Tuesday, July 2, 2013

That thing where I need to be perfect, a rant by me

I was doing that thing again. The thing where I have a bad practice and convince myself that I should give up because I am not good enough! See that's funny because I am good enough. The only bar that has been set is the one that has been set by me.
Now there is something to be said for setting goals, and respecting yourself enough to learn and grow. I am not talking about that. I am talking about feeling like you don't measure up when there is nothing to measure up to. I am trying really, really hard to break away from this.
In one respect, I am lucky to live in my little patch of cow pasture. I don't get gigs (there are none, its not that I am not getting any, there are ZERO) and so I have very few goal markers set for me by anyone other than myself and my teacher. I do dance in shows when I travel and I teach but I feel my growth and ability are on par with that. But sometimes I get that thing where I must be "the best dance in all the world" by last Wednesday. It is so defeating. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Anyway, I was having one of these and I had a "come to Jesus meeting" (Southern expression, no actual Jesus involved) with myself. Here is the thing. I am the only one who cares about what level I am dancing at. I could quit dancing tomorrow and honestly, no one would really notice. Most of my friends and family have never seen me dance. Again, it is not a part of my livelihood. So, I ask myself. "Why am I doing this?" The answer is, because I want to and I love it. So what does it matter if I am progressing slowly or it takes me six months to get a certain concept? It doesn't. If that is how hard I have to work then so be it. What if I get sick like I did in the spring and fall behind for months? Then that is okay.
I respect myself and my art enough to be continually learning and working. I respect my teacher so I will do the homework and tasks he gives to the best of my ability. But if it is hard for me, and if I have to work a long time or if for some reason other aspects of my life get in the way? Okay.

Also. this video from Nadirah Jamal could not have come at a better time. Not only will I be okay with where my dance journey is taking me (regardless of the pace), I will also celebrate the goals I do achieve not just lament the ones I don't.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

In Which the World Becomes a Better Place

So I went to Little Egypt's Chicago workshop and it was awesome. Not only was I inspired but I danced pain free. I fully participated in 4 of the 6 workshops. I can't even describe how good it made me feel.
Now I am back home and back on schedule. Shimmy Mob is this week-end. I only learned the choreography last week but I learned it and I am ready to go. I am back on track with my lessons and feeling on top of the world.

So how was the workshop? Awesome. First, Aida Nour. She is everything you have heard. She is a great dancer and a great teacher. All 3 of the instructors did an excellent job explaining things and making sure we understood.
I went to the workshop not really knowing much about Asmahan. What a firecracker! I loved, loved, loved her style and had a blast even though I looked like I had been hosed down I was so sweaty after he classes. She is funny and very kind. Plus with her accent Shimmy sounds like Jimmy so now when I practice I hear her in my head saying "Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy."
I only participated in the first hour of Kazafy's Shamadan workshop and then set out and took notes for the rest. I loved the choreography. Shamadan is one of my favorite things so this will definitely be a piece I work on. I did not participate in his Saidi workshop at all. My back was very sore and I knew I couldn't do both of Sunday's workshops so I sat out of his in order to be able to participate in Aida Nour's oriental workshop.
There were shows both nights with Asmahan doing a 4 costume change show in Saturday. I am so sorry I didn't force my husband to go to that show. Since he is a trooper and will go to any show I want him to if he says he would rather not then I never try to convince him otherwise. I should have.
Aida and Kazafy performed on Friday both solo and with each other. Here is the awesome thing, they didn't rehearse together. Since they were both in the Reda Troupe they were able to just hop on stage and do Reda combos together. INSANE! I have study with Reda himself and from several instructors who teach his combos/style so it made perfect sense to me but the dancers who hadn't studied Reda were bowled over by this concept. Study your Reda people!
I loved the workshop so much I am putting more Little Egypt events on my calendar. I hope to get to go to Ahlan Cairo Nights in Dallas this year.

Now that I am better all I want to do is dance. I am trying very hard to overdo it and am including a lot of walking in my fitness routine. Getting ready for Shimmy Mob has kept me on my toes and I am looking forward to a full dance season.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Let's try this again

Well, the day of my last post I got some bad news. My blood work that I had done to explain the fatigue I have been feeling since February came back abnormal. So I freaked out. That stress made me susceptible to the cold that was going around my office so I got sick again. I gave up. I was so disheartened to be sick yet again and get my life derailed twice in a few months.
But there is good news. I got over my cold relatively quickly and without anti-biotics (the way I usually do but did not with my February cold). I also had a retest and all but one of my abnormal tests dropped back into the normal range.
The big problem was high muscle enzymes. Like body builder high when I was doing shimmy drills and lifting 3 lb hand weights. My cold might have come at the right time because I stopped everything. As I said, I gave up. My enzymes went down. So while my muscle enzymes were higher than they should have been given the amount of work I was doing, it was coming from that work so that's good news. The bad news is that I don't know why. A reasonable explanation is that the very bad cold in February was more than that, like mono or the flu.
The other bad news is that I am having trouble getting motivated again. I am scared to try anything more than walking because what if it hurts again. Not doing what I love so much also leads to depression and not feeling like I'm good enough. Last night I was lamenting about being scared to dance but in not dancing, I feel like I am not advancing enough and falling behind. But then I wondered, who am I falling behind? Why do we set ourselves up with these imaginary benchmarks? I mean goals are good. Goals give us something to work toward and way to quantify what we are doing. But what about when you don't meet your goal? I wan to be a great dancer but compared to who? Why does it have to be compared to anybody? I feel disadvantaged because of my rural location and age. But why? Why is it not good enough to be the best dancer in my town who's over 30? That should be good enough. I have no desire to teach outside my hometown or travel to get gigs so why am I comparing myself to those who do?
Needless to say, I'm frustrated. I was ready to give it a try this week and I set a schedule, asked my husband to be in charge of dinner for one whole week to take a little off of me and then my favorite Aunt passed away. So, I will be going to Florida for the rest of the week.
Next Monday, I am going to try again. Maybe 15 minutes a day for the first week. I am going to a workshop in Chicago that week-end and if I can't hang then I am perfectly comfortable with hanging back and taking notes. Thankfully, I learn a lot by observing.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Improv Challenge: Travel Break

I meant to post before I left town but I guess that didn't work out. I completed Challenge Day 20 (You know, its actually not called the Improv Challenge but the 90 Day Dance Party but to me its a challenge) then left town for a long week-end to visit a friend who had her first child in December.
I didn't get to dance while I was away although I did listen to my music.
I am going to pick back up with Day 21 tonight. I feel excited to be getting close to day 30!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 19: Power Poses

So yesterday I went to the doctor about this fatigue I have been dealing with. No answer, but a ton of labs. I hope its something simple. Either way, I am going to do the food allergy elimination diet to see if I have any other food allergies that are making me feel bad. 
Somehow just doing that made me feel better. Maybe I felt more in control of what was making me feel bad.
The first song that queued up was a hip-hop fusion and I found myself really into it. Even though I have been pretty committed to shuffle and dancing to what comes on, I was into it enough that I searched through my iPod for the handful of songs that were similar.
I was thankful for the feeling of energy because I needed to submit my homework, i.e. make videos of myself doing my drills and choreography. I practiced my stuff until I felt "in the groove" and made my videos. Usually when I go to make the videos, I choke. Yesterday that were not so bad which is good since I was beat at that point.
It was Wednesday so I finished with my ab workout. All in all, a really good practice.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 18: Weighty Matters

Tuesday was class night so at the end we did our 20 minutes. I usually read Alia's e-mail out loud before we start. I tell my students that they can choose to ignore it but some of the e-mails inspire me (others do not) and I like to read them right before I practice.
Days 18's note was about power and using your weight (or imagining you have more weight and power). This made me feel good. I am not a small person. I am 5'3" and apple shaped. I am round. Once in yoga, we were doing warrior pose and I looked in the mirror and realized that I am a ball of a person. If I had a super power it would be to roll up in a ball and then move really fast like Sonic the Hedgehog. 
I struggled for a long time to love my body. Don't worry, I am all better. One consequence of that long struggle was trying to "hide" or not do things I was capable of because they would highlight the thing I was trying to hide. Like shimmies. When I shimmy now, my belly shakes like there is an earthquake. It is Awesome (Capital A). I call this effect Wubble. It is a cross between wobble and wubba wubba (which is a mispronunciation hubba hubba). Some people are afraid of the wubble. We spend to much time toning up and sucking in when sometimes you just have to relax and let your wubble wubble. Also, I belly laugh now. For real, like Santa. I can't help it. I assume it has something to do with constantly engaging some of abs and relaxing other parts at the same time. Whatever, Awesome.

Days 17: Making time

Monday night we needed to go to the funeral home. One of our employees lost his father and it was important that we be there for him. Even though it was "late" by my usual practice standards I squeezed in some time.
I used my 20 minutes to play around with my veil and the song I had picked for my class. Ironically, we decided to go back and re-stage one old number and for me to teach another to a newer member of the student troupe so we won't be using the new piece for a while.
I worked on my drills and felt good about how they were coming along. I assume this is because I am supposed to record them and send them in as homework. So since I didn't record them on Monday tonight I will either be sick or suddenly incapable to doing my drills. This is how life works for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Days 14-16: Biting off more than you can chew

Several times this week-end I sat down and said to myself "I need to blog" and then I got distracted. Several other times I sat down and dicked around on my iPad and didn't even think about blogging. Its one of m curses, I only remember phone calls I need to make in the car and late at night.
My mind really perks up at night, maybe I need to keep different hours.

I have always thought that exercising or dancing late in the day keeps me from going to sleep. In a way it does because I get "jazzed up" and feel like running around. I think part of that always came from my group classes when I was a student. All my fellow students were my dear friends so not only were my exercise endorphin high but I was a on a social good-times sort of high. We always went out to Applebee's (I know but it was close and open late) after class, and I often miss that.
I don't get that feeling as much anymore because I work on my dance alone at home. On nights I teach I feel tired and relieved at a class well done, and also hungry. I do usually feel jazzed up after my own lessons partly from the interaction with my teacher and my suddenly much longer to do list of drills and practices. I actually channel it into cooking as my lesson is on Thursday and it is one of the night I usually cook with a purpose. My love of cooking is right up there with my love of dancing.
Where was I going with this? Oh, that's right. Exercising at night. A new study shows that it will help you sleep, not keep you awake as many people think. That's good news for me because my free time is all in the evening.

So how was my practice this week-end? There wasn't much of it.
I took Friday night off as usual. Saturday I practiced first thing in the morning as I had obligations all day. I did have a revelation I wanted to blog but since have forgotten what it was.
For the first time, I used a pre-set playlist. I am trying to pick a song for my choreography class and I put all the contenders into a playlist. It is going to be a veil number so for the first time in this challenge I got a veil and danced with it. The front runner was the first song cut. Not only is it too long so I would need to edit it but while beautiful I felt like everything that was coming to me might be too much for my students. The song I picked in the end is actually one I tried to choreograph to many years ago. I actually had a good start but other things came up and I moved on to something else.
I worked on my drills and some other conditioning exercises as well.

Sunday, well, that didn't work out as planned. You know when you start a new super hard workout and the next day you are hit by a bus sore? I felt that way after only doing the things I have always done. I really hope this still have something to do with my virus last month and nothing more serious. I am traveling next week-end and when I return I am going to do an allergy elimination diet to look for food allergies. My life has been a lot better since I was diagnosed as allergic to gluten but I think there still has to be something else or I would feel better.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Days 12 & 13: Bumps in the road

I didn't get to practice last night. I came home from work with a horrible headache. It's frustrating to miss a day but nothing is gained by giving yourself any grief about it. Move on.

Tonight I used my improv as a warm up before my lesson. I'm really enjoying the exploration that my daily improv gives me. I find that I actually have the most fun dancing to music I wouldn't normally dance too. I've explored my fusion playlist quite a bit. It's fun to play around with movement. I'm looking forward to the next 77 days.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Day 11: My Space

It's class day so that counts. I'll probably play the pop playlist for our 20 minutes tonight. I think I will do it right at the beginning and invite any of my beginners who want to stick around to dance with us.
As I ran in my dance room together my iPod I realized that it has become a bit messy. Messy in a lived in sort of way.
I added a floor cushion to sit on for when I am watching DVDs or having the chatty part of my Skype lesson. Random fitness equipment like my hand weights, foam roller and a yoga mat have all migrated in there. It's a tiny room but somehow having all this stuff makes it feel better. It's much less a sterile space and more of a "me" sort of space. I like it.