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.

Last post til Christmas…

This will be my last post for a while.

I am heading out for work and I won’t be back until almost Christmas. It should be a great experience and I am looking forward to it. I leave Sunday night, but it does feel like there is still a lot to do and that needs to happen before then. Part of me is still doubting I will really leave; I feel like something in the universe will interfere and I can’t get that feeling to go away. Perhaps it will when I get on the plane.

My lessons last week were really good. We went through my questions about my exercises and then focused on the jive because Boss really wants me to work on improving my technique while I am away, especially as it is something I can do in minimal space on the ship.

It makes great sense to me and its an area where I can really make small changes that make a big difference overall. The other area I can focus on a lot is samba and we have a great exercise we do in the group class that will be great and easy to work on during my time away as well.

It occurred to me during my lessons that what I need is to really nail down those areas I want to (and can reasonably) improve while I am away and let that be my focus that drives me. Once I started thinking that way everything began to come clearer for me.

I’ll be doing a lot of exercises and not focusing as much on the routines because in the end there isn’t a lot of room for that, and the floor surfaces are really not meant for turning and spinning. That seems reasonable to me and manages my own expectation.

Boss and Lady Boss also offered to evaluate and provide direction on any videos I send them of my exercises, so I will probably take them up on that, if internet connectivity allow it. With some low res videos I might be able to email them back.

Overall I am excited and looking forward to the deployment for the experience it will give me, not only for work but personally – it will be a great experience! In the end though, like anything it is one step at a time, one day at a time. There will be ups and downs, but I’ll keep positive as I always do and take it as it comes.

If I have a chance to write, while I am away I will, but I don’t want to make any promises.

So therefore, so long for now, see you at Christmas.

 

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!

Running

I am not built to be a runner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One foot in front of the other.

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

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

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

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

Then on Monday I will be out running again.

Finishing touches

I spent a big part of my lesson learning how to bow today.

It seems so simple. Don’t we all learn it as a kid? Well, apparently not dancesport style.

As we get closer to the performance on Saturday it is time to sort out these little details. The routines we are doing are meant for competition, but this is going to be a bit of a show.

Among other things, we had to figure out what to do for an opening and closing. We kept it simple in the end, but I think it will work. As I said, the trickiest part was sorting out how to make the bow works.

Other than that the main focus was on running through the routines and cleaning up a few areas that needed a little more work.

One of the things we had to do was sort out how I was responding to the lead in a few places. Especially when the lead is on my right side, I have a tendency to lock up and restrict my movement, which then makes is really difficult for Boss to lead me through steps, especially if I have to turn anywhere.

It took some experimenting, but in the end what worked was just relaxing in some spots and letting my arm go, and in others moving to the step when I felt the lead. It will work for now, and I am sure there are other spots we need to work out.

The routines are not going to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they will still look good and be passable. Considering this is the first time we will dance them, I feel pretty good about where they are right now.

I think Boss is pretty happy with them too. He was saying today that on Wednesday he plans to do some work on the other routines as we want to record them before I head to Ottawa at the beginning of the month.

The next two weeks are going to be pretty crazy, but I am just taking it one day at a time and looking forward to the performance this weekend.

Until then, its the finishing touches to build on the foundation we have.

Preparing to perform

So it appears we will be performing in two weeks.

We are focusing on latin and we will do the cha cha routine for sure, but we are also working on the rumba and will probably do that as well.

It’s a showcase for another local studio that Boss’s studio has been invited to participate in. It presented an opportunity for us to perform just before I leave for the rest of the fall, and gives us a goal for getting two routines ready to perform.

It just makes sense, especially since other than a really brief and quick demonstration back in July we haven’t done any competing or performing since last October.

Both routines are actually not in bad shape right now.

The cha cha we are able to get through in time with slow music and the medium music has only a couple of bumps but doesn’t completely fall apart. Since the last time we ran it in full, we have worked out almost all of the bumps, and most of the styling. In the end, the routine has only two major spots where arm styling is a concern and I have been working on them pretty hard.

The big thing we have been focusing on in the cha cha is the lead and follow as that is key to getting the turns on time and executing quite a few of the steps. It’s actually pretty together right now, but needs some polishing and running through a few more times to hopefully lock it down.

I have actually really enjoyed the concentrated focus on the cha cha routine to pull it together and it confirms for me that agreeing to do the performance has been the right thing to do to move some of the routines to the next level before I leave.

We started digging into the rumba on Monday. It’s actually also not in a bad place, but it also has a few bumps to iron out and we really need to go over the styling in detail. We ironed out one of the biggest bumps in the middle of the routine yesterday, taking the whole lesson, but it was time well spent as we were able to go through that section in time with the music several times.

The key to the rumba right now seems to be the timing. Its tricky because it varies quite a bit and there are holds and pauses for development – some of which are one bar, some are two. The trick is remembering how long to develop at what part.

The styling will also be tricky, especially some of the transitional pieces. I already accidentally clobbered Boss in the face yesterday in a combination of not getting my arm high enough and him having his head a little forward. Some of the hold changes are also tricky.

One of my biggest concerns about the styling is that I am not very good at developing some of the lines and some of them need a lot of very specific movements I just can’t seem to make work for me. One of the key parts of the routine has me do a double turn to roll-out into a side lunge stretching away from Boss. When I hit the lunge, I need to make sure I have reconnected with Boss after turning on my own and after I stretch away I am supposed to melt.

I don’t melt very well. I really think we need to considering another way of styling that step, whether it is to stretch it a little longer and then turn in for the transition which is to a pivot to a lunge done together. I hope it is something we look at a bit closer very soon. I know I can do a good stretch because we have done one in a previous showcase routine.

For both routines, it really is about polishing right now, minus a couple of timing and step bumps to work out. For the cha cha, I need to make sure I add more power and speed to my turns, and the rumba is about the timing and not rushing. I don’t feel relaxed about performing, but I am not feeling overly stressed about either routine not being ready.

At least not yet. We will see how I feel in a couple weeks.

The focus on latin and the details has really been interesting over the last week. I’ve really enjoyed what we have been doing and actually been surprised at how things have come together. I feel really good about the work we have done and while I know neither routine will go perfectly, I am starting to look forward to performing. I have missed it more than I realized.

More prep to go.

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.