Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for May, 2012

P is for Progress

P is for PROGRESS

P is for PROGRESS

Progress is defined as: “1. movement forwards, especially towards a place or objective 2. satisfactory development, growth, or advance…” – Dictionary.com

“Progress not Perfection” is one of my favorite Al-Anon slogans, and has become one of my personal mantras. It reminds me that life does not have to be perfect but it simply needs to progress and grow. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and do all the “right” things, but the world will not end if we are simply human. Instead of stressing ourselves out, trying to achieve perfection, we need to relax and enjoy our lives. Everyone makes mistakes, and that is okay. Sometimes we have the best experiences as a result of a perceived mistake. As we strive to embrace all the possibilities of our journey, this quote always makes me smile: “A mistake a day keeps my perfectionism at bay.” – Hope for Today

Once we let go of the idea of being perfect, life just becomes simpler and more enjoyable. As parents we want everything to be perfect for our children. We want our children to be well-mannered geniuses who amaze everyone they meet. There is so much pressure to have the “perfect” family that it is easy to forget that perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be. Our family is far from perfect, we are a “work in progress” and I would not have it any other way. Sometimes we take two steps forward and three steps backward. We usually have to try several approaches to a situation before we find the right one for us. Most of the time what works for us seems like pure craziness to everyone else. We have no problem with “crazy” around here, because “normal” is just so boring. Life is Life, there is no manual, there is no black and white, there simply “is” and what we make of it. So why not make it Fun and Au-Some? We take what we need from each experience and use it as a lesson learned for future endeavors. This is the way we attempt to view life, and this is the way we should teach our children to view life. Let them know that they simply need to be themselves, learn, grow and shine in their own special way. Let us not burden our children with the notion of perfection, but empower them with the concept of progress. In the words of Mark Victor Hansen: “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”

Progress “Our Way” is defined as: “Spiritual, Emotional and Intellectual growth as a result of living without preconceived notions, and therefore learning from all our experiences.”
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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

O is for Optimism

O is for OPTIMISM

O is for OPTIMISM.

Optimism is defined as: “1. the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things 2. hopefulness; confidence 3. the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil 4. the philosophical doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds” – Dictionary.com

Optimism is one of my biggest struggles. It is very easy for me to “go to the bad place” and be negative whenever something goes awry in life. Staying optimistic is a daily battle, but it is one that is well worth the fight. Every time I overcome my negative thoughts and tendencies, I am one baby step closer to the serenity I seek. If you overcome the pessimism enough times, the optimism will soon become a natural reaction and the negativity will fall by the wayside. The majority of situations in life are neither bad nor good, they just are; it is our reaction to the situation that marks it one way or the other in our mind.  So why not make it a positive one, and learn from it?

When your children have special needs, life is filled with ups and downs. Our children can be thriving one minute and failing the next. There are good days and bad days; sometimes it not even a full day, sometimes it is just hours or minutes that seem like an entire day. What we have found with our Angels is that our reaction to their behavior dictates what comes next. If we can stay clam and assure them it is okay to feel the way they do, and help them find a better way to release their upset, then the day straightens out rather quickly. However, if we react poorly, they spin out of control and it is much harder to get back to the “happy” place. Instead of concentrating on the “bad” and getting all “woe-is-me” about a situation, we need to look for the “good” and celebrate our ability to overcome the “yucky feelings” with our kids. If we yell, sigh in frustration, throw in the towel and focus on everything with negativity, then we are more pessimistic with each new situation and at the end of the day we feel defeated and horrible. However, if we smile, hug, play and sooth each experience with positivity, then we are more optimistic when the next episode happens and it is easier to overcome, and at the end of the day we feel like champions and blessed. I found this quote by John Heywood and really love it: “If you will call your troubles experiences, and remember that every experience develops some latent force within you, you will grow vigorous and happy, however adverse your circumstances may seem to be.”

Optimism ‘Our Way” is defined as: “A conscious choice to see the positive, hope, faith and joy in each event so that we may learn from it and use it to make our lives even more Au-some.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

N is for Need

N is for NEED

N is for NEED.

Need is defined as: “A need is something that is necessary for organisms to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants because a deficiency would cause a clear negative outcome, such as dysfunction or death. Needs can be objective and physical, such as food, or they can be subjective and psychological, such as the need for self-esteem. On a social level, needs are sometimes controversial.” – Wikipedia

What do we truly NEED in our life? On the most basic level, we need shelter from the elements and nourishment for our bodies. On a spiritual level, we need love and nourishment for our souls. Everything after that starts to head into the gray areas of life, which is why “needs are sometimes controversial.” Every person is different, so it makes sense that their needs would be different too. For one person companionship may be a necessity, but for another it may be a luxury. I suppose that is why there will always be a debate about what is truly a need and what is simply a want. I don’t think you should have to choose between the two, and I feel that they are both equally important to living a healthy, happy and balanced life. Perhaps fulfilling, or at least the goal of fulfilling, our needs and wants are what make us the wonderfully unique individuals we are; and when you combine us all, you have a spectrum of amazing people, places and things.

As children we do not understand the difference between a need and a want, we simply know what is necessary for us to feel good. As we grow into adults we start to weigh everything and tend to over think our goals and options way too much. Then when we become parents, we really start to analyze every thought and action, to make sure we are doing all the “right” things for our children to thrive. If our children have special needs, then it appears to become even more important that we “do the right things” for them and our family. It is amazing that we don’t all walk around with headaches from the constant overdrive our brains are in! Why is it so important to do the “right” thing? Sometimes doing the “wrong” (or what is perceived as the wrong) thing yields much better results. I think the best way to look at life is through the eyes of a child; with their simplicity, honesty and faith. I feel that we need to get away from the “right versus wrong” mentality, and move towards the “accountability and responsibility” way of thinking. We should follow our heart and guts when making decisions and taking action. Our only concern should be what works for us and our family. We should teach our children to follow their instincts, trust themselves and put their health and happiness above any silly standard society attempts to impose. We must always be accountable for actions, and take responsibility for the outcome, but sometimes that just means celebrating the fact that we made a great judgment call!

Need “Our Way” is defined as; “Whatever it takes to help us achieve the healthy, happy lifestyle we dream of for ourselves and our children; which fills all our tomorrows with hope, love and faith.”
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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

M is for Mission

M is for MISSION

M is for MISSION.

Mission is defined as: “A specific task or duty assigned to a person or group of people…” – Dictionary.com

A mission in the military may be assigned, but in life it is usually something that we choose. Our life mission consists of our goals and dreams. Our mission is to raise healthy and happy children, who know they are loved and supported always. When our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Autistic Disorder, this did not change our mission; it served to make our mission even more important. A child with special needs will face many challenges in life; one of the biggest hurdles they will need to overcome is preconceived notions regarding their condition based on negative stereotypes, misinformation and intolerance.

When our family entered the Au-Some and Au-Inspiring Special Needs World, I was hungry for knowledge and guidance. I felt I needed to become a sponge and absorb as much information as possible, so we could achieve our mission. I wanted to talk to people, follow blogs, like FaceBook pages, read stories, etc… I wanted to learn from the parents who came before us. I yearned for hope, faith and love in our children, in ourselves, and in the world. Unfortunately, what I found the majority of time was the exact opposite. I found people who would rather blame someone/something, than actually look at their amazing child and see their potential for greatness. I found people lamenting the horrors of special needs parenting; so consumed with bitterness and negativity, that they painted a horrific picture of Autism and many of its fellow diagnoses. I was disappointed and thought, THIS could not be all there was to the Special Needs Community.  Luckily, I found some wonderful FaceBook pages that gave me the inspiration I needed to push forward. I am also blessed to have made some very extraordinary mom-friends in the Special Needs Community, who help me stay positive and celebrate ALL of our achievements.

As a result of my experiences, I feel as though I have been called for another mission in life. I believe my second mission is to spread a message of love, acceptance, faith, and joy. A diagnosis of ASD is not a curse; it is simply a medical term to help us, and our children, in receiving the correct assistance necessary to thrive in life. Sadly too many people bully their way into the spotlight to show the negative side of ASD and Special Needs Parenting. Although the life of a Special Needs Family is far from easy, it is not all doom and gloom; for every negative, there IS a positive. I feel I have been called to spread the message of positivity and to show the world just how beautiful and wondrous the Special Needs Community truly is. If we could only open our hearts and minds enough to discard our judgments and cruelty, we could see the Au-Someness in the Special Needs Community and enjoy all the miracles and blessings they bring to the world. Autism Proud ♥♥♥ Imagine the Possibilities!

Mission “Our Way” is defined as:  “A spiritual roadmap of Our Journey, based in love and positivity, comprised of all Our dreams, aspirations, ideals, faith and knowledge.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Happy Mother’s Day

A poem of thanks for all the WOMEN who shape a child’s life. Mother, Birth-Mother, Step-Mother, Guardian, Grandmother, God-Mother, Aunt, Sister, Cousin, Friend, etc… As we go through life we may hold many titles, but the children who we have touched do not care what we are called; they only know that they are loved by us, and they are our sunshine! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Angels in the world who love and guide us!!!

Unfortunately, I am not very good at poetry; however, I did find a poem that encompasses the sentiment, which I feel Mother’s Day is all about. I could not possibly say it any better, so I am sharing a poem by Turlough O’Carolan, which I found at http://www.poemsforfree.com/mothersdaypoems.html.
How Much I Love You I Can’t Say
By Turlough O’Carolan

How much I love you I can’t say:
It’s more than words can hold.
You’re all at once my rich, red clay,
My potter and my mold.

Yours the words that shaped my voice,
The spirit within mine.
Yours the will that shaped my choice,
My fortune, and my sign.

How lucky I was to have had you
At the core of me!
Wise and good, you always knew
Just what I could be.

And so I came to be someone
Whom I could be proud of.
For this I give my swollen sum
Of gratitude and love.

L is for Love

L is for LOVE

L is for LOVE.

Love is defined as: “an emotion of a strong affection and personal attachment.[1] Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and “the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”.[2] Love may also be described as actions towards others or oneself based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.[3]”   – Wikipedia

Although, I feel that you cannot truly define “Love” because it is different for everyone;  I do believe the purest love is that of a parent for their child. We love our children in the most basic, unconditional, faithful way possible. It is a love that people dream of and write beautiful literature about. If we convey this abiding love to our children, they will be blessed to grow basking in its warmth and promise, as they also spread the glorious wonder of unconditional love to the world. In the words of Eden Ahbez: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Love is gift we can give ourselves and everyone in our lives. We can even love the people who test us most and bring us sadness, for to love them is to prevent the spreading of negativity and hate. Love, a true abiding love, should not be conditional.  We can love a person, but not like them, at the same time. If someone is toxic to you or your family, then remove that negativity from your life; but forgive that person and pray for them. God does not stop loving us, regardless of what we do, and that is how I feel we should view the world. We can say “I will not tolerate unacceptable behavior” which will cause us to exclude people from our life; however, we can still love and wish wonderful things for those people. Although what constitutes “unacceptable behavior” varies from person to person; there is one universal truth and that is… Holding toxic, negative thoughts in yourself, and harboring ill-will toward another because of their ignorance, intolerance or abusive behavior does not hurt anyone but you. In the face of hate, LOVE and your world will a better place.

As I work my Al-Anon program and attempt to promote the positive side of Autism, I am starting to see people and the world in a very different light. I see people who are doing the best they can with the tools they have. Perhaps they only know how to be negative, and positivity scares them. Perhaps they have been hurt too much and cannot open their heart to the possibility of love for all. Perhaps they simply prefer to stay in their own world and cannot accept truth, hope and faith. Whatever their beliefs, views, religion, personality, etc… it is theirs to do with what they please. Not everyone can be friends, but that does not mean they must be enemies. We must always be aware of the people in our lives and the affect they have on us. We should choose to surround ourselves with people who are positive, loving and supportive; because that is what we need to live a healthier spiritual life. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” – 1 John 4:7 New International Version (NIV)

Love “Our Way” is defined as: “A precious, abiding gift we give ourselves and all those who cross our path. We share the gift of positive thought, light, hope, faith, acceptance and pure love for all; as we embrace diversity, and wish everyone a blessed life.”

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HALT

Today was a rough day filled with many emotions and sadly I think the negative ones took the lead for too much of the day. Today is one of those days where my Al-Anon program and sponsor saved me from my worst enemy, the committees in my head. Although this is part of my recovery program for the “isms” I have faced throughout my life, I also find this particular method very useful in everyday life as a wife, and SAHM to two amazing, strong-willed, crazy girls. I actually find I can apply a LOT of my program to Autism and the world of challenges it brings as well. This particular method is called HALT, which means whenever I feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, I need to HALT, identify this need and address it. I would like to give you an example of HALT, by explaining what it meant for me today.

Hungry – I am horrible at remembering to eat, and today was no different. It was our Autistic daughter’s FIRST field-trip with her Early Childhood Education class, and I was so excited getting her and daddy all packed up to go, I did not eat breakfast. Once they were on their way, I got busy with a few chores that needed to be done before I could take my other daughter out to play at the park. It was not until the baby fell asleep on me, while I was putting her shoes on (lol) that I realized it was 10am and I had yet to eat, even though I had been up since 5am.

Angry – We had a VERY close call while waiting for the bus today. I was playing with Beth on the front lawn, doing our normal morning silliness before school, when out of nowhere she bolted for the parking lot. As many of you know, Autistic children have an extremely poor safety awareness, and can get so focused on something they don’t hear you calling them. That is exactly what happened she saw the bird we were “talking” to fly away and went to chase it. Unfortunately, I had let my guard down and was not right next to her. I saw the van coming and could not breathe. I was running and SCREAMING STOP over and over again. Finally, in what seemed like an eternity, I grabbed her and pulled her back right as the van passed us, the driver missed hitting her by a few inches. I was Angry at the driver for not stopping, she obviously heard me and was looking at me, but kept driving. After she realized what almost just happened she sat at the end of the driveway for a few moments before driving away. I was VERY ANGRY with myself for being so careless and I was DEVASTATED at the thought of how horribly different this incident could have ended.

Lonely – I was sad that my husband was out with Beth on her first field-trip with all her classmates and friends, and I was missing it. When Anne fell asleep on me, and slept the entire time they were gone, I grew even more sad and lonely. I also thought that we would have a family day once they returned, then perhaps a Date-Night-In after the girls went to bed, but was informed that he needed to meet-up with some friends tonight. I grew even more sad, felt even more lonely and was very hurt because I had expectations that were not being met.

Tired – Although Beth takes melatonin to help her sleep, we still have bad nights once or twice a week. Now she appears to have some allergy/sinus issues that are causing coughing spells at night as well. Plus Anne is teething and not sleeping well. Therefore I rarely get a good night’s sleep that contains both quality and quantity of sleep. Well last night was a bad one. I did not get to bed until almost 1am; Anne was crying and fussing shortly before 3am. Beth started having nasty coughing spells at 4:30am and finally got up for the day at 5am. Exhausted is the best way I can describe how I felt. I was even drifting off while Beth and I were cuddling I the recliner watching her favorite movie of the week. As the day went on I felt like I was walking through a fog.

Now that you have a picture of my HALT for the day, I can tell you what I did to address those needs.

Hungry – When I felt the headache and faint/hot spell coming on, I solved the Hungry by eating and drinking lots of water to combat the dehydrating effects of the coffee.

Angry – The Angry was not as easy to solve and honestly I am still praying and trying to overcome it. I forgave the driver almost immediately, it was not her fault and she meant no harm, she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. If only I could forgive myself so easily! Thankfully I have an amazing Sponsor who helped me get closer to forgiving myself and accepting the fact that I am human and did nothing wrong. With the help of my Sponsor and emailing with my best friend, I came to the conclusion that it was just a situation that took a bad turn. It was out of my control, and I cannot keep beating myself up. All I can do is THANK GOD that no one was hurt, Beth is safe and I have learned a valuable lesson. It also helps that right after it happened; I was trying to explain to Beth why she had to listen and be more careful. I picked her chin up and said “Baby look at me, you HAVE to be…” She cut me off, grabbed my chin, and said: “Look at me, no pushing, be nice!” All I could do was smile and hug her, because that is what I do/say when she knocks Anne down. In her own way she was letting me know she hears me. I LOVE that girl so much and she teaches me how to be a better person every day.

Lonely – The Lonely was solved by being open and honest with myself. I made the choice not to go on the fieldtrip, I wanted Henry to go, and love him for the intense desire he has to be involved in every aspect of our children’s lives. I am very blessed to have such an involved and loving man for my husband and father of my children. It is also not his fault that he made plans, because I never told him my expectations of the day. As my sponsor reminded me: “Expectations are Predetermined Resentments” and if I don’t tell people what I want, need, am planning, etc… they can never meet my expectations and I will always end up disappointed. Instead of wallowing in my self-pity, I let him get the girls to bed while I cleaned up. Then he went out and I am writing, which is exactly what I needed to do.

Tired – The Tired was solved by being open and honest with my husband, and asking for help. I was losing my composure, and becoming short-tempered. Finally, I admitted that I was exhausted, sad, and struggling to function. This was VERY hard for me to do, because I feel I should be able to do it all with a smile, and should never need help. I am really trying to work on this faulty thinking through my program, and today shows me that I am making progress. In response to my confession Henry gave me a hug, told me to feel better and sent me off to bed for a nice 2.5 hour nap. When I awoke, I did feel better and was able to spend the rest of the day/evening enjoying my family.

It was a rough day, but tomorrow is a new day, and it will be blessed and fantastic. I am not sure what tomorrow holds, but I know we will be okay because Love, Hope, and Faith live in Our home. We may stumble but God, all the wonderful people in our life, and my program are there to catch us and help us find our footing. Thank you for letting me share this piece of Our Story with you.

 

 

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Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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