What is your PulsePDX story?
I went to nursing school in Portland right as Zumba was really taking off and luckily Portland was full of amazing classes and instructors. So I’ve been a Zumba fanatic since the beginning and right as I was moving back east for grad school, I started hearing about these “pop-up” dance fitness classes at night clubs. When I came back to Portland for good in 2018, I googled “night club Zumba in Portland” and I discovered that not only was this concept still alive and well but that Pulse had its own location. Sold!
From the moment I walked in the doors, I felt welcomed and honored. I remember early on getting an email from Danny about how much he appreciated seeing me beaming from ear to ear in class. I had never felt so seen by a fitness instructor before! I started building beautiful friendships and felt so safe that when I came out of the closet at the age of 38, Pulse was the first community I told. The love that poured out in response to my social media post was overwhelming in the best possible way.
A few months after coming out, I started noticing a cute girl named Laurie, who would get on stage in Jen’s classes and seemed to know everyone. We struck up a conversation, became friends on social media, and realized we had mutual connections outside of Pulse. Before I knew it, I was majorly crushing. As we got closer, we realized there was a mutual attraction and a deep level of respect and, as it turned out, love. Our “flirty friendship” on the dance floor transformed into a love story that exceeded my wildest imagination.
By the time, COVID hit we were living together and planning a future. I was about to turn 40 and we also decided we wanted to grow our family together. Laurie already had a teenage daughter from a previous relationship – Kaia, who is an incredible human (she has come to Pulse here and there for POP and Zumba). I was lucky enough to get pregnant in October 2020. Laurie and I got married in April 2021 and Kinley was born soon afterward on June 23.
On the day Kinley was conceived, we stopped by Pulse on the way home to sit in the parking lot and reflect on our journey and our love story. On the day we went public that we were expecting, we had our picture taken outside by the mural.
I was lucky enough that Pulse re-opened in-person a few months before our daughter was born, so I was able to dance up to 38 weeks, before my body said “No more”. We are proud and thrilled that Kinley has the unique honor of being the first “Pulse baby”. And I don’t know if it was all those hip circles, but as a toddler, she wakes up dancing and beebops her way through life every moment of every day. I have no doubt we will see her on that Pulse stage someday.
What is your favorite thing about PulsePDX?
I couldn’t possibly name just one. But I think overall all of the memories and friendships and moments add up to “Pulse magic” – the bone-deep confidence that it is okay (even celebrated) to let your light shine and be exactly who you are. Pulse has become such a part of my love story with myself – I’ve done so many things with this community that I never thought I would do … from winning a costume contest (Zumba grannies forever!), to getting on stage without fear, to starting a book club, to introducing myself to strangers. We’ve celebrated milestone birthdays and baby showers and mourned losses as a community. This place has become my family.
What do you do when you aren’t dancing with us?
When I’m not dancing with Pulse family, I’m probably dancing with Kinley, who is now almost 2 and has rhythm like you wouldn’t believe. Laurie and I are both very close to our families, so we spend a lot of time with grandparents and cousins and so many relatives.
I’ve been a nurse since 2009 and a nurse practitioner since 2015. I currently practice part-time in palliative care at Providence Cancer Center and teach full-time in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at University of Portland School of Nursing & Health Innovations. I love what I get to do for a living.