Thursday, August 11, 2016

Demon Puppies in the Dark

I've spent the vast majority of my life avoiding my demons; most of the time by running from them like an adrenaline-fueled Olympic track star. I've tried to shut them up with food, alcohol and a slew of other unhelpful means. I shoved them into the deepest closet I could find within myself, turned off the light and bolted the door shut. I go about my daily life, pretending they are not there. All the while they are clawing at the closet door, screaming, crying and trying to get free. I continue to do my best to ignore them and go about my life, pretending they are not there. Every so often, one will get loose. I've got to chase it down, sedate it and cage it back up. Then I go about my daily life, pretending it isn't there.

The process is exhausting and I've spent an unbelievable amount of my energy trying to keep those assholes under wraps. Trying to stop them from getting out of control and running the show can feel like a full time job some days. They sound so wild and unhinged in there. I can hear them gnawing at the door jam, scratching the walls and screaming words I can't make sense of. It's terrifying to listen to and it is no wonder I have always steered very clear of that closet.


One day, after a particularly epic flare up of my demons, I decided enough was enough. I could hear them wailing and going absolutely bonkers in there. I knew that what ever was going on in that closet, it needed to stop and I was ready for a fight if necessary. I flung open that closet door, flipped on the light, marched in and took a good look around. What I found in there shocked me to my very core. What I saw in that closet were not crazed, evil demons at all. Instead, I found a litter of neglected, scared and hungry puppies. They were not breathing fire and plotting my demise in there. In fact, I found them barely able to comprehend themselves let alone conceive of harming me. The conditions I had been keeping them in were an embarrassment. The tiny space, no bigger than a coat closet, housed several of these little puppies. They were crammed so tightly in there; crawling and fumbling all over each other. The walls and door were deeply etched with frantic, panicked claw marks. Their poor little bodies were bruised and emaciated. And finally, I heard their voices perfectly clear for the first time. What I had thought were menacing, feral screams were actually whimpers of longing to be seen and heard. They were cries for help and desperate attempts to draw attention to the intense, life-long suffering and neglect they have endured.



I stood there and watched as those poor little puppies ran around completely distraught. I so badly wanted to help them, to comfort them and make them feel better but I didn't even know where to begin. So, I decided to simply observe them; paying careful attention to how each one moves, vocalizes and interacts with the others. Once they realized they had my attention and that I wasn't going anywhere, they started to calm down a bit. This provided me the opportunity to start to learn a little bit about each one of them. It wasn't easy at first. In fact, it could be down right overwhelming and terrifying. There were times when they would all start yelping at once and I couldn't figure out what they needed. Sometimes, one of them would retreat fearfully to a corner of the closet and I would have to spend hours trying to coax it out. Other times they would all start crying hysterically for no apparent reason. I would get so frustrated trying to figure out why or what to do for them.


Regardless, I know that I alone am the only hope for these puppies and if I didn't help them, no body would. They are MY demon puppies after all - MY responsibility to care for. To this point, I had been doing a horseshit job and I wanted that to change. I made the commitment to do better and started by listening. When they cried, I immediately responded - even if I wasn't sure exactly what to do. I asked questions, challenged them and tried to give them comfort. It was a rocky process of trial and error, but getting to understand their inner workings was absolutely critical for being able to help them. I gave each one a name and spent time trying to understand who they are and what they individually need from me. Surprisingly, as time passed, I found that I had actually begun to develop a relationship with my puppies. Slowly, they have started to trust that I will respond to their needs and understand that they don't have to resort to screaming, clawing and crying. They are beginning to realizing that I am there for them and not only do I know how to help, I actually love them and really WANT to help.


Every once in a while, something happens and one of my pups starts really freaking out. I will admit, it kinda freaks me out too when that happens. I hear that old, familiar screeching and my initial reaction is to run the other way. However, I have to remind myself that I have nothing to fear and that I have the ability to manage it. There is a beautiful quote that I love from a song by Hozier, called The Arsonist's Lullaby. It says, "Don't you ever tame your demons but always keep them on a leash." I think it is important to remember that those wild little beings will always have wildness in them. It is part of who they are. I understand this because I understand them. My demon puppies will always have a wild streak that I won't ever be able to fully tame. However, there is no reason I can't teach them how to walk on a leash with me. They have important things to remind and teach me. They are teaching me how to love and care for myself in a deeper, more meaningful and healthy way. They remind me of where I've been in my life, just how far I've come and how much I've overcome. This wild bunch of puppies may have never been something I wanted or asked for. They were dropped off on my doorstep in the middle of the night, left to me by people from my past and were born out of traumatic experiences I've been through. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter where they came from. They live within me and therefore will always be mine to care for. They are mine; mine to walk through the crazy dog park of life with.


Initially, I hesitated to publicly name and introduce my pups. They are a very personal part of me that I don't always want to acknowledge let alone share with other people. But I decided I was going to anyways. It is a good challenge for me to be more open about my personal struggles and if airing them in this way is helpful to someone else, then it is completely worth it to me. So, without further ado, allow me introduce my own, personal litter of demon-puppies:

Tilly: Uncertain, unsure and has difficulty making decisions. Doesn't trust herself. Takes on too much and doesn't ask for help. Easily confused, overwhelmed and quickly shuts down emotionally.

Things she says: "I don't know what to do!" "You are not capable of this." "You don't even know what you are doing, just stop." "This is too much for you to handle." "Give up now before things get worse."

What she needs: Reassurance and support. She needs to be reminded that I am there to help and that she doesn't have to do everything by herself. She needs frequent reminders of how much she is actually accomplishing and to give herself credit for it. 

Leela: Child-like, fearful, anxious and mistrusting of others. Shy and withdrawn. Craves connection but keeps others away. Lonely, lonely, lonely. Can become despondent and desperate at times. experiences being frozen and paralyzed.

Things she says: "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry for even being alive." "Just leave me alone." "I'm completely alone and always will be." "No one understands you and they don't really want to." "It is safer to just be alone. No one can hurt you that way."

What she needs: Mothering and nurturing. Needs encouragement to engage in self-care and to do things that are fulfilling. She needs encouragement to reach out for support from others and to allow others to provide support to her.

Gash: Impatient, harsh and demanding of perfection. Angry and rage-full at times. Self-loathing, self-critical and easily frustrated. High, unrealistic self-expectations. Self punishing and self degrading. Lashes out at or responds to others without thinking first.

Things she says: "What the fuck is wrong with you?" "You are such a lazy piece of shit." "If you can't things right (perfectly) don't even bother." "You don't deserve love or people to care about you." "You really need to get your shit together." 

What she needs: Patience and understanding. She usually acts up when feeling out of control, uncertain or fearful about something important. Most often, she really just needs to be comforted and reassured that everything will be alright. It helps her to be reminded of her personal power and strength.

Fluffy: Feels it is best to be unseen, invisible and unnoticed. Feels vulnerable and exposed and wants to hide. Full of shame. Keeps self safe by remaining less successful, under the radar and fat. Self-sabotages to prevent being successful or becoming too good at something. 

Things she says: "Are you sure you want to do/say that?" "Keep your mouth shut." "Nobody wants your opinion because it's bullshit anyway." "Just stay home. The world doesn't really need you anyway." "You are fat and ugly, cover yourself up." "Who do you think you are?"

What she needs: Validation and recognition. She needs to be reminded to focus on the things that make her special and unique. It helps to point out specific characteristics, talents, gifts and abilities that she offers the world. It helps her to reflect on times she has helped others or been successful in achieving something she has worked hard for.

Morta: Hopeless and depressed. Sees only darkness and despair. Feels undeserving, worthless and like no matter what she does, it will never be enough.

Things she says: "What is the point of even trying? No matter what you do, it will never be enough." "Nobody really cares about you or how you feel." "Fuck it all. Just give up already." "It would best if you were not here. You have nothing of value to offer anyway. Maybe you should just die." 

What she needs: Perspective. She needs to be reminded to find and focus on points of gratitude and love in the world around her. She often acts up when she is overly tired, stressed or hurt. When this is the case, she needs space and time to herself. She needs to sleep and do things that are self-nurturing.



Just as a final note, I want to say that I hope I have not given the impression that facing, figuring out and healing your personal demons is simple. I've only just scratched the surface and shared a fraction of how deeply my puppies' wounds go. My intention was to offer a different perspective on something we all experience with hope of making an absolutely terrifying experience, a little less scary. Love to you and your puppies always.

Friday, February 12, 2016

I Did Another Thing I Said I'd "Never." MN Regional Pole Competition 2016

Ever since learning there was such a thing as pole dance competitions, I said it was something I would never do. Competition with others is never something I've really ever been into. Of course, I like winning at stuff - who doesn't? But there is something that happens to me when I get into a competitive mindset. It starts a cascade of negativity in my brain that inevitably leads to self defeat. I am prone to perfectionism which has been a very destructive force in my life. Competition sparks loads of harsh self-judgement, criticism and doubt within me. It gives a megaphone to my feelings of unworthiness and all I can hear is that voice telling me about all the ways I am not good enough. On top of that, I really don't have the desire to be "the best" at anything. I want to be MY best but not at the expense of outdoing others. That just has never really been my thing.

When I heard that Minnesota was hosting its very first regional pole competition, I had mixed feelings. There was part of me that was intrigued by what the experience of it might offer me. There was also the appeal of being apart of our very first pole competition, which is a landmark event for the pole community. Then, there were also the parts of me scurried away and hid in fear at the very idea of competing. It was those scared parts of me that I found particularly interesting. In a way, I wanted to help those parts of me see that it might not be so bad; that just maybe I could do this competition in a way that didn't prompt a my brain to erupt with self defeat. In essence, I saw an opportunity for self growth which is what ultimately lead me to plop down my registration fee and officially sign up.

One important thing to realize about pole competitions is that the judging is very subjective. There is a judging rubric and outline for the different technical aspects they look at. However, there is so much room for subjectivity.

One of my judging sheets

It was really cool that each judge provided specific feedback for each competitor. I found mind incredibly constructive and very helpful! I completely agreed with the suggestions given to me.

I am in no way suggesting that the judges pick favorite competitors and give higher scores them on purpose. I am talking about the uncontrollability of being human. Maybe the song choice of a competitor happens to be particularly moving to one judge. Naturally, they are going to have an overall different response to the piece and it will certainly affect the way they judge it. It's a totally normal, human occurrence that can't be predicted or controlled. This is only one of many examples of things that influence judging: mental distractions which cause a judge to zone out or miss parts of a routine. Physical distractions; they have to pee really bad and are having a hard time focusing. You get the point. This is something I thought a lot about when making the decision to compete. I realized that truly, there was no sense in getting perfectionistic over a routine that might simply rub a judge the wrong way. I felt very conscious of the fact that I was entering a competition with a very human judging element and it wasn't worth making myself crazy over something I have no control over. That actually really helped me let go of my incessant need to do it the "right way" in order to best please the judging panel.

I made the choice to revamp and old routine I'd previously done at a showcase. I felt good about having a solid place to start from and choreographing my competition routine was relatively easy. I chose to stick with tricks, spins and dance moves I felt completely comfortable with so that I could do them well under pressure. I felt good about the time I spent solidifying my choreography and six weeks before the competition, I had a well constructed and memorized routine.

Unfortunately, life decided to happen and I had a really difficult time dealing with it. My grandma passed away almost exactly one year to the day of my father's death. Same family, same cemetery, too many similarities. I felt so much grief, it was overwhelming. Toss in the emotion of all that during the holidays and it was difficult enough to shower and leave the house let alone train my ass off for a competition. In any case, the result was a beautifully choreographed and memorized routine...in my head.

I had barely practiced more than 4 times over the six weeks leading to the competition. I was physically out of shape and could especially feel it in the cardiovascular area most. I am not super proud of that at all. What I am proud of is the fact that I did that competition anyway. About four days before the competition date, I had very serious thoughts about dropping out all together. When I shared this with my husband, he asked me, "Bottom line - Do you want to do this competition? Would you regret it if you didn't do it?" My responses were "yes and yes." Then, very matter-of-factly, he said "Then there is no reason you can't do it. You have every ability to do this if you really want to." He believed in me and that's what I needed most at that moment; a reminder of my personal power. It helped me believe in myself and ultimately practice a few times in preparation for the big day.

I decided to purchase the professional video recording of my competition routine as a momento of my experience. I have watched it several times and given the circumstances, I really do feel good about it. I see places where I could have held poses longer, where transitions could have been smoother and where I can tell that I want to just plain collapse from being out of breath. It was kinda hard to believe that I came in just about 4 points shy of 3rd place. Parts of me wishes I could do it over again and compete with a routine I feel like a rock star about. Maybe someday. While I don't have any immediate plans to compete again in the future, I have certainly learned by now to never say "never."

Backstage, anxiously awaiting my turn!

Here is the video of my reworked Game of Thrones competition routine that I'd love to share with you. Thank you for reading about my journey along the way to it.


Friday, January 8, 2016

The Jello Pit of Shit and Building a Bridge

It can be a super weird thing to understand how something you love so much can cause you to feel intensely negative feelings - literally sending you spinning into behavior that is completely counterproductive to what you truly want in life.

I've felt this in so many areas of my life but never experienced it more intensely since discovering the incredible world of pole dance. When I am dancing, I feel more alive and than any other time. I experience my body in the most positive way. Dance has connected me with a community of amazing people who are kind, supportive and unbelievably inspirational.

Amazing, right? Absolutely! But why then, would I find ways to interrupt that experience? Why would I shut down physically and feel as if my body is moving through jello when it's time to practice or go to class? Why would I chose not to attend community events where I ALWAYS leave feeling inspired and connected? At times, it has been absolutely maddening to try to untangle and understand. I've gotten so angry and frustrated with myself at times that I've considered just quitting dance all together. Luckily, something inside just won't let me. But I am still left with the unanswered question of: "Why?"

The answers I came up with seemed pretty obvious to me: I am a lazy person who lacks ambition. I am a flake who can't live up to the commitments she makes. When I took these keen observations to my therapist, she said, "Why in the world are you being so hard on yourself!?" Uhhhhh, because it's clearly true.

Then she used the phrase, "trauma response" with me. As a psych nurse, I am very familiar with this term and see it in action at work all the time. I care for people who have been through some of the most horrific experiences you can imagine and I see the way they act when something triggers or tugs at their traumatic experiences. However, I have never looked at my own behavior in the context of trauma response. As a child, I was never locked in the attic and denied food for weeks. I was never hit or sexually abused. I wasn't exploited for money and didn't started using drugs or alcohol at age 13. I was never homeless or lacked basic physical needs.

When I pointed this out to Kate, she gently reminded me that "trauma" doesn't always refer to the physical experience of abuse. It can be very emotional in nature; insidious and subtle. I knew this intellectually, but was completely unaware the ways in which this was very true for me. We talked about this over the course of a few sessions as I wrestled with believing my experiences could actually be qualified as "traumatizing."

As I was mulling over this idea, an image came to my mind. I felt compelled to draw it out so that I could try to process it visually. It's no Picasso but this is what was in my brain:



I tried to make what I was feeling a tangible concept, to make sense of what happens almost every time I want to do something dance related or self-nourishing. I feel myself on one side of a wide cavern filled with all the horrible feelings I have. I can see all the good stuff that I want in my life on the other side and I want to get there so badly. The problem is, every time I want to get to the good stuff, I have jump into that pit and try to swim through the ick. If I'm lucky, I make it. Most of the time, I wind up so exhausted from trying to get through the murk that I give up and sink to the bottom of it. 

The bottom of the pit sucks. I am saturated, soaking wet with all the bad feelings that its hard to know where I stop and the icky wetness begins. It's almost impossible to know what is truly me and not the feelings I'm stuck in at the moment. 

As I looked at this visual concept, it slowly started to make more sense to me. My experiences growing up taught me that I did not deserve the good stuff unless I was perfect. Perfection being completely unrealistic, I felt myself helpless and trapped: I could stay on the side where I am all alone and disconnected or I jump into the pit and start swimming. Either way, I wasn't even getting close to the good stuff I so badly desire and feeling terrible in the meantime. 

So, how does a person get there? There has got to be a way. I know that because I've been to the good stuff before. I just seem to lose my way there. I got to thinking more about this when the image of a bridge came to mind. Yes, a bridge! That's what I need! But how the hell do I build it? What does it need to be made of? I began to jot down ideas on the picture as a bridge:


I really connect with this concept and it has helped me understand myself so much better. Since I've stopped denying my painful experiences as "not that bad" and accepted the fact that they were indeed, traumatic, I've had a much better time coping with the pit feelings. Everything has not been magically fixed, but I now have a practice to turn to when I notice I'm starting to slip into the pit. I know that by reaching up and grabbing hold of the bridge, I can try to pull myself out of it. If I can engage in one of the positive parts of that bridge, it helps lift me out and puts me on the path to the good stuff.

More than anything, I want to stop denying myself access to what makes me feel good and gives my life meaning. I know the more I practice this, the more easily I will be able to get there. I need to keep reminding myself that just because I am not able to construct a perfectly happy public mask, doesn't mean people don't want me around. Just because I'm not "Super-Happy-Go-Lucky-Stef" 100% of the time, doesn't mean I should just stay home because no one wants to see me like that. My experiences may have taught me that I am unworthy: that I simply don't deserve success, happiness and fulfillment. However, the more I challenge this, the more untrue I see that it is. I am not the product of my traumatic responses. What I thought were serious character flaws of being lazy and flaky, are actually not even really there. When I am in that response, I literally freeze and shut down physically and emotionally which makes it impossible to show up for my life the way I want to.

The clarity I've gained with this has been life-changing. I guess you could call it an epiphany of sorts. I have so much hope as I begin this new year and it feels magnificent. I want forge a new path to the good stuff and truly believe I deserve to be there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

10 Years Is A Long Time!

In July of 2005, I stepped foot inside of Abbott Northwestern Hospital as an employee for the very first time. Looking back, I never could have predicted what a significant role that one single place would eventually play in my life. Within the walls of this institution, some of the most pivotal moments of my life have taken place. Its weird to think that a 2 block radius in heart of Minneapolis would be the stage where both these highs and lows would play out over the next 10 years.

Abbott Northwestern Hospital - Minneapolis, MN
My first position at ANW was as a Nursing Assistant on the Medical/Surgical/Neurological Intensive Care Unit. I worked on that unit for three years while I was in nursing school. It was while working on this unit that I got to know some of the most talented nurses in their specialty. One nurse in particular, Pam, became my mentor. I remember learning so much from her as she would patiently and colorfully explain her process of doing a dressing change, starting an IV, identifying heart rhythms and countless other medical procedures. She was encouraging, funny and very hard working. But the thing I admired most about Pam was her deep compassion and how she dealt with the families of her patients. I watched as many other nurses (who were no less technically good at what they do) brush families aside without much acknowledgment or consideration. I overheard phone calls to family that were rushed and curt. There is no exaggeration in using the word "Intensive" with this unit because it truly is an intense place to work and people are very, very ill. However, it always warmed my heart to see how Pam was SO caring and considerate of patients and their family. Even when she was incredibly busy, she made time to answer questions of family members and provide supportive reassurance. It is something I carry with me to this day and try emulate in my own nursing practice.

During the summer before my last year of nursing school, I applied for Clinical Nursing Internship at ANW. I was absolutely jazzed when I got news that I was accepted for a position on the Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit. It was my plan at the time to pursue a career as an ICU nurse and I learned more than I ever imagined during my time there. It was the first time I did CPR on a human being and the first time I actively participated in a Code Blue. It was also my first taste of working 12 hour night shifts and I quickly learned that nonsense schedule was not for me! However, during the 3 months of my internship, I felt more like a nurse than ever before and the skills I learned have served me well during my career so far.


If someone would have told me that I'd end up working as a mental health nurse, I probably would have cried with laughter. However, during my last year of nursing school I found myself absolutely fascinated by the mental health lectures. Our nursing program did not have psych clinical rotations as part of our experience. So, being the true geek I am, I sought out additional clinical experience in mental health. My instructor was able to set it up for me to go in on my own time and do observation shift on an inpatient mental health unit. After that day, I knew I had found my groove. I was incredibly fortunate to be hired on as an RN at Abbott Northwestern in mental health right out of school. I've been working on the same unit for 7 years now and have not looked back!

In the spring of 2009, just 9 months after becoming an RN, I made the decision to pursue Gastric Bypass surgery. After doing a bunch of research and looking into different programs, the decision was a no-brainer after finding out that Abbott Northwestern's was one of the best. I had my surgery on the morning of April 15, 2009. A friend of mine who worked in surgery helped me select my surgical support team and I felt so much comfort in my decision to go under the knife at ANW. My surgery went incredibly smoothly and the nursing care I received afterward was exceptional. I felt very confident going into my surgery there and was not let down by any part of my experience.


In the fall of 2009, I met my first husband, Simon who happened to be born with a serious, chronic heart defect. I was actually quite relieved to learn that he went to Abbott Northwestern for all of his cardiac care. I had met several of his doctors during my internship back in 2007 and knew exactly what great hands he was in. Due to his heart complications, Simon was in the ER and admitted to the hospital at least 6 time during the first 8 months we were married. In the spring of 2011, he was admitted to the very Cardiac Intensive Care Unit where I did my internship just a few summers prior. He bounced between step-down units and the ICU for almost two weeks. However, he was on that ICU when I got the phone call saying he had gone into cardiac arrest. I knew the doctor who ran his Code Blue. I saw her walk out of his room just as I was arriving and I knew her well enough to know that it hadn't gone well. She was the one who told me that my husband didn't make it. Hearing those words from her, of course I was completely devastated. But I can tell you that there wasn't an inkling of a doubt in my mind that they did everything they could for him. My mind flashed back to the dozens of codes I had seen run by this particular doctor and I absolutely knew that he had gotten the best care possible.

I think of all the people I've met within these walls. I've made lifelong friends and have had to work with some of the most difficult people I've ever encountered. I've felt the amazing pride and exhilaration on days I've done great work. I've also left that place wondering why the hell I became a nurse in the first place. I have laughed and been amused beyond belief. I built my nursing career here and have grown into a person I feel proud to be. I've also had my life crumble before my eyes and felt devastation I've never known. Everything I've gone through there has molded me in a way that I could have never imagined possible. I am deeply grateful for my time here I would not trade the experiences that I have had within the walls of Abbott Northwestern Hospital for anything.


The timing of this report couldn't be more perfect. Just as I was finishing this blog post, a coworker of mine posted this news. Not only does it support my praise for ANW but it also speaks for itself:

U.S. News & World Report ranks Abbott Northwestern Hospital #1 in Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS 07/21/2015--Abbott Northwestern Hospital retained first place ranking for the Best Hospital in the Twin Cities and second best in Minnesota in the U.S. News & World Report's 2015-16 Best Hospital rankings released today.
In addition to the state and regional rankings, Abbott Northwestern Hospital also received national recognition in five specialty areas: Cardiology and Heart Surgery (#37); Geriatrics (#40); Gynecology (#10), Neurology and Neurosurgery (#46) and Orthopedics (#19). Fewer than three percent of the nearly 5,000 hospitals that were analyzed for Best Hospitals 2015-16 were nationally ranked in even one specialty.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trouble - My Sixth Pole Solo

Last night, I did my sixth solo routine at our studio's showcase. The song I chose was "Trouble" by Lily Kershaw. I think this was an appropriate title, given I had a fair amount of it during this routine! Let me explain: You see, the ability to grip and hold onto the pole is absolutely fundamental to being able to do anything pole dance. It sounds simple and obvious, but as pole artists, we are FOREVER battling elements outside out control that determine our ability to grip. The temperature and humidity of the environment plays a huge role in the skin's ability to grip the pole. A person's body chemistry and response to the environment is also a huge factor. Some people's bodies don't sweat enough or they have very dry skin. Other people have the opposite problem, which makes it equally difficult to hang on. I happen to have this problem to a very annoying degree. From day one, I've been trying everything to manage my sweaty hands. It's frustrating as hell!

I've tried a wide variety of grip aids on the market. My collect has evolved into what I affectionately call my "Sticky Bag." On certain days, I don't need to use much grip aid but on some days, I could literally bathe in it without a single bit of benefit.

My "Sticky Bag"

I've been really lucky because I've had pretty good "sticky" days for all of the performances I've done up until this point. Unfortunately, my skin decided not to cooperate with me for last night's performance. My hands were really, really sweaty and no amount of grip aid was going to help it.

It is disappointing when you have been putting a lot of work into something only to have something outside of your control mess it up. I had a few things planned for my solo last night that didn't happen due to not being able to safely grip. I has a pretty kick-ass spin planned during the routine but as I was gearing up for it, I could just feel that I wouldn't be able to hold on. I did my best to pull it off into something else mid-execution. The same thing happened with my first trick combination. I had to switch it up mid-execution because I could feel myself slipping.

On the positive side, I was able to safely complete my routine which I feel makes it a success. I was able to go with the flow and not allow the grip issue to fluster me too much. Also, the parts that went as planned felt great! AND I was able to achieve my two goals which are to have fun and be in the moment. Here are practice videos of the spin and trick combination that didn't happen in addition to the full performance from the showcase: