Thanksgiving and the Passage of Time Where Family and Community Meet

photo of cornucopia filled with food

In this blog post, I will take you on a vivid journey to a time past. It’s about one of our most important holidays where everyone gathers together to celebrate. It’s about the warmth of family and community.

This story lives deep within my veins. At one time, people valued one another more than now. We had a sense of belonging. There was less depression. More happiness, less tribalism, and more world acceptance and unity. It’s very important for me to share this with you, because everything has changed. These changes have had a strong and far-reaching effect on everyone’s lives and the world we live in today.

As a person with cerebral palsy and dyslexia, family and friends meant more to me than to a lot of people. We valued them and their diversity. During this season, and having few friends, this meant opening our innermost selves to others. We looked forward to having people over to our house. There was an anticipation in the air. Getting dressed up, visiting with our loved ones, playing and talking with my cousins, and helping make family recipes with my Mama Katie. It was wonderful, and I still remember smelling the warm scent of her cooking.

I would breathe in the delicious aromas of her kugel, roasted chicken with garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram and salt. Her delectable sweet potatoes with cinnamon and cloves and melted butter drizzled throughout. And Mama’s homemade cranberry sauce, and a wonderful salad to feast on, along with warm feelings and memories.

This gaiety was emotionally satisfying. I felt a belonging. A warm uplifting, which meant even more to me, especially being a shy, young girl, with a full length metal leg brace and a paralyzed left arm, trying hard to fit in. My life was hard at that age. I had a lot of challenges and I wanted to make myself the best person I could become.

Slowly, though, over the past seven decades, the richness of our distinct heritages as a collective world has diminished. We have a powerful pull toward our own. We stay to ourselves more. And we don’t value the gifts we possess that make us unique. We are afraid to make meaningful friendships. Thus, there is an underlying unspoken loyalty.

We give thanks, yet we don’t. We find unattractive features in a person’s character, rather than their goodness. It is saddening that we collectively have lost our ability to sincerely give thanks for one another; losing our way and our heritage of family and loved ones. We have forgotten how to be kind and caring. That’s what this time of year is all about.

We seem to have lost our skills and the means to celebrate our diversity. We see these things differently than generations past. We have lost our methods to broaden and expand our outlook, to make larger our points of view see something in a different frame of mind, or someone in a whole new light. It is very difficult to bring someone who is different into our life, or to welcome others into our circle and incorporate the good things about them. We have forgotten how to take in the goodness others possess. We have forgotten the experiences of our past and how to change for the better, and how to open our minds and hearts. Sadly, we have forgotten how to welcome and embrace others into our lives and share joyfully.

In the past, people valued their connections more. They took solace in having other people around. They wanted that connection. They thrived on it. They wanted that human bond. It sustained them. Now, it doesn’t mean as much, or anything at all. It means nothing. It hardly exists.

In closing, what can every one of us do to bring kindness, compassion, joy, acceptance, and a readiness to consider something without prejudice, and so to change our lives and others? It only takes a smile or one kind word. Can we find it within our best selves to make that effort? If we can open our hearts just a little, think of the good that will happen because of our actions and deeds? Think of how its effects can snowball in positive ways. This process will change your life for the good forever. All you have to do is just one thing. One thing to work towards a positive change in this world. Think about how you can find it within. Think of how you will feel. Your heart will find peace. Balance and comfort will fill your life. It’s so simple… And beneficial. It will bring the state of unity and join us as a whole. Will you give it some thought?

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse: Acknowledgements

UK road sign showing road is open to everyone

Today, the roads through life are much more open than when I grew up. But that does not mean living with disabilities is easy. Barriers remain. Prejudices remain. Please stand with me and stay with me. I promise you a new blog post every week. Every week, a new word of inspiration so you can make your life better. I am with you all the way. And let me hear from you. Please reply.

[Image by Rgry, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Acknowledgements

To all those Pegasi who took me under their wings and guided me to become the person I am today. Without you, this journey would never have happened.

I want to pay homage to the following people:

To Chris. My husband has given me security and love in so many ways. His love and support allowed me to finish this book, to travel and see the world like I never could before, and—the ability to keep giving to others.

To my mother, Katie. I couldn’t ask for a better mother, teacher, and advocate. She taught me to be who I am today. I was blessed with a mother who went to ANY lengths to make me the person I am today. My heart swells with everything she gave and taught me. Cheers Mama!

To Al Gilbert, my loving dance teacher, who gave from his heart unconditionally, never asking for anything in return but my smile.

To Robert Baker, for his mentorship during my college years, and for taking me under his wing, giving me the knowledge for which I desperately thirsted.

To Sean P. Dineen, for his brilliance, his devotion, and especially for his belief in me.

To Ms. Leslie Fanelli, who shared many hours of her time improving my writing to realize my vision of this story!

To Peyton Stafford, who came into my life as an answer to my prayer. His unreserved friendship has taken me to new heights, enabling me to soar beyond the celestial stars. His unconditional benevolence and kind-heartedness have made my voice heard, changing the landscape of society and how people with cerebral palsy are viewed. I will never forget this. He has made my dream of over 30 years take shape. He has changed my life. I will forever be grateful to him for his unwavering support, regard, and truthfulness. I will forever be thankful for his staunch grace and guidance. And I will forever be thankful for his comradeship and commitment to my project. His expertise and proficiency made it happen. His unselfish acts of loving kindness have made my book a reality.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse: Afterword

Image of Pegasus atop the Poznań Opera House

This is a short letter to you, dear reader. I hope it inspires you to pursue your dreams and make them come true. Stay tuned for next week, when I thank some of the real life people who played the part of Pegasus in my life.

[Image by user:Radomil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Afterword

Dear Reader,

I hope you have enjoyed reading The Healing Horse as much as I have enjoyed creating it. Although the work looks at the life of a young girl, the theme is universal.

People with disabilities still go through and continue to overcome the challenges Karen faces in this work. This book is a heartfelt story and essentially true.

The guidance and mentoring shown by Pegasus really took form in the shape of many extraordinary human beings who crossed my path.

I hope this message benefits all who read this book.

This book has been a lifelong journey and has taken over thirty years to come to pass.

If you have questions, comments, or would like to discuss this work in your book club, please contact me at:

karenlynn@whispersofhope.org or contact me through this website

In hope of a better future,

Karen

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch 42: Concluding Reflections

Photo of a monarch butterfly

In these concluding reflections, my younger self recalls the generous, skillful mentors who nourished her as she grew from a little girl with a brace on one leg and a learning disability into a young woman who not only danced but taught dance. Throughout my life, I have lived with a sense of gratitude and generosity. These words show some of that. 

[Image of monarch butterfly © Derek Ramsey / derekramsey.com used with permission]

Concluding Reflections

As an intelligent young adult, Karen reviewed her life.

Most of the so-called experts, who were supposed to fix my life, did not look beyond the surface of who I was or who I could be, but four superlative human beings understood what I needed to thrive and to become a productive person in society. They were not detached. They were not inhumane, and they had empathic souls. To them, I was a person and not an experimental subject to be carved up into pieces, like an offering on an altar to medical profitability and pseudo-science.

Karen admired her mentors and trusted them. She treasured and adored them. They treated her with respect. Holding them dear to her heart was easy. They knew how to best treat all their students, regardless of age or disability. They never talked down to anyone. Their captivating ways were evidenced by their interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. Like a wave in Santa Monica Bay, they could be firm or gentle. They loved people and taught their specialized techniques with generosity.

Karen also understood that the motives of her blessed three differed from establishment doctors, counselors, and bioethicists. This threesome was not interested in finding cures. Cures were a waste of time. Karen didn’t need to be fixed. She needed to be celebrated.

She needed patience, kindness, and people who believed in her and gave her opportunities not only to excel but also to navigate the rough spots.

As time passed, Kitten had become ever more disciplined, and she wanted to continue this legacy of teaching.

She understood life far better than the average eighteen-year-old. Her relationships with Mama, Joshua, Pegasus, Rocky, and Tammy had sharpened her awareness of the world. The dance techniques she learned from Gilberto had made her aware of the world’s poetic beauty. Teaching disability riding classes had raised her compassion. And learning math from Miss Natalie had shown her she could do anything she set her mind to, even the impossible things like math.

During her younger years, Karen was impressionable, but in a good way. She had an instinct for what was right and wrong, and she let it guide her. She drew inspiration from Miss Natalie, who not only taught her math but created new ways for her to learn it. From Joshua, she drew inspiration not only from how he had helped her onto Pegasus’ back at the Santa Monica Pier Hippodrome, but from how he opened his own disability riding ranch and how he taught her to teach. And from Gilberto, beautiful, sweet Gilberto, she drew inspiration from everything she did. He taught with beauty, love, and compassion.

The paralyzed part of Karen’s brain could not transmit its commands to her affected left side. She had to get another part of her brain to perform to make everything function together. Sometimes this was easy, but most of the time it took painstaking effort. It was toilsome to use a different part of her brain in order to execute the right technique. She tried to make her paralyzed muscles work just like her non-paralyzed muscles. Control and utter concentration were paramount. Whenever Karen tried to point or flex her foot, it took considerable effort. She did not “just think it,” and feel the movement performed as an able-bodied person would. To get her left leg to work like her right leg was all-encompassing and all-consuming. To get her left side to work took all her time and attention. She executed and engaged the proper momentum in the timing and rhythm of the dance music and the riding techniques. She applied the same determination to the fundamental math skills. Everything required a dauntless approach. She let nothing stop her or get in her way. Such endurance and stamina shaped her life. She was unwavering. In dance, riding and math, every accomplishment was a feat attained via grueling, sometimes painful efforts and abiding willpower; these were the touchstones of her promising future.

Each time any of her teachers had a cancellation from a private student, he or she would call Mama and Karen. When Karen was younger, Mama would drive her to and from the lesson, but now Karen could drive herself.

Gilberto had given her six long-playing records of his lessons with which to practice at home. This recorded music helped her perfect her sense of timing and rhythm. Joshua had given her exercises to keep her back straight while riding; In addition, he taught her to stand on a horse’s back! Natalie had given her books that broke down the arcane concepts of math into practical use.

The days and years passed, as Karen attended her dance lessons, her riding lessons, and her math tutorials several times each week. As she grew, she saw that if there were to be any change for the better in her life or in the world, then she had to exemplify that change.

She was now eighteen years old. There was not one session that this young woman missed. She made getting instruction all-important. With every ounce of her strength, she worked fearlessly, and as a direct result, her efforts paid off, particularly at her dance lessons. Some of the dance steps she mastered easily, while others were more difficult for her. She put forth her complete concentration on the difficult dance steps that required arduous repetition. Kitten had always possessed the patience to master any technique. She did whatever she needed to do. She watched herself as she became an accomplished dancer.

Every day after school, she not only did her homework and remedial studies but also her dance steps and her balancing routines. In dance class, Karen worked twice as hard as the other teens. She had to in order to keep up with them. She couldn’t be treated differently. Besides, she did not want that for herself. She wanted to carry out the steps accurately. How could she stay in class if she didn’t? She didn’t want special treatment, and she did not want to be looked down upon. That’s why she had to keep up with them. Her reasonable accommodation was dance time with Gilberto, one on one, and free of financial charge from this remarkable dance teacher.

In dance, she endeavored to master the techniques with every bit of her might. She decided she was going to move more gracefully and effortlessly than any able-bodied person she admired. One day, she foresaw, it would happen when she least expected it. It would take her by surprise. It might happen while listening to a summer symphony. It might happen during recreation. It might even happen while practicing or in a recital. She was not yet there, but the time would soon come. As a result, in all her endeavors, she did whatever her mentors suggested. Because they felt Karen’s unquenchable thirst, they gave her more of their time than the usual child got. This was not special treatment, in that their approach was markedly different. It was their honest response to her wholehearted striving.

She exhibited similar dedication in her riding and in math. These new arenas of learning were difficult for her, because of the brain damage that had occurred when she was an infant. She had to work harder and concentrate longer than most people to “get it,” in whatever area she was focusing. She knew these efforts were vital to her existence; therefore, she was a willing participant in this part of her young life; for she would get nowhere in life if she failed.

As an adult, she tutored youngsters with learning difficulties. She not only danced in recitals, but she also became a dance instructor for people with disabilities. She also continued teaching riding at Joshua’s Disability Riding Ranch, with Pegasus as her partner. For years to come, she, Pegasus and Joshua taught riding skills to hundreds of people—with and without disabilities.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

 

The Healing Horse, Ch. 41, Scene 3: Reflecting with Pegasus

Photo of golden statue of Pegasus atop a famous hstorical building in France

I love Pegasus. Don’t you? Symbol of a benevolent power who can lift us up, uplift us, on his broad back and with his powerful wings, someone who carries us aloft into the sky, where we can realize our dreams. In this final dramatic scene of The Healing Horse, he imparts more wisdom as Kitten, my younger self, launches her adult career. 

But please stay tuned. There is more excitement in the drama of my life to be revealed a week from today!

[Image credit: Moonik, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 3: Reflecting with Pegasus

The next afternoon, during a break from teaching, Karen sat on a stump outside the red barn and relished the warm summer sun. Pegasus stood beside her, watching the road for the next carload of children coming for dance lessons.

“Kitten, looking back over the years, I am amazed the time has gone by so fast. You were a little girl when we met, and now you are a dance mentor, like Gilberto was to you.”

“You’re right, boy. It has not been easy having disabilities, but I have learned not to take things for granted. I have learned to give an honest effort in every situation. I have pledged myself to others unconditionally. I am forever grateful.”

“And I am grateful to be part of your life.”

“In my journey, which all started with you, my wondrous Pegasus and your exquisite broken hoof, I have been gifted with improved self-esteem, respect of self and others, and a positive appreciation for a diverse community. I have come to uphold the beauty of the disabled form. I have been fortunate enough to pass on these gifts to others. I am proud of my disabilities. I am a viable part of humankind. I don’t have to be a famous inspiration, although the world has beheld many outstanding folks with disabilities. Simply being an asset to my community is plenty—that is how human history becomes great.”

“You are so right, Kitten. There is nothing wrong and everything right with having a physical limitation or an outer shell that looks different from the so-called normal person. What is normal, anyway? Each person is unique, so unique that each of us is extraordinary. You are a contributing part of the whole.”

“Thank you, my friend. Initially, I found my strength through the gentle, encouraging attitudes of Mama, Joshua, Tammy, Gilberto, Miss Natalie, and you. Their kind and caring words and deeds strengthened and grounded my soul. And your unwavering support helped me become more constructive, more confident, and more optimistic in a world that sorely needs optimism. I learned that attitude was just about everything in life. It was how I looked at situations, how I thought, and how I reacted to the world around me that mattered most. As long as I put forth a steadfast, enthusiastic effort, I can and will face anything.”

These thoughts illuminated Karen’s heart and revealed the great intangibles that matter most in life: Understanding, Compassion, and Intuitive Action. She knew she was not alone, and that she would assist everyone who came her way and needed her help.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 41, Scene 2: The Speech

Painting of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in 1886

For Karen, graduating high school meant not only leaving her childhood behind, but beginning her career as a teacher and therapist. In dance and fitness, she would eventually revolutionize services to people with disabilities and inspire a new generation of disability activists. 

Next week, you will read her reflections on this step.

[Painting of the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty by Edward Moran, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 2: The Speech

Karen stood tall and walked from her line of classmates to the podium. She took a deep breath and looked out over the audience, the parents of her friends, and her own mother, staring up at her, mouth open, tears streaming down her face. Karen winked and spoke.

“Dear Mr. Sanchez, family, friends, and graduating class of 1968, it is with great honor that I stand here before you today. First, I want to thank all of you, but especially my mother, my dance mentor Gilberto, my teachers, and my friends. Without you, I would not be here. I would not be graduating at all. As your valedictorian, I hope your future will be bright. I hope it will light up your way, and I hope you will be self-directed in everything you wish to achieve. Like Emma Lazarus, the Jewish-American poet who saw the statue of Liberty as a beacon to the world, I hand you the torch of freedom.”

Karen looked into her heart and knew her memory would not fail her as she recited the one poem that meant the most to her.

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Karen took another deep breath. She had remembered it all. She exhaled. The auditorium was completely silent. All eyes were on her. Tammy and her friends were in tears.

She leaned toward the microphone and spoke in a quiet, intimate voice. “Let us go out from here to light each golden door. Let us light up the world and show others that we, too, can conquer.”

The auditorium exploded with applause as she bowed and returned to her place in line.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 41, Scene 1: Commencement and a Surprise

Black & White drawing of a mortar board hate

Chapter 41 tells the story of Karen’s graduation from high school. It starts with a big surprise. Next week, you can read about how she deals with it.

[Image by AlexBuck328, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 1: Commencement and a Surprise

Time passed, and Karen spent a prodigious amount of time getting her body, as well as her mind, in shape. Some days, it seemed as if she barely had time to breathe, but her painstaking efforts proved well worth it.

She gained an athlete’s stamina and outlook by facing problems and challenges rather than running away from them. She learned the value of mentors, and to reciprocate the mentoring and friendship that had been freely given to her, Karen vowed to give back to the world around her unconditionally. This honorable commitment continued throughout her life.

At last, her high school graduate day came, June 14th, 1968. In the wings of the school stage, she waited in the tense, hot atmosphere with her classmates. Under her black academic gown, the beautiful white cotton floral dress her Mama had sewn clung to her body, as it should, beautiful, glamorous. She had accomplished something she never thought she could, graduating high school. As if she were floating, as if she were a movie star on a movie screen, she floated, entering the adult world she had worked so hard to attain.

She wiped beads of sweat from her upper lip. In ten minutes, she and here classmates would walk, roll, or be pushed across the high school stage to receive their diplomas. This would be a day for her to remember. Her only regret was that she could not push Tammy’s wheelchair. Mrs. Beaumont had reserved that triumph for herself.

She thought, Mama might not have a good seat. What if Mama could not see her?

Karen stepped out of line and peeked through the curtains. Mama saw her and waved from her seat, front row and center.

Someone tapped her on the shoulder. Was she in trouble for leaving the line of graduating seniors? She stood up straight and turned to look into the eyes of Mr. Sanchez, the school principal. Her eyes widened in appehension, but he smiled.

“Karen, the student who was supposed to be valedictorian and give a speech, is sick. Can you step in? You’re naturally articulate. I know you’ll find something wise and kind to say.”

“Thank you, Mr. Sanchez, but don’t you think Tammy is more qualified?”

“She would be good, but you are one of the few people who can understand her speech. Just say anything that comes into your head. Thank your teachers and your mother. Talk for two or three minutes, and you’re done.”

Karen took a deep breath and looked into her heart. She knew exactly what she would say.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 6: Setting Up Her Studio

This is the last scene before we reach the final chapter of The Healing Horse. Young Karen now has students and a studio of her own, and she hasn’t even graduated from high school! Enjoy! (And that is Al Gilbert’s voice in the video!)

Scene 6: Setting Up Her Studio

Morning came, and the daytime celestial canopy shone through Karen’s bedroom window, as if to say, “Today’s the day!”

She awoke and donned her grape-purple leotard, violet tights, and lavender leg warmers. They matched the colors of Pegasus’ saddle. These colors held such fond memories, and she wanted her dance attire to have significance on this special morning.

She ate a bowl of hot oatmeal with butter, cinnamon, and raisins in the kitchen and then sealed some fruit and cheese in plastic wrap and popped them into a brown bag for later. The wall clock said Rocky was due to arrive. Karen picked up her tape player and the brown bag.

Outside, the friendly sun floated above puffy white clouds. She basked in the radiant light as she waited. After a few minutes, Rocky’s truck turned off the road and stopped in her driveway. The door opened, and he hopped down with a big grin on his face. Karen grinned back and pointed through the front door. They were both too happy to speak.

Rocky nodded and hurried in. In a minute, he came back, carrying the barre in one hand. He wrapped it in a blanket from the back of his truck and placed on the truck bed. Off they drove to her new hangout.

At the barn, Pegasus and the white-haired Mr. Hellweg waited with radiant smiles, as authentic as Rocky’s.

Karen, Rocky, and Mr. Hellweg went inside, and Pegasus put with his head through the Dutch door to watch the two men bolt the ballet bar to one wall.

With it in place, Kitten walked around the welcoming studio. It was her very own sanctuary, and it symbolized her new attitude.

“Have a great day dancing, and enjoy your new studio,” Mr. Hellweg said.

He and Rocky left Karen and Pegasus to practice her dance routines.

Karen felt waves of contentment and peace pass through her body. She walked over to a wooden table against the eastern wall, set down her cassette player, and selected the music she was going to use.

“Come on, Pegasus. We gotta practice.”

The music began. Recorded over the tunes, her dance teacher’s voice boomed from the speakers.

“Shuffle, front, side and back. Right leg… ready, begin! Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, front. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, side. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, back. Ball change, turn.”

Karen’s body was well trained. The tap warm-up came with ease now.

Pegasus smiled. “I don’t think I could do that.”

Karen finished her bar exercises, walked out to the middle of the floor, and began doing step shuffle ball changes to help her improve her balance.

The afternoon flew by, and Pegasus thrilled with her. She was no longer a caterpillar, but had become a beautiful butterfly taking flight. As she danced, her wings spread wide with grace.

Pegasus and Karen returned to the red barn every day they could. They talked and laughed while Kitten practiced, practiced, and practiced, when she was not teaching or developing her chair aerobics method.

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 5: Sharing with Pegasus

Photo of white clouds in blue sky

As soon as Mr. Hellweg gives young Karen the okay to use his barn as a dance studio, she runs to share her joy with her mentor. Something big is happening.

[Image by James St. John, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 5: Sharing with Pegasus

Karen was on cloud nine. She ran out through the French doors and all the way to Pegasus’ barn, gliding through the air.

As she neared his stable, she waved. “Pegasus, Pegasus, where are you, boy?”

He walked around the corner. “Here I am, Kitten. What’s going on? You sound excited!”

Karen exhaled and tried to harness her joy so she could explain her good fortune. “That’s because I am. It happened on my way here. A big, empty barn. I never noticed it before. It was like it appeared just for me. I could barely believe my eyes.”

“Tell me about it.”

“It’s big enough to practice my dance routines and teach. Once my ballet barre is up, I can practice my stretches and shuffles and ball changes. Could you meet me there tomorrow morning at eight? You can critique my workout.”

She smiled with her childlike glow.

“I’d love to. Now let me give you a ride home.”

“Thanks! I need to call Rocky and ask him to help.”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.

The Healing Horse, Ch. 40, Scene 4: Finding the Barn

Photo of red barn

Isn’t it wonderful when the universe gives you exactly what you need at precisely the right time? Young Karen has learned to trust the universe, and once again, it helps her in her growth into a dance instructor and disabilities advocate.

[Image by Daniel Case, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Scene 4: Finding the Barn

On Monday, while walking to Pegasus’ stable after school, she noticed a nice-sized, empty red barn, just around the corner from an exclusive shopping district.

The barn was big enough for her to do her steps, as well as teach. Peeking in through the windows, she saw it had hardwood floors and mirrors that wrapped around the entire main room. It couldn’t get any better. She wondered if it had once been a dance studio, and why she had not noticed it before. But she would not question why. It looked like it had been made to order for her.

This would be just right for me! I hope I can find the owner. What a wonderful place to practice! Pegasus could even put his head through the Dutch door and watch me dance.

It would be a heavenly site to practice and teach, in a dream-come-true location, midway between her house and the stables. It could be her own special hangout. So, with no uncertainty, she walked to the main office of the stable that the barn was part of.

The office was around the corner, with some boutiques. Small shops, each one unique and alluring, filled three blocks of the street. They sold everything from candy to hand-carved artisan furniture to fine art and couture clothing.

The office had welcoming French doors opening from the sidewalk. Kitten peered through the glass at a blonde woman sitting behind a stately, cherry wood Boulevard desk. In her thirties, she had a chic Joan of Arc haircut sculptured around her angular chin. She wore a stylish gray jacket and gray maxi-skirt with a black turtleneck sweater. She looked up and smiled.

Karen thought to herself, Maybe I should go inside. Maybe I should ask this lady a few questions. Maybe she’ll know something. It couldn’t hurt. The worst she could say is she didn’t know! Right? Of course! Why should I be afraid to ask? I give myself permission to be brave. I won’t be afraid! My intention is now clear. I’ll just be myself and see what transpires. It will be a fresh experience in dealing with others. I’ve been through way harder things. This will be a breeze.

She held her left arm in her strong right hand and embraced herself as she nourished her inner self.

She remembered the wonderful feeling of liberation she had felt on the bridge Saturday night, but she knew she had to accept her fear and work with it in order to manifest everything she felt within herself.

Kitten also recognized that it was her fear trying to protect her. Thus, she had to walk thru her fear and become fearless. She had to demonstrate and prove this to herself and the universe. She had to send love to her fear and thank that feeling in order to walk through it and not freeze where she was.

When she asked about the barn, the lady at the desk replied, “Sure, I can help you! You want to talk to Mr. Hellweg.”

She pointed toward a small, older gentleman with short white hair, who was reading the New York Times.

Kitten smiled. “Thanks a lot,” she said, as she marched over to the man.

“Pardon me, Mr. Hellweg. Could I talk with you? The receptionist gave me your name. I saw an empty red barn down the road, close to the stables. I was wondering if I could use it every day to practice my dance routines. These exercises are helping me help others like myself, who have cerebral palsy. I’d like to get as strong as I’m able so I can give of myself and be an example! I give free dance lessons to handicapped children, and I am developing a kind of aerobics for people who have difficulty standing or using their limbs. I call it chair aerobics. I would like to use the barn for that, too.”

Mr. Hellweg grinned. He didn’t have to think twice. He saw the beauty of her goodness-giving light.

“That’s my place! I’m a retired stuntman, and I used to teach Judo classes and indoor stunts there, but I don’t use it anymore. It would be wonderful to have it in use again.”

With a contented smile, he took a deep, delighted breath, and added, “I’d love for you to work out there. It would be a joy to see you dancing and exercising there. I’m glad to be of any help to you, darling!”

Karen said, “I also have a big, beautiful ballet bar that my dance teacher gave me years ago. Would you mind if I brought it down to the barn?”

“Not at all. I’ll even help you attach it!”

Karen was so thrilled she was ready to jump up in the air and click her heels. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you Mr. Hellweg. This is so generous of you! You don’t know how happy you’ve made me! Thank you so very much!”

Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.