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Hello lovelies! So my most recent dance competition as most of you know was in the BEAUTIFUL San Juan, Puerto Rico (check out my other blog post “Discoveries in San Juan, Puerto Rico” for travel tips, foodie finds, and more!). The Caribbean Dancesport Classic was held at the Ritz Carlton hotel this year. which was an awesome choice of venue for the competition. Getting to dance in paradise is kind of the best thing EVER. From the time we arrived, I had a little more than a day to explore the hotel, beach, and Old San Juan. It was nice to some time to get acquainted with the island and explore some before going into competition mode completely.

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By about noon on the day of the competition (I competed at 10 that night) the nerves started flaring up. If you know me at all you know that this makes things quite difficult for me. My stomach gets SUPER upset when my nerves go crazy and usually I’m sick up until after the competition is over. This is quite ridiculous and it’s something I’m constantly trying to work on.

There was a nice room with mirrors and yoga mats in the gym, so I went down to do some yoga in hopes of easing my nerves. And guess what, it actually worked (for a little while anyway)! I had never led my own yoga practice before, but from doing so many yoga videos from BeachBody On Demand lately (email me for deets), I felt like I could put together my own Flow easily. I put on Yoga Radio from Pandora and really tried to clear all things from my mind as I focused on deep breathing and calming thoughts. For me, if I start thinking too much about the competition and what I need to do HOURS before I compete, it just makes me more nervous and I psyche myself out. By doing 30 minutes of a simple Flow, I was almost completely calmed.

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My coach called me to practice soon after this, and I felt super pumped and ready to go. We had a GREAT practice so I was feeling really confident about the competition. I struggle a lot with staying on balance and over my feet, but I felt COMPLETELY solid and STRONG. I felt much more prepared than I had for any previous competition. My coach could feel the difference too, so we were pretty excited about that night.

When I go into hair and makeup, that’s when the nerves start coming back out; it’s almost show-time. After the gorgeous Anna Demidova did a fantastic job on my hair and makeup, I headed back up to the room for one last yoga Flow. By this time my nerves were out of control and I HAD to do something. It helped somewhat, but not as much as I would have hoped.

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At this competition and others prior, I thought that going into the ballroom too early would psyche myself out (always doing that, I know) so practicing out in the lobby or giving myself a pep talk away from the competition was what I always did. I now know that many champions like to be in ballroom at least 1 hour before competing in order to feel comfortable and acclimated with the space (I will be writing a post about this in the upcoming weeks). For some reason this night my nerves were just not going to agree with me. Standing in the lineup I gave myself one more “You got this” speech and then stepped onto the floor.

What happened on the floor is out of my control now, and it’s in the past. Do I feel like I have improved since my last competition?? OF COURSE. But do I think I could have done much better, and didn’t get to show what I’m capable of?? ABSOLUTELY. Sometimes that happens. The hard part for me is moving past the disappointment quickly and forgiving myself. Why is it that we hold grudges against ourselves? I should have been proud of the improvement I made from the last competition but instead I chose to see all the negative things.

I tell myself this after every competition, and it becomes more and more relevant. WORK HARDER. You don’t have control over the past, only the future. Learn from your past mistakes and continue to improve every single day. Figure out what’s working, what’s not, and then move forward with new insight and motivation.

I had a blast at the competition, and I’m so excited to continue forward in my dance journey. Yes, it was hard. No, I didn’t get the outcome I wanted. SO WHAT. MOVE ON. CONTINUE TO IMPROVE (all words of wisdom I keep telling myself). What is it going to take to get better and reach my dreams? I’m no longer going to sit around and wait for things to happen, I’m going to make them happen. So I’ve taken a new path on this dance journey and I can’t wait to see where it leads me. I’m so, so excited for my future. Sometimes we all need that wake-up call to make us realize that “Hey, you can do this.” This means taking risks, being vulnerable, and working your BUTT OFF, but you WILL get there.

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Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, whatever your passions and dreams are, don’t get in your own way. Take what you’ve learned from the past and use it to set yourself goals for the future, then devise a CLEAR plan of how you will get there. “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”-Antoine de Saint Exupery

Now go kill it gorgeous.

Ashlyn Tori <3

PS: Special thanks to my ladies for coming to watch and cheer me on. Support is HUGE and I’m so grateful <3