Monday, April 26, 2010

Little Rock Feis 2010- A [lengthy] Post With Photos and Reflections

Friday before the feis I woke up, packed up the last of my needed items, checked things off of my list, headed to my chiropractor, lunch with Jon, then on to my classmate's parent's house. I hitched a ride to Little Rock with them and another mother and her 6 year old daughter. We hit the road around 2:30pm and soon after we were on I-40 headed to Arkansas.

Here's the 8 year old watching movies en route.
The invention of a tv screen in a moter vehicle is a fantastic one. May not be the most life altering type of invention, but, I think it saves some parental sanity. For those who are curious we did not watch "Tinkerbell" much to my disappointment. However, there was a Barbie movie which I tried to watch, I really did. But, I got a bit carsick so I stopped watching and joined the conversation going on between the moms.
Living in Hilton luxery for the night.
You may think me quite crazy to hitch a ride in a vehicle with two young children. To be honest, it didn't bother me a bit! I think it helps that I work with young children most days of the week. Even if I didn't work with them, still, splitting the cost of a hotel room at the Hilton plus splitting the cost of gas is well worth putting up with any shenanigans an 8 and 6 year old can dish out.
Truely though, the little ones are great kids and they kept me laughing throughout the trip. Mucho needed as I was SO nervous!
Checking out in your wig and make-up. You would be surprised at how many people think the wig is a person's natural hair.
D-day- ie Feis morning. My room woke up early to begin the routine of getting ready to head out and get our Irish dance on. Luckily for me, I'm old enough to get myself ready and I don't have to worry about a wig just yet. What's the deal with the wigs you ask? Apparently girls and women would curl their hair whenever they competed or performed. Someone got the idea that curling your hair and keeping it curled was cumbersome (it is btw!) so people starting putting on wigs with curls and all instead. I actually like them and as looney tooney as it sounds I really want to wear one! They look great when you're bouncing around onstage AND I've always wanted tons of natural curl without tons of effort. Ahh those things you obsess about when you have straight hair.

Ready to get her feis on.
Here's my school's 6 year old, Miss Imp extraodinaire. Like me she was participating in her first feis. She isn't wearing a wig because she's a beginner and also because she's just too young. Some people in Irish dance can be hung up on appearances unfortunatly. Fortunatly for us, our teacher isn't about to stick little girls in make-up and wigs! She just doesn't find it reasonable and I couldn't agree more!

Susan looking rather smashing in her wig!
Okay, 'nuff about the wigs. Saturday morning turned out a wee bit hectic for our crew. The 8 year old's mom and I both FORGOT our outfits for the feis!! Oy and vey! In my defense I was up at 6am and hadn't had all of my coffee. One of the moms ran back to the hotel to fetch our outfits, but, after she left those of us left behind realized we were at the WRONG location!! All worked out well though, we hitched a ride on a shuttle and met the mom at the correct location; funny side note the correct location was probably no more than three blocks from our hotel! Oh life, you're so funny sometimes! Fortunatly the competition started a bit late so we were where we needed to be with plenty of time to get ready.

Met up with the rest of the KBS Tulsa crew at the feis. Here's the 10 year old getting her shoes on.
The fies was in one huuuuuge room at a convention center. Four stages, plus a podium stage, plus a few vendors, plus the tabulation table, plus one concession area, and three hundred people all fit comfortably in this room. I couldn't believe it, but, compared to the feis I observed in Dallas (which was about the same size people wise) this environment was much calmer and I really loved it.

The essence of getting ready to dance- dress bags, hangers, make-up, hair products, shoes, and water.
I had about two hours before I had to dance. I warmed up with my classmates, but, didn't go at it too hard as my shins were still a bit tender. Nerves began to set in and for about 30 seconds I considered bolting! My hands were shaking and it took nearly 15 minutes for me to put my make-up on. My teacher KT kept telling me to breathe and relax. Afterall, it was my first feis and I was there for experience. I could've fallen all over the stage and she was still going to advance me! I know, why was I so nervous?! I was in a win-win situation. Still, I'm a perfectionist and I wanted to do well. I didn't care so much about my results (ok I cared a little!) as I truely believe that doing well on stage trumped any placement.

Getting fitted properly for shoes is a MUST! I loved the people who fitted me and Susan. So nice, professional, took all the time needed for a proper fitting. If you ever find yourself in Irish Dance I would highly reccomend Ballinvilla- George and Betsy are precious and they really care about you and your feet!
So how did it go for me you ask? I LOVED being on stage! Before the stage part I checked in and was ready to pass out at that point. Sarah (an older adult dancer) was the perfect mother hen and gave me lots of last minute encouragement and advice. I got on stage for my reel dance. Two other dancers were with me. I started first with another lady and right as the music started the judge pointed his finger to move on the other side of the lady! Oh my GAWD! So I quickly scooted behind her and got to the other side just in time for the new phrase and for me to begin! The judge smiled and nodded at me and I nearly died!
Despite the bumpy start I went at it with tons of energy. God bless endorphines! I got really close to the edge of the stage, but, stayed on it and finished well. In fact, halfway into my reel I thought, 'Hmmm, this is fun!' I made some little mistakes with my arms and my turnout wasn't very good at all (shin splints didn't help, but, to be truthful turnout is my weakest area). After the reel I waited for about 5-10 minutes to go at my slip jig. I was bubbling over with adreline and used that to bounce and move all over the stage when I danced again. I was so happy afterwords! Two of my classmates came up to me and gave me hugs and congratulations! What a rush!

KBS Tulsa's 10 year old near champion level dancer. Isn't she precious?

Not only was dancing on stage an unbelievable joy to me, watching my other classmates get up there on stage and do well was a true pleasure. Our little KBS Tulsa team were running back and forth getting to their respective stages as well as the stages our classmates were on. We were all rooting for one another and ready to help with bobby pins, spare shoes, and anything else needed to help us perform. I could not ask for a better group to be part of!

The eight year old in her solo dress
'Team Tulsa' as we dubbed ourselves, did exceptionally well! Susan recieved three first places and one second place, the 8 year old was in the top four in each dance she performed in, the 10 year old also recieved three firsts and a second, Sarah was in first or second in all of her dances, and another teen dancer placed in the top four as well in each of her dances! The six year old beginner (it was her first feis too) recieved two first placements, one second, and one third. I recieved a first in my reel and a second in my slip jig- I was in shock! But, most importantly we all worked hard, did our best, and were there to support one another.

KT, my instructor, and Sarah all smiles.
Since Irish dance is a competitive performing art there is a lot of pressure to place well so you can advance to the next level. With each level the steps get harder and whenever you are being judged by a person you just don't know how well it's going to go. It is subjective, but, on the flip side recieving constructive criticism can help one improve. I thought I danced my slip jig better than my reel, but, the judges changed and another judge watched my slip jig. She counted me off more for my weak turnout than the other judge did. Rather than get down about it I am actually more motivated to improve! No one is more surprised than me at how I have reacted to being on stage and being judged. I guess maturity and perspective make all the difference.

Showing off the bling is a must!
Fortnatly I have a bit of time before the next feis to get harder steps and improve my technique. Being an adult dancer isn't quite as high intensity as competiting as a youngin'. I actually had some adults and one of my competitors come up to me and give me congratulations and hugs! How nice is that? I know there are those who wouldn't be so nice and welcoming, but, I think if you understand that going in you can buffer yourself to that craziness. After all, in all areas of life there are just going to be some people who will be very intense and over the top about anything whether it's a sport, art, an academic subject, politics, religon, etc etc.
That smile is priceless! She had so much fun dancing that day.
What did I get out of my first feis? I got a sense of community with my classmates and a renewed sense of what competition is about. It isn't about the other person, the placements (though if you do well it is nice- no lie!), it's about me and how I do before and up to the actual performance. I used to dread any competition for anything because I was so worried about not doing well. Now, I only worry about working diligently up to the day I compete and having a performance I can learn from. If I hadn't had such support from my classmates and work discipline my shin splints would've gotten the best of me and I seriously doubt I would've made it to the feis much less dance as well as I did.
Having a bit of fun.

Part of KBS Team Tulsa crew. We had such a great day!
It seems that despite a life time's worth of 'competition sucks' mentality getting into Irish dance I will get some fabulous and positive life lessons out of it. I haven't had that much fun in a competition since my high school band days. Completly worth the trip, the effort, the pain, the tears, etc etc. I am still smiling today and can't wait for more. Good or bad results be da***d, I say bring it on!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It Was A Good Weekend

My awesome classmate and friend Susan and moi
I know my lips look a bit puckered, but, can you tell I was beaming when this pic was taken? Why you ask? Because it was a fabulous weekend at the Little Rock Feis for Team Tulsa!! I can't wait to tell you all about it!
In the meantime I'll let you all in on a little part of what happened Saturday- there are four first places (individual dances) between Susan and !!! IHow's them apples?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cue "On the Road Again" Music Now!

Susan's cute feet chillin' on the way to the Dallas feis last February
Well folks today is the day I galavant off to Little Rock for some feis and fun. Despite having a meltdown last night (shin pain, plus different teacher, plus new dance sneakers to break-in, plus my inclination towards being a high strung perfectionist equaled MESS!) I had no doubt I was going to pack my bag and hit the road today. As of 2:3opm CST I will be on the road with 8 year old Maddie, six year old Josie, and their [very cool] moms. I was promised four hours of dvd watching- and that "Tinkerbell" is a must-see.
So this is it! My first solo competition since high school and my first dance competition ever. Wish me luck and say a prayer I make it out looking decent please! See you all on the flip side!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feis Prep: Get Organized

Note: This is not what my to-do list looks like... give or take a couple of to-do's
Okay so an out of town trip that'll last no more than 36 hours, at one point, would not warrent a to-do and packing list in my book. I once had to pack clothes and items keeping in mind I wouldn't be in America for nearly 10 months without making a single list. However, as I've gotten older and wiser I have discovered the bliss that is putting items needed and to do on a piece of paper; add a first competition ever for me (dance wise) I knew I had to get my merde together.
Thus, I am making daily to-do lists with the Little Rock Feis in mind. I don't know what has inspired me really, but, I do know that getting organized means less to deal with the day of my competition. Let's think this one through shall we? Less stress to deal with in my performance anxiety brain? Frak yeah bring it! I'm game.
I have shopped for items (make-up, hair stuff, etc) already and the next step is mapping out my day and a half in Arkansas. Of course, I know there's no way I'm going to stick to an exact schedule as, for one, I am soooooo not a Type A personality. That said, getting an idea of what I need to be doing I think is helpful. To top it off I actually typed up a packing list! I know, I know you are probably thinking, "So?" If you knew me, especially when I swore up, down, sideways, underways, topways I would never write much less type a list, you would be shocked or proud.
To be honest, I'm kinda proud of myself. Just a teeny, teeny bit, but, it's there. ;-)
The real trick is getting all those to-do's and taking all the needed items on the trip. Ha! We'll see how that one goes!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Feis Prep Time

Alrighty, so it's been a few days and I do apologize for that! I've been a busy bee as this Saturday is my first Irish dance competition or Feis. Cuhrazy-ness! Of course, I have to share with you all what to-do and not to do, when preparing for a Feis.
Learn from my mistakes!
First part of my preparations has involved a lot personal care. Particularly for my shins. I am on strict regimine of ice packs and epsom salt baths as I am beginning to get shin splints! Blah! This is what I get for not stretching nearly enough (ie barely at all) after I have danced. Bad Megan. Moral of the story before a Feis, or heck just to not have to deal with swollen and painful calves, stretch lots and take care of your body!
To recap: Do- Stretch lots, attend to pain right away.
Don't- Think you're too tired and not stretch after class.
The more you know!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why I Can't Think So Well...

I know, I know excuses, excuses...
Bear with me for a second... I promise there's a good, and I mean good excuse as to why I'm not taking pictures, blogging...

You see these three items? They are they only things keeping me upright at the moment. Without them I don't believe I could function at all. The tree and grass pollen counts are high, like red zone high here in Tulsa. Add some moderate weed and mold counts in there and many people around here are barely able to function. According to some reputable websites, we are having one of the worst spring allergy season in quite some time. Apparently the cold and snowy winter I was in love with is responsible (along with a warmer than normal spring). I'lm trying not to be bitter with the, but, it's rather difficult. I'm living through better chemistry right now and suffice it to day I am SO ready for some clearer air. It's the whole being able to breathe and think and function thing- I kinda like it.
See told ya there was a good reason.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Different Perspective

I want to share some photos taken by different people at yesterday's Farmers Market.

Courtesy of the mother of the littlest dancer who danced with us. A pretty good air shot, and let's face it getting a great shot of a jump/leap is really, really hard! Fun stuff. Thanks to Mrs. S for this picture!

Jon took this picture of Louie-lou. Louie loves, and I mean LOVES crowds. He was pulling around a bit too much (still not out of control though) as he was just SO excited to be around people and other dogs. I think this picture captures his excitement for the Market perfectly. I think we'll have to go the there again, if not for the awesome produce and such, but, at the very least to get Louie accoustomed to crowds.

And here's my [not so] 'little' guy. Loveable Leo, just checking things out and taking things in as calm and placid as can be. He and Louie are a perfect pair. They balance one another out perfectly.
I love seeing different perspectives. Looking at the same surroundings, but, through a different lense is refreshing non?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bright and Early

This morning I got my half-awake body out of bed (I only slept a small handful of hours), got in the shower, got 'dolled' up, and had Jon take me and the boys to the Cherry Street Farmers Market. Why was I there? For food? Nope. For fresh produce? Nope.
I was there to dance!
An Irish music band, An tír glas Céilidh, invited us [students of my Irish dance school] to dance while they played for the market crowd. As I'm going to compete in a dance competition soon, I figured this would be a good experience. I haven't danced in front of a crowd since I was nine.

With the boys in tow, and no coffee in my stomach, Jon and I arrived at the Market.

Of course, a pow-wow is neccessary even for a relatively low key dance like this one.

As well as, an obligatory 'check out Cathleen and I rock this parochial school girl look' picture. I've never worn a plaid skirt that made my legs look somewhat decent, so, I had to document it. Vain, I know, but, when you have a complex about your legs like me you would understand.

The boys were pretty excited. I had to reign them in several times, especially since Jon wasn't in the mood. He hadn't had breakfast, poor guy. Understandable he lacked the strength to handle the puppies. ;-)

Oh, yes, right the dancing part. Yes, there was some of that. I screwed up a couple of things, at first, buuuuuttt, I recovered and had some fun. Hmmm... will have to work on that arm and upper body carriage though.

Sorry! Can't help but analyze! Check this lady out-her name is Sarah, she's 52, a dective, and she can dance circles around me. She's one heck of an inspiration.

A quick note- what we did today, dance wise, is called a step-about. Everyone takes a turn to dance a step or two (step= equals a bunch of steps done with one leg leading then the opposite). Anyways, in a step-about there's a bit of waiting, but, you have to pay attention 'cause if you don't, you look like an idiot starting late.

Please note, that idiot comment was not a reference to me nor any of the other dancers. Okay, so maybe I was a beat late, but, it didn't look like it to anyone soo... doesn't apply. Right? Right?!

After some we danced the dogs, who did a good job waiting around with the crowds, had to be loved on. This is me with Louie (who you all know well!) and Maddie- an eight year old spitfire who I have to keep up with in class every week! She's cute, and nice, so, when I can't keep she's very sweet about it.

No worries, Leo got plenty of love too!

You know what the best part about today was? It wasn't learning to dance in front of a crowd, not dancing with live musicians, not seeing the market, or the goods there- though all of that was fantastic mind you- it was being with a bunch of really nice people who've embraced me as one of their own and made me feel a part of a family.
You may all say, "Awwwwwwww!!" now. ;-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Just One of Those Days...

What was it about this morning? I woke up, felt ready to go, not needing as much coffee as usual... feeling productive, upbeat. What is it?

The journal that I'm writing in and the calender that's keeping me organized? Perhaps it's because I feel less chaotic?

Was it being able to open the windows and feel the breeze waft inside?

Was it this flower [which I don't know the name to] that literally smells like spring? Did it liven my step?

Was it the bright clear sky that only comes after a late night storm that tempted the dogs outside again and again?
Maybe it was hanging with a great friend this past weekend, and the comments from another lovely friend? Perhaps it's that feeling of friendship with spring blossoming everywhere that has me in such a great mood. Or maybe it's the feeling of accomplishment when my Irish dance teacher told me earlier this week I was good enough to compete?
I think it's all of the above. Today was just one of those days when friendship felt stronger and valued, when the sun added energy to my step, when the writings of my random fire mind are put on page making me feel clearer, when I can check things off of my to-do list and actually feel a sense of accomplishment, all of these came together and just made me feel happy to be alive.
Today is something I needed. Cheesy I know, but, we all need days like this. If yours hasn't come yet, keep positive, because it will come.

Monday, April 5, 2010


What happens when you cut off two very active dogs from the outside while the lawn gets mowed?

And this...

Major paper product carnage.

We lost some good rolls that day. Their sacrifice will not be in vain.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Joyeuses Pâques!!

I'm hanging out with my peeps today (I know lame joke- had to be said though!) and enjoying some good food. Hope you all are having, or had depending on your time zone, a very Happy Easter or Joyeuses Pâques!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Purple Spring

I seriously love redbuds in spring. Not quite like cherry blossoms, but, they are still gorgeous in their own right.

I simply love how Mother Nature displays the start of spring. Hope you all are having a great weekend and Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools Joke Fail

I totally wish I could've wrote, "Mina did the laundry today- APRIL FOOLS!"
Let's face it- cats can't do laundry. Even if they could fold things, there's no way they would allow us to use them like that. Though obviously Mina enjoys the laundry quite a bit.
Happy April Everyone!