Monday, December 31, 2012

Adios 2012!

The Earth is completing it's 365 day journey around the sun, and another year comes to a close.

I am SO glad this year is over.

Here's to creating something better in 2013!
Continuing on with a tradition I started several years ago (read more about it here) I have dubbed this year the year of pain.  I know that sounds harsh and cold, but it is the truth.  There have been so many painful experiences this year, both physical and mental, I can't even begin to explain it.  2012 was hard and painful and unpleasant in so many ways.  I wouldn't wish the pain I've been through on anyone.

While 2012 was a painfully uncomfortable year, there is one big upside to pain.  It makes you appreciate the good that much more.  Cause while there was a tremendous amount of pain this year, there was also some good.  And maybe it's because of all that pain that the good feels that much more special.

I know that the pain of 2012 won't end at the stroke of midnight, but I am hoping that as we move through 2013, it lessens a little bit every day.  And I'm going to continue trying to take things one day at a time.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

You Can Say That Again

You can say that again.

No, really.  You can.

I don't know about you, but I do NOT want to re-experience what I've already lived through.  Not again.  Once was painful enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 36 - Friday 12/21/12 - I am so thankful that the week is over.  It was one of the longest weeks of my teaching career.  I'm looking forward to a week off, as I'll be refreshed and eager to go back in January!

Day 37 - Saturday 12/22/12 - I am grateful I have a warm home.  It was bitter outside during our dog walks.

Day 38 - Sunday 12/23/12 - I am grateful for the spots of sunshine that filled my house this morning.  Made for a great dog walk, too!

Day 39 - Monday 12/24/12 - Appreciation for my therapist is running at an all time high today.  I am so lucky to have her on my team.

Day 40 - Tuesday 12/25/12 - Today's gratitude goes to my dog.  He's the only one that I can cuddle with without feeling silly!

Day 41 - Wednesday 12/26/12 - Much appreciation to whoever cancelled cause that cancellation meant I got a much needed extra session with my therapist today.

Day 42 - Thursday 12/27/12 - I am thankful that today I was able to enjoy a calm dinner with my parents, aunt, and grandma.  Calm and parents don't usually go in the same sentence!


Ugh.  My therapist said something very similar to me this last week.  She brought up the whole idea of "fake it till ya make it" which is a very popular and much-used slogan in the 12-step world.

And let me tell you it's exhausting.  It takes so much effort for me to "fake it" that by the time I get home, all I want to do is sleep.  It seems like it shouldn't be this much work!  I know, I know, change is NOT easy.

Especially when you despise change the way I seem to.  I do like to hang back and say things like, "I'll try that when I feel better."  Or, "I'm not ready to try that yet."

You know what I'm talking about.  So does my therapist.


If nothing changes, then nothing changes.  
And something's gotta change.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Act 1

The unknown recipient of Act 1.
Today we are in the middle of our first snow storm of the season, and boy, is it yucky out there!  Perfect day to try those new sweet potato curly fries at Burger King.  (Drive through, of course!)  Upon pulling up to the window, I told the cashier that I also wanted to pay for the person's order behind me.  This act is dedicated to Charlotte Bacon, age 6.

Charlotte loved animals and the color pink.  Charlotte was the little girl who begged to wear her new pink dress and boots to school the day of the shooting, which were supposed to be for Christmas.  But her mother relented, and little red-headed, bubbly Charlotte wore them to school that day.

26 Acts

You may have heard of something called "#26Acts" floating around cyberspace the past few weeks.  It's a movement sweeping the country as a way to pay tribute to those lost in the tragedy in Newtown just a few short weeks ago.

Many people, myself included, do random acts of kindness regularly, with no reason needed.  To me, though, this is different.

Ann Curry started it with a tweet:
And it spiraled into a movement that you can read more about here and on their Facebook page here.

You'll notice that the tweet sent 10 days ago (shocking that it's only been 10 days) was for 20 acts.  That was for the children.  It swelled to include the educators, as well.  In a nutshell, people all over the country (and the world, actually) are doing a random act of kindness for each of the victims.  Ironically, today is the 26th of the month.  The perfect day to start my 26 intentional acts in honor of 26 people whose lives were cut short.
I'm in.  

Are you?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blogging for Wellbeing: Advent 2012 Part 2

December 13th - What does Peace mean to you?
Accepting and

December 14th - Winter Warmth
Honestly, the warmth I find in the winter comes as layers of blankets and stretchy, comfy pants.  And any time of year, the place where I feel most safe is in my therapist's office.  There's something warm and safe in the cozy space she's created.  At this moment though?  Contentness, warmth, and all that?  It comes from snuggling with my pup.

December 15th - Do you believe in Miracles?
Wow.  I want to believe in miracles, I really do.  And sometimes, I think I do believe.  Then a huge tragedy comes along and rocks my world, as well as the nations, and I question.  I think that more than miracles, I believe in fate.  I believe in karma.  I believe that sometimes things fall into place and we might never know why.

December 16th - Surviving the Holidays
It's such a chaos filled time of the year, that sometimes it feels even more challenging to navigate than usual.  A tool I may be able to use on any other day is often forgotten amidst the holiday chaos.  One thing that I really try hard to maintain is my quiet evening time.  I need the alone time at the end of the day to unwind and decompress.  If I can give myself that time in the morning to prepare for the day, and to unwind at the end, I'm going to better be able to handle the holiday!

December 17th - You and Santa - Share the memories, good and bad
Me and the big guy don't have much of a history, so I'm taking a pass on this one.

December 18th - The School Christmas Play
Being a product of public schools, we never had a "Christmas" play, instead we had a "Holiday Concert" as it was more politically correct.  To tell you the truth, I was always a little uncomfortable at the concert.  Every grade learned different songs, and the parents all came.... I felt very out of place, as we only sang one Hanukkah song, and the rest of the festivities?  They just didn't fit in the life of a Jewish kid.

December 19th - Self Care during the holiday season
Considering I have a tough time with self-care all year round?  Yeah, this time of year it's that much worse.  I think that the biggest thing I can do to take care of myself, especially this time of year, is to try and be kind to myself.  Which in itself is no easy task.

December 20th - Share the Love!
Sharing the love is something I love to do!  I love seeing people smile, and if I can provide them with a reason to smile, that's the best gift I can give!  Reminds me of that saying, what costs nothing, but means the world to people; what can you give away, and never run out of?  The answer?  Hugs, of course!  To me, nothing says I love you like a warm hug from a good friend.

December 21st - What do your friends mean to you?
My friends... I love them more than they will probably ever know, if only because I do have a hard time expressing myself!  My friends might be few, but they are gifts, each of them.

December 22nd - Where is your inner child?
My inner child is stuck somewhere in the 1980's.... and she's trying to make herself heard these days!  As a kid, I did love playing in the snow, making snow forts and snow angels... I loved the lights of the menorah, and playing the dreidle game.... getting together with cousins and aunts and uncles....

December 23rd - Holiday Traditions...
...don't really exist in my world.  At least not yet.  One day, when I have my own family, we will have our own traditions.

December 24th - On the eve of....
I feel like every night is the eve of the rest of my life.  Every day, I hope that tomorrow will be better.  I hope, that after enough tomorrows, I really will be on the eve of the rest of my life, and it will be a great life....

Monday, December 24, 2012

Week 45: Three Wishes

Hmmm..... Three wishes.

If you were to grant me three wishes as a kid, my first wish would be for unlimited wishes!  Thank you to Aladdin for clarifying the rules!

My wishes are pretty simple, and have been the standard wishes I wish for when I wish upon a star. (Yeah, I still do that.  So what?)

Wish One - I wish for happiness and good health for those that I care about.
Wish Two - I wish that all children receive the love and care they deserve.
Wish Three - I wish to see myself the way others see me.

There you have it...  My three wishes...

(An aside - If Wish Three is granted, then I will also fall under the group of "those that I care about" and will therefore be rewarded with Wish One, as well.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Blogging for Wellbeing: Advent 2012 Part 1

December 1st - Countdown!
For many, December 1st begins the formal countdown to Christmas.  For those that don't celebrate Christmas, it means something different.  To me as an educator, December 1st is definitely a count down.... the count down to our December break!

December 2nd - Holiday Cards
For many years, I had the best of intention to send holiday cards to those I care about.  Every year I bought adorable cards and made my list.  And every year I was met with disappointment, as no amount of intention helped me complete the task.  Now, instead of setting myself up for failure in sending holiday cards, I send notes to friends whenever the moment strikes - whether it's a funny card I see in the store, or I'm just thinking of them.

December 3rd - What does Winter/December mean to you?
To me, December means winter is near.  Winter being near means I have a much more palatable excuse for staying in.  Winter means I'm going to have to fight a lot harder to do the things that generally take little effort, as the darkness is hard for me.  December means we're readying to say farewell to another year.... whatever that means....

December 4th - How do you experience time in this season?
I don't know what it is about time, but when I want it to pass quickly, it drags on for ages, and when I want it to slow down, it flies by.  This season is no different.  Take school break, for example.  The countdown to the break takes for ever!  However, once break arrives?  Yup.  It flies by.

December 5th - The holiday shopping experience...
.... is so not something I enjoy.  There was a time, way back when, that I actually enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the shopping adventure.  Now?  I much prefer two types of shopping.  One, shopping in small, local stores, and two.... shopping in small, local stores, from the comfort of my couch.  As long as I give myself proper time to shop, finding the just right gifts isn't as challenging as it once was.

December 6th - Dear Santa
When I was a kid, my parents always traveled during Christmas.  It wasn't a big deal to me, as we celebrated Chanukah.  I particularly enjoyed their travels when they left us with a babysitter that DID celebrate Christmas.  Cause then, my parents left us little stockings and we had a little extra fun!

December 7th - Wrapping things up!
Oh boy.  This is a loaded one.  I am wrapped up and surrounded by my own inner chaos.  I tend to give away my power rather swiftly, and then get a headache trying to retrieve it.  Giving is great, and I love to do so.  Getting?  Next topic?

December 8th - The miracle of light!
Chanukah oh Chanukah... I love the dance of the lights of the menorah.  The story of Chanukah is one of my favorites, as well.  The festival of lights is a story of hope.  I am so thankful for my team, for they help me stay grounded so I am able to accept the light my students bring to my world.

December 9th - Do you believe?
I *think* so.  I mean, something has to make the seasons change, and the sun rise, something more than scientific descriptions.  Do I believe in my students?  Absolutely.  Each and every one of them has the potential to change the world.  Do I believe in me?  Not exactly.... but I do believe my team, and they believe in me....

December 10th - Family....
Family is what you make it.  My family.... they broke the mold, that's for sure.  I know that people often say that if we were to put all our cards out on the table, and had the chance to choose someone else's cards, we'd still choose our own, because they are what we know.  I'm not sure what I think about that.

December 11th - Finding light through the darkness...
Truthfully, this is a very dark time of year for me.  I rely on the light that comes from my team to lead me through the darkness.  I rely on the light from my students to brighten my world during the dark of winter.  Oh, and I rely on snow days for the unscheduled relief they bring!

December 12th - Looking inward
The light in my heart shines today because there are people in my world that remind me of my purpose.... that remind me that I do matter.... that I do make a difference.... they reflect to me the light that I can not see, similar to the way the moon reflects the light of the sun.  Inside me, they see something that I can't yet see, instead I follow their light, holding on to the hope that one day, I'll find my own.

Two Years Ago Today

Exactly two years ago today, I decided it was time to reclaim my life.

I listened to my much trusted doctor and went back to therapy.  I was losing my ability to think clearly, which was negatively impacting my entire world.  My job, which I cherish and value, had become seemingly impossible to do.  Getting out of bed had become a chore.  I had lost control of my own life, from the inside out.

The past two years have been filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, and more pain than I care to express.  This is not, and will not be an easy journey.  My therapist reminds me that the only way out is through, and that the journey through is not easy.  She says it takes a strong person to go through the therapy process.

I didn't realize how strong I was.  Every week I show up for my appointments whether I want to or not.  Some days are better than others.  Some days are heavy with tears, others sparkle with laughter.  There are moments where I drift away from the room, and am slowly reeled back in. The best are when my therapist helps me laugh through my tears.

Through it all, I'm beginning to realize that while there are moments where I feel like it is pointless to continue.... this hard work WILL pay off.  It feels like we've only peeled back a few layers of the onion thus far, and I know that my therapy journey has a long way to go.  I'm going to keep showing up.

There will be times where I feel like giving up, like disappearing.... all part of the process.  However, exactly two years ago today, I was sitting in my therapist's office terrified of beginning, of trying to reclaim my life, of looking at things inside.... yet, somehow, in that first hour with my therapist?  I began the journey of a lifetime....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Where In The World?

Hey, guess what!

Yes, this one.
You know the really  neat map with all the red dots on it near the bottom right of the blog window?  The one pictured here?

It's called a Clustr Map.  I was excited when I found Clustr Maps because it gives a neat visual of where the people visiting the blog are from, without giving a way too much information on each visitor. (Privacy is important to me!)

Well, guess what? 
(I know, I already said that!)

My Purple Dreams is the Clustr Map featured map of the week!

So to all my new guests popping in via Clustr Maps, thanks for stopping by!  I hope that you enjoy what you read while you're here!  And, if you're so inclined, I'd love it if you want to follow the blog and be our Facebook friend, too.
Oh, and if you have a blog of your own, I highly recommend Clustr Map (no, they are not paying me for this promo) because they are really easy to use, simple to integrate, and a great way to explore map skills if you're a teacher.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Some Friday Fun!

Things have been a little, well, a little blah this week.  I don't want to end the week on a depressing note, so.... here's a little Friday Fun for you!

A little handwriting practice for kids today....
(courtesy of ShirtWoot!)

Laughter compliments of Mental Floss

Hopefully you're now starting your weekend off with a laugh!  
(Or at least a little giggle!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 29 - Friday 12/14/12 -Today I am extremely grateful that I spend my weekdays safe in the bubble of my classroom.  Today's tragedy has rocked me to my core, and I'm so glad I didn't find out about it until after school, otherwise it would have been hard to carry on teaching my little ones....

Day 30 - Saturday 12/15/12 - I am hard-pressed to find gratitude today.  The day after is always harder to swallow.  I guess you could say I'm grateful that it wasn't my school, even though that sounds morbidly selfish.  Like I said, gratitude isn't flowing easily today.

Day 31 - Sunday 12/16/12 - While I might not enjoy food, I do like being healthy, and am grateful that I can afford the food that I need to stay healthy.

Day 32 - Monday 12/17/12 - I am SO grateful that today proceeded like any Monday in the classroom.  Sometimes the monotony of routine is exactly what is needed!

Day 33 - Tuesday 12/18/12 - I am grateful that my team completed everything on our agenda during our meeting this afternoon.  (This usually doesn't happen!)

Day 34 - Wednesday 12/19/12 - Today I am very much appreciating the fact that there are two days left of school until a much needed break!

Day 35 - Thursday 12/20/12 - I am grateful for snowflakes.  My students made dozens of them and they are hanging all over the classroom, which, with this rainy weather, might be all the snow we see.

Not gonna lie.  This was a pretty rough week and I had to stretch pretty far to find something to be thankful for a few days.  Glad we get to start over each and every morning!  (and sometimes, we start fresh every few minutes!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Looking Back....

I don't know if it's the season, or what, but today I journeyed back in time.... I found myself visiting blog posts from a year ago, and I think I'm pleased by what I've found?  Maybe?  Sorta?

A year ago today, I posted "Got Feelings?" on the blog.  The post was mostly about the fact that at that time, I was constantly fighting tears, and getting kind of sick of them!  The quote "I hate the moment when suddenly my anger turns into tears." was incredibly fitting at the time, because a year ago, I was still refusing to feel any anger.  I just couldn't let myself feel that emotion.  I thought I'd burst and be overwhelmed if I let myself feel anger.

Fast forward to the present moment.... yeah, I'm still battling tears, and I'm still pretty depressed.... BUT.... I have begun the process of learning to FEEL my FEELINGS.  All of them.  Yep.... even anger.  I still am working to identify some of these feelings, and the things that trigger them, but the good news is that I am actually able to feel them without exploding!  I think that's a pretty good accomplishment!

Still working on a lot, still dealing with a lot of the same crud, but at a different layer.  It's kinda like I'm reading and writing the next chapter all at the same time.  I'm rather glad that I chose to do a look back today, because I tend to focus on how much more work I have ahead of me instead of pausing and realizing that I really have come a long way!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Day of Silence

Always remember.... 

"I wanted to do SOMETHING for the families and I didn't know what else to do. Ed Sheeran's guitar played at the exact moment I heard about the tragedy. The song came out of me faster than any before. It felt wrong not to share it. I hope this finds its way to the proper ears at the proper time. God Bless you. I'm so grateful to be alive. Maybe this terrible day will make sense in Heaven." --Mike Posner

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In Memorium....

Though Sunday is drawing to a close, nothing that I have read or heard has lessened the shock of Friday's tragic news.  I don't know a single parent, teacher, or anyone who works with children that has fully digested the magnitude of the event.  I've spent my weekend torn between thinking of my students, thinking of ways to make my classroom safer, cabinets I could clean out to hide students in any potential situation.... There has been a lot about the Sandy Hook tragedy floating around Facebook, more than I could handle.  Among them, one stood out to me so I'm reposting it here.

Additionally, my friend Tamara posted a beautiful tribute to those lost in the tragic event.  I, like her, am one who lives in a somewhat protective bubble.  Being at school all day Friday prevented me from learning of the news until dinner time.  And that message was delivered via Facebook, as I don't watch the news, and no longer read the newspaper- print or electronic.  I just can't stomach all the horrible things that the news seems to pick up on and sensationalize.  Why can't we spend as much time and energy on sharing good news as we do on bad?

Anyway, I am jumping on board the train that is praying for the victim's and their families.  I hope you will at least say a prayer for those whose life was cut short on Friday morning, teachers and children alike.

Charlotte Bacon, age 6               Daniel Barden, age 7
Olivia Engel, age 6                     Josephine Gay, age 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, age 6              Dylan Hockley, age 6
Madeline Hsu, age 6                Catherine Hubbard, age 6
Chase Kowalski, age 7               Jesse Lewis, age 6
James Mattiolo, age 6                Grace McDonnell, age 7
Emilie Parker, age 6                   Jack Pinto, age 6
Noah Pozner, age 6                    Caroline Previdi, age 6
Jessica Rekos, age 6                   Avielle Richman, age 6
Benjamin Wheeler, age 6           Allison Wyatt, age 6
Rachel Davino, age 29               Dawn Hochsprung, age 47
Lauren Russeau, age 29            Anne Marie Murphy, age 52
Mary Sherlach, age 56               Victoria Soto, age 27*

*She hid students in cabinets and closets, telling the gunman they were in the gym.  While her life was not spared, all of her student's lives were.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Smiles: Chanukah Style

May this last night of Chanukah be made all the more
sweeter by spending it with family.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Shocking Tragedy

Photo Credit: Enchanted Photography

I have no words.  Only shock.  Only grief.  They were just babies.  It could have happened anywhere.  Any school.  Any teacher.  Any child.  I am numb with shock.  

May the violence end here, and peace forever reign.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

Day 22 - Friday 12/7 - Today I am grateful that it is Friday.  That means two whole days of not having to set an alarm!

Day 23 - Saturday 12/8 - I am so thankful I have the ability to learn!  I love that I learned something new today!

Day 24 - Sunday 12/9 - I am grateful for lazy Sunday mornings, sleeping in and snuggling under the covers as long as I want.

Day 25 - Monday 12/10 - I am grateful that today I was not alone in my challenges.  I know firsthand that several of my colleagues faced similar situations in their classrooms today as well - it might not be a full moon, but boy are these kids exhibiting some full moon behavior!

Day 26 - Tuesday 12/11 - I had a meeting today about a hearing-impaired student.  Listening to all this child goes through makes me very grateful my five senses are working.

Day 27 - Wednesday 12/12 - Today I am thankful for my dietitian's expertise.  She knows just how to make food a little less frustrating for me.

Day 28 - Thursday 12/13 - I am very thankful for patience.  It came in really handy today.

Week 44: Holiday Smiles

During the holiday season, what makes me smile the most is watching the Random Acts Of Kindness that seem to be more plentiful during this time of year.  It is so wonderful to see so much giving!  Whether someone has adopted a family, or donated to a food pantry, or volunteered at a soup kitchen.... giving is giving, no matter how you look at it.

My favorite part of the season would be the giving.  While I'm not a fan of receiving gifts (the same reaction I have to compliments) I do love giving them.  I enjoy shopping to special tokens of appreciation for those that I work with, and care about.  Though money isn't plentiful, there is always room to give.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve. Twelve. Twelve.

If you know me, you know I love numbers!  So of course, I'd not pass up the chance to for another numerical celebration!

Today is actually the last "triple" date of my lifetime, heck, of the next century!

Twelfth month.
Twelfth day.
Twelfth year.

We recently had ten. eleven. twelve.
And before that we had eleven. eleven. eleven.

Funny enough, a few of the students that I had last year asked if I would be doing another writing celebration for today's date.  Honestly, I'd like to, but we'll see if I can pull something together before days end that we can actually do!  I'll keep you posted.

For now, enjoy twelve. twelve. twelve!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let Me Sleep!

Right now, there just isn't enough hours in the day to get the sleep that my body, and brain, seem to be crying out for.  I am in a perpetual state of exhaustion, and let me tell you, it's getting a little tired!  It's as if there is a part of my brain that holds the amount of sleep I need to function.  Only that part of my brain seems to be leaking, since no amount of sleep seems to be enough these days!  Yes, I am in the middle of a medication adjustment.  Yes, my depression is pretty major at the moment.  Yes, we're heading into the darkest season of winter.  So in other words, I've hit the trifecta of sleep-deprivation.  How'd I get to be so lucky?!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Week 43: Advice for the Season

Well, this topic is a tough one for me, because I am one who avoids the holiday chaos as much as possible.  I'm not one for social gatherings, especially when the attendance is more than 8.  The topic is recovery advice or encouragement that is helpful during the holiday season.

The timing was quite perfect, as my friend Tamara over at Faith and Substance reminded me of a little saying that I've heard for years, but had forgotten about until she reminded me:

I think this is a great reminder for all of us this holiday season - from those of us who celebrate nearly every weekend till the new year, to those of us who celebrate solo.  For me, it's a reminder to stop and remember the little things that I have.  Some people wish they had a steady job, a warm bed, and food to eat.  I've got all of that, and more.  So when the depression of winter sets in, and the stress over the holidays knocks me out, I am going to work to remember that in the grand scheme of things, I really am too blessed to be stressed!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

Week three of Thankful Thursdays.... got a bit tougher this week, but made it!

Day 15 - Friday 11/30 - Today I am thankful for the new friends I met through November's NaBloPoMo.  It's nice to become a part of a community, even a web-based one!

Day 16 - Saturday 12/1 - I am grateful for the leftover food from last night's dinner, the only leftovers I actually like were a perfect end to my day.

Day 17 - Sunday 12/2 - I'm grateful for one of my BFFs, who dragged me out of the house and fed me a delicious home made dinner.

Day 18 - Monday 12/3 - I'm grateful that I have a job.

Day 19 - Tuesday 12/4 - I am thankful that I can be the bigger person in a work relationship that is charged with a lot of pettiness.

Day 20 - Wednesday 12/5 - I am grateful for email, as it was very helpful today when I was running late.

Day 21 - Thursday 12/6 - I am thankful I have rescued my  new best friend.  It's  wonderful to come home to a dog who is always glad to see me, no matter how long I was gone.


Right now, I'm working my @$$ off to protect myself from sinking deeper into the sadness that has been my world lately.  Everything feels like another reason to be depressed, sad, frustrated....

I didn't think about the fact that when I protect, or shield myself from sadness, I'm also shielding myself from the rest of the feelings out there, including happiness.  Happiness.... Reminds me of another quote, the one that says that happiness is not a destination, it's a way of life.

My way of living life has been in the depressive fog of my situation.  I'd like to change that...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Fine.

I read an article yesterday by one of my favorite bloggers, Natasha Tracy.  The title of the post is What does "I'm Fine" Mean if you're Depressed? (You can read the whole article here.)

She so eloquently articulated what "fine" can mean for one who suffers from depression.  For the first time, I actually found an explanation that makes sense to me.  We live in a world where people ask "how are you?" and walk away before you can answer.  Do those people really want to know how you are doing?  Nope.  They expect the standard "fine, and you?" response, or something similar.

Well my friends, depression is different.  There is rarely a "fine" time for me.  It doesn't matter if I've been given good news, a compliment (which we know how well I take!) or a little gift.  I'll always be able to fake it and look/act "fine" but inside?  I'm anything but.

It's rather frustrating trying to explain what depression feels like to those who don't suffer from this maddening issue. The way Ms. Tracy explains it, she had to redefine what "fine" actually meant to her, in order to be able to use it appropriately.  For me, I rely on a great little acronym.... When I say I'm fine, this is what runs through my head ----->

Yeah.  I know.  It's pretty defeating, demeaning, and downright sad.  But at least I can answer honestly when someone asks how I'm doing....

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I loved the TV show The Wonder Years.  I loved following Kevin Arnold as he meandered his way through adolescence and puberty.  His family was very down to Earth, and reminded me much of my own - three children, always enough money, but never an abundance.  I kind of wished that I could have been in their family, because at least in the 30 minute episode, the ending always came to some complete conclusion, wrapping things up in a way that didn't always make a happy ending, but sure made things simpler.

Anyway, this quote stands out to me, especially right now, because I'm both fighting the new changes that are necessary at this point in my life, and also fighting the old ways that needed to be changed anyway.  Change is for sure never easy.

I know that while the recent changes in my life have left me reeling, and sometimes hanging by a very fine thread, yet they've also been very necessary as a part of my growth in recovery and overall.  It's as if I'm fighting to start fresh, yet fighting to stay the same all at the same time.  Almost frustrating, actually.  Or, if I'm being honest, it's really frustrating.  Being in that space where you know what you're doing is necessary, but you hate it at the same time?  Yep.  I'm there.  And while I know in the grand scheme of things, this will be a good growth period, right now it just sucks.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Another month says farewell

Well folks, November is coming to an end for 2012. 
Though it's a 30 day month, I swear, it has felt twice as long to me.

                                                         Highlights of the month:
  • NaBloPoMo!  I loved meeting so many bloggers and their blogs - many were added to my blog list, and I'm excited to keep in touch with my new friends!
  • Meeting my new best friend!  This pup has been such a joy to have.  While he hasn't fixed all my problems or lifted my depression, he sure has brought more comfort into my world.
  • Making the best pie I've ever made for Thanksgiving dessert.
Lowlights of the month:
  • Stupid depression.... plummeted over the last few weeks.... 
  • I'm in the process of a med adjustment, which is never fun.
Finally, a brief response to NaBloPoMo's prompt for today:
Through this month's NaBloPoMo challenge, I learned that being real on my blog is actually helpful and inspiring to others.  I've been hesitant, at times, in posting how I'm *really* doing, for fear of turning away my readers.  I now see how sharing my reality, which has always been therapeutic for me, has actually connected me with complete strangers, and made me feel a lot less alone!

And that, my friends, is the end of NaBloPoMo!  
Or as Porky Pig likes to say, "That's all folks!"

Thursday, November 29, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

Week 2 of Thankful Thursdays.... I'll admit that some days were easier than others.  This has presented my depressed brain with a much needed challenge!

Day 8 - Friday 11/23 - I am grateful that I got to stay cozy at home, spending the day with my little guy snuggled up on the couch.

Day 9 - Saturday 11/24 - I am grateful for an awesome sister-in-law, who I enjoy spending time with!

Day 10 - Sunday 11/25 - I am so thankful that I was able to open my house to a dog in need of a new home.  I might not be able to afford lots of luxuries, but I can afford to give a dog a much needed home.

Day 11 - Monday 11/26 - Every day I appreciate the roof over my head and the fact that I'm not living paycheck to paycheck, but today, I'm exceptionally grateful for both.

Day 12 - Tuesday 11/27 - I am so thankful that my dog is off antibiotics and is feeling better.  He's finally learning how to play!

Day 13 - Wednesday 11/28 - I am thankful for my dietitian and her ability to understand me at a level very few outside my treatment team can.

Day 14 - Thursday 11/29 - I am very grateful for one of my peers, who has been a huge help with my students on Thursday afternoons.


Shirt Woot - My favorite place for irony!
This is exactly what I feel like right now.  I feel like I am stuck in a tangled mess of a web searching for the elusive light at the end of the tunnel, the place where happiness resides.

I know, I know, happiness is a feeling, not a destination.  No one can be happy all the time.  At this point, I'll take inner peace, calmness, silence, anything at all to turn of the nasty DJ that lives in my brain.

It sucks.  Like really, really sucks.  And I'd pay just about anything to break the radio, fire the DJ, and play only peaceful, positive, growth-minded tracks.  Believe me, I get that happiness is not something that people are 100% of the time.  I'd settle for 10% of my day spent listening to the happiness station, heck, at this point I'd take 5% of the day.  I just can't live under the constant strain of this DJ.  The longer I listen to these stations, the more hopeless I feel.  Hopeless is not a feeling I enjoy.  Hopeless is not something I want others to feel, either.

Hopeless is when your favorite team is down by 8 runs in the bottom of the 9th, has no men on, and two outs.  That's hopeless.  Hopeless is not a way of life.  Obviously my inner DJ didn't get that memo.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pick a topic, any topic

For NaBloPoMo, there have been daily topics posted to help people blog along the way, reaching for that 30 in 30 goal.  While thus far I've been able to meet the goal, I'm starting to fall into the negativity rut.  Because of that, I decided to give one of the daily topics a try.  I chose the prompt from Tuesday, November 13th.

What is the bravest thing you've ever done?

I didn't go away to university.  I stayed living at my parents house and commuted for classes.  I actually lived at my parents until I finally moved out in my mid-twenties.  This meant I never shared a room with anyone, never lived in a dorm, never had to share a bathroom, never had to eat cafeteria food......

An opportunity presented itself for me to go spend a week in the beautiful Catskills for a training.  It sounded on paper like an amazing experience.  It looked in pictures like peace on earth.  Except.... I'd have to fly there alone (never traveled alone before, either.)  I would be off to a place where I knew no one.  I would be living in a dorm room, and would be rooming with a complete stranger.  I would be using a common bathroom.  Eating in a cafeteria.  Spending several hours a day in a workshop with people I didn't know.  Socializing with these people during meals and evenings.  And doing all of this for a full week.

Hello?!  This was so not me.  So not something I'd do.  I was so not brave enough!

Yet.... I made it.  And it was an AMAZING week.  I grew so much in those seven days, I can not even begin to tell you.  And that week long experience, the first solo traveling I'd ever done (mind you, I was in my late 20's at that point) led to some wonderful experiences traveling to visit new friends (made during that week!) in states I'd never been to before.

That trip was me taking a chance, a big one, and hoping that my fear wouldn't outweigh the opportunity and ruin things.  It didn't.  It broadened my horizons in ways that I can't even begin to explain......  No, I still don't like traveling alone.  Yes, I still have major social anxiety.  But I also seem to have a reserve of bravery that stays buried until it is absolutely needed.  And I can live with that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 42: Overcoming Stressful Times

Stress?  I have NO idea what you're talking about.  My life is stress free, and any stress that does exist is chocolate covered, making it easily digestible.  I have the patience of a rock, the grace of a swan, and flow like the waves in the ocean, quietly kissing the shore and retreating seamlessly.

Whatever.  (I can dream, right?)

Stress? My world is covered in stress, where as I'd much prefer a chocolate covered world.  This topic is actually rather timely for me, as this time of year is pretty stressful and frustrating for me.  It's also an opportunity for me to remind myself what tools I do have to get me through stressfully frustrating times like these.

One tool that helps is to focus on my breathing.  Usually that involves remembering to breathe!  I try to count my inhales and exhales and use my breath to distract myself from the situation that is setting off the alarms in my head.  From the breathing I try to move into my phone list - I have a few friends that I know are exceptionally good at getting me out of tough spots in a short conversation.  If my phone list isn't available, then I'll pull out my distraction box.  This box is literally a toolbox of distractions that are neatly packaged and always stored in the same place so I can grab it at my lowest level of functioning.

An overarching tool that I try to constantly remember is the slogan "this too shall pass" as an effort to remind me that the situation may feel stressful at the moment, or I may be frustrated at the moment, but for the moment, I can handle it.  The feeling will pass, the situation will end, and all will be restored to it's typical level of sanity.

And when all else fails I reach for a Xanax.  In keeping with the goal of complete honesty, sometimes I go for the Xanax first.  Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Challenge 18: Lauren Lemon

This is the last image challenge of the year in the Blogging for Wellbeing project, and it ends with another fab photographer!

Image by Lauren Lemon
Lauren Lemon's photos capture moments, snapshots of moments, peeks into moments.... I wouldn't say the are mundane, cause her photos are anything but, yet..... at the same time they're not out-of-the-ordinary either.  Her unique eye is thought provoking yet grounded, whimsical yet simple.

There were a few that I liked, but this image, loosely titled Meanwhile in California, reminds me exactly that, of my days in California.  I have a great friend who lives there, and I love any chance I get to head to the coast.  Lounging on the beach or by the pool, soaking up the salt filled air and burning the image of a California sunset into my brain....  It's one of the most relaxing places I know to visit!

As I'm typing this post, I'm sitting in the exact position as in the image.  Except I'm on my couch.  And there isn't a beautiful sunset on the beach in front of me.  And I'm not filled with sunny feelings that the beach usually brings.  But I can dream....

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Little Guy, Big Hopes

I recently adopted a little dog, whom I absolutely adore. His history is unknown, all that is known is he's a lap dog that loves to lick noses and faces and fingers. He's adapted quickly into the household, and found his favorite spot to sleep (my pillow) and favorite spot to nap (the couch.)  In case I didn't mention it before, I'm completely smitten by his adorable eyes. I hate leaving him as he still barks when I leave, but I do love his wiggly, kiss-filled return!

Confession: I had really hoped that getting a pet, more specifically a dog, would fix a lot of my issues. I'd have someone else to take care of every day. I'd have an excuse to go out and walk at least three times a day (short as they may be!) I'd have someone to come home to who will love me unconditionally. I hoped that once I found the right pet (which I have,) things would get better.

Maybe my thinking was naive. This little guy had a lot of hopes riding on his tiny shoulders that he can't carry.  No one can.  Getting a dog may have been a great thing for me, but it sure hasn't fixed things.  Yes, I'm getting fresh air daily. I'm not spending every non-work moment in bed.  I'm working on a home routine, even if it is for this four legged little guy (who, by the way, is a sleepy-head like me!)

But I had hoped for more.... I had hoped that having a dog would magically lift the depression fog that follows me around. I hoped that my anxiety would lessen... that I'd be more hopeful about life in general.... instead, I'm feeling hopelessly in love with a little dog who can't fix me. He can't make things better. He can't make me feel less depressed or less anxious or less hopeless. He can't make my world feel any less heavy, despite his lightness.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Glee: Gone Too Far?

About six weeks ago, I finally sat down and caught up on this season's episodes of Glee.  I really liked the show the first few seasons, and was looking forward to this season.

Tonight, I caught up on a few more episodes.... and I am not impressed, nor am I pleased with one particular story line.  Unfortunately for me, that story line is overshadowing all the great music and great lessons on standing up for yourself and anti-bullying and all that good stuff.

Because Glee has decided to tackle Eating Disorders, and they're doing it in a way that is incredibly disturbing to me.  No one, under any circumstance, should ever encourage someone to engage in eating disordered behaviors.  The joke about binging and purging was not only not funny, it was also dangerous.  No one in their right mind chooses to have an eating disorder, be it bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, or EDNOS, they are nothing to sing about.

Millions of people world wide suffer from life threatening eating disorders, many which go untreated.  As someone recovering from one, I can promise you, eating disorders are nothing to joke about.  Glee, as a show that draws fans from all age groups, made in my mind, a very poor choice.  This is one fan who just crossed over, because Glee, you finally crossed the line.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Week 41: Dream Job

That's an easy one!

If I could do any job, I'd be a technology teacher in an elementary school.  Let me be more specific- I would be a technology teacher in an elementary school that has up-to-date and fully functioning technology!

I've thought about a variety of different educational endeavors that I could tackle over the years, but all of them take me out of the classroom, which is my favorite part of teaching.  For the last few years I've become the go-to person for tech trouble in my building.  I'm also a creative brainstormer when it comes to ways to integrate technology into projects and learning instead of making it an add on.

I don't know...... there's something pretty spectacular about putting a digital native (read: child of today) in front of a computer and supporting them along the creative and innovative learning experience of today....

So there you have it, my dream job.  If anyone happens to have an extra salary laying around, and would be willing to donate it to my school, I'd happily accept it, cause right now, a tech teacher is not in the budget!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

365 Days of Giving Thanks

All month long people have been posting things they are thankful for as their Facebook status.  I really like that idea.... but why does it need to be reserved for just the month of November?  Shouldn't we be practicing gratitude all year long?

That is what I am going to try and do, and by posting it here on the blog (instead of just in my journal) I'm hopeful that it will better help me be held accountable.  My intention is to join in on what many bloggers call "Thankful Thursdays" and each Thursday post one thing that I am thankful for from each day of the week.

Considering this is the most Thankful Thursday of the year (at least in the United States) I figured it would be a great day to start!
Google's 2009 Thanksgiving Day Doodle
Day 1 - Friday 11/16 - I am thankful that my students were wonderful during the assembly today!

Day 2 - Saturday 11/17 - I am thankful for my dietitian's patience, she was the "bad guy" today and came down hard on me, but it was done with love and my best interest at heart.

Day 3 - Sunday 11/18 - I am thankful that for my sister-in-law and her knowledge of dogs as I enter the world of canine ownership.

Day 4 - Monday 11/19 - I am thankful for my friend E, who came to let the little guy out while I was at work.

Day 5 - Tuesday 11/20 - I am thankful that conferences are finally over!

Day 6 - Wednesday 11/21 - I am thankful for my amazing physician who, during a five minute conversation before my physical began, calmed my nerves about the dietary changes, finally helping me make sense of things.

Day 7 - Thursday 11/22 - I am thankful for so much this Thanksgiving day - for having a place to celebrate the holiday, for my sister's safety, for my special friends, for my team... and for a pup who likes to sleep in!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Awe and Appreciation

It's no secret that I'm in the midst of some yucky changes that I would prefer to avoid.  I really do work hard to keep this blog somewhat motivating and positive, but sometimes life happens and that is reflected here.  Gotta keep things honest and real, at least that's my goal.

Despite the changes and challenges, or maybe because of them, today I was once again reminded of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful team.  Really truly beyond what I could have dreamed up..... they are amazing.

Today was my annual physical, which I'll admit is not my favorite thing.  But I know that it's necessary if I want to take the best care of myself that I can.  I've been seeing my physician for upwards of 13 years now, and I have nothing but admiration and appreciation for her.  She cares, above and beyond, she cares.

Truth be told, my doctor is the reason I'm still around today.  She sent me to my therapist, who sent me to my dietitian.  Between the three of them...... I don't know that I'll ever be able to find the words to express my gratitude.  They've pushed me, frustrated me, scared me, annoyed me, and most of all, they've cared about me.... all for my own good.  Because of my team, not only am I here today, but I am able to survive challenging changes (albeit kicking and screaming sometimes!)  The mix of love, admiration, appreciation, and gratitude that I have for them.... I don't know where I'd be without them.

The confidence they have in me is actually somewhat frightening, as I'm not really sure where they find it.  But my trust in them?  I'd travel to Mars and back if they told me to.  And it is nice to have that trust in them.... maybe one day I'll find that confidence they seem to have, too.