Baby Steps to the Future

One woman's attempt to breakdown panic inducing goals like a career and family life through tiny, approachable steps.

Vigilante Inspired Change

It’s been some time since my last post but life has changed (for the better). I now get to work with Goodwill Industries, helping people with disabilities learn job skills. The past three months have been full of some amazing learning experiences (for my clients and myself) and I finally feel like I have some brain space free to write again! 

My other half and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises today and my head (literally) aches from the experience. Christopher Nolan and all of the actors deserve all the praise they have received for the trio of films that can truly show the non-graphic novel appreciating world the depth of stories in this genre. Yes, I guessed the twists and yes, some of the lines were rather cheesy, but my art film tastes were not the only ones to satisfy.

What stuck with me throughout the film, as I walked to the car and as I sit here typing now is an ache for the disenfranchised (specifically those who are homeless and experience mental illness) who accept and embrace violence to reclaim power. I could not help but picture the people in that movie theater in Colorado as I watched the people on the screen attempt to reason with those who cannot be understood. Fighting within the system against the huge problem that is helping those with disabilities and experiencing homelessness to help themselves can feel overwhelming and useless.

Working at Goodwill, I know that I don’t solve all of these problems. However, what I see everyday through those I work with and knowledge that I see given out by others around me give me hope. I have hope that through tools like self-confidence, job skills, resume and interview assistance, medication, counseling, housing assistance and the knowledge that there are still individuals and groups that HONESTLY want them to succeed, people will push themselves to their goals. I so strongly agree with Albert’s speech in the middle of the film, which stresses that the way things change in this broken, sad, advanced society we live in is by helping those who cannot help themselves. In the spirit of Goodwill, I believe that the way that works is “A Hand Up, Not a Handout.” Care to join me?

More sweet than bitter, bitter than sweet

I have always loved sweets and chocolate in particular. As a child, as with most children, milk chocolate was my favorite. Along the way, my palate has changed. I’m not sure if it was the journey to adulthood or marrying a man who has become a chef, but somehow that old stuff just won’t do anymore. Now only dark chocolate excites my senses (especially if it has sea salt, citrus or spices). I love that bittersweet, rich, complex flavor that can only be consumed in small doses. 

Watching the movie “Adam” tonight reminds me of this shift in desires. Bittersweet, truthful and complex, the film tells the story of human meets human with something extra. Adam is a young man, with Asperger Syndrome and newly living on his own, who begins a relationship with his new neighbor, Beth. Adam and Beth follow the path of most “boy meets girl” romance partners, with the addition of some humor, lots of awkward honesty, and a few tears. The movie was nominated for, and won, some awards but mainly fell under the public’s radar and this is a shame. I know that there are no new stories but this is at least a fresh and welcome re-telling of our classic romance tales.

More than anything else, though, watching “Adam” makes me want to wake up tomorrow to work with the differently-abled population again. My focus has shifted from teaching to occupational therapy, but my motivation is the same: help others focus on the goals to make life better and more productive. As I read the reviews from the asperger population about “Adam,” I saw that many people worry that autism and asperger syndrome need to be cured, when they see it as just a part of their lives. This may be the case, but we all still have to work in the world in which we live. The desire to work with people the world views as strange, different or “less than” is pushing up through my dreams, thoughts and waking moments in a way I cannot ignore. I have tasted the joys of work that fulfills my soul and I must return to it!

Rollin, rollin, rollin…

So I thought the first blog would be the hardest to write, but the third is not proving itself to be easy either!

In light of my upcoming move (not drastic, just apartment to apartment within the same city) I will take action on my day off instead of lying about, watching episodes of The Soup. (Those things are highly addictive. DO NOT watch one clip, unless you plan to spend hours watching many more.) The necessary drudgery of wading through papers, clothes and random bric-a-brac before moving is not exactly how I want to spend hours on end tomorrow. Will an upbeat channel on Pandora, sunlight through the window and the threat of having to pack it all the night before be enough to motivate me? Good lord I hope so. 

These past few weeks I’ve been really appreciating the things I’ve loved about living out in the ‘burbs. I have the largest bathroom I may ever enjoy using in my entire life. I feel as though I’m in a spa when the candles are lit and I’m relaxing in the garden tub. My view as I drive to work and see beautiful Hill Country laid out in front of me often takes my breath away. The fancy grocery store near my house often makes Whole Foods unnecessary. I will also very, very cherrily give up all of these things for moving to civilization.

January of 2012 is about accepting where you are, making the best of it, and getting off your butt towards the next, better thing!

The Girl In the Mirror

The Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror” caught my attention the minute I first heard it as a child. As I got older, and started really paying attention to lyrics in general, I loved it even more for what it meant as well as the catchy sound. The song popped into my head out of nowhere this week and I’m pretty sure the Forces That Be made that happen for a reason. It’s time to push through some things and either work on changing them or let them go.

This week I’ve really noticed that the behaviors I see in others that make me feel the craziest are the behaviors I sometimes see in myself, specifically self-righteous bossiness and talking over others. I see these behaviors in coworkers, customers, students and peers and in my head I’m screaming, “ENOUGH!” From here on out, instead of retreating into my preaching, teacher-like lecture in my head whenever I see this, I will instead be doing some yoga breathing and focus on other activities. I will remember the glazed-over eyes and annoyance I see in the faces of those receiving lectures when I find myself tempted to over-talk or correct the behavior of others. I will realize there is a difference between understanding what needs to be done in work, life and relationships and preaching that information to the world. 

One of my best friends on this planet asks his friends on their birthday every year what their “birthday resolutions” are. In the past, I must admit, I have laughed this idea away, just as I have New Years resolutions. However, I think it is not a coincidence that recent commitments to working health and exercise into my daily routine began less than a month before my birthday. I’m going to be adding these newest resolutions to the mental health category and work to make that girl in the mirror confident, composed and content day after day.

Beginning in the middle

Nobody ever said that pursuing a career would be easy, so why did I think that would be the case? 

First, I would like to thank the universe for simply letting me find a calling and have people I respect inform me I could exceed at said calling. As someone who has been in the working world for over a decade, I know how rare that is. 

After spending merely a month working with high school special education students as a job coach in Atlanta, GA I knew teaching this group was what I was called to do. Many people cringe, get dreamy/googly eyes or patronizing smiles when I tell them the career I wish to pursue because it’s not for everyone. When I look at these students, all I can see is the productive, happy and unique adults they could be if given the right guidance and support. I know that there are others who just see a waste of their tax dollars given to the school system.

I spent nearly four years in Atlanta working with these amazing young people and trying to find a masters/certificate program to become a classroom teacher. Most programs seemed to help, but were too expensive or not the exact degree I needed. In one of the most frustrating moments of my life, I found the perfect program, paid to apply, and then had to have my money refunded because the prerequisites changed.

Moving to Austin was mainly for my husband’s business plans but a program at Texas State has given me hope anew. The program is for adults like me who didn’t know at 20 years old that Special Education was their life’s path. I’ve just begun to work up to applying for this program I keep hearing accolades for and am scared out of my mind that it won’t work out. However, the biggest disappointment I believe I could ever have in my life would be not pursuing my dream of walking each day into my classroom, to see my students, and to work on pushing each and every one of them to be the most productive, self-confident, and courageous individuals they could be.


Without a doubt, that would be a book. If it is a book of substance however, it no longer feels like an inanimate object as it has transported me to a very real place.