Archive | August, 2014

Avoiding a Salsa Wardrobe Malfunction (or “CYA”)

29 Aug

 I think dancers, on the whole, have little or no shame. In social dancing, you’re used to getting all up in someone else’s business (especially if you dance bachata or kizomba). If you’ve been in the performing world, you’re used to making quick costume changes, stripping down in front of people you don’t necessarily know well.

But there is a time and a place to show a little shame. Ladies, this post is dedicated to you. I’ve seen (and been involved in) a handful of Salsa Wardrobe Malfunctions, and I’ve developed some quick and dirty tips to avoid them.

CYA:

            Please. No one wants to see that. If you think you’re going to be dancing a lot of sensual bachata and getting low, do not wear a short, tight dress with minimal undergarments. It’s not cute and it’s not classy. Consider investing in a pair of spankies (or volleyball shorts or dance shorts or spandex or whatever you want to call them) to wear under certain garments. Leggings can be hot and dressed up—same with shorts. If you choose a dress or a skirt, TEST DRIVE IT IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT FIRST.

It didn't work for JWOWW, do you really think it will work for you?

It didn’t work for JWOWW, do you really think it will work for you?

Do several basics, cross body leads, spins, and other steps you know you’ll be repeating multiple times in the dressing room, in front of your mirror, or in front of a friend you trust. This is important because it leads me to my next point.

 

FASHION TAPE IS NOT SWEAT PROOF

Don’t try to tape your clothes down! You will sweat through fashion tape.

Let me repeat that. You will sweat through fashion tape. Short skirts, flowy low cut tops, strapless dresses etc., are all fine and dandy, but don’t rely on fashion or double-sided tape to help you keep them in place.

Strapless tops and Salsa dancing do not mix. Ladies, we aren’t trying to recreate an episode of “Girls Gone Wild” here. Your strapless top may feel like it fits tightly enough that you won’t have any issues, but do you really want to spend the whole night tugging on it and making sure you aren’t hanging out?

 

This is a worst-case-scenario. But still possible!

This is a worst-case-scenario. But still possible!

SAVE MAXI DRESSES AND SKIRTS FOR BRUNCH THE NEXT DAY

Your heels WILL get caught on a maxi dress or skirt and you will fall on your face. You may be tempted to wear a long skirt and use it as a prop (a la some kind of ethnic dancing), but I believe there is a reason all ethnic dancing like that is done barefoot. I have also found that wearing pants that have aren’t boot or skinny cut can be risky. I’ve (almost) wiped out from getting my heel caught in the bottom of my pants.

 

This dress is stunning and many maxi dresses are….but you will hit the pavement if you try Salsa dancing in them.

This dress is stunning and many maxi dresses are….but you will hit the pavement if you try Salsa dancing in them.

SPEAKING OF SHOES…

If you are unaccustomed to wearing high heels, why would you go out and buy a pair of three-inch high dance shoes? Make sure you can handle whichever shoes you invest in, and keep a pair of flats that you can dance in handy. If you’re breaking in a new pair of shoes, do it slowly. Wear them for an hour or two at a time only for the first few weeks you have them, and then switch to your broken-in shoes or trusty flats.

Gaga can do this. We non-aliens cannot.

Gaga can do this. We non-aliens cannot.

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT WARDROBE RULE OF ALL

Pick clothes that are most flattering for YOUR body type. You know that cut or style that is absolutely dynamite on you? The one that gives you the utmost confidence and that only YOU can rock? Wear clothes like THAT to Salsa (as long as you can dance easily and comfortably in them). It sounds silly, but choose colors that complement your skin tone and hair. It’s all about feeling GOOD about yourself and confident in your own skin. Don’t chase trends—select styles that are classically and authentically YOU.

 

Feel good, dance well! Go get 'em.

Feel good, dance well! Go get ’em.

What’s your best tip for avoiding a Salsa Wardrobe Malfunction? Comment here! And guys, I’d love your perspective too.

The language of Salsa: A conversation between two equals

20 Aug

I’ve had some interesting conversations with several people over the last few weeks regarding the leading and following dynamic in Salsa dancing, so I want to address it here. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about the interplay of two dancers on the floor that need to be cleared up.

A good friend of mine said he got this comment on the dance floor: “This isn’t 1950—guys don’t control girls.”

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No, guys don’t control girls in Salsa dancing. Follows (typically ladies, though not always) control themselves. The lead protects and respects the follow’s space, inviting the follow to engage in the dialogue of the dance. The lead communicates clearly what step comes next. The lead isn’t domineering or controlling in a way that puts the follow down—instead, the lead is the canvas on which the follow can do the painting. Both are integral to creating a piece of art.

Following is a skill that must be acquired, just as is leading. Follows, listen to me: you aren’t losing your autonomy and blindly following the leader. You are so in control of your own body that you can respond appropriately to the cues that the lead gives you. It’s about being observant, aware, responsive, and confident.

Let’s think about it like this: If you’re having a conversation with someone and they ask you a question, usually you’re in control of your thoughts and your mouth enough that you can respond almost immediately.

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You ask, I answer. You talk, I listen. I say something, you respond. Salsa dancing is a conversation, a poem in motion, a connection. Good leads and good follows know that the dance is not about just one person—it’s two people coming together to work as a unit. What you do affects me, what I do affects you. It’s the ultimate exercise in cause and effect, in what you give is what you get. And it’s supposed to be fun.

In a weird way, I see following like being on the show “Jeopardy.” Contestants on “Jeopardy” are ready for anything that Alex Trebek throws at them. Being a follow in Salsa is kind of the same thing—you are so incredibly prepared that you can respond to anything at a moment’s notice. You have no idea what’s coming a minute from now—but whatever it is, you are prepped. You’re aware enough of where your feet are that you can place them where they should go as soon as you get a cue from your lead.

For me, there’s a sense of empowerment in that feeling. There’s an “in the moment-ness” that comes only from following. It’s you, your partner, and the music. You have to be fully alert and focused on just those three things, or you will get confused, miss the cues, stumble. I love dancing with leads who are so much better than I could ever dream to be. It’s hard, it’s scary, but it totally clears my mind and turns the dance into a moving meditation. And then I learn. How to respond faster. How to pay closer attention. How to be more in control of myself.

I think about two particularly memorable leads I’ve danced with in the last few months. I danced with my friend Michael from Augusta at Orlando Salsa Congress. Throughout the entire dance, I felt like a princess. I was floating on a cloud. He was smooth, confident, compassionate, and fun. He’s a fantastic dancer in his own right, but the dance wasn’t about him or about me. It was about us enjoying the music and the dance for a few minutes. I missed plenty of steps, but that was because I would stop paying attention to what I was doing for a moment.

Another phenomenal lead is my friend Bader from Kuwait. He was in Charleston for a few weeks for work and came out dancing. He’s a seasoned pro—he’s been dancing and teaching for at least two decades and I am certain has seen it all at this point. He’s strong, but not forceful, confident but not cocky, and makes you feel like you are the best and only dancer in the room.

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I want to mention a few caveats to this whole leading/following dynamic discussion: Some people simply do not have good chemistry dancing with one another. Two amazing dancers may come together and have a sort of “blah” dance. It’s the same way that there are some people you can talk to for hours on end and others with whom you struggle to make small talk.

Leading and following are also not gender specific. I know some ladies who are incredible leads (Yaenette and Briana, what’s up) and some gents who can follow (and style) better than many ladies. Often, the best dancers can do both.

So, at the end of the day, Salsa dancing (or any social dancing) is about engaging someone in a meaningful connection, however fleeting. And if that’s not equalizing and empowering (and enjoyable), I don’t know what is.

Respect that…bow down b*******. JUST KIDDING!!!! That totally defeats the purpose of the whole post. I just couldn't resist!

Respect that…bow down b******….
JUST KIDDING!!!! That totally defeats the purpose of the whole post. I just couldn’t resist!

Winthrop’s Pearls

14 Aug

This is a “#TBT” post that I want to include in another book of essays that’s in the early stages of development, “Escape From the Ballet Farm, and other stories of an occasional ballerina.”

I own three nice pieces of jewelry.

A diamond set in gold on a delicate gold chain, a gift from my Oma. A necklace from Tiffany’s that I bought myself as an almost graduation gift/congratulations on your new job before I started working for Insight Cuba.
And a pair of pearl earrings on gold posts that, while I’ve lost the original backs, I still keep safely stored in the box in which they were given to me.

In high school, I danced for four years in the Mobile Ballet Company. The artistic director, Winthrop Corey, gives his graduating high school girls pearl earrings as a gift at the end of their senior year. I have no idea when or how the tradition began, but I just remember the moment—during my final bow with Mobile Ballet.

The group of girls that I graduated with from the ballet was tight knit. Although most of us went to different schools, we had become close through the hours we spent in classes and rehearsals. Though it sounds like the sappy conclusion to a cheesy dance movie, I think we really did get over the petty jealousies and competitive cattiness that prevents so many dancers in companies from ever really being friends.

I’m not sure at which point in our sophomore or junior years of high school that we all recognized our strengths— that a certain one of us was always going to get one type of role, while another would always get a different one, and it was better to just be cool about it than get upset. Once we figured that out, we could all be friends. We could all hang out together outside of class and rehearsal. (Yes, a few of us went to see the “Twilight” movie on opening night and ran, actually screaming, into the theater. I can’t say I’m proud).

There were five of us—Caroline, Margot, Shannon, Natalie, and myself—and our honorary sixth, Blair, who, while a year below us in school, was undoubtedly a member of our group.

This is a picture of a picture, obviously.  Back row: Natalie, Shannon, Margot, Caroline. Front row: Me, Blair.

This is a picture of a picture, obviously.
Back row: Natalie, Shannon, Margot, Caroline.
Front row: Me, Blair.

We were Nutcracker snowflakes together, Giselle wilis, La Bayadere shades, white swans, brides of Dracula, and peasant people. Endless, endless gaggles of cheerful, poorly pantomiming peasant people.

Margot, second from left, me second from right, and Natalie far right. Why are peasants wearing taffeta? I never got that.

Margot, second from left, me second from right, and Natalie far right.
Why are peasants wearing taffeta? I never got that.

I think dancing in a company, particularly in a ballet company, is like being in the Marines. You are bonded for life by sharing an extremely grueling, and at times, painful, experience. Bloody feet, ruptured blisters, bursitis, shin splints, general achiness—yep, we had it all.

The last piece we danced together was the “Grand Pas De Quatre” for the Mobile Ballet School’s annual showcase. If you’re not familiar with ballet, the “Grand Pas De Quatre” is one of those legendary and storied pieces that I believe is now performed as a satire on diva-tude. It was created for four giants of ballet in the Romantic era—Marie Taglioni, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito, and Lucille Grahn.

Supposedly, it was full of snide cat-fighting and the divas all trying to one-up each other—whether by wearing prettier pearls on stage or performing the most virtuosic steps.

It seemed a fitting way for us to go. The version of the piece that Mr. Corey set on us wasn’t as silly or exaggerated as some stagings that I’ve seen, but he explained the story to us and we had a chance to act really, really snobby and prissy onstage. Margot, Shannon, Caroline, and I danced the roles of the respective divas, and Natalie had a chance to shine in an adorable pas de trois that was old timey beach themed (by an early 20th century British choreographer, can’t remember who!).

At the end of the showcase, we all wore white tutus and went onstage to take our last bow. Mr. Corey strode out of the stage right wing, as he always did, and handed us each our pearls, wrapped in tissue paper and a plastic bag, with a note on his embossed stationary.

I don’t remember if we cried, I’m sure we did. I’m sure we had that moment where we actually felt like those Romantic-era divas, being showered with applause and jewels.

Now, every time I wear my pearls, I’m reminded somehow of Mobile Ballet. It was my reason for getting out of bed every day in tenth grade. I was so miserable in school, so unhappy with everything, that I couldn’t wait to hop in the Prius with my mom and make the 50-minute drive to the studio for class and rehearsals. I would sob on the way home from the studio, dreading another day in high school hell. Looking back, I’m sure that’s pretty typical behavior for a 14-year-old girl, but it was dramatic at the time.

My last Nutcracker with Mobile Ballet. Caroline is far left, Blair is third from left, Margot is the lady in the middle, Shannon is in pink, and I'm there second from right. The dude, Bobbie, actually WAS a marine. He always drew on abs with eye shadow and eyeliner, which entertained us to no end.

My last Nutcracker with Mobile Ballet. Caroline is far left, Blair is third from left, Margot is the lady in the middle, Shannon is in pink, and I’m there second from right. The dude, Bobbie, actually WAS a marine. He always drew on abs with eye shadow and eyeliner, which entertained us to no end.

Wearing the pearls reminds me of how my mom amazingly drove me every day to class and rehearsals, spending an hour and a half in transit four or five days a week, occupying herself while I took class. She was incredible and I can never thank her enough for the sacrifice of her time to get me to the ballet.

I’ll wear the pearls for days at a time, reflecting on a big decision I made my junior year: to go to boarding school at the Alabama School of Math and Science so that I could be only 15 minutes away from ballet, rather than 50. I didn’t have my drivers license, so a few days a week, I would ride with transportation that the school arranged, other days a family friend, Chris, who was in college in the area, would pick me up and drive me to and from class. I would sink into the plushy seats of his rattling Monte Carlo and he’d chauffer me to class. Afterward, we would go to Smoothie King, where we had a bizarre ritual of sniffing a large container of what appeared to be horse pills, but were really “natural supplements,” that were sitting on the counter. He would bust into Smoothie King, loudly announcing that he was my sister’s friend and that he wasn’t a pervert or kidnapper. Nobody ever seemed concerned that he was in the first place though.

My pearls make me think of my favorite ballet teacher, Syndey Adams, a talented and energetic woman who took my solid training and technique and turned it into dancing, turned me into a smart and capable dancer who would get compliments from teachers all over the country (and even in Cuba) about my ability to learn and retain combinations. I think of other teachers, Zoe, Kimberly, Paige, Anne, Lori—women who corrected me, supported me, and some of whom are still friends today.

Mobile Ballet was my home for several years. Like all homes, I know there were flaws and that our family, made up of humans too, wasn’t perfect. But while I was there, it was a place for me to learn and grow, to be a part of something bigger than myself, and hell—they even gave me a pair of pearl earrings to remember it all by.

Creativity Training

9 Aug

This morning, I was having a discussion with a friend about writing. She wrote an excellent post for Elephant Journal almost a year ago about body acceptance, and the post has received around 450,000 views. She said she wanted to write more, but that posts like the one that went viral on Elephant Journal only came about when the inspiration struck—when she found something she was particularly passionate, angry, or excited about.

I told her that, like any skill worth having, writing (or any creative endeavor) has to be developed and practiced.

Even if you aren’t necessarily an athlete or “in shape”, sometimes a burst of adrenaline or a good night’s sleep could get you through a two or three-mile jog or a fitness class. But to be ready to run a 10K, you would have to train and dedicate time weekly to be prepared for the race.

Creative pursuits are no different. Let’s take writing. I’m going to use my own experience with this blog. I started blogging during the summer of 2011 when I spent a summer studying in Merida, Mexico. I tried to write a weekly post about my experiences and funny stories that would happen. I noticed that each week, it was easier, and (at least in my opinion), the quality of the posts improved. When I studied in Cuba during the spring of 2012, I was enrolled in an independent study focused on travel writing. One of the assignments was a weekly blog. Each week, the writing got easier. It took less time, I was able to stay focused, and again, I think the quality of the posts improved.

Whether you’re exercising your body or your brain, consistency is key. In the case of a blog, some posts are going to be better than others. For creative endeavors, it’s hard to make something that is just mediocre, or that, while passable, you don’t think is necessarily your best.

But it’s far worse to just stop altogether for fear that whatever you make won’t live up to your highest standard. Inertia is powerful, but it works both ways. If you stop, you’ll stay stopped. If you go, you will keep going and build up momentum and drive that will translate into some really phenomenal creations.

My favorite ballet teacher summed up this point so succinctly during the last class that I took with her.

“With dance, you’ll never be perfect. But if you do a step and don’t do it right, you can’t just stop what you’re doing. You have to keep going and try to do it better next time.”

I think about it in terms of doing any kind of balance in a dance class. Sometimes, you can hold a balance for just a split second, long enough to suffice, but nothing special. Other days, you are holding all of your muscles just right, breathing properly, and wearing the right shoes. You hit the position and balance ephemerally, suspended in time and only coming down when you have to. But you know what? You practice your balances in class multiple times every damn day.

Whether it’s writing a blog, balancing in passé, sketching a bowl of fruit, designing a logo, or playing the piano, you have to keep at it consistently. Only then will you truly be able to have those moments of sustained inspiration—a heart wrenching story, a balance that lasts for days, a masterpiece, a symphony.

 

What do you think? Can creativity be developed? How can you foster creativity in your own life? More importantly… has my writing improved over the years, or did I peak at 19? 😀

#GeorgiasAppendixParty14

2 Aug

Spoiler alert: This is really self-indulgent. And long.

Photo by Travis Lee O'Dell. Scarf styled by Yaenette Dixon. Hospital Gown provided by MUSC. One size fits all.

Photo by Travis Lee O’Dell. Scarf styled by Yaenette Dixon. Hospital Gown provided by MUSC. One size fits all.

I have always been paranoid about getting osteoporosis and appendicitis. I think that watching “Madeline” when I was young made me hyperaware of the fact that this thing in your body can act up and really mess you up. The first week or two of July, I had weird sharp, shooting pain in my stomach that would come and go. Pulse check: Hadn’t eaten Taco Bell or Domino’s lately, so I was good. I was convinced I had appendicitis, but didn’t have any of the accompanying symptoms like nausea or fever (I WebMD-ed “appendicitis” of course).

About two weeks after that initial pain, it came back. With a vengeance. I thought I had food poisoning because I drank a glass of milk and then laid out at the beach all day. Thinking it was something I could just shake off, I went to two hours of dance classes. After the second class, I could barely stand up straight. Hunched over the steering wheel of my car, I rushed home and lay down. I called my dad. No answer. Mom. No answer. Sister. No answer. I couldn’t get comfortable. Legs up the wall? Nope. Fetal position? Nope.

I was nauseous and hot, but couldn’t throw up. I texted my friend Patrick “I don’t know what I ate, but my stomach is killing me and I’m dying a thousand small deaths.”

You know when you’re just sitting there on the bathroom floor, leaning your head against the toilet seat because, even though that’s disgusting because your ass was just there, the cool porcelain is the only thing that makes you feel somewhat better? That was me. I also had to minimize the distance between me and a puke-catching device, because once I started, I kept going. I texted my dad “Please call me ASAP, I have serious stomach pain.”

When he called, he suggested I take Zofran or some other prescription anti-nausea medicine. Dad, I love you, but why on earth would I have those just sitting around my house? He said if the pain got too bad, to just go to the hospital.

I texted Patrick again. “Is there any way you can take me to the emergency room?” He was there within three minutes. I grabbed a hot pink Charlotte Russe shopping bag from my bedroom floor, slipped on some flip-flops, and headed out.

The E.R. is about five blocks from my house, and I puked three times on the way there. He took the bag and threw it away for me on the way in. I checked in to the E.R., and we settled into uncomfortable, hard plastic chairs, and waited. The news was on, covering the most recent Malaysian airlines fiasco. For two hours. Finally, I was called back and we were shown to a room. I curled up in a ball at the end of the hospital bed. A nurse or someone came and suggested I scoot up, because I was about to fall off the end. I didn’t really care, but obliged. A warm blanket was thrown over me. And then we waited.

“Should I throw up just to get someone’s attention?” I asked Patrick.

He looked up from his phone—“Yeah, I guess so.”

I tried to make it to the trashcan, I promise.

But didn’t. I leaned over the side of the bed and puked out a bunch of water. I was pretty surprised that I had anything left at that point.

A patient walking down the hall peered into the room and gave me a surprised and confused look and continued on his way.

Like magic, three nurses rushed in, started cleaning up the mess, hooked me up to an IV, gave me fluids, anti-nausea medicine, and pain medicine.

It worked! I lost track of the people who came in and out of the room, poking my stomach, asking me questions. I was handed what looked like a green plastic windsock and told to use that if I felt nauseous again. Patrick and I grabbed a selfie with a nurse for posterity. She was cool, even though she turned my arm into a blood-spurting fire hydrant when she pricked me for the IV.

Cool nurse. Even though she made Ol' Faithful Jr. with my veins.

Cool nurse. Even though she made Ol’ Faithful Jr. with my veins.

A resident came in. He was a total bro. I could just envision him doing keg-stands at crazy Greek-lettered medical honor society parties in his day. He looked up at the T.V. “What are y’all watching?”

We didn’t really know. There was no sound coming from the mounted screen, but apparently some soft-core porn was on at 3 am on FX.

Bro doctor poked my stomach in several different places. They all hurt, but when he got to the right side I couldn’t help it.

“OUCH.”

He stopped. Did some doctorly things.

“I think I have appendicitis,” I told him.

He nodded and said sarcastically “Ok, WebMD,” and made to leave.

“Wait, before you go. Can we take a selfie?”

He obliged.

"We like to have fun in here." -Bro Doctor

“We like to have fun in here.” -Bro Doctor

More people came and went, more medicine was administered, I threw up some more. At some point, a sassy, middle-aged doctor came in and poked my stomach some more. Another nurse came in and handed me a Styrofoam cup of contrast and said to drink it. I was going for a CT scan. The contrast was disgusting and I had to drink three more over the course of an hour. It tasted like what I imagine the inside of those gel ice packs tastes like. After the CT scan, Dr. Sassy came back.

“You have appendicitis.”

“I knew it!” I announced triumphantly, “I was right!”

I was told I had to get surgery, more people came and went, blah blah blah. I drifted in and out of sleep, two of my friends, Yaenette and Julie, showed up around 8 in the morning to relieve Patrick. The three of them kept me company, chased down nurses to get more pain medicine or an estimate on when I’d go in for surgery.

That Friday was awful. I wasn’t allowed to drink anything all day and I was parched. I was still in a lot of pain—it went through the pain medicine. I think J.K. Rowling modeled the Cruciatus Curse after appendicitis. I was wheeled to another room, and Julie sat with me and held my hand while I cried, nervous about surgery, thirsty, tired, and still in pain. Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, Sean,an overly friendly and mostly incompetent tech, finally wheeled me to surgery. But he just left me in the surgical ward without telling anyone who I was, where my chart was, or any pertinent info. A concerned group of ladies swarmed around me, because at that point, I was sobbing uncontrollably.

In soothing voices, they asked what was wrong, gave me pain medicine, made small talk, and begin anesthetizing me. I drifted off and woke up three hours later, appendix free.

Julie was there when I came to, and I was taken up to a much nicer room, where Yaenette and another friend from Salsa, Lyndsy, were waiting. I was able to drink water. It was the most satisfying glass of water in my life. Friends poured in and out of the hospital room all night, much to the chagrin of John, my incompetent and addlepated night nurse. I was still in a lot of pain and could barely move. To go to the bathroom, the IV had to be unplugged from the wall and what I dubbed my stylish legwarmers (things on my leg to keep circulation going), had to be unplugged from the bed. Someone had to take my hands and winch me out of the bed and help me drag the IV into the bathroom. It was quite a production.

Julie and Yaenette being awesome. I just got out of surgery. Hence the stank face.

Julie and Yaenette being awesome. I just got out of surgery. Hence the stank face.

Following the surgery, I was overwhelmed by how many people sent me well wishes via text message or Facebook, and how many people came to visit me in the hospital and at home after I was discharged.

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I couldn’t believe that Patrick stayed two nights in the hospital with me. That Julie sat with me all day on Friday, from early in the morning until after the surgery, holding my hand and hugging me while I cried. That Yaenette was there first thing in the morning both Friday and Saturday, and brought breakfast the morning after the surgery and stayed until she had to go to work. That another dear friend Travis stayed Friday night in the hospital, and then stayed with me Saturday night at home, helping me on Sunday to eat, shower, and not have to be alone. That other friends, Selene, Enrique, Corrigan, Mario, Dan, Dimitri, and Prakash, came to visit me in the hospital, bearing gifts, hugs, and well-wishes. When I got home from the hospital, my roommate had set up my room with flowers, a husband pillow, light-blocking curtains, movies, books, and food in the refrigerator. My friend Rebekah came Sunday night to spend the night, and her dad cooked us dinner while we watched “Star Trek” and online shopped. I couldn’t believe the people who came to my house after to visit and bring food, drinks, or just a few hours of company: Becky, Rachel, Dusty, Robbi, and Erica. My mom came the Monday of that week and stayed until Saturday, dropping everything in Alabama to help me. She was amazing—administering meds, feeding me, doing laundry, and just hanging out. I cried when she left on Saturday. All of my clients were amazing, letting me take the week off and not worry about work. One of my yoga clients, Gretchen, sent me a sweet note in the mail, and other clients sent me kind emails and Facebook messages.

Flowers from Mom.

Flowers from Mom.

I couldn’t make it out dancing after the surgery, and my friend Priscilla took a video of a song that Gino and the boys dedicated to me while Yaenette Facetimed me in.

I always say that I have the best friends and family in the world, and #GeorgiasAppendixParty14 proved it. I can’t ever say “Thank You” enough to everyone who took such good care of me. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude by the amount of unconditional love that my friends and family gave me. I’m still recovering—it’s a longer and slower process than I had imagined and it’s humbling. I’m learning to say “no” to certain things and to pace myself.

Hospital AM selfie with Patrick. When the attending wakes you up at 6 am, you have no choice but to grin and bear it.

Hospital AM selfie with Patrick. When the attending wakes you up at 6 am, you have no choice but to grin and bear it.

And if you stuck with this very long post until the end, thank you.