back to the grind


Coming back to the states means not only an end to my french adventure, but also the return to my schedule full of acupuncture and physical therapy appointments.  Ah, the life of a dancer.

This morning at acupuncture (which I attended all by myself for the first time ever! be proud!), I asked my doctor to put special needles in my ear to curb hunger cravings, telling him that I’m still trying to get back into shape and reminding him of the dishonorable amount of cheese I consumed in Paris.  He then sized me up, asked me my weight, laughed at me a little bit, but eventually agreed to give me the hunger-halting pressure points remarking, “To always be more slim…that’s the curse of the ballerina.”  This guy really knows what he’s talking about…

Later on at physical therapy, I received some rather painful, but quite necessary soft tissue massaging.  Oooh, these casual little soft tissue massages they give me.  You’ve never experienced as uncomfortable a massage as one of these; It’s like they are feeling around for the most painful inch of muscle in your body, and upon locating said twisted tissue, they pound it into the floor.  So, as the trainer dug her elbow farther into my left buttock, she politely suggested, “Just let me know if I need to back off a little, okay?” but she already knew my response.  Before I could get out the full, “It’s okay, I can take it”, she interrupted with a laugh and said, “Yeah, you’re a pro athlete, you love this kind of pain.”  Not only was it extremely refreshing and lovely to be referred to as a pro athlete by a trainer in a sports medicine facility, but she was also exactly right.  I do love that sore, almost-on-the-brink-of-tears, recovery and healing, grinding away at my tight muscles, type of pain.  So, healers and  feelers, keep that good pain coming!

alternative healing: herbs and more herbs…


As I head fearlessly into my second month of acupuncture treatments, I can’t help but wonder…what do my readers think?  With all of the medical options available today, it can be hard to keep them all straight.  This option treats a certain group of muscles, that option adjusts your bone structure routinely, another aims to rework the flow of energy through your entire body.  But what does it all mean?  Which option is the most effective for me?  This can be one of the toughest questions to answer, and one of the most frustrating obstacles facing an injured dancer.

One of the biggest differences between acupuncture and traditional Western medicine I’ve noticed (besides the extreme difference in needle size, quantity, placement and purpose), is the opposition of herbal supplements versus medical drugs.  I don’t know about you, but if there is an all-natural option promising to cure my ailments, I am alllll ovah dat.  But how hard are these herbs actually working in my body?  I mean, the often immediate relief you feel after taking some ibuprofen is undeniable.  Conversely, if you asked me how much my health has improved after taking a hearty dose of 14 different herb capsules 3 times a day (that’s 42 big capsules, peeps) I would be at a loss for words.  While I don’t have any real complaints about taking the herbs (swallowing a mass amount of capsules is actually a luxurious experience compared to my previous method of herbal ingestion in powder form- I will tell you right now, spooning large scoops of powdery dirt into a shot glass and chocking down the now-goopy mud-like substance then trying to erase the entire process from your memory 3 times a day is even harder than it sounds), I also don’t have a lot of great things to say about them.  The “sleepy-time” herbs do promote a nice restful sleep (so that’s 3 more capsules every night before bed, for anyone still keeping count), and I think my morning round up of herbs do kill the pain for a short while, but I always end up requiring some ibuprofen midway through the day.  Without much instant gratification (something our “progressive” society has taught me to crave) from the herbs, it’s hard to see the point in the whole process…

Soooo here’s what I want to know:  Have any of you ever tried acupuncture?  What was your experience?  Did you have a whole cocktail (kind of like a long island iced tea in this case) of herbal supplements to take?  What other forms of healing have you tried?  Did they work for you?

inspecting introspection retrospectively


Just thought I would check back in here to record the effects of today’s “be happy” plan.  This day has brought me many things, among them a new mantra: Good things come to those who smile.

Today was one of the best days I’ve had in a while.  Nothing monumental happened; there were many tough rehearsals and stinky pointe shoes and all that (ballet) jazz.  But something felt so different.  I was smiling, happy, energetic- three words that could not have been further from describing me yesterday.  This difference, I now realize, came from me.  It wasn’t some kind of huge spiritual awakening, or centering of my “qi” (though I am still working on it, ahem, take-home-needles-permanently-stuffed-into-my-hand/back/ear- I’m talking to you), no, it was much simpler than that.  All it took was a smile.  Today I decided to smile when my alarm went off too early, when I rushed to take all of my many new herb supplements (more perks of acupuncture, weeee), spilt hot tea on my hand, did my first plie of the day, put on the aforementioned stinky pointe shoes, got my bum kicked in rehearsal for Enroulment, did one too many pas de chats en pointe during fairy rehearsal- all of it.  I smiled all day, and you know what?  The day smiled back.

PS- If you’re in the New England area, come out to see how well my acupuncture/smiling tactics have been working in this weekend’s performance of Up Close On Hope!

*photo by A. Cemal Ekin, pictured are Ruth Whitney and Alan Alberto in Unexpected, from last weekend’s Up Close 

victory dance


Tomorrow will be my first day back in the studio after a week’s hiatus.  I know, I know- a week off from ballet to recover from an injury is really not all that major.  Many dancers are forced to take several weeks and even months away from the studio to heal their ballet-broken bodies, and they often do so with the poise of a graceful ballerina.  My experience, on the other hand, went a bit differently.  I spent most of my days glued to the couch in a dizzy, nauseous, drug-induced daze, refusing to eat anything but peach rings, blueberries and the occasional jelly bean.  I spent my nights flip-flopping between fighting off negative thoughts and succumbing to pathetic self-pity tears on my pillow.  I left my sunken spot on the sofa only to receive acupuncture treatments every other day, and was skeptical about even those outings.  But, pokey little needles, you’ve made a believer out of me!  While I’m not yet 100% better, I’ve had an amazing improvement.  My back pain is almost completely gone, and my overall well-being has skyrocketed.  My daily demeanor has shifted from stressed and slightly irritable to relaxed and happy.  My boyfriend even told me, “You seem so happy now, that is radiates.”  Success?  I think so.

Special thanks to my wonderful mom, who has stood by me through every single up and down, every peach ring feeding and acupuncture session, and everything in between.  And thank you for helping me take my pants off when I couldn’t do so myself.  Oh, and for putting them back on, too.  You’re the best.



An essential part of healing an injury is paying close attention to your body.  Being a dancer, not a day goes by where I don’t notice a new ache or pain pop up somewhere.  What’s important is knowing which twinges to ignore and which to coddle.  Honing this pain-filtering system is an essential part of succeeding as a professional dancer.  It’s not a skill that is acquired over night, but one that develops over time at its own pace.  The only way to cultivate it is to focus.  And try.

While I’m usually the type to overwork an injury, most often refusing to let my body take the necessary recovery time (or any recovery time at all, for that matter…hELLLOOoo Swan Lake on a sprained ankle), this back injury has completely turned the tables on me.  I’ve been away from the studio for a total of 4 days now, and boy am I missing it over there.  But this time I want to go back to ballet with the confidence of a person whose back is spasm-free.  I must say- after Day 2 of acupuncture, I am feeling the results.  I feel more mobile and relaxed.  My muscles are slowly letting their guards down, and while I can’t say I’ve miraculously healed, I am certainly better than I was yesterday.  And you know what?  That’s what this healing thing is all about.


the lame life

This has been my view for the past 48 hours:photo

Not the most glamourous thing, is it?

Well, sadly, sometimes this is the harsh reality for a ballet dancer.  In the dance world, injuries are frequent, painful and at times, all consuming.  Right now I’m experiencing some pretty intense back spasms, which have left me feeling a lot like an old tortoise: slow moving, weak-limbed, and permanently hunched over.

Being sidelined for these past few days has been difficult to say the least.  Physically, I’m in pain.  Emotionally, I am sad.  Mentally, I am searching for peace.  In an attempt to remedy these symtoms, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor, taking a whole line-up of prescription drugs, and receiving acupuncture treatments.

After one too many less than pleasurable experiences with the chiropractor and 2 days of feeling like I was tripping while riding a huge roller coaster with a stomach full of fried food (read: vicodin makes me woozy), I am beginning to think more and more about the possibility of restoring my health through acupuncture.  The difference between acupuncture and other forms of treatment is that acupuncture aims to restore the flow of qi in your body, rather than merely subduing the symptoms.  I know what you’re thinking, “Qi?  Huh?”, and honestly, at first I was just as skeptical.  But I’ve decided in order to really give this a shot, I must let go of my apprehension and trust this relaxing, albeit slightly strange, ancient practice.  Letting go of these doubts, I can already feel some pressure being lifted from my shoulders.

Have any of you ever tried acupuncture?  What did you think of it?


Last time I talked about injuries on this blog, all it took was a few days of rest and some strong pain killers and I was back in the game.  This time, things are a bit different.  I had my first MRI yesterday, and while the results all came back negative (yay good news!), my back pain still persists.  So this morning it’s off to the acupuncturist’s office with me!  Now, as someone who still puts up a huge stink about getting a flu shot (or really any procedure involving needles, it’s actually pretty embarrassing how worked up I can get over a simple blood test), I swore I would “never allow some dude to shove needles into me like some kind of sick man-made porcupine”.  A bit harsh perhaps.  But here I am, about to head to my very first porcupine session.  Slightly nervous?  You could say that.  Wish me luck!