Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Toastmasters CC#5: Spice Up Your Life with Salsa!

Spice Up Your Life with Salsa

About a year and a half ago, I had a Canadian coworker named Lisa who had started salsa dancing a couple of months before. She was obsessed. I mean, crazy about salsa. And she didn’t stop at being crazy about it- she wanted to make sure everyone else was crazy about it too. Every time I talked to her, she was like, “come to my salsa class!” “learn salsa with me!” “learn salsa!” “salsa salsa salsa!” Finally, I said, “If I go to your salsa class for one month, will you shut up?”

That’s when I learned to always say yes to new opportunities. Now it’s me telling everyone, “come salsa with me!” “salsa is amazing!” “salsa salsa salsa!” and salsa has been at the core of a long-lasting and supportive friendship between Lisa and me. Not only has salsa taught me to always say yes, it has also taught me to be flexible and to keep learning.

Say Yes
In salsa clubs, there are usually half men and half women. When a new song starts, the men choose a new woman to ask to dance, and the woman must say yes. Well, she can say no if she’s too tired, but if there’s any other reason it’s just rude. In life as well, it’s a good policy to always say yes unless you have a very good reason not to. I’m so happy I said yes to Lisa and started salsa, but there are other things you can say yes to that open new doors.
When I started dating Donghee, he invited me to Gyodae Toastmasters Club (GDTM). I thought, it’s way too early in the morning (9am on a Saturday), and I’m American so I don’t need an English class. I was sure it was going to be stupid and I honestly didn’t want to go. But I said yes anyway, and now GDTM is one of the most meaningful parts of my life.
Donghee also asked me back in March to go with him to POCO TM, and I ended up getting a wonderful job because I said yes. Of course, now because of a visa issue I’m looking for another job again, so I’m hoping to get another chance to say yes soon!

Be Flexible
             Whenever you say yes and try something new, you gain a new skill or a new perspective. With salsa, I quite literally became more flexible. But also, I became more flexible in my judgments of people.
             There’s a guy who goes to one of the salsa clubs I often visit who is middle aged, a bit large, short, missing a couple of teeth, and smells funny. The first time he asked me to dance, I really didn’t want to say yes. You can imagine why. But to my surprise, that man is an excellent dancer and a fun, patient teacher. I’ve learned so much from him and I really look forward to dancing with him now. There are many other people who, when I first see them, I judge them one way, but on the dance floor they become completely different people. Gorgeous women can be stiff dancers, and one of the best dancers I’ve ever seen looks like a chubby, crazy ajumma. What looks like fat on her is muscle and she moves like water.
             It’s human to judge people when we first see them, but to be flexible is to allow that judgment to be changed just as easily as it was made. People and things are not always what they seem, and they can change quickly, too, including you. If you allow your perceptions and yourself to be flexible, your life will have more variety and you can have more opportunities. Just as on the dance floor, flexibility allows a dancer to try more daring and expressive dance moves and have more fun, flexibility in you allows you to take on new challenges and succeed once you’ve said yes.

Keep Learning
             By saying yes to new opportunities and being flexible to make the most of them, you open doors to keep learning. Like I said before, I’ve learned so much from the man I really didn’t want to dance with at first, and my perception of him has changed from disgust to respect and friendship. Every time I dance with him or with other people who are better dancers than I am, I get the opportunity to learn a pattern I didn’t know before. The more patterns I can follow, the more fun it is to dance, and the more pride I have in my dancing. The more pride I have in my dancing, the more self-esteem I have. The more self-esteem I have, the happier I am.
             When I’m down, I can tell myself all the things I’m good at to feel better. I can’t be good at anything if I don’t say yes and keep learning. Also, the process of learning has been shown in surveys around the world to be an essential factor for happiness, notably leading to a focus on education by organizations such as UNESCO. One thing I learned from talking to neurologists is that lifelong learning engages the brain and can delay dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (치매). All this points to learning being a good thing.
             Whether what you learn is salsa or something else, a hobby that lets you keep learning is good for everyone. Salsa gives me social comfort and a way to let off stress with Lisa, and keeps me healthy because it’s really good exercise. I can keep learning more and improving more forever, as there is no age limit or graduation from salsa. Even when I’m old, I can dance with people in the nursing home. If you have a hobby like salsa, I guarantee you will be happier as long as you keep learning and growing.

Whether you dance salsa or learn a language or attend GDTM, there are three things you can do to spice up your life that I learned from salsa: say yes, be flexible, and keep learning. If you never try anything new, your life will be flavorless like nacho chips with no salsa sauce. If you open yourself up to new opportunities and stick with them, you too can spice up your life!
If you would like to see what a salsa club is like, just let me know and I’ll take you to one and teach you some basic steps. Say yes!

1 comment:

  1. Mexican food is one of my favorites. Spicy, salty and sour. They are so good for my taste buds.