My high school morning routine

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I hated the sound of my alarm clock. It was loud and obtrusive. Getting agitated first thing upon waking is not a good way to start the day. But this one had a soft green shade for checking the time in the dark instead of the bolder red. So I liked that feature. And that’s why I kept using it.

I set the alarm and placed it on my desk, several feet away from my bed. This way I had to physically get out of bed to turn it off. I couldn’t be trusted with the alarm next to my bed. I never could figure out how to properly use the snooze button, but instead would just turn off the alarm. So having it right next to my bed was a risky move and would likely result in me not registering that I turned off the alarm. And I’m sure by now I was responsible for waking myself rather than relying on my parents, so I couldn’t wait for a second or third call from Mom or Dad asking if I was up yet.

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Ninth grade starts with basketball

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Not my team … but we did tons of running.

I wanted to go the local Catholic high school. But the one in town closed many many years ago. So it meant having to attend the school forty minutes away, across state lines.

Like I said, I wanted to go. But it was sad to say goodbye to the friends I had met in public school. And going to a school that far away offered new challenges for getting involved and socializing.

During one of the diocesan-wide basketball tournaments that I played in middle school, the girls basketball coach had come to see me play. He was very excited to have me play when I reached high school.

During the summer before ninth grade, I learned that anyone interested in girls basketball could join up for voluntary team conditioning. So Mom drove me over and dropped me off for morning sessions.

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Preschool through 8th grade: Where do things stand?

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Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:

  • What areas seemed to have improved?
  • Have I grown out of anything?
  • What am I still struggling with?
  • Has anything new developed?

If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation. 

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Seeing yourself through eyes of faith

Part of what forms your self-esteem and self-confidence is knowing who you are. I had images of a wallflower who was unsure of what to say, convinced everyone else’s opinions were more important, images of a clumsy kid who didn’t need any help tripping over her own feet. While to some degree I was shy and quiet, there was so much more going on beneath the surface. Things that I couldn’t quite put my finger on to explain. (I’ve illustrated some of that here.)

What I’ve come to understand, though, is that the true strength of knowing who you are is in your relationship with God and Jesus, in your faith. It’s through faith that you really achieve a true, complete sense of self. The flaws, talents, insecurities etc. are put into more proper perspective.

Not that I completely knew it at the time, and certainly not during eighth grade. I knew God and faith were important. I knew prayer was important. There were reminders for me all over the house. We had multiple crucifixes throughout the house, and I had one in my room near my bed. I even had a small plastic statue of St. Joseph that glowed in the dark. There were other devotionals, tools and images of our faith in different rooms.

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The eighth grade steal

When I described some of my experiences of playing basketball in public school (find that here), I described a moment when I made a steal. I wasn’t sure if it had been during seventh or eighth grade, but as I reread my eighth grade journal I discovered an entry. Here, in all of its glory, is my rendition of what happened.

I’ve never been one to describe myself as a great storyteller. Mostly as a matter of struggling to figure out what details to include and what to leave out, not having that natural sense of how to dramatize a moment verbally. But it’s a different kind of thing when writing it out. I can write out what I want, rather than trying to gauge how a story is being received in the moment, attempting to make spontaneous adjustments.

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Poem: I Am

Struggle of wanting to help but not being sure how. Can one person make a difference?

In eighth grade we were asked to complete a form poem. Each line began with a certain phrase and we had to finish the thought. A typical response for this assignment was a bunch of random thoughts that somehow added up to introducing you a bit more, showing likes/dislikes/interests. Mine turned into something with a more mature theme.

I’ve included the template we were given to follow.

Given the content of the poem, I see this as proof for myself that I did want to help people in whatever way I could.

Yet, I’m still not sure why being kind, listening to what others say, being available and helping others were seen as secondary characteristics and behaviors. Why was seeking academic success, athletic abilities and other talents seen as more valuable? Those abilities can be taught or learned. But how you treat other people, whether you care about others or only yourself, that’s more of a fundamental thing. That really has to come first.

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The lies we tell

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One of my friends in seventh and eighth grade was a good singer. She sang at some school assemblies. I was amazed at her ability to sing solos in front of the school, in front of so many people. I would have gotten stage fright and froze, so her ability to successfully complete a song impressed me. She carried notes well and had an even voice, not pitchy like I imagined mine would be, but I wouldn’t classify her as having an outstanding voice that would later capture the attention of judges on “American Idol” or other shows. That’s not to say I didn’t support her; just intended to capture a bit of reality.

She’d tell me these stories of competitions she’d go to with her singing group. These stories all sounded so amazing. She’d talk about these trips she took over the weekend, the people she met (celebrities included) and all these amazing things. I believed her; there had been no reason to really doubt her. Even though there really wasn’t any proof.

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Poem: Vanishing (with back story)

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Wired.com

This is the poem that got me started writing poetry on my own time. In previous classes over the years we had written poems, usually following a form or writing haikus and limericks. Those were good ways of being introduced to poetry, but they didn’t seem to be very personal.

In May 1998, near the end of eighth grade, I was at home in the den/family room. I remember Mom called out asking me to bring her the newspaper or something. So I got up and walked toward the kitchen as requested, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. I had blacked out or something. They ran tests at the hospital, including an EKG, but no one could find anything to explain what actually happened. I was given a heart monitor to wear for 24 hours.

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I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of what happened that weekend. I just knew I detested having to wear the monitor. But I just wrote down what I felt on paper.

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Eighth grade English: The reality check

Eighth grade English was a small introduction to the real world. Not everyone is eager to learn. Not everyone wants to be in school. Not everyone has respect for teachers or those giving presentations. Kids act up and cause disruptions in class for no reason. Not everyone does the work or makes an effort.

I viewed trying and making an effort, being respectful and paying attention as expected behavior. I wasn’t abnormal for following those protocols, but I viewed others as weird for not doing so.

This year was also a glimpse of the real world because of my teacher. I had known Mrs. Davis for most of my life. Her mother lived two houses down from us. Mrs. Davis had two daughters. Madalyn, the oldest, was my brother’s age, and we’d hang out a lot. I had a deep respect for Mrs. Davis. I knew she taught English, but I never would have guessed she’d end up being my teacher. I was with students who made an effort and then there were several who put up a fight every step of the way and just didn’t care at all.

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The highlights of eighth grade

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Eighth grade meant many more changes. Classes were in a different building on campus. Unlike seventh grade where I was with the same group of students for all of my core classes, this year meant encountering a wide range of students. There were a few individual students who shared classes with me, but for the most part each class had a unique assortment. I really got to see a broader scope in learning abilities and interest in learning. In my English class, that wide range was more pronounced as I was mixed in with several students who spent a lot of time serving in-school suspensions and just didn’t seem to understand or care about the importance of getting an education.

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