Word for word, Chomsky….word for word.

Come on, girl….you can’t hide from me and I think you are extraordinary. Period. Thanks for sharing, even if somewhat reluctantly. You have a beautiful and invaluable perspective to share.

Stef, I’m going to kill you for this (oh really? I’m still alive, sharing your amazing story. Ha ha!)…Why do you push me just like my Pro? He keeps pushing and pushing and pushing until he gets what he wants out of me, which is the best I can do (what a pain! Just kidding. How cool is it that he sees so much potential in you and wants to push you! I can’t imagine a greater gift). He keeps helping me change my ways; a part of me that’s always ashamed, that feels guilty, unaccepted, unwanted, ugly and unloved…firstand and foremost by my own self. (Yeah, I have no idea what you are referring to….NOT! I have sadly engaged in this same type of self-deprecating activity for over 20 years of my lifetime. It is so sad, so stupid, so ineffective. But, there is hope)…

You do the same; you inspire me to take it all out, to speak out freely. I sometimes feel I’m losing it. I sometimes feel I’m not losing it, just getting stronger and stronger with more and more confidence, doing things I’d never even dared to think about.

One such thing is sharing my feelings about my own dance experience. I find dance to be something extremely personal.

I have no problem dancing at socials; that’s when I let myself go and share my dance partner’s emotions, no matter who it is, a boy or a girl. For me, it’s a time for communication with another person, a stranger or an intimate friend. It makes no difference. I am there to speak with them through my dance. So, I don’t care if someone else is looking. They are not there, only my partner is.

However, that’s not how it goes when I am taking a private lesson with my Pro or when I am doing my practice on my own. That’s an entirely different thing. I hate it if people can see me. I don’t even like my own Pro watching me practice and told him about it. It’s only me, and my feelings, and my inner world and my soul, no one else. So, if someone can see me, even if that’s my Pro, I would feel ashamed. I would feel nude and exposed.

The same goes for my private [lesson]. I cannot stand anyone being there apart from my Pro (and sometimes not even my Pro!). I feel so shy. I told him I couldn’t do a figure because I couldn’t watch myself in the mirror; the reason? I was ashamed to watch myself dance like that: gracefully, sensualy, hips and all, elegance in movement…

So, the other day, my other half [my husband], the person I grew up with, the one who knows me better than anyone else on [the] planet Earth, my hubby, was the first person I invited to come and watch the choreography for my first show. I couldn’t stand the idea of total strangers setting their eyes on me. I wanted him to be the first to see my choreo[graphy] before anyone else did. It’s as if he could break the spell and not let anyone else see me like that, nude and exposed. See me from the inside.

He came, he saw me, and then my close friend also did. I was not alone. I had their lovely eyes set on me and felt their love and warmth.

I then went on to have my first show. I had no stage fright, I never had stage fright in front of the public. But I simply didn’t want to let them see in me. Even if they did, I didn’t want to let them see how I was unable to defend myself. Dancing is giving your soul. It was the first time I gave my soul to the public. Dancing is first and foremost a spiritual experience. It’s not two bodies in rhythm; it’s two souls in rhythm. And in rhythm with what? With music, with art, with what we human beings have invented to make us eternal. We know we don’t live forever, dance for ever, are beautiful forever. ..That’s why we create things that stay forever unlike us; unlike those tiny, petty, empty, body-shells. After all, they are only heavy, keeping us close to earth while we are made for unreachable heights and are born to fly; just like the Little Prince did…

So, my darling Stef, not only did my Pro make me expose all this in front of 200 persons (OMG!), you made me expose all this in front of him and my hubby and all those stupid little idiots that will not fall asleep while reading my petty little ideas (cause, that’s what they are, I’m no writer and no artist at the end of the day, I’m just an ordinary person, that is slightly depressed and confused, but all-in-all a lucky and happy person). So, I know who to blame for my fist dance show (and I keep nudging him about it) and know who I will blame for the first time I showed to people what my show meant [to me]? Do I make sense, or do I make sense? I guess I need to geta pill…

No silly, no pills needed. You are simply a courageous and fearless Lioness. You have so much to offer. You have seen the challenge of exposing yourself and taken it on like no kidding. Please keep sharing, knowing deep down that you are meant to reach unreachable heights, born to fly, as are we all.

I am honored that you have chosen to share your story here. It is inspiring and I don’t think you know or understand this, but it gives people who are in pain some hope. If you can recover, well, then, it is possible that others can recover as well.

Thanks for sharing, my worthy friend. Thanks for sharing.

P.S. – I need some pictures! I want to post picutres! Send me beautiful pictures of you! Thanks. -Stef

The Rollercoaster and the Raft

I have all this tension in my body.

My left shoulder is really bothering me, as are my hips and my neck.

I’ve tried stretching and using a foam roller to do self-myofascial release but so far it isn’t helping. I’ve made an appointment with my favorite massage therapist but it’s not until Thursday afternoon. But I’m not gonna let it stop me from dancing, at least this is what I tell myself. You see, the tension may not stop me from going to a dance lesson, but it is preventing me from really dancing, if you know what I mean.

Before I get too much further in this post, I want to say that I’m officially out of my funk. It took a while, and a bit of a cry, and some quality time with my friends. I’m so grateful for my friends, by the way. Having authentic people in my life who love me, see the best in me, want the best for me, and believe in me is such a treasure and I cherish more that I can say. Also, life is a roller coaster. Just like a roller coaster, you don’t want to get off at the middle of the ride! Some times are up. Others are down. I can’t be in the “on” position every moment of my life. So, this post is winding and twisting, in terms of emotions, but that was what I was feeling for that particular section of the ride. For this moment, right now, I’m coasting happily along. I don’t know what loop-de-loop may be coming, but I’m grateful for this moment of contentment and satisfaction.

In any case, two nights ago I went to Marieta’s syling class at Dance Starz. It was a really good class, and many of the other girls mentioned that they felt they learned more in this particular group class than in many others they had taken. We did a little warm up, a little bit of a lock step around in a circle, and then on to Samba. In the beginning, I rocked it. But as the class progressed, I got more and more sweaty, more and more out of breath. Now some of this I attribute to asthma. Since I got sick in New Zealand the congestion has been lingering and I was audibly wheezing last night. The stupid HFA rescue inhalers they’ve mandated to save the environment (HFA’s replace CFC’s) just don’t work. I’ve got a doctor appointment tomorrow to try and get this under some more control but this doesn’t change the underlying issue which is that I’m fat and out of shape. I’m probably better off than I was a few months ago, but still, the hole I’ve dug myself into is deep and it is gonna take a while to get out of it.

It was like a mini-Inna class. At one point, doing voltas, I had to stop. I felt that if I took one more step I’d have fallen because my legs would have given out. I was gasping and frankly it just really pissed me off. It sucks so hard to be in this bad of shape. I can’t do what I want to do because my body can’t tolerate it.

I’m sick of hating how I feel in my own body. I’m sick of hating the way it looks. I’m sick of being the biggest girl most places I go.

Sometimes, when I’m in my Greatness and feel good about me, who I am, I can just say forget about the physical stuff and go out there and rock it. Right now the phyiscal stuff is severely limiting me.

So is the tension in my body.

I showed up for my lesson with Ivan and we decided to work on the Rumba showcase piece. First we warmed up doing the basic steps.

As per usual I’m working very hard. Glistening pearls of sweat formed upon my furrowed brow while my lungs worked on overtime. We completed a song’s worth of dancing and Ivan said, “Not bad, but you stopping and starting.” He demonstrated how my hips do not continuously move but rather tilt choppily. Also, shrug my shoulders in an effort to move my hips. It is a constant issue in my body, my shoulders. I store a lot of tension there and they tense up while I’m trying to force a movement.

It is counterintuitive, I know. If I tigthten up, I actually block the movement’s flow. Also, I can’t generate any movement if there is no space for the body to move. And yet automatically, mindlessly, it is what I do.

So Ivan says, “Breathe. Relax.” We practice “doing nothing” dancing where I’m not trying. I start to feel emotional and tears well in my lower lids.

He tells me it is better, that I’m dancing on my own two feet and not using him to move myself but I seriously can’t wrap my head around it. There is something in me that’s convinced it needs to be hard…it must be hard…it must be work. I’m much more comfortable with that idea, so much so that to “relax” brings tears to my eyes.

What is this fear to really let go? What is the fear that prevents me from comitting 100%?

In any case, last night when I left the class, Marieta told me I did well. I think she could tell I was feeling defeated. But I couldn’t hear the praise. I could only hear the loud voice screaming in my head of what an idiot I am for letting myself get into such a horrific health state, that I am lazy for not doing more, that I’m spineless because I caved into old habits and patterns. Great, I got a compliment, but it means nothing because I failed to complete the class. I coudln’t even hang in for the entire thing. Another lady who had been on a private lesson also said to me that I was great. “Yeah,” I responded, “for 30 seconds, I was awesome!” We laughed, but to me it is not enough. I want to be able to dance that way for as long as I desire, not just 30 seconds and then be completely spent.

Like, what is it in me that won’t let me win at anything? That no matter what I do or how good I do it always has a criticism, a judgement, a denial of happiness to share.

Marieta was really sweet, though. She told me to enjoy the journey – to quit making it a horrible torture, like she used to do to herself. She said that I’m not the only one who wishes her body could do more. She said she wished her body was more flexible, and that she could stretch and do some things, but at some point her body is built how it is built. That I should try and enjoy the journey, every step of it.

I have do admit that I did’t shift that night, but it still meant a lot that she took the time to try and help me refocus on the blessings contained in the dancer’s journey. And even then, while wallowing in my self-generated pit of dispair, even then I knew that the feeling of being defeated wouldn’t last. Nothing ever does…whether it feels good or bad.

I am so attached to how I am feeling. When I prefer or like how I’m feeling, I want to hold onto it forever. When I dislike how I am feeling, I want to push it away, make it disappear. Neither is possible. Yet I try and hold onto how I prefer life to look, even when life has other things in mind.

It reminds me of a Zen riddle. If you use a raft to cross a river, what should you do with with it once you reach the other side? Carry it with you? Of course not! It has served it’s purpose. To continue to carry it would only burden the carrier. Why then do we carry our wants or dislikes with us for so long?

Well, I’ve finally let go of this particular raft but I’ve been dragging it behind me for a few days now. It was exhausting. But now, I’m feeling lighter and happier. Glad that particular portion of the rollercoaster is behind me.

You Want To Meet at WHAT time???!!!

At the end of my lesson on Thursday, Ivan told me that he was going skiing this weekend in Payson to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

“Have fun and be safe,” I said.  “I will probably see you next Tuesday, then.”

For some reason, maybe because it would be 4 days without practice, Ivan said, “Come for a lesson tomorrow.  I give you buy one get one free.”

I couldn’t turn that down so I said “Well, Ivan, I work until 5pm so it’d have to be like 6pm.”

“Let me check my schedule.”

And we agreed he would call me to confirm the time for this extra lesson.

About 3 minutes later, I got a call.

“Stefanie, I forget I am leaving at 5pm tomorrow to leave for Payson.  What time you have to be at work?”

Was he really this committed to getting an extra lesson in that he was suggesting we dance before I went to work for the day?

“I have to be there at 9am but it is like 40 minutes away from the studio so we’d need to be done around 8am.  We’d have to meet at like 6:30am to get a double lesson in and be done in time.”

“Oh my God!  6:30am?  Let’s try it.  I never had a lesson so early!  But we do it.  Okay?”

I agreed.  But warned Ivan, as my husband can attest, that I am NOT a morning person.  I was gonna have to be up by 5am to get ready and make it to the studio on time.  It is about 45 minutes away from my home.

It was dark and cold when I arrived at the studio, but there is something magical about starting the day in darkness and watching the world warm as the orange sun rises in the horizon.

Sunrise in Aachen, Germany by Lusitana

Ivan told me that everyone was asleep in his house, even the dogs, but that his father-in-law woke up and asked him what he was doing.

“Teaching a dance lesson,” he explained.

“What?  At this hour?  Who is so crazy to have a lesson so early?”

Um, that would be me.

We began with stretches and a Bolero to warm up.  We then proceeded to mark the Rumba routine, which Ivan has changed once again.  After about an hour working on the showcase piece, we just start dancing, going through Samba, Swing, Cha Cha, and Mambo.  I’ve worked up a sweat and my body was warm and buzzing and it wasn’t even 8am yet.

Maybe Ivan is crazy and maybe I’m crazy too.  So far this man has had me do all sorts of tricks that I’d never imagined I’d do, meets with me regularly at a location that takes me 45 minutes to get to, and now has me coming in for lessons at ungodly hours of the day.  But I saw it as an opportunity.  I could have said no, thanks Ivan, but I’d rather get an extra hour and half of sleep and stay in my warm, comfy bed, plus I’m not a morning person.  But really, now, even though it was a little bit uncomfortable, which experience will I ultimately treasure more?  Sleeping or dancing?  The answer is clear for me.

So, what else am I saying “yes” to in my life?  What am I saying “no” to?  What am I missing out on because of those choices?

“Yes” to sleeping in means “no” to time to meditate or do some physical activity in the morning before going into work.  “Yes” to wine with dinner means “yes” to extra calories, sleep disturbances, and not being my best the next morning –  but it  feels really good in the moment.  I mean, every moment is a choice, and every choice has prices and benefits.  What benefits am I garnering by my choices and what prices am I really paying?

I’m glad that in this instance I chose to say “yes” to an extra dance class.  Though I had to pay a price of being a little bit sleep-deprived, in this case I think it was worth it.

But I have to be honest here.  I don’t always choose in ways that ultimately support me in achieving the things I say I want.  Isn’t it a strange aspect of the human condition that we can be moving toward something and fighting against ourselves at the same time?  I have been doing it for years and years with my weight and my body.  Sadly, I think the price hasn’t been high enough yet for me to commit to changing, no matter what.  I haven’t committed.

I’d love to be able to write here that I’ve chosen to commit, but based on results, often harsh but always fair, I really haven’t.  I’m telling myself I’m committed to the picture in my head of what I will look like at the Desert Classic, but I’m not always taking the actions to support that.  I’ve plateaued with the weight loss this past week because I went off plan.  I’ve been saying yes to comfort and no to my goal.  I got knocked a little off path emotionally when I released the tutoring and went to my habitual way of coping, which isn’t coping, it is eating.  I will say it was less severe than other times in the past but it has still set me back.  Why do I keep doing this to myself?  I’ll do well for a while and then relax.  I’ll be feeling good, have some positive momentum behind me, and then I self-sabotage.

I’m in this pre-contemplative state.  I have access to that Insanity work out program that I could do at home, and I have a dvd of the New York Ballet work out, as well as Hip Hop Abs.  I have a Kinnect on my Xbox 360 and Dance, Dance Revolution.  I could stretch.  I could practice doing a Rumba box in my kitchen.  I could say no to the lunch they are ordering at work because I brought my BistroMD meal.  I could be doing so much more.  And I don’t.

In moments when the pain of the burden of the flesh I’m carrying around is acute, I resolve to myself that I will change.  Like, when I was at Galaxy and I saw pictures of myself, or when I’m in Inna’s class, dying for breath, in those moments I realize I can’t continue to exist like this and that I must change.  But the feeling fades and so does the motivation.  I can’t seem to make it “stick.”

So, I’m gonna ask for some support here.  I am not good at this.  I can’t seem to resolve to just power through this journey like I did for the first few weeks.  I experienced some unsettling feelings in my life and I allowed it to become an excuse.  I’m up against the wall and I’m caving in.  I’ve done this same thing for years, now, basically just treading water but not making it anywhere.

Like in my mind I intellectually know exactly what I could do.  And I know that I need to do it no matter how I “feel” about it if I’m going to get where I want to go.  I need to be pushing my body regularly in new ways that stress it and make it adapt.  I need to be eating on my plan.  I need to be getting the proper amount of sleep and take a multi-vitamin.  So if I know all this, why am I still not doing it!?

I hate to be such a “Debbie Downer” and this is my reality right now.  I’d love to be all, rah, rah, sis-boom-ba! I’m gonna tackle the world and kick some ass!  But that would be lying.  I need some external motivation, I think – some tighter accountability and someone to push me even when the going gets tough.  I’m just being a whiny wimp right now, I know.  I’m sure I’ll shift out of it at some point.  But why do I even go here in the first place?

Well, this I know.  I have a dance lesson to go to most days this week.  I know I will show up for styling with Marieta on Monday, Inna’s class on Tuesday, Toni’s class on Wednesday, and Tina’s class plus a dance party on Thursday.   I know I will also schedule at least 2 lessons with Ivan.  I know I will show up for these things and will keep showing up.  I know that I will choose to get back on plan and I know that I will progress.  I just don’t know why I continue to take these detours along the way.

So, if anyone has some suggestions to help me out, please post a comment.  I am open to your feedback on how I can be more self-disciplined.  What has worked for you in the past?  What helped you to finally overcome something you came up against over and over?  What finally got you to make the changes you knew you needed to make and stick with them, no matter what?  What got you to commit?

I’ve hit a wall and I need some help to get over it.


I have NO excuses.  Seriously.

This man, Nick Vujicic, is a Samurai.  Check out his video and you’ll see what I mean:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE&feature=youtu.be

Ok, enough complaining, Stefanie.  It just relieves the pressure so I don’t have to do anything about my situation.  But the reality is, I need to be putting that energy I’m putting toward complaining toward my goal instead.  After all, the sun will rise on a different day tomorrow.  I can choose back in.  And so I will.