Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Autism - Loving the Unlovable ... Myself

Our days have gotten a bit longer. 
The moon comes out in time for a soft goodnight, 
the trees in our yard bloomed - this past week they have been raining white petals.

I wish I could say that it was warm and sunny, but I guess without the drizzle and the wind we wouldn't have such magnificent clouds to look at. The last two days have felt so much like fall that last night I made the kids sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, veggies and bread and butter. 
That's just the way I roll. 
As I type, I have a 9X13 pan of vegan fudge pistachio brownies baking ... I'm out of fruit.
When your out of healthy things, one isn't left with much of a choice.
Really I just needed chocolate.
The scent of chocolate and rain makes me feel pensive. 
Home sometimes makes me feel like a stranger.
I can't explain it.
It's like I belong, but don't belong. 
Ever thought you were born in the wrong lifetime, or live in the wrong part of the earth?
I think I'm suppose to live in Maui. Pretty sure about that.

The last couple of weeks have been hard. 
Not horrible by any means ... still lots of moments of sunshine and smiles, quiet moments with books and puzzles and coffee. Don't fret. 
I've felt alone though in my battle/acceptance of Aspergers.
My little Brady experienced 3 straight weeks of frustration, tears, and just overall - horribleness.
It's hard when you can't figure out the puzzle.
Was it something he ate?
Was it the weather?
Did I change a routine?
Is the once a week soccer practice triggering him?
Am I not patient enough?
Did I use the wrong tone?

This has been my child his whole life. It's a constant cycle of a little bit good, a little bit bad, rage, spinning, being scared of things that even my little Finn isn't scared of (crossing the street, going to the store, butterflies coming to close...)
I tend to do fine when what I will call the "hard cycle" hits (when he is laughing uncontrollably, aggressive with us and his siblings, growling, scrunching his nose and glaring continually at everything, has no control over his body or bodily functions.)
 I have some tools in my tool belt. I usually have to keep him on a strict schedule, limit his playtime with the other kids, we can't play any type of board game with him, I have to use a reward schedule...generally I know it will be one or two very long days and then he will get back to a "normal cycle " (needing assistance with play and conversations with others, needing a semi-routine day.) The last 3 weeks have been one long hard cycle with no relief. 

The moments I have cherished are the quiet times when he hasn't been around. That's just the truth.
 I can't explain how horrible that make me feel as a parent - to just own it and to say out loud "I have to have a break from this child because I'm going to do harm to him or me or something glass if I'm here another second." 
Like I said, a day or two at a time...sometimes a week, but 3 weeks? 
Then, two days ago, he comes down the steps for breakfast and, in just the way his jaw was set, I could tell there was a change. He was much calmer, his conversation was "normal cycle" with even kind remarks intermingled. He was super sweet and thoughtful and even helpful the entire day. 
Then he was the next day. 
Today he is still doing well, just needed some assistance during playtime. 
I've taken a breath.

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
 Thomas Merton

I want to love all of the versions of my kid.
 I love all of HIM - I'm unconditionally there day in and day out. Even when I have to run to my room to get some air, console the child he hurt and then try to get him to communicate what is going on in his head so I can help sort it out - I'm there. I know that after my small break I will re -emerge and I will figure it out. I will figure him out. 
I will never give up on my child. I will never run away from home. I will never make him feel like he is distasteful to me.
But, I do have to give myself grace when I don't like his "hard cycles."
 I hate them.
They make me want to scream. They make me want to cry. They make me want to drink. They make me want to hide ... somewhere. 

In the midst of making me a stronger person, I feel weak.
In the midst of loving someone without fail I question my commitment.
If you have ever been physically attacked by someone having a meltdown, you will understand. 
It's not easy to have things escalate to a point that it looks like a cat got hold of your arm. 
It's not easy to recognize that maybe you caused it to escalate because you said "this" instead of "this." None of it is easy. 
When I was calming down from several of our recent battles I would remind myself "this isn't my little boy doing this ... this is his mind exploding and he doesn't know what to do. I need to help him."
That is the only "trick" I have. 
I put myself in his shoes as much as possible - it's an exhausting place to step. 
I guess my trick is called empathy.

What I hate most about these long hard cycles is that I get to see the version of me I don't like either. We all have that version. 
Like it or not, we all prefer certain versions of people and ourselves. We may love all of them, but there are things we don't like. A screaming baby or a giggling baby? You pick.  An angry toddler or a happy toddler? I would take the happy toddler all day long. Happy toddlers are the bees knees.
A husband that is watching tv all day or one that is holding your hand and talking and connecting. The second thank you very much.
The friend that is self absorbed or the friend that is equal and caring? 
We all have versions. 
Sad us or happy us? Motivated us or unmotivated us? Creative us or uncreative us? Bitter us or forgiving us? 
The trick is loving ourselves even when we aren't are best. 

There is nothing weak about feeling sad. There is nothing weak about feeling confused. There is nothing wrong about preferring our child when they are like "this" then like "that." 
It's like weather ... I like rainy days and sunny days. I prefer sunny days. However, if I never heard rain spattering against the window panes again, or smelled the wet earth - I would be sad. In the grand scheme of things, I need both to have balance. 
We need good days and bad. We need them so we can experience being grateful, so we can experience being strong through weakness, so we can experience choosing love when it would maybe feel better to run. We need grief, we need sorrow so that when things aren't sorrowful we can appreciate laughter. If we laughed all of the time it probably wouldn't be as special. 
I love someone with Aspergers. Through him not being able to express empathy, my empathy has grown leaps and bounds. Through him being unstable, I have become a more stable person. Through him not understanding his emotions, I have been forced to understand mine...so that I can help him. Through him being afraid of people, I have learned to be brave with people, to draw boundaries with people, and to be myself no matter what feathers that ruffles. 
Brady has taught me that. 

I love that little boy. It breaks my heart to ever feel upset at him or at what he is. It breaks my heart to know that sometimes I wish he was different. It hurts my head to know that I'm probably in for another long hard cycle pretty soon. 
But I'm grateful for today and for his smile. 
I made him brownies. 
I'm grateful today for his eye contact and for his body standing semi-still. 
I'm grateful today for self love.

“If people are going to be allowed to say "we love you" and "I love you", they'd better have the backbone to prove it. Love isn't just a word.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

“Perhaps real love doesn't recognize a person, it recognizes a space in another. Space that allows us to show and receive love. Space that is supportive of self-expression. A safe space. It looks past the exterior human “shell.” 
― Camille LucyThe (Real) Love Experiment: Explore Love, Relationships & the Self

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Pictures, Not My Words

“Grace is what picks me up and lifts my wings high above and I fly! Grace always conquers! Be graceful in everything; in anger, in sadness, in joy, in kindness, in unkindness, retain grace with you!” 
― C. JoyBell C.

“Pain is a pesky part of being human, I've learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can't be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.” 
― C. JoyBell C.

Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful. ~Jim Carrey

“For better or worse, honeybees are often much too busy to be bothered with personal reflection.” 
― Susan BrackneyPlan Bee: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Hardest-Working Creatures on the Planet

Well, one can't get over the habit of being a little girl all at once.... I'm sure I'll always feel like a child in the woods. These walks home from school are almost the only time I have for dreaming.... [H]ere in the woods I like best to imagine quite different things…I'm a dryad living in an old pine, or a little brown wood-elf hiding under a crinkled leaf. That white birch you caught me kissing is a sister of mine. The only difference is, she's a tree and I'm a girl, but that's no real difference. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea, 1909

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” 
― Ray BradburyDandelion Wine

The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size. ~Gertrude S. Wister

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Soaking It All In

Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.
~ Alice Walker

I would like to add...whenever mothers are creating beauty around them, or noticing beauty around them ...unapologetic-ally, delighting in gorgeousness ... she is restoring not only her soul, but also her childrens'.

There we sat, under the tree (I think the kids decided on the name  Everly for her) ... watching the birds and listening to the bees - finding the invisible trail that the ants follow ...licking the first Popsicles of the season. Tristan got up and put his little plush turtle in the tree and said "there mom, it's hugging the tree. You know mom, you have to take very good care of trees." 

We laid on our backs and looked up into branches and blooms and sun. I took a deep breath and said "kids, close your eyes and breath in deeply...you know what that is?" Little eyes shut and freckled noses wrinkled and chests puffed up with the deep breath ... "that's pine" I said. 

Bug came and sat in my lap, cuddled his head against my heart and I said "I love you so much Finn, you are my very good friend." He looked up and said "I like you too." 
I don't know why I ever complain that I need more people in my life when these four treasured humans fill me to the brim. They need me and like me. 
Today we talked about feelings while sitting on the blanket. It was a perfect unschool moment - just plain soaking in good character. We talked about kindness and protecting little animals and people and bugs. We talked about the good parts of beetles and bees and  ants. 
We tried saying the word “myrmecology”
We laughed a lot.

Tristan reminded us that he loves little ants and likes them to crawl on his skin. 

“Children are great imitators of others' behavior. When they are surrounded by people who love them and respond to them respectfully, and with empathy, they respond this way to others, too.”
 -- Tamara Parnay

These little faces ...
hopes and dreams and potential
that's what is in a little face
or should be.

We named the trees, the butterflies ... the robin that plucks around in our yard. They named the dove (well...all of the doves) Skyler. Tonight we will drink mineral water and watch the sky glow orange. We will sit and watch the sun slip down behind the mountains, and I will look around me and feel grateful. 

"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."
 -- Emma Goldman

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Pictures ... Not My Words

“Don't be a prisoner of people's opinion of you, become liberated in God's design of You. 
You are beautifully made.” 
― Farshad Asl

“Learning to let go is not giving up! It is simply passing the burden to a better fighter, so you can fight another day. (God)” 
― Shannon L. Alder

“Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under!” 
― C. JoyBell C

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” 
― Rabindranath TagoreStray Birds

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.
We leave you a tradition with a future.
The tender loving care of human beings will never become obsolete.
People even more than things have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed and redeemed and redeemed.
Never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

Your “good old days” are still ahead of you, may you have many of them.” 
― Sam LevensonIn One Era & Out the Other

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part Two: Nature


LIGHT exists in spring
  Not present on the year
At any other period.
  When March is scarcely here
A color stands abroad        5
  On solitary hills
That silence cannot overtake,
  But human nature feels.
It waits upon the lawn;
  It shows the furthest tree        10
Upon the furthest slope we know;
  It almost speaks to me.
Then, as horizons step,
  Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,        15
  It passes, and we stay:
A quality of loss
  Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
  Upon a sacrament.        20

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” 
― Rumi

“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” 
― Jack LondonThe Call of the Wild

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day my dear friends. 
This is my favorite day of the entire year. Yes. I love it more then Christmas. 
Waking up, breathing in and being reminded that today is a day for drinking in beauty, for creating, for learning, for protecting ...should happen everyday. 
Earth day though - was designed for that purpose alone.  It's a simple day - not a lot of fuss, just a slow fulfilling beauty. I hope it was for you too. 
Here is what we have done so far ...

~ My two middle littles created friendship necklaces for each other, no help from me. They sat down with bowls of beads and each of them put the letters for the other's name on the string - and then... the most precious part ... they added a word. 
Trinity gave Tristan one that said "Tristan Kind."
Tristan gave one to Trinity that said "Trinity Love."
My heart melted just a bit. By the time these kids are grown, either my heart will be completely evaporated into the atmosphere or it'll be so big I'll have to tote it behind me in a buggy of sorts.

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” —John Muir

~ We took a little walk and discovered dandelions ... we ate one. We had just been learning about all of the wonderful healing properties of the dandelion so I told the kids maybe tomorrow they could run out and harvest some, and I would wash them and throw a few flowers in their smoothies. Drinking flowers sounds like heaven to me. 
(I would never refer to these golden sunshine beauties as weeds.)

~ We've been eating a LOT of fruit and greens. I bought my first big box of bananas last week and am still waiting on most of them to get spotty. I kind of felt like the "real deal" walking out of Whole Foods with my 41 pounds of bananas. This morning we found some lovely organic pears on sale and also some avacado. There is something about fruit that makes me feel very very fulfilled. I'm not sure if it's the texture, the color, the variety ... or just the loads of natural sweetness I'm putting into my body - but it's a good thing. I know I've said this all before...

~ So I've been painting a bit - just playing around. I really know nothing about painting. I've never taken a class, looked at a color wheel...I use the cheapest products ... but I'm learning. I think more importantly ...I'm relaxing. I spent tons of time one day trying to follow along an online lesson and my work, well...it looked nothing like it was suppose to look. It was stressful. 
Stress is the opposite of creativity.
 Realizing this, I told myself  "self, why not just paint over it and start putting color down?It's your canvas - it will never go on display. It's not suppose to be perfect, it's suppose to be art." 
 Music was playing, the kids were in bed ... and when I finally looked at the clock I had been having fun for over three hours. It's still not finished but I enjoyed painting this little number probably the most out of anything I've done so far. I made it about me. It may be a little cheesy, or trippy...but I'm kind of both those things. 
If the painting fits and all...own it. 

~ I'm really enjoying "dot work"
~ Someday, maybe...I will stop painting trees. But for now, it's what I do.

~ We ate lunch outside today ... with the birds and the bees and the deer. I had these delicious grape tomatoes - aren't they pretty? Little antioxidant rubies ... i could string you on a necklace. 

~ Brady Bunches has been kind of in his own world the last couple of days but he did enjoy eating on the deck with me and he was the one to spot the deer. 

“The good man is the friend of all living things.” ~ Gandhi

~ We spent quite a while on the deck soaking in the rays (and yes, those are my legs, unfiltered. They don't get any darker then that.)
~ The breeze was amazing. 
~ We picked out a new nail polish color at Whole Foods (I care nothing for nail polish but my little kids love it ) so that we could paint our toenails the color of the Earth. 

~ Bug let me paint his this time and kept saying over and over "oh wow, this is really dry now. Wow, this is really blue fo eart day." He blesses my soul. There is nothing sweeter in the world then little feet. Finn's feet are the littlest around here and growing fast - I don't know what I'm going to do when I can't kiss their little toes anymore. 

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature."
~ Anne Frank

"When I see birches bend to left and right...
I like to think some boy's been swinging them."
~ Robert Frost

~ The kids found this little ladybug climbing up their slide and from the commotion they were making, you would have thought they found gold. I wonder if this little miss felt like she had discovered the sun? 

~ Tristan found an ant friend and let him crawl all over his body for much longer then I would have comfortable with. Koala just loves the way they tickle him, as if it's their private game. 
Then, as if we weren't blessed enough .... the littles and I looked up and just in front of us, a dainty orange butterfly went floating by - first spotting of the season.
I tell my kids whenever they see a butterfly to remember that God is sending a message of love to them. I felt a huge heap of gratitude. 

~ We found eyes in the trees. 

The kids have been asking me for quite awhile if they could paint. The carefree mother would say "absolutely, let's all do that right now." I'm not this person. I wish I could be. I'm not. 
But I did give them a day that we would, went to the store and bought supplies....and then today, when I handed each of them a canvas and said "let's paint" ... I handed them the world. 
Anticipation can be a pretty helpful character builder. 

~ We painted outside beneath the trees, our feet deep in grass ... each kid picked what they wanted to paint.  Brady didn't join us but that was okay. I don't believe in pushing creativity - and the truth is, Little Love is very creative in his own way with movie making and right now, drawing jerseys with fabric markers and t shirts. I do miss his participation, but I also know that him being alone and processing is a big part of his life that doesn't need to be interrupted. 

~ Finn wanted to paint flowers and a bumble bee. He did all the blue background,  the orange flowers and stems  and the "bumble bee" (left)  all by himself. This was his first time painting and I'm pretty certain by his facial expression ...not the last.

~ Tristan did a great job on his Earth ... he is my galaxy boy through and through. He loves stars and moons and planets. He loves animals and plants and bugs. He loves apples - lots and lots of apples. He is compassion to the greatest degree. 

~ Trinity made a picture of a heart growing and blooming toward heaven ...
reminds me of her spirit. Just like my painting I could call "self portrait" , this little painting could be Trin's. She is love, always growing, always experimenting, her emotions swaying and changing like the colors on her canvas. In the end, standing tall, reaching for Light, and no matter what - letting love shine through. 

“One of my students told me that every time she learns the name of a plant, she feels as if she is meeting someone new. Giving a name to something is a way of knowing it.” 
― Richard LouvLast Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

“Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually.” 

Alyssa Spring