Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for July, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday, and like many days, I am feeling very blessed. Although most days I am also feeling very stressed, and it can be a struggle not to be a pessimistic person. I believe that is what life is all about. It is the Yin-and-Yang of our universe. I think the key to happiness is to balance the positives and negatives so that we can always find a blessing in any situation.

Lately I have been reflecting on my 36 years on this earth. I am blessed to have my Al-Anon program and family, to help me take an HONEST look at my life. Here is what God has given me to process so far… I have seen times that I thought I would not survive, physically and/or spiritually. I have been the kindest, empathetic and most helpful person to many; however, I have also been the cruelest, judgmental and most hurtful to others. I have mourned times that brought me great sorrow, while I have also celebrated times that brought me great joy. I have been the hero and I have been the villain. I have been the uplifting force of positive love, and I have been the anchor of negative scorn. I have been strong and brave, and I have been weak and terrified. I am blessed and I am flawed, simply put I am human.

I am extremely thankful for the loving support of family and friends, who are by my side regardless if I am on the positive or negative side of life. I am thankful to have many people in my life who will be honest with me and tell me when I am being a less-than-desirable person to be around. The Lord has blessed me with a best friend, who is truly an Angel, and she ALWAYS gives it to me straight. Although there are times when I may not want to hear what she has to say, or see the situation from the perspective she is presenting, her insight is always invaluable. She helps be a better me, and I will be eternally grateful for her presence in my life. My husband also helps keep it “real” for me, he grounds me in a way that no one else can. He helps me see when I am being ridiculous and need to back off, or when I need to step up my game and be the person he knows I can be. He loves and supports me unconditionally, he is my rock. I can honestly say that with Henry on one side and Marie on the other, I can face anything this world throws at me.

Although I am not proud of the person I have been at times, or some of the things I have done over the years. I am proud of myself for recognizing attitudes and actions that need to be changed in myself. I may not always like the person I see in the mirror, but I can see the changes she is making and am proud of her. Through the grace of God, my amazing Al-Anon program and family, and all the other wonderful people in my life one day I will look in the mirror and love the woman I see as much as my extraordinary family and friends already do. My life thus far has been an adventure filled with lots of ups-and-downs, back-and-forths, and failures-and-successes. Through it all I have learned many valuable lessons, but I know that I still have much more to learn. I pray that the next 36 years see me making wiser, kinder and more loving choices.

So I celebrate my birthday today, and I look to future with a happy, hopeful, faithful heart. May the Yin-and-Yang always steer me toward the path on my journey that will help me achieve my God-given potential, so that I may be the person I pray I can be.

“This Simbol(Yin-Yang) represents the ancient Chinese understanding of how things work. The outer circle represents “everything”, while the black and white shapes within the circle represent the interaction of two energies, called “yin” (black) and “yang” (white), which cause everything to happen. They are not completely black or white, just as things in life are not completely black or white, and they cannot exist without each other. While “yin” would be dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting, and weak, “yang” would be bright, active, upward, hot, expanding, and strong. The shape of the yin and yang sections of the symbol, actually gives you a sense of the continual movement of these two energies, yin to yang and yang to yin, causing everything to happen: just as things expand and contract, and temperature changes from hot to cold.” — http://fly.cc.fer.hr/~shlede/ying/yang.html

 

 

Creative Commons License
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.

Advertisements

R-Word Ruined It

We went to the movies today and saw Ted, it lived up to its previews and had lots of raunchy, potty humor. I must say that I did laugh quite a bit and actually enjoyed the movie up until the last part. As I was thinking I could not wait to come home and tell my online friends what a great and funny movie we had seen… there it was…Ted used the R-word. 😦 One word ruined the entire movie for me. I expressed my displeasure and unhappiness at hearing the word as soon as it was spoken. I was very glad it was at the end, because I am not sure I could have sat through the movie had it been at the beginning. I have been told that I am overreacting by people who simply do not understand how hurtful words can be. Perhaps this is Hollywood’s stance as well, and they do not want to admit the harm they are causing. I refuse to believe that they do not know, I simply think they do not care. It seems since it has always been used in a slanderous way, it just makes it okay in most people’s eyes. My question is… Why does it have to be demeaning and hurtful to be funny?

I will never understand why Hollywood continues to use such an offensive and hurtful word. Although the movie did not pull any punches and left no religion, ethnicity, stereotype, etc… unscathed, I guess I just expected more due to all the campaigns and awareness that have been occurring over recent years.

I have always detested the R-word, but as I have grown older, and more sensitive to others feelings, I simply HATE it! Now there is this big “negative attention feeds my image” crap going on in Hollywood, where celebrities are trying to make “Autistic” the new R-word. It is sad that people who could make such a positive difference in the lives of many, choose to use their “star power” to hurt and demean wonderful people. It not only saddens me, it sickens me, which is why I refuse to share any of the stories of outrage against their supposed ignorance, they know what they are saying and doing is wrong. It appears that they are only saying it to get attention, and I will not reward abhorrent behavior by spreading their name more. I cannot help but feel that they are simply cruel people who would throw anyone and anything under the bus, including making fun of innocent children, to add a few more dollars to their pockets.

I have been guilty in the past of alluding to developmental delays, disabilities, etc… when dealing with less than desirable interactions with people. Although I can look back now and see how horrible I was, and am thankful that only few heard my words, I am still very ashamed. I have had so many extraordinary individuals, who are part of the Special Needs Community, come in and out of my life, that I know I would not be the person I am today without them. My daughter and Goddaughter are proud members of the Special Needs community, and I support them with all that I am.

I pledge that I will no longer be the hypocrite who provides compassion and understanding, while still laughing at the hurtful, demeaning, ignorant references that are so accepted by society. I pledge that I will be that person, who reminds people that if they cannot use a word around anyone, at anytime, then perhaps they should not use that world at all. Until the rest of the world realizes the negative stereotypes and pain they are creating by demeaning others in the name of comedy, I guess I will have to stick to getting my laughs the good old-fashioned way, through my beautiful children who are not only my best teachers, but also wonderful motivation to be a better person. I pledge to be more mindful of the powerful weapon my tongue is, and to always Think before I Speak.

There is no better way to express how important ending the R-word is than to read the material on http://r-word.org/. Here is a sample from their FaceBook page: “Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the word ‘retard(ed).’ Language affects attitude. Attitudes affect outcomes. Make your pledge to use respectful people first language. http://r-word.org/

 

 

Creative Commons License

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.

I’m an Oogie Mom

On Friday the 13th, we ventured out for a family first. While Anne enjoyed a day in the land of spoiled, aka the grandparent’s house, we took Beth to her first movie. What made this day even more special was that it was also my first Blogger event. We were not sure how Beth would do, but we decided it was time to push the boundaries of our family comfort zone and at least try to attend the full event. If it proved too much for her sensory system, then we would simply make apologies and leave, and do what was necessary to help her regulate.

With any event or outing, preparation is key to a successful venture, this is even more important when you have a child with Special Needs. Preparation for us is a little more time consuming because our Autistic girl has significant sensory issues as well, and her Sensory seeking/avoiding behaviors can fluctuate very quickly, so we must be prepared for just about anything. That is when the research began.

I accepted the invitation and registered for the event. We would be attending a screening of The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure, a new interactive movie coming out Oogust 29th. Not only were we going to be able to view the entire movie six weeks before its release, but the Bloggers would also have a roundtable discussion with creator Kenn Viselman concerning Quality Family Programming. I did not want my excitement over this unique opportunity to cloud my judgment where Beth’s capabilities were concerned, so I began exploring the movie.

First up was the website: www.oogieloves.com. As soon as it came on the screen both my girls were mesmerized. I cannot even tell you how many times we watched the trailer and ran the gamut of the song/video selection: www.oogieloves.com/songs-videos.html. Now at this point most parents would be running from the room screaming, but I was intrigued, and my girls were obviously interested as well. So I explored more and found something amazing, a Parent Guide to the movie. VERY Cool! If you want to learn about Lovelyloveville and its residents, while understanding the experiences Kenn and the rest of his team envision for families, please read this: www.oogieloves.com/Oogieloves_parent_guide.pdf. After reading the parent guide and watching the preview/videos many more times, I was sold and we were definitely going to this Au-Some event.

We arrived at the movie theater and there were already many families there. There was a buzz of excitement as the kids saw the displays, crafts, food, etc… Henry and I had a light, healthy breakfast snack while Beth, who never eats in such a busy environment, simply played with her ball and drank her water. Then it was time to split up.

Henry and Beth stayed with the other caregivers, kids and counselors, while I and the other Bloggers went with Kenn and his team. He told me that they could not be in the room for long periods, because it was too loud for Beth, plus she was getting overloaded from all the people and excitement. Therefore, they spent most of the 45 minutes playing and running around the theater lobby, thankfully AMC has a very cool lobby!

I spent my 45 minutes listening to Kenn and Elaine talk; I was filled with skepticism, humor, hope, etc… Although I wanted to believe everything they were saying, I could not forget that he is a marketing genius and knows how to sell his product. For all my doubt and skepticism, I must say I was won over by the end of the meeting, but decided to reserve final judgment until seeing the movie, because I thought it best to let the product speak for itself.

We collected our families and headed to the theater where we would view the movie. Beth was very excited and pretty regulated thanks to all the sensory input from exploring the lobby with such zeal. We settled into our seats, which she was amazed by; she loved that is she scooted back it would squeeze her. She LOVES to be squished; it provides great proprioceptive input for her system. She also loved the dark room, bright colors on the screen and surround sound. Fortunately this day, she was in full-on Sensory Seeking mode and was eating up all the wonderful craziness. She settled happily into her chair with her Veggie Puffs and Popcorn. Although she said the popcorn was “Yuck!” she ate the entire container of puffs in about twenty minutes. Coincidentally that was as long as she was able to stay in her seat too. So we got up and started moving around. We spent the rest of the movie going up and down the stairs, dancing, trying out new seats and just running off some steam. Amazingly enough, due to all the physical activity she was allowed to have during the viewing, the movie actually held her interest. She LOVED it! When the other children would get up to sing and dance with their on-screen friends, she would stop, then start flapping and bouncing. In case you don’t know, we have a saying in the Autistic Community, “I get flappy when I’m happy!” Several days later, if she sees her poster, she has to watch the clips online and actually says “Oogieloves” and starts singing,  which for a child who barely was able to communicate a year ago is HUGE.

I can definitely say that everything Kenn spoke about in our discussion was spot on, and he truly delivered on all his promises of pure family entertainment that is truly G-rated. This movie teaches children to make friends with peers of all backgrounds, love and accept everyone, and embrace teamwork; the characters do this and more, simply because it is the right thing to do. Henry and I really enjoyed the movie as well and talked about it most of the afternoon, it was VERY well done and the best part was every child was free to just be a kid enjoying a movie without typical “adult” rules. Kenn summed it up best in our talk when he said: “Just as it’s every parents choice whether or not to take their children to movies; it is every child’s right to decide how they will interact with that movie.”  This truly G-rated movie is perfect for children and their innocent view of the world. I hope to be able to go back as a family of 4 when it opens, because Anne would go nuts for the vibrant characters and lively music. It was very refreshing to be able to watch a movie with my EXTREMELY literal thinker and not have to worry about her hurting herself or anyone else because of something she saw in the movie. We loved it, and highly recommend it to all parents who are looking for a fresh approach to movie going and an honestly G-rated film for their children.

We went into the day hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. I am happy to say that the day was a HUGE success, and the worst part of the day was she didn’t want to leave. So we forgot her ball, and I had to spin us in circles out of the theater, but it was actually a fun way to get to the car. Although our less than typical exit did earn us some strange looks, we were enjoying our Adventurific day too much to pay any attention. A HUGE Thank You to Kenn and his team for giving our family another first that was truly memorable and Au-Some!!

If you would like to find about more about the Oogieloves and their Sparkiliciousness, Adventurific, Scientastic approach to life, check them out on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheOogieloves and/or Twitter: www.twitter.com/theoogieloves Their hashtags are #oogieloves and #ratedGGG

 

**Disclaimer – We were provided free tickets to the event and were compensated for our time and attendance. Please note that although we were paid for participation on that day, it has in no way influenced my opinions that were shared in this piece.**
Creative Commons License
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.

7 Years and Counting

It was SEVEN years ago on this date that we walked (well, I walked, he hobbled due to a bad foot, and it is still a running joke) into a courtroom surrounded by family members and became husband and wife. It was nothing fancy, but it was real and true. I believe this is the foundation of our life. We are not a fancy household, financially or otherwise; but we are a home filled with love, laughter, truth, faith and an Au-Some reality.

Our 7 years of marriage have been a wonderful, trying, exciting, terrifying, educational, silly, etc… adventure filled with accomplishments and failures that have all paved the way for us to be the couple we are today. We have not had the smoothest roads, but we also have not had the rockiest either. Some days we are madly in love, and other days we can’t stand each other. There are times when we are so in-sync it is almost scary, then there are times that we cannot communicate to save our sanity. This is life, there is good and bad, there are celebrations and disappointments, there is happy and sad, there are ups and downs, etc… I am VERY THANKFUL to be riding the amazing roller-coaster of life with my wonderful husband!

Life is a journey filled many different paths, some take us through joy and some take us through sorrow; however they all take us where we need to go in order to reach our God-given potential and be the people we are destined to be. There are many paths that I have taken, which I could not have walked (or crawled) down without my husband by my side. He is my rock, he loves me for who I am, supports me always and regardless if he agrees with me or not he stands beside me. We are a united front that is not easily divided; however that does not mean we are always in agreement. We have many disagreements and varying views on many things life throws our way. Even on our first date we could barely find a topic we agreed on and saw in the same light. He sees the world as black and white, whereas I see it as shades of gray with many rainbows. Again I cannot help but feel that is why we are so perfect for each other. We take the two ends of the spectrum that our backgrounds have afforded us, and we create a middle ground, so that our children will have the best of both worlds.

We are far from perfect, we do not live in a world of constant sunshine and rainbows, and we struggle some days just to survive and face another day. We are human, we are flawed and we are extraordinary! Our marriage has been filled with many wise choices and many mistakes; however we are still going strong after 7 years and cannot wait to see what the next 50+ will hold.

Here is a beautiful video I found on YouTube of  “Our” Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZp6pmgbZyU

 

 

Creative Commons License
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.

S is for Success

S is for SUCCESS

S is for SUCCESS

Success is defined as: “1. the favourable outcome of something attempted 2. the attainment of wealth, fame, etc…” – Dictionary.com

There is so much wonderful wisdom in this quote, I had to share it in its entirety: “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.” ~ Bessie Stanley 1905

I think we all tend to measure our success in comparison to others. Unfortunately, when we do this, it is a great disservice to ourselves. We should never compare ourselves to others, because no two people walk the same path. I feel our level of success is a highly personal matter, that only our heart and mind can measure. The beautiful thing about viewing the world, our actions, and our disadvantages/blessings in this manner is that they are Ours and Ours alone to learn from and celebrate.

Just as we cannot measure our success by the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of others, we also cannot measure our children’s abilities by what other children can (or can’t) achieve. Every person, including every child (specials needs or not) is unique. We cannot, and should not, attempt to force our kids into a mold they were never meant to squeeze into. We can, and should, encourage our children to embrace their differences and cultivate their strengths and interests. If we all focused more on beauty, living, laughing, and loving would the world not be a better place? So why not teach our children to simply strive to find their niche and enjoy the entire marvel that comes with it?

The highest level of success we can experience as a parent is to build a solid foundation for our children; then watch them lead a life filled with love, honesty, acceptance, strength, joy, faith, pride etc… Our children are born with amazing gifts, and they teach us how to incorporate them into our life. Our children are our greatest teachers, and we should follow them into the unknown with open hearts and minds. We do not know what road Our journey will take us down next; however, we do know that as long as we do it Our way in a manner that is best for Our family the road will be filled with endless possibilities and successes. Our greatest success will be raising our children to be proud of themselves, including their unique abilities; always knowing that Different is NOT Less. “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” ~ Christopher Morley

Success “Our Way” is defined as: “A happy, healthy family enjoying life, learning and growing together in faith, love and gratitude for all life has to offer (the hard times, the easy times, and everything in between) as we evaluate our imperfections and celebrate our progress.”
Creative Commons License
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.

Sincerely SAHM

As a Stay-At-Home Parent we have many moments of bonding with our children, which our working spouse misses out on. Sometimes these missed experiences bring my husband great sadness, because he wants to be there for everything, as much as I do. Although he does admit that as much as he loves our children and misses them terribly when he is gone, he could never be the Stay-At-Home Parent. He also makes an effort to tell and show me how much he appreciates all I do for our family, and how much it means to him that our children are well cared for by their mommy while he cannot be with them. I am extremely thankful that he struggles to provide for us, so that I am able to stay home with our children and be anything and everything they need. We are truly blessed to be living the dream of family we envisioned for ourselves.

Although I love being a SAHM, sometimes it is also very stressful, lonely and draining. Many days I feel like a jack-of-all-trades, and master of none. It can be very frustrating and allow me the opportunity to beat myself up over things that are truly out of my control or simply not that important. When I became a SAHM I knew it would be the most important “job” of my life, and it would be 24/7, 365 days a year, but I don’t think anyone is ever really prepared for how that truly translates into your entire being (body, mind and soul).  There are days that I feel I am Super-Mom and worthy of the praise I receive from family and friends. However, there are also days when I fear that God has entrusted me with something that I am not equipped to handle. On those days being the SAHM is extremely difficult; because those are the days I put too much needless pressure on myself and my husband to do “the right things” and have the “perfect everything.”

When I am very stressed or in a rough place mentally, it is so easy to imagine the grass in greener on the other side. This may be for many reasons, if for no other than to be out of the house and have adult interaction other than therapists, doctors, teachers, etc… There are times I long for the freedom to simply pick up and go without having to examine the sensory-ramifications and plan an escape route if necessary. It is when I am fantasizing about that “easy” life everyone but us has, that I become unbearable and unreasonable, even to myself. It is during these episodes of self-pity, that I tend to forget that my husband is working 40+ hours, going to school another 8+hours, doing homework (at home or in the tutoring center) and still trying to be Super-Dad, in any given week.

After much self-reflection I have come to the conclusion that I simply want a break from my “job” and am extremely jealous of his ability to leave his job and go elsewhere, since I rarely get to leave mine physically and never leave it mentally. This is when I am thankful for my program and the wonderful people in my life that can be honest and kick my butt back into reality. Life is not all good days’ filled sunshine and rainbows; we all have our trials and tribulations, and we all have bad days. The key is to not get stuck in the “woe-is-me” mentality, and to take a step back and truly look at your choices and your life for what they are. Sometimes taking that break is the difference between a mommy-meltdown and a magnificent day!

I made the choice to be a SAHM, and there is no other choice for me. Even on our worst day being a SAHM is the best thing ever for me. I am blessed with a wonderful husband who loves and accepts me, for who I am faults and all; he puts up with my “crazy” when most people would walk, maybe run, away. God entrusted us with two miracles, our extraordinary children, who color our life with love and joy. We have good days, we have bad days, and we have many in-between days. Our life is an Au-Some adventure filled with love, acceptance and progress. We learn as a family and we walk our path together as a unit of strength that cannot be broken. We are Blessed and Thankful for everything in our life, even the difficult times that force us grow in ways we did not think possible.

I am especially thankful for my husband, and all he does for our family. Although I may not always show it, and I may complain too much when my “filter” is broke. In the end I could not imagine this journey without him. We are the perfect team, and together we can accomplish anything, as long as we are together. As our girls grow-up, we know they will navigate life with a strong foundation because we are building it for them one prayer, one mistake, one kiss, one decision, one hug, one giggle, one triumph, etc… at a time. I don’t feel we are any different than other families, in this respect; we simply have a different means to an end to fully maneuver the paths on our journey. I love and appreciate my husband more than he will ever know, and I thank him with all my heart and soul for our extraordinary life.

Creative Commons License
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.

Tag Cloud