Mambo Jumble

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So I had a double dose of Z last night as we ramp up preparations for Showcase and beyond. The focus last night was on the rhythm dances and just bringing them all back and making sure I’ve got the basics down. No work on timing or other things yet but that will come as we transition into doing rounds which is what I expect most of April to be. I suspect most of you know this but an occasional non-dancer may wander in from time to time so rounds refers to doing each dance back to back. So a rhythm round is usually Cha-Cha, then Rumba, then Swing, then Bolero and lastly Mambo. For at least one round, we’ll get the appropriate music for each. It really ramps up the reps which is what it takes to make these things comfortable.
The second lesson was solely devoted to Mambo because I was and still am concerned about the whole “hold the one” freakiness of the timing. So we just broke down each step in the routine and where the pauses were and just did it in slow motion multiple times and finally worked up to doing it with music. She was counting while I was trying to do the same although I was letting her do the out loud counting as I was just trying to stay with her. She got super excited at the end which I really didn’t understand until the drive home. To my mind, I knew she’s not going to be counting at Showcase so I really haven’t proven anything other than I can do it with a great deal of help. Of course, this could also just be my special “gift” at finding the dark cloud in every silver lining when it comes to my dancing.
So on the drive back, I was thinking of a way to justify my lack of enthusiasm for my “accomplishment”. Then, a brilliant analogy hit me. It would be like a kid riding a bike with training wheels and with a parent hanging on to them the entire time. See, they really haven’t done anything on their own, so what’s the big deal. Just as I was thinking of how to explain it, another thought suddenly jumped into my head which was that for a parent, this would likely be a very big deal and they would be excited about it. Substitute “teacher” for “parent” and suddenly it was clear to me why this was important to her. I have done my share of teaching and I forget that if you care, then you want people to succeed and are naturally happy when they see signs of success. And then I felt really bad for being the wet blanket and stomping on her excitement. I was just focused on the fact that I couldn’t do all by myself so it didn’t count but that’s really not the way I should be looking at these things. I’m taking lessons because I need help (hand smacks forehead right now) which means it is OK to succeed with assistance. It is not a sign of failure that I can’t do it on my own. It is a sign that I can do something I thought I couldn’t do (that would be dance Mambo on time in case you’ve lost track). If I can do it with someone counting, then I can eventually dance on time without someone counting next to me. Again my special “gift” of always looking on the dark side of life prevents me from appreciating the small accomplishments that will eventually add up. I really hate my special “gift” but it is just so hard to get rid of it.
Along with that is my inability to accept compliments when it comes to dancing. Right before group class, we were finishing up my first lesson and we were working on Mambo which extended into the second lesson after group class. My designated cha-cha partner was asking about what we were doing and said something about how good it looked. Kid you not; my response was along the lines of “well Z looked good, me, not so much”. Yes the ever present deflect the compliment and use it as an opportunity to tear myself down. I’ve started reading about that and that is something I really need to focus on. Doing what I’m doing doesn’t make me feel any better and it really makes the person giving the compliment feel bad as well because you are just invalidating their feelings. Note to self – when given a compliment, the correct response is “Thank you”. Got to hard wire that one into my brain.

Beating these demons is hard but I know it is necessary.  In some ways, my insecurities and doubt are a good thing because they drive me to practice and work and be better at this.  But, when they become too powerful, then it blocks me from seeing and feeling the progress and I get stuck in this rut where I can actually fight some of the tips I’m getting because I’ve already convinced myself that “xxx” will never happen (dancing Mambo on time is just the latest example).   Then, I think about it on the ride home and start smacking myself around for being such a downer and I’m sure that doesn’t help the situation any.

I know this is not new ground but I know that my lack of confidence in my own abilities is a serious limiting factor.  It would be so much better to come into things with an open mind rather than just looking for the reasons why something won’t work.  Well, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  All I can do is put yesterday behind me and just keep trying.

One lesson I’ve certainly learned about all this is that it is good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  It is painful and scary and forces you to confront a lot of things about yourself – some of them not so good.  But, on the whole it has made positive changes in my life.

OK, enough deep thoughts.  Time to dance.  Tonight is smooth – bring on the waltz, fox trot, tango and viennese waltz.

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