🌈Yes, I am Autistic; I Discovered This At 33.

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🌈E X P R E S S I V E #autism

“You’re doing too much.”

“You be doing the most.”

“You’re a lot.”

“Why are you so extra?”

“You shouldn’t have asked that.”

“Did you just say that?!”

“Sit down, Kris.”

“Tone it down.”

“Your posts are too long.”

“You’re too old to be using rainbows.”

“That’s just Karissa.”

“Relax your face.”

Conformity.

Conformity was never my cup of tea. I’ve sipped several times, but it never tasted quite right. Typically, that lukewarm bitterness always found itself spat out.

I couldn’t deal with the box. It never fit.

However, because of my “packaging” I got away with a lot. Yes, because of how I look and my language, I never got evaluated, never showed severe enough signs to even be suspected. Why? Mimicking. Modeling. Copying. Con. Form. Ing.

Never found out I was on the autism spectrum until the age of 33. I’m talking months ago, y’all. Never had a clue.

Throughout my life, I watched and studied everyone and tried to appear #normal—whatever that is; I tried to blend in.

But…

•from my tantrums in front of the tv (Dad shut that down before he went on leave to Alaska #DoItOneMoTime)

•naked streaks in the home (got to pick that up when he left and it was just all girls)

•cussing volcano (ask my brother KaDar or my sisters about that one day.)

•disdain for eggs, pancakes, macaroni and cheese, grits

•shyness mixed with stuttering

•bouncing a little extra while my sisters and I sang

•sensitivity to certain materials, textures, jewelry, scents, and ingredients

all proved that I couldn’t just blend in. Apparently it didn’t phase me too much.

However, my stimming emerged in different ways. Sophisticated stimming is what I now call it.

I learned how to manage it. Learned how to cope.

Part of my coping with my #extraness happened through various activities and from childhood until now.

Odyssey of the Mind

Forensics

Cheerleading

Free Spirit Show Choir

Marching Band

Concert Band

Basketball

Volleyball Camp

Tennis

Track

Clubs, offices, councils and societies galore

Souls A Fire Gospel Choir

Frontline at ORU

Songwriting in seconds

Speedy Math Skills

Modeling

Acting

Drummer

Author

Speaker

Substitute Teacher

Learning “foreign” languages

State Praise Dance Choreographer

Toastmasters

Exploring all seven continents

and those are just a few that helped me #LetItOut.

So if you came into my life mid-song, I must share: the treble and bass that God put in my soul ain’t going nowhere.

I’ve learned that my sophisticated stimming allowed me to “blend in” in this world. However, I’m interested in raising awareness about the autism SPECTRUM. Not just one side. All. Of. It. It is deep and diverse. After counsel and evaluations galore, I’ve been congratulated and celebrated for this discovery.

Let me be clear: I am not an expert. I am not a licensed medical professional. I chose Special Education as my major for three years. I changed it and graduated with a BA in International Community Development with two concentrations in Special Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. I’m challenged to search and study more now. Back in the day, girls easily got overlooked because of their social skills. Just look up “Autism in Females: How is It Different?” on YouTube. I cried through it because it was all me. Thanks to Special Education teacher Kelsey at G. Stanley Elementary for introducing me to that video. Thanks to Darius for telling me about Temple Grandin. What an inspiration!

Will I be the voice for non-verbal autistic peeps? Absolutely not. They, in fact, have their own voices. WE simply have to listen to HOW they speak.

I look forward to sharing my voice and journey about how I functioned WITHOUT the label for 32 years.

Slap the autistic label on a child; no problem. Just make sure that when you explain autism to a child—if you dare—you explain that they carry superpowers, are genius in their own way, and that YOU are willing to WORK to draw out the genius, to fan their flame, to exercise extreme patience, and to respect them enough to study and learn them.

Faces were scratched out if the students left mid-year. I was at a school full of other military brats like me. I’m clearly the one leaning in the pink.

One of the key elements of blackness is resilience. So on this seventh day of Black History Month, I can’t help but applaud this little resilient girl who used a combo of faith, fire, and imagination to get to this point. I applaud my mother for helping me figure out some things and make modifications for me knowing my challenges, but not my diagnosis. She got me the right creams, gave me instruments, non-nickel jewelry, and didn’t force things in my diet like dairy. I applaud my father for influencing me to suppress the tantrums. I applaud him for being the only living parent to say these words: “Yep, I could see that. It makes sense. I’ve always told you that you were a genius.” I applaud those who fanned my flame. I applaud the teachers who told me I was gifted and special.

I applaud those who laughed at me; I also admonish them to stop the madness; I challenge them to look at the gifts in a person with curiosity instead of judgment; I nudge them closer to research instead of ridicule; I push them nearer to advocacy instead of teasing.

#LetsGoDoBe

P. S. If you’re looking for a diagnosis as an adult, it may be difficult, but the best place to start is in the school district in your area. They can direct you accordingly. You can also look up autism groups in your state or region. They’re rising up now more than ever.

#Rom12v2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 

Bat Caves & the Root of Offense

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#BatCaves

The ROOT of the offense doesn’t come from an organization, institution, or individual. The ROOT is the enemy. Consider “Satan, the Lord rebuke you.” instead of toiling over an organization, institution, or individual. Whose power is greater? As believers, WE are operating from a place of victory. Additionally, “Faith without works is dead.” Thusly, in order to sufficiently align ourselves with the Word, we must be strategic and diligent with our prayers AND actions!

Scripture and tactics to consider:

1. Put on the whole armor of God. (Eph 6:11-18)

2. Know Satan’s devices. (2 Cor 2:11)

3. Give him no place (Eph 4:27).

4. Resist him. (James 4:7; 1 Pet 5:8-9)

5. Be sober and vigilant lest he devour them. (1 Pet 5:8-9)

6. Overcome him by the Word. (Matt 4:1-11 1 John 2:14)

7. Overcome him by the blood of Christ and testimony. (Rev 12:11)

8. Overcome him by Christ and His name. (Eph 1:19-22; 2:6; 2 Cor 2:15)

9. Overcome him by birth of the Spirit and faith. (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 5:1-4, 18)

10. Overcome him by the Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:1-13 **especially verse 6** Gal 5:15-26)

P. S. I used this bat cave from here in Turks and Caicos Islands for two reasons and one reason that I’ll share:

The bats were offended by the bright light, just like humans are when it’s being shone brightly in our faces and when the Word corrects us. It’s often difficult to process with a carnal lens, but much more palatable with a spiritual one.

Students: What do you think of when you hear Africa?

Africa, Education, explore, faith, Teaching, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

L🌍VE.

I’m a substitute teacher. I bounce around from school to school around my district and have yet to see more than three TEACHERS who look like me. I absolutely LOVE opportunities to ask my students this question:

What do you think of when you hear Africa?

Sure, I could substitute for both Omaha Public Schools, however I was raised in Papillion-La Vista School District. When I graduated with a class of 569 students, there were approximately 15 African-Americans. I never sat in a class with a Black teacher during my entire time in the district.

Let’s get back to the question.

What do you think of when you hear Africa?

🍍I think of sick kids.

🥑Dirt roads.

🥥Poor people.

🍦Helpless.

Above are actual answers from elementary school kids about a month ago.

When the little girl said, “Helpless.” I stopped and said, “I’m so glad that you said that, because there are so many lies that are being told about Africa and I want you to hear from someone who’s not on a screen and who actually visited.”

I didn’t go to Africa on a missions trip. I went on vacation. First to Egypt and then to Kenya. Pictured here I’m in Malindi, Kenya.

It’s in Kenya where my newly adopted Baba Baha told me, “Tell them we have ice cream over here.” He said that as we stood there eating some. We laughed so hard!

It was in Nairobi where I (confession) smuggled avocados back to Saudi Arabia because they were massive and I simply couldn’t go back without them. I took two.

It was in Kenya where I went to the Del Monte pineapple farm and stared at the unending rows and rows of pineapples.

It was in Kenya where I sat at the beach in Mombasa and drank fresh coconut water from a man who picked and pierced the coconut just for me.

So when I ask, “What do you think of when you hear Africa?” and then I hear statements like the ones aforementioned, my eyes light up! I realize: This is a teaching moment.

I do a test. I show them a picture and ask them where is this? It’s usually a picture of a dirt road or slum.

They almost always say, “Africa.”

I reply, “It’s Nebraska.”

I do it with a vibrant picture or setting and they reply, “Europe or Australia!”

I tell them, “Actually, it’s in Africa!”

😱

I pull out the photos of me in Kenya and the children’s jaws are ALWAYS on the ground.

It’s true, there are desolate places everywhere. I just have this holy conviction of telling new stories. The dirt road, shoeless kid narrative rings in our ears constantly.

Who will tell them of the golf courses in between Malinda and Mombasa?

Who will talk about the multi-millionaires and billionaires in African countries?

Who will tell them about the rich resources that can ONLY be found in heaps and bounds in African countries?

Who will tell them about M-Pesa and other brilliant mobile-tech ideas from African geniuses?

Who will show them Kenyan shillings with leaders on the currency who are even darker than me?

Who will show them the scarf that I bought and wore on the beach in Malindi that I later wore at the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

If you want to leave it to a substitute teacher to disseminate the information, I don’t mind. But I’m so glad to know that others are convicted about telling NEW stories too.

I’m not alone. Neither are you. If you went to an African country on vacation, please drop your memories in the comments.

I love hearing NEW stories.

Ciao for now!

Karissa Denae

P. S. I met a man in Kenya named Karisa. Apparently it’s a name for a boy. Guess what it means?! SHEPHERD!

P. S. S. Most of these photos were captured by Evans Maina. We attended the same church in Hangzhou, China. I was in China teaching English. He came to China for college. I think he was getting his Masters in Art there. For my birthday, he gave me one of his paintings that I saw in a gallery.

A Stroke THEN 7 Continents BEFORE 30 PODCAST

Anxiety, Depression, Education, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, Health, Health, wellness,, Lesson Planning, Mental Health, music, Podcast, stroke, Teaching, travel, Uncategorized, Wellness

So here’s the deal:

I got to meet this remarkable young man who I shared a stage with at the Leadership Africa Summit this summer. Tayo Rockson invited me to speak on his podcast called “As Told By Nomads” which is not only sweeping the nation, but the entire world.

Check out the 👉🏿 podcast 👈🏿 to hear how I had a stroke and then STRUCK back.

Ciao for now!

Karissa

sevenby30.com/books

International Day of the Girl

Anxiety, Depression, Education, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, Health, Health, wellness,, love, Mental Health, travel, Wellness, worldview

#InternationalDayOfTheGirl, let’s talk. 💋👇🏿

#StrokeSurvivor #TBT

This year marks 11 years since life struck me with a (mild) stroke.

It also marks…

• my Jesus year (33)

• 15 years since I graduated from high school.

• 11 years since I learned to write, speak, and walk again.

• 11 years since being sexually assaulted by my former boyfriend.

• 1 year since I truly forgave him and apologized for my attempts to tarnish his name.

• 9 years since I became a licensed evangelist missionary.

• 7 years since I graduated from college—four years “late.”

• 7 years since I took my first trip abroad.

• 6 years since I moved to China.

• 4 years since I moved to Saudi Arabia to teach at the largest women’s university in the world.

• 3 years since I made it to my 7th continent, Antarctica.

• 2 years since I wrote my first book.

• 2 years since my Mom got diagnosed with cancer.

• almost 3 months since my Mom went back to Heaven.

But daily,

I’m reminded that

I

HAVE

SURVIVED

EVERYTHING.

And guess what, girl?

You got this too.

No matter what life tosses your way,

slide on your gloves—lace or leather, and crush it with both hands.

You’re not just a survivor.

Not just a winner.

But you’re a girl.

And let me tell you,

WE have the POWER

to START and end wars,

to INFLUENCE and BIRTH nations.

to ENGINEER the most magnificent architectural masterpieces,

to TEACH and instruct with limitless intellect,

to CHANGE flat tires, diapers,

and the WORLD.

We were made well.

We were made slowly.

We were made last.

And you know what they say about the best. Yep, they’re always saved for last. 😘

But ladies, let’s be FIRST at walking together.

Let’s contend, not compete.

Let’s march together, girls. Let’s go. Let’s do. Let’s be.

#LetsGoDoBe ✌🏿❤️

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” #3John1v2

With Deep Love and Extreme Gratitude,

💋Karissa Denae Johnson

#BeforeAfter by Terrence Alexandre

🌟 #GloryToGod 🌟

✍🏿 karissa@sevenby30.com

You Go Girl Omaha Summit

Antarctica, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, love, travel

A few days ago, a couple hundred ladies from elementary age to senior citizens gathered in a room to share, glean, and root each other on. You Girl Girl Omaha was birthed by Rachel Fox, a mother of 10 who cares about the empowerment of women. I was honored to speak at the inaugural summit.  Below you’ll hear a few stories that I was fortunate to share with this bright audience.  

To book me to speak at your event, email karissa@sevenby30.com or click here.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Karissa

 

An Open Letter to My Single Brothers & Sisters

Antarctica, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, love, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

*******
DISCLAIMER: This is •my• open letter. You, of course, are entitled to your own.

While not all singles desire to be married, all singles should desire to be whole. While not all singles will get married, all singles should constantly strive for enhancement, development, and refinement.

What is written below is a conglomeration of that which has been poured into me over the course of my lifetime at home and abroad as a single woman. I have gleaned well and I am grateful for all of the seeds that have been sown. I am yet learning.
*******

Shalom, Kings & Queens. Shalom.

It is a joy to address you today. Perhaps I can have a moment of your time.

While you are preparing for your most intelligent choice, I’d like to share a few items that you may find beneficial.

Instead of asking, “Why are you still single?”, consider asking, “How are you stewarding your time as a single?”

CJ Hunter Called Me “Karissa “No Plans” Johnson”

explore, faith, family, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

As I write, I am moments away from packing the last bits of my bag for my trip to Coffeyfille, KS.  We’ll gather to remember CJ Hunter in just a matter of hours. It’s hard for me to take any trip abroad or domestically without thinking of the name CJ gave me.

Here’s the story:

Back in 2011 when I lacked the knowledge of how to prepare for my first international trip, I reached out to him first. I knew that he recently visited the UK and I was a fumbling and stumbling mess, in need of help.

I’d later reach out to Bishop Maurice Green of Bryan, TX. He graciously linked me to the Blackman family and the COGIC UK tribe. It was all divine.

CJ’s messages still bring a smile to my face.

I believe we Skyped that night too and I got a severe tongue lashing from him. We laughed until we cried that night because of my lack of planning. This was in September of 2011. My first trip abroad to England was in September of 2011. That’s when he first called me Karissa “No Plans” Johnson.

No Credit Cards for 7 Continents

Antarctica, explore, faith, family, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

🍃While living and working abroad, both companies in #China and #SaudiArabia provided lodging for me free of charge. I simply had to steward what I received.🌿


🌿Five years ago, while teaching in China, I paid off the commercial debt that I had which was less than $1,000. My trip to #Antarctica cost $5,000+. I used savings to pay for it. Responsible stewardship is critical.🍃

🍃After my first year of teaching English in China, I returned home for a vacation and sold my luxury car (Volkswagen Eos, hardtop convertible) in order to achieve my seven by 30 goal. I simply broke even with that sell.🌿

Fresh Start LIVE | Charity Fisher |Karissa Johnson

Antarctica, explore, faith, family, Foreign Language, travel, Uncategorized, worldview

The honor was all mine when Charity Fisher invited me on her show, Fresh Start LIVE! If you’ve never heard my testimony of seeing all seven continents before 30, now is the time. My first trip abroad was at 26 and I made it to Antarctica at 29. Possibilities await you. Start now!

Over 3,000 have watched this interview on Facebook with over 30 shares. Watch the full video from Charity’s YouTube page below and feel free to comment and subscribe!