A Return and New Start

I am really sorry to have been away so long – much longer than I intended!

It hasn’t been from lack of desire to write, but more from a lack of time. A lot happened really quickly once I returned from my deployment and part of that has meant figuring out a new routine – including time to blog.

Backing up a little, the deployment was really rewarding, although by the time I got home I was legitimately exhausted. We had a lot of weather issues which meant we either weren’t able to get into port or stay in port as long as we should have for down time.

Despite that, I was able to fairly consistently practice and even sent the bosses a video of my practice to which they provided feedback after realizing fully the limitations I was working with (it’s one thing to hear it, but another to see it!)

That helped a little to get me on track, but once I got back there was some uncertainty until last week with regards to whether or not I would be posted to another location back east. That put everything I was doing in a bit of a holding pattern as I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to work with the bosses.

Thankfully, last week I got confirmation that while I am going to be changing positions, I am going to be staying in the same location. As if that wasn’t enough, once I returned to work after my deployment, due to an unexpected departure I almost immediately was called on to take over temporarily as the senior public affairs officer in the area. That required a lot of extra time and energy to sort out as the unexpected departure left a lot of holes and issues to be sorted out.

Also in the middle of all that, I finally made the choice and transition to move myself and my cats to live with my spouse so we can establish residency for common-law status. I was more or less living at his place without my kitties in the months leading up to my deployment, so it wasn’t too much of a transition in general, but still meant quite a few adjustments overall to my basic routine, working out how those changes all worked.

I have also made some adjustments to my diet and workout routine. During the deployment, I realized I need to make some changes because what I had been doing wasn’t really working. So I went back to the program that worked for me the first time (and was pleased to see that the changes that had led to me leaving it last time were better incorporated), and committing to a counseling program to talk a little bit about the reasons behind my weight issues as well as being more mindful about eating only when I am actually hungry and stopping when I am full. It’s still on-going, but I have been able to get most of the weight I gained while deployed.

For fitness, I am also working with a new trainer. Not because there was anything wrong with my other one, but just because I wanted to try a change – some new exercises and a new way of training. It is also going quite well, although I have run into one exercise I recently discovered is causing my back to flare up that I will have to avoid in the future. Running is still happening, and it’s been challenging. I had to change to new sneakers as I found about a month ago I was being plagued by shin splints. Progress is still slow, but it is happening, so that is something to hang on to.

On the dance front, that is not without changes as well. I realized shortly after returning to lessons with the bosses that while I really enjoy working with them, I was also frustrated with only being able to work with them once every 2 weeks. Even though I was working and practicing regularly, I MISSED just dancing – something there isn’t a lot of time for when you are trying to cram 2 weeks worth of stuff into a couple lessons.

It took me a little while, but I realized I had to find a way to work with an instructor during the week without interfering with what I am doing with the Bosses. After considering a lot of different options, I decided to go with our local dance franchise as it also gives me a better place to practice where I am not competing with basketball players and kettle bell swingers. It’s also located between work and home which is convenient.

At the franchise I am working with Smooth Guy on, you guessed it, smooth. The focus there is not on competing or even a lot of technique. The goal there is time dancing with a partner, working on building a repertoire of steps. I am currently reviewing the end of their bronze program which is where I left off when I worked at the franchise many years ago.

I also worked out a deal where even though Smooth Guy is not familiar with International style at all, his Boss is and together they are learning my latin routines so each week at my lesson we can spend about 15 minutes dancing through the routines. It’s been a week and so far he has most of the sequence of steps in my rumba down, although there are some differences between Latin and Rhythm that are showing up, but considering it’s a week and he has never done Latin before I have 0 complaints. I think that is the final piece to my dance puzzle overall.

In the details, I also had to sit down with Boss to sort our my solo practice. I felt there was not organization or direction to what I was doing as I didn’t know what it was they wanted me to focus on and I had so much information I couldn’t filter it. After finding out I am sticking around for at least a year, that made it easy to sort and in the end Boss gave me two things to focus on: Focus and Timing. I have two main exercises over 3 dances, and then I am to work on incorporating those 2 points into the first 30s of each of my routines.

It’s been a week and already I feel much better and motivated, and at my lessons today Boss commented he already noticed a big difference.

As a final bonus as I close this out – with knowing where I will be – we are now looking at planning to compete in early fall. Our fist competition today. Finally, a competition goal!

I promise not to be so much a stranger from now on.

And a jive…

At my last lesson we started working on jive.

I have a routine for 4 dances now, leaving just paso, which I might get this weekend.

It seems strange I have less than 2 weeks before I will deploy for the entire fall. This deployment may be more challenging to maintain my dance on this ship than the one I was on last fall. While its a bigger ship, the gym area is small. I will adapt and figure it out once I am there.

Back to jive, its another dance that is going to take a lot of work to get adaptive to new Boss’s style. We started with just basic exercises and already I am not sure what I am supposed to be doing. That said, I have managed to work out the sequence of the routine and make many of the small adaptations he is looking for in the footwork.

This weekend will be my last set of lessons before I leave and I hope I’ll be able to absorb enough to keep me motivated throughout my deployment. The internet connection should be a little better than on the ship last year so I hope to be able to keep in touch with Boss and Lady Boss to get some feedback and hopefully even send back some videos of the work I am doing.

I am a little anxious because unlike previously I am still unsure of what I need to do. Its different than before because I haven’t competed with Boss yet and I don’t know when I will. Its a little hard to figure out a goal to aim for because I feel like I haven’t had time yet to fully connect with my new instructors and that is proving to be a bit challenging.

That’s not to say that I feel like I don’t have the tools I will need while I am away, I certainly do. I have exercises from all 4 dances we have worked on, most of which I have been working on for a couple of months. I need to review a few of them to check in and make sure I haven’t made unintended changes.

I am not sure how I will feel after my next set of lessons, but I hope to feel ready to strike out on my own for a while and work it while I am away to make progress we can use when I get home. Being away for the fall will help me to save up to be able to compete early in the new year.

But until then, I can jive.

No more ‘flat’

That was one of the themes of my last set of lessons.

We were looking at the cha cha which has an elaborate new york sequence and in doing the new yorks we had a conversation about body position. Part of that included a switch from a flat body position to one that emphasizes angles.

Essentially, I was told that no matter what step I am doing, I need to work to stretch from shoulder to opposite hip. There is no more being ‘flat’. Its a progression to move my dance forward and bring it to the next level.

It’s actually quite a mindset change for me. Its going to take some work, but because it involves a stretch it should be easy to mark when I can feel when I am doing it. Its a challenge to give myself, especially while I am away.

We also discussed my right arm and the limitations from the scar tissue. We tried a few different positions for it with it elevated and we really couldn’t find a position for it extended over my head that didn’t raise my should or even look really good. My left arm was ok. In the end, we agreed that we would avoid having my right arm up from now on we wouldn’t ever put it into that position, and agreed on 3 positions that would work – on my hip, bent to my head, and extended at shoulder height.

I feel better with that agreement. It really doesn’t look good when I put my arm up and that is a good compromise. I can do it on the left side and in many ways that allows for some built in variety.

We really worked through the cha cha which helped break it down and identify the problem points for me. In a few places it was a matter that I was overturning and ending up facing wrong direction in places.

We also went over the beginning of the samba again to review the promenade runs and iron out and clarify some of the points there. We got pretty much to the same point as last lessons but I feel like I understand it much better now. I have to sort out some arm issues, but in general at least the first few steps are coming together. We also spent time working on cruzado walks, the main point being I need to move my hips more and (of course) work on getting the angles.

In the group class we also focused on samba, working on whisks, bota fogos, and voltas. It was a good review of the technique overall and left me with a lot to think about.

Work has been crazy again and despite trying really hard I haven’t been able to do practice so far this week. Thankfully with the long weekend I will get a chance to practice Friday, Saturday and Monday without worrying about work. I plan to definitely catch up. I am also dealing with a bit of an ear infection, so I am hoping that clears up as my balance has been a bit wonky.

Time to move things forward from flat to angled.

Returning to Dance

Sunday was my first lesson with New Boss.

I will have a lesson with him again this week because he and Lady Boss made some changes to their competing schedule which meant they are here this weekend, but not here a couple weeks in a row in July.

It was really great to get back on the floor and be working again. The first lesson was better than I expected, and even the commute wasn’t as bad as I feared.

He is still evaluating, which is understandable, but it is interesting to see what he has picked up on. One thing that is the most interesting are the number of small idiosyncrasies he picked up on that I didn’t even know I had. Every now and then he would ask me why I did something he noticed I was doing consistently and on purpose that seemed strange to him, and I would have either no idea I was doing it or no idea why.

For example, in rumba I have a habit of automatically stepping to my partner’s right side before the twist in a hip twist, instead of stepping straight towards him. I think Old Boss always led it that way so that is my habit. Another was my starting position when my feet are together – I would stand with one foot slightly ahead of the other in almost a pressed walk position to prepare to move with the free leg turned out (this is also my position when I close the fan). Old Boss neither encouraged nor corrected it, but New Boss had me adjust so my ankles are together, my feet are more closed, my ‘free’ foot is on the inside ball of the foot and my knee is facing forward…plus other body adjustments.

We worked on rumba and cha cha, starting with rumba. He immediately noticed some issues with how I follow (no surprise, Old Boss and I were only beginning to work on it), so we made some adjustments to how I use my arm, such as focusing on relaxing the elbow and not allowing the wrist to collapse and to not grasp his hand with my thumb (another idiosyncrasy).

We worked through a basic pattern (hip twist, fan, hockey stick) to focus on using the body more, especially to turn. We also fixed my hip twist position to face it out to the audience instead of across my partner. We also worked on sliding doors, which led to a conversation about cucharachas – another correction.

From there we moved to cha cha walks which was interesting because I have never done cha cha walks backward before, except in the aida or if needed in a routine. It never occurred to me to practice walking backward lol. I have done back locks, but never with the walks before. That was interesting because we talked about the lock steps, how they are done and worked on them.

One of the main things to come out of the lesson is my general foot position. New Boss was watching me move and he said he felt like every step forward and back I made was like I was doing a series of ‘checks’ instead of flowing movements, and the main reason was because my feet were too turned out to allow full hip movement and it stopped my action. We talked about how checks are good for changing direction (like in the basic), but for moving in a line it is better to close the feet to sixth position to allow freedom of movement in the hip.

That is going to be a big change for me, especially my right foot which loves turning out. Another thing was my tendency to take big steps and swing the foot ahead of my body. This means I have to go with the foot and move my weight almost instantly onto the forward foot for balance instead of allowing the trailing foot to control the movement and stabilize me. I have to work on placing the foot under my hip, which also lets me separate the foot and hip movement instead of stepping with the hip already more or less settled.

So lots of little details to work out, but honestly I prefer focusing on little details than finding I have really big fundamentals to fix. Details I can work with and tells me I do have a good foundation to allow for work on the details. I even have DOMS in my side lower back muscles from the lesson and in my hamstrings and calves – places I haven’t really had it before (usually dance gives me core DOMS or upper body more than anything), which also says I am using my body in a new way – a positive thing!

We haven’t talked about level or routines yet, but as we have only done two dances that is not surprising. I have two more lessons this weekend, so perhaps we’ll try a new dance. I also have lessons the following weekend so by the end of that I hope we will be able to discuss levels, etc.

Mainly my mind is processing all the new information, but I wish this week wasn’t so busy for me work and life-wise. My graduation from my Masters program was today, so I officially hold a Masters in Intercultural and International Communication! For work, I have to spend the next two days commuting almost 2 hours one way to work on an issue taking place at one of our remoter communities.

 

The extra time back and forth will take away from time to practice, so I am fitting in little pieces of work here and there where I can this week. My mom is also in town for my graduation so I am also taking time in the evening to spend with her.

 

Next week should be a better week for nailing down some good practice and working through a pattern for practice.

 

Either way, the good news is I am on the floor!

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.

Adjusting to my new body

It seems strange to say, but it’s only recently I have discovered how much my body has changed from my journey.

And it is still changing.

Some of the work I have been doing recently has really brought to light some of the challenges I am now facing due to the scar tissue and side effects of my cancer treatments and resulting surgeries. Some of these things really surprise me.

For example, today it really came home just how tight everything on my right side is – not just on my chest, but all the way down to my hip and hip flexors.

When I was doing my own practice, I was trying to focus on keeping my right side ‘up’ when working on standard because Boss made a small remark about my right side ‘still going down’. It was just one of those things I wanted to explore for myself and see what I found.

I am not sure what I found is that great. After only 15 minutes of trying to keep my right side pulled up, I felt what initially felt like a stretch at my right hip, but then turned into a pull, followed by burning. When I stopped, the burning has remained, right over my hip bone where the tissue feels incredibly tight.

Bottom line, my right side going down is a combination of me not paying enough attention to pull it up, and tightly stretched tissue working to pull it down.

It’s like the issue with my chest being constantly pulled down and irritating my neck and shoulders. I have to constantly work to try to keep pulling it up to allow the tissue to stretch so my body can adjust.

So it is apparently going to have to be for my right side too.

It’s not just in standard that this is affected. Latin is also suffering.

Aside from my range of motion through my shoulders being about half as much on my right as my left, it is also very difficult for me to keep my latin frame in front of me. We haven’t worked on that a lot until recently, but the work we have done has really surprised me with how difficult it is to the point of being mildly painful.

I know that when I cross my right arm too much across my chest the pulling has causes shooting pains across my chest muscle in the past. I am hoping it will work out in time.

There is probably another reason this has become more prominent lately, which is the other thing I am slowly trying to adjust to.

Finally, after more than a year past hormone treatment I am starting to experience consistent weight loss. I have lost almost 15 of the 40 lbs I gained through my treatments in the past 2 months and it is starting to have effects.

I wish I could say all the effects are positive, but unfortunately they aren’t. One of the effects is my body redistributing my weight, resulting in lost inches, but also leading to new places, like my hips and belly, feeling even tighter than they did before. My chest has also gone down 3 inches in size, but not evenly on each side meaning one side is heavier than the other.

The other thing that only just clued in today in conversation with my acupuncturist is that as my fat stores are being burned off, it is very likely that the toxins and hormones that have been stored in them are being released into my body. The hormones being released was something I had to deal with the first time I lost the weight before I got sick, but now there is probably some residual effects from chemo, radiation and hormone therapy.

It would explain why in the past two months I have had a resurgence of menopause symptoms after almost 4 months of them being settled down. During those 4 months, my weight sat pretty steady bouncing around the same 5 lbs up and down. Once I started consistently losing again the hot flashes started up and with it the other menopause symptoms and general feeling of not quite being well.

There is not much that can be done about it until the weight is lost, other than holding weight here and there to give my body some time to adjust and flush the toxins out. I have had to increase my water intake a little bit recently so that should also help, along with the cooler weather.

I am also experiencing something I also did with my previous weight loss which was my back injury becoming irritated every 10 lbs or so as it also tries to adjust to the new distribution of weight and new centre of gravity. That at least I know will work itself out with some exercises and about a week.

It should feel good to lose weight, but the process is really hard on your body. Essentially it is feeling starved all the time and having to use reserves it got used to having. Everything is changing including it’s shape, and as fat is being burned off what is stored in it is being released and needs to be flushed out. It’s constantly working hard and doesn’t get a lot of breaks to try to adapt to all the changes going on.

But once the weight is lost, it does get better. The body doesn’t have to work so hard to move itself. Energy levels go up as the body gets more efficient at using nutrients and repairing itself. It’s able to work better and harder with less side effects and that is really the goal.

So here is to hoping I am able to keep on track and slowly get back to the weight I was pre-diagnosis so I can finally get back to the goal I was aiming for and got derailed from – getting down to a healthy size and weight overall. I was about 25 lbs from that goal when I got sick after losing 75 already. Now I am about 50 lbs away.

What a difference that will make.

Seeing Standard Come Together

We recorded some videos yesterday.

Exclusively standard, we recorded the Waltz, Foxtrot and Tango line by line to make the best use of the hall.

We haven’t recorded these new standard routines at all except for 2 or 3 individual steps, so it was the first time to see the work I have been doing come together.

The waltz (which we have been working on the most) looked the most polished. I can truly say that I am proud of how the waltz looked and I was really surprised by parts of it. Probably for the first time in a very long time I could see a distinct improvement in standard. It was really great to see!

The foxtrot was not as strong, but it also showed great improvement, especially the first half we have worked on a lot recently. The last half needs work, but it is not a complete disaster. It’s passable, but obvious that it hasn’t been looked at a lot.

The tango was a different story. I couldn’t seem to settle into it, and the position change for tango from waltz and foxtrot really threw me off. We had been working a lot of position in the swing dances and one thing that really helped me and kept me grounded in those dance was stretching back into Boss’s right hand with my left shoulder blade. In tango, because the position is different, that ‘anchor’ just wasn’t there and that caused me to not feel like the position was ‘locking in’. It was obvious watching the videos that my position was all over the place. It was also obvious that I wasn’t completely confident with the steps and in places you could tell I felt a little like I was chasing Boss through the dance.

We started on the quickstep, but it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t ready to be recorded in time with the music as we haven’t really worked on it and we have never tried it at speed. We agreed to make it a project for this week in my lessons and to aim to record it next weekend along with some of the latin routines.

Today at my lesson, quickstep was indeed the theme. We managed to work through the first few lines to the third corner in time with the music, looking at details here and there as necessary. Honestly, the hardest part was getting started and into the first line as I kept miscounting steps. Once we got going, it seemed to come together a bit better.

We finished today with a new conditioning sequence for jive. It’s a challenging sequence with steps straight from my routine, including what is probably the most difficult part of the routine with a combination of turning sailor shuffles and simple spins. It is already coming together better than it was on Friday when I just learned it and I can tell that it is stressing my system (in a good way) more than the samba. It takes longer for my heart rate to recover and it is working my body in a different way.

On a final note today, I had my 6-month follow-up with my oncologist. It went really well and quick, with only one “Are you Kidding?” note when he asked if I would like to try the hormone therapy again now that my ovaries have been removed. I think he realized pretty quickly that I wouldn’t even consider it and switched his messaging to acknowledge that I did try it for more than 6 months and I did have a very toxic reaction, which did justify leaving it behind. The good news is that I will see him again in 6 months and after that I will switch to yearly follow-ups with him with check-ups with my family doctor in between. One more step forward.

I haven’t written much as work has continued to be crazy busy and that combined with school and trying to prepare to be away has left me pretty stressed. I am off 4 days this weekend and I cannot wait. It’s the first full weekend off I have been going pretty full tilt with work since I returned from the cruise and I can tell that the break is completely needed. With the long weekend the week after and no duty in sight, I will have three 4-day weeks in a row before a really busy push to the end of September. After that, it looks like I will be in Ottawa for a few days before getting ready for the extended work trip after that.

Boss has also asked me to consider doing one of the latin routines in a showcase event with one of the other local studios. I am thinking about it, but I am not sure any of the latin routines will be ready in time and I am hesitant to add to my stress levels trying to push to prepare it. Part of my doubt is that I am really not sure where any of the latin routines are at as far as doing them at speed with the music because other than rumba, we haven’t tried any of them. This week we should have a chance and I will make my decision from there. It would be nice to do a performance before I leave.

So perhaps next week I will be able to write about how the latin is coming together.

And suddenly…

Things are making a lot of sense.

Somewhere between my last lesson and the lesson tonight a few things clicked together. The surprising thing is that it is not so much specific elements that has clicked together but more a realization and understanding of the level I am able to work at and that it is much higher than I give myself credit for.

I am not quite sure what triggered this but it seems to be a good thing. My mind has really zeroed in on pulling together a lot of details, processed them and been able to execute them all together.

There was just something about tonight’s lesson that seemed to come together. We weren’t doing anything different from what we usually did, but it just seemed to work much easier. Less time reviewing things and I was picking up the concepts and making the adjustments faster than I expected.

We were focusing on standard tonight, specifically two sequences of steps in waltz and foxtrot that have a lot of similarities. Both end with a lunge, but the entrance to and out of it is different, as is the sway going into the lunge.

It’s really a variation on a theme, but there are enough subtle differences that my mind needs to stay engaged. The nice thing as we moved through each of the sequences is that Boss would give some little directions for improvement and I was able to just incorporate them.

In the end, it was a really productive lesson that just seemed to flow. It was hard work, but it was paying off. We ended with the samba conditioning and while I was certainly tired, it also just seemed a little more refined and put together tonight.

At my last lesson, Boss asked me which latin dance I would prefer for a new sequence for conditioning – cha cha or jive. I originally said cha cha, thinking it might be more technical, but once I thought about it, jive made the most sense. I do the conditioning sequence in time with the music, and it is usually something from one of my routines.

Of all the routines, jive is going to be the trickiest to get up to speed. So, if I work on elements from the routine during conditioning in time with the music then my confidence will also go up in the steps. It’s also quite the cardio workout, there is no denying that!

I think I needed this small breakthrough this week as I had been feeling a bit complacent about dance – although perhaps that isn’t the right word. Perhaps it’s more that I have been feeling like I have been treading water and a little stagnant. It’s not only dance where I had been feeling that way, but a couple of changes seems to have made a big difference overall.

I also had a really productive weekend and cross a lot of things off my ‘to do’ list which has taken some loads off my mind.

It’s interesting how little changes can have big impacts.

“Knocked” Knees

One of the things Boss and I discovered and discussed 2 weeks ago is that I have “knocked” knees.

It was a discussion that came out of looking at the fallaway in standard and some of the issues I was having there. Because my knees tend to fall in, I have problems doing the fallaway and tend to feel like I am going to roll my ankle if I turn in my foot too much because I end up rolled onto the outside of my foot.

It was a long discussion with Boss trying to figure out how to explain what he was seeing and me trying to figure out how to move my muscles to fix it. I kept turning my knees out by rolling my feet out, but what is needed it for me to turn my knees out from my hips while keeping my feet balanced across the ball of my foot.

I did some research on my own and found this article which proved to be really useful : https://www.skyflohealth.com/knee-valgus/

I was able to also talk with the rehab specialist at work and do more experimenting myself. The result? I figured out how to engage my glutes and abductors to turn my knees out. Suddenly, a lot of the exercises I have been doing to help my knee issues made more sense.

The good news is that because I have been doing exercises with bands around my legs that focus on building abductor and the smaller glute muscle strength. My issue is that I haven’t taken what I have been doing to build strength and applied it in other areas.

This is turning out to be like a posture change. I have to constantly remind my muscles to fire and keep my knees turned out without letting my feet roll out. It’s building a new habit.

I have been working on it for almost 2 weeks now and I have actually seen and felt results.  One of the most significant was also something from ballet – I discovered I couldn’t put my feet together while sitting in a pike position because of the angle from my knees to my feet when my knees are together – now I can almost touch my feet.

At the gym, when I do my exercises with the band, since I am now focused on engaging my muscles to keep my knees out, I am suddenly finding the exercises much harder. I am going to have to go back to using just one band and the lightest one and rebuilding from there. After the first day, I was feeling DOMS in the right places, telling me I am doing the right thing.

I am also making a small but significant change to the ankle and foot strength exercises I am doing at the gym to help with my standard rise and fall. On the advice of the rehab specialist I am now doing them with a yoga block between my thighs while keeping my feet as close together as I can. This forces my muscles to engage and keep my knees out as I move through the movements. This is extremely intense and tricky – bringing these exercises to the next level.

The specialist made some changes this week to my program. I had been doing the same program since early in the new year and it was time to change up some exercises to challenge my muscles in a new way. She also added two exercises we hope will help my neck and shoulder issues. The other thing I have had to do to help with this is find a new style and size of bra that better supports my chest with less pressure on my shoulders.

After even one session with the new exercises I am feeling some good DOMS and am optimistic it will help resolve some of the issues I am feeling. On Friday I also had some dry needling relieve a knot in my left trap that has been aggravating things for a while.

Hopefully all of these small changes will add up to big improvements in the long run.

Sometimes half the battle is figuring out what is causing the problem.

A New Name

You may notice something different about the blog.

About a month ago I started thinking that perhaps it is time for me to change the name of my blog to reflect that while my journey is not over, the active cancer part of the journey is. I couldn’t think of something at the time, but earlier this week, a name finally came to me. I rolled it around in my head and decided to go for it.

So this blog is now “Beyond Cancer Ballroom Dancer”.

I feel it is fitting because currently my blog is not about dancing through treatment anymore (thankfully) but its more about moving beyond cancer – figuring out how life works again after so much time spent focused on an illness.

And so it is.

I have been a bit quiet lately and for that I apologize. I was getting quite stressed between work, school, and dance and I had to take a step back to reset a little and decompress. I just really needed to take a little time to let my mind calm down so I could think again.

So that is what I have been doing. Focusing on checking things slowly off my ‘to do’ list until I reached a point where I felt like I was back to being a little ahead instead of feeling always behind.

It’s been a really crazy few months. It occurred to me as I was working this weekend that I have actually worked every long weekend since New Year’s, between being on course, being on duty and managing some media requests. It’s no wonder I feel a little like I haven’t stopped. Even the cruise that I was on for ‘vacation’ turned out to not be as relaxing as I hoped when it ended with me forgetting my bag and my ‘recovery’ days getting eaten up being stressed about replacing the things in it and making up for the school work I lost.

I will have a few days off in a couple weeks around the week before the next long weekend and I truly will have the entire Labour Day weekend off. I just need to get through the next couple weeks.

I am hoping tomorrow might be a bit of a funner day at work. As part of my job, I am required to maintain regular qualifications in weapons handling so tomorrow will be spent on the ranges shooting to requalify. Its something completely different and gets me out of the office. I expect to be hot and sweaty but feel like I truly accomplished something. After that, I am going to a dance performance show with a friend and will probably see another I haven’t seen in a long time. I really can’t wait.

I may be a bit absent for a little while yet, but I do promise to write about dance soon. I have been quite busy over the last couple weeks and after the small successes with the latin routines, we are now turning to standard and working in a lot of detail through those routines. The goal is to record them the weekend after next, in time with music, even if not at full strength. It should be interesting.

In the past couple weeks we have also discovered a new challenge for my body related to my knees that I have been actively focusing on fixing. I will speak some more about that too.

In the meantime, I leave you my name change which better speaks to the message I want to convey —

There is life beyond cancer.