On September 23, 2011 I joined a group of 100+ women at the Sheila Kelley S Factor NY studio to attend “The Pole Truth.” I had no idea what to expect but leading up to the event I was tweeting away in excitement. I was finally going to meet the women who help me unbury my inner siren, or as she so eloquently calls it, my erotic creature. Not only did she help me to unbury her but she has helped me learn to harness and channel that natural power.
It’s been more than a week since The Pole Truth and I’m still trying to articulate its profound impact on me. I’m still basking in the glow of encouragement and searching desperately for ways to take action because after “The Pole Truth”, I just can’t be the same. Not after what I’ve learned.
STEALING MY SELF FROM HIM
Sheila opened pandora’s box in regards to women, sexuality and the power of being alive. I didn’t realize it was more than a two hour dance class once a week that rejuvenates you. I didn’t realize how intense, how deep, how wonderful and how heart breaking this was going to be. Part of Sheila’s talk towards elevating us to our higher selves was in educating us (women) about our past. She spoke on how it was so important to know our history. This serves as a way to inform, encourage and to spur us to action. A great deal of time was spent explaining and showing some of the atrocities that women have endured throughout the years from chastity belts, lotus bound feet and violent beatings & flogging to name a few. Trust me, there were MANY examples. I also should not say “throughout the years.” Some of the most horrific crimes against women are still occurring today.
Every day women are being shamed, repressed, raped and murdered. This is happening right now. I would hope this isn’t news to you. Even though I “knew” these things, I didn’t realize how atrocious and ingrained this deep seeded evil was. Sheila made it a point to let us know. She was passionately enraged but not defeated! I think the most profound injustice that hit me in my chest was the fact that years ago if I were married, if I left my husband, after finding me, he could charge me for stealing my SELF from him. I NEVER KNEW THIS EXISTED.
I mean, I know we were considered property in the past. Women were….and Black people….of which I am labeled as both. However, to hear it phrased that way…. I could be charged for stealing my SELF from him. No!!! I can’t let things like this continue. I can’t be repressed. I have to use my voice. I have to liberate my SELF. Did you know this? I am pretty sure in some parts of the world laws like this still exist. It can be gut wrenching and depressing but Sheila isn’t faint of heart and neither am I.
HIPS CIRCLES AND SELF ACTUALIZATION
As Sheila talked about the atrocious acts, how & why S Factor began, what’s to come next and her heart’s true desires I realized even though I’m a level 6 student, the ENTIRE process of being a student is ONLY Level One. I’ll explain that later. Even within the experience of being a student, it is SO MUCH MORE THAN POLE DANCING. I know you know this. You’ve read my blogs about my experiences….about how my heart is wide open, how my spirit is exalted and my soul is set ablaze. Even still, I tell people “It’s Tuesday, I’m going to S Factor, my pole dancing class.” That’s not enough anymore and its not an accurate description at all. It’s not about the pole. The pole doesn’t even have to be in the room. It’s a marketing approach that will kick your ass and get you into shape but its not required for what S Factor is setting out to do. You know, its not just about moving your body in hip circles and feeling freedom in owning your body. For me, its about femininity. It’s about the power of being alive, being whole, being you and living FULLY. It’s about NOT excusing abuses & offenses. It’s about dwelling in full self actualization.
Perhaps the movement as a whole is a way to stir your body so it stirs your soul and your essence to rise atop. Maybe it’s about finding your physical strength so that you can begin to see the wonder that is you and perhaps, hopefully, that leads to finding the strength in your voice and existence.
My god. I just didn’t know. I didnt know her passion was so much more.
So perhaps, in trying to articulate this for myself, the ENTIRE movement of S Factor is Level One. Taking all those various eight week courses week after week… (I’ve been doing it for a year now)….is part of level one. You are using movement to stir your soul and true desire and essence awake. Then perhaps LEVEL TWO would be the retreats, the immersion programs and the lectures & events such as The Pole Truth. They serve to take you on a deeper level than just the hip circles. The show you just what those circles mean. Next, there is LEVEL THREE, which I call “knowledge.” It’s in learning and immersing yourself in fully understanding what there is to know. It’s in reading her books, reading her recommendations and reading whatever else gets you there. It’s in learning our history and gaining the words and articulations. My shopping list for books has gotten mighty long since The Pole Truth. Which upon hearing what her next book is…. I want it RIGHT NOW. I want that book right this very second. I want to devour it. I want to soak in every word. Rumor has it its due out in 2012. Perhaps LEVEL FOUR is in articulating it for your self. Living it. Fighting for it. Embracing it. Sharing it. Owning it. Elevating it.
There are a LOT of pole dancing studios around the country, each with their own methods, theories, missions and insights. Many of which I would love to explore and learn from. However, as I’ve stated before, what I can attest to is that Sheila Kelley’s S Factor will do so much more than teach you how to do a firefly around a pole. You will be guided through an awakening and reclamation of SELF. This really is unlike anything I’ve ever experience.
YOUR FIRST OFFENSE
As Sheila was going through her lecture giving examples of our history, it made me recall my history. My childhood sexual abuse. My own abuse and misuse in dating and relationships; the way I conformed and degraded my self and true essence; the effects of church and a religious college on me as a woman. It made me think of all the abuses and offense that were done to me and by me. Relating this to myself on a personal level made all of this even more pressing, relevant and timely. I get it. I so get it. On a personal level and a global one, I find it so imperative for us to take ourselves back. We need to lay claim on our existence and to never apologize or cower or lower ourselves. It means we’ve got to heal ourselves, speak up and speak out, … It means so much. My mission has been further excited. Live in your power which also includes your sexuality.
During her lecture Sheila mentioned that in her studies, travels and experiences she has noticed a resounding trend among women. Many women feel like they are asleep. They feel like something is missing. Many of those women are often left wondering, “What do I have to do to feel full?” Most often for these women, this involves their sexuality. The male form of sexuality is encouraged. “We want them to score, conquer and defeat”, Sheila exclaimed. We marvel in their athleticism which showcases their masculine body and sexuality. However with the feminine body it is shamed. It is hidden and disembodied. It is controlled. Why do you think this is?
For some reason I always go back to religion, especially Eve but I believe it to be more ingrained and historical than that. No matter its origin, this need to control the feminine sexuality eats away at our boundaries, awareness and freedom. This shaming and control becomes so overbearing that, “you start thinking it’s ok for people to perforate your body”, Sheila stated. “When did the female body become obscene?” she later asked. Why do so many women sit in humiliation of their bodies? Our bodies were meant to radiate!
Sheila went on to explain statistics concerning women and their bodies. According to one study, 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Apparently this dissatisfaction is a 2 billion dollar industry. According to another study, 1 in 4 women suffer from depression, some clinical and some not. And its not just “society” or men doing the shaming of women. More often than should ever be the case, women are degrading women. It is time to return your feminine body back to yourself. It’s time to be whole again. What is absolutely lovely about S Factor is that when we are in the throws of class, we are living fully in our femininity.
THE GODDESS THAT IS SHEILA
Sheila as a women….as a human…as a being…, she is simply incredible. There are no words to describe her grace, her intellect, her connection and her spirit. She is open, honest and living fully in her power. Not only is she living in her power but she is set on spreading it to everyone she encounters. I didn’t know these things. Listening to her, interacting with her, spending time over a meal with her, furthers my commitment to my journey of S.
She is a woman you can relate to, she’s accessible, down to earth, and her energy is so magnetic. Sheila is simply a sweetheart… so friendly, so kind and so very passionate. She’s perceptive, giving and absolutely lovely. Listening to her talk during the Pole Truth was one thing, watching her interactions with every woman that stood in line was another. She is patient, an amazing listener and so interested in conversing with you and learning about your story and experience. Throughout her “lecture” she wanted to simply talk with the audience and not at the audience. These things do not go unnoticed by me.
After staying to speak to everyone who waited to hug her, receive her signature in their book or take a picture, she decided to join the rest of the team for a very late night dinner. Yes, she had an early call time for a Gossip Girl filming but that didn’t deter her. She wanted to spend time with the students, teachers and associates of S Factor and I loved that about her.
Every compliment mentioned above was seen throughout our dinner. The clock was close to 2 AM and Sheila was still asking each girl at the table, “What brought you to S Factor? Where are you in your journey? What brought you to New York? What are your suggestions? Do you want some of my eggplant parmesan?” I also appreciated that she wasn’t one of those out of reach execs that has no clue of her students experiences. One woman mentioned her writings about S Factor and Sheila immediately recalled reading them. After talking about my journey she even said, “Were you the one rolling on your furniture in that one video? Dancing and talking about S Factor?” I smiled, “Yes, that was me on youtube talking about S.” She high fived me, “I like that video. I’ve seen it a couple times.”
I’m sorry, what? Sheila who spearheaded a women’s movement, acts marvelously in TV and film such as Lost, Gossip Girl and more, writes books and travels the world… has also seen my youtube video of me rolling around on the floor? What? She’s so precious! My goodness. Whether it was about our writings, videos or conversations what I gathered was that Sheila was genuinely interested in connecting to each one of us, with sharing what she knew and with listening to our stories and journeys. It was such a beautiful night!
I find her to be so powerful and I fully support her cause which is our cause.
Sheila was also kind enough to list some of the books that she studies from. They include but are not limited too “Against Our Will” by Brownmiller, “Female Sexual Slavery” by Barry, “Why Gender Matters” and “When God was a Woman.” Read them and others if you have a chance.
And if you have a chance, take an intro class at S Factor. Buy Sheila’s book. Talk to a student of S about her experiences. Do something uplifting for your body. Be gracious and giving. LOVE your self. Embrace the wonder that is you.
Listen, I could have made this easy on you. I could have written a cute review about how the lecture was good, the goody bags had all kinds of treats, the beauty bar was phenomenal with its wonderful sponsors and vendors, the staff was great and the night was a wonderful Girls Night Out. I could have just written that…all of which is true. But saying The Pole Truth was a great Girl’s Night Out or saying S Factor is a Pole Dancing class, is as Sheila mentioned, “It’s like saying Fight Club was a movie about Boxing.” Its just not true.
If you were not at the Pole Truth, you should have been there. When Sheila comes to your town to teach a class, give a lecture or eat a meal, I highly suggest you participate. You leave different than when you first arrived, when you leave you realize more of your SELF is awake now. If you are lucky enough to live in a city that offers S Factor classes, stop making excuses, go take a class…NOW!