Tango, propulsion and confidence

One of the aspects that I'm enjoying this time around is learning about propulsion - or more precisely, the way that the energy emanating from my partner propels me into the dance.

We did an exercise this week in which my partner kept his arms open and I held on to his arms just below the biceps ("squeeze it like you were checking the ripeness of a tomato"). He then had to move forward as if he were dancing alone - not touching me at all - as if I were not there.

The exercise was designed to teach the ladies how to flow into the natural forward movement of the male partner. It also helped to create a better connection between H. and I, in that we had to conceive of ourselves as being one core of energy moving to the music - rather than two separate entities.

It was very, very helpful and on so many different levels.

I can really feel my partner's energy now - partly because I am more attuned to it, but also because my partner is more confident. The more confidence that my partner shows in the dance, the more fluid my own movements become in response to that confidence. So proper propulsion results from an increase in confidence, but propulsion also creates more confidence.

We all know this.

Isn't it generally true that in most aspects of your life, when you are confident, it increases your productivity and success? And doesn't more productivity and success only lead to more confidence? To learn this lesson again in tango is no big surprise.

The real pleasure comes in realizing that I am finally beginning to feel the dance, rather than just trying to step my way through it.

Next week? Gancho!

*J'aime Tango Shoes, available for purchase online


Pushy grandmothers

There's a radio ad running on CJAD that cracks me up every time. It's for a local podiatrist and it consists of two women talking. It begins like this:

"I know I'm only her grandmother, but I noticed that Allison's foot turns in when she walks..."

Perhaps this is a stupid question, but where does one find non-meddling grandmothers like this? Do tactful grandmothers exist? Does anyone have proof?

My Italian grandmothers thought it was their God-given right to meddle in pretty much everything. They had an opinion about... well, everything... and they gave it to you whether you asked for it or not . Also, they didn't believe in personal space.

Need examples?

My paternal grandmother, Adelia, when I was a teenager, regularly liked to gauge the development of my breasts herself. I leaned over to kiss her hello, she lifted her hand to cop a feel. No one thought this was weird. You certainly didn't put up a fight.

My maternal grandmother, Ida, when I was teenger, decided that my favourite pair of khaki shorts made my back end look too wide. She aired her opinion but when I insisted on wearing them anyway, she just dumped bleach on them in the wash. The family thought this was cute. And funny.

If it were my grandmother in the radio ad, she would be yelling - and probably take the opportunity to note that my mother obviously wasn't feeding me enough either.

Thanks nonnas!


Not selling yourself short

In his Free Will horoscope for Pisces this week, Rob Brezsny notes, "...I believe you should err of the side of being somewhat self-promotional to compensate for your self-deprecating tendencies."

I don't like to think of myself as easily classifiable, but in this case, I fall squarely into Rob's Piscean portrait. My ability to self-deprecate is a long-standing talent of mine - my mother unwittingly spoon fed it to me during my youth and today, it's a tiger I get to tame every day.

For example, it's not unlike me to point out something missing in the food I've just prepared. Or to apologise for the state of my coat.

It's not that I'm digging for compliments. In fact, I have a terrible time accepting compliments (but that's a whole other bowl of fish). It's more that I'm constantly expecting criticism, and so, in a pre-emptive strike, I speak the criticisms first so that the words of others can't hurt me.

As in, I'm just saying what (I think) the rest of you are thinking. And if I can be funny at the same time, all the better! In general, it's all very tiring and I don't recommend it. There are far more entertaining hang-ups to have, I'm sure.

What I love about the return to freelance, is that the drive to earn a living is helping me to overcome the self-deprecation reflex. Lately, I'm all about presenting myself as a confident and experienced writer who has a lot to offer her clients. Because I am! My tone is positive and enthusiastic. I'm meticulous about my work and put a lot of forethought into every sentence I write.

The thing is, it's working. I'm developing strong relationships with my new clients. The mandates I'm entrusted with are challenging, and new opportunities are coming my way. There's no fake-it-until-I-make-it... I'm really making it this time.

So why am I maintaining this self-deprecating tendency in other aspects of my life? If you have a few minutes today, take a poke through your own life and see if you can't find some aspect where self-deprecation is dragging you down. Do you really deserve such harsh judgment from yourself?

What might change about the situation if you took a different attitude?


Tango, the return

To say that I was excited about my first tango class in over seven months is an understatement. I wore my super sexy dress from Etsy, did up my eyes with mascara and eye shadow, and styled my hair just so. I wanted to step on that dance floor feeling as good as I looked - especially since I knew our first few steps would be clunky.

Due to a mix-up with the dates, we turned up for the second to last session of Beginner I, instead of the first session of Beginner II. The new instructors suggested that we finish level one with the rest of the group, and H and I quickly agreed, both thrilled at the opportunity for more brush-ups.

Those first steps were clunky, but the joy that bubbles up whenever I tango was still there. In the familiar touch of my partner's hands. In the flare of my skirt as I ocho-ed. In the long line of my calf as I extended my heel backwards. My heart was floating on the music.

And guess who didn't look at her feet? Not even once? ME!

Tonight was just a jumble of emotions, but I already have ideas for future posts. Not only do I get to tango - but I get to write about it too. Looking forward to sharing it with you in the weeks to come.


Random notes from this week

  • Why do I feel compelled to apply full make-up before going to MAC? I'm afraid that if I go there with nothing on my face, they'll deem me unworthy of the Lucky Green eye shadow I want. "No eyeshadow for you!"
  • I love getting my eyebrows threaded. It's the whole experience. Lovely young Indian woman leaning over you, quietly humming some Hindu love song, her hair smelling of coconut oil. I often get a little sleepy on the bed...
  • Why are compliments so important? Yes, it's important to love yourself first and best etc., but have you noticed that when you don't get any compliments from the opposite/desired sex for a period of time, it's sometimes harder to pick yourself up? You feel all *moche* and look for ways to make yourself feel more attractive (see points 1 and 2). I used to think that compliments are frivolous, but then I read this:
Compliments exert enormous influence in the exchange of good will between people. They generate mutual feelings of happiness and joy between the givers and recipients. Compliments to others are like small gifts we give ourselves when we pay attention to how we appreciate those around us. Paying a sincere compliment to someone makes you very attractive.


January update

When I was first a freelancer (between 1999-2006), I was living in Montreal West. I was isolated and lonely, and even the simplest errand involved getting in my car and driving. I was miserable. That's why I accepted the full-time job at 90 degrés.

Now that I've returned to freelancing, I feel more free and less harried. My days are varied and most shops I need are a short walk away. There are numerous cafés for me to choose from should I need a change of scenery - there's even a co-working space nearby. Also, I have wonderful friends in the neighbourhood who work from home too.

It's a whole different experience. And there's been plenty of movement:
I may have even cracked Chapter 7, dammit! So all is well friends. I'll keep you posted when more interesting stuff develops.


How yoga humbled me. Again.

I had a run-in with my ego yesterday. Not sure who won.

Here's the situation:
Twice a week I take a Level 2-3 class at AYM with Allison. This intermediate class adds more challenging postures from the first and second series into the practice. As a dancer, Allison also likes to experiment with movements that explore how the body moves.

For the last few months however, the energy high that I usually leave the class with has slowly turned into post-practice bouts of anxiety, frustration and anger.

What I only admitted to myself yesterday is that the class is too advanced for me.

Structurally, my arms are short and my hips are tight, so many of the arm balances and bends we do are physically uncomfortable. And then there's the issue of my back end with its layer of extra insulation (ahem).

For example, buhjapidasana may be fun for some, but the only way I could get into it was if my legs were dislocated. I can inch my way into the preliminary posture, but as with many other postures we are encouraged to learn, my body will not cooperate beyond a certain point.

I'm just not there yet. I may never get there.

On Tuesday night, at the end of another frustrating practice, I wasted my whole savasana away wondering how I was going to lose 10lbs so that I could get into those perfect poses.

"Hello?" I interrupted my stream of thought, "Don't you practice yoga to reduce the monkey brain chatter? This practice isn't cutting citta vritti, it's feeding it."

So I think I need to take a break from Allison's classes for a while - at least until I can restore my pool of loving kindness. I will miss her and her methods, but here's the big problem:
  • How to tell my teacher - a woman I respect and admire - that I can't take her class anymore without feeling like a failure? Like I didn't try hard enough?
Allison will understand why, I know that much, but it's still going to be hard. I was loathe to mention this problem to anyone because I'm a yoga teacher so I should have already learned these lessons, right?

But what two kind, beautiful ladies reminded me of today is that the lesson (whatever it may be) will continue to be re-learned throughout life. What's important is my heart's openness to recognizing that feeling and then letting it go (with compassion) each and every time.


Knowing your writing process

I've been talking about writing a lot lately.

Not only because people want to know what I'll be doing over the next few months, but also because I want to know more about my writing process.

I intend to make this new venture a success, so I need to know as much as I can about my process. Having this information will help me to:
  • create a fair balance between freelance writing and creative writing
  • make optimal use of the time dedicated to creative writing
  • not put undue pressure on myself about creative output (or lack thereof)
When it comes to the creative process, I don't do outlines and I can't tell you how any story will end. I simply begin with a moment or character, and start writing from there. I make decisions as the story develops, usually by asking myself specific questions.
  • What would Character A do in this situation?
  • How would Character B react to this statement?
  • What happens next?
I trust in the process. If I let the questions sit for a few days, the answer will always appear. In the rare case that it doesn't, it usually means that the idea is not worth pursuing after all. This applies to the blog writing as well.

I'm also planning the writing according to my most creative hours of the day. That's why most afternoons between 2-5pm are dedicated to errand-running, email answering and napping.

So far it's been rolling along smoothly enough. My big struggle? Being patient when I want the answers to my questions and they're not finished brewing yet.

I'm really curious about your writing process. What works for you? What are you struggling with? I've started writing with another talented writer friend - have you attempted it? Did it help or hinder the process?