Category Archives: Zumba journey begins

The 10th inning

Oh man, this week has been killer. Just real straight up gut busting hard.  If I didn’t know before, I now fully understand the meaning of manual labor.  I somehow agreed to teach 11 Zumba classes this week!  And Monday was a holiday, so we are talking about 11 full throttle high energy (the only way I know how to do it) Zumba classes in 5 days, including Saturday.  Who does that?!  …Ok, I guess people do it.  But rookie me – who just got licensed to teach in March, only 4 months ago – I have never done it before.

It sounded like such a good idea. I started out Tuesday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed in Flushing and made my way to Whitestone by the end of the day where I taught a class with the most beautiful view, facing the Whitestone bridge as the sun was slowly setting over the water, it was breathtaking.  I felt so great and on top of things by the end of Tuesday that I treated myself to a sugar free Italian icy at the Lemon Ice King of Corona.  Wednesday morning I woke up knowing I was going to teach 3 classes, but by afternoon had a 4th one added, two back to back in Forest Hills in the morning and then another two back to back in Astoria in the evening.  But still, I was slinging it, hitting it hard!  Thursday morning found me a little exhausted but still positive, 3 classes to bring that live energy to, first in Bayside, then a free class in Forest Park (that was almost rained out but alas, the show went on!), then off to Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn.  By the time I was headed to Brooklyn I found myself saying a quiet prayer calling on the universe for strength and stamina.  And it worked!  We rocked through that last class.  Friday morning, a break, thank goodness!  Friday evening in Jamaica, we busted out Zumba despite the rain…

But the real breakthrough came this morning in Astoria… Class number 10… At this point, my body, mind and soul all belong entirely to the Zumba gods for they are the ones getting me through.  There must have been at least 80 women in the room, all ready to get their Zumba on.  The music hits…and like Bob Marley says…I feel no pain.  And then IT happens!  There is a moment, during La Morena, when, in full on merengue swing, an energy just overtakes the room.  Everybody is in complete sync, the whole class of 80+ women are riding the same wave. I know it’s real cause I instantly get goosebumps all over and a chill – more like a thrill – runs through me.  This is it!  This is IT!!!  This is the feeling I’ve been looking for, this is why I do this!  It totally re-energized me and, I could see on the faces in the room, others were re-energized as well.

So here I go, off to class number 11!!!    \O/

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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Zumba journey begins


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Landscaping your path

In this world, it seems we are often buried under so many expectations imposed by others and by ourselves that it’s easy to lose sight of who we really are and what really makes us tick in the effort to be responsible bill-paying law-abiding adults.  I breathed a deep sigh of relief recently – a sigh I had been holding in for many years – when I finally openly accepted my reality, which is that I am passionate about international development and dance, that I am both an aid worker and an artist, and that these realities do not have to compete inside of me, but can actually exist in harmony and reinforce each other.  One big hurdle crossed, phew!

Well…as it turns out, finding your path is a very good start, but it doesn’t end there.  Apparently, that’s when the real work begins.  For starters, the twin demons of fear and doubt must be slayed.  And the path must be groomed in order to maintain it’s luster and shine.  I’d like to share with you a wonderful how-to guide for landscaping your path, from Paulo Coelho, that has been extremely useful to me:

1] The path begins with a crossroads. There you can stop and think what direction to follow. But don’t spend too much time thinking or you’ll never leave the spot. Reflect a lot on the choices that lie ahead, but once you have taken the first step, forget the crossroads for ever or else you will always torture yourself with the useless question: “did I take the right path?”

2] The path doesn’t last for ever. It is a blessing to travel the path for some time, but one day it will come to an end, so always be prepared to take leave of it at any moment. However enraptured you may be at certain landscapes, or scared whenever you have to make a great effort to go ahead, don’t get too used to anything. Neither to the hours of euphoria, nor to the endless days when everything seems so difficult and progress is so slow. Don’t forget that sooner or later an angel will appear and your journey will reach an end.

3] Honor your path. It was your choice, your decision, and just as you respect the ground you step on, that ground will respect your feet. Always do what is best to conserve and keep your path and it will do the same for you.

4] Be well equipped. Carry a small rake, a spade, a penknife. Understand that penknives are no use for dry leaves, and rakes are useless for herbs that are deep-rooted. Know also what tool to use at each moment. And take care of them, because they are your best allies.

5] The path goes forward and backward. At times you have to go back because something was lost, or else a message to be delivered was forgotten in your pocket. A well tended path enables you to go back without any great problems.

6] Take care of the path before you take care of what is around you. Attention and concentration are fundamental. Don’t be distracted by the dry leaves at the edges or by the way that others are looking after their paths. Use your energy to tend and conserve the ground that accepts your steps.

7] Be patient. Sometimes the same tasks have to be repeated, like tearing up weeds or closing holes that appear after unexpected rain. Don’t let that annoy you – that is part of the journey. Even though you are tired, even though certain tasks are repeated so often, be patient.

8] Paths cross. People can tell what the weather is like. Listen to advice, and make your own decisions. You alone are responsible for the path that was entrusted to you.

9] Nature follows its own rules. In this way, you have to be prepared for sudden changes in the fall, slippery ice in winter, the temptations of flowers in spring, thirst and showers in the summer. Make the most of each of these seasons, and don’t complain about their characteristics.

10] Make your path a mirror of yourself. By no means let yourself be influenced by the way that others care for their paths. You have your soul to listen to, and the birds to tell what your soul is saying. Let your stories be beautiful and pleasant to everything around you. Above all, let the stories that your soul tells during the journey be echoed at each and every second of the path.

11] Love your path. Without this, nothing makes any sense.


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Little gifts

One Saturday morning, I was rushing out of my apartment, a bit wound up by the intense weekend of ballet and Zumba that was ahead of me, wondering how I was going to make it through. On the elevator with me was a father and his daughter, a girl of about six or seven years old. She pulled a small piece of what appeared to be crumpled red paper out of her pocket. Her dad, seeing the paper, assumed it was trash and took it from her lovingly, as one would take a snotty tissue from a child figuring they don’t need to be burdened with garbage.

The little girl looked up at her dad and, saying something in a language I didn’t understand, reached out her hand asking for the crumpled paper back. She pulled on one end of it and flapped the wings on the world’s tiniest and most carefully made origami crane. I could feel her dad smiling in his heart at the sight of this little piece of beauty in his daughter’s hand that he had initially mistaken as trash, which she then safely tucked back into her pocket.

That was a beautiful reminder for me at the beginning of what was going to be a very challenging weekend of dance and movement to be observant and mindful of the everyday little moments of joy that we often overlook in our hectic schedules and to seek the inner beauty in what may at first appear to be nothing but a bit of trash. There are lots of little gifts like this out there in our day to day just waiting for us to claim by simply noticing them…

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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Zumba journey begins


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Straddling two worlds

Just recently, I attended an amazing adult ballet intensive workshop at Alvin Ailey taught by Finis Jhung.  It was such a treat to be in the presence of a master and I did my best to soak in every drop of movement wisdom, of which there was plenty thanks to Finis’ keen insight into how the body moves.  I have been taking classes at The Ailey Extension for some time, but stumbling upon Finis was a real find.

While at his weekend ballet intensive, I met a very lovely woman who is a high school teacher and has been studying and performing belly dance for over five years.  She explained to me that she was mortally afraid of any of her high school students, especially her male students, finding out that she is a belly dancer or, worse yet, turning up at one of her performances.  I completely empathized with her concerns and was reminded of my experience in Kenya.

I held a key and fairly public role as the Head of the Aid Effectiveness Secretariat, a body that regularly interacted with all the key Ambassadors and Heads of Missions to Kenya, as well as with top Kenyan government officials, for the purpose of making flows of aid into the country better serve the Kenyan people.  But knowing that when I am not dancing I am not nearly as happy, I continued to look for and find opportunities to move and to share my love of movement.  I taught ballet and contemporary dance to professional modern dancers at the Kenyan National Theatre and judged several dance competitions including the Kenyan National Salsa Competition, in which the winners won an all expenses paid trip sponsored by the Turkish Embassy in Kenya to compete in the International Salsa Competition held in Istanbul.

But the real challenge of straddling two worlds came when I was asked to judge a street dance competition that would appear on national television in Kenya for an entire season, and then later be re-aired.  The program, Sakata, was wildly popular and become a big hit.  Soon I would show up to my Government meetings and be asked how my dance show was going, or see people giggling and pointing at me; once someone even asked me for an autograph.  My worlds were colliding on a major scale.  But somehow I felt what I was doing in both were important enough for me to keep going forward in both arenas.  I actually did not feel divided; I felt I was living up to my full potential and being the best me I could be by honoring both sets of talents.  I would not be a whole person, true to myself, letting my personal light shine if I had given up and chosen one over the other.  And I would not have had the courage to now follow my passion for dance full time and stand here before you baring my insides, steadfast in the conviction that in order to live my best life I must do my part to awaken the power we all have in us to live our best lives.

There is, as I am learning, an inner sense of peace and harmony that comes from not feeling as though you have to hide all of your amazing talents lest you be judged, from knowing that you can be free to be just exactly who you are and just exactly how God made you.  So don’t be afraid to shine your light.  When you let your light shine, you give permission to others to do the same.


Zumba class playlist 4.2.11

Thank you for showing me love!  Here’s some love from me to you.  Enjoy.

  1. Stereo Love (Remix) – Edward Maya
  2. Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
  3. Dale Don Dale – Don Omar
  4. Jump – Rupee
  5. WakaWaka – Shakira
  6. Walking – Mary Mary
  7. Ey Macaleña – Samba do Brasil
  8. Suavemente – Elvis Crespo
  9. Push It – Salt-N-Pepa
  10. El Baile de la Mano – Grupo Kprichoso
  11. I Like It – Enrique Iglesias
  12. Proud Mary – Ike & Tina Turner
  13. La Vida Es Carnival – Celia Cruz
  14. Maria Maria – Santana
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Posted by on April 3, 2011 in Zumba, Zumba journey begins, ZumbaLife


This little light of mine…

Letting my light shine at the Sakata dance competition, where I was a judge (Kenya)

I have traveled around the world to try to understand different cultures and customs, but with Zumba the whole world comes together in one studio to share in this positive, energizing, and revitalizing experience. People from all walks of life come together to do Zumba because it makes them feel alive.

The first Zumba class I ever took was actually in Kenya taught by a certified Zumba instructor, Liz Baregu, and I was immediately hooked. The movement was so alive and the rhythm so rocking, I couldn’t help but feel happy and energized. The more class I took, the more I began to feel empowered, confident, sexy, inspired, and in general on top of the world!  This feeling started to spread into other areas of my life and that’s when I decided to become a certified Zumba instructor myself to share this experience with others. I am extremely excited and honored to be a part of this movement that is energizing and empowering people the world over.

Zumba is based on intoxicating rhythms and non-verbal understanding.  In other words you experience Zumba through your heart first, then your body, then your mind.  When you have many people gathered together in one space, all leading with their hearts, this is a powerful experience.  Zumba is about letting your own light shine, no matter who you are, and allowing love to come in.

What are you waiting for?  Ditch the workout…and join the party!

In the comments below, please feel free to share your first experience with Zumba, how it made you feel and what you learned from the experience.


Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Zumba journey begins

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