Tea and Creativity

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According to recent reports drinking tea focuses the mind and increases creativity.* Well I LOVE TEA, but my tea of choice is herbal and fruit-based, rather than ordinary tea. So I was very excited to receive my latest order of exotic loose leaf teas from Tugboat in Cornwall yesterday!

This year I have decided to stop procrastinating and making lists and start DOING.  Next month I have the first two days of a 4 day course in Essential Oils for Non-Therapists course. I’ve been thinking a lot about winding up my soap and skincare side-gig, but I thought I’d get some further training to improve my knowledge of essential oils and their benefits and properties, and see where I am after that.

Another thing I am hoping to do is to work on my public reading nerves. I’ve accessed an online course on Udemy on reading the Bible aloud, so that I can actually do Bible readings at church without feeling like my throat is closing up and people are staring up my nose. I’m asked to read a lot, but I usually decline. (For some reason, I can do dramatic dialogue readings fine, I guess because I’m acting).

I’ll also be attending a one day workshop on Copywriting in July. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I got my degree in English Literature. While I was at University I tried to get as much writing experience as possible by doing regular music reviews and articles for various student publications. I was also writing my own novel in my spare time (nope, not finished…yet!). But then after that, life happened and that ambition was parked as I navigated the job market.

Well, now I am in that place of having been in my current job with a well-known charity for 8 years. Being a bit fed up of it and keeping an eye on what else is out there, I am coming back to my original ambitions and doing something about it! Copywriting is a really useful skill to have, whether it be for writing articles for this blog, my soap biz website, a new job in web content writing (hmmm?), church publicity, having another stab at freelance writing, it will be well worth it.

After all, why sit there pining when you can do something about it?

Dance News:

  • Rhythm Tap classes restart this week!
  • I’ve been informed that photos and videos of our Adult classes at Tap Dance Festival UK 2019 will be released shortly!
  • I’ve had my tickets through for MOVE IT 2019!

Don’t forget, there’s still time to enter my 42nd Street giveaway competition! Closes at Midnight (GMT) on Monday 4th March. 

*https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/16/suffering-writers-block-simple-cup-tea-gets-creative-juices/

Big Giveaway!

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I’ve never done this before, but I have decided to run a little giveaway competition! I saw 42nd Street twice while it was on in London recently and absolutely LOVED IT and then I recently watched the 1933 movie to see the original story and compare the two.

“The story follows the lives and careers of numerous individuals involved with a big-budget Broadway musical. The director, Julian Marsh (played by Warner Baxter), is desperate for success, having lost his fortune when the stock market crashed. When the star (played by Dorothy Brock) suffers an injured ankle, ingenue Peggy Sawyer (played by Ruby Keeler) is chosen to take the musical’s lead role and becomes a breakout success.” (Britannica.com)

For your chance to win a DVD copy of the original 42nd Street movie (1933), starring Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell, follow this blog (if you’re not already following) and then post a comment below telling me what you love about dance!

T&Cs: Only open to people in UK & Europe on this occasion (sorry international friends!). The competition will close at midnight (GMT) Monday 4th March, and I will pick the person with the best answer. I’ll then ask the winner to email me their name and an address for the purpose of sending the prize.

GDPR notice: I will ask for your name and address only for the purpose of posting your prize. Once the prize has been sent I will delete your personal information. Your information will not be shared with any third parties. I’m really hot on this data protection stuff.

Competition closed

A Weekend in Edinburgh

Edinburghview.jpgHope you’ve had a good weekend? I’ve just returned from a fun weekend in Edinburgh! My SO and I had some loyalty points to use on travel, so we used them to book a hotel and then bought our train tickets on top. Neither of us had ever been to Scotland before (apart from my coach trip to Stranraer to catch the ferry to Northern Ireland back in 1997 but that doesn’t really count), and a few of my colleagues had been for conferences recently and were raving about it, so we jumped at the chance to visit the compact Scottish capital…on Burns Night! It was just over a 4 hour train journey there, where we stayed in a spa hotel near the Usher Hall. We went for a morning swim in the spa, ate haggis with our breakfast and visited the amazing Edinburgh Castle, which looms over the city. We also saw the Scottish crown jewels and tasted whisky liqueur. LOVE IT! We will definitely go back.

Having attended the first two weeks of the Pilates Mat Work to Music course, I actually skipped last Monday’s class. Monday is usually my day of buying my salad items etc for lunch for the rest of the week, and since starting Pilates, I’m finding my weekly routine a bit off, and I’m chasing my tail to fit everything into a couple of days, plus trying to make up the time at work when taking two longer lunchtimes in four days. TB is an amazing, if not slightly intimidating teacher (!) and the postural work is really helping my achy left knee, but I feel over-committed. So…I’m withdrawing from that course and instead I’m going to try either going to the gym, pay as you go, for 20 mins to half an hour on a Tuesday, or just doing some strengthening stuff at home.

By Thursday last week I felt extremely tired, like I’d been punched in the eyes, but I knew I’d wake up once I got dancing. It’s so tempting to just not go to a class when you feel like that. We worked on the Shirley Temple exercise again, but in pairs where we keep turning 90 degrees. Very confusing, but it was fun to try and actually work out together when we should be facing each other, when we should be passing each other and when our backs should be facing! We also worked again on a heel toe step exercise which travelled across the studio, and we were given the option to try it swung (yes), slower or even faster (er no). Our teacher was showing me the faster version when we were going across the room to music, but I really need to work out the faster rhythm before trying to fit it into the music – I’ve since done this at home!

Our Naughty Little Flea routine practice was good and I’d made an effort to learn and remember all the steps that we’d learned so far, but the next part is quite difficult in that it goes off the beat and changes timing a LOT. I am going to try and go over the steps to first of all learn and remember them. THEN I will try altering the timing by listening to the track and trying it out. Rhythm tap is very taxing!

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas.

Mine was good fun and I really enjoyed the festivities and the break. My SO and I hosted twice, including on Christmas day itself, and all went swimmingly and everyone enjoyed themselves. I have to personally thank Mary Berry for her amazing Christmas cookbook which helped me know what I could prepare in advance, and our local butcher who did an amazing job of preparing the stuffed turkey crown wrapped in bacon plus a gammon!

I actually went to work for a half day on New Year’s Eve and my SO met me afterwards so we could go for Vietnamese food, followed by a trip to the theatre to see Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution at London’s County Hall, which was brilliant! I love Agatha Christie, and the whole courtroom setting for the play was extremely effective. It was thoroughly engaging from start to finish.

Today was my first day back at work this year, and it was definitely a struggle to prise myself out of bed at 6am and get back into commuting into London after sitting around in tracksuit bottoms for 2 weeks! Nearly everyone I spoke to is harbouring some infection or other, so I’m only breathing through my nose and continuing to dose up on vitamin c!

I also had the first Pilates class of my 11 week course which I booked for the purpose of cross-training for tap dance. I was a bit apprehensive on my way there, but it was a very good and informative class, led by TB who is an experienced dance teacher, specialising in jazz dance and ballet.

There were about 10 of us in the [fully booked] class (not sure where the others were!) and we spent our time working on correct, measured breathing, which we were then able to use to aid our exercises that followed. We were pulled and prodded (with our permission) to correct any misalignment as we did the exercises, and TB actually said I had a very good spine roll when I was rolling up through the vertebrae, which she would expect because I’m young – I’m not as young as she thinks! Previous dance classes made this a familiar exercise. But of course other exercises were more challenging, like judging whether your arms are in line with your shoulders when out in front or out to the sides. Trying to move one arm up and one arm down at the same speed at the same time while lying on your back…

I have 10 sessions left, and my only reservation is that it went on longer than I expected (partly my misreading the course details and partly the teacher starting late) , so my lunchtime was a lot longer than I hoped. This combined with a longer lunch on Thursday when I have tap, and I’m not sure if I should have gone for an after work conditioning course instead. My bad!

Anyway, I hope you have a positive start to the year. I am going to work on crafting some more blog posts to share with you!

Happy Christmas!

 

_20181222_152121.JPGI can’t believe the year is almost over! As Christmas day is almost upon us, I thought I’d share my highlights of 2018:

  • Tap Dance Festival UK Winter Intensive in Salford with amazing workshops
  • MOVE IT 2018 Tap workshop with Chloe and Maud Arnold of the Syncopated Ladies and percussive workshop with cast member from hit show STOMP
  • Cats the Musical Jellicle Ball and Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats workshops at Pineapple Studios with cast member Cameron Ball
  • Tap Dance Intensive at City Lit in Covent Garden (although only managed day 1 of 3!)
  • Moving up to Intermediates at Rhythm Tap class
  • Seeing The Tap Pack, 42nd Street (again) and The Play that Goes Wrong at the theatre
  • Trips to the Sky Garden and the Museum of London
  • Finally sorting out my home practice studio with suitable floor
  • Spa day at Sopwell House
  • Completing and passing another module on my course (Cert in HR Practice)DSC_0151.JPG

 

I look forward to continuing with Rhythm tap classes as well as starting Pilates in the new year. I also have a theatre trip (Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution), a couple of dance festivals and trip to Edinburgh lined up! I want to FINALLY complete my HR Practice Certificate, develop my writing further, learn some techniques for reading aloud and public speaking, plus I am really interested in learning bookbinding…

Anyway, before I get back to watching terrible movies on the ‘True Christmas’ channel:

I’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU for following and reading my blog and I hope you have a fabulous Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019!

 

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Christmas Legs

Poster PicAw, today was our last Rhythm Tap class of the year! I had been contemplating wearing some Christmas leggings and/or sparkly socks, but then I forgot all about it, and to be honest, I don’t actually have a pair of Christmas leggings. I have a Christmas jumper, but if I wore that, they’d be carting me off to St Thomas’ Hospital for overheating!

As you can see from the photograph above, our final class of the year was held in the basement studio ‘A04’ that we usually use on Wednesday nights, rather than our usual theatre rehearsal space ‘C10’, so while it was a familiar studio, it kind of threw some of us to be doing everything we’ve learnt (and more!) in a different space, if you know what I mean (C10 is square, A04 is long).

We had a full turnout today and we did our warm-up in a circle to some Christmas music and I noted that our teacher was wearing Christmas socks! We went straight into working on our Beautiful Tango routine, which is full of twists and turns and weight shifts. I would say it’s actually one of my favourites so far…maybe because I’m actually getting it! But really, there’s a lot of variety in there. We completed our routine, which went on to include slides and two Shirley Temples. I could do with practising these types of traditional steps more because I don’t want to be attending intermediate level classes and still unable to do basic combinations like a Shirley Temple or Suzy Q.

At the end of the class we had to perform the routine in 2 groups, with one group observing the other. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as you become aware that people are watching you, the nerves kick in and you get brain block! Well, I do anyway. I had the first half of the routine down ok, but when venturing into the newer parts, I knew something significant was coming up, but couldn’t remember what! Haha. It really wasn’t that bad.

Tip of the week: Keep your eyes forward and off the teacher!

It’s okay to watch the teacher when she’s demonstrating the steps, but when performing it try and do it as you remember it, rather than watching the teacher’s every move with the belief that you don’t know it.

Believe and commit!

 

Tips for Surviving The Winter Months

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Having an outdoor chai n’ cupcake

When I was a teenager, I used to get Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and would find I would get home from school in the dark Autumn and Winter months, lie down on the sofa and have ZERO energy to even get up to answer the phone, let alone tackle homework. I would dread the clock change every year.

Because of this, I made sure pretty much from then on to exercise or dance regularly during these darker months to keep my energy levels up and to just generally feel better and not let it get the better of me.

What is SAD? Also known as ‘Winter Depression’, the symptoms, according to the NHS include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/

To help others out there who find this time of year sapping, I’ve put together some survival tips:

  • If you work indoors, get outside into the daylight at lunchtimes or breaks as often as you can
  • Invest in a sunrise wake-up alarm clock to simulate a natural wake-up with warm, gradual light
  • Invest in a SAD lamp or light box
  • Take part in regular group exercise (e.g. tap dance, Zumba, spinning, running group). Group exercise will add a fun social element to your workout. Go, even when you don’t want to.
  • Try to eat plenty of fruit and dark green vegetables to boost your immune system. I’m also taking Vitamin C & Zinc supplements to ward off colds at the moment (especially with commuting on public transport!) I tried taking Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) last winter, but I didn’t really notice any effects. That might be different for you.
  • Stay hydrated – there’s so much heating on at the moment which can make you feel drowsy and dry
  • While it may be tempting to cosy up in candlelight when you get home in the evenings, if you want to get anything done, put the lights on full until nearer bedtime. Don’t let early sunset steal your day! (I have to say I am very sensitive to lighting and have many lamps and candles about the house).
  • Go for walks in the evenings – yes, even though it’s dark (don’t let the dark win!)
  • Have a regular bedtime
  • Put some things in the diary to look forward to – theatre trip, spa day, coffee with friends, family meet-ups, Christmas markets, carol concert, museum trip. On Saturday my SO, his sister and I went to see The Play That Goes Wrong in the West End, and I honestly haven’t laughed that hard in ages.

Let me know if you find these tips useful.

Do you have anything to add? What keeps you buoyed during the darker months?