Monthly Archives: May 2012

Pacific Pole Championships 2012

Whew! This is going to be a crazy long post, so strap yourselves in and be prepared to have your butt numbed! I’ll pick up where I left off on the day before the competition:

After arriving early to the hotel, we had a lot of time to relax and do whatever, so we explored the hotel itself, then ran out to get food for my boyfriend (I had eaten what we’re called The Forty Dollar Salad, because with room service fees and whatnot, that’s about what we paid for my lunch/dinner right after we arrived). Upon our return to the hotel, he was such a good sport and cleared out of the room so I could rehearse.

Let me tell you, I did NOT want to rehearse. I mean, I DID, because I was so nervous and felt terrible about where it was all at, but it was like pulling teeth to get me to do it. :-) Still, I set my stuff up and ran through it over and over again in the space next to the bed. With no pole, I focused on improving the floor work (read: sticking to the same moves) and strengthening character. I did that thing you should never do, which is add choreography. Whenever I would get to the pole runs, I would mimic the movement while laying on the floor (or whatever was closest to the move itself). I spent about an hour and a half doing this, over and over again, as well as looking up Cheshire Cat quotes (the actor in me wanted some character analysis). By the time my boyfriend came back, I was ready for bed, and he blessedly went to bed with me – a good 3 hours before either of us normally goes to sleep. :-)

I slept okay until 2am, when I woke up suddenly and decidedly. Nothing but strange dreams after that, but when the alarm went off at 5:30am, I dutifully got my ass up by 5:45 to get started with the day. First order of business: head down for food. Stopped in the lobby Starbucks for some oatmeal and caffeine (yay Iced Chai Latte!), then realized it was still too early to get into the venue to rehearse, so I went back upstairs to the room and proceeded to do some warm up stretches while eating and checking my phone…in the tiny hallway to our bathroom, so the light wouldn’t wake up my boyfriend. At 6:25am, I headed back down to the venue and was the third girl in the door to rehearse. It was interesting to see everyone trickle in and begin to stretch, then slowly gravitate toward the poles. :-) I would venture to say that polers aren’t often on the poles at that hour of the day!

I stayed at rehearsal until Kat showed up, then we ran back up to the room so I could shower before hair and makeup. She came down with me to the rehearsal room, which is where hair and makeup were being done as well – such a good sport! My appointments took longer than I thought only because they were already backed up, so we got back up to start the rest of my costume later than intended…which meant that I was LATE to my category! (Thank you to Bonnie for that message, telling me to get my ass to the stage!) By then, Kat was wrapping up the last elements of my costume, and my friend Amanda had arrived to see me as well – she and Jarad were documenting what they could with various phones.

I ran to the venue, entourage in tow (teehee – that just makes me laugh). By the time I got there, there were only two girls left before me, so I actually didn’t have that much time to be terrified. I ran my routine in my head, moved around a bit – because standing still just meant that I was trembling, so better to move with purpose – and put on my grip, of course! I did some stretching and breathing to get centered, and next thing I knew…it was my turn.

Stepping out on that stage was something else. I’m an actor, so I know what it is to be up and have to perform, but there was a moment as I walked out that I very nearly burst into tears from all of the energy I was carrying with me. I really do think that the actor in me took over at that point. There was a moment before I went out, as I stood beside the stage, that I often have just before I do something I’ve worked on or do something where I have to jump right in…it’s a very clear moment of pulling out of my head, looking at the space and saying, “Fuck it. Let’s do this.”

By the time I sat down to start my routine, that part of me had won out over the crying part – thank god! I don’t remember the entire routine, but I remember pieces:

*realizing as I looked into the audience during my opening choreography that people were watching me – and that I had locked eyes with some poor guy, because I made the choice to disengage so as to not throw myself off AND not freak him out
*After my opening spin, realizing I was early to climb and improvising a bow to fill time
*Very much remembering the first piece of choreo that I added the night before, which was my second bow from up on the pole
*The terrifying-as-shit slip of my anchor hand while getting into my jasmine – I caught myself right away, but it scared the shit out of me. STILL – I kept going, and recognized in the moment that my only choice was to continue as if nothing had happened
*Knowing I wasn’t facing properly for my pike, but continuing anyway
*Slipping as I came down off of the spinning pole after my first spin and having to do my best to cover for it – I flat out fell the last six inches, I think because I rushed it (I certainly had no problems with it in any rehearsal, but adrenaline kicks in and you never know what will happen!)
*Realizing that the spinning pole was slippery enough that I didn’t think I could cllimb as high as I wanted to climb, so getting into what was to be my finale move – a plank – and realizing I had most of the final chorus left in the song…and having to improvise! The next two moves were things I’d considered for choreo, but not really rehearsed much. I’ve done the Scorpion maybe three times ever, and that splay from the plank came from a move I saw Zoraya do – I had been playing with it in practices, but took it out for time.

It was SO quick – the entire thing was so much faster than I expected, and when I was done, I was just happy I hadn’t totally and utterly fucked up. I felt good, despite the mistakes I caught – because, naturally, my brain picks out THOSE things to remember, instead of something beautiful. People were so kind when I got off stage, which was very much appreciated!

I threw on my makeshift cover up (my long cardigan and my boyfriend’s pajama pants) and ran out to find my friends. I feel like an idiot describing their reactions, but fuck it: they seemed so excited and were telling me how awesome it was, because they are awesome friends. Kat, who has been helping me with choreo and costume and other such stuff related to the event, gave me a really honest review – that, when I left our dress rehearsal on Thursday, she would have said I wouldn’t have placed – but watching my performance in the actual event, she thought I had a real shot. (And, for the record, I wasn’t offended – she’s right about that rehearsal, and I well knew it.)

We sat and watched the end of my category, as well as some of the category after mine (Level 3 Artistic Entertainment – excellent, hilarious performances!). I looked up to see Bonnie, who was announcing the morning performers, looking at me. She was so sweet and sent me a lot of love right then – I have to say, it was such a good feeling to know that there was so much love in the room. Between her, my friends, and the other gals from The Pole Garage that were present, as well as the strangers that reached out to give me support or compliments in passing, it was a friendly room. Anyway, after watching for a while, Jarad, Kat and Amanda insisted we go out to see if the results had been posted. I was more in favor of avoiding it and being happy with being done and having performed well overall. However, I went over with them and found out that I had placed third!

They were so excited – Kat had the responsibility of texting Drea, since my phone died – and we got photos of the ranking sheet/scores. I’m still a little, “Oh my god, really?!?! That’s so cool!!” about it. It was secretly my hope – I didn’t think I’d ever take first, but I really did just want to take third. :-)

There was a whole lot of other stuff going on at that point, including us having to check out of the hotel, and me having to get the Medal Ceremony and winner photos taken care of before I ran off to my audition – oh, yes, I think I forgot to mention that I received a notice of a commercial audition right after arriving to the hotel on Friday, originally scheduled for 10:30am on Saturday. I called my agents and got the ok to arrive by 1pm, so I could try to get out of costume in time to be there. With Amanda driving me, I ripped off my lovely stripes, wiped off the face makeup and lipstick, and removed my amazing glittery false eyelashes. I still looked insane for the audition – I had no makeup remover powerful enough to take off the stage makeup, so my eyes were still in Cheshire Cat colors (at stage intensity). I put on my glasses to try to block some of it from the camera. I also had no clothing with me at the hotel that fit the bill (corporate boardroom), so I did my best in hot pink ultrasuede platform heels, a black cotton skirt, a white tank top, and my long teal cardigan over it. I must have looked ridiculous! But, eh, fuck it – they’ll like me or they won’t. I showed up, which a lot of actors wouldn’t have done in the same situation!

Amanda took me back to the competition afterward – Jarad had gone to meet friends, and Kat had other commitments – so we got to hang out and watch some more performances. It was a lot of fun to see so many different styles! It was such an interesting lesson in what works well, how personality can come through, etc. We got to see our fellow Pole Garage girl, Erin, perform – she took second in her category! (Overall, the ladies of The Pole Garage did well – 3 out of 4 placed in their categories, and everyone did PG proud with the strength and beauty of their work – way to represent!)

One of the things I really loved about the event was seeing all of the different women – ladies of all shapes, sizes, ages, looks – and how each one brought something different to their dance. I love that pole can be so inclusive to so many types of people, and it was SO much fun to watch the various performances! I also want to point out that the group was really supportive overall – people I didn’t know came up to tell me that they liked my performance, and I know I grabbed performers in passing to compliment them. I loved seeing moves I hadn’t seen before (seriously, Miyoko did something that I can’t even break down mentally, but the three of us pole gals in a row gasped when we saw it). I feel like this was SUCH a rewarding experience on so many levels, and that it was a truly beautiful way to be introduced to what it is to be in a competition. Thank you to Amy and Bayleigh for creating the event and running it smoothly!

Over the course of the day, I received messages from all manner of friends, family, acquaintances, etc, wishing me luck and congratulating me on the results! I don’t know that I could recall each and everyone one of them, but every message meant the world to me. THANK YOU!

I’d also like to take a second to send out some special love and thanks to Drea from my pole home, The Pole Garage, for the time she spent helping me over the last few weeks – her advice, guidance, and instruction really helped me and had a major impact on my routine and the day of the event. More love and thanks to Kat of Pure Delish for her belief that I could do this, her endless support, and all of her ideas – she choreographed the opening 30 seconds and helped me fine-tune the entire routine, AND she helped me pull together my costume. Speaking of, thank you to Xotic Eyes for my bitchin’ Cheshire Cat stripes (custom dyed!) and Happy Hoodie Friends for my custom made Cheshire Cat tail! I also owe a big thank you to USPDF 2011 Champion Natasha Wang for her helpful tips about my routine! Thank you to ALL of the ladies at The Pole Garage, for not only the love and support, but also putting up with me crashing your classes for the last two weeks, so I could get in extra rehearsal time (We celebrated in my usual night with Champagne and Cupcakes – and, naturally, a lap dance, because that’s how Monday Night rolls)! Last but not least, thank you to Bonnie for her continued support and her joy for the journey; Amanda and Kat for coming out to support me the day of the event; and a very special thank you to Jarad, for putting up with weeks of his girlfriend running off to rehearsals, obsessively talking about pole, being moody and depressed and anxious at times, and of being the best sport ever the night before/day of the event. My performance was the first time he’d seen me dance in person! He was endlessly loving and supportive throughout this journey, even taking a trip to Downtown Disney to hunt for Cheshire Cat stuff for me – between him and Kat, and the performance in general, I now have a little shrine to The Most Mischievous Kitteh Evar.

I will post some photos, but the professional shots and video will be coming later – excited to see them! I was back in class yesterday, and my body is still a little tired (wrists/forearms), but I was able to hold my twisted handgrip aerial pencil and ayesha pretty well, which is great – it’s such a slow progression, but it’s getting better, and I’m hopeful I’ll be able to lock them both in the next month! I have other conditioning to work on in the meantime – oh, pole! There’s always something more! :-)

Pacific Pole Championships 2012 (a brief update)

I need to do a proper post when I have some time, but for now, I’ll give you this photo:

Pacific Pole Championships 2012: 3rd Place in Artistic Dramatic Level 2

Thank you to everyone for all of the love and support through this journey. I look forward to posting more photos of the event itself (plus my experiences with it, of course), as well as my continuing journey with pole! xoxoxox

Once again, with flourish

My boyfriend and I arrived early at the hotel, having booked a room tonight, in order to make my early performance tomorrow a little less tiring. The hotel is nice, and our room is lovely – ordered insanely priced room service (salmon salad is a winner!) and have been relaxing for a while.

This might fall under TMI, but it made me laugh: I walked into the bathroom a few minutes ago and, as I sat down to pee, I caught myself doing hand flourishes reminiscent of ones I have in my routine. I pee fancy!

I am stressing so much about the little things I desperately want to fix in my routine, so much so that I am having wild thoughts of adjusting choreo (bad idea). That being said, there has been a lot of love and support coming my way from my friends and acquaintances. I am so appreciative of it all!

Look for more updates throughout tonight and tomorrow! Here is a pic of some of my lists related to the competition…I make lists when I am anxious. :-)

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Some ugly truths…and untruths

This quote came across my Twitter feed today, from a Portland-based actress that I follow: “Sometimes when things fall apart, they may be actually falling into place.”

Perhaps it struck me so much because I had my own little meltdown today and generally feel like things are falling down around my ears. It’s the result of being really overwhelmed, in addition to being over-tired, filled with fun hormones (oh, being a lady can suck sometimes), and being the type of person who is really, really hard on herself.

I hadn’t felt nerves about the competition until Tuesday. I woke up in a mild state of panic. It was not yet to the “cling to the bed” stage, where I can’t force myself to get up because the anxiety is so overwhelming, but it was definitely present. Still, I got my ass up and went to my private lesson with Drea. It was a good hour and a half. Calming for sure, and we worked on things in a way that wasn’t too intense – I felt capable, like I got things accomplished, but like I still had work to do. So, I took it as a successful experience overall.

Tuesday night, I got a much-needed massage to try to free up some of my strength. My forearms lock up almost every rehearsal, even when I’ve barely used them, which is a sign to me that something is out of alignment. The massage helped, even though it wasn’t exactly restful – I was so tight through my shoulders and arms that there was a lot of pain involved, and my brain wouldn’t shut off, but I still felt better when I left.

Wednesday was such a long day that it didn’t feel like I had any time to breathe and relax, which was the entire point of taking it off from rehearsal (and, of course, to give my muscles a break after the massage). I think it set me up to have an exhausting day today, too.

Upon arriving at rehearsal, I got a chance to see my costume mostly put together, which was fun for all of about a minute. (I’ll post a teaser pic later.) And then, we started my rehearsal, with Kat sitting in to give me final tips on things to polish.

Cut to, I do one run through and burst into tears as soon as it ends.

I hate crying in front of people, and I gotta really be upset to do it (and there’s often a certain element of trust involved, which tells you that I trust Kat enough to be a gibbering mess in front of her).

It comes down to this: I am playing an old, old game with myself, where I really do a damn good job of making myself “not enough” – I spent the last few days (rather unconsciously) picking away at any good will and sense of accomplishment I had for myself, leaving me with a hell of a lot of, “What are you thinking?! Seriously, you entered a competition? That’s a joke, right? You’re terrible, and you have no business doing this on stage. You’re going to be annihilated. You will be the worst, you’ll make a fool of yourself, and you will let everyone down.” It’s a truly terrible inner monologue to have, but the reason I am being honest about it is that it is part of this journey. Pole can be a lot of fun, but for me, it’s also a tremendous challenge on more than just a physical level.

I’m not used to feeling ill-equipped when it comes to performing. While I get nerves when I act, and I have my own little demons pop up, I have weapons and tricks to combat it. I also know my strengths and how to play them, and in general, I know how to play at my maximum level. I know what that is, and I have confidence in it. Doesn’t mean I always WANT to do the hard scene where I’m weeping, but I am pretty good about knowing that I can, even if I’m also pretty adept at trying to self-sabotage sometimes.

With this…it’s still relatively new to me in a lot of ways, and COMPLETELY new to me in this realm. Performing?? In front of people I don’t know??? WITH JUDGEMENT INVOLVED?!?!?!?!? *dies*

The truth is, I don’t feel any better than anyone else at this particular endeavor. I don’t see my own value, I haven’t been rewarding my accomplishments because I am hard-pressed to see what they are right now (beyond the recognition that I’m stronger physically in some respects). I feel like a big, fat failure because I am not as good as I want to be. I’ve put this hugely unattainable and unrealistic expectation on myself of being flawless. It’s a nice way to validate that secret fear/belief that I’m not good enough. “See? Your routine isn’t flawless. You’re clearly not good enough to be in this competition.” It’s insane.

Humans, we be sneaky like that. It’s an old, old game that EVERYONE plays, whether they know it or not. And, even though I’m well aware of the existence of it, and where I’ve done it in my life, I got gobsmacked by it today.

So, in that way, I’m being very hard on myself. I’m mad that my routine isn’t as beautiful or perfect as I wanted it to be. I’m mad that I’m not 120lbs of grace. I’m mad that I didn’t work harder. But, all of that is distraction. Being mad at myself is a manifestation of being scared and an act of displacement, in a way. It’s a vicious circle that feeds right back into the “not enough” story that I have created for myself.

Anyway…getting back to rehearsal…I spent a while crying and mopping myself up, confessing that I desperately did not want to let anyone down. Which is very much true – I feel such a sense of responsibility (which is code for: “Don’t fuck up!”) to everyone who has been so helpful and supportive throughout this process that I am terrified of being a failure. But, as Kat said – after comforting me and teasing me that “there’s no crying in Pole!” – the only way I would let her down was if I dropped out of the competition. Which I don’t even consider an option, because while I am a commitment-phobe, once I DO commit, I’m in it, even if I’m kicking and screaming half of the time. :-) Kat reminded me that my choice to enter is something that most of the other girls in our studio didn’t choose. That it took balls to do it. I need to re-frame my thinking on that, because I didn’t see it as brave – I never see myself as brave, even though it’s one of the qualities most singled out  by others in reference to me (I feel like a doofus saying that, but it’s true). Instead, with my fear and anxiety, I see it as really foolish and ridiculous.

Gotta love what that shit does to you, right? As I like to say, “Oh, Brain. I thought we were past this.”

After finishing my cry, I went back to rehearsing and felt much more solid, even if I was still having some trouble in my runs. It’s mostly little nuances and things I’m not sure I can change at this point, given that I have a day left. I’ll work on some stuff tonight and tomorrow, but I think the most important thing will be doing mental runs of the routine and generally calming myself down, reminding myself that I do have fun doing this, and that this is just a chance to have fun playing a character. I got into this to learn what it was to prepare for a competition – and that includes the good AND the bad – and to be better at pole overall. So, in that sense, I got everything I set out for when doing this – I just need to accept me for me and not be so hard on myself.

I’m still in a bit of a mental health shut down, but hopefully I can reboot in a few and start working again a little later. I got my costume sorted out and did my rehearsal in it today, so that’s good. It works, with the exception of one piece that is a little bitchy – not entirely sure how to fix it, but necessity is the mother of invention…and creativity doesn’t hurt! So, anyway, here’s a little teaser!

Mom: A pole dancer to be?

On Saturday, I took my mom to a pole teaser at my studio, and it was so fun! She did really well! She’s always been more into fitness than I ever was – she taught aerobics when I was a kid, and she has remained interested in yoga and pilates over the years. She handled the warm up well, and she was really game to do the pole spins! She did them well, too, especially for her first time! It was awesome! She got to watch me demo at the end, with a few of the other current students (and our instructor, who was Drea) – she’s never seen me do any pole, so it was cool for her to see what I can do. My friend Charlene was also in attendance, which made me so happy! I love it when my friends commit to coming to class. She happened to see a collage I put up of some of my pole pics and asked about how I got into it – I replied with a link and BOOM, she was in the teaser! LOVE THAT! And, of course, I got to see my Pole Sponsee (not really sure what else to call her!), Bonnie, at the workshop – she’s embarked on her journey with pole because I kept sending her not-so-subtle suggestions that she try it. :-) It gives me such joy to see her falling in love with the experience, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her as she progresses! Pole can be such a gorgeous and generous means of supporting other women, in addition to the bonding and camaraderie that can occur – it’s wonderful to be a part of that sort of thing!

Every time I see someone from pole, they ask me if I’m ready, how I’m feeling, etc, etc. It’s so sweet that so many people are being supportive. I still have that nagging voice of, “Seriously, what were you thinking? Everybody thinks you’re a fool for doing this competition with where you are at in pole…” No fun. I work on telling it to shut up a lot. :-) I went into a class today at the studio that is not my normal class – it’s actually taught by one of my classmates – and it ended up being a semi-private session, because the head count was unusually low. We had so much fun! I got to work out some things in my routine with the help of Mary Grace- we worked on a transition I was stuck on, and I spent some solid time on the spinning pole, working on which tricks are strong for me and which are not. I also worked on the meathook again – that fucker is BRUTAL. We’ve been trying to learn it using one arm on the pole (gripping with the hand) until we’re conditioned to take it to no hand, but my grip doesn’t seem to be strong enough to hold my weight, so I tried it with an armpit grip – I definitely got more of the turn and stomach contact necessary, but holy shit, that is a bastard of a trick. Hurts like nothing I’ve seen in a long while. BUT, I am committed to working on it. There’s a transition I wanted to see if I could do with it, but I don’t think I have time to master it before the competition – however, I still think it’s good to know how to do! I also got in some twisted hand grip practice and worked on various other things, including a new climb style. I love class with MG because she pays a lot of attention to each student and has some great tips – and her opening warm up includes some awesome stretching, especially when she comes around and does some assisted stretching with us – I loooooooooove that (and NEED it!!). I always feel so lucky to have found my studio!

I did a demo of the first 1/3 of my routine (roughly) at the end of class today, and that felt good to work on – I got great feedback, which is lovely! I know there’s a lot of work to go, but I am hoping to nail it out in the next two sessions – class tomorrow night and a private lesson on Tuesday. I got word that 90% of my costume will be in later this week, so that’s excellent – and I am all paid up on hair, make-up, and video/photo bookings for the event itself. I’m really spending on this thing – more than I need to, I’d think – but it’s my first one, and I want to have things go smoothly. I know that I would freak out if I had to do my own hair and makeup beforehand, at that early hour. I can barely do it as it is!

The more I rehearse ideas that were supplied by other people, the more I realize that some things work, but some stuff doesn’t feel organic to me. I’m going more and more toward things that feel organic, which is GOOD. I think it’s a sign of learning to trust my body to lead my brain, if that makes sense.

I’ve prepped my list of things I need to bring with me to the event, and times to remember for the event – I’m a list maker – as well as the stuff I still need to acquire. I’m getting advice from more advanced polers on how to spend this next week, in regards to training, taking care of my body, what to do and what to bring to the event, etc. I appreciate it all so much. :-)

Later this week, I’ll post some teasers to my routine, if I can get stuff put together! :-) In the meantime, here is the collage photo that got Charlene to come to the teaser!

OH! And one more thing: after the workshop, my mom spent a good two hours looking up pole classes near her city, to see if she can take up pole when she gets back!!! CAN I TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THAT?!?!?!?!?!?!

So, back to the collage that inspired a possible future poler:

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Slow

Wednesday marked the last of three nights in a row of class, in an attempt to keep conditioning and also running through pieces of my routine. I’d been run down all week, either from vacation recovery (you know…getting back into life, massive amounts of errands, etc) or allergies. Monday’s class went slow for me, but I got some stuff done. Tuesday’s class…I remember doing conditioning for the straight leg splay shoulder mount and doing headstands, in which I realized that I could finally (*finally*) sweep my legs up in one fluid motion, instead of kicking up. That’s huge for me. So much strength that I didn’t have a couple of months ago!!! I was able to work on a spinning pole move that I learned in the class I took the other week, and just play on the spinning pole in general during my freestyle – it helps. More time on it is giving me some more balls with it, which is good. :-) Also, one of the girls in Tuesday had this bitchin’ freestyle to a hilarious song from a kid’s tv show – she rocked it. Gotta give her a nod for that!!

Wednesday’s class had more conditioning with certain things – shoulder mount again, for example – but I also worked on meathook, which is still a bit baffling, but I want to see how you would turn it into a dismount transition (that’s a future goal, I guess). I also took another pass at my twisted hand grip conditioning, holding the entry position, then holding the aerial ayesha in it, with Drea spotting me – she didn’t have to do much for the spotting, and while I wasn’t completely solid, I have come far. She gave me hug when I was done, saying how much stronger I’ve become. It’s such a nice thing to feel. I know there’s such a long road to go in terms of being aerial, but these are very important milestones.

She gave me some tough love on Monday about how I invert, telling me to remove a step that was a force of habit, which I no longer needed. I’ve been consciously working on it ever since, taking my time to think before I move. I also took a beat to think about my movement before I went into the twisted hand grip from the inversion position. As Drea had said, it’s good to be selfish and take a beat before you start anything – it’s also good to take the time to hold a trick and enjoy it.

I thought about that and realized it’s a bit of a life lesson, too. How many times do I go rushing through stuff in life? Go, go, go! Okay, doing this, going, done! How many times do we ALL do this? I realized that, in some ways, it might be inhibiting my growth and what I accomplish, because just because I jump to do something doesn’t mean I am doing it correctly or in the best manner possible. This is so true with pole. I’m so eager to try stuff and be able to get through the first pass of the trick (nerves!), and I want so much to be better, that I rush instead of taking the time to get it right. To take my time and be deliberate in my movement is so important to my growth and betterment as a poler. It’s going to be something that I carry with me now – a mental check that I can use from here on out.

Years ago, in my first pole related class, our teacher (who was also a life coach – the classes combined movement with life coaching) pointed out that I was always rushing – I move quickly and talk quickly and think quickly – but her assessment of this was that I was doing much of it to avoid being seen. If I moved quickly, unconsciously, I thought I would go unnoticed. But, as she said, I had to consider the possibility that people already saw me.

Let me tell you…that was dead on. It rocked me when I realized she was right. And, it still holds true. I will catch myself sometimes and realize that I am motoring down the street, and for what reason? One of the things she had us work on was just sitting and BEING. For me, that meant slowing down and being present to A LOT of stuff – and, in movement, I had to work really hard to slow it down. I still am conscious of it to this day, but for some reason, I never connected that I was going fast ON the pole – only in floor work. Kinda crazy to realize it now! But, at least I am now aware of it, accepting of it as part of who I am and something to work on, and interested in moving forward. :-)

I took today off to work and spend time with my mom, who is in town visiting through the weekend. She’s actually coming with me to a teaser class at my pole studio on Saturday! It was her idea, which I love. I’m a mix of nervous, terrified, and excited – which, really, is all energy of the same kind. :-) I’m back to class on Sunday – possibly with a choreo session in the evening – and class Monday. Tuesday is a private lesson, Wednesday is my last class before the competition, and I have another choreo on Thursday. Eep!!! Got word that a major part of my costume will be arriving in time for the competition, which is so great – still need to pick up one piece and check on two that were custom ordered. I went heavy with the costume, but I’m leaning more toward “going all out” than not!

Once the competition is over, I’ll do a tally of what I spent on everything and post it – I did some mental math the other day and…wow. This is not a cheap endeavor! It’s such a learning experience in so many ways, though – love that. :-)

Also, if you’re looking for a fun workshop, Kat of Pure Delish is teaching one of her infamous Twerkshops tomorrow (Friday 5/11) at 8pm! Follow the link to the invite page for more info! By the way, if you haven’t been in Pure Delish to shop, it is a MUST!

In honor of Kat, here’s her first-ever performance at Girl Next Door, from back in March! She’s supposed to be performing in the June show, which you MUST check out if you can!

Slow rev

I was back in class last night, after a few days off for vacation. Tired, to say the least. As a result, I didn’t do as much as I would normally have done, but I did rehearse my static run a few times, plus I tried some of the stuff we’ve been working on for a while, like the twisted hand grip pencil. We got a breakdown of the meathook, which is not at all like what I thought it was – I first saw it in a class while at that spinning pole class I took the other week, but the instructor never really broke down how to do it. I got a proper breakdown last night at my usual studio – one of the reasons I love it there – and was able to attempt it. I’m looking forward to trying it again! Since I am in class a lot over the next two weeks, to prep for the competition, I’ll have ample time to work on it (in between when I’ll be doing my practice for the event).

I’m definitely in a bit of a panic about everything, because I do not feel ready at all, and am terrified of making an ass out of myself. That’s the funny thing about challenging oneself – all the old demons come out and you’ve gotta beat them back like Whack-A-Moles. Even when I get down on myself or freaked out, I still put one foot in front of the other, which is something. It doesn’t seem like much, but I haven’t given up – I have my off times and my frustrations, but I committed to extra classes to make myself work.

I saw this crazy shoulder mount variation that I’m going to share in a moment – shoulder mount is something that has taken me about a year to be able to do, for whatever reason. I swear it’s been a matter of commitment issues, not strength. I can do it now, although it’s not pretty the way I would like it to be – that will come with more conditioning. My technical issues came from kicking my legs out without lifting them – and my body – up toward the pole…it also took me a while to find the right position. The shoulder grip area (for me) seems to be right between the base of my neck and the top of my shoulder blade bone, which is near the shoulder. If I look in the mirror, there is about a 2 to 3 inch area of skin between the base of my neck and where my collar bone rises to meet the shoulder. That is the fleshy part of my shoulder (for lack of a better word) and seems to be the right pocket for my mount, so as to avoid the compression being placed on bone. It’s something that I feel out more than something I look for when I get into it. Then, it is a matter of getting the right position for the head/body – I tend to lean back a bit, so I’m a little lower on the pole, but not too much – too much causes slipping and added weight in a weird way. I also had to learn to tuck my elbows in toward the pole when I would launch – I kept leaving them out and, once it was caught my one of the instructors, I was told that I was taking half my power away by doing it. I can now get up on the pole if I am not tired, and I’m doing infinitely better with it overall, but it is something I try each week. Sometimes, pole is a journey of getting tricks right away…other times, it takes a year of conditioning to be able to do one thing, which is both frustrating and gratifying (once you hit it).

I did notice last night that I now have control in my headstand that I didn’t have before – instead of kicking up, I was able to roll up smoothly, which (again) is something that has taken ages. It’s now down to stamina – being able to do it again and again, instead of just twice or whatever. :-)

Anyway, on to that modified shoulder mount, which starts just after the 2:34 mark in this video – I almost threw up when I saw it for the first time.

She uses the pocket of her elbow as a grip – elbow grips are not my favorite (ouch) – and I can’t imagine how hard it must be! Anyway, overall, she’s got some amazing athleticism!

Today is night 2 of class this week – hoping to have some more energy and work on floor choreo. I did some spinning pole stuff last night, but not a ton – I was assigned the new 45mm to work on, because I need it for PPC, but also because nobody else had much experience on it, apparently. So the girls would stop by and play on it, but it was mostly mine for the night, which is fine. I may be on it again tonight, we’ll see. I had to work to avoid a busted spot on my foot last night – it’s right where I climb, so I had to modify the climb so as to not rip it open again. It took me a little while to figure out how to do that – I had to go back to an old style of climbing and use my knees more than my foot hook, which was weird. Anyway, we’ll see what tonight brings!

Odds & Ends: One of “those” rehearsals, inspiration in different places, and a wee bit of Urban Pole

I spent the weekend out of LA, taking a break from the swing of things and relaxing at a lovely little hot mineral springs retreat near Palm Springs. My last practice before I left was on Thursday, and it was…not great. I left fairly dejected. My friend was helping me run through choreo, and damn if that pole did not cooperate. I slid down it over and over again. Only after an incredible layer of iTac2 was I able to hold anything on the top end of the pole, but by then, my strength was wasted. I was dejected by my inability to nail a trick that is usually a signature for me, so much so that we made the decision to pull it from the routine. If I can’t nail it on a practice pole that is slippery, I can’t risk including it in the final routine and not nailing it again in the competition. That sucks. I love that trick. It’s a strong trick, one that not everyone can do, and my transition into it is unusual. But, it’s not a trick you can fuck up while getting into it, especially with the way I transition into it – you either stick it or you flail.

My friend tried to get my spirits up, focusing on how I had improved my opening choreo and had clearly worked on it, that I had more accomplished than she thought based on when we’d last met and what we’d discussed since then, but I still felt like it was a set back because I had felt so good after the last run-through in class. We worked on some floor choreo, which I need to play with and work into things now that I’m back from my mini vacation.

During the last leg of our trip, which was a photography expedition to an area on the coast of The Salton Sea called Bombay Beach (Google photos – it’s an amazing place for photography), we got a flat tire. While we waited for AAA to arrive, I took the opportunity to sign up for four additional pole classes over the next two weeks. I’ll be poling Monday through Wednesday, plus Sunday afternoon, all at my usual studio (and almost all with my usual instructor). It’s a huge commitment, both in time, energy, and money, but I figured out that I work better with people around – my solo rehearsals are rarely as effective when it comes to the pole runs. I do well with the floorwork in my solo time, but I have more energy, focus, and drive in class.

I’m also introducing my mom to pole on Saturday – there’s a teaser at my studio, and as a Mother’s Day outing, we’ll be going to class so she can see what it’s all about. I’m so jazzed, but also kinda nervous!

I have a few links to share, so let me get down to those…

First, a wonderful and inspiring post from a friend who has just begun her own pole journey (with a few pokes from me to do so) – I loved reading this, and I hope you will, too:

http://bonniegillespie.com/blog/the-pole-post/

Next, an incredibly touching video about believing in yourself and owning your own power – grab some tissues! It had me bawling, but in the very best way. While my own struggles are nowhere near this big, I will say that I did identify with his journey – it’s how I feel about pole half of the time:

Last, but not least…I’ve been fascinated with the idea of urban pole for a while, but never really had the guts to try it – mostly because  don’t think I’m at the level to be able to do it well. Nevertheless, I tried a few moves on our vacation this weekend, ending up with some scrapes and a lot of aborted attempts at inversions. :-)

Meathook

So, today was my first “official” spinning pole class. We learn tricks and poses on the spinning pole in my usual class, but most of our focus is on the proper breakdown of tricks, transitions, and poses, as well as the build into taking things aerial. I decided to take one class that was just spinning pole, so I could pick up some tips, possibly some tricks, and start to feel a little more at home with it.

Overall, I’m glad I took the class – I learned a few tricks I can throw into the mix (maybe not for my routine, but in general), and I got a great workout – I really pushed myself to get up on the pole and run through my tricks for my routine during the downtime between trying the tricks the instructor gave us to do. I did get to try a variation on a trick I’ve seen and wanted to try, so that was great – and I got to try a variation of the meathook, which we’re scheduled to learn next week in my regular class – I didn’t get a great breakdown on it in the class, but I was able to watch and try some stuff with it.

I worked my ass off as far as cardio went – so important for endurance/stamina! It’s something I have long needed to work on and improve, so I’m really happy about it. I was incredibly tired by the end, but still made myself work on things and try stuff, just to keep it up. Sadly, though, it means that I got sloppy with my technique, because I was exhausted. The result? Some truly spectacular bruises, the likes of which I haven’t seen in almost a year!

Tomorrow will most likely be spent working on conditioning to refine some of my transitions (and minimize the clunkiness that happens when I rush/am tired). I’m really hopeful that I’ll make some strides forward in what I can do by the time of competition, both for the benefit of my performance, but also for my own personal growth with pole. I got into this to get better, so hoping it pays off! I know it already has – I can shoulder mount now, and I couldn’t before!

Pole, dogs, or clumsy?

I have a new game. Whenever I find a new bruise, I ask myself, “Was it pole; dog care; or clumsiness?” [I work at a doggie daycare a few days a week, which frequently results in bruising.] It’s kind of fun. :-) I have some lovely new shiners on the back of my leg, which I think are from the dogs, but who really knows anymore.

Things had been slower on the training front as far as practical sessions, up until this weekend. With being on a budget and my usual rehearsal space closed temporarily, I worked on some stuff at home (frustrating) and ended up doing a lot of listening to the song over and over and over and over and…well, you get it. I also watched a lot of pole on YouTube. I do that anyway, but I was watching for ideas and inspiration.

Since I’m not well-versed on spinning pole, I was looking for less complicated moves I could try, to see if I could find something that felt natural to me – something I could turn into my own. As it turns out, even the simple ones I chose were a huge challenge to me. :-) My wonderful friend Claire offered me the use of her spinning pole – and her gloriously high ceiling – while I was sitting for her kitties this weekend, so I was able to get in some practice. After trying to not throw up my healthy breakfast and being really frustrated at not being able to make what seemed like a simple trick work, I started to work on some ideas for my spinning pole run. It was a tough rehearsal, but good to work things out. I realized how tired I will most likely be by that point in the routine and made changes to accommodate it.

I’m signed up for my first official spinning pole class, just so I can get some more time in on it – nervous, for sure, but it’s gotta be done. I made the room in my budget (which is admittedly very tight), and I’m going to do what I can to pick up some basic tips – by no means do I think I’ll be rocking it in two weeks, but I’d like to simply have a modicum of control over the damn thing. :-)

My usual class tonight was tough, but good. I did more of the warm up – I usually opt for a lighter warm up, in order to save my strength for the tricks (we have murderous warm up sequences), but I did the entire sequence of planks – or more than I usually do. :-) I was wiped out, though. We had a fun surprise from our classmate who has been out for a month – she popped in to announce she’s pregnant (Congrats, Dani!), so we all had some sparkling cider and chatted before getting down to business. Drea had me rehearse my ideas for my static pole run over and over, so she could find the points that need polishing, and we could throw out anything that wasn’t working. I have some stuff to fix, but I think I have a reasonably solid combination of tricks that I do well. It was challenging, but EXCELLENT to get that rehearsal in. I really love my pole home. :-)

In addition to my routine stuff, we also learned a new trick – which we were calling the Unicorn (the name given to it by Kat, who disliked the actual name – which I think is either Rainbow or Stargazer?). I worked on my aerial twisted handgrip pencil – so close! – and did one shoulder mount, just to continue practicing it. I was wiped by the time we got to free dance, so my dance was a little lazy, but I did what I could for both songs.

After a long soak in an epson salt bath, I’m going to curl up with my heating pad and my ibuprofen, and hope I’m not too sore in the morning. :-) I’ll need my strength for the spinning pole class, and training is going to increase from here – there are transitions to nail, nuances to add, and stamina to build – oh, that stamina!

Speaking of Kat, she’s teaching a twerking workshop at The Choreography House on Friday, May 11th - check it out!

And, of course, I’ll leave you with an incredible video…

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