Life moves on

In more ways than one.

First, I had great lessons with Boss and lady Boss last weekend. While they were away competing, I was able to send them some videos of my practice exercises so we started with some feedback on them. The main point was that I don’t work with the music enough and focus on being precises too much and that I need to allow my body to move and flow more without being so precise. Overall, both seemed pleased with what I have done.

We spent some time working on the rumba and lady boss videoed Boss and I doing some run throughs of it. There are some really good points, but also some points to still work on.

One of the things that was also noted by Boss is that while I may be aware of where my partner is while I am dancing, I am completely clueless when it comes to knowing where my arms are and where I am connected with him. For example, instead of placing my arm up where it would be for an underarm turn, when I dance on my own I move my arms as I would if I was dancing alone.

Enter Lady Boss’s semi private group class which I do after my lessons with Boss. As a group, we are focusing on my gold routines (which is quite convenient), and in particular, all of us were challenged to work on a portion of the routine on our own with all the correct arms. So if we are joined by one arm with our partner in a cucharacha we cannot move both arms in the same manner.

In both lessons, we also looked at the samba, which for me needs a lot of work, especially to be able to do it on my own. I am unsure of so many of the steps, and the style of samba I have been taught seems to have a lot of stylistic differences from what Boss would like now. Some of the steps, I have also never done so I am having to learn them – most of them involve voltas – steps which are definitely not my strong suit.

I have more lessons again tomorrow, and then every other week from now until I leave until December for work.

Yep, I am going to be deploying overseas for work again this year from 15 Sept until early Dec. It is sailing again, although I won’t be leaving from my home town, but meeting the ship overseas. Its a different area, a different class of ship (much bigger) and a different challenge because the program will be started by another communicator, although it will be for me to bring it home for the majority of the deployment. Details are still being worked out, but it is coming fast and furious.

I have 4 more sets of lessons until I leave, then it is up to me to keep moving things forward while I am away. I should have better connectivity on the bigger ship, so I am hoping I will be able to stay in touch with the Bosses more and not feel like I am getting behind.

Life is moving on.

What a month!

And it is barely halfway over.

When the month started, I felt like it was going to finally be a good one for me.

Turns out, I was wrong. Its been a month of one thing after another after another.

Work continues to be crazy busy, so that is not helping much. The sudden side effects and having to switch medications has also made everything harder than it needs to be. I have been transitioning from one to the other and now I am only on one but the side effects from beginning the new meds haven’t worn off yet. Its a little weird because more of the side effects involve feeling like something is happening (like a racing heart or trembling), but it actually isn’t (my fitbit doesn’t show anything other than a normal heartbeat, and I can see my hands aren’t shaking). My mind also often seems like its going in 6 different directions at once and I can’t seem to figure out how to reign it in.

Those are just the mental side effects. There are some physical ones like headaches and body aches too.

Last week was rough. I was able to get back to some activity and resume my full workout program. Things were feeling good and productive, although there was some muscle tightness and soreness. I seemed to be having some shin splints too.

At physio, I was showing good progress on my shoulder and ankle, so the therapist decided to work on trying to release my quad muscle to give some relief to my hip flexors and knees. After my appointment I asked if there were any issues with me going to do my regular sprint intervals as I was almost at the point of increasing the interval. He didn’t have any concerns.

Unfortunately, almost at the end of  my 4th sprint interval I suddenly felt a sharp and deep pain in my lower right glute almost where it joins with my hamstring. I had to stop sprinting and reduce to a jog so light I may have been walking faster. I was so angry I seriously wanted to hit something. The sprinting had been going so well there was really no reason for this sharp pain to suddenly appear. I had thought that perhaps my shoes were getting a little worn and causing the shin splints but this seemed extreme and sudden. I immediately iced it when I returned to my office and alternated heat and ice throughout the evening. It seemed to settle some, but there was still some lingering pain.

I also noticed I was experiencing some pain especially if I took a big step while walking, but I couldn’t seem to pin it down. It is still lingering and my intervals are still really light jogs with small strides.

To add insult to injury, Sunday morning I woke up and my left shoulder felt sore and stiff. My best guess is that I slept funny on it. By the mid-afternoon my shoulder had tightened up so much I could barely use it and I was in extreme pain. I put heat on it and had to take some muscle relaxants to try to settle it down. I couldn’t turn my head right barely at all. Thankfully it loosened some by the morning but I had to continue to work to loosen it all week. Its still giving some issues now and then. This is similar to the chronic issues I had been experiencing since returning to work over a year ago, but it seemed to have worked itself out more than a month ago. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for why it flared up this much all of a sudden.

I return to physio tomorrow, but my therapist is then on vacation for two weeks. I am hoping he will be able to give some idea on what is going on with my glute and how to get it better. I am still getting some ‘tweaks’ now and then, but I haven’t been able to figure out a pattern to what is irritating it. For example, cha cha walks irritate it some times, but not every time.

I have been able to be consistent with my practice and I now have three routines more or less mapped out. The samba is proving the most challenging (but not a surprise) as there are some steps I have never done, and others which are done differently from what I have done. I have two lessons and a group class this weekend I am really looking forward to after a two week break. I know I have the rumba and cha cha in good condition and the pieces of the samba I know are also in passable condition. Hopefully with a little direction the rest will come together.

I am hopeful the side effects, random muscle irritations and other issues will die down and work themselves out as the month continues.

Fingers crossed.

Routines!

Closed Gold it is!

Last week I got a pleasant surprise when I was emailed two routines, rumba and cha cha from my new instructors. Both were closed gold.

It was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting routines so quickly and because I was expecting closed silver instead of gold. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I was also able to get some practice in last week and slowly determine what I want to work on for exercises. Already I could feel some of the changes I have been working on starting to become part of my movements. I was also able to learn the full rumba and write out the cha cha before my lessons on the weekend (I only received the cha cha on Friday evening).

I had two private lessons, one with Lady Boss and one with Boss, followed by a 90 min semi private group class (only 5 students) focused on technique with Lady Boss.

The lesson with Lady Boss was focused on arm movements, giving me some movements to focus on and incorporate with my other exercises, was well as some movements for more ‘freestyle’ arm movements.

The lesson with Boss was focused on working on the rumba routine together. He was very happy to see that I knew the routine and already we were able to look into some of the details, again mainly making small adjustments due to differences between what I had done before. For example, adjusting where I step back from the fan to going straight back instead of at a diagonal angle.

The Bosses are away for the next two weekends competing in Asia, so I have a bit of a break in lessons. Boss told me he would like me to know the rumba, cha cha, and a samba which I am waiting to receive.

There has been another major change in how I do strength training. I had a meeting with my trainer who has been discussing options with my physio therapist. Around the same time, I managed to pull together an idea based on some conversations with Boss and my physio.

Long story short, I will not be doing any heavy lifting at the gym for quite some time. The main reason for that is that there is nothing I do in dance that requires me to move heavy weight. There is a lot that requires me to stabilize using my core and stabilizing muscles. That is the new focus on my exercises. None of my exercises require use of weights, except one (which can also be done with a theraband) and all of them focus on working the stabilizing muscles (eg. erectors, abs, obliques, adductors, abductors, and small glute muscles).

I do the exercises 4 days a week with some small variations to a couple of them to work the muscles slightly differently. I follow this with cardio – sprint intervals two days a week and sustained cardio on the elliptical the other two days.

I am eager to work into a regular pattern with these new exercises. I am looking forward to seeing if the change makes a difference in other areas where I have been struggling – mainly weight loss. Prior to competing at Emerald I suddenly dropped a lot of weight without expecting to. In hindsight, the only difference during that period was that I wasn’t doing weight training due to the hip bursitis. That is leading me to think that one of the major barriers to my weight loss may be doing the heavy lifting. When I first lost the weight in 2012, it is interesting to note that I didn’t do any heavy lifting exercises then either. Seems to be too much to be a coincidence. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, getting started has been delayed a little. Over the past 3 weeks I have been struggling with some on-going issues – dizziness, exhaustion, digestive issues, frequent headaches, fuzzy head, unexpected weight gain, bloating, and almost constant yawning. It took me a while to put it all together because I was attributing it to stress and other factors, but once I did I realized they are all side effects to the medication I am on for menopause. I experienced similar side effects when taking the medication before in 2017.

The most difficult issue has been the exhaustion. I had actually increased my caffeine intake from a max of 1 cup of coffee to 4 a day to try to overcome it. Every thing I did took far too much energy and motivation and I had been basically walking through things. I spoke with a doctor and we are switching back to another medication which will help with most of the symptoms, but not the hot flashes. There is a period of transition between the two meds where I am reducing the dose of the previous while taking the new, but I am hopeful that in a few days things will start to feel ‘normal’ again.

I really want to just get back to doing things I enjoy – dance practice, and my strength training.

Afterall, I have new routines to learn.

Change

Change is hard.

The reality of how much change I have to do really set in during my lessons last weekend. Even though I expected and knew there would be a lot of adjustments to make changing instructors, the reality still hits a little hard.

I had moments during my lesson when I seriously though I should go back to bronze and start over. I just keep reminding myself we are focusing on details which are supported by my foundation.

One of the biggest things I am discovering is that there is a profound difference in interpretation of latin and latin technique between Old and New Boss. Once you consider that they each have difference areas of focus and ways of teaching, it all adds up quickly.

I am also having a little bit of difficulty adapting to lessons only on the weekends, or every other week. I am finding it harder to retain everything because there is such a gap between lessons and reviews.

All things I have to work out as I work through the change. Nothing I have encountered is unexpected and I seem to be on track – first I was excited about all the changes, then the reality of the multitude of changes has set in making me second guess everything. I hope that next things stop feeling so ‘foreign’ and I am able to figure how to make the changes work.

It didn’t help that last week was so crazy with my graduation, my mom visiting, and two days of commuting 3 hours for work there wasn’t any time to practice or even work out what that practice should look like.

This week however, I am already on a good track with 75 mins of practice in yesterday. I took all the points from my lessons and made exercises from them for me to work on, but the main issue I am encountering right now is that there are so many details and points in each exercise to focus on my mind (and my body) is all over the place.

But its a starting point.

New Boss is still doing some evaluation. At my last lessons we reviewed the points in rumba and then switched to samba. We started working on cruzado walks, which were small changes, followed by whisks. He quickly picked up on the main point I often got from Old Boss – that my hips are swinging more like a pendulum than samba action. So main exercise – transferring my weight to a position where my trailing hip is elevated.

At least something I recognize has needed to be corrected for a long time, but I haven’t had a chance to focus on it previously.

A big difference between Old and New Boss came out during the rumba review. With Old Boss, we tended to focus on the leg action and steps and added arms later when we did styling. I had some basic things I would do on my own, but we never really talked much about the arms specific to the steps.

For New Boss, its all a package. For example, we were doing hip twist to fan in rumba and as I moved to cross New Boss I was trailing my arm behind me and doing what I usually do. He stopped and asked me why I was doing that. Mainly, its to get my arms out of my way. We then took the time to make some adjustments to the arms, but the surprising thing was that we worked on the arms together as a couple. It sounds strange, but as we were doing it I felt like I had never taken into consideration my partner when thinking about arms and how I transition from hold, keep my arms out of the way, etc. – at least not with basic steps.

We talked about how arms are part of the step and technique and separate from styling. It makes sense, but again – so much work to do!

I am still struggling to adapt to the nuances between the two Bosses as partners. There are small but marked differences in how they lead certain steps (not unexpected) that mean I have to step slightly different because where one led a step straight forward, the other led it slightly to the side.

New Boss also calls me out whenever I don’t look at him when I am suppose to. Its awkward, but good for me as it forces me to connect and will build that habit.

There are times I almost want to ask New Boss to go back through all the syllabus steps so I can see how he does them and adapt. That’s the perfectionist in me talking though. For now, I need to keep going and adjust as I can.

It may seem all negative, but really it is not. It is change, which is neither negative nor positive, it is just different. I am trying to not compare the two Bosses, but it is hard and likely a bit of a defence mechanism so I don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

I have two more (possibly 3 – one with Lady Boss) lessons this weekend, then a two week break while the Bosses are away competing overseas. I hope to work out the exercises before then and hopefully reduce the current number of them to some small fundamentals that will focus on the big changes I need to make.

I can already tell I am slowly making changes in how I dance. Its slow, but it is something. I am definitely working harder than before at moving all my muscles and that I do like. Its a challenge I am working to embrace.

But change is still hard.

Its Definitely the Hip

Bursitis is the likely culprit.

I saw physio yesterday and since I didn’t get much relief after my appointment last week he looked into my hip a bit more. After examining it and seeing how tender I am to touch he is leaning towards bursitis, with tendon issues being the back-up.

At least it isn’t my back, which is a relief since the back exercises I was doing weren’t having much effect.

The way forward is for me to get a cortizone injection tomorrow morning into my hip. From how I react to it, that will determine whether it is bursitis or bigger tendon issues. Basically, if the injection results in things getting better overall, it is bursitis. If the injection has minimal effect, its the tendons. If it is bursitis, the injection could potentially solve the issue or at least minimize it enough to settle it down.

Its hard to know what is causing the issue, but from what I have read once bursitis gets triggered (usually from an injury) it can be hard to settle down. This could be related to the strange pulling I experienced a few times doing standard and other movements back in February.

I am really trying to stay optimistic, but its difficult to do when I have had to really modify and baby my hip during my lesson. Last night we even ended early as working on the rumba I inadvertently leaned back too far into my hip and caused a huge twang that made it difficult for me to even walk after. Any time I rotate my hip causes pain and I am still experiencing a need to limp a bit today.

I am currently sitting with an ice pack on my hip (bursitis like cold, not heat) and really hoping that tomorrow brings some relief for me that allows me to get back to preparing for the competition. So many pieces are coming together so well in all the routines that we are even able to look back at some details again instead of focusing on full routines.

So my fingers are crossed (and toes too!) trying not to expect too much and being ready for bad news that the rest of my prep will be focused on resting and caring for the tendons as best I can.

Here goes nothing…

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.

Catching Up

I’m back!

I wasn’t really away that long, but I have been so busy I have been away from writing. For that I apologize.

I’ve been bogged down with work and finishing off my masters degree and I am happy to say that work is giving a bit of a break and my final assignment has been submitted!

Last week was a much needed vacation, although it was not without its own drama when airline delays meant we missed our cruise ship and had to be rerouted over two days to the first port! We joined the ship only 2 days late and had a great time from there, but it was hectic to say the least.

This week I had a great opportunity to work with one of our Canadian pro latin vice champions over 6 lessons and honestly it was a lot of what I needed. He is amazing to work with and I highly recommend if you have an opportunity.

I lost a lot of training momentum while I was deployed this fall and then with the Christmas break, first my hip then my back injuries, menopause issues affecting my concentration and focus, snow days and Boss getting the flu – well I just haven’t been able to really organize myself and get back into a regular groove of things. I also completely changed my strength training routines to better support weight loss and my goals, and finished my masters with a very high intensity course requiring a lot of my time to get through.

I am not completely comfortable with where I am personally when it comes to preparing for this competition. I don’t feel like I know even the sequence of my routines (which is very unusual for me) and when I do learn them, I seem to keep forgetting them. My own practice has been almost non-existent because I don’t feel structured or like I have a plan when I go to do it (also unusual for me).

But now with a lot of the outside pressures out of the way, I am looking forward to spending the next 50 days or so focused on preparing for Emerald Ball. Training itself is ramping up with extra lessons and starting to focus on rounds and run-throughs.

Despite my concerns and disappointment in myself, there are some silver linings. Among other things, I was able to work through 6 pretty intense lessons without my strength and stamina failing me too much. I was actually quite surprised and impressed with myself for that. I was able to take away a lot from my work with the coach and it helped to solidify some of the routines I was really unsure of – like paso. That has helped me feel better overall about where I am.

The main thing I really need to nail down for myself right now is some structure to organize myself until the competition. I know Boss has his own plans and they’ll get us there, but I do feel like I am not pulling my own weight and doing my part – at least as much as I am used to doing – and that is slowing us down. I know myself well enough though that once I figure out a structure, it should fall into place from there. Boss and I are going to try to get that established tonight so I can start fresh next week.

I have a lesson tonight and one again tomorrow (in a bigger hall so we can look at the alignments for our routines). I think the plan tonight is to go over the silver routines and try to dance them through, ideally getting through all of them in one lesson. That would be nice to achieve because we haven’t been able to do that yet, but I also expect that we might not get there. We’ll see how it goes.

From there, its about catching up.

A Successful Performance

And two of my open latin routines are on the floor!

Some poeple can grow a human in 9 months. I can’t, so instead I grew 2 latin routines to initial performance level.

The showcase last night went really well, but instead of just talking about it, I am going to show you.

First, we did the open Cha cha then we did the open rumba.

It felt so good to be performing. I really didn’t realize how much I have missed preparing for a goal. We decided to do the cha cha just over a month ago, and added the rumba 3 weeks ago. I was really amazed how much we were able to polish up the routines in that short amount of time – especially as prior to that we hadn’t even tried either in time with the music.

I could go into multiple details about what was wrong with them – little stumbles, legs not quite straight, some strange styling – but that was not what last night was about.

Last night was about getting back on the floor, knowing I worked hard and taking the time to just enjoy dancing and presenting two challenging routines to a local audience who haven’t seen me perform since 2016.

I was approached by one of the local social dancers after the showcase and what she told me really stuck. She told me she really enjoyed watching me perform last night because she could see the pure joy I was experiencing being on the floor.

It really stuck out because she has seen me dance through my entire cancer journey and when it became known I had cancer she was one of the first to approach me and share that she too had battled cancer and won. Her sharing that with me helped me to realize I too could win this battle. Sadly, last night she shared she is once again battling and will be doing a form of chemo for the rest of her life. But to know that seeing me back on the floor and doing what I love meant a lot to her really touched me.

Cancer has not been nice to the dancers in my community. But we keep fighting and supporting each other to overcome it.

2 of 9 routines now on the floor! I am sure the others will follow in the new year after I get back from this upcoming extended work trip.

I reminded myself of something last night I hadn’t realized I had forgotten. It’s easy to always declare new routines ‘not ready’. The truth is that they are never ready, but at some point they need to be put on the floor so the next steps for them can be determined.

Ready for the next steps in cha cha and rumba now.

 

Finishing touches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confidence

Usually when you see that in a title it’s because it is lacking.

I am actually finding the opposite. Last night I realized that I am slowly regaining my confidence back.

The odd thing is that I hadn’t even been really aware that I had lost it. But I suppose like most things you don’t realize something until you can see a big difference. I lost it gradually, but at yesterday’s lesson I realized there has been quite a change.

We were focusing on the rumba and cha cha yesterday as we continue to prepare for the showcase in two weeks. I can’t even really explain what I noticed was different except to say that I felt myself looking up more and feeling confident in bringing the routines to the next level. I was beginning to perform the routines instead of just working through the steps.

I felt better about how I looked doing the routines.

I am not sure what is triggering the change but part of it is having a performance to focus on. Another part of it is likely that I have been able to lose some of the chemo weight. Its appears to be a combination that just works.

I am not going to knock it. Instead I am just going to roll with it.

It helps that the routines seem to be coming together really well. We may have also decided on music yesterday, just from what we were using to practice.

We started by ironing out some of the details for some of the line features in the rumba. I have a roll-out to a lunge I wasn’t very sure of, especially the movements after the lunge. We were able to to get that working together, and the transition to the next step. It leaves only one more section to work out, and the routine will be in really good shape.

We also worked a little on the cha cha, working through the beginning and reviewing the section we worked on last week. We were able to run through 2/3rds of the routine before we ran out of time, at speed. It was also working well.

It puts us in a great place for the performance in 2 weeks. It’s been a while since I have felt this good about my dancing. It is making me look forward to what is next.

And hopefully more confidence will emerge.