Connie Rotella started dancing at five years old. At 13 years old, producers wanted to hire her to go on tour. The only little obstacle was that her dad believed it was important that she focus on school and going on tour would interfere with her having a successful future.
This is where her life’s journey began.
A journey which has allowed her to grow with hope, faith, creativity and a passion for life!
Meet Connie Rotella:
The Beauty of Not Knowing and Exploring Curiosity
At 13 years old, I wasn’t thinking about my future or having a career. I couldn’t understand any of it. On one hand, I had my dad who didn’t want me to continue dancing professionally at all. On the other hand, I had mentors who encouraged and supported my path in a dancing career. I know now that my innocence in not being able to grasp the whole concept of having a career was the beauty in all of it.
The only thing I was certain about is that I loved learning and exploring new things. I wanted to continue dancing and going to school and find out for myself. I realize now just how much I was blessed with the wonderful gift of being able to learn and explore my curiosity because of the amazing mentors who took me under their wings. They handled my parents by talking to them, ensured my safety on tour and spoke with my school to ensure I wouldn’t miss any exams. So, having these great people in my life, my dancing career lead to choreography, to artistic director, and to acting.
The curiosity I had from my young age, remained instilled within me. I continued taking courses on topics that interested me. One of the courses I took was in marketing. Our final project was to put together a business plan on opening a business. Of course, my project was on opening a dance school. I named the studio “Dance 1… 2… 3…” and it was located in this very location it is today. Now, this was eight years prior to opening this dance studio. Back then, I had absolutely no intention of opening a dance studio. Even after I got married, my husband followed me when I was on tour. My dream was to live like Celine Dion. I thought, “We’ll have a family and keep on touring together.”
Allowing Your Dream to Change
Then, one day, when I was pregnant with my first son, my husband and I were driving. I looked out the window and saw a “For Rent” sign outside this very building. I immediately turned to my husband and said, “I can’t believe I’m going to open my own dance studio!” He stared at me for a while and said, “What are you talking about?” I pointed to the sign and said, “Look, that sign is staring at me in the face. The business plan I put together eight years ago was at this exact location. I can’t ignore it.”
I called the owner and scheduled a visit for that same week. The following week, all the papers were signed. I was opening Dance 1.., 2.., 3…
Was I giving up on my original dream of being a dancer?
Not at ALL!
My dream was to pursue dancing. Remember, I told you about my hunger for learning and exploring. My curiosity for exploring life made me grow and change. I believe we all change through our life experiences. It’s important not to resist those changes. Otherwise, we end up missing the opportunities that are right in front of us. Keep your dreams alive, don’t give up on them.
But, be willing to let go of fixed thoughts or plans.
Surrender to change and the possibility of what your dream may become. For me, my dream would be manifested in a new way; opening a dance studio. Things happen for a reason, your heart will reveal all if you listen.
This is the only truth I have come to know.
You see, later that year on November 2005, when I gave birth, my son was born with a heart malformation and needed open heart surgery at three days old to keep him alive. I was terrified, confused and couldn’t understand what was happening. Again, not understanding stopped me from shifting in becoming a victim in this situation. I didn’t have time to give any thoughts to what was going on. I met with the surgeon and asked, “What do we have to do? What does my son need?” He explained everything that he would do to save my son’s life. Within three weeks of the surgery, my son came home. I was filled with immense gratitude and wanted to give back by helping others.
The studio opened in August 2006. I had so much energy with running the studio and getting involved in organizing many fund raisers for the Montreal Children’s Hospital. It opened a door to other departments in the hospital calling me to help with fund raiser events. I created many heart production events for my son with a song titled “Heart of Life”.
Then four years ago, about a year after I gave birth to my second son, my energy took a fall. At some point, I kind of lost myself in the whole “helping others” part of my life.
I was raising two kids, running my own business, I was doing production shows, I was holding fund raisers and somehow, I was helping people around me with their personal life situations.
Through all this, I got lost!
Listen to Your Body
I began to feel less energy and started feeling exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping at night. My tummy would hurt and felt anxiety. I was in an environment that I loved, yet my body felt congested. Then about two years ago, my body literally gave out and collapsed. I was in bed for four days without being able to move. I’ve always listened to my heart, this time my heart was telling me to listen to my body.
The icing on the cake was on April of this year when my husband needed surgery to have a tumor in his kidneys removed. At the same time, my mom was also ill and hospitalized. Meanwhile, I had a year end production show to put together and was taking care of my kids on my own. I didn’t question or try to understand what was happening. I just accepted and faced learning what I needed to learn. I had to trust myself in getting through this. The time I was in the hospital for my husband and mom, I met truly amazing people who educated me on nutrition and guided me to cope with stressful circumstances. People who helped me understand that before I could be of any help to others, I needed to take care of myself and immediate family first.
It’s Ok to Slow Down for Selfish Time
I took a few major steps back and gave my undivided attention to learning about nutrition and meditation. I made the necessary changes, the basic root foundation changes which provided my mind and body with the proper fuel to bring positive changes in my life and my family’s life.
I mean, I had my own family situations and health situations to deal with. I realized that at some point, I felt I was not able to resolve my immediate situation and distanced myself hoping it would resolve on its own. By trying to save the outside world instead, I felt I was still doing something good. It just doesn’t work that way.
First, I had to learn to say NO!
One of the hardest things for someone who wants to save everyone is saying NO.
I just began to let go. Let go of emotional attachment to people and also, let go and say no to extra activities.
Second, I learned to understand my body in order to heal myself:
- The importance of getting enough sleep
- Feeding my body the right food
- Meditation and reconnecting with myself
By taking some selfish time for myself, my family’s foundation and health has tremendously strengthened and improved. Today both my husband and mom are fine.
Being of Service to Others
Now, of course I wanted to share what I had come to learn with others. I mean I still wanted to help others. This time, I had a solid foundation and a solid road map to be of service to others. The love for what I do was always there, the difference is that now I don’t feel suffocated by that love.
I realized that helping others didn’t mean I had to drain myself by making the problems of the world become part of my life. Everyone has their own journey and I’m someone they cross on that journey, not their destination.
Last September, I began hosting conferences and workshops at my studio every Sunday. I called them Fun Sundays where I invite an expert in a certain field to come in and educate people in my community. We’ve had sessions on nutrition, meditation, yoga, and cooking classes.
By doing this, people come together and support and encourage each other in making positive changes in their lives. Through these sessions, I continue to learn from their own learning process, instead of trying to be the one that fixes their situations. I’m learning now that I cannot stop anyone, not even my own children, from failures or mistakes. They are part of their learning experiences. We never stop learning and growing.
My life’s journey has always been lead by my heart. I know my journey has not come to an end. I will forever be a student of what life has to teach me. Sometimes, things happen that we just can’t seem to understand. It’s ok not to understand. Some things are beyond anything we can understand with our minds. If we let go and surrender to them, our hearts will guide us through amazing possibilities of whatever our dreams may become.
How about you? Have you ever surrendered to a life’s situation and let your heart guide you?