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Guest post: On finding a new partner

17 May

You all know how much I enjoy Stef’s blog. She is such a great writer, and her journey is super inspiring! She has been through a few dance teachers, so I asked her to write a post on her experience with that. I wanted to see what her experience has been because sometimes it’s helpful to know what others have experienced. And hearing how someone worked through it is good too. Each of us has our own experiences when changing teachers, and here’s her story…

***

I woke up from an uneasy dream and I just knew it was over. After a couple weeks of cancelled lessons and rescheduled lessons, after we had completed our first competition together, after I’d bought a dress and made it through blisters and tears, and at a time when I was really getting into this ballroom thing, ready to step it up to the next level, it was suddenly apparent that my time with Matt was at an end.

Isn’t it odd how in specific moments a nebulous idea that’s been floating around in the spirit realm can crystallize into an undeniable truth? Well, on that morning, for me I was suddenly grounded in the knowing that my first ballroom teacher was no longer going to be my teacher or partner and that my journey was going to take a drastic, unwanted, and unexpected turn. I just knew that this wasn’t a temporary thing – that his protestations of a hurt back – wasn’t going to go away. For whatever reason, he was out.

Unfortunately for me, losing my first ballroom teacher was a mixed bag and a crappy situation. Here was this person who had introduced me to a form of dance that rekindled my passion for life. He had helped me move my hips. He had endured my tears. He had invited me to push beyond many boundaries both physical and mental. And, he also took money from me for 100 lessons and disappeared.

It didn’t happen all at once. It seemed like he just had some health issue. He had occasionally cancelled a lesson here and there in the past so I didn’t think too much about it at first. But days became weeks, and at a certain point I knew something was up.   He was never able to come 100% clean with me, which is a shame. I’ve actually not seen him since then, but for a while I took lessons from his mother who was also a ballroom instructor as a substitute. There was a half-hearted effort to set things right, but it wasn’t her responsibility to take that on, and anyways, it’s just not the same learning from a female as having a male instructor lead.

I had to grieve the loss. It may sound silly but I’m not kidding. Dance had become a big part of my life. I felt the void created by both the loss of the person I’d bonded with and the dancing that filled up something in my soul. I had to find a way to cope with that. The good thing that came out of that experience is that now I know, for me, dance is a non-negotiable. I will have it in my life until I can’t move. Period.

I chose to forgive the financial transgression. I let it all go. Because I wanted to focus on all that I appreciated and gained from the experience. And that was worth more to me than any price. It doesn’t make the situation okay, but I don’t think about it and I don’t hold resentment in my heart.

The downside of it was, however, that it was poor timing. I was completely burned out at work and wanted a career change and I quit. It meant that I didn’t have the extra finances to pursue ballroom and find a new instructor right away.

So when things became more stable financially after a year or so, I realized I could get back in the game. But where to start?

Here’s the deal, life is interesting and unexpected. Sometimes things happen to us like our instructor leaves when we would prefer they didn’t. But at the same time every new beginning is some other beginning’s end. The leaving of one person creates the space for another person to come into our lives. Looking back at the chain of events, I’m grateful for all of my teachers, even the one who essentially stole from me. In the long run I’d never want to work with someone dishonest like that when I come to this process as authentically as I can. The Universe knew that and he was removed from my path.

So now I had at least an idea of what I was looking for in an instructor but I had no idea where to find him. I think for me, as well, it was especially challenging because people didn’t take me seriously when I walked in the door – I mean, I weighed 300 pounds and here I am saying I want to be a competitive dancer. They just partnered me with any Joe Schmo that had an open schedule. I was clear I wanted a higher level dancer than that. But I had no idea how to break into that “exclusive club.” I had no connections to any dance studio but I did know enough to be able to see the caliber of dancing.

So I did what I could. I looked at some websites. I looked at photos and videos of the teachers. I weeded out some places like that. Then I signed up for introductory lessons at a few different studios to essentially try-out various instructors. I weeded out a few more. Of course location was also an issue, which is funny because with my current instructor Ivan I have driven across the city more times than I can count – but he’s worth it!

Anyways, without having a foot in the door, I settled on the instructor that seemed the best I could find. And you know what, for the part of my journey that he helped me with, he was great. He was very knowledgeable but more of an athlete than a dancer. The distinction being he could intellectually describe all the steps and go through the motions, but he didn’t actually emote or feel the music or the dance or the communication. He helped me learn more basics and helped me get in to better physical shape.

But at a certain point I knew that he couldn’t get me where I wanted to go. I craved that “dancer” part that he lacked as well as connection. But because I kept taking each step forward, for instance, dancing at his studio, I came into contact with other people. I observed Inna and Artem at this time as they danced out of the same studio, so I knew this level of instructor was around. Also I met Nona, Ivan’s mother-in-law. I actually had her coach me and she changed my Latin Rumba walks in 30 seconds! She knew exactly what to say to communicate what I needed to do and I was very impressed that she knew what the heck she was doing! Also she had competed professionally. So I kind of look at this part of my journey as another stepping stone that moved me forward and positioned me to take the next leap.

So when the studio closed and I knew I wanted more than this particular instructor could give I called Nona to ask her who I should dance with. The rest, as they say, is history. I had made the right connection that put me in the sphere of the kind of instructor I’d always wanted. I think part of that was getting clearer and clearer about what I needed and wanted. It also meant kissing a few frogs to find my dancing “prince” and it meant taking steps forward when I didn’t know the ultimate outcome. The most important thing was to keep taking the next step before me.   Now I consider myself to be the luckiest girl when it comes to my dancing instructor and partner and friend. If those were the actions I needed to take to get me to arrive where I am then I’m grateful for them.

If I were to give any advice to someone who is facing a transition from one instructor to another, especially if it is not something expected or wanted, I would say a few things. First, acknowledge that there has been a loss. You don’t have to categorize it as good or bad but just accept that a void has been created in your life. Second, take time to process and/or grieve the loss. This has been an important part of your life and it’s totally valid to do what you need to do to comfort yourself, accept it, and move forward. Third, I’d say be open to the possibilities. You never know what your next instructor may bring to your life and your dancing. Fourth, I’d say get clear on what you want out of your ideal instructor. Meditate on the best aspects of your previous instructors and think about what you’d put on a “wish list” too! Finally, I’d say don’t limit your options. Take some time and put some energy into finding a good fit. Perhaps visit various studios and take some trial lessons with a few instructors that interest you. Look at as an opportunity to learn and grow but resolve not to settle for what’s convenient just because it’s there.

In defense of Cuban motion

27 Feb

I really enjoy reading other blogs. I read some about food. OK, a lot about food. And some about ballroom dancing. OK, a lot about ballroom dancing. I like hearing other people’s perspective. It’s interesting to see how their experience compares to mine. And what’s different.

But every once in a while, I read something that gets to me. And I feel the need to respond. And debate a little.

This happened a few days ago when I read this entry from Facing Diagonal Wall. Go read it and then come back, because otherwise my post may not make sense.

Done? You’re back now? OK good. Let’s continue.

Believe me, I know how hard it can be to learn Cuban motion. When I first started working on it, there were huge mental blocks in my way. HUGE. I was raised NOT to move my hips like that EVER. Plus, I was still a relatively new dancer (early in bronze II, I think). So that was a ginormous thing to try and work through, which I did with the help of my teacher.

But I disagree with what Facing Diagonal Wall says: he states “I know it is an essential part of any Latin dance but let’s be honest, you’ve either got it or you don’t.”

WHAT?

My whole experience with dance and my studio is that you can anything related to dance. You may not be able to do it like a professional, but even the most-challenged dancers can do a version on Cuban motion (or any dance technique or step), and it doesn’t look stupid. It looks appropriate for how they dance.

And I can attest (and my friends can, too) that I cannot move on a non-ballroom dance floor at all. AT ALL. I’m pretty white. I mean, when I started dancing, I was convinced I wouldn’t be good at it because I was so uncoordinated. But with a great teacher, I am able to do these things and do them well. (Helps that I had some undiscovered talent for ballroom dancing, too, but still.)

I wonder if the difference between his (Facing Diagonal Wall) experience and mine is the teaching. And the teachers. Mine could recognize that this was a mental block for me (yet ANOTHER one) and could draw on his experience to know when to push, when to pull me through it, when to switch to something else for a while, and when to just let it rest. And maybe Facing Diagonal Wall’s teacher didn’t have that insight or experience to draw on for whatever reason.

Yes, Cuban motion can be awkward when you first work on a new portion of it. So can any new technique in dance when you first try it. Of course it’s awkward – it’s NEW. It’s a new and therefore not muscle-memory-comfortable way of moving. But eventually it will be comfortable. You just have to remember how the basic step in waltz felt at first – awkward, too, right?

I’m going through it right now as we work on the next level of Cuban motion. (Well, not right now, because I haven’t been able to dance for a week or so because of this stupid flu.) But it’s awkward. And I’m still not sure how to tell what muscles to move where. But I’ve been through enough of these experiences in dance to know that it’s just part of the learning process, I know I’ll get it eventually, and I just need to keep trying and keep working on it. It doesn’t freak me out anymore or derail me.

I’m guessing that Facing Diagonal Wall has some mental block on Cuban motion that he needs to work through. And probably his post was just a rant that we all need to do about dance at times. (My poor friend SP – she gets so many texts from me that are rants about my dancing. So does AD. And they’re both still my friend – that’s amazing. Thanks, guys!) I think he’s stuck in the thinky place on this. And we all know how much I’ve been there, right? I’ve just learned how not to set up a second home there.

So hang in there, Facing Diagonal Wall! I feel your pain. I will say that if you think it’s something you either have or don’t and you don’t have it, you’ll never get it. But I believe (and I’m sure your teacher believes) that you can and WILL learn it. Just remember the four stages of competence: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Also known as initial, awkward, conscious, and natural for you non-nerds.

(Oh my goodness, my teacher would be so proud of this post. Defending Cuban motion, claiming anyone can do Cuban motion, and spouting the four stage of competence! Don’t tell him, OK?)

So, Facing Diagonal Wall, if you have anything to say in response, I’d love to hear it! But meanwhile, just know I’m rooting for you. You’ll conquer Cuban motion yet!

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!!!

Daily prompt: The first person

21 Jan

Daily prompt from January 18: Who was the first person you encountered today? Write about him or her.

This was the daily prompt on last Saturday. Saturday, my roommates were out of town, so I woke up to an empty house. I got up, got ready, had breakfast, drank coffee…all in complete solitude. If that sounds like a nightmare to you, you must be an extrovert. To an introvert, it’s ideal. (Read this article for a bit more insight.) Then I went to the dance studio for my lesson. And the first person I saw there? My teacher.

So…my dance teacher. I’ve said before that I’m extremely lucky. He is an excellent dancer and an even better teacher. His teaching style fits my learning style very well. He knows when and how to drag me outside my comfort zone and when to just leave it be for a bit. He has learned how to deal with my thinky place and whether (in his words) I need a kick in the pants or a hug to get out of it. (Sometimes he guesses the wrong solution. No one’s perfect.) He has seen me at my darkest, craziest place, and I still feel supported. It’s really the first time, outside of a romantic relationship, that someone has seen so much of that side of me and has not walked away. (It’s also the first time, outside of a romantic relationship, that I’ve shown someone so much of that side of me.) That means a lot to me.

He’s not perfect. He is extremely private, which can make conversation awkward at times if he feels it’s going to a place he doesn’t want it to be. He rarely missteps in dealing with people – when he does screw up, he feels very bad about it. We’ve had our arguments and our run-ins, and we’ve always been able to talk it out and move past it.

We do tend to debate on lessons. Not about dancing, but about stupid things. (The latest was the use of “you” vs “one”. I lost.) In the battle of words and wit, I lose. Always. I keep trying though.

He listens and is willing to sit down and talk about goals or issues or problems about dance. I’ve let him dictate what we work on when because he knows my goal (to be the best dancer I can be) and therefore he knows how best to get there. (One of our debates was about that goal. He says that my actions and manner tell him that my goal is to the best dancer. Period. Read about that here.)

I trust him 100%. Except when he compliments me. I’ve gotten much better at believing him. It was hard for a long time because I felt like it was his job to say those things. Then I realized that while part of his job is to keep me happy, he does NOT have to use those particular words.

He’s got a goofy sense of humor that I laugh at, sometimes because it’s just weird not because it’s funny. Other students sometimes say he’s too serious. I have not experienced that. He’s serious about dancing, but he tries to be a little goofy with me to help keep me from being too serious and thinky.

He changed my life as dancing has changed my life. Which is a topic for another day. For now, I’ll leave you with a picture (actually it’s a picture of a picture because I don’t have the electronic file) from our Lindy hop dance at showcase. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

Lindy!

I still thank the stars that I started dancing and that I got him as my teacher.

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.

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

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!!

Weekly roundup

28 Oct

Last week, I…

*Blogged more than once! Woo hoo!

*Celebrated my dance anniversary. Four years! And what a great four years.

*Had an amazing chai cinnamon roll with coffee while catching up with my cousin at a great new coffee shop.

mmm cinnamon rolls

*Bought a very big bag of cough drops because of my bronchitis WHICH I STILL HAVE.

big-ass bag of cough drops

It’s getting better though.

*Told you about the way I listen to music and the podcasts I listen to.

*Got the lamest fortune cookie. It’s not a fortune cookie, it’s a cliché statement cookie.

fortune cookie

*Had four dance lessons! In one week! It was great – too bad I can’t do that every week. But at least I can do one a week at a minimum.

*Ate dinner with MK, which hadn’t happened in far too long.

*Finished knitting another hat for a friend of mine. Then I went through all my leftover yarn. The yarn bins are bursting – so new rule: all new projects must use yarn I already have.

(And happy birthday today to my dad!)

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!

It’s been four years

22 Oct

Today is my dance anniversary. Four years ago, I walked into the dance studio for the first time…and changed my life.

dancers

I still don’t have the words to express how much it’s changed me and my life.dancers I’ve tried here and here, but I’m still not sure that it really captures what dancing has done for me. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made in me because of dance and how far I’ve come. And I’m so grateful for my very patient, very awesome teacher who’s helped me through some challenging moments.

And I think I’m MAYBE starting to really believe in myself and my ability. Most days, I really feel like a great dancer.

I’m thankful to have found my passion and my joy and my talent. I can’t imagine my life without dancing!

I know that a day from now, I’ll look at this post and want to rewrite it. But I still won’t have the words. Just know that it really changed my life and who I am for the better, and that means so much to me. Dancing is something that I now have to do, and it brings me so much joy and happiness.

And I still thank God every day that I took that first step into the studio four years ago.

Happy dance!!

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