Back on the Floor!

Yes, finally!!

I was cleared to return to all activities yesterday, and I celebrated by having a lesson. 9 weeks until the competition, so a lot of work to do.

The lesson last night was very interesting and telling.

It ended up being later in the evening than I usually have a lesson and I was worried I would be too tired, but I was so anxious to get back on the floor I pushed it aside.

It was good that I did.

The start of the lesson was really really rough. We were working on standard since I have a couple coaching lessons this week and we started by reviewing and walking through our gold routines. I really felt like a wet blanket with no strength, and my mind was racing in about 50 different directions as my body tried to figure out what was going on. By the time we finished walking through the quickstep, I was honestly feeling quite panicked, and really couldn’t figure out what was going on.

We took a bit of a break before looking at specific parts of the routines that we will focus on for the coaching.

It turned out that break was what my mind needed to reconnect with my body and to trust that my body knew and was capable of doing what it needed.

After that, it was like the weight I have been carrying on my shoulders for the last 6 months disappeared. I felt my mind relax and organize itself, and as Boss and I prepared to work through one segment of our waltz, everything just came back together.

Actually, it came together better than it has in a longer time than I can remember.

It was like I needed the rough start for my mind to assess the state of my body and once it decided that all the movements were ok, it gave permission.  I could use my full strength and power, was able to move into full hold and to follow what Boss was doing. By the end of the lesson we were even traveling significantly more down the floor than we have in a very long time.

The best way I can describe the feeling is to say I felt free and free to dance. There wasn’t anything holding me back anymore–no hormone issues, no depression, no muscle weakness, no fuzzy head, and no fatigue.

In fact, I felt more energized after the lesson than I was before it–something that hasn’t happened since before I was diagnosed. I had honestly forgotten what that feels like.

I was able to ask my body to do things, and it responded–usually better than I expected, and much more than I have become used to.

Needless to say, I was pretty shocked and overwhelmed. I found confidence in my movement that had been missing for a very long time.

Aside from completely surprising myself, Boss seemed to be completely over the moon. I don’t think he has said he was pleased so many times in a lesson before. Considering how my previous recoveries and issues with treatments have gone, I can’t blame him–this ‘comeback’ is in a class by itself. He commented that I was dancing better than he was prepared for.

A lot of pieces that were only just swirling around in pieces before my surgery seemed to click into place while I was recovering. It’s a testament to how even when you have to take a break physically, mentally your mind may still be working. I could almost feel them all fall into place.

Of course, that’s not to say that everything was easy. It has been 6 weeks since I have really done any activity except light walking in the last 2 weeks. I was getting winded easy, and my pulse was racing. I could feel how out of shape and out of conditioning I am. It’s going to take a lot of work to get that moving forward again. While I could do full power in short segments, I know that attempting even one full routine at that power would be pretty draining. Overall, the lesson was fantastically terrible–a lot of success mixed with hard work that demonstrates there is a lot more to be done.

But its baby steps. The foundation is there. I achieve beyond my own goal in that lesson, in that after the initial ‘trial’, I was able to push myself fully through the rest of the lesson without giving up. While this lesson was hard, the next will be a little easier and I will be able to push longer and further.

It’s like remembering something from childhood–I know I used to be able to do it, but the details are fuzzy.

They are becoming more clear now.

I feel much more optimistic about the coaching on Wednesday, and my ability to get through 2 45 min lessons. The last time this coach was here, the work with him triggered a few things falling into place in standard that had been eluding me, and I am hopeful at something similar may be possible this time too. We (and by ‘we’, I mean Boss) have a good plan for things to work on, and if it is even remotely similar to last night, it’s going to be fun.

Fun. There’s a word I haven’t used in relation to dance in a long time. It feels good. Fun.

After last night’s lesson, I expected to wake up sore, especially in the surgical area, and completely tired and drained today from so much effort last night.

In another surprise, I woke up with tons of energy after sleeping better than I have in quite some time, and while I am moderately sore in the muscles I haven’t used in a long time, my belly and abdomen feel the same as they did before the lesson yesterday.

I am sooooo pleased to not have adverse after-effects! (I was pretty worried).

I expect my upper back, shoulder and leg muscles will be a little more sore tomorrow, but nothing unusual.

As a bonus to all of this, my doctor and I decided this morning to stop the anti-depressants, and see how it goes. The last 3 days I have been feeling symptoms of being over medicated again, and since I am on the lowest dose now, the next step is to stop and see how I feel in 2 weeks once my system has adjusted.  I can always go back if I need them. It’s the last of the medications I had to take to counter-act side effects of the hormone therapy.

In fact, I am now officially back to taking only the medications I was taking before I was diagnosed (actually one less, since one was a hormone supplement), one for insomnia, one for allergies. It’s another way to feel free.

Something else I haven’t mentioned which may be contributing to the increase in energy I am having–since the surgery I have lost 10 of the 40 lbs I gained during treatment, with only small diet changes on my part. Finally, it seems my body is ready to get fit again. It’s something I will need to stay on top of, but it’s the first real weight progress I have seen in over a year, and I finally feel motivated again to keep focusing on it.

In a lot of ways, my life is finally starting to resemble what it was pre-cancer, and I hope the momentum I now have continues to keep me moving forward. I am back to work next week, and looking forward to it. I have almost finished the 5th course for my masters.

And now I feel like I am ready and capable of getting back to fully dancing again.

Even more, I feel like I can really hope again.

It’s been a long time coming.

Silver Test

All done!

I passed with the comment ‘highly commended’ which is the highest comment.

Sorry I haven’t written, life seems to have been crazy lately!

I have been on call for work and people are calling a lot. We also have a major event happening next week that is filling time.  I feel like I haven’t stopped.  My phone also died so that took time to get a replacement (why is it so complicated???).

I am also strongly considering another major purchase in my life, but more to follow on that.

Back to the test, it went really well–better than I expected. VW was not too bad and Quickstep only got really questionable at the end.  All the routines went as expected.  All my comments were positive or provided great feedback, some of which was pretty expected (like work on getting my feet closed parallel in heel turns).  Overall I was told that I was at a really good level for silver, and the adjudicator even asked if I would be doing my gold test with the group working for October (which I won’t, especially since I won’t be able to dance almost all summer).  It was a surprise, but on the whole I am not in a hurry to do my next test.

So now the silver test is behind me and we are back to working out gold routines. We had a brief conversation on Monday about whether the routines should be strictly by the syllabus as necessary for testing, or more flexible and ‘showy’ for competition.  Since my focus now (one day!) is for competition, that is what we are doing.  Boss decided to adjust some of the previous routines we had done (particularly rumba), but even after that we now have solid sequences for rumba, cha cha, foxtrot, tango and quickstep.  Most of the samba and waltz are done, but Boss said he will make some adjustments to those routines.  That leave paso (probably the trickiest to choreograph) and jive.  We did go over one of the gold jive steps I will need.

My focus really from now until surgery is to get those new sequences into my feet. 3 weeks left, so should be doable.

About to finish my current course in my masters too!  Means in two weeks I should have the syllabus for the next one and hope it is flexible enough my surgery shouldn’t interfere too much. Fingers crossed.

There seem to be a lot of silver linings this week 🙂

Foxtrot Vs Waltz

I discovered an interesting thing tonight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fingers crossed it all goes well.

Routine Reviews

Sorry I have been quiet lately–It wasn’t by design!

My week last week got crazy.

Unfortunately, my work hours got reduced so that I am working half days MWF, and full days TTh.  The reason for this appears to be sleep deprivation.  The medication I was taking for insomnia seemed to be not working so I wasn’t staying in stage 3 and 4 sleep, therefore not getting refreshed in the morning.  My medication was changed and since Thursday things have been gradually getting better.  I have started dreaming again–a good sign!

My next injection is this Friday and as I get closer to it, the more it seems my hormones are fluctuating (which is likely as the previous injection wears off).  I am managing pretty well (sleep helps!), but I really hope things will settle this weekend.

But enough about health.  The challenges will continue, but it appears I am starting to stabilize.  I am also being referred to a sleep clinic which should be interesting.

Back to dance, last week we started working on our next showcase routine–a mambo!  Actually it is THE mambo we have been meaning to return to for quite some times, so it is great to get some creative juices flowing and work done on it.  It’s not much so far, just mainly a concept, but it is starting to take shape in sections.  I look forward to working on it more over the next few weeks.  No idea when we will perform it, but it may be on the docket for the fall. Its also nice to be working on a dance I don’t normally do.

Other than the mambo last week, we also did some video reviews looking at recent comps in my level and we reviewed four of the 5 routines I have so far (rumba, samba, waltz, tango, foxtrot). I find it interesting that for some reason the rumba and samba seem to be getting cemented into my head, but the standard routines just don’t want to come together.  I can remember the specific pieces we have broken down and worked on, but the sequences themselves remain elusive.

I think part of it is that I am not completely comfortable practicing the standard routines on my own.  Certainly not as comfortable as I am with the latin routines.  I think this is mainly because the standard routines travel around the ballroom, and when I am moving backwards I can’t see if someone is behind me. I would really like to get at least the sequences of steps in my feet, so I am going to have to think on a way to get past this anxiety.

My practice exercises themselves seem to be going well, and most of them are starting to stabilize and become more consistent.  One small variation I made on myself is to practice holding my promenade position as it occurred to me I have almost never done this, so it makes sense it is weaker and less consistent.

There was an interesting remark from Boss last week and I have to wonder if it might be connected to my medication change.  He remarked at the end of last week that he was finding me to be more stable in standard.  It may be a coincidence, but one advantage of my new medication is that it doesn’t stay in my system as long as the other medication did and so I am feeling less shaky and fatigued in general. Boss seems to think its a result of the work I am doing on my footwork, and perhaps it is a combination. I guess I will have to see how it goes.  It is possible I may have to switch back to the other medication due to health coverage issues, but that is still being reviewed.  It will be interesting if I do have to switch to see if it affects my stability.

One final piece of news–I am going to finally be doing my silver test in June! It’s been in the plan for a while now, but the logistics just never seemed to come together.  It’s all set now and I hope I do well.  I am a little anxious as it has been a while since I have done closed silver and as far as I know the test will be completely lead/follow.

So that is a quick catch up on what is going on with me.  Slowly and steadily working on reviewing things–not only in dance, but also with my health.  I am almost at the apparently magic 3-month mark where some of these side effects are supposed to go away, a couple weeks to go.  I don’t expect it to be instant, but hopeful for some relief.

Till then, just working to keep dancing, one day at a time.

Confusion of a different nature…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hoping for the first one.

Pushing through the Changes

First, nothing ruins a Thursday more than realizing it’s a Wednesday.

It’s been that kind of a week.

That aside, there have been some high points to the week, and it seems that the medication I on (rather medications) are continuing to have a positive effect.

On the health front, it was a bit of a difficult week. As I am still continuing to experience a lack of energy and some other side effects, the docs are doing some testing to make sure that they ARE side effects, and not symptoms of something else (thyroid is the main suspect–which runs in my family).  I met with the oncologist, and as far as cancer prevention, he is happy with where I am at with the hormone therapy, and hopes I am able to get my surgery soon as he believes that will help with the side effects.

I had a bit of an anxious couple of days.  Since the weekend, I had been feeling a lot of tenderness in my right armpit, and as I was trying to figure out where exactly it was, I felt a very tender lump.  Considering my history, any tender lump on my right side is cause for anxiety.  I was able to get it checked out, and it appears that I have a swollen lymph node which is likely a sign I am fighting a bit of an infection.  I was told that the fact that it was tender was a positive thing as a cancerous lump would not be.  Just to be sure, I will have an ultrasound to have a look, but it does already seem to be feeling less sore. It’s a load off.

Now I just wait for blood work and keep doing what I am doing.

So, what am I doing?

The posture change continues.  I can feel it starting to take more solid hold, although I had a couple of days where my back was killing me–a sign that I was indeed making changes enough to irritate it.  It has started to settle down as this becomes the ‘new normal’ and I am pleased with how easy it is getting.  Still have to stay on top of it, but it is coming.

Another change I am making is to my practice, and this is almost proving a little bit harder.  It’s easy to fall into old habits of drilling and following the structure I am used to and comfortable with.  This week though, I set the changes and have been making myself stick to them.

I am only doing the set drill intervals on Monday and Friday, and only 1 set of each standard and latin, the rest of that practice time is reviewing things from my lessons.  Wednesday, there is no drilling. I am trying to use Wednesday to dig into things I want to dig into from my lessons and work through to figure out.  It’s a ‘supervised’ open practice meaning there are other dancers around doing their own thing and Boss is in the hall for anyone who has questions.  I have given myself permission to ask if I get stuck.

I wasn’t really sure what to do tonight, which is what made it a challenge, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fill the time.  There were a list of things I wanted to go through, so I just started with that and let it go from there. Top of the list was working through the sequence of my rumba routine on my own and figuring out the steps.  I had to ask about the footwork in one step, but I was able to go through it top to bottom a few times tonight, so it is getting pretty grounded in my head, and I have a pretty good idea where the uncertainties are.

I also worked through some of the waltz sequence we have been doing in lessons.  I wanted to see how it went on my own, but I also needed to test my own limits a bit to see what I can control and where I can push myself a little.  There are a couple places that are driving me a little crazy (particularly the transition from spin turn to turning locks), but it is slowly coming.

Finally, one of the other changes I am trying to get into my body is to keep my right foot straight in standard (which for me feels twisted in).  I needed to get a better idea of how much I have to twist it in to keep it straight, which I seem to have been able to figure out.  It’s a challenge in itself as I have to try to apply it across all the moves I make with my right foot–whether a side step, forward or back–and it’s still pretty ‘foreign’ feeling.  In Waltz in particular I find lock steps almost impossible as it truly feels like one foot is facing the wall and the other is facing line of dance.  I am hoping it will get better the more I work at it and perhaps it will force some physical changes in how that foot and knee turns out. Tango seems to be the best dance for working through that (as I can check my foot alignment when I do a close).

I have made some small changes to my schedule in general, which I hope will make things more manageable on my body.  I have moved strength training to Sat, Mon, Wed, and kept dance MWF (with Latin technique on Thursday).  I am hoping by spreading things out a bit more at the end of the week, it will help distribute my energy a bit better and keep me from getting exhausted.

The only other thing that is on my mind is that I still don’t have a date for my hysterectomy.  I was called today and offered a date for the revisions and reconstruction still needed from the mastectomies and reconstruction, but it was for mid-June and I really don’t know how close together the two surgeries can be.  I also am tied up with work until at least June 22, so all surgeries need to be after then.  They are looking at doing the reconstruction work in July now, but again, it depends on the other surgery.  If I don’t hear about a date tomorrow I plan to call as pretty much my entire life has to be scheduled around the hysterectomy and its recovery.

Until then, I will just keep working through the changes.

Standard trials

Yay, a dance post!

It won’t be a long one, but I wanted to post a little bit about dance since I have been quite ‘gloom and doom’ lately.

I had a coaching lesson in standard yesterday that was quite interesting.  The coach I was working with comes from a background of thought and approach in dance that is quite different from what I am used to. The approach certainly simplifies things in comparison to others.

We focused mainly on foxtrot and on the body movement through foxtrot steps.  We talked a little about position, but mainly it was about connection, smoothing the steps and moving through them.

The biggest difference was mainly in what I was thinking about when we were dancing.  I wasn’t thinking about my hands, arms, or hips.  I was more focused on upper body–chest and shoulder blades–and didn’t even really realize it until I thought about it some after the lesson.  We covered a few different specific steps in my routines to see what differences there were in the approach and it was pretty interesting.  It was the same…and yet not.

I haven’t worked with a male coach in standard before, so it was interesting to get that perspective.  My mind is still trying to process all the information, but Boss took lots of notes which he said he would share with me.

I started my new medication yesterday and for a little while, I did feel better–thankfully that lasted through the lessons.  My head felt more clear and able to process.  Unfortunately, by about 7 pm my system seemed to crash and I got really overwhelmed.  I couldn’t finish practice because couldn’t concentrate anymore and nothing made I was doing made sense and that led to a panic attack.  I think in general my system got over-stimulated, and since I had just started the medication there is far too little in my system to sustain any sort of effects.

I can’t say if I feel better or worse today, but perhaps a little more clear-headed.  I am just trying to give the time spent with the coach yesterday time to process as Boss asked me to try to describe and/or replicate what I was doing for my lesson on Monday.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to really do that in a way that will be meaningful to Boss, but I will try. Or at least try not to let it overwhelm me.

Baby steps to try and get past this latest health hiccup.  More coaching with a different coach in smooth and latin later this week.

Competing Criteria

You would think that choosing a competition to go to would be a pretty straight-forward thing.

Apparently not.

Now that I have my masters residency behind me, I am looking to decide on competitions to give me something concrete to focus on.  What I have discovered is that because my focus for competing (when I was sick it was more about just getting on the floor) has shifted, deciding on a competition is not as simple as it was before.  A big part of that problem is that while I know my focus in competing has shifted, I am not quite sure what it has shifted to.

As a pro/am student, when choosing competitions it is easy to focus on the bottom line–what can I afford, what is the best value for my money and when can I afford it.  I feel like that is a big part of what has been driving my decisions for competitions.

But the question I would like to be asking first is: What is the best value for my dancing?

And that is harder to nail down.  Right now, I am doing a lot of shifting and rebuilding.  I am changing levels and that means learning new routines.  I want to focus more on closed events, but at the same time I don’t want to disregard the open events so we are also looking to work with a choreographer to develop open routines.  I am trying to rebuild the strength and fitness I lost while sick, while at the same time (hopefully) also improving my technique and overall dancing.

When looking at where to compete right now, the biggest issue is that Boss and I haven’t really set any competition goals.  We seem to be going about it backwards.  We are looking at competitions, and then setting goals for them.  I think I would rather look at what I want to achieve from a competition and then see what competition will fit that goal–and still be affordable.

One of the biggest issues with this right now is that we are heading into summer when competition are few and far between.  On top of this, competing in the US is pretty much off the table with the increasing prices there and the exchange rate.  Not to mention the political climate and travel unpredictability.

While I may be ready to put routines on the floor this summer, there really isn’t a competitive opportunity to do that.  That will mean shifting the focus a bit and looking either longer term, or shorter term.  Do I try to do a comp at the end of June, or do I wait and do two in the fall?  If I do one in June, my routines aren’t likely to be very polished and it would be basically trialing them at the competition.  How much do I want to spend on doing that?  Do I want to use most of my competing budget to attend a competition (which would be great), with routines that aren’t well polished and not likely to be competitive?  Or would it be better to find a more local competition with smaller events to get those routines on the floor before going out against the ‘big dogs’.

Part of this is that as much as I like to support the local competitions, I inevitably end up competing against the same people, getting the same results, being seen by the same judges.  The pro/am portion of these competitions is always small without much variety.  The same 3 teachers bring out the same 2-3 students in multiple events.  I have become quite disenchanted with that.  I really want to branch out and get on the floor in a new area against new people I don’t usually compete against.

But again, it brings me back to the question–when dance-wise is the best time to do this so that the opportunity is not wasted due to lack of preparation time?  It’s one thing to feel ‘ready’.  It’s another to not have routines or be able to complete a full round on the floor.

Whatever I decide, the one thing I need to be sure of is that it is a decision I can accept.  If not, I will only resent it and that is not good for me or my dancing.  It’s a lot to think on, but the only rush is my desire to have a firm goal to focus on.

Competing, especially pro/am is an investment and as such takes a lot of thought and consideration.  But it is important to remember that it is not just an investment of money–it is also an investment of time, practice, discipline, motivation and personal well-being.

The trick is to figure out what meets the value for all those criteria.

Topsy-Turvy Day

My day got a little upsidedown today.

I am on vacation from work until Wednesday and because it is a provincial holiday the hall where Boss usually teaches was closed.  This meant that I had dance in the morning and did my strength workout in the evening.

In general it’s been a good day.  I am making myself take a break from school as well as work as all my pre-residency papers are done and I only have a couple of readings to do before Monday.  That is helping me relax some.

Thank you to those who read my post yesterday. A few people reached out in various ways and it was great to hear from you! A wiseman added a further perspective to the situation here–the social dancers tend to find me intimidating because I do technique (remember, this is a social dance community where everyone learns step sequences, but not much technique), and the competitor dancers see me as someone who has only been dancing for 2 years–most of it while sick–because that is when they started seeing me in the community.  Very few of them understand that I was dancing 4 years before they met me and I got sick. It’s bit of an ‘island mentality’ here to treat people as though they sprung into the society with no background and started life only when they arrived–especially if they are under 50.  I have encountered this in pockets all over the community–not just with dancers.

That aside, today was a good day–both for dancing and strength training.

For dance, we did a quick review of some of my exercises based on the feedback I gave Boss last week, then focused into standard.  We received a couple amazing reviews of the videos of our smooth routines from the pro who choreographed them and the interesting thing about smooth is that pointers from it also tend to apply to standard and latin.  One of the points she made was about my position and pointed out that I have a habit of ‘breaking’ my neck line.  This has me thinking about that and working to differentiate between when my head is ‘back’ and when it is ‘back and up’.

We also did some work on standard position and started taking some of the static things we have been doing and trying them in basic steps.  It’s going to take a lot of work, but doing so already has my mind thinking and processing and that is a good sign.

For strength training, I started the new program and I am a little relieved that it takes exactly 1 hour (there was concern from my trainer it would be too long).  I started with the cardio sequence Boss designed and that worked out really well.  It certainly got my heartrate up (my fitbit recorded a high of 170) and I like moving through the different exercises–some of which I haven’t done in a while.  It even incorporates 3-step turns (which when done over 2 minutes is a lot of turning!).

The strength training also brings back some exercises I haven’t done in a while (like pushups), but also adds some new ones.  It’s an interesting combination.

One thing that is making me a little nervous is that Friday morning bright and far too early, I have to go do a practice run of the PT test so that physio and the rehab specialist can see what it is I need to prepare for it.  I haven’t done it since before I was sick and I weigh 20lbs more than I did then and I have lost a lot of strength.  Physio told me to go in with no expectations and just see how it goes, so that is what I am going to try to do.  I just hope I don’t flare up my back or knees too much.

Well, that is a good summary of my day.  I am still giving a lot of thought to dance, but I think that for now while I am still recovering and doing school I am just going to keep doing my own thing.

Really, that’s all that I can do.

Bringing it together

I am a little proud of myself this week.

I was successful in balancing work, school, dance, practice and strength training.  And while I was tired by the end of the week, I was not exhausted, which is a huge step forward for me.

I was purposely pushing myself as I want to see where my limits are now.  An interesting development is that my knees, which have been giving me a lot of grief for about 6 months now, are starting to settle down.  The work I am doing to strengthen them and figure out what movements they like and don’t like seems to be paying off.  Thankfully, they really seem to like my dance exercises.  I was even able to go up and down stairs yesterday without a lot of pain.

At my lesson yesterday, we were able to sort through the rest of the exercises I will do in practice, and a program for doing them.  I really like the way the exercises are organized and it is getting back to the basics again, which I have been wanting to do for a while to rebuild some of the skills I have lost.

At the end of the lesson, we started working on one of the new steps for gold in samba: promenade runs.  I have done them before, but not in this level of detail and I love how broken down it is.  We are putting the steps together with the bounce action and core movements.  I am looking forward to working on it more next week.

The other highlight of my week was finally getting my posting message that returns me from the support unit to a substantial position within my trade.  It is the final step in returning me back to ‘full work’, and signifies that my period of medical issues has officially ended.

I am taking it easy this weekend and working to get a head a little on school, before taking time to enjoy the superbowl with friends.

I hope your weekend is just as well!