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March 31, 2023 3 min read

Guest blog by Stephanie Carlson
I am open


I am open.



I stand with my arms wide

Ready to receive.

My heart beating…





To be open does not always feel safe. It does not always feel good. To be open is to be human. To recognize the risk we take when we are open. For when we are open, we are vulnerable. We not only bare our hearts and souls to sweet love and vibrant joy, but also to other emotions; deep, and wide. The emotions of grief, of despair, and of depression.

I was a freshman in college when we received the diagnosis. It was one of those moments where time stands still. No one ever wants to be told that the moments with a loved one are limited, let alone more limited than they should be. My father had been diagnosed with ALS. The expected life span: two to five years. And in that moment, I choose to be open. To continue to love with the same love my father had given to me. 

Yet in those moments of deep, sweet, love, my heart also was open to grieving the moments that were being lost. The moment when my father no longer could walk on his own, the moment when he no longer was able to say“I love you,” the moment when his big, strong arms could no longer hold me and instead, I held his weak, limp hand in mine. 

And in those moments of openness, I broke. 

Oula is much the same way. Through a playlist, we open ourselves to travel through many emotions, whether we find those emotions in our own story or in the stories of those we carry with us. We dance for ourselves… we dance for them. We open up to the community around us and we are brave. We are brave in exposing not only our happiness and joy through our openness, but also our sadness and sorrow. 

And in the community of Oula, we find a safe space. A space where in that openness, all emotions are welcomed and accepted. A place where in being open and broken, we are held. Through openness, we find our center, our core, and we find our healing. We learn that these emotions are not weakness, but instead within this array of feelings, we find our strength. 

Yet it is hard… so damn hard to truly be OPEN! Lately, I have been really struggling with one of our Top 10 songs, One Life by Dermot Kennedy. It has brought back to the surface those feelings of grief and sorrow that I felt when I said goodbye to my father.


The lyrics read:

“I don't want it to be over

I don't wanna say goodnight

Want that morning in December

For the rest of my life…”


And it was on December 1, 2019 that my father left us. These words hit like a punch to the gut. And I find myself wanting to retreat, away from the feelings it brings up. I don’t want to be open. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I don’t want to go to that space where I am feeling those things again. 

Yet as my eyes water and I fight to hold back the tears, I realize yet again the importance of this openness. That this is where I am being true to myself and to the memory of my father, of all that I have been through. Of not only the high peaks but also the deepest valleys. 

And I realize as I look around at all the beautiful bodies moving with me, that I am not alone and I let go! As I let the tears slide down my face, I feel a deep release.

And it gives me courage…

It gives me strength…

to be 











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