Have you ever loved doing something so much, but worried you weren’t perfect enough to do it? A local author wants to help you define your own version of perfection. Kendra Gottsleben wrote “Kendra’s Perfect Dance Routine”. You may know the three-time author. She’s a board member for numerous organizations, and also a fierce advocate for people living with disabilities.
“I’ve never read it to anybody,” Kendra Gottsleben said, holding her new book.
That’s okay, because even as an adult, Gottsleben still remembers the routine of her childhood.
“I dance into the jazz studio, with my favorite ribbons. My unique leap makes them fly. Dancing is my favorite,” Gottsleben said.
She loves it so much, she took dance in third and fourth grades. Somewhere between the pliers and sauters, Gottsleben says she started to worry she was out of step with her peers.
“I use a stool to help me reach the ballet bar. I’m shorter than everyone else, because I have a disease called MPS-6,” Gottsleben said.
MPS-6, or Mucopolysaccharidosis, is a rare disease that Gottsleben happens to have. It basically affects her heart, other vital organs, connective tissue, and leaves her joints stiff. She says it can be hard to move.
“I was really taught as a kid that you can’t dwell on things you can’t change, because it stops you from pursuing what you want to pursue,” Gottsleben said.
That’s a big lesson in Gottsleben’s new book, “Kendra’s Perfect Dance Routine.” She’s written three now about her life, including another children’s book called, “Kendra’s Lemonade.” She details what it’s like to grow up with a rare disease. She found support from her community and dance teammates. She also says her parents told her, no matter what, she should always try. The local author is passing that lesson on to people living with disabilities.
“When I was a kid, there wasn’t a lot of books that were kind of like representation of me or having a rare disease. Or struggles with things you normally do as a kid,” Gottsleben said.
“I think it’s important for children who do have disabilities to have somebody to look up to and aspire to be like. So, she’s a role model,” Marni Martin Johnson, friend and colleague, said.
However, when it comes to who, “Kendra’s Perfect Dance Routine,” is for, there are no wallflowers. The themes of perseverance in the face of fear apply to all of us.
“We all have struggles no matter who we are. No matter what we look like. It’s just the way of the world,” Gottsleben said.
“I think it’s written for everyone. But, as a mom and I have boys, and they’ve enjoyed reading the book and meeting Kendra, because she is so positive,” Martin Johnson said.
So far, Gottsleben says the response to her new book is positive.
“It’s fun to see kids with the book in their hand,” Gottsleben said.
“Kendra’s Perfect Dance Routine,” may be meant for children, but it’s a guide book for adults.
“For all of us, no matter who we are, if we have a disability or not, the future is unknown. And, so, if you keep trying and keep working toward something, it may happen,” Gottsleben said.
According to Kendra Gottsleben, we don’t always get to pick the song or routine life gives us. All we can do is try to find our own steps, and above all, dance.
“When it’s my turn to dance, my nerves turn into smiles, because I know my friends are cheering on my perfect dance routine. When the show ends, everyone strikes their own pose. And it is perfect,” Gottsleben said.