Sunday, 14 May 2017

Plot twist! Great news!

Hello once again Readers!

So this has been a rather interesting week this past week. A lot of different things have kind of landed in my lap and admittedly, all of it's exciting to say the least! At least I find it exciting. You might not, I don't know. I don't know you now do I? Alas, it's a fair bit of interesting news and it's funny how things seem to keep lining up back to back for me. I've noticed that since I met my coach and started skating, opportunities seem to be popping up and tossing things at me as I buckle down and work actively towards my goals.

I won't lie. It's great. Few things have presented themselves to me in the last few years beyond the obvious 'getting married' thing. Which is just as exciting as all of this. I'm so nervous. Seriously. Skating, Ballet and Riding keep me fairly calm though. Sometimes I doubt myself. But then I remember, I've been in love with her every day for the last 8+ years and I know it's the right thing. Still makes me nervous being in front of all those people though!

Moving on from my lovey-doveyness (Love you Sarah.), I'm happy to say that my skating time and career is likely to improve aggressively. The only downside being is that I will likely have a longer drive to get to my club once things change. My coach has chosen to move to another club (About a 25 minute drive from where I am.) and since I'd prefer not to lose her as a coach, I contacted the club she is moving to....and now I'm not sure why I didn't before. Not only do they provide skating year-round, they also have an adult program as well as private lessons. Seriously, it's awesome.

They also are looking to have an adult Synchro team this year and through a bunch of inquiring emails I may be trying out for it! I do actually love synchro but it's really not often you see men doing it. Not that I mind. It makes me the rarity. After careful consideration I think I'm going to try out for it. The skills they're looking for fall under what I've learned with my coach and while I'm no expert, I'm confident at them more or less.

So yay! <3

I can't remember if I've mentioned it before. But before I met my fiancée and delved into these hidden dreams of mine. All I ever did was play video games. I was a completely different person 5+ years ago. Not only am I happier these days, but I'm healthier and have a generally more positive outlook. Heck, I find most video games boring these days. I barely have anything in the way of a console these days. They just don't hold my interest or attention like they used to and I'm happy for that.

I wish everyone could rediscover themselves like I have. When you forget the world and people looking down on you for a little while and manage to take that plunge into your dreams. Everything changes for the better. I spent too long looking down that big, scary tunnel before deciding to go down it.

So a bit of a random blog today but hopefully it gives some insight into how things are going and how I feel about things lately!

Ciao for now!

Sam

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Skating to Ballet: Fondu and Sticky Chocolate! Additional Lessons #3!

Hello once again readers!

I do hope that this blog gets read and inspires some people to follow their dreams. I received feedback previously on a forum I post to that said they hope my blog inspires others to follow their dreams. I don't think I could have gotten a nicer compliment and it made me smile to think that this blog is helping to inspire others or even provide a bit of an entertaining read. I haven't said it yet, but thank you everyone who does take the time to read this! It's been a pleasure writing it.

But alas! I came here for a reason. To write about todays lesson (Yup! I'm actually managing to write it the day after the lesson rather than half a week late haha. No more procrastinating.) We did all sorts of interesting stuff during this lesson with a few new pieces as well as practicing the basics/foundations of ballet as a whole. Also, is it weird that every time I listen to music now, I see skating routines that I could do to the music?

ON TO THE LESSON!

Rhythm/Bar Exercises/Pointe-Demi Pointe - So we worked plenty on these. This made up a fair chunk of our lesson and now that I'm getting the rhythm and movements down a bit more, it goes a bit smoother. It's quite interesting and fun learning to move your body in ways you don't normally do so. Smooth and easy. Though I find it hard to squeeze too crazy much into our lessons with the time limitation.

Plie - We are still working mostly on the first three positions here. My rhythm is getting a tiny bit better though I just learned about how I'm supposed to turn my foot when pointing so that's new! It looks so fancy <3 The main part I still struggle with is going into a full plie and not bringing my heels off the ground before I actually get to the grand plie. (Hopefully that's the right term? Correct me if it's not!) Hopefully in time I can get this down.

Weight Transfer - We once again touched down on weight transfer. My coach has reassured me that figuring out the quick 'turns' when transferring weight and where to put my feet will come in time and eventually just be muscle memory. Thank the gods for that because at this point I tend to confuse myself over and over. By the end I did get better however.

Fondu - So we did practice a new movement this lesson called a 'Fondu'. So many strange French words I will have to get used to! It's essentially a plie with the exception of bringing on foot off the floor up along your leg as you go into your squat/plie. The key here is that you're to show 'resistance' as you drag your foot off the ground and up your leg. The way it was explained to me is that you're trying to pull your foot out of sticky toffee or chocolate. It made sense ^_^

Jumping Focus - We tried to make it to jumping this lesson but we ran out of time unfortunately so it's been decided the next lessons focus will be on jumping and some of the more acrobatic moves that come with ballet. Hopefully I'm not doing splits mid-air or anything because I can't even do them on the ground yet! All in good time. I'm looking forward to this lesson!

That's really it for the content of my lesson. A question as posed to me whether or not I'd like to focus on ONLY the skills transferable to skating or if I'd liked to be trained as any other dancer. It's a good question but as much as this is the improve my skating I've found I've really enjoyed learning it. So I opted to learn as any other dancer would and I'll apply the skills to my skating as I see the ability to do so.

That's about it for this entry. Keep following your dreams and fulfilling those passions!

Ciao for now!

Sam


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Skating to Ballet: Additional Lessons #2!

Hello once more readers!

While this blog is a touch late, I've been struggling to find how to best format it and describe my recent experiences. It seems I always post about being late don't I? I'll stop that now. My bad.

So then! This is entry #2 regarding my Ballet Lessons that I've recently taken on. Lesson number two was this past Saturday and while I generally dislike getting up early on weekends, I was genuinely excited to for once. Actually...the more I get out and actively do things the more I find myself wanting to get out and do more things and enjoy as much of the day as I can. Funny how a few small changes can make such a big difference! Especially for someone as introverted as me.

My lesson this week was great. While they are unfortunately, shorter lessons. We do manage to squeeze a fair amount of things into them and I am able to practice throughout the week where I can find time/space. Though I've discovered my local gym has a room I can use when it's not occupied AND it's a private space. Bonus! Thanks for that snippet of Info Lindsay!

I guess I should explain what my lesson contained? Shouldn't I? That IS what this blog is for. But before I do, I've been asked a few times why I write these. While it's a fun hobby and a way to share my experiences. It's also to help retain information and make my lessons sink in more. While I am a 'learn by doing' sort of person, I find that writing about each lesson I do helps kind of 'ingrain' the lesson in my head. It was an idea that originally came from a horseback riding coach I used to ride with and one I've kind of stuck with since. I've found for me, as I am quite forgetful. It helps loads and I would recommend the idea to just about anyone!

ON TO THE LESSON!

Rhythm/Bar Exercises/Pointe-Demi Pointe - This is generally what we start each lesson with after a good stretch on the yoga mats. (Which I've been doing all week! I've discovered muscles I didn't even know I had!) These consist of music playing while we practice the different positions. (So far we have only worked on positions 1, 2 and 3.). This also involves working on moving the feet and pointing the toes in Pointe/Demi-Pointe. Which as I understand it Demi means half with most things in ballet. These are fun, although I don't fully get the rhythm yet so I find I rush to catch up to my instructor.

Plie - As comes with Ballet, we did focus on doing Plies in this lesson both in the first position and second position which are basically identical except in one your feet are together in a V and the other they are the same except shoulder width apart. It's one of the few places where my heels coming off the floor in a squat comes in handy! Though I still have to work on stretching out those heels any way I can. Plies are interesting and combing with proper posture and arm placement I definitely find they make me a touch more aware of my body.

Weight Transfer - Next we did do some focus on was weight transfer. Pointing and stepping into different positions while properly transferring weight from leg to leg. Once I get the pattern down and how to do this properly I'm sure I'll be more successful/able to practice. It was a lot of fun though and it's certainly interesting feeling how to move as a dancer.

Jumping - So we touched base on this at the veeeery end of the lesson. Not too much, just basic stuff in first position jumping up and landing with knees bent. I did ok, but I have to work on keeping stable and proper posture while doing these!

So that was more or less the basis for my lesson. My homework was to work on training up my back muscles as best I can by using the 'cobra' yoga pose and finding the muscles in my back that I'm supposed to use when moving my arms. And here I naively thought I was supposed to use my shoulders! It's been good so far and I'm seeing tiny bits of improvement the more I do it. Though I wish the week had allowed me more time at the gym.

With this entry coming to a close, I just wanted to say I am genuinely surprised. While I've always loved skating and what it entails, I didn't expect that t and ballet would be my 'calling' per-se. The things that I am driven to do and enjoy doing more than anything. Not that I'm complaining, as the old commercial says, 'Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something!' *insert T-rex noises here* Heh. Loved that commercial.

Alas! Our time draws to a close. Happy trails!

Ciao for now,

Sam

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Oodles of Positivity!

Hello again!

Bit of an off-beat entry today. I just wanted to talk a bit about how crazy my life has changed since just before I started this blog. Maybe it's been noticeable and maybe it hasn't, I don't know. But I can't express how positive my life has become. Less six months ago I was more or less in a funk, close to what I'd describe as depression. No, I'm not talking crazy suicidal depression. But I was generally in a crap, low mood all the time and it sucked. For the life of me I couldn't figure out what it was...

...Then I made changes and started pursuing things that had always held my interest and had been dreams I withheld. I started DOING. And boy has it been a strangely amazing journey. I'm getting married, which is something I didn't think I would ever do and yet here I am about to commit to spending my life with someone and I'm not at all afraid of that prospect. She has changed my life in more ways than one and I wouldn't be where I am without her. I never thought I'd get married...but its about to change my life.

Then there's my hobbies. For the longest time I've kind of coasted through life. Doing things that while they kept me entertained, didn't really make me feel whole or that kind of happy you have when you're doing something you know you love. In the last year I've significantly dropped video games from my life with very few exceptions. (I still have a computer and play them on occasion.) But I've gotten rid of almost every console I own and have yet to replace ones that have gotten wrecked due to things beyond my control. (Like a cat who hated my 3DS.) It's interesting how much happier it has made me to get away from electronics and into pursuits that make me happy.

Horses have always been a love and a part of my life that isn't going away. I do love and enjoy them but I've always felt there has been something more beyond it. There is a reason I kept track of figure skating without telling people, there's a reason I've chosen to never pursue my other dreams. Anxiety is a big part of it, but confidence was too. You get yourself in such a 'funk' and feel you're never going to get anywhere and simply settle for what you have, which in my case simply made things worse. But now that I've re-discovered my passion for skating I can't describe how much happier I am.

I'm also healthier. Sure, I still occasionally eat crap food and can be lazy on occasion. But I find I get out more now. I do more and I'm enthusiastic about doing more. No word of a lie, there was a point where going for a walk was the most boring thing on the planet to me. Now I find myself excited to get out of the house. Plus I no longer look like a vampire all the time, yay <3

Alongside taking on a hobby that has made me happy. I've also discovered new things that I didn't truly expect to enjoy. Ballet for example. I opted into it to improve my skating at the advice of a few close to me. Before, I wouldn't have been confident to do something considered so feminine or something that put me with strangers or groups of people and yet I have found that I enjoyed my lesson significantly more than I expected and that I'm looking forward to the next one. (Never once have I danced while listening to music so much as I have in the last week :D)

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that there is so much positivity in my life right now. It's been a fairly long time since I've walked around with a genuinely happy smile on my face and I can only get more excited but the rest of the year holds for me.

Hopefully this entry isn't too hard to read through, I feel I sometimes repeat myself a lot. Believe it or not I don't proof-read these blogs at all so that you get my genuine thoughts and feelings as they come out whether they make sense or not. I've really enjoyed writing this so look forward to more entries in the future!

Thanks for reading!

Ciao for now!

Sam

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Skating to Ballet: Additional Lessons #1!

Hello once again!

I fiiiiinally have something new to write about, skating has unfortunately slowed down due to ice availability (At least locally) and so my skating related posting ability has been limited as well. Though that doesn't mean I haven't done any skating or anything skating related. In fact, I practiced my skating techniques in a public skating session for the first time just recently.

The company I work for puts on a free public skate for 2 hours on a Saturday every year and I decided to go and enjoy it. Not many people showed up so the ice was nice and open! There was about ten of us and I convinced myself to practice my figure skating in those two hours. I even got some compliments which made me smile. I'm never in it for the compliments, but they do feel good! Beyond that though I've been unable to get ahold of any ice time which kind of stinks!

Alas, I've had to look at alternate ways to improve my skating when I can't get ahold of the ice and through both research and the advice of friends I've found myself enrolled in Ballet. There are a lot of techniques that can be shared between the two sports and I'm told that it can help with a lot of the issues I imagine most guys have in figure skating which are posture, gracefulness and positioning. Or at least those are my struggles!

Today was my first lesson and as usual...I was nervous. Not unusual for me. Anxiety-man should be my superhero name with how nervous I get sometimes. But I made it to the lesson and I have to admit. It was both fun, interesting and informative. I really should stop being surprised at how much I enjoy doing new things. I've always wanted to try some form of dance class so this was an interesting step for me as I didn't think it'd be Ballet.

I learned plenty in the lesson and my instructor was very knowledgeable, and friendly. Which helped my nerves a lot and while I'd love to do an individual breakdown of the things I learned like I do with my skating lesson entries, for the life of me...I can't remember half the French words for all the moves just yet. I know we practiced basic Plie positions and I vaguely remember the word 'demi' used a lot when we were doing things half-way. Buuuuut alas, it was all so new and exciting that I kind of flubbed remembering all the wording. I'll make sure to include the wording and descriptions of what I did in future entries as I remember them.

Also, I move like an ox. Haha. I do hope in time these classes will help me be at least a touch more graceful.

Now, I recently had a discussion with my skating coach about skating and what makes her love skating and its nice to know that someone shares the same feeling as I do:

"I love skating. Something about it, just gliding and speed and riding the edges out of jumps. Expressing yourself through music and getting tossed around is fun. It's lonely, chaotic and full of life. A peaceful place to call home."

I couldn't have put that in better words myself. While I may not have done any crazy jumps yet or anything. I get those feelings and sentiments. There is just something deeply enjoyable about figure skating for me and seeing that answer really reinforces my choice of coach. It's one thing to find a teacher, but another to find someone who feels the same way you do about skating.

Just a bit of a tidbit in there, but thanks to my coach for being awesome!

Ciao for now!

Sam


Monday, 3 April 2017

Skate Carnival - Norwich, Ontario/Summer Plans

Hello again!

So on a past Saturday I attended my local skating clubs end of year Carnival and I have to admit, it was great. It was well put together with a fair share of talented skaters and dedicated staff. It was just over an hour long and I actually saw the show twice. It was a lot of fun and Im noticing I am becoming more acclimated to the cold the more time I spend at the arena, which my fiancee loves because she likes leaving the window open all winter.

Now, my plans for summer are slowly coming together. Ive got a fair plan potentially laid out. After the wedding I intend to go into skating as often as I can as well as take a few ballet lessons mixed in between. Ive been told ballet helps a lot with body positioning, posture, gracefulness and your lines while skating which are all things I need. Im in talks with a few local places. about both. Ingersoll for ballet and cambridge/london for potential skating lessons over the course of the summer. At the time of writing this, Ive actually booked my first five ballet lessons. Ill blig about them and how it can be applied to skating as I do them.

Ive also been thinking about potwntial ice rental options through the summer and have done a fair amount of research on it. By the looks of it, moat nearby places charge 40-60 bucks an hour for casual ice which cant be booked more than 24 hours in advance. Which I can certainly work with!

Anyways, Just a short entry this time.

Ciao for now!

Sam

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Achievement Unlocked: Backwards Crossovers/Cross Cuts!!

Hello everyone!

So my coach asked me to help her do some videos for Skate Canada so she can get her next coaching level. Since she has been so awesome I decided to help and I'm really really glad I did. We went through a few things I already know. All my edges and stroking techniques that I'm familiar with, although my forwards crosscuts done on each edge are a bit shaky. Ill practice those when I get the chance, but it was a lot of fun re-running through all of it so she could get some video. I feel like I'm improving, hopefully I don't lose TOO much over the course of the summer.

We also did some of my first attempts at jumping. Three-turn jumps, bunny hops and we did attempt a few jumps where you go from backwards crosscuts to a turn and then a jump. You end up backwards at the end of it. I don't remember the name and I probably explained that poorly. It was AWESOME though! I had a ton of fun and admittedly, I'm really not looking forwards to a pause on lessons for the summer. At least it opens up time for wedding planning!

My biggest achievement this time I think though was my backwards crossovers/cross cuts. Up until this session I've struggled to wrap my head around the concept of them and getting the footwork down. This time I totally managed to nail them! I managed to do them around a full circle and get the footwork down more. I also am working on figuring out where my arms go and how to counterbalance my movements. I was SO excited for this! I've tried it a few times at a few of the adult skates but I have yet to really nail them until now. Yay!

I really have to find out how to practice during the summer so I don't lose all of the knowledge I've gained. It's interesting, I've noticed with skating that the more I do it, the happier I am doing it. I keep getting driven and motivated to go back to it. I think over the summer I'm going to focus on skating where I can while getting into better shape for skating, as well as improving my gracefulness and body placement which are both things I can easily do off-ice.

I've got the skating carnival this Saturday I'm going to watch as well, a friends daughter is skating in it and it should be a lot of fun!

Anyways, that's about it for this entry!

Ciao for now!

Sam