Hey guys! Thank you so much for all the feedback about the name of this blog. I sincerely appreciate all the comments and suggestions. I am still a little bit “in the question” around what I should call this blog so I have a little experiment that I’m going to conduct for the next week to give myself time to get clear on what the name means to me as it is, to try on a new possible name for size (haha), or to potentially land upon the perfect completely new name.
I believe that words are powerful. And as I’m in the practice and process of transformation, both inside and out, it makes sense to me that as I evolve, things in my life will also evolve. I want my blog to support me in this process and I am currently ready to let go of the story I’ve been replaying in my mind, heart, and body, the one in which I live as though I am a fat person, like that’s the most important part of who I am. I’m ready to let go of the part of the story where my personality is so wrapped up in claiming this physicality as my identity. As I let it go, it is a little death. And it creates the space simply be who I am rather than make up a story about it.
So I’ve been doing some work around this idea of the story that was imprinted upon my psyche that I claimed as my identity, and I’ve engaged in a process where I can identify where this may come from. Once seeing that, I can then choose a quality to practice being. That may sound a bit confusing so here’s an example of what I mean: I did this work previously some years ago and discovered that I was run by the need to be liked. I’d compromise myself, even betray myself, not speak up for myself, and so forth all because I needed people to like me. Of course, this rarely created the desired effect. In fact, this “act” I engaged in pushed people away. Yet it came from a deep need in me, so I don’t blame myself for operating this way back then. I didn’t know better and I didn’t have the tools to cope better. I was pretty much doing it unconsciously. However, once I discovered this and became aware of how it was affecting my life, I gained the power of choice around it. I could decide that I was more committed to being an honest, authentic woman of integrity and choose different. I could then ask myself, “How would an honest, authentic woman of integrity act in this situation?” Then, I could “show up” in my life that way. I would practice recognizing when I was about to engage in people-pleasing behavior and then I’d practice being different – being honest, and authentic, and in integrity. Or I’d notice when I’d fallen into the old pattern and ask myself what I could do differently the next opportunity. I got better and better over time – and it took some time – and a bunch of practice. It also went from being scary and overwhelming (I mean in my mind being this way could lead to total rejection and abandonment) to being second nature. I wouldn’t say I’ve 100% let go of that need, but I will say I am much more in choice around it.
Okay, so anyways, the quality I’ve landed upon that I think would help me most to move forward in my life right now is PRECIOUS.
Why precious, you may ask. Well, here’s one of my “acts:” I act really capable, even over-achieving because I want to be seen, loved, valued, and acknowledged. Well, that’s like saying to my subconscious that I’m only worth something because of what I do, what service I can perform, or what value I can add to the life of others. I think it comes from a need to be seen as important or significant or that I matter so that I can feel validated that I have a right to exist. That’s hogwash in reality but my subconscious totally buys into it. I mean, we all have the right to exist because we do exist! Right? Anyways, this “act” is not necessarily good, bad, right, or wrong, and it really serves me in come contexts, like at work. However, it doesn’t serve me in other aspects of my life, because I am not in the state of knowing and believing in my bones, on a heart level, that I’m loveable and precious just because I’m me. And because of that, I only give myself love when I “do what I’m supposed to be doing.” This is especially in the context of diet and exercise. And it also results in my withholding love from myself which is just mean. It doesn’t serve me.
The word PRECIOUS is defined as: of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly, a term of address to a beloved person, highly esteemed for some spiritual, non-material, or moral quality, cherished.
I think that works perfectly to shift my focus. So my challenge is to incorporate a practice of treating myself as a precious person in my daily life. It certainly works in the context of nourishing my body properly and exercising it excellently, while doing it in an encouraging and loving manner – without comparison to the journey of others, and with a dose of grace. It becomes a process of how I’m being rather than on what I’m doing.
Also, being PRECIOUS has nothing to do with how I look, how much I weigh, how well I dance – which are all things I’ve strongly identified with as who I am, and with the persona of this blog. In reality, these features are only a tiny part of who I am, of who any human being is. Ergo, as I am doing the inner work to let go of this junk, and create a new, more evolved, enlightened, and expansive self, I thought perhaps changing the name of the blog was something that could support me. Lord knows I could stand to step into more than one quality in my life. I don’t like using Precious for the title of this blog but since I do use the words in the title to this blog quite a bit via social networks and in person, and since I know that repetition is a powerful tool for change, a new name might be just the ticket to ease me into another aspect my new self that I’d like to call forth.
Which reminds me of something Damir said. Oh yes, we are still dancing. And today was another wonderful lesson…more on that later. Anyways, he said to me, “Stefanie, you are just converting physical size into energetic size.” In other words, I’ve used my physical body as a way to claim my space in this world. Now the process is to claim my space on the invisible plane. His point was that I’ll still be “big” but in a totally different way, a non-physical way.
So in some ways, the name “Biggest Girl In The Ballroom” still fits. It could fit in the context I just mentioned from the conversation with Damir.
Other comments from you guys that I got were:
Because you’re about owning your place and your space – not about size – and because people do know the blog name, maybe go with something that’s a variation of it so you don’t totally lose brand identity?
So… the reason I came across your blog is because I noticed that there weren’t really any fat chicks in the dance studio and I felt a little bit out of sorts… “Is this really for me?” “Why am I the only one?” I am grateful to have come across your blog because it was encouraging to me that even if there are only TWO starfish in the sea, at least I wasn’t alone. I have done some growing since I started following you… and you have too. Biggest girl in the ballroom isn’t about size for me any more… it’s about putting on your big girl panties and accepting who you are for what you are and accepting others too. It’s about keeping on keeping on, even when you want to give up. Due to an injury, I’m no longer able to dance, but I still keep up with you. You’re not the size you once were… life changes. BUT the lesson you teach seems to me to be about being a big girl even when the world tries to make you feel small.
We think keep the domain name the same so you don’t lose any readers or followers. And Then Making it “The (formerly in handwriting font with an up arrow) Biggest Girl in the Ballroom”. We think will imply the journey and the success you have made of it. All of the best with whatever you decide.
I agree about the larger meaning of being Big. I was also thinking about being a Big Girl (in the being responsible for oneself idea) and also re: not losing your branding. Since comparison is the least interesting and least important part, how about “Big Girl in The Ballroom”?
Biggest isn’t just about weight. It’s about power. It’s about presence. It’s about an indomitable spirit. Why wouldn’t you want to be the biggest girl in the ballroom?
I think the biggest girl in the ballroom’s meaning can morph and change regardless of your size. Biggest can mean so many different things. My opinion is it is perfect just as it is.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it?! I feel so blessed to have this type of engagement with you! It’s helped me re-frame my thinking about this issue and I appreciate it very much.
So here’s what I’ve settled on; I’m going to try on a potential name for one week. I want to see how it feels. I want you to see how it feels to you and let me know what you think. I chose this new name because it encompasses a lot of what the people above were saying, including dropping the comparison game, which I think is especially important for me. I’m not 100% sure just yet and still open to feedback, and, at the same time, I want to create some forward movement on this so this seemed like a great step to take. I will make my final decision by next Thursday so make sure to make your thoughts known urgently. All the input thus far has helped me immensely to get more clear on what I want to create. And, yes, this is ultimately my decision.
The name I’m trying on is “Big Girl In The Ballroom”
Let’s see how it goes 🙂 And Lisa, you may just be the winner of a $25 gift card 🙂 You’ll know by next Thursday.
Alrighty, now that that’s all taken care of, I want to share with you what happened on my lesson today. I think I should talk a little bit about dancing here too! lol.
So as much as I sometimes miss Ivan, I so totally trust the teachings I’m getting from Damir at this time. My experience of it thus far is becoming more aware of my body on a more detailed level and being present in neglected areas. Basic areas, like feet and knees. We haven’t really even made it up to lats and arms just yet and that’s totally okay. When I get results like I got today, I’m grateful about going so slowly.
Damir said something pretty profound today that teaching dance was his calling. It’s not a job, it’s not even a vocation. He’s convinced he could do anything he’d want to do in this world as a profession. Dance didn’t come easy to Damir. He searched for answers for a very long time and ended up having to find them for himself. Even though he had many instructors and coaches that influenced him, his process, from how he describes it, was him having to go so slowly in every step and breaking it down minutely and focusing just on one body part for months at a time. Because he went through this process, he’s now able to see things in others’ bodies – alignment, energy, where their focus is. He’s also able to adapt his language in such a way that his students understand clearly what he is asking of them – at least that’s been my experience.
It’s like, I’ve wanted these same answers. I’ve known that my dancing didn’t look like it potentially could and all the answers I got were from the outside in – making things happen. God bless all my instructors – they gave me the information I was ready for, that I could handle, and/or to the best of their personal understanding. However, now I’m being coached from the inside out and it is a total game changer.
It’s also a lot more physical work! I feel that my body will be changing soon simply from the new method from which I’m approaching dance. It takes a lot more focus and energy and is based a ton on creating oppositions internally in the body. It’s awesome and it ain’t easy.
Anyways, Damir focuses on a very practical method for dancing, the thought being that if you have a structure to follow, no matter what your emotional state or how your body is feeling on any particular day, you can use this structure to discover what adjustments might need to be made to still perform at an excellent level, especially in the context of a competition.
And this structure system begins with the feet. If I thought I used my feet before, I was wrong. They are experiencing an entirely new level of conditioning.
We are just now beginning to focus on the knees. Being the second major joint in the leg, they affect a lot of things. Hips are now moving as a result of the movements in my feet and knees, rather than actively “trying” to make my hips move.
I’m starting to see where the true causes of movement stem from, which is internal and not always obvious, rather than just seeing the end result, which I think a lot of us gravitate toward trying to emulate. Both ways of approaching movement can be helpful in different contexts, by my personal dance education has been deficient in the information Damir is sharing with me.
It’s pretty wonderful. Sometimes I may feel like I’m not doing anything on our lessons, that I’ve regressed as a dancer, or that we’re just talking too much! Then there are moments like today and I realize that all my previous work has been valuable. I realize that all the work I’ve done laid some foundation and that with new tiny bytes of information, new small puzzle pieces of data that I’ve not been aware of now being presented, things can shift dramatically and quickly in my dancing.
So we were working on the knees, just doing 1,2,cha cha cha, in place and focusing on really stretching the space between the knees as much as possible – like doing it with an imaginary resistance band around them. And it was hard work! It engaged more muscles, but was controlled, and it caused proper alignment, and made me pull up in my abdomen, there were all sorts of great results from focusing on this particular aspect. I’m learning how to utilize internal resistance, opposition, and elasticity to create a new quality of movement with stability and control.
So then Damir invited me to use this skill I’d just started practicing in Rumba walks. Oh. My. God. For the first time in my life Rumba walks felt GOOD!
Some iterations were better than others but that doesn’t matter. I had a few really quality ones. I got the feeling in my body. It felt like my standing leg was pulling my moving leg forward, instead of the other way around. I was (mostly) on balance. It just felt “right,” not so forced.
I had a flashback to Inna’s class. We’d practiced a lot of Rumba walks in there. And her style is more aggressive in terms of coaching us to step big, to use big arms, and most of all, to push forward. This could work great for some students. For me, I always felt I was forcing this and it was taking way more effort than it should if I was moving ergonomically or biomechanically correct. But I could never figure out how to do that from the language and demonstrations being used. With Damir, I’m focusing on very different things: the back of my neck and head, staying on my standing leg as long as possible, planting it into the ground and allowing the elastic resistance between my knees to pull the walking leg forward under my body, keeping my hips under my ribs, and even a little in compressing my lats and pushing my chest forward (but that’s pretty advanced for me right now). And it freakin’ feels better, way better, totally-different-breakthrough better, like I’m never going to dance the same way again (well, yeah, I may have some muscle memory to overcome) but now that I’ve had this visceral experience, I could never truly go completely back. Things will never quite be the same.
It gives me hope that possibly all my dancing could feel this good. It’s showing me I have things in my body ready from the work I’ve previously done to jump to a new level of quality with just the next right bit of information and practice. It has been a joyful, fun process, for the most part, and although I have some urgency about my goals, I’ve also surrendered to trusting the process being laid before me by my new coach. All will unfold in it’s proper time. I fully trust Damir has my best interests at heart. In fact, I feel so incredibly lucky to work with him, even more so because he told me that he hasn’t taken a new student in years and he’s totally booked with the students he has now. I’m one lucky ducky he fit me in and I’m going to make the absolute most of my time with him.
Probably the greatest gift Damir has given me is the freedom to be me without expectations, both around my body and my dancing. I always felt such pressure with Ivan, as well as his frustration and disappointment. With Damir, I feel like he believes in me, like he believes in all his students, 100%. He also believes that it’s up to the student to determine how far they really want to go with this dancing thing, and how fast. It’s so great to be given this responsibility. He’s totally just there to support me in my process. It’s a precious gift of his time, attention, presence, information, guidance, and nurturing. I’ve been able to stop beating myself up so much in this space, as well as to embrace the work required. I’ve also become less fearful about making mistakes and not being perfect. He’s helped me define the game I’m playing, and it’s one of personal excellence rather than comparison, authenticity rather than staged performance, deliberate internal presence rather than external forcing, one of groundedness rather than an emotional roller coaster. He’s supporting me to become the excellent, authentic, present, consistent, grounded dancer I know I can be. And at the same time, he places no need on me to be anything different than what I am.
I was so lit up about how excellent my lesson turned out today, that I totally thought, “I have to write a blog about this!” And that was cool because it’s been a while since I’ve felt that way. I think perhaps it’s because I’ve been in transition and thus the blog has been too. The blog is going to evolve right alongside with me. I did start this blog and journey years ago, and I’m not the person I was back then either. Sometimes it’s okay to let old identities die and integrate their experience into the whole. I feel like who I was cannot exist in the same space of who I am now, just like the partnership I had with Ivan could no longer live on once shifts had been made.
So life looks different now and probably the blog will too. I’m excited to see where the journey leads me.
You are a true inspiration! If your dancing is anything like your writing, you are destined for great things in ballroom. So much of what you express is universal to students of ballroom dance, and it’s affirming to have someone articulate the doubts, the struggles and the achievements. Thank you for being our voice. Well done, Stephanie.
Wow, thanks Diane! I receive that. It’s my pleasure.
Nice post! Perfect post.
Hey Stef! I’m so excited about the amazing work you’ve been doing, and I’m looking forward to hearing you talk more about it!
If you’re in the mood for something fun and silly, I am doing a feature at my blog titled, “What’s in your dance bag?” I’d love to feature you as a guest, if you wouldn’t mind sharing some of the stuff that has made its way into permanent residence in your dance bag.
It’s here: https://againstlineofdance.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/whats-in-your-dance-bag/
Sending you warm wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Katie! I’d love to participate! Thanks for thinking of me 😀
Yay!! If you could get me a post and (fingers crossed!) a picture sometime in the next two weeks, that would be AMAZING! (Send me an email anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk more specifics.) Thank you SO much for agreeing to take part – super looking forward to it!
Hi Stef! I’ve been following your blog for a while. I hope you are doing well and getting what you hope for in your dance journey….however, I have to say, you don’t show much interest in your blog, you don’t post updates and it’s disappointing. We want to hear about your journey, and to get about 4 blog updates in a year is a disservice to your followers…I hope you can find your energy and fire and post more often….
Corrine! My dear, thank you so much for caring enough to tell me this feedback.
To me, this means that I matter enough that you care about me and what happens in my life. And, I need l totally need to get my butt in gear because 4 updates a year doesn’t cut it! I know, right!? I would be pissed too.
To be honest, I have been in a funk.
And, I am still dancing.
l have not moved forward with my claim/desire to drop significant weight, and thus I feel like a failure. I feel stagnant and stuck. I am unsure of what to share with my “audience.” I haven’t gained, but hell, I am still clinically obese and to me, that sucks, is unacceptable. Tough to swallow.
Probably, this exact experience/struggle is what they’d want to hear.
Perhaps you are right. It is time for me to share my entire experience.
Thanks again for caring enough to comment and prod me into action.
You are the Best!
My only other question is, can I suppot you? What does that support look like? Lmk.
PS New post to come soon
Hi Stef. I’ve got a slightly different take on the post above. You’ve graciously chosen to share your life with a whole lot of people who only know you through this blog. That is a hard thing to do and keep doing and you owe nobody periodic updates. It is your life and if you decide that there isn’t anything worth sharing or that you need a break, then so be it. You shouldn’t be worried about “disappointing” some random follower or feel obligated to post just because it has been awhile. I think the best posts come not from forcing yourself to do it but when a topic or life event just happens and you know it needs to be shared.
On the weight loss thing, I know how that feels to struggle with it. I think some of us just got the short end of the stick when it comes to genetics and it just makes it that much harder for us. I know you have tried several things and this will not be much comfort but it may require some more radical life style changes and totally giving up certain things. You may already be there but as someone who came through that tunnel, I do believe there is some plan/system/lifestyle that will work for everyone. Some of us just need to work much harder to find it and maintain it.
You are always positive and inspiring and I feel your struggle and wish you nothing but success. I do hope you continue to share with the rest of us but please do it because YOU want to not because you feel obligated to.
Wishing you the best!
Thanks D_Wall! I appreciate your point of view and feedback. Thank you so much for the unconditional support. I agree that this blog is not about obligation or a fear of “disappointing” others, but rather a place to share authentically as inspiration dictates. At the same time, I’ve been a bit slack about it. There have been times I have thought, I should totally write about what happened on my lesson today! And then I don’t. Kind of that Funk I was mentioning above rearing its ugly head. Sometimes it takes a prod to take action. Sometimes I just need to quit stewing in my muck. In any case, the dream continues. The dancing continues. The blog will continue, and not on any particular schedule. 😀 Thanks again for caring enough to share your thoughts. It means a lot.