Vertical Fusion’s First Pole Retreat
How do you appropriately put into words an event so touching and meaningful, that you can’t completely believe it ever happened? Not every trip you take is great. Some are barely tolerable. Some are so packed full of fun and memories that you snap pictures of every moment, and show them to everyone who will sit down to see. And some simply — and truly — move you.
The first night of the Pole Retreat, Melanie looked at the nine women sitting around the table in a quiet, lovely restaurant in Tabernash, Colo, and asked us, “What made you decide to come along?” My answer was tremendously basic: this retreat was the first one in what will hopefully be a long line of Vertical Fusion pole retreats. I will make it to some of them, and I will have to miss some as well. But I can always say I was at the very first one. What I got out of it is — in many ways — beyond description.
There was something magical about the exact mix of women at this retreat. Everyone of us was in a certain state of mind to allow for complete openness and vulnerability. We laughed together, cried together, worked, hiked, poled, and played together. When I look back on our 90 minute Self Esteem Workshop on Saturday night that stretched to eight hours, I feel like I’m reflecting on a dream. I learned so much about my fellow Pole Sisters, and came to love them that much more. There were moments of joy, moments of agony, and moments when I felt so much for these other people, that I thought my heart would not be able to hold anymore.
The most important thing I learned at the retreat was that Pole has a million layers and a million different meanings. Pole isn’t just a way to dance and to live actively. Pole is a dream, a tool, an inspiration, an instigator, a catalyst for change, and an opening to meet friends and family. It is a way for like-minded women to find their joy and to share it with each other. It is a place where I have found friends that I would never have otherwise found. It’s a frightening thought to imagine my world without Mel and the women I have met because of her.
I was also touched to learn how others see me. In Roxy’s self esteem workshop, we shared words that we felt reflected the other women around us. I was surprised and happy to see that three people wrote down “open minded” in relation to me. I never realized that others saw me that way. I loved getting to know my sisters better by exploring words that I thought properly described them. Generous, adventurous, courageous, kind, sexy, vivacious, and brilliant all come to mind when I picture the eight other women with whom I spent this amazing weekend.
The weeks following the retreat have been tests of fortitude for many of us. Life left its tracks across our experiences, our hearts, and our minds. We have pulled together and given each other the help needed, whether it was a ride, a conversation, or emotional support. I know that I will always see the retreat ladies in a different, more complete way. When you share experiences like these, it is hard to walk away and be the exact same person you were before. I gave pieces of myself to these women, and they gave back.
It felt like a bittersweet end when I went to Sunshine Kelly’s pole class yesterday. It was the last class I will get to take from her, as I am leaving town just before she moves away to Oregon by way of Antarctica. She taught a themed class focused on using the music and dynamic movements to make dance more dramatic. As I danced, I thought of her and the other women who joined us on the retreat. I reflected on our conversations, jokes, stories, and tears. I pictured the nine of us, smiling in the sun over the view of a mountain lake, each in her own thoughts and simultaneously tuned into the others’ thoughts. I danced for them as I danced for myself. I will never be the same, and now I realize that this was exactly what I wanted.