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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Amazing Things!

I have tried to explain what it is like to work with people with autism many times. I have tried to explain the beauty and the struggle, the different way that they see the world and the ways that it makes me a better person to have them in my life.

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Here was my post for Autism Awareness Month Last Year.

I have tried to make people love them and care for them like I have and every time I seem to come up short. I do not have autism and how can I expect to explain what the world is like for them when I don’t truly know.

Explaining differences in learning styles to children is something that can be done really well or really poorly, children are fairly flexible and welcoming if they are just sat down and explained things if they get the chance to live life with someone that is different then them they will come to understand the differences in people aren’t bad or scary, but can be beautiful and help to teach us so many new things about the world.

But often times as adults we are scared to talk about the differences, we have grown or been taught to fear the things that make us different, to look at the kids that learn differently then our own and to put them in a box as “abnormal” we pick out differences to make us more comfortable, to find our place. But that leaves us to afraid to talk to our children about the beauty in the world, the beauty in uniqueness and how to be a friend through it all.

In comes Amazing Things Happen, a beautiful video made to show kid things from a kid perspective to help understand students with Autism. I would love to show this to inclusion classes at the beginning of the year and have a discussion about all of our differences.

It shows the ways to be a friend and the way that you can grow together!

Take the time, watch it ,spread the word because when we work together,

Amazing Things Happen!

Here it is!

-Rae

Fortitude!

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Fortitude:

Noun

1. mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously 

What does it look like to have Fortitude when you are not truly facing any adversity, or danger but you are just not content with where your life is at the moment? What does it look like to have the fortitude to stick with your commitments in order to see personal and professional growth?

Almost a year ago my husband and I made the decision to move across the country to a very small town that happened to offer career growth opportunities for both of us. He would be working on developing a marketing department and I would be starting a job in a school where they essentially had no special education program. I would get to design and implement the new program .

We have been here about 9 months and as is always the case, that hasn’t gone exactly to plan. We are both still doing those things for our career, I am just discovering that I don’t want to be the person to design and implement a new special education department, I don’t want to be the person that has to change an entire downs mind about special education. I don’t want to be the only person in the entire town that understands why we need to have a special education program or deal with the teachers and parents that just want to fight me. I have been finding myself dreaming of other places, dreaming of my students back in CO that made my life so much more rich. Dreaming of a place where I felt involved and needed, a place that isn’t this place.

So what does Fortitude have to do with any of this?

Well this may not be the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but it is the thing I am having to push through the most. I have always had an end game in mind, something I was working towards and when things got hard I just thought of my goal. But here, this has no goal. Maybe to set up a successful program, that may or may not fall apart once I leave. Maybe, to experience something new, but mostly my end goal as I see it right now is to leave.

So Mr. told me the other day to have fortitude, to stick with the commitment we made and see it through at least this school year. So here I am, finding fortitude.

My point here is, fortitude doesn’t have to mean that you are facing the hardest challenge of your life, or even that you have been forced to face adversity in any one else’s mind. It may be the most basic problem and yet it can really affect our lives. So what would happen if we all made Fortitude our mantra and gained the stick-with-itness that I try so hard to instill in my students everyday.

What if we all used Fortitude throughout our everyday life and had the strength to follow through, work hard, fight the battles that no one even knows we are fighting. What would happen then?

I guess I’m about to see. . .

-Rae!

 

Love Does!

This weekend magic happened!

For the past six years two of my best friends have been in love, and in that time the rest of our group has met someone, dated, got engaged and married and they are still in love, not married, not engaged just together. They have moved across the country together, have 3 animals together and so what is the hold up on marriage you ask?

Well they also happen to be two girls and one of their parents hasn’t known about the love at all. So we have all waited, encouraged, had the only major fight in our friendship about when her parents would know and when they could move forward. And about one year ago we just stopped asking all together, trusting that it would happen when it could.

But this weekend, they got engaged! Now do her parents know yet. .. no! Will they know soon . . .yes! But you know this really isn’t about them! It is about what love does . . .

Love does bring magic to life !

Love does wait six years to move forward because there is no one else they could imagine being with!

Love does leave their own house when parents come to visit!

Love does trust in their partner through it all!

Love does last!

Now if anyone of our group wasn’t going to last these last six years you would think it would have been them, the strain of simply waiting and the unknown, no posting on Facebook or “meeting the family” in any official capacity.

But we have watched them only get stronger over the past few years, to grow to . be one team that will stand against the odds together. That when one family may be lost they have formed their own to brace the storm, and that is what love does.

They choose each other every single day, and will continue to do so, and that is what love does!

Love is a choice, and action it is a tangible experience not some abstract feeling, love is decided each and every day. When someone does something to annoy you, to disappoint you, that goes against your values, love is the choice to work through it and not walk away.

As my friends move into this new stage of life, a stage we have all anxiously awaited I pray that they are greeted only with the choice of love, and if the day comes that they are not I pray that they remember to turn to their chosen, family.

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Here is a picture from the secret garden we made for them for their proposal!

-Rae

In the third year of marriage

In the first year of marriage my marriage gave to me sweet good morning kisses, and someone to share in HGTV

In the second year of marriage my marriage gave to me comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

In the third year of marriage my marriage gave to me, really hairy legs, ugly underwear, comfort, stability, sweet good morning kisses and someone to share in HGTV

Here I am in the third year of marriage, marriage is still a place I fee like I entered yesterday, I can still feel the butterflies of walking down the aisle, and the warmth of the sun on our honeymoon. I look back and can’t believe enough time has passed from that day to be over 2 years away from it.

But then I look at the way things are now and I realize that a lot has changed over the past two years and some change. This weekend we discovered I was deeply in need of some new underwear, all my mine were getting holes in them or didn’t fit right anymore or were a style I wouldn’t wear everyday .. . not teacher underwear if you will. So when we stopped at the store I went straight to the underwear section,  I looked through all the “cute” read expensive underwear and then went over to the underwear I would have groaned at 3 years ago, the kind that comes 6 to a box, the plain colors, ugly read cheap underwear. I grabbed a box of those and went right back to my husband. He said, do you want one pair of the cute underwear, when I said no he was not upset and went right about his shopping.

Now a few other things have changed over the past two years, I no longer worry about having perfectly shaved legs around him, I also fart and discuss my stomach aches, underarm smells and sores, and essentially just tell him what is on my mind.  So all this to say you could say we are out of the “honeymoon” stage. . .if you must say that. But my marriage is full of laughter, love and I wouldn’t say that the relations department is any worse than in year one. . . I would say it is better because I am willing to just tell him whats on my mind.

Now I still get the sweet good morning kisses, now they may just be filled with morning breath as well, I still have someone to share in HGTV, and now he even understands what I mean when I whisper “Johanna would be proud” when we entered someones house, I get to forget about the annoyance of shaving my legs until I feel like it, and I get to spend way less on underwear. The best part is in my ugly underwear, with my hairy legs an stinky breath, while I am watching my 16th episode of Fixer Upper he still tells me that I am the most beautiful girl in the world.

-Rae

 

 

 

How Do I do this again? The Scheduling Nightmare that is Sped Life!

I did this last year, right?

I made a schedule for myself, the students, paras, it had inclusion time, academic service minutes, and everything else you could ever need. .. like you know lunch breaks. On it right?

How did I do it again? How did I make a schedule that fit all the grades schedules, so I am not pulling from any non-negotiable times so that students still feel like a part of their class? But are also getting the academic and speech, and behavior, and OT times they need in order to be successful? Did I give my para’s meaningful work to do not just busy work right?

How? How did I do this? Did it really get done or did a magical scheduling fairy appear and do it for me and then wiped my memory clean so I felt like I did it myself?

I would take a magical scheduling fairy right about now because I am on draft four of my schedule for the year and I just feel like crying! How in the world is it all going to get done in the time allotted? How?

Other people in the sped world, do your in-service days get destroyed by the beast that is scheduling as well?

How do you do it? What makes your schedule run well? Or do we all wipe our memories clean after this every Spring so that we are crazy enough to do it again every Fall?

If you have a formula that works and doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out or your eyes go crossed from staring at your spreadsheet all day. .. PLEASE let me know!!!

-Rae

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!

 

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. . .