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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, February 29, 2016

Running Out of Spoons

I have been trying to figure out lately why I am still so anxious about going to work. Right now, although I'm still a substitute, and I'm not even subbing as an actual teacher, I have a pretty good gig. I am working as a 1:1 assistant for a kindergarten boy with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is challenging, but it really allows me to use my mind, my creativity, and all my knowledge. It is a job where my personality (gentle, easy-going, patient) is actually an asset, unlike at some past jobs where I was considered to be "too sweet and kind."
AND I like the people I'm working with. I really do. The other assistants in the classroom are really great, they are laid back and have good senses of humor and they really love the children they work with. I have fun with them.
So why am I so anxious about going to work? Why do I still feel sick about it every night, especially on Sunday nights, when I think about work? I am happy to be there, most of the time. Yet, I never want to go there. WHY?
I finally realized that a lot of my anxiety is about being tired. I am so tired all the time. By the time I get home from work at the end of the day, I often have to take a nap! And when the weekend comes, I pretty much spend the majority of it sleeping, because I just feel so drained. I have very little energy left over to do anything extra, like work on this blog.
Part of it could be that "Tizzy" (the little kid I work with... not his real name, obviously, but sort of a play on Taz, who he reminds me of... both the cartoon character and the boy I used to work with whose name in this blog was Taz) has so much energy, and I spend a lot of my day either walking around the school (we track our steps on my Fitbit and almost always get at least 10,000) or restraining him to keep him from hurting himself or me. But I've done that sort of thing in many of my jobs and it is not usually so exhausting.
Part of it could be that, according to my Fitbit, I am a total insomniac. Sure, I sleep, but most of my sleep is fitful and "restless." If I spend nine hours thinking I am asleep, my Fitbit shows that I only spent two or three of those hours actually sleeping, and the rest of the time tossing and turning and waking halfway up.
But part of it could also be the Spoon Theory.
I heard about the Spoon Theory years ago, but I was reminded of it after I picked up Jenny Lawson's newest book Furiously Happy at the library. Reading about it now was such an odd coincidence, since it immediately seemed to explain what I've been going through.
The Spoon Theory was made up by a young woman who thought of it on the spur of the moment when asked to explain what it felt like to have lupus. (No, I don't have lupus, but the theory has since been applied to many other chronic illnesses and disabilities, including depression, anxiety, and autism.)
The theory goes like this. The spoons basically represent units of energy. Most healthy people wake up each day with an unlimited number of spoons. If they run out of spoons during the day, they can take a short rest, and their spoon supply is replenished. But for people dealing with chronic illnesses and disabilities, you wake up with just a handful of spoons. Some days you have more spoons than others.
You have to look at this limited number of spoons you have, and figure out how to use them. Each simple task you do takes at least one spoon. Take a shower in the morning? That is a spoon. Make your lunch to bring to work? That is a spoon. Drive to work? Spoon. Spend an hour trying to keep an anguished six-year-old from knocking over bookshelves and throwing chairs? That is, like, ten spoons at least!
Some days, by the end of the day you may have a spoon or two left over. You can decide how you want to use them. Make dinner for your family? Take your dog for a walk? Read a book? Get some work done for the next day? You don't have enough spoons to all of these things, so choose wisely.
Other days, you run completely out of spoons before your work day ends. You come home depleted, feeling hopeless.
When you wake up, you may find yourself with a fresh supply of spoons... but you never know how many you have. You may wake up with forty spoons. You may wake up with ten. Some days you wake up and you only have about three spoons... yet you still have to somehow manage to get through your day, even though you will soon be completely spoonless.
So that is that. I wish I had more spoons. My brain is usually going a million miles an hour (maybe that is using up spoons as well) and I have so many ideas and so many things I want to do. I am a person who loves life, and I long to try new things, meet new people, or at least stay up past eight o'clock at night and watch a movie. But I never have enough spoons.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cooking With Aliens, Week 1: Valentines Dinner

Okay, I'm just going to jump back into this blogging thing. Ready, set, GO!

For the past month or so, I have been learning how to cook. I have tried learning how to cook a few times before, as evidenced by the previous blog entries here and here. But those times, I was doing it alone, trying to follow recipes without any real background knowledge about spices or how things worked. This time, my aunt has been helping me and teaching me some things. I've made some very successful dinners! So successful, in fact, that I decided to plan a "dinner party" for some friends. The only friends I have here so far really are Phylis and Lisa (who has 11 goats) so I invited both of them and their husbands. Lisa and her husband couldn't come, because they also have 5 dogs in addition to the 11 goats, and 3 of their dogs had an agility event that day. So it was just Phylis and her husband Charles, plus Auntie Em, Uncle J, and I. 

I really love holidays, so I thought it would be fun to have a Valentines-themed dinner. I made some decorations, plus bought a few things at Dollar Tree. Doesn't this area look decorative? I made the banner using printer paper, washi tape, markers, and string. I made the hearts dangling from the chandelier using construction paper, glue, string, stickers, and some pennies (to weigh down the bottom hearts so that they would spin a little.) I also made a paper chain of hearts, not seen here.


The main course was Vegetarian Three Bean Chili. You can find the recipe I used here.  I did make a few changes, which chefs are allowed to do. First, we didn't have vegetable broth, so I had to use chicken broth, which means the chili wasn't completely vegetarian... but close! Second, I left out the cilantro, because my aunt doesn't like it and I am not sure about it. Third, I did not use as much chili powder, because the first time I made this chili to practice, it was really spicy. (But this time, it was not spicy at all, so I have a suspicion that last time I might have added 2 TABLESPOONS of chili powder instead of 2 TEASPOONS.)  Fourth, the recipe called for one tablespoon of corn meal, which thickens up the chili. Both times that I made it, the chili still seemed really thin after about an hour of simmering (you can let chili simmer indefinitely) and I added more and more cornmeal. I think I ended up adding about half a cup, total, this time. I may have actually made it too thick. I don't know. I sort of like it thick. If you don't like it thick, don't add as much cornmeal. 

It turned out really good, especially topped with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream! 


Next, I made some cornbread muffins. I do not have the recipe on hand, but I just followed the one I found on the back of the cornmeal bag. The time before when I made it, the muffins came out good, but I remembered cornbread being much sweeter than that. So this time I added some extra sugar, resulting in sweet, moist cornbread muffins! I also had some Valentines cupcake papers and toppers, so the muffins were presentable. They were mm-mmm good! This is something I think I will take to a potluck dinner, if I ever get invited to one. 

Finally, the best part... dessert! I found these heart shaped miniature cherry pies on Pinterest and fell in love with the idea. They are super easy to make. You can find the recipe here, but really it is very simple. You can either use storebought pie dough (the kind that is not baked yet, because you need to be able to cut it with cookie cutters) or whatever pie crust recipe you like, and canned cherry filling. I found a large heart shaped cookie cutter at Wal-Mart (don't tell my cousin BT I was there) and used it to cut lots of heart shaped crusts. You need to make an egg wash out of one egg and a little bit of milk. Set down one heart, brush around the edges of it with egg wash, and then spread cherries in the middle. I found out that it is best to use a thin layer of cherries and cover as much of the heart as possible, but not quite up to the edges. Then you set a second heart crust on top of it, and use your fingers to pinch the edges of the two crusts together to seal the cherries in. Then you paint the top crust with eggwash, and sprinkle on some sugar and cinnamon. It is like a Handi-Pie! (Why doesn't Google know what a Handi-Pie is? Didn't you ever get one of those? It is like a rectangle shaped fruit pie, or chocolate pie, in a wrapper, sold at the grocery store? You never had one? Wow. That sucks.) 

In the end, everyone said the whole dinner was great. It was a cooking success! But it was pretty exhausting. I slept half the day away the next day. 

I've decided I'm going to try making a vegetarian recipe from a different culture or country each week. I decided this after I realized that almost all of the recipes I'd made were Italian, with the exception of Burrito Bowls, which were sort of Mexican, at least based on Mexican food. People might get sick of pasta every single week (I won't, but other people might) so I need to be more adventurous. Tune in next week to see what my latest recipe will be!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Do You Want Me To Write?

Dear everyone,
You haven't heard from me for a while! It has been about three weeks I think. A lot has happened, and I  have had a lot that I have wanted to write about in this blog, but I haven't had the energy. I've been pretty overwhelmed in life and I still am. I've been working pretty much full time ever since I got better from being sick in January... mostly at one long-term subbing job as a 1:1 assistant for a little boy with severe anger and behavioral challenges. When I come home from that, I'm pretty much exhausted, and sometimes I just can't make myself write. I've really fallen behind on my product reviews and everything else that I meant to blog about.

I've been doing a lot to organize my life lately. I actually have a personal organizer (my friend PJ volunteered for the job) and have been getting my room into a workable state. I made a visual schedule for myself that I follow every day. I think I could make myself a blogging schedule, something like, Write on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, read others' blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, do sponsored reviews on Saturdays, and Sunday is freestyle.

However, I just want to know... basically to figure out for myself whether I should get back into writing this blog, and how much of it is a hobby versus a serious writing project... how many people out there are actually reading, and how many would want to keep reading my blog?

You don't even have to leave a comment... you can use this anonymous poll if you want. Or if your answer is "no," you could just not answer at all. I won't be mad or anything... I am just trying to decide whether, and how often, to keep blogging.

Okay, thanks!



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