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Mac and Cheese Level

My husband has a food rating based on a macaroni and cheese he ordered at a restaurant in Charleston, SC. It was the best mac and cheese we've ever had. Maybe the best thing he has eaten - ever. We tried to duplicate it but have, to date, succeeded. Now every recipe and food experience in our family is rated based on the "mac and cheese level" which in layman's terms is excellent. If he rates a food "OK", we know it is probably off the menu rotation. If a food gets a pretty good or good, that means we can serve it again or visit the restaurant again. We have yet to hit the mac and cheese rating for any of our at home cooking (that I can recall). Still we continue on the journey and ask "is it mac and cheese level?"

Do we have "mac and cheese" level goals in life? Do we aspire to excellence or just aim to be pretty good, or ok? Is it enough to accomplish something just to get it done. Sometimes yes. But there are times in life we want to be at the mac and cheese level - do our best and be excellent at what we do.

What is the intent behind wanting to reach mac and cheese level in our personal goals? Is the incentive the shiny prize, or are we looking to grow and become better? Are we going to share our mac and cheese or guard it as a secret family recipe?

I often meet dance students, and humans in general, who express that they want to reach a goal. But along the way they are unable to fully commit to it. The journey becomes difficult or long. I often wonder if they are just seeking instant gratification and fail to realize the steps required to reach a difficult goal. Somewhere in the journey of becoming excellent, they no longer appreciate how far they have come. Yes, I did fail to make duplicate the mac and cheese served at the Charleston restaurant. But my attempts did make me curious and also allowed me to experiment to make a better mac and cheese. It often seems we want the rewards of being excellent but are only willing want to make the effort of making a boxed mac and cheese. I attribute that, in part, to the everyone gets a trophy culture, but that is another topic.

I have no doubt that the mac and cheese that my husband raved about did not take 10 minutes to create. So what are we willing to invest to achieve our own mac and cheese level aspirations? Are we willing to shop for the ingredients? Grate all the cheese, mix the sauce to perfection, boil the noodles so they have just the right bite? Do you pay attention to each step so that it turns out perfectly each time? Are you willing to accept failure and learn the lessons from defeat to improve your mac and cheese? Are you willing to work to improve your mac and cheese? Are you willing to listen to the advice of others who have achieved the same or similar goal? Are you willing to teach others from your experience as you reach toward the ultimate mac and cheese?

In my journey as a studio owner and a dance educator, I continue work toward excellence. I am honestly never satisfied and am curious to continue learning. I aim to provide the BEST experience to my students. I am willing to change and adapt (hello COVID-19 in 2020!). A wise mentor of mine says "Progress not Perfection." There is also the mantra that the" joy is in the journey". I agree with these statements, as well as: Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

What are your mac and cheese goals? What training do you need? What tools do you already have? How much are you willing to invest? What does it take to become excellent at your goal? How can I help you?

Jenny Griffes, Upstage Center of Performing Arts

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