Monday, November 23, 2009

Good days...and bad ones too

Hello there! Lots going on this holiday week, but I didn't want to leave you without a post. I'll be back next week with good newness, especially since I plan on taking another AYD course next week, and you know, with new training comes new insight!

Umm, yeah...
So, a subject that I haven't really hit on very much is this depression that I deal with. Notice, I said deal with, and not suffer from. Though some days are harder than others, and I do a bit of suffering, I don't like to say that. I deal with it on a day by day basis. And at times, it seems like day in, day out, things aren't getting better, but I'm still here, aren't I?

So I STILL have yet to see my therapist (appointment has been rescheduled for next week...and doggit, it just struck me that its during this training I'm thinking of taking...hmmm...) but luckily I have friends who not only have dealt with issues such as depression, but I also just discovered that I have friends who are actually therapists of various kinds as well. See what speaking up will do?

Anyway, I have what I like to call "down days", where I can't even seem to get out of bed. I get up, get my kids out the door and on their way to school, but then I cant seem to motivate myself to do anything else. I mean, this depression hurts, physically. My body is all over the place; I am hardly hungry, I barely sleep and honestly, if I didn't HAVE to, I probably wouldn't bathe. Too much information, I'm sure...but I'm just being honest. I make it a point of being excited to go to work with the girls, so I force myself out of the bed and into the bathroom for a daily hygiene regimen, to set a good example. Yeah, its come to that.

In all actuality, its like that on a daily basis, weekends too. I have to make lots of plans and keep myself busy in order to keep myself from wallowing everyday. That's a good thing, really. As long as I'm up, moving and doing something for someone else, I am happy. Service is what keeps me busy, and it makes my mind work when it doesn't really want to. As I type this, I am checking the time, because I have volunteered to drop of Thanksgiving baskets collected by my church to a senior citizens home.

Rambling...The point of all of this was to give a tip that I was given this weekend.

Since i have returned home from Daddy's funeral in June, I haven't been so motivated (thank the depression) to clean my home a fervently as I had in the past. I have done my best to make sure that the common areas are presentable, but my room is in a constant state of CHAOS. CHAOS meaning Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. When I have people over, they should be able to roam freely in my home (I believe), especially since I have a bathroom in my room, and if the other is in use, mine should be available. Well, let's be honest...the door to my bedroom has been closed to the public for months now, and I do not feel at all good about that. The advice that I got this weekend was to do everything in steps. I can't cure my depression overnight, nor can I wipe away its effects on me. I have to take small steps to get to where I need to me.

So today, I cleaned off my bed and changed the sheets. Sounds easy, but honestly, it wasn't. It took real effort to do it. I wanted to make sure that I put everything away that was piled up on the bed, and then I got to stripping it and putting on brand new sheets...the ones I had bought a couple months ago, but never had the energy to put on. And the energy it took! It took me all of 45 minutes to accomplish my task, and I feel great...tired, but great! (I told you, depression wears on your physical body!) I am leaving to go visit family for the holiday tomorrow and how great will it be to come home to a fresh, cozy bed?

That was step one. Step 2 will be to clean off the top of my dresser, either tonight or tomorrow. See, it may not be a big deal, and may not look like much to everyone else, but I know that it is making a difference. It may take alot longer than some think it should, but it gets done. Looking at the big picture, my entire room, that's overwhelming; I get discouraged and procrastinate and it never gets done. But by taking a small bit and doing it, its not so daunting.

Didn't mean to be so long winded there...

So as you go on your way about this holiday week, I hope that you and yours have a blessed one. Be thankful for what you have, and do not regret what you do not. Take a look at those children in your life, and treasure the time that you have with them as youth. Look at your relationship with them; do you respect them as people (not kids)? Do you talk to them in ways that make them feel less of a person, or are you contributing to their enrichment, and guiding them to make choices that will make their transition to adulthood pleasant? Are you depositing or withdrawing from their emotional banks? Will they be thankful for you being in their lives?

Have a wonderful week, and don't eat too much! Be careful out there on Black Friday as well!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shameless Plug...

This is a shameless plug for help. My organization, Interstages, Inc. (where I use these wonderful AYD techniques) is facing financial hardships, and you can help us out (for free!) by clicking and voting for us.

We also accept conventional donations as well; check out our website at for more information.

Thanks in advance!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Anti-Prevention and Ask MommaYonna, we will talk about prevention programs. I'm sure you know of DARE (anti-drug use), violence prevention programs, suicide prevention, sexual abuse/activity prevention...blah blah blah. I am not here to say that these things are good or bad; shoot, I was able to experience a number of these programs in my youth. You get alot of information out of these, and for some, the scare tactics actually work (...on kids who have been sheltered from these type of events, on a regular basis). But for many of our youth (and when I say Our, I mean my own, as well as the students I teach, who live in more urban areas, in close quarters with many people, and in metropolitan areas, where the rates of domestic crimes are high)these preventative programs just barely gloss over the facts that they see on a daily basis.

There is an assertion out there that 'problem free is not fully prepared', and I agree with this statement. When we try to "fix" our youth, we sell the young people short, and diminish our expectations for their achievement. We can do our best to teach them, and try to prevent high risk behaviors, but even if we achieve in doing so, its not the same as preparing them for the future. "Preparation requires an equal commitment to helping youth understand life's challenges and responsibilities and to teach youth the necessary skills for success."* Just because we are teaching the youth how to stay away and prevent issues from happening, we aren't fully preparing them for adulthood. They aren't going to "make it" in the world, just because they didn't get pregnant, join a crew/gang, or because they didn't use drugs; they learned prevention--not skills, knowledge or personal attributes. Developing the youth towards positive developmental outcomes really is the best strategy for problem prevention. It takes dedicated adults to do this. We have to help them strive for toward more positive goals that promote the skills and motivation they need to adopt and implement healthy lifestyles.

What does that mean?
I try my best to not tell a girl "Don't go out and have sex, you'll get pregnant, and that will be the end of life as you know it". Not only is this negative, but its flat out unlikely. How many teenaged mothers do you know of that still live a teenaged life? Still go to school, still hang with friends, still go on to college or get a job? True, life is different, because they have to come home to more responsibilities than a girl who doesn't have a child, but with some many multi-generational homes, there is most likely someone there who is taking up the slack for the youth. No one want to let the baby suffer, so everyone pitches in, in some way. Instead, I encourage her to think about other things; I ask questions to find out what they are thinking about, which in turn, gets them to discuss what they see, feel and think. I go out of my way to NOT make statements of judgement, because I know that I am an influence in their lives, and my personal feelings and opinions can change the way that they see me, but also their world. I also try not to share too much of my personal life experience in this matter, because that is subconsciously telling them my personals again...feelings and opinions. "Ms. Rayawwwwna didn't have sex at my age because she wasn't ready...I wonder what she thinks of me, because I was. Maybe I shouldn't talk about this with her anymore" would be the thoughts going through my students' mind, and I would lose the trust of a student, something that would hurt me dearly, since the safety and security that I strive to provide may not be readily available within their familial units, and I would have lost them right then and there.

Basically, with prevention programs, the young people are deemed competent and healthy when they do not participate in problem behaviors. This teaches them what not to do, but this does not teach them what they should do.

Yeah. I've found myself being more and more critical of these programs here lately, because my son, Q, has been having alot of these types of programs being introduced in his middle school. Many times, he doesn't know it, but I get the reminder phone calls from school, and emails from teachers, asking for our participation. As a parent, this prompts me to bring things of this nature up in general conversation, as opposed to "You' aren't using drugs are you?", which of course he would deny (even if he were) out of fear of judgement and punishment. Instead, when its brought up in general conversation, he may feel more comfortable asking questions and discussing what he does know. At that time, I do my best to answer factually, and unbiased, no matter how I am feeling about it on the inside. Personal opinions must go out the window, unless he asks, and sometimes, even in that case, I still try to keep it to a minimum. YES, ITS HARD, but he is a youth in development as well!

Okay folks...
I'm getting long winded (as folks tend to do when they feel certain passion over a subject), so I'm going to cut it short here. But I do want to know what you think. Please comment, discuss, ask questions-whatever you feel comfortable doing. Also, should you have a question, or a situation you'd like to present to me, please do so at, and I will do my best to help you out. Now, I am not the end-all/be-all when it comes to youth development (I'm still learning), but maybe I can offer a suggestion or some insight that will help you out. Then again, maybe I will end up learning from you. Let's find out together, eh?

*Advancing Youth Development: A Curriculum for Training Youth Workers, Handout 1-C, Key Youth Development Concepts and Assertions

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the turnaround

Hey there readers...this week has been a whirl-wind!

First things first, thanks for the well wishings that I got. I had fully recovered, and am chock full of the daily recommended amount of blood again, so I am all ready to go!

On the home front...things are...different. Report cards came out this week, and school pictures were sent home at the same time. Its funny...when I look at the pictures of my kiddios, I can see everything that is going on in their live, right on their faces.

Q has this "I'm too cool to smile, because thats just not what 8th grade boys do...but momma said she was paying good money for these pictures, so I'd better not look mean" look on his face. He also shows me that there are lots of things on his mind...gotta keep his grades up, or the drum lessons will become shorter; dealing with girls; trying to keep up with homework; and church things: his best friends go to church with us, and do things one way, while the neighborhood kids he goes to school with do things another way. He feels like he has 2 sets of friends, and being the same person in front of both groups isn't as easy as he thought it would be.

J brought his pictures home, and his face looks like "I want to smile...and I'm gonna...but wait! I'm not ready...doggit, you caught me". J is having some issues right now. What I didn't realize in my own grief is that J (who is named after my daddy) has been hit hard by his death as well. Not only are J and I very close, and he sees what I'm going through, but being a namesake hasn't made things easier for him. His grades are effected. Being a child who deals with emotional abuse issues, he takes EVERYTHING alot harder than his siblings. His grades are showing this as well. He does great on his tests, and does his homework, but gets lazy at the point where he has to hand it in. He is also easily distracted in class. I told him today to let his teacher know that I need to work on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) with her, because I am thinking that he may need psychological help in school. I already sees a counselor, and is in the 'Confidence Club' (a group of students who are shy or have esteem issues, working with one of the school counselors), but he may need more than that. I already knew what his grades were before the report cards came home (thanks to online grade reporting), so I knew what to expect. However, he was crushed when he got his grades. He was reluctant to show me, because he thought he was going to get in trouble, but since I knew a couple of weeks ago, I had already thought about what to do, and without him realizing it, we have already been dealing with it. But those grades! The only thing that he has to gauge himself with...he saw them, and immediately decided that he was stupid. I have to explain to him constantly that he is not stupid, he is not a dummy, but maybe the way he's learning isn't the style that's best for him. I explained that there are 9 different learning styles, and most teachers really only use 3 or 4 of them. I told him that I will help him to find his learning style, and that we will work together to bring those grades up...together.

Bean's pictures showed me exactly what I already knew about her. "I love this, this is cool, I am great and everything is well with the world". Her smile is so easy, and third grade life couldn't be better. Her only real issues in life are why we can't go out and buy her teacher a huge birthday present, and dealing with her brothers at home. However, last night, she told me she felt so bad, she wanted to run away. I asked her why, she said "because I keep doing wrong things". She said this after I reminded her about deodorant. (Yes...its gotta be in the hormones in the baby has been wearing deodorant since she was 5!) Every night, after showers, I ask my kids the 3 questions...Did you brush your teeth? Did you put on deodorant? Did you take your medicine? She had forgotten one of those, and I asked her to go and do it. Earlier in the day, she had forgotten to do something else. To me, its no big deal, but I have to remember, I'm not 8. To her, anytime mom has to tell her to do something that she should have already done, its a big deal, and 'maybe I'm getting in trouble'. I tried to break it down to her as much as I could, explaining that everyone makes mistakes before they get really good at something, they even forget a bunch of times before something becomes a habit. We laid together, quietly talking for a few minutes, as I let her know that messing up is okay and that I would be very sad if she ran away. My life wouldn't be the same, and who would help me when the brothers ganged up on me? Who would sing the girl songs with me, and who would I practice dancing with?

I swear, being a momma shows me myself. I thought this morning that a few months ago, all yesterdays conversations would have gone so differently...but thinking about youth development has really changed me. I also think about how my being an adult versus them being children has got to feel on their part, and that I don't want to disrespect them as people. Young people, but people nonetheless.

When was the last time you changed a conversation you were going to have with a child out of respect for them? Have you ever punished, or 'snapped' on a child because its 'what your're supposed to do'? Did this happen to you as a child, and if so, how has it effected your adulthood?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Time Out!

So...I am taking a brief hiatus here...yeah, I know I just got started, but I need this downtime.

I had some major dental work done this past Thursday (the day after the field trip), and everything went as planned. But then on Saturday, the temporary crown the dental surgeon put on me came out. No biggie. I was fine.

Then at about 2:30 in the morning, I woke up to a mouth full of blood.

I don't wanna get into graphic details, but after 2 hospitals and almost 8 hours of bleeding nonstop, I was finally taken care of and sent home.

So, because I lost so much blood, I have been put on bed rest, and cannot return to work until Thursday, to give my body a chance to recoup that blood loss.

Here I sit, bored out of my mind. But hey, I finished knitting that scarf I had been working on since forever.

See you all when I get back to work, and the AYD starts up. Ooh, also, I have an appointment with my new therapist, and will let you know how that goes. Should be interesting, since this is my first time meeting with anyone since Daddy passed.

Thanks for being patient with me, folks. I do appreciate you. Please pray for my healing.