Footnotes: ¹Ginger is a new instructor but has been performing for years. She’s an Aussie! ²The second instructor is Portia de Favro🔗. N&K were itching to try one of her classes but she’s only doing intermediate and advanced. After a year of burlesquing, we feel that we’re past beginner stage but not quite intermediate.³Congratulations to Cherry on Top and Ariel Helvetica on bringing 2 new tinies to the GVA!
So if you follow us on Instagram you know we recently did the student show case with the Vancouver Burlesque Company. I got to dance with a level 2 group. I was totally out of my element and felt very insecure.
Dancing puts me in a vulnerable position.
1. I’m not a small girl. So I feel like its obvious, me, this giant chick on the stage
2. Being giant, you are gunna see that a) I’m bigger than others, height and weight and b) you will see I’m not a good dancer (especially since I was dancing with former dancers).
3. Others in my dance classes are good dancers. They have danced before and they know what position 1 means.
4. I was told when I was younger, and wanted to join ballet, that I cant be a dancer because I’m to tall (Stupid that the things we are told when we are young sticks with us).
So yah, I’m feeling vulnerable but determined to do it. But this experience got me thinking about my thoughts vs others. What I see is me as an elephant in the room, dancing with cute ballerinas. BUT what others see is me doing well. I got good feedback from my friends. But these crappy feelings of me looking stupid flood other parts of my life too.
For example, at my gym, for the longest time, I always thought I could see my tummy reflecting off the heater that is located on the roof right above me. It literally took me over a year to realize it wasn’t my belly at all, but the big ball I was using making the reflection!
Like what the heck!?
Why? Why do I assume, this big ball is my stomach reflecting? Why do I go to a negative place? Why didn’t see a ball? Why didn’t I see me accomplishing this one work station that I’ve struggled with for so long?
I’m so annoyed with myself when I realized I’ve been doing this. Nals and I have talked about this (a lot). We always remind each other that we are pointing out negative things and will say “that’s not what I see”. As much as I have focused on trying to be body positive, and not negative on myself, I still find I have moments (like mentioned above) where I still beat myself up. I still see negative things.
But here’s what I can do:
1. Listen to the positive feedback
2. Recognize when Im being negative
3. Continue to challenge myself
4. Remember to love myself
5. Celebrate my accomplishments
I know I’m not the only one that goes through this. Please share the ways you challenge your negative self talk and ways you love yourself!!
As you N&Kers know, both K&I are taking burlesque classes through Vancouver Burlesque Company. In fact, 2 each this term! So, this will be K’s 2nd & 3rd performances. And my 3rd & 4th performances.
When I first started burlesque, I was shy about telling people.
I thought I would be judged for the type of dance, or that I would dare to do it because I don’t have a dancer’s body. And culturally speaking, I was taught to be modest. Prancing around in your undergarments is not modest. I’m also too old to take on something like burlesque! And lastly, there are only a handful of visible minorities in burlesque. I definitely felt out-of-place. This translated into me being shy about talking about it.
Holy batman! All these internal battles!
Rectifying internal battles
Type of dance: I try to educate people on the burly history. It’s not just about shaking your tail feathers. This is another way to express how you’re processing society’s zeitgeist. Don’t believe me? Then look at all the sub-genres: nerdlesque, contemporary, chair, etc.
Dancer’s body: Burlesque initially came out because poor folks poked fun at the richie-rich operas/shows. With burlesque, essentially, anything goes. Different bodies, shapes, colours, abilities… it is about you telling your story. How are you interacting with the audience?
Too old: Yes, I’m older than my instructors and classmates. But, the only person who has made me feel ‘too old’ is me. Last showcase, there was a 60+-year-old woman who did a saucy chair solo. She was fantastic!
Modesty: This term means to act demure, and can include dressing in a non-sexually aggressive manner. Is it a vehicle of oppression? Perhaps it is to be deliciously explored in future burlesque?
… I talk about being in burlesque all the time. I’m excited that I can be part of it! I’ve got access with Vancouver Burlesque Company. (Screaming Chicken, K&I are coming for you, soon!) It’s affordable both financially and timewise.
I’m engaging in self-care. I’m getting fitter and honing in on different fitness goals. I get to dress up, make costumes, have fun, learn to move, meet new people, dance with Kells, listen to music, feel inspired, feel empowered, feel confident, have a creative outlet and be around positivity.
I’ve learned that I’m not as klutzy as I thought I was. I’ve got a bit of rhythm. I’ve learned that I can jellybean, plank off of a chair, go from a standing position to the floor then do an inchworm push up in heels… all in rhythm to music!
Performing on stage isn’t for everyone. With VBC, you can actually just take the class without doing the final show. And, last Fall when I took my first class, I didn’t plan on performing. But by the end, I thought: why the frig not?
Being on stage is simply exhilarating. Hearing the audience cheer and whistle. Feeling those positive vibes. Performers excited and buzzing with adrenaline. It is a fabulous feeling!
So, if you are remotely interested in this genre, K&I encourage you to take a class with VBC (or SC). Or in the very least, come and check us out. Tickets available online here.
People think of burlesque just as “sexy”. And yes it certainly can be with the stocking peels, gyratin’ and inch worming. But it’s so much more than that! It’s BoPo, sexuality & gender welcoming, theatrical, political, comical, satirical, glamourous, vulnerable… It’s fluid and changes with time.
Burlesque isn’t just one thing, which is why it is captivating.
So I mentioned that I had back surgery and I had to advocate for myself.
This motivated me to start dealing with the health issues I had been ignoring for years. The first one was my tonsils. They were large and in charge. Basically, I had swollen tonsils all day every day. I made an appt with my doctor, showed her that even though I’m not currently sick, they are swollen and asked to see a specialist. I went to see them, again not sick, and they told me that I should have had my tonsils removed years ago. Which I knew already. So I had them removed (had some complications but survived & trust me you don’t want to hear these bloody details). BUT this also meant I needed to follow up with my breasts.
Yuppers, I have breast issues. Mainly, they often hurt.
So here’s what they tell you when you are under 40 and you have breast pain: Don’t worry, it’s not cancer, Cancer doesn’t hurt.
Oh good. So you are under 40. You are in pain. And you don’t need to worry.
NO! So I went to see a specialist. And I was told I have fibrocystic breasts. Oh and if it gets worse come back. But there’s nothing you can do about it. You can try prim rose oil, but I have done researched it and discovered there is no evidence that prim rose oil helps. Some people say it does, some say it doesn’t. But I tried it. Can’t say it’s helped.
Sooo, it got worse. The pain expanded in strength and size. So I tell my doctor, who contacts the specialist that told me to come back if it gets worse. AND…denied. The specialist says no because there’s nothing they can do. Then why did you say come back! Arg.
So since I’m under 40, no other specialist will see me, as I’m too young to have cancer.
Here’s what I experience: consistent breast pain throughout the month. Then the pain increases to extremely sharp jabs of pain once or twice a month. On the one side, it radiates down into my arm pit, sometimes even extends further.
My doctor send me for ultra sounds and a mammogram. Let me tell you, having painful breast tissue squished is not a pleasant feeling. I was also sent for an ultra sound of the uterus and ovaries. Which, did nothing to help me. I was told I don’t have ovarian cysts.
You may be wondering what can be done? My doctor says: Nothing.
Yup, that’s right. There’s no pain management. No cure. And no help for fibrocystic breast pain. You are told either rub prim rose oil on it or deal with it. I actually told my doctor that this was not a good option. Women* are too often told to just deal with it. And I feel like I’m looked at as over reacting. As if radiating breast pain is nothing. It’s not cancer, so suck it up. The Mayo clinic says that severe pain or large painful cysts may warrant treatment. MAY being the key word. Let me tell you, when I compare my symptoms, I fall under the severe pain…and yet, I have been told there is no treatment.
According to one article, fibrocystic breasts aren’t cancer, but they can mean you have an increased risk of getting cancer.
The Mayo clinic says that 1 out of every 2 women can get this. The website Healthline.com says that there’s no treatment, but that advil or Tylenol will help. OR putting a hot or cold compress on your breast can help. Let me tell you, in my opinion, those options don’t work.
Soooo…that’s it. Half of women* are dealing with this breast pain on a daily basis and there is no treatment. WOW. Really? Nothing?
Here’s what I don’t get. According to Advil and Tylenol, you aren’t supposed to take more than so many pills a day and if you exceed that amount you should see a doctor. That doctor says take them anyways, since that’s your only option. Oh by the way, for me, taking this form of pain management doesn’t work.
Here’s my rant: Why does something that effects ½ of the breasts out there not have any treatment? Is it because it’s female*? Is it because it’s a female* issue? Makes you wonder, if this were testicle pain would there be treatment?
So what does this mean for me? Well, I need to get back to my doctor. And do a little more advocating!
Update: Went back to my doctor…I have more to say on this issue…stay tuned!
Last week I talked about my car accident that left me with disabling back pain, the struggle to get a specialist appointment… all while completing my masters & working fulltime.
So the doctors ordered surgery. Finally, I was getting somewhere!
The next hurdle. I was put on the list for surgery, but was told that it could be years before I get it.
I was not going to make it.
I wasn’t thinking about hurting myself, but I understood why those in chronic pain end their lives.
Thankfully, my lawyer was also there to help me. She got my surgery done in a private clinic a few weeks later. I walked out of surgery standing tall. (also vomiting, but I was able to stand up straight).
Here’s what I realized: I know my body. And after this whole ordeal, I really learned about my body.
doctors also know what you tell them. Which also means that what the doctors hear and what I say can be 2 different things.
I need to ask. Ask for referrals to be sent. Ask for results, ask for the better imaging.
And when I hear, well you need to do A before we can do B. Ask that B also be started.
The other thing I learned was that I have put a few other parts of my health on the back burner because I just didn’t have energy to to keep advocating for myself. I wasn’t happy about this…also annoyed, that I would have to speak up again to have my health taken seriously.
As women*, we are often not taken seriously when we tell the doctor that something is wrong.
We are often viewed as overreacting or unable to manage the slightest bit of pain.
We often have to put our health on the back burner because we need to care for others.
This has got to stop!
And it will stop with us advocating for our own health.
Yes, this is a scary thought. BUT we deserve it. AND we need to support each other. We don’t need to do it alone. Please share with your sisters*. We don’t need to be embarrassed. We need the support and their motivation to get through.
My back surgery and injury was a motivator for me to get my health in order. As I have shared before, I need to keep active in order to keep my back health in check. BUT this also motivated me to get the other health issues in my self checked out. I will post on those later.
But please, today, share with your closest person the health concern you have and what you need support with.
While most others are focussing on New Year’s Resolutions posts… here at N&K, we like to do things a little differently.
First thing is first: let’s look at the importance of routine. We feel that routine rules the roost. Once we get back on the horse, many things fall into place- eating better, drinking less alcohol, watching nutritional intake, exercising more, meditating more, increasing awareness of snarky moods.
NY Resolutions are like “diets”… people think that a new year is going to automatically & magically change behaviours. People don’t think things through, don’t plan for obstacles, then fall off the wagon and say… FML, I’m going back to my old habits.
So… During the holidays, we have likely all have stopped our daily healthy routines. We have been indulging in sweets & savouries, taking lots of down time, having lots of sleep-ins. Or, maybe we’ve been the hosts of a huge family/friend gathering and the anxiety of making things perfect for the guests. Perhaps we are in retail business, so we’ve been stressed with working: making quotas, working OT, plastering on smiles…
Nals started the downward spiral in early December. I was getting ready for a performance. So, I was practicing a lot & doing late night dress rehearsals. I was going to bed late, not eating at my usual times, and not doing meal prep… I wasn’t exercising at my usual times or places so it all went to hell in a hand basket PDQ. Right now, I’m probably sleeping off the ringing-in of The New Year in NZ. (BTW, one of the first folks in the world to do so!) So when I get back into GVA, I’m going to start off by getting proper groceries, doing meal prep, and getting back into my early-to-bed early-to-rise routine. That’ll be best, & also will help me mitigate that bloody jet lag.
Kells’s routine was mucked up due to the common December cold. Usually I just power through the cold and keep it going… but this year I was exhausted and slightly feverish. So I missed one day, then a few days, then a week. Yikes! And here’s the thing, it was so easy to fall. Way to easy. I was getting pretty proud of myself for not falling…be even the mighty fall. Hahaha!
Ok…so I got a cold and I’m not going to the gym, and it wasn’t far after that, I wasn’t eating well and wasn’t drinking lots of water! And it didn’t help I made 4 types of cookies. And we all know it’s coming…holidays, cookies, turkey dinners and we plan for it…even I planned for it. I was determined not to fall but down I went.
But now its time to get back in the swing…and honestly I’m not looking forward to squeezing myself into the gym with all the new years resolutionars. But unfortunately it’s part of the process of getting back at it after the holidays, just happens to fall in January.
I just want to suggest that before you dive into the gym, work on your SMART goals and figure out your motivation (what is motivation, what’s your motivation and how does your motivation help you). Nals and I have talked about it many times in our previous posts so I really recommend scanning through those.
How about you guys? How will you get back on track?
October is Women’s Health month here on N&K. Today, nals will be discussing self esteem.
When I was heavier, I felt bombarded with images of thin, smooth-skinned, tall ladies as ‘beautiful’. If it was North American media, then tanned vixens. And if Bollywood media, then fair-skinned maidens. No one looked like me: pear-shaped, bespectacled, with frizzy unkempt waves & darker skinned… unless it was an actor who played an evil Bollywood mom. Or, was the star of a self-named comedy show (see posts on Tips1-4, 5-8, 9-10). And I wasn’t any of those adjectives either!
And these thin women were portrayed as The Ultimate Show Ponies, dripping with confidence, promise, fulfilling lifestyles, happiness and sex appeal. Today, I say “Bravo!” to advertising and entertainment sectors for the deep ingrainment. They worked hard to get that image across. At the time, it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t know anyone else that looked like that, either. Move over Manson² and Heaven’s Gate, Media is the Ultimate brainwasher.
Keep in mind, my teen years were spent poring over glossy magazines with shiny images, talking on the phone with friends, and watching TV. We didn’t have internet or cell phones. My escape was TV and staying up late reading books¹. So growing up with rigid ideas of what the perfect 2-D body looks like makes a regular 3-D girl feel less-than.
In all honesty I thought once I lost weight³, I would be happier. Things would magically fall into place. Of course this is real-life, not a fairy tale.
Happiness is something you attain. It is not bestowed upon you.
I had to really think about what would make me happy. I love reading, photography, the theatre
and writing. I love all kinds of dance. I am happy when beautiful things surround me: people, clothes, art, wine, food. And I am happy after I have challenged myself.
I try to do things to push my personal boundaries like co-writing this blog. (Yes, I love writing but it’s not easy to put yourself out there.) I’ve taken loads of pictures, in public. Then put up these up for you all to see.
And last week, I started a burlesque class with Kells. Yes, burlesque. I love how bawdy, welcoming, tongue-in-cheek, flirty, raucous it is. And we had no idea about its fabulouslyclandestinehistory.
This is an intro class, with a lovely range of ladies across sizes, ages, shapes and abilities. About one third took the class to push themselves, have fun and become more comfortable in their own skin. Some of the same reasons as N&K!
I would say I’m a happier person, having pushed personal boundaries and embracing all aspects of myself. Am I positive and happy 100% of the time? Of course not. Real life has ups and downs. But if you want to lead a more fulfilling lifestyle…
you gotta wake the F up. Self-evaluate and make a plan of change.
Don’t just chug along with life. Grab it by the horns and point it in the right direction!
Footnotes 1 Thanks Judy Blume, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, Isaac Asimov for keeping me up too late 2 Charles, not Marilyn 3 According to a female family member, all I needed to do in my teen years, was lose weight, get rid of unsightly zits and get toss the glasses. (She was unsure of this last thing, as presumably, there were attractive librarians with glasses.) This aunt was a solid support to me. She never lied. But, she encouraged my strengths and didn’t let me forget them. And I adored her. (She was the next best thing to sliced bread!) So when she gave me this unsolicited bit of advice, which came out of the blue, I was heartbroken.
I have never done this before, so I am a little nervous. First of all, I’m not one to ask people for money. So please don’t feel you need to donate to me (but I won’t say no if you want to donate). However, I am asking you all to join in the conversation around women’s health AND to support me while I kick the stink out of cancer this month.
Secondly, the only option for t-shirts were pink. Ugh. I’m not a fan of the pink, or pink, or pink. But I will bring it to thegym every day and get it signed. Oh I should mention, that for every work out we do this month, we get a signature on the pink shirt. Maybe I should set a goal of signatures? Any suggestions? (please leave a comment).
October 1st, here we go. Starting the month off at the gym in a pink shirt, getting signatures and starting the conversation around Women’s Health.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer (not including skin cancer). Also, cancer is the #1 cause of death in Canada. We also know that the earlier the detection the better the outcome. We also know that there is no known cure, and we need to find it! No one should have to lose their life to cancer. No one.
I’m assuming here, but I’m pretty sure that we have all been impacted by Cancer. I have lost 2 important people in my life to Cancer and I have also have a survivor in my life. This month I want to honor my friend Amber, who even while she fought her hardest and even in her sickest moments, chose to be happy and live for every moment. I also want to honor my bests Dad, Rick. He was the cool dad that made those ridiculous jokes and always made us laugh. I will never forget these two.
I also want to use this month to fight for never receiving that call again. The call where your soul sister calls and tells you she has cancer. That call literally took my breath away. It made time stop and has burnt a hole in my memory. I vowed to be with her every step of the way. I was there after her surgery and helped take care of her kids. I am so thankful she is still with me, as I can’t picture my life without her. and I am so happy to say her kids still have her. She is also the one that lost her dad last year. Cancer sucks.
Let me share this one last thing. A couple of months before Amber passed away, I went to see her in the hospital. She was so thin and on oxygen. It was hard to see her so frail. But she smiled the whole time. She laughed and joked and wanted to know the latest news with everyone we knew in our lives. I asked her what can I do to help her. She told me she was happy. She said that after she got the news she had a choice, to fear the future and be sad about her extremely aggressive cancer or she would wake up every morning and say “today I choose to be happy”. That really hit me. My gosh, it’s hard to be wake up happy without knowing you are dying from cancer. And let me tell you, Ams lived her word. She was happy. She was happy to see her friends, happy to have another day with her family. She was happy. I try hard to live by this. And when I hear our song, Sugar by Maroon 5, I get a reminder to be happy. It’s a choice.
Believe it or not, at 12 years old, I signed up for Track & Field. And I chickened out… then at 40, did I really start running.
Kells was a track-lete in her teens and took a break when during schooling and subsequent back issues. And she re-started around the time I did.
So this year, Kells & I did 3 runs.
Not all runs are created alike. Which is why I wanted to do a review so that newbie runners have the info to choose wisely. There’s not only a financial cost, but also the time and energy.
Prep & training
We were both mentally prepared and motivated.
Kells just needed to re-condition. Her final time was about 30 minutes for 5km outside.
I needed to start from the bottom middle up. I did some research and decided to do a modifiedCouch to 5km. My end time was about 40 minutes for 5km on the treadmill. Running outside was way harder. I couldn’t run a straight 5km, without walking breaks.
Always check in with a licensed healthcare professional such as a physician, nurse-practitioner or personal trainer prior to starting a new health regime. This helps you to be physically safe and manage your expectations³.
Womens health is also an important topic for us. So this was a no-brainer.
Location: Wesbrook Village in UBC, N’s alma mater
Raceway: trails in Pacific Spirit Park. Partial paved and mostly groomed trails with some twiggy undertows. Minimal incline, paths are narrow at some points.
Length: 5 km walk or run (or 10 km run or 1 km walk), different trails and staggered start times
N’s time: <38 mins ⇔K’s time: <28 mins
After the first run, this gal was hooked. The freaking energy and positivity was addicting and motivating AF. We will defo run this next year.
If I had started with Daff Dash, I wouldn’t have gotten hooked. No siree bob. Energy was way different, which was partially due to the drizzle and smaller crowd. Didn’t seem as organized. Next year both K&I agreed to do the Vancouver one. (2018 was the last year for Tri-Cities location anyways.)
We ended with a BANG! Shoppers was defo a larger crowd with music and lots of energy. Our one critique is that the Walkers should have started last, after all of the runners. Some of the Walkers sauntered in their possies, shooting the shit. They were like a human bunting, 3 and 4 across the the path. They bristled at how the runners rudely pushed past them2. Imagine runners wanting to run in a race! Preposterous!
Our last run was supposed to be the Vancouver Pride Runin July But I wanted to support my family member in her wife’s Celebration of Life, which was the same weekend. So K&I didn’t go.
I was super pleased to see all shapes and sizes, and skill levels. So if you’re remotely interested, go for it! It is sooo worth it.
1 Birders= a gaggle of birdwatchers that was clogging up the trail like an oxidized comedo.
2 The bunts were told to keep 1 or 2 across, and keep path open for runners. Hmmm these Walkers didn’t have a bunt to stand on.
3 I see him a few times a year for the chronic health condition so I just tacked this question on to my visit. I had also checked in with Koach.