Guest Post: First Showcase Experience

Yes, yes! I know!  I’ve been a very irresponsible blog keeper, especially in light of having gone to Ohio Star Ball.  And, it’s coming.  In the meantime, please enjoy this amazing guest post from my friend Mary Beth.  She is courageous, an amazing listener, an authentic friend, and a dancer!


In June I told Stefanie my deepest, darkest secret and my whole life changed. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s rewind a bit.

For years I’ve had a very specific image of myself as a person. I am logical, rational, and very, very left-brained. I avoid feelings and emotions like the plague. My life is ruled by organization, order, and reason. I never thought that artistic or creative pursuits were available to me while all along harboring this secret dream. This dream remained a secret because I knew (or at least told myself that I knew) that I could never be what I wanted to be. I have the wrong body type; I’m not in shape enough; I don’t want people looking at and judging me. My internal critic kept my dream hidden.

But let’s get back to June. The conversation with Stefanie started out innocently enough. We had met each other the week before at a seminar. We were chatting on the phone when she asked me the question that changed my life and brought my secret out into the open, “What have you given up on because your weight?” The question caught me off guard and without thinking I blurted out, “I’ve always wanted to dance and I’ve been looking for a hip hop class but I can’t find a place I would feel comfortable.” She then asked me if I’d ever considered partner dancing to which I quickly responded No! (All the while thinking…that’s WAY too far out of my comfort zone…I had just admitted this huge secret for goodness sake…what more did she want from me!?!!!)

She persisted however and suggested that I try a ballroom studio she knew of that she thought would be a good fit. Once again, against what I thought I knew about myself, I said sure. The next day I got a text from her telling me that I had a lesson on Friday.

With significant apprehension, I showed up on Friday and three times the week after. And another three times the week after that. Before I knew it, I had signed up for lessons and dancing became the best part of my week. I wasn’t graceful or proficient or coordinated and I was having a fantastic time!

One August day, I walked into the studio. Stefanie was just finishing up her lesson and she and my instructor “informed” me that I would be doing the studio’s showcase in October. I’m not going to lie, it took some convincing and in the end I took the confidence that they had in me that I could do it and said yes. Since my secret was now out, I began telling everyone of my initial hip hop dreams and my instructor and I decided to perform a tango/hip hop mash-up.

The showcase got moved to December (thank God!) and was just a few weeks ago. It was finally our turn and to be honest with you I don’t remember too much of it. What I do clearly remember is messing up in the middle of the tango part, making a face about it and then thinking, “I bet if I hadn’t made that face few people would have noticed.” I also remember my pants almost falling down during our hip hop part, which I only discovered as my hand brushed my leg and I thought, “I should be feeling pants right now!” As the cliché goes, the show must go on, so I hiked up my pants and kept right on going.

Despite the mistakes and wardrobe malfunction, to be honest, what I remember most from that night are my feelings. I remember feeling totally caught up in the performance and having the time of my life. I remember feeling absolute love, support, and encouragement from the audience, friends and strangers alike. I remember feeling like I was completely accepted as a dancer. I remember feeling like I belonged.

Six months ago when I blurted out I want to dance, I had no idea how significantly and joyfully my life would change. It’s not all sunshine and roses and that’s ok. I really loved dancing in the beginning when I was learning the basic steps, remembering to put my left foot in one place and my right foot in the other was right up my alley. I could think and reason my way through the lessons and that was great. And then came the more expressive parts…not only does the left foot go here and the right foot go there but the arms do this and you’re supposed to smile. During those moments, I desperately have to resist listening to my internal critic when they tell me I look foolish when all the women around me look so graceful. That same internal critic goes on high alert when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or watch a video of myself. Despite (or maybe in spite of) her I keep dancing.

I keep dancing because I am a person who wants to experience and bring joy to others. I keep dancing because I have discovered and fallen in love with my creative and expressive sides. But most importantly, I keep dancing because it feeds my soul.

I thank my lucky stars every day that Stefanie signed me up for that first lesson. I am also honored that she asked me to share my experience with you. Enjoy!


Drama Queen

Tonight was rough.  Nothing happened, actually, I mean, no event transpired during my day today that would have triggered this reaction.  No, this is a reaction to the past, and it is painful.

I’m trying to wrap my head and my heart around it.  I want to understand this breakdown because I believe on the other side, there is a breakthrough to be had.  This is an opportunity to let go of something that no longer serves me.  It means there is something for me to surrender, I just have to figure out what it is and then have the courage to let it go.

So I showed up for my lesson today and although I felt pretty neutral coming in the studio, as I made my way to the bathroom, I began to feel a bit blue.  The truth is, as I got dressed for my lesson, I put on a shirt and I didn’t like how it looked on me – my body looked, to me, wide, round, not curvy, just blobby.  And don’t even get me started on my arms.  Mental sigh.  Wear a different shirt that you are more comfortable in so you can ignore the way you look.  Focusing on my body brings me no joy and I know this so I try to be as kind as I can to myself and wear things that make me feel a little bit better.  So, anyways, the point of this is that the self-judgement, criticism, and rejection had already started before I left home, even if subtly.  I tried to brush it off.  I tried to take an action to alleviate the demons and shift my focus by changing clothes.  It didn’t work.

So the conditioning that I’ve internalized saw that it had a toe-hold on my brain and it hijacked the operation.  It took advantage of the mirror in front of me, using it as a rapier to slice my heart, reminding me of all my perceived flaws, making me aware that I’m wishing that I were other that what I am.  I waste so much time and energy on this stupid spiral, I keep engaging in it.  I know, from an intellectual place, how insane this is, and yet I’m still doing it.  It makes me cry.  I don’t even want to repeat all the crap this conditioning spewed at me, let’s just say it’s exquisitely painful to look in the mirror and wish that the reflection was different.  It’s painful to reject yourself.

I mentioned to Kristijan that I felt like I was twelve years old.  This wasn’t so much about the fact that I was being emotional for no apparent reason, but rather because I felt small and insecure.  Being the type of person who believes nothing is coincidence and that honing in on a specific age could be a clue, I thought back on my drive home about when I was twelve years old.

I recalled that when I was twelve my family moved from Colorado to Arizona and I started 6th grade.  The summer before this move we came to visit and attended a pool party.  I remember my mom pointing out to me that everyone in Arizona was fit and trim and that we should be that way too to fit in.  Over that summer I was put on a diet and I dropped lots of weight.  By beginning of the school year I was deemed acceptable.

I must own my part in this and the fact that I’m going into victim mode around this to a point.  I took on the beliefs that created this perspective on the experience.  Also, the unconscious message I got very clearly was that I was unacceptable as I was and needed to change to be accepted and loved.  I did change, but on one level, this was a betrayal of self and the buying into of a lie that there was something to fix.  Also, I remember being so hungry on this diet that I snuck uncooked pasta from the pantry.  That doesn’t seem like a normal thing, nor a compassionate way to transform one’s body.

Anyways, that event was what it was. But it was a seed which I then must take responsibility for watering and nurturing until it has grown into a thorny weed around my heart.  This weed pricks deeply, I bleed self-rejection.

I say I want to be a joyful person and yet I’m doing this to myself.  I’m showing up as sad, drama queen.  I’m told one must first fully acknowledge exactly where one is before it can be healed or addressed properly.  Normally I’d berate myself for choosing to slide down this particular death spiral, admonishing myself for once again being an asshole for choosing misery when I theoretically know better.

This time, I want to explore it more fully.  I want awaken to it so that it can reveal the gift it has in store for me.  I don’t want to resist this anymore because that doesn’t change anything, in fact it probably keeps it in place.

One thing that arises is compassion for my twelve-year-old self, who just wanted love and acceptance, who just wanted to be okay, and who rejected herself, took on the job of self-rejection, so that she wouldn’t have to endure it from others around her that she loved.  She was trying to protect me/herself in a way, and that is lovely.  The only problem is, this protection is not actually protecting me from anything – actually there is nothing to protect me from.  Actually, this armor that was built to protect me is weighing me down and causing harm.

I really want to be with whatever this part of me is that needs my love and attention.  I no longer wish to shut it down or make it go away because it’s not effective and painful.  I want to embrace this sad energy, cradle it in my heart and whisper to it, soothing it, saying, I have enough space for you.  You are welcome here.  I’m sorry it took so long for me to hear you and attend to you.  I love you and I need your love.

I surrender the need for you to grow up or be other than you are.  I surrender all my expectations.  I let go of all I pressure I put on you.  You are perfect just as you are and I’m grateful for your contribution to my life.  But this process that we’ve been doing together just brings us both down.  It’s not moving us forward, in fact it’s keeping us stuck!  And we are missing out on the joy available in the moment.  I apologize for every time I think a thought that rejects you or resists reality just as it is, with nothing added and nothing taken away.  I’m choosing to choose you and life and me and my body just exactly as it is.  I forgive myself for being human and having erroneous thoughts.  I will do my best to be aware of them and lovingly correct them as soon as possible.

So here I am, at the end of all that writing and it has nothing to do with dancing.  I just knew that I was in a tizzy and needed to work this all out.  Writing is my therapy and I thought it might contain something worth sharing.  For whatever reason, the place in my life where this particular storyline plays itself out most vehemently is while I’m dancing.  It’s the place where I can access the rejected parts of me, they are right there barely under the surface.  In most other areas of my life I don’t get this down on myself, nor do I feel the depths of despair.  I guess this is why I say that dancing is my practice.  Hopefully next time I go, me and my twelve-year-old self can go hand in hand and enjoy our time together, for I am the possibility of compassion and self-love and she is welcome here.


Award Time!

Hello chickadees!  It’s me, your incredibly inconsistent blogger friend.

I’m not even exactly sure what I’m going to write today but I left my iPad at the studio (it’s safely behind the front desk at this point awaiting me), so I’m unencumbered and have pulled out the old laptop.

I danced tonight, so that seems like a good place to start.  We had a “competition simulation” at EuroRhythm which is basically dancing rounds.  I signed up for just 2 rounds, mainly for financial reasons, and boy did it kick my butt.  Seriously.  That is some serious cardio.  I danced full-out during both rounds to the point that I got sick to my stomach toward the end and the last 45 seconds or so of the jive. At the end of each round I was thinking, “this is NOT fun!”  Seriously (did I say that before?) I’m a bit worried about my cardio stamina.  I thought it was better and I did really well at Galaxy but after tonight, I’m doubting where I stand.  I suppose the good thing is that I have 4 weeks left.  And we are scheduled to have one of these killer cardio sessions for the next 3 weeks, so hopefully that will help.  That plus I signed up for “Hell Week” at Orange Theory next week which consists of attending 5 workouts over 6 days, so that will be quite a stretch…Oh and each workout has a clever name like “Death by Rower” or “The Hills Run Red”…I hope I survive and get the t-shirt they promise you for completing the challenge!

So back to tonight’s drama, I was so winded at the end of the second round that I decided to be dramatic and lay face down on the carpeting beside the dance floor.  It cracked Anja and another instructor up pretty good.

The other cool thing that happened was that one of my favorite fellow dancers who also dances with Kristijan was there and we conspired to create a little magic and gratitude.  So what occurred was that I won a silly award for performance at my work that earned me a certificate and a tiny plastic trophy, probably from the 99 cent store.  I threw it in my car and it was sitting in my console staring at me.  As I got out of my car I saw it and thought, “Hmmm, maybe I can give an award tonight.”  Part of me was like, “Well, if you are going to do it, do it right!  Create a certificate and make something polished.”  I hesitated, ignored the perfectionistic comment from my brain, and decided to be spontaneous.  I then grabbed the golden trophy and threw it in my purse.  I saw my dance friend and my idea grew.  I won’t share her name since I didn’t ask her if I could but we’ll call her “SweetP.”  So I told SweetP, let’s make up an award for Kristijan.  She was like, “To express our gratitude?”  And I was like, “Yes, exactly!  We can maybe grab him after the simulation and speak from the heart and give him his award.”  And she was like (and I’m so grateful for this), “And we have to give it to Anja as well!  She helps me so much with my dancing, too!”  And I was like, “Of course!  She has contributed so much to my dancing as well.  We will give it to them both!”  I love how this silly idea evolved and expanded and I love SweetP’s willingness to participate and make it even better.


So that’s what we did.  After the sweating and heavy breathing, we called over the wonder couple and I said, “I bet you didn’t know you were up for an award, did you?”  And they were like, “What are you talking about?” So SweetP said some words, and I said some words, and we basically thanked them for being kind and encouraging and joyful and helpful and for adding grace and beauty to our dancing.  It was a super fun moment.  And SweetP thanked me for including her afterwards which was great as well and also I was so glad to share it with her.

So that’s cool.

And in other news, Ivan and I continue to put together our Best of the Best routine and actually I’ll see him tomorrow in the evening but not for a lesson.  There is a Rhythm Dance Camp here in town with Sam Sodano and Bill Sparks and Decho and Bree that I will be attending tomorrow evening and during parts of the weekend.  Ivan will be there for tomorrow night but then is off to somewhere else for a professional performance with Marieta so I’ll be doing the rest of the workshops solo.  If I’m inspired, I’ll write about my experience and share it with you.  If I’m being incredibly inconsistent blogger then you may not see anything.  I make no promises.

One other cool thing to share is that I’ve started a new program in which I will be creating a project for the community.  We get to create whatever we want within the guidelines of the seminar.  It’s a 4 month-long event and I just had my first work day last Saturday.  There are such amazing people in my team and I have an amazing coach to help along the way.  It seems like each week we will get different assignments to work on and by the end we will have created something wonderful, each of us, and put it out into the community to make a difference.  I’m really excited about it and thinking that I want to create a program for dancing and working with women’s shelters.  I’ve often thought about how dance profoundly changed my life and my image of myself.  I’ve also often contemplated, as I saw people walking around on the streets, “I wonder what that person would be like if they had a ballroom “makeover” – if they had the opportunity to learn a dance, wear a glamorous gown, have their hair and make up done.”  They probably wouldn’t recognize themselves.  And I also thought that dancing, and being around the amazing women who have influenced my dancing, has created a space of Worthiness, Power, and Beauty.  And I thought what might a woman whose life has led her to be at a shelter be missing?  Maybe a good dose of Worthiness, Power, and Beauty could be transformational.  Maybe these woman could have a totally different experience of themselves in a totally new way, and maybe they could walk in the world differently.  So that’s the seed of my idea.  I am flexible and have no idea what the final product might look like.  It’s an adventure.  And it’s probably going to expand just like what happened tonight with SweetP – the idea will grow and change and improve as I enroll various partners’ in crime to help me make this happen!  Please send your good vibes, thoughts, and intentions for what is about to unfold!  I would love your support.

So I guess that’s it for the moment.  It’s 11:05pm and I’d better get some sleep!  I have a lesson with Ivan tomorrow at 10:15, then a pedicure, then who knows what might occur until 7pm when the first session of the dance camp begins.  Wish me luck!

And one final thing – big shout outs to BC Ballroom for completing her competition and to Girl With The Tree Tattoo for her committment to do the 31 day writing challenge!  I’ve been loving reading all your posts!  Best wishes to BC as she prepares for her upcoming surgery.  You are loved.

Your incredibly inconsistent blogger friend, Stef

Everything’s Wrong! Cue The Pre-Competition Freak-Out

Why I do this to myself I seriously don’t understand.

Boy did I get myself into a tizzy today.  So the deal is that I’ve signed up to do the Galaxy competition here in Phoenix and it is in about a week and a half.   I’m going to dance Rhythm with Ivan and Latin with Kristijan.

Do I feel ready?  Not at all.  My body and endurance is not where I want it to be.  My new shoes got here today so I’m breaking them in and they hurt.  I do not feel practiced in either set of my routines – we are still working out details in Rhythm open choreo (closed is just lead and follow but there is still technique to remember and execute with excellence), and I don’t know that we’ve run the routines completely start to finish, certainly not full-out with all tricks.  Oh, and also for sure we’ve not done any complete rounds.  In Latin, I learned both Paso Doble and Jive just last week.  Needless to say I don’t feel entirely comfortable with everything.  (Or ANYTHING!!! Gah!)

Not to mention that this is my first competition back in a year or longer.

Until today, I’ve been cool with it all.  I’ve been in a space that I am dancing for me, I love to do it, I need to get back into it at some point so why wait, we never really feel ready, and I’d thought I’d come to peace with how I am dancing and how my body looks.  I was really calm about everything just trusting that I don’t have to be perfect, but to get where I ultimately want to be, I need to get back in the game.  I was choosing to not take things so seriously because of everything that is going on, and really people don’t care that much anyways! I’ve been watching a lot of reality shows lately like Project Runway and RuPaul’s Drag Race and all the judging that happens comes down to opinions.  I’ve been working on making my own opinion of myself more important than those of others around me.  This isn’t to say I’m not open to feedback or coaching, but rather that such feedback doesn’t shake me to the core like it used to, that I can decide what works for me and leave what doesn’t, that I don’t just accept it as fact, and that at the end of the day it is about loving myself and being okay with being me.

I’ve been telling myself that this year was indeed about transformation.  I’ve made a lot of changes, although they may be invisible, but they have culminated in me changing the name of this blog, creating a situation where I can pursue dancing with two amazing instructors, and feeling ready to step back on to the competitive scene knowing that I am not as polished as might be expected.  I was (or at least I thought I was) strong and centered – determined to play my own game at the competition – one in which winning meant no nerves, enjoying myself, sharing myself, and really feeling the dancing (not just going through the motions or doing the steps per rote).  Not to mention it is a privilege and a blessing to get to pursue dancing.  First world problems, all of this!  I’m generally grateful about it!

Speaking about grateful – here is a pic of the new dress.  Animal print, red and black…RAWR!

New Dress is heavy! All those crystals...wish I had lost more weight just so I could be the same pounds after putting this dress on, Grrrl! lol

New Dress is heavy! All those crystals…wish I had lost more weight just so I could be the same pounds after putting this dress on, Grrrl! lol


Here is a nice detail of the cool 3-D flowers Julia added

Here is a nice detail of the cool 3-D flowers Julia added

Well, today, all of that went right out the window.  About half-way through my lesson with Kristijan, as we were running through rounds, it hit me, like out of nowhere.  Suddenly a cacophony erupted screaming mercilessly all my fears and insecurities, self-judgements, harshest self-criticisms, doom, gloom, and crappy self-talk.  I have not been triggered that intensely in a very long time.

“What will people think?” they said.  “You look exactly the same, you fatso!  You took a year off!  What the hell have you been doing?  Does your dancing even look different at all?  No! You know there will be expectations and what do you have to show for it?”  They continued, “And what about dancing with two different instructors?  People are going to comment on it.  You are going to be judged. They will be judged.” (Cue dramatic, horrifying music…dum dum daaaammmmm!)

And then probably my most familiar demon spake, “You stink! Your dancing is so bad, so gross.  How messy your feet are!  There is no upper body movement.  You are moving your hips wrong.  Seriously everything you are doing is horrible.  You really need to let go of the idea that you are or could be a good or excellent dancer.  You are just never going to look like that! Stop trying to be something you are not.  You will NEVER be enough.”

I got so fixated on looking good, or, not looking bad, that all the joy was sucked out of my being.  I was so caught up in all that was so completely, obviously WRONG with me, and how I am still not able to fix it, even after living 37 years on this Earth… “If only I could fix it.  Then I would be okay, then I would be acceptable.  Then it would be okay for me to dance…..”

I know it’s all bullshit but it feels so very real.  It’s so depressing. The black hole of egocenteredness….

I’ve really been working on letting go of trying to feel “special” or “better than/worse than” others.  This is just an ego-trip/ego-trick.  The ego is concerned with such things. (side note, ego is not bad…it’s just getting in my way in this particular issue.  We, as humans, must have some sort of ego persona to function properly…I guess I’m referring to an overblown ego, a needy ego, one that is not balanced or neutral in nature…)  I’ve been practicing my mantra of this is it, and this is perfect.  I am enough just as I am.  My body is exactly how it is and exactly how it isn’t.  It is changing every day based on how I take care of it.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing body that moves so beautifully and to be in such good health.  I’ve been practicing freeing myself from self-judgement and criticism so that I feel safe enough to just express myself freely.

And then today, oh man!  It sucked me right in!  Right back down to the deep black pits of despair.  Honestly, I’m still upset about it – that’s why I’m writing about it.  I want to get it all out and get the freak-out processed and gone so that I can show up how I want to show up at the competition, with a big, joyful smile on my face, nonplussed by how anyone reacts to me, really focused on enjoying the magnificent experience – to enjoy it for every penny I’ve spent on it (Am I right?  Ballroom is stupid expensive $$$$$), all the time I’ve put in to get ready for it, and all the energy I’ve put toward it.

(And shout out to Girl With The Tree Tattoo – how upset and disappointed I would be if I couldn’t even do it!!!! Humans, including me, are INSANE!!! I am lucky to get to do it…)

Although it was apparent I was emotional during my lesson, I pretty much held it together until I made it into my car.  Once I reached my vehicle and closed the door, I collapsed crying and coughing.  I even began retching a little bit (luckily I had tissues in my car) and my throat spasmed tight just like it did when I was a little girl trying to hold my emotions inside.  I felt like I was being choked from within the internal tissues of my esophagus.  Maybe you don’t believe in chakras or anything but it so happens that the throat chakra is related to self-expression, which makes total sense in my mind as to what’s going on inside my system.  It’s an old pattern of the feeling of being judged and needing to be other than I am which steals my joy and tightens me up to hold in the emotions.  Unfortunately it also squelches free self-expression, and I do not feel safe to be myself with abandon, without filtering.  Oh my! Time to let that one go, don’t you think?

The hilarious part is that I’m the one judging myself.  I do recall as a little girl wishing that I could just be accepted for who and how I was.  I did not feel that it was okay to be me.   I suppose every child experiences some flavor of that while growing up and being socialized so that we can actually fit into society and all.  So it’s probably just a normal part of development.  However I really seemed to have internalized the voice of self-judgement and it is rearing its ugly head right now.  There is no problem with it existing, it’s just that I am buying into what it says, and what it says is vicious.  This doesn’t serve me at all – it steals my joy, makes me sad and depressed, and just generally sucks!  Why am I believing what it says, anyways!?  If someone said these things to me out loud I’d tell them to go fuck themselves!  I’d walk away and know that they were full of crap projecting on me and that it was not the truth. OMG. So the fact that I was so very taken in by fear today was a real eye-opener.

Okay, so yeah.  Cue the freak-out. That’s the space I am experiencing today.


I’m determined to feel the feelings.  I am grateful this happened today and not the day of the comp!  (Yay? lol) Only when such vulnerablities that we want to hide in the shadows are exposed can we address them and heal them.

Moving forward: I, Stefanie, am committed to intentionally create for myself the experience I’ve described about how I want to show up at the competition.  I do declare that I will be joyful, calm yet excited, open, grateful, ready for fun and magic, limber, relaxed, connected, sensitive, centered, strong and powerful!  I will move people.  And, I choose to love and approve of myself exactly as I am.

That being said, I would still really appreciate encouragement and reminders of how awesome I am 🙂  It would help me shift out of this dark space quicker.

Love, Stef

A New Ballroom Village Member

Hi guys!

I’m on my (slow) phone right now and have no home internet service so I can’t do a long post just now (well I could but it sucks typing with just my thumbs on the Qwerty keyboard).

But! I’ve been remiss in not getting this information out sooner so I wanted to get it posted at least.

Please welcome our newest Ballroom Village member, The Dancing Housewife.

Please post a link to her on your Ballroom Village Page so we can all spread the word about the new kid on the block.

And…lots more to share, Galaxy Comp in like a week…eek!

Condolences to Girl With The Tree Tattoo about your latest bummer news and Congrats to BC Ballroom Dancer for getting the go ahead to compete even if it is getting difficult. It is amazing all the ups and downs we all experience during our journeys. Remember, we are all in this together and never alone. Someone can always relate to what is going on for us, individually. Keep sharing, beautiful Ballroom Villagers!

Xoxo, Sparsely-posting Stef

Dance Lesson Roulette

Does this happen to you where you never really know how you are going to show up on your lesson?  Like the night before my lesson I will have all these ideas and machinations about how the lesson will go, the questions I want to ask, the things I want to work on, and then I wake up, go to my lesson, and it’s completely out the window.  The best laid plans…..

I guess that each lesson is just pretty much a version of Roulette.  I could be feeling good, ready to go, motivated, or, well, things could happen like they happened for me yesterday morning.

So here’s the deal.  I woke up and I just felt so drained and achy in my body.  I have been sick sick sick for 2 weeks.  It started in my ear, proceeded to my nose, then lodged into my throat and chest.  Being as I have the asthma, it lingers.  Sincerely, today is the first day it’s actually been better.  I’ve been coughing, desperately, painfully, wetly, deeply for two weeks.  Like to the point that my muscles are sore in my rib cage from the effort to produce sputum (graphic!  I know!  But I lived it lol).

Anyways, so I’m on the rebound from that, I am coughing, I can’t breathe right, then I’ve been on this low carb diet and to today is the day I am feeling it the most.  I had been feeling it previously, on workouts I was being fatigued much more quickly than usual and at lower weights, and I haven’t even attempted an Orange Theory session under these conditions.  So I’m carb deprived.

Did I eat breakfast before I went?  Nope.

Do I hate the mornings?  Yes.  I am a night owl, NOT a morning person.  I don’t even understand how a human being could be a morning person.  Ironic I married one…

Anyways, so I wake up, and I’m feeling my tired, broken down body, and I feel it and I make a conscious decision to be grateful.  I am grateful because I don’t live in chronic pain.  There is nothing seriously wrong with my body.  I’ve never had major illness or surgery, just a few stitches on my knee and a broken pinky from a scooter accident as a kid.  I have so much to be grateful for.  So I consciously choose to tell myself this knowing that I wasn’t necessarily at my best, thinking that if I changed my focus, I’d change the outcome of the day.

It didn’t work so well.

I show up and I’m off-balance.  My body doesn’t seem to be working.  I choose to wear my practice shoes rather than my heels (always a bad sign).

In all honesty, I don’t exactly remember the first part of my lesson, that is how out of it I was.  I think we tried a few basic exercises and I was just not getting it, and Damir could see that.  And he is wise.  And he authentically supports me.

So he asked me to do the Jive.

Let me repeat this.  I’m broken down, things aren’t clicking, he says, “Let’s Jive.”

He heads to the music system and I start tearing up.

Let’s be honest, it was just the basic step, four kicks, then 2 kicks and a Sailor Step, Repeat.  Nothing major.  I did it.  It was exhausting.  It was draining.  I’m like, “Thank God that’s over!” in my mind.

Then he says, “Let’s do rounds.”  He gives me basic step combos for Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba, and Jive.  The waterworks really start flowing now.  It would be so easy to say, “Not today! Any day but today.”  It totally crossed my mind.  It would be so easy to say, “Damir, I’m just not feeling right today.  Can we please do something else.”  I kind of wonder how he would have responded to this.

But instead, I just accepted this was what was being asked of me and cried.  I did it anyway.

My experience of it was that it was a totally different level of “ask” than I’ve ever experienced before.  I’ve danced through an asthma attack in competition.  I have also danced through a hip injury for an entire competitive weekend that had me limping and taking no lessons for a month afterwards.  I have some experience working through “pain” under fire.

But this was something I’ve never experienced. I felt completely stripped, completely tapped out, naked almost.  I had no resources left.  That’s when the tears came.  I was broken, and you are asking me to do this?  Probably I am at my lowest game ever and you want me to do what?

What a gift!

It totally didn’t feel like it at the time.  It felt shitty.  lol.  It wasn’t my best dancing, that’s for sure. However, I had the opportunity to know something about myself.  I also had the opportunity to show up.

Okay, so I survive the ordeal.  I know it’s not my best dancing and I’m beating myself up internally for not dancing how I want to dance, knowing that I’m not displaying my best game, knowing that this is really quite pathetic, and angry that I’m crying.  Because, this is not something to be so freaking emotional over.  But I am so spent, I don’t even have the energy to hold back tears.  Didn’t I just make a vow to show up differently on my lessons?  Be more positive?  No wallowing?  WTF!

And here I am, blubbering, exhausted, feeling bottom of the barrel.

And Damir is like, “I’m so proud of you.  What you did today is a big thing.”

The cool thing I must acknowledge is that it was not a possibility not to show up for my lesson even though upon waking I knew it wasn’t going to be comfortable, that my body wasn’t cooperating.  Go me.  Sounds like a small thing, but it’s actually huge because it’s a big shift in my way of thinking.  And I showed up anyway.

So in this episode of Dance Lesson Roulette, I lost…but I also won.

Fast forward to today.  Damir has a local Dancing With The Stars charity event tomorrow so he needed to reschedule my Friday lesson.  He suggested 6:30 tonight.  Yay! I rejoiced.  An evening lesson!

And tonight, my friends, tonight I had a great lesson!  A big Dance Lesson Roulette WIN!

I felt a nuance in my Rumba walks I’ve heard described but never experienced until now.  I danced full-out basic Jive for over a minute after not doing it for months and survived the cardio challenge better than expected.  I progressed in my Samba technique.  I got sweaty and I enjoyed myself.  Who could’ve known?  Life is weird like that, I guess.  I think that saying is true:  Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs happen after the biggest breakdowns.  It seems to have worked for me in this instance.

Well, anyways, I guess that’s the latest scoop.  Aren’t you impressed I posted again and it hasn’t been 6 months?  YAY! LOL.



Image By © Ralf Roletschek – Fahrradtechnik und Fotografie (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m On My Way!

Greeting and Salutations my dearest readers!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Sometimes a gal needs to go inward and take some time for herself.  As open and transparent and forthright as I like to be on this blog of mine, I found that what I was going through I didn’t want to share.  I’ll share some of it now that I’m through it all, but then I was not ready to.  I hope you will understand, and even if you don’t, oh well lol.  I’ll just say that I’m happy to be back, I’m happy that there is a blog post in me that wants to be written.  I’m not even entirely sure what will come out of me tonight, but I was certain that it was time to get back to you, to the blog, to sharing.

So thank you for being loyal, thank you to all of you who checked in on me from time to time.  I’m so blessed to be so very supported.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Okay so nothing dramatic has happened.  In fact, it’s probably the exact opposite.  It’s been a ho-hum couple of months.  Like, I mean, very little fire.  Partly it had to do with the holidays and being busy and distracted with that kind of thing.  It also had to do with being a little bit depressed.  I’ve had bouts of clinical depression in the past and it’s been so long, and I’ve created so many coping mechanisms in my life, and I’m genuinely so much happier in general with myself and my life than I was before, that I kept telling myself I was just in a little funk and I’d snap out of it.  It took a friend pointing it out to me to really acknowledge what was going on.  It was textbook anhedonia – for those of you you don’t know what that means, it’s basically Greek for “without pleasure” – the antithesis of hedonism.  So, like, I wanted to be in bed all day.  I couldn’t motivate myself to work out.  I would back out of social engagements, even dance lessons.  I would not experience joy doing activities that normally brought me joy.  My life consisted of work and the most imperative of obligations.  And working from home, I could go days without leaving the house or even showering (I did manage to brush my teeth every day – because, that’s just gross lol – even depressed Stef has her limits).

So with that context in mind, it’s no surprise that I didn’t make it any further on my body and weight loss goals.  Okay, so here I am, a year has passed, and I’m basically in the same place as I was 365 days ago, in the same clothes.  It bothered me.  And, like, I don’t want to share that I’m totally depressed and stuck.  It’s just such a downer, and I wasn’t in the place to either a) gloss it over and make up some bullshit silver linings or b) wallow in it here.  So I just decided that I wouldn’t say anything, not to mention that I didn’t even have any motivation to do so.

That about sums it up.

The good news is, that even with the holiday fluff-fest, I know that I know that I know that I’m never ever going to allow myself to fall back to where I was over 300 pounds.  It’s just not a possibility in my reality.  On the upside, I’ve managed to mostly maintain, for an entire year, gaining only holiday-related fluff of 15 pounds.  Yes it’s significant, and I was fully aware of what I was eating and the results it would garner.  I forgave myself and permissioned myself to do this. And, there is something this demonstrates.  So many people drop tons of weight then gain it all back.  I have truly transformed something in myself because that would not be acceptable.  15 pounds is about the upper limit of gain that I would ever tolerate, and to be honest, in my current head-space, I don’t even think I’d tolerate more than 5 pounds.  So I’ll just take the opportunity to give myself a little credit for not regressing.

Okay, so my friend pointed out the obvious that I was choosing to not know and I’ve gotten the support I need around that.  Life is looking better.

And with this, I also had a weekend of deep introspection.  In case you didn’t know, Phoenix hosted the Superbowl.  During that same weekend was the Phoenix Open golf tournament.  I knew it was going to be a chaotic, crazy weekend locally, plus my husband was reliving his fraternity years with 4 friends staying at the house for the festivities.  I decided to get out of Dodge!  I went to San Diego by myself to escape the insanity, and I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision.

Long story short, I was able to take the opportunity to take stock of my life, what has been working, what has not, who I want to be and who I have been being.  I made a firm decision.  I decided it was either life or death, truly.  I could either jump in, make the necessary changes, and choose to value the time I’ve been given, or I could continue to slowly wither and die as a walking zombie through life.  I got really clear about the choice and what I’d been choosing for the past months.

I think you must have gathered by now that I have chosen to live.

And with that choice, things were set in motion in the universe.

The cool part, is that I’ve been trusting my intuition and taking action.  I’ve been saying “yes” more and it’s amazing how things are unfolding.

So I was driving in my car at a time when I normally don’t, and the radio station I normally listen to was full of static so I turned the dial.  I heard this guy talking on the radio.  I have no idea what he was saying, but it was about losing weight and I felt like, well, hey, what if this message is for me?  What if this is speaking to me? The voice said, “I will give the next 5 people who call in before 5:30 pm a free $150 assessment if they sign up for a program.”  I was like, I’m not normally a person who would call.  But guess what?  I did!

So that set something in motion.

I’m now being held accountable for my diet!  Yay!  I’ve signed up for 6 weeks with Dr. Fitness and he’s got me on a plan of 1400 calories and no more than 42 grams of carbs per day.  I’m so glad I worked with Chelle last year.  It really prepared me to take this on like a Rockstar.  I’ve taken even more ownership for my choices, I plan my diet every day, and I send it in to Lance.  I also get 2 half-hour training sessions per week.  I’m down 10 pounds so far.  It’s a living, breathing plan, this is just the beginning stage, but it feels good to be heading in the right direction, and I can definitely feel the difference 10 pounds off my frame makes.  I can hardly imagine how free I will feel when I’ve dropped 60 more.  It’s gonna be amazing.

I think my biggest aim is to really believe in myself -to say and to know that I will accept nothing less than my desired outcome – to say and to know that I will actualize my dreams in reality.  I am determined to keep going UNTIL I reach my goal.  The end.  With this definite-ness of purpose and clarity comes a new level of commitment I’ve not experienced around this particular issue ever before.

And with this clarity and decisiveness, and new vigor has ignited in Damir.  He’s showing up differently on our lessons because I’m showing up differently.

I told him that I didn’t like how I had been showing up (or not showing up, for that matter).  I came clean with him.  I owned that I’d been more flaky with my lessons that I’d ever been, ever, with Ivan or any other instructor.  I owned the fact that when I did show up often I had a negative, defeated attitude.  The cool thing is, he has totally allowed me to be who and how I am no matter what.  He’s supported me and been available but he never pushed, or shamed, or cajoled.  The truth is, no one can make me a champion except me.  He, and I, know that it’s not his job to make me do anything – if I really want this, then it has to come from inside me.  That wasn’t happening through the depression. But what a gift, he let me be exactly where I was and it was okay.

So I came clean and I declared the new reality.  I said, the past is the past, let’s wipe it clear and start fresh from this moment on.  The past has no bearing on where I am going.  I’m now going to be who I need to be to be that champion I say I am inside.  The end.  No need for drama or self-chastising.  No need to even feel bad about myself.  No need to convince you with words because my results will be here, or they will not. I request of you to call me on it if in a month there is no visible change. All I need to do is be here now and take the next right step.  That’s it!  Show up, say yes, and do the work.  Damir is totally on board and it is exciting to see his enthusiasm.  We did some great work on my lessons this week!

So the goal still stands:  Ohio Star Ball, 2015.  Here I come!

There’s only one more thing I want to mention.  As you all are aware, my relationship with myself and my body and my body-image and self-esteem have been major themes in this blog.  A lot of what I share here is the transformation of these aspects of self, both internally and externally.  I have, as I think many women do, had a warlike, contemptuous relationship with my body.  I’ve hated it and felt shamed for having it the way it is.  I hated it when I was 116 pounds as a teen, and I hated it at 313 pounds.  Part of the process for me has been finding appreciation, and, dare I say it, even love and reverence for my body, even as it is.  I’ve worked consciously and deliberately to acknowledge and appreciate aspects of my body, such as how it moves, how it works for me, how amazing it is, how it heals itself, how it has taken the abuse I’ve heaped upon it and still serves me so faithfully.  I’ve also come to consciously work to build my awareness around how moving feels good!  That it doesn’t always have to be a huge, horrible, painful, awful struggle.  And, at the same time, I’ve come to be able to tolerate being uncomfortable and really pushing my limits, be they cardiovascular or strength or endurance.  I have a confidence that I can handle it and push through.

Okay so what I’m trying to say is that as I transform my body outwardly, I’ve also worked really hard to change how I relate to myself and my physical body.  I’ve worked really hard to forge a peace with it, rather than a hateful war.

The reason I say all this is because I’m so inspired by watching my Big Fat Fabulous Life with Whitney Thore.  I remember when her dance video went viral.  Now she has a show.  I love how she is so fully engaged in life.  I love how she just is who she is and it’s enough.  I love her courage and her bravery and her audaciousness and boldness and her zest for life.  I love that she is so generous to share herself.  I love that she is passionate and that she dances and that she puts herself out there.  I love her sense of humor.  I do, also, see that there are certain aspects that would not be acceptable to me, personally.  For instance, she has had to modify how she shaves her legs because of her size.  I was getting to that place, personally, where it was uncomfortable to be on a plane, where I had to modify how I lived life just to function.  That was a huge wake-up call and red flag for me.  For me, personally, it is not okay.  I don’t presume to judge others or their choices.  That’s their business.  And, also, I know how hard it was for me to move at 313 pounds…she’s 380.  I give her major props for dancing.  Most people in their lifetime will never know how hard it is to move with that kind of weight on their frame.  It’s so desperately difficult!  I tell you I’m freer with 10 pounds less on my frame.  Anyways, mad props to her for moving like she does, and also, I think about how heavy and weighed-down it must feel and I think that it could be better.

Okay, so mixed bag of emotions but the most interesting thing to me was that I absolutely had no problem looking at her body.  It didn’t bother me one iota.  I didn’t feel bad or have shame arise seeing how big she is – she’s 380 pounds!  I mean, it’s not the norm.  It’s shocking, even.  But I realized that people who react to a fat person such as Whitney or myself are actually not reacting to that person but to themselves.  They are reacting to their own projections of themselves if they were that big.  So many people say that they’d kill themselves before they got that big.  I, myself, would occasionally see people at restaurants that were severely obese and feel upset about it in the past.  No more.  I’ve worked through it.  They can be how they need to be right now, and it has nothing to do with me.  They no longer need to be my scapegoat for the aspects of myself I’d be afraid to see, know, or own.

But somehow, and I think Whitney says it best, that it’s like the “worst crime to be a fat woman” and that people can’t seem to reconcile a happy fat person, someone who genuinely likes herself and is confident even while being obese.  It’s somehow very threatening to others.  There is a group consciousness that if you are are fat then you should be unhappy with yourself and embarrassed and ashamed, and you are probably lazy and stupid and have no self control etc.  I had totally bought into this paradigm and it had stolen my joy, my self worth, my self regard, my view of myself as an attractive, lovely woman.  I felt like no one would love me if I were fat, certainly I withheld love from myself for this reason. It did not help to make me thinner, it only served to make me miserable.

But Whitney says pooh pooh to all that crap!  And I agree.

My worth, my beauty, my ability to contribute, my compassion, who I am, actually have NOTHING to do with how I am packaged.

Now, I’m clear that I want something different for myself.  And let’s be honest, my appearance does have a bearing on how I feel about myself – it’s connected.  In fact, I’ve hired a make up artist for some make up lessons and also a stylist to help me create a sense of style so I can do some work from the “outside-in” to affect how I feel about myself, and to bolster my confidence.  It’s also another opportunity for self expression and to declare who I am without saying a word. I figure, even if I’m not where I ultimately envision myself at the final goal, I can still be “put together” and still enjoy how I dress myself, how I present myself to the world at large.

At the same time, I’m committed to creating the vision I have for my body and my life.  And, while I’m on my way, I refuse to feel bad about myself anymore.  I will support myself in any way I can to do this all positively.  I will take a note from Whitney and love me, just as I am.  I’m enough.  I am important, special, worthy, lovely, active, strong, powerful.  I am these things NOW.  It doesn’t depend on my body fat content.  It won’t change when my adipose content is less.

And as I look around in life, I realize, I’m not the only one.  There are lots of us out there struggling with our bodies, our weight, our self-confidence and our self-worth.  I’m taking a stand, for me, and for all of us.  I’m choosing to accept full responsibility for all of my life and all of my choices and all of my results.  I’m choosing to wipe the slate clean and be open to the infinite possibilities of who I am becoming.  I am choosing to love myself like never before and to express my authentic self.  I no longer need to hold any shame or sadness of who I’ve been.  I’m choosing to let go of whatever stories I’ve made up about what I can’t have, or how awful I am – that’s simply junk.  I’m just as precious and worthy as I was the day I was born.  It’s just that back then I accepted it!  Somewhere along the way I took on some beliefs that didn’t serve me.  No longer will I believe lies.  You don’t have to either.  Whitney knows this truth and she’s living it.  From now on, so will I, even as I forge ahead to create the body I desire.  Why?  Not because I “should” or “need to” or “have to” but simply because I’m choosing to express myself differently because that’s what I want to do.  No further justification necessary.

The truth is I am an athlete.  I am a dancer.  I love to move.  I’m active.  I don’t care how my body looks from the outside in this regard, these are my truths.  Soon enough the “outside” will be in alignment with my “insides” and will reflect my truth.  I am now being the me who takes the actions that are in alignment with that.

Okay, so have I rambled on long enough? lol!

This is where I’m at right now….


I’m on my way 🙂




A Request For You!

So I’ve been thinking, with all the changes going on in my dancing life recently, it might be time to change the name of my blog. After all, I don’t think that this statement is absolutely true that I’m the biggest girl in the ballroom, and I am certainly changing my body as it is getting smaller, and stronger, and more compact each and every day.
My request is that you share your ideas for what might be a new and improved name for my blog. What qualities do you see in me besides just being big? I really look forward to hearing from you.
If I choose the name you suggest, I will send you a $25 gift card and a book from my personal library that has moved me forward powerfully with an inscription just for you. Ready? Go!

Dancing Is For Every BODY! Interview With Artist Lyonn In Support Of American DanceWheels Foundation

So the other day I got this email:


My name is Tyler Gelrud and I go by the artist name Lyonn.

I am an alternative musician that uses my music as a stepping stone to raise awareness for causes I truly believe in!

I just recently teamed up with American DanceWheels Foundation! An incredible non profit that teaches dance to disabled individuals allowing them a well deserved shot in the spotlight. It is immensely uplifting and I am so proud to say they are using my song “Dancing Machine” as their theme song!

I am emailing you because I was hoping you could raise awareness about this non profit. Right now you can download my new EP “Promenade” at
and all the money goes to American DanceWheels Foundation!

The best part is you can pay what you want! You type in the dollar amount and that money goes to the charity to help raise funds so the foundation can put together classes, videos, and dance recitals. This foundation offers people a chance to do something they never thought they could, and I am so happy to be a part of it.

I would really appreciate it if you shared the word about this partnership! Encourage people to download and donate, and you could help change lives. Thanks so much.

Tyler Gelrud

So, yeah, I was like, I want to help!  The best way I could think of was to buy a copy of the song and then share this coolness on the blog.  Lyonn agreed to a virtual interview because, you know, I have questions!  I’m interested!  And I thought you all might want a bit more information too, if I was going to promote something like this.

The idea struck me as very cool – using art to support other art, and to make sure people of all abilities get the opportunity to dance, because, as we all know, dancing is awesome.  And it’s kind of a hot button issue for me since I”m not your “typical” dance myself and I believe dancing is for everybody and Every Body, if you know what I mean.

So without further ado, here’s a little bit of info about our guest tonight, Lyonn.



BGitB:  How long have you been singing?

Lyonn: I started singing during my senior year of high school. My whole life I would sing for fun, but I started my first band at age 16 and that’s when I started taking singing more seriously.

BGitB: How long ago did you begin playing music?

Lyonn: I would say the same time as I started my first band, age 16!

BGitB: Why were you interested in these arts?

Lyonn:  I have always been into music, I loved listening to it and I would always imagine myself performing to all my friends. Once I started writing songs I knew I needed to make it more than just a hobby. It was the easiest way for me to express myself. That’s the biggest thing for me, expression, I hope people can listen to my music and relate to it. I want people to feel the same way I do when I hear a really great song.

BGitB: What instruments (if any) do you play?

Lyonn:  I can get by on an acoustic guitar!

That’s the instrument I play on stage during my show, and the instrument I write all my melodies on. I’m teaching myself piano though!  So far, not so good…

BGitB:  How would you describe your personal style? Style as in terms of clothing/fashion, music, decor etc.

Lyonn: I like to think my style is pretty current. Nothing too crazy, I hope it matches my music! I wear a lot of Disney t shirts though, so people give me weird looks from time to time! I grew up in Anaheim though, Disneyland was my backyard!

BGitB: What are your best 3 qualities ?

Lyonn: I feel uncomfortable answering this question, so I’ll have my mom get back to you with a response.

BGitB: What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?

Lyonn:  I’m really proud of myself for moving across the country for music. This is really what I want to do with my life, so I quit my job, sold my car, and moved. It was a big step and I am really happy I did it. This is just the beginning as well, and I’m ready to do what it takes!

BGitB: How did you come up with this important song? What inspired you?

Lyonn: I don’t really know how or why certain songs come to me. Any moment I’ll just get hit with one and the entire thing will pour out. I’m really happy to say that every song I write comes from personal experiences. That allows me to relive the moment when I perform and it keeps the passion burning very bright. I wrote this song the second I woke up on a Sunday morning after a near perfect Saturday night out in San Diego. It was a wonderful time full of friendship and dancing. I was captivated watching everyone dance and laugh. We all just forgot about the problems in our lives and danced the night away. When I woke up, I grabbed my guitar and the entire song came out in a single play.

BGitB: Do you dance?

Lyonn: Horribly…

BGitB: If so, What style?

Lyonn: Embarrassing.

BGitB: Why are you passionate about this particular project?

Lyonn: I knew I wanted to team up with a non profit focused on dance, I thought “Dancing Machine” would be the perfect fit for that type of foundation. When I contacted American DanceWheels Foundation and told them my ideas, they absolutely loved them. The more I talked with the foundation the more I knew it needed to happen. The foundation to them is much more than just dancing. They do such incredible work and they really care about the people they help.

I could go on and on, but one look at their website and you’ll understand what I mean!

BGitB:  What is your vision? For your life, for your art, for this project?

Lyonn: I hope to make music my career. If I could continue expressing myself and helping people with my music there would be nothing better.

In December, I am shooting a music video for “Dancing Machine” with American DanceWheels Foundation! That should provide enormous awareness for the nonprofit and I can’t wait. That’s the biggest thing on our agenda together, I can’t wait to let the individuals involved with ADWF be the stars of the video!

BGitB: What is your life philosophy?

Lyonn: This is the hardest question to answer. I really can’t answer it fully. I will mention I truly believe youth is relative. I don’t think there’s ever a point in ones life where they should stop striving. That’s the biggest thing to me, everyday is a gift and we should work to make every minute count.

There’s a million other things I could say, but for now I’ll let that sink in.

BGitB:  How does this project tie into your vision/purpose?

Lyonn:  I don’t want to cross any lines here considering I personally don’t know what it’s like to live with a disability, but I am truly inspired by these individuals. I can imagine living with a disability would make certain things in life a bit more difficult, but that doesn’t stop these dancers, and it gives me chills when I see the videos and the passion they have. I am so honored to be involved with ADWF, and I am so proud of all they do. Life is for living, and they sure are doing that!

BGitB: Why is your showbiz name Lyonn?  What is the story behind that? How did it come about?

Lyonn: I started this solo project in January 2014. I spent my entire summer of 2013 backpacking through Europe and that trip was the main motivation for me to start this project. I knew I needed to pay homage to that trip so I picked a city we visited as my stage name. Lyon, but I added an “n” to make it my own.

Well folks, it’s a worthy project so I wanted to support it! I hope you enjoyed this and if you want to know more about Lynn, his music, and this particular project you can follow him in the following ways:


Facebook page:


Webpages: (if you buy my EP on this site the $ goes to American DanceWheels Foundation)

Spotify and iTunes: Lyonn

Instagram: LyonnMusic


The link for this specific campaign


Please check it out!