Part of a village

19 Jan

My friend Stef is starting a ballroom village. It’s a list of ballroom dancing blogs. (Seriously, go check them all out.)

When I first read about it, to be honest, I was a bit hurt she didn’t ask me. Then I realized that while I mention dancing, I do talk about a lot of other things here. Not just dancing. And I also realized I haven’t really written about dancing in a long time. Then I wondered why?

Well, some of it is I’m protective of my lessons. I’m not one to share much what’s happened on my lessons, nor do I want to hear what’s being done on other people’s lessons. It’s odd, but those moments on lessons are mine and I’m careful about what I share. Weird, I know. But there ya go. Also, my teacher is an extremely private person, and I try to honor that. So writing about dancing means striking a balance between what I need and want to share, my privacy, and his privacy.

So I’m OK not being part of that village, although I know Stef does like it when I actually talk about dancing. But a big part of my life journey is the journey in dance, and I do want to share that more. In pieces, anyway.

Remember how I told you how tough December was? Part of that showed up in dancing too. I was really hard on myself and getting discouraged as we worked on things. After Showcase, my teacher decided it was time to tackle swing, which has been my bane for a while. (In my opinion, not his.) And I would get super frustrated with myself in not being to quickly apply the new techniques in swing action. Even though I know there are no quick fixes now. The time of quick fixes ended a LONG time ago. But I was getting a bit thinky on it all, and it was compounded by everything else that was going on.

Finally, I think right before the holidays (maybe after? I can’t remember), I talked to my teacher. Just gave him a quick update on what all was going on because he had been very concerned about me. I also told him what was going on at the studio in terms of how I was feeling when I showed up. We talked for a long time about it all. Mr problem-solver had some thoughts, which were helpful. (Why do all men try to fix everything right away?) But one thing he said to me was that he wished I could just focus on the journey and stop expecting so much so soon from myself. Again, goals and high standards are fine – he’s said before that it’s my expectations of the timing in reaching those standards are the problem.

And for some reason, that all sunk in pretty deep this time. Since that conversation, my lessons have been more fun because I’m not so hard on myself. I KNOW that he would not give me anything he didn’t think I couldn’t do. And therefore I KNOW that if he’s giving it to me, I’ll be able to do it eventually. And the only way to get there is to keep doing it AD NAUSEUM. Or at least repeatedly. So I’ve just pushed through and not let my brain go thinky.

And the funny thing is that when I do that, my progress is actually much faster. Which he had said. (I hate it when he’s right. I so rarely win with him. I think I won one argument once.)

So I’m in a really good place with dance right now. Which of course I then start thinking it’s going to crash soon. Because I’m Irish, and the other shoe always drops. But I have dance camp this week – 15 lessons in one week! So I’m going to try to keep this attitude for this week. And I’ll probably collapse at the end of the week.

What happened to December?

12 Jan

You may have noticed that I had just a few posts in between Thanksgiving and now. I had one about Showcase in early December because my friend AD asked me to write that. Other than that, I had a merry Christmas one, a happy new year one, and one about setting goals for 2014. There’s a reason for the lack of posts.

December was very difficult for me. I had a major anxiety/depression episode that started around Thanksgiving and went through Christmas. It wasn’t due to one particular thing – just a lot of little things. The main thing was the holidays – that’s always a difficult time for me. Plus, I’ve been missing Mr Big a lot lately – apparently I’m going through yet ANOTHER layer in grieving the end of that relationship. (I wonder how many more layers there are?)

So I talked to my therapist, I talked to some friends, I did some of the tricks I have to help with this. It was so bad for a while that none of that helped. But right after Christmas, I started to feel better. I jumped on that feeling and kept at it with the tools I have. And I’ve been feeling so much better since new year’s really. Just in time for work to get CRAZY busy – like crazier than it has been in years.

Although I’ve been feeling better this month, it’s just been too busy for me to even think about writing. Which makes me sad. But I think this week will be the last of the crazy craziness, so I should be able to pick up writing on a more regular basis soon. I’m thankful that I have you readers, and I hope you’ll come back.

Oh, and starting the 20th…DANCE CAMP!!

 

Time to refocus

1 Jan

Happy new year!

Here we are again. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of resolutions. But I know I’m not perfect, by any means, unlike Calvin:

calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

(I love that cartoon.)

So looking back at what I wanted to focus on in 2013 and setting the focus for 2014…

Physical health
I did get back to the gym on a regular basis. I certainly ran more. But then I broke my foot. I was in such great shape prior to that, and it’s been hard to get back into a regular routine with any sort of endurance. But this week has been good. So for 2014 I’ll keep working on going to the gym regularly, building endurance, and running more.

Food
My eating didn’t change much this year, although I somehow got a little sugar addiction lately. Boo on holiday food. So let’s refocus on that for 2014: more veggies!

Writing
My writing was definitely done in waves. I had stretches of lots of blog posts, and then nothing. (See: lack of posts in December.) So there’s the focus for 2014: more consistent blogging.

Dancing
Breaking my foot really made me appreciate dancing. Prior to that, I was going to more groups and practicing on my own. After I broke my foot, I practiced a lot because I was working on checking out. But since then, I’ve struggled to get into a routine. So after the holidays, it’s more group classes, more practicing on my own, and still appreciating it.

Creative hobbies
I stopped baking for a while in the last few months for various reason. I packed my grandma’s recipes, so I can’t go through those until after July. But I’ve baked more this week and will continue to do so. I did learn to crochet but didn’t practice, so now I need a refresher. I certainly knitted more this year and will continue to do so for 2014!

Relationships
No movement there. Meaning no action taken on my part to have anything happen. Stupid Mr Big still in my brain. But steps have been taken this week…more on that soon.

Money
I’ve made some progress towards my financial goals, although Christmas was not planned for as well as it should have been. Oops. So I’m going to take the first six months of 2014 and refocus on money.

Mental health
This year, I realized that my issues are like a chronic condition. I will always have them; I can only cope with the flare-ups. And I’ve done a better job of that lately. This will always be a focus for me though.

At the end of the day, I still strive for this:

peace

And hope to remember this:

light of your being

I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be. Happy new year!

Happy new year!

1 Jan

happy-new-year

Wishing the very best to you in 2014!

Here’s to love, joy, peace, happiness, and fulfilling lives with friends and family!

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

christmas-peace

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you the best of the holiday season: love, peace, joy, and happiness. Take a moment, too, to think of those who are struggling this time of year or who don’t have all that you have.

Merry Christmas!!

Prepping for Showcase, part two

3 Dec

I’ve told you before about my hair and makeup prep for Showcase. But a friend of mine asked about what tips and tricks I have for the day. So, AD, this one’s for you!

what-to-bring

I actually have a list of stuff to bring for the day. (And yes, by list, I mean a Word document I save on my computer. Nerd alert.) First, my dresses. Oh my dresses. I love my dresses!! Anyway, before I had dance dresses, I used to list my smooth skirt, my rhythm skirt, my top to go with both. Oh, and don’t forget the shoes! Both rhythm and smooth shoes. I keep my old pairs – there’s a whole rotation scheme for each – so I always bring one old pair just in case something happens to my performance shoes. I also bring an extra pair of nylons.

(OK, the scheme is this: I buy a new pair of shoes. That pair becomes the performance pair. The pair that was the performance pair becomes the shoes I wear every day at the studio for lessons and groups and parties. The pair that was the pair I wear every day become the old pair that I use to practice at the gym and for studio dance outings. The pair that was the old pair gets tossed. See? Simple.)

I bring the clothes I’ll need for dinner, since we have a dinner/dance afterwards. So I’ll bring a dress and a change of nylons. Usually because I’m done with fishnets at that point. Worse case scenario is I just change into a different pair of fishnets.

I used to bring my flat iron, ponytail holders, bobby pins, a brush and a comb. But I’ve gotten lazy and comfortable, so I just leave my hair up for the evening portion. Too much work to try and change it for dinner. Oh I also bring jewelry for dinner as well as a purse. To carry my ID and cash for the bar. Best tasting cocktail is the one I get after dancing all day.

martini

I bring my makeup so I can do touch ups throughout the day if needed. And also to prepare for the dinner. I bring deodorant and perfume – for the same reason.

I bring whatever medication I might need – ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepcid, etc. I bring breath mints. ‘Cause, ya know. Ew.

I bring food. The studio does have the hotel provide morning treats and afternoon treats. But the morning treats are pastries and fruit, and the afternoon treats are cheese and crackers. All really great, but there’s rarely enough, and there’s not a lot of protein there. So I try to bring food to eat throughout the day. Especially protein. I bring my water bottle. Again, the hotel provides a ton of water; it’s just habit for me to bring mine.

I bring my camera to take pictures throughout the day and videotape some stuff.

Almost most importantly, I bring my IPod. I’m an introvert, so I worry that being around people all day like that will be draining. So I’m always prepared to sneak off for a few minutes and decompress with my IPod. I haven’t had to do it yet, but I want to be prepared for it. Of course, the tough thing for me is that you’re part of the studio community, so you should show up for others because they show up for you. That’s being part of a community. So I would probably feel guilty if I snuck off, which is probably why I haven’t done it yet.

I bring a highlighter (although I forgot mine this time!) so that I can highlight my name in the program. That makes it easy to find, so I can quickly tell when my next heat is. I bring a small bag to hold the stuff I want to keep in the ballroom with me – phone, lipstick, face powder, snacks, mints.

I pack (or at least lay out) everything the night before. I don’t want to make the morning too crazy, and I want to spend the morning focusing on my hair and makeup. I review my list a few times before I leave though. Gotta ease the OCD tendencies.

I try to get there right around the time warm-ups start. That gives me time to change and warm-up a little. I rarely have anything except maybe a 45-second spotlight in the first hour, so warming up isn’t super important at that time. But I do like to do a few warm-up dances just to loosen up. I try to actually do a few warm-up waltz boxes by myself a few heats before my heats. And when it’s rhythm, I do a few moves to loosen up the hip muscles before my heats.

I also support my fellow students and help them with whatever they might need too. I also try hard to stay positive and just enjoy the day. I’m lucky that I don’t get nervous that day. To me, it’s just the one day (or 2 days technically) each year that I know I’m a great dancer, and I dance better than I ever have, even on lessons. I’m so thankful for that.

blessed

So that in a nutshell – or a wordy post – is my plan for Showcase.

mission-accomplished

Happy thanksgiving

28 Nov

Happy thanksgiving to all of you!

thxgiving

Among the many things I’m grateful for, I’m grateful for every reader I have. You all mean so much to me!

It didn’t get better

27 Nov

But then it did.

So when I last left you, I was starting to come out of my funk. But then, for whatever reason, I couldn’t sustain it. I fell back in the funk, and it got worse. On Tuesday, I took some medicine to help. It took the edge off a bit, but the anxiety kept creeping back up.

By Thursday, I was in horrible shape. My stomach was upset, I was incredibly nauseous, everything I ate made me want to throw up. That night, I talked to a friend of mine who is a GI doctor. He told me something I didn’t know: anxiety produces acid in the stomach. Even if you don’t feel heartburn, you can still have excess acid in your stomach. He suggested I try a Pepcid Complete to see if that helped. And it did. I took another anti-anxiety pill Thursday night.

I stayed home from work Friday. And I realized that morning that some of this anxiety was due to Showcase. I missed the last Showcase because of my broken foot. And apparently I had some doubts about whether I was good enough, about whether I could prove I was still a good dancer, about showing improvement since the last one I did a year ago. (To which my friend SP said “I don’t understand this ‘good enough’ you speak of”. And she’s right. Everyone is good enough. It’s just my stupid standards for myself.)

So I talked to my therapist Friday night and saw her Saturday morning. We talked about Showcase. And I just kept reminding myself about medal ball a few months ago. I was checking out of Bronze III, and at medal ball, I felt like every dance (all 4 of them) was going as perfectly as they could. There were mistakes of course, but I felt like I OWNED the floor. I really felt like I was a great dancer. So in thinking about Showcase, every time I got nervous or started thinking about being good enough, I just thought about medal ball.

I also realized that some of my anxiety was just from the fact that my ex-boyfriend has looked up my LinkedIn profile about 6 times in the last two months. It makes me miss him, and it makes me sad that we’re not together, even though it’s right we’re not together. So you know, once I had a good cry about that, I could move on.

Sunday morning I woke up for Showcase. And I was EXCITED. So excited! I felt I always feel on Showcase morning – like it’s Christmas morning.

And how did Showcase go? Like medal ball. I felt like I was a great dancer, I was happy with how I danced, it felt so amazing to be back dancing on that floor again. My teacher and I could not stop making jokes while we were dancing, just because I was so happy to be dancing and in such a good place that I couldn’t stop teasing him and being a smart-ass. And my parents came out to see me, which was nice. And a couple of my friends came out too, and their support means so much to me. I was so grateful for it.

So I’m doing much better now. SO MUCH BETTER. And I’m in that place again where I just want to LEARN ALL THE THINGS with dance now.

learn all the things

I just want to improve it all and fix everything. My teacher, of course, loves it when I’m at that place. I’m a lot easier to teach when I’m there versus the thinky place.

There were a few people who really got my through that week: MS, SP, SH, CS, DP, LS, and others. I’m lucky to have friends like that in my life.

And I’m so lucky that I’m happy with dancing again!!

Pissy rant ahead

17 Nov

Pissy rant ahead. But hang on til the end.

I’ve been in a horrible funk the last two weeks. I read blogs like “Hyperbole and a Half“, “The Bloggess” and Wil Wheaton’s, and I admire how open they can be about their struggles with mental illnesses. And I think we should all be that open about it. But I still want to hide that part of myself. I hate that part. I hate that my brain is wired for that. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never be cured of it. All I can do is try to manage it when it flares up.

Mine shows up as anxiety. I’ve learned A LOT over the last seven years or so how to cope with it and how to have less of it. Those of you who knew me 10 years ago can attest to that. But I still have it. Usually, I can tell what has triggered the latest episode. Then if I deal with the trigger, the anxiety goes away.

Sometimes, it takes a while for me to be able to figure out and deal with the trigger. Until then, the anxiety shows up as a lack of confidence in myself and in my value and worth to the world. Then it starts showing up as losing my sense of humor, making poor eating choices, and not being active.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an episode was starting. And I (still) have no idea what triggered it. And it slid down the slope so quickly, I never had a chance to catch it.

And it’s been awful. I had a long talk with a friend of mine about a week ago, and he was trying to help me figure it out and pull me out of it. God bless him. But nothing worked. But while talking to him, I heard myself saying things about how I hated being this person, I hate being around this person so how can I ask anyone else to be around me, nothing I do matters, I don’t know how I can contribute anything, blah blah blah. SIGH.

So here I was yesterday, still in a funk, still feeling anxious. I slept about 3 hours Friday night (I love it when my old friend insomnia comes back). I’ve had a ball of knots in my stomach for about a week. I’ve been unable to stop eating crappy food – way too much sugar consumed lately. And all I could think about was what was wrong in my life.

I kept mentally going over the list…

I’m overweight
My foot still bothers me sometimes where I broke it
I don’t have enough money
I’m tired
My cardio stamina has not come back fully from my foot and my bronchitis
Who would want to hang out with me really?
I have nothing to offer anyone

And it spirals from there.

Now, the rational part of my brain knows this is not true. It knows that there are lots of things I can offer. But as the Bloggess says, depression (or anxiety) lies. Your brain tries to tell you differently, and it’s wired to believe it.

So yesterday, I had a dance lesson first thing. I went to it exhausted and drained and anxious. (Thankfully not anxious about my dancing.) It was an OK lesson. My teacher and I got a bit short with each other, mainly because I was pissy. Which made my responses to what he was saying be short. And he was trying to pull me out of it by giving me a kick in the pants. Which sadly this time did not help me. So I was getting more and more frustrated with myself. Not thinky. Just frustrated about being THIS PERSON on my lesson and in my life. And wanting to get over it but not knowing how because all the tricks I have weren’t working.

I left the studio and was going to go to the gym. I got into my car and immediately burst into tears because I was so frustrated with myself. But also, I clearly needed to process something. I’m still not sure what. So I cried in my car for about 10 minutes. Once I stopped crying, I decided that I was too tired and emotional to go workout. Probably not the right decision but this is what anxiety does to me. Instead, I decided to be a productive member of society and run a crap ton of errands.

Then I had about an hour to kill before group class. The only reason I went to group class was because I knew my friend CS was going to go, and we usually have lunch afterwards. I knew it’d be good to hang out with her, so I knew I would go to group class. To kill time beforehand, I went to my favorite coffee shop. I finished reading the book for book club next week. Then I had about 20 minutes to kill.

Then I thought about this blog I follow. I think the author writes to remember the good times in life, not the bad. Maybe I’ve been doing the opposite and have been focusing on the bad and the negative. I am Irish after all. So what if I deliberately tried to focus on the good things?

So I decided to start a list. Brainstorm what is good in my life…physical, emotional, talents, gifts, anything positive. No censoring except for censoring out the bad and the negative. Just write.

So I did. And you know what? I had two things on it: I have great hair (yes, I’m vain about it, it’s the only thing I’m vain about) and I can dance.

Again, I know there are a lot more things. That’s just how deep the anxiety hole is right now – I can’t even see the rest.

So I went to group, which was fine. Then me and CS went to lunch with her husband MS and our friends SH and SH. And it was actually a fun lunch. I started to enjoy myself a bit, which I haven’t been able to do much recently. Then we split off for the day. I had an appointment to have my hair colored. So I went to the awesome Jennifer, and she colored it. I love seeing her for my hair. She pushes me to try new things but in a very gentle way because she knows me. I enjoy chatting with her. And she makes me feel beautiful. This time, she added slightly more red to the color. And when she dried it, she curled my hair. So I had fancy hair, which made me feel so good.

Then I met SP for dinner. She really wanted a doughnut, but we couldn’t find parking near Glam Doll. So we ended up at Butter, and I could feel myself relaxing more and more the more we talked. I got to hear all about her most recent trip, we talked a little about my issue the last few weeks, and then we just caught up. I always have a good time with her! Afterwards I needed groceries and she did too, so we went grocery shopping together. And we ended up making fun of so much stuff in the store. Like the Barbies. And the Twister Skip game. And trying to find window insulating kits. Which we walked by about 3 times before we asked someone for help. And the how to speak Wookie toy. And the sandwich post-it notes. And the Christmas music samplers. Oh good, we laughed for about 30 minutes straight, I think.

And by the end of the day, after crying a little and seeing Jennifer who made me feel pretty and laughing with SP, I felt so much better. I slept all night and have had a productive day so far today. Laundry’s done (almost), food is made for next week, bills are paid. I still have a little knot in my stomach. But I’m hoping I can cling to how I felt last night and this morning, and just keep building on that.

Because I hate being the anxious insecure person. And I want to be who I normally am now. And I will fight to get back there.

Because Showcase is next weekend!!! And I’m ready for it. And I will ROCK IT.

I saw this on Facebook on Friday and need to have a giant version of this framed:

Don't stand in your way

Because really, I am and I do. And I need to get out of my own way.

Daily prompt: Inside the actor’s studio

14 Nov

Daily prompt from November 12, 2013: On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. What are your responses?

1. What is your favorite word? Oh, there are so many. Judging from what I hear myself say, “whereas” and “hence” and “ergo” and “awesome” and “dude”.  I apparently mix intelligent words and the words of Jeff Spicoli.

2. What is your least favorite word? Probably “literally” when it’s used wrong. Do you mean literally or figuratively? GET IT STRAIGHT.

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Dancing. DUH.

4. What turns you off? Annoying, petty, pessimistic, passive-aggressive people.

5. What is your favorite curse word? The F-bomb. ALWAYS.

6. What sound or noise do you love? My friends and I sitting in a coffeeshop, talking and laughing.

7. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound when the dentist scrapes your teeth.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Actor. Not that I could do, I just wish I could.

9. What profession would you not like to do? Middle-school teacher. Those people are SAINTS. And should be the highest paid people ever.

10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Well done!”

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