Friday, 16 February 2018


Everything that's going on right now has brought me to the point where my emotional health has hit the floor again. I think about the things I've said, and the way I've been behaving lately, and I know that I'm heading for trouble.

The fact that I don't know how to explain it, or what to say, tells me that this is my old friend burnout, and I probably need to limit my contact with people for a while. I've been giving too much of myself, and it needs to stop, now.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Incomplete thoughts; suppressed feelings

In psychodynamic therapy, there's the concept of splitting, or seeing things in terms of absolutes. It most often presents as a tendency to see others, and ourselves, as either wholly good or wholly bad. When we examine this, there may be a need for us to see ourselves as wholly good, because experience has taught us that being seen as bad comes with consequences. As a result, we might find ourselves projecting those things we find unacceptable in our own character onto others, and becoming irritated by some of the things we see in them but to which we are blind within ourselves.

A more holistic approach would be to recognise that people are capable of being both good and bad at the same time. We are not without either vice or virtue, and the same can be said of others. Also, our perception of what is good and bad has been given to us, at least in part through values we have inherited from parents and others who have had a marked effect of our view of the world, and in many ways will be wholly ours, and ours alone.

Ideally, we will learn to accept our perceived shortcomings, and those we perceive in others. It will quite possibly be uncomfortable for us, but all lasting change has that same quality.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone. During a recent car journey with a friend, I talked about the faults I found in a number of other people, and judged them to be bad. As I'm trained to be non-judgemental, and practise this quality on a regular basis in my work, it seems surprising that I'd act in such a way. The worst part of it, for me, was that I knew my friend was feeling the need to withdraw from the company of others for a while, and my negativity probably wouldn't have helped matters. Actually, I'm concerned that I may have made matters worse.

Within minutes of saying goodbye to my friend, and being alone with my thoughts, I realised how judgemental I had been. Then, I considered that I hadn't been merely judgemental: I'd been downright nasty. I felt bad, and my mood dipped. I felt that I was a terrible friend, and a terrible person. As much as I valued her as a friend, she'd be better off without me. The downward spiral continued, and I ended up thinking that I should isolate myself from others, because I was clearly a terrible human being.

There were mitigating factors, but those aren't for exploration here. The important thing is that I was seeing some people as wholly bad, and voiced this to someone who probably didn't really need to hear it. I then felt guilty for doing this, and immediately labelled myself as a terrible person. I blocked out all the good that I may have done, and focused instead on the feeling that I was bad, wholly bad, with no redeeming qualities.

Again, there were mitigating factors. Again, I'm going to put them to one side, because identifying them will get in the way of what was going on for me in the moment. I went on the attack. That's the truth of the matter. Why did I do that? It was because of a general feeling that I had come under attack myself. In my own way, I was trying to voice this to a friend who meant a lot to me, but rather than owning my feelings, and identifying the hurt I felt, I sought to highlight how the actions of others had led to me feeling that way.

In reality, my friend already knew what had been happening. I didn't need to add any more detail. I didn't need to go on the attack. I still feel that I let myself down there. What really mattered, and what I should have been open about with my friend, was how I was feeling about it all. It was just easier to focus on others.

I have to accept that those I see as my enemies may have their good points, which I'm not able to see. Likewise, I may be blind to some of the qualities my friends possess which are not so good. It seems like a very personal manifestation of a kind of confirmation bias (weeding out things which contradict our beliefs, in favour of those that do).

So, the question is not what happened, but how I feel about it. I feel that other people have let me down, whether it is actually true or not. I own that as my feeling, rather than an accurate summation of what has occurred (it might be, but that is another matter). I feel hurt by the actions of others. Again, I have to recognise blaming, and shift to owning my feelings instead. So, I feel let down and hurt. I also feel alone. Strange then, that my reaction to seeing myself as inherently bad was the thought of further isolating myself. Is there, behind it all, a feeling that I deserve to be alone? Is seeing myself as bad a justification, or rationalisation, of feeling alone? Is justifying my loneliness a reaction against, or rejection of, an underlying notion that the loneliness is fundamentally unjust?

Splitting is a defence mechanism: it is a defence against exploring unconscious processes which may cause us pain. I believe I've given a good example of this. In my case, I concentrated on the behaviour of others, and used this focus to actively avoid exploring what I was feeling.

What is causing me the greatest pain, right now, is the belief that I have to be wholly good and, just as importantly, the belief that my idea of what is good is wholly accurate. As hard as it is, I have to let these things go, and concentrate on accepting the parts of myself that I currently find unacceptable.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

In Spanish, it means sauce

Of all the places for it to happen, I wouldn't have expected it to happen in a Cuban Salsa lesson. I was at a Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba festival in Liverpool and, of those styles, Cuban Salsa was the one I'd danced the most. Yes, in Cuba they call it Casino, but that obviously causes confusion in this part of the world. I know some call it Salsa Cubana, but to me that sounds like a cocktail - the kind you drink and then wonder why you've woken up in your wardrobe, clutching a note in your own handwriting which tells you that Narnia doesn't exist.

Anyway, I'm calling it Cuban Salsa and, when this happened, I'd been dancing the style for almost two years. The class hadn't been particularly challenging, but I'd been off my game for most of the weekend. I was there mainly because I'd won two passes for the weekend (the other one meant that I was accompanied by a good friend), and was determined to make good use of my prize.

I remember winning the passes, and being shocked by my good fortune. I remember the lady who was telling me about what I'd actually won saying that I didn't look very happy, but I didn't fully understand what was happening. To be honest, I feel a little uncomfortable in that kind of situation, and I'm always glad when it's over: I suppose, in that respect, it was a little like hearing a song by Justin Timberlake.

I was distracted. It's no excuse, because I know Cuban Salsa well enough, in theory, to avoid accidents like the one that happened. I also have no idea how it happened. I was going through the movements that had been shown to us at that point in the class, and the young lady in question wasn't the first to go through that part of the sequence with me, and yet my finger still went up her nostril.

I recoiled. I was aware that my finger had entered a strange woman's orifice and come into contact with bodily fluid. If it's still the same as it was when I was in my early twenties, then the polite thing would have been to buy her dinner first. I also thought that I should phone my fiancée and tell her how much I loved her.

The best way I can describe the immediate discomfort I felt would be to compare it to the time I saw a photo of a particularly creepy uncle in a pair of swimming trunks. I've no idea what the photo was doing in the swimming trunks, or to whom the trunks belonged, and those factors contributed in no small way to the feeling of discomfort.

After the class, I approached her, and apologised for the violation of her nasal passage. She replied that I had actually done her a favour, because one of the men had been wearing a particularly nasty cologne, and our little accident meant that she could no longer smell it so strongly. She also said that, as special as the moment had been for her, it was something we should never talk about again.

Other than that, it was quite a good weekend.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again: the time when most of us overindulge. In this part of the world, we have fewer daylight hours, and the temperature has dropped considerably. Our bodies burn more calories in the cold weather, and our mood can take a dip in the relative darkness of winter. In many respects, overindulgence is rational. Let's not forget that the festive season is actively marketed as a time of overindulgence. We can forgive ourselves for giving in to temptation, can't we?

Come January, the owners of gyms up and down the land will be rubbing their hands with glee. Many people will look back on the holiday season, and judge that they let themselves down. Their chosen punishment for their transgressions will be to join a gym, give up smoking, give up alcohol, give up junk food or to otherwise deprive themselves of something which brought them pleasure - however temporary - during the festive period.

What will happen, of course, is that their motivation will wane. Punishing ourselves for what we perceive as bad behaviour only leads to us feeling bad about ourselves, and we begin to resent what we see as punishment. How long will we continue? I'd suggest that it won't be long and, if we finally give up on the task we set ourselves, we'll feel even worse. We will feel that we have failed.

I'm a little sceptical of New Year's resolutions, for all the reasons I've stated. I do, however, believe that we are more than capable of keeping our promises to ourselves. I believe that we can do this by asking ourselves a simple question:

Who am I doing this for?

If you don't already do this, then write down your New Year's resolution, or resolutions. Then, write down your reasons for wanting to keep those resolutions. Finally, and this is the most important step, look at those reasons and ask yourself how many of them are just for you.

From an early age, we learn to seek the approval of others. Until we are able to provide food, shelter, clothing and other items necessary for our survival, we rely upon the goodwill of others. At this stage of our lives, it is necessary for us to win their approval. Our world revolves around what those around us think of us, and this is known, in person-centred theory, as an external locus of evaluation.

Ideally, in our adult lives, we move towards feeling more confident in ourselves. What matters is that we approve of ourselves, and are happy with who we are. On our way there, we may go through the "awkward" teenage phase, where we actively push against the boundaries set by our parents and those whose approval was so important to us before. The point is, we ideally have this inner sense of whether we are doing well in life or not. Approval or disapproval of who we are becomes something we own ourselves. In person-centred theory, this is known as an internal locus of evaluation.

The problem is, we're social animals. Although, as adults, we no longer rely quite so much on others for our basic survival needs, we still want to have good relationships with those around us, to avoid conflict where possible, and to fill our lives with love, happiness, and positive experiences with those we feel connected to in some way. In fact, failing to do this causes us psychological and emotional pain.

Social media fuels all of this. When people like our posts, our photos, or make positive comments about these things, that's a huge slice of approval for us. If we don't receive this approval, it can be just as wounding to us, if not more so, because we are seeking the approval of a greater number of our peers. The temptation is to exaggerate how great our lives are, or to gain the sympathy of others. Again, it is perfectly normal human behaviour, but it is being amplified by the unusual phenomenon that is social media, and we are moving further into the territory of reliance on the approval of others.

So much for the theory. New Year's resolutions are for us, and us only. If they are things we feel we should, must, or have to do, then we might question from where these conditions are being applied. Are we doing something for us, or for the approval of others? If not for us, then how likely are we to keep those promises?

Me, Me, Me

I've no doubt that some people reading this piece are wondering what my own New Year's resolutions are, and whether they are just for me. I suppose that detailing the process I went through will help you decide whether they are, and determine your approval or disapproval (I might know what's going on, but it doesn't mean I'm immune to it).

I was over forty when I started learning to dance. It was something I started doing at the request of someone else, so my initial motivation was to gain the approval of another person. For me, that wasn't enough to continue, but fortunately I started to enjoy it for myself. Dancing seemed to connect with something in me of which I wasn't previously aware, and it just felt good to move to the music.

There's an element of approval seeking in Salsa. It's a partner dance, and it's only natural that most of us would like to think that dancing with us is a pleasurable experience for our dance partner. Not considering the feelings of our partner would suggest a failure of empathy so, in this case, a little approval serves as reassurance that we have behaved appropriately towards someone else, and hopefully contributed in some small way to them having an enjoyable evening.

The key here is that I was over forty when I started dancing. As much as I enjoy it, I've found that my leg muscles, shoulder muscles, and often other muscle groups are tight and tense during or after a night of dancing. At some of the events, I've been doing a lot of dancing over the space of a few hours. Over time, I've realised that stretching is vitally important, both before and after dancing.

Someone I see on a regular basis was talking about yoga. She said that a former colleague had been sceptical about yoga, but had gradually come round to seeing the benefits of the exercises, and had over time become even more of an enthusiast than my friend. It was one of those times when I'd heard something which presented itself as a solution or a way forward. At the time it was said, I'd started to realise that stretching wasn't just vitally important to preventing injuries in Salsa - dancing just drew my attention to the fact that my muscles were tightening up, and that a regular programme of stretching might be of benefit.

I've also had the kind of year where my stress levels, and the state of my emotional health, have been brought to my attention. It would be good to spend some time doing an activity which promotes relaxation.

So, my New Year's resolution is to practise yoga. As I said earlier, I'm reluctant to engage with the whole concept of New Year's resolutions, and would prefer to just see it as a promise to myself. Unfortunately, I arrived at my conclusion just in time for the festive season, and the reality is that it leaves my first steps in yoga as something which will take place in the new year. It's funny how these things work out, isn't it?

At least it's something I'm doing just for me, and that's just how it should be.

Friday, 15 December 2017

How 2017 has been for me

I'm concerned for the safety of a friend right now. Over a year ago, when I was also worried for her safety, I flew out to Croatia to see her. It's brought my focus back to what 2017 has been all about for me. It's been a year of loss. To be honest, it's been a year of not being able to recover, as one loss has followed another. In all, it feels like a year in which a nuclear blast has torn through my life, permanently altering the landscape, and leaving it a cold, desolate place I no longer recognise.

Of course, I'm currently working with people who've suffered a loss, and often multiple losses. Circumstance dictated that I work with bereavement but, in my work with witnesses of crimes and victims of crime, I'm also working with people who have suffered some kind of loss.

On Tuesday, I have my third counselling session as a client, and I've been invited to talk about losing my sister earlier in the year. I warned the counsellor that, although it's the clearest example, it's also far from being the only source of grief I've had to deal with recently.

Last night, I talked to some friends, and that reminded me of something I've gained during 2017. Some friendships have fallen by the wayside, but some have become stronger. I've also become stronger, but it has come mostly from being sorely tested, and having to find a way to cope.

I maintain a sense of gratitude. I still try to give some love to those who struggle to love themselves, and refuse to give up on those who want to give up. As stated by someone who has been vitally important to my development, the line between me as a counsellor and me as a person has blurred to the point where it can no longer be seen. In truth, I don't know that the line was ever there.

Earlier this week, I listened to someone talking about being on the path I'm currently travelling. As she talked about burning out, and finding ways to disconnect from the cumulative stresses of this work, I couldn't help identifying with her. That's pretty much where I am right now. I'm doing my best to carry on although, as I've said recently, I'm practically running on empty. Maybe 2017 hasn't been all about loss: maybe it has been about finding strength.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A useful configuration file for abcde

If you're here, you probably know what this is. I like using abcde ("a better CD encoder", apparently) to encode my CD collection for storage on my laptop/NAS, and playback on various devices and media players. I like to tag my music using Musicbrainz, so I changed that setting.

I thought about the formats that might be useful, for anyone wanting to archive their CD collection. FLAC is a given, I think, if your music is important to you, and you want to lose absolutely none of the detail within the recording. Opus is included, because it's open and it's awesome, basically but, for wide device support, I've included MP3 and AAC as well. With the FDK encoder, AAC clearly sounds better than MP3 at the same bit rate, at least to my ears, but MP3 is more widely supported, and at the time of writing has recently become patent-free.

It would be quite easy to delete the formats that are not needed, and edit the file in any other way you choose. You know where to store it but, if you don't, I'd suggest reading the documentation. Me, I just copied the sample configuration file when I first started to use abcde (as you can see from the comments in the file), and have simply kept editing it over the years, as my needs have changed.

# System defaults for abcde version 2.2.x
# Nothing in this file is uncommented by default.
# If you wish to override these system-wide settings, create your own
# .abcde.conf file in your home directory.

# CDDB options
# Choose whether you want to use CDDB or Musicbrainz. Default is CDDB

# If you wish to use a different CDDB server, edit this line.
# If you just wanted to use a proxy server, just set your http_proxy
# environment variable - wget will use it correctly.

# The CDDB protocol level.
# Right now 5 is latin1 output and 6 is UTF8 encoding.

# The CDDB protocol requires hello information, including a valid username
# and hostname. If you feel paranoid about giving away such info, edit this
# line - the format is username@hostname.

# This controls the email address CDDB changes are submitted to.

# The following options control whether or not fetched CDDB entries
# are cached locally in $CDDBLOCALDIR

# If NOSUBMIT is set to y, then abcde will never prompt asking if you
# wish to submit your edited cddb file.

# If NOCDDBQUERY is set to y, then abcde will never even try to access
# the CDDB server; running abcde will automatically drop you into a
# blank cddb file to edit at your leisure.  This is the same as the
# -n option.  NOCDDBQUERY=y implies NOSUBMIT=y.

# Select here if you want to use the locally stored CDDB entries.
# This is useful if you do a lot of editing to those CDDB entries.
# Also, other tools like Grip store CDDB entries under $HOME/.cddb,
# so they can be reused when ripping CDs.

# List, separated with a comma, the fields we want the parsing function to
# output. Defaults to YEAR and GENRE, for a complete list of fields provided by
# The fields are not case sensitive. Actually, "y,g" will work as fine as "Y,G"
# or "YEAR, GENRE"

# Specify the style of encoder to use here -
# oggenc, vorbize - for OGGENCODERSYNTAX
# lame, gogo, bladeenc, l3enc, xingmp3enc, mp3enc - for MP3ENCODERSYNTAX
# flac - the only supported for FLACENCODERSYNTAX at the moment
# speexenc - the only encoder for SPEEXENCODERSYNTAX
# mppenc - encoder for MPPENCODERSYNTAX
# default is a valid option for oggenc, lame, flac, speexenc and mppenc.
# Currently this affects the default location of the binary, the variable
# to pick encoder command-line options from, and where the options are
# given.
MP3ENCODERSYNTAX=lame                     # Specify encoder for MP3
FLACENCODERSYNTAX=flac                    # Specify encoder for FLAC
AACENCODERSYNTAX=fdkaac                   # Specify encoder for AAC
OPUSENCODERSYNTAX=opusenc                 # Specify encoder for Opus

# Specify the syntax of the normalize binary here - so far only 'normalize'
# is supported.

# CD reader program to use - currently recognized options are 'cdparanoia',
# 'icedax', 'cdda2wav', 'dagrab', 'cddafs' (Mac OS X only) and 'flac'.

# CUE reader syntax for the CUE reader program to use.
# abcde supports 2 CUE modes: 'mkcue' and 'abcde.mkcue' so you can set the
# MKCUE variable accordingly. The 'abcde.mkcue' uses an internal
# implementation, without the need of an external program.

# Specify the program to convert a CUE sheet back to a CD disc ID for CDDB queries.
# Select between '/path/to/cue2discid' (provided as an example) or
# 'abcde.cue2discid', implemented internaly.

# Keep the wav files after encoding. Set it to "y" and remove "clean" from
# the list of default actions, since we purge the temp directory as default.

# Track padding: force abcde to pad tracks using 0, so every song uses a two
# digit entry. If set to "y", even a single song encoding outputs a file like
# 01.my_song.ext

# Define if you want abcde to be non-interactive.
# Keep in mind that there is no way to deactivate it right now in the command
# line, so setting this option makes abcde to be always non-interactive.

# Specify 'nice'ness of the encoder, the CD reader and the distmp3 proc.
# This is a relative 'nice'ness (that is, if the parent process is at a
# nice level of 12, and the ENCNICE is set to 3, then the encoder will
# run with an absolute nice value of 15. Note also, that setting these
# to be empty will result in some default niceness increase (4 in tcsh
# and 10 using the bsdutils' nice).

# Paths of programs to use
LAME=lame                                 # Path to MP3 encoder
FLAC=flac                                 # Path to FLAC encoder
FDKAAC=fdkaac                             # Path to the AAC encoder
OPUSENC=opusenc                           # Path to Opus encoder


# Options to call programs with:

# If HTTPGET is modified, the HTTPGETOPTS options should also be defined
# accordingly. If HTTPGET is changed, the default options will be set,
# if HTTPGETOPTS is empty or not defined.
# for fetch (FreeBSD): HTTPGETOPTS="-q -o -"
# for wget: HTTPGETOPTS="-q -nv -O -"
# for curl (MacOSX): HTTPGETOPTS="-f -s"

LAMEOPTS='--cbr -q0 -b256 --strictly-enforce-ISO --add-id3v2 --clipdetect'                                         # Options for MP3
FLACOPTS="-f --best --qlp-coeff-precision-search"   # Options for FLAC
FDKAACENCOPTS='-b256'                               # Options for fdkaac
OPUSENCOPTS="--vbr --bitrate 128"                   # Options for Opus


# Actions to take
# Comma-separated list of one or more of the following:
#  cddb,cue,read,normalize,encode,tag,move,playlist,clean,default
#   encode implies read
#   normalize implies read
#   tag implies cddb,read,encode
#   move implies cddb,read,encode,tag
#   playlist implies cddb
# An action can be added to the "default" action by specifying it along with
# "default", without having to repeat the default ones:
# ACTIONS=default,playlist
# The default action list (referenced as "default") is defined in the following
# comment:

# CD device you want to read from
# It can be defined as a singletrack flac file, but since it might change from
# file to file it makes little sense to define it here.
# If we are using the IDE bus, we need CDPARANOIACDROMBUS defined as "d"
# If we are using the ide-scsi emulation layer, we need to define a "g"

# If you'd like to make a default location that overrides the current
# directory for putting mp3's, uncomment this.

# Or if you'd just like to put the temporary .wav files somewhere else
# you can specify that here

# OUTPUTTYPE can be either "ogg", "mp3", "flac" or "spx", or a combination
# of them separated with ",": "ogg,mp3".
OUTPUTTYPE="mp3,flac,m4a,opus"  # Encode to 4 formats!

# Output filename format - change this to reflect your inner desire to
# organize things differently than everyone else :)
# You have the following variables at your disposal:
# Make sure to single-quote this variable. abcde will automatically create
# the directory portion of this filename.
# NOTICE: OUTPUTTYPE has been deprecated in the OUTPUTFORMAT string.
# Since multiple-output was integrated we always append the file type
# to the files. Remove it from your user defined string if you are getting
# files like ".ogg.ogg".

# Like OUTPUTFORMAT but for Various Artists discs.


# Define how many encoders to run at once. This makes for huge speedups
# on SMP systems. Defaults to 1. Equivalent to -j.

# Support for systems with low disk space:
# n:    Default parallelization (read entire CD in while encoding)
# y:    No parallelization (rip, encode, rip, encode...)

# If set to y, enables batch mode normalization, which preserves relative
# volume differences between tracks of an album.

# Enables nogap encoding when using the 'lame' encoder.

# Set the playlist file location format. Uses the same variables and format
# as OUTPUTFORMAT. If the playlist is specified to be in a subdirectory, it
# will be created for you and the playlist will reference files from that
# subdirectory.
# If you want to prefix every filename in a playlist with an arbitrary
# string (such as 'http://you/yourstuff/'), use this option

#Like PLAYLIST{FORMAT,DATAPREFIX} but for Various Artists discs:

#This will give the playlist CR-LF line-endings, if set to "y".
#(some hardware players insist on CR-LF line-endings)

# Custom filename munging:
# By default, abcde will do the following to CDDB data to get a useful
# filename:
# * Translate colons to a space and a dash for Windows compatibility
# * Eat control characters, single quotes, and question marks
# * Translate spaces and forward slashes to underscores
# To change that, redefine the mungefilename function.
# mungefilename receives the CDDB data (artist, track, title, whatever)
# as $1 and outputs it on stdout.
mungefilename ()
    echo "$@" | sed s,:,\ -,g | tr \ / __ | tr '#*%' '___' | tr -d \'\"\?\[:cntrl:\]

# Custom genre munging:
# By default we just transform uppercase to lowercase. Not much of a fancy
# function, with not much use, but one can disable it or just turn the first
# Uppercase.
#mungegenre ()
#    echo $CDGENRE | tr "[:upper:]" "[:lower:]"

# Custom pre-read function
# By default it does nothing.
# You can set some things to get abcde function in better ways:
# * Close the CD tray using eject -t (if available in eject and supported by
#   your CD device.
# * Set the CD speed. You can also use the built-in options, but you can also
#   set it here. In Debian, eject -x and cdset -x do the job.
# KEEP IN MIND that executables included in pre_read must be in your $PATH or
# you have to define them with full /path/to/binary
# Uncomment and substitute the ":" with your commands.
#pre_read ()

# Custom post-read function
# By default it does nothing.
# You can set some things to get abcde function in better ways:
# * Store a copy of the CD TOC.
# KEEP IN MIND that executables included in post_read must be in your $PATH or
# you have to define them with full /path/to/binary
# Uncomment and substitute the ":" with your commands.
#post_read ()

# post_encode
# By default it does nothing.
# You can set some things to get abcde function in better ways:
# * Move the resulting directory over the network
# * Compare results with a previously made run, for tests
# KEEP IN MIND that executables included in post_encode must be in your $PATH or
# you have to define them with full /path/to/binary
# Uncomment and substitute the ":" with your commands.
#post_encode ()

# If you'd like to have abcde eject the cdrom after all the tracks have been
# read, uncomment the following line.

# To encode on the remote machines foo, bar, baz, quux, and qiix, as well as
# on the local machine (requires distmp3 to be installed on local machine and
# distmp3host to be installed and running on all remote machines - see README)

# Set to 1,2, etc. to obtain some information about actions happening in the background
# Useful if you have a slow network or CDDB servers seem unresponsive.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Maybe if I just close my eyes and breathe...

I told her that I'd see her on Thursday, at Salsa. In truth, I didn't know whether I would be there or not. Recently, I've started to feel that I might turn my back on dancing for a while. To get away, and avoid too many questions, I said I'd be there. Being so economical with the truth didn't sit well with me.

As it happens, I'm feeling quite ill, and it looks unlikely that I'll be able to go on Thursday. The question is, if I was well, would I go? As much as I love dancing, there's a sense that, for me, it may be coming to an end. I have an event to attend in January, with a very good friend, but after that...
I've considered just going to that event, taking a break from dancing in the time between now and then; I've considered just going to the classes and taking a break from the other events; I've considered going to the events and taking a break from classes.

I can't honestly tell you whether I'm feeling like gradually reducing my involvement, with a view to leaving it behind at some point, or I just need to take my foot off the accelerator for a while. All I know is that, right now, I don't love dancing as much as I once did, and it's wholly based on feelings that I bring to the classes and events with me, due to things that have been going on in my life.

I recently recorded a video, in which I danced with a friend with whom I love to dance, and danced my favourite style with her. When I watch that video, I remember how that dance felt. The problem is, that dance reminded me of what it was like to fall in love with dancing, and too many dances now feel like I'm just going through the motions.