It’s been a minute since I’ve written about my pole journey.

I think today I figured out why: I’ve been feeling snakebit about it all. I’m now hitting tricks I could do before all the surgery in 2013 and it’s getting scary. Complicated. Maybe even terrifying.

There’s a part of me — no matter how EFFIN’ delusional this HAS TO BE — that actually believes that if I surpass the place I was in late 2012 (when I could do a layback like a badass), I’m doomed for another setback, physically.

I *know* it makes NO sense, but I’ve realized I’m like the ballplayer who won’t change his socks during the most important games. It’s gotta be good luck to have the same sweaty-now-crunchy things on to keep the streak alive.

Similarly, I’ve not even pulled out the whole wardrobe of pole clothes I sported in 2012. I’m *only* wearing the stuff I put on for my comeback after finally getting cleared to return to fitness after surgeries… and maybe two or three other things to at least have SOME variety.

And I don’t talk about this.

freakin' gorgeous Jasmine action
freakin’ gorgeous Jasmine action

Until now.

Because today I used one of my M-A-N-Y makeups to hit an Advanced 1 class. The first Advanced 1 class I’ve attended since late 2012 when I was laybacking my badass off… before I got sick. Before I got in pain. Before I got cut into. (And let’s fucking face it — unexpected surgery is as much a violent crime as anything else with that classification. You didn’t ask for it. You didn’t want it. It wasn’t something you went into for the sake of improvement. And you were entered, violently, and have spent YEARS healing… still.)

I’m realizing there’s a part of me who is dealing with stuff as big as “the rape of 1986” with these “surgeries of 2013.” But today, something shifted.

Standing in front of the most amazing Amanda, ever-patient, so gorgeous and giving, I was asked, as always, “What are you ready to try today?”

amazing Amanda being amazingly amazing
amazing Amanda being amazingly amazing

And today I said, “Y’know what? I’m ready to stop talking about what I’ve done before and what I should be able to do by now. You see me. You see where I’ve gotten stronger. You tell me. What am I doing right now?”

When she suggested the Jasmine, I said — effin’ knee-jerk reaction of bullshit — “Oh wow. That’s one I never actually tried before the surgery.” I then quickly said, “Let’s see!”

She asked, “Do you need me to show you the left-handed breakdown?” And I said, “Y’know what? No. Let me just try it. It’s on the ‘wrong’ side of the pole, right? Strong hand up. Outside knee hook. Yeah?”

unhooked Jasmine at The Pole Dictionary
unhooked Jasmine at The Pole Dictionary

I knew — AT BEST — that was all I’d be able to do. There was no WAY I would ever be able to use my puny non-dominant right hand with its 5.75″ wrist to extend me into a triangle, holding my body weight OUT. No way.

And then I hooked my knee. Amanda said, “Drop your right hand.” On the second try, I actually did without panicking (let’s be clear — there’s a whole new adrenaline rush when you try a trick on the “wrong” side without practice, surgery-related mental block bullshit or no). I released my grip, repositioned it at the right spot, held close to the pole, and said, “Yeah, and someday I’ll be able to…”

And then I fucking straightened my right arm as if it were the robotic, superpowered arm of some machine my brilliant brain could command.

“Oh my GOD! I’m STRONG!” I said!

my Pole Sponsor Danielle doing the Jasmine at PPC
my Pole Sponsor Danielle doing the Jasmine at PPC

Just like many times before, there was support and love and cheering from my pole sisters. This was a moment.

But so bigger than anyone in that room could know.

I just looked a bully in the face and said, “BRING IT.”

And then I came home and did things on the NEW home pole I’ve never tried — because I always felt I could only do ’em “in class” and not on my own.

I laid out the cute pole clothes from “before” and said, “Get ready.” Because I know I’m not inviting unwanted, unexpected violence by dressing cuter, feeling girly, loving myself… I know that’s some messed up victim brain bullshit that I am fixing by doing the work.

Aastha's first pro photo shoot
Aastha’s first pro photo shoot

And now I’m gonna declare it: I turn 45 in just under three months. While I’m a 45-year-old plus-sized poledancer, Imma get photos done because what I’m doing is beautiful.

Because what I’m doing is beautiful.

And because I am strong.



Every little bit of that.

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  1. Bex April 20, 2015 at 5:35 am

    I am absolutely madly and happily SQUEALING for you right now!!! This is a brilliant and exciting time!!!! I cannot wait for photos Bon!!! Way to face the Jasmine head on and upside down!!!! YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 20, 2015 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you, sweetheart! I always think of your fire-eating badassery when I look into the face of fear I’m feeling. EFF IT, I say! DO IT! Thank you thank you thank you, and yes, photos soooooon!

  2. Danielle April 20, 2015 at 6:11 am

    YES!!! You get photos done! You deserve it! I highly recommend Alloy Images. They are amazing, kind, supportive, and gentle with dancers of all levels. Get it, Bon. GET. IT.

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 20, 2015 at 9:11 pm

      Constant inspiration, Danielle. LOVE you! Thank you so much! Alloy keeps coming up here, via email, at the Facebook group, on Twitter… apparently that’s the winner. THANK YOU for all the wonderful support you continue to provide!

  3. Bettina April 20, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Reading this I can *see* you rocking the Jasmine , you gorgeous Dancer! So exciting and inspiring!!
    And Spring 2016 at the latest I’m gonna see you jasmine-fly live and *for reals*! Baaaam! :*

    Love it, Love you, Love your strength, your courage, your passion… everything…
    Thank you!
    And happy to know you!

    PS: Photoooooos!

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 20, 2015 at 9:10 pm

      Yes, yes, YES! Think of what I’ll be doing by Spring 2016, m’dear!!! OMG, we will have so much fun and YES photos. YESSSSS! Love you!

  4. Cat April 20, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Bonbon! I am so proud of you! That is a big milestone. I am really stoked for you and can’t wait to see the pics!

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 20, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Love you, Cat. I am so freakin’ excited!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU for constantly inspiring me. <3

  5. Grania April 21, 2015 at 12:58 am

    Wow!!!! Truly delighted for you hon. What a journey too xxx

    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 21, 2015 at 1:34 am

      Thank you, sweet Grania! So excited to be HERE now. Miss you and hope your lapdances are going beautifully!!!!!!

  6. Leah Cevoli April 21, 2015 at 1:23 am


    What a beautiful breakthru!!!

    And fuck yeah, to ending the comparison of pre and post surgery dancing.

    I can for sure relate to that…. before the binge eating/75pd gain of 2010 and after the binge eating/75pds of 2010…

    this is powerful stuff!

    I can’t wait to see your professional shoot AND pictures of you doing the Jasmine!


    1. Bonnie Gillespie April 21, 2015 at 1:33 am

      I love you, Leah. I look forward to POLING with you! <3 We're done playing the comparison game on ourselves, right??? YES!!!!!!! Cannot WAIT to share the photos... to have the photos to share, of course. Hooray! XO

  7. Valerie April 21, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    OMG! I’m so happy for you. I know what it’s like to be trying to get back to where you were. I had knee surgery in 2011 and my running has never been quite the same since, but I keep trying. But I haven’t even tried to get back to the pole since. I never did get very advanced with it, but I enjoyed it immensely. You inspired me to at least think about the possibility of getting back on the pole.

    1. Bon April 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

      Do it, baby! Such an empowering thing to get back at it. Whatever it is, please embrace it. Your comeback will empower you!! XO

  8. Maria April 22, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    As I was reading this, it brought a smile to my face and inner glow in my heart – the cheerleader in me was saying – “You got this” – beautiful reminder – so happy for you. Thank you for the leading the way and showing us that we can transcend. Beautiful Bonnie – congrats xx

    1. Bon April 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Thank you, Maria! “You got this” is such a gorgeous cheer chant. LOVE IT!

  9. Sarah April 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Bonnie you are such a gorgeous leading ninja in everything you do and share! By choosing to face old demons and following you heart’s desire you are inspiring so many others. You have taken me on this journey and what a powerful journey it is of reclaiming our feminine power and loving our bodies as pure expression of that!
    Those photos are gonna be stunning!
    Love you lots!

    1. Bon April 26, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      Cannot WAIT to share this photo shoot with you! Empowerment is beautiful. <3 YES!

  10. La Trice August 29, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    I know this is a bit of an older post, but this is just sooo awesome! First off, I didn’t realize how beautiful pole dancing is! But also, what a reminder of how much we doubt ourselves when we shouldn’t. Pooh Bear (one of my favorites, lol) said it best:
    “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
    You rock Bonnie! I probably couldn’t even hold myself up on a pole. It really resonated with me because there are days on my parkour journey where I’m just like, “I can’t do this! I just, cannot.” And then I really work on it, and before you know it I’m doing that thing without even thinking about it. It’s crazy what we’re capable of when we decide WE CAN! Thanks for sharing such a personal, wonderful win with us Bonnie!

    1. Bonnie Gillespie August 30, 2018 at 12:40 am

      Thank YOU so much for reading it, La Trice. It’s an important milestone for me to have victories like this and I love being able to share them with you. And, um… parkour?!? I am in AWE! THAT is no joke, lady! I’m so impressed! And yes, we are miracles when we believe in ourselves so fully.


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