Life Comes at You Pretty Fast Sometimes

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“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”

“You can’t always control circumstances.  However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response.  Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.”

Rocco the wonder dog has several chew toys.  To be specific, they are Nylabone Dura Chew Barbells (free plug).   He only chews one end and we replace them when he’s worn it down.  His use of these toys is random.  He’ll walk by one five times and then, on the sixth time, something inside his brain will click and he’ll grab it and run somewhere to chew.  We tend to find them in various rooms of the house.

Sometimes, I can imagine what the chew toy feels like.  You are just going about your normal life with no worries or cares and suddenly a dog randomly grabs you and takes you to a different place and starts gnawing off one end.  Substitute me for the dog toy and Rocco for life and that’s kind of how I feel at times.  Then again, the chew toy is made for chewing so maybe it is happier when it is being chewed and fulfilling its life purpose.  Well, I was trying to inject a little humor into what will be a difficult post and all I’ve done is painted myself into an analogy corner.

Enough delaying, let’s get on with it.

Yesterday, after my lesson, I’m looking at group class which (a) has a serious male/female imbalance, (b) is Rumba and (c) is being taught by Z.  Three strikes and I’m out.  So I’m changing my shoes when OwnerGuy sidles over to me and wants to talk to me but we have to go into the “money room”.

This is not a good thing.  There are only two reasons that you get called into the money room.

  • When they want more of your money and want you to sign up for more lessons.
  • Your instructor is leaving the building.

I just signed up for a big package in December so I knew before he said anything that it was door #2.

Yes, Kid T has decided to leave the world of the Famous Franchise.  I guess she has had enough of teaching dance and wants to move on to something else.  It sounds like her last day will be sometime next week.  This does explain why she was pushing so hard for the Check Out and why we hadn’t really discussed the other two routines where we had just picked songs.

This is a shock but not totally unexpected.  The life span of a Famous Franchise instructor seems to be limited unless you have goals to be a lifer and try to get into management or travelling coaching.  Over my time, I’ve seen many come and go (look at the cast of characters if you need a refresher).  What sucks is that I really felt Kid T and I were really clicking.

OwnerGuy did get creative in his response and offered me a couple of options.

The first would be to go back with Z.  He talked to her and she said she would be willing.  We discussed that option briefly and I just told him that I didn’t see it working.  Even if we’ve moved beyond the breakup, we are still two different personalities and we just don’t mix.  I don’t think her teaching style is right for me.  She is much more goal oriented and driven and I think she doesn’t like dealing with someone like me who is mostly along for the journey and dancing because of how it makes me feel.  Maybe at some point I’ll try a lesson or two to see but this is really the option of last resort.

His other option was to have me work with NewestGirl but he would be on the lessons actually doing the teaching.  She’s clearly not as far along and she’d be learning with me.  He said he would arrange his schedule to be more available so we could make this work.  He actually told me a story of when he first started out and he ended up in a similar situation and that’s why he’s willing to try this with me.  He also said that lessons with just her would be more practice and that he’d cut me a deal on the hourly fee knowing that I wasn’t getting a lot of real instruction.

We talked about the special club I’m in and I said something to the effect that if I stayed that I didn’t think I would be coming in as often and he said we’d work with that.  He talked a lot about the future of the studio and what he wants to do and how he’s got new instructors in training.  Basically kind of a sales pitch about the studio and that it is going to continue to grow so I should want to stay and be a part of it.

We talked about dance and he asked an interesting question – what would I do if I did stop.  It does get you to think about how much ballroom has been a part of my life and what would I do to replace that.  I did finally fess up to the fact that I’ve been moonlighting and testing the waters at other places but that I wasn’t sure that they were a good substitute.  Since it hadn’t reduced the amount of lessons I was taking at the Famous Franchise, he kind of took that in stride.

We talked about the Bowie Swing routine and he said Newest Girl (I will have to give her a better name now) was excited about doing it.  She’s watched Kid T and I on multiple occasions so she’s willing to step in.  I’m on the fence about that.

I’m not sure about Showcase in May either.  I don’t know how much I’d be able to do since it is just two short months away.  Is it worth it to attend to just do a few dances and one routine when all of it would essentially be new?  Can’t answer that question right now.

I’m feeling a little sad right now because I’m pretty sure this is the end of my open routines.  It is a little silly but I get kind of attached to those things.  You do something enough times and it becomes a part of you.  And there were some really good parts to them.  I don’t know how quickly we could get back to them or if they’d have to be torn down and built back up to suit NewestGirl.

I did tell OwnerGuy that it takes me a long time to really get a good bond with a new instructor.  (Unless it was the original Body Double because something just clicked right away).  And do I really want to go back to the beginning and start this whole process over again.

I’ve faced this situation before so it isn’t brand new.  The song remains the same.  I still want to dance.  That remains unchanged.  Ballroom is too much a part of me to give it up.  Despite some of the issues, I feel comfortable at the Famous Franchise.  It is “home”.  I like some of the things they do.  I’m not quite ready to ride off into the sunset.  Although it would be easier to do know than it would have been the first time.  There would be a sort of symmetry to this since I was there the day the studio opened and they are planning to move sometime this summer so my ballroom life could span the entire life of the studio.

I don’t think I have good options though.  But I also think it would be a mistake to just walk out without at least giving OwnerGuy’s plan an honest shot.  I don’t have a lot to lose except the money I’d have to spend on lessons.  It would certainly be different but I don’t know if it would be good different or bad different.

I do have a certain level of skill and talent for this.  I think there is a lot more I can do and learn and grow.  I don’t want to walk away without giving this a fighting chance.  If it doesn’t work and I think I’ve stalled out or started to slide, then we can relook and figure out what the right path is.

I honestly couldn’t tell you whether this is the “right” path or not.  It just feels like one I need to try.

Well, I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of controlling my attitude but I really don’t feel any stronger.  Is it alright to bitterly complain now??  Just kidding.

There are times when change really sucks.


  1. I feel terrible about ‘liking’ this…

    I know I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’ve ever considered moving, I would highly recommend my part of the country. This place has become a Ballroom hotspot, and if you wanted to live here (or even just take a dance vacation here), I would love to show you around. There is no shortage of female instructors here who could work with you on everything from serious competition goals to just learning steps for social dancing, and everything in between.

    Plus, I live near a fairly big city, so I’m sure finding a new job wouldn’t be terrible. Also, we don’t really have winter here, which might be a big point in this area’s favor.

    I hope everything works out for you. This makes me sad, and I’m sure it makes you feel worse. 😦

  2. I am sorry to hear about this, especially as it would be your 3rd (or 4th) instructor change, and that just gets harder as you move up in level. Considering past history, I wish I felt more optimistic about the plan for Owner Guy to teach your lessons with newest girl, but I hope I am wrong and he does follow through with it.

    I do wish you the best of luck! I know from personal experience how hard the franchise system can be.

    1. While I’m trying to be optimistic, I’ve got my share of skepticism about OwnerGuy’s promises based on past history. We’ll just see what happens. Thanks for the support.

  3. I echo your “this sucks” sentiment. And frankly, OwnerGuy better give you a killer deal on those lessons because you’ll basically be helping to train Newest Girl. He should add you to the payroll at this point. 😉 I hope things work out sooner than later.

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