I just needed a sign.
We're all exhausted. It's the last day The Dance Teacher Life Conference. Over 800 people have been learning, growing, challenging, and expanding their knowledge as dance educators and business owners.
As I walk into the room where Rhee Gold give us a little chat before heading off to our last few sessions of the weekend, I find a spot in the middle of the row with no one to my right or left so I can spread out a bit and take notes.
Then Rhee comes walking onto stage and starts speaking in his strong, thoughtful delivery.
He tells us how lucky we are and that we have this amazing gift of teaching dance. We get to share our passion to the next few generations. Do you know how many people look at us and would love to have our job?
"How cool is that?"
It didn't take long. The tears start to roll down my face as someone quickly scoots past me and sits to my right. Apologizing to me for being late while I move my purse out of her way.
"It's not about the Dancing, it's about the Dancer."
Reminding us that when things get super hard, we have the opportunity to watch that little girl put on her costume for the first time and see herself in the mirror and be so giddy excited with joy. Even though she will never actually get her shuffle ball change correctly.
I'm laugh/crying by now and wiping the tears away as I think about the oodles of students that I have watched light up when they get to put their costume on for the first first time. No matter what age or how many years they have danced.
And I can feel the person next to me looking at me.
Pull it together Melissa I say.
But then Rhee speaks as if I'm the only one in the room. Like he's taking me by the shoulders and looking into my soul.
"Don't compare yourself to anyone else in this room."
That is how I felt the whole weekend. Listening, watching and learning from people who are so much more successful, so much bigger, have so many more ideas, or students or money.
The negative self talk was in full force over the weekend. But I had to remind myself that I am here to learn, grow and stretch myself. Like my dad says, "You always want to be the dumbest one in the room."
And the tears flowed freely.
"You all have a gift. Your own gift to share with your people."
My people. Yes. They trust me to educate and value my work because they keep coming back.
And then this ~
"And don't think you're better than Dolly Dinkle who's out of her basement and can retire when she's sixty because she's profitable, while you struggle to pay your rent in your 3000 sf space with 200 students!"
I put my head in my hands trying to hide the tears that are streaming down my face. Desperately trying not to make any noise.
And I feel an arm around me. Taking a breath I look at her, and smile.
At the end of Rhee's "little chat" I tell her thank you and openly share that Rhee was speaking directly to me. I explained quickly that I'm that "Dolly Dinkle" and that I'm about to sign a lease on a 3000sf commercial property when I get back.
She looks at me, smiles and tells me her story.
"I started out of my basement. And then after a few years I went and built a house where I could have my studio out of my garage. A few years later I grew so big the county shut me down. It was then I went into my first commercial property. And guess what? I retired my husband and we have been in business for over 20 years."
And then, after asking my permission, she prayed with me and for my studio and all the fears and thoughts I was having about this big next step. It was a moment I will remember forever.
Afterwards I smiled and squeaked out, "There was a reason you sat next to me."
Then she quickly gathered her things and hurried off to the next session while letting me know her name was Mary. Or Marianne. Or Marylyne.
Seriously. I don't remember.
You guys, the only reason I ended up at that conference was because it worked in my schedule.
I went by myself. I learned, stretched and grew that weekend. I listened to business owners who made me think bigger and teachers who motivated me to do better. But what I will forever remember is that redheaded studio owner from Seattle who sat next to me the last day and saw a very raw Melissa that was wanting, needing, praying for a sign that now is the time to take the leap.
So on August 1st, The Dancing House officially has two locations. And it feels AMAZING!
What signs are you waiting for? Be observant. They are right in front of you.