Cazz is like an onion! No, I don't mean like that, she smells lovely!! I mean that in getting to know her, it's like peeling away layers to reveal a deeper core to her character. Also she is strong and she might make you cry! (joking)
*When I first published this a 6am on Wed 19th Aug, Cazz said "Oh maybe I should have said this as well..." and then dropped a couple of major bombshells that I didn't even realise! That's what I love about her: the most major things in her life she downplays and brushes them off and just gets on with shizzle: doesn't whinge about them, just moves forward. So paragraphs with ** in front have been added.
When I fist started chatting to Cazz, she would ring me up for advice about various ideas she was having and the more we spoke the more i realised that there was a lot more to this lady and I could tell I hadn't even scratched the surface. Even in the last couple of weeks more revelations from her show me that even though we've known each other for several years, there's so much more than meets the eye. We discuss baby fathers, tattoos, raving... autism, epilepsy and dementia. Make yourself a cuppa and meet my mate Cazz, who is #OfficiallyFabulous
I’m getting awesome feedback from #WCW from women who are really connecting with what is being said and I’m surprised at how much people are opening up. Sylvia’s interview last week was so well received and I have a funny feeling that there will be many women who connect with you and your story. We’ve been friends for a few years now and we just clicked. We bonded over our love of Booiaka and dance in general. Tell us about your dance fitness journey. What classes you are trained to teach, why you love it.
I am trained in Booiaka, Stiletto, RaveFit and Circuits. I'm also a trained PT and currently training for my Exercise To Music qualification. I also teach my own concept "Dance Circuits". I loved the vibe of Booiaka and how cool it looked. Which as you said is how I met your lovely self. I love Stiletto as it's so much fun and I love making women feel confident. People always asked how I danced and walked in those heals and now I could teach them. I love RaveFit so much. This takes me back to my roots as I used to dance on podiums for various DJs and clubs. The dance moves, the music, the glow sticks: it's everything I loved so the course was made for me. After teaching all these I decided to create my own concept, something just for me. So far, Dance Circuits has gone down really well with my class and the gym I teach in.
My Circuits group have called me the devil. I like that! Ha ha ha
Recently you've been forced to give up teaching for the time being. Hopefully it won't be too long. Can you explain to us the reasons? I am aware of there being some local politics involved and also the health of your eldest son, Connor.
Yes, local instructor politics! 99% of instructors are all supportive. There is just that 1% who aren't. For me, this got out of hand and it started ruining my business. As you can imagine it was tough when numbers dropped from the 30 booked on to the 3 who would turn up. Those 3 refused to listen to the untrue rumours that were being spread about me. This disheartened me a lot. I finally decided to take a break after my son became poorly. We are still not 100% on what it is. We have had a few tests and there has been mentions of a more serious condition, which is a very scary though when it's your child. We are all hoping it isn't. They have now found another possibility but we won't know until the next results come back. This made me feel I needed to take time out, to be with him whenever he needs me and not have to constantly cancel on my students. They have been so understanding and still message me now saying how much they miss the classes. That's a great confidence boost but for now my boy needs me more.
I'm a huge advocate of there being enough pie for everyone, competition is good and let's all support each other, although I have had to really remind myself of that philosophy in recent times. What are your thoughts about this?
As an instructor in a small community, I still feel there is enough for everyone. We all have different styles and ways of teaching. I have been big in supporting local instructors, putting on club nights where they can all showcase what they do to a wider audience, also recommending others when someone feels my style isn't for them as you can't please everyone. Sadly not all instructors feel this way.
As well as his recent health issues, Connor has a number of special needs. Can you mention them and tell us how it affects his life?
Connor is diagnosed with epilepsy, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and dyspraxia.
The epilepsy he is doing well with. He spent many years having full seizures (falling to the floor shaking). We had ended up in hospital a few times. Also 'absences' which are like mini seizures (could look as simple as an eye flicker). He has had 30 of these an hour which meant he would lose what was said to him once every 2 minutes. Now he is off his meds so we just have to wait and see how it goes.
The ADHD is a lot easier now he is older. He can get very hyperactive if wound up. For many years he was on Ritalin to calm him down but he is off this now. When he was younger it was a nightmare he would smash things, put his head through doors and windows in a rage. It was really hard work:
Sensory processing disorder is a tough one. Every child is different. Connor is a sensory seeker at a high level but also a sensory avoider. Certain smells can make him angry like someone's aftershave. His mouth is very sensitive so brushing his teeth and eating certain foods can be really hard work.
Showers feel like golf balls raining down
If something is high in sensory he can get more and more hyper the more stimulation he has.
He doesn't know how to judge grip. So could pick something up to light and drop it, so next time picks it up to hard and breaks it. His hand coordination means he can be hard work just to form a letter, let alone a sentence.
He has to bang, crash about touching and pulling on things. He cannot just stand there.
Dyspraxia is also coordination, mainly in his legs.
With all this his learning age is very low.
How does this affect your life?
Life can be tough, very tough but I think love pushes that to one side. There have been times where I've crumbled with the pressure and times when it has broken my heart. I've had to leave a well paid job as I need to be on call for him 24/7. This was the first job that fitted around him but when his needs call I have to leave it all and I'll rebuild it again later.
I'm lucky I've had great family and friends around me when things have gotten too tough to give me a break. I think that is key, knowing when it's too much and asking for help.
** I think the hardest point has been when Connor tried to commit suicide. He felt he couldn't take being different and the bullying anymore. It's the worst thing a parent would ever have to face knowing your child no longer wants to live, but there is nothing you can do to stop the issues causing them to feel this way.
** He had been suffering with bullying as usual and came home in a bad mood. We had an argument over something really silly, I can't remember what now but something like not putting dishes away. He stormed off shouting and screaming into his room. I usually leave him to calm down but this day I felt I better check on him. I found him with a belt trying to hang himself from the light fitting in his room. Completely distraught I stayed calm and talked him down. We talked, we both cried a lot. I made him promise not to do it again. He is now under counselling for this. He has had a few moments since. He has held a knife to himself, done his tie up round his neck, but most of it is an attention cry for help more than an attempt.
Has this affected your other children's lives?
I'm not sure on this. My other children have grown up with this and it's all they have ever known. They know he has difficulties so they just accept he does what he does. For them it's normal. I have tried to make that an important thing in their lives.
You've mentioned to me recently that people assume he's just a naughty boy and you must be a bad mother. What has it taught you about how other people make assumptions and judgements?
This is a big thing for me, assumptions and judgements are horrible, annoying and hurtful. I spent years as a young single mum proving to doctors it wasn't my parenting and it was his issues (they told me if I had a partner or was older I wouldn't have had to do this)
I have walked into school where parents have whispered and stared or made remarks like he just needs a good smack after he had kicked off in class the day before.
I've had people tell me to 'sort my child out' in the middle of a supermarket when he is in full meltdown. This meltdown could have simply been caused by the bright lights. But according to them, I can't control my child.
Judging and remarks or just staring doesn't help and is very hurtful. As a parent u feel so angry. You want to protect your child instantly and how dare they look at him like that? My only wish is that instead of staring if you are that interested come and ask. We are happy to educate people so there is less judgement.
Has it given you thick skin?
Oh yes. Skin like tractor tyres lol
**I learnt to be tough from a young age. At 13 my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given 6 months to live. He thought he had had piles for many years and refused to go to the doctors. He was a strong man so to watch him go skinny weak and frail was horrible. Hearing this strong man cry in pain in the bathroom. He eventually died one night at home. I remember that day laying beside him on my parents bed. Being told to spend some time with him and say goodbye. I don't think it really sunk in at the time but it does now. That night he was gone. I think I get my strength from my mum. She always bounced back and carried on and I think that's something she taught me. Got a bit tearful writing that! lol
Your mum was diagnosed with dementia in 2009. How has that impacted you and the family?
She had a stroke in her sleep and when she woke up and didn't know where she was or who anyone was. Eventually things started coming back to her. The stroke caused vascular dementia. Her memory has slowly deteriorated over time.
She takes a lot of care now. She has moved back near all our family so the care can be shared. It is hard now as she forgets many things, who people are, whether she has eaten. Conversations are repeated. You have to have a little laugh otherwise you would cry, like when if you stay over she wakes you every half an hour from 6am to ask if you would like a cup of tea but it never arrives. So you say shall I make the brew and she looks at you like it's never been asked and says yes please.
It's sad to see someone who was such a strong woman, who was the first to help anyone, become this person. It's hard when you phone or take her out for the day you know that after you have left she probably won't remember it. But she has a loving family around her which is important.
We were playing around with ideas he other day- you're thinking of starting a blog about coping as a mother (and daughter) with different special needs. I think there would be many women you could help as your story must resonate on so many levels. No pressure, but when do you think we will see that happen? ;) x
At the moment the first 'story' is all ready and ideas for future stories and interviews are all lined up. I am literally just stuck on a name for my blog, lol. That's all that is holding it back. As he has so many disabilities I don't want the name to concentrate of just one. So if anyone has any idea?????? Lol
Leave a comment below if you have any ideas, people!! You have also taught dance to adults with special needs- including RaveFit and on occasion Stiletto (minus the shoes). How do they react to these classes?
They love this so much that they bug the carers everyday to make sure I'm still coming that week. They are amazing people, they throw themselves right into it. They have performed in front of large audiences. They amaze me more and more every day. The tougher I make it the more they go for it, It's one of the most rewarding jobs I do.
Are you missing teaching (of course financially but how about physically/emotionally?)
Oh my God, I miss it so much. I think I'm going crazy, the release from life for that hour, the fun and giggles, the lovely students I have who make the classes amazing. I need to go and teach a class now! lol
You've always had a cracking figure, even during pregnancy, what's your secret- good genes?
I am one of these people everyone gets annoyed at. I do have great genes which means I snap back (please don't hate me)
But running around after 4 kids (including my step son) and walking everywhere helps.
You’ve got 3 beautiful children of your own. You're with the daddy of the youngest, who is almost 1. He has child too. How have you both coped with gaining an extended family?
It's been tough for both of us, in fact all of us. His son is an only child so not used to a big family and has been thrown in this large crazy household. It's meant that everyone has had to learn to adapt and especially for us as parents as we have very different views on parenting so we have had to find that middle ground.
Do you get on with the mother of his children?
Eeeerrm no. She has made life quite difficult, especially between my partner and his son. I can never give a person my time who uses their child as a weapon against the father. What it causes for the child more than anything is horrible. There are many kids like Connor who's fathers don't want to know or men who are violent or drug addicts. I feel if he is not a bad parent or man then it is wrong to use the child to score points and hurt the other. They are your ex not the child's ex. All you're doing is damaging your child.
Your 2 older children have different dads too. How much involvement do they have in their children's lives?
I was with Connor's dad for 2 years and I found out I was pregnant at 6 months. He has nothing to do with him, he has commented that he doesn't see him to spite me cause I could have found out I was pregnant sooner and aborted him. So really we don't need someone like this in our lives.
Tyla's dad and his family have a lot of involvement. We were together for 8 years and remained friends right from the beginning of the break up. He has Tyla when ever he wants to but he also took Connor on as his own so every other weekend he takes him too which is nice for Connor that he has had that consistent male.
It's really very common now but when they where you were younger did you face prejudice over having children with different fathers?
Although it's common, to be honest you still face it now. I'm lucky that I can say all 3 came out of long term relationships. But I don't think that prejudice will every change. It's the one thing people can use if they have nothing else.
You used to be a raver (oowa oowa) and still are at heart- teaching RaveFit was a foregone conclusion! Tell me what the rave scene meant to you and the place it holds in your heart.
That scene was so much fun. We would dance all night. It was my youth and what a remember of my youth and the great people I met, some of which are still some of my closest friends. There was never any attitude in clubs. Everyone was there for the same thing the love of music and dance and each other (lots of I love u mans lol)
You're still a rebel though. You're about to get a tattoo done. What will the design be and what other tattoos do you have?
Ha ha ha, the rebel will never leave. It's to do with my love of dance. It will be a pin up girl, hip hop style with graffiti. Also something rave inspired in there with a smiley face, dust mask and of course glow sticks. Not sure how it's all going to go together but will give you a pic once I know.
I have a scorpion on my spine, a panther on my shoulder, a Japanese symbol on my arm, a heart on my thigh, and a West Ham tattoo on my other arm.
What do they mean to you - I can guess what the West Ham one means!?
The scorpion for Scorpio, the panther was my first when I was a teenager. That and the symbol don't really mean anything but I still like them. The heart is a very personal one!!!!!!
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Wow, erm CALM DOWN. I was a nightmare teenager. I was definitely a wild child. If I'm completely honest I'd say calm it and lay off being so reckless. But I don't regret it as its made me who I am today and made me very street wise when it comes to my kids (they won't get away with anything as I've done it all!)
I'd known you a long time before I realised anything about Connor's situation, you just take it all in your stride. You're a very strong, independent woman. What would be your advice to other mums who don't feel so strong, who maybe have the odd wobble!
We all have the odd wobble. As strong as I am I still do. If I don't take it in my stride I would of lost it by now.
Take time to walk away when you need it, don't feel guilty about saying I need time out everyone does.
The biggest advice is to ask for help when you need it and if you have no one to ask find an organisation who will.
Don't let the little things bother you. So much goes over my head, the little arguments or things the kids have done. If you stress over everything you will only effect yourself.
And remind yourself why u do it, cause you love them.
Thanks so much for this incredible interview, Cazz. If anyone out there connects with Cazz, LEAVE A COMMENT, SHARE, REPOST and send us your suggestions for Cazz's blog title! COMMENT BELOW. I'm sure you will all agree with me that Cazz is #OfficiallyFabulous!