"Grab a tissue," the Facebook post reads, "This Tucson sports moment went viral for all the right reasons."
In the video, which is made up of a pasting-together of student Snapchats, high schooler Alyna Macias, who is her school's girls' basketball team manager, is told she gets to finally play in a game. The game is the final JV game of the year.
Watching the video, it's clear that Alyna can play. She makes several baskets. The crowd goes wild.
Like, reallly wild.
Like, every child has their iPhone recording the moment.
At the end of the game, Alyna is interviewed for the local news, and a student waits impatiently to present her with an obscene bouquet of mylar balloons.
Alyna obviously loves basketball. She obviously knows how to play, and she is obviously well-respected by her peers. So why did this moment go viral? Why did her coach, and the coach of the opposing team, agree to "let her score?"
Because Alyna has Down syndrome.
"Awesome," Facebook commenters wrote, "I have faith in our young people again," "Inclusion for the win."
Inclusion? This isn't inclusion. Inclusion is inclusion. This is special treatment.
Yes, we are (hopefully) raising a generation of thoughtful, selfless, kind children who will become contributing, aware, kind adults. And we are hopefully allowing them to be good citizens without having to prove it with a video.
Nothing bothers me more than the self-serving, misty-eye-producing, sentimental videos smattering our interwebs these days - such as "Cheerleader asks boy with autism to prom." The amount of "Awwwwww!" happening behind the camera makes my stomach turn, and I always have to wonder if this amazing cheerleader and the "AUTISTIC BOY" [wrong phrasing, by the way; "people first" language is preferred} are still hanging out.
As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I have to be insistent, every year, that our daughter receives an inclusive education. This means as much time as possible in the classroom with her typical peers, and the same opportunities as them to join a team, make a project, participate in a talent show, be Student of the Week, etc. My daughter does have special needs. I have needs that are special, too.
Parents all over the country join resources and supportive ears to others who are diligently navigating inclusive efforts for their children. Surprisingly, many states still do not offer educational options for full inclusion at all.
I'm sure Alyna's parents were touched by and grateful for the show of support that her daughter received during the game.
My hope for Alyna, going forward, is twofold: 1) that she "gets" to play in any game she wants to; and 2) that the overwhelming love and support of her peers continues, even if there's nothing special to record for social media.
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
In this moment, I pause to be fully present in all that I Am.
The anguishes and achievements of my past, and the questions and possibilities of my future, are dormant in this precious place of breath and solace.
In this moment, I am Peace. In this moment, I am Love. And in this moment, I create the Joy that is to come.
I notice my breath, light and easy. I notice my heart, steady without my worry. In this moment, I am Light.
The Light begins in my Anahata, my heart chakra, glowing brighter with each inhale and releasing with purity on each exhale.
With this light, I illuminate my life, and I see that all is so very good.
With this light, I breathe compassion and well-being to all beings who share this moment with me.
With this light, I see the kindness, authenticity, and easy brilliance of all that I Am.
I breathe in the rhythm of I Am. I breathe in soft Love and I breathe out soft Light.
With the light of this moment, I bright illumination to tomorrow, and I face my future with easy peace.
a blister, a blossom
caught in a toss-up of floundering somdays
and what-ifs and sighs
should she be sheepishly slipping
through time lapses
waiting for someone to see her through
leap, they say,
dare, why not try, take a chance
don't let a daunting debacle derail you!
have faith, they say,
answer your innermost divas
who cling to your apron strings yearning for glory
for knowledge of simple abundance
of all that is promised
within dreaming hopers
"do it" life whispers,
on breath laced with pearls of
unlimitless guidance from
okay, i will.
®Emily Nielsen, 2014
Wherein a client laments...
"...I hate my body, I hate my habits that I've re-adopted, I have lost muscle. I lack motivation, and so I just tailspin into this spiral of yucky and unhealthy thoughts and actions. I don't want to go to the studio because I am ashamed of what I've lost. I am disappointed in myself. It's hard for me to even look in the mirror right now. I know that's not how you see me... but it's how I see myself. ..."
And I respond...
Let me tell you about my mom’s deviled eggs.
My mom is renowned for her deviled egg recipe. People request that she make them for parties. I’ve literally seen my husband eat six of them in under 50 seconds.
But I hate deviled eggs with the force of a thousand poison, angry, well….. devils.
I hate deviled eggs. I haaaaaaate them. To me, deviled eggs are absolutely worthless, unless your goal for the day is to emit rancid farts that might cause an argument with your significant other.
No offense, Mom.
But the thing about me hating deviled eggs is that, if I’m presented with a specially-molded plate of the glistening, sickly ovals of puke-smelling offensiveness, I can walk away.
I can say, No thank you! And that’s it.
My heart can go on beating its merry little rhythm. No deviled eggs for me, tra-la-la.
But it’s different when it comes to your body.
You certainly can’t hold up your overworked hand and say to your body, “Oh, no thank you. Not today.”
Your body is kind of…. There. For your whole entire life.
Now, I’m not going to strap on my woo-woo fairy wings and say “Just LOVE your body, silly!”
I’m not going to say that, because you can’t flip that switch so easily.
(I mean, could you imagine me just deciding that I’ve been mistaken about deviled eggs all this time and one day I’m all – geez, my MINDSET HAS BEEN ALL WRONG! And that’s just over a stupid, unnecessary food item.)
No, your body is necessary. And, at the very least, even if you don’t LOVE your body right now, you must not hate it.
Hate speech – hate thoughts – to and about your body can be as detrimental as the other hate speech, and no, I’m not being hyperbolic.
Hate won’t solve the problem of how you feel in your body right now. Hate will only make you sadder.
I promise that my woo-woo wings are packed away… but can you pretend with me for a minute that you are not your body?
That you are Annathe Amazing, smart and brave and kind and sensitive and soulful and wise and nurturing and tuned in to the deep mysteries of the world?
And that your body is just your vehicle?
Because it is. Your two feet unfailingly plant themselves on your floor each morning and carry you to your babies, your backyard, your grocery store. Your lungs take in and release the air that’s all around you and your veins continually pump your lifeblood. Your eyes and ears and all your other senses keep you alert and safe and in touch with the energies bombarding you constantly.
And your vehicle will ALWAYS run more smoothly when you nurture it.
And you’ll always FEEL better in your vehicle if you treat it with respect.
But sometimes Life gets in the way first, and our vehicles are often the last item on our care list.
And it’s surprisingly easy to keep neglecting the vehicle, because IT STILL ACTUALLY DOES ITS JOB and in the meantime there are literally other people on this earth who DEPEND ON YOU FOR THEIR SURVIVAL.
But then you start to notice that something doesn’t feel right. There’s a stickiness here and a creak there and fuuuuuuck I can’t button my pants.
So what then?
That’s where you are.
And you’re at that crucial, and desperate, and heart-breaking point and you’re like, “This is not my beautiful house! ….. My god, what have I done?!” (Gratuitous Talking Heads reference.)
And this space is kind of awesome, because you’re at a place where you can say, “Fuck it, let’s just see how low I can run this damn thing into the ground.” OR, you can say, “Aw, Body, I’m sorry. I’m here now. I’m here for you. Here, have some water. Have all the water. And then, I’m going to take you out for a walk.”
And then after your body gets some water and a walk, you’ll feel a little better. And you’ll have some more water and you’ll go on a longer walk. And then you’ll lift some weights. And then you’ll eat an entire clean meal. And then you’ll start to feel renewed energy, and you’ll realize that it’s simply NOT WORTH NEGLECTING YOUR VEHICLE!
Because you want to FEEL GOOD and FEEL WELL and you, Anna the Amazing, DESERVE all of that.
You deserve to feel good.
It’s hard when we are in a space of hate.
So, quick – go lube up your creaks with some water.
And then, for the love, take a nap.
And when you wake up, lube up your joints with some movement. Put on some lipstick. Play your favorite song and sing along at the top of your lungs. Make your favorite meal and invite your friends over to share it with you.
As long as it’s not devilied eggs, I’ll be there.
(….. and soon, you’ll love you, too.)
(* name has been changed to protect the awesome)
My daughter was walking around the house, singing lightly to herself.
"I'm so proud of myself, I'm so proud of myself......!"
The cause for pride? She had figured out how to braid her doll's long hair.
Luciya, like many children, has always had a natural and unabashed view of herself and is still able, at 9 years old, to feel free and happy in her self expression. Her "motivational posters," as I call them, turn up all over the house. In fact, I've started posting some to my Instagram accounts with the hashtag #luciyaswordclouds because they're rad.
A few years ago (probably around the time of the Happy Hair Braiding Song), I discovered a word cloud she'd made using the letters of her name:
And there came one of those wondering moments, where childhood suddenly seems at once so far away and at the same time so deliciously appealing.
Those of us who enjoy the arts will write to sooth our upturned souls or meander through our journals and sketch pads with thoughts of ache, or deep empathy, or the power of discovering ease and joy.
But it's rare that we'll sit down in simplicity with the singular thought of "I'm awesome."
So, I tasked myself with homework inspired by the genuine beingness of a child, and I made my own acrostic poem.
The trick here is to let go of both humility and ego. It's okay to claim badassery, or wonderfulness, or honest truths that aren't all "aw, shucks"-y. The other trick is to not over-think it. Just flow.
What would your acrostic name poem look like? Share in comments!
by Emily Nielsen
"I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition."
All posts are copyright ©Emily Nielsen