Monday, October 29, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Monday

So, here I am typing away on the Surface RT that my sister played a part in producing and contemplating my failing eyesight.

I have cataracts in both eyes and they have deteriorated exponentially over the past few months. The condition itself is easily corrected by a surgical procedure that replaces the clouding lenses with some super cool new stuff J My complication is that I also have a condition called uveitis which is essentially an infection In my eye. Basically, my white blood cells are acting as if I had an infection in my body that needs to be taken care of. Until that dies down, it’s too risky to have the surgery.

  My vision is now cloudy at best. When there is enough light, I can function well enough, even though it feels like I have film over my eyes all the time. In the dark it’s a different matter – the world around me becomes a blur. When the summer light was still in full force it really wasn’t so bad but now that the days are getting shorter and the quality of light is changing to fall/winter, I am even more acutely aware of my failing vision.

Rather than belabor what I’m losing, I’m doing my best to focus on what I can do. It’s difficult since your sight is unavoidable – the minute you wake up and open your eyes – there it is. I am thankful that I still have sight and that the condition is correctable. I only want to imagine more dire circumstances and focus on looking forward to getting new lenses in my eyes.

I can still dance, I can still read, I can still type on a computer and share my thoughts.

My friends and family have been great – some are worried for me, some are helping me by driving me places and checking in on me when I need to get somewhere. I even had my niece helping me walk down a dark street at night – she held my hand and just said “I’ll get you to the car.” There’s a lot to be grateful for so I’m spending all my energies on that and redirecting my worried, irritated and frustrated thoughts where I can. I’m almost there – the infection seems to have subsided now and it’s a matter of decreasing the dosage of steroid drops that are keeping it at bay. I see the doctor again in a week and am hoping for the best possible outcome – the scheduling of my cataract surgery.

My days are generally lazy – I’m working on that too. I’d like to be more fit conscious – so I’m taking small steps and trying not to fall back to my bed too much. As it turns out I can do a lot from bed: work on the computer, read, watch tv and knit or crochet, work on some beading, edit pictures… when the days are getting nippier, that “snuggle under the covers” instinct takes over.

I also feel like I’m waiting for something to “bust me out”. I know that this thing is really me but still – I’m in a strange holding pattern. I think my eyesight has something to do with it but it’s more than that – I’m just happy to be doing nothing much for now.

I haven’t been entirely idle though. I’ve been teaching a new dance and doing what I can to bring experienced and great instructors here to Seattle to help everyone grow and learn. That’s been very rewarding in so many ways and I hope to expand it to sustain a living… but I’ll write more about that another time.

I’ve also had more time to spend with my niece and nephew: such bundles of joy, curiosity and love. I’m quite happy to hang out with them as they develop their views on the world around them, find joy in the silliest things and laugh out loud with abandon. Seeing the world through their eyes is always so refreshing and uplifting. How else can a game of sling shot underwear get invented? I know families don’t always get along this well and I am so glad that mine and my sister’s have turned out this way.

I’m never bored. I really don’t know how one can ever be with so much out there to experience. It’s true, I don’t feel very productive sometimes, but I’m morphing into something so when that morphing is done, then I guess I can look back and say whether I really needed all this time now for it.

All in all, life is good. I’m not travelling round the world or rolling in the money but I’m certainly just enjoying where I am now ad wondering how I can keep this up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts From the Fun-Employed - well, at least one of them

You know how some people say "man I'm so bored, what can I do?" 

I call bull! Its been almost 6 months into my fun-employment and I have never been bored yet. Lazy, yes, but never bored. 

I realize now that what I really needed was a good break from my "normal" work mode and I'm forever grateful to whatever influences in my life prompted me to plan ahead enough so that I can actually afford fun-employment without feeling money-pinched.

One of my goals was to write more and that hasn't really happened so I thought I'd start by sharing some random thoughts for now. Some of these maybe obvious but they didn't really hit home for me until now. 

Time Warp    "I have all this time to ..." this is what I thought when I first started this adventure. It turns out that the time I would have spent in the office is easily spent lounging around getting ready in the morning, cooking for myself, reading articles that I've been meaning to read and finishing projects that I've been meaning to start. Basically, my sense of time got warped somehow. My day is still as full as ever even though I don't have a 9-5 job and this list of things to do now that I have time just keeps growing at a faster rate then I can check things off. The good news is, I'll never be bored! 

Its a beautiful feeling to know that I don't HAVE to do anything.  I'm not sure when in my life, I started to feel that things had to be done "or else." Can I just say - its liberating (and a little scary) to be unbounded. I love it!

Time to appreciate the little things.  Its quite something to be able to just sit down and enjoy time in the sun with a good book and not have to worry about some meeting that I have to go to or some deadline I have to meet or someone at work thinking that I'm a slacker for taking a break to chill out. I've finally been able to clear out some junk that's been sitting around in my apartment for years!  

Time to stew on things.  This is the flip side of being able to appreciate the small things. There's so much time that you can start to stew on things that need to just be left alone. Its a great exercise for letting go of things that aren't under my control.

Daydreaming - a lost art.  Oh, its been a blast to just sit and think about all the different things I can dream about and plan to do with no pressure other than the satisfaction of being able to think about possibilities and then make them happen.

Finding Kindred Spirits.  I'm not sure why, but it turns out there are lots of people in the same boat as I am in: "fun-employed" and looking to start something else besides that 9 to 5 pay-the-bills kind of job. Having this time off has helped me to find these kindred spirits. I've also been spending time getting to know some of my acquaintances a little more and developing the  friendships that have been "waiting till I had more time".

Seeing the signs.  I truly believe that if you're on the path that you're meant to be, life will keep sending you signs to tell you that you're on the right path. The signs are everywhere if you're open to seeing them. (Read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho) Most of us are too busy to see what is standing right in front of us. For me these past few months, opportunities to work on projects and meet people have fallen into place better than if I were planning to do them. I've been able to work on things that I wouldn't have imagined I'd be working on.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Good Dance Night

Someone once said to me "I'll bet you've never had a bad night of dancing."

I agreed right away. Then I had to think for a few minutes just to make sure. There was only one bad night of dancing I remember. It was on a really hot summer day - almost 100 degrees outside  - which was even worse indoors.The venue was HOT and crowded and I was hot, sweaty and irritable. I felt like a bumper car: every time I danced, I was stepped on and/or bumped by some other person. I was dancing with a friend and I got stepped on with every eight count that we danced.It was ridiculous and I was livid! I thought "Seriously? Am I not going to be able to dance without getting hit?" I got so mad that I just stopped dancing. I told my partner how sorry I was but I had to leave the dance floor right away. Thankfully, my friend took it gracefully and walked me outside. He stayed with me until I was able to return to the dance floor. I needed to cool down after that meltdown (literally!). The rest of the night was actually a lot of fun, but I remember the night mainly because of my meltdown which inspired a blog post that I wrote called "Casualties of Salsa".

What makes a good night of dancing? This question has been a topic of discussion for my peers who have been growing as dancers and whose definition of what makes a good dance has changed. For some people, a good night has to start with a solid dance: start with a bad dance and the rest of the night is ruined. Others make sure that they only dance with the dancers that they know they'll have a good dance with. Some leads take pride in asking as many follows as they can to dance. Others aspire to make sure every dance they have is enjoyable for their dance partner. Still others who are working on improving a certain technique will only enjoy dancing when they can practice and execute that specific technique.

For me, dancing is joyful so a bad dance night is an oxymoron. On any given night, I may have a dance or more that I did not enjoy, but I know I'll be able to dance a good dance some time during the night. Bottom line is that I don't let the bad dances drag me down and I relish every good and "super-tacular" dance that I have. So as long as I can have a good dance, I'm good.

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to have access to some wonderful teachers and dancers who have contributed to my growth as a dancer. It is a constant source of wonder that I find myself improving in ways that I never really thought were possible. Consequently, it is also inevitable that what I enjoy about dancing will change. Its like discovering the power up options in a video game: after getting enough of them, you just want to find them and keep powering up all the time.

When I first started social dancing it was about being able to dance all night long, non-stop, with as many people as I could. It's a lot like the first time a kid figures out how to walk - they just can't stop. When my nephew first started walking, he basically jogged and ran in circles for what seemed like hours. He would start with that wobbly duck walk, pick up the pace and start running in circles and do that until his legs got tired and he would stop, laughing and giggling the whole time. Every now and again he would lose his balance and fall. Unfazed, he would just get up and start running again. That's what dancing was like for me when I first got hooked: I could never get enough.

As I've learned more about dancing I realize my dance joy now consists of three things: musicality, mastery of technique and connection with my lead. The sweet spot has just the right balance of playfulness, connection, and musical expression. Balance doesn't mean all three elements are equal, sometimes there can be more of one than the other. Essentially, a good dance is a wonderful convergence of instruments, rhythms, lyrics, harmonies with the movements from leading and following. My lead is tuned in to the music and clear about what he wants me to follow. I have room to play and add my voice in response and my lead weaves my response back into the dance.

What's interesting about the sweet spot is that its possible to get there with less experienced dancers. Don't get me wrong, I'm far more likely to hit the sweet spot with an advanced and experienced dancer. I can't deny that when I'm dancing with a superstar who leads a move that I've never done before and I nail it, that's a pretty amazing high. When I'm dancing with a lead who's new to the dance, its also a high to see them having fun, relaxing and every now and again, taking my lead on the music to play with it. It doesn't happen all the time but as an experienced follow, I can assert my voice earlier and influence the outcome of the dance: I got such a kick out of falling into my on2 mambo rhythm with a beginner lead who was open enough to pick up on the rhythm and maintain it for the rest of the song - fantastic!

Now that I have a more refined definition of a good dance one might think that its harder to have a good dance night right?. Not so. One of the great things I feel about becoming a better follow and dancer is that I can adapt to almost anything so my chances of hitting the sweet spot are better then ever. I've improved what I can contribute to a dance and added more dimensions through which I can experience the joy of dancing.

I believe that if you stay true to what makes you feel good about dancing you'll have a good dance night: let go of the dances that don't give you joy and go after the joy that you find in dance

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dancing, Teaching, Learning and Recharging

That's the work that I say I do on my Facebook profile.

At the end of 2011, I decided that I needed a break so as of February 1, 2012, I quite my job as a project manager and decided that I needed to take some time to recharge and also work on these ideas that have been swirling in my head to see if there's a way to make a living out of Dancing, Teaching and Learning.

It's a little scary because the practical side of me is screaming "What are you thinking? Just stop working with no income? That's just Cr-A-zy!!".

Several friends of mine have called this new stage of life "fun-employed". I hope to make it something sustainable. They say that if you start living the life you want, it will be so. Wish me luck! I'll be writing more about my adventures as I go.

In the meantime, I'm working on bringing a new dance to the scene in Seattle - check out more
at the Kizomba blog and the Kizomba Seattle facebook group page.