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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Strained

My lower back muscles that is.

That was the news I got from physio today when I finally got to see him and ask what might be going on with my back. Now I am sitting in a back brace to give some support to the muscles so they can rest and heal up.

Its actually a bit of good news  – it does mean my torn disc isn’t acting up or anything worse. My hip is still an issue too, although my back is the priority right now as I am limited in how much I can move.

It seems that I probably injured my back on Monday doing lunges. That was probably the ‘twinge’ I felt which seemed like a stretch or tight muscles. It had a bit of a delayed reaction as I didn’t start getting really sore until Wednesday morning. Physio also thinks that as I toss and turn at night I may be aggravating it more – so it is necessary to wear the brace especially to bed. Hopefully it should only be for a week, but we will see.

I have been cleared to do some careful dance as its important to stay mobile with back injuries, but pretty much I am to rest. I am not allowed to do strength training until my back feels at least 50% better. I am allowed to do elliptical though.

Dance actually helps a little – the twisting seems to give some relief for whatever reason. The exercises I was doing to try and relieve the pain (those I do for my disc) were actually aggravating it more as well. So no more back bends till I can move around without pain.

I did have an extra lesson booked for tomorrow in a bigger dance hall to do some conditioning and work on the standard routines in a full space, but Boss and I decided to cancel. It won’t be much help to use the bigger hall if I am not able to dance full out to see how they fit.

Its a small consolation prize I guess. Once my back settles some, we can go back to helping my hip – although staying off the running (which is now WAAAAAY off the table) will help it to heal up too.

Despite the injuries, I did have a good lesson tonight. We went through the silver routines and reviewed the spots where I wasn’t sure of the steps while practicing on my own. That should set me up well for my own practice when I am healed up to get back to it.

This weekend is going to be all about schoolwork as I work on an assignment I am struggling with, with the exception of Sunday afternoon when I will go for my first fitting of my new dresses. At least there is one silver lining to all the gloom.

In the end, these are small setbacks and its better to work out the kinks now than at the end of April when we are close to heading to the competition. I am optimistic once I rest a little everything will come back together and I will be able to pull it all together so I can compete in style at the Emerald Ball.

Revisiting Silver

Last Friday during my lesson we went over our silver routines.

Oy. Lots of work to do there, beginning with re-memorizing the sequences to do them on my own.

There is a bit of a different dimension to them – but that is to be expected considering how long it has been since I have worked on them – how I dance now is different.

I am focusing on working on and reviewing the routines during my self practice, working to rebuild them, strengthen them and incorporate the different techniques I now have in my dance.

Its proving harder than I expected, but its only been a couple days so I am not that surprised. I mostly feel a little unfocused working on them – like I am not completely sure what I should be doing with them. I am sure that will come as I keep working and Boss and I review them together.

I also was able to meet with my trainer today to look at my strength program. She made some significant changes and I am cautiously optimistic that they might shake things up a bit and better support my goals. I will be doing strength training 4 days a week now, followed by some cardio. The strength training is divided into 2 different ‘days’ – upper and lower body – which allows a little more overall work. There is a lot more leg work than I am was doing previously but less upper body work. It is also more balanced overall. The goal is more endurance and less power with higher reps and lower weight.

I will see how it goes as I work to make the changes.

I wish I had time to write more, but I am pretty bogged down with school right now and it is really sucking at my spare time. I may be a little scarce till March, but I am sure my writing will pick up more.

Especially as we get closer to competing again.

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.

Masters post #3 – “Boys” and “Girls” Sports

I came across an interesting article from Prince Edward Island today.

It can be found at https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-sports-boys-girls-1.4764185

I found this article interesting because it talks about the idea that some sports are more for one gender than the other, and talks about how there are efforts being made to reduce those perceptions and encourage (in particular) girls to participate in sports traditionally thought to be for ‘boys’.

The article looks specifically at baseball as a case study. One of the things that is interesting is that in PEI, baseball is mixed in younger years and become segregated as children age. I have limited knowledge of baseball but my guess is that at that age girls options in baseball become more limited so they are encouraged to move to softball – a sport which appears to be more for ‘girls’.

The other interesting thing that caught my eye in this article is that a lot of girls seem to stop playing sports about the time they hit puberty and while the exact reason isn’t really known (they list some probable causes) I wonder about this a bit. I think we all know that puberty is a pretty confusing and difficult time for both genders, but what I wonder is how reducing sports participation (and activity) impacts the experience. From my own experience, I also stopped participating in gymnastics and swimming around puberty although the reason was more financial rather than desire. Part of me wonders if the difficulties I experienced in my early teens (including a big weight gain) may have been reduced if I had stayed more active. Activity is such a big part of my life now and a huge part of my stress relief.

Putting that aside, I wanted to air some thoughts about segregated sports in general. I do completely understand why it is good to have both male and female divisions in most sport, but competing in a (generally) mixed partnered sport myself, I wonder why there are not more options for mixed team sports – especially for youth.

I am aware of some leagues of soccer in my city that have mixed teams for adults. I am not familiar enough with other team sport associations to know if there are options in baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, or other sports, and I am completely oblivious if any mixed options are available for teens.

I wonder this because I think of the advantages of dance – one of which is that from a young age children learn to be respectful of each other – regardless of gender. Its a lesson that could certainly transfer to other sports, at least in my opinion. Adding to that, it could also provide practical education for things which we seem to be questioning as society as a whole – such as equality between the sexes and gender roles.

If we grow up participating in sports together – as it appears we do when we are younger – perhaps the ideas of treating each other with respect, and equality are not things to question when we get older because it is part of our culture that the sexes always mix.

I am not saying there is no difference between the sexes, clearly there is or else we wouldn’t have them. But what I am saying is that perhaps we focus too much as a society on issues of sex and gender to the point that we almost make too big a deal – leading to segregation and the idea that some sports are for ‘boys’ and other are for ‘girls’.

Perhaps I am also very biased, after all I participate in a sport that should be for both sexes but is currently experiencing a severe shortage of male participants, but when I see an article like the one in the link it gets me thinking and wondering – why do we focus on segregating some sports and not offer more options for mixed teams?

Demand is part of it, I am sure. But that also begs the question – is there a lack of demand because it isn’t expected or offered? Is it because our cultural norm is to have separate teams?

Another interesting thing to note in the article is that some sports, dancesport included, are more popular with both sexes (or the opposite sex, such as field hockey mentioned in the article) in Europe and other places overseas.

Perhaps I have opened a can of worms here but I feel that this is an issue well worth thinking about.

Food for thought.

The little things

Sometimes, you just have to acknowledge the little things.

I had a good practice today minus one instance where I tripped over my own heel and fell into a somersault (that’s what I get for trying to be as compact as possible in cha cha!).

In many ways I needed a day like today to just relieve a bit of stress and give myself a bit of a boost.

The last couple weeks have been difficult for me in general. Work as always is busy, but more so than that is the on-going issues with my neck and shoulders. I have been taking muscle relaxants at night to try to calm them down some so they can strengthen and heal and for the most part it is helping.

But the side effects is not. The muscle relaxants leave me cloudy and exhausted. My body has a very hard time metabolizing them. It takes about 6 hours for them to take effect (usually it is about 30-45 mins), and worse I still feel the effects 12-16 hours later.

And that’s a half dose.

It’s always been an issue for me with this type of medication, which is why I try to avoid it where possible. Unfortunately, the issues with my neck and shoulder reached a point it could not be ignored. On top of that, if I can’t get the pain under control it will affect the opportunities I am given through work.

Worse than that, I am beginning to wonder if I will have to just live with this for the rest of my life due to the reconstruction I had. It may also be contributed to my new breasts being heavier (even though they are smaller) than my natural breasts. I don’t know what to think.

But back to today.

I stopped taking the muscle relaxants a couple days ago so I am finding I have a little more energy, and it took a little bit of effort to get myself to the studio for practice.

Once I got started though I ended up doing 90 minutes which was 30 more than I expected. I also had one of those days where things I have been struggling with for a while seemed to suddenly come together and work.

I was also able to review 4 of the 5 latin routines and finally quickstep seems to be getting under my feet (if not anywhere else).

It was a day of little victories, which was well needed after almost 2 weeks of struggling to get through full practices and flailing about trying to find a way to focus better on my routines.

One of the things that did come out of this week was also a decision between Boss and I not to compete this fall. If all goes well and I do end up traveling for work I will be away for 7 weeks, including those when we would compete, and the lead up to that travel is stressful enough without adding competing to the mix. So mutually we agreed to look at possibilities for competing again in the new year and go from there.

So today I am hanging on to and celebrating the small victories I have made. I am one more week left in the ballet workshop and in general I can say I am enjoying it, but have noticed the effect 2 extra hours of hard work has had on my energy levels overall (muscle relaxants aside).

This week will definitely be about the little things.

Masters post #1 – The World Cup and women

As I mentioned, as part of my current course for my masters I have a requirement to write 4 blog posts on stories in the media.

I have chosen to write about my thoughts on the following CTV media story Russian women push back at shaming, which was published on July 15th, the day of the World Cup Final.

You all know that I am an avid fan of watching ballroom dance, but the other sports tournaments I go out of my way to watch are the World and Euro Cup. I don’t follow soccer any other time, but watch as many tournament games as I can. I like the dynamics of soccer and the fact that in many cases the winner is not chosen so much by skill or strategy (although it certainly helps!), but by elements of luck at play. You can never really predict what is going to happen.

This is much like this article, which is actually one of several that have been published by different outlets throughout the World Cup that attempt to highlight what many feel are archaic Russian values towards women.

As the title suggests, this article speaks about the public shaming that has been a theme throughout the World Cup which at it’s worse suggests that Russian women are shamelessly seeking “liaisons” with all the foreigners come to play and watch the tournament. From there, what often follows in these stories is an examination of Russian values towards women and how ‘behind the times’ they are with the west.

With the west.

That is a phrase that grinds me a little. Who are we in the west to say that our values are superior and that any society that doesn’t hold them are backwards or behind?

Going a step further, my first thought on seeing these stories is “Why is this news?”

Granted, the Burger King offer was certainly not a shining moment of marketing. The comments made by Pletnyova and Besedin are extremely off side.

But I have a hard time thinking that the behaviours, attitudes towards them (both for and against), and commentaries are much different from what could be observed at any international sporting event — even in the U.S. or Canada.

On top of that, there seems to be an assumption that any woman seen interacting with foreign fans (such as the one in the photo with this article) is doing so with the sole motivation of developing a sexual relationship.

Like anywhere, I am willing to bet some are, some aren’t, and some are just ‘going with it’ to see what happens. Overall, I would hazard to guess the main goal for everyone is to have fun, whether with other Russians, Europeans, South Americans or otherwise.

What a novel idea!

This is news to those of us in the western world because for the most part it plays into the stereotypes and prejudices we already have of eastern European society and values. This is the type of commentary and controversy we expect to see — that women are shamed and repressed and live in a country akin to the 1950s where few are allowed to work or hold powerful positions. We in the western world enable this to be news.

It would be naive to think that a major tournament could take place in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia, without any sort of examination of society. Similar stories appeared around the Olympics, especially leading up to them.

I think instead of focusing on the surface message of this story, there are messages much deeper if we want to see them. There are some similarities, not just differences. Russia has feminists (which is generally known), but the story of Mariam strikes me as an everyday story — two people met through chance and formed a relationship. It just happens one is Russian, one is Mexican.

Sporting events, such as the World Cup do provide opportunities for global engagement and interaction. That is one of the aims and goals of most international events. Hosting one inevitably brings a magnifying glass onto the hosts. In many ways this is a reason to bid to host an event such as this. It’s a chance to highlight one’s country, including those any issues which may be abundant in that society. But instead of comparing West vs East, maybe what we need is a better understanding of Eastern European culture as a whole – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I argue that understanding is strongly lacking in North America, and there is little desire to learn beyond what mass media tells us (which often is exactly what we want to see and hear).

It’s too bad. We certainly have our own good, bad and ugly too. Makes me wonder if the shoes were reversed how a tournament hosted in North America would be covered by Russian Media.

All of this to say – be willing to dig below the surface of news stories about other societies.

There are always two sides to every story.

A New Chapter

I’ve been thinking a lot about dance lately.

It started before the cruise and has continued into this week.

I think the time away from competing, as difficult as it has been, has been good for me. I can genuinely say that I am enjoying being able to take the time to dig into the details of the routines and steps and movements that I am doing. I’ve been able to connect with my body and dance in a way I didn’t expect.

And I really really like it.

That’s not to say I don’t want to compete anymore, absolutely I do!

But I am not in a rush to do it. I also don’t find I have a need to do it as much as I felt I did before.

What I crave most from dance right now is the experience of it. Yes, competing is part of the experience, but it is no longer the main goal for me.

Right now, I want to see how far I can continue to develop and grow through dance. I want to keep developing those details, keep pushing myself, keep working to see what I can do.

I want to inspire others to dance and to be an example for other dancers to look up to. I have overcome a lot to be where I am right now and I know life is going to continue to throw obstacles at me, whether in dance or other areas of my life. That is just how life goes. By meeting those challenges, that is how we grow and get stronger.

I have grown a lot and come so far in dance, and there is so much more of this journey left.

But right now I feel my focus in dance needs a slightly different focus. I want to focus more on development.

For the past 8 months or so, my dance journey has been focused on me and my development. I haven’t really been able to do that since before I got sick because there was always a competition or test or performance I was preparing for. During that time, that prep and focus on tangible goals was what I needed.

I am surprised to discover that I don’t really need that sort of focus anymore.

I do still have a need and desire to compete and perform, but it is not as pressing. When I do it, I want to do it to show my progress, and mostly it’s to show that progress to myself. I feel that competitions, and by extension performance (I would much much rather compete than perform) are necessary to help give a limit to break up phases of development. They give a timeline for taking a step back, evaluating, and refocusing.

For the past year, I have enjoyed working with Boss more than I have during the 5 years prior to it. We really have come into a solid grove with how we work, and it really is at a higher level than I ever really thought possible, in consideration of the struggles we had trying to get and stay on the same page before that. There is an element of mutual respect I never expected.

It makes me optimistic and eager to see where Boss’s teaching will lead me next.

I am so grateful that I discovered pro/am, despite the unique challenges it presents. Without it, I likely would have stopped dancing a long time ago and I would definitely not be where I am now. The opportunity it provides me is unmatched.

I don’t know what the future holds. I expect at some point my career will take me to a new location and that will mean new dance experiences. For now, I intend to embrace the opportunities Boss gives me as best I can. I don’t know what all those opportunities will be, but I do know I will continue to get fitter, healthier and feel better — which finally brings me back full circle to the main reasons I started dancing in the first place. Before I found dance, I was very lost and broken.

Through dance I have become strong and confident. I would never have beaten cancer without it. Words cannot express my gratitude for those who have been part of my dance journey, especially Boss who never gave up on me, even when I seemed determine to give up on dance, myself, and to make it as difficult as possible.

This has been such a long time coming.

It’s time for a new chapter in dance for me. I am not quite sure where it will go, but I know it will be great and ideas are already forming. Once I can get them organized into some sort of sense, I will present them to Boss and see what he suggests.

I’m excited for this new chapter and where it will lead me.

Time to start writing.

I think they think I am nuts…

Some of the social dancers at the studio, that is.

Either that, or they just don’t believe me when I say I am not preparing for a competition right now.

I don’t know what it was about tonight but I got asked by three different dancers “What competition are you preparing for?” (I still hate that question, BTW)

It was actually getting a bit comical when after the third time my response of “none right now” was met with a look of sheer incredulity.

I guess it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to them for me to be working as hard as they see me working without any competition motivating it.

It’s interesting though that they just assume I have a competition coming up considering compared with the amateur couples, I have only done one competition (most of them have done 3 or 4 since last September). Perhaps it is the way I work that they just automatically equate with competing.

That said, these are people who see me at the studio 3 times a week (well 4 the last 3 due to me being away), and usually when they arrive I am either practicing on my own or doing cardio conditioning, either by myself or with Boss, both of which I can imagine look pretty intense from the outside.

It’s interesting sometimes to see your work from the perspective of others. Truth be known, I don’t really have any routines near to being competition ready, and from now until June I am in and out of town pretty consistently. Most of them will be at more lessons than I will over the next month.

This week, my focus is trying to get the pieces of the routines Boss and I have gone over into my head consistent enough to work on my own while I am away. I just pray I have time to get practice in as the schedule will be pretty hectic, both during the course I will be doing and the vacation time after.

That said, I know myself well enough that I will find time here and there to fit things in, even if not as consistently as I would like.

Almost all the routines are coming along pretty good, and we have even added to the cha cha and waltz with a likelihood of adding to the rumba or samba tomorrow.

Jive is another story, but my guess is it will be on the list to tackle when I get back. I feel back because we spent a lesson going through it, and Boss even identified a couple pieces for me to work on and when I went to work on it myself on Sunday I discovered that pretty much after the second step it was all a blank including the pieces to work on.

(although one of them was ‘kick ball changes’, something I seem to have a complete mental block on)

So am I working for a competition?

There are none on the near horizon and I have no idea if any will appear.

But, I am still working as though there is one coming up — so I can be ready, just in case.

That isn’t nuts, is it?

2017 Reflections and the impact of living past cancer

Like most, I find myself thinking about 2017.

2017 was a rough year for me. Certainly it was a lot tougher than I expected at the beginning of the year.

I had 2 major surgeries, spent the beginning of the year fighting debilitating side effects from hormone therapy, and lost any possibility to compete in the near future.

But I also completed almost 1/2 of my masters degree with a strong average, competed twice, including in open smooth and gold level, had a strong recovery, lost a third of the chemo weight, had successes at work, bought a new car, and felt my strength return for the first time since 2015.

I may recognize the good easier than the bad and I accept that as a gift.

Some things will continue for 2018. My degree will be only 3 months from completion, I expect work to keep progressing (especially since I can work full-time again now), recovery will continue and with it strength and weight loss. Dance will progress and while I am not going to be competing, I do have the time to focus on me and strengthen my dancing overall.

Cancer taught me a lot of hard lessons, not only about life but also about myself. It showed me strength and discipline I didn’t realize I had, helped me to determine what is truly important to me and to let go of those that are not.

Now, more than ever before, I can truly say that I am happy and content with where I am and where I am going. But that contentment comes more from knowing I am going some where, even if I don’t know the destination. I just want (and intend) to keep going there.

I don’t know what the future will bring. I don’t know when I will compete next, but I know at some point I will. In the meantime, I will continue to learn. I was told by work I can “reasonably” expect to stay in my current geographic location for 3-5 years and I am pleased with that. I am working to make sure I am well set up for my future.

The biggest takeaway from 2017 for me is reaching a point where I feel like I have a future I can look to again.

While dealing with cancer, the future disappeared. Not because the projected outcome was bleak or dismal, but only because it takes so much energy to fight cancer it is necessary to keep focused on the present and take things one day at a time. You focus on treatments–when the next one will be, whether the next day, week or 3 weeks–and work to get yourself there as positively as possible.

I am not sure I would have realized how important things such as dance and my work are to me if I hadn’t had to fight to keep them in my life. It gives me a different perspective on them and I fully believes shapes decisions I make about them–because I know now what is important about them.

This fall, I was put in a position where I had to decide what was more important to me in dance, competing or my process for learning. I would have made a different decision in 2014, and I know I would have regretted it and possibly ended up stopping dance.

I am comfortable in my decision, but also find myself a bit resigned–at least for now. I am resigned to the fact that current circumstances mean I can’t participate in dance how I would fully like to, but the circumstances are just that–current. They will change and I will adapt to new circumstances then. There will come a time when I can determine those circumstances, but it is not yet. There is a time for everything.

So as 2017 comes to an end, those are the thoughts that are bringing me into 2018.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year!