No decision is permanent, and quitting isn’t a failure

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When I started to despise going to work on Monday mornings, I knew I needed to make a change. As a teacher, I didn’t hate the interactions with students or even the planning lessons for them. I hated the bureaucratic system I’d become complicit in upholding.

This system promised to welcome all students in, treat them fairly, and teach them all they needed to become productive adults. Then, students walked in, and adults rained shaming words on their little heads, opted out of the hard work, and then blamed the children for their lack of progress.

I wanted to be…

Shame damages female potential, it’s time to get rid of it

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“Mama, I love your stripes. Where did you get them?” My three-year-old daughter traces my stretch marks with her tiny finger during our yoga session.

“They showed up when my belly stretched to hold a baby.”

“Oh, I can’t wait to have mama stripes too! But, I will not have a husband. I want to take care of my babies all by myself,” Tiny Human is emphatic.

I used to hate my stretch marks. They are the worst I’ve seen on any woman. They travel from above my navel down to mid-thigh, turning my abdomen into a tiger’s flank. …

Lila has a plan to make her boyfriend pay, but sometimes plans change

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She made it onto the train just as the doors whooshed shut. Ben nearly made her late again, insisting that she stay and finish the fight. That was the last time he’d block the door so she couldn’t leave the apartment. There wasn’t anything there she wanted anyway, anything that was valuable she kept in the bag sitting next to her so that he wouldn’t pawn it while she was at work. She just wouldn’t go back. She had friends she could stay with.

Lila moved down the aisle, her bag bumping each red and white striped seat on her…

But affording alternative therapies is a barrier to most

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Early-season snowfall covered my windshield as I sat in my decade-old minivan, the motor humming loudly. I needed to drive home, but tears clouded my vision, combining with the large, wet flakes splattering against the glass to distort the world. So, I sat, my hands over my heart, not wiping the tears away.

That’s the difference between tears of gratitude and those of despair. Gratitude tears flow slowly, tickling your cheeks and filling your heart to near-bursting. Tears of despair are forced from your body by throat-clenching sobs. As they pour down, you pinch your eyes closed and wipe them…

I stopped wearing busy like a badge of honor, and I’m never going back.

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“How are you?” my coworker asks, walking into the basement closet that serves as an office for a meeting.

“Oh, ugh,” I look up from my computer, “I’m so busy.”

“Me too,” she launches into an explanation of all the ways her time is soaked up.

I respond with more of the same.

Working endless hours at a job I don’t like.

Sporting events that drain our finances and that my kids are lukewarm about.

PTA meetings when I’d rather just cut them a check.

Writing lesson plans the principal collects and never looks at.

Cooking homemade meals six days…

Our children learn from us so I need to be careful what story I’m telling

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Tiny Human’s feet — translucent skin, blue veins, little toes — splash in the water as we shower, “Mama, when I grow up, do I have to shave my legs too?” her eyes follow the razor over the curve of my shin.

I pause, mid-stroke, shifting my gaze, so my eyes meet her matching ones, “No, my little. You can, if you want to, but you don’t have to,” the water rains down on us, slightly too cool for me, but just right for her sensitive skin.

When we’re dry and wrapped in towels, I show her pictures of women…

Defense mechanism, competition, or self-hate… maybe all three

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“Kelly said you’ve been acting different.” My mom was concerned. She noticed changes in me, too, and wasn’t sure whether to chalk it up to adolescent angst or more than that.

“I don’t know. I just don’t think I get along with girls very well,” I started practicing this excuse at 13, and by the time I reached adulthood, it was deeply ingrained as part of my identity.

I started distancing myself from my female friends around the same time I learned I was bisexual. I kept women at arm's length because I was afraid that if I let them…

Our schools need to do better with victims of trauma

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I sat in the principal’s office going over some reports that detailed how students in the school rated in the achievement of some arbitrary reading goal set by people who don’t work with children the walkie-talkie crackled.

“John, flipped over a desk again,” his teacher’s annoyance was palpable.

“I’ll get him,” The school social worker rolled her eyes as she stood.

A few moments later she returned, her hand wrapped around the wrist of boy with owl eyes.

“Sit in the corner, right there,” she pointed a shellacked talon at the tile floor.

The boy complied, knees pulled up to…

But not advocating for your need does

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“Can I have a kiss?” I stood on my tiptoes, still unable to reach his mouth.

“No, not right now,” his hand rests against my chest, gentle pressure, overwhelming pressure.

“Why not?” I cocked my head to one side, the curl that bounces in the center of my forehead covering my left eye.

“I don’t want you to get used to it and think you can have it whenever you want.”

“What? Are you serious?”

“Yeah, besides, you shouldn’t need so much attention.” This time his hand wasn’t so gentle as he pushed me to the side.

Did he think…

And it hurt my family, but, it’s not too late to fix that

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I struggled upstairs from my office with my mind swirling with the next steps of my day. I needed to go to my doctor’s appointment, make dinner, pack the kids’ lunches for the next day, help my son with his homework. Was tonight a bath night for the kids? God, my legs hurt. This auto-immune flare wasn’t stopping. All I want to do is lay down with an ice pack and rest.

I rounded the corner into our living room and froze, the anxiety train turning immediately to rage—dolls, blocks, and magic wands from the night before lay strewn across…

Maria Chapman

Writer | Coach | Educator | Social Change | Mental Health

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