Faith, Love and Respect for ALL

Archive for the ‘Al-Anon’ Category

Prayers and Love Nationwide

The past week was filled with immense tragedy for the Autistic community. Three children, Mikaela Lynch (age 9) in California, Owen Black (age 7) in Florida, and Drew Howell (age 2) in Ohio, died due to wandering and subsequent drowning. As their devastated families try to come to terms with their tremendous loss, there have been many ignorant people who dare to cast blame on them, and it is sickening. My heart is heavy with sadness for the loss of three young lives; and it is filled with outrage for those who carelessly judge what they cannot know and do not understand. Today I am joining hundreds of other bloggers to support these families by showering them with prayers and love via cyberspace.

 

Rest In Peace Sweet Angels * Mikaela Lynch * Owen Black *  Drew Howell

As a parent of an Autistic child, who is a wanderer, I know the terror you feel when you realize your child has slipped away. We have had several close calls with Beth in the past 2 years. I have learned the hard way that I cannot control people, places, or things; therefore, I do the best I can and pray that it is enough to keep her and Anne safe. Although, I have stopped blaming myself for past events, I relive each one of our close calls every time I hear of other families who were not as fortunate. I grieve for all the wonderful parents who have seen their worst nightmare come to life. In the blink of an eye, any of us could lose our child due to wandering/elopement and the dangers they face while out of our care.

For the Lynch, Black, and Howell families that is exactly what happened, in less than 30 seconds, their lives were forever changed in the most tragic of ways. They are NOT bad parents; they are NOT inattentive parents! They are humans, who did all that was in their power to keep their children safe. They LOVE their children, and probably blame themselves for the horrible accident that took them from this world, even though they are NOT to blame in anyway. They lost their Autistic Angels under the worst of circumstances, and are grieving their loss in ways that most us will never know or fully understand.

 

 

Please keep this in mind when you share and comment on posts regarding them and their Angels. Please attempt to put yourself in their place, and imagine how you would feel, then decide what you want to share. A general rule of thumb I use is the acronym THINK (T – Is it Thoughtful? H – Is it Honest? I – Is it Intelligent? N – Is it Necessary? K – Is it Kind?). If I can answer Yes to all those questions, then I hit submit/share; if the answer to just one is No, then I must step away and pray for guidance before I put my thoughts out in cyberspace. I am pleading with you to stop the spreading of cruel misinformation and judgment, instead help spread love and support for families in crisis. Please keep the Lynch, Black, and Howell families in your prayers today and in the future months. May Angels surround them in love and light as they grieve; and bring them hope that tomorrow it will hurt a little less.

 

 

If you would like to read some of the other wonderful posts that are part of An Outpouring of Love for the Mikaela Lynch Family, please visit the ever growing list of  amazing, informative  and touching blog posts.

If you would like more information about wandering/elopement and how to help keep the Autistic children in your community a little safer, please visit theNational Autism Association and the AWAARE Collaboration.

 

 

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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 First Birthday Jest_Tu_Positive

Happy FIRST Birthday to Dorothy Stronglove and Jest_Tu_Positive. Today is one year since I started sharing Our Journey with the world through this Blog and its corresponding FaceBook page. It is hard to believe it has been a year already. I cannot believe that the blog has had over 7,200 views, across 73 countries, in that time. I also cannot believe that there are currently 419 people and 139 pages following us on FaceBook, in 27 different languages.  I am humbled and filled with pride all at the same time. I never dreamed that this adventure would become something so pivotal in Our Life, and reach so many people around the world.

The birth of Dorothy Stronglove and Jest_Tu_Positive was a way for me to combat all the negativity I was seeing and experiencing a year ago. It had only been 5 months since our eldest daughter’s diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, and we were struggling to find the right path for Our family.  Between the people in our life who were attacking me about Our choices, and the angry blogs/pages I was finding online, I was feeling overwhelmed, confused, angry and lonely. A former friend helped me see why I was feeling like I did not belong in most of the Autism groups. Her words that made the light bulb go on were: “You are obviously not ready for all that recovery entails…”  When I read those words, everything became clear. The pages/blogs I was following did not share my beliefs, and it left me feeling like an outsider. We do not believe our daughter needs to be recovered, cured, or fixed; we think she is exactly the person God intended her to be. I realized that I needed to find people/blogs/pages to surround myself with, who felt the same way. Although my former friend and I had to part ways, she was one of the people responsible for pointing me in the direction of Our current path, and for that I will always be grateful.

I figured the best way to find like-minded people was to put out there how I truly felt about everything. Thus Autism Proud began; while I was eager to share, I still wanted to protect my family’s privacy, which is why I write under a pen-name and use different names for the major stars in our life. Thankfully I had Marie supporting me, and proofreading my early posts; without her help Jest_Tu_Positive would never have come this far. Even with her edits and assistance, I look back at my early posts and they read as though I am defending Our views. Marie helped me take a lot of the negativity and anger out of my posts, by gently reminding me that for a person who was asking people not to judge others, I was doing just that. With her as my editor-in-chief, and all that I am learning in Al-Anon, my writing has evolved into something more positive and less argumentative/judgmental. Since starting Autism Proud I have found so many wonderful people/blogs/pages who feel the same way we do, and that has helped keep me on the positive side of the road as well. I will not say we agree on everything, because each person and their journey are unique, but I can say that I am learning to be a better me because of them, and I am extremely thankful to have found all these Au-Some people to share our journey.

Our journey is not always easy or simple; sometimes it is hard and more complicated than I ever imagined it could be. We walk in the bright sun some days, and others we are stumbling through the dark rain looking for shelter. Fortunately, most days are a happy medium between the two extremes, which makes for a colorful, Au-Some journey. We try not to take things for granted, and we strive to live in the moment, simply enjoying all the blessings we have in life. This past year Autism Proud has helped me grow as a person, wife and mother; you have all helped me become a better me, and I appreciate that more than words could ever express. I look to the next year with a child-like anticipation for all the wonderful possibilities.

In the coming year Jest_Tu_Positive will focus on Faith, Love, and Respect for ALL. I will attempt to promote unconditional acceptance of EVERYONE, regardless of ability. Most importantly I will be listening to Autistic Adults, to learn the best way to assist Beth in her journey. Autism Proud will cover all facets of our life, because although Autism and Al-Anon are big parts, there is much more to us than those two aspects.  I will never pretend to know what is best for someone else, or tell another family what they should or shouldn’t do. I can only share Our family’s beliefs and journey, in the hopes that it touches another person and helps them feel a little less overwhelmed, confused, angry, or lonely. I pray that we all enjoy the coming year and make new friends, while walking on the rainbow path of life.

Life Is Like A Rainbow ~ Bubble Heart

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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.

Autism and the Three A’s

One of my favorite concepts/tools in Al-Anon is the Three A’s (Awareness, Acceptance and Action). This excerpt from an Al-Anon Online Forum explains it perfectly:

“In dealing with a change, a problem, or a discovery, awareness is often followed by a period of acceptance before we can take action. This process is sometimes referred to as the “Three As”- Awareness, Acceptance, and Action. Coping with a new awareness can be extremely awkward, and most of us are eager to spare ourselves pain or discomfort. Yet, until we accept the reality with which we have been faced, we probably won’t be capable of taking effective action with confidence.”

I have been a Proud and Thankful member of Al-Anon for 1.5 years now. As I work my program to transform myself into the woman I want to be, I see so many ways to apply our program to Autism and the Special Needs world. In Al-Anon we learn to Love, Value, and Care for ourselves. Despite whatever we have faced in life, and how low our self-esteem may be, we learn that we Matter. Many of us who have been touched by the disease of Alcoholism, have extremely low self-esteem, and truly feel that we are broken and worthless.

I would not wish these horrible feelings of self-hate and self-doubt on anyone. For this reason, some of the verbiage and attitudes which surround the Special Needs Community fill me with immense sorrow. Often when we feel passionately about something we tend to Speak/Type before we Think. We do not stop to consider the ramifications of our words for our children, or others who have Autism. There are many Autistic children who hear, and even more Autistic teens and adults who read, on a DAILY basis that they need to be fixed, cured, recovered and even prevented in future generations. Can you fathom what that does to a person’s self-esteem? Can you even imagine how that must feel, and how that message affects Autistic people everywhere?

It is time for a new, more loving light to be shed on Autism. The verbiage and attitude with which we discuss our Autistic loved ones, is how the world will view them and their peers; therefore, we must be ever vigilant to make sure we are Honest, while also being Respectful. Please let us stand together as a community, embrace all facets of Autism, and create a brighter future filled with Respect and Appreciation for ALL individuals. Our way to do that is by applying the Three A’s to Autism.

Autism & The 3 A's

The background image is property of Lindsey Schultz, who graciously granted permission for use to Jest_Tu_Positive.

Autism Awareness – The first step is to make people aware of the Truths of Autism, and dispel many of the detrimental myths.
I am surprised by how many people we meet that have either no, or completely inaccurate  knowledge of Autism, and how it can affect a person’s neurological system. Some people ask questions and others simply walk away. There are so many teachable moments in a day, which we miss because many people don’t want to talk about Autism, and they treat it as something to be hidden away. Autism is certainly not easy, and for some it is much more difficult than others, but if we are open and honest about it, then society will see that it is an intricate part of our loved ones, and it should be spoken of freely with Pride. Next time you are out in public or you post online simply be honest, and share something about an Autistic person, from a place of Love and Respect. Put Autism in the spotlight EVERYDAY, not just on April 2nd or for the month of April, embrace it as a typical part of our life and be the change we want to see in the world.

Autism Acceptance – The second step is to promote Respect for ALL individuals, by showing the world how to embrace diversity and value Autistic people for their unique abilities.
We cannot tell others what to think about Autism, how to feel about Autism, or how to care for their Autistic loved ones. We cannot force society to interact with Autistic people in a Loving and Respectful manner. Autism is a vast Spectrum, which confuses many people since no two Autistic people are the same; therefore we must share Our Journeys and Experiences with others, so that people can truly understand that Different is NOT Less. Personally, we attempt to always conduct ourselves in a manner which we can be Proud of, and not judge those who possess a different outlook on life. When we do something that does not coincide with our values, we take responsibility and make amends. We strive to instill a sense of Faith, Love, Respect, Courage, and Compassion in our children. We Respect Our children and are realistic about their abilities. We love them unconditionally, and support them in every aspect of life; however, we also challenge them to step outside their comfort zone and explore the infinite possibilities in life. We do the best we can for Our family, and treat everyone we meet with the consideration we would appreciate; we attempt to be the change we want to see in the world.

Autism Action – The third step is to advocate for ALL people, especially those in the Autistic community, to be treated with Thoughtful Consideration at ALL times.
How people choose to take action will differ. We all have our own way of assisting our Autistic loved ones in reaching their God-given potential, while educating others on the best way to interact with them. There is no right or wrong way to take action, simply do what is best for your family, and the rest will follow. We should remember that the road to success is paved with Progress NOT Perfection. Personally, we are very involved in our Autistic daughter’s education and therapies, because communication between everyone in her life is essential to maintaining a healthy balance in her development. We also make sure that she has more than ample time to just be a kid, the sillier the better. We mainly concentrate on teaching both our children the basics of life, with our own Au-Some style. We work on all the areas other parents do, we simply approach those lessons differently some times. When we are presented with a teachable moment with someone who crosses our path, we take the opportunity to share parts of Our Journey. We attempt to emphasize the positives, of which there are many, when discussing Our Autistic Journey with people. We admit that our path can be difficult, and is often quite different than other roads traveled; however, we also experience numerous joys that others tend to miss along the way. Autism, like life, it is filled with the Good, the Bad and Everything in between; it can be an exhausting journey, but it is also extremely rewarding, which is why we always try to view Our Journey through Positive eyes and Thankful hearts. One Day at a Time, we attempt to be the change we want to see in the world.

 

Happy World Autism Day

 

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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.

W is for WORRY

W is for WORRY

W is for WORRY

Worry is defined as:  “thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. As an emotion it is experienced as anxiety or concern about a real or imagined issue, usually personal issues such as health or finances or broader ones such as environmental pollution and social or technological change” – Wikipedia

Who doesn’t Worry? We all worry, many of us from childhood. Some will worry about trivial things, and others save the worrying for the major stuff.

What does Worrying accomplish? Nothing, because worrying will not change what is meant to be. It only exhausts you mentally, physically and spiritually.

How do we stop the vicious cycles created by Worry? I don’t know. How to make better use of your thoughts and emotions is something only you can answer. Personally this is what helps me keep the Worry Monster at bay:  I work my program, trust in my Higher Power, take life One Day At A Time, and rejoice in the blessings which present themselves throughout the day.

My ex-husband said to me many times: “Stop worrying, it is such a wasted emotion.” I remember thinking at the time that was his way of not caring, or being inconvenienced by whatever crisis I was obsessing over at the time. This was long before I accepted that my life was complete chaos all the time, way before I admitted that the martyr part of me relished conflict and anxiety, light-years before I found Al-Anon and started on the path to recovery. I still worry, but at least now I can try to Let Go and Let God; sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but when it does it work, it is a wonderful feeling of freedom.

As parents, there is so much to plan for and fret about. We invest all of our energy into attempting to be the best parent possible, while fearing all the time that we are failing. We put an extreme amount of unnecessary pressure on ourselves, when we should be focusing that energy on enjoying life with our greatest miracles; our beautiful, intelligent children. If we enter their world more, and spend less time in anxiety-land, we will see the endless possibilities  in everything around us, as we learn and explore with our children. If we love our children unconditionally, provide them a solid foundation, bolster their self-esteem, and support them in all their endeavors, then we will always be the BEST parents to them.

A passage from Hope For Today, which I read often, when I feel myself spiraling out-of-control, and losing sight of the joys in Our life:

“Denial steals from me the ability to see my situation clearly and honestly. Stubborn self-reliance wipes out the guidance and comfort available from my Higher Power. Resentment erodes love and goodwill in my relationships with others. Obsessive worrying raids my willingness to accept and enjoy life as it is.”

Worry “Our Way” is defined as: “An endless cycle filled with negativity and fear, which depletes our entire being, and prevents us from enjoying the daily blessings, of love and laughter, with Our family.”
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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.

Seeking New Voice

Beth said something to me yesterday that cut me to the quick, and has left me with an aching heart. Henry was laying on the couch (not doing what I wanted him to) and I snapped something in his direction, he bit back and I had to have the last word, or so I thought. Beth looked right at me and said: “Mommy don’t yell at Daddy! Stop, no yelling!” My heart broke and I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I told her I wasn’t yelling at daddy, which I wasn’t, but I also wasn’t talking very nicely to him either. I assured her it was okay, and I made sure to watch my tone the rest of the day, but the damage was already done. This image came to mind continuously throughout the day:

childsinnervoice

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I am giving my children a horrible inner voice. When I really listen to how Beth talks to Anne, or how Anne talks to the cats, it is not nice. I reprimand them and tell them to use nice words, and not to be mean; however I realize they are simply copying me. More often than not, I have always been surrounded by people who lack respect for others, treat them poorly and say nasty things without a second thought. I have had many people in my life that prided themselves on “Telling it Like It Is” and demeaning people to make them do whatever they desired. I also grew up with a fear of adults raising their voice, because that was always the precursor to something horrible happening to someone I loved. I became a master diffuser, and tried to bring harmony to every tense situation I encountered in life. The problem is that no matter how much peace and positivity I bring to others, I am cruel to myself. The voice in my head is extremely hard and unforgiving when it comes to my actions. In Al-Anon, I am working on overcoming this negativity and learning how to be kind to myself, but it is a slow journey.

I swore I would pass on the unconditional love, which several others in my life taught me, to my children. I vowed to give them a good example of how to have a beautiful inner voice. Although I have pro-actively eliminated the majority of the situations that helped me form my ugly inner voice, I have yet to eradicate those emotions from myself, and they come out much too often for my liking. Unfortunately, because they are like second-nature to me, sometimes I don’t even realize the unpleasant tone I am using until someone points it out to me. Sometimes that person is Henry, sometimes it is Marie, but most times it is my girls showing me the true affect of my words and tone. It is in these moments, that I hate myself and am filled with shame; however, those negative thoughts and emotions will help no one, so I must be vigilant to not wallow in them.

I must learn to love and respect myself. I must learn to talk nicely to myself. I must learn to be kind to myself. I must forgive myself when I make a mistake.  Once I can learn to do these things for myself, then I can treat others in a manner which I am proud of. This is where my program and Al-Anon family are essential to a new way of living life. They love me when I cannot love myself, and my sponsor continually reminds me that the groundwork of life is based in “Progress NOT Perfection.” I want to provide a solid foundation of Faith, Love and Respect for my girls. I want them to naturally follow the positive path and see all its beauty. The only way I can provide them the best chance at this dream, is to start living it for myself.

Keeping in mind a much read passage from Hope for Today:

“Practicing the Al-Anon program is akin to putting on an oxygen mask. I’m encouraged to do the things needed for my health, stability, and growth. These include eating well, getting enough rest, examining my behavior and correcting it when necessary, sharing my thoughts and feelings with others, asking for help, praying and meditating, and getting involved with my Al-Anon community. Only then, when I have care of these responsibilities to myself, am I strong enough to help others.”

I think I will print this image out and put it on the fridge, as a visual reminder to Talk Nice for myself, my relationships, and most importantly, my children:

POSTER-TALKTOYOURSELF-TWMED-e1320267710313

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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.

A New Way of Loving Food

It is no secret that Henry and I are obese; we are both at least 100+lbs overweight. Fortunately we are tall and we seem to carry it better. Most people do not believe me when I tell them what I weigh. It is also no secret that we, more often than not, make poor food choices and have absolutely no portion control. Our excuses have always been we LOVE food, and want to enjoy it. We often joke about being fat and happy, because all the skinny “calorie-counters” we know are miserable. You can be as glib and silly as you want, until your love for the wrong foods interferes with your life, then its time for things to change.

dn3

Henry was diagnosed with Type II diabetes last year. He is struggling in several areas, and his diagnosis explains a lot. Until recently he was taking the medicine, but had not given any thought to changing his diet. I refuse to be his food warden! If my life experience and Al-Anon have taught me anything, it is that you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. People must choose for themselves how they want to live and what quality of life they want. I do not want people making life choices for me, and I refuse to make them for him; I simply love and respect him too much to attempt to control him. Henry is tired of feeling like crap, and dealing with his other issues, and has decided it is time for a change. He is attempting to change his lifestyle, so he can be healthier and feel better. As his partner, not his boss, I will be by his side to support and assist him in anyway; however, the best way I can help is by making better choices myself.

I am currently 293lbs, the only time I have ever been heavier than this, is when I delivered both my children. The depressing part is that a year ago, I was making real progress and was almost to my pre-Beth weight of 242lbs. Honestly,  242lbs is still too much weight for me to be carrying; my goal is to get under 200lbs by this time next year. My biggest problem is that I am a stress eater. I always crave ALL the wrong foods when I am stressed or depressed. Even though I don’t eat a lot of food in one sitting, I tend to finish all the girls food, because I can’t stand to waste anything; and I use my nervous energy to snack a lot. As if that isn’t bad enough, I am always looking for the quick fix to boost my energy, because I am exhausted most of the time. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I have become that mom who needs to live on ibuprofen and heating/ice packs to truly enjoy her children. I am in constant pain.  Whether it is my headaches, the arthritis in my knees, the pain in my back or the latest pulled muscle due to lack of strength and toning, it doesn’t really matter where it hurts anymore, it is the fact that something hurts EVERY day, and I am tired of it! I simply don’t want to be that mom who is too overweight and out-of-shape to play with her kids and enjoy their childhood with them. I also don’t want to be in chronic pain anymore. I want to do better, MUCH better. I want to break the vicious cycle of stress/food/depression; I have decided it is time for a change.

My Al-Anon family and program remind me to keep the focus on me, to take care of myself and to make myself a priority. In the past year, I have been doing well at working my program on the spiritual level; however, I am failing on the physical level. I found my Al-Anon family because I was tired of repeating the same destructive, depressing, and stressful patterns in my life. How I ever thought I could only concentrate on one area is beyond me. Apparently, I just needed time to realize that I need to work on the entire package that is ME. When I dream of the legacy I want to leave my girls it is one of love, acceptance, faith, joy and hope. In order to help them build a solid foundation on their path, I must show them how to live a healthy life, both physically and spiritually.

Henry and I are embarking on a new path. We have to learn a whole new way of loving food. This journey will definitely be one of “Progress Not Perfection.” I expect there will be quite the struggle between the old and the new ways of viewing everything we put into our bodies. We just have to remember that this is not a race, and we need to take our time, so that we make this life change a positive experience for our family. We must keep our eye on the prize, which is being healthy and living a quality life, not only for ourselves, but for our beautiful girls as well. So we begin our journey, Baby Stepping our way to loving food in a healthier manner, to be Healthy Parents to our Extraordinary Children.

 

 

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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.

2013 Firkins

First of all, I really like the word Firkin, and never miss an opportunity to use it. It is one of those words my family has used, well, ever since I can remember. It is also one of those words, which my husband refers to as my family’s own made-up secret language.  Aaahhh, but I digress. I have 2 firkins for 2013 that my beautiful daughters decorated for me. The one panel, I directed which stickers I wanted, but all the others, were their unique designs. As you can see, the rainbows were Beth’s favorite sticker.

jars2

Over the years I have accepted the fact that I stink at New Year’s Resolutions. They are fresh in my mind at the beginning of the year, but as time goes by they start to fade and after a few months, they are no longer a priority. I decided this year I would not make any resolutions, because I tend to use my failure to follow-through on them as a way to abuse myself.  Since I am learning to be nicer to myself, this year I was looking for a new approach. As fate would have it, the two areas I really want to concentrate on, came to me on FaceBook. There are always signposts on our journey, and I am going to make it my goal to follow these 2 guides right through to the end of 2013.

The first area I want to focus on is spiritual. I want to consciously practice being thankful for the abundance of blessings in our life. Even the tough times can be a blessing, if they help you grow and learn something new. Part of my “sickness” is to always revert to the role of martyr. I tend to only focus on the negatives in situations, and often see myself as the victim of some cosmic plot. Once I board the darkside train, it is really hard to escape, and I end up stressed, depressed and cranky. This past year, in working my program, I have made great progress in this area; however, it is a constant struggle between the Angels and Devils in my mind. So when I saw the Blessing Jar photo on Just Feelin’ Good’s page, it was like a neon sign beckoning to me. Thus Firkin #1 is my Blessing Jar, and I look forward to New Year’s Eve, so I can review my year of spiritual treasures. I bought rainbow colored paper to write my notes on, and am making an effort to write one note per day. I write my note before bed, so that I may go to bed with a thankful heart. So far, I have 10 notes of thanks in my jar, I hope to have 365 when it comes time to open and reflect, so I can start 2014 on a cloud of gratitude, pride and joy.

The second area I want, and honestly need, to focus on is better planning and discipline in financial matters. We went through a bankruptcy 3 years ago. It was not our proudest moment, but it was truly our only option. Upon completing the process, we swore we would be better in the future, and not repeat our mistakes. Although we have improved in some areas, we have a long way to go in others. Currently we live paycheck-to-paycheck, have no savings, and carry considerably more debt than I am comfortable with. We get by well enough, and our kids never want for the basics, but there are not a whole lot of extras either. Every year, we say we have to get our act together and find a better way. Sometimes we make progress, and sometimes we stumble backward. As I try to plan my budgeting tools more effectively, I also really need for us to start saving money. I think we all need a nest egg to provide some peace of mind. Usually when we set a goal, we use the go-big-or-go-home motto, but this time again the fates showed me a more realistic approach. I was scrolling through my feed when I saw the 52 Week Money Challenge, which a friend had shared from another friend. I am not sure of its origin, but what a great idea for those of us who need to baby-step our way to a savings account.  Thus Firkin #2 is my Money Saving Jar. You start with $1 the first week, and increase your “deposit” by $1 every week, until the last week of the year, when you add $52. Currently, I have $3 in my jar, and I am optimistic for my ability to complete the challenge, and pray the Angels will keep me on track. I already know, being me, that around week 25 I will start to get squeamish, because things are usually pretty tight; However, God always provides, and I am putting this in His hands, with all my faith and gratitude for His blessings.

Here are my jars as of today, I look forward to seeing them both full of Hope, Faith and Accomplishment on December 31st.

jars6

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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.

Al-Anon One Year Anniversary

January 3rd is a BIG day for me, it is the day I committed to my Al-Anon program in 2012, which makes today my One Year Anniversary with Al-Anon. I am filled with pride, thankfulness, excitement, apprehension, love, curiosity, and most days, serenity.

In the first year of working my program, I achieved the first three steps, or at least as much as any of us do. I think the steps are a constant work in progress. We may complete them and move to the next, but we never know when we will need to revisit them again. Personally over the past year, I have done Step One at least three times. Steps Two and Three just kind of came to me, I cannot put a definite date of completion on them. I simply know in my heart, and by my outlook on life, that I have done them. It is amazing how my life has changed for the better as a result of working my program with the wonderful support of my Al-Anon family. Today I read one of the best ways to sum up the first three steps: “I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let Him.” in my Blueprint for Progress. My foundation has been laid through embracing the First, Second and Third Steps. Now it is time to build my house of serenity and love, by embarking on the Fourth Step.

This year my goal is to work on, and hopefully complete, the HUGE Step Four: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I will be utilizing many program tools in my journey this year, and one that will be by my side the entire way is the Blueprint for Progress.

ALP-91_6

I have been contemplating Step Four for some time now, and I must admit that it scares me; however, I feel that I am finally ready to begin taking a realistic and thorough look at myself. Through Step Four I hope to discover all my positives and negatives, so that I can work on building on my strengths to overcome my weaknesses. I have many years of hurt, anger, fear, resentment, sadness, disappointment, martyrdom, shame, guilt, etc… to examine and work through. Although it would be easy to simply blame others, I know through the grace of Al-Anon that we all play a part in every situation. By working Step Four, I am asking God to help me see my part in all the events of my life, so I can take responsibility and see what I may need to do differently in order to heal and be a better me in the future. As it states in Blueprint for Progress: “Being aware of what we did yesterday can help us understand and accept who we are today, so tomorrow we can become the people we want to be.”

Today I celebrate my One Year Anniversary with Al-Anon and look to the future with a hopeful heart. I give thanks everyday for the miracle of Al-Anon when I see and talk to my Al-Anon family, when I read Conference Approved Literature, when I read my Daily Thoughts and Meditations, and when I pay it forward by sharing my story with others. Thank you for letting me share my journey with you, I am far from perfect, but most days I make progress toward becoming the woman I know I was meant to be.

alanon 1 year bronze coin

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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.

Surgery Day

Today was the BIG day, surgery day, for Beth to have a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

We got our girl up right before it was time leave, about 5:20am, changed her diaper, slipped her coat and hat on, and were on our merry way. She watched Cinderella on the way to the hospital, and although she was apprehensive when we first arrived, she quickly warmed up, and really impressed everyone with her Au-Someness, including her proud momma.

Once we were settled in Pre-Op, she set her bed for a tea party, which of course included her new favorite toy, the talking cookie jar. We had a lovely tea party, and even nurse Mary was offered tea, which she said was delicious. The great thing about Nurse Mary is that she was Henry’s pre-op nurse last December, when he had his back surgery and she remembered us. She also loved Beth, and could not say enough wonderful things about her, and even came to check on her in our private recovery room.  The funniest part of our tea party was when daddy “ate” too many cookies and Beth scolded him: “Dad Pleeease! That’s IT, you go out there!” and pointed out in the hallway. Oh my, we all could not stop laughing, except Beth who seriously thought daddy needed a time out, until he tickled his way back into her good graces with her favorite shark puppet.

We were busy counting cookies when Dr. W came in to discuss the surgery and make sure all the prep was done. She greeted him quite happily and then something amazing happened. When he was leaving she wanted to shake his hand, just like mommy and daddy did. She was very cute and shy about it, but also beamed with pride when we told her how Au-Some she was. Not surprisingly, when the anesthesiologist came in, he was greeted with a shy smile and handshake right away. She did so well with all the staff and was playing, talking and smiling right up to when they took her choo-choo-ing away for the operating room. Dr. W said she was even fine back there until they put the mask on, then she started to get agitated, but was asleep before she could even cry.

We barely had time to make our calls saying she was in surgery and settle in the waiting room, when they called us to meet with Dr. W. her surgery only took about 35 minutes. He said her tonsils were HUGE and touching, which we already knew. He then explained that they rate adenoids on a scale from 1(normal/small) – 4(large/completely blocking sinus passage), Beth’s were a 3. Once we talked to doctor, they took me back to initial recovery room right away. She had been a bit wild when she woke up, so they gave her some medicine to calm her down in her IV, until I could get there. The second time she woke up, she cried for a few minutes, but quieted down quickly once she was snuggled in my lap. After that she was talking to Nurse Jan and was quite concerned for the other children in the recovery room. Many of them were crying, screaming, kicking, and biting the staff. Beth said: “Oh no mommy! I hear it, the babies crying, they sad.” Then when some of the monitors were beeping, she was talking to Jan about those. On the way to our private recovery room, she was talking up a storm and scripting the take-off sequence from Little Einsteins, which was actually quite appropriate, because of recliner on wheels could very well have been a magical rocket.

Once in the private recovery room, she was in-and-out of a very restless sleep, as her body tried to process the anesthesia. She was crying from disorientation, almost as much as pain, but she asked for water right away. We were so excited to see her drink! In her first hour-and-a-half of recovery she had drank almost 8oz of apple juice/water. Around 11am, we were able to get some pain meds into her by mixing them with juice. With the comforts of her weighted blanket and lovey, plus the Tylenol with Codeine, her coloring got much better and she finally settled into a peaceful sleep.  Nurse Maggie took great care of our girl, and by 1:30 she had drank almost 13oz of water/juice and had 2 wet diapers, so we were ready to go home. It was such a relief to be taking her home, so she could recover in her own bed.

On the way home she watched the end of Cinderella, and drank a few more ounces of water, she even had a little smile when we got home. We brought her up and got her settled on the couch, and managed to get a few more ounces of water into her, before she fell asleep. That was the end of the smooth sailing. After that she would not drink anything else, especially any of the juices that we tried to mix her pain medicine into. After repeated attempts, she was so suspicious, that she would not drink water either. Then her temperature was going up, she was obviously in pain, and could not nap. I was becoming a sad, worried mommy, so I called the doctor. We ended up using Tylenol suppositories to help relieve her fever and pain, wrapped her neck with our cold rice sock, and just took turns cuddling her in the recliner. Finally after 4 hours, she took a few sips of water, which eventually led to a few ounces of water. Although she is not drinking as much as we would like, she is having consistent wet diapers, and we are doing the best we can to keep her comfortable. Henry and I will be taking shifts tonight to monitor her and be at her beck-and-moan. Praying she gets some rest and starts healing tonight.

Words cannot even express my gratitude for how this day unfolded. By the grace of God and my program, I was calm and confident all day. I just knew that she was going to be fine, and that she would be coming home with us. I just never imagined how well she would do with everything, from start to finish. So many of the staff commented on how well she was doing, what a pleasure it was to work with her, how sweet she was, how she didn’t seem autistic. That was when I saw my opportunity to spread some awareness and acceptance. I took advantage of the opening to brag about Early Intervention, our amazing school district, and our extraordinary therapists. I explained how important it is to get in-tune with your child and help them build on their strengths, because every child’s strengths present differently. I proudly told them that yes she is Autistic, and yes she is making wonderful progress and yes our Autistic children are wonderful blessings to all who know them. Every child is unique and every child should be celebrated, and hopefully today, I helped a few miracle workers understand that a bit better. What an absolutely amazing day, thank you for all your prayers and well wishes, because they certainly were felt and added extra magic to a miraculous day. So much to celebrate, our cup runneth over…

ty prayers

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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.

2 posts in 1

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I intended to post a Christmas greeting, but was too busy playing with the kids to get on the computer. I did say a Christmas prayer for everyone though and hoped that everyone was counting endless blessings to celebrate Jesus’s birthday.

We did Christmas differently this year, to give Beth a bit of a break. We celebrated Christmas Eve on Sunday, with our family, who we typically would have seen on Monday. Then Monday we stayed home and kept it a low-key day as her body tried to regulate back to its normal state. Tuesday we had a wonderful Christmas morning at home playing with some of the girls’ gifts. They even ate breakfast in their new wagon, Big Red. In the afternoon we headed to my folks for a small family dinner and the girls had the extra treat of spending the night, while Henry and I enjoyed an impromptu date night. We went to the movies at our favorite theater, which serves food and adult beverages, to see The Hobbit, and it was AWESOME! We came home to a quiet house and had a real night’s sleep to prepare for the coming days. All in all, the holiday celebrations went well and were quite enjoyable, even though we greatly missed family that could not join us due to illness and scheduling conflicts. As long as everyone is healthy and Beth is up to it, we will be doing Christmas all over again on New Year’s Day with my in-laws, who were trapped in bed with bad sinus infections this holiday season.

 Christmas

So now that Christmas is over it is time for the next big event in our life. Beth is having surgery tomorrow to remove her tonsils and adenoids. She has had what we call the “mystery cough” at night, for almost a year now, which not only wakes her up, but keeps Anne from sleeping as well. After trying every possible treatment, we finally saw an ENT right after Thanksgiving.  The doctor is Au-Some and was actually able to look in her mouth, without her melting down or vomiting all over. God bless the man, he even crawled around on the floor with her, to conduct the full exam. We decided to wait until winter break to have the surgery, so she would not miss school. Unfortunately this plan backfired and she had a horrible virus which caused her to miss the last 2 weeks of school. Thankfully her teacher is AMAZING and sent us get well pictures with all her friends. At the moment Anne is at my parents’ house, and will be vacationing in the Land of Spoiled for a few days while we focus on Beth. We are to arrive at the hospital at 6am for a 7:30am surgery. If all goes well, and we have the best case scenario, she will be home recovering by the afternoon with lots of cuddles from mommy and daddy. If things do not go as we hope, then she will be admitted to keep her hydrated and manage her pain. We are preparing for the worst, but praying for the best. Fortunately she has quite a high pain tolerance, so as long as we can get her to drink fluids, then I think we can handle recovery at home. Henry is a nervous wreck, and there really is no comforting him until all is said and done. I am strangely comfortable with it, and I know I owe that to Al-Anon and my program. I have turned it over to God, and I am confident that everything will unfold as it is meant to, and I know she is going to do great, and will be so much better for having the surgery. I am also very excited at the prospect of being able to remove at least 3-4 medicines/supplements from her regiment, after she recovers from her surgery.

If you are inclined to pray, I would ask that you please keep Beth in your prayers during the coming days. We are praying for a successful surgery, followed by a quick and manageable recovery at home, because she has spent far too much time in the hospital already this year. I may not be around for a while, but I welcome the feeling of your prayers holding us tight in loving hugs tomorrow and in the days to follow.

bless 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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