ballroom dance

With two nights in Southampton, prior to boarding the MS Queen Elizabeth, I wondered if there was anywhere to go dancing on the Saturday night before embarkation. A little bit of detective work (thank you Google), led me to a website listing dances in various areas in the UK. By sheer luck, on that Saturday night  there was a dance party in Eastleigh, about a 20 minute cab ride away from our Southampton hotel.

A friend sent me a coffee mug. The logo said “Why do you think your 5 minutes on Google trumps my 5 years of medical school” . I laughed and mentally added "and my 6 years of postgraduate training, my research doctorate and my 25 years of practice?”  But then I reflected on how generally the internet has contributed to a decline in the valuing of specialty training, academic knowledge and professional expertise. It’s not just medicine or science but in every trade or professional arena. 

“Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” (Thomas Jefferson 1743 -1826)

Within the last three months, three of my friends have had falls, resulting in fractures. One with depth perception issues, tripped over a step and fractured several ribs. The second slipped on a pool deck and had a fractured wrist. The third, a fit, active younger person, tripped over an unseen hazard, spraining one wrist and fracturing a carpal bone in the other.

“Genes are merely the blueprint, epigenetics is the contractor." (Bruce Lipton 1944 - )

Epigenetics is a word we are hearing a lot about these days. Epigenetics refers to changes of gene expression that are not due to changes in the DNA sequence of the gene. 

Way back when I was  first taught  about genetics in school, the focus was on Mendelian genetics, and autosomal dominant and recessive genes.

"We should consider every day lost in which we have not danced at least once” (Friederich Nietzsche 1844-1900)

I took up ballroom dancing in my sixties, after I retired. In my blue print for a rewarding and fulfilling retirement, three activities topped my list; growing my website (reviewfromthehouse.com), studying ballroom dance and ticking off destinations on my travel bucket list. Becoming a network entrepreneur, as I did 10 years later, was not even remotely on my mind at that time.

“The key to every man is his thought. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

If you think back to your childhood, you may realize how easy it is for a child to become labelled, slotted into a category, which often becomes self-fulfilling. This child is athletic and strong. This one is a dreamer. This one is creative and artistic. This child is shy, this one outgoing.  This one is smart, this one not so much. Looking back, I think I labelled myself very early as being more cerebral than physical.

“Aging is not “lost youth” but a new stage of opportunity and strength" (Betty Friedan 1921 - 2006)

When was  the moment when you realized that you no longer felt young and invincible? Was it turning 60 or 65? Suddenly overnight you are a “senior”.  You get lower priced tickets at the cinema, cheaper fares on transit but those television commercials about drugs for arthritis, high blood pressure, dementia ... you realize that they are directed at you.

After a couple of weeks of working out to dance music in my gym, and a planned dance lesson that had to be canceled because of the downtown crowds for Game 7, I finally walked back into the ballroom for a dance lesson. This is the first time I have been back since October 3rd, two days before my stenosed spine decided to finally compress my sciatic nerve so severely that I felt like I was one of the baddies in an episode of 24 with high voltage shocks going down my right leg. So its been 8 and a half months with no dancing - almost as bad as physical torture for an addict like me.

For more pictures click the "read more" link. If there is not a picture of you in this collection that means  I did not get a good one to post.  If you have a great picture of yourself or anyone else to post here please email it to me and I will add it to the collage.

We are nearing the end of this 16 night cruise from Beijing to Bangkok. Singapore is the last stop before we disembark in Bangkok.  I spent a week in Singapore in September 2005 when the International Association for Pediatric Laboratory Medicine had its triennial meeting there. Although much of the time was spent at the conference - really,  we did get to tour a bit. I visited the Botanical gardens, and a group of us made the mandatory trek to Raffles Hotel to sit in the bar and drink a Singapore Sling. Actually I sipped someone else's Singaproe Sling just to taste it and then had white wine instead.

Our South Pacific Cruise is rapidly coming to an end  and this is the part that most of us had been waiting for; visiting the beautiful islands of French Polynesia that sit like exquisite jewels in the warm blue and green waters of the Pacific Ocean.

We departed from Hilo shortly after 4:30 pm on Thursday afternoon  and set course in a southerly direction across the Pacific Ocean towards Christmas Island. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of all the oceans and covers two-thirds of the earth's surface. Compared to the distance between our various ports in Hawaii, an average of 100 nautical miles apart, the distance to Christmas Island from Hilo is 1088  nautical miles so it was no wonder that when we awoke early as usual and went up on deck, there was only the ocean to see all around us.

The opportunity to join Wendy and the Dancers at Sea on a South Pacific Cruise from Honolulu to Tahiti came up unexpectedly while I was on the Labor Weekend Getaway Dance Cruise. A test of my developing capacity for spontaneity - something I have really been working hard to achieve - I needed to decide on the spot whether to take up an unexpected vacancy that had arisen - the only problem  was that the cruise was scheduled to start a mere two weeks after I returned to Vancouver from New York (New York, New York 2009).

New York, NY:  As a reviewer, I think it important that my readers know the biases and foibles that influence my writing.  So before I write another word about the show itself,  I have two confessions to make.

Well I have heard of terms like anti-matter and anti-gravity but I confess that I had not heard of anti-shoes until I walked into a store looking for sandals to replace the ones that kept giving me blisters.   Ballroom dancing is really hard on my feet, especially since I mostly wear quite high heels, so I am always interested in finding out more about different brands.  Julie, my massage therapist - who looks like an angel but finds every pain spot like a devil - suggested that my biomechanical problems - tight IT bands and tight every other muscle, would be better served if I got good flat shoes for walking. I was on a search for  SAS sandals and thanks to my computer, found a store on Granville Stret, downtown, that carries them.

This is the index of postings to my Travelblogue that documents my ballroom dancing-focused West Coast cruise in the Sapphire Princess from Los Angeles, California to Vancouver, British Columbia. I traveled with a group of ballroom dance enthusiasts led by Wendy from Dancers at Sea. With three hours of dancing every night,a dance workshop, excellent food on board and excursions to wine country en route, it was the perfect trip for a gourmet food and wine-loving , ballroom dance addicted, travel writer.

My son is driving me to the Cruise Terminal. We turn it into a family outing so my grand-daughter can see what a really big ship looks like. It's a short 1 hour drive along the highway to the cruise ship terminal at San Pedro from which the Sapphire Princess is to sail. We made excellent time until we got to the last turnoff to Harbor Boulevard where somehow we missed the turnoff. As, far too late,  I yelled "go right, go right" we found ourselves driving onto a very very - yes very - long bridge to the opposite side of the harbor. I looked back with dismay as the Sapphire Princess rapidly receded into the distance.