Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just Dance!

If you haven't yet heard of dance walking, I suggest you get learned quick like.

This video happened just a couple weeks ago and since then, the amazing Ben Aaron has discovered who the Nameless Dance Walk Guru Master is. His name is Joe. Joe is responsible for an international phenomenon and wasn't even aware of it. He was just minding his own business, dancing down the street because it makes him happy. Now people are dance walking all over the world. Over 19 million people have clicked this video. There are facebook pages popping up everywhere and dance walk videos galore posted on YouTube. Like this one:

They are dancing in the streets of Seattle, my home town. Ahhhh.... No, I don't know them.

Someone else decided to create a Dance Walk Seattle facebook page and organize the first ever group dance walk in Seattle to take place last Saturday, May 26th. Well, I attended but unfortunately, the person didn't show up and if anyone else was there to group dance walk, I didn't see them. Instead, two of my amazing friends and I cranked up the tunes on my iPhone and did a little jig around Westlake Center on our own. It wasn't what I was hoping it would be but that probably had more to do with my disappointment in not having the group I was expecting. Oh well. We walked, we danced, we dance walked.

But wait, there's more.

Accountabilibuddy and I are doing our own organized dance walk on Saturday, June 23rd at 1pm around Green Lake in Seattle. That's right. If you're in or near Seattle and want to join the fun, you should grab your mp3 player and headphones and head to Green Lake for the festivities. After we're done, I'm sure we'll want to crash a nearby bar and have ourselves a victory beer. If you can't make it to Seattle, do your own dance walking around your neighborhood. Try it!

I've also decided to make dance walking my June activity. Seattle is the most beautiful in June so it's the perfect time to get outside and just dance. I won't be posting a calendar of activities because it's unnecessary. It doesn't require any organization or coordination or scheduling or reservations. Just dance! Dance around Green Lake. Dance around West Lake Center. Dance around Pike Place Market. Dance at Myrtle Edwards Park. Dance through Belltown. Who cares when. Who cares where.

Just Dance!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Proof is in my Pudding Thighs

In 2010 I began a journey with the idea that if I was just an active person, my body would naturally reflect my lifestyle and go from fat to fit without having to count calories or join a weight loss community or hire a personal trainer or a nutritionist or an endocrinologist or a neurologist or a psychologist or a hypnotherapist or a naturopath. I've said before that I think my hypothesis was flawed and the proof is in my pudding thighs, not to mention that I have had or still have every single one of those professionals working to help me realize my goal.

Have I succeeded? Nope! Not yet anyway. I'm still overweight and as frustrated as ever. I eat lean proteins, fresh veggies, fruits and berries of every variety. I stay away from baked goods, grains, legumes, sweets, dairy, coffee, and alcohol (for the most part). I have had a regimented exercise schedule for what seems like a decade. And yet, I'm still only about 4lbs under my max weight. If I eat a healthy, nutritious, and a well balanced diet while staying active and all those people with letters after their names have told me that I do all the right things, then why am I still fat?

Now, I don't know because like I said, I'm still overweight and still frustrated but I have recently had a revelation that may hold the answer. Here it is. I have a horrible belief no matter how much I would like to deny it that I will never lose weight. That's right. If I'm totally honest with myself and the world around me, I truly believe that I will never actually succeed. The Bitch in my head says all kinds of nasty things to me. "Honey, you're stuck, deal with it!". "You think you're actually going to succeed this time? Ha! Hahahaha! You funny lady!" NOT! "How many times have you tried and failed? Wait, how many was that? That's what I thought. Gooooooood luck, phfb...!" Seriously, if any other Bitch were to say shit like that to me, I'd tackle her and shove my fist through the back of her throat. Why is it ok for me to say that to me? It's just not acceptable.

One of those PhDs or MDs or specialists I listed above recommended that I read a book called You are Not Your Brain (sarcasm: although I can't understand why). The next day, I ordered the book and began reading it as soon as it arrived in my mailbox. What I found so far is that I'm far more neurotic and screwed up in the head than I ever thought. I mean, I knew I was a wack job. Kinda hard to avoid it when you come from where I've been. But I thought I had overcome the biggest demons already. How wrong I was. I've discovered now that The Bitch in my head is my biggest demon of all.

Apparently, our brains have a nifty little way of tricking us into sabotaging ourselves so that our beliefs are reinforced. If I believe I'm stuck in this fat suit forever, then my brain is going to look for any opportunity or evidence to make sure the belief remains true. Et voila! A fat chick who believes she's stuck being fat forever remains fat. It's a miracle. It's annoying. It's reversible. Hallelujah.

So now I'm learning what those negative beliefs are and what triggers them and where they come from and why. But more importantly, I'm learning how to change them and prove them all wrong starting with this one. That Bitch is going down and she can take my waistline with her.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ballroom Dancing Gear

Dance costume can be just as important as the dance itself. The purpose of a costume in dance isn't just to dress up and look fancy but it is intended to accentuate the dancer's body to illuminate the intricate movements. Dance costume isn't just clothing to a dancer. It's also viewed as art and if selected appropriately, it can communicate the unspoken intentions of the dance and the dancers alike.

The modern world has become far more aware of the costumes for ballroom dancing with each new season of that popular dance reality television show. From what I can find though, there are no hard and fast rules for proper costume for each dance. Costumes should harmonize well with the music and the dance being performed and as long as they don't interfere with or restrict the movements of the dance, it's really up to the dancers themselves to define their costumes.

Soft and flowing waltz ball gown
Of course, the more romantic dances like the waltz and the foxtrot are typically displayed with the man in tails or a modern tuxedo while the lady is wearing a long flowing gown. This style of dress originates from back in the 18th century when ballroom dancing was only done by wealthy high society types who wore layers upon layers of formal garments while dancing. Thankfully it has evolved over time and become far more comfortable but is still intended to communicate affluence.

Dark and seductive tango dress
The Latin dances like the cha-cha, tango, mambo, rumba, samba, etc. are typically enhanced with skimpy sequined ensembles that show every spare inch of the physique possible. This is typically because the movements required are not easily accomplished under the excess fabric of a full length gown. Typically, the Latin dances are more sensual in nature too so of course the costume should reflect the mood and character of the dance. Short, flashy, and sexy should do the trick for the ladies.

This latin costume is on sale, can you believe it?
Shoes should be leather soled for ease of foot steps on the dance floor. Rubber soles should be avoided as they tend to stick to the dance floor and may not only interrupt the flow of the dance but they can also cause injury if you should trip or roll your ankle.
A typical ballroom practice shoe

A typical ballroom competition shoe
My personal favorite, typical swing dance shoes

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ballroom Dancing - Swing

The theme in dance class this week seems to have been swing. Hubby and I went to our private lesson at Arthur Murray and our very friendly teacher informed us that she was going to teach us 3 more dances: Hustle, Tango, Swing. Exciting right? Well, yes if all you want to learn is to move your feet in the right places without taking music, rhythm, turns, or any other topic around what makes dancing fun into consideration. In 30 mins, she spent 10 mins on each basic foot pattern. For example.

In the tango, the basic foot pattern is so simple that I hope you can understand what a waste of 10mins it was. The lead or the man will take 3 forward steps starting with his left followed by a step together. Left, right, left, step together. And the leader or the woman will simply follow so she takes 3 steps back starting with her right foot then step together. Simple. Ridiculously simple. Yet she spent 10 mins on it when she could have easily taught us a simple turn or something else in that time.

Because I don't trust that you understand just how simple it was with my's a video to demonstrate exactly what we did for 10 mins.

That's it! That's it! Seriously! That was IT! I ran out of patience after the first minute.

I really don't even feel it necessary to discuss the hustle because the steps she taught us for that are exactly the same as the simplest version of the single time east coast swing. For the man, it's sway left, sway right, rock step with the left foot. For the woman, it's exactly the same but opposite sides since we're facing one another. I don't know about you but I've seen Saturday Night Fever and what they did doesn't look anything like the east coast swing basic.

This is the hustle:

This is what we learned for the hustle lesson:

West Coast Swing
Then she taught us the West Coast Swing basic. This she actually got relatively correct but with a small variation to the video below. Instead of the triple step demonstrated below, our brilliant instructor at Arthur Murray told us to tap a toe behind us. I'm sure it's not horrifically incorrect or anything but just different.

Now that our private lessons at Arthur Murray are over, I have to say that I'm glad. We still have the one group class we can attend from our introductory offer. I'm sure we will take that group class sometime in the near future though I'm not confident that it will change my opinion of the dance center or their methods. Overall, I wouldn't recommend Arthur Murray unless you have a lot of money to blow and don't really care about learning to do any real dancing anytime soon. At the end of our second private lesson, we were quoted $144 per 40min private lesson with an 8 lesson commitment that can be used at our discretion. Personally, I didn't feel that the two 30mins lessons we got were worth the $60 we paid, but that's just me. Two thumbs down for sure.

Washington Dance Club
Last night, we attended our last group class at Washington Dance Club and all we had was hope after the Arthur Murray disappointment. Well, we were not disappointed again. Our teacher at WA Dance Club, Christa Quackenbush (who is also the owner btw) did a little review of our previous lesson with the waltz. She reviewed all the fun stuff we learned last time which was great because we actually now have enough knowledge to enjoy a real social dance if a waltz song comes on or if we attend a wedding or something like that. Hubby was dancing me all over that ballroom and it was wonderful and fun and I loved every second of it.

Then our fabulous teacher decided to do a bit of swing dancing too. She focused on east coast swing to get us started. More specifically, she focused on single time east coast swing which is the video I displayed above as the lesson we got for the hustle from the other stupid school. But instead of just doing the simple sway right, sway left, rock step and nothing else, she started there but then progressed into actual turns so we can use it to build upon to do real dancing in the real world. And as if that wasn't enough, she also showed us the triple time east coast swing too. See below for all the fun.

This shows the single time and triple time basics in closed position.

This shows the turns and changing places in triple time.

Our group classes at Washington Dance Club are also now over, however, because of the snow last week, we have a coupon to attend a Friday or Sunday night workshop and social dance to make up for the lost class. It is sad that our dance month was interrupted by the snow because we were going to learn the cha-cha last week and didn't get a chance to do that. But! We fully intend to continue going to Washington Dance Club for their Friday night workshops and dances and maybe even sign up for other lessons so we can learn more than we did this month. I love how they focus their classes. Each class is dedicated to one particular dance so you have the time and attention to learn more than just the basic footwork and can actually practice and apply what you learned at the dances. Brilliant! We haven't seen the last of this dance school even though there are others out there that can be considered as well.

If you have taken a dance lesson or two and decided it wasn't for you, I would highly recommend you give it another try at a different school or with a different teacher because not all classes, teachers, schools are created equal. I would have given up after the Arthur Murray experience too if I hadn't already had positive experiences before going there to know that learning to ballroom dance can be and is extremely fun, especially after you make it past the uneventful basic footwork. I really am grateful that I signed us up for the Washington Dance Club too because I would have been severely disappointed if I relied on the one negative experience.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ballroom Dancing Week 4

Just a quick note to demonstrate that I haven't forgotten about my commitment and I'm still doing the damn thing.

This month has gone by much faster than I expected. Last week was pretty much a bust because of the snowmageddon that took place in my area but not all was lost. Nope. Our Arthur Murray lessons were rescheduled to today. And the Washington Dance Club lesson was cancelled and not rescheduled but...the owner is giving us a coupon for a Friday night workshop and the social dance that follows so we can still take advantage of that.

There you have it. I'll post more about tonight's lesson, tomorrow's group class, dance costumes, etc.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Day

Well, it appears as if Seattle and the Puget Sound area where I live and work and dance has been hit with the great winter storm of 2012 or so the news people are calling it. Much of the surrounding Seattle area has received 6-8 inches of snow in the past couple days so the world as I know it has come to a grinding halt. Roads are icy and covered in slush, trees are down from the weight of the freezing rain and snow, power is out all over. It's complete chaos. Not really but we're not used to this type of weather up here in the rainy northwest so when we get any trace of snow, we freak out.

You know what the interesting thing about this week is?

It's that just last week I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and afraid that I had yet again over-committed myself to activities or obligations after firmly resolving to abstain from doing that to myself any more. I was thinking that perhaps my schedule of happy, healthy, wonderful, fun things was a bit  more than it needed to be. Then blamo!, we get the great winter storm of 2012 which covered all appointments and obligations in a layer of icy snow.

All dance classes have been cancelled this week either because most of the students have communicated their unwillingness or inability to attend due to the conditions or the school has closed to keep the staff and students from braving the icy roads. Either way, there is no ballroom dancing this week.

My 3 personal trainer appointments every week? Cancelled.
My physical therapy appointment for the stupid chronic back pain? Cancelled.
Arthur Murray dance classes? Cancelled
Washington Dance Club class? Cancelled
French class? Cancelled
Guitar lesson? Cancelled
Every work meeting on my calendar? Cancelled

Perhaps the universe decided that I may have had the right idea about having too much to do and decided to help me out with it, A.

So you know what I've been doing instead of all those things? I've spent the week working from home in the comfort of my jammies and fuzzy slippers. And since I've had so much time on my hands (after I'm done with all my work of course) this week, I decided to put my hands to a different kind of work. I've been knitting. Yes, that's right, I knit. My grandmother taught me just a couple months ago. Since then, I've made a dish cloth that is less than attractive, 3 fuzzy scarves, and now I've decided to try to make a slouchy beret hat by knitting in the round. After starting and pulling it out 5 times, I think I finally figured it out on the 6th try.

And for my activity? I've been walking in the snow. One of my favorite things to do is to take walks in the rain and even better in the snow. I wait until the sun goes down, then I bundle up and head outside for a nice long walk. It's best when it's dark outside because you get that perpetual dusk feeling with all the street lights and the moonlight reflecting off the snow so it's very comforting on the eyes. Plus, after the sun has gone down, people are typically home and settled in so there is no hustle nor bustle out and about. Perfect calm. Also, the snow deadens the white noise of the world so you get a sweet silence that you can't really get any other way.

Last night, hubby and I ventured out for a long walk. 2 hours later we returned home chilled and happy. We changed clothes and warmed ourselves on a nice hot cup of tea by the fire. I can't think of a better way to spend the evening after a snow day.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Food Allergies

How are you bowel movements?
Are you regular?
Do you feel complete when you hehum move your bowels?

Those questions were only a few among what I had to answer not once or twice but three times recently. My nutritionist was the first to pose such questions. Then it was my magical Chinese acupuncturist followed by my naturopath.

I was happy to answer all the questions in the affirmative as all is normal in my life. But that's not something you want to know nor is it something I want to share.

In the spirit of integrative whole person naturopathic medical practices, my doc proposed that I submit my blood for a food allergy test. I've been extremely agreeable when it comes to my healthcare lately so of course I agreed to give up more blood even though I really didn't see the point of testing ME for any food allergies. I have never been allergic to anything in my life. But, according to my nutritionist, people can have a sensitivity to different foods even if it isn't obvious, if you know what I mean. And sometimes those sensitivities can impact your ability to lose weight. What, what?

So, I agreed and after a few extra pokes of the itty bitty butterfly needle because my veins are just that difficult, my awesome doc collected enough blood and sent it off to be tested. He told me it would take a couple weeks to get the results. That was just before Christmas.

Well, the results are now in. Interestingly enough, apparently I have or have had an allergic reaction to milk, beef, and lamb in particular. The results also stated that I show a sensitivity to all dairy, whole wheat, and gluten products. The news came as a surprise to me. I wouldn't think I have any of those things going on at all just by judging how I feel. But, doc suggested that I try cutting some of those things out of my diet for a few weeks then introduce them again. If I notice after introducing them that I feel sick or lethargic at all, I will know that the sensitivity is currently present.

I very rarely eat beef or lamb so those will be simple to eliminate from my diet. The problem will be the dairy products. I love cheese. I have milk in my oatmeal every day. I rely on plain yogurt as a staple snack.

Before even starting to reduce my dairy consumption I'm already feeling a void. But I've decided that I will give it a try. And I can still have goat and feta cheese so that's good news. I bought some soy milk and some almond milk to try.

I'm still not of the mind to remove gluten from my diet after reading about all the problems that can cause but I am willing to reduce the amount of gluten rich foods I consume. I've become willing to do just about anything in my power to tune up my immune system and be the healthiest person I can so we shall see how this dietary change will improve circumstances.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ballroom Dancing - The Waltz

Well here we are, in the second week of the month dedicated to ballroom dancing. I'm loving it!

Unfortunately, the week started a little slow. I wasn't feeling well on Tuesday or Wednesday so not only did I have to miss my first day back to French class, but I also had to reschedule our dance lesson at Arthur Murray. Sad.

I was feeling better yesterday though so Hubby and I joined the sea of steel coffins inching down the road toward our soon to be new neighborhood to attend our second of four group dance classes at Washington Dance Club. Traffic was horrendous but we eventually made it even if ridiculously late.

Our tardiness didn't seem to be much of a bother though because they spent the first few minutes reviewing what we had learned in class last week. We got there just in time to practice a bit of it before we started our new lesson of the week.

The Waltz

I love the waltz. It's just so romantic. If you want a dance to make you feel like a princess, the waltz is sure to deliver. Even after nearly drowning in the stress and tension of the day and still in my work clothes, I felt whisked away in the arms of my true love. Sort of like Beauty and the Beast, only Hubby is nothing like the Beast. Much less hair.

The waltz is a simple box step set to an 3 even counts. 1, 2, 3, slow, slow, slow.

Step forward on the left foot, step right with the right foot, pull left foot to meet the right, step back with the right foot, step left with the left foot, pull right foot to met the left. Rinse and repeat. See? Simple. All pictures represent the leader's foot steps. The follower gets to just follow them so when the leader steps forward with his left foot, the follower steps back with their right foot, etc

We also learned to do 1/4 turns to the left (leader's left, follower's right). This picture of the quarter turn is for the leader's steps.  

We also learned to travel the waltz so we learned to move it forward and back again. Step forward with the left, right with the right, pull the left foot into the right to step together. Then instead of back with the right foot like we did in the basic box step, we step forward again using the right foot, left with the left foot, and pull the right foot into the left to step together. This moves the dance forward (leader's forward, follower's backward). In order to move it back, you just do the same thing but the leader takes their first step back instead.

Ok then. Got it? No? Personally, I never really understood how people learned to dance by following the graphed foot steps's about a video or two to demonstrate.

The best videos I could find to demonstrate what I learned do not allow me to embed can simply click on each link to be redirected to view them.

How to Waltz - Basic Pattern
How to Waltz - Posture and Framing
How to Waltz - Swing and Sway
How to Waltz - Rise and Fall

Next week, I get to look forward to our next private lesson with Arthur Murray, a group lesson with Arthur Murray, and another group lesson at Washington Dance Club. Fun stuff.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maybe Just Maybe

I just met with my nutritionist last night. The first thing she asked me is what I found out about my thyroid test. I answered with parrot talk from my awesome new naturopath and the endocrinologist I saw as well. A slew of TSH counts and antibodies found fell from my mouth. After listening patiently, she said, "it's Hashimoto's disease isn't it?". Of course I confirmed and we concluded the diagnostic discussion with a high five over having something in common.

Now that's what took me by surprise. I had mentioned my plan to get my thyroid tested to her previously and not once did she inform me that she also has thyroid problems. Nor would I think that she does because she's thin, petite, fit, normal. Well after the tiny bit of shock wore off, I realized that if she has Hashimoto's disease and can be thin, petite, fit, and normal...perhaps there's hope for me too.

Maybe just maybe once my thyroid levels are regulated, this weight will start coming off like it should.

Maybe just maybe I don't have to keep fighting and struggling for seemingly no results.

Maybe just maybe I can start seeing results.

Maybe just maybe resolving this issue will finally allow me to breathe easy and stop worrying.

Maybe just maybe it means that I'm not and haven't done anything wrong.

Oh the relief if this really does prove to be a solution.

Funny? Every time I say "Hashimoto's Disease", it makes me think of this song...thanks to Hubby.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I like musicals

I saw my first ever Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie. Swing Time. I love the classics. Classic music, classic books, classical guitar, yes please. I love it all. I wasn't so sure if I would feel the same about the movies though. I'm not a huge movie buff. I could care less who wrote or directed or who acted in what film. That type of information has just never appealed to me at all. But, I have to say that I do always love musicals and I wasn't disappointed by Swing Time. It was cute, it was fun, it was entertaining, and it tried to be funny. No wonder those two became as famous as they did. I just can't believe it took me as long as it has to finally see one of their films. I can't wait until the next one comes this week.

Watching Swing Time got me in the old timey musical mood so I decided to watch Hello Dolly again too. Yes, again.

I love Hello Dolly so much that I used to sing the song to my dog. Her name was Polly.

Heeeelllllooooooo Polly, well heeeelllloooooo Polly.....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ballroom Dancing - Foxtrot Fundamentals

Last night was my first group dance class at the Washington Dance Club in Seattle. There is definitely a difference between what we did on Wednesday and what we did in Seattle last night.

Wednesday night at Arthur Murray, we had a 30min private lesson where we had one instructor's undivided attention to walk us through the basics of 5 dances. Last night was a 45min group class where one instructor walked 5 couples through the basics of one dance, the foxtrot.

The instructor began by teaching us to walk heel-toe and to sort of drag our feet between steps. She also went through other basic fundamentals of dancing with a partner.
  • Always keep your feet in line with your knees, in line with your hips, in line with your shoulders
  • The leader should always keep their frame (their arm structure) slightly to the right of their body to avoid stepping on each other's toes or bumping knees
  • The follower should always keep a "toned" frame so they can feel where the lead wants them to go
  • The leader should always lead off on their left foot
This video is slightly long and dull but it contains all the fundamentals we learned last night.

After the instructor had us practice the basic walk, she then introduced the first foot pattern for the foxtrot basic. I provided a video in yesterday's post that I think covered this information well. In fact, I felt far more confident in my understanding about the foxtrot basic after watching that video then even more so after last night's class. Perhaps I simply misunderstood the guidance from our first instructor at Arthur Murray. We shall see next week when we see her again.

We practiced the foxtrot basic while in ballroom position (meaning in the arms of your partner) a dozen times. Walk, walk, step together. Walk, walk, step together. Slow, slow, quick, quick. Slow, slow, quick, quick. The problem with only knowing the forward basic though is that you simply end up moving further and further into the opposite corner of the room and that can't work. Hubby and I ended up in the little kitchen area several times. Then it came time to learn to take that back the other direction. Simple. Instead of the leader walking forward, he just walks backward and the follower follows. Back, back, step together. Back, back, step together. 

That means it must be time to learn another pattern that can get us out of the corner. Next we learned the rock step and the 1/4 turn.

Ok, now that we got a few basics was time to practice. Cool right? Well, yes and no. Practice is always a good thing but in my opinion it's not fun when I have to practice with someone I don't know, never met, and who can't figure out which foot is his left and which one is his right. Yup. You guessed it. She had us switch partners a couple times so every woman got a chance to dance with every man in class, except for the couple that refused to switch partners. I'm thinking they had the right idea.

Pros of switching partners:
  1. You get a chance to experience what it's like with someone who you can't predict their movements
  2. If you're a follower, it's a good thing to learn how to just let go and trust what the leader is doing and that's easier to do with your own husband or boyfriend or whatever
  3. If you're a leader, it's a good thing to learn to lead all the time and not let the follower lead you which happens more times than not in a committed relationship
  4. "Dancing" with 4 other men last night made me appreciate how fantastic my husband is at leading and how much I really do love dancing with him
Cons of switching partners:
  1. One of the primary reasons I like ballroom dancing with my husband is that it really makes me feel closer to him and if I'm dancing with someone else then I completely miss out on that
  2. I don't ever dance with other men so there is no need to learn to do it
  3. I don't feel like I can improve if I'm constantly having to adjust to my new partner's abilities (which last night and in my past experience were significantly retarded - their abilities that is)
  4. I have a nice roomy personal bubble and for strangers, it's considerably larger so asking me to allow them to touch me let alone come within arms length of me is asking me to compromise my thanks
Was it a great workout? Not at all. But it was just the basics. Perhaps when we get into more actual dancing, it'll be better exercise but for now, it was barely active. Fun and interesting for sure but a good workout it was not.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ballroom Dancing - Just the basics

One class down, and Hubby and I learned 5 dances. Amazed? So was I when the dance instructor informed us of this little factoid. Here's how it went.

Last night was our first ballroom dance lesson at Arthur Murray. They had us fill out a little paperwork to tell them why we want to learn to dance and what benefits we're interested in deriving from it. They also give you a list of dances they teach and ask you which ones you're interested in learning. We signed our life away and off we went with the instructor.

She asked us about our experience with ballroom dancing. Since we had taken a few classes with the Boeing Dance Club years ago, we had some basic experience, none of which either of us could remember. That dance club was awesome too, until we got kicked out. Neither of us work for Boeing so they decided to close it to anyone not employed at Boeing. That was a sad day.

Once she got us on one of the 3 dance floors they have in the building, she started with the Waltz basic. In my opinion, the waltz is the most beautiful dance. I get the below image in my head when I think of the waltz. Deborah Kerr in The King and I. It wasn't the waltz they danced while she wore this dress though, I think it was the polka they danced. The polka is not pretty at all but I'm sure it would be fun and tiring.

Anyhoo, the waltz basic is just a simple box step. Here's a video to show you how the basic goes for a man. The woman does the same step but while the man steps forward, the woman steps back and vise versa so both people are moving together.

No matter how clumsy you may be, I think it's impossible to feel anything less than beautiful when you are doing this movement. How do I know? Well, last night I had to rush to class right after a session with my personal trainer. I was still sweating all through the dance lesson. Can't get much less beautiful feeling than that and I still felt pretty even doing just the basic in my husband's arms.

The next basic she taught us was for the rumba. The rumba is known as the slow and sensual latin dance. The rumba basic goes like this:

I like Robbie and his red shoes. Our teacher didn't teach us all the body movement that he emphasizes in the video though. She just taught us the basic foot movements while dancing together. I feel robbed now after seeing how fabulous he is in the video. She did tell us something interesting that he didn't though. The rumba basic is very similar to the foxtrot basic. One difference between the two is that the rumba and most latin dances are intended to stay in one place on the dance floor while the foxtrot moves beautifully across the floor.

The foxtrot was the next basic we learned. It's similar to the rumba in the quick-quick-slow, quick-quick-slow part of it. But as I mentioned above, the foxtrot can easily move across the floor. It is also faster and a tad more bouncy than the slow sensual rumba. Watch. I'm thinking our teacher might have taught us something incorrectly because that basic was nothing like the rumba. Good thing I have another class at a different dance school tonight where I can ask questions of someone new.

I think I'll wrap this post up here and save the swing and the hustle for tomorrow.

Happy Dancing....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Balltap Danceskating

In preparing for this month of ballroom fun, I decided to turn to Hollywood for some much needed inspiration. On my netflix cue is a few of the many Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films.

Swing Time is about a gambling man who ditches his fiance to dance with Ginger. 

Um.....ROLLER SKATES! That's all I have to say about Shall We Dance. How can you not love it?

Only in the classics can you find song a dance numbers combined with crossing the line of doctor patient confidentiality.  

Mistaken identity? No problem. Let's dance anyway.

 We've all heard of or seen or watched without fail all the Dancing With the Stars seasons so we all pretty much know what ballroom dancing is. The big difference I see between what we get on the modern television show compared to the classic films in terms of dancing goes is that Fred and Ginger don't really seem to be ballroom dancing much at all. They do some strange and enticing mix of tap and ballroom with far more elegant costume.

I wanna know where the Fred and Ginger school of balltap dancing is and how I sign up for that!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2012 - Ballroom Dancing

You may have guessed it from the lovely picture above or you may have already read my intentions in a previous post. Either way, I have decided to kick the new year off right with the beautiful drama of ballroom dancing. That will be my focus for the entire month. Ok, lets be real here. I can't focus on just one thing. I don't work like that. So, I will direct part of my attention to ballroom dancing while still balancing all the other things on my priority list.

Hubby and I have taken a couple classes before but it was years ago. We have often talked about doing it again but without any real resolve to make it happen. For Christmas, he decided to make it happen. Lucky me! One of my gifts from him was a gift certificate to Arthur Murray Dance Studios. He got us an introductory offer that includes 2 private lessons, 1 group lesson, and entrance to a dance where we can practice our moves.

I thought about it and realized that 3 short lessons weren't going to be enough to get a real taste of such an in depth and intricate activity as ballroom dancing. People spend years perfecting one dance and there are dozens that fall into the vast category. No, 3 little lessons were definitely not going to be enough, fabulous as it was of hubby to take the first step.

I did a bit of research and found another option that I think will work wonderfully. At Arthur Murray, we will get evaluated and be given specific advice for how the two of us can dance together in general while learning some of the basic steps and such. Then we will go to another dance school I found in Seattle called Washington Dance Club where we will learn to Waltz, Foxtrot, Swing, and Cha Cha.

We will not have enough time to perfect anything I'm sure but at least we'll get a taste of a few of the different dances so we can decide if it's something we want to continue to do together.

Below is my calendar of activities for January. You can also view all my activity calendars by clicking on the Activity Calendars tab above. I highly doubt I will be successful in doing every one of those activities every day but it's something.

January 28th is a winter dance FEST where we can put all of our hard work and lessons to the test on the dance floor. Looking forward to that!

Sunday guitar lessons are back
Tuesday French classes are back too

Happy New Year

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I Wanna - Part 2

I Wanna...Relax. Chill out. Be more easy going, less stressed out. LESS STRESS! Stress has probably been my biggest problem throughout my life. I've been stressed out since I can remember. I was 7 years old when I first remember feeling stressed out and it's been pretty constant since then. For the past few months, I've been focusing all of my attention on stress management. I even have a little biofeedback device to tell me when I'm in a relaxed state because I can't even recognize it on my own. I read, I write, I play my guitar, I sleep, I exercise, I have bubble Fridays, I learned to knit. I want to learn to walk slower, and in the rain. I want to play more. I want to day dream more. I'm learning and will continue throughout the rest of the year and probably the rest of my life.

I Wanna...Write. Well, blogging will take care of some of that. But I want more than that. Some of the happiest days I had last year were spent writing essays for a book that is being written my Suzette Standring. The great and ominous "They" say that if you want to know what you're meant to do with your life, you should ask yourself what you choose to do when you have no other obligations. Or you can ask yourself what you think about when you're brushing your teeth. For me, it's writing. I read books or journal when I have nothing else going on. And when I'm brushing my teeth, I'm running through all the ideas I have for things I could write. But do I write? No. Why? Because I'm an emotional basket case who has tortured myself into paralysis from doing what I love to do. I did the same thing with playing my guitar. Well I'm done. Done allowing that bitch in my head to steal my joy.

I Wanna...Speak French. Hubby and I took French classes all through 2011 to prepare for our big vacation to/around France. We studied and studied and practiced and got all ready. We went to France and spoke mostly French the whole time we were there. Then we got home and haven't spoken a word of it since. Ugh. All that work to just come home and lose it all? I don't think so. We have signed up for the next level French class starting on January 10th. French 4 here we come. And our wonderful French friend is super excited to help us read all the children's books we bought in the beautiful ancient bookstores I found in Lyon and Paris. Parlez vous Francais? Oui oui.

I Wanna...Donate. Yes, I wanna give money to charities. I'd also like to give time too but I'm already running short on that with all my big plans for the new year. Originally, I was thinking I would like to volunteer for a playhouse. I love seeing plays and musicals. One of my favorite things to do. And there are opportunities but they all ask for a long term commitment and I just don't know that I can do that right now. So, I'm going to pick a charity and Hubby is going to pick one and we'll start giving our money away. The nice thing about it is that both of our companies do a match so if we give, we make our companies give too. I've given lots of money and time to the breast cancer people. I'm done with them. I'm trying to decide between the MS Society or the Humane Society. Maybe both. Another benefit of donating? "They" say that people who give money to charities tend to become more wealthy than people who don't give. Win, win!

I Wanna...Save. While we're on the money subject---. I've always been a saver so it's not a huge stretch for me. I'm a planner through and through so saving is like second nature. But I do also love expensive shoes. This year, Hubby and I have vowed to simplify our already uncomplicated existence and just sock all of our excess money into savings so we can have and keep a little rainy day fund. Who knows, maybe I'll want to quit my job and be a struggling writer. Or maybe he'll get burnt out and need to run away for a few months. Then what would we do? We'll have the rainy day fund. I have a friend who calls it her "f&ck you fund" because if she feels like flipping her boss the finger and walking out the door, she can. Brilliant!

I Wanna...Do it NOW. I want to stop procrastinating. I'm not a huge procrastinator to begin with but I do tend to put some things off. Another thing I do pretty regularly is attach the "some day" statement to the end of a desire. I would love to write, some day. I would love to go sky diving, some day. I would love to learn to ride a motorcycle, some day. I would love to be fluent in a foreign language, some day. I would love to travel more, some day. Well, some day never comes if you don't sometimes make some day today. I started doing this in my own life a couple years ago and I'm getting better. I'm a work in progress. But I have learned to ride a motorcycle, I have been learning to speak French, I have travelled to some amazing places. Life is short and you never know when the sky will fall so you might as well live for today. Today, I'm writing because it makes me happy. Today, I'm playing my guitar because it makes me happy. Today, I'm going to hang out in a stinky old used bookstore because those are my favorite. If I want miracles in my life, I have to learn to act on my inspired thoughts when I have them or the enthusiasm will die and the magic will disappear. I don't want to be left wondering what could have been just because I was lazy or afraid to find out NOW.

Friday, December 30, 2011

I Wanna - Part 1

This year, instead of making firm "resolutions" to state that I must accomplish such and such by a particular date to consider myself a success...I've decided to just focus my attention on the things that I want to do.

What do I want?

I Wanna... Clean house. I wanna go through everything I own and sort, label, organize, and toss whatever I haven't used in a year, forgot I had, or doesn't fit me right now. One reason I've decided to put this on my Wanna List this year is because there's just something refreshing about cleaning out the old. I love the feeling I get when I go through my closet and pull out things that I've felt the need to keep for years because of nostalgic reasons or for the hope that one day I'll fit into it again. The other reason I have put this on my Wanna List this year is because of the next wanna.

I Wanna... Move. I have lived in the suburbs for over a dozen years and it has never fit me, not for a second. I'm a city girl through and through. I belong in the city. For the past several years, hubby and I have talked about moving back downtown and we are finally, FINALLY on the same page. We are going to be moving in March or April to a condo in the sky. "Well good morning doorman, what lovely weather today." We currently live in a house so when we move, we'll be scaling down which is great motivation for cleaning house. Hallelujah! Hear the angels sing.

I Wanna... Lose weight. But doesn't everyone want that? I know I'm not original and it ain't the first time that wanna has made it on my list. Hopefully it's the last! I've struggled with my weight for years but now I am better armed with more info about the inner workings of my body so hopefully it helps resolve the weight loss problem. The blogging, working with a personal trainer, watching what I eat, vitamins, thyroid replacement, good sleep, drinking lots of water, and monthly activity shuffle should also help a bit too.

I Wanna... Play Classical Guitar. Yes, I love my guitar. Yes, I've taken lessons before. Yes, I quit taking those lessons a couple years ago because I was being mean to myself. Life has recently provided me a little perspective though and I'm ready to slap that inner bitch in the face and tell her to shut the F#$% up so I can once again enjoy learning to play the beautiful music I love on the instrument I love. I already contacted my old guitar instructor and am scheduled to start lessons again on January 8th.

I Wanna... Spread joy. I know, I know, so very vague. The thought hit me recently that I just don't do a lot for others. Yes, I'm generous and thoughtful and all that stuff but I don't feel like I contribute much to the happiness or joy of others. Instead, I think I'm more of a negative Nancy sucking the joy from the room if ever I'm given the opportunity. Why? Because I have always found sarcasm and biting wit to be funny. Funny to me, yes. But I never stopped to consider what I was taking from others by being that way, until now. So I want to start being nicer to people. I want to be more considerate. When someone wants to merge, slow down to make room for them. When someone goes up to a grocery line the same time I do, let them go first. Smile at people. Say "good morning". Doing those things doesn't take anything from me so why not just do them to give to someone else. I already got the ball rolling on this too. I sent out 20 blank note cards to 20 random people I blindly chose from the white pages to wish them happiness and prosperity. No signature, no return address. One stranger sending good wishes to another. Hopefully it made 20 people smile even if for just a moment.

I have more wannas coming in Part 2. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolution Schmesolution

Every year I make resolutions and every year I review them to see that I haven't really accomplished any of them as I had previously defined. Then I take a moment to throw a mini pity party for myself before I realize just how much I accomplished through the year that may not have been on my new years resolution list.

Example #1- One of my resolutions for 2011 was to finally get this extra weight off. Here I am at the end of the year and I'm 9lbs heavier than I was on January 1st. Total failure? Not exactly. I have been doing pretty rigorous weight training and I'm told that I have built a substantial amount of muscle which could explain some of the gain. Plus, health isn't just all about the scale either. I have maintained a consistent exercise regimen throughout the year even with the sky falling all around me.

Example #2 - Another goal for 2011 was to have a significant amount of money in savings but I'm no where near that balance. Again, failure? No way! I was still able to save more than I had in previous years and take a dream vacation to France and I enjoyed going out with friends and fun activities with my nephews. Success!

Example #3 - I had a goal of getting my dog into agility training in 2011. I did NOT do any agility training with her though. That seems pretty cut and dry as a failure. But knowing the dog she was at the beginning of the year and how she is now shows me that I have successfully helped her through her psycho fears so she can be a normal dog. So what if I didn't pursue the agility course for her. She's no longer deathly afraid of everything and she can be a happy dog. That's success in my book.

I've weighed in on the new years resolution debate before (Resolutions, Goal Setting) and little came of it so I'm not concocting any master plans this year. Instead, I'm just going to give a simple list of what I've been thinking of putting on my new years resolutions list. Of course the following items don't meet the requirements of appropriate goal setting and they're mostly vague but I don't care this year. I'm just writing down what makes me happy and I'll go from there.

Clean house (organize, label, sort, toss)
Lose 50lbs
Spread joy
Speak French
Do it NOW
Be nice

I'll elaborate on them and will also likely revise the list as time goes by but at least it's an idea and it's in writing. Actually, I'll elaborate on one of them right now.

I've totally slacked on the blogging in the past few months, for very good reason. Regardless, I've decided to reinstate the monthly activity list and maybe even the voting feature if I can figure out this new stupid Blogger interface. When I started blogging back in 2009, I did so because I love to write, I wanted to start "journaling", and I wanted the accountability and support network that comes from blogging as I figured out how to remove the couch fabric from my ass. It was a brilliant plan and it worked well for a long time. was fun. Very important! So I'm doing it again. Blogging regularly and choosing a different activity to dedicate myself to each month.

January. January is going to be dedicated to.....ballroom dancing. Woohoo! Stay tuned for more info. I'll have my activity calendar posted and I'll let you all know my plan so you can watch, point, and laugh at me as I stumble my way through the month.

And just for fun.....other bloggers and their take on resolutions:
Happiness Project Resolution Questions
Endurance isn't Only Physical Resolutions
Helen doing a 180 - To Not Sucking

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Struggling to get the taste of 2011 out of my mouth, all I have is hope for the future.

As I sit here running the memories through my mind of the last 360 days, I realize that this year has been one of the most challenging of my entire life, although nothing can compare to 1989. Puberty was a bitch! I'll just leave it at that.

2011 in the world of Salina has challenged everything I believe, everything I thought I knew about myself, my future, my friends, my family, my health, my priorities. This blog started as a weight loss journey under the concept that if I choose to just live an active lifestyle, my body will naturally reflect my choices and shed the excess weight. As the year comes to a close, I'm forced to pick up that measuring stick and look at where I've been so I can make a plan for where I want to go.

I started the year at 167 lbs. A hop, skip, and a KO later, here I am on December 28th and the scale reports 176 lbs. Was I perfect? Apparently not, but perfection is not a prerequisite for progress. I have gained 9 lbs over the last year despite:
  1. all the food tracking on sparkpeople,
  2. exercising 5days per week,
  3. working with a nutritionist,
  4. working with a personal trainer,
  5. having the world's best accountabilibuddy,
  6. taking vitamins,
  7. drinking 60oz of water every day,
  8. sleeping 8hrs every night,
  9. journaling every day,
  10. taking a 3 week long dream vacation to France
So what happened.....again? Stress! Stress! Stress! Oh and a couple medical situations. The more important of the two is a disease called Hashimoto's Disease. You can read about it at the link provided but basically my immune system is attacking my thyroid gland so it has to work harder and harder to process enough thyroid hormone, which it's not doing so well. It's easily treated with thyroid replacement though. Time will tell how it impacts my weight loss efforts.

Stress is the primary suspected culprit. I'm still undecided about disclosing to the internet what exactly has happened but for now I will say that I have had a medical situation rock my world for the better part of 2011. In addition to that and Hashimoto's, my husband and I had to deal with a significant death in our family. No wait, two deaths. Our dog died this year too. Sweet Pollyanna!

RIP My Sweet Girl!

I think time has shown that my hypothesis was flawed. If I live an active lifestyle, my body won't necessarily reflect those choices and shed extra weight. Unfortunately, I have found that there is more to the equation than that. Do I have the answers? No freakin' clue! Perhaps I do but I haven't yet figured out how to implement them in my life.

I don't see my "project" if you want to call it that as a complete failure over the past few years though. I have successfully built a life that I love and friendships that have saved my sanity more than a few times. Once upon a time, I considered myself a couch potato but today that is no longer true. Even with challenges in my life, I'm living active and actively living. I have not and will not allow a diagnosis, a disability, a death, or any other challenge life decides to throw at me keep me from living the kind of life I want and deserve. I just get to redefine the path I suppose.

Mother nature spontaneously sets fire to her beautiful work to clear the debris and make way for new growth. Perhaps that's exactly what she has done in my life this year too. All I have now is hope for a better future no matter what it brings.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Treadmill Dancing

Don't forget to have fun during your holiday workouts!

Thanks to C for sharing the music video with me.

Dear Nutbar on the Treadmill, you are my hero!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My French - Pictures Part 4 (Paris)

Bonjour Chateau Versailles

Golden Gate
The Hall of Mirrors

Queen's Bedroom

Marie Antoinette

Just being a tourist

Orange trees

Orange trees

Chateau from the Grand Canal

Fountain with the Grand Canal behind

On the way to Marie Antoinette's

Just Beautiful

Just Beautiful
Vegetables, yum

Bonjour Paris

What a beautiful day!

Notre Dame

Because I LOVE used book stores....but.....I was disappointed to not find one book in French

Arc de Triomphe

Proof that Victor Hugo was correct in his statement that "to loaf is Parisien"

Palais Garnier (Phantom of the Opera site)

Palais Garnier where we saw Psyche

Palais Garnier and the famous chandelier




Psyche and Cupid's kiss

Mary Magdalene

Eiffel Tower

View from the top

View from the top with a shaddow

My feet hurt and....what a beautiful sunset

Sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower

Bonne Nuit

And we managed to get back down just in time for the show

Thank you France. We had a fabulous time and can't wait to return.

Au Revoir France