Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just grab the front of your board and go.

For those of you who have just met me in the last ten years, you may not know that I used to be a professional rollerblader.*

My dream job.  Half of my days were spent in a half pipe suspended by bungee chords so I could fling myself into the air and do crazy tricks with no fear of getting hurt.  The other half of the days I was on the ground skating up and down small 3 foot ramps.

Here's the catch:  all of this happened on a moving float.  Yep, moving.

So, at our first rehearsal they asked us to skate down the back of the float.  Here’s the thing, it was just a classic drop in but when you got down to the bottom of the ramp, it dropped a foot to get to the ground and the ground felt like it was moving because the float was moving.  This was nothing anyone had ever done before.

The other rollerblader was a girl who claimed to have just won the female division of the national championships in rollerblading.  We both stood on the ramp on the back of the float and the choreographer causally says “ok, let’s see how this works.”  Um… you want me to skate off this... right now?

Well, a couple months earlier I had worked at a summer camp in the Santa Cruz mountains where I spent my afternoons at a skate park that was surrounded by redwood trees.  I was helping kids drop in and keep their momentum going. I did the easy stuff.  I left the tough stuff to Peter Culp, the coolest, most patient surfer kid I had ever met.  I saw kids over and over again get hippers and Peter Culp would say, “grab the front of your board”.  (Kids would always fall backwards while trying to drop in and hit their hip on the pipe after not committing enough.)  If only they would grab the front of their board they would have been fully committed and do fantastically.

So, with Peter Culp ringing in my head, I thought “Just grab the front of your skates and go.”  I didn’t even think about it,  i just leaned forward and committed.

A huge cheer rang up from the people around me.  Success.  I turned around and there was the national champion still standing at the top of the ramp.  Too scared to move.

I sometimes think back to that and laugh at myself.  Who does that?  What kind of person skates off a ramp that a national champion is scared of?

I do.

You know some people say I'm courageous, I don't think so.  I think to be courageous you have to have fear.  I think I just don't know to be scared sometimes.  Then again, maybe I'm just lucky.  Maybe I'm just lucky to have people like Peter Culp in my life who teach me how to skate, while accidentally teaching me how to live.

Find something you want to do, fully commit to it and give it everything you've got.  You will normally succeed and if you don't, you will fall on your ass and look like a fool, but at least you aren't a national champion still standing on the top of a ramp too scared to move.

* A person who gets paid to Rollerblade.  (I got paid to Rollerblade at Disneyland.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stop smiling... it leads to trouble.

I smile a lot.

A couple months back I was at the hollywood bowl by myself.  I was smiling, as usual, while walking up to the ticket takers.  Well, this guy sorta stands in front of me and says hi.  Here's how it went from there:

Liz (just being nice): Hi.
Guy:  I'm excited for this.
I'm a little confused why this stranger is telling me he's excited about the Hollywood Bowl show, but sure, why not.
Liz: Me too.
Guy: Have you ever seen them before?
Liz: It's a french night... Is there a way to have seen it before?
Guy: I guess not.
Small pause.
Guy: Should we go in.
Liz: With me?
Guy looks confused.
Guy: I'm Tom.
I'm confused.
Liz:  I'm Liz.
Horribly horrified look crosses his face.
Tom: What?
I just stand there totally lost.
Tom:  I'm looking for Jackie.
Liz:  I'm not Jackie.
Tom:  Why were you smiling at me as you walked up?
He was actually a little angry (probably just embarrassed).
Liz: I was just smiling.

Moral of the story... If you are alone, don't smile because people who are supposed to be meeting their match from will think you are their match... awkward.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I should change my name to Jack

I find it interesting that God has bless me with a whole bunch of mediocre gifts.

I often wonder if it is better to be a jack of all trades or the master of one. I think you get rich and famous from being the master of one... But I've never wanted to be rich or famous so I guess the way I am is perfect.

I just left a dance concert with a couple pieces that really inspired me to make a dance. Immediately. I've made some good stuff, but my absolute best stuff has always been something I collaborated on. What a better way to stay humble then knowing that you can only be great when you surround yourself with greatness.

And that is why you are my friend. Because I know you will make me a better person. You will help me make great things. And hopefully I will be able to do the same for you.

Now while I'm still inspired I'm gonna go write a movie or make up a dance or edit a video or do a math puzzle (cuz I'm kinda good at math too).

Monday, October 10, 2011

My unpredictable life.

Three things I never dreamt I would think when I was just a kid on a farm.

1. "Green flashes in the sky either mean the Lord is returning or it's the end of Fantasmic."

2.  "I may need to go home a different way because of fireworks traffic by my house."

3.  "I fly through fireworks... for a living."

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Full, Amazing Life

One of my favorite things in the world is when I have middle of the night rehearsals at Disneyland.  There's nothing like it.

There is hustle and bustle all around you.  The horticulture guys are replanting plants, the custodial staff is hosing down the streets, there are jackhammers fixing the streets, but every now and then there are these moments of magic.

Last night at 1:30am, I was walking toward Small World by the Matterhorn.  It was still and silent and the newly cleaned ground sparkled with the reflection of Small World.  I just stopped and took it in.   A beautiful silent moment at Disneyland.  Who gets to do this?  Me.

It wasn't long before merchandise carts were zooming by me and painters were honking as they drove over the cleaning hoses, but for just a few moments it was just me and Disneyland.  So perfect.

I think it would be really easy to pass by these moments without noticing, but I refuse.  I will take in these moments and realize what an amazing life I have.  Whether I'm dealing with heartache or car accidents or the loss of a friend, there are still amazing moments in the middle and I will appreciate it and I will live life to the fullest.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

The best I could do with my iPhone :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do you know how fast you were going?

Yes, i did get pulled over for speeding on my rollerblades.

Apparently, the speed limit is 8 miles an hour on rollerblades and yes, the cops used A RADAR GUN to track my speed.  I wasn't even trying to go fast, I was just cruising along.  I mean seriously, how bored are the police in Newport?

I didn't get a ticket but I did get a stern finger wiggle and warning.  I mean, I didn't even have an ID on me.  I could have just said my name is Slafen Bockenflander...

Anyway, a lot of people witnessed this event and enjoyed yelling funny things like "SLOW DOWN YOU SPEED DEMON"  and jokingly wiggling their fingers at me as I passed them later on.  As I passed one guy he yelled "COPS ARE BASTARDS!"  I don't agree with him, but I appreciate his support :)

Only in the life of Liz Hetzel.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Look At The Spaces

I hate bus stops.

Today while I was riding my bike to work, I realized how much I hate bus stops.  You see, there is always a bench that sits away from the street and then there is always a bus stop sign that sits very close to the street, so inevitably I have to zig zag to get around this obstacle that is on almost every block.

Last year, while passing a bus stop a woman stood up and I had to zag instead of zig, ended up kissing the bus stop pole pretty hard, and flipped.  I was hurt and my bike was pretty unhappy.

So now bus stops are what I dread the most.

Well, on the way to work today I was coming up to a bus stop and I just decided I was going to focus on the space I had between the obstacles instead of the obstacles themselves and it was the easiest bus stop I ever biked through.

And then it hit me, when you concentrate on the obstacles it gonna seem hard, when you concentrate on the open spaces, it's a breeze.

It's time to start concentrating on the open spaces of life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We all have a heart.

I know that you hear a lot of positive things from me, but to be honest, life isn't always perfect.

Probably one of the worst things about me is I have a false confidence.  I don't mean to do it, it just somehow happens.  People think that I'm strong, that my feelings never get hurt, and that I'm never sad.  It's just not true.

This week alone I have had four people cancel on me.

It hurts.

This isn't to make you feel sorry for me.  I'm not writing this to have everyone now turn around and compliment me.  In fact, please don't, instead take a second to remember that every person has a heart.

Whether they are pretty or ugly - confident or insecure - happy or sad - your best friend or a stranger, everyone hurts, everyone has a heart and we need to start caring about each other more.

I challenge you to encourage someone today.  Just go up and tell someone something great about them because you know what?  Every person on the earth has something great inside them and they deserve to hear it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Adventures on the streets of Anaheim.

I've started riding my bike to and from work.  It's awesome.

I rode about 6 miles two days ago (Angel Stadium), 22 miles yesterday (the Apple Store), and I rode 8 miles today(Disney and Angels).

At the end of the Angels game I decided to just have a nice easy slow paced ride home.  I had worked really hard for the last few days and I deserved a break.

Well, as I was pulling out of the Angel Parking lot, a kid passed me on his bike.  No way was I letting that kid beat me.  So, I caught up to him.  We got to the stop light, stopped and looked at each other, the light turned green and the race was on.  I figured we would race a block or two and then we would go our separate ways.

Little did I know that he lived only about 2 blocks from my house.  It was most fun I have ever had biking home.  Jumping curbs and trying to figure out ways to get around each other.  Off roading on Katella where there was no sidewalk.  Laughing when we would come to a screeching halt at stop lights.  Avoiding tourists around Disneyland.  It was fantastic.

My favorite part was when I decided to be sneeky and cross the street to get around him without knowing and because of it, I hit a stop light.  When he saw that I hit the stop light he took it a little easier, but I still had to work my butt off to catch up.  He was on the sidewalk, so I rode down in the street to catch up, the look on his face when I passed him was classic.

Never under estimate me, I will surprise you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dream Bigger, Liz. Dream Bigger.

I found this list from 2003 of things I wanted to accomplish in my life:

1. Go to New York
2. Climb the Eiffel Tower
3. Sit in the cockpit during a flight
4. Sing in an empty stadium
5. Finish my script

The only thing i haven't done is sit in a cockpit... and that's cuz i got fired one day before i got to do that, stupid Southwest Airlines :)

And the empty stadium was actually full... i just didn't think that was possible.  I never aim high enough for what God has planned for me.

Time for a new list...

New York

Paris with my Dad.  (Sorry, there's no sound)

Singing in the Stadium
Finale Page of the Script

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A whole lot of not boring.

Last Sunday I went camping... Well, if that's what you want to call it.

We slept in a tent, we built a fire, we ate smores... it sounds like we went camping.

However... we were right next to a busy highway, and there were cop helicopters circling and there was electrical outlets at every campsite.  It was just bizarre.  It was the ultimate way to camp without camping.  It was ridiculous.

But, do you know what I was not doing?  I was not sitting at home in front of my TV or computer.  I was not lazy on the couch.  I was not channel surfing for no reason.  I was not waisting my time.

I was creating a fire with wood, paper plates and junk.   I was putting up tents and laughing.  I was spending quality time with Gina without the distraction of a coffee shop or a movie theater.

We went kayaking.  Gina played her ukulele while riding a surrey.

It might have been ridiculous, but it was also a whole lot of fun and a whole lot of not boring.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Easter is terrifying.

I'm creative.  I just am.  I like to dream up ideas and write and build and edit, but most of all I love to dance.  When I'm not dancing or choreographing, there's a hunger.

A hunger to do something new.

A hunger to create.

It's as if the dances are in my brain fighting to get out.  There are some dances that never get a chance to see the light of day.  There are some dances that get out and then people hate them.  Then, there are those dances that get out and it's like magic.

Last month, I had the chance to choreograph for my church's Easter production.  I'm sure you have seen it on my Facebook, but i'm just not sure you know the whole story.

Choreographing something like that is insanity.  28 people, 28 rollers, 34 buckets of paint, 12 paint pans, 10 paint balloons, 4 sprayers, and one 19' by 48' wall.  (oh and whatever I choreograph has to be reset for  second service an hour later....)

I had to get that wall fully painted in 1 minute 45 seconds...  (oh and by the way, you don't get a dress rehearsal with paint)...  then you get 30 seconds to get everything off stage... and then have a full dance number...

I spent every spare moment of my life planning this thing.  Listening to the music over and over during lunch breaks and in my car, choreographing, making maps of where people went, planning how the walls would move,  figuring out paint so that it wouldn't look like mud... The list went on and on.

I, luckily, had amazing people around me.  Like Nick, who wrote this amazing story and would sit and discuss it with me.  Jessica who sat with me for three hours figuring out where props went.  I had Renee, Michele and Jessica choreograph sections so that I wouldn't have the carry the weight all alone.

I was keeping up five jobs and trying to do this thing.  By the end I was exhausted and scared out of my mind.

"Scared?" you ask.  Yes, scared.

I had to perform in the show in order to have the right amount of people.  So, I never saw the show. And since we didn't have a dress rehearsal with paint, I honestly had no idea how it was going to look or what would happen when we threw paint on wooden walls for the first time.

The hardest moment, anytime I create something, is when I'm finally finished, because then I have to set my creation into the light and let people see it.  To let them take what I have created and judge it.

Easter is the worst because I have to set my creation into the light for the first time when 12,000 people are watching.

I was terrified.

But I will tell you, the moment the first bit of paint hit the wall and the audience gasped.  I knew we created something that would get people's attention.

You know, I will never really understand what it was like to experience this celebration because I was on stage, but I do know this; it was amazing.  Not the show necessarily, but the process.  To work so hard I was falling asleep at stop lights.  To get the chance to work with amazing people.  To have so many uncertainties and watch God make it happen.  To be totally terrified and yet have more joy than I could imagine while falling on my butt center stage.

In the end my favorite part was not even something on stage.  It was watching the dancers celebrate together after the show in the wings because we had come together and we had done something fantastic that celebrated God and the joy he brings.  We did this.  All of us.  And so we celebrated.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch this... it's the recap of the entire service.

If you want to see the whole dance.  Here is a link to the up close and personal version:

Or you can watch this version:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A slap in the face.

You know how when you realize something that seems so obvious it's like a slap in the face? Well, this weekend I got a slap in the face... in a good way.

What does it take to be who you want to be?

First, I hung out with my friend Matt at Malibu Wine for his birthday.  So amazing... Here's a little video of the place.

Anyway, I love hanging out with Matt because he's Mr. Goal Setter.  He believes in setting goals and going after them.  He has a team of people who help inspire and support him.  That's awesome.

Then, off to hang out with Jill.  (You should remember Jill from triathlon training and Europe.) Hanging out with Jill is like getting a boost of "do what it takes to succeed".  Jill is the hardest worker I know.  I'm so impressed by her work ethic and her talent.

Then, I headed home and watch the Pixar Story.  And something I realized is in every huge success story there is a moment of luck.  I have no idea how to get that luck, but here's what I have learned:

I'm going to surround myself with people who love me, work my butt off, and just wait for the moment of luck.  If the luck doesn't show up, I know that I have done my best and that's all I can do.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To pirate or not to pirate...

Today I literally had to make myself not be a hypocrite.  I tell everyone everywhere that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.  Today I was tested.

They were auditioning for pirates at Disneyland today.  I was feeling so insecure about it because my pirate accent isn't top notch... I mean really, who's is?

Anyway, I had to work at apple just before the audition and got stuck helping a customer.  I thought "Perfect! Now that I'm late, I have an excuse to not go."  But here's the thing... it was just an excuse.  The only way to truly try and fail is to actually try.

I had so many excuses to not go.  I was late, I was still wearing my apple clothes, I had no make up, I wasn't sure I had my Disney ID, I didn't know what I would have to do at the audition...   but I could not be that girl.  I could not be the person to turn around just because of insecurity.  If I didn't get this job, it was because I didn't deserve, not because I didn't try.

I raced to the audition.  I got there very very late and they kindly saw me anyway.  However, by the time I auditioned everyone else had gone home.  I was all alone (talk about intimidating).  But I tried and I did my best.

I don't know if I got it or not, but at least I know I tried.  I refuse to let fear rule my decisions.


So, you haven't heard from me in a while...  this is why.

First, I went to Europe.

or you can watch it here (

Then I went on a hike,

Then I got really really sick...

So, here I am, back on my feet and ready to conquer the world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Three days in my life...

Here is my time line for the last three days:

-stressful packer play off game
-hurry to get new rollerblades
-frustratingly clean out kitchen
-rush through rockharbor dance rehearsal
-try to fit into little green dress

-spend hours hiking to waterfall with Gina
-try to get a dance done in 40 minutes at rockharbor

-get up early to work at Disney
-finish a ton of things that needed to get done
-get bruises from rollerblading with new rollerblades
-hurry up to LA for a show with Rachel

Here's the thing, except for a few things, these are all tasks.  You have to get things done you don't want to do, you have to clean out your kitchen, you have to go to work, you have to work out (if you wanna fit in the little green dress).  And yet, at the end of Tuesday I was literally sitting in LA contemplating the amazingness of the last three days.

We must remember to look at the bright side.  The packers won, my kitchen looks beautiful, dancing is my favorite thing in the world, the people I work with are fantastic, hiking in nature is amazing, being productive just feels good.  My life isn't much different than anyone else's, I just choose to love it.  I choose to be thankful for things.  The bruises on my legs from breaking in my rollerblades suck, but man was it fun going faster than ever before...

Then to top it off, I went to a free show in LA called Traces.  Go see it.  Traces is hard to explain, but I can tell you this.  The things the people do in that show seem almost impossible at times.  It inspired me to be more creative.  To challenge myself to try harder.  To grab a little higher in life because the impossible is possible if i try.

Hiking with Gina