Life in fast forward

reading-925589_1920I wanted to share a quick update to let you know I’m still alive. I was hoping things would slow down after the wedding. And in a way, they did. I ended up getting sick and fighting a cold for a week or so. Likely a result of late nights and long travel days. But as I recovered, things shifted into overdrive.

This week has been fun but draining. Monday and Tuesday I had dance class. The first is a partner dance, the second is solo. Dance is a creative and emotional outlet for me and it helps with stress relief. But it’s still a social activity. Tonight, I’m skyping with an out of country friend. I’m looking forward to it but it’s still draining. Thursday is a games night at my place with a few close friends. There will only be four of us and shouldn’t be too bad. I can always check out early if I need to. Friday afternoon is free of social activity but I still have errands to run. This weekend will have a few social obligations but I’m hoping I can keep them on the shorter side. I’ve been doing my best to squeeze in quiet time before bed. But I need more time to fully recover. Right now it feels like I’m treading water. I’m planning on spending a couple of hours on Sunday going for a quiet walk along the river. I may also bring a book. I think that will help a lot.

On the plus side, the weather here has improved dramatically and it seems spring may actually be on the way. It’s also been wonderfully sunny and bright which always makes me smile.

Do you have any plans this weekend? How have you been doing?

My samba experience

people-2601101_1920Last week I wrote about starting a new dance class. So I thought I’d share a quick follow up.

I had no idea what to expect in my first samba class. I wore my usual ballroom attire: dance shoes and business casual. But I soon learned I had made a terrible mistake. Everyone in the studio was clad in yoga pants and running shoes. Oh well, I thought, this is fine.

I started chatting with a lady I had met the previous week. Both of us were taking samba for the first time. Then I discovered something else. Despite advertising “continuous registration”, the class officially began five weeks ago. This meant we were both five weeks behind everyone else. This was a bit intimidating but I figured I’d try my best. Our instructor was encouraging but told us to “try to keep up”. This was easier said than done.

We started the class with a warm up and I immediately knew I was out of my league. The instructor led us through various movements. I attempted to imitate him by twisting and contorting my body in ways it had never moved before. I was a sweaty mess before we even started the routine.

After the warm up, our instructor went over the routine step by step. He also added a few new steps at the end. This was great. I was starting to remember the steps and pick up a little technique. Then we did the routine at 80 percent speed. That was more challenging. I missed a bunch of steps but I thought I did an admirable job of keeping up. Then we ran through the routine at normal speed. It was intense (look up samba music and you’ll see how fast it is). I think I managed to move in the right direction most of the time but my footwork was a mess.

But despite the chaos, I’m looking forward to this week’s class. I know that with time and lots of practice, even I can feel comfortable and confident in this new dance.

What are your plans this week?

More dancing? Yes please.

pretty-woman-in-field-820477_1920When I first started looking into dance lessons I had two objectives. Learn waltz and foxtrot. That was it. I wasn’t interested in other ballroom styles and latin dance seemed intimidating. Unfortunately, you can’t always find classes for two specific dances and nothing else.

So I signed up for a rotating drop-in class instead. They taught waltz and foxtrot once a month. But tango, rumba, and cha cha classes were also mixed in. As a result, I was “forced” to try other dances. Learning a completely new dance from scratch is a challenge. Sometimes even the way you walk is different. But as I progressed I started feeling more comfortable. Waltz and foxtrot are still my top two. But I’m currently in love with tango and cha cha is a new favorite. Each dance has it’s own personality. It’s exciting to discover all the differences to each style.

I often hold myself back from trying new things. Sometimes it’s because I’m scared or unsure. Sometimes I don’t feel like it or don’t have the energy. But I’ll never grow if I don’t push outside my comfort zone. Embracing new things in dance has lead to increased confidence in other areas of life too. As an introvert, I still need to ensure I have the necessary energy. But if I’m organized that’s not an issue. I just need to schedule quiet time both before and after to recharge.

Last week my dance instructor threw out a few suggestions for upcoming dance classes. Instead of instantly writing them off, I sat down and thought about it. After a few days of deliberation, I signed up for a samba class that begins this week. It’s completely out of my comfort zone but I’m still looking forward to it. Who knows, I might gain a new favorite dance in the process.

What’s something new that you’ve tried?

The joy of dance

girl-1258727_1920I’ve been taking weekly dance lessons at my current studio for five months. It’s been such a great experience and I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone. But even now, I still get twinges of nerves as I’m driving there. Perhaps it’s not knowing what material will be taught. Or not knowing if I’ll have a partner. But it’s always been worth it each time I make the effort to go. Dance has been such a wonderful and fulfilling part of my life.

Last night was a lot of fun. We were learning tango (American not Argentine) with our usual instructor. One of my newly-acquired dance friends was there so we partnered together. But we also switched partners with the other two couples who were there. Since there were so few of us, this meant we got a lot of individual attention from the instructor. He gave us advanced feedback for styling and footwork.

We had another hour of practice time after the lesson. My friend and I danced a few songs before he had to head home. I had started practicing some basics on my own when the owner of the studio walked over. He spent the next few minutes dancing with me. All the while explaining the history of tango, some of the dynamics with the footwork, and a few areas to work on. He also corrected my posture and explained where my weight should be sitting. It made a huge difference in how each step felt. It was a lot of fun and made me feel excited to practice.

I also spoke with my instructor that evening. He mentioned I should be able to move up to the next level of classes in a couple of months. This was encouraging as I’ve been doing solo practice on my own (huge shout out to Katie’s blog: The Girl with the Tree Tattoo for tons of helpful content on solo dance practice). I’m also planning to take a couple of private lessons once I’m back from my trip. This should help to improve my frame and technique as well.

Have you ever tried dance? What are some of your favorite hobbies?

5 things I learned from dance class

persons-768597_1920Today marks the final week of waltz classes this month. Overall it’s been a good experience. The first lesson had me overwhelmed and frustrated. Fortunately the following two went much smoother. I’m looking forward to class tonight and I’m already thinking of what dances I want to learn next. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from dance class.

1. Lower your expectations.
For both you and your instructor. Especially if you’ve never done it before. At my first waltz class I had the unrealistic idea I’d be able to learn each step perfectly with minimal practice. Unreasonable, yes. But welcome to the mind of an introvert and perfectionist. After that first class, I gave myself permission to make mistakes. It became my goal to learn as much as possible each night. As a result, each class was more enjoyable and I had a lot more fun.

2. Embrace the instructor.
While you do this physically when you dance haha, I’m referring more to their style of teaching. My first waltz instructor was very intense. He spoke fast, moved fast, and expected a lot. My current instructor is the exact opposite. He’s laid back, makes lots of jokes, and ensures everyone is comfortable. He spends a lot of time on the little details. Neither way is wrong, simply different, and you can learn from both.

3. Do hard things.
Walking into a dance class full of strangers is terrifying. I still have to psych myself up for a lesson even though I love dancing. Pushing yourself outside your comfort zone helps you grow. Embrace challenge! The confidence, discipline, dedication, and perseverance you develop will help you in all other aspects of life.

4. Take care of yourself.
If you aren’t used to dancing, the new movements can leave you stiff and sore the next day. Fortunately my legs are used to worse abuse than dancing (I’m looking at you dead lifts and squats) so they were okay. But it was a good reminder. I need to be more deliberate and proactive about taking care of myself. I need to get enough sleep, take active rest days, stay hydrated, stretch daily, and practice good nutrition. My mental health also needs to be more of a priority.

5. Enjoy!
Learning is fun, something I’ve rediscovered through dance. But I’m always looking forward to the next step and often miss out on the NOW. I’m learning to stop, breathe, look around, and take note of what I’m feeling. Time goes by fast. I don’t want to miss out on all the wonderful, little details that make life so beautiful.

What’s your favourite hobby or activity?

In love with dance

architecture-2597556_1920A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my first dance lesson. It was a very positive experience and I was looking forward to the next one. We had our second private lesson last week and it went even better. Both my friend and I were able to practice both on our own and together, which helped immensely. I also had plenty of alone time before our lesson, which helped me focus, and ensured I wasn’t overwhelmed during our class.

We met up with our instructor a few minutes after arriving at the studio. He asked us to show him what we had practiced, and with a bit of trepidation, we did. We threw a few moves together, but our instructor could tell we were a bit nervous, and the lesson soon moved on.

As we danced, our instructor gave us a few pointers on how our feet should move while doing the basic step and the importance of keeping our steps small and controlled. Once we were feeling more confident, he lead us through several new turns, kicks, and spins. We practiced each move with our instructor, as he switched between lead and follow roles, until we felt comfortable. Then we practiced with each other. We spent the entire class dancing and we learned a lot. Our goal had been to be able to dance by the end of our lessons, and we definitely achieved that.

After the lesson concluded, we headed our separate ways, but not before making plans to practice together on the weekend. We met up on Sunday and reviewed the steps we had just learned. After an hour or so, both my friend and I felt confident enough to run through our “choreographed” moves as well as improvising on the fly.

We also chatted about how much we enjoyed the experience and where we wanted to go from there. We’ve decided to look into group lessons in the area. We’ll continue learning east coast swing and two step, but we also want to try other styles. I’m really looking forward to learning even more! I’m so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried dance, it’s so much fun 🙂

How has your week been?

Learning to dance

green-2559003_1920Yesterday was my first dance lesson. I met up with my friend for coffee, then we headed over to the dance studio a few minutes before our lesson was set to begin. We had signed up for an introductory package that included two private lessons and a group lesson. At the time, we hadn’t decided on a specific dance style. But upon meeting our instructor, he suggested we try east coast swing and country two step. Due to the versatility of both dances, we decided to go with those.

I’ve learned a little bit of jive in the past, but the steps in east coast swing are bit different and took some getting used to. However, both my partner and I picked up the basic step fairly quickly and moved onto a few moves. This is where things started falling apart. When you take two people with limited or no dance experience, and teach them to how to move in a completely foreign way, it can be quite the challenge. However, we definitely improved as the lesson progressed and the steps we first stumbled at became easier to perform. Having a relaxed and patient partner made learning easier, and as we both have a good sense of humour, there was a lot of laughter. We also had a really funny and encouraging instructor who kept things light. We wrapped up the lesson with country two step, which I found the easier of the two. By the end of the lesson, we had a good foundation of both dances, something we’ll be able to build on in the future.

I had never assumed dancing would be easy, but I think I underestimated how mentally draining it was. But having an awesome partner and an encouraging instructor made the whole experience so much fun. I’m really excited for our next lesson. But in the meantime, I really need to practice the steps so I’ll be more fully prepared to learn new ones next time. I can already see how addicting dance can become and I want to keep learning more!

Have you had similar experiences?

Escaping the comfort zone

tango-190026_1920Last month, I wrote a piece about introversion and the comfort zone. It’s a wonderful place but nothing grows there.

One of my goals this year has been to embrace change and go after personal growth. I want to take more (calculated) risks, push myself outside my comfort zone, and take advantage of new experiences. I’ve also been working to spend more time with people that energize me, and less time with those who are toxic or draining.

It’s been a positive year so far. I’ve been learning to say no to things that offer no benefit (or if I have no energy). But I’m also saying yes to new experiences. The newest and most exciting experience to come is attending ballroom dance lessons with a friend this summer. I’ve always wanted to learn to dance, yet never had the push to actually sign up. I’ve learned a few basics and several line dances (in school and summer camps) but I’ve always wanted to go further. I’m so excited for this opportunity (and I can definitely use more flexibility and grace).

So here’s to trying new things and going on new adventures. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes 🙂

What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?