I met Carla when I took one of her Buti classes, which I usually call “sexy yoga” because that’s pretty much what it is. Her workout classes feel like doing yoga uphill, in Technicolor. Beyond being a fitness instructor, she has become my friend.
A few weeks ago, on a very cold January night, Carla’s home burnt down. It was catastrophic. The fire burned quickly and destroyed most of her possessions. Carla and her boyfriend Frank, a well-respected musician in Portland, were safe but shaken, and amazingly optimistic. About a week later, Carla invited me to document the house before it was demolished. At the time, we didn’t know what the photos were for, just so that they could exist for Carla, capturing a moment of the unique and remarkable life she is living.
I had a different blog post set up for this week, but it seemed like the right time for Carla to tell this story. Late last night, I wrote a few questions and sent them to Carla to answer via email. Here’s what she wrote about her life and her experience with the fire.
I FEEL LIKE YOU’VE LIVED A VERY DIFFERENT LIFE THAN MOST PEOPLE. TELL ME A BIT ABOUT YOUR STORY.
Where to start! I grew up in Maine with unconventional parents. Animals were central in my life, I was a 4H kid and horses and hiking and strays and huskies were huge. I traveled the country a number of times, I have an amazing ten year old son named Solomon, and until recently, I lived in a barn made into a recording studio with the love of my life.
TELL ME ABOUT BEING A BUTI INSTRUCTOR. WHAT IS BUTI?
Buti is a combination of tribal dance, yoga, and plyometrics. Buti is a Marathi word that means “the key to unlocking something secret or hidden.” Buti has become a tribe of women all over the world working towards self-empowerment, strength, and support. It has all of the elements of movement that I enjoy. It allows me to express myself creatively, I do what I’m moved to do in the moment, and I do what the music tells me to do. I get to encourage women to feel better about themselves and realize their strengths.
Movement is freedom to me. Free will. It is something that I always have and I can always do, anywhere, anyplace. I am compelled to move. I have to move. Fitness is important and I see it in a holistic sense. When your body is strong, your mind is stronger. You are better able to handle things, overall, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HOME BEFORE THE FIRE HAPPENED.
The barn was like our den. Random bearded men would show up from time to time and make loud noises on things (make music with Frank), but overall it was quite small and cozy and we had everything we needed. There were some colorful characters living in the house and it had quite a history of interesting people and stories. There was an old hay door, and I sitting in the open hay door. I loved the train tracks and walking down them to go to the Bayou Kitchen.
It was scary, instinctual, and very primal. There was nothing in my mind but getting out. I was unprepared for how quickly it happened, with no time for thought, only reaction. I was frightened when I realized that people were still inside the building. I was upset, that we were losing the studio, and upset because I thought my pictures were burning up. That would be like a death. Pictures to me are like people.
WHAT DID YOU LOSE IN THE FIRE?
I lost my sense of attachment to things. I thought I would be devastated over the loss of things like my clothing or the pictures. But I wasn’t really. However, I did lose a desk my grandfather made and a showstopper of a dress that I wore when pregnant with Solomon.
We saved my birth pictures that I was initially so worried about. We saved most of my pictures. We’re saving a lot of the musical equipment. We gained a tremendous appreciation for each other, for having each other in our lives. And, we’ve gained a tremendous appreciation for all of the people who have come forward to support us, and we gained a tremendous opportunity to move forward and create something better.
WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT FIRE?
I want them to know that you have no time. You don’t have the time that you think you do. And to have and test your smoke detectors! Don’t underestimate the danger and listen to your intuition and common sense.
WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Solomon and Frank. Freedom. If I didn’t feel free in my relationships they wouldn’t work. I need to be connected but not bound.
WHAT IS A LESSON YOU ARE LEARNING OR HAVE LEARNED?
I’ve learned to set goals and keep them. To see a possibility in the future and make it a reality is something I have struggled with, but am learning to do. I’m also learning to roll with the punches and not stress out about things!
WHAT IS THE GREATEST STRUGGLE IN YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW?
I struggle with wanting to be a good mother for my son, and struggle with co-parenting with someone who isn’t always on the same page.
Having someone to love and to give to. Having Solomon.
WHAT IS THE BEST MOMENT OF AN AVERAGE DAY?