Smile

Social media can be a powerful tool. Social media can serve as a platform to share your life with the hopes of inspiring others. I was able to connect with this week’s writer, Kayla, after being touched and inspired by her posts. I selected the genius “message” tab and asked Kayla if she’d be willing to share about her son on the blog. She graciously said yes. The privilege of connecting with those who have or love someone with extra abilities continues to humble me to my core. Further proof that Through connection we can overcome the label of disability and unleash our true abilities.

Meet Jagger:

Jagger is a uniquely wonderful human being to whom I have the honor of calling my son. His ability to make you smile even when you’re having a bad day is something very special and how even though hitting milestones doesn’t come easy, he doesn’t stop trying to figure out how to do things.

He has taught our family the ability to smile even when times get tough, that there is so much beauty in the unexpected. And to be patient, things will come with time and effort.

If there is one thing people could learn from my son is, when facing adversity, never give up, and just keep smiling because things will get better!

Thank you Kayla!

You can keep up with their journey by following @kayladine on Instagram!

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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What Counts

This week’s story is brought to you by Aaron’s Aunt Red, also known as “Red”.

Please enjoy the story:

Sometimes I think the more the heart in my chest fights and pushes against my weaknesses or blah days, the closer I am to my spiritual “what counts”  self.  I said SOMETIMES.

But glimmers of “what counts” come from my nephew Aaron at ALL TIMES. I said ALL TIMES.I know this because I am an expert! An expert at being Aunt Red hanging out with Nephew Aaron! Aaron is a glimmer, a shine, a twinkle, a light. However you put it, he is  “what counts.”

Recently, he reminded me of this:

One night, while loading 2 days worth of dirty dishes into my worn out dishwasher that makes noise on the sanitize cycle, I thought about people who I lost touch with, and tried to reconnect with …and no reply for one reason or another. Life happens but I am very popular with myself —shouldn’t everyone answer?

I felt sorry for myself. It’s genetic. I’m Irish. I was taking in my 5-minute lament. I should have jumped into that noisy dishwasher for a mental wash— and sanitize on the ‘Quit feeling sorry for yourself’ cycle.

The next day at work, a call came in on my cell that I wanted to take but couldn’t. I listened to the message from Aaron ona break: “Siiiissssay! (Pause) Siiiiiisssay! IT’S AARON! Hi. Cheese fart. How’s your day? It’s cold here. (Pause). I love you. Bye.” The sting of disconnect was gone. And we have a joke as old as the ages (me) about cheese farts.

Aaron’s message was a glimmer of “what counts” from his voice of strength, love and determination. We caught up on FaceTime soon after. My nephew Aaron’s family tells me he checks in with everyone. I’m happy to be on his list! But the timing of when he checked in with me that day was too coincidental not to believe it went from my sappy selfie lament to his happy ears. Aaron’s mother, my sister (sssiiiissaay), says, “I don’t believe in winki dinks” – it’s more than a coincidence. Aaron’s message was more than a coincidence. It was meant to be.

I believe in  “what counts.” Aaron is ALWAYS  “what counts” in this world.  Wherever you’re at, he’ll find you and pull you up or out! Aaron knows how to connect and keep all connected. What a gift! His personality, instincts, love and humor are a joy to be around!

Aaron is a seer of “what counts!”

You’ll see this when you’re around him!

By: Aunt Red

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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The Courage to be Aaron

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AARON!!!

In just 34 years you have easily changed the lives of each person who has had the privilege of crossing your path. 

Your birthday has always been an emotional day for our family, the most beautiful kind of emotional. Maybe it’s your infectious self love that insists on recognizing the entire month of October as your birthday… or maybe it’s more than that, maybe it’s deeper. 

I have realized something new this year. October 17th almost seems to be a day of reflection, much like New Year’s Day. I find myself pondering, how can I be more like Aaron? I want what that guy has. I want to have the lenses in which you view the world. For 27 years now, I, much like anyone who knows you have been completely in awe of your entire being. However, for the first time it has struck me, we can all be like you. It just requires a little courage. 

The courage to be Aaron, to live a life that is unapologetically true to you. You show up for life whole heartedly and life shows back up for you in return. You have never hidden from your truth, you have always been Aaron. That extra chromosome of yours has sky rocketed you into a way of living that this world needs. I believe with every fiber of my being that at the core of that chromosome is not only infinite love, but the most wild courage known to mankind. 

The dictionary defines courage as, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. We live in a world that finds comfort in labeling people. Since October 17th 1984, you have shattered expectations, judgement, and misconceptions by being YOU. In my humble opinion, Merriam Webster has it all wrong. The definition provided for courage is inadequate to say the least, it misses the core of what courage is truly all about. You have taught me that courage is the strength we find in the ability to suit up and show up. It is the willingness based on faith to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the stillness we feel when we are no longer questioning if we are enough – we are enough. You have shown me that courage is not just an action, it is a way of being. 

Happy Happy Birthday Aaron! May your 34th year on this earth be nothing short of pure joy.

I love you.

We celebrate you today and everyday. 

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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Characteristics Found in the 21st Chromosome

HAPPY WORLD DOWN SYNDROME DAY!!!

March 21st 2018

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, below are 21 of the top characteristics I believe make Aaron’s 21st chromosome so unique. Truthfully, everyday should be World Down Syndrome Day, but that is another day’s topic. Aaron rocks his extra chromosome with all of his might, he gives life his all and it gives it right back. I feel so very humbled for the opportunity to have the experience to learn from someone who embraced his extra chromosome and so willingly shared its beauty with the world. With that being said, Aaron, today the world recognizes you! Thank YOU for all that you do. What would your life look like if you were rocking an extra chromosome?

  1. Humor – the laughter that comes deep from the belly; the kind of laughter found from being silly and not at the expense of others.
  2. Unconditional Love – love that knows no limits without expectations.
  3. Hope – for a better tomorrow when today doesn’t go as planned.
  4. Limitless Kindness – an act of love that is available to all.
  5. Courage – the willingness to ask for help when he recognizes this life isn’t meant to be tackled alone
  6. Strength – in moments of perceived weakness is when his strength is ultimately found.
  7. Routine – recognizing what sets his soul on fire and structuring it into the day to day.
  8. Friendship – all inclusive, no hierarchies.
  9. Forgiveness – letting go of the things that no longer serve him, because he has far too much life to be living.
  10. Be Present – he shows up for those around him, he finds the joy of life in each moment.
  11. Trust – an unshakable sense of “it will all be okay”.
  12. Honesty – the good, the bad, the ugly.
  13. Faith – the willingness to live a life with minimal fear.
  14. Social – the power of connection and the willingness to reach his hand out to a stranger.
  15. Punctual – if we make plans for 5pm on Friday, you betcha those plans start at 5pm on Friday, and if not, he’s calling at 5:01pm.
  16. Inclusion – in a world where we constantly strive for Aaron’s inclusion he so seamlessly includes the world.
  17. Fun – letting loose and disregarding how he “thinks” he “should” look.
  18. Complementary– the importance of building each other up rather than tearing one another down.
  19. Memory – his brain has a file cabinet 100 miles deep that stores every single soul’s birthday.
  20. Active Listener – his ability to listen with the intention of allowing someone to feel heard without calculating a response.
  21. Family – whether it’s blood or chosen, family first. Always.

For more information please follow check out World Down Syndrome Day

If you or someone you know has a story they would like to share about an experience seeing the similarities over the differences please contact me at theheartability@gmail.com

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

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Thanksgiving

GRATITUDE.

A feeling so many of us become overfilled with on this special Thanksgiving Day. Gratitude is not just the word we see thrown all over social media, it is the feeling we experience when we’re connected with love.

Today and everyday is Thanksgiving in Aaron’s heart. He does not necessarily express it with words and catchy phrases, he lives in it with every fiber of his beautiful being.

As long as I have known Aaron (my whole life) he has been an extremely picky eater. He sticks to what he likes and that is a cheeseburger (well done with ketchup only) and fries. So, needless to say, he does not indulge in mom’s extraordinary feast every year on the 4th Thursday of November.

However, to feel “a part of”, he will eat a minuscule piece of turkey doused in ketchup. The piece is more often than not the size of his pinky finger nail. He definitely does this with much hesitation while we all sit at the table chanting “Aaron versus food.” He smiles with excitement let’s out his famous “mang” and throws his arms up in celebration (often while pretending to gag).

While his commitment to feeling a part of is ever so inspiring, I am amazed by his ability to be thankful not only on this day but everyday.

He recognizes on a daily basis all that is to be thankful for in his world. His gratitude is not found through material objects he has acquired, rather it is found in the connection he finds in his relationships. For example, his family, during the holiday season he avoids judgment and criticism by embracing love and acceptance.

A family tradition in our household is to go around the table and share what brings us gratitude. Every single year Aaron says the same thing, “the whole entire 6 of us.” Not the food on the table, the new iPad case, nor the new shampoo he was told not to get. He focuses on his family and friends who are near and far. He expresses interest in what others are doing, simply because he cares. He is not asking to make conversation, however he is asking because he genuinely cares to know if everyone is feeling as much love as he is in that moment. The appreciation for those relationships is infectious and certainly has a ripple effect on the rest of us.

Happy Thanksgiving from me to you!

May your bellies be as full of gratitude as they are good food.

Seeing the similarities over the differences is the heart’s greatest ability.

If you or someone you know would like to share about your experience seeing the similarities over the differences please contact me at theheartability@gmail.com.

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