The Children That Changed Me—Remembering Them

I started, The Children That Changed Me series, five and a half years ago. I thought I might take this week to repost this series. I have gained hundreds more readers to my blog in that same time period that might find these stories interesting. For the last day of this series I will talk about what has been happening to me recently…..because, as we all know, life stays interesting and we should always keep learning.

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THE CHILDREN THAT CHANGED ME–PART ONE

As a mom, of course my own children have changed me. I am definitely a different person because they are here. I love my kids all the time, and most of the time I like them too…especially  now, during the teen years, but that is a story for another day. This particular blog really isn’t about my own kiddos though. In this blog I’m talking about my other kids. The kids that I’ve spent 20+ years with. The kids that have challenged me…and changed me. I choose to dedicate this blog to all the kids out there that are fighting against the odds with both grace and goofiness, spirit and hope, determination and grit….and above all love. You see, I’m a special education teacher/consultant/advocate—whatever you want to call me…. and these are the stories about my kids.    

“Aunt Mabel looks different”. My mom’s sister was born in the 1930’s, well before special education law went into effect. A child that was born at home, after a long delivery on my grandmother’s part.  A child that, due to reasons I’m really not sure about, was born intellectually disabled. I understand that the doctor told my grandmother to just put her in an institution. She wouldn’t amount to anything. My grandmother refused and my Aunt Mabel went on to live a happy life. A simple life by a lot of people’s standards…but, it suited her fine. She brought a lot of joy to her family in her own way, and when she passed away a few years ago, in her 70’s, a hole was left in the hearts of those who loved her. Although my aunt wasn’t my student, she was my first understanding of “special education” and I learned a lot from her.

At the beginning of my senior year of high school I had almost enough credits to graduate. I was able to take a couple classes in the morning and by ten o’clock I was on my way to the elementary school next door to complete my independent study at their special education preschool. It was a good year. That was the year I met Joey. Joey was non-verbal, in a wheelchair, and he had seizures. He was the ripe old age of five, but he was full of personality. Those who think that you have to talk to communicate have never met this little guy. He laughed and smiled…and it was contagious. Joey taught me a lot about laughter that year. He also taught me about having a servant’s heart. He depended on me to move him from his chair to the floor–and to do that gently. He taught me how to deal with pain. Joey had a major seizure one day, unfortunately he bit his tongue–hard. I know it hurt, and I was helpless to do anything. His jaws were locked down and there was not much to do until the seizure was over. I learned to put myself in his place, and think about how I would want to be treated…even if I didn’t have the words.

That same year I met Carrie. A precocious two and a half year old. Grand-daughter to my former 3rd grade teacher. Carrie was a petite powerhouse, with almost white,blond hair and a million dollar smile. She could have you wrapped around her little finger in no time flat. She was talented that way. Carrie also had brain trauma and limpness on one side of her body….from being in a car accident as a infant. She had been born perfectly “normal”. Everything worked. Everything was good….until that fateful day that changed her young life. Carrie taught me that, but by the grace of God, I could have had the same thing happen to me.  Traumatic brain injury could happen to any of us. It only takes one bad accident to change everything. Every time I saw Carrie, I didn’t feel sorry for her, because she didn’t feel sorry herself. She kept smiling and learned to figure out how to do things on her own–even if it was difficult. A lesson for all of us.

In my first two years as a “professional”, I met Luke, Malisha, Shonda, Jeffrey and Todd. Brent, Michael, Daniel and Travis among others. We all lived in a small town in the mountains of East Tennessee…..and we were going to the Olympics! It was an exciting time. The day of the trip was cool and overcast. We just prayed that it didn’t rain! The troop was ready to go. We were bringing “the heat” to this little get together! I couldn’t have been more proud. Each of the students participated. Even if they didn’t place, they put their entire heart into it….and they were brave in the attempt. So many times, those of us that are able bodied, think to ourselves, ” I can’t do this or that”. I think we probably miss a lot of opportunities because we are too scared to just do it. The courage and tenacity of my students was what made my students special….not their mental or physical disabilities. My kids taught me to press on, past the obstacles. Go, go, go and don’t look back. Keep running. You can’t win the race if you don’t try.

Tomorrow I will be continuing my story from the year 1992….come join me for some more lessons from the heart.

Kindness Matters

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I am an avid people watcher. The grocery store is a prime spot for the observant among us. That is where I found myself, on this gray and drizzly Friday morning in July. There are some days when I am in a rush to get what I need, grab it and go…but, today wasn’t one of those days. Today I took time to leisurely stroll up and down the aisles. In between buying the coffee and fresh produce, I noticed the people around me. The truth is, how often do we run through life, not slowing down, rushing on to the next necessary thing on our to do list? I’m often guilty….but, not today.

Sometimes I find myself wondering about people. Does the lady buying the cereal have someone at home waiting for her? Does she have plans? Is the elderly couple, getting the milk, someone’s parents? Are they in love or feeling alone? Is the young mom, with her three children in tow, filled with joy or is she trying to shove the memories away and forget? We just never really know, do we? What people are going through, I mean…….

I try to remember that.

Kindness is never a wrong choice.

Today just might be the day when someone whose path crosses yours, needs to be shown kindness the most.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31 

Hard Core Bibliophile

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I received my Country Living magazine in the mail today. I glanced at it, but will have to set aside some time to really read through it. I love my country/decorating magazines. They, along with Pinterest and Houzz, fuel my flea market, antiquing, farm house decorating mania. Also, on the kitchen table lays my summertime read, If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name, by Heather Lende. I decided back in the beginning of summer that I would also start Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon series. That is if I get through with reading Izabella Wentz’s book The Root Cause, which is helping me to understand my autoimmune thyroid disease and how to fight for my health. Truth be told, if I took the time to read all the books I already have (that haven’t been read yet), I’d never have to buy or borrow another book again! Okay, well, at least for several years. I kid you not. I have full bookshelves in just about every room of the house, and lots more reading material stacked around. Yes, I am a full fledged, hard core, bibliophile.

Honestly, I don’t understand people that don’t like to read. I know these people exist, as my husband is one of those people. He is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people that I know, but books are not really his thing. His ADD doesn’t allow him to stay focused long enough to finish….so he is more of a skim and scan reader, along with being a techno-computer geek. I, on the other hand, have literally found myself so immersed in books that I don’t want them to end. I’m sad when I get to the end of a really good book. My (not so secret) desire is to write a book some day. I don’t know if I ever will, but it is a bucket wish type of thing.

The fact that I love to read is probably why I subscribe to so many blogs. About ten years ago I jumped into the blogging world….writing my own…and reading everyone else’s! I have met people from all over the world through blogging. How cool is that? And everything is so interesting! There is a blog to read on just about any subject imaginable.

When going through life, I am the one that is constantly saying, “I read that somewhere”, or “there is a really good piece written on that subject”, and finally, “I need to finish that book before I start this other one”.

To all my fellow bibliophiles, I know you get me, and if you aren’t a die hard reader that is okay…..I love you anyway.

All Of My Days

Time has a way of sneaking up on a person. Do you, too, feel the sands of time slipping through your fingers?  The other day a friend mentioned that she could not believe how in a few short years she will be celebrating her fiftieth birthday. I can relate. I have young adult children—young ADULT, for cryin’ out loud! Next month my son will be going back to college for his sophomore year. I was starting my sophomore year of college in 1987. Weren’t the ’80’s, just the other day? Sigh…….I’m feeling a little old today.

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The months slip by and the seasons come and go. Today, on my way back from the mailbox, I looked up at the gray sky, felt the unseasonably cool temperatures, and realized just a mere three months from today we will be smack dab in the middle of Fall! You know, brightly colored leaves, pumpkin flavored everything, and football games. From there, it is a short and fast trip to Christmas. Then the year is over.

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Holding on to the moments, by letting go of time……..appreciating the memories and not worrying about the future. Resting in the One who already knows all of my days.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

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Sick And Tired Of Feeling Sick And Tired

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Can I be honest with you? I’m feeling kind of sorry for myself. Yes, I admit it. I’m having a “why me” pity party today. Maybe I’ll feel better if I tell my story. It has been a long time coming…….

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, also known as, autoimmune thyroid disease and chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, decades ago….as a young teenager. The doctor put me on meds and told me I’d be taking them for the rest of my life, because my body was pretty much destroying my thyroid. (my paraphrase, but that was the gist) At fourteen, what did I know about the thyroid or what it did?  I can honestly say, not much. I was obedient and took my medicine every day, but was completely clueless about all the other symptoms I suffered from, and all the ways the thyroid hormone (or lack thereof) can effect a person.

Over the years, I suffered from heat intolerance (when I get too hot, I truly get physically sick), bouts of hypoglycemia, weight issues (even with proper diet and exercise), dry skin, dry eyes (I had to quit wearing contacts), bloating, body aches (especially my shoulders and neck), fatigue, food intolerances (that I discovered later in life because I was just so used to feeling lousy that it was my “normal”), low progesterone, gut issues, and gluten sensitivity.

There are much worse things in life than having an autoimmune disease, this is true…..but, having health issues that no one can actually see can sometimes be disheartening. Being the one that can’t eat this or that is hard when friends and family want to go out to a restaurant. I love the more laid back schedules of summer, but literally can’t deal with the heat and humidity, going to the pool does nothing for me. I live most of my days with not enough sleep, because I have stuff to do, so feeling tired is a common thing.

About five years ago, at age 41, I suddenly had cramps in my stomach so bad, that I can only describe it as similar to labor contractions. You ladies that have had children, you know what i mean. I was doubled over. My husband wanted to take me to the emergency room. I wouldn’t let him. I was miserable for a couple of days…..and stubborn…..and probably a bit stupid for not going. I figured out that it was milk that was doing me in. I had drank milk my whole life. I loved it, but got to a point where it no longer loved me. I quit drinking my beloved milk. A few months later I wasn’t thinking and had a custard dessert that didn’t have milk, but heavy cream. Bam. Back to being doubled over. Then came the ice cream. It didn’t cramp me up, but did give me stomach aches. Blast! I cried over the ice cream. Seriously, people. Dairy was no longer my friend, we had become arch enemies.

Time passed and about year ago, I said to God (and yes, I talk to Him about it), “I’m tired of feeling sick and tired”. I started researching, and feel that He led me to some really good information on Hashimoto’s, gluten sensitivity especially in Hashi’s patients, dairy and soy triggers that also effect Hashi’s patients, and various groups of women (and a few men) that are living this autoimmune life. I have probably learned more in the past year about autoimmunity than I did in all the other years combined. I wish I had realized all the pieces to this puzzle sooner, but am grateful that I finally decided to take control of my own health. As much as I have liked my doctors over the years, they couldn’t know everything. Honestly, it has only been in about the last fifteen years that more and more research has come out about the relationship between autoimmune diseases and the gut. If the gut ain’t happy, ain’t no one gonna be healthy. Bad grammar in that sentence, I know, but I’m keeping it real. (interesting article about Hashi’s and the immune system)

So, anyway…..I have tried Trim Healthy Mama this whole year. I lost thirty pounds and quit sugar because of their approach and think it is a great lifestyle. With that said, I still have the gluten sensitivity, and dairy/soy issues that I need to address so I am on my first day of the Autoimmune Paleo diet. The first thirty days are the hardest. It is very restrictive because it is an elimination diet. All the things that could possibly be triggers for someone with autoimmune disease are out! I’m basically eating meat, lots of veggies and fruit, certain herbs and spices, you get the gist. I’m doing this because my goal is to feel better.

It is hard. I’m not going to lie.

But, I’m so very tired of not feeling as well as I know I could.