Grateful to be a part of something special …

Yesterday Reese participated in the Special Olympics Regional Games Track and Field events. This is her second year as an Special Olympics athlete. I can’t imagine that there will ever come a time when I’ll get used to how incredible these events are. If you have ever questioned the value of Special Olympics, I encourage you to attend. The joy and pride I have seen on these athletes faces is absolutely life changing. These are the REALEST of moments and the most GENUINENESS of feelings I have ever witnessed. I can’t help but be moved to tears by this level of beautiful humanness. Thank you Special Olympics! To encourage, to help and to give another human being the opportunity to DO and ACCOMPLISH great things, is nothing less than heroic.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are grateful to be a part of something special!!!

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The bigger picture …

This is a LONG ONE but it’s about Reese, my 9 year old daughter with Down Syndrome, and since I am her voice I felt it was time to write this all out. So please read with an open heart and mind. This is for the benefit of someone I love more than anything.

We had a situation today and I just want to share a glimpse of the BIGGER picture that sometimes gets overlooked. Reese is scared of animals. She never was, then one day, she decided NO THANK YOU. She never had a bad or scary experience. One day, developmentally, they just became scary. And that is OK. I am confident that one day she will learn to love domesticated animals again. I don’t care if she ever likes wild animals, they can certainly be avoided.

But let’s get back to domesticated animals, specifically dogs. I would absolutely love for Reese’s fears about dogs to fade away. And here’s why: I want Reese to have the benefit of a service dog one day. They can be so specifically trained that she could one day have a furry companion who helps her with her nutritional needs. AND they could help her to live independently.

Now, let me share my experience with dog owners. They absolutely love their dogs, AS THEY SHOULD! Almost every person I know who has a dog, or anyone I have casually come into contact with who has a dog, believes that their dog is “the sweetest” dog ever. This may, in fact, be true. But to Reese, they are all ferocious beasts. Telling her (and I) how good your dog is, isn’t going to change her mind about any of it. Hopefully time will. And most importantly, HER time will. I truly believe that every person who tries to sway her thinking only does so with good intentions. But it’s actually harmful. Forcing it will only delay or deny giving her the benefits of having a service dog one day. And that is why I wrote all of this down. Please don’t “push” a relationship with your adorable, loving and gentle pet on anyone, child or adult. It is disrespectful at its core and you truly don’t know the damage that can happen if you do. For Reese, and other people with disabilities, it could be a huge factor in hindering their ability to one day live independently. When Reese is ready, I want her to be able to feel the joy of having a loving and loyal pet. That day will only come if her fears and feelings are respected now. Thanks for reading.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you see the bigger picture!!!

Celebrate EXTRA …

Happy World Down Syndrome Day everyone!

March 21 was designated as a global day of awareness that has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. This date was chosen to represent the triplication of the 21st chromosome (3/21) found in individuals with Down Syndrome. As you all know, my daughter Reese has Down Syndrome and she is the most amazing human being that I know. She is strong, smart and beautiful. Anyone who knows Reese will say that she makes the world a lighter and brighter place. Seriously you guys, she is THE BEST. I am truly blessed that God chose me to be her mom!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you celebrate EXTRA!!!

EXTRAordinary human …

Last week I mentioned that there was a project that I had been working on. Well, I can share it now! I had the privilege of being part of a video for Voices for the Voiceless that was released for World Down Syndrome Day! The video was posted to social media today and it shares various stories about the experience myself and other moms had upon learning that we would have a child with Down Syndrome. Sadly, many of us had a less than pleasant experience with medical professionals and faced people who suggested that we abort our precious babes. For the record, no mother should ever have to defend the value of her child’s life! I encourage you all to watch the video and feel free to ask me any questions. If you haven’t noticed I absolutely love sharing about Reese and our very special world. Also, tomorrow is World Down Syndrome Day and as you all know Reese is my hero! So we will be celebrating HUGE!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you love an EXTRAordinary human!!! https://youtu.be/okgcAn4uIEA

Changed for the better …

Last night was the 40th Year Celebration of our local Down Syndrome Association. It was wonderful! I have been blessed to serve as the facilitator for one of their support groups for almost 7 years now. The event could not have been more perfect. The venue was lovely, the entertainment was fantastic, the food was tasty and the guests were simply amazing. It was a great evening connecting with old friends (and making some new ones) and celebrating the organization that has so positively and profoundly impacted our lives. What an accomplishment it is to serve a community of people with such dedication and diligence for four decades. It literally brought me to tears last night. I am truly grateful to have shared in DSAOC’s incredible history both as a client and as a facilitator.

When I was pregnant with Reese and found out that she had Down Syndrome I never shed a tear. Reese was going to be who God created her to be and I was the woman He chose to make sure it happened. I promised Reese that I would always be the mommy that she needed me to be. And that I would make sure that she would become who God intended her to be. Even as a social worker, at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what that all would look like. But I knew that I loved my daughter fiercely and that I would somehow figure it all out. DSAOC helped me do exactly that and I simply couldn’t be more thankful. Without a doubt, I would not be the person, or mommy, I am today without their influence on my life.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are changed for the better!!!

Be still …

Quiet mornings reveal little treasures! I have been a little obsessed with arrows for a while now. Correction … A LOT. And it only seems to be growing stronger! I’ve always identified with the quote:

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” (Author unknown)

This quote couldn’t represent my life any better. I LOVE IT.

And the whole running thing is caught up in this too. Runners often describe running as “flying”. For me, I always imagined that like an arrow. I have always found this feeling of “soaring” to be one of the BEST things EVER. It’s honestly intoxicating. The freedom it fuels in my heart cannot be replicated. Again, arrows are AWESOME!

Then the knowledge of “The Lucky Few” Down Syndrome awareness tattoo came my way. Well, if I wasn’t infatuated with arrows before, I CERTAINLY was then! So much so, that after 30 years of trying to figure out a tattoo for myself, it all became CRYSTAL CLEAR! Anyway, my point is that arrows mean something to me.

This morning after getting Libs off to school, I had some unusual down time. I guess it wasn’t true “down time”. Does anyone even have THAT anymore?!?! I guess what I mean is that I TOOK the time to enjoy my coffee in the quiet and calm moments before I got Reese up for school. And in doing so, I realized something. My “to-go” cups, that I have been using all summer, we’re covered in a pattern of three “V”’s that matched my tattoo perfectly. HOW on earth did I not notice this before?!?!

Oh wait … I know … I was just too busy.

If you know me, you know that I love things like this. I truly believe that these are God/the Universe/Spiritual moments that give me grounding. They are things … NO … TREASURES that remind me of what is important. And they inevitably put a smile on my face and motivate me to look at the world differently. These moments are a GIFT! I just wish we all took the time to notice them.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you find the time to BE STILL!!!

A fun-filled afternoon …

Later today we are heading to our local Down Syndrome Association’s Annual Summer Picnic! It’s always a great time seeing old friends and making new ones. I leave the event every year with a smile on my face. I love knowing that we are part of such an incredible community of people. We are truly blessed!

Well, I hope you all have a fun-filled afternoon!!!