Distributing my energy

As I get closer to surgery, the harder things seem to be.

I was a little under the weather for two weeks, but even as that has past, I still find myself with minimal energy that I am having to distribute as best I can over all my usual activities.  Last week, most of it went to work (major event happened), but this week I am hoping to put more to dance.  I only did my private lessons last week, that was it as far as dance.  I used my practice time to write out routines and clarify timing, but not doing any actual dancing.

That said, we now have a nonfecta (is that word??) of gold routines.  Finished up the last one tonight. Boss told me he would like to record them all this Friday.  It will be a rough recording, but he thinks we can get through them all together without any major disasters (he is so optimistic!!).

He is hoping to turn the attention to the mambo showcase routine we were working on before focusing on the test, so it should be interesting to return to it.  The plan is still for me to work out choreography for a waltz showcase and I do have some ideas for that percolating a lot in my head.

I really hope I have the energy to get through the next two weeks.  It is a long weekend, so I am hoping that will help. I am wondering if this is all cumulative of the fatigue of the hormone therapy.  I never seem to get caught up on my sleep and to feel rested, so I can see where my ‘tank’ is gradually getting lower and lower and never filling up.

In many ways, I am looking forward to surgery as recovering I might start feeling rested again, and it may end up putting hormone therapy to bed for good. It will still be close to September before that decision can be made.

In the meantime, I am just trying to conserve my energy where I can and use it on the activities I enjoy.  Pre-surgery appointment tomorrow.

Slowly checking all the boxes to prepare.

Mosre dance later this week 🙂

Foxtrot Vs Waltz

I discovered an interesting thing tonight.

I honestly probably always knew it, but it never struck me so obviously before.  Perhaps it was just the order I was working tonight.

During my own practice, I worked on getting down the sequence of the silver foxtrot routine (which I was able to do–Yay me!).  Following that, I switched to waltz.  What surprised me was discovering that the footwork and movement in the two dances is actually quite different.  The way I discovered it was that in trying to do my waltz routine, I kept falling into doing foxtrot steps.

It occurred to me that foxtrot has much more progressive movements where waltz has more turning.  In foxtrot I frequently need to pass my feet while waltz involves a lot of opening the legs to turn.  It wasn’t until I had to transition between the two that I realized this.  In fact, when I started the waltz, it took me some time to figure out how to do a natural turn and a basic weave.

The other surprise I had for myself tonight was that while working on my own in foxtrot I kept running out of room without even trying.  I seem to be traveling a lot more than I did before, and even more than I do with Boss (although he has a better idea of how to fill the space we have than I do).  I didn’t even realize I was trying to move, but I must have been.

We worked on the shaping in the paso routine today, as well as some other details.  One thing I will say I am really enjoying about preparing this routines are how detailed and ‘by the book’ we are working.  Believe me, it is surprises how many steps in Paso Doble are done on the ball of the foot.  I feel like I am prancing a lot–although that may be the point.

Following the paso we worked on the foxtrot to work through some of the steps I wasn’t too sure of and to run it a few times, so I could practice it later on my own.  One of the things that Boss kept emphasizing was the difference in how I am moving in standard in general (but foxtrot specifically), and how I am supporting myself from my feet and that is allowing my upper body to be more free.  I guess I am not pulling so much and it’s been a profound difference.  I hope the stability sticks.

For my part, I can say that I am noticing two things more than previously–how I am using my feet, and that I am able to and am developing a good habit of keeping my knees flexed as I move which seems to be helping.  I do feel stronger through my feet and legs.  However, when my endurance runs out, it is still a sudden and huge deficit of strength and everything collapses beyond my control.

I really hope I am able to work through it for the test.  We did the paso routine four times in a row today and by the 4th time my legs had turned to jelly and my balance was wavering.  I felt pretty weak.  I was able to rally for the foxtrot, but consistently after one round of the ballroom my strength would start to fail me.

Boss told me that the plan for Friday is to go through all the routines and do rounds.  I am a little nervous about that, but hope it won’t be as bad as I fear.  I am on vacation from work until Monday, so I should be pretty well rested.

One of the nice perks about being on vacation is that I will be able to watch the final two days of Blackpool–the professional events, which I expect will be pretty amazing!  The dancing so far in all events has been spectacular and I really can’t wait for tomorrow and Friday.

At least doing rounds, I don’t have to worry about confusing waltz and foxtrot–waltz always comes first and there is tango in the middle to refresh my mind.

Fingers crossed it all goes well.

9 Routines down…

Well at least written out with timing.

The latin routines are going well and getting into my brain.  I was able to review them some on the weekend and was glad to see things had fit.

We went through the paso routine today, which was the one missing routine, after reviewing the timing in the standard routines and a couple steps which I couldn’t figure out on my own.

I spent my practice working through the standard routines on my own, and got through the waltz, tango and most of the Quickstep.  Foxtrot will be for Wednesday, as it’s a supervised practice, and there are a couple steps I am not sure about and need to take the opportunity to go through them.

I feel good about where the routines are, considering the time left until the test.  It’s actually been pretty interesting for me to go through all the steps on my own because some of the steps, while I have done them and followed them, I have either not really known their names or they are new to me. It’s been a new area to explore.

It’s actually been quite a while since I have worked through memorizing and putting under my feet a sequence of routines.  Especially in standard, going through the timing has been a good exercise for me as I haven’t work through standard routines with timing since before or shortly after I got sick.

I haven’t put them together with the music yet on my own, but that will be some of the goals for the end of this week and early next week, although I am not quite sure how it will go.  I think rumba, samba, paso and jive will be ok.  Cha cha could be iffy.  Waltz and Tango should be ok in standard, Quickstep questionable and foxtrot will be interesting in general.

There may not be enough time to get the routines down on my own as much as I would like to, but the foundation will be there for my test and that is the main thing.  There are some technique things I wish were coming a little stronger (as I previously mentioned about cha cha in particular) and there have been some pleasant surprises.

The way I have been able to focus in and memorize the sequences of the silver routines gives me some good optimism for learning the gold routines.  I am hopeful that once the test is done, we can focus in on finishing the rest of the sequences (currently I have Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Samba), and be able to go through them on my own (so far only the rumba is in my feet).  I hope to have all 9 gold sequences before my surgery, and with some luck to have them videotaped as well so I can refer to them as I am recovering.  Haven’t had a chance to discuss that with Boss yet, but I hope he will be on board.  It’s a conversation for after the test.

Health-wise, I have had a bit of a turn around in the past week.  My energy levels are truly up, and while I have fuzzy-headed moments, they seem less frequent.  The full body aches have dissipated, although I seem to keep ‘tweaking’ my neck. Still not sure why.  I hope this will be the status quo until my surgery, but we will see how it goes.  I am still working some part days during the week, and today was the first time I was able to return to strength training in more than 3 weeks.  As I rebuild my stamina and add more of my usual activities back in, I hope things get better and not worse.

But for now, I have 9 routines to focus on for the next two weeks.

Cha Cha Conundrum

It appears I am focusing on latin lately.

It makes sense as now I have 4 of the 5 latin routines for my test and more so than standard I need to try to get them memorized.  For whatever reason, if I blank in standard I can just resort to following (which sometimes may be better!) but I have a harder time doing this in latin.

Working on the latin routines has been, well, strange.

Of all of them, cha cha is definitely the strangest.

It took me most of practice last night just to work out the timing for the routine with Boss’s help.  There seemed to be a lot of steps I really had no clue how to do on my own, and that is a little concerning.  I went in early tonight to practice some before the latin class because I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay late enough for the class (I did in the end, but I was pretty much a zombie the whole time).  I managed to get through the rumba, minus one step at the beginning, then I focused on cha cha.

One of the most odd things about latin in general, whether rumba, samba, cha cha or Jive is that anything we do in hold seems completely alien to me–like I have never done anything in hold for Latin before.  It’s to the point where I find myself questioning where I am supposed to put my left hand (shoulder, back, bicep?), and I keep stretching my right arm out like for standard (and then constantly reminding myself to drop my elbow–at least I remind myself!). I feel like I am either too close or too far, about to trip Boss or fall over forward.  It’s really bizarre.

And then there is cha cha specifically.  For whatever reason, as I am working on it I can’t seem to incorporate ANY technique I have worked on.  Of course then I remind myself that I can’t really remember the last time I worked on cha cha technique that wasn’t forward lock steps, cuban breaks or time steps–but I can’t seem to put even those into context.  Most of my latin focus lately has been rumba (for the last couple years) or samba (more lately).  Rumba technique has a lot of crossover, but that just isn’t coming into cha cha.

Granted, I really am focusing on working out the sequence of steps right now, but I guess I expected that I should be able to at least do a basic step with some semblance of technique (which isn’t happening right now).  When I try, the best I can describe is that it feels ‘odd’ and like I am trying too hard and off balance.  And that is just the basic step, and other steps feel like there is no hip movement going on and I can’t keep my legs straight.  In short, nothing about cha cha seems to be muscle memory or automatic, but I do vaguely remember a time it was.

I am really confused about this.  I know I can do time steps, whether fast or slow, with no issue on my own, and even with Boss they are not too bad.  But the minute I do a step that is pretty much not lateral side to side (and has forward and back steps), it just gets weird.

I can’t figure out if this the work I am and have done in rumba trying to adapt to cha cha (but not really succeeding with the speed), or if I have really forgotten my cha cha technique. Even New Yorks feel weird and off balance.

It doesn’t bode well for my test, although I probably have higher expectations of myself than Boss does.  At this point though, I feel like the cha cha I do now is actually weaker than the cha cha I was able to do for my bronze test, and it is really uncomfortable to feel.

Samba still has that in/out feeling for technique I have described before, the out being mainly the voltas and some rocks (which are more a I hate how rocks look issue).  I haven’t had a chance to work on it on my own yet, but I am not concerned about it as samba routines seem to come together fairly easily for me.  It will be a project for tomorrow’s practice.

Jive was actually a bit of  a pleasant surprise.  It’s a bit like samba in that the technique comes in and out, but it is more ‘in’ than ‘out’ than I expected.  Practicing it on my own is a bit tricky as in the end the ladies part is a lot of just turning (while the man’s part has hand changes) and without a partner for reference it is hard to know what direction I am supposed to be facing. I still have to work out the timing for it, but that will be the main focus for tomorrow’s practice.  The main thing I need to figure out is where the knee lifts are and making sure I do the rock step on bent knees (which is easier for me than straight as it’s an ingrained habit from my rhythm days that seems to have stuck).  Once I remember that, it came together better.  Endurance still sucks though.

So I am not really sure what to do about my cha cha conundrum.  Really at this point, I don’t think there is much I can do as the test is only two weeks away.  Better to focus on the things I can control, improve, or at least stabilize, rumba, samba and jive, and be prepared for cha cha to be a mini disaster.

Haven’t done the silver Paso yet, but I am hopeful it will be pretty much my old closed silver routine which should come back fairly easy.  I can’t think of any silver steps in Paso that would give me issue, and because it is mostly in hold it is easier to follow than the other latin dances.

I haven’t started working on the standard routines yet, although I have them as I feel latin is where I need to focus–it is more independent than standard.  I have also done a lot of work in standard lately so the steps and techniques are more familiar (and they transfer more through each dance).

I have surprised myself lately with the amount of energy I have had for my own practice–far exceeding what I expected to be able to do.  The side effects from my injection are starting to abate and I even slept through the night last night–first time I can remember in recent history.

So it appears cha cha somewhere went sideways in the last 6 months–literally–side steps seems to be the extent of what I can do.

Latin Let-down

I am not sure why I feel so frustrated with my latin technique tonight.

I do have a theory that perhaps it is just the late hour of the class (8 pm is late for me these days), coupled with an extremely busy week at work (it’s not over yet!). The end result being that I feel like I couldn’t do anything right tonight during the class–even though I know that is not the case.  Its almost like a mini ‘crash’ after the class.

Usually I feel pretty good about my latin technique.  While there are some things I struggle with a lot, there are others that come more naturally and no matter what I do, my hips definitely move. The adjustment I have been making to my posture is becoming more ‘mainstream’ but I have to stay on top of it.  I am at the point where I ask myself if I am forward and discover that yes, I am.

Tonight in general I think I was just having endurance issues.  It’s hard to explain but I felt like everything just lacked in strength compared to how it usually feels, and my body just wasn’t as responsive as usual.  It wasn’t a lack of trying, but it just seemed to be ‘off’.

I think because of that, the things that usually frustrated me just ran a bit rampant.  By the end of the class my frustration level just seemed exceptionally high.

One thing that is just a constant source of frustration for me is jive.  I have mentioned before it is like my latin achilles heel dance, as it is the one dance where on the one hand things work out well naturally, but on the other I really have no idea how I do any of it.  And there there are some things which I have no idea how to do and quite honestly it looks ridiculous when I try.  I think I am getting in my own way by trying so hard I am actually preventing my body from moving in the way it needs to.  That’s said, it feels like everything I am doing in jive is really ‘loosey goosey’, when it should be more tight and compact (because of the speed).

Some time jive just feels like the dance I never work on.  The little bit of technique I have done in jive has been a little ‘here’ and ‘there’ and very spread out.  I have never concentrated on it–even at a basic level.

To be perfectly honest, my frustration and feeling of lacking in jive really makes me reluctant to do it right now.  I feel that compared with the amount of time and work I have spent on the other 4 dances my jive is woefully behind.

I am hoping this is just the result of a long week and fatigue and that it will pass in time.

The other thing that keeps popping in my mind is that I might not have the endurance for my medal test.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of doing 10 dances in a row because its been so long since I have actually done that.  I guess I am not feeling really confident in my strength right now.

I get my injection tomorrow, and I hopeful that with it some of these frustrations will pass.  I am also a bit stressed that I will have some mood swings following the injection as my body gets used to it again.

It’s hard to know what is real and what is just side effects right now.

Confusion of a different nature…

But this one is easier to handle (and dance related!)

After the news I got today I very seriously considered cancelling dance and just going home to bed.  I am glad I decided against that in the end.  Dance helped me feel much better tonight and I even stayed to practice.

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I am working to make a bit of a posture change to bring my shoulders over my hips instead of my butt.  It is coming, but it is still like baby steps.  After more than a week of making the adjustment, my core muscles are pretty much dead–but in a good way.

For latin, I am working to bring my weight more forward than I do in everyday life and pretty much put as much distance between my breasts and my bum as I can without falling over.  It’s almost the new stage of what I am trying to do.  Overall though, it feels more like I am remembering how to do something, rather than doing something completely different, so that’s a good sign.

All this work on latin posture and it is probably no surprise that I am finding some ‘latiness’ creeping into my standard–to the point where during my practice exercises tonight I couldn’t remember what the difference was–although I am pretty sure it has to do with tucking in my pelvis some, and pulling my head up and back.  I found myself shifting my weight back and forth and unsure where exactly my arms should be.

In my lesson tonight, we started by going over my exercises, followed by some discussion with video examples (one of the new changes).  For my exercises, it was good because it gives me some slightly different areas to focus on for most of the exercises and refreshes them a bit.  One thing I have to watch though is that I am not making my standard forward walks into cruzado walks (from samba).  There are a couple other exercises where the two are getting a little confused.

Going over videos was helpful.  It gave me an idea of what to aim for, or rather where we are trying to go for technique, at least in latin, as well as some things to think about as far as styling in latin, which is something we haven’t done a lot of focus on in the past.  I am told to expect more in the future though, so I am curious to see how that comes together.

I find the videos helpful because it gives me a bit of a grounding and basis for what I am trying to execute in my own dancing.  It’s not to say that I am looking to copy, but there are some fundamental things that apply a bit universally, and it is a good starting point.  It helps bring it all together for me and gets my mind processing.

Practice tonight was good, but a little frustrating–not because of the dancing but because of my music.  I switched computers about two weeks ago and had to develop a new itunes playlist for practice.  Tonight was the first time I was using it for exercises and I discovered I forgot to add a cha cha for my lock steps, and the waltz is the wrong one (has a long beginning, which doesn’t work for 1:30 intervals).  Easy to fix, but frustrating tonight as I kept clicking through songs trying to find the cha cha I was sure should be there.

As far as the exercises, with the changes from the lesson they are all a bit of a mess right now, but at the same time some of them feel a little more solid.  As the changes are completely new, I don’t expect them to really have things fall apart until Monday’s practice, but that is all part of how it works.  About 2 weeks of things changing before they settle into something consistent I can build on.

Last night’s latin class was a real challenge.  About 4 pm yesterday I was hit with a wave of exhaustion to the point I thought I would have to cancel my lesson as I suddenly felt weak all over.  I rested some after work and that recovered me a little, but once I got to my lesson the feeling of weakness stayed–my arms felt like lead when I lifted them for standard and my legs refused to move when I wanted them to in latin. I had to stop and rest some in the class and I was feeling really nauseous the entire time.

It was probably a sign from my body that it needed a break, but I did let myself take it easy during the class and rest when things started to fail me.  I did manage to do the entire class in my 2.5 inch practice shoes, which was enough of a challenge in itself.  The change in height of course affected my balance and posture and I couldn’t quite ‘settle’ into everything I was doing.  I take that as a sign that I need to start working more in the higher shoes to build the right strength.

Despite the strange weakness last night, I felt better tonight although the nausea seems determined to hang around.  I am not quite sure why all of a sudden it’s such an issue, but my guess is the usual suspect–hormone fluctuations.

A lot of stuff going round in my head, but at least on the dance front it seems to be positive.  We did the tango and foxtrot sequences in my lesson yesterday and while I am not quite ready to write them out on my own, at least part of them seem to be sticking.  The rumba is the most consistent for me, and other than small hiccups here and there the only step I consistently blank on is the reverse top.  I could be just blocking it out though 🙂 Its a challenging step I don’t quite understand yet.

Next week looks to be less busy at work, so I am hoping that will help overall.  I figure from this point, my body will do either one of two things–it will adapt to the activity level I have built up to, and my energy will increase, or I will just become exhausted and my system will crash again.

Hoping for the first one.