Fahren-Pink 109

Howdy readers!  This is Stefanie here in the italics.  I have a very special treat for you (and me) today!  As you know, I met The Spinning Dancer in person at Desert Classic!   (I’ve included the link to her fabulous blog here so do go check it out.  She is a very talented photographer as well as writer and you don’t want to miss her gorgeous photos of the event).  Anyways, we had an encounter, shall we say.  And, Miss Spinning Dancer is so completely awesome, I suggested we do guest blogs for one another.  She, being a red-haired rockstar, got me a post post-haste!  Enjoy!

Because I dye my hair red, often while perspiring, I will sweat pink. Pink, oh the many meanings that color has. Pink is the color of universal love and compassion. As the song goes, “Pink is my new obsession…Pink on the lips of your lover, ’cause Pink is the love you discover.” I already knew that I loved ballroom but for the first time to feel the love back, when I was awarded Top Solo at 2012 Des(s)ert Classic, was just as lovely as being wrapped up in pink cotton candy and if you can believe it, that feeling is second to the best feeling Pink has to offer, the Pink you feel when you meet a new friend.

Let is also be said for the record to show that Pink is also the color that your cheeks turn when you may have been completely and totally wrong.

After performing my two solo’s I settled in the ballroom to watch my friend Rick dance his rounds with Tina. I was taking pictures and couldn’t help but notice in between his rounds a familiar face, a fellow blogger. It was “Dancin’ with Stef” and there she was dancing (and really well) with Ivan. My first thought was I should go over and say hello, but then thought better of it because I thought, “Dude she’s in the middle of her rounds, she might be in competition mode, she may not appreciate an introduction now.” I chose to watch and smile as they danced to give them a little of the pink.

After her round, to my surprise she came over to me, introduced herself and she was lovely. We had such a lovely chat in fact, she may have forgotten that she had to go dance another round. But Ivan called her over and she was on the floor in a flash. High off of the feeling of meeting a new kindred spirit, I cheered. I cheered LOUD. REALLY LOUD. So everyone could hear! “GO STEF! WHOOOOOO! GO COUPLE 109!!!” Maybe Ivan heard me or it was just that AMAZING cosmic timing I have, because without missing a beat (and I’m sure he never has), Ivan turned around to reveal the number perfectly placed on his back, 190. Whoops…

Oops.

Crap.

The temperature that the human body starts to perspire is between 75-80 degrees F, it just got hotter then Hades exactly where I was sitting in the air conditioned ballroom and the pink sweat started to trickle down the back of my neck. Thinking, maybe she didn’t hear it, I debated not mentioning it, ever. But she did hear it, I owned up to my dyslexic mistake and we laughed and laughed about. Pink cheeks flushed the whole time.
So to finish the song… “Pink gets me high as a kite, And I think everything is going to be all right, No matter what we do tonight.”

Photo captured by The Spinning Dancer of me and Ivan

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The Joys Of Fake-Tanning

Goodness me…

The blog is getting away from me! I can’t believe how long it has been since I have been able to find a moment to sit and write. Again, so much has happened since I last posted.

Really, there is only one thing on my mind….

Though I go to work daily, and do some online writing jobs, and try to get some sleep, every spare moment my mind wanders to the Desert Classic. A jolt of excitement flushes through my stomach every time I imagine what it will feel like to be there, only a few short days from now.

But until then, there’s a lot of work to do!

The dancing is pretty much where it is going to be. Ivan and I can discuss small details at this point and work on performance, and also just continue to go through the steps and connect. I think that’s probably the most important thing right before a competition.

Ivan is actually really excited about it. I, well, I had a nightmare about it last night! I dreamt that he was late and while I was looking for him, I missed most of my dance heats. Then, I couldn’t find my dance costume. I couldn’t get the pantyhose on. I couldn’t move fast enough. We finally made it on the dance floor, but Ivan was in a foul mood, and the judges didn’t like our dancing. In fact, one was correcting us while we were competing! After that round was finished, we went to go talk, and Ivan was talking so much that we missed the last heats that I had on my ticket. Can you say anxiety much?

But Ivan, well, he says he’s going to do great with Marieta on Saturday night because he will have been dancing on the floor with me all weekend. He will have the lay of the land and feel comfortable in the space. For him, it’s worse to just show up and get thrown on the floor. It’s worse to not be dancing all day long and then have to dance from a “cold start,” if you will. Well, I do what I can to help! Just kidding. But still, I’m glad that he seems ready to enjoy the competition.

Anyways, last weekend we went to the lake again, but this time we had a speed boat. Ivan was really amazing. After only like two tries, he made it up on the wakeboard.

Me, I wasn’t so successful.

But like Marieta, I too got to ride the inner tube.

But boy were we all sore for the next few days! I was laughing with Marieta because she and Ivan couldn’t even practice Monday and Tuesday because they hurt so bad they could barely move.

But move we have, anyways. Marieta and her mom, Ivan’s mother-in-law, Nona, are making me a second dress, like I mentioned. It has evolved into something entirely different from the original sketch, but I’m liking it so much better. It has lovely draping that hides all my bulges and bumps. It is now off the shoulder because of how the arms fit when they were attached, but again, it is an improvement to the original design that just sort of happened. I think this dress has a mind of it’s own. It’s designing itself! Anyways, they’ve promised me the dress will be done by Monday so I can have it and try it on in case any last-minute fixes need to be done and I’ll share photos when I can.

Also, I have decided to tan for this competition, and not be “yogurt” as Ivan calls it. Yes, I have a pale complexion normally, but now I’m living in an alternate universe where I’m going to a tanning salon, for a spray tan, of course. And it feels funny to be darker, but Ivan really liked it when I did an at-home version by myself.

I learned a few things from my experiment which I will share with you here. Please don’t laugh too much. Well, scratch that, actually laugh tons. I’m laughing at myself, and just glad I gave myself enough lead time for my home-done tan to fade a bit.

So if you are going to purchase a spray bottle of tanning stuff to do at home, learn from my mistakes. Number one, clean your hands, especially the palms, right after you spray. Mine have looked like I have dirt on them perpetually for a week!

Next, and this one seems obvious, spray evenly. I managed to create some very straight lines on my body of where I sprayed and where I missed. Like on my fingers, there was a line of tan and a line of white. And on my arms, It was like a painted street divider from the side to the under part of my arm.

Then, there is streaking. Yeah, on the back part of my legs to the inner calf there were streaks where the liquid collected. In some areas it created dark streaks. In others, it created, well, nothing. My yogurt-y skin shone through in stark contrast to the nearby copper, like coal eyes embedded in a snowman’s face.

Finally, it did look kinda orange. But, even with all my blunders, Ivan liked it when I showed up for my lesson Wednesday. I do think it made my calves look slightly smaller.

But really, Paragon was right….it DID affect the way I felt. I felt more like a “real” ballroom dancer. Like a fat Karina Smirnoff or something. It was a little bit addicting! Not that I’d normally go around looking like that – I feel like a freak, like my face is dirty or something as I wade around in my life, but it will make a difference on the dancefloor.

So today after work I went to a real tanning salon now that the crappy job I did faded a bit and to fix the streaky errors. But that was an experience as well. I suppose it is probably best to have a person physically spray you in detail in one of those tents but honestly, I’m just not comfortable enough with my body to have someone see me like that yet. So I opted for the automatic tanning machine so I could be by myself in the room.

It made me think of this episode from the t.v. show “Friends” where Ross has an experience, shall we say, with a tanning machine. Seriously, people, this is funny. Click and watch! And, as an aside, the first tanning machine Ross enters is the exact same one that sprayed me today and it was definitely rigged for t.v….I will explain about the mist later in the post…

Well, I made sure to turn around when I was in there! No counting Mississippi for me! But even I learned a few things about those machines:

First, I closed my eyes for the first part (the front half) and when I opened them, I thought maybe my vision had changed. There was so much mist in the air that everything looked blurry. That was a little disconcerting, and not at all as clear as it was on the t.v. clip there.

Second, breathing was a bit of an issue. That stuff, whatever it is, kinda stinks, and is certainly a chemical. You can’t help but breathe it in when it is saturating the air so heavily. I personally have asthma so I’m a bit sensitive to things like that. I don’t know what a person can do about it, except maybe do the hand spraying in that tent, or have a fast-acting inhaler nearby should it trigger an asthma attack. Maybe pre-treat with albuterol before going in the machine if necessary. Oh, and just like when I go camping near dark soil, well, um, blowing my nose is colorful at the moment.

Third, they give you barrier cream to put on your nails and hands and feet, and I thought I applied it liberally…but again, my hands look like I’ve been making mudpies all day. I guess really slop that stuff on. The spray gets under your nails and looks grimy!

Lastly, they give you a cover for your hair, but make sure to keep it right at the hairline. Mine fell just a little below it and it created a line on my face. Nothing that can’t be fixed when I go in to tan again on Sunday, and nothing that couldn’t be blended with some make up, but still, it’s kind of tough to get it exactly right.

All in all, though, I should just thank my lucky stars I didn’t end up looking like Ross! You know?

Anyways, I don’t think my experience at Desert Classic will be anything at all like my dream. I fully anticipate it to be oodles of fun. I’m going to have my friend Colette there, and some other gals from Inna’s class on Tuesdays will be there too, as well as Ivan and Marieta, and Inna and Artem. I will get to meet Paragon in person, which I’m super excited about, and I have like, two local friends who are making the trek to come watch me in Palm Springs! I am so blown away by that. Truly. It feels awesome and I already feel supported and like people are rooting for me and I haven’t even taken one dance step yet! I am so blessed! Plus I can’t wait to make more friends.

So this weekend I will have a dance lesson or two, I need to get some fishnets, I want to do laundry and pack, I will get another layer of tan, I will get my fake nails put on. I will write my final checks for the dress and the entry fees. I will write as much as I can so I won’t have to complete writing assignments while I’m at the competition. In sum, it’s time for final preparations. I work Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday we all hop in the car and head off to Palm Springs. Thursday I dance all day long. I can’t hardly wait!

And Ivan….well for his final preparations, tomorrow he’s going to driving school! Ha ha! Silly man got a ticket. What a dork! But a cute one, nonetheless. 🙂

Project Kindness

My dearest readers and cyberspace friends, I need your help!

As you know by now, I’m going to the Desert Classic DanceSport Competition.  Depending on when you joined the bandwagon, you may or may not know the entire story why.

The short version is that I met Irina Suvorov and she invited me.  Well, she invited everyone at the table, but I accepted the offer.  She and another judge joined our table at dinner during a past competition because we were laughing loudly and “appeared like we were having the most fun.”  Basically, we were the most fun table.

Irina was lovely and we shared a nice conversation.  I befriended her on Facebook and liked the page for the Desert Classic Competition so I could stay up to date on the latest developments for this competition I was planning to do.  But I didn’t seriously expect her to actually remember me.  Well, I guess she did!

I think this speaks to what I am discovering about this lovely lady peripherally through various interactions online as well as that one fun conversation we shared almost nine months ago.  It is my experience that Irina really cares about others and I think this is especially demonstrated in a new project she has come up with that will be sponsored by the competition.  Basically here are the details:

PLEASE READ ABOUT “PROJECT KINDNESS.” The Desert Classic is giving “kindness awards” to recognize good deeds. We’ve experienced much kindness from others in our lives and are grateful for the blessings. We finally decided to do something about it and are calling it “Project Kindness” The plan has one simple goal: to encourage people to do something nice for someone else. There are many ways to accomplish this. Here are some ideas … buy a friend a ballroom ticket, donate a pair of shoes to a child, pay for a solo video for someone, give some sort of surprise to a friend or loved one … or anything else you can think of. We also want to hear about what you want to do so we can recognize it. (Of course, if you prefer, you may remain anonymous.) We simply want to find a way to encourage good deeds in our community—and to bring smiles to peoples’ faces. Shortly after we started thinking about this project we received a call from someone who wanted to give 20 surprise entries to a loved one. Soon after that, we received an email from someone who wants to give away books to kids on Sunday during junior events. And another person said they are planning to do something special for someone. If you have an idea about a kindness you’d like to bestow on someone, please post a private message on the Desert Classic Fan Page or on our personal Facebook pages. Please pass this on to the community by clicking “share.” Thanks, Igor & Irina.

Incidentally, Igor Suvorov happens to be one of Artem and Inna’s main coaches.  Ballroom is a small world, huh?

Anyways, I don’t necessarily want to win a kindness award, though that would be cool, I just want to participate and participate BIG!  I mean, is there any other way I’d care to do it?  Nope!

This is where you all come in!  I need ideas!  How can I spread some kindness?  What could I do on the blog, in my life, or at the competition that would be worthy of Project Kindness?  I think it is an amazing opportunity to support the ballroom community that I love, and make my little corner of the world a little brighter and more loving.

Here’s what I already know…I’ve experienced an abundance of kindness from all of you during my blogging journey thus far.  I’ve made some genuine connections and have received fountains of support, encouragement, and shared lots of fun.  It’s time to pay it forward.  How can I best do that?

Also, if you know anyone who is going to the Desert Classic DanceSport Competition, please share this information about Project Kindness with them.  You can click here to read more about it.

Alright dearies.  Another late night.  Another early morning.  But you know, I get to dance with this guy:

I guess it’s worth waking up for!   Ha ha!  Makes you want to take some dance lessons, huh?

TTFN, Stef

I’m Gonna Find My Inner Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer

If you haven’t been watching SYTYCD, you should be.

It’s like, my fav-o-rite dance show evarrrrr.

And it relates to the title of my post. You know, everything happens for a reason and there are signs everywhere if we have the eyes to see them. The messages in my life abound. They come via friends, conversations, encounters at the grocery store, and even while watching t.v.

Tonight something Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer said on the on the show really stuck with me. He was asked to dance for his life. This happens when the judges aren’t sure about a dancer but he still has enough support that he or she gets one final chance to win the judges over for a spot on the show. He had to perform his solo, doing the style of dance that he is best at.

While very nervous in the previous rounds, Cyrus suddenly seemed calm and centered. Peaceful. Cat Deely interviewed him before he put it all on the line and he said, “There is no better feeling than being myself. I cannot wait to show the judges what I got.”

That stopped me dead in my tracks.

It represented what I call a paradigm shift.

If you haven’t already figured it out from reading my blog, I sometimes struggle with self-esteem issues, confidence issues, and body image issues. And I am also a dancer. A ballroom dancer. You know, those super sexy and elegant creatures, very feminine, confident, love having all the attention on them. Like, the very opposite of how I generally feel inside. But that is not why I am a dancer. I am a dancer because I was born that way, even if I didn’t even realize it for portions of my life. Dance lives inside me. My job, my biggest struggle, is to simply let it out, get out of my own way. To halt my hang-ups and insecurities, and analysis to paralysis, and negative thinking from getting in the way of the expression of that greater spirit that sometimes comes out when I let it.

So when Cyrus said what he said about there being nothing better than being himself and being so excited to share that with the judges, it was like, what? That thought never occurred to me.

You see, my aim for the Desert Classic, the goal behind the goal if you will, is not just to dance well, or place high, or even to get a top student award, it is actually to allow myself to be seen. To have dances full of pure dance, connection, joy. To let myself go to the places I usually keep dammed up, closed. I guess, in the end, it’s really about being vulnerable. Like some part of me is afraid to really let that show because I don’t necessarily feel like Cyrus. I don’t always feel like it’s awesome to be me. If I don’t feel great about myself, why would I want to share it? I’d want to only reveal the polished veneer, to look good.

You know, in theory, I believe we are all special, even me. We all have our own unique greatness. But when it comes to actually feeling that way about myself I waver between delusions of grandeur and being a squashed bug. Like in my dancing, sometimes I think I’m awesome. Other times, I feel like I can’t do anything right.

But the part of me that is actually awesome is bigger than any dance technique. It’s the part that my friend Colette saw when I danced on my birthday with Ivan. She told me, “I don’t know if it was the wine, but when you danced that night you shone.” It’s the part that my mom saw that brought her to tears when I danced in the showcase. It’s the part that gives Ivan goosebumps every once in a while when we dance together, like happened this morning for no particular reason I could discern.

But OMG, do you know what he told me Monday morning? There I was, struggling through more Rumba walks (in my head concentrating on my hips, getting over my feet, not slapping them on the floor, making my arms move, not dying because of the cardio, etc, etc, etc.) I was in the space of knowing that what I was doing just wasn’t good enough. That I was lacking proper technique…something Ivan was quick to remind me of, correcting something every few steps. And he tells me some fixes, and I do the best I can to implement them and you know what he tells me? He says, “I jealous of you.”

Like, say WHAT? Back that train up!

Here is this man, this amazing dancer. This person that I look up to and wish I could move like him, or Marieta. And he’s telling me that he’s jealous of me. I couldn’t believe it.

Like, what on earth did he have to be jealous of?

He explained. “You getting it so quickly! I have to practicing years and years and I never move like this. It’s cause you have talent.”

I have always thought that it really wasn’t talent. It was the fact that I danced as a kid and had a great teacher who knew her technique in ballet, tap, and jazz. I worked really hard to be moderately good in those genres, but I knew I’d never be able to do say the kind of dancing that is performed on SYTYCD. I knew I’d never be a professional dancer.

But ballroom is different. Not only is all about connection and partnering, but it seems to fit the way my body moves like a glove. By this I mean my hips are very flexible. Apparently this is not the case for a lot of people. I never gave it a second thought because it just came naturally to me. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of technique to absorb, and a lot of working it though, but I think the base is there.

Anyways, I thought Ivan was totally off his rocker. I would give anything to move like he and Marieta or Inna…but then again, maybe I should rethink that?

You know, on Tuesday night I went to get my butt kicked in Inna’s class and we did Rumba, Cha Cha, and Samba. There is some tricky stuff in all three dances to master, and Inna often has students demonstrate what we are working on. It’s good because it gets us used to performing, being in front of others, being uncomfortable. etc. So at one point she had me do a Samba combination across the floor.

As an aside, I think I am actually doing better in the class in terms of stamina. Trust me, it’s nowhere near where it needs to be, but we had a new student in the class who looked like she was really fit. Even she was like, “When is this class gonna be over?” I had to laugh. I’ve so been there! But at least last night I was hanging in there pretty well.

So back to the Samba combo. Anyways, after class Inna said to me, “I love your Samba.”

Wow! That’s so cool. And I was like, “Thanks Inna.”

“It’s so much better!” She said.

Which is true. I actually had a lesson with her while Ivan was in Bulgaria getting married specifically to work on my Samba bounce – that tricksy movement! So she knew where I had started from.

Anyways, that felt like a pretty good acknowledgement. See, Stef, there has been progress. You are becoming a better dancer. Enough that others notice.

But every time I think about the Desert Classic, which happens multiple times during the day, I get butterflies in my stomach. Part of me is excited. Part of me is nervous.

I wonder if I will have the stamina to do what I need to do. I waver between being okay with how my body is because it isn’t going to change all that much between now and the competition, and just trusting that I move well and will be expressive and that it will be enough, and then freaking out because I am going to look so different from most of my competitors.

Well, I guess I’m deciding right now that screw it. Screw it all! Screw all the chatter in my head! It just needs to shut up!

Instead I’ll listen to Ivan and the music. I will tune into the dance.

I’m big. But I’ll be big in all ways, not just in my ass. I will be noticed. And not just for my size. I think it’s kind of unavoidable that I will be noticed for that initially. But that doesn’t have to be the main attraction. Instead, I will then begin to move. And from then on, I will be noticed because I will shine.

You know, I’ve got to get over myself and just set aside all this B.S. I will find my inner Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer and love being me, at least for the time that I’m dancing. I will find my inner Cyrus and be so excited to “show those judges what I’ve got.” Whatever that looks like in the moment.

I suppose I’m giving myself a little pep talk here on the blog, well so be it.

This is my time to shine. Carpe Diem and all that.

Can You Be A Little More Elegant….Not So Heil Hitler?

First blog post in the new house!  Yay!

Yes, I’m still alive, but I realize it’s been a bit since I last posted.  Well, after yesterday I finally have something to write about.

It was kind of a rough day.  One of those days, if you’ve ever had one, where I just woke up feeling low about being me.  A low self-esteem day.  No particular reason.  No event that triggered it.  But for whatever reason, it just hit me.  To the point that I was tearing up on my way into work.

But before I went in to work and realized how low I was really feeling, I had a lesson with Ivan.  He had absolutely nothing to do with this foul mood.  In fact, he provided some of the laughter I experienced during those 24 hours.  Yes, it’s true.  Even on an emotionally low day, there are moments of joy to be found.

So Ivan was just back from the Crystal Ball in Chicago where he danced with my friend Katie and another student, and of course Miss Marieta.  They placed 3rd in Professional Open American Rhythm, which is awesome, and Ivan felt like he danced really well.  This was an interesting comment because usually he focuses (like a lot of us perfectionist-prone dancers) on what was lacking, what could have been better.  I’m so proud of Ivan (and Marieta too) for doing such great work on their “mental problems.”  If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you can read about it here.  Anyways, they are really coming to think like the champions I know they are.  It will be exciting to watch what happens over the next couple of competitions.

So Ivan seems pretty excited to be going to Desert Classic with me.  I know it is going to be an absolute blast.  I’ve already decided.  We are going to have fun, enjoy ourselves, and dance amazing.  It’s just my vision of what is going to happen.  I’m working on practicing owning my space, doing the (what feels like) over-the-top facial expressions, practicing the presentation and bow/curtsey portion of the performance, and fixing what technical details I can correct in the next 4 weeks.  It would feel amazing to just act as if I owned the dance floor!  Which, is a challenge, I tell you!  I have a hard time doing it with Ivan, and also in Inna’s group class.

Anyways, so Ivan was on a high from the competition and we began.

Oh arm styling, I’ve mentioned you before, and I will mention you again.  And Ivan really picked up on it that morning as well.  Doing under arm turns in Rumba, I did my usual arm and Ivan stopped me.

It was weird.  He kind of enunciated the question to me more clearly than I’ve ever heard him speak.  “Can you please be a little more elegant…”  The “t” particularly popped, like a single drumbeat.  “And not so heil Hitler.”

Well, that gives the visual.  I was thrusting my arm out in a straight line rather than developing it throughout the entire arm, using all my muscles and joints to unfold it.  But seriously, only a comment you’d hear from Ivan.

Later in the Waltz, I was reaching upwards on a side sway and I heard, “Hit the balls!”

“What?”

“Hit the balls.”  Ivan punched one of the beach balls hanging from the ceiling at the studio where we’ve been practicing.  He so totally knows he’s using a double entendre.  Yes, it was an admonition to reach upwards to my very limit, but really?

Then on the Waltz, I groaned, grunted.  Why?  The freaking effort it takes to move!  I takes so much energy!  It feels exhausting.  Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of breaking the damn of emotion that was coming toward me on the ride to work.  I am sick and tired of it feeling like such a Herculean effort to dance.  When is it not going to feel like this anymore, I wonder?  There was a time in my life when I felt strong.  Yes, I got out of breath.  Yes, my muscles burned.  But underneath that, I felt powerful.  I don’t feel like that at my current weight.  And it sucks.  And I’m tired of whining about it.  And I’m on day 3 of my eating plan.  And, simply, I’m tired of being at war with my body.  I’m tired of all the self-hate.

Anyways, so I grunted, a grunt containing all of that angst, frustration, anger, in it, and Ivan was like, “How you have a man in you?”

Yeah…that’s graceful and elegant like I should be in a Waltz….not!

So that started me giggling.  Uncontrollably.  To the point that I bent forward.

“Are you fart?”

To translate Ivan’s Bulgarian English, he was asking me if I had farted and that was why I was losing it in the huge guffaw.

“No! I didn’t fart!” I exclaimed, after I caught my breath.

Well, anyways, we ended the lesson and Ivan was talking up Desert Classic and saying things like “I so excited to going with you!  I want to dance with you all day!”  I mean, to hear your teacher tell you things like that, how could you have a bad day?

Oh, I managed.

It’s a dark place, my mind sometimes.  Also, there are the painful realities of what I’ve done to my body.  And the grief I feel for the loss of what could have been if I had not given up dancing, if I had found ballroom sooner, if I had stuck to my diet 9 months ago.  You know, the futile, negative, voice, blah, blah, blah.  It hurts.  And it doesn’t change anything.  And in just a few weeks I’ll be at a competition.  In a body I’m not thrilled about.

So I made my way to the car and fell a little bit to pieces.

I bulldozed through work and headed home.  Convinced the best plan was to come home, prepare my food for the next day, and crawl into bed to fall asleep by 7:30 and start a new day as soon as possible, I was in the middle of packing up my last food container when I got a text.

You know, sometimes God intervenes in our lives.  Yesterday it was in the form of a text message from my friend Colette.

*Bleep* *Bleep* I heard the ringer on my cell phone.

“Are you coming to Latin?”

Oh, I was aware it was a Tuesday.  I was aware Inna’s butt-kicker was going to start in about 20 minutes.

I texted back:

“I’m not decided.  Feel fat.  Sluggish.”

She texted back:

“AW HELL NO YOU DIDN’T JUST SAY THE F WORD!”

Well, it was enough of a nudge to go to class.  I knew I’d be late, but they always seem to start a few minutes late.  And, I didn’t have any clean dance clothes, so it was black leggings and my XXL Boston t-shirt.  It was that or not go.  Not a cute outfit by any means, but functional I suppose.  You know, only one option had any chance of getting me closer to the dancer and body I want to be and have.  Painful as it was, and as much as I liked (on some level) my pity-party (as my husband called it), I knew I’d feel better if I went.  But still, part of me wanted to not go.  Crumbling into a limp lump in bed did seem somewhat attractive.

But another part of me knew better, so I went.

I made it to Inna’s butt-kicking class and got to see the blonde elfin powerhouse for the first time in a month since she left to compete with Artem in Blackpool where they placed 2nd in Rising Star and 16th in Open Professional.  They are amazing!  I feel so blessed to be learning from them and Ivan.

Artem and Inna at Blackpool

Just another reason to ask myself, what am I saying yes to (and conversely no to).  In this instance I said yes to movement, dance, the chance to burn some calories, the opportunity to learn from an internationally ranked professional, and the pleasure to see my friends Colette and Toni.  I also got to work on my arm-styling which was a topic of interest in the group class as well (it was an arm-themed day).  I definitely benefited from Inna’s perspective on this issue and feel like I have a better understanding of ways to improve my arm styling because I was present in class last night.

Yes, yes.  Logically, that all makes sense and it is the clear beneficial decision to make.  But emotionally, well, I just didn’t feel like going.

On the converse, however, by going to class even when I didn’t want to, I was saying no to wallowing in self-pity, dwelling in self-hatred, and my comfy, comfy bed.  And trust me, that bed was calling to me as sweetly as a Siren!

Ah, well, every moment is a choice, and every choice has prices and benefits.

And because I showed up, there were two wonderful moments for me.  One, I met a new friend who had just taken her second dance class!  She came to watch the group class and I gave her a card for the blog, in case she’d be interested to read it.  It is exciting to meet new dancers, and exciting to share the blog.  Two, Inna had me demonstrate a Samba combination.  Usually she has one of her more experienced students demonstrate the combinations, but every once in a while she has me do one.  I heard her saying, “Good!” as I did the combo across the floor and when I got to the other side she had me do it all by my lonesome.  It kind of gave my ego a boost.  And, whether true or not, I feel inside, that Samba is one of my stronger dances.  I can move those hips!

So thank you, Colette, for getting my ass moving last night!  You were a Godsend.  Also, you cracked me up after class when I was sharing with you my woes, deep in lamentation, and you said, “Well snap out of it, girl!”

And now it comes full circle.  Today was better and my favorite dance show is on (SYTYCD).  The last guy they showed was tubby, like me.  And in some ways it didn’t matter.  He was a good human being and a good dancer and his joy and passion shone through.  He was absolutely able to move people with his dancing.  Then, in some ways, of course his size did matter.  Clearly he wasn’t in any shape to continue on in the competition past the choreography round.

Well, I kind of think that is how it is for me, at the moment.  Tubby, but passionate and can move surprisingly well.  However, my vision is to marry that with a healthy body, and it is painful that reality is nowhere near what I can envision in my mind.

And yet, I will be there on July 12th with my sparkles on.  I will be there shaking what my momma gave me, as I am, on that day, whatever that looks like.  All I know is that I have a focus and drive like no kidding to make the most of the last four weeks before the competition.  I have this time to do what I can to best prepare myself for the upcoming challenge.

Wish me luck!

How Does 75 Become 120???

The quick answer is, Ivan Dishliev.

Here’s the longer version:

So, if you’ve read my story, you know that I’m going to compete at the Desert Classic DanceSport Competition.  It’s coming up in July, the 11th through the 14th to be exact.  And today I wrote the check.  I kissed a nice sum of money goodbye and also made it official.  I’m REALLY going.  It’s REALLY going to happen.

So when we started talking about the competition, I thought I’d maybe do like 75 entries.  That’s still no small number, maybe averaging out to be around 25 per day of the 3 days of the competition.  I’m going to do Latin (minus Paso Doble, but plus Jive, which I haven’t worked on one iota), and Smooth, and American Rhythm.  We’ll also throw in a Hustle or two and some West Coast Swings just for fun, just to relax and enjoy.  I thought this would be enough dancing that I’d feel like I was doing something while I was there, but not so much that I’d kill myself.

If you read more of my blog, you’d know that last June I did 150 heats at the San Diego DanceSport Competition, and that was in two days time. I had to ice my feet between heats, and had 30 in a row right off the bat which about killed me.  It was a Herculean feat, one I didn’t know if I could do, but I did, and even earned Top Student in the Bronze category.  So anyways, I’ve done a marathon.  I’ve done pushing my limits past what I thought I could do.  So I thought I wouldn’t do that this time around and 75 seemed like the reasonable number.

But not to Ivan.

“Why only 75?”

“Ivan!  That’s a lot!  That’s plenty!”

I suppose to someone who once did 600 heats in a competition I’m small potatoes.  But I’m no pro.  I’m just me.  And I’m not in the best dancer’s shape either!  75 sounded like a good challenge.

“How about 100?”

“I might consider 100.  But I want to try doing a scholarship round this time.  I’ve never done one of those.  I’d like to see how I’d do.”

“Okay, okay.  It’s fine.  You think about it.  Maybe if you doing 100 you can be Top Student.”

To be honest, that would be cool.  I would be thrilled to achieve that again.  But with the 150 heats I did last time, that was my clear intent.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could actually do it.  And I made sure to enter enough heats that I had a fighting chance.  Not a lot of people do that many heats, I don’t think.  But since I already did that, it’s actually about having more dance time this go-around.  I want to be out on the floor showing off what Ivan and I have worked on for the last 8 months.  I want to have time to really express myself.  I want enjoy my time dancing.

So the prospect of going for Top Student hasn’t really been a driving force in my decision.  But I know that I would rather be dancing than sitting so since I can afford it right now, I thought, well, if Ivan wants to dance with me that much, then I will say yes.

But the negotiations didn’t end there, it seems.

Today I showed up on my lesson and wrote out the check for 100 heats.  I thought that was it.  But Ivan had another surprise in store for me.

Around 10am I got a call.  Somehow Ivan had a way for me to dance in 20 more heats for the cost of only 2 more.  How could I say no to an opportunity like that?  Suddenly I was dancing in 120 heats instead of 75.  So I guess that’s how you get from 75 to 120!

“Now you maybe can be Top Student.”

“Maybe Ivan.  We’ll see.”

“Yes.  You have to doing all the expression, and melt the ice, and energy, and breathing, and all that.  Me too.  Me too.  It depending.  But maybe we can do it.”

It’s actually kind of exciting.  I think it is a longer shot and would mean more if I actually made Top Student in this upcoming competition.  For one thing, it would be at a larger competition.  For another, I’d have to place really well in most heats to earn enough points to win.  In the other competition I had 30 more heats which meant more opportunities for points, even if I placed last.  We’ll see.

I’m actually more psyched about the scholarship rounds.  I’m excited about being introduced on the dance floor like they do with the professionals (assuming I make it to the final!  Just making the final would be a huge accomplishment for me!).  I want to put myself out there and see what happens.  I figure it will be some great feedback no matter what the outcome and great experience as well.

Anyways, that’s what’s going on in my world right now.  We moved this weekend and I’m dancing.  I’ve been going in at 6:30 am before work.  I think it’s a good thing and I’m excited to see how far I can get in terms of fitness and cardiovascular endurance with a final concerted effort in this last month before the competition.  Today I did 2 minutes on most dances we did and over 3 minutes of Waltz.  It’s brutal, but great!  Progress!

And one final thing.  I’d like to share something that made me smile.  I get spam links on my blog all the time. Luckily I have a program that identifies them and I can look through them, purge them, etc.  But every once in a while one comes along that isn’t trash.  There was a bona fide comment in there once, and today, it probably was spam, but I clicked the link because it had dance in the title and it turned out to be a fun thing.  It also made me think, if this guy can go out there and shake it in a tiny sequin speedo, I can go out there and shake it in my bedazzled ballroom dress.  I have to admit, I was a little worried for him doing the open-legged handstands…that could have gone very wrong, but I love his energy, and cool, calm confidence.  Hopefully I’ll be like that at Desert Classic…but don’t expect to see me in a sequined speedo any time soon!  Enjoy!