Sunday I did something completely outside my comfort zone. A friend convinced me to go to S Factor, which if you don’t know it’s a pole dancing class.

If you know me then you know I’m not generally a person who shows much skin, or considers themselves athletic; two things I’d consider rather helpful in a pole dancing class. However my friend has been doing this class for years, and I’ve never known someone who moves more fluidly in their daily life. She just seems comfortable in their body. She has admitted that it hasn’t always been so and especially after having her last baby, she struggled. When she said they would have a free class/campfire that was open to anyone and that I should come, I did.

This last year and half has brought to my awareness how uncomfortable I am in my body. It’s always been hard for me to love myself, especially on the outside.

However once I had Juniper it became even more difficult all the while knowing it was even more important. I have tried yoga, having personal training sessions at the gym and walking with a friend. All of those were… fine I guess. But none of them made me feel more in touch with my body, more content with myself and none gave me a cathartic release that I was apparently desperately in need of and I had heard pole dancing could provide.

So as I walked in Sunday I had butterflies in my stomach.

My friend offered me a preparatory glass of wine at her house and I was very glad I had taken it.  I was so nervous as I saw this room full of women in varying levels of undress. There was the newbies like me who were in yoga pants and tank tops. Then there was the women who had come to find a second home in this space. They wore layers of stretchy clothing but very few were wearing pants. The lights were turned down low and the teacher started talking about what would happen. She and another teacher would be doing a dance as an example. That this class would be a combination of talking about how we can get in touch with our soulful sirens inside of us and watching and then trying it for ourselves.

It started at 6:30, by 7:30 I was fully immersed. The music came on and sad soulful songs dragged my spirit into the connection between all of us. The basest of our desires and selves came out. Just during the warm up itself I felt my walls coming down. I took off my shirt and felt comfortable moving in just my sports bra and leggings. We stretched our limbs and put our cores to work and yet at no time did I feel like I was in the wrong place like I did in yoga, when I’d look around and compare to everyone around me. Each woman was moving so differently. Yes we were following the basic direction but as my feet cramped up I felt no shame in moving  a different way. The lights were low and candle light was constantly keeping us in the head space of ‘this is a private moment we share together.’

Something tribal moved inside me. As I swayed and pressed my body into directions it hasn’t moved in years I started to sob. I felt something break and be reborn. I realized I hadn’t moved freely to music in this way since I was a teenager.

Since the days when I had such freedom and privacy that putting on loud music and moving my body whatever way it saw fit was a normal occurrence.

I did ballet all growing up and my favorite moments were when I was at home putting myself through the paces but with my heart thrown in and there being no set routine. When I could feel the music move me. I let myself feel that way again. For so long my body had felt useless, weak and not made for physicality. That is the struggle with chronic illness, you learn to hold yourself close for fear of pain. My Fibromyalgia had taught me a cautiousness that kept me from trying anything too hard. Instead in this moment I let myself move without fear. And it WAS painful, but it was worth it.

After the first set of exercises the teacher turned to me and said “You move so beautifully”. I felt that way too. I felt joyous and sad for myself that I had lost my ability to give in to this feeling. I was very aware that I had been putting myself last on the list of things to take care of in our life. As a mother this happens far too often. As a mother and business owner its practically a stereotype. As I laid there stretching my legs into a split I felt my body and spirit make a realization that it was time to put myself first again.

As the class progressed I watched body after body move in different ways with different results. These pole dancing women looked beautiful and powerful.

One of my favorite things was seeing that each body looked so different. So many skin tones and shapes and yet each one was beautiful and sensuous and so damn comfortable. We banged on the floor and whooped and hollered each time someone made a movement that stopped us with its beauty.  There was so many mothers in this room and even some grandmothers. Very few were young and perfectly formed without scars and the ones that were had just as much reason to be there. We supported each other as we recognized the soulful siren in each of us. The need for release. My friends and I bonded in a way that women rarely do.

Without competition, without walls or protective fences. With pure love and support.

My friend had brought myself and another newbie and we both left that room with an awareness we didn’t have before. Of the beauty inside ourselves that needed to get out. That the sadness and struggle didn’t have to make us small and tight but could be let loose in a torrent of emotion and vulnerability and strength. We signed up for classes and as I left the teacher came to me again and said how beautifully I moved, was surprised this was my first class. Because I had given myself fully to the experience.

No one had told me in a very long time I was good at something physical. No one had told me I moved beautifully.

I had been awkward and tense for the last 15 years of my life. It was freeing. We cried together we hugged and I told her I’d be back. Pole dancing was for me, it made me feel strong and wonderful. Because there is such beauty in the movement, the movement towards each other. The divine feminine power we can find in each other and ourselves.