Tag Archives: confidence

My Cousin Gave To Me

Last night I looked back at my journal. Every year in December I write down what I wish to happen in the future. I believe if we put our dreams out into the universe, there’s more of a chance they’ll happen. They may not occcyn 1ur in our time frame or exactly as we picture them, but some of them will happen in some way. I don’t ask God to accomplish my dreams and goals. I just write what should happen like, Cousin gets published. Become Zumba instructor before birthday. Buy a house. Meet George Lucas. Three out of those four happened. Still waiting on George, but seeing my cousin, Cynthia Kremsner, realize her dream of becoming a published illustrator is way above meeting the creator of Star Wars. (I’ll write that one again this year…still dreaming I am.)

Of course, my little wishes didn’t make her dream come true, all of her hard work did. She put in the hours, the sweat, and the tears. She challenged herself in a mentor program, learned and practiced new techniques, presented at workshops, took criticism, read the rejections, blogged, submitted, and never never gave up. I cannot list all that she did, but Cynthia dedicated herself to her craft and it has been incredible to watch it start to pay off. Her accomplishments make me smile and inspire me.

If I would’ve had pom poms, I would’ve been cheering like the cheer team captain the day I was able to attend a book signing with Cynthia at Barnes and Noble in Roseville, Ca. I could barely contain myself. I already love going to bookstores, but walking in with a published illustrator for her book signing…are you kidding me? Her husband even brought a keyboard so we could singIMG_5512 along to the Twelve Days of Christmas tune of her book, What My Puppy Gave to Me by Cheryl Dannenbring. I never had so much fun in a bookstore.

We gathered around the table where her books were on display and everyone grabbed a copy to read along. Cynthia introduced herself and started us off, “On the first day of Christmas…” One child held the puppy puppet while her mom sang the words of the book. Seeing so many people enjoy her artwork was so right. I couldn’t stop smiling. Seeing my children and my cousin’s children sing along and participate in this huge event in our family made me appreciate my cousin’s hard work even more. I didn’t know that was possible.  cyn3

I appreciate that she never gives up and is still moving forward no matter what life throws at her. Life tried to stop her and knock her down, but she got up every time. Not everyone does. Not everyone has the courage to put themselves out there for criticism and rejection while dealing with the everyday challenges of life. Many times, just doing life is all people can do, but not Cynthia. She fights the good fight. She works fulltime, raises two kids with her husband, and illustrates books. Yes, illustrates books! After a full day of work, she sits herself down in front of her art desk and she not only creates beautiful pieces of art, but also creates pieces of hope. Her own ambition is contagious. Her drive and belief in her dreams help her reach new goals, but they also help others dare to reach.

Go Cynthia Go!  cyn2


I Thought I Couldn’t

I’m a firm supporter of believing in ourselves and thinking positively. As an elementary school teacher, I read the story, The Little Engine That Could, every year to my students. engine2We made train hats and throughout the school year, we chanted, “I think I can. I think I can.” The students wrote the words, “I can’t” on pieces of paper and then I had them rip up them up and throw them away. I’ve read the story to my own children many times and we have my very large copy of the book at home for those challenging life moments when my boys doubt themselves. I believe that saying, “I can” is a powerful tool to accomplishing our goals and when we reach our goals, we build our self-esteem and personal strength, but then there was U-Jam.

Over the years, I’ve taken on a new challenges that have helped me improve my life and my personal strength. From college and teaching jobs to learning a new language and motherhood, I’ve always thought to myself, “I can do this.” Sure, there were struggles and failures, but my initial efforts at doing something always began with the belief that I could do it. I kept going because I believed I could. After experiencing success, I’ve delighted in the boost of confidence and motivation that always follows and I’ve been propelled forward to the next challenge.

After a life time of doing what I thought I could, I decided it was time to try something I didn’t think Icomfort    could do. You know, step outside of my comfort zone so I could really grow and learn. Sure, there was probably a small part of myself that thought I could do it or I wouldn’t have tried at all, but mostly I just thought I’d learn to dance a little better.

I’d been instructing Zumba classes for a little over a year and through the new dance fitness network I’d become a part of, I heard about U-Jam. I attended a few U-Jam classes and could barely keep up with the footwork. I loved the music and the dance moves, but they seemed way more difficult than anything I’d done before. Many of the dances were hip-hop, something I didn’t think I could do without looking really stupid.ujam logo

I wavered back and forth about whether or not I should attempt to become a U-Jam instructor. Most of my friends encouraged me to do it since I already taught Zumba, but I had serious doubts and fears. Since we were having a training locally and several people I knew were attending, I decided I’d take the risk. I signed up for the two day training.

Although I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, I did. I didn’t think I danced as well as anyone else in the room. I struggled with remembering the choreography and hitting every move, but the trainer did a fantastic job at explaining everything. I did learn to dance much better, but I still felt inadequate. During the workshop assessment, I messed up, but not enough to not pass. I wasn’t the only one who messed up, but I still felt insecure about my ability to make it.10003824_710262322329465_1312138754_o

After the workshop, I stressed about learning the three dances required for the video assessment. My first attempts at doing the dances on my own went poorly. I couldn’t remember the choreography at all. Two friends from the workshop completed their videos within a month or so. I couldn’t believe how fast they learned the dances. I reached out to the local U-Jam instructor and my workshop trainer. They helped me with choreography and confidence, but I seriously didn’t think I could ever learn those dances. I did consider not doing the video assessment, but there were people who believed in me and kept telling me not to give up. I wanted to though.

It came time to videotape. I made five different videos and chose the best one to send out. There was an option of asking for an extension and practicing more, but I was spent. I had given it my all and hoped that was good enough. When I sent my video, I didn’t really think I would pass, but I was okay with it. I knew I could work with a trainer to improve. So much energy and time went into making the video, I was happy to be done.

Time passed and I rested in the belief that I didn’t pass. I was prepared to just let it go and not pursue U-Jam at all because it was just too hard for me. Friends asked regularly if I’d heard yet, and I’d say that I hadn’t, but I wasn’t expecting to pass. Then the day came. I had an email from U-Jam. I was afraid to open it. I read it many times to make sure I read it correctly. I PASSED!!!


The biggest surge of energy came up through my body. It was nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced. My smile hurt. I called my very first U-Jam instructor, Rosie, and told her the news. Saying the words to her made me feel even more happy and proud. Accomplishing what I didn’t think I could accomplish took me to a whole new level of confidence. I felt like I could do anything from that point on. It was such a different experience than when I’d done something I knew I could do.

I’m so proud of myself for taking on something new. I’ve learned that it’s okay to doubt your ability to do something, as long as you still try and you don’t give up. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to just depend on myself to get through something. There are amazing people in my linever give up_nfe who believe in me when I don’t believe in myself and they will help me through. Without them, I would have given up. I wish that wasn’t the truth, but it is. I’d never tried something I wasn’t sure I could eventually accomplish. The doubt I felt was overwhelming, but nobody let me give into it. I’m so thankful to everyone who supported me, and still does.

I thought I couldn’t, but it didn’t stop me. My friends got behind me and pushed me over the mountain to prove me wrong. Thank you! Not sure what’s next! I’m sure it’s something I’ve never imagined. Here’s to living outside my comfort zone!

A Woman My Size

A Woman My Size

I timidly walked into a packed group exercise room at Xtreme Fitness in Redding, CA where people were talking to each other, smiling, and some even hugging before the class began. As an overweight, reluctant exerciser, I was quite shocked. Being at the gym had never been a pleasant experience for me; I never even grinned about exercising, let alone actually chuckle. Something was wrong with these people.

One of the first Zumba parties I attended at Xtreme Fitness. I’m on the right in a green hat. A few rows back.

A woman dressed in a bright colored Zumba outfit walked up on stage with a big smile, introduced herself, and turned on the music. A disco ball and dance lights spun around and lit up the dark room. The Zumba Instructor, Lisa Reed, started moving and pointing. We all started doing exactly what she did…dance. Before I knew it, I’d danced for an hour. I couldn’t believe I’d exercised for that long without passing out. What a fun time! Wait, did I say that?

The magic of my first Zumba class motivated me to attend as many classes as I could, sometimes even two a day. (This happens to many Zeeps – Zumba lovers.) Every class made me feel better about moving my body. The energy from people dancing was contagious and inspiring. For some reason, I didn’t feel limited any more by my size or my past battles with extra weight. The Zumba choreography challenged me to move in new ways and push myself physically, but it was never humiliating or painful, like other exercising programs I’d experienced.

The music, the dancing, the energy, the magic of the Zumba experience made me feel free. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I wasn’t trapped in a fat body anymore. Well, I was still overweight, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t self-conscious about my legs jiggling or my belly bouncing.  I didn’t care about any of that, at least not like I used to.

The Day I Became A Zumba Instructor, June 2012

My thoughts prior to Zumba were, “You’re too fat to do that, that, and that too.” Heck, I even felt too fat to walk down the street sometimes because I’d been “mooed” at and called “whale” by people driving by. I was definitely too fat to shake my butt in front of people, that is, until I found Zumba. With the “fat limits” gone, something strange happened, I mean really strange for me, I decided I wanted become a Zumba instructor.  I wanted to be a part of the group that helped bring so much joy to people like me.

One of the many marvelous things about Zumba is the creator, Beto Perez, has an open mind. He wants anyone and everyone to experience Zumba. Beto doesn’t limit the opportunity to be an instructor to those who are fitness gurus or who have above average physiques. Anyone who is motivated enough and willing to invest some time and money can become a Zumba Instructor. It’s not about having a six pack or the rock hard butt. It’s about motivating people to enjoy their own ability to move to music.

ImageToday I have the pleasure of teaching Zumba at Salisbury High School and at a few gyms. I love that I can do it and that I can help others have fun while they exercise. I’m not a size two and I’m not cut like some instructors. Yes, I’ve dropped some weight, but I’m just an average woman. I don’t want this to be a weight loss story. This is a weight freedom story. My butt is still big and I still jiggle, but I’m moving with pride. I walk up in front of a group of people with a big smile on my face and when the music starts I move and they move with me. We dance. All sizes, all shapes, all ages. I want them to feel like I feel, absolutely free and wonderful.

Lisa Reed and Me.
Zumba Instructors!

Recently, I did a Zumba demonstration and afterwards, a very well dressed older man who obviously worked out said to me, “For a woman your size, you move really well. You surprised me.”  The girl in me who’d been insulted by Neanderthals in her past popped her head up for a second and wanted to retreat, but no way. I stood tall in my bright Zumba outfit (size large by the way) and looked at him and said, “Go to Zumba and you will never be surprised again. Any size person can do Zumba and do it well.”  I walked away and lead another routine with my big smile and my head held high. Woot! Woot! See you in class!