School of the Special Hearts (The Lucky Few)

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People spend a lot of time talking about my “special heart “when they here what I do for a living. And then they double that when they here that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE what I do and who I do it with.

I spend a lot of time annoyed with the people who just don’t get it! They don’t see the beauty, the love, the pure joy that comes with spending my life with children who have disabilities. Sometimes it feels like they are living in a black and white world and just don’t see the color that is all around them because they spend their lives on the outside of my little world with these students. How could you not love them, and want to spend your time teaching and learning from them.

But then I read the book “The Lucky Few” by Heather Avis and it was like I was staring into the face of someone who just GOT IT! She was saying all the things I feel and she was preaching it to the world. She was shouting the worth of her children and all children that are born with down syndrome or other special needs for the world to hear. And the world needs to here it.

That doesn’t mean either of us were born “getting it” at one point or another the idea of spending our lives with children with a few extra chromosomes terrified us; Heather talks about how much life with her children, “wasn’t her plan” she just wanted a healthy baby as all new parents do. But that was not that plan God had for her and once she said that first yes to adopting her daughter she was diving head first into a world that holds so much beauty.

She looks at her relationship with God in new light around every corner of this book. She sees his hand in the darkness in the loss of the ability to have children and the beauty in the gift that he gave her through the children he provided. Because she just had to remember he’s got this. He knew she would be one of the people that “gets it” she would take the lives of these beautiful children he made, and yes I totally believe he made them with that sneaky little extra chromosome on purpose, and she would show the world just that. That they were created, that they were no ones accident.

With each of her  yes’s she learned a little more about herself and about the kind of heart that God has for her and for her children. She continually said yes to the hardest things he was asking of her and gained a beautiful life from those yes’s. She learned something new with each of her children.

I think one of the most beautiful things I learned from Heather was from her struggle to bond with her middle child Truly. If you know anything about this family you know that sassy miss True is the only Avis child that does not have down syndrome. She has the typical number of chromosomes but more than makes up for that with her amount of sass.

Heather shares the struggle she had to bond with this little girl with all the will power and beauty. To most people they would say oh a “normal” baby that would be the easy one to love and fall in love with. I love that she shares the struggles here just as much if not more than with her two children with down syndrome. In this light you can see how much you have to learn from all different types of children, they all open your heart and pour something different in.

Heather opens her heart to God and repeats over and over, “Yes, you got this. . . Yes you got this!” And because of that she has walked into the life made for her. I hope that even when I am staring into the darkness, facing what seems like an endless amount of NO’S, I can continue to repeat, “Yes, you got this!” And walk forward into the space that is given to me!

The Lucky Few the people that get to spend their lives learning and sharing with something with down syndrome are just that so lucky. It took one of what I like to call the “best good morning hugs in the world” The full body, wrap their legs around you, lay their head on your chest, good morning hugs that in my experience children with down syndrome are the absolute best at giving. It took me one of these hugs and I just knew. I was meant to be a part of this

The Lucky Few.

Heather Avis’ book comes out on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st 2017. (How perfectly fitting right?) It is available for pre-order NOW! Go, buy it! Welcome yourself into the BEST club!

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The Elimination of FOMO!

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The Fear of Missing Out, something I think this generation is cursed with. We are constantly assaulted with all of the wonderful things that everyone  around us is doing. At any given minute any of our friends could be on a cruise, drinking margarita’s in the sun. But the worse cases of FOMO for me happen with things that are right down the road, they are things you easily could have attended if you had only known about it before it popped up on your instagram feed. This was the source of the most anxiety for me living in a city, what could I be doing instead of sitting on my couch curled up with my husband. Which is something I greatly enjoy doing, but someone just posted about a flea market in Cap Hill, and that new movie I wanted to see (or like semi wanted to see, or everyone says I should see) just came out. Or I know that the jazz group is putting on swing dancing lessons tonight, and I have always wanted to learn to swing dance. Or something as simple as I haven’t posted a good beer drinking picture on the instagram lately I should probably go check out a new brewery.

I always wanted to keep up with the pace of everyone around me, I wanted to be doing something just as cool, just to prove that I could. I didn’t even notice this was the source of my anxiety until it was eliminated from my life. Like most of the people in my generation the constant assault of instagram, Facebook, snapchat posts had simply become my normal.

And since I didn’t have very many friends I was constantly forcing my husband to do all of these things with me and even though I didn’t think this was causing me anxiety but here Except for the fact that the first weekend my friends in the PNW all did something together without me, I panicked to the point of literally making Mr. get in the car with me and just drive. . literally just drive so I wouldn’t be at the house. But I wasn’t stressed at all right? Here, I am not even a month later just realizing that that is exactly what it was doing, I wasn’t happy or excited for my friends, I would hit like on all of their posts and comment how cute they looked doing XYZ, but secretly I was wishing they would have invited me, or that I would have been somewhere even cooler.

Last month when we moved to the mountains I feared the fear of missing out for the first time cognitively  I worried about the concerts I would miss being in the middle of nowhere the nights of eating out at my favorite restaurants I wouldn’t get to do anymore. But here I am feeling the most content in my adult life

Here in our mountain town there are now raging parties happening on Friday night, there are no spur of the moment pop ups happening  in downtown. You don’t have to worry about that new movie because no one else has seen it either. But you can count on being invited to the all town broom hockey on Monday night, and you can probably count on watching the Bachelor with the ladies. You may not know everyone in the town very well but you can ensure that they all have a fairly similar life that you do.  And that when there is something going on you will know. I cannot be attached to my phone at all times, because it only works in the wifi, at my house! so I don’t need to look at what everyone else is posting during my lunch break or worry about making sure I post something every time I do something cool. I can focus on God, and life and the people around me. I can engage in conversations without any worry of phone interruptions I can meet new people because I am not too concerned with what the old people are doing. I can actually connect to the world around me.

It has been the most scary and freeing part of living here so far, the ability to immerse myself in the beauty around me the people, the mountains, the living where I can count the stars. I can enjoy life without any FOMO, and that has made all the difference.

-Rae

Out Here!

My new backyard– kind of!hume1

I was born for the city, I grew up dreaming of the smell of the subways and the cigarette smoke of New York. I longed to be lost in a city with millions of people moving around me where none of them knew my name.

See I grew up in a town where EVERYONE knew your name. . .and if they didn’t know my name they sure knew the color of my skin, I was the only black girl in within the town limits. There was one black guy and that was it. There was no such thing as anominity where I grew up. One grocery store, a post office and two bars sure, but wherever you spent your evenings everyone was sure to know about it, and that was before the days of Facebook check-ins and live instagram updates of your whereabouts.

So how in the world at 25 did I end up in a town where there isn’t even 1 bar. Well really it probably has more to do with WHO I did it with rather than How I ended up here, but there are a few hows’ to go in there too. So let’s go through a few of the how’s, the big who and then there where is out here even.

How #1) Growing up I never dreamed I would stay in Colorado my whole life, in all honesty I thought I would move to New York right out of high school go to College there and that would be that. But that was before I understood money and how MUCH money it would take to go to out of state college. That was also before I realized that my Mom was a badass and who would want to move that far away from her. She was the reason I changed my mind about college a month before it started so that I wouldn’t even be 5 hours away I would be closer to 45 minutes away, but that decision shaped the rest of my life so once again, Thank you Mom.

How #2) I never really went to church growing up, not that people didn’t try bringing me, I can remember friends inviting me countless times and I would almost always go with them but I always just felt like the outsider. I felt like these people were just trying to “Save” me to do some good deed but I never felt like I could truly be myself. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in God, I just didn’t believe I needed the church in order to have a relationship with him. (This is something I have found out is much more common than I knew) However my senior year of college I ended up at a church that just felt like home, I was finally able to open my ears and probably my heart to see that there was good in having a community to share this with. Why church is important will come into play once we get to the WHERE I am.

How #3) All of my friends moved away.

That one is pretty self explanatory, no one ever explains to you how truly difficult it is to make true friends after College. I don’t think it helped any that during college I met my soulmates (because our friends are our soul mates of course, Thanks Sex and the City) It was like my ability to make friends was broken in Denver, I couldn’t get past the friends that were supposed to be there but weren’t. And when I did feel like I truly tried to make friends to join a community centered around church I just ended up getting hurt over and over again by realizing I was not someone they actually wanted to hang out with outside of our designated times, right up until the week we moved away. And everyone needs friends right?

Who) Of course it is for a boy, isn’t that why all (straight, cis gender) women do anything truly. I have done countless stupid things for boys, driving my car through a snowstorm and subsequently crashing it into a ditch, quitting my job, skipping school you name it. However this boy or should I say man I guess once you get married he is probably a man right? Has only ever led me to things that will better myself things that will make me grow as an individual and as the wife half to our marriage. He has supported me through grad school, my first years as a teacher in an urban school teaching children with significant special needs. And now, now it was my time to support him in a career move we couldn’t pass up, it didn’t hurt that it would also led me to leaving Colorado, reference How #1.

Where) So where in the world did this city girl end up, right smack dab inside the Sequoia National Forest, in the smallest town I have been in where every one waves hello and stops to check in on you. And where we unloaded a 16 foot moving truck in under and hour because people just wanted to help. This is a place that is so full of Church and Full of Jesus that the How #2 is really important and a place I truly believe I will grow as a wife, person, teacher and in my spiritual understanding of community and hopefully make a few friends.

I am going into 2017 in a completely new place where I don’t know anyone so I figured what  a better place or time to have a few commitments– 1. Be more truly open dive into whatever is around me. 2. Strive to be a “Shannon” – to share my heart and be so loving to people that it is contagious. 3. Put effort into my relationships.

So here I hope to share my life with you while I am out here. Here are My Years Out Here

– Rae

The Legacy of the Wolves

Once in college someone said that hanging out with me and one of my best friends was like hanging out with a pack of wolves. IE we chewed you up cause we were so mean. We laughed it off and made a joke about it then, that was probably 5 years ago now, but lately as I am trying to make new friends in the adult world I am thinking about that statement a lot and how it has actually impacted the way I look at myself and my interactions with the world.

I was that girl that when people introduced you to me they would say, She’s is kind of feisty, sassy, loud, bitchy. . . insert sort of offensive word but made to sound nice here. And when I was with my close group of friends I could laugh that off, and kind of play it up. Like yes I am pretty honest, and sometimes sassy but I think I am love able and you will appreciate me for it, and if you don’t well I have this tight group of friends that will. But as we grow up and that group of friends moves away or moves on . . . I am left being that “bitchy” girl that believes she doesn’t deserve friends.

Why would anyone want to be my friend if I am like a pack of wolves, essentially a wolf without her wolf pack. . it is just me and that doesn’t make me a wolf pack that makes me a bitch. And so I find myself making myself small, quiet, reserved so that I don’t offend people and make them not want to be my friend. Gone is the girl that was honest almost to a fault and here is a girl who hides herself and true feelings from almost everyone in her life.

I find myself so desperate to have friendships but then when someone likes me I feel empty because I can never truly be myself or I will go right back to that sassy black friend that you have to explain away to your friends.

I went to visit my best friends recently and met their friends in their new city, and this is how they explained me once again before I even met these people as a feisty girl, but why? Were you preparing them that I may be rude and unpredicatble? That I may say something and to not take me to seriously because I am feisty.

I don’t want to always be the feisty girl the girl that “Is a bitch but you’ll get used to it” I just want to be someone that is worthy enough to be loved for who she is. . someone that is confident enough again to be open and honest and still expect people to want to be my friend at the end. . .

I live for the good days!

 

I live for the good days, they may be few and far between and of course they never come for the whole class, over even two people on the same day. But whenever 1 person has that rare, beautiful shining day it makes the terrible days. Which of course come for every single student on the exact same day.

The days when you are not sure you are going to make it through the blow after blow that come from seemingly all directions when all the kids are having break downs over the fact that they are not at home with their dog or because I won’t let them eat the glue cap or the marker or the magnetic letters, Hell because I won’t let them eat anything except food, or because god forbid I won’t let them eat lunch after taking only 5 pretend bites and pouring your milk on the floor so you could avoid drinking it. And yes these are all reasons that we have had break downs in the last TWO weeks.!

But goodness gracious on the good days they are full of love and sweetness, when you can see them light up after learning something new, those are the days you know for sure you are where you are supposed to be.

I know, I know but how do you get through all of those bad days, holding out for a good one? Because those good days are like the perfect good morning hug, the full body, arms around your neck, feet off the floor kind of hugs. If you can’t get through all the bad days waiting for one persons good day this job probably isn’t for you, because hell those breakdowns come multiple times a day and the good days come much much more rarely.

Today was one of those days for one of my students, she has not had the easiest transition back into school, well really she has been the reigning “Queen of the hotmess” in our classroom, full of breaking eye glasses, spitting on teachers, throwing chairs and a whole hell of a lot of “fuck you Ms. Kelsi’s” but today on week 3 day two she had what we like to call a GREAT day! A day where her entire behavior chart had smiley faces, and that thing is broken down into 15 minute periods so 26, 26 15 minute periods and she was a great listener and kind friend through all of them!

You know what happens when you have a GREAT day in Ms. Kelsi’s SpedTacular classroom. You get to pick the dance at the end of the day, of course she chose the “Whip Nae Nae” you get about 15 hugs an Ms. Kelsi is going to tell everyone that will listen that you had a great day. Because my lovely little Queen of the hot mess you deserve to know how well you did, and better believe you just gave me the “good morning hug” feeling and I need to hold onto that as long as possible. Because who knows what Week 3 day 4 is going to bring!

My life is Spedtacular!

Welcome to Spedtacular Me! I am a special education teacher in an elementary school, I teach in a self contained classroom my students by definition have an intellectual disability of some kind they range in ability level and disability about as much as as they range in personality. I love being able to spend my life with them and I frequently share quotes on facebook and I have been told they are people’s favorite updates so here I will share more specific stories about my students, their lives, their disabilities, how other people perceive them and of course my life as well. I am working on writing a book about this topic so I will share some pieces of that as well. Welcome to my world.

 

Everybody Poops. . . Especially on a run!

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Everybody Poops. ..  Yes this I know my mom is a nurse and I worked as a CNA throughout college I am well aware of all things poop. I have heard all the poop on the wall, people playing in it stories, I have cleaned out colostomy bags, I have aided 106 year old women in pooping because they didn’t have the strength to push it out themselves. I have cleaned poop from the elderly and children. Poop is essentially my friend at this point.

However pooping has never been something I have excelled at, if it is something you can excel at even, I did not! I can remember going whole weeks without going, not even once. But then when I need to go it generally hits me like a freight train I have to go NOW. And I have become ok with this system I can handle it.

But now I have started running and poop I must, in the middle of a freaking run. This urge has become a routine of my run, now I am just working to try and figure out a way to get this urge without doing what I know my marathon runner friends have done and squat on the side of the road. I am just trying to make it to a bathroom and get back on the road.

I have tried going directly before a run but the above mentioned fact that I in fact do not excel at the pooping has made this difficult, so anyone else have any other ideas? How can this poop failure get through her runs without messing her pants?

❤ Kelsi Rae

Lonely is such a delicate balance. . .

Today I woke up,

went on a run,

did the laundry

, went to see a movie

and went to the grocery store. .

I did this all by myself

Which is normally just fine with me, being alone is something I became good at early on in life, I was an only child and my mom worked nights so I spent many days while she was sleeping playing by myself. I famously, or in my moms opinion infamously, played orphan. In my mind I was playing orphan Annie which often involved singing and dancing. But it did hurt her heart that I would so often play a game where I did not have parents when she was right in the other room, but to a young girl who know she was loved playing alone was still playing alone.

As I grew older I prided myself on being able to do things on my own, to go out to eat, to the movies to not be like some of my friends who had to have someone with her, or had to have a boyfriend at all times.

And I succeeded I can do all of those things by myself I can spend days by myself and be just fine, rejuvenated even, so the activities that I did today don’t bother me. . it is something else.

I have been on the verge of tears for days out of loneliness, not for a relationship I have truly never been as happy as I am now with Mr. he is my soulmate, my one and only, my best friend.

So what is it, why is a happy newlywed so sad. . friends. . I have no friends. Ok that is a bit dramatic, I have friends, I have people I would even call best friends but they live 1,000 miles away and even they forgot my birthday for the past two years.

I have friends at work, and from grad school, but I don’t hang out with them . . I don’t tell them personal things about my life, about my feelings.

Last night, I got snapchats from all of these friends, the “best friends” kind they were all either out at a bar, with friends, or at a party. .. and I was getting into bed. And it is not that they are all single, all of them are in a relationship or married. . but they were all out and I Was in bed. . and they didn’t even think to invite me. . .

That is my loneliness. . that I am not even invited, even if I don’t always go if I would rather stay home with my wonderful wonderful husband, or my cats, playing video games or watching movies.

I wish someone at least thought that I might want to go out, somedays I just want to get terribly drunk and dance. .   I want to go out. . I want to be young. .. I want to be invited. . .

My 25th birthday is in 2 weeks, and for this I took it upon myself to see people I missed in the last month. But it did not change . ..

How to manage being so happy in my marriage and lonely in friendships. . this is a first year marriage balance I must find. .

❤ Kelsi Rae

I did not come to play with you hoes. . I cam to slay Bitch.

I am obsessed with this song. . .

I am obsessed with the beat

I am obsessed with the eery sound as the beat drops in the video

I am obsessed with the way Bey’s hair flows out of this car. . .

I am obsessed with the funeral procession standing outside of the house. .

I am obsessed with the way that this song has inspired such controversy in such a short time

I am obsessed with the way that it is so “Unapologetically Black”

I am obsessed with the way my Facebook Feed is so full of the Queen Bey. . .

I have seen everything from comparisons to the KKK to praise for the all reigning Queen Bey,

And all I have to say to them is YASSS QUEEN!

I wish someone was there to tell me that they like My baby hair with Baby hair and Afro’s, so then maybe I wouldn’t have been slicking my edges down just to hide my kinks

I am obsessed with how I feel so Proud to be Black when I listen to it, people say it is such a Black song, it puts Beyonce’s blackness in your face and guess what, there is nothing wrong with that, no one should be asked to apologize for that!

And let’s just look at Blue . .. that girl Slay’s!

Slay Bey, Slay girl!

Happiness Is A Snow Day!

Happiness is a Snow Day!

A day when you woke up planning to, give that test and finish those literacy lessons and fix my CLO’s before my unscheduled observation

A day when you suddenly have no plans at all

A day when you wake up without an alarm at 5am to check if Snow Santa has dropped enough white beauty onto the streets to cause the Superintendents of the world to allow us and the children to stay off the street.

A day when you get to turn off your alarm and sleep until your hearts desire. . .but normally you are so excited for the free day that you can’t even go back to sleep and now you are up an hour before your normal school alarm would go off.

A day when you get to trick your pedometer into thinking you have completely changed professions by walking 1000 instead of your usual 8,000 by dinnertime.

A day for you. . completely off the books, a day of Netflix binges and bad food,

A day that I hate to break it to your children, we, the teachers need it so much more than you do.

From Denver with Love, Enjoy Your Snow Day!

 

<3Kelsi Rae