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Chapter 02 - Dancing Beyond Cancer - A Life Unchained



A Life Unchained

I hold joy knowing that Danielle will live on through all the lessons that she taught and the example that she lived by. It is who she was that I find so incredible and that is who I want to introduce. It is more than just something she did; it is who she was that made her special. Everything exuded with such a level of grace and elegance. Her spirit was wild, and her life was beyond remarkable. Danielle was a lover of Dance as much as a lover of teaching the art form she loved so much. The lives she affected and changed will forever remember her and the legacy she instilled.

It is this legacy that has left so many who truly knew her with a huge hole in their hearts. I’m sad the world was robbed of such an incredible individual. Many lost a true friend, mentor, and mother. Her ability to be an authentic friend cannot be replaced. I too fall short of her greatness. Danielle was truly the best friend I have ever had, and she inspired me to be a better friend, a role model, and a better lover of all people.

She was truly a pure soul, a soul, which, through my experience, often becomes a target for people of unsavory character. I can’t explain the male desire for a pure woman and the ability to tarnish that purity with basic desires. It didn’t help that her physical beauty and dancer physique was something that rivaled the world’s most beautiful models and actresses. She was a true beauty inside and out. She was something rare, and for many, a prize of conquest. Some even viewed her as the perfect art piece for their lives, nothing more than another thing to add to their treasures.

Danielle told me many stories of very arrogant men whose behavior was outrageous. The behavior that comes from men who don’t get the concept of “No.” Many times, I have witnessed as men pursue women in ways to win them over regardless of what the woman wants. Most times, these are men who are obsessed with stunningly beautiful women. Danielle is one of those stunningly beautiful women and a perfect target for all those men who are constantly on the hunt.

Unfortunately, many women have expressed being overwhelmed by men and their displays of affection. Often women suffer from the extreme advances of men after repeatedly declining. The men see it as an obstacle to be overcome, simply needing the right coaxing. I’ve ended close personal friendships with guys who won’t respect the boundaries of women. Many people seem to test boundaries; it must be in our nature, but some men think boundaries are challenges to be overcome. This pure intention to find ways around boundaries can reach truly dangerous proportions.

It blew my mind to hear even more horrific stories from Danielle. To this day, the one that still causes me to cringe is about one of her past serious relationships. From my understanding, this relationship lasted over seven years, having many ups and downs. She even helped to raise his two sons over that time. To the outside world, their relationship was perfect. It was behind closed doors that the extreme levels of disrespect occurred. While his general behavior and sociopathic tendencies aren’t worth mentioning, there is one situation that bears mentioning.

Since Danielle was a Dance teacher, it meant that each dance semester would have a huge recital to display all the progress made by each student. Three times a year would be a time of high-stress overload for over a week leading up to each event. Danielle would put all her creativity, love, and care into each event. It would be special for everyone involved. I even lived with someone who worked for her during that time as a personal assistant and chef. He had nothing but the best things to say about working for her.

It was during one of these recitals that there must have been some tension in her relationship at home. A relationship she had nurtured for over seven years. She practically considered herself a mother to the children as was in her nature. Nothing could have prepared her for what was about to happen.

Danielle had gone in for the day to prepare for the recital. She would rent the local amphitheater for thousands of spectators to sit in attendance. There was a lot to do on the day of a show; it was the reason she would often hire help. She spent the day setting up and she expressed that everything was going perfectly as the show started. It was shortly into the show she realized that she left something at home. Thankfully she lived five minutes down the road and could quickly run home. During an intermission she ran home, to find one of the most horrible scenes she could have imagined.

Her lover, including his children, had packed up everything in the house that was theirs and left in one afternoon. Without warning and notice, they disappeared out of her life. They left only a note. I would never learn what was said in the note, but it honestly doesn’t matter. It devastated her to have something like that occur on a day that was so important to her. Clearly, that man didn’t understand just how important her recitals were to her and her students. It is this complete lack of compassion for others that pushes my buttons. People can’t just do what they want at the expense of others. The behavior is unacceptable, and I believe most would agree.

Both Danielle and I had been victims to male predatory behavior throughout our lives. I would have to say that in my case the advances, while sometimes flattering, are completely unwelcome. I respect people, but I have had my fair share of men who don’t respect the boundaries I will put up. It is this lack of concern for boundaries, that often causes much trauma in this country and all over our planet. Danielle understood this from the lifetime of teaching beautiful young women. Much of her experience like my own has come from listening to others and applying what I have learned in my own life. Danielle even taught me more about my traumas, some of which were quite revolutionary.

Danielle shared with me an experience of being violated by a massage therapist of the opposite sex. She had fallen asleep at the time and awoke to her sexual arousal, and it quickly turned more sinister as she became aware of what was occurring. Someone in a position of power had stepped across an unspoken boundary and violated her personal space. She awoke to his fingers inside of her, creating pleasure she never intended to have. It was a confusing experience to have the enjoyment be jaded by such a lewd act. It hurt me to hear this, but it also made me recount a similar experience I went through.

I too, had felt the power that someone had used over me to make me feel a certain way, that I didn’t choose to feel. Through sensual touch, predators convince the victim that it is okay, that something that feels so good isn’t wrong. It is abuse, it is wrong on every level, and it is occurring every day all around us. If only we would open our eyes to the behavior, then we might start addressing the problems.

My own experience was quite similar. I had needed some message work on my legs as I had slightly injured myself playing soccer the previous week. I don’t think I ever expected a simple leg massage from a qualified and licensed massage therapist would be anything other than that. It didn’t go at all the way I expected as first he lightly grazed across my private parts. I was immediately alerted while also uncomfortable about the experience. I didn’t stop the message, thinking it truly might have been accidental. I knew better the second time it happened as it also included a far more sensual graze. I was appalled. I immediately jumped up and expressed my disapproval. I never expected the response I received.

This man decided to point out the fact that I had become aroused by his touches. He used my arousal to turn the scenario back on myself, telling me that I should explore my desires. Honestly, I couldn’t explain how a man could have brought me to an excited state. I felt so violated not just physically but mentally too. I had never felt feelings towards men, ever. I had plenty of friends who even wished I was curious, but it never interested me. This violation hadn’t inspired me to explore the experience; all I wanted to do was leave. I left as soon as I gathered my things.

I don’t have the scars that many live with because I only experienced it once. I never had to endure extended abuse from family members or other predators. I am grateful for that, but I also didn’t understand how differently she and I dealt with similar trauma. I was able to let it go rather easily because I found a silver lining in the experience.

If a man could make me feel that uncomfortable, then I probably didn’t need to question my sexual orientation. I also didn’t have to act like a man to be a man. I can embrace my more feminine attributes versus pretend they don’t exist. Some men act manly to prove to others that they are straight. I wear more pink without worrying about what others might think. I grew in my experience, while Danielle faced far more psychological issues.

I hadn’t realized just how violated I was until I talked to Danielle. It made me understand further the traumas she had endured her entire life. Traumas that she shared included the traumas she shared with no one. It would have been impossible for her to share all the traumas from her life with me; it wasn’t our primary focus and won’t be mine either. Our focus was on the joy we could find in every experience we were given, not to muddle in the sadness of the past.

Danielle told me about the two violent physical rapes that also happened to her. These were far more traumatic to her than the massage therapist. They aren’t stories I can share much detail about since Danielle only shared bits and pieces. Suffice to say she was able to help capture and imprison one, and never told me about what happened to the other. Considering her top-secret past, I knew better than to ask questions she wouldn’t answer. She always seemed to have a desire to make things right. The local Sedona Police Department attests to many arrests as a result of her efforts.

Danielle lived a traumatic life, despite the grace and beauty she actively cultivated in her life. Danielle had a difficult life as a woman, including over thirteen miscarriages throughout her lifetime. Despite all her efforts to be a mother, she could never make it very far through the pregnancy. Thankfully she was never short of children in her life. Despite her shortcomings, she lived in an abundance of glorious children. Dancing and her students helped keep her sanity through all the trauma.

It broke my heart to hear about the miscarriages. It was something that I never felt Danielle had fully healed from, especially one instance that stood above all the others. Many years before I met her, she was engaged, and she was planning on starting a family. Her fiancé traveled for work, and sadly on his trip suffered an accident that claimed his life. She found out shortly after that occurred that she was pregnant with his child. I couldn’t imagine what she went through during that time even after she explained it to me. To end the story with losing the baby too, Danielle had to be mentally devastated.

Left alone, with insurmountable losses, Danielle told me of the struggles she faced. The sadness and depression were overwhelming. To cope, she slept on the red rocks under the stars. Being under the night sky brought her a sense of peace. Danielle told me how much she isolated herself from people during that period of her life. Often, she hid her traumas from her students. I can’t completely explain why she did this, but I feel it was to protect them. Only her senior students shared in the stories that were inappropriate for children.

I only pray that people aren’t left to fend for themselves in those situations. I found that Danielle spent much time retreating from the world after the biggest traumas. This understanding helped me realize more and more that it takes time to come to terms with big traumas. Danielle was my greatest teacher to learn methods she used to grow past the pain. I have yet to find a way to stop suffering, but I have learned lessons on how to cope better.

My greatest lesson being the power of movement. I found the risks that arise when I’m not moving a lot, and I’ve seen the benefits of creating a lot of movement in my life. Life lessons that have gone back through decades, including my youth playing soccer. As someone who suffers from expressing anger and anxiety, it is important I have ways to move my energy. Dancing has become a powerful medicine in my life that brings healing in my body and my mind.

The dance was always a big part of Danielle’s healing. She expressed her emotions as I do through dance. Depending on her mood, she could show such emotion in her dance that it would bring people to tears. Danielle knew the power of expressing those emotions and the power of expressing those feelings in the form of something she loved. She found through dance ways of transmuting her traumas. Her presence was even healing to those who watched her.

Danielle danced with a Passion that few people express in their lives. The passion she danced with could have sent her on to glorious heights of fame and glory. She told me of the many times people proposed that life to her. She decided every time to pass on that life, realizing fame was not something she wished to achieve. Her goals in life were far simpler. To do what she loved in a place that she loved. Sedona, while not the perfect place, was a place she wanted dancing to thrive.

Danielle was for eighteen years, “The” Dance teacher in Sedona, AZ. Several others had tried, but no other teachers had made the commitment she did. Danielle had brought big town experience to a small mountain town. In the New York Dance community, she was well known. Her talent had gained the attention of many aristocrats who lived in the city. She rarely name-dropped but on occasion would point out actors whose children she taught, but I honestly don’t remember a single one.

Danielle taught and performed Dance for nine years in New York, including performing in Cats on Broadway. Despite her talent she chose to teach thousands of children over the years, most of those years taught out of a Studio connected to her house in Sedona. For much of the ’90s and until the recession business was great. She was even awarded several women’s achievement awards for running a successful business locally.

Danielle told me stories of how she exercised her independent spirit during her life, including choosing to leave home at an early age. She accomplished great things with little resources, including putting herself through an accredited dance academy in New York City. It is amazing to hear how she rose from practically nothing, to become the woman she was when I met her. The stories she told of her days in New York were fantastic, outrageous, and heartbreaking. It was the heartbreaks that weighed the heaviest on her heart.

Danielle witnessed eighty of her friends from the Dance community lose their lives to AIDS. She expressed the devastation it caused throughout the community. People were afraid of the disease. The disease held a horrible stigma, which caused many to reject the infected individual. Danielle didn’t fear the people who had AIDS or HIV. She held space for compassion and sympathy. The incredible person inside her decided to show up for eight people who had been abandoned by everyone in their lives. She told me of the horrors of dying of AIDS when the outbreak first appeared. What the disease did to the body was frightening to witness. The fear caused many friends and family members to act irrationally. For all too many, it was a terrible and lonely way to die.

The stories she told of how people would treat the sick and dying were appalling. They would walk in and blame the person or lash out with cruel words. They are expressing all their anger and frustration to the one person who doesn’t need that release. Danielle would not stand for inappropriate behavior and was not afraid to throw people out. I would have to say that people’s behavior towards the sick and dying is, I guess you could call it, complicated. I have an entire chapter dedicated to this topic as it is something, I ended up going through extensively with Danielle.

I made many mistakes myself. I am far from perfect. However, there is very little that I regret because I always did everything I could to fix my mistakes. Some mistakes I still wish I never made, and this book will help, so others don’t make the same mistakes. It isn’t always easy to realize when people need help, especially ourselves. Danielle and I encountered many people who behaved poorly and some beautiful souls who acted admirably. We came across simple mistakes all people can make. Despite the blunders often time, people neglected to offer help in the first place. Fear cripples many into never taking proper action.

Danielle’s life was full of taking proper action. Danielle tried to live a life of proper action. Living in a big city, she learned the power of presenting the right image. The transition to a small town taught her even more lessons about the power of projecting a positive image to the community. I don’t know if Danielle would have moved to Sedona in the first place if she understood half the troubles she would face.

Sedona had captured her interest many years before she moved from her home in New York City to the desert southwest. It was another instance where life decided to tell her she must leave the big city. She expressed how healing Sedona always felt when she visited. This natural healing energy drew her to one of the most magnificent landscapes, in my opinion, only bested by the Grand Canyon. The beautiful views are unforgettable, and the people who live here are beautiful. Sedona is magical, and Danielle appreciated the beauty that is Sedona. Despite all the problems she faced with people during her 20 years in town, she never ended up moving.

I appreciated the insights she would share about living in a small town as I grew up in cities many times larger than Sedona. It isn’t hard to hide from people in a huge city, however living in a small city comes with its own set of problems. Challenges we would come to realize in their entirety as we progressed together as a married couple. We would come to many realizations about why people behave in ways that defy common sense.

It was incredible the way that Danielle and I connected in our understanding of the problems of “normal” society. She and I both had zero tolerance for injustice or cruelty. Which we both agreed were plaguing society. We both chose to live by example to put an end injustice and cruelty. We each did it our way.

Danielle accomplished this in ways that I can’t even convey. She stood up against the male ego that pushes and manipulates its way to gain what they want. She endured much criticism and verbal abuse for simply doing the right thing. Today those who choose to do the right thing are rarely celebrated or applauded. Often, they become targets for gossip and rumors which are aimed to discredit those who are in the right. I can’t hear one more guy complain about his girlfriend being mad at him, when I know that he is unfaithful, lies, or manipulates her. Despite her best efforts, she was still often a victim of the male ego.

Danielle Elise Claire was a beautiful example of the Divine Feminine, the energy of Lilith. The woman in the Bible who walked away from Adam in the Garden for she wished not to be his servant or object of desire. Danielle told me Lilith was banished to the sea for her slight. Then God created Eve to fill Adam’s Desires. I found other versions of the story, but I always enjoyed Danielle’s interpretation. A perfect representation of what she stood for. Danielle would not willingly be the servant or object of another person’s desires. She stood up for herself almost as much as she stood up for others. A remarkable person in every way and that is how she lived her life.

We are all incredible people living incredible lives. Only by looking at the synchronicities in our lives can we hope to gain true meaning to what our existence is all about. Our lives each have more potential than most people realize. We each have so much to offer this planet and the other people in our lives when we accept the path life is trying to provide. Some call it being in the flow, others refer to it as the zone, while others may call it divine inspiration. It sounds great, but it is not an easy state to achieve. It seems the more you do the right thing and follow the right path, the more challenging the path seems to become. I guess I’m trying to tell you that through my experience and observation, the best things in life are never easy.

It is only by facing the challenges, heartache, and pain that we can hope to achieve something bigger than ourselves, become greater than the sum of our parts. The universe has allowed each of us to follow a path that could change the world; few say yes. However, many today are following these ancient lessons. All the Prophet’s, Savior’s, and Enlightened individuals of our time have told us similar stories and spoke about the path that leads to infinite beauty. It takes understanding the ugliness in the world that people truly find the greatest appreciation for beauty. In facing the ugliness, Danielle and I found much-hidden beauty.

Our journey together, through the hardest part in Danielle’s life, was a gift more than simply a curse. A gift I didn’t fully understand but do now. I am thankful I could be there for such an incredible person through one of the most horrible Cancers existing on the planet. The importance of allowing someone to die on their terms is something that I cannot overstate. Danielle didn’t want to go into an assisted home or a hospice center. She wanted to stay in her house, and it was one of her greatest desires.

However, we lacked the support that could have made it easier for both of us. It was heartbreaking to hear that many people never have the support we did. Like us, many families don’t do what is necessary to help each other out, and economic conditions have made that even more of an issue. So many choices are boiled down to what the family can afford as opposed to what is best for the person in question.

Danielle didn’t want to end up in some medical establishment because she knew she would die quicker. It doesn’t surprise me when I hear about how people pass more quickly in nursing homes. It made more sense after I learned about the medical practices for people nearing the end of their lives. Hence the primary goal of those places is to medicate people to the point that they feel nothing. Something that I will say is the opposite of what we went through. Medications prescribed from most doctors were practically ineffective throughout the entire process. The resulting severe side effects being more problematic than the original issue.

Our journey is far different than your traditional Cancer patient. We didn’t follow the traditional medical approach, and it brought many unforeseen consequences. Our attempts to work with the medical establishment were even disastrous or counterproductive. Danielle lived by her own constitution.

Danielle was not normal in the fact that she practically never drank alcohol, because the hang-over would last for days. She didn’t even smoke marijuana as an adult. Although she eventually admitted that she did do it in her youth, stopping when it started making her paranoid. She was hypersensitive showing even legal medications were problematic. She couldn’t take over the counter meds without nasty side effects. She was as pure a person as I have known.

Finding medications that would help with her health problems were far more challenging. This story will discuss the challenges Danielle and I encountered when facing a traditional medical industry that practically solely uses prescription medications to solve the health problems that arise. The irony of the situation is I was actively working in the counter industry, helping all the cancer patients the mainstream medical industry had already failed.

My first year in Sedona was nothing like what I would have expected. I had heard that Sedona is a place that can chew people up and spit them out. I have observed this repeatedly and heard from many other sources, strange and interesting stories. The many discussions revealed how the natural energy that exists in this town has a unique effect on people’s lives. Many refer to it as a journey through the dark part of your soul. The energies that exist in Sedona seem to accelerate one to a higher level of one’s purpose in life. It brings many struggles and yet to those who persevere great rewards await.

Rewards that may not always seem like rewards. I doubt many would see the rewards in the initial thought of my story. How there be a silver lining in such a tragedy? I hope this story will shed light on finding the good when all else seems lost. While Sedona affects everyone differently, those who are open to life and new experience will be in for the ride of their lives. Those who fight change are presented with a barrage of challenges until one either gives up and leaves town or faces those inner demons head-on.

In my experience, I found this to be true beyond words. To say life works out in mysterious ways is an understatement. The countless people who come through town and have mystical if not paranormal experiences are so numerous that there are bookshelves dedicated to the subject. It will take an entire book to fully convey the bizarre if not a synchronistic string of events that led me to write this book. It goes beyond words to tell you that the sorrow I feel at the loss of my wife has led me down a different path in my life; it has given my life more purpose. I am unchained from the limits I once had.

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