I feel like a bag of excuses.

I left class after barre yesterday.
About 30 minutes early.

The bug bite on my elbow had swelled up pretty good and my foot was hurting (and I even found more bites?) which was making the dance mom’s concerned. I blamed it on that and told Ms. Munro I was gonna leave to take care of it. They did hurt and were bothersome, but really my stomach was hurting and making me dizzy.

Before I left, we had what I thought was a pretty successful barre. Brian wasn’t there, so Ms. Munro taught us, which made me happy since I already know her style and she knows about my knee.
I tried to do my best in spite of it all. I found myself balancing decently and lifting more and having better posture and more expression. (I don’t know why, though.) There was a point we did a cambre forward and back on releve and Ms. Munro complimented me. This took me by surprise. Usually I can’t hold my balance very well doing this on releve. Usually my hips move too much or I tense up all funny I don’t make it all the way. But this time, I actually did it, and Ms. Munro saw, and she complimented me.
Later on, we were doing a combination that included doing a develope a la seconde and holding it there–something I’m typically not very good at. But I did it. And Ms. Munro saw it. And she complimented me again. And to top it off, it was pretty high as well. And turned out. That’s when she saw me, as I fought for the turn out. And I think she was about to correct me but then I did it myself and she was happy I caught it.
So that was cool.
We also did this lunge into a front cambre, then took it to a back cambre and she said, “This is Swan Lake!” And on the side with the good knee, I was able to make it really dramatic. I don’t think she saw, but it felt good. So that was nice.

Yesterday’s really good barre made me feel hopeful.
I left early since I wouldn’t be able to do many of the jumps anyway.
I’m going to see if I can get another lift from the chiropractor for my shoe so I can cut it down to fit my pointe shoes better. Something. I think I’ll see if I can ask him why my leg is longer, because referring back to x-rays, the longer leg is the one with the jacked-up hip, so I don’t know if rolling out will fix anything. But I need some kind of solution. I need to be able to continue to improve and to be able to use my right knee.
Not being able to do simple things that shouldn’t be difficult can make you feel pretty defeated. And scared.
And I wish I knew exactly what to do for it so I could be doing it, but there doesn’t seem to be clear direction here. Or answers. Which seems to be the story of my life. So I’m making do with what I have and hoping something will happen and that I don’t screw it up more.
Trying to balance risk with wisdom is rather difficult.

No excuses.

This is my 201st post. So that’s kinda fun.

Anyway.

I haven’t been doing grande plies or any extensive jumps in the last two classes. It’s helped my knee, but I know the pain is still there, I’m just not tapping into it.
It’s beyond frustrating to know I can do all these things on my left side, and do them so well, but on my right I’m limited by this one thing. For seemingly no reason and with no real explanation.
Ugh.

But I was talking with Eloise after class on Monday. The two of us seem to be the most accident prone people on the face of the planet (obviously dramatic, but really) and we were talking about all the things we have to push through to continue to dance. We have all these opportunities to make excuses, but if we did, where would that leave us? We wouldn’t dance. Hardly, at least. We wouldn’t grow since we wouldn’t be in classes enough. Sure, it may set me behind the other kids in the class my level, but as has been pointed out, look at how far I’ve come in under four years.

I went from being the derpy new girl who didn’t know a jete from a pas de chat or how the heck to really do a rond de jambe, (Really. I had a friend tutor me in them it stressed me out so badly.)
(Thanks, Sarah.)
to this girl who is in the advanced class, the one called on for combinations because I am one of main ones to remember them. The girl that’s watched for the counts or asked how it’s done by the younger ones who are too afraid to ask the super advanced girls. I’m the one told by the teachers to take the advanced class when I didn’t even consider it an option and the one who is holding her own in said class. (Minus pointe. We’re getting there.)

And sure, it’s frustrating to know I could be doing so much more if my knee weren’t messing up. That I might even be able to handle advanced on pointe if I could plie enough on my right knee. But that’s not where life is. And I can’t do anything about it. I just have to handle it from here and be proactive and stay positive.

Look how far it’s brought me already.

I managed to even do a pirouette on pointe in Monday’s 5s class. It wasn’t all that pretty, but it wasn’t tense and it felt good. Feeling secure in a turn for the first time was incredible. So, I’m hopeful
get it together, knee.

Today is our longer 5s class. I’ll do my best in everything I can do and not avoid the combination just because of a few jumps. I’ll do my best at what I can do.

Also, a spider or something bit my big toe, and it hurts to put pressure on the tip of my toe so we’ll see what happens. Hah.

Missed a class already.

Yesterday I had to skip my 6s class.
Well, I guess I didn’t have to. But I did. I think it was for the best.

Me knee was feeling better in the morning, but as soon as I started bending it more than just walking, the pain returned faster than…well…something fast.

I had my chiropractor’s appointment yesterday. I told the guy who preps me for the rolly-bed-thing about my knee, and he seemed understanding at my concern, but what can he really do for me? Not much.
So I was psyching myself up to make sure I asked the chiropractor about it.
I get into the adjustment room. He comes in. We pop my back a million ways to Sunday, and then I was able to ask him.
It was quick. It wasn’t detailed. I told him my knee had been hurting and asked if it could be because it’s the longer leg. He said no, it shouldn’t be, and he put these little acupuncture bead things on my ears to help with the pain and gave me these supplements to take.
I had read online how your legs can become uneven from muscles being too tight on one side, jacking up the muscles on the opposite side and causing your bones to shift and stuff. I thought of the massage therapist telling me the pain on my right side was from the tension on my left.
One of the articles I found had a detailed regimen to do to help correct this, including the separate exercises on each leg, since the longer one will need different things than the shorter. I’m going to do this anyway, even though the chiropractor doesn’t seem to think it’s a contributing factor.
I bought a foam roller. I hadn’t been dancing all that much to really need one before (although I’m sure anyone can use them if they really wanted) and since I’ve been dancing more I haven’t had the floor space to do any rolling. Now I kinda do, enough anyway, so I got one and tried rolling out last night. I don’t know if I did it right or enough or too much pressure or not enough pressure, but I guess it’s a learning process.
(I just don’t want to waste any time. I don’t have any extra. This is all pretty tight.)

My stomach has been giving me heck, which made rolling out complicated. I couldn’t hold my core like I needed to some of the times because it made me feel sick. It’s beyond frustrating.
I need my stomach to shape up to roll out.
I need to roll out to be able to dance.
I need to dance to help my stomach shape up.
Vicious cycle.

I’m trying to not let it get to me.
Some days are better than others.

After the chiropractor, I went by the studio to talk to Ms. Munro about helping with baby classes.
They had me come into the office through the studio. First thing they did was sit me down and ask if I was okay.
I was like
What? yeah. wait, why wouldn’t I be?
And they were like
Is your knee okay?
And I’m like
Ohhh, that yeaaaaah…
And told them about my knee and how it’s been giving me trouble but now has escalated and how it’s all connected and my back and about the wreck and the nerve damage and my stomach and, ya know, the usual things I’m dealing with.
And Ms. Munro sat there with this semi-stunned look on her face.
She told me how she was amazed at all I’d been through and sorry that I had to deal with all of it. They had no clue all of this was  going on which seems to be the theme here lately and I guess that’s good.

And it was nice, ya know, to have an authority figure hear of all the issues I’m facing and not think that I just need to suck it up or stop being dramatic or whatever, but rather see it for the struggle it is. I wasn’t shot down for it. I can’t really explain how soothing that was for me. To be heard and understood and empathized with genuinely.
They obviously want me better, and they want me to do what I need to achieve that.
It was cool.
She said no grands, like Abby had suggested, and said that the whole rolling-out-different-exercises-for-each-leg thing sounded wise. So, I’m hopeful?
I was more hopeful before trying to roll out last night and feeling like an idiot.

I’m going to be helping Mia with one of her classes on Friday’s starting next week. I’m nervous because I don’t really know Mia. I haven’t taken her class and I don’t really know how she functions. I’m going to have to be assertive, so I’m hoping I don’t piss her off or overstep any bounds. I’m sure it’ll be fine. I just gotta get used to it. Dive in and sink or swim.

This means I’ll be driving into Corpus (about a 40-minute drive) 5 days a week now. Which is rough. But. I dunno. It’s worth it I guess? I like what I’m doing so. That’s nice.

I just feel like things are about to change. I don’t know what that means or if it’ll be a change I’ll like or hate, but a change nonetheless. It feels like something will be blowing in with this colder weather.
Cold fronts make me feel something more anyway. It’s hard to describe.
Like the memories stick better or something.
I feel it all.

Bump in the road.

Yesterday was the 5s class that has the separate pointe class with it. (So essentially, its the longer 5s class. Fancy words and diction is failing me. meh.)
I was slightly hesitant about the class, being that my knee was still being dumb, but hopeful that I could still make it through and it would be good.

Turns out I couldn’t plie at all on my right side.
Usually I can push through. Usually I can suck it up and just manage and make it work. Usually its not that big of a deal.
Yesterday was not a usually.
I tried anyway, but when it came to using the right leg, I felt my face grimace and tears well up in my eyes. The pain was shooting through my knee, under the knee cap, undeniable.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t panic. But Mrs. Alex could see all over my face that I wanted to. She told me, “You look so serious!” Or commented on how we looked focused and needed to have lighter expressions. Usually I can. Yesterday I couldn’t.
I didn’t cry because I wouldn’t let myself. I didn’t panic because I willed myself not to. I stopped and breathed deeply and every other trick I could think of. I shut off my brain and hoped I could still keep up with the combo because, ya know, my brain was off.
Mrs. Alex caught on. They know my knee has been messing up, and they’re really understanding. She said, “Don’t do anything more than you can.” To which I managed, “I can’t even plie.” And you could see on her face that she knew my pain.
Turns out the second half of class was nearly impossible. Eloise and I talked of our perpetual ailments and how we managed and what doctors we saw and who she recommended. It’s nice having someone who really gets it.

The class continued on, and I found I couldn’t do much of anything in center. Parts of it, yes, but anything that required bending the right knee past an inch was out of the question.
And beyond frustrating.
I stood in the back.
I watched.
I marked.
I laughed with Eloise when neither of us could do anything.
We watched.
We marked.
I tried getting the motion of the movement as if I were able to do it.
Anything that could get more ballet into my brain.

After class I talked to Mrs. Alex about it. We discussed options of what I can do and told her I might either be late to class the next day or not able to come at all depending on the chiropractor.
Ms. Munro asked if I was interested in helping with the baby classes that are packed.
I got in my car.
I cried.
Big huge tears, crying out to God because I need dance. It’s not just something I enjoy, it’s a necessity in my life. If I got to choose fixing my knee or fixing my internal issues, I’d choose knee. Because dancing helps the internal stuff and I can dance through that more easily even if it can be debilitating at times.
It sucks. It all sucks. And it’s not fair. But it is what it is.

I’ve been consulting Dr. Google today, trying to gain a better understanding of why my knee would be hurting. My assumption is that it’s because the right leg is the longer leg. So I researched a bit and found out there’s a muscle that runs through and connects all the important parts for the hip/leg. (lots of medical mumbo jumbo I don’t quite grasp enough to detail or summarize.) I read that everyone tends to have their legs a little uneven, and that it’s typically your dominate leg that is. (mine isn’t. so. that’s cool.) They say your muscles can get really tight and cause your hip to shove up into your ribs and make your legs uneven.
Oh.
Did my Chiropractor tell me this? I don’t know. It was an overwhelming day, and a lot was said. It’s possible he did, but it all seems new to me now.
The muscle that I read about is coincidentally the muscle that is the main storage for our response to stimulus. In other words, it holds our stress.
Oh.
On article called it the “trauma muscle.”
Yeah that sounds about right.
I found another article that detailed a stretching/strengthening/massaging regimen to help loosen the muscle and get the hips even again. I bookmarked it.

I’m afraid my chiropractor will talk to me like I’m stupid. Or tell me I haven’t done something right or enough or whatever. I’ve kept up with the stuff the Physical Therapist showed me best I can, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much. My back is better, it’s my knee that’s not now. And it’s given me trouble before, but nothing like this.
(and now, of course, my stomach started getting angry as I’m writing this. what the heck.)
I need answers, not criticism. I need understanding, not judgement. I need solutions.
I don’t care what I have to do. Last night I even thought how I would amputate the leg and learn to dance with a prosthetic (over lots of time and work, obviously) if it meant I could dance that way but now how it is now. If they told me I had to stop dancing because of my knees, then cut off my knees and give me a leg that can’t feel pain. I’ll make it work.

I’m frustrated. I’m upset. I’m scared and nervous and anxious.
I just want to dance.

First Advanced Class

I was nervous, but I tried not to let myself feel it.
I don’t even really know if “nervous” is the right word, because actually I felt comfortable.
But comfortable isn’t the right word either, because this was definitely out of my comfort zone.

I felt safe.

I had my first 6’s class yesterday, and it was in a safe place, so I knew I could try and possibly fail and it would be okay. I knew a lot was expected out of me, and honestly I want a lot to be expected out of me.

I’m surrounded by my friends and some of the best dancers in our studio; ones I usually size myself up against and find that I am below. Except yesterday, I didn’t just see the ones who’s legs battement up to their ears and think of how far I still have to go. I saw the ones whose legs battement about 90 degrees, similar to mine. I saw girls fighting for turn out. I saw the ones who struggle with combinations and closing in fifth when the tempo is quick. I saw other people’s legs shaking, too, and how we were all challenged in our own right.

Sure, I’m lacking in areas in comparison, but so are each and every one of us.
No one is perfect. No one can be.
We all strive for perfection, and strive to improve, but we’ll never reach it.
(That’s not the point.)
If reaching it were possible, why dance at all?
What would you get out of it?

This class has two classes attached, the latter being the pointe class. I can only afford 5 classes, which is already a splurge, so I opted to only take the ballet part of Tuesday’s and then take the other 6’s class on Thursday, instead of doing the full day Tuesday (which is technically two classes) and nothing Thursdays.

Mrs. Julie explained how the classes would be run and what she expected out of us. I knew I was the different one in the class since the rest of the new 6’s were full 5’s last year, and that all this was new to me. I asked Julie about it and she said that I might only get to do barre, and I told her that was fine since I wouldn’t be doing pointe in this class anyway and that it’s just my extra class for the extra push and challenge and work. She spoke to me like she thought I was capable of doing full on 6’s, pointe and everything.
Maybe one day. Maybe even halfway through the year, I don’t know. But right now, I shouldn’t risk it.

I am realizing that the main part of my issue right now is my right knee. It’s hurting really badly to where plieing, and plieing properly is a challenge. It holds me back and I’m not sure what to do about it.
I’ve had physical therapy for it, and have a theraband to do the things at home myself. But it feels like it’s bruised underneath or that my kneecap will just pop off. They say I have arthritis, but didn’t really tell me what I can do about it, and all the creams with 65 year old golfers kneeling on the pamphlet don’t work, so I don’t really know what else to do. I’ve tried a brace and it just made it worse, and the last time I taped it, it was a flop. (I plan to try again.)
I’m wondering if the fact it’s my longer leg has an affect. It started feeling better when I started going to the chiropractor, but now it’s hurting again, and badly.
I don’t want to have to be so cautious, to where I can’t do anything even mildly quick. I can only go so far like this, and I’m reaching the max.
I want to go farther.

There has to be a way, right?

Back at it!

(Oh wait. I didn’t really leave.)

I’m taking the Monday 5s, Tuesday 6s (sans pointe), Wednesday 5s, and Thursday 6s classes this semester, or at least am trying them out. I don’t foresee any issues, but you never know really.

Yesterday was the first official class of the Fall semester. I was glad for it, since it is likely to be my simplest class, and also since it’s a class I’ve taken before so I know what to expect. It also helped having my fellow 4s from last year in class with me. Familiar faces are always nice. There weren’t as many 5/6s in there as I expected, but maybe they’ll start showing up more in the coming weeks. Still, it was a fairly full class.
Somehow I managed to mess up my knee pretty good, and it was not having it yesterday. I still managed to do most of the class, but it progressively got more painful. It’s hard figuring out what to do about it or for it when it makes it difficult to even plie, which messes up everything else. The only thing I’ve found to truly help it is to rest and low impact things to keep it built up and active–like walking–but, ya know, I don’t really have time for that. So.
I didn’t realize how bad it was really hurting until yesterday. It had gotten better after having been in Europe for the two weeks, and I forget how easily it can mess up again if I don’t pay attention in plies.
It’s really frustrating, because it’s such a simple thing, yet it’s so pivotal, and not an easy fix. It’s under the kneecap and simultaneously feels bruised and like it can pop off with too much use. I’m assuming the tendon or muscle or whatever is under there is swollen or something. I have no idea whatever. It’s the knee they say I developed arthritis in. So I guess there’s that.

We did pointe, and I was actually able to do it. I was so excited. And that’s when I realized that the main thing holding me back is my knee. It’s the fear of the pain with the plie that keeps me from plieing well or enough, that messes with my stability. So I need to get this figured out. Brace makes it worse, taping doesn’t help too much and last couple times I taped it, it fell off before I could even get through class. (Beyond frustrating.) I couldn’t find my tape last night, so I brought my brace like it’ll do something. I just have to be really careful. And not kneel at all. And cross my fingers.

Elizabeth’s trick with shaving down my shanks really helped.

Lillian and I were working on these bad boys before class. I still need to do a bit more, but figured I’d try it out where I did it and see how it helped before shaving too much and ruining the shoes before my new ones come in. It feels good to finally be able to get a feel for your shoes and know what you want and how to prepare them. Not having the guess work so much. 
Even though my knee is stupid, I’m glad to be feeling good in class. At least I have a better understanding and can move forward from here on how to help it. 
I stayed for the 5s Jazz class after our ballet class yesterday at the invitation of Ms. Heidi. (That sounds super official. Really, she had a small class and asked more of us if we could stay.) I was limited, again, because of my knee, but it worked out really well despite it all. Much of the stuff was over my head, but I really like how open the environment is for me to learn. Even if I don’t stick with it, she’s willing to break it down for me. This, I believe, helps me as a dancer over all. There’s no way I could just jump into some advanced class that’s the level my fellow ballet dancers are and expect not to drown. I haven’t had a proper Jazz class since I was 11, and I don’t remember a thing. (except that we rocked those sequin shorts and N*Sync was the envy of all other recital songs.) But this class gives me the exposure to those things I miss out on because I’m not younger. It shows me a different side of dance and makes me a smidge more versatile. It opens me up and teaches me to really let go. Comfort zones aren’t important. It teaches me to really dance with my soul, to open up and show who I am through movement. To not let insecurities or fear of people’s opinions hold me back.
This not only helps me as a dancer, but as a person.
And then, when you start doing these things, and time keeps moving on, then you come across these moments when people are complimenting you, and telling you to take advanced ballet because you’re good, and telling you you’re a good dancer, and blowing your mind with these things you never really realized, and you know it’s true, because you’ve opened yourself up to be vulnerable. And it says, also, that not only is your dancing and technique good, but that your soul is.
And with that brain blurb, I shall end here.

Last Summer Class

Yesterday was our last class of the summer.
I almost didn’t go because I was, once again, not feeling too hot.
(I’m really hoping this isn’t a trend, because if it is then Nutcracker will be a serious struggle.)

(We’ll cross that bridge when it gets here.)

I was really excited for class because a few of my friends I hadn’t seen since I left for Europe were there.
My day had been rather difficult, in one of those dance-will-either-hurt-or-help kind of ways and I was really hoping that them being there would sway it more towards the help side.

(It did.)

Mrs. Julie taught class. She’s the other Advanced teacher this next semester. She was also the choreographer/director for Oz and I’ve had her in a few classes this summer so I was excited for class.
(Plus she does hilarious voices and it just makes me really happy.)

She started class with these really slow, 8-count grand plies.
Two in each position. With a cambre coinciding with whichever position.
To say my legs were shaking by the end of it is a vast understatement.
I struggled to do anything else the rest of barre. I still tried with kinda minimal vocalization because I was freaking out but doing it anyway because I knew that some times this could happen and if it were a show what would you do?
Part of the time when she had us hold certain positions, I had to physically hold my leg out to keep it from frantically shaking. When we were to balance in second then fondu the standing leg to close, I literally couldn’t do it. My legs shook so hard my entire body shook and I couldn’t balance. I tried anyway, but had to quit sooner than normal. I didn’t count this as a loss, though. I knew that the shaking is proof that I’m working my muscles, and the right muscles, and I wasn’t the only one crazy-shaking so at least we’re all rowing the same boat.

Thankfully my legs had time to calm down before center, because she had us hold our leg in second and promenade. I struggled a little, but nothing as bad as what I thought.
There was also this complex degage combination we did at the barre that had patterns different than we were used to and used fast music (even though it was toned down.)
I’m pretty decent with patterns, so a few times through and one time messed up with music and I had it down. I can’t say the technique was great, but I got the pattern and intend to work on it in case she throws this on us again in the future. *dusts shoulders off*

I really liked the combinations we did in the center. They were more contemporary ballet, which I haven’t really gotten the opportunity to do. I have always wanted to, but never really thought I was “good enough.”
I was made to believe that I had to be a certain level of good before trying instead of coming to class to be taught which is what classes are for. I’m comfortable with Julie, now, and having been taught the Crow’s dance and gotten such positive feedback from it made me feel more confident in attempting these things she was giving us in class. Things I had never done before like the “firebird” jump and this other one-legged turn thing I don’t know the name of (so vague, right?) were attempted and executed successfully, even if they weren’t perfect. She didn’t care for perfection. She cared for proper attempt.
That, I was able to confidently give her.
(Which is new for me. I like it.)

I loved how I felt dancing these fun combinations. All of them. Even if there were parts I knew I wasn’t good at.
This is the first time I’ve truly felt this way in dance. That I wasn’t critical of myself. That I wasn’t nervous or afraid at all. I think I’ve brushed the surface of this before–like in Ms. Nathan-Murphy’s class–but not ever to the extent I was last night.
My hope is to get this confident on pointe. I’ve gotten there on flat, and now I want to get there on pointe. I’ll have to stick to the conditioning and training to get my strength up to feel more confident in my shoes, which I’ve already felt happening this summer. I can get there, I just have to keep working hard.

My legs are (obviously) sore this morning, but in a good way.

We have a Studio cleaning day next Saturday and Cheyanne gets to come with me. I’m really excited about this. I love her so much and feel a sort of bond with her, especially since we’re both out-of-town-ers. Her mom was telling me how excited Cheyanne was when I text her about getting to be in 6s before I wrote the blog post, which really meant a lot to my heart. It’s one thing to be excited, but to have people be excited with you takes it to a whole other level. I haven’t had that much in my life, its still new to me. I know people love and support me, but usually they are just doing that to be nice or whatever. It hasn’t often been genuine excitement and understanding of why it’s exciting.
Her younger sister also took class with us yesterday, and the little nugget was showing up the older kids left and right!
Cheyanne and I will be in *hopefully* 3 classes together this next semester. I still have to register and decide how much I can actually afford to take. That’s the struggle. I really hate money and the need for it. Especially since the main stress in my life is my source of income, and for reasons out of my control. (Mainly just generational differences, so that’s cool…)

Until all of that gets figured out, I’ll keep truckin’. I’m trying not to worry too much about things and hoping photography picks up again so I can have a bit of a buffer again. Cause, ya know, that buffer is gone right now.
(Europe pictures are still coming soon and it was totally worth it so)

I’m hopeful. And as long as you have hope, you can endure just about anything.