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The Power of 10

This year is a milestone year in many ways for me and the number ten appears to bee a significant one. Why is that, you might ask? It all boils down to two things—ten years ago I graduated high school and ten years ago I began working at my current employer, Kohl’s. In retrospect I have to admit that the girl I was ten years ago and the woman I am today appear to be polar opposites.

When I was eighteen I was cocky, somewhat obnoxious, and desperate for friends no matter how toxic those friendships could be. Ten years later approaching the end of my twenties I must admit that I am actually more socially awkward and starting to like myself as a person more. The person I am today has been shaped by the events of the past ten years and I feel like 2008 was an entire lifetime ago in terms of personal growth and maturity.

I wish that I could tell that eighteen-year-old that sometimes not fitting in is okay and that you don’t have to try so hard to make friends. I look at that girl in pictures and see someone who was trying too hard to be cool when in reality it was all an act. I see myself today and know that I am more self-assured and comfortable with the core group of people that I surround myself with.

I know much more about life and adulting then I did ten years ago. I pay a lot of my own bills, have my own dental and vision insurance, know how to save and budget my money, and have even paid off one of my student loans. Success for me comes in increments due to the fact that I have a nonverbal learning disability and a chromosomal abnormality.

This nonverbal learning disability affects every aspect of my life including my visual-spatial skills, my ability to navigate spaces, my coping mechanisms, and my ability to develop a social life. The only friends I have are my family members and my co-workers. I have no friends my own age and the only friends close to my age are online and live far away from me.

Despite all of this I must admit that I am very fortunate in the life that I have. I have a supportive and loving family who provides support and encouragement and can take me to all of the places I need to or want to go to. I literally work five minutes away from my house in a store where I am loved and respected by co-workers, managers, and supervisors. I have been the recipient of accolades from customers and my employer including winning associate of the month twice in my ten-year tenure at my store. Did I ever anticipate this ten years ago when I first started working there? No, I must admit that I did not. I had unrealistic aspirations that I was going to go away to college after two years of community college. I now realize that this would have been a mistake because I am in no way, shape, or form prepared for independent living.

When I look at my high school classmates on social media, I see engagements, weddings, children, expensive vacations, and their own homes. Do I want that kind of life? I do not because I like the feeling of being able to live my life on my own terms. I am still a person in a cycle of growth and learning and living a life where I am not judged or ridiculed for any flaws that I may have. I am no longer that young girl starving for attention; instead, I am a woman who knows that attention is earned by the successes in one’s personal and professional lives. I may not work in a job where I am utilizing the skills I learned in college but I am working towards a goal of finding that right job. Right now, I am in a good place where I do not have nasty supervisors and managers and know that I can always address any issues that I have at work with them and have them resolved in a manner where I am not degraded or reprimanded by anyone.

The power of ten is that it is an impactful number. It represents overcoming challenges both personally and professionally and continually learning the skills that I need to succeed in all aspects of my life. It means that I have accumulated a wealth of experiences and wisdom that I can transfer to my next employer whenever that may be. I look at the stressful work lives of my family and am slowly realizing that I have a job that overall is not overly stressful; instead, it is a routine job where I know what to do and how to proactively resolve any issues that I may encounter. It is a job where I am valued and constantly reminded of that by co-workers and upper management. Life is a series of changes and challenges but for now my life is one that is fulfilling, educational, enriching, and so many other positive descriptors. A decade is a long time and I hope that the next decade brings even greater rewards and accomplishments in my life and the lives of my family members.image1v2

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Christmas Blessings

Christmas is coming and I’m filled with good cheer

Thinking of all of the blessings I’ve had this year

Life hasn’t always been easy

Things haven’t been in my control

But when I truly reflect

I realize what my blessings are

My family and friends

My life and opportunities

Things have never been this way before

Christmas blessings like presents fade

But relationships have no end

Will life always be like this

No one can tell

But blessings will always be there

Fighting for you till the end

Never letting you go

And keeping you from

Losing all control

Yes, these blessings

Are incredible

Can’t thank my Lord enough

For the blessings he has bestowed upon me

I pray every night

And hope

That against all odds

Everyone will have a shot

At having Christmas blessings of their own

Anxiety Perils

Anxiety has always been my plight

Fears for the future

Fears for the present

When will things change?

Work fills my heart

With dangerous anxiety

Will things get better?

Chest tight

Breathing hurts

The curse of anxiety

Maybe it’s all my fault

Maybe it’s not

I don’t know what to think

Anxiety is full of peril

Can lead you down dark paths

Still it clings to me

I wonder when it will stop

I just need a sign

That things will improve

And let this anxiety

Drift away

Let this anxiety be part of the past

And not define my present

Anxiety can be dangerous

And so is mine

So let us hope

That anxiety will not steal me away

The Discovery

In early 2010 my mom was doing some research online and found out about a learning disability called nonverbal learning disability. Many of the traits that individuals with this disability had were similar to those that I possessed. For example, those with NLD are often very black and white and literal in thinking which is definitely me and have poor spatial sense which is me to a tee. They can be prone to anxiety and depression due to difficulties with the subtle nuances of social communication such as nonverbal communication, body language, and social cues.

Her doctor recommended that I consult a neuropsychologist so off we went to seek answers. My entire medical history was laid out before this doctor and an appointment was made for a neuropsychological evaluation. At about the time of my evaluation I had just turned twenty which was a sad but also exciting milestone. Anyway, the evaluation was an all-day session from 10-4, and my evaluator was surprised at my verbal abilities (another classic sign of NLD—our verbal intelligence is often much stronger than our spatial intelligence.) It would be another week or so before we went back to the neuropsychologist’s office where I was formally diagnosed with NLD. It felt great to have a name for at least part of the disabilities that I had.

Now that I knew I had NLD, I started joining groups dedicated to helping individuals with NLD on Facebook as well as some email lists. I wanted to learn as much as I could about NLD and the more I found out the more I realized just how much in common I had with other individuals with this learning disability. It was the first time I was able to talk to other people who had struggled with same of the issues I’d had throughout my life. I had always felt different from others my age and now I was beginning to think that my social issues stemmed from my NLD.

My NLD has impacted my life in a variety of ways. It has affected my social skills and my ability to get around independently due to my very poor spatial abilities. I have been fortunate to have a great support system in my family and they have helped me to improve both socially and spatially. I used to get lost on the campus of the community college I attended all the time but when I transferred to a nearby university I was able to figure out the campus in a week due to the cognitive therapy I had that summer.

Can I say that life has always been easy with NLD? No, I can’t honestly say that. I can admit though that it does not define who I am as a person. I have transcended my disability and become an advocate for others with NLD through my Facebook page and have managed to maintain a part-time job at a major local department store for almost eight years. That truly is something to celebrate and I couldn’t have gotten this far without the support and guidance of my family.

College

College is a time of transition

A time to change

College can be stressful

Don’t let it overwhelm you

What makes you stronger

Are the challenges to overcome

The struggles you encounter

Will only make you a better person in the end

College

It can be a scary thing

On your own for the first time

Remember who your friends are

And your family, too

They will stay by your side

Through thick and through thin

They will always be there for you

You will shine in college

Brighter than the rest

You will thrive in college

Your life will never be the same again

Yes, college is a new journey

But the end result

Is working to fulfill your greatest dreams

And there is truly nothing better than that

Getting Older

Getting older isn’t easy

Like chasing dreams that seem impossible

Life is moving too fast

I’m just trying to catch up

I wish I could turn back time and rewind

To the days when everything was easy

Things sometimes seem so hard

I wish for good things to come

Getting older is so hard

With each passing day I wonder

If I’m doing enough to make my life

As great as it could be

So grateful though to have my family

Constantly at my side

With them as my support

Getting older will be easier

Because I know I have people

There for me and ready

To be the comfort I need

In my most trying times

Okay

I’ve been thinking about you

Hoping everything will be okay

That it’ll all work out in the end

Because you mean so much to me

And have always been my friend

Through thick and thin you’ve been there

Forever at my side

My life’s better with you in it

With you I have nothing to hide

Thank you for the memories

I hope that more will come

And everything will be okay

Because you’re my number one

Lost for Words

Sometimes I just don’t know what to say
I’m just lost for words
Speechless and grasping in conversation
I wonder what’s wrong
But I can’t express it
I find myself lost for words
Struggling to know what needs to be said
Will you help me find my way?
I’m still lost for words
Drowning in the endless sea
Wishing and hoping
Someone will come and save the day
Maybe one day the words will come
I’ll finally be able to converse
And say the things that are necessary
Pertinent
And worthy of your time

The Social Conundrum

I have always had a hard time making friends. I never understood how other people my age were able to make friends so easily while I struggled socially. It was so difficult to find the right people to be friends with because I had a tendency to latch onto people who weren’t the best people to be friends with. They were the type of people who could get you into trouble or into very uncomfortable situations. I think this was a sign of desperation as I would become friends with anyone who seemed nice to me.
What I have learned over time though is that friendships take time to develop and that you never know when you’ll meet those who could be the best friends you could ever want. I’ve had such friendships develop at my retail job and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
What I have learned over time though is that friendships take time to develop and that you never know when you’ll meet those who could be the best friends you could ever want. I’ve had such friendships develop at my retail job and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. My coworkers are generally awesome people who really care about each other and will be there for you through thick and thin. I’m fortunate to have forged such relationships at work because I know that others may deal with drama at work. While there is some drama at work that does personally affect me, we generally tend to get along with one another.
I wish that I could make friends outside of work though. I often wonder why I can never seem to get people to like me enough to want to hang out with me. It hurts to go onto social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram and see pictures of good times that coworkers and others have with one another. This is one of the hardest aspects of my life to confront. It can truly be considered a conundrum for me.
What has worked for me socially is to engage with others in online groups and try to connect with those who have similar interests to me. This is how I’ve met some great people who I am friends with outside of the group. I have matured more as well over the years so I am better at showing empathy with others and really try to be a good friend to those that I interact with.
I just wish sometimes that things could be different and that I could have an active social life. With all of the hurdles I’ve crossed in my life this is one that always seems to be an obstacle. I used to wonder what it would be like if I had a different life where I was popular and had a lot of friends. I know it will happen someday but for now I am glad to have my work friends and family to be a source of support and comfort.

How to Deal with Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is a problem that has plagued writers for years. I am almost positive that even the most successful and prolific authors have had bouts of writer’s block over the years. The issue though is how to handle this when it arises. I’m still figuring out my strategies of coping with this but here are a few tips when you’re lost for words:
• Put the difficult piece you’re writing aside for a bit and focus on something else. You may come up with ideas for the harder piece when you’re writing or doing something else.
• Do some writing exercises or writing prompts. These may trigger a burst of creativity and lead to some unexpected writing from you.
• Write when you’re most alert and awake. This will allow you to have more creative energy and be able to really focus on the project at hand.
You have to realize that every writer at some point will struggle with a piece that they’re trying to put on paper. Words don’t always come easily and when they finally do come the words may not be the ones you envisioned in your head. Sometimes the words you do end up writing though may be even better than you imagined they could be.
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to your writing. No one will think any less of you because you can’t expect to churn out words all the time. I know I certainly don’t. When the time is right the words will come to you and you could end up writing something quite beautiful and powerful.
Believe in yourself and your ability as a writer and come to terms with the fact that writing is a craft. It takes practice and creative and mental energy to compose great works. Try not to become overwhelmed when confronted with a writing project as this will only hinder your productivity and ability to write.
Other writers have provided advice over the years for coping with obstacles writers face including writer’s block and here are some of their strategies for confronting this issue:
• Maya Angelou wrote: “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks “the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.” And it might just be the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, “Okay. Okay. I’ll come.”
• Neil Gaiman agreed with some of the strategies I wrote earlier and added: “Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see something you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.”
• Anne Lamott, author of writing books such as Bird by Bird, stated: “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of something written, three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how much they hate writing—just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming too arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day.”
• The legendary Mark Twain had good advice for struggling writers when he said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and then starting on the first one.”
• Orson Scott Card had some great advice for those coping with writer’s block and stated: “Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it”, because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work—for you or for the reader.”
These writers are some of the successful writers around and their advice is incredibly helpful for those who wish to pursue writing as a profession. Writing is a communal exercise and with the insights these authors have provided, you may find the will to keep on writing and get your creative juices flowing. You may not become the next Hemingway or Twain but you may surprise yourself with what you’re able to produce when you’re in the right frame of mind.
I hope that the advice I’ve provided has enabled you to continue working on the more difficult writing tasks in your life and allow you to forge ahead. You will be grateful that you did because the world needs to read your work and wants to learn from your life experiences. Whether you are writing for fun or for profit you will want to be able to keep on writing the best things possible for your audience. Writing can truly be one of the most cathartic activities around which it has been for me and I definitely struggle with it but I believe that eventually I will power through and write something poignant and meaningful.
Writer’s block will never completely go away but it will improve the more you write. You will be able to dream up new ways to express yourself creatively and be eager and enthusiastic about the writing you’re about to do. Most of all you will be creating a sense of pride at what you are able to accomplish with your writing. It can be one of the most rewarding things that you can ever plan to do in your lifetime. Never give up and remain determined to write things that will mean something in the long run.