About Me


Terri Reinhart spent 18 years teaching kindergarten at the Denver Waldorf School. She now enjoys spending time making brooms, felting, knitting, bookbinding, painting, and filling up the house with various craft supplies. She is probably the only woman who has ever asked her husband for 50 pounds of broomcorn for her birthday. She also enjoys writing because, as she says, “It helps me to process all the crazy wonderful things in life without screaming or hitting anything.”

Her husband, Chris, is very patient.


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A humorous look at one person's journey with Parkinson's and Dystonia

For me, illness and health are not opposites but exist together. Everyone has something that is challenging to them. Mine just simply has a recognizable name. My life will take a different path because of this but that's okay. Everyone has changes in their lives that create their path.  I'm learning how to enjoy whatever path I'm on.

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Entries in dance for Parkinson's (6)


Living Well - Getting the body in gear

Q. What's the best kind of exercise?

A. The one you will actually do.

(from the Davis Phinney Victory Summit Symposium)

Last week, I had my regular appointment with my neurologist. She asked me a lot of questions about how I was taking care of myself. What was I doing for physical exercise? What was I doing to exercise my brain? And was I getting out into the community and being with people?

In other words, what was I doing to exercise my body, mind, and soul. I'll tackle the first one today. One thing at a time.

I was happy to tell her I was continuing with yoga and dance. I know I could also use more aerobic exercising, but at least I'm doing something regularly. She emphasized the need to do stretching exercises to keep limber. I get it. Keeping limber won't prevent dystonia, it just makes it less painful when it happens.

Yoga or dance, aren't just exercises for my body, they also challenge my thinking. I have to remember things like right and left, forward and backward, grapevine... which foot do I start on? Oops, sorry. We're going the other way? Oookaay. Dancing is also a social art.

When I was first diagnosed, we bought a recumbent exercise bicycle. It's a wonderful idea. I can ride for 30 minutes while watching a movie or listening to an audio book. I can program the bicycle to whatever difficulty level I want, and the little screen alsways tells me I have done a

Great Job! 

After we bought it, I was religious about my bicycling. Every day I upped the time slightly and in those first months, I never missed a day. I still ride it at least three times a year.

When I qualified for Medicare, I also qualified for another program: SILVER SNEAKERS! This is a great program which allows free access to the recreation center. I can use the treadmill and other exercise machines, play basketball or raquetball, and use the pool. I prefer the lazy river walking followed by a nice soak in the hot pool. Again, when I first got in the program, I went several times each week. When I go back again, I'll probably have to ask directions to the pool.

Exercise studies are also a good motivation to get physically active. There have been any number of exercise studies for people with Parkinson's in our area. It's like having a free personal trainer for anywhere from six to twelve weeks. I was just called last night about another study. This was a backwards walking treadmill study. Talk about playing to my strengths! I walk backwards well, whether I want to or not. I signed up quickly

I signed up for this study, but after thinking about it, I called back and declined. I am doing enough now. The last time I over extended myself, I ended up exhausted for weeks. Being exhausted for weeks means I fall – a lot. Too much is too much.

The best advice I've received is from Paul Zeiger, my yoga teacher. He constantly reminds us how we can turn any and every daily living activity into exercise. Before getting up in the morning, I can do simple stretching exercises in bed. When I am sitting, I can sit up straight, doing a mountain pose from the waist up. Working in the kitchen? I can still watch my posture, practice shifting my weight from one foot to another, and even balance on one foot, a modified tree pose. Before getting up in the morning, I can do simple stretching exercises in bed.

Having our grandchildren visit provides unlimited opportunities to exercise.

My posture has improved dramatically from before I was diagnosed, or rather, from before I started in yoga class. My overall coordination has improved since starting dance class. Another yoga teacher, Carol Fisher, insists we can still move gracefully, no matter how old we are, even if we have Parkinson's disease.

That's motivation.



On the town - Terri's first and probably only Society Column

The night I received the invitation to dance at the Dazzle and Delight Gala to benefit the Parkinson's Association of the Rockies, I went to sleep with I Could Have Danced All Night going through my head. What fun! I felt like Cinderella, Eliza Dolittle, and Angelina Ballerina, only older. Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined going to this fancy gala in evening dress and actually dancing on stage in front of people. Not ... in... my ... wildest ... dreams...

The next morning, I awoke with Beatle's songs going through my head. It was a medly of Sure to Fall, Help, and Hold me tight. What had I gotten myself into?

For better or worse, I was committed, and couldn't have refused anyway. How could I say no to having Brandon (Private) Freeman as a dance partner? Private dances with Ballet Nouveau and is one of our Parkinson's dance teachers. It really wouldn't matter what I did on stage, everyone would be watching Private. We practiced a few times and by the night of the Gala, we were ready.

It was worth it! It was worth getting dressed in fancy clothes, worth talking my husband into wearing a nice suit, dress pants, and tie instead of his usual evening wear of sweat pants and t-shirt, and worth wrestling for 20 minutes trying to put on nylons with control top panties. This last one almost did me in. I slid off the bed several times and looked like a contortionist before accomplishing the seemingly impossible task. I blame my Parkinson's.

Our daughter took photos of us and fussed with my hair a little. Then, looking us over, she finally gave her approval, and we left for the Ritz Carlton Hotel in downtown Denver.

It was beyond elegant. We walked in the front doors, greeted by no less than 4 doormen and another man who made sure we knew where we were going. When we arrived on our floor, we checked in and perused the silent auction items while being offered hors d'oeuvres and wine. There were many lovely auction donations; the beautiful water color painting by Carolyn Zeiger was my favorite.

I stopped in the restroom before going into the dining room, you know, to powder my nose and stuff? Wow. Wow. The bathroom was bigger than my last hotel room. They had real cloth towels to dry your hands; tiny ones rolled up and stacked in a basket. There was marble everywhere and even a place to sit by a mirror and... powder your nose. I took a photo.

Cheryl Seifert, director of the Parkinson's Association of the Rockies gave a lovely talk about their work and told us of all the wonderful donors who had contributed to the evening.  We are lucky here in the Denver area.  If you're going to have Parkinson's, Denver is a great place to be.  There is so much support and such a great community. Thank you Cheryl!

The highlight of the evening was when Sue Feingold's son spoke about her experience with Parkinson's disease and how much the Parkinson's Association of the Rockies had helped her and their family. I remember Sue so well from our dance classes. She had a lot of trouble with walking and balance, and very little facial expression. This did not stop her from taking part fully in the class with a delightful sense of humor. The twinkle in her eyes more than made up for any other lack of expression. Sue passed away in May and we will miss her sparkle!

Live auctions are always fun, especially with an auctioneer who is really enjoying himself.  Add to that, a cow walking onstage and a delightful game of heads or tails, and it made for an interesting evening.

The dinner was fabulous. The dance went well, too. At least I can say, I didn't fall and I think I sort of looked like I knew what I was doing. It was about two minutes long and we were accompanied by the wonderful Parkinson's choir, The Tremble Clefs. After the dance, I learned that Private was just as nervous as I was. His boss had accompanied him and so, we had Dawn Faye, co-director of Ballet Nouveau, watching us dance. Dawn is a beautiful woman who reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. She complimented me on my dancing, mentioning my posture, in particular. I blame.. I mean, credit Paul and Carolyn Zeiger, my yoga teachers, for that.

I actually had it easy. If I missed a step or two, no one would have even blinked. I can always blame my Parkinson's.



Dance Walking with Ben Aaron

I was just going to add this as a follow-up to my journal entry, Stepping Out, but figured it deserved a place of its own.  Maybe I can work my plies into a dance walking routine such as this! 

The best news is they've found the dance walk guru.  Look up Ben Aaron on Facebook to see that video. I also shared it on my Facebook page.  Thank you to Ben for giving me permission to post this on my website.


Stepping Out

Plié [plee-AY] verb. Bent, bending. A bending of the knee or knees in dancing. 

I'm still enjoying dance. It agrees with my body. In fact, my body is enjoying dancing so much it has decided to practice steps whether I intend to or not. Lately it's the plié. That's when you bend your knees slightly. The movement is supposed to be done gracefully, but that's not always what happens. It would help if my knees would inform my brain when a practice session is about to begin. Instead, they plié without my permission and chaos ensues, at least for the moment.

When something like this happens, I'm never sure what to make of it. Is it just a temporary fad or have my legs decided on a permanent dance career? Whatever it is, I find myself doing a modified traveling waltz step as I go along: down, up, up, down, up, up; plié, step, step, plié, step, step. After a while, it's not too bad. I can get into it.

This, however, caused great consternation among the security personnel at Denver International Airport last week when my daughter, Emma, and I flew to Chicago. When we travel, I bring my walker along. I don't use it all the time, but traveling is stressful. Stress + Parkinson's = Total Klutz Time, or TKT. When I am in TKT mode, a walker is necessary so other travelers are warned to keep their distance.

The trouble, of course, is the security folks have to go over the walker to make sure I'm not sneaking in weapons of mass destruction in the front basket or the tubing. Their first question to me was, “Can you walk for a short distance without your walker?” Of course I can. I do it all the time, but to make them feel better, I walked as close as I could to the actual scanner before giving it up. Then I was on my own for the next 20 feet. No problem.

I walked through the scanner, lifted my arms in the required manner, and walked out, without a hitch. Emma had to go through twice. She has now learned to not wear jackets with sparkly metallic thread. It confuses everything. I gave her my best patient look. She rolled her eyes.

Once out of the scanner, I went to find the plastic bin with my shoes and other belongings. That's when someone behind me dropped their bin on the metal table.

Grand plié.

Not expecting my knees to bend, I grabbed onto the table. Then the security people took notice and asked me if I was okay. I assured them I was fine, then continued on my way, making another grand plié with every step. Security guards were asking me if I was okay, at the same time I was attempting to communicate to my legs that now was not the time to practice dance moves. Though I continued to assure the security guards I was fine and this was normal, I don't think they believed me. Before I knew what was happening, they had gathered up all my belongings and were escorting me to an area labeled, SECURITY – DO NOT ENTER.

After a moment of panic, I realized they were simply giving me an area where I could fumble around as long as I'd like without bumping into anyone else. They were actually quite nice after that. Maybe they felt guilty for taking away my walker, especially now it had been inspected and no weapons of mass destruction had been found. They even called for an electric cart to drive us down to our departure gate.

Once our flight was ready, we were allowed to board first, giving us first dibs on the overhead storage space. This is when I decided I make a good traveling partner. I briefly considered making this into a career; after all, I have always wanted to see the world. I could advertise: Bring me with you on your next trip and go to the head of the line!

Ah, but airplanes aren't as comfortable as they used to be. Instead of the nice wide seats and acres of leg room I remember from 20 years ago, airplanes are now more like air born Greyhound buses, packed like sardines. That first flight was a bumpy one. There were tornadoes somewhere below us wrecking havoc in Illinois. I turned green and wondered if I should dare move just enough to find the barf bag in case I needed it. Fortunately the trip home was nice and smooth.

Regardless of this, we had fun! I enjoy traveling enough to put up with crowded flights, narrow aisles, and little leg room. Though our trip was for medical appointments, and we were only there overnight, we were still able to see a little bit of the city from the elevated train which we took back to Midway Airport. It was incredible and lovely and it felt like we were flying; only we were much more comfortable. Chicago is beautiful when seen from the train. Hopefully we can see it from the ground some day.

I would go again in a heartbeat; which is good because we're going again next month. We have most of our plans made. Emma will have surgery at Shrine Hospital and we will most likely stay at Ronald McDonald House. Chris will come along with me and stay as long as Emma is in the hospital. Then he'll return home and the two of us girls will stay for another week or so.

I just have a little more preparation to do and I'll be completely ready. I want to learn a few different dance steps before we go, something my legs can practice without causing panic attacks in the people around me.

Sashay anyone?

Sashay [să-shā] verb, informal. 1. to walk or proceed in a casual manner 2. to strut or flounce 3. a journey taken for pleasure

Sounds good to me.



Making Friends with the Mirror

My dad has a wonderful attitude about growing old. He tells his doctor that, with all his aches and pains, he doubts he has more than twenty good years left. He just turned 87 last week. When he feels his age more than any other time, is when he looks in the mirror. Then he wonders who that old man is looking out at him. It's a shock, realizing that he is looking at himself. He doesn't feel that old. 

During my first year of kindergarten teaching, I had a young boy in my class whose father could do anything, at least according to his young son. I had the task of reading a story to the nap time group every afternoon and, no matter what the story was about, as soon as I finished reading, this boy would say loudly, “My dad can do that.” As his dad just happened to be one of my colleagues, I had a delightful time imagining him, in his white shirt and tie, fighting tigers, climbing high mountains, and capturing alligators.

In my own way, I tell myself the same thing all the time. When I saw home made brooms for the first time, I was immediately intrigued and looked hard at how they were made. My first thought? I bet I could do that. The same thing with binding books or sewing a diaper stacker for my new grandson. How are they made? I bet I could do that. I've gotten myself in trouble from time to time because I commit to doing something that I've never done before, assuring myself that “I know I can do that” before I realize what I'm doing or how large of a job I've just taken on. 

This is why I am now finishing numerous craft projects, starting a business, preparing to be a health mentor to a group of medical students later this week, and writing a novel. Can I do that? I have no idea, but that's not the point. If I don't try, I'll never know. 

Watching someone dance is beautiful, amazing, and awe inspiring, and it makes me squirm in my seat. I don't want to just watch, thank you very much. To be truthful, I am more likely now to say, “I wish I could do that”, but that's just my thinking. My arms and legs decide on their own and begin to follow along. I can feel it in my bones. My body decides it can dance and is just waiting for me to catch up. In my imagination, I look and move just as beautifully as the dancers whom I am watching.

Dancing in my Dance for Parkinson's class is even better than in my imagination because I'm really moving! I might miss a step or two and I might accidentally start walking the wrong way, but that's okay because I'm a dancer. I'm determined. I can do that. The music starts and I'm off. Plie, port de bras, tendu, brush forward, brush back. Even the words are beautiful.

Then we turn and face the mirror. Ohmigod. I don't really look like a dancer, do I? Who is that dumpy middle aged woman with Parkinson's disease, who is trying awkwardly to keep up with the teachers? Again I realize how much we, especially all of us females, are taught to dislike our bodies. Really, I don't look at anyone else and feel the need to be critical of their bodies. In fact, as an artist, I find myself savoring every wrinkle and all the wonderful oddities that make each of us unique. As a friend, I see you, not just how you look. I know my friends do the same for me.

Okay, my next challenge is to make friends with the mirror. That is who I am and I really wouldn't want to be any different. I rather like who I am right now. Along with learning how to dance, I'm taking on this bigger challenge. I'm going to learn to enjoy watching myself, as I am, moving and dancing, awkward as I may be, in the mirror.

I can do that.

This video is from our Rhythm and Grace dance class.  Thank you to the Parkinson's Association of the Rockies for the video and for sponsoring this class!!