Changing Course Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

I look around at all of the things that I can do. My skills (writing, crafting, anything in the realm of “artistic” except photography. I’m terrible at photography.) are seemingly unmarketable in an industry that has so many other people who are just as skilled or better in these areas. In fact, I would argue that the difference is their ability to market and network themselves. As much as I try to learn, I just have not mastered that skill yet. It’s easy to just give up, but I’m not really one for quitting.

Instead, now there is a struggle of finding an actual better paying job that gives me the freedom to continue to create rather than just spend all of my time working and not get the time to spend with my family or my art. I think that I have found the path I need to be on, I just need an extra push to get me there. Changing course with a potential job that is actually pretty exciting for me, that doesn’t mean I am giving up. Sometimes you just need to change your course for a while so that you can achieve your dreams. That’s okay.

There are goals that I have. I intend to expand this site for other endeavors, such as branching out into individual blogs/articles (such as a gaming/geek culture link for my local area) and adding an e-commerce site to sell those little crafty things that I make without bothering with other sites taking a cut. I will continue to work on my books, including the 2 I am currently working on. Eventually, I will go back to school to get my MA in Creative Writing. From there, what will I do? There is no real end game. I just want options. I want to stay at a job because I like it, not because I have to. These are my goals and those who know me know one thing: I am annoyingly stubborn. What I lack in entrepreneurial spirit, I make up for in grit.

The lesson here is quite simple: you can change the course that you are currently on a bit to achieve whatever goals that you may have. If something isn’t working out for you, try a new way of doing it. As long as you end up where you wanted to be from the start, you have succeeded. Some people are lucky enough to have this right away. Others may wait a lifetime. However, giving up is never the option.

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To Everyone, Thank You

There was an outpouring of support from my last post, which meant a lot to me. The fact that I even touched 1 person with my story fills me with tremendous joy. I cannot even adequately express what that means to me. Thank you all for your support and your input.

One of the biggest struggles of a writer is sharing. Are you sharing too much of yourself? Are you not sharing enough? There is a careful balance that needs to happen between being cold and being too open. There is a certain level of mystery that is necessary in pretty much every aspect of your life, especially as a writer.

To a lesser extent, there is some care to not upset readers. Getting so personal, especially on a topic like suicide, could attract a lot of attention that is both negative and positive. Fortunately in this case, there was an overwhelming amount of support. I am strong enough to know that this won’t always be the case. But on Tuesday it was and it gave me a bit more confidence that my words can mean something. And that is a powerful feeling.

With all these projects and potential changes coming up, this is confidence I admittedly could absolutely use right now. Thank you for reading.

Depression, Suicide, and You

Another celebrity had killed themselves, causing everyone to debate about suicide. Some went off about the selfishness of his act while others point out that this is evidence that the mental health system in America needs to be better. Some discuss this in anger, “He’s rich and famous, what did he have to be depressed about.” Others fight back: “Money doesn’t solve everything and make you happy.” Then there is the “What about the kids?” I won’t engage in these arguments because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Another person lost their battle with depression and made a deliberate choice to end their life. Depression doesn’t care if you’re rich and famous or poor or a parent.

Mental illness is such a difficult battle that people struggle with. Even the most put together person you know may struggle with this in silence. Your best friend could be struggling with it in silence. The problem is that they struggle in silence. Even today with all of the PSAs and media dedicated to helping people, there is still such a stigma about struggling with any mental illness, whether it’s an anxiety disorder or depression. People who struggle with these things are led to believe that this somehow makes them weak. You’re not weak. In fact, I would argue that every day that you survive with these struggles actually makes you stronger than most. This does not mean that I view suicide as a weakness. I think it’s an end result of a battle that just could not be won.

I have witnessed the effects of suicide twice in my life. I have grappled with my feelings on it, personally feeling the ripples these types of events cause. When I was in high school, my cousin committed suicide. I remember how that event shook me. He had stopped by before it happened under circumstances that later should have occurred didn’t make sense. He used to pick up the soda cans and turn them in for some extra cash. He asked if we had any when I answered the door. I yelled down to my brother, asking if there were any. No. There were none. I wanted to get back to my art project I was working on and I was a dumb teenage girl. He stayed for a moment talking to me, hugged me, and left. Sometimes I remember this moment and he said he loved me. Other times I just remember that unique smile and wave as he left. I stood there waving goodbye. Sometime I think this death broke me. I never cried at a funeral since that one. There, I sobbed uncontrollably. My older brother put his arm around me when I did, trying to console me. There was no consolation. Years later, this is all so fresh in my head. He was an innocent. He was a kind soul and the world is worse off without him in it. He was arguably one of the nicest and coolest people I had ever known. Years later, I stood by as my husband’s family had to handle this same struggle.

You would think that I would believe there’s a heaven where they would be watching down on us. I was raised in CCD classes, in a religion that used to insist that this was a sin. If there were a heaven, sinners would not be in it. Though if there were a God, these two incredible people would still be with us. They should be with us. Our lives are significantly richer life knowing these two men.

I struggled with writing this, I admit. Are these things that I should talk about? What will people think? Do they think I am glorifying suicide? The reality is that my concern about writing this is really the problem. We should talk about it. Raising awareness for an illness like depression is just as important as it is for any other disease. It would be disingenuous to not talk about it, especially when it is something that admittedly haunts me. Simply telling a person who is depressed to get over it or it will get better is a meaningless attempt to fix someone. Spoiler alert: you can’t fix a person with anxiety or depression or any other mental illness. All of the medication and psych visits in the world can’t fix them. You can merely support them, accept them, and do whatever you can to make them feel loved and needed. Be there when they are sad as much as when they are happy. Make sure that they know you are here for them. Do everything in your power, even try to get help for them. However, just remember: Even then, it may not be enough. It is not your fault. Sometimes they just suffer in silence and it just happens. It is not your fault.

The Importance and Trials of Being Patient

When you are a parent, you want to make sure that you are constantly doing the right thing for your child. You really do agonize if every decision you make is the right one. Parenting is not a part-time job and it certainly isn’t for the weak. You are going to make bad decisions and that’s okay because you are also going to make some pretty amazing ones. You can read all of the parenting books and child development/psych books all you want and it still won’t prepare you for what you could potentially face. Even the most trained professionals in the field can screw up their children and the sooner you realize this, you can move on and just do what you need to.

I have made it no secret that my youngest son has certainly come with his own set of challenges. From a minor birth defect that needed surgery to dealing with Early Intervention/IEPs in preschool, it has been seemingly one challenge after another. He has spent a lot of time in evaluations and ended up with a blanket diagnosis of having a sensory integration disorder. While there has been some debate whether or not that is something he actually has, it is something that he will grow out of. We just need to be patient.

He has always had his own quirks. Things need to be a specific way. There needs to be a routine. He needs to know exactly what is going to happen every day and any variation in that could potentially lead to a meltdown. This is something we have grown accustomed to. We love him and if he needs a routine, he gets a routine.

Recently, my husband and I have slowly started to upgrade our home to a “smart home” to try helping with the bills and making our life a little easier. (Especially for me, who has to climb on the couch to turn the light in the living room on.) The problem is, this is a change. My husband was replacing a light fixture in the hallway, and our son lost it. “Our house is falling” is all he would scream as he sobbed and did his run/pace/freakout mode. 2 days later, we are still in “disaster control” mode to remedy this problem. We just need to be patient with him.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to us that this happened. When we were picking out flooring samples, he also freaked out. He freaked out when I made a joke about winning the lottery and buying a massive house so I can have a dog sanctuary. “Our floor is falling!” “You can’t sell our house!” He does not like change. He does not like surprises. We just need to be patient.

Yelling at a kid when they are like this will only make matters worse. It can seem like the reasonable thing to do, especially if you are in public and everyone is staring while they do it. In these most difficult times, you need to be patient. You won’t always be patient and you know what? That’s OK. You are human. After you lose it, you pick yourself up and can be patient. Patience: it won’t fix everything but it certainly won’t make anything worse.

How My Son Got Into Preschool: The Interesting Journey through Early Intervention to Preschool

This is a continuation of sorts to my previous post, to which I will summarize for those who didn’t catch it. I was anxiously awaiting the decision of my son’s fate being able to continue services through our local preschool’s special needs program. My son started into this journey because he barely spoke one or two words by the time he turned 1. After nearly a year of Early Intervention services, he has come so far though he is still much behind other kids his age or even a bit younger. I see kids younger than him that have an easier time expressing themselves and communicating, and I feel guilty that I have somehow failed my toddler. It isn’t true though; I didn’t fail him. He only missed 3  weekly sessions between both specialists in the past year, due to illness. I sat by diligently observing the sessions to see how I could help him, and listened to every piece of advice I was given to help. At age 3, he would be able to receive these services no longer and our only hope to continue these types of services was through the local preschool.

The meeting went pretty much as I had predicted, which I will get into. The evaluators were the school psychologist and the speech pathologist. The psychologist started speaking quite frankly to us. “I witnessed some worrisome behaviors”. “He has incredible attention and focus issues and is really unable to sit still for any amount of time”. “He is quite brilliant”. I was all over the place with what was going to happen. Not that I didn’t understand what she was saying; I understood everything she was saying. But it was all mixed signals. I felt I knew where this was going though. The speech pathologist also remarked how intelligent he was, but noted that she did not feel he had a speech delay. (This point was argued by my son’s actual speech pathologist, stating that not giving him specialize services could be detrimental to his progress, as she feels he may be diagnosed with apraxia, which can’t be diagnosed until 3.)When that happened, my heart dropped. This experience could have been good for him. It could have helped him.

Finally, after the evaluators stopped talking, the head of the special needs program spoke and mentioned it was decision time. She informed us that she had a checklist she needed to go through to see if he qualified. She asked the speech pathologist if there was a speech delay, she said “no, not significant enough”. I remembered thinking it was easy for her to say after only spending 20 minutes with him. The special needs lead said “cognition and social delay”. The psychologist said “absolutely yes, to a point of hindering his speech and possibly his future education”. After a the rest of the list was “no”, I had started to give up hope that this was going to happen. The lead circled another item or two on the list, and looked up saying “your son qualifies for services, so we’re going to draw up the IEP”. The moral of this story? As I had predicted, he would not get in on his speech. Also as I predicted, he got in based on his overly energetic, mischievous, curious and often troublemaker behaviors. (It was later joked by my husband that they took so much pity on me for having to spend so much time alone with him that they figured they would give me a break.) Their reasoning? He would learn structure and be able to learn how to control his often wild inhibitions and channel that energy into focusing on his learning, which they feel would help him be significantly more intelligent than he already is. If they can get him to settle down, focus, and start paying attention, it will improve his speech, and earn them a medal in my book if they can accomplish that enormous feat.

They started to write his IEP. “He is not to be left unsupervised at all; he will escape and do what he wants”. Fact: they are right. “May need breaks from the classroom to release some of his overabundance of energy”. Also fact, though it’s been my experience that he has a never-ending flow of energy. My kid will be the one having his hand held in the line because he won’t walk in it, and my mother and speech pathologist have correctly identified that it is better this way as he would probably lead a group of rogue toddlers away from the group and go to the playground by themselves. I will not complain. All that matters to me is that he got into preschool, with a guaranteed and free slot through the special needs program. He will get a positive start in his education that I would never have been able to afford. The speech pathologist said that they will quickly learn my son’s difficulties with speech and change his IEP to include services. There is no negative here. The system worked, and I couldn’t be happier.

 

Failing Our Children

As a parent, you’re supposed to love your children. Loving them isn’t special or noteworthy; it’s human. Not loving your child just makes you something else. Loving your child does not make you a good parent; all that other stuff does. The times that you really want to sleep but stay awake with your vomiting toddler and comforting them. The times when you think you’re dying of a cold but take as much medicine as you need to suck it up because your children don’t take a time out just because you need to. Parenting is really about every fight that you do to better your child’s life in even the slightest way. Those fights and struggles are what makes a good parent.

From the moment my youngest was born, I knew I was going to have to fight harder than ever. From the beginning, he had issues that we knew that would require some amount of strength, though thankfully nothing too serious. We knew he had a minor birth defect that would need repair. We visited the specialist every few months until his surgery and spent the longest day of our lives waiting to bring him home. We had hoped that we could just be after that.

As far as his motor skills were concerned, he was always advanced and impressed his doctors. From the beginning, it was clear that he was his own person and to hell with everyone else. It wasn’t until his first birthday that I had any concerns about him, aside from having surgery at 9 months old. The minute you find out your child has any sort of developmental delay, you wonder what you could have done to prevent it. You try everything in your power to fix it, because as a parent, you want to fix everything to help your child. We tried everything: we read more, we got programs for tablets and computers, I started to go about my day as if I were a sports announcing describing even the most mundane activity aloud to help him. Six months later, nothing had worked and we left the doctor’s office deflated. She referred us to Early Intervention. Soon after, we did the evaluations and we started with a developmental specialist. Nothing. He learned how to sign, which was great to at least help us communicate a little. After a few months, she decided to add-on a speech pathologist to his developmental team. After a few weeks, there seemed to be limited improvement. We had a neuropsych evaluation to see if he was autistic, nothing. Finally, he started picking up language little by little and I firmly believe that these interventions are the difference.

We did all our “homework”. I sit through 2 sessions a week, watching on as they help my son. At age 3, he will age out of this program that has helped him so immensely. The specialists agree he’s not where he needs to be, but at 3, there is nothing more they can do for us. So we started the steps to get into the “transitioning” program. This helps EI (Early Intervention) kids move into preschool to continue services. They will get an IEP, and get free preschool. This would be huge for George, as there is a fear from everyone that he could regress without continued services. Our Early Intervention team has no say in what happens now. We did the evaluations at the school, we did the meetings, and the day has come for their decision. Getting into this school system’s particular program is notoriously difficult, and everyone has been very upfront about that. All I can do is hope.

This leads to a bigger issue with the education system that I had written about in my last Education class in college. It was a class about special needs. Our final paper was about teaching special needs, and we had to pick a topic from a list of papers. I was the last one to get the list, and I had discovered that there was one particular group that no one was doing a paper on: the gifted and talented kids. This group of children are especially ignored, because people think that they are smart so they don’t need help. Realistically, these children need an IEP just as much as any other kid with special needs. Since they don’t, they are often set up for failure. That is the fault of our schools, not truly “leaving no child behind”. My son, who is too young to be labeled as such, as shown skills and thought processes far beyond his age and his specialists note that. I fear that this will hurt his chances of getting the help he needs. I fear that him not getting in this program will set him up for failure in the future. My biggest fear, is that he will regress back to what his language was before he received help, and he will be disregarded when he starts school because they don’t realize his true potential because of a lack of speech.

I will go into this meeting with my head high, and fight as  much as I can. I’m tired though. I’m tired of fighting. But he needs this, and I need to fight for him because I know no one else will. That is what makes a good parent: the fight.

Transitions

I have contemplated whether I wanted to weigh in on this big topic of Caitlyn Jenner and her big reveal. After much thought, I decided that I wanted to share my potentially controversial thoughts on this topic. Before you are quick to hate me based on this introduction, I suggest a careful reading of my actual thoughts.

I truly applaud her for taking this journey. Struggling with such an unimaginable feeling of not feeling like yourself in your own skin is bad enough;  doing it in front of the whole world for this judgment is 1000x worse. People are blaming him for being part of a trend that is ruining America, helping break down the moral fiber of a great country and being a part of some fallacy set to further an agenda. Obviously a person is born as they were intended by God, and God makes no mistakes… right?

The true ruin of the moral fiber of America is this spread of hate and nonacceptance of people for who they truly are. Beliefs are no excuse for hate. The KKK is a group that believed they were being great Christians and promoting how white people are superior and everyone else should be enslaved or killed. Does that make them not hateful people because they use religion as a defense for their ignorance? People are born gay, not turned that way because they saw a gay couple kiss and somehow caught a disease that makes them gay and needs to be cured of it. Sometimes God does make mistakes, and modern science can help fix them, like putting people in the wrong body that doesn’t match who they are. People should do whatever it takes in order to feel better about themselves. A transgendered person transitioning into the person they feel the need to be should be encouraged to do what they feel they need to. Who are we to judge? Their decisions do not affect my life, why should it affect yours?

My problem isn’t in what she did. I think it requires a great amount of bravery to come forward, especially in the hateful world we are unfortunately living in. My issue is in the how. Everyone knew what was going on, yet she chose to sell it to the highest bidder. She discussed about how she wasn’t going to publicly identify as a woman yet in said interview. Great, she should move at her own pace. Except a couple months later, she then sells her new look and big reveal to the highest bidder. Do I have a problem with someone doing something publicly flaunting this? No. Anything to raise awareness for such an important topic is a positive. Should she be laughing to the bank, adding to her millions for it? That I take issue with. If you are going to thrust yourself out there and make yourself the face of a cause, you should step up and be more than just a glorified spokesperson and do something to help the cause.

I would have less of an issue if that money, even part of it was put into or started a fund to help the transgendered youth that are disowned and tossed out on the streets because they aren’t as fortunate to have a loving and supportive family by giving them a safe place to live. If the money was used for a fund for people who can’t afford to have such a life altering ability to transition, to have the luxury to do so. Instead, it was used to make a rich person richer.

If one of my sons felt they wanted to wear nail polish or a “girlie” outfit to school, would I consider it? Why not? If it’s just a phase, then what’s the harm. If it’s more than that and it’s truly who they are, then they’ll know that I love and support them no matter what. Because I choose to teach my children acceptance and love and not hate.