Dyslexia Destroys

It is national Dyslexia awareness month. I would be doing a disservice to all my fellow dyslexia friends and followers if I kept my story to myself. I would not be a true advocate for change if I did not share the signs and symptoms my teachers should have realized in elementary school. I will not be using my story for good if I don’t share how dyslexia completely destroyed how I thought of myself.

In my own definition of dyslexia, it is when the brain is wired a little different therefore making tasks such as reading, writing, spelling and math harder to learn and remember.

Growing up I went to one of the poorest elementary schools in the state of Georgia. I remember there being so many discipline problems that made it hard for the teachers to teach. In elementary school I never brought home straight 100’s like my older brother did. Most of the time I would not fully understand what was being taught to me until I was taught in school, went home to struggle through the homework, then going over the homework assignment the next day in school. My teachers seemed to love giving crossword puzzles as extra credit and I would try so hard to finish them but they would give me anxiety before I know what anxiety was. Most of the time I had my mom finish them for me because she was good at them.

I would bring home spelling words and it would take me twice as long to get through them all without messing up. I would sit on my dad’s lap at our dining room table and go word for word. As I got a word wrong he would raise his voice asking if I was trying to be funny when I was really trying my best. This also happened with reading at an early age. I would read slow, couldn’t figure out how to pronounce words correctly. Writing was no better. Words would be spelled wrong and I had no idea what the difference from a noun, subject, adjective or a verb therefore putting together a proper sentence was rough.

Math class was no different. I could not do math quick enough in my head so I would always just count up or down on my fingers. Never being able to stick basic addition, subtracting or multiplication to memory. All of these small daily struggles caused me to think that I was stupid. Because I knew I needed extra help I naturally became the teacher’s pet trying to help the teachers out more so that if I needed help I didn’t feel bad asking.

Middle school was no better. I remember almost every year my friends were placed in the gifted classes but I was in ‘regular’ classes because of my test scores. I hated middle school so much that I asked to be homeschooled my 8th grade year. Middle school made me feel so stupid and like I was never going to be able to stay up to date with the lessons. The long tests that were given made my palms sweaty. I remember my teachers double checking my test handbook and my scantron because they knew it was so common for me to write the correct answer in my test booklet but fill in the wrong bubbles. (Also, pretty sure this was illegal!)

High School was the first time I ever recall hearing the word dyslexic. After struggling through three years of high school. My senior english teacher handed back a hand written, timed essay and told me see him after class. I looked at the paper. I failed and there was his red hand writing all over the paper. When I stayed after he asked me if I was dyslexic. I asked him why he thought that and what is was. He told me that I failed the paper because of horrible spelling, sentence structure and flipping letters around.

I went home and talked to my parents and told the teacher that I would like to be tested for whatever dyslexia was. After we looked into it, we found out that the school system would have tested me for free before the 5th grade. Since I was in highschool it would have cost my family about $2,000. At that time I did not want to go to college and my only goal was to get through my senior year.

A few months after the teacher telling me about dyslexia I was at a 4-H event and it came up again. I was on a leadership board and we were last minute putting together a presentation. I got handed a poem to read in front of the 75+ people crowded. I had to sight read it right there in front of my leadership team the the guy in charge before doing it in real time in front of the crowd. I could barely make it through the first line of the poem when he took the paper from my hands and looked me in the eyes and asked me if I was dyslexic. He could clearly see the worry in my eyes about reading in front of others. The pit of my stomach dropped as I heard the word ‘dyslexic’ again. He quickly gave me the task of leading everyone in the pledge of allegiance instead of reading a poem. Hearing the guy beside me sight read the poem perfectly made me destroy myself worth a little more that it already was. All I could think was how stupid I was and unable to do basic task.

All of these little signs that could have been caught made me feel dumb. These feelings made me feel as if I was not going to be able to go to college because I could not even do great in high school classes. I thought I was never going to be successful at anything because my reading level was still on a low grades scale. I thought that I was never going to be able to make money because I could not do math past a third grade level. I constantly compare myself to others who were learning quickly and easily. I felt like a burden to my parents who were trying to help and my teachers who were working hard. For so many years I felt so dumb. Dyslexia destroyed the way that I thought of myself. Dyslexia destroyed my ability to dream about the future. Dyslexia made me question my self worth. Dyslexia made me feel like an outsider. Dyslexia destroyed me from fully embracing who I was for the first 20 years of my life.

I share this story to bring awareness to dyslexia. I share this story to help educate you to know what signs to recognize dyslexia in your loved ones. You can be the change to help someone understand how their brain works before letting it destroy how they think of themselves and their own ability.

Luckily this is not the end of my story. Stay tuned!

Love, your dyslexic local blogger Colleen Howard.

 

Interview Surprise

   

We were on the road from Valdosta to Savannah, GA. It was the night before Adams big interview for Mercer University School of Medicine. As we drove I tried taking his mind off of the big day. We cruised listening to podcast and jammed to Kacey Musgraves. I had warned him that I had a little surprise to give him before the interview. If you know anything about Adam, he loves gifts. The sun was setting and he asked for the surprise to be given to him. I reached in the back seat and handed him a box full of notes.

He started opening one note at a time and realized that they were letters from our family and friends. These were letters of nothing but love, excitement and support. I had reached out to all of these people a week prior and was blown away at the amount of notes that were collected.

Once Adam got through reading each note he looked up at me and said, “Wow, I’m about to cry. This really is amazing! It’s great to be reminded that I have such a great support system.” He loved them so much he asked for them all back to read through them again.

I couldn’t agree more! We have so many people that have prayed, encouraged and supported us each step of the way. Below you can see the encouraging messages that were given to Adam the night before or day of the MUSM interview.

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MUSM Interview Day

Today is the day! Adam will be interviewing in Savannah GA, to get accepted into Mercer University School of Medicine. He has prepared, practiced and prayed for this day to come. Even after being rescheduled from hurricane Dorian, nothing can stop this day from happening. Even though it has been a busy week for me and Adam, nothing can steal the joy away from this amazing day.

As Adam has his first ever medical school interview today (September 19th, 2019), we are calling our prayer warriors to action! Please cover Adam in prayer as often as possible as you go throughout your day.

Please pray specifically for Adam to be the man that God has built him to be. That he has confidence and peace that only comes from our Heavenly father. Lastly, pray that God’s will be done in Adam’s life. That God opens the opportunity that He has for Adam to pursue.

Your thoughts and prayers in this season of our life mean the world to us! Thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for going on this journey with us. Please feel free to send this post to your prayer warriors, friends and loved ones who understand the power in prayer!

Thank you so much! From your favorite millennial couple who are busy chasing down their dreams.

Top 5 Lessons I Learned in my 23rd Year of Life

I have been 24 years old for one full month! Before 11 more months pass me by, I wanted to take a second and put on paper my biggest takeaways from my time as a 23-year-old!

  1. My sphere of influence is a gift from God to spread His love.

I used to think that a full time, after college job was just to pay the bills. When that was my mindset, work was unexciting and dreadful. Once I was able to wrap my mind around the fact that I don’t have to be employed at Christian camp to spread God’s love I looked at work a different way. The many opportunities that I get to share love with co-workers, clients and networkers is exactly where God wants me to be!

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  1. It doesn’t matter how my husband folds the towels.

This invaluable lesson came from a Christy Wright podcast and really has changed my life and helped my marriage. See, I am recovering from Home Control Disease (HCD) which is exactly what you think it is! Adam use to try to help do things and I would either 1. Nag him to do it the ‘right’ way or 2. Go behind him and ‘fix’ it. If you do this, we need to talk about HCD.

The slap in the face I learned was that there is no wrong or right way to fold towels. Yes, there is ‘his way’ and ‘my way’, but there was and will never be such a thing as the ‘correct way’. If the goal is to simply get the towels folded and put into their desired location, why in the world was I stressing out about making sure they were folded ‘my way’?  Why was the need to do every little task ‘correct’ taking up so much of my brain space?

I decided to put an end to my HCD. Even though it has still been hard! I let my husband help around the house, he does about 50% of the housework and I let him accomplish the tasks however he sees fit!

 

  1. Self-care is NOT selfish

I have to take care of my own health and wellbeing. I do not have to wait for a medical professional to prescribe me something. I used to think that if I was going to get better, I would need an medical professional to help. Once I found out my doctor was booked three months out, I knew I was going to have to find other resources to take better care of my health! I spent much of my 23rd year of life reading books, listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos from very educated and accomplished Doctors, motivational speakers and specialist! At the touch of my fingers I had more than enough knowledge to find what I was looking for.

With this increase of knowledge, I started making my yoga practice important again. At first, I didn’t want to spend money on each class. Then my next excuses were that I should be doing stuff for work or Adam. I finally laid down the lies and starting the metal process of knowing that taking care of myself, one yoga class at a time, will make me the best Colleen to better influence those around me!

 

  1. Write out every dream I want to accomplish in my life

I read a book that talked about a “100 List.” This list is simply a collection of a person’s top dreams they desire to accomplish in life. I was fascinated! So I typed my “100 List” up but only got to about 70 goals. With my list typed, printed and posted in my office, I didn’t think much of it. Then came a desire to take a random trip for fourth of July! We googled the cheapest flights from Atlanta on the 4th. Low and behold, the cheapest flights we found were to Philadelphia! When just a few weeks before this trip, #24 on my 100 list was to get a picture with the Liberty Bell. I wrote it down as a goal, with no plans of making it happen any time soon, and the dream quickly came to life.

Another one of my ‘100 List’ was listed at #5 to get baptized in the Jordan river and to walk where Jesus walked. Just a few weeks after jotting down a draft of my “100 List” I got a message from a church I did camp at that they were taking a trip to Israel and he remembered to let me know! I wrote down the desires God has placed on my heart, and He started opening doors right away.

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  1. Each meal matters

I simply learned that if I want to feel my best, I must eat food that will make me feel good! Thanks to Everlywell (learn more about it in my blog 10 Things That Changed Me In 2018) I was able to learn what my body was sensitive too. This helped me have better knowledge of what makes me feel bad and what makes me feel good. Once I gained this knowledge it was simply about having the discipline to put things into my mouth that would help or hurt me. My 23rd year of life was when I fully gained understanding that the food that goes in through my mouth and comes out of my rear, can either make me feel good or bad during the “in-between the holes” processing machine. And that I am THE ONLY one who controls what goes into my body.

 

Here is to rocking and rolling as 24!

-Colleen Howard

 

 

Interview Prep

The email came! The email that Adam had waited over a year to come was sitting in his inbox. He called me to tell me the email arrived with such joy and excitement in his voice. Adam had applied early decision to Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) and knew he had pretty good chances of landing an interview. Applying early decision means that all of your eggs are in that school’s basket! The doctor that Adam has worked with for many years graduated from MUSM and we have heard great things about the program. When it was coming time for Adam to narrow down his list of prospective schools to apply for, Mercer just kept coming to the top of the list.

He applied and then just a few days later he started prepping for the interview. The first step was to pick a date for the interview and a location. Mercer has two medical school campuses, one in Macon and Savannah, Georgia. Adam has decided that he would love to live in Savannah so he thought that the Savannah campus would be a good place to tour and check out. He set the interview and then he was ready to start preparing.

The second step in this process was to make sure he looked good! To be as professional as possible Adam decided to shave the beard. This was not everyone’s favorite part of the process because he looks totally different and Adam is just a beard guy! But we all agreed that it is the highest form of professionalism to be cleanly shaven. With the beard gone it was time to make sure the suit fit well.

Adams white shirt that he got from being a groomsman in a friend’s wedding and wore in our wedding was a little too small. His suit fit but he wasn’t super confident with the color for a professional interview. This led us to hitting up Joseph A. Bank just to shop around! The first suit he tried on he loved. I could just see his confidence sore in the perfectly fitted navy blue suit. We were not set on buying it because he had one at home and it was a big expense, but of course it was buy one get one free. We went in just to look around and we came out with two suits that had a price tag that was equivalent to my wedding dress. With the suit investment we added in a nice white button down from TJ Max and a sharp, school-colored tie from the clearance rack at Belk.

The third step was the interview prep! I enjoyed watching Adam go over interview questions with a friend in Valdosta and a recent grad from the Mercer medical school. He would jot down drafts of ways he would answer questions and run them by me. He practices tons of possibilities but really focused on just being himself for the interview!

Adam was ready. Date set, clothes perfect and confidence ready to rock it! The week of the scheduled interview was when the weather channel announced that hurricane Dorian was turning to head up the Georgia coast. We didn’t know what that would mean for his interview that was just a few days away, but we had a gut feeling. The next day when we heard that Georgia Governor Kemp released an emergency evacuation there was no way the interview would be happening the same day as originally scheduled. Then we quickly got an email confirming that all Mercer interviews at the Savannah campus have been canceled and will be rescheduled for September 19th.

The good news is that Adam got an interview, is practiced, confident and well-dressed to rock and roll the interview!

Please keep Adam in your prayers for September 19th!

Love, your favorite millennial couple, The Howards

 

MCAT Round Two

July 19th, we woke up early! Well, not that early for me since I am a natural early riser but really early for Adam. On this specific day he had no trouble popping out of bed. After several weeks of Adam studying mornings and nights while working full time, it was the day he was going to take the MCAT. This was his second time taking this test and he wanted it to be his very last time ever thinking about it! We hopped in our Toyota Corolla named “Curby” and hit the road to Tallahassee, FL for an 8:00AM test time.

The MCAT is a seven-hour long test where all electronic devices must be locked up the whole time. The only breaks given are a 30-minute lunch break and two 15-minute breaks between sections. All I can say is that I am very thankful that I did not have to take this test! But Adam took it like a champ.

We had planned it all out. I would go with Adam so that he would not have to drive first thing in the morning. Since I am the avid morning person, I wanted to be able to serve Adam in that way. It also allowed me to drive us home after the test when his brain was mush. He came out of the test, seven hours later, pretty confident and ready to get home to relax.

August 20, 2019 was the date that the MCAT scores would be released. That is the day where Adam would know if his score improved from the 2018 test and if it was going to give him a better chance at getting into a medical school program in the 2019-2020 application process. I woke up early and logged into him MCAT portal to see if I could wake him up with the news of his scores. Unfortunately, they were not posted yet and I went on with my busy planned out day!

Adam called me a little after 11:00AM and told me that his scores were just posted, and he increased his overall MCAT score by 15 percentiles! My lunch plans had recently canceled so I was able to take my smart man out to lunch. (Our men need to be treated to dates too!) We celebrated, Adam relaxed for the day and we both knew that this was the first step into a long process of applying for medical school. (Check out our blog The Process of Medical School)

Thank you to everyone who prayed for Adam as he prepared and tested for the MCAT! Each prayer is so very appreciated. Thank you!

Love your favorite millennial couple, The Howards

My Parents Prayer For Adam as He Pursues His Dreams

Prayer for Adam Howard & Med School

Dear Heavenly Father,

You are the great Physician Healer. In your role as The Great Healer please bless Adam in his pursuit to become a healer like You. You made Adam in your image.

Father bless him with test scores good enough to be admitted to med school.

Bless him with direction and wisdom in choosing and being accepted to med school.

Bless him with knowledge and discipline to choose a field of study that would be good for him and allow him to use his skills to be able to glorify You.

Bless Adam to be a healer like You so he can deal with and heal his patients in body, mind, and soul and be able to draw his patients toward You, Father.

I ask for these blessings to be in the mighty name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.