Work, Life, Dance, Balance

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It has been a rough week at work for a couple of reasons.  If I ever around to writing up my guiding philosophies as a manager, one thing I would say is that life happens and it will intrude on work.  If I can’t fix the life problems, then the next best thing I can do as a boss is keep work stress from compounding life stress.  That means allowing people flexibility when they need it and trying to be as supportive as possible.

So I’ve got one lady who is going through some really rough family problems.  We’ve talked multiple times and I know she is a very dedicated to her work and can manage her time so if she needs to work from home or be off a morning, I have no worries about things getting done and I’ve told her this many times.  This week has been especially stressful and she sent me an email apologizing for not being reliable and feeling like she had let people down.  She said she used email to avoid breaking down in front of me.  I knew I had to say something but doing it face to face would likely have been even more embarrassing for her so I opted for an email response because I really needed to let her know that I supported her completely.  As an INTP, I’m supposed to be immune from emotions but just thinking about her situation and how much she was hurting, it got to me and I almost broke down a couple of times while composing the email.

And then we had an experiment unexpectedly go bad.  I can’t get into details but just know it is a highly visible project and what we observed wasn’t supposed to happen.  That meant we had to go quickly into investigative mode to try and figure out what went wrong.  My group is really talented but they prefer routine and plans and dealing with uncertainty and change stresses them out.  And the investigation has many parts all of which are different from normal work activity.  I’ll admit that my natural ability and logic and love of problem solving took over because I outlined several things that needed to happen and we started splitting up tasks.  The team is capable of doing everything, but, under stress, they can become more tentative and need guidance in what to tackle first.  So I’m spending a great deal of time just trying to calm nerves by remaining calm and low key and trying to be supportive.

I’m capable of doing all this, but as an introvert (and perhaps being more empathic than I give myself credit for), it wears me out.  And I knew that was the case when I got on the treadmill today.  Normally, I can get lost in my music and the 45 minutes goes by relatively quickly.  Today was a struggle.  I ended up trying to break it into 10 minute blocks but I could never get into the zone.

So I had a lesson tonight and I knew I wasn’t in the best mental shape.  Since I’m compulsively early to dance lessons (to be fair, I’ve got a longish drive and traffic is always a variable and I feel better if I’m not stressed out trying to get there), so I got my normal coffee but took some me time to sit outside the Starbucks and enjoy my coffee and some phone games before heading to the studio.  I think just that little bit helped.

We worked on Cha-Cha first.  Kid T was trying to get me to push out the back leg more on the last step of the triples.  I’ve been introduced to that concept before but somehow she hit on the right phrase, so I started doing that.  It did make the Cha-Cha better but then my thighs were killing me which is a sign I was doing it right if I was engaging muscles that hadn’t been used before.  And we also did our Peabody which is going to be a fun little dance that will probably grow into a routine.

Group class was Bolero and taught by OwnerGuy.  Interesting that Bolero came up since I just called it my toughest dance.  Not so much the dance but trying to capture the feel of it since it is supposed to be a romantic dance and you probably already know how I feel about expressing that side of my personality.  I ended up partnered with Hilde to start with and that meant we’d spend the most time together since there were other actual couples there and they like to keep them together.  She hadn’t done Bolero before and her first impression was not good.  We had done about half the pattern and she said something like “Is that it?”.  I think the faster rhythm/latin dances are more her style.

At one point in the rotation, I got to the last lady and we did a step that involved a guys turn.  I finished it and she says to me “Are you supposed to change your hands like you did?”  My first thought was “I changed my hands?”.  Seriously, I couldn’t remember actually doing it.  And this was not a step I had done before but somehow I just knew that anything we did after that turn would require getting back into the normal alignment so I just automatically changed hands.  She didn’t trust me and asked OwnerGuy who confirmed that is what was supposed to happen.  I take it from her question that I was the only one who did that.  This is one of those little moments that doesn’t seem like a lot but to me it is big.  There is so much involved in dancing that if you tried to remember everything, your head would explode.  So when things become natural and instinctive, it frees you up to focus on other things because your body says “we got this”.  And, it is the little things that make a dance really flow because you aren’t having to stop and change hands so you can more naturally flow into the next step.

There was also a little part where we walk side by side in a sweetheart position.  Hilde asked OwnerGuy whether we are supposed to look at each other during that part.  Knowing that we had a mix of couples and non-couples, OwnerGuy said it was optional but that if you wanted to start into your partner’s eye, that would be fine.  Naturally, Hilde says to me that she’s going to do that and I tell her no problem.  But she doesn’t.  So, I pointed it out to her (I was in a good mood) just to challenge her a bit .  I think there was a part of me that just wanted to really capture the whole feel of the Bolero and why not practice it during group class.  I guess I pulled it off as she made some comment about “smoky” or “smouldering” I can’t remember which.  I know she was super enthusiastic about the Bolero at the end which was quite a change from where we started.  And I think that comes when you realize dancing is not just steps.  If you can really get lost in the dance and try to really express what the dance is designed to convey, then it does become something special.  Well, at least it does for me.

Tomorrow is another day.  I have to go to work and we still have the problem to deal with.  But, I was able to escape into dance for a little bit and that gives me the strength to face whatever work throws at me tomorrow.

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