April is Donate Life Month http://donateliferunwalk.kintera.org/katywallace

Image

  April is Donate Life Month   http://donateliferunwalk.kintera.org/katywallace

This is my mom, Stephanie Kazianka. She has been gone for 3 years now but her legacy lives on through memories and lessons and the day she left us, she gave life to others through organ donation.
Please help me support the Donate Life Run/Walk and honor my mom’s memory by benefiting OneLegacy, and the people who work day and night to save lives, give life and grieve through this process.

Advertisements

Dancing is Food for the Soul

Standard

Last week I heard a woman say, “I wish I could dance. It looks like so much fun.” As my 11 year old was hooked up to an IV, oxygen, heart monitor and other leads, wires, etc. heading into her first surgery ever she responded, ” Anyone can dance, you just have to feel the music.”

The answer is true and simple. Anyone can dance. It is food for the soul. I have been dancing on and off since I was 3 or 4 (in a studio.) I am pretty sure I came out boogie style. My girls did too. My girls and I dance in a studio now as well. We have been dancing since my oldest was just out of diapers. She is 19 now. When my 11 year old was born, I decided, after persuading by the owner of the studio, that I should start taking Flamenco classes even though I was 220 pounds. There was no part of me (or my soul) that wanted to get into a flamenco skirt or dress and shake, twist or turn my hips or body. I absolutely did not feel beautiful or sexy or anything else that I admired about dancers.

Now, I dance on a Salsa team. My 11 year old dances on a Salsa team. She dances Flamenco and does belly dancing as well. My 19 year old dances Flamenco and when she dances it is like she goes to another world where there is no trouble, no worries and her body transforms into this beautiful creature. She is truly an amazing dancer and she doesn’t even know it. Dancing feeds her soul.

Last night I went to Zumba. It was a different clientele than normal. While I felt different walking in because it wasn’t the usual crew and I didn’t have my posse with me, I was so impressed with what I saw. I saw a group of beautiful women of all shapes and sizes wearing whatever they could fit into working as hard as they could- just to feed their souls, and feel that music. Music, dance, and rhythm was causing these women to come to workout and not feel like outcasts at the gym. The room was packed and I was thrilled.

My goal is to see this same phenomenon happen in PE classes for young women. Girls in middle school and elementary school would be more inclined to participate in physical education if they were given more options. Girls in high school would be more likely to pass PE if they were given the option to participate in a class like Zumba, or …. you come up with your version.

Dancing feeds the soul. It feeds the body no matter what age, gender and most importantly size. It is a healthy alternative to traditional exercise and I watched with my own eyes, women making an effort to get healthy through the power of dance and music.

Dance saved me. Dance gives me peace of mind. My kids find serenity in dance. Try it. Anyone can do it.

Like Riley says, “Anyone can do, you just have to feel the music.”

Self- Portrait

Standard

 

As I was beginning a painting a few days back, I read something off to the side that said “Look in the mirror for 1 minute and write down everything you remember that you see.” Yikes! Scary thought…. Tomorrow I will be 37 anImaged when I think “age” different words come to my mind than when I look in the mirror and I think “accomplishment” and see who I am.

Ok, so we have already established through posts of the past that I am list maker. What I find interesting about the task I gave myself is that I started by writing down actual features and watched the features turn to emotions and actions. My one minute staring contest with myself turned into a self-portrait.

 

  • Green Eyes
  • Fine Lines
  • Chubby Cheeks
  • Dark Hair
  • Rosy Cheeks
  • Tired
  • Regular old lips
  • a bigger nose than when I was young
  • sparkle
  • light
  • Interesting features
  • Change
  • Older
  • Different
  • Challenge
  • Story
  • Keeper of Secrets
  • Questions and Answers
  • Private Sadness….

Her tired eyes always tell a story

each new fine line leading to a new tale

to tell the new souls which enter daily.

Some point downward

creating pathways for tears,

While more frequently they aim

straight toward her crazy imagination

where she has learned to create her life

Through generosity and forgiveness.

She smiles through lips which can reveal

a history no one has privilege to without her.

She has become a family treasure.

The weight is heavy but she will take it.

It is a gift handed down to her.

She has realized she is worth something

More to herself than anyone else.

 

 

All in The Family

Image

All in The Family

Sometimes your family, no matter how crazy they are, is all you need to remind you that “things” are just “things” and life does indeed, go on.

While Christmas can bring joyful tears, tears of sorrow, nostalgia, happiness and many other fleeting emotions for people; For me, it just brought a strange sense of peace. It helped me to remember that my mom brought this crazy family together for a reason. Even if she is not here to “manage” it today… we are ok.

(Rephrase: the kids… everyone else but me… are ok… ) but we are ok. I may be insane and needing help at some point soon. I never realized how much I cherished the annoying habits of my siblings until this Christmas. I suppose I understand the phrase “blessing in disguise” at this point – I may not always like it, but I get it.
Yet another valuable lesson left behind. I wonder if she knows I am listening now. I hope she knows I was really listening then too.
Love you mom.

Page 1- London Bridge is Falling Down… Time to Fix that Thing!

Standard

There are a couple ways to fix things in life- 

In regard to our own personal being, we are responsible for that fix or change. 

In regard to other people, we can only hope to help, if help is wanted. 

In regard to people who do not want to be fixed, or change for the greater good, my advice is to walk away… before your bridge falls down and you can not fix it at all. 

In the children’s nursery rhyme and game, London Bridge is Falling Down, innocent children talk about this bridge which is falling down and then they repeatedly give options for how to fix the uncontrollable. 

They suggest using rocks and stones, but quickly decide that rocks and stones would break down too fast. They suggest using silver and gold but are afraid it will be stolen so they propose a watch man. They question whether the watch man will stay awake so they will give him a pipe so he will stay awake all night… but finally they decide that pipe may break and never actually conclude with a solution. They are unable to collaborate on a way to repair the bridge, which according to Walt Disney was one off of the Great Wonders of the world. 

During a life time, there are so many times we question whether we are making the right choice, whether we are being left out, whether we have made the right choice in order for our bridge to remain standing strong. 

I have come to the conclusion that we can only believe in what today is, because we cannot predict tomorrow. We cannot change what has passed. We cannot change the uncontrollable, we can only be responsible for our own actions. 

Taking the high road is not  always easy, but I believe it is the best road. Your bridge will stand sturdy, through fire, rain, heart break, sorrow and loss if you believe in yourself and the impact you can have on even one other person. 

Be strong. Use your strength to keep that bridge from falling. If it has fallen, use strength, purpose and vision to build it back stronger that it was before. 

London bridge can be built, and never break again. It is all up to you. 

Page 1- The Lists of Life

Standard

I have lists for everything. I have a bucket list. I have a list of beliefs. I have a list of things I intend to accomplish before I turn 40. I have a list of character traits I would like my person to have (which at this point in my life needs to be revisited.) I have a list of songs every person should hear in their lifetime, either because the words are incredibly meaningful or amazing or because the music itself is haunting and alluring. 

Some people think these lists are a little crazy. Some people think they are funny. My students, however, enjoy making their own lists based on my examples. The make them at the beginning of the year with doubt and scepticism and revisit them at the end of the year with awe and acceptance of who they are and who they have become in one simple school year. I explain the importance of lists. 

Lists are important because they change. You can re-order them. No one else can tell you what to put on them and you never have to share them if you don’t want to. Lists can become longer and they can become shorter. Lists are all up to the person creating them. Here is my most important list. This is the list that changes the least, but of course, does change through courses of events in life.

My Beliefs

1. I believe in the power of love. 

2. I believe that children are our future and they should all be given equal access to opportunity. 

3. I believe in second chances. 

4. I believe in the beauty of movement. 

5. I believe that music can cure the pain of a broken heart. 

6, I believe in old souls, new souls and in between souls. 

7. I believe in the gift of giving life. 

8. I believe all little boys AND little girls should learn how to tie a tie. 

9. I believe in the spirit of Santa Claus.

10. I believe that people should not be judged because they choose to love who they want to love. 

11. I believe that tattoos are legit as long as they stand for something and they are in a place you can hide them in case of great job interview. 

12. I believe that people have more than one  soul mate. 

13. I believe that heaven and hell are places that we are taught about but we don’t actually go there. 

14. I believe in hard work. 

15. I believe in true love. 

16. I believe that if you ” build it, they will come.”

17. I believe that positivity breeds positivity. 

18. I believe that monogamy for humans is unnatural and has to be worked at tremendously hard by both parties. 

19. I believe that beauty comes from the soul. 

“Believing take…

Quote

“Believing takes practice.” ~ Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Ticky Tack Houses and Believing in What you Stand For

There was a time in my life where my grandmother was very critical and cynical of not only my mother and step-father, but of me and several of my siblings. We were too chubby, the job my step- father had was not good enough and how ON EARTH COULD MY MOTHER POSSIBLY THINK taking in foster children was a good idea. In her [humble] opinion, it was an absurd idea and a waste of resources. My grandfather would tell her to go easy, this was his daughter after all. That did not help, ever. At one point, you see, my grandma was just~ my grandma. 

She played “Katy Cooker” with me and bought me my own cooking utensils so I could do what she was doing in the kitchen. She played (to the best of her high and tight) ability with me like a normal grandma would, until the day I said the words, “I’m full” at her very proper dinner table. That was it… Katy Cooker disappeared that night and I was formally introduced to a new language. I was told THAT NIGHT that I was rude and I was to say, “I’ve had an adequate sufficiency.” Who says that? Well, I do now.. laughing of course and so do my children… with different versions… ” I have been adequately sufficed, or I have been sufficiently adequated.” I find this humorous. My grandma, even now, does not. She has calmed down a bit~ but her BELIEFS remain the same. 

When we moved slightly closer for my step-dad’s job, it was not close enough. However, finally after many years of renting, my parents were able to purchase their own home. I was unhappy about this because I was in middle school and slightly rebellious but I overcame that quickly, realizing this was a good thing. 

My grandparents came to visit for the first time and my grandpa was so proud of my mom for being able to buy this house. Was it beautiful and big and in the Country Club? Absolutely not. We were like Mother Hubbard in shoe. There were a lot of us in a tiny house with one bathroom, but it was ours. 

My grandmother took one look at it and told my mom, “what a ticky tack house!” For the first time ever I heard my mom stand up to her. It felt good. My mom stood firm and let my grandma know that she did not have to be in the center of what my mom believed in. My mom believed in helping others. That belief included buying a home, regardless of the fact that it was not perfect, it was not huge and it was not in Sacramento where my grandparents lived. It was ours. It was filled with love. 

Ultimately, my grandmother did not believe that when my grandfather passed away someday, that we would still be “her family.” She had a funny way of showing that she wanted our love cultivated in her garden! However, we never stopped loving our grandma. We resented her at times, but the love only grew for her and we always let her know. She did not believe in the love my mom instilled in us because she had no children of her own. She was a step-parent and had acted like the step-parents you ready about in V.C. Andrews books. 

Believing does take practice. You have to believe in what you stand for. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to remain true to yourself and what you ultimately believe in because following is much safer than leading. 

When my grandpa did pass away, another hero was lost and we were all devastated. More than anyone, though, my grandma couldn’t pick herself back up. Because we believed in the power of love, we were there. My mom may have shrunk away for a time, only because she too was in an immense amount of pain, but the kids were there. We were there for her because we believed that not only was she our grandma who had been there and adequately loved us, but because in that Ticky Tack house, beliefs were instilled in us that that will live on forever.