Mallory Paige Designs, Inc.

Moving Mountains for Adults with Disabilities

Wrapping up 2017 on a high note!

Tiffany McDowell

Mallory and I can't even begin to adequately express our sincere feelings of gratitude for the amazing year you have all provided for Mallory Paige Designs. It started with my crazy idea in July that maybe we should consider taking our bracelets on the road and telling our story in person. We applied for vendor entry at Southern Charm at the Farm in Clemmons, NC and WE WERE CHOSEN! The outpouring of love and support for our little business was overwhelming, and we were humbled at the amount of new friends and fellow advocates that joined our mission. Our online store grew triple-fold over the last year, too, and we are incredibly grateful for our "virtual friends," too! Proving that #everylifematters seemed to be a gargantuan task when we started years ago, but each day that we are allowed to meet new people, tell our story and share our bracelets chips away at that mountain of stigma.

We hope to see you all again (and again!) in 2018 and to do this thing all over (except even BIGGER!). Thank you for your continued support of our company and for spreading the word. May God bless you in the coming year and cross our paths again!

XOXO,

Tiff & Mal

A short one...

Tiffany McDowell

Mal was born in 1989, and the life expectancy for people with Down Syndrome even then was still mid-20's. I remember the day I read that in the library (even in elementary school I wanted to know everything I could in order to protect her) and being inconsolable when I got home - I literally held her for hours trying to soak in every detail about her. It was that day that I vowed to make her life as great as it could be regardless of how many years it would encompass, and my mission began. The thought that she is now 26 (27 in November) and I had been convinced as a small child that THIS is when I thought I would be losing my baby sister still has not lost its effect on me.

I feel like God heard my tearful prayers as a small girl and answered them for me and for many others. I refuse to waste these years that I didn't expect to have sitting back and NOT advocating for my sister's quality of life as a woman and citizen of this country. Come see how we're doing it!

 

The Little Big Things

Tiffany McDowell

Mal doesn't like deviations from schedules. She doesn't, particularly, like change. However, in watching her develop into a woman, there are things I've learned about myself:

For example, she doesn't stray from a bedtime routine. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are midnight bedtimes and Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are 9PM bedtimes. Whether you think that's absurd or not is beyond the point - she doesn't really care. What I've learned about myself is I HAVE NO CUTOFF SWITCH! I could use her devotion to daily rituals. In fact, there is actual scientific evidence that shows these habits are the things that separate star performers and average performers in several realms. I've noticed for the past several months I've gotten less and less sleep -- roughly 6 hours a night. Not because I'm important and busy, but because I lack the ability to STOP.  I have trouble sitting still, and as I busy myself with ten million things to do, I suddenly look up and realize it's midnight and I have to get up at 5:30. This wouldn't happen with Mal. Not more than one night in a row, at least.

Mallory also knows what she likes to wear. No one gets much input on that in regards to her daily routine. Wasn't Steve Jobs perspective that he had too many important things that need his mental energy, so he refused to waste it on deciding what to wear every morning? So his signature look - black shirt and jeans - was born. Mal isn't quite that intense, but you better believe you'll catch her in all black on Friday's (what she calls "Black Friday!!").

She sticks to her "workout" routine every. single. day. 30 minutes of jumping on a single-person trampoline is one of her secrets to keeping in shape (I'll post transformation pics - INCREDIBLE!!). I'm a runner. I genuinely enjoy running. But I'm inconsistent at best with a routine. Granted, I have several things to juggle, but that doesn't matter to Mal. She jumps. That won't be sacrificed according to what's going on that day. I need to learn!

The "little things" as we would see them, aren't little to Mal. They're worthy of her attention and dedication because they add up to big things. We all know this, but somehow we fail to stay devoted to keeping them in order. Again, Mal makes me question what we label a "disability." She seems much more "able" to do many things that the rest of us struggle to get done.

Dear Mom...

Tiffany McDowell

As a mother, myself, I marvel at each of my three daughters on a daily basis and at the rate at which they’re growing into their very own human being. Each morning as I march through bedrooms, turning off unattended alarm clocks, turning on lights and reciting my usual, “Feet on the floor (insert girl’s name here), it’s (insert time here),” I realize the days of this ritual are numbered. I’m in the midst of “Mom Season,” and although I adore this season of my life, I still submit to the fear that can creep into our Momma-hearts. The one that makes you second guess every parenting decision you’ve ever made. The one that suggests that, well, maybe you haven’t really done your job after all.

My oldest daughter is a senior in high school. She’s such a sweet girl. As we wade through the senior activities like capping, rehearsals and graduation invitations, I can’t help but think back to the way things were when I was her age. This senior year experience has also sent me back in time to the year my mother passed away. It was Mallory’s senior year of high school. The November before her June graduation to be exact. The day after Mallory’s 20th birthday. Mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in September, and it had already metastasized. It was in her lungs, her spine and the base of her skull. She never left the hospital. She never got better. She was put on a ventilator within days of being admitted, and after late September we never heard her voice again. Even when she was still with us – we were forced to communicate through pen and paper, and the morphine took that away after a few weeks.

I’m anxious for the day I can see Mom’s face again in person. But the truth is that day isn’t today, and the struggle of balancing motherhood without my mom around for advice, a career (the job that writes ME a check as I sometimes joke), a start-up that I wish I could spend all of my time in but can’t afford to (yet), my sister, my marriage, aging in-laws, selling a house…you know…human stuff…is more than I can handle at times. The simple thought of my mom handling all that life threw at her like a boss stops my struggle bus dead in its tracks. My mom was a single mother with three young children, peanuts for child support from an ex-husband a state away, working a factory job and still holding down a home. She never let on that she worried until days before I heard her voice for the last time. I wish I had said more. I wish there had been more time. I wish I could have asked more questions. All we really mustered seemed to be all that needed to be said, “Take care of Mallory,” and “Of course I will.” But there was so much more to say. Maybe that’s why the daunting task of putting words together escaped me right up until the day she died. I would lay in bed and pour my heart out to my husband through gasping tears, but return to the hospital the next day to simply sit and hold my mom’s hand hoping she knew all the things I wasn’t saying. Most of all, I just really wish I could thank her and really know that she trusted me to take care of her baby.

If I could rewind the clock, I would have said a little more…

Dear Mom,

I hope you know that you’re the reason love existed in our family. When I think about my sister and the feelings of love and pride wash over me, I hope you know that you planted those seeds. I hope you trusted your own ability to foster kindness and humility in your children. I know, as a parent, we tend to doubt our own abilities, but I really hope you know that this was one thing that you did very well. Yes. I will see to it that Mallory has a good life. But even more, I hope I continue your legacy far beyond our little family. I hope the tiny steps we take in your memory today create a ripple that becomes a tidal wave of inclusion long after we’re gone. To know that the world is a better place because you were once in it should be the goal of every human on this planet. I can sincerely say that it was, indeed, the accomplishment of one of the greatest humans I’ll ever know. I am honored to be called your daughter.

I love you, Mom.

XOXO,

Tiff (& Mal)

Our story is different...

Tiffany McDowell

I read articles about children born earlier in the 20th century (seriously...that wasn't THAT long ago) who were institutionalized immediately following their birth. Parents who were made to believe that having a child with Down Syndrome was a punishment from God for wrongdoing's of the past. Encouraged to forget about the past 9+ months, they were told to pretend there never was a pregnancy or a child. "Move on with YOUR life..." The life of the child never acknowledged as they were taken to a home for other "mistakes."

Mallory was born in 1989. I was 6 1/2. We had no clue that anything was different while my mom was pregnant. I don't know if that was by choice or if that was the OB's mistake, but my mom was never under the impression that Mallory would be any different from my older brother, Emmett, or me. I had asked for a sister as long as I can remember. My parents were actually in the middle of a separation and divorce that I was blissfully unaware of, but all the same...I was getting a baby sister!

I don't remember that day that my parents told us Mallory was different. Maybe because it was irrelevant to me, but I never looked at Mallory as anything but perfect. But I had to know. I have three daughters of my own now, and although they love each other fiercely, they argue and bicker the same - fiercely! Even as a small child, I never remember any emotion toward Mallory apart from adoration and the desire to protect her. I would go nose-to-nose with kids from school who used the "R-word" loooooong before there was a campaign to end it.

We lost our mom to a gut-wrenching battle with stage IV breast cancer the day after Mallory turned 20. Life can be so unfair. The only thing Mallory ever had to say about Mom being gone was on the day of her funeral, when she cried for the first and only time as we received guests after the service. "It's not FAIR!" was all she said as she crumbled onto the floor beside me. Her tears have always broken my heart, but this day was more than either of us could take. Before Mom was intubated in the hospital and could no longer talk, she asked me to take care of Mallory. "Of course I will..." was all I could muster, but I really had no idea what I meant. Although our biological dad had been long out of the picture, we had the greatest step-dad and knew he would take care of Mal as he always had. And he did. And I felt guilty.

What was I supposed to do? How much more could I do than what dad (step-dad) was already doing? Then it dawned on me. "Taking care" of someone with special needs isn't just making sure they have a place to sleep and food to eat. "Taking care" of them meant helping them "take care" of themselves. 

Over the next (almost) 6 years, Mallory Paige Designs evolved. Our #1 priority is promoting the ABILITIES of those so many in society see as DIS-ABLED and unable to provide for themselves. We vehemently disagree with this notion and are on a mission to prove the value these individuals bring to the workplace and to society.

We chose the MUSTARD SEED design based on Matthew 17:20 where Jesus tells His disciples that faith as small as a mustard seed can actually MOVE MOUNTAINS. Our goal is to "move the mountain of stigma" for adults with special needs. We want to help our typically-abled friends and clients see what Down Syndrome (and other conditions) really is.

We start with jewelry, but the sky's the limit. Please visit our shop today and help us MOVE MOUNTAINS FOR ADULTS WITH DOWN SYNDROME!