/// I . W A S . B R O K E N . O P E N ///
June 29, 2018

Life is full of stories. Stories we read. Stories we hear, stories we tell others, and stories we tell ourselves. We each play the main character in our novel called life, unaware of how each ordinary moment, every little story connects us to the next chapter. Day by day our story continues to be written with memories and experiences flowing into each other. The chapter I’m currently living has introduced me to Oula, and with it has come the realization, acceptance and appreciation of the earlier chapters in my life. With Oula I can see my story.
When I first saw the advertisement for Oula in 2015, I thought it looked fun but didn’t think I would ever actually go. I was too afraid. Growing up I was consistently teased about my larger size, kids mooed and laughed up until high school where they forgot me all together. I believe this part of my childhood, the emotional side of my ADHD, and my Libra tendencies, are why I have always had a difficult time accepting the many injustices of the world.  Our culture considers the quality of being laid back and easy going as the ideal, and anything else is usually categorized as being difficult or high strung. I quickly learned to ignore my lingering thoughts of confusion about why things worked the way they did. In the past when I asked questions or voiced my concern about the unfair parts of society I didn’t understand, I was usually told “it’s not a big deal”, “there’s nothing we can do about it”, or “it doesn’t matter”.  What I heard, however, was “I don’t matter” and this feeling of unworthiness strengthened with each passing year until it took on a life of its own, feeding off each rejection, hurtful word, and broken heart. Throughout my life I have subconsciously tried to quiet and numb the part of my mind that loudly whispered “I’m not enough” however I could. My arsenal of strategies included food, drugs, sleeping, and boys I thought I could fix. In the end however, this feeling of shame became part of my identity. I was bitter, resentful, angry and full of fear. Walls of defense surrounded me at all times, guarding me from anything I had no control over and protecting my heart from any possibility of vulnerability. 
In August of 2017, the relationship I desperately held on to ended. The last couple months had been an emotional rollercoaster full of lies and manipulation. I’ve been through break ups before, but this time was different. This time I also lost a daughter. Although I didn’t give birth to her, this 5-year-old girl who loved calling me mom had made her way into my heart and I never got to say goodbye. I never got to tell her that I love her, that it wasn’t her fault. Sacrificing my own sanity, I ignored the red flags and obvious lies, allowing the manipulation to continue so I could continue to play the role of Scarlyt’s mom. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough, I wasn’t enough. I was the second mother in her short life to abandon her and I felt like a failure. Knowing I let her down, knowing she wouldn’t understand why I left, and knowing she would be led to believe I made the decision to leave her behind twisted something inside me that I didn’t think was repairable. I was broken. 
Buried under layers of grief and regret, I spent the next 3 months hiding from my emotions. The anger simmered right at the surface, threatening to boil over into a puddle of what was left of me. Also leaving with the relationship was my identity. Without a purpose. I felt lost in my own existence. With the intention of finding myself again, I decided to try counseling.
Fortunately, I found a counselor that I connected with this time and over the first couple appointments I relived my breakup, getting every emotion out of me through tears and stories. Carrie, my counselor, recommended I check out a Ted Talk about vulnerability by Brene Brown.  That night after watching it I was in a state of awe. The researcher story teller Brene Brown reminded me of myself with her love of control and finding answers. The part of her personal story that seemed to ignite something inside of me was her breakdown, or as her counselor had put it, spiritual awakening. My mind raced back to recent events where I heard that term for the first time.
Over the past 3 years or so, I had a strange habit of looking at the clock at exactly 9:11. At least a couple time a week I would see those numbers everywhere. It was strange, but I just thought it was a coincidence. It wasn’t until after the breakup that I finally decided to look up possible meanings when this started happening daily. This took me down the never-ending rabbit hole of spiritual awakenings, energy, synchronicity, light workers, angels and some term called “woo woo”.
I thought this was all fascinating of course but didn’t take it too seriously. I was an Atheist. A proud atheist even. The topic of religion was one I avoided.  My doubt and endless questions that no one had answers to seemed to offend people. I found the idea of non-believers going to hell offensive and unfair, a manipulation tactic.
I still get goose bumps thinking about the events leading up to my first Oula Class. I was in my car driving home, feeling more hopeless then ever when I let my new knowledge of spirituality guide me through a break down. I wasn’t sure who I was yelling at, god, angels, or my higher self but I let them have it. After the initial blaming and cursing I told them I was done. I told them I surrendered and begged through sobs for some sign on what my next step was. I promised not to mess up this time.  Please help me was the last thing I said before I pulled myself together and started laughing. I had finally lost it. 
 It was only 4 days after my little tantrum in the car that I stumbled upon information online about an Oula class in Kalispell. My initial response was to keep scrolling, but then the words that resonated so deeply from the vulnerability speech bombarded their way past my fear. It takes being vulnerable to create connection. With hesitation but also determination I took a deep breath and made the decision to attend the next day’s class. I made the decision to put myself out there, to actually try without letting my fear hold me back.
I knew Oula was different when half way through I looked in the mirror and realized I had a smile on my bright red, sweat covered face. When the class was over, not only was the smile still there, but this incredible feeling like an electrical current was coursing through my body. I have attended almost every class since and I still find myself smiling every time.
It wasn’t until a couple months later that I could see the whole picture. The moment that finally brought everything into perspective was during our cool down “Next to me” by Imagine Dragons. There is a part in the song that says, “Thank you for taking a chance on me, I know it’s not easy, but I hope it was worth it.”  Without understanding why, I found myself sobbing in the back of the class as I went through the moves. I wasn’t even sure who I was thanking until I found out that the move we do during that one part means something similar to “surrender”. My breath was stolen from me as I remembered my breakdown in my car. I had screamed “I surrender”. I had this feeling of clarity as each little moment connected to now. Like puzzle pieces finally put in their place, I saw the final picture. It was me.  Just like Brene Brown had written in one of her articles, I had been at war with the universe until I finally unraveled, admitted defeat, and surrendered. And when I finally looked into the universes eyes, I saw my own staring back at me.
I realize now that I was correct about being broken, but as Kali put it, I was broken open. It took my secular brain a while to accept the idea that maybe, just maybe there is more to life than I thought. My initial reaction to feeling that I was always meant to find Oula was one of anxiety. Am I losing my mind? Anxiety was quickly replaced with awe as I learned more about Oula through the Podcast. After listening to Kali and Bernice talk about the parts of life I am so passionate about and laughing with them as they laughed at each other, I knew I had found my people.
Oula has changed my view of life from cynical suspicion to grateful amazement. Somehow just 2 hours away from where I live in Montana of all places, Kali created this class that has helped transform my life in a way that I didn’t even know I was needing.  It still blows my mind when I think about all the ways Oula fits perfectly in to my life, from my favorite movies being musicals to dance being one the most beneficial exercises for someone with ADHD. It has also allowed me look at the painful moments of my past in a new light.  If it wasn’t for those dark experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
When I first decided to write about why Oula means so much to me, I thought it was going to be easy. Yeah, I was wrong. It turned in to this learning experience that put me on the edge of giving up multiple times. It turns out that describing something in words to show others how you felt is very difficult when you don’t understand what happened yourself. What I do understand, however, is that I Oula because for the first time in my life I feel brave, proud, and hopeful. I Oula because twice a week I get to dance with the amazing women I have met. I Oula because when I’m in that room, laughing and moving and just feeling my emotions, I can feel this energy that reminds me everything is going to be ok. It’s times like this, when I can feel this energy, that I look around and see everyone else also feeling their emotions, in a way that says you’re not alone. Thank you so much for creating this space for me, and every other woman out there who has needed the reminder that they are not alone and that they are enough. Thank you.
This post was written by the incredible Caity in Kalispell, MT.  Caity, we are amazed and so grateful to hear about your journey and sharing it with us.  Thank you for being part of the tribe!

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