Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Children Learn What They Live - The Short Version Of My Life Story

I've been thinking about my life as a whole a lot lately...and when this happens, I tend to get a little deep.  So grab your scuba gear and Let's go "Deep-Cassie Diving".  :)

Being a parent, I have learned that we have a huge responsibility to be a good role model for our children and I'm determined to take on that role and make it a positive one.
I wasn't a perfect child growing up.  I did things that I regret to this day.  As a teen I hung out with the "bad kids" and learned how to be bad.  I skipped school.  I experimented with drugs and drinking.  I even vandalized recreational property.  None of this I'm proud of but I know that it's all part of life and learning lessons.  I just hope my children will stand up for themselves and what they know is right and don't give into peer pressure...unlike I did.

I was a happy-go-lucky kid who loved my family, my friends and LOVED to dance (and still do).  I took tap, jazz and ballet and loved every minute of it!  I loved performing!  I loved crafts and being in girl scouts.  I loved my life with my family 5 blocks from the beach.  After my parents divorced when I was 8, my brother (who was 5 at the time) and I began to struggle not having our whole family under the same roof.  Summer of 1994 (age 12), my mom, my brother and I moved here to Pennsylvania from California.  My brother and I only knew each other and had no friends.  I was heading into 6th grade, which here is middle school.  The first day of school came around and I was excited to learn but was shy and nervous to meet new peers, angry that I had to leave all my other friends in California and sad because I wanted my family back.  I wished and hoped and prayed that my life would magically go back to the way things were when I was younger.  I guess you could say I lived in a fantasy land for a long time.  I know now that my parents weren't meant to be together as they have too many differences and aren't compatible, but to this day they are friends and still consider each other family.
Anyway, I slowly began to make friends, some of which I still talk to today, but I also made some enemies too.  I was picked on and made fun of by bullies and my self confidence ceased to exist.  It seemed as though I was physically ahead and academically behind everyone in my class.

So in order to fit in and feel wanted, I started hanging out with a new group of friends.  Ones that had more of a negative influence on me than anything.  Ones that taught me that it was cool to be bad.  That's when the "experimenting" began.  By age 13, I had my first cigarette.  By age 14 I had my first alcoholic drink.  By age 15 I was smoking weed, sneaking out of the house late at night and got caught stealing from a shopping mall (luckily I was only banned from the store and not arrested).

By the time I graduated at age 18, I wanted to leave my bad and negative past behind me and attend college.  I went to live with my dad in New Jersey and began falling into another negative scene.  I was still smoking cigarettes and weed and my confidence was still low.  I just wanted to get on a path where I felt I belonged and work towards my goal of getting a college degree in elementary education.  This didn't happen.  I still allowed myself to be negatively influenced by family and friends and decided that New Jersey wasn't the place for me.  At age 19 I moved back to Pennsylvania to live with my Grandma and tried to find a job.  Got involved with the wrong people again since all my friends were away at college and starting their lives.  I felt so lost.  At age 20 my aunt and uncle who also live in New Jersey, suggested that I come live with them to get a job and attend a community college there that had a great marine biology program.  So I moved in with them and in less than a year we had a falling out so I moved back to Pennsylvania to live with my mom again.  I moved 4 times in 2 years.

January 2004 I got a job with a large company called First Data.  By age 21 I quit smoking, stopped doing drugs and only drank on occasion.  Although I still lived with my mom, I bought my first new car and finally felt like I was headed on the right path with my head held a little higher.  I met my husband at age 23, we got married at age 27, had our daughter at age 28 and the rest is history.  I truly feel that meeting my husband was the best thing that's ever happened to me.  He has reassured me that the life I used to lead was not the life for me.  He's taught me how to appreciate everything I have in life and has totally changed my outlook.  It may be partially because his dad was a preacher and being a part of their family has given me the relationship with God that I believe I've always needed.  I thank God for Justin everyday.

My goals now are to still attend college, although with a baby it's a huge sacrifice to spend time away from my family to go to school, but I am determined to accomplish my personal goal of obtaining a college degree.  Even an Associates will do!  I would like to also lose the rest of my "baby weight" and get into shape so I don't struggle to lift my growing daughter and can run around with my future children.

I hope I didn't scare you away.  The person I was in my teen years is not the person I am today.  In closing, I would like to share one of my favorite poems with you.  I have it hanging in my hallway and it's something I think about when I hear of kids acting out, using drugs, drinking, gambling and trying to cheat, steal and lie their way through life.

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

What do you think about this poem?  Do you agree with all, some or none of what Dorothy writes?


  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Cassie! We've all done things that we're not proud of, but we do learn from them and hope to god that our children don't repeat them (isn't that life's irony?).

    I think I've read something similar to that poem but in Chinese (on FB). That poem is the reason why parents have such a huge responsibility. To cover all that, and do it well. I guess we learn from our mistakes to teach our kids right. Or so we hope? Great post!

    1. Thank you, Sandra. Yes, I couldn't agree more! I think about everything I do and how it will or would eventually effect my kids. Better decisions make for a better life all around. Thanks for reading...I think sometimes I can go off the deep end and just babble...but I guess that's not always a bad thing :)


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