Meet the Y: Laurie

When I joined the Y, I was facing down a personal abyss of midlife disappointment, the kind that precludes sleep with incessant self-judgement. I was ready to try something, anything new. So I took a chance. I tried Zumba.   On that first day of class, I was stiff and awkward and literally out of step. I tried to lift my right arm, but my left followed. I shuffled forward, but somehow slid back. I was terrible but I was moving. Our instructor, Carlie, beamed nonetheless; in her eyes I was clearly doing something right. I kept going to classes and, during freestyle moments, she’d come back and highfive those of us hiding out in the back row.  More than once, I found myself quietly crying as we stretched to Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.  In fact, all the songs she chose provided inspiration, and release.  Overtime, I shook it with Lizzo, lost myself a for a full 10 seconds at a time with Jennifer Lopez belting out ni tú, ni yo. I found strong dancers to stand behind and follow, but I did not become good, nor will I—probably ever. Becoming good is not the point.  The point is when I freed myself not to fret, even for an hour a week, I discovered my life wasn’t as stuck as I’d thought. I got more comfortable with perceived flaws, and stopped wishing so much for something more. A friend recently told me how she copes with anxiety: she pretends she’s someone else. Not someone else entirely, but a different, more confident version of herself. The person others often see. I admit, I still don’t look in the mirror as I dance, but I think I’m growing a Zumba me. Laurie Filipelli is the author of two books of poems: Elseplace (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013) and Girl Paper Stone (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). She lives in Austin where she coaches, edits and blogs as Mightywriting.org 
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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