Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving One and All!

Thanksgiving in elementary schools is a huge deal. We spend most of the month of November doing fun activities with kids talking about what they are thankful for. This year as a student teacher I am getting to be a part of all of that fun with my class. I am in 4th grade and love seeing my students work during this time. Children are so honest about things. As we grow older we become afraid of being vulnerable to our peers. This is not a problem for my students.

The things I have seen make me think about all of the many things that I often forget to be thankful for. Even things as simple as love. I am thankful to be loved by my friends, family, and husband. I saw a student put this down and realized that without the love I recieve my life would feel pretty empty. Yet, if you were to ask me what I was thankful for before I do not think that would be what I would say.

At the end of the day love is everything to us. Sometimes the hardest things for adults to identify can be the simplest for children. I see that on a day-to-day basis when I am in the classroom. This Thanksgiving what I am thankful for the most is love. Yes, I stole this from a fourth grader, but it truly is one of the greatest things anyone can get in life.

Without the love of my family and friends in highschool I do not know how I would have made it when I was first diagnosed with epilepsy. They loved me and helped me through some of the hardest times in my life. Love is more than just that butterfly feeling we associate with a relationship. It is when you support someone spiritually, mentally, and emotionally through thick and thin. Sure, love is felt in relationships with our significant other but love is felt between good friends and family as well.

The love my husband has for me is something I am thankful for. We met in highschool and he has supported me through some of the hardest times in my life. He has been there for me when I was having seizures and unable to do things and every day was a battle. He has also been a support system for me in every venture in life though. The love I receive from him on a day-to-day basis can sometimes be what keeps me going.

This Thanksgiving I am breaking down the walls and being vulnerable. Love is what I am thankful for. It makes life better everyday and sometimes I fear I do not let the people who give me this unconditional love enough thanks. I hope that this helps you see beyond any negative things in your life and see the great things you might be blessed with. Make sure you don’t hide it and you are brave enough to be vulnerable and honest. Make sure whatever you choose to be thankful for is truly something to celebrate. Look deep within and find what picks you up at your lowest moments and cheers you on at your greatest!
- Abigail

This is the time of year where families gather to give thanks and blessings over a carbohydrate-heavy meal. This year, try to reflect on your epilepsy diagnosis. How has your life been affected? Where has your diagnosis led you?

Since being diagnosed, I have become involved with many amazing programs developed by the Epilepsy Foundation and affiliate youth councils. I've met wonderful people living with epilepsy from California, Florida, Missouri, and Nevada who strive to live life to the fullest. Most importantly, I have learned from these young advocates who share the same passion for epilepsy awareness as myself and in return have made many lifelong friendships.

So, step into those sweatpants, sit back, enjoy your turkey and pumpkin pie and think about what you are thankful for this year. I'm thankful for my loved ones, my dog, my friends, my health (13 years seizure free!), and Whole Grain Cheez-it's. Happy Turkey Day everyone!
- Emily

Just finished up the final bit of cooking for dinner tonight, and I am thrilled to be sitting down to a simple meal with my family tonight. It makes me mindful of the abundances of blessings in my life. Most of all, I am simply grateful today for the wonderful people in my life. The year has been filled with ups and downs; however, the continuous encouragement and love from everyone around me moves me forward everyday. Sometimes its just the smiles and other days its just hanging out in kitchens shooting the breeze about life, but whatever form love takes, its immense and real.

Forget about the shopping and the sales today, because they will see be here tomorrow. Just sit back tonight smile and see all the wonderful people, talents, and memories you have made, since last Thanksgiving. I hope this coming year is filled with kindness, opportunity, and adventure!
- Maureen

On November 22nd, 2008 I had a tonic-clonic seizure in my dorm room. My roommates talked to my parents on the phone while it was happening, and my parents talked them through appropriate first-aid. When I woke up and felt sick they walked me to the ER down the block and stayed with me until I was ready to go. That was five years ago, and that was the last time I had a seizure. I am thankful that I had friends who could stay level-headed and help me through that night. I am thankful that my parents could support me and my friends from halfway across the country. And I am grateful that that was five years ago. I hope that that will be my last seizure. It could be wishful thinking, but it isn't hopeless thinking. I am thankful that after being seizure-free for five years, I have hope for a life without any more seizures. That hope isn't just for me. My seizures are under control, meaning control is possible. Answers are out there. One day, I know that we will all be thankful for the cure.
- Sammi G.

With Thanksgiving approaching I have been reflecting on my life and recognizing how thankful I am for the support system in my life. I have some amazing friends and family who have stuck by my side throughout everything that I have been through in life. When I was diagnosed with Epilepsy I was afraid of being alone. The fear that I had initially was something that should have never crossed my mind, due to my support system. I was diagnosed with Epilepsy during my senior year in high school and college seemed like it would take a century to accomplish. Although I was nervous, I set a goal for myself and I am so excited to say that I will be graduating this May to chase my goal as a special educator. My support system reassured me that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to, regardless of any obstacles or challenges. Looking back on the past couple years I can safely say that they were correct. Although I would not have said this a couple years ago, I can say now that I would not change anything that I have been through. I was truly blessed with an amazing support system and I could not be more thankful for them and where I am today
- Sam D.

Happy Turkey Day from the national youth council! As epilepsy awareness month comes to a close, we are reminded to be thankful for the good health that we do have and to lend a hand to those less fortunate. While many affiliates are finishing up last minute plans for their holiday party/fundraiser, our council has started to formulate plans for the new year. I personally am excited to be able to come home and see my family and friends during winter recess... maybe even get some snowboarding in if its a white Christmas (fingers crossed =P). But I am also super excited for our recent social media reboot, finishing up our peer2peer education program, and getting started on tons of new projects in 2014. This is where we could use your creativity. If there is any particular issue that YOU feel needs addressed in regard to youth with epilepsy then please feel free to let us know as we are looking for more ideas. For any problem/idea you've been contemplating let us know by tweeting @EpilepsyYC or messaging our Facebook at "Youth in Epilepsy". We'll put on our thinking caps and certainly do our best to cover the most prominent issues mentioned. Until then, enjoy your holidays!
- Steve