Thursday, July 26, 2012

back, forward, back, and turn!

I started working on my three-kick turnaround in October 2011. After some tension and pain it caused my shoulder I avoided the trick and moved on to other tricks. In the late Winter I decided to give it another try and I made a little bit of progress, and in the early Spring I made even more progress by learning how to engage my lower core muscles. Unfortunately, taking off three months during the Spring (to study for the GMAT!) made my progress on the three-kick turnaround naught.

At my first trapeze class this summer I set short- and long-term goals. One of my short-term goals was to successfully perform the three-kick turnaround. I set to work spending hours focusing on bits and pieces of this trick. First, I had to master my force-out. The force out is when a flyer curls up into a ball and fully extends his or her body at the height of his or her swing. If you are flying without lines (no harness) this helps build height on your swing and maintain (or build) momentum. After a turnaround, one has to force-out over the board (that's the platform you jump off); however, when I attempted to do this my calves and/or heels would smack down on the board so hard my fellow classmates got startled. A few rug burns later (the board has carpet) and a few days when I had to wear backless shoes as a result of injured heels and I knew this had to change.
A still from my force-out over the board last night.

The next part of my trick to focus on was the actual turning. Not only did my legs separate and go flailing around, but my hips were back and sometimes my whole body was, shall we say, off-kilter. It was just not-pretty. At this point, I felt like the overarching theme to my progress, or lack thereof, was my (in)ability to fully-engage my muscles, particularly my core... I really wasn't strong enough.

A few weeks later I noticed the biggest improvement in my strength, and ultimately success at the trick, as a result of running and training for the Tough Mudder. Running upwards of 10 miles per week helped make my quad and abdominal muscles much stronger. And I mean MUCH STRONGER. I have so much more control over my body in the air, it really is quite a gratifying and rewarding feeling. Since I began running I have also noticed that I can do leg lifts, where previously I could not lift my feet off of the ground, at all. In the words of my instructor Mandy, "Well, those muscles weren't there six months ago! And now you can control them too!" So true, Mandy. So true.
I'm still amazed that my legs are together and straight, and that my toes are pointed!

Since I noticed this increase in muscle strength I have been able to consistently force-out over the board without smacking my legs! It is such an amazing feeling of relief. And once I was able to consistently force-out without hurting myself, my instructors built the half-turn into my swing as well! The best way to explain this entire compilation of a trick is: Jump... 3 kicks (back-forward-back)... turn around (at height of swing)... swing forward... force-out over the board... swing backward... turn around (at height of swing)... grab wrists with the catcher!

I picked up the half-turn really quickly. Actually, I threw it just once two weeks ago. Worked on it last week. And caught it both times last night!! This trick has brought me a lot of smiles, tears (almost), happiness, and pain... and I'm proud to say I've finally accomplished it!

Thanks to Grace, my first half-turn catch was caught on camera. Thanks, Grace! Y'all can check it out here...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Without further ado...

I am going to be the future Mrs. Ross Dodd! How exciting is that?! But what kind of blogger am I to leave my audience hanging for over two months (TWO MONTHS!). No details about the engagement, totally in the dark on wedding planning, and who can forget the trip to Cabo?! Better late than never they say. So, without further ado, I give you the story of our engagement.

Ross proposed on the first day of our two week vacation; Saturday, April 14. We drove up to New Jersey that morning and had lunch with his parents. During our time at their house Ross' mom covertly slipped a ring box in Ross' vest pocket. She had to be extra careful because the ring was Ross' grandmother's engagement ring and, in fact, Ross' mom has been wearing it for the past 14 years since her mom passed. I would have noticed if Ross' mom did not have the ring on her right hand, so to play along she wore none of her rings - common practice when cooking in the kitchen, so I thought nothing of it!

We then drove to Ross' grandmother's apartment for a quick visit! I had not seen her in a while, so it was nice to catch up. In hindsight, Ross seemed a little antsy - but my senses still weren't triggered at this point.

After visiting with Ross’ grandmother we drove up to my Mom and Ken’s house. While Ken and I were in the kitchen pouring cocktails and preparing a tray of cheese and crackers, Ross took advantage of the time alone with my Mom. As soon as I was inside Ross turns to my Mom and says, "Can you keep a secret?" and at that moment popped open the ring box. I was told my mom shrieked with joy - I'm kind of surprised I didn't hear her inside! - hugged Ross and I'm sure got out a "Congratulations, I'm so excited" through her joyous tears.

When Ken and I returned to the backyard with snacks and drinks, all seemed normal until... Ross went inside to use the restroom. Strangely, my Mom was emphatic that Ross was unpacking the luggage from our car. She insisted, "Ken, Ross needs help unpacking the car, go and find him!" She even turned her back to me and was doing something with her hands. I now realize she was holding out her left hand and enthusiastically pointing to her ring finger. Her gestures seemed a little out of place, but I was still oblivious.

Even though we didn’t get to see my Dad on this day, Ross had already covered that base! A month earlier when my Dad was visiting us in DC, Ross took an opportunity the night of my trapeze show to let my Dad know what he had planned! While I was getting ready for my performance, Dad, Rosa, and Ross were picking up dinner at the cafĂ© in our building. While Ross certainly wanted my Dad’s blessing, he didn’t quite ask for permission, it was more of a “I’d like you to know” followed by one of my Dad’s profound bouts of silence with a heavy intake of breath. Of course my Dad was excited and gave his blessing to Ross and what he had planned. To this day I marvel at the fact that for four weeks he didn’t utter a word to me! My Dad did admit that a few phone calls got cut short because he thought it might slip out.

Back at Mom and Ken’s house, we were all outside and Mom was being a bit “aggressive” about my wedding. After all, she has a 20-something daughter living with her boyfriend and we had talked about marriage so it certainly wasn't out of the ordinary for her to get excited and start pre-planning. Even I had been in serious pre-engagement wedding planning mode for a few weeks prior, I just couldn't help myself. So when she asked me about flowers and a dress it did not seem bizarre. Although, when she said for the second time “Well, maybe if Ross put a ring on your finger…” my senses were heightened.

We had dinner reservations in 90 minutes so Mom and Ken decided to go inside and get ready for dinner. Or so I thought. They actually parked themselves at the living room window.

Nearly 30 seconds later, Ross asked if I wanted to cuddle with him on the lounge chair. As I lay on top of him, sipping my lemonade and vodka, he begins…

If I wait any longer this is going to burn a hole in my pocket and they are really going to give it away...

I gasp for air and my body stiffens at the realization of what is happening.

Open ring box.

Will you marry me?

After about two seconds of awed stunned-ness (yes, I know that is not a word) I reply, “Oh my God”, start to cry, and find a way to put my drink down so that I can sit up and properly look at this man that has asked me to be my wife. Once I sat up I said “Yes!” in as much of a voice as I could muster, planted a big kiss on him, and asked him to put the ring on my finger.

Popping the question!

Not less than fifteen seconds later, my Mom was running into the backyard screaming “my daughter’s engaged!” The next 90 minutes were rather whirlwind… I made as many phone calls as possible. Surprisingly, I had to call my Dad twice to get in touch with him! He didn’t have his phone next to him, so as soon as Rosa saw I called back not more than three minutes later she hunted him down and said, “I think you want to take this!” She was right. Dad was super ecstatic for us!! I tried to talk with as many friends and family members as possible, which sometimes meant having my phone on the bathroom counter on speaker while applying eyeliner and straightening my hair!
Surprisingly, my nails were painted a classic pale pink. Snapped this picture of the ring while on the driveway making phone calls! Everybody kept asking for a peak :)
The next twenty-four hours involved four bottles of champagne, lots of hugs, kisses, and phone calls from friends and family, as well as an exciting start to the rest of our lives together! Three days later we left for Cabo with our friends Vinnie and Kelly. If you have a chance, I highly suggest embarking on an “engagement-moon” to a place without cell service or internet because it will truly provide the serenity you need to enjoy this time together without distractions and premature questions about wedding planning.
Ross and I holding hands on the way to a celebratory engagement dinner.

Since April we have been busy, but more on that later…