Archive for January, 2012

January 20, 2012

Sometimes They Come True

So … with tomorrow being the 5 YEAR anniversary of the accident (fondly known as “Hooray! Sarah’s Still Alive! Day”), I feel it appropriate to post a reflection today.

In late fall, after much cheering on from all of you, I signed up for a Master Class with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

I was scared, then I was nervous, then I was excited.

So, I did some reasearch and ordered some new dancewear. Paid for fast shipping and everything. (Thanks a lot DC area and your 2 dancewear stores. You fail.) Got it. Got super excited. Tried it all on.

And cried. Hard.

Putting on a leotard and capris for the first time in 5 years really magnified what I’d lost. Wearing something I’d basically LIVED in for 23 years, I hated how I looked. HATED it. And I’ve never been one to hate my body. I mean, yes, I knew I’d put on some weight … but to have a leotard that was ALREADY a size up from all my old ones be too small? To have the one-size-fits-all capris pull to nearly transparent across my thighs?

Yah, lots of crying.

Considering I didn’t have time to order a new leotard, or exchange it, I was stuck. And the idea of wearing things too small (to a class I wasn’t sure I could make it though in the first place)  was enough for me to cry myself to sleep, thinking my idea of going was misguided and really, I should just forget all about it.

No bueno.

Saturday morning dawned, and the husband … who HATES it when money is wasted … dragged me out of bed and told me I was going, as I’d already paid. So I shoved myself into the too small dancewear, pulled my hair into a bun, grabbed a pair of sweats just in case. And sniffled my way there.

Getting to the Kennedy Center I was greeted by a beautiful elderly lady, who moved with a fluidity you rarely see. I would not be shocked in the slightest if she was a prima ballerina in her youth. While escorting me upstairs she asked how long I’d been dancing. I told her my story (the short version) and she leaned over and hugged me.

“Ballet … no, modern, I think. Am I right?” She was. “I’m so very glad you’re back to dance today. Congratulations.”

Oh man. After that it was ALRIGHT CLASS, LET’S DO THIS.

Walking into the room, there were about 10 other students. And clearly, I was nearly a decade older than every. single. one of them. I tossed my stuff in a corner, and began to stretch. After about 5 minutes of this, our instructor walked in. Quite unexpectedly, he was the company’s director of choreography, Robert Swinston.* With no warning (and no time to shed my sweatpants), he launched us into the first routine.

I’d forgotten that in a Master Class nothing is taught at half speed. It’s full on, full out, from the very first step.

90 minutes. 90 minutes of steps deceptively simple looking. Of twists and leaps and quite literally flinging ourselves around the room. 90 minutes physically harder than anything I remember doing.

I fell … often … in the first 15 minutes. And I laughed … every time. Which earned glares from other dancers. But also the praise of our instructor “Why shouldn’t she laugh? Falling is silly. You have to have fun with it, laugh, pick yourself back up. If you’re not enjoying yourself, if you’re taking yourself too seriously, you shouldn’t have the honor of calling yourself a dancer.”

That didn’t win me any friends … but it did make me glow. And gave me the courage to get up and re-attempt the step I’d just crashed out of.

I fell a lot. (So did everyone else.) I missed nearly every single arm movement (it’s been oh … 15 years since I’ve taken ballet. You don’t use matched arm and foot placements in modern!). I had to stop twice, as my back wouldn’t support holding a certain position. I laughed (loudly),  I sweated (heavily), I made a fool of myself (often), and I forgot that my leotard didn’t fit.

When he began to cool us down I started to get excited. I’d made it! I’d actually made it though a class, NOW, that I’d been too chicken to take back in the height of my dance career.

As we were all packing up I overheard a couple local college kids complaining that the choreography had been “too easy” and they’d been “expecting … MORE.” Made bold by my sense of accomplishment I walked over and snapped “You’ve CLEARLY never seen this company perform. Their entire style is based on doing basic movements PERFECTLY.” From behind me, someone else piped up, addressing the girl I’d just scolded. “Doing one movement perfectly, holding it, really feeling it and making your audience feel it, too, is much MUCH harder than going through a series where you only need to hit the end step on the right beat. Go back to your ballet class, little girl. Leave this to the adults.”

Um. Wow.

Turns out, the company was rehearsing for the night’s performance, just after our class. The company dancers had begun filing into the room as we packed up.

The complainer flounced away, and the woman laughed. The DoC walked up, clearly amused by what had just happened, and turned to me. “So what’s your story? You clearly have modern training … some Martha Graham, right? You were the only one in the room who knew what they were doing or even TRIED. But something’s off. You were rock solid on your left, but every time we focused on the right, you fell. Why?”

As I explained about the accident and my resulting back issues, you could see the wheels turning. Without asking permission (a dance master never does), he started probing my back, and taking me through some steps. Then, standing back, he asked me to cover some of the steps we’d done in class. While going through them, a couple of the company members came up and began to fill in the empty spaces. It turns out, the series of steps that we’d done in class were actually one member’s movements from a full routine. As the empty spaces with filled with others, it all made sense.

It was magical. And stunningly beautiful.

After many, many thanks to everyone, I left. By the time I got outside, guests were arriving for another afternoon show. Standing there in my leotard and sweats, I was quite the standout among the formalwear. But I barely noticed.

I found a place to wait for my ride, and slowly … as the adrenaline slipped away … what had happened started to hit me. I’d danced, something I’d never thought I would do again. And I’d done so for the DoC of my dream company … with the company members themselves. I’d had two major players in the dance world recognize me for what I once was and encourage me back. And I’d thrown it all in the face of that voice inside me that echoed what so many doctors have been telling me for the last five years.

I started shaking. And I cried. And felt the urge to vomit from the emotion of it all.

And as the cool December air dried my tears, I looked down at my feet…

 

… and thought maybe, JUST MAYBE, they would lead me back to a place where what I’d once been would become what I AM.

 

* A quick excerpt from his bio: “… attended the Juilliard School, where he received a BFA in Dance. He danced with the Martha Graham Apprentice Company, the José Limón Dance Company, and with Kazuko Hirabayashi Dance Theatre.” Holy big deal, Batman. o_O

** Photo taken about 20 minutes after I left the studio. This really was the moment it hit me.

January 17, 2012

2012: The Goal

Whoops, left you all hanging there!

So, building on the misses … seems pretty obvious I’ve got some work to do, right? So let’s set a goal:

In 2012 I will take back control of my life.

Sounds fancy and all mysterious, but really, what I mean is I need to be accountable for the things I say I’m going to do, responsible about the things I should be doing, and good about listening to myself about what I want to do. Try and banish some of The Fear, re-prioritize my marriage, get my health and fitness back in proper order.

So, how do we accomplish it?

1. I’ve made myself a deadline of February 15th to get appointments scheduled. That means primary, dentist (due in Feb for a cleaning, anyway, so that’s easy), chiro, and a freaking gyno if it kills me. (I’ve been trying to find one that accepts both my insurance and new patients for 6 MONTHS. Something seems wrong with this.) The appointments themselves can be as far out as they need to be, but they WILL be scheduled within the next month.

2. Pay attention to what I’m eating. Honestly, I have never really paid attention to the calories I’m eating, or nutritional content. Not a good habit, I know. I eat when I’m hungry, till I’m full. Period. It’s served me well, until about a year ago. So now, we need to pay attention. Pay attention, and adjust as needed.

I downloaded an app called My Fitness Pal … it basically works the same as Weight Watchers, but with calories instead of points.* You log what you eat, how much you’re working out, and your weight, and it tallies everything up for you. It’s been interesting to see what I’m consuming … and where I can improve. Now, to make sure I’m honest with it.

3. Pay attention to my cycle. I mean, I’m not sure how many of you actually do this, but I know I don’t. Sure, I keep track of when it starts, but length? Symptoms? Flow? Not so much, beyond “wow, this is a really bad month”. A large part of taking control of my body is knowing what’s GOING ON with my body … and once I do, I can tell if something’s wrong.

For now, I’m using another app … P Tracker (as it’s known in the Android market). It takes a full month to set it up, but so far, so good. Hit a button when you start, and it pops up a list of symptoms that allow you to track how you’re feeling, until you hit the button again when you finish. The only complaint I have so far is that it’s only allowing me 4 days … though that may sort itself out after I’m done with setup. We’ll see.

4. Workouts. Freaking DO them. I’ve updated Workin’ It Out to reflect this new philosophy. No set mileage, no dedicated days. But I MUST record everything I do. And at the end of the week, I get a letter grade. The goal is to do 3 work outs a week (for now). We’ll see where it ends up.

The first week of the month, as you’ll see, I failed. Last week was better. This week promises to be awesome, if I can just stick with it.

5. Set actual TIME aside for the husband. Not eating-dinner-while-watching-tv, actual US time.

6. Take a trip … large or small … every other month. I learned last year that I really REALLY need to get away every now and then. My quick trips to NYC and Boston last year were perfect for that. NYC cost $40 roundtrip at the most expensive point. Boston cost $3 (seriously). That’s easy to do and easy to afford, right? So I should just do it.

Of course, there are some larger trips in there, too. April (if everything aligns), I’ll be in SoCal for a few days for a friend’s wedding, planning with the sister, and my mom’s birthday. Then we’ll have the sister’s shower. And we’re planning on doing our anniversary (a few weeks late) in Napa, just ahead of the sister’s wedding.

Things to look forward to help keep me sane.

Oh, and one more:

7. Take a dance class.

Because dammit, this Saturday marks 5 years from the accident. 5 YEARS. I’ll be damned if I’m not trying again.

So, that sums it up … though I’m sure there are things I’ve missed. Any clue what they are? Who has their goals?

 

* Christine gets credit for that description. It’s how she sold me on it.

January 11, 2012

2011: The Misses

So, as many good times as 2011 held, there were also some bad ones. For me, they were mostly internal … disappointments and struggles I had with myself. But, as we tend to do when we need comfort, let’s share:

 

1. Health/Fitness

I had such good intentions. Such great intentions. But, damn it, working out is HARD when you haven’t in so long. Combine that with The Fear, and you have a long, disappointing Sarah’s-being-lazy cycle. I had MONTHS to prepare for the 10k, and didn’t make it (finishing is good, but running it is BETTER). I could give myself the benefit of the doubt and say I tried, but really? I was lazy. Working out hurt, took effort, and made me get up off the couch. Therefore, I didn’t do it. 6 months worth of gym fees, wasted.

Health-wise wasn’t much better. Though I DID finally get myself to a dentist (LOOOOOOONG overdue), it took massive pain to get me there. Everything else fell by the wayside. I should really be seeing an orthopedist and chiro for my back (not to mention normal physicals/exams like a responsible adult) … but my insurance company is giving me hell about a pre-existing condition clause (the old insurance company keeps ignoring my requests for proof of coverage) … and so it’s MUCH easier to not fight it and just stay home. An all to convenient excuse.

This, my friends, is bullshit, and I need to STOP IT. I’m only doing myself damage.

2. Headspace

You’d think, with so much good going on, I’d be in a better place mentally. If only it were so easy, right? One positive thing I learned was that I need something to look forward to in the immediate future … weekend trips, visits from friends etc, each month or two … to keep myself going. Easy enough to do, when NYC (and the friends there) are only a few hours on a bus away. But when I don’t have that, it’s super easy for me to fall back down into depression.

It doesn’t help that I’ve realized I don’t want to stay in DC, but don’t really have a choice (unless I’m being SUPER selfish … husband’s work is here, to leave would force him to switch career paths COMPLETELY). And while I’m so, so thankful for all of you … it’s really hard to have been here for three years now, and still not have any close friends. Sure, I have friends here … but no one I can call at last second to go grab dinner, who I can just sit and giggle with over absolutely nothing, or who’ll come over and eat ice cream and give me a hug while I cry. Those people are still in California. Everyone here seems to fall into two categories: 1. they’ve lived here (or close) all their lives, and all their friends have, too. So they’re reluctant to let anyone new into their group. Or 2. they’re migrants (like us), but are so career focused they don’t have time for anything but the quick dinner date. It’s good, but sometimes, I just really need someone to come kidnap me and make me watch Muppets From Space, just to get my head back in a positive way.

I don’t really know what I can do to fix this one … other than getting myself to a damn therapist already. But anyone who’s dealt with depression knows that can be terrifying. And 2011 was full of fear for me. So I did nothing. NO GOOD.

3. Our Marriage

I don’t mean to imply that something is terribly wrong. We, as a couple, made some great strides in 2011. But there were things we promised each other we’d do this year and just … didn’t. Things like making more time for each other. Getting out of the house and into the sunlight on weekends, together. Planning better. Remembering to be considerate at all times. And so on.

I know it happens to everyone … and I know it doesn’t mean anything’s WRONG. But I’m still disappointed that we looked back at 2010, said “Let’s be better this year”, and then … weren’t. ::sighs::

 

So yes, some big disappointments. And on all of them it comes back to me getting up and DOING something about it.

Guess I have some goals for 2012 already set, hmm?

January 10, 2012

2011: The Wins

So, let’s start on a high note, shall we?

While the past year was definitely a roller coaster, there were high moments! Let’s work our way through:

Over Valentine’s, the husband and I took our first (well, my first) trip to NYC to visit a few friends, and see a show. Coming in on the heels of a blizzard was maybe not the BEST plan in the world … but we managed it. It also set the stage for several more NYC trip (hop a bus! So easy!) throughout the year.

 

In March I started working for a national commercial real estate company.* It’d taken me almost 4 years (from the market originally crashing and my lay off) to get back into that position, in my field. My second day was the “all company meeting” for the DC area … and it felt like coming home. My place, within the business world, is in a corporate environment. Small companies, while lovely, leave me feeling like I’m not being productive. Take that for what you will, but that’s how it’s worked for me. CT isn’t a Fortune 500 company the way CB was/is, but it’s getting there.

April had me flying home to California for my sister’s baby shower … and what a shower it was! Never have you seen a couple more loved. They literally DID NOT HAVE ROOM for all the gifts they got. Craziness!

 

That same trip I was able to visit the Renaissance Pleasure Faire … and play a bit with my old guild. It’s amazing how easily you can slip back into the fabric of something you’ve been missing from for so long. And! One of my favorite people at the faire snuck up to surprise me while I was there! I may be guilty of squealing, leaping over the hay bale in front of me, and tackling him. MAY be. ::grins::

May saw me back in California for the birth of my nephew, Noah. Much cuddling and cooing occurred during this trip, lemme tell you! Too. Much. Sweetness.

I also got to spend some time with my godson (who’d just turned 3!) and best friend during that trip … always always always one of the best parts of any Cali trip. And at Disneyland! Can’t beat that!

 

PLUS! Having a long weekend at my disposal, I hopped a bus and made it up to San Fran to visit Lauren and Kamel! We laughed, we bounced (HOUSE OF JUMP! YAY!), we drank cheap wine and watched terrible addicting television. Plus, we got to meet Sharon & Jason as well! Not to mention delicious dinner. IT. WAS. PERFECT.

 

 

July 1st was the wedding of one of my very best friends. He’s so dear to me that I flew TO TEXAS IN JULY. I wore a fancy dress (and forgot to take photos until the end of the night!), flirted with old college friends, taught a buddy to moonwalk, and charmed the bride and her family. Mission accomplished.

 

While in town I got to spend some time with Rachelle (Pedicures! Delicious lunch!) and Alyssa (Terrible addicting TV! Theatre talk! Puppy snuggles!) … really, I got spoiled a bit this year with all the ladies I had a chance to visit. ::grins::

August was our 1st anniversary … so we ran away to a bed and breakfast in a tiny North Carolina town. Tiny is totally an understatement. It was quiet, well … except for the storm … and it was LOVELY.

I also really got down to work on Jenn’s beautiful wedding gown. Color me EXCITED.

 

At the very end of the month I was back in NYC for YayNY! … and managed to get stuck thanks to Hurricane Irene. There, I learned there’s nothing a little wine and an uproarious round of Phase 10 can’t fix!

 

 

And in September … Alice joined our household!! Nothing else needs to be said to express my glee. ::grins::

My 28th birthday was in October. I wore another fancy dress (NO pictures this time, SAD), drank wine in a dark bar, and celebrated with friends.

 

A week later, I ran my first race … ever. While it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, it was an accomplishment … one I sincerely hope to build on. Plus, cheering my husband on as he finished a marathon … AWESOME experience.

 

 

And then it was December, and I gathered up my courage and went to a Master Class with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. A long wished for dream come true. And worth every pain and emotion involved.

Plus … Christmas!

 

I know there are things I’m forgetting. Who can help me remember? But, you know … all in all … 2011 wasn’t too shabby a  year!

 

*Said company does not like their name to be published on personal blogs/social media etc. I’m sure with a little sleuthing you could figure it out, if you’re so inclined. ::winks::

January 9, 2012

::blinks::

Oh … hey there, 2012. You snuck up on me.

So, um, happy 2012! New year! New beginnings! The world’s going to end this year, so might as well make it a good one, and all that jazz, right? ::laughs:: Right.

I may be a week late, but it seems like the right time to get this corner of the interwebs up and running again. No, my headspace hasn’t completely sorted itself out yet (or really, at all), but one of the things I promised myself last week was that I wouldn’t let things like this stand in my way this year. Little breaks are fine, disappearing for months on end is NOT.

So, with that in mind, this week will be what SHOULD have been my year-end posts. Recapping the year. Celebrating the wins. Mourning the losses. Setting goals for 2012. Looking ahead.

Oh, and one long-awaited post on a certain dance class…

So, let’s jump back in, shall we? I’ve missed you!