Next step- after TLC mess

My job is ending.  Thank you!  This year was not what I asked for or what I was hired for.  TLC- right~ therapeutic learning center.  No curriculum, no direction, so when I would try and make it more about social and emotional learning, I get, “no we want you to…

Make it more academic- ok, so we will just work on academics.  But wait aren’t these kids with me because of emotional issues?  How easy it is to learn when you are thinking about past trauma or insecurities or anxiety or being overwhelmed?  Sorry, guys~ just trying to do my job.

Names and activities are changed to protect innocent.

RO- mother passed away a few years ago, his aunt became his guardian then she got cancer and died, then moved in with grandparents who speak a different language, sexual orientation is in conflict with their religion. Angry, overwhelmed, obese, feeling unloved.  Great sense of humor, loves plants and animals, tender heart, open to sharing, great artist, friends support system.

DP – bullied in middle school, parents divorced, chronic health issues, ADHD, lonely, just wants to belong. Kind and polite to all, wants to be successful but lacks skills, great artist.

RL- Parents that have drug dependency, missed over 100 days of school in middle school, started high school by missing over 30 days in the first 3 months, lonely, feels unloved and guarded. Great sense of humor, kind, can laugh at himself.

VK- trouble with the law from a young age, mental illness, ADHD, chaos at home, a parent that is mentally ill, struggles with academics when depressed. Great sense of humor, loves videos about nature, loves plants and animals. Can be successful if allowed to learn own way.

PG- Strict homelife, poor, large family, ADHD, chronic health issues, anxious, hard on self, mental illness. Hard worker, wants to succeed, loves music, can laugh at self, big heart, caregiver, loves to sing, friends- support system.

PJ- Dysfunctional family, mental illness, anxiety, wants to belong, quiet, angry. Loves animals, good friend, kind.

SL- Dysfunctional family, parents don’t speak English, ADHD, large family, mental illness, insecure about body image, insecure about intelligence, first-generation, hard on self.  Great sense of humor, kind, generous, bi-lingual, big heart.

DL- Angry, violent, first-generation, anxiety, mental illness, parents speak little English, a victim of bullying, bully. Funny, sense of humor, great artist, kind, helpful, bi-lingual, hard worker, wants to succeed, big heart, supportive parents.

MK- mentally ill, parent enables, school anxiety, school avoidance, manipulative.  Smart, capable, supportive parents, loves to sing, loves anime, friends- support system.

AI- Angry, bully, on a spectrum, low small motor skills argumentative, Good attendance, loves to sing, friends- support system, supportive family.

AZ- Dysfunctional family, alcohol abuse in family, divorce, parents low functioning, poor attendance, chronic multiple health issues, on the spectrum, school avoidance. Loves puzzles, loves physics and math, has friends- support system, kind, generous, helpful to classmates.

There are more kiddos but these are the main ones.  So many kids have so many strikes against them.  I feel like the only thing I can do is, love them, listen to them, try to give them tools to support them, and remember them.

For the love of teaching

Some things have come to light about my former job and the teachers that were hired after me.  They are things that make me incredibly sad and frustrated that I didn’t pass that fuckin exam in time to get rehired.  Yes, I know the timing wasn’t right anyway.  I know it was way more important that I was here at home to help out with Marion than to be at EDCO but I think about the kids that are there now and how these teachers are selfish, rude and immature.  They are unable to not take things personally with the students.  Grow the fuck up! Seriously?

My chosen profession of Special Education Educator can be quite challenging at times.  If you are especially good at what you do~ ie: not sending kids to the office every hour. You become a dumping ground (I know, bad term) for all the behavior problems that other teachers are struggling with.  I used the word dumping because that is how a weak administration often handles difficult students.  Grouping them all into the category of they must have cognitive weakness otherwise why would they behave so poorly.  At times this could be a good fit for my class or it could be a negative fit.  One student a young lady Patience (names were changed) was put into my mildly cognitive challenged self-contained classroom.  She had quite a few problems going on at home, mom was trying her best but Patience challenged authority of every kind.  So someone said,  oh Patience struggles with the material so let’s put her in Jen’s classroom.  As soon as Patience was placed in my class I knew she was much higher functioning than any of the students in my class.  She quickly went through the assignments with little or no guidance.  I pointed this out to our department chair and administration.  So her schedule was changed, she was put into more appropriate classes.  She refused to do work.  The administrator was pretty savvy started having Patience walk the track whenever she was refusing to work.  For some reason this worked.  Now Patience lost some weight and started receiving attention in a positive way for staying in class and being open to new topics.  The reason the walking around the track helped was she was doing something physical, and she got to talk to a teaching assistant or other special ed. teacher.  But this also worked because it appeared that Patience realized she was important and not to be discarded.

In my current placement, I have a student, Roman.  Roman’s mother died a couple of years ago, it was also at that time he found out he was adopted.  Roman is now living with grandparents.  And English is not their first language, they are also very religious. Roman, is gay and rather low cognitively.  He is very critical of himself constantly putting himself down.  Roman is in a class with some tough students.  Kids that are used to being critical of themselves and others.  I was able to have a little one on one time with Roman the other day.  I told him I didn’t want him to be so critical of himself.  I also told him, I was so happy he was in my class and that I loved him.  I really loved him for his interest in plants and animals. How he thinks of others and is kind.  He started getting a little teary-eyed.  I did too when I realized the reason he was acting out, he didn’t feel loved or wanted.  Just the simply saying that yes, you do matter and you matter to me was enough to help him get back on track.  Is he perfect? No – but he is trying now, which he wasn’t doing before.

My students just want to be seen.

#metoo

So every woman has a story ~ sure most women have multiple stories.  I think it is brave so many women are coming forward and I hope it changes behavior.  I have so many stories I don’t even know where to start.  Getting molested when I was 7 at the beach in Miami when I was just wading in the water- having a stranger teenage boy stick his hand down my swimsuit,  or having jr. high boys or high school boys assume because I developed big breast that this somehow makes me easy and that I want it.  It’s funny after my father died I did want attention from boys or males.

So I decided to take control of my sexuality and I became rather intimidating to most of the boys my age.  I would tell them what I wanted and how I wanted it.  I was confident and sure.

And there were many #metoo experiences that were not asked for.  Many times I would be grabbed or pinched or stalked.  But the time I recently looked back on~ with such great sadness is after my sister and mother passed away.  My boyfriend B.  I was crazy about and he acted like he was crazy about me.  He was very affectionate with me and very attentive.  He was also very sexual.  I didn’t realize that he would masturbate multiple times throughout the day even after we would have sex.  I knew he had a real porn habit and discovered he had naked pictures of old girlfriends.  All of these should have been red flags.  But I was in a vulnerable state~  I was separated and divorcing my ex-husband. I had just lost my sister who was my best friend and my mother in a matter of weeks.  And I had this man who was expressing interest in me.  I wasn’t sleeping a lot initially during that period.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and usually wander downstairs and read or write.  Some nights I would be so tired I took something the doctor prescribed for me to help me relax.  I might actually sleep for 4 or 5 hours on those nights.  One night was like that~ I was tired and just wanted to sleep.  But B.  was feeling horny.  So even though I was asleep he fucked me.  I remember waking up and pushing him off me and telling him no.  But that didn’t stop him.  When he had climaxed he stopped and then rolled over and fell asleep.  I was awake by this point.  WTF?  I stayed with him for 4 more years. But he had 4 daughters that I felt needed love and attention and he wasn’t giving it to them.  So the mother in me stayed for them.   I bought us 2 houses. He lied repeatedly and had emotional affairs with women he met on the internet, and regularly corresponded with an old girlfriend.  He got together with her after he and I broke up.  I emailed her and warned her about his sexual addiction and other issues.  She ended up marrying him.  Better her than me ~ just wish he hadn’t taken so much from me.

Things I wish I could tell my daughters~

Not sure how I should start this~

Dear Emily and Erin,

First of all, I don’t regret marrying your father because he gave me you.  You were able to be raised in a comfortable home though not always conventional. I stayed for you both.  I am so proud of you and what you have become.

The Wedding~

I don’t know how much you know of your parent’s wedding.  We got married at Grandma Pat’s house.  We had a friend of mine who was a judge since your father was an atheist.  We got married on the rug a neighbor gave us that this couple had gotten married on and their marriage lasted over 40 yrs.  Neither Aunt Laura or Florence attended the wedding.  It was very small but then we had a reception a few days later.  The night after the wedding we went out to eat at yet another friend’s new restaurant, He was Italian and a great cook.  Your dad and I stayed at Larry Bird’s Motel ~ the Boston Connection.  It was much fancier than it sounds.

The first few years~

I wish I could tell you it got easier, and some parts did.  I have always been surrounded by a disorder.  I don’t know if it goes back to my learning disability or the way my brain functions.  I am not lazy or stupid.  I do have a zest for life, which was always under the surface.  I think this scared your dad.  I did and would speak to strangers, wear loud bright and colorful clothes, loved to dance, laugh at myself, try new things and wanted to talk, laugh, be goofy and surrounded my stuff.  I don’t think I fit his idea of a wife and mother. My mother told me I needed to have dinner on the table waiting for your dad when he got home.    How I tried, to organize myself and the house.  And your dad didn’t make it easy for me.  But I loved being a mom.  I read every book I could on parenting, feeding your child, discipline, activities to do with your babies.  But then I went back to school, and things got really tough.

Mistakes 

I don’t want to call them mistakes but I did make choices that weren’t always to my highest calling.  I lied to your dad over stupid things~ like getting the internet for free, how much things cost, friends, ideas, issues, and problems.  I learned to just get along and not rock the boat.  I felt like I was walking on eggshells all the time.  Because of that, I know there were times I wasn’t a very good mother.  Times when I wasn’t present or angry at your dad and would take it out on you guys.  I am so sorry.  I realize now I was doing the best that I could to get by.    Your father accused me of sleeping around.  I didn’t.  I did have an active fantasy life.  I read books on improving myself, kept dream journals, gratitude journals, and regular journals.  I wanted to feel love and wanted a partner that liked me and liked to do things with me.  Your father found my dream journal and thought it was my real journal.  Your dad thought I was having an affair with Denzel Washington,  Ellen Degeneres, and others.   He even said to me I guess that why the house is never clean.  I wasn’t.  But I did pretend and dream about meeting various actors or musicians and have them falling in love with me.  I tried to make your dad happy.  But then finally gave up,  I didn’t like who I was becoming.

Aunt Laura~

Laura was my protector, my confidant, my best friend, my hero, and my sister.  I was so proud to have her as my sister.  This was one reason I was so glad that I had two girls. Laura had been Great Grams favorite.  I was definitely not her favorite and she seems to go out of her way to be mean to me.  I got to where I didn’t even notice.  But Laura did and defended me and spoke up for me.  Something my own mother wasn’t able to do.  There was a mother/ daughter luncheon at church, I was pregnant with you Emily.  Amanda was a baby, Aunt Laura, my mom and great gram were all going to attend.  Great gram was saying pretty awful things under her breath about me how I was dressed or something I said or didn’t say.  I guess Laura finally had enough and spoke to her.  Laura spoke to my mom too.  It was the first time, I could remember someone speaking up for me in the family.  I guess that what I wanted to happen when you both were being mean to me after the divorce.  Laura spoke up to your grandma Janet and Dad.  She always said I was the kindest person she knew.   When I lost her and your grandmother I also feel like I lost a bit of my mind.  But I did get the courage to leave your father.

The Loss~ 

Now I wish I hadn’t jumped into a relationship, but sometimes when we are grieving or going through something really hard and horrible we don’t make good decisions.  That was a difficult lesson I had to learn.  Losing you all was the worst.

I wonder~ I have the feeling I should…

So I just watched this video that talked about imagination and how to spur it on~ and it is to say “I wonder” about everything.  So here we go the other thing I am going to work on is my intuition by saying aloud. “I have the feeling I should…”

I wonder how long I will have to wait to find out about my dream job.  I wonder if the weather will continue to stay nice for a bit. I wonder what my dream house will look like.  I wonder when I will find my dream house.  I wonder how I will pay for my dream house.  I wonder how close to the ocean I will be?  I wonder if that light up harness bothers Lucy?  I wonder if my daughters will give me a chance?  I wonder if they will ever see them the way I see them which is beautiful?  I wonder if I will get to go to Cuba? I wonder what I will need to do to be able to afford to go to Cuba?  I wonder if I will have to eat beans when I go to Cuba?  I wonder why my body doesn’t process food the way other people’s bodies do?  I wonder if Mark will ever like any cooking dish I make?  I wonder why I am so disorganized?  I wonder why I love to send people postcards?  I wonder why I like to share joy with so many people?  (Share joy as is sending postcards)

I wonder when I will get to share my gifts with the students of EDCO?  I wonder if my intuition is right and that by listening to my heart I will be going back there.  (Maybe this is a good one for the I have a feeling…)

I have the feeling … and I am afraid to believe it because I want to go back to my old job.  Now the stupid what if… which is not a game I should play.  What if there is something else I am supposed to do.  When will my heart tell me~ ok right now it is telling me.   I have the feeling I shouldn’t even go down this road.  I am so blessed in so many ways.

 

 

 

Things I am really good at

This week’s list is about things I am really good at, so bragging about myself.  I know it is often viewed as in poor taste to ring one’s own bell.  As I write that I am thinking about so many students I have worked with that struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem.  In my, English class students had a warm-up to name one positive quality about themselves.  I had students tell me that didn’t have any good qualities.  I know there are some days I feel like that too.  I feel like I am just taking from the world more than I am contributing to it.  Well back to the list~

I am good at making others feel comfortable.  I often have total strangers telling me their life stories.  When I was riding the T on a  regular basis, I made friends with total strangers.  One woman was going to school to become a minister shared with me her experience about the day of the bombing.  Another person I also met on the T, we became friends when he gave me a ride to the Women’s march in Boston in 2017.  Through the year while riding the T together, I learned about his family and he learned about mine.

Another way I try to spread joy or at least positive thoughts is through my post-it notes.  I have these stick all over post-it notes.  I put inspirational quotes or sayings on these and then leave them random places.  One of my favorite places was to leave them on the T.  At one point I was a topic of conversation on Reddit.  People wanted to know who and or why someone was doing these.  I am not sure how I started doing it other than thinking that Erin and I were riding the same trains maybe if I wrote positive notes she would see them and it would bring a smile to her face.  I could probably do a whole entry on the post-it notes.  Why and how I do them and different interactions I have had with people about them.

I am really good at laughing.  I can find so many things to laugh about throughout the day.  And often I can get those around me to relax enough to laugh too.

I am a really good friend.  I will stick by my friends even when we have grown apart.  I have former teaching assistants that I was especially close to when we were working together, most of the time people then grown apart after they stop working together.  Not me I will continue to send postcards or text messages just to let them know they are still in my thoughts.

I am a great letter writer.  I not only write good letters to people but I actually write letters and mail them the old fashion way. So many people have told me oh you are so good at doing that, I wish I was.  What a cop-out, I do it because it brings me joy and hopefully it brings a little joy the recipient.

I am pretty good at letting things go~  now this is on a few different levels-                    post-it notes.  I write them and then I am done with them.  They are not for me to gain fame or recognition.  They are just something I write hoping to spread a little joy and then let them go. When I have an issue with a person, I say my peace and then I am over it.  If I have a problem with a student the same idea is true for them too.  What happened in the past stays in the past.  Now, I am not perfect about this but for the most part I try to be.

Gallery

Gratitude right now!

So I picked up this book called 52 Lists for Happiness.   I bought it last year and did some of the activities but didn’t write them down in the book.  Probably because this time last year I was working full … Continue reading

Gallery

The Capitalist

This gallery contains 1 photos.

I am very much of the mindset to take life as it comes.  Yes, I work and I have at many times put in too many hours for a job I felt required to do so for it.  After working … Continue reading

Holidays~ Thanksgivings

It’s the wonderful, joy filled time of the holidays.  Family, friends, food, activities, a time to connect and remember.  Growing up a couple of Thanksgivings come to mind~ both of them accord in New York.  The first memory was going to the Macy day parade when I was about 4,  we lived in Brooklyn and this was a big treat.  I was most excited about all the colored paper from the floats so I collected a large amount of the paper.  We (my family went to a restaurant before heading back home.  While I was in the bathroom with my sister, the waitress cleared off the table and threw away my color paper.  (Actually it technically it was trash I picked up off the street.)  The other memory was when I was 16, I was with the Long Walk for Survival in New York City.  I had run away to be close to a boy I fell in love with Charley Grass. That Thanksgiving I joined the group and fasted for Thanksgiving.   I fasted to remember all of the Native Americans that lost their lives for this fun-filled holiday.  The night before Thanksgiving that year  I also fell asleep on James Taylor’s couch. I met him when I was “playing the role of a secretary” for the medicine man Leonard Crowdog.    In some ways that was a very lonely Thanksgiving.

Other memories of the holidays ~ going to visit my cousins in KY.

Or when my father would invite faculty and or students that didn’t have any place to go.   These were usually foreign or visiting students.  They would bring a dish to share.  Then after my mother married my stepfather ~ we always had a house full.  We sat around the big table, and laughed and ate and told stories.  We always had a puzzle on a table in one room and would play a board game after the meal.

The first Thanksgiving my now ex-husband shared with us.  He told me it was his favorite holiday.  He also told me my mother was a much better cook than his mother.  He also told me I was a better cook than his mother.  I wish he remembered when he was telling his mother cutting remarks a few years later. But he got to see how we celebrated family~ and that was through sharing.

After we got married I continued the family tradition of inviting faculty or exchange students to our house for the holiday.  I loved opening up my home and sharing food with new friends and family.  It also worked out well when my brother Randy married a wonderful cook April and she would come and help. I would make very traditional dishes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, apple pie.  One year I made a very fancy pumpkin pecan torte 7 layers.

Another Thanksgiving,  Don (my ex) got us invited over to a colleague’s house but the turkey took much much longer to cook than his friend knew. His friend was very embarrassed but we explained it was all good. They were a young couple and this was their first holiday meal they were sharing.    I had planned to host guests at my house too.  Luck for me my brothers and niece felt comfortable going into my house and getting things ready without me.

But my biggest memory throughout those celebrations later when my sister and her family were unable to share it with us.  Were the phone calls from my sister,  she would start off calling me about 7am on Thanksgiving and tell me her big plans for the turkey.  One year she found a recipe in the New York Times ~ this is going to be the best turkey ever.  She would call me throughout the day keeping me up to date as to how her meal was progressing.  Things started off positive and then would take a turn and she would call to tell me she was having this problem and what should she do.  I would advise her.  Then she would call back a few minutes later telling me something she decided to try instead.  I believe that was the year the turkey was raw on the inside and burnt on the outside.  She said, well Martha Stewart isn’t a good choice.  The next year, it would start all over again.  I would always advise her to go simple~  turkeys should be moist and don’t need much to make them taste good.  Her phones calls seemed to follow a script.  We would laugh and how things were going or not going.  This happened for a few years till she called to tell me they were just going to have lobster and picked them up at Whole Foods.

 

 

 

My sister, spaceship tattoos, and cancer

Laura was ten years older than me, and she was my idol.  When I was 18, she and I shared an apartment at the start of the school year.  Her boyfriend Ron started off with us also in that apartment but then moved out and on with his life a couple of months later.  So Laura, her dog Shiner and I fell into a rhythm  ~ we were both taking classes at the local university, she was working as a waitress at a bar/ club.  I was searching for myself and dating lots of guys, going out and dancing and enjoying my youth.  Laura was working but also enjoyed dancing and just hanging out. Living with Laura was always an adventure.  She was protective, yet wouldn’t hesitate to tell me to get off my butt and stop whining.

Laura and I both had our own bathrooms and its funny but many of our conversations took place in one of our bathrooms. Our conversation about her tattoo was no different.  She was in her tub when she told me she wanted a spaceship tattoo.  She wanted to have either people or an alien waving from the inside of the ship.  This was back in 1982 before tattoos became mainstream.  Laura explained she was going to go up to Chicago and make a trade with some tattoo artist.  I am not sure if she was planning on exchanging beadwork or what really.  I don’t think she knew either.  I was not happy about this idea at all.  I felt that tattoos were for other people, not my beautiful sister.   I begged her not to do it.  But she did, that January, she got a spaceship tattoo over her left breast.  It was about 2 inches wide and about an inch and half tall. It was colorful and had a little person on the inside waving or maybe I just imagined that part.  She didn’t make a trade but paid cash for it.  She said she drank some whiskey to help with the pain when she was getting it.   Great now I had a sister with a tattoo~ a spaceship tattoo.

Fast forward~ almost 20 years. Laura was living with her husband and her dark-haired beautiful daughter when she found out she had breast cancer on the same breast as her tattoo.  I had lost a best friend a couple of years earlier to breast cancer so I was very nervous and upset to hear this news.  Laura being the big sister that she always was ~ wanted to reassure me that, she was going to survive this and not to worry.   So Laura started having the talk with her doctor about her plan of action.  Living in the Boston area she was fortunate enough to be surrounded by excellent doctors and proven cancer treatments. This was some reassurance but still, I had not only lost a close friend recently but I lost my father to cancer when I was 13.  And my sister was now my best friend I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.  So Laura opted for standard traditional western treatment with a few eastern treatments as well.

Surgery would be the first treatment.  I made plans to fly out after she returned home to help take care of her and her daughter.  So her husband could continue working and supporting the family.  I would sleep on my niece’s top bunk.  I fixed meals, did laundry, and cleaning.  And I helped Laura take a shower.  Laura opted for a lumpectomy so they only took part of her breast.  Laura wanted me to really look at her scar and pointed out to me that she still had her spaceship tattoo.  I had to laugh.  Yes, Laura you still have your tattoo.  She told me this was one of her concerns she was told she had cancer.  Seriously sister?  You were concerned about losing your tattoo?  She told me she asked the doctor if they had to take the skin with the tattoo on it.  She wanted to keep it.  Yes, keep the skin with the spaceship tattoo. She said, and she told him she wanted to put it in a jar so she could still keep it.  I guess it was lucky for all of us that the surgery only took part of her breast.