Since meeting my awesome half-brother Jake with autism in summer 2015, and finding out about my nephew Anthony's PDD diagnosis, I've gotten involved with Autism Speaks, becoming an advocate for tolorance and awareness. I'm also a contributor to the Bully Project Mural, and recently was asked by the folks behind The Bully Movie to submit my story as an UPstander.
See my contribution to the Bully Project Mural here: www.behance.net/gallery/30803917/Bully-Project-Mural-contribution
Photo: I had this custom Autism Awareness black belt made in honor of my brother & nephew on the autism spectrum. Beautiful work by Kataaro!
It Just Keeps Getting Better!
The final pieces to my family puzzle are finally falling into place. After being out of touch with my older half-sister Stephanie for the last 9 or so years, I was able to track her down via social media and get back in touch! She now has 4 children (3 of which I didn't know about until now)... Hunter (age 15 as of Jan. 2016), Jayden (age 8), Anthony (age 6), and Jenessa (age 4 as of Jan. 2016). I recently went to visit her for a few days, and got to meet my niece and two other nephews. My nephew Hunter I haven't seen since he was about 5 years old... I haven't gotten to see him again yet, as he lives with his father and is recovering from an injury. I hope to be able to see him again very soon, and get to know the 3 other little ones! This is a lot to take in, but I'm looking forward to re-establishing a relationship with my sister and being an Auntie. Steph, don't you dare disappear on me again!
Photo: My niece Jenessa was my little shadow during my visit. What a cutie!
Jenessa was the Greater Lawrence New Year Baby, 2012. See the article here!
Wow, what a year I've had. Hopefully 2016 will be just as amazing, getting to know my no-longer-lost siblings, niece and nephews.
Missing Pieces - UPDATE
Absolutely amazing day meeting my two long-lost siblings Kassidy and Jake. Adopted as babies, I haven't seen them in over 18 years! Overjoyed doesn't even cover it... there are no words. Still trying to process all of this! Photo at left: Me, Jake, Nana Gerry, and Kassidy.
People that know me may have heard me refer to them as "Jacquelyn and Jason". Those were their birth names, but after their adoption their names were changed to Kassidy Danielle and Jacob Patrick. I didn't know this until I contacted the family in November!
Fraternal twins Jacquelyn Elizabeth and Jason Matthew Jr. were born to my mother and step-father in October 1996. I saw them at Beverly Hospital when they were just 3 days old (I was 13 at the time). For reasons I will not go into here, they went to foster care and were adopted about a year later. I searched for many years to track them down but was unsuccessful. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think of them and wonder how they were. But somehow I knew, that I would see them again someday! A couple years ago, just by chance my grandmother met a couple people that could give us information on the twin's whereabouts. Using this limited info, I got on the Internet and did a ton of research to track down the adoptive family. After writing to them, they were very receptive and said I could meet them following their high school graduation! That day has finally come, and I couldn't have asked for a better outcome.
Kassidy is beautiful, sweet, and very happy to spend time with me and my grandmother. Jake has autism, and although he does not understand who I am, he definitely knew there was a connection. He warmed up to me and my grandmother very quickly, he's so adorable and endearing. I feel so blessed to be able to get to know them and be a part of their life.
See more photo's from our reunion here!
NSCC Arts in April Feature
I've been featured on NSCC's website for Arts in April faculty/staff talent! Also looking forward to bringing my YMCA kids up to the school for an awesome martial arts demo.
See my feature here: northshore.edu/faculty_staff/arts/index.html
May Update: See photo's from the NSCC Demo here!
A rather exciting development has been taking place with my family! I can't say too much more right now, but hopefully I will have more to report around the end of May / beginning of June next year. Be sure to check back!
Professor Kristalyn in the House!
No but really... please don't call me "Professor". In the Fall of 2013, a sudden opportunity came up to teach a Dreamweaver class at my old college, NSCC. It's been a great experience to pass on what I've learned to the next generation, and being in that role has also taught me a lot. It was never my intention to get into teaching, nor do web design... but funny how things can turn out.
I'm a new kitty Mama! I picked out this adorable fuzz ball at Cape Ann Animal Aid, she looked at me with those little kitten eyes and I fell right in love. She is a curious and mischievous little one, but also very sweet and affectionate. She brightens up my day. Welcome home, Lyra!
Sensei "K" Back in Action
Since getting back into the martial arts after quite some time, an opportunity has come up to teach my own kid's program at my local YMCA. I'm very excited, this should be fun. Time to brush up on my skills and get back in shape!
I had the chance to sit on the East Coast judging panel for this year's NCMPR Paragon Awards. These awards are for oustanding promotional and marketing materials for community colleges. It was fun, met some cool people and got to give professional input. I couldn't believe some of the entries... most fell in the mediocre category but a select few were above and beyond, and a handful were not even worth looking at. It was interesting for sure! Hope I get to do it again sometime.