The Journey Begins…again

Thanks for joining me! 

I am Kass. I am the baby of 5 kids originally from northern California and then we moved to Utah when I was 8. Have you been to Utah? It is just gorgeous. In traveling the globe for my job…I have seen many marvelous locations and  would still pick the gorgeous backdrop of Utah as my home. I am a wife of 16 years to a man I think is the bees knees, the cat’s meow, the coolest guy around, and  I am the mom of 2 amazing kids. Yes, I know they’re MY kids-so as every mom does, we imply own kid’s greatness as being superior…BUT that being said, I really think mine are top notch. We also have 2 dogs. They are adorable labradoodles and often featured on my instagram posts and stories b/c we swear they are part human and have very humanely expressions and behavior to prove our point. (See my bias behavior sneaking in again? :D)

The history of my life is like all people. I grew up in a great, happy, pulled together family, with zero problems. We have always and will always continue to live happily ever after bc…well, that’s just us.

Nope, not even close. I am like all people b/c I am loved but I am also damaged, I am happy but I can also be sad, I have great moments of singing at the top of my lungs and thinking…”How is this even my real life?” and then moments of wondering how I got myself into this pickle of a mess and having to muster up courage from the deep depths of my soul before I crumble. I have seen sickness and health, life and death. All of these moments have made my journey and my life my own, and one I am very proud of. 

I have tried websites in the past and I really wanted to go back to my roots of what I enjoy in writing. No pressure, no agenda, just real, raw, me. This blog is titled “My life as I know it.”

The title of this blog actually comes from a book my dad wrote. It was a compilation of all his greatest lessons of life and journal type entries of how to be a great man (man, woman, human). My dad’s wife gave us all this book a little after he died. She helped compile these articles and memories so we (his surviving 5 kids) could crack open it’s pages and feel his arms around us again-teaching us, helping us grow, enlightening us.

My dad was an avid learner. He was ultra smart and always reading a book. He would often have me recite, “reading is the gateway to knowledge and knowledge is power.” But understand me that I am serious about the book in his hand thing. The man had a book in his hand at all times, no joke. There are pictures of this to prove his yearling for learning while watching his grandson’s football game-book in hand, open, ready to learn again the second the play was over and he had a few moments to soak in something new.  

I don’t know that I caught this bug entirely. I love to read-ish. I add an ISH b/c I listen to audiobooks often (traveling working mom with extra hours on hand) but I don’t open a book regularly. I used to only have PEOPLE, SHAPE, SELF magazines to thank for my reading but later in my life (I’m 36), the past 10 years or so have been more focused on learning and the power of feeding my mind with good information. I need it. I need all the good info pouring in, so that when my natural instincts kick in and I might not feel or act as proud as I would like, I have something else in that noggin to pull from and give me the strength when push comes to shove.

I am not a writer. If you have pet peeves of grammatical errors, and are a stickler for where the . and the , and the ‘ and even the “‘s go…you’re going to need to turn a blind eye to my writing. I am sure english, like many of my other classes, was passed by the skin of my teeth. I didn’t have ambition until my mid 20’s so my academics really suffered. That knowledge was filed away, unused, then stored in my long term memory and then thrown away into my useless memories Have you seen Disney’s movie “Inside Out”??? It’s brilliant and you’ll understand this imagery perfectly.

What I do know is that I love to write. I love to journal and I haven’t done it for a very long time. I used to make note of the funny things my kids would say and then it just drifted off of my daily to-dos. Isn’t that an interesting thing? You have a habit of doing something and then one day you let it slip, then it slides right off your agenda and it’s years until you pick it back up again. I am hoping to wrap this blog in sticky tape, load it with gorilla glue and make it nearly impossible to fall of the wagon.

This is My life as I know it, the journey begins.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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My little soap box

I had such an interesting experience last week with FaceBook. I love FB just as much as the next person but…and this is a BIG BUT…I don’t check my newsfeed (maybe the first few on there) and I don’t check many pages.

I get on facebook, make announcements and try and get back to those who have left messages, posted on my wall or reached out to me. I appreciate those who do this and while I don’t get to all the messages I really do try. Then after a little bit, I realize that my social media time is about to expire (hubby to see, dinner to make, kids to get ready for bed) and I hop off.

My favorite feature of facebook? The pictures!  I love seeing pictures from trainings or events I was teaching in and can’t capture myself. I find it puzzling when I am tagged in pics from events I wasn’t in or can’t go to…like in different states, or countries. Isn’t that the purpose of tagging??? I generally untag myself b/c I look at the pics on my page to be a sort of photo memory log for me to remember the great times I have had with great people.

I just reinstalled the facebook app on my phone. I now have it a little more readily accessible. Not sure if I like this or not. I am already spending more time on electronics between music, choreo dvds, work, phone calls and messaging, instagram, and 2048 than I think is necessary. Oh my gosh! have you played 2048??? it’s amazing…it’ll knock your socks off and if you think you’re addicted to a game…you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!!!

Ok…so…last week…

As I was scrolling through the news feed. I could not believe the negative post after negative post. This wasn’t about someone going through a hard time. I have put myself out there during hard times and the outpouring of love and empathy was amazing and heart warming and filled my soul and I really hope I haven’t come across as someone who was putting out negative energy. What I found was mindless negativity. Negative people throwing out negative energy to all their “friends” on facebook. Movie reviews, product reviews, hating this, annoyed with that, can you believe this, this was so terrible…

I get that this is a place where we can write our feelings, keeping our family and friends updated on the latest and greatest but are we using this as a crutch so we can vent and not have to face people?? I think we are facing a real issue where REAL human connection is being lost. Rather than calling our friend, going to see a coworker or family we are writing out our feelings on an internet site and making everyone else deal with the negativity. Yes of course there is the option to opt out of being friends or followers but when we look back on our lives…what are we focusing our efforts on?

At Zumba instructor convention this year Steve Boedt and I presented a session on The Power of Connecting with Others. We focus some on this, resourcing to electronic connections vs. REAL, long lasting connections with others. There is a loss of this is our society…we all do it.

Experiencing the outpouring of love, support and amazing stories from others towards my dad at the time of his funeral a few years ago made me think of what would be said at my own funeral. What kind of person was I? How did I make people feel? If someone were to run across an obituary of me and didn’t know me personally, if they went to my facebook page-do I feel this is really representing the person I am? Would I be proud of what I am posting as my status?

Of course I do want to say that this is also met with many uplifting posts and people coming together for a greater cause…and there is always the good with the bad, always. Opposition in all things.

I ran across this quote on @HENRAYRAY ‘s instagram and I told him I was gonna steal it, it says-

“Be the most positive person you’ve ever hear, and the most generous person you know, and the most loving person you’ve ever felt! Be what you want from others.” -Jeff Moore

Beautiful right? I love it. I want to be that. I added a pic of my mama at the top. This woman is the sweetest woman I know. She is kind, counts her blessings, has a grateful heart, doesn’t complain, she tried to get me to speak a like a real lady using words like fanny. Oh how she tried. 😀

I have great examples of how to treat others and how to live my life…I’ve got lots of work to do.

Cool places and Faces

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. 😀 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?? 😀 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.

Highlights, lowlights, and bright lights of Zumba Instructor Convention

Convention seems like a faint memory now and before it’s muddled with laundry, carpool and other nonsense I want to write my favorite things down. Even my not so favorite things as they are always here to help me grow and become stronger.

Highlights:
Family:
Working with my sister Emily and cousin Heather is always the favorite part of convention. There is nothing like family. We didn’t always grow up being best friends or even “friends” at all…but Zumba has bridged any gap that was there. I don’t know that many sisters and cousins get to share something so grand together and come so close at this stage of life. I know I am very blessed and lucky to share this with them. They are strong, beautiful women who I admire so much.

When we go to Zumba convention it is a bizarre bit of role reversal b/c while they are both amazing Zumba instructors, it’s a time where they really put their freedom on hold. You enter that convention center and it’s my work, my time frame, my schedule, my sessions, my turf and they get somewhat pushed aside…not intentionally but you can see how the roles get foggy when in real life these women outshine me any day. It’s me looking to them and not the other way around.

Friends:
Having friends there at convention makes work play!!! There are many places we could spend a weekend together. But there is nothing like good clean fun—well not clean, we are sweaty disgusting sleep deprived messes but we aren’t the party crew scene. We like to get in comfies after a day of attending classes and being inspired by the best presenters in the world and we veg out. (I can’t move my body at night…zumba zombie is what I become…so they take pity on me and stay with me and skip out on the concerts and parties and we make our own fun…they are the best)

We rehash the day and everyone’s favorite moments and then as the night lingers on the silliness increases and we become like young school girls again. Even though we are all moms (aside from Albert ;)) and of a variety of ages we laugh and laugh and laugh about nothing and everything and do stupid, ridiculous things into the wee hours of the morning that I’m sure our kids and husbands would surely be embarrassed about.

Presenting:
I love my work. I don’t think there is a person in the world who loves what they do more than ME!! Maybe Jimmy Fallon…man I’d love his job and he seems to really really love it too. But…aside from Mr Fallon there isn’t anyone. I challenge you to find someone. 😀 This year was amazing b/c I was able to have 2 Dancin thru the Decades sessions, 2 Crazy Country sessions, 2 master classes and a Connecting With Others session with Steve Boedt.  Sounds exhausting right??? It was. I’ll get to that part later…

I love instructing. I love sharing the stage with friends. In the master class I was in the warm up with Emily and Albert along side me. I had this “THIS IS THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD!!” moment as we all danced and lead the sea of hundreds of Zumba instructors. It was awesome. I have worked with them soo much and we felt really in-synch and it was just a magical moment where you are feeling it in your soul…the lights, the stage, the people, the smiles. the sweat… They know my body language so much, they know my cues, they know what I’m doing before I even do it. In a situation like that I feel completely taken care of…I am not in charge of it all myself…we are in this together. If I were to have fallen and broken my leg (not in the good luck manner)…they could have taken over and done incredibly.

There are moments in this job of feeling completely alone…lonely…overwhelmed… Moments like the one I described carry me through for a long time.

Connecting class with Steve:
This was the first time we have done this session. We came up with the concept, did a lot of research, power point, drills, master class…and we were unsure of just how it was going to play out…BUT it was a highlight of my whole weekend. The session wasn’t your typical session at convention. This session was about how to connect with people…not while instructing or teaching (we have an excellent training with Zumba called Pro Skills which really dives into this concept WHILE teaching) This session was about connecting with people as a whole. The benefits of connecting with others and the boundaries we set on ourselves which keep us from truly connecting on a meaningful and purposeful level. I loved the different emotions that were displayed in the class.

There was a lot of things that I put into the session drills and discussion that I felt were a special tribute to my dad, for connecting with others was not only his profession and passion it was what gave him purpose. He was the perfect example to me of this. He did it entirely, beautifully, and just mentioning him in the beginning of the session had me immediately in tears. I’m okay with that though…I cry. So do you. So does everyone. 😀 I might cry more than others but that’s due to my terrible relationship with Mr. Sandman. 😉

Working with Steve was a real treat. I admire him in so many ways. He knows how I feel about him. He is one of the most spectacular people I have ever met. He is a brother to me and any time with him is time well spent. 😀

In the beginning of our session Beto came in and did some of the master class with us. It was one of the craziest surreal feelings…I felt I stepped outside of my body for just a moment and tried to really take in the grandiose scene of me, dancing with Steve, on stage with the creator of Zumba. WOWZA!

It was not too long ago that I was attending convention for the first time August of 2010. I stood front row in the fitness concert, awe struck, watching the man I had watched on DVDs for so long…I would even say studied him to learn how to teach, how to move, how to not be so…white mom from Utah. The guru, the ultimate, the one and only Beto…and here I was being visited by him in my session, not only as my “boss” but as my friend to show his support for us, for me, for our session, for our journey and for what we do for him in his company in spreading this passion forward. I am still pinching myself. It was a really really cool moment…well…it was like 25 minutes of moves and music Steve and I didn’t know. Adrenalin, music and a smile…that’s all you need. Haha. But the emotion of it was AMAZING!!!!

OKAY!!! other highlights!
Filming Flavors song for the Mega Mix that comes out with songs from convention.

Photo shoot with friends who work at the home office that I don’t see nearly enough whom I quite adore…and all the hair and makeup relaxation that happened going into the photoshoot. That was really nice.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at the closing session. The chill and thrill of dumping ice cold water over your head with Gina Grant and the three A’s: Alberto Aghion, Alberto Perlman and Beto (Alberto) Perez.  It was WAY colder than  expected. I mean, I expected ice cold but you can’t prepare for the unknown. No one in their right minds is familiar with that sensation. I love the creative ways of getting people involved in doing good outside of their comfort zone.

Meeting wonderful people and getting to know them as well as reconnecting with those I only ee at convention. There are so many people who I meet who change me…enrich my life, make a difference. They may give a compliment, their energy in the class, smile, give a hug, tell me a story, share something with me. I had people who brought me Diet Mt. Dews and bananas, cough drops, gum, Tim Tams, treats, thoughtful gifts, something from their country…there are so many amazing people I have met that I’m forever grateful to have met.

To be continued…

My go to, must haves for my life on the road.

Having a job that is sweaty 90% of the time has made finding the perfect products for freshness a must.

Here are the things I have come to love along the way, my “never leave home without”, my “go to” products, my “fixer uppers”, my “must haves” to help me look and feel and smell my best under the circumstances of humidity, sweat, dancing, tangles, body odor and so much more.

This may all be in fact in my head, you might read this and think “What??? no…she always smells…whatever she is using is clearly not working!!!? but…These are my efforts to smelling and feeling fresh.

1. I have tried every kind of deodorant and it seems that this is the brand that doesn’t have me doing the nervous sweaty pits look… You’re not hot, your cold in fact but those pits are sweaty!! Aggghh!!! Secret is my fave brand. I know everyone has their go to brand…this is mine. And the spring breeze scent is my fave.

2. Hand sanitizer is a must. I am not an overly germaphobic person, however…I am a huggy person and I think a little hand sanitizer goes a long way when I have my arms wrapped about sweaty shoulders. You get it.

3. I have this thing of smelling like me even when I’m on the road. I will spray my perfume on me right before bed b/c I am in some random strange hotel and I need the comforts of home. Pink Sugar. Oh how I love Pink Sugar. You can’t get it i departments stores anymore so I have to chase it down wherever I can. Sometimes that’s at Burlington Coat Factory, the other day it was CVS Pharmacy. If I see it, I buy it. I love the travel size 3 oz bottle so I can get it past TSA. 😀 The other month I found a great new scent at American Eagle Outfitters called Vintage. It’s so dang good. You can spray and spray in it and it’s just that perfect blend of sweet and earthy.

4. I hot curling iron is a must. I found one at Walmart that gets to 400 degrees and heats up lickity split. I also found a tiny blow dryer that I can whip out anywhere and a great flat iron from Walmart as well (beauticians may cringe) and it comes with this itty bitty version you can fit in your purse. Perfect for travel. If my hair looks somewhat pulled together it helps with the whole appearance of not looking totally sweaty and gross… I can’t wear my hair in a pony tail. I get major headaches and it’s not worth it so I’ve learned along the way how to wear it down and then help it…and fast! I’m not a get ready forever kind of girl…there’s more to do than to fiddle fiddle fiddle with the hair. And when all else fails, find an awesome hat.

5. Matrix Exquisite Oil tames my mane. It gives it shine and helps defrizz when the humidity is just too much. Pair that with Tony & Guy Sea Salt Texturizing Spray that gives it lift and helps with the wave and I’m working with a much better foundation.

6. I am also a huge fan of Rave hairspray. I swear this stuff if like glue if you need it to be. 😀 and there are times I really need it to be. It’s affordable, if I forget to take it out of my carryon I ain’t sweatin’ the price I can go get another bottle and not break the bank. It’s a classic and my mom used it and so do I. A family trusted brand.

7. I love to have jewelry that I can wear while working out. I have found pieces along the way that wear well in the sweat. I have a necklace with the initials KMB on it for Kass and Brain Martin (the order was only for the look of the letters) as well as these friendship type bracelets I found at the Mesa Arizona Airport in a random shop while I was passing time and having some retail therapy while I was away from my loves. I never take these off. I also added some fun bright bracelets I found from H&M in the airport in Copenhagen. I find some serious gems along the way. I have a new necklace I bought in Jerusalem that I have added to the bunch which has a special meaning to me. Wearing jewelry makes me feel that although I’m in workout gear a lot I can still feel “ready” or “done up” This may be in my head but oh well.

There are a million other things I bring…these are the staples…I am not a light packer and it’s one of the things I’m working on. 😀 Until then…I’m bringing it all!!!!!

How Zumba has changed my life.

I had a great conversation with a friend the last night and we were discussing friendship and how Zumba has brought some of the most amazing people and experiences into my life.

For those not in the culture or lifestyle of Zumba it looks like a sweaty party, that’s fun, but not for them. They think it’s about the moves (which maybe they feel they don’t have), or the music (which maybe they don’t know)…when in actuality, Zumba is about PEOPLE.

I have a saying that I repeat often which I heard from the CEO of Zumba, Alberto Perlman. “Zumba is not about burning calories. Zumba is about changing lives!”
No truer words have been spoken.

How is it that this “fitness craze” or “dance party” changes lives? Is it the confidence from a healthier body or a smaller waistline? What do people achieve in these classes or with this program that actually produces a change, a change for the better, a change that takes them on a different path? A better path.

I look at my life 6 years ago. I had been married 5 years (happily) and had my two wonderful kids. I would work from home making jewelry for a company just so I could do a little shopping here and there and not have my husband raise is eyebrows at me. However small the amount I made, it was mine. I worked for it. 😀 Bring on the shoes!!!

I LOVE being a mom. In college I didn’t even know where to begin on courses b/c I wanted to grow up and be a mom. My mom had to work and I wanted to be there when my kids got home from school and not working retail til 9:30pm many nights. I was going to be a “stay at home” mom. This was the life I had planned. My husband Brian was going to go to dental school and we were going to live the All American Dream.

I was married at 20 and had our first at 22. I had a very full life, filled with wonderful people. But somewhere in there I forgot what I like to do. What music I like, who I was at the core. I was a mom and a wife and I feel a pretty good one too—those were titles, titles I was proud to have. But WHO WAS I? If someone asked what I liked to do it revolved around motherhood (again, this I did proudly), If asked what kind of music or shows I watched, it revolved around motherhood-Sesame Street, kids songs, ABCs, Little Einsteins. I didn’t realize that I forgot to look beyond the titles and more deeply into WHO I AM as a person. As a daughter of God. What’s my life purpose? What mark am I going to make on this earth?

My mom always wanted me to teach group fitness. I think deep inside she knew the difference it made in her life and wanted me to experience that as well.  This was not something I was comfortable with nor did I think it was going to be a path I would take. Did I fear I’d fail? Yes. Did I fear people not wanting the “instructors daughter”? YES! I didn’t take chances, I played it safe. I played small.

After my second child I was feeling “unsuccessful” as a mom. My daughter was really colicky. Making and keeping her happy was a feat I was ill prepared for. I cried daily b/c the one thing I had set out to do, the “career” I chose was one I actually knew nothing about and through lots of trial and error and more trial and error, I was constantly reassessing and coming up with a new game plan and goals to reach to try and create peace in our home and in my heart.

It was about this time that a new fitness format came out. It seemed like something I could at least fake for a while, giving me an outlet I could try to succeed in. I taught this format for about 4 months and was at a stand still. I wasn’t inspired, I didn’t feel inspiring. Then a path opened up, one that would change my life forever, for good. That path was Zumba.

There came a point in my teaching where I stopped looking at all I was putting into the class, all MY works, all MY efforts (which was very self centered) and took a step back to see the HUGE impact this class has made on MY life. The people I have met along the way aren’t who I usually had associated with. I grew up in Utah and most of my friends were just like me. I didn’t have much diversity. As I grew up in life and in this company I have met the most amazing people: different ages, different backgrounds, lifestyles, sexual preferences, sizes, religious beliefs, political opinions, languages…before Zumba I knew only a small amount of people who were not of my same faith. I love Utah. I don’t see myself ever moving actually. I wouldn’t still live where I do if I didn’t LOVE this area and the quality of life we share with our kids. I think I am surrounded by the salt of the earth, amazing people with integrity and kindness at their core. But…you know what? Different also is good. I don’t know that I understood this so much growing up and part of that is just that-growing up. You start to see the world as a whole rather than the world within your 30 mile radius.

My dad was the best at connecting with people. He didn’t care where they were from, what they did in their free time, he cared about looking into their eyes and making them feel important. His motto in life was “To love ALL people, in ALL places, at ALL times.” I remember a story he shared with me. He was in the restroom at his work at the Salt Lake City County Courthouse building. There was a man on the ground, distraught, upset. He looked up at my dad and asked, “Will you pray with me?” My dad got down on his knees on the bathroom floor and said a prayer with this man. When he opened his eyes the man was very moved and crying and went into telling my dad that he had just dyed his hair in this very bathroom and was going to go rob a bank. Then my dad had walked in. The prayer they said together, the love he felt. This changed his whole course of action.

While I have never been on the verge of robbing a bank or doing something dramatic like that I have had those days where you just feel yucky and in a funk, giving up on a goal, unsuccessful. It is on those days I’ll receive a message from someone telling me they enjoy my class or some work I have done, that they are grateful for me through some way, or grateful for Zumba as a program and I realize just like me there are people all over the world doing the same thing day in day out. Helping others find success. Lifting each other up.

As an instructor you create ways for people to have success. Yes it is small, through a routine, song, rhythm…BUT, these little successes build. Over time the success they feel in your classes create more successful choices, making more successful and confident people, helping people have more successful lives. I have heard from many students the changes they are making in their lives b/c they have a place they feel good, confident and carefree. This gives them a place of comfort, a safety zone where they can rid their minds of negative thinking. If they have this, they begin to focus less on what others think of them and start taking charge of their lives. It happens over and over again. The students lift each other up, they feel more confident, happy, liberated that they pass that on. I’m sure you’re familiar with the Butterfly Effect. Here is a quote I love that goes along with it’s meaning-

“Each smallest act of kindness, reverberates across great distances and spans of time –affecting lives unknown to the one who’s generous spirit, was the source of this good echo. Because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage, years later, and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil.”

Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye The more people I have let into my life the more my life is changed for good.

This is why Zumba changes lives. Little acts of kindness, a smile, a compliment, a small success. The people who are there with you experiencing the same thing with each other create this amazing positive energy. It goes on and on and the ripple effect can be so far reaching. It starts with you, goes to your family, friends, co workers, associations. Then the banker, the grocer, the mail man, the post office employee.

I never thought of myself as an insecure person, I didn’t feel my life was empty or that I needed any more friends or anyone else in my life for that matter. I was content and happy.

The change in me has been huge. I see further than what’s in front of me, I have been so greatly impacted by this “workout craze” I hardly can imagine where I would be without it. My marriage is better, I am a better mom, I love more people, I am more confident, I am happier, I am no longer concerned with what anyone thinks of me. I try to be the best version of myself that I can. For those who don’t like it, I am ok with that, I love people and of course would hope they see the real ME but, I will not compromise my integrity to suit the approval of those whom I do not emulate. Positive, loving, uplifting-this is who I want to be. These are the qualities I go to bed hoping to improve on the next day. I see these qualities in those I surround myself with and I am grateful for those examples.

Zumba changed my life. It still is changing my life.

-Kass
This picture was from a conference we did in London. Here I am with Alberto Perlman CEO, Beto Perez Creator, and the ever talented and beautiful Gina Grant and Tanya Beardsley. This group has inspired me more than they will ever know. What I saw in them lit a fire, I became passionate about Zumba, I wanted to make others feel the way I felt when I was around them. For me, they are the heart of the company.

Dinner talk

Often times when I am just arriving home from a long trip (LA Zumba Instructor Conference and ZES meeting) my kids will want to go out and “celebrate” me being home. I love this tradition. 

As a child we never went out to dinner. I remember a few times going out to a restaurant with my siblings. My dad lived in a small apartment and didn’t have much space or cooking skills so we would eat out on Fathers Day. This was exciting for us until he would recommend The Chuck A Rama or El Pollo Loco or some hole in the wall restaurant who’s charm only Mike Akin could appreciate and we would complain and agonize over the meal ahead. The food ended up being pretty good but the time together was better. 

This isn’t quite the experience of my kids’ upbringing. We eat out much more than once a year. I quite enjoy eating out. With the crazy and demanding schedule we have it’s nice to have someone else do the cooking. Through splitting meals and finding the “biggest bang for our buck” type places we are able to do it pretty affordably.
While out on our “celebration” dinner earlier this week I asked questions to get them thinking and talking about other things. A couple questions I asked were:
If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?
This brought about some funny conversations. My son wanted to be wolf. He wanted to be with a pack and to run fast. My daughter wanted to be a chimpanzee b/c they live with families. My husband wanted to be the bald eagle to be at the top of the food chain and to be able to fly. Then I asked him the things he enjoys most about our life. He answered that marriage, family and spending time together are his favorite things. So then I asked him if that’s the case than why is it that he picked the animal that lives completely solo and isn’t part of a pack or herd? His rebuttal to this was that an eagle doesn’t realize he is alone, he is completely happy and content flying solo and has the same happiness and fulfillment families bring to us. 
 I chose to be a labradoodle. To be a family dog like Butters. Everyone quickly agreed and changed their answers, realizing that this pup we have, has it pretty dang good. 😀 Loved, played with, fed, washed, brushed, adored, happy, and part of a family. 
Another question I asked was, if you were a color what color would you be?
Dayne: “Red, red is like love and red is a noticeable color and is in nature.”
Bridget: “I would be Pink, because pink is sweet”
Bri: “I would be blue. (in a joking tone) because I have power like the sky and the ocean”
Me: “I would be yellow b/c it’s bright and happy”
Then I asked the kids what color they would describe me as:
Dayne: “I would say you are white b/c you are pure kindness”
Bridget; “I would say you are green, b/c clowns have green things and you remind me of a clown b/c you are funny”
I think these descriptions would change depending on the day but I don’t mind being a “Kind Clown” in my children’s eyes. 
I recently bought a game called the “Ungame” which is to be kept in the car or at the dinner table to strike up conversation with your family or friends. You draw a card and answer or discuss what’s on the card. With all the busy schedules we have between school, piano, gymnastics, dance, hip hop, basketball…I often feel like I’m just taking my kids to and fro and I don’t get to have those conversations near as often as I would like. I thought this game was brilliant for this purpose.
Anyway…just me and my ramblings. 😀
until next time,
Kass

Surprises you learn only when vacation with people

We just returned home from a great trip to Las Vegas and California with our friends the Bates family. This was the first time vacationing with another family that wasn’t our own relatives and it was AWESOME!!!

The Bates family is much like mine. Mom, Dad, son and daughter. Son is older, daughters younger. Our kids met while we were all in Miami this past summer. Loretta and I (along with other Zumba friends :D) were filming DVDs for the new consumer DVDs for Zumba. There was an instant connection between not only the kids but with the husbands, which isn’t always the case that all members of the family get along well. 
The guys starting talking about taking a family cruise sometime and how much fun that would be. Loretta and I couldn’t agree more! We assigned Morgan (Loretta’s husband) to finding a great deal. The great deal ended up coming at a weekend I was already booked and our timing just never seemed to work out. Brian and I have never been on a cruise, this trip is still on the bucket list.
We finally got together on a date, it was very last minute and a darned near miracle that Loretta and I didn’t have trainings that weekend. The stars seemed to align. 😀

We started the party in Vegas the “city of sin”, an unlikely place for two young families. We stayed off the strip at a casino, smoke and gambling free hotel, but the best part of this hotel was the amazing breakfast buffet!!! We ate like kings every morning! I love a loaded egg white omelet. Give me every veggie you can find, dump it in, grill it up, throw pico on there and I am in heaven! Not to mention the family favorites of: french toast, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, bagels…you get it. I am a “more bang for your buck’ kind of gal so this started every morning on the right foot.

We went to Michael Jackson One which was an INCREDIBLE show!!! This was so nostalgic for me-I listened to MJs records (yes records) day in day out growing up. I even listened to Weird Al Yankovich’s renditions…this was how much I loved those songs- I’m Bad vs. I’m Fat or even Beat It vs Eat It! As a kid I would often say that aside from my religious leaders Michael Jackson was going to be one of the first people I would want to meet in heaven. Forget George Washington, Albert Einstein it was straight to the King Of Pop. Every person in that theater was singing, clapping, dancing (ok maybe that was just me and Loretta) and having a great time. The dancers and performers were so so so good. I was an incredible tribute. My kids have me playing his songs over and over, all day, every day and my son has officially mastered  the moonwalk.

We did the Vegas staples-Cheesecake Factory, fountain shows at Bellagio (Brian and my favorite stop), In n Out, kids play area at the outdoor mall…and of course the standard talk with the kids, “DO NOT look at the people handing out cards…eyes forward!!, buddy system, stay together, DO NOT take pictures with the creepy characters bc they WILL want our money” they followed the rules perfectly. We even got to share the stage while in Vegas-Zumba style! We had a master class together at the Zspot which has such a great energy and ambiance. Eva Brammer, our friend we met at the DVD shoot in Miami hosted us and put on a party!! It was great to workout too, being that our attempts at this point had fallen fat, oh did I say fat! I meant flat. 😉

From Vegas we rented an 11 passenger van and with Brian at the wheel, made our way to California. I felt like a spectacle. This took my van experience to an entirely different level as I am used to a mini van and not one that can fit a small village. It was AWESOME!!! We sang Disney songs the whole way there. Loretta knew every word, I was amazed actually as I usually mumble through lyrics she could re-sight with such speed and accuracy. It was impressive to say the least, I realized at that moment that Disneyland may in fact be more of an activity for her than her kids. 😀

A have known Loretta for a few years now. Being that this was the first time we were together for an extended amount of time and not work related I felt like I could really get to know her, the mom, the wife, the woman, the kid at heart. I can see why she is so successful. I can see why she is adored not only at work but at home. I can see why she is so happy. I can see why I loved her from the start.

The first time I met Loretta was via skype while preparing for the Rush DVD in Exhilarate- Zumba’s consumer DVD collection which was in 2010 (I think). She and I would practice our songs together which always made me laugh b/c with the time delay we were always off and out of synch.  Then we were roommates during the shoot. She and I would talk and talk. She has always been encouraging and helped me get on my feet while starting out as a ZES. I had loads of questions for her and she is a task and detail oriented person so I counted on that strength for my lack there of.  I love working with her.

Even after knowing her for these past few years here are some things I learned while we vacationed together:
The girl loves candy-Hot Tamales and Red Hots are at the top of the list.
She has an answer for evertyhing-if she didn’t know it off the top of her head, she will quickly look it up and give you the answer.
She loves Mexican food
She is a roller coaster junkie
She walks at a much slower pace than I. When there was a ride we wanted to hurry to (which seemed to always be my plan) I would say “Come on! Let’s walk MARTIN style!” Everyone would pick up the pace and then ultimately a kids would say “Let’s walk BATES style!!!”

We did three days at Disneyland and California Adventure. We hit every ride, every snack station, every Disney character we could find for autographs. My feet burned for 72 hours straight. My voice hoarse from screaming on the roller coasters. My cheeks ached from smiling. We learned clapping games and songs to keep us and the kids entertained during longer lines as well as lyrics to the Pirates song, we watched the parades, the fireworks, light shows. I dare say we did it ALL!

Coming home from all the adventures is always bitter sweet.  I love pulling into the driveway and having that feeling of Home Sweet Home. I love the comfort of my neighborhood, the stores I frequent, my “second kitchen” Cafe Rio 😀 but I love being away from the typical distractions and responsibilities for just concentrated, fun loving time with my three favorite people in the world, and for this trip in particular, the added “sprinkles on top” of the Bates family.

Until next trip!!! Which is already being planned. ;D

Health changes for Mrs Martin

Whelp the time has come for me to give up a few of my favorite things. Yes, you have probably heard me say this before and yes I usually do this every Monday aka rededication day, but this time it’s different…It’s doctors orders.

You see, I am a forever foodie. I remember as a kid my mom would take me out to get a treat, I loved going out for a treat. I could have a stressful day, bad grades, bad boyfriend whatever, you add in a treat and all that stuff went away. Magical treats is what they should have been called.

Among some of my favorite treats were:
Frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon-strawberry with gummi bears on top  YES PLEASE
Skittles-original flavor YUM!
Alpine White-can you say AHHHH!? Have you ever tried an Alpine White??? If you haven’t you have missed out. I would say you’re missing out but no, you really did miss out b/c they are no longer on the market, at least from what I have seen in the past 15 years. Believe me, I have been looking. It is a delicious, smooth, white chocolate bar with little pieces of almond and nougat… are you drooling? 😀 White chocolate is a weakness for me-or should I call it a strength as it always seems to make things better?  I could go on…I won’t.

I recently got my blood work done. It has been something that has been looming over me for a while for many reasons. When you get your blood analyzed it can tell you a whole lot about what’s going on in your body. After all, we are what we eat…turns out I am just a pile of gluten and my body HATES it!

First words out of my doctor’s mouth when I saw him for my “results”? “Kass, you are going to hate me.” (no-“Hey Kass, how are you, good to see you???” Maybe he did say those things but I forgot them right away with his next line) “you have to go gluten free”  I think he was prepping me for the worst so Gluten Free seemed like a notch above. I more than anything felt like “Good! that’s actually fine, at least there are answers in these results as to why I haven’t been feeing 100%”

I like to eat healthy. My husband often says I am the best eater in the world until I am the worst! He is right. I can eat salads, veggies, fruits, lean proteins and my favorite homemade yogurt parfaits all month (ok, week) long and then I will literally have more cookies in one day/sitting than I care to admit. haha.

I would have whole wheat/low carb tortillas every morning with my egg whites and Fiber One cereal on top of those beloved parfaits…If you know me well, you know these are “Kass staples” and these “staples” were doing me NO FAVORS!! I thought I was being Miss Healthy and now I realize my body is not ok with these foods at all!!!

So here’s to a new me with new eating habits. Along with the gluten free diet I am now committed to, I am not drinking soda. I am not making promises on this one for the long haul but for now I get SOME soda once a week and that’s it! I will savor that Diet Mt Dew like it’s my last breath of air. You health nuts are saying to yourself “DIET SODA IS SO BAD FOR YOU!” YES, I know! I know!! but come on now, we all have our vices. I don’t judge if you don’t judge. And for Pete’s sake, I’m working on it.

This no soda kick will officially end on Halloween where I will reward myself with a pair of cool shoes as I decided for some reason to challenge myself to NOT BUY SHOES!!! til the end of the year. In actuality it was more of Brian saying “you seriously have a shoe problem” I then said “no way! I. Do. Not. I will show you!! In fact, I won’t buy shoes til the end of the year! HA! shoe problem??? Pah-leez!”

Turns out I think I have a shoe problem. 😀 I really do love getting cool shoes and with my work I feel like it’s all about the shoes! They can make me feel for an hour that I’m not a mini van driving mama but rather one cool chick! and that my friend, shows you the power behind the high tops. That being said-this little soda challenge brought some mercy out of Mr Martin and he said I could relapse and then jump back in til Christmas. I sure love that man. He gets me. He really does.

I really am a mini van fan. Yesterday Brian and I were driving to Ikea. We drove separately so Brian could continue onto a work appt. As I passed by him I asked “You think that girl is hot in her mini van?”(referring to myself jokingly) and he said “absolutely! I look at this woman driving that red mini van and say to myself “now that woman is sensible! and there is NOTHING sexier than a SENSIBLE woman” Oh Bri. Again, he gets me.

Back to gluten. Enough about my love of Diet Dew, mini vans and shoes. Turns out gluten is in a lot more things that I thought but, and this is a BIG BUTT, this day and age there are so many people with gluten allergies that there is a huge supply of gluten free foods… you just gotta know where to find them.

I’ll be posting some of my favorite survival foods and snacks here on the blog for anyone who thinks they may wanna give gluten free a try. I am on the prowl for tasty treats and tips. Just to clarify, I do not have ciliacs disease, that has far more restrictions and limitations, but I am (as of a week ago) gluten free. Yikes! did I just say that? I did. I really did.

Here’s to me feeling better the gluten free way.

-Kass

 Me and McDonalds are going to be taking a break…it’s ok…I know there are others who drive through just for the Diet Coke and they’ll be keeping the sales up til I’m back.

Feeding ducks

I was driving home from the airport yesterday from my trip to Montana for a Zumba training and master class. I usually would have been on the phone with my dad. He was the one who I called when I was driving for a long time and we would “shoot the breeze” as he would say.

He always answered my calls and was never in a hurry to get off the phone. Oddly enough, I am pretty sure everyone felt this same way. Mike Akin had time for you, that’s one thing you knew for sure.

I let my mind drift for a moment about my dad. I think about him all the time but I don’t always let myself get too deep, as this is when the tears come. We are sneaking up on two years since his death. He was exceptional. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that that man was my King.

I remember going to my dads apartment as a little girl. I remember the book shelves-avid reader, ever learning, I remember the chandelier-always letting me take home a “crystal”, and I remember feeding the ducks. This is where my mind drifted as I drove home.

The pond was just down the street from my dad’s apartment. We would grab bread and walk down. Slowly, never in a hurry but to enjoy the moment. He would let me feed the ducks at whatever pace I wanted, whole slices?? sure! little by little? no problem. He would sit and watch me and giggle. He would really laugh when the geese would come. These were no ordinary geese. They were larger than life and fueled with anger. They seemed to be the protectors of this pond and they saw me as a threat. I would start to run and scream and my dad would just laugh and swoop me up and we would walk to another area. He was always so calm. I remember two times my dad ever raising his voice at me.

I think of when my kids are irrational and Brian and I get the giggles because we understand the reality of the situation where as our children don’t. I am sure this is what brought about my dad’s laughter when these geese would have me seeing my life flash before my very eyes.

As a parent, I am constantly analyzing, comparing, studying my kids upbringing in comparison to my own. I want to create those memories where they can look back and think of the times spent together with happiness. I know I am not always the parent I want to be. Everyday I rethink my focus, my strategy (if you can call it that) and try new things the next day to improve. Being a parent isn’t about what I can teach them but rather what they can teach me. They make sure I am always learning. Ha! Thanks for that. 😉

This morning there were very little tears as I brushed the tangles out of my daughter’s hair. Bonus morning for us! Kids got to school on time and with a smile. Another bonus. I am now heading to the school to read with my son’s class. Bonus.

If I can slow my pace, laugh at the little things in life and realize that this too shall pass-to enjoy it while it’s here. I think I’m on the right track….now I just gotta stay put!