My Nia Journey—Nia Teacher Cheri Fredrickson

Dear Debbie,

I’ve heard you say on several occasions that you like to hear people’s Nia stories. I’m not much for sharing my story, but I keep feeling the pull to share with you. So, here goes.

When I came to Nia I was at a low point in my life, after several years of really challenging life events. It had started several years prior with falling in love with a man who turned out to have a wife in another city (discovered quite accidentally), a bizarrely abusive situation with an employment contract I had taken on, followed by a very difficult situation with my family blowing apart around our family business - a ranch in Montana.  I hadn’t allowed myself to get close to a man in a long time, and I was deeply wounded by the dishonesty. I’ve always had pretty good work relations, so I was blown away by the deliberate and calculated vindictive sabotage that happened in my workplace. My family’s ranch is one of the few things that was ever a solid thing in my life. Being a part of that family drama/trauma affected me deeply on many levels. I completely lost confidence in my “Spidey sense” through the course of all of those events, which is something I had always felt was one of my gifts.

As the ranch situation was reaching its apex, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. That put me out of commission for about two and a half years. During that time I gained weight, lost muscle, lost coordination, lost brain function and all but lost my business because I could not work much. Between dealing with the ranch situation and having Lyme, I depleted my financial resources. I drained my savings, ran up debt, and took from retirement to live and pay medical costs. At that point, I was getting pretty concerned about what my financial future was going to be, as I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to work normally again.

I had reached a point where I was spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially devastated. Frankly, I felt rather like I was a waste of air. I asked many times during that period what Spirit was asking of me. What was the purpose of these last several years? What was my purpose going forward? I got no answer. I met with a shaman. I did constellation work. I sought counseling. I revisited Human Design. I looked at astrology. I meditated. I prayed. I did energy work. Nothing seemed to help, other than everything kept coming back to tell me I was exactly where I was supposed to be, which wasn’t particularly satisfying or comforting.

At a particularly low point where I was, once again, asking for guidance and getting no answer, I asked a different question. I asked what I could do to get my life back, and clear as a bell, I heard, “Nia.” To say I was surprised is an understatement. I had very little experience with Nia, even though I had been to some classes over the years. However, it was the one tangible thing that I had to go on. So, I went looking.

I couldn’t find classes that I could attend regularly and still work. Not working when I was able to, was not an option. I decided the solution was to learn to teach. The path seemed open for me to do that. Split White Belt in Centralia, which I thought made it more likely that I could complete the class physically, although I wasn’t sure. I still wasn’t feeling great. However, I was feeling better. Green Belt in Helena starting the day after our ranch meeting finished up, a short distance from Helena. I thought I needed that, given I had no background in Nia, dance, teaching fitness, or anything related.

I had an amazing movement towards healing in both belts that continued with practice and other courses. During White Belt is where I felt Lyme leave my body, a process that is hard to describe. However, it felt crystal clear at the time. During Green Belt, I felt something shift with a back injury I received at 13. In 52 Moves training, I had the experience during MoveIt that I could possibly experience the sensations I loved from my years of running. The list goes on. I continue to be astounded at how much healing has occurred for me on all realms in the past (almost) two years.

I’ve also been amazed at how Nia has revealed deeply buried trauma that I had learned to work around. I had been fooling myself into thinking those traumas had been healed when in reality I had really only learned how to hold things down. Precarious, at best. A gift (that doesn’t always feel like a gift) of this practice seems to be the inability to hide my wounds. I have come face to face with a number of things about myself that I didn’t really want to look at.

A few months after completing my Green Belt training, I was offered a studio to teach in for free. That felt like another sign that it was the right choice. I had a lot to work through – feeling fat, frumpy, out of shape, unbalanced, uncoordinated, lacking confidence in my brain function… It was quite stressful for me not knowing what to expect from my brain or my body at any given moment. For a person who was accustomed to feeling highly coordinated, competent, fit and smart, it was both terrifying and humbling to put myself up in front of the room doing this thing that I definitely did not feel good at – mentally or physically. Thankfully, while I was not a natural, I could see improvement as I stuck with it.

Then I (unexpectedly) lost that studio due to closure. Shortly after, my mom became seriously ill with congestive heart failure, ending up in the hospital and needing care when she returned home. So, that became my focus. It was several months before I felt I could revisit teaching and start looking for a studio, again.

This past summer I was fortunate to find a nice place to teach in downtown Tigard, beginning one night a week. I learned quickly that only teaching one night a week was harder for me than teaching more often. I added another night and recently added Saturday, as well. Unfortunately, I have had a very hard time getting people to come to class. I’m still figuring out what works to get people in to try it out. I have a few regulars, but it fluctuates based on what’s happening in peoples’ lives. I’ve not had more than six in class at one time. I still occasionally have zero, although rarely.

Auditing both white and green last year was excellent. Being much healthier when I revisited them allowed me to gain more value. Plus, the new Green Belt format spoke to me in ways that the previous format did not. Although I certainly got value from the first one, I learned more ease from the second one. Thank you for making that available to me. It was a wonderful gift.

Blue Belt had its own surprise gifts, not the least of which came from the depth of emotion I felt when you shared about the harsh feedback you’ve received, at times. While it made sense to me that I would feel bad about that, the depth of my feeling indicated that there was more to the story. That led to the unearthing of one of the traumas I spoke of before, which has been a profound healing journey for me.

Attending the recent Evolution weekend was lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed going through each of the Nia offerings, learning about where we’re headed, and the connection. I’m excited for what is to come and am looking forward to Brown Belt this summer.

I have a long way to go before I will be back to where I once was physically or cognitively. I do see the possibility of both, though. That is a relief and a blessing. I’m still not sure what these years have been about, but at least I feel better about being here.

I am grateful for the role that Nia has played in my healing journey. I honestly had no idea what I was stepping into in spring of 2017. I was simply willing to do anything that gave me some hope of normalcy. I have no idea what the future holds, but I am optimistic that it will be good.

Thank you for all you’ve given me in this process. I appreciate it more than you could possibly know.