You know that someone in your life who makes you wonder, “How does she manage to get so much done!?” Today’s rockstar is one of those people in my world. Cee-Cee seems to be constantly on the move, working hard, slaying goals & chasing her dreams. I’m delighted to introduce her to all of you today and hope that you’ll find her as inspiring as I do!
Introduce yourself! Who are you? What’s important to you? What does a day in the life look like?
I’m Cee-Cee Swalling, an MFA candidate in Costume Design and endurance athlete. I would say being healthy in mind, body, and soul is of the utmost importance to me. It’s taken me a really long time to figure out that no matter what, it is a balance. One or the other may take precedence at any given time, but it’s hard to live off balance. We need to take care of our Leslies completely if we expect the best results.
A day in my life is soooo busy! I typically get up and hit the ground running! Every day is a little different but they all involve coffee. I like to read the news (the Skimm is helpful for a quick read), do my Brave Body Project strength workout, take the dog out, typically run to class by 9:30 – which I either attend or teach – and then it’s class until mid-afternoon when I work in the costume shop. At the end of the day I try to get my run or bike workout in, you know…before starting homework!
How did you find endurance sports? What do you love/hate about them?
I found endurance sports a little on accident. Obese and really unhappy about it, I decided for once and all, I was gonna kick the weight to the curb. In 2012 I began running. My goal was simply to run – it didn’t have to be fast, just doing it. Over time I realized that I’m not meant to be a fast-twitch runner, but once I found a pace that felt good yet challenging that I could hold on to it forever. Once I realized that endurance sports are about strength and longevity, instead of going as fast as you can, I was absolutely hooked.
One of my favorite moments was definitely finishing my first triathlon which was an Olympic distance race. Once I reached the end I felt so elated to have done something that, admittedly, felt really challenging but rewarding. Racing in downtown D.C. only aided the epic proportions of it since I was surrounded by beautiful architecture in a place I call home.
What do you do when you’re feeling stressed? What brings you peace?
Good question! Being in grad school definitely makes me question this a lot! I would say I love to run (obviously), and that often takes care of a lot of pent up stress I may have accrued over a day. I also love tea and sitting down to draw or read a good book with a candle. I’m very influenced by multi-sensory experiences so setting the mood for a chill environment always seems to help.
Care to talk about your professional evolution? How passions and priorities can change over time?
Definitely! I would say I’m a very passionate person about many things which seems to confuse people. Even now as I’ve refocused my career on Costume Design I’m challenged for being an athlete on top of being an artist. I think when people see me acknowledging either my creative or my athletic side they think for some reason that the two don’t go together and there’s no way I could love both. That’s as great as a misconception as thinking I cannot be both a sister AND a daughter. The relationships are both different but they are fundamentally a very real and strong part of who I am. I’d love for people to ask me questions about it instead of assuming there cannot be two passions in one person!
I don’t see my multiple passions as being separate, but rather tools that aid my entire being. Running gives me society with my running friends in a circle outside of the theatre, but theatre gives me the room to be creative and literally create things from the air. I think it’s all just a balancing act. I think a lot about ying and yang because I’m always striving to stay in balance. There are always times where you are slightly unbalanced, one passion will overcome the other, but I think it’s important to just try and make time for all the things that make you happy.
I worked for four years in an office setting and I was miserable every single day. Once the Trump Administration began I knew that I couldn’t waste my time working a job I hated for people I disliked, so I turned back to theatre. Since I was a child I’ve always tried to dictate what everyone in my family was wearing. At one point I even stapled together a pair of felt pants for my brother (this was before I learned how to sew obviously). Having a lot of things go wrong along the way made me realize that there’s no reason to not do the thing you’ve loved to do since you’re a child. Sure, there are a lot of days where my job is stressful, but I don’t feel beaten down the way I did when I worked in an office setting. I’m very happy I listened to that voice in my head that told me I needed to go create something in this world.
What’s one thing you want people to know that we haven’t covered? AND/OR What’s a goal you’ve set for yourself for the future?
Well… I have a beautiful rescue golden retriever who is the love of my life! Otherwise, as the eldest member of my graduation school cohort I find myself giving a lot of advice on things I wish I had known at 23. Most of my advice comes from being an athlete. Once I taught myself the discipline that comes with that, everything else just made sense in context. I think we often fail to see the beauty in working really hard at what we love. We either lose time or focus, and don’t stick with hobbies or professions because we buckle under pressure, or make up excuses for why we are failing. There were so many times when I was younger that I gave up something I loved because I was scared of failure, or I didn’t see myself improving at the rate I thought I should. After I started running I realized that only about 20% of the days will you feel like you’re a badass rockstar. There’s another 75% of days that you feel just ok but not great day, and then the occasional 5% of days, everything is terrible. I know now that everything I do is work it for that 20%.
As far as my future? I’m hoping once I graduate to start designing somewhere, so I will keep you posted but, wherever I go, I’ll be bringing my bike and my running shoes!
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Cee-Cee! I love that you’ve faced down your fear of failure and are going wholeheartedly after your dreams. Many of us over-achievers take “safer” paths because we don’t want to risk failure, but we lose so much. Thanks for the inspiration and best of luck on your journey!