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 Post subject: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2001 9:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Over the past 25 years, it has been my livelihood to find out things and write about them in ways that all readers can understand. I think perhaps the most challenging topic I ever covered in this regard was both the physical and legal aspects of deep tunnel sewers, which at the time it was my 'beat' was the largest public works project in the history of Wisconsin.<P>Having developed and survived cancer, and knowing that I was an extremely unlikely candidate for this disease (I received my diagnosis the same weekend that my grandmother died -- on the eve of her 102nd birthday), I decided to get active. I found after several sessions of a support group founded to educate women, that most of them were older than I and gathered each month to eat food, engage in doctor bashing, and talk about 'mystical' ways of healing. They were not interested in doing the gritty work of researching and educating themselves and others. After participating in a fashion show with these women, I dropped the group and did what my surgeon suggested. He said I asked questions that were far beyond what he usually heard and that I would be far better off surfing the Net and conducting research for myself. <P>Over the past several years, I have done just this, with an emphasis on many of the detrimental aspects of our modern environment. I haven't been able to talk much about what I have learned because most people are scared or bored by or skeptical of all of this information -- and often overwhelmed. People also indulge in ostrich-like behavior -- "you're going to get whatever you're going to get, so why worry?" Then when it happens to them or their families, there's panic and disbelief. <P>Ignorance, laziness, apathy -- these traits are far too common when it comes to living in a way that promotes our health and that of our fellow man. Another huge argument is that we can't control everything, so what good does it do to make the few changes that we can? <P>Because we have to do the best we can. If we don't and we die, as we eventually all will, then we don't leave much of a legacy. As many of you know who visited Grace's topic on what the Internet is for, I spoke about experiencing a reaction to someone's excessive use of perfume in class, manifested by chest tightness and pain, as well as disorientation and agitation. As I prepared to leave the class, I said, "I need to ask a favor of this class. Please do not wear perfume. I feel like I'm choking and I have to leave. Perfume doesn't belong in a ballet studio." <P>The teacher, who knows a great deal about ballet, but apparently not much else, was cruel and abusive. He said that if he had not heard of this, then it couldn't be. Several people have contacted me, one in tears, asking me to return, saying it won't be any fun without me. (How much fun is it for me to gasp for breath?) Even though the teacher whom I have looked after like a father for the past five years banned me from class (said if I ever returned he would give me back my money), these people want me to, essentially, go to him and ask for absolution. <P>Although I am very sad about ballet being taken away from me at this time, I also, over the past 48 hours, have developed a sense of peace about what has happened in that the circumstances were beyond my control, and that my parents raised all of us to work hard, improve our minds throughout our lives, and have the courage to speak up for our convictions. <P>I now realize more than ever that being an environmental watchdog is not going to win me any popularity contests, but that didn't stop great people like Rachel Carson from carrying on in their work. In the past two days I have also read some information that I urge everyone to take a look at:<BR> <A HREF="http://www.ourlittleplace.com/noperfume.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.ourlittleplace.com/noperfume.html</A> <P>as well as<BR> <A HREF="http://www.ourlittleplace.com/chemicals.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.ourlittleplace.com/chemicals.html</A> <P>There are many other fine sites out there. This information isn't meant to scare people into submission or paralyze them, but rather, to be the catalyst that induces all of us to seek the truth and live it, even if only in little ways. <P>After all, one of the reasons we dance is to feel good. Not to harm ourselves in the process or harm others. <P>Thank you all for your terrific encouragement and support. In no small part, you have contributed to my feeling today that class or no class, I will always be a dancer. I will let you all know if and when a solution presents itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2001 11:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - you will always be a dancer. Moving feet does not a dancer make.<P>I had an experience of someone in the ballet studio dropping an entire bottle of amonia on the floor in the bathroom. After a while I started gagging, as did two others. The teacher wanted us to continue to dance - !! The three of us just had to leave. It was the only time in 31 years of ballet class that I have EVER walked out. As the three of us left, the teacher made fun of us. However, we were not banned from coming back, which we did - the next day.<P>If I were you I would not ask for "absolution". There is also a law suit in there somewhere if you wanted to go that route.<P>As I understand it under the law you can ask for all sorts of proactive solutions to individual physical needs. In this case,you were asking for a passive "fix" - one that could very easily be accommodated. <P>The teacher sounds like a sad man.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2001 5:09 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 290
Location: Ontario, Canada
I find myself at a complete loss for words here - it is so sand and unfortunate that one of your passions in life has treated you this way.<P>My daughters and I had a remotely similar experience...that of being told to leave a studio for reasons that really made no sense. In our case the owners/artistic directors decided that they didn't like the mom and as a result didn't want the kids either. This was bad enough and actually quite hurtful at the time....However it pales in comparison to your story.<P>Our thoughts are with you...as Basheva says, you will always be a dancer. Keep dancing, if only in your heart for the time being.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2001 9:38 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Thank you mom2 and Basheva, and all the other people who have expressed empathy and support since this episode occurred last Wednesday morning. Already, I am feeling like I have been out of class forever ...<P>One thing I didn't want to mention at the time, because you have to understand that, basically, I am a very healthy and resilient woman, but there was something that compounded what happened even further, and if this revelation can instill even more empathy for each other, I hope it is worth bringing up:<P>I have experienced, over the past several years, a great deal of uterine pain and discomfort due to fibroids, benign ovarian cysts, and most recently, thickening of the uterine wall. This has resulted in tests, tests and tests, including biopsies. I have chosen to live with this, rather than 'have my parts removed' because, as my doctors tell me (a breast cancer survivor, and therefore, also someone who will have to be very careful about estrogen replacement therapy at the point in my life that this becomes necessary) the estrogen that my body produces itself is better than what I could take artificially. So, I have transcended -- with much success -- the episodic pain and discomfort through regular ballet classes. I have no doubt that I am one of many dancers who has dealt with pain and medical obstacles through dance. It can be such a healing tool, both physically and emotionally.<P>The morning that I was taking class and experienced the chest tightness was during a time that I was overcoming a good bout of pain. So you see, it was kind of a double whammy. And then to be chastised for it, well, that was salt in the wound.<P>I told my fiance over the weekend that I was starting to feel like so many things I love are being removed from my life (my social life also revolved around my ballet class friends). As has been our practice for the past several years together, we went to church Sunday night. It was at a college university, and the cathedral was packed. We got there early, as usual, to make sure that we had a seat. This church was crowded, mostly with college people, but I didn't smell a thing. Then, 15 minutes into the service, a woman came in with her children, squeezed in the pew in front of us, and -- you guessed it -- just about drowned us in her perfume. <P>We got up quietly, and went to the back of the church to stand for the rest of the service. Me and my abdominal discomfort ... and then the priest says, "Now, we're going to have a confirmation service." I looked at my fiance in tears and said, "Do you think God will understand if ..."<P>He said, "Say no more. We're out of here." <P>He then took me out to eat, and instead of religion, I got a huge plate of pasta fettucine with crawfish, crabs and shrimp. It was not as comforting as ballet class, but it ran a close second.<P>This morning, I walked several miles (a good sign -- I was pretty torn up last week). And I'll do my own barre until whenever. (And return for more of that fettucine).<P>


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2001 11:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 774
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Ach. I have posted a batch of sunny feelings in your direction - I hope they get there soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2001 5:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 16, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 242
Location: Washington St.
Christina: I'm so sorry that this has happened to you! You don't know me, but I want to tell you that you have my best wishes in regaining your ballet life, and finding healthy, perfume-free environments to live in.<P>Chemical sensitivity is a tragic problem, and one that people are often insensitive to. I think that a lot of people want to ignore it or blame it on psychological problems because it would be very, very hard to change our lifestyles in a way to significantly reduce our chemical use.<P>One of my close friends has MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) and it is terrible! He can't go in most buildings because of the cleaning chemicals, and now he can't go outside because of pesticides and pollution. He has tried living in different apartments, hotel rooms, back yards, homeless shelters, friends' houses, tents, and has moved from city to city, etc., etc. and everything makes him sick (including cars, and sometimes he's even allergic to his own clothes!). He is very bright, and wants badly to be an artist (cartooning/drawing), but spends all his life trying to find a chemical-free place in the world where he can just exist. <P>Something needs to be done to alleviate the chemical sensitivity problem, but I fear society as a whole won't change until so many people have been hurt that we have no choice but to pay attention. So: Let's pay attention! Sooner, rather than later!<P>Katheryn<P><p>[This message has been edited by katheryn (edited January 27, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2001 8:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 2708
Location: Seattle, WA USA
Christina--I am appalled by this teacher's behavior. This "old school" tight-a** attitude is like something from a bad movie. But sadly, no, it's your reality. I recommend that your either try a different ballet class, or try a yoga class in your area. If you would like more information about different types of yoga (want to know if you're at all interested before I give you info about different styles of yoga). Yoga is an excellent practice for healing, relaxation, meditation and general body wellness. As in anything else, you have to make sure you have a good teacher and compatible style for your issues and particular body...let me know, or e-mail me.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2001 9:03 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Thank you all for your well wishes and suggestions!<P>For the first several days, I was pretty (make that "very") despondent. First, I would not be able to take ballet class (and that's a pretty big "first"); second, I would miss a lot of people; and third, I (and my fiance) took such good care of this teacher for so long. To find out he was capable of so much arrogance (e.g., "if I have not heard of this, it can't be so")that he would actually choose to create for his own perverse amusement some kind of melodrama about this instead of seeing it as a courteous plea for some consideration, hurts most of all. I'm also disappointed about the muteness of my fellow classmates.<P>However, over the weekend, I began to feel some peace about this, as I (1) began to focus on the things I was actually tired of about this class but had suppressed and (2) also realized that this was a situation I had little or no control over, in that had the scene played itself out again, I could not have done anything any differently.<P>I want to emphasize to everyone out there that one of my better qualities as a dancer is my stamina, and that this perfume sensitivity has just recently surfaced, so I wasn't a 'weakling lying in wait.' Moreover, when I began to research this topic, I was truly shocked and enlightened about just why people like me are having these reactions. To find out that the perfumes of today have no relation to the perfumes of yesterday, in that the former are comprised of many toxic chemicals that the FDA has not regulated is DISTRESSING and something we should all be aware of to protect ourselves from the manipulators of Madison Avenue.<P>For six days, I have performed about 10-15 minutes daily of free weights for my arms, port de bras exercises, and some basic foot work (rolling through the plie to releve and reverse), followed by about 3 miles of brisk walking. I am also changing residences (within the same block) so I am busy with reviewing and paring down of possessions (always good for the soul), and one block from my house is a work crew completely rehabbing a building that has a sign out front reading "Coming soon: Uncle Joe's Pilates Studio." (I must admit, the "uncle" part intrigues me.)<P>When I was in college in the 70s, I took two semesters of Yoga (very new then) from a well-respected, very handsome and vigorous man, named Ed Schetter. His son, Peter, went on to become a professional ballet dancer. I did enjoy it at that time (it was only offered for a year) and I faithfully performed the "morning routine" including stomach whips in various positions. After a time, I gave away the instruction card, having memorized the routine, and would love to get my mitts on that routine again. I have not seen it duplicated anywhere. <P>It is probable that once I get settled in my new home, I will opt to take up Yoga again. However, I will miss doing that "moving in a big way" across the floor, and look forward to the day when I can resume that particular aspect of dance.<P>Again, thank you all. Your comments helped a great deal in overcoming this ordeal. Happy breathing to everyone.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2001 9:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Thank you all for your well wishes and suggestions!<P>For the first several days, I was pretty (make that "very") despondent. First, I would not be able to take ballet class (and that's a pretty big "first"); second, I would miss a lot of people; and third, I (and my fiance) took such good care of this teacher for so long. To find out he was capable of so much arrogance (e.g., "if I have not heard of this, it can't be so")that he would actually choose to create for his own perverse amusement some kind of melodrama about this instead of seeing it as a courteous plea for some consideration, hurts most of all. I'm also disappointed about the muteness of my fellow classmates.<P>However, over the weekend, I began to feel some peace about this, as I (1) began to focus on the things I was actually tired of about this class but had suppressed and (2) also realized that this was a situation I had little or no control over, in that had the scene played itself out again, I could not have done anything any differently.<P>I want to emphasize to everyone out there that one of my better qualities as a dancer is my stamina, and that this perfume sensitivity has just recently surfaced, so I wasn't a 'weakling lying in wait.' Moreover, when I began to research this topic, I was truly shocked and enlightened about just why people like me are having these reactions. To find out that the perfumes of today have no relation to the perfumes of yesterday, in that the former are comprised of many toxic chemicals that the FDA has not regulated is DISTRESSING and something we should all be aware of to protect ourselves from the manipulators of Madison Avenue.<P>For six days, I have performed about 10-15 minutes daily of free weights for my arms, port de bras exercises, and some basic foot work (rolling through the plie to releve and reverse), followed by about 3 miles of brisk walking. I am also changing residences (within the same block) so I am busy with reviewing and paring down of possessions (always good for the soul), and one block from my house is a work crew completely rehabbing a building that has a sign out front reading "Coming soon: Uncle Joe's Pilates Studio." (I must admit, the "uncle" part intrigues me.)<P>When I was in college in the 70s, I took two semesters of Yoga (very new then) from a well-respected, very handsome and vigorous man, named Ed Schetter. His son, Peter, went on to become a professional ballet dancer. I did enjoy it at that time (it was only offered for a year) and I faithfully performed the "morning routine" including stomach whips in various positions. After a time, I gave away the instruction card, having memorized the routine, and would love to get my mitts on that routine again. I have not seen it duplicated anywhere. <P>It is probable that once I get settled in my new home, I will opt to take up Yoga again. However, I will miss doing that "moving in a big way" across the floor, and look forward to the day when I can resume that particular aspect of dance.<P>Again, thank you all. Your comments helped a great deal in overcoming this ordeal. Happy breathing to everyone.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2001 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 26, 1999 11:01 pm
Posts: 149
Location: New York NY USA
Christina, <P>I was on my way out of the office when I tuned into cd.com to browse the site. I've never been into this thread and I intended only to peruse it and move on when I saw your posting. I was riveted. <P>I have come across a lot of unfair people in the dance world and still continue to meet some very egocentric people, but never have I heard of someone as cruel as this teacher you describe. But I wouldn't let the whole incident plague you longer. Your old teacher is really just someone to laugh about and move on from. I understand that yoga, pilates and all those other remedies can't replace the magic of dancing to music in an environment that invites you to aim for perfection at the same time as you positively bloom, like a flower, to the music.<P>So why not find another dance studio? You might meet yet another egocentric teacher who's interests are limited to the four walls of a ballet studio, BUT you will have now learned not to give that teacher a special place in your heart while you lap up his/her instruction and enjoy dancing. You might also meet a brilliant selfless teacher who gives you every reason to trust him/her.<P>I got burned a few times when I made my teacher my 2nd mother/friend/coach all in one. It seemed, at the end of the day, all she seemed interested in was the notoriety my supposed talent could bring her in a system of teaching that rewarded teachers according to their students' marks. I eventually decided to move on, physically and emotionally, and to simply seek my own satisfaction. I've since had a wonderful and satisfying career in dance and everyday that goes by without dance in it is an exercise in restraint. (I really must go back to the studio soon.)<P>My mother has breast cancer and it's serious. But through her change of attitude -she's gone from assuming (or expecting) everyone is kind and beautiful to seeing people (blemishes and all) as they are and accepting them - she overcame harsh therapies to lead a normal, relatively painfree life. She no longer takes comments too personally and she cuts herself more slack. I hope you can recover from this little set back to find satisfaction and health too.<P>Oh, on the subject of perfume -- I asked a colleague in my office if she would stop spraying her perfume in my presence and she was flabbergasted. I explained that it had a negative effect on me and she was still flabbergasted. It's funny how some people can't seem to share the world we live in, isn't it Image<P><BR>------------------<BR>[This message has been edited by Jennifer]<BR><p>[This message has been edited by Jennifer (edited January 31, 2001).]

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[This message has been edited by Jennifer]<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2001 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Jennifer, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about this incident and its effect on me. This topic actually started in another thread, which is where I wrote about it just hours after it happened, and also explained that there is no other place for me to study ballet here. <P>There are two schools in this area. This was one of the two. The other is where I taught for almost 10 years. The woman who owns that studio suffered from depression (she had a very different background from mine) and was also easily manipulated by other people. When she first met me, she latched on to my enthusiasm and asked me to get in on the ground floor of running her school (which had opened less than a year before we met). I was very happy to teach and market, and my children's classes just boomed. We kept opening more and more classes up. I also tried to be a good friend to this woman -- she relied on me for advice about many things, including going shopping with her and helping her choose clothes, etc. My children always seemed happy and productive and did so well with performance and behavior on parent's days and in recitals, and I enjoyed my dealings with all the parents and siblings, etc., as well. As the years went by, it seemed that the differences between our teaching and personality styles became obvious, however, and the children (and their parents) were not as happy when they progressed to higher levels to study with her. Instead of "accentuating the positive," this woman became more morose about my likeability factor. About a year ago, I learned that she was dealing with this by telling a few people that I was possibly molesting my students. For someone who cherishes children as much as I do, she could not have started a more heinous rumor. I left at the end of that semester, having dealt with her dysfunction long enough. <P>Several months later, a mother spotted me outside a store and began talking about how much I was missed. I explained to her that I just couldn't deal at the time with the ugliness of the situation and simply wanted to remove myself. She told me that all of my students had either left the school or were planning to at the end of that year, and that they had not understood my departure, thinking perhaps that I had gotten cancer again. One by one, my phone began to ring, with moms talking about my being the reason they had done there and to let them know if I ever opened my own school. <P>So, you see, there is more than one dysfunctional ballet teacher in my area. The sad thing is that they are both damned good teachers. They just weren't such good people. Yup -- I've had more than a few knocks in the past several years. I have faith, however, and just as I would not change anything that has happened thus far ("what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger"), I now believe that there are better things to come. At least I sleep well at night.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2001 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 05, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 3129
Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Christina, you seem like such a kind, genuine person and it is such a shame that people you have tried to help have eventually turned against you - i have had it done to me several times and although it hurts you do eventually learn to walk away and find better things and better people. I'm sure you will agree.<P>Unfortunately some people are threatened by genuine goodness and kindness. This is not to be mistaken by being nice all the time - good and kind people are normally quite honest about their feelings and feel it better to get out in the open any problems they have in a tactful way - like you did with your ballet class incident. I am the same I cannot leave a problem that I am worried about - I have to get it out in the open and this is not always the popular decision to make. Some people are unable to deal with it and react in the way your teacher did - (mockery) or as some of the other students did (turn a blind eye).<P>We all know here that you are a good and kind person - a very valued member of CD and I hope the support you have from fellow members has been of comfort to you. Nothing can replace the loss you feel from not being able to do something you love but I hope that from out of the blue something else will be able to take it's place.<P>Meanwhile I hope continuing to post is of some consolation to you.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2001 6:59 am 
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Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 255
Hi. I'm a bit late on this but I know EXACTLY what Christine went through. I am one of the people who is severely allergic to perfumes, colognes, and other scented products. What this means in real terms: no ballet, no concerts, no restaurants, no plays, no candidate's forums, no movies, no air travel, no hotels, no job involving public contact. <BR>By the way I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to some of the world's finest music, dance and theater and can't enjoy any of it. Only opportunity is the annual Stern Grove Festival, where performers, including SF Ballet, perform outdoors in Golden Gate Park. <BR>No one would say a person becoming ill from cigarette smoke is just making it up or has to get over it. Almost all indoor venues are now smoke free. But some of us still are excluded from virtually everything going on because of perfumes. Not only that, but some attendees at events figure they're not "really" wearing perfume unless you can smell them all the way in Seattle!


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2001 9:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Welcome to the board Crandc, it's a pleasure to have you.<P>I am very sensitive to smoke - I can smell it on the smoker's clothing as they walk by even when they are not smoking. I very quickly get a sore throat. It has been a blessing to me (I am in California too) to have smoking banned in all indoor spaces - and some outdoor spaces.<P>Fortunately I am not as sensitve to it as you are, and it is very difficult that you cannot enjoy so many activities which you love. There are some people who literally have to leave society and live quite alone because of these sensitivities.<P>Hearing stories like yours makes us all more sensitive to others around us - and that's a good thing.<P>Welcome to the board.


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 Post subject: Re: Banned from class for fighting to breathe
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2001 3:23 pm 
For YEARS, my gym has politely requested that no one wear perfumes or sprays on the premises. They say: "We Like the Way You Smell..." I absolutely adore perfume, but in many venues, especially ballet studios where the windows are often kept closed because those kids are supposed to be pumping iron, it can be a disaster...


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