I am thankful for a man named Deak Swanson – He was my “Festmaster” in 1996 when I was Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest. We spent countless hours riding around on the Oktoberfest float at parades during which time I would tell him over and over again about my dream to open a dance studio. One day he offered to build me my first studio on a handshake and twenty years later he and I turned the first shovels at the groundbreaking for our new facility.
I am grateful to my Mom who modeled a spirit of generosity and compassion to me during my entire childhood and throughout my adult years. I have vivid memories of accompanying her as a child to deliver meals to shut-ins and watching her take care of a family friend who was a burn victim. So many of the things I want to be are rooted in her example.
I am thankful for my Dad who taught me how to work. I was in middle school when he lost his job as an over-the-road truck driver and things started to get really tight. I’ll never forget when he said, “I’ll go dig ditches on the railroad if I need to so that I can take care of my family.” And, he did. Thank you, Dad, not only for your example, but for providing for us when it wasn’t easy. Because of you, I can do hard things, too.
I am thankful for my husband, Mitch, who has been the wind beneath my wings for every personal milestone and professional achievement. Teaching dance may look like all sunshine and rainbows from the audience, but the reality is that there is a lot of grit and and grind to keep a school going in the day to day. I’m not sure he knew what he was getting into when he asked me out when I was a senior in high school, but there is no one I would rather take this ride with…I love you!
I am thankful for each of my five kids every day. I stand in wonder and awe of the unique gifts and personalities that God has given each one of you and call it my greatest privilege to be your mom. You’ve shown me what unconditional love and joy looks like and I hope to model it back to you everyday.
I am grateful for my sister, Alana, who is also affectionately known as “Seesta!” You are the string to my kite and you keep me grounded and flying at the same time and I can’t believe I get to go to work everyday with my best friend.
I am thankful for my mother-in-law, Karen, who moved to Chicago this year to be Isabella’s chaperone so that she could join her dream dance company. I mean, who uproots their life and moves to another city and takes on the responsibility of a teenager in retirement? This amazing lady does, that’s who!
I am thankful to our School Director, Miss Shayna, who has been a faithful friend, employee and confidant over the first 20 years of Misty’s Dance Unlimited.
I am grateful for the leadership team at both businesses – Misty’s Dance Unlimited and More Than Just Great Dancing®. You are world class people and I’m thankful to get to serve this mission with you.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for our teachers who every year make the choice to put service before self and make serving our students their highest priority as leaders.
I am grateful for our families and students at Misty’s Dance Unlimited. You are our reason for showing up every day. Your enthusiasm for the arts and commitment to providing positive experiences for kids motivates me every day to be a better leader and teacher.
I am thankful for the More Than Just Great Dancing® studio owners, aka “The Tribe”. You are the heart and soul of what has become a worldwide movement. I could never be able to serve 72,000 kids a week on my own, but together we do that each week! You are the true leaders in the industry and my gratitude for you runs deep.
I am grateful for my mentors. I know full well that I am standing on the shoulders of giants and I hope to make you proud. Marvin, Darren, Georgia, Dave, Brad, Marc, Paul and Cody, I may not see you everyday, but every day the people we serve see your influence.
I am grateful for a convention called Dance Revolution and it’s leader Michelle Brogan. You are an absolute visionary and I am thankful to be on your team. Each year thousands of lives are forever changed by your bold faith including so many of our high school students.
I am thankful to the vendors who said yes to More Than Just Great Dancing® before it was ever a thing. Studio Director, Curtain Call, TutuTix and Stage Door Workshops – I’ll never forget that this was built on your belief in education for studio owners.
I am thankful to my own dance teachers who inspired a love of the art in me so many years ago. I know I wasn’t always the best dancer, but you saw the best in me and I try each to pay that forward to all children who dream of dancing.
I am thankful for visionaries in the industry like Leslie Scott of Youth Protection Advocates in Dance and Tricia Gomez of Rhythm Works for children with special needs. A lot of people talk about the importance of providing safe and healthy experiences for all dancers, but you are true advocates and we are proud to be associated with your work.
I am grateful for friends in the industry who understand that we are stronger together. We could very well have been competitors, but we’ve found it more fun to be friends. Austin, Clint, Steve, Suzanne, and Gil I love how we have shown that a rising tide can float all boats.
I am even more grateful for the detractors I’ve had over the years. You’ve helped me to get really clear on my mission and develop the perseverance needed to run this race and for that I am thankful.
And, I am ever thankful to God. I know that none of this is because of “me”. As Paul said to the Colossians, “All things are created by Him and for Him and in Him all things hold together.”