To Do List for 2018

Sitting in a conservatory on Christmas 2017

I’m making new goals to keep myself on track in 2018.

I love lists especially to do lists. Checking off what I’ve done, keeping my life in order, seeing progress made – everything about these lists leaves me feeling satisfied. Or guilty. It’s always one of the two. Hopefully, this year it will be the satisfied feeling only.

Anyway, I decided to make myself a to do list for 2018. Last year was filled with so much growth. I don’t want to lose any of that momentum in this next year.

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To Parents: Children Opening Up

My father and my sister Maria years ago. Parents support us so much.

My father and my sister Maria years ago. Parents support us so much.

“Have you really struggled with. . .that?” A man asked me quietly after I had shared about my eating disorder. When I nodded my head, he looked at the ground, raw pain etched across his face.

“My daughter, she has that too. How do you get to a point where you can share that?” The tenderness in his eyes reminded me of my own mother and other parents I had seen caring for their child with mental illness. His tears and those of other families show the agony that support people deal with every day. However, this also brings me hope because it shows me that those children and young adults have others trying to help and love them.

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Being OK with Second Best

All I Want is Perfection

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it. – Salvador Dali

Last Wednesday, I went to the next round of my Toastmasters speech competition after winning first place at my club. All day, people questioned if I was nervous. My past experience at two competitions and multiple tournaments with speech team made me feel calm.

Well, I was calm until I drove to the event. Fear gripped me as I tried to steer my car and contemplate my speech. School had taken away time from practice, and play practice had drained from me the emotion that I usually invested in my topics. Perhaps this was a poor decision. Maybe I should give up right now, I thought.

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Meeting Joni Eareckson Tada and Raising Awareness

Joni Earkson TadaThis week, Joni Eareckson Tada spoke my university’s daily chapel. Later, I went to a leadership lunch where she spoke. Despite my fear of eating in front of others, being there was worth the anxiety.

If you have never heard of Joni, you should look her up and read about this amazing woman. At the age of 18, she dived into shallow water and was seriously injured. Since than, Joni has been a quadriplegic meaning she cannot move her arms or legs.

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Ways That Numbers Control Our Lives

Toastmasters: A Group for All

Toastmasters can benefit anyone!

At my Toastmasters meeting tonight, I gave a speech on how numbers control our lives. This meeting was not only a normal club meeting but also a contest for the International Speech Competition. Whoever wins at this level proceeds to the next one and so on until you reach the international level. My club voted for me to represent them at the next level, and I look forward to giving this speech again in hopes to inspiring more people.

This ideas has ruminated in the back of my mind for over almost two years now. However, I never felt confident enough to speak about it. Numbers have always scared me. That shouldn’t happen for someone with Aspergers, I have been told. However, math caused me panic as I grew older. My mother maintains that I was good at it but lost confidence. Deep depression made me unable to complete any homework, so my dislike of this subject grew as my knowledge waned.

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Turning Stress into Victory: A Followup of Yesterday

After having such a stressful morning yesterday, I wondered how I could keep going.  Perhaps dropping the speech tournament was the best idea.  Many ideas and anxieties sped through my mind.

Finally, I decided to leave with another group of people.  Although this required leaving a class early and not picking up a classmate, it saved me the pressure of driving to a busy and unfamiliar place.  Thus, the transportation was figured out despite my desire to please everyone.  Instead of worrying about my class believing me the perfect student or taking care of the other girl coming, I needed to think about myself.  As selfish as that sounds, sometimes you need to focus on your own life instead of trying to control everyone around you.  In the end, we only can choose our own actions, thoughts, and feelings.  I can influence others but not force them to react in a certain way.

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Trying Not to Have a Complete Breakdown

Girl sadly thinking "what now"

Now what?

Right now, I feel ready to either burst into sobs or pull out all of my hair.  Anxiety rushes through my body like a million spiders trapped under my skin.  How on earth will I get through the rest of this day all by myself?  Right now, I keep asking myself that while trying not to think of death or self-harm.

In a few hours, I am leaving for a speech tournament.  However, all of the plans exploded in my face.  Now, my greatest fear might need to be faced.  Instead of riding with others to the competition, I might be driving myself and someone else through busy traffic to an unknown area.  Cars terrify me, and although I commute every day, riding in those high-speed killing machines fills me with dread.  What will happen if I need to find directions to a new place with the pressure of arriving on time?

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Coping Skill: #31. Reciting Dramatic Monologues or Poetry

In speech team, I have struggled with fear of my informative speech about EDNOS or Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.  Last tournament, the speech was in the persuasive category.  Despite my participation in Toastmasters, I trembled and stumbled over my words while presenting to judges from other colleges.

Perhaps speaking is not for me.  Maybe my dream of helping others through writing and presenting was nothing but an impossible hope.  After all, my childish voice and bashful head hung low rarely impress others.  How can I convince others about the dangers of mental illness and the hope for the future?  Giving up might save me time, effort, and great disappointment.

Yet, I have decided continue on with speech team despite my fear.  However, this next tournament came too quickly for me to confidently prepare my informative speech on eating disorders.  Thus, I have worked on another challenging but inspiring piece.  This is a dramatic scene from the play Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon which I reviewed here.

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Becoming OK With Imperfection and Eating at Culvers

Little boy licking lips and thinking "I came, I conquered, I ate, I liked it!"

I came, I conquered, I ate, I enjoyed it!

If anything came out of the speech tournament yesterday, it was that I learned what not to do.  Next time, I will practice more and certainly not enter with a speech that is 12 minutes when you need to be under 10.  Also my speech on EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) fit more into the informative category than the persuasive one.  My family and classmates tried to help me make the speech better, but I did not want to change what the speech team professor liked.  Now I realize that I should have listened to others as well as him.

Yet, despite going over on time and not doing very well, I am feeling ok about the tournament as a whole.  This was my first one, and I did not use a script.  Plus, just talking about such a difficult subject in front of strangers was a huge challenge.  Overall, I did fairly well if not perfect.

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My First Speech Tournament

Today, I am going to my first speech tournament for college speech team.  However my anxiety and PTSD are going crazy trying to keep me from leaving.  What if I look stupid in front of everyone?

Although I have spoken in Toastmasters, being in front of peers is a whole different story.  Memories of being mocked and teased are echoing through my head.  Perhaps doing this was a bad idea.

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