Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Story My Life is Writing

Those of you that follow my blog know that I've been blogging about my new endeavors in running. I haven't been running as much lately because of vacation, but I'll continue that soon.

I wanted to blog today about the story I want to write with my life. Some of you know that back in January I read the book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. After reading that I started to follow his blog, and recently he posted about a contest he's having. Basically you have to write a blog explaining the story you want to write with your life. So, I'm doing just that. If I win, I'll get to attend his seminar on writing a better story with my life ( in Portland later this year. And they foot the bill. Which is great, considering that my husband is a student and I'm a teacher. We have no money. So, if I win, I can go! So, here's hoping right?

This year has been challenging. Moving wasn't as easy as I thought, and I really started to question what I'm doing with my life. I know, sounds serious, and I guess it was, but it wasn't like this debilitating conundrum where I just sat in the dark for hours on end pondering my purpose. It was more this small feeling of discontent that just never left. I enjoy teaching fourth grade, but I know that it's not what I want to do forever. And I know that if I don't start to make moves now to change my life's path, then I might get stuck. So, after much thought, prayer, and conversation with those close to me, I've come up with a life story I want to write.

It starts with more education. I want to get a master's degree in Educational Psychology here at IU. I wasn't sure at first what I wanted to pursue, but I think this is the right choice. I want to be able to identify disabilities in children, and then know how to help them to deal with it. This might require getting a Ph.D. as well, which I'm totally open to. I love learning. I think I'd be a professional student if possible. However, this is not where my life story ends.

Next, I want to adopt and foster children. Lots of them. Now, I don't want to be like the Duggars, because that's just a little out of control in my opinion, but I do want a large family. Think like 4-5 adopted kids and at least one foster kid at any given time. I also want some of these children to have social and/or learning disabilities. I'm not talking about anything severe and profound necessarily, but autism, ED, ODD, etc. Basically, if it has an acronym I'm willing to have a child dealing with it in my house. I also want to have a fair amount of land in order to have animals like horses, goats, chickens, etc. I think that animals are a great form of therapy for people, and especially kids. It helps teach responsibility, and it helps boost self-esteem. Kids that can't seem to connect to people often find they can connect to animals. And let's just be honest, I love animals. I mean, I don't even know how many strays I've taken in. So, I guess that part might be selfish. Oh well. But this is not the end of the story either.

The main part of my story is this idea for an organization that I want to start. I want to start an organization that has four main priorities. Since I'm a list person, I'll give these to you in a bullet point form (I know, you can thank me later):
  • Priority One: Raise awareness of social and learning disabilities. I think a lot of people have misconceptions about children with disabilities. I want to work to correct these misconceptions, as well as inform parents and schools of symptoms and things to watch for if you are concerned about your kid. I particularly want to help raise awareness in lower SES areas. A lot of these people work so much that they don't know where to look for resources or have the time to do so. I want to be so present in these communities that it's easy, efficient, and obvious where to look for help.
  • Priority Two: Lobby/Work to create political change in our public school systems. I don't know about you, but I believe that our public school system is in dire need of some help. I also believe that the main problem holding back our schools from providing great education is educational policy. Special education policy is in need of revamping, and I'd like to do something to help change it. The only possible problem with this is that it might keep us out of 501 c 3 status. I'm not super familiar with all of that, but I'm pretty sure you can't be political if you are 501 c 3. But that might be wrong. I don't know.
  • Priority Three: Work with private schools to help provide special education. Many parents choose private school (mine did), and a lot of people with special needs children would like to. The problem right now is that a lot of private schools don't have the resources to really service these kids. I'd like to help them by showing them low cost resources that they can implement easily.
  • Priority Four: Community. I want to help create community among parents who have kids with special needs such as autism, ADD, ADHD, ED, ODD, etc. There are a lot of resources out there for parents who are dealing with kids that have severe and profound disabilities, but not as much for parents with kids who have social disabilities. However, these disabilities can be just as frustrating and difficult as more severe ones. The most important part of this priority is that I want all resources to be free. This goes back to priority one. I don't want money to keep someone out of this important community. Furthermore, I want to be able to have people over at our house to see what we are doing, to have a break from their kids, and to be able to share and have conversations about life. Isolation is the biggest problem for parents dealing with these children with social issues, and I'd love to be able to help bring about community in their lives. This can also be done through the various social medias out there. That's the great thing about the Internet. I can be thousands of miles away from someone, yet still connect with them to help them to live their lives and write their stories with their kids.
So that's the story I want to write. I have two big obstacles to accomplishing this goal. First is obvious- money! The second is knowing how to start such an organization. I'm good with ideas, but I don't know all of the red tape to becoming official and all of that. This is where I feel like attending the seminar could really help. I know that Donald Miller has started The Mentoring Project, and it would be great to hear from him and others in his organization about how it got started, how much money it takes, how many people need to be on staff, etc. etc. etc. There's a lot to discover.

So, I'd love the opportunity to go. Here's a video about the seminar. Watch it, check it out, but you better not try to win the contest or else I will cut you.

Okay, so that's just a joke about the cutting you thing- but please let me be the friend you bring!

Those of you that follow my blog- I want to hear from you! What do you think? Ideas? What kind of story are you writing with your life?


  1. good Luck Jo-jo that sounds like a great life story. Oddly enough ver simular to the one i would like to write. lol mine has some major differences but that why this is your story and not mine. lol. Miss you keep up the bloggin!!!

  2. Perhaps you could be a part of this organization- you are very creative! :)

  3. I think it sounds perfect for you and something I think you can actually accomplish. Proud of you and I lvoe you :) (sorry I'm late catching up on my reader!)