The story of my rise begins on March 8, 2020 which was ironically, just days before my greatest fall. I was in Denver, Colorado with my friend Angie to see the incomperable Oprah Winfrey on her 2020 Vision Tour. Despite rumblings of a virus off the shores of the United States, we packed ourselves into a 50,000 person stadium full of fanatic women and a few brave and open-hearted men. Not too long after we squished into our seats, did the sound and vibration of three kettle drums pounding in unity fill the stadium with infectious energy. Meet Daybreaker, a morning dance community whose core values are wellness, camaraderie, self-expression, mindfulness and mischief. For me, it was love at first vibrational beat. What I didn’t know as I danced my heart out in that Denver stadium, was that on that very same day in Boise, Idaho, my husband and best friend of nearly 20 years was filing for divorce.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re in chapter one, which begins with the Rise.
RISER is for resilience.
I is for intention
S is for self-confidence
E is for empathy
RISE was my word of the year for 2020, because I had thought that I had already hit rock bottom and that there would only be one way to go: like a phoenix from the ashes, I intended to RISE up out of the mess that was resembling my life. And for proof, here I was at Oprah’s 2020 Vision tour with one of my best friends and when Julianne Hough’s Kinrgy dance troupe came onstage with the song RISE UP by Andra Day after lunch, my friend whispered to me “if you didn’t already believe that the universe is FOR you, I hope that it’s being made clear right here, right now!” Yeah, I thought; this is certainly the beginning of an upward shift in my life.
Looking back, a year later, I can see now that I was not yet ready for the rise. There was a lot of shit about to be piled on top of me, and the universe gave me Daybreaker, the dance tribe who helped me dance through the darkest days of my life. For weeks on end, I pulled my battered shell of a self out of bed and onto the dance floor, alone in my bedroom. COVID had moved in just two weeks after Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour and Daybreaker took their dance parties on-line. And before you question how effective an on-line dance party can be, let me just say three words: themes, costumes, and connection. Somehow Daybreaker pulled off the most spectacular two-hour dance party that combined yoga, meditation, dancing, photos of loved ones, prayer, laughter, music and most of all, JOY. Daybreaker shed light into my broken heart. And they introduced me to the song for which this chapter is named, Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd.
The only peace I found while living in a studio apartment in town, trading off every few days with my soon-to-be ex-husband, was through music and dance and yoga. And the universe knew that I would need that, and so they gave me Daybreaker, who in turn gave me the song that would be my pandemic song: Follow the Sun. I cannot close my eyes and see that studio apartment without also seeing Daybreaker and hearing the opening notes from this song. Almost every night I would put in my earbuds and walk along the creek and try to find inner peace with all the uncertainty and turmoil. Some days my arms would be raised to the sky in gratitude, and some days the tears would flow as if there was a faucet that couldn’t be turned off. Follow the Sun was the first song that I added to a playlist called “healing”. If you’re not familiar with it, take a pause right now to give it a listen. Really listen. And then maybe “take yourself to the nearest waters and remember your place”: you, my friend, are loved. You, my friend, are enough. You, my friend are a goddamn phoenix. Welcome to the RISE club.