I was starting to stretch myself really thin with everything I had taken on. I work full time, go to pole and silks classes and booked photo shoots on my days off. I didn’t train enough for the competition and it showed in my performance. My chores at home were piling up, giving me stress. My kids and husband missed me. I was tired all the time. Everything was catching up with me and getting to be too much.
I made a few jobs changes in 2017 which was a lot of adjustments. I was struggling to fit in at my new jobs. I realized that being pretty, confident, smart, having a great personality and be really intimidating to others. I was constantly feeling like the outcast and that I was always trying to prove myself. No matter what I seemed to do, it was never good enough.
The breaking point was my grandma’s health decreased over the summer and she passed at the end of October. I was so busy that I was not able to go visit her before she passed. I grew up living with her and my mom, so she helped raise me. She taught me how to become a strong woman. I was devastated by her loss. I slipped into a depression through the rest of the fall and most of the winter. I stopped going to pole classes for a while, didn’t practice at home at all either. I needed time to grieve and be with my family, so I put everything else on hold.
I did it! I competed! I competed in Verticlove’s Great White North Pole Competition. It was my first competition so I entered the amateur division. The song I choose was the acoustic version of TLC’s “Unpretty.” My costume was white lace top and bottoms with a sheer robe and 8 inch Pleaser heels. I wrote body shaming words on my body which was shown when I opened my robe at the beginning of the song. As the song goes on, I find my confidence through pole dancing and shed the robe at the end showing the words Beautiful and Strong on my biceps.
I loved my concept for the performance and kept my choreography to tricks I knew really well. Where it went wrong was not practicing it enough to really make it flow, clean up my inverts and lines in poses. I also didn’t practice writing the words on my body. I accidentally ended up buying permanent paint to write the words. My concept was to smear the body shaming words as I dance so show that I’m wiping the negativity away. But since the paint was permanent, it did not wipe off, and it was not dark enough for the audience to see it clearly.
After I performed, I was too nervous to watch the other competitors. I walked around the Hamilton harbour during a thunderstorm and reflected on my performance.
I didn’t end up placing but I felt a winner just getting up on stage to compete. It was an amazing experience and learnt a lot for future performances. It was good to get the first one under my belt as now I have a better understanding of what the judges are looking for.
Where are you? Why are you hiding? My energy levels and drive have been low. I try to eat better but then slip backwards into old habits. My progress in aerial has been slower. I’m at a plateau.
I see other people grow above me. I get frustrated at how my lack of advancement.
Why can I not handspring yet? Am I just not strong enough? I am doubting my abilities. The other things in my life have taken over. My dreams seem like they are no longer obtainable.
I wasn’t sure how to proceed from here. So I thought looking back may help. I recently reread this blog. It reminded me where I started from and how far I’ve come. Just within the last year, I created this blog, a brand for myself and started performing. Later this year, I will be competing and getting my instructor certification.
I also looked but at my pole board on Pinterest. I used to spend hours looking through pole pictures and videos for inspiration and motivation. I took some time revisiting my pins, which reminded me how I fell I love with pole. And how obsessed I was with it. Whenever I listened to music, I thought of poling. Whenever I shopped for clothes, I looked for new pole clothes. Whenever I was out anywhere, I looked for a pole to play on.
My handspring will come. It took me a year and a half to do a shoulder mount. More than half my battle is mental. I need to keep believing in myself. I need to stop looking at others with envy, instead let them inspire and teach me. I too can do it. No more excuses. I had so many goals at the beginning of the year. I know once I start training regularly again my passion will return.
I had signed up for Verticalove’s Something Wicked right after the Girlie Show. I wanted to challenge myself with something new. So, I decided I would teach myself how to dance in ballet pointe shoes to the hip-hop song Ballerina by Belly. My concept was fusing the pointe shoes and elements of a ballerina costume with pole. I bought the shoes at the end of November and started breaking them in.
I had a great training plan set up for the New Year, unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. I got hand, mouth and foot disease which prevented me from training for a bit. After that, I was sick for a week. And then shortly after that I pulled a tendon in my bicep. I got hit with one thing after another, making it difficult to consistently train. I suffered with my arm injury for a month and I then finally went to physio for treatment. I took time off completely while my arm was getting treated. Right when my arm was better, I had to go in for surgery on my breast implant…a week before I was to perform.
I managed to put a routine together in between all of that, but it was no where near perfected. I wish I had the opportunity to tweak the routine and clean it up. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to before the surgery so I would have to go with what I had. I put in tricks in that I knew well as I knew I would still be recovering. A week after my surgery, I practiced the routine twice and to see if I as going to have to make any changes. It went ok, so decided to stick with what I had. The next day though, my stitches really hurt and I was nervous that I pushed myself too hard. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to perform in 3 days.
I felt better after a few days of rest. The day of the show, I went to practice on the stage during rehearsals to map it out. After that, I went home to work on a few transitions and then rested until I had to get ready.
I wasn’t as nervous as I was at the Girlie Show before going on stage. The first half of the routine went as well, until my mask moved out of place. I decided to take it off, but didn’t realize it was double knotted so it not slip off easily. The top the the mask pulled my hair out of place right before my ending combo. I was disappointed that had happened.
The following few days, I was pretty bummed about the whole thing. I wasn’t thrilled with the pictures as I have taken time off training and not eating very well. I felt fat. I was being quite hard on myself. But then a friend reminded me that most people wouldn’t have even been able to do that at all. Let alone, recovering from injury and surgery. Despite feeling unprepared, I had pulled it off.
Things don’t always work out the way you want but the important thing is how you handle it, learn from it, and move on.
At the end of December, I participated in the Paradisaea winter recital. I worked hard on a drop called mission impossible that I was having difficultly with. The week before the show, I finally nailed it and was confident I could execute the trick in the show.
The first show went great, all my tricks went perfectly. The only thing was that I was in the back for the whole show. I climbed really high so that my family could see me in the back.
So in the second show, I was offered to switch spots to the front during the mission impossible trick. I was excited to be up front, but I could feel my body was really tired from a very long weekend. After I did the drop, I realized that the fabric was too high and tight on my waist and I was stuck 7 feet off the ground. My instructor had to get the ladder to get me down! I was so embarrassed and disappointed in myself. But I had 2 other tricks to do so I kept on going. I chalked it up to a learning experience and didn’t feel so bad as a few others made mistakes as well.
When I got home from my performance, I was on a high. I posted a few pictures on my facebook and was getting a lot of compliments. I received a message from a friend from grade school and when I first opened it I thought it was going to be positive. But then as I read it my heart sank and was left speechless.
I have privately shared the message with a few close friends. Everyone who read it was furious, told me it’s not true and gave me a lot of compliments. It made me momentarily feel better. But as the days went on, it was stuck in my head and was eating away at me.
I had been eating very healthy before the performance, but a after that I started binging for comfort. My mood had been all over the place and been having difficulty looking myself in the mirror. After 2 weeks, I am a mess. I gained 6 pounds, my confidence shattered and been upset that everything I worked so hard for is slipping away.
I finally pulled myself out of depression and decided I was going to use this experience in a positive way. I also created a freestyle video as a release for myself and posted it with the message.
I was very grateful for all the wonderful comments I received. Although I posted not to get validation but more so talk about body shaming. It’s not ok to do to anyone! I felt like I could use my experience to highlight how devastating it is to someone. The media has created an unrealistic image of what women are supposed to look like, which is stressful enough. Add bullying from your peers and it’s enough to create serious mental health problems. Be encouraging of others. Support them when they are doing something to better themselves. If you are jealous, maybe examine yourself before taking it out on someone who is doing well. And if you don’t like what someone posts, simply unfriend.
I spent several months working on choreographing my own routine for the first time. It was supposed to be for a spring showcase at SASS, which the date was pushed back several times. Then it was cancelled and postponed until the fall due to a lack of performers ready with a routine. When my silks instructor heard it was cancelled, she invited me to perform my routine at our silks recital.
I altered my costume a bit as the show was for all ages. I had to change my song to a Beatles song as that was the theme. I picked Free As A Bird and it fit my routine well. I spent hours preparing for the show.
On rehearsal day, I set up the 2 stage poles to practice. The show was in a gym and it was very hot. I was very worried that I would be too sweaty to execute my shoulder mount in the routine.
The day of the show, I was beyond nervous. When I got out there, I concentrated on my music and my movements and didn’t look at the audience. I did bail on my shoulder mount as I was just too slippery. Overall, I was happy how it went but was going to take the shoulder mount out of the second show
The silks group routine I wasn’t nearly as nervous for as I wasn’t out there alone. It went well. My husband and kids came to support me and my husband recorded my performances.
Between the first and second show, I was told that there was some negative comments about my pole routine posted on the events Facebook page. I was asked to tone down the routine or perhaps take it out of the second show. I thought about it for a bit and decided that I did not want to change my art because of a bully, so I didn’t perform. I went home for a bit to clear my head, and went back just to perform the group silks routine at the end of the show.
After the show, I bought a big bottle of wine, relaxed in my hot tub and vented to some pole friends. I took solace in hearing other friends stories of facing negative comments through their pole career. The stigma around pole is sometimes difficult for a dancer to deal with. But it’s our passion and art and we are tough girls that will face the negativity head on and will not let it defeat us.
After gaining confidence in my appearance, I decided not to be so afraid to post pictures online. When I practiced, I took pictures and videos to document my progress.
In the fall, I took a sexy flow class to learn the sexier side of pole. I loved the class and finally got to use my first pair of Pleaser heels. That class made me feel so sexy and confident and I discovered that was the type of routines I really liked. I had a lot of anxiety about posting the routine on Facebook because of what people would think.
A few of my profile pictures was reported to Facebook as containing nudity. I posted this on my page: To the person that keeps reporting my pole profile pictures as containing nudity, you really are not accomplishing anything but making me want to work harder and post more pictures. So thank you for your motivation.
I got so many positive comments on that post. I was told that my commitment inspired other people, which brought me to tears. This gave me the encouragement to push harder and further.
I made several pole goals in my 2015 New Year’s resolutions. But then 1 week later, all of that changed when I had some friends over and I showed them my new pole room. I did a spin and the pole fell out of the ceiling. The pole almost hit my husband in the head and I was on the floor. I thought my leg really hurt and then I look down at my knee and my knee cap was completely dislocated. I started screaming in shock. Thoughts of how I will never be able to pole again went running through my mind.
The paramedics came and drugged me up to put my knee cap back in place and took me to the hospital. This was my first ever ride in an ambulance. I got X-rays and then a leg brace put on.
After I could take the leg brace off, I had to do physio for 4 months. While I was recovering, I decided it was a good time to get breast implants. It was a scary decision, but I am so happy that I did it.