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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Butterfly Hugs

When I have anxiety attacks or severe depression, I tend to look like I am completely insane. You might see me rocking back and forth frantically (which is something I do on a less frantic level quite often, even when I'm feeling calm) while hugging myself, pounding or smacking my arms or the sides of my head, shaking my head, scratching my skin, and even, on one occasion, biting myself.

If you observed a small child doing these things, you may think, "Wow, that child must have autism and must be really overwhelmed!" (Many people would actually think, "Wow, that bratty kid is having a temper tantrum and needs a spanking." But I know most of my readers are pretty enlightened about special needs and would probably consider that there was something else going on besides just an overindulged child not getting her way.) Depending on how comfortable you are approaching a stranger, you might give the child's parent a sympathetic smile, and go about your business, or you might offer to help in some way.

Now imagine seeing an adult doing these things! What would you think? You might be afraid. You might think the person is on drugs. You might think the person has a severe mental illness and could be dangerous. You might call the police. And if the police also assume that the person may be dangerous, things could become dangerous for the person.

I'm not just writing this to point out to the public that an adult who looks like they're completely freaking out could be experiencing anxiety or sensory overload. I actually have a coping mechanism to share with you.

When I talked to my equine therapist, "Julie," about how severe my anxiety had been when I was about to move to Oregon, she pointed out that I seem to need a lot of sensory input. This can be true of a lot of people, not just those who have autism or sensory processing needs, but also people with anxiety disorders or PTSD. When you are in a state of high anxiety, you can actually start to feel like you're floating, or disappearing, or leaving your body, or dying. I don't know how to explain the feeling, exactly, but if you've experienced it you probably know what I'm talking about. For me, the smacking, scratching, rocking, etc, are ways of trying to get back into my skin and calm myself down.

Julie showed me a way of giving myself more gentle sensory input, in a way that will hopefully help me calm down instead of escalate, and also won't alarm the general public as much. It is called "butterfly tapping" or " butterfly hug."

I looked it up later, and I found a good video where the lady shows you two different ways of doing the butterfly hug, plus an alternative idea for if you feel self-conscious about butterfly hugging yourself in public. This can help adults, teenagers, and kids.


Julie also gave me the idea to give myself a pause button,  to let myself tune out everyone else who may be yelling or talking at me, and to just be aware of myself and what I am doing and feeling. You can actually push a spot on your body, like your nose, to activate your pause button. Unfortunately, others will probably not literally freeze in time and space, which is what I wish they'd do sometimes. So you just have to internally pause things, even by physically leaving the area to be by yourself if you have to. 

Our talk made me realize that I probably really need more sensory input in my life. I've always loved sensory input. When I was very small, I had a little rocking horse, and I would get that thing rocking like there was no tomorrow, to the point that it would actually sort of scoot across the room sometimes. And do you remember those mechanical animal rides that used to be in the fronts of stores? There were two in the front of Sears Outlet when I was little, a pig and a horse. I always rode the pig, which rocked very wildly. My little brother was not allowed to ride the pig, because it might catapult him off. He had to ride the much tamer and slower horse. But I loved that wildly rocking pig! Other things I loved were swinging on a swing (I could do it for hours) or a see-saw or glider, playing in sand, and jumping into the ball pit at Showbiz Pizza. 

My grandparents' house was in an unincorporated area, and they had no sidewalks. But there were rows of those small, white stones separating the road from the lawns. When we'd go for walks, I loved to walk in the stones, to hear the crunching sound under my feet. I was always begging someone to take me for a long walk. I'd even specify, "Can we go for a walk in the stones?" And I could have walked all day, if someone had let me. 

It is interesting how as a kid I instinctively knew to give myself sensory input. As an adult, I'm often concentrating too hard on appearing "normal," and forget that I still do need these things. The butterfly hug is a good way to get some sensory input in public... but sometimes I may need some stronger sensory input. Jumping into a swimming pool is an example that I mentioned to Julie. Except I don't usually have a swimming pool at my disposal. Does anyone have other ideas for this type of strong, whole-body sensory experience? 

That is all for today. I just wanted to share the Butterfly Hug with you guys. I hope it helps somebody!



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Just One More Thing, And Then I'll Shut Up

 The past week has been a crazy one. If you have read my last two blog entries, you know that I found a job in Oregon and got very close to moving, but then had a huge series of panic attacks and couldn't go. And that the school offered to hold the job for me, but then several days later retracted their offer with no explanation

After writing that last post, I sent an email to the principal of the school asking if there was a particular reason for the sudden change, and reminding them that they had offered to hold the job for me and that I had been looking forward to coming. When I'd spoken and emailed with the principal earlier, she had sounded so enthusiastic about holding the job, saying that she thought I was such a great fit for the children there. So I just wanted to know... why the very sudden change of heart? 

The principal shot back a one-line email message: "We have decided to restructure the program in a way that changes our staffing."

It still makes no sense to me. They were so warm and welcoming before, only to withdraw the job offer in such a cool and impersonal way. And who just randomly restructures a program a week before school starts? A day after assuring me that there was going to be a substitute there for me until I was able to come? There has to be something else going on. 

One possible reason could be that they may have found this blog. I have taken a lot of precautions to keep this blog separate from my legal name, and have avoided even mentioning the names of the towns where I was having interviews, for this reason. But I just can't think of any other reasons for them to suddenly reject me, after all that! And if there was a reason, why couldn't they just tell me? How hard would it have been to say, "Uh, we ran your credit report, and we don't think you seem very responsible after all," or "One of your references told us they secretly think you are really stupid and annoying." Or whatever. Wouldn't that have been kinder than a cold, one-line email?

I would like to call them up and scream a huge "@#$% YOU!" for the hurt this has caused me. But that wouldn't be very professional, now, would it? 

So, instead, this is an open statement to the staff members at that school, and any others that might somehow find this blog. 

I have ADHD and Aspergers. I struggle with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, these conditions get in the way of my everyday life. However, they rarely, if ever, get in the way of my work with children. When I am teaching, I am at my best. 

My conditions also give me a special quality, as they allow me to connect with and understand children with special needs, in a way that many others cannot. I know first hand how these children and their families have to fight for everything. I care about each child as if he or she were my own. I try to be a role model, to show them that they can live a full life, even when their special needs sometimes hold them back a little. 

Your school works with many children with mental health diagnoses. I would hope that you would teach them to advocate for themselves, and to realize that they deserve everything that their more neurotypical peers deserve. And I hope that you, and the rest of the world, show those children more understanding and fairness than you showed me this week. 

I am hurt that I did not get the opportunity to prove what I can do. But if I really was rejected for the job based on what you read in this blog, then this school probably wasn't the best place for me after all. I'm going to move forward, now, and not look back. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LifeSux

Guys, life is just knocking me down lately. I don't know what is going on. Every time I pull myself back up, something comes along and just kicks me in the throat.

So I wasn't going to write anything about this for a while, but I guess now I will.

After my complete nervous breakdown and my failure to move to E-Town, I had come up with another plan... I would try again, but more slowly. I was going to continue to look for jobs in Oregon, and meanwhile spend some time visiting my Auntie M and cousin BT so that I could get to know the area better and get to know E-Town. At the time I had already realized I wasn't going to have the job I was supposed to have, but there was some glimmer of hope that let me think I could find another job in the same area... or maybe go back and apply to that same job after a year or so.

And then it seemed like God gave me another chance. The people from my would-be job called me up and said they thought I would be such a good fit, that they would be willing to hold the job for me even until December. They would have a substitute until then.

I got so excited! I told them, yes, please hold the job for me! I was planning to go to E-Town and look around, get to know the area, see some apartments for myself, and even stop by the school to meet people there. I thought I could move out there in early November. This way I'd be able to come home for Thanksgiving after only a few weeks, and then there would be winter break, and by then I would be more or less assimilated. I told my mom and my aunt... we all agreed that this was some sort of sign that E-town was where I was supposed to be. It was a second chance! I was thanking God! I was vowing that I was going to do it right this time!

I even started making lesson plans. So that I would be ready, when I got there. Starting the lesson plans helped me to get excited about the school. I had this great unit started, for November, which would lead into Thanksgiving... we were going to learn about children around the world. We were going to write about what kids like to do, eat, play with, etc, in the USA, and then read stories about what kids like to do in other countries and cultures, and learn some games, art projects, words in other languages, etc. I was going to have the kids choose a country and do little reports about what life was like in that country (with a lot of guidance for the kids who couldn't read or write that well yet) It would end with a small cultural fair where the kids could show off everything they had learned, made, and done. There would have been a lot of reading, writing, geography, and social studies, involved.

 I thought of making a poster or a book of some sort about myself, to send to the school before I got there, so they could show the kids and the kids could get to know me. I was going to include pictures of my dogs and pictures of Chicago.

And then...

The principal sent me a text.

A text.

"I regret to inform you that we have decided to go in another direction with the teacher position and are withdrawing our offer. We wish you the best in your future endeavors."

That's it. No explanation, or anything. Just, cut off. 

I know I have no business even being sad, because I was the one who decided to turn down the job in the first place. But it was because I was sick! Anxiety and depression are sicknesses, and when they attack, they attack. When they offered to hold the job, I thought it was proof that I was going to be okay. Proof that I could recover and keep going. 

When I got the text, I cried. Harder than I even did when I was having straight anxiety attacks for three days in a row. I laid on my parents bed and screamed into a pillow with sobs that ravished my whole body. 

I am lost. I lose. 

I want to move to Oregon... I still do. And I really wanted to move to E-Town. I needed to do it more slowly than I tried to do it last week. As some people have pointed out to me, even a "normal" person could have had a nervous breakdown at the idea of having one week to find an apartment sight unseen, move across the country, and start a new job in a town they've never set foot in. And I've got Aspergers, dudes! We don't do well with changes... especially when we know almost nothing about those changes ahead of time! 

I know I will go eventually. Except maybe not to E-Town, now Maybe not near B.T. And probably not until next school year... at which point I will be in the same traumatizing position of trying to find a job in some random town and then being able to just pick up and move there at a moment's notice. And what do I do until then? Sub for another year? I hate subbing. It makes me feel like a ghost. 

When I think of that text, my whole body feels cold. I know it is my fault... I blew it. But then they gave me hope, only to rip it away from me in a sudden, cruel way. I wish I could take a break from existing. I feel hopeless and lost and alone. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A More Cheerful Post

Hi everyone! In light of my recent, somber posts, I thought I'd brighten things up a little bit. I am going to write a real post later, but for now, I will let you watch me dump a bucket of water on my head! I participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. I actually did it twice, because I was nominated by two different people. I've edited out the people I nominated, for their privacy, and I've only left the important part... the dumping of the ice water.


I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Broken Dreams Of An Alien

People with ADHD and Aspergers have poor motor planning. That means organizing your body to do a movement that isn't a habit. So, for instance, learning to play a sport. Learning how to make the exact movements you need to kick the ball as far as it can go or swing the bat the right way. This was why I hated it when my parents put me on a soccer team as a child. It was what all suburban kids were expected to do. I begged my parents to let me drop out, and they eventually did. It was also why I couldn't learn to ride my bike until I was almost eight. I eventually learned how to do it by sitting on it, running with it to get the wheels going (picture the Flinstones in their car) and then putting my feet on the petals while the bike was still balanced. 

My lack of motor planning was also evident when I was in swimming lessons, at around the same age. My brother and I both took swimming lessons at the local pool. Since neither of us had ever been in a swimming pool before, as far as we could remember, we both started at Level One. My brother took to it like a fish and quickly advanced to higher and higher levels. I stayed stuck on Level One. For several years in a row, I was on Level One. I mastered front glides and shallow water bobs. (I loved doing shallow water bobs. You basically just jump up and down in the water. I could do this for hours. It was stimmy. I also loved using a kickboard to swim around the pool, and I'd do this for hours too, even during public pool hours. My brother later told me that I'd be kicking and splashing all sorts of people, and they'd be turning around to yell at me or frown at me, and I'd just kick away obliviously.) But I could never do the actual swimming part. I couldn't coordinate my arms and legs and head to all do these different, specific moves that would keep me from sinking to the bottom of the pool.


One of the requirements to pass Level One was, you had to jump off the diving board. Not dive, just jump. I was terrified of this. Because I couldn't swim. I would land in the water that was over my head, and then I would surely drown. 


The young lifeguards teaching the class coaxed me and begged me. I cried. They promised that one of them would be waiting in the water to fish me out and bring me back to shore. I sobbed. I could not. I wanted to. I was embarrassed to be the oldest kid in Level One, and the only one who couldn't go off the diving board. I wanted to be like the other kids. I would convince myself that I was going to do it. I would get as far as the ladder, and start to climb up. Then I would freak out. I couldn't picture myself jumping off the diving board. It just didn't seem real. 


The exhausted lifeguards devised a plan that would help me pass Level One on a technicality. One of the lifeguards went up on the diving board with me. Another stayed below in the water. The first life guard picked me up and lowered me down, and the second life guard grabbed me. I was crying the whole time, afraid they'd drop me into that five-foot-deep abyss. 


Eventually I learned to swim well enough to keep myself alive for a few minutes... basically my own version of the dog paddle. I could thrash my way from one end of the pool to the other without drowning. And by the end of junior high, I was able to jump off the diving board. I even liked it. But I could never dive. Even now. I could never contort my body into the correct position to avoid a belly flop. 


Fast forward many years. 


I was all set to move to E-Town, Oregon. I had a job lined up. I had a temporary place to stay, with my cousin. I had mapped out the best way to get there in my car, and found inexpensive or free places to stay along the way. I had bought a crate for my dog and trained her to go into it, so that she'd have her own safe, familiar place no matter where we spent the night. (She sleeps with me in bed... but if I left the house or room for a minute, I would have put her in the crate, so she wouldn't feel so overwhelmed.) I told everyone I knew. I announced it on Facebook and got 30 "likes." I said goodbye to my little cousins. My neighbors made me a great gift basket as a going away present. My grandparents gave me money.

But then it was time to start packing. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I would really be leaving. Forever. It would be months before I'd get the chance to hug my mom again. There would be no more sitting around the living room watching "Family Guy" or "Gun Smoke" with my dad, or keeping my mom company while she ran endless errands. All of my ordinary, day-to-day routines would be gone. I'd also be leaving Trixie, and separating her and Lily. and taking Lily away from everything that was familiar to her

I'd be getting a new, great life. I'd get to know my cousin BT, and see my Auntie M and Uncle J on a regular basis. I'd be able to visit Bro, Sunny and Squeak whenever I wanted to. I'd have my own apartment. I would be close to nature. I could hike, and swim in rivers, and visit the ocean. (But probably not swim in it much. The water stays pretty cold there.) But, although I knew all this, I couldn't really imagine it. It would all be new and unknown. 


I sat on the floor and bawled my eyes out, shaking and rocking. Any of you who have, or know someone who has, autism, understands what a "meltdown" looks like. It is not pretty. My Small Dog tried to calm me by putting her paws on me and licking me. When I managed to stop crying, and breathe right, I still felt panicky. My skin burned so badly, I thought for sure I had sunburn, even though I was still pale. My chest felt like someone was sitting on it. 


This went on for days. I would remind myself of all the great things awaiting for me on the coast. I would tell myself I would do it. Then I'd feel the walls melting away and the floor disappearing under me, and I'd be a mess again. 


I thought, maybe if I didn't have to drive all that way alone, I would be okay. So my dad took three days off of work so he could drive there with me. And I thought that would be great. But then the thought of saying goodbye to my dad... and then having to go to my new job an hour later... would overwhelm me, and I'd start to feel sick again. 


I couldn't eat. I took Tylenol PM to help me sleep. I wanted to go. I wanted to stay. My Auntie M promised that she would stay with me in E-Town until I felt comfortable. She told me I could always go home after a few weeks. My dad told me I couldn't... he would not drive me all the way there if there was a chance I would beg to come home two weeks later. 


My cousin BT told me to just come. It wasn't a big deal. I had family there. Just come. I wanted to. I wanted to see him. When we were kids, he was the best friend I had. (I probably wasn't his best friend. After all, we lived about ninety states away from each other, and only saw each other for a few weeks each summer. But he was the only kid around my age that talked to me and spent time with me and didn't make fun of me. Well, he did make fun of me... but like a cousin, not like the jerks at school. ) 


My brother ridiculed me for considering not going. He said if I didn't go now, I had better just accept the fact that I was going to live and die in Chicago. He asked me what I would do if a comet hit my house and killed my mom and dad. I told him I'd probably die too, because I'd be in the house with them. 


In the end, my dad and aunt were the lifeguards trying to carefully pass me off the diving board so that I wouldn't drown. But I was still terrified. To the point of being physically ill. I lost weight. Anxiety works better than aerobics. Eventually I crashed and burned. 


I never wanted to be the middle-aged, childless woman still living with her parents and following their rules. As a teenager, I assumed that by the time I was twenty-one I'd be living on my own and adopting a child. (I was somewhat right. I did live on my own by the time I was twenty-one, and I did unofficially adopt many children in the different places I stayed. But I never really ws able to live completely independently. I could never keep all of my ducks in a row at once.) 


Tanya Savko writes about getting her newly-adult son with autism into an independent living program. He gets to live like an adult, in an apartment, but also gets plenty of guidance and support, and has people to teach him how to do different things. Tanya writes, "His ever-expanding vocabulary belies him, as his emotional age has plateaued at around age 11 or 12, and he requires assistance." I don't require as much assistance as Nigel, but I probably did when I was 18. Unfortunately, at that time I was a wild little street kid. But that sentence reminds me a lot of myself. I am smart in my own ways. I learned to survive on the streets at a pretty young age. I learned to find the bright side of any situation. I am good at understanding children and animals. I am able to find creative and new ways of teaching children. I like to think and learn. Yet I am still afraid to go into the garage by myself (because there is obviously a ghost in there), I sleep with a teddybear at night, I cannot understand a lot of what people my age say and do, and I cry like a baby any time I am separated from someone I love. 


I hate the person I am. I hate that I could not do what I wanted so badly to do. I hate that, while parts of my brain are very smart, other parts are like a little kid who still needs her mama. 


My dream of moving to Oregon has died. But I don't want to say it is dead. It is in a coma. It is on life support. It needs help to breathe. But it is not dead. And there is still hope that I can revive it. Hopefully sooner than later.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Update On My Impending Move!

I haven't written in a few days, and it is pretty much like a million years went by, with everything that has happened.

The last time we met, I was feeling a lot of anxiety because many things were up in the air. I was waiting to hear back about two different job possibilities, one in W-Town and one in E-Town. Although we collectively decided that it might be better to move to W-Town because I'd be closer to my aunt, fate did not agree with us. The job they offered me turned out to be something entirely different than I had wanted or interviewed for. They actually sort of tried to pull a fast one on me, because I had told them I was open to possibly doing the second job but that I preferred the first job. And they just decided to place me in the second job. So, yeah.

Meanwhile, the job in E-Town was emailing me, literally telling me that they wanted me to come! So I finally told them, yes, I would come.

So.

I haven't really managed to save up as much money as I had hoped, and I won't have enough money to get an apartment right away. Just getting out there is going to take up a lot of my savings. But I actually have a plan. I found this website where people will let you stay with them for a little while, in their spare bedroom or on their couch.

Before you say, "HOLD IT!", let me explain!

It is a pretty safe site. You can search among a lot of different people who are offering up their places. Some of them are "verified" through the site, and some of them have references. You can also use their full name and address to do a little background research on them. To me it is actually a little safer than renting a room, because you can preview the person ahead of time, and if you don't end up getting along, you can just leave.

I signed up, and I already got a place to stay for the first night of my road trip. The girl I will be staying with sounds very nice. She works with people with developmental disabilities, and has an Australian Shepherd!

So. Here is how it is going to roll. I have this week to try to tie up as many loose ends as possible. Then, on Friday, I will set out on the first leg of my journey. I am going to drive only 8 hours a day, in order to not burn out, since I don't have anyone to share the drive with me! Of course, my tiny sidekick, Lily, will be with me, too.

I will get out there by Sunday night or Monday some time. By then, I will hopefully have arranged a place to stay in E-Town. (I will probably either rent a room, or find another place to stay through that website.) On Tuesday, I will start orientation at my new job!

I don't know what I am going to do with Lily during the day time, yet. I am going to get a little crate and start training her to go into it for short amounts of time. The reason is, Lily has never really been home alone for any amount of time. And by alone, I mean, completely alone, with no other pets or anything. If I just leave her in a random new place all of the sudden, she may freak out! So I am going to try to make her crate her familiar place and have it out for her wherever we stay, so that she still has that safe little cave no matter what. And if I am allowed to at whatever place I end up staying temporarily, I will just crate her while I am at work. Not because she would cause any destruction, but just so she would feel safe and cozy in her little house. If I can't leave her home alone, I will have to put her in doggie daycare. I have already found one I like, and it costs $20 a day, which isn't too bad.

When I get my first paycheck, I will be able to strike out on my own and get my own place to stay!

As for anxiety, I think I have been using the wrong word. I really am excited for everything ahead, from the solo road trip, to meeting new people, to being closer to my aunt and uncle and cousin and also to my brother and sister-in-law and nephew, to my awesome new job. I am not fearful or apprehensive about any of this. But I am SAD about one thing... saying goodbye to my family here in Chicago. Including my other dog, Trixie, who is really my parents' dog. I am going to miss them all so much! The only thing that makes me feel better is telling myself that I will fly home every chance I get. I can't even think about it, or I start feeling panicky.

So anyways... this blog is about to take an exciting turn! You may want to keep on tuning in!

And now, because this is my favorite video in the whole world and I want one of these, go watch this!




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Anxiety

I am writing this post on my tablet because I can't sleep. My anxiety is at a fever pitch right now, Have you ever wanted something so bad, but at the same time been broken-hearted at everything you will have to give up in order to get it? My brain knows I want to move forward with my life. My brain knows that if I stay here, I will never find out who I really am... I will just always be a reflection of what I think others want me to be. that has always been a method of survival for me. My brain knows that it is okay to move physically away from my parents. It doesn't mean that I am abandoning them. My brain knows that it will be good for them to have the house to themselves again. (I've been staying here since 2012.) My brain knows that I will love Oregon. That I will find the types of friendships I've always wanted, where I can be my genuine self, where they want to hang out with me, not just see what they can get from me. In fact I already sort of have a friend in Portland... a girl I went to high school with. We didn't hang out back then, possibly because I was a little gutter punk with an angry look on my face. But we got to know each other on Facebook as of late. I can't keep writing... this hunt and peck keyboard is awful. But my point is... I. Am. So. Confused. But I do want to go. I just don't want to be gone.

Monday, August 11, 2014

HALP!

 I was going to write a totally different post today, but my mind is spinning too much to write those posts! Instead, I don't want to bore you, but can I talk to you some more about my possible upcoming journey to Oregon?

It is so weird that for two years I have applied for millions of jobs in Illinois, only to be turned down every single time. I never even came close. 

Now, I am very close to not one, but two different jobs! I've been accepted into the final stage of hiring (well, I guess the second-to-final stage. The stage that comes right before they actually offer you the job) for two different schools. I need you guys to help me compare and contrast, on the off chance that tomorrow they both offer me the job. 

We're going to be comparing W-Town and E-Town. 

W-Town
Pros: It pays more money
It is waaaaay closer to where Auntie M lives
I will probably not get injured as frequently
It is closer to Portland, where there are many interesting things to see and do. 
If I can't find an apartment right away (it may be as soon as 2 weeks from now, so that will be really tight) I could stay with Auntie M and Uncle J, and commute to work, for a few weeks, because it is close enough to where they live. 

Cons: It isn't highly considered a great school district. I think it sounds great from what the principals have told me... but those school report-card type things give it bad ratings for low test scores. Which I don't really care about. Screw test scores!
Except, the schools with lowest test scores also have the most government crackdowns on them... more teaching to the test, and what have you.

Neutrals: The children I would be working with have moderate impairments, and won't be held to the standards as much. It is not like I will be teaching resource to kids with learning disabilities where I'm required to pound the information into them at all costs. It is more individualized, looking at their individual needs, which may be anything from learning to read, to survival skills. (Not like, surviving in the wilderness skills. Just real-world survival skills. Like grocery shopping. And tying your shoes.)

And now E-Town
Pros: I would get to work with children in foster care and children with mental health diagnoses, which interests me greatly.
I would have more freedom in what lessons I plan.(Although, to be fair, I might have just as much freedom at the other school.) 
It is a hippie town. I love hippie towns!
My cousin BT lives there (though I don't know if I'd even see him... he can be elusive!)

Cons: I'm not known for being "firm" with children. I worked with kids with severe behavioral problems before but it wasn't in an academic setting, so it was more about just playing with them and not really trying to force them to do things they didn't want to do. They (school staff) might be disappointed with me.
Some of the kids can be violent. (They're ages 4 through 10 so it won't be extremely dangerous) 
It is THREE HOURS away from my Auntie M... so when I'm feeling homesick, I'll be missing her and my parents!

Neutral: If I stay here and can't find an apartment right away, I'd have to stay in a hotel. My mom said one of our neighbors knows someone in E-Town who would rent a room to me... but I don't want to rent a ROOM! I want to be a grown up and have my own apartment! Also I don't know if that person would be okay with Lily being with me, and with Lily staying alone there while I worked. And I am NOT going without my small dog! 

What do you think? What would you pick if you were me? Assuming I actually get the choice?

Also, if one calls me before the other (which will obviously happen unless they both call at the exact same time and leave voice mails and I somehow listen to both at once) should I automatically take the first one that is offered to me? Or wait to see if the second one calls?

And what if NEITHER of them offer me a job? Then this would be a moot point. 

HELP! 

By the way, if I do get hired by one of these schools, I will have to leave, possibly as soon as the 15th and probably no later than the 22nd! Of this month! So... if you have time, please contribute to the Get Angel To Oregon fund by doing one ore more of the following things: 


Take notice of the ads you see on this blog. If you see something that interests you, pay that sponsor a visit! 

Visit my new website for parents, teachers and child care workers. Check it out, and Pinterest anything you're impressed by, or share it on Facebook or something!  The website is at http://angelthealien.wix.com/angelsplace. I get paid if people view the site, visit the ads, buy from the affiliate links, or watch the videos in the Video Corner. 

If you don't belong to InBoxDollars and you're interested in it, click this link to join! 

If you like to read, order one of my books on Amazon, here. You'll even get to know my actual legal  name! 

Order a T-shirt from my Cafe Press store, Love Your Brain store!

And last but not least, you're super rich and feeling philanthropisty, go to my GoFundMe site and make a donation!

BUT EVEN IF YOU DO NOT DO ANY OF THAT, THANK YOU FOR THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT YOU GIVE ME EACH TIME YOU READ OR COMMENT ON THIS BLOG! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wow, This Is Getting Real!

So... I have written a few times about the potential jobs that I have been applying for in Oregon. I don't know if I should say the names of the towns, just in case... not until I have actually secured a job. So I will be a little vague here. But remember I told you that I had two interviews scheduled... one for a school in P-Town, and one for a school in E-Town, both of which were working with children with mental health diagnoses and behavioral disorders. Unfortunately, something must have gone wrong with the P-Town interview... someone called and left a message on the lady's behalf, that she was going to call me to reschedule because she'd had an emergency... but then she never did. I sent her an email telling her I hoped everything was okay and that I would be interested in rescheduling, but I never heard back from her. So... I don't know? I did have the interview with the people from E-Town, and I thought I did a horrid job... I tend to ramble sometimes and I wasn't sure how articulate I was. And then just yesterday I had another interview with a school in W-Town, for a self-contained class in a regular public school. That class would be for kids with moderate levels of disabilities, including some medically fragile but also kids with Down syndrome and autism. That interview actually went really well. I was much "smoother" than I'd ever been! The people seemed impressed with me, and told me they were interviewing only 2 other people. 

Today I got an email from the principal at the school in E-Town. She said I am one of the final candidates! She wants me to speak with the superintendent on Monday through Skype! 

It looks like there is a very good chance that I will get the job in either W-Town or E-Town. I need to start getting myself ready to go. 

Oh my gosh just saying that makes my stomach get all nervous and freaked out!

My big plan in life is to cram everything I can into my little car, including my small dog Lily, and make a road trip of it. I will live as a minimalist until I get my first paycheck, and then I will arrange for a moving van to bring the rest of my stuff. 

So anyways. The main thing I really need is money. I have a little bit saved up, but I'm basically going to need enough for the trip there... which will mean at least two nights in hotels, about $250 in gas according to Mapquest, and some sort of food.... and enough to either get an apartment when I get there, or stay in a hotel there for a while until I can find an apartment. Also, I will most likely need to eat several times a day, and if I have to stay in a hotel I will need to put Lily in doggie day care because most hotels that allow dogs still don't allow them to be left alone in a room all day while you work. 

This is where I could use YOUR HELP! Here are some things you could do to help me, that won't cost you anything personally (unless you actually buy something.)

First of all, I have been working super hard at a website for teachers, parents, child care workers, and others who work with young children. It has lesson plans and activities for young children, including some free printables and stuff. (It will have even more eventually, as I am working on it each day.) There are also some Amazon affiliate links on it, and some Adsense ads. So what you could do is mention my sight on your blog, and if you have Pinterest you could pin any of the things that interest you on the website. The website is at http://angelthealien.wix.com/angelsplace. If you could help me spread the word on that site, it could bring in a little money!

Second of all, you could buy any of the books I've written. (This one will cost you money, but you get something, and I'm not saying you should buy it if you don't want it... but just check it out!) You can find my Amazon page here. (Yes, I am telling you my real name... but use it wisely! And I still like being called Angel better!) 

Third of all, you could visit my CafePress shop and buy something there. (Again, that will cost you money, so only buy them if you really want them! I don't want to spange you!) Check out my Love Your Brain store!

Fourth of all, if you see any ads on this blog that interest you, you could click on them. Only if they interest you. I'm not saying just click on them to be nice... but at least, if you come to my blog, look and see what ads are there! And if they interest you... well, you know. 

Fifth of all, if there are any really rich people out there who want to help me out, they could go to my GoFundMe site, which I have created just in case. (If you DO want to blatantly make a donation like that, you can scroll down to the bottom of my GoFundMe page and see that I've made some different donation levels where you will get something in return for your donation if you donate a certain amount.)

That is all I can think of right now! Spread the news on my website, buy my stuff, visit my ads if you feel like it, and blatantly toss money at me. And most of all, please just keep coming back here, because your kind comments mean everything to me!

That's it for now... gotta go pace around nervously for a while. Catch ya later!



Monday, August 4, 2014

My Life Has Gone To The Dogs!

I am still dogsitting over here! Tonight is actually my last night. The parents of Reggie and Poppi should be home tomorrow some time, I'm not sure when. 
Lily has been getting along well with the other dogs. I took a few pictures of her. Here is Lily with Reggie... 

and here she is with little Poppi. She thinks it is funny to be with a dog even smaller than her! 
Poppi looks like she's sticking out her tongue and going, "Bleh!" 

I tried to get them to take a picture of me, but they had a hard time holding the camera in their paws! 

In other news, tomorrow is my exciting job interview for a school in Oregon that I kind of really want to work at. It would be cool if they just offered me the job over the phone right there, wouldn't it? When I think about it possibly happening, I get so many emotions at once! Here is my brain. 

"Oh my gosh, wouldn't it be so great? I'd have a teaching job! I'd have freedom to do whatever I want with the lessons and activities! I'd be near my Auntie M and Uncle J, near Bro and Sunny and Squeak, and alarmingly near my cousin BT (which he may not be as happy about as I will be!) But I'm going to miss my mom and dad and my Nona and Bopop and Aunt Bee and little cousins Sox Boy and Pony Girl. And TRIXIE! How can I leave Trixie behind? Maybe this is crazy. Maybe I should just find a job around here, for now. But I don't want to get stuck here like my parents did! I want more than this for my life! But my family is a big part of my life and I won't get to see them as much. But I'll get to see Squeak so much more often! I won't  have to watch him grow up on Facebook anymore! But Trixie, I will miss her so much, how can I wake up every day without Trixie? And Trixie and Lily will miss each other! But we can come back and visit a lot. I'll save up $100 a week, and every time I have $500 I;ll have enough for a round trip plane ticket. But that will get expensive, and what if Lily doesn't do well on the plane? I am not making her ride in the cargo part. I'll figure something out. I want to go... I want to stay. This is my time... but I'M NOT READY!" 

Do you ever feel like that? 

My equine therapist, whom I call Laura in this blog but that is not her real name, told me something interesting. She said that when people feel anxiety, the same parts of their brain and the same chemicals are being lit up as when they feel excitement. Anxiety and excitement are actually pretty much the same. She says anxiety is just excitement, without support. She compared it to going on a roller coaster (a metaphor that works for me because I love rollercoasters, but maybe not so much for you if you hate them.) When you are getting ready to go on a rollercoaster, you feel excited. You know it is going to be a wild ride. But you are held in securely by the shoulder harness as your support, so you know you are safe (for the most part) and that is why you feel excitement. But if the harnesses are unlocked, and you lose your support, it turns to anxiety and fear, because now there is nothing to keep you from getting sucked out of the rollercoaster and plummeting to your untimely death. 

Do I  have support? I think I do. My mom has sort of indicated that I do not have her support in this (she's been silent about the whole matter, but hints that she does not foresee it going well.) My dad thinks the idea is a pipedream. But I would have Auntie M and Uncle J's support, and maybe BT's support as well. I would have Laura's support (even though I wouldn't get to see her and the horses each week anymore) and I could probably find another equine therapy place out there. I'd have Sunny's support, and maybe Bro's. And I'd meet more people, at work and in the world. 

But still.

You know those moments when you get on a rollercoaster you've never been on before, and you're waiting in line for like two million hours and you're thinking, "This is no big deal," but every so often you look up and see everyone on the coaster screaming past, and it looks so high and fast, and you're like, "Oh boy, what am I getting myself into?" And then finally it is your turn, and you get on, and you're just sitting there waiting for it to start, and you're starting to feel like, "Ohshitohshitohshit" and you want to change your mind but on the other hand you can't, because this is the coolest ride ever and you've been waiting all summer to go on it? 

And then off you go. And you're screaming, and you're laughing, and it's awesome, and then it is over, and you get off and tell your friends who stayed behind, "THAT WAS THE BEST RIDE EVER! DUDE, YOU GOTTA TRY IT!" 

Maybe that's what this is like. 




Friday, August 1, 2014

Here I Am Dogsitting

Hi everyone! Hey, second post in three days... I'm getting back into my groove!
Today I've got a temporary job taking care of the dogs of some people I know from volunteering. I'm staying in their house with the dogs while they're on vacation. I've actually watched their dogs a bunch of times. They foster dogs, so usually every time I come here there is at least one different dog! 

One summer, I got to take care of a mother black lab and her litter of adorable new puppies. The first time I watched them, they were only a week old and were like little gerbils! The second time, they were bigger, and I could get into the whelping box with them and they would jump all over me and lick me and bite me!

Another summer, they had rescued a stray yellow lab puppy while they were on vacation in Texas. They had found her in a trap in the park, and when they'd tried to get help, they'd been told that there was no room in any local animal shelters and that the puppy would most likely be euthanized. So they brought him back to Chicago with them, and fostered him with our rescue organization until they found a good home for him. I got to babysit him for a few days. He was such a big, happy puppy!

Another time there were two adorable shih tzus (You pronounce it shih-zoo, not shit-zoo, by the way... I learned that the hard way!) who were not potty trained yet and had to wear diapers around the house. They were so cute and cuddly!

And yet another time there was Tuffy, a very large Yorkie mix who had anxiety issues. He was actually the first dog to ever bite me. When I'd first came to watch him, he'd been barking and growling at me like crazy, so I'd just ignored him and gave him space, and eventually came over and let me pet him and we became great friends. So that day he was actually happy to see me, and we knew each other and everything. But it was time to take him outside to pee, and I had to reach under his chin to clip the leash to his collar, and that's when he bit me! He just startled easily. Someone must have hurt him badly in the past, because even when he liked people he could never 100% trust them, 

Most of the times, there was also Reggie, who the couple started out fostering but ended up adopting. Sometimes they take him with them on vacations and leave the foster dogs behind, and other times they leave him behind as well, depending on how welcome a dog would be wherever they are going. 

This time they've left Reggie here. He is a very cute, smart  Bichon poodle mix. He is feeling very sad because his mommy and daddy are gone. He keeps walking to the door and staring at it, and just wandering around with a sad look on his face. I've been trying to keep him distracted by playing fetch with him a lot. It is his favorite game... inside, you throw his Kong toy down the hallway and he brings it back Outside, you throw his little bouncy ball with a Chuck-It. He could do that for hours!

Usually he sleeps in bed with his mommy and daddy, so I was trying to get him to sleep in the guest bedroom with me, but he wouldn't set foot in there. He just kept walking into the couple's bedroom and peering in sadly. So I brought some blankets out to the living room and slept on the floor, and we had a slumber party!

The other dog I'm watching is a new dog they started out fostering and ended up adopting. Her name is Poppi, and she's a very tiny little Papillon mix. She's sweet and timid, and spends most of the time either cuddled up in her little dog bed, or sitting in your lap. Last night I had moved her bed into the guest room in order to try to coax her to stay, but she wouldn't go in there either, so she joined us at our living room sleepover. This morning after I took them out and fed them, I heard her barking from the kitchen. She hardly ever barks, so I thought something must be wrong! But it turned out, she was barking because she wanted her bed to be moved back into the kitchen!

This is actually good practice for living on my own. I have to be alone and be okay with it. It isn't that I am afraid to be alone, like that something would happen. Its just loneliness. Although I'm an introvert and most of the things I enjoy doing only require one person (it would be hard to blog together or read a book together, for example) I do like the comfort of having someone else near by. This is one of the biggest obstacles for me when I do live alone. No matter how much time I spend at work or other activities, at night I would have to come home to a quiet, empty house, and eat dinner in silence. Well except for talking to my dogs! 

When I was younger, I would even have panic attacks when I was in the house alone! It was one reason why I loved to be outside, and why as a teenager I would have rather roam the streets from sunup to sundown than spend a single hour in my house alone. Outside, even alone, I was much calmer. Inside, I would feel like the emptiness was closing in around me, choking me, like the air was made of pudding instead of oxygen. 

I have always thought I was weird for not being able to tolerate this. But then the other day in the store I noticed several people who were walking around the store talking on their Bluetooths, and I thought to myself, maybe that is why technology has come so far. First someone invented telephones, so they could talk to others even while they were alone in their house. Then they invented car phones, so they could talk to others while they were driving in their cars. Then came pagers, so they could be reached anywhere, followed by cell phones, so they could be reached even more conveniently everywhere. We learned to text, so that we could communicate even in places where we weren't supposed to be communicating, such as in the movie theater or in the middle of class. The Bluetooth was invented so that people could literally have a phone to their ear at all times, a friend or family member's voice only the push of a button away. 

Maybe everyone hates to be alone. 

I don't know whether others panic like I used to, or if they just actively prevent that from happening by keeping their technology plugged in all the time. In that case I probably spend more time "alone" than others, because I don't use a blue tooth and rarely talk to people on the phone. (I actually don't really like talking on the phone very much... it is weird to speak with a disembodied voice. Plus there is too much pressure to think of something to say at all times. Like you can't just suddenly stop and think, because the other person would be like, "Hello? Are you there? Can you hear me now?" But I digress...)

I don't know where I was going with that thought. Just sort of musing. The main point is, I'm dogsitting, and I'm realizing that being alone isn't so terrifying... at least not when doggies are with you! Tonight Lily is coming over to join our sleepover!

On an unrelated note, any of you who existed in the 80's or early 90's might have heard this song on Sesame Street called "The Same Voice" or "My Name Is You." I used to love that video when I was a kid! I was thinking about it last night for some reason, and I decided to look it up on the trusty Google, and I found it! I love it even now... 

My Name Is You

A school in Wisconsin did their own version of it which is also so sweet.

And that is all for now. I guess I will go play fetch outside with Reggie! See ya later!