It just can’t be …

.. helped. I’m serious. It can’t. I even told myself to just stop … this is silly … it’s just a HOBBY.  Right? Just a hobby? Well, that’s what I keep telling myself and that’s what I tell other people, but this week I had a long hard chat with myself.  Let’s get honest here. It’s not “just a hobby.” It just isn’t.

A couple of months ago I was talked into joining a little health spa … I don’t know what else to call it. It’s not really a workout place, although you can work out there. The median age is about 65, so it’s not really a hang out spot for me. I digress. It has a sauna. Well, three saunas to be exact that have different features from each other. I try to go six days a week. Hit up some machines and the sauna. This week I was alone in a couple of my sauna times and had lots of opportunity to think with no distractions present. Well, I thought this would be a great time to read a book … (it’s a dry sauna) and so I grabbed one off my shelf I’ve been meaning to get back to: “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp. I didn’t get far till I had to put the book down. The questions she asked made me really start to evaluate my perspective on my dancing. The last half year or so I haven’t wanted to think about it much as it would cause me to face some tough choices. Why exactly am I so attached to ballroom dancing? I can go thru the whole list of things everyone talks about … you all have heard them. But I don’t think that’s exactly why.

I only read for 10 minutes and then stared at the bamboo wall for the final 20 minutes of my session. It was so hot. Sweltering hot. Sweat was running off my face so fast and I watched it drip on to the towel on the floor. It was almost so hot I couldn’t think very deeply. I just thought about being hot and sweating. And dance. Always back to the dancing.

Teach is at Blackpool right now. One of his super rich students took him. I had a lesson the night before he left. He actually went to a competition in Florida with another student and when he got back, he turned around and went to England. (What a life!) So, the night before he left for Florida I had a lesson … last one of the night. We are working on my next showcase routine (it’s a foxtrot of sorts). He worked me really hard and I was slightly overwhelmed. He was tired. I could see it in his face. More tired than usual. He has so many students and seems to always be going somewhere with one of them. We sat down after the lesson to note the new choreography he changed for the routine and such. He finished writing and then we sat in a moment of silence. I think we were both very weary in our own ways … work is tiring. Pleasing people/customers is tiring.

And then he says, “I was thinking we should do a competition this fall?” He outlines a timeline and which one he thought I should consider (he always tries to suggest the cheapest USDC comp for me) and how I’ll need to up my lessons and such. We kind of left it hanging … something to discuss when he gets back from Blackpool. It gives me time to really think about dance. To think about what it would mean for me financially, emotionally, physically, etc.

And in the hot steaming room Twyla says to me, “It will cost money. Are your creative efforts worth it to you? Is it something you really want to do? If so, make it your priority. Work around it. Once your basic needs are taken care of, money is there to be used. What better investment than in yourself.”

I stare at the wooden slats … “Yes, but …”

She asks me to write my creative autobiography by answering her questions. The first question stops all the others:

  1. What is the first creative moment you remember?

My first creative moment. Oh, I remember it … even if it feels so far away. I was very young. Probably around 4-5 years old. Somehow I had seen ballerinas warming up … I don’t know where, probably on PBS. When I was by myself, I tried to replicate what they did using the railing that ran along the steps leading down to our basement. I remember dancing on my toes and being so proud. I guess my parents must have seen me and thought I really liked music and promptly set me up for violin lessons. (My dad later said they should have chosen dance.) And I sat there in the sweltering heat and relived that moment. I can see it very clearly. I remember how I felt.

“But seriously, Twyla, it’s just difficult with my new business and money and time and maybe I’m too old to ever be any good.”

And she says almost right away, “Venturing out of your comfort zone may be dangerous, yet you do it anyway because our ability to grow is directly proportional to an ability to entertain the uncomfortable.”

My conversation lasted off and on with Twyla for a couple days and really “ended” today in the sauna. Meaning, I haven’t finished the book, but I have come to a distinct milestone for me: Dancing is not just a hobby. It’s not something I do when I have some extra money or because I’m bored or I’m looking to make new friends or become a better social dancer. I don’t dance because it makes me feel cool or sounds good, gives me confidence, or even because it’s good for you — physically and mentally. I don’t dance because I’m competitive and want to make a name for myself in the ballroom world. I don’t dance to make money or to impress anyone. I don’t dance because it’s my therapy.

I dance because I’m still that 4-year-old girl trying to move to the beat of the music. I need to create through dance.

As Twyla said while elaborating on why she chose dance over becoming a visual artist, “But even then I knew myself well enough to realize that no matter how much I enjoyed making sketches, the painter’s life was not for me. I didn’t feel it in my bones. I would tell my “story” through movement. Gotta dance.”

Yeah, gotta dance. Some things will have to change.


My teachers and I about a month ago at a studio event. (Teach is on my right. He’s my main partner and instructor.)

Everyday things

It doesn’t matter how hard it is … I just keep scratching along trying to further my dancing. I was going to have a major cut back, but after a long conversation with Teach about my dancing and the future, we are continuing with a slight cut-back. I’m laughing when I think that now that dance is getting really interesting, I’m at my lowest point financially that I’ve been in a while — 😆

My biz is slowly starting to take shape. Can I tell you I’ve learned a whole lot about working with local government and codes and red tape and connections? Not to mention the egregious amount of paperwork. But, there might be a light at the end of this long tunnel. I’ve been able to make some key connections and partnerships, so this little old space of mine might actually be going strong by the summer! If I’ll be making so much money to bankroll my habit remains to be seen.

Valentina came back for coaching at our studio a couple weeks ago and it hurt me not to be able to learn from her. I did take her master class and enjoyed that. The value of private instruction …. Sigh.

I wish I had a little more time to be more active on this blog. I haven’t been able to keep up with everyone’s journey lately and so many interesting things have been happening in your lives it would seem. I also just found I had some messages from people I’ve missed and now I gotta get all caught up. Sorry if I missed something from one of you!

At my space there’s a healthy amount of line dancing, lindyhop, blues dancing. I’ve tried to join in, but there’s so many other things to do and I miss the ballroom world!

I teach a class once a week at a retirement community for their wellness department. We basically dance in a line to little routines I make up. I had a student in her late 80s show up to my class with a walker. She watched for a few weeks and then slowly started to join us as she could.  Now, she actually dances the whole hour with us without using her walker at all. It’s very exciting. This last week she stayed after class and very shyly told me she had something for me. She had typed up a poem she had written to give me as a gift for coming and teaching them. It’s so adorable and I’m so proud of her, I have to share it:


Great, right? 😀


Well, the big news for me is that this last Tuesday I had my 7-year anniversary with Teach!  I still can’t believe it’s been seven years since I walked into that studio and shook Teach’s hand. We’ve come a long way, baby! I need to come up with a special post about my seven years and hope to do that this weekend. But, here’s a photo that shows me right at the beginning of my time at the studio to my 7th anniversary.  So many memories … Who knows what the next seven will hold?




a new day



Teach is to the left and another instructor I danced with that day is to the right.

I think about dancing every day … On some level. If I’m not having a lesson or taking a class, I’m thinking about what’s next or how I can afford to pay for (fill in the blank). I have dance friends who message me on Facebook or email or text and are telling me things or talking about dance related stuff almost every day. I watch YouTube videos or scan Facebook pages or blogs just to catch a tidbit here or there. (Yes, I watched the recent videos of professionals falling at comps cause it makes me glad I’m in good company when I happen to wipe out on the dance floor.) I get curious about the bigger comps and who wins and speculate as to why and who their coaches are and how much money they make … 😁

Sadly, though, it looks like my time on the floor will be limited. I just can’t keep up this financial burn. Recently, Teach asked me about going to Heritage Classic this year and I had to say “no.”  It was terrible for many reasons. Not the least of which is that I had started to gain traction and did really well last year and thought that this could be my year to bring a big trophy home. I’ve gone the last 3 years and patiently sacrificed for it. But, the funds are drained and aren’t able to be replenished. It’s hard because I feel like Teach and I are at a new level in dancing connection and are communicating the best we’ve done in a long time. It just totally sucks. It’s hard because I often forget that I’m not really upper middle class like I like to imagine I am, but my paycheck does not reflect.  It’s just reality.  Sometimes, the reality of something just sucks.

However, I have started a new adventure — in June,  I began a new job of starting a business in a nearby town where I live. I am managing an events space that’s located in an old 1940’s grocery store. The building is huge and has lots of fun history. I’ve cleaned and painted and sweat buckets and bled and cried and struggled with contractors and fielded complaints and met with county people and learned all about the multiple ways the government taxes one little item and met interesting people and met people who take advantage and walked the streets passing out information and gone to bed so tired I can’t sleep and have felt new levels of loneliness I didn’t know existed and learned all about getting yourself out there on a budget and on and on and on … And that’s just been the first six months! 😀

During all this, dancing has been a special retreat for me … A place of healing and solace and it’s hard to see it go away on any level. I hate it. But, I’m also the person who plays the long game  … Always have been. Many people my age aren’t ballroom dancing … They’re raising their kids, building careers, doing other crazy stuff … I get that. Most women didn’t really start dancing till they were 20 or more years older than me. I feel very blessed to have been able to begin when I did. So, although my involvement in dancing may take a different path for a while, it will still hold a special place in my heart. And, who knows, maybe things will change quite suddenly, as they often do, and I will find myself on the floor going even stronger — I’m a hopeful person like that. 😏

it doesn’t mean I’m out of here or not dancing at all, it just means something’s gotta give and it looks like dancing will be the thing. I’m still gonna keep up with the Ballroom Village and dance as I can afford it! I’ve included a couple pics: one is my costume from our Halloween public dance at the studio and the other is from our studio Mini-Match this past weekend where I am happy to say I moved up another level in silver.

Keep dancing my friends! I’ll see you on the floor … sometime …




Just Some Updating …

The last two weeks I had the wonderful opportunity for professional coaching! The first week was coaching with Chantal LeClerc and the second week was with Martin Lamb. They were both so different from each other and I completely enjoyed them.

Fun with Chantal

Fun with Chantal

With Chantal, we worked on my silver routine of rumba and she helped me with phrasing and styling … To create a more dynamic show. Martin also worked to help me with creating a more dynamic style, but it had everything to do with my upper body technique. Can I say that they were both very nice and quite funny? They totally were! I danced with Teach for the coaching sessions and I’m excited to see how this will help my dancing overall. I usually get outside coaching four or so times a year … But, never had some so closely together. I’m slightly envious of all those students who take coaching all the time. 😀

Getting coached by Martin with Teach

Getting coached by Martin with Teach

Recently, I have started taking secondary instruction with a new teacher. I haven’t gotten rid of anything … Just added more. I will call him Teach 3. He has really focused on using my abs and back more — great stuff!

Teach 3 is on the right!

Teach 3 is on the right!

Hope everyone is doing well …. Loving your posts!

see you on the dance floor!

“We will never leave bronze.” — every good dance instructor

I’ve been mulling over an idea lately … well, it’s been ongoing for a couple years, I guess — which is ironic when I tell you that it’s “time.”

When you first start dancing as an adult you just want to advance as quickly as you can. We have this idea that we have a limited amount of time/resources/physical ability/whatever left and we must seize the day — if you will. Everyone likes the get rich quick schemes, winning the lottery, instant fame, sugar daddies/mommas or want to lose a zillion pounds in six months, etc.

I’ve read articles about AM students who talk about how they advanced to silver because of all the lessons they’ve taken in less than TWO years and then on to gold. I’ve seen these people dance in competitions with my own eyes.  It’s as if they want to suffer quickly through bronze — i.e. the basics — and get on “to the really good stuff.”

I’m not saying that silver steps aren’t lots of fun, ’cause they are. And I’m not saying that the basics can’t get old when you do them a thousand times and have to relearn them every six months or so, ’cause they do. And I’m certainly not saying that the leg wrapped around your partner and other random tricks don’t make you feel really cool, ’cause you are.

But, I wonder if in our rush to move on to the next level we’re not just missing getting solid basics down, we’re missing something else … something incredibly valuable.

In our culture, we like fast — instant food, instant wi-fi, instant cash back, instant service, instant pleasure, etc. We do not like to wait. We do not like to pause. We do not like to go slowly. Think about that with dancing. We see another dancer doing what looks like a cool, flashy move in the studio or on a YouTube video or at a comp and we’re like — I wanna do that — stat! We corner our instructors and demand to do it. Or, in my case, I see students at the studio doing moves that I want to do and my teacher won’t do them with me. And I feel that I’m a better dancer than that student and when my teacher refuses to do that, but makes comments about me mastering technique, I burn a little inside. (At my last lesson with Teach 2, he started to lead me in a move I didn’t know and when it became evident I was just trying to follow him he stopped and said something about mistakenly thinking I knew that move. I was quick to reply that I would love to learn it and please teach me. He said, “no.” Of course, I asked why not and he said because he and Teach had a plan for me and that was not in the plan. Of course, I want that plan to move along at more than a turtle’s pace.)

I have come to a point where I think my internal narrative on this must change. And not because of the obvious reasons that I need to learn really good technique before I advance and good technique with basic steps is superior to bad technique and fancier tricks, etc., etc., etc., but it’s something more than that …

Here’s an example: it takes time to create something good. If you’re going to prepare a feast from scratch it takes a lot of time and effort. There are things you can’t rush; but the beauty of it is the pleasure you get in the middle of all the preparations. You get pleasure thinking about the final product. You get pleasure planning it, prepping it, carefully crafting it, laying it out and then finally feasting on it. You take your time to choose all the ingredients carefully. You smell and taste and chop and smell and taste and season … There are a lot of monotonous, mundane tasks that must be completed. And all of that time and labor comes to fruition in a really beautiful moment of communal feasting — and you take great pleasure in all your work and in the joy of others around you relishing in it as well. Or you could just run to Costco and get a rotisserie chicken and some mashed potatoes — both are meals — but they aren’t the same thing. One is a quick way to an end result and the other is a long drawn out process. But something really important is missed in the “insta” method. And I think that’s what I’m trying to do — to find the right words to communicate this idea about dancing.

imagesThere is something really beautiful about taking your time and deliberately owning your dancing. All the parts — all that tedious, at times, basic technique. Instead of trying to rush ahead and do “fancier,” “cooler,” “more difficult” moves, perhaps we need to just settle into a steady, focused work space and really get to know our body — how it moves, how it works, how it connects, the rhythms, the partnership, the simple step and how it all connects together. We should learn to take great pleasure and joy in the most common of steps. After all, they are the ones, theoretically, we’ve spent the most time with. 🙂 We should reject the idea that we are running out of time and must rush on to the next level. As Teach says to me, “you will never come to the end of learning about dance — no one can. It forever goes on … always teaching you something new.”

Eventually, more levels will come, of course — but, I want to try to stop the ridiculous feeling of trying to scramble to the next level and instead just breathe at the level I’m at. Just settle into knowing every inch of how my body must move to fill the basic step as full as I can possibly make it. And who freaking cares if I get to do a crazy trick next year or three years from now? Because that one step IS. This is where I am right now. There is no rush to get to the next. Teach says, “everything you really need to know step-wise is in bronze. The difficulty is settling into these steps and making them your own. Why do you want to rush such an important part of dancing?”

I guess that’s it — creating an internal narrative that thrives on the drills. That feels the great beauty in the box step. That exults in arm styling that grows from deep inside you. It’s not just “getting thru” bronze to the next level — it’s loving every aching moment of what should be a long and arduous journey. As Teach said to me this evening during my lesson while dancing some silver, “We will never leave bronze. Bronze will always be with us … it should always be with us.”

“There is no road too long to the man who advances deliberately and without undue haste; there are no honors too distant to the man who prepares himself for them with patience.”

— Jean de la Bruyere

Fighting Head Dragons

I’m glad I took a moment to read other fellow ballroom blog posts before I started my own. Girl with a Tree Tattoo has one from two days ago that you all should read … if you haven’t. It’s beautiful — “we are all significant.”

I just came home from an event at the studio and was having the exact same things run through my head. We had a showcase this past weekend and I danced OK … it wasn’t my best. But the worst part was that, although audience members congratulated me, my own teachers said nothing to me. And this was really hard. I saw them having a great time with all their other students, taking lots of pics and having fun, and they didn’t even acknowledge me — neither Teach or Teach 2 — not one word. (One of the female teachers talked to me and was very sweet, but she was the only one.) It did hurt my feelings. I started to have my own head dragons come up: “they are ashamed of me,” “they’d rather speak to any other student than you,” “they couldn’t care less to tell you about your dancing,” “you are not good enough,” “you are not a good dancer,” “you are ugly” “you are undesirable” … and so on.  I tried to be positive and proactive, and reach out myself, but it was hard. I freely admit that all the other stressful things in life don’t help this, but it does hurt.

And tonight I read Tree Tattoo girl’s post and it was some fresh water to a tired soul. It’s OK. I’m still valuable no matter how I’m treated at the studio. I was talking to my little sister today and trying to explain to her how much dancing makes me happy and tonight I realized that the best way to kill that happiness is to compare. It’s time to kill Dragon Comparison — she is NOT my friend!

Hey All

Or Hey All Y’all, as is said down here in the South. Time is just slipping by and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write much. I just was trying to catch up reading all the posts from my ballroom friends that I’ve missed lately. They are all so interesting!

My coaching with Valentina went well. We just focused on beginning silver steps … or basically continuity. As both she and my Teach call it — the basics of smooth dancing. I thought I had been working on the basics of smooth dancing for the last six years, but apparently, I’m just now getting to it — who knew? Oh yeah, we did! 🙂 It was so hard and yet so very good. She also gave a master class on arm styling which was one of the most helpful classes I’ve ever attended.

Lately, I’ve been working on my smooth dancing with Teach 2 and it’s been really good — it seems that there might actually be some progress being made. I even scheduled an extra lesson this week with him as I felt like I was on a roll …

But, with Teach we’ve been working on our showcase and developing rhythm more. I am not on a roll with him. I feel like I can’t do anything right in my last couple of lessons. I’m trying — I really am — however, I feel like I’m just stumbling around and I can see by the look on Teach’s face he’s not happy with my dancing lately. But … as we all know, it’s all part of the up and down of the ballroom world. Maybe next week will go better. Both Teach and Teach 2 are off to Vegas to compete with other students for the next few days, so I guess that should give me time to get re-focused before Monday.

I’ll end with a link to an article I read lately that has really helped me and I thought you guys might be interested in it as well. It has one of those catchy titles found all over Facebook: The Biggest Mistake Ballroom Dancers Make. Enjoy!

And Then There Were Six …

I don’t know why I can’t seem to get any posts up on here lately. It has been crazy. I’m transitioning into a new job and it has taken a HUGE amount of my time. I still have to keep up with my other work and I agreed to make a couple dance dresses for different ladies. Be prepared for a rather boring update on my dance life … 🙂

Tonight after my lesson (we were working on my next showcase — and it’s pretty awesome!) Teach and I briefly discussed the next step. Basically, what will be the next competition. He kind of has it narrowed down to two and I know which one he wants to do — especially because he says he thinks it will be more interesting for me. Since I haven’t competed in silver at USDC comps yet, he is very reluctant to do that at nationals. But, I also want to do something more than the basic routines you’re forced into by the rulebook. The higher bronze program in our franchise studio syllabus looks more like silver at those bigger comps. So, he’s pushing for me to try the franchise national comp in Orlando … I don’t know, we’ll see. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the showcase preparation. I also will have coaching with Valentina again next week. Teach was debating what we should show her … I honestly have no opinion this time — very strange for me. 🙂

We have a new teacher in the studio. He just came over from Ukraine. I have danced with him at our public dance, but don’t know when or if I’ll get a lesson with him. His height is much better suited for me — like my main Teach — than Teach 2 (who is really too tall for me). There will also be another couple coming from Ukraine to join the teaching staff in a week or two. So, that means there are potentially SIX Ukrainian male teachers for me take lessons from … wowser! I don’t know how I’ll keep them all straight for you unless I just give them numbers. As it is now, I have my main TEACH (who I take at least two lessons a week from and do all my competing and showcasing with), Teach 2 (my secondary personal instructor) and Teach 3 (whom I learn from on a regular basis — sometimes with a lesson, but in a private group class every week). And there are THREE more of them … the studio owner, the new guy — number 5 (who looks like he’s all of 14 years old — although I’ve been told he’s upper 20s), and the guy coming in any day — number 6. If anyone is looking for a studio to come join and get amazing instruction, you can come join mine!!! We also will have three female teachers (two Ukrainian) to learn from as well when the couple gets here.

Basically, things are going fine. I’m still learning a lot, but I feel very distracted right now because of the whole job thing. It takes a whole lot of my mental and physical energy and dancing has kinda taken second place — what the HECK, I can’t believe I just typed those words. Dance has not taken a secondary place in a long time. 🙂 But, my new job is a really cool one and I still can’t believe it’s mine.

I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s blog posts out there — did you all see the petition for bringing DanceSport to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo? Wouldn’t that be something? It was just exciting to see American Smooth making a debut at Blackpool this year (I was not there in person, but Teach was. He is friends with one of those amazing couples who presented the American style.)

Haven’t I rambled enough? I guess so. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all meet up one day at a comp together or something? We could have some good laughs and such. OK, good night, dancing friends.

A Time for Sharing

There’s a topic about my ballroom dancing that I’ve never talked to anyone about. I don’t know why, it just never seemed like a good time, or appropriate, or perhaps I didn’t want to share. I don’t know … I try not to over-analyze that part. Recently, I’ve been giving it some good thought. When I tell people that ballroom dancing changed my life, I mean it. Yes, I’ve made friends and gotten more confident and developed my rhythm and learned a bunch of stuff, etc. But, this is something much different. I apologize for the length of this post. I don’t expect people to read it, but I think it’ll be good for me to write it out.

In February 2009, I began my ballroom dance journey (I know — 6 1/2 years already!). That August there was a franchise competition in a town in NC about 4 hours from my house. My roommate at the time was also taking dance lessons and we decided we were going to go up and watch this competition. We got up early on Saturday morning — like crack of dawn early — and started on our trip. Everything was going great until we got about 30 minutes away from the hotel where the comp was taking place. It had started to rain and at this point it was monsoon-like, in my opinion. We were still fine, excited about our trip to see the dancing, playing music and singing like two crazy girls, and all the sudden we started hydroplaning. Life literally slowed way down to me. I know the music was playing but it seemed very far away. We were spinning around and around across the highway and my roommate looked at me and I remember saying, very calmly, “It’s going to be OK.” And then we were silent. There was no screaming and panic, like you see on the movies, we were both just amazingly calm.  The car went off the highway, down the embankment (pretty steep) and bounced between some trees until it finally stopped by crashing into a tree (you can see in the pic). It took a moment for us to gather ourselves together and then she kept asking me if I was OK. I told her I was, but my side hurt really badly. She had to crawl out of the back of the car and we got out. My roommate was really worried about me because I could tell something was wrong on my side, but we weren’t really bleeding anywhere major — just some little cuts. We looked up the embankment to the highway and saw — in the pouring rain — a minivan had pulled over. There were faces pressed against the window staring down at us. My roommate starts up the embankment waving her arms and they just drove off. I still have a visual of my soaked friend with her arms up in the air yelling after them, “Are you kidding me?!”

I must admit that all I could think of was the pain in my side and that it just wouldn’t quit raining and I had trouble breathing. My roommate climbs up the embankment, much faster than me, which was pretty amazing as she had messed up her foot, but I guess she was running on adrenaline. Long story short … a kind lady stopped and let us sit in her van until the firetruck and10399702_131447456372_3312883_n EMS arrived. While were were waiting, we saw a truck hydroplane at the exact same place we did and go off in the median … a much better outcome for them.  When the firemen arrived it bordered on a comedy routine … They realized we were actually from the car at the bottom of the embankment and all the sudden we were strapped down before we could say hello and then waited forever to get loaded up in the ambulance. I was put on shelf on the side of the ambulance that was at an awkward tilt towards the floor, with the oxygen cords wrapped all around my neck. My roommate, who’s almost six feet tall, was put on a board with her head sticking out of the side of van because of her height. Since she was strapped to the board and couldn’t move, she was getting torrential downpour right on her face and I could hear her sputtering and I did laugh a little. There were a lot of humorous things that happened before we actually got to the hospital, but I’ll pick up my story there.  We did make each other laugh talking about how we’d view this someday, but we knew we were hurting. At the hospital in the ER, the nurses decided that they would cut off my clothes, since they didn’t know our injuries and we were soaking wet. Well, they cut off my clothes; somehow they thought my injuries were much worse than my roommate’s. I remember thinking, I love this blue dress, I’ll never get another one like it. Cat-scan and doctor’s examination was next. They initially thought i might have punctured a lung or something like that or worried about internal bleeding. However, I actually only fractured some ribs and had major internal bruising. I also banged my left shin on the glove compartment so hard that I killed off those nerves … to this day, I still have numbness there. Well, our phones got left in the car and we had no way to contact anyone. Who memorizes phone numbers anymore, right? Now, we just memorize passwords. 🙂 Well, we finally got one of the nurses to call the hotel where the competition was at and ask them to get one of the organizers to find a friend of ours who was already up there. We needed someone to come get us from the hospital. They got my friend and told her what happened and where we were. At this point my roommate had reached her family and not long after they were able to get ahold of mine. One of the nurses kept coming into my room with the cordless phone with another tearful family member of mine checking on me. I have to say when my dad called and was a little emotional, I about lost it … no crying yet though. We were still trying to crack jokes. Well, my roommate was released, but they kept me longer and then our other friend and the owner of the studio shows up. We were shocked that he came too. But apparently, the emcee called my friend’s name in-between heats and told her to go to the back desk. That’s very unusual. So, she went back there and they gave her a message that we had been in a car accident and we were at a such and such hospital — and that’s all. She didn’t know if we were alive or what. So, the owner found out and insisted on driving her to hospital to pick us up. Here I was completely naked with only a thin hospital blanket covering me trying to make small talk with the studio owner.

When I was finally released they handed me a bag with my shoes and my bra.  My male nurse didn’t cut off my bra since, in his words, I know how expensive those things can be, I’ll try to save it. There was about 3 inches of water in the bottom of the bag and my stuff was just resting in it. I was wearing the paper scrubs and hospital socks they gave me and we shuffled out to the car. As I’m shuffling to the car, it started pouring rain again. I’ve been told I made a pitiful picture at this moment.

The car was towed to a scrapyard with all our stuff in it and we were told we’d have to wait till Monday to get our luggage and purses and everything. So we stayed at a nearby hotel the next two days. I got an amazing amount of wear out of those scrubs. Probably the worst two days of my life. The first night was rough. The second night was the most miserable I’ve ever been. The nurse warned us that this would happen. We were on pain meds and had fallen asleep. Well, we didn’t wake up to take our meds on time to keep the pain away. Suddenly, in the middle of night I was jolted awake to screaming from my roommate. I thought she was dying and I sat straight up … and my side just exploded with pain. Her foot was hurting her so badly she had started screaming. So, I was stumbling around trying to get meds; I piled up every pillow I could find to elevate her foot; I stumbled down the hallway trying to get ice from the machine to numb her foot and leg … all about 2 in the morning. We were both in agony. Lesson learned — when in a car accident always have someone around to care for you for a couple of days. They will keep your meds current and help you.

I basically spent more time in bed than not for the next two weeks. At that point, I felt well enough to go out and about. My roommate and I took a thank you note over to the studio. Different teachers from studio had called regularly to check up on us. My teacher came right over and hugged me very gently and pulled me out on the dance floor. I hesitated as I didn’t know how I would feel, but we did a very slow, simple rumba. It was like a cold glass of water on a hot day for me.  He said we could go back to dancing whenever I wanted to. I don’t remember how long I waited till returning to my lessons, but it wasn’t long. My doctor told me to take it easy, but to keep moving. So I did. There were times I would come out of my lessons being all happy and cheerful, shuffle to my car, sit in the car, and just sob because I hurt all over.

But, here’s the biggest part of my story. The couple weeks after my accident when I spent a majority of my time alone in my room and in bed, mostly sleeping, I changed a little. I didn’t know it at the time, but I can see it now when I look back. I went back to work after two weeks and felt very distant from what was happening. I felt like I was watching life happen and I didn’t feel anything about it. I was in a teaching position that I’d held for 10 years. I went to my classes, I taught, etc., but something felt very off to me. Since I had no visible injuries except bruising, I don’t think most people in my life gave it a second thought. I hurt all the time, though. I got the feeling from my friends and coworkers that they didn’t care what was happening to me. My family was on the other side of the country. I withdrew more and more and spent more time alone. It was like everyone was going on with their lives and no one gave a @#$# about me. I became very detached from my work and the friends there.

All this time, I continued to dance and I felt very safe in the studio. I felt like people cared about me, cared that I showed up, were interested in my dancing, etc. And that became the most hopeful place for me. That year was so hard for me, I quit my teaching job. I felt like no one outside the studio cared if I showed up or whatever I did.

A couple years later I told a little of this to one of my sisters, who is a nurse. She said almost right away, “You had PTSD.” I was surprised … I think of soldiers and traumatized victims of crimes having that … not someone like me, who walked away from a car accident. She then explained to me that I had all the classic symptoms and that it was actually very normal — this is how our bodies respond to any kind of major trauma. And my insides were very banged up. Both the ER doc and my doc said they were after seeing the scan. My sister said that it’s the way the body and mind protects itself.

I could go on and on about this, I know. But the end result was, that car accident changed my life. It actually was instrumental in me quitting a job I assumed I’d keep for the rest of my life.  I found myself going from teaching university to working at a craft store stocking shelves and doing the check out. I only stayed out of teaching for a semester and then started back up at another school, but i needed that year or so to heal. Not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I didn’t know that one needed to do that. I just assumed I was strong.  Learning to dance and going to the studio was a lifeline for me. It really was a bright spot in my dark mind that I cherished and looked forward to — moving to the music, learning steps, just dancing … became a healer for me.

So when I say dancing is important to me, it really is … on many levels. I love it, but it helped to heal me in a way nothing else could. Now, almost six years later, I still have recurring pain from the accident in my side, shoulder, leg and hip. But, even when it hurts in the studio, when my teacher is drilling the heck out of me, I’m OK. It reminds me of all the things that I have to be thankful for. And towards the top of the list are dancing and Teach.

Some Funn-i-ness

I know that’s not a real word, but I just wanted to share some pics of our most recent event that are fun and funny. One of the students in our studio took these. And yes, I’ve worn the same dresses in the last two events I’ve done. But, these pics just show the fun and craziness that I love about dancing. 🙂 In my mind, I feel like I smile a lot more and I see pictures from events and I just have a lot of weird facial expressions … totally cracks me up. I danced with three instructors, mostly my main Teach, but somehow I have no pics of dancing with Teach 2. However, there are a few of me dancing with a third instructor, who I don’t actually take lessons from — we just go out there and dance and see what happens — SO FUN! Oh well, guess you’ll have to indulge my vanity of sharing all these pics of myself. 🙂

ps. I like seeing all of your pics too!


Teach’s facial expression … so funny


Samba … a little sassy


Mambo … again, with the weird facial expression … I crack up when I look at these


I commit to those over the head arm movements! 🙂 🙂


Rumba with the teacher number 3 … who I don’t actually take lessons from 🙂


Cha cha with teacher 3


Rumba, of course


Cause scary facial expressions towards the cameraman are just what we do???


Tango — I’m not going to lie, I really like this picture.


Rumba with Teach — my favorite dance with my favorite partner!