As 2017 enters, I can’t help pondering 2016. A year is a long time and filled with many moments. It was clear to me this week that I needed to take one of those moments to reflect, appreciate and set myself free for the year ahead.
One year ago, I began taking private Hustle lessons. As I’ve shared in previous posts, I cried a lot in the beginning but thanks to Raul’s guidance, I kept going and competed in my first pro-am. I also danced Hustle poolside and made life long dance friends. I didn’t realize it then but every new step pushed me toward a clearer understanding of myself, who I was, who I am and who I expanding into.
A few months after the pro-am I realized I would not improve as a partner dancer unless I learned how to lead myself. I had been relying too heavily on my dance partners and felt as though I was always a half second behind their lead. So, I joined Yesenia Serratos’s SoHo Angel Team, a women’s Salsa based performance group. This was a first. I’d never danced with a group of women or attempted the sexy, eclectic dance moves Yesenia embodied.
Honestly, after a couple of team practices, I came this close (fingers pinched) to quitting the dance team. Traveling for my profession as an inspirational speaker and preparations for engagements were stressful enough. But, it was that little nagging voice saying ‘Aren’t you a little old for this?’ that really got to me. As the Angel performance came closer I felt overwhelmed and under practiced. But, with encouragement from Yesenia and the team, I made it for the SoHo Dance LA Winter Showcase, where six of us “angels” donned fishnets and red fringed skirts and performed proudly.
When I watched the showcase video of our performance I winced. I was still a half second behind and not only that, I was facing the wrong way at least once! After some hefty self-talk, my wince turned to a smile as I remembered how far I’d come in just one year.
The first half of 2016 was about allowing myself the indulgence of dance lessons, something I had not been able to afford while raising my children but after a year of returning to the work force and only one kid still at home, I was able to make dancing more of a priority. I started with affordable group lessons and progressed to pricier yet still affordable privates. It was my turn and I said, ‘Yes, please and thank you!’
The second half of 2016 was about allowing my body to move differently. Yesenia taught me how to engage my core with each step by pressing down from the hips. Doing so caused my rib cage to engage creating that sexy salsa sway which makes good dancers look effortless. Previously my ass had been the master of my moves but Yesenia taught me how to tame it, starting with her foot placement mantra “Ball-heel, ball-heel.” Raul had made me aware that I needed to use my legs to move myself and Yesenia taught me how. What a pair?!
As I became more comfortable with leading myself, I began wondering if my healthcare audiences would benefit from dancing. I added a mini Salsa lesson into my presentation and they loved it! There was something about witnessing entire hospital staff shaking their hips to the congas, bongos and trombones of Sonora Carruseles’ Micaela that set my heart soaring.
Seeing hundreds of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and techs of all kinds, belly laughing, dancing in the aisles of windowless conference rooms confirms the healing power of dance and my ability to lead. I may have been afraid to lead myself but I faced that fear. Now I lead some of the most courageous people in the world to celebrate who they are in a fun, uplifting way.
I shared this new discovery with a fellow student one day at SoHo and she said, “Raul has told me for years, ‘Dance parallels life.’” I nodded in agreement content with this new discovery. This past year, it seemed like every time I said “yes” to dancing more, my professional life grew. I was invited to share my inspirational message to more audiences than ever before. I had the sense that all those tears shed in the first half of the year had opened me up to more self-awareness and self-acceptance. In doing so, more speaking opportunities flowed in sync. In the first six months of 2016 I had two speaking engagements. The second half, I had thirty! Chicago, Michigan, Ohio, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Iowa, Florida and Ontario, Canada to name a few.
If I were to give 2016 a book title it would be Tears to Triumph by Marianne Williamson.
I’d call that a very good year! Wouldn’t you?
What fear have you overcome this year?
What book title would you use to describe 2016?
Share your discoveries and check out my brave new website!