~* Happy Two Year Anniversary, Dear Blog *~

On August 29th, 2010, I put up my first post and officially created “Autism Home Rescue.”  All of my readers were either sitting at my kitchen table with me, or were my Mom.  Still, it was an important beginning and I’m proud of how this little blog has grown, expanded horizons and become a place for reflection, celebration and sharing.

On this two year anniversary, I invite you to go back to the beginning and read my very first post.  Then please comment or email me at autismhomerescue@gmail.com to tell me what you think of my sticky, crumb covered first try.  All best wishes!

With love & gratitude,

Cathy K

August 29, 2010:  I am no warrior mom….

My Brother Is ‘The Biter’: On Smashing Guitars, Owning Hard Truths, and Coming Through with Love

Today, I’m pleased to share Autism Home Rescue’s first-ever guest post from Caroline McGraw!  Caroline is a would-be childhood paleontologist who digs for treasure in people.  Her younger brother, Willie, has autism, and she writes about finding meaning in the most challenging relationships at A Wish Come Clear.

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It takes a great deal of courage to say, as Cathy did, “My child is the biter.” 

It’s hard when your brother is the biter (and the bruiser, the head-banger, the one who punches holes through walls).  It’s hard when you’re living next door to him, and you don’t feel safe enough to fall asleep at night. 

But harder still is the feeling of disconnection, the fear that the person you once knew is gone forever.  That, more than the cuts and bruises, triggers anger.  Anger that wells up inside you and threatens to explode.  If you’re like me, you never thought you could feel such anger

And you never thought you’d feel such paradoxical desires; one moment, you’re wishing that this violent person would disappear, and then next, you’re thinking that you’d do whatever it takes if only it would offer that person some comfort, some respite from their self-injurious and other-injurious behavior.  You want to give up hope … and you want to believe that love can overcome all obstacles. 

In my first book, Your Creed of Care:  How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive), I share a story that encapsulates that paradox:

“Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, I got so angry with my brother Willie (and his erratic, sometimes- violent behavior) that I smashed an antique guitar to smithereens.  (If it helps, it was an old, ratty guitar, not a collector’s item.)  This guitar had been given to my brother by my grandparents.  After a particularly difficult evening at home, I walked upstairs, saw the guitar and simply started smashing it against Willie’s wooden bed- frame.  I was so, so angry.  I so, so badly wanted him to stop acting crazy.  I wanted him to change back into the brother I knew. 

After, I felt bewildered, astonished…and relieved.  While the wood was splintering and the strings were snapping, I’d realized … I could not change him.  I could not change my parent’s decisions.  I was powerless to change any of those things, but I’d done something that I needed to do.  I’d released some anger that I needed to release. 

I’d stopped fixating on what I wanted to change about him and started letting myself feel what I felt. 

Ironically, this was the first moment in ages at which I could feel empathy for my brother, who had so much rage inside of him.  It was small, but it was a beginning.  Amidst the shards of a broken guitar, I took my first step on the road to loving my brother as he was, not as I wished he would be. ” 

I’ve walked much farther on my journey since then; I’ve built a stronger relationship with my brother and with many other remarkable, differently-abled adults.  And in the process, I’ve come to see that the beautiful thing about acknowledging hard truths is that the telling can set you free.  When you say, “My child is the biter,” or, “My brother is the violent teenager who got kicked out of school, the one who makes me so mad I actually smashed a musical instrument to pieces,” you’re acknowledging the difficulty and struggle and pain, but you’re still putting your relationship first.  Even in your darkest hour, you’re still saying, “My child,” and “My brother.” 

Whether you’ve thought consciously about it or not, you’re communicating that the person you care for is more than their behavior, more than their current difficulties.  You’re saying that your love for that person is bigger than whatever challenge you’re facing together. 

Some days, it hurts to believe it.  And other days, it feels like the only thing worth holding on to.  Regardless of what kind of day today is for you, know that you are not alone, and that your care of one person has more power than you can ever know.

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To read the rest of Your Creed of Care: How To Dig For Treasure In People (Without Getting Buried Alive), visit Caroline at A Wish Come Clear; the 60+ page guide for caregivers is free to all who elect to receive posts via email.

bigger, better, even more wonderful!

abundance of purple flowers

I am bursting with gratitude today and I have some exciting news to share!  Autism Home Rescue is expanding and we’ve connected with some awesomely inspiring writers who’ll be sharing their thoughts and insights right here on this very page.  Pretty nifty, eh?

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Stay tuned for our first-ever guest post on Tuesday 

by Caroline McGraw from A Wish Come Clear

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One of the greatest joys I’ve experienced since beginning this blog is the opportunity to connect and dialogue with other parents, professionals, caregivers and new friends.  This online community has not only given me hope when I’ve most needed it, but your stories, insights, support, humor and encouragement have sent good karma ripples out into the world and have helped countless other families like mine.  And as always, I am oh-so-grateful to you!

Caroline McGraw has a unique perspective on special needs and autism, and a gift for bringing the truth to light in her work.  Please stop back next week to read her very special post.

All best wishes for a peaceful weekend!

manifesting

Funny things. Please.

I often write when I feel sentimental.  I write tributes to people who have touched my life, I write gratitude lists.  Sometimes I write funny things, silly things, cute things that make people go “awwwww…” with a little head tilt.  Rarely do I write when I am supremely pissed off.  But today is one of those days.  Lucky you.  Read on.

gecko huhI love to laugh.  When I am laughing so hard my cheekbones feel stuck in a smile, my stomach hurts and I’m having trouble breathing, well that is just *the* BEST.  People put funny “posters” on facebook, they share cartoons & crazy out-of-context quotes.  There are tons of funny things out there.  And if you do an image search (try goodsearch before those other search engines– money gets raised for good causes) you can surely find enough pictures to crack you up for a good hour or two.

Today I did an image search for “autism funny” and you know what?  It made me angry.  Apparently, the people who think they have a sense of humor when it comes to autism like to post pictures of kids who look like mine with terms like “a$$hole” in the caption.  Or “joke” quotes degrading or humiliating people with autism and their families.

Or maybe it’s the search engines who just don’t freaking get it.  When I type “autism funny” I want Big Daddy’s cartoons or Autism Army Mom’s photos.  I want stuff that is fun, that we all can laugh at, that’s not insensitive, intolerant junk.  Is that too much to ask??

Sheesh :S  … and Grrrrrr…. and all that.

Soooooo…. Here’s what I’m asking for today:

Send me something that is “autism funny” to you.  Find me things that celebrate kids like mine, that will make me smile or belly laugh, that are *specifically* under the category “autism funny.”  Because let’s face it… if we can’t laugh through this strange world we’re all navigating… then what’s it really about?

Okay, enough reading my rant.  Go search, find & report back.  Post in comments or email please (autismhomerescue@gmail.com).

gecko huh

… What are you still doing here?  Go find stuff– go now!

Oh yeah… and wishing you all a Happy New Year with plenty of things to smile about!

Today’s Gratitude List

manifesting

Today I am grateful for:

  • Being aware of the moment.  I recently moved into a new house (expanded post to follow) and just last week I framed an old calendar page for my kitchen.  The page is a beautiful drawing of a fish pond with this Thich Nhat Hanh quote: “Our true home is in the present moment.  To live in the present moment is a miracle.”  The moment may not always feel good, but at least I know that I am in it.
  • Safe spaces.  Sometimes when Alex is going through a rough time, I have trouble finding the safe spaces in my life where I can calmly, rationally, logically think through the puzzles and find the next step toward the solutions.  My boy and I have had it rough the last couple months (expanded post to follow) but I think now we are working through it.  And I am grateful for the people and places in my life that help me calm my mind and inspire me to try again.
  • My readers & fellow bloggers.  Who knows who you all are, but I am continually amazed to find you sharing your thoughts or reaching out at the most uncanny times.  It is easy to write when life is good, simple, fun– or even completely ridiculous, distracting and crazy.  But when the challenges mount I often hesitate to put it all out there (expanded post to follow).   Yesterday I read the first part of the prologue to Big Daddy’s new book.  Funny, funny guy, that Big Daddy.  The fact that someone who makes me laugh so much could also write so candidly about the realities, joys and challenges of autism…. well, that was just inspiring to me.  I am grateful for all of you who share your real experience– because it reminds me that no matter what, we’re all in this together, and what we write and throw out into cyberspace does make a difference.  

What are you grateful for today?

Today’s Gratitude List

gratitude symbol 

Today I am grateful for:

  • The ability to take a “do-over” just because.  When I was a kid playing kickball & baby-in-the-air & all those outdoor neighborhood games in the summer, do-overs were a big thing.  Usually granted as a special privilege to the younger kids, a do-over meant you got to erase the last try, you weren’t really “out,” and you got to try again.  I took my share of do-overs granted by the older, more seasoned players, and when I became the older one, I granted them freely.  Somehow as adults we seem to have forgotten that we’re entitled to do-overs (or more aptly put– “new starts”) in our everyday lives.  Next time you’re not liking the way your day is going, declare a “do-over” and start fresh.  I promise you, it is liberating!
  • Yoga.  Hannie and I have been taking a yoga class together every Sunday for the past few months.  Our teacher Denise is amazing with kids and with her craft– and with me!  Today as we took the “yoga nap” as Hannie likes to call it, I felt the tears well up behind my eyes, ready to release all the tension the weekend had provided me to that point.  I am so grateful for the space and the place and the freedom to let it all go, release the tough stuff to the universe and stretch again.
  • My readers.  Like Moni, who reminded me that what we write and share makes a difference.  I am so grateful for the feedback, you guys!  If it weren’t for you all, I’d have put away my computer this week and called it quits.  But of course, I didn’t.  I’m taking a do-over!

 

What are you grateful for today?  Write it down & share it!

Yikes!

Just realized my last post was one week ago.  Gotta rise to this post-a-week challenge, right?  I’m actually working on some new pieces about our family life and about gluten-free cooking, both of which I’m psyched to share.  But neither of which is going up today.

So… um… 

My life has kinda been turned upside down the last few weeks due to snow.  School closings, delays, blah-de-blah.  My sanity is wavering.  But the good news is Hannie and I have a new soopah-secret fancy-schmancy project we’re working on for you all.  (Stay tuned for details in future posts!)

In the meantime… um… I’ve got nothing else to say.

*** insert blank stare here ***

(what I really need is a Big Daddy-type cartoon in this space I think)

Quick!  Think of a distraction!  Here are two of my favorites photos from the picture archives:

alex hannie

Spontaneous kisses & ridiculous kindergarten butterfly costumes.  A small tribute today to the tolerance & patience of both my lovely kiddos. 

alex n mom

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