Te Quiero, Honduras

Before my trip to Honduras, I had heard the quote about “giving the shirt off your back,” but I never thought it would apply so much to my life.

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At the elementary school in El Ocote, the community that we were helping, I met a girl named Jennifer. I, along with the other brigaders, visited the school twice to teach the children lessons about things like clean drinking water and pesticide safety. During the first visit, Jennifer taught me a dance, gave me a bunch of hugs, and spent the day trying to interpret my broken Spanish. When my group of brigaders had to leave, we said our farewells to all of the kids.

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Some of them said goodbye to me 3 times and some of them hugged me so tight that it hurt, but what really stood out to me was when Jennifer ran up to me, hugged me, kissed my cheek, and said “Te quiero (I love you).”

All of the brigaders got on the bus and headed back to our compound for the night.

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Jennifer is pictured above, posing with a thumbs up.

When we returned to the school a few days later, Jennifer ran up to me immediately. Again, we spent the day together, and when I had to leave, again, she told me she loved me. I looked at her, thought about how little these people have, and how much I have been blessed with, and I decided I wanted to give her something. The only problem was that I hadn’t brought anything with me.

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Another photo of Jennifer with her classmates.

I looked at her, and I noticed we had about the same size feet, so I untied my shoes and gave them to her as a “regalo (present).”

Not only did she thank me multiple times, but other students that saw what happened began thanking me, and begging me not to leave.

Giving away my shoes was such a small gesture, that touched so many people, and until my visit to Honduras, I never thought that I was capable of being the person who would literally “give the shirt off my back.”

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You and I.

I feel calm,

lying in your bed;

your strong, yet safe, arms wrapped around me,

pulling me in;

closer.

Your skin against mine,

I feel your gentle heart beating,

filled with a different kind of love;

one that is pure.

I am safe.

This is where I am supposed to be.

I find myself lost in those green eyes;

eyes that see beauty where normal eyes just can not;

eyes that speak to my soul,

and tell me to trust you, and let my guard down,

to let you in;

and I listen.

You enter me,

and, like a flame consumes all that it touches,

you consume me.

Yet, somehow, even surrounded by fire,

I feel calm,

knowing that you refuse to let me burn.

#MeToo; My Story; September 27, 2015

Anybody who has mustered up the courage to type those words out and then share them to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook is brave beyond belief, at least in my eyes.

I, unfortunately, am not one of those brave souls.

How could I be? When I told my best friend about my assault, she told me, “Well, you were both drunk, so, technically, you raped each other.”

That’s not how I felt when I woke up, not wearing panties, in a house that I did not fall asleep in.

That’s not how I felt when I went home and showered for hours, just trying to feel clean again.

That’s not how I felt when I slept the whole next day, just trying to avoid dealing with what had just happened to me.

Not when I was a virgin, prior to that night.

That’s not how I felt when I had to find out what happened from his girlfriend, who I didn’t even know, messaging me, calling me “gross.”

That’s not how I felt when I texted him the next day to tell him I didn’t remember anything that happened, and he responded, “Well, let’s do it again tonight and make you remember it.”

That’s not how I felt when I asked him to help me pay for a Plan B pill, which he didn’t end up contributing to. ($60)

That’s not how I felt when I asked him to help me pay for STD tests (because I was so terrified of what he might have), which he also didn’t contribute to. (Another $60)

After the man who assaulted me realized that I might report him, he then turned it around on me and told everybody in my town that I raped him. It was his get out of jail free card; his way out.

He was the high school quarterback, and I was a nobody in that town. He used his platform and his popularity to ruin my reputation. After I found out about the rumors he was spreading, I realized that nobody would believe me if I said he was actually the one that assaulted me.

So, I remained silent.

I handled everything myself.

I didn’t have my license at the time, so I asked my friend to pick up a Plan B pill for me. He drove to my house at 2am, after everybody was already asleep, so that we would not get caught.

I had my other friend drive me to Planned Parenthood so that I could get tested. I told my parents we were going to an art museum. I would have much rather been there.

Planned Parenthood could only test me for “the 3 most common types” of STD’s if I paid with cash. If I would have put it on my parents’ insurance plan, I think there were more tests they could have done, but the whole point of my friend driving me was so my parents would not know.

That meant I could only get tested for the 3 STD’s. They told me they would only call with my results if they were bad. “No news is good news!” one of the ladies working there said. A few days passed, and I got anxious, so I called them asking for my results. I tested negative on all 3.

Because testing negative for “the 3 most common” STD’s was not good enough for me to stop worrying, I Googled, “ways to get your parent to take you to see a gynecologist for the first time.” I wanted to get tested for every STD, because, I remember thinking what if I have the 4th most common STD. 

I found out that many people take birth control to clear their acne. I had been struggling with acne for a while, and my mom knew that, so it was a little bit easier to bring up the gynecologist when it didn’t have to do with my vagina.

My mom scheduled the appointment, and a couple of months later, I was able to see the doctor. When I got there, I told her that while yes, I would still like to start birth control for my acne, I also had another thing I needed to talk about. I didn’t even tell her what had happened. I said that I think I hooked up with somebody who gets around a lot, so I wanted to get tested to make sure I was all okay down there. She said I was good to go, gave me my birth control, and I was on my way.

After she said that, there was nothing more that I needed to do to, physically, to deal with my assault.

A year later, I told my mom.

1.5 years later, I told my sisters.

I usually try not to tell more people than I have to tell.

Today, my rapist works at a church as a youth minister.

He goes about his day, never even giving a second thought to what he did to me and how it affected my everyday life.

He never apologized. He never reached out. He just pretended it never happened, so that he could keep his reputation of a good person who works for a church.

Today, I have been in and out of therapy, and on and off of depression pills.

Today, I am still affected every day by what happened to me two years ago.

Today, I am still trying to be whole again.

Most importantly, today, I stand with the millions of women out there who have also experienced the horrific violence that is sexual assault, when I use the hashtag #MeToo.

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

“Follow me on Instagram!”

And I will,

But you will never meet my little sisters, who are in every other picture I share.

You will recognize their faces, and possibly recall their names,

But you will never know that the ‘skinny little blonde’ is getting scholarship offers from colleges all across the United States for her athletic abilities, not for one, but two sports. And the ‘pretty brunette’ has a disease that could end her life any day, yet she manages to keep her grade point average above a 4.0.

“Friend me on Facebook!”

And I will.

You will ‘poke’ me, and I’ll ‘poke’ you back, but we will never physically touch,

Because we will never see each other unless it is through an app on a phone,

So you will never know that I have a mole on my chin, because the only way you would see it is in person, since I edit it out of every picture I post on the internet. You will think that I never get flyaway hairs, and have perfectly white teeth, because you have never seen me in the flesh. You only see what I want you to see.

“Add me on Snapchat!”

And I will.

You will watch every video that I share on my ‘story,’

And maybe, you will even reply to a particularly funny picture with an ‘LOL,’

But you will never be in those pictures and videos that I post, because we don’t know each other. You know all of the general details about my life—I have a boyfriend, I like basketball, I go to Penn State—but you don’t know that my boyfriend and I just fought today, or that I was bullied by my basketball team, or that I am lonely.

What if, instead, your words sounded like this;

“I want you to go downtown with me to see a play!”

And I will.

We can spend time getting to know one another, and ourselves, as we decide which genre we are most interested in, and we can bond as we pick out new outfits at Metro. After the play, we can discuss what we liked, and what we didn’t, and which character we feel is the most relatable. You might share with me that you are most like the daughter of the single mother, and open up about your father that walked away from your family. You might cry to me, as he has not reached out to you since.

“Come with me to the museum!”

And I will.

We can look at art, and learn each other’s favorite colors. I might mention that yellow is my favorite color, because it reminds me of sunshine. Renoir, Manet, Caravaggio—

You will be impressed with how much I know about the artists and styles, so you will ask me if I ever studied art history. I will tell you all about the art class that I took my senior year of high school, and how I wanted to major in it at one point. Then, we will talk about other high school experiences, and the friends we have at home.

“Hey! What are you doing after this class? We should grab lunch!”

            And I will.

The Girl on Fire; a poem

the fire is something you’re born with
it’s not something you can learn
it can’t be taught
it’s a gift.
the fire is wild
red, free, destructive to anything in it’s way
the fire won’t stop just because people want it to; that is something that fuels it
people’s harsh words pour onto the fire like gasoline
expanding, growing, spreading
becoming a threat.
little girls who play with fire may get burned because they are ignorant
uninformed of the damage they may do
they mean no harm, but the fire doesn’t stop for anyone
so when little girls play with fire
they need to be taught where to direct their flames
only then is when the fire will burn in shades of bright blue.
the fire burns at all times
don’t touch the fire, and don’t try to stop it
don’t pour water on it, and don’t suffocate it
it will never burn out.
even if it becomes small, insignificant, and is forgotten
even if it becomes just a crackling spark on the ground
it will never die.

-something i wrote 3 years ago, but never had anywhere to put it.

Why Fidget Spinners Are Old News

Recently, fidget spinners took the world by storm. Kids all across America couldn’t get their hands on them fast enough, and stores everywhere struggled to keep up with the high demand for the toy.

But while these fidget devices are a “cool new trend” for the general population, people with Autism have been using them for decades.

(Other 2017 trends you probably own that began as therapeutic methods for people with Autism are featured at the bottom of the article!!!)

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The spinner was invented in 1997 by Catherine Hettinger. She patented it and started selling it locally. After 8 years, she could not afford the 400 dollar patent fee, so she was forced to give up her ownership rights.

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Until 2017, most of the general population had never heard of fidget spinners, or any fidget items, for that matter. However, “doctors have been giving them to kids with anxiety for Attention Deficit Disorder for some time” as they have the ability to help keep children focused.

“Occupational therapists have long used these for kids in the spectrum of autism, basic developmental disorders, in the spectrum of severe ADHD”

-Dr. Steven Shapiro, Chairman of Pediatrics at Abington Hospital Jefferson Health)

But why? How do they help?

I’m glad you asked.

When kids with ADHD use fidget spinners, they focus on using their fine motor skills and are able to avoid distractions and other temptations.

“When you’re fidgeting with something, your hands are feeding back to your brain, a signal that you’re involved in a repetitive task. That repetitive task frees up your mind.

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Because of the sudden, and drastic, increase in popularity, schools across the nation have gone so far as to ban fidget spinners, and many teachers claim that they are distracting.

However, this could have a negative impact on students who actually used fidget objects to focus in the classroom before society rebranded them to make them “cool.”

Other Things Autistic People Have Been Using Therapeutically for Years that Turned to Mainstream Trends in 2017

 

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Videos of people cutting through colorful sand, smashing glass, mixing different paints, and bending metal are only the beginning of what people have recently spent their free time watching. The possibilities are endless with this one.

Blog. fidget cubeThe Fidget Cube

These blocks have been used by therapists for years, but now they have been rebranded to the general population as “the ultimate stress relieving cube,” Each side is different, allowing you to keep your hands entertained for hours on end. They come in every color, and many people claim that they use them to get through long business meetings.

Blog. gravity.pngThe Gravity Blanket

This project was part of a Kickstarter campaign that raised over 4.7 million dollars and has almost 24 thousand backers. However, the idea is not original. Weighted blankets have been around for years to help with conditions like anxiety, PTSD, Insomnia, and OCD.

Hi readers!

I hope you liked this article! While I have your attention, I wanted to use this opportunity to encourage you take some time to learn more about Autism.

While there are many organizations for Autism out there, the most well-known one is Autism Speaks. Unfortunately, in a recent budget report, the organization’s profits totaled at 57.5 million dollars, and only 15.3 million went toward the direct aide of families and people with Autism. Basically, the majority of their money goes toward research.

Like I said earlier, there are many other organizations out there!! I’ll link some down below.

Autism Self-Advocacy Network

The Autism Women’s Network

Parenting Autistic Children with Love and Acceptance

The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Struggles of an At-Home Insomniac

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Okay, no, that isn’t me. It’s a random picture I found on Google, but it is 100 percent what I look like right now. As a matter of fact, that’s what I look like every time I blog. Unfortunately, that’s what I look like when I don’t blog, too.

What I mean by that, is it is currently 3:26 a.m., and I am not even the slightest bit tired, and I won’t be for a while.

This isn’t the same “I’m not tired” you used to get when you were having a sleepover with your friends, or when you drink a cup of coffee at 8 p.m. and wonder why you can’t fall asleep.

I am talking about a nightly routine of finally falling asleep between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.

I don’t know how many of you can relate to my situation, but I have had trouble with this since the beginning of high school. I actually used to post a daily “snap” on my Snapchat Story featuring a timestamp of when I was able to sleep.

My best friends and I would joke about how I never sleep, and they would ask what I possibly did for all of those hours. Eventually, they felt it was becoming a pattern, and they grew more and more worried about me.

I honestly started to believe that I had insomnia, as I was sleeping an average of 2-4 hours per night.

But there was an exception.

Every time I would spend the night at a friend’s house, I would fall asleep the second my head hit the pillow. Even as early as 9 p.m.? Yep.

I tested this theory many times, and every time, the results came back the same: sleep at a friend’s, able to sleep; sleep at home, not able to sleep.

I realized my sleeping problem was connected to my own home. 

Now, I thought this was strange, because I had heard of people not being able to sleep away from the comfort of their own home… but I was the opposite. I could sleep anywhere but my home.

When I started college at Penn State last Fall, I was anything but confident in my ability to wake up for my 8 a.m. class 3 times a week. How in the world am I going to wake up at 7:15 a.m. (without my parents there to physically shake me, like they did throughout my high school years) when I will have just fallen asleep 3 hours prior?!

The first week, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

I was sleeping 7-8 hours every night. I would wake up to my alarm every time. (Okay, okay, not every time. I missed class twice. Cut ya girl some slack.) 

I thought, “Oh, it’ll just wear off once I have been sleeping there every night, and I’ll be back to my sleepless nights in no time.” I was mistaken. I kept this pattern of getting a full night of rest for both of the Fall and Spring semesters.

I was so proud of myself. I was finally out of the rut! I no longer had sleeping problems!

WRONG.

The school year ended, so I am currently living at my home, and my night-owl self is back and better than ever! Unfortunate.

I have yet to figure out how to fix this problem, but you know what they say: the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one! Well, kids, looks like I’m on my way.

Onwards and upwards!

 

Hi readers!

Can you relate to this post? Leave a comment, or reach out to me! I’d love to talk more about this, and work together with you toward us both getting more rest-filled nights!