We here in Brooklyn are celebrating birthday number TWO. The theme was The Wackiest Outfit (abbreviate it. get it?! Sierra gets credit for this one) How did you express the wackiest? To what extent of wacky did you get when you showed up 6:28AM at Fort Greene Park? To what extent of wacky can you get when you show up for…anything?
About three years ago, I showed up to my first November Project workout. To be exact, it was April 15, 2016. Easy to remember because it’s tax day here in the US of A, and also the birthday of Jeanie Tinnelly. At the very end of the workout, the co-leaders asked for birthdays. Up went Jeanie Tinnelly and April Cargill. The two of them got up in front of everyone and busted out dance moves. Jeanie was so emphatic. You could tell that she’d dance this way whether by herself or with a ton of people. And April moved unapologetically, with the badass sass she carries anywhere and everywhere. It was so incredibly expressive. So short a moment, but something so vivid in my mind still. Because I squatted there (what happens when you’re in the middle row of the group photo) thinking I could never, ever be that bold. To express myself that fiercely.
(We interrupt this blog with some snippets of history. Shortly after that workout, Jeanie became coleader of November Project in New York City. And then she went on to sprinkle this free-fitness goodness in Brooklyn with still-rocking Sierra Asplundh. All the while, Jeanie ran around jamming out to music from her fanny-pack speakers, with energy as loud as it gets.)
Three years and a couple weeks later is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. This day is the second birthday of November Project Brooklyn, a community founded in part by Jeanie, a community I now get to co-lead with Sierra. This day also happens to be my own birthday. I like to connect dots, you see?
Previously I couldn’t imagine standing where Jeanie stood. Expressing herself without any ounce of hesitation. But here I am today doing that with these written words. There’s a line from our co-founder Brogan Graham that is etched in my mind. “I’ve never forgotten how that feeling of inclusiveness can allow you to reach your full expression.” Being part of something makes us more expressive. The easiest evidence of that for me is in writing, whether blog posts, Instagram captions, anything really. I love writing, I love crafting with words, I love translating thoughts onto paper. Since joining November Project, I’ve written so much more. Anything I’m curious about writing on–physical insecurity, punny jokes, alliteration for Facebook photo captions, the color of my skin…I will write about. Sometimes I hold my breath, especially when it comes to writing about something raw, something that might have never left the confines of my mind. I click “Post”, close my eyes and bite down. But I do it. I project my words outside, into the world. Isn’t that sometimes the hardest step, to just show up?
And then there’s the reception. The reception to my form of expression. This community has been uplifting. It is the acknowledgment that means the most. It is someone recognizing my writing. Positive reception is the cherry on top, but acknowledgement is key. It comes from people that I sweat with every week, it comes from November Project cities I have and haven’t visited. It’s mind-blowing, what this community can do. It makes me confident in having written, in having gone forward to hit “Post”, in guiding me to reach further outward in expression. Being part of this community over the last three years has made me as bold in writing as Jeanie is in dancing.
The theme for Brooklyn’s birthday number two was The Wackiest Outfit. Wackiest is open for interpretation. Wackiest is however you want to express it. It seems fitting to have this as a theme to celebrate the community that meets every Wednesday at Fort Greene Park. How wacky people dressed up is a thermometer for how included people feel here. It can be a measure of the tightness of this community.
You know what wacky looked like at our second birthday? Wacky looked like Sam’s taco socks, like Amanda’s full-body fish taco costume. It was Jeremy’s punk blue wig, Sierra’s solo oven mitt, Katie’s genuinely cheesy grin. Wacky looked like Aki bringing a friend after showing up to his first workout only last week. Wacky looked like coloring outside the lines of the chalk birthday cake. That is what wacky looked like. It was emphatic, it was unapologetic, it was fully expressive.
Wacky is just showing up. For the first time, for the 201857th time, in good weather and bad. Thank you for whatever form of wacky it is that you express here. Thank you to Sierra & Jeanie for being bold enough to build this community in Brooklyn. Thank YOU, each and everyone of you, for just showing up, for expressing your wackiest with us. We wouldn’t be here without it.
Now, onwards and upwards.