Saturday, August 16, 2014

Becoming a Zumba Mami

It’s hard to believe it’s been six months since I completed my Zumba instructor training. I started teaching my first class in May and now the summer session has come to an end. It’s amazing how time flies by. Since the year is half over I find myself reflecting on where my fitness journey all began.

My love affair with Zumba started two years ago when I joined a gym for the first time. It was the first class I took and I was quickly hooked. It wasn’t because I was that great at it. In fact, I felt pretty awkward trying to mimic the rhythms at first. Even though I was a dancer I had never danced in that style before. It didn’t discourage me though. While a part of me was unacquainted with the new way of moving another part of me took to it easily, as if I had always done it. Moreover, it freed me. I think if I had resumed the ballet and modern styles I was trained in, I would’ve been too technically focused and missed the bigger purpose in moving. Dance at this time in my life isn’t necessarily about perfect execution or proper alignment and technique. It’s about freedom, expression, and connection- connection to my forgotten self.

You can probably guess where the story went next. I loved it so much I decided to learn how to
teach it. Now, I have a few months of teaching under my belt and a few gigs on the horizon this fall. What excites me is that this return to my first love has taken priority in my life. It won’t just be an extra thing I squeeze in if I have time. I’m intentionally ordering my life so that I can do more of what I love. I’m not na├»ve. This reprioritizing doesn’t come without some sacrifices. I’m also mindful of the need to maintain balance and rest so this outlet remains a joy and not a burden. All in all though, I’m following my bliss, as they say. With each step of doing what I want to do and not just what I think I should do I’m inching toward my true purpose.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A brave new world

Well, now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag I suppose I can finally share a transition that’s been months in the making. No I’m not pregnant, nor am I engaged or buying a home. For some reason, that seems to be women’s big news but not mine at this point. I did quit my job though and I just finished up my last day at work. In some ways it feels surreal not to be signing on for another school year of counseling college students. In other ways, it feels like every decision I’ve made this year has brought me to this point…this place of venturing out into a new land.

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll see a clear theme to 2014. It seems like every week I took on a new challenge or adventure of one form or another. I learned something about myself or about life. I attained every personal goal, however big or small. None of this is to brag on myself but rather to highlight how hungry I’ve been to attain the life I really want. It just finally clicked for me that if I only have one life to live I want to live it to the fullest and do what makes me happiest. Why should passion only be part time?
So here’s what’s next. I’m going full steam ahead into the fitness and wellness industry. I realized from my own fitness journey that the same things I love about counseling, I also love about exercise. They are both about relationships. You get to know people over time. You connect with them and to some extent do life with them, even if it’s just an hour a week. People enter your presence one way and then hopefully, by the end of your time, they’re feeling better and more hopeful.  I still plan to counsel clients. I feel called to the work of alleviating suffering and believe I’m gifted at it. It’s just that I hope to balance that work by promoting the good, not just fixing the bad.

There are still some internal battles that I fight regarding this transition, specifically in terms of legitimacy. You don’t really need a degree to teach fitness and certainly not a PhD. I wonder what it might say about me that I have zero aspirations to own my own practice and do hardcore clinical work the next 30 years. Is it because I can’t take it? Am I not good enough? If I ventured more into prevention work would I not be seen as a real clinician by those in my field? And if I don’t want to be a full time therapist or a full time professor, why did I incur a six figure loan debt in the first place? These might seem like reasonable questions to ask, but don’t be fooled. No matter how logical they sound, they are fears and doubts, plain and simple. I say that because if I entertained any one of those nagging questions for too long than I might reconsider my decision to leave. My friend gave me a helpful visual for when I started to freak out (a frequent occurrence during this time of transition). She urged me not to feed my fears because they’re always hungry. They always want snacks. Now, when I get scared I think of a creature or gremlin holding his hand out for food and I quickly shift gears.

The facts of my situation are what they are but here’s the truth. I was created in God’s image to do good works which He prepared in advance for me to do. Did it catch Him by surprise that I’d be making this move now? Absolutely not. He sees the end from the beginning and causes me to move and act according to His good pleasure. He knows what will serve the greater good, fulfill me, and bring Him glory and He continually works out those three objectives in every detail of my life. That’s the truth. It’s a truth that encourages and grounds me. I still feel afraid sometimes. When I do I listen to this song that’s become an anthem for me and many others. Courage is feeling afraid and doing what you have to do anyway. So, when fear comes I remind myself that He makes me brave and enables me to do what I think I can’t do.