Noticing changes

And good ones.

The first thing I can say is that I feel more motivated than ever these days, but to go along with that I actually have the energy to back it up. That is the biggest change I have noticed recently, and it has trickle down effects.

When I go to work now, I finally feel like I can push my hardest to do what I need to do and I feel like I am reaching my max as I work. It’s been a long while since I felt that. I have also noticed small changes that are significant, like my spins are getting faster and I have a little more control over things.

I also don’t need as much sleep. Instead of needing 8-10 hours a night, I tend to average 6-7 and I don’t feel exhausted during the days. When I get home from dance now I don’t feel like it’s a rush to get to bed.

I seem to finally have the first section of the jive in my head, and it only took reviewing it over 3 lessons. I was able to get through it 3 times during practice today.

In my lesson, we went through a new section for the quickstep, leaving us about 4 full steps from the end, so we should finish it on Friday. Boss also gave me a new sequence from waltz for conditioning, which is certainly more challenging than just change steps. It consists of a fallaway followed by a reverse turn then a natural turn. It requires a lot of thinking to figure out the alignment and with the changing rotations it takes a lot of control.

I was also able to review the tango during practice and it is not too bad, I really need to dig into it a bit more. I was also able to work more on the cha cha which I am slowly putting to music, currently with the tempo reduced by a rate of 6 (no idea what it means, but that’s what my mp3 player says). I hope to be able to work to -5 or -4 by Sunday.

I am working on the same goal with the samba, although it’s a -5 right now. I hope to start on the rumba on Sunday too, although I hope no more than a -3.

I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the routines, although we haven’t started paso or foxtrot yet.

One of the other changes I have seen is a small increase in speed. I don’t feel quite so heavy and slow right now and I can feel my body starting to react and move faster.

Overall, things seem to be looking up. I hope I can maintain the momentum I currently have over the next couple weeks while work intensifies with teaching and some more travel. It’s going to be a challenge, but I feel up for it.

Yet another one of the little changes.

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And then there was jive…

And its going to be interesting.

This week has mostly had a latin focus, with a little bit of tango at the beginning the week to work through some changes to make the phrasing work better.

It’s been a productive week in that we finished off the last pieces of both the samba and cha cha so I can work through the full routines on my own before starting to dig into the jive tonight.

I also had a new exercise added — batacudas in samba — which are needed for the open samba routine. The good news for them is that I have the foundation for them from all the work I have been doing to move my hips and once I work through the mechanics for executing them better they should come along without too much grief.

Getting the last bit of samba and cha cha in my head is proving to be more challenging than I would expect, mostly because my mind keeps trying to over-complicate simple steps (which Boss apparently finds fascinating), but by the end of practice tonight they seemed to both be there. Fingers crossed they stay.

So with 3 of the 5 routines building a steady foundation, it was time to move on to number 4. We had briefly run through the first section of the jive before I left for Europe, but it didn’t stick well and there wasn’t time to reinforce it then. Tonight was a bit of a review, but mostly it was attacking it fresh.

The jive gets complicated because I have a number of similar figures with small variations and I keep mixing up which variation goes when. And that is before even considering the speed, which is going to be a whole other obstacle later. One step at a time.

Already I have found that thinking too much will quickly get me into trouble in jive. I did have some opportunity in my lesson to run through some sections on my own, but I needed to review and work through cha cha and samba at practice so I didn’t get to reinforce it tonight. It will be first on my list for Friday’s practice, and hopefully we will review it again during my lesson tomorrow night (I would be really surprised if we didn’t). I find myself looking forward to Sunday to be able to work through all the routines and really see where they are.

I am finding myself a little more invigorated this week. I think even just the possibility of competing again has breathed some new energy into my dance and motivation and it is showing.

I also can’t discount that my energy levels have steadily been rising overall, and the conditioning does seem to be paying off. My recovery times have been going down steadily to the point where I recover fast enough now it takes me almost 5 minutes less to do the same amount of intervals. I didn’t realize it had been reduced so much and tonight Boss and I agreed to fill a full 15 minutes beginning with Monday’s lessons going forward. It’s going to be an interesting challenge, but I can’t deny that the conditioning is no longer tiring me as much as it used to.

The biggest difference I am finding is that my workouts, practice and lessons are leaving me feeling accomplished instead of exhausted, and that’s been a long time coming. I am still adapting to the changes I am making in my diet, but already I feel stronger and better about eating. In a random exchange, at acupuncture yesterday my practitioner commented that she could see some definite changes in my body. It’s quite possible my body is doing its thing where it gets leaner without really losing weight. Time will tell on that.

I am a little nervous about the challenge of the jive, but I am also excited at it as well. With a little bit of luck, it is possible that we may get all the way through it before I leave for my next work trip on May 6th.

There is still lots to do in standard as we only have the tango in full (provided I can incorporate the recent changes), but both Waltz and Quickstep are ready to be added to, if not finished off.

That really leaves foxtrot and paso, both of which are going to be major challenges, paso more so.

Tomorrow is my first appointment (ever) with a chiropractor to try to figure out and hopefully get some help with my neck. It continues to cause me issues, although they seem to be caused more by my work than by anything physical I do. Acupuncture helps a little for relief, but it is very temporary and the physio exercises don’t seem to be helping so physio actually recommended I be referred to chiro. I have been referred to a chiro sports specialist so that should help, but I really have no idea what to expect. At this point anything would be helpful.

And that’s a summary of how this week is going and my dive into a new routine as I finish those that were works in progress (although they always are works in progress!).

And then there was jive.

It’s all exercises

I was going to call this post something else, but as I worked through my thoughts a different theme emerged.

I can’t really say yesterday was a great lesson. I was pretty exhausted from a crazy week at work so easily getting frustrated, and my lesson was right before a social dance that wasn’t scheduled when the lesson was scheduled so Boss was distracted, people were showing up and things like that.

We focused on going through the exercises, which was needed, but my head wasn’t in the right place to make it an easy exercise for either of us. I had come to the studio earlier to at least do my exercises and try to clear my head from work, but I think work and jet-leg just all caught up with me.

The theme for the review of the exercises was that I need to move my hips more in latin, but also move more in general. I feel like I am moving them a lot (almost too much), but according to Boss I am not moving them much, and I am not applying the movements I do from my exercises to my dancing. OUCH. I know he meant well, but…

That last part hit a nerve I didn’t know was a little raw, but again it could have been the fatigue. I’ll talk about that a little later.

We began working through the exercises and Boss changed two of them, the rocks I do at the gym (now they are on straight legs), and we changed my “cross” exercise to opening out. In my back walks he wants me to work on stepping further back, but honestly I am not really sure how to do that because I already feel I am walking as far back as I can without losing my hip technique.

We might need to revisit the exercises again soon.

We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what is going on in my standard side steps and trying to get me to engage my glute muscles when doing them. It was a bit painful the amount of time it took to figure out how to move my body the way Boss wanted me to while using the right muscles. I still have serious doubts I am doing it right.

The sliding doors we are breaking down some of the movements a little more to sharpen it up. It will be interesting to see how that goes with the music.

It wasn’t that Boss was critical (far from it, he even mentioned that one of the reasons I am not moving enough is because I am controlling my movements so much), but it just seemed like everything we tried to do in the lesson my body refused to cooperate with which led to frustration on my part.

It could be a different ballgame when I go to incorporate the changes on Monday. I did the rocks today at the gym (yes, finally got back to strength training!), but I need to give the new version some time to settle as they are all over the place.

I expect much the same with the other exercises. I just need to take some time to work through them myself and see how they go. I hope we will have time to review them before I leave next in 3 weeks.

We ended the lesson by reviewing the new piece in samba in more detail and with me working through the steps on my own. We didn’t get as far as Boss wanted, but at least what we did do I should be able to continue on my own and add to the first half. For whatever reason, the samba is taking the most time to learn with only quarters of the routine coming together at a time. At least we are about 3/4 now.

Returning to the comment that hit a nerve. I was a little surprised to be sensitive about it, but it hit a nerve because we have been focusing on learning choreography, not technique, and there are very few and rare times in my lesson where I feel like I actually dance. Even less common are times when we fully dance together. I think maybe once we did the rumba before I left for Europe.

In short, I haven’t incorporated the work in the exercises into my routines because I haven’t really found any opportunities to do so. When I practice on my own I do try but I am also finding difficulty finding spots where the exercises apply. They are fairly focused, with two of them on specific steps, one on a specific movement which I don’t have a lot in my routines.

When I am working focused on choreography, remembering the steps tends to be my focus with technique secondary. But that said, I know I try to use my technique, but obviously I am missing a lot of spots where Boss would like to see it.

What doesn’t help is the underlying apathy I have trying to keep myself motivated. It’s not that I don’t have any goals, I just don’t feel any rush to achieve them. There is no timeline for me. As far as I am concerned, I have unlimited time to learn these routines and all the technique that goes with them. So I am taking my time, and perhaps more than Boss is used to me taking or needing to learn and incorporate new things.

I guess in the past 6 months since Boss had to reduce the amount of time he dances I have developed my own plan and pace and have become a bit resigned to things.

Don’t get me wrong though — I do very much enjoy my lessons and the progress we are making on the routines and choreography!

But since there are few opportunities, or even expectations (at least until Boss mentioned it yesterday) to do full out dancing, I guess I lack the incentive to really focus on that part of dancing right now. Anything I do on my own always seems limited compared with what I could do with a partner.

So, I have been focusing on the areas where I guess I feel is my wheelhouse right now: doing my exercises and learning choreography.

I am probably not explaining myself very well. In the end, the comment hit a nerve because I feel like I have been waiting for an opportunity to do exactly what he commented on — finding a time to incorporate the exercises into my routines. And I can’t explain why I feel like I am waiting except to say that I generally feel like everything I am doing right now is an exercise.

THAT is what I have been trying to figure out. Quite honestly, sometimes the reason I write here is to help me figure out what I am thinking.

I haven’t incorporated my exercises into my dancing because I feel like everything I am doing right now is a series of individual exercises. Even the choreography. There hasn’t been any time to stop doing exercises and just dance and see how it all comes together.

That’s what’s missing, and that’s why it hit a nerve.

The other comment about needing to move more, I do understand where he is coming from. It’s a constant battle for me to let go of the control because we spent years working to have me develop it. I feel constantly paranoid that if I let myself move, then it’s going to be too much. I don’t think I understand the difference between what I used to do that we had to correct so much and what he is asking me to do now.

I think he wants me to move more while maintaining the control, but I just don’t really know how and still can’t tell the difference between the right moving more and the uncontrolled moving more.

I wonder if maybe we need to do some run-throughs and take videos to just take a moment to evaluate and see where I am at. For ME to see where I am at and what Boss is talking about. Maybe even my practice needs to be recorded. I just don’t know.

When I practice my latin routines, I feel like I am moving a lot. In fact, I don’t do them to the music so I can make sure I allow myself to move.

There is a definite disconnect there. Most likely I am trying too hard. I also know there is a lot of tension and focus when I am working on my own, and it is rare I let myself relax into what I am doing. Perhaps that is all part of it too.

The hall has been crowded for practices lately as well, making it hard to even dance on my own full out without having to dodge other couples.

I am hopeful that tomorrow morning things will be a bit quieter and I can get through my routines.

Comments are comments. Its funny sometimes how something relatively small can have a big impact. I think the comments from yesterday’s lesson also highlighted my feeling like I am failing and slacking off on dance because I have no timelines to meet. I just feel like I am not doing enough right now, but that could be just the inconsistency due to the traveling. That feeling is going to make any comment that implies I am not doing something play right into my worst fears right now.

I may have to write some more about those in my next post.

For now, I am just going to continue doing exercises.

Rumba-ing in the Right Direction

Tonight’s lesson had an unexpected high note.

We started by reviewing an exercise section for the jive at my request so that I would have something from jive to work on while I am away. Following that, I needed 3 small clarifications in cha cha to tighten that up.

Once those little things were out of the way, Boss wanted to work on the rumba to go through it with me dancing on my own all the way to the end. It took most of the lesson, but I was able to go through both the new section and the entire routine on my own. Boss even found a few different areas to give some coaching for technique to work on while I am away.

Since we had some time left at the end of the lesson, Boss decided to give the full rumba a try together with the music. It wasn’t flawless, of course, but it didn’t fall apart either. We had enough time to run it three times in a row from top to bottom.

Unexpectedly, I have one entire open routine I can actually ‘run through’!

Now the real work on the routine will begin–cleaning it, making it consistent, and styling. The work we already did on connection was already starting to show, but there is obviously a lot that still needs to happen.

Not to mention there are 8 other routines to finish learning to get to the same point. None of them are at the point where I can run through them fully on my own yet, and 2 (almost 3 if you count jive), I am not able to work through on my own yet at all (including the 2 most difficult).

But it’s a starting point. First one routine settles in, then others follow.

I am off for 3 weeks in Europe tomorrow for work and a mini-vacation at the end. It’s going to be a busy time, but I am really hopeful that I will be able to find some time to run through things for dance, as well as some strength training. I already feel a bit paranoid I will lose all of the progress I have made recently while I am away. Fingers crossed it doesn’t degrade too much.

I actually managed to get everything done I wanted to before I leave. I have a school paper due this weekend, which I finished just before dance tonight, I have a group project due while I am away but my group (many of whom are also away at the same time due to Easter) and I agreed to work ahead on it, so it is almost finished too. I got all my work stuff completed as well, although that had me at work after dance last night to finish it up.

I am even packed, which is pretty good for me since I don’t leave until noon tomorrow 🙂 .

The only small potential hiccup I am watching is a snow storm coming through one of the airports I am going to transition through. I am hoping it will be cleared out by the time I get there tomorrow afternoon.

I don’t know if I will be able to post much while I am away, but I do promise to catch up when I get back.

I am going to ride my rumba high for a little bit.

And hope everything isn’t too different when I get back.

Surprising Boss

Well, that doesn’t happen very often.

He was surprised last week with how far my samba had progressed, and tonight I went through the waltz for him and he was surprised because he hadn’t realized I had worked so much on it.

In fact, he even commented on how in the past two weeks he has noticed that all the routines I have been working on have really started coming together and that there has been a lot of progress in general lately.

Boss isn’t one to give compliments lightly, so he has to be pretty impressed to mention it so openly. He also acknowledged that he thought I was a little crazy to want to work on so many different routines at one time instead of just one from top to bottom but that he had to admit what I was doing seemed to be working.

The biggest contributor to the progress is the simple fact that in the past couple weeks I have figured out firstly how to work most efficiently through the routines, and secondly I have been able to be more consistent in my practice overall.

Once I figured out the best way for me to work on my own, it was easy to figure out what I needed from Boss in my lessons to enable that. Primarily, it was time working through steps on my own in lessons as I do in my practice with his coaching when I can’t figure out what comes next.

I also realized that I can’t quite process entire routines at once, so I needed to break them up, and I need to be able to acknowledge when I have reached my limit for working on a particular routine.

The interesting thing is that while we work through the routines, each time we go over it we are able to add another layer of technique and correct things because I am a little more confident in what I need to do. It’s a great side effect, for lack of a better description.

Things are going so well, that tonight Boss offered me a choice for what to do next–whether to start working on another routine (which he figured was my preference) or keep working on the routines we have already done. I chose a new routine as I feel ready to take on a little more without compromising what I am already working on.

We had a discussion about which dance to do next and I offered either Quickstep or Paso. We are getting down to the dances that are going to require a lot of working and repetition to really get sorted out (foxtrot/paso), and the dances that while will be easier than others to get into my head, will take a lot of work on my own to fully execute (quickstep/jive). I picked one of each to break up the volume/type of work.

We are going to start with Quickstep tomorrow, and following that we will start to dive into the paso.

I leave for Europe in just over a week, and I hope that before I go I will have a strong foundation to work on my own through the routines, just drilling the sections I have done over and over while I am away.

Perhaps I will surprise Boss again.

Samba Surprise

Saaay Whaaaaat???

Yes, of all the dances we did tonight, samba went the best. I was even able to do the first 1/3 of the routine with Boss in time with slow samba music. Boss was completely surprised by that.

I was a little less so as I already knew I could do the first 1/4 because of focus practice I had done on it a few weeks ago. I had been able to at least maintain that. The rest of the third following where I usually stop was the surprise for me.

I have slowly been working to try and get to the halfway point, but it is not quite there. After the halfway point there is still pretty much a blank even though we went through the entire routine yesterday (and again tonight).

Considering I am still completely fogged out (this afternoon in first aid I couldn’t remember what number came after 6 in a 10 count twice during CPR practice), my lesson went much better than yesterday. I did ask Boss to break up the lesson into different dances, which he did tonight and definitely helped (although I think he is not too sure).

We started with reviewing the rumba (although not with any music), and after about the halfway point he could see me start to get a vacant stare. We still went through the entire routine before stopping, although the last half is still pretty blank for me. I might be able to reach the full halfway point on my own in practice tomorrow. That’s my hope at least…

One thing that did seem improved in the rumba was the connection, or the consistency of the connection. The work we have been doing is starting to generate ‘triggers’ for me so that I do notice when the connection is missing, and I can feel myself try to re-engage it.

I have to try to work out the timing a bit better on my own tomorrow. I can do it with Boss counting, but when I am on my own the count gets a bit lost without him to lead and prompt my movements.

What I really need to do is go through the steps on my own with Boss correcting and coaching as needed. Once we do that, I am fairly confident I can go away on my own and work out the final pieces and start adding the layers of technique. We didn’t have time to do that today before my brain was full for rumba, so we moved on to the Cha Cha.

The Cha Cha also went better than I expected. There were a lot of blank spots, but there are small sections of the routine that I am starting to do by muscle memory when led, if not quite consciously yet. I am pretty sure Boss could tell when I reached the point where things were no longer computing for me, but we pushed through to the end.

I haven’t worked through Cha Cha on my own yet, so that will be on the docket for tomorrow’s practice. I need to see how far I am able to figure out on my own and I am hoping about half. Some of the footwork gets pretty intricate in the middle, but I do know that usually cha cha is a dance I am able to pick up fairly quickly.

We ended with the samba and were able to go through the first 1/3 twice with the slow music, the second time to make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke. I blanked on a couple of steps, but was able to catch up later. Samba is usually the dance I struggle with learning the most next to paso, so tonight was certainly encouraging.

I hope my lesson tomorrow goes just as well and also has a bit of a surprise in it.

We haven’t done the waltz recently…

Settling into a groove

Finally.

The best thing I can say about this week is that I feel almost normal. The hot flashes have backed off and are down to 4-6 in a day versus 1-2 an hour. My head is clear and I have energy. I am having a little trouble sleeping (can’t have everything I guess), but its more my usual insomnia than waking up all night with hot flashes and weird dreams.

The worse is that my left side is really unhappy. The worse part is my ankle, perhaps my achilles, but my knee, hip and elbow have also been tweaky. I am guessing it is all related and seems to be the small changes in movement I am making–particularly in footwork. It’s still manageable, but I have a suspicion its going to get really angry before it gets better. Something else to follow-up with physio.

All of that aside, I am getting into a regular and consistent pattern of working that already is feeling productive and good. I have worked out a pattern for exercises and feel focused on them, and slowly working through my routines on my own. Samba seems to be the most productive so far, but rumba isn’t that far behind.

In standard, we are working on the open waltz and I haven’t quite found a way to work on it, but I know it will be coming in my lessons. We are going through the steps in detail and differentiating which steps are in CBMP, require more rotation or less, etc. It might seem fairly straight forward and intuitive, but for me it is not.

Building on the work we did in standard, Boss has identified for me about three different ways to place my foot as I move–straight forward, under my head or under my elbow–depending on how much rotation is needed for the step. Under my elbow is usually full CBMP with under my head in the middle.

We are now going through the steps in the open waltz and figuring out which step requires which movement. It’s not quite sticking like I wish it would and when I work on my own I am sure there are times I must be turning the wrong way. It’ll come though.

Tonight my lesson was focused on Latin, which is another way things are getting into a grove–a lesson on standard, a lesson on latin and my third lesson in between.

We were able to clean up some of the sections in both routines I have been working on myself, and after running through them on my own tonight I am ready to head into working through the next section on my own. The latin routines seem to be going easier than standard, but that is not surprise to me.

We also started working on connection and lead and follow, doing exercises in keeping my weight forward and towards my partner while moving and responding to Boss’s lead without losing the connection. It’s a lot of feeling and processing things, so pretty much right up my alley, although still challenging.

When working on the routines, I could start to understand where developing that sensitivity is going to help and already I am starting to apply it to the routines in little pieces. I just have to work on doing so more consistently because when I do it Boss can respond and actually lead me, but if I don’t we are both stuck trying to dance on our own.

Similarly, in standard Boss was telling me that I have to make sure I stay consistent with my upper body and head position and stretching–even when we are not moving at full strength in our feet–so that we can consistently counter-balance each other. If we don’t, the entire movement of the dance changes and again we are each then trying to dance separately.

Its given me a lot to process this week in a good way, including a better understanding of the demands that this next level is going to make on me and how I need to respond to move into it. I am not there yet, but I have a better understanding already of the amount of work ahead of me and what it is going to take to get there.

I feel better prepared to move ahead and much less out of my depth. I am starting to feel these routines are doable, and able to do well.

It’s a good grove to be in.

Refocusing Exercises

My last two lessons have been about exercises.

It’s a refreshing change actually as it has been a while since I have focused on exercises and what I was doing got a bit lost in the shuffle between surgery, Christmas and a high work tempo. Actually, because work has been quite challenging lately, working on the exercises has been quite welcomed.

I am a bit of a strange nut (in case you haven’t figured that out). I like working on exercises. It’s ‘me’ time and very meditative. I enjoy doing the repetitions as it’s a time to focus inward and just allow myself to feel how my body is moving. It’s a time to connect with me. I have missed it during the last few weeks when between neck issues and crazy work and school schedules I haven’t been able to do it.

We are starting a bit fresh on these exercises. Many of them are things I have done before, but we are breaking them down a bit further into finer details than previously. Looking at those details, should help correct some of the enduring issues that are a bit of a gap in my dancing.

I group my exercises into three groups right now. The first two should be obvious–latin and standard–but the third I call my strength/gym exercises. That is because I do them at the end of my strength training, while at the gym, and in sneakers instead of dance shoes. There are strengthening elements to them more so than specific techniques like working on foot and body rise as well as hip mobility and core endurance to support it. They take about 10 minutes at the end of my gym time during the day.

We have the latin exercises more or less worked out and for now, I am doing them slow so I can pay attention to the details, but also build some muscle memory and give time for me to think about what I need to do. They are focused on hip settling movements, back steps and the foot work for back steps and some elements from my open routines. It’s a good combination of exercises and right now I just need to figure out how much time to spend on each–whether a block of time or number of repetitions and how to track that. I should figure that out by Friday.

We just started to dig into the standard exercises tonight. They seem to have two focuses–footwork, or upper body work–both of which need some fine tuning for open routines. We are working on foot and body rise as well as the connection between the two sides of my upper body. Some of them I am doing in socks, and some in shoes. I have found some new muscles, in particular how to engage my inner thigh muscles and my lats. I am looking forward to sussing them out a bit more during my next lesson on Sunday.

Because of my next, we also got away from doing cardio rounds, so I hope we will get back to doing those next week as things settle into a grove.

Boss and I seem to be pretty agreed to give about 2 weeks for me to work through the new exercises and build up my muscle memory before revisiting and pushing them forward a bit. I feel it’s important to establish that time line because I have a tendency to get too comfortable in an exercises, especially when it is slow, and need a bit of a regular push to move it forward. It’s not so much about progressing as allowing myself to get too bogged in the details going slow that I end up over-thinking when I try to do things faster instead of trusting what I learn. If I am not pushed out of my slow and steady comfort zone, I would happily never leave it.

It’s interesting what we have already discovered in breaking down these exercises. Among other things, my tendency to over turn out my right hip actually limits my mobility on my left. It’s amazing how often we have discovered that when working in latin its quite common for me to end up with my right foot facing almost sideways, while my left foot is forward to compensate. When moving my right foot backward, I have a tendency to put my heel down to the side instead of straight back which leaves my right hip too turned out and facing towards the right instead of forward. Its really highlighted the difference between my two sides.

I have also found the mirror to be a bit of a hindrance because it confuses me a little (I can’t quite wrap my head around what I see being the opposite of what I feel) and it encourages me to look down at my feet when I need to be looking up. It’s also become a bit of a crutch for how I move my feet as in order to make a correction I need to understand the feeling of what is turned out too much or too little and the mirror takes away an element of trial and error that I personally need to go through. So in the studio I am moving away from the mirror.

On a slightly different note, I found out this week that I will be in Europe for training for 2 weeks in March. I am also going to take a week of vacation while I am there, so I won’t have lessons for 3 weeks then. Boss told me tonight he hopes to have some sort of update about competing when I get back and I hope it is a positive one or at least something that gives some direction. I guess I will see then.

I will also be away for the first week in May and the last week followed by the first week of June. There is also a strong possibility I will be away for work again over the summer, but it will be a little while before I hear more about that. As I said at the beginning of the year, it is shaping up to be a busy one.

Already, I have one more full week of work then I am off for two weeks of vacation. It’s a little bittersweet because I originally took the time off because there was a plan to compete then, but that isn’t going to happen now. My father is coming to visit for the first time since I moved here, so at least there will be something interesting going on. I haven’t seen him since I went back east between chemo and radiation so I am looking forward to the visit.

I can’t believe that January is already over. Usually this time of year seems so slow! Guess that is what happens when you get busy. I also finally have my physio appointment tomorrow to see what is going on with my neck.  That should help all over.

I did start tracking my menopausal symptoms, BTW. Already, it’s been interesting what I have found out. Following the terrible week of not being able to think, I suddenly had things come into focus and sharpen up, but with it came a bout of incredibly intense hot flashes that are sapping my energy and strength while making it difficult to sleep. I figure after a couple more days it should shift again, hopefully to the ‘mini-flashes’ that are much easier to deal with. It should be interesting to see if there is a cyclical pattern.

I am definitely ready to slow down a little and refocus.

Adding Technique

Because we have been working on learning choreography, technique has fallen a little to the side recently.

Part of that is because I am limited in the amount I can do and the amount of time I am spending dancing because of my neck issue.

I saw the acupuncturist yesterday and got a little bit of relief for my neck which has mostly shifted the pain from stabbing burning pain to more of an ache. In some ways it is almost worse, but I have more mobility in the others and I am not experiencing spasms. This freed me up a bit.

We were able to work all the way through the rest of the samba today as well.

Both of those factors together led to some time to talk about two aspects of technique. The first deals with my foot position when moving backward in latin and the other deals with swiveling my hips without moving my shoulders and keeping my weight forward into my partner. Both of these are going to be a big focus for a while.

In particular, the hips movement will be important because so many steps in my new latin routines require exactly that movement and that I am able to maintain my weight forward so that both I and my partner can use each other to execute the steps.

It was a bit refreshing to take a step back from just doing choreography tonight. We were able to dig into the technique of the samba a little. We haven’t run it from top to bottom yet, but I suspect that will be in the near future.

My head feels clearer today and I hope it is the beginning of a period of clarity and sharpness. I could certainly use it.

At my lesson tomorrow, Boss talked a little about potentially working on the waltz or we will finish off the samba. As long as my neck feels up to it, I don’t mind returning to standard for a bit. It will be a nice change.

I still feel scattered, but I know this week is busy and stressful on both work and school fronts, so I am giving myself a break on the dance front. I hope to reset next week when things return more to a normal pace. I have more appointments for my neck which should also hopefully help.

In the meantime, I have a little technique to work on.

Finding something that has been elusive…

Every once in a while something comes together.

Bonus when it is something you have been trying to figure out for a while.

During my last two individual practices, I suddenly was able to pull together something that I have been trying to figure out for longer than I can remember. I could tell it was close, but that it was still just on the cusps of not quite being there.

And now it seems to have finally developed, at least preliminarily.

A feeling of connection complete from one side to the other around my back in standard. Basically, I can finally feel a connection from elbow to elbow when I hold up my arms in standard frame.

It seems strange to say, but it’s an odd sensation for me. It can be a bit fleeting and honestly it feels like there is a band from one elbow to the other, but I can tell when it falls into place and when it doesn’t. Previously, I could connect with one side or the other but not across.

How did this happen?

It is a little strange the steps that seems to have led to this. First it was a matter of developing awareness of moving my shoulder blades separate from my ribs, then it was developing awareness of when one side was leading versus another. This was followed by working to make sure one side or the other was leading and engaged at all times. Once that developed, I noticed that I had to be careful that when I was leading with one side forward, I wasn’t allowing the opposite side to fall back (it still has to stay forward too so I don’t end up turned). Once I added engaging the opposite side to keep it from falling back, suddenly the two sides connected together.

This has been at least a two year process for me, beginning with no awareness or understanding of when one side or the other moved anywhere. I had to keep doing it to figure out what I was feeling, as I wasn’t sure and when it finally clicked together what it was and I realized it was something Boss and other coaches have been telling me to look for it took me a few moments to completely process it. It was the ultimate ‘aha’ moment.

At least I hope I am feeling what I think I am feeling. I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with Boss yet. I could be just doing something completely strange and not realize it.

But there is a glimmer of hope…

I might figure out this whole standard thing yet.