Welcome to 2014! I hope you all had a beautiful and bright New Year . . . and that the post-holiday crash hasn’t put you in a shopping coma, psychotherapy, debt, or all the above. 😛
The big buzzword this time of year (don’t roll your eyes!) is, of course, resolutions. Instead of just creating a huge list of things I will either start or stop doing simply because January first has rolled around, I decided to create intentions, or themes, for the year 2014. (Anyone else feel like 2013 was too awesome to end and grieving?)
One of my themes is “Love your body.” This encompasses huge realms of daily practices, such as “alkalizing and energizing” (healthy food!), keeping fit, sleeping enough (and for me, earlier), and all around feeling yummy with the gift that is my body. This is important, I believe, for everyone, especially women, who so often go around hating on their bodies — but it’s particularly meaningful to me because I still deal on an everyday basis with a post-stroke body. (Read about that here.)
Anyway, as part of the team at a boudoir studio, I felt compelled to share my insights with you for at least the month of January, to perhaps inspire you to do the same. After all, we are all more likely to achieve our goals when we are held accountable for them!
The first “love your body” endeavor I’ve taken on this year is (drumroll, please!) ballroom dance lessons! You may have seen promotions on our Facebook page or even this blog for our partners, Get on the Floor.
I had my first experience with them brushing up on some salsa skills here in the studio at our last Love Feast event. (I’m working on getting another Love Feast on the calendar — they’re so darn fun!) Apparently, the raffle gods really smile on me when I’m in the studio, because not only did I win my first (and fateful) boudoir shoot with Argentina at the 2012 Shoes & Schmooze open house, but I ended up winning a complimentary private lesson with Get on the Floor.
My boyfriend Anthony and I rarely, if ever, go dancing. At the time of this post, we’ve only had two lessons (we’re on our way to the third in less than an hour as I write), and we attended one Get on the Floor event last weekend, which was so much fun. (So, technically, not in 2014, but I think it counts.)
I should probably explain. In my childhood and adolescence, I was an enthusiastic dancer. I wasn’t classically trained like Debbie, but I was on a poms squad and my favorite school events were almost always dancing ones (never missed a homecoming — dance, that is — or turnabout). My freshman year at U of I, I found the only downtown dance club that admitted 19-year-olds, and I arranged frequent outings to the place. Aww, yeah.
But after the paralysis from the stroke, I spent the next few years too embarrassed and self-conscious to even try. I didn’t even realize what I’d been unconsciously missing until Kiana, a dancer herself, encouraged me to go to a Zumba class with her, several years later. I kind of freaked out: What if I looked stupid? What if I couldn’t keep up? Should I pull the instructor aside prior to class and warn her?
But part of me felt excited, too. I hadn’t allowed myself to dance in forever, and as my body improved function, I had found myself shimmying in the privacy of my own home to music that really grabbed me in the moment. Movement was getting a little easier — absolutely not close to perfect, but it felt right. So I forced myself to go to Zumba.
It was really challenging to keep in step with everyone at first, but what I soon realized while shaking my hips to the Latin beats was that no one was looking. Every single person Zumba-ing in that gym studio was staring at him or herself in the mirror, doing their best to keep up. I didn’t need to be so self-conscious at all.
After the first class, I felt like I’d finally opened a pair of folded wings! I was free again! It wasn’t pretty, but I went back the next week . . . and the next . . . and the one after that. Before I knew it, I’d built up the muscle memory to effectively follow the class. And then, I found myself attending my gym’s choreographed hip hop class, which was even cooler because it had the nostalgic feel of my old poms squad.
But up until this point, I had never really had much taste of what it’s like to dance with a partner. My evolution as a dancer had been very centered on myself, my body, my space. With the exception of a brief stint of group salsa lessons with a friend back in high school, I’d had virtually no experience dancing with a partner save for your run-of-the-mill awkward middle and high school back-and-forth swaying.
I was very active in the international community at my university, so I’d met some people who were passionate about ballroom — tango in particular — and last year, I met a woman who teaches tango on the far North Side. She told me tango (and subsequently, most likely all ballroom) can be very helpful in physical rehabilitation and regaining coordination because of the extra awareness you must have in your body for the movements and your partner’s cues.
So as soon as I won that free introductory lesson at Get on the Floor, I figured, why the heck not? This could be a great way to get in touch with my body in a whole new way — not to mention, my boyfriend’s!
I’ll keep you all posted on the progress of my “love your body” campaign. I plan to report back on my experience in the ballroom, on healthy recipes, exercise adventures, and whatever manifests in my journey to love my body this year (like, say, my next boudoir shoot!). I hope it inspires you! Tell me, what are your resolutions this year? Leave a comment below!
For information on Get on the Floor’s introductory lessons, visit this link.
- Rehab Revolution
- Get on the Floor Dance Co. on Facebook
- Debbie’s Dance with Diabetes
- Kiana Embraces Her Curves