Tag Archives: goals

Here we go…

2 Aug

In October 2010, I moved back with my parents. Partially to help them out as they got their house ready to sell, and partially to save money. You see, I had a plan of how to reach some financial goals in terms of debt and retirement. So I had to spend as little as possible. But I needed to keep dancing. Yes, needed. I can’t imagine my life without it. So for four years, I lived on a cash-only basis, I didn’t go out much, I didn’t buy a lot of clothes, I ate out less, I put my stuff in storage and stayed with friends paying cheap rent. My target date, if all went according to plan, was July 1, 2014.

And you know what? I MADE IT. I’m now debt-free, I’ve looked at my retirement and savings and am track, and I have a habit of operating with cash only, no credit.

When I moved four years ago, I knew where I wanted to live when I was out on my own again. And I found an apartment in that complex. The rent is a little higher than I was planning on. But I readjusted my budget and just know that things will be a bit tighter for a short while. It’s worth, though, to live in a grown-up place in a neighborhood I love.

July was crazy. I moved. And after moving so many times (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, and now 2014 – yikes), I know that moving is the most stressful thing I can do to myself. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice over the last few years in how to cope with it. Rule number one: Have professionals do the actual moving. Rule number two: Unpack as quickly as possible. I moved on a Wednesday morning and had the last things done on Saturday. BOOM.

And while money is tighter, it’s not horribly tight. I can still go out with friends, I can buy some clothes, and most importantly, I can still afford all my dancing. And I’m excited to live my life again! I’m in my own apartment, which hasn’t happened since 2010. I just feel like it’s all starting over, I get to be a grown-up again and not crash with friends. I really can’t describe how excited I am. I’ve been inspired to cook and bake again, and I’ve started going to the gym every day before work. (OK, it’s literally a two-minute walk door-to-door, so how can I not? But still…I’m there every morning!)

And I love my apartment! It’s got enough space but not so much that cleaning’s a pain. All my stuff fits in nicely, and there’s great storage too. The kitchen is fantastic, although I haven’t cooked with an electric stove and oven in years. But I’m adjusting to that.

I owe my parents and my friends a lot for letting me live with them and pay cheap rent. I can never describe to any of them what that support and help means to me. Without them, I would have had to stop dancing. And can you imagine me without dancing? That’d be one sad Cathy. Let’s not go back there, shall we?

I wish I was a better writer so I could convey just how energized I am now to do THINGS. I’m knitting again, I’m baking, I’m reading, I’m RUNNING again (right? yeah it’s been a while)…I am HAPPY. So very happy.

happy-dance

Refocus…AGAIN

10 Mar

OK, so every year at New Year’s, I try to refocus. But this year, January was super busy with work, then I got the flu. So now I think I’m over the flu (mostly, anyway). And I’ve gained about 10-15 pounds since Thanksgiving.

So starting today, I’m refocusing again. Food and exercise. Must lose those pounds and get back to where I was, ideally where I was right before I broke my foot. I think that was when I was in the best shape – the thinnest and the strongest and the healthiest.

The thing is I’m not very good at the long haul. I tend to get discouraged and quit when I don’t see immediate results. Dancing is the only place where that’s not true. In dancing, I can wait for the long term gain. But elsewhere in life, not so much.

Every Sunday, I do the crosswords in the paper. And the horoscopes are right next to the crosswords, so I read mine(Virgo), just for fun. But here was today’s:

horoscope

A timely reminder right? Each decision, each day. I can do that.

Dance camp

27 Jan

Last week, I went to camp. Dance camp, that is.

Twice a year, our studio hosts dance camp. You can participate at either the two lesson a day level or the three lesson a day level, and you usually have an exchange lesson (a lesson with a teacher other than yours) each day as one of the lessons. The lessons generally are earlier than the studio usually opens. They also have one group class each day just for the dance camp participants. The nice thing about dance camp is by doing so many lessons so close together, you can really make some great progress on your dancing.

I decided to do the three lesson a day level. Figuring it would be a bit exhausting perhaps, I had taken the whole week off work. I have the vacation time, and it’s a good excuse to use it. Plus, I figured it’d be tough to dance then work each day. Unfortunately, work turned out to be way more busy than either I or my boss had expected. So I did have to work, but luckily I got to do it from home except of a few meetings I had to go in for.

So there were two objectives for me for dance camp. (Apparently. You all know that I think my teacher is the expert so I leave those types of decisions to him.) One was using your sides. We worked a lot on stretching your side in smooth dancing and using it to provide momentum down the floor. It was a lot about contrabody movement and pointing your ribcage down the floor. We worked on this I think a little bit each day, primarily using waltz as the vehicle to practice the technique. We also worked on getting your side (bottom rib, really) over your foot in Cuban motion in the rhythm dances. Which pushed my Cuban motion even further than I had been doing it. Which, duh, was kinda the point – taking Cuban motion to the next level. It also applies to swing a bit especially in turns. Get on the foot, get your side over the foot, then turn. (I have trouble with the “then turn”. I tend to turn early.) We had been working since Showcase in November on the swing open. Right after Showcase, my teacher decided that it was the perfect time to take swing apart and really work on the technique. So between that and the work we did during dance camp, I no longer consider swing the bane of my existence! It feels sooo much better. Not awkward. Easier, more controlled. Waiting to turn. More swing-like.

The other objective was learning a chunk of choreography for the Lindy hop routine I’m doing at Showcase in June. Choreography is a great thing to do during dance camp, because you’re going back to it every day. It gets solidified in your brain more quickly. And I’m super excited about this routine – I’m doing it for my dad. He loves to see me dance, he loves to see my teacher dance, and Lindy hop is from his era of high school and college. And my teacher has accepted the challenge and is making this a pretty advanced Lindy hop routine. So advanced, that there’s one step I can’t do yet! I don’t know the name of it, or if it’s even a real step. But basically, we’re in side-by-side position, and we do a grapevine. But in the grapevine, we’re on our heels on the front feet and our toes on the back feet. Basically we twist our centers to get the movement. I can do it without my shoes; I think there’s something psychological about putting all of my weight on one heel of my shoe even for a split second. But I’m practicing it, and if I can get it (which I think I will), it will look so cool!

The group classes were fantastic. I had to miss two of them – schedule-wise, I had lessons during the group class time on two days. But on Monday, my teacher did one on turns – smooth and rhythm. The smooth turns are harder for me because I haven’t worked on technique on those as much as rhythm turns. Plus, everyone else in the class is more advanced than me, which can be difficult for my brain. Wednesday, Abby did one on rhythm arm styling. That was awesome and so helpful. Oh, I had to miss Thursday’s class because I had to call in to work and talk to my boss. So I guess I only did two of them.

I had exchanges lessons, too. One with Abby on getting your side over your foot in Cuban motion. I like her. She’s a lot of fun and a really good teacher. The other two exchanges I had were with David; we’ll be dancing rumba at Super Saturday in a few weeks so it was a chance to work on that with him. They were great lessons. It’s never the same as working with my teacher, plus I find David harder to follow in rhythm than smooth. But it’s always great to hear things in a different way.

So the big question I’m sure you all have is how did my brain handle so much information in one week?

Well, Monday morning, I showed up for my first dance camp lesson. So first thing on my first lesson, my teacher starts with the really deep technique about using your sides for smooth dancing and makes me try some things on my own.

Damn. I forgot about that part of dance camp.

I absolutely hate trying things on my own. It is extremely uncomfortable for me. And it’s worse if other people are in the ballroom which luckily there weren’t. And my teacher knows all that, so I know when he asks me to do so, it’s for a very valid reason and is a necessity. But when he asks, my brain just gets muddled. It’s pretty much a direct and Concorde-speed route to the thinky place.

But…luckily I’ve gotten much better about the thinky place. I think I have a good self-talk script now. I don’t go there often anymore, and when I do, it’s usually for just a brief second. This one took about 5 minutes to start to pull myself out of. But eventually I did. I did a good job of staying out of the thinky place the rest of the week.

I woke up on Tuesday with my inner thighs hurting a bit from working on waltz. But they quickly adapted and weren’t sore the rest of the week. That was pretty much the only physical issue I had, other than my muscles just being used a lot more than they are in a normal week. But my poor brain was a mess. I did end up having to work about 20 hours, so I was constantly switching gears between work and dance. I don’t do that well, especially when both were demanding so much of my brain power. I was pretty mentally exhausted by the end of the week.

So for my last lesson that week, we just did run-throughs. In order of the nine dances, closed then open. (So waltz, tango, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, cha cha, rumba, swing, bolero, mambo. Except we ran out of time for bolero and mambo.) I think it was my teacher’s way of showing what progress had been made during the week. Plus it’s just a nice way to end dance camp.

We started dancing and I noticed it’s easier. Lighter, in a good way. A bit more powerful in my legs. We danced waltz, tango, and foxtrot, and they all felt good. Then we got to Viennese waltz. We danced it closed, and then my teacher went to change the music. Then he looked at me.

My teacher: Cathy, are you OK?
Me: Yes.
My teacher: You sure?
Me: Yes, why?
My teacher: You look like you’re about to cry.
Me: I am. (as I’m tearing up)
My teacher: Why? What’s wrong? (in a very concerned tone, probably thinking oh crap now what?)
Me: That just feels so different. So light, so easy. So very different. So much better. (I’m crying at this point)
My teacher: Yay! Happy breakdowns! (as he gives me a hug)

God knows he’s had to deal with more than his share of negative breakdowns, so this was a nice change for him.

But the point is, I made so much progress last week that even I could notice it. I felt after that like I do after a performance – I know I’m a good dancer, and I want to just learn it all now.

When I did dance camp last, I think I had just started bronze II. And it was a great experience. But to do it as a bronze IV student – so amazing. I can’t wait to do it next January – I’m going to try to keep doing it every January. Because it was a great experience, and I love how I feel about my dancing right now.

(In case you’re curious…I danced 12.75 hours during dance camp: 1.5 hours in group classes, 9 hours in lessons with my teacher, 1.5 hours in lesson with other teachers. And that doesn’t include the regular evening dancing I usually do which was another 3.75 hours I think. Grand total = 16.5 hours of dancing. Yes, I’m a numbers person.)

WHAT A GREAT WEEK!!!

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!

The one-month freakout

28 Oct

So you know how some people freak out when they have to perform? You know…the day of, they’re a nervous wreck. You know that’s not me. I love to perform, and the day of a performance, I’m calm and confident. I don’t need a lot of attention from my teacher that day. I don’t go to the thinky place at all. I know on those days that I GOT THIS.

I freak out about 4 weeks beforehand. And guess what? Showcase is in a month.

I’ve been thinking the last few days about how we need to fix this spot in this open or work on that in closed. The list I have in my brain on what needs to be done before Showcase seems overwhelming. So much to work on and fix to get it ready to perform in a month! Gah! I start counting how many lessons I have left between now and then. (Seven, if you want to know.)

Then I immediately tell myself that it’s a month away, this is my normal freakout, and my teacher will make sure it’s all good to go. Yes, there are things I can work on when I practice. In my lesson Saturday, I asked my teacher to give me that list so I could actually write it down. And I did write it down, which helped.

I keep reminding myself that I’ve been here before. And each time, it all comes together, and I rock it on the day of performance. And I’ll continue to have faith in myself and in my teacher who will make sure it’s great by then.

But it’s one month away!

Weekly roundup: staycation edition

19 Aug

Last week, I had a staycation. I took the week off from BOTH jobs – haven’t done that in the four years I’ve been working two jobs. My goal was to not be a sloth and just sit on the couch all day every day. I wanted to be deliberate in what I did each day. I also wanted to try to break my TV habit.

I set out a plan of things I would do every day: Run, yoga, read, knit, and dance practice. Then I figured out the other things I wanted to do. Because I’m nerdy, I made a list.

staycation-list

So what did I do?

*I ran four out of five days. Including my first two-mile run without walking since I broke my foot!

*I did yoga four out of five days.

*I read. A lot. All I have left on my reading to-do list is finish “A Passage to India” and reread “Anna Karenina”.

*I purged. Took a bag of books and bag of CDs and DVDs to Half Price Books and made $30 on it all!

*I packed. My parents and nephew came over on Wednesday morning and helped. My mom packed my kitchen, because she ROCKS at that. My nephew (with some help from my dad) hauled everything out of the basement for me. I was afraid to do that because hauling my bike out of the basement is how I broke my foot.

half-packed

*I finished packing everything I own except my clothes, my bathroom stuff, and my furniture. This is everything:

all-packed

I’m trying to decide if that’s still a lot of crap or if it’s a minimal amount of stuff to own.

*I practice my school figures for dance. A LOT. Sometimes I went to the studio, sometimes I did them at home. But I practiced. Four dances down, six to go! (Six? Seven? I can’t remember. That’s my teacher’s job.)

*I listened to podcasts. I was so far behind on mine. I added it up (again, because I’m a nerd), and it was about 20 hours of podcasts. I still have 3 hours left. But I used the podcasts instead of the TV all week – yay!

*I caught up on Game of Thrones. I had watched season one on Netflix. A very kind friend gave me her HBO log on so I could watch the rest. And I did. OK, so I did watch some TV.

*I knitted. Again, I’m up against a deadline, so I’m frantically trying to finish this. I’ll show you it when it’s done. But I made great progress on it!

*I did some strength training on two days.

*I biked. Twice for fun, but four or five times as a mode of transportation around the neighborhood. I biked to meet friends, I biked to the studio, I biked to the co-op.

*I had breakfast with LS, lunch with NA, dinner with MK.

*I purge my closet and took a garbage bag full clothes and shoes to Goodwill.

*I refinished some toddler chairs I had.

refinished-chairs

*I did NOT look at my work email. Not once. I kept the notifications on, so I could see if anything came through that needed my attention. But nothing looked like it did, so I didn’t open it ONCE. Proof:

emails

Yep, 88 unread messages. Sweet. Only about 30 of those are ones I had to deal with when I got back today. Thank you, awesome boss man, for dealing with the rest! I know it’ll be payback when he’s gone for two weeks next month.

*I lost three pounds!

*I got a cold. After all that, a summer cold showed up Wednesday night. Luckily it’s a minor one, so I feel OK. Just a little coughy.

All in all, it was a great week. I feel refreshed and rested and ready to resume my crazy schedule!

Weekly roundup

15 Jul

Last week, I…

*Got the all-clear from my doctor on my wrist. I can now resume all normal activities! Strength training, here I come!

*Started the yearly big project at work I get to do every July. But this year, I found a trick that will save me about 10 hours of work on it. Yay productivity! Or just yay, less stress!

*Broke bread with friends: Dinner with ND and CD, brunch with SP and DF, dinner with LS…all good friends and good food. Makes me grateful for those people in my life. And for good restaurants.

*Went to a ballroom dance competition. My very first non-Arthur Murray one. And really enjoyed it. And decided to just go for it.

*Almost completed my free time list. More on that soon.

*Danced. Two lessons, during one of which we did full run-throughs of the smooth opens. I had very low expectations for them, both in terms of remembering choreography and in terms of how well I would be able to dance them since I hadn’t dance them since before I broke my foot. (Oof, run-on sentence!) And they went well! Even Viennese waltz. So happy. Oh, it felt so good to just DANCE. Next up, the rhythm opens! Oh dear, that means mambo. And neither me or my teacher can ever remember the mambo choreography. I guess we’ll find out Saturday how that goes.

*Almost baked. It’s so hot here right now – highs in the 90s – and I hate using an oven during that kind of weather. (I don’t have central air conditioning, just a little window unit.) But I miss baking! So I might try it this weekend. Maybe. If it’s not too hot.

*RAN. Three times. My endurance is getting better each time! It better be, because I signed up for a 5K for the end of August. Eek. I think I’ll be 100% by then. I hope. That’s the goal anyway!

Just go for it

14 Jul

Last night, my friend LS and I went to a non-Arthur Murray ballroom dance competition. We went for the Saturday evening portion which is the professional competition. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I had heard good things about the event. I wanted to go to see what it was like, but I also wanted to go to see my friend KB and her husband compete. They’re professional ballroom dancers, and I’ve never seen them dance. Plus, it’s always great to watch any pro couple dance.

In listening to people around us, it seems like it’s a Dance-O-Rama for anyone. The Dance-O-Ramas are just for Arthur Murray students. This competition seemed like the same thing but for anyone from any studio. Which is cool.

And it was so great! KB and GB were so fantastic! And all the pro couples were amazing to watch. Jaw-dropping at times. I always learn watching pros. I tend to watch for styling, and there is always a lot of things to pick up. It does make you realize you’ll never be that good, and you’ll never dance as well as you would like to. But it gives you something to strive for. And isn’t dance about just trying to the best you can be?

But the one thing that really struck me was how the pros just go for it. Nothing is done halfway, everything is done 100%. And while I’m a good dancer, I KNOW there are places that I don’t go 100%. Things like arm styling. And moving my hips. I’m subconsciously worried, I think, that I’ll look stupid if I try to do it. But I think it probably looks more stupid to do it halfway. So I’m going to try to remember this every time I dance. In particular, in the beginning of my Viennese waltz open, in the wiggle moment of my rumba open, and in rhythm dances.

Watching pros dance also motivates me. I want to be in the best shape I can be so I can be a good dancer. Hence my 30-minute run today. (OK, it was intervals, I’m still not up to doing full runs. But it still counts, right?) But it also motivates me to just dance the best I can and not hold myself back.

New rule: Just go for it. If it doesn’t work, my teacher can fix it. And it’s better to try with enthusiasm than to not try.

Weekly roundup

15 Apr

Last week, I…

*Had dance lessons with a different teacher while mine was on vacation. It’s always interesting to work with another teacher. But it makes me appreciate how well my regular teacher and me work together. Not that the exchange lessons weren’t great – they were, just not as great as my regular lessons.

*Started dog-sitting for a friend of mine. My two companions:

bailey      meg

More on our adventures soon.

*Practiced at the studio again with my friend SH. I really enjoy that. It’s like having a workout buddy. But for dancing. But it’s not a dance partner. You know what I mean.

*Wondered what I should be writing about on my blog.

*Watched “The Count of Monte Cristo” with my book club. We had just read it for book club, so we watched the movie as a group. That was fun! We’re reading “The Great Gatsby” for this month, so maybe we’ll watch that when the new movie version comes out in May.

*Went for frozen yogurt with SP because it’s spring. Kinda. Because this is totally a spring forecast:

spring
I don’t know why it says Mendota Heights when I’m in St Paul.

No? Oh well. It is what it is. I want it to get warmer just so people stop complaining ALL THE TIME about the weather.

*Worked out A LOT. Which felt great. And tiring.

All in all, a pretty awesome week!

Daily prompt: Apply yourself

27 Feb

Daily writing challenge from January 19: “Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.”

(I know, I know, this is from a while ago. Sorry!)

My last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to me…well, I think it was in dance (of course.) There have been a few things over the last year that have not come easily in dance. Welcome to being an advanced dancer, apparently.

But the one that is sticking out in my mind was actually the first time I ran into this in dance. I started as a newcomer (duh, because I was new) and then moved to Bronze I and then to Bronze II and then to Bronze III. It was about 15 months I think from newcomer to Bronze III? Fifteen or twenty months; I can’t remember. But I know it was fast. Super fast. When I got to Bronze III, I remember my teacher telling me that the days of easy fixes were over.

And he was right. We were working on a turn in my foxtrot routine (which is now my foxtrot open freestyle.) I think the turn is Bronze IV or Silver – I can’t remember – and it took almost the entire lesson before I could do it on my own correctly.

I remember wanting to cry on that lesson. I remember feeling so angry, especially at my teacher for pushing me and not giving up. I wanted to give up and work on it another time. He wouldn’t. I was so frustrated.

But that turn was the first time it took me SO LONG to get something right in my muscles. Dance until then had been very easy: one suggestion from my teacher, and I could fix what was wrong. Suddenly I was faced with something that I had to actually work on, and it didn’t come easily to me. I didn’t get it in five minutes or even fifteen. Oh that was hard. So frustrating.

He rarely pushes me that far anymore. But he knew, far better than I did, that I could do it and that giving in to giving up would set me back further, and it would allow me to walk away thinking I couldn’t do it. He was proving a point and giving me a lesson. A difficult lesson to learn, but a valuable one. (I just realized that sounds like he’s totally manipulative, and he’s not. Occasionally he won’t let me give up and move on, and this was one of those times.)

And I know that he would not choreograph a step without knowing I could do it someday. Maybe not right away, but someday soon. Same with technique. He would not give me things to work on in technique if he didn’t know I could do it someday. When I get frustrated, I remember that. Luckily the frustration has become more and more rare.

And in fact, with the way my lessons have been going, the frustration is pretty nonexistent. There are certainly things that don’t come right away to me, but I know if I keep plugging away at it, I’ll get it. And it will be super good when I do get it.

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