Crystal Williams

Disability Advocate, Mental Health Advocate, Blogger, Kabuki Syndrome, Animal lover & Loves Travel

Hello I’m Crystal Williams! Thank you for taking the time to check out my website. I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself & why I decided to become a blogger. First off  I’m a person with a disability. I have a rare Syndrome called Kabuki Syndrome. It’s not as popular as autism or down syndrome. Most times when someone comes up to me & they don’t know me or do know but don’t know that I do have a disability it’s because you can not tell that I have one, part of my syndrome is that I have a hearing loss. I used to have a hole in my lip when I was born & that was called a cleft lip I no longer have that thanks to all of the surgeries that I had as a child. I also used to have very poor balance but thanks to therapeutic horseback riding I can now walk normally. I still do horseback riding today & I’m happy to say that I no longer need therapeutic lessons. Being a person with a disability doesn’t stop me from doing the stuff that I love, it just means that I have to work just that much harder than anyone else.

Now why did I want to become a blogger. I’ve always loved to write. Writing has always been a huge passion of mine. It has always been my way of expressing my feelings & it’s also been an escape for me. Now I want to be able to share my story with others & hopefully educate others. Being a disability advocate not only for myself but also for others who are not able to share their own voice is very important to me because I want to be able to educate others to understand & not be afraid to ask questions & want to get to know us better. I’m also a big advocate for mental health. I struggle with Depression & I want to be able to help others to come forward to share their story as well & know that they are not alone on their journey. We are all in this fight together.

Other things that you may not know about me. I’m a huge animal lover especially horses, dogs & cats. I love doing horseback riding. I love to travel. I married my best friend & the love of my life. We adopted a cat named Buttons. I love doing photography in my spare time.

Hello everyone, I know it has been awhile since I have been on my blog. I am really excited to share something with everyone that I don’t usually talk about on my blog. This week I just got some new hearing aids. I have been wearing hearing aids since I was nine months old. I have a moderate severe hearing loss. Since I have been wearing hearing aids the technology has completely changed every time. I started out with wearing these big hearing aids that had ear molds where they would’ve have to take an impression of my ear so that the ear molds would fit just right for my ears. As I was growing up my ears were still growing too so that meant sometimes I would have to go back to my audiologist to get new impressions done for my ear molds because my ear molds would be too small and would leave sores in my ears. Once my ears stopped growing I didn’t have to worry about getting new ear molds. I wore those type of hearing aids till I was eighteen. Then once I became an adult then I got to wear hearing aids that weren’t as big and didn’t have the ear molds anymore. Instead I started wearing these smaller hearing aids that had a tiny little wire that is connected to a tiny little dome that I just push into my ears. The best part about those is it you can’t even see them because that’s how small they are. The sound quality has always gotten so much better each time I am due for new hearing aids. One thing that has always been a little bit challenging for me is when I am wear head phones while I am lisenting to music. I could never wear the big head phones on my hearing aids because they would hurt my ears and my hearing aids would make so much noise because the head phones would bother my hearing aids. Then on the other hand the smaller head phones would go right in my ears and I would have to turn the volume up a lot louder just so that I could hear. Over the last ten years or so the technology for hearing aids has been so much better because they have been able to make hearing aids have bluetooth so that the sound can go directly to your hearing aids. So what that means is that I don’t have to worry about not being able to hear my music or whatever else I need to hear. So now I don’t even need to wear head phones to listen to music, videos, podcasts, phone calls etc. This makes so happy because not only does my hearing aids help me everyday so that I can hear properly but it also lets me enjoy listening to music and everything else without having to damage my hearing. For everyone please remember that your hearing is really important because it’s something that you can’t get back once you lose it. Please don’t take you hearing for grated

~Crystal~

Theses were the first type of hearing aids that
I started wearing at 9 months old till I was 18 years old.
These were the first pair of my smaller hearing aids
that I started wearing when I became an adult
These were that last pair of hearing aids that I have worn
These are my newest pair of hearing aids.
Here are all the different pair of hearing aids
that I have worn all together over the years.

Hello everyone,

I hope that you are all having a great weekend. Today I am having a great day and I am feeling very energetic. This morning I did my workout on my stationary bike and as I was doing my workout this morning I felt like I needed to write on my blog. Today I felt so energetic after my workout that I felt like I wanted to talk about mindset on my blog. I have only finally realized this for myself two years ago. I have started to workout more and I have found that it really helps my mental health as well as my wellbeing. As much as working out is not one of my favourite things to do, I have found that my mindset has changed for the better throughout the rest of my day. Not only has working out made a huge difference for myself but, I have also changed my diet to being a vegetarian. I would have never thought changing my diet would make a big difference but it sure has. I have more energy, I also feel better and I don’t feel so down. I am in a better mood even when I am really struggling with my mental health. I still struggle with depression even on my tough days still but now I am able to push myself and not feel like I want to go hide away from everyone. I have also found that if I write in my journal what I am grateful for it keeps me in check and reminds me that I am worthy. Every so often I still get that little voice inside my head telling me that I am not worthy or that I am not good enough which brings me down. I try very hard to ignore that little voice as much as possible. When you are in the right mindset it’s amazing how much better you feel and how much it effects your day. I have found for myself that I am in such a better place because of my mindset and my wellbeing. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing because if you are not in a good spot people will not want to be around you if you are always negative. Being able to find the things that not only make you the happiest but also remembering to take care of your own mindset and wellbeing is super important as well. Finding things that make you happy can also make a huge difference. For myself writing is one of the things that makes me the happiest. I love being able to share my story with all of you on my blog or even if I am writing for just my enjoyment.

~Crystal~

Hello Everyone!

First off I want to say Happy March! Where has the time gone already. I hope that everyone is having a good week so far. Today is a good day because it’s the annual Spread The Word Inclusion day and this year they are talking about connection. Which I think that we can all agree that we need to be more connected more than ever, especially during this pandemic going on. It’s definitely been very hard on everyone because we haven’t been able to spend time with all our loved ones outside of our own households. It’s great that we are still able to stay connected with our loved ones even if we cannot be together in person by talking with them on the phone, by texting and also being able to still see them by video chat. For myself connection is so important because being able to connect with not only your family but also your community around you is extremely important. I know that a lot of people are probably missing being able to go out into the community doing the things that they love and seeing the people as well. We all need to be around people because that’s how we were created and we are not used to being told that we can’t be around other people. I know that for myself not being able to connect with people in person has been difficult on my mental health. I know that I am not the only one who has been struggling with their mental health during this pandemic. That’s why inclusion and connection both go hand and hand. Everyone wants to feel included weather that’s being part of a sports team, a work place, school event and or just being part of your community. The more inclusion that goes on in our world today means more connections. That’s why social media is so powerful in our world today, because we are able to connect with people from all parts of the world who can share the same interest and be connected. I am so grateful that I am able to use my social media platforms and my blog to connect with so many other people that are like myself with disabilities and also others who don’t have disabilities.

For those of you that would like to know more information about Spread The Word Inclusion or if you would like to take the pledge and be apart of this amazing non profit organization. You can go to their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Youtube.

https://www.spreadtheword.global

Hello Everyone, I hope that everyone is having a good week. Today is a very important day for lots of people that are struggling with mental health and I for one absolutely love supporting this incredible cause because it has a very big impact on my life. Today here in Canada is Bell Let’s Talk Day for those of you who have never heard about it. It’s for anyone that suffers with mental health. As many of you know that I struggle with depression. I have been struggling with depression since 2010. So every year I look forward to being able to share my story with others in hopes that I am helping someone else who is struggling as well. I remember when I was first diagnosed with depression I had felt like I was a failure and I felt like I was all alone. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because I had felt ashamed of myself. It’s already hard enough for me being a person with disability, now being a person who has mental health issues as well is bad enough to deal with. I learned that the more that i didn’t say anything to anyone the more I was hurting and I had felt more alone. So when I had finally broken down and let everything out that’s when I had realized that I couldn’t keep it all in and needed to let people in so they knew how to help me. I find they more that I am able to talk about it, the more it makes me feel better. I have met other people who have gone through the same thing that I have and being able to share our stories with each other makes a big difference. Now for myself I have wanted to be an advocate for others with mental health because we are all not alone and we are all worthy. In 2019 I made a huge change that helped with my mental health, I stopped eating meat. I can honestly say that I never thought that I would be that person and give it up but within a few weeks I had felt better. I didn’t fell so sad and I had felt like I had more energy. Now in the winter months I still struggle but not as bad as it used to be where I didn’t want to get out of bed or hide. Now I am able to push myself to get up to do things that I know will help me. Another thing that I have found very helpful is keeping a journal everyday by writing things down like what I am grateful for and things that are important to me. What I would really like is for anyone who is struggling to remember that you are not alone, reach out to someone that is important to you and tell them how you are doing, talk about your struggles with someone don’t keep it all bottled up and the last thing to remember that you are worth it. Before I close out my post for today I am going to put a few helpful quotes below for anyone who might need some inspections today. Anyways that’s all for today. I hope that everyone has a good day.

~Crystal~

Hello everyone Happy New Year. Welcome 2021 hopefully this year will be a much better year than 2020 was. We have made it through the first week of this new year. I am very hopeful that things will be better for 2021. Normally I like to set goals for myself for the new year but instead for this year I am going to take it one day at a time and see where this year will take me. I used to set a new year’s resolution but some how I would never stick with it. So now I don’t do those anymore. Last year I really struggled with my mental health and I manage to find new ways to help me get through it. I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there that did go through the same sort of things struggling with your mental health last year. We can do this we are all worthy. So by that being said let’s hope that 2021 will bring us more joy, happiness and better health moving forward. Well that’s all for now. I hope that everyone has a great week.

~Crystal~

Hi everyone, 2020 what a year we had this year. I’m sitting here today New Years Eve, reflecting back on this year. 2020 started off to a good start getting to go away on vacation on a cruise with my family for a week, which was very relaxing. Then a few months later having the pandemic hit and everything changed. I stopped going to my barn for my horseback riding lessons for a few months not knowing when I was going to be able to go back or not. That was very hard for me. I really struggled with my depression even more this year. I was able to go back to my horseback riding lessons in the summer, which I was so grateful and happy that I was able to go back. I didn’t realize how much I missed the place and how much I needed that place to help me with my mental health. Over this whole year I have been so grateful to be working during this whole pandemic. Over the summer Matthew and I were able to get away and visit family for a vacation up in Kimberley and Invermere BC. Then in the fall we celebrated our second wedding anniversary and went to Whistler BC for a week. It was a nice little getaway for both of us. Lots of rest and relaxation. Then after our vacation in Whistler my family got some bad news that my grandfather (papa as we call him) had stage four cancer. We weren’t sure how much time we had left with him. So we spent as much we had left with him as we could. Unfortunately we only had a month left with him. Losing my papa was very difficult for me because I was so close to him and spent so much time with him growing up. It was nice to get to spend some time with my nana and my family before things got even worse with the pandemic. Then came the Christmas holidays and didn’t have much else other than work being so crazy busy for the holiday season.

Overall This year was definitely challenging but I learned more about myself. I did do a lot of self reflecting this year as well. Did a lot of reading this year I red six self help books and found some very helpful tips that I was able to take away and use in my everyday life. One thing that I really found very helpful was writing in a journal every day about the things that I am grateful for and keep reminders for myself. This year I have started working on a new project that I’m very excited about. I will share more about it probably in the new year. Anyways that’s all for now. I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday. Let’s all hope that 2021 will be a much better year for all of us.

~Crystal~

Hello everyone! Happy Saturday.

It’s been way to long since I have been on my blog. There has been so many times that I wanted to give you all an update with what’s going on with me. Just the other day I looked at my blog and it’s been a few months since I have posted anything. I’ve been so busy trying to keep myself busy while this pandemic is going on. It’s been a crazy few months. Been working this whole time which has been good. Matthew and I thought we might be out of work for a bit but we are both very thankful that we still have our jobs. It was a hard three months for me not being able to go horseback riding and volunteering at my barn. Horseback riding and volunteering at my barn every week helps me with my depression. For me being able to be with the horses definitely helps my mental health. So for not being able to go to my happy place was definitely hard for me. I really struggled, I got very depressed and I had a hard time to get up to get exercise. The only place I could go was work and then come home. Once I got to my lowest point I knew that I needed to make some changes for myself. So I stared to workout again, reading lots of books and listening to a few different podcasts that I found very helpful. Once I started to feel better again I got a call from my barn saying that I was able to come back for horseback riding which made me very happy and excited. Honestly the first day I got t go back to Valley Therapuetic Equestrian I started crying when I got to the barn and saw the horse that I normally ride. The first day back was also the first official day the Valley Therapeutic was open again which was a very special day. They had asked me a week before if I would cut the ribbon for the grand reopening and of course I was honoured to do that for them. After all they have been my second home since I started horseback riding there. Being able to go back riding was the greatest feeling in the world for me.

Now getting back to what I said about reading lots of books. I started reading a few different self help books during this difficult time. I have learn some new ways to help me with managing my depression. One thing that I learned from reading the books was I started writing a journal everyday. I write down the things that I’m most grateful for and I also write down little reminders for myself because lets face it I wasn’t taking care of me. Then I also started listening to two different podcasts that have really helped me get motivated again. In case you are wondering which ones that I have found very helpful the first one is called Rise by Rachel Hollis and the second one is called Straight Up by Trent Shelton. They are both Motivational Speakers. I have read both of Rachel Hollis most popular books Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing. I found both of her books very helpful. So in case you are like me was struggling and need a good self help book to read I highly recommend those books or if you not much into reading but you love listening to podcasts. I definitely highly recommend the two podcasts. They really have helped me in the last few months.

Now I have decided that for this year that I’m going to do only the things that make me happy, which is writing. I have started writing again. So that means that I will not be doing as many blog posts for the next little while. I’m really excited with my new project that I have started writing but I’m not quite ready yet to share with all of you yet. Once I’m ready to share more info I will definitely share it on my blog with all of you. So for now that’s all for me.

I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during this time. Have a great rest of your weekend!

~Crystal~

Hello everyone happy Friday!

I hope that everyone had a good week and a good day. Normally I write my blog posts earlier in the day, but I got a little bit side tracked today. So I’m writing my post right now. Today on my blog I’m doing an other featured story/ interview with Hanna Atkinson. She is a Special Olympics Athlete from Colorado. I met Hanna last year when my husband and I went to Abu Dhabi to attend the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Thank you Hanna for letting me interview you. I hope you enjoy reading my interview with Hanna below.

How did you get involved with the Special Olympics?

My parents found Special Olympics for me because it is the place where I can be myself. I started immediately with the Special Olympics Colorado Ski racing team. After Skiing as one of the sports that I do for Special Olympic Colorado is bike racing.  

How long have you been a part of the Special Olympics?

 I Started with the Special Olympics at the age of 13 and it is now 12 years that I am involved with Special Olympics. It is my forever home in the Special Olympics. I appreciate the leadership and the community that Special Olympics expanded on and I really want to credit the founder of Special Olympics Eunice Kenndy Shriver.  

What sports do you do?

Now the sports that I do now are Ski Racing and Biking Racing for Special Olympics. In the past I used to compete in Special Olympics Swimming and in the past I also did Unified Basketball in my high School which the basketball ended in 2014. I will forever be a swimmer because my siblings were swimmers too. 

Favourite place or places you have got to travel for the Special Olympics?

My favourite place was going to Washington DC to be trained as a Health Messenger and trained as a Sargent Shriver international Global Messenger, and I went to Capitol hill day in Washington DC. I testified in front of the congress here in Colorado. I did go to Minnesota for the Special Olympic North America conference, I did already go to Paris France to speak as an panellist on the discussion on Inclusion, I did go to Atlanta Georgia to see the headquarters of the sponsor of Coke Cola for Special Olympics, I also went to Tulsa Oklahoma to do a commercial for Special Olympics. Overall the best ever place is Abu Dhabi because they called us Meet the Determined people and it was the place that I got the chance to cheer on so many Special Olympics athletes in Abu Dhabi. I even cheered for Mathew Williams at the tennis venue and he is amazing tennis player   

What is your favorite experience and or proudest moment as an IGM? 

My favourite experience as an IGM is to spread the inclusion  Revolution message and make friends for life with Apolo Ohno, Hannah Teter, and Daina Shilts. Hannah Teter and I are still friends before I became an IGM because I interviewed Hannah Teter here at Aspen Colorado at the X Games where Hannah Teter competed before Hannah Teter took me by surprise when I saw her in Abu Dhabi.  That was an amazing experience in Abu Dhabi and that I was interviewed in the Abu Dhabi Daily show and my interviewer was Daniel Smrokowski. It was a dream come true when I met Maria Shriver. One of my proudest moments was to be selected as an IGM and meet other IGMS. 

For people who don’t know a lot about the Special Olympics and want to know more about it?

What would you like them to know?  The Special Olympics is a place of acceptance, friendship, inclusion and joy. You can be a coach, you can donate, you can join the Inclusion Revolution , you can be a sponsor, you can be volunteer and you get the chance to talk with athletes from all over the world. The Special Olympics welcomes all of you and in the wise words of Eunice Kenndy Shriver, “Let me win,If i cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt.” It is more than a sports organization. It is a movement.   

Why do you think it’s important for Special Olympics athletes leaders to be involved and have a voice in the movement?

It is important to hear from athlete leaders because every voice counts in the Special Olympics. The more leadership opportunities the more impactful the message will be. This world will be  a better place when all people can be heard and valued. Special Olympics transforms athletes all across the world with its platform of positivity and empowerment. All of this being said is also part of being accepted in the world. I am an athlete leader, I am honored that I can represent my fellow athlete leaders. 

Well that’s all for today. I hope that you enjoyed reading today’s blog post about Hanna interview that I did with her. Big shout out again to Hanna thank you for doing this interview with me. I hope that we can do more together in the future to make a difference for Special Olympics and for other people in our communities with disabilities.

~Crystal~

Hanna Atkinson

Hello everyone!

Happy Friday & Happy May. It’s a brand new month. Wow time is sure flying by these days. Today on my blog I’m doing a special post because I love the month of May. Why do I love the month of may you ask? May happens to be my birthday month. This year for my birthday I decided a few months back that this year instead of receiving gifts for my birthday I would love if people could help me by sending donations to my favourite place which is Valley Therapeutic Equestrian Association. It has a very special place in my heart because I have been riding there when I was three & half years old. It has been apart of my life for twenty five years. When I first started horseback riding there it was to help me with my core & balance. Now I’m able to ride on my own which means everything to me. For me I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Valley Therapeutic. I love being able to give back to them by volunteering my time helping in the arena with lessons for other people with disabilities & also I got in the barn to help out with whatever needs to be done whether it’s cleaning stalls or helping tacking the horses for the lessons. Not only is Valley my happy place but it’s also my home away from home. I look forward to going once a week for my lessons and also being able to volunteer. Right now I really miss being able to go horseback riding but also seeing all the amazing people that are there. So if you could help me by making a donation to this amazing place not only will it make my day, it will also help many other individuals with disabilities. If you would like to know more about how you can help this amazing organization To learn more about valley you can check them out on Facebook & instagram. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog today. I hope that everyone has a good rest of your day and please stay safe.

~Crystal~

Hello Everyone, Happy Friday!

I hope that everyone is having a good week and is staying safe. Today on my blog, I’m doing another feature story/ interview with another Special Olympics Athlete Renee Manfredi. I met Renee last year in Abu Dhabi when my husband and I got to go attead the Special Olympics Summer World Games. I just want to take a moment to thank her for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me and I hope that we can do more things together in the future. I’m really excited to share this interview with all of you. I hope that you enjoy reading it!

How did you get involved with Special Olympics? 

After High School, there were not very many options for me in my state as far as job training, support, or post- secondary education. Every agency said I didn’t qualify for their services. We are military and thought we might be moving soon, so we looked for other options, of activities I could join in, until we moved. Special Olympics was the only thing we found that I could join that I qualified for as a person with ID. When I got involved in Special Olympics, I was very nervous about how I would be treated on a team, because I’m not very good at sports and any time I would mess up during P.E. in school, my fellow classmates would yell at me. But when my team, the Terminators, were so welcoming, I was like, “Wow! This is where I belong.” No one yelled at or scolded me when I made a mistake. My coaches were very encouraging and showed me what I was supposed to do. It made all the difference in the world. Special Olympics is an open door for me in so many ways.

    How long have you been apart of Special Olympics? 

I have been a part of Special Olympics for 12 years

    What sports do you do? 

Basketball, Softball, Swimming, and Soccer

    Favourite place or places you have got to travel for Special Olympics?

I would say that my most favorite place to have traveled to for with Special Olympics is Abu Dhabi for the 2019 World Summer Games. I have never been to the World Games before, but I have lived in the Middle East. I lived in the Kingdom of Bahrain for four and a half years. It was such an amazing experience that going to Abu Dhabi was like going back home, and of course, going there for the World Summer Games was a very special opportunity that I will always treasure. It was so wonderful to see all the world come together for one common goal: To participate in sports.

    What is your favorite experience and or proudest moment as an IGM?

 My proudest moment was being selected as an SSIGM. I just could not believe that I had been chosen for such an honor. To be able to be a voice for Special Olympics on the world stage is very humbling. This is such an exciting experience for me and my family. My favorite experience might be getting to sing the National Anthem at Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox. I was super scared to go out there in front of thousands of people but really excited to show the world that I am not just a person with a disability, I am a person with ability. We all are. Given the right opportunity the world can see we have gifts just waiting to be discovered and shared. 

    For people who don’t know a lot about Special Olympics and want to know more about it. What would you like them to know? 

I would want them to know that Special Olympics is not ONLY a year-round sports organization for children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities but an organization that has opportunities for the whole person. There are programs in Special Olympics for public speaking, athlete leadership, athlete health initiatives, community engagement and friendships. These opportunities are right inside the door. I would want them to know that Special Olympics takes people like me, who have been on the sidelines of life, and puts them on the playing field of life by looking at what a person CAN do, not at what they cannot do. When you begin to focus on a person’s abilities, that’s when they really shine!

    Why do you think it’s important for Special Olympics athletes leaders to be involved and have a voice in the movement?

The most important thing is to be seen and heard. I think it is important for Athlete Leaders to be directly involved because if we are not directly involved, it’s easy to think we don’t care or things do not matter to us, when that is not the case. We are people WITH ideas and opinions that matters. If we are all working together we will accomplish so much more. United we stand, Divided we fall. It’s important for everyone to be an active member of their community and have a voice in the movement because we want the world to see that we are not just people with ID.

    What are your future goals as a Special Olympics Athlete and as a IGM? 

My future goals as an athlete are to continue to compete for however long I am able. I want to be in the best physical condition I can be and I hope to be an example to others that there is no limit! My future goals as an SSIGM are to change the world’s views and perspectives, in a world that is not always understanding of people with ID, not to see our limitations but that there are no limits to what can be accomplished when we all work together. My hope is that everyone in the world will see us as community members, coworkers, neighbours, and friends. We all have something to contribute and Special Olympics provides all of us with the opportunity to let our abilities shine.

Renee Manfredi

Here’s the link to Renee sent me to share it’s a video and a interview with Bank of America. She got to sing the national Anthem at a Red Sox game! How awesome is that! I really encourage you to check it out!

https://about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/partnering-locally/power-to-have-a-voice.html#fbid=PDEyTY3FVA1

Well that’s all for this blog post today! I hope that you enjoyed reading about Renee’s story. A big shout out and a huge thank you to Renee again for letting me share her story with all of you! I hope that we can do more things like this together to make a difference and get the word out there to people. I also want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to read my blog. It means the world to me. Enjoy the rest of your day and have a wonderful weekend!

~Crystal~