What I’ve Learned Living On My Own

If you have been with me for the past year and a half, you know I have been living on my own (well, with the 3 animals). While it’s not the ideal situation by any means, God has certainly used it to help me grow in my faith and as a person.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve had the opportunity to change. I’ve become more comfortable in my skin. I’ve been able to look at what I am truly passionate about and adjust my goals.

So, if you’re interested in finding out a bit about what I’ve learned living on my own, take a look.

Have you lived on your own? What was your experience like? Did you learn anything?

Judgement (Isn’t) For The Dogs

I’ve expressed many times that Belle is my support. I honestly do not know what I would be like through all this if I did not have her by my side. Her affection, training her, hiking with her…it has all provided me with ways to either get out of my own head of transfer my anxiety or depression into a worthwhile and meaningful experience.

But I have seen a lot of comments on some social media sites–mainly the ones that happen to pop up on my news feed and are organizations that “help” people get ESAs (you know, the “registry” type sites)–that have upset me. Some people say that an excitable dog would not make for a good ESA, and they imply that those with that type of dog as an ESA is faking it. Other comments show judgment toward the dog, saying that an aggressive dog is not an ESA.

Who are you to say that my excitable dog does not provide me the emotional support I need from her? You don’t know me or what I struggle with. You have not worked with her. You do not know us.

Who are you to judge that someone’s dog is aggressive? Barking does not signify aggression. Jumping does not signify aggression. You don’t know her like I do.

I know judgement on dogs will (probably) always exist, but it is frustrating. So, like any writer, I took action by writing about it.

Have you ever judged a dog by its appearance? Or even by its breed?

An Instructor’s Perspective

As you are probably already aware, I am a college-level instructor. I have been for four years, and, for the most part, it is the most rewarding job–aside from writing, of course–that I have had. I love seeing my students suddenly “get it” or come to me and tell me the concepts they learned in class paid off in the “real world.”

I teach both in person an online courses, and, while they both have their learning curves, I have noticed I struggle the most with the online ones. Maybe it’s because you just don’t get the same level of interaction you would from an in person class, no matter how hard you may try. And maybe it’s because the internet is treated as if we are all anonymous. (I assure you, that is not true at all, and it’s something I am extremely aware of.)

So, after a year of teaching online courses, I began compiling a list of some of the common things I noticed and things I wish I could tell students. Being an online student isn’t easy, but there are always steps we can take to make ourselves good stewards of that learning environment.

Have you been, or are you currently, been an online student? What did you think? What would you add to the list?

Being an Only Child

Only children get a bad rap. I should know; I am one. And I’ve heard it all–naive, selfish, too protected, spoiled, and then some. I get it. Really, I do. But then we get into the argument of nature versus nurture, and, really, it’s not my place to “blame” my parents for choosing to only have one child.

I am different than most only children, though. When I was young, my Nana moved across country to, in essence, be my caretaker. Instead of a babysitter or after school daycare, while both my parents worked full time careers, my Nana picked me up from school and took care of me.

As I’ve grown up, and as I have been going through the battle I am currently facing, I have had an opportunity to reflect on my status as an only child and the impact it has had on me. Just like anything, there are positives and negatives, but those experiences have helped shape me.

For an in-depth look, take a look at my latest article, On Being An Only Child, with Coffee House Writers.

Believe in Second Chances

I had a friend tell me recently that part of having faith and trusting God is about believing in our prayers. I have been praying hard every day for what seems to be forever, and I have felt as if I am on the cusp of something. I had an opportunity to reveal my heart, and I can only hope and pray it made a positive impact.

I’ve noticed one thing throughout this struggle: my heart has not changed. Inspired by this realization, I wrote a poem: Second Chances.

I encourage you to remember we all change and grow, and that we deserve for others to make the decision if they want to know the “new” us. If they say yes, give them that opportunity because, chances are, they have also grown and changed. Second chances can be scary, especially because we aren’t sure what is going to come of them. But we have to step out in faith.

What second chances do you need to give?

Innocent

Ever since I can remember, my peers have called me innocent. And I don’t mean in the sense that one is either innocent or guilty. I mean in the “you’re so innocent, you’re stupid” connotation. The only person who had ever said it in even a remotely loving way was my husband. When he said it, it was usually followed by a kiss on the head or cheek.

As an only child, I was sheltered in some senses. My parents did not see a need to worry me unnecessarily about world events I wouldn’t understand anyway, unless I came to them worried. On the other hand, because of this status of only child, I was around adults more, and I was privileged with knowing and understanding more information quicker than my peers. That information, though, was usually not something important to my age group. Instead, I began early to understand appropriate speaking times, conversation skills, listening and feedback, observation…Basically, all the things I ended up going to college for.

I was also taught to never stop learning. To question. To be creative. To have childlike wonder and childlike faith. And sometimes those things are considered innocent and naive.

As I’ve been partaking in therapy, it is something I have been forced to deal with, because it is something that has greatly affected the way I view myself. As a writer, my way to “deal” is to write. So, I wrote a poem.

As I’ve been learning about myself and doing things I enjoy, I have come to one conclusion: innocence is okay. After all, the things happening in this world suck sometimes, so maybe we need a bit more childlike wonder.

A Fear of Spiders

A necessary evil of having two (wonderful) kitties is the twice daily cleaning of the litter box.

As I was cleaning the litter box the other day, I came across a huge (uh…to me) spider, and I let out a scream before realizing no one is going to come to destroy the spider for me. I stared at this thing for a solid minute, panicking, trying to think of how to kill it.

In case you can’t tell, I have a huge fear of spiders. I don’t really know why other than that they look really creepy. Or maybe it was the weird story I heard about brown recluse spiders when I was a kid… Either way, I just don’t. Do. Spiders. So when I saw this spider, I just freaked. I instantly started thinking about how long it had been there, had the cats encountered it, had it hurt the cats, was it going to jump on me as I tried to kill it…? (I know, none of those are exactly sane thoughts.)

But it reminded me of how I’ve always begged my husband to kill the spiders. So I did what any writer does–I wrote about it. Specifically, I wrote a poem.

I am by no means over my fear of spiders. I would still rather not encounter them at all. But I’ve realized this is an opportunity to tackle things on my own, including my fears.