Posture changes

Yes, a dance post!

Thank you for your patience as I have been trying to navigate the on-going recovery and legacy from the cancer.

Just prior to everything falling apart, I had a coaching lesson with a female coach that focused on latin–specifically rumba.  Within that lesson, one of the things she emphasized was that I tend to be ‘back weighted’ and lead from my centre core with it sticking out.

Last week, I was going through exercises with the rehab specialist and she made a similar observation–that I have a tendency to stand with my upper body pulled back so that my shoulders are almost hyper-extended back, and I am not engaging my centre core muscles.

Simply put, I have a habit of standing with my shoulders over my butt, instead of lined up over my hips.  It’s a subtle difference, but it requires a lot of work and discipline to change.

It’s more than standing with my shoulders forward.  It’s bringing them forward while pulling my centre core (the area between the belly button and chest) back by engaging it.  This moves the weight of my upper body from sitting on top of the back of my heels to more centred over the foot.

If you want to try the difference–stand and think of pulling your shoulders back and down and allowing your centre core to move forward.  Then, engage your core and pull it back and see the difference it makes in your shoulder position.

For the ladies, by moving the shoulders over the hips, it moves the chest (and those parts protruding from it) in front of the body.

I may have developed this way of standing after my surgery.  So much changed in the composition of my body, I likely developed ways to compensate.  It’s been an interesting revelation.  That said, I really don’t know for sure if this is new or not.

One of my first lessons back was focused on working to make this change and incorporate it into my latin dancing.  We took one step from my rumba routine and worked on doing it with this change in posture.  My entire balance is different.  I also have to remember how to breathe while my core is engaged, and I have to work to not over engage my glutes to allow for hip movement.

It’s going to take time, but it’s not the first time I have worked to change my posture.  It takes a lot of discipline, but it also takes consistency outside of dance.  So, whenever I move or stand, where ever I am, I constantly check myself–is my core engaged? Is my chest forward?  Are my glutes back and relaxed?

Essentially, I am working to develop a new habit and with it new muscle memory.  Habit take almost 3 weeks to develop, and I know this is going to take a lot of persistence to get there.  I hope to be at a point where it is well ingrained before my next surgery, as I think dance advantages aside, it will help with strengthening my core and recovery.

The interesting thing is that it is a position which makes me much more aware not only of my core muscles, but also of the muscles in my back and shoulders.  They are stretching forward when I make this adjustment and that is a new sensation for me.

Applying it universally through dance is going to be the biggest challenge.  On top of how I stand normally, one of the challenges of this is to not be constantly on my toes (essentially meaning that my upper body is too far forward and likely my hips as well).  When you add heels to the mix…well, I guess we will see.  Already I have remembered that one of the biggest difference between 2 inch and 2.5 inch heels is how my posture shifts with the height difference.  To help work the two pieces together, I am going to start wearing my 2.5 inch practice shoes during the latin technique group class I attend.

Another change I am trying to make that I am less optimistic about is working to turn my right knee and foot in straight in standard, as opposed to their natural inclination to turn out.  This shows a lot in tango–especially when I bring my feet together.  More often than not, my heels are together, but my toes are not, with my right toes turned out.

I will talk more on that next time.  For now, it’s all posture, all the time.

Good to be back.

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Trying to relax

There are many dimensions to that statement for me.

First, I just feel over-stressed today and I can’t really figure out why.  It seems like I have been telling myself to just ‘calm down’ most of the day.  I am feeling better than I have, but I am still quite tired.  I am hopeful the weekend will allow me to rest.

But what I really want to talk about is how this relates to dance.  As I mentioned yesterday, during my lesson even though I was feeling scattered and unfocused there were some significant ‘light bulbs’ that seemed to come on that I wanted to reflect on.  The result of that reflection is a general realization that I need to give myself permission to relax when I dance.

That probably sounds a little strange, but I will try my best to explain–and perhaps I will clear some of the clouds surrounding it in my head too.

First, in standard.  A couple of different comments have come together to make sense of this.  The first was a comment from a coach that I have a tendency to ‘raise my arms too high’.  Among other things, I didn’t think that was really possible, so it took a little bit of thinking and adjusting to figure out what that meant.  The second was one from Boss yesterday that I tend to pull him after turns because I turn my entire body as a block from hip to shoulders (or something similar to this–it was a bit of a half-formed verbalization of something he realized).

Regardless, it led me to making some adjustments to my frame, the first of which was letting the level of my arms come down a little.  The result of this is that instead of having strong rigid tension through my back and shoulders directed across towards Boss, I was suddenly able to provide resistance up towards him.  It was a slight change, but allowed me to be less rigid through my arms and shoulders and freed up my should blades to allow them move–something that I wasn’t really able to do before.  It’s still engaging the same muscles, but it is using them in a slightly different way, and it keeps me from feeling like I have to constantly fight to keep my shoulders down.

This actually led to a conversation with Boss that it is ok to allow my shoulder blades to turn independent of the rest of my body and that in some steps it is actually needed.  The combination of these things actually is leading to a dance position that feels much less tight and rigid and actually easier to control (because I am not completely focused on setting one specific position and then trying to keep my upper body from moving).

I am still concerned I am missing a couple pieces, but I certainly have a little more pieces in place than I did before.

Expanding on that, is a similar issue in latin.  When we were working on rumba yesterday, I was having endless issues with my arms and upper body, to the point where Boss was actually pushing my shoulder down to get me to drop my elbow and relax my arm.  I have a tendency to raise my arms and elbow too high using my triceps instead of my shoulder to do it. Add to that constantly resisting in the wrong direction and it made for a pretty frustrating part of the lesson.

Later in the lesson though, as we were discussing upper body movements in standard I remembered I wanted to ask about one of my arm exercises for latin.  This began a pretty detailed conversation about arm movements and actually resulted in forgetting about my arms (for the most part), and focusing on learning how to just move my upper body from my shoulder blade.  It’s a pretty detailed breakdown of the required movement, but I find that when I use my arms they distract me and usually result in me using the wrong muscles to compensate for a lack of understanding of the correct shoulder movement (and strength).

So the exercise is now about moving one side of my upper body initiating from the shoulder blade, then adding my arms within the limits of that range of motion in a separate movement.  The first thing I noticed when trying this? I can’t raise my arm anywhere near as high as I was even starting it previously.  Again, what I was doing previously was ‘too high’.  We also discovered that I was trying to move my shoulder blade but would stop the movement when I needed to engage movement of my rib cage (because I thought I wasn’t supposed to turn my ribs).  I have no idea how this concept will go, but I am hopeful that it might start to correct issues with my arm styling that have been noted by a couple coaches lately.

Peripherally related to that is the issue I am having with settling my hip in latin.  I either do it too soon or not at all.  The main reason? I find myself fighting ‘settling’ because I am worried I will ‘collapse’ and don’t want to relax into the hip.  Essentially, I am afraid to allow myself to let go.

So the theme for the last week of dance seems to be that for whatever reason, I am getting in my own way by working so hard to try to control my movements that I am not allowing myself to move when I am supposed to (did you follow that?).

No wonder I am wound up and feel tense when I dance.

Reset

And so it begins.

My lesson tonight was good.  We started looking at some steps Boss wants to add to the open routines as well as sequences for me to start doing as exercises.  We also took some time to review the videos from the competition and look at good and bad points.  We seem to agree on the same points and Boss had a few things to add, such as use of my foot in standard, to set the stage for the next few weeks.

Bending my knees when I need to is another issue I need to work on.  My knees are feeling better after the break I have had and I hope they stay that way.  I am not allowed to run for now, so cardio is going to be elliptical for the next little while at least.

One of the things I was able to figure out this week was some new motivation for fitness and my weight.  I developed some new goal ‘rewards’ for myself and they are more enticing than those I had for myself before.  I think this will be a better plan for me and it is similar to what worked for me before but updated.

I also bought a new fitbit today, the updated version of what I had before.  I am already enjoying the updates and hope it will also be effective as the last.

One of the other things I discussed with Boss was some small changes to my dresses, although mainly about adding stoning.  He agrees with what I have suggested, and I hope the dressmaker does too.  We have to start working on the smooth dress too.

Speaking of smooth, hopefully in the next couple weeks we will start working on it again.  I am going to do some extra lessons since I have some ‘banked’ from being away.  In a way, it is like learning 4 solos and that is how I plan to approach them.

I can feel myself starting to build momentum and I am glad for it.  I have some other thoughts but I will save them for a post after my lesson tomorrow.

Until then, happy dancing!

Post Comp

This will probably be the first post of a few as I work through all the usual post comp processes.

First, I was successful in achieving my goal of getting through all my dances.  It was close though.  I was coughing so hard after my solo I considered scratching the 5-dance.  Thankfully, with a lot of water, cough drops, decongestants and ibuprofen my lungs settled down and I was able to do the full scholarship without coughing, completing my goal.

My solo was hands down the high point of the day.  I felt good and relaxed going into it and it just clicked together.  It was one of those moments where the audience disappears and I was able to just enjoy the moment and performance.  Really strong comments from almost all the judges, and many people from the audience came up to me after to say how much they enjoyed it. My shining moment from the competition.  I posted the video on the Breast Cancer Ballroom Dancer facebook page if you would like to see it.

Next to the solo, it was probably the 5-dance scholarship that went the best.  Whether it was because I felt no pressure, or I was just determined to get it done, things seemed to click together a little bit for it.  That’s not to say it wasn’t hard.  I messed up the quickstep pretty good and almost tripped Boss, but I pulled it back together and was able to finish strong.

I got all of the routines on the floor .  They weren’t without mishaps, and watching the videos they are obviously new routines that still need some of the bugs worked out.  But what was good was that we were able to sort through and figure out what spots we should look at adjusting going forward, because they just don’t quite seem to work the way they were expected to.There is lots to work on before my next competition.

My placings were not great.  I was last in all of my contested heats except one.  It’s a little strange because while I didn’t expect to do well, I didn’t expect to be last either.  It’s been more than a year since I last competed and so much has changed, so I guess I really didn’t know what to expect, especially with new routines in a fairly new level for me (open silver). I am trying not to focus on it too much, but I do have to acknowledge to myself that I am disappointed with how I placed, but mostly because I am also disappointed with how I looked while dancing.

I know that I was giving my all and trying to pull everything together but I was finding myself a little distracted and unfocused.  I am sure the illness contributed to everything but in the end I felt heavy and slow.  When I see the videos, I see that reflected.  There is just some ‘oomph’ missing that I usually see in my dancing, and my dancing lacked the polish I usually like to bring to the floor.

I am also having a hard time reconciling how my body looks now.  If I had to choose a word, I would say ‘square’.  For whatever reason, I have lost a lot of the curviness I used to have before my surgery. My waist just seems to be lacking definition, so from my ribs to my hips I am almost the same size.  I am trying not to let it bother me, but clearly it does.  I only hope that as I lose more weight, things will distribute better and my curves will come back.

One thing I can definitely say is that this competition has given me the bit of the kick in the behind I have been needing.  I have been struggling to find some really strong motivation lately to keep me focused and zoned in.  Placing as I did at this competition and seeing the videos of my dancing seems to have done that.  I have a better idea of what I would like to see and do with my dancing for now, and that is probably the best thing about any competition.

I want to focus in on silver and open silver for a while, and I want to plan to do a large competition later next year to sort of finish it out.  Not sure if that completely ‘jives’ with what Boss is thinking, but I guess I will see.  He and I are going to sit down and go over things next week before I head overseas for work.

That is really my next project.  I leave on Thursday for 10 days overseas for work.  I am going somewhere I have never been before and I am nervous and excited at the same time.  I have 2 days to get everything together, but it also means a bit of an imposed break from dance.  I am thinking at this point a bit of a break and time for reflection might be a good thing.

Stamina and conditioning are two words I know will be centre of focus over the next little while.  Not just for dance, but in general.  I feel heavy and slow in all that I do and I am getting tired of it.  My stamina is affecting my ability to really do all I want to do and I want to work past it.  I keep reaching a ledge right now where I go from ‘ok’ to ‘limp noodle’ like a flip of a switch.  Part of it is still recovering from all my treatments (2 years is what the doctors say I should expect to struggle with fatigue, etc.), but part of it is so much time spent being unable to work at the level I was.  I see lots of hard work on cardio and endurance in the future.

Well, I will have to put this cold to be now.  I have an interview with The Dancing Housewife tomorrow, so I want to be on the ball for that.

I am sure I will have more to say in the next few days 🙂

Thank you all for your support as I prepared to get back on the floor for this competition!  I don’t usually post photos to the blog, but I will make an exception this time and roll back the curtain.  This is a photo of Boss and I being ‘very serious’ after the standard scholarship.  Love my new dresses from Spirals Designs!

ever-so-serious

Pre-comp struggles

Last night’s practice did not go well.

We were working on doing 5 dances in a row, like the 5-dance scholarship I will do on Saturday, and I wasn’t able to make it all the way through to the end of the Quickstep without my legs giving out on me.  I almost made it, but not quite.

That leaves me very worried for Saturday night.

There a few reasons to consider that may have contributed to the struggle–I am STILL fighting this cold, the practice was right before supper and I was very hungry, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep Tuesday night.  I was also having some belly nerve regeneration pain.

It was very disheartening and it continues to be.  The cold is still holding on strong, and is almost worse.  I am upping my carb intake to try and give myself more energy and I am trying to get some quality sleep.  I am hoping the nerve pain will pass soon, but right now any abdominal compressions or bending forward seems to cause pain.

I think I am feeling disappointed right now because prior to this week I was really looking forward to finally once again doing a competition without being sick or injured.  Doing a competition at ‘full steam’.  It looks very likely at this point that it will be the next competition before that will happen.  My goal for this competition has migrated from putting the routines on the floor to just getting through all the dances without having to stop.  Boss even suggested perhaps standing out the Viennese Waltz for my scholarship, but I hope it does not come to that.

I have a lesson tonight, my last before the competition.  I know we will be going over the solo quite a few times, and I am sure we will also go through the other routines as well. I just hope to get through the lesson today and hope it goes better than yesterday.

On a plus note, my dresses are almost ready and yesterday I had my final fitting.  They look absolutely amazing!  I will pick them up tomorrow before we leave, and I can’t wait to get them on the floor!

Bed head hair

Yep, I asked Boss how he wanted my hair for the competition and his response was that his favourite was how my hair was today.  After being sick for 3 days and not brushing it–THAT is his preference (except he wants it to not move).

So apparently to prepare for this comp I only need to roll out of bed and into make-up.  Well maybe not quite that simple but I am glad I don’t have to try to control it.  It is pretty unruly and curly right now.  I figure some texturizing cream, my ‘glued’ gel and ‘freezing’ hairspray and I should be all good to go.

I am still not feeling better.   Today the cold seems to have moved to my ears so it was making me dizzy and hard of hearing.  I did make it to my lesson today, but Boss knew I wasn’t too well so he kept things simple.

We went through all of the routines except the solo in ‘easy’ mode and slow tempos and reviewed a few of the points from my last lesson.  We just focused on specific steps in a couple of the routines that are in good shape and made some small adjustments that were needed in paso and samba.

I made it through everything although Quickstep made my head spin at the end of my lesson.  I even felt better after my lesson, which I see as a good sign.  Hopefully some decongestants tonight will clear out my ears and all will be well.

The plan right now is to do a 30 min run through of all routines on Wednesday, followed by a final lesson on Thursday.  That is flexible depending on how I am feeling.  The one thing that does concern me a little is that I will be doing a 5-dance event in Standard on Saturday night and I haven’t yet made it through all 5 dances without having to stop.  I hope to rectify that on Wednesday or Thursday.

My dressmaker sent me a ‘preview’ photo of the stoning for my standard dress and I am really amazed at how it looks!  I can’t wait to see the full dress and the latin dress as well.  They should be ready Wednesday.  Both dresses are very different from my previous dresses so I can’t wait to debut them at the competition!

Fingers are crossed that I continue feeling better and the rest of the week goes as planned!

Pre-competition Disorder

It’s coming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Competitive Practice

Well, I made it through.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comp Preparation

3 more weeks until the competition–Yikes!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happiness is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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