you feel like breathing.

I admit, I haven’t opened up too much about what’s been going on lately… besides those awful bed bugs.  Last week was draining- physically, mentally, and emotionally- for many reasons that include work, volunteering, planning a surprise baby shower, oh, and those bed bugs definitely took up some of my limited free time.  But last week is now a thing of the past…as is the terrible itchiness from those little pests.  (Okay, enough with the bed bugs.  I promise.) 

While there are several things- especially one- that I would love to spend my Sunday night writing about, I’m going to forgo those plans to share what occurred tonight.  Yes, I volunteered.  I volunteered with a new organization called KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) which is a national, nonprofit volunteer-led organization that provides a place where children with even the most severe disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, can participate fully and succeed in fun.

After stumbling across this opportunity, I immediately registered.  Even knowing that 1) Laura was in town and 2) I had other volunteer opportunities lined up for the weekend, I couldn’t pass up this chance to these remarkable kids.  Could you?  Today Laura told me that I am “spreading myself too thin” (with regards to all my volunteering, etc.) which is something that I’ve begun admitting to myself.  But how can I stop doing all of this if it makes me happy?  How can I say “no thanks” to opportunities that allow me to do what I love to do…that make me feel like “me”? 

As stressed out as I was these past few days, due to the bugs and all the running around, I still felt okay.  Today, while sluggish before I ventured out in the beyond-freezing Chicago wind, I found myself rejuvenated in the presence of these kids.  Kids that have disabilities but are not their disabilities.  Like any other kid they, too, desire to laugh and play. 

Tonight, somewhere between kicking a soccer ball with Mikey and shooting hoops with Jenny, I found “me” again.  The “me” that played soccer and basketball as a child; the “me” that felt such joy playing with kids in the summer playcamps in high school; and the “me” that enjoys still being a kid herself.  These kids and many other big kids (my friends) are what is allowing me to breathe again. 

People continue to tell me how admirable my volunteer work is, which leads me to respond by saying that these kids give me much more than I could ever give them.  In a way I feel selfish because I get so much out joy from being in the presence of such incredible kids.  Because of them, I constantly recall these moments to remind myself how precious life is and what’s really important.  These kids are important to me.  They are what makes me ‘me’.  Being able to make their day a little brighter, makes my week brighter.  When I put it like that, how can you possibly expect me to say anything but “I’ll see you again soon”? 

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