The final chapter of Ammena

I remember being shocked and saddened after our dance instructor, Lise-Anne Talhami, announced that An Explosion of World Dance & Music 2017 would be the last annual show put on by the Ammena Dance Company and that the studio would close shortly after. I remember crying too, as did many of my fellow dancers who attended the same showcase night in late-March 2016.  The showcase night consists of snacks, drinks, and Lise-Anne performing short snippets of dances she  choreographs for the interest of the dancers who wanted to be in the 2017 show.

I chose a burlesque piece, as per usual. But I decided to do a second piece as well that was simply titled “Finale” and encompassed a number of dance styles that were performed throughout the years the show has run and showcased the diversity that Ammena has embraced and displayed with pride. Committing to two dances meant I had practice two nights a week, which was a pain for a homebody such as myself and a source of disappointment for my daughter who just wanted Mommy to stay home. But duty, and the stage, called.

Photo by Cameron Aldous

Before I was so lovingly dragged brought into the Ammena dance community by my friends Tanya and Lindsay (they know I love ’em), the last time I had performed in front of an audience was in the fall of 2000 when I participated in two one-act plays for a one-act festival in high school. How a shy, introverted person such as myself enjoys being up on stage I may never know. I had mad-crazy stage jitters for my first Ammena show in 2014, mostly because I had never danced in front of an audience before and I was wearing dance heels to boot. But it became one of those things where if you do it enough you don’t think about all the sets of eyes watching you or messing up the choreography here and there, and the costumes, heavy stage make-up, and even dancing in heels becomes fun.

Then there’s the people you meet and the friends you make: the ray of sunshine who exudes positivity and gives the best hugs, the powerhouse that doesn’t care about what others think of her and jokes about the different versions of her RBF, and the goofball who has a certain way with words and can easily cheer you up just by being her bubbly self. I had never been exposed to so many different personalities as I have with the few years I have been an Ammena dancer.

During the months leading up to the 2017 show, I had grown to dislike hearing the word “last” because it was always said in regards to the show: the last hair and make-up tutorial night, the Iast dress rehearsal, the last post-show get together, etc. I know its obvious my dislike was because of the sadness that came along with the word and the finality of it all, but it was almost like experiencing a slow, painful death. How can we make the word “last” more enjoyable, at least for my sake?

Emotions ran rampant at the Yates during rehearsals the week before the show. We were all happy to be together, we loved seeing the small improvements in our dances, but then someone would point out how we’d be doing something for the last time (there’s that damn word again) and everyone would start tearing up but would try to keep it together for the sake of their stage make-up. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with those who became emotional, but I don’t remember crying at all that entire week. I teared up here and there, but I think by that point I was too focused on avoiding  having to redo my make-up (pain in the ass!) to allow myself to break down. Part of me is mad at myself for not full-out crying the whole time we were at the Yates, but I think back to that time in the studio when Lise-Anne made the announcement and I realize that I had already mourned the death of the show. I was more interested in making it the best show Ammena had ever put on, and my brain wouldn’t allow sadness to distract me from my purpose.

And I think it’s safe to say that it was our best show ever.

Dearest Lise-Anne. Thank you for creating the Ammena Dance Company and, in turn, the Ammena dance family. You have brought together an extraordinary community of kind, loving, and empowering women who I don’t think I would have ever crossed paths with otherwise. I needed Ammena, I just didn’t know it at the start. I have great stories to share with my daughter when she’s older and great friends to share my life with for years to come. You did so much more than teach us how to dance, and if you didn’t know that before, you do now.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Photo by Cameron Aldous

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Breaking the habit

If you asked me to choose between a sweet treat and a salty snack, I would choose the sweet treat every single time. I’m not sure I would go as far as to say I’m a sugar addict — and I actually contemplated whether I should call myself one for this post — but I do have a hard time saying no to it. Coca-Cola, juice, chocolate, candy, baked goods, Nutella, jam, and most desserts are all things that I’ve scarfed down without a second thought of what it was doing to my body.

We all know that sugar is bad for you, mostly because too much contributes to weight gain and acne. But it wasn’t until recently when a friend of mine recommended I watch a couple documentaries on Netflix that I opened my eyes (and mind) to the real damage my excessive sugar consumption was doing to my body.

After watching Fed Up and Sugar Coated, my world fell down around me (not literally, obviously) and one word summed up how crappy I felt: “Shit.” (Yay puns!)

Now, I’m not going to go into too much of what those documentaries talked about because I feel that it is important for others to watch them and come to their own conclusions. Yes, I write a blog, but I feel out of place when I am expected to influence people’s decisions and beliefs (blogger fail!). But I will let you know what watching them did for me (expletives aside).

I had to stop drinking so much Coca-Cola immediately, and that is tough for me because I think I’ve drank it since I was about five or so. But when you see a pile of sugar sitting next to a can of Coke, and you understand the damage that it is doing to your teeth and bones, well, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

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Now, understand that I said “stop drinking so much” instead of “stop drinking full stop”. Realistically, I don’t think I will ever be able to go without sugar entirely, but considering what my intake was a week ago compared to now, I have made huge strides in improving my health (and hopefully that of my daughter’s by example).

I stopped having my nightly dessert of whatever sweets we have laying around, whether it be leftover Christmas goodies (yes, we still have some), cookies, or chocolate. I allow myself only one “tall” size Starbucks drink during the week (my grocery shopping trip treat) instead of taking advantage of double-star days and my “I’ve made it through the work week” celebratory frappuccino Friday afternoons. I’ve also stopped heading into my co-worker’s office to take a piece of chocolate out of her candy dish (and that’s really hard because she has peanut butter chocolate hearts in there right now!)

Coincidentally, around the same time I started, a friend of mine was also cutting back on the amount of sugar she was eating. We’ve agreed to send each other photos of disapproving looks when we get off track. She sent me this just as an example, but I can never feel bad when I see a picture of Pusheen.

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I’ve only been doing this for six days, but I’ve definitely felt a difference. I have better focus at work and I don’t feel so tired mid-way through my mornings. My skin is clearing up and I sleep more soundly. I’ve lost roughly four pounds (probably water weight, but a loss is a loss) and I feel more energetic when I’m on my treadmill. Saying no to sugar gets easier too because I know what my goal is and why I am doing this in the first place. Also, documentary flashbacks are a scary thing. *shudder*

So we’ll see how this goes. I’m pretty sure I am on the right track, and making better choices and eating this way will become second nature to me. I’ll update you on my progress in a future blog post.

SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

This past Wednesday, tickets went on sale for our final dance show! (See fancy poster.)

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Saturday night’s show is selling out quick, but there are still plenty of great seats available for Friday night’s performance. We had a mock dress rehearsal this past Saturday and I was so happy to see how all the dances have come together. It’s going to be a great show and you might regret it if you are not there, so get your tickets while you still can!

/end SHAMELESS PROMOTION TIME!

Your turn!

Have you watched either Fed Up or Sugar Coated on Netflix? What are your thoughts?

Have you recently cut your sugar intake?  Do you have any advice/tips for me?

Are you coming to our dance show? The correct answer is “yes”. ;)

Life Lately #1

I’m going to try something a little different on the blog called Life Lately.

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Really, its just a quick and easy way for me to let you know what I’ve been up to lately. Feel free to do this on your own blog if you like the idea.

1. As my dance instructor announced this week, we have only SIX MORE WEEKS until our final show. Gosh, even typing that made my heart beat faster. We’ve finished learning choreography for the two numbers that I am in, so we will be using the remaining weeks to polish things and practice the difficult parts over, and over, and over again. It is tedious, we get yelled at, and your buttons get pushed, but it is worth it to make the show run smoothly and the dances seem effortless.

 

2. I’ve felt burnt out from almost everything these days. How about you? I don’t feel refreshed with the start of the new year but more like I’m constantly running to catch up. This leaves me exhausted at the end of the day and not wanting to do much but be a blob on the couch and watch my YouTube subscriptions. I’m also pretty sure my Instagram followers are wondering why the hell I have an account in the first place. Believe me, I do too. I’m not a photophile by any means. I’m more in the moment when things are happening, and grabbing my phone to take a photo is one of the last things I think of. Maybe I should start creating to-do lists so I can feel like I actually accomplished something when I’m that exhausted blob at the end of the day.

3. I may not be a photophile, but I am definitely a musicphile! I have quite an eclectic taste in music, and when I find something I love I am quick to share it with others.

These are some songs I have recently saved on Spotify:

  • Saint Cecilia by Foo Fighters
  • How Did You Love by Shinedown
  • Good Thing by Fine Young Cannibals
  • Plus five songs by Kenny Rogers (I told you I had an eclectic taste in music)

4. Who else has been watching the current season of Sherlock? My husband and I have been watching it Sunday nights during Masterpiece on PBS. O.M.G. How good was The Lying Detective episode? It now ranks as one of my top favourite episodes! Last week, while planning where we will stay during our trip to London, I found a nice hotel only a few blocks west of where they film the exterior of 221B Baker Street (which is actually 187 North Gower Street). This has ramped up my excitement about our trip quite a bit, so I hope we can book it and maybe eat a few times at Speedy’s (which is an actual sandwich shop). Eeeeeeeeeeeee!

5. Along with dance, I’ve started Couch to 5k again. If you followed me this past summer on Instagram (when I was posting every day, har har), you may remember seeing a few photos where I shared my progress. Well, I got to Day 3 of Week 5 and kinda just stuck there. Yesterday, I finished Day 3 of Week 2 and I don’t feel challenged yet. YAY! I’m one of those oddballs that actually loves running on the treadmill as opposed to going outside and pounding the pavement. What helps get me through my runs is a good playlist. I will share my running playlist with you in a future post.

Your turn!

What have you been listening to lately? I’m always interested in others’ taste in music.

Have you ever been to London? If so, what did you enjoy the most? I’ve been on the London Eye during the day, but now I want to see what it is like at night.

2017: A Lethbridgian Preview

Happy new year!

As much as I would like to charge onward into 2017 with a positive outlook, I already know that I will experience some sadness along with happy times — hopefully more of the latter. So, instead of delving into my resolutions for the new year (I have none, really), let’s gaze into my crystal ball to see what the upcoming year has in store for me.

Ammena’s last dance show

This is the sadness I was talking about. 2017 will be the last year the Ammena Dance Company will put on its annual show, An Explosion of World Dance & Music. This will be my fourth year dancing in the show, and I was shocked to hear it would be my last. I have made a lot of new friends through the company and have thoroughly enjoyed being on stage again, but I also understand the reasons behind the studio’s closure. Everyone involved in the show is dedicated more than ever before to make this year’s show the best ever, and I look forward to making that happen.

(photo credit)

Our 10th wedding anniversary

My husband and I were married on June 2, 2007, so this year we get to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Really, now… WHOOSH! Where did the time go? We’ve been through rough times and good times like most couples, but I am so glad that we persevered and made it this far. We are far from perfect and still have our difficulties, but I think we are in the best place we have ever been, so it can only go up from here.

(photo credit)

A week in London

To celebrate 10 years of marriage, we are going to spend a week in London late May/early June. YAAAAAAAY! I get giddy just thinking about it! London is my favourite city in the world and I always experience something new every time I go. This trip will be my third and my husband’s second. June 2 falls on a Friday this year, so we want to go out for a fancy supper and enjoy a night out on the town. I have been pinning ideas to my Pinterest account for MONTHS now. SO MUCH EXCITE! :D

 

So that’s a brief preview of what the upcoming year has in store for me. I am so glad that I’ve finally gotten into the swing of things with updating the blog on a weekly basis. I look forward to sharing my life with you in the upcoming months, so I hope you will stick around.

Your turn!

What are you looking forward to the most in 2017?

Can we all agree to never speak of 2016 ever again?

2016: A Lethbridgian Review

I’ve only been blogging on a regular basis for the past four weeks, so it may seem a little silly for me to write a year-end review. But I assure you, it can still be done!

I’m going to fill you in on what I was doing before I came back to the blog in November.

January

2016 was going to be the year I would finally lose weight. Forget the past nine or so years I have been saying it, I was actually going to accomplish it this year — and I did! Most of the kudos belong to my treadmill (for getting me off the couch) and my Fitbit (for helping me track my progress). I still have a little more weight to lose, but I have formed a pretty solid foundation as far as my eating and exercise habits go, so I just need to keep going strong into the new year and I may finally reach my goal in 2017. I can’t wait!

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February

For the first time since I don’t know when, I experienced true tranquility when I visited the feature pyramid dedicated to the Year of the Monkey at the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. Something about the sound of trickling water, the feel of cool air on my skin, and the sights and smells of the surrounding plant life made me never want to leave. The sense of calm I experienced actually brought tears to my eyes. After coming home, I knew that I needed to see the garden one last time before it changed over to a different theme, so I dragged my family up for a day trip on the final day. The trip was exhausting but worth it.

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March

This was my third year dancing in the Ammena Dance Company‘s annual show, An Explosion of World Dance & Music. I chose to be in a circus-themed burlesque piece set to Circus by Britney Spears and Applause by Lady Gaga. I wore a ringmaster’s outfit as my costume, and was thrilled to learn that this piece would open the show. It was A LOT of fun!

(photo credit)

April

This year marked 15 years since I graduated from Catholic Central High School (feeling old, now), and since plans for our 10-year reunion fell through, a group of classmates decided to organize a 15-year reunion at Average Joe’s instead. It was a night of drinks, appetizers, and a lot of catching up. Unfortunately, not many of my high school friends were able to attend, but I enjoyed seeing everyone who could.

May

There is not much to note from May aside from finally being given the go-ahead to move my desk at work to a new area. My new space is larger and has more natural light than my old desk. Plus I get to look out of a huge window every day. Not too shabby!

June

My husband and I got to dress up all fancy and attend a ball to celebrate our 9-year wedding anniversary. We clean up pretty good, eh?

July

For most of the first half of 2016, our daughter was obsessed with the children’s show Peppa Pig. My husband’s cousin tipped me off about a Peppa Pig meet & greet happening at West Edmonton Mall, so we decided to plan a whole trip around it. In addition to waiting an ungodly amount of time to meet and have our picture taken with Peppa Pig, we went to the World Waterpark, Galaxyland, the sea lion show, and observed the marine life at Sea Life Caverns.

August

For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to take our daughter to Calaway Park during the August long weekend. Nope, not doing that again. But I felt the need to have her experience a right of passage of almost every child who grows up in southern Alberta. She had a blast, so that’s all that matters. Not the line-ups, or the expensive food, or the heat, or all the walking you have to do, or…

September

Another first that our daughter got to experience this summer was her first ride in an airplane. My sister-in-law was getting married just north of Vernon, B.C., and we decided to skip a lengthy car ride in favour of an hour-long plane ride and a little bit of driving. This was one of our smarter ideas out of all of our summer excursions. I’m happy to report our daughter is a natural flyer who enjoyed every minute up in the air. It was nice to be back in B.C. again too since the last time we were both there was shortly after our wedding in 2007. Beautiful, as always.

October

I took a break from social media in October to focus more on myself. The steady decline in sunlit hours wreaks havoc with my mental health and I was not feeling great. I feel the need to take a break from social media every once in a while so I can recharge my batteries (hello, introvert!) and get away from all of the voices on my various social media feeds. It helps me retain my sanity, really, even though it pisses off my friends and followers when I disappear with no warning. But I think it’s better to go on a hiatus than to constantly post depressing updates.

Your turn!

What have you enjoyed about my blog so far?

What would you like to see more of in 2017?