Change Your Lense

So I did something recently. I left a 33-year teaching career and decided it was time for me to be my own boss. I got to a point in my life where I was not dealing well with people that had less experience than me, telling me what to do all of the time. I also needed flexibility and more importantly, I needed to feel excited, happy, and that I had purpose again.

A friend of mine directed me to an Entrepreneur’s class for Women. I absolutely knew that I would need help understanding the ins and outs of starting and running my own business. The 10 weeks truly flew by. We worked very hard, but also had a lot of fun learning from amazing and established professionals, a few that had also gone through the program in the early days of their businesses. The best part of the program were the women I had the honor and privilege to meet and learn with. Each had their own inspiring story, and was filled with dreams and aspirations, just as I am.

After ten weeks of laughter mixed with uncertainty and hard work, we completed the course which also featured a “Shark Tank” pitch before judges who declared that each pitch was better than the next, we were done. A Graduation in person gave us the ability to finally able to meet in person, having zoomed for the course entirety.

I had done something else over those ten weeks. I had contacted a nutritionist who specialized in natural healing and wellness. I had lost 35 pounds in 44 days on a program that honestly is not that hard to follow if you do not mind eating well and very healthy. A commonsense program that sounds very hard, but in reality is that way we all should eat. I am far from complete with my weight loss and wellness journey, but I was feeling excited and happy to don a dress that I had never fit in before and walk in my entrepreneur class graduation.

My husband, has never once said a word to me about my appearance. I am often frazzled by this since I would like to know if he likes my hair or the outfit I am wearing. He tells me, I love you the same way I loved you when we married 30 years ago, it does not matter if you gain or lose weight, color your hair or grow it long or short, you are still you. I know I should be grateful since so many women are ridiculed by their spouses when they gain weight or age but, unfortunately I don’t have the same opinion of myself that he does. I did not feel like me. I felt trapped inside this person with poor mobility who looked nothing like the person I always remembered myself to be. I felt like my life would never be what I wanted it to be if I stayed like that.

I had tried diet after diet, exercised, drank water, guzzled weight loss drinks. Tried medications, took supplements, suffered through eating freeze-dried foods. Went to meetings, weighed in, got cheered for losing 4 ounces a week, and then cried when I no longer lost any weight. I felt like I was looked down on. That I was not attractive, that I was someone who people talked about behind her back. Like: ” could she fit in a seat, what size did she wear, she must eat a lot at home, a closet eater, she is slow because she is so big, she used to be thin”, among other things.

Yes, I was thin once. But sadly I never thought I was. I was beautiful, sexy and thin, yet I never thought that about myself. I always thought I needed to fix myself. I started officially dieting at age 15, with a program. After that I spent many years, depriving myself, even becoming mildly bulimic. I had three difficult pregnancies and my body was no longer a body I could control no matter what I ate or drank.

I was completely bewildered at what my next step should be My doctor suggested that it was time to call a nutritionist. I hunted online, read through reviews and checked out backgrounds of several nutritionist. I joined an interactive webinar and felt as if all the participants were just like me. The nutritionist had several ideas and suggestions. I decided to move forward and speak to her personally.

After a few weeks of debating with myself, and discussions with my husband and therapist, we all decided I had to do something. I am very grateful that I took that step. But I am far from finished. My husband who has never cared whether I was fat or thin, proudly took videos and photos of me walking in and participating in the graduation. He posted them on to Facebook and told everyone how hard I worked and what a great accomplishment this was for me.

Unfortunatly, later on when I looked at Facebook, and at the photos he took, all I could think of was how fat Iooked, even after losing 35 pounds. I worked very hard to stop myself from thinking that, but it is there. I am 57 years old, a poor body image that has been present for more than 45 years is not going to go away overnight. Looking at my photos with critical eyes, hiding in the back of photos so I could barely be seen. Wearing black even if I did not want to, cropping photos, so my body did not show. All things I am working on with the wellness coach and the nutritionist to change.

I looked at the photos again today and tried to change my lense. I read the wonderful comments from some dear friends. Telling me I looked great and that they were proud and excited for me. I looked at my classmates who had never seen me in person until yesterday, they did not care that I as not a tiny- sized woman either. A good friend texted me privately to tell me how nice my dress was and that it was very flattering. The only person that mattered who had anything negative to say or think, was me. Truth is that I am really the only one who can fix that.

I have taken step one. Found a program that is helping me lose weight, inflammation, gain health and mobility through healthy living. They are working towards getting me to understand my needs and purpose. I took a great course to help me towards my goal of running my own business doing something I enjoy. I also need to learn that I am okay. I am more than a body. Beauty is far more than a trim figure and a perfect face. I am loved, I am a presence, I am powerful. Getting healthy matters far more than a dress size. Healthy is not only physical health. It is all around wellness.

So I am going to smile at my celebration photos. I am going to rejoice in the fact that my spouse of almost 3 decades sees the 24- year old woman he fell in love with when he looks at me. I am going to stand in the front and not hide in the back.

Now is the time

Although I married a political science major, I have never really been super political. I have been too busy mothering and trying to make ends meet like many other women my age. I have voted faithfully and I have signed petitions and spoken out when necessary. I find that many of my friends when asked how they feel, will usually respond with ” I don’t really follow politics”, ” I don’t bother to vote, my vote does not matter” or “I would rather just be happy than fight over politics.” While all of the above are reasonable statements, NOW is time to pay attention.

” I don’t really follow politics”. Let’s think for a moment. Politicians are paid by taxpaying citizens. Therefore making that statement as a taxpaying citizen is completely misguided. If the owner of a company ignored what his/her employees were doing, how would that go? I think the answer is “not well.” This is what is happening now under our very eyes. Both of these parties are out of control, are existing for their own financial gain rather than the betterment of their country or community. Very few are following the will of their constituents and those that are listening, tend to be shut down and ignored by those with more powerful backing. WE the people (who are in charge) are being treated as afterthoughts and put on the pay no mind list.

“My vote does not count”. Sadly that is appearing to be true in some situations. We now have candidates who are being appointed rather than voted in. The “haves and have nots” are once again at war and the money is winning. If you have not recognized that every single thing that is happening is about money, I pray that you do, sooner than later.

” I just want to be happy and live my life”. We have every right as human beings to do exactly that. But we are slowly being denied that right and we are allowing it. We are all being conditioned to accept more rules and less freedom. Although we believed it was all for our safety in the beginning and maybe in some ways it was, it is not the case now. Re-writing science and history does not change what is clearly right in front of our faces.

WE must start to be stronger. We HAVE to stop allowing ourselves to be distracted. We are the most distracted creatures on the face of the earth. The animal world is far more intuitive and stronger than we are at this time. In fact, they probably always have been. They do what they need to do to survive without relying on anyone else to do the heavy work. They keep what they work for and use it to feed and shelter their families. We hand it over, at times with grumbling but we rarely do anything to change it.

We whine “there is nothing we can do about it.” Really? If our founding fathers said that, this country would not exist. If the civil rights warriors felt this way, we would have had zero progress in that area. They put themselves in harm’s way to fight for basic human rights. Generations before us were far stronger. We have allowed ourselves to become complacent, coddled, reliant, dependent, easily manipulated, and even lazy.

We need to open our eyes. The party of the people is no longer. In fact, neither party is what anyone thinks they are. There will be no savior coming to fix everything. We must fix ourselves.

The original American soldiers were poorly equipped men ranging from very young to at times very old. Called ragtag even by Washington. They were severe underdogs, but they were brave and stood strong against incredible pushback. Simple people fought hard and gave us freedom.

We need to remember why we are here. We are not placed upon this Earth to watch television, go to sporting events, theaters, shopping, and ignore anything unpleasant 100% of the time outside of going to work. We are here to feel all emotions. To leave a mark for the next generation. Destruction is not a good mark to leave.

We are allowing our God-given freedoms to slowly be stripped away. If you do not believe in God, then I will say, your basic human rights given by nature are in danger. If any animal were on the endangered list, we would care. It is time to see that we are on the endangered list.

There are of course theories that do not make sense, we all know that. But words that were spoken two years ago which we laughed at, are arriving one by one. Some of us see them, some are not ready and perhaps will never see them. We are dealing with unreasonable people who simply want to see how far they can go, and how much we will take before we say enough. They will continue to get us to focus on events that distract us while working to build up their own portfolios and hide evidence that might force us to see who they really are. It has been happening for years. We just have not been as broken as we are now. We are weak, frail, and broken. WE the people are better than this.

WE are strong. We are created in God’s image. We are marvels of nature. We can fix this. But not with division. We can fix this with unity and perseverance. But it is time to see that. No more fighting over politicians. They do not care about any of you. Please understand that. They are characters on the television or hand shakers at events. They are not real.

As we head to midterms, we must vote. Although we are all tired of choosing the “lesser of two evils” or we choose someone who promises the world and has yet to deliver. We must vote. Even if we believe it does not matter. It does. We must encourage everyone to vote. Vote for freedom, for policies that represent the people. DO not vote for the “person you like”. Trust me, you do not know that person.

Unless of course, you do. Some grassroots candidates have emerged. Real citizens, people who have actually been out there toeing the line, working. Instead of making money off our backs and through underhanded practices. I have taken the time to meet one of the young people who have the courage to try to primary one of the appointed ones in my community. If you want more information about him and live in my community I will be more than happy to share with you if you reach out. If you know real people coming out of their comfort zone to run please support them. Do not simply push this aside and say they will never win. Perhaps they won’t, but just maybe, maybe our voices will ring out loud and clear that we are here. We are this country. We are this world. We are stronger than the 1% that has decided that they know what is best for us. Those with loaded bank accounts are completely out of touch with what it takes to give our families what they need. It is time to stop staring at our phones or at computer screens and be present in what is happening in our lives. Please know that once you begin to learn, you will understand that all it takes is for us to stand up and be more involved. This is not only about us. What we do now will forever be a part of history.

If only

If only there was an off button for anxiety.

If only telling someone that everything will be okay worked.

If only listening to your favorite song worked forever.

If only getting a hug was a lasting cure.

If only it was easy to put on a coat and go out when anxiety has gripped you.

If only talking to a friend ended the feelings.

If only medication was the final answer.

If only it would never return.

If only the world would stop increasing the anxiety.

If only it would go away forever.

If only.

Please think, really think about this

Today we were essentially told that we were not welcome at the place we lovingly call our “happy place.” Although that is being emphatically denied and more than likely it was not said with the proper amount of thought, it is still what happened.

For my husband’s entire life, he has spent his summers at a lake in New England with family and friends that he calls family. He has been thrilled to bring his children there so that they can have the same wonderful memories that he has.

Last summer, even though things were difficult, we still were able to enjoy a safe vacation, distanced, outdoors and carefully with a smaller crowd than usual but still, it was the “happy place.”

This year those same people we were with last year, told that they agreed that they “only spend time with vaccinated people.” We are considered “un-vaccinated” even though we have tested positive for strong antibodies for the past 16 months. Every three months, we faithfully go to the lab and have our antibodies tested. Each time, the tests come back that we do still indeed have positive antibodies for the COVID-19 virus. We have read studies, namely the Cleveland Clinic study, that shows that people who have recovered from COVID 19 and retained long term antibodies and memory T cells have a similar, if not equal immunity as the vaccinated.

In fact, the vaccinated have not have antibodies as long as I have, unless they too have recovered and made the personal choice to get the vaccine instead of repeatedly getting tested to see how their immune system is holding up.

My husband and I have some medical issues and at this time getting the shot is far more risky than not getting it. As long as we retain immunity, we will continue to stay safe and build up our immune systems, as everyone should, vaccinated or not. We have both made these decisions while working with doctors.

This was a knife in our hearts. Last summer when we had antibodies and had recovered, the people at the lake were more of a risk to us than we were to them since we had recovered, and they had never been infected. We stayed outside and we distanced as we all should and had a very nice time.

What changed this year? Well the vaccine showed up. Let us first talk science. If you get a vaccine YOU are protecting YOU. PERIOD. Yes, I know about herd immunity. Herd immunity by definition is BOTH vaccinated immunity and naturally gained immunity through infection and recovery. BOTH. Until this virus. Miraculously, this is the only virus of it’s type in history where herd immunity is to be reached ONLY BY VACCINE. That has never been done.

So we are being told that the human immune system is inferior to a chemically made medication. And an experimental one at that. One that has not stood the test of time or true trial. The trials are now. Here in 2021. These are the trials.

As far as I can remember from my science classes in school, the human immune system has eradicated diseases long before we had the technology to assist it.

The other issue is, if YOU have the vaccine, aren’t YOU protected? So if I do not have the vaccine, then I will get sick and you will not. Is that not how it works?

When my children were young, they had friends who could not get the full round of proven vaccines that most children got. I was not the least bit worried. You know why? My children had their vaccines against the diseases their friends did not have. Therefore my children could play with those kids very safely.

This push to discriminate. To segregate. To ostracize is absolutely uncalled for and a disgrace.

In a world where “inclusion”, “diversity” and ” acceptance” has been tossed around so much, we are now looking to lock out people for not getting a shot that is not even proven yet. Why?

For a virus that has a 99% survival rate? I had this virus. I was incredibly sick with it. I am lucky I survived. I fought hard to live. I have immunity that I earned through by fighting for my life.

But now, some politicians who are not worrying about your safety, are pushing you to be divided with your neighbors. To hate them. To shun them. They seek to divide us. To protect you? You are protected. You got your shot. No they seek to weaken you, to weaken all of us so that they can keep you scared and alone. They look to deny education. To take away income, thus possibly creating yet more homelessness. Losing your job also means losing medical coverage during a global pandemic. But they do not care. They want full control of you, you body, your health, your information, your children, everything even your good moral judgment.

And you are letting them win.

You want to comply because you think that it will end, but the more you comply, the more it goes on.

My husband and I have had antibodies for over SIXTEEN months. SIXTEEN, A far cry from the 90 days or the 6 months you have been sold by the media and the television doctors. Perhaps try a real doctor, one that is not afraid to be censored and canceled. How long have those vaccine antibodies lasted? I hear there will booster shots soon. Israel already started administering them. Yet MY immunity is inferior.

This is a SARS virus. People that survived the SARS virus from 2003 have their immunity 18 years later. But yet you are believing that these go away. I am telling you that they do not. I am proof and I have met many others who have immunity as long as me or longer. We are being ignored. The real question you need to ask yourself is why? Antibodies do fade if they are not needed to fight another onset of the virus, but memory cells remain behind to spring into action if confronted with SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) again.

Please turn off the mainstream media. Turn off the politicians. Turn off the television doctors who have not treated one single COVID patient. Turn off talk shows that exist only to strengthen political views.

Breathe. Be still. You survived. You got here. Others did not. I survived. Hospitals know more now than in the past as to how to treat this virus. They now know that bringing patients in for treatment before they have trouble breathing is very important. They did not know that, nor did they have the ability to do that in early 2020 in most hospitals.

There will always be variants. Even if every single person is vaccinated, this is the coronavirus family and like influenza, there will always be variants. But they, with any luck will not be as strong as the original. With the number of recovered plus the number of vaccinated, the variants will have fewer hosts and die out quickly.

We spent a year and a half shunning our families and friends. We have forgotten how to be humans.

We have spent a year and a half being puppets for a media and for two different administrations to push around and rule through our fear.

This is wrong. Pushing away people that you were always with because of a shot, of a promise that you do not know will happen from a government that does not care if you live or die.

We bring no disease. We recovered already. You have the shot that you believed in enough to go and get, many of you through two injections and some of you with strong immune responses that made your sick. Why did you get that shot if you were to remain afraid?

Now you will allow, in fact encourage the carrying and the presenting of CARDS so you can live your life. You are ” allowed” to live your life now. Allowed by whom? Last I checked, I only answered to myself and to God.

You made this choice to regain freedoms you already had in the first place. So the least you should do is use them.

And think very hard before you turn away people you love because of something some wealthy strangers who are making billions of dollars on told you.

History does indeed repeat itself. We are on the path to repeating some of the worst events to happen to the human race, committed by the human race. Many have been told it never happened, but it did. They have been told that so that committing it again will be far easier this time.


The Line in the Sand.

I woke up this morning at 3:45 in the morning and proceeded to have an anxiety attack about an impending snow storm. I live in a very hilly neighborhood where traveling in the snow is often very difficult and dangerous at times. I am a teacher, yet my school has refused to allow us to work from home except during a COVID-19 emergency. They claim it is because they support in person learning over remote, but we know that is not the entire story because we have far more students continuing to choose remote rather than come to in person these days. Two out of four of our classrooms continue to offer only remote learning, so this is all a farce. In fact, when they are forced to close, they cancel all classes including the remote, so how are they supporting continuity in educational services? I have spent 32 years as an educator. I just reached the magical age of 55 and I have had enough. I cannot retire, nor do I wish to stop working, but I am done with being micromanaged and having my health and well being in the hands of those who honestly do not care.

A friend recently spoke to me about reaching that line that would separate her from what was wrong and what was right for her life. Reaching the line. For each and every person there is a moment where you do, indeed, reach that feeling of having enough. The realization of having not achieved all that you could be achieving. The end of being treated in a manner less than what you deserve. I have reached that place.

Last February, I was not feeling well, I went to urgent care and received medication for a respiratory infection. I was home resting and my employer was not happy that I was out of work for more than one day. I returned while still under the weather. This resulted in my getting sick again in March. I did not return to work quickly after that. I was sick from March 9 until the end of March. My doctor suggested that my husband and I get tested for COVID-19. At this time, our part of the country had limited tests and only gave the test if a person met a certain criteria. My part of the city only had 2 people who had tested positive. We were afraid, but we headed to the emergency room to be evaluated. We were treated and testing was not deemed necessary at this time. However, we had enough symptoms to quarantine. I proceeded to go home and spend much of the next three weeks in bed, with a fever and many other symptoms, which in March were not considered COVID 19 symptoms. I kept in contact with my doctor because he wanted me to return to the emergency room if I had trouble breathing. During this time, I was the mother and wife my family had never seen before. I really could not get out of bed easily. I was running fevers daily, I was shivering under several blankets, my body was a mass of pain, and inflammation. I have rheumatoid arthritis, therefore the pain in my joints was very intense. I could not eat and what I could eat, I did not keep much of it down. It was too taxing for me to raise my arm to get a bottle of water or Gatorade to drink, but my husband checked on me regularly to force me to drink something. I have a C-PAP machine, so my husband had me sit up, propped on pillows and using the machine all day to help my cough and regulate my breathing. In addition to that, he forced me to get out of bed and walk up and down the hallway and even the staircase, which I cried about because my joints ached so badly. I normally have a terrible time losing weight, but I dropped 15 pounds in two weeks. I was extremely pale, and my cheeks had a sunken look to them. Standing was difficult, I felt like at any time, my legs would just give out. My husband was recovering from illness as well, but he was a week ahead of me and had run a fever for only three days to my total of 17 days of fever before it finally broke. As someone with a 96-97 degree normal body temperature, and had run a fever so rarely that we could count it using two hands, this was a very difficult time for me. On the final day I ran a fever, I awoke at 5:00 in the morning to use the bathroom. I practically crawled to the bathroom because I felt so weak, and I looked at the face in the mirror and almost did not recognize myself. The world around me was cloudy, I could barely see. I dragged myself back to bed, looked at my pillow and somehow I knew that if I laid down, I was going to die. I just felt it. I felt like I was floating over myself, like in a dream. I reached for my C-PAP mask and it was a struggle for my hands to put it on. Somehow I got it on, I sat on the edge of my bed, I kept putting my head between my knees, breathing was difficult. I saw my husband sleeping on his side of the bed, I had no voice to call him, my arms would not work to reach out to him. I started to talk to God in my head. I said ‘God, my father is very sick, he said once that he could not survive losing a child.” His heart was broken for a friend who had lost his daughter and often said he did not know how this friend got through it. I continued to speak to God silently, ” it is your will to do with me what you want, but I know that I am needed here with my family. I know I have more to do in this world. I pray you give me more time.” I sat there for an hour. All of the sudden, I felt like a huge weight was lifted from me, I could move again. My arms worked again. I stood up and my legs did not crumble. I sat back down and woke up my husband. I told him what happened. I took my temperature and I had no fever. After more than two weeks of fever, it was finally gone. Some of my energy returned. I felt awake. I was grateful, I was happy.

That day, I went outside for the first time in weeks. I sat in a chair in my back yard with a mask on. My mother, who lives next door, looked out of her window and gasped. I was very pale and she was not expecting that. I felt better, but weak and beat up. I know that I am a survivor, that I was very close to not making it to the next day.

Two weeks later, my father took a turn for the worst. He suffered another stroke and passed away the next day. It has been a very sobering experience to lose someone during COVID-19. It was April 2020 in New York City. Therefore there was no funeral. A simple graveside service with just my family and my brother’s family, and two of my father’s caretakers. My oldest brother was not allowed to leave his state and come to us. My Aunt was not allowed to travel and say good bye to her brother. None of the members of our large extended family were permitted. The many people whose lives were touched by my father were not able to see us, or to pay tribute to a man who meant a great deal to them. He deserved so much more than a 15 minute speech and prayer at the cemetery. Afterwards, we were not permitted to be together, to eat together at a repast. It was a sad and lonely time. I do not feel recovered from that. It is a very hard way to say goodbye to a loved one.

In May, I took an antibodies test and it confirmed that I had indeed had COVID -19. I truly feel that I barely scraped through that illness.

That is why I now hate to waste time. I want to be happy. I want to do what I am supposed to do, to leave my mark on this world. Life is way too short and we are all here for a specific reason. I do not believe I am here to be sitting at a job where I feel as though every move I make is micromanaged. Every idea I have is shut down by someone who has a great need to be the one who controls all that happens in every aspect. I am too old to be where adults are punished for advocating for their rights and sharing their opinions.

The line has always been there, and the day arrives when you are finally standing with your toes right next to that line. You either cross that line and lose yourself or you walk away and do what makes you happy. We all deserve to be happy. Happiness is not what you have to hold in your hands. It is not expensive cars, clothes, jewelry or accessories. It is getting up each day motivated and energized to do what makes you feel alive. Life is not counting the days on a calendar until you get to the weekend or to a vacation. It is celebrating each moment, it is being so comfortable where you are, that a vacation is simply being happy in new surroundings, rather than an escape from your everyday world. Happiness is who you share your life with. Whether it is your spouse, your friends or your pets, or even if you are comfortable being alone, it is where you should be content, and calm.

One day, we wake up and realize that we do not live forever. That our family and friends will not always be there. At any given time, we can leave this earth. There is simply no time to waste being miserable. I have reached the line and I know that it is time to walk away and do what is best for me. I have worked hard raising my children, doing what is best for others. This is for me.

I have great plans to use the gifts I have been given to make other people’s lives better. What better way is there to live, than to make others happy?

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.