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I know I’m smart. Really.

We are now officially mid-move. About one-third of our possessions are moved to the new place and certain places in the house are starting to look familiar. Between juggling the move-in to the new, move-out from the old, and the 50 million other things in my life, I’m starting to question my intelligence. I know that I have moved before — too many times!– but this time is different. 

Maybe it’s my age. Or that too much is going on. All I know from time to time is my name, where I currently live, and where the new place is. Ask me to put one of the seats back in the car so my children may ride safely, and I draw a blank. Or ask me what’s for dinner. Both will earn you a blank stare for a moment or two while I try to sort out the task.

Overload? Yeah, probably. 

I keep reminding myself that this transition will be over soon. It needs to be, because I really do have ton of work to do. Don’t ask me what, precisely (see “blank stare”), but some part of my consciousness knows.

I think I’m experiencing an I/O error. Hopefully, my brain will be back on line soon. 

 
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Posted by on 05/26/2015 in Motivation

 

Miami Reflections

This weekend, my co-author  and I spent the weekend  in Miami Beach at an accounting coference and delivered a couple of standing-room-only presentations.  I find myself with many reflections circling my mind  and thought I’d  catch them as they pass.

1. Miami  is lovely in places, but when the  low is 82 degrees, I’m just not thrilled. All that makes it bearable is the continuous breeze.

2. People here are far more into glittery  fashion than I’ve ever seen.

3. I’m out of practice  with big – city noise. So not alright anymore.

4. More money than sense in Miami.

5. Need to make a bingo card for all the odd sightings, like string bikinis on wearers that missed the idea of a weight limit.

6. Convenient  off-water boat parking. Hmm

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7. I am so not cut out for living somewhere  like this. Really not.

 
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Posted by on 05/16/2015 in Motivation

 

…And just like that — BLAM! — hope arrived

Early spring was a challenge this year. between the psychological issues, having to find a new home, revising my textbook, wrapping up the spring semester, and the gazillion other things on my plate, getting through each day sometimes seemed like an impossible chore. But like the phoenix of one of my alma maters, the fire only made me stronger and life more beautiful.

The family is doing much better and each of us has become much stronger, more balanced in our approach to the stressors that nearly derailed each of us. Like previous challenges, this recent round made us bonded more tightly to each other.

We have a new home and will move into it around the end of this month. This is a major feat because finding good, habitable rentals to accommodate a family of four is difficult in our town. We live in a lovely, historic area where many properties date back to the early 1800s. We found a cute old farmhouse in a very peaceful area with enough legroom and separate bedrooms for each girl. Those rooms may help us avoid some of the pre-teen sibling rivalry that is inevitable. We found out late Thursday, in speaking with the owner, that the house sits on 200 acres f rollings hills, forests, and waterfalls well away from the center of town where we currently live. I can hardly imagine what 200 acres looks like, but my dad gave me some perspective, based on a park near where I grew up. We hope to complete the lease execution in the next couple of days, and then it’s just a matter of time. And packing. And moving everything a whopping five miles. Ugh.

My own schooling is now completely and, as my husband puts it, I have three masters now. Technically, it’s one masters and two master’s certificates. It’s what will ensure the comfort and safety of my family’s foreseeable future, and that’s all I need. My students have finals next week, and I get to watch them squirm for a couple of hours as they realize that they didn’t study until the night before the exam, despite my strong recommendations.

Then I get to travel to Miami and present three sessions at a national conference. It sounds much cooler than it probably is. It means that I have to prepare three presentations and deliver them, much like a meeting at school. But I get to do that with one of my closest friends and see a part of the country I’ve never seen. I’m looking forward to it, although I hate leaving my beloved Vermont.

From fear and pain came hope and beauty. Amazing how things work themselves out.hope-in-hand

 
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Posted by on 05/09/2015 in Motivation

 

Thank goodness the trees are starting to show buds

It has seemed like an eternity since we had green leaves on trees where I live. Not the evergreens, but the lovely deciduous ones that turn bright colors in the fall. Today, I noticed the very first signs of little green buds and my spirit danced. I’m not sure why it meant so much this year, but my intuition tells me that it has to do with the emotional winter I’ve been enduring.

Like the trees, things are slowly getting better for my family and me. We have a couple of challenging dates to face within the next couple of weeks, which makes me a bit anxious. I read today how anxiety can be a superpower, and I can honestly say that the anxiety is what has helped me and my family to be where we are. Without my superpower, we wouldn’t be living where we do, enjoying the peace and safety of rural life, fulfilling our dreams. But every superhero has a weakness, and I now know where mine is. Thankfully, no See’s chocolate shops exist anywhere within a 90-mile radius. But they are online…

Life moves on, and soon the trees will have full leaves and I’ll be complaining (quietly, I promise) about the summer heat. We will have a new place to live, and the peace will continue. And we each will heal at our own pace. 

 

 
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Posted by on 04/27/2015 in Motivation

 

Getting better each day

Things are certainly feeling better than my last post. I’d say they couldn’t get worse, but I know better than to tempt fate. I’ve lived through too much “worse” and know better.

My younger daughter is coping well and, thanks to her counselor and psychiatrist, getting healthier progressively. She is having a sleepover here tonight with her BFF, who has many of the same issues. They’re good for each other. 

My older daughter is also healing. She has regular counseling and since the weather finally warmed up, she has been getting outside and kicks a ball around to let off steam.  Her new BFF is quiet and grounded,  which is a good complement to her personality.

My husband is back to his normal playful self. I know he’s avoiding talking with his parents, but trust that he will handle the situation in his own way and time. 

I’m getting there. Family counseling has helped, and stress levels have abated a bit. I’ve had to adjust my work-life balance a little, but that’s a good thing. We have a few houses we’re considering as our new home, so I’m optimistic that we will land in just they right place at the right time.

What surprised me during the whole situation was how much more tightly we have all bonded. I feel like a family of super heroes. But we use our powers to save each other more than anything else. It makes us stronger to face the challenges that the world throws us.

I finally know why I had to become strong and why I had to have my own anxiety and depression battles. It all prepared me to be strong for these darling children.

Between all that and the recent lovely spring weather, I couldn’t ask for more. 

 
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Posted by on 04/17/2015 in Motivation

 

When the glue fails

Sometimes it’s hard to be the glue that holds things together. Other times, it’s as easy as breathing. I’ve mastered the art of being the glue at work,  and share the responsibility with my darling husband on the home front.

But what happens when the glue is too stressed to be strong?

We just went through a very difficult time at home. The long version is too hard for me to write about. In a nutshell,   we all are suffering from moderate PTSD. My girls’ version was sparked by the horrible holiday trauma from December. Mine was triggered then, but goes deeper, and my husband’s. ..well, I’m not sure, but he handles a case of lifelong abuse well.  Kind of a normal day in paradise here.

About two weeks ago is when it all unraveled.  I received a call from the school counselor that my younger girl was actively suicidal. On top of this, we learned that we need to find a different place to live as of August, and since no decent homes are available for sale, it will need to be a rental.

My world stopped in that moment. My sweet, happy girl. How on earth could she be in that much distress?

My husband and I reached out for help, and got it. The upshot is that my younger one has a new doc to manage her meds, and the four of us are in family counseling. 

As for me, I’m dealing with traumatic memories of my own and working to keep things together through the current situation.  Some days I feel like I’m barely hanging on, and pasting a smile on my face is an accomplishment.

I keep telling myself that this will all pass, but it’s not very convincing sometimes. The four of us have bonded even more tightly over this,  which is wonderful. 

Please, God, let it be enough. My glue needs to be strong enough again. Too many people need me for me to fall apart.

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Posted by on 04/07/2015 in Motivation

 

Wait– I’m the Doctor!

I’ve been going another metaphysical growth spurt lately. Unlike my 12-year-old, for whom it seems like we are having to obtain clothing in the next size up every two months or so, this was more of a growing in to myself.

It started a week or so ago, when a trusted colleague pointed out that I have had a bad habit of interrupting other people. I wasn’t aware enough of the habit to notice that it was occurring in all facets of my life, and I found myself humbled and quite abashed. The new growth started right then, when I became introspective instead of hurt. I turned inward to seek when the behavior occurred and what triggered it. What I found was a little disheartening, but could be remedied to an extent: I found that I process what I hear a little more slowly than other people around me. Who me — an auditory processing issue? I’m smart and an excellent student, so how could that be?  So I considered many scenarios.

For example, my family and I were watching a show on television, and I commented that the presenter was talking awfully fast. They teasingly told me that they could understand the speech with no problems. Those comments brought me back a few months ago, when I met Ben Foss, an expert about dyslexia, who demonstrated a reader app available on Apple devices. He played back a section of text at varying speeds, and I noticed that I was among perhaps 10% of the audience who rated a certain dictation speed as being too fast to understand comfortably. I considered my own comments about being a lousy classroom student (which I am– I do much better with self-directed learning), especially since I’m taking a small handful of on-ground classes right now. I have a teacher right now who is very knowledgeable, but talks so fast that I feel exhausted after listening to her lecture because I feel like I’m hanging off the back of a speeding train. The same goes with colleagues in meetings when they start speaking quickly: I have to take notes to capture the salient points because I simply cannot focus on what they are saying because it’s too fast for me to process in the moment.

Alright, so I have to allow myself more time to process what I hear. What else could be causing the issue? I have a moderate anxiety issue that is prevalent enough to be diagnosed. I sometimes feel that if I don’t say what is on my mind, I will not have another opportunity to do so. I also have a gregarious family who likes to talk through their problems, sometimes talking over one another. If you layer my experiences with anxiety and a slightly slower auditory processing speed, my tendency to interrupt people makes sense.

Great. Everyone is right and I need to solve this problem, not now but right now.

I found myself with two primary choices: Chastise myself and use something like a rubber band to snap against my wrist so that the pain would cause me to avoid the behavior, or use positive affirmations to tell myself what I must become. I’ve taught classes about positive motivation, so I chose the latter route. Looking for resources, I found a phone app that sent me customized positive affirmations throughout the day, so I loaded it up with affirmations about how I want to be and set it to repeat a few times each day. I’ll keep using this affirmation set until I firmly have the behavior under control.

Alright, one problem with a working solution, so onto the next step of today’s epiphany.

One way that I have chosen to use my doctoral skills is to edit dissertations of up-and-coming doctors from my alma mater. It makes me a few extra bucks here and there, and I tend to attract clients who have all but given up on themselves because they have such difficulty expressing their ideas in writing. One of my clients is approaching the end of her doctoral journey, and asked me for a thorough, candid review of her work. At first, I was a little intimidated by her request, because I wasn’t sure if I knew enough to offer that type of feedback. (I have not been esteemed as a doctoral mentor by my alma mater, but that is only because their accreditation expressly forbids it.) In my advice to her this morning, I told her to imagine herself as being a medical doctor with a patient who has a complex problem that she has now studied and is ready to present her findings, recommendations, and specific prescription.

So here’s the epiphany: I am a doctor, just as much as one who wears a white lab coat and treats sick patients. The difference is that I’m not limited in my choice of apparel and my “patients” are not physically ill; instead, they have a complex problem and need an expert to prescribe a solution.

With that epiphany, I suddenly saw myself in a completely different light. My students all have extraordinarily complex problems and our educational system, while it has done the best it can, has only offered a short-term remedy for their symptoms. It is my job to look more deeply for the cause and determine a longer-term solution. It means that I have to us all my critical and creative skills to find solutions that don’t yet exist, and then communicate those solutions to other practitioners. It is my responsibility to listen fully and to think carefully about each student’s needs and determine the best course of action.

If that sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. It would be enough to scare me if I wasn’t so sure about myself, which includes all my talents, skills, training, and experiences. I need every bit of it — even the not-so-wonderful parts — because I can draw inspiration and compassion from everything I am to present the expert recommendations that the world needs from me.

It places my self-image in an entirely different frame, one that is completely unique but utterly necessary. And one from which I can no longer run, no longer hide, and simply cannot deny is mine. Like Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, I am the new bridge to fix, not simply band-aid, what is broken. I’m glad I’m strong!

DISCLAIMER: SUPERMAN and all related elements are the property of DC Comics. TM & © 2015

DISCLAIMER: SUPERMAN and all related elements are the property of DC Comics. TM & © 2015

 
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Posted by on 03/20/2015 in Growth, Insight

 

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