A Disability to the Untrained Eye.

 

Taylor Boteilho is a 21-year old student at Central Washington University. She is a student programmer at the Center for Diversity and Social Justice. She grew up in a small town called Oliver in Washington State. The life of Taylor includes how she battles with discovering her truth and dealing with mental disabilities on a day to day basis. However, it wasn’t always like this. Growing up was rough, she had to constantly deal with different forms of abuse; mental and physical. Today, Taylor is embracing mental disability. She has found triumph in the struggle. When you see her, you wouldn’t believe her story because Taylor shines so bright with a warm smile and contagious joy.

 

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  1. Growing up, who was apart of the household?

Mother, Father, Little sister, Uncle Andy, Aunts and other Uncles

  1. What was the best/worst part about growing up?

Friendships; I got lucky because I got to meet all different types of people from all different types of backgrounds, especially those with mental and physical disabilities. Although I was homeschooled, I was still able to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. The worst part about growing up was when I was really little, I witnessed a lot of physical abuse abuse at my biological father and step mothers house and just carrying that heaviness and darkness around as a kid was weary because kids shouldn’t see things the way I did.

  1. Who was the most influential person to you as a child/today?

I have got to say my mom. She provided a space to grow and heal. She is my biggest supporter. As a homeschooler, she was teacher, which was another way to connect.

  1. How early did you realize the difference between right and wrong? Example?

I was really little. I seen my little brother get hit for no reason. I grew angry and seen that that was wrong and realized that there are bad people.

  1. When did you realize that you may have a mental disability?

When I had a beautiful bright and blessed childhood but in the middle of it, I just wasn’t able to connect. I saw things different, things affected me differently and I would have flashbacks to abuse. I was diagnosed really early.

  1. Where you diagnosed? If so, with what?

I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, clinical anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.

  1. What does mental disability mean to you?

Neurodivergent, its something that our brains do. However, the function is on the spectrum, it’s a grey area, it’s dynamic and it comes and goes. My personal perspective is that anxiety and ptsd is very trigger based while depression can be having the best week of your life but your still depressed. It’s something that everyone has to respond to in your own way.

  1. What is life like dealing with it?

It’s a constant push and pull. It’s like having an additional layer of not knowing when you;ll wake up and feel suicidal or that you’ll have a great day. I don’t know if I’ll have a flash back. It takes a lot of energy having to devote energy to something I didn’t ask for. I present myself away to people in a way to people who don’t know I have a mental disability. However, it’s better to be out about it with friends because there understanding to situations I’d rather not be in because of my anxiety, like “Hey, Tay, its ok, we don’t have to go to the mall.”

  1. What treatment options were available to you, did you take advantage of any of them?

    All types of treatments, I did therapy, growing up. I’ve been to a variety of counselors. Medication was offered but I chose to not to take them because the medicine takes away from connecting with experiences and emotions and that’s something that I already struggle with. The past two years, I trained my dog Molly to be of service with my mental disabilities. Fitness is important, because it helps me control my heart rate. I also enjoy painting and singing.

The Journey, Not The Destination

Growing up in Seattle, I was raised by a single mother in a low-income family. In the housing projects of Seattle. I was surrounded by negative influences. The gang bang, prostitution, drug dealing, drug abusing life was all around. I got caught up in the street life and I thought this was all to my life that I would experience. Until one day, I looked in the mirror and told myself, “There has got to be more to life than this!” Little did I know, there was more to life. In that moment, my life was no longer the same. This is when I realized my life had purpose and I had a journey ahead of me if I were going to fulfill this purpose I felt over my life.

1_43At the age of 17, I enrolled myself into Columbia Basin Job Corps. I was nervous to leave home but I knew that this was what I needed to do and that this was best for my future. I was on the other side of the mountains, away from home, alone, confused, afraid. But, in the midst of it all; I was faithful. At Columbia Basin Job Corps, I learned discipline, interpersonal skills, mathematical and literature skills. I obtained my High School Diploma, Drivers License, a Business Technology Certification and even College Credits. I was in complete shock that I was capable of completing so much!

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Shortly after, I graduated from Columbia Basin Job Corps, I was approached by the idea of going to college. An out reach counselor told me I would be a great candidate for the local community college. I looked at her like she was crazy! I thought to myself, me? college? no way!

I felt like I wasn’t good enough, rich enough or even smart enough for college. I doubted myself and was afraid if I would succeed or not. In that moment I had to make a decision… This was a moment of growth, change and revelation. I put replaced my fear with faith, my doubt with determination. I enrolled myself into college and received multiple Financial Aid Grants because of my first-generational college status. This was the best decision I have ever made.

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As soon as I got into college, I found out so much about myself through many accomplishments and even pitfalls that I encountered. From being on the honor roll, to discovering my strengths and weaknesses about critical thinking. My interpersonal skills became strong. I was approached to become a peer mentor for freshman students, I had the opprotunity to travel to higher education conferences. I even won a scholarship.

Don’t get me wrong, although, I had many successes, I also had much tribulation. I was tried with many stumbling blocks that proved my strength. Some nights, I would cry myself to sleep because I missed my family. I even failed a class or two. Overall, I ended up graduating with honors and completed my Associates Degree in Arts and Sciences.

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Now, I am at Central Washington University. This may not mean much to you but this means everything to me! I have come a long way and I feel this is just the beginning. I have purpose now. I have a destination, I have goals. I have gained so much during the process. That how I learned that it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Breaking Beauty!

ad_158037515-e1422369611380Meet Tess Holliday (aka Tess Munster). She’s a UK size 24 and the first model of her size and height to be signed to a major modelling agency. She’s also the woman behind the #EffYourBeautyStandards movement. And she wants women to celebrate their bodies, whatever their shape. I am so inspired by her for “Breaking Beauty” She is a role model for women all over the world to love themselves despite the standard of beauty that has been placed in society.

Winnie Harlow, Diesel

Diesel Model Chantelle “Winnie Harlow” Brown-Young is breaking boundaries in the high fashion industry. The 20-year-old, who appeared as a contestant on America’s Next Top Model after being personally scouted by Tyra Banks has landed major Spring-Summer 2015 campaigns for Diesel and Desigual (she will serve as a brand ambassador for the latter’s “say something nice” collection). The model’s unique look is a result of a chronic skin condition: Winnie was diagnosed with vitiligo (which causes a loss of skin pigment) when she was just 4 years old. In the picture above look at how beautiful Winnie is as she blends in with the rest of the models yet she also stands out with her multi-colored skin.

I am inspired by these women because they are “Breaking Beauty”; the standards that the media has placed on society’s’ perception on what beauty is. Time to stop these limits! I am tired of seeing images telling me that I have to have lighter skin, longer hair and a small waist to even be considered. This has disgusted me for far too long!

So what do we do?

Glad you asked! Well, for starters, BE YO-SELF! If you wanna wear your hair messy and wear no make-up; so be it!

  • Feel Comfortable in your own skin. This is so important because the world is made up of different shades and the lighter skin shouldn’t be privileged because of it. We are all made equal.
  • Wear what you want. Fashion is a non-verbal way of expressing yourself. So, rather you feel feminine or cozy; dress as you please. Do’t let society force you to keep up with the latest trends. You’ll end up broke! Trust me.
  • Lastly, embrace your flaws! This is the ultimate key to “Breaking Beauty” because although society says “Look like this”  & you look like that then don’t be ashamed. LOVE IT & WORK IT!

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Overall, I am please to share what I am learning about breaking down barriers that have been in place all over the globe for far too long. The world is changing and becoming more and more diverse. It’s about time, we all start embracing it and loving eachother for it. Not putting one another down because they don’t look like they’ve just cam off the cover of Seventeen magazine or GQ. I see this everyday. The snarls, the judgment, the pity that has been put on individuals because they look “different” … Whatever that means! Bottom line. everyone is unique and beautifully made.

 

Dr. King, Where are you!?

Where are the leaders? Come out please, give us hope, give us peace. Someone, anyone, tell us that violence isn’t the answer. Come and peacefully assemble with us as we march the streets Baltimore. Is the violence necessary? What would the Black Panthers say? What would Malcolm X say? What would Dr. King say? Dr. King; where are you?

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It has been 15 days since Freddie Gray, young African American man was stuffed into a Baltimore Police Department van and no officer, elected official or agency has taken any responsibility for his subsequent death or the policies that allow it to stand.

Therefore, we continue to witness the struggle of the already broken relationship between Black communities and law enforcement.

The truth is, what we are witnessing today is the crossing of a tipping point by communities that have remained unheard for far too long.baltimore-riot-police-car-AFP-640x480

If Dr. King were alive today, what would he do?

Good question! I believe Dr. King would rally up everyone at the Baltimore Washington Monument and He would give a speech on how he understands the anger and oppression Black communities have faced and how we need to retaliate with love and peace. Not violence. For it was once sung as an old negro spiritual; “We shall overcome, someday.”

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Well is today that day? Will we overcome, have we overcome? Cause black people are angry of the police brutality and social injustices for far too long. If you ask me personally, I believe we are just getting started to hopefully something that will break the silence of discrimination and inequality.

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Self-Love is the Best Love

Just recently, I’ve asked myself; what is beauty? then suddenly, it hit me like a ton of bricks. In that moment; I realized that beauty isn’t based on how rosey your cheeks are or how small your waist is. Beauty is an inner light that radiates self love, kindness & strength. Beauty is owning your “flaws” with a humble spirit. beauty is me. Black is beauty. Once I grasped this concept of beauty I held onto it for dear life and in that realization; I was able to love myself in a way that no one has before. I accepted myself for who I was and what I wasn’t and was totally ok with it. No one couldn’t tell me anything because I already knew, so nothing else mattered. I matter. What I believe about me matters and that my friend, is S E L F  L O V E.

 

 Not saying that believing your beautiful is the key to self-love. No, not at all. I am proposing a crazy idea that maybe if we become totally okay with who we are and accept that we were fearfully and wonderfully created without any mistakes; THEN we have accomplished loving ourselves.

“How do I practice self-love?”

Glad you asked! Well, it’s the simple things that make a HUGE difference. Since self-love involves self talk, this may seem crazy but I talk to myself. No, not conversation but reminders or small little cheers! Every morning after a daily devotion, I look in the mirror and say aloud, “Miraclejoy! you are so beautiful! You are great! You are important! You are so smart!” Immediately, afterwards, I feel liberated and renewed. When I am feeling nervous about anything, I say a some encouraging words to myself, “Girl, you got this! You can do it! Woohooo! Yes, you’re amazing!” When we care about ourselves enough to encourage ourselves, it helps with our confidence and how we truly feel about ourselves.

 

 Guess what else!?, keeping up with ourselves internally AND externally go hand in hand. You can’t have one with the other. Once you feel good on the inside, you feel even better on the outside. Taking care of our inner mind, body and spirit is essential because it’s what molds us into what others are influenced by. I, myself am working on this too! Making sure that we consume more than enough water, consuming fruits and veggies, and even doing enough exercise to keep us feeling energetic. In a hectic and busy life, don’t be afraid of downtime, reading a good book or taking a warm bubble bath with candles and chocolate covered strawberries makes all the difference in the world. This helps us balance our life and how we value our selves.

Love yourself first.

Have you ever heard the term, “How can you love someone else if you don’t love yourself?” Well this is true. Once you love and accept yourself, it is totally natural to love and accept others unconditionally and fearlessly. This is the most important asset to self-love because it is influential and inspiring to those who have not yet came to the conclusion that they matter, and they are wonderfully made with no mistakes. Self love is contagious and there should be more of it in the world today! This will prevent depression, bad habits, insecurities, and even suicide.

Overall, I hope this helped at least one person and they know that they are loved, important, smart and NOT a mistake. Take these tips and examples as a key to unlock a fulfilling life as you love yourself and watch your confidence and demeanor flourish exceptionally!

 

 With love,

-MJ