Identifying Core Emotions with Melissa Santangelo

Today’s guest, Melissa Santangelo, The Groovy Goddess, is the founder of a full service affordable holistic fitness, wellness and skin care center, Spa Santangelo. Located in a serene spot among the redwoods of Felton, CA, with flowering gardens and her mosaic art, she created her dream by opening the first of its kind spa in the Santa Cruz Mountains, in 2003.

Certified in Yoga, Pilates, massage and energy work, Melissa is an expert in the field of tender loving care (TLC), detoxification, weight loss and stress reduction. She has led classes, workshops and written many articles on the subject of holistic care. She talked with us about how to identify our core emotions and using that awareness to shift from the blues to productive happiness.

Or listen to the podcast

During the show, Melissa refers to a few interesting concepts on the show and I wanted to provide some images and links to help you understand more about the topics.

Follow her on Facebook. Her Chakra Dance information is here. And her website: SpaSantangelo.

Vibration

She talked about moving from low vibration to higher vibration. You can learn more about that from the work of Dr. David Hawkins. These two images gives us two ways to conceptualize it.

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Unknown copyright.
Wheel of Emotion

Then Melissa explained the Wheel of Emotion. This tool is amazing and could be a good way to draw out someone who is having a hard time expressing themselves. I found this article to share because I think looking at it through a writer’s eyes is interesting.

Copyright unknown.
The Chakras

And finally, we had an interesting discussion about the chakras and if you haven’t traveled this crunchy path (that’s what we call it out here in The Land of Fruits and Nuts), please take a look. It’s an interesting way to explore grounding and spirituality. This article does a great job of explaining.

Copyright Integrative Yoga Therapy www.iytyogatherapy.com
Oil Pulling

Finally, Melissa talked about a technique she uses, called oil pulling. If you’re looking at this sideways, here’s an article from WebMD talking about its value. Here’s her video with more information.

ELI Assessment 50% off

Lyman and Charlene Smith’s Funeral | What I Remember

My family isn’t really into funerals. Thankfully, I’ve been to very few in my life but the one I remember the most was my grandmother’s brother. They called him “Unc” (short for uncle) and he was the mischief-maker. The one who would steal the fudge frosting my mom would take off her cupcake and try to save until the end (my mom is weird, we eat that first mom!). When we got to the church, no one prepared me for what I was about to see: my great-uncle’s dead body raised so we could see him. That triggered by first-ever panic attack. No idea why – but I couldn’t breathe and I for sure couldn’t go in.


Note: I am doing this thing on my podcast where I read the news from the event and comment on it – like Mystery Science 3000. It’s cool because I see things in the article I have forgotten or didn’t realize now that we have more information. I don’t read the article before I write this blog because I want to write from my memory, not other people’s interpretation of the events. So be sure to listen to the Newscast episodes on my podcast if you want even more information.


My dad’s funeral was huge. At least it seemed huge to me. I don’t even know if it was a funeral or a memorial service or, as I remember it, the place where we hoped the murderer would show up. I guess my life has been a little weird. But let me slow down and go back to what I can remember.

In which, relatives arrive and there’s lots of crying.

I remember my grandpa crying. He couldn’t seem to stop. I can’t imagine his grief. This was his lawyer son who’d had ambition and was bigger than life. And now, he was gone in the most horrific way possible. His life stolen while on the precipice of a huge honor he was sure would come. That judgeship.

Grampa had come to town with his other son, my Uncle Don. My grampa was about the most cuddly, sweet man I’d ever met. Thanks to him, I thought that’s how grampas were supposed to be. Patient, kind and obsessed with his garden. When we saw him at his house in Sacramento, it always included a walk around the back yard and a tasting of the various things he grew. For a Curtis Park backyard, he managed to cram a cornucopia of plants back there. My favorites were always the tomatoes and berries. I gotta give mad props to my mom because as we kids got bored and ended-up playing on his back lawn, she’d stay with him, listening and talking. She loved my grampa very much – he was like her second dad.

My uncle, on the other hand, is a badass. He tended to be quiet, almost broody; but then, if he had a beer or got a little loose, that Smith charisma would shine through. He served in the Navy and did the survivor training (I know I don’t have the right name for it and my apologies to all who know exactly what I’m talking about). There’s a family story about Uncle Don coming home to see me after I was born, and he was bruised and battered after that training. And he wouldn’t tell anyone what happened. For my mom, who has always loved Don as a younger brother, it upset her. I remember her talking about it. I’m sure it upset my dad too. He was very protective of his brother. I didn’t necessarily think of my uncle as James Bond, but his persona had that mystery for me. He was always gone, was doing good and serving our country.

Going through the motions, getting ready to go.

For me, I had decided I wasn’t going to be emotional. These are things 18 year olds think they can control. The police had told us the funeral was extremely important for them. They were going to be there, under cover, because often perps would show up at a funeral, especially if there were feelings involved (I’ll let you speculate on which exact feelings those might be). They were going to be all over this thing and if lucky, they’d catch the bad guy right at the event. I was completely caught up with the idea of this and it provided a course of distraction that would end up helping me not cry.

We all had to dress nicely – buying clothes had been the bane of my existence. As a heavy-set, short teen, I can assure you looking contemporary was not my strong suit. I wore a blazer, shirt and pants. I know this sounds normal, but when you have extra-large arms (thanks Dad for the genetics), it really means I was hopelessly uncomfortable. The boys were in pants and dress shirts. None of us wore black.

The funeral was in Santa Paula, a smaller town just east of Ventura. We grew up there. It’s an amazingly sweet town and by age five I was proud to declare you could dump me anywhere in town and I could find my way home. I might have already mentioned, it’s also where everyone knew we were Lyman’s kids and we’d be busted if we did anything wrong because of that. As a kid, it was both awesome and kinda sucked. But I made damn sure that was the kind of community I chose to raise my kid – Santa Cruz, while bigger, is a lot like that.

We are not church people.

We always had a strong sense of duty in our house and I was raised with great values, but it wasn’t because “God said”. As a family of principles (if you haven’t picked up on this theme by now, you haven’t been paying attention), we did the right thing because it was right. The result was, we didn’t do church. I had, on my own. I don’t think my brothers did at all. The idea we were having a funeral at a church was weird for us. I have no idea how it was chosen and who set everything up. I had been busy with all the other noise during the week and in my mind, the adults had just done what adults do.

There were a ton of people there when we arrived. We walked into a courtyard, as I remember it, that provided the entry to the church. We were escorted in and taken up front. It was me, Jay, Gary, mom, grampa and Uncle Don. I’m sure my dad’s law partners were there and the Lewis’ – the folks who helped Gary just a week before on that fated Sunday. I bet there were Rotarians and folks from the Latino community – my dad was very supportive of local activities. I swear, he had an in with all the Mexican food restaurants because we’d be treated like royalty whenever he took us to Andrea’s, Casa Manana or Las Quince Letras. And police. Lots of police.

Here’s what else I don’t remember.

I don’t remember what people said about them. I know there was talking and probably some ministerial stuff. But nope. Nothing. I don’t remember where my mom was. I just called her, and she said she sat on the end of the pew trying to be invisible. She said she was the ex-wife and felt kinda odd being at the funeral and in a church. I don’t remember something else I did – and I so appreciated my mom telling me this story – because it made me feel really good. Apparently, Gary was initially sitting next to Grampa. Imagine a small boy, still 12, sitting next to a grown older man who could not stop crying. Mom told me she noticed I saw what was happening and told Gary to switch places with me, so I could help Grampa (and Gary). That explains why I remember what I do – me spending the funeral comforting my dad’s dad.

Charlene had a lot of friends as well. She didn’t really have relatives, but there were people who loved her dearly, like the Doyle family. Mike Doyle was her ex-husband, but his mom and sister didn’t seem to care. They had a soft spot for Charlene and likely knew she needed family. Her best friend was a woman named Jill Morrill and we had done things with Jill’s family. Charlene adored her kids and Jill’s daughter Tiffany was like the daughter Charlene wished she’d had. I have always wondered how Tiffany handled Charlene’s death. I think she was still young when it happened. There were also folks from law enforcement and the legal community who had worked with Charlene.

We don’t have the guestbook.

If I truly wanted to know who was there, I don’t have any way to do it. As I remember – and again I could be wrong here – but as I remember the police took the guestbook. It was potential evidence if the killer had signed in (I’ve asked them to keep an eye peeled as they go back through the evidence today). There are also likely many, many photographs of all the people there. I am sure hours were spent pouring over the faces, as the police tried to see if they’d get lucky. I’m also sure someone will ask, but I have no idea, if Joe Alsip was there. I would expect he was; he wasn’t a suspect and it was good manners to come, but I don’t know for sure.

We didn’t have any kind of reception, or whatever it’s called, after the event. I remember people milling about the courtyard afterward, talking with one another. And then it was over. We went home. I have a feeling my uncle left quickly afterward as he had to get back to his Navy assignment. I’m also pretty sure Grampa went home the next day as well.

There were no bodies at the service. Both Lyman and Charlene were cremated but I think that happened later because for a while both bodies were evidence. I wish I could remember more, but with so much happening on several fronts, this didn’t feel like the most important thing. Maybe I’ll remember more when I read the press clippings. I’ll do that for the podcast.

Write With Me! November’s Coming. Time for NaNoWriMo!

NanowrimoJoin me! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) happens every year in November. I’ve done it several times and it’s actually fun. You don’t have to write fiction – you can write whatever you want. This year, I’d love you to join me. I’ve set up a discussion board on this site so we can have our own community. The only cost is your time. I’ll be here to answer questions, provide support and encouragement. And hopefully a few laughs.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Register on the NaNoWriMo site.
  2. Friend me there!
  3. Don’t panic about your profile, you have time to add to it.
  4. Introduce yourself on my discussion board.
  5. Start thinking about what you want to write.
  6. Tell the voice in your head that says you can’t do this to shut-up.

Good to know…

Don’t short-change yourself.
This isn’t a competition (but you can win!). It’s about the process, not the result. You seriously can’t do this wrong (but your first draft will be crappy – that’s what editing is for). Starting is the very hardest part. But just start. Don’t edit in your head, don’t get caught up in over thinking, don’t listen to your critical parent sending you negative messages.

The hardest part is just doing it.
My first one was really hard. I am so driven and it was tough to find time, to feel good about what I was doing and to slog through. But suddenly, after about five days, the momentum kicked in. I couldn’t type as fast as I could think. I started adding things to my outline (table of contents) so I wouldn’t forget.

This process can change you.
When I did write fiction, I was able to create characters that had a life of their own. It allowed me to be the bad guy and the good guy – heck, it let me be a guy! I’ve also been a teen, a woman who lived through the last 100 years being at all the right places at the right time. I’ve been able to integrate my travel memories and stories from my family. I also have gotten things out that are sometimes hard to say out loud. Writing can be a wonderful confidant. If you’re here because you’ve been through trauma, this is a very safe place to start.

NaNo (nickname) is great about keeping us motivated.
They tweet. Follow the hashtags to listen to how others are doing (#nanowrimo and #nanowrimo2018). They are on Facebook. There are groups on the site and folks from all over the world participate. They even have great merch! I have my “winning” shirts framed over my bed. Alas, it kind of backfires for me because every time my Marge (mom) sees them, she turns to me and says, “Why aren’t any of these published!?” Oh mom, I’ll get there.

Still don’t believe me? Here’s a great blog encouraging you to jump on-board and if you need more details, this one is terrific.

What are you waiting for! Join me. Join us.

So Now What? Kavanaugh, Trauma, Healing and Moving Forward

I have this fantasy of buying one of those sheds from Home Depot and having a friend sheet rock the thing, add some electricity and then make it the most girly place possible (that’s my taste, romantic, soft, flowery). There’d be a super big comfy chair, a laptop desk and it would smell like spring rain. And nobody will be able to find me. (The cover photo is where Roald Dahl wrote.)

Shortly after DeAngelo was arrested, a woman reached out to me who was sure he was her rapist. During the attack, her took her driver’s license. Her fear of him returning was so great, she left the state and lived quietly nearly 3,000 miles away – always looking over her shoulder, always wary of his return. She described herself as an introvert who rarely shared her experience with anyone.

This week, she sent me an email. The joy in her writing was evident. She was back in Orange County, she’d met with investigators there. She was even going to meet Orange County D.A. Investigator, Erika Hutchcraft (I’m jealous). I haven’t heard from her since, but what she said today made me cry! Because it was so beautiful. She thanked me and said,

“you listened and heard me, you stuck with me…”

I mean nothing, nothing could have gotten my attention more than these beautiful words.

The future of America sits on a precipice. The end goal is to divide us.

My goodness, I’m the last one to get all rose colored glasses and saccharine about things, but overall I’m an optimist. I love what John Legend said that about himself last night. If you watch the clip, he explains, “…I see a lot of opportunity for change [on the state and local level] even though I’m often frustrated by what’s happening nationally.” I have to say, this touched me. It stayed with me last night and today.

I have realized I have no control about what happens with the Supreme Court.

I was triggered, as were so many, by the rage demonstrated last week in the highest levels of our government. I truly had no opinion of Kavanaugh prior to his testimony – other than my political leanings, but I’m a grown-up, I know we are all different. Then he came to testify last Thursday. As he yelled and raged and obfuscated and lied (“it’s like quarters” – we aren’t idiots dude), my reaction to him came from the gut.

Clearly I am not alone.

I understand it’s hard for some guys to get this, but having a man rage at you is terrifying. God forbid it connects with any body memories, because that fight or flight instinct kicks in super fast. Heartbeat goes up, nerve endings start to twitch; I hear a roar in my head that is accompanied by this weird pressure. It’s kind of like having an earache and a headache and kind of not. The reaction is freaking out of our control and anyone with PTSD, male or female, understands. Anyone with trauma, understands.

But that’s not what this blog is about. 

This blog is about that beautiful sentence sent to me today. The gift I gave was unbelievable easy.

No matter what happens, we are still all neighbors*. Sure the guy down the street is an ass. But if his house burns down, I’m going to pitch in. Yes, the woman in the store seems rather racist, but if her kid runs toward the street, I’m going to grab for the kid. I’m convinced we can manage a lot of this crap locally. Individually. With our own actions.

And I want to share one example of what I mean.

When Black Lives Matter started, I took a look at my own behavior. Because I’m a compulsive talker in stores (again, this is why Katie won’t shop with me), I realized I had a pattern of who I would chat with: mostly white people. I didn’t know I was doing this, but once I was self-aware, I realized it was true.

That Christmas, I started talking to people not like me.

For example, someone of a different race, age, ethnic background; basically not a Rubenesque (see what I did there), short, white, mom who thinks she’s still cool. I started this two years ago and I’m still on board. Let me tell you what, it’s been awesome! My M.O. is to try and get people to smile or laugh and I’m proud to say, diversity pays! I am still stunned by how often I can get someone to smile or chat – even when they are incredibly different from me.

The point is don’t let them divide us. Reach out, listen, and hang in there. Observe your own patterns. See if there are adjustments you can make. I’d love to hear your stories. Anything positive. Now’s the time.

 

*I’m going to add a caveat because I’m not saying go adopt a white supremacist. I trust you understand my intent.

When Someone Else’s Trauma Triggers Yours

It has been a really tough week. Not so much practically, but emotionally. I realized this morning, in a private moment, that I feel like a rock in a tumbler. My body hasn’t been working right (leg not working right for the third straight month so walking and standing has been challenging), I’m not in a work routine, and what used to be just a feature in my life – the murders – is now a full-blown daily reality. Even the people I talk to frequently has changed. I used to go into work and see my awesome team and now, nope. I’m excited to see where things are leading, but damn, the tumble is tough.

My politics are obvious. Just get on Twitter for three minutes and I’m outed (@jcarole). But that’s for Twitter and other places, I don’t want to be political here. That said, this still might feel political, but it’s not my intention. I am truly focused on one thing right now: trauma. As defined by Webster, trauma is aan injury (such as a wound) to living tissue caused by an extrinsic agent, ba disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury and can emotional upset.

Not to blow your mind, but 5% of Americans, at any point in time, are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) thanks to trauma. If you look at that number, it’s not fixed. Today you could be fine and then something awful happens and you get to walk through the trauma door and have your go at PTSD – meaning, it’s 5% at any point in time but in fact many more people experience it over a lifetime. I have. 

Trauma

Arresting DeAngelo awoke feelings, memories and questions for all of us.
Trauma
Twitter

Michelle Cruz (Shelly), Debbie Domingo and I are a squad. Survivor Sisters who share this weird window on the Golden State Killer and the horrors he caused. We often share things with each other on Twitter; both publicly and in private. Early this week Shelly tweeted at me publicly with a question. It was so honest and direct. Little did shoe know know this was going to make me think all week long.

How do we cope? As I tumble through all the changes happening in my life right now, I am having to cope. I haven’t really thought about it in that way until Shelly’s question. I think we are all so used to “soldiering on” that we don’t realize we actually need to stop a minute and figure out a game plan for coping. What Shelly didn’t ask – but was maybe thinking – is how the hell are you keeping your shit together when the killer has been caught, a book has been written that’s not making us all that happy, information is dripping out and it’s not answering our real questions and there’s so much pain that’s been re-triggered for all of us?

Add to this unexpected “other things” for all of us – including missed work days for those employed who want to watch the hearings, travel expenses for people who want to come to court and therapy costs for anyone who needs help. There’s also the responsibility of new relationships that maybe didn’t exist before April 25th. Folks, it’s a hot mess.

Personally, I’m finding there’s a lot really good happening, but I am an eternal optimist and that’s my jam: making lemonade out of lemons. And yet, I too have some dark days and feel the weight of the trauma as it drifts in like fog along the shore. Sometimes it’s just a wisp and other times it’s heavy, thick and blocks the light. I suspect I am not alone.

Watching or helping people going through trauma can trigger secondary trauma.

So now the “trying not to be political part” that made this week extra tough. Watching the kids being separated from their families at the border was more than I could handle. When I heard the tape of the kids crying for their parents, I was done. It doesn’t matter if it was real or not, if you’re a parent, you know that sound and it makes you want to rush to the aid of the child. Then tell me they’ve taken babies away from parents and I’m done. It threw me into a funk.

The reason this matters is seeing someone else go through trauma can cause trauma. Take that in. It’s important. I’m going to go out on a limb here and believe 99% of the folks who choose to read this blog, have empathy. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t give a crap about what I write. It’s a trait I see in the “true crime” crowd that makes it one of the most attractive group of humans I’ve ever encountered. I believe it’s because true crime folks have either experienced a traumatic event or love someone who has. There’s a generosity that comes with that empathy that makes space for people being different and allows everyone to “process” in their own way. I don’t experience true crime folks as being judgmental or exclusionary – with one exception. True crime folks fucking hate criminals.

Of course I love that part. But I’m distracted. Let me get back on track. Here’s the point.

People who are touching trauma – survivors, supporters, friends, family – need to make time for self care.

I know self-care sounds like some damn thing we’d say in California while we eat our avocado toast before our hot yoga class (I have not tried yoga, I’ve only tried room-temperature yoga and my body wasn’t having it. I have not yet tried avocado toast – I’ve been way too busy rearranging my chakras!). But it’s not a California exclusive. It’s something care providers and advocates stand behind and it’s important. It’s like what they tell you on the plane: put your mask on first before you help your child. If you pass out first, you can’t help anyone. Goodness knows all we have is each other and we need to be strong.

After this tough week, I needed to do some self care. The first was to take a mini-blog break. I had to step away for just a bit so I could come back. I care so much about my new friends – the survivors – and the community that surrounds us. There is really good information online about self care. Some of these things aren’t hard to do and they can be healing. I’d love to know what you do to take care of yourself. Please leave a comment – or tweet – if you’re willing to share. Here’s my little list adapted to my lame leg and lack of extra money.

Turn off noise. I know I’m extroverted but that only works well when I’m energized. When I’m not, noise depletes me.

Go outside. My preference is moving water but flowers and fresh air will do the trick. Especially if there are good smells.

Smile. Yes, like an idiot. Even if there’s nothing to smile about. I force my face to smile because it has at least seven health benefits. (If Katie, my kid, catches me doing this, she won’t hesitate to tell me I look like an idiot. This triggers a real smile and my work here is done.)

Do something tactile. I mess with my cats. I crochet. I go outside and pull weeds or deadhead my roses and geraniums.

Talk to a friend. Family members can sometimes drag you into places you don’t want to go if you’re not doing well. But if you have the right friends, they can be a boost. Or join us on Twitter. There’s a good group online that always seem to offer encouragement and hope. The best part, if you get a troll, you can block them. It’s oddly satisfying.

Here’s to lifting the fog and healing ourselves and the people we care about. The trauma and feelings will come and go but how we chose to deal with the trauma is something we can control.

Just Got Off the Bus in Times Square

You can’t have her, she’s alllll mine….

A good friend of mine remembers his adolescence amazingly well.

As I described to him the changes going on with my 14 year old daughter, a freshman in high school, he said, “It’s like she just got off the bus in the middle of Times Square. She is so overwhelmed having to adapt to these new surroundings – learning the language, how to dress, what music to listen to, where to go, how to be, noticing what the older kids are doing – her brain is over flowing.”

His recollection and description truly helped me. Before he explained this to me, I really couldn’t grasp how she could sit down to eat and keep forgetting to get a fork. Seriously – she’s been eating since – well forever! The fork is now a hard thing to remember? Yes, he helped me understand. But it doesn’t change the fact that I feel like Jekyll and Hyde living in two very opposite emotional states of mind.

I want to shoot her.

She has been brain dead at home. Worst grades ever. No ability to string two thoughts together. If I ask, “What’s your plan?” she looks at me like I am speaking French – no wait, something far less interesting – like I am speaking whale. Or like those teachers on Charlie Brown.

“Mom, I want to live in the moment,” she says clarifying as she heads back to her bathroom to make yet another cosmetic adjustment. Fifty-year-olds don’t spend this much time on their faces. My god.

“That’s fine honey when they are all your moments, but in this case, you need me to drive, get food and frankly put my life on hold while you figure things out,” I say while I am often picking up another pair of her shoes (not co-located) or moving her crap off the table an into a single location.

And thus the battle begins. No matter how hard I try to eliminate any challenges, just simple communication seems to be impossible. And she’s explained to me it’s perfectly normal: all her friends hate their parents. Gee, awesome. Let me run right out and get the special yogurt you want.

I am missing the crap out of her. 

My friends theorize since I am a single mom, it’s probably harder for me than most. But I don’t think that’s it. I’ve busy and fairly fulfilled – I’ve been working like crazy and I am blessed to have a fantastic, diverse group of friends.

No, I think it’s because she and I actually got along really well and liked each other’s company. I always counted my blessings I got a kid that liked to do what I liked to do (wasn’t the case with me and my mom – she was an orange and I was an apple…well, actually she was more of a banana). I miss the time I would spend with her getting into mischief – even if her friends were along for the ride.

Just keep swimming.

So here we are.I’m 90% sure I haven’t changed on iota since September 1st. Yet little miss NYC is caught in the swirl of emerging adulthood and is fifty shades of different: excited and overwhelmed in the middle of Times Square. Please tell me I’m not just a pigeon on the sidewalk trying to avoid all those feet.

This too shall pass. Right?

Wow – Just Changed the Blog Title to “It’s High School”

First day and last day of middle school. Damn.

Hard to believe the time has come.

Middle school graduation was last week – I can’t believe how much this kid changed in one year. Who knew eighth grade would mark such significant developments. For a kid who really had one friend in middle school, she ended with a posse! In fact, her great milestone, a zillion signatures in her yearbook – compared to last year which only had signatures on one page.

Katie considers this to be her greatest 8th grade achievement. I can’t say she’s wrong. She did great academically but thankfully that’s never been that hard for her. But making new friends, that’s proven to be much more of a challenge. She likes kids who are savvy and interesting and willing to try new things. She’s not interested in stoners or followers or people who have no imagination.
She’s off and running and I find that I am the one left facing a bit of “development.”

When I brought Katie home from the hospital, swear to God, the very first week, I cried like a fool telling everyone that she was going to leave me and go to college. I’ll be damned, I was right! But the leaving is starting now. All this time I wanted her to have friends but I didn’t realize that meant I would be back on my own again.

Oh sure, I see her sometimes, but even as I write this she’s in her room, on the phone or texting. She has been out all day on a bike ride (and an early dinner – what 13 year old says that? “Hey mom, we are heading out for an ‘early dinner’ on the wharf!”). I have been home working and then cooked (well, burned) myself dinner and dove into a Stephen King book (Under the Dome – why did I think I could read 1074 pages before the series starts this week?).

Anyway, this early empty nest thing isn’t going so well for me. I am truly having a hard time. I know I’m in the final countdown. Four years of high school is going to fly by. I’m clear. It’s time I get back to having a life, doing things with my friends, maybe watch a movie. The feeling is so uncomfortable and lonely. I miss that wonderful pre-teen who used to hang out with me.

But I’m proud of her too. This is what’s she’s supposed to be doing right? Growing up. Being independent. Taking responsibility for her own life.

So we begin. The last four years. This is high school.

Middle School is Almost Over – We Made It Through the Wilderness

First Day of Middle School
I’m so lucky. I have a fairly uncomplicated kid. 
 
Now that middle school is finally coming to an end, I realized what we really went through in the last three years. For anyone just starting out: hang in there – what comes out on the other end is totally worth it.

From Home School Back to Public School

When Katie started sixth grade, fresh out of home school, she didn’t really have any friends. She bravely sat through first lunch week after week, alone. After awhile it did get to her. She admitted it was hard. Eventually, she finally met a friend and while it wasn’t perfect, it was good. Her friend was smart and shared interests and finally there was someone for Katie to hang with at lunch.Fast-forward to the spring semester of eighth grade and Katie is now on fire. That one friend got her through the winter of this year and then finally, like a curtain raised, all the girls who I would say aren’t the “popular ones”; the girls that are more introverted finally found each other.
 
Katie has a “posse”!
The kids are good kids and they have all emerged from the middle school dessert as new people. They readily admit they feel different. More ready to take on the world. To hangout and try new things. It’s clear Katie’s natural leadership qualities has been the fuel to get these kids together, but they also had to be ready. And they are!

The big ice-breaker was a girl/boy bonfire at our house. At first they only wanted to plan it for two hours because everyone said they needed to get home. I quietly (ahem, I’m sure I was quiet about it), I quietly jumped in and suggested to Katie that really what was behind this rather crazy time constraint was social anxiety. She admitted I may have had a point.

The get together started at 6pm at our house. A few people were late, there was much texting and then the pizzas arrived. I went and hid in my bedroom and let the good times roll. With no effort they found their rhythm and had a great time. As it neared 11pm and I had to tell them it was time to go home and they were so sad! But I was relieved. These kids had no problems. They were awesome (they even left the house clean). 

There’s hope!

So what I am saying is if you are living the middle school years, there’s hope. Don’t freak. The boys are complete idiots in sixth grade (I was assured by a teacher friend, this is expected) and they are just now getting it together. It absolutely correlates to testosterone. The late bloomers are still struggling. The girls are either incredibly socially competent as they enter sixth grade or they go into a kind of torpor that they will come out of as the days get longer in eighth grade. At least that’s what I observed.
 
I’d love to hear your experiences. It’s sad enough to remember our own middle school years – I was not popular but played consigliere to the popular girls. So much drama. Now it’s our turn to watch. What are you seeing? 

 

A night of fun with the bonfire.
Shopping with the posse.