I Am A Beautiful Rockstar

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My oh my. It has been a whirlwind the past couple of days at the Galaxy Dance Festival here in Phoenix. I remember why I love participating in these extravagant events as I reflect on the experience which totally encompassed the full gambit of human emotions from elation to depression and everything in between – not to mention nerves! Competitions are a spectacle to behold, and an amazing way to gain a wealth of information in a short period of time. I’m always immensely glad I do competitions after the fact and this time was no exception – I always learn, I gain experience and exposure, and I generally have a good time.

The victories were many this time around. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of any negative outcomes. It was just a very special time and I’m feeling incredibly blessed, grateful, and more determined than ever to push toward my goals and dreams with dancing. After the competition, the things I previously considered impossible seem within the reach of a mere mortal like myself, if I apply myself and work diligently and consistently. I am inspired and hopeful and generally feeling pretty good about myself and where I am at.

First off, I got to dance. Secondly, I got to dance with Ivan, my favorite partner who I look up to so very much. Furthermore, I got to dance in public, in front of an audience, and I got to receive feedback about my performance in the form of heat results and audience engagement. My parents and mother-in-law came to watch, and it was even more special was that my dad came because, well, he’s not a big dance fan. He walked out of a performance of Swan Lake once at Gammage Hall hee hee hee. Even so, I think he was genuinely impressed with what he saw – as he put it, “it was worth the price of admission,” to see me dance, which was a great compliment considering the steep entry fee for the evening session! The one very funny thing, I thought, was that I pointed out to my parents how my body should look and the kind of costume I should be wearing to really compete with the high-level folks – basically a bikini but dressed up, you know? Well both my mom and my dad were basically like, “I don’t care how slim you get! Don’t EVER wear that!?” Ha ha ha! I’m an adult woman and if I do ever manage to sculpt my body to the point I could wear one of those costumes, you’d better believe I will let it ALL hang out! LOL! I don’t think I’ll ever really be THAT comfortable, but, still, I was laughing inside. I guess my family is pretty conservative and I guess I’ve gotten a little desensitized with living in the ballroom world. In any case, that choice is years off so not an issue to worry about at this time.

Also, being my hometown, I had lots of outstanding support while dancing on the floor. Many cheered for me and Ivan and I can’t tell you how much that helps me dance and perform. I feel supported and like people actually want to see what I going to share. It makes me feel more secure and less vulnerable which frees me up to let go and just emote and dance.

I placed very well, which is always a nice outcome. I placed first in both Latin and Rhythm closed Bronze scholarships and did extremely well in single dances as well.

Better than that was that Ivan was quite pleased with my dancing on Thursday night during Rhythm. That honestly meant more to me than the actual placement because I think it is the first time he’s been happy with pretty much everything I did. He said he really enjoyed dancing with me and that he even felt like he was “on another planet” that it wasn’t just “dancing the same stupid syllabus steps” or going through the motions. We were in sync and “on” and it felt great – every single step, in unison, connected. Latin was fraught with more slight mishaps but we still did well overall, though it was difficult to live up to Ivan’s expectations from the previous day when we did so well. Anyways, I’m sure he’ll have things to share with me about how to improve on our next lesson, but until then I’m going to enjoy and bask in our nice results. I’m choosing to enjoy the victories instead of dwelling on our perceived shortcomings.

Beyond that, I had some other extremely special and memorable moments during the course of the competition. I ran into Bree Watson in the ladies dressing room. If you don’t know who she is, she dances with Decho Kraev and they are the National Rhythm champions. Anyways, she knew my name! (“Stefanie, right?”) Not only that, she told me she really enjoyed my dancing. After recovering from the shock of this statement I told her how star-struck I was and asked her for a photo. She not only kindly obliged but also gave me a hug. It was a Twilight Zone moment in which I thought maybe I had been transported into an alternate universe but, yeah, that was awesome.

And can you believe there was more?! But there was. Ron Montez was one of the judges and I’ve had some coachings with him in the past so he kinda sorta knows who I am – I also attended his dance camp at the beginning of the year. In any case, as I went up to receive my placements he told me that I “looked so hot out there.” And then he touched the left side of my face and told me “You are so beautiful.”

I seriously almost started bawling out there on the floor but I held it together! It was such a powerful moment becuase he’s seen me before. He saw me when I was much bigger and he can see the progress I’ve made. I think that has to be somewhat impactful when you know the back story of a person. It was an intimate moment, like in a bubble outside of time and space amid the chaotic circus of the ballroom competition and it touched me to my core. I mean, it is so hard for me to think of myself as “hot” or “sexy” because I’m so hung up about my body issues/image but I put it aside in my head when I’m performing and just dance how I feel inside as best as I can. And yet that is the female role I’m to portray doing all these spicy Latin/Rhythm dances. When he said that, though, I believed him, and I began to believe that it was true. I began to believe I can do this – really, really do this. It was a boost in confidence in who I am in a way I’ve never allowed myself to feel before. More than that, I saw Ron later and he basically told me that I have a spark inside, that many people saw and commented on it, and that people would pay a million dollars to have it, but they can’t because you can’t buy it. And it was so honest and authentic and from the heart and I begin to accept that I have something special to offer and that drives me even more to work and fight to develop myself and my potential. After this Ron took off saying jokingly that he’d already given me too many compliments and I agreed, laughing and saying that he should get away while he could. But I tell you I feel so blessed that he took an interest and cared enough to share this with me. Truly, it’s a life changer.

I also really enjoyed having other students along for the ride. I am so proud, in particular, of one of Ivan’s new students who did Galaxy as her first competition. I consider it an act of courage to put yourself out there and participate in a big way like this and she did so great. It was really fun to kind of take her under my wing as best I could and help her have the best experience possible. I think she enjoyed it and is possibly interested in doing more competitions. Either way, I loved her company, as well as Ivan’s other two darling students. I hope we do more comps together. It’s fun, and also, I’m not gonna lie, it took some of the pressure off of me! It was more spread around to all of us which was pretty nice.

Also thrilling was meeting some readers of the blog! Not to mention the new friends I met while dancing in the competition. And it was awesome of my new trainer to come and see me dance! I can’t believe she made the trip and paid the entry fee but she is cool like that and actually cares about my goals and my progress. I appreciate her so much after all the duds I had to get through to get to her.

Of course watching the pros and even the amateur and Rising Star divisions was fabulous as well. I especially enjoyed watching Ivan and Marieta (of course!) who danced really, really well, I thought, and placed 4th from a semi-final losing out to Bree and Decho, the Perzhu’s and Yuki. I found Peter and Alexandra Perzhu especially mesmerizing to watch – they danced like hot taffy, never stopping, and it was gorgeous. Latin was also super exciting – I couldn’t keep my eyes off Roman Kutskyy and Anna Kovalova. Holy hell! How is it possible to move like that?! And I loved rooting for Roman Italyankin and his partner Tatiana who placed fourth from a semifinal because they are awesome and because I met Roman at Desert Classic and he is a genuinely spectacular person. He was kind enough to let me chat with him and his adorable student at the after-party and I just really enjoyed that so much.

And today I attended the American style congress with classes taught by Toni Redpath, Linda Dean, Tony Meredith, Ron Montez, and Marianne Nicole. You will not believe what happened. Truly, I hardly can! During Toni Redpath’s class I drew unintentional attention to myself because my practice shoe caught on one of the metal seams between the floor sections and I made a loud noise when I stepped to catch my balance. Everyone looked up and Toni saw me. Although it was one of my klutzier moments, it was totally worth it because she looked at me and said, “You are a rockstar!” and commented that my dancing was “unreal.” I thought it was uncanny that she chose the word Rockstar as that is my unofficial nickname, at least with my nutritionist. I told her she just made my entire life by saying that (because, um, if you don’t know who Toni Redpath is then you are just not alive! OMG!!!!) It was completely unexpected and I am flabbergasted even still. All I can say is, wow! And I am more motivated than ever to continue to develop myself.

It is a bit of an understatement to say that I had a really great competition. I had moments of more and less confidence, and moments of more and less self-doubt. I had moments of more stress and less stress, moments when i was “on” and hit my choreography, and moments when I was not “with it” and missed connections, steps, and had balance bobbles. I had moments when I was more on balance than ever before like in my Bolero. It was, as always, a roller coaster ride but it certainly ended on a high note. I’m interested to see Ivan’s take on the event. I’m thinking he’ll say that overall it was pretty good, though some parts were “fucked up” like during our Latin scholarship he said 50% good cha cha, he liked the samba, but Rumba was “fucked up,” but that we should build on the good things, keep on with the consistency I’ve maintained during the past few months of lessons, and push forward. But damn, when I get a comment from a judge I just happen to see in passing who is talking with friends I know, and he says “from beginning to end you danced every measure” I hear that as saying that I filled the music, and I feel proud, acknowledged, and validated. To me, in my mind, I hear that as saying my spirit expanded and inhabited my body each second… what an accomplishment that is!

The next goal for me, in my mind, is to do a big comp, and soon, for the experience more than anything as I suspect my nerves will be even more of a factor at a larger competition as well as navigating the logistics of such an event, and also to work on finishing open routines for the Rhythm category. Eventually I want to be on the floor with the “big dogs,” as Ivan puts it, and hold my own – to look like I belong there beside those dancers. For now, I am the level that I am at. There is much to be proud of and I want to enjoy my recent accomplishments even if I know there is so much yet work to be done. I’m going to bask in this glory for just the rest of the afternoon and then it is back to the real world for me! And time to dive head first right back into the hard work that will propel me forward. I know Ivan will keep me grounded so no worries about getting a big head lol! He’ll be sure to help me remain humble which is just as it should be.

I’m excited for the future. I feel so validated and I can’t express how humbling and wonderful and awesome it is – especially after I gave up being a dancer because I felt like I didn’t fit the profile. But ballroom has a space for everyone and I’m coming into my own as a performer and dancer. That is due with big, big, thanks to Ivan and Marieta both. They have poured so much into me and I just want to absorb it all like a sponge! I love dancing ballroom so very much (can you tell?) and it really shines through. I dance with feeling and others are drawn into my performance. I’m coming to own this is one of my greatest strengths. It reminds me of Fik-Shun on So You Think You Can Dance – I may not be the best dancer, but I have a ton of heart, and sometimes that trumps perfect technique. Confidence is probably my biggest hang up, still, which is a little bit insane after the experiences I had this week. I am determined to relax into and trust myself, as well as my partner, Ivan, and I think this can only accelerate my growth. In any case, after this competition, I feel that I’m 100% in my purpose, and that, my friends, is a very good place to be. I don’t think I could be more grateful or satisfied. What an amazing few days. This will be one of the experiences I re-live when I’m in heaven.

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Clean Eating, Challenge, Change, Consistency, Commitment

I am extremely grateful to find myself in a most clear, determined, and single-minded space after a week laden with emotional turmoil (as well as a little bit of humor.) As I continue this journey, which in my mind began three years ago, I am surprised and delighted with how much more quickly I can get through “the muck” back into a neutral or even positive mental place. Back when I was at my largest, it could days or even weeks of staying stuck, wallowing in my despair, anguish, anger, or resentment. I’d done a lot of work internally before I was ready to accept the help of a nutritionist and though my external results have been frustratingly slow (in my mind, at least), the deep roots of new coping skills and healthy tools I’ve cultivated continue to serve me well as I chip, chip, chip away at my own personal face of Mount Rushmore. Dang I wish I had some stinking dynamite!

Another reason I’ve been able to switch so quickly out of overwhelm and sadness, I believe, has been the support I am now able to receive from “my team.” No one officially signed up to be on my “team” – it’s just my own idea of people who are helping me get to where I want to go. This includes, of course, first and foremost, my awesome nutritionist, Chelle, owner of Recipe For Fitness, who wrote an amazing response to my Dear Body Letter. Seriously, go read Chelle’s blog post! I totally believe she’s got my back and that she’ll stick it out with me until I’m done. She’s the “coach” of my team….maybe I should get her a whistle! ūüôā

My “team” also includes, Ivan, he’d be the artistic director (hee hee), as well as my new trainer, Allison, who is so much better than my previous gal. I finally feel like I have a trainer who actually cares about me and my progress, and I appreciate it so much, especially with all the crap I’ve had to go through with trainers recently! Plus she, herself, trains as a MMA fighter, has 12 years of personal training experience, and is generally just a pretty awesome person.

And beyond that, I also consider you readers as part of my team. You encourage me and inspire me to keep going, even when the going gets tough. Fitocracy, a social media platform that is kinda like Facebook for people into fitness, is another resource I’ve used that is a postitive, encouraging outlet – you can find me under “loveablestef” if you ever decide to join.

Finally, many times I have people supporting me and encouraging me that I don’t even know! Like Tabitha – I’ve never met her, but she took the time to write me a powerful letter which helped me move forward, and from the feedback I’ve received, I’m not the only one she helped.

I must admit, however, that even though I understand and believe what Tabitha/my body had to say, I am still in slight resistance to certain portions of it. Rather than considering this a bad thing, I think having a little resistance is good, because it means I’m on the edge pushing against a limitation. Soon enough things will shift and I will have grown. If I had absolutely no resistance, then I’d already be done with the portion of “the work” she suggests and wouldn’t be any challenge! But, yeah, that’s not the case.

For instance, I still have a hard time swallowing the idea that my body is on my side. I’ve lived for 27 years considering my body to be a problem. It has never been a beautiful body in my eyes and it is frustratingly stubborn. It is limited in many ways and can’t do all the things I want or expect it to do. I experience it as being untrustworthy and I think of it as something that is sub-par and needs to be fixed but that it is so messed up that it’s a lost cause. Confusingly, it is also an ally in many regards, the most important of which are that it allows me to dance and to walk in this world, and sometimes it surprises me doing things beyond my expectations. Clearly my relationship with my body isn’t 100% in alignment, but I have faith that it can be.

I am also frustrated with the idea my body put forth about having to get internal affairs in order before seeing outward change. I feel like, egad! Haven’t I already done somuch?! I have been working at it for three years to get internal affairs in order but still I wait, wait, wait for the outside to match with the inside (yeah, it’s a little victim-y, I know. I’ll get over it). I am dumbfounded time and again at how very different my internal image of who I am and how I see myself in a fit, healthy body, and the reality of my current obese body are. It is beyond words the amount of internal work I’ve done and annoying that there is still more to go! Plus it is just plain incongruent with the external state of affairs. Like, last week I was eating my fish, brown rice, and asparagus, all portioned and measured, cooked clean after 90 minutes of ballet and I’m thinking to myself, “A person who eats this dinner doesn’t have a body like mine.” But I do.

I’m also in resistance to my body’s message to push and push hard. It’s not because I won’t or don’t push hard already, it’s because I’m sick of hearing it and I’m sick of having to dig down deep just to make it through Latin class with Inna or Mountain climbers with Allison, or planks on a ball with Chelle, or doing the stairstepper with asthma and my heart rate at 175 and me wanting to quit, having to talk myself into each and every step. I admit that here and there I am finally, finally, noticing small changes in the ability to do more. But again, I think it is good to be a little in resistance because it means I’m butting up against my limits and my job is to notice them and burst beyond them. Trust me, it is not in my nature to not push! If my trainer has a weight too low or I don’t feel like I’m being challenged enough I speak up! Usually, though, it’s the other edge I experience – the one where I’m being challenged beyond my perceived capacity – the place where I panic and get emotional and have to fight. I don’t enjoy that fight but again, discovering (finally, after hearing about it for so long) how to channel and transmute my negative feelings into pushing myself, has been a step forward. It may still suck at times, like when I was on my last set of mountain climber burpee thingies and Allison was like, “Go at your own pace. We can modify if you need to,” And I was like, “No!” and got I emotional, angry, teary-eyed, and grunted and groaned but I banged those bitches out, using that emotional angst instead of letting it defeat me. And there have even been moments when I’ve been up for more, that internally a desire to push myself a bit harder when working out on my own bubbled up from somewhere. Again, progress, but not the tangible, visual kind I want to see with a smaller butt, gut, and bat wings, with muscle definition and tone, seeing the definition of muscle working under the skin.

I am also in resistance to the idea that I shouldn’t use the scale. This is because I absolutely, as part of my goals, want and need to be lighter. If that means at some point I lose some muscle, so be it. To be the dancer I want to become I must be smaller, more compact, lean, and weigh significantly less. Period. I cannot stand the idea of living the rest of my life obese, over 200 pounds! Yes, I’m open to the possibility that I will look fantastic at a higher weight than most my competitors who weigh like 110 pounds, but I’m not willing to weigh over 200 pounds. This shit needs to come off. Anyways, for the sake of sanity and also to see a more complete picture, not just the one told by the scale, I’m considering getting some measurements in a Bod Pod, the gold standard for body composition testing.

As for the rest of the letter from my body, I’m totally on board with it. As you can see from the title of my post, especially for the days leading up to Galaxy, (and beyond I hope) I’m in RockStar mode. I am a clean-eating, ready-for-challenge, changing, consistent, and committed woman. This is how I am showing up in my life right now, ready to demolish this portion of the journey set before me. Like no kidding. Because I am hungry, starving, ravenous, for dramatic, transformational change in my body. I have been for a while. I’m so ready for new clothes, ones that I actually like! There is no going back and I still want more, so very much more.

To that end, I’ve made a little sign for myself that I’m hanging above my work computer so I will be staring at it for 8 hours a day to continually reinforce my committment. I have to say, however, that the decision has already strongly been made in my mind. Chelle created a new plan with lower calories and I’m following it to the letter. We also renegotiated a work out plan with cardio and weights. I’ve already been hungrier than before but thanks to the internal work I’ve already done, I’m able to weather it well. On other plans, more geared toward cultivating a healthy lifestyle, I felt over-full or would get hungry maybe once or twice near time to the next meal time. This time around, I get hungry 5 or 6 times before the next time to eat, most especially earlier in the day, but I have the skills to handle it. I can tolerate a few signals from my body where three years ago I would never even allow myself to get hungry, and if I did it was binge time. It may not be completely comfortable to experience a little hunger but I don’t care! I’m committed. And it’s a normal physiological function. I have 17 days now in which to make as much a change as possible before I step onto the ballroom again. I would rather accept the pain of discipline now than suffer the pain of regret at Galaxy, and I know that being in integrity with this plan will give me the best chance of feeling like I am awesome when it’s time to dance.

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Already I’ve had these little victories like yesterday I went to visit a friend and stayed longer than I anticipated so I was quite late for dinner and really hungry. But did I grab the first most convenient thing? No! I grabbed a cucumber, a totally free food on my plan, quickly cut some slices, and nibbled on them as I prepared my dinner. To me that was proving to myself just how very committed I am. No straying from the plan even when things don’t go perfectly. No excuses!

I also made a point to steer clear of my husband’s Fantasy Football draft party. We had over 20 men at our house, eating pizza, drinking beer and other hard libations and I didn’t even want to be around it so I volunteered to housesit for my in-laws. Truth be told, I wasn’t even tempted with the debauchery before me! In years past this would have been as irresistible as a siren’s call and laced with a dose of guilt, remorse, and recovery the following day. And I was even more pleased with my decision when I saw how annihilated my husband and his buds were the next morning.

In addition, I’ve already talked about how I’m going to handle an upcomming trip with my husband. We have a kitchen where we are staying so first priority the morning after we arrive will be to get groceries and cook! I’ll bring my breakfast along with me. He knows I’m not going to bend at this time with the eating, even though we will be around many restaurants and bars. It won’t be like this forever, but for now this is the way it has to be.

So now I guess the biggest struggle isn’t the eating, or even the exercise since I’m clear on what I’m accountable for with that, but rather the biggest battle is waiting patiently and having faith that this change I’m seeking in my body will actually happen. I still don’t entirely trust that it is possible for me to have a gorgeous body, one that I love and would be proud to show off. I still feel like I will be pudgy and that I am not ever really going to be lean. But I do believe it can be better and I know I will not to back. The only path is to push forward. I wish it were happening faster, oh God do I ever! But since I have no fairy godmother to instantly transform my adipose into thin air, I’ll have to burn it off myself.

Where To Begin? Galaxy Dance Festival

Oh man.¬† The past four days have been amazingly special.¬† Quite a shift from my last competition, and I’m so grateful.¬† I don’t think it is actually possible to jam everything that happened in one blog post, and I’m pretty certain I will have lots to ponder and process over the next few days.¬† I’m sure many of the experiences will continue to leak into future blog posts.¬† I will just try to put some of the main highlights here for now.

First, I was way more relaxed at this competition.¬† Not having the pressure of a scholarship really worked for me.¬† I was able to enjoy what I was doing, and I think that made all the difference.¬† I feel like I really “got noticed” this time around.¬† I absolutely had more confidence and this allowed me to connect with the audience, and even some of the judges.¬† For instance, I got a smirk out of Tony Meredith.¬† I got Toni Redpath to totally crack up.¬† I got people in the audience to cheer and clap for me even if they weren’t a¬†friend who knew me.¬† I achieved my goal for this competition in spades.

I was even able to find¬†the confidence to pull off touching Ivan’s butt¬†during one Rumba – something we had discussed prior to the competition which we thought would be awesome.¬† And it was.¬† And my friend Randall even got it on video!¬† This is what got Toni Redpath to bust up laughing.¬† I rock!

I strained something in my hip on the second heat which sucked.  Thanks to ibuprofen and not wanting to miss out on anything, I pushed through, even after re-tweaking it again during Latin rounds.  But my family surprised me, and that was so awesome.  My parents were traveling but my husband and mother-in-law and my brother and sister-in-law and my 4-year-old niece and 2-year-old nephew came to see me dance.  It was unexpected and so special to get to share some of my dancing with them.  Now I just need to lay low for a few days to allow my hip to recover.

One of the moments I will treasure forever was Debbie Avalos¬†Kusumi telling me that she enjoyed watching me dance and that she could feel me through my dancing.¬† God, isn’t that the best compliment you could ever get?¬† It really made my day.¬† But poor Ivan, he was jokingly sad that everyone said things about his students, but not him.¬† Well, really they were complimenting him too because he was the one who worked with us to create the performance.

I had so much fun watching my friends and acquaintances dance, watching the pros dance, just hanging out with Ivan and Marieta which is always very entertaining and full of laughter, chilling with my bud Randall, making new friends, and more it was a delightful break from reality and I love feeling so connected to the wacky world of ballroom.

Today was special as well.¬† After the competition the event organizers had an American style congress with some of the top teachers and coaches in the American Rhythm and Smooth styles.¬† I was frankly shocked at how few people attended¬†because from my perspective it was an amazing opportunity to learn.¬† And I’m so glad I went because boy was it fun!¬† Especially the lectures by Ron Montez, Toni Redpath, and Bob Powers.¬† I’m sure I’ll write more about that in a later post, but I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from these greats!

I’ll share more once I’ve had a chance to rest a bit.¬† Thanks for all the well-wishes and support.¬† I had a fantastic experience and am even more fired-up to work diligently toward my dancing and body goals.¬† I refuse to settle when I now have confidence in my dancing abilities and confidence that I can work to improve the technique toward excellence.¬† Hey, I’m a work in progress, you know?¬† My dancing nor my appearance aren’t where I would like it to be, but I’m proud of putting myself out there again and proud that I was able to loosen up and enjoy the dancing.

To be continued….

Dancing With Matt Damon

Seriously.

It happened.  And he was a pretty good dancer.

We did Smooth and the best part was that our frame was so light and I barely got winded at all.¬† It wasn’t technically perfect, and we had a few slight miscommunications in leads, but all in all it went really, really well.¬† It felt very free and joyous.¬† And hey, just because it happened while I was sleeping doesn’t make it any less real, right?

I blame¬†this fanciful¬†imagining on¬†my¬†choice of movie before going to bed.¬† Not something I’d usually choose, but Eurotrip was on.¬† It came on after something else was over and I just didn’t change the channel.¬† But then there was this funny song in the movie sung by somebody, a rocker, who I didn’t recognize at first but upon closer inspection turned out to be Matt Damon.¬† It was a little bit shocking.

To set the scene, the guy holding the cup and not jumping in the crowd is Scotty and he was dumped by Fiona very recently.

Also, as an aside, I found this scene from the movie entertaining and funny:

So anyways.¬† It was a nice dream and I awoke to head off to a real dance lesson with someone even better.¬† Although not a movie star, Ivan is still pretty dang cute.¬† Just ask my mother-in-law.¬† When she first met him she said, “I may be old, but I’m not dead!”¬† Ha!

I told him about my dream and he was like, “Who is Matt Damon?”¬† Ivan claims he’s only seen the movie Titanic.¬† That’s it.¬† But I came to find out that he has seen like House Party or some other equally awful movie when we were on the road trip to Desert Classic.¬† I can’t remember which one exactly, but it was shocking.¬† Like, you’ve seen only Titanic and House Party?¬† You are such a weirdo!

So, nice dreams involving cute men and dancing aside, the real news is that I stumbled upon my goal for the upcoming Galaxy competition this morning.  The goal is simply this: to be relaxed while dancing.

When I am relaxed, like I was this morning, I connect so easily and can follow.¬† I have more movement in my body.¬† I don’t get frustrated.¬† I enjoy what I’m doing.

I came to this conclusion and pardon my French, but I kind of decided, “Fuck ’em!” Meaning screw the rest of the world when I’m dancing.¬† You have to understand, though, that I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way.¬† I mean it only¬†in my own brain, and sometimes I have to go there to keep my Zen.¬† I have to basically not care what other people think and just dance.¬† Who am I dancing for, anyways?¬† So one way for me to do that is to be all “F-you” in my brain and let go of the need to be liked because it gives me mental permission to not give a flying fig what others think.¬† And in not caring, I am free.¬† I¬†can express myself without any editing, or holding back from fear.¬† This is generally the opposite of my mental reality, and one effective way for me to flip that switch is to play this “Fuck ’em!” card.¬† So that’s what I’m going to do, and I¬†already think that it’s going to make my experience dancing at¬†Galaxy more fun, more joyful, and that I will be more open and less¬†scared and less stressed.¬† A bit counterintuitive, I think, but hey, whatever works!¬† Life is too short!

I’m also going to visualize that I’m just dancing at the studio, like I sometimes do on Saturday when there are other people around.¬† Some people watch me dancing, others are involved in their own drama.¬† Either way, its fine and I’m usually pretty relaxed.

So no matter how we place, no matter how we do, my goal is to be relaxed like I couldn’t find in myself at Desert Classic, and to have some of those magic moments of connection and expression – the real reason I love dancing.¬† Basically to let it all hang out – to not get hung up so much on technique, and to just be in the flow.¬† That’s it.¬† That would be perfection.

So today it’s short and sweet.¬† This is my new worthy goal.¬† The Matt Damon that is the figment of my imagination would be proud.

Things I Tell Myself

How to begin this post?¬† I suppose I’ll be direct and to the point.

I’m going to dance at the Galaxy Dance Festival here in Phoenix in about a month.

(For those of you who haven’t liked my¬†Facebook Page you could have known this days ago as I posted it there first.¬† I’ve decided I’m going to continue to put “bonus” material on there and my goal is to get to 100 likes.¬† I’m only 5 away!¬† So if you know anyone who might be interested in the blog, please share it.)

If you’ve been following the blog, well, then, you’ve probably gathered that this is kind of a big deal, personally, for me.¬† It’s one of those “get back in the saddle” deals – I’ve got to get back up and just do it.¬† No, I’m not at my ideal body weight after just a month, but there has been progress.¬† More important than that, though, is the different head-space I find myself in.¬† Additionally, and equally important, Ivan is coming from a different perspective as well.

Honestly, there is just so much to write about now that I’ve finally made the time and space to do it.¬† But I guess it boils down to a few main things:

1) When it comes to dancing, ballroom dancing specifically for me, it’s who I am and who I want to become.¬† Period.¬† Regardless of how others perceive¬†me or judge me or place me against other dancers on the dance floor, this is my undeniable truth, and it’s none of my business what other people think of me anyways, unless they choose to tell me.¬† To cower in shame about my body and refuse to dance does no good – indeed, the opposite is true.¬† To refuse to dance for this reason is to give away my power to others and their perceptions of¬†me.¬† Better to get out there and let¬†my spirit¬†shine through my current, latest, greatest, version of myself.¬† This is to stand in my¬†personal power.¬† And, as I am constantly evolving, growing, and changing, as well as changing the composition of my body these days, tomorrow I will be a different version.

2) It’s all about connection.¬† I feel like a broken record here, folks.¬† No matter how many times on a lesson, or in life, I get a reminder of this, I still (frustratingly) blank out, withdraw, fail to be present.¬† I still struggle with looking directly at¬†myself in the mirror (connecting with myself), directly at Ivan, directly at anyone who happens to¬†be watching.¬† Two things have been happening on lessons which demonstrate my lack of connecting.¬† First, especially through my shoulders, I¬†am weak.¬† My core is not connected with my arms and this causes me to misread leads, be off-balance, and¬†generally foul up.¬† Second, since¬†I’m not looking directly at anything¬†when I dance, my¬†dancing is unfocused.¬† Ironically this point¬†was emphasized in Inna’s class this past week as we did Paso Doble.¬† She danced the same steps mechanically the same for us, the only¬†variable nuance¬†being her direct focus, and it made all the difference.¬† It was like two different dancers.

3) I’ve got to surrender my white flag.¬† (Like the double entendre here?)¬† What I mean by this is that there is a part of me that gives up on a regular basis.¬† Sometimes before even trying.¬† Like my psyche finds it easier to say I can’t do something so that when I fail at it its okay because I wasn’t trying my very best, right?¬† Like if I already know I’m a failure it won’t hurt as much when that turns out to be true.¬† Whether in the context of dieting or learning a new dance step, it’s a deeply ingrained habit, and one I’ve got to replace.

Ivan, being the intuitive being that¬†he is, has called me on this, and honestly he’s looking for me to fight for it.¬† To fight for my improved physique.¬† To fight to finish a 3 minute dance.¬† To fight to own the potential inside and manifest it into real life.¬† He has told me on multiple occasions to stop “how do you say?¬† Do you understand?¬† The white flag?¬† Waving the white flag.”

It’s kind of difficult to realize what a coward you are.¬† To realize that you give up so easily at the slightest suggestion of difficulty.¬† But actually, from that recognition¬†comes choice.¬† And I guess I’m choosing to not give up after all.¬† I’m choosing not to settle.¬† The trick is catching myself each time I backside, or give up (which happens fairly unconsciously sometimes), and course-correct.

You know, the funny thing is, that I tell myself some of these things before a dance lesson.  I vow to myself that I will be connected, every moment.  I promise myself that I will be sure to focus on my shoulders so that my body and my arms are connected and that I will be able to follow as an active partner.  I tell myself I will dance with strength and energy every second of the lesson.  And then I am upset and frustrated with myself when I fail at these endeavors, which inevitably happens, even if just for a moment.

But still I dance.¬† And still, I want to work at it.¬† I mean, on some level, it’s fun because of the challenge.¬† If it was easy, I wouldn’t value the journey like I do when I have to work for every ounce of improvement.

And doing the Galaxy competition is part of that.¬† It’s me refusing to wave the white flag.¬† It’s me risking putting myself “out there” once again, because, well, I’m a masochist.¬† Just kidding.¬† I’m doing it because there is growth to be had from taking this challenge on and because I love dancing.

So, this time around, things will be different.¬† Ivan and I have had conversations about our aim dancing together at this particular competition, and how we will both work at communicating differently during the event.¬† First off, I’m only going to do single dances.¬† No scholarship rounds, at least for now.¬† Ivan’s so awesome, though, that this could be a possibility on the day of the event depending on how he and I are feeling.¬† If we are really feeling strong and good, we can always add it in.¬† But for now, it’s less pressure, and I can just go and not take everything so seriously.

Also, we are focusing on the performance aspect this go-around.¬† We are going to pay attention to how the dancing feels – and our goal is to have it feel strong, powerful, beautiful, in unison.¬† If we achieve that, that will be a big win.¬† We are going to focus on the dancing rather than the outcome.¬† It is a much healthier stance to take, I think, and this time I am deliberately choosing it.¬† I think at Desert Classic I still had some expectations in the back of my mind that I’d do well.¬† By doing poorly in terms of placements, I am now able to let go of this, come from the space that I will probably place poorly, and this¬†becomes so very¬†freeing.¬† I’ve released the deep desire to be liked and approved of, because there is a very good chance I won’t be, and in that recognition, I can really go out there and be myself 100% in a carefree manner.¬† I am grateful for the gift.

So that’s the deal, folks.¬† I’m in.

And one final note…off topic, but in recognition of a fellow blogger who kindly likes and comments on my posts occasionally, caityrosey, this one’s for you.¬† Check out her blog All She Wants To Do Is Knit¬†here.

Bet you didn’t know I was a knitter, too!¬† This is my latest project.¬† Fingerless¬†gloves.¬† My hands are perpetually freezing at work so I thought I’d make myself a pair.¬† I’m using a merino, cashmere, possum blend I picked up in New Zealand when we visited there in November.¬†¬† I thought I’d splurge and use a nice yarn since I will be using these suckers daily.¬† And, it’s my first project doing a cable knit.¬† So, there you go.¬† Ballroom dancer and knitter¬†extrordinare!¬† My next ambitious project¬†will be¬†to make a shrug to cover my arms for dancing.¬† I’ve never made anything that has had to actually fit so far – just pillows, and hats, and purses, and toys – you know, projects where you don’t actually have to find your gague.¬† Well, anyways, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Peace!