Quickstep

Had a bit of a breakthrough in this dance last night.

For the longest time, everything I did in quickstep seemed heavy, plodding and slow.

Last night, continuing with the plan to work through the standard routines we switched over to quickstep after a review of the waltz.  After working on the first short line, which has it’s own challenges with pivots and heel turns (who decided heel turns were ok in Quickstep!?!?!), we moved on to the second long line, which just never seems to come together for me.

The line isn’t overly complicated, but it does have a lot of quick changes from promenade to closed position and a couple rotations tossed in for good measure.  One of the biggest issues I had with this line was really a lack of confidence that I knew the steps.  Because of that, I had a habit to think of it in chunks consisting of 3 steps at a time and that was making it slow and heavy.

Last night, I had to switch my thinking from the steps to the full sequence–thinking through the whole line from start to finish and just keeping my feet moving.

As soon as I did that suddenly the entire feel of the line got lighter and made more sense as a whole.

I still had some issues forgetting where to change to promenade and over-rotating at points, but overall the entire sequence suddenly got much smoother and more flowing.  Instead of moving more chunky and up and down, the sequence started moving forward because my focus was more forward.

It seems like a small thing, but it made a huge difference, and it also made executing the sequence somehow easier and much less work. It was one of those ultimate ‘aha’ moments.  I can’t wait to try the Quickstep in a bigger hall where we have more room to travel and see how it goes.

I think I get a little paranoid in Quickstep because it is one dance where if I lose control or mess up there is really nothing Boss can do to keep it together and on track just from the momentum and power involved.  Last night though went a long way to building my own confidence in the sequences, and hopefully that will continue the more we work through it.

At the end of the lesson, we did some work on the oversway as Boss wanted to do some work on picture lines and he told me to expect more work on that tonight.  It’s certainly a different focus and interesting to work on.

For myself, this afternoon is going to be some self-practice on Paso Doble.  I am not entirely sure why but I really have a bit of a block on this routine lately.  I want to do it at about half speed, so trying to do it at full speed is not working.  I can’t seem to bridge the gap between the two speeds, but I am hoping to find some music to help.  One of the biggest issues I am having right now is that my mind knows the steps, but my feet do not.  It’s a bit strange as usually I have the opposite problem–my feet know the steps, but my mind thinks too much to get it together.  I did ask Boss if we could try it at speed last night together and it was a disaster.  We didn’t even get to the first highlight before I was so far behind and confused it fell apart.  OY.  The surprising thing that did work was the section where I have 3 spins in a row.  THAT I could do on time, but simple forward and back steps I couldn’t.  At least that tells me if I can get my mind and feet working together it should be possible and work.  Just.need.lots.of.repetition.

Hopefully today will be the day for a Paso breakthrough!

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So how about a dance post?

Despite everything that has been going on, I have been able to get some dancing in, and the activity actually helps some with the symptoms.

I haven’t gotten in as much dancing as I would have liked, but something is always better than nothing.

I did have a rounds practice on Sunday, which was fairly interesting considering I was having intermittent moments of dizzyness and light-headedness and had to stop more than I would have liked.

Aside from that though, there were moments when things seemed to be finally coming together. After the first round in standard, Boss told me to focus on keeping my core connected with him and that made for some interesting 2nd and 3rd round dancing.  The result was that I was more aware of when my left side opened up away from him so I felt like I was spending every dance fighting with myself to keep my core where it needed to be. Boss told me yesterday he thought that was great because I kept noticing and correcting when I opened up. Ah, the differing perspectives.

Boss and I had a brief discussion yesterday about the practice on Sunday and there were two things of note that came out of that.  The first was that Boss told me most of my standard routines are pretty disastrous because my footwork sucks.  But then he told me it was ok since I just seemed incapable of rolling through my foot properly.

*sigh*. There is nothing I hate more than being told I am incapable of doing something which I have neither been told I need to work on nor given direction on where in my routines I should be focusing on it.  How can I be capable of something I am not really aware of having to do?  I am not even sure what specifically he is talking about when he says ‘footwork’ and ‘rolling’.

The other discussion was a bit more interesting.  Boss expressed frustration that I seem to have developed a habit of going really big on some steps and then tightening up small on others.  It’s like I let the gas out then apply the hand break while still revved up every now and then.  He found it fairly strange that I seemed to just stop traveling at certain points in routines, but then start moving again at others.

This makes perfect sense to me. Besides the fact that I haven’t really been encouraged to travel during my routines in quite some time (and honestly have forgotten a bit how to do it), when I come to a step that I am not quite sure of, or I don’t trust myself to be able to control the momentum, I immediately start to ‘err’ on the side of caution because I don’t want to screw up and hurt myself or Boss.  So those steps get small.  Then when I reach a step I am more confident in, I go back to putting everything I have into doing it.

I wasn’t fully consciously aware that I was doing that, but I wasn’t surprised when he mentioned it.  We did a section from our Waltz that the steps needed to be clarified on and it ended with a Wing to a Fallaway.  I am never sure how much I can step during the Wing (and apparently I move far enough), but Boss made a point of showing where I can take the opportunity to move more once we get into the fallaway.

It’s enough to give me something to think about and put into my own practice until the next time we do rounds (which could be in 2, 3, or 4 weeks–I haven’t been told yet).  Together with the focus on the connection and keeping my left side turned in, that gives me two very solid things to focus on during those practices, now that I am much more grounded in the choreography.

The other thing I heard yesterday that I don’t think I ever thought I heard was that I was doing CBMP when I wasn’t supposed to and that was complicating some of my quickstep steps.  Go figure–I have spend months trying to make sure I am using CBMP when I need to that I have apparently overdone it.

I have an extra lesson this week to make up for the one I missed last week, and I suspect my lessons will focus on the smooth routines for the next little while.  The tango and foxtrot are coming together a little bit (tango more than foxtrot), and I think there is an intent to pull the waltz together too.  Boss mentioned an idea of doing a rounds practice with just smooth in a few weeks, so we will see what happens with that.

The other thing of dancing note that happened recently was a bit of a strange conversation with one of the amateur couples.  They recently started coming more and more to the studio for their own practice and last Friday they were there not only for my lesson, but also had to share space with me while I did a practice after.  Their initial comment was ‘Wow! You work just as hard as Boss does’ (which was a little bit insulting considering the level of their surprise at that), but then on Sunday they clarified that they had no idea that I worked so much and so hard on my dancing.  They have been dancing in the community for quite some time, but their experience seeing me work has been only since I was sick, not before (as I practiced in a different hall).  It was an interesting conversation which ended with them expressing some genuine respect that I work 100% all the time–even on my own.  Perhaps it’s a mini pro/am victory of sort for the community. (The community where I live has a general lack of understanding and respect for pro/am dancers and we are seen as being ‘carried’ by our pros and ‘not real dancers’–I have been told that by amateur dancers).

I continue to be frustrated about my health but it does seem to finally be settling down (fingers crossed).  The one thing I am finding most difficult is that my mind is fuzzy and foggy all the time and I can’t seem to remember simple things.  It means a lot of repetition and makes me worried about the idea that I am supposed to perform one of the smooth routines (dance still to be confirmed) in less than 2 weeks.  Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal, but since I can’t seem to retain much these days….OY.

But tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully a stronger, more clear-headed one.

Putting together the pieces

As expected, today’s lesson was focused in on some of the things that needed work from yesterday.

We started by working on the foxtrot and clarifying the third and 4th line and working through them over and over until they felt really solid, had some shaping to them.  There are some really interesting steps in those lines, but to make them work I have to make sure I do my part right.  We were also working on using my power to travel.

After foxtrot, it was on to quickstep.  again the second and third line to put them together and to clarify little but really important details (especially in quickstep where everything is so fast!).  We fixed some of the iffy parts to make them more solid so neither Boss nor I had to worry about falling.

Again my endurance failed me.  The last two times running through the lines my legs just stopped working.  The last time we both felt me just sink as my steam ran out.  Considering we spent most of the lesson just running over and over through two really tough dances full out, it was a bit of an achievement to make it as far as I did before my muscles started shutting down.  It was also ‘leg day’ at the gym, so they worked really hard today!

I will do my regular workout tomorrow, but after that, no strength training until after the competition to let my muscles rest and be at full strength when I need to be at the competition.

We are getting down to the wire, and to the point where it is just run through, run through, run through, and fix the things that can be fixed in the time we have.  Just build the confidence in the routines.

I can also tell that Boss is already thinking ahead to what we will focus on after this competition, which will be more shaping and upper body work.  Putting all the pieces together.

I pick up the skirt for my solo tomorrow so I can start practicing with it, and my dresses are also really coming along.  I am excited to see them!

A day of surprise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-competition Disorder

It’s coming.

Not here quite yet, but I can feel it coming.  Pre-competition Disorder. Essentially when students freak out before a competition and panic they won’t be ready.

I am usually pretty good at managing it, but this is a bit of a ‘come-back’ comp and all of my routines are new.  And I actually have people to compete against–which has been a long time for me.

In my lesson today, we were running through my solo for the competition.  It’s almost choreographed, and we were able to get through it from mid-beginning to where the choreography stops almost near the end.  It was videotaped and it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would.

I will admit there was a point in my lesson today when I seriously considered suggesting dropping doing the solo.  Boss was being a little frustrated with me because I wasn’t quite getting something, and suggested we ‘simplify’ it so it can be ready.  There is nothing I hate more than not being given a chance to learn something before Boss decides to ‘simplify’ it.  In the end, I got the step as he originally wanted it, so small victory for me.

After that, he gave me a choice of whether to run-through the routine or to just work on little parts.  I chose to run-through it as I knew that mostly I needed to repeat it in context to get the footwork in my feet.  I know the parts that need a little more focused work, and some of them I just need to work through on my own.

I am not really sure why, but I was struggling with two things today–first, my knees were excruciatingly sore.  I didn’t want to bend them and I was compensating for them without really realizing it.  I am not sure why they were so flared up.  Wednesday is the day I don’t have strength training, so they were able to take it easy all day.  I am actually wondering if it is the rest they don’t like.

The second thing I was struggling with was dizziness–which is definitely an issue when doing Viennese Waltz!  What was strange was that I was finding myself a lot more dizzy than I usually would be, and sometimes felt dizzy for no reason.  The dizziness was also one of the reasons I wanted to cut back on the medication–I had been finding it more and more in the last couple weeks, and I am hoping as I cutback the dizziness will go away.

I just don’t need anymore health issues right now.

I think the combination of my knees, the dizziness and feeling the pressure of putting together a complicated solo two weeks before a competition is starting to get to me a little bit.  I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed during my lesson.

I stayed for practice tonight and ran through each of my open silver routines as best I could on my own.  They weren’t too bad, but I could tell I was tired.  That said, the only one that gave me a lot of grief was foxtrot, which I was working on last.  Quickstep is still a little fragmented, but tango has really become ironed out.  I was able to focus on styling a little in cha cha, especially the beginning which is more side-by-side.

I have my final lesson this week tomorrow, and the plan is to run through the solo more, hopefully from top to bottom.  We also need to run through the Paso Doble before the competitive practice on Sunday.  Boss also mentioned he wanted to work through Viennese Waltz just on it’s own because he found in the solo I wasn’t ‘really moving’ and seemed to be struggling with the actual VW part.  I did tell him I was keeping things small on purpose for my knees, which I guess made sense to him. I hope my knees are better tomorrow.

One thing that is adding to my stress a little bit is the news that my roommate was given an offer for his own place, so he will be moving out the end of October.  It was quite a bit unexpected, for him and for me, and it means I have to scramble to find a new roommate.  While I can pay all the bills on my own and even keep myself in lessons, no roommate means almost no savings for competitions.  Therefore, if I don’t find a new roommate then the competition over Thanksgiving will be my last until I am able to find a new roommate.  It sucks, but it is what it is, and I will just have to see how things progress.  I think I have already resigned myself a bit to not being able to afford to do the next competition in January.

Today was my first day on the lower dose of the medication and there seems to be a little bit of difference already–in a positive way.  I can say for sure that my digestive system is feeling a little happier today, and there is less metallic taste in my mouth.  I am going to hold on to those signs and hope it keeps moving forward.  I am though a little concerned that the reason I feel a little bit overwhelmed is also because of the dose change.  The medication affects mood, and has to be ‘weaned’ off to avoid a ‘crash’ if it is stopped suddenly.  I am of course ‘weaning’, but I think it would be irrational of me to think that cutting the dose in half won’t have even the slightest effect on my mood.

I am dealing with it though–as best as I know how :).

Filling in the Gaps

That is what today’s lesson was mainly about.

After the practice yesterday, I sent Boss a note with some feedback from the run-throughs of any places in each routine that were still fuzzy.  Mainly it was transitions from one step to another, and it turned out the main problem was just small directional issues.

We spent the lesson today going through each of the spots I pointed out and clarifying what I needed so I can be a little more comfortable with the routines and able to work on my own in practice.  This is going to be really important in standard as I really tense up with I am unsure of myself.

I did get a good amount of practice in today before my lesson which let me review some of the fuzzy spots myself.  I debated staying after my lesson, but recognized I was pretty sore and tired and gave myself a break.

Mondays, for whatever reason, tend to be fuzzier days in general, although I certainly wasn’t as bad this week as last.  I wasn’t ‘zoning out’ tonight and was able to keep focus through the full lesson.

Boss gave me a homework assignment though, and it was interesting of him to suggest.  He told me to write out notes from tonight’s lesson as there was a lot of information, right into the email he was using to structure the lesson (my feedback from yesterday).  I wasn’t too sure it was a good idea to do it tonight, and I am not one to write notes in general, especially during a lesson, beyond steps and timing, but after I got home and showered I decided to write out the points.

What was actually quite helpful was that I waited until a bit of time after my lesson to write the notes.  Therefore, I had to recall the points and write them in my own words.  For me, that is almost like retention gold.  I see words in my head, so anything I write in my own words almost automatically gets remembered.  I am curious to see how that translates into my next practice (which should be Wednesday after my lesson–unless I get a little energetic and decide to do some runthroughs on my own tomorrow night at the gym).

On a different note, tomorrow I have a phone consult with my oncologist to discuss my medication and the side effects I have been experiencing.  I really hope that we can slowly ‘phase out’ the problem medication without too much difficulty.  As I seem to have adjusted to the hormone therapy, the side effects I am experiencing from the medication I am taking for the side effects of HT are getting pretty extreme–especially the digestive issues.

I have my fingers crossed that the oncologist will let me at least try smaller doses and see how it goes.  Taking medications for side effects of a medication I am taking for the side effects of HT just doesn’t make much sense to me–especially since I seem to having much less (almost none) side effects from the HT. One less medication in my home pharmacy would be really welcomed right about now.

With three weeks to go to the competition, I am feeling good about where things are at, even though they are still a little rough.  As I said before, the goal is to get the routines on the floor for this competition, and I should definitely be able to do that.

I have lessons Wednesday and Thursday this week and they should be focused on the solo and Paso Doble.

 

Competitive Practice

Well, I made it through.

It wasn’t always elegant, and we had to stop and reset here and there, but for the most part I was able to get through each routine at least once without stopping.

We did a bit of a graduated increase in standard–first we did compact almost practice hold just to go through the steps, then Boss told me to slowly start to stretch out, and to use my power to move.

I am still being far more cautious than he would like, but it is slowly coming.  I was able to pinpoint at the end of today the areas where I am still not quite sure of the timing or footwork.  Waltz still remains the most solid right now, and foxtrot is actually not too bad either.  Tango is almost there, and Quickstep had a few issues where I am not sure what I am doing, but I just keep my feel moving.  I think it gave Boss good feedback on what we need to work on and focus on for next week (other than the solo).

We also did one lap of the floor in Viennese Waltz today, and that is where I am really feeling my lack of endurance coming into play.  For each of the routines, I definitely hit a point where I could feel I reached the last of my energy.  Thankfully, it was near the end of the round in most cases.

I am pretty pleased with how things went today as I honestly did expect more hiccups.  It was nice to get on the floor with the other competitive couples in the area for the first time in more than a year.  I have missed these practices for sure.

Latin didn’t go too bad either, although there were almost more issues than in standard.  I kept forgetting the same part in samba (but Boss kept forgetting a different one), and I wasn’t quite able to get all the turns in cha cha (according to Boss I am turning to much for the time I have, and I can agree with that).  Rumba went the best today, just small hiccups in the extended ending Boss added on Friday.  Paso definitely needs some review, and I was doing my old jive routine, so it went well–until I ran out of steam (but I almost made it through and with my knees up!).

Yesterday, I had a dress fitting and it was pretty exciting.  We are at the point where the stoning is starting! Both dresses are looking really amazing, even before the stones and I can’t wait until the next time I get to try them.

Next week is going to be pretty busy.  On Monday we are going to review the routines, and on Wednesday and Thursday we will work on the solo.  I should have the skirt for the solo ready to start practicing in next weekend.  I can’t believe it is already halfway through September!

Today is the one year anniversary from my last radiation treatment–what a difference a year makes!

Comp Preparation

3 more weeks until the competition–Yikes!!

I have some good news from this week.  After an exhausting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (where I didn’t even think it would be safe to drive to practice 😦 ), at about 5 pm on Thursday I suddenly had a complete turn-around and burst of energy which has continued into today.

This turn-around and other symptoms make me strongly suspect that the extreme fatigue, mind fuzziness, difficulty thinking, etc. is actually hormone related.  Looking back, the last time I felt that bad was about 4 weeks ago.  It could be a sign that despite the chemopause and hormone therapy, my body is still trying to be cyclical.  I have noted on my calendar what happened and when, and I am going to see if it happens again in about 4 weeks.  Interestingly, it was the appearance of the full moon that triggered to me that perhaps this is cyclical, and not just a random occurrence, as I remember feeling ‘off’ the last time the moon was almost full.  If I didn’t know better, I would almost think I had a bout of extreme PMS.

That aside, preparations for the competition are continuing.  All the routines are choreographed now, and this week Boss and I spent time running through them and getting them to a point where I can do them mostly from start to finish in preparation for the competitive run-through practice on Sunday.

The latin routines, with the exception of a small piece near the end of the samba I need to remind myself about are in really good shape.  I need to focus in a bit on my styling for them now and focus on working through them ‘all out’.

The standard routines are coming, but taking more work than the latin routines.  Waltz is in the best place right now, with (shockingly) Quickstep just behind followed by tango and Foxtrot.  I have the routines written out now, which seems to be key for me to memorize and understand them, and they are at a place where I should be able to get through them from top to bottom without too much incident.

The biggest thing the standard routines need right now is confidence.  When I get to a part I am not too sure of, I tend to tense up, and then my shoulders hunch, especially my right side.  I also tend to start moving small and cautiously.  Today, we had some spots where I felt confident enough to really ‘let out the gas’, and it is pretty interesting when I do.  My goal is to get to that point through all the routines and hold nothing back.  Boss is working on encouraging me to use my power in standard (while still being controlled), and helping me to really realize what I am capable of.  The more we run through the routines the more I realize how cautious I am normally and how much I hold back, but at the same time, each time I allow myself to really go for it, it is a victory.

I think one of the most challenging things I will encounter at this competition is to keep myself in check and to not ‘overdo’ it by pushing beyond what I can control.  It’s a fine line.  I need to be confident in my movement, but I also need to be able to keep the confidence within the realm of what I can control.

Boss told me 2 weeks ago that he had been reviewing our previous competition videos and that he found it really interesting.  When I asked him why it was interesting, he said he was really looking forward to seeing what will happen once I am in full power and control and at my ‘top form’.  Of the videos from my last 3 competitions, I wasn’t completely 100% for any of them, due to illness or injury.

The entry list for the competition I am doing is out and I was pleasantly surprised to see that in latin I will be against 3 other competitors in most of my single dances, and will have competition in both of my multi-dances.  That is really encouraging and awesome for this competition, considering last year I was alone.  Great growth and kudos to the organizers for that.  In standard I am alone, except possibly in my multi-dance, which takes a little bit of pressure off it.  It’s been quite some time since I have had competition, and it does make me a little nervous as all the students I am against are people who I have neither danced with nor seen previously, but it is exciting nonetheless.

Despite the nervousness, I am just trying to remind myself that the goal of this competition is simply to get the routines on the floor.  If I can do that, mission accomplished!  It’s great though to be excited about a competition, as it’s been a while since I have been.

We didn’t work on the solo this week, but we are supposed to do that on Monday.  I know that the practice on Sunday will certainly highlight the areas that still need some work, and that will likely set the stage for the preparations over the next 3 weeks.

On a different front, my dresses are coming along really well!  I have a fitting tomorrow, and following that they should be at the stage where the stoning will start, to really get them towards the final product.  The third dress should be started as well (the smooth dress), and I am excited to see all three!  I am also having a skirt made for my solo, so I am hoping there is a little bit of progress on that too as I think it will be useful to practice with it as soon as I can (no pressure to my awesome dressmaker!!).

So along with a debut of new open silver routines, I am also going to be debuting two new dresses, a new solo routine with a new skirt.  Lots of exciting things happening!

I am nervous for the rehearsal on Sunday.  It’s been more than a year since I have done any of these practices and I am not entirely sure I have the endurance to be up to the challenge.  I am going to try my best though!  I was joking with Boss tonight that my goal for Sunday is to get through everything without falling down–although I think I was more than half serious!  His goal is for me to do things ‘compact’ the first round and then to ‘open up the gas’ for the second one.  Interesting how we have different perspectives :). We will see who has the best predictions.

It’s been a while since I have been in full ‘competition prep mode’ and I am finding the change refreshing.  I think even seeing that I have actual competition in some of my heats has helped to motivate me some.  Lots to do, but I think for the goals I hope to achieve with this competition, I am in a good place.

By the way–tomorrow is my one year anniversary for my last radiation treatment!

Happiness is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhaustion

Yes, I finally found the point where a lot is just too much.

But now I know what is reasonable, so I can modify and try to find the ‘sweet spot’.

I only had practice today because Boss wasn’t able to find studio time to fit me in.  I sort of saw that coming so I wasn’t surprised.  He leaves for vacation tomorrow so everyone is trying to get some time in before he goes.  I am a little upset that I ended up being the ‘odd man out’ as there was a lot I wanted to get done before he left so I can carry one with my own practice.  The only other thing I will say about that is sometimes I feel like I get the bad end of the stick often being the first lesson of the evening as if there are hall issues, it’s me who loses out.  I hope it gets sorted when he gets back and we can find regular consistent lesson times.  It’s of one of many things we need to sort now that I am back at work.

Today was my first day going through the strength training program from the rehabilitative specialist.  It went really well, except that it highlighted that after almost 2 years of no strength training I have lost more than half of my strength.  I am struggling to do a minimum in exercises I had no problem maximizing with high weights before.  I hope once I get into a regular consistent rhythm I will be able to build back up steadily.  I did get a little bit of running in today too–and that probably felt the best out of all that I did today.

I had a hectic day at work, and that was followed by going to the studio to try and work through a new program of exercises.  The verdict? I under-estimated a lot the effect of the strength training on my endurance and strength for dance practice and over-estimated how much I could do at dance.  Not one to give up, I pushed myself to my full limits, and unfortunately a bit beyond.  I probably should have stopped sooner than I did, but I needed to figure out what was reasonable–and definitely I have a better idea.

When I finished, I was proud of what I did, but I was so tired I found myself crying as I wrote in my ‘Book of Positives’.  That just confirmed that definitely–I have done too much today.  So it will be an early night and a full day of recovering from the work I did today before starting over (with much less expectations) on Wednesday to try to find the ‘sweet spot’ that is a balance between building strength and endurance without over-doing things.  It’s one thing to feel tired after a workout, but tonight was definitely exhaustion.

I have come to accept that it’s going to take some trial and error, and I need to remember that I didn’t just start full tilt before I got sick–it took more than a year of gradual increases to get where I was, and it’s going to take that again.  Baby steps and a lot of breathing.

I have more than 2 weeks to work things out on my own before Boss will be back and I know the ‘alone time’ will probably do me good. Sometimes just working through things in pieces on my own helps bring them together.  I had 3 great examples this weekend–I was just taking a moment hear and there to try some things and I figured out what I need to do in jive to make the lifts work (Yay!).  In the end, it was actually a little funny.  It was a matter of just making sure I start with my pelvis forward so I can move it back to lift my legs….I felt a little silly when I realized that was what was in my way!

I also had an interesting success this weekend with CBMP (counter-body movement position).  I have been struggling with it mostly because I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Boss said something random when we were working on tango last week and ‘click’ it fell into place this weekend–I need to make sure I keep my left hand back and my upper body facing towards my partner while my lower body moves in the direction we are going.

Which leads to the third and perhaps more significant discovery–I figured out how to move my shoulder blades separately from my core.  This is huge for me because one of the main issues I had in standard was that I always moved everything as one block.  This is great when you are starting out, but makes things like CBMP not work right if your shoulders always stay parallel with your hips.  Sometimes you need to twist them in opposite directions–now I know how to do that–and knowing is half the battle!

It’s amazing the number of things that ‘clicked’ into place just by figuring this out.  My standard position is one, and some movements in paso is another.  Now I just want to try all my standard steps and mark the ones with CBMP so I can make sure I am doing it right.  I also figured out how to stretch from my shoulder blades up without inclining from my lower back.  It’s like discovering a new toy!

So despite the disappointment of not having a lesson, and working myself too hard today, I did have some good positives.  I am eager for Boss to get back from vacation because I feel as though from there the ‘real work’ can really begin.