Utah entrepreneur, mother dances her way through life

57643ea0cbcca-imageI’m constantly amazed and impressed by the wonderful women who live in Utah Valley.

This week I spoke with another accomplished, lovely young entrepreneur mother, Keenan White. She is the mother of five children and owns a dance studio.

Keenan said, “I manage to have dinner on the table most nights and have a clean house 95 percent of the time. I love to cook and shop with my mom. I am very organized and always have a million things on my ‘to do’ list but consistently come through on my commitments. I volunteer at school and with the PTA and I’m active with my church responsibilities. I love to laugh, be with friends and family and occasionally need a good cry.”

Paula Fellingham: What was your life like growing up?

Keenan White: I am the only girl in my family and right in the middle of two great brothers. I have incredible and loving parents who taught us how to work and serve. My dad is a mint farmer (peppermint and spearmint) so we lived far out in the country amidst the fields and dirt roads. It was so wonderful! To this day it is a treat to visit “home,” enjoy the quiet surroundings and amazing views.

Looking back on my childhood, I wasn’t home much to enjoy the beauty. Instead, I was dancing. Any chance I had to dance I took it. My family encouraged and supported me, especially my wonderful mom. She is an amazing dancer and wanted me to find that same love. By the time I graduated from high school I had danced at three studios and competed with a youth modern dance company. I was captain of my junior high and high school dance teams, traveled for conferences and workshops and was exploring dance for college. I received a scholarship to BYU-Idaho (then Ricks College) but instead attended BYU-Provo where I continued to dance. I met my husband as part of the International Folk Dance Ensemble at BYU. Little did I know how much dance would bless my life; my husband being the best and biggest blessing of all.

PF: What is your life like now?

KW: I am married to my amazing husband, Ben, who is my biggest fan and greatest support. With him we are raising five incredible kids and having a blast! I am first and foremost a wife and mother — that is all I’ve ever wanted to be. I give all my energy and passion to my family. Somewhere in the craziness of family life I am able to keep my love of dance alive and run a dance studio. Open since 2007, Studio K Dance Academy is a low-pressure studio where most students attend once a week, focus on technique and learn to love movement. We have about 120 students each season and families love our program and our focus on simply dancing. When I was pregnant with baby No. 4 I stepped completely away from teaching and now I manage the studio from home. I have amazing teachers from the dance programs at BYU and UVU, and they are what keep the heart of the studio pumping. I love to mentor and help them when needed and our dancers love to learn from them.

PF: What is your biggest challenge?

KW: Although it appears I have everything put together from the outside there are inner challenges that sometimes cripple my progression. I have never dealt very well with change and I am suddenly entering a new phase of life.

We have decided our family is complete and that scares me to death. For 12 years I have been pregnant or had a baby in my arms. All of a sudden we are experiencing our “lasts” with the baby and I’m afraid I’m not dealing with that very well some days. It’s interesting to find a new identity of sorts as my role of mother evolves. I’m excited to get to know my children more and more as they grow and their own personalities continue to develop. Each day is better and the joys far outweigh the pains or anxiety. As I confide in my husband, good friends and turn to the Lord for strength I find peace and extreme happiness.

PF: What is your biggest success?

KW: Without question — my family.  I have the most amazing husband (have I mentioned that yet?!). He is my perfect companion. He will listen to me endlessly with understanding and love. He makes sure I am well taken care of from our (almost) weekly dates, short trips away, and girls’ nights out. I also have to mention that he also does the dishes after dinner, every night. He is a wonderful father and our children love him more than anything. He works so hard to provide for our family and more importantly, keeps us on the path back to God. He is my rock and my everything.

My children are amazing — I don’t feel I can take much credit in that. In a lot of ways they came that way. They are smart and kind and well behaved. They have taught me about love and forgetting yourself in the service of others.  They remind me to loosen up and have fun and to see the lighter side of life.

PF: What is your advice to other women?

KW: You can do it! You are enough and wonderful just the way you are. I remember a great-grandma-aged woman commented in a church lesson about her insecurities and I realized that women of all ages don’t feel they are good enough. Until then I thought we’d grow out of it.

I wish all women could look in the mirror and see what others see and what God sees. I am not perfect in this desire but as I strive to do better I have seen improvement. We are truly beautiful, full of potential and wonderful wherever or whoever we are. I feel a lot of the sadness in the world can be lessened if we love ourselves and those around us and share our love often.

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