Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Challenge 4, Part 3: Self Confidence

Can you tell this week's topics have been a bit of a struggle for me?  I guess though, that thing Arielle has said, about struggle being a good thing?  That would make this one good week for me!

Self confidence... I really don't know what to say.  I could pretty much duplicate the post on self-esteem, cause it all applies here, too.  What can I say, I had a pretty interesting childhood, ok?  My past shaped the person I am today.  Which, now that I think about it, is a person with some self confidence in one area: teaching.

Put me in front of a room full of children and I am in my element.  Even better, put me in a room full of children with technology (that is reliable and functional!) and I'll be able to make some magic happen.  Or, more likely, those kids will be making magic happen by the time they leave.  My secret?  Treat the kids like they are valuable.  Like they matter.  Like their ideas and questions are worth listening to.  In other words, I treat my students the way I wish I was treated.

Then things come to a screeching halt, cause for some reason, when it comes to doing exactly that, treating myself the way I treat my students?  I lose all confidence and it becomes impossible to do.  Can you hear the irony knocking?

I've been told this recovery process can make miracles happen.  Hopefully one of those miracles will find me receiving the gift of self confidence.  Problem is, I know the gift giver.  And she's not very fond of me.  Hopefully that changes, too.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Challenge 4, Part 2: Self Worth

Ok.  I looked up the definition of self worth, figuring that this would be a fun way to start each topic for the week.  But guess what?  It's practically the same definition as self esteem.

Not funny.

So instead of continuing on my negative rant about my lack of self, I want to share some information I found on the world-wide-web about building self worth and self esteem in children.  I know I learned something from these articles, so maybe someone else will, too, and one less child will grow up feeling like damaged goods.

"Self-esteem also can be defined as feeling capable while also feeling loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also develop low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when a good balance is maintained." -- Kids Health dot org
I LOVE the definition that is underlined above.  Interesting, isn't it, that as in many areas, if not all areas of life, self esteem is also a balance?

"Once people reach adulthood, it's harder to make changes to how they see and define themselves.  So, it's wise to think about developing and promoting self-esteem during childhood. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities..." -- Kids Health dot org
Again, such truth here.  Part of what I love doing as a teacher is being encouraging.  In my classroom we don't say something is "too hard" instead we refer to it as "a challenge."  Failure is part of our day, every single day, but because I've worked hard to develop a nurturing classroom environment, we keep at it, and in the end, a sense of accomplishment along with a hug, well, it goes a long way for these little ones!

"Kids with low self-esteem see temporary setbacks as permanent, intolerable conditions, and a sense of pessimism prevails.  Kids with healthy self-esteem know their strengths and weaknesses, and accept them. A sense of optimism prevails." -- Kids Health dot org
No explanation needed. 

"It is important to remember that all children go through stages of high and low self-esteem as they grow and face difficult challenges." -- Parenting dot org
This short little article came with some observable characteristics of positive self worth and poor self worth in children.

To be honest, I have no idea how many people reading this blog even have kids.  What I found helpful in reading about how to build self worth in kids is knowing that there are things that can be done to improve my sense of self worth right now, as an adult.  And that it isn't too late to do so, it just makes the job a little tougher to do as an adult then it would be as a child. 

Challenge 4, Part 1: Self Esteem

self-es teem [self-i-steem, self-] noun
a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.

Self Esteem is a very tricky little bugger.  Self esteem is how you hold yourself.  It has little to do with others, it is your perception of your self.

And I have none.

I fake it pretty well, though, as unless you spend a lot of time with me, you likely couldn't tell.  Or at least that's what I've been told.  Sure doesn't feel like I can fake it that well though.  In my eyes, I reek of insecurity and self-loathing.  I feel somewhat like a fraud, as others are always shocked to find out the truth.  The very few that I have let in, that is.


It's almost as if it's an effect of recovery.  To overcome this, it's as if gaining some self esteem is a side-effect.  And that is really good news for someone like me.  It means I have a chance to take a new perspective.  I have a chance to see myself through new eyes.  I have a chance to see in me what others seem to see, which is a pretty cool person (it makes me ill to write that) that has a lot to offer the world.

I can say that without self esteem, life is not terribly happy.  It doesn't take much to rob someone of self esteem, and it's worth the effort it takes to build it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Comfort Zone

I am a person who loves routine and stability.  Which is why when I was asked to step out of my comfort zone, and do something that I'd rather not do, I panicked.

A few weeks ago I, was encouraged to start volunteering.  I mean, why not?  Anne Frank said "no one ever became poor by giving."  She may have meant that in financial terms, but I think it also applies to time.  I do have time to give, so why not give some?

Because I am afraid.  That's why.  Because I am afraid to commit doing something that I might not be able to handle.  How do I know I won't be able to handle it?  I don't.  And I won't, unless I try.  No matter how scared I am, I have to try.

So this afternoon I finally took a chance and emailed an organization I am interested in volunteering for.  According to their website, they require a minimum commitment of one hour a week.  I think I can handle that.  At least, I hope I can.  Volunteering is something that would help me in so many ways, especially volunteering for an organization like the one I chose to contact. Now that the ball is in motion, I'm in that information gathering stage, where I need to know as much as possible, so I can find a bit of a life preserver as I head out of my comfort zone and into the zone where the magic happens.

Here's hoping for some magic.....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Challenge 3, Part 2: Becoming Self Empowered

Becoming self empowered is not easy, or at least it has not been an easy journey for me. I still fear the path one must walk to become self empowered, especially as I head toward learning to speak up for myself, learning to ask for what I need, and actually giving myself what I need. Funny how that works, what we most need for ourselves, the ability to meet our own needs, something we should be empowered to do at least once we reach adulthood, is often a very hard task to accomplish!

Think about it.  Once you reach a certain age, you learn to feed yourself. Yes, the food you are given may not be a choice, but you get to feed it to yourself. I mean, how many people fawn over baby as he grasps that first fistful of Cheerios and shoves them adorably in his mouth? Same with potty training- to be free of that diaper means "I'm a big kid now."  Riding a two-wheeler. Learning to tie your shoes. Being home alone for the first time. All empowering milestones that we pass through as we grow.

For some, those milestones are celebrated and begin to instill that sense of accomplishment and pride in oneself. This can pave the way to a life where the feeling of accomplishment, of pride, comes from within. Self empowerment to the maximum level- believing in yourself, not needing external praise to know you've done well. This boost gives one the power to try new things without worry of failure.  All those little milestones along the way were sprinkled with failures, but because the successes were celebrated, the failures just became a part of the process, and not the end all self belief.

For others, that is not how their journey went. Successes weren't as frequently celebrated and failures filled the gaps between. Becoming empowered was feared, and developing a reliance on those around you (your family) was the expectation. Sure, some milestones were celebrated and many skills were learned. There was even a bit of fun sprinkled along the path. But that self confidence that grows as a result of positive experiences that are praised, and failures that are encouraged to be challenged into successes, well, that is often missing. Instead of looking at a failure and saying to yourself, as was modeled to you by your parents, "I can do it, let me try again, I know I can do it," a failure means the end. A failure means you need someone else to help, and you always will.

Which, in reality, is not true.

Because EVERYONE can become self empowered. Everyone. Doesn't matter how old you are or how lousy your life was growing up or how little you were celebrated. It IS possible to learn to lean on, to empower yourself to reach for those experiences, to learn to nourish your body, feed your soul, and love yourself. No, you might not be able to do it alone, at least not at first. Yes, it may take a long time, and you will need to have people that are walking along the path with you. And yes, at first you will need them to feed you the praise and encouragement you missed as you grew. But eventually, at least I'm told, you will no longer need the encouragement to come from those walking with you. Eventually you will be able to internalize their positive words, replace the negative tracks with positive messages, and empower yourself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Challenge 3, Part 1: What is Self Empowerment?

Self Empowerment makes me think of that good old slogan "girl power!" that I grew up hearing over and over again.  Yes, I am a child of the 80's... and somewhat the 90's... and we always used to respond to "turtle power!" with "girl power!" as kids.  Empowerment is a good thing in my mind, it means that you are doing something (generally) positive for yourself because it's good to do, or you want to do it.  I remember the first time I took an English style riding lesson (I had been riding Western for a while) and how empowering it felt to be in the smaller saddle, and how strong I felt being able to quickly pick up the English style, quick enough to compete in an English style walk-trot class just three days after my first lesson!  I felt so strong and powerful on that pony's back, and I was so proud of myself for trying something new, competing so quickly, and I even won a fourth place ribbon!  (Yes, there were more than four riders in the class!)

I was reading a bit about equine therapy recently, and how many of the riders feel strong and powerful when they are astride the wonderfully patient horse... how for many riders, it's the only time they've ever experienced legs strong enough to carry them around, to feel what it's like to move on your own accord, instead of with a walker or wheelchair.  Talk about empowering!  Watching kids climb aboard for the first time?  Their grin?  Their happiness?  Empowering.  Equines really do empower, in so many ways.

Looking back, I felt most empowered during my equestrian days.  I loved the freedom being on horseback gave me, I loved the thrill of trying something new, because I felt secure on back of my horse or pony.  I had confidence in my ability as a rider, not because my coach told me I was good enough, but because I just knew in my heart, that on my horse, I could do anything.  I was involved with horses for almost 15 years, from the ground up, as the stable grunt and the show star.  Learning how to ride, how to do everything involved in taking care of a horse, I felt so good!  I didn't even mind mucking stalls, because I knew how important it was to my horse.  Things were just different around horses.  On the back of my trusted horse(s), I felt alive.  I felt empowered.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Challenge 2, Part 3: Creativity

How can one be self-nurturing?

    Drawing with fresh new crayons and crisp white paper
    Sipping warm glass of hot cocoa
    Soaking in a bubble bath
    Taking time for yourself
    Strolling leisurely in the sunshine
    Reading a favorite book
    Snuggling with something really soft
    Letting the tears flow
    Asking for help when you need it
    Indulging in your favorite activity
    Treating yourself with patience

That is how one can self-nurture.

© MGD July 2012   
Want more?  How about.....

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 30: Three Words

Three words.  That's it.  Just three words.
Which three words best describe me?  Argh!
More decisions to make!  Too many choices!

(Temper tantrum over, sorry you had to witness that!)

OK.  So Three words.  Hmmm..... This is for sure a challenge!  BUT, at this moment, I will say that the following three words best describe me:

emotional               thinker              sensitive

I am a very emotional person.  For years and years I kept my emotions inside, locked up, and only released them when there was no more room in my body to hold them.  That, or sometimes they snuck out, late at night, alone, as tears in my pillow.  I get very emotionally invested in things - work, students, projects, and so on.  That can be a good thing, but sometimes it turns into a major-one-track-mind deal, and the emotions become so imbedded in what I'm doing, that the task becomes more than what it really is.  And that leaves me so exhausted from feeling so much, that I have nothing left, and just fall apart.  At least that's what happens more and more frequently, since I've stopped trying to keep my emotions inside.  That stupid ed really helped with the emotional numbing, and since that's not my go-to coping mechanism anymore, there's a heck of a lot more frequent emotional releases... and (unfortunately) they aren't always alone as tears in my pillow anymore!

Now this next word?  It was a tricky one to select, because I wanted to pick something that talked about how much I love being a teacher, and how much I love being a learner, too.  I figured that in order to do each of those, I need to be a thinker.  I like to spend time thinking about what I've read, what I've learned, what I've observed, and lately, thanks to my team, I even spend some time thinking about how I'm feeling (not my favorite kind of thinking!)  Sometimes this is a good thing to be, as I can find multiple perspectives to different scenarios (as long as they don't involve my personal life) which can be fun and helpful.  Sometimes this is not the greatest, because I do have a tendency to over-think things..... which can lead to some emotional distress.... but for the most part, being a thinker is a pretty good thing, I think!

This last word, sensitive, kind of fits well with emotional, and I almost didn't use it because of that.  But it's a really fitting word, because I am sensitive in every possible definition.  I have this tendency to "feel" the room, as someone once put it.  If I walk into a room where people are agitated or stressed or happy or excited, I'll feel it.  That level of sensitivity can be good, but it is often very draining.  I'm pretty sensitive to people's needs in the sense that I am good at figuring out what someone might need, and helping them get that.  I can tell if people are upset and hiding it, which can be good, if I am willing to address it, but it can be rough, if I instead just think about it endlessly.... I'm also sensitive in the literal term - I'm allergic to way too many things - foods, medicines, products in general.  My skin is super sensitive, so is my stomach.  So are my feelings, which are easily hurt, which make me a little more emotional....!

(BONUS! Since I was never good at following rules, here is one bonus word that describes me.  I am observant.  I notice everything.  That little flower growing through the crack in the sidewalk that wasn't there yesterday?  I notice that.  That you wear the same outfit every Friday?  Yep, I notice that too.  That you've started biting your nails again?  That the pillows were rearranged?  That the kids are always a little more talkative on pizza day?  Yup.  I notice all of it.  Like the other adjectives I selected, this too, has it's positives and negatives.  It's nice to notice the little things, as people appreciate compliments on those little things.  But sometimes it's tiring, because too many little changes make me really anxious!)

So, in summary, I am an (observant and) emotionally sensitive thinker!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Challenge 2, Part 2: Care vs. Neglect

I'm going to use the term "care" for positive, and "neglect" for negative, as I think the highlighted words have a more hopeful notion to them.  I mean, I can neglect to get the trash to the street on time, and that doesn't sound horrible.  I can handle a glass with care so it doesn't break (thereby ending up in the trash/recycling!)  Just sounds a bit more hopeful, at least to me.

When it comes to responding to events in my life, I tend to respond with anxiety and discomfort, whether the events are positive or negative.  I prefer to care about others involved in the event, whether it's celebrating accomplishments or milestones, or something as simple as being at a concert - I am very careful to make sure they are enjoying themselves, sometimes neglecting my own needs in the process.  When a negative event occurs, I respond the same way, in reverse.  I get mad at myself for whatever my part was, even if I truly didn't cause it whatsoever.  I'm not good at going with the flow, and I feel like I tend to create that hiccup that causes the situation to change.

Care looks like the way I treat others - with respect.  With dignity.  With kindness and compassion.  Care means I want to make sure that people around me are well taken care of, and sometimes when they're not happy (which happens!) it means being a good listener and offering a hug or a shoulder.  Care is celebrating accomplishments, whether it's winning an award, or finally learning to multiply.  Care is growing.  Care is finding inner peace within the storm of life.  Except for me, it's meant helping others do all of the above.

Neglect?  You want to know what neglect is?  What it looks like?  Take a look at me.  Take a look at the way I live.  Actually, I take that back.  I survive, I don't live.  I'm getting closer to living every day, and a bit further from that survival mode, but I'm not quite in the land of the living yet.  Neglect means the only reason I eat is because an alarm goes off reminding me I have to.  Not because I want to nourish my body.  Neglect is pulling the good ole college trick and buying new undergarments, instead of doing laundry.  Neglect is letting the house get so messy, that you'd be ashamed to have anyone stop by unexpectedly.  Neglect is waiting until the last minute to do anything, even if your job depends on it.  Neglect means I spend more hours asleep than awake.  Multiple days in a row.  Neglect?  I'm a pro. 

Eventually, though, I hope to become a pro at self-care, too.... after all, you can have multiple areas of expertise, and I think caring about myself would be a nice addition to my world...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Challenge 2, Part 1: Self Nurturing

I look at this week's topic and feel the same twinge of panic that I felt in addressing last week's topic on Self-Care and Self-Soothing.  They are all intertwined in my mind, and they are all strugglesome areas.

Self nurturing means the same thing as both self-care and self-soothing combined: They are all ways we need to take care of the self.  The difference in my mind is that nurturing is often seen more motherly, whereas self-care and self-soothing are more self-care.  Nurturing the self seems rather challenging, as I still sometimes wish I could be mothered the way in which "typical" kids are mothered, even though I'm a grown adult!

When I nurture others, which I do daily in my job as a grade school teacher, I am offering positive and constructive feedback, praise, encouragement, support, and loads of other things to my students, as a way of coaxing out the best "them" they can be.  There is lots of laughter and fun, and sometimes tears and unhappiness, but we work through those spots together, calmly and with care.  No child is ever made to feel less than for any reason - all abilities and differences are embraced.  I listen objectively and with an open-mind to all ideas, and we move forward collectively, yet each individual child is still at their own pace within the grand scheme of things.

Do I apply that same understanding, acceptance, patience, kindness, and compassion to myself?  No f*ing way.  But I'm starting to at least try, rather than avoid the self-nurturing piece all together, which is what I've done for years.  I lived in survival mode, and there just wasn't room for any of that self-nurturing, lovey-dovey crap.

I stop myself from caring about myself because I don't like myself.  I like others.  I love my students (in a teacherly sort of way) so I want to help them.  I don't love me (yet) so I don't want to help me.  I don't feel worthy of anything positive, which is why, especially when things are rough, I sometimes I still step back and marvel at the good things I DO have in my world - my home, a job I love, an incredible therapist and support team, a family that loves me (even if I feel smothered by them) and lots of other things.  I often am caught breathless when I think about how much I do have, and how little I believe I deserve that goodness.  Instead, I deserve all the crap-ness that comes my way.  That is what I am worthy of, not the good.

Step by step, little by little, one day at a time, I'm working to change this.  With the support of all of you reading, with the encouragement and support of my team, and with my sheer determination, I know that once I put my mind to it, I will be on the top of my list of people to help..... one day....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Week 29: Made Ya Laugh!

This week's task is to write about something I did that I can now look back and laugh.  It's taken me a long time to be able to laugh at myself without beating myself up, and even then, it's only in certain situations that I can do so.  Like, my classroom!  As sensitive as I am, when I'm in the classroom, I have no trouble taking a joke and that's where most of the "laugh at me" moments happen!

I have a tendency to get really excited about learning, and sometimes with that excitement comes a bit of tripping over the tongue, mine, that is.  At least once a week I'll be asking a question, but instead of asking the question, I'll give the answer instead!  When I first found myself doing this, my students and I got a big chuckle out of it.  My concern was that it happened often enough where I didn't want it to impact their learning, so I made a game of it!  Now, when I answer the question instead of ask it, we still laugh, but then the kids try to come up with the question I was supposed to ask, since I've already given them the answer.

A less frequent occurrence, though still at least once a semester, we will be in the middle of a class discussion of sorts, and I'll head over to the dry erase board to grab a marker.  Well, of course it starts with good intentions - I'll get a few notes on the board, or a drawing of sorts (my drawings are very laughable themselves, but that's a different story!)  As the conversation builds, unless I put down the marker, well.... Let's just say if marker tossing was an Olympic sport, then I'd definitely be in medal contention!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Challenge 1, Part 3: Creativity

I learned a lot about this week's topic by reading everyone's posts.  That is probably one of the best gifts of a blogging community - we learn from each others words, experiences, and stories.  Still have a lot to learn over here, but this challenge sure gave me a good start on the topics of self-care and self-soothing!

Struggling to learn
Enough about how to
Live a life
Full of love and

Compassion for my self
Along with
Realizing that
Even I am worth it.

complicated, effort-full
discouraging, challenging, empowering
a worthwhile skill to acquire
© MGD July 2012

A really great list of ideas to take care of the self: 70 ways for Self Care

Week 28: Where Would I Be....

If you know where this image came from, please let me know
so I can give credit to the original source.
Where would I be without my arch nemesis and former best friend, ed? I'm not really sure.  I know that despite hating having to battle this disorder, I've learned a lot about myself in the process, things that I might never have learned otherwise.  While working through this nasty little situation, I have gotten in touch with my emotions and feelings in ways I never would have been able to do otherwise.

I hate this ed.  I hate how it's turned food into a mortal enemy.  I hate how it's sucked the joy out of eating.  I hate how self-conscious it's made me.  I wouldn't wish an ed on anyone.  It sucks the will to live from every fiber of your being.  Only because I am working my @$$ off with a kick @$$ team am I making the progress (however slow at times) I'm making.

So where would I be without it?  A heck of a lot happier, that's for sure.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Don't Want To Think...

Challenge 1, Part 2: Self Soothing

Continuing with this challenging topic, moving into self-soothing, where I struggle even more, has been an interesting process.  Again, keep in mind, as negative as this might seem, I do know that things can only get better and easier, which is the silver lining on this whole process!  I think that compared to self care, self soothing is a whole different ball game.  My ways of soothing myself, of calming myself, aren't the healthiest.  So once again, a heck of a lot of effort gets put into this area as well.  I am super sensitive to light, sound, texture, temperature, all that stuff.  It poses a challenge more often than not, but I'm getting better at figuring out (with the help of my therapist and team) how to work through these sensory overload situations.

This might sound childish or corny, but I am very much a texture person - I love the feel of softness.  If I'm having a really hard day, I may tuck a scrap of this ultra soft cuddly fleece into my pocket, just so I have it for comfort.  I have super soft sheets for my bed, and a blanket made of the ultra soft fleece as well.  In addition, I do have a few stuffies that live on my bed that are perfect for when I need to wrap my arms around something and just hold tight.  All the softness is really comforting.  Strangely enough, as much as I hate the dentist, I like the feeling of having the lead vest covering me.  It is really helpful in grounding me when I get too spacy.  I have looked into weighted blankets that are helpful for those with autism, and due to costs, I'm hoping I'll eventually be able to make my own?  Not that crafty, so we'll see how that goes!

Other things I do at home to self-soothe include napping, reading a familiar book (it's like visiting my best friends,) and listening to music.  I also like to do yoga, and find a few restorative poses can be really helpful.  Sometimes I'm just so disoriented and upset, that all I can do is curl up in a ball and breathe, but you know what?  It works.

When I'm not at home, it's a little tougher to self-soothe when I get into a bad spot.  I do carry Xanax with me (and would not be able to survive without it) which is great because of it's near instant impact.  It usually gives me enough time to get refocused without going into a full on anxiety attack.  Carrying the little bit of fabric helps too, cause the softness can easily be run through my fingers without drawing attention to me.  Considering I teach grade school, my students often have little fidgets in their hands, so they see it the same and love that their teacher uses fidgets too!  Strange as this may sound, if I'm struggling, sometimes I will call my therapist's voicemail, just to hear her voice, which has a really calming effect on me.  At home or out and about, sometimes a walk outside (if the weather is cooperative) can also help.

While I know that many of my self-soothing tools are rather childish, they're what I've got right now.  Eventually I hope that I don't get as overstimulated and am better able to regulate just through breathing or what-not, but for now?  You gotta do what you gotta do, right?!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just for Fun: Spreading Smiles

OK.  I'm sorry, I just can't resist.

Someone shared this video via FB or Twitter and it is too cute not to share.  It's perfect for one of those "in case of emergency, click here" days.  You know the kind I'm talking about, right?  The one where you are in desperate need of a giggle or smile?  Yeah, that one.  These two six year old friends add their own twist to a popular song that you may recognize.  I suggest watching it in full screen - even better!


Gotye: Somebody That I Used To Know

(I am not for or against kids listening to Gotye, that's up to their parents,
I'm just giggling at the cuteness of the video!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Challenge 1, Part 1: Self Care

This is a really challenging topic for me because in all honesty, I suck in the self-care department, and in the self-soothing department?  I'm even worse!  The good news is that there's no where to go but up and there is lots of room for improvement!

There's this little thing called self-worth that gets in my way.  It's something I am working on daily, and it is so not easy.  However, I firmly believe that once I see myself as deserving of care, from myself or anyone, I will be better able to care for myself.  It's a really odd paradox in my mind - I'm not worthy enough for anyone to care about, yet, unless I care about myself, no one else can really do it for me.

Mentally and emotionally, I know that I have gaps in my development in this department, and I'm working hard to learn the things I skipped over in an effort to better meet my own needs.  It is mentally exhausting right now because everything, from assembling a balanced meal, to building basic care routines, everything is a huge effort!  Things that many people do without thought, I am still working my way through, step by step, inch by inch, and having to think consciously about every single step along the way.  Little by little I'll learn, and it'll get easier a little at a time, at least I hope it does, because the amount of thought and effort put into EVERYthing I do to take care of myself is exhausting!

One of my fellow bloggers has something she calls a Bliss List.  Take a peek at her list, it's really quite inspiring, yet full of simple things that one can do to take care of themselves.  I'm starting my own Bliss List and it has not been an easy task, because self-care is not an easy task.  I'll get there.  One day at a time, of course!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week 27: Superpowers!

If I could have any superpower.... what would I choose and why?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Have I mentioned before that I really don't like making decisions?  And having to pick just ONE superpower?  This could take a while!

What to choose.... the ability to read minds?  Invisibility? Superhuman strength?  The ability to grant wishes for others?  Lightening fast speed?  X-ray vision?  Healing powers?  The ability to shape shift?

I think, if I had to choose just one, I would choose to control the "mood" of those around me.... I know, it sounds corny, but I'm thinking of Jasper, and how he could quickly excite the room, yet, just as easily, he could calm the atmosphere.  I'd like to add only one piece to Jasper's ability- the ability to keep my own mentality on the positive side of things at least 90% of the time.  I mean, if I'm going to have the ability to change the feelings of a room, I do need to be able to feel the full range of emotions, I'd just prefer to spend the majority of my time in a positive mindset, rather than where I tend to drift at the moment.

Final thoughts...  
Would you rather live in a world where everyone had superpowers 
or where no one had superpowers?

p.s.  If you're not sure who Jasper is.... you may want to read the Twilight saga for clarification.  The choice is yours!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week 26: Something Positive about ME

First, I have to say, that had I been given this prompt last year, or six months ago, or even three months ago, I probably would not have been able to answer it.  At all.

However, now that even my worst days are better than my best days used to be, there are a few positives I can point out, despite the incredibly challenging weekend I've been having.  (Of course this prompt would fall at a time where I'm struggling!)

 The Help
1.  I love the color of my eyes.  They are speckled with flecks of brown and green, dancing on a blue background.

2.  I am a good teacher.  (Others will say that I am an exemplary or dynamic teacher and though they might believe it, I can not speak those words.)

3.  I am good with computers.  And technology in general.  And I'm good at teaching people of all ages the basics of technology.

There.  Three whole things that I can say without feeling ill.  Three whole things that I can say and I can mean it when I say them.  Three might not be a lot, but it's three more than I used to be able to say...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Choice or Challenge?

The past two and a half days, I have been with out power.  Without power means no fans or AC on 100+ degree days.  (Yes, multiple days.)  Just so happens that I had stocked my fridge and freezer on Tuesday, with good choices to help me meet my daily goal.... only to have the power go out on Wednesday at four am.  Because of my food allergies, stocking my fridge costs a lot more than you'd think. 

And today, I had to throw 90% of it away.  Which really frustrated me.  For as much as I don't like food, I hate wasting it even more.

The way I see it, there are two perspectives I could take on the experience: 

I could look at it as a challenge - the chance to see how strong I am in my recovery and how well I can roll with this unexpected and very unwelcome challenge.  I could show my team how much progress I've made.

I could look at it as a choice - I am faced with a decision, do I choose to use this as an excuse to slip backward?  Or do I choose to use this as a chance to see how strong I've become?

I would really love it if I could wholeheartedly jump up and down, yelling gleefully "I did it!  I made it!  I successfully passed this challenge!"

Except that would be dishonest.

I can't completely berate myself either- I wasn't a 100% failure.  I didn't completely give in to my old habits.  I didn't let this become a full-on race backward down the path of regression.

Instead, this was a learning experience.  I learned how reliant I am on technology.  And while I didn't make my daily goals like I am supposed to, I didn't completely throw the days away, either.  I landed somewhere in the ballpark (albeit way in the outfield) of where I should be on an average-low day.

I learned that I am not strong enough to be unsupported through this type of challenging situation.  I learned that I am strong enough to not completely give in to old urges.  I learned that I've made some progress, but I still have a ways to go.

And somehow, through it all?  I managed not to melt!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Week 25: Something I'm Proud Of

Let's take a quick peek back at the accomplishments I wrote about way back in December for week 10.  Did you click the link?  Read up?  Good.

I can say that I am still proud of the accomplishments I wrote about nearly seven months ago.  They all stand true today.  Especially teaching, I am so proud of all my students, and the way we impact each other.  I am proud to say that I still love my job, despite the challenges over the years.

I am proud that I have chosen to continue to walk the path in front of me.  It's not been an easy journey and there are many, many times where I wanted to give up.  But I didn't.  I won't give up.  I am proud of my decision to join my team in the fight against my challenges.  I'm proud of the fact that I still show up for therapy and dig into things I don't want to acknowledge, much less look at and talk about.  I'm proud of the fact that I've learned to better take care of myself during family situations that get out of hand.  Instead of toughing it out and letting my family walk all over me, I will now do what I need to do to take care of me, even though it feels impossibly hard.

I'm proud of this blog.  I never thought that I'd become a blogger.  Sure, I've always loved to write, but I've shared my writing with maybe 5-6 people, three of whom were my former teachers.  Otherwise, my writing has always been private.  I never thought it good enough to share.

Hmmmm.... pride.... this is a pretty decent list of things to be proud of... if only I can transfer them into sources of confidence.... guess I'll just have to wait and see!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Week 24: Overcoming Challenges

I've faced a lot of challenges in my life. No biggie, you get kinda used to them after a while.  Doesn't make it any easier, but I'm no longer surprised when faced with what feels like an impossible or uncomfortable or painful situation, since they happen to appear on a fairly regular basis.

The 2010-2011 school year started off challenging, with multiple funerals of friends and family all within a short time frame.  I had a great class, and as much as I enjoyed being their teacher, I was not able to bounce back from the depression of the funerals.  I spiraled further into depression, and my doctor decided that I needed to return to therapy.  This was in December.  I was fine once I got to school because I loved my job and my students, but it was really hard to get going in the morning.  I was maintaining professionalism and fulfilling all my job responsibilities and then some.

Things changed in February.  I was still struggling to get out of bed, but now preparing for work and getting myself there had become even more challenging.  I was always exhausted.  I had been through 4 different meds, none of which helped.  By April I was ready to quit my job and sleep full time.  As much as I loved my job, I just wasn't motivated to do anything, even at school.  I was on auto-pilot.  I still fulfilled my basic job requirements, but I was barely holding on.  I felt like the worst teacher ever, despite the fact that my class still loved coming to school and their parents were thrilled with the school year.  I got home every day and slept for two hours, got up long enough to eat something, and then went to bed. I was hardly eating, always tired, and often on the verge of tears.

By June, I wanted to quit everything.  Parents raved about the school year, kids were happy, looking forward to summer, and all the while, I felt terrible.  I felt so bad for short changing my students.  They didn't get the *best* me that I could be.  They got a shadow of me, which was, in my mind, not good enough, even though it was fine with everyone else.  I'm honestly surprised I didn't get put on notice or something, I mean, I was running in late for everything at work, hardly participating, leaving as soon as the bell rang.  I was truly a shadow of myself.

Summer arrived and gave me much needed down time.  In addition to working with my therapist multiple times weekly, my dietitian joined the team.  The amount of support I had that summer, and still have today, is what helped me overcome the intense lethargy that had taken over my life.

By the time the 2011-2012 school year started, I was able to tackle school more like the old me.  I finally had a much needed support system, and with their help, the 2011-2012 school year was my best year yet.  I'm still working closely with my team, and am still battling ed and depression on a daily basis, but because of the support I have, things are better balanced - I am able to concentrate on school when I'm there, and on life when I'm not.

Don't get me wrong, things are not all sunshine and roses, and there is still a dark cloud that likes to follow me around.  I'm just better equipped to handle the ups and downs of life that will always be there.  But now I have people that toss out the life preserver before I get too far from the ship.

Happy Independence Day!

July 4th is a special day in the United States of America.  
It's the 236th birthday of the good ole' U. S. of A.

If you think about it, today can be more than the country's independence day.  It can be a day that we choose to take back our independence from whatever it is holding us back.  It also might mean we surrender that fierce independence and begin to allow ourselves to lean on others for support.  Today can be a lot more than just the birthday of a nation.... it can be a celebration of a personal victory, celebrating one step closer toward freedom from whatever it is holding you back.

With that in mind.... I'm revisiting Week 7... yep, that means another song!  As cliche as this is for today, this song is one of my all time favorites.  I remember when it first came out, how the words spoke to the depths of my cells, and the lyrics filled me with hope.  I actually did a pretty dynamic writing assignment with my students using this song.  The video is quite powerful, but even more powerful is the story behind the video's creation.  Enjoy!

Week 7: Words that Give Me Meaning - Take 7
Firework by Katy Perry

(lyrics below video)
(Check out the making of the video at the end of this post!)

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag,
Drifting through the wind
Wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards,
One blow from caving in?

Do you ever feel already buried deep?

Six feet under screams but no one seems to hear a thing
Do you know that there's still a chance for you
'Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine

Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause baby you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go "ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in "awe, awe, awe"

You don't have to feel like a wasted space

You're original, you cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed

So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine

Just own the night like the 4th of July

'Cause baby you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in "awe, awe, awe"

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through-ough-ough

'Cause baby you're a firework

Come on, show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Ah, ah, ah"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby, you're a firework

Come on, let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Ah, ah, ah"
You're gonna leave 'em all in "awe, awe, awe"

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon 

Updated to add a great article I just read via Twitter -
Declaring Independence from Body Image Saboteurs

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Week 23: Affirmations/Recovery Advice

Sound familiar?  Yep.  I did both options as week 18.  Instead of revisiting this topic so soon, considering I posted week 18, what, oh, just over a week ago?  (Remember, technically they were supposed to be five weeks apart, I'm just a lil' bit behind!)  Well, I'm going to link both posts here for your reading pleasure.

Happy Reading!

Week 22: Harboring Emtions

Hmm.... Where do I hold my emotions.  I guess a better question is where don't I hold them?  My emotions like to get stuffed into my stomach, creating a mess in the digestion department.  They like to hide in my heart and chest, trying to convince me I'm having a heart attack (I'm smarter than those darn emotions, though!)  They like to hang out in my neck, and they hate when I see my chiropractor, because he crashes their party there.  Same with my low back.  My emotions pretty much hate my chiropractor, because he tries to crash any party they've planned in any part of my body.

It used to be easy to keep my emotions in check.  I just kept stuffing them down, eating my emotions instead of food.  That worked for a long time, too.  Except for one problem.  When I ate too many emotions, and too little food, well, the emotions snuck out of my pores and created a rather uncomfortable situation upon their escape.  That, and my body needed to eat more than emotions, despite what my brain thought.

Now I'm working through this terrifying process of actually expressing emotions instead of eating them.  I should say, appropriately expressing them.  It is not easy work, though my therapist has said that it does get a little easier over time.  Right now it's such a new skill, like, say, learning how to ride a skateboard, that I've got a lot of scrapes, bumps, and bruises all over.  But I'm trying.  And waiting for the easier part to arrive!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 21: What I Want to Hear

For a while I wanted someone to confirm that I'm worthless.  But that hasn't, and likely won't happen.  Guess it's just my distorted perception of myself.  Hope it changes quickly!

I wished my therapist would tell me that she'd be there for me no matter what.  In my heart, I knew she couldn't say that, cause in my experience, no one sticks around long enough to get to know me enough to help me.  Or I should say, no one sticks around long enough for me to let them in so they can help me.  On more than one occasion, and in more than one way, she has told me that she's not going anywhere.  My therapist, my dietitian, the primary members of my treatment team have said, with and without words, that they are here for me, they're in it for the long haul, I can depend on them..... I think they're trying to show me that I'm worth loving.  I'm taking their word for it till I believe it myself.  Which might take years. 

What else would I like to hear?  I'm borrowing words from others as there is so much going on in my mind I don't know which way is up right now.

I think my heart would explode if this actually happened.
  I've only just learned what it feels like to miss
someone this strongly. I wonder if anyone
misses me...
Only in my dreams...
Please.  Please.  Please....

I think I can, I think I can...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 20: Characters that Remind Me of Me

Wow.  This is going to be a fun one!  
I read way too many books, so I don't think I'll be able to pick just one character, but I'll try to keep it in check!

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) - Her tenacity and fierce loyalty are qualities I value and hope that I too, posses.  Plus, I would have loved to live in the time in which Anne lived... life was so much simpler then!

Francie Nolan (Tree Grows in Brooklyn) - I love Francie's innocence, and her outlook on life, despite the challenges she faced.  She didn't live in an easy world, but she managed to make the best of things, and I try to do the same (not always successfully!)

Punky Brewster - I know she isn't a book character, but she was my hero growing up.  I wanted a bedroom like hers soooo badly!  While I tended to match my outfits slightly (only very slightly) better than she did, her spunk, her colorful personality, her zest?  I have been compared to her before, and I take it as a compliment!

I could go on for pages and pages here, but I think these would be my top three character connections.  Though this might have to become the first of a multi-prompt series!