Thursday, November 10, 2016

East Bay Feis Review

Hello dear ones! We are deep in the midst of Fall and the changing colors of the leaves add such a nice tinge of color to the world. Life has been very busy for me, but hopefully this holiday season we can relax a little! ;) 

This is also a busy time for Irish Dancing, because the Western Regional Oireachtas is happening near me the weekend before Thanksgiving! I'm dancing in the Adult Traditional Set solos on Nov 20, so I've been working hard and practicing my set a lot! I'll be dancing Job of Journeywork, which I love and enjoy dancing. 




On October 30, I danced at the East Bay Feis and had a great time! I even brought home a crystal vase! It was my first time dancing in Adult Novice (except for my Hornpipe, which is Adult Beginner since I learned it over the summer) and I enjoyed it. The Feis was running behind schedule which was a little stressful and I think it made me feel really tired. When we arrived at the Feis, I stretched, practiced, and snacked until I felt ready to dance. Then, we find out that we were going to dance late, but no one knew when. I started feeling tired and a little drained by then. 


The venue was lovely and we found a place to camp out, which was important since we brought all three kids. I was able to practice pretty comfortably. There were a lot of Halloween decorations, which the kids loved. It was very festive! Lots of vendors, but I wish I had done some shopping instead of worrying about when we were going to dance. I wanted some hard shoe buckles for the Oireachtas, but I ordered some online so that should be fine. 

Finally, after checking the room where my stage was going to be, I hear that the adults were going to go on right then! They had decided that we ought to dance before the U13s or U15s, I forget which. I was surprised and rushed into the room. XD

My new Novice Reel didn't go as well as I would have liked, but it was my first time dancing it at a Feis and I was really nervous about it, not to mention a little flustered. My other soft shoe dances went well, but the slip jig that the musician played was unlike any one I had heard before and it was hard for me to hear the counts in it. I told my TC about it and after describing the musician to her, she said he probably played a championship slip jig, which is slower and more flowy. 

My hard shoe went really well! I placed first in Novice Hard Jig out of seven, which means I am now in Adult Prizewinner Hard Jig! That made me feel really happy because I worked on that dance a lot during the summer. After Oireachtas, my TC is going to teach me a slow hard jig! :D My hornpipe went very well and I got a comment: "Very Good." I even won the Adult Beginner Hornpipe Trophy Special and received a huge crystal vase! That felt amazing! 

Here are my results: 
Novice Reel: 6th
Novice Light Jig: 5th
Novice Slip Jig: 3rd
Novice Single Jig: 3rd 
Novice Hard Jig: 1st
Novice Trad Set: 3rd
Beginner Hornpipe: 1st 
Trophy Special: 1st 

I wish my soft shoe had gone a little better, but I think I was feeling nervous. Some of the other Novice Adults are very good at soft shoe and I felt a little intimidated, which I should not have felt. I need to be more confident about my soft shoe dances. So, my goal is to work on pointing my toes better and higher toe height. 

I think it was when I was dancing my single jig that I began to relax and really enjoy myself, and then my hard shoe went really well! For the Oireachtas, I need to remember that competing is about having fun and doing your best, not worrying about what the other dancers will do or what the judges think. I am glad I was able to do my Job of Journeywork at the Feis because I realized what I needed to work on before the O. ;) 

Dress Update: I found out last week that the seamstress wasn't planning on making the adult dresses, so I freaked out. I was so upset about it, since it was really last minute. My wonderful TC and her grandmother stepped in to the rescue and are making me a dress for the Oireachtas because, as she said, I "earned it." That means a lot to me and I can't wait to see the dress! :D It will feel amazing to finally dance in an Irish Dancing dress! It will be black and pink to match my headband and school colors. 

Irish dancing is a lot of fun, and while competing can be stressful and exhausting, it's so worth it! I danced 8 dances in a row at the Feis and I am so proud of myself for being able to do that. I am getting ready for the Western Regional Oireachtas!! Let's gooooo! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Two Special Pieces and Great News!

Hi all! 

I haven't had a lot of time to write lately, but I do have some exciting news! 

Remember how I was writing a book? Well, I took a break for it for a while because something wasn't quite right about it. After talking to my dad a few weeks ago, he mentioned writing a series and it was as though lightning struck my brain. I realized that my book works better as two books and the first one is all done! :D It's about 60,000 words right now and I am still in the process of editing and adding some scenes to help the continuity. The second book is about a quarter of the way done and I'm putting that one on the back burner for now so I can focus on revising the first one. :) 

I am so pumped about this and I feel so much better about my book! It makes more sense now and I think it will flow better. I've found a few agents I'd like to send it to, however it won't be ready for a little while. I'm hoping to start sending it out after January, maybe early spring? I'm still waiting to hear back from the Sustainable Arts Foundation to see if I won a writing grant. The awards will be announced in a week or so. 

In other news, I've had two pieces published in September and I am very happy about them. 

Literary Mama published a short piece about inspiration as part of their After Page One blog series: After Page One: Inspiration

Stone Bridge Press, a great publisher that publishes books about Asia, started a Flash Fiction Series in their blog and one of my pieces was chosen to be published! I was so excited when I found out! They published one of my writing heroes, Donald Richie, who wrote about Japan. To have one of my pieces chosen by the same publishers makes me feel very proud and honored. :D Check it out here: The Mountains of Minoh

How are all your projects going? 


Monday, September 12, 2016

On Changes, Big and Small

Hello all! 

Hope you've all been enjoying the very beginning of Autumn. Today was the chilliest day we've had in ages! I think the high was 72 degrees. Crazy, but I was so grateful. ;) 

Forgive the lack of posts, but my twins started school a few weeks ago and that has been quite a change for all of us. I've got a disgruntled three year old at home with me in the mornings who misses his twins desperately while they are in school. Mornings are so busy now! Trying to get twins ready for school is a little stressful; they aren't used to having a routine like this and since they are young, they don't really understand the urgency. We are taking it day by day. The twins like school and their teacher, so that's good. :) There have been some other things going on, so I haven't been able to work on my writing for a long time. I did apply for a writing grant that is specifically for writers who are parents of young children; that grant would help me so much and aid me in finishing my novel! :D Can't wait to hear back about it! 

As for Irish Dancing, I'm feeling the pressure of the upcoming Oireachtas! I'm working on getting Job of Journeywork ready for that, as well as learning a new advanced reel and a hornpipe in time for the East Bay Feis in October. My plywood for practicing hard shoe at home is starting to crack, oh dear! We are working on trying to set up a second time during the week for a sort of practice session in addition to our class, so my fingers are crossed that it'll all come together and start! I've also been working on exercises at home which I think have helped, but it's always a work in progress. I still don't particularly love wall-sits, but at least they aren't as terrible now as when I first started doing them! 

Speaking of Irish Dancing, one of my most favorite and special pieces was published in August about being an adult Irish Dancer and how it has changed my life! I was so thrilled to see it published by Tribe Magazine and the response it has received has blown me away. I posted the link in a few Facebook groups and got the loveliest and most meaningful comments. I really hope my article has inspired someone to try something different and see where it takes them. I am a happier and healthier person because of Irish Dancing, as well as a better parent and wife. I could go on and on about it, so here's a link to my piece: 

With These Feet, I Shall Fly

The words of that piece flowed straight from my heart and through my fingertips onto my laptop's keyboard. Let me know what you think and please share it with others! 

Tell me what you've all been up to! ;) 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August is Crazy!

All summer, I've been a bit concerned about August. There are so many events and changes happening this month that I'm a bit overwhelmed! 

First of all, my twins start Transitional Kindergarten in a few weeks and that will be a huge change for our family. Our schedule will change as well as our routine. With three young children, that can be a little worrisome. Not in a bad way, but we will all have to adjust and that could take a little while. 

My youngest is turning three on Sunday, which is crazy because he is my baby!! I am so proud of him and I love watching him grow, but it's still a little bittersweet. He loves his birthday and has been excited about it all week, which is a lot of fun. Sunday will be a big day in our house, so I need to get ready! ;) 

Those are two big milestones happening this month, and there are a lot of smaller things going on as well. We are meeting up with my second cousin and her daughter from Luxembourg in SF the week before the twins start school! I can't wait, as I have never met her before and since my mother's family lives in France and other parts of Europe, it's very rare for me to see any of them. Yesterday, we met up with some friends of ours whom we hadn't seen in over a year. It was a lot of fun to catch up and see how all our kids have grown. 

In Irish Dancing news, a wonderful champ dancer in my school has been teaching our adult class these last few weeks, even though my school is technically on vacation. I feel like I've progressed a lot this summer. I was the only one in class last night so we worked on turnout and straight legs, as well as a little toe height. I worked on fixing some issues I have in my soft shoe dances and it felt great. Just having that extra attention (since I was the only one in class) helped me realize what I need to fix and how to go about doing so. My muscles are pretty sore today, but that's good! To work on toe height, I spend time standing on my toes and doing calf raises. I'm going to try to practice this week and keep in mind what I learned last night. I'm so grateful and happy to be in my school with such kind and talented dancers willing to help and teach! 

As for writing, I have had very little time or energy, but I've managed to work on a few pieces and even send some out. I wrote a poem that has been in my head for a while and I'm hoping to revise it and send it out soon. I wrote a personal piece about writing for Literary Mama and I have yet to hear back about it. However, my personal essay about being an adult Irish Dancer is being published later this month!!! Expect a big post about that soon!!! :D I am thrilled that Tribe Magazine is going to publish it! One of my goals is to spread the word about adult Irish Dancers and this is the first step! :) 

I'm planning to write a post about the Silicon Valley/Lucky 7's Feis soon, so look out for that one too. How are you all doing this summer? I am so tired of the heat, so I'm looking forward to Fall. ;) 

Take care dears! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

It's Summmmmmer!!

Hello dears! 

I just saw noticed that I haven't posted anything since the first day of March! Woah! So much has happened since then, which is why I haven't been online that much. We had a busy spring and now it's already summer! 

I haven't had much time for writing, but I was able to revise a few pieces and I have been submitting them. Now, it's that always fun game of "wait for a response." Not always pleasant, but very important if one wants to be published. I just submitted a very special piece this morning about my adult Irish Dancing journey. Fingers crossed that it gets accepted, but even if it doesn't, I'll revise it again and send it somewhere else. It's a piece I strongly believe in. :) 

As for Irish Dancing news, it's been going very well! I have now moved up into Novice adult, which means I can start learning more advanced dances. I am very proud of myself and how much I have progressed as a dancer since January. It's as though that January Feis was a sort of wake-up call for me; I have been working very hard since then to be the dancer I know I can be. I competed at a Feis on June 11 in San Jose and it was my best yet! ;) I'll write a separate post about that soon. 

I also received my Grade Exam results and I got an A+ for both exams!! Yay! That definitely bolstered my confidence and helped me see that I was making progress with my dancing. 

We also went on a little family vacation last month to Disneyland and had a wonderful time! My husband and I now love Disneyland and can't wait to go back! It was really special for our first family vacation and the kids were great. Now, it's summertime and I've got to keep them all busy and out of the heat until the twins get ready to head off to Pre-Kindergarten in the Fall. What a big year this has been and it's only halfway through! 

How are you all doing? :) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Grade Exams and Publications!

Happy first day of March everyone! 

I woke up feeling refreshed and ready for Spring! There is a lot going on this month and I need to take care of myself so I feel good! 

February was pretty busy too, especially since I had my Irish Dancing Grade Exams. I did the first two, which comprises of the first four soft shoe dances: reel, light jig, slip jig, and single jig. 

The exams were done at our dance studio with Gary Healy! (Scary Gary, as he is sometimes called :D) It was apparently his first time doing Grade Exams and he was soooo nice! He really took the time to write down lots of comments and when I had to stop my light jig since I was so nervous, he was really kind about it and told me not to be nervous. Looking back, it was a great experience, but I was really anxious and nervous about it! 

I don't feel great about my reel and light jig, but after I relaxed and got in the flow of things my slip jig and single jig were much better. We still haven't gotten back any results yet, so I don't know how I did....hopefully it was good! Grade Exams are a great way to get personal feedback, so I'm looking forward to that. I do know I need to work on keeping my toes always pointed and my back foot turned out more. I am planning to order a pair of new soft shoes that one of my teachers recommended, so that might help. 

We started learning Job of Journeywork last week and I am really excited about learning more of it soon! It's a lovely trad set dance. I also need to keep doing more hard shoe drills because I think those really help.

In other news, I am trying to finish my WIP fantasy novel. I'm very close to finishing, so I am working on it when I have a little time and energy. I've been exhausted lately! I also have been working on mapping out the next novel I plan to write after this one is done. It's a different genre, setting, everything, which is a lot of fun! 

I am very pleased to announce that I have a poem coming out next week on Mamalode! It's a poem that is very dear to me and I am so excited to share it with the world! Especially on Mamalode.com, which is quite a popular parenting website/journal. Yay! 

I also have a piece in the new issue of Unbroken Journal, which has quickly become one of my favorite journals out there! The pieces are so moving and stunning; please check it out! I am thrilled to have a poem in there too; it's on page 51. ;) Here's the link to the new issue: Unbroken Journal

So that's what is going on for me, apart from cooking, cleaning, taking care of cute kiddos, hanging with my hubby, and crying over the fact that Downton Abbey is ending! Whyyy??? D: 

Tell me what is going on for you, my friends and readers!!! :) 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Why It's Awesome Being An Adult Irish Dancer


I am proud to say that, along with being a mom, wife, and writer, I am also an adult Irish Dancer! 

One of my goals is to spread the word and hopefully inspire other adults to try Irish Dancing. I danced as a child and teenager, and I have to say that I am having so much more fun dancing as an adult. There are so many benefits to being an adult Irish Dancer. I've made friends, gained confidence, lost weight, gained muscle, improved my stamina, and it's made me a happier person! 

Here is a list of reasons why it's awesome being an adult Irish Dancer for people interested in Irish Dancing. It's not as daunting as you might think! ;)

  • It's a great way to exercise! 
    • Your body will feel really sore when you start. It takes a little while for your muscles and limbs to get used to it, but when they do, you feel great! You build muscles and slim down; at least, I have. Your stamina always grows and I've noticed that when jogging or walking with my kids. 
  • It's a good outlet. 
    • If I'm feeling stressed, worried, or just burnt out by something, I go to class and just dance it out! The music cheers me up and the support from my teachers and fellow dancers lifts me up! Creatively, it's a splendid outlet because dancing is a form of expression and passion.  
  • You can make friends with other adults who love Irish Dancing as much as you do! 
    • I am really enjoying the friendships growing from my class and from the adult dancer Facebook group. It's a special community and there is a lot of support for adult dancers out there. My dance class is a special time for me for many reasons, but one is that I can be social with other people, which is a big deal for a stay at home mom like me. ;) 
  • You are a good role model for other people. 
    • By other people, I mean kids, relatives, friends, neighbors, you name it. By pursuing a cultural and healthy activity and persevering at it, you are presenting a good example for others. I think it's important for my kids to see my doing Irish Dancing; it might inspire them to dance someday or work hard at something else they love. 
  • You can compete and win things! 
    • I know I just recently wrote a post about how annoying it is to compete as an adult in Feiseanna (Irish Dancing competitions), but at a good Feis where there are lots of adults competing, it's so fun! I really treasure the medals I won at my first Feis as an adult. As an adult and a stay at home mom, competing is an accomplishment and it feels good when I've earned it. 
  • You can work your way up to become a TCRG and teach. 
    • This is one of my goals. I want to become a TCRG and teach Irish Dancing to adults or kids. I just love Irish Dancing so much that it would be great to work with others and teach. Fingers crossed that I do well on my first two Grade Exams this upcoming weekend! 
  • You call the shots. 
    • Growing up, I felt bad that my dad had to shell out so much money for my sister and I to dance and compete. Irish Dancing costs money, and as an adult, it's more up to us how we pay for it. I try to make a little by selling on eBay and Instagram, and that has helped pay for my classes and Feiseanna. Also, as adults, we are responsible for pushing ourselves and making ourselves practice. It's up to us how far we push ourselves. We are in control of a lot more things, such as time, food, and money, even if we are busy leading adult lives. :) 
  • You are special. 
    • Yep, pretty darn special. There aren't too many adult Irish Dancers out there and I think we are a passionate, hard-working, fun-loving bunch. It's an amazing world to be part of and when I hear the music, my heart lifts and I feel so happy. 
Let me know if I've missed anything and I hope I've inspired a few of you to try Irish Dancing! Any questions? Let me know! You can find me on Twitter too here: @OpheliaLeong.