Well Good Morning! A Nice Surprise In My Inbox…

I’m always excited to see the little rectangular dialoge box on the upper righthand corner of my Dashboard light up orange.  It means someone took the time to write me a comment and I can’t tell you how much I enjoy interacting with you guys.  It’s honestly one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging – getting to know some of you and creating community.  So I got a thrill this morning when I saw the “indicator light” was on and eagerly clicked it with nervous anticipation.

What greeted me was a very pleasant surprise from my pal Back To First Position.  She wrote:

I just wanted to let you know I really enjoy your blog and it has been inspirational to me and I think it’s great!  So I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award.  It’s just a blogger-to-blogger pay it forward kinda thing to recognize other bloggers who we feel are great at what they do and deserve some recognition.  Have a great day!

Well my goodness!  What a kind gesture!


The Liebster Award is a pay-it-forward way to recognize blogs who have less than 200 followers.  Liebster is a German word that means beloved and valued.  There are a few versions of it floating around the blogosphere.  Some say to nominate 3 to 5 fellow bloggers and stipulate less than 3000 followers.  It’s nothing official, there are no judges or awards, but it is, I think, a pretty nifty and special thing to do for someone whose blog you enjoy.  Anyways, the version bestowed upon me this morning has rules as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link back to their blog.
  2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate and include links to their blogs.
  6. Go to each bloggers page and let them know you have nominated them.

I’m flattered and happy to participate so here we go!

1.  Easy!  Thank you Back to First!!!!  Go Here To Read This Awesome Blog.

2.  Eleven Random Facts About The Biggest Girl In The Ballroom

I’m left-handed.

When I was a kid I had a white rabbit named Alexa

There is a samurai sword in my living room.  It’s not actually sharp but I earned it by completing a series of personal growth and mastery workshops.  Real samurai swords are so sharp and strong because the metal is beaten and folded upon itself upwards of 80,000 times in the forge, and just like that samurai sword, every life experience is another bending and pounding which, strengthens, sharpens, and hones me to be an instrument of authenticity. It symbolizes cutting through the illusions, projections, and self-limiting beliefs that obscure authenticity and the greatness inherent in every human being.  Whoa, that was kinda deep lol.

I know how to make balloon animals.  My best creature is probably a parrot on a perch.

I was voted most likely to be the next Martha Stewart by my high school class.  How very little they knew me!  I’m messy!!

My favorite color is green.  Always has been.

I have a scar on my left knee from when I fell in my grandparents’ backyard on some stone steps and ended up needing stitches.

I have an awesome laugh.  It is big and loud and full from the belly.  People often comment on it.  In fact, I recorded myself laughing in one of those recordable cards and mailed it to a friend who was always cheered by it.  She still has the card to this day and listens to it often, or so she tells me!

My grandpa nicknamed me “Blueberry” as a kid because I wiped out an entire carton of blueberries one day when I was ravenous after a trip to the grocery store.  I was probably 5 or so.

I’m pretty good a word games.

I’m a Taurus. In fact, my birthday is coming up very soon!

3.  Answer the questions given to me

  • Why did you start writing your blog?

My husband was sick of me talking about ballroom dancing!

  • What is the most fun thing for you about your blog?

Meeting readers in person and loaning my dress to one.  All the friends I’ve made.  Getting Editor’s Choice from Dance Advantage was pretty dang sweet, too!

  • How much time do you spend on your blog weekly?

Depends on the week!  Usually a few hours but it is a labor of love.  I really enjoy writing.

  • What is your happiest memory?

Probably a tie between being surrounded by so many loved ones on my wedding day and my birthday party last year, again surrounded by friends and family but it also included dancing!  I was in heaven!

  • Can you drive a stick shift?

Nope!  Sure can’t!

  • Can you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time?

Yes.  But I think most people can…right?

  • What has surprised you the most about having a blog?

That so many people connected with what I have to say, and how much support they were willing to give me, a stranger.

  • What was the last movie you saw?

That one with Tom Cruise and the cool space ships on future earth where he is the “clean up crew.”  I forgot the name of it but it was pretty good lol!

  • What is your favorite ballet?

I’m guessing it would be Alice in Wonderland, though I haven’t seen it yet!  It looks absolutely amazing.  Basically, I love any ballet but I’ve only ever seen The Nutcracker live and a few shows with excerpts from multiple ballets.  I love the romantic ones like Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake.

  • Who is your favorite ballet dancer?

Who else?!  Baryshnikov!

  • Can you do the splits?


4. Create 11 questions for the bloggers I nominate

  • Which of your blog posts is your favorite?  Why?
  • What is the best thing about you?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment in life?
  • Who is your hero?  Who do you look up to?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve?
  • What superhero power would you choose to have if you could have one?
  • What is your most prized possession?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
  • If you could spend 1 hour with anyone who ever lived, who would it be and why?
  • Have you ever broken a bone?  How?
  • Captain Picard or Captain Kirk?

5.  Choose 11 bloggers….

Well, I’m pretty sure Tracy Fulks has way more than 200 readers but her blog is exceptional and I just want to share it.  Tracy Fulks

Adult Ballerina Project

See Jen Dance

Body Insider

The Reinvented Lass

Unbearable Weight

Legal Ballerina


…Then Came Dance

The Middlest Sister

Adult Beginner

Knock Down Seven Times Get Up Eight

I’ve probably mentioned this Samurai saying (from the title) before.  And I’ll probably use it again, too.  It’s something that helps me keep going when I fall down.  Well, the point of this post is simply to give a little update because my life is a freaking roller coaster emotionally sometimes.

Iwasa Katsushige 001

Iwasa Katsushige [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I already put an addendum as my most recent post that I did go to the gym after I was feeling down in the mouth about my lack of progress towards becoming healthier and stronger and a better dancer and that it helped.

Well, here’s what’s happened since then (since I know that my life is like, the most exciting thing evarrrrr to hear about….)

1) I worked myself out silly!  I was so sore (more-so in my upper body) that I’ve been taking ibuprofen, icing, and using heating pads on my shoulders and upper arms.

2) It’s uncomfortable to a certain extent, but I like that by body feels worked.  I realized that I miss it when I don’t do this for myself.  I just need to remember this when I want to hit the snooze button again or skip my evening workout.

3)  Ivan came back from Ohio Star Ball.  I haven’t danced with him in a week.  One lesson a week is not enough!  But, what are you going to do?  I have to supplement our lessons with other physical activity because I miss it when it is not present.  But I’m super proud of him and Marieta for being pros and getting out there and competing.  I support them.  I want to get myself into better shape so that I can maybe go and participate in a few more comps that they will be at instead of watching via streaming.

4)  The Cha Cha routine is getting better and better.  This makes me happy.

5)  I’ve weirdly found a new confidence in my dancing.  I am really at a place of believing that I am a strong dancer with some amazing potential.  The biggest thing holding me back that I can see is my physical shape and lack of stamina.  I’ve received some unsolicited feedback recently and also not-so-recently from people I really respect in the ballroom dancing world, that makes me feel validated as a dancer (regardless of how I am packaged currently, others can see who I am and what I am all about too) and helps me give credence to what my heart whispers but I, until recently, haven’t been able to deeply accept.  Now I do.

6) I made it to Inna’s class tonight and it totally kicked my butt.  It was awesome.  Getting enough sleep, staying active, eating reasonably, helped me.  I want to keep this healthy behavior up so I can take the best advantage of the amazing opportunity that is Inna’s Latin class.  I especially enjoyed the fact that she played with the timing tonight.  I found that super-fun and also love the concept of seeing the music in a dancer’s body.  We did a time step with a pause  – so regular timing 1 and 2, 3 and 4, then 1, hold 2, step on “and” step on 3, and then cha cha 1.  It adds pizzaz.  I like it a lot.

7)  I’m really getting into counting.  I love it.  Weird!  I now want to know the counts of all my movements.  I’m counting in class.  I remember this one time early on where Inna was counting and then suddenly went silent – I think because she is a master teacher and knew we were all relying on her.  The thing is, we have to know what we are doing as dancers ourselves.  When she stopped counting, a lot of us fell apart and got lost in the choreography.  Now, I undertand how important it is.  I love being responsible for my timing.  It is empowering.  I originally found it tedious, now, I am into it.

8)  I’m bummed Kelly got into the DWTS final over Apollo.  But, I’m glad Melissa and Shawn are in.

9)  Happy Thanksgiving!

10) I think surviving Inna’s class tonight with extremely sore arms and hamstrings makes it official – I’ve officially “gotten back up.”

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has liked the Facebook page for the blog.  After months of hovering at 99 likes, I suddenly jetted to 101 likes.  May not seem like a big deal, but to me, it means a lot.

Alright – until I have something more substantial to share……keep dancing!

Ivonne, You’re My Hero

Yesterday was a day of friendship.

I got to spend time with my dear friend Sonya who is a powerful and compassionate woman.  She is helping me create a transformational workshop using the metaphor of dance that I’m planning for March.  She shared with me her current struggles, and I shared my with her.  She is one of those friends you can not talk to for a year and pick up right where you left off.

I also got to hang with my new friend, Ivonne.  I met Ivonne at Dance Starz and immediately liked her.  She is vibrant and inquisitive, and has an amazing zest for life.  She’s one of those people you meet and suddenly, effortlessly, you are friends.  No need to set up a coffee date, you just fall into an easy pattern of talking on the phone and meeting up for different activities.

Finally, I got to talk to another special friend, Erin, who lives across the country and has been experiencing some very difficult health issues.  I hadn’t heard from her since I heard that she was injured, so I was thrilled that she called.  She and I enjoy one of those very deep, authentic friendships in which we can share absolutely anything with one another and will receive support, even if it looks like tough love.  She brings out the best in me, and reminds me of my specialness and awesomeness.

I treasure all my friends, so if you are reading this and you aren’t mentioned, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you, it just means that I didn’t see you yesterday!  So call me!  Let’s hang out soon.

Being with my friends yesterday, whether in person or on the phone was just what I needed.  I am feeling much better about myself and life after sharing with my friends.  This post, however, is mostly dedicated to Ivonne because she is a dancer like me, and this blog is, of course, mostly about dancing, right?

So Ivonne is amazing.  Let’s just start there.  She has been dancing all her life.  She has a Cuban heritage and so dancing to rhythm is in her blood.  But in terms of ballroom dancing, she just started in October.  She’s already lost a partner and gained a new one.  And, get this, she’s already committed to doing a competition next month!  Can you believe it?  This girl doesn’t mess around.  I have rarely experienced this level of courage and committment in others.  But with Ivonne, it is just one of her traits.  She regularly dives head-first into experiences that may be beyond her current abilities.  Listen, she blew me away when she told me about racing a Chinese Dragon Boat.  How many people would say yes to an experience like that, especially when she just showed up because they needed one extra person on the team?  They won gold!

I think being Ivonne’s friend is going to be a rich, effervescent adventure and I can hardly wait.  It could also be very dangerous because she is comfortable with being uncomfortable.  She has made it a habit to get out of her comfort zone, something I admire greatly about her, and want to do a bit more in my own life….but that comes with a price….the price of being uncomfortable, and even, gasp! failing once in a while.  That, I have yet to experience as fun, but this I know:  If you’re not failing at anything, then you’re not doing anything.  (Hmmm, I should listen to my own advice)

So last night Ivonne came with me to Inna’s class at Imperial studio.  Inna and Artem are busy placing first in the Rising Star category of the UK championship (Congratulations, guys!) so Igor taught the class.

I personally had a great time.  It was actually pretty enjoyable for me, for once, because we wern’t doing cardio intervals in the form of Cha Cha combinations across their football-field-sized ballroom.  Rather, we focused on technique.  I especially liked the exercise he did taking each body part one at a time.  We did the same combination over and over but first we focused only on our feet, trying to make them absolutely perfect, forgetting about anything else.  Then we worked on the legs, then the hips, then the arms, then presentation.  Finally we did it (ahem, attempted) to incorporate all aspects.  He also had each student step forward and dance in front of the rest of us one-by-one.

Now, mind you, this is still an advanced level course.  When Ivonne asked me if she could come, I didn’t want to discourage her.  How many times are people passionate about something and others throw cold water on them to dampen their spirits, to tell them what is “reasonable” to do?  Well, the heck with that!  I think if Ivonne wanted to be there, then Ivonne should be there.  No matter what, she could create value for herself, even if it was just by watching, even if she wasn’t yet able to do everything presented.  Also, who am I to determine Ivonne’s limitations?  I think Ivan has proven to me that I don’t even know my own limitations, so how can I possibly presume to determine them for another human being.  So I decided to encourage Ivonne to join me.  Maybe I could have mentioned that there is another class on Wednesday that might be less intimidating, or demanding, but even if I had, I have a feeling that Ivonne wouldn’t have backed down from the challenge.

So Ivonne came and told me about a quarter of the way in that it was way over her head.  Oh well!  She hung in there, did what she could, and even got in front of the class (Igor was kind enough to stand beside her for some support) just like us regular students.

I love her courage.

At the end of the class, Ivonne shared with me that she felt a little defeated, just like I had felt after Marieta’s class on Monday.  But, also like me, she knew it would pass.

What a Samurai!

I’m just so proud of my new friend.  She is open to the full experience of life and even the threat of potentially failing in the moment doesn’t deter her.  I am excited for her as she prepares for the Dancesport Jam in Tucson, Arizona next month.  I’m also excited for me because I get to watch her journey as she kicks butt and takes names and because she is my friend.

So for Tuesday, January 17, 2012, Ivonne, you are my hero.  Just thought you should know.  Love, Stef