It was a beautiful cool summer evening in a Colorado ski town. The amphitheater was
strategically placed perfectly to display the majestic snow-capped mountains in the background.
We found an open spot in the grass, laid our blankets down and waited for the live band to fill the air with music.
As soon as the first chord struck, my daughter Lizzie, who has autism, sat straight up and a
gigantic smile slowly crept across her face. Before the chorus had even began, she had made her
way down to the front and placed herself right next to the stage.
As she began to dance, her brown curls bounced wildly to the beat of the music. She danced with
abandon, did cart wheels and then bowed proudly as each song ended, as if the crowd
was applauding her instead of the band. Soon other girls around her age began to stand on the
sidelines, watching. You could see the struggle in their eyes. Should they go and dance and have
as much fun as the little girl with the brown curls or should they stay on the sidelines where it
was safe from the judgment of others?
It was an easy decision for Lizzie. She lacks the filter that worries about what others think. She
lives her life to the fullest with every breath, without the burden of others’ imaginary thoughts
weighing her down.
Lizzie has taught me to toss what others may think to the side and live my life as my own. I will
make the conscious choice to dance. Will you?
Julie Hornok is a short story writer, blogger, and passionate advocate for families living with autism. Her works have been seen in The Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s, The Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives, The Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back, Thrive Magazine, www.dfwchild.com, and the Dallas Morning News Dallas Moms Blog. When Julie isn’t busy driving her 3 kids all over the DFW Metroplex or doing hot yoga, she loves to give back to the community by planning special needs events. She also loves to share with others the benefits of Young Living Essential Oils. She can be reached at email@example.com or www.juliehornok.com.