Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Joy of The Water Colour Ponies. Parenting Choices, Failures, Parallel Cultural Choices, Unschooling Choices Translated Into A Cheery Life

The night before an appointment, I casually yelled down the hallway to my boys, "Hey guys if you could make sure mommy is up by (insert time) that would be great!" My nine year old confidently yelled from his bedroom where he was playing, "Got it!" My husband started laughing and I was perplexed on what he was laughing at. He replied, "It's just so cute...that our nine year old is confidently taking responsibility for you being somewhere tomorrow." I started laughing too, "Oh I didn't think of that really- he's just the first one awake early every morning so in case I miss the alarm..." (My daughter was at a sleepover.)

The next morning a full hour before my appointment my twelve year old son comes into my room and says, "He says it's time to get you going mom. I actually think you have an hour but he sent me with some water and he's bringing you your breakfast. I'll open your blinds and you can slowly get ready now."  I love that he even mentioned the word "slowly." He knows me well. Then they both served me, hugged me and promptly left to watch shows and play. I was left with a bemused, barely awake smile on my lips. Perfection.

They usually get me breakfast and come greet me in the mornings anyway with a snuggle and kiss, but typically they wait till after a certain time or when they hear me stirring. They have this strange inner radar. But I thought it was extra adorable that they were making sure I had ample time to wake with a full glass of water and breakfast. Even the way they talked to me was like they were little men. What made it more poignant was the fact that after they went upstairs, they watched Tinker bell.

I don't think to write most of these little moments down. I have a horrid memory in general so I just recall imprints and feelings that my kids are amazing. But my mother and circle of friends who know them best will often remark, "They are sooooo sweet. You have done such a good job with those children." Or "You have always given your children your best and you are always learning new ideas for them. You are a beautiful, informed and sensitive mom, and your children feel that in their heart  and that is a great feeling to have!" *Yes I copied the phrase off text feeds.* or "Your children are so unique and polite. I can't get over it. Especially because they do not go to school or church." That last one makes me laugh a bit but surprisingly we have received it a lot.

You know what I honestly believe? It is not my parenting per se. Charlotte Mason (whom I actually do not read a lot of as I don't adhere to all of her points or beliefs, but I enjoy in small amounts) wrote that, "We attempt to define a person, the most commonplace person we know, but she will not submit to bounds; some unexpected beauty of nature breaks out; we find she is not what we thought, and begin to suspect that every person exceeds our power of measurement." I believe that, perhaps the main factor to such a response to my children, is our protection of their childhood. This site has many great articles that are close to my heart, with this one being of particular value:

I actually can't take a lot of credit for my children. I am constantly astounded by their beauty and unique being. Yes, they can also be rebellious and independent, but I am glad for these moments too, when they feel comfortable enough to flex their own perspectives. My duty is to provide them with alternative ways to destruction. If they are insistent on being disrespectful, I want them to re frame their minds, at the level their brain can handle, to make better choices. In short,  I think there are four major factors I feel we provide that allow them to be so polite, kind, compassionate, responsible yet magically little. These are: freedom, magical play, therapy and the understanding of their inner minds through outside support, and protection of their time by unschooling and many other boundary decisions. As children they truly do exceed the power of measurement.

I know a small handful of children in school who are also this magical and responsible. I don't feel that unschooling is the ONLY way to BE. But I do know that the children who are often the happiest adults, have been provided with some form of freedom, magical play and protection. They actively enjoy more downtime, and have learned it's not what you achieve or do that makes you happy, but your thoughts and perspectives while you do these things. Happiness can be found in any activity or relationship if one knows a combination of boundaries and love.

I also have a unique relationship with my children. They are my friends. Some parents believe this is not the way to conduct this relationship and maybe they are right? If they are happy with their children and their children are happy, who am I to judge what they do? Someone once asked me, "How do you get them to love you so? Why do they share everything with you and hide nothing? Why do they choose to listen generally, not simply out of obedience, but out of something else?" 

The first factor is that I am their main source of relationship during the day, evening and weekends and have been since they have been born, minus a couple wayward years in the school system. Another factor is that, since I am Autistic and an INFJ, I tend to lay it all out there with my tiny inner circle. My husband and children are my tiny inner circle. I tend to verbalize all my inner wonderings, perspectives and oddness. I am unconditionally and positively myself. I goof off, I let them be the boss if I see that they know what they are about, I change my mind a lot because they deserve my consideration...but the main point is that I am just ME. I don't believe that I have a lot of authority as another being over them. I do believe, because I am the adult, that I have responsibility to protect and guide, but I generally don't pull the authority card out of my pocket, because I respect their unique inner guides. Yes, I keep in mind brain growth, which is crucial to their development, but I don't lord my age over theirs. This is why they are so loyally mine. They will not disobey generally because of LOVE. 

My mother often will say, "Argh, they are so afraid to disobey you that they always ask 'Will mom be ok with that?' or 'I have to ask mom' or 'I can't eat that.'" But my kids and I will share a wink or smirk because we know it's more than that. It's not fear. They use me as their scapegoat. I tell them, "If you feel uncomfortable with a friend or anyone else to make a decision, blame me. Pretend your parents are major authority figures. When you are an older teen I will expect you to take more personal reasons but right now- it is your privilege to use me. " If they don't want to eat the sugar or watch the show, they use me. Sometimes they just don't want to go against the life I have set out for them because they know all the reasons why I have guidelines. They respect the guidelines because I have backed them up with reasons. They know why the sugar isn't the best choice for their overall life. They know that a bit of gluten will compromise their immunity. They know that watching a scary show or one they are uncomfortable with messes with both their mind and their sleep. Generally, on the subjects that are not too overloading for them, they are given feedback and reasoning.

Will my children rebel or have miserable lives? It is a possibility and entirely up to them. Do they have a magical and unique childhood infused with love, belonging, and cheer? Definitely. Another question I get is, "Doesn't that approach lack discipline?"

Discipline actually can be learned through play and love. They also get enough of an amount of practice in their daily chores. Chores are what make up most of an adult life- paying bills, making food, cleaning up, ect. I want them to incorporate these aspects into their daily life as something to be happy about. If they learn the skills now when they are little, it's just routine, and they can enjoy doing their chores with ease as an adult. Their happiness will not be compromised by the mundane.

I also don't like to call it discipline- I prefer the term boundaries. And yes, they are important. But making a child practice something for forty minutes a day usually does not inspire the love of that discipline. Sometimes, in certain personalities, it can. Each case is individual but I call that learning how to adhere to authority. I don't want my children to adhere to authority or be robots of society. If a child get's A's in the school system it doesn't mean they are creative or fluidly intelligent. It means they know how to take direction, memorize and adhere to the think tank. There are different types of intelligences, and working with the system is one of them, but not one that I wish my children to be highly successful on. They can respect rules and cultural expectations, but I want them to question, choose parallel cultural choices, and make the best decisions for them to live a life of love. This starts now. 

When my children quit piano years ago they were under seven. Many well intentioned adults told me it was my responsibility to make them stick with it. I was told they were too young to make that decision to quit and it was my job to force it and "they would learn many important values from practice and discipline." I talked to my children and told them, "If you love the piano you will learn the piano eventually. We will keep a piano in our house for fun and anytime you wish to improve I can help you or youtube can help you. Just say the word. You don't need to be a perfect pianist to enjoy the piano. You don't need to have renown in adult life to believe you are gifted. If you play the same song over and over, and you or someone you love, enjoys it, that is enough. If practicing is making you hate the piano then I would like you to forget about it." Also, they have enough time before twenty four, when their brain becomes more concrete and less inclined to new information, to develop a talent or interest if that is what they wish. Heck, it may take more brain power, but there are sixty and seventy year olds who have contributed to the world of art, sport and leisure and they didn't start until they were considered 'over the hill.' Anything is possible. If they died before twenty, before I did, I wouldn't want to look back at all those wasted moments when they could have been focusing on love and beauty. And if we knew they were to die before their adulthood- what would we change? How would our daily lives manifest?

The piano is a beautiful instrument and sometimes practicing is a way to get you ahead but deconstruct WHY you want your children to get ahead? Is it your own ego? Does it say something about a family ideal you always thought would be amazing? Is it because of a future job opportunity? If it is, think outside the box to how you could still make a living but enjoy piano playing. Is it because you want reclaim and renown? Why do you wish for that? What deeper issues are at play? Is there a way those deeper needs can be met without becoming popular? Can you find value elsewhere? Is it because you believe piano players have a certain quality you wish for yourself? How else can that quality be manifested? Does it have to come from playing the piano? Is it simply because you love playing and wish to share that love with the world? If so, fantastic, but then you should be happy, if you do all you can, and end up playing only for a few loved ones and yourself...that should still be enough. Always look deeper. Why are we making our children do something? What attribute do we believe we are growing? What end result? Why is it important? If there is research to back it up, have we read the opposing research? Have we thought enough outside the box of societal expectations? Have we watched the adults whom have chosen a similar choice and seen the results of genuine happiness inside of them? Do we know even what love and happiness mean? Is this stemming from a religious belief? How does that affect our mind? I could go on, but the deeper questions give a few more concrete directions.

I am anything but a perfect parent. But I have pretty amazing, well adjusted, happy kids. They struggle. They have therapy. They have different brains that come with different needs. However, for the most part, they are delighted in the world around them. They engage with compassion and thought. 

In the last few months I have realized that I need to re form some of my parenting choices. I ordered a few books that may help my journey; CLICK HERE For the Whole Brain Child.  Click HERE for The Danish Way of Parenting  CLICK HERE For Simplicity Parenting. (Disclaimer: I haven't read any of these yet, but they seemed along the lines of some new strategies I would like to implement.) I have realized that I could work on sharing less intellectual reasoning with my children. I read them the history of diseases and sexually transmitted diseases and then realized maybe it was a little much. Why was I feeling like I should prepare them? Am I primarily being driven out of fear? Is it a necessary future fear for this moment? If I don't share this with them will they possibly be damaged?

I have taught them about politics and religions...and while some of this is good, some of it probably has increased their world anxiety. Heck, I get stressed if I hear about daily news. It is not good for the human mind to deal with more stress then what is in the immediate environment. I looked at this as informed and well adjusted. But then I asked myself WHY do I view that as informed and well adjusted? Do my children need to know the craziness of the world and it's possibilities in order to contribute to the world?  To keep them safe? Do they?!? When reading the article from Raised Good, I had an 'aha' moment. I realized I need to back off for awhile. I need to protect their last few years of true childhood and save that information for a later date. I am going to try to discipline my loose tongue of information and advice giving and focus on their innocence for awhile. Educating and enhancing the love of learning and life is one thing, but giving information simply to prepare is quite another. I was unfortunately caught up in  the second. It's not that I can't be a flawed parent. My children are well aware that mommy makes mistakes. Which also makes them love me more as I regularly admit this and re adjust. It is simply that I have to consistently re shift my own perspectives and flaws to enhance the love flowing in my life. Life giving water is flowing, never stagnant, and thus perspective and love require the same for growth.

In the end, it's savouring the seconds of this one precious life. Time is ticking and that shouldn't stress me but instead give more meaning to the purpose of love and beauty. Currently, my one son is napping after a brief meltdown and my youngest is complaining in my ear about cleaning his room. With Dyspraxia cleaning is so much more than cleaning. I know this because I also have Dyspraxia, but I am trying to encourage him to listen to his music with headphones and as he is dusting each item to look at it and be thankful for it. If he doesn't feel thankful or cheered by said object, I tell him he should consider putting it in the passing on pile for another child who may find it cheery. In this way he will be present, and hopefully grateful, while doing this once a week task. He of course rolled his eyes at me a bit but then he smiled sheepishly and said, "I guess I can do that." His little eyes blinking behind his Potter glasses, make me want to go do it all for him, but I know that if I do this too often for him, he will never fully embrace the mundane. The mundane CAN sometimes just be mundane, but whenever it can be made into beauty or resilience- I wish for that moment for them and myself. Because half or more of life would be miserable if it was just "getting through the moment." I guess, in parenting and life in general, I wish to re adjust for the joy of them and for the love of all that is good and beautiful. Because the magic of childhood wonder, play and innocence is comparatively short to the numbered adult years ahead and I believe that the early years help form the later ones.

After reading this post to my children, as I often do, my eldest son piped up, "How come when everybody talks about their children, they are trying to prove their points about parenting? Even when they are saying they make mistakes they are still believing a lot in their choices?" I laughed. Parenting is personal. I would actually be appalled if all the world went to unschooling for a myriad of reasons, but I do like people to consider alternatives. I also consider the beauty in the systems to a degree, but because they are majority, I tend to be a voice for the minorities. I don't want this post to just be telling people what to do. I am sharing what works for me and what I have had to work on and what I enjoy celebrating. However, I am not trying to prove a point that this is the only way to be a parent. Anyone who knows me, will agree that I respect any life that is compassionately thought out and lived our of growth and love. I share because when we share our stories, we contribute to the collective. When we give perspective we grow our own inner being. I admit, my INFJ perspective giving can not help but consistently think, re adjust and give advice. It's the communication of my soul but I dole it out to myself too.:) I firmly believe take what feels right or consider what makes you angry, and then implement what matters and let go of the rest! We all fight for the future well being of our children and greater understanding of their Being and Love. That fact unites us, no matter how differently we may go about it. 

What choices have been re adjusted lately in your life or parenting? Does asking the deeper questions enable love infused answers? 

Disclaimer: I have a lot of disclaimers today! Lol...the song I chose DOES have religious origin from my childhood and I obviously ignore a few of the lines, but it is still a song I listen to a lot with teary eyes. It's still beautiful even if I do not adhere to every single line. *I translate some lines into my own language because love is universal. 
Watercolour Ponies by Wayne Watson.:
There are watercolour ponies on my refrigerator door
And the shape of something, I don't really recognize
Brushed with careful little fingers and put proudly on display
A reminder to us all of how time flies
Seems an endless mound of laundry and a stairway laced with toys
Gives a blow by blow reminder of the war
That we fight for their well-being for their greater understanding
To impart a holy reverence for the Lord (* I translate this to a love reverence of LIFE)
But baby, what will we do when it comes back to me and you?
They look a little less like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watchin' the children growin' is mixed with a bitter cup
Of knowin' the watercolour ponies will one day ride away
And the vision can get so narrow, as you view through your tiny world
And little victories can go by with no applause
But in the greater evaluation as they fly from your nest of love
May they mount up with wings as eagles for His cause ( *I translate this to the cause of Love.)
But still I wonder baby, what will we do when it comes back to me and you?
They look a little less like little boys every day
Oh, the pleasure of watchin' the children growin' is mixed with a bitter cup

Of knowin' the watercolour ponies will one day ride away...
Wayne Watson"

Read more:  Wayne Watson - Watercolour Ponies Lyrics | MetroLyrics, How does a moment last forever- Celine Dion 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Flashbacks, Disability, Ability, Viktor Frankyl and What Makes a Life?

“Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.”- Viktor E Frankyl

My favourite years of my life thus far were when my two eldest children ranged from ages 5-11 and my youngest 3-8. Those years, we grew exponentially in our perspectives and we made parallel cultural choices that were not social norms. We became our choices. We realized that our choices would not work for everyone nor prescribed them to most (only those whom had hearts like ours) but we also realized that they were what we needed to thrive. I found a groove in my homeschooling, and I began to manage my daily pain in a more positive way. I had many questions tempered with enough answers to be fully confident and avidly in love with our life. I wish to get back to that girl I recently lost a bit of. Here is an excerpt, from that time, I found that sums up the daily during these years;

"The last half of the year, I had a tough time waking up every morning with pain. I dreaded the routine of another day. But now, despite some pain at times, I have gone to LOVING my mornings.  Which shocks me. Mornings are my time with my children and my time to write or chat with my bestie. Each of my children start my morning jumping on my bed and as the morning progresses they play quietly in their rooms or near me while I work on my writing and catch up on my blog friends. Sometimes they bring a pile of books or toys to sit beside me. These kids love to cuddle, so as soon as they sense I am up, or watch the clock until it's past nine, they hop into my king size bed exclaiming,"Mommy's awake!" Every morning the enthusiasm is the same. Like the queen just knocked on the door. It is simply that I am awake. That's the celebration. It's not because they want me to get them anything (they were taught to make their own breakfast) they just like my presence. Each one fights over who gets to flank my sides for the morning cuddles. They don't care about morning breath or crazy hair, they just care to have a snuggle from mommy. For a quarter of an hour or a full hour they cozy in under the down blankets and chat my waking ears off. EVERY morning. And I feel homesick. Homesick for my future self that will miss these moments with sharp tenderness. I shake the feeling off with determination to enjoy the now and leave the bitter out of the sweet. But I feel a crackle of awareness. Another reminder that this time is poignantly innocent and fleeting with their pure adoration. The last few weeks have been beautiful. I adore waking up to my children chatting and cuddling. I savour schooling them in the afternoons and taking a walk afterword. They say the cutest things that I never remember but I savour their profound truths. This is my favourite stage. I feel like I can actually mother them calmly at this point. While the younger years had their own stunning beauty, I had a really tough time enjoying the days. I barely got through those stages with my sanity in tact. I felt it all fly by. The last few years I have settled in and I love the ages of my children. I also discovered age seven is my favourite year ever (thus far.) When my daughter was seven I felt so close to her and indulged her every whim and memorized every word. 

My son is seven now and I feel the same way. I adore this time. This morning my children were drawing pictures of their lists for Santa. I heard my youngest say, "Santa knows everything, and God knows everything."
My seven year old nudged me, "Mommy, how do you write, "Something magic"?" His list was half written with cute little pictures. I asked, "What do you mean 'something magic'?
He replied, "You know, like a magic ball or something magic like you always get me that's beautiful." He continued on, "Something like my mom and know? Perfect! You know, like my mom and dad are perfect so a cheerful gift like that....Maybe a glass ornament?"
Happy sigh. A glass ornament that symbolizes his cheerful parents? What could be more touching? I felt like crying and laughing but instead I grabbed him for a quick kiss and mess of the hair.

As I typed this post my youngest (five year old) was cuddled next to me, playing iPhone games. In the middle of his game, he paused, leaned over, and gave me a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Before I could react he was back at his game and I was looking fondly at his profile. He stuns me with his philosophical questions even though he has not figured out how to communicate properly yet. His sensory issues and adorable glasses make him even more endearing. He clutches his hands into little fists if he has to touch something messy or sticky. He can not stand cold. His little body starts shaky and his head sways back and forth as he chatters, "Mommy, I'm freeeeeezzziiiinnnggg." Everyone else is fine. He lives in his PJS and Spiderman costumes. He wears them all over town and I will be sad the day he actually thinks he should not.

And my daughter, oh my daughter, the little nurturer of the family. She hovers making sure everyone is ok. She worries over what they say and where they are. She aids in all the chores with a good attitude and she meticulously cleans her room. She is phenomenal. She is becoming one of my closest friends. The first year Rory to my first year Lorelei."


Fast forward five years later and my son is now twelve. Some days I still see him as a seven year old. I'm already a shadow of the girl my past self was homesick for. My youngest has stopped wearing his Spidey suits around town. As of last Autumn, my kids were all still wearing their Harry Potter robes for walks about and I hope this spring that fact will remain the same.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” - Viktor E Frankyl

A consolation to the time passing is that I have zero regrets to our past choices. I KNOW without a doubt that I savoured every minute I could, even in pain, and that I had my children around me more than most parents get to have, in this current culture, which is important to me and to them. I lived it all and owned almost every second. I know this, but I also am aware that the last two years I have slipped into old habits from years ago. I have been tuning out again. More often than not, I struggle with good choices, energy and discipline. I am aware of what I need to change, how to change, what to ignore, let go of, and how to begin again...I know generally where we need to go in the next year and what wisdom to implement, but I lack the stamina to get there. 

Thus, each day I remind myself to re adjust. I wake up nauseous due to the lovely lump in my neck I have fondly named Rasby. I feel dread immediately but then I remind my groggy eyes to focus on the curtains. More often then not, the sun is gently warming up my patterned curtains and the warm grey/beige of them turns into a rose colour. This image reminds me of my paternal grandma, for some reason, which in turn gives those childhood feelings that most people get when they smell fresh chocolate chip cookies. The nausea becomes easier to deal with. My eyes follow the patterns and the sun until it lands on a beautiful piece of wall decor hanging on the west wall. The sun magnifies. I take a deep breath and tighten my abs like my physiotherapist taught me. I breathe in and out. My children somehow sense I am awake and show up to open my blinds, turn off my fan, and bring me some sort of protein so I can get out of bed. Some view this as spoiled. Our family views it as necessary. If this routine does not happen I am near the toilet for the rest of the morning or bedridden. Without the protein I can't even go pee, no matter how great the need, because I don't have the strength and I feel a myriad of symptoms. But ten minutes after the protein I slowly respond to the world. By mid morning I can pass for a "normal" person, but it starts with the sun, gratitude, breathing, my loved ones, and nurturing food. Which is a good reminder for me about what makes up a quality life. With that beginning I am determined to not waste my precious situation. Even with it's pain and the tragic year we have had, when the toughest part of my year was saving my husband from his suicidal choices and anger, I realize it is STILL a lovely life in general. But that doesn't always mean that it doesn't take work, even if our choices have taken out a lot of the "common" issues most families deal with out of the picture. It helps that we are continually surrounded by love. Genuine love and care with moments of our essence being fully realized.

Physically, physiotherapy has been my starting point. I admit I dread physio every week. Each night I groan as I realize I still need to do my physio, if I haven't already, so I get my butt out of bed and do the stretches and pulls. I am not allowed to do squats yet or even much more than a walk, due to weakness, and sometimes this frustrates me. Sometimes I give up. There are days I think of the very slow progress I have made over the last three months, the weight gained despite my determination, and my lack of strength and I skip my regimnent because 'what's the point?!?!'  But the next day, if I wake up ambitious, I regret that I lost another day to gaining strength, even if it is a very slow and generally un rewarding discipline. So I start again. I try not to beat myself up about my missed days too much. It's what I guess I was capable of handling in that moment. If I can push myself to more, I know I will. With physiotherapy as the foundation, I hope to build into larger amounts of exercise that can effectively keep me at least moving.

I also have learned comparing lives gives me, nor others, anything of value. There were days when I bitterly viewed the people who walked by my house with ease. They were a range of ages and abilities. On most days, I would not be able to keep up with any of them for long. This fact irked me. If I gave into my irritation at the situation, I would overdo my physio by doubling it (which put me out usually for a few days.) So to put this in perspective I have had to tell myself a trigger word to bring me out of that bad place. The trigger word which works is 'Yin/Yang.' It's odd enough that it makes me smile, and it reminds me there is both dark and light in the world. There will always be someone who can do things better than I can, and someone who will be far more impaired. I am gifted in what I am and not in what I am not. I can have a beautiful life filled with love and meaning being both disabled and abled. I am able, with my INFJ harmony personality, to hold contrasting opinions and philosophies thus the 'Yin/Yang,' gives me pause and remembrance. Sometimes I push a little of my limits while other times I accept limits with gratitude. This is also wisdom. It is only once I try or have found out for myself, my limits, that I can let go."I'm through accepting limits cuz someone says there so, some things I can not change, but till I try I'll never know. Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I lost, well, if that's love it comes at much to high a cost."- Elphaba/ Wicked.
(My husband snapped this when I was trying to use humour during a massive panic attack at a horrible doctor's appointment I never want to repeat- beauty and pain. Hair loss, weight gain, but a hubby who drives me three hours to failed appointments and lets me rant the entire way home and refuses to let me go back and get treated that way again... If I didn't have the pain, I wouldn't have experienced that reminder of his dedication.)

Over the last month I have realized I need to stop anticipating the day my Ferritin will go up past seventy. Seventy is the marker that hair growth comes back, organ function is optimal, and the energy  manifests. I am currently at a three. With doctor's aid and supplementation I have managed to get past a nine on occasion the last five years but that was as far as I went. With another recent fall back in medical help I have started asking myself these questions; 

"What if THIS is my life? What if I AM full of these symptoms every day? What if this weight stays, the ferritin is always around three, and I am a host to weird symptoms? What if I don't find a doctor which suits me and actually knows fully what Rasby is about? What if I never improve despite all attempts?"

I have set myself up with false expectations in my health. I have expected to improve. I have expected doctors to know what they are doing fully and completely. I have expected to have answers eventually. I have expected to magically wake up with the perfect iron amount. I have expected to be a normal, youth of thirty something, and be like my peers. I have expected that I would one day wake up somewhat able in areas I will never fully be matter the amount of discipline...and this has set me up to spiral downward in the last two years. The only difference between the girl I was a few years back and the girl I am now, is perspective. I still have the same symptoms, the same amount of struggles and the beautiful bounty of life, even if these things manifest slightly differently.

If this is my life from now on shouldn't I accept it? A balance of accepting the things I cannot change, and changing the aspects that I can, seems like the best path to peace. Because what I have now is what I have. Maybe with small tweaks some growth will eventually happen, but today I am ME. Today, this is my table of life. What am I going to do with it? How can I experience beauty WHILE having low energy? How can I savour WHILE I suffer? (With of course making allowances for suffering as well.) How am I going to look at my body being the weight it is at NOW? Can I see the beauty? Will I choose gratitude and meaning? Will I look, with purpose, at the fact that because I am HERE, I AM? Can that be enough?

It's time to re- read 'Man's Search for Meaning' by Victor E Frankyl and implement the principles again. It is time for me to wake up. These have been legitimate struggles, and each of us face pain in our own way. Pain is life. But so is beauty. Checking out of both isn't a long term solution to living. It's time for me to embrace the pain with the ecstasy and the little mundane in between because it's precious. It's mine because I am me.

“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” - Viktor Frankyl

Song Choice: Hold on To Me- John Michael Montgomery ( because LOVE makes potentiality come true... "and you don't know if you can hold on to your dreams, baby, you can hold on to me. Wanna lay down each evening, with you right here by my side. Want to get drunk on your laughter, wipe all the tears that you cry. You can scare me with your darkness and blind me with your light. Throw your worries out the window baby on your wildest night. Hold on to me when the world's turning cold, and it feels like your life is spinning out of control, your hoping, praying, trying so hard to believe. Hold on to me when there's no middle ground and every emotion is coming unwound and you don't know if you can hold on to your dreams. Baby, you can hold on to me." There are many manifestations of love...not only parental, sibling, partnership, sexual ..find your love and hold on...even if it is ONE life, experience, or thing to love...Hold on.)


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Once Upon A Time There Was A Warrior; A story of Grief, Loss, Light and Love. To My Husband and for Our Children.

*This true story was written for both my husband and children. It came to me during a EMDR therapy appointment for my husband in which I immediately came home and wrote it all within ten minutes. The therapist was explaining the similar characteristics of my husband to his mother and the traumatic loss of his grandfather at five (whom also shared many qualities.) What was focused on in the EMDR was the collective zest for life and the inner light that all three of them had and that my husband had to live to pass this on to his children so they could pass it on to theirs. The short story is geared towards children but I did not shy away from larger words or feelings. I wanted it to convey a lot of emotion because grief is full of emotion. I couldn’t find many children’s stories on grief that were not blatantly full of different religious messages. I wanted it to be generic and reach all those who may or may not believe in an afterlife. I wanted to capture the feeling that there is still something to live for and pass on without bringing all of "that" in to the picture. I wanted any child to be able to hopefully relate to the emotion if they were going though a similar story. I also wrote it for my husband, so he could clearly see what I was seeing. His brave journey and his similarities in laugh, personality and life to his Mom and grandfather George. This was illustrated by my three children. I used different paintings, lego styling and drawings, and cards that I found in my "special box" of cherished scraps of paper...These are my children's precious contributions so I would like to remind that these are on a page that is copyrighted. I also used their nicknames for their art.*

Artwork: Drake

Once upon a time there was a warrior. He didn't know he was a warrior yet. In fact, he was a little boy of five, with sandy brown hair and a sturdy body, huddled against the casket of his grandfather. 
Artwork: Sophia

This apple cheeked boy felt very much alone because his grandfather, the one with the light behind the eyes, boisterous laugh, big arms and large lap, was gone. He wanted to be where grandpa was. He asked his mommy if he could have a method to die too. 

Artwork: Drake

Because all he wished for was to see that light and hear that laugh, and feel those arms. The little boy felt so many emotions, and none of them made him feel like he was a fierce warrior at all.

Artwork: Sophia

As he grew, he found that same light of his grandpa's was also in his mother's eyes. The shine was always ready with a laugh at his goofiness, an embrace of his oddness, and a quick hug which expressed he was so cherished. 

Artwork: Sophia

She showed him in her ready joy that he was worthy of being loved. She passed on the light of his grandfather with her hefty hugs, happy smile, and shinning eyes.

Artwork: Drake

The boy didn't realize it yet, but as he grew into a man, the same light in his grandfather's eyes which reflected in his mother's eyes, also echoed in him. 
Artwork: Drake

He had the core of a true warrior. A heart which was vulnerable, brave and humourous in the face of darkness. He had the sturdy arms of a fighter and a lover. He was the heritage that came before him.
Artwork: Phoenix

He attracted the love of a quirky, mystical woman and they in turn created three unique and magical children. On the day of each birth, the light passed on and sparkled in the souls of their tiny babes. Life was hard and beautiful. It was a story full of darkness, battles, joys, magic, and epic love.
Lego Styling: Phoenix


And then one day, this warrior's mother became ill. Quite suddenly she passed her energy onward and her ready smiles were no more. The man could no longer see the light in her eyes, hear the song in her voice, or feel the strength in her hugs. He felt empty and cold. The light slowly left his own eyes. His broad arms felt empty and awkward. He felt like he had lost a large battle. He was once again five, huddling beside a casket, wishing to die too.

Artwork: Sophia

Except this time he was laying on her heart, in an empty hospital room, sobbing because not a sound was coming from her chest. The song from her heart felt like it was gone forever. He couldn't hear her breathing and her arms would no longer hug him back, no matter how long he lingered. He was alone. He once again felt unloved, isolated, unworthy and different.

Artwork: Sophia

What he didn't see, was that his grandfather and mother had left him with a beautiful heritage. Inside his soul, their spunky legacy was flickering. Their energy had simply passed in mantel on to him. His light, in turn, was waiting to be passed down to his three magical beings. 

Artwork: Phoenix

But first he had to fight his own battle. He had to face whom he was. Like his favourite Tolkien novel, he had to become like Strider; a king borne who did not know how to take up the role he was born to play and a man who believed that he could not be a warrior, when already he was in the thickest battle.

Artwork: Phoenix

His children could see a faint flame still waiting. His wife could feel the vulnerable, worthy heart beating within. They needed him to believe in his light. Because they felt the same way about him which he felt about his mother and grandfather. They adored his ready laugh, strong arms, and revelled in his worthy differences. 

Artwork: Sophia 

He was their table of life, a vessel upon which they could bring all manner of nurturance. They didn't want him to listen to the critical voices that labelled him too dramatic, sensitive, emotional or sensationalist. They didn't want him to believe that just because he did not portray his faith a certain way or live within a box of familial subscription, that he was flawed or unloved. 

Artwork: Drake

Artwork: Phoenix

His mother portrayed and activated upon this acceptance and it was true, she was no longer present in body, but other voices were waiting to pass on accepting grace. His mother's voice was also within him. Because the very attributes he was criticized on, were often the reasons why he loved the two people in his life that he lost (his grandfather and mother) so much. They were also the warrior qualities he possessed that enabled others to live their lives with joyous abundance.

Artwork: Drake

He didn't know it, but by accepting these qualities within himself, he was fighting for the safety of those who were odd. By accepting his worthiness he was accepting the joy in differences. To love his soul simply because he existed, he was fighting a battle of value and creating light. But first he had to realize that his soldier's sword was the belief that he was worthy himself.
Artwork: Phoenix

Artwork: Drake 
Once upon a time there was a boy, who was a man, with sandy brown hair and giant arm muscles. This man boy used his triceps to hold, cherish, build, and save. But he couldn't seem to save himself. He sat in a chair while his arms held on to pulses of energy. His wife was there watching, begging within her spirit, for him to recognize the mettle within. His mentor was there, asking him to believe in the legacy of his heritage which included a ready smile, a joyous laugh, an easygoing presence and the gift of his personality. This boy man was not alone. He was not empty. He was no longer just a child, but a warrior child, who grew into a man and would pass on a legacy for his children.
Artwork: Drake

Artwork: Phoenix

THIS was the winning moment; He had to get out of the chair and decide to see in himself the glow of worth...

Artwork: Sophia

Once upon a time there was a warrior man, with a long ponytail, who slowly and bravely stood up. He looked at his children and saw their lights. Their beaming aurora had a mystical quality because of their individuality but also because of their heritage. He saw his part in it and he began to believe in his worth. 
Lego Styling: Phoenix

Because when there is a flicker within, it takes great bravery to acknowledge it and set it aflame. It takes a warrior to bend over the fallen and weep, and when it is time, to rise again. It takes a lover and a fighter to cherish three unique littles and be a voice for his ever magically misunderstood wife.
Artwork: Drake

Once upon a time, a new story began. It was full of the dirty grind of the daily, but in this story, there was shimmers, glimmers, and pearly moonbeams. The sunshine was in his smile crinkles. His generous arms mimicked the tenderness of the gentle hands which held him, and the strong muscles who rocked his mother before his light was even thought of. He used these firm biceps to hold his wife and tenderly rock their babies. 

Artwork: Drake
Artwork: Phoenix

His loud laugh amused and delighted, and often the neighbours could hear his joy on a quiet evening, chuckles booming deeply. This sound echoed his mother's and grandfather's loud songs of their hearts and his unique music nurtured magic.

                                                     Photography Captures: Phoenix

Once upon a time there was a grandpa, who brought up a mom, who brought up a son,who married a wife, who birthed three songs, and they carried on...and it wasn't the end, but it wasn't the beginning either...

Artwork: Drake

                                                             Photography: Phoenix

Song choice: For my Husband Until I die "I won't Let You Go"-  James Morrison

You are Not alone- Michael Jackson

Wind Beneath My Wings- Bette Midler

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How? A Dreamer Wondering About How to Activate Change During Historic and Tumultuous Times

During tumultuous times, there are so many "answers," strong opinions and voices swirling around for causes that are both worthy and also causing more harm. "How can we go forward when we don't know which way we are facing?"- John Lennon. The most caution should be considered when we come to a conclusion with absolute, convicted certainty. It is then that we need to question ourselves. 

How do we go forward? 

One of my favourite philosophers wrote the quote above, "He who fights monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."- Friedrich Nietzsche. Unfortunately, many people do not read his writings because some of his famous statements are constantly quoted out of context. But he still has many great teachings to impart... as with all things...with a contrasting challenge. While taking women's feminist studies and sociology a few years back I read many accounts of injustice, history and the fights for freedom. In order to think clearly we must always give consideration to the "other" or our enemies. We must implement change and boundaries effectively but always with a dose of compassionate perspective.

When we use any belief, politic or stance to divide us with the ones we truly love, in our present or gift of living, we miss out on deep love. That said, it's also crucial to implement boundaries for those that misuse. Perhaps, it starts in smaller ways like extended friends or family? We can love them from afar and wish no ill intent but still decide to keep them at arms length. What is important is concentrating on our own circumstances first. Our own families, and countries for that matter- and then the global scale. I am not a liberal but anyone who knows me would also not describe me as conservative. I strangely see merits in both and on some issues go to one side more than the other, but try to balance these out. What I have learned is it takes all types to be in the world and make it a better place- WITH intentionality.

We can and should have freedom to speak but we should also try to consider context and the smaller scale first. Both are legitimate. Both come from a place of love. Boundaries are crucial to love. Activists, philosophers, lyricists and writers, found through living that there are sacrifices to our choices. Some sacrificed family life for a cause while others sacrificed a vocal larger cause for family. Both changed the world in different ways. In everything knowing context and the general audience makes the biggest difference. In misunderstanding, it is crucial to try to find the middle ground while sticking to the authentic self. There are big monsters in our world, but let's concentrate on the inner ones first, our communities and families next, our own countries before we look out into the injustices of the world, but after we have taken care of our own, go towards the fight to freedom globally. If we do not love self we can not know how to love others. If we do not treat our own places with respect, we can not respect other places. I know women's rights and ableism need to have voices and I have been that voice, and will again, but I have also realized sometimes the most effective stance is living the daily with intention.

Hospitality happens by listening as much as speaking, taking pleasure in the sun and evoking love to children when patience is strained. Tolerance involves allowing kids to manifest gender differences around us. In everything it begins with acceptance first and fighting (appropriately) next. As an example, I have yet to see acceptance of those who are autistic as legit voices over the "professionals." Since I am Autistic and I can write, it is important for me to give those personal perspectives at times and respect the story. Until we listen to the stories and respect them we can't take up arms. The stories we find ourselves in are sacred. I hope that in the daily we each find those capsules of love and beauty within these times, like all other historic times, and seek out the story and context.

I am unsure of some of my stances. With the stances I hold strongly, I wish to hold them in an open hand of compassion, because I do not want to get fundamentalist and have my opinions only divide. On the flip side, as a human, I need to hold on to some convictions and take a stand in some. That is what my blog is for but I hope that in other areas I give consideration. The world is so tough and sometimes I have just had enough. This is that time. So many voices but not enough activated, daily love. 

I don't know what to give, so instead I am going to try to live the best life I can, every day, within my circles. I will cherish the freedom of my children. The kisses, cuddles, nourishing food, and beauty in nature. I hope to relish the positive and try to put more of that good energy out into the world at large.

Sometimes the greatest prophets, lyricists and artists have the most contradictory personal lives. We can not judge what will make the difference. Two of my favourite profound artists are John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne because they either wrote great songs or chose songs written by thoughtful lyricists. Some songs pushed buttons, others made peace, and it was generally a mixed bag of contradictions and complexities. My favourite philosophers are also the most heavily judged within the circles I run in. Yet, I feel that these complex individuals gave immense beauty. They were also human and created pain, misunderstanding and oddness. But in the end, I wish to see the beauty and perhaps realize the oddness helped create that beauty. I wish to take the hope, healing, depth and emotion and have it propel me to kindness, boundaries, compassion, joy and belief in all that IS.

"Gazing through the window at the world outside.
Wondering will Mother Earth survive.
Hoping that mankind will stop abusing her, sometime.
After all there's only just the two of us.
And here we are still fighting for our lives.
Watching all of history repeat itself, time after time.
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away.
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days.
I watch the sun go down like everyone of us.
I'm hoping that the dawn will bring a sign.
A better place for those who will come after us, this time.
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away. (oh yeah)
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days.
Your higher power maybe God or Jesus Christ.
It doesn't really matter much to me.
Without each others help there ain't no hope for us.
I'm living in a dream of fantasy, oh yeah yeah yeah!
If only we could all just find serenity.
It would be nice if we could live as one.
When will all this anger, hate and bigotry be gone?
I'm just a dreamer, I dream my life away. (today)
I'm just a dreamer, who dreams of better days. (ok)
I'm just a dreamer, who's searching for the way. (today)
I'm just a dreamer, dreaming my life away. (oh yeah yeah yeah)"
The only answers I have are to savour the life I live and hope that we can all find little pockets of serenity. And maybe, just maybe, if we all concentrate on our own beauty, which is often far more challenging then concentrating on other's issues, we can actually activate change in the larger world? Making the tougher, small changes in our own lives often takes more bravery then speaking out on other's. However, it is important to also throw challenges into the world too. As long as we remember to do BOTH the inner work and the outer work, because "without each other's help there ain't no hope for us." We will always be "watching all of history repeat itself time after time," yet maybe each time, with our individual lives out into the collective, we can slowly make a better place for those who come after us?
 Or maybe I am just a dreamer?