Killing 2 birds…

Almost daily I get a wave of guilt about neglecting this blog.  It’s not that I think anyone is particularly heart broken over the fact that I haven’t written since October, but I have all these thoughts that I want to put on “paper” and every time I let one slip away without recording it, it’s gone forever.  Writing truly is therapeutic for me and I think the year I spent writing regularly turned out to be a pretty great year.

Another thing I used to do a lot of that I let slip through the cracks is reading.  I’ve read 1.5 books in the last 2 years.  I should clarify: 1 whole book (Insurgent), and a quarter of 2 other books (Allegiant and Midnight in Austenland).  They now sit on my bedside table, unfinished, staring at me with judgmental eyes.

Well I have great news.  Not only did I just finish a book (a GREAT book I might add) in only 3 days, but I am going to WRITE ABOUT IT!  This weekend, my conscience will be clear.

While dancing with my college contemporary dance company many years ago (13 years?? ugh), I met a girl named Sarah.  She was confident and fun and hilarious…and so intimidating to me.  Luckily for me, I got a crush on the same boy that she had a crush on and in the process of vying for the affection of this soon-to-be-out-of-the-closet male dance partner of ours, we formed a close bond.

The next year, her younger sister Holly started college and also joined our dance company.  The three of us, along with our other amazing friend Donna, proclaimed ourselves “The Fab Four” and had all sorts of adventures together.  Among these adventures was story time with Holly, who was not only a beautiful dancer and as funny as her sister, but an amazing writer.  One night while we were waiting to leave for the airport at four in the morning, we stayed up to listen to Holly narrate her latest Horror novel.  We couldn’t wait to find out what happened and continued the story on long bus rides in place of sleeping.  These are memories I will never ever forget.

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We also have really great fashion sense.  You can see where we got our name from…

So this year when Holly had her very first novel officially published, I couldn’t wait to start it.  And now that I have finished it I can’t believe I have to wait months for the next one!  I almost want to call Holly and just have her tell me what happens.  I loved the book so much in fact that I called Barnes and Noble yesterday to ask them how one becomes a featured author in their store.  You know, like the front-and-center displays that jump out at you as soon as you walk in the store.  I was told that typically the author works with a professional PR person who contacts the store headquarters and arranges for things like that.  I ensured them that no one put me up to this, and I said “Well can’t I just tell you it was really good and ask you to display it in the front?”.  He was nice and he laughed at my “joke” and apologized that that’s not the way it works.

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The book, entitled Foreshadowed, is “a well-plotted story of suspense and potential murder, hinging on the unique and endearing relationship of two darkly gifted teens…Left me guessing until the end…and still has me speculating.” (Brief plot synopsis and review written by the book’s cover artist, Lyndsay Johnson, who said it as well as I ever could).  The characters in this story are so well developed.  They’re the sort of characters that you care about because they care about each other.  And because who doesn’t have something weird about themselves that they think makes them a freak?  The book may not jump out at you when you walk into the book store.  But it most definitely deserves to be best seller.

I feel honored to call Holly a friend and to have “known her when”.  I have all my fingers, toes, and anything else crossable, crossed that she becomes a huge success.  Go get your copy for Foreshadowed!

 

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Bullying? Stop It!

At the beginning of this school year, my first as a mother of a child in school, I experienced for the first time the unthinkable task of comforting a child who has felt rejected.

Jade came home from school that day feeling more confused than sad.  When I asked her if she was making new friends in her class (which you may recall I realized quickly was absolutely the wrong question) she shared a playground story with me.

The girls (you remember which ones) were playing nicely when Jade approached them and asked if she could play too.  They exchanged looks, one whispered to the others, and then they all ran away from her laughing.

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Jade??  She is gorgeous!  She’s funny, talented, and SO kind.  Not that it should matter what she is or isn’t at their age.  So why were these FIVE-YEAR-OLDS treating her like she had the plague?

I’m volunteering in Jade’s class once a week where I work with a small group on reading skills.  Jade is 1 of 6 kids in her group, and the only girl.  She has found her place among the boys, probably because she has 3 younger brothers.  She’s part of their clubs, their inside jokes, and they often fight to sit next to her.  It’s a different story among the boys.

There’s a Club (gang maybe?) that one of them has invented, and although its a “boys only” club, he’s invited Jade to be a part of it.  And even more surprisingly, he has named his testosterone-driven group “The Mimi’s”.

A Mimi looks (or at least did a few weeks ago) like a ball on a stick with a triangle at the bottom.  It has its own store where it sells goods to only certain other Mimi’s.  Its exclusivity at its finest.

One day while I was in their class, one of the boys in their reading group (who is NOT a Mimi) drew a picture.  He showed it to the gang leader and said, “Look, its a Mimi!”.  I will vouch for this young boy:  I have seen many Mimi’s drawn over the course of the year, and he was spot on.  However, the leader said, “That is not a Mimi.  This is a Mimi”.  He proceeded to draw an entirely different creature altogether, showed it to the other boy, rolled his eyes, and turned away.

Who taught them to act this way?  Did they see it on television?  Or are they genuinely just looking out for their own well-being, which at this age only means having fun even if its at the expense of someone else?  It always has at least a little to do with acceptance.

Regardless of the reason, this is unacceptable.  And if they act this way as kindergartners how can things possibly get better from here?  The answer is: they can’t.  Which is why bullying is more prominent than ever, especially with the added ease and convenience of cyber-bullying.

After watching the video that I’m sharing below I was thinking about experiences that I’ve had where I witnessed bullying taking place.  When I think about my involvement with bullying in public school, 3 specific kids come to mind.  I was never the originator, but I also never said anything to prevent it.  Observing and not speaking up made me just as guilty as the culprits.

A note about Facebook:  I don’t have any regrets about no longer using it, but I will admit that for me FB was a good way to try to mend relationships (or lack of) that had weighed heavily on me.  I have been in contact with one of the bully-victims in particular, and it amazes me how differently I see her now that I don’t have the anxiety of what people will think of me if I talk to her.  She’s so thoughtful, always congratulating me on life-changing events and thanking me when I do the same for her.  She’s a beautiful person inside and out, and I feel so grateful that she made it through that stage of her life and moved on to find happiness and love.  Not every target of bullying is so lucky.

Today being Sunday, I’m feeling a lot of guilt for skipping church, so I’m also thinking a lot about what Christ had to go through for me.  Clearly the word “bullied” is an understatement in this case.   But I can’t imagine that very many of those who contributed ultimately to the murder of their Savior did so willingly.  Many of them must have felt very threatened, physically or even socially, about what would happen to them if they didn’t support the crucifixion of who will forever be considered, by most, to be the most important man in the history of time.  Either that or they had been brainwashed into thinking that this man wasn’t worthy of the respect and kindness that everyone else deserved.  Its hard to believe that people could be so cruel, and not a single person today would believe themselves capable of such cruelty.

So then why is it okay to treat people so thoughtlessly now on a seemingly lesser scale?

I wish I could say that starting today I will be the one who institutes the biggest change the world has ever seen; one that will spread so quickly that I will never have to worry that my kids will be the subject of these senseless acts.  Unfortunately, I believe the world is only becoming more accepting of evil, so even if every parent on earth taught their children to be kind to others it still won’t protect them completely from how others could possibly treat them.

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The single most important thing we can do as parents to combat the effects of bullying is to show our children love at home.  Maybe that’s why we have a large family; so, if they’re as lucky as Aaron and I have been with our own siblings, my kids will always have a built in support system.

***Spoiler alert:

This video does end happily!

STOP BULLYING!

I suppose an Encore was inevitable

I put a lot of thought into the decision I made when I wrote this post and decided not to hold on to a dream that only had the potential for disappointment.  But I guess some things are just in the stars; you can’t change your fate.  Or maybe its just in my genes.  You can’t change genetics either.

In the two months since proclaiming to no longer be a dancer, I have received more requests to use my dancing skills than I have in the last year while being proactive about teaching.  It’s as if the Universe is begging me to reconsider.

When I think about all of my most life-changing and memorable experiences—with the exception of my husband and children—they all involve dance.  And it’s not even entirely true that my family isn’t included because Aaron proposed to me on the stage that I did all of my college performing on (I’ll save that story for another time), and Jade is in love with ballet, gymnastics, and now musical theater.

I can’t escape my destiny: almost all of the traveling I’ve done, many of my most challenging times, the reason that I’m as healthy as I am despite my MS diagnosis, and the reason I spent 5 years at the school that I did and, ultimately, met Aaron all revolve around dance.  My best friends are dancers.

I have the World’s best friends.

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I know the reason we are so close is because of our shared passion for dance.  It has created a bond that is so strong that most people couldn’t possibly relate.  A bond so strong that for the rest of my life it will be difficult for me to make new friends because I will always compare them to these friends (Thanks for that, girls :P).

12 years of pictures.  How can I possibly choose which ones to share?

There are all the times we toured together…

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All the times we laughed together…

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And cried together…

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And DANCED together…

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You get the picture.  That’s a lot of memories.

I’m sorry to be so fickle, but I need to retract, or at least amend, a statement that I made before.

I do not need a new me.  I love the Me that has been shaped since I met all these amazing people whom I love so much!  We will always be friends.  And even if I’m not dancing right now, or teaching, I am a dancer.  I will always be a dancer.  And I look forward to the day in Heaven when we all (you know who you are) reunite for a big encore performance!  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  12:30 sharp.

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