Saturday, November 07, 2009

If That's Movin' Up then Iiiiii'm Movin' Out!

It’s been almost a year since I last updated. That’s inexcusable, but I have been completely busy living, and obviously so much has happened. I have thought a lot about the fact that I abandoned this blog for some time, and trying to think of what to write to get back in the swing (because that is the goal) I know I don’t want to just give a timeline and babble off everything that has happened in the past year, because, not only will that bore everyone to tears, but I probably don’t remember everything, and some of it may just not be worth reminiscing about.

Within the span of the almost year in which I haven’t written, there has been a lot of moving. I moved out of my family’s house, and then a few months later, they moved too! It was very exciting for me to be out on my own-, as I got older the house seemed to be getting smaller, and I just felt that it was time for a change and for me to get some independence back. Of course also had to recognize that it would be a huge transition for me. The last time I had been “on my own” was when I was in college, and that started off as a giant pile of fail (granted- it got better, but a lot of things were learned the hard way). I had begun looking at apartments, mostly in more urban areas, since that was where there was public transportation, and lots of things

to do, since my social life is pretty crucial to my happiness- it’s just who I am. I also recognized that if I lived completely by myself, there would be even more challenges, and I knew I would have to find somebody who could help me, specifically a nurse, since that is what is legally required for my medical care, so I knew that would be a pain, but it was something I was going to have to do eventually.

Mid- house hunt, a friend of mine told me they were going to be buying a home, and were looking for people to move in. This sounded like the perfect opportunity. I could be in a great neighborhood, close to my family, with other people who were always coming and going, so I wouldn’t be alone all the time. I weighed out the pros and cons (there was a lot of list making, as that is how I function in life) and had some frank conversations with my family, and the friend who proposed this idea. I explained to her that it would be a huge transition for me, and because of this I was not sure how long I would be staying, or how it would go. She was very understanding of this, and was excited that I would be moving in.

By February, I had packed up all my things at my parents’ house and couldn’t really stay there any more. My friends had closed on the new house and I was able to move in. There ended up being some family emergency type stuff that happened with my friend, and because nobody else had moved in yet I had the house to myself. It was a good way to get adjusted, and find my way around before there were five other people living there too.

Very, very long story short, I eventually realized this was not as an ideal situation as I had thought it would be. I started to realize that I just wasn’t comfortable in the atmosphere, and my professional and personal life was suffering. I needed an environment I could successfully work from home in, and this just wasn’t it. I definitely wasn’t alone all the time, but it got to the point where I wanted to be. I had no time for reflection. I didn’t write any more, I slept too much and was just making health choices that weren’t the best. Once again it was a big step for me to realize I needed to make a change, knowing it would be yet another transition, and also a huge step that I was putting myself first.

During this process when I discovered I needed to get out, I felt myself going through a severe quarter life crisis (and I’m not even 25…. can’t wait for that one). I was in a rut. I just wanted to quit everything and run away. I wanted to just regress and party all the time and be “carefree” and not worry about policy change on a national level. How come all the other people my age were out going to parties and staying home on the weekends with their boyfriends and girlfriends, and my response was “sorry I can’t I have to go to DC (or Vermont, or Illinois, or California)” It was beginning to feel like too much pressure. What if this wasn’t even what I wanted to do with my life? What difference could I make? I am just one little girl from Maine… surely the “system” can get along just fine without me. I missed school. I missed having people coach me into being productive. I missed writing, and having a place where I could just walk places with friends to get a cup of coffee. I felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way and I just wanted to shut my mind off.

When I made the choice to start taking care of me, I felt a little freer. I even rearranged my budget a little so I could afford on my own to go to therapy. And I’m proud of that fact. It was something I looked forward to. In an environment where my feelings sort of got pushed aside, it was amazing to have someone to talk to, to just listen and give me next steps to move forward and change my way of thinking. She even pushed me into writing more. “This is who you are,” she said to me. “You’re a writer and you need to get back into that.” And I did, and I felt another little piece of myself fall back into place. I don’t think it can every hurt to have someone just to listen. In the big city, you’re nobody until you have a therapist! And I get it now!

She encouraged me to find other ways to put myself first, and when it came time to make the move I knew it was the right thing to do. The exciting part was that living in that house caused two things to happen. The first was that, I had completely connected with one of my roommates, Sarah, and we decided that we could move together, because she was feeling the same way about the environment. The other thing was that, because of this house, my parents were inspired to put their house on the market. It sold in 21 days (which is beyond unheard of in this market) and they found a house they loved and were able to buy it and do the work they wanted to it. I’m so happy for them, and believing that everything truly does happen

for a reason, I know that I lived in that house so that they would move, and do what they all needed. I have seen them all become closer and happier, and I am grateful that they were able to take that step. That was another reason I felt good about leaving the house, it was as though I believed “my work here is done,” as they got more and more settled.

So I hope I have not bored anybody to tears yet, I’m trying to hit on key points, and I promise I’ll be better about updating this!

After looking at a few apartments, Sarah and I found an adorable townhouse apartment. It was the only one we looked at that we could really picture ourselves living in, so we knew it was right. We have been here since Columbus Day, and still have a few boxes to go through, but it already feels like home. It’s been very interesting because we have gone from living at grand central station craziness, to it just being the two of us. Sarah works during the day so I have the house to myself during the day. I have definitely gotten my “time to myself.” But I love it. I have been really taking care of myself. I’ve been eating better, reading and writing more, exercising again, and being able to focus on my work more fully.

I feel like things are really aligning for me at this point. I just got hired as a consultant for KASA (kids as self advocates, which is sort of like a promotion of sorts since I was already a co-chair on the board, but now I will be working more one on one with the younger group called the Task Force. I get to help them revise documents (yayyyy editing!!!) and prepare presentations, and do some tech stuff just to assist the project director. I feel really good about it, and some other opportunities are coming up as well. I’m going to be attending the annual conference for the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, which I’m very excited about as well, as I’m starting to believe that is my niche, to bridge the gap between physical and mental health.

Overall, it’s been a time! I’m in a good space right now and am continuing my process of self-discovery, and it’s nice. I can really see each day for what it has to offer and am savoring every opportunity instead of wishing it away. I recommend for everyone to try doing the same.

I’ll leave you with a quote I found recently, that says just that, and the promise to write more often so that we don’t have such epic updates!

(Fall shot of favorite place for photography!)

*Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake...*-Sir Francis Bacon

Monday, January 26, 2009

**Don't Waste A Moment Cause You'll Never See it Returned**
( This entry is dedicated to the incredible, impish, life-changing, Paul Newman, who would have turned 84 today)

(view from Point lookout where the winter retreat was held)

I’m pretty exhausted but I need to write before things pick up again, and before I get everything that has happened, and the emotions that go with it all.

I’ve recently been making an effort to participate in some perspective shifting. I decided I really need a better outlook for 2009 and since positive things are happening it hasn’t been too hard, but I still tend to get stressed out and unhappy sometimes (which, I know it’s normal, but in the grand scheme of things… it seems kind of silly). So then fate took things in its hands and went a little further than I planned.
In 24 hours I finished The Last Lecture and saw Wit, which I knew going into it would be very intense. While it was intense, it was brilliant. I read the play in college in my theater class, and for a small local theater with all my friends in it to take on such a piece of work, was so impressive, and made me proud.

I won’t reveal too much, but it is about a poetry professor battling cancer, and her time in the hospital. She is sarcastic and witty to get through everything. There were times I just laughed out loud because the hospital scenarios were SO realistic, and I have actually reacted in similar ways. I wish I could’ve known her.

The same thing applies to Randy Pausch of the Last Lecture. I thought I would cry, but I ended up laughing more. These people both knew they were nearing the ends of their lives, but instead of living in sadness and fear, they lived every moment as if it WAS their last. They spent the time teaching others about the value of life and the things they had learned. Randy spoke about considering how you want to spend each moment and that realizing the importance of each moment is crucial to live happily. Things like that really echoed that I need to live for myself, and not let negativity of others bring me down for an entire day. There is only so much we can control in situations, so we need to seize all of those things we do have control over, and everything else we need to let go of. Whatever is meant to be, will be. It was just such an eye opening, refreshing reminder to truly seize the day with all your might.

I have always been a firm believer of “life is short.” But sometimes it is nice to have a reminder (as crushing as it is that we lost these amazing people). I am so aware of life right now. Everything feels beautiful.

This weekend I went to the Winter Retreat that is put on by the agency I work for, The Maine Support Network. I was unsure how it would go since I was supposed to do a workshop but it got cancelled due to low attendance (a lot did…they had the lowest turnout for the conference because of budget cuts in education). No matter what, I was excited to travel, and it would only be as fulfilling as I made it, so I went with an open mind.

It ended up being a great time and very inspirational. The focus was on autism, and although I don’t have any “students” perse, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could use what I learned in my own work with youth leaders, and a lot of what we learned could apply to children with any special health need.

One of the speakers was Stephen Shore, who has written several books on autism, and is just brilliant (and funny!) In his presentation he mentioned his autobiography, and a chime went off in my head. “oh hey…I’m writing an autobiography. This is what I want to do!” So after his speech, I bought his book, had him sign it and said “So, you wrote an autobiography! I’m attempting to do the same thing, but it’s challenging… any words of wisdom.”

He thought that was very cool and gave me the best, simplest advice I have received from a writer yet. All advice is valuable, but “well you just got to do it.” Is more vast and overwhelming than helpful. But Stephen said to me, “you have to break it into chapters. Sometimes a story might have to be two chapters, but you just pretend each chapter is a bucket and sort it all out.”
It seemed so simple and so clear! Why do we let things overwhelm us so much? Break it down. Take it one step at a time.

The more I hear people tell their stories, the more I figure out how to tell mine. The vision of my book is getting clearer and clearer. I actually got so inspired at the conference that I wanted to run out of the workshops and just WRITE! Of course it comes at such inopportune times, but that is why I’m writing now, while everything is still fresh….I will get in a habit of making it not such a daunting task.

I have no doubt in my mind it will come together, and it will happen. I feel in every part of my body that it is what I was meant to do. And I know I will.

The other speaker that we had there was Sue Rubin. For the first 13 years of her life, she was unable to communicate, but eventually she discovered the world of facilitated communication and was able to express everything she had absorbed while being unable to communicate. Her story is incredibly inspiring and we also have so much in common! Except….she lives in California.

She made me realize, once again, how incredibly lucky I am, just for even the small thing that I can communicate my thoughts and feelings, and although initially people may think I am younger than I am, I do not have to struggle with society endlessly to prove my intelligence because of my diagnosis. It made me want to communicate even more to tell the stories of those who can not, and speak about all the challenges people face while trying to live successfully, whatever that may mean for them.

It was a little strange to not BE a presenter, but I think it was good for me. I was still able to network, but I also could just sit back and take it all in. Seeing the speakers like Stephen and Sue, really re-emphasized the importance of what we all are doing and made me want to soar forward in the world of advocacy and continue to speak up.
We all have different stories to tell, different expertise to offer, and different diagnoses. But regardless what anyone may say, we have learned a lot in our lives, and


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Here comes 2009

The rest of fall has come and gone.  It was a beautiful, simple holiday with a lot of relaxation and family time.  A lot of things are changing, but I feel really good about life right now.

I'm sorry I've been kind of abandoning this place for the past couple of months, but I have been very busy with work and life, but I'm back now and one of my resolutions (although in the past I haven't made them) is to Blog more.... so here I am.

I won't go into great depth about the past, but I will present you with my crazy itinerary for the upcoming  months!  The travel blog will be seeing a lot of me so stay tuned!

It's going to be pretty intense much like last year!  And I'm completely pumped!

Northport Maine for the MSN winter retreat. 

Staying here: 

AMCHP Conference 2009 in Crystal City, VA
Presenting on involving youth in successful needs assessments
Also- representing KASA at the annual family voices gala.  Anything with the word gala in it makes me happy!  

Staying here:

Visions of Community Conference in Boston
Presenting on Transitioning to adulthood in the healthcare world.

Staying here:
(oooh flashbacks. Four of us shared a one bed room here when our car got stolen. Fond fond memories. Although it is a sweet hotel!)

Eat, drink and be merry with no other agenda with the bff :-)

April????? There must be something in april…..?

ICYCC 09 conference- Ft. Lauderdale, FLORIDA
Presenting on engaging youth in policy change and leadership.

ALSO, MY 24TH BIRTHDAY. oh heeeeey.

Staying here: 
(um, at one of them? Not sure yet. ….hmmm)

OLEY 2009- St. Petersburg, FLORIDA
Just attending, being awesome, and enjoying learning and networking.   And the beach...some more.

Staying here: 


completely pumped. oh man. watch out 09. Here I come.

The diva is back ♥