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!

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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!

100th Post – Woot!

Because I’ve reached my hundredth post, I thought I should write something special about that.  You know?  Cause it seems like a milestone or something.

But the truth is, I have no idea what I could do that’s special!  I think it would be boring, and maybe difficult, to read (and write) 100 reasons why I love dancing, or something like that.

So I thought I’d celebrate simply, by just doing what I always do, and chronicle my dancing adventures.  And also, I’m going to dedicate this post to my instructor, Ivan, who has made more of a difference in my life than I think he will ever know.

I will start with yesterday morning when I danced with Ivan at that new studio.  This time I remembered my shoes and there was no electrical shock therapy involved.  But it was a great lesson.  Just one of those times when I felt healthy (for the most part) and energized.  I awoke feeling that life is full of possibilities especially with the increase in cashflow I anticipate with the new job.  I don’t know if the lesson was remarkable for any other reason than that.

After work, I then headed over to Imperial Ballroom because they were going to have a social dance party with wine and my friends Colette and Katie were planning on going.   I arrived at 7pm for class with Toni where we worked on Mambo and Tango and I had a blast, as usual.  Toni is so cute and funny and I generally just feel better about life after a lesson with her.  Also, I made a new friend, Harry (or Harold) who had just started taking lessons with Toni but has some experience with Salsa and Argentine Tango and that was a special treat.  He really seemed to get the “soulfulness” of dancing, and how it can fill a special place in a person’s heart.  In addition, I saw my friend Rebecca, whom I haven’t seen since December.  We used to dance with the same instructor but she has also moved on and seems very happy.

It was a very fun night full of laughter and conversation and just enjoying dance.  I got to dance with Harry a little bit, and Toni and I did a wacky (horrible) Hustle which was mostly just messing up and freestyling.  Then I also had the opportunity to dance some Mambo and Cha Cha with Artem.  I was like, “Artem, you dance Mambo?!” because he competes professionally in Standard and I’ve never seen him dance Latin.  He was like, “Yes.  It’s dance.  I dance everything!”  I did pretty well though there were certainly some things I didn’t know and my knee-jerk reflex is to say “Sorry!” when I screw up.  He was like, “Why you keep saying sorry?  You think I know what I’m doing?”  I was like, “Yeah – you are the professional!”  When the Cha Cha started playing, I asked Artem which kind we were going to do, American Rhythm or Latin, and he said, “Let’s just keep it social,” which was fine with me.  It was pretty fun and Igor even said after our Cha Cha that it was “spicy” which was a total ego boost.

I also got to dance one Latin Rumba with Igor which was fun but nerve-wracking, a little bit.  I’m still pretty new to the Latin dances and only ever have done them with Ivan.  Every man leads a little bit differently and there are also differences in body shape and size.  Igor is quite a bit shorter than Ivan so when we did some side by side rocks and I spun in front of him, I realized it wasn’t necessary to go up on my toes like I normally do with Ivan.  He was also very gentle with his leads…it just felt different.  Not bad, by any means – I absolutely love the Latin Rumba, it’s just that dancing with a different partner creates a totally different experience.  Plus, it made me even more insecure just because it was my first time ever dancing with either Artem or Igor.  However, I was thrilled to hear Igor complement my dancing, saying “Nice Rumba!”

It was all very, very fun.  I was sweating buckets by the end of the evening but even so, it felt like everyone was just cutting loose and playing with the dancing, which is especially nice for us ballroomers because we work so hard and get so technical most of the time on our lessons.

I will also say that as fun as the dance party was (I always love dancing with good dancers and especially ones who are better than me!) I absolutely, completely, and fully feel that Ivan is the instructor for me.  It’s just such a good fit in all ways – personality, teaching and learning style, body shape and size even, and I am so grateful.

So today I awoke and headed off to a lesson with Ivan.  I got there early so I stopped by the Starbucks to grab an unsweetened iced green tea for myself and a hot white chocolate mocha for Mr. Ivan.  Sometimes I just think I am psychic.  When I walked in the door the first thing Ivan said was “Hot Mocha! (my nickname) I just thinking I want to go get a mocha from Starbucks but no time.”  Apparently I got the mental request through the cosmos.

Just then, Marietta came out from the back.  Had I known she was going to be there, I’d have gotten her a drink too!  She was subbing for her mom on a lesson but since she was there, Ivan began to tell her about our “shocking” experience at the other studio.  And somehow then the conversation turned to doing lifts.  I told Ivan I was more likely to be able to lift him so he asked me to try.  I grabbed him around the waist and lifted him up!  We laughed heartily.  Then Ivan decided to give it a go.  And he managed to lift me off the ground holding me around my waist twice!  Then Marietta told him he had to hold me over his head.  Ummm, I think we need to wait on that one, Ivan.

So anyways, we began with the Smooth dances and Ivan reminded me that he wanted to hear my heels scraping along the floor.  Boy could I hear his feetsies and I told him he was doing a great job all the while laughing at myself and wishing my feet would just do what they are supposed to do, sliding connected along the floor, heel and toe coming up and going down at the correct time.  Ah, yeah, still need to work on that.  But of course it wouldn’t be a lesson with Ivan without more twists.  He made us get really close to the mirror to practice being in tight quarters on the dance floor.  He also made me get close to Marietta, like right up in her face while we did a pose in the Waltz.  I noticed that with her, since I know her and feel comfortable around her, it felt okay to do it.  I could even look her in the eye.  I wasn’t uncomfortable or shy.  Normally, this isn’t the case – especially with strangers.  I am afraid to look and so my eyes find the floor.  I still really struggle with issues around worrying about what other people think of me.  It has gotten better, especially with Ivan, and I find more and more confidence, and care less and less, and express more, but I still have a long way to go.

Anyways, after the Smooth dances were complete, we began Latin Rumba and I have to say, it is so easy for me to go on automatic pilot.  It sucks!  Bad Stefanie!  I continue to forget to tune in and connect right away.  I kind of did but then Ivan decided to delay a movement going into an underarm turn creating a slow controlled dynamic and then a quick movement to catch up and get back on time.  It felt so grown-up and fun.  But then Ivan upped the ante.  He wanted me to find my sexy.  I still cringe inside around this.

“C’mon hot mocha!  You gotta dance like that, hot!”  He made me practice squashing my face so close to his that our noses were touching.  He made me practice coming toward him like that hungry tiger we’ve talked about.  He also made me do it when he didn’t react (like I normally don’t) being “cold,” as he calls it, so I could see how un-fun it is to come at someone with that hot and heavy energy and get no reaction.  It’s all just so dang uncomfortable!  Ugh!  So many thoughts go through my head when working on this stuff – bringing out the “inner whore” as Ivan calls it.  He tells me I dance like a nice virginal high school girl but what I need to do on these particular dances is be a harlot.  It’s just so much easier to dance a swing and be happy-go-lucky!

Also, I think about like, is it really okay that I’m this close to you, Ivan?  Or that I’m touching you?  And what are other people who are watching think?  I automatically look anywhere but into his eyes and then remember that I’m supposed to look in them but then my head wobbles around and I don’t seem focused.  Not very sexy, I know.

Anyways, we ended up having a whole conversation about all this (and more) after the lesson.  Ivan assured me it is okay for me to touch him in the Rumba.  He told me that he has to help me push some buttons inside me.  He agreed that my expression is getting better but that there is still more that needs coaxing out and the sooner I can “push my buttons” and get it out there, the better.  Ivan told me I need to love my body as it is and that I need to lose weight.  He told me I dance very feminine.  He told me I need to start feeling sexy, even right now – that it would be great if I came wearing less clothing or whatever to help me feel that.  I started getting teary-eyed.  My willingness and ability to allow myself to feel such things is so tied into my body image.  How can someone as fat as I am be sexy?  Is that even possible?

It’s tough, you know, because there is this idea of what a dancer should look like, both male and female.  I may feel a certain way inside, but no matter how good a dancer I may be, it can only be expressed so much though my physicality such as it is.  So there is both the mental and physical aspects of me that still need to evolve.

I feel like such an oddity.  I do believe myself to be a good dancer but I look so much different than most of my competitors.  Last night, for instance, I went to grab a drink after the dance party Colette and Katie.  Alongside those gorgeous gals I felt like we were Wilson Phillips, and you can guess which member of the band I represent!

To a certain extent, I’m at the place that I don’t care about my size and shape – that I love dancing and I’m a dancer, and dancing from the heart transcends physicality.  In some ways this is true.  But it is also true that my physical presentation absolutely does matter.  It absolutely affects the ease with which I can move (or not), my endurance, my overall health, and the lines and pictures I can create.  To to another extent, I am very concerned about my size and shape.  Layer womanly insecurities about being sexy on top of all that and you get a befuddled mess!

I mean, at the end of Inna’s class on Tuesday, she did a little demonstration, acting out three different couples with help from Chuck, one of my classmates.  First, they walked out with a belligerent, combative, irritated attitude.  Next, they acted very shy and lacking energy.  Finally, they came out with heads held high in calm confidence.  Inna asked, “Which couple will win the scholarship?”  We all knew it was the third couple.  “How do you know this?”  she asked, “None of the couples even danced.  You saw no dancing.”  It was a visceral demonstration of how very important presentation is.  She then proceeded to ask us, “How do you present yourselves?  To your co-workers, your dance partners, your children, your friends?  How do you present yourself to yourself?”

Ask any of my family members and they will tell you how little I generally bother with how I present myself.  From wearing worn-out clothes to pulling my hair back into a ponytail from my make-up-less face, I’ve considered spending the time and effort to present myself nice usually not worth it.  This isn’t to say I don’t dress up appropriately for special events, but in most of my daily life, I’m as casual as they come.  I always figured it wasn’t that important – that what mattered was what was inside and that people who loved me or were my friends would love me or befriend me because of who I am and that had nothing to do with how I look.

And now, here I am, addicted to this dancing sport in which presentation is 80% of the game!  Where make up and glitz and glamour are as important as technique.  Where to win at the game, I have to play by the rules that are 180 degrees from how I normally show up in life.

I almost started crying after Inna’s demonstration because I realized that I don’t always present myself that well.  I want to hide.  I don’t want to put effort and energy into make up and hair and clothes because nothing can hide how obese I am.  If you dress up a frog in the clothes of a prince, everyone can easily see that it’s still a frog.  Like I don’t want to look nice with nails and hair when I’m ashamed of the rest of me.  You can’t hide 250 pounds behind a haircut, you know?

So on this 100th post, I’m feeling like I’m still the same person as I was on the first post – still someone struggling to find herself and evolve.  Someone who acknolwedges her greatness and also is humbled by her humanity.  Someone who is still in the game, moving forward, learning, and growing.  Someone who has gratitude in her heart for all the lessons and friendships and experiences she has had thus far.

On this 100th post I can see how my ballroom family has grown larger and deeper, and so have I.  I feel re-energized and re-focused as I gear up to compete in the Desert Classic competition in about two months.  I feel clear that the choices I make regarding how I feed myself, care for myself, exercise myself, and present myself in the coming days and weeks will build to create how I show up for this next competition.

So the story continues!  Yay!

Now…. on to the 101st post.

Toodles, Stef

Shocking!

Hello dearies.

Life has been busy, busy, busy.  But I didn’t want to go one more day without at least writing something but honestly, a good part of me wishes I were in bed right now!  I know, I know….I’ve been a bad little blogger again. I hope you’ll understand….

My employment situation has been tenuous for a while.  This last week I got a temp job and today I just got another offer for another contract job, but this one is for more pay and guaranteed for a minimum of 6 months.  I’m to start Monday.  So this week, I’ve been adjusting to getting back to full 40 hour weeks (had been working 18 hours), a new temporary job, negotiating the job starting Monday, 45 minute commutes each way, car repairs, and more.  Oh yeah…we are moving in June so we have been trying to pack, sort, and otherwise eliminate things we don’t want to move.  SO, a fair bit of life changing stuff.  It’s a lot to juggle.

In good news, I did have one lesson with Ivan yesterday, I will have one with him tomorrow, and I did the group lesson with Inna.  Also, I was able to negotiate the dates off to be able to attend the Desert Classic DanceSport competition, though I’m not sure if I will be able to get of more dates for any other competitions.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to maybe switch shifts with other pharmacists so I can do some local competitions at least, now that I will have some significant increases in cashflow coming my way.

But whatever.  For the moment, also in good news, my instructor is incredibly understanding and helpful.  When he learned where I’d be commuting to for the new gig, he called up the owner of a studio on that side of town (the Phoenix metropolitan area is very spread-out and it can take like an hour to get from one side of town to the other) and asked if we could practice there.  We could!  So this week I got to see yet another beautiful studio in the Phoenix area and hallelujah for that because where we normally practice would make it very difficult to get to work on time without meeting at 5:30 in the morning, which I would never do.  (Hell, I’m so tired, I don’t care that that was a run-on sentence.)

Oh, and triple-y good in good news, I am thrilled to announce that the dance package my husband won golfing went to a lovely lady named Heather and her husband!  They will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary with $350 in dance lessons from the Scottsdale Arthur Murray!  I am so excited for them.  She agreed to share her experience with me to put on the blog, so it will be fun to see what happens.

Okay, so a post recapping the dance shows as well as a continuation of the topical series will be forthcoming, though probably not until Saturday.  But for now, let me recap my dance experience for the first half of this week.  Oh wait, tomorrow is Friday…let me rephrase that…I’ll be recapping my dance experience for all of this week except for tomorrow. *cringe*

I opted out of dancing Monday because I didn’t know how long the drive to the new job would take in the morning and I have my traditional DWTS-watching with mom-in-law in the evening, so my first lesson of the week was the group ass-kicker with Inna.  She didn’t hold back one bit this week. However, I had convinced my friend Colette to come so I had to show up! And, I’m glad she came. That was nice and she did great.  At one point I seriously about died and thought my liver was failing, I had such sharp side cramps.  We did Samba, Cha Cha, Rumba, and even Jive.  I just wanted to cry.  Once again, I thought, “Self.  This would be so much easier if you were lighter.  Even just 10 pounds would make a difference.”  It won’t be the last time….

I was in such dire straits that even Inna asked me how I was doing at the end of class.  “I’ll live,” was all I could say.

Anyways, I did survive, but barely.   But one final note before I depart from the Imperial Ballroom world, I want to wish good luck to my classmates who will be competing this week and also next week at Emerald Ball.  I know they will kick butt!

So the next morning, my body was still not recovered but I hadn’t danced with Ivan since last week so we met at 7:45am before work at the studio across town.  It was pretty cool to dance in a new place and I liked the floor as it is not as slippery as the one at the church.  We had the place to ourselves and Ivan cranked up the music.

We ran into a few snags, however.

The first one was that I managed to forget my shoes.  I tried dancing barefoot but that hurt.  We found a solution and I borrowed some shoes for the lesson.

Next, I shocked Ivan.  I mean physically shocked, like with static electricity.  And it kept happening, over and over.  Ever single time we got into frame he was like, “Ow!”  And then we laughed.  I tried discharging it but it didn’t work.  It was so funny.  I’ve never experienced that many consecutive shocks in my life.  I told Ivan that the solution was to quit leaving me, to stay in frame the whole time.  It just wasn’t practical.  I think he was about to cry after the 50th time it happened!  One of them must have really hurt because he howled loudly like a wolf baying at the moon.

Somehow we survived and his heart maintained it’s normal sinus rhythm.  But then another funny thing happened.  As we were beginning a Foxtrot, the singer in the song said my name.  Well, what he actually said was, something, something, dah, dah, dah….”blues for Stephanie.”  Ivan about peed his pants.

“What?!  Who calling you?”

“Nobody, Ivan.  It’s the guy in the song.”

“Oh my God!  He saying your name.”

He ran urgently toward the music tower and replayed the song.

“Oh, wow! It say your name.  It a sign.  It the spirits.  I think someone here grabbing the microphone and calling you.”

He was really shocked by the coincidence.  He showed me all the songs he could have chosen, which were a lot, so it was kinda weird he picked the one that said my name.  I’ll just take it as a sign that the dancing gods knew I was there and were encouraging me to keep up the good work. 🙂

On the lesson we did the usual run-through of Smooth dances then Latin and American Rhythm.  My body was just so tired and hurting from the night before I really felt like I was dragging.  One high note was on the Viennese Waltz I improved.  We did it once and I just really felt like Ivan was pushing me around the floor.  I know that there are places where I’m supposed to be active (going forward) and passive (going backward) and always I feel like there is resistance in some places and we fight each other, even though I am cognizant of what I’m “supposed” to be doing – it doesn’t always translate into the body.  In any case, I made a huge effort to really drive forward while stepping forward and Ivan definitely noticed the difference.  He said, “I like this Viennese Waltz.  This the best you’ve done.”  So that was good.

Also, Ivan daydreamed about the moment when we’ll be able to do lifts.  I love that he keeps that vision in his head of what’s possible when it seems like such an impossibility from my perspective.  I’ve been dismally inconsistent about my health and weight loss, especially with all the job-related stress lately. I know that if I were truly committed it wouldn’t be an excuse, and it isn’t, ultimately.  On the upside, I am doing much better since Tuesday having cooked tons of healthy food I can take with me on the job rather than eating out, and also having my ass handed to me in Inna’s class once again reaffirmed why I want, nay, need to do this thing.  Plus, I still have some time before the Desert Classic.  I can still take a chunk out of the journey and be closer to my ideal than I am today if I stick to it from here on out.  I mean, I did go hiking with my husband on Sunday and I did do a floor-barre ballet class with Toni, which are extra and above the usual, and I have been dancing and eating better the past few days.  I even started taking my vitamins again.  For the moment, I am back on track.

Now I just have to keep focused until July…

Okay.  I think my brain is failing me now.  Although aburpt, I must to bed.  Yes, I mean that.  I must to bed.  I’m feeling very Jane Austen at the moment.

TTFN, Stef