Our Crazy ADHD Road Trip Continues!

As you all know by now, A and I set off for adventure last week – looking for anything that struck our fancy.

Okay, we had a list of things we wanted to see and we set out to find out just how many of them we could cram into our week. I can honestly say I was glad to be leaving Atlanta on Wednesday morning and heading to greener pastures. Or greener mountains. Leaving Georgia we were excited to find the Talladega National Byway – and along this byway, Alabama’s highest point, Mount Cheaha (2,407 feet above sea level.)

Our first stop in Alabama, however, turned out to be a welcome center where we met a lovely woman named Shirley Jean. I tell ya, I would have packed that lady up in the car with us because I guarantee you, she would have been a hoot.

A and I pulled into the welcome center and went inside to grab a few travel brochures. The place had a nice little back porch with crepe myrtle trees blooming pink, so we walked outside. That’s when we met Shirley Jean. She approached me and asked if I wanted her to take our picture. She said folks just loved getting their pictures taken with the Sweet Home Alabama sign. A and I didn’t want to tell her we were FROM Alabama, and before we knew it, we were taking pictures in front of crepe myrtle trees, alongside a lovely rock wall, and of course, underneath the infamous Sweet Home Alabama sign.

She told us how sweet we were, and how precious A was. Turns out she had lost her own daughter to leukemia years ago when the girl was just thirteen. She said it never goes away, the loss, but she knew where her baby girl was and that made her happy. She talked about road trips, best friends, her husband that worried about her when she got too far away from home, and all the wonderful people she’d gotten to meet working at the welcome center. She talked especially fondly of a family of five generations that she got to talk to out on that back porch and she was quite proud of the fact that she’d taken their photo and gotten a hug from each and every one of them, from the oldest to the smallest.

Our road trip truly began that morning, there at the Alabama welcome center with Ms. Shirley Jean, who hated her name, but figured if her mama had cursed her with the most boring name ever given, that she would be bound and determined to make sure her personality at least was unique to make up for it. I think she did a fine job. She was one of the most genuine and delightful people I’ve ever met. As we were leaving, she was bent there at the sidewalk pulling stray weeds, but she gave us a wave and wished us a safe trip.

Soon we were on the Talladega scenic byway. This lovely stretch of road is 26 miles long along State Route 281 stretching from just west of Heflin, Alabama to the intersection of two unpaved roads in the Talladega National Forest.  And of course, at the road’s highest point, you are on Cheaha Mountain.

I’m telling you, I don’t need the Rockies, although I know they are beautiful. I am just as content with the green of the Applachian mountains. Just getting near them gets me feeling all happy inside.

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Now we’re getting somewhere!

A took gobs of pictures as we wound our way toward Mt. Cheaha, and we pulled over at each and every scenic overlook, jumping out of the car and giggling like schoolgirls. At some point, I even think I was sporting a wildflower crown. 🙂

The drive was just gorgeous, and I’d only been to Cheaha once, long ago, so it was kind of fun to be there again. There had been an observation tower you could climb, and I was kind of surprised to see it still there.

My knees were a bit stiff afterward, (okay, it wasn’t THAT high up, but still, my bum knee was not impressed.) The stairwell itself was dark, musty, and just plain smelly. The observation deck was hot, but it’s a nice view.

The outside of the little building was pretty darned cute though.

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Cute on the outside. Musty on the inside. Worth it? Of course.

After the tower we found our way to Bald Mountain. Here is where you can really look out and see the mountains. Hawks make slow, lazy circles in the air below you (yes, below) and you can just soak up all the scenic awesomeness. You can choose a trail through the forest to get there, or there is a wonderful accessible walkway that takes you to the lookout.

Going in, we met an elderly gentleman coming out. He stopped to say good morning and he was just a delightful fellow, with his jaunty little sun hat and smiling eyes. He told us that he lived fifty four miles away and came here twice a month. He said he appreciated the gifts nature had given us and was determined to enjoy them. But what he seemed to REALLY enjoy that morning was the fact that the lady at the gate recognized him from his many visits and only charged him $2 that morning instead of the customary $5 park entrance fee. I don’t think she will ever know just how much that made his day.

Now do you want to hear a story about these mountains? Of course you do. Who doesn’t love a little mountain lore?

The legend goes that many years before white man infiltrated the forests of Alabama, there was a tribe of Native Americans living in the central portion that is now the county of Talladega. The chief was named Choccolocco; a great and mighty chief. His only daughter, Princess Talladega, was the fairest maiden in all the realm, and Choccolocco treasured her above all his possessions. He began to search for a suitable partner for his beloved daughter. Chiefs old and young, powerful and rich, from far and near all set out to make offers to Choccolocco for his daughter’s hand. But Talladega asked her father for time. She wanted a love to come along that she could treasure.

Time passed and one morning, while fetching water, Talladega met a handsome young warrior. The two started meeting in secret, their love for one another growing stronger every day. One morning, Talladega approached her father’s cabin and heard voices. Her father was bargaining with Cheaha, an old chief from a neighboring tribe, for her hand. Talladega was dismayed when her father told her that Cheaha was his chosen suitor for her, and that soon she would be leaving to follow Cheaha to his home.

The next morning, Talladega snuck off to see her warrior, Coosa. He possessed no property and was helpless to win Talladega in the eyes of her father. Coosa was so overcome with sorrow at the thought of losing his love, that he plunged into the surrounding wilderness, wandering up and down the banks of the stream for days. His thoughts were solely on Talladega, and he could see her reflected in all that was around him.

He came out of the forest determined to win Talladega. He went to Choccolocco and stated his case. While he had no property or anything of value, he knew where valuable minerals were, and could direct Choccolocco to them, and Choccolocco would then be richer and more powerful than any other chief. Choccolocco agreed to give Coosa a chance to show him these riches. Unfortunately for Coosa, Cheaha overheard his plan, and knew he had to put a stop to it. Cheaha sent for two people. A warrior to follow Coosa, and his medicine man.

Cheaha’s medicine man had something very powerful. He had discovered an herb that could put anyone immediately to sleep; not to waken until the antidote was given, and he alone knew what the antidote was. That night, while Coosa slept, Cheaha and his medicine man crept upon him, the medicine man administering his herb. When Cheaha was certain that the desired effect had in fact been reached, he turned on his medicine man and killed him, so that no one would ever know how to wake Coosa.

Choccolocco, waiting for Coosa, became annoyed when the warrior did not appear, so he ordered preparations for the wedding of Talladegea to Cheaha to commence.

Talladega had discovered her sleeping warrior, and had made secret visits to him while he slept as the wedding preparations were being made. She became so unhappy as the wedding day approached, that Cheaha told her that Coosa could never be awakened.

When the day of the wedding came, Talladega was nowhere to be found. The area was searched, and finally she was found, lying dead on the breast of her sleeping love.

The drug, while powerful enough to keep Coosa always asleep, also had the power to make him grow. While lying there sleeping, he has grown through the centuries until he has become a great giant, a mountain many miles long. Mother Nature has blanketed him with earth, and given him trees, shrubs, and wildflowers to protect him. He lies there, dreaming of his beloved maiden.

It’s a great story – and forgive me if I did not get it exactly right. I’ve heard different versions, and this is what I remember.

Now you know I have to include some more photos from Cheaha, right? You’re welcome.

We ate lunch at the restaurant there, and the food, while mediocre, was made much better by the view. At lunch it’s a buffet, so A got a piece of cake. She sat there, trying to eat it, and I kid you not, this cake was so dry, when she put her fork to it it crumbled. She didn’t say anything, just kept playing with it, then finally said, “This cake tastes like forty year old Oompa Loompa poop.”

Now that, folks, if you don’t know, is some seriously bad cake! I told her to shift her chair facing the windows and see if the view improved it. She did so and said that yes, as a matter of fact it did, but she didn’t think it was safe to eat any more of it. Honestly, the food wasn’t THAT bad..although I steered clear of dessert. I had some grapes. They were delicious. The staff was friendly, like I said, the view was heavenly, and who knows? Maybe the food is better at night.

I would have stayed all day. Okay, all week, but it was soon time to move on. Leaving Cheaha I wound (and I do mean wound!) my way through the national forest on the way to our next stop in Anniston.

Funny thing about Anniston. We’d put it on our list because we read that there was a museum there that held Hitler’s silver tea service. Um, huh? I don’t know why, but this amused us to no end. Hitler’s dishes in Anniston Alabama? How? Why? It is listed on several websites as one of those odd places to visit, so we couldn’t wait to get there!

This post is getting longer than I intended, so guess what? You’ll have to wait until next installment for all the info on Hitler’s tea service. I know you’re sad.

Til tomorrow!

 

 

Our Crazy ADHD Road Trip – Part Two!

Day Three – More coasters

Day Three of our Road Trip was the final day of theme park madness. I have to say I reached my limit for this kind of fun fairly early in the day. Being a Tuesday though, there really weren’t any lines so A started the day with the biggest coaster in the park (that she hadn’t gotten to ride the day before) and she rode it five times without getting off. After the fifth go round she got off, got me, and I rode it with her for number six. We went one more time to make her total on the Goliath seven times. We pretty much continued like that for most of the morning. There weren’t any lines, so A was able to ride multiple times every time. A summer thunderstorm shut us down for a while, and after that, and a few more rides, I was beyond grateful when around 5:00 A said she’d had enough. The heat, humidity, stench of B.O., crying children, and grumpy parents were all finally enough. Thank goodness. The park closed at nine that night and I don’t think I could have held on that long. Did I mention it was hot??

We went to eat that night and witnessed something that had A in tears as we tried to put it in perspective and see the good in it.

Sitting right by us was a very elderly couple. They didn’t talk much as they ate, and when he reached over to put butter on her bread she yelled at him. He cursed under his breath and went back to his dinner. We kind of smiled at this, thinking nothing more of it than they had probably been together many years and were picking at one another. However, when they went to leave, he, who was very unsteady himself, was trying to help her up and get her situated on her walker. I knew he was telling her something, but his voice was low. As he talked she started getting louder, insisting she had won a prize and they told her she could take it with her. He was in front of her, trying to explain to her that it was not a prize, no one told her to take it, and if she did she would be stealing. His voice was quiet and calm, and we saw that what she was clinging to was the restaurant’s dessert menu.

She became increasingly agitated, her voice growing very loud as he continued to try to reason with her. A was trying not to cry as she realized what was truly happening. Then the lady screamed at the top of her lungs at the man, and told him they told her to take it – and she slapped him. Hard. He was silent a moment before he said, “Please, honey, you just can’t take things.” She insisted they told her it was hers. He sighed and tried to help her to her feet and they shuffled off, her clinging desperately to her prize. He’d left his cane, so A ran after them. When she got back she sat down, looked at her food and said she thought she was done.

I told her to think of it this way – true love was seeing your spouse through the worst of times and loving her even though she wasn’t really her anymore – and being gentle even when she was violent. Maybe they’d had a lot of good years and a whole lifetime of memories – but this was part of it too. This was life.

She thought a moment and said she doubted she would ever find that kind of love; someone who would love her like that. I told her to strive instead to BE that kind of love.

Watching her later that night playing in the pool at the motel with some kids, I already know what kind of person she is. I already know she IS that kind of love. No doubt.

I’m going to end this one right here. Tomorrow I will write about our adventures in the Talladega National Forest, as well as a pretty cool museum full of weapons and spy gear. And a few interesting surprises.  The really great stories are coming up – so stay tuned!

 

Road Tripping ADHD Style-Part One

Last week A and I had the chance to hit the open road on vacation.

We’ve done a lot of things in the past, so this time we decided to stick relatively close to home – or well, we decided to road trip through our home state of Alabama. When we first started to envision this trip, we decided we were going to visit as many oddball or just plain hokey sites that we could. That trip of course would have taken several weeks to complete, so we left home with a general idea of the direction we wanted to take and decided to play it by ear. All I can say is after this vacation I pretty much need a full body massage and a couple weeks to sleep and recuperate!

A couple weeks before our trip A was talking about roller coasters. she loves them, but last time we were in an amusement park although there were some she could ride, there were many that she could not. I decided, at pretty much the last minute, to include roller coasters on this trip because I don’t know when we might get another chance. So – I chopped off the beginning portion of our trip (We were were going to begin in Hunstsville and wind our way downward) decided to begin in Atlanta at Six Flags, do the whole roller coaster thing for two days, then shoot back into Alabama at the Talladega Scenic Byway and be on our way.

So the big day finally arrived.

A and I hopped in the car in search of thrill rides, back road curiosities, and inner peace.

I have to say, I LOVE vacationing with my ADHD girl. We have the best time, and even getting there is awesome when you do it singing metal music at the top of your lungs and having extremely interesting car conversations.

Day One – Getting There

I was a bit nervous here because A spent the weekend at a retreat and I’d decided to leave as soon as I picked her up and head on to Atlanta where we could be there and ready for Six Flags Monday morning. I really wasn’t certain if it was the best idea ever to pick a teenaged ADHD’er up from a weekend spent with no sleep and put her in a car for 5 1/2 hours. I figured she’d sleep the whole way, so I didn’t worry about the scenic route for this first portion of our jaunt. I grabbed my kid and hit the interstate.

She looked amazing when I picked her up. She was positively glowing. She had that “retreat high.” She’d had an awesome weekend and was excited to share it with me. For the first hour and a half of our trip she told me all about her weekend and the impact it had on her. She called the retreat “life changing.” She was able to hear talks from adults as well as teens, spent time talking with others, sharing their lives, their faith and their struggles, and praying together. She talked about how inspiring it had all been, and how much the kindness of her peers, some she’d never even met, touched her. After that, she fell asleep but she was awake two hours later and we finished the drive singing – until she thought about something else from the weekend she wanted to tell me. We talked and laughed, finally arriving at our motel she was exhausted and took a shower and some melatonin and feel into a deep sleep – dreaming of roller coasters, no doubt!

Day 2 – Let the fun begin!

I can honestly say I don’t remember ever being as exhausted as I was when we got back to our hotel Monday night.

I used to love roller coasters, but maybe I’m getting old, because all I could think as we pulled into the parking lot at Six Flags ( A $25 parking spot, I may add, so I was kind of disappointed that the space did not come with a car wash, or something that would have made it worth twenty five bucks on top of the already pricey park ticket) was that it was a thousand billion degrees out and I must be losing my mind.

I did ride a couple rides this first day, but even though I’ve checked out okay, some health concerns this year had me questioning whether or not I should get on some of the wilder rides. So, sadly, A rode most of the rides alone this first day. Also, unfortunately, most of the roller coasters were only running on and off all day. There ended up being only one she didn’t get to ride but we knew we’d get to do it all over again the next day and hopefully they wouldn’t have to keep closing rides down.

I would have liked to have been more excited about it all on Monday, and maybe it was the heat, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

One of the other things I really wasn’t feeling, was the way some people dress!

Okay – it says clearly in the park, and also on my ticket, if I’m not mistaken, that if you are wearing a shirt that says something inappropriate that you will be asked to leave…it says you must be wearing a shirt. So why is it, please tell me, that some woman can walk around in a man’s white sleeveless undershirt – shirt drenched and soaking wet and SHE’S NOT WEARING A BRA! I see her boobies sagging and swaying and through the thin, wet material I can even see the bumps around her nipples! EWWWWWW!  Now WHY can no one ask HER to leave? I might not want to read vulgar t- shirt slogans but I sure as hell didn’t want to see THAT either!! Then of course there are the little girls that you wonder what’s going to become of them when they grow up. There’s this kid running around, looks all of twelve. She’s wearing cut off shorts, and yeah, you can guess how short they are, cowboy boots (really? in this heat?) and a man’s white t-shirt (at least it was dry – or it was when I saw her) but she’s cut just the tops of sleeves out, like in jagged circles (you know, like some version of the cute tops that girls are wearing with the cut outs?) But I’m looking at this little girl and I don’t know, the whole look, or maybe it was the way she was carrying herself just kind of looked like she was going for the cowgirl hooker look. I often wonder if some girls have parents. I saw one girl walking around with her father and the the girls butt cheeks were hanging out of the bottom of her shorts. I cannot imagine walking around with my father with my backside showing. No way. And my mother would have beat me with a 2×4 if I had tried to leave the house like that. I do NOT want to look at little girl’s fannies. Gross.

I’m going to close off this segment with a quick (or not so quick, knowing me) word to the woman whose baby I picked up and carried up the stairs back at our motel. Now, I don’t know this woman, and it’s too much to hope she’d ever see this – BUT –

Thank you for not punching me or kicking me down the stairs when I picked up your little boy. He was trying to navigate those stairs as best he could with his short little toddler legs and one shoe – but he stumbled and fell. You were already halfway up, so I tried to set him upright again when he turned his crying face to me and held up his little arms. All I could do was pick him up. I tried to ask you if it was okay, I mean, I understand that there are people up to no good in this world, but you had your back to us and were ahead, so I guess you didn’t hear me.

Yes, I was starting to silently judge you right about then, I’ll admit it. So I picked him up and he was so wet it had soaked through his pants, but I gathered him and his shoe and carried him up with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. We get to the top and you are opening the door to your room. I felt the need to say something, so I just told you that he was holding his arms out to me and I hoped it was okay that I went ahead and picked him up. You said, “It’s fine.” Nothing more. I tried to stand him up on his feet, but he wrapped his legs around me as much as he could and wouldn’t let go. It was a bit awkward, really. Finally I got him to let go and you said, “It’s his first time in a motel.” I said I hoped you had a good night.

But I noticed something then. I noticed the exhausted look in your eyes. Or was it defeat? I stopped judging and tried to think deeper.

Maybe you were just tired from your journey, but maybe there was more to it than that. Maybe you are going through a rough time right now. When I got back to my room, I thought about you and your little boy and I said a little prayer for you – for safe travels, for strength, and for happiness in your life. Take care of yourself and that precious baby. Good luck to you.

Tomorrow I get to do the theme park thing again, but then we get to have a more relaxing time. BUT – seeing A’s face and her grin when she gets off a ride made it all worth it. This was something she really wanted to do, but didn’t want to ask me, so I was glad to be able to do it for her.

Stay tuned for the rest of our crazy ADHD Road Trip – things get pretty interesting! 🙂

Summertime!

Howdy, folks! Yep, I’m still here, haven’t faded into the elusive mist or gotten lost on some lonely country road.

It’s summertime! Woohoo! I love it when A- is out of school. My biggest complaint is that it just whooshes by so fast we scarcely get to really enjoy it. Or so it seems.

Things have been crazy quiet, actually. There haven’t really been any super exciting ADHD mishaps or catastrophes. We are pretty much just hanging out and laying low. A- has been pretty busy actually, helping out at church and spending time with friends, which I will not begrudge her as this is the first summer of her existence that she has really had friends to hang out with. Like regularly. She should enjoy that. The teen years are fleeting at best and she deserves some good memories.

Other than that, I’m just trying to enjoy our time before school is back in session. There are some major changes coming our way, and I don’t really know where we will be next summer or how much time we will have to just hang out. If we are lucky we will get in a road trip before summer’s end. THAT should be fun!!

So what’s new? Let’s see…we’ve welcomed a second feline into our little group and now our Maggie has a big brother to play with. Our boy Alex is a cuddler, and he works wonders for A-s anxiety and depression. And at night when the bad dreams come? He stirs himself and crawls right up under her chin and nuzzles her head to let her know he’s there for her. He’s a sweet one, and little Maggie took to him a whole lot quicker than I expected her fiery self would.

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I’m working on a couple of manuscripts or should I say trying desperately to just concentrate on one of them but thoughts for the other keep popping into my head? That’s okay. One is nearly complete and the other is just begun.

I’ll probably also be on the hunt for a used car soon – which should be as much fun as a root canal. And speaking of root canals I think I need one of those too.

A’s been working on her summer assignments for school and also working on her art. She’s been drawing some pretty awesome mandala designs. That’s sort of new for her, as for the past few years she has concentrated primarily on monsters and eerily macabre doodlings. (Last school year I got a phone call asking if there should be any concern over her drawing of an eyeball with a knife sticking in it on the back of an English exam. Nope. No concern. Just A- doing her thing. lol) She also draws quite a bit on herself. I don’t even try anymore to dissuade her. I’m sure my mother thinks she is going to die of ink poisoning, but pick your battles, right? This week’s artwork was a tribal design that went from her upper thigh down to her ankle. People on the street kept stopping us to ask her if they could look at it and if it was real. Heehee.

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I don’t have a good photo of the leg design, but I’ll make sure to get one next time she gets artsy on herself!

I guess that about wraps things up for now. Not much to get excited about I guess, but that’s just how it is sometimes. Me? I’m just practicing being in the moment, enjoying my girl, hanging with the kitties, writing my heart out and doing my best to be a decent person and to learn something new every day. 🙂

 

 

NewLifeOutlook is Introducing a new Browser Extension and I got to Test it out!

First off guys, let me say that if you know anything at all about me, you know that I don’t know much about tech stuff. I can use my computer. End of story. I don’t tinker with it, add to it, or take away from it. I don’t tweak it or meddle around with things I know nothing about.

So when New Life Outlook told me they were going to introduce a new browser extension for Chrome – and asked if I’d like to sample it and write a review about it, I was, quite honestly, a little afraid.

I had no idea what a browser extension did. Yes, I’m serious, so stop laughing.

First off, I had a heck of a time even getting the extension installed, but when I did, I knew it was purely from my lack of knowledge than anything faulty with the downloading or actual installation of the extension. It was, as a matter of fact, quite easy to do.

The only other problem I had was that after I installed the extension and used it, the next time I turned on my computer, Chrome had disabled the extension because it didn’t come from the Chrome Web Store. I spoke with someone who told me the only way I could get it re-enabled was to have the developer add the extension to the Web Store.

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Too bad they disabled my extension!

Now, the New Life Outlook extension is due to be released May 30, so it won’t be in the web store until then, so although I was able to use the extension and test it out, I didn’t get to spend as much time with it as I would have liked before giving it a review.

Luckily, I spent quite a bit of time with it when I first installed it. What follows is my personal opinion of the New Life Outlook browser extension for Chrome. I look forward to being able to enable it once it’s out.

Again – May 30 – so coming soon!!

Let me apologize in advance for the poor quality of my photos. I was hoping to get better ones, but that was before I knew Chrome was going to ever so politely disable my extension. So crappy photos it has to be. Sorry guys.

Okay, now on to what this browser extension does and what I thought of it!

Once the browser extension was enabled, a little NLO icon appeared in the top right of my toolbar. Clicking on it opened a new tab with NewLifeOutlook features.

The first thing it asked was my name. Once that was put in it gave me a menu to choose conditions I was interested in. I chose ADHD, Anxiety, Asthma, and Depression.  Oh – just a side note here when I entered my name there was nothing to click to make it do anything. I hit the enter key and that didn’t work. I couldn’t submit the name I’d just typed. Until I zoomed out a little. My screen was at 100% – I had to change that and back off to about 75% before the “submit” button came into view under the line for my name. Just a heads up on that one.

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There is a long list of conditions you can choose from to get articles that are tailored to your interests.

It then asked me which news feeds I wanted to subscribe to. For general news I chose The Mighty, Healthy Living Today, and Health.com. For health news related to the conditions I had chosen, I picked Science Daily – ADHD news, Medical News Today – ADHD information, Psych Central – ADHD news, Healthline – mental health news, and Science Daily- depression news.

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You can choose several different news feeds, up to a maximum of sixteen, so you can keep up with all the most recent health news!

This was all pretty simple to do, as the screen prompted me with each step. Once I’d made my choices, there was my home screen, with a search bar and a link to a recommended article from New Life Outlook.

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All of your settings are a click away in a box on the left hand side of your screen. From there you can manage your conditions and your news feed,  create a to-do list (I immediately put in my daughter’s next doctor and counseling appointments,) and you can also choose from a few different background images and colors. (notice I started with the default cup coffee and coffee beans in the background then opted for a nice waterfall.)

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Settings are in a column on the left side of the screen. All you have to do to access it is to click the handy settings icon on the bottom of the list.
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I love the to-do list feature!

Next to that is a button for nlo – click that and you are given a listing of articles you can choose to read from New Life Outlook on the conditions that interest you, and there is also a little heart. Each of those articles have a heart in the top right corner and if you click it, that article is added to your favorites so you can always come back to it. Pretty helpful, I thought!

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you can scroll through articles here and click on the ones you want to read
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Just click that red heart and it puts this article in your favorites for quick access!
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Your favorites is a handy list of articles you’ve saved.

I never spend a lot of time on the “home screen” for my browser. I know I can set it up so that it shows news feeds, and any other information I’d like to keep handy – but I don’t use it. Never have.

What I liked about this browser extension was that it’s something I would use. The news is relevant to me. It’s information I want to have, and the to-do list is an awesome feature! It gives me the opportunity to see articles and news I might otherwise miss, about topics that are near and dear to my heart. I love that it gives me the chance to save articles I want to come back to in my favorites.

This extension was very easy to use. The flow was nice and it seemed natural to use. It didn’t take a long time to figure out how to use it or to find its features. Everything was self explanatory and easily accessible.

It was uncluttered and uncomplicated which is a huge plus for this ADHD girl. I don’t have time or patience to figure out hard to use features. I’m easily frustrated, and that didn’t happen while I was exploring this extension.

I turn to New Life Outlook for fantastic articles on the health conditions that concern me, as well as their vibrant online communities. Now I can also turn to them for a browser extension that has features I will actually use.

I’m looking forward to the release and I highly recommend you guys check it out and try it for yourselves!

What it is: NewLifeOutlook’s browser extension for Chrome

When it is available: May 30, 2017

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Mental Health Awareness. What my Anxiety Feels Like

I’m much more comfortable talking about my ADHD than my Anxiety. I’m much more comfortable talking about A’s mental health struggles than my own. I view hers as much more important than mine. She also deals with so much more than I do, and does it with a bravery that I admire.

I’ve mentioned my Anxiety here and there, but I’d rather talk about anything else.

In light of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I’ve decided to share a little about my experience with anxiety.

I usually see things long after everyone else does, but I recently came across the #insideoutchallenge. I was intrigued by it, and spent some time looking at posts from those who chose to share what their mental illness looked like.

The challenge, begun by mental health advocate and beauty blogger Yasaman Gheidi, challenges people to use makeup art to show others what your mental illness looks and feels like to you, or to support others through participating. I was absolutely blown away by so many of the raw, honest depictions that people had posted.

Images were sad, haunting, inspirational, and deeply meaningful all at once. I started wondering what my makeup would look like if I were to participate. Since my skills at makeup art are zero, and I’d probably just make more of a mess of myself than anything else, (although maybe that look could well define my ADHD!) I decided to forgo the actual makeup, but I know what it would be.

My mental health image would be a cage. Thick iron bars that hold me back and hold me in. I can’t escape my prison, there is no way out. Questions and accusations crowd all around me, pushing at the bars. “Why did you say that?” “How did it sound?” “What do they think of me now?” “Did I say the wrong thing?” “I looked like an idiot.” “Why can’t you just be normal?” “Why can’t you just be like everyone else?” “Why aren’t you like all the other moms?” “I can’t go in there.” “I can’t do this.”

That is how my anxiety makes me feel.

Yes, some days are better than others, but I’m never free. I can’t go to social engagements that aren’t for family. I don’t go out. I don’t meet new people. I could never begin a relationship because first of all I’m too awkward and uncomfortable to talk to someone I don’t know, but if by some miracle someone got to know me, well, they would have friends, they would have family, and I’d never be able to go out with his friends or even manage a coherent meeting.

People have asked me why I’m still single so long after my divorce, and that’s the honest answer. I’ve met a couple of very nice people, (people who for some reason just kept talking to me no matter what I said) but I talked myself out of it because I didn’t feel it was fair to put anyone through what being with me would entail. I was scared.

I second guess every single word I say every single day. Someone can ask me how I am and I answer “Fine,” and yet I still worry all day that I said the wrong thing or appeared stupid.

I’m locked in my own head in a prison of my mind’s making.

I desperately want to be free. I want to be able to talk to people and do things, but I always stop myself. I’m always afraid.

It’s exhausting. The noise of the day gets to me and by the time afternoon rolls around my senses are overloaded.

Add my ADHD to my Anxiety and even I am never quite sure what is going to happen. I forget more when I’m anxious. My short term memory is bad enough due to ADHD, but during times of high anxiety, I can’t remember anything at all. People can ask me a question and I’ve forgotten what it was before I can answer. I zone out more, then look like even more of an idiot, then worry about how much of an idiot I look like, and end up having a panic attack.

That is the truth about living with Anxiety and ADHD.

Doesn’t mean I’m not happy. Doesn’t mean there aren’t things I’m good at. Doesn’t mean I’m not a kick ass mom. (At least my daughter tells me I am, anyway!) It just means I struggle more inside my own head during a day than I struggle outside of it.

It means that when I’m out in public, or at a function, I’m doing the best I can. I appear anti social – I’m not. I appear angry – I’m not. I appear to be snobbish – I’m not. I appear bored – I’m not. When I appear to be crying and having trouble breathing – well then I just need to leave. If I can’t leave I’ll try to disappear for a few moments to collect myself before trying again. I’m trying to paste on a smile. I’m trying to think of one solitary thing to say. I really am. I WANT to talk to others. I WANT to join in. I WANT to be engaged in what is going on around me.

Don’t assume I isolate myself because I want to or because I’m selfish.

PTA meetings, church social gatherings, school banquets, small talk, even meeting my daughter’s friends all have the power to render me a useless puddle. Walking into any situation where I am unsure of exactly what is going to happen when I get there has my heart hammering and my hands trembling.

I work on it every single day. I’d give my right arm to make it go away.

It isn’t going anywhere. It’s part of me. I’ve gotten used to that fact. I just have never figured out a way to make it better. I can’t figure out how to be someone else. I can’t figure out how to do anything with abandon.

Sometimes I think it would be so amazing to just be able to forget for one second the anxiety and fear. I’d love to be able to walk into a room with my head up, not searching for a corner to melt into or a chair in the very last row.

I’ve come a long way in accepting myself for who I am. But just because I accept it doesn’t make it easy. My head is in constant turmoil. There is always noise. There is always a million racing thoughts.

It would be nice to turn it off once in a while.

Fighting Stigma One Day at a Time

It seems to me that stereotypes are EVERYWHERE.

Stigma, prejudice, misunderstanding and fear surround mental health. I’d like to think society as a whole is making great strides toward enlightenment, but at times I’m not so sure.

It amazes me, really, how little educators know about mental health issues.

I am blown away by how much, even the most caring teachers DON’T KNOW about ADHD (and don’t get me started about what they do not know about Depression, Anxiety, or Self Harm.)

I know you cannot expect them to know everything there is to know about every illness, disease, disorder, or disability out there, but sometimes it’s so hard to keep banging your head against the wall as you attempt to explain to teachers why your child does things the way they do and how their actions/words in the classroom harm more than they help.

In my own daughter’s case, she goes to an excellent school. The teachers and staff are completely amazing. Still, in conversations I have with school leaders, they really have no clue. They make these comments to me and I’m sitting there just staring at them, like really? It makes me want to send links to articles I believe they should read and hand out book recommendations.

It’s difficult to be heard even in IEP meetings. It’s frustrating.

A- tries to leave most of her struggles at home. Unfortunately with her extreme heightened sensitivity, often a small trigger can create a mountain of a response. Those things are hard to control in school. It’s frustrating that educators don’t recognize poor emotional control as part of ADHD. It’s frustrating when they tell me that maybe she should wear long sleeves to school so that others don’t ask about her scars. It’s frustrating when they ask me if she is getting all the care she needs. It’s frustrating when strangers stare at those scars and make comments.

A person with mental health struggles is having a hard enough time without having to be constantly judged by the outside world.

On the flip side, you can’t see a smile, and hear the laugh and assume a person is fine, either.

I no longer try to generalize about how my daughter is doing by thinking or saying things like, “She’s doing better.” That doesn’t work. It’s day by day, minute by minute. When someone asks how she is I now say something like, “Today was a good day.” And that’s how we have to look at it. Accept the good with the bad and know that no matter what is going on on the outside, there is more under the surface than anyone will ever know.

Icebergs.

One of the things I’m most proud of is how my kiddo has tackled this school year. There have been setbacks, to be sure, but for the most part, she has stuck to her goal of high school being vastly different for her. And it has been.

In just a little while, she will go into Assembly and she will give a speech. She hates talking in front of people like that. But today she will give her speech because she is running for next year’s student council. Vice President. I have no idea what the outcome will be of today’s student voting, but I know that no matter what, A- is proving something to herself.

She’s also making quite the statement, whether she realizes it or not.

She’s standing up for mental health awareness. She is standing up to the stigma and the falsehoods that surround mental health.

She is telling students with ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Self Harm, or other invisible disabilities that they count.

Running for vice president of student council she is saying she will NOT sit in a corner alone. She is saying that just because she doesn’t do things the way others do them, or just because she battles with her own brain daily that she is not less.

She is blasting through the stereotypes of what “harmers” look like, or how they behave. She is showing how ADHD creates unique, out of the box thinking that makes for excellent leaders. She is showing that having Depression and Anxiety do not make you unworthy and that you have nothing to be ashamed of – nothing to hide from.

A- has shown herself that the quirky, awkward, weird kid that used to get made fun of has something to offer. She has made friends, and has really felt accepted by many for who she is. People have told her so many times this year that her awkwardness is “cute.” She isn’t sure how to take that one – but she has also shown her other side; the funny creative one, the caring helpful one, the loyal intelligent one. And it works. She’s unique to be sure, quirky at best, but from what I can see, it’s what people like about her.

She just had to get out of her own head and put herself out there. That was hard to do after spending years being taunted and teased.

Now, she is a determined force to be reckoned with. She has a great attitude and she is genuinely kind and helpful, which fellow students and teachers alike appreciate.

I don’t know if any of these things will be enough to get her elected as vice president, and I know how badly she wants it so I know how disappointed she will be if she doesn’t win, but I also know that that isn’t really what matters most here.

What matters is the trying. It’s the doing and the standing up for what she believes in. It’s pushing the boundaries of what people expect and what they assume to be true and showing them that they are wrong. It’s about being an inspiration to those who need it and realizing your own vast potential. 

People with ADHD are not lazy, stupid or clueless. Harmers are not socially inept loners. Depression isn’t always crying, withdrawal, or appearing sad. Anxiety is more than panic attacks in the restroom.

The face of invisible disabilities is the same face of every person walking around on this earth. It’s the face of every human being.

We all have a story to tell. We all have our private wars and our public face. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. We all have something to give.

What A- is saying to her fellow students this morning, “I believe in myself, and you should too.”

 

The Roller Coaster That is Mental Health

A few weeks ago I wrote about the wonderful enlightening moment my daughter had while we were out shopping. It was a beautiful moment where she accepted the change that could be hers and felt sure that she had the power to heal herself.

The thing about change is, that it doesn’t make everything magically disappear.

She still has Depression. She still has Anxiety. She still has ADHD. She is still a recovering self-harmer.

And there is nothing wrong with being any of those things. Yep. I said it.

Those things in and of themselves may be vicious thieves, but they do not make a person less. They do not make a person unlovable, or any less worthy than any other individual. They do not make a person any less of a beautiful human being.

Mental illness is hard. It takes its toll and wreaks havoc. It is heartless and cruel. It is draining and senseless.

No matter how long I live I will never, ever understand why some people have to suffer in such a way. I look at my beautiful daughter and I see a childhood lost. It is enough to make a person want to shake their fist at the heavens and shout, “Why??!!”

But despite anything I did, or could have done, it would still exist.

There are always heart pounding dips, hairpin curves, and steep climbs on this journey of life with mental illness. One day can be fantastic, while the very next may prove to be a chore just to make it through. You can be having a great day when something happens that sets off your heightened sensitivity and the rest of the day goes down in a spiral of flames. You can wear a smile, joke and laugh with friends and family, while inside you feel numb.

A- has been doing remarkably well. She has not harmed in around two months. She says she might think about death sometimes, but she does not want to die. She says she isn’t going to do anything to herself. She is still embracing her change and embracing herself. She is still growing in confidence and in acceptance of herself.

It is a remarkable thing to watch.

And yet…just underneath there has been turbulence. About three weeks ago, her three “best friends” ditched her out of the blue. Here was A-, with friends for the first time in her life, excited to have them, knowing she had made friends for life. She was the shoulder they cried on, the one they complained to, and the one that was more loyal than they would ever know. Yet when they decided they no longer wanted to be her friend, they weren’t mature enough to handle it nicely. Instead of just being honest and moving on, they resorted to being mean and petty. A- was upset. Very upset. Here were girls she loved; girls she trusted, and they had turned on her.

I was worried we were in for a horrible spiral of self loathing. But that was not the case.

Other students rallied around her. Others were quick to offer friendship. She was given support. Instead of retreating to a corner and once again becoming the loner, she was more determined than ever. She knew it wasn’t her. She knew she could have friends and continue to have an awesome high school experience.

But I knew it hurt her more than she let on. She smiled on the outside, but I heard her crying in her room. I saw the sad eyes. But she continued on. She talked to new people. She joined new groups. It hurt because of how they treated her, but it did not damper her determination. I was proud of that.

Still, with the treatment from the other girls, and a series of mishaps at school due to her running out of medication for a short time, we were still in for one of those slow click…click…clicks as we tried to make it up this hill. The depression has shown itself but she knows it will release its hold. She knows it won’t last. That’s the big difference. She’s not sleeping well, she’s agitated and restless, she would prefer to sleep the day away so that she doesn’t have to think. Nightmares when she does sleep have been plentiful.

But she refuses to give up. She refuses to harm to make herself feel better. She refuses to withdraw.

High functioning depression can be dangerous because we aren’t sure what’s going on on the inside, but right now, I know she’s just hanging on and waiting for the storm to pass.

And sometimes, right in the midst of the sadness and melancholy she will do or say something that makes us laugh. She still has those moments that make her uniquely “her.” Like earlier this week when they were supposed to be doing wall planks in PE class and she got bored so she started doing the Macarena. (Coach made her run two laps for being “ridiculous” while he couldn’t help but laugh.) And this morning as we were heading off to school she shoved an entire family size box of Cheerios in her back pack. I asked why, she asked why not? I told her she needed to take them out so she didn’t end up dropping them and having cereal roll all down the school halls. She told me she might get hungry today while taking tests and need something to snack on. And she hopped out of the car blowing me a kiss before I could confiscate them.

Newsflash: I was SHOCKED she did not get in trouble with her gigantic box of Cheerios. I just knew impulsive, quirky kid that she is, she’d end up taking them out in English and offering some to the teacher.

It’s the little things that I embrace. The little, daily things that let me know she’s in there and that she’s going to be okay.

Home from school, she was cranky and got in bed to sleep. I figured I’d let her.

We’re going to a new church and she has made SO MANY new friends there! And best of all? She told me that she has stopped blaming God for the things that happened to her. It was one of the worst effects of the things that happened in her past – she used to beg God to help her and felt that He wasn’t listening. She would tell me what was the use of praying and believing when He let people suffer? Being in church and seeing other teens who aren’t just going through the motions, but who take their faith seriously, has been good for her. Now she’d been moving away from her anger at God for some time now, and was almost there, but she finally crossed back over that line, where she no longer blames herself, and she no longer blames God. Last week at devotional at church, she experienced a complete sense of forgiveness and healing from her broken relationship. She told me all she could do was just kneel there on the floor and cry, feeling like a great weight had been lifted off as she made her peace with the things that happened to her and the fact that she had thought God remained silent through it all. She realized He had never been silent. It was in a thousand little things that kept her going all those years. He’d been there all along.

So maybe the depression is rearing its head right now, maybe she’s anxious and moody, but that is the way things are. We just hold on and know it will pass. It seems odd that it can come at the same time that there is also good – but that is the nature of life.

In the meantime, maybe we should just do the Macarena and eat some Cheerios.

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A Beautiful, Iridescent Stranger

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Forgive me for a moment because you are about to enter into a strange world of spiritualism, “new age hoo- doo” (as a few people have said to me – people who got annoyed with me when I tried to give them the definition of hoo-doo), auras, vibes, and premonitions.

This is also a very long story. I’ll understand if you don’t hang in til the end. Just don’t ask me to hurry it along. Because I cannot.

I believe in things that can’t always be explained. I believe there are those who are extremely in tune with the vibes of the universe and can see, hear, and feel things that others do not. While I myself have good intuition and feel strong “vibes,” A- has always been tuned in to something that defies logic and reason.

She senses things about strangers. She feels thing in objects others have touched. She can tell you about people she has never met by walking into the home they lived in. She can see people’s auras.

Maybe you don’t believe in such gibberish, and that’s okay. I never knew anyone on a personal level who had these gifts until I met her. I never discounted it, I just didn’t have any friends who owned up to having these talents. She doesn’t talk about it with many people. She feels embarrassed by it. She feels they wouldn’t understand, or would call her crazy. She’s a highly sensitive being, an old soul, and a tormented one.

I’ve made no secret here of A’s mental health struggles. Depression. Self Harm. Suicidal ideation. Anxiety. ADHD. She’s come so very far, but it has been such an uphill battle. She has worked so hard to claim the life she wants to lead. Yet underneath, there is always the fear. The scared little girl that just longs to be free but doesn’t quite know how to be. 

Things have been going pretty well lately. She’d gone a month and a half with no self harm, then had a setback. I knew she was ashamed of it, even though I tried to tell her there was no need to be. Healing takes time. She had to be kind to herself. It’s been about that long again, and I’ve tried not to get antsy, hoping she can beat her current record. It’s not a game, it really isn’t, but sometimes unfortunately you do find yourself counting those days “clean” with some sort of reverent hope that the number will just grow and grow without ever having a set back again. We hope. We pray. We try to help fight some demon we can’t even see. We love them through all the set backs and all the pain. We love them through the confusion and tears, the self loathing and the shame, the guilt and the desire. She’s battled her self harm. She’s battled her depression and anxiety, and she has battled her self loathing and the desire to just end it all to make it go away. I know how strong she is; I’ve just been waiting for the day that she knew it too.

Things have been better than they have ever been. She’s been involved and active in school. She’s made friends. She’s so much better that it’s frustrating when people see her and see “mental issues.” My child is not a mental issue. She is not something you can put in a box and define. She is a living, breathing person who has many facets to her personality. She is more than depression or self harm. She is a beautiful soul who is blessed and cursed with thinking too much, feeling too much, and seeing too much. She’s just a girl trying to heal from a jagged past, a girl haunted by memories and plagued with nightmares. A girl who wants desperately to be free. 

I’ve watched her on the brink. I see the longing inside of her for wellness. I see her grasping for it, then tentatively pulling her hand back, comforted by the familiar darkness. I wait – just wait for the day she will be ready to grasp at hope. I wait for the day she is confident and comfortable. The day she begins to love herself. I have watched it grow near. I’ve seen her battle with the old thoughts and the new that are crowding them out. It’s been an internal struggle for a while – holding onto the fear and loathing and yet seeking out love, light and acceptance.

Tonight I witnessed something I can only call a miracle.

I’m not saying “Pouf!” all is well and the problems and years of pain have dissipated into the night air, but I did witness something so strong it was almost tangible. Something that left me overwhelmed and filled with wonder.

Tonight I witnessed A- take a leap.

What follows will be a very bad telling of the events that transpired tonight. It will be a poor telling because no matter my fondness for words, I can’t find the right ones to express what I witnessed. I witnessed emotions. I witnessed… change.

A- and I went to a nearby shopping center to find her some clothes. She’s lost some weight and was feeling pretty good about herself and with spring coming and all, she decided it would be nice to add something to her wardrobe that wasn’t a band t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, my Emo, Metalhead, Punk Rock chick will never give up her band t-shirts and black Converse, but like I said, facets. She’s ready to admit she has more than one side, and is ready to embrace the idea that sometimes, just maybe she isn’t in the mood for a band T and just might be in the mood for oh, flowers? Okay, let’s not go crazy…

So we were ambling along talking and I’ll admit I wasn’t really paying attention when she grabbed my arm and said, “We have to go in here!” pulling me almost violently into a store. At first glance, I wasn’t sure what kind of store it was, there was an odd assortment of many things. Once I was inside I saw it was one of those places with items from around the world. Handmade jewelry, rocks and crystals, purses and handbags, colorful hassocks, and all sorts of delightful treasures that beg a slow stroll. I usually don’t buy much from these types of shops, to be honest. I like to look at some of the items, but would rarely buy anything. A- is drawn to the eclectic. She loves curious and unique things.

When we walked in we were greeted by a lovely saleswoman. Friendly and warm, she welcomed us to the store. I saw A- falter when she looked at her, but I couldn’t read her expression. I knew it couldn’t be bad, because if she had read something ugly or twisted in the woman, she immediately would have had to leave the store. But the thing was, for a few moments, she and the woman just stood there. Both of them just looking at one another. The air felt strange.  In a moment A- seemed to shake off whatever it was that had her transfixed, and she went about happily exploring the store. The saleswoman turned her attention to three gentlemen who were interested in information about a Native American headdress that was in the window, and A- and I were left to our own devices to wander around.

We looked around, walking and talking and let’s skip to A- and the sales woman having a conversation about wolves. A- says they are her spirit animal. There was one wolf item in the shop, a garish turquois wallet with a wolf emblazoned on the front. It was in a glass case with other items, and while A- and the woman both said they didn’t like the wallet, she opened the case so they could have a better look. They smiled and wrinkled their noses in distaste. Then she showed A- the other treasures in the case; spy glasses, evil eye ornaments, and little notebooks from Nepal.

Yes, I know this is a long story. I told you it would be.

Here is where something extremely curious happened. There was a symbol on one of the little notebooks. The lady asked A- if she knew what it was. She did not. She told her it was OM. She asked if she knew what it meant, and surprisingly, A- told her she did not. Now, I didn’t ask her, but I’m not sure if A- really didn’t know what OM was, or if she just said she didn’t because she didn’t want to look like a know it all. Just seemed like something A- would know to me – but anyway THAT is not important.

She told A- that the store had had a wonderful cut out OM wall hanging that she had wanted to purchase for herself, but she showed it to a woman and the woman had loved it and snapped it up. She said she was a bit disappointed, but knew it was for the best. The woman was meant to have it. Then she smiled and she asked A- “Would you like to see something else I have hidden away?” She went to a drawer and pulled out a wooden cutout. She smiled and added, “Okay, I didn’t hide it. I found it in this drawer and I loved it and wanted it so I left it in there and put it on hold for myself. But I decided not to get it.” She held it up and said, “This is Masakra. It is the symbol for ‘I have changed.’  It’s about regeneration and how it comes from within.”

A- looked at me and our eyes locked and she whispered, “Change.”

I said, “You need that.” She nodded and reached out and gently touched the wall hanging the woman was holding and said, “I really do.” She looked at the lady and said, “I’ve changed a lot lately.” Her voice caught as she added, “So much.” And there, for some inexplicable reason, A-‘s eyes teared up. I put my arm around her and smiled. I told her I think we needed the sign. And something strange came into the air and my eyes teared up. I told A-, “You have changed a lot and I’m so very proud of you. Change does come from inside of yourself.” The saleslady looked at us, and the thing is, she didn’t look perplexed at all. She didn’t look at us like we had just lost our marbles, getting teary eyed in a store over a wall hanging. But it wasn’t the wall hanging at all. It was that A- identified with the symbol. She felt it. Then this woman said, “I believe things happen for a reason. I had put this aside for myself but decided not to buy it. It didn’t feel right. I’m a strong believer in feelings and letting the universe tell us what we need or don’t need. Something told me that wasn’t meant for me, that it was meant for someone else. You’re the only person I’ve shown it to. Something just told me to show it to you.” She smiled and held it out to A-. “I think I’ve been saving this for you.”

Now, you are thinking, she was just a saleslady trying to make a sale to two sentimental weirdos. Maybe she was, but I don’t think so. I honestly don’t think she really cared if we bought one single thing. I had a couple items we were getting already, so it’s not like we were leaving empty handed. Sure, the more they can sell the better, but I’ve been in that situation, thousands of times. This was not one of them.

A- just smiled a small smile and she told the woman, “The thing is, I have changed. Just this year I’ve changed so much and I want to continue to change.” The woman asked A- if she would share her story with her. She said, “You don’t have to, of course, but only if you want to, I’d love to hear a little of your story and in what way you’ve changed.”

A- looked at me and then looked straight into the woman’s face and said, “I was abused most of my life. I thought it was my fault and I hated myself. Just this year I’ve started to accept that it wasn’t my fault and I didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve hurt myself for years and just this year I’ve stopped hurting myself.” A tear slid down her cheek and she kind of gave an embarrassed smile and looked at the floor. The woman looked at her and then just reached out and put her arms around her and hugged her close and they cried. The woman told her, “I hear you keep saying, ‘just this year’ but I look at it like look at what you have achieved. Look at the amazing thing you’ve done by starting to let it go. So many people live their entire lives wrapped up in hurt and the anger and the pain but you’ve decided you don’t want to live that way. I don’t know you, but I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you for accepting the change that can be yours. You are going to do amazing things with your life. You’re already doing amazing things.” She let her go and held out her hand and introduced herself. They shook hands and the woman said, “Thank you for letting me be a part of this moment. You don’t know me, but you’ve touched me. You have the power and the gift to touch the hearts and minds of others. It’s inside of you. I can see it and I can feel it.”

We chatted a few more minutes with the woman and then we left the store. I know there was so much more said, but honestly, I was so overwhelmed by the tangible emotions in that store, and by the things A- said after we left, that I honestly cannot recall much of what transpired.

A- told me that she really did feel herself changing. She said it had been an amazing start to the year because she really felt she was able to let things go and love herself. She felt that she had so much to live for and so much to do.

I couldn’t help it. I asked her if she realized what she said in the store. I asked her if she realized that she said “I USED to hurt myself,” or “Just this year I stopped.” She began to cry again and she said, “I’m crying because I feel like it’s over. I feel like I can let it go. I feel like I CAN stop hurting myself. I feel like that part of my life is over and I can move on to look forward to other things.”

We cried more. We talked more. We talked about her budding self respect. We talked about her desires for the future. Then she asked me if I wanted to know what she felt when she entered the store. She said we were walking along and something yanked her into that store. She said it was a strong pull, a sudden push to get inside the door as quickly as she could. Then she said once inside, she saw the saleswoman and she told me, “When I looked at her and she looked at me, I had this sudden overwhelming feeling. We had an entire conversation without saying a word. I don’t know if she knew it, but I think she did. It was like our souls had things to say to each other that we just understood.” Then she said, “And mom, she didn’t have an aura. I was so amazed when I saw her that I couldn’t move or even speak. She shone. There was no aura, but she was outlined. There was an outline around her of brilliant irridescent light. I’ve seen white auras before, and this wasn’t like that. She just shined.”

And then she told me – “She pushed me, Mom. I’ve been standing on that cliff for a long time now, too scared to jump and turn the page, and right then, in that conversation we had when we didn’t talk out loud, she pushed me. Before the Masakra before any of it, something in her being forced me off the edge.” She started to cry. Again. She was grinning from ear to ear and she was crying. She put her face in her hands and she sobbed. “She somehow let me know that it was okay to turn the page and close the chapter on everything bad. I don’t know how. I don’t understand it, I just know it happened. I felt it. Mom, she  somehow told me everything I needed to hear. She saved me.” She shook her own head in disbelief. “I sometimes try to block out this part of me, this part that sees things or feels things. I try to block it out not just because people don’t always understand it, but because I don’t know how to control it. I don’t know how to control the emotions when I meet someone and I can get overwhelmed. I felt in that moment we looked at eachother that she knew. I felt that she was like me, but in total control of her mind. She sees but, she can control her reactions. I can’t always do that.”

I cried too. The night was surreal. We talked about the woman, we talked about the encounter, and we talked about the change. She talked about how things felt different tonight – how she felt about herself, how she felt about her life. She talked about accepting herself and being at peace with who she was, what her body looked like, her personality and her tastes. She talked about confidence and understanding. She talked about a life that did not include self harm.

How can a stranger push your child toward a truth you’ve been begging them to see for years?

I wish I could explain the whole evening better. I wish I could remember more specific bits of conversation between us and the woman in the store. I wish there was a way to recount the look on A-‘s face. But it was a look of peace. We stood in that store and A- said she “used” to hurt herself and I saw a look of peace on my child’s face that I’ve never seen before. I saw her features relax and for the first time, her eyes cleared. There was no pain in them, no hate, and no sorrow. Her eyes were pure and clear and her features held no trace of pain and guilt. It’s a moment I want to hold onto for eternity. It was a moment in which I felt complete bliss as I looked into her eyes and saw things in them; unmasked and unafraid.

That is what I truly cannot put into words. The look in her eyes. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

I began this last night after the events and had to leave it. In the harsh light of day I expected to see it was all a dream, or hadn’t lasted. Although things are much more “normal” today, the light continues to shine in my daughter. She went to the beach with a friend and all I heard was laughter. She played in the freezing cold surf, she let go – and it was wonderful to see.

The Country Seems as Scattered as my ADHD Brain

As I’ve watched the news over the past couple of days I am saddened by some of what I have seen. I wasn’t able to watch much of the presidential inauguration, but what I did see where people protesting by breaking windows, and by choosing violence and harm. I hope that there were also instances of people who shared love to others; who shared hope and a commitment to their fellowman. I hope those things happened and I just didn’t see them.

I usually stay away from anything political.

I write about life with mood disorders and ADHD, not my personal opinions and thoughts on politics. I believe we are all entitled to our opinions and I try to be respectful of folks that don’t think the way I do.

But right now I have to ask, where does violence get us?

I am not going to say who I voted for or who I did not vote for. I am not going to say whether I am happy with the person in the White House or whether I am unhappy. It’s not the point and it really doesn’t matter.

I am scared for the future of America.

And that has nothing to do with who sits in the Oval Office. I am concerned because violence has become our way to protest anything we don’t like. We riot. We loot. We set fires. We kill.

Doing harm is not protesting. If you are unhappy with the political climate, wouldn’t it be better to find positive ways to help? What about volunteering with organizations that we support? What about giving our time to assist others and bring awareness to important issues?

When we take to violence because we don’t like something, what does that say about us as a whole?

Regardless of who is in the White House and whether or not I like it, that person IS my president. Even if I cannot respect the person in the position, I still respect that office.

I really don’t understand the ‘not my president’ movement.

If you are a citizen of the United States then Donald Trump IS your president. Wouldn’t we all do well to band together in support of our own country? Couldn’t we do more for our common goals if we worked together?

Yes, being a citizen of the United States gives you the freedom to say whatever you wish. It gives you the freedom to participate in the not my president campaign.

I’m simply saying I don’t understand it. What will it do? What will it change? Will it make a difference in the political climate? Will it change who holds the office of Commander in Chief?

I genuinely don’t know, I only know what I have seen of it on social media. Even if I loathe the President, it doesn’t change the fact that he is, in fact, my president because I am a citizen of this country.

I uphold people’s right to protest (peacefully) in any way they see fit and maybe I just don’t see the bigger picture here; or maybe my brain just can’t wrap around the concept. Maybe I’m thinking too literally. Maybe I’m not thinking enough.

It seems to me that right now would be the time to say, okay, I didn’t vote for this person, I don’t like what he stands for, I don’t like how he talks or how he looks or what he wears, or whatever else it is you don’t like – BUT – now that he is president of my country, I will look for ways to make a positive impact and bring about the changes we need to see.

We forget, I think, or maybe politicians wish us to forget, that this country is OURS. It isn’t up to a president to make our country great, it is up to US. WE have that power. All of us.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but we choose what businesses we support, we choose how we treat our fellow citizens. We choose our attitudes and our behavior. We choose what ideas and belief systems we support.

We can all bring about change each and every day. Change starts with each one of us, in our own communities. I know I am being naive. I know things are complicated. Sometimes I don’t think they are as complicated as we make them, though.

Yes, I am aware that working together for the benefit of the country is a pipe dream. We will always have discord and we will always have those unwilling to work with others. It would be impossible for everyone to agree. But how do we deal with those we disagree with? With hatred or with compromise? With violence or with peace?

I’m not saying anyone should give up their values and their beliefs, but isn’t there a better way? Isn’t there a way to improve our situation through working together?

Violence begets violence and hatred begets hatred. We don’t prove anything by hurting one another. I believe peaceful protests can have their place. But why resort to anger and hate? Who are we really hurting when we do that? No one but our fellow citizens.

Did breaking windows and rioting in the streets hurt the President? No. It hurt our businesses and our fellowmen. Is there a way to show our distaste and disapproval of the President without violence? I believe so. And maybe that is what the hashtag not my president seeks to do – show distaste in a peaceful manner. On a personal level I can’t support the words, and I do wonder what impact it has as far as what good is accomplished from it, but I’m not judging those who use it.

Maybe we should try getting involved to make a difference. Maybe we should get involved in our communities. Maybe we should build each other up and teach our children the values of this country so that they can grow into responsible leaders.

I just don’t think violence is the way to get what you want. As I watched windows being broken at the Bank of America, it looked more to me like a collective temper tantrum from a group of two year olds. We didn’t get our way and we don’t know how to properly voice our disapproval so we are going to kick and scream and break something.

That’s my opinion anyway. It’s okay if your opinion is different.

I’m not claiming to know all the facts. I’m not claiming to know all the answers. I’m not claiming to be well versed in the world of politics. I’m just talking about what I witnessed in bits and pieces on television that day.

And it made me wonder WHO those actions were helping. What GOOD came of it? What PURPOSE did it serve?

Just my own thoughts. In a time where everything seems to be upside down and our country is locked in some kind of perpetual squabble among ourselves, I keep thinking that we have the power to STOP all this. We have the power to be better than this.

All of us can just keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on where we can do good in each day. Where can we make a difference? Where can we bring positivity and hope? How can we uplift our fellowman to make our country, and the world, a better place in which to live?

Individuals can be mighty. An individual can bring about change.

What can we do?