Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Miss Kathleen.

Tonight I want to tell you about my friend Miss Kathleen.  We met when I was 7, not too long after my family and I moved to Sugar Land.  I had the privelege of being friends with Miss Kathleen all the way through high school, and I am not sure if I can think of another person who has marked my childhood the way that Miss Kathleen has.

I spent almost every weeknight at the dance studio Kathleen owned.  I bounced around in different classes in elementary school, sometimes taking only jazz or tap classes, but by the time I got to 5th grade, I decided I wanted to do it all.  Every class there was- no matter how crazy it would be to fit everything in my schedule.  This meant my middle school and high school years were marked by quick changes into tights and leotards after cheer practice and doing all my homework up at the studio.   This also meant my mother driving me to class every Monday through Thursday and for this I am very grateful.  Because this was where I got to learn from Miss Kathleen- and she was the very best.

For those who do not know or care about dance, all of this may seem silly or trite, but Kathleen deserves all the praise in the world.  So I want to give it to her.  Kathleen was the best choreographer I have ever known.  No one else at the studio ever came close to creating the art that she created- and all with such ease and care.  More than that though, she was my teacher.  She taught me lyrical and Jazz until I was 17.  Those were always the nights I looked forward to the most- they were favorite classes because she was the best teacher.  Kathleen knew what I was good at- leaps and turns- and knew what I had trouble with- turnout and well always, always my turnout.  You see this studio was all about technique.  She cared about the little things and made sure that we understood the fundamentals.  We never competed and we only did a recital every other year, so that we would have a year off to get back to the basics.  While everyone else was glam and glizty and doing quadruple pirouettes, we were getting down to the nitty gritty stuff and only allowed to do double pirouettes because "they are the only ones that are ever clean."  Kathleen always wanted to make us better, but she never dwelled on our imperfections.  Instead, she found what we were good at and focused on those.  I think almost every leap I would do she would say "looking good Anna."  Of course, when we would work on turnout it was a different story. But I never doubted that she believed in me- because she told me.  Out loud.  And often.

Most of all though, she loved Jesus with her whole heart.  Just as she taught us 8 counts and bar exercises, she taught us how to run after the one who made us.  She cultivated in me a love for dance, teaching me that what I was creating was important to God.  And not only was it important, it was a way to worship Him.  She was rare, Miss Kathleen.  And after 56 years, and a battle with cancer, she got to meet Jesus face to face today.  Even though tears are streaming down my face, they are tears of joy because when I think about Miss Kathleen I keep thinking of one word. Freedom.  A dance that is beautiful and uninhibited.  Just like Miss Kathleen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A New Year

Happy 2013!

I rang in the New Year with my high school gal pals at Young Life’s Crooked Creek Ranch. We danced the night away and toasted with apple cider and stayed up way too late. It was perfect. I tend to think that New Year’s Eve is overrated. Every year, part of me wants to go out and drink champagne in a sparkly dress, but what usually ends up happening is me sitting on the couch in stretchy pants watching the ball drop in every time zone, wondering how Ryan Seacrest still has a job.

When I think about a new year though, I like the idea of it. A clean slate. New beginnings. Hope and opportunity. But so far, I haven’t been able to look past the anxiousness that seems wedged in my heart in order to get to the good stuff. So I have been praying a Psalm over and over again. Because I know that God is the only one who can give divine comfort, but I tend to forget His promise most of the time.

 “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me JOY.” Psalm 94:18-19

 I want to cling to this promise. To hug it tightly and hold it close to me. Thankful that He gives me a fresh start not just every year, but all of the time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


When I was younger, I never really enjoyed reading. I read for school, and I read for those library contests in the summer, but mostly just because I got a trophy. Growing up, the rest of my family loved to read. Austin went through books at lightning speed, and my parents always read before bed. We would go on family vacations and at night, after we had gone to dinner, everyone would read, and I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, but I knew I didn’t want to read. At some point in high school, I found a love for reading on my own, which is really the only way it can be found I think. To me, reading is one of those things you cannot force on anyone. It is always their choice, and growing up and being told in school what you need to read turns a lot of people off. But now, I cannot imagine life without books. They bring me so much joy and have so much wisdom to give. They remind me of who I am or really who I can be. This winter break (don’t have a real winter break but humor me here), I cannot wait to sit by the fire and get lost in a good book. Here’s what’s on my list to read or re-read this Christmas season: Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Still by Lauren F Winner. And I. can’t. wait.

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Today in magazine writing class, my teacher talked about creativity. And for the first time in a couple of weeks, I was actually paying attention. Senioritis okay- chill. I hadn't gotten the kind of grades I had wanted on my last few assignments, and I began to think that maybe I just was not cut out to write or that I was wasting my time. Granted, one was a restaurant review, and unfortunately, no one cares about how the kid's chicken fingers taste. But today's lesson reminded me of exactly why I write, and why you probably write too.

Creativity comes in different forms for each person- for some it is music or dancing, and for others it may be painting or building. The thing about creativity is that is universal. Creativity has no limit on age, gender, religion or physical condition.

After all, God is a creator. And in some pathetic and tiny way, when I create, I know that it is important to Him. For me, it is writing. Though I do enjoy a good needlepoint.

When I actually sit and write something down, I learn and discover things about myself and the world around me. It can be ugly and messy, but if I linger there long enough, I can usually find the goodness too. Reminding me that when I wander, it might just be worthwhile. And that freedom can be found in writing the truth.

Anne Lamott says to write what you know. I think she is a pretty smart lady and despite the fact that she is about 50 years old and has dreads, I think I will take her advice.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I would like to apologize for my short (long) leave of abscence. What can I say- October, November, December, January and February were boring?

I have always loved music, and I have had impeccable taste from the beginning. My very first CD was Leanne Rimes- the 14 year old who looked 40 on her album cover. But I listened to "You Light Up My Life" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on repeat because they are just like the cover specifcally notes- inspirational. And let's face it, I was inspired.

See what I mean? On another note, please notice her left hand. We just won't go there.

Let's rewind a few years...

At the ripe age of 9, I bought my first two cassette tapes. I was with the family at Wharehouse Music- THE hot spot to buy all of the latest tunes in the thriving metropolis that is Sugar Land, Texas. Sadly, it is closed now thanks to Napster, Kazaa, Itunes, ect.

I had a gift card from my birthday so I took some time perusing the store. I ended up being drawn to an NYSNC tape. My best friend Autumn talked about them and told me they were all the rage. I had to have it. "Space Cowboy" really is a work of art. JC Chasez quickly became my favorite. I would read fun facts about him-for instance, he hates shots. Fascinating. I was always pretty pleased with myself that Justin Timberlake was not my favorite because he was everyone's favorite. Some of my friends liked Lance Bass, but thankfully I didn't jump on that train. NSYNC was always and will always be better than the Backstreet Boys. There was no competition- NSYNC danced while they sang and the Backstreet Boys sat on stools. The reasoning is simple. Get off your rear ends and move around BB.

JC is in the middle.

The next 15 minutes, I walked around the store deciding how to spend the rest of my money. Deana Carter caught my eye. She was sitting in a field of flowers and looked pretty pleased with herself. I popped the headphones in and listened to her stuff. This girl was GOOD. I could not wait to listen to Deana in my lime green boom box.

At school the next day, I casually mentioned my new cassette tapes to my friends. One of my classmates, Marshall, said his 15 year old sister loves Deana Carter (score). My favorite song was Strawberry Wine. I liked it because it talked about strawberries and about 17 year olds. So sophisticated.

In middle school, I came to find out my childhood had been a lie. My precious, innocent Deana Carter was not so innocent. Her Strawberry Wine song was about losing her virginity. I was appalled that this blonde, wildflower loving woman would sing about such things.

I ended up forgiving her by high school.

I miss Wharehouse Music, Deana and JC...not really LeAnn though.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Happy October!

I hope you are wearing scarfs and boots and drinking hot chai tea lattes. Even though it may only be 60 degrees, live a little and throw on a cardy. Usually not a big fan of colder weather myself, I was pretty much begging for it this year. When I visited my friend Mollie in Portland, Oregon before the semester started, I kept telling her how lucky she was to live in a place where she could breathe. Living in Texas all summer was like a never ending sauna that wasn't there just after you worked out, but all of the time, even when the stars were out. When I got to Portland, I let out a long breath that I think I had been holding for two months.

When I think of fall, I think of Boston. It is the only place I have traveled to in the fall where the leaves actually change colors and there are fruit stands and regattas. See proof of leaves here:

Fall at Baylor is one of my favorite times. The football, the homecoming, the weather, the pumpkins, the thanksgiving, the pigskin. And even though I always expect the seasons to change, it is still refreshing when they actually do because it reminds me that I can change too. That God can change me. He can help me to trust more and stress less and to stop talking so much and just listen sometimes.

So fa-la-la-la-la. Happy that fall has come because it has brought along a lot of goodness with it- like this new Coldplay video. Thankful for the little "paradise" that is Baylor.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



"That's what friendship looks like to me. Friendship is acting out God's love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other's lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God's love for them. Friendship is an oppurtunity to act on God's behalf in the lives of the people that we're close to, reminding each other who God is. When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life. We get to remind one another about the bigger, more beautiful picture that we can't always see from where we are."

-Shauna Niequist