Last Day: Looking Back

I think it’s only normal for people to look back before starting something new, and New Year’s Eve is a logical opportunity to do so.  It’s also important.  One of the things teachers benefit most from but rarely have time to do is reflect on their daily teaching to analyze what worked and what needs to be tweaked.  True in non-teacher lives, as well, I know.  At the end of the day, thinking back on what was positive, and what we could have handled better helps us learn from our mistakes, and decreases the likelihood that we will repeat them.

This year, I moved house in a major way, got married, left my career, battled for better schooling for my son, wrote a novel, and got a new job which I love.  I’ve left old friends behind (but never forgotten), and made new friends.  My life has improved, sometimes by sheer will.  I compromise more (a new husband and a blended family make this absolutely necessary), I don’t get nearly as many headaches, I relax (fully) more.

At the beginning of this year, I couldn’t see past June.  It was a complete unknown – What would I be doing?  What would my son be doing?  How would our lives change?  Now that I am six months past that point of all that was unknown, I am proud of us for taking this leap, trusting ourselves to get re-married, trusting that we could find a good school situation for The Boy, and trusting that I would land on my feet with a job I didn’t hate, making enough to pay the bills.  I am very proud of us.  It was a big leap of faith, and it has turned out beautifully.

2013 has been a year of great change, of great opportunity, of great hope, and of great reward for me (and us).  I hope it treated you just as well.  I look forward to 2014 with great anticipation for continued growth for all of us.

Happy Old Year, Friends.  And Happy New Year.

English: This came from New Years Eve 2004 int...

Enjoying Work

I have to say that I am really enjoying my new job.  And it’s been since about 2007 since I could say that.

It’s a great feeling.

I Need You on the Job Every Day - NARA - 534704

For many, many reasons, teaching became less and less enjoyable over the years to the point that I would cry on the way to work in the mornings because I really just didn’t want to go.  Might sound juvenile, but it’s a pretty desparate feeling, especially when you are a single mom and have to provide for your son.  There is no opt out, there is no quitting to try to find something more enjoyable.  And teachers really don’t have that luxury like some other professionals do.  They don’t have the possibility of quitting and making the same pay in a lateral move, which is absolutely ridiculous, but I digress.

And it hasn’t been easy being unemployed for half a year, either.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the weak of heart.  Your self esteem takes quite a few dings.

But opportunity arose when The Man bought this house outright, and I had to take it.  I didn’t want to be miserable anymore.  Today, I’m so glad I did, and I’m so thankful for my new job that I enjoy.  I feel capable and trusted, appreciated and challenged.  I’ve been waiting a long time to feel like this again.

Have a great day, People! :D

Back to Work

Not a bad office view...

Not a bad office view…

Starting work today was something completely new.  You see, since I graduated college in the mid-nineties, I had only a handful of interviews, and they were for teaching jobs.  Even though I may have had a new job here and there, I kind of knew that school was school, and nothing would be that different from my previous job.  I needed to know who the secretaries and the custodians were ASAP, and always, always treat them nicely.  I needed to know where the copy machine was, and where I could eat lunch.  The rest was pretty much the same.  I went to my room and taught.

Today, I walked into my new job, not knowing how many hours a week I was wanted, nor how much exactly I was to be paid.  I didn’t even know exactly what my job entailed but that my title would be “Event Coordinator” for a long-standing, local boat tour company.

By the end of the day, I had impressed my new boss a bit, been told I could work full time if I desired, and would make enough for me to not have to worry about my bills anymore.

Best of all, I enjoyed my day.  I edited and formatted, created spreadsheets, and researched, all the while learning my new boss’s idiosyncrasies, and getting along well with the other office “girl” whose job is separate from but most similar to mine.

I’m back to work, but work like I’ve never known it.  I’m thankful.  I’m excited.

Happy Day-Before-Black-Friday…

wild turkey visitorsI love Turkey Day.  Today is our only truly American holiday that doesn’t separate us according to religion, ethnicity, familial status, or socioeconomic status.  It’s inclusive.  It’s about giving gratitude for what we have.  It’s about showing love to those we love most.

I hate Black Friday.  It has overtaken Thanksgiving.  It overshadows the time we are supposed to be taking to reflect on how little we truly need.  It taints the entire season with the greasy feel and steely smell of money.

I will not be shopping today or tomorrow.  I never do.  I enjoy my family to the fullest extent.  But I do have something to do on Friday…

I will be working!  I finally got a job!  I need to go in on Friday to get an orientation of sorts, and I am very thankful to be employed again.  This is a good thing.

I’m thankful we got The Boy into a much better placement.  He has had a great week, and I look forward to many more accomplishments in his future there.

I’m thankful that for the first time since 1991, I am not traveling anywhere today, and was able to wake up in my own bed next to my wonderful new husband, for whom I’m also thankful.

I’m thankful I get to spend today with all of my beautiful family.

I am also thankful to have “won” NaNoWriMo (scroll down and check out my badge on the bottom right of the page!).  I finished and validated my 50,000+ word  novel yesterday afternoon, and it feels GREAT to accomplish a goal that a lot of people think about doing but never quite accomplish.

I am thankful for so much more, but you don’t need to sit here and read about me.  Go have a fantastic holiday, and keep it simple. ;)

Thankful for a “Me” Day

I’ve been busy lately.  I’d like to say I’ve been busy working, and I have, but not busy making a paycheck.  I’ve been busy making sure my son gets a decent education.  I’ve been busy writing a novel for NaNoWriMo.  I’ve been busy helping The Man on a couple of big jobs he’s lined up, because I can help him when he’s painting.  I’m not a pro, but I can get the job done.  I’ve been busy filling out applications, taking timed typing tests, and preparing for my tutoring students.

But at the end of the day, I’m still only making about $36 a week.

And, I’m neglecting to do what I’d really like and need to do.  Yes, NaNoWriMo is a “me” thing, but it is demanding, squeezing every ounce of originality out of you, and even more so that sometimes what ends up on the page is a big messy mess.  And it’s work.  And I really need a new pair of shoes.  No, I’m serious…

I told you I needed new shoes...

See?  I told you.  Not just a craving for some sassy pumps.  A desperate plea for decent-looking foot apparel.

Today, I get a day for me.  A “me” day, that I can actually spend as I choose.  Of course, there are a few things I need to do, like call about a possible new tutoring student, and some laundry.  And then there’s that big meeting this afternoon, leftover from last week that has a major impact on my son’s future…  There’s that.

But until about 2:30, it’s all me, baby. ;)

Jobs and Autism

I posted a story on the Simple. I Just Do facebook page yesterday about a carwash in Florida that was developed to run entirely with autistic employees, (and was started by a family with an autistic son, no less).  And I encountered a staggering statistic – an unemployment rate of 90% for those with autism.

Food Barn pin from first paycheck job. / c. 1989 - Nate Hofer

Food Barn Pin – Nate Hofer

That is a very scary number.

The article by Doreen Hemlock of the Broward County Sun-Sentinel quoted Michael Alessandri, director of the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Diseases, as saying, “Most people with autism can work. They can be very successful when given the right support. There just aren’t enough job opportunities with the right support system.”

The Man and I have discussed starting our own business a great deal.  Part of that, I think a large part of it, is that if we are the owners, we can create our own opportunities for The Boy to be employed.  And just like many, many families with autistic kids are turning to homeschooling so that they can tailor their child’s education according to his/her individualized needs, I think many, many families have or will turn to entrepreneurship for the same reason.

I love it.

I am so inspired by all of this.  The world isn’t ready for this influx of people with autism?  Well, let’s make it ready, one kid, one family, one family-owned business at a time.  Bring it.

Yes, We Are Moving

Our empty dining room in the new house...I did the mental math the other day, and it is only about six months away… Yikes!  I have so much to do.  It seemed like so far away for so long, that now I actually have to get out the planner and start penciling some stuff in!  I can’t believe it!  There are so many things we have to do like have a huge garage/Craigslist sale (which will basically entail a whole house inventory, and lots and lost of decisions), meet/talk with the autism society liaison where we’re headed so I can make some plans for The Boy, not only for school, but also for the summer, work on my transition plans for The Boy (including making a “Big Move Book” for him), and then the long list of actual moving details…

The last time I moved between states, I was four years old, so I wasn’t so involved with the details.  Now I have pesky things like a driver’s license and bank accounts that will need to be switched.

Oh, and there’s that small detail about employment…

And health insurance…

I think I’ll get right on this…

In January.

Hot Dogs & The Future

Sometimes people will ask about The Boy’s future.  Will he go to college?  Will he live on his own?  What will he do when he’s an adult?

The crazy thing about autism, is that it is unpredictable.  I have no clue what the future will look like.  Most parents of NT kids can reasonably assume that their child will go to college or trade school, or get work experience once out of high school, and will be able to make a living and live on their own, find a life partner, and maybe give them grandchildren.  We special needs parents either don’t know if any of that will happen, or we know for certain that it won’t.

As The Boy gets older, I get a better idea, but I can’t say for certain, and I definitely don’t want to judge his capability too early, thereby predetermining the outcome – does that make sense?  I want to be as open as I can to all possibilities so that none seems out of reach for The Boy.

One of the ideas that has been percolating ever since we made this major life decision to move to be closer to The Man and my parents has been to start up our own business or nonprofit, which could be a built-in job for The Boy in the future.  We have lots of ideas, but one that started as a joke, and is still a joke (mostly, maybe, hmmm…) has been that The Man and The Boy will operate a hot dog stand at the beach during the summer.  The Man actually has a friend who did it for awhile and made money doing it, too!

So this is The Boy’s Christmas gift to The Man this year:

Hot Dog Stand Ornament

Pretty fitting, don’t you think?