Dorothy the dancer…

We spent last week down in Orlando, visiting Jon’s family for a big celebration.  His grandfather turned 90 years old and his grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.  There was a big party filled with all sorts of relatives in a beautiful garden.  Let me tell you, nothing makes you appreciate your youth more than spending New Year’s Eve with a bunch of octogenarians.

Photo by Melanie Holtsman via Flickr

Photo by Melanie Holtsman via Flickr

Since we were down in Mickeytown, we hit up some parks, but avoided Magic Kingdom because we’d heard the crowds were ridonkulous with the opening of the new Fantasyland.

Lest we let our kids suffer character withdrawal, we compromised by making a reservation at Cape May Cafe for a character breakfast our last morning in town.

Say what you will about buffets, but I love the food here.  Little mini-waffles shaped like Mikey Mouse!  Five different types of egg dishes!  Buttermilk biscuits so rich they’ll give you a coronary!

The kids loved stalking Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy and went nuts every time one of them passed by.  I feel fairly confident that Miss P goosed Donald in a effort to get his attention.

But my favorite part of the experience?  Meeting our waitress.

Dorothy. photo-2This little old lady with a hearty New York accent who bent over backwards giving us refills and letting us know when a character was on his way.

As I got to talking to her, I discovered that she was a retired dancer.  And the former nerd Specialist in me jumped out and started prodding her with all sorts of questions.  Hearing her story. Wishing I could have lived that life.

Working in the stacks of one of the most prestigious dance collections in the world, I came across some pretty amazing people.  Sure, I ran in to some crazies too.  But the older dancers had such fantastic backgrounds.  Some of them came in to volunteer, and once they’d start in on their tales, I couldn’t help but listen.  Even if I’d heard that story a few times already.

The dancers of that generation seem to have had a blast.  There was more work.  Work that took them places.  Places more exotic than the L train to some sketchy loft-turned-studio in Bushwick.

Living here in Ohio, the dance community seems so spread out, so sparse, so disconnected.  I long for that feeling of community.  That satisfaction of working.  And, to some degree, the aches and pains that come with working your body too hard for too long.

One day, I’ll finally be able to let go of this feeling that I’m a shell of a dancer. An imposter.  A fake.  A phoney.  Either I’ll find motivation to jump back in to the studio, or I’ll feel ready to say goodbye.

Whatever happens, whenever that is, I hope one day I’ll come across a stranger 30 years younger than me and find out we have this art form in common.  That she may want to ask me questions about my career.  And that I’ll be able to answer her with a smile on my face, a fond look in my eye, and have the warmth to take a photo with her.

2012 favorites…

Only two more days left in 2012.  I feel like an old fogey when I hear myself utter phrases like “Where did the year go?”

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And where the heck DID this year go?  2012 was a very full year for me, for our family.  Our kids got bigger and bolder. We moved across country and explored new terrain.  I kissed my dance career goodbye.  My thighs have achieved maximum density.

As I look to 2013, I am slowly contemplating some resolutions. Or lifestyle changes.  I haven’t solidified them yet, but the gist at the moment is less junk, more spunk.

In the spirit of reflection, I took a look back at my favorite blog posts from the past year.  Here’s a list of some of the posts I enjoyed writing the most.  The ones that stuck with me.  Perhaps they will with you too!

Top Posts From 2012…

Don’t mess with Mama bear…:  An article made me reevaluate gender roles as parents and made me realize I want my kids to see I’m just as strong and capable as Daddy.

Time out…:  Our first night away from the kids in almost two years didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.

Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up…:  An attempt to de-clutter our cramped home to put on the market.  With small children around.

Bunny hills…:  My ankles and hips still cringe at the though of my first ski experience.  May I never see a ski slope again.

Letting go…:  I don’t want my kids to grow up yet. That includes forcing them to use baby products so I can get off on the smell of Dreft.

Ode to humidity…:  My first foray into Shakespearean ranting.

Adventures in babysitters…:  Do NOT hire this chick to watch your kids.

Pounding the pavement…:  One foot in front of the other.  Moving forward.

Getting a leg up…:  Attempting to navigate my dancing hiatus, one pound at a time.

Quick get away…:  Have you had episodes of G.A.G?

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And to close, I say this:

Move over, 2012.  There’s something more 2013′ier.

What’s been your favorite post on Full of it this year?  What’s been the post you’ve liked writing on your own blog?  Feel free to post your link in the comments. 



Getting a leg up…

Back in the day…

I didn’t think that dancing twice a week really had that much of an impact on my physical condition. I mean, I’ve been dancing for so long that it isn’t really aerobic exercise. In most rehearsals, if we weren’t running the show, there was a lot of down time; sitting around waiting for my part to come up, hanging out in the dressing room while the company ran a piece I wasn’t in; lots of stops and starts.

But it’s been four long months since I’ve danced. It’s the longest hiatus I’ve ever taken. I didn’t even take that long of a break after having my kids. Initially I thought I’d really enjoy giving my body a rest from the pounding it had taken over the years. But now? Man, I miss it.

I miss the physicality of it, the three-dimensional movement through space, the power and strength and flow and energy of dancing. I’ve tried giving myself a barre here at home a couple of times a week, but it sure doesn’t compete with the rigor of class.

Here in Ohio, however, my options are extremely limited. When we moved to Denver from NYC, I thought I was nailing the coffin shut on my dance career, but was pleasantly surprised by how much dance there was in Colorado. Hoping to find the same experience here in Ohio, I’ve been met with the opposite: a stunning realization that there ain’t a whole lot going on.

What I also didn’t expect to miss was the extra calorie burn I didn’t even know I was getting.   Don’t even get me started on how rapidly I’ve been gaining weight. At first I thought maybe I had a thyroid problem, that’s how fast I was packing pounds on. Sure, maybe I need to get on a more consistent pooping schedule, but I haven’t been this big since I was pregnant with the kids. Guess I took those hours of dancing for granted. Gone with my slimmer figure is also my core strength, rotation, and flexibility. It only took two months for my body to shut down and feel old. Like a wheel grinding to a screeching halt.

While I’ll save the emotional toll this has taken for a later post, right now I’m trying to recover my body from the bowels of Couchpotatoville. I know it’s a long slow process, but I’m determined to get back in the game. I’ve started going to the gym again, taking a yoga class once or twice a week from a teacher that gently but firmly pushes me. And I’ve gotten my ass on the elliptical machine.

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The last time I used these evil contraptions cardio machines, when it asked me my age and blinked that “35″ as the magic middle age, I had to press the DOWN button a couple of times to get to my correct age.  Now?  I have to press the UP arrow.  A few times.  Man, that stinks.  At least I still get to press the down arrow for weight, because if I had to pound on the up arrow, the gym would get an shitstorm of obscenities.

Even though I’m trying to get active again, it still doesn’t compare to how my body felt while dancing.  Months ago, I felt strong, vibrant, toned and sturdy.   Now I feel rickety, brittle, and…aged.  It feels a little like starting over, or more like I’m starting from zero.   It’s a hard journey back to feeling strong again, but I’m determined to work on it.  I can’t continue to feel the way I do, it’s not healthy.  Physically or mentally.

Plus, I can’t afford to buy new pants.

What do you do when you’re in a physical rut?  How do you get yourself back on track?

Om my gosh: how yoga might just save me…

I didn’t intend to start the day with a yoga class.  It wasn’t even on my radar.  My plan was to spend enough time on the elliptical machine to break out a sweat and burn enough calories to offset my quota of PopTarts I’d eaten for breakfast.  But walking down the hallway, I ran in to a mother from the kids’ school who roped me in to going to a yoga class with her.  And this yoga class?  It might just be my salvation.  The answer to everything that I’m struggling with right now.  The alternative to Zoloft.

Discounting the yoga that I’d done with P90X (I mean, I love Tony Horton as much as the next guy, but he’s not necessarily B.K.S. Iyengar), the last time I’d taken an organized yoga class was the low-energy prenatal yoga classes I’d taken when pregnant with Miss P.  Before that, it was the slightly-crazy class I attended with a friend in NYC that was so filled with yoga fanatics that I felt insecure and inadequate that I couldn’t even look the teacher in the eye.  And even WAY before that, the last time I’d done yoga regularly was over a decade ago.

So, yeah, it’d been a while.

I was nervous, intimidated, and wrought with all those First Encounter Jitters:  Where do I put my shoes? How should I lay out my mat?  Do I need all that gear?  Am I supposed to be stretching before we begin, or can I just sit here and chat with my friend?  And, God forbid, what if I queef?

We started out with some stretching and I quickly realized I wasn’t dressed for yoga.  I had on a baggy camisole and baggy sweats, and when the room began to get toasty, I was a floppy mess.  Still, the stretching…my God, THE STRETCHING.  My body was eternally grateful for all of those twists and bends, simultaneously cursing me for not stretching more regularly.

Then we started to move through asanas, did some balance poses, some abdominal strengthening, and before I knew it, the yoga class was over.  And, man, did I feel great.  For the first time since we’ve moved here, I felt connected back to my body.  The teacher (also a mom, who had told us she was up most of the night with a croupy kid) kept instilling this mantra (for us? or for her?):  This is for YOU, this is YOUR time.  All that other crap that’s coming in to your head? Drop it.

And I did.

All that breathing, stretching, strengthening, moving, it felt glorious.  Like the missing link.  In that yoga class, I realized how much I miss dancing.  Moving my body in a three-dimensional way.  Feeling grounded.  Feeling home.

And that euphoria?  It lasted for the rest of the day.  What a bonus, right?  I found myself getting less wigged out over every little thing my kids did that might otherwise annoy me.  I didn’t have my usual late-afternoon headache.  And I actually felt good about myself.  How did I forget about yoga?  I knew it was out there, that there were classes at the gym.  Why didn’t I do this sooner?  I’ll tell you why…my stupid mind fed me all sorts of excuses, filled me with fear of the unknown, of what might happen, or of how ridiculous I might look.  I’m so grateful for the mom that talked me in to going with her.  Sometimes all we need is a little push in the right direction.

This yoga class might just be the answer to the loss I feel about not having a dance career anymore.  I knew, deep down inside, that I’d been mourning that aspect of my life, but I don’t think I’ve come to terms with and accepted it just yet.  Yoga might be the gentle hand that leads me over to the other side of my career transition.

As they say at the end of a yoga class, namaste.  Namaste indeed.

Dancing queen…

I had a week off recently from rehearsals, and seeing how wrecked my body feels lately, it was probably needed.  The extra five pounds I gained in the process?  Not so much needed, but tomorrow is another day to get working on it, right?  
I’m not going to lie, my body is feeling the effects of aging lately.  I’m pumping myself full of ibuprofen in the hopes it will help, but what I probably need is some youth serum.   After returning from the week off, my dancing felt rough – like it was hard to get moving.  However, K had some nice comments too, so go figure.  I do think that I spent last week dancing a little less needy, a little less desperate perhaps, and with a bit more, uh, maturity?  I don’t know.  
I haven’t really jumped back on the “slimming down” aspect of things, which I really need to do.   And I’ve been trying to rehab some nagging injuries in the hopes I won’t feel like Igor when I get up from the couch.  But what I also focused on this week was trying to remember what it is I like about dancing.  What is it that makes me want to commit most of my life to this art form?  It’s been an interesting experiment.  I don’t have any answers yet, but I’m enjoying the discovery.
I also managed to scrounge up some recent dance photos.  While not entirely happy with some of them, I like how they motivate me to get back in shape.