Happy Valentine’s Day

Whoa. I remember writing a post last Valentine’s Day! I’ve been blogging for over a year! I have to say, it flew by fast. Blogging, and dancing, have truly been enterprises fueled by love, which is fitting, since it’s Valentine’s Day and all.

So, like last year, I’m going to write about the topic of love, in the context of dancing and blogging. Here’s what I’m loving in my dance and blogging life right now:

1) I love getting my ass kicked in Inna’s Latin class on Tuesdays.

This is a real pleasure. Actually, not so much while I’m gasping for breath and leaning on the wall for support like I was last night after Jive and Paso Doble, but there is great pleasure in making it through a class, and in seeing improvement, however slowly it may seem to be happening. There is also a great rush of serious endorphins that hit my blood stream on the ride home after the grueling work-out that is Tuesday night at Imperial Ballroom Dance Center.  More than that, I love seeing my friends in class and learning from such an amazing professional.  The studio is gorgeous, it my favorite space and floor in town by far, and their Holiday Showcase is first-class as well.  Hmmm, I guess this is turning into a love-fest for the entire studio.  Well, so be it.  I love Imperial, and the people who inhabit it, and the work I am lucky enough to get to do there.

2) Getting a positive reaction out of my teacher.

Seriously, if you dance, you will know….it is like, the best, when your teacher is pleased with something you do.  It’s those moments that are really motivating to me and I have to say, I love when they happen, especially since they are far and few between! I’ve been fortunate that in the last couple of lessons, however, I’ve actually managed to get a “Wow!” and some goosebumps out of Mr. Ivan.

The “Wow!” was just this morning on a lesson when we were preparing to begin a Rumba.  I was actually listening to the music (for once) and relaxed and letting myself do whatever I wanted without editing or holding back, which is a win, and it worked just like it’s supposed to!  Gosh, I should do that more often!

The goosebumps occurred on a previous lesson. As always, Ivan was encouraging me to perform, and told me to really “sell it!” in my movement. Basically, dance with confidence and conviction. Easy to say….not so easy to execute sometimes for those of us who struggle with self-doubt. But this was after my fearless blind running (see my last post if you don’t know what I’m talking about) and so I was up for the challenge.  It was a fan, I think in Cha Cha, and I sold it baby!  At first Ivan told me I was copping out, and in his crazy mind/explanation I was accepting $90 when being offered $100.

“Excuse me!”  I replied, “$100 is cheap! I would only accept $1000.”

“Ah, yes, well this like you accepting $3000 for $5000.  Sell it for the $5000.”

I took a deep breath and went for it.  And it worked.

“Ah, you no sell $5000.  You sell $20,000!”  And the proof was the goosebumps.

Yeah, it was awesome, even if it doesn’t really make any sense, but I don’t care – I love me some goosebumps.

3) I love taking ballet class.

I also love people who follow that inner instinct and do things in this world, even when they don’t necessarily make sense to others.  One such person is this lady and it’s because of her that I have a place, as an adult, to go and feel comfortable and reconnect with one of my first dance loves – ballet.  Trust me, it’s not so easy to find a class that would work for me….I’m out of shape but a dancer inside.  I needed a class that was challenging, taught by someone who knows ballet and could coach and correct, but a class that wasn’t too challenging, if you know what I mean.  Nor did I want to dance alongside tweeners.   In a leotard.  That was definitely not gonna work for me.  Well, Anyways, that amazing lady, Teresa, created a dance studio just for people like me and it’s because of her I can go to another dance studio that I love, Abby Bella, (named after her two darling doggies!), and dance my heart out in a joyful way, in a space full of support and camaraderie, and connect with ballet and dancing like I never could as a kid.

I love how just even the few weeks of ballet classes I’ve been taking regularly have seemed to help with balance and maybe even some strength and flexibility.  I’m finding my center again and determined to tackle a double pirouette soon – they were my nemesis as a teenager, but I eventually did successfully harness them.  In any case, I love going, I love stretching and pushing myself, and I love being in the class and in the studio.  I know it’s going to help me with my ballroom dancing too!

4)  I love connecting with others (read you!) through the blog.

Seriously, y’all!  I love getting direct messages and comments and friend requests/followers on the Facebook.  It’s been amazing to meet other dancers as passionate about dancing as I am, to hear stories from others about their struggles and triumphs, to receive support and to support others.  I’ve done some guest blogs, and invited others to write guest posts, not to mention participating in the Dance Advantage Dance Blog Contest which was ah-maz-ing!!! Not only did I get a ton of exposure, and gain some new readers, but I got 3rd place overall and Editor’s Choice.  I feel like my blog is bona fide now, if you know what I mean.  So anyways, not to be cheesy or anything, but you, dear reader, the one reading this right now, I love you!  Yes, I write for me, and to process my experiences and stuff, but I also write for you.  You guys help me stay motivated and accountable.  You send me kindness and friendship.  All of this, I feel, puts me on the better end of the deal!  I appreciate you and I want to say thank you.  I feel like we have something of a community here and I love that.  I’m glad you are here and please don’t be shy to speak up and say hello, digitally or in person!

Alrighty.  It’s late, I’m tired and have a loooooong day ahead of me tomorrow.  I’m gonna sign off.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Stef

In Honor of Valentine’s Day – Some Things I Love

Happy Valentine’s Day, ya’ll!

I woke up this morning greeted by warm doggies in my bed and a present from my husband.  It was a good start.  Now I’m enjoying some coffee and feeling energized and inspired.

I decided that in honor of V Day, I’d write about some things I’ve recently discovered that I love.  Kind of a “love list” of cool things I’d like to share, developments in my journey, and places you can go to get some lovin’ inspiration of your own.

First thing I’m loving today is friends who blog.  I especially love friends who agree to take a dance class and write a guest blog about the experience.  Thanks, Riki, for being this friend.  You can check her blog out here: Refreshingly Riki

The next thing I love is an app called “Lose It!”  I’ve installed it on my smart phone and for the last 3 days have been tracking my caloric intake.  I know, I know, sounds tedious and boring and uncool.  I was pretty resistant to “journaling” my food (been there, done that and I don’t like doing it, thank you very much) but I needed a way to be accountable.  You see, I’ve partnered with a powerful friend and leader who is also on a weight release journey.  She explained to me that one of the factors that determines if a person will be successful in weight loss is if they record their food intake.  If I am serious about transforming my body, I will need to do this.  I accepted that fact and prepared myself to hate doing it.

Surprise!  I am actually enjoying it!  And, miracle of miracles, it has spurred some additional discoveries that will aid my weight release journey as well.  So, I’m loving the app, and I’m especially loving the fact that I don’t hate using it.  It’s actually, um, dare I admit it?  It is actually, kinda, sorta, fun.  Weird!

I think the thing that shifted for me was when that friend said, “Stef, you and I are in this for the long haul.” Meaning, that we are on this journey for the rest of our lives.  It is our practice, the relationship with food, with our bodies, with ourselves.  It was like this gust of fresh spring air dancing through the dusty attic of my mind.  It isn’t just about getting to some ideal weight for me, it is about being at peace with my process, my practice, myself.  It isn’t just the portion of the race to the Desert Classic DanceSport competition in July (though that is one particular leg of the journey), it is about the rest of my life.  And that awareness felt expansive.  Suddenly the pressure and the panic about how I’m not transforming “quickly” enough to show up as the dancer in my head in July faded away.  I WILL get there.  That picture WILL become a reality.  Though, I’m not sure it will be fully complete by July.  Even if it is not, if I continue my practice (which I will), I will be a heck of a lot closer to that vision by July even if I’m not exactly “there” just yet in terms of my body.  And heck, I won’t actually ever be “there.”  There is no “there.”  There is only now, the present moment.  I’m never going to “arrive.”

Also, I’m coming to realize that goals are like archery.  You set your goal, aim, and see how well you shoot.  Goals are useful tools to move myself forward, but the gift is in the journey toward achieving them, the arc of the loosed arrow, rather than the final destination.  They are not useful when used as a measure of my worth (i.e. I am “good” when I hit my goal, but “bad” when I miss.)  And seriously, if I’m not falling occasionally, I’m not doing anything!  Failing (temporary setbacks) are part of the process.  I’m loving this new perspective and open to using goals appropriately from now on.

Okay, enough waxing philosophical.  Back to the love list.  I’m in love with my new Valentine’s Day present – a FitBit!  I am so excited to begin using it (it’s charging right now!).  It is this little device you clip onto your clothes and it monitors your movements and steps and then calculates your energy expenditure.  It also monitors the quality of your sleep and synchronizes not only with the computer, but also with my new favorite app, “Lose It!”  It will provide me with much more specific information about how much energy I’m using on dance lessons so I can eat smarter on those days that I’m working harder.

It’s sort of turning into this experiment that I’m doing on myself, one that is exciting and interesting and not fraught with self-loathing bombs, stress, difficulty.  I’m experiencing a compassionate form of self-discipline, and boy does it feel good.

Next on the list o’ love is bloggers named Stephanie.  No, I’m not talking about me (my name is spelled with an “f”) but rather this gal, Stephanie Vincent that writes this blog: Radical Hate Loss.  Talk about transformation – this gal blew me away!  My own piddly weight loss journey of dropping 173 pounds (by the time I’m done) pales in comparison to her staggering stone-dropping from over 420 pounds to a healthy body and weight.  Seems like she didn’t just lose weight, she also lost the “hate.”

I’m also in love with my scale.  Not really.  But I am in love with a milestone I’ve achieved.  I’ve crossed a threshold I’ve been flirting with for a long time, but I’ve now passed through it, never to return.  I now weigh less than 270 pounds.  I’d been hovering just above it for weeks but something finally shifted and I’m on the down escalator once again.  I can’t tell you an exact weight because I’m retaining a little water this time of the calendar but between yesterday and today it is somewhere between 268.3 and 269.2 pounds.  Either way, I’m officially under the 270 pound mark, and for that I am grateful.

Today my heart is full to bursting and I could probably write a love list a mile long.  But I think I’ll just end my list with my #1 love, you guessed it, dancing!  I love that dancing is in my life.  I love that I’m dancing my way to a healthier, happier, more confident self.  I love that dancing is one of my practices in this lifetime.  I love that it has spurred me to blog and connect with so many people across the globe who are also dancers.  I love being a part of the dance community in my area and preparing to compete alongside others across the country.  I love that it challenges me and helps me to grow and causes me to question my long-held beliefs in my limitations – limitations I’m discovering that are more in my head than in reality.  I love that dancing has led me to three amazing instructors, three amazing competitions, and things unforeseeable to come.  I love that I am a dancer. I love that this is who I am.

So on this day of love, at the end of all this writing, I discover that I, like Stephanie, am on a journey of radical hate loss.  I am on a journey to increase my self-love in all its forms.  I’m using dancing to get there.  And I’m learning to love the journey.