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May 12, 2011

Last weekend was my kids’ dance recital. I was excited because it was Georgia’s fifth year dancing at the Janie Christy School of Dance in Dallas, and she got a special mention in the program.

I was also excited because, despite it being the fifth recital, it was the first one I got to appreciate.

The first year, I had a raging case of undiagnosed cancer which, of everything I have endured, is far and away the worst of it.

The second year I had just lost my hair from chemotherapy, and I had had chemotherapy the week before the recital. I could barely walk.

The third year we missed entirely because I was in Houston having surgery.

Last year, I had just had surgery. I went to the recital, but I had surgical drains and I was on mega painkillers so I barely remember it.

This year, I got to go, and I got to appreciate it, and as I watched the recital, I came to appreciate exactly what the Miss Janie and her dance class has meant to my family over the last five years.

We’ve been to the gates of death and back again over the past five years, in our family, and throughout it all, my kids have had the opportunity to dance with Miss Janie every week, week after week. It’s part of their lives. It’s part of their routine, and the realization of what it has meant to them is just now beginning to dawn on me.

Miss Janie doesn’t just teach dance. She teaches children, and used dance to do it.

My children have learned, the hard way, that 90% of life is just showing up, and Miss Janie has let them learn that hard lesson in the easiest possible way.

She’s taught them, by example, what it means to be a Christian. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her mention her faith, but it shines.

Miss Janie, Miss Katie, and Miss Gina, have taught my children that when something is hard to learn, you keep trying. They’ve taught them that when you make an effort, and don’t give up, you can learn things that seem impossible the first time you try.

Miss Janie has taught my children that dancers come in all shapes and all sizes. I love that our dance studio lets fat girls dance in starring roles. I love that my kids get to see that fat girls can dance.

She has taught them to sit still and listen.

She has taught them to be welcoming and compassionate toward people with Down’s Syndrome, and she has taught them that kids with Down’s Syndrome belong on the same stage as all children.

She has taught them to hold themselves to a high standard.

When I look at what works for our family about Dallas, the Janie Christy School of Dance is at the top of the list. I’m so lucky I found my way there, five years ago.

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