Working in the advertising department

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Part of my experience working at the newspaper in Los Angeles was helping with the sales department. I was drafted to assist in building up the classified section of the Spanish language monthly they published, trying to establish quality job offerings rather than the usual bar tending or janitorial positions.

I was excited to be part of a paper that wanted to improve the quality of life of readers and members of the community. But I didn’t speak much Spanish and I wasn’t a sales person. So, that was tricky.

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An invitation to help with youth ministry


I had known this woman for many years. She was my P.E. teacher when I was in grade school and always involved in school activities.

During the summer before I left for California, I had helped in small ways with the youth group. It was something to do and a way to be involved. I enjoyed being with this group, but I didn’t have high hopes that I was actually able to offer more than chaperoning assistance.

Yet when I returned from Los Angeles, the youth minister approached me and invited me to join her team. I know I hesitated, wondering if she was asking the right person. So there was a compromise. She invited me to check out the regular Sunday night program. No strings attached. I could come, see for myself, and join or choose to walk away.

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Choosing a year in Los Angeles

Journal I received as a college graduation gift. What a perfect quote for inspiration.

Yes, I applied to two volunteer programs that would have taken me far away from the comforts of my familiar South Carolina home where I was used to being a few hours away from family, but neither seemed very scary. It also didn’t seem like I was taking much of a risk. But I think mostly that was because I didn’t really feel like there was an option. Since I didn’t want to teach, what choice did I really have? Well, I guess I overlooked the real possibility of simply staying home with my parents and finding some retail job as a short term fix. But that didn’t seem like an option either. It was time to get out in the world.

But another reason moving far away didn’t seem like too big of a deal was because it wouldn’t be a permanent move. These would be a one-year commitment. Plus, there was the promise of living with a community of people who had the same goals and shared the same faith. I found comfort in that.

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Applying for Governor’s School

As I’ve mentioned before, I often shared my poetry writing with the school guidance counselor. She was the one who encouraged me to another step in developing my skills.

She was the one who would hang posters on the wall of the cafeteria of scholarship contests and other scholarly opportunities. I first heard about the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts and Humanities by spotting a poster in the cafeteria. The Governor’s School was offering a 5-week program in the summer for various visual and performance arts, music and creative writing. The poster included details about a one-day workshop at a local community college to offer a chance to work on poetry and learn more about the summer program. Even though I was attending a high school in Georgia, I remained eligible to apply because I still lived in South Carolina.

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How this writer got her start


Teachers are sneaky about finding ways to get students familiar with talking in front of the class.

In kindergarten, first grade and maybe even second grade, it’s disguised as show and tell. You’re bringing in an item from home that you love and talking about it. Early on, teachers emphasize the importance of sharing what you love.

That’s public speaking in its purest form. Eye contact isn’t evaluated as much and neither is the smoothness of your delivery. You’re just sharing to the best of your ability.

So those are good building blocks that progress through each grade level.

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Around the world in 15 minutes: The importance of goal setting

In second grade we were learning our multiplication tables. I believe we covered 0 x 0 through 12 x 12. But we weren’t simply learning these answers. Our teacher wanted it to become second nature, so you could see the combination and instantly rattle off the answer. Yes, it has tremendous real-life applications, but for students with learning disabilities, it’s a bit more difficult.

We had these quick tests where we had to solve 20 to 30 problems within a minute. Well it wasn’t simply testing your knowledge of the material but how quickly you could recall it. If your brain has trouble relaying information in time, quick recall isn’t going to be a strong suit. Those tests were more anxiety-inducing for me than demonstrating academic mastery.

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My sensory problems: The Big List

I’m going to lay out a whole bunch of characteristics and symptoms. And I know it will be overwhelming; there was a lot happening. This is a general look at areas that gave me trouble. By no means is this meant to indicate that ALL of these things were a factor all at once, all day long. Some situations were more problematic than others. But for me, the truth is, it wasn’t a solitary problem; I had multiple sensitivities and wide-ranging trouble with motor planning and motor skills. There were a lot of things that affected me.

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