Thursday, April 11, 2013

Run and Not Grow Weary

I have been debating with myself whether or not write this post. It's a tough one. But writing is therapeutic, and maybe this post will raise awareness to you.
I don't share very much about my anxiety, it's kind of a personal thing, and for people who do not have this disorder- they don't really understand how it affects you in such a strong way.
I have had this issue most of my life, and when I think back on my childhood, I can now realize what was wrong with me. I was not a weird child, I had an anxiety issue that no one new I had, not even me.

I grew up in Orlando, and was born to very young parents. My parents did the best they could given their circumstances. I was very close to my grandparents because they were a huge part of my life from day 1. My grandfather died when I was 13. I remember it was right after the 1996 olympics, and while I was watching my favorite gymnast, Dominique Moceanu on re-run, my grandfather had a stroke- right in front of me. After he died, I was TERRIFIED of hospitals. They reminded me of him, and it scared me. To this day, I still try to avoid driving by any hospital, and if I do- I have a mild anxiety attack. It has gotten better though, but still not something I can do with ease.

During that time, that was also when my mom and dad got divorced. My dad left to Nashville with his girlfriend and I was devastated. Not good timing! Another person who I didn't have close. My mom was angry and hurt by both her dad and the divorce and had her own issues she was dealing with. This left me extremely insecure. Jump a few years later and my mom re-marries, and someone new moved into my broken home. Oh boy- was that fun. Enough on that.

A few years passed and I met friends who became my second family. My anxiety subsided and I felt happy and was having fun with my friends. We did EVERYTHING together. Beach, concerts, swimming, parties, scrapbooking, BBQ'ing, and traveling to name a few. They were in my life for 13 years. That is a long time- and they became my family. I met most of my current friends from this circle.

You always hope that people have good intentions, and sometimes you find out otherwise. Friendships change as you grow older, and so do your feeling towards people. When feelings get in the way, depending on the circumstance, it can be tricky. And in this case it was. Our friendship ended last year, and even though I am pulling through it, I miss a certain few terribly. It is very strange not talking to them, and some days are still hard.
Some people close to me tell me that maybe they will have a change of heart. And as sad as I am to say this, I do not want to go back. I am moving forward towards bigger and better.

A close friend of mine's son was also diagnosed with childhood cancer last year. This boy was always close to my heart and when I walked in to his hospital room a day after his diagnosis (yes this took courage), my heart cried. It hurt for him and hurt for my friend. No one should ever have to go through such a terrible thing. It has been a tough year for them, but they are keeping their faith alive and fighting   for a cure.

After saying all this, my anxiety has become a large part of my life. Even though you cannot see it, it's there. The physical and emotional part of anxiety is the worst to deal with. It literally makes you sick.
But I know God is just putting me through this storm to end up in a place where I will be the happiest. I am teaching at a small christian school, in which I love. I am working with children doing ABA for Autism, and getting ready to begin classes for board certification for Applied Behavior Analysis. I have a lot going on, and am truly excited about working towards this goal.
Be honest, kind, sensitive, passionate, motivated, and just give a smile or hug to someone you know. You never know who is battling a storm.

Thanks for reading- and if you are having struggles in your life right now...may this truth bless you-

"But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Embracing A New Path

It's April, which means that it is also Autism Awareness Month. I write this post for two reasons, 1- to spread awareness of Autism and 2- to explain how my life took an unexpected turn.

All my life I thought I would be a teacher. There was never anything else that really interested me. So during my college years, I taught prekindergarten at one of the best little preschools in downtown Orlando. I had many friends there, and we LOVED what we did. After I graduated, I knew it was time to move on. I needed to make more money and felt the time was right. 
A position was open at my church's school, The First Academy, in the division of Special Needs Education. I was hired and accepted this job, but leaving my comfort zone of Delaney Street where I taught was a very scary feeling. Little did I know how much this new job was going to open different doors.
I taught there for two years. I was a lead teacher for 2nd grade and kindergarden. All of the children in my class were on the Autism Spectrum or had another related disability. I loved what I did with the kids, and knew they loved me back...even though their tantruming could have had me believing otherwise! Exhausted does not even begin to describe how I felt each day!
During my experience with this school, I met new people and made new friends. Little did I know that the lady who was coming in each month to observe the Applied Behavior Analysis approach our classroom was taking, would be a lady who I would be working for independently as a Behavior Assistant today! After leaving the school, I kept in touch with her and she persisted that I become a Behavior Assistant with her ABA company. I took the offer and am now working on my courses for the National Board Certified Behavior Analysis Exam. After I complete these courses I plan to become a full-time therapist providing ABA for children with Autism. I am so excited for this journey!

I cannot express to you how rewarding it is to see progress in a child you are working with. The SMALLEST task can be a HUGE task in the eyes of a child with Autism.
Spread the word about AUTISM AWARENESS!