Saturday, May 22, 2010

What Would Michael Jackson Do?

Who knew elementary school talent shows could be so hard core? Not me. I remember the talent show as a series of pretty terrible (including my own renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "I Could Have Danced All Night") yet adorable performances. A couple of the students in our Special Education class have been talking all year about performing in the talent show and we of course encouraged them. Try-outs were last week and it didn't go so well.

First of all, the person in charge of said talent show agreed that our kids could perform. Then, after he realized we were serious, began back-peddling. He told us that if the routine wasn't good enough, they couldn't perform. His excuse (that we've heard about six times over now) is that he doesn't want the other kids to laugh at them. And by the way, they are dancing to "Beat It," and they are actually decent, on a scale of pretty terrible to adorable.

I will say that the routine was thrown together (by me:)) at the last minute, so that may have been a point of frustration for the talent show organizer. BUT here is a group of kids who are on the outer fringe of their peer group, who don't usually get included in much, or aren't able to do some things and they want to get up and perform. So let them! The reality is, they are used to getting laughed at, but the even bigger reality is, their peers need to learn that it's not ok. Just because someone is a little different, doesn't mean they should be discounted. This could be a learning experience for everyone and even more importantly these kids are actually getting a shot at doing something COOL for once. He hasn't said no yet, so I'll keep you posted.

This all reminds me of a defining moment I had back in high school. It was freshman PE and we were doing a track block, so we all got to sprint, practice the high jump, and throw a shot-put. It was actually a chance for the PE teacher, who was also the track coach, to recruit. There were some Special Ed. students in our PE class also. One of them was faster than any of us and had the endurance of an Ironman. One day I asked the PE teacher whether he was going to recruit the speed racer. With a confused look he answered, "No, of course not. He's in Special Ed."

All I can think about is the many things people with disabilities usually miss out on. Many will not get to play on a sports team, join the choir, go to prom, or participate in the talent show. All because it's not their "place." It's not only about including people with disabilities, but about teaching our kids, and allowing ourselves, to accept that some people are different, but that doesn't mean they don't have anything to offer or that they don't deserve a place right alongside of us.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Away We Go: The Review

To begin with, I'm intimidated by the word "review," so let's just consider this posting simply my thoughts on the movie Away We Go, starring John Krasinski (from The Office) and Maya Rudolf (from Saturday Night Live).

The film was recommended to me by a friend who suggested I watch it without any expectations, so it is in that same spirit that I suggest you do the same. Therefore, I'm going to try writing this without giving too much away about the plot. In fact, the main characters themselves are struggling with their own expectations about what life should be. They have come to a crucial crossroads in their life together and are trying to decide what their life will consist of.

And so, like all good coming of age stories, they search for it. Along the way they learn different lessons, about life, about each other, about love. Turns out they are just taking the long way home.

There were a couple of themes that struck me about this movie. I liked that no matter where the couple thought they should be, we as viewers knew that it was their being together that was the right place to be. Not a physical place, their love was home. I liked too the idea that sometimes the most difficult path to take is the one right in front of us. It can certainly be a challenge to accept where you are at, the big "this is it." But the universe has a way of bringing us around to that path no matter how far we stray away.

So we search and we search and we search for the answer, for that one right thing to appear, an angel perhaps to whisper in our ear or the stars to mysteriously align to make a message in the sky. And all the while the real miracle is that our very lives are the answer. Have a little faith.

Thanks MCL.

Love is: a product of faith

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Love

What better time to explore the idea of unconditional love than Mother's Day. It never occurred to me that my mother's love was unconditional until my first year of college. Sorry mom, bet you wished I'd have realized that one a bit earlier. That eighteenth year of life was one of intense heartbreaks and heartaches. The boy (yes b-o-y) I'd vowed to love forever had ditched me for another girl (and yes, I was a g-i-r-l too), I'd managed to fall in love with three other people, only one of which actually loved me back, so I of course promptly messed that up, too. Angst at its very best (or worst?).

Going home that year for Christmas break, I felt unlovable. But there she was, my mom, one of the only people who loved me not only in spite of all my shortcomings, but because of them. She was someone who listened endlessly to all my problems, empathized with her whole heart, and made me realize that I was indeed lovable, and loved unconditionally. The word unconditional is such a powerful word, in fact it is amazingly empowering to know that someone loves you unconditionally. So thanks mom, for loving me so effortlessly.

Love is: unconditional.


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