A Wife and More
Danielle was more than just my wife. Miss Danielle, as most would know her, was an inspiration, a leader, a protector, a survivor, and a best friend to so many who crossed her path. To say I had the pleasure of marrying one of the most incredible women I have ever met would still be an understatement. I cannot even in this book express the impact she had and continues to have in this world. I only hope to convey a small portion of that which made Miss Danielle great, to you.
Since our first meeting after having dropped her off at her house on Inspirational Dr., I knew she had inspired me. I was inspired to be a better version of myself. I even stopped a 6-year tobacco addiction, cold turkey. I found myself inspired to express myself through dance being encouraged in her Dance studio by not only my future wife’s support but also the support from all her students. I had to be voted in to be in her elite class; it wasn’t completely Danielle’s decision. She only sparked the inspiration for me to try out.
Living on Inspirational Drive must have been destiny. Danielle would spend nearly twenty years inspiring little dancers from her small dance studio in Sedona, Arizona. It was amazing to witness her actively kindle dance in all her students. I was only witnessing a small portion of what made Danielle’s career so special. Many of her students were able to find their expression through dance because of her guidance. Even in my dance, she mentored me to be a better dancer. The lessons she taught still follow me to this day, lessons that made me a more confident dancer. I gained power with my dance that I would never have had without her.
Danielle, in her teaching, had a true method of giving power back to her students. Traditional ballet is far from allowing people to express themselves freely; it is about form; it has a rigid structure. Danielle still found this to be the best way to build a solid foundation within her students. Danielle said it was the best way to start all of her students. Having a foundation was important for growth into dance, as she would put it.
As the years progressed, she would allow her students more freedom. With freedom also came more responsibility. I was impressed by how she was able to teach not only dance but healthy life lessons. She never treated children as children but as potentially equal individuals, individuals who could earn the right to talk at the table as equals. She respected all people and children for who they were and would also provide an environment to foster this in all her students.
This caring nature is what made Danielle special. She would see people for who they were, and it was something we both seemed to share. She would see the infinite potential in even the most challenging children. In our conversations, she even mentioned that at one point, she worked with problematic children in New York City. There was something about her ability to get children to express themselves that made her a true healer. I know that it was her caring nature, combined with the power of dance that made her truly effective. To this day, I know the world is missing out from the benefit of such an individual. Her actions set her apart, but the experience gave her the strength to take those actions.
I, on the one hand, tend to see the better side in people always. In my experience, people are rarely out to hurt or harm me, so I don’t always see the worst in people. Danielle would see people in their entirety. Those lessons come from a life filled with people attacking, disrespecting, or projecting jealousy. Danielle’s experience was far different than mine as a white male. I won’t deny the disadvantages our society makes for people who don’t fit into that mold. Danielle was particularly cautious in life, especially since she was a strong, beautiful woman. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that being a beautiful woman, has both its advantages and huge disadvantages. The disadvantages are a topic I found more interesting.
It was no surprise to hear all the stories she had about jerk guys. Being a male, I never had to endure the problems women face from men. It didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of the problem; there is just a huge difference from witnessing a problem and being a repeated victim of the problem. I sympathized with her feelings about men, considering I observed the behavior as a guy my whole life. I even ended close relationships over that type of behavior. Danielle and I connected deeply and would talk extensively on this subject. Conversations that do not have much to do with this story, other than I think the lifelong trauma contributed to the issues she faced with her cancer. Trauma that we resolved too late to make a significant difference. We desired to heal this societal problem, which we did find by the end of our journey.
Throughout life, Danielle helped by being a good example for her students. An example which continues to inspire me to be a shining example. She was a leader in that she led through action. She taught most of all through her actions, to do what is right. Danielle would do what was right even if it made her the bad guy; she wouldn’t stand for misdeeds. She held herself to these standards, she held her elite students to these standards, and she respected those who couldn’t always meet those standards. Her mistakes taught me how we say something is more important than what we are saying. She recognized the power and risks of being a big voice in a small town.
Danielle taught me many lessons about living in a small town. Sedona was not just a small town, but it is also a rather wealthy town. It isn’t cheap to live here, and those challenges were constant struggles. She recognized how important diplomacy was in a town where rumors could spread like wildfires. In a world where people will cause harm to others to feel better about themselves, I understood her plight. She couldn’t always stand up for what was right without having to face sometimes bitter consequences. The lessons she learned controlled many of her actions. She shared these lessons with me.
We were able to learn together. In our time, we were able to form a bond that I have yet to cultivate with another person in my life. Danielle was someone who I admire for her ability to communicate. She was my greatest teacher. Teachers would come in all forms to help us. Teaching us how not to behave or being shining examples of hope, as Danielle and I tentatively navigated our way through this dark space called cancer. We learned many lessons that we could never have imagined.
We didn’t realize how much a community could help or hurt a situation. Many people must grow if we are to be successful in administering to the sick, elderly, or dying. Many nurses expressed to us the same concerns we observed from our own experience. Our, encounters showed us most people act inappropriately, a true source of anger for Danielle. Since being caring and compassionate seemed to come naturally to her.
Danielle often spoke of the times she would confront people for acting unfittingly. She told me about throwing people off her property for behaving inappropriately or if they put her students in danger. She was practically the enforcing arm of our local neighborhood watch. While there is not technically a neighborhood watch, she was the known enforcer.
Dangerous Speeding has always been an issue with dancing children wandering into the street. She always radiated her protective spirit, and she made sure many speedsters stopped the behavior. She had no problem involving the authorities, although she always hoped to handle the situation without their involvement. First, she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right.
Danielle would walk right up to someone’s house and confront them directly. She wouldn’t avoid a confrontation if she knew it was the right thing to do. She was fearless when it came to protecting others. There wasn’t anyone that intimidated her, and even when it came to the dangerous types, she was even more ferocious. Several of her friends even expressed witnessing the fire that was always part of Danielle. Danielle would call it her inner Kali, which represented her rebellious mother goddess nature. This protective motherly energy was a power she even aimed to tame.
In one of her more entertaining stories, she had to put her next-door neighbor in his place. He showed up to her door in his underwear. She had to throw him off her property while also setting him straight, with all the anger she could muster. She couldn’t believe that he would show up at her dance studio in such horrendous attire. It didn’t stop there, because after this he tried to run her over with his car. She barely escaped the incident while also calling the police on him knowing; he was having drinking problems. She said his DUI put an end to everything. He moved shortly after that happened.
Standing up for what is right also can be a difficult path to walk. People don’t enjoy being wrong much less are open to being corrected. Schools teach us being wrong means failure, so these days it can be a challenge to right wrongs. Sadly, wealthy people are even less likely to respond well to being wrong, leading to many unnecessary life struggles for Danielle. It is sad that rather than admit to their faults, people will attack another’s character, to avoid owning up to their shortcomings. This problem, according to Danielle, is even more ruthless when it is a woman vs. a woman. I have witnessed, heard, or been a victim to some of the most callous behavior, and not from men but women. I feel lucky that I haven’t been the repeated target of jealous or sociopathic women like Danielle had to endure.
I learned more about how difficult being a woman in this world is from Danielle. The reason I most loved my wife, within her studio of dance, was her dedication to creating a safe space for all girls. It brought me so much happiness to know that she wouldn’t stand for rude or elitist attitudes. It didn’t matter who was the star dancer; everyone had the same opportunities. It was amazing to be in love with someone capable of creating such a space for self-expression. The loving experience she provided was incredible.
The protective spirit that she embodied was nothing short of miraculous. A protector of those that couldn’t speak for themselves. Danielle spoke up on behalf of those that she knew didn’t have a strong voice. A protector of children and the meek. I have met many since her passing that has only further proven the kind of person she was.
It touched my heart to hear all the stories about Danielle standing up on behalf of others. So many people said she stood in your corner no matter the circumstances. The more difficult the circumstances faced, the more of a friend Danielle would prove to be. She wasn’t someone who bailed at the first sign of trouble. She didn’t with me either. It made me even more proud to know her when I found out that her support of local businesses also saved those businesses. She would show up for people in every way that she was capable of carrying out.
Danielle would pay for services far in advance because she knew businesses would need the payments. She would repeatedly drop off food or offer emotional support for people going through a tough time. Several people mentioned that she stood up to people who were attempting to take advantage of a situation. Danielle wouldn’t stand for injustice, and her righteous anger would always create a solution. The most entertaining part of the stories was Danielle’s power in her presence, the fear she seemed to instill in those she confronted. “A force to be reckoned with” as several people put it.
Many have considered her someone who was always there to help. She was supportive; she knew how to listen. She also was good at coming up with solutions and would always be working to move forward. Danielle wasn’t there to listen to problems unless that was the answer to the problem. Danielle was always someone who was there to improve someone’s situation. Being of service to others was her natural gift. I experienced this in our relationship, along with all the people we encountered along our journey. My wife taught me that lesson more times than I can remember, and in ways that I still am trying to comprehend. I still hear stories of her magnificence from this world and the next.
Living in Sedona spiritual experiences are almost commonplace, especially for those people who cultivate that belief. In my observations, I have found that death is far from the end. While there is naturally a sadness that we can no longer be present and experience the physical form, I’ve found that people are much more than just their physical representation. We have so many layers, and in those layers, we continue to exist. So, when people started sharing about how Danielle would appear to them in Dreams or through animal appearances, it didn’t surprise me. I had similar encounters.
After almost a dozen people told me of their encounters, combined with my own experiences, I saw a huge pattern. Danielle wasn’t just visiting people in their dreams, but she was helping people in the dreams too. I feel that it was just part of who she was; to be of service to others. Since I’ve found we carry so much of who we are to the other side, it made sense that she would still be serving people she loved. I’m excited to continue to hear more about the mystery that was Danielle, in this life and about her actions in the next life too.
I knew the moment I met her that she was unshakeable, she was confident, and yet still a huge mystery to me. I had never met anyone like her, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was captivated to know just a little more about this mysterious woman. I could tell she had so much more just sitting on the tip of her tongue perched to tell me. The constant discussions, sharing of experiences led to me unraveling a story that could have likely made a wonderful blockbuster movie. It was a life filled with experience, joy, loss, bliss, anger, and every other emotion you could imagine. Despite all the hardship she had proven herself a survivor, and a fighter for life.
Due to family issues, Danielle spent time as a late teenager growing up on the streets. She was a bit of a rebel and lived as a rebellious youth in Philadelphia in the ’80s. She learned quickly to read people and be hyper-aware of her surroundings. The risks she faced as a beautiful young girl were scary. She said she often used the AIDS scare to keep herself safe from potential attackers, which also led her to date top local thugs for the best protection. I laughed when she mentioned some of the less savory men from her past. Regardless she was a survivor, and her knowledge of the streets blessed her with invaluable wisdom. Danielle used that wisdom to do more with her life than most people can fathom.
I used to call her my Dancing James Bond since the penalty of death comes with sharing anything further. She would usually share details from less classified stories of adventure and often survival. Danielle’s secret life remained a secret even to me. The stories she did share usually did not involve hunting down bad guys, even though I enjoyed those the most.
Danielle’s crowning achievement was beating a virus deadlier than HIV, and the culprit's name still alludes me. She beat that nemesis using herbs and hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments. It was three weeks of hell, but she overcame certain death. She also had the strength to recover from a nearly fatal amount of blood loss later in life. There was the neighbor who almost ran her over with a car or the time she was even kidnapped by a serial killer, which was classified, but interesting to know she survived it. Hearing people confirm the stories, told me that she was truly a survivor.
She even developed Lupus, an autoimmune disease, that she eventually put into remission. In addition to battling total adrenal failure that occurred almost simultaneously, nothing seemed to keep her down. She even used the lessons to offer support to others who suffer from similar issues. Several people mentioned the beneficial wisdom and ideas she shared about how she put her diseases into remission. She didn’t do things the way most people do, but she did do things her way, a way that always seemed to work for her.
I heard tales from people that made me realize that Danielle had shared many important experiences with many people. Living in Sedona for over four years has brought more richness in my existence than I could have ever imagined. Only now do I realize that for twenty years, my wife was able to share that knowledge of those experiences daily with wonderful little dancers and amazing people across Sedona. I am grateful that she shared so many of her experiences with me, considering those were the ones that left the greatest impact on her life. It mainly is the stories of her kindness that have truly touched my heart.
Most of all, the parents who have told me the difference Danielle made in their children’s lives. She showed a sense of love and passion for her craft that was indescribable. Parents were even telling me that their children showed improvements in all aspects of their lives after only a short time of taking her classes. Danielle even showed up as a second parent for many children. She was a rock and pillar for many who faced trouble at home. Her past gave her great insight and compassion.
I again wonder at the real number of stories that could be told about how amazing she was. I know I’ve only met a fraction of the people whose lives she touched, which leads me to conclude that there are so many other people out there who have had their lives changed by Danielle. It also means that many people are likely still receiving her help from the afterlife. Even in my life, it feels like I have a completely indescribable friendship since I have no other friendship to compare it to, she is still the Best friend I’ve ever had.
After her passing, I found out just how many people truly loved her and considered her to be one of their best friends. It touched my heart in so many ways to know that was just the person she was. It made me look again at what it means to be a good friend. I realized that I hadn’t always been the best friend possible, and now I have an example. Danielle’s example of friendship should be something we all strive towards achieving.
I love to admit where I fall short because it means that I can rise above. Danielle was one of the best teachers for me because she knew how to point out my shortcomings while doing it in a way that allowed me the opportunity to grow. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as much as she was helping me to grow past my limitations, I was equally teaching her to accept hers. Our story together tells of this in so many ways. It was that mutual connection that we both needed to mirror our shortcomings so that we ultimately would be allowed to grow past them.
Friends of Danielle’s still tell me about how they miss brainstorming with her. Since Danielle knew how to listen, she would often have the solution to the problem without having to tell the person a thing. People, when allowed to talk about their problems, are often freed from the energy they were holding on to in the first place. Danielle knew this better than anyone. There was no stewing in someone else’s misery; it was about getting to the root of the problem. I think it is why psychiatry works so well; many people need a safe space to express their feelings. I like to express my feelings through dance; one thing my wife loved about me.
My wife loved her dance students more than anything else in the world; it could inspire jealousy if I were a jealous person. I only want to express how much she truly cared for her “children.” They were one of the biggest reasons for many of the decisions she made with regards to the dance studio. She did things most people wouldn’t do, to keep the dance going, even enduring great pain physically and emotionally.
Danielle projected an image that she was indestructible to anyone who knew her. It was something we both seemed to have in common. We were unbreakable; nothing could hold us down. Her students even joked about it regularly. Her students were constantly confirming the more outrageous stories that Danielle would tell. I didn’t need the validation, but it was nice.
When it came to her students, they were the priority. She made sure that with all her communications and letters to the community, she was always thinking about the students. While I may not have always agreed with her methods, I knew I need to support the decisions she was making. She had the experience, and it was not in my place to recommend actions to issues I lacked experience. It was one of the lessons I had to learn the hard way. One of the many lessons I promised her I would share with the world. It is an honor to be of further service to someone who is still so important in my life.
Her students put her on a pedestal, and for that matter, I put her on a pedestal. The most interesting person I have ever encountered, combined with being stunningly beautiful inside and out. It was hard not to see the power she held just being herself. The respect she almost demanded was hard to ignore. It wasn’t a show either; it was a conscious effort on her part. While she was aware that she could behave another way, she wanted to hold herself to the standards as an example to others. The genuine kindness, concern, and love she showed to all people she encountered were impeccable. It made me nicer, kinder, and more loving just being around her. I’m sure our expressions of love made a few people nauseated.
We were truly inseparable, from the moment we first met. We were connected at the hips, hands, and feet. We showed that we could dance through life as a power couple; we didn’t need anyone else. Both she and I had spent many years on our own, supporting ourselves, being productive members of society, and now we had each other. It was a miracle to have found someone who I could so easily mingle into my life. We were truly meant to be together.
I was able to meet her in her full power as a woman, and as a kindred soul looking for a connection. We shared so much in common. We both had a passion for dance that can’t even be quantified. My mission continues because I know that I would have pursued my passion for dance sooner had I received the encouragement I saw Danielle give her students every day. I know that after many years of influence, people like Danielle continue to make a difference. If only we could have more Danielle’s to inspire, lead, protect, and befriend all those who need us today. Please feel Free to share or repost this chapter. Stay tuned next Monday for Chapter 2 of Dancing Beyond Cancer If you would like to finish the story NOW you can purchase the full book at...