Time to Reset

I have reached the end of what has been a particularly busy month.

Starting with competing at Emerald Ball, then a major evaluation at work was followed by two weeks on a training course in Germany. Not to mention the changes in dance which haven’t even really taken effect yet.

Whew. I’m still a little jet lagged and yesterday at work was spent trying to catch up on the last two weeks while also managing the current workload, but slowly I am working to reset myself and settle into a new pattern.

One of the first things that is happening is the implementation of cognitive behaviour therapy for my insomnia. I have been having sessions to learn about sleep and insomnia and tracking my sleep patterns to get an idea of my sleep habits. They are not bad in general, but I am still reliant on regular sleep medication, which is something left over from chemotherapy. I had issues with sleep before I got sick, but my medication use was once a month on average, not nightly. The goal of this program is to eliminate the need for medication altogether.

What it involves right now is essentially resetting my sleep patterns. Based on the information from tracking my sleep, the doctor determined that I tend to need an average of 6.5 hours a night. That leads to permitted time in bed from 1130 to 6. At 1030 pm I start triggering sleep by dimming lights, turning off tv and electronics and preparing for bed. I then read on the couch until 1130 when I go to bed to try to sleep. If I can’t get to sleep in 15-20 mins, I am to get out of bed, go back to the living room and do something quiet until I feel sleepy then return. If I wake up before 6 am, it is the same thing unless it is less than an hour before.

Right now, I am still taking a low dose of melatonin before bed, but I am not allowed to take any medication. I am also not allowed to nap (which I don’t do anyway). I think the jet lag is helping some because the first two nights haven’t been an issue. I see the doc again in 2 weeks and we will adjust the program from there – the next step likely phasing out the melatonin. I am eager to see how this goes because I have been wanting to get off of sleep aids for quite some time.

So that is resetting my sleep. Another thing I am resetting is my strength training workouts. Today I will return to them and see how my hip handles the exercises. Since it has been so long since I have worked at the gym I expect today is going to result in some good DOMS, but hope that there is no other issue. I am going to be reducing my weight some from where I was since it has been almost 2 months. I also have permission to try running again – starting with 15 seconds of running and 2:15 of walking for a total of 25 mins. A low level, but hopefully one that will allow me to gradually build to my goal of 2:00 running, 30 seconds of walking for 25 mins. This week, I will only have today and tomorrow at the gym to give a slower start for my body. Next week I will do all 4 days.

And then there is dance. Monday I was able to do a skype call with new Boss to discuss a plan and figure out when I will start lessons. June 16th will be the first day and I will do 2 lessons with him so he can see where I am, where my strengths and weaknesses are and get an idea of how I work to determine a plan moving forward. I have also been invited to do an invitation-only semi-private group class with Lady Boss focused on basic techniques on the days I am over for lessons, which I will try on the 16th too.

Following that first lesson, new Boss and I will discuss what he is thinking and determine a way forward. At this time, he is not quite sure what level he is going to recommend for me and I am pretty open about what we do. My instinct is closed gold, but I will go with his recommendation. Based on our conversation, I am excited and a bit nervous to begin working with him.

Until then, it is up to me to figure out a schedule for practice. Both he and Lady Boss were impressed when I described my self-practice, particularly with the way I structure it. They are more than willing to support that and Lady Boss will be sending me some videos of exercises after she returns from Blackpool (new Boss won’t return until a week later) for me to try before we meet on the 16th. I have an idea of how I am going to structure the practice and starting next week I will see how it works in reality at the gym – meaning making sure there is space available to work, and seeing how it fits with my own routine. It won’t be too much different from what I was doing before. I will still do 1 hour three times a week right after work; I just won’t have a lesson. Its less volume of dance overall during the week, but it may be a good thing to help me avoid injury and over-training. On the weekends I am not on the mainland for lessons, I will also practice an hour on my own to run through routines. Its a plan for now and we will see how it goes. I will be going to the mainland more or less every other weekend and will average 4 45-min lessons + the 90 min group class while I am there.

It will likely be the fall before I compete for the first time with new Boss, but that is not really different from what I planned previously. It will take until the fall before my budget will allow competing and that gives a good amount of time to adjust to dancing and working with new Boss.

The other area I am doing a reset is my diet. All the chaos of traveling has really tossed it off the rails and now that I am home I am more than ready to return to my regular eating habits. Because I will be doing slightly less exercise during the week, I may need to modify it a little, but considering I lost more weight doing less work in the gym it may not be necessary. I have some ideas for adjusting and it will take a little trial and error but I will see how it goes. I gained some weight while in Germany, but it is already dropping back off again. Once I get into a regular pattern and figure out what works I will reset my weight goals.

Finally, I will have a weekend to myself and I am going to do some spring cleaning around my apartment. Better late than never :). I have just noticed that there seems to be a lot of clutter around that I want to sort and organize, particularly on my dresser and end tables. It shouldn’t take long and I know I will feel much better once it is done.

Overall, it just feels good to have a plan again, even knowing there will need to be modifications here and there. I think it is good to reset every once in a while and since at this point I don’t expect to be doing any major traveling for a while this summer will be a great time to do it.

I am missing dance and regular lessons, but soon that gap should be filled.

Reset and move forward.

Big Changes Coming

I mentioned in my last post that there are some big changes coming to how I dance.

  1. I will no longer be working with Boss.
  2. I will be specializing in Latin only.

The first is occurring because Boss has made the decision to stop competing, the second as a result of no viable pro/am 10-dance option available in either my immediate area or even within reasonable commuting distance.

I was not surprised with Boss’s decision. Its been coming for a long time and if I am honest, I really have just been waiting for him to finalize it and tell me. I had a very strong suspicion before the competition that it would be my last with Boss.

Because I subconsciously knew what was coming, I think I also began to subconsciously figure out a plan for what to do after. Once Boss told me the news, I realized I had already laid a little bit of the groundwork, I just needed to gather details and make a final decision myself.

One thing that really stood out to me at Emerald was how much my latin styling needs a lot of work, and how much it detracts from the rest of my dancing. I also noticed that when it comes to standard, I was also missing styling there as well. That led me to the decision after we finished dancing to reach out to the dancer who designed my dresses (who was also at the competition with her husband who was competing with his students) to ask about pricing and if she could do regular lessons with me in styling.

When Boss told me his decision, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best option for now would be to specialize in latin and see if I could work with the gentleman of the couple as a pro/am student. I discussed this idea briefly with Boss, and while I think he was surprised he too agreed it did make sense as the best option.

I reached out to the couple to see if they would take me on as a pro/am student and they agreed. I say ‘they’ because they train their students as a couple, so I will be working with each of them as they feel necessary.

Unfortunately, everything is not quite as easy as it might sound.

As I mentioned before, I live on an Island off the west coast of North America. The couple, live and work on the mainland. Its a 90 minute ride on a ferry that can be extremely busy and is expensive for a vehicle. It also doesn’t run every hour or sometimes even every other hour, and it is a 45 minute drive from my apartment to the terminal. I can walk on the ferry and take public transport to the studio where they work, but it is a 45 min to 1 hour trip.

Needless to say, going over to the mainland and back on a weekday evening when I have to work the next day is not going to be possible. I am going to be limited to mainly working with them on the weekends, and I know from doing dress fittings that it can be almost a full day trip if I don’t stay overnight. Going over every weekend would quickly burn me out, so I have proposed going over an average of every other weekend and doing 4 lessons, ideally over two days.

The couple, who I will call New Boss and Lady Boss until I come up with something more creative, are currently away in Britain training for Blackpool later this month. I won’t be able to start with them until June, and I will be away when they return from the training before the competition. There is a small window we may be able to figure out details, but we will have to see. Until we can work out details, I really don’t know when I will restart dancing and training, or what that training will look like exactly.

I am optimistic we will be able to work out a system that works for all 3 of us and the commute.

Already, I have discussed some preliminary things with them, such as cost and level. They are more expensive to work with than Boss, but that is expected. This couple are Blackpool Rising Star Pro Latin Champions, and regularly place in the top 48 in major World competitions. Because I am specializing in latin though, I don’t need to take 3 lessons a week, so to stay in budget I will cut back to an average of 2.

For level, they are recommending I go back to doing closed routines to build a stronger technical foundation. I have already agreed, although I know we will discuss it further when we meet. I am well aware that there are some major gaps in my latin, styling aside, and I have no issues with working to fill those gaps and strengthen my dancing overall. I know already that this couple have different focuses for dance than Boss and I am looking forward to seeing where they want to start.

I am going to miss standard. It is one of the biggest hesitations I have with this plan, but I am looking at Boss’s decision as an opportunity to do focused work in latin, and that I will be able to return to standard at a later date to resume 10-dance. I intend to dance for a long time yet and there is certainly time to go back to standard when the time is right.

For now, my plan it to trial working on the mainland and see how it works. There is a strong possibility that this time next year I might receive word that work is moving me to a new location, and if that happens, hopefully there will be an option for a 10-dance pro or even a partner there. If the decision is made that I will stay here, I can evaluate where I am at and see if there is a viable option to resume both styles.

I will also miss working and dancing with Boss, but in many ways the time has come for me to move on, even if he was going to continue competing with his students. I have spent the past 6.5 years working with Boss and just absorbing and taking in all he had to teach me. It was an extremely rough time, considering my illness, and when I started with him, I never would have guessed that my journey would take me to where I am now. I am extremely grateful to Boss for all he has taught me and put into my dancing and the opportunities he has given throughout our time working together. I truly wish him well in the future.

Change is scary and hard, but I don’t find myself feeling as I expected I might. I am sad to be leaving behind Boss and standard, but I am generally happy with my decision to specialize in Latin and work with New Boss and Lady Boss. I don’t feel anxious going into the future, but optimistic that my dancing will continue to develop leading me to reach a new level. If I were to feel anxious about anything, its managing the commute between my schedule and my new coaches. For now, until I am able to sit down and discuss my training with them I can only wait and see what the plan will be. At this point, I have sent them only some background on my dancing and me, as well as some information about my goals and some information on how I have worked previously. From here, it is up to them.

Change is hard, but it often brings us to places we didn’t expect to go.

And so, off I go…

 

Emerald Ball

What an amazing experience!

I am really glad I decided to do this comp in the end. I placed well in the open silver latin events, but other than that I was close to the bottom everywhere. I am not disappointed in that because I know the depth of the field at that event and in the end, my personal dancing was very strong – truly the goal for me.

It was a great two days competing. Our schedule worked really well with just enough of a break between dances to recover and feel fresh for the next set. I really felt I was able to put my best dancing on the floor.

That’s not to say that everything went smoothly. As expected, there were glitches here and there with little mess ups and sometimes difficulty navigating some very busy dance floors. I also caught my heel on my dress a couple times in standard, having to stop to fix it.

My body felt good and even today I am a little achy through my back and tight in my hip flexors, but much better than I expected to be. No blisters at all from the comp – truly a great achievement in itself!

From the videos and how things felt, I was able to understand and get a great idea of where I am at, and some ideas for working in the future. Seeing what others are doing helped me to recognize areas I need a lot of work and what my own dancing in lacking.

In short, this competition experience was exactly what I hoped it would be, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Emerald Ball in the future.

Now that we are home, its time to re-evaluate and figure out a plan for the future. We did a little bit of planning on the way home and needless to say, due to a number of factors, there are some extremely BIG changes coming to the way that I train. I will write about them later this week, or even later tonight.

Suffice it to say the changes are sending me in a direction I didn’t expect to go in so soon, but knew inevitably would come. One of them is permanent, but the other I hope will be temporary, although only the future will tell. They are big enough changes to make the experience of Emerald Ball a little bittersweet, but they don’t diminish the overall experience at all.

One thing that surprised me (although perhaps it shouldn’t have) is how much I enjoyed being on the competition floor again. Competing is truly where I want to be and this weekend just absolutely confirmed that.

My new dresses were amazing and felt great to dance in. Well worth the investment.

That is all for now, but I do promise to let you know about the changes very soon. I am still processing them myself in many ways.

So good to be back on the floor.