This is what finishing up a Pound Fitness class at 8AM looks like. I think I could get used to this feeling.
Greetings Fellow Space Travelers, Happy Freyja’sDay!
I had no knowledge of this organization, or its work before being asked to teach, but what I found were some of the most genuine, fun-loving, life-loving, from all walks of Life Humans I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
Mind you – this was after the previous weekend of complete love-fest in Los Angeles with so many other Pound Pros from not only the U.S., but Mexicali and Turkey too! ♥ (Apparently we all share “commitment” as one of our core beliefs. I dig that. A lot.)
So, two consecutive weekends of meeting stellar humans has me sort of spoiled for more of that.
Back to last Saturday – Downtown New Orleans at 6:30am, on any morning is an interesting place, and last Saturday, as I parked my Fiat, unloaded a stack of yoga mats and two bags filled with Ripstix® into a canvas-folding wagon, I got to witness folks crossing Canal street, coming in from The Quarter, dressed in the previous night’s clothes, unapologetically returning to their hotels/homes/beds for the first time since they went out the night before, and alllll of the folks already awake, dressed and ready for the Red Dress Run hosted by NOH3 – and I smiled. Beamed really – because for me, everything I saw were all the reasons I wanted to live in New Orleans.
People being themselves. All together. In the same place. Everyone. Living Life.
We have a large houseless population here, and so I could not complete this picture without also saying, in addition to the varying states and degrees of awake humans, there were more than a few people sleeping on sidewalks, under awnings, and in the median.
So, yeah – I guess, Everyone, Being Themselves, All together, In the same place …Living Life.
…which translated from Shamsi into English means, “I, myself, was feeling very full of Life.” And rocking some monster-gratitude for it all.
I finally found my contact, Melissa, who turned out to be as gracious as her emails and phone calls. She lead me to the conference room where I was set me up with a wireless mic by Travis, sound-dude-extraordinaire, who plugged my music into a large PA, and left me alone to crank incredibly loud music, while leading a group of about 15 people in banging weighted, plastic drumsticks together as we all sweated and generally had a fabulous time.
No – really – that’s us, up at the top of this post. It was a pretty fabulous time.
Did I mention my friends and students Kryss Statho and Caitlin Alvarez? Really? No? Because, I totally dragged them into this to help me demonstrate how to modify all of the moves. And while I could have done this without them – it wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun, not to mention, I would’ve been the one unwrapping and handing out all of the Ripstix, retrieving them, trying to take my own selfies (I mean, really? Who does that? 😉 ) and packing up all of my stuff while I was talking to the students after class. Seriously – they did all of that. I think they were asleep, but no one ever caught on. They were awesome, tired, and …and… and my gratitude just kept growing.
In exchange for teaching the class, I’d been offered a 10 minute demo on the big stage, and a table on the convention floor, since there would be locals coming in at 9am. Even though I didn’t have an actual display, or anything to sell, I did have information about myself, Crescent Lotus Dance Studio (where I teach), and Pound Fitness®. I also had most of my teaching finger cymbals (which is 8 sets) as well as 45 pairs of Ripstix® – so – yeah, I was set.
I’ll take this opportunity to reach out and thank the weirdo in me who feels it necessary to lug around 8 sets of finger cymbals, because one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of happened on account of those ‘finger thinggies.’
I was standing at my table when a young man and his mother (guardian?) approached, he was honed in on the cymbals. If I had to guess, I’d say he was in his mid/late teens, but please don’t hold me to that. At some point I realized he was on the autism spectrum. His mother was speaking with me, and he was sifting through the cymbals. I was telling her about Pound, and he was quietly clinking two cymbals together.
Well, that was just not going to get it done. So I started sifting through the cymbals as well, finding a set that would fit him, helped him get them all on the correct fingers. I got my own cymbals on and led him into the empty aisle in front of the table. (You see …the actual ‘Conference’ part of the convention was going on just.over.there …like, oh, I dunno – 15 feet from where we were standing, on the other side of one of those thin, roll-out wall partitions?.)
So, there we are, in an empty aisle, loosely surrounded by a few product representatives, various volunteers, and attendees, and I ask him to start walking in place with me.
We just counted our steps – 1, 2, 3, 4. Then I told him to follow me while I played ‘Beledi’ a four-beat rhythm, which was as simple as I could think to make it. At any rate – he caught on – changed a couple of beats he was playing, but kept the essence of it – and I kind of lost my mind. It was awesome.
I got really excited and asked if he could hang onto the rhythm all on his own, which he indicated he could. And so I just encouraged him to stay on it – I was going to play something different, but that it would all work. And boy did it. There he was, holding down the rhythm while I soloed over the top. The entire room melted away and it was just us. Walking in place in the middle of the convention floor, playing our hearts out, making music.
Which is why I *totally* didn’t hear the poor man who’d been sent out of the conference room to come see what all the noise was about.
No harm, no foul. Well, at least I don’t think there was. No one said anything lasting about it, but we stopped, I told his mom where to get cymbals, they moved on, and I just sat in awe.
Yeah. My insides were totally all warm and fuzzy. #GOTEAMHUMAN
Not too much later, I was corralled for my 10 minute demo and went off to get mic’d and hand out Ripstix.
I’d been on stage in this sort of situation before, but not in this setting. Typically I’d be performing or teaching dance.
I was not prepared for the levels of enthusiasm and sheer gusto that came back at me.
Please keep in mind, the room was set up for a conference, so there was a large stage facing rows of desks and chairs.
People got up from their chairs and stood behind the desks. People got up from their chairs and moved into the large open aisles on either side, and the large open area toward the back of the room. People rushed into the room when the music started, and grabbed pencils when they realized they’d missed out on the Ripstix.
I’d have to ask a few other people, but that may well have been the most intense 10 minutes of my life.
I went over my time by 34 seconds. I know, because they had a fancy count-down clock that let me know I was at -34 seconds. (I was actually sorry about that. I’ve got much sympathy for big-event organizers …because if everyone gets to go over by 34 seconds …it’s a really late day by the end.)
Over my time limit, I was rushing to get off of the stage, and looking around for the Ripstix I’d handed out – which all magically arrived back in my hands because beautiful, wonderful, amazing humans gathered them up, and brought them to me. ♥ Amazing. I grabbed the bag filled with sticks and rushed off to meet another sound-guy and as I was passing by, a woman in the front row, leaned way out over her table to press a torn piece of paper into my hand.
When I got to the sound table and ducked down to detach the mic and pull myself together, I read the note,
“Why can’t you live closer to me!” (The exclamation point had a heart on the bottom.)
I can’t say for certain if my feet actually touched the floor for the rest of the day.
There were possibly too many other things that happened this week to document it all. Some equally wonderful things, and by contrast wickedly-icky things.
In light of much of the icky things, I wanted to share a couple of readings I did for myself at the beginning of the year. I pulled an animal card, and an Angel Tarot card for each month and then wrote the message that came through. I use these readings to bring me back to ‘home base’ each month – they also help keep me sane and centered when I feel like the world is in a tailspin (whether my own, or the actual World.) I share them in this spirit – in case any of you out there reading could use a little leveling-out in this un-even keel of a week.
Both August and September have really similar vibes so far as the messages go – even if the energies are different.
August – Porcupine and King of Water (from my perspective, these two things represent Innocence/Trust and Mastery of Emotion/Responsibility of Emotion)
“Keep your sense of humor in tact and have fun. People aren’t out to get you on purpose – they’re just clumsy and often unaware. PLAY. TRUST & TRUST YOURSELF.”
September – Fox and Knight of Fire (from my perspective, it’s about Invoking Feminine Wisdom/Engaging my Cloaking Device and Being Responsible about the Actions I take.)
“Tricky Energies. Navigation may require resilience and good humor. You may feel you’re the brunt of several jokes and maybe even like “they’re” against you – it’s all about perception. Be Resilient.”
My takeaway being: keep laughing, keep playing, be aware.
The Happy Freyja’sDay Dance video from this morning is below, & as always, I hope you dance along.
Until next time, I hope you get to spend time with people you love doing stuff that fills you up and brings you joy!
~Shamsi, Charlie, Me
Happy Freyja’sDay World!
Next week my Shamsi-schedule over at Crescent Lotus is:
(FULL SOLAR ECLIPSE) – Mon – NO CLASS – PoundFitness®
Tue – PoundFitness® 6PM followed by Anatomy of Bellydance (A.o.B.) @ 7:15PM
Thu – PoundFitness® 5:30PM
Fri – PoundFitness® 8:30AM
Sat – PoundFitness® 9AM
****PLEASE NOTE! Beginning Labor Day, September 4th, POUND FITNESS® on Monday nights @5:15pm is MOVING TO WEDNESDAY NIGHTS @6PM. STAY TUNED****