One of my first trips out of the USA was to Holland. Amsterdam. Want to know where I am heading this weekend??? Amsterdam/Netherlands. I am having this de javu feel from the first time I left the country, to Amsterdam. So much has happened since then. Many countries worked in and visited since this first trip away from my country.
Call me crazy but up until this point I had never had ambitions of traveling. I am unsure if it was the fear of being too far from home, or I didn't think it was in the realm of possibilities.
I would say we grew up very "local" let's use that word...my friends would take cool trips to Sweden or Bali, Indonesia or do humanitarian projects in Mexico or Guatemala or cruises to far off destinations but our family??? We stayed real close to home. We had a mini van and if you could drive there in the mini van than we could go.
Brian and I got passports for a trip to Cancun for our ten year wedding anniversary. When time came for that trip we had to cancel due to his work schedule. So when Zumba approached me for a ZIN days in the Netherlands and asked if I had a passport my answer was YESSSSS!!!!!!! (even though I hadn't used it...yet)
My first stop was to Minneapolis (if I remember correctly) and I had this moment of freak out where I called Brian and the kids to say goodbye. Sounds more dramatic than it was but I was sweating and sick to my stomach out of nervousness. What if something terrible happens and I'm so far from home? What if I can't get ahold of my ride? What if I don't get past customs? What if someone snuck drugs into my luggage? That sounds dramatic but that's where my mind takes me...you have no idea.
When you are taking off on an international flight and they do the announcements in two different languages it hits home. Holy crap I am leaving the home that I know and going WAY out of my comfort zone.
I wasn't stopped or handcuffed or anything like that. I always get fruit taken from me b/c I am the ultimate snacker and that combined with motherhood means I will ALWAYS have something to eat on me. But that was the least of my worries.
My co worker picked me up after a few skype calls-thank goodness for technology of the 2000s-and off we went.
I WAS I HOLLAND!!!!! I!!! WAS!!! IN!!! HOLLAND!!!!
Something I found so fascinating was all the bikes! This is not "American" at all. :D There were racks among racks of bicycles, stacks of racks on racks of bicycles. How did they get their bike down from the top? How did they even recognize the bike that was theirs? Oh...mine is the 25th in on the left of the third row and 2nd column. I don't get it.
Some rusty, some new, some fancy, some blue, some with baskets, some with locks, riders in suits, riders in smocks. You like that little rhyme?? :D It' the truth though. I tried to imagine myself with a kid or two biking around Utah, going to Target, or Walmart, how about the gym or mall? It just didn't work out the same way. If I were to live there I would fully embrace this way of life. I loved it.
My first stop was a master class at a local gym. They were awesome. That's one thing I find is that although I am uncertain of the surroundings I feel comforted in the Zumba environment. We don't need to share the same language to share the experience and the people have always been so accepting of me. It's amazing.
Later that night my coworker and I wanted to have a real authentic Dutch meal. We went to this very enchanting and quaint restaurant. It was tucked into a little cobblestone, streetlamp lit neighborhood and when you entered you felt as if it was into someones home where the family had shared meals together for years rather than the atmosphere of a restaurant. It was magical, memorable and everything from the menu (that I could not read) to the unique, one of a kind, hand painted dinnerware made me feel like I was in a dream. We had to have one of the young dish washers in the back, (who happened to be studying English in school) translate as much as he could of the menu for us...I don't know what I ended up ordering. You learn very quickly that you are far from home when chicken is not one of the meat options. I just picked what I thought was the safest bet. It did not disappoint.
The event in Netherlands was really fun. The people were so energetic and infectious. Jet lag is no match for Zumba enthusiasts, good music and a good sound system. But the highlight for me, which will forever be etched in my heart was working with someone I had looked up to for quite some time...Tanya Beardsley.
When I began as a Zumba instructor there were three main people I watched over and over and over and over again. Beto, Gina and Tanya...and here I was, little old me, doing an event with non other than THE Tanya Beardsley. I kept thinking "What are they thinking???" but I wasn't going to say that out loud, no. I was going to show up, shut up and keep my chin up. (here is a pic of a pic of a photoshoot with did with Lindsey Taylor and Jason)
I remember sitting backstage with her and watching her as people would come to meet her. She is a beautiful person. Genuine, kind, and watching her take charge of the stage and the crowd was awe inspiring. I remember David Topel (handsome devil pictured with me below) introducing her...as he was getting further along and the people could sense her entrance, the crowd started chanting "Tanya, Tanya, Tanya Tanya" she was uncomfortable with the "fame" of it all which added to her mystery. She shook her head like she was shocked. Had I not been 2 feet away from her I would have been cheering right along, arms in the air, jumping up and down. I was a fan just like everyone there.
I will never listen to Rihana's song "We found love in a hopeless place" and not think of that trip. Songs can take you back so fast and that one plays with a flood of memories: shopping in Amsterdam, eating dinner at a wonderful Italian place that overlooked the city, being somewhat shellshocked as the "freedom" of Amsterdam was made aware to me..."there's what in those brownies???" (I didn't test to make sure) Dancing at this Irish pub and being completely silly, becoming friends with the crew and feeling like a team, laying on the hotel bed and getting amazing songs from Tanya's computer and "talking shop" I remember her saying to me "I don't know why I am giving you these songs, I never share songs with anyone, you have to realize this". I didn't take the kindness for granted and I totally get it too...finding music that moves you is not always something you "give away" you like to keep it, learn it, make it your own and see how you can move a crowd of people into the same emotion you feel when listening to that song...
Like I said earlier, I'm now getting ready to head back to Netherlands to do an event in Holland this weekend. This time with THE Steve Boedt then he and I are driving to Belgium for another Zumba event with a handful of instructors and ZJs and ZESs. I have traveled to many countries since that first trip to Netherlands. I have a lot more stamps on my passport. But I won't forget that first time. No way.
When you work with those you have been looking up to, trying to emulate, learning from, it forces you to learn fast, be quick on your feet and have some distasteful growing pains. I went through a lot of discomfort, insecurity, and a sort of "thickening of my skin" process in those first couple years working with Zumba on a corporate level. I felt that I was having the largest learning curve in the history of mankind. I was thrown a lot of opportunity for growth and there were times I crumbled under the pressure and there were times I sat back and had the time of my life. I try and keep it more so the latter. No time for crumbling. Not when someone else can jump in and do it just as good and under the pressure.
I try to always relish the moments that change me and make me a better person. I now am much more open to challenge and growth b/c I see it's not as scary as I once viewed it. I might still have a freak out moment as I arrive in Netherlands this weekend...but it will be much more of "I cannot believe this is MY life!!" This grand adventure is my life. It's amazing. Crazy amazing.