New Year Reflections from Rachel Cassandra

My experiment in August and September of 2014 failed to inspire in me a regular personal blogging habit. Still, as we enter a new year I find I’d like to share a little!

Kizomba Community has been going strong now for a full two years. It has gone through a few incarnations, but I’m quite pleased with the present one. Kizomba has been continuing to grow exponentially in the USA. It was amazing to see us reach a point where it was impossible to track all the classes and socials happening. It was also wonderful to have so many people step up and accept the role of Ambassadors, volunteering to serve as contact points for others looking for kizomba in their cities.

For myself, the last couple of years have been a whirlwind of travel, running kizomba workshops not only nationally but in several countries. Of course I’ve attended festivals to further my own learning as well. I have loved introducing people to kizomba, encouraging new scenes, and seeing enthusiasts commit to learning and then teaching in their turn. I have been so lucky to work with a number of wonderful people – fellow teachers, local organizers, and gracious partners. Connecting with people who value social dance, learning, and community constituted the finest moments of my tours.

As good as it’s been, I’ve decided to make a few changes this year.

1. I want to travel less this year.
What? No, really. 2014 & 2015 were great fun, but they were also very demanding. Being on the road full-time, sometimes 2 cities in a week for weeks at a time, means giving up other good things about life. I need better balance this year.
Of course, I’ll still be doing much more travel than the average American! I’ll continue to post my itinerary as well.

2. I need to prioritize relationships.
I want to spend more time with my close friends and family. That means longer stays in the places they live. I want to have time to cook dinner, go hiking, frequent weekly socials, have dates, attend birthday parties, and so on. It’s fun to meet new people and connect with kizomba-lovers all over the place, but these brief contacts don’t replace the meat of relationships.

3. Whole-heartedness really matters to me.
I don’t want to say “yes” anymore unless I am enthusiastic. Not to a party, not to a trip, not to a date, not to a class. In the same way, I don’t want to waste my time on people or dance scenes that aren’t whole-hearted and enthusiastic about having me. Nothing feels worse than pouring time and energy into an event, only to find your collaborator hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain, or that another organizer has created an event meant to actively compete with yours, or that the festival doesn’t see women as professionals in their own right. Especially when staying professional yourself requires never revealing the truth of these situations. I know I’m not the only one who deals with these disappointments and conflicts, but I am choosing to steer clear as much as I can. I’d rather miss out on an opportunity than subject myself to further negativity, disrespect, profiteering, and politics. I’m choosing quality over quantity this year when it comes to my teaching engagements.

4. I believe in communication, not marketing.
I know that marketing does bring business success, but it has always been uncomfortable for me. In the spirit of whole-hearted actions, I’m going to let it go. No more marketing campaigns for Kizomba Community. No more Facebook “fan page” for me. I will of course continue to post all US kizomba events on this site, and I will share my own classes on my Facebook wall. I will write informative articles and share others’ blog posts and videos. I also want to do interviews whenever possible. However, these will be community activities, for the community to take or leave as they choose. Perhaps it’s not realistic, but I want my work to stand on its merits.

Thank you to everyone who has supported Kizomba Community this year by sending me updates, making contributions or buying videos, and sharing with your friends. Thanks to all of you who are out there working hard to spread kizomba, build your scenes, and keep the community healthy. Thank you to those who welcomed me in their towns, helped organize workshops, expressed their appreciation for my teaching or writing, or encouraged and inspired me from afar. I hope 2016 will be a year of personal balance and kizomba joy for all of you!

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