When thoughts and prayers are not enough!

This morning I woke up, again, to the news that more people had been killed. More people had to suffer at the hands of a man, who should have never been sold a gun in the first place.

50 people dead, over 400 injured! And that is jus the initial report. . . read that again, 50 people DEAD! Because one man, had the desire to do harm. Now that man is dead, and we will never know the true reasons for that desire, but he is not the point here, he is not important, and if I had anything to say about it, he would never be remembered, forgotten in history because he does not deserve to be remembered.

Now every time I wake up to one of these tragedies my facebook feed is flooded with the same words, “my prayers are with the families.” Or “Pray for London, Pray for Miami, Pray for Denver, Pray for Las Vegas!” Now I am praying, I am praying for peace for the victims, I am praying for their families to find peace and justice, I am praying for the injured and the family of the shooter.

But I have one much larger prayer, a pray that this would be stopped, that we can start to view other people with love, respect and care. That we can find a way to remove the guns from the hands of the violent, that we can find a way to live together and stand up for one another.

I believe in God, and I believe that prays can do miraculous things, they can bring people peace, they can heal you, but they cannot bring people back from the dead.

And I believe that God placed us on this earth to care for one another, to be brothers and sisters, if we are his children how can we justify killing one another? I believe he wants us to step up to the plate, and put things into practice that show that we care for one another. He made us people with the free will to fight for what we believe and fight for one another, so it is time, it is time to step up and put our thoughts and prayers into action, it is time to take the initiative we were given and use it for good!

I cannot allow myself to believe that if we took the time, worked together, we could find the answer to our prayers, to end the senseless violence that has surrounded us.  To make it so no more families wake up to the call the a loved one has been killed in a mass shooting. I cannot believe that in America we are doomed to repeat this grieving over and over again.

We need more love, and we have been told a million times that actions speak louder than words, that love is a verb! It is time to put that verb to work, we need more love, more action!

-Rae

 

 

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Live Like It’s Spring!

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Live like it’s Spring. . . Spring. . .what does it mean to live like it is Spring? What does Spring represent? New life, growth, change, the warming of the seasons and the growth of the flowers. The way that everything seems to have possibilities as the world emerges from the snow and glum of winter? If you live somewhere that doesn’t have seasons, none of this Spring talk probably hits you in the feels, but for me a Colorado turned California mountain girl, it gets me.

 

Last summer was the first summer since I was 15 that I wasn’t working. I didn’t work summer school, or camp, I wasn’t working part-time at a pizza place or movie theatre. I was a teacher, on full on teacher summer. I had June, July, and part of August to just relax, do some DIY projects and hang out with my husband. Older teacher friends applauded me for taking the summer and talked about how I needed it to recharge after the crazy year in Special Education that I had. I was excited to sleep in, forget what day of the week it was, and maybe drink wine during the week without a reason.

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That lasted about a week. . .

After about a week I was BORED, I needed something to keep me occupied that wasn’t burning through 2 books on the “Hot Summer Reading List”  a week! I watched as other teacher friends my age went on hikes and to the pool and on road trips. .. all without inviting me. My best friends all moved across the country one by on to the Pacific Northwest  and I was feeling alone. Making friends as an adult. . .. SUCKS! I watched people I thought were my friends live a Teacher Summer like I thought I was supposed to live. But that teacher summer was only leaving me feeling like a 16-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to the prom.

 

Fast Forward to this summer, I am again taking the summer off. I have spent the summer hosting guests, going on one of those road trips that would have made me cry last summer. And spent many days paddle boarding on the lake 5 minutes from my house.

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SO what has changed? And what does it say about “Living like it’s Spring”

Well in my life, a lot has changed and a lot as stayed the same; we moved from CO to a tiny town in CA, I have a new job at a much different school. But I am still married, my best friends still live 1000 miles away from me, I live in a place with fewer options of activities throughout the day, but this summer I spend my days peacefully not full of anxiety about what I “should” be doing.

 

So I ask again, What has changed?

Me!

I have figured out how to live like it’s spring! Live like something new is always growing, something could change right around the corner. No matter how gray the sky is now, no matter how many feet of snow the winter dumps on you. Remember to live like tomorrow the sun is going to come out and you can jump into the lake! I still don’t love Summer, I still need a project to keep myself active, I still would make a horrible trophy wife. But I am content with here I am in life now, I am not comparing myself to the people around me and wondering “why they don’t like me” or why I wasn’t invited to this or that (Okay I still do both of those things sometimes) But somehow my life ended up somewhere I never pictured, In a tiny town 60 miles from the closest grocery store. Where I could name almost every full-time resident of the town and during the winter there is literally NO restaurants open during the week. But I also can’t remember a time since college that I have been this content in how all the pieces of my life fit together. I love waving to people as I walk through town, I love having dinner by the lake and knowing at least 10 people sit around me. I love having the sense of community that comes with living in a place where we all are forced to do life together without our cell phones.

 

My life looks nothing like I thought it would a year ago, but Hey maybe it is Spring.

I am just over here watching myself Bloom!

 

Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

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

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!

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

To Be Seen.

Today I met a man named Gus, Gus had a light in his eyes and blue coat and ratty white hat, he was standing beside the Conoco barely making eye contact with anyone but expectantly watching every car that drove into the parking lot.

He was the guy that people see walking up to them and instantly get defensive, hide that last bit of cash they have in their pockets, avoid eye contact, make a quick shuffle back into their car. They guy in the parking lot that no one truly treats like a guy at all.

And there he was walking up to me as I started to pump my gas, and I was no exception I ducked my head in my car hoping he would pass by. Then I heard,

“Excuse me miss, sorry to bother you.”

So I spun around and met him with full eye contact, finding a man with the tiniest shimmer in his sad eyes, his eyes that said he would rather be doing anything than standing in that parking lot asking me for a few dollars.

He told me that he was staying in a motel, (which are strung every few feet around this part of East Colfax, a motel every block full of strung out junkies, children, dogs, people trying to get on their feet, and even a few hookers. He stated he was staying at one of these motels, with his 8 year old twin daughter, daughters that don’t but could have easily gone to my school.

He told me about his ex wife, and how they are all crammed in the one hotel room, he told me about the hotel with cheaper rooms down the street but that he didnt want to move his daughters again, and through all of this yes.. he asked me for money.

I didn’t give him any, mostly because I didn’t have any. But I did spend more time than the other people around talking to him, I did look him in the eye and learn his name. I did ask about his daughters and talk about the difficulty of getting to school everyday. I did take the time to see him.

And as he walked away I told him, “I am sorry Gus I hope you get the money for the room.” He simply looked over his shoulder and said, “We will.” I laughed and said, “Hopeful.” He simply replied, “Always.”

This man who has so much more to deal with and so much less to deal with it with than I do, this man that walks his daughter to school from the motel and then goes to his part time job that doesn’t pay them enough money to eat and sleep in the motel every night so they have to choose one or the other. This man was Alway’s hopeful.

This reminded me that even if I can’t give everyone money, and I wouldn’t want and can grant them the simple act of being seen. Just to make eye contact and remind them that they are truly human and worthy of my time, we so often seem to step on and over these people, assuming that they are lower than we are for the circumstances in their life.

Gus helped me commit myself to seeing more people not just looking at them but truly seeing them.

❤ 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