Color Blind or Color Brave?

I grew up in a small town, and by small I mean white, and by white I mean, known for its white supremacy church and ideology.

I grew up knowing all of the minority members of my community on one hand, and by that I mean 2. Me and a boy in my grade and we were both the only black children of white single mothers, didn’t exactly scream cultural pride. I grew up trying to mute my association with the Black community, a community I admittedly knew very little about. This was not the fault of my mother, who helped me with all my self driven research projects, into the old negro baseball teams and deciding at age 13 that I was going to go to a historically black college which died as I got into high school and realized all of the historically Black colleges were states away.  She did all of my research with me and appreciated all of my curiosity, but she just did not have any personal knowledge, so I fell farther and farther from my black roots. I was one of 9 out of 1900 black students in my high school, and in college the only black students I knew either played football or basketball, And at this point I was already not comfortable enough around people that “looked like me” to approach any of them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I dated black guys, the majority of guys I dated in college were black, but my real long term relationships have always been with white guys, as is my future husband. I can remember multiple occasions when the different guys I would date told me that they liked, or in some cases disliked the fact that I acted like a white girl. So thats what I became, the white black girl. If anyone even knows what that means? Well I do, I knew exactly what people would mean when they say it, and I internalized it. I became more nervous to enter a room of black people and disappoint them, than to be the only black person in the room.

So now I have entered a grad program that repeatedly tells us about being culturally responsive and we look and look at data and discrimination, and the disporpotionality of minorities in drop out rates, and the school to prison pipeline and suspensions. And now I am here, wanting to be color brace.

So what does this mean to me? I need to embrace the color of my skin I need to be the person that will stand up for what I believe in. I don’t want to hide behind the “i don’t know” response.  I don’t want to live in the “white black girl” stereotype. I have made changes in my life to do these with the people around me, when I am offended by an off hand comment I now call people out on it, I hope to educate people about how things are perceived and not accuse or castrate people.

I need to think about how I am going to represent myself in order to create value in the diversity for my students, and for the people in my community at large. I don’t think being color brave means saying everyone is the same, I think it means, everyone is different, and that is wonderful.

When I think being color brave I can remember being in high school reading Huckleberry Finn, as of course, the only member of the black community in English class, being asked in front of the entire class why does the word Nigger still offend black people? The class continued to tell me that, we needed to just get over it because it doesn’t mean anything and it hasn’t in like 100 years. At the time being a 16 year old girl I curled into myself, I muted the feelings that were coming up until I ran into the hallway, found a corner, and just cried. At the time I could not pinpoint the feeling I did not know what was happening but those assumptions, those kind of conversations should never happen in a classroom.

One person is not the representation of a race, one person is a representation of themselves. So to be Color Brace I will stand up for my students, I will ensure that they don’t have to feel that, at least in my class and that they are prepared to have those conversations when people, I will teach my students to see color, to embrace color and to embrace people. And if that is my contribution to the evolution of society if I can bring students into the world that understand the differences people bring and why we should embrace color and change then I will be happy.

I will create a small piece of society that is not afraid to talk about race, that is not afraid to embrace their identity, If I can make sure that one person does not ever mute their identity like I did, then I will have succeeded, I will be brave!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”-Socrates.  “The examined life is painful.”

❤ Kelsi Rae

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Love Your Curls

Love your curls. What a simple concept really. Teach your children that their natural hair is beautiful and it will perpetuate beauty throughout the world. However that seems to be such a difficult concept even today. We are trying to teach people to love themselves no matter who they are, black, brown, gay, straight, transgender. And yet we still have a commercial about teaching girls to love their curly hair?

For some reason that baffles me, I hope that all of these things are taught and that in future generations everyone feels comfortable and loves themselves in their own skin. However I feel like we still shouldn’t have to teach girls that their curls are beautiful, they should know it! When did straight hair become the height of beauty? There are so many great examples of women with curly hair that are gorgeous but as little girls we still look up to and identify with the straight haired beauties.

I can remember growing up when my mom would not let straighten my hair, (This was the case until I was 18). And I would envy all of my straight haired friends, I was convinced that their hair was magical and that everyday they woke up and didn’t have to do anything in order for it to be amazing. And while as I have grown up. And put my hair through hell trying to make it that magical straight hair that all my friends woke up with everyday.  I have found that they while they do generally have less prep work for their hair than I do. They also think my hair is amazing, just like I do theirs. My straight haired friends  This Hair Envy if you will is what led me to start this blog, and what concerns me today.

I cried when I watched this commercial, because I am still teaching myself to do this. Love my Curls; here I am 23 almost 24 years old trying to love my natural texture again. To wake in the morning, look in the mirror, say “My hair is HUGE,” and smile. Say this with a huge smile on my face because it was exactly what I wanted. I still find myself more often than not saying, ” My hair Is HUGE, and trying to find ways to make it smaller.” After a year of transitioning to my natural hair I am working it out, I just find myself not feeling as pretty when my hair is in its huge state. IMG_0689

This was my first successful Bantu knot out and I just cut all the relaxed ends off of my bangs and now have these curly bangs. This was day one I wore them out and by day two they are pinned up again. . . lets make my hair smaller shall we?

So at 23, as a almost completely natural haired women, I am reteaching and reexamine my Hair Envy, I am transferring my envy from the straight haired beauties of the world, because I will never have that hair, no matter how hard I will it to be. And becoming envious of the women in the natural haired world. Even though I may never have hair like those beauties, at least it is more of an attainable goal. And that way when I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror I will be like, ” My hair is HUGE, damn girl, you look good.”

So moving forward, lets teach our daughters that we love our hair, that we love them no matter how big their hair is, who they love or what they want to do when they grow up. Let’s just teach our children; Love.

So thank you Dove, I will: Love My Curls. 

❤ Kelsi Rae 

How can I be so mad at the God I have grown to love?

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Last night, I received a phone call from my old lead teacher, I started as an assistant teacher in a special education classroom before pursuing my masters in special education. There were five adults in that classroom to support the very individual needs of the students and three of us became very close. However this year we had all gone our separate ways the lead teacher was on maternity leave the first semester after having premature twin boys, I entered grad school and as a result began teaching in a different school as a part of my training and so that left just the one of us in our old classroom, “holding down the fort” if you will. We all stayed in touch however, grabbing dinner when our schedules allowed, keeping each other up to date on our lives and texting for everything important or not important not allowing the separation to make our bond any less.

So back to  yesterday, Sandra ( the lead teacher) texts me and tells me to call her after class. Now the text wouldn’t have been any cause for alarm, it was the need for a phone call, which we have pretty much abandoned in our friendship over the past year that began to cause me distress. So all day I contemplated what it could be about, I was worried about the boys and thought maybe coming back to the classroom this semester had been too much for her and that she was calling for support, or about my job positions for next year. So when I finally got ahold of her after class and she began by, ” It is about Elizabeth.” my heart sank.

She proceeded to tell met that Elizabeth, our third musketeer is in the hospital, and has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. TERMINAL. I mean how could this be, I was just texting her about my wedding two weeks ago. She had been fine, she hadn’t even had a cold this year, which is a miracle considering we work in a pertri dish and last year she had strep, bronchitis and laryngitis. She was happy and healthy and we laughed, and now, she is dying! How is that even possible? A stomach ache, a possible UTI, a trip to the ER and now. . . terminal cancer, spreading so rapidly they didn’t even give her a timeline, she is completely, inevitably dying.

And here I am left mourning my friend, who hasn’t even died yet.

I found myself dreaming of her, waking up in silent tears from them, I found myself crying in my car on the way to school, thinking about the future classroom we had dreamed of having. I am mourning . . . and then I find myself crying because I should be celebrating the time we have left, right?

This comes just weeks after one of my new, but equally as influential friends husband was diagnosed with cancer, his was treatable with a surgery luckily and he is on the road to recovery. But neither thing is in any conceivable way fair.

I prayed and prayed for her husband to be well, and he is. But no amount of pray, aside from a modern day miracle will save this friend. So where does that leave me and God?

I was not always a religious person, but I have grown to love the comfort and community that a relationship with God brings me. He gives me solace even when there is no solace available. But not this time.

Now I am just mad, so very mad at him. Why would he do this? How can this be part of some grand plan I am supposed to believe in, when we will be left here without this essential part of our world, of my world. How will we go on? There is no part of me that can be consoled by the ” God needs another angel,” and “It must be her time. ” It is not her time, and God has an infinity of angels. Give me something real, give me a reason I can comprehend for this to happen.

I don’t think that there is one. And that is the fate of those of us left on earth. We are fallen man, left to deal with the pain and suffering that we have created for ourselves, and the pain and suffering that is unimaginable.

So here I am wrestling with this anger, I continue to open up my heart to pray to think if there is any way that God can give me this, just enough time just more time with her then I have to continue to pray. But what do I do when those prays go unanswered? When the inevitable happens and she passes away, where will I be left then? In a constant tug of war with God waiting for answers I may never get?

Does that diminish my faith? Or is this relationship, this real visceral feeling of a relationship with God what I am supposed to feel? Is this this that feeling I have been waiting for that lets me know that God is real and that he hears me and I am not ignored for becoming a believer so late in life? Because if this  gut wrenching anger and guilt is the feeling is what lets me know that God is real, I don’t know if I want it. . . you can have this pain back, if I get to spend just one year in a classroom again with her. You can keep it.

Kelsi Rae

I hate running, and I am addicted to cake!

So I am gonna run a 10k!

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This is the plan I am going to follow. It starts out slow and still gives you plenty of rest days during the week. I will use these rest days for things like, boxing class. and when I have night class ( on those days I do a quick at home Yoga routine.) I also am trying this 7 minute work out app every morning so that will be in addition to this training as well. (http://7minuteworkout.us/) This app has you do 12 exercises for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in between. I do it in the morning to help me wake up and get ready for the day. It is also only 7 minutes so I can work it into my morning routine, but it definitely gets your heart rate going and I can feel my muscles working.

Great plan right, well we will see. This year at the beginning of January, I set very loose goals, loose weight for the wedding, etc. Last year I set very specific goals: Attend boxing classes twice a week for 6 months. And I was easily successful at the latter of the two. ( It really helped that I feel in love with boxing and I continue to attend classes once a week a year later). So as my goals were quickly falling apart this year, I decided I needed to set a more specific fitness and weight loss goal. Now I am not setting a specific number of pounds I would like to loose. ( But hopefully it will be somewhere around 15 to 20) But I am setting specific healthy eating and fitness goals.

For the healthy eating I am starting out small and going to try doing clean eating recipes and meal plans for two weeks and see how it goes. I am nervous about the time commitment that is involved in cooking all my meals each week. But I came across the awesome blog, Broke and Bougie (http://brokeandbougie.blogspot.com/p/about-broke-bougie.html) And she shares easy and hopefully delicious recipes that are made for clean eating. I also love that her blog is very open about the fact that she loves to drink and such, she just seems like a fun gal.  So here I am in all my Type A glory making a weekly eating plan. If I am gonna stick to something I have to have a plan . . . did I saw I was type A already? You can find my rough draft of a meal plan and workout schedule here.  Meal Plan Week .  From what I have found it seems the most important components of beginer clean eating are 1) Think green: fill your plate fill as many veggies as you can first, don’t plan your meal around a meat. 2: Forget the processor eat whole grains and as minimally processed foods as possible. Think steamed grilled or raw! 3) Eat smaller meals more times a day. For this reason I have incorporated 2 planned snacks into my days so that I am not going hours between meals and my metabolism is still engaged, and most importantly I am NOT starving myself.

I hope to reset my addiction to cake. I am not kidding when I say I am an addict, given I doubt this addiction is to the cake, it is to the processed, refined sugar. But it manifests itself most often in eating cupcakes or cakes to myself. I am not going to try and cut sweets out of my diet all together. Like Broke and Bougie states she is keeping booze around, I am keeping some sugar around. #sorrynotsorry.

So then I figured out I will hit the store after class tonight and be ready to start my plan! So now for the fitness goals, a 10k. why would someone who hates running, and I mean HATES running, I find myself wheezing, with sore knees about 5 minutes in and I am ready to call it a day and go pick up some chips and guac. I mean I love working out, I just hate running. So why did I pick a 10k. Well I went on a 5 mile hike yesterday with one of my most inspirational friends. She is inspirational in so many more ways, but one of them is that at 38 she ran her first marathon last year, and not just a road marathon, she ran the Moab Trail Marathon. 26 miles over hills and rocks in beautiful terrain, but come on, I doubt you would see it And while that would be enough to inspire anyone, the best part is that when I met her last January, she had a hip injury and couldn’t run at all. So she literally went couch to marathon in 11 months. Now here I am like, well there is no way on God’s green earth I want to run a marathon. But I have seen those wonderful couch to 10k workouts on pinterest and my other friend said she would run the Boulder Boulder and Color Run with me. So I guess here it goes I am off and running ( I hope).

So May 25th 2015 here we come.http://www.bolderboulder.com/. !

Hopefully this will kickstart and help me maintain my wedding fitness plans. So that where Ben whisks me away too for our honeymoon ( where I better be able to wear a bikini) I will rock it. It is time to get back to feeling and looking good this year.

I will try and keep you updated as much I remember, lets go for bi-weekly updates. Fingers crossed. I am also going to take some “before” pictures tonight so hopefully there will be enough progress for “after” pictures in the future.

FullSizeRender-3A picture from my hike yesterday. This is what Colorado gives us in January. pure beauty!

Hugs. Have a great week!

❤ Kelsi Rae

What is “professional” hair?

First Photo’s from my week, or as one of my good friend who just got married says, “Life according to Bride!”

Marley Twists on the first night. Since then I have added about 20 more twists.
Marley Twists on the first night. Since then I have added about 20 more twists.
My go to style!
My go to style!
In case you didn't know I love my ring. It has been in Ben's family for 5 generations, I am honored to wear it!
In case you didn’t know I love my ring. It has been in Ben’s family for 5 generations, I am honored to wear it!
One of my best friends bought me this cupcake stress ball, since I am in grad school and planning a wedding! And I LOVE cupcakes!
One of my best friends bought me this cupcake stress ball, since I am in grad school and planning a wedding! And I LOVE cupcakes!

It is hiring season in the school district world. And since I will be finished with grad school and no longer obligated to work at the school I am currently at I will be looking for jobs in center based programs, which means students with more significant special education needs, that are in a specific special education classroom. This also happens to come at protective style season for my hair. So I have recently put my hair in marley twists to avoid BC’ing all of my relaxed hair off.

But I am finding myself in what I feel is an antiquated debate with myself. I keep questioning if my Marley Twists will be perceived as not professional and if I should take them out before my interviews. To be honest my interviews are not for a month anyway so knowing me and my impatience with these twists already they will probably be out well before my interview. ( I am trying to keep them for 3 weeks right now, but I have considered taking them out already, and it has only been one week)

I am more concerned with the feelings I am having. How is that I have adopted the idea that straight hair is more professional It is not that I am not proud of my beautiful curly hair but for some reason I still don’t believe the business, or education in my case will except it. I am not concerned about once I am hired into the building. I just don’t know what kind of first impression my curls will make. And that makes me upset with society and myself.

Why do my curls give off any other first impression than my straight hair. . . really why does my hair play any part in my first impression when my personality should be what shines through. And maybe it is. Maybe I am stuck in a antiquated state of mind and no one else is holding this opinion any more. Maybe my moms generations thinking seeped into my thoughts more than I realized and now how do I break that perception? I love the way people are attracted to by big hair and my twists in regular life and why doesn’t that confidence transfer over for things like job interviews?

Has anyone else had this problem? What are the real perception in the business/education world about natural haired beauties? Or is it true that straight hair is still the way to go when it comes to job interviews. Have we not surpassed this 1950/1960’s esc. Idea and I should stick to my ideas and straighten my hair?

I think I am gonna try and convince myself to wear my hair natural for at least one interview! Maybe not in my Marley twists but in all its glory, or maybe in crochet braids because that is my next consideration for protective style if I can’t convince myself to keep these twists around! But I am going to show the education world that my hair is as beautiful as my personality and teaching style, and maybe that will start to change this perception for me too.

Now have a great week.

❤ Kelsi Rae

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The Evolution of the Breakdown

I had a breakdown, a huge crying, incomprehensible speech, blubbering breakdown, and the best part was I had no idea it was coming.

I am not a huge cryer, I have noticed that recently it has become more apparent in my life, when I am mad or upset a few tears will slip from one eye or another but never a huge issue. Even when Ben and I fight it is never a huge deal, I will let a few tears fall quietly and we both continue fighting and no one really has to address these tiny tears.

Well the breakdown started Saturday night, I had class all day on Saturday and then Ben and I went out to a great dinner where we tasted three different bourbons, we had a drink with egg whites in it, and tasted oysters (for the first time for me). It was a wonderful celebration of just being alive and being in love. We got home and began stuffing our save the dates, The first big act to let other people know, Hey we are getting married and we would love to have you there. It should have been a great night, but we both started snapping at each other, and it ended with me hiding behind the still up and lit christmas tree letting a few tears fall as I finished writing the return addresses on the last of the save the dates.

As we headed to bed you could feel the tension between us, but I don’t think either one of us really had any idea why we were fighting. We fought about nothing for like 20 minutes when I got up to leave, he tried one last time to prod at my hard shell, “Kelsi what is wrong.”

And I lost it, sobs erupted and I sat on the edge of my future bed crying harder than I can ever remember crying. I simply kept repeating, “I don’t know and I am sorry” over and over. Ben got out of bed, came and sat awkwardly on the edge of the bed with me and wrapped us both in a blanket. As I sobbed and mumbled speech even I couldn’t understand, he repeated ” It’s going to be ok.” As many times as I could say “I’m sorry.” He sat through my blubber and held me tighter the harder I sobbed. All the while reminding me that we would work through it together, that I was never alone in this. And after what seemed like an eternity of tears, when I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to cry again, we climbed back into bed and he told me that he would choose me everyday no matter what.

I still couldn’t tell you what the root cause of this breakdown was, or really how it cleansed my soul. But I can tell you that just letting someone know that I need help, that maybe Grad school, and planning and wedding, and working full time isn’t as easy as I continue to tell myself that it is was such a freeing experience. And I can tell you that I made the best decision of my life, by marrying this man.

I hate to blame my fatherless past for many things in my life, I don’t want to fall into that stereotype of women. But sometimes I have to own up and admit that it did have an impact on my way of viewing the world and this is one of those times. I don’t think I have ever cried in front of a man in that way. I don’t think I have ever felt that they would hold me in that way and still view me as the women they loved and wanted in their lives. I have always held the assumption that if the man that was supposed to love me unconditionally couldn’t live up to that, no one ever would. Now that is not to say that my mom wasn’t the best mother and father she could be, I never wanted for anything that I needed and she made sure I had a life where I could honestly say that my father wasn’t missed too much. But she was only one person and it is unrealistic to expect her to be two. However I think I can officially say that not everything you grow up believing about men, women or the world will hold true. I am so happy that this particular thing wasn’t true.

Even though I still have all of those things to balance, and I still strive to be perfect, to manage all of these things, stress- free. Maybe that is not realistic and being able to hold onto the fact that when I can’t do it anymore, when my perfection falters and my insecurities show,I won’t be alone is the more reassuring thing I have in my life.

In 7 months I will marry this man and hopefully some day he will ensure that our daughter never has these same insecurities because she will grow up knowing that no matter what two people will love her unconditionally.

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What Say Yes to the Dress doesn’t tell you. . .

Dress Say

For years I have been obsessed with Say yes to the dress, I mean who doesn’t love a 20 minute episode where you get to watch women try on 10,000 dollar dresses, where Mom and Dad just fork over whatever dollar amount it will take to make their little girl happy. I am pretty sure that I never saw a dress budget less than 2,000 dollars on that show, and whenever a girl said her budget was 2,500 dollars you could see the consultants internal eye roll and sigh as she tries to think of what dresses they have that will fit within that teeny tiny budget.

But even so I dreamed of a Randy, of someone that would magically find the dress that was just built for my body, a dress I never would have picked out for myself but sucked in all the right places and pushed out the other one. I dreamed that when my budget conscious, thrift store loving Mom saw me in this one of a kind gown she would fall in love and throw the budget out the window so that I could have this perfect thing,( Now that might have been a little ambitious).

I dreamed of the tears and screams of joy that would come from me, my mom, my bridesmaids and probably the stylist, because the dress was just that perfect. That one moment where you look in the mirror and never want to get out of that dress again in your life. . . (Damn that would have been a lot of tears.)

But I also dreamed that I would probably not fit into any of the dresses on the rack, because well I am a size 12 ( the US average by the way) but wedding dresses just run so small that I would probably be a size 16, and no one would carry that on the rack, only you know those size 6 dresses, that I haven’t fit into since 8th grade. Because again my beloved Say Yes to the Dress taught me well. . what to expect for size.

I imagined that I would have to try on many many dresses, that I would fill up my 2 hour appointment and probably walk away empty handed, that I would need to go to multiple shops and see every option before I would know for sure, before I would get that feeling.

Well it didn’t exactly go like that. . .

Let’s start with the things that did go like my dream, when I walked in to the store my mom did throw out the budget. Meaning that when asked for a budget she looked at me, and said “Well what do you want to see?” And even after that when I gave the stylist a budget she followed up with, “Well if it is perfect and it is a little more than that, I still want to see it.” This from my mom that has never worn a dress a day in her life, and is going to wear a pant suit at my wedding.  From my mom who loves thrift stores where pay 1.50 per pound and whose entire wardrobe was  Thrift Store chic before Macklemore made it cool. She wanted to see the 500-600 dollar dresses.

I also was put into some dresses that I would have never picked out for myself, Some of them pushed in all the right places and pushed out the others. While others just let everything hang in ALL the wrong ways. You know that saying a 2 lb sausage in a 1 lb casing, . . well that was me in some of this professional stylists choices.

I also did have a Randy, and by that I mean I was able to work with a male stylist, he wasn’t over the top excited about what he was doing. He wasn’t in my face about anything and he didn’t try to hard to push his agenda of what he thought I would look good in. I preferred all of this!

Now what didn’t go like my dream . . .

One a budget of 500- 600 dollars was more than enough for the dress of my dreams. I did not try on a dress that was more than 100 dollars over my 500 dollar budget and they were all beautiful. (I picked out a 549.00 dollar dress)

I did not need to be fit into a magical dress that I would have never picked out for myself. I did not need to “think outside of my comfort zone” and I wasn’t too one track minded. I know my body and it looked amazing in exactly what I wanted. I patiently tried on the dresses that were nothing like what I came in wanting. I tried on the tule, the mermaid style, the beads and the ballgowns. . and even liked some of them more than I imagined I would. But none of them were for me. When my bridesmaids walked up with my dress in hand it was exactly what I had told them I wanted on the ride over. They listened to me and picked out my dream dress, fit to all my specific qualifications. ( And contrary to Mr. Randy, bridesmaids, moms, sisters make great shoppers off the rack, they know you way better than a stylist anyway).

I also fit comfortably into almost every dress we tried on. They have rack sizes that range from 0 ( which was the size of the girl standing next to me) to my lovely 12 and I tried on a 14 for good measure. I also was a size 12 in my wedding dress, just like the pants I wore into the salon. There was no up-sizing in any of the gowns I tried on. So don’t be scared of the sizing you will look gorgeous.

And most of all. . There were ZERO tears. I walked out in the dress and took a deep breath in. It was gorgeous, but not tear evoking. My mom, and my bridesmaids loved it, It complimented my body well, it was wonderful. And then it hit me this was only like the 7th dress I tried on. . this couldn’t be it. It was too easy.

So I walked around, made sure I could go up and down stairs and sit comfortably. I made sure that the train would look good with my shoes an d that I wasn’t going to be worried about my boobs all day. I had the alterations lady come to the bustle for me. And I added a sash for a burst of my colors. And still when everyone else told me it was the one, I was nervous that it was too easy.

So like that I entered the dressing room, removed the dress and the terrible corset of an undergarments that you have to wear with them and stood with my wonderful maid of honor and asked her if it was too easy. She has known me for 10 years and told me that ” You are the most sure of yourself person I know, it wasn’t too easy, this is just you.”

And in that moment, I knew. . this was my dress. So I said yes to the dress just like that, no frills, no tears, no screams. It was my dress and I can’t wait to get married to my best friend in it. It didn’t need to look like a neatly packed 20 minute episode of Say Yes to the Dress to be perfect. It was perfect just for me. .

❤ Kelsi Rae

What 2014 taught me . . .

Are you ready for one of those life lessons you can learn in a year posts? Well I hope so, because it is coming for ya!

1) I can make a difference where I am right now. . . watching the struggle the minority communities are going through right now makes me want to change the world. I need to go out and save the world from itself, all alone right? Well that was my first thought, but then as I thought about it some more. I maybe can’t change the entire world from my facebook account but I can change the lives of my students. They are the future of our country and if I can impact the way that they view themselves and the world then my reach will be much bigger than it could be from behind my computer screen. I have learned that the behind the computer screen ” activism” ( which is what I am doing right now, right?) just seems to make people more angry, but if I can influence my students, and make them believe that they are smart, strong, beautiful and worthy. If I can educate both my white and my minority students about what type of place I hope the world will be one day they can make a much bigger difference than I can. And if that is the impact I make on the world, I will be forever proud of that.

2) I have learned that no matter what you prioritize in your life, that becomes obvious in your actions. When I entered grad school this year I was told over and over again that this would destroy my relationships with friends, family, but most importantly with my then boyfriend Ben. I was determined to never let this happen, I was going to do what they said was impossible, balance them both. And I did it! Throughout the first half of grad school, I missed the Friday happy hours, and the halloween parties in order to have a weekly date night and we made it work. The time we could take together we did it whether that was just making dinner and watching TV or hitting a coffee shop on Saturday so that we could both get our work done., and in that time we have gotten engaged, and began planning our wedding so it must be working.

3) I have learned that you must find the people that will match your effort, and hold onto them tight! I have only about 6 true friends at this point and that is all I need. Whether they are 1000 miles away or 2 minutes away you have to know who is worth it, and more importantly who is not worth it.

4) I have learned that planning a wedding does not have to be as stressful as everyone says that it is. I started planning my wedding during my 4th month of grad school. Another feet people kept telling me couldn’t be done. I learned quickly that tuning out other peoples opinions when they are not needed is the key. I figured out what I wanted and made it happen. Everyone tells me about the most stressful months of their lives, and I will tell you if I get there. But the key is too enjoy it. This is ONE day of your life,you have to focus on what is more important, the life you are going to build with your husband.

5) Love is a choice, everyday! This year my fiancé watched one of the couples he looked up to growing up, get a divorce. They made their strife and frustrations very public on facebook and this made it hard for him as we enter into our marriage.Growing up in a single parent household I never thought that love was enough, you can love someone with your whole heart, and yet that could not work out. That is something my mom deals with to this day, watching the man you love disappear from your life. It was tough watching my fiance learn this lesson, but  I think that it will be something that helps us during the hard years of our marriage. Knowing that everyday we have to choose this love, we have to choose “Us” everyday.

6) A new years resolution is just an everyday resolution with an easy date to remember. You have the choice to change everyday. You can make yourself a better person any day of the year. Don’t be boxed in by the January 1st fresh start. If in 2 months you need a fresh start you take one then. You are always making choices about your life, make sure you are making choices you would be proud of.

I hope that 2014 has taught you things you will carry into 2015. Welcome to the year from Back to the Future. Make the most of it.

❤ Kelsi Rae