Summer is here and that had us thinking… how can we help Austinites get back out there? So we turned to our resident curiosity monger, Tori Johnson, who just happens to be our LC Marketing Coordinator! In this Mid-Week Intermission, Tori gives us a break from it all with some trail tips and her favorite way to cut loose. And if you join us for a Drop-In, you may even see her on-the-job. Enjoy!

Howdy!

I’m Tori.

Photos by Katie Murray Balling

I’m the Marketing Coordinator here at the Long Center, which means I run our social channels, make sure things get paid on time (you’re welcome, vendors!), write blogs, coordinate media visits, and generally keep the wheels on in the Marketing Department.  I’ve been here almost a full year, which sometimes feels like 10 years and sometimes feels like 30 seconds.

Before I joined Team LC, I worked at several dance companies here in Austin and also in Utah, where I went to college and studied ballet. If you thought it was hard to figure out what to do with a B.A. in English, imagine a B.F.A. in Ballet. Just kidding! Ballet was my life for 20 years, and it taught me creativity, work ethic, collaboration, critical thinking, and more… all skills I use every day! There’s no feeling quite like moving your body and allowing the music (or silence!) to take you on a journey.

Speaking of journeys, one of my favorite ways to pass time (or use up my PTO 😁) is hiking. I fell in love with hiking while living in Utah, and while the Hill Country isn’t exactly the same as the Rockies, rolling hills of bluebonnets and the serpentine curves of the Pedernales make my heart beat fast in a way the mountains never will. 

Here’s me and my floof at Reimers Ranch in Dripping Springs 👉

When I’m not hiking or working, I’m usually reading a book – currently on my Kindle is Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty – or hanging out with my doggo, Apache, or doing yoga. 

I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now, and even have my teaching certification with an advanced certification in process. I teach every Wednesday for a local org called The Phoenix, an active community for folks in recovery. If you’re sober or trying to be, come flow with me! I mean, look at that view 😍

Well, that’s my story! Next time you’re at The Drop-In, feel free to flag me down and say hello and ask me to show you pictures of Apache. I’ll be the one walking around taking pictures of things on my phone 😉

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

This one goes out to the other event venues out there. We see you! As we ramp back up to a full schedule, we’re over the moon to have folks from Austin and beyond back in our spaces. But from ticketing to advertising to client satisfaction to operations, there’s more on our plates right now than we’re used to. And that’s causing A LOT of stress 😬 

Dr. Tio Bustillo from Baylor Scott & White Health stopped by the LC to talk to us about how to manage stress and anxiety, and what he had to say was too good to keep to ourselves.

The Thinking Process

Our minds are built to worry to keep us safe from danger, but we don’t live in the same environment our early human ancestors did. They might have worried about if a hippo was going to eat them, while we worry about if traffic on Mopac is going to be terrible or just regular-bad. Those are very different scenarios, but our minds don’t know that. It may sound strange, but worrying releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel pleasure. So, the more we worry, the more dopamine dumps into our brains, making our brains feel good, which makes us inclined to worry even more. But all the while, we’re miserable and stressed out. 

Thoughts are just droppings made by our brains. We get to choose if we pick up the thoughts or not. Next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your thoughts, try one of the exercises below 👇 

Take a Breath

Our breath is the only thing that truly happens in the present moment. When your mind starts to reach a little too far into the what ifs of the future, try this breathing exercise to bring you back to the now. 

Decide if you want your palms open to receive, palms down to ground, or palm on palm with thumbs touching to reflect.

Photos courtesy of  Tint Yoga, Yoga Journal, & Mindfulness Box
  1. Soften your gaze or close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for one… two… three… four. Notice the sensation of air filling your lungs.
  2. Hold your breath here for one… two… three… four. (Are you scrunching up your face? What does it feel like if you let that facial tension go?) 
  3. Slowly exhale for one… two… three… four. 
  4. And hold again for one… two… three… four. 

This is called box breathing, or sama vritti pranayama in Sanskrit. Our favorite part of box breathing is that it can be done anywhere.  

Find the Present
  1. Place your palm in your lap or in front of you – just somewhere you can see it.  
  2. Place the pointer finger of your opposite hand on the outside of your thumb. 
  3. Take a nice, slow breath in and trace your finger up the side of your thumb. 
  4. Slowly breathe out and trace your finger down the inside of your thumb. 
  5. Inhale and trace up your pointer finger. 
  6. Exhale and trace down your pointer finger.  
  7. Repeat this with each finger, as many times as you like. 
Graphic courtesy of The Calming Corner
Come to Your Senses

Becoming aware of the environment around you is a great way to take your mind off your stress and recalibrate. Ask yourself: 

  • What things do I see? 
  • What things do I hear? Do I hear different things if I close my eyes? 
  • What things do I smell? 
  • What tastes are in my mouth? 
  • What is near me that I could touch? If you choose to reach out and touch something, what does it feel like? 

So next time you’re worrying about Mopac traffic or that one client sends you yet another email, check in with one of the practices above 👆 And remember: anxiety isn’t really a feeling, but rather a thinking process. It’s a reminder to be aware, not beware. YOU get to choose what thoughts you keep and what you discard.

Special thanks to our partners over at Baylor Scott & White Health for helping us learn about stress and anxiety. For more wellness tips, give ‘em a follow on your social media platform of choice. 

If you’ve been following our social media over the last two weeks, it’s no secret that we are super excited about The Drop-In returning for a second summer with this Austin-centric lineup. While we can’t tell you what day he’s playing The Drop-In yet (keep on eye on @longcenter for that info!), we managed to catch up with David Garza — musician, producer, genre jumper — from his El Paso studio. This UT alum is no stranger to the Austin scene, and we’re fairly certain this is a performance you’re not gonna want to miss.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DROP-IN 👉 With free music every Thursday, you might want a reminder or two. We can help with that.

1️⃣ Make sure you’re following us @longcenter wherever you get your news to see who’s playing next.

2️⃣ Sign up for weekly notifications so you know when RSVPs open.

3️⃣ Grab your lawn chairs and your buddies and prepare to Drop-In.

MEET DAVID GARZA
David Garza plays guitar in his studio, washed in orange light

Long Center: First off, we just have to ask you about Twang Twang Schock-A-Boom and your UT connection. Do you ever miss your busking days? Going from playing on campus for tips to sell-outs at Liberty Lunch seems like a true Austin story that is harder to come across nowadays.

David: Austin in the fall of 1989 was a fairytale. Students smoked cigarettes in the Cactus Cafe at lunch time while debating current events & films. Fresh-faced young souls shared poetry & UT Union burritos on the steps by the Drag. Politics & philosophy & culture & romance were all equally flowing in every corner of the West Mall.

Twang Twang Shock-A-Boom fell into this magic place at the perfect time. Busking for hundreds of our teenage peers with no PA system & no permission was an experience I will never forget. To now know that Janis Joplin & Roky Erickson & Townes Van Zandt & Lucinda Williams were among the legends who had also prowled the Cactus Cafe through the decades was not on our minds as young punks. We just wanted to make our own history.

Long Center: Well, we’re super pumped to bring The Drop-In back for another season this summer (and for your performance!). What’s your experience been like as Austin and the world have opened back up for live music?

David: Since the pandemic, I have only played one gig of my own music. It was at The Kessler Theatre in Dallas, TX, and was a true healing party. Humans need the oxygen of live music in their consciousness. As concerts have opened up, I feel an immense joy in the shared experience of this ancient communal dialogue. The artist learns from the audience & the audience shares in the artists’ groove.

Long Center: Your list of past collaborators is such a good read. Any highlights or special moments that stand out to you most?

David: Producing albums for other artists has been such a revelation! The biggest highlight of the last few years was winning the Grammy for my producing role in the Fiona AppleFetch The Boltcutters” album last year. I collaborate with so many great talents on songs and also compose music for films. Scoring the HBO Documentary on Beto O’Roarke (“Running With Beo”) was also a huge thrill. But I gotta say it is kinda cool to have a Grammy on top of my piano. 😊

David Garza looks out pensively on a lake at sunset

Long Center: This season we’ve been encouraging our readers to get back out there and give into their curiosity to discover new artists, hobbies, art, or cool things in the neighborhood.

What have you been curious about? What will you explore next — in your music, in your own backyard, anything?

David: Two passions of mine I have really embraced lately are painting and very amateur sewing!

Both good for the soul but sometimes tough on the eyes.

Long Center: Any new projects or albums in the works that you can share with us?

David: Album projects I’m excited about are compiling & mastering unreleased albums from my own catalog in El Paso and scoring a few documentary films in LA while producing artists as diverse as Ozomatli, Chris Perez, Hanson, Fastball, Lisa Morales, Esteromance, Lucy Woodward & Suzanne Choffel.

Long Center: Could you give us a little tease about what you’ll be playing at your Drop-In performance?

David: For the upcoming Long Center event, I could not be more excited to share songs of mine that go back to those old Austin ’90s days. Crazy to think I sing songs I wrote that go back over 30 years… I have a batch of new songs to share as well, but the old songs are what bring the smiles that make my heart sing.

TDI 22

KEEP IN TOUCH

At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.

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