Dance courage – winter

A lot of you voted in the poll I posted last week – What dance do you think I’m doing?  Thank you! So. As promised, here is a video of my dance experience so far. Recorded during lessons.

A big thank you goes to René Fuerstenfeld for hours of patience and encouragement just as you see him in these few minutes. He helps me feel true joy and humor in the attempt at step-by-step (pardon the pun!) progress.

OK. Here we go. What was I thinking? nabp_final-smile-1x1cm_02-web


Please vote: what dance am I doing?

I’m about ready to post a video from my actual dance lessons. That should make a few of you (who poked me about it after this initial video post) happier! But before I put myself in this rather vulnerable light, I’d like to know what dance style you think I’ve chosen. When I see as many “votes” on the poll below as I saw “clicks” on that last silly video – the results AND my real dance example will go up. Deal?nabp_final-smile-1x1cm_03web

Note: the poll is anonymous. So give it your best guess. When you click on a choice, a blue outline will appear around the bullet box. Then hit “Vote” at the bottom. And we shall see…

Do or dont; will or wont?

skatingSome of you noticed that I was on ski’s in my last post. Took a cross-country skating lesson with a friend from Zurich. If I had a “bucket list” (which I don’t actually), xc-skating would have been on it. I’ve been off and on with the classic type for decades.

After finally starting to get the rhythm via a two-hour lesson, I realized I’d have to practice a lot more to get the hang of it & just have fun. Now I have a dilemma: I’m already three hours a week in dance (1.5 x 2 days), plus an hour in Pilates and usually a short jog on the weekend. Still I thought I’d go again because, well it’s my gap year and I felt I hadn’t gotten to the bottom of it yet.

Then, last weekend it rained!

So honestly. Now I don’t know. I liked skating and dream of it’s rhythmic outdoor style. Yet the weather, with my schedule, reduces the chance of having enough time to learn the way I know it goes for me.

Last Thursday evening in dance class, I momentarily brimmed tears of frustration because I was so tired by then – from work and activity combined – that it was making it hard to focus. Frustrated because fatigue from a full-on, positive week obscured my joy in it.

Even with gap year permission, it’s hard to admit when I cannot do it all.

Why not?

Thank you to everyone who clicked the dance courage video (favorite colors duly noted!) and read about stone throwing. Both a lot of fun to discover. In fact, I regularly walk out of my gap year experiences with new energy. The unexpected connections and interactions are the best part.

Then, oddly, often a wave of melancholy follows. Why didn’t I do this sooner?!  Well. Why didn’t I do anything sooner? Too busy. Other priorities. Building a life. Something or someone more important. I’ve done my best to figure it out.

It was only when the mirror started to show me that  life will unmistakably move in that skin-getting-loose direction that I finally took the leap to “If not now, when?”

Four months in, I’m starting to simply ask “Why not now?”  Especially when I’ve felt it for years. Do I have a good adult answer? Or so many good excuses?

Or would I say it is somehow more the fear of me being me?


Get ready for the 2017 season

With dance underway, I wanted get going on my other gap year dream, which is to explore Swiss culture below the surface and discover it more fully, even after living here so long. Having mentioned this quest to a friend, one surprising connection led to another, such that I found myself driving on a cold, dark December night to the small village of Herznach. To a gym, where I met two successful athletes, Gian Waelchli and Simon Hunziker, who introduced me to their sport: Steinstossen.

I’d heard of it before, even seen a few pictures in the news.

Gian Waelchli
Simon Hunziker

But now exactly how does a clearly-athletic man come upon stone throwing as his sport of choice? Gian explained with a sly smile that he started Steinstossen – literally translated, stone pushing – when Simon recruited him. (Turns out Gian brought some “extra enthusiasm” to Simon’s youth training class, which Simon thought to channel elsewhere.)

And who introduced Simon to Steinstossen? His mother. (Really!?) She competed in the women’s league. Though it was not Mom who taught Simon his technique. That was his mentor Urs. Urs took Simon to his first competition; Simon took Gian eight years later. Both spontaneous “give it a try” kind of events in which the men actually came close to winning.

Gian and Simon train weekly with a Herznach team of four, including Roger Leimgruber (see gallery below) and Marco Leimgruber

So it goes in this oldest of Swiss athletic contests – handed personally from one generation to another. The new season will start in March. Until then, these men of Herznach will train together weekly, nearly daily, preparing to defend their titles.

Titles, they certainly hold. An August 2016 headline (click, German) read: favorite beaten by his own trainee. Gian won the 20 kilogram (kg) stone weight class during the huge, tri-annual Swiss Federal “Schwingfest” Tournament. Simon placed second.

Simon says that Gian, 20, is unusually strong for his youth. And Simon would know – now 34 and active for a decade, he’s three-times a Swiss Champion and an excellent ambassador for the sport (click, German).

The Swiss are well-recognized for inventing Steinstossen and tending to its original form – stone, not iron (as in Scotland, Germany or the distant Olympic cousin of shotput). The men see it as an important example of “Swissness” – the cross region, well-trained sport played as originated in the rural areas, that lives on and lately gains in popularity.

I sensed a Steinstossen character. What motivates Gian, he says is “the challenge, when you see you might win and then wanting to win. Also great when fans come to watch.” Yet the best part “is the group of four men training together and how athletes from the different regions know each other, still go out for a drink after they compete.”

In fact, Steinstossen might illustrate exactly what roots are about: tradition and technique handed from mentor to new player. A healthy athletic striving. Competition yet fraternity. The sense of pride, understated drive, and genuine heart seen in their eyes.

Sport that makes one’s life better. That’s strength from the feet on the floor up, if you ask me.

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I want to learn more. There will be a tournament or two on my 2017 gap year schedule. I’ll keep you posted.