Sunday, 31 January 2010

Karma & disgust!

You may have noticed that my most recent blogs have not been the cheeriest of posts so today I intend to share some nice things with you! Ok, so there will be one bit that is not nice but it will be written with the best intentions.

Firstly I want to thank the person who handed my handbag into the Mannamead last night! I had been out on a lovely evening with some friends and in the process of moving tables my bag must have dropped of the back of my chair. I really didn't expect to get it back and even when I did find out it had been handed in I did not expect to find my purse still containing money! I just wish I could personally thank the honest person who handed it in and to tell them just how much their actions are appreciated. I also want to say how great it was to spend time with my wonderful friends. Thanks to the Mannamead and Fortescue staff for looking after us and providing great ale, thanks also to Fortescue landlord Steve for moving the tables around so we could all sit together. I will be looking forward to the next big Social in March (dates to follow).

I have some more good news that I can't fully share at the moment but what I can say is that my neighbour who has been responsible for some seriously nasty acts towards myself and other street residents was arrested on Friday morning (I can't say what for yet!). What I can say is that the residents in our lovely street have all been able to breath a huge sigh of relief that the police have finally caught up with him. I will expand on this subject in a future blog. I do firmly believe that what goes around comes around and in this case he is going to get what he truly deserves.

Now I need to ask you a small favour that will only take up a minute of your time and that you may actually enjoy? One of my University of Plymouth pole dancing students, Shona, is doing her dissertation on feelings of disgust and she needs volunteers to complete a short questionaire. Click here to view and complete the questionaire, you will be helping Shona and may find the questions very interesting.

Much as I would love to carry on blogging I have to clean my house and car as they are both equally filthy. Will blog again soon but in the meantime enjoy the rest of your Sunday,
Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Business issues

It is truly amazing quite how reliant my business is on the internet; After a poor start to 2010 due to the bad weather things were just starting to pick up when my server got hacked and now my website seems to be intermittently working. Of course the techies are working hard to resolve the matter but in the meantime I can't send or receive e-mails, no one can get information from my website and my payments systems are down which means I might as well not be trading! The 2 days I spent working on pole dance community are now wasted as the new and updated articles on the site were lost in the process. So first came the snow, then the hackers and now roadworks are set to hit Mutley limiting access to my business premises!

On top of the issues mentioned above it seems that Mutley is no longer a nice place to shop and live but increasingly is becoming a hangout for addicts on court orders many of whom show no signs of tackling their addictions . Whilst I am all for helping people to better themselves I do not agree with the current policy of referring addicts to places like the Harbour Centre and offering reduced sentences as a result. Unfortunately an addict can only deal with their addiction in one of 2 ways, either they have to really want to give up and be prepared to work hard and get help to beat the addiction or they need to go cold turkey via imprisonment. Of course we all know that prisons are rife with drugs so the latter option is unlikely and now thanks to the Human rights act heroin addicts are allowed heroin substitutes whilst they are inside. It seems that as methadone and similar substances are just as addicitve as heroin the problem isn't really solved and I have spoken to several addicts who end up getting their free heroin substitute from the Harbour Centre and then still go out and by heroin on the streets.

Despite new laws to deal with anti-social behaviour the police seem increasingly powerless to deal with individuals and cases seem to rarely get to court. I think we are all more than aware of reading stories in the paper of repeat offenders who seem to be treated in a very leniant way by the courts. Anyway I start to digress.

The point is that geographically my business is now situated smack bang in the middle of the 2 Harbour Centres and the Mutley Baptist Church who offer drop in services for Harbour Centre clients. I am liasing with the Church and the local police to try to improve the situation but am seeing little improvement. The 'gentleman' who burgled my business three times last year is back and regularly seen loitering around my premsises. The guy who shouted racist abuse at immigrant workers and then urinated against the wall breaking the terms of his anti-social behaviour order just before Xmas is also out of prison and as I write I can see him outside my husbands office with a friend drinking special brew by the steps of the church.

It seems that some of these individuals are getting all the help they could possibly get but yet they are failing to integrate into society, prison is not a threat to them, they get free meals at the church, they get benefits and housing. Are we not simply rewarding these individuals for their behaviour? Perhaps I should try the addict lifestyle, I have great veins so the nurse tells me, I like a drink and could be quite tempted by a can of beer at 11am in the morning followed by free tea and cakes at the church and a free meal in the evening. I could get benefits so that I wouldnt have to worry about things like tax and self assessment, I might even get some free housing and then if I do accidentally go out and stab someone I will get a few weeks in a hotel, sorry I meant a prison or is that the same thing? Tempted?

I will try to write a less sarcastic blog next time but do feel that the current approach to anti-social behaviour and drug misuse is simply not working and as the divide between the rich and poor continues to grow problems look set to worsen!

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Yesterday I did something inspirational!

picture above - view from Mountbatten looking towards Plymouth City Centre.

It is now nearly 6 years since I started teaching pole dancing and I, like many, have struggled to find suitable training courses to qualify me to teach pole dancing. There are pole dance teaching qualifications out there but I have seen some really bad pole dance teachers with specific pole dance qualifications and some great teachers who have no training at all. I think the problem is that like many art forms it takes years to get good at something and you can't walk onto a 1 or 2 day course and learn, in that time, to be a great pole dancing teacher. As a teacher I just wanted some more training so 2 years ago I attended an Exercise to Music course with the YMCA, the course gave me a great basic level of physiology and anatomy but I hated the aggressive style of aerobics and knew that it would not be something I ever wanted to teach. The ETM courses do not encourage expressive dance and instead encoruage regimental steps which is the complete opposite to my style of teaching, it may work for some but it didn't appeal to me.

Since the ETM I have been looking for another course to aid and develop my teaching and I think that yesterday I found the answer; A few monhs ago I was perusing the Herald when I saw a small article on the Keep Fit Association, I took the details and contacted Mary Lakeman to find out more. Mary was extremely helpful and she put me in touch with Valerie Lacey, a course facilitator. To cut a long story short, Sue and I attended a 1 day workshop yesterday to learn more about music and movement and we both absolutely loved it!

Janice Moore, a KFA trainer from Wiltshire, packed so much into the day that my head is now buzzing with ideas, we covered musical styles looking at the history of music and dance, we looked at different beats and adapting dance to suit different styles and we looked at Laban's fantastic principles of dance and movement. The course was perfectly pitched and wonderfully inspiring. I had my first go at the Paso Doble and the Cha Cha Cha and then we tried the Waltz, this is the bit where I must apologise to Tamsin who probably wished she had worn steel toe capped boots to work with me, the Waltz is much harder than it looks and my feet just didn't seem to land in the right place. I hope that Tamsin's toes are recovering today!

There were 10 of us attending the course including Ruth who is still teaching at 82 and who stilll looks fabulous. Ruth even knew my first dance teacher Claire Cassidy who retired from teaching Margaret Morris Movement at the age of 83 and who still remains an inspiration to me. The ladies were extremely welcoming and I hope to meet up with some of them again soon.

The KFA course has really made me want to train as a KFA teacher as well as wanting to fuse the KFA style wiht my pole dance teaching. I hope to try to develop some pole classes for the over 65's with exercise involving move around the pole and using the pole to help balance as opposed to the high impact gymnastics style I teach at present. Thanks to all the ladies from the KFA who I met yesterday for inspiring me and not judging me for teaching pole dancing.

Before I disappear of to my 2 hour Pole Practice I must mention the awful meal I had at the China House yesterday. My husband had offered to take me out for a meal and we decided to pop down to the China House as I love the venue and because they do great beer. Unfortunately when we ordered the food no-one told us it would take nearly an hour to arrive, don't get me wrong, I don't mind waiting an hour for fresh home cooked food but I do mind waiting an hour for on over-microwaved pasta monstrosity. My husbands meal wasn't much better and was cold. We were going to complain to the staff but having waited for over an hour we were starving and were faced with the dilemma of queuing for ages to complain and then waiting another hour for more food or eating the food and vowing never to eat at the China House again. We opted for the latter which is such a shame it is such a lovely venue.

With the loss of the Waterfront recently and the closure of the dome many opportunities seem to be being missed from Plymouth and the lack of quality eateries does not bode well for tourists or locals. What a shame that many pubs and restaurants are no longer family run with real home cooked food but instead are being replaced by chains run establishments with everything being taken from the freezer to the microwave! Next time we eat out we will go back to a place where we can gurantee good service and great food such as Bistro One on Ebrington Street and the Mussel Inn at Down Thomas.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Cats, allergies & lovely Plymouth ladies.

Picture from the Plymouth post taken by Nic Randall of Beauty and Cranberry.

I couldn't blog today without mentioning the sad tale of 100 persian cats found in dog crates in Cornwall recently. Sadly 2 of the cats have already died but the rest are doing well and responding to some TLC. Gables Farm are still looking for homes for these gorgeous creatures, click here for the full story and the rather cute video or click here to contact Gables Farm if you are interested in adopting a cat. Woodside Animal Sanctuary also have lots of dogs, cats and rodents ready for adoption including Sparky pictured below right.

The subject of cat and dogs brings me perfectly onto the topic of allergies! Thanks to Teresa jackson for sending me an article from the online nure practitioners website. The article talks about unusal allergies such as allergies to money, mobile phones and water, it is well worth a read.  Click here for the story.

I was thrilled to read in this week's Herald about the success of local artist Kasia Andrews. I had the pleasure of working with Kasia lat year when she came to my studio to photograph Jo, Tamar and I for a pending project. Kasia received the national Art Liberating Lives portrait award a during her exhibition at the Sue Ryder Care fundraiser at the Mall Galleries in London. Click here for the full story. A huge congratulations goes out to Kasia for her well deserved award and I look forward to working with her again in the near future.

Another lovely lady who deserves a mention is the gorgeous Mia Gilson (pictured right) who will be singing her heart out tonight at the Royal William Yard with the Complaints Choir. Mia, who has been working relentlessly on the restoration of the Devonport Guildhall  and has somehow found time in her busy schedule to join the Complaints Choir, she will be performing tonight from 6.30pm. Good Luck Mia x.

I hope to blog again soon on the slightly more controversial topics of Millitant Islam and the English Defence League. If you want to learn more on these subjects in the meantime why not tune into the BBC Asian Network for some interesting debates and some great bhangra.

Well that is enough work avoidance for me, I must do some work on the Pole Dance Community website (Please note that you can use the PDC website to donate to the Oxfam Haiti emergency appeal) before my pole practice with Sue and  Tamar this afternoon.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Pole Practice and other stuff

 Me doing a shoulder mount hold.

Well 2010 is now well up and running and already my diary is filling with various pole related activities. The events page of the art of dance website is full of master classes, socials and charity events many of which I will blog about nearer the time.

Gettng back on the pole after a 3 week break was not as easy as I hoped it would be, my muscles seemed to haf lost half their strength and even my grip seemed weaker. I have had 2 practice sessions with my instructors and am starting to regain some of my strength, I seriously need to work on my parallel and twisted grip handstands as well as my climb to flag invert and Chinese flag. I am sure that with just a couple more sessions I can get back to normal strength and can then start to work on some new tricks and combinations on the pole.

I have really enjoyed getting back ino teaching pole dancing and as soon as I have finished this blog I hope to start work on a vigorous new warm up and cool down for my students as well as some evil new session plans.

Me trying a gemini varition with a bracket grip on the inside arm.

As well as getting the art of dance back in full swing I have been working alongside my husband on the pole dance community website which has started to gain much more support. The site now has a full range of both Xpert and Xsport poles, the latest pole dancing poles from X-pole. We have also been doing lots of research into public liablity and professional indemnity for pole dancing schools and have uncovered some serious gaps in some peoples levels of cover. More to follow on that and the ongoing UK pole dance competition consultation process.

Aside from pole stuff I have had the dreaded task of doing end of year accounts, a task which I truly hate! What inspires someone to become an accountant for a living truly baffles me.

Before I sign off for today there are 2 more subjects I want to mention, one which is quite amusing and the other which is quite the opposite. I wil start with the one that made me giggle and that was brought to my attention by my husband. There is a facebook group that has been causing some discussion over its title - 'Stop the abuse and christian counseling', I, like many, assumed that the site was aimed at stopping the abuse that is so rife within the christian church but we were wrong. To really understand what I am on about just visit the site using the previous link and enjoy the confusion.

This last paragraph is dedicated to my Auntie Jean and her friends and family. Jean was a fabulous lady and a very good friend to my Mum. I have extremely fond memories of Jean and I spent many happy times during my childhood with Jean, Graham and their daughter Emma. I still wear the ring that jean bought back for me from Cancun in Mexico many years ago. I am glad that Jean is no longer suffering from the terrible cancer that had riddled her body but am sure she will be immensely missed by those who knew her. A huge amount of respect must go out to St Luke's Hospice who do an amazing job of helping cancer sufferers in their final days. I will leave you all with this picture (wooden antelope pictured left) which would have made Jean chuckle and that hopefully will bring a smile to my Mum's face too!

Stay healhy,

Sam x

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Half Empty or Half Full?

It is now over a week since my last blog and so much has happened that it is difficult to know where to start. The end of 2009 and start of 2010 has been a bit of a rollercoaster and I seem to have gone from very happy to very miserable and back again frequently.

Xmas day was lovely and my husband and I had the day to ourselves and no timescale to stick to, we got up when we wanted, ate when we wanted and slept when we wanted, it was sheer bliss but as the day drew to a close I started to feel a bit unwell. Boxing day; I was thoroughly looking forward to spending the day with my Mum and I did my best to stay happy and focused but the virus was starting to set in and I found it hard to be my usual cheery self. By the 27th December I was feverish, weak and generally useless and for 24 hours I thought I may die at any moment! I felt considerbaly more human by the 28th and was able to travel to Manchester to spend the day with my Sister in Law and then to Bradford to spend a day with my Mother in Law. Despite still feeling rough I had a lovely time and really enjoyed seeing the snow covered Penines as well as spending time with my husbands family.

My husband & I I travelled back to Plymouth on New Years Eve and that is when the bad news seemed to start rolling in. I think when you are feeing under the weather it is easier to see the cup as half empty rather than half full and my negativity wasn't aided by a video I stumbled upon (I have not linked to the actual video for reasons that will become apparent). I, like many people love watching crazy and insane videos on the internet and the video entitled Chinese justice looked merely like a street brawl gone wrong but then it took a savage turn, the video actually showed to Chinese gentleman being murdered. I use the term Gentleman in the loosest of terms as the video suggest that the two 'victims' had actually just murdered 2 women but regardless of their crime I just couldn't justify the level of volence used to kill them and the short video now seemed embedded in my head (especially just before drifiting of to sleep at night).

As the countdown to New year began I wished for some happy news to fill my head with but no such luck. The first call was from my Dad to let me know that his partner had been rushed into Hopsital during their holiday in Tenerife, she was not able to be flown home and my Dad could not get hold of anyone to sort out insurance, accomodation etc. The situation with my Dad was hardly cheery but could have ben a lot worse. The next news was that my Mum's best friends Cancer had spread to her liver and she was asked to move from Derriford to St Luke's, she is at home at present but no one should have to suffer in the way she is doing. Then on New Years Day a friend's son woke to celebrate his daughters 1st Birthday, during the celebrations he witnessed someone trying to steal his neighbours car so he ran outside to try to stop the thief; The thief ran over him twice leaving him with mutliple injuries and fighting for his life. John is being operated on today and my thoughts are with him and his family, I hope he makes a full recovery.

I started 2010 with many questions and few answers, life can be so cruel and I really wanted something to inspire me for the start of the New Year rather than more sadness to dwell on. Bizarrely the inspiration came from something that should have added to my depression: The Tsuanmi programme on channel 4. OK so the programme wasn't exactly full of cheer but it did offer answers to some questions. One particular quote seemed to stand out for me, it was made by a lady who had lost her daugher in the tsunami and who said that she had to live life to the full to make up for her daughters loss and or all those who had died in the disaster, her husband then commented that he ensures he does something good everyday on behalf of those that did not make it. So that is my New Years Resolution, to remind myself that although life is short and can be cruel we have to make the most of every single second and to try not to wallow in self pity over what are in fact trivial things.

I hope this blog has not been too depressing as that was not my intention. I have lots of exciting plans for 2010 and for the art of dance, I am even planning on standing for local council in the May elections. As usual I will keep you posted on all that is happening but I hope you all have a wonderful 2010 and that you make the most of each day and never take anything for granted.

Stay Healthy,

Sam x