Sharing Some Beauty from DC

This is a photo from the Capital Rotunda. I think it’s very interesting.

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Sharing Some Beauty from DC

Leader or Not

Today’s post is short and sweet.  My daughter with my inspiration.  Talking with my 14 year old this morning.  I asked her one question, do you want to be a leader or a follower?  Of course she said a leader.  So my next statement was simple, stop being part of the sheep.  Let me explain.  Have you ever seen sheep during herding?  The dog is in control.  My daughter is in the ninth grade, going to the tenth, and I know that she is a leader.  She’s a great kid in a small package that has the ability to be a vocal change agent.  She doesn’t see it yet though and she spends her days in her box comparing herself to her friends.  She has the ability to be a great leader and to stand out from the crowd, but has spent the past school year being content with being a part of the background noise.  She does not let her skills or abilities shine through.

I feel that the message that we need to give our kids that we know are strong and have the qualities of being a leader that they can do it. Ask them, do you want to be a leader or follower?  Now I know that not everyone is built to be a leader.  I recognize this, but children have the ability to be cultivated into strong leaders.  They have the opportunity to be creative leaders.  I feel that teaching kids the difference between being a leader and a follower will eliminate bullies.  Leading has to be taught in a healthy manner.  I have seen and learned that kids have the ability to be strong advocates at any age.

So this morning, I took away from my conversation with my daughter that she is scared to step outside of her comfort zone, but I told her that even if she is scared, she can still take a step forward and step outside of her comfort zone.  Have that conversation, with it being Memorial Day, we need to raise a nation of leaders instead of a nation of followers.

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Atypical Parent

I am a parent.  It was not what I planned.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my children, but I envisioned being a tumble weed until the age of 30 not putting down roots and traveling and seeing the world.  Yes, traveling and seeing the world with bright, fresh eyes.  That was my vision.  I am a parent.  My children are classified as atypical, I am atypical because I parent alone.  Not by choice, but I feel it is by God’s design.  He knows those that are strong enough to love and direct young lives alone and entrusted me with my children.  As my life continues to progress and I continue to be a success in many areas, I face challenges and I face them head on.  I wish I could say parenthood is easy after a while, but sadly, it is not.  It’s stressful and once they learn to walk and talk and talk again in my son’s case, the challenges change.  Over the years, my passions have changed with their evolution.

In my 20’s, I was that mom that was content to give my kids Chef Boyardee from a can, soda by the gallon, and relax with a good book or TV show with them, but by my mid-20’s, I realized that being a kid with a kid was not going to work.  My son and daughter’s diagnosis and eventually my realization that I was very impulsive and made decisions on a whim helped me understand that it was not just me the tumble weed and I had to get it together.  I can be honest about my journey now at 34 with a 14 year old daughter who seems more like me everyday at her age.  She’s stubborn and she attempts to be independent when she really wants to be a kid.  But that is neither here nor there, I’m older now and I regret some of the mistakes of my past and have asked for forgiveness for those mistakes, but the biggest regret that I think I am learning to get over is not growing into the person that I am sooner.

I have always wanted to make a difference in the world and for a while I became complacent, I didn’t know how to make a difference, I only knew that women in the world needed a voice and didn’t know how to give it to them.  I know that I am stronger than the generation before me in many different ways and in ways that I never imagined.  As I embarked on my educational journey in 2011, I did not know what I would be or that I would be on the path that I am on now.  The atypical parent is working on becoming an occupational therapy practitioner.  I have done many different types of advocacy and the path that I have taken, the growth that I have made this past year let’s me know that this atypical parent is doing something right.

I am writing to say that no matter the challenges, financial, personal, or physical, I will continue to strive to be the person that I feel I am meant to be even if it means that I have to be that person alone.  I have learned that sometimes, you have to walk alone to understand that the needs that you have as a person pale in comparison to the needs of others.  My children’s needs are paramount to any need I have on any given day and I hope that other people in my children’s lives can get this message and finally decide to grow up.  But I know that trying to make them do something that they are not ready for is not going to do anyone any good at the end of the day.

I’m a parent.  I’m a good parent.  I fight for my kids and those like them.  I give when I have nothing left.  I’m a parent and though this is not the path that I saw myself on years ago, it’s a path that I enjoy.

Why I Volunteer

So this week I have had this conversation several times.  I made the statement that “I don’t mind volunteering, I don’t always need to be paid to feel a sense of accomplishment.”  The person I was talking to began to feel my forehead to see if I had a fever.  No I don’t mind volunteering for a worthy cause because at the end of the day, if we don’t do it, who will.  I believe that we can change the world one volunteer at a time.  I don’t think that in my present life, that I have been as blessed and fortunate as I have been because I did not give my time to others.  I think that volunteerism makes for a terrific person that they would give selflessly of their time and energy to help someone else.  I was raised to take care of others and I think that’s what I do with the countless organizations that I volunteer for.  From the Democratic party, to donations of excess items to others and to the food bank, to my work with the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life initiative, I feel that these things align with my beliefs.  The list is just a few people who I work with.  The list goes on and on.

In 2011 when my job ended, I did what every parent does, I went out and searched for a new job.  One day I realized that the excess time that I was spending doing nothing could be channeled into helping others.  I have always given of my time, but I have more so now than I ever have.  Volunteering not only helps build strong character, it also looks great on a resume.  Filling in space when you are not employed or you are underemployed makes a significant difference than having huge blanks.  Even while getting an education, volunteering or as we refer to it, “Service learning”, makes a stronger student.  It’s a win win for the community as well as for the student.  So this summer, I am not going to travel, but I’m going to volunteer where I can.  I am going to spend time showing my children the beauty of the reward of giving and expecting nothing in return.  What better gift right?

Wednesday Book Review

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I am happy to have received and reviewed the title, Simply Rejoicing: 12 Months with God, by Patsy Lewis. The book is created to be enjoyed through out an entire year, but once you pick it up you almost want to complete it in one sitting. It’s meant to bring your attention and focus to your relationship with God. Each month focuses on something different. The book is a tool that was created to not only make you focus on your relationship, but to force you to examine in detail the Trinity.

This book came at a great time when I was struggling with who I was as a person. I know what my title is and as I speed through my day, I did not stop to take one second to enjoy God’s goodness. Not taking the chance to slow down and look at the beauty of a new day, rain or shine, and take a moment to be still and learn from the teachings of God, has not occurred since I was a child in church. You forget how peaceful it is to take a moment and examine you relationship with God and to be able to sit and say out loud “I know I’m not perfect. I know I back slide, but I’m trying.” Often our worlds are so busy that we do not take time to stop and do what we need to do for our spirituality and this book makes you stop and observe and listen to the voice within yourself as you become reacquainted with your faith in a way you never imagine.

The one constant in this book is that the author is candid about her own life and journey. This me gave a moment to reflect on my own 34 years of life in a way that I have not reflected in the past. This book is a road map to not only find your way back to God, but it is a great way for individuals to explore and to find their own Holy Spirit and to open up and receive the message that God has provided for them through Mrs. Lewis’ writing.

This is my first book review and I will be reviewing books for my blog this summer, but this book was the perfect book for me to read and explore and think about. What I also enjoy about this book is the scripture journey that you are taken on. As a person that was raised in the church, there are scriptures that I have forgotten about and have enjoyed rediscovering in this Simply Rejoicing. The break down of each section leaves you to do the easy work. The interactive portion of this book begins with the reflection, followed by the scriptures you will be reading for the month, then the scripture you need to memorize, suggestions for the reader, and then a section for reflection insights. This book is not only a journey to rediscovering your spirituality, but it is also a book where you can write down your thoughts and prayers.

In closing, Simply Rejoicing reminds me of so many things that I had forgotten about myself. This year has been about self discovery for me and doing the work on finding out what makes me happy, but also doing the work to figure out what makes me spiritually whole is part of that work and this book has been insightful.

It’s Wedding Season…..

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And I have no desire to attend a wedding or get married.  Having a general conversation with people you find out so much about yourself. I discovered something this previous week, what I’m saying is probably shocking you, that I have no desire to get married again. Yes, I said it. I have no dreams of wearing a big puffy off white dress, walking down the aisle to some ridiculous song, saying ‘I do’ in front of people I may not like and feeding them. I don’t even have an honest desire to go to weddings this summer. Will I send gifts, of course, it would be rude not to. Yep, no desire on this side of the fence. So is that saying that there is something wrong with me? Absolutely not. This is my reasoning. In life, I have known far too many women that have rushed into marriage, myself included, for the fear of ending up alone, only to end up divorced a few years later and ending up the way they started, alone. There is nothing wrong with dating, having a relationship, a boo, a love thing, there is nothing wrong with that, but I am at the opinion that I do not want to tell my daughters that their highest aspirations should be education, marriage, and children. I think that as a society, too much emphasis is put on marriage instead of thinking about the reality of what we are teaching our girls. That you should only wish to be a scholar for a little bit, but a wife and mother forever. Now I’m not saying that people that have the marriage gene, the parenthood, stay at home mom gene, are wrong. Not in the least. To each it’s own. What I am saying is that I want my girls and my boy to dream big and to travel and see the world and experience life before they settle down.

I got married at the age of eighteen. There are no classes that tell you how to be a wife. You mimic what you see in your parents. So if there is dysfunction in their relationship, guess what, you will end up with dysfunction in your relationship, especially at such a young age when you don’t even know who you are. I was married for eight years and we only lived together for one. Do the math…. any who…. as I have grown older and somewhat wiser, I know now that I was far too young to get married. I was far too young to be a parent at the age of nineteen, but she’s fourteen now and she’s no worse for the wear. What I will say is that it is different at 34 than it is at 18, you look back and you say what the heck was I thinking. But this is what I know.

As people, females especially, we do not put time into getting to know ourselves as an individual. It starts early in middle school when some of us feel the need to be paired to someone else. Then in high school, you feel the need to spend your waking time with another person instead of discovering the things that we know and love about ourselves. We are not whole until we establish what it is that makes us happy. Last year, I went through a period where I became co-dependent on someone else to make me happy. The problem came when I was anxious all the time worried about insulting or injuring his feelings, while not worrying about my own. In the end, I ended up heartbroken, my children ended up disappointed, and I had to deal with the fall out. The end result though was what I think God intended to happen. He wanted me to know that I need to work on me and put more focus on what is important. For me right now, it’s my five-year plan, which includes getting myself through college.

I am firm believer that experiences in life shape us into the people that we are going to be, but I am also a believer that we can choose if we want to be alone or not. So as far as my comment above, right now, I have no desire to walk down an aisle, there are far too many pieces in my puzzle at this moment to even consider being in a relationship. My children have that desire for me. The one thing that I repeat to them is that, when we look to choose a mate for ourselves, we may not choose the mate that God has created for us. It’s best to stand back, sit still, and be patient and wait because when we search, we are not in our season. I know this is a difficult concept for some people, but waiting never hurt anyone and I’m not the first woman to feel this way and I sure won’t be the last. I know that most people these days are afraid of leaving the world alone and unattached; the one thread that runs through my head is that we entered this world alone. We were not born with a spouse attached to our hips; we were born to be individuals. I wish I knew at 18 what I know now, that I need to spend time with myself to know what I really want in a mate.

I wish the conversation would change a little in society as a whole. I wish that women like me would not be stigmatized and treated as if we are sad because we are alone. Trust me, as long as I have books and children I am never alone. I want my daughters to know, and read this later in life, that it’s okay to be single. It’s okay to not settle down as soon as you have degree in hand. It’s okay to not worry about who you are dating. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with traveling and seeing the world and for sure nothing wrong with curling up with a good book and a glass of wine on a Friday night.

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Finals Week Oh My!

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I have learned more than ever this semester that in order to be a great practitioner, you have to be compassionate and up for anything.  I am an OTA student.  I am the parent of two children on the Autism Spectrum.  I am a blogger.  I am a change agent.  I am an advocate.  To be a great practitioner, I have to be compassionate, understanding, and pay attention to details.  OTA school has taught me a great deal about myself and my learning style.  It has taught me that though I am good at working in teams, I have to take a step back and let others lead.  I have learned that I need to realize that everyone doesn’t think like me and to them the glass is not just a glass with water in it, it’s either half empty or half full.  I have learned that in order to be a great practitioner, I have to accept constructive criticism and make changes when necessary and always listen.

This week was finals week.  I started out this week with a blog that went silent on Friday due to a technical glitch that took me forever to figure out why my post were being erased before I even got them uploaded.  Then Monday, problem fixed, but still there was work to do on assignments and study for test and get prepped for finals, MMT, ROM, these were terms that swam through my head.  Even having a nightmare that I was trapped in a hurricane and refused to leave a collapsing building because my MMT was not done.  Yeah, that intense.  Becoming anything that you are not used to is an intense and emotional journey.  It’s about growth as  a person, as a student, and most of all, it’s about riding the waves of emotions, the peaks and valleys as they come and doing it with style and grace.  I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I look many days like the second owl up there, but I still manage to walk back through the door ready for the next challenge.  To be great at anything, you have to be prepared for what you are going to learn along the way.

So I say to any college student no matter what age, I am completing my first year in OTA school.  If I can do it with all of the challenges I face, you can do it too!  (It also doesn’t hurt to have great theme music.)