While at a Traditional Chinese Medicine conference late last year for work, my younger sister Carolyn—a comedian who has no problem standing in front of others and turning her sex life and freaky foibles into laughable anecdotes—stepped out of her comfort zone (and cushy hotel room) to participate in what the meeting program had labeled as a Qi Dancing evening event.

“Should I gooooo?” she had texted me nervously a half hour before it began.

“YES!” I replied with gusto. “Write about it for my blog!”, imagining rich descriptions of elegant martial arts-inspired dance moves, participants floating across the room exchanging invisible balls of energy between their palms. I was jealous I couldn’t be there with her to document this variation of dance with an Eastern flair.

It was easy for me to encourage her. After all, Carolyn describes me (in the video below) as “really into the flow of life. She loves moving her body and freeing her mind and connecting to her soul without the help of chicken soup…the book.”

Do I?

Do I really?, asks the blissed-out woman on the right.

However, that stuff doesn’t come easily to my sister. Nights and weekends, Carolyn is out past midnight in bars and clubs, cussing like a sexy red-headed sailor and taking swigs of beer between jokes about her nether regions. She’s a stand-up comic; it comes with the territory. She didn’t really feel like she fit into the TCM scene, where “everyone there was all soulful and mmmmm and yesssss and ‘I love oatmeal.'”

Nonetheless, in the name of loving sisterhood and determination to follow through on a blogging promise, Carolyn decided to go Qi Dancing.

She debated on what to wear, not really having any “dance” clothes in her luggage of mostly corporate attire. Once in the conference room, she hung out in the back, listening to the live drumming and observing others respond to the percussion: “Not one person was doing the same thing, like, mainly everyone was dancing solo,” she commented. “Personally, I can’t dance by myself without a friend nearby to keep me safe. You know, it takes like two friends, three beers, and one Lady Gaga for me to start shaking my hips.”

Despite her insecurities, Carolyn eventually took what she had learned in a previous Tai Chi Chuan class and turned it into “dancey movement,” attempting to find her qi through chi.

But just when her experience started to get slightly spiritual, the drumming stopped, the lights went out, and…. Well, you’ll have to watch the video below to hear what happened next.

Her account was told as part of the “Tell Me a Story” event that Crush Comedy produces monthly at Shot Tower Coffee in Philadelphia. Every month, storytellers have a different theme to talk about; this most recent topic was “Survival.”

You know, a lot of people arrive at my blog after searching for “what to wear to a 5Rhythms class” or “description of 5Rhythms dance,” indicating several folks out there are most likely days or even hours away from trying out something new and perhaps a bit intimidating, probably feeling very much like my sister before she ventured off to Qi Dancing.

Making the decision to take a class in something you’ve never heard of that is shrouded in some level of mystery takes courage; actually making it to and through the class offers a sense of survival.

Carolyn’s Qi Dancing event didn’t turn out to be what my sister or I expected, but she left the room with a new sense of freedom (even if it came from the not-so-qi B-52’s). What will 5Rhythms offer you, and what will your story of survival be?

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