Friday, September 22, 2017

Homeschooling


Suggestions can be a double edged sword.  Many times in the midst of extreme distress a loving comment can cut those already in the depths of pain by feeling shame or judgment.  A person's reaction can range from knee jerk reactions of rage to thankfulness for a potential solution to a terrible situation.  When a suggestion was made to me last week, I just smiled in amusement.  Later, from another comment on the same topic, I cried.

My dear cousin asked a perfectly logical question.  If I have a degree in education, why don't I home school my mentally ill daughter?  In theory, I could easily teach English and history.  My husband is amazing at math and history.  From there we could divide up the curriculum.  Simple solution, right?  For many families homeschooling works.  My family is not ready to take that step.

My husband's career takes him out of town a lot.  This year I have lost track of all the times he has been flying here and flying there or driving around the state for days on end.  Now, I am always home.  The big problem with that is Madelle and I mix as well as oil and water.  My personality grates on her last nerve.  I am a type A personality.  In her second and third grade years, the teachers that made her feel stupid 24/7 were type A personalities.  For a year, Madelle and I battled not knowing why.  One trip to the hospital, Jerry turned to Madelle.  "You see those two teachers in your mom when she is trying to teach you something."  A light must have turned on for both of us.  She nodded and cried.  I felt extreme relief and cried.  I wasn't doing something wrong.  I just triggered the wounded little girl.  Now, I don't teach her.  If I find I need to, it is a slow process with small tasks that take days to complete.  I can't teach my daughter without our home turning into a battleground.  And I guarantee that if that happens, she will be cutting and back in the hospital in a matter of weeks.  Our home has to be safe for her.

Neither my husband nor I are ready to give up on her outside education.  We have a high regard for the teachers and staff at all of the schools here in Helena.  Well, maybe not all of them, but the majority are amazing.  I loved the mentors my boys found at Capital High.  Already, I know Madelle's teachers care for her deeply.  She needs them.  Her English teacher alone is a delight and loves spending time with Madelle.  One of her doctors thinks it is vital for Madelle to be socializing.  I agree.  Right now isn't the time, but shutting that door isn't the option either.  All of her teachers are willing to work with her while she stays at home.  She will get the opportunity to do an online class or two through the special education program once we roll her 504 over to an IEP.  (These are different programs for students struggling in school.)  Next year, she will have the opportunity to attend a smaller setting off campus and as she grows stronger, she can transition back to the high school or not.  Madelle will decide.

Now with all that said, I have researched online high schools.  Tuesday I was about ready to throw in the towel with the high school until I went to a meeting.  They are trying their best, so we will continue to try our best.  If the circumstances change, I am willing to go the online route.  She really is a smart kid and could probably eat up an online course, but it won't teach her to navigate the world.  Ultimately, we still need to teach her that part of life as well.  And yes, if the time comes that we have to learn a new lifestyle that doesn't include the world, we will.  For now, we aren't giving up.

Smiling at the simplicity of the suggestion of homeschooling, I acknowledged that many people don't know our situation or beliefs.  I have had enough people mention this avenue that the suggestion didn't make me feel guilty or shameful for not doing this for my daughter.  I have come to terms with my inability to home school.  But as I pointed out, one comment did make me cry.  When I have explained my stance on homeschooling, the words rang true to logic, but not to my heart.  This friend spoke what has been on my heart.  I simply want to be Madelle's mom.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My Reality


In the last week, I have been thinking a lot about reality.  What is reality for me?  How does the reality of education, finances, work, and relationships look for my sweet girl with her mental illness?  I know what it looks like today, but what will it look like four years from now when she is supposed to be setting off on her own or when her dad and I are no longer in this world to support her?  Being a type A personality, I hate the uncertainty of it all. 

Today's reality is that my daughter has not been to school in seven days.  I have a couple of bills that I am making payments on and I am sure there are more to come.  My relationship with my daughter is 20% rocky when she is struggling with panic and anxiety.  This is a huge win.  At the height of this journey, our relationship was volatile.  Her relationship with her father, a few family members, and family friends are holding in there, but she has no steady friends in school.  We are working her treatment through three angles: psychiatrist, therapist, mental health services through Intermountain/School.  I feel like a failure every morning I call the school to say she will be absent again. 

Here is an interesting tidbit.  When I went to high school in a small Double A school, we had two guidance counselors and maybe a school nurse.  My daughter's regular sized Double A school, has three or four guidance counselors, a school nurse and I believe FIVE mental health workers.  This doesn't include the special education department.  What is going on here?  I just don't understand!!!

Let's go back to the failure situation.  My daughter isn't going to school.  Both my husband and I are educated.  I have a bachelors in education and he has a bachelors and masters in education.  We believe in education and we believe in the public school system in Montana schools for ordinary kids.  I am beginning to doubt their ability with the kids with mental illness.  But, reality has to enter this scenario of sending my daughter to school.  I physically can't force her to go.  If I push her to go verbally, our home becomes a battle ground.  Her anxiety becomes so hard to deal with she will start cutting.  She may go to school, but then she also will end up in the hospital.  Last Friday she wanted to die.  She wanted to drop out of school.  We are in a holding pattern at this point waiting for a meeting at the school next Tuesday.  I asked for the meeting last Friday.  Yep, the possess is slow.

Later I might talk about options and what the professionals say about each option.  Talk about chasing the proverbial tail in circles…it is exhausting.  But the reality at this moment is that I have to make Madelle safe.  She doesn’t feel safe among her peers.  I have to keep a good relationship with her.  We have done the authoritative relationship and that didn't work.  I have to be patient.  I am trusting the school and mental health community while I read books and learn.  I keep writing.  I still don't know our reality for next week, but we will face each day as they come.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Silence


I have written this post in my head a million times over the last four months.  Maybe even longer, I really don't remember.  When I began writing about my daughter's mental illness, I wanted to share hope with my readers.  A few things happened after a while.  I denied the illness would continue for years to come.  I grew tired of explaining things to people in phone conversations and in person.  With this last one, I also grew tired of the unsolicited advice and unwanted comments about our parenting techniques and my daughter being spoiled.  I stopped writing.  The problem is that I need to write.  I need to share.  If I don't, I stuff all of the stress, anxiety, and negativity down inside me until it explodes into a physical illness for me.  My silence has not been a silence because of healing, but a silence of protecting myself from other people.  But now I have to break my silence.

Last April, I put my daughter in the hospital while I worked with my dear husband who was on a work trip.  A dear friend stood beside me the entire time, literally, while another was on the phone with me when I needed the extra moral support.  I chose not to tell a lot of people about this because I didn't need the questions, opinions, and frankly, the other garbage that people throw out at you when they have never lived this crisis.  (I used to be one of those people.  I get it.  But now that I do know the reality, I don't need the complications.)  We made it through this trauma to survive another day.  I held onto hope that high school would get better.  All of us looked forward to a new start.  Denial!

Mental illness is never cured.  I am reading a book right now which says that with metal illness there is only temporary recovery.  This means the illness is still there, but the sick person is able to use strategies to help themselves avoid or work through the anxiety and panic.  They can live a "normal" life.  (A dear friend of mine, in the past year, has shared with me her mental illness and I had no clue until then her daily struggles.  She is such a beacon of hope for me.)  A thirteen year old doesn’t learn all of this in two and a half years to face high school as a "normal" kid.  Writing all of this makes me feel like an idiot.  Logically I should have faced this.  Instead, I denied the illness.  Because of it, I had unrealistic expectations for the beginning of the school year.

Of course, we haven't stopped working towards a healthier life for my girl.  In May and June, we had her tested at Intermountain.  The doctor there was amazing.  She still sees her doctor of two and a half years.  She goes to an amazing therapist who prays with her and loves her like the most amazing grandfather/father figure.  During the summer, she rested as did I.  Our first defeat came in June when we were denied a transfer to a new high school.  She wanted a fresh start.  The school she had to stay with is trying.  They have been kind and compassionate.  We have asked for an IEP.  She has been on a 504 but needs the stronger program at this point.

We have entered a new world.  In high school, she can't miss all the school she did before.  At least, we have stressed about that.  Hopefully something can be done.  Already, she has missed two days.  I am not sure she will make it much this next week.  There are so many uncertainties.  We feel lost and confused, hurt and desperate.  And this doesn't include the stress of finances, military career at an older age, my physical disability, and normal life.  Yep, it was a bad ending to a good week.

As is typical, I am reading a book.  I have called Intermountain for more options of counseling for our girl and the rest of us.  We have another meeting set with the counselors.  I need to start asking questions.  What is school going to look like this year?  Do I get sent to jail for not forcing her to go?  How do I keep her from despairing to the point of cutting again?  How do I keep myself together?  How do I help my husband?  I think you all get the gist.

I don't write any of this to have the world feel sorry for us.  Everyone has their cross to bare.  I write because I am a writer.  Writers want to be heard, need to be heard.  I write so if the invisible internet can connect my post to others going through the same trials they will see they are not alone.  I write because I personally know some people out there that may give some encouragement because they have either been there or are in the trenches themselves.  I write to educate those who want the lesson to know how to help friends and family in need, not to judge, advice, or criticize.  And if you don't understand, research.  Don't ask the person going through it to explain.  Don't pester them with questions.  Their primary job is to take care of themselves, their child, and those living in the house with them.  Chances are they can't answer your questions and it just hurts them to have to try.  And, it pushes them to silence.  Instead, listen, encourage, and love.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Hodge Podge of Photos


Two months have flown by without any blog posts.  My June was filled with preparing for a 50th birthday party for my husband, saying good-bye to my grandparents, having new flooring installed, and prepping for our 4th of July party.  July has been laid back with a lot of just hanging out at the house.  I have also worked on editing book three.  My daughter and I did go on one adventure.  After taking a few pictures, I realize I haven't shared any of the pictures I have taken spontaneously.  Here they are.
One night in the backyard, I saw this balloon off in the distance.  I have always loved in the summer watching the balloons while driving on the Rims in Billings, Montana on my way to drill.  Attending a balloon festival is on my bucket list.

I loved how this picture captured the heart of my bleeding heart.

I love watching the mountains grow taller as I drive towards them on the Helmview road.

Here is another shot of the mountains and the road I drive at least twice a year.

Every year, the flowers on my chives delight me.  They are so beautiful.

I planted this current bush just last year.  I am excited for them to grow another four feet or more.  They should attract the birds for me to watch in the fall.

My delphinium.

I was delighted when I saw elk on the side of the highway to Libby and there was a turnoff for me to stop and take pictures.

More elk.


My iris was beautiful this year.

I so love my little Leo.

I love to imagine the hopes and dreams of a family when they build a home.  I image a rich history of love and the sound of small feet running along the floors.  I feel sadness at the abandon houses.  For some reason, they call out to me.  I wonder what their stories would say to me.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Miscon 31


Over the long Memorial weekend, the family and I attended Miscon 31.  We have tried to do this every year, but due to a lot of issues, this year was only our third time.  Jerry and Madelle have quite a bit of fun.  They spend the weekend relaxing and playing games.  The two of them get some good father, daughter time.  This year Jerry's brother joined them on Sunday afternoon.

So, what is Miscon?  Missoula Comic Convention is a long weekend of art, role playing games, regular games, art, writing, film, costuming, and strange happenings in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction with the subgenres also represented.  In other words, the weekend is for all of those with a geek side.  The first year I felt completely outside my comfort zone.  Now, I just feel awkward being around a bunch of people I don't know.

While Madelle and Jerry entertain themselves, I go to writing panels.  This year's honored guest was David Farland.  I have followed his blog for quite a few years.  Someday, I will attend one of his week long classes.  I sat in on a number of his talks and other fantasy, steampunk, and science-fiction writers.  Because of following him and a few others, I am finding the general information at the convention are things I have heard in the writing arena.  I also branched out a bit.  I did learn a few tidbits and came to a discovery.

The workshop for marketing left me feeling extremely lacking.  They, of course, talked about networking.  I hate networking.  I am supposed to go to these things and meet people.  Instead, I go to panels, sit off to the side, and take breaks writing or reading in either my room or at a table by myself.  I won't tell my husband yet, but I might try a game next year.  MIGHT!  I also thought more about platforms and joining a Toastmasters group.  Right, with all that free time I have.  We will see.

Writing about faeries also got me to thinking.  One panelist is an expert in all types of faeries from around the world.  A few of the writers talked about knowing how to write well about the way they have been represented in the tales from olden days.  Sure, a writer can do something new, but know the original enough to know why you are changing them.  Explain the change in your story in how people in the past have been wrong all these years or the race has evolved.  I might have stuck with the Twilight series longer if the sparkling vampires would have been explained.

I attended a panel about art being sold.  All the speakers worked in the field of sewing, forging, painting, and glass blowing.  They all attend different events and shows to sell their products.  I have played with the idea of selling my books at Farmer's Markets and the like, but I don't have enough of a variety of my books.  I have thought of also selling my photography.  Unfortunately, I get all nervous about putting myself out there.  I was amazed by one man's advice.  As he said, most of us are introverts.  This can cause problems selling and promoting ourselves.  He said to have a project to work on while you sell.  This gives you and your customer somewhere to start the conversation.  He takes his leatherwork.  The rest of the speakers agreed.  I like the idea, but I can't write, read, or snap pictures while in a booth selling product.

Marketing, networking, selling, promoting, and faeries floated around in my head all weekend.  All the information spoke to me, but I had to figure out what it was saying and what I needed to do.  Saturday night I googled Norwegian crafts.  I found beautifully designed Saami (people from far Northern Scandinavia) bracelets, hardanger, rosemaling, and wood chipping.  Sunday, after talking about faeries, I came up with a plan.  I am going to work the majority of my writing in the culture and mythology of Scandinavia, primarily Norway.  My first series is about trolls with food and terms spicing the writing that all derive from the land of Icordia.  Mjod is one of my favorite drinks, mead.  Bestemor means grandmother and my own grandfather called his grandmother by this endearment. 

Monday I ordered a book on how to make the Saami bracelets.  I can sell these along with my books and photos.  Best of all, I can create them while working with customers.  I want to try my hand at the other crafts as time goes by, mainly for writing purposes unless I get good at the work.  Of course, I believe it is time to start making more Scandinavian foods.  I have also looked for a place to buy the old dresses.  I might have to talk a friend into helping me with that project.

All in all, I am happy with the direction I want to work.  While still raising a teenager, I believe all of this will take quite a lot of time, but I am okay with that for the moment.  Soon enough, I will have all the time in the world.  So, stay tuned for new happening in the life and times of Lisa Nixon Richard barnebarn (granddaughter) to Alton Everett Hedahl, miss you Farfar (Grandfather.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Greg Gianforte


I have never been one to promote violence.  I believe if you have reasonable people you are working with, discussion will fix a situation.  However, the world contains unreasonable people who don't know when to stop.  They don't know how to be respectful.  Sometimes a good fight needs to take place. 

This morning I woke up to the news.  Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter and punched him a couple of times.  I groaned.  What was I going to do when I enter the Fair Grounds exhibit building  and was handed a ballet.  Yes, I am republican.  Yes, I believe in my rights to bare arms.  Yes, I am retired military.  And yes, I don't believe in sanctuary cities. 

I read one report that was slanted to the left.  I read another report that was slanted to the right.  Neither told me what the question was that the reporter asked Greg.  I scrolled through Facebook.  My conservative friends continue to support Greg and my liberal friends are appalled.  No change there.  I really thought knowing the question the reporter asked would be my deciding factor of making up my mind about how to vote, either for Greg or for Donald Duck.  Writing that, I realize Donald Duck would have body slammed the reporter as well, but I digress. 

The reporter asked a valid question about health care and the budget.  I found this out through Fox News.  I had also read an MSN report and another one that I don't recall from what source.  However, I couldn't ignore the fact that the reporter went into the office without asking or waiting to be invited.  Greg asked him to leave and asked him to see one of his staff members.  The reporter ignored Greg's request to leave the situation.

In April, my daughter had a similar episode happen at school.  The social studies class was divided into groups of four to debate in teams of two about the dropping of the bombs in Japan during WWII.  Madelle was on the side for dropping.  The girl arguing against Madelle had verbally been mean to Madelle in the past.  During the debate, this girl went off about how Madelle is the type to want to kill thousands of people.  Then she went off about how Madelle was a Trump supporter so no wonder why Madelle was so horrible.  One, this had nothing of relevance to the debate.  Two, this girl did not attack Madelle's partner, just Madelle.  This girl singled out Madelle to bully.  Yes, I believe it was a form of verbal bullying.  Madelle told her to shut up.  The girl responded, "make me."  Being fed up, Madelle got out of her seat and tapped the girl on the face.  The girl told the teacher after class that Madelle slapped her. 

Now, in both instances, Greg and Madelle had run-ins with the same organization / person on previous dates.  Obviously, these entities jumped on their last nerve.  Should Greg and Madelle lashed out?  No, there was a better way to handle the situation.  Greg should have called security.  Madelle should have walked away from the situation.  Greg has been charged.  Madelle was given a day of in school suspension.  However, I also believe the reporter and the girl were also wrong.  If someone asks you to leave or stop talking, well, maybe they should be respectful and back off.  These people insist on running at the mouth.  I doubt anything will happen to the reporter.  In fact, he will get tons of hits on his twitter and all that crap.  The girl was talked to.  I am sure that will be effective, not.  However, they may stop and think first when they start to cross the line of politeness.  I can hope.

Both my daughter and Greg made a mistake.  Neither should have their school or political careers destroyed for their actions.  Besides, I like that there are still people out there who will stand up for themselves.  I am also happy to know that there are still people that may still stand up to ISIS and the other wrongs of our world.  Not all action is the right action, but it is action.  And besides, a good fist fight with a bully can go a long way in righting wrongs.  I have been known to get into a couple myself back in my younger days.  But that may be a story for another day.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Beatings


As artists, I don't believe in beating ourselves up. I believe in being
gentle with ourselves. 
Julia Cameron, Facebook, May 16, 2017
        Today when I read my daily affirmations, I hoped for a tidbit of encouragement.  Considering I hadn't read them for six days, I thought surely one would be of help.  Nope.  However, when I checked into Facebook, Julia gave me words to ponder.  She is a writer who helps artists to become unblocked.  She taught me about morning pages and artist dates.  She helped me to become unblocked about eight years ago.  She is fantastic.

Her words are definitely what I need to hear.  I believe them wholeheartedly.  I am just not sure how to apply them.  For the past two months, I have been trying to get back to my writing after my trip to England.  Unfortunately, in all that time, my life has been ripe with a lot of drama.  My daughter's mental illness has skyrocketed.  We had a huge financial scare that will be lingering for the next couple of years.  To prep for that possibility, we are stepping up our house projects that need to be finished.  I have been beating myself up in all of these areas and extremely stressed.  Needless to say, I have nothing left over for my writing.

Each morning, I come to the computer.  I work my morning pages.  I read through the writing blogs I follow if I have the brain power.  I contemplate my work.  Then I promptly runaway from it by doing housework, gardening, or working with my daughter. 

Now, I would think that my house, yard, and projects would be progressing beautifully.  Nope!  I am still working all the projects.  Nothing is finished.  As soon as I get close, I am pulled in another directions for a variety of reasons.  I am tired.  I am frustrated.  I am discouraged.  Yes, I am depressed and angry.

As I stated in the last two blogs, I work my list.  I continue to pray.  This morning I was a bit lost, so I worked my daily tasks of housework that I usually ignore until the last minute.  I worked on the budget which never is the way I want it.  I folded laundry and actually cleaned out the top section of my armoire.  My pile of things to take to the Good Samaritan is growing! 

Once I upload this little blog post, I will do some reading.  This afternoon I hope to plod along in the gardens.  I need to find a place for my cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds.  I think I will put them in my steampunk garden because I won't be able to get to the retaining wall until this fall or next year.  I also need to mow the backyard and move even more manure.  I am so thankful God has given me the drive to garden and have too many projects to accomplish in a lifetime.  They really help me keep busy when my life feels in shambles.