Australia’s Sweetheart Takes Home The Mirror Ball

Winners

For the first time ever in its 21-season run, I finally gave a flying pirouette about who won “Dancing With The Stars” this fall.

I’m usually somewhat aware of the line-up as each new one is announced, waiting for a name that actually aligns with my Hollywood interests. They’re few and far between; I’ve always argued that the “stars” they enlist can barely be considered as such. They’re always has-beens, reality rejects, former athletes, or ‘90s pop stars.

In my opinion, the most famous thing to come out of DWTS is the Hough siblings. Julianne is trying to establish herself as a B-list actress—you can see her step into reckless Ariel’s dancing shoes in the 2011 “Footloose” remake, dueting with Tom Cruise in the 2012 “Rock of Ages” screen adaptation, or taking on a drippy Nicholas Sparks romance opposite Josh Duhamel in 2013’s “Safe Haven.” Her older brother Derek is known more for his choreography, but he also had a brief guest role on ABC’s “Nashville” last year and the sibs recently went up against each other on Spike’s LL Cool J-hosted “Lip Sync Battle.”

But this season, I had to tune in. Granted, I was only interested in the performances of one particular dancer, but I tuned in just the same instead of rolling my eyes once again at the premise of this show.

In September of 2006, I was a baby-faced freshman at Lock Haven University. I was just beginning my journalism classes, adjusting to dorm life, and trying to make new friends out of a sea of over 6,000 students. And in my first weekend, I received the news that shocked most of America: Steve Irwin, wildlife warrior and famed Crocodile Hunter, had died in a tragic accident.

BindiI loved watching Steve. His joyful mission to save animals was full of so much passion and enthusiasm that it was instantaneously contagious. He inspired me. And I cried right along with his wife, family, and friends during the publicly aired memorial service a little over a week later.

So when DWTS revealed that their 2015 shining star would undeniably be 17-year-old Bindi, Steve’s bubbly and charming daughter, I knew I would want to watch. Continue reading

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Five Things That Inspire Me

I wanted to try something new for a PSA; it was easy for me to come up with five things that make me feel inspired—inspired to write, to see and try new things, to do good for others, to live my life to the fullest. Inspiration can hit in big or small ways and it doesn’t always present itself as a bright flash of motivation. Other times, it’s just a feeling of contentment, of knowing you’re doing okay, of being ready to take on the world one baby step at a time. I feel inspired every time I interview a person or organization doing great things for the community in my Blue Mountain’s Best feature for work or when I see someone being kind to a stranger. I think it’s important to find those little flashes in the day-to-day because allowing yourself to be swept up in monotony is a drain on what we’re capable of as humans; inspiration breeds creativity, something I’m quite prone to advocate for as a writer, along with positive vibes. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives? That being said, here are five things (or people or places) that never fail to give me that little jolt.

1. The Ocean

11004390_10100364350201578_1793488586_nBeing born and raised a shore kid (and fueled by my childhood obsession with “The Little Mermaid”), I developed a deep and intense love for the ocean early in life. I love the heady aroma of sea air and the feel of my salt-encrusted skin when I leave the water, how alive I feel after being tossed around by the waves for a while and how just being close enough to hear them crashing on the beach rejuvenates my soul. (Trust me, I hear the cheese in that statement, but nevertheless, it’s true.) I call it my “happy place” and I go through periods of withdrawal, particularly during the winter months. Leaving the sea behind when I moved to PA was one of the hardest parts of the process. I’m transfixed by the immensity of it and fascinated by how it works, what lives in it, what makes it so powerful. I’ve always believed that if I hadn’t discovered such a love of writing and journalism, I would’ve studied marine biology. I can’t say what it is about it that affects me so deeply, but any time spent near churning, frothy water leaves me feeling completely recharged and ready to plow forward with whatever life has next in store. When I finally caught a break and got a job as a staff writer for a newspaper group in New Jersey and was abruptly let go less than a month after being hired, I drove myself straight to Sea Bright Beach where I sat on the sand for three hours, just staring at the horizon, planning my next move. For me, the ocean will always equal therapy. Continue reading