The “L” Word

Don’t you just love when you think you know exactly the way your life is gonna go and then something unexpectedly wonderful happens that changes everything?  Well, that’s the theme of today’s post.  As promised, here’s the beautiful unfolding tale I mentioned in a recent gratitude list.

So which “L” word were you thinking about?  Love?  Life?  Learning?  This is an autism blog after all.  And all of those “L” words are appropriate.  But I actually meant to reference the Showtime series here, it wasn’t an accident that I picked this title.  It was intentional because I’ve fallen in love with the most amazing person I’ve ever met– and her name is Aubrey.

For so much of my life I had a vision of how things were supposed to be.  Many of my challenges have revolved around staying still long enough to allow the inside of me– my ideas and passions– to coordinate with the outside of me– my goals and projects.  It’s not that I wasn’t always open to allowing other people to be who they are, or that I thought everyone should fit inside some sort of “box” or category.  It’s not even that I felt like I myself should fit into one particular character or role.  It’s just that it has always been difficult for me to believe that anything is possible, to give my genuine attention to my deepest desires and most sincere wishes.  I tend to limit my possibilities by letting my logical, rational brain try to determine the “how” of things, instead of letting my heart be happy entertaining the bigger dreams.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie “The Secret” which is about the Law of Attraction:

“Grass doesn’t struggle to grow.  It’s effortless, it’s just perfectly designed that way.”

Every time I get to a point where I can let go of my preconceived notions about my life, where I can acknowledge there are greater forces at work in the universe and that I may be limiting myself by thinking that I actually *know* something about my future, miraculous things occur.  Enter Aubrey.

I graduated college, got married, bought a house, gave birth to a son.  I journeyed through autism diagnosis, early intervention, inclusion, special education with him.  I gave birth to a daughter and journeyed through the land of the typical and other health issues with her.  I survived, my marriage was steady for a long time.  Then the storms came, our home shook, the pressures were too much and it all seemed to collapse. 

Everything I thought I had, everything I thought I wanted, lay in a crumbled heap.  Kind of like the way the living room used to look after a long, crazy day– a jumble of toys and couch cushions and snacks and socks and leftover dinner plates and unfinished projects.  Only instead of all that stuff, there were unrealized dreams and changed expectations, puddles of tears shed for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on…  Sure, I knew I was grieving the loss of visions and hopes of what family life would be like for me and my husband, I was grieving for what I would never experience with Alex.  I was fine in Holland, just fine I told myself.  But somewhere in the back of my mind, Italy still called to me and I had to redirect my thoughts and translate its words into the language of autism mom.

My marriage finally broke under the weight of that crumbled heap of emotions and anxieties and misunderstandings and betrayals.  And I got divorced.  On the road to separation, I had to come to terms with the fact that it was a distinct possibility that I would never find love again, that I might indeed remain a single parent for a long time.  I took a deep breath, accepted this possibility, and began work on recovering my family life.

I created a safe space for myself and my children.  I moved some beloved pieces of my mother’s furniture into a new home.  And for the first time in a long time, I set my sights on intentionally creating *my* life and considering the key elements that help me feel calm and happy.  I opened my mind just to the possibility that my life could include a healthy, loving, cooperative relationship. 

My best friend teases me that I have a “magic journal,” that whenever I write from my heart a vision of how I want my life to be, that vision becomes reality.  Such power, right?  Well believe me, if I knew how this magic journal thing actually works, I’d wield that power to do a lot more good in the world.  For now I’m content with marveling at the good luck I’m afforded when I get clarity through my written words. 

At the suggestion of a relationship book author, I wrote down my ideal day.  Pictures in my head of what happens, what my partner says to me, how the day looks, feels and sounds.  I made it vivid and fun, I wrote words that made me smile, I included basketball for some odd reason (which I don’t play except when it’s baskesoccaling with my son).  Then I read it over and gave myself permission to sink into it and believe for just a moment that it was real.  I felt the joy of that day and I was thankful.

A couple weeks later, I met Aubrey.  I’ve now lived my ideal day many times over.  She is beautiful (my favorite word!), intelligent, accomplished in her profession, compassionate and warm.  She was captain of her high school basketball team (thanks, magic journal).  And I am so grateful for this new chance at true love.

autism home rescue 12231101

Do you have an extraordinary, out-of-the-box or just plain special autism-family love story? 

 Please share it with me via comment or email at autismhomerescue@gmail.com

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101

Freedom is instantaneous the moment we accept things as they are.

~Karen Maezen Miller

 Acknowledging the Elephant

Hannah-isms, Part 2

Hannie fish dressShe’s still at it folks!  Through good times and bad, my little Hannie keeps me laughing and I am so grateful.  If you missed the original Hannah-isms, read about my beautiful daughter and her amazing sense of humor here.

Disclaimer:  Anything goes when it comes to Hannah’s views on the world.  I suggest you put down your beverages now, before you end up laughing so hard you inhale them.

And now for your reading pleasure:

dog sitting‎6 year-old on pets & family dynamics:  “Ok Mom pretend you have a pet monkey.  Like I’m a monkey.  And Alex is not a monkey, he’s just a regular brother who has autism.  And he doesn’t like dogs & I don’t either cuz dogs are scary for monkeys…  oh!  & I can sing and do exercises in the bathtub…” 

halloween 2011 hannie & momSix year-old on really important things:  Hannah:  “Mommy, I am sooo sad.  Do you see how sad I am?  (makes pouty face)  I am just. so. sad. because…  (insert dramatic hand gesture here)  .. I wish the smurfs were real.  I mean, I am soo into smurfs now.  I like them more than Ariel.  And I wish they were real, and they could come into our house, and I could play with them, and…”  (Mommy’s eyes glaze over… my god, what have we done?…)

hannie riding her bikeSix year-old on biking:  (Hannah, big grin in store)  “I want the cool Barbie bike!!”  (5 mins later)  “This helmet is awesome, look at me!”  (20 mins later)  “When can I ride it??”  (30 mins later)  “Hurry up, get it out of the car, I want to go biking!”  (5 mins later)  “I am NOT riding that thing!”  (2 mins later)  “I didn’t say I wanted to RIDE it, but you CAN’T take it back!!”  (10 mins & several deep breaths by mom later)  “I know how to get on by myself!”  (10 seconds later)  “DON’T let go of me!”  (30 seconds later)  “I don’t care if it has training wheels, keep holding ON!”  (10 mins later)  “Look at me Mom! I’ll race ya!”  (20 mins later, back to the big grin)  “Can you BELIEVE I rode the whole way myself??”

hannie carouselSix year-old on expressions of love: 

(Hannah, spontaneously from the backseat of the car)  “Mom, I smurfin’ LOVE you!”  (Me, eyeing my kid in the rearview mirror, pausing to consider her inflection)  “I, uh, smurfin’ love you too baby.” 

(Hannah, 5 minutes later)  “Mom, I f*#&in’ LOVE you!”

Hannie made in the USASix year-old on mainstream fashion

(Hannah walks in wearing a pink Eagles baseball cap with a purple pen clipped to the brim)  “Ok Mom, when Aubrey comes over I wanna ask her about this.  Am I off?  Am I like way off?  Am I super off?  Did I hit the bullseye?  Am I on?  Did I get it right?  Am I totally on?  Or am I SUPER on?”

dinner by hannieDinner by Hannah:  ♥  Salad greens with multi-seed rice cracker crumbs & raisins;  Gluten-free mac & cheese with a smattering of ketchup mixed in, served cold;  Hand-prepared green beans;  Finely shredded Mexican cheese in a circle;  Water service;  Mint Hershey kiss  ♥  “Mom, I read all the boxes, everything said gluten-free!”  ♥  “I snapped all the beans myself!”  ♥  “You get dessert right on the plate!”  ♥  (and my personal fav)  “Wanna know how I got those glasses down from the highest shelf??”

Hannie leopard hat(Late for the first-grade breakfast)  Hannah:  “Mommy, do you know what a truant officer is?”  Me:  “Um, I think so.  Don’t they catch people when they’re late to school?”  Hannah:  “No.  A truant officer finds all the kids who are out having fun & puts them back in school where they belong.”  (long silence)  Me:  “So Hannah, who’s the one who catches the late people?  Cuz that’s who we gotta watch out for.”  Hannah:  “That would be an *adult* truant officer.”  (knuckle bump)

han with coconut and argoblasterSix year-old on importance of sleep:  “If we sleep slow, we get more rest.  If we get more rest, we have more energy.  If we have more energy, we do more work.  If we do more work, we get more money.  If we get more money, we can buy more things.”

 

Hannie pink basketballHannah:  (one hand on hip, the other raised palm forward) 

“Ok *enough* with the tiny hiney jokes.  That’s it Mom.  Enough.”

 

Six year-old re-enactments:  Apparently we had a “situation” with the smurfs last night.  Fortunately Barbie, Ken & their trusty companion were on the case with a butterfly net.

barbie ken and smurfs

:~) Quote for the Moment (~:

autismhomerescue11241101“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”

~ Dr. Suess

Click here for classic Hannah-isms!

(and stay tuned for even more!)

Grateful!

tree of lifeIt is raining today, but still I am grateful.  All the people I’ve spoken with for work have been cranky & depressed & difficult, but still I am grateful.  I didn’t run, I had a crappy breakfast, I’m kinda tired & coming down with a cold.  But still, I am grateful.  My son is in residential treatment, family members are struggling with finances & lay offs, my dad is being treated for cancer. 

But I am oh-so-grateful today!!  Wanna know why?

Because today I saw a facebook post from a friend who is cancer survivor.  She said her friend Rachel is “hanging on to see her baby turn 3 tomorrow.” 

“Cancer sucks, I’ll say a prayer.” I thought. 

So I looked up Rachel and I started to read her blog.  Just a few sentences changed everything for me today.  Go read about her journey, you will find inspiration.  Because of a brave, honest, beautiful woman I have never met, my gratitude list is longer today.

Gratitude girl

Today I am grateful for:

  • The rain.  It makes me have to be more aware of where I’m driving, it is cold & wet & I can feel it on my skin.  I have to react to it, have to experience it, and it reminds me I am part of a bigger world.  Nature surrounds me every day whether I agree with it or not.
  • Difficult people.  They call me at work because they need help.  When they don’t have the strength or ability to be calm & rational, sometimes I can be the calm they need.  I could hate my job today & complain about them.  Or I could see their crankiness as an opportunity to do something positive or at least to find the humor in my daily grind.
  • Residential treatment.  I saw Alex yesterday on his birthday.  He was freshly showered, had soft new pajamas, was in good spirits.  A bunch of the guys there– all kids around his age with autism– were watching “Alvin & the Chipmunks” (Alex’s favorite movie) in the common area outside his room.  One of the staff turned the overhead lights down so the lights from the newly decorated Christmas tree were sparkling, making the whole room pretty.  The kids were smiling– and yeah, some were flapping or jumping or rocking, but in a happy way.  Alex’s room felt cozy, he liked his Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup plush pillow I brought him, he gave me a hug.  I told the staff the place felt peaceful.  And when I left, I felt peaceful, too.

 

Thank you, God, for giving me this life and not someone else’s.  I am so grateful for my physical health, for my home, for the material things I have that give me comfort.  I can hug my kids, I know that they are safe.  I have love in my life, I have friends & family who sustain me through challenging times.  I am a child of the universe & I can feel that & know it.  I can recognize miracles & have the ability to talk about them and share my good fortune.  Thank you, thank you for all of that. 

Please Lord, help me to remember how blessed I truly am and to never take these things for granted.  Amen.

 

manifesting

Happy 11th Birthday Alex

charming alexDear Alex,

Last year on your birthday, I wrote a blog post which included some of my favorite memories of you through your first decade of life.  This year, as you begin your second decade, you are living away from me at a residential treatment center.  My heart is torn about this whole situation.  I love you so very much, I want you to be home with me & with Dad more than anything else.  But at the same time I know that the people where you are living now can give you tools for healing that I am not able to give you by myself.  This year I don’t care so much about organizing your birthday letter to make it memorable or sweet or funny.  This year I just want to tell you from my heart all that I love about you, how much I believe in you, how no matter where you are a part of my soul travels with you and always will.

Do you know, my beautiful boy, that I have always believed in you & your abilities?  You have never liked it when I’ve talked about you to the doctors, teachers, specialists.  I know that you understand every word I say and that you & I have a special almost-psychic connection.  Just like any boy with his Mom, you get embarrassed when I boast about your talents, you get frustrated when I talk about your challenges.  Sometimes you roll your eyes when I try to kiss you in public, or you pretend you are too cool & don’t hear what I say– but I know you take in every word.  When I need to talk about you, I choose my words very carefully.  I feel that if I need to convey important information, it is my responsibility to represent you in the most respectful, truthful, loving way possible.  To you maybe it seems like I disclose too much information, but please know that no matter what words I use, in my mind you are standing right beside me whispering to me all the thoughts you aren’t able to speak yourself. 

Do you know, my beautiful boy, how much I admire you?  Whenever you have been faced with new situations, you have always made the best of it.  I remember the first day I took you to preschool.  You weren’t sure what the heck I was doing, but you didn’t cry that first day.  You put your game face on, you jumped right in and tried it, and you made it through to the other side.  The second day you were a bit taken aback that I was bringing you to school again, but you weathered that day, too.  After that, we had all the typical separation anxiety & insecurity– just like any little boy would have– but you got through it just fine.  In your short life, you have had to be more adaptable & flexible than any other person I’ve known.  Change isn’t easy for you, your life circumstances have often been confusing or scary, but you have always bounced back from the rough spots.  Your resiliency inspires me.

alex hannah snowy dayDo you know, my beautiful boy, how proud I am of you?  Wherever you go, you make new friends.  You help other people.  You remember your little sister.  You make people laugh.  You invite others to play.  You give hugs freely.  You use the words you have to express the important things.  You ask for what you want.  You have a compassion for others that is deep & amazing, and when you hear someone in pain, you want to know that they have friends, that they are being helped, that they will be okay.

Dad and AlexDo you know, my beautiful boy, that you are loved?  Ever since you were born, the world has embraced you.  You have a big, close, loyal family.  But more than that, you have helped to build a truly remarkable village which surrounds us all.  There are many teachers, friends, neighbors, doctors, helpers from each year since you were a preschooler who regularly check-in to see how you are.  Many of them read this blog because it is important to them to know that you are okay because you touched their lives in such a big way that they will always remember you & love you.  There is quote from my favorite movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” which goes “No man is a failure who has friends.”  By that standard, at age 11, you are the most successful person I know.

mom and alexDo you know, my beautiful boy, that I will always be with you?  From before you were born, you & I have had a special, unique connection.  When I was pregnant with you, someone told me that “to have a child is to make the decision to forever have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  That probably sounds gross to your 11 year old ears, but what it means is that no matter where you are or where I am, I feel our special connection.  When you are happy, it makes me happy.  When you are sad, part of me cries too.  It’s like that feeling you get when you hold hands with someone and you know they are right there next to you.  That connection between us will last forever. 

alex workbookDo you know, my beautiful boy, how special you are to the world?  When you were very little, we started saying bedtime prayers together as a family.  Each night we would start with the same words:  “Dear God, this is Mommy & Alex, and tonight we pray to say thank you for making us a family together.  Please watch over all the people we love & keep them happy & healthy & safe.”  I told you then that God can hear all the words, even the words you have inside your head.  That is because you are important to the world, and everything about you was made to be unique & special.  I prayed that you would come into my life & be my son.  When you were born, I felt blessed in incredible ways.  But as you grew, I began to understand that Dad & I weren’t the only people blessed to have you in our lives, we were just the first two.  I realized that you are a gift to the world and that just through your being the person you are, you will change the world for the better in many ways.  

alex and mom in the mirrorDo you know, my beautiful Alex, how grateful I am to be your Mom?  I love you more than words.  I believe in you all the time.  And I look forward to sharing the next decade of your incredible journey with you.

 

Love,

Mom

xoxo

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