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. ❤

The Now List

A few weeks ago I got to thinking about the popular concept of a Bucket List. It seems the trendy thing to do to make a list of the all places you want go and all the things you want to do before you die. I, like most people, have a list of aspirations. However, as I was reading a book about visualization that urged me to write a bucket list to materialize the things I want in my life… I really got to thinking about just how odd of a concept it is.

A list with a deadline as finite as death but simultaneously as open ended as sometime before I’m dead. We don’t know when we are going to die. It could be tomorrow or it could be 70 years from now… so there is no pressing deadline on this Bucket List, especially not for the young and healthy- who automatically assume they’ll live forever… but the reality is, the deadline could be sooner than you think.

The problem with the concept of the Bucket List, for me, was that it made me way too aware of my mortality; Like I was racing against the grim reaper to go skydiving. I think the concept is good, a list of things to do in your life; it’s the open ended nature of it, the “sometime before death” part, that wasn’t sitting right for me. 

So, I created an alternative. A more “why procrastinate? live this life RIGHT NOW type of list.” I decided I would only put things on it that I could conceivably accomplish in the next 12 months. I think this will be more effective in getting me to actually do the things I want to do. It also helps keep my list from being bogged down and from having me pining over a home I want to buy (that I know I won’t realistically care to purchase for several years) and stuff like that. Instead I can focus on the things I want to do, right now, today, as a 26.5 year old woman.

One of the problems for me is that I dislike the word “someday.” I don’t know why but it always has sounded to me like “never.” I don’t have much patience for waiting around for things to show up. I like to decide what I’d like to do or have and get moving towards that goal right now, as opposed to someday. Below is the (tentative) list I have established of the things I’d like to do this year.

1. Get Involved in more charities again

2. run a half marathon (the nike women’s marathon, to be precise)

3. read more books (at least 1-2 a month)

4.Travel more. I don’t care where to really.. just travel even more than last year.

5. Plan an entire wedding under 10 thousand dollars (bc im thrifty)

6. Double my income from last year

I kept it to those 6 things because they are very time consuming endeavors and I don’t want to be spread too thin. I want to enjoy the process of accomplishing these things and be able to relish in the act of checking them off the list.

Since I had this revelation, about 2.5 weeks ago I have already begun to make strides in checking these things off. I went to Amazon, the only reasonable place to purchase books, and ordered 3 books I have had my eye on for some time. On a side note, the books should have totaled $50.00 but I saved $40.00 by ordering them off Amazon and got all 3 plus shipping for $10.00! I am already 1/3 of the way through Blink, my first book of the month. Man, I love a bargain.

I also registered with a charity website and went to feed the homeless in downtown LA while Matt was out of town. I feel very passionately about charity, because I feel very passionate about gratitude. I think a lot of people talk about gratitude, but you never understand the word thankful until you give back. Its hard to understand how good your life is until you are face to face with those who have less. I have met the most inspirational people while doing charity work. People with positive hearts and unfettered spirits in the face of the most grim seeming circumstance. I have learned to love and appreciate life and not to sweat the small stuff. I get back just as much as I give when I volunteer. I also strongly believe that the most important thing in this life is what we can do for others; How we can contribute to the lives of those around us. Its the most gratifying thing to help and to comfort and be empathetic and make a difference in someone’s day. In the coming month I have signed up to chaperone a school dance for adults and children with down syndrome, autism and other disabilities; I will be running a 5k for pancreatic cancer, volunteering for an afternoon at an animal shelter  and continuing to serve food to the homeless at St. Francis. As long as I have extra hours in the day, I am happy to spend them serving others.

Matt and I have also found a great wedding venue! With a lot of diligent searching I was able to find a place thats a great value AND its a tented reception like I have always wanted! With some creative do-it-yourself projects I think I can definitely keep the whole event well under my budget.

 

Today was my first day of training for the 1/2 marathon (13.something miles) and I shocked myself. I am NOT a runner, not by any stretch of the imagination. The most I ran as a kid was from the refrigerator to the couch so I didn’t miss my show after the commercial break (this was before TiVO kids.) Today I ran 3 miles in under 40 minutes, like it was nothing. I could have done 4. I ran one mile in around 12 minutes, which I am told is pretty good. I am excited to keep pushing towards this goal and to do something I have never done before. I want to try something that is way outside my comfort zone. Something that will take my stamina and fitness to the next level and I think this is just the ticket. Now, to stay within my 1 year time limit I will run any half marathon if it comes down to it.. but my goal is the coveted Nike Women’s Marathon. I like the idea of being surrounded by other powerful women and of course the idea of a firefighter in a tuxedo handing me a Tiffany necklace at the end of the whole thing haha.

I will use this blog to keep you posted on these upcoming projects and let you know how it all pans out. Stay tuned 🙂