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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Life, Love and Zumba

I love to dance. It's not unusual for my husband or kids to walk in on me in the kitchen or laundry room shaking my bootie. Of course they catch me by surprise because I can't hear them with my iPod blaring. It’s a little embarrassing to be caught in the act, but not as bad as the time my husband came home early to find me singing with wild abandon to the Evita soundtrack while running on the treadmill. (Have I ever mentioned that I have an active fantasy life? I was performing on Broadway.)

When I say I love to dance, I mean I really, really love to dance. At wedding receptions, I will dance to every song. Chicken dance, electric slide, hokey pokey, limbo, which really isn't a dance, but it has its own music. I don't discriminate. A two minute break is about all I can stand, and usually I'm still dancing in my seat. I don't even care if I look like a fool. Dance to me is a pure expression of joy, a celebration of life. It makes me feel good.

Back in my club days, I lived on the floor. Of course my club days are over now, and I no longer have a desire to go. Well, maybe if they opened the doors at 6 pm so I could be home by 10:00... Yes, I have become a total nerd. Thanks for asking. But I would like to see some of the nightlife crowd party until 4 am then get up with kids at 7 o’clock. And that’s if they sleep in! Believe me, there is less pain involved with observing a reasonable bedtime.

Since the clubs are out for me and most of my friends and family are already married, I have to be content with taking dance classes. I've taken tap, jazz, ballet (blech) and clogging. At the moment, I'm taking belly dancing and love it! But probably my favorite class is Zumba, which is mainly a mix of Latin American and African dances.

I take Zumba at the Y on the weekends. The instructor is a full-figured Latina who is full of life, and she’s an amazing dancer. Every week I’m so happy when I’m in the class. It may sound odd, but the 50 minutes of Latin music and Salsa steps inspires me. Well, it’s not really the music and dancing so much as what I notice when I’m in class.

Here are a few things I’ve come to realize over the last few weeks:

1. Confidence is an attractive trait. I love how our instructor accepts and is comfortable with her body type. I think some of us get caught up in how our body looks instead of what incredible things it is capable of doing. She is the largest woman in the room, and she is by far the sexiest. (I think we all want to be her when we’re dancing.) So that makes me wonder if believing we are beautiful in facts makes us beautiful. I think it might. Do you think this same philosophy can be applied to writing? We believe in our greatness and so we become great?

2. Unless you give your best effort you're cheating yourself. I feel irrationally irritated by people in class who only exerts about a fourth of the effort. I don’t know why I care. I just do. It wouldn’t bother me if they didn’t know the moves and were trying to catch on, but that’s not the case. These people exhibit the energy of a wet noodle. If you’re going to do something, whether it’s an exercise class or writing a book, why wouldn't you give it your best effort? And then push yourself a little beyond your boundaries. This is how we grow, develop new skills and gain a sense of accomplishment. Holding back only hurts you. (And apparently pushes my buttons.)

3. Sometimes perfection sucks the fun out of something. A couple of weeks ago we had a substitute instructor. She was right on with cues, executed perfectly timed steps and shouted out the appropriate words of encouragement. But she seemed so focused on teaching class "the right way" that it ceased to be fun. I heard mumblings about people being tired when we usually dance beyond the time limit. Grim faces were reflected in the mirror. A couple of people even left early. Why? The instructor was doing everything perfectly, but she wasn’t having fun and in turn neither were we. I guess if there is a lesson in any of this it might be to not allow ourselves to become so caught up following the rules that we suck the life out of our work.

I don’t really have a question to ask today, but I’d love to hear your thoughts either building on one of my Zumba epiphanies or one of your own random musings about life, writing or the joy of dancing.


  1. Oh, there is a lesson in there, indeed! For years I have heard "Life is about the journey" - heck even Aerosmith belted out "life's a journey, not a destination" in their song "Amazing."

    Only recently, after leaving a career where I nearly killed myself in pursuit of the elusive "top" have I realized what this phrase meant to me. My current goal - to publish a book - has led to the completion of four novels. I'm not published yet but I continue my journeyy with passion.

    Even though to the untrained eye I appear to be working part-time with no end in sight, I know what I'm after. And I'm loving every minute on my way there!

  2. Jessica,

    You and I must be cut from the same cloth. I decided about three years ago to jump in and pursue my dream. Definitely keep at it because you will achieve your goal. And think of all the books you'll have ready to go! That's awesome!

    Thanks for stopping by today. :)

  3. What a fun post, Samantha!! I haven't taken Zumba yet, but I should probably give it a try. We have classes at the gym - I'm just intimidated by it for some reason, even though I can salsa, rhumba and meringue my a** off! LOL!

    I agree with everything you said, especially the part about having fun vs. being perfect. Some people are just naturally fun, and they can inspire you to do just about anything, no matter how grueling. My favorite spin instructor is a major kook! She sings, she laughs, she shouts out in excitement. When we did the Spin for Life event at our club, she showed up to lead our group in drag!! A giant lime green afro topped her head, and it was brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing your Zumba story today...I think I'll try out a class this weekend :)

  4. Samantha--love the post. It hits me in many ways...I was taught by my dad, and I really believe it to my core...if you are going to do something, do it RIGHT the first time. Give it your all, none of this half assed stuff. I just live by that, have the passion and do what you want and try and let the rest go (realistically, of course). BUT, I have said a million times, money and job are not the end all, be all. When we moved back to Madison from CT, I went to work at B&N. I made 1/3 of the wage there that I did in CT and my husband made about the same. YET, we had so much more! More money, more time, more happiness!! It can be done. Lastly, ZUMBA sucks:) I did try it and I did give it my all, but you know me...I am not a dancer:) HAHA. I mean, I am a dancer in my mind but not coordinated enough to actually pull it off, so another life lesson. We also must know our limits:) HeeHee. A Zumba dancer I will never be...now a swimmer or runner...hmmmmmmmm--Keep up the great posts. Love them (and yes, I am supposed to be working so don't tell).

  5. You are a very good dancer too. I'll be a little intimidated by your new moves:). I told a friend once we probably got married because of dancing together...Mommas you gotta tell those boys to get thier dance on....Kevin

  6. In my heart I'm a great dancer, but in real life, I'm just okay. LOL But it doesn't matter, because I love to be on the dance floor having fun, especially with other people who feel the same way.

    And you're right about confidence being an attractive trait. If only confidence wasn't so elusive sometimes!

  7. Jerrica,

    Your spin instructor sounds like a hoot! I would definitely need a fun instructor if I was going to go to spin classes. Hmm... Maybe if I showed up in a lime green fro... :)

    If you try the Zumba class you'll have to let me know how it goes.

  8. Annonymous (wink, wink),

    You twisted my words and used them against me! Zumba does not suck! LOL. Now stop eating bon-bons and get back to work. Mmwaa!

    So glad you stopped by. You really do give it your all, which is what I love most about you.

  9. Kev,

    The fact that you danced with me and helped me find home for the kittens won me over for sure.

    But don't worry about the moves. I'm no Napoleon Dynamite. :)

  10. Donna,

    In your heart is where it counts most. I bet we would have a great time dancing.

    Thanks for stopping by. It's always great to hear from you. :)

  11. Great blog, Samantha. You made me want to dance...and I never dance :)

  12. Clarissa,

    I thought for sure you must belly dance after writing about it in your current mss! :)