Friday, December 1, 2017

SO MUCH TO SAY

Hello friends,

I've been really letting this blog slide and I don't know what else to say other than that I am sorry. It's been a combination of things; my non dancing life has been busy. My second book is so close to having a release date. I've been writing another when I can squeeze it in. I have a new job (It's December so I guess it's not so new anymore) that I enjoy and thank God for everyday but it's also very time consuming. 

I think the more obvious (well to me, at least) reason for my lack of posting is that I hit a low point in my dancing. The most concise version of this story is as follows: I offered to teach a Saturday class to help my TC. My husband got upset that I would be doing something dance related 3 days a week. In an attempt to compromise, I dropped to only going to class once a week and met with my TC to run things when she could meet me. Well, I went from dancing 4-6 hours a week last year to getting 2-3 if I was lucky. The closer I got to the Oireachtas the worse it got. I was going to the hour and a half trad set class. My dancing was suffering. My mental game was non-existent. I went into my Oireachtas with low expectations, but I hoped to at least contend with how I did last year...

...I got last.

If you follow me on Tumblr you already know that I messed up. I know in the past I've compared dance to gymnastics, but now I know what an elite gymnast feels like when they are at the Olympics or Nationals or what have you and they fall off the beam or step out of bounds. I literally zoned out and missed one bang. The rest of it was strong. Everyone else was so good that despite having a hard set dance this year it wasn't enough. That was it for me, rock bottom. My mom actually asked me if I wanted to quit. She said she wouldn't blame me. "You work so hard and you're never rewarded. I would understand if you can't take it anymore." It hurt, and yes I was upset, but it was more that I was afraid to come home and tell everyone that I was empty handed, that I got last. Then I realized that I felt that way at every feis since I last wrote. That was a problem.

I love dancing. I love competing. Yet, at every feis I was angry at myself and my bad fortune. Not enough dancers. Got that Judge that hates my school AGAIN. I was so worked up and anxious and upset that I never danced as well as I did in class. Once again I had this epiphany that every feis or most competitions this was the case. I could make excuses about Jon or Nana or the girls I dance against but HOLY CRAP IT'S ME! I'm the one mucking thing ups! 

I posted over the summer about my mental health and how it scares me. I said I was aware of it then. I'm doing something about it now. I've always been anxious about things, but if it's holding me back and not letting me live (and dance) to my full potential, forget that. I talked with my TC today and she believes that this is not the end. I'm not just a grades dancer. I'm with her. But for that to happen, things have to change.

1) No more negativity. In an earlier post I was wearing a bracelet and switching it from one wrist to the other when I'd have a bad thought. I'm going to wear it again. I had my best results at a feis when I did that. A girl from my sister school does this and she world qualified today. If she can overcome her anxiety, so can I.
2) Get back into a structured class schedule. My husband isn't going to like it, but I need to get back to class two days a week. We're going to have to talk about it, but I'm hoping I'll be able to figure it out. I also told my TC no Saturday class next year. If I could get rid of it now I would. I'll report back on that.
3) Fresh Start: You know how sometimes you associate something with how well you are doing or aren't doing? Well, my red and black dress has to go. It's beautiful, but I feel like I'm wearing someone else's skin. It feels cursed. Bye.
4) Solos or No Oireachtas. No more Trad set. 8 girls two years in a row. I am perfectly okay with coming in last or close to last in Senior ladies because DUH, there are girls that have been dancing all their life in there. Trad Set continues to give me false hope (and stress). No more Trad Set.
5) Get Help. This is the part that scares me the most because I'm afraid I'll be stigmatized or that they'll tell me I need to be locked up, but I made an appointment to see a therapist. I think if I can find ways to deal with my frustrations and anxieties it will help across the board. It's almost funny; career wise, I'm the happiest I've been since getting a full time teaching job, I'd like to feel that way about everything in my life.
6) Stop comparing yourself to others. This is so hard but I'm hoping with time and help I'll be able to overcome this.

I dance Sunday and I'm trying to go in as mellow as possible. I usually have a game plan for this, but I'm going to try not thinking and see how that goes for once.

I solemnly swear that I will post more.

Kay

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Detours, Scenic Roads, and Unexpected Ventures

See what I did there? All those journey puns?

Don't worry, I'm still dancing. Honestly, I thought I had posted more recently, but I must have meant to post and just never sat down and did it. Stuff has been happening though!

East Durham Feis: I'm calling it. Favorite Feis. I just love how relaxed it is! It's a beautiful ride up and my mother always comes along. I danced early and we were home by the early afternoon. The best part of this day was that I was so relaxed that I got 2nd in both of my dances still in novice, missing first by one point!

Back to Trad Set: Since I teach a baby beginner class on Saturdays now, my TC has been awesome enough to give me free privates when she can meet me. Honestly, I think it's been so beneficial because we can really pick apart things that need work and I'm not stressed out because of x, y, or z. Well...we discovered that even though I was on track for solos...I technically wasn't qualified for them. I needed prizewinner firsts not novice ones, but I'm not too hung up about it. With my schedule this year, I do not think I would have been adequately ready. I'm back in Trad set and while it will be a small group again, I'm doing The Three Sea Captains this year and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I love how technical it is and it makes me proud because I feel that I've learned so much since last year when I was doing Jockey!

IAA of NW NJ Feis: I didn't do so well at this one. This was completely my fault. I made the conscious decision to go to a party at a friends house the night before. While I wasn't hung over or anything like that, I ended up only getting about four hours of sleep. I was cranky and tired and by hornpipe I was done. I ended up leaving early because I knew it was going to be disastrous. Despite being in the car for almost as long as I was there I was happy for a few things. 1) I got forth in trad set in the prizewinner group. 2) I got a 3rd in slip jig 3)I would have won treble jig had there not been three boys 4)mini doughnuts.

New England Autumn Feis: Even though my results were not ideal, I still thought I brought my best that day. I got a third in my slip jig even though I was convinced it was the slip jig of a life time (we finally fixed what we think might be holding me back. Looking forward to trying it out.) I also got 5th in trad set in the prizewinner group again. I'm hoping as I get more confident the placements will get higher. I also had a great day with my dance family.

Those are the big things. We found out yesterday that I've been doing clicks wrong for almost 4 years (kicking the first leg higher than the second) but I'm hoping now that that's out of the way it will help get my treble jig out. My TC and I discussed that we may just focus on Slip Jig, Treble Jig, and Trad set until they are flawless (even though the first two have felt that way for a while. I guess there's always room for more!) Oh I got a new bun wig too! It's not too exciting, just a closer match to my hair color!

Okay, That's it for me,

Kay

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Dongan Feis, An Injury, Two Camps, and a New Mindset

Hello,

So much to report! Let's stick with dance stuff for now. :)

Dongan Feis: Can I just start by saying that this place was so cool? Approaching it from the highway and seeing "the egg" was quite the sight and I've never been somewhere that was a) so huge (I literally practiced in a wing by myself and b) so organized. They had all the grades stages run at once and had the musicians just crank all the reels out before moving onto the next dance. They also had results, vendors, and professional pictures all in the same room as the dancing. It was really neat. I went solo because honestly, if I don't go by myself sometimes, I would never feis. Luckily, there were people from my school and I got to see some of my Prelim friends that I met at CRC.

Results wise, I ended up snagging a third in slip jig. I'd tried to do this new thing where I pretended that the judge was in love with me and that my first was guaranteed. Slip jig was my first dance and I feel like it really helped my confidence. The girl I danced with even said she thought I had it in the bag because the judge was watching me. Then I started to get anxious about who I had for a judge and if they were watching me and though I didn't have any major issues, I didn't get any other placements. That and did my new hornpipe steps for the first time in a very small group of really good prizewinners. One of them looked like she could have danced at Nationals "look wise". I left feeling a little disappointed, but still satisfied.

The Injury: That night, I felt a pain in the side of my foot and it seemed to get worse and worse as the weekend went on. With dance camps and Oireachtas season beginning I didn't want to mess around so I went to see an Orthopedic doctor. My first doctor took x-rays and put me in a boot for three weeks. I will be honest and tell you that I only wore the boot for two weeks before I felt like other parts of my feet and shin began to hurt so I went back to wearing two shoes. It felt better to wear shoes and roll it out. I followed up with a new podiatrist today and she thinks I might have tweaked something at Dongan because I had relaced my shoes and tied them really tight. Regardless, I'm SO relieved!

Dance Camp Week One: The first week I helped my TC out with "little kid camp". I'm teaching more classes this year so we thought it would be good to get a head start. I ended up working with some of the Novice dancers on technique and taught a brand new group of hard shoe dancers how to do a treble jig step. I also helped her with a class of brand new baby dancers all of which registered for the fall! The last day my TC had to catch a flight to Texas so I was in charge of 30 girls but we all survived.

Dance Camp Week Two: I attended my own Oireachtas boot camp last week. In someways, I am incredibly proud of how it went. I now have everything I need for my three rounds and learned how to do some cool leaps that I never thought I'd be able to do. I also made new relationships and strengthened several I already had. However, I felt really intimidated by being the lowest ranked person in the solo group and I totally headcased. It was not pretty.

Looking Forward: One of the things that we did at camp was watch videos with a sports psychologist. He works with Olympic Athletes etc. He suggested wearing a bracelet and that every time you have a negative thought to switch it to your other wrist. I've been doing it for about a week and I'm actually surprised. I'm not moving my bracelet as much as I thought I would and I'm starting to figure out what makes me have negative thoughts (THE OIREACHTAS) I'd like for this to be better someday, but for now I'm aware and it's making me think about my attitude.

I had a private lesson today that also helped my morale and outlook. All my feis steps are solid and my TC sees improvement. My rounds are in good shape (I have a weird new thing in my 3rd hornpipe step) and my TC seems happy.

I've decided that I'm done worrying about placements. No more "pretend I already won", "pretend I'm already in prelim", or "pretend the judge is in love with me". I'm not going to worry about girls in brand new Gavins or girls that have toe stands in novice. I'm not going to watch the other dancers at all. I am going to go to a feis and just enjoy myself. There have been moments where I ask myself why I dance since it brings stress to my life (JB hating it mostly) but it's the way I feel when I learn something new, when I get a jump the champ girls do in their steps, or the way I feel when I'm all dolled up waiting to dance. That's why I know I'm not done and I won't be done for a long time. Now to just remember why I started (Not trophies, but because it looked like fun) and the rest will fall into place.

Bye,

Kay

Thursday, July 27, 2017

An interruption from your scheduled programming...but it needs to be said.

I want to talk about mental health.

Almost a week ago, I lost one of my adolescent/teenage idols. Chester Bennington was the singer in Linkin Park, a band that I don't really remember how I learned about (I'm assuming it was when In The End must have been on the radio) but for at least five years they were my obsession. I had their albums including the remixes and the live shows, I had posters and tee shirts, and when I was in middle school, I used to write Chester's last name on my fingers because I wanted the world to know that I was a fearless bad ass like him when in reality I was an eclectic little girl trying to find myself. There were times I was ridiculed for it, but I found comfort in their uniqueness, They were singing and screaming and rapping all the things I wanted to say but couldn't. Chester had this voice captivated you, and his scream, it could give you goosebumps. He was 41. 


I received the news of his death in a text message. The best word to describe it was shock. He was nothing short of successful. He had a beautiful wife and six children. At first I tried to understand why he'd give all that up. The more I've read about him, the more I learned that despite of all these things he was a tortured soul and unfortunately those demons get the better of him. Suddenly, going back and listening to all those songs made my heart ache because there was more meaning to those songs than any of us knew. How could we have let it happen when it was right in front of us?

I've watched several youtube videos of Chester since Thursday. In many of the clips he seemed happy and thrilled about the world around him. But something about it seemed off, there were times when it seemed forced. Honestly, it reminded me of my friend Dave. Dave's been gone for two years now and there were many times when I would hang out with him that he'd seem so happy and wacky that we'd all kind of exchange glances and shrug. Sometimes I wonder if Chester and his friends had moments like that and I wonder if they wish they'd asked how he was doing like I wish I'd talked to Dave in the end.

There is literally not a day that I don't think about you.
I guess what I'm trying to say, and what's been on my mind is that this is making me question my own mental health. I find myself trying to hide what I'm really feeling sometimes. There are days when I'm tired, that I didn't do anything but I have no desire to do anything but rest. I have days where I'm trying to get the world around me to laugh because it distracts how awkward I feel. There are days where I wear a soft smile but I'm literally screaming on the inside. I know there are people and things that add to my stress and people and things that raise me up (like dance!) I get accused of trying to escape from reality, but I feel like if I don't things would probably be worse. I don't know what that means for me at this point, but I think the fact that I'm self aware is a set in the right direction.

In conclusion, know it's okay to not be okay. But don't keep it in. Write about it, sing about it, ask for help. If you notice that someone seems off, talk to them. Be kind. I work with someone that everyone laughs when he's in a good mood. "Oh, he must be on his meds again. He must have had sex today." NO MORE. You never know what someone is going through. Please help.

Be good,

Kay

Sunday, July 9, 2017

So many things...but mostly still not in Prelim

HI EVERYONE!

LIFE IS INSANE! Let me give you a rundown!

-Did not get my contract renewed. I'd call out my former boss on this blog, but since I'm supposed to be a role model and what not, I will hold back. Let me just say, pure evil exists, everyone. As mad as I am, it's really for the best.
-I had another job for two weeks and lack of state funding caused it to be cancelled so back to the drawing board.
-My book has been out for about a month and everyone's support has been amazing! If you haven't already checked it out, It's Enshrine by Kay Bennson!
-My summer has been reading, writing, watching Hulu, applying for jobs, and working at the grocery store, which might become my only job depending on how things go. (Pros and cons to this. May discuss later)
-My summer has also been physical therapy for my elbow. But I think that's winding down.

Okay, dance stuff because things have happened since my last post and I kept on meaning to write about it but I also just submitted another book to my publisher, so apologies. :)

#1 United Irish Counties Feis

Mid Atlantic Region friends: I LOVE FEISING IN NEW YORK! I don't know what it is, maybe it's different judges, or different faces, or just the fact that many competitions are closer to me than driving to Massachusetts, but whatever it is, I always seem to do well at New York competitions. I went to the United Irish Counties Feis in Yonkers and had a really great day. I ended up getting a 3rd in my prizewinner reel and was one point from 2nd. Not surprisingly, I got a third in Treble jig (because I LIVE FOR MEDIOCRITY!) and the thrill of the day was getting second in Slip jig and being ONE FREAKING POINT from first. I had my favorite judge for this dance and I tried to play up my inner princess (you know since I'm supposed to be a Stark). I was just out of placing for hornpipe (There was a phenomenal boy) They gave out huge trophies and I was so excited and motivated.
This is what I visualize when I'm standing in line...or when I'm walking around Big Y HAHA


#2. New Haven Feis

Remember how I wasn't sure if I'm going to do the Gray Feis next year? Well, I feel the same way about this one. I'm always like "I should really go to Heritage." Then the sensible me (i.e. the me that doesn't want to fight with my husband) goes "Nah, Just drive to North Haven. You'll do great!" It's so hot, it's so dusty. The stages get slippery from said dust. Anyway, it did not go as well as the previous feis. I totally bombed reel, I blame myself for not practicing it and then kind of spacing out. People said it looked good, but I was screaming internally because it was so off. I ended up getting 4th. On the other hand, I thought I killed my hornpipe and no placement. Same with slip jig. I was convinced I had it in the bag, I did the whole Sansa thing and NO PLACEMENT (girl judge? I'm trying to find the correlation here.) I got another 3rd in treble jig, though. *Screams into void*  Left that feis kind of feeling low and annoyed with myself (my TC wants the novice dances out before the O...no pressure) Sort of came to an epiphany that I'm going to have to bust my ass even more and maybe result to witchcraft to get those dances out of Novice. That, and someone please make me sign up for Heritage next year!

I look like a whale in this picture, but my dress was Jess's dress first. We've been joking that she's wearing my next dress.

#3 I LEARNED MY SET

That's right guys, I have a set. Novice dances dependent, depending on how many people in the new age group dependent, I may get to dance it on stage at the Oireachtas. It's Rodney's Glory (SO HAPPY!) and I have been jokingly calling it Robb-ney's glory (again, the whole Stark thing). It's pretty much my hornpipe steps with an extra four bars of awesomeness at the end. It's really been like killing two birds with one stone while practicing too which I will take!

So that's it for what you've missed since I last posted. I'm dancing at the Dongan Feis next weekend (Yah New York! Good luck Good Luck!) I practiced a long time today and plan on continuing this week. I'd like to see my TC (she's still in NOLA for Nationals) before Saturday and my boot camp starts in about a month. 

Still hoping that I will have exciting news for you. That I'll be dancing on a big stage soon, but until then...trying to keep the positive. I think I'm going to start going into these practices and competitions with a relatively new mindset. I'd share more on that, but I don't want to sound like a crazy person...yet.

Hope you are all well :)

Kay

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Really Long Post

I feel like I do so well with posting regularly...and then I fall off the face of the earth for a month. I'll be honest, some things in my personal life were putting a damper on my dance life and I hate when that happens. That is what is so hard about doing this at now 28 (*sobs*) If I had been doing this at 14 or 18 I don't think I'd have the same stresses in my life. But I can't be regretful about that because I would not have my TC, my friends, or my dance family. I hate to quote Miley Cryus...but it's the climb, right?

Here's a quick run down about some of the annoyances in my life:

-My job...I don't kiss butt enough so I'm probably looking for a new job.
-My husband...as I said in a previous entry, we are in a down swing, folks. Has told me that "people talk about me" and that "people are nice to my face, but they think I'm pathetic." This actually had me acting pretty emo for a bit, but I've come to the conclusion that he's jealous of my success. That, and it's an expensive thing that constantly grates him the wrong way when he see me leaving with my sparkly crystal covered dress, fake hair, and handmade shoes (which I think already need to be replaced *sobs again*) it just reminds him of other more useful things I could be using my money on. I get it, but support my quirkiness...PLEASE?
-My elbow...most of you know that I fell down a flight of stairs at work about two weeks ago. If you don't...I fell down a flight of stairs at work almost two weeks ago. I had to leave work to go to the walk in. They thought it was broken...luckily it isn't they are hoping badly bruised or muscles, but I was in a cast for a week and a half, I was out for work for that long too. Couldn't drive, couldn't dance. I ended up dancing in my show case last night because the doctor wants me to move get back to moving it and there were numbers that would not have been able to perform had I not danced. However, I missed both May competitions because I was afraid of falling/ getting bumped. Thus I am now 28 with dances still in Novice. People around me are winning and close to Prelim. I'm trying not to get annoyed or discouraged, but I'm hoping the down swing is coming to a end.

Not an annoyance but the upcoming release of my book has also been a time sucker but at least it is something positive and exciting going on to counteract that giant blurb of things that were annoying.

Okay, There were two April competitions that I didn't blog about. The first was Horgan almost exactly a month ago. This one is low key, but always is long because they do all age novice soft shoe, then all ages novice hard shoe, so and so forth. Since I'm in the oldest age group, I'm always the last dance of the day. Plenty of time to rest in between dances and I had a pretty good day. I ended up wearing my school dress the entire day since my mom and TC were not there and I placed in 3 of my 4 dances. I got 3rd in the two novice dances and a fourth in reel. Once again, I thought my hornpipe went really well and I didn't get anything.

The following weekend I went to the Gray School Feis and I'm debating on going back next year. I just don't seem to do well at it. I was lucky to have my mother with me, but I only ended up getting a third in treble jig and I think it was generous because the musician played the jig SO SLOW that nearly all of us had an issue with it. The girl I danced with in reel rolled her ankle and I was unable to get around her. I thought the other two went well and I was just out of placing in them. I also tried on a long wig and it looked awesome! I'm hoping to buy it when I get to Prelim/Oireachtas this year. I'd say sooner but I'll get to that.


Yesterday was my 2nd Showcase with SRL and I thought it was a great time. My pre-beginners all danced without being scared, all of the dances I was in went off without a hitch and the best part was I won a scholarship so I can attend summer camp for free. I had to write an essay about how the summer program helps us for Oirerachtas. I  hoped to get it but wasn't sure because of my age that it would be possible. I will also be assisting at the lower level camp too!

Okay, now here was the part of the post where I was supposed to tell you that I'm motivated and I practiced for an hour today and how hard I'm going to work to accomplish my goals going forward. Well, in the middle of this post my lovely husband told me "You can't sign up for any more competitions until you have a new job." Look, I know where he's coming from. There is a very good chance that I will not be have my contract renewed and I know he doesn't want us to lose our house or whatever. It just sucks. Like I feel like a crazy person because I have these goals and I'm so upset about not being able to compete. As it is, I'm upset that I didn't accomplish my goal of being a full prizewinner by my 28th birthday. Now I may not get to feis again until who knows. I know in someways this isn't bad. I'll have time to perfect my steps, but I just wish he'd be sensitive to my feelings, and maybe find proactive ways to help me instead of just making me upset about the things that bring me joy.

Anyone know of full time work? Seriously...

Kay

Monday, April 10, 2017

Prelim or Bust Part Two: Hansen Keohane Feis

Do you ever have one of those days where you wake up and you're just like: "Nope."?  Well, that was what Sunday was like for me. I knew before I even woke up that this was not going to be the day that all my dreams came true, but I figured what the hell, maybe I'd be pleasantly surprised.

I had a dream the night before the feis that I misplaced my shoes and I roamed all over the feis venue trying to find them, I ended up missing my dances and was very upset, so even though that wasn't real, it definitely set the tone for the day. Then I stopped at the bank to get cash and thought I locked myself in the lobby vestibule and panicked. Haha I'm not kidding. I couldn't get the door to open for like fifteen seconds. The scariest 15 seconds of my life.

The feis itself was not bad. It was two hour ride and I went alone so while I was very calm with my tunes as I was driving in, it was sort of a pain in the ass to get ready without my mom or TC. There was a girl from my school that danced in a different room and I didn't want to rely on her mother so I had very nice random moms ask if I needed help instead. The stages were large and they rotated judges after every dance and the groups were not super large like last weekend. But as I said, it was not my best go. I always seem to have unfortunate luck and I get sick when I have competitions or you know the OIREACHTAS (I legit slept 13 hours today. I don't know if was feis hangover, this cold I'm fighting, or both) but my body just didn't feel right as I was standing in line.

Reel was a mess, it was frantic. Even my 2nd step that I think redeems the not perfected bits of my lead was off. I danced my slip jig on my own and thought it was a good go but no placement. Treble Jig was just okay. The tune had a weird feel to it and the other girl actually had trouble with coming in at the right time so I don't think it was just me. I may go back to wearing my school dress for these two dances because I haven't placed since I've started wearing just the solo. I wonder if the judges expect better dancing when they see me (It was an open champ's dress before I bought it) and then I'm a let down. We'll have to see what happens at Horgan.

Hornpipe had the potential to be great. In fact, when I started I was like "OH? Today might be the day for this one." It was confident, I was louder than the other girl, I hit all my small clicks, my big click was high. Things were going great until my second step where I slide on my heel and I slipped. I recovered well and I didn't stop. I would say that I even finished strongly. I felt very "meh" about the whole day (besides being done after like 30-45 minutes that was nice) So much so that when results finally came out I thought I didn't get anything.

I don't know how I missed it the first time, maybe I didn't see that there were placements for 4th but I tried to be positive about it. I didn't cry. I was more disappointed that I drove all that way and got up so early to not get anything, but I've been trying so hard to not get down about this whole trapped in the grades thing. So many of my friends that are champs were in the grades for a lot longer than me so it feels like I'm being a brat for being so annoyed about it. I told my classmate I'd wait for her results before I left, but then something was telling me to look again. I'm glad I did because otherwise I wouldn't have saw that I got 4th in hornpipe. While I wish it was higher, I'm grateful that the judge saw the potential in it. If I hadn't slipped I'd like to believe that it would have been higher.

So yes, I'm still a grades dancer. I'm coming to the conclusion that my goal of being a full prizewinner by age 28 might not happen. I'm trying really hard to be positive and calm but I was definitely placing better when I was freaking out before the Oireachtas. I don't plan on being that way because I don't want to feel burnt out again. On the plus side, I can't believe I'm already placing in prizewinner dances. Trying to find that silver lining!

Nothing this weekend because of Easter but the following weekend I'll be back at a Horgan Feis!

Bye,

Kay