Guest blog by Adam Wolf
Hi folks! I’m Adam. I spend much of my time raising two little boys and designing and programming electronics–but I love to dance (and think about dancing and read about dancing and and and...). Before the pandemic, I would make it to Oula three times a week! I credit Oula for helping my personal growth over the past few years.
I came to Oula in 2017 after seeing my wife’s new dance moves in our impromptu family dance parties. I was a little apprehensive, but by the end of my first class, I was a big, uncoordinated smile, trying to figure out how to pull off a “kick cross step.”
It wasn’t long, however, before I got a little worried. Oula didn’t officially say it was only for women or not for men, but maybe I was detracting from other peoples’ time there. I’m a white guy in my mid-30s. It’s not hard for me to find a place that caters to me–it can even be a little difficult to find a place that doesn’t. I can pick up a free t-shirt at a conference, and it’s either a men’s shirt or a men’s shirt with a tag that says “unisex.” I didn’t want to participate in Oula if it meant I would detract from other people’s experience–especially folks who might not have as many places where they can be themselves as I do.
I’m not worried about that anymore. One of Oula’s most remarkable gifts has been giving me the opportunity to not only hold space for others but also to hold space for myself.
Holding space hasn’t come naturally to me. I still have to work at it. I find it easier to fill a silence with words than to sit in it. In my professional life, I’d see folks I admire smooth over the most difficult clients with a good pause. In my reading about parenting, I’d see authors recommend letting your child talk about what they’re feeling, and really listening. The details and the particular name would vary, but the foundation is giving the people we care about the space to develop at their own pace and being an active participant without being a driver.
Oula lets me practice holding space. I’ve learned to allow space for my feelings during a song and let them linger even after the last note. I’ve learned to appreciate the heavy pulse of my heart through high cardio and the burn in my muscles through conditioning, even when my mind whispers, “we’re tired.” At one end, you stop the moment you notice effort, and at the other, you push through anything your body tells you. Holding space is the middle–the careful listening, celebrating what your body can do, and being okay when it’s different than how it used to be or how you’d like it to be. Oula creates a space where we can be present and really listen–to ourselves, to each other, and to the music.
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