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My Home Away From Home

11/01/2011 - It's a gorgeous fall day as I pull my van (affectionately known as "the spaceship") into the parking lot at work. As sunny as it looks through the windshield, it's surprisingly chilly, but that's only invigorating because today I just can't help but think how blessed I am to work where I do!

Hi! My name is Julie Mizell. I'm the owner/director of Beautiful Feet Academy of the Dance Arts, and, though I couldn't love working at the academy more, I actually wasn't referring to the academy when I said how blessed I feel to work where I do. I was talking about our location. I love the Beverly Plaza. It sort of feels like a little family to me. Read on and you'll see why.

As I climb out and gather my box of new dance shoes from the passenger's seat, I hear a friendly greeting of "Hi Teacher!" No, it's not one of my dance students. This fellow works next door to me at Tacos Mexico. He doesn't speak very much English (either that, or he enjoys tricking me into thinking he doesn't), but from a conversation we had in the parking lot once (which consisted mostly of hand motions and my own confused facial expressions) he learned that I was the dance instructor. Ever since then, if he sees me pull up to work, he greets me in this manner.

Speaking of Tacos Mexico, I love having them next door. Mexican food is one of my favorite kinds of food and since they are right next door it's easy to pop over during my meal breaks. Even though I don't know all of their names, I feel as if I'm dining with good friends. They all recognize me and treat me as their friend.

Just across the street from Beautiful Feet is Bromley Real Estate. I know the Bromleys they go to my church. In fact, Morgan Bromley lived in Jinja, Uganda as a volunteer at the children's home for HIV/AIDS orphans that was founded by my sister, Holly Pheni. Though I have yet to meet Morgan in person, I already admire and appreciate what she has done for "Our Own Home"!

This particular morning as I am walking in, I see Ryan Bromley pulling up to the office across the street. Ryan is the leader of my "community group" (Bible study) through Highland Park Community Church. Yup, it makes the Beverly Plaza feel a little more like home to have friends who work in the same area as I do.

Only a couple of doors down from the Bromleys is the Casper Martial Arts Academy. Sharon Dawson, one of the instructors there, once told me that if I ever felt I was in danger in the Plaza parking lot, I could call for help and the martial artists would come to my assistance right away! Though I hope I never have to take her up on that offer, I've always been rather tickled at the idea that if I was in trouble, I could call for help and a bunch of black belts might come running out of the academy to my rescue!

Often times I will jog over to the Dollar Store (next door to the Casper Martial Arts Academy) if I'm running low on supplies. There is one lady who works there that is such a ray of sunshine every time I see her. I don't even know her name, but her pleasant demeanor has made such an impression on me. I want to be like her. She might not know how much of a blessing she has been to me by her positive attitude and manner, but maybe the next time I see her, I will let her know.

As I head back over to my studio, I catch sight of All That Yarn. All That Yarn is more than just a yarn shop. That's where I learned how to knit and crochet. The owner, Cindy Barrett, is such a kind woman and very patient instructor. The whole shop has the atmosphere of a sitting room and often times you may find a group of ladies sitting around the table having tea and chatting as they crochet. One of those ladies is named Ramona. Cindy has turned Ramona's name into an acrostic:

Really-Amazing-Mentor-Offering-Notable-Advice. And Ramona certainly deserves that title. She has rescued my knitting and crochet projects many times as I was still learning.

Yes, I'm certainly blessed to work where I do. Say, if you have the time, drop by and visit us over at the Beverly Plaza! Learn to dance, knit, do Tae Kwon Do, buy a house, have some Mexican food, or say hello to the sweet lady that works over at the Dollar Tree. I think you'll be glad you did.

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