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!

Ernie Miller

When I was five and I lived in Aurora, Colorado, I had a black vinyl dance bag.  I use the term loosely, because the “bag” was actually a rectangular cardboard box covered in ink-black shiny vinyl imprinted with a pink pair of ballet toe shoes in Sous-sou.


Two to three times a week I made a sojourn from my home on the Army base to the doors of Ernie Miller’s dance studio to practice ballet and tap.  Again, I use the term “practice” loosely.   At the age of five through eight, I mostly flailed grossly.  And yet at the end of each dance lesson I was reward with a Dum Dum sucker, being the adorable “little peanut” I was.

Every year the studio would have a recital.  Every year Ernie and his wife would dance the very last dance in the show.  It was a lovely and vulnerable and authentic moment.  So much so that it made quite an impression on me in a time in my life when I don’t remember much detail.  It was that  special.


The deal is, Ernie and his wife and his beautiful daughters who taught in the studio WERE the studio.

Of course there were physical walls, and spring-loaded wood floors, and barres fastened securely to the walls.  But the studio was Ernie.  He created it.  He carved out the space for it to exist.  And he and his family populated it.  They created the tone.  They created the atmosphere.  They created the philosophy.  They lived it and breathed life into it.


So now fast forward 30 years.  I am an adult.  I’ve rediscovered dancing through the medium of ballroom.  I’ve been through three  instructors and now I’m on my fourth.  I’ve recently left my most favorite instructor (thus far) who moved me forward exponentially.  I’m now with this crazy Bosnian who is so very ORDINARY.

He emphasizes proper alignment of the bones and the body over anything flashy.  He promotes repetition, repetition, repetition of any and all steps, done properly, 10,000 times.  He is not teaching me any new figures or choreography whatsoever.  He’s simply going deeper into the most basic work.

So here I am, being serious and all about my dancing.  I don’t have much interest in being a social dancer.  I don’t care much to dance with people who are less experienced than I.

And yet, I’m invited to the annual EuroRhythm Luau.  With all manner of enthusiams!  Not only from Damir, but also from his wife.  Truth is, my hubby was out of town so what else was I going to do Friday night?  I figured there were worse ways to spend time and bought a ticket to attend what I thought would most likely be a hokey stupid party.

And so after work I took a break then got out my hair dryer and straightener.  I put on mascara and a comfortable outfit.  I got myself ready and drove over to the studio.

At first, it definitely seemed super hokey!  And then, after about 2 minutes, it seemed awesome.  It seemed like home.

It struck me as shockingly as if I had stuck my fingers into a socket – I have lived this before.  I have lived this as a five-year-old in Ernie Miller’s Studio.

It was family.  As humble as it might be, as hokey as it could be, who the hell cares.  There was joy in that space.  There were families present with grandparents and grandchildren.

And this studio, that I am now a part of, is Damir and his family.  He’s so very clear about his role as the leader of it.  He knows absolutely that he sets the tone, the rules. He knows beyond a doubt that he is the one that creates and holds the space.

I’m not going to lie.  The physical space of EuroRhythm is tiny!  It seems humble.  From the outside it is just a part of a strip mall.  On the inside there is nothing flashy.

And you know what, for me it melts away.  It’s not what I notice.  I walk into this space and I am embraced as I am, where I am, who I am in this moment.  I notice that I feel comfortable, I feel that it is safe and supported.  I know that I am surrounded by greatness, and that greatness is eagerly, generously shared with all those who walk through the doors; it’s shared with all those who seek the wisdom being offered.

I was just so singularly struck by this feeling of familiarity Friday night.  I knew that I knew this space.  It recalled and referenced my past experiences with Ernie Miller.  And wow, how very grateful I am about it all.

I got a great start with Ernie.  My mother to this day will profess the influence he and his daughters had on me in terms of molding me and shaping me to be the dancer I am today.  What a blessing and advantage I had being able to dance at such a young age.  I am especially grateful to my mother and my father for making that possible for me.

And Damir is just like Ernie.  He IS the studio.  His family IS the studio.  He sets the tone.  He creates the atmosphere.  And I’m just left agog.  What an amazing human being I have come to interact with.  He has come from a war-torn country, experienced unspeakable traumas, I’m sure, he became a world-class dancer, he immigrated, he created his own studio, and best of all, he is a JOYFUL and GIVING human being.  He has arrived on the other side of all these negative circumstances and chosen to be a compassionate, loving, generous, passionate, kind, caring, gentle, expert human being and dance coach.   He has created a home for all of us who chose to accept his brand of study and excellence.

Damir, and the results he creates, looking both at the students of his I know and his studio, are seemingly humble, simple, and, even, dare I say, boring!  And yet, they are also captivating, impeccable, and embodying excellence.   He has a quiet sort of “shouting” to the world.  And his results speak loud and clear for those with eyes to see, for those who have the clarity of mind  to understand.

So you know what?  I am so happy I went Friday.  I realized that I will never miss a party for the studio again if I can help it!  I realized that it’s about family.  And I realized, on a whole new level, what a special and excepetional human being Damir is.  God bless him for creating this space.

I am come home.

Status Report

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and I find it odd how I used to feel the need to blog so much more than I do these days.  I think it is a result of the change in focus, mood, and tempo of my dance journey at this time.

In some ways, I feel like I’ve never danced before, like I’m just now learning how to dance.  For certain, I’ve taken a step back to focus on my foundation.  There is a huge emphasis on my feet and ankles, and although we’ve talked through hips and lats, it’s mainly my lower body that we’re working on.

I feel more balanced and controlled, which is a good thing.  However, being such an emotional person, it feels quite odd to move almost robotically, going slower than music, really breaking down each movement in minute detail.  Indeed, I often feel like my movement is quite restricted.  Amazingly, I see in the mirror, however, my body is creating similar shapes as before, it just feels completely different dancing it from the inside, dancing it from the alignment in my bones, from an internal point of reference.  I will feel like I’m not moving very much, taking smaller steps, and yet I’ll see in the mirror there is actually a lot going on, I am actually dancing my body more, I’m working to integrate all the parts like never before, the movement is more refined.  There’s so much to remember, so much going on, I feel like a complete novice all over again.

I’m also missing some of the excitement I used to feel with Ivan.  I miss being able to just dance a cha-cha routine all the way through as these days it’s just a few of the basic figures repeated over and over and over.  But on the flip side, there are not so many emotional ups and downs, it’s not as dramatic, and I’m feeling more grounded and independent in my dancing.  I’m also not as depressed about my body as I was with Ivan – he used to remind me of it so much more, and he’d emphasize that I needed to lose weight quickly, how it was really holding me back.  Although Damir acknowledges the issue, there’s just not the same obsession about it.  He totally believes in me to do it, if I want to.  His entire philosophy is to empower others with support and information and then they can take it as far as they would like to.  In other words, it’s all up to me.  There’s less pressure and shame projected upon me, less attachment, and this has been freeing.  I’ve been able to choose my speed about doing things, there is no making me feel bad about the choices I’m making.  As Damir explains it, it’s a case of delayed gratification.  By putting in the time and effort to achieve technical excellence, to really work through the process from the bottom up, including the transformation of my body, slow and steady, I’m going to own my dancing and have an unshakable confidence in it like never before. I’ll be “the real deal.”

And as much as I aspire to compete in the near future, the focus is more on the process itself.  This has made it so I have more energy to devote to my diet and exercise regimen.  It’s starting to come together as a regular routine and this consistency is something I’ve sorely needed.  It’s the regularly scheduled lessons, knowing what to expect, knowing what to work on, that’s made it so I feel I’m more settled, calmer, and I have no doubt that when I do step on the dance floor the next time, it will be an entirely new experience as well as performance quality.  I am evolving on many levels.

And another new thing, I’ve been getting in some practicing alone.  It’s really simple stuff – rumba box, backward walks, rondes, basic turns.  I have no arm styling whatsoever.  In fact, going full speed with music at this point feels overwhelming.  I wonder if I will ever get to the place where I can execute this level of excellence while moving full-speed.  But I’m glad to be taking on a new level of responsibility for my dancing.  Even when I danced as a kid I really didn’t ever practice outside of class.  I think the fact that I’m willing to do it shows a new level of maturity and dedication to my goals.

Speaking of goals, I brought up the idea with Damir.  I mean, the main reason I do this is because I want to compete on a high level.  It was odd to miss Galaxy this year, but it was the right decision to sit out.  I’m just not ready to perform yet.  I wonder when I might be.  But I can’t just dance with no purpose on the horizon.  So I mentioned that I’d like to do Ohio before I die and said, “Maybe we can do Ohio next year,” to which Damir replied “Oh girl! You would rock Ohio next year!”  I do appreciate that Damir holds a positive vision for me.  He tells me it’s not as far off as I think even when I’m feeling like I’m never going to be ready.

I still completely believe my decision to move was the right call and I believe wholeheartedly that this is already moving me forward to the next level of dancing.  However, there are also prices I’m paying.  For one, I miss out on Inna’s class on Tuesdays.  I miss the extra difficult cardio it provided and I miss seeing my friends.  It’s a bummer, but at the same time, the deal is, it was Damir’s only stipulation.  He has his reasons for this request and I completely understand them.  I agreed and I am a person of my word so I’m going to be in integrity about it.  I’m just acknowledging that I miss it.

So maybe that’s why I’m not so fired up about blogging – because there aren’t hilarious stories to share.  It’s all so very ordinary.  It’s just what I need right now, and it’s not as entertaining to read about as Ivan’s antics or Inna’s ball-busting classes.

What I can say is that I adore Damir.  I’ve been so blessed to work with both Ivan and he, both of whom  have wonderful hearts.  They have different teaching styles and I’ve needed both.  Ivan brought down some of my emotional walls and pulled expression out of me that I was afraid to share.  Damir is helping me to get my feet and legs under my body, to feel solid, to focus on the details of technique, and he’s empowering me to diagnose myself when things go wrong.  In other words, with his guidance, I’m learning why things work or don’t work and how to fix them.  What a relief!   He is truly a master at understanding how the body works and I’m always amazed at his laser-like ability to seen tiny imbalances or misalignments – I’m talking like millimeters off!  It’s amazing.

And it’s so nice to have my lessons so close to home.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8am like clockwork I make my way to be Damir’s first student for the day.  He welcomes me by opening the door to the studio wide and asking me, “How are you doing, girlfriend?”  He gives me a huge kiss on the head or the cheek and a hug both when I arrive and when I leave.  I’ve had one or two emotional lessons, just because I was bummed about stuff, and he’s been so awesome about that, letting me show up however I need to be, not needing me to be anything other than who and how I am.  He celebrates when I mess up because it elucidates my weaknesses and limitations so I can properly address them – it also creates the space for it to be okay if I mess up, which is very helpful since I have perfectionist  tendencies which can be quite unhealthy.  And one day, when I was a complete emotional mess, he scheduled me for a second lesson that day because he could see that I needed it.  I came back, in a better place after a hard work out at the gym, and we danced Cha Cha, and it was wonderful.

So there you go. It’s a new season.  My dancing life is pretty boring, but it’s good boring.  It’s meditative. It’s empowering.  It’s helping me find my center and balance.  It’s the Yin to the Yang cycle I was in. And even if progress is seemingly slow, plodding, methodical, I’m looking forward to what’s coming.  I’m getting excited to compete again.  And even more than that, I’m becoming who I’ve dreamed of being.  I’m getting closer and closer to expressing all of who I am, and the best part is that as I evolve I will be able to sustain the change.

And  you know what?  I think Damir’s right.  It’s not all that far off.  It feels like it from here but I have a suspicion that things are really going to shift more quickly than I expect.  I’ve already been surprised by how my body has soaked up certain new things, way faster than I would have thought.  I’m not kidding that it’s a process of discovery of my own physique and more often than I’d have predicted I pleasantly surprise myself by doing things I didn’t think I could do.  I’m so ready to absorb certain things, energetically, emotionally, spiritually, and physically and it’s reflected in the movement my body can execute with just a tiny bit of guidance.  Ultimately, I’m hopeful.  What a good place to be.




No Shortcuts To The Top

Here’s a quirky little fact about me; I love reading about mountain climbing.  Bouldering, 8000 meter peak epics, Nepal, Everest, K2, The Eiger Wall, and The White Spider are just a few of my favorite subjects.  I’m mildly obsessed.  For whatever reason I am enthralled by the journey, internally and externally, of those who risk their lives to reach the highest peaks and scale the most technical climbs in the world.

I think in many ways mountain-climbing parallels high-level dancing, maybe that’s why I’m drawn to it.  Both pursuits require determination, discipline, and practice.  Both are beautiful.  I think I like ballroom better because I don’t have to risk my very existence to explore my vulnerabilities and limitations.  I am challenged quite enough two and a half inches off the floor, thank you very much! Lol.

Anyways, one mountaineer-author I particularly enjoy (there are many) is Ed Viesturs.  You may recall him from the IMAX movie about Everest (which rocked my world in high school when I saw it on that eight-story screen – seriously, Khumbu Icefall?  You may pee your pants seeing how they traverse it using aluminum ladders lashed together to cross cravasses) and the 1996 Mount Everest disaster documented in Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.”  He’s a world-class high-altitude athlete and he is the first American to summit all 14 of the 8000-meter-er’s – the 14 highest mountains on Earth.  As you might imagine, it’s an exclusive club.

Things I appreciate about Ed are that he is pragmatic, level-headed, he trains like a madman, he climbs with an ethos, and he lives by the credo, “Getting to the top is optional, returning home is compulsory.” He pushes his personal limits while at the same time lives in a personally responsible manner.  He even takes on further responsibility when others are in need around him because that’s who he is.

Well, anyways, I’ve enjoyed reading about Ed’s pursuits and I’ve learned a lot about being human from his books (as well as other mountaineers).  Honestly, I think that is why they do such extreme feats – to get to the core of their selves, to come right up against their limitations, demons, and boundaries, and to test their mettle, to discover who they are.

I’m no adrenaline junkie, but I can relate to the journey of self-discovery.  For me, as I’ve mentioned before, dance is my practice.  It is my walking, moving, bodily meditation.  It helps me integrate all aspects of self: mind, body, spirit, physical, anatomical, atomic, subatomic, and energetic.  It also helps me connect with myself, others, the universe, God.  I am a drop in the ocean and the entire ocean in a drop.  I can go just as deeply into myself through dance as Ed does when he climbs high into the clouds.  In a way, we are on the same journey, it just looks different externally.  Internally, we are coming up against our core selves with every step.

This is why I came to Damir.

This is the work we are doing.

It is deeply personal and internal.  And it’s a big shift.  And that’s why I haven’t felt so much like blogging about every new awareness, because they are coming at light-speed.  It’s like drinking from a fire-hydrant. And I’m not even sure I could explain or describe the work we are doing, anyways.  It’s beyond dancing.  It’s beyond the movements.  It’s the metaphor of the dancing and it is the actual dancing, and it is so much more at the same time.

Everything is changing.

It’s not obvious.

People are going to be able to tell that I have changed when I’m through on the other side of this leg of the journey, but they may not know what I did exactly.

This is the work I am doing with Damir.  It is all of the invisible stuff, all of the internal dancing that happens between sinew, muscle, bone, and energy.  It is rewiring my neurons to fire differently.  It is retraining my muscle memory and placing my awareness in long-neglected cells of my body, in forgotten pockets of DNA.  It is changing my structure, my elasticitity.  It is allowing me to be stable and to stretch.  It is helping me find beauty in opposition, for only in using opposing forces can we move.

I’m learning it isn’t actually ideal to be completely balanced 100% because if you are, there is absolutely no movement; there is only stillness.  To create movement, there must be an imbalance, even if it is ever-so-slight.  And with this new level of rooting deep into the earth, this new level of stability, my bodily movement is so much more under my control, I can be so much more deliberate about it. Trust me, there’s still lots of work to do, but already it is improved exponentially.

This work changes everything.  It is transforming me and I will emerge on a different level.  From the outside, it looks like nothing has changed, or even maybe that I’ve “regressed” because it is so “ordinary,” as Damir puts it.  But I know the truth.  I know that internally I will never be the same.

Here’s a good analogy; I don’t care if you have a Rolex dripping in diamonds if it fails to tell accurate, reliable time, if it fails to fulfill its purpose.  I’d take a practical Casio calculator watch over it any day.  The faulty Rolex, however, is shiny and appears beautiful on the outside.  Dancing can be like this.  Right now I’m working to become a Casio.

With Damir, I’m learning to balance my Yin and Yang energies, my Masculine and Feminine.

I’m learning to stand on my own feet

I’m learning to hold and control my own space.

I’m learning to be present.

I have not learned any specific new dancing technique.  I have not learned one new step or one new way to style my arms.  I have not danced anything more than Rumba boxes, forward and back steps, delayed steps, hip turns or spirals.  No new figures.  No routines.  Only fundamentals.  They apply to EVERYTHING.  It is AWESOME.

I totally trust that I’ve made the correct move. This is exactly where I need to be.

I miss Ivan and I do hope we can partner again.  That’s mostly up to him.  I’m committed to do my work regardless.  But I have a deep knowingness that Damir is a coach, not a partner, at least at this point in time.  I also have a deep knowingness that I have no need to worry about this, that the right person will show up when I’m ready and he’s ready, be it Ivan, or no.

So that’s what’s going on with me.  I’ve no competitions in my sights.  I am committed to doing the work. And the work is, well, mundane, ordinary, and basic.  It is learning my body, feeling it spatially, and understanding how it works.  I’m honing my instrument in a way I’ve never had access to before.

I feel settled. If that even makes any sense.  I feel grounded and secure.  And I need this like no kidding to stretch beyond my current limitations.  That is part of why I had to make the change.  I could go no further without finding my center.  I needed a space where it was safe to explore my shortcomings.  With Damir, it’s encouraged.  We bring my imbalances to light and in this way dissolve them.

The work I’m doing is to find and embody the paradox; to find the stillness, calmness, steadiness in the frenzied movement of a Cha-Cha.  In this way I can be my most authentic self.  What a blessing to have found a guide and coach for this next leg of the journey.  I am becoming who I am, a little closer to my authentic self every day.

Dancing cannot fail to change a person if they take it up as their practice.  It is as potent and transformative as any practice, be it Yoga, or Soccer, Bible study or Mountain climbing.

And just like in Mountain climbing, I’m discovering that there are no short cuts to the top.  This is the title of one of Ed’s books and I think it reflects his philosophy, and a truth of life.  I am grateful to be in the place where I’m ready, willing, and able to do the work.  For me, it looks like this: eating clean, getting workouts in, continuing consistent coaching with Damir, practicing the basics.  It looks like putting in the time, doing the mundane process, and repeating until complete.  There are no short cuts to a body fat percent of 20% or less, or a balanced spiral turn.  There are no elevators to the top of Mount Everest.

And you know what?  Hooray for that!  I’m coming to know who I am more and more deeply and securely with each choice, with each pitfall, with each interaction.  I am building the foundation of who I am so as to be unshakeable.  And I’m not only after knowing who I am, I’m after loving who I am, reveling in who I am!  I’m going to get to be me, 100% me and I can’t wait.

Hooray for no longer striving and pushing and going to extremes.  Hooray for settling into do the work. It may take time, but time is going to pass anyways.  It’s simply up to me to be a consistent Casio, at this point.  Tic toc tic toc tic toc…..and soon enough the humble yet reliable Casio will be worthy of adorning the trappings of a Rolex.