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Where Stuff’s At …

Wow, I love the memory of being such an active blogger.

Unfortunately my health has continued to decline and writing has become very difficult for me. I’m learning the speak to text strategy but it’s not the same. I seem to think while I’m typing, so trying to think while speaking feels much more like being put on the spot.

Anyway, I’ve also been extremely unwell over the warmer months, with my health just seeming to get worse and worse. So I just haven’t had the energy to write OR speak a post during this difficult time.

I hate to sound soppy and self-pitying, but I’m not sure this post can come across as anything but?

I really got a bit sad that I wasn’t getting any of my thoughts out there or discussing things with the interesting people I know follow this blog. And I wanted to firstly, start my blogging back up again, and secondly, fill you all in with where I’m at.

So … let the soppy begin …

As I said above, my health has deteriorated. But to be clear, it has deteriorated intensely.

I now have paramedics out every few days, sometimes every second day. I do this when I am extremely syncopal (passing out) and need IV fluids to fill my blood volume again, to prevent the syncopes.

I’ve also had a lot of hospital trips when the paramedics couldn’t stabilise me at home.

And there’s been the occasional admission to hospital for migraines and severe pressure headaches that are un manageable with my medications and also go on for several days.

At the same time, we’ve had a billion other things we’ve been trying to tend to.

One of the things we’ve done that has proven pretty fruitful, is to keep researching the conditions I have. We realised that one of the conditions I have, that has to do with mast cells, is linked, or mirrors (if that makes more sense) someone who is allergic to a huge amount of stuff and whose allergic threshold lowers to the point that they begin having allergic reactions to things they have never reacted to before. So this particular allergic threshold spirals further and further down, creating more and more restrictions in foods, household items like soaps etc., medicines or medical equipment (like the tape they use on cannulas etc.) and environmental factors such as pollens, chemicals, grasses, trees, weeds — all of which I am surrounded by.

From the outside, it basically looks like my body is shutting down on itself.

No. Not a very nice thing for the witnesses to watch or me to be experiencing.

But at least we figured out, through a variety of methods, that a better climate, where the environmental allergens are much less impactful on my body, is what I need — quite urgently.

Every doctor that we speak to urges us to move to a high, dry and cold environment — every. single. doctor.

I have to admit, that was a bit of a shock at first, but the more we researched and talked with doctors and the more we looked back on my life and remembered the times I have been very sick while living in an environment full of things I was allergic or sensitive to, and then we moved to a better environment for me and my health improved dramatically — the more everything began to make more sense.

When you’re trying to explain it to people for the first time it’s really difficult, so hopefully I haven’t just confused the crap out of y’all. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‚

But now that that’s done, I feel like it might be easier to just get on with blogging or vlogging without quite so much confusion around why my body is as unwell as it is.

I have had so many posts I’ve wanted to write or videos I’ve wanted to record, about things like the silver linings to being so disablingly unwell, our amazing paramedics, watching how families can bond tighter in these situations as well as all my ballet stuff … which, to be honest, isn’t very much but it’s still my favourite passion and I still want to talk about it.

I’m proud of myself for continuing my exercise regime and my ballet-physio every day (most days.) Even though I only do a tiny amount now, I am holding hope in my heart and determination in my mind, that one day I will be able to do so much more.

Boy, do I have plans, for when I get my health back.

Anyway, we have started a fundraiser for us to hopefully be able to afford to buy a caravan and then we’ll just move into the caravan, in the better environment that we know my body responds well to.

So the fundraiser is at the link: Zoe’s Fundraiser

If you feel you’re in a position to donate to our fundraiser then that’s fantastic. If you can’t donate, you can help just by sharing the fundraising page.

Alternatively you can also like our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/helpzoegetherlifeback and share the page or posts you like.

Ok. That’s it for now, guys. If you read to the bottom, thank you. You’re a gem. If you didn’t, I just hope you read enough to understand where I’m at, because I won’t be explaining it over and over again.

Much love to you all. I hope you have a wonderful day/night/moment today.

Love,

Zoe xxx

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Dear Dream Seekers

Dear Dream Seekers,

You are wonderful. You are inspiration. You are life being lived.

I love seeing so many adult ballerinas emerging currently. Particularly on Instagram, it’s like watching these beautiful buds of hidden desires start opening their dare-to-dream petals and blossom into the most beautiful, soulful dancers.

Something I have noticed is that there seems to be an ever persistent pressure flowing from within many of the adult ballet students I see.

Inner pressure to be good at something we love is not a new thing. It is natural to want to progress.

And I am no stranger to that inner pressure. I felt it. I breathed it in and out, day and night. And it happily went and killed my love of ballet (for a while.)

And so I feel a little sad when I see people putting huge amounts of pressure on themselves to be better at something they love.

I mean, if you love it, then you should be doing it for love.

Let’s repeat that: If you love it, you should be doing it for love.

I know that you want progress. And I know that the ballet studio is a pretty intense place regarding your progress — indeed, it can sometimes feel like a comparison festival is happening in each class.

Everything you want is a valid desire. Improvement, enjoyment, strength, musicality, memories, flexibilities. It’s up to you what you want to aim for. It’s your life. Your choice. No-one else can, or has the right to, choose them for you.

But please be sure to think about it first. Think about you and what you really want because of how those things make YOU feel.

Don’t look at what someone else is doing and just follow along. God knows, you might wake up ten years from now able to do the splits but not able to dance in the centre. You might then shake your fists in the air and scream at yourself for following the splits trend only because it was what others were doing — and you missed getting your teacher to help you learn some amazing mini-solo piece that feels like heaven to dance.

Don’t set yourself up to one day wreak of regret.

So, with that in mind, what I do hope you do is sit with yourself a while. Ask yourself what you feel in this moment you want to do — like actually do right now — because you never know what amazing idea might have been waiting to flow through you but just hasn’t had the window opened to it before.

Then, ask yourself what you think you might regret NOT doing in twenty years time. I usually get my deepest inspirations flowing from this one.

Then lovingly think about all the things you, your body and mind, are good at doing. Really appreciate those things. If ballet is your thing, maybe you’re really musical and your body just naturally flows with the music, maybe you have lovely hand expressions, maybe you have a sparkly passion, maybe you have strong muscles, maybe you can smile during class (harder for some than others!), maybe you understand combinations, maybe you are flexible, or have lovely feet, or maybe you feel your soul fill up during ballet class.

These are all wonderful elements of what you do and of how you feel. I feel it’s important to fully embrace them. Soak yourself in the things about you and your passion, that you love.

When thinking about what goals to set yourself, or what path to set off on, I think it’s really important to take stock first, of all the wonderful parts of yourself that already exist within your passion.

I would look at what you love doing now, look at what you would regret not doing, and set your path accordingly.

If achieving the splits for ballet is part of that path then set your goals and go for it. If it’s smiling more during class, or learning a combination, or performing — then set your goals and go for them.

But be sure to start your intentional path with the full acceptance of how incredible you already are.

Be sure that you don’t discount all of your gloriousness and just focus on what you cannot yet do. If you do that you will be starting your journey with a destructive cycle of focusing on your downfalls. You should be real about yourself. But leave the negativity at the door. If negative self-worth is already an issue for you then I would suggest adding that to your goals — “Learn to love myself for all that I am.” That, and if neccesary, see a therapist, because honestly, that bullshit will become a serious obstacle to you fully realising your dreams.

So, in summary…

1) Align your goals with what YOU enjoy doing and what you feel you will regret not doing.

2) Make sure to begin your path to your goals/dreams/passions swimming in self-appreciation for all the wonder you already are.

Always remember why you’re doing it.

Always respect yourself for doing it.

Always hold your head high.

Remember,

You deserve to be in the room.

Zoe xxx

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This Time Around

This time round on my ballet journey, I have the power of knowledge alongside me. I am aware of my body’s strengths and weaknesses.

It’s funny because, although this time round I have many many more challenges, I am choosing to see those challenges as opportunities to do things the right way for me, and therefor achieve more of my dreams and goals.

Last time, I had hopes and dreams but was continuously failing. I was continuously feeling my body crumble when it didn’t seem like it should.

I was being told my body was perfect for ballet and “should” be able to make all these perfect ballet shapes if I tried hard enough.

I also had a strange fear of movement. I began to get over that fear while I was at the barre — in fact, Iearned to adore the feeling of movement at the barre, and I even started feeling a little more confident with some pirouettes.

But move me away from the barre and I completely froze up.

I remember during my first private class my teacher tried to teach me a very simply pasΒ deΒ bourree with a simple relaxed pirouette on the end.

But it was the strangest thing. It felt like I was learning to walk again. Like everything was foreign to me. Like I didn’t even know my left from my right. Like I didn’t even know my own name anymore.

I used to walk away from centre time feeling so deflated. I didn’t understand why my body felt so weak in the centre and I didn’t feel like it would ever end.

(I do have to add that my in-class teachers were wonderful. They would always say, ‘Just give it a try!’ They could see I was really struggling and didn’t make me feel worse for it. And I am incredibly grateful for that!)

Now, after having experienced such a massive physical breakdown, and doctors finally being forced to pay attention — and that attention leading to the right diagnoses’ and now treatment, has meant that I actually know now why my body was not ‘failing’ but struggling with certain elements and why I felt so awkward doing centre work. Yes, there are actual physiological reasons for it!

So many things make sense to me now.

I remember during my hardest days a few months ago, I would lie there, unable to speak properly, unable to stand up, unable to wash myself,Β pain searing through my body, and I would try to think of the good things in my life. I found them in my children and my hopes for better times some day. But it was bloody hard to find them. Some days I was too consumed by my suffering to find them and I just wished for the day to end.Β 

But I never thought I would one day look back at that time and see it as a vital part of my future success.

And that is what it is. (I am not ignorantly suggesting that this is how it is for all chronic illness sufferers. We all have our own journeys.)

There will be many ups and downs ahead. And my daily grind is still a pretty heavy grind.

But now I am armed with knowledge and am moving forward in an achievable way, giving my body all the support and understanding it needs, to get me where I want to go.

And understanding makes ALL the difference. I’m no longer confused. I no longer feel like a failure. I feel more confident that I can achieve my dreams than I have ever felt before — because I have adjusted my dreams and the ways I intend on achieving them.

I may have health issues that are making me see things in this new light, but I think it’s relatable to everyone who may start to feel that pressured feeling about what they’re trying to achieve.

I suggest we all stop comparing ourselves to others and start learning about our own bodies, how we work and don’t work and start working WITH ourselves rather than against ourselves. As that is how I see the greatest growth happening.

Zoe xxx

P.S remember, if you like it… share it! πŸ™‚

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BB Goes to Sydney – Day Three, a Bloch Store and a Pointe Shoe!

Day Three: Plans change, what can you do?

Today was always going to be hectic. We were supposed to be fitting in a trip to York St Bloch store, picking up hubby’s new 1960’s espresso machine (he’s a barista), going around to another shop to get some extra parts for said machine and visiting some gorgeous family members who we haven’t seen in way too long.

After driving the bus through city traffic yesterday, we kind of started thinking that a trip to the York St Bloch store was a pretty big ask. We would be very lucky to get a park, most likely hubby would have to drop me and drive around until I was ready to be picked up, which wasn’t going to be a relaxed experience. Then we also had some time issues and realised that we couldn’t do that store today as it was too out of the way. If I wanted to go to that store we would need to go there tomorrow, right before my private ballet lesson. And the thought of buying things for my lesson, that last minute, started stressing me out.

We found out there was another store, at Macarthur Square, and decided that we would squeeze a visit in there today instead of the York St store.

So we went off and bought hubby’s espresso machine, which is absolutely stunning. Saw an old friend at the same time as that. Then we went to get spare parts for the machine and then headed out to the Bloch store.

I have to say that I found it harder than I thought I would to let go of going to the York St store. I felt uneasy the entire trip to Bloch’s. It wasn’t what I had planned. I wasn’t sure they would stock what I needed. I felt rushed as we were hurrying to get to our catch up with family. And you know, it wasn’t York Street!

The closer we got to the store the worse I felt. Nauseous, headache, flushed. I started feeling nervous. Really nervous. When we were almost at the store I started to recognise where the feelings were coming from. I realised that I felt embarrassed. I didn’t feel deserving of spending this money on ballet gear. I felt silly. Like I was just some woman from the bush, who didn’t take many proper classes — what did I really need this gear for?

I realised at the same time that I was feeling similarly about my private class tomorrow. Like it’s a silly quest that I’m not really deserving of trying for.

I’m so glad I had these awarenesses. I was able to think more clearly about my internal dialogue and slow it all down in my head. I was able to calm things enough that I could reclaim the big picture and what’s important to me and why. I reminded myself of why I love ballet, how it has helped me, and then I started to feel better about everything. I was still nervous, but I was no longer being reactive.

So, I got to the Bloch store. There was a lovely assistant there called Elli (sorry, can’t remember the correct spelling), and they had everything that I wanted. I bought tights, ballet flats, a leotard and some bike shorts. I wanted the bike shorts to cover my hernia scars on my bikini line, and I think they look really cute! πŸ˜€

I have to say, the leather ballet flats are GORGEOUS on my feet. Amazingly soft, snug, and just divine to wear. I wanted both the canvas and the leather, but I ended up going with the leather and taking the name and size of both shoes so that I could buy them online in the future. Turns out I’m a Bloch 5.5 and yes, I am still a width “A”.

I will have a photo taken tomorrow of some of the gear if any of you say you would like to see it.

So, it was all okay in the end. But I am still feeling a little disappointed that we didn’t get into the York St Bloch store. Maybe next time? And I have learned the lesson that I need to bring myself back into me, and be less reactive to things around me (and inside my head!)

After all this we got out to see our family and have a lovely afternoon tea with them. I got to hold the newest member of our family and share hugs and catch-ups with some beautiful people. It was a great way to end the day.

I didn’t get a lot of photos today, apart from some Bloch related ones, so that is all I have. Enjoy!

Inside the Bloch store at Macarthur Square…

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Me with my goodies bag…

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And a little pointe shoe key ring that hubby bought me after I had left the store…

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How cute is that pointe shoe keyring!?!

Must go to sleep now. Important stuff happening tomorrow! πŸ˜€

BB

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Bush Ballerina Goes to Sydney!

Well, it looks like my end of 2013 blessings are continuing into 2014, as just one week into the new year, I’m heading to Sydney!

I’m actually piggy-backing onto the back of my husband’s trip to Sydney for business, which was meant to be later in January but was brought forward — and is why it is so sudden.

I had hoped to catch a ballet class at Studio Tibor while I was in Sydney later in January, but now that we are going to be there earlier, and regular classes won’t be back on then, I’m in a bit of a Tibor-ballet-class-pickle. Tibor’s wonderful assistant has been in touch with me and I can say that there is a small chance I may get a private class with Tibor. But I’m just not getting my hopes too high for this. Everyone is time pressured and I don’t want to be a hassle to anyone.

So the ballet class is a maybe. BUT going to a real-life Bloch store is a definite!

Yep, while I’m in Sydney I will be going to the York St Bloch store. It is the largest store in Australia and is always fully stocked in their whole range! How do I know this? Because I asked them. Yes, yes I did. Like a true ballet geek, and after suffering from multiple online shopping dramas with Bloch, I emailed them to check that this was the right store to go to — that they would more than likely have the shoes I’m looking for, that fit me correctly. I couldn’t think of anything worse than getting all that way and then not being able to purchase the gear I need.

I received a lovely email back from the manager, confirming that they are always fully stocked. Wahoo! She also asked, in the email, if I was wanting to be fitted for pointe shoes, because they would arrange for a professional fitter to be available for me if I was. Ahh, while I read this, I felt my heart swell with blissful desire. How amazing would that be? I wanted to scream “Yes, yes! Let’s fit me for pointe shoes!!!” Hahaha. Luckily reality was right by my side in that moment, and helped me to come crashing back down to earth. BUT a thought that remains with me is that this might some day, maybe, sorta, kinda, somehow … be a question that I can answer with a big fat “Yes!”

The night before I read that email, I had a dream that I was dancing en pointe. I seem to be having more en pointe dreams. And in each one I get more comfortable in the pointe shoes. This most recent one felt beautiful. I’m sure those dreams are more about me feeling more comfortable in my ballet skin, but still, it’s nice to see my mind opening up to pointe possibilities.

So, next week I will be going here…

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I look forward to keeping the blog updated with our trip happenings as we go.

BB

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Me and The Nutcracker Ballet

Some will remember a while back I wrote about my plan to get to the Queensland Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the end of the year and my plans to get to the Brisbane Bloch store at the same time.

I was going to get to see my first ever live ballet AND buy a pair of ballet shoes that actually fit, on the same day. It was going to be awesome. It was going to be my end of year treat. It was going to be an insanely amazing experience.

We didn’t get to buy tickets before the show sold out, so we were relying on last minute ticket sales, but I wasn’t too worried because I was told by QLD Ballet that tickets would keep coming up, and they did.

Unfortunately most times the tickets came up, I either wasn’t home to access the internet and purchase them (or able to call and purchase) or I was sick and not online at the time.

I wouldn’t mind any of this too much. I mean, I am devastated that my perfect end to the year isn’t going to happen, but that’s okay. That is seriously a first world problem.

But something I do mind, something that I am very peeved about is that twice during this period of frenzied online ticket purchase, I have lost tickets because of our slow rural internet connection. I mean that I have jumped online, seen the available last minute tickets, chosen the time, selected the seats, had said tickets in my QPAC website shopping cart and been trying to get through the checkout, but failed to do so within the allocated timeframe because of our slow rural internet connection — and lost the tickets.

The second time this happened was today. There are only a few days left of the performance and I thought for sure there would be no more tickets becoming available, but I checked anyway — and there were tickets! AMAZING! There were only two tickets, which wasn’t ideal as I wanted my hubby and girls to come with me, but I was desperate by this stage. I was just going to buy the tickets and then deal with logistics later. Turns out, this wasn’t going to be an issue, as I lost the tickets in my cart, again, due to our internet not loading fast enough through the checkout. Can you believe that? Argh!

I’m very disappointed. It feels unfair — yes, I can hear the tiny violin playing too πŸ˜‰

In any case, this trip won’t be happening. I’m sure we’ll get there next year. And I’m sure it will be an insanely amazing experience when we do.

I do want to thank QLD Ballet for helping to clarify the whole last minute tickets thing for me. And company dancer in The Nutcracker, Teri Crilly, for notifying me, via twitter, on some occasions when tickets became available. That was amazingly generous. (Not that they read this blog, but you know, putting it out there anyway.)

I look forward to getting up to see a QLD Ballet performance, and hopefully something Teri is in, too. And I will be sure to tell everyone ALL about it when it happens!

For now, as long as my end of year treat is with my family, all is well. πŸ™‚

BB

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So, a Girl Walks Into a Bloch Shop…

But unfortunately that girl wasn’t me. Oh how I wish it was. I would do a fair amount of crazy for a proper ballet flat fitting right now as my online order was not exactly satisfying. I’m not expecting the perfect fit. But I would like the best fit possible.

So I bought a pair of Bloch Pro Elastic ballet flats online. Had to be online as I have no access to a store. I liked the idea of no drawstring as it seemed like less hassle and less pain on my sensitive skin. And I liked the contoured look that they speak of in the advertisement for them (and the photo.)

I ordered to the size recommended on the Bloch sizing chart. And I wasn’t sure about width as my feet are very narrow, so I emailed Bloch and asked if width “A” would suit a very narrow foot. I was told that almost nobody fits a size “A”. Only those with really, really narrow feet. I must admit that I found that pretty useless information. Perhaps a width measurement would have been more helpful? I ordered an “A” width anyway.

Shipping was prompt. My flats arrived quickly, despite us only receiving mail three days a week out here. I was an excited gal and enthusiastically ripped open my parcel.

Unfortunately the first thing that was noticeable was that I have “really, really, really narrow feet”. Uh oh. It turns out that basically these shoes are not a great fit for my feet. My toes swim around in them, so when I move my foot across the floor the front part of the shoe bunches up and drags across the floor (because it’s not tight on my foot) which I just find distracting and uncomfortable.

I also found the elastic where the drawstring would be normally, was too tight!

What I like about them:

– The sole. BEAUTIFUL! Soft and supportive to work on. Very comfy.

– The canvas, also very comfy. Not at all stiff.

– The lack of drawstring.

– The doovy-lacky technology that makes the sole of the shoe form to your sole when you point your foot is lovely. Really felt snug and comfortable on my under arch (is “under arch” even a term? lol)

Being a ballet desperado, rather than send them back I just took to them with scissors and needle and thread. I cut and re-sewed the back seam to basically make them smaller in length. And I cut the back of the elastic drawstring to let that out a little.

They were comfortable enough to replace my old cheap-and-nasties and convince me that I can never again wear old cheap-and-nasties. I can definitely feel the actual support they have in them.

So essentially I really like these shoes, for someone else’s shaped foot.

I have now ordered a pair of Bloch canvas pump flats, in a size smaller. Still in “A” width. Will see about the drawstring.

I’m very open to hearing of different brands that others use? Or if someone knows of a particularly good flat for someone with narrow toes? Would love to hear about them as I really want to be as comfortable as I can while dancing.

Okay, okay, so here are some photos in case anyone is wondering what these shoes look like or if they are thinking of buying some. I quite like the look of them. My foot shape just doesn’t fit them really well.

Here are the photos of these shoes on my feet:

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This is the photo of these shoes on the Bloch website:

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