I've been dancing a LOT lately. As in, way more than I ever have before. I'm not performing any more than usual, that has remained about the same, but I'm working on my dancing a lot more on my own and through additional training with my 2 fabulous instructors. Dancing is the hobby I'm most passionate about, and life is short, you know? :-) I've actually been working on my own choreography for something, which is *very* rare for me, as I'm an improvisational dancer. But it's for a special project, more details to come as events unfold. ;-) I've been working on that since January, and also working on improving technique, and I have found myself practicing for a short bit every single day. I've also been watching videos while I eat lunch at work of dancers that I admire, and they have been inspiring me to keep working at what I love to do. It all started rather quietly, but I have come to treasure my daily dance fix.
This brings us up to this past weekend, which included our twice annual studio show. I was dancing with my troupe as well as dancing solo, and so in the week leading up, I broke off from practicing the other choreography I had been working on and devoted the time to the group dances and getting to know the music that I would be soloing to, as I would be improvising. My secret is that I film myself a lot when I practice (I have grown in clinical detachment over the months, and this does not make me cringe anymore :0) and thus work to eliminate any funky things I may be unknowingly doing with my arms, hands or face. Awkward transitions and their ilk are removed with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel, I take this all very seriously. ;-)
And so I was all ready on Sunday afternoon for the show. I had 2 group pieces in the first set, those went great. Then I had my solo and a group number in the second set, and one final group dance in the third and final set.
I sailed out for my solo to music that I absolutely LOVE, was dancing my heart out, and everything was going grand. Until about 3/4 of the way through the song when I did something that caused an immediate, and sickeningly familiar, pain in my left leg: I had strained my calf muscle, right then and there, and this is a frustrating injury that I have been struggling with for years now. I did my best to keep my face from showing it, and kept dancing, because you all know me by now, and thus know that I don't give up on things very easily. :0 Luckily, the song was almost over, and while I had been debating doing a fast turn sequence at the end, the decision was made for me that there would be the MUCH MORE SUBDUED TURN SEQUENCE put into play instead. I was pleased with how the piece went, but I was worried about my leg, because I had a group number to perform next with just a single dance during which to change, and then in the third set a Saidi piece, which is an Egyptian folkloric dance with lots of hopping.
I changed my costume quick like a bunny and headed out for the next dance, trying not to limp. I made it, but there were lots of painful twinges while I danced, letting me know that all was not well in Left Calf Land.
Then I had to dress and prepare for the Saidi. Remember the hopping?
This time I chose the route of mental and emotional
Me: "All right Leg, the Saidi is up! You're strong and you feel fine. We're doing this!"
Leg: "You're not very bright are you?"
It was the last piece of the show, and I was determined that I would dance it. And I did, hopping and all. Thankfully, the worst of the hopping was on the right leg, but the left still had a cross to bear.
When the show ended and I had made it through despite the injury, I felt relieved and happy. Everything had gone beautifully. I figured that I would rest it up for the remainder of the day, take a nice hot shower, and lay on the couch a lot with it elevated. Based on previous experience, I knew that it would take about 6 weeks to fully heal, but I would likely feel mostly back to normal in 1-2 weeks if I took it easy. Well.
I woke up Monday morning and I COULD NOT WALK.
I stupidly had not applied any ice to it on Sunday, and after sleeping on it, it tightened up like nobody's business. I could put zero weight on my left leg, and I didn't take it so well. In tears, I consulted Dr. Google, and got my ice pack out. I stayed home from work (because there was no way I could even make it from the parking lot into the library), parked my butt on the couch, and applied ice for 20-30 minutes every hour. By the second application, I could already feel a difference. Although it wasn't pretty, I could use my left leg again. I did that all day long until the evening, when I applied heat to relax it a bit.
Tuesday morning it was still sore, but a lot better. I applied more ice in the morning, and went into work. As of today, Thursday, I'm walking completely normally and only have minimal soreness when I first wake up. I'm well on my way back to my happy dance routine, but this taught me an important lesson, and not just about the importance of ice application to inflamed tissue. :0
Sometimes we take things for granted, and we should not. We should cherish every moment that we get to experience joy, and never forget that it could be gone tomorrow. Depressing in a sense, but also very freeing. Everything that we have God gifted us with. We obviously have to also work hard to hone the gifts that He gives us, but we should not take for granted that they will always be there. They won't. As my dance teacher always says to encourage us before we perform: "What are you saving it for? Give everything you have, right in this moment!" I suppose that's how I injured my calf to begin with right in the middle of a performance :0 and it actually makes me happy to think of it this way: that it happened because I was truly giving everything of myself in that moment, and in that performance. It's a whole new perspective on performing, putting yourself out there, and making yourself vulnerable in front of others, I think.
I knew how meaningful dance is to me, but having it taken away from me this week has given me a new appreciation for how much it forms my happiness and identity. I hope to always be able to do what I love, but it's possible that at some point I may not be able to anymore. In the meantime, I'm going to give it everything that I have, and not take it for granted. I'm also going to adopt a regular calf stretching regime, especially before I perform, eek!
What brings you joy in your life that don't want to ever take for granted? :) Feel free to chat with me, and the community, in the comments!