Don’t count yourself out

I was almost content to count myself out. I can’t tell you how many times in my career and in my life in general where I seriously declined to bet on myself and my own potential. A few years ago I almost made the mistake of counting myself out fully, moving on to a “safer career” and giving up on something that I truly wouldn’t be myself without. Now I am writing this so that you learn from the mistake I almost made, so that you don’t make it yourself.

I had the divine gift of being born into a home and family that supports me all the time, sees endless potential in me and always sees the best in me, even when I struggle to see it in myself. My mom literally doesn’t think there’s thing on this earth that I can’t do. If I called her tomorrow to tell her I was going to become an astronaut she’d say “Beam me up, Scotty.”

What I should have learned from all this a bit earlier in my life is that my mind is my own worst enemy when it comes to blocking my own potential. However, it was not and is not always as easy to see myself as the limitless creature my mom knows me to be.

Why is that?

I think a lot about the quote “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” I think about it mostly because, well…you can’t fail. What is failing? Life isn’t an exam with a Scantron sheet where there are answers and grades and a pass/fail system. You can live in the woods with a small amount of money and modest possessions and pass away early in life but be indescribably happy and do great things—is that a failure? You could live an opulent life into your 90’s with a big home and a secure job but wish you had pursued a passion – is that a failure? What constitutes a failure? I think maybe the bigger or more valid fear is “what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t be labeled a failure by others?” …right?

I think we need to find the balance between using the people around us as a mirror – listening to their opinions and feedback and sifting through it for valuable information – and also remembering that ultimately, only we ourselves know our own divine purpose in this life and that we ourselves have to be the ones to trust that instinct and answer to that calling – regardless of anyone else’s feedback or opinion.

I know doing that can be incredibly difficult, especially when the opinions come from people you love and respect like your family, friends or significant other. I made the mistake of letting someone’s opinion of me and my ability color my feelings about myself and my worth and it made me so sad and miserable that I nearly got lost completely. I stifled all my own power and stopped being myself. I stopped giving to myself and therefore became empty. I almost stopped existing altogether in an attempt to feed someone else’s ego and life. I allowed that to go on. It took me a while to accept that I allowed myself to be stripped of my power that way; but it was my doing.

Why? Because truthfully, I was afraid. What if I went for it and looked stupid? Wouldn’t everyone constantly be comparing me to everyone else? Every other dancer, every other instructor? The answer was yes. I probably would look stupid occasionally, in my case maybe more like semi-daily lol and people would probably compare me to everyone else constantly- but, so what? Is that worse than giving up and not ever going after something you feel in your gut is part of your purpose on this earth? Trust me the agony of regret is worse than anything else.

About 5 years ago Millennium asked me to hop in last minute and sub a class. I remember thinking, “are they crazy?“ There is NO WAY I am ready for that. I went to talk to someone I trusted and got a confirmation of my self-deprecating belief. Basically, they also felt I was way out of my league. So, I declined to accept the opportunity to teach that day at Millennium. It would be several years before I ever had the opportunity to teach there again.

A few years later I accepted, I should say reluctantly accepted, but accepted nonetheless, an offer to teach at a different studio in LA, one with a bit lower profile. I still caught flack about not being ready and there not really being any point to me teaching my own class from this trusted opinion in my life… and I almost let that opinion stop me from going to teach my first day.

However, I had been a dance teacher since I was 7 years old. I started by teaching all my barbies the hottest moves and when that got old and I needed bodies I moved on to my uncooperative friends and sometimes my incredibly unamused cat. By 12 I started assisting with the baby class at my dance studio and then my love and passion for teaching started to grow into an obsession. I have never claimed to be the best dancer in the world, but I have a genuine love and passion for teaching, one that I know gives me a voice that can help to guide others toward their highest, truest selves as artists and hopefully also as humans.

I genuinely care about every soul that stands in the room to train with me, whether it’s a class of one person or one hundred people. I watch my students, I learn from them, I check their facial expressions to see how they’re feeling and what they need. I LOVE to see people succeed and have break-throughs and to be full of love and happiness within this art that we all feel so connected to. If I can contribute to that joy and passion in any small way, I am all about it. I take pride in being consistently prepared, knowledgable about my choreography and treating every single person in my classroom with respect. It is an honor to me that people are spending their hard earned money and valuable time to train with me, it has been since the first class that I ever taught and it will continue to be until the last one I teach.

When I stepped into the room to teach my first official class in Los Angeles, something clicked. I felt the universe shift and everything inside me that I had been stifling for so long bubbled up to the surface and I couldn’t continue to make myself small after that. My voice started to become louder and louder and I made a promise to myself that the next time Millennium called, I wouldn’t count myself out. It has been two years since I said “yes” to subbing my first class at Millennium, since I said “yes” to myself and said “yes” to the universe as it led me towards the role I know I was born to fill. Now I finally can say I have a permanent place on the faculty in this place that I once ran from, once felt unworthy of. I did a lot of work to shift my understanding of my worth and to earn the ability to accept this position. I will never take it for granted.

Nowadays my classes are full, wall to wall with students who are bursting with such positive energy. They yell and support each other, the make friends, they laugh, they go through the rough class days and the struggles but always come back guns blazing ready to tackle it again next time. I can’t explain how honored, humbled and fulfilled I am to be able to do something I love every day and to hopefully create a classroom where people feel inspired, motivated and most importantly, loved.

The universe has a funny way of betting on you when you won’t bet on yourself. When you’re clinging to a security blanket (be it a person, addiction, bad habit, etc.) and hiding from your purpose the universe will find a way to set that security blanket on fire to try to redirect you toward your path. This is why we need to trust that oftentimes a relationship ending, being let go from a job, falling ill – all things that seem like losses- can be important steps toward your greatest win. The process doesn’t always look pretty but sometimes it is necessary to strip away the comfort of a toxic connection or something that is hindering you from truly reaching your highest path in order to create room for new blessings to blossom.

Let us not get caught up comparing ourselves to others. Let us not get caught up in the negative or limiting things people may say about or to us or in worry about being labeled a “failure.” Instead, let us flourish in the opinions of those who appreciate us and who see the unyielding power within us. May we be lucky enough to find someone that sees us the way my mom sees me and if not, may we ALWAYS be that person for ourselves. My promise to you, is if you ever step inside my classroom, I will be that person for you. The one who sees your potential and never lets you count yourself out. ❤

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The Social Responsibility Monitor (the world’s most important non-existant profession)

Every day, all over the world, every moment of the day, there are people acting a fool. They are standing on the escalator blocking the whole thing so you cannot pass; they are taking a dance class dressed for a music video shoot taking the whole thing WAY to seriously; they are cutting you in line; they’re letting their children run like wild animals through target, they do not have their money ready when they get to the drive thru window (even though there is a little sign that clearly requests that you have payment ready); they are cutting you off in traffic or coming to a full stop for no apparent reason before merging onto the parkway. These irresponsible members of society are everywhere and there is no one to keep them in check. So I propose this, we institute a “social responsibility officer” to monitor these not necessarily unlawful, but definitely unacceptable and annoying behaviors and alert the citizen to the infraction… and if no one would like the job, I nominate myself.

This week alone I have witnessed 3 noteworthy examples of social irresponsibility that went completely unpunished.

Case 1: THE PRICE-CHECK HOLD UP

So here I am at Target, minding my business, attempting to purchase this adorable watch that was on a sale for $8.00 marked down from $16.00. I’m standing behind three other customers on line number 6. The customer at the register currently has gathered every single baby seat that they sell in target, at least 8-10, and is asking the lady at the register how much each individual one costs. Now… here’s my problem(s) with this scenario: 1. There is a person at Target whose entire job is to put those convenient little price tags above or below EVERY single item in the store. That’s all he does all day is print little tags and slide them behind clear plastic holders so the consumer can read for themselves how much something will cost BEFORE they put it into their cart. 2. If you prefer not to read that little sticker, or prefer not to believe it is accurate, Target has gone as far as to put little personalized price-checker scanny machines all over the store, so that you can bring your 200 baby seats up to the price checker.. and scan them yourself.

Target has gone to these great lengths to avoid situations exactly like the one this socially inept individual has created. All these price checking mechanisms are around so that you don’t go up to the register and hold up a line full of people while harassing the poor underpaid cashier to price check every single item in your cart. So which baby seat did she choose? She did not even buy one.

CASE 2: THE FAST FOOD LINE DEBACLE

Matt and I find ourselves in line at Wendy’s because Matt has purchased a little keychain that entitles him to a free frosty with every purchase. We are at a “fast” food restaurant waiting in line for the better part of 12 minutes (in which time I could have grilled my own damn burger at home but that’s not the point) behind 5 or 6 other customers. Now, I don’t mind waiting in line but THIS I do mind. While we are waiting in line we all have the privilege of staring at this massive, bright menu complete with photos of fries, greasy burgers and other crap we shouldn’t be eating illuminated by a yellowing halogen bulb. So how should ones time be spent while waiting in line to place their order? By deciding what menu selection they would like to clog their arteries with… at least thats what one would think to be the most common sense pass time. However, at least 3 of the people got up to the front of the line, looked over at the person they were with and started to discuss what food they might like…”would you like the chicken sandwhich..” “the blah blah blahhhhh…” This conversation should have been going on during the time which you were waiting in line but had not yet reached the front of the line. This unprepared, non-sensical behavior is why we have lines in the first place…and if I was an “SRO” I would have stepped in.

CASE #3: THE PARENTAL CHECK OUT

We have all seen it.. a parent standing by while their kid licks the sidewalk, screams in public for no reason, punches an old man in the head or what have you. When we see it, we are all wondering the same thing– why doesn’t that parent step in and teach their child how to behave in public so they don’t grow up to think its cool to throw an entire bag of popcorn on the floor for no good reason. Maybe that parent has had enough for that day, or just given up in general but in any case I think it takes a village and someone should step in and handle it… and so this week, I did- in my first unofficial test as a “Social Responsibility Officer.”

Matt and I were on Hollywood Blvd leaving class around 9pm when a guy walked by with his young, possibly 6 year old, daughter on his shoulders. This child was screaming the word “no” 400 times a minute for NO REASON whatsoever.. and while she was on her father’s shoulders and walking in a group of 5 other relatives no one stopped to tell her to be quiet… so, I did. I yelled “hey”, shot her my meanest mom stare, and put my finger up to my lips to signal “be quiet”… and do you know what happened? She stopped yelling.