Post Comp

This will probably be the first post of a few as I work through all the usual post comp processes.

First, I was successful in achieving my goal of getting through all my dances.  It was close though.  I was coughing so hard after my solo I considered scratching the 5-dance.  Thankfully, with a lot of water, cough drops, decongestants and ibuprofen my lungs settled down and I was able to do the full scholarship without coughing, completing my goal.

My solo was hands down the high point of the day.  I felt good and relaxed going into it and it just clicked together.  It was one of those moments where the audience disappears and I was able to just enjoy the moment and performance.  Really strong comments from almost all the judges, and many people from the audience came up to me after to say how much they enjoyed it. My shining moment from the competition.  I posted the video on the Breast Cancer Ballroom Dancer facebook page if you would like to see it.

Next to the solo, it was probably the 5-dance scholarship that went the best.  Whether it was because I felt no pressure, or I was just determined to get it done, things seemed to click together a little bit for it.  That’s not to say it wasn’t hard.  I messed up the quickstep pretty good and almost tripped Boss, but I pulled it back together and was able to finish strong.

I got all of the routines on the floor .  They weren’t without mishaps, and watching the videos they are obviously new routines that still need some of the bugs worked out.  But what was good was that we were able to sort through and figure out what spots we should look at adjusting going forward, because they just don’t quite seem to work the way they were expected to.There is lots to work on before my next competition.

My placings were not great.  I was last in all of my contested heats except one.  It’s a little strange because while I didn’t expect to do well, I didn’t expect to be last either.  It’s been more than a year since I last competed and so much has changed, so I guess I really didn’t know what to expect, especially with new routines in a fairly new level for me (open silver). I am trying not to focus on it too much, but I do have to acknowledge to myself that I am disappointed with how I placed, but mostly because I am also disappointed with how I looked while dancing.

I know that I was giving my all and trying to pull everything together but I was finding myself a little distracted and unfocused.  I am sure the illness contributed to everything but in the end I felt heavy and slow.  When I see the videos, I see that reflected.  There is just some ‘oomph’ missing that I usually see in my dancing, and my dancing lacked the polish I usually like to bring to the floor.

I am also having a hard time reconciling how my body looks now.  If I had to choose a word, I would say ‘square’.  For whatever reason, I have lost a lot of the curviness I used to have before my surgery. My waist just seems to be lacking definition, so from my ribs to my hips I am almost the same size.  I am trying not to let it bother me, but clearly it does.  I only hope that as I lose more weight, things will distribute better and my curves will come back.

One thing I can definitely say is that this competition has given me the bit of the kick in the behind I have been needing.  I have been struggling to find some really strong motivation lately to keep me focused and zoned in.  Placing as I did at this competition and seeing the videos of my dancing seems to have done that.  I have a better idea of what I would like to see and do with my dancing for now, and that is probably the best thing about any competition.

I want to focus in on silver and open silver for a while, and I want to plan to do a large competition later next year to sort of finish it out.  Not sure if that completely ‘jives’ with what Boss is thinking, but I guess I will see.  He and I are going to sit down and go over things next week before I head overseas for work.

That is really my next project.  I leave on Thursday for 10 days overseas for work.  I am going somewhere I have never been before and I am nervous and excited at the same time.  I have 2 days to get everything together, but it also means a bit of an imposed break from dance.  I am thinking at this point a bit of a break and time for reflection might be a good thing.

Stamina and conditioning are two words I know will be centre of focus over the next little while.  Not just for dance, but in general.  I feel heavy and slow in all that I do and I am getting tired of it.  My stamina is affecting my ability to really do all I want to do and I want to work past it.  I keep reaching a ledge right now where I go from ‘ok’ to ‘limp noodle’ like a flip of a switch.  Part of it is still recovering from all my treatments (2 years is what the doctors say I should expect to struggle with fatigue, etc.), but part of it is so much time spent being unable to work at the level I was.  I see lots of hard work on cardio and endurance in the future.

Well, I will have to put this cold to be now.  I have an interview with The Dancing Housewife tomorrow, so I want to be on the ball for that.

I am sure I will have more to say in the next few days 🙂

Thank you all for your support as I prepared to get back on the floor for this competition!  I don’t usually post photos to the blog, but I will make an exception this time and roll back the curtain.  This is a photo of Boss and I being ‘very serious’ after the standard scholarship.  Love my new dresses from Spirals Designs!

ever-so-serious

A day of surprise

It’s amazing how sometimes something can happen and it takes some time just to catch up with it.

I got something completely unexpected when I got into work today. I got an email from my doctor that said I have been approved as medically fit by the headquarters.

This means that I am officially allowed to return to full duties, and that I will be posted from the support unit to a ‘real’ position.  It means that as far as work is concerned, my cancer journey is officially behind me.

It’s a bit surreal.  I have had to read the email a few times today just to remind myself it’s true.  It was completely unexpected, but my doctor expedited my file because I am slated to travel overseas for work in October (after the competition) and the easiest way to permit that was to get sign off as soon as possible.  I thought they were exploring other options and did not know they had asked for my file to be reviewed ASAP.  Usually it takes more than 6 months to get sign-off.

That was the start of a very busy day facilitating media interviews and working on products for my upcoming trip.  I will reveal where it is closer to the time and once tickets are bought (no turning back then), but it will be 10 days in a place I have never been–very exciting!

At dance today, we worked on the Viennese Waltz solo, and that started a bit of another surprise.  Boss started by asking me to show him what I had choreographed for the very beginning of the solo.  He liked my idea, and so it became.  We also got the ending together as well.  By the end of the lesson, we were able to run through the full routine a couple times and recorded it.  I can see I was pretty tired, and some spots that need definite work, but the routine is together!  It’s mainly polishing now.

I generally feel better today–whether it was the news that started my day (which I am still processing), or that the solo is now together and doable, or I am a little pumped from having a really productive day at work.  It was only the very end of my lesson I felt my legs turn to jelly, but I didn’t feel exhausted afterward.  My endurance in general still needs a lot of work to rebuild.

My knees also felt better today.  It seems they are happier on the days I work out my legs, and the day after, but start to flare up on the third day.  It will be something to discuss with my physiotherapist.

Hard to believe but next week I will start tapering down my workouts to allow my body to recover to be in top form for competing.  I always reduce my strength training before a competition and just focus on dance so that my muscles are not fatigued on competing day and I am able to be fresh.

To be honest, part of me still hasn’t quite realized the competition is so close.  It’s like I have been working and waiting forever to get to it, and now that it is almost here it doesn’t seem quite real.  Part of that though may be everything else that is going on.  I am sure that soon enough it will seem too close!

Happiness is…

Being able to look back over a week of vacation and know it was both productive and relaxing.

When I went into the beginning of this week off, I initially told myself I would do extra practice, get to the gym, stay busy, etc.  At the end of Monday, I renegotiated with myself and pointed out that I was on vacation, even though I was at home and that my mind and body needed it.

So, I threw out the usual routine and did exactly what I wanted to do.  Gave myself a ‘self-discipline’ break.

I had some projects I wanted to complete this week, the main one being my master’s application.  I am happy to say after 6 hours of writing, I submitted it this morning.  I will hear in 4-6 weeks if I got in.

Even though I was relaxing this week, I did get a huge amount accomplished–I have a clean apartment, a new couch, a new hammock, a finished quilt, a finished pillow and a new hard case installed on my scooter.  I also worked through the footwork in the latin open routines, and feel more ‘grounded’ in the standard ones.  I spent time with friends and enjoyed my cats.

One of the most productive things I did though was to just let myself ‘reset’.  I drew a line between my ‘return-to-work’, and my future.  I started what I hope will be some new traditions, like sleeping in on the hammock on the weekends after waking up to take my hormone therapy (tried it this morning and it was divine!).  A Sunday cleaning routine (instead of trying to do a little during the week).  And time to read that is not just before I fall asleep.

Oh, it’s the little things that makes life precious.

Tomorrow it is back to the proverbial grindstone, and I am ready and looking forward to it.  In fact, I had to keep reminding myself yesterday that it was Saturday, not Sunday.

This week will mark the return to limited running–1 min of running and 3 mins of walking–to see how my knees tolerate it.  It will also be the first week of focusing on mini-routines and no exercises at dance, something very new, and which I am looking forward to.  And, next Sunday will be the return to competitive practice run-throughs!  Finally! I could have started this week, but both Boss and I agreed that my routines are not quite at the run-through stage yet, and…I am still on vacation :).

Boss told me his plan for my lessons next week is to work through the routines for the competition and get the ready for the run-throughs.  Since the routines are now all choreographed and I have a general idea of how they should go, it should be an interesting week.

Two for Tango

Interesting lesson tonight, although for some reason I was having trouble being dizzy. I probably just did a little too much during the day (had some work administration to do that involved a lot of walking).

We started by running through the Am. Waltz a couple times to see how it is sticking (and it mostly is!) and then we dug right into the tango.

This is definitely the most complicated of our American routines (although we haven’t gotten to VW yet…).  We have one part in the middle that took a lot of trial and error to figure out the timing and footwork and it is fast once you put it with the music.  We have about 3 of 4 lines worked out right now, one more to go to ‘loop’ the whole thing together.

The tango is definitely a challenge and I am enjoying that.  I have a couple moments where I get to just pose into a line including holding a position that is like an open contra-check (meaning I am in the position leaning backwards over my foot and Boss is out away from me).  There is a lot of potential for drama in this routine and I am already starting to have some styling run through my head, which I take as a good point–that the choreography is starting to stick beyond the feet work.  It’s the same in the waltz although less drama (it IS waltz, afterall 🙂 ).  I am looking forward to finishing the tango up next week.

I am feeling better in general.  Although it’s strange to say this is an improvement, but I am down to sleeping only 12 hours a night, but the best thing is that I am able to manage the pain with just regular ibuprofen and tylenol.  I have also found that wearing a bra actually helps with the pain in my breast (which is probably the radiation side-effects) because it gives it support (I guess no pulling on the scar tissue that is forming).  All of that is positive, and I have reached the point where my right breast is almost becoming a nuisance to the point where I want to say ‘just get rid of it already!’ Almost.

I am thinking ahead a little bit to prepare for my surgery.  I have to do some shopping and buy some men’s button up shirts (previously I wore my roommate’s) and some sweatpants or scrub pants.  I need to buy about 3 front closing non-underwire bras in smaller cups than I have now.  I need to try to find a couple button up night shirts, and some ‘bikini’ style panties (that will sit below my belly scar).

Mostly I will put this off until the weekend before my surgery as doing it sooner will just add to the nervousness and anticipation, but it’s good to think on now.  I will do a separate post about all my preps later.

For now, I am excited about the possibility for ‘drama’ in my tango routine, and looking forward to working out the VW and Foxtrot in the next 6 lessons :).

Autumn mapped out in dance

Finally had a lesson tonight!

To be honest, I needed the break just to let my body recharge a little.

Boss and I had an ‘armchair’ lesson on Tuesday, which is basically a lesson where we sit down together and map out the next steps and decide where we are going.  We managed to sort out the competition and what we will do until my surgery.  We also discussed some things for after surgery that I can do while I am not mobile.

The first big thing is we (meaning me, really–he just agreed) will be doing a solo at the competition.  It should be an open rumba/cha cha combo to a song I picked out way back in the spring that we had ‘mapped’ a routine to, but never put together.  So tonight, we started putting it together.  I can already tell it is going to be one of the most dramatic routines Boss and I have done and that works perfectly for it.  It’s a powerful song for all I am going through and very fitting.  As the routine evolves I will talk more about it, but for now, it’s about 3 phrases of actual steps and a lot of ideas in Boss’s head.

The solo is going to be the focus for the next little bit in my lessons and I am ok with that.  Most of my latin routines are in a pretty good place and I can do all of them to a pretty good level already.  There are mostly tweaks needed here and there which we will do, mainly in Paso (at least as far as I think).  I will get a chance to run them regularly at rounds practices, so that should keep them fresh and bring to the surface what needs work.

I decided not to do my silver medal test yet.  Latin would be no problem, but Standard just needs some more consistent work to be more solid.  Also, almost all my routines would have to be adjusted to have the proper sequence of steps according to the manual for the test, and most of them don’t do that.  So a goal for the spring after my surgery.

After the competition, we are going to work through the smooth routines to get them firmly into my feet so I can visualize them in my head.  I am big into visualization and find it infinitely useful for learning routines.  If I can see myself doing it in my head, I can usually do it on my feet.  We are also going to start adding some gold steps to my latin routines to start making them more ‘open silver’ and ‘pre-gold’ for future competitions.  Eventually, we will do gold routines, but not yet.

In preparation for my surgery, I also asked Boss if we can videotape all of my routines, so I can watch them while I am laid up.  I have done this before when I had to go away right before a showcase and it helped me to keep the routines fresh in my head, kept me motivated, and made having 1 week to finalize things easier.  My plan is to take the time to watch the routines daily as I recover from my surgery to help remind me why I need to get better.

The other thing I will do while recovering is visualize the routines to music.  Visualizing them is more than just watching them on video because the visualization includes how the movements feel.  As I mentioned before, I am a very kinetic person and learner so how things feel, and remembering that is very key in dance for me.  The more we do the routines before my surgery, the more I will be able to remember and know what they feel like for my visualizations.

That plus videos is my version of ‘armchair’ practicing.  It should help keep me focused (I hope!) when I am recovering from surgery as I have 6-8 weeks before I will be allowed to dance again.  Minimum.  That’s a long time for me to go without dancing!

Boss already has some ideas for small things I can do while recovering.  He wants me to work on ‘flamenco’ hands and arms for Paso mainly, although it will help all my latin styling and mentioned something about my Achilles tendon–either stretching or strengthening, I am not sure. I know the week before my surgery we will map out a more definitive plan to keep me busy, focused, and feeling like I am not losing time while I recover.

I am very glad I decided to do the competition to help break up my autumn.  Once I finish radiation, I won’t have much to do except recover from it (which is enough, I am sure!), which won’t keep my days very busy.  For me, that seems like a little bit too much time to spend wondering (freaking out!) about my surgery and the results of it.  I will start hormonal therapy at the end of September, briefly, but that is purely a medication therapy and doesn’t involve appointments.  It will last 5 years, minus a break before my surgery to minimize the risk of blood clots and surgical complications.

It looks like I will have a busy autumn and I am looking forward to that.  6 more radiation treatments to go!

Smooth lesson #4–Tango and ‘Flaunting it’

And, we did it!

We managed to put together 4 open smooth routines.  Now I just have to find time to work on them 🙂

I really like the tango we put together.  Boss and Instructor #2 were able to get together and work out some choreography beforehand, so half the routine was done before I started.  I was pretty impressed with myself that I was able to pick up the choreography and actually dance it with Boss (no music yet though!).

I was talking with Instructor #2 after my lesson, and my plan for smooth (which hopefully Boss will agree with!) is to run through the routines with him some, get them with the music and to a point where I can work on them myself.  Then, after my surgery, I will have a few more lessons with Instructor #2 to work on the lady’s styling and make adjustments if needed because of changes from my surgery.

I am really excited to have all the routines done!  One more tick in the box for me.

Speaking of ‘ticks in the box’, I didn’t post after my lesson yesterday because I needed some time to process and I was pretty wiped by the time I got home.  We started working on the styling and detailing for my samba routine and adding some personality to it.  Doing this kind of work is actually pretty difficult for me.  I have a way of feeling like I am ‘over-doing it’ and that perhaps it looks silly.  I think deep down I worry I will look like an overweight girl trying really hard to look skinny.

I should know better though.  My routines themselves Boss put together keeping in mind how things look visually, and there are certain steps I don’t do because they are just not flattering for me.  We also don’t do some holds because they just don’t work.  So the styling works the same.  All that is really needed is for me to commit to the styling and add my own personality to it through my facial expressions.

Boss actually told me that I need ‘flaunt what I’ve got’ and to not be timid with how I move my body.  We had an interesting conversation about rumba.  He told me that I shouldn’t hold myself back and just let myself do what comes naturally and basically ‘work it’ (not his words, but what he was saying).  It’s an interesting concept for me.  When I started to work with Boss, especially in Rhythm (which I was doing at the time), we spent a lot of time teaching me to control every movement and to hold my core tight.

I think for the first time, Boss was giving me permission to take everything I have learned, everything I do naturally and just let it all come together in rumba.  He told me I should watch videos of Reggaton and Brazillian Samba to see how the ladies move there and I should let myself be that free and uninhibited.

Coming from Boss, this was completely unexpected and seemed to be placing a lot of trust in me and my technique.  I guess I just didn’t expect that.

Tying it all together, looking at the smooth routines and the level of dancing we are doing there (and I seem to be able to do!), and this conversation we had yesterday, I guess it has dawned on me that even though I am only at the silver level, Boss has a lot of respect for my dancing.  This has really only come in the last little while though–I think since we worked on the open showcase routine.  In a lot of ways, he has more faith in my dancing than I do myself.  I guess it never really occurred to me before, but Boss did ask me back in January before I started Chemo if I wanted to do Open Smooth routines with him–that is where the idea came from originally.  He asked me.

Guess he knew I could do it even then.

Now I just have to convince myself–but I am getting there 🙂

Cha Cha

And so begins my adventures into keywords….

I chose Cha Cha today because it was the last dance I performed publicly, so it is sticking out the most in my mind.

The first keywords for Cha Cha are ‘playful’, ‘animated’, and ‘fun’.

Cha Cha is a great dance for me.  I find it very free, but the Cha Cha Cha rhythms of it give lots of opportunity to play around with the rhythms by using fun syncopation and sometimes just taking a moment to just stop and breathe.

It’s probably my VW of the latin world–the dance I relate to best that just works for me that I want to do over and over.  I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist with Cha Cha and probably work on it more than my other routines–likely because when I do practice routines, I usually start with Cha Cha.

It’s also my ‘go to’ dance because it fits well with most songs you hear on the radio these days.  It’s been a while since I have been out to a club, but I have a tendency when I do to find myself do some sort of cha cha rhythm by myself on the dance floor.

Now, when I think of Cha Cha technique, that is a whole different set of words–‘straight’, ‘close’, ’tilt’, and ‘shoulder blades’.  Straight reminds me to keep my legs straight (coming from American style where the legs are bent this is key for me), close to remember to take small steps and keep my legs close together, tilt reminds me that if I tilt my hips a little my legs can stay straighter, and shoulder blades to remind me it’s my upper body that is doing a lot of work.

The only thing I might add is ‘flick’, which is how I have to move my feet in order to give the illusion of speed (yep, speed is really just an illusion).

When I do cha cha, I imagine myself as a fun, playful, flirtatious girl.  I am showing off a little, but also playing off of my partner and making him proud to be dancing with me.  If I really let myself into the moment I might even wink, play with looking at my partner and trying to run away.  It’s all a flirtatious game.

It’s pretty funny because other than dancing I really have no idea how to flirt, and ‘playful’ is probably one of the last words others would think of in relation to me.  It’s a side of me I keep pretty hidden and it’s one side of me I hope dancing will help to bring out more.

I guess I am just waiting for Boss to allow it.  We haven’t really played with the character of latin dances much.  It’s like a bit of a carrot he keeps dangling in front of me that I keep waiting for.  Latin detailing.  I hope we will get to it during radiation.  It’s occurred to me lately that Boss, as much as he has worked with me over the last 2 year and is helping to support me through treatment really has no idea about parts of who I am.  Which is ok–I like that he thinks I am a very serious, committed, and disciplined person.

Just means I can surprise him if I am ever allowed to let my playful and fun Cha Cha self out of the box :).

Touching the ‘Boss’

All relationships are unique, and as such so are all pro/am student-instructor relationships.  Mine is no different.  I think all pro/am relationships are tricky, and I think it is mostly luck that some of us are able to find an instructor that is able to work with our learning style, support us as partners, and has a compatible personality.

I am very lucky.

I started working with my instructor 2 1/2 years ago first at a franchise studio, then from a year ago with him on his own.  It’s been a tricky two years and we have had definite ‘ups’ and equally strong ‘downs’.  Twice I seriously considered switching to a different instructor.  Both times after looking at the options I decided to try to work out the issues to stay where I was.  So far, so good.

I am going to try to describe our relationship, but please keep in mind, this is my perspective as the student, and that doesn’t mean it matches with my instructor’s perspective.  He may see our relationship completely differently, and may not even realize that I see things as I describe them.

If I were to sum up our relationship in a word, I would choose ‘clinical’.

It might seem like a strange word, but I do see my relationship with my instructor as being similar (with some very marked differences) to that I have with my doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, fitness trainer–pretty much any professional for whom it is appropriate to touch me, and discuss details of my body.

There is one very big difference, and this is where I struggle the most.  Dancing pro/am involves not only my instructor touching me to correct me or move me to the correct position, but also means we dance together as a partnership–so there are times when I also have to touch him.  Indeed, in standard closed position, we maintain contact from chest to thighs in every dance. Do do that with my doctor or physiotherapist.

We also (at least I am working on) make and maintain eye contact while we are touching–also not part of the normal ‘clinical’ relationship.

So those are two marked differences which I struggle with, and it wasn’t until we started working on connection and eye contact lately that I began to understand why.

You see, while I have no issues with my instructor touching me, I don’t feel comfortable touching him.  I feel like he gives me very specific directions on where to touch and when and I find myself often worried I might do something wrong and go outside those boundaries, so even when I have ‘permission’ I am very…tentative.  I don’t want to…well accidentally grope him for lack of better words.  I think we would both know it was an accident, but I don’t even want to risk that.

I think part of the problem is that we have never really talked about it.  I think when we do routines, or he tells me to place my hands here or there, he just assumes I am comfortable with it. In reality, I feel like I should apologize after every time I have to touch him.  I think it actually surprises him a little when he does realize that I am concerned I might offend him, but we don’t ever discuss it.

I need to take a moment to do a shout out here.  I have been following ‘Beautiful Girl in the Ballroom’ for quite some time, and it always amazes me how Stef’s dance life and what she posts seems to always marry up with issues I am struggling with at the same time.  In this post unsung-hero, Stef talks about enjoying Ivan’s body.  When I first read it, I didn’t quite get what she was talking about, but now, with the work I have done in the past two weeks, I completely do.

One things I enjoy about reading Stef’s posts is how open Ivan is…to well everything.  For myself, it would be very overwhelming to work with someone like Ivan but based on Stef’s posts he is about the opposite of my instructor.  But it did get me thinking and realizing that perhaps things are a little too closed for us.

Getting back to my relationship with my instructor, I have mentioned I am a pretty closed person generally.  Although I am not sure if ‘closed’ is the right word.  Conservative maybe? Uptight? I think all would work, to be honest.  It’s very rarely that I allow myself to relax, even though I may enjoy myself very much.  My lessons are and I expect them to be very structured and ‘down to business’.  There is a lot of work to do in lessons and I want to make sure it gets done, and my instructor is very similar in that way–very professional, and down to business. Clearly, it works for us.

But also, clearly there is an aspect to dance that is missing from regular lessons.  I notice it myself mostly in latin  because it is not as restrictive as standard–where we have to stay in hold and I am mostly looking away to the left.  In latin, there are all sorts of holds and moments where ‘extra’ touching is necessary, and eye contact is also needed.

One of the reasons this is so on my radar, besides the recent work we did on the open cha cha is because coming up soon in the overall lesson plan is doing ‘detailing’ of my competitive latin routines.  We have all the routines and have competed with them twice now (although some were modified slightly from the first time to the second), but we haven’t had a chance to work on the detailing (which is what we call the combination of styling, arms, eye contact, performance etc.).  Right now, they are a series of very technical steps we do together.  We need to add the ingredients to make them full dances.

And that means more eye-contact, more touching, more openness.  More fear, terror, and chances I might accidentally do something inappropriate.

But on the other hand, that is what makes the routines more fun, playful, flirty full of character and such a joy to perform. That’s that second challenge I gave myself when I decided to start dance, so time to just take a deep breath and jump.

First step will be to get passed feeling like I have to apologize whenever I touch–even if it is completely a part of the routine.  That means talking to my instructor, who, for simplicity (and taking a page from Diagonal Wall), I am just going to call ‘boss’ from now on.  When it comes to my dancing, he is the ‘boss’, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wish me luck tomorrow for my performance!

Bad news….and a silver lining?

Today has been an emotional day for me.

In the end, I won’t have a chemo treatment this week, but will continue next week with my final 3 treatments, meaning I won’t finish chemotherapy until July 17th and all my proceeding treatments will also be delayed by a week (I have radiation and another surgery to go).

The side effects reached a point of intolerance, although it turns out my side effects are not so much from the chemo drug as from the steroids they give me to counter the side effects of the chemo drug.  Bit of irony there.  It turns out I am hyper-sensitive to the steroids.  So July 3rd we will continue  with chemo with a very tiny dose of steroids.  Less steroid unfortunately means I will probably have more side effects from the chemo drug but they are more manageable than the insomnia, weight gain (I gained 10 lbs in 3 weeks–yikes!), stomach issues, and muscle weakness the steroids seem to be causing, insomnia being the biggest one.  Chemo makes you tired as it is–you don’t need steroids making it impossible to sleep on top of it.  I have a week of rest ahead of me, and this is the second time I have had a delay (the first time I had a bad chest infection that landed me in the hospital).  24 weeks are now 26.

But there is a small silver lining, if you can call it that.

Because I am not having a treatment tomorrow, I am guaranteed to be strong enough to do the performance of the open cha cha on Saturday.  I will only get stronger from here until my next treatment on July 3rd.

I had a great lesson tonight.  The ending we worked on yesterday managed to gel overnight and tonight we were able to run through the routine from top to bottom 5 times (no idea where I got the energy for THAT).  It’s not all that we would like it to be, because we had to compensate for my health a little, but it is still a pretty strong routine and it should come across well.  I am looking forward to performing it, and have nothing to do but rest until then.

Connection seems to have clicked for me, and I hope it is the same when there is an audience.  I am allowing myself to enjoy the performance part of the dance, which is something a little new for me.  It has also led me to think a bit about the student-instructor relationship, or at least the one I have with my instructor, as every pro/am relationship is different.  I will share my thoughts on that tomorrow as it might help explain some things.

For now, I have allowed myself to be disappointed with the delay, but found the possible silver lining to it, and I will rest until Saturday when I hope all will go smoothly.

Connection–Toddling on…

As I mentioned, I had a lesson last night.  Given it was Monday, which is my worse day for side effects and late in the evening, it took a little bit of planning, but I was able to get it done and it was really productive.

We started by running the routine through 4 times to see where the rough spots were, and this was pretty much the end of my energy.  That was ok though because we were able to work out two spots we hadn’t had a chance to really work through yet.  My next lesson is on Wednesday, and I should be stronger and better able to do more complete run-throughs.  We still don’t have the final part of the ending, but that will be sorted on Wednesday too.  I feel pretty good about where we are right now.

There was a couple practicing in the studio at the same time we were working yesterday, and after the lady in the couple mentioned she thought it looked really good and fun and then they said they are going to try to come on Saturday, even though they usually don’t go to social dances.  I was pretty happy to hear that 🙂

Getting to connection, I think I am on a bit of a break-through.  I still have to remind myself to focus and look up, and I am getting better about making eye contact with my instructor, but last night as we were working I noticed something different–the actress in me is coming out in my dancing.  Haven’t seen her is a while.

We were working through a couple different parts which require me to look out to the audience, but not reveal what is going to happen next until it happens (which makes things sharper) and suddenly I felt things just ‘click’ into place.  Like I said, the actress me sort of came out, took over and I found myself just doing things naturally that perhaps otherwise I would have felt awkward about and I was enjoying them 🙂

It was like being reminded of something I had long forgotten–that once upon a time I wasn’t quite so inhibited and that I did share my passion and expression–but in acting.  Welcome back long lost friend!

Once I re-found this part of me, everything I was doing made more sense–not just the eye contact, but also the styling and expression.  And, it wasn’t ‘over-the-top’ which is another fear of mine.  I am keeping things simple, which is very ‘me’.  I am not a flashy person by any stretch of the imagination, so doing something simply for ‘flash’ wouldn’t make sense…for me.

I am eager to see how this progresses through my lessons on Wednesday and Thursday, and most especially if everything goes ahead on Saturday.  I know for me, it is one thing to allow myself to open up around my instructor in the studio.  It’s another when there is a full audience there.

My instructor I trust after 2 and 1/2 years working together (and that has taken a long time, and getting sick also helped make that more necessary in a way), and I still am hesitant to perform for him.  I don’t even really like when I catch him watching me practice on my own.

But perhaps that’s a story for another post.  For today, no lessons, no practices.  Just a day off doing odd steps here and there in my kitchen 🙂