anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, journey, life, purpose, self esteem, strength, trust

Puzzle Pieces…

Ok… This is all so interesting… unraveling parts of me that I have tried to ignore… Parts  I’ve pushed aside to be able to muddle on… to keep on keepin’ on!  My body and my brain have decided I wasn’t going to ignore them anymore, it needs to be dealt with! It is all beginning to come together and make some sort of sense!

I will need to rewind, talk about things I haven’t touched on in this blog before.  I don’t like to complain, whine, or feel self pity.  I press on… until I can’t.

I mentioned in my last post that I would be seeing a specialist for some ongoing health issues I’ve been having for years.  They have progressively gotten worse and the burden of chronic pain is taking its tole. What that all meant, I didn’t really “get”… I have been beating myself up recently about not being able to feel like me…struggling with everyday things and sheer exhaustion! I was able to for a while blame it on pneumonia, something physical, something seen by others… then the dizziness hit… vertigo, equilibrium issues causing me to not be capable of walking without holding on, nausea, migraine headaches… issues!  When I sought help from my primary doctor it seemed it may have been related – possible Vestibular Neuritis due to inflammation from the sickness. I went to PT for what I thought would just be routine Epley Maneuver (something I’ve done many times before for my vertigo) and it would be relieved and I’d move on (like so many times before).  Well, not this time… 3 WEEKS OF CONTINUED VERTIGO and lots of balance/dizziness issues!  I was referred to a specialist at MA Eye and Ear, I got in quite quickly and was happy to have someone treat me while symptomatic, as I’ve ailed from these things before, but never this long. It’s always been only my words that could describe how I felt, until now.  Tests revealed some different abnormalities in brain function and a Brain MRI was ordered. The doctor suggested I take some time off from work and rest and relax, he ordered me to be out of work for the month until I see him again. I finally was able to stop holding my breath when I got the MRI results two weeks later, it felt like an eternity…  There were no tumors or aneurysms found! Phew!

I was put on a special Migraine Diet to help eliminate trigger foods in my diet. I was put on certain supplements to help my body and my mind.  I have been religious in following my protocol, keeping a diary of all symptoms and reporting for PT sessions. I will be going back to see the specialist next week.

The time the doctor has given me has allowed me to really slow down and see/feel everything for what it truly is.  The constant pain I feel in my arm, neck and shoulder are so prominent when I’m not having to push through everyday, the assessment of myself in the morning of the poor nights sleep I got due to tossing and turning from tinnitus interrupting my sleep, or neck, arm pain has been very eye opening.  Stabbing random headaches that seem to come out of nowhere are felt and documented.  I’ve come to realize how long have I been feeling (or NOT feeling) these things and the crazy amount of stress I’ve put on my body and mind trying to deal with it.  I found out a year ago this month that I have two herniated discs in my neck as well as an Arnold Chiari Malformation… I went to a neurosurgeon then to discuss this and he left it with me that if I lose motor control… not able to zip zippers or button buttons to come back to him.  I have been following that “rule” ever since, allowing myself to think that if all that is still intact then I must be okay.  The chronic pain, stiffness, constant aches, and weakness, tingling in my arm and hand are obviously taking a tole on me… I have begun to be more patient with myself and knowing fully now that my anxiety and new onset of depression certainly could be a result of these physical ailments.

Because the constant pain has been normal for so long, the new onset of constant worry and trying to find a root problem to my saddened state has allowed me to dig deep into my psyche and pin point things I felt were contributing.  I feel that this has added to my already emotional drain and fatigue.  I have taken a break from seeing my new therapist during this and will plan to see him again when I have more answers to my physical ailments.

It is reassuring to me to begin to put the puzzle pieces of “me” together and have a medical doctor really listening to what I’m feeling!  I feel like I’m on the road, I feel like I am taking care of me… I am finally paying attention to what I need! …I feel brave!

“A strong woman has the faith that she is strong enough for the journey … But a woman of STRENGTH has faith that it is IN THE JOURNEY that she will BECOME STRONG!”

~ Unknown

anxiety, communication, identity, purpose, self esteem

Feel the pain? Really?

They say letting the pain emerge is best… let it runneth over.

Accept it, acknowledge it, feel it. After having done a lot of self-help books and learning these things for myself, I felt like I couldn’t get to the point of forgetting, forgiving, and moving past it… so I began therapy. Its good, it’s okay. I’ve only been going 2 weeks. It’s weird ~ what crossed my mind after my last session ~ I didn’t expect it…

I realized my therapist is a stranger to me, I was in a state of need when I reached out to him, I went straight into my history… my “stuff”. When I got through that initial emergent feeling of needing help after having a prolonged sickness, after having been worn down, tired and vulnerable… I got back up and back into my routine… I began to feel regret for opening up so much. Regret for not just being the reclusive me and fighting through this alone like I always have. That is what I do… that’s been my go to.. I hide my pain, I have for a long time, hiding behind a mask is my norm.

As I continued to go and he would ask questions like “how I was doing” I felt strange, I almost felt defensive.

“What? You don’t believe I can handle this? … You don’t know me!! I fight, I survive, I am charming and lovely and I handle things with grace! That’s who I am! ~ Sorry that I allowed you to believe otherwise, forget all that! I’m fine!” I didn’t say this, it’s just been my internal feeling. I realize now … I’ve only shown him the weak, sad, the in need part of me … I am NOT that! WHAT AM I DOING? I have never shown that, I am regretful that I am doing that now! What is wrong with me? I’ve allowed my friends into this new version of me as well, often times I feel pitied and weak … I’ve always been the strong one. I have always had all the answers, People come to me for my strength and wisdom. Who is this person that goes and sits in front of a stranger and whines about her life?? He doesn’t know ME!! He doesn’t KNOW that I am GRATEFUL, BLESSED, STRONG, WISE, AMAZING!!!!! He doesn’t know that!!! I almost wish I never started … like could we just wipe away what I’ve said… I’m fine, I don’t need help!!

What is this? Why am I battling with my own self about this? I started out feeling brave to do this. I assumed it would bring me new confidence and understanding of myself … so far it’s only made me feel regretful… shameful for feeling… guilty for sharing… it’s almost made me feel weaker. Like I’m dwelling now on these things I’ve said out loud, almost feeling like a victim, I don’t want to feel like a victim!!!! I feel like I’ve shed my armor, an armor I’ve spent a lifetime creating for myself. I am out of my comfort zone. Is this part of the process?

Thank God I read something recently that said “if you question and think you’re going insane then you’re not” ~ it went on to explain how an insane person doesn’t stop to reflect, look inward and question it, they are just irrational and out of their own mind. I do have to say that’s brought me comfort. I am really struggling to know how to help myself right now.

The truth is I am going through a lot right now. I am still home from work due to illness… another one …I am stressed about that to say the least. I am seeing a medical specialist next week to try to get some answers to literally years of ailments, most of them having to do with vision, balance, migraines, and chronic pain. I am quite sure the sitting in this chair with pain, feeling isolated and sorry for myself, questioning why I can’t just be “me” without so much effort to feel normal, I remember when that came with ease. I am exhausted, I am frustrated, I am sad… I read and read… I ponder and research my thoughts trying and hoping to find answers.

I do try to snap out of this, try to tell myself to get up, get some fresh air… use my body and mind for something else but then I stand up and the dizziness takes over, I can’t, I literally can’t. It’s a horrible cycle that I don’t know how to stop. People who love me tell me to be patient with myself… I know this, I agree and I try, I honestly try.

I will again try… Baby step #1 will be to go to the specialist next week, not expect healing that day, but hope for understanding. I will pray for some answers, some explanation to what is going on. I will pray that he gives me something to do or focus on to begin to break free of this cycle, the fear, the anxiety and now I suspect some depression, from being out of commission, being and feeling so far from center for myself.

I promise myself… I will continue to try.

purpose

Shedding the Mask…

I’ve always worn a mask

Shown the best parts of me

Hiding the pain

Not talking about the negative

Shining a light on the positive

I’m the helper, not the needy one

I don’t like how this feels

If I’m going to give in and be seen, my guard has to come down, my armor shed off. I just don’t know how to do this yet.

I look around at my house from this point of view of sadness today and I’m mad at myself. I’m the one who is supposed to bring the life to it, the meals, the celebrations… where has she gone? Will she come back? I feel guilt and want to begin to pretend again. Who will that benefit? How long will this last until she’s back?

adult children, communication, drugs and alcohol, expectations, family, purpose, raising kids, respect, responsibility

Everything’s Different …

I began this blog many years ago, if you’ve followed me you’ve see my family transition through many things.  To put it into perspective when I wrote my first post, my youngest son was 15 and he is now 21.  I can’t imagine I need to explain to anyone how much life changes over that period of time.

We have 3 children, their current ages are 26, 22, & 21. They are adults. Two of our adult children have returned home and are living with my husband and I.  Our youngest did a year of college and decided it wasn’t for him… we respected that completely and with open arms embraced that his next step would present itself with time.  Our daughter, our middle child, age 22, also left school after 3 years.  She struggled with campus life and was met with some illnesses that made it difficult to handle the stresses of being away at school.  She also came home with intentions of growing her small business here at home and forging a new path. We accepted her personal decision and welcomed her home as well with open arms.

As you can imagine life needed to be different from what we all once knew it to be under one roof.  I was conscious of the fact that they had been away from home long enough to have gotten used to not having mom & dads rules to live by, but yet knowing that being in our home the respect factor would still apply.  I worked diligently to allow them space and I felt all the same respects from them.

It has been 2 years of them living at home with us, 2 years of adjustments for all of us. In one of my past blogs entitled All We Expect is Respect I told of how in our family unit my husband and I had a pretty simple formula for our kids growing up …. we would give respect and expect respect, most everything has always boiled down to that.  All those years of instilling this very premise into our children has brought us to the harmony we live in today.  They are amazing!

I would say one of my own biggest struggles with this transition has been all my prior teachings, when they were teenagers, about drugs and alcohol. When we made the choice to have them come home and live in our home as adults I knew they would have to be allowed to make their own personal decisions and with certain respect and boundaries I would need to respect that.  They choose to smoke marijuana. They are very aware that this is something I have always been uncomfortable with. Over the past couple years of course it has become legalized, I have spent a lot of energy being okay with this for them and allowing them this personal choice.  Now “allowing” does not mean crossing my own personal boundaries and they have shown great respect to that. They do not smoke in our home, they do not smoke in front of me and honestly in a 2 years period of them living here I’ve only seen them twice when I perceived them to be high in my presence.  Now that is respect!

We are very open in our communication about substance. I remind (without nagging I hope) that they need to be aware of how substance affects them.  To check in with themselves that its not being “used” as a coping mechanism, that its recreation and relaxing but not a “need”.  It has gotten easier over time.  With open transparency that it is happening and them listening respectfully to my concerns, we have come very far.

I also was certain that we would not enable them while being home. That was important to me.  They pay rent to be here, contributing to home expenses, and they manage and pay all their own bills.  They have student loans and they both have a car with insurance to manage.  My husband and I are  so proud of how they are handling their adult lives.  They both are hard workers and remain dedicated to growing and learning everyday.

I want to remind my readers that the two children I speak of in this post are my two who have been diagnosed with anxiety in their teenage years.  They were medicated back in 2017-2018 and since went off all of prescribed medicines and are handling what life is throwing at them these days with grace.  Do I worry?  Of course.  Am I concerned that they are self medicating with marijuana? Yes, of course.  As their mom I am going to worry, but I have to control that worry and begin to trust.

They are adults now… did I always make the “right” decisions at their age? Of course not.  I respect them and they respect me. We are in a good place.

“Adulthood is like the vet, and we’re all the dogs that were excited for the car ride until we realized where we’re going.”  ~ Anonymous 

anxiety, clarity, identity, life, purpose, responsibility, self esteem

Asking for Help…

Well, my life until now has been defined as being “the helper”.  I have now decided I need the help. I have worked tirelessly to help myself through reading, gaining knowledge, looking inward, meditating, staying aware of my emotions… among other things.  This has been YEARS!  I have done a lot of healing on my own, through self awareness and soul searching.  As my children have grown into adults my time has been my own and I have been using that time to begin to heal.  I say “begin to” because I feel like I’ve done all I can do alone. I need help.

I began seeing a therapist this week.

I have mentioned in past writings that I have difficulty with transitions. I have determined that may be my biggest weakness with my anxiety.  I recently got very sick with pneumonia, I was out of work two weeks prior to our Christmas Break and then our break was two additional weeks.  I most likely over did it over the holiday with company and family time, that I refused to miss any parts of, therefore not allowing myself to heal fully over that time.  I honestly tried, and laid pretty low, but it clearly wasn’t enough rest.  When I returned to work on Monday, after having been away for 4 weeks I soon realized how difficult it was going to be. I knew I needed to return for my kids (I work in a first grade classroom) but physically I was very drained and my body began to react to that.  On Tuesday I went in convincing myself it was the “right” thing to do, I could not make it through the day… headache, body aches, upset stomach and rib pain from the torn cartilage I had from all the coughing through my sickness were just not something I could bear while trying to be positive and helpful in the classroom.  I went home and began to fall into an emotional wreck.  Crying and wondering when I would feel like me again and get back to my duties at school.  If you’ve followed me here as The Bountiful Mom over the years you will know that my home-work balance is something I’ve struggled with in the past.  My mind went wild with thoughts of people questioning me and my illness and my time out of work.  Most of what I was ailing from at this point is unseen, I’m not coughing anymore and I look okay.  I was, and am still, not okay!

I spiraled with thought.  Thoughts that twisted me up. Familiar feelings of guilt and shame. Feelings of questioning my own self… was I really still this sick or is this my anxiety now?  Am I convincing myself of the physical ailments in order to have something to blame my thoughts of anxiety on?  I reeled with overthinking! I had absolutely been here before.  I knew I needed help.

I searched the internet for counselors, therapists and doctors in our community who may be able to help me.  I’ve considered it before and even made a couple attempts at setting up appointments.  I always went with women and always skimmed over men when looking … I’m not even sure why? I guess as a mom and all my complexities of thought I assumed a woman would understand me better.  Then I came across a name I was kind of familiar with but not familiar enough that it deterred me.  What I mean by that is I live in a small remote community, so finding someone I do not know a lot about already or have a relationship outside of the therapy room had proved itself difficult.  This one somehow felt good, worth giving a try.  I called the number on the screen. I needed help.

To my absolute astonishment I wasn’t met with an answering machine or a voicemail. A male voice answered my call. I stuttered a bit as I began to speak, my voice broke as I began to feel weepy in my need.  He asked when I hoped to begin sessions.  I told him I was out of work and felt stuck. I asked about meeting today, explaining how I knew he was busy but… he stopped me, he said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was relieved and yet a bit scared. But, I needed help.

I feel brave and courageous. This has been a big step. That first day was good but it kind of began with my backstory … I didn’t really talk about immediate need which was getting over my sickness and getting back to work.  I left his office feeling hopeful for the weeks ahead and had a restful afternoon.  I had been to my primary doctor as well that day and had been advised to stay home another day and allow myself healing and rest, I was told the pneumonia had wreaked havoc with my body and I had to give in to it.  So, the next morning I did some of the home remedies suggested to me at my medical doctor and settled in to rest for the day.  I was once again overcome with thought in the quiet of my living room. Questions of what’s wrong with my immune system to make me not bounce back yet, how could I continue to do this to my coworker and my students? My new therapist had told me we could text if need be, he wouldn’t charge for phone sessions if I needed it on a whim… I decided to reach out again, that took courage.

I needed help.

He said “How about 1:00pm?”  I was so relieved, he was kind and understanding.  I went this time to talk about work.  My work-life balance that has seemed so off-balance for years.  I questioned it being aligned with my passion and if it is even the right job for me anymore? I talked about my own childhood trauma of anxiety and misunderstandings coming into play and being triggered by some of my student’s behaviors and cries for help.  He helped to restore some of the confidence I had lost over my physical illness, time spent alone at home in pain and basically he helped me to feel heard and understood.  I don’t talk about my anxiety to many people.  I feel judged by it. It is a label, not an understanding. From experience I have learned that when someone doesn’t battle with it themselves or have a loved one they have seen deal with it, they honestly can’t relate. It is hard for someone to understand what my brain allows me to believe when I am not at my strongest.  So… I keep it to myself.

After that appointment, I felt stronger and more confident than I had in weeks. I went to work the next day!! I struggled through my weakness and was there for my kids ~ with a fresher outlook on my abilities to return to them and be what ~ and who ~ they need.

I will continue with therapy.  He explained to me how much work I’ve already done on my own to get this far.  He said we are able to skip over so much that we have already reached the AP CLASS… he told me “Our time together… this won’t take long”.   That also has given me confidence. I am (and have been) working on me, a version of me that I love and respect. I know she’s in there, but sometimes the darkness traps me and I struggle to see the light again.

I asked for help and I am receiving help.

 

adult children, anxiety, awakening, identity, life, purpose

In Nature All Things Transform, Even People…

I woke up this morning thinking about my daughter.

She will be home after her exams in about two weeks. She is struggling. I always want to take the hurt away, find an answer… a solution. We’ve been at this a while, she has battled depression for almost 2 years now and all I’ve had to really offer is listening and understanding. Medication worked for a while but now seems to not be? Her stress levels are currently very high as she heads into exam week, this exacerbates her anxiety as well.

This morning I awoke with a renewal of hope. I woke up thinking of nature… thinking about how everything that is worth it takes time and nurturing.  Flowers begin as tiny seeds finding their way through rock and soil to meet the sun, they need water and light to begin to grow. They then form buds and gradually open themselves up into great beauty to share with the rest of us, all the while never doing this at the same time as the seed beside them.

The great enormous tree in our backyard began as a tiny acorn, finding ways to sprout despite all the adversity it’s faced. As a young tree it faced the wind and had to learn to stand tall, maybe changing form here and there to withstand the beating weather. But it is there now… with strong roots and providing shade and shelter to the rest of us.

The symbol I most thought of as I thought about my daughter this morning was the butterfly.  How the butterfly begins as a caterpillar… Haven’t we all felt like the caterpillar? The transformation and the morphing they must endure to eventually become the butterfly is inspiring. The interesting part to me is THE CATERPILLAR NEVER KNOWS IT”S HAPPENING.  They gradually go through natures plan, often very slowly, feeling undeveloped, feeling very unnoticed.

I saw my daughter clearly this morning as the caterpillar.  Not for it’s form or dullness… but for it’s desire, for it’s willingness to push on when all feels slow and unexciting. She is doing the inner work now to be able to fly off in grace and beauty… she is morphing and transforming right in front of me. I am so inspired by her strength and her ability to continue to smile when feeling such inner pain and turmoil. I am so proud of her and can so clearly see how today’s effort and strife will lead her to her transformation.

All of my children bring me such joy.  They are adults now.  I have such admiration for them, watching them take what my husband and I have instilled in them and seeing them apply it to their own lives, priceless!

“The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar was brave.”  ~ Anonymous

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, expectations, family, identity, life, purpose, school

Taking Life One Day at a Time

So…. It’s Spring.  Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does.  Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter.  This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch.  With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.

My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago.  He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.

We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…

We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there.  She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path.  College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.

This did not come as much of a surprise.  My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well.  Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business.  She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more.  She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.

This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression.  It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner.  She is very often in a very heightened state of stress.  She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se.  This is very unsettling.  A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc)  all seem to point in the direction of her gut health.  She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry.  My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.

Our son has also battled with major anxiety.  He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer.  My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of.  Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story.  It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them.  I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.

So here we are… Spring… new beginnings.  My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways.   One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling.  They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either.  I am proud of them and we support their journey!

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.  – Arthur Ashe

 

purpose

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Fredrick Douglass

We seem to need a cultural shift.  The majority of families in society seem to be struggling so much. What do we do? How does the average person who can see this have an impact?

I work in a K-12 elementary school.  I am very blessed to work in the library, I am the library assistant.  I service every student and every adult in the building.  In all reality, this means I see everything! I see clearly the struggle of teachers trying to teach state standards to their students, many of which are unable to learn due to their own personal struggles, I see and feel the struggles of these kids daily.  I see administration and counselors working tirelessly day in and day out, often just to be scrutinized by staff for what they “didn’t do” or what they “should have done differently”.  I see paraprofessionals in classrooms supporting full-time teachers and often having inter-personal difficulties between them that there seems to be nowhere to turn for help.  I recently became the ESP representative in our building, sitting on the ESP Advisory Board, to try to help these issues.

The library is a quiet safe space, my students often open up to me, I am a listener by nature.  I enjoy my role and feel I have been placed here.  Our library class is considered a “special” on the kids schedule from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. We have most classes twice a week for 30 minutes. Often the kids are just coming in from recess, or maybe gym, and they walk into the library with unresolved social issues that popped up during their unstructured time out of their academics.  They may walk in bickering or whispering, crying or with noticeable tension, whatever it may be it feels to me to be a teachable moment. They want to talk about it, they want to resolve it, they want help with the way it feels.  The part that I don’t understand and see differently is that they are just shuffled through… “keep quiet, keep in line, come into class we are waiting on you now!”   There is no understanding of one’s feelings, no discussion to what socially just happened… just keep moving, push those emotions aside we have work to do!  I just don’t get that.  Isn’t that something we as adults need to also learn?  What then are we creating for these kids? More disconnect, no communication skills.  What is being taught to these kids about understanding their emotions and how to deal with them as they grow and have even more complex emotions?

We are the library, there is no grade given, there are no tests.  Yes, the literacy piece is undoubtedly important… but my point is, can’t there be 5-10 minutes if it’s needed to help these kids resolve some feelings?  Wouldn’t this be the time for them to be able to take a breath and feel the calm before shuffling along again? I get the lead teachers who need to push content during academic blocks, I get that wholeheartedly,  but I also think this is equally important.  I went to a library symposium recently and it is a fact that libraries are sanctuaries to some of our most vulnerable people in society.  Shouldn’t this feeling be taught to kids in the early years?  The feeling you get from your first library will last a lifetime. That is what I feel is most important in my job, creating an environment that’s bright, cheery, and a welcoming space for all.

The definition of school is an institution for educating children.  “Educating children”… to me that means the whole child, to support the growth and advancement of that little person.  Doesn’t that include mind, body and spirit?  If it doesn’t then I think we’ve turned the wrong direction somewhere along the way in education and may be contributing to some of our societal problems right from the start. Our young people have to be taught how to be people, not just succeed in academics, but succeed as people in a society!!

The school I am a part of does this better than many, I am sure of that!  But knowing that what we do is “better” than most and observing the struggle daily is very unsettling.

I see parents working hard… trying to do the right thing.  But they are having to make tough decisions between family and work just to make ends meet and pay the bills.  The stress that comes along with having to make these decisions leaves them exhausted and lacking patience for what their children need from them to succeed.  Who do we help? Parents, kids, entire families?  Do they even know they need help?  What are the steps communities can take to help?  Where in the world do we start?

I cannot reiterate enough that I see and feel the pain!  I see the hurt!  These kids are voicing it – asking for help!  I see kids at younger and younger ages understanding the dysfunction happening at home but feeling out of control of it themselves.  Imagine 6, 7 and 8 year old children knowing something doesn’t feel right and then living with feeling out of control for an entire childhood.  Those same young people feeling out of control of their environment become teenagers and then adults.  Coping skills and a full tool box of how to combat these feelings are so important to them when they are young.  Do we really question the human disconnect and lack of empathy of school shooters?  They were never listened to, they voiced all along what they needed and they were shuffled along through the halls and classrooms being “taught”.  What are we teaching?

The only motive I’ve EVER seen in a young child’s crying or misbehaving is the motive to be listened to, to be understood, or to simply be loved! Some of the children who act out most are those who need the most!

I was that child… because of my needy-ness I was taught to not like myself very much, that something was wrong with me for “feeling”… this carried over into my adult life and I have found ways to make sense of these things.  I have a loving supportive family, a dynamic husband who listens intently to my often crazy ideas.  But what about the kid who doesn’t have that support as they grow?  They continue to feel stupid, unloved, and misunderstood… What a horrible state of being to be in! Is this what we want to continue to create? I don’t.

“Listen to Your Children Now so They’ll Talk Later”

awakening, clarity, gratitude, husband, life, marriage, New England, purpose, seasons, Spring

The Sweet Sound of Wind Chimes

March is finally coming to an end.  The month of March in New England is just a miserable month.  Dreary, cold, long… but the anticipation of spring ahead keeps us going.

My husband has been putzing around outside a lot more these days with the extended daylight in the late afternoons.  He awakened the grill from it’s winter slumber and we have grilled out a few evenings this past week, what a treat!

Yesterday was my sacred Saturday morning, waking to silence and no commitments to run off to, just the quiet of early morning with my coffee.  As I sat reflecting on my week with sun flooding into the living room I heard a different but familiar sound… The sweet sound of wind chimes.

My husband had hung our wind chimes for the season.  I didn’t know he had done it… oh what a pleasant surprise!

There is surely something to be said for being grateful.  Knowing and acknowledging the simple things is a true gift.  It can change so much, just being still and listening… allowing ourselves to embrace what is good around us and not give our attention and energy to  negatives, this is gratitude.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie

 

adult children, anxiety, family, identity, life, purpose

Getting here…

I am a mother. I am a mother with anxiety. I was a child with anxiety that grew into an adult with anxiety. I have children with anxiety. I feel like when I write this it is different than when I speak it.  When I try to talk to someone about having anxiety, I feel the average person questions it. It is a label, not an understanding.

I’ve been told when I’m in an emotional state over something that it’s better to push that feeling away and stay focused… “keep working and stay busy, that feeling will go away!”  What I know is that is called suppressing your feelings, not fully acknowledging what is showing up for you and not dealing with it. With all of my heart and soul I do not agree that this is good practice, those feelings are going to turn up some how some way! Sometimes in bad habits, bad decisions and even physical pain.  I like to deal with things head on ~ when they are directly in front of me, I don’t set it aside and pretend it’s not there! Most people I know don’t have time for all of this self reflection and dealing with it… it is all business and there is no time for feelings.

Until my children reached the age that they were beginning to feel crippled from this disease themselves my husband and I helped them without professionals. I would read and learn and teach them. We would practice breathing techniques and learned to find ways to shift their negative mind.  My sons anxiety has been evident and present since he was 3 years old. My daughter’s didn’t become evident and spoken of until she was college age when she developed depression along with her anxiety.

My story now is that I feel such new struggles with mine since my children have grown.  I believe motherhood may have given me a way to hide. My social anxieties were relieved with going places as a family and my focus could be on my children, not on me.  It helped me to feel comfortable and have something to “do” or someone to always talk to.  I have felt it get worse and worse as the kids don’t need me as much, but now, with them gone off to college and my husband and I learning to be just us, it is feeling scary.  I believe it may be scary for the average person but with anxiety it feels magnified. Horrifying really.

I wonder… How will I have a conversation and not have a way “out” -The “Excuse me… I’ll be right back I need to go help my son.”  and never return.  I always had an escape from what was uncomfortable. I am feeling like I should own up to something I’ve tried to hide most of my life.  Tell people, explain myself to others. Why am I so ashamed of this?  Why is it such a big reveal? Maybe it has already presented in many of my life situations and I’m the only one not facing it? It’s been a lifetime of feeling like this… questions, shame, guilt, ridicule.  All the things I have coached my children to not fall into the trap of, all the while trying to help myself.  The answer to why I don’t own up to it… reveal it… is because I have attempted to do so to some of my closest friends and family and there often feels there isn’t much understanding. Just blank stares with words behind the glare that feel uncomfortable. Because there are no words I make up my own. I can hear their words without them even saying them.  A childhood full of being told not to be “so sensitive”, that everything’s not always about me. Not feeling supported when I needed reassurance on things I felt I had done well.  I did need a lot of reassurance, school didn’t come as easily to me as it did for my sister. I loved art, I loved being creative, I loved drawing with my grandmother.  The things I found important and valuable were often not shared by others.  I honestly do not remember doing much right.

I am strange. I am different. I have known this for a long time, even as a young child. I most often felt misunderstood, I often feel those same feelings today.  I am a work in progress, aren’t we all? I live everyday to try to understand myself better and find peace in other’s perspectives. Forgiving for hurts I felt. I often share what I have learned with others who will listen. This makes me strange.  In a world of move faster and achieve greater things than the person standing beside you, I am SO different. I am not in any form of a race with any individual to get to any type of end point. I am on a journey. I believe that each situation I am faced with and each person that crosses my path has something to give me – maybe in the form of wisdom, growth, or maybe just joy.

I work with children in a school as my profession. I love children. I love the innocence, the truth and honesty they convey. I am brought great joy through a child’s smile.  I work as a paraprofessional in a school, my colleagues are lead teachers who want kids to perform well… achieve, achieve, achieve… I want them to be, be, be.  My love for the kids shines through everyday ~ some people embrace this and others do not. I remember being a struggling child. I came from a great home, a two parent household, my parents worked at home, we were taught respect, from the outside looking in I had no reason to struggle, but I was. I know now that it was my anxiety. I can remember testing in school… I would freeze up, I knew nothing, absolutely nothing. I felt so stupid. I still often feel stupid. That little girl is still inside of me… fearful, shameful, misunderstood.  I identify with children who struggle in this way. Being a paraprofessional I feel I have a unique opportunity to connect with children and be available to help them.  I work in our town’s elementary school library, after years of being there I feel it is my calling.

I have great empathy for individuals in pain. Not just people I know, but people I see in distress, I want to be able to help people who suffer.  It is programmed inside of me and I often feel if I know someone hurts and I do not aid in making it better than I have failed. I am often left exhausted over situations that I could never have changed or helped but spend so much energy on wishing I could have.

“As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”  ~ Audrey Hepburn