2.5 weeks

That’s it until we leave for Emerald Ball!

I honestly can’t believe it is coming so close. It still seems like there is so much work to do, and we haven’t really done any run-throughs due to my injury.

So far so good though. The hip is behaving with only a little bit of tweaking here and there – mainly in paso. Thankfully, that is the dance I do the least overall at the comp so hopefully that will bode well.

Today we reviewed a couple of places in foxtrot and waltz to look at some of the line figures and make some small adjustments. Following that, we looked at some spots in the Paso where I have a habit of over-compensating to shape and break my left side.

We ran through it a couple times and on the very last run-through at the very end I got the smallest tweak going into the twists that end the routine. It was fleeting, but enough to put me on edge.

We finished with jive, which honestly is the routine that is concerning me the most. For some reason, I can’t seem to keep the routine in my head and I have yet to get through it without forgetting one major part or another. The biggest issue is I get into my own head getting worried I will miss a part coming up and then end up skipping over the previous section.

I need to mainly get out of my head in jive.

I also keep missing the first turn and ending up facing the wrong way by confusing it with a later turn. There is just a bunch of little pieces in jive that aren’t quite coming together leading me to panic some and then forget what I am doing.

We did try it at full speed today and up until the very end it went well. It then became really obvious that we haven’t really done the end of the routine at full speed as all of a sudden everything both of us were doing got behind. We really just need to go through the entire routine about 10 times without stopping to nail it down.

I have one more lesson this week, and then this weekend Boss and I will run through the routines in the other hall on our own (as most of the others at the practice will be competing at the Canadian Closed Comp in Calgary).

Monday I pick up my new dresses. I haven’t seen them since the last fitting so I am really curious to see what the final result will be – especially since slowing down on activity I have lost almost 10 lbs without trying. I am hoping it won’t have too much of an impact on the fit overall.

Next weekend we should have a full rounds practice with the other competitors so that should set us up nicely for the comp!

A busy 2 weeks ahead!

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It looks good…

Today was almost hip pain free.

I started to feel a dull ache during the last 5 minutes of my lesson, with things feeling tight and tired about 20 minutes before that.

Compared to Monday, its like night and day.

Today in my lesson I didn’t hold much back. I had moments where I could feel myself being tentative because I was expecting what I was doing to cause pain and I was really surprised when it didn’t. Once I got through that first hurdle, doing it the next time was easier.

We even started with open jive and did 2 fairly good run-throughs- one slow and one more medium. We then switched to standard and ran through the silver routines, followed by the silver latin. We ended with the Quickstep and Foxtrot pieces we worked on at the end of Monday’s lesson.

Overall, a much more productive lesson than I have had in quite some time, but I am still being diligent and about icing and heating, physio and massage therapy. There is still 3.5 weeks until the comp and I don’t want to temp fate. I am also not going to be returning to the gym until after, just in case.

Small interesting fact: since I got injured and stopped going to the gym and reduced dance, I have actually lost more than 5 lbs out of the blue, putting me at the lowest I have been since chemo. Interesting that…

I have one more lesson this week on Friday and the weekend will be dance free as the rounds practice is cancelled due to a concert in the hall where it takes place. The weekend off will likely be good in the long run.

The plan is to review some of the latin styling on Friday and then do as much of a run-through as we can in the smaller hall on Monday to see how things feel. Hopefully my hip will continue to recover.

Looks like the competition is on! Words cannot express the relief I felt today throughout my lesson as I realized that I wasn’t getting pain like I was. I am feeling much more optimistic even though I am a little more sore tonight than I was after my lesson. I’ll do another round of ice and heat before bed and continue on with my routine.

Fingers still crossed.

A Glimmer…

Of hope. But so far only a glimmer.

I got the shot blindly on Friday and from there I spent the weekend sitting on my left side doing pretty much nothing. I noticed a little bit of an increase in range of motion, but not much else.

This morning there was a definite improvement. I could walk without pain on every step, I could do back breaks without pain and many of the things that were causing huge issues last week.

I still had some pain at the extremes of movements and it was up and down throughout the day. I am still icing alternating with heat regularly and taking ibuprofen.

I had the doctor’s blessing to try dancing again today, so I did, although nothing full out and fairly slow. I tried some of the steps that gave me definite grief last week (jive swivels being one for sure) and I wasn’t getting any pain.

We started the lesson going slowly through the jive and working on the styling. I would get a very minor ‘zing’ every now and then, but for the most part things were pretty steady. About halfway through my lesson I started to get some aching on my right side, but no pulling or zinging.

After the jive, we switched to quickstep to review the steps of the last line that we started reviewing last week. Switching seemed to be a good idea, although I was still getting some aching through my left side, especially on the heel turns.

We finished with the foxtrot to go over the final piece of the routine to clarify the loop back to the beginning.

I am sore and probably where I was the day this started 2 weeks ago. Needless to say, I didn’t stay to practice and as soon as I got home I put ice on it, followed by a hot epsom salt bath.

I will ice and alternate with heat more as the evening goes on. Hopefully the injection will keep working to counter some of the inflammation from my lesson. I have physio tomorrow and massage therapy again on Wednesday. The plan for tomorrow is a lot of rest. Hopefully physio can offer some stretches or exercises to help keep things getting better.

I still haven’t completely decided whether to compete or not. I want to give the injection longer to work and see how the effects last this week. The decision will be made after rounds practice on Sunday. If I can do it and things are ok, then I should be good.

But if I get to rounds practice and I can’t get through it, then it is time to cancel competing.

But at least for now there is a glimmer of hope.

It’s been one of THOSE weeks…

Ever feel like the universe is telling you stay in bed?

Even refuse to listen and then regret it later?

That was what my week was like. Just one comedy of errors after the other.

It started with waking up on Monday and not feeling the greatest due to sinuses and an upset stomach. Despite that and my bed calling me strongly, I still resolved to go to work and to do my regular workout. That ended in a black eye (mentioned in my last post) followed by returning to my office and spilling m

y water bottle all over the office floor.

My team sent me home after that. Good people, my team.

At dance, things were going good, although I had a bit of a headache and my eye was bothering me a little when suddenly first my hip flexor started feeling tight, then later during my practice I was getting a full on pulling sensation while doing latin. I had to end my practice early when it started to get really painful and impact really bothered it.

Tuesday I woke up with a killer headache and decided to give in and went back to bed. I was surprised I slept until 1030 (really late for me!) and almost missed my physio appointment at 11. I made it and told my physio about my hip issues. He had 2 minds about it and decided to treat my back in case it was referred pain, and told me if it didn’t get better, next time he would treat my hip more.

It only got marginally better.

Wednesday and Thursday at work was quite literally one bizarre happening after the other that had to be dealt with. The kind of stuff you just can’t really make up.

Wednesday night at dance, my hip was doing a little bit better until we switched to paso and again it flared up tight and painful. We had to stop what we were doing for a while so it could calm down and Boss recommended I consider doing weekly massage therapy appointments till the comp to try and help my body recover from the volume of work we are doing right now. I was reluctant because I have to pay for it completely out of pocket, but in the end I did decide it was a good idea.

Friday was my first appointment and honestly before it I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do my lesson that night. It was a good appointment though and he was able to release a lot of the tight muscles in my hip which felt 100% better, so I did my lesson. It went well until almost the end when it flared up during Paso again. It seems to be in my hip flexors and flares some when I move my pelvis forward in Paso.

Saturday (was it only yesterday??!!) I had another dress fitting on the mainland. I had completely forgotten that it is the end of spring break, so I wasn’t able to reserve a spot on the ferry meaning I had to sail stand-by. In order to make sure I made my appointment, I had to leave home 90 minutes earlier than I would with a reservation, and I still came close to not being on the boat.

My appointment went really well though and I can see the dresses really coming together now. I will pick them up over Easter and can’t wait!

On the way home, thankfully some one was smiling and I was the second-last car to make the sailing I wanted without having to wait another hour.

Today was our first run through practice with the other couples.

My hip felt tight but not sore, so I was only minimally worries about it, but for some reason I just couldn’t get my core to engage or to lock my frame together for standard. It took a couple rounds before I was able to pull things together and I am not really sure why it was such an issue.

We are definitely not used to sharing the floor, so the practices are good to do. It took a little bit for me to get back into following when we had to adjust and the only dance that was a real problem was the silver quickstep because once we deviated from the routine I couldn’t seem to pick it back up again.

That said, the practice went better than I expected. The open latin went really well and finally I started to see them all come together.

Except for one issue. We were doing the jive and it was going well until I went to engage my core to pull myself out of a leaned back position to upright and I got a shooting pain through my hip. That pretty much sidelined us for a bit and when we went to the final round I had to take it a little easier and skipped some of the steps that had a lot of turns or twisting.

I am still not quite sure what is going on with my hip – whether its my back or the hip or both. I am off work tomorrow (I took a vacation day knowing I would be in Vancouver again) and have physio so hopefully that will help. I am going to take a week off the gym to try and rest some. After this week I will also have physio twice a week instead of once to try and get ahead of things before the competition.

So that was my crazy week – truly a week where you just have to laugh at the craziness, take it with a grain of salt and know that it can only get better next week.

Onward and upwards.

Off and Running

Well, not running, but dancing.

Yesterday I had an extra lesson with Boss in a bigger hall so we could concentrate on our open standard routines.

It was a great lesson and one I really needed.

We really didn’t stop during the lesson. We were able to run through the Waltz, Tango and Foxtrot routines, as well as the silver Foxtrot (which needed some adjustments for the bigger hall).

It was a lot of starting and stopping to begin with, but slowly we were able to work through all 3 routines and we did most of them twice through without stopping during the lesson.

By the end of the lesson, I really felt like jelly. We ended by going through the Waltz which we started with and while we got through it, it was a struggle almost from the beginning of that dance to keep things together.

The best thing about yesterday’s lesson is that I felt like for the first time in a long time that I was able to start incorporating all the details we have been working on during all my lessons into the full routines. It was only a beginning it was it was like an on-going session of things clicking into place.

Essentially, the intent from now until the competition is to do more of the same – regularly running through the routines where we can. Its going to be intense, but I am looking forward to it overall. Feeling things click together in my brain and coming out as we dance is a good feeling. Its not perfect, but at least there is something happening.

For myself, I found that focusing on one or two things per dance and seeing how much I could incorporate them really helped to keep me grounded throughout the lesson.

We didn’t have time to get to the Quickstep, so that will probably be first on the list for the next lesson. We have done Quickstep in that hall before so I am not as anxious about it as I have been. I still need to review it, but I know I can do it, so that is a good start.

On Friday night, we were able to sit down briefly and go over the plan until the competition and get on the same page. We weren’t far off, we just needed to clarify some lesson schedule and the intent with the lessons overall.

Boss also asked me to flag any pieces I want to review and go over, so I am giving some thought to that today.

One thing I will say is that I am definitely still adjusting to having school done. I am not used to having so much free time! I am using it to review my routines and get them into my brain and my legs, and enjoying the time to focus on dance. Its really been a long time since I have been able to do that.

I was also able to do the entire lesson yesterday in my competition shoes. Thankfully no blisters, although by the end of the lesson I could feel a little bit of rubbing happening due to the amount my feet were sweating. I actually haven’t worn them since competing in fall 2017. They felt really good though.

I did discover one shoe woe this week. At some point during my lesson with the coach on Wednesday I actually broke one of my practice shoes! I went to wear them at my lesson on Friday and kept feeling a bump under my heel. I took them off and discovered it was one of the screws and that the heel of the shoes was almost completely falling off. I guess its off to the cobblers for me as these are my newest practice shoes that are not yet even a year old. I hope they can fix them!

Competition preparations have started and we have an ambitious plan to get there. All the pieces are coming together slowly, and it will be interesting to see how far the preps can get before we get to the competition floor.

We are off and running.

Scattered Pieces

My back seems to be settled.

That is one piece of good news I am happy to take to the bank. Its still a little sensitive and I have to be careful, but it isn’t impeding me anymore.

We had two snow days this week and that was an issue. Because the gym was closed, I couldn’t get my workouts in, although I did do most of the leg one on Monday at home because it is still a lot of body weight stuff. I don’t have weights heavy enough at home for the upper body one. I did catch up on Wednesday and yesterday, and I did get all 3 lessons in this week.

The lessons this week focused on the open foxtrot and open jive, with a smattering of the quickstep to finish it up.

The quickstep was more of a review to get us through to the end of the routine, but the foxtrot was going over the latter half of the routine in detail, which was a good refresher at the same time. I am finding myself being less rigid with my body and allowing myself to reach the limits of my own sway instead of only doing what Boss leads. The quickstep on Monday was a little hard on my back, so I didn’t stay to practice as it was borderline between sore and really angry and I didn’t want to push it.

The jive was another story. There was a lot of review needed for the routine and I initially felt like I had forgotten everything. There are a lot of similar transitions that have really small variations I kept messing up. Once we got through each section a couple times, we were able to sort out the details where I am messing myself up and by the end of Wednesday we were able to run it almost all the way through with only a couple pitfalls here and there to slow music.

We picked it up again today and it was stronger and more together on my part and we were able to do quite a few full run through with slower music. That said, I can’t even begin to imagine doing it even close to full speed at this point – although to be fair, we haven’t even tried mid-speed yet.

What is driving me a bit crazy is that I am still getting hung up in the same two or three places and can’t seem to get them corrected. Its like a new vendetta for me – fix the jive. I also feel generally sloppy and scattered throughout like I am just getting lucky to get through it and the technique is pretty non-existent. I know I feel behind a lot and Boss has commented that I am not using my body, which I have to agree with. I think I am still too focused on the steps and anxious about the speed.

We have about 2 and a half months until the comp and while it seems like a long time, I know it is going to go really quickly. I can feel myself starting to panic a little that we haven’t even tried to go through any of the routines in time with the music for open and the last time we tried to run the silver routines Boss made changes in almost all of them.

I am really worried about my stamina overall, but more so that they just won’t come together in time. I feel like all the routines are in scattered pieces which is really not like me.

I know Boss has a plan and that he tells me he will be ready to share it with me next week. I am looking forward to seeing it on the one hand as I am sure it will help ease my creeping anxiety, but on the other I am a little worried because I know plans are great only until first contact. What if something doesn’t go as planned?

I think I would feel better if I felt the silver routines were more solid overall and that we can run through them without missing steps. There has been an intent to do that, but it has just never happened. I want to focus on the open routines, but I feel like I need time on the silver to be able to do that.

I have one week until I am away for a week on vacation. I am soooooo looking forward to it as among other things, I need the break and time away from work which has been really intense lately. School is so close to being done but there is a lot that is left to do in our final 3 weeks. 3 WEEKS!

I know the break will do me good, but I would like to feel a little less scattered on the dance front before I start vacation.

Just need to pull the pieces together.

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.

A Routine Test

At least an informal one.

It was a bit of a surprise when I arrived at my lesson today that Boss told me he wanted to see me walk through the steps of all the standard routines and the samba and rumba by myself.

I hadn’t reviewed them, except for samba, in some time, so I was surprised and felt a little unprepared. I also was not feeling well and exhausted from work.

Despite that, I was actually surprised by how well it went. There was at least one spot in each routine I was not clear on (but I knew that and exactly where they were), but the work I had been doing in memorizing the steps in the routines showed and for the most part I was able to move through them from top to bottom without any major mishaps.

After we finished running through all the routines Boss wanted to see, we went over a couple of the spots where things were not clear to try to clarify them in the tango. We were able to sort out another sequence for me to work through on my own during my solo practice.

Wednesday Boss told me he hopes to run through each of the latin routines to slow music. I am a little nervous about it, but I know we have already run through most of the jive, rumba and samba. We have also do large pieces of the paso. It’s really the cha cha I am not sure of.

Regardless of that, I am looking forward to seeing how it goes. Perhaps there are some surprises waiting.

Yet another test of routines.

Sway

And so it begins.

In all honesty, I have been secretly hoping that somehow I could just work through standard without having to actually figure out sway.

The problem is actually not with sway itself, I do do it, but it is more with the way to which is it referred in dance — namely ‘left’ and ‘right’.

I am really directionally challenged. Even natural and reverse turns I can’t really associate with the directions they turn. I know one goes one way, and the other goes the other way. One starts with one foot going back and the other starts with the other foot.

It’s just not how my mind works to think of turns. It’s one of the reasons I have so much trouble leaning visually. I can’t seem to translate what I see to what I need to do. Looking in the mirror is even worse.

So today in my lesson we were going through one of the exercises I am doing for standard which we call a continuous hover cross (no idea what others call it). I have been able to work through the footwork and rotations, so today Boss asked me to start adding in the sway.

And so the trouble started.

He showed me what sway I need and where it changes telling me it starts with right sway then changes to left (or vice versa, already can’t remember). What sticks with me is that it starts with my left side up (meaning the elbow I am looking at in closed position), followed by a switch.

I am not quite sure that is what Boss meant. There is some sort of rotation needed for sway, apparently from my knees, but I also know my top line tilts one way or the other. The change of the top line is what I can easily understand and see.

Boss could see my confusion and I couldn’t really explain to him while working through that step what I need to understand and make it work so I can focus on it.

But perhaps I need just some basics to get my mind working to figure out how I can refer to the sway positions that I can then relate to my body position.

The other problem is that I am not even sure how many sway positions there are. Somehow I think there are more than 2.

Somehow, I am going to need to sort this out.