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From a teacher in Florida - a blog on Facebook that is going viral.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I am a teacher in Florida.

I rise before dawn each day and find myself nestled in my classroom hours before the morning commute is in full swing in downtown Orlando. I scour the web along with countless other resources to create meaningful learning experiences for my 24 students each day. I reflect on the successes of lessons taught and re-work ideas until I feel confident that they will meet the needs of my diverse learners. I have finished my third cup of coffee in my classroom before the business world has stirred. My contracted hours begin at 7:30 and end at 3:00. As the sun sets around me and people are beginning to enjoy their dinner, I lock my classroom door, having worked 4 hours unpaid.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I greet the smiling faces of my students and am reminded anew of their challenges, struggles, successes, failures, quirks, and needs. I review their 504s, their IEPs, their PMPs, their histories trying to reach them from every angle possible. They come in hungry—I feed them. They come in angry—I counsel them. They come in defeated—I encourage them. And this is all before the bell rings.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I am told that every student in my realm must score on or above grade level on the FCAT each year. Never mind their learning discrepancies, their unstable home lives, their prior learning experiences. In the spring, they are all assessed with one measure and if they don’t fit, I have failed. Students walk through my doors reading at a second grade level and by year’s end can independently read and comprehend early 4th grade texts, but this is no matter. One of my students has already missed 30 school days this year, but that is overlooked. If they don’t perform well on this ONE test in early March, their learning gains are irrelevant. They didn’t learn enough. They didn’t grow enough. I failed them. In the three months that remain in the school year after this test, I am expected to begin teaching 5th grade curriculum to my 4th grade students so that they are prepared for next year’s test.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I am expected to create a culture of students who will go on to become the leaders of our world. When they exit my classroom, they should be fully equipped to compete academically on a global scale. They must be exposed to different worldviews and diverse perspectives, and yet, most of my students have never left Sanford, Florida. Field trips are now frivolous. I must provide new learning opportunities for them without leaving the four walls of our classroom. So I plan. I generate new ways to expose them to life beyond their neighborhoods through online exploration and digital field trips. I stay up past The Tonight Show to put together a unit that will allow them to experience St. Augustine without getting on a bus. I spend weekends taking pictures and creating a virtual world for them to experience, since the State has determined it is no longer worthwhile for them to explore reality. Yes. My students must be prepared to work within diverse communities, and yet they are not afforded the right to ever experience life beyond their own town.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I accepted a lower salary with the promise of a small increase for every year taught. I watched my friends with less education than me sign on for six figure jobs while I embraced my $28k starting salary. I was assured as I signed my contract that although it was meager to start, my salary would consistently grow each year. That promise has been broken. I’m still working with a meager salary, and the steps that were contracted to me when I accepted a lower salary are now deemed “unnecessary.”

I am a teacher in Florida.

I spent $2500 in my first year alone to outfit an empty room so that it would promote creative thinking and a desire to learn and explore. I now average between $1000-2000 that I pay personally to supplement the learning experiences that take place in my classroom. I print at home on my personal printer and have burned through 12 ink cartridges this school year alone. I purchase the school supplies my students do not have. I buy authentic literature so my students can be exposed to authors and worlds beyond their textbooks. I am required to teach Social Studies and Writing without any curriculum/materials provided, so I purchase them myself. I am required to conduct Science lab without Science materials, so I buy those, too. The budgeting process has determined that copies of classroom materials are too costly, so I resort to paying for my copies at Staples, refusing to compromise my students’ education because high-ranking officials are making inappropriate cuts. It is February, and my entire class is out of glue sticks. Since I have already spent the $74 allotted to me for warehouse supplies, if I don’t buy more, we will not have glue for the remainder of the year. The projects I dream up are limited by the incomprehensible lack of financial support. I am expected to inspire my students to become lifelong learners, and yet we don’t have the resources needed to nurture their natural sense of wonder if I don’t purchase them myself. My meager earning is now pathetic after the expenses that come with teaching effectively.

I am a teacher in Florida.

The government has scolded me for failing to prepare my students to compete in this
technologically driven world. Students in Japan are much more equipped to think progressively with regards to technology. Each day, I turn on the two computers afforded me and pray for a miracle. I apply for grants to gain new access to technology and compete with thousands of other teachers who are hoping for the same opportunity. I battle for the right to use the computer lab and feel fortunate if my students get to see it once a week. Why don’t they know how to use technology? The system’s budget refuses to include adequate technology in classrooms; instead, we are continually told that dry erase boards and overhead projectors are more than enough.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I am expected to differentiate my instruction to meet the needs of my 24 learners. Their IQs span 65 points, and I must account for every shade of gray. I must challenge those above grade level, and I must remediate those below. I am but one person within the classroom, but I must meet the needs of every learner. I generate alternate assessments to accommodate for these differences. My higher math students receive challenge work, and my lower math students receive one-on-one instruction. I create most of these resources myself, after-hours and on weekends. I print these resources so that every child in my room has access to the same knowledge, delivered at their specific level. Yesterday, the school printer that I share with another teacher ran out of ink. Now I must either purchase a new ink cartridge for $120, or I cannot print anything from my computer for the remainder of the year. What choice am I left with?

I am a teacher in Florida.

I went to school at one of the best universities in the country and completed undergraduate and graduate programs in Education. I am a master of my craft. I know what effective teaching entails, and I know how to manage the curriculum and needs of the diverse learners in my full inclusion classroom. I graduated at the top of my class and entered my first year of teaching confident and equipped to teach effectively. Sadly, I am now being micro-managed, with my instruction dictated to me. I am expected to mold “out-of-the-box” thinkers while I am forced to stay within the lines of the instructional plans mandated by policy-makers. I am told what I am to teach and when, regardless of the makeup of my students, by decision-makers far away from my classroom or even my school. The message comes in loud and clear that a group of people in business suits can more effectively determine how to provide exemplary instruction than I can. My expertise is waved away, disregarded, and overlooked. I am treated like a day-laborer, required to follow the steps mapped out for me, rather than blaze a trail that I deem more appropriate and effective for my students—students these decision-makers have never met.

I am a teacher in Florida.

I am overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated by most. I spend my weekends, my vacations, and my summers preparing for school, and I constantly work to improve my teaching to meet the needs of my students. I am being required to do more and more, and I’m being compensated less and less.

I am a teacher in Florida, not for the pay or the hardships, the disregard or the disrespect; I am a teacher in Florida because I am given the chance to change lives for the good, to educate and elevate the minds and hearts of my students, and to show them that success comes in all shapes and sizes, both in the classroom and in the community.

I am a teacher in Florida today, but as I watch many of my incredible, devoted coworkers being forced out of the profession as a matter of survival, I wonder: How long will I be able to remain a teacher in Florida?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURELSPARK 8/17/2011 6:30PM

    How depressing.......

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JENBELLE 8/16/2011 8:59PM

    This is a powerful statement. I'm a 7th grade public school teacher myself and can relate to every point in this well-written statement. In my opinion it's the best profession in the world because of the KIDS but the higher-up mandates are causing all of us to wither, stress, and struggle. Thank you for posting this.

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THINLADY2011 8/16/2011 7:16PM

    Painfully familiar... except I never even got to teach, officially. A semester of subbing and one year of being a TA, and I'm running back to school for a master's, in hopes of helping our students with disabilities in a non-classroom-teacher capacity. It's so much to handle.

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HDHAWK 8/16/2011 6:42PM

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I hope many non-teachers read it!

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KERRY4614 8/16/2011 6:12PM

    PURPLESPEDCOW I resigned then changed that to early retirement in January. If I would not have resigned my principal could have requested that I be fired.I worked 2 hours every morning and stayed till at least 6 every night. My principal did not like the way I was teaching but in the back of my mind I will always feel because of budget cuts she did not want my salary on her budget when she could get someone with a provisional license. Two masters that we are still paying the student loans equals salary bumps which will be eliminated now that our governor does not allow collective bargaining for state unions . emoticon

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MILLISMA 8/16/2011 6:03PM

    It makes you want to cry. Thanks for posting this. Hopefully the people that need to read it will!

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PAWSINAZ 8/16/2011 5:41PM

    Sounds like Arizona.

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JMCADE 8/16/2011 5:28PM

    My daughter teaches in Texas 5th grade reading and writing and I know how much money she has put into her room and her library as I help her set it up each year and level her books. I know it can be so frustrating for teachers.

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JOYINKY 8/16/2011 5:21PM

    I think it's like this all over the country. Got so I didn't like the teacher I was becoming. No room for creativity, micro managed and working 60+ hours a week as well as being held accountable for the failures of families and society. Sad. I opted for early retirement while I still had my health and have never regreted the decision. God Bless You!

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MAGGIEROSEBOWL 8/16/2011 4:56PM

    I know how frustrating it is to work so hard and not be rewarded in kind. However, I'd have given everything I had to get one of those low-paying, unappreciated teaching jobs back in 1974 when I graduated with a teaching degree. There were no teaching jobs to be had back then, so I have spent the last 34 years in an underpaid (even MORE underpaid than a teacher), unappreciated job (not a career) as a secretary.
I guess there's two sides to every story!

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ETHANCULLENSMOM 8/16/2011 4:49PM

    I WAS a teaching in SC and battled the same problems. Unfortunately, we moved and I had to leave, but I would still be keeping on as well.

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Funny Teacher Story

Friday, August 12, 2011

I found this on the internet and thought I would share a laugh on a Friday.

About a quarter of my first period students were late coming to class and one young lady (who had more body piercing than I have fingers) was particularly disruptive as she entered. When I asked her to please take her seat and work quietly, she gave me the look — you know the look: “I don’t have to do what you say because you’re just a sub.” About 20 minutes before the end of class, she asked for a restroom pass, which I refused her because it was near the end of the period and because the school’s policy (written policy anyway) is for subs to *not* give hall passes. She proceeded to argue (loudly) with me about the restroom pass in front of the class for several minutes before returning to her desk. After a few minutes, I noticed she wasn’t doing her class work, so I asked her if she had finished. When she said she had, I asked if I could see it. “I don’t have to show you ****!” (obscenity omitted) she screamed. I had taken enough of her disrespect and defiance, so I wrote her up a referral and sent her out to the support room (on- campus suspension). She ripped the referral from my hand, threw her backpack against the wall on her way out of the room, and slammed the door behind her. A little while later during nutrition break (a 15-minute break between 2nd and 3rd periods at this high school), I had the good fortune to run across this student again. On seeing me, she began screaming obscenities at me in the halls. I related this behavior to the assistant principal, whose only response (despite the school’s “no hall passes from subs” policy) was “Next time, give the student a restroom pass to avoid this sort of situation.” *sigh* I got an encore performance in 3rd period — Not just one student, but two, got referrals and got sent out. One was for repeatedly shouting obscenities in class and the other was for *gulp* threatening the substitute teacher with violence. As the latter was on the way out of the room, he called me all sorts of pleasant names and swore he would get me back. I sure love high school students. So the day continued until 6th period — the period when I was to fill- in for the English teacher. I went to this teacher’s classroom and found his lesson plans, with the following notation: “During 6th period, I am in charge of the support room around the corner in room E16.” I nearly fainted — the support room is where discipline cases are sent as an alternative to off-campus suspension. As it turns out, though, the support room wasn’t too bad — most of the students there were sufficiently cowed by being sent out of their regular classes. As I was trying to quiet down one rowdy student near the end of the day, though, another student made a comment that pretty much summed up my day: “Man, if I were a substitute teacher, I’d be an alcoholic!”

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOMKAT4310 8/16/2011 7:57PM

    I've subbed in every grade level from Birth to 3 through high school, and worked at a college graduate program. Most of my sub days, I really loved. Some were the pits, like the sub in the story. I've worked with incarcerated youth, in domestic violence shelter and in a homeless program with primarily federal felons. Without a doubt, the worst days were in junior high/middle school programs. That;s why I work with Severe and Profound students. I used to believe that we teachers cut our teeth on subbing, learning from good professionals. I don't believe that any more. We get great subs occasionally, but more often we get retired teachers who sub to supplement retirement income, don't really want to be there, and let everyone know they don't want to be there, and they have no technology skills. So the day those subs are there, our kids who are scheduled for computer lab don't get their turn, because the sub refused to take them - rather than let their ignorance show. Those teachers can;t use the Intelli-boards, Smart boards, or text to screen projectors, don't give the students with special accommodations the appropriate help ( love the ones who say, "in my day........blah) because they deny the value of multiple entry points in learning. You really have to learn how to be an effective sub, but that will go a long way to helping you impress enough people to become a full time teacher. Except along the way, you may decide you really don't want to be a full time teacher, and you change career paths.


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KITTYKITTEMMING 8/16/2011 8:31AM

    As a special education teacher, I can definitely relate. There are days I come home saying that if I were a drinking woman... Those are usually the days of drama and acting out incidents by a majority of my students instead of the normal one or two.

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ERTSMOM 8/13/2011 7:44AM

    ...exactly the reason i'm in education but NOT a teacher.

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MRDPOLING 8/13/2011 7:10AM

    And thus the reason what I chose not to go into teaching!

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 8/12/2011 10:26PM

    Wow. This is more of a sad story than funny, I think. My sweet daughter, Heather graduated at the top of her class with honors, and was a science teacher. Since there was an overage of teachers when she graduated, she took a job at an alternative high school. She was threatened, verbally abused, and disrespected. Then, they moved near Chicago and she taught in the rough schools of Joliet. Needless to say, this brilliant, wonderful science teacher is now a vet tech.

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DJ4HEALTH 8/12/2011 9:28PM

    I am glad that I am not a teacher and I do know that this stuff goes on in school and the parents always try to make their child into angles. What a joke.

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SISTERDEAR 8/12/2011 9:00PM

    emoticon

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VICKY31MOM 8/12/2011 8:30PM

    And this... is why Im glad I chose early childhood education!!!! LOL!!!!

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JMCADE 8/12/2011 8:13PM

    Wow, I am going to forward this to my daughter the school teacher. She'll get a kick out of it.

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JUDY1676 8/12/2011 8:08PM

    That's exacty whyi didn't sub after I retired! emoticon

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GOOZLEBEAR 8/12/2011 6:50PM

    I can appreciate this story as I use to do substitute teaching in the high school. NEVER again!!!!!

Thanks for sharing!

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SHERYL_B 8/12/2011 6:27PM

    emoticon - um yeah, that's me drinking water - uh - sure!!!

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MSLZZY 8/12/2011 5:32PM

    I would think twice about being an alcoholic but after that kind of day, a drink might taste pretty good. LOL! I guess I am glad we live in a small town where
most of the students are have better behavior.

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LAWMOMSPLACE 8/12/2011 5:15PM

  As a retired counselor who often subs in the local school district, the story is a reminder of how subbing has been, is, and can be!

Thanks for sharing,



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Daughter's Family Has Moved to MA!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Just a quick blog to let my friends here know that my DD2 and her family had a good move to MA.
Of course they had a good driver for the truck:


They say they are half way un packed already so went to see some sights:


Seems some things that were in Baltimore are also found in their new home! Which is a good thing.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LAURALOVESSPARK 8/15/2011 12:53PM

    Very cute blog, and very cute DGD! emoticon

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ITSTHENEWLAUREN 8/9/2011 10:42AM

  emoticon I'm glad to hear the move went smoothly!

You grand daughter is such a CUTIE! emoticon

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SHAKENMA 8/9/2011 7:52AM

    So cute! emoticon

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NUTTYSNOOPYFAN 8/8/2011 8:43PM

    Glad they got to their new home and are already well on the road to being settled in...I'm jealous! As always, adorable pics of the little one!

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JOYINKY 8/7/2011 8:56AM

    Wonderful pictures of your cute granddaughter! My daughter is in MD, visiting here right now in KY; the internet keeps us in touch daily and we send lots of pictures back and forth. Distance today isn't what it used to be I even video chat with my MD grandchildren. So glad their move went well, sounds like they are enjoying their new home already.

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ERTSMOM 8/7/2011 8:37AM

    I'm glad to hear the move went well...and to see your granddaughter having so much fun :)

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MSLZZY 8/7/2011 7:49AM

    What a cutie! So glad all went well! HUGS!

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KAKIPOPUP 8/7/2011 6:53AM

    Amherst is a great college town - maybe we can get together when you come up for a visit (it's about 35 miles away from where I am)...



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PURPLESPEDCOW 8/7/2011 12:37AM

    They moved from Baltimore to Amherst so while we could drive to Baltimore in 12 hours, we will have to fly now because it is about 8 hours further by driving. But that will not stop me from visiting them whenever I can.

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LITTLEFARMMOMMA 8/6/2011 11:53PM

    I sure hope that it's not farther for you to visit them, and visa versa! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GOOZLEBEAR 8/6/2011 11:16PM

    Adorable pictures of your sweet DGD! Glad your DD2 had a safe trip moving and found things that they like in their new town! You will have fun visiting them there too!!!

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MOMKAT4310 8/6/2011 11:10PM

    Well, that gives you a new place to go visit. Have also been thinking of your son's new job. Exciting stuff happening.

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Test Results from Lab work - Finally

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I had my physical on July 19th and then went to Baltimore for my daughter's public presentation of her Ph.D. research. My phone was hit by power during a storm and was flaky when we got back so no results were left for me. I called the office asked them to mail my results to me. Those results came in today. So while I seem to be stuck at the same weight (forever), here are the results (first number is Jan.'s and second number is July's)

total cholesterol: 195 to 180
HDL: 61 to 62
LDL: 111 to 92
triglycerides: 111 to 130
A1C: 6.6 to 6.3

These results are awesome! Especially since I was having trouble getting my fasting glucose readings in the morning where the doctor wants them. I guess I am doing well and Spark is a big reason why. I will keep doing what I am doing and work on those last 10 pounds!

I am doing the Happy Dance!!!!!!!!!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TAMMYTH64 8/6/2011 7:56PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Looking great!

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NUTTYSNOOPYFAN 8/6/2011 5:17PM

    FABULOUS! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LAURELSPARK 8/4/2011 8:09PM

    Congrats!!

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JEN_BACK2BASICS 8/4/2011 6:49PM

    emoticon Keep it up, you are doing great!

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GOOZLEBEAR 8/3/2011 10:21PM

    Great news, you are doing awesome!!!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MOMKAT4310 8/3/2011 9:51PM

    Yippee!!!!! Great job. While you may not have lost pounds, you have made substantial gains. Congrats.
emoticon

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ERTSMOM 8/3/2011 9:08PM

    emoticon You've done a great job getting healthy :)

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KAKIPOPUP 8/3/2011 8:14PM

    Doing the happy dance with you- congratulations!

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JOANNS4 8/3/2011 7:47PM

    emoticonresults.


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TWEETIEBIRDIE 8/3/2011 7:21PM

    That is a reason to celebrate! I teach Special Ed too and the students arrive next week already! Keep going and stay healthy...you are making progress!!!

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MSLZZY 8/3/2011 6:02PM

    Great news! HUGS!

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THINLADY2011 8/3/2011 4:49PM

    Way to go! emoticon

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ANDREWS_MOM 8/3/2011 4:38PM

    Great job!
So glad you got good news!!
The last few pounds always seem to be the hardest....i'm stuck too w/another 10-15 lbs needing to come off.
Hugs

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ITSTHENEWLAUREN 8/3/2011 4:36PM

  emoticon Good work!!

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SSV Challenge - Forgive Myself

Friday, July 29, 2011

I came up with this challenge and I think it is very hard to do.
I want to forgive myself to using food to feel voids in my life. I moved a lot as a kid and didn't make friends easily. I used food as an escape. I had several scary things happen with males when I was a young teen and unconsciously I used weight to hide behind. I am sorry that happened to my younger self, but that all happened a long time ago. It is time to put these things in their place...not forgotten, but forgiven.
I know now that I am in charge.
I know now that I am smart.
I know now that I am good at my job.
I know that I raised three productive children who will make a great contribution to the society.
I know that I never dealt with what happened. I forgive my younger self for coping the best she could. Now I need to do the work to make my journey lead to my goal.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOANNS4 8/2/2011 8:25AM

    A great blog. You can do it!
emoticon

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ELSCO55 7/31/2011 12:56PM

    emoticon

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ERTSMOM 7/30/2011 4:01PM

    You are such an inspiration - to share with your SparkFriends about your past and open up about how you are going to move forward.
emoticon

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JOYINKY 7/30/2011 8:33AM

    It is hard to do but certainly a worthy goal! Be well.

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KDYLOSE 7/30/2011 8:18AM

    I can totally relate to this. We have to forgive our younger selves for being young and human.

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KERRY4614 7/30/2011 8:15AM

    What a important step you are making ! Working on personal demons can be so difficult.

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RAINBOWFALLS 7/30/2011 7:21AM

    emoticon That sounds like a great plan!

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MRDPOLING 7/30/2011 4:03AM

    Great blog!

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