By Joelle Murchison & Andrea Barton Reeves
“Freedom to Love the You in You. Who’s FLYY? I’m FLYY!
Are you powered up?
I’m powered up!
Are you fired up?
I’m fired up!”
As soon as you walk through the doors into FLYY Zumba®, you are drawn into what I’ve come to know as the FLYY experience. Sistah Anyangō energizes those in attendance by calling out, in traditional African Call and Response form, and the attendees respond.
“Freedom to Love the You in You. Who’s FLYY?
Are you powered up?
I’m powered up!
Are you fired up?
I’m fired up!”
It’s impossible for you to stand on the sidelines as Sistah makes full use of the room, repeating the now familiar refrain. Nowhere to hide, here she comes to make you recognize the freedom to love you.
FLYY Zumba® is more than a dance class, more than a series of routines; it is indeed an experience. It is self-care, movement, and an opportunity for reflection. You are encouraged to find your own two step if you miss the beat which is also an important message in how we navigate life.
For me, FLYY Zumba® was an opportunity to enjoy dancing but also to step outside of my comfort zone as I began to explore the concepts of freedom and love all while moving. The carefully curated songs serve as the perfect soundtrack to your personal transformation. The overwhelming sense of support, power and strength permeate the air. Very quickly you will learn that this Saturday morning dance class is much more. Fast paced moves, pulsating rhythms, smooth grooves, and inspirational words. I’m always ready to face whatever will come. We are encouraged to see this space as me time, recognizing that we cannot pour from an empty cup!
Once the dancing is done, it’s time for a photo to capture the moment and then to gather in a circle to reflect. As you get comfortable in your new “moist” state, you will be encouraged to share why you are FLYY. It could be that you woke up that morning, or even that you made it through the routines unscathed! Whatever your reason, you will know for sure that you will be back. Release, inspiration, and support, it’s everything that you need.
Beyond Zumba®, the FLYY Movement offers several other engagement opportunities, including Empowerment Freedom Coaching, which I have also participated in. I encourage you to get out on the floor as a first step to learning just how FLYY you are!
It was only four years ago when Sistah Anyangō envisioned a coaching program that would invite women to navigate their own journeys to healing their minds and spirits, and finally embrace the joy they knew they deserved in the seat of their souls. Now supporting over 40 women in individual, group and live sessions, (with a waitlist almost as long), women throughout Greater Hartford are excitedly entering their own sacred space as a “self- healer” in Sistah’s Empowering Freedom Coaching sessions. In this place, women journey with her, exploring their pain, hurt and vulnerability with no judgment, and discover healing and peace. Sistah meets you where you are, in what she often describes as the “muck, the dirt, the broken places we don’t want people to see.” In that very place, she guides you to understanding who you are and supports you on your journey to joy. Whether in group discussions, individual self-healing sessions, or her Facebook Live gatherings on Thursday mornings, women can find safe spaces to share their dreams, triumphs, challenges, and joys.
Empowering Freedom Coaching is not just about teaching women to feel better about who they are - it is about empowering women to fully embrace their joy without apology, accepting that happiness is their birthright. Her work teaches women how to shift their mindsets to believe that they are worthy of joy, peace, and serenity in every area of their life. Through the regular practice of powerful affirmations, meditation, breathing, and journaling, women are led on a journey to their own definition of happiness that is unlike any other experience. Self-healers set healthy boundaries by clearly identifying relationship standards, defining what you want and what you will simply not tolerate in relationships, whether romantic, work or family, embracing the power of NO (which Sistah repeatedly emphasizes is a complete sentence in multiple languages), moving our bodies daily, eating in a way that sustains our physical and emotional health, and taking time to rest.
Women journey through every season of nature and every season of their lives with what Sistah calls “FLYY support”, a unique combination of her guidance and your intuition to lead you to a deeper understanding of what may bring you happiness and sustains your soul. With Sistah and her FLYY support, we learn that no hurt is too deep to be healed, and more importantly, we must deal with our hurt in order to embrace our healing. Once the journey has begun, the transformation women experience is nothing short of amazing. Many tears are shed along with layers of pain and hurt, and what emerges are strong, beautiful souls, reclaiming their lives, setting healthy boundaries, and experiencing the joy of accepting themselves exactly as they are. Empowering Freedom Coaching is life changing. For every woman seeking to love herself unconditionally, your journey can start today.
The FLYY Movement is located at 141 South St f, West Hartford, CT 06110. Find The FLYY Movement online on Facebook, Instagram or on their website at theflyymovement.com.
By Lajeune Hollis
Fashion has always been Brittany Rae’s first passion. So much so that in 2021, she made it her full-time career and opened Richual Boutique—pronounced "ritual"—in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a curated thrift, vintage clothing and accessories shop.
Before opening the doors of this new chapter in her life, Rae was invested in the mental health field, having managed group homes and worked as a case worker and social worker in New York, where she was born and raised.
After losing loved ones to COVID-19, Rae did some soul-searching and decided to focus her energy on what she loved most: fashion.
“The pandemic definitely gave me the courage to say life is short and I should just go for it,” she shared.
And go for it she did. After visiting a friend in Bridgeport, Rae decided to relocate, noting that she liked “the diversity and culture” that downtown had. She was also inspired by the “art world” the city offered.
Rae opened her business and noted lower rents and grant opportunities as some of the silver lining to the pandemic for entrepreneurs. Since she started her business with her own capital, she was able to negotiate more with landlords.
"I love helping people, so owning my own boutique came very naturally. It went from a hobby to my full-time career."
But, it was a challenging time to open a business in the height of the pandemic, because shoppers were not coming out to stores like they previously did.
Rae’s solution was to offer private shopping at her boutique based on the shopper’s availability. She also offered online shopping on her website so that anyone across the country could purchase her products.
Richual Boutique features a mix of new, thrift and vintage styles. It offers trendy, fashionable, affordable clothing for both men and women, including furs, coats, shoes, handbags, accessories, jewelry and more.
For those looking for a special twist, Richual offers The Curated Thrift Box, a collection of 20 pieces of clothing or accessories valued at $200-$300, but at a cost of only $50. Shoppers are asked to indicate their sizes, preferred colors and tone, style and other key factors before Rae chooses what is added to their box. Because of her great fashion sense, the results have gotten rave reviews.
Rae hand-picks the pre-loved clothing available at Richual Boutique, using her keen eye for fashion and her knowledge of all the latest trends. She only selects fashion-forward, unique and on-trend items for her shop. Rae also works with designers who specialize in upcycling clothing and jewelry.
“I was kind of born into fashion,” said Rae. “Raised by very fashionable women, I have always been a shopper, have always thrifted, and I have all of these clothes that I collected. I love helping people, so owning my own boutique came very naturally. It went from a hobby to my full-time career.”
A shopper at heart, Rae admits that she thrifts almost every other day. She loves to travel too, which she says is “tied into thrifting” as she looks for unique pieces domestically or overseas.
Richual Boutique’s mission is to provide high-fashion designs and great material for little to no cost and to save the Earth by buying second-hand. Rae also believes in giving back by donating clothing to people who are experiencing homelessness.
As for what’s next for Richual Boutique, Rae hopes to expand and open additional locations throughout Connecticut. Her ultimate goal? To build a nationwide brand.
Richual Boutique is located in the Arcade Mall, 1001 Main Street, Suite 12, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Find Richual Boutique online on Facebook, Instagram or at their online shop at shoprichual.com.
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