Guest blog by Annie Prevost
I am... unstoppable?
When the opportunity came up to write this little post on the subject of our current affirmation, 'I Am Unstoppable,' I had exactly one word enter my brain in response:
Ladies and gentlemen and folks beyond the binary, my name is Annie and I am entirely, unequivocally, wholly stoppable. In this very moment, I am typing with an ace bandage on my left wrist due to a stress fracture, and gauze and medical tape on my right hand due to a lunatic cat named Wally. I had an anxiety attack last night that left me hyperventilating and shaking uncontrollably, and am still feeling the effects of the adrenaline crash. I am exhausted beyond measure after a week of hurricane-force winds and 6-foot snow drifts threatened the lives of the three dogs, two cats, three cows, and half-dozen chickens I’m farm-sitting for, and if I don’t get some sleep tonight, I fear my organs will start shutting down. Okay maybe not, but you get the idea. My point is, there are a lot of things that do, in fact, stop me.
And beyond that, I actually choose to be stoppable a lot of the time. I love stopping! I revel in stopping! I stop working out when my body says, “girl, that’s enough.” I stop telling people I’ll do stuff for them when my brain says, “nah, rather not.” I stop hanging out at gatherings the second I feel socially drained, which is usually like 15 minutes into the hangout. I stop watching movies as soon as my butt starts to hurt, even if it’s in the middle of a good scene. Hell, I quit two jobs this year! You tell me to go big or go home? Baby, I am going HOME. Stopping is my jam.
I have to say, there is a lot of stoppability in my life, of both the wanted and unwanted variety. I think that’s true of a lot of people in this particular moment in time. Nearly three years after the pandemic put an abrupt stop to the world as we knew it, many of us are still reckoning with the question of how to start again, myself included. So this notion of 'I am Unstoppable...?' It just didn’t ring true to me.
At least not at first.
But we’ll get back to that in a minute. Let’s talk about Oula for a sec, shall we? This is the Oula blog, after all.
Long story short, Oula burst into my life in the summer of 2011, forever changing me in so many profound and beautiful ways. I became an instructor at the end of 2012, brought Oula home to Alaska, and had the absolute honor of spreading the joy and magic to folks all around my hometown. I was one of those incredibly lucky people who found the intersection of purpose and joy in what I did for a “job,” and I loved it with my whole being. My life has always been a little unconventional, a touch unpredictable, but if there was one thing that felt constant, solid, and, well, unstoppable, it was Oula. Then March of 2020 happened and everything stopped. And then November of 2020 happened, when my world imploded, my heart broke, my sense of who I was turned upside down. And then the first six months of 2021 happened, when loss piled upon loss, and the entire universe felt empty and dark. And the one thing that had always been there, that one unstoppable force called Oula, it stopped. I didn’t dance for two years. Two. Years. If anyone had told me that I would come to a point in my life where I didn’t have the emotional capacity to turn on music and dance for two entire years, I would have been horrified at the very notion, and I also wouldn’t have believed them. I would never have believed Oula to be stoppable for me.
I remember at one point in 2021 writing in my journal, “I am sick with loss. I am sick of learning, over and over and over, just how goddamn resilient I am. I am sick of it. I am sick of it.” I just kept writing it again and again, "I am sick of it, I am sick of it, I am I am I am I am..."
And that’s the part of our affirmation that I want to get back to. Not the 'unstoppable' part.
The 'I am' part.
Through all of the immense losses that we have each suffered in these past few years, we are still here. I mean the soul-level, inner flame, pure essence of what makes you YOU. The cosmic, most capital of capital-I I in 'I am here,' is still here. You know what I mean? Just try that out right now. Really embody those two words: I……am. I…...AM. Think about all the hardships you have faced, all the traumas you have endured, all the uphill battles you have fought, and yet—say it with me—"I am."
And there we have it: the 'I am'… that is what’s unstoppable.
That’s where I was wrong about this affirmation. I was thinking about the notion of “unstoppable” in terms of doing things. Actions. Occurrences. External things that I engage with. And for me, those things are, without question, stoppable. But being, not do-ing but be-ing? I Am-ing? THAT is unstoppable. Through all my losses and all my battles through darkness, my inner spark never extinguished. My being, my 'I am,' remains unstoppable.
Which is where Oula comes back in.
For me, Oula as an outside force—as in, the teaching of classes, the learning of choreography, even the turning on of music—needed to stop for a while. I needed to keep myself alive, to make absolutely sure that that inner spark didn’t extinguish, and part of that meant disengaging with certain parts of my life from The Before Times. But it turns out, Oula as an internal, intrinsic part of who I am? That never stopped. It just needed some time to recharge, just like the rest of captial-M Me, capital-I I. And slowly, with time and patience and healing and deep love, I came back to myself. And I came back to Oula. I started teaching Oula One at the beginning of January 2022, and I now have a large, beautiful, supportive, magical One community. My first time dancing Oula again as a participant was in early March, and my first time teaching a full length class was in early July. It honestly feels miraculous to be back.
My heart bursts with gratitude for Oula in a way that’s really difficult to put into words. It’s hard to wrap my head around the journey we’ve been through together in the last decade, Oula and I. It feels really right to think of her has both an external and internal force. I think maybe she knew I had to have some distance with the external part of her for a little while, but she also knew the internal connection would never stop, and that eventually I would likely find my way back. Back to her and back to me. Back to 'I am.' She was right. Through everything that has been lost, I…...am.
And that is unstoppable.
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