Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Music + Movement = Dance 4

I knew that there was a reason why I had not written about Saturday night yet – I was waiting for closure (and to recover). Victim Services Huron County held their 10th Dancing with the Stars dinner and auction fundraiser – and it was amazing. Words are actually hard for me to find, believe it or not, to describe the night. I guess that is partly because it was more than just a night, it was a whole year of learning, rehearsing and polishing something that was completely new for both Les and I.

Listening to the judges talk about “my attitude”…

When we first started talking about the idea of trying wheelchair dance and competing at DWTS Huron it was as though we were challenging each other and our own selves. Les had never danced with someone who uses a chair and I had never danced in a chair. I think we knew we were going to have fun, but, speaking for myself, I didn’t know how much I would enjoy it. Fun seems like such a trite word to explain it – but that was the word that I used most on Saturday night.

Dance was fun because it was new, but also because it was a workout, it involved music (automatically picks you up) and it became a part of my regular weekly routine. We started dancing one hour per week, then twice, then by September we were spending two hours twice a week working on the final “look” of our dances (of course including some time for coffee).

I am stronger in my core muscles now than I was a year ago – go ahead – try and push me over. As my friend Melissa said to me today “You were defying gravity!” Dance has also helped me improve my posture – I have a new, lower, backrest adjusted it to be more forward, and I sit straighter than ever.

Me and my man.

Closure came fully to me this morning. First, I received this picture, from Theo’s Dad. I had been hoping that someone would have captured us, dressed up and happy. Then today we talked about how he was feeling. He has been reluctant (avoiding situations that would lead to me asking) to try to dance with me on wheels. I had been learning and wanted him to try too, but I got no where. Now I know why – he was grieving, but neither of us realized it.

Two-step and waltz was our default dance. Ages ago, before we were married, we took dance lessons as to not make fools of ourselves in front of our guests at our wedding. We learned well together, but trying to apply that with another dance partner was a no-go. We had always had a good time on the dance floor and I suspect that we both regret not getting out and doing it more often. Now we will not be able to do that two step or waltz the way we did before. For Theo, I think this realization came on Saturday night.

Grief comes when you least expect it, and in ways that make it hard to understand your feelings. Now that we have talked about it, hopefully we will be able to find a way forward, together.

Les Cook and I took third place for our dancing at DWTS Huron County

My music choice was very deliberate. Sure, “Good as Hell” (by Lizzo) was a fun swing, but “Work” (by Charlotte Day Wilson) was the first song that I had chosen. It was by accident that I came across it – getting into the car after Les and I had just decided to do a waltz for one of our songs. I wanted to find a modern waltz and thought, how am I going to do that? And there it was, on CBC’s Q, first all I heard were the lyrics, then I realized – this is a waltz!

Had I had the opportunity to do so, on Saturday night I would have dedicated this song, and the dance, to Theo. Because if there is anything that we have learned in this new life of ours, it’s gonna take a bit of work. Hopefully this helps you understand the tears that were also rolling down my cheeks as I left the dance floor on Saturday night.


Partial lyrics to Work by Charlotte Day Wilson

It’s gonna take a bit of work

Oh oh work

Now that you’re here

Whoa oh work

‘Cause people come and go

But I think you should know

That I

I think this will work

It’s gonna take a little time

But with you by my side

I won’t let go

‘Til I’ve got what’s mine

‘Cause people come and go

But you should know

That I, that I

I’ll take it slow

If I wasn’t Huron County famous before, I am now. I left my house once on Monday, for a short meeting in town and ran right into people I had never met before. They had been to DWTS on Saturday night. As soon as they saw me they said “Are you Julie, who dances?” I am indeed. If you heard what the judges said: “You do dance”.

Thanks to Melissa for getting me going on this journey, and to all my people who came to support and watched online.

More pictures and video to come after the “release party”…stay tuned.




  • lois macpherson says:

    Your Mom told me about your night before they went to it. I watched and thoroughly enjoyed it. And now to read your blog I just want to send along hugs to you, and to Theo.

  • VIcki. says:

    Hi Julie, You look wonderful, congratulations 👍👍💕💕

  • Herbert Joseph Runstedler says:

    Hi Julie, I thought You looked Fabulous on the 20th and had thought of asking You to dance with Me. I will some time if you’re Game. Also waiting to see the dances in full, as You know the Wrap up party will be fun! Your writing made me Smile when You describe yourself as Huron Famous ….. You are a Star! A bright beacon of Optimism.

  • Kathleen MacVarish says:

    You continue to amaze and inspire Julie! And you looked absolutely incredible in both dresses. I wish you’d write more blog posts – I love reading them and hope you do indeed write a book.

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