Today Awhile ago, I volunteered at my local YMCA.  I was the first presenter in  their kids’ camp ‘try something new‘ week.  That new was Zumba, and it really was new.

Not a single child had done it before.

I was told to expect about 15 kids there, along with a few group leaders. Nope! I stepped into a gym filled with almost 40 kids – one of their biggest groups so far.  Pushing aside a wave of nervousness, I set up.

As the kids trickled towards my area of the gym, I overheard some of the boys talking about how Zumba was stupid or boring and asking about other activities they wanted to do.

Two of the those boys were bursting with excitement and energy by the second song.

By the half way mark, the crowd had thinned. Only about 15 kids continued to bust a move.  I fought disappointment, wondering if I wasn’t leading well enough, if I could have picked better music, if the kids stopped because they were tired, bored, or simply because they were mostly preteen boys who didn’t think it was overly cool to be dancing it up with a bunch of girls … the few boys who remained didn’t look a day over six.

Turning off my disappointment, I realized I didn’t need to focus on the kids who weren’t participating. I turned my attention to the ones who were loving it – and they were loving it!  

Those kids crowded so close to the front I had to be careful not to trip over them. Two little girls got so near they turned around and danced right along beside me, asserting afterward that they helped ‘lead’ the group! 🙂

Afterward, a number asked when I was coming back, one said her mom would be so excited that they could now do Zumba together, and another said “this is like exercise – but it’s fun.”

A shy looking little boy who’d been concentrating to follow the moves (though he’d hardly gotten any) rewarded me with a smile of satisfaction when we all clapped for each other at the end. Another little boy looked at me with a massive smile and proclaimed, “That was great!”

Walking home in the heat, dripping with sweat and feeling on fire, I contemplated how differently the day could have been me if I’d let my initial disappointment about the kids who drifted to sit on the sidelines take over.

focus onI’d have spent my time feeling as if the kids didn’t enjoy it. I’d have felt like a failure.  Instead, I walked out of that gymnasium knowing I made a positive impact on the lives of 15 children! And maybe more …

One girl who watched from the sidelines came up to me as I was leaving and asked when I was coming back. Unfortunately, I had to tell her I didn’t think I’d be back. I hope she learned something from that, and next time she has an opportunity to try something new she’ll remember how she missed her chance, step outside of her shyness, and join in.

Although I’m generally not overly shy and when it comes to something like dancing – I’ve been the first on the dance floor many a time – that little girl  reminded of the times I let shyness or insecurity hold me back from the opportunities life tosses my way.

So not only did I walk away knowing I’d brought joy to a bunch of children, I walked away with some reminders for myself (and maybe you too):

  1. When I have the opportunity to try something new – do it. I never know when or if I’ll have another chance. And who knows, I may just love it!
  2. Just as I’m learning to ignore that voice that tells me what I can’t do, I also need to ignore the voices that draw my attention to the negative. Instead, I resolve to focus on the voice that tells me to open my eyes and take joy in all the positives.

On a little side note – the flower above was something I saw sitting in the middle of the sidewalk on the way home – I picked it up as a memento of a beautiful morning.

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