Happy Birthday to Me!

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Today is my birthday.  Don’t worry, I’m not mad at any of you for forgetting and not getting me anything.  (That’s a joke, by the way)

No major celebrations planned since that’s not really my style.  Going to the studio later for the practice party and will do some nice stuff with the spouse this weekend.  But its a day just to think a little bit about where I’ve been and where I’m going.  As much as I enjoy dancing, I have been plagued for the longest time by doubt and insecurity and I’ve written about that a lot.  I’ve not talked about the things I tried to do to get my mind right but I have invested done other things to try and be more positive and forgiving of myself.  I’m not saying I’m there yet but the last month has been the most fun I’ve had dancing in a long time and maybe it means I’ve turned a corner somewhere.

So let me tell you about the good things that happened last night.  I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging but, for me, the best way to internalize the positive stuff is to write it down so it becomes real.

I’ve mentioned before that I have a tendency to wear brightly colored and patterned socks and shirts with a lot of color.  No solid white dress shirts or plain black socks for me.  The socks have been the topic of many conversations at the studio and I buy new ones from time to time so people don’t get bored with the same old patterns.  Last night, I get to the studio just before group class and one of the ladies comes over and tells me she needs to see something happy so I oblige and show her my socks (purple with large orange polka dots).  Any evening that starts with showing off you socks has potential to be interesting.

The group class was cha-cha.  The main part of the pattern is a step I’ve done before where the man starts by rocking forward but then kind of turns to the side to slingshot the lady by him but then steps back on his back foot and stops her momentum.  Well we were switching partners and one of the ladies got to me and we do the step and she asks “what’s your secret?”.  I have no idea what she’s talking about but it turns out she’s trying to figure out how I’m doing the step since it is so different from everyone else.  The second time through, she tells me “it only pops with you”.  OK, that’s one of the phrases that only makes sense in context.  In the middle of the group lesson, it was perfectly natural and above board.  Typing it out makes it a bit sketchier.  Anyway, the third time through, she asks if I’m coming to the party tonight and I tell her “yes” and she smiles and starts clapping.

I can lead.  There, I’ve just said it.  Not saying that I’m the best or that there is no room for improvement but I’ve obviously got some skill in this area.  I have been plagued by doubts because when you dance primarily with professionals, it can be easy to assume they are back leading and making you look better.  OK, it is probably only easy to assume when you are full of insecurities and doubt.  But I’ve picked up enough to know that leading comes from the core and not the arms.  I was watching some of the other guys and they were doing it all with their arms and, really, the arms shouldn’t move that much.  It is the weight transfer and core that gets the momentum going.  I also know I’ve done a lot of work with my trainer on core and back strength and I think I’m starting to see it pay off.  I’ll have to let him know next time.

I had a lesson with Kid T where we continued to work on our West Coast Swing routine.  We got through the next section of the routine.  She and OwnerGuy had worked on it during the day and she had a video.  I’ve found that I can get footwork through a video but not always the positions and arm movements.  I have to actually do something to learn it best which made for a couple of no so great first attempts but Kid T is very patient and we got through it.  There is a dip coming up which should be interesting.  At the end of the lesson, she talked me into taking a coaching lesson with a guy from another studio who does a lot of West Coast Swing.  He and his partner are real good friends with OwnerGuy and Z and I’ve worked with him before so he knows I’ve spent most of my time with Z so I’m curious to see how it goes.  Changing instructors shouldn’t be a big deal, right???

I think I have a bit of a Bromance with M-Dawg.  He seems to like watching me during lessons and he’s usually got nice things to say about what he sees.  He also likes my selection of shirts.  I kid a little about the Bromance.  He’s a good kid and he’s got the type of personality that just makes him fun to be around. So I get to practice being a little more outgoing and work on my small talk skills because he loves to talk.  I do hope he sticks around.

I have not talked about my personal training because this is primarily about dance but the other part of what is making me happy is that I’m seeing real progress there as well.  My training just upped the weight on one exercise he has me do.  It is tough, but I can do it and that’s what matters.  I can see more changes and they are positive and I’m starting to like the way I look.  Yes, there are still parts that aren’t perfect but they aren’t dragging me down as much.

So it is a very happy birthday for me.

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