Monday, September 29, 2014

Lookin' for Love

I am about to admit something that I never thought I would tell anyone. It is something that I struggled with and was afraid of for a long time, just thinking about it now is breaking my heart. I have even gone back and forth about posting this blog. I've had it written for months, but didn't want to open up and be as vulnerable as I'm about to be. BUT, I feel it's important enough to post. So here it goes.... 

I was afraid I wouldn't love my daughter when she was born and I didn't. I know some of you are probably going, "what?!?! How is that even possible? There's no way!" And I'm telling you, "yeah, it can happen."

While I was pregnant women would always tell me how connected they would feel to their babies while they were pregnant; how they already felt a strong bond between themselves and their unborn children. Some even told me the connection they felt during pregnancy was so strong that once the baby was born they would feel empty because they felt they were missing that bond. 

I definitely did not feel that way. 

Yes, I was ecstatic to become a mother and yes, I was so extremely excited to be starting my little family...but I didn't feel a strong connection to the baby growing inside me.  It was a "super cute 'soon to be baby' parasite." I did get excited and think it was cool when I would feel her kick or move around (I absolutely loved that... Well, until the last few months ;) ), but that was the extent of what I felt.

I don't know why I didn't really feel anything. All I knew is that I wanted to feel something. I started feeling inadequate because I thought I should be feeling more. As time went on so did this lack of feelings; I became deathly afraid that those feelings wouldn't ever come, that I would never really love my daughter.

Well, January 11th FINALLY came and Alice was born! It was an amazing day that of course has changed my life forever! I was so happy and excited to welcome my DAUGHTER (still a bit weird to say) into this world! Everything was a bit of a whirlwind after she was delivered. When I finally had a moment to stop and assess my feelings, I didn't feel the way I wanted or the way I thought I was "supposed to feel". Yeah, I had a feeling of responsibility, I wanted to care for her, and thought she was precious; however, all of that was fairly superficial. I only loved her in a "I want to take care of her" kind of way and was amazed by the whole process of pregnancy and child birth. I didn't feel like I *really* loved her the way I should or hoped I would. It's not that I didn't want to; I would have given anything to feel that amazing head over heels in love with your brand new baby feeling I always hear women talk about!!

I felt like my fear had become my reality. I would look at her and wonder, "Do I actually did love her?" Then would wonder if she was aware of my feelings. (Because that's all I needed... To start screwing my child up emotionally already.)

After we left the hospital I actually had the opportunity to take care of my completely helpless baby. As I came to know her I started to fall in love. My love for her grew a little deeper each day. 

When Alice was about 3 months old I was breast feeding her and there was nothing out of the ordinary. I looked away from her for only a minute. As I turned back I saw her in a way I had never seen her before. I don't know how to explain it other than I was overcome with love. So much so I started bawling!! There was a burning in my bosom, and, no, it was not just my "let-down". ;)  I was in love with my daughter, more than I had ever been!! What was even more amazing was that it was a much more intense feeling than what I had been expecting to feel.  

Now when she and I stare at each other there is no question that there is tons of love radiating between us and I just want to kiss and hold her all the time!! I was so worried about not loving her that it actually prevented me from starting. I didn't want it to be "wrong" or leave something to be desired. I should have realized there is no wrong way to love; every relationship is different. Sometimes it takes time, and that is perfectly ok.

Since January I have grown to love Alice more than life itself and cannot wait to see her grow into a beautiful woman and see how much more my love for her grows!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013s Over Onward and Upward to 2014

Well, I'm jumping on the band wagon... This time of year everyone makes posts of their year in review and what they plan for the next year. I wasn't going to cave and be part of the majority, but here I am... Just call me Lucy. (Get it?? Lucy... The oldest female human remains they found... A cave woman... Maybe I'm too much of a geek since I found that so very entertaining.

At the beginning of 2013 I had a slew of goals that would take me out of my comfort zones and dared me to be adventurous! All of those were derailed and replaced by new goals/achievements that pretty much did the same thing. Which I couldn't be happier about. For instance, instead of trying out for the Phoenix Suns dance team (which heck, I may still do) I got married! Instead of competing in a solo blues dance contest I got pregnant! (...which Dabney just said is kinda the same thing!)

Can you believe it?? I'm having a baby anytime between now and a couple weeks from today! I kind of am still in disbelief! I get a jolt back to the reality of it all with every kick to my ribs or every time I walk in front of a mirror! I am SO EXTREMELY happy that I get to be sharing and experiencing this with my best friend and the perfect companion! I am convinced Dabney and I were pretty much made for each other; unfortunately, as a result, this kid has no hope... She is going to have the most awkward "awkward phase", have the worst teeth ever (until braces, but will continue to have problems with them moving), and will probably be super embarrassed by her parents all the time. I've thought about this a lot. 

Last year I managed to  snag a man that has become an incredible support to me in every aspect, takes care of me when I cry (even if it's as dumb as me not being able to turn the hot water on), makes me laugh so hard that I have thrown up (multiple times), is still attracted to me when I look my worst, and no matter how much time we spend together it doesn't seem like it has been long enough. It still amazes me how unconditionally he loves me, I have never had that kind of relationship before him and I had never imagined having one. To top it all off he is going to be an amazing father, even if at times he doubts himself; I know it because I know him and have seen him with his nieces and nephews he is so full of love there is no way he couldn't be!!

Last year we made a goal to broaden our teaching and take our show on the road. Which we did, quite successfully I might add. We took it easy after I got pregnant, since I didn't know what to expect, but in 2014 we hope we can start to build momentum and do it again!

I was going to make specific goals for 2014, but I think just general ideas would be best. This is going to be a new chapter in my life that is going to involve much more than just myself. With that in mind I feel The best goal I can have is to be flexible. A baby is a ton of hard work... And I've already started to have the feelings of inadequacy because of it. I wasn't being flexible. I need to learn to let go of things when they aren't perfect according to the plan. I mean if everything went perfect where would the fun in life be?!

In 2014 I'm going to get out of my comfort zone! I have always wanted to choreograph dance numbers, but never have. I've always felt I'm not creative enough for it and have always been scared of what my peers might think. I'm making a goal to give up that silly notion! I am a talented dancer that has a ton of potential and before I can reach my full potential I have to start unlocking it!! Why should I sit by the way side and let others do it without standing up and giving it a shot?! In the next year I am hoping to organize a solo girls chorus/team out here in Phoenix. Working with just the follows has been something I've wanted to do since I moved here, but have been too nervous/ scared to do so... Again silly notions!

I am going to read more... And actually finish books once I start them! I have about 5 books that I have started reading and have yet to finish!

I'm going to be more genuine in all my relationships. In the last couple years I have gone through some pretty emotionally wrecking experiences and have been too focused on myself and not other people, rather I've only been focused on certain people. Yes, I have new and old friendships that I have built and are great, but there is so much more I can do to bring happiness to the lives of people around me. My mom was a really good example of that. She would always be thinking of other people. In the last year I feel I have done somewhat of the opposite and only cared about me and people in my immediate circle. This year that is going to change!

To go along with the last item, I am going to start writing thank you cards for things I am given. Getting a present is great and dandy, but getting a thank you card makes a person really feel appreciated. (I got this idea from a friend, Beth Grover, on Facebook)

I also want to run in some sort of organized race... Not a marathon or half marathon... More like a 5k or 10k. I've been wanting to do that for a while, the last time I did something like that was in 8th grade!! I figure it's probably going to be a great way to lose some of this baby weight too!

I  feel really good about the things I have set out to do and am optimistic about 2014, it's going to be a good year. No matter what! I mean how could it not be?! I'm starting the year off as a brand new mommy!!

(Maybe I'll even blog a bit more....)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Speech for My Mother's Funeral

Sunday March 24th marked 5 months without my mother. I miss her so very much. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about and I would give anything to have her here again.

I have received a few requests for the talk/speech I gave at my mother's memorial service. It's taken me a while to post it, but here it is for the world to see. Just FYI... I did ad-lib and changed things around a little bit.

First, that was really mean to have me speak after the Choir sang "The Candlelight Carol". Thank you so much to the Disney Choir for making the trip to be here it was beautiful. When my mom first got sick the first thing she complained about was not being able to do the Candlelight program with you guys. It really was her favorite thing to do all year.

Thank you so much to all of our family and friends! We have been extremely overwhelmed with the reaction we have gotten from all of you! It has been a blessing to see how many lives my mom has touched and how many of you deeply care for her and our family. My Mother, Donna Lee Nielsen Vizzard, was born September 8th, 1951 and then raised in the San Fernando Valley. She fondly received the nickname "Muggins" from her Grandma Reeves. Grandma came up to mom's bassinet and said "you're gonna be my "Ruggin Muggins". Her grandmother wanted her to ride horses and walk on fences and be sort of a tough girl, but mom (the lady who considers motel 6 camping) would have nothing to do with that. When she was little and wouldn't fall asleep her parents would take her for a drive and sure enough she would fall asleep. Sometimes her parents would drive her and her sister down to Disneyland just to watch the fireworks from outside the park in the parking lot and not even go inside! At 22 she married the love of her life in November of 1973, with whom she would start her dream life and raise two children... Little did she know she was really getting three kids... One was just a little bigger and older.

In 1969 and a senior in high school my mom was able to participate in a Golden Green Ball, it is a way for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to recognize the High School Seniors in the area... with a really weird name. I randomly found the "Resume" they found for her that night.
---- read resume----

Well, she did get married in the temple. And As a talented seamstress and arts and crafts guru she made many things for our family. When John was in Kindergarten he wanted to be a dinosaur for Halloween. So what did my mom do?? She worked long and hard and made an amazing dinosaur costume!! (describe) It was so good that John won first place in his costume contest and he was lead to the front of the group by the cop he was scared of! Then when I was a freshman in high school I found the costume and made it work for my halloween costume. I even ended up making it in the year book as "Karen Lizzard Vizzard". Also when I was on drill team in 8th grade my mom sewed my dress and one other team mates dress for our final competition. Which happened to be a swing dance number that we won first place with!!!

Then she continued on doing what made her happy with church callings and teaching. She became Young Woman's president 3 or 4 times and relief society teacher primary teacher and various other callings where every time she dedicated herself to those young women and men. She would often tell stories of all of them. The one that just comes to mind (since I grew up with their daughter) Sherri and Larry Ready were high school sweet hearts and mom said you could always tell what kind of day it was if Larry was walking in with Sherri behind waving her finger nagging him for something. As Young women's president my mom had us fill out surveys asking for our birthdays, favorite color, favorite historical figure, candy and of course favorite Disney character... And a second one just in case. Now I'm sure many of you don't know this, but my mom had a Disney addiction. (Or as my dad would say a Disney affliction if you saw his check book). She would always make sure the girls had a nice present with as many of those thing incorporated as possible to celebrate their birthday. Cash always burned a hole in her pocket... She would always have to spend it, even if it wasn't on herself.

She loved everything that Disney embodied... Good wholesome FAMILY fun. So, After high school she worked at Pacific Bell and took some time off to be a stay at home mom. She then decided to start her 23 year career at the Disney Store at the Northridge Fashion Center. Why? To get the discount, of course!

Well, Because mom worked at the Disney store we were the coolest kids in school! At least, I was. Mom would always come to career day and pass out Disney coloring sheets that dad made copies of on his copier routes. After she did her presentation everyone would look at me as if I was the key to some secret world! Sometimes for our birthdays we would get to take a friend or two to Disneyland with us and a lot of times we would go for no special reason at all. When we went to the park we'd see the Country Bear Jamboree. After we ate at the country bear restaurant and she would let me get anything I wanted. Even though she told me every time that I wasn't allowed to feed the ducks in the river next to the restaurant, I still snuck French fries under the table. I think she just pretended not to notice most of the time.

We would go to "people watch" with Grandma all the time. We were completely content sitting on a park bench with a churro listening to the happy Dixieland music (which she recently had told me change to a band I have been dancing to for years). But don't worry she was always in for an adventure on any ride, as long as it wasn't a water ride... after the sun went down.

My mom competed in Disney Trivia competitions. And She knows almost anything you could think to ask her about Disney! The last time we went to Disneyland Dabney was there with us and he just kept asking trivia question after trivia question. And she was never stumped! That same trip we heard some jazz music being played in New Orleans Square and of course... I look at my mom giving the "oh please can i?!" look and she said, "oh go ahead." Dabney and I start dancing and start to draw a crowd! She was so excited because people were asking if we were part of the entertainment! SImagine that her daughter part of Disney entertainment! She pulled out her camera and started snapping!

Because of the friends she had made over the years at Disney we all were able to do things that hardly anyone gets to do! Like dad being able to go to Minnie's Moonlight Madness, having lunch with a Disney ambassador... or 2, going to the disney studios (just to get a rice krispy treat from the commissary because those were her favorite), meeting the voice actors of Mickey and Minnie, animators and Disney historians galore!

When my mom found out about her disease she took the news gracefully and steadfastly. She held fast to her testimony in God's plan for her. But she wasn't going down without a fight! She knew what was at stake, but said to me, "I'm going down swinging." To Kill a Mocking Bird was one of her favorite books. At one time she had 3 copies of the book. The best way to describe how she felt about it is in that book. "'Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win,' Atticus said." My mom experienced more trials than most woman have had to and came out on top with a smile on her face ready to face the next one head on. There was never a dull moment with mom, even if you were just sitting and watching TV because she was there it was something special.

My mother was the best example I could have asked for. When I was little and would ask why I had to be adopted "You were always supposed to be mine, you just had to get to me a different way." I'm so glad that I was always going to be with her and will forever be with her. I love my mother and the rest of my family with all of my heart. I will miss my mom dearly, but am so glad she is now in a better place.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dance Inspiration? At a Pizza Place?!


Every Wednesday there is a live band that plays in East Mesa from 5pm-7:30pm. Dabney's dad is in the band so we have made a habit of taking the nieces and nephews to see grandpa play while we dance.

This last Wednesday was particularly memorable. A little girl, about 4 years old, named Kenzie came up and shyly asked me and my nieces to dance.

Of course, I obliged. My niece (6yrs old) took some convincing but finally one of them came out onto the dance floor after protesting, "NO! I can't dance! I don't know how!!"

Both of these little girls copied what I was doing and were having a BLAST dancing to Dixieland music!! Soon enough they got the courage to do their own dancing. They lost all inhibitions and just let go! They looked absolutely ridiculous but they didn't care they were just having fun.

That is something (I think) all dancers should have, but in my experience it is extremely rare to find that type of liberation in a dancer. I have been working on letting myself go and just dancing for me (I will also admit that I had forgotten about that goal until today).

The first time I really felt that I let myself be in the dance and in the music and not give a rat's a** about anything else was the day my mom passed away. I went dancing at Strutters Ball in Orange County. I asked Mikey Pedroza to dance and for the first time ever I was dancing without inhibition, without hesitation, without worry. I unlocked something in my dancing that night that I had never experienced before!

It is an awesome feeling and I'm trying oh so hard to feel that way all the time! I just need the little helpful inspiring reminders along the way!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Not So Merry Christmas Vol.1

It is hard to believe that in my 24 years of life I can say that I have not had a SINGLE Un-merry Christmas. Everyone has to have one right? Well, I guess my time has come and this is going be my first Un-merry Christmas.

Why? This will be my first Christmas without my mother. She passed away recently from liver complications due to pancreatic cancer. My mother was such an integral part of the holidays; she did ALL of the decorating, ALL of the gift buying, ALL of the wrapping, and baked the cookies for santa (I guess my dad helped too... He ate the cookies to make it look like Santa had been there). My mother was the reason the season was SO INCREDIBLY special in our household growing up. To not have her around during probably one of her (and my) favorite holidays is something I've been putting off thinking about for as long as I could.... Afterall, It is after all only 4 days away now (and might I add the world hasn't ended).

This year as the Christmas season approached I began to dread it. I didn't want to have anything to do with it. Everything seemed to remind me of my mother and all I could think about was how much I missed her. Reluctantly, I minimally helped Dabney put up Christmas lights, helped take out some Christmas boxes, and wrapped presents.

As I sat on the couch today I realized the last couple of days I have looked at things a bit differently. The last few days hadn't been completely, "I hate this I miss my mom!!!!" I've started realizing all of the things she found joy in this holiday season and started taking joy in them too.

That thought made me happy. Sharing hobbies/interests with each other is something my mom loved.

It also reminded me of an email I had received from a friend just after the initial news of my mom. He shared a story of a friend he had lost to cancer, how it was difficult to deal with, but how he can now find joy in using the possessions his friend gave him. It is his way of celebrating the times they shared, so to say.

Without really knowing it I have taken the advice to heart. I have started using her things; while at first my heart would just absolutely ache, instead I now remember all of the great moments we had. Whether it's a memory of her giving John and I the beaters to lick after making cookie dough or melting pounds and pounds of chocolate with me to make chocolate lollipops to raise money for my Best Buddies club in High School.

I have now tried to apply it to more than just possessions. My mother taught me a lot over the years. The one thing she taught me best was never lose the Disney Magic. She was ALWAYS nice and never let anything get her down. She always seemed to find joy in something, even if the situation was awful and I have taken note of her (well organized) genuine care for everyone she came in contact with and how she always tried to be welcoming. This holiday season I have tried to be more like my mother in these ways. I have been a bit happier as a result and I think people unknowingly appreciate it. (Let's just say she is a pretty smart woman.)

I know the next few days are going to be hard to handle. Nothing can prepare me for the storm that will be Christmas, but I will go into this thinking of how I can best celebrate her instead of dwelling on the fact she's not with us.

Wish me luck...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Why I Love to Teach Dance

I have a love of teaching dance, it's nothing new... This is a love I always have had, just have never felt very good at it. Recently I have been working on and honing my teaching skills. Hopefully they have improved a little bit at least.

There are many reasons I like teaching. The biggest one is that I get to see the smile on someone's face when they finally "get" what we are doing.

We teach weekly Friday night classes in East Mesa, the last few weeks there have been some less than coordinated people in the class. Nevertheless we all worked hard, we broke down movement, footwork, connection, everything! BUT some of the people in the class just couldn't get it. Dabney and I started to rotate in as leads (since classes always seem to be follow heavy), and I would work with each girl for a little bit before she moved on. There was one girl, about age 14, who for the whole hour could not get her feet to do the footwork for the life of her. We had one last practice song then class was over, and I was determined she would be triple stepping her heart out by the end of this class. As she rotated to me I knew I had one last chance to try to help her in any way I could think of. We were going along and everything was how it had been... until we were suddenly connected and triple stepping. As I was saying footwork and counting and giving slight hints she had an epiphany! I looked up at her face and it was glowing with excitement with a HUGE SMILE from cheek to cheek! When we stopped dancing she no longer was the shy girl looking down at the floor and didn't put her hands in her pockets or cross her arms! She was a confident new woman!

I don't know if that transformation will be just for that moment or whether it will affect the rest of her life, but the fact is I helped her realize she can do something she thought she couldn't and more than just making myself feel good about doing that she felt good about herself! Seeing someone happy with themselves. This is why I teach dance.

On the flip side we taught one of our students how to lead a girl to travel in at various counts of the swing out. We believe in being versatile dancers, yes there are dancing trends but that does not mean that you shouldn't be able to do everything else. The best leads and the best follows are well rounded.

Well our student was so excited that he learned that you can lead in on 1, 2, or 3! He just wanted to share his new found knowledge! He found some local instructors he thought would want to geek out on dancing and told them of his mind blowing experience. Instead of returned excitement, he got yelled at telling him to never lead in on 1 or 3 he is to always lead in on 2 and that we aren't teaching up to date material. This student was taken aback and in turn felt bad about himself and abilities. Instead of being encouraging and instead explain why they do it the way they do, they immediately went on the defensive and started making this student feel attacked.

Now I feel very strongly about what happened. Whoever calls themselves a teacher has automatically taken on a role of understanding and patience. A teacher is not a person who should break someone down (unless they ask you to, lol).

There's a saying every one knows, "The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't- the less you know, the more you think you know (David T. Freeman)." Even teachers don't know everything or our students are going to have different opinions than us, and as teachers we need to be ok with that.

Another reason I love teaching is that I learn so much more from teaching than I ever did taking a lesson. Everyday I'm learning something new, whether it is how to change the connection slightly to allow more body isolation, how to say the same thing 5 different ways, etc!

Teaching is also helping me open up my mind to new creative outlets. I'm choreographing in my sleep, down the isle of the grocery store, and while brushing my teeth! I'm able to hear different things in the music I wasn't able to before because I didn't have to pay attention where now I do and I have a better understanding of music transition as a DJ from teaching!

All around I think I like this teaching thing a lot and I think people think I'm kind of good at it too. Which makes it that much better!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cry me a River

This last weekend was Camp Hollywood. I had been looking forward to this weekend all year!! I was super stoked about it! Everything went really well. Morgan and I competed in Shag and Shaheed and I competed in the Amateur Lindy division. We placed 4th in the Lindy competition. If any of you follow my twitter account you would have noticed that I was SUPER upset Sunday night. I believe the tweet was that I had just had the worst experience of my life.

At any rate, I seriously did have the WORST experience of my life!! One of my really good friends (who happened someone whose opinion I hold very high) was the meanest anyone has ever been to me. I went from wanting to choreograph routines, wanting to get a team (or two) together, and work on my dancing for competitions... to not even wanting to think about dancing ever again!

This person told me that my dancing has gotten way worse since I moved away and that people were talking about how bad it had gotten. This person then proceeded to tell me that they were down to work with me and be partners, but now I don't have my things in order, my dancing isn't on the level, and that they don't want to work together anymore.

I stood there speechless trying to blink back the tears. I mean having someone you are good friends with come and tell you that you suck at what you've dedicated the last 7 years of your life to... not only that you suck, but that you used to be good, but now you've become bad at it. I felt so small and worthless.

I didn't even dance once that night at Camp Hollywood. It was the last night of the event I had been looking forward to for 7 months, my last chance to say goodbye to people before we all went our separate ways, but instead of dancing and having a good night I sat on a couch in a hallway at the LAX Marriott with Dabney balling my eyes out. Even thinking about it now is making me tear up.

It was awful and I hated every minute of the whole experience. No one should ever have to go through that... EVER! I have never experienced a 180 before that moment and I haven't really been able to shake the desire to quit dancing all together.

I love dancing, and I know it is silly to base my feelings, desires, and ideas off of someone else's opinion, but there are some things in life I just can't help... and this is one of them.