Getting back on my Feet

Once you fall down, you must get up.

A lesson I learned the hard way last night.

I have been really busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post, but last night during practice I was working on a spin, lost my balance and fell hard.  I was ok for the most part, but unfortunately I sprained my left wrist :(. The good news is though that it is not broken, just badly sprained.

This means some more silence for the next little bit as it recovers as it hurts to type.

I will still be doing lessons and practices, just no wrist work.  Lots to tell you–we finally put together a good plan and made the necessary changes to shake things up in how I am working.

My wrist should be doing better by the end of the weekend, so I hope to post before Monday!

See you soon!

Competing in Pro/Am

It’s been a while since I have done a general post, so I thought I would take a moment to talk about some of the things you should expect if you are thinking about getting into competing in pro/am.  I am not going to talk about budgeting or numbers, but if you are interested in learning about it I highly recommend The Girl with the Tree Tattoo’s e-book on the topic available at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HU8ZFS6#navbar.

So competing in pro/am–where to start??

First, I want to say that what I am writing is based on my own experiences dealing with a franchise and an independent instructor and that may ultimately be different from what you encounter.  It should give you a general idea what to expect though as a starting point.

How do you choose a competition?

I start by looking at the NDCA and NDCC calendars online. I choose a comp around when I want to compete and check out their websites.  I see where they are located, ticket prices, events available, schedule, registration prices and finally, the previous year’s results.  Checking the results can be tricky depending on the program used to display it, but it can give you a good idea of what the attendance is like at a specific competition and how many people have previously been in your age/level.  I also sometimes see if youtube has any videos posted from previous years.

Once I have selected an idea for some competition options I approach my instructor to see if he is interested and/or if other students might be interested as well.  I then ask him to give me an estimate for cost, and do some cost estimating myself.

So what types of expenses you can expect to encounter when competing?

Competition Expenses (those paid directly to the organizer/vendor or via your pro to the organizer):

  • Registration Fees
  • Session tickets for your entry to the ballroom or Package
  • Video and/or photos

Your Pre/Comp Expenses (those you will need to have before you leave):

  • Costume/Dress
  • Make-up
  • Hair products/accessories
  • fishnet tights
  • Manicure/Pedicure
  • Tanning
  • A good suit bag for transporting your costume
  • Competition shoes

Your Travel Expenses (related to traveling):

  • Flights/Gas/Ferries/Tolls
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Taxis/Rental Car

Your Pro Fees (those you pay directly to your instructor):

  • Pro Fee for dancing (may be per diem or per dance or a flat fee)

Your Pro Expenses (Those that should be shared with other students competing):

  • Flight/Gas/Ferries/Tolls
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Taxis/Rental Car

I have tried to divide up those expenses which you will be responsible for covering yourself, and those you can expect to share with any other students who are competing (the Pro expenses).  You may be able to share hotel rooms/taxis, etc. with other students depending on what your relationship is.

Some tips:

  • Some competitions offer package prices that include tickets, meals and/or hotel accommodations for multiple sessions.  Sometimes these are worth it, sometime they are not.  I suggest doing your research on how much you would pay ‘a la carte’ VS ‘Wholesale package’.
  • It has been my experience with Franchise studios that they will give you one block price that includes all your packages as well as pro fees together.  There may or may not be a breakdown of prices.
  • For myself as a conscientious consumer, I always ask for a full breakdown of all costs I am paying to my professional.  If he is unable to provide that breakdown, the answer is an automatic ‘no’.  Because competing is such a large expense, I want to make sure I know what I am paying for each component in case I am able to find things for a better deal, or if I need to cut expenses I need to have an idea where they can be cut.
  • The hotel where the competition is being hosted is not likely the cheapest option.  I would research other hotels nearby and weigh that against the inconvenience of travel.  I have found hotels across the street from venue hotels for half price.
  • Make sure you understand how your instructor charges his fees for competitions.  Some charge per dance, others per day, some a flat fee for each competition.  These fees may or may not include taxes.
  • If you are planning to travel to another country make sure you take into account the exchange rate, and I suggest where possible paying by paypal, e-transfer or foreign currency money order so that your expense don’t fluctuate between when you pay them and when they are cashed due to fluctuating exchange rates.  I have seen students have to add a couple hundred to their fees after the fact because organizers didn’t cash cheques until just before the comp and exchange rates plummeted.  Also make sure you know what will be paid in your currency (like pro fees) vs what will be paid in the foreign currency.
  • Taxis vs rental cars–this is another cost comparison case.  Depending how close/far your hotel is from the venue and/or airport it could make a big difference.  Also, will you be doing things other than competing that you will need to travel to?  Rental car costs could be split with other students.
  • A hotel room with a fridge and/or microwave can be useful for keeping meal costs down.  You can potentially bring your own food, or grab some groceries to prepare food.

What should you expect at the competition?

  • Take the time to do a run-through in your costume a couple days before you leave so you can mitigate any issues that might come up.
  • Your heat list should be available online before the competition starts to give you an idea when to be there.  You should plan to be there at least 1 hour early and ready to go on the floor 30 mins prior.  Your pro should have a heat list of his own to help him keep track of his heats with all his students, but he may have an assistant if he is juggling multiple students in quick heats.
  • Even though you may be competing in single dances, it is common for all single dances in an age/level to be dances one after the other with only a short break between.  You will not leave the floor between these heats and others may come on/leave the floor as you progress.
  • You may be responsible for preparing and warming-up yourself and should prepare for that.  Usually there is a practice room to work in and there are ladies in the change room who are willing to help you get in and out of your costumes.
  • Be prepared to give your instructor some space.  He has his own preparations to do and may be juggling multiple students all of which need to warmed up, reassured, and scheduled.  Remember that while you may be having fun, he is also working.  Make sure you are close to the floor ready to go if your instructor is switching students between heats.  If you can, make sure he is able to look you over before you go out in case of issues.
  • Bring some small snacks for eating between heats and a water bottle.  I usually bring chocolate, although granola is also good.  Avoid anything too heavy like nuts or greasy food, and something with some sugar is good for keeping energy up during long days.  Most competitions do not break for lunch.
  • Stay Hydrated!  If you sweat a lot, bring a towel, but pat, don’t rub to keep from ruining your make-up.  Make sure you have lots of time if you need to use the bathroom in your costume and don’t be afraid to ask for help–better a couple moments feeling exposed than a dress wet from falling in the toilet or sink.
  • Don’t expect in-depth evaluations from your instructor during the comp.  Schedule time to review the experience after you get back.  Your instructor may have some pieces of advice or quick fixes to offer (like be sure to keep your frame up), but the comp is time to focus on competing and enjoying the experience!
  • Pro/am single dance awards may not be awarded on the floor.  You may have to go to the award table to get your results.  Some competitions only do line-ups for scholarships.  At the end of the competition, you may be able to ask for a printout of your total results for reference later, or you might have to wait for them to be posted online.
  • Many comps do not allow private videotaping.  Be sure to check ahead if you want videos for reference or memories.  You can expect to pay per event for videos from a vendor.  Most comps also have official photographers who sell photos at comps.

Finally–Just breathe and have fun!

I hope this helps give a glimpse into the pro/am competition world.

 

Change of Direction

When I had my lesson last week, at the end of it Boss mentioned that we should sit down and sort through my goals and other things.

I was really glad to hear that as I had been waiting for him to be ready to talk about goals and focus since I returned from my last surgery.  The main thing was Boss needed some time to see where I was physically and figure out what I needed to focus on.

I have been having some trouble cognitively lately (a chemo side effect, and/or HT side effect), and I just can’t seem to maintain my focus on any extended conversation.  It’s been getting gradually worse, but during one of my lessons last week Boss and I talked about style in latin and I retained very little of the conversation.

Because of that, when Boss said he wanted to talk about goals and focus, I immediately asked him to put the plan in writing for me.  I also asked him if we could look at everything comprehensively as he had indicated he wanted to make some changes to how I was working and restructure some things.

He agreed with me and is now thinking more comprehensively and hopes to have everything written and laid out to send to me to review before we discuss it–which will help my comprehension and save us discussion time as I can figure out my questions beforehand.

One of the main things Boss told me he wants to change up is my practices–with a switch from less drilling of specific techniques to working on ‘mini-sequences’ from my routines that consist of 3-4 steps.  Instead of working on just spin turns in waltz, I will now work on them in context with other steps from my routine–and in detail.  The goal is to have the steps with all the details (sway, alignment, technique, foot position, hip action) done in time with the music on my own.

I am not sure yet what my new schedule will look like, but I am looking forward to the change.  It’s almost a step beyond what I was doing before–I am going to be taking the techniques I have been practicing and figuring out how to apply them to my routines.

I am also really glad for the change in structure.  While I do really like the way I am working right now, I have been working that way for more than two years and it will be nice to refresh and try a new approach to how I am learning.  I think the change will be good for me mentally and hopefully will help with some of my struggles in motivation.

I fully expect some growing pains.  I don’t do change well, but as long as there is a definitive structure to the new plan I should be able to adjust.  Structure is key for me–otherwise I panic.  I can be flexible within a structure (like changing one day for another), but the outline needs to be there for me to work within.

Change is good.  I keep telling myself that 🙂

Tonight we already started working on some of the mini-sequences I will be doing in foxtrot, waltz and jive.  Boss seems to have a plan for what to give me from other dances as well.  He told me I am now learning things ‘exactly like the book’, which seems to be a natural way of learning for me–very precisely and in detail.

What we did today seems to make sense and the good thing is that I have enough of a foundation to be able to work through the sequences in the detail I want without getting overwhelmed.  Some things are coming almost naturally, so that is good.

I am eager to see what Boss comes up with later this week.

Change is good.

Chemoversary

1 year since my last chemo treatment.

Seems almost impossible at this point looking back.  All I remember was feeling bad that I felt so sick and weak at the time I didn’t have the energy to celebrate then.

So much has happened in the last year and I have come so far.  I have had radiation, shingles, 3 surgeries, returned to work, returned to strength training, returned to running and returned to structured dance training.  I have hair now!

There were some goals I reached (such as performing, regular workouts, structured eating), and some that are still works in progress (still have the extra 30lbs hanging around from chemo, even though I am smaller!).

I wonder if July 17th will be a day that will stick in my head for a long time yet.  It is almost a milestone, where I can look back over the last year and see the progress I have done.

Even a year later, I still suffer from side effects from the treatments.  I am still showing signs of premature menopause and it is getting less likely that will ever reverse.  I am still struggling with dry skin, something I never had before chemo.  My brain still gets very foggy and I have a hard time processing things verbally.  I often forget words in the middle of a sentence.

But I am here and in general doing well.  Last week was a challenge as I got a stomach virus which messed up the levels of HT in my system and caused side effects from that to act up.  I think I slept more than 12 hours 5 out of the last 7 days, but have had to take full doses of my insomnia meds to do so.

That’s the trickiest thing I am encountering right now–how to tell what is side effects, what is an actual illness and what is just general fatigue?  I am looking forward at the next two weeks and taking them to be the real adjustment period to working 6 hour days.

I also see a physio therapist next week for my knees–hopefully that will help and ‘reduce activity’ won’t be the first thing on the menu.

I missed practice and my lesson at the end of last week, but made it up on Friday (the lesson anyway).  It was a great lesson–Boss and I were working through the first smooth routine designed for us by the judge I mentioned.  Such a fun routine!

I will post more about that next week.  Boss also told me he is ready to discuss goals now that he knows where I am physically so I am looking forward to that.

I am going to leave you with something I haven’t done, and likely won’t again–before, during and after photos.  So here you–this is me 1 week before chemo, about halfway through, and me today.

Keep smiling and dancing!

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Falling apart?

Sometimes, small things make a difference.

My demons are still running pretty wild. But that is all I want to say about them right now.

I am in a bit of an adjustment period it seems.  With the increase of work hours last week I am having to give myself some time to adapt.

Or at least I am trying.

My weight training was taking too much time and leaving me pretty worn out, so my trainer has cut my exercises from 3 sets to 2.  I did that adjustment today and I felt much better after.

Unfortunately, I seem to have some issues with the hormone therapy again.  When I saw the oncologist last week, we discussed that as I get further from chemo (I am almost at the 1 year mark for my last treatment!), my body may try more and more to return back to it’s normal hormonal womanly cycles.

One thing I have noticed is that there does seem to be a cycle of side effects–I have a week where the hot flashes are very frequent and intense with nausea and I am much more tired, and then I have weeks where I barely notice hot flashes or side effects at all.

This seems to be a week of more intense side effects.  They started just before the weekend and were really bad today.  I almost stopped my workout and considered canceling dance because I felt so sick.  On top of the hot flashes and nausea, I can’t seem to feel rested, I am having a more difficult time sleeping and I am overly emotional.

The exercise, despite how difficult it was, seemed to help.  About at the point where I was going to stop I started feeling better.  I did make it to dance and did my full practice today.  The hot flashes seem to be better tonight than earlier today.  I hope it’s a sign that this ‘cycle’ will start spinning down and I will have some normal days.

On top of dealing with HT side effects, I can’t seem to catch a break in other areas.  My knees are really starting to bother me and anti-inflammatories, and other pain control methods are starting to stop working.  I am pretty sure it is the running (more than anything else) that is causing the pain, but at this point going up and down stairs is really painful.  They feel ok when I run, dance or do weight training, but they stiffen up afterwards and get really angry after not being used for a while. I have been avoiding it, but I think I might have to ask to return to physio for them (they were an issue before my cancer diagnosis).  I just hate to have another issue to deal with.

I also started getting shooting pain the area of my belly scar on the left side now and then.  I can’t seem to nail down specifically any movement that causes it specifically, but the pains are getting more intense each time.  Again, doing exercises for my core doesn’t seem to make the pain happen, they are very random, but getting concerning.

All of this has led to a day where I feel like having just got my body back together, it is determined to fall back apart on me.  I am just starting to get into a good and consistent rhythm with everything, and it is looking more and more that these issues could derail all my progress–both in work, strength training and dance.

Ever feel like you just can’t catch a break?

 

Demons and Fairytales

We all have our demons we need to fight now and then.

Tonight mine are running rampant.

For some of us, it’s hard to believe in ourselves, to have faith in ourselves, to trust our abilities.  We have self-doubt and frustrations.

While I do understand and have days like this, those are not my demons.

My demons come from being an eternal optimist and they come out to tell me that no matter what I do, life is not a fairy tale and I can’t click my latin heels together 3 times and make everything turn out right.

I got into dance when I reached a point in my life I decided to stop relying on the needs and wants of others to do things I always wanted to do.  I never tried dance before then simply because I didn’t have a partner, or my ‘life’ partner didn’t want to dance.  It was like I was waiting for a partner to magically arrive so I could learn to dance. Instead I decided to start learning to dance, and figure out the partner part later.  Perhaps I would even meet a partner at a dance class–makes sense, right?

Well, that is not how things happened, and instead of finding an amateur partner, I discovered pro/am.  It seemed like the answer to my prayers and a tangible and viable way to try and reach my goals.

But lately, I am finding that even with pro/am perhaps I am living a dance fairy tale.  I am working really hard on my own to improve and get better.  But in the end, this is a partnered sport.  Am I really being realistic thinking that if I wish and hope for it hard enough that I can conquer this partnered sport more or less on my own?

I feel rather stupid and naive in that respect.  I know I should be grateful that I can even afford to do pro/am (many can’t) and that it is at least an option for me, but instead I feel filled with frustration.  Every thing I do, every goal I achieve seems empty–because it is half a goal.  These days I feel neither like a competitor nor a ballroom dancer.  At best I feel like a solo fanatic.

Part of the issue that is likely allowing these demons to run rampant is that it has been a very long time since I have really competed.  My last competition where there was someone else on the floor was fall 2014.  Right now, I don’t know when my next one will be.  The costs of competing right now just seem astronomical and every time I do a budget estimate the final number is repeatedly too high.

I am trying to accept reality.  As good as I am at budgeting and stretching my dance funds, I really will be able to compete probably once a year.  I don’t think that is enough for me to feel like a ‘real’ competitive dancer.  My other option is to do multiple local comps without anyone else to compete against.  Again, same problem.

This hasn’t really bothered me before, but it is like there are demons in my head taunting me and telling me that I have no ‘real’ goals because pro/am doesn’t really have championships and there is no tangible over-arching competitive goal to work towards in pro/am.  I can want to be a ‘senior I 10-dance champion’ but such a title does not exist in the pro/am world.

I am not really even preparing for any competition right now.  Most of what I am working on is focused on improving my technique on my own, and I really don’t know if there is much in the way of improvement for my partnered dancing.  Thursday, Boss and I ran through a small foxtrot sequence and he was really pleased with the result, but all I could think was ‘Wow–when was the last time I danced with a partner like this?’

It’s not that I feel I am wasting my time.  The demons are just pointing out that I am still living on the magical hope that a ‘fairy-god-partner’ or some equivalent will come out of the woodwork to make my goals possible.  They say I am living in a dream-world thinking that I will always either figure out the budget, find a way to make my goals work, or that opportunities will just come when they are needed.

Fighting these demons and clinging to hope and my goals helped me get through my illness and treatment.  Now, I think it is harder to cling to that because I don’t HAVE to cling to them to keep fighting.

I feel a lot of pressure (which I am putting on myself) to compete and ‘come back’ and do well, but at the same time because of limited budget, I feel I have to make sure that the competition I choose is an experience worthy of the sacrifice and expense needed to make it happen.  I don’t want to be disappointed after a competition and wish I hadn’t spent so much money on it.  I have been through that before and it’s no fun. It’s like I have to put all my competitive eggs in one basket and hope there are no holes in it.

And my demons are there with  scissors, just waiting to find the vulnerable spots in my armour. The idea of committing to a competition right now just seems like a fool’s errand and I don’t know why.  Do I think I won’t be ready? Am I worried there will be no other competitors? Am I worried I won’t be able to afford it?

I honestly don’t know what it is about these demons that is holding me back. I feel quite lost and I wonder if these demons are really trying to tell me that no matter how much I might unconditionally love dance, it doesn’t mean that it is able to really love me back.

I feel like I need some help and guidance in working through this and putting those demons to bed. Help to find a way to really get back on my dancing horse and ride off into the sunset. I am trying to figure out how it is ok that I am insisting on doing this sport on my own.

Boss is great and can be very understanding, but some times I think that as good as his intentions might be, he has never had to compete or train as a pro/am student.  I know he wants to understand and appreciate the difficulties with it, but I am not sure that is possible without experiencing it for himself.  I do appreciate very much that he tries though.

For now, I am trying to not feel unreasonable, trying to keep these demons at bay and find little things I can focus on until I figure out the big picture and find that long-term goal I seem to be desperately searching for now that fighting just to live is fully over.

Fairy tales, magic and dreams can be reality, right?

Week of Progress

Progress, like many things, comes in waves.

There are months when it seems like nothing is ever going to get better, then it seems like everything comes together all at once.

I am having the ‘up’ wave of progress this week.

Aside from the goals I mentioned in my last post, I also completed all my workouts, practices, and lessons.  I also was able to cut down on my rest time for my runs.

The biggest progress I made this week seems to be in standard–and that is a long time coming.  It seems that all I was hearing from Boss was how nothing was really working in standard and I was shaky, disconnected, turned the wrong way and just not coming together.

This week, we looked at the standard steps I have been doing in my exercises, and kept working through the foxtrot.  The work I was doing on my own seemed to start bringing things together as my mind worked to process everything I was doing.

The most profound thing happened in my lesson yesterday.  After looking through the exercises, we tried the steps together to see if the changes carried over into the partnership (as previously, it seemed to fall apart when we were together).  All the steps worked right, and Boss was really pleased with the foxtrot.

He told me that for the first time he could feel me working through my feet and I was responding to the lead to rotate left and right and I was turning as one unit like I am supposed to.  I even got a ‘high five’ for my spin turn in waltz.

There is still a lot of work to do, but finally it seems my mind and my body are starting to connect and work together in standard.  Even my position is stronger and more stable now.

It all seems to have happened in the last week.

On top of the standard victories, Boss also mentioned he found my rumba walks to be much smoother and consistent, and we started working on stationary samba walks on top of whisks in samba–particularly in incorporating the bounce action I have been working on.  Boss mentioned he plans to add bota fogos soon.  He even said my jive was looking pretty consistent.

Finding out there has been progress in a week where I have struggling with fatigue and working hard to get everything in, really helped. I am going to take the small moment of glory, and then rest to reset for next week, giving my body time to heal.

I mentioned I might have a bit of interesting news a few posts ago–well here it is:

For more than a year now, Boss and I have been working to put together some open smooth routines, for a variety of reasons.  Neither one of us was happy with the routines we had put together previously and after working with one of the top Canadian smooth professionals it became clear that the choreography in those routines was just not right.

In a moment of inspiration, I proposed to Boss that we contact one of the top smooth judges and professionals and see if she would be willing to design routines for us.  She agreed, and we have the first routine for Waltz! We haven’t run through it yet, but it looks really promising and I am excited to try it out.  There are so many aspects to smooth that I really want to work on in my dancing right now (and can crossover to both latin and standard).

Finally–my biggest piece of news and progress for this week: I no longer require regular follow-ups with the oncologist!  I am now officially into regular screening which will be a physical exam and some blood work every 6 months.  That is such a huge positive sign that everything is going well.

I hope to have a similarly productive week next week.

Small goals

I don’t have much to say today, but I wanted to mention some goals I have reached this week.

I was successful in getting my work hours extended to 6/day.

I was able to fix a problem in my spin turns.

I was able to balance on a balance board on one foot for a minute, almost without wobbling.

I did all my split squats so far this week.

I got both of my front splits on the ground.

My clothes are definitely bigger even though I gained more than 1 lb.

I haven’t given up on foxtrot (though it’s really tempting!).

I inspired a lady to try practicing on her own without a partner (it seems the thought never occurred to her before).

Overall, not a bad week so far.  Lesson tomorrow, looking forward to it–might be some new routines 🙂

Definition of Insanity

We have all heard that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.

I felt like that during my practice tonight in a couple of my exercises.  In particular, the good ole foxtrot.

Today was an intense day.  Mondays are definitely going to be rough–on top of work, I had strength training, a lesson and practice.

I was able to cut down my rest time between runs (yay me!), but my new strength program took almost 90 minutes and I have only 60, so there will need to be some adjustments there.

My lesson was good today.  Boss had closed silver routines ready for cha cha and samba that I can do for my test, if it happens as planned.  He is waiting to hear if the tester will be in the area, to know for sure.  The new routines are pretty interesting, and they are using silver steps I haven’t done before like reverse tops and rope spinning in cha cha and circular shadow voltas and argentine crosses in samba.

At the end of the lesson we went through the foxtrot exercises and Boss added the 3-step to the feather.  I am definitely not ready to put the 2 together yet or do the 3-step on my own yet.  As far as the feather exercises, there were good points and bad.  On the good, my first three movements seemed to be right, on the bad I was starting in the wrong position (which was pretty easy to fix), but the last step just wouldn’t come together.  The other issue was that I still wasn’t allowing my hips to turn with my upper body.

I was able to start checking and correcting for this today, but for some reason there is this voice in my head that keeps saying not to turn my hips.  I am trying to ignore and rewrite it, but it is slow going.  I took some time to rotate from my hips up with my eyes closed to try and get the right feeling in my head.  When I am static, it seems to work, but moving I feel like I have 6 legs and they are all tangled together and going in opposite directions.

I gave myself a little credit for being tired during my practice tonight, but it seemed like no matter what I did in foxtrot on my own, I was falling over, twisted (and not in the good way), or missing something.  It is only the second time I worked on it on my own though, and right about now is when it is supposed to feel like a jumbled mess.  The key is to just keep doing it.  Hopefully that nice connected feeling will come back, because I just couldn’t find it today.

Boss told me he is just going to let me work through the feather part on my own for now, and focus on the 3-step.  It could have been fatigue, but I just couldn’t seem to get my mind to wrap around that part of the lesson.  My head was going in 5 different directions trying to process everything.

I am hoping my mind will just process it all on it’s own overnight as it sometimes does and that Wednesday’s practice will be better.

I might just have to remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, Monday’s practices are going to be weaker just from fatigue, meaning everything will take more effort to get through. In general, I would say that everything was ‘off’ just enough to be frustrating tonight.

Tomorrow I have my next dress fitting (can’t wait!), and Boss is coming to give his opinion (which should be interesting…). I also will have my work hours reassessed tomorrow–so fingers crossed I can get a small increase to 6 hours!

Slow foxtrot exercises

As I said I wanted to take a little time to digest my last lesson.

The good thing was that a few of my exercises got progressed, including my spin turns, samba and jive (yes, jive!).  I will say that doing 2:30 of samba whisks is brutal compared to the bounces.  Great for endurance though.

One of the main focuses right now in my lessons is slow foxtrot.

Similarly to jive in latin, foxtrot is like my nemesis dance in standard. I avoid it whenever I can.

I have been working on a feather step exercise and today was the first time I was able to work through it on my own.  As I was working, it occurred to me that it was actually the first time I could remember working on foxtrot beyond just the steps in an exercise on my own.  Previously, because I struggled with it so much, Boss didn’t want me working on my own, and I was quite content to leave it.

The exercise involves moving from step to step in the right position gradually making the transition to CBMP (at least as far as I understand it right now).

One of the most surprising questions from Boss during my lesson was a request from him that I focus on and keep track of the various feelings and sensations I experience as I try to move through the steps.

This was surprising because previously, Boss was very adamant that you can never rely on your feelings to let you know things are being done right.  That was about two years ago and he and I discussed it at length and in the end agreed to disagree on it.  For me, feelings and sensations are fundamental to how I learn.

It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I was able to find the right position and at the same time found the ‘key’ sensation I needed to begin to understand what I was trying to do.  One of the biggest issues I have is difficulty telling how my shoulders are aligned with my body.  In standard, I need to move my torso from my hips to my shoulder as a block and I just couldn’t figure out how to tell when I was together and when the block was ‘broken’.

The new sensation I discovered during my lesson is quite interesting.  It’s necessary to know that I am stretching from opposite hip to opposite shoulder when I move.  For me, it is like there is a band stretching from the front of my hip, across my back at an angle to the front of my opposite shoulder. I also discovered it is better for me to think of pulling my glut back rather than pushing my hip back.  When I think of moving my hips, I tend to rotate and it falls to one side.  When I think of moving my glute, things seem to stay in line.  It’s like stretching from my glute to my opposite chest muscle.

Working through this exercise for the first time on my own today was a bit of self discovery.  I think I was actually doing the movements right for the most part, but I am also not really sure.  Part of me though wants to tell Boss to let me work through in over the next two weeks on my own before returning to it in lessons.  I don’t know what he would think of that at this point though.  He has told me that this exercise is going to be one of the most crucial in standard for the next little while and I can already see why.  Just with the little I have done, I am already starting to have a better understanding of how I am moving on my own in standard than I ever have previously.

Now that I am starting to gain that understanding, I almost feel myself hungering for more.  I want to work to experience that level of detail in sensation in all my steps.  It makes me feel strong, controlled and grounded.  It’s like there is a key level of understanding sitting just outside my grasp waiting for me to grab it.

I am curious to see what my next lesson brings.

Next week will be a challenge for me.  I expect my work hours will be increased, and I have new more challenging exercises from the rehabilitative specialist.  I will be decreasing my rest time running by 15/seconds per interval.  I will have a full week of work, strength training and dance.

Last week was short one day because of the holiday yesterday (Happy Canada Day to all!!), and I ended up practicing today because I couldn’t get to gym while it was open yesterday with the reduced holiday hours.

My goal next week is to have my work hours increased and to do all my workouts, practices and lessons.  Monday will be the hardest day.

Let’s see how I do.