First published in the BC Catholic Newspaper on July 28 2022 https://bccatholic.ca/voices/lisa-rumpel/it-s-ok-to-be-a-beginner
Sweat drips down my face as I dance in a church basement in New Westminster. My back and hips start to ache.
Wow, do I need to stretch out after this!
I dance for the joy of it and for my mental health.
I show up for myself in dance practice with the traditional dances of Peru. In May, I joined Roots Peruvian Folk Dance, a group that my friend Jazz invited me to.
When I am good at one thing it makes me feel confident. These dances are new and unfamiliar. But I’m learning them with excitement. I’ve heard that the feelings of nervousness and excitement are the same. I choose to reframe my nerves to be enthusiastic.
My mindset matters. I notice when I’m anxious and try to change my thoughts about being a beginner. It’s okay to start from less training.
It’s okay to be a beginner.
“Anxiety is the heat of the forge. Forging our character,” says Dr. Kevin Majeres in The Golden Hour, Episode 106, Challenging Anxiety.
My background of dancing in many genres empowers me to perform with confidence.
Jesus calls me to come and use my voice. “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is comely. (Song of Songs, 2:14)
In the way I move – I do it for the glory of God. He is the only one who sees me inside and out.
I took a risk signing up for the group.
Would it be too much for me or just the thing I need?
It does tire me out and it’s very good exercise. It’s a big commitment and it’s exhilarating to perform. Practices are twice a week and we have festivals almost every weekend in the summer.
Learning a dance from a beautiful culture is a lot of fun. And it’s hard work.
After work one day I almost left the building without making a visit to the chapel. I felt a nudge to pray. When I got to the chapel with my worries and fears, I knelt down.
Lord speak to me.
I heard in my heart, “Draw on my strength.” I left the chapel with the desire to go to confession and Mass at the cathedral.
Practising my faith also helps to forge my character. And dancing helps me grow in virtues like commitment, self-discipline, reliability, and confidence.
I believe the Lord delights in my dancing – even if it’s not as perfect as I would like. I choose confidence for I know it pleases him.
During the Latin festival Carnaval del Sol, I felt jitters that there was such a large turnout. But as soon as I got on the stage and saw my family and friends in the front row, I relaxed. I wanted to do my best for them. I put in all my effort to perform with excellence. As well as focusing on remembering the choreography. It was easier to dance around the stage with their familiar faces looking on.
It was nerve-wracking having a camera crew filming up close. But I ignored the fact that they were there and had fun.
I am so grateful for my life and for the body God gave me. When I was a baby, I had a sickness that could have crippled my left arm. My parents took me to the hospital and the doctors were able to give me the right medicine to heal me. I will never forget that miracle. I am able to type out this article and do so many other things with my healthy arm.
St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote, “Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing. Do everything for Love. Thus there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in little things for Love is heroism.”
Whether I am working in the office or dancing on a stage I remember that I am doing it for “the love of God and the love of others,” as Deacon Bruce Fraser recently said in a homily. I am reminded “to remain centered in God.”
When I dance at the upcoming festivals, I will remain steadfast in doing it in joy and love.
The Will to Thrive: Stories of Resilience podcast, is available on popular streaming services.