Sarita Rayna dances through life with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. Whether on the dance floor or on the trampoline with her children, Sarita finds joy in each moment. She is dedicated to being a great mother every day. Her commitment to health and movement inspires her to strive for the best. Sarita’s passion is contagious, and she is improving lives every day one salsa step at a time.
How did you meet your husband?
S: I arrived late to church and stole his seat. He was writing a piece of music for Christmas and asked me to dance for that piece of music the first day I met him.
Tell me about your children!
S: Alaysia is a spunky performer. She’s trying to imitate circus arts, the dancing and singing that she sees. We are pushing being bilingual, so we have a lot of Spanglish going on. They both are puzzle wizzes. Judah is very snuggly, loving and very verbal.
Three things you always have with you?
S: Water, dried mangoes, a book.
Three words to describe yourself?
S: Energetic, joyful, passionate.
First thing you notice about people when you meet them?
S: Their posture and how they walk.
Most recent proud parenting moment?
S: Alaysia reminded Judah that when we ask for something, we ask kindly and we don’t just say, “Give me that.”
How do you keep it all balanced?
S: A lot of time spent on my knees in prayer. Lunch with another mom who I look up to.
Greatest thing about being a mom?
S: Reliving childhood because I get to re-sing all the Disney songs, and watch their eyes light up at the same moments.
If you could invite anyone over for dinner, who would you invite?
S: Another musical family, acrobatic people, or Spanish speaking people so we could talk about their country and culture.
What’s something parents shouldn’t feel guilty about?
S: Kids’ outbursts of dancing and singing. I will be silly in public with my kids, so that they won’t be afraid of being themselves.
What good habit do you have that you would like to pass on to the kids?
S: Learn to discern God’s voice at a young age. It really doesn’t matter what they do because they will always be fulfilled. To serve God first, and we will always be proud of them.
Hardest thing about being a mom?
S: If I get enough sleep, I am more patient and graceful the next day. But if I don’t take care of myself, the next day or that week will be rough. It’s really choosing to take care of myself for their benefit every day.
How did you react when you found out you were going to be a mom?
S: I was on the vanity track. I thought, “Oh no. I’m never going to look the same.”
What do you like to do as a family?
S: Read books or jump on the trampoline. We have some really fun trampoline fights and wrestling.
What’s your parenting style?
S: The kids don’t run the show, but we’ve incorporated them to help mommy and daddy’s mission right now. They do get roles and value, but our lives come first. How we structure stuff is for their benefit, too. We stay true to our mission. They have given us more zeal to go after our dreams.
What’s one piece of advice you often give your children?
S: When they are alone or at night time, God puts angels around our house. We’re not going to live in fear.
How has parenthood changed you?
S: Motherhood has expanded my brain wave capacity. It’s also given me an extra layer of grace towards people, and an extra amount of love that I just want to share.
What’s your favorite time of day?
S: The morning. Kids are most cheerful. Morning is a new chance for that schedule to go right.
If you had 24 hours all to yourself, what would you do?
S: I would hike the Inca trail in Peru with a Spanish speaker and make my own food somewhere along the trail.
What advice would you give to other parents?
S: As we know, each child is unique, we need to not try to put our child in a mold, but there are some things that are standard. We still stick to disciplinary standards and health standards, but vary creativity with how we do those things.
What does creativity mean to your family?
S: For Justin as the lead of the house, he likes to do things that haven’t been done before. He is producing a show this month called Intensify that is totally new. In starting the salsa scene here, there wasn’t a dance community that didn’t dance before midnight. I saw a need for myself, and then becoming a mom, even more so, I wanted parents to come out and dance.
How does dance inspire parenting?
S: Rhythms for memory. You can clap and sing out tunes. We listen to three different Spanish albums. They have Latin backgrounds and salsa rhythms, but with Spanish words and phrases. And the kids are learning Spanish with these songs. I have also used dance moves and silliness to buy me time and see if they can replicate it.
Why salsa dancing?
S: I started at 19. I was teaching aerobics in Johnson City, Tennessee, and I met a guy who was going to teach salsa in the gym, and I said, I could do that. I was trying to learn how to be Puerto Rican and discovering my identity. I was already a teacher, and I wanted to be the one to bring salsa. I had to travel to become more trained. Asheville, North Carolina was my first experience salsa dancing with a big group, and it felt like the movies.
What do you want our readers to know about dance?
S: Parents need to do something new together. New is good. Couples need to have fun and do something physical together, something that they are both foreign to so they have to rely on each other. ■