The Dragonfly Forest

They have been given names such as devil’s darning needle, ear sewer, horse stinger, skeeter hawk, and the snake’s servant. Actually, Dragonflies are beneficial, peaceful, and stunning. You are a Dragonfly if you are: ADD/ADHD, dyslexic, dysgraphic, Asperger’s, NLVD, autistic…

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life Lesson: being busy

I've been so busy that I have not had time to enjoy my blog.  I'm not sure you realize that I do this for you but I also do this for me. This is one of my creative outlets and a way I can express myself, support myself, and allow myself to be me.  

Here is what I have learned though - I don't have a balanced life and I need to get a more balanced life.  In the process for this balanced life I will share some of my challenges and triumphs because I know that you are probably not living a balanced life either.  

Life lesson:  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can you handle another person's strength?

Are you the kind of person who can handle another person's success and strengths or are you the kind of person who shows negative judgment and speaks negatively about them?  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spiritual Sunday - Saying "I'm Sorry" and empathy

Saying “I’m sorry.” 
When you are a parent and your child experiences emotional pain, you also experience emotional pain.  To help your child survive this pain you will do whatever it takes.  If a child is crushed because they are disappointed that they did not make a team you provide comfort and support.  If your child is dealing with bullies at school you help build your child’s self-esteem and contact the school in hopes to getting some help stopping these things from occurring.  The list goes on and on- if you are a parent you know exactly what I am talking about.

People with empathy can understand a person when they are having emotional (or physical) pain.  A person with empathy says to the person in pain- “I’m sorry you are going through this,” “I’m so sorry you are experiences pain right now, thank you for sharing this with me.”

When one of my children was experiencing intense emotional pain from years of bullying and lack of school support.  I did what any parent would do- get him help outside of school and email the right people at the school asking for help.  Help didn’t come for over 24 hours.  When I finally got a call regarding my cry for help I stated, “Thank you so much for calling he was so sad that no one was able to meet with him at school yesterday.”  To that comment the professional, who had counseling training, became very defensive and started yelling at me that she didn’t see him yesterday when she received the email because she had other things she has to do.  She was reacting this way because she knew that my cry for help was required by law to be addressed and she didn’t do her job so she wanted to attack me.  As I cried on the phone she asked me, “what did you want me to do?” (in a harsh and nasty tone btw).  I told her hearing “I’m sorry you are going through this, would be helpful” she screamed again that she isn’t going to say she is sorry because she didn’t DO anything wrong.
This was one of the biggest ah-ha moments for me.  As a trained therapist and highly empathetic person I always reach out to others in pain.  I have no problem saying “I’m sorry you are experiencing something bad.”  I was shocked that a person with a counseling background doesn’t understand the importance of empathy and assumes that “I’m sorry” means she did something wrong. 
By the way, I had to be the “counselor” in the phone call with the school person and defuse the situation by letting them know “I’m sorry you are so overwhelmed by you job.”  I said this in a very supportive concerning tone and it worked- she felt understood and she stopped screaming at me.  Although, as a parent I would have appreciated not having to be the professional in this phone call, but remember what I said at the beginning- us parents do whatever it takes to help our children! 

Today, on Spiritual Sunday, I ask you to reflect on your own empathy and ability to say you are sorry.  Are you strong enough to be vulnerable enough to say “I’m sorry.”  Do you understand the difference between “I’m sorry – I’ve done something wrong” and “I’m sorry you are experiencing this?”  Empathy is what makes relationships excel and become stronger.  It makes the world a better place but you cannot be empathetic if you are not able to say “I’m sorry.” 

I’m able to say “I’m sorry” because I am comfortable with myself.  I have empathy for others.  I can see the world through others eyes and really understand what it is like to live in the shoes of another person. 
I know I’ve posted this before but here’s a quick video of Brene Brown explaining empathy. 

So please today, reach out to others and show empathy.  If someone shares that they are in pain then tell them in a supportive tone (no sarcasm please!)  “I’m so sorry you feel this way, thank you for sharing” or “I’m so sorry you have to experience (whatever they are experiencing).”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Feature Friday: The personal experience of a Mom learning about her boys with dyslexia

“Once You’re at School, It’s War”
The story of
one mom, three dyslexic boys, and a precocious reader

By Shannon Rossi

Setting:  an elementary school library, Indiana

I am that tiny girl on the big blue rug entranced by the librarian in the corduroy jumper.  At home, I practice on my sister.  I hold a book in the fork of my hand and make the book jacket crackle with each slow flip of the page.  I break to inhale that musty smell of paper and ink. Yes.  Throughout elementary school, I read as if my life depends on it.  In a way, it does.  I identify with characters like Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and the green gabled Anne Shirley.  These awkward girls grow confident and independent by the end of the books, and I count on that happening to me.

Setting:  the university followed by the real world

That’s me in the READ BANNED BOOKS t-shirt walking into the education building.  I decide that all I really want to do is share books with children.  I learn that the single best predictor of a child’s success as a reader is the number of books in the home.  In graduate school, I focus on the use of bibliotherapy.  I begin my career fully equipped to meet the needs of every child with my stack of good books.  I teach first and second graders.  We read and write with complete abandon except for Brandon, a curiously creative delegator of literacy tasks.  I marry my high school sweetheart who does not like to read.  We have our first baby, Sam.  I leave the classroom but continue to tutor Brandon and to lead a children’s book club.  I read aloud to baby Sam from this great new book called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Parents of my students quip, “Is he reading yet?”  I smugly note the number of books in our home.

Setting:  Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio

My husband is promoted often because of his global thinking and problem solving skills.  We move a lot.  He works long hours.  He reads the first 100 pages of Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris.

I panic often because Sam’s development seems to lag behind other toddlers despite the brightly colored magnetic letters splayed across my refrigerator and the crate of books next to his car seat.  Sam can’t decide if he is left or right handed.  He stutters, can’t cut on lines, or make recognizable marks on paper.  I grow paranoid that my friends are supplementing with some innovative early learning technique.  Their children bloom so readily.  And yet. . . Sam listens to ANY book with rapt attention.  We read inappropriately advanced chapter books right along with the picture books on our porch swing.  He is unbelievably verbal.  I begin a collection of his wit and poetry and decide to home school him until his literacy skills kick in.  Meanwhile, Brandon enrolls in a private school for children with dyslexia.  My husband rereads the first 100 pages of Theodore Rex.  We are blessed with Leo, baby number two.

Sam enters public school for first grade.  He comes home and says, “The bus is like a horse going to the battlefield.  Once you’re at school, it’s war.  Your pencil is your machine gun.”  Leo hits preschool, or preschool hits Leo.  He is identified for speech services and can’t rhyme or recognize letters or numbers.  He is an artist of highest degree.  He is happy and creative.  He has a quick wit and can build Lego kits independently.  In his preschool language assessment, the teacher asks him to identify a number.  He says, “Ten.”  She says, “No.”  He says, “Of course, it isn’t!” with a sly grin.  I feel guilty that so much of my time goes to supporting Sam.  I wonder if my free-spirited, second born son is just messing with me when I quiz him about letters and numbers.  Maybe, I think, Leo is only behind because I haven’t worked with him enough.  We do flashcards until he says, “Tears are in mine eyes.”  My husband and I work with Sam at least two hours every night to keep up with his schoolwork.  My husband rereads the first 100 pages of Theodore Rex.

We invest $3,000 and every Saturday morning in vision therapy to help Sam.  We request that the school test him.  I suspect dyslexia as I reflect on Brandon.  The school can only “red flag.”  They put up the flag, but our investment capital is depleted.  So are we.  A formal, expensive identification will have to wait.

We have baby number three.  Annabelle is thrown to the wolves in fairy tale fashion as we continue to pull our boys through school.  She takes books to bed from the earliest age.  She reads signs and fills pages with letters and then stories.  She begins to read in preschool without ever having been taught.  She reads aloud to her big brother, Leo, at night.  My husband rereads the first 100 pages of Theodore Rex and is now an expert on Roosevelt’s early years.

Sam continues to make good grades with INTENSE homework support.  He cries.  I cry.  He rages.  I rage.  He is anxious and hates school.  I am anxious and hate school every bit as much as I had previously loved it.  I read aloud the textbooks and make up pictures and stories to go with every single spelling word.  Math is a disaster.  We cram for every assessment.  Sam continues to love stories, and he learns to read.

Leo, however, hates books.  He cannot read and scores in the bottom percentiles on standardized assessments.  The teachers are not worried.  He’s a boy.  It’s developmental.  His grades are good.  Leo grows sullen and angry at home.  He cries at bedtime and before school.  Like Sam, he makes comments about being dumb.  I am utterly at a loss.  How on earth can I have two children with different disabilities?  How can my boys seems so bright and struggle so much?

We continue to maintain impossibly high standards for our boys.  My husband says they have to learn strategies.  They have to work harder than the others like he has to do.  My husband is successful even if he does work around the clock, we reason.  He is just a high stress personality, we reason.  His high blood pressure is genetic, we reason.  Our nights are a blur of drilling and remediating.  We limit extracurricular activities.  We go to the church of public school every Sunday morning.  I’m increasingly bitter.  My husband does not reread Theodore Rex.  There just isn’t time.

Setting:  that place where all things converge

That’s it.  The wall.  We simply can’t do this anymore.  I am told that it will not be easy to help Leo within the public school system.  I keep running records and anecdotal records of his literacy behaviors but find no help.  I spend a summer researching online and calling various dead end leads.  A diagnostician recommends Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shawitz.  I buy the book that afternoon.  I weep as I read.  I find not only Leo but also Sam.  And yes, you guessed it, my global thinking, rereading, high stress husband recognizes himself.  Although there is no doubt in our minds, we decide to invest the thousands to formally identify the boys so that the school will recognize what we’ve known and compensated for year after year.

Sure enough.  The assessments prove that the boys are every bit as intelligent and every bit as dyslexic as we suspected.  The tone in our home changes.  We worry less and laugh more.  We ear read as a family with books on CD or read by Annabelle.  We invest in Christmas Kindles and become immersion readers.  We brainstorm family entrepreneurial opportunities and dyslexic-friendly career paths.  We fight through the IEP process for Leo and try to do the same for Sam.

I write a letter to Brandon’s mother expressing my deep regret that I did not know more about how to help Brandon in his first years of school.  She writes back that Brandon is struggling with college.  She worries about his future.  I worry right along with her.

Setting:  the here and now

I am currently home schooling Leo in language arts using an Orton-Gillingham based program, my stack of good books, and open-ended creative activities.  I try to balance remediation and enrichment to best suit the mind of my smart, creative son.  Because of Sam’s hard work and support, his grades are strong.  Because his grades are strong, the school won’t recognize the dyslexia.  He is learning advocacy skills as he approaches individual teachers each year to meet his needs.  We are still working to prove that dyslexia affects him.  My husband is learning to work smarter instead of harder.  His wish list includes the audio version of Theodore Rex. I tutor and research and annoy others with my constant facts and quotations.

That little girl on the big blue rug is finally growing into her life’s work.  My passion for reading is finally useful (irony noted).  I am driven to understand the minds of my boys.  This discovery took 13 years or the entire childhood of my first-born son.  I’m nowhere near the end of this book, and I fight on, Narnia style.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Words from Parents and Dragonflies Wednesday - a grandparent perspective

"My kids are all grown now and I'm thrilled they are no longer in school.  Now my kids are happy and healthy but they were not like that while they attended school.  While in school they were often sick and had a lot of anxiety and depression.  I know it was because the teachers never seem to care about educating them.  It always seemed like the teachers cared more about the children who could learn easily and ignored my kids.  We have a lot of bad memories from school and what makes me the most sad is how teachers still no not want to admit the negative effects of being an LD student.  I hear my coworkers tell me about their experiences with school districts and feel sick to my stomach that these problems still exist.  I would have thought that things would have changed but they haven't. Now, I am scared because my oldest grandchild is going to be starting school next year.  My heart is breaking already just knowing of the battles he will have to face."

**This was a quote from a grandmother who called me asking which school district should she encourage her children to move to so her grandchildren can have a great education and graduate with a good self-esteem.   

Monday, March 10, 2014

Staying motivated when others are against you on Motivational Monday

Yesterday, I posted on the importance of teaming up with others to help change the world in How One Person Can Change the World.  I really believe in the power of numbers!   

I would like to point out though that it may not be easy. You may be like me, a person who sees good in the world and in competition with only herself.  It saddens me that many people out there are in competition against us, even if they are fighting the same battles.   

As you work on changing the world be aware of those who will work against you, step on you, or speak negatively about you along the way. 

I wish this was not true.  I wish we lived in a world where people were genuinely kind, caring, considerate, and had empathy; but that is not reality. You may believe that someone is your friend so you trust them and depend on them for support but when you least expect it they turn on you.  You may or may not know why.  

I want to encourage you to just keep fighting the good fight, stay on path, and don't let these people get you down.  If you stay the course and continue to be the good person that you are then you will change the world (or what ever it is you are trying to change).

I have these words hanging in front of my computer to keep me motivated when times are tough.  I want you to remember to continue to live your life with integrity.  Continue to be a good person.  A true, kind, caring person with empathy is not hateful, competitive, or negative toward others especially those on the same mission/journey/path...


Sunday, March 9, 2014

How one person can change the world

Spiritual Sunday--- How one person can change the world!

You are not alone.  There are many just like you going through similar battles.  If you try to fight a battle all alone you will be exhausted and might lose.  If you want to win the battle then join forces with others.  

The voice of one makes a small reverberation in the world. The voices of a small group reverberates even louder and the voices of a crowd are magnified exponentially.  

So if you want to change the world (or just your school district) then join others with similar interests.  

Here's a great lesson we need to learn from the movie "A Bug's Life:"  

Thank you all for helping me on the mission to bring more empathy to the world.   Remember what we focus on we expand so let us all join forces, focus on empathy, and we shall finally have a society (and schools) that are safe and positive places.  A world that really does embrace and accept diversity!  

Sometimes I have felt alone on this journey and then I read your emails and messages you have sent me and I know you are all with me!

Cartoon Saturday -Fun with Daylight savings time

** my excuse for being a day late in posting Cartoon Saturday!  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Busy busy busy

Been very sick and busy the past few days but don't worry... I'll be back soon!  

I'm heading out of town for a couple of days.  Thanks for checking in on me... I really do appreciate you for doing so.  

Have a super day!  Cheers my dragonfly friend!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Examples of tenacity from the Academy Award acceptance speeches

Last night was the Academy Awards.  This events celebrates movies.  What it also celebrates is tenacity.  As I watched curled up on my couch with my dogs (& a box of tissues from the tears & a nasty cold) I often thought about how each person was there due to tenacity.  These people set & achieved goals in their life but the key was not giving up.  We all have to face failures in our lives and people in the movie industry are up against a lot of failures (we just don't usually see the failures- but sometimes we do).  

To make this point stand out more please watch these following movie clips of the actors & their acceptance speeches:

Jared Leto won Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in "The Dallas Buyers Club."  He has not worked as an actor in about 6 years but decided to take on this challenging role of 'Rayon.'  

Here is a quick clip of Mr. Leto playing 'Rayon'-- This character is one that must have tenacity in his challenging world.

Here in his acceptance speech Mr. Leto shares the story of his own mother's tenacity and how watching her helped him and his brother go for their own dreams.

I am not sure I would have had the tenacity to endure being a slave. Those who have experiences such injustice have my up-most respect.  Here the powerful performance of Lupita Nyong'o in "12 Years A Slave"

Ms. Nyong'o does a tribute to the those who had to suffer before her.  She is so grateful to all those who have supported her.  I love when she said "No matter where you're from your dreams are valid."  That is the spirit of tenacity!  

Finally is Matthew McConaughey.  Mr. McConaughey also won for his role in the movie "Dallas Buyers Club."  He made this movie come to life by fully researching AIDS, the time period, and the real Ron Woodroof.  Ron was a prime example of tenacity because he never gave up and thrilled this movie of his life was finally made (another example of tenacity).  Here's Mr. McConaughey's wonderful acceptance speech!  I will let this speak for itself!  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cartoon Saturday March Snow?

*yes this is one day late~ super busy Saturday yesterday!