Full Circle

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I have been blogging for years.  My old blog is Home of the Croslands over on Blogspot. I still keep it because all of my recipes are there :-).  The main reason why I moved over to wordpress is because I wanted to change my focus and felt that moving over would help me do that.  Ever since I moved to wordpress, my focus has been off of natural living, and on to living life with mental illness.

I started blogging for myself.  It is therapeutic and cathartic for me.  It helps me feel like I have a voice.  It gives me a way to empty my brain of all of the words that are spinning around in it.  It allows me to share what life is like for us who have mental illness.

I have found, over this past year especially, that not only do I give myself a voice with my blog, but I give a voice to all of those that are struggling and don’t know how to put it into words.  It reminds/teaches those who don’t struggle with mental illness that those who do are real people, with a real illness.  I have noticed that there are many people whom didn’t know that mental illness was actually illness until I started blogging.  It’s a place for others to come to in order to feel valued and loved.  A year ago, I created a group (mostly consisting of my friends) in which we share our struggles with each other, talk about self care, and ask for prayer.  It has been an amazing journey, and I have seen how God has taken my love for writing and blogging, and is using it for HIS glory.  Not just the writing, though.  I also see how He is using my illness to bring glory to Him through my sharing.  Without this illness, I wouldn’t be able to reach out to so many and love them with the love of Christ.  I know what it’s like to struggle, daily, and I can lend a hand to others.  This struggle, this illness, is not about me.  It’s about Him.  It’s about loving others.

A while ago (can’t remember how long it’s been now), a friend of mine shared one of my blog posts (actually one that Robert wrote and I shared on my blog) with To Save a Life. As of today, I have had four posts come out on there; 3 of the posts have been this week alone.  I can’t say it has been easy.  Brene Brown says “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.”  I have been feeling that this week.  There have been some comments that have definitely not been comfortable to read.  I have put my story out there for 823,000 people to read.  It’s terrifying.  But.  I have seen so many comments about how much my post helped people, so it’s all worth it.  I trust that God has my words on this website for a reason.  I’m not an excellent writer, but I have a story to tell.  I know that God has a purpose for my story, otherwise, I would just hide.  It would be easier.

Here are the posts that are on To Save a Life so far:

Finding a New Normal with Bipolar II 

When I am Dealing with my Mental Illness, Sometimes I forget About God

Truth in the Face of Lies

My Bipolar Makes Me Feel Defective

Another amazing thing is that I realized something today: I am an excellent teacher!  I went back to my old teaching website (The Crosland Owls), and I saw how I taught things.  Wow!!  Amazing!!  I learned so much the year that I made that blog!  I realized in that moment that I am a professional, certified teacher because I am good at it!  God has gifted me in this area for a reason!  Am I using my gifting in the classroom?  No.  And I probably never will again.  But.  I can use this gifting at home with my own children.  I am currently homeschooling Karis and I have been frustrated with not being able to find the perfect curriculum.  I realized today that I don’t even need much curriculum.  I can write my own and teach her the way I KNOW is best.  And I can do this without ANY pressure from anyone above me or next to me because it’s just ME and Karis (and eventually the boys…)!

I ended up printing out so many pictures of charts and graphic organizers that I made and will use them with Karis.  I also found many activities on my Teachers Pay Teachers account that I have already paid for and can use for Karis.  They are all from her grade level!

These are the things coming up that I’m so excited about (move on if this isn’t exciting to you 😉 )!

Social Studies: Thanksgiving (from Scholastic), The Mayflower Compact and questions from it, interviews with passengers from the Mayflower, interactive activities on Scholastic’s website, and interview with a Wampanoag Native American and questions to go with it.  Interactive activities about the daily life of a Pilgrim and Wampanoag.  Interactive activities about what the actual feast was like.
When we’re finished with Thanksgiving activities, we are going back to Texas History.  I actually bought the Texas Social Studies book so I had a basis for Texas History, and I figured I would just expand from there.  The week after Thanksgiving we are doing Native American Poster projects covering the 4 Native American tribes that are mentioned: Karankawa, Caddo, Comanche, and Jumano.  Next, we will move on to the explorers.  I haven’t planned much for that, yet.  Stay tuned (if you’re interested).

Reading: Finishing up Mr. Popper’s Penguins with questions and activities.  After this, I will do a lesson on inferencing using Unspoken, a wordless book about the underground railroad.  Then, we will move into a poetry unit!  We will learn the structure, form, author’s message, and discuss the figurative language present in different poems.  We will also learn how to analyze a poem!  I have about 7 poetry books, so we will keep busy!

Math: Continue with our Saxon 5/4 curriculum (I’m NOT a math teacher…).  This is a good, solid curriculum, and I have seen it be really good for Karis.  I will probably continue with Saxon from now on.

Writing: I’m using First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind for grammar, for now.  I will move on to something different next year.  This is a good basis of language, but it’s boring.  It’s not my style.  One thing at a time!
For writing, next week, we will be learning strong leads and how to write an expository piece.  We will be using the prompt: Things I am thankful for and why.  We will be using the pumpkin graphic organizer for now, and then the week after Thanksgiving, we will be using the snowman.  Check these out here: Latest in Writer’s Workshop.  I will model for her how to fill in the graphic organizer and we will begin the drafting process.  Hopefully we’ll even get to editing and revising.  She will publish her writing the week of Thanksgiving.
After Thanksgiving, I will give her a choice of a few different Christmas and winter expository writing pieces.
After Christmas, we will begin personal narratives (which she has done before, but we will re-address this!).  I have an amazing four square graphic organizer that looks like a house!

Science: We’re actually going to be taking a break the next two weeks while we do a Thanksgiving unit in Social Studies, but we will pick back up on Habitats in this curriculum: Elemental Science: Biology for the Grammar Stage. This is an excellent curriculum full of living books and hands-on activities!  Karis has loved it so far!

Handwriting: Karis is learning cursive (again) with A Reason for Handwriting.  The goal is to have her actually use cursive in her writing and spelling, over time.  I know this is kind of a lost art, but I believe it is important.

Spelling: We use the Evan-Moor Spelling program called Building Spelling Skills.  It’s very simple, but I like it because it utilizes different activities to teach spelling.  Editing for spelling, word meaning, word study, then the typical spelling test is done on Fridays.  So far, she has made A’s!

Anyway, I’m obviously, finally very excited about teaching Karis because I have been reminded that I can.  It’s not about relying on a perfect curriculum.  It’s about doing what I love to do and am gifted at.

And one other amazing thing… I have had an amazing week with my routines/schedule! I made a schedule for Karis on Monday, and a routine list for myself, and I have followed it almost completely every day this week.  I can’t tell you how helpful this has been for my health.  I also created a chore chart for the kids, and they have followed it every morning and afternoon this week!

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EVERY DAY this week I have gotten up, showered, put on makeup, and dried my hair.  This is a picture of me today, day 5.  I like this picture because it shows victory!  Before this week, I struggled to get out of bed each morning, let alone shower, put on makeup, and dry my hair!

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Praise God for bringing me full circle and showing me the why of so many things.  These past 6 years or so have been very difficult.  He is reminding me today that He has a purpose in the difficulty.  He can and will make beauty out of ashes!

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