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January 02, 2024 3 min read

guest blog by Erica Compton Thomas


No other affirmation has encapsulated my Oula journey more than  I Am Fire. My journey has been stoked and fueled, almost fizzled out to be rekindled into an inferno that burns brightly. 

Flint and stone
I hear that some folks try Oula once and love it. That was not my experience. When I found Oula at our local YMCA in late 2019, I didn’t love it. I had already been a die-hard other-dance-fitness groupie. Oula was different. I didn’t understand the hip gyrations or the hugging. And the yelling and dancing with others? No, thanks.

Spark
I tried Oula a few more times as I understood movement was necessary for my mental health. Yet it wasn’t until I danced the cool down, “She’d Say,” that something happened within my soul. The moves and music stayed with me all week, and I couldn’t stop thinking about when I could attend again. One little spark began the  Fire.

Embers
I had only just started attending Oula once a week regularly, then COVID hit and shut everything down. What Fire had been lit almost fizzled, but as happenchance had it, I had joined the Oula Boise Facebook page before the shutdown. I saw one of the other instructors I hadn’t yet met teaching through Facebook Live and then in the park. That angel instructor, Carrie, added fuel to my  Fire through the pandemic - we danced through sunshine, rain, snow, sleet, and fog, allowing the embers to be stoked and begin to burn hotter.  

Smoldering
In my heart, the heat in my chest contained a smoldering  Fire. Under the surface, I sometimes thought, ‘Could I teach? Could I do this?’ And I would often dismiss the feeling. Yet, the lingering feeling would continue to nudge me like a slow, smoldering  Fire

Flaming Fire
As the pandemic was nearing its end, the change in leadership at Oula allowed me to hear from the new owner, Heather, in one of her early live Facebook messages. In the message, she asked for grace during the transition. She asked that all continue to fan the flames in whatever capacity they could to bring Oula forward. In January 2022, I enrolled in the online instructor program and tried to get Oula back to the YMCA, where I found it.

Light
I managed to carry this little, small birthday candle back to the YMCA. I was timid, scared, and ready to extinguish. Something remarkable happened, though. As I continued to show up each week, another little candle would catch my flame and begin to burn with me. 

Inferno
In February 2023, I got to take part in an in-person Oula Empowerment Weekend for the first time. Although I thought I had “got” Oula before, the weekend was transformational; as fires do, they alter and change everything they touch. This fueled the ignited flames to spread my desire to certify in a new format, Oula One. Within my soul I had this  knowing that One was needed in our community. Working closely with Mama Rose, we brought One Empowerment Weekend to our community six months after our last EW and as of this blog, enjoying the warmth still from that weekend.

Illuminate
In the absence of light, all it takes is one flame to illuminate a darkened room. When we see a fire, we see the visible combustion process between oxygen and the fuel. Not only has the flame I brought timidly back to the YMCA helped light the way for others, but it also, most importantly, has led me to my brightest self. The flames licked and spread within my soul, burning away the old (self-doubt, insecurity, and self-sabotage) and giving way to the new. I am a burning inferno of courage, bravery, and  Fire.  I Am Fire

 

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