Sunday, April 27, 2014

Leading By Example

I recently read an article that said Self Esteem is important in our children with Down syndrome.  That, as parents, we need to remember to encourage and praise our children for their efforts and hard work.  Without that encouragement, and consequent building up of self-esteem, our children might be harder hit when confronted with individuals that are negative and hurtful in regards to their being born with Down syndrome.

Now, let me make it perfectly clear, I don’t have an issue with this article or any complaints.  I do ask this though, isn’t self-esteem an issue for any child?  We strive, time and again, to have our children with Down syndrome viewed as typical, normal, average, etc.  And we advocate for the awareness that our children might be differently-abled, but they are not un-abled.  Then, why do we need to point out that it is ever important that our children, because of their Down syndrome, be built up with self-esteem?

Here is how I look at it, and remember, it only one opinion, my opinion. 

Cora is not my only child.  She is the fifth in a line of kiddos and while she is the youngest and DOES have Down syndrome, I don’t find myself raising her different from my other kiddos in terms of building up her self-confidence, her self-esteem and her self-awareness.  

 My son, who is the fourth in birth line, has three older sister and Cora and myself in the household.  He is surrounded by women!!  He is working on growing into a handsome young man with a gentle heart, has an unshaken love for the Creator.  Phoenix believes that all things are possible and judgment from him should be the last thing he offers anyone.  He has, at times, been bullied as this has been viewed as a weakness by his other male classmates.  We worked through that, we stood strong and I continued to encourage him and build him up with his own beliefs.  

My children understand what it means to be a strong individual, to stand up for themselves and to stand for others in need of encouragement.  Without asking her too,  I often see Cora stumble her way over to a child who is sad, sit down next to them and pat their backs.  This is an act of self-esteem.  She doesn’t doubt her ability to offer comfort.

I have seen her walk over to my mother who is struggling to get her leg over the baby gate and lift my mother’s leg, while making all kinds of funny groaning noises and then clap when the two of them succeed in getting the leg over the gate.  This is self-confidence.  She doesn’t doubt her ability to offer a helping hand and knows she will have the strength needed to accomplish it.

You see, I don’t think we necessarily need to focus on self-esteem in our children.  We can prepare them through our examples and our encouragement.  That, in itself, teaches them how to be strong.  It allows them the ability to turn away from the meanies in this world and toward the encouragers.  Not without a little bruise of course, but doesn't that come with any emotional growth?

You become what you are surrounded by.  If you are surrounded by negative comments, thoughts and actions pretty soon you will become bitter, resentful and angry.  If you are surrounded by positive comments, encouragement and solid behaviors you will naturally obtain all the “self” behaviors needed to conquer the world.

Keep exhibiting the behaviors you would like to see your child have and they will naturally pick up on those strengths, and become empowered in their own way.

As for yourself, if you are lacking any of the “selfs”, look around you.  Maybe it’s time to change some of the people that surround you, so that you to can become what you want to be, what you need to be, in order to gather some of the "selfs" too you.

Blessings too you,
K.K. Head

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cora's journey offers Kinship

During this journey with Cora I have continually been amazed, even astounded, at the Life Lessons I am gifted with.  Some of those, no, most of those lessons are taught to me by Cora herself.  However, yesterday I was rewarded with an opportunity that presented itself. 

I was Easter shopping for my kiddos with my mom and I was having a wonderful time.  Mom and I were wondering the aisle, talking and chatting, preparing for the Easter holiday that fast approaches. 

We traversed our way to the electronics aisle.  One of my daughters, although grown and in her twenties still loves a certain Disney character and we were looking for the latest movie as a gift for her.  I was completely engrossed in reading all the titles of the new releases when I glanced up and saw a woman pushing her buggy past.  “I think children movie over here” she said in broken but good English.  Aha, that is where I need to look for the movie!  I followed her and we both came to the appropriate aisle.  It was then she turned her buggy around and I noticed the child in the basket part of the buggy.  My eyes locked on a beautiful young girl with brown slightly slanted eyes, folded over angelic ears and long black hair tucked behind those wonderful ears. 

My breath caught as I was hit with the knowledge that she was born with Down syndrome.  This little girl was about 8 years old and had the most wondrous smile as she looked at me and then shyly tucked her chin.  

“Hello beautiful, how are you today?” I asked her gently. 
“Hello, Good.” She replied.  

The mother turned from her perusing of the movies and looked at me.  I knew that look.  The guarded but friendly look that instantly checks to see if her child is being greeted with genuine love and compassion, or bug eyed interest and barely veiled judgment.  I smiled at the woman and greeted her as well.
I explained that my daughter had been born with Down syndrome , was three years old, and it always warmed my heart to see children older than her as it gave me hope and goals for Cora’s future.  I quickly told her of how Cora had changed my life and the life of her siblings, and the woman spoke to me with excitement of her own, “They take big thing and make so small.  They change way to look at things”.  Despite the subtle language barrier we talked with each other for a few minutes.  Happily talking of the future we wanted for our daughters. 

 “Mama, I found it!” an enthusiastic voice interrupted us.  We both laughed at the happiness that was evident on her daughters face as she had found the movie she was looking for.I took that moment to politely excuse myself.  The woman looked at me and hugged me tightly and I hugged her back, envelope by the feeling that I was parting from a loved one who would be lost to me for years to come.  Her eyes filled with tears as she said to me, “Love her, that all, just love her.”  I smiled and told her, “Bless you and your Earth Angel.” I walked away smiling and feeling blessed by the encounter.

I am amazed and enthralled with the instant connection that I often feel with other mothers.  It happens time and again, no matter where I am or what I am doing, when I see a mother who also has a child with Down syndrome the connection is instantaneous.  We are drawn together like magnets and quickly become engrossed in sharing our stories and in the encouragement of each other.  No, it’s stronger than an instant connection.  It is a kinship!  A kinship that crosses cultural barriers and beliefs and binds two mother’s souls with complete understanding and acceptance of one another.  

I am grateful for the blessing I was again granted yesterday. The gift of kinship and understanding that comes from another parent who is EXACTLY in the same shoes that I am wearing.  

Have you felt this kinship with others?  Has your day been blessed by someone who is in the same situation as yourself?  Have you taken the initiative and started a conversation that you normally would not?  These are all opportunities for growth and blessings.  Take that leap of faith the next time you feel the nudge to say hello.  The blessing you may be granted just might change your life, maybe even your outlook.  You might be blessed with the encouragement to continue the journey your currently travel.  

K.K. Head

Friday, March 28, 2014

Extra Compassion Gene

I saw this picture posted on a popular facebook page and it instantly hit me, like a 2x4 board straight to the side of the head, this could be talking about a person who was born with Down syndrome!

My Cora often displays the ability to love without expectations.  She doesn't care how you look or what are you doing, if she feels you are in the need of a hug she is going to hug you.  When she sees someone crying she instantly shows compassion, will sigh heavily and sign "Sad".  She doesn't hug the person while looking for a reward or word of gratitude, she doesn't expect it, she gives freely the love and compassion she feels for another human being who is visibly in distress.

Cora, despite many things I have read about children and people with Down syndrome, does not display any manipulative behaviors. ( Behaviors that often focus on the acquirement of some item and a calculated way of behaving to acquire said item.)  She doesn't manipulate me into getting her own way.  I have found that Cora very deliberately makes sure I have eye contact with her while she signs her want/need for me and then waits for my answer.  If is say "no", as a typical three year old she will ask again.  "No" is again her answer.  This may happen three or four times, but eventually we will arrive at the agreed upon answer and Cora will move on to something else.  She behaves like my other children did when they were three years old.

In my third book (Uplifting Down syndrome - K.K. Head ( I write about the experience I had with Cora in the restaurant shortly after her birth.  In seeing that posted picture I was again reminded of the encounter, about heaven on earth.

Living without expectations, calculations and specific ideas of how things should happen and need to happen is definitely living within heaven on earth. By doing this, we are practicing the art of letting go of EGO.  An accepted acronym for the word EGO = Edging God Out.  When we become focused on our own gains, instead of how we might give to another, we edge any spiritual growth or blessings out of our lives.

Is there a situation in your life you need to let go of?  Are you running around banging your head up against a wall trying to MAKE things happen instead of having faith that what needs to happen will?  Do you live with expectations, calculating your next move, negotiating the move of others around you?  Do you manipulate things, fighting and trying to achieve a certain end result?

If so, take a lesson from Cora and that beautiful third chromosome that I have come to believe is the compassion -nonjudgmental-love-acceptance gene and just let go.  Live in the moment, instead of planning for it, and see how much your life starts to feel like heaven on earth.

Love and Blessings,
K.K. Head
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Life Changing View

World Down Syndrome day has come and gone again.  Another year passed and another year spent advocating and raising awareness for Cora's future.  The passing of World Down syndrome day every year has taken on a new meaning for me.

You see, a little over three years ago I didn't even know this day and this kind of world wide celebration existed.  But alas, it did and it does.

Recently we went to the World Down Syndrome day celebration.  To get there we had to drive three hours, one way, to attend the party.  Offering Cora the opportunity to play and be around children who are like minded is worth the six hours of driving time.  I watched Cora walking from one activity to the next and heard the many comments on how much she has grown and how great she is walking compared to last time everyone had seen her.  Her ability to adapt in an environment full of running, playing and yelling children had me standing in awe of her.  She adapted, climbed, walked, played and wrestled. 

Cora has reached milestones that many believed she would never achieve.  One thing this journey has taught me is; never count anyone out until they count themselves done.  Cora rarely, if ever, gives up on achieving what has gained her focus.

I have also learned this Down syndrome journey isn't one to be taken lightly.  If you don't want to grow emotionally, spiritually and, yes, even in your own maturity level, than it is not one for you to take.  If you are open and willing to the lessons your child with Down syndrome will offer you, than climb on and strap yourself in because it is going to be one heck of a ride.  Never a straight road, always twisting and turning, dipping and flowing, but always - yes always- ending up at the destination you wanted to arrive at.

You see, Cora continues to teach me that doing things the usual way, or the normal (detest that way of explanation) way ,even the expected way of achieving things, is truly not the only way.  She can achieve the required result with ten different ways of doing it and the end result usually involves laughter, levity and down right hysterical moments.  Yet, her attempts resulted in her achieving the exact goal that was needed from her.

How are you doing in your life today?  Are you achieving the result you desired while looking at all the possible ways you might achieve it?  Or are you fixated on one goal and one way of doing it and ,therefore, feel like you are butting your head against a wall.

I write in my new book about using the definition "Differently Abled" for Cora , rather than the traditional definition of "Dis Abled".  Maybe, right now in your life, the lesson is for you to become more "Differently Abled" to achieve your dreams, instead of "One kind of Abled".

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Changing playgrounds

When reading a poster it made it sound  so  simple. The poster stated:  What you put into this life you will get back out of it.  If you are happy you will be surrounded by happy people.  If you are kind you will be surrounded by kind people.

I liked the poster and even believe in some of what it says.  Yet, I also think the poster implies that it is as easy as believing and not having to work for it.

On this journey with Cora I have found, and you have read it here before, that there are times when people are kindly dismissed from our lives.  No matter how happy, kind, caring and prayerful I am with that person their negativity and complaining just seemed to bring me down.  Cora greets everyone with a smile and a friendly "Hello".  This is usually reciprocated with a huge smile back, a hug even or maybe a kiss on her cheek.  There are also times when she is not met with kindness, caring words or happiness.

As the poster stated:  I can fill Cora's life with happiness and positiveness if I believe it.  This is true.  As I stand in faith and happiness it also give me the ability to politely dismiss "pissy poopy" people from our lives.

It really comes down to this:  

 Remember, in order to draw into your life that which you put out, you must also consider the people you share your life with. Allowing people in your life that continually cause turmoil or chaos, no matter how blessed you treat them, will continue to allow that negativity to participate in your life. In order to maintain a sense of peace and allow the "that which you put out will come back too you" way of things to work, you must be willing to allow some people to be less involved in your life. Love them from a distance, send them prayers or blessings yet limit the amount of time you physically and emotionally spend with them. In order for your life to change you must sometimes change your playgrounds and the ones you play with.

A lesson that Cora and this journey continually reminds me of.  Blessings to y'all today.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Happy "Button"

As Cora gets older, many of her behaviors and emotions are maturing.  I find it humbling as I look back through the three years of her life, and see her accomplishments and activities. I am humbled by the perseverance and positive attitude that seems to be an inborn trait of hers.  There is no such thing as "can't do" in her vocabulary, tenaciously working at figuring out whatever has caught her attention.

In the last few days, Facebook has posted these little one minute videos reviewing a persons posts since they started using their services.  Mine was filled with Cora pictures and Cora accomplishments.  While I watched that video I was brought to tears of joy, and I was again humbled.  I watched her age progression and body development in that short one minute video and I was filled with an overflowing amount of gratitude and pride.  That feeling showed itself in the form of tears.

Seems like there are a great deal of tears in this house lately.  Now, don't get worried.  I am talking about tears of happiness, gratitude and yes, even tears of faith and abundance.  How does one cry tears of abundance?  With laughter.

I started today's blog post with the intention of coming to this point...laughter.  Cora's maturity level has now included laughter.  Laughter at the silliest things.  A full belly, tear inducing, breath stealing kind of laughter.  She hasn't had this in the past three years.  There was always little nasally giggly quiet laughter.  All of a sudden she can laugh with the best of us.  And laugh we do.

I am again granted a gift on this journey and that gift has been the laughter of Cora.  She can turn the most somber moment into a game of laughter and play.  That is a gift most professional comedians long to have, and Cora does it without inhibiting her laughter.  A pure, full belly, breath stealing laughter that is instantly contagious.

I ask you this, "How long has it been since you laughed or giggled?".  Has it been some time since you laughed so hard tears came to your eyes and you fought for the breath to laugh again?  Take a note from Cora and just let go.  Look around you and smile and laugh at the wonder of everything.  Be humbled enough to embrace laughter and not worry about who is looking or listening.  Be yourself and love yourself enough to offer the gift of happiness.  When you laugh that kind of laughter your life is filled with abundance of happiness and the faith it will happen again.

Spend this day in laughter.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Self-promotion Saturday

The reviews are coming in on the newest book! I am so excited, yet, at the same time, I am filled with humility and gratitude.  I am humbled enough to hesitate to self promote as much as I need to without seeming like I am continually "tooting" my own horn.  I am filled with gratitude that this life with Down syndrome is teaching me many Life Lessons.  Those lessons are taught in the form of a pint sized, 3 foot, blue eyed, strawberry blond, chatty patty, hugging baby girl. 

As I continue to travel this road with Cora I will continue to share the Life Lessons I am learning.  In hopes they will ease the path for other travelers on this journey, or maybe ease the path for those whose lives are touched with moments of chaos, hardships or trials that have nothing to do with Down syndrome.

With that, I have dubbed today Self-promotion Saturday!

Blessings my friends