Messages Come In Many Forms

The past few months I have been taking online certification classes in Meditation practice, Mindfulness Life Coaching, Life Purpose Life Coaching, CBT Cognitive Behavior Coaching, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Emotional Intelligence Comprehension, Reiki, Advocacy training, Understanding Special Education Law and programs, plus I have more to complete. This is all to help me move forward to becoming someone who is making a difference every day to the world. To become someone who is happy to wake up each morning and go to work because it is doing something that I want to do and feel good about each day. Not crossing days off of the calendar until I have time off.


Life comes around one time. I do not want to dread Sunday nights and Monday mornings anymore. So I am working hard to fix that. So in my voyage of understanding human emotions, I, of course, am required to examine my own as part of the course of study. One cannot help others find their dreams and fight for their rights until they have a clear understanding of their own emotions. It has been a very good journey so far. I have made a lot of necessary and happy changes already. I have also come to peace with things I will not change because they are part of what makes me who I am. People do things and say things for many reasons. Emotions are tough to manage. But love has zero boundaries. Everyone is capable of feeling the love.


Early this morning I had a dream, that I feel was very important. I feel that my studies have given me more clarity about this situation in my life. There are people in my life, people who are part of my bloodline as well. There is a broken circle that I am more than willing to mend and have tried on many occasions. I do not expect past events to go away, they should not. Our history is who we are and how we become the people we should be. But in my dream, I said these words that I guess my heart is longing to say. I think a lot of people need to say these words:

” There are things that I know you do not like about me. I am often disorganized. I let things get messy because there are things I would rather do than clean out the closet sometimes, I do not always care about labels, I am not into fashion designers, I often am uncomfortable at social events, it is not against the person who invited me, I am just happier in a small situation. I do not like confrontation. I know that I am often criticized for what I say, do, post, like, how I dress, my weight, how I raise my children, the list can go on. I am different from you, you are different from me and from your neighbor, and so on. But guess what? I love you. I still love you. I care about you. I miss you. I have things to tell you and I want to know about your life. “

People do things and say things for many reasons. Emotions are tough to manage. But love has zero boundaries. Everyone is capable of feeling love.

If we believe that dreams are our sub-conscience telling us something, I certainly received a message. Hours later I am still feeling like this dream was real. Messages come in all forms.

I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason” and that God has a plan for everyone.

Overwhelmed…almost all of the time.

One of the obstacles of being a person with ADD is that you feel overwhelmed almost every minute of every day. The stimulation of everyday life is simply a huge spiral of thoughts, decisions and tasks waiting to be completed.

I spent many years in my car. Literally, in my car. I would take the kids to school, and they were always in three different schools. Even though my oldest and youngest attended two of the same schools, their age difference never had them in those buildings at the same time.

My oldest son has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore, his day, and my day began with routines that would help him begin the school day on the “right foot” to insure that he would not have any meltdowns, or if nothing else, he would get into the building without getting upset. Each one of my children had some sort of need each morning. I tried desperately to have everything ready the night before, but of course with kids, that is almost impossible. As much as I tried to avoid chaos, we had those days when they were eating in the car as I drove, and sometimes completing homework they had forgotten to tell me about or I was signing permission slips at traffic lights.

That hectic ride would end and I would head off to work. In the beginning when they were younger, I worked full time, but, luckily, I was able to change that to part time for several years. This gave me some down time to go for a long walk, to collect myself, to refocus, as the running from place to place was very draining on me both physically and emotionally.

After school we would stay in our car as I drove my oldest to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. As time wore on, I was able to make changes to these routines, but not before we added the younger kids activities of : soccer, basketball, baseball (briefly), scouts, religion classes music and theater. My oldest became part of an agency that offered social classes for young people with autism, so my time in the car grew longer. At times, I would pack dinners and feed them in the car. There simply was no time and living on fast food was unhealthy and not in our budget.

When they were a little older and I did not have to stay with them at activities, I would try to go home in between, but often that was more trouble than it was worth. I put more mileage on my car driving locally than my husband did driving his car to another state to work each day.

The year that my middle child was graduating high school and my youngest was graduating eighth grade saw our family so busy, that we honestly felt like our heads were spinning. I kept lists because otherwise I would not have remembered to do anything I needed to do. My time at work became my respite because I really enjoyed it and it was something for me, not for anyone else. There was no time or money for manicures, or the gym. My “me” time was a walk on the boardwalk, which I did as often as I could.

During this time of running from place to place, my house began to suffer. I was so filled with what I had to do outside of the home, that I ran from room to room, getting distracted and leaving tasks half finished everywhere. It was not until my youngest went on to high school that I would learn what was happening with me. When she was diagnosed with ADD and anxiety, I was as well. I asked the doctor if I could take the tests too. As I listened to what was going on with her, I heard my life being described. My childhood, my adolescence, and now, adulthood.

We continued to run around until the pandemic this past year shut us down. For me, it was welcome relief. My brain started to rewire itself. I had and still have all of the anxiety that many others have through this worldwide ordeal, but I have worked to look inside my mind and take some time to breathe.

When too much is thrown at me at once. I stop. I step aside and try to make a mental and sometimes physical list of what needs to get accomplished first, then next. Whenever I get distracted, I force myself to be mindful and return to the original task. I say no when I feel overwhelmed by someone else’s request. I no longer offer explanations. I simply say, no, I’m sorry, I cannot do that. I do not allow myself to feel guilty.

I know my limitations. I do not let myself feel bad about them. I feel overwhelmed almost everyday. But I work through it the best that I can.

“At the end of the day, remind yourself that you did the best you could today, and that is good enough.”
― Lori Deschene

When Life Changes

We are living through historic times. Never before have we faced lock downs of services, of businesses, of schools, of entertainment and of normal life in general. The push to get back to “normal” has been a rough road for many people.

Prior to this pandemic, I was never at home. I would drop my daughter off to school, head to work and usually run errands, or head to my daughter’s sports or music events after work. I was President of the Parent Association of the high school my daughter was attending, I went with my husband to watch him coach soccer or basketball games. I would attend the events at my son’s programs. We went out every Friday night, I ran my kids around all day on Saturdays, leaving only Sunday to catch up on laundry, bills, sleep or any other work that needed to be done. Then it would start all over again.

In February, I got sick. I felt terrible. I had issues breathing and I was coughing. I ran a low grade temperature. I went to urgent care and was give prednisone and ordered to stay home from work for a few days. I was not tested for COVID 19 because I had not traveled anywhere and they felt my symptoms were not consistent with the virus and I should just be treated for a respiratory virus.

I stayed home a few days and my employer pushed me to come back. By early March I was not feeling well again. My throat was sore, I had a cough and a runny nose. I ran a fever the night of March 9 and stayed of work again. For the second time, I was denied a COVID 19 test because sore throat was not consistent with symptoms at this time. A few days went by, I was still running a fever so my doctor sent myself and my husband to a testing site at a local hospital. Only about three people had tested positive in my hometown, it was not “going around” yet in my area. For the third time, I was denied testing for inconsistent symptoms. My husband was as well.

We were sent home to quarantine and I continued to run a fever for two weeks. I was never so sick before. I was basically bedridden. I could not eat. I did not hold down what I managed to eat anyway. I was exhausted by everything. I needed to sleep sitting up or I would cough all night. My back hurt, my stomach hurt, my body was one mess of pain. I felt as though knives were stabbing me up and down my entire body. I sat with my CPAP mask on all day and all night to help stop the coughing and keep me breathing steadily. I was freezing, o matter what I did I could not stay warm. My temperature never went above 101.9, it was usually hovered between 100.4-100.7 but for someone like me with a normal body temperature of 97, that was high.

My husband made me get up and walk up and down the steps twice daily. He made me take showers no matter how awful and weak I felt. He got me Gatorade, and soups. He would not leave my side. I was very pale, almost milky white. I lost 15 pounds in less than two weeks. I do not lose weight easily on a normal basis. I kept my sickness to myself because in the early days of the discovery of the virus where I lived, it was treated as if you should be wearing a scarlet A. My doctor kept in touch with me and assured me that staying home, quarantining and doing whatever I needed to heal was the best for me and to call him immediately if things got to be too much.

During this time, my father was living next door to me, suffering from the affects of a stroke which left him unable to care for himself and showing many signs of dementia. I was unable to see him or my mother during this time of course, but I was grateful that his caregiver called me and let him speak to me. He told me to heat up red wine, add sugar and drink it down hot so that I was sweat out the fever. These were the last words he and I shared. When I was finally well enough to see him, the following month, he had suffered another stroke and could no longer speak.

My father passed away April 2, 2020 in his own home, quietly. It took several hours for the funeral home to be able to claim his body due to the COVID 19 situation. It was a sad, lonely funeral, with my oldest brother and my dad’s sister unable to attend due to COVID travel restrictions. My father was a person who had left his mark on the world. He was very active in his community, he changed the lives of many people through his active life in Boy Scouts, in community groups as well as in the business world. He deserved fanfare, but he got 12 of his family members, masks and asked to stand apart from one another instead of close and in comfort. His graveside service was short and quiet. I hated to leave him there. His casket sat alone, with only the flowers we had provided for the burial. We were not permitted to return to the cemetery for a few months. By the time we returned, the flowers were gone and it was a sunken patch of dirt with no marker.

These past months, I have felt change in my soul, in my heart. As a teacher of over 31 years, I see the challenges that are now part of my profession. I am not sure that I want to embrace them. I feel that this part of my life is past. I am in my mid fifties and want to do more than survive each week, masked and distanced from my students. Asking them to wash their hands all day. Yes, it is not such a big deal, but I am tired, I a past such changes mentally and emotionally.

In the final days of my illness, I felt so awful, that I truly feared that I would not make it. I have never felt so sick in my life. I have never experienced feeling as close to possibly dying as I did in those days. I felt as though I was slipping away. I feel that I have been given a chance to do more. I lost a few friend who were my age during the worst part of the COVID outbreak in my community, and I know that I am fortunate.

I was never tested for COVID 19, having been denied three times due to not having proper symptoms, but I know that I fought an intense battle within my body. My immune system, which is compromised due to having a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis and having the same high blood pressure issues that plagued my father, won a battle for me. I take vitamin C and Zinc now, I try to do something sort of healthy activity daily and I am more conscious of what I put in my body now. I have a gift, I am still here.

I have struggled with leaving my house. I never spent as much time in my house as I have this year. I have grown to like it, I feel very safe and comfortable. However, this has resulted in me feeling uncomfortable leaving the house. I am working to change that, carefully and slowly.

I want to do something better. We all should strive to be our best selves. We should look to what makes us happy. What we are good at. What we can do for others that will leave a positive imprint on them as well as on us.

“When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

John Lennon.

I do not feel that I should return to my former life. I am not sure anyone really should. Life has changed so much in this past year. We need to embrace the changes and make a new life that is better than the former. If we were happy prior to pandemic, that is wonderful, but there is always something we can improve on. Something we can increase, decrease or simply do differently. I hope many people explore their options. Life is shorter than we think. We do not always have more time. We need to make the best of the time we have been given.

My Legacy

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway

This quote appeared in my feed, in fact on this very site today. I have been struggling with writing a blog and have now shelved it in order to “bleed” a little right now.

Tonight was not an easy night. Tonight was a night when autism showed up and it showed it’s ugly side. We are fortunate in my house, autism has been relatively controllable, as our son has gotten older, but is will never disappear.

Although he arrived two months before he was supposed to, our oldest child has always exhibited brilliance beyond his age. His beautiful blue-green eyes constantly look to see what he can learn about the world around him. He is “better than google” according to his younger brother in reference to his ever growing knowledge of all things. At his sister’s sweet sixteen, she called her brother up to light a candle and stated, ” everyday you push past the boundaries and exceed the expectations society has laid out for you.”

He began to show signs of being “different” in his early toddler days. He began to speak full sentences prior to age 1, even being able to spell out words and read them aloud to us using the magnetic letters we had on our refrigerator.

Many people accused us of working on a “super genius”, because at the time, both my husband and I were teachers. We were not, we simply provided our child with what interested him, and that was letters, numbers and trains. At the time, we had no idea that these were signs of autism spectrum disorder.

While in college, studying education, my professors barely touched on the subject of autism. Autism was ONE paragraph in my graduate level special education textbook. Today, that autism and spectrum disorders are covered in entire semesters. But not then. My son could speak, therefore he was not autistic by definition.

He had some deficits. They were not noticeable until he reached age 2 and a half. By then he had a younger sibling and his regression was chalked up to having a new baby in the house.

I tried putting him in preschool programs but emotionally, he struggled. He could not get anyone to understand what he wanted, although he had good language skills. He became frustrated easily and my beautiful, quiet and intelligent child began to have massive tantrums, which I later found out were meltdowns.

I now know how to handle them, but at the time, I was devastated. He was always so sweet and happy and now he was miserable and screaming. Hurling his long, thin body to the ground no matter where we were.

Of course, I was to blame. I was blamed for all of it. It was my fault. I could not control my toddler and care for a baby at the same time. I over indulged my oldest and now he was a problem child.

When my pediatrician noted the regression in behavior and milestones, he suggested we take him for evaluations. He believed that it was behavioral but because of a developmental concern, not my mishandling of my child. I was grateful that he spoke to me kindly and honestly. He did not blame me, he did not treat me as a bad mother, he gave me possibilities of why this was happening.

Of course, it was still MY fault. I was creating a drama, creating a problem. My father helped me find a proper specialist in Manhattan, New York City. New York University Hospital was our next stop.

My father took my son and I for a ride into Manhattan to meet the neurologist that would diagnose my son. She did not take my medical coverage. We paid outright for her evaluation which lasted all of 45 minutes and cost over $500. She spoke to my pediatrician and they discussed him sending my son for more testing so that it would be covered under my coverage. My pediatrician agreed that these medical test were necessary and complied.

The outcome of all the evaluation was that my son was “on the spectrum”. 21 years ago this term was not as widely used as it is today. What she meant was that he had some form of autism but not the type that the general public was used to seeing. Today, there is no stereotype of a person with autism anymore, but in the days of “Rain Man” being the biggest reference, we were struggling to find answers and help.

I was blessed to work at a Christian school that allowed my son to sit in on classes with the Preschool teacher who was also my best friend. She and her assistant worked with him to gain more social skills and be more comfortable around other children. When he was old enough he remained in that class for another year. My father in-law was retired and he took my son out to see trains, and played games with him to keep him talking because his language skills were starting to spiral down, which can happen when a child on the spectrum is not stimulated properly.

We were renting from the mother in-law of my husband’s sister, and she also took my son, read to him, and spoke with him at great length about anything and everything that he loved. She studied and read books about children like him and offered him some at home early intervention that we had been denied because he did not fit the profile back in 1998. We are forever grateful to these wonderful people who took time to learn and to accept him instead of shunning him and saying that there was something ‘wrong” with him. Our parents, his grandparent’s support was priceless and we are very lucky.

There was no “special education magic room” for him, so many people stated that he should go to special education classes. In those days there were not many options for him. He would not have excelled in the classes they had in those days. In fact, he was not even accepted to them. He had excellent language skills. He could tell you about all the planets and name all of the Great Lakes by age 3. He knew so much about trains that he could give you information about the train by looking at it’s wheels. He sang beautifully, he had comprehension of the books that we read to him. He was not silent, he flapped his arms but was able to complete mathematics equations correctly in his head.

He needed Occupational and Physical therapy. He was denied so many services due to his high intellect. But he could not keep up with children in regular classes because he could not write as fast as they could. He also has O.C.D. which comes with the diagnosis, we found out later, and would continually erase his work because it was not perfect. He would fall behind the class and then meltdown, causing disruptions and disapproval by some teachers.

Through all of this, we did nothing but fight the system. The system that is supposed to help your child become successful but is actually designed to steal your tax dollars and deny your child appropriate services. I have spent 22 years fighting this system for my child. I did nothing but hear that he cannot get everything. Our reply was watch us. Why can’t he get everything? We pay taxes, he is a citizen, a student in our city who needs helps to be successful? Every child deserves to have what they need. Every child. I studied public law and learned that every child IS indeed entitled to a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.

We appealed decisions. We took the Department of Education to court. I personally sat with teachers and read his Individualized Education Plan with them because they did not read it and did not understand why he was acting the way he was at times. We fought for and won, the right for a crisis management paraprofessional to be with him at all times. We fought for, and won, speech therapy because even though he could speak, he needed oral motor therapy and language. He needed social skills and group speech afforded him some of that as well.

When he began middle school, the job of fighting for his rights became so overwhelming, that I left my full time job and worked part time. This caused major financial stress for our family, but in the end, gave us a stronger, grateful and more resilient family. There are so many chapters and components to our family story, I will not tell them all now. I will say, as hard as those times were to go through, we are better for living through them.

All of our children are in college now. Our oldest, who is on the spectrum, graduated High School with Honors. His beautiful voice was showcased at his graduation with a solo performance which remains one of the best moments of our lives. He attends college part time, taking one class each semester. He normally does very well and requires little help from anyone in our family. He is part of a program that he helped designed which offers support for students on the autism spectrum. He completes his work on his own, and up until now has maintained a grade point average of 3.67 or better.

But this semester, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his classes are remote only. He has been struggling with a lab that he needs to complete that does not have a true hands on component that he needs. He was very upset and I could not reason with him. I could not get him to discuss any solutions or options other than dropping the class, which at this late date would be costly. I also feel he can succeed at this class, but his mind was made up. He simply would not budge and had a terrible night. He had outbursts that I have not heard, nor seen in a long time. At this stage of life, he is 6’5″ and a grown man. He is not violent, but it is harder to deal with a man than a child. He was relentless in not discussing any solutions other than quitting.

Later on in the night, he finally relented and tried what I asked. Today he is happy and calmer, all set to try what I set up. However, it was not easy. No one outgrows autism, we accept it as part of our lives,we move forward, but it is there. It needs to be understood, it needs to worked with, but it does not disappear because they are no longer children. Most of the world forgets this. Children grow up to be adults. ALL CHILDREN. Autism grows with them.

I am currently on family leave to help set him up with some sort of live schedule in addition to his remote schedule. Things have changed due to the pandemic as far as his care. I will not leave just anyone with him. I certainly cannot and will not. Any worker who stays with him must be trained plus pass mandatory back ground checks and the like. This is life long. It grows with your child. I am not looking for sympathy. I am extremely proud at how far our son has gone in his life and how much he continues to grow as a man, as a person. I am proud of who I am , because of him.

My plan is to work with parents. To empower them. To educate them on how to find what they need for their children and get it no matter what those in charge claim. I could easily do the work for the parents but then what next? You will never stop advocating for your children, nor should you. A parent is the number one advocate, their biggest fan, and the greatest supporter a child will ever have. That does not end at 18, or 21, or 30. It does not end. This is your legacy, your statement you leave for the rest of the world.

My father passed away on April 2, 2020. He believed that we should leave every place you go to better than when you found it. My father was a long time Boy Scout Leader who followed the 12 points of the Scout law faithfully and lived by that and Lord Baden Powell’s words:

“Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in the feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”

I hope that our struggle, our fight, and our triumphs have made a difference. There is much more to do.

My father indeed left this world better than he found it, and so shall I.

Back to School 2020

Social media and our news has been flooded with stories about how teachers are “afraid” to return to their classrooms.  The general public has either been incredibly sympathetic or cruel and judgmental.  Calls to dock their pay or calling teachers “chickens” and comparing them nurses in a way to shame them has been a regular occurrence on Facebook, Twitter, and other means of mass communication.

I have been an educator for 31 years.  I love my students.  I have former students who are old enough to have children who could be my current students.  I love reading about what they are doing, I love seeing photographs of their children and seeing what they are doing with their lives.

I have always loved the start of the school year.  The newness, the expectations,  how refreshed we all are after taking time out to breathe and regroup over the summer.  I excitedly plan my welcome back bulletin boards.  I think of new ways to set up the classroom and ideas to make the year more successful.

Teachers WANT to be in their classrooms.  They are NOT lazy.  They are NOT weak.  In fact, they are far from weak.   How many of you who are standing in judgment deal with 30+ people in the various stages of development, hormones raging if they are pre-teens and teenagers,  humans filled with anxiety or perhaps crying due to separation from their parents if they are younger, many who have zero interest in being in your presence, of sitting down and hearing what you have to say.  How many of you are spending 7 hours with those same people trying to motivate and guide them through materials and protocol that often you have nothing to do with deciding upon?

Teachers today are extremely micromanaged by others who in most cases, have either not been inside a classroom for years or have, in fact, never been inside a classroom.  How many of you are told how to do your job by people who have not put in the time to earn the degree?  Have worked hard and experienced what you experience on a daily basis?  Not as many as there were years ago.  Years ago, administrators had to have a great deal of classroom experience.  That is not the case anymore.    The loudest screams, the toughest criticism comes most often from parents who are struggling at home to handle 1-3 children of their own, yet they are the experts on how you should be doing YOUR job.

Teachers deal with this.  They look past it, they do yoga and meditation and have a glass of wine or laugh with colleagues, they rise above.  But this time.  Many cannot.  They cannot because they do not TRUST those who are in charge of preparing how this year and perhaps the future of their lives will look like.  They cannot trust corrupt systems who have repeatedly put their own personal interests ahead of the children of their city, or their state, of their town, of their own communities.

In addition to being a teacher, I have been a parent for almost 25 years.  I have sent in cleaning supplies every single year that I have had a child in school.  Every single year, and I have three children.  As a teacher, I have collected these supplies, kept track of who sent in what, so that I did not ask the same parent to send in more over and over.  I have replenished out of my own pocket every single year, the same as countless other teachers, all while supplying my own children’s classrooms.  After all of these years of supplying out our own pockets, how are we to trust that supplies will be readily available for us to use when we are told that we are to ward off germs in addition to the work we are already responsible for?   We are put in the position to be sure the children in our care are safe every day.  Safe from injury, safe from intruders, safe from possible armed attacks while in school, safe from bullies, and now safe from viruses that we know little about.   Yes, we will do that.  We will continue to put our children’s well being first.  However, will YOU supply us with the tools we need?  Will you be honest with us when there are problems?  Will you be honest with us about the true safety issues facing us?  Will you be honest with us about where the money that is supposed to be used to help us and our students have a better year?  The answer is a resounding NO.

The answer is NO.  It is no in the New York City Department of Education although, they will tell you that the answer is YES.  It has been NO for many years now.  They simply do not put the needs of our city’s children first in any situation.  If they did, we probably would not have been hit with as many reported illnesses or deaths in the school system as we were.  We would not have had to make as many changes as we have to now.  Our children should ALWAYS be learning in classrooms with smaller class sizes.  They deserve the attention a teacher is able to give them in a class of 15 rather than a class of 32 or more.  Studies show that smaller class sizes are 100% more beneficial and conducive for learning.  It is a no brainer.

But instead.  they take our money, they hire their friends.  Friends who are not qualified to be a part of your child’s education.  Have no business being involved because they are clueless about the process and the appropriate needs of students.  they hire themselves, Yoga gurus.  They hire outside vendors at high prices to do jobs that they themselves should be doing.

They have had since March to take action.  But they have not.  They have tossed things together and left principals standing there holding a half-empty bag of ideas most of which are unusable in the schools that principals are trying to get up and running again.

In addition to all of this, we have the media reporting stories to rile up the masses rather than inform them.  To either anger people or frighten them, it depends upon the day.  No one truly has any idea how dangerous this virus is because of the stories and the number change depending upon what is happening in the news that day.

Make no mistake.  People WANT some normalcy.  Anyone who believes that the average person wants to sit in their house day after day with no contact with anyone, no hugs, no restaurants, sports with no fans, no indoor dining, no big weddings or concerts is wrong. The average person likes to the freedom to come and go as he or she pleases, without worrying about whether they brought their mask, without concern of whether they break a new rule.  Teachers want to teach IN their classrooms with children in front of them,   Please stop ridiculing them.  Please stop vilifying them.

Are some teachers afraid?  Yes, of course, this is the case.  Many have some health issues, have a family member with health issues, have known someone who has died from the virus, or perhaps simply,  like me, have been in the field long enough to truly feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the new training and rules that will ultimately distract us from learning.    I am over 50, I have an autoimmune disease and a disabled son, whose world has been tossed and turned as well.  So I am on leave at this moment trying to make some sense of things for him before I look to return to “normal”.  But what is my new normal?  I do not know yet.  In fact, very few people know what they will be doing tomorrow, never mind a new normal for the school year.

Let’s support one another.  Let us recognize that no one can trust what we are hearing or being told right now.  We all need to keep open minds.  We all need to care for each other.  We need to not judge.  We, as humans first, need to stand together.

Dropping Crayons

My mother sat across from my first grade teacher and looked at her.  “Dropped her crayons?”  my mother incredulously asked.  “Yes” replied my teacher with a snarky look on her face.  ” I cannot allow her to go ahead in reading group because she drops her crayons quite often.”  My mother is the daughter of my grandmother, so therefore this matter did not go well for my teacher and I was placed in the appropriate reading group by the following morning.

My life has been a series of me dropping crayons.  Falling up stairs, unceremoniously dumping my pocketbook out on a regular basis to find my wallet which is lost to the many items that I acquire throughout each day.  I struggled through school, not because I was not bright enough, but because I simply dropped my crayons over and over literally and figuratively, even while attending graduate school.

As an educator, I have encountered many students, who simply encounter Murphy’s Law.  Never allowing myself to openly favor students, I chose instead to give them the patience and encouragement that was rarely afforded to me.  I would think back on how long and hard my days in school were prior to college and want to make it better for every child, even those who could not find their homework because the papers were all over their backpack no matter how many time we had organized them in  folders.

It was not until my youngest child entered High School that I discovered why the crayons had scattered so often for me.  My daughter was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  My daughter has tested as “Gifted and Talented” and was able to manage rather well until she became a middle school student.  Middle school was an incredible nightmare for her.  She absolutely understood the work taught, in fact, she was often ahead of the class as far as comprehension.  However, she simply could no longer focus since her class size had ballooned to over 32 students who never stopped chattering.  In addition, she could not calm her mind down to give appropriate written responses when she had a time limit.  Needless to say, many of her teachers met this with annoyance, only saw that she was inconsistent and unorganized.  She scored well on standardized tests not requiring essays and was at the top of her class.  During her final year, she missed Honor Society by an 8th of a point basically and a teacher who did not have the patience to work with  her decided that she should be excluded.  This child with very high intellect stood by and watched others walk around with medals on graduation day, while she stood bare, save for her white graduation robe over her beautiful dress.

I saw the repeat of my dropping crayons incident in her.  I did not know how to handle this.  She is a far better student than I ever was, inheriting her father’s ability to manage any mathematical issue placed in front of her, loving and devouring every part of environmental science, and having ability in art and music as well.  But she was not part of the Honor Society even with perfect and near perfect state exam scores.  Simply because she could not organize herself.  Like me, dropping my crayons among other things.

Her freshman English teacher suggested that we work towards getting her exam modifications that would permit her additional time on tests and even a separate location with less distractions.  We needed to have some evaluations done and low and behold, she fit the criteria for ADD.  In addition to my child fitting the mold, I found that I had a very high score in the area of Adult ADD.

There it was.  The open door of understanding.  I am a person who always ran to the library to find the answers.  Now I live on the internet whenever I am asking questions.  WHY?  HOW?

After years of thinking I simply was not smart enough.  I was not as good as everyone else.  I did not have the gift and so on and so forth….I knew.  A light went on for me in so many ways.  I allowed myself to be me.

As a student, I would lose entire class periods.  One minute I was sitting in class, and next, the class was over and I had no idea what had just happened.  In my mind, in my thoughts, there had been roses, princes and princesses, beautiful sunset, and flowing rivers.  My imagination guided me through the day.  I seemed to only “be awake’ during English, Social Studies and Music classes.  Almost everything else, I survived through by daydreaming, doodling, reading and writing.  I wrote entire novels starting at age 8 continuing through High School.  I have no idea what was taught in the classes while I was writing them,  I lived vicariously in worlds that I had created instead.

I no longer feel embarrassed that in a room with many people speaking at once, I cannot focus on what any person is saying.  Instead, I enjoy the decor, check out fashion and study the architecture of the building I happen to be in at the moment.  I manage.  I accept me and I love those who join in my acceptance.

I know that when I set myself to clean my house, I must write lists, stick to them and not go to more than one room at a time to work.  A person with ADD will go from room to room rarely completely a task because other issues pop up instead.

There are still many moments where I am dropping crayons, this blog is dedicated to sharing those times, in hopes that I will reach another crayon dropper and encourage them to stop and enjoy the colors, rather than scramble to pick them up.

Being alone is often easier, but not practical.

My best friend is often my pair of headphones.  I love to walk in the park or at the beach.  I have very high anxiety, which I do know comes hand in hand with ADD, and a walk soothes the soul in more ways than one.

Many friends have asked me to call them and let them know when I am walking because they would like to join me.  I rarely do that, sometimes it is because I do not know I am headed to the beach until I am actually there, and other times it is because I need to be alone.

After many years of hiding behind my mother and sitting in the back of a classroom, I have become quite vocal.  I have joined groups and now hold leadership positions.  This is very difficult for me.   As an educator, one would think that standing in front of a group is simple for me.  It is not.  I am far more comfortable around children than I will ever be in a room filled with adults and my peers.  Quite possibly because children are less likely to judge or it could be because their attention span is about the same as mine.

I hit overload very easily and then the anxiety sets in.  For many years, I would go to my doctor and he would prescribe me medication to keep me calm and of course encourage proper diet, with very few stimulants and exercise.  I tried very hard to follow his suggestions.

One day, it all stopped working.  I no longer wanted to take medication.  Xanax was making me into a zombie with brain fog.  I would fall asleep in the car while waiting for my daughter after school.  I felt like a drug addict must feel, because in truth, that is what I was becoming.  I went off Xanax cold turkey.

The weeks following, I was an emotional train wreck.  Hardly anyone knew about this.  I hid it very well.  I would sit in my car literally paralyzed.  Unable to get out of it to go into my own home.  I would stand in the supermarket frozen, not able to process what I needed to do.  Needless to say we were lacking in supplies, since ADD had me forgetting items and now I was too anxious even to follow my list.

I was definitely better on the days I was scheduled to work.  Anxiety would plague me until I got into the building and began to teach.  The auto pilot that was in me would turn on and raise my spirit, give me focus, give me purpose.

My work had dwindled over the past few years.  My part time job had started out lucrative but had deteriorated due to events beyond the control of my department.  This isolation, although I often craved it, was in the end not healthy for me.

While being alone, kept me from having to decipher conversations which involved more than one person, or focusing on a voice in a loud crowed room in order to form an intelligible reply, it was not beneficial to the anxiety and depression I was suffering from.

I turned again to the internet to search for help.  I found it.  I signed up for an online course in Meditation Certification.  From the moment I began to read the first lesson, my entire mind and body calmed down.  I felt connected to a world that understood me.  What I needed to help me slow down my mind which was speeding at all times.

There are so many types of mediation, of course for me, the best is being mindful.  A person with little or no attention span has a terrible time being aware of living in the moment and not thinking of anything else.  Your brain literally has to be retrained.   I am far better than I was but I have a long way to go.

I know that there are those who probably snicker behind my back about meditation practices but that is their right.  Meditation teaches tolerance to all.  I hope to hold a meditation instructor’s certificate one day utilizing my teaching skills to help others in mindfulness, focus and the ability to calm oneself.

As I sit at the computer this morning, writing, I am fighting the panic, the anxiety of life in general.  I long for a day when financial burdens do not send me into a tailspin.  I am thinking about the beach, the ocean breezes and the roar of the waves crashing against the sand.  These are thoughts that calm my soul when the crayons begin to fall one by one out of my hands led by the overloaded days that are my life at times.  At conclusion of this blog, I will get out my Zafu, which is a meditation pillow, sit with my back straight, listen to the music and put my mind on track.

I am thankful that I am no longer putting the poisons of medication into my body and I will not medicate my daughter.  The world is filled with natural ways to work on your brain and to soothe your soul.  Each person is unique and special.  Acceptance of who one is born to be needs to play a part in our daily life.  I turn to meditation, walking, breathing with purpose, music, nature and prayer to control the disruption of the outside world.  I am working on a far more natural diet in every sense of the word.  Feeding my body, heart, mind and soul with the best that the earth has to offer.  Including people who nourish my life.

Being alone is often easier, but it is not necessary if we learn how to strengthen ourselves to savor the moments we need to.   Life is not meant to be this hard.

Life is a beautiful gift.

Dropping Crayons: the beginning

My mother sat across from my first grade teacher and looked at her.  “Dropped her crayons?”  my mother incredulously asked.  “Yes” replied my teacher with a snarky look on her face.  ” I cannot allow her to go ahead in reading group because she drops her crayons quite often.”  My mother is the daughter of my grandmother, so therefore this matter did not go well for my teacher and I was placed in the appropriate reading group by the following morning.

My life has been a series of me dropping crayons.  Falling up stairs, unceremoniously dumping my pocketbook out on a regular basis to find my wallet which is lost to the many items that I acquire throughout each day.  I struggled through school, not because I was not bright enough, but because I simply dropped my crayons over and over literally and figuratively, even while attending graduate school.

As an educator, I have encountered many students, who simply encounter Murphy’s Law.  Never allowing myself to openly favor students, I chose instead to give them the patience and encouragement that was rarely afforded to me.  I would think back on how long and hard my days in school were prior to college and want to make it better for every child, even those who could not find their homework because the papers were all over their backpack no matter how many time we had organized them in  folders.

It was not until my youngest child entered High School that I discovered why the crayons had scattered so often for me.  My daughter was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  My daughter has tested as “Gifted and Talented” and was able to manage rather well until she became a middle school student.  Middle school was an incredible nightmare for her.  She absolutely understood the work taught, in fact, she was often ahead of the class as far as comprehension.  However, she simply could no longer focus since her class size had ballooned to over 32 students who never stopped chattering.  In addition, she could not calm her mind down to give appropriate written responses when she had a time limit.  Needless to say, many of her teachers met this with annoyance, only saw that she was inconsistent and unorganized.  She scored well on standardized tests not requiring essays and was at the top of her class.  During her final year, she missed Honor Society by an 8th of a point basically and a teacher who did not have the patience to work with  her decided that she should be excluded.  This child with very high intellect stood by and watched others walk around with medals on graduation day, while she stood bare, save for her white graduation robe over her beautiful dress.

I saw the repeat of my dropping crayons incident in her.  I did not know how to handle this.  She is a far better student than I ever was, inheriting her father’s ability to manage any mathematical issue placed in front of her, loving and devouring every part of environmental science, and having ability in art and music as well.  But she was not part of the Honor Society even with perfect and near perfect state exam scores.  Simply because she could not organize herself.  Like me, dropping my crayons among other things.

Her freshman English teacher suggested that we work towards getting her exam modifications that would permit her additional time on tests and even a separate location with less distractions.  We needed to have some evaluations done and low and behold, she fit the criteria for ADD.  In addition to my child fitting the mold, I found that I had a very high score in the area of Adult ADD.

There it was.  The open door of understanding.  I am a person who always ran to the library to find the answers.  Now I live on the internet whenever I am asking questions.  WHY?  HOW?

After years of thinking I simply was not smart enough.  I was not as good as everyone else.  I did not have the gift and so on and so forth….I knew.  A light went on for me in so many ways.  I allowed myself to be me.

As a student, I would lose entire class periods.  One minute I was sitting in class, and next, the class was over and I had no idea what had just happened.  In my mind, in my thoughts, there had been roses, princes and princesses, beautiful sunset, and flowing rivers.  My imagination guided me through the day.  I seemed to only “be awake’ during English, Social Studies and Music classes.  Almost everything else, I survived through by daydreaming, doodling, reading and writing.  I wrote entire novels starting at age 8 continuing through High School.  I have no idea what was taught in the classes while I was writing them,  I lived vicariously in worlds that I had created instead.

I no longer feel embarrassed that in a room with many people speaking at once, I cannot focus on what any person is saying.  Instead, I enjoy the decor, check out fashion and study the architecture of the building I happen to be in at the moment.  I manage.  I accept me and I love those who join in my acceptance.

I know that when I set myself to clean my house, I must write lists, stick to them and not go to more than one room at a time to work.  A person with ADD will go from room to room rarely completely a task because other issues pop up instead.

There are still many moments where I am dropping crayons, this blog is dedicated to sharing those times, in hopes that I will reach another crayon dropper and encourage them to stop and enjoy the colors, rather than scramble to pick them up.