Home Away From Home
A long time ago my dance instructor told me, “If you are ever lost just remember the dance studio will always be home.” We all have those epic years when events happen and our life gives us the option to take one of two paths; 2013 was that year for me. I was in a relationship that was both full of this love and obsession that were fueled by toxic emotional abuse; it just ate me alive. We were surviving on our witty banter, shared experiences, and lots of crème brûlée. We were both very lost and something told me that our love for each other would never be enough if we first didn’t learn to love ourselves. In 2012 I made a new year’s resolution to find myself again; no matter the consequences.
I started having panic attacks shortly after making that resolution. I would just get worked up about anything and crumble up into an asthmatic, wheezing, ball. I started seeing a therapist and from day one he knew I was hiding inside this exterior of perfection; completely afraid of living in the present. He prescribed books, tea on rainy days, and yoga outside of my sessions. I was terrified of what was to come when I walked into my first yoga class and then after the flow I felt this Zen. I felt a peace that I almost didn’t recognize because it had been years since my last experience. Yoga quickly became part of my daily life. Along with yoga came meditation, journaling, reiki, and Eastern medicine.
I started to have this sense of independence in my relationship. There were days I wanted to be alone. There were norms that I felt needed to change and I started speaking up. But, still I was terrified of the consequences of my actions; I still felt there was so much to lose. During my journey of self-discovery I also tried all sorts of jobs. I was just trying to find my way in the adult world of careers. Unfortunately for me my degree in medieval studies was not leading me to very lucrative roles as an expert on fairytales for historical documentaries. Then one day, at short lived job, fate stepped in and Amy walked into my life. There was something easy about our conversations; we both loved dance music, cheerleading, and we quickly discovered, pole dancing.
Amy told me she had recently been off work and training for a workout program in Chicago. We hadn’t started training together right away due to this time off for her new passion. Our conversation continued and she blurted out, “I am going to open a pole dancing studio!” My response, “I have a pole at home and can only figure out how to do four things on it!” We very quickly made the group decision to visit a couple potential studio spaces for what would become Flirt instead of working for the rest of the day. I left the job a few weeks later. Amy and I stayed in touch; in February 2013 I got the text. She found a space to launch her first classes for Flirt Fitness. I was thrilled I could dance again, use all my flexibility I gained from yoga, and maybe it would help sexy up my relationship.
I will never forget the day I walked into a little gym in Eastown with my two girlfriends. There was Amy setting up the poles and after the rest of the women arrived we watched the level one routine. We were a band of misfits that came together once a week and with each one that passed something was happening to us; we were coming out of ourselves. We formed a Sisterhood and I quickly learned we all had a story. Some of their experiences were similar to mine while others were foreign, but I still felt like we could support one another. I felt very honest and open for the first time in a long time. I was no longer satisfied being in a relationship with someone who didn’t want to work on themselves and dismissed the journey I was on as well as my new needs. Dance was the missing piece of my self-discovery puzzle and Flirt brought back into my life.
Flirt soon grew and moved into the Grand Rapids Studio on Plainfield. I encountered and connected with more and more women. I was loving this new tribe I was a part of and these strong women consistently amazed me. I credit the Sisterhood that Amy brought into my life in 2013 through Flirt as being the final stone laid in the foundation that is now my life. My old dance instructor was right; the studio did feel like home. It was there in Studio B in Grand Rapids that during meditation I wrote a note to myself to live my life as the best version of me.
I found the strength to finally end that relationship that no longer served me shortly after my one year anniversary at Flirt. I am now thankful for the experience because it brought me to where I am today; I send him love and light. I am no longer a victim and I don’t pole dance to make the man in my life happy anymore. When I am at home, in the studio, with my sisters, and the music plays; I defy gravity. I am strong and I am confident. I am wife, I am dog mom, I am a business professional, I am an activist, I am a yogi, I am a dancer, and thanks to Amy I am a member of the Flirt Sisterhood. I am forever thankful, 2013-2019, happy Flirt Anniversary to me and to Amy’s dream coming true!