What makes a dance studio great? What compels one to vote and say it is the best in the
city, perhaps one of the best in the country? I would easily say the definition is one where
Thus it is with that in mind I have to say Diamond Dance Academy in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee fits the bill. Anyone who has followed the circuit of dance studios knows the focus is winning, putting on stage the best costumes, the best routines and highlighting the studio. This is the hallmark of a successful Dance Studio and Dance team.
All of these matter very much at Diamond Academy. I am an out-of-town grandmother to one child on the dance team. I watched a little girl happy to put on a tutu and stand center stage several years ago. She needed prompting from a teacher off-stage. Now, when I attend, I see the same girl on a competitive dance team, sometimes front and center, beaming, dancing her heart out and, at times, unrecognizable, in dance and in many other ways. Diamond Academy has given her maturity, confidence and room to explore her identity.
I have had a close up of the dance studio’s philosophy from a co-owner Justin Jenkins, married to the founder Tracy. Justin has painstakingly worked with me on two large scale functions helping raise awareness and donations for Breast Cancer for Nashville’s largest walk in October for the past two years. Several of the mothers of the studio’s dance team have given of time, money and sacrifice towards this as well asking nothing in return. The reward for the Cancer Walk was huge as the added attention they brought, I am certain, increased sizeable donations.
What I have learned has shown me the focus of not only Diamond Academy but of Justin, a leader in the Studio’s mission. To give you an example, when he asked his wife’s hand in marriage, of all places, he chose the end of the year dance recital, at the final act during a dance number he choreographed to Bruno Mars, I Want to Marry You. His reasoning, he and his wife care passionately about the children they teach as people, as family and are teaching these children supporting each other in life is what matters most. It is not about just what goes on while on a stage, infact that is secondary. Love truly does make the world shine, like their love for each other.
As I watch him work with children, I see smiles, embraces, happy reinforcements. These children and even the mothers socialize together, not just dance together. With all the practices, you would think they would be sick of seeing the same faces but no, they lift each other up, in all ways. When one is hurt, they feel it and encourage their teammate to take a break and heal and the hurt team mate still shows up to cheer everyone else on! They come together as one, as their coaches and instructors mandate no matter who is on that stage, no matter who wins, who loses, or what class is being taught, everyone matters and is treated as such by everyone that walks through the doors. And it is recognized they have a life outside of dance that matters very much too!
Justin Jenkins was supposed to be interviewed locally by a radio station and a TV station during Making Strides against Breast Cancer. Time slipped away but I am hopeful in the future it will happen because his story is quite interesting. Justin use to dance professionally and toured with a group Southern Movement, hip hop and is extremely talented at both dance, choreography and as an instructor. Growing up in Memphis, TN I am sure he has plenty of interesting stories too! Getting to know Justin has been an honor and a personal blessing. What he adds to these dancers’ lives is priceless. His wife and all of the teachers embrace each individual right where they are at and tap into their unlimited potential as a human being trying to bring it all out to the surface so they can have confidence in reaching inside in the future.
My granddaughter got all she wanted for Christmas this year, a cell phone! She was ecstatic when she saw it, more like in shock! We were blessed to be there this morning to see
- Kids raised in honest loving homes become confident children that tell it like it is with those they trust. As my granddaughter sends me occasional selfies, I decided, much as I hate mine, to send her one. Proud of me for actually hitting the button correctly without my son’s coaching, sitting in our car, off it goes without any photo editing. Note with no makeup either. Did I mention no make-up nor much time spent messing with my hair as a trip to Wal-Mart doesn’t necessitate doing that Follow up: “Grandma, what is wrong with you?” Next message: Grandma, are you okay? 😞😟😭 You look different?” Next day “ Grandma do you feel better today?” Next time we talk on a live phone call: “Grandma (laughing) what the heck did you do that day to yourself when you sent that picture.
- Kids inherit the sense of humor of their parents and
like to have fun with their siblings at their sibling’s expense. One day, my granddaughter is talking about
her doggie she
- She prefers pictures to long texts. I don’t get answers back to long questions or get back “What Grandma?” No way am I retyping it. I am bored rereading it, my own stuff, now that’s bad to even have to admit! She just wants short stuff anyways. She even asks me sometimes simply “Send me an emoji back”😍 Okay, my passion for writing is wasted on her. And she tires of my wordiness. But she loves pictures so pictures it is but no selfies, at least of me! She is realizing now I am getting old in those pictures. One day those tough questions will come.
- Then I get the occasionally text out of the blue at any time of day or evening “Grandma what are you doing right now?” 💭👂👀 I discovered quickly she didn’t find it that funny to say “Reading your text.” Sometimes I am doing something I don’t really want to say in a text so just I make something up! I just find these texts the best. I think to myself, wow, I am so blessed! She is bored and we’re going to have a long distance conversation and as soon as I exchange a line or two she says “bye, love you”. I am dismissed, like that with an emoji.💓💋 She is onto another text session with someone else! The life of a nine year old! Grandmas aren’t all that thrilling actually (insert sad emoji here)
- When I visited with her, it was funny to see that she found it easier to talk to me on the cell when I was in the same room than talk. Was that because it was noisy? Nope because as I looked around, everyone else had their cell phones or ipads too. We are a technology savvy family but so little time to talk live anymore its actually sad. I barely talk to my kids anymore, only texts. But, on the plus side, I must admit, living hundreds of miles away from her, these texts from my granddaughter are like the sun rising in the morning!
- A 9 year old has trained a 58 year old to carry her cell phone now to look for pictures to take. I want to show her exciting things she likes so she feels she is with me. I hate the texts that say “Grandma I miss you” but yet I love them. So I need to share my life with her. So I look for parts of my world that will excite her teach her, and things I think her parents will want her knowing. She keeps me young and I try to keep her knowing she is beyond loved, treasured no matter where I am.
Amidst a world full of turmoil and hate,
a little girl brings me into a happy state!
With a sound of a tweet,
I jump to my feet.
I grab my cell
and pound the keys like hell.
Knowing she is waiting a while,
and when she receives it, she’ll smile.
Yeah, that cell phone was a gift. ☝👊😎Was it for her or for me?
I have found Florida has taught me I am lazy! I need to get outside more in the wintertime. This was my time of the year to use the weather as an excuse to sit on my rear and do as little as possible. The excuse is gone as the forecast most days is sunny, nice breeze and 80’s. Oh hell, now I am forced to do all the things I couldn’t do in the summer heat down here!
So now I have to get serious about that kinda New Year’s Resolution I swore I would not make. See I don’t believe in those stupid resolutions, I believe in making steps towards changes, permanent ones. Unfortunately, in the case of the change I am talking about, it involves getting out of a chair and taking physical steps, repeatedly and for long lengths of time. The physical activity can’t stop there. Though I am too old to train for the Olympics I have been kidding myself saying I am too old to be I shape. B.S.!
One week before Christmas I was in the ‘body shop’, which cost a lot more than my last car repair. I was given a new pipe, or as my cardiologist called it, the newest style stent. He called it a word I didn’t understand. I always try to act smart around them so they don’t talk down to me. Works well most times but other times, they leave the room and I am wondering “What the hell did he just say” like it is their fault and not mine for pretending to understand. Can any of you relate?
Apparently, along with my new pipe in place I need to ensure my lifestyle is very healthy. After careful review, I doubt I qualify as great in some areas and I am competitive enough to still want to get the”A”. 9 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, a rare type. At that time, my lifestyle was extremely heathy. Somewhere between then and now, I fell from the healthy body stature. And now it turns my chemo drug is hard on the heart. I will be fine from here out but the best drug along with the ones I a on for life is healthy living. Oh shit, that means I better get busy! Yes, there is room for improvement and honestly, no I am not sharing my bad habits. But they would make you feel better about some of yours!
My eating habits are great and my diet is excellent. It is the other areas that need, let’s say improvement! I don’t do selfies so if I pump iron, you won’t see me snap pics of me. Gosh, I look horrible in a selfie without sweating! And why do they call it pumping iron? Does that mean I can simply lift my iron up and down a few times? And my bike is beautiful, relatively new so that is incentive to ride. I can show it off, right? Hopefully that feeling won’t wear off. Actually, I am excited to feel more in control of my body than it in control of me. I prefer to be the Control-Freak.
With a New Year, I recognize at any age, I can focus on fitness. I can quit using my age as an excuse to let myself go to hell. When you do that, too many other issues develop. Oh, I am listening to my body from here on out. I should never have ignored those chest pains for so long. Doing the body good will help everything else fall into place. It is no guarantee of not having health issues but it does make it easier to overcome them.
So for the New Year, my advice: Be good to your body! Whatever you do, do it in moderation so you don’t become obsessive and get burned out and then quit! Create the plan that suits your personality and lifestyle but don’t say it, like I have a million times and not change a thing.
Be here to celebrate next year!