Many Things in Flux

I’ve been ignoring important dance portions of the blog for a while. I’m sorry about that, but it’s been a lot of processing lately. The sort of processing that doesn’t translate well to written words. It still doesn’t, so forgive the ramble.

I’ve guided new teacher Clyde to Rhythm dances. One, because he’s appalled by how awful my dancing of them is. Two, I don’t feel like I can have him tear apart Smooth. My smooth belongs to Teach and it feels too personal for Clyde to comment on yet. This has been working because I feel like I’m improving some in Rhythm. Lady J has been instrumental in this as well. She’s a driller. I thrive on being drilled. That’s the only way to just get it into muscle memory for me. Drill, drill, drill. Cha Cha lock steps across the entire floor forward and backward, cha cha from side to side all accross the floor again. Yes, I could do some of this at home, but there’s nothing like having instant feedback. For the record, I do practice some at home, it’s just not as much as I would like.

So far Clyde, Lady J and I have worked on Cha Cha, Mambo, and Rumba. This week we’re working on Swing (my kryptonite) and Clyde would like to start Bolero, which I am completely on board with. I can’t wait!

Even thought I’m settling in with my new teachers and see the value of having several teachers, I’m still missing Teach a bit. I have a lot of lessons left before I can switch studios, and, therefore, several months before I see Teach again. It also helps that he understands my financial circumstances well. Clyde and Lady J are being much more pushy about my taking more lessons even though I can’t afford any more.

I feel so tentative in my dancing. I feel like Teach left with some of my love of dance. I don’t like that. I always thought that I loved dance for DANCE. For the expression of it. I’ve been completely thrown off kilter.

So, there’s been a bit of depression in the house. It’s been rough going back to work; My daughter has not been getting on my last nerve for too long now with homeschooling; My mother (secondary teacher to daughter and primary caregiver while I work) is doing temp work that makes things more difficult during the week; My doctor wanted to me to try to wean off my antidepressants; I’ve put on too much weight and my doctor is upset; All this has been too much for my anxiety and depression. I’m back on my meds and am feeling much better now.

Hopefully life looks up from here. I completed a Whole 30 without much issue and lost 6 pounds. I hope to keep it together to get back to my normal self. My husband is very supportive of my mental health (not my dancing – he doesn’t understand how linked they are); he has been buying me flowers and doing the grocery shopping. I some of these things don’t have a direct relationship to dance, but Teach left at the wrong time for me. I can sound as selfish as I want on my own blog, right? It was too much, but I’m putting the pieces together with lots of help. I’m starting to enjoy dancing again. And I can’t wait to learn some Bolero tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be back soon this time.

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An Attempt

I’ve had a particularly bad week emotionally. Homeschooling, work, dance, family, everyone had something to say the week that overloaded my tanks. I let stress pile up until I break from the most mundane thing. It’s not healthy, I know that. But here we are. Everyone is steering clear of me, afraid, and I’m hating myself. It will get better, but I wish it didn’t happen at all. 

                                         

My Childish Rant

So here goes. I wasn’t sure about posting it because I seem like a petulant child and Teach seems like a jerk. But not every relationship is calm all the time.

Since I had skipped a few weeks of dance to finish up the homeschool year with my daughter, I scheduled a double lesson last Monday. It’s smarter to do this since my commute is so long, but my foot and fitness level aren’t quite up to the challenge yet. So I think I’m going to just do weekly lessons again.

My first lesson was with the positive Mr. R. I really love how he teaches. We went through Rhythm (except Swing – no one is willing to go there yet). He reinforced the swivel idea and then taught me four variations on a cross body lead in Cha Cha. It was so much fun to try and figure out what he was doing next and my swiveling and footwork are coming along nicely.

Then I had my first lesson with Teach #1 since February. Yes, it’s been that long! He decided to review Smooth with me. I haven’t done much Smooth since my injury and I’ve almost forgotten how he dances (remember the eye stuff), so there was more than just remembering technique, I needed to relearn our connection. Here is where my rant starts… He was on me like a drill sergeant. NOTHING was right. My feet weren’t together enough. My frame could be better. Get lower. Now I’m too low. Head too far left. Everything was wrong. Everything. It was completely discouraging. I know I’m rusty, but the delivery of this information was NOT good. He was whining at me. I’m incredibly sensitive. Gentle reminders are ok. Whining and harping at me and telling me that I’ve been so much better doesn’t do anything but get me depressed.

It also gets me thinking. This is dangerous. I started thinking about our lessons this year. I thought about what I would have written here about my lessons. There should be something to take note of after each lesson. You know what? I wouldn’t have anything to write. I’m either making zero progress because I’ve reached my personal high point, or, Teach #1 hasn’t been teaching me in a good way. Every week I should get a new step to help reinforce a technique or I should get arm styling to use with a step I already am comfortable with. Something! Do you know Teach #1 hasn’t taught me a new step this year? I’m barely Intermediate Bronze, there has to be something to play with. Teach #1 is obsessed with my feet being together. It’s his thing. If my legs and ankles aren’t making love every moment, he’s going to just keep harping on it. Then we get nothing else done. I know this needs to happen. My feet need to get together. You should see the scars on my feet and ankles where my heels have scratched flesh over this. But here’s my whine (as if the rest isn’t enough), I’m paying a lot of hard earned money to this studio. I feel like there need to be some balance here. After last week, I’m feeling a bit like I’m pissing it all away. I could go on some beautiful vacations to hear the same thing about my feet being together. I KNOW. They just don’t always listen during warm up. MOVE ON for a minute. I grasp many things quickly. Why do I have to devote hours to something when a simple reminder will work?! Or, just wait until after our warm up to start harping at me. It’s a warm up for a reason.

I want to talk to him a bit, but this past week I was so discouraged and was feeling so lousy about myself that I didn’t have the guts. Maybe I’ll be able to tomorrow. I’m still a bit raw. So, my childish rant is over for now. Another cup of tea would be lovely.

Eyes and Goals (Heartfelt Post – Read With Care)

Sometimes I have something heavy to write about. The perfect words and related feelings come to me while I’m driving or doing some other inconvenient thing. When I arrive home, the words aren’t there anymore. Something blocks the awesomeness from getting from my head and onto paper. Luckily, I had a journal with me last week. I’m going to try and share some things with all you. The safety of the internet and all that.

Last week I had my yearly pilgrimage to the Retina Specialist. This is a dreadful time for me. What if I’ve developed retinopathy? I also relive the Day It Happened. Yet, it also brings some validation. The Dr. Lady is the only one who can truly believe that I’m telling the truth.

Six years ago I was getting ready to go out to breakfast with my husband and daughter. I decided to take my vitamins before we left. Within ten minutes those vitamins had me nauseated and they made a reappearance. When I stood up from that awfulness, I had no vision in my right eye. I blinked a few times as if that would make it come back. It didn’t. I was diagnosed with a retinal hemorrhage from a busted blood vessel due to the pressure of vomiting. I had to have surgery to remove the blood from the back of my eye. (I had my first ever panic attack before this surgery.) Everyone told me things would be back to normal after this. I would make a full recovery. At my post op visits they couldn’t understand why my vision wasn’t perfect again. I kept telling them that is was broken up. I was sent to Columbia University doctors and was given the same confused look. I was sent to Albany, to the lovely Doctor Lady. She had me scanned, injected, and blinded by many lights to the retina before she found it. The initial diagnosis was incorrect. That’s why I couldn’t see correctly. I had torn my retina in several places over my center of vision. That caused the hemorrhage. I didn’t have to try to describe what my vision was like out of that eye because she told me what I was seeing in perfect words. I was finally sane!

It didn’t change the fact that my dominant eye has distorted vision. It will never improve. I have no depth perception. With my two eyes open my vision is odd since my brain gets two different images to process. I’m clumsy. Adding to this, I was told to not have more children. I wasn’t planning to anyway, but there’s something about having those words said to you when you’re still in your twenties.

Obviously my eye problems have wrecked havoc with my depression. I’ve suffered since puberty and it’s slowly gotten worse the older I get. The eye problem took away my ability to express myself with piano playing, jewelry making and a few other things I have done over the years to boost myself up. I spent more time watching TV and YouTube. I loved watching dance. All kinds of dance from modern to ballet. I’ve always loved to take dance lessons. I kept trying to find adult ballet classes with no luck. I was circling the drain, so to speak.

My darling husband took things into his own hands and signed me up for ballroom dance. He thought it would give me some confidence and help boost my mood. It was one of the kindest things he’s done for me. The rest is history. Dance hasn’t gotten me off antidepressants, but it has helped me express myself. I’m a more improved person for it. Teach #1 danced my first steps with me. He was also a psych major in college. Maybe that’s why we’re such a good fit.

I don’t know how the normal-sighted are, but I have to add a few things to my learning. I tell how far my partner is away from me by how tall they are. This probably adds to my social dance anxiety because accepting a dance invitation by feeling someone up isn’t proper. (Not where I would dance anyway.)

Dance goals are big in studios. We have to sit down and talk about them several times a year. I think about it on my own, too. To tell you the truth, I tell them what they want to hear. They want me to spend my money on these big comps and productions. I tell them maybe and we move on. The truth is, I’m not there to just complete because it’s not in my nature, plus I’m too poor for that. I don’t go to parties for several reasons (see above paragraph, plus I work evening shift), so I’m not there to learn just social dance. Learning a Showcase routine is fun, but it’s not satisfying on its own. I like to learn more dances and technique. I think I just like to the magic fairy dust that gets sprinkled on me during lessons. My dance goals are to keep learning, keep my depression at bay, and not think about my eye disability for an hour. I need to dance as a means of self expression whether it’s at a comp, at a party, on stage, or during a lesson. If I happen to have the money, I may do more of the other things, but right now, just taking lessons is meeting my goals.

I’m no good at conclusions, just ask my Grandma who edited all my high school compositions for me. I feel good at putting all that in writing. If you made it all the way through, I applaud you and give you high fives and a shimmy.