Scattered Pieces

My back seems to be settled.

That is one piece of good news I am happy to take to the bank. Its still a little sensitive and I have to be careful, but it isn’t impeding me anymore.

We had two snow days this week and that was an issue. Because the gym was closed, I couldn’t get my workouts in, although I did do most of the leg one on Monday at home because it is still a lot of body weight stuff. I don’t have weights heavy enough at home for the upper body one. I did catch up on Wednesday and yesterday, and I did get all 3 lessons in this week.

The lessons this week focused on the open foxtrot and open jive, with a smattering of the quickstep to finish it up.

The quickstep was more of a review to get us through to the end of the routine, but the foxtrot was going over the latter half of the routine in detail, which was a good refresher at the same time. I am finding myself being less rigid with my body and allowing myself to reach the limits of my own sway instead of only doing what Boss leads. The quickstep on Monday was a little hard on my back, so I didn’t stay to practice as it was borderline between sore and really angry and I didn’t want to push it.

The jive was another story. There was a lot of review needed for the routine and I initially felt like I had forgotten everything. There are a lot of similar transitions that have really small variations I kept messing up. Once we got through each section a couple times, we were able to sort out the details where I am messing myself up and by the end of Wednesday we were able to run it almost all the way through with only a couple pitfalls here and there to slow music.

We picked it up again today and it was stronger and more together on my part and we were able to do quite a few full run through with slower music. That said, I can’t even begin to imagine doing it even close to full speed at this point – although to be fair, we haven’t even tried mid-speed yet.

What is driving me a bit crazy is that I am still getting hung up in the same two or three places and can’t seem to get them corrected. Its like a new vendetta for me – fix the jive. I also feel generally sloppy and scattered throughout like I am just getting lucky to get through it and the technique is pretty non-existent. I know I feel behind a lot and Boss has commented that I am not using my body, which I have to agree with. I think I am still too focused on the steps and anxious about the speed.

We have about 2 and a half months until the comp and while it seems like a long time, I know it is going to go really quickly. I can feel myself starting to panic a little that we haven’t even tried to go through any of the routines in time with the music for open and the last time we tried to run the silver routines Boss made changes in almost all of them.

I am really worried about my stamina overall, but more so that they just won’t come together in time. I feel like all the routines are in scattered pieces which is really not like me.

I know Boss has a plan and that he tells me he will be ready to share it with me next week. I am looking forward to seeing it on the one hand as I am sure it will help ease my creeping anxiety, but on the other I am a little worried because I know plans are great only until first contact. What if something doesn’t go as planned?

I think I would feel better if I felt the silver routines were more solid overall and that we can run through them without missing steps. There has been an intent to do that, but it has just never happened. I want to focus on the open routines, but I feel like I need time on the silver to be able to do that.

I have one week until I am away for a week on vacation. I am soooooo looking forward to it as among other things, I need the break and time away from work which has been really intense lately. School is so close to being done but there is a lot that is left to do in our final 3 weeks. 3 WEEKS!

I know the break will do me good, but I would like to feel a little less scattered on the dance front before I start vacation.

Just need to pull the pieces together.

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Figuring out the “Where”

I am finding that is a theme with dance right now.

First, on a good note, my back is doing better, although not completely pain free yet. I got permission to try without the back brace and see how things go. My physio did some aggressive needling on my back and hip today too which should help. I was able to dance quickstep more or less full out last night with only minor tweaks, as well as do my regular lower body workout.

I met with my trainer this morning as well and we made some small adjustments to my exercises to ensure I am not aggravating my back doing them. Physio also added a “clamshell” exercise to help my hip.

All of that aside, one of the things we are doing in dance right now is identifying where I need to do things.

I have reached a point where I understand more or less how to do sway in standard and twisting in latin, but I am not sure where I really need to do it.

On Monday, Boss gave me some small sequences to do as exercises in both latin and standard. Part of that includes a piece in waltz where the focus is completely on the sway to the point of purposely overdoing it to really get it in my head.

One of my biggest issues is that if I am not told to do something, I will always try to not do it. What we are working on right now is more or less enabling me to do movements. I expect as I build on this and go over more of the routines I will start picking up on other places to do it automatically.

The plan is to look at where I should be twisting my body more in my latin routines to make sure I am taking advantage and using the movement as much as I can.

We spent yesterday really digging into the open quickstep, particularly some of our runs. The focus there is keeping up on my toes and trying not to ‘bounce’ and ‘jump’ as we move. It was pretty easy to pick out the places where I am not staying on my toes when I need to – so more to work on, and yes another exercise.

I am taking it easy this week to keep my back rested, but plan to return to practice next week and see how it goes. Despite the issues I am having, we do seem to be making progress. I have 2 weeks before I am away for a week on a cruise (a vacation one, not work).

But lots of time to focus on figuring out the ‘where’.

Battling On

My battle with injuries is continuing.

To be honest, I am not sure if I am winning or not, but I am still able to stay active and I am hopeful that when I see physio on Friday I won’t end up in ‘forced rest’.

For the most part, except for running (which I do avoid now), some walking and if I go too fast up stairs, my hip seems to be ok – except when it isn’t.

The reason I say that is that it seems to be a bit unpredictable. I can do a lesson completely focused on Latin and have only a small bit of pain near the end, but some days, like yesterday, a random move I have done several times already tweaks it and I get shooting pain through my hip and down my leg.

Regardless, I can feel my frustration mounting.

My shoulders have been a bit up and down, but this morning I woke up more sore than I have been in a while for no reason I could figure out. They have remained sore all day, although they weren’t an issue during my workout.

My workout are at least one silver lining. I feel 100% better about them, even when the lunges seem to be causing me a bit of problem due to a tight quad muscle. They are hard, but not too hard and I feel like I am making better progress than I was before.

Of course, it is only the beginning of week 2.

One of the other things I will add is that doing cardio right after strength training is harder than I expected it to be. It’s only 25 minutes of sustained cardio but I can tell my body is working hard to get through it.

I have also been blasting through the calories quite a bit to the point I have had to modify my diet to eat more calories during the day so I am not having to eat so many after dance at night. I can tell I still need to make a couple more adjustments – in particular to up my protein but I am feeling better this week with the modifications.

I do wish it all didn’t seem like such a battle. It’s not a battle because it is hard, but because I always seem to be fighting against something not ‘feeling right’. Whether it is my hip or shoulder or something else, there is always something that makes me feel like I am being held back.

There are also the menopause symptoms which are coming with the new workout. The hot flashes sometimes seem constant and yesterday I couldn’t cut through the foggy brain to focus in on anything. It made my lesson difficult because my brain wouldn’t engage and my own practice almost useless because I couldn’t seem to focus on anything.

It doesn’t help that I can’t seem to nail down an effective way to practice right now. Mostly I am just running through our silver routines to try and get them in my head but I am not sure what to focus on for technique exercises.

My lessons themselves have been really good lately. We are getting a lot of work done on the open routines and cleaned up some pieces in the open waltz, tango, cha cha, paso, and samba. We have reviewed the silver routines together once, but we will have to go through them again to help them come together. I am looking forward to that.

School is also causing some stress right now. I am working on my final course and the volume of material is proving tricky to keep up with. I am also not really engaged with the subject so that makes the course more tedious than it would be otherwise. Ironically, I am actually dealing with an issue at work that is exactly what the course is about but because of the nature of the issue I can’t use it for school.

This week is going to be hard.

It actually already is because I can feel myself dragging to stay motivated and engaged with all I need to do. Being the second week of a new workout my body also hasn’t adjusted to it yet and is feeling more tired than usual. My ‘to do’ list is long.

But, this week will pass and I will get through it a day at a time and a task at a time. I keep reminding myself that I have only 4.5 weeks of school left and I will have completed my degree!

After that, I can focus more on dance and will have time for other things – not to mention having time to relax a little more and take some much needed ‘me’ time. Its been a long 2 years to get this Masters done, but I am almost there.

Not to mention 3 weeks until I am on vacation – a cruise in the western Caribbean (a real one – not one with work this time!) for a week. Following that, I have some extra time off which will include lessons with a latin coach I have worked with from out east. I am definitely looking forward to that!

In the meantime, I will continue to do battle and get through this challenging period of my life knowing there are good things to come on the other side.

Like competing again.

A Lot to Catch Up on

There has been a lot going on for me lately.

Hence the reason I haven’t posted much.

First, I wanted to share an article I wrote about my experience while I was deployed that was published on Dance Comp Review. To read it, click here.

Now that is out of the way, I am 40 today. For some reason that seems like a big milestone.

Part of it could be that I have been struggling a lot lately. I noticed I was really lacking in motivation, felt tired all the time and felt like I was forcing myself to do almost everything. I was really hating my strength training workouts and running was getting harder. Then the issues started happening.

In 2007 I fell from a wall during training and tore a disc in my lower back. It took a long time to get that injury under control and every now and then it flares up, but it hasn’t flared up since before I was sick so I wasn’t thinking about it too much.

Until about a week and a half ago. I was running and started to get a pain in my hip. At first I didn’t think much of it, but then when it kept creeping alarm bells started going off. The pain in my hip is usually a sign my back has flared up. I immediately started doing the back bend exercises that helps it feel better and as the pain moved back into my lower back that seemed to confirm it had flared up. I rested a few days, did hundreds of back bends and it seemed to be back under control.

But, I am not that lucky. I ran again yesterday and it immediately flared up again. I cut my run short, but it wasn’t good. My neck and shoulders were also acting up giving me the ‘twingy’ sensation through my neck. Overall, it was just too much. I had a bit of a breakdown and relented it was time to see the doc.

The conversation with the doc was good, but gave me a lot to think about. In particular, I am rethinking overall how I am training. Right now, my training at the gym is focused on building upper body strength and power for my PT test. Unfortunately, that is counter to pretty much all the rest of my goals. And focusing on training for my PT test is starting to break my body. It isn’t what I want to be doing and I am not making a lot of progress so it wearing on me overall.

The doc suggested I take a step back from preparing for the test and focus on what I want to do. It just makes a lot of sense right now and among other things, it would help me put my body back together since it seems a bit determined to fall apart right now.

I have an appointment with physio on Friday to have my hip, back, neck, shoulders and ankles looked at. It will also be an opportunity to discuss what I want to do for training to get some direction for what I need for myself versus what I need for the PT test. Next week I have an appointment with the adaptive fitness trainer I work with and that should give me a new program overall.

Running, unfortunately, is probably going to be completely off the table. Back to the elliptical for me most likely.

So that has been the main thing weighing on my mind – dreading my workouts and feeling like and knowing I was working hard but somehow never getting closer to my goals. When the work and the goals don’t match up, it makes sense.

The doc also pointed out that because of the radiation, chemo, side effects and surgeries my upper body muscles may never be as strong as they were and they may be permanently weak. Its something to consider at least.

I don’t know what the changes will look like, but I am looking forward to some sort of change.

Dance tonight seemed different in itself – but I will leave that for another post.

Still a lot to catch up on.

 

Returning to Competing

Yes, its official.

I have mailed off my entries and I will be competing at the Emerald Ball this May. Its a lofty goal for sure but gives me something tangible to focus on. There is a lot of work that needs to be done before then though!

After discussing with Boss, we decided to compete in silver and open. I have only competed in one competition at the silver level back in 2014 and it was only beginning silver. I haven’t really had an opportunity to see where I am compared with others at the silver level. Since Emerald is one of the biggest competitions out there, it seems like the right place to challenge myself and find out where I need to improve to get better. I don’t expect to do much at the open level considering the depth of the field, but I am hopeful I will do well in silver.

The other thing that really appeals to me about Emerald Ball is that they have events that include both standard and latin – a 6-dance and 10-dance competition. This is one of my main goals for competing and why I work on two styles – to be able to compete across both styles. I am hopeful that because I don’t really have one style where I am disproportionately stronger it will help me overall in these events.

It was a big decision to return to competing, and since it has been decided I have been trying to wrap my head around it and everything that has to be done to prepare. I am slowly working out all the details and moving my head into competition prep mode. Boss has a good plan and we should be able to work fairly consistently towards the comp.

At least, as long as my body will hold out. I had some issues last week when my back flared up worse than it has in quite some time. I am not sure what aggravated the torn disc, but by the end of my lesson on Wednesday night the pain was fully seated in my hip and constantly throbbing – a sign it needed some rest and aggressive relief. The best thing I can do is back bends so I have been averaging 100 a day and that has calmed things down to a dull ache around the disc. I had to rest by skipping practice, a run, and the group class and doing nothing over the weekend, but it seems to have done the trick. I was back at the gym today and it went well. I am hopeful this is just my back readjusting to my regular routine from being on the ship and that it will continue to work itself out.

I will just keep an eye on things and adjust as I can. It has already been suggested I reduce my overall running time by 10 mins to 25 mins instead of 35, so tomorrow I will see how that works. My back started to show signs of aggravation during running – one of the last running intervals, so hopefully it will do the trick.

As much as the competition seems to be a long way off, on the other hand I know it will get here quicker than I think.

But the big news is that competing is coming.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all – I hope the year is a good one for you.

2019 has already shaped up to be an interesting year for me and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what is next.

I am slowly settling into a routine, or at least one that I hope will make sense once I get back to work. Today was my first day back at the gym and I had to reduce weight on a couple of exercises, but not too many. I know that I will definitely feel the work I did today tomorrow, especially in my legs, which were like jelly after.

It made my lesson a little challenging today, but it is something I will need to adjust to. In 2 weeks, my muscles will be used to working out again.

I should be competing again this year, likely in the late spring. Today’s lesson reminded me how much work it is to prepare for competing, and I could feel myself beginning to mentally rewrap my head around it.

My body will take a little bit of work, but it will slowly pull itself back into shape. Just from the lesson today it seems that my body is responding and adjusting as it needs to. I just hope it keeps itself together as we start really concentrated work.

Hopefully this weekend I will have a better idea of the plan and from there I can organize myself.

I am looking forward to preparing for a competition again. It should be helpful for me to have that to focus on – both for my dance goals and for my other fitness goals.

Lots to do and lots to focus on this year.

 

Quickstep

My lesson today was more than an hour on quickstep.

That’s a feat in itself.

It was good though because we were able to completely review the routine and work through some of the trouble spots.

Quickstep is interesting because while you need to know your steps, you also don’t really have the time to think about them, so you have to trust your feet know what they are doing as you move along.

My feet are not quite there yet.

One of the most revealing things from today was realizing that the quickstep routine is quite fragmented in my mind. I know it in sections – the sections I practice to fit in the smaller hall we normally work in. Today we were in a bigger hall that is closer to regulation size and that meant working to keep the routine moving – and immediately highlighted that once we switched to a new section my brain kept expecting to start.

I suspect there may be a similar issue in the other standard routines as well. One of the ways we will be fixing that is working in the bigger hall twice a month until competing – that should highlight all those gaps pretty quickly.

The other thing I noticed in quickstep, which I did notice in the work we did last week, was that there seems to be a lot of things coming together for me in standard right now. Its like my mind processed them over the break and they just make sense. There are a lot of ‘aha’ moments going on – especially when it comes to moving my body in standard.

For example, something that seemed to constantly elude me was my promenade position. I could hold it when I was standing on my own, but somehow whenever I put it into context it just didn’t manifest in the same way. Something was off, but I could never figure out why the two felt so different when they were meant to be the same. Somehow it pulled together for me and I know what I need to do to create the same feeling. For me, its more about thinking of pulling my left shoulder and elbow back instead of just facing forward. Somehow this thought locks the position into place. I think this has come from the tango work I did in Ottawa for some reason.

Its not consistent yet, but my mind is starting to consistently remind myself and check when I turn to promenade to see if the right feeling is there. I can feel muscle memory starting to develop. Working in quickstep today was really helpful as I feel like that is the dance where the position is the most crucial overall – without a strong position, the entire dance will fall apart due to the momentum and speed. It needs that support.

I had asked to work on quickstep specifically because I felt it was the one standard routine we just don’t quite have together yet. We haven’t really done any of it to the music and we haven’t yet gone all the way through it without a mini disaster.

Because quickstep is the last dance we do in standard and we are most tired when we do it (not to mention the momentum and pace of it), for me its really important that we have it down solid and feel confident and comfortable with it. Of all the routines, this is the one I need to know inside and out so that when I get to that point in a comp no matter how tired I am I know it is there.

Basically, I feel like if I can do the quickstep routine, then I can do any of them. The rest is almost gravy.

I predict a lot of quickstep in the future – although the progress seems to be moving quickly since we are concentrating on it. I also know that every adjustment we make in quickstep will translate into the other dances – especially the waltz and foxtrot.

Some other areas where my mind seems to be pulling things together are in my feet position (closing them just seems to happen easier now), keeping my knees bent, power, and my upper body position in general. Somehow it all seems different and better. I am not sure if its perception or perhaps just a change in focus in my mind.

Regardless, it seems like there has been a fundamental jump forward for me in standard and I am looking forward to see where it goes.

Quickstep is only the beginning.

Running

I am not built to be a runner.

But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to do it. Or perhaps I should say fighting.

The fight is what I like I about running. No matter how much I might not want to do it, or how hard it is to get it done, the ‘runner’s high’ I get and the sense of accomplishment I feel after every running session reminds me that I am strong and can get stronger.

I call it a running session because I can’t run continuously. I do intervals. Right now I run for 1:30 and walk for 1 min for 14 intervals, 35 mins total. If I ran longer or did more, my body would fall apart. Already my knees are starting to protest, but as long as the protest stays consistent I should be able to keep going at this level.

I need to keep going at this level. I need to keep working on running for me. Even if I never get any better and my body never adjusts to the level I am running at right now, three times a week I am reaching a goal. I am getting out and going for run.

Today was a struggle for a run. It is raining steadily and only 6 degrees. Basically, it sucks outside. But I bundled up and headed down to the local high school track and got it done.

There are a lot of things that run through my head when I run, but when it comes down to it, every interval is a little victory.

The first two hurt the most. My body is still warming up and my knees are protesting the pounding. My lungs are also warming up and my mind is trying to settle in for the long haul. I always wonder if I will make it through the second interval.

Then the first 5 minutes are done. A goal is achieved and I get my ‘second wind’. My pulse still stays moderate during the runs, usually just high 150s and goes below 140 as I walk.

The next 2 intervals just happen. My watch buzzes when I need to start and I put one foot in front of the other until it buzzes for me to start walking again. I feel better and I feel stronger. It occurs to me that I have done 10 minutes. After 2 more intervals, it is 15 minutes done.

It is similar for the next two intervals. I focus on making that 15 minute mark and knowing that after 1 more interval means I am halfway done. I am halfway to my goal for the day.

I run through the halfway mark and remind myself that after every interval I have more runs behind me than in front of me. The number I have run is bigger than what I have left. If I can run that many to start, I can do less than that to end. Suddenly 20 minutes is done.

Around this mark, I start to feel meditative. The regular rhythm clears my head and allows me to think. I process things, sometimes I write in my head. Its great when I have work to do or am struggling with something. Today I wrote most of this post in my head.

As I round to 25 minutes it occurs to me that there are only 4 intervals left – only 4! But truthfully this is where the struggle really begins. I start to feel slower (although I may not slow down at all – it is mostly a perception). I wonder if I am walking further in a minute than I am running in a 1:30. I take a moment to pull my mind back, look at what I am doing, where I am ending, where I am starting and remind myself that in the end it doesn’t matter how far or fast I am going, it only matters that I am doing it.

Then I get to the penultimate interval, and it is absolutely the hardest. So close but yet so far from finishing. I am fighting with myself, usually bargaining and questioning if 14 intervals are really necessary (and I will admit it may not be – its just an arbitrary number). My pulse is hovering around 170 during the run and only slowing to about 155 during the walks. I feel drained.

But then I have it done and there is only one more left. 1:30 of running. That is it. I remind myself I can do anything for 1:30. I know that when I finish, the last minute of walking is to cool down and I will feel satisfied knowing I set a goal and achieved it. In some ways it is the easiest interval because it is the end.

Every time my watch buzzes it takes an effort to change my pace back to running. To keep it balanced I change direction every 5 minutes (also changes up the view). I push myself through every run and remind myself that I am a fighter and I am strong. Its what I need to do for myself. When its a running day I actually feel anxious until it is done wondering if I will find the time to fit it in and how it will feel. After I feel accomplished. I can do nothing for the rest of the day, but know I did something.

My body hurts and protests. The transition from the treadmill on the ship to tracks outside has shocked it some, not to mention the colder weather.

But Monday’s run left me tasting lactic acid in my mouth and coughing off an on the rest of the day – a sign I worked my cardio system really hard. The distance recorded on my fitbit was just over 3 km. Wednesday my lungs felt much better and there was almost no coughing after. My distance was much higher than I expected – 3.6 km. Today I felt like I was dragging myself from the beginning and s.l.o.w. But I recorded 3.7 km (no idea how accurate those things are), and got it done – no coughing, no taste of lactic acid. I actually burned less calories during the workout today (again, how accurate is that?) but it could be the different track. Regardless, I am adapting.

One foot in front of the other.

I might need to scale back to twice a week to keep my body from getting injured, especially once I pick up weight training and dance again, but I intend to keep running as part of my routine. Its a different challenge from dance, but one that seems to compliment it.

I will never be a runner. I will always admire those who can just run out and do 5 km without even thinking or trying. But I have my own way of doing it that makes sense for me and my body and it works. It leaves me feeling satisfied because I know I am doing something I want to do how I want to do it. I also know every run makes me stronger – a stronger person and a stronger dancer.

As I took my walks today, I could feel the rain hitting my face. I think I cursed every run I did. I even started out thinking I would only do 20 minutes because of the weather, but once I got that far there just didn’t seem to be a reason not to finish the entire 35.

Time for an Epsom bath and a couple days of active recovery (not to mention some dancing tomorrow).

Then on Monday I will be out running again.

A week of coaching

Last week I did seven coaching lessons.

All of them were really interesting and fun. I had two lessons with two different instructors – one a standard lead, the other a latin follow and three with a latin lead.

The latin couple were the ones who choreographed my open latin routines which was an advantage as they were familiar with what I have been working on. We sent them all videos of recent work before I arrived and Boss sent them messages to let them know what he would like me to work on.

I started by working with the standard coach, who was someone I haven’t worked with since my first two years of dancing. Interestingly, he is also working with another of Boss’s students who in working for a year in Ottawa, so he was a little bit familiar with the style of Boss’s students.

Boss had two specific sections of sequences from our waltz and tango he wanted him to look at, so that is what we did. One of the first things he suggested was that we try a more off-set position for standard to see if it had a positive effect. It actually made a big difference in ways I can’t fully describe but it allowed me to travel more and gave me a little more freedom in movement and shaping.

We also talked about thinking of lifting my sternum through my position to connect with my partner at the ribs, and using this to project up through shaping. We also talked about being a little more grounded in my steps and being sure not to rush through them.

Finally, in tango we also talked about position and connecting more through my left arm to the point where we could dance full steps while only maintaining hold on that side. The other interesting thing was to think of resisting against the partner as we move – so if I was moving back, I needed to think of resisting his forward movement through my ribs.

I was really tired and jet-legged when I had those lessons and I was concerned I didn’t retain much from them, but today working with Boss it appears I retained more than I thought to the point I was doing things differently without fully realizing what I was doing.

From there I moved on to Latin coaching. My first lessons were with the lead and they started with him looking at the videos and asking what I would like to work on. I talked about the state of all the routines and mentioned that paso was probably the roughest. So paso was what we worked on.

At the end of the first two lessons, we had gone through the first half of the routine in detail and cleaned and adjusted parts as needed. We talked a lot about position and the use of the knees and forward pelvis. We also found a lot of steps in paso which I have a natural tendency to turn into standard so we worked on identifying and fixing those sections. He also made some small adjustments to the choreography so it worked better for me. We were able to record the first half together for Boss.

At the end of the second lesson we took 10 minutes to look at the samba and he identified 3 steps that needed a little more clarification. That was a fast and furious section, and I am not sure I completely got all the steps down in the end, but I have an idea how to adjust.

My final lesson with him was focused on cha cha and twisting was the name of the game. We took one section of the routine and worked on getting me to twist more and to separate the twisting from the rest of my body movement. From there we looked at some specific steps (like swivels) and cleaned up one section of the routine which was a bit messy. We were able to record that section to make it more clear for Boss.

My other lessons were with the latin follow and they were focused on styling, and some technical exercises for lead/follow and using the ankles to help travel. The interesting thing about those lessons was that we talked about 4 different hip levels and how to use them, as well as a breakdown of the aims/goals of styling in each style, which are all different. I got some really good exercises out of those lessons, especially focused on styling.

I have had two lessons now with Boss since I got back and they have been focused on going over what I did with the coaches and developing a program for practice while I am away. I have a bunch of new exercises from all three coaches so I want to incorporate them into my work while I am away.

I will talk more about those preparations tomorrow.

Once a year I get this opportunity to work with these coaches and its always been a really positive experience. I hope the future presents more opportunities for us to work together again.

But for now, a week of coaching is a valuable experience.

Rough couple days

My Nan died Saturday evening.

It wasn’t unexpected as she was 89 and my Dad had told me a couple weeks ago she had begun deteriorating. Despite that, it was still hard as my Nan played a big role in my life.

I may not have mentioned before, but I grew up in a military family. My father served in the regular force, and my mother in the reserves except for a period when my sisters and I were very young. When she rejoined it was necessary for her to be away for several months of training. At the same time my father also had to be away so my Nan came to live with us and care for my sisters and I.

This was nothing new for her, she actually raised over 60 different foster children during her life in addition to her 5 natural children. During the time she stayed with us, several of my friends also connected with her, and pretty much everyone called her Nan.

Even before she stayed with us, it was common for my sisters and I to spend our summer vacation with both sets of grandparents, alternating from one place to the other. If we were moving that summer, usually the move would happen while we were away.

I have a lot of childhood memories of time spent in rural Nova Scotia with my grandparents and cousins.

Nan was my last surviving grandparent. Her loss is deeply felt. I am sorry I could not be there, but I also know she was always supportive and proud of what I do and that she understood the demands of my career. I saw her back in May when I was home for work and I knew then that it would be the last time.

It’s hard to say good-bye, but at the same time sometimes it is ok. It’s been a rough couple of days, but as I finish my preparations for my work deployment slowly I am refocusing.

With all that said, last week was incredibly fun and productively full of coaching lessons I can’t wait to discuss.

But first, I needed to say good-bye.