions.

Growing up, Boogie did not know that this would be where her heart led her. She was homeschooled until graduation at age 16. She did not care that much for school, so she was quite happy to finish early. However, during her school years, she was in a gymnastics class. While performing at a gymnastics meet, she encountered a kindred spirit named Karly. They quickly became such good friends that they kept in touch even though she lived in Indio, California and Karly lived in Wasilla, Alaska.

Whenever they got the chance, Boogie and Karly would visit each other and eventually Boogie realized that Karly was one of her best friends. During one particular visit, she realized just how much she enjoyed Alaska. Karly’s mom, an incredibly warm and loving woman, welcomed her in and invited her to stay with them as long as she liked. It was all she needed to take the leap and embark on a new adventure of her very own.

 

A World of Dance

Karly and her sisters were very heavily into the dance world and eventually it peaked Boogie’s interest to attempt. She started taking a class here and there. Some of Karly’s sisters gave her some private lessons in addition with their moral support and empowerment.

Although it was a daunting challenge to start dancing amongst people who had been working at it for years, she accepted that she was a beginner and did not let it deter her from the enjoyment of the art. Step-by-step she learned how to express herself through movement and was able to bring her own charisma to it even if she didn’t have all of the same technicality.

 

Finding Her People

While working at a café in Wasilla, Alaska, a flyer happened to catch her eye. For some reason she felt drawn to it. When talking to her friends, they all encouraged her to go for it. After much deliberation, she decided to branch into an unknown world and audition for The Wizard of Oz at the local theater, the Valley Performing Arts Center.

It was her first audition, and to her great surprise, she got in! She got an ensemble part where she played multiple characters, including (to her great amusement) a tree. Once she entered the world of theater, she knew this would be more than a one-time experience.

“I found my people!” she lovingly described it to me.

That play opened the doors to a new world. She said yes to anything that came up and one opportunity led her to the next. She soaked up every experience and learned from every role.

Theater eventually led her to film. She got to participate in multiple roles on camera and even learned the behind-the-scenes techniques. Although she appreciates all portions of the artform, at the end of the day, the energy from the live audience captures her fancy the most.

 

Overcoming the Barriers

Like the rest of us, she has her moments of struggle. There are times when she doesn’t feel good enough. She sees other people who have something else to offer, and the comparison to herself can make her feel inadequate. When this happens, she tries to remind herself of all of her own accomplishments. She focuses on the times that made her feel validated, like how she got the first play she ever auditioned for, or how she was called upon specifically to audition for parts. Most importantly, she does not let her doubts or discouragements stop her from moving forward. She keeps on saying yes to the next thing.

When I asked her what advice she would give to those who are looking to start acting or dancing without hesitancy she had three words for me, “Just do it.” She said it with the tone of, “This is worth anything that might be holding you back.”

Do not worry about failing auditions, because that is part of the process. Don’t worry about being good enough because you will get better the more you do. Take any role and every role, it’s not about getting the lead because there is so much to learn from it all. And when you dance, dance for the joy of it. “Just do it.”

 

Enjoying the Journey

She doesn’t know where all of it will take her, but she knows that it fills her life with magic. Occasionally, she has been stopped on the street being recognized for some of her work, and it brings nothing short of happiness to her day!

Who is Boogie Willis? Well, I say she is a walking example of the saying, “Life is about the journey, not the destination.” Her determination to say yes to the things that challenge and excite her are an inspiration to keep searching for the joy in our everyday lives.

 

Come Get to Know Boogie Willis!

Currently, Boogie is preparing for her next exciting role in Guys & Dolls with Juneau’s Perseverance Theater Company. If you happen to be in Juneau, AK in March or Anchorage, AK this May, you will have an opportunity to see all of her hard work!

For those of us who don’t have the opportunity to be in Alaska at that time, we can enjoy this short film that she graciously allowed me to share with you all today. It is from a film competition called the 5-Day Film Royal. I invite you all to come get to know the woman, the whimsy, the Willis:

The Art of Endurance Racing – Get Inspired by the Journey of Megan Sloan

Megan Sloan – The Spartan Racer

In a competition that consists of 75% male and only 25% female, Megan Sloan is contributing to the empowerment of women through Spartan Racing. With hard work and determination, she cultivates her artform of endurance racing.

Megan is from the warm and sunny state of California. She works as an independent contractor in a job that takes her all over the U.S. and sometimes even out of the country. When she was 21, she lost her mom to Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, she has lovingly found ways to honor her mother’s memory, and one of those ways is through developing her craft of Spartan racing.

Spartan races are not for the faint of heart and require extreme diligence. The races vary starting from 3 miles all the way to 26+ miles with obstacles throughout. Any obstacle not completed result in burpee penalties that would need to be completed in order to move forward (as anyone in the fitness world knows, burpees are one of the least favorite exercises known to mankind). The obstacles can consist of random activities such as wall climbs, rope climbs, bucket carries, spear throws, tire flips, and countless others. These races can be daunting to even the most experienced athlete as they utilize muscle groups that are not typically worked in a standard gym routine. A person can achieve a trifecta when they run a sprint, super and beast all in one calendar year. Megan has completed approximately 20 Spartan Races and has achieved a total of 4 trifectas!

Where She Started

Megan was first interested in Spartan Races when she heard about them through social media. Before it was a popular thing, her high school had put on an obstacle course that she participated in. She found it to be a thrilling experience, and so the idea of a Spartan Race intrigued her. However, she did not know anyone who raced. Having no guidance on how to go about such a thing, it became a backburner idea.

Years later, Spartan Race caught her eye again and this time, she couldn’t resist giving it a try. Her boyfriend at the time had done a Spartan Race and she jumped at the opportunity to learn. She signed herself up for her first race, ready to dive in with only one month to train.

Her training consisted of building her running up to 3 miles with stops to do a set of various exercises every quarter mile. Although she didn’t know what to expect, she worked diligently for that month in preparation.

When race day finally came, she learned the true brutality of the race. There was no way she could have properly trained or prepared for it until she had actually run the course and could learn what she was up against. She completed the race high on the accomplishment, but also humbled by the intensity. From then on, she was hooked. Spartan racing had captured her focus and her heart.

Megan did not start out being an intense athlete. She would go to the gym and have basic healthy lifestyle, but the level she has gotten herself to has not been a walk in the park (pun intended). It took her some time to even find a joy in things like running. There were times when she was criticized for not being able to keep up because she wasn’t as skilled as those around her. The struggle of wanting to do well, but the feeling of holding people back or embarrassing herself was something that took time to break past. A lot of people might not have kept going with such criticism, but not Megan.  She kept at it and worked at her own pace.

Each race brought new lessons. She did not shy away from learning everything it had to teach and hungrily accepted all critique or tips given to her. It made her realize that even the most successful person had a starting place, and so she gave herself permission to be a beginner. In doing so, she slowly met the goals she set for herself and then went on to set new ones. Her “pretty muscles” slowly transformed into “functional muscles”. She pushed her body past the, “What have I gotten myself into!” moments and found that limitations start in the mind before the body. The doubts of her own capabilities became background sounds that she learned to ignore.

Keeping Motivated and Focused

As her career has her traveling on a regular basis, maintaining a consistent workout routine is even harder than it is for most. Even though her work keeps her mainly in hotels, she does not let that keep her from meeting her personal goals. To keep herself on track, she has to work at it daily. Her virtual personal training program, Veritas Fitness, has her figure out any excuse she may have to not workout that day. Once the excuses have been listed, she has to find solutions to them. Once the excuse has been killed, she will pull out her travel gym that consist of items like resistance bands, or sliders, or anything possible to do a workout in a small space. Or, if the hotel has a gym, she will utilize their facilities to the utmost of its capabilities. If nothing else, she has no problem bringing herself to go for a good old-fashioned run outside. She might even multi-task and use that as her sightseeing time in her new location.

Having watched her mother struggle with cancer, and then shortly thereafter become diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Megan knows all too well how hard life can be when health deteriorates. When she faces struggles to keep herself going, she does not forget the value of choosing the healthiest things possible for her present and her future. Pushing herself past comfort zones to find out what incredible feats she is capable of achieving has become an inspiring way of paying homage to her mother.

One Step Forward Means One Helping Hand Reaching Back

Spartan races may be a competition, but Megan does not let that stop her from empowering those around her even as she races. She stops on the tracks to help if she sees someone struggling. Even though she thoroughly prepares herself with a backpack filled with essentials for completing long races, she will not hesitate to give a power bar to someone who has lost energy, or a bandage to someone who has been hurt. She willingly gives up minutes on her race time to give words of encouragement to someone who feels that the race is defeating them. She never forgets how she started and does not judge anyone for where they are at in their personal journey. Rather, she is excited that someone was willing to at least give the race a try.

For anyone looking to try a Spartan race, Megan lovingly will divulge her experiences and explains what can be gained from it all. She never knew how accomplished she could feel by completing each and every race. She also never expected to gain such a strong community of support from the racers. Of course, there are always a person or two who are not so kind on the tracks, but mostly, she has found that there are a lot of gracious people who are just waiting to have people join their group. Megan didn’t get into it looking for friends, but she ended up finding a niche of people where she feels like she belongs.

Paving a Path, Inspiring Others

Megan’s passion for this unique artform is an inspiration to all that know her. She daily demonstrates that if you persevere despite criticism from others, or the excuses you make for yourself, then you can accomplish great things. She is out there proving that it is possible to be a humble and compassionate woman while at the same time strong as a warrior. What an amazingly unique woman she is, and I think we can all agree that her mother must be beaming with pride as she watches her from heaven to have such an awe-inspiring daughter.

Take a look at some of the photos from her races and be inspired that you too can push past any barrier your mind has created for itself.