I have trouble with transitions….

… and a thousand other things.  But it’s all good because I’m human and I deserve to be loved for the individual, quirky person I am.  Which brings me to the topic at hand:

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Today I am grateful for:

Acceptance

Plain and simple. 

So simple, the beauty of it made me cry. 

We were away for the weekend.  When it came to Sunday morning, my anxiety was peaking.  I woke up and said to Aubrey:

“I’m feeling nervous and out of sorts.  I don’t know why.”

She put her arm around me, gently kissed my head and replied:

“You always feel that way before a transition.  It’ll be okay.”

I felt the tension I was holding in the back of my neck release ever so slightly and a tear escaped.  It is true.  I have trouble with transitions.  I have anxiety about making changes, doing new things.  That’s just me.  

But the relief I felt from her acknowledgement was like that feeling of soothing a sore throat with a cup of tea, or settling an upset tummy with a peppermint stick.

To be known…

to be accepted…

to be validated for the quirky, challenging, difficult things…

Indeed, to be loved for them as part of the whole person I am!

… well, that is priceless and beyond the words I have. 

It’s everything…

it’s safety…

it’s love…

it’s freedom… 

It is, simply put, just the best.

So Aubrey, thank you for knowing me like you do, and for helping me transition.  You are better than peppermint.  I am grateful.

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Today’s Gratitude List

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Today I am grateful for:

  • This truly crazy guy named Shaun T.  For some reason when he says “Jump!” I actually want to.  Yes, I know the “Insanity” workouts are … well, insane! … but they are also really well balanced and motivational.  This dude has me stretching and toning and hopping all around the house.  I’m even thinking about signing up for aerials class again, and that can only lead to more quirky happiness I think.  See, it works like this– let me break it down for you in the style of a Direct TV cause-and-effect commercial:  If I jump around with Shaun T, I get sweaty.  If I get sweaty, I feel like an athlete.  If I feel like an athlete, I take trapeze classes.  If I take trapeze classes, I join the circus.  If I join the circus, I become the lady in the impossibly glittery hottie outfit who trains the dogs.  If I train the dogs, I make my girlfriend and her chihuahuas happy.  If I make the chihuahuas happy, all. is. good. with. the. world!  Conclusion:  Insanity workouts lead to happy chihuahuas.  Which brings me to my next point…
  • Aubrey’s dogs.  I am so grateful for those furry little bedwarmers!  They’re like two parts firecracker, two parts teddy bear, one part slobbery wet kisses and 100% enthusiasm!  When I came home from seeing Alex last night, I was tense and a bit sad.  We had a great visit, he was all smiles and jokes and calmness, but right before I left, a noise got the better of his sensory issues and he got agitated.  I know he drifted off to sleep, but it’s always tough for me see him struggle.  I thought to myself, “How do moms handle this stuff?  Please, God, tell me again what I’m supposed to be doing.”  Then after a ridiculously long car ride, I walked in my front door and was greeted with such fanfare there could have been a parade running through the kitchen!  These little chihuahuas jumped so high I thought they’d actually make it to my shoulder without my picking them up!  Plus, they brought me all their toys, and when I sat down I got a plethora of furry kisses like none other.  I love the dogs.  And they love me.  Happy sigh.
    So what have we learned today? 
    Jump around, kiss your dogs…
    And remember to name the things for which you’re grateful!
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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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Dude, where are my preconceived notions? No, seriously, dude…

autism home rescue 0526201201Okay, it’s my first official love post.  Gag all you want, I’m writing it anyway.  I am so blown away by what an amazing relationship the universe has given me that I just feel the need to gush about it sometimes.  Mostly that happens behind the scenes, but today it’s front and center, home page news.  Read on if you wanna discover a few of the many reasons I fell in love with my girl.  Or if you’re feeling more serious today, flip back through the blog archives and read about autism diagnoses or divorce or residential treatment.  Personally, I’d stay here to catch some gossip.  But it’s really your call.

Still with me?  Wow, cool.  Okay then.  I present to you the…

TOP TEN REASONS I LOVE MY GIRL

10.  She can use the word “dude” in context & appropriately in a clinical setting in her job as a physician.  As in:  Young & healthy but nervous patient:  “Doc, you gotta help me, I think I’m having a heart attack!”  Aubrey:  “Dude, you are not having a heart attack.”

9.  She can get Hannie out of a snit faster than anyone I’ve ever known.  She never backs down from the Taurus bull horns until my baby bull daughter is smiling.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but I love it.

8.  She lets me take her picture (get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family show) even though she hates being photographed.  How much does she love me?  She bought me a camera for Christmas.

7.  She can be tough as nails when she has to be, but when it comes to her chihuahuas she’s as sappy as the most sentimental mama.  Her high pitched “doggie voice” is so sweet that even the geckos gaze lovingly when she talks to them.

6.  She says she’s shy, but I’ve never noticed.  … Okay, I’ll wait for that one to sink in– read it again… and…. did you get the word-behind-the-words?  … There you go.

5.  She lives deliberately, makes choices thoughtfully and solves problems ethically, for the good of the people she cares for.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for her.

4.  She is impossible to place “in a box.”  To know Aubrey is to abandon your preconceived notions, because she’ll just blow right through them anyway.  An ex-military flight surgeon who’s afraid of mice?  A tattooed chick with a motorcycle who drives her fancy SUV with her tiny dogs perched on her lap like Paris Hilton?  A critical care doc who can run codes in the ICU, but who cried at the preview of “Chimpanzee?” *  Trying to capture her with a limited world view is like trying to measure the movement of an electron– the more you try, the more she’ll open your mind in the process (google “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle“).

3.  She is committed to learning & growing, she is willing to try again.  And she’ll never give up on the people she loves.  Ever.

2.  Alex and Hannah both love her.  Not because she’s in a relationship with their mother.  But because she’s taken the time, had the patience and made the effort to get to know them, to find out the individual, beautiful people they are, and to build a connection with them on their terms.  If you’ve read *anything else* on this blog about Alex especially, you’ll know what kind of person that makes Aubrey.

and the number one reason I love my girl:

1.  Her love and acceptance have brought a secure, peaceful feeling to my life that I’ve never known before, and when I think about our future together I just feel so darn HAPPY!

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*  Click here to find out how to help chimpanzees in honor of my girl

Happy Birthday Hannah Rose!

autism home rescue 0510201201Dear Hannah Rose,
It is hard to believe it has been 7 years since you were born, my beautiful Hannie Bananie!  I am so proud of you in so many ways that I’m not sure I even have words for them all.  I still peek at you sometimes when you are sleeping, just so I can marvel at how tall you are getting and remember how tiny your feet once were.  You are a wonder and you constantly surprise and delight me with your views on the world and your creative ideas.  For your birthday today, I want to put into writing just a few of the many daily reminders I have about how incredibly lucky I am to have you as my daughter.

Over the last year there have been many changes in your young life.  You went from living in one home to having two homes- from living with Dad, Alex and me to alternating between Daddy’s house and my house and having Alex live away from us.  You welcomed Aubrey into our lives with open arms and a big smile.  You became an excellent caregiver for two chihuahuas and two new geckos.  You said goodbye to Mom Mom.  All of these changes had challenging moments, sadness and joy.  And we navigated them together and helped each other.  You helped people in ways you didn’t even realize, you helped just by being compassionate and thoughtful, trying again & giving people the benefit of the doubt when conflicts happened, and making us all laugh sometimes when we most needed to!

Each night at bedtime we say prayers.  We always start with something we are thankful for, and remember that we’re lucky to have each other and be a family together.  These are the things I am grateful for today:

  • the way you stole Aubrey’s hat, then told us that we could be a rock band because I had the sunglasses, Aubrey had the tattoos & you had the hat & could sing
  • your gentle pat on my arm this morning to wake me up
  • how you crawled into my lap after I lectured you about using nice words, and just put your head on me for a minute so I knew you heard me even if you were too stubborn to admit it right then
  • how eager you are to help and be part of what’s going on
  • the pictures you drew of all of our family members and how you told me that family is the people who are special to you, no matter where they live and if you were born with them or not
  • the way you talk to animals with respect and understanding, and how you always make sure they are as okay as the people we are with
  • your love of science and nature and your willingness to try new things, even if your first instinct is to stick with what you already know how to do

These are tiny examples, my beautiful Hannah Rose, of the many, many things that make me feel proud of you!  If I listed all the things I could think of, this letter would be as long as a big, fat dictionary!  For now, I’ll tell you one more thing and then I’ll leave my computer and go back to hanging out with you:

The picture below was taken at a little coffee shop a few weeks ago, on a day when you didn’t have school and we got to hang out for the whole morning together.  It was a Mom-Hannah day, running errands and laughing and planning and plotting.  When we stopped for this break, we shared a scone and you tasted my piece of quiche lorraine.  We talked about the decorations on the wall and what we liked about them, we made observations about the weather & the plates & tried to figure out what the other customers might be going on to do in their own days after they left.  We were just there, together, enjoying being mother and daughter.  It was somehow “timeless” for me, just a random moment that felt so good not for any particular reason, but because I love you and you love me.  And as you always tell me, that’s what really matters.

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I love you Hannie Rose!  Happy Birthday!

Today’s Gratitude List

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Today I am grateful for:

  • autism home rescue 03231201Leopard geckos.  We have two, named Pancake & Waffle.  The first one we had was named Egg (hence the breakfast theme) but unfortunately he died a couple months ago.  Leopard geckos are cute & friendly & if you have patience, they can learn to play games with you.  I discovered that if I waited until Egg stuck out his tongue while he was looking at me & I mimicked him, he’d walk closer to the glass & keep playing with me back and forth.  Something about inter-species communication just makes me happy.
  • Hawaiian coconut coffee.  Exotic, sweet, comforting.  Makes me think of vacation.  Yum.  Enough said.  I mention coffee a lot, I know.  But it keeps me from falling asleep at my WordPress virtual office, so that makes it something to be thankful for every day.
  • Imagination & humor.  Were it not for the funny pictures and characters jumping around in my head, I think I might fall into a deep depression some days.  Alex’s father said to me years ago as we were listening to the radio in the car:   “When this song comes on it makes all the cartoon animals in my head form a conga line.”  And ever since then, as soon as I hear the first few notes of that song I see the conga line and I laugh.

What are you grateful for today? 

Write it down, sing it out, share it, share it!

(and remember to play!)

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Today’s Gratitude List

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Today I am grateful for:

  • Choice.  Whether I like to admit it or not, I have choices in just about every area of my life.  The times when I’m not able to choose the particular circumstance or situation, I’m still able to choose how I react to it.  Last night it occurred to me how lucky I am that I can choose to eat foods that are healthy and make me feel good.  I can choose to focus my attention on positive, happy stuff instead of complaining.  I may not always do that… okay, okay you’re right, I complain a LOT.. but the point is, I have the *choice* and that’s empowering, even when I’m cranky.
  • My girlfriend & the healthy, balanced relationship we have.  How amazing is it to be able to learn something new about yourself every day, to have a loving presence reflect back to you the things that you wouldn’t be able to see on your own?  I believe we are attracted to people who hold the keys to our self-development and who can help us grow into the fully alive, relaxed & joyful people we are meant to become.  Thank you, Aubrey, for being my mirror & being you & being with me.
  • Time.  Life keeps moving forward.  And continues on… and on… and on.  Last year at this time I couldn’t have imagined the amazing stuff that would happen for me in the future.  Today I don’t know what’s around the corner.  The fact that life changes and time continues… well for some reason today, that feels really reassuring and not at all scary.  Today I’m kinda liking the fact that I don’t know what’s in store for tomorrow, but I have a guarantee that tomorrow will arrive.

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What are you grateful for today?

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