“I HAVE to love you, but I don’t HAVE to like you.”

I teach little people every day. Seven and eight year olds, to be precise. This year, I have one friend who can be particularly challenging. He is a boy on the spectrum, not in control of his emotions and easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli and frustrations.

He feels best right next to me. Getting one on one attention. Holding my hand. Hugging me. Being up in my bubble. Each day, I do these things for him because he is also a child of poverty and neglect and it is my job to love and take care of him while I have him.

The other day, we were walking together. He had been having a rough day, and his signal is yelling, “I hate (whatever is bothering him).” Often, it is me, or a friend, or school, or his mother. My response is typical–“I’m so sorry you are feeling that way right now.”

After having numerous breakdowns that day, he held my hand and calmed down as I led him on a walk. He squeezed my hand hard and asked me, “Do you like me or do you hate me?”

I looked this sweet boy in the eyes. He held my gaze for a second, and looked elsewhere, uncomfortable with direct eye contact, as I said to him, “I don’t hate you at all. I love you.” He took a deep breath and relaxed, ready to go back into the classroom. Continue reading

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A Season of Mindfulness and Meditation

I have not been a religious person over the last ten years, nor did I have a very religious upbringing. I fell into a crowd of religious teens during my teenage years, but swiftly denounced much of that after witnessing what I felt was a lot of hypocrisy and hate. Plus, I went to college, and became “too smart for that.”

I’m learning my journey back to religion isn’t very unique. No…many, many people follow a similar path and, when they find that they can no longer walk the hard journey of life alone, they seek something more.

That is what I did. About 6 months ago, in the midst of yet more struggles, I decided I needed to try giving some of my pain–my hardship–to someone bigger than myself. Someone who could, I hoped, give me some comfort. Continue reading

My perfectionism is trying to kill me…

…okay, from my title, we all know I tend to exaggerate.

But seriously. what-do-you-4d6bpu

School started again a little less than two weeks ago. I am entering my final year of my teacher prep program, and this semester means that I am required to be in class 4 nights a week until 9 pm. It is a full load of classes with a cohort group, and each class is compressed into a week to two weeks. So, it is a lot of deadlines, full days, and stress. Continue reading

The thing about anxiety…

The thing about my anxiety, and maybe ALL anxiety, is that it can always come back.

I have been feeling amazing over the last few months–feeling NORMAL (whatever the hell that means). This last week though, for whatever reason, I have suddenly found myself feeling random bouts of panic and anxiety. Continue reading

Getting healthy amidst the dysfunction

Every day, I feel my mind and my heart getting stronger. Every day, I realize that I am on a path to finding “me” and, finally, I have begun to enjoy this journey.

One thing I did not consider, however, is the way my relationships would change because  I have begun this journey. During therapy, my own family dysfunction has glared at me, and I have learned how to stare it down…and, believe it or not, I feel like I am winning.

Continue reading

Mothering after a painful childhood

No matter who you are, parenting is simultaneously magical and wonderful and terrifying and worrying. As a mother of two, the minute my first baby, a girl, was laid on my chest after delivery, I was immediately enraptured by this perfect and beautiful little thing that grew.

10400090_58663716925_6279003_nI was confident, despite being in my early 20s. I had done my homework and I had many idealized visions of what parenting and motherhood would look like.  Continue reading