Dance, magic dance

I just spent the last half an hour or so watching highland dancing videos on Youtube.

You should probably do this too because, for lack of a more eloquent descriptor, THEY ARE AWESOME.

I love watching these videos because they totally jazz me up, and I remember the good old (olden) days when I too used to be a highland dancer.

No joke.

From the ages of five to twelve, I flinged, reeled, and jigged with the best of them.

And I loved it, truly.

In so many areas of my life, my passion for dance bled through: Instead of walking places, I just danced. Sitting at the computer, I would curl my feet up into tight points, always trying to strengthen my arches, and I would hum different bagpipe tunes under my breath while I wrote tests.

Highland

Sorry for the crap quality!

More than anything, I really wanted to be Canadian champion, and more than that I really, really wanted to get married in my National costume.

A little highland dance background:

National costumes are different from Highland costumes (Highland being the “traditional” outfits that will most likely spring to mind when you think about highland dancing.)

National outfits instead are much softer and, in traditional terms, much more “feminine.”

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This makes a lot of sense when you think about how the dances you complete in the Highland outfit are the Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Truibhas, and the Reel, whereas the dances associated with the National costume are the Blue Bonnets, Lilt, and Flora Macdonald.

Not exactly hard core stuff.

I highly doubt any Englishman felt a quake or two in his boots upon espying a bunch of bonny lasses, heel-toeing about to the Blue Bonnets Over the Border.

The Sword Dance on the other hand?

There’s no way in heck you’d want to mess with the crazies jumping about on top of multiple, sharp sabres.

Anywho, highland dancing was my total jam pretty much all through out elementary school. I even spent two weeks away from home after the summer of grade four at a dance camp in Red Deer, Alberta.

I stayed in the college dorms all by myself, ate at the school’s cafeteria (I had a punch card that let me know how much money I had left on my tab!) and signed up for different activities through my dorm mother and dance lead (the oldest girl in my training class.)

Every morning I would put my hair in a bun, put on my tights and leotard, and walk across the campus to class.

I don’t know if to this day I’ve ever felt as grown up, mature, and accomplished as I did at eleven during those two weeks.

The pièce de résistance was when a young piper asked me out the night that we went to the carnival. (What was this, Dawson’s Creek!?)

I mean, the guy couldn’t have been older than thirteen, but this basically exploded my on-the-cusp-pubescent mind.

A BOY LIKES ME AND IS ASKING ME OUT.

CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GUYS.

I didn’t think things could get any more epic until the last night of the camp: all the dancers participated in a big gala, and we all performed the group dances we had been practicing over the length of the camp.

(I loved my group’s dance SO much that I practiced it every day for the rest of the summer.)

At the end of the evening, they announced the dancer who had won the scholarship to return following year’s camp, free of charge. The winner would also receive free accommodation, food, and receive a small living allowance over the course of the camp.

And would you believe it?

They announced little old me as the winner!

I was so shocked I didn’t really know what to do, so I kind of just continued sitting there, smiling like the pint-sized loon that I was.

I remember two older girls sitting behind me said something like, “Way to go Vanessa! You totally deserve it!” They then kind of pulled me out of my chair and pushed me towards the stage.

It was such an unbelievably happy moment for me walking up there to receive my certificate. I had just spent two weeks doing something I loved more than anything in the world, with a new group of friends, in a setting where I felt incredibly grown up.

Over the years I have definitely enjoyed other similar moments – different iterations of that pure joy and incredulity – but this one was definitely my first.

And watching these amazing videos is a great reminder of the brilliance of that feeling.

I hope so much that you too have a similar memory.

And if you do, take a moment and just sit back.

And press play.

Looking back, but moving forward

Holy smokes.

In three days’ time it will be 2014.

How did that happen?

All’s I got to say is: WHERE ARE THE FLYING CARS YO.

(Am I right, or what?)

If my life isn’t like an episode of The Jetsons in the next year or two, I am going to be very, very disappointed.

Also I cannot really believe that it’s been fourteen years since we rang in the millennium and everyone ripped their heads clean of hair, worrying about whether or not they had enough canned food and water to outlast the Y2K apocalypse.

(Remember the insane fear mongering that just ran rampant on every news channel leading up to the ball drop that year? PLANES WERE GOING TO JUST BE FALLING OUT OF THE SKY AND ALL THE COMPUTERS WERE GOING TO BLOW UP BECAUSE NO ONE KNEW WHERE TO PUT THE EXTRA ZERO!)

Good grief.

Actually, I remember that New Years as if it was just yesterday.

What I wore: a delicate, pink slip of a dress, that cinched at my waist and fell just below my knees.

Who I celebrated with: My then best-friend Mira who was – and still is – an amazing violinist, my little sister, and her best friend Emily.

Where we were: The Hard Rock Café Vancouver’s all ages party. (We were fourteen and twelve years old, respectively.)

What we did: Ate dinner, drank fake-champagne, and danced will all the other kiddos who were too grown-up (in their minds) to spend another December 31st with their parents, but too young to actually party like those grown-ups with whom they refused to, well, party.

Mira and I bussed back to her parent’s house around 1am, and as we crammed in with many other revelers I remember thinking “THIS is what it feels like to be an adult!”

And heck, if taking public transit with a bunch of intoxicated weirdos a grown-up makes, that I definitely have achieved this title ten-fold over the years.

Achieved this in SPADES.

As we teeter on the cusp of 2014, let’s look back on the year that was blogger-style:

2013 – An Overview

In January Marc and I flew back from Halifax after spending nine days there over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

I wrote about a light hearted piece about my weird relationship with body hair and it became one of my most popular and stumbled upon blog posts.

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In February I performed at the Vancouver Comedy Festival, turned twenty-eight, and that mad man to whom I have pledged my troth and I entered the Amazing Race.

Come March, we ran away for a weekend and I wrote about learning how to drive.

In April this happened, and I won $500 in a comedy competition. Writing about Ray Bradbury saw my second foray into the world of Freshly Pressed, which was super awesome and totally unexpected. I came seventh in the Sunshine Coast Half-Marathon and talked about all the ways in which I have grown-up on the outside, but not on the inside.

May meant talking about all of the things that scare me (irrational and not) and writing some fiction about my days as a love-struck eighteen year old. We also covered politics, and all of the things I like to do by myself.

In June I quit my old job, and procured a new one (alias Dream Job). I ran the Scotiabank half-marathon and raised $1,135 for Big Sisters, celebrated five years of marriage to my one true love, and flew away to New York for my big sister’s wedding.

In July I talked about the importance of taking risks and wearing less make-up. Marc and I hike A LOT.

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August came and went in the blink of an eye. I hardly had time to write a blog post or three what with the two weddings I was in (bridesmaid x2 and MC x2), the other weddings I attended, the insanity of a new job, and doing all of the comedy (upwards of five shows per week!)

It was enough just trying to keep my head on straight.

In September I tried to get back in the grove of things, writing about great friends, and the importance of Terry Fox (as a Canadian, runner, and just, well, human being.)

October = BEST HALOWEEN OF LIFE.

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We also visited the place we got married one last time before the gardens closed forever.

Oh, and I made this.

In November I fell in love with Helen Mirren and kick some butt in the Fall Classic 10k. I also aired my beefs with Love Actually.

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December has brought so many things I haven’t even had the chance to write about, but I think this sums it up pretty darn well.

And to top it off, two photos that never stop making me smile and laugh:

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A million thank yous for sticking with me friends.

I so very much look forward to another year of blogging – you inspire me, make me laugh, and leave the best comments a gal could ask for.

Happiest of New Year’s to you all!