This past weekend was full of excitement–opening day of our local farmers market, a trip to Philly for a 5Rhythms class, and an up-close-and-personal encounter with some Scottish Highland hairy cows…and I think they’re somehow all connected, too!

The 5Rhythms class was a big deal for me; it was my first class outside of my “regular” circle of dancers and at a new location as well. Up until this weekend, I had only been attending two meetups in New Jersey, both of which I am a “founding” member–there from the beginning. I feel established at those classes; everything is familiar, I see most of the same faces each month. But there is a class in Philly that I had yet to attend, and up until yesterday I was afraid to go. I don’t know the “regulars” there. I am still kind of nervous driving over the bridge to get to the studio. I wasn’t sure I’d fit in with the already-established tribe.

I kind of feared that my experience at this new and unfamiliar place would be like the batch of early-season strawberries I bought on Saturday at the farmers market:

…that everyone else would be all cool and unique and awesome, and I’d be lil’ old Jen, standing out like a sore thumb, trying so hard to be perfect.

People filtered into the room. We all kind of kept to ourselves, staring at the floor, stretching here and there. Some people greeted each other with a hug. But then the music came on, and the batch of semi-awkward strawberries gradually began to look more and more like a cohesive group.

As it turned out, not all of the dancing strawberries were strangers either. One of fellows there has also been to the Jersey classes, and I had danced with two of the women previously at the Biodanza workshop. Berry buddies! I dance to rock ‘n’ roll music with one of the more withdrawn-looking students, and suddenly there is a connection. We thrash around like ecstatic punk rockers and we so slowly break out into smiles. It’s funny, because we both looked so resistant to letting go even though our bodies were saying BE FREEEEEEEE! At the end of the song, our faces finally flash genuine smiles. We are exhausted. And alive! During a moment of Lyrical, suddenly Jersey guy and I are engaged in a kind of theatrical pas de deux. Some of the exchanges we do are so eloquently executed, it looks like they have been choreographed. How we do not crash into each other is amazing. We are keenly aware of each other’s moves and presence, and the give and take of our motions looks anything but spontaneous.

He is much older than I, and at the end of class he comments how he is always amazed about 5Rhythms’ magic in getting his everyday aches and pains to disappear. I echo his sentiment, noting that dancing 5Rhythms is one of the only forms of exercise that takes my mind off my bum hip. I can walk around the shiniest lake on the most beautiful day in the world, admiring the baby geese, the blue sky, the smiling babies in strollers, but still, with each step, my brain is saying, “Hip. Hip. Hip. Hip.” Even on my best days in yoga, I still have to think below the belt every time I rise into Warrior. But when I’m fully immersed in dancing–when the music, my breath, my heartbeat, my brainwaves–are all in sync, there is freedom. (OK, yeah, so my calves are super-sore for the next two days, but that’s a good kind of hurt.)

By the end of class, despite our ages and races and backgrounds, we all sit there together, glowing, looking very much the same. We’ve just shifted into a bit of a different perspective:

If only I had an easier time approaching new things, like a curious puppy. Here I am, nervous about dancing with new people in a different studio, when this weekend, while at my mother-in-law’s house, we took the family dogs for a walk past a Scottish Highland hairy cow farm.

Talk about new and strange.

Gomukha-WTF?!

In typical Jen fashion, I cautiously approached the fence but stayed on alert in case I needed to dash away and save myself from being impaled. They reminded me of bulls, and the way they let that unkempt hair of their hide their eyes was so devious-punk-rocker. I’m sure they were wearing chains and Metallica tattoos under all that fur. They probably just stole a car, too.

The dogs, however, were fascinated. Pippi sat down in front of the fence as though she were watching TV:

I could learn a lot from these dogs. New 5Rhythms classmates, hairy cows, misshapen strawberries…that’s what this world is–hairy, scary, weird, and wild.

Just gotta approach it with a lil’ trust and love.

Emma, the fearless Weimaraner.

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