Weekly Photo Challenge: PURPLE

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This vine at my mother’s house had white flowers before she got sick.  Then the flowers died and she thought they wouldn’t come back.  But somewhere in the midst of her chemo treatment, the flowers returned with a beautiful purple hue.  They gave us all hope

I keep this photo in an album entitled “Things To Be Happy About” to remind me that anything is possible.

Weekly Photo Challenge: INSIDE

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When I think of the word “inside” I often think about what it means to “go inside oneself” and where that is exactly.  This week’s photo challenge seems fitting because for the last several days  I’ve been inside my head pondering the many changes that have happened in my family recently and wondering what lies ahead for us.

When I snapped this picture two years ago, I simply asked Hannie to show me her best “yoga pose.”  We had finished our first family yoga class, but even before she had been officially introduced to yoga or learned the name of a single pose, she seemed to innately understand that yoga involves mindfulness, closing one’s eyes and going “inside.”  Indeed, the reason I felt a push to take her to class was because there was so much chaos going on in our family life then, I was reaching out for any way I could help her begin to learn how to connect to her “inside” place.  Little did I know that inside her 5 year old mind, she was already making those connections.

When I showed this same picture to one of Alex’s teachers at his specialized school for kids with autism, she also fell in love with it.  She printed a beautiful color copy and drew lines underneath for Alex to write a story about it.  He wrote:

“Hannah is my little sister, she is great. 

She is sitting down for yoga map.”

He wrote “map” for “mat,” not fully understanding why people use yoga mats or need anything special to help them sit like that.  But I think he also kinda “got” something else about the picture– that his little sister was tapping into a resource, something inside, that was helping her.  Thinking about it that way, maybe sitting for “yoga map” is fitting– because a map is supposed to help us get where we’re going, isn’t it?

The picture, with Alex’s neatly printed summary, is framed in Hannah’s room.  I hope that as she looks at it over the years, she’ll be reminded of all that is inside her that she can access any time to help with whatever is happening in her life on the outside.  And also that she will remember her brother (and the people who love her) recognize how special she is, whether she is interacting with the world, or going inside to find her own strength.

Finding this photo and writing this post has actually helped me feel more compassionate toward myself today.  I tend to be self-critical when I retreat inside and hide in my turtle shell.  But maybe this week, going inside has just been my mind’s way to connect with my map and move to where I need to be.

angry words and the mountain.

angry words and sharp comments
confusion, escalation, debate
misunderstanding stings
I feel shaken,
whipped around by the tones in your voice
 
heart racing and leaping
grasping at words as they fall away
down the sides of the mountain
that sprung up between us
it’s all wrong, my words twisted & thrown
… not what I meant, not what I mean…
 
frantic I try to put thoughts back together
and find my way back to the core
 
voices quieter now.
tears and a nod
a hug but it’s hollow
and panic is lingering
lonely and lonelier still…
there’s nothing to do but let the tears come
and stare out the window
watching the sky
 
… please help me come back …
…are you there? … are you gone?
 
it’s crushing, fast breaths
grief floods the insides
words scroll through my mind,
and I realize …
I’m talking out loud to myself
 
I try & I cry & I’m hopeless at this
fumbling, throwing out thoughts
nothing helps …
but I pound my fists on this mountain
as I cry & I try
desperate to find you again
 
the words lay in heaps on the ground where I sit
and the mountain looms large in the fore
I miss you, I’m broken
but finally listening…
I can find my way back to you now
 
I return with hands open, with words set aside
to hear your heart beat and your breath
my fingers tangle your hair, I let go and I soften
to feel the end of the journey apart
 
my back to the mountain
I breathe slowly once more
and give thanks that the climb didn’t break us
we found our way through, can we always do that?
I am grateful to simply be here.

A Lemon for my Water

autism home rescue 07131201Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the most difference.  I’ve been trying to drink more water and the thought occurred to me our filtered office water might taste fresher with some lemon juice.  So I walked past my favorite coffee shop on the way back to my desk and asked for a lemon.  My girl Kristin over there, who’s always quick with a joke and a sly teasing comment about how high maintenance I can be, handed over a perfectly wrapped little lemon slice and said, “Hey that’s wrapped gold right there!” with a wink.  It was perfect.

To know and be known.  I think that’s what everyone really wants in life.  For people around to notice you, to consider you with kindness, to genuinely care.  I’m aware that I can be high maintenance and very particular when it comes to important issues, but really the things that make me most happy are so little.  A slice of lemon is truly gold to me today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about why it means so much to me to be known lately.  Perhaps it has to do with the space my mother’s death left in my life.  She certainly knew me better than just about anyone else, yet I often felt a tug-of-war for her attention.  She was busy and involved, running around experiencing life, traveling, doing good out there in the big world.  Sometimes I felt I had to jump up and down to get her to slow down and take notice of me.  And when she did, it meant everything.  Like the time she scolded me about parking in the neighbor’s space and I threw a little fit and left to run an errand.  When I came back, I was still tense and cranky, but trying to let the feeling go.  Mom hugged me immediately—she didn’t even wait until I put the groceries down—and said, “I know the parking space isn’t most important, the most important thing is we are here together.”  My crankiness melted away.  She knew me.

In everyday life, maybe it’s not just about feeling known, but also about my own perceptions of the quirky little things that come naturally to me.  If I see someone wearing earrings I like, I’ll comment on them and tell her so.  If I have questions about a product or service, I’ll ask.  If someone offers to help and I need it, I’ll try to let them know what would be most helpful in that moment—because I take for granted the fact that people are basically good and most folks aren’t apathetic, they actually want to know how to get involved.  I certainly don’t think I’m alone in what I notice or what I need and want, but I may be in the minority when it comes to the ability to open my mouth and comment, ask, or talk about elephants in the room.

Another one of my coffee shop friends, Amanda, made me an amazing cup of Hawaiian Coconut coffee this morning with just the right amount of soymilk and Splenda, exactly how I like.  I thanked her and commented on how good it feels to be known to someone else.  As she carefully pressed a white coffee cup lid onto my favorite ceramic mug from home, she replied that all her life she has wanted to be a “regular” at a local coffee shop and be able to walk in and have someone know just what to serve her.

And you know what?  For the rest of the day, I’ll be thinking about that and wondering what small part I might be able to play in giving her that feeling for just a minute.  Because sometimes that little “slice of gold” just means everything.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Movement

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My kids are fast, so I take multiple shots.

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I try to frame it so there’s motion from one side of the picture.

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I try to catch “off balance” postures (like Hannie here).

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I sometimes use water …

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or objects that imply motion (the slide).

Who’s the MOTORCYCLE visitor?

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I just wanted to have a place to put my thoughts.  Partly to share, partly to vent, partly to advocate and partly just to write!  I never dreamed I’d end up with a following of so many different people from around the globe, those whose lives have been touched by autism, and those who are friends of autism families, artists, writers, engineers, people from every walk of life imaginable.  And I think the fact that you all are reading is pretty super cool!

I’m often curious about who’s out there and I’m always excited when I find a new blogger or reader with whom I connect.  I’m all about the connection– if you haven’t already guessed that! –and if you met me in the local grocery store, you’d know me right away because I’d be the one to strike up a conversation in the cracker aisle or the checkout line or while waiting at the deli.  I can’t help it, I find people fascinating.  I don’t judge, I am awed and amazed by the world around me, and I soak up interaction with it.

Soooo….

The reason for this post today is that over the last few weeks a strange and wonderful thing has happened to my site stats.  They’ve gone up, which is always a good sign.  But the funny part is that one reason they’ve gone up is because there is a reader out there who apparently loves motorcycles.  Motorcycle images, and– I’m guessing– writing about motorcycles (or at least the word “MOTORCYCLE” itself).

A few months back I put up a post about Alex’s communication called “The Word Behind the Words: MOTORCYCLE.”  And thanks to the person or people out there with the passion for motorcycles, it has now become one of my more popular pieces of writing.

I write all this not to single out or embarrass the very dear reader or readers who have clicked on my posts.  But actually to thank you.  What you pay attention to, what you’re passionate about, has somehow led you to my little piece of cyberspace and I am grateful to have you here!

I am curious about who you are because I know that were there a blogger out there who wrote about “lamps” or “marble runs” they would get a thousand hits a day from my son whenever he’s on the computer.  And I’m wondering if you’re drawn in the same way to motorcycle words and images.  Or if you’re researching a paper.  Or if you’re interested in language and piecing together the puzzle of the “word behind the words.”  Or perhaps you like (or dislike) something else about the post, the page, the words & pictures.  Maybe you’ve got feedback for me.

At any rate, whoever you are, dear motorcycle lover, I appreciate your interest and your clicks on Autism Home Rescue.  I wish you the best of luck in your life, your work and your future searches!

Sincerely,

Cathy K

the ride.

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I just wanna be the mom.

Alex’s head rests on my shoulder in the waiting room, my arm across the back of his chair.  He lets me kiss his hair.  He doesn’t feel good.  I know, his father knows.  We need someone to explain why.

Another puzzle.  His belly, his behavior.  Specialists.  A second appointment.  “You do know your child best.”  Consult, consult, re-evaluate, adjust.

The weight of Alex’s body against mine grounds me because I know he is seeking comfort and he finds it in that unspoken connection.  It is communication and I know what it means, I understand and don’t second guess.

I just wanna be the mom, the one to stroke his hair and bring him soup.  To talk softly or read books.  To let him rest on my lap.

But so much of the time that’s not how it seems to go.  Parents lead teams, fight for justice, find answers, forge new paths…. don’t we?

< sigh >

I am just the mom.  Maybe I’m supposed to feel as if I’m on a horse charging through the forest, riding on to victory!  Wind in my hair, a confident counterpart to a powerful animal leaping obstacles.  Adrenaline rush and excitement at conquering the challenge!

But no, my reality feels more like the Teacup Ride at the amusement park.  Tinny carnival music slightly off key, clanking of safety locks & bars, the whir of start up after a half-hearted warning about risks & keep-your-hands-and-feet-inside-the-car by a lazy, monotone, uninterested attendant.  Then the exhilarating feeling of leaning to the right to be abruptly yanked to the left into an endless circle.  Sliding along the seat, bumping into your cup-mates, grabbing the wheel in the middle to stay stable– and wondering who else might turn it at full force to make your stomach flip flop as you fly around again at nauseating speed.

If you resist the momentum or try to focus on real life beyond the ride, you feel sick.  If you yield to the movement, you find a fleeting thrill– maybe even a joyous freedom.  Then it ends too soon and you’re back to the hot, crowded line to wait for another try.  It’s the resistance that causes pain.  And whether you ride without resistance or not, you’re likely to make yourself sick anyway.

I just wanna be the mom.

I hold my breath and attempt a calm smile, an even tone, picturing a ballroom dancer in a flowing dress being led by her partner around the dance floor, poised gracefully to be turned and dipped and spun at will.  Giving the illusion of control and strength, able to dance without falling, to step without causing pain, to perform a role.

“Yes, we have the information you requested.  Could you please tell us when we might be seen?”

All the while, my mind seeks answers, spinning like a tea cup, trying to focus, feeling confused and frustrated, wondering why this all can seem so hard.

I just wanna be the mom.  I was born to be the mom.  Not the spinning performer, the equestrian archer, the triumphant solver-of-problems!

When it all comes to a complete stop, when my day ends and the safety locks slide apart, I find my footing and move again to the sidelines.  I feel tired.  My head rests on Aubrey’s shoulder and I sink just a bit, as her arms wrap around me, holding me still to stop the spinning inside.  There is relief in that unspoken connection.  It is communication and I know what it means, I understand and don’t second guess.

I still just wanna be the mom.

I will try again tomorrow.

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