Boy am I glad I wore mostly-opaque black tights tonight! I’m even more glad I wore my “boy shorts” underwear. Why, you ask? Because if I hadn’t, it could have been a very embarrassing evening.
Tonight Ivan and I had a really good lesson. And afterwards Ivan was like, “This is your second good lesson. I like it. I love it. But it is your second good lesson in two months. Can you believe it?”
The truth is, he’s right. It’s been a roller coaster the past two months. Playing with the same last 10 pounds. Other life things. The long and the short of it is that I showed up for my lessons, sometimes sporadically, and it didn’t help that Ivan and Marieta had a full competition schedule. I went through the motions, but that’s about it. It’s not necessarily a “bad” thing – because there is value in repetition and showing up – but was the quality and presence there? Not like it can be. And consistency was lacking. But still, I kept going, and sometimes that’s all a person can do.
I have to say that over the last few months I’ve learned some lessons. Well, I think it is more like I’ve come to know these concepts, not as intellectual understandings, but as integrated aspects of my being. For instance, everyone always says, “it’s the journey, not the destination,” and “trust the process” and other platitudes that I usually think are total crap. And, well… I am starting to see value in “the process” even when it doesn’t look exactly like I want it to or think it should. Even when it looks exactly opposite of what I would have said I would have wanted. Like gaining weight back. But now after a week of consistency and being back on the program, I am back down and heading toward my goals again. And just knowing that not all was lost was a huge win. Instead of going into a total tailspin I talked to myself calmly, saying to myself that I know what to do, and I just need to do it. And I chose to be gentle with myself until I had the inner resources to jump back on the horse – again, another huge triumph.
Because the deal is, that I’m the one driving the bus. It’s all up to me. I get the results I get from the choices I make. And sometimes there’s a lot to juggle. And now, instead of feeling upset, put upon, indignant thinking about this, I feel empowered. It’s my choice. I DO have control over some things, like my food, my activity level. And most of all, I embraced the idea that all this is a lifestyle, not a diet. I’m in it for the long haul. If there are blips up, that’s okay, even if it is a 10 pound blip, because that’s not the final outcome. Because life is life. There are choices I make because I want to enjoy things, be social, share a meal with family or my husband, or because I’m depressed and the best way I can figure to comfort myself, nurture myself, isn’t to eat what is on my plan. And, it’s worth it. I’m done with being a black or white, absolute right or wrong, good and bad-thinking person when it comes to my journey to health. I can make any choice I want at any moment. I can choose to eat cake when I feel like the benefit outweighs the price and vice versa. That, to me, is the most empowering thing of all. I can change my mind at any moment, nothing is off limits, and I’m going to make the choices that serve me best, holistically. I love and value myself enough to do that. And, truly, most of the time the best choices are to be on plan and to engage in regular activity. And, sometimes they are not. It’s about discretion and insight.
Maybe some people don’t understand how big these wins are if they’ve never been severely overweight. Hell, I couldn’t even see them as wins until now. I had to belittle any progress I made because it was never “enough,” because I was never skinny, never even close. But from my recent experience I now believe that it’s okay to acknowledge what is going on, to see the changes that are happening. In this case they were changes I didn’t like, but then, this time around, instead of thinking I’d completely failed, that I was a total loser, that I had slipped up for a fraction of a second and screwed everything up forever, I realized I just needed to make different choices. And I also realized I’d made the choices I had for valid reasons. I simply had to own all of it, and allow it to be okay that I’d not been “perfect.” And this time, I somehow avoided the whole self-denigrating, beat-to-a-bloody-pulp punishment method and just got straight away to the next proactive step. That, my friends, is a MAJOR victory. Maybe some people don’t have to go there to learn this, but I did. And that’s why I have a little more trust in “the process” no matter how it looks. I gained wisdom, I gained a different level of confidence, I gained 10 pounds, and this week I lost 6 of them. And I understand this entire experience like I never understood it before.
And with the proactive steps I’ve been taking comes progress and results, and, for me, self-esteem. Because, let’s face it, it’s pretty obvious that how I feel reflects in my body – with weight and with dancing. So it follows that with better self-esteem, goes better dancing. And thus was the case tonight.
Amazing, isn’t it?
In summary, I’m in a pretty good place overall. Yes, my last lesson before tonight was a total bummer, but the one prior to that was just as good as the one tonight. Things are looking up. I’m heading in the right direction.
So, yes, tonight we had a good lesson. Full of connection and feeling. Full of constructive conversation and polishing. We were in sync, we laughed, he taught me a new Bulgarian phrase – my legs are “Sfvinski crack” – ham legs, when they were moving slow. And he confused me with his thick accent which was entertaining.
It happened like this: To begin the Rumba he puts his hand out and I’m to react and accept it. Then we do a slow hip roll and then we’re off doing some forward Rumba walks. Anyways, we’re to look into each other’s eyes until the moment we jet forward. It’s actually a pretty intimate, connected moment. It takes some presence. And, of course, Ivan is all about the connection, and even more about the idea that the leader leads and the follower reacts. I’m not to move until I get the “signal.” To reiterate and further explain this notion, Ivan told me that he was the man and that he was the one that “opened the driveway gate.” He said, “The man has the cold.” Well, at least, that was what it sounded like, lol.
“The man has the cold?”
“Yes, the man has the cold. Beep boop beep.” Ivan pantomimed a finger punching a keypad.
“Oh! The man has the code!”
“Yes, what you think I say? The man has the cold. You cannot open without the man cold!”
Uh huh. Right. lol. But really, he does so well with English! I laugh and it’s funny and all, but I have so much respect for how well he communicates. As a person who has been in a country that speaks a different language I understand how daunting a task it is.
But I digress. We worked mostly on Rumba and Bolero in the jam-packed studio. They were having a social dance party for half of the time we were on our lesson. But you know, I didn’t even really notice it. I was so into what we were doing, so focused on our work, it was as if we had our own separate space in an invisible bubble as we weaved in and out of the other couples. I was happy to discover a few new details to incorporate in the dances, little moments with expanded arms, exaggerated whiplash through the body, remembering to push my hips upward as I do backbends. It was a productive, joyful lesson. I was mostly on balance. Ivan told me I had never danced like I danced tonight.
However, at one point we were doing the beginning of the Bolero where Ivan runs up to me and puts his hands on my legs and I’m supposed to react, as he says, like “he’s the prince,” and I’m being “touched for the very first time.” And that I’m supposed to enjoy it, or, at least look like I enjoy it, and he started raising his hands upwards and my skirt was raised with them, up, up, up….until you could see about 2 inches of my underwear! OMG!!!!
There is no other context in which this would be okay in public!
And even so, when it happened I was like, 1) thinking internally that I’d made an excellent wardrobe choice and 2) yelling at Ivan that I didn’t want to show everyone all my cookies even as he was saying to me, “It’s okay! If you love it everybody gonna love it!”
Oh what a wild life I lead!
But I do want to acknowledge that I’ve come a long way. Because even though I don’t want to necessarily regularly show my underwear in public, I wasn’t totally mortified. That may sound strange, but listen, I’ve developed some level of comfort with my body and that is an EXCEPTIONALLY good thing. Also, I dress in the boy shorts and with tights or leggings because I have developes in some of my routines so I want to make sure I’m appropriately covered for those. I have to be comfortable to do those kind of moves. Anyways, I was prepared (I mean, I don’t even own a g-string, but if I did, and had worn it tonight, it would have been a TOTALLY different story!) and better than that, the wardrobe mishap didn’t freak me out.
So that little episode was, ahem, entertaining, but even more entertaining was Ivan’s epic vomit story, a play in two acts. He told me the first part a long time ago when we were reminiscing about New Year’s Eve. Apparently one New Year’s, Ivan got blasted. So blasted that he was going to be sick on the drive home. He begged Marieta to stop, she urged him to hold on for just a little while longer. He tried to roll down the window…and blew chunks. Everywhere. Inside. Outside. All over.
The next morning he awoke, knowing he was blitzed but not quite remembering the events of the previous evening.
He showered. He got ready for the day. He got into the car.
The miasma of dried stomach contents curled his nose hairs.
He looked around. He saw the salad he’d eaten. Chunks of the chicken. Red peppers.
It was epic. Thus ends act one.
Apparently two weekends ago Ivan had a repeat performance. Let’s call it act two. It was hilarious hearing about it from Ivan, with all his over-the-top expressions, funny accent, and wild gesticulations. He went to a party at his friend’s house and got hosed. Marieta drove him home. This time, he claims, he didn’t even have the energy to warn her or to request that she stop so he could be sick. He struggled with massive effort to lower the window. This time, he says, he “had learned from his previous experience” and so, he stuck his head out the window, his neck extended gracefully long like “a giraffe.”
He saw a car approaching. The headlights were about to pass him in the next lane. “It was amazing!” he said. “One minute I see the lights, the next they are gone!” Covered in his vomit, the light from the headlamps was drowned out. He sprayed vehemently all along the outside of his car.
Once again he awoke the next morning, knowing he was hungover, and took a shower, prepared for the day, not quite remembering the exact events of the previous night.
“You’d better go check the car,” said Marieta.
“Why?” Inquired our hero, “Did the ‘check engine’ light come on? Is there something wrong with the tires?”
“You’d better go check the car,” she repeated once again, exasperated.
He checked the car. As he approached the side and accounted for most of the Technicolor specks of food (from where is come these carrots? He queried), so did his neighbor appear.
“Looks like you had an exciting night,” said the neighbor.
Ivan procured his garden hose.
He cleaned the car, but apparently, as he told me tonight, even after the cleaning, his mom, who is visiting from Bulgaria, opened the window and found a layer of slime that he’d missed.
“Good thing I sold the van,” he proclaimed on the lesson.
Who is the poor soul who purchased it, I wonder. Alas, they will never know the full extent of its storied history. And, that, my friends, is probably a good thing.