There is a time in your life when you meet someone special, someone who has that unique spark or that “it” factor. You have no idea why you’re drawn to that someone especially a newly minted Zumba instructor whose English at the time was just as proficient as my grade school Spanish. Her English, by the way has improved exponentially better than my Spanish!
It started the winter of 2017. I had just retired and was spending my first winter in Florida, Orlando to be specific. By this time, I was a hard-core Zumba enthusiast and novice solo traveler. I scoured the internet for Zumba classes in the vicinity and narrowed the field down to 2 studios. As I was not familiar with the area, I found the first place inside a seemingly desolate industrial park. Circling the parking lot I found the studio, which did not open until 5 pm. Hmmmmmmm, on to the second place which was in Kissimmee 30 minutes away.
As I called the second place, they informed me that they offered Zumba classes 5 days a week! The very next day my daily ritual began. You could have set your clock by my routine. Wake up, gym clothes, down the elevator, gaze at the blue skies and palm trees feeling totally blessed followed by a trip to Dunkin Donuts. As soon as I entered the Dunkin Donuts shop, my very special guy behind the counter began preparing my coffee. He knew exactly how I wanted it without asking, how special he made me feel!!
From the very first day at this gym, I felt like I belonged. This diverse multicultural group of women were friendly, welcoming and inclusive. For most of my 2017 and 2018 six week stays in Orlando, I was happily ensconced in Zumba.
Fast forward to February 2020. Life as we knew it changed dramatically. I don’t remember how or exactly when Ana and I friended each other on Facebook, I just know we became FB friends. When my clubhouse closed due to the Covid-19 virus, Zumba and other classes ceased to exist. Covid-19 rendered most of us homebound as the months and months of quarantine unfolded.
One day, after a couple of weeks of inertia, I powered up my computer, looked for Ana’s email with the Zoom log in instructions and logged on. I couldn’t believe Ana’s transformation during the past 12 months! She was always lively, bubbly, and photogenic with a million-dollar smile but now her energy, vivaciousness and abilities as a professional Zumba instructor were unsurpassed. I was hooked. For the past year and a half, Zumba continues to be an integral part of my life.
To say I feel an allegiance to Ana is an understatement. A mother of three kids, loving wife to her husband, devoted to all who know her including her Zumba charges. Losing her father unexpectedly to Covid after a lengthy Covid related hospitalization last winter was tragic and heartfelt. During this entire ordeal Ana showed as much concern for us and our welfare as we did for her. Two classes a day, regardless of the number of participants who log on, sometimes one, more often 5 to 15, her energy, play list, enthusiasm and joie de vivre remains the same.
Nature or nurture? Which facet of our personality is responsible for our ability to succeed? Our energy? Our purpose? What makes Ana so special, so dedicated, so driven to be the best? Whatever special qualities it takes to achieve, Ana is the total package. The very thought of our roles being reversed with me going to a non-English speaking country, conversing in a totally new language, learning an entirely new skill set as well as a brand-new technology, remember Zoom was almost nonexistent pre Covid, I am in total awe.
How many of us could even conceive of embarking upon such a new set of challenges and opportunities without fear rendering us immobile.
Covid-19 changed so many lives, postponed so many dreams and goals, and caused some to plunge into hopelessness and despair, and in many cases, justifiably so.
One of my personal mantras is your attitude will determine your altitude and I think during these unprecedented times this could not be truer. A quote I recently read from Warren Buffet, for me, sums up Ana and her Zumba class: “Surround yourself with people that push you to do and be better. No drama or negativity. Just higher goals and higher motivation. Good times and positive energy. No jealousy or hate. Simply bringing out the absolute best in each other.”
My advice…. Go find your Ana.
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