What’s Up Pussycat?


Hello there! Yes, I’m still alive. It’s just that I guess I needed a break. I didn’t even know I needed a break but I just sort of took one and wondered to myself, “Self. What the hell is wrong with me?” Because I didn’t dance at all for an entire week – no ballet, no group ballroom classes, and not even any private lessons with my favorite Bulgarian. But I guess I just needed it. It included a break from the gym and from the diet – but not that I went crazy or anything, I just wasn’t as focused or on a particular plan.

Well anyways, the break is over. I told myself, “Self. You have until Monday. Do what you like and know that Monday we begin anew with the routine.” And so it was. I’m back on the eating plan, back to my gym workouts with the trainer and cardio afterwards, back to ballet, back to ballroom group, back to working out with my trainer, and best of all back to dancing with Ivan.

God bless him, Ivan must have gotten a little worried. Which is awesome cause he cares. But I’m sure it must be a little alarming when your student, who normally and regularly takes multiple lessons a week stops coming at all. He called me Tuesday last and I told him that I’d probably not even be able to fit a lesson into my schedule until Thursday or later, and he was like, “It’s good, it’s good! Eat. Drink. Rest. Fill yourself up with whatever you need to fill up with.” And it was when he said that, that I realized I needed a break and was taking one. I just wanted, I told him, to come back with good clear and focused energy. And I knew I wouldn’t have been in a good space to work if I had come in last week.

So Thursday came and went and then on Friday I called him to make an appointment for a double lesson on Saturday. We missed each other and left messages and his said “I am so happy for you to coming. But be prepared to tell me what happened because I. Want. To. Know.”

I thought, “Uh oh! There isn’t anything to tell! What is he expecting?” And I thought maybe he thought I was going to quit or something, but really, no drama (except for the drama in my head!). I just needed a break.

So when I showed up on Saturday, we hugged and it was great to see him. “Hello!!” I said.

“Hello matzai!!” he said.

“Huh?” I said.

“It’s a cat, but like a nice cat,” he replied. And we began.

So that photo at the top of the post is part of what happened on the lesson. You can’t plan these things, I tell you! We were working on finding some tricks that might work for a Bolero – the only open American Rhythm dance we have left to choreograph – and this just kind of happened. I’m pretty flexible (and I always think, gosh, I bet I sure could be really flexible if I actually stretched ;/) and we were messing around and this happened. And Marieta, who is never present when we have lessons was there and able to take a photo. And Ivan was like, “I love it! Perfect! No one is doing this! It is your signature move! I am thinking I know everything about you but I know nothing! What other surprises you have? So good you taking a break! You should taking a break more often!”

And I got excited thinking that I could have a “signature move.” Which is pretty awesome. And excited that Ivan was excited and seemed so happy I could do this.

Because it’s nice to feel like there is something special I can do when most times when I compare myself to other dancers I fall so short, and because I did get the days off and will be going to Las Vegas in December for Holiday Ball. And we are going to roll out these new routines, open routines, and I’m pretty nervous about it. But it is also exciting because even though I harbor much trepidation, Ivan was like, yeah, lets do it. Let’s make these open routines and dance open scholarship, which let me tell you is way, way, way out of my comfort zone! And this will be at a bigger comp than I’ve ever done, which already gave me an anxiety dream.

When I realized that I got the days off work and suddenly going to a comp in a little over a month became real, I dreamt that I was late to the ballroom and that I couldn’t get my shoes on. In fact, I was putting them on in the middle of the dance floor! Everything stopped. Everyone was waiting for me…annoyed! Ivan was so mad at me for being so late and unprepared that once I finally got my heels fastened, and the music started, he danced with me while drinking an iced coffee from Starbucks and while talking on his cellphone! I got miffed and in retaliation I used all my body weight to pull on him during some dips so it was very difficult for him to not fall. Oy vey!

Anyways, back in the real world, Saturday we had a good lesson and we danced the next two days as well. We are getting more comfortable with the Rumba and Swing, and we already had a Mambo and Cha Cha, so although we have lots of practicing and cleaning up to do, all that is left is the Bolero. And then on Tuesday I didn’t have a lesson because I had my trainer at the gym in the morning and Inna in the evening and I missed my marsol (that’s booger in Bulgarian). And he told me he’d be gone until Sunday because he and Marieta will be dancing at Hollywood this Saturday so I was lamenting the fact that it would be a week before we could practice again. By the way, you can watch them dance, and all your buddies too, on livestream via ParadigmDVD – I will be putting it on my big tv in the rec room and having people over to watch – Inna and Artem will be dancing as well.

Anyways, I guess plans changed because now Marieta has already gone to do hair and make up but Ivan’s not going until Friday so I had another lesson tonight which was great and also I have trust issues. And I’m worried about my balance and doing all these new moves and spins and whips and God-knows-what, and I’m worried about my cardio capacity, and I’m worried about looking the same and not being any smaller, and if Ivan’s gonna catch me on these complex steps when I’m flinging my body hither and thither, and oh my goodness my brain is on overdrive. And the weird thing was, Ivan was probably the most cool, calm and collected I’ve ever seen him. He wasn’t berating me about my balance, though he did point it out at a few spots. And he didn’t get mad at me for screwing things up or being tired. Instead he was all, this is normal. We just need to practice, do the cardio and it will fall into place. And he just seems so sure about it. And he told me, “You so easy to doubting yourself, to being discouraged.” And he is right.

It’s so easy to think all the negative thoughts and wish I were different than I am in this moment. But I’m not.

So I took in his feedback and we danced and when the lesson was over, and we walked outside to our cars, he offered me his elbow as if to escort me. And it was just such a lighthearted, carefree, and kind gesture. He said, “See, even off the dance floor, we still dancing.” It made me smile.

So tonight, feeling like I’m on the right track with the diet and exercise thing (even if the changes are seemingly infinitismal and slower than a glacier), and even the dancing is heading in the right trajectory, I decided to take an action to help move myself to the next level. I’m a big believer in symbols and metaphors. I believe that what happens in life happens on the dancefloor and vice versa. And so, I’ve been hemming and hawing over getting a new pair of heels. I’ve wanted another pair of Dance Naturals for a few years now. And after more deliberation tonight, I finally ordered a new pair. To me they symbolize the dancer I’m becoming. They represent a new, much higher level of excellence to strive for. And I figured, since they are a symbol and all, and the point of getting them is to grow, well, I went out of my comfort zone and got 3 inch heels. Normally I dance in 2.5 inches. So in my mind, I’m setting myself for some challenges that will stretch me, but ultimately that will make me a stronger and more disciplined and more beautiful dancer.

So it turns out “matzai” means pussycat, which I suppose is a cat, but a nice cat 🙂 good job, Ivan. And that’s what’s up with this pussycat for now.

13 thoughts on “What’s Up Pussycat?

  1. RO says:

    Nothing wrong with taking a break! Sometimes that’s all we need to continue going strong.
    Also: Hello???? What an awesome picture!! So jealous of your flexibility…

    • loveablestef says:

      Yes, sometimes a break is good. Also good, I am not beating myself up for taking one and I got right back on track. I only wish I were more aware of when I need one so I can consciously take it and plan for it. I was halfway through it before I realized what I was doing! And thanks!!

  2. bgballroom says:

    As my physio is always reminding me, we are athletes now, Stef. And athletes need breaks to avoid mental and physical breakdowns. Good for you to have some time off!

    I have been showing that photo to everyone and they all are in awe 🙂 Truly amazing!

    • loveablestef says:

      Good food for thought here. I always feel like I need to go full speed all the time unless I am on a planned vacation. In our society I think that is pretty common. Glad people are enjoying the picture! How cool is that?!

  3. elise says:

    Holy cow you are flexible! I can’t do that.

    • loveablestef says:

      We all have our weaknesses and strengths and I think I tend to magnify those aspects I think I lack. I bet there are a few things you can do that would befuddle me! That is what I love about ballroom – you can emphasize your strengths whereas in ballet you try to conform. Not that there isn’t some of that in ballroom too, but I think there is more opportunity for individualized self-expression. I guess this is one aspect of me to show off! Thanks for noticing 🙂

  4. Shonnie says:

    Good job girly! Love that move you have going there.

  5. Jeni says:

    So proud of you Stef!

  6. Anonymous Lurker says:

    I’m so glad you’re starting to get more comfortable with seizing on your strengths…because I keep looking at that photo and thinking, “Damn!” Please keep providing us with more things to aspire to. 🙂

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