November 2014


Obviously I’m thankful for my health, happiness, and loved ones. But those are such big, abstract things. And in moments of darkness or despair or sadness, those things are often impossible to channel, to comprehend, to use as an anchor. So the little things, the concrete, the every day things that give me a quick burst of gratitude and happiness, need to be highlighted, too. Like the perfect cup of coffee. The sun on my face. My sky-blue Snuggie. The feeling I get every time I’m brave enough to press “publish” on a blog post. Coloring books. Books in general, captivating and taking me away in them. The bursting, filling-up-my-soul feeling that certain songs give me. One of my kids who runs into my office, smiling and squealing, genuinely thrilled to see me every single day. Stuffed animals and how they still give me comfort and connection to my inner child. My brightly-colored, mismatched socks. Dressing up for theme-days at work. Sunsets. Sunrises. The endless wonder the sky brings me. The list goes on and on and even writing this makes me think of more. So. Today, I am thankful for all of the big things. But I am consciously taking  note of the small things, too.

What are the small, every day things that you’re thankful for?

I can’t write

I have sat down and tried to write a blog post countless times in the last two weeks.

I get bits and pieces down and then I get stuck. I can’t get more out. And then I get frustrated and put more pressure on myself which makes me more stuck and it’s a cycle (although isn’t everything?).

But I want to write, desperately. So I thought maybe I’d just say those bits and pieces and allow myself to leave it at that. Because it doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to make sense. I don’t have to be perfect. don’t have to make sense. Maybe there’s something empowering, powerful, about just being, in my rawest, truest, form. Maybe I will write and maybe it’ll be another two weeks before I can. Maybe it’ll make sense and maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll lose readers. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the only thing that matters is that I write when I want to. Even if it’s to say….well, nothing, really. So I’ll keep trying. When I can, and when I want to. And it will….well, it will just be. Whatever it is.

Talking ‘Bout the Brain

Sometimes something just works and feels right. And maybe there’s no evidence-based practice, but I feel it, and I notice the shift in energy and connection and action, so I run with it.

I’ve been talking about my students’ brains a lot.
I think it helps them understand.
I’ve noticed a shift.

In the past, when I’ve said things like, “Kelly, it looks like you’re not paying attention” or “Kelly, are you paying attention?” the response is usually defensive, anxiety-filled, or frustrated. “I am paying attention!” Kelly will say, even if we both know she’s not. When I’ve said, “Kelly, it looks like your brain is thinking about another thought” or “Kelly, is your brain distracting you?” more often than not, she will agree, and accept ideas to re-focus.

Really, it’s just a subtle shift. From “you” to “your brain”. But for whatever reason, it’s working. I wonder if it’s because it allows them to accept their actions from one step removed. It lets them understand why they’re doing what they’re doing. It doesn’t mean letting them off the hook, it doesn’t mean telling them they “can’t help it”. It just gives them a little cushioning to accept that yes, they are behaving in this way, yes, they are speaking in this way, yes, they are acting in this way, and it’s okay. It reassures them that they are not intrinsically “bad” (which is often how a lot of our special ed. kids portray themselves and name as the reason for their struggles), but their brain causes them to act in certain ways. It gives them a reason for why. And it seems to help them be more open to trying to get past whatever obstacles their brain is throwing their way. I’ve noticed a shift in their willingness to embrace their actions, and work to find strategies to bypass the obstacles.

So I say things like:
“Did your brain forget that word?”
“Looks like your brain is thinking about something else”
“Tell your brain that we’re moving on from that topic”

Remember Joey? (We still do the silly 911 script at least once during each speech/language therapy session – he now takes the “phone” from me and sometimes talks to “911” himself.)

I’ve been using the “brain” terminology with him, and he took it and ran with it. Joey used to push, giggle, or yell when he felt something. If anyone asked him why, he couldn’t identify a reason. He would say, “I’m not sure” or “I felt like it.” Now, he can often say, “Because I’m worried about _______” or “Because I’m mad about ______.” And, sometimes, even before he starts to push, giggle, or yell, he will say, “My brain is feeling worried” or “My brain is feeling disappointed.” (Do you see how huge that is for him? To identify how he’s feeling.) And that has evolved into a script, too.

He will say, “My brain is feeling disappointed” [or whatever he is feeling]
Then he says, to me, “Be like, ‘Brain? Why are you feeling disappointed?’”
So I say, “Brain? Why are you feeling disappointed?”
And he says, “Brain says, ‘Because it’s not my day to use the ipad’” [or whatever reason]
Then it’s my turn, because he’s still learning. So I say, “Hmm. I have an idea. What if we tell your brain, ‘Brain, it makes sense that you are feeling disappointed. What if we take a few deep breaths and remind your brain that you get to use the ipad tomorrow?’” [or whatever suggestion is pertinent]
Then he usually nods, and grins, and we move on.

And it’s working. For now. And when things work, I keep it going.

A weather analogy

I have said many times in my life, and probably many times on this blog, that I feel people’s feelings. I know that the highly-sensitive people out there know what I mean, know what it is like to have someone else’s emotions permeate your soul. But I also know that for the majority of people, that concept makes no sense. And for whatever reason, the other day, I found an analogy that might explain it better (and we know I love using analogies to understand things!)

So, you know when you go outside? If it’s windy out, you feel the wind. If it’s cold, you feel the cold. If it’s rainy, you get wet. You can’t NOT feel the weather. And that’s how it is for me. I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, such that I can’t not feel them, the same way that I can’t not feel the warmth from the sun on a 90 degree day.

Of course, you might feel the wind but not be bothered by it. Like, it’s there and you notice it but it doesn’t consume you. And that’s what I work towards. Knowing that I’m wired to feel people’s emotions, but, like the wind, I can notice it and move on without letting it become the main focus of every single cell in my body. And it’s hard! If you’re outside on a day where the temperature is 3 degrees Fahrenheit, you are going to feel cold to your core. Your bones will feel cold. Try as you might, you can’t really ignore it.

But you can try. You can feel the cold yet know it will pass when you go inside. And I can feel the emotions of the loved ones around me, without letting them become my own, without letting them permanently take up residence inside.

Does this make any sense? Can anyone relate? Does anyone have another way to explain it?

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