Ruby Pumps

You may remember a couple years ago I bought myself  these babies:

A couple months later, I glittered them red on the platforms, and they were pretty awesome.

But this past fall, I stumbled onto something phenomenal.  I had been unhappy for a while with the lack of shine and sparkle on my shoes. The jelly-based paint I used just wasn’t as sparkly as I had hoped it would be, and the platforms merely looked red.  I wanted BLING, not just color and a muted shine.

When I was in Michaels, I ran across some strips of self-adhesive rhinestones in a myriad of different colors.  I figured, why not give it a try? If nothing else, I could always rip the strips off and use loose rhinestones if I had to.  So I got a tube of E6000 glue, an Exacto knife, and set to work.  Here’s an image I’d then in progress, so you can see the red glitter that was on them before:
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Red shoes 1

Red shoes 2
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Aren’t they gorgeous?  In the second image you can see the strip of rhinestones I was using. And the “stones” themselves are a pliable plastic, so I could cut the stones themselves in half or at angles or however I needed to make them fit.  When I finished both shoes, I was overjoyed.  I sealed them with a spray glitter sealant (for shine).  I’ve danced in them several times since, and they’ve held up wonderfully, with only a little rubbing on the toes, the top of the heel and bottom of the stiletto.

Samantha admired them so much I ended up making her a pair with electric blue rhinestones for Christmas this past year. 
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Fabulous, right? And she loves hers as much as I love mine.  So if you want to bling your shoes without having to deal with a zillion individual rhinestones and are a little crafty, give this a try.

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Absence makes the heart grow… fonder?

Icon - For the BirdsDid you forget about me?  I know I’ve only made one post in the last year.  It makes me feel like a bad blogger, but I had a lot happen in my life last year, which I detailed in the last post.   And except for the lack of pole in my life, things couldn’t be better.

Up through the first of March, I was still going to see Samantha about once every couple of weeks to play.  For some reason, since the first of the year, I just haven’t been feeling it.  The joy has been lost. We do yoga, and some fun spins and new combos, or flexibility work and strength training because we were both lax over the holidays about working out.  But there’s no joy.  I feel unfulfilled.  I don’t feel the fierce pride in my strength, or the joy of taxing my muscles and feeling them shake with fatigue when I’m finished.  It’s nice, but…  I have no motivation. I went, and worked out with Samantha, and managed maybe one other short workout with Jessie during the week.  But it’s hard to be motivated to work out when you already walk 10 miles a day at your job pushing patients on beds and stretchers.  But I spent time once a week or so with Samantha, and worked out a little with Jessie.  But that was the first of March.

Since then, I’ve been in a small car accident – I was rear-ended.  I threw my neck and right shoulder out badly, and didn’t exercise at all for two weeks straight because the muscles were so inflamed.  But I was able to go see my dad about 10 days after the accident, and he spent the whole weekend realigning my spine.  That was a couple weeks ago now, and I feel pretty much back to normal, but I still haven’t been working out.  And stretching regularly?  That went out the window weeks ago.  I’m terrible at being consistent with things – I need someone to keep me accountable.

I know I need to work out, to pole in some respect, even if it’s just a twirl a couple times a day.  But I’m just not interested.  And I think it’s because I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  This session at school has been extremely demanding, but this is thankfully the last week.  I’ve been dealing with trying to get my car fixed from the collision as well, and it’s finally in the shop getting repaired this week. Work has been more and more frustrating recently as well, with a lot of politics and favoritism, and me becoming more and more disgruntled.  Add to that trying to balance time with the boyfriend, time with my roommate/best friend, and I have just enough time left to sleep.

So it’s no wonder pole and exercise have taken a back seat.  I have taken the first step though – I’ve started to change my diet back to something healthier, and am working on cutting out sweets, excessive carbs and fats.  It’s not there yet, but I have to make changes gradually or I backslide.  I’m thinking about starting to work out again, and have started doing some yoga and light stretching a few times a week.  It’s not much, next to nothing, really, but it’s a start.

And I’ve had a breakthrough with my straddle stretches.  When I straddle, I always end up rolling my arches onto the floor so my knees and toes face the wall in front of me instead of up at the ceiling. I can get a wider, deeper straddle this way.  When I roll my knees and toes up, my abilities are greatly reduced.  I asked my father about it, and he said that the tendons in my inner thighs and medial hamstrings are tight, and that’s why I can’t go as far with my toes up.  That if I want to straddle with my toes up, I have to practice it.  *sigh*  Something else that will require consistent work and effort.  But he said as long as it’s muscle pain and not joint pain, then the only thing stopping me is my muscles.

I will get back to it.  And I will get back to blogging consistently.  I think I’ve just been stressed and overwhelmed.  My next day off work I’ll try to get together with Samantha again, now that I’m no longer injured.  It may be one good workout/dance session is all I need to get the spark back.

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MIA

Icon - Sakura - Bloom in AdversityMay.  I haven’t posted since May, and it’s now October.  I feel like a bad blogger.

I know, of course that I’m not.  And don’t take this to mean that I haven’t been poling, because I have.  I’m still working full-time, in school full-time, and once a week go pole with Samantha.  I’ve had a lot of things going on in my personal life, too, getting rid of an old boyfriend who wasn’t contributing to our relationship, getting a roommate who’s turned out to be one of my best friends (got her addicted to pole, too), met a new guy who’s become my boyfriend, and spent months working to rehabilitate my adductors which finally got too bad to stand.

My roommate Jessie, after some coaxing, has finally gotten addicted to pole just like I did.  I’ve taught her basic strengthening exercises, and she can successfully climb, Cupid (on the floor), Dip Spin, Fireman Spin, Back Hook Spin, and Pole Sit.  When we have days off from work together, we now both go to Samantha’s to play.  And I’ve discovered that I LOVE to teach.  I love seeing her succeed, seeing the joy that lights her face when she gets it, and the sheer FUN of slinging herself around the pole.  She says to me, ‘You make it look so EASY!’ and I just laugh.  I remember just a few short years ago when I was in her shoes.  I never imagined I’d get to this point, but here I am.  And I love it.

I haven’t made a lot of progress personally, lately.  In late June, I injured my right adductor so badly that it hurt for days, and had issues with it for weeks after, unable to straddle at more than a 90 degree angle.  I went from just fine to severe sharp stabbing pain in a matter of a couple of degrees.  It was at that point that I started going to a massage therapist for rehab.  She worked on me every other week for two months (if I could have gone more often I would have) before I felt back to normal.  She did muscle stripping and cross fiber friction along with other techniques to break up the scar tissue that’s built up in my adductor muscles and the surrounding connective tissue.  This, along with regular stretching and strengthening exercises, restored the elasticity to my muscles.  I’m not 100%, and I had a setback the end of September when I did a sidekick and my adductor decided it didn’t like that movement and I again hurt for days.  So I’m back to rehab, stretching and strengthening, getting massages when I can afford them and otherwise doing pole moves that don’t require contortionist level flexibility.  Unfortunately, from what I’ve been told, since I have scar tissue in the muscles, I will always have to be extra careful with them, and make sure I regularly stretch and strengthen to maintain the elasticity and flexibility.  With this more than anything, if I don’t use it, I lose it.

But I’ve been working on some back flexibility stuff this summer with Samantha that was great fun, if not always successful.  We can both successfully perform forearm stands, and lower down into a full scorpion pose.  We even tried chest stands one day – not fun.  I don’t think I’ll ever be doing that again.  And the flexibility in my legs is coming back.  Very slowly, but it is coming back. I’ll get there.  I just have to be careful and patient – not two of my strong suits.

I’m also noticing my lines are cleaner than they were last year, and pointing my toes has become almost second nature.  But enough for today.  I’ll write again soon, I promise. I have a new pair of shoes to show  you!

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Sore Muscle Magic

So I know this post is WAY overdue – it’s been almost a month since my last post.  My life has been crazy, and sucked, and I’ve been off the pole for almost 3 months now, except for the odd pole session every couple of weeks.  I was also injured a few weeks ago.

It happened at work – I pulled a muscle in my back.  It was along my spine, and ached from my bra strap down to just above my hip.  I posted about this on facebook, and  a few hours later, I was asked by Paula, who owns Dew Point Pole (great grip aids!) if I’d like to try a free sample of her new product to possibly aid in my recovery.  She didn’t ask for a review, but how could I not at the very least blog about how wonderful and caring she is?  I told her I’d LOVE to try it out, and a few days later, received a box in the mail.

Sore Muscle MagicEven through the exterior packaging I could smell the herbs inside.  Once I opened it, I discovered this beautiful white box with its very tasteful label, and the herbal (eucalyptus and lavender) smell intensified.  The three individually wrapped muslin bath sachets inside smelled heavenly, and contained a mixture of baking soda, Epson salts, essential oils and herbs.  The directions stated to place one bag under running water while filling the bath tub.

IMG_0378As the tub filled, the powerful smell of the eucalyptus (which I love) mellowed, giving way to a softer, earthier, chamomile scent.  And like a tea bag, the herbs turned the bathwater a pale yellow.  It looked like I was going to bathe myself in chamomile tea.  But it smelled good, and it felt so good to soak.  I relaxed in the hot water for about 45 min, and when I got out of the tub, I already felt MUCH better – even better than a regular Epson salt bath. My muscles were warm and relaxed, and the clenched, aching tightness in my back was gone.  I went to bed about an hour later, and woke up feeling wonderful.  It was the first morning since I’d been injured that I’d woken up without my back aching, and the effects lasted most of the day, and about halfway through my work day (my first day back at work after being injured).

A week later, I got back on the pole again, and learned a new routine a couple of my friends put together.  I also busted out a couple of Iron Xs, because I wanted to see how much strength I’d lost.  It turned out to be very little.  It makes me glad my job is so physical.  The interesting part, though, is that normally I have a stronger, more solid Iron X with my left hand up.  That day, I was stronger with my right hand as my top hand.  On the left side, I could Ayesha, but I kept losing my grip, and when I didn’t lose my grip, I just couldn’t slow the thing down – it was like a controlled fall.  I chalk it up now to the fact that my back muscles on that side were still recovering from injury – they protested later that evening, and let me know that an Iron X, even with mostly recovered muscles is not the best idea.  I was bruised and sore in other places from being on the pole for the first time in a few weeks, too.  So again, I busted out the Sore Muscle Magic, and ran myself a bath.  Same wonderful smell, same tea-like bathwater, same relaxed, wonderful feeling in my muscles afterword.  I woke up the next morning feeling great, not sore or stiff at all. Actually, my body felt amazing!  And though I was sure I’d have a few bruises from the day before, those never showed up, either. And I bruise pretty easily!  There were a couple I could feel, but they went away after a couple days.  But that wonderful, relaxed, almost new feeling (soft, pliable muscles, and no achy joints!) stayed with me all day.

All in all, I think this is an incredible product, and I’d like to express my deepest thanks to Paula for being so kind as to send me a sample.  I think it’s something every poler should have at least a dozen bags of on hand at all times.  I’ll definitely be keeping some on hand! Get your own from the Dew Point Website.

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Drunken Flexibility

Standing SplitsSo I went out with some coworkers the other night.  What started as late dinner and drinks turned into Friday night bar-hopping, drinking, and dancing.

Somehow, around 1am, for some reason I grabbed my foot and pulled up into a standing scorpion (think Closed Scorpio, but standing upright on the ground).  Then my coworkers wanted to know if I could do splits.  When I told them I could, they, of course, wanted to see.  So me, tipsy, not thinking, kicked off my shoes and slid straight down into a fully flat, square, left front split.  In pants.  Seriously, my crotch touched the floor.  I’ve NEVER accomplished that before.  Now mind you, this was with no warm up, and no prep stretching – just enough liquor to loosen me up.  And honestly, it was so easy, I probably could have done a slight oversplit on that side.  I wish I had a picture.  I was a little shocked I had gotten so far into the split once I was there.  And it was so comfortable – no pulling, no pain.  So of course I had to do it on the other side.  I did get flat and square with my right front split, but I could tell it wasn’t quite as effortless as the left – I definitely couldn’t have oversplit on that side.

Now, if only I could do that sober.  It’s a little disappointing that I can’t just drop into a split on a whim (though I imagine only people who have been flexibility training for years and years can do that), but at least now I know it’s definitely within my physical capability.  I’ve done it, on both sides, and now my goal is to do it again, sober.  I’ll get there – now I KNOW I can do it.  And this time I’ll get pictures.

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No pole, and no ‘poo

So this post really has nothing to do with pole, except for me to mention that I haven’t been doing it lately.  Ever since I started this new job, I haven’t had the time to do jack except work and homework for school.  But now that I’ve adjusted, I’m starting to realize I do have some free time, and I’m going to take advantage of it.  Also, I’m starting to work on my hamstring flexibility – my hammies are SO tight!

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Right,

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And Left.

This is my starting point – I’ll document further as I start to make progress.  I want to mention I couple of things about my flexibility training:

1) I am PNF stretching my hamstrings to help with my flexibility gains.
2) I’m also working on strengthening my quads (opposing muscle group to hamstrings)
3) I do not flexibility train every day, especially when PNF stretching.  Stretching, especially PNF stretching, causes micro-tears in the muscle being stretched. I have found that for me personally, I see better gains in flexibility if I let my muscles recover completely (two days of rest after flexy training) before doing another session of flexibility training.  This works out to about twice a week for me.  But I find if I try to stretch the next day or when my muscles are still sore, it just hurts, and my results aren’t as good.  You may be different – experiment.  But this is what works for me.

So on to the no ‘poo part – what the hell does that mean?  Well, I’ve stopped using shampoo and conditioner in my hair.

I know what you’re thinking – no, I haven’t stopped washing my hair.  I’ve just stopped using shampoo and conditioner.  I read about a natural method on Pinterest where you use baking soda on the scalp to cleanse the scalp and pores and absorb the excess oil, then use a vinegar solution to condition the length of your hair.  I’ve been doing this for two weeks, and only washed my hair a total of 3 times.  No, it does not turn into a grease slick between washes.  It actually feels great.  My hair is soft, there’s body coming into it that I didn’t know existed, and the biggest thing for me – I don’t shed nearly as much hair.

Usually when I get out of the shower, I’m pulling a mass of hair from drain that consists of probably about 50+ hairs.  And I shed when I brush and throughout the day.  Since starting this no ‘poo method, what I pull from the drain is about 10-15 strands, max.  I still shed a little when I brush and through the day when I run my fingers through my hair, but for me not to shed constantly is absolutely amazing.  In a couple months I’ll have all kinds of new growth coming in, and in a year my hair will be fuller.  This is a huge thing for me, as my hair is very fine, and I don’t have a whole lot of it.  Also, I color my hair, and this method hasn’t effected the color at all.  I do use a TINY amount of coconut oil on the length after it dries, but that’s it (though I think if I switch to Apple Cider Vinegar which is supposed to be more hydrating than the White Vinegar I’m currently using I will be able to skip the coconut oil altogether).  My hair is soft, shiny, and clean.  For days on end.  And the best part?  It is SO much cheaper than buying shampoo and conditioner, and is so much better for my hair – I can tell already!

And more, better, shinier hair means better, more impressive hair flicks on the pole, right?  If you’re curious about the no ‘poo method, check it out!

The original post where I learned about no ‘poo is: http://coderedhat.com/no-poo-method/  I like this site, as the author went into LOTS of detail on the method, offered two different ways to use the baking soda wash, and answered questions about hair feeling dry/oily/frizzy/cottony after using the no ‘poo method. (And she’s super nice!)
Also try this site: http://www.healthextremist.com/how-to-wash-your-hair-without-shampoo-no-poo-method/ Be sure to read the comments at the bottom of both pages! Lots of great information there.

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Rockin’ Legs N Abs

So I’ve had this DVD for about three weeks – unfortunately, due to adjusting to my new, crazy hectic schedule, I’ve only managed to actually follow through it twice.

It was like Christmas when this came in the mail.  I snatched the package out of my boyfriend’s hands when he said I’d gotten something from Australia, and jumped up and down grinning like an idiot while trying to tear the package open.

I had to stop bouncing around to manage it.  The return address on the envelope said merely ‘Cleo,’ hand written in black ballpoint pen.  Yes, it’s safe to say that Cleo the Hurricane has replaced Karol Helms as my #1 favorite pole idol.  I’m in danger of attaining rabid fangirl status.  It’s bad.

Rockin Legs N Abs DVDCoverSo I reverently pulled the shiny DVD case out of the package.  I admired the front, read the entire back cover, then opened it to see the DVD (same image as the cover) and the picture of Cleo and her back-up girls on the inside of the case.  So I popped the DVD in and settled down on the couch to watch it through.  There’s a lovely short clip of Cleo performing her signature Jade combo on the pole at the very beginning, before the menu comes up – pretty cool.  I hit the very convenient “Play All” button on the menu.  I watched it all the way through, and I’m glad I did.  She gives good cues on when to add things on and/or go into a different move, but gives very little to no instruction on how to perform the move.  There is some voice-over work, giving tips on what muscles you should be feeling, contracting, and how to keep your form correct that’s very helpful without being annoying or repetitive.  Also, you don’t have to have a pole to do the exercises in this video – just a yoga mat (or carpet) and a chair for balance during the high-kicks section.  While I do have a pole, and used it instead of a chair, it’s nice that she made the DVD in such a way that women who don’t have poles in their homes can use it as well.

But let me state this clearly – this is NOT a pole DVD.  This is an EXERCISE DVD.  Think “Buns of Steel” from the 80’s crossed with Glam Rock and modern set design, and you have this DVD.  This DVD is designed to make you stronger and more flexible to complement your pole work.

The next day, I worked through the entire DVD.  It is challenging!!! My glutes and thighs burned and ached  through the million and a half toe circles and screamed for me to stop, but it felt so good!  And my splits have never been as low as they were that day, though watching Cleo and the girls will make you feel about as flexible as a wooden board. The DVD was a little hard to follow the first time through, but I think as I do it more and more, I will learn the routine, the transitions will become easier, and it will be nice to be able to go through the routine without having to slow down and waste time sitting through lengthy explanations of moves and exercises. The whole DVD including the warm up and splits stretching at the end was only an hour, but I feel it really worked my legs in new ways. I enjoyed it a lot, and I feel like it’s something I’ll be able to come back to and do over and over without getting sick of it.

The funny thing is, I think I kept up with the flexibility part except for one thing – the lying hamstring stretch.  Cleo can lift her leg straight up and tuck her ankle next to her ear.  Mine looks like this at my maximum:

Fortunately for me, and for all of you, Cleo has started a Rockin’ Legs N Abs Facebook Group to talk about the DVD and ask her questions!  I asked her about this particular hamstring stretch, included in the DVD, and why I’m having issues, because I can do this:

And here’s what Cleo herself told me!
“You have a very flexible lower back it sounds like. The Pike stretch also incorporates your lower back as well as hamstrings. When you do 1 leg at a time (laying on your back) this is a different stretch and utilising mainly your hamstrings. As they are really tight strengthening your glutes will also help. Be very aware of using your glutes when doing every day activities like climbing stairs etc, also when you do the lunges in the DVD. Most people dominate with the hamstrings instead of firing up their glutes which is why i spend so much time reinforcing the reason why we need strong bums!  If you have a stretching strap (or even a towel) pull your leg down (with the other knee bent) until it’s about a 7 out of 10 in intensity (not shaking) then begin the PNF stretches like we do in the DVD. Push against the resistance of the strap/towel with your leg for 10 seconds, then relax and stretch a bit lower, hold for 10-20 seconds, repeat 3-4 times. this should help!

So now I know that my lower back has been compensating for my extremely tight hamstrings.  Damn.  It’s nice to have a bendy back, it’s helped me with things like the Allegra, Janeiro, and Closed Scorpio.  But honestly, I hate that lying leg stretch.  It doesn’t even start to pull, and yet my leg will start shaking in this pose.  But I will start working on it.  Now I know I need to strengthen my butt (maybe I will pull out that ‘Buns of Steel’ DVD, too) and start seriously working on that hamstring stretch.  New goal: to have awesome air splits.

Cleo also pushes building STRENGTH to increase flexibility, which more than anything shows me that she knows what she’s talking about!!  If you strength train the muscles you’re also flexibility training, the likelyhood of you overstretching and destabilizing the joint are exponentially reduced.

I really enjoyed this DVD, and I think it is completely worth the money I paid for it, and recommend it to anyone who’s working on their splits flexibility!  I like this DVD much better than the Alethea Austin and Felix Cane Flexibility DVDs.  Cleo was a ballet dancer growing up, but she knows how the muscles work and how to break the exercises down for people who don’t have any dance or gymnastics background, like me, as well as people who are not naturally flexible.  Even my friend Samantha, who openly admits she is NOT a fan of exercise DVDs of any kind, has found that she really likes this one.  So if you’re debating whether or not to get this DVD, BUY IT!

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