Sunday, June 26, 2016

In the Quiet...

In the quiet, I walk from room to room, picking up little shirts...a mismatched pair of socks, a book, a small stuff animal...
I feel my babies.
I smell them.
I walk outside, barefoot...checking on him working in the garden.


I pass under the tree that just a month ago was covered in blooms, and i look up. 
My eyes shine and a smile spreads across my face when I discover a small fruit.
A crabapple. 
My mind goes back to one of the happiest times of my life, the summer my grandpa was near me and spent a few days at my house with , then, just me and my two diapered babies. We made crabapple butter together and took long drives through the country. He made me stop the car so he could pick me wildflowers. 
I thank God for this surprise...that I would find a house, in the middle of winter, that secretly would hold a beautiful reminder of a light filled memory. 
I keep walking.


The sun is slipping down, it's shining through the pine trees at the far end of the yard. I look at our "center tree" heavy with little berries. I don't know what they are, but they are beautiful. 


Then I find him, laying there, a man content.
I smile.
It's a beautiful moment and I have my camera. 
It's a love moment...where every second of the minute is full of only good.


The sky is glowing with color. 
My heart is full.

-----------------------------------------------------------------





* The next morning while I was gone for groceries my little squirrel and her great big dad surprised me with my garden gate - exactly how I had pictured it. Zac had the idea to cut out a heart for the gate handle, so little miss drew it on...the perfect non symmetrical heart ... and he cut it out. I'm still not sure which cheery color to paint it - a light blue or bright yellow? Green? *

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Them

Hello Joy, I knew you were there.
Just around the corner as you always are, again and again.
Hello colors.
Hello heart.
Hello soul.
I knew you were there, all along - standing beside me, waiting.
You are so patient.



The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
- Henry David Thoreau


I'm not a sad person. I'm a person that is full of joy and light. 
That is the truth.
I have dark moments - that is reality for us all. 
Maybe, supposedly, I have something that makes those moments a little more overwhelming. My choice though is to learn how to walk through them. I appreciate so much my dear friends and all of your sweet encouraging words - but I would like to express that I'm not a depressed person. I have moments of depression - but my valley isn't pitch black. There is always a soft glow hovering over me, there is always a voice that says "I love you" and "come back to me soon, I will be here."
That is Him. That is Love. 
It's a bit of a hike sometimes, getting back. It takes effort. But it's manageable and I'm learning how to manage it. When I write here, in this safe space, it's so that I can breathe. So that I can feel what is actually going on inside of me. Writing is my therapy, reading is my medicine. Please don't be concerned that my next step is jumping off a cliff - the writing is part of my healing. 
It always brings me back to Joy. 
It is hard sometimes for others to read vulnerability - especially those with compassionate souls. 
I understand. 




The hard time that I eluded to in my last post, the loss, seems to have been restored. 
It's been a roller coaster ride, 
but in the end,
it seems that prayers have been heard and Love has won.
For that, I'm extremely thankful and have so much gratitude.


I had the stomach bug for a few days - I think the last time I was that sick was several years ago. It's interesting how a time of no food and sickness forces the body to rest. After the sickness haze lifted, my eyes seemed to see. I think it's what I needed. I think the "bug" was a gift to me because it gave me time to just think about everything that had taken place in the last few weeks, sort through the disaster of my mind, grieve and then come back to a place of thankfulness for what I have.
I think I may see the importance of fasting. It really does quiet the body.




I would say that for a little while I wasn't living in a place of gratitude. I looked around our little place and started really obsessing about what needed to be done - the chores, the projects, the windows, the floors, the fireplace redo. I thought about all that I wanted to give my children - gymnastics and violin lessons and more friends. I thought about what I wanted for me - travel and change and art and alone time with my husband and different foods besides my own. 
Then that period of loss, watching someone else's hurt that I couldn't change for them, the valley - then the time of forced rest. 
The light entered and this is what I saw :


Them.
All five of beautiful them. 
The hot summer air was stifling my house, I went around opening windows - sat on my bed. This cool breeze filtered though the screen and my curtains fluttered and I saw them.
The floors didn't matter anymore because I have a floor.
The fireplace doesn't matter anymore because I have warmth.
The lessons and friends and all of it would be good - but what we have is something special. What I can give them is something special, something unique.
That night I looked in my husbands eyes and I said "I'm scared." 
He looked at me and said "I promise you, I will always be here."
The relief poured in and that glow that had just been hovering filled me and I left the valley.
I have everything I could ever want.

Today it is going to rain. I'm drinking gallons of water. My husband is outside mowing, trying so hard to get my garden, my dream, ready for me. My kids are playing and eating cinnamon rolls that I finally made. It may not be a perfect day, but love lives here. 
Joy always comes back when you are open. Joy always returns when you look beyond yourself. Joy always returns when you take time to learn the truth. Joy always returns when you show gratitude. Joy always returns when you are kind. Joy always returns when you are gentle with yourself. Joy always returns because He is always there. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

For the Sake of Love...An Unbalanced Mind


There I was with a blue Solo cup (decided against red for posterity sake) and a partial bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn't a pleasant time. 
The taste was smooth, the teeth stained slightly red ... not permanently. The feeling wasn't good though. It was a cover up - not an adequate one. 
I just felt pain - just pain. You know...the deep breathing kind. The nauseous kind. The kind where you don't sleep and you write. Just pain.


 Honestly it hasn't made sense. My life is beautiful. There is tea, there are songs, there are afternoons spent looking at clouds (I mean...really?), there are homemade dinners and freshly painted bathrooms. How bad can it be?
Some day I will understand that just because you have a good life doesn't mean you have a pain free life. That is true. All fairytales have trials.
But there is pain right now inside of me that can't be identified. 
I hurt. I hurt all of the time. Not because of the life that I have but for some other reason - some other reason that doesn't make sense. 
Is it normal to watch the tv and see adults laughing together on a beach and cheering to something trivial and feel sad? Is it normal to put a load of laundry in the dryer and watch it tumble and wish you could be in there, going round and round and just tumbling and washing and drying your mind out? My mind could use a wash...a long warm bubbly spinning wash.


Is it fair to have beautiful moments on a blue bench...butterflies navigating their way through your lush yard and a five year old clanking their tea cup against yours and saying "cheers" and then feel happiness and then a dart of sadness?It is for me. 
It always happens. Tragically when it shouldn't and for no reason at all. How can a lover of light be so haunted?  
The pain spreads and spreads and fills and fills and it doesn't stop. The sun is shining bright, too bright for my soul that I squint, I shut my eyes - to cover up my heart with some kind of drape and say "go away, you are too much for me today. I feel too much with you around." The truth is, lately...the sun makes me cry. It is just too lovely. Why does beauty hurt sometimes? Is it because we so desperately need it to flower inside of us and there are just too many dead spots for it to happen right now? Is it because the beauty is the opposite of us? Or is it because it IS us and we can't get back there? I think it's because it's me and that's where I belong...in the gorgeousness. In the light. In the blue sky. In the bird song and in the sticky grass and in the child's smile. I belong there. 

 I'm sad. I guess there is reason for it. I can't fully explain it here, it is too private. The details aren't mine to share. But there is loss. There are certain types of smiles that can be no more...because, you see, their "normal" has ended. Not mine - but theirs. There is nothing I can do for them...and it hurts so much. I wish I could help.  I wish it wasn't this way. 
 Then there is the horrific tragedy that rocked our world a couple days ago and all those beautiful souls lost. 
 I love them so much. I have never met them or even given them a thought until it happened - but I am heartbroken for their families. As for "them" - it is unfair. Lives lost so tragically. Lives lost so young. But what I know is this - they are there in the spiritual realm so free and flying. They are their fullest selves with the One that loves them most. I am happy for that. 



 I'm not sure how the slump will end. I know it will as it always does. The "depths of despair" come and go in my life frequently. There generally is no real true reason for the depths to be as low as they are - but for me, they are as pitch black as I could ever imagine. My imagination is not something to be laughed at - it is as vivid as they come. Motion Pictures could make a bundle off of my thoughts.
Soon, my gaze up from that blue bench into the aspen leaves will be only light...and I will "cheers" with only joy. Until then, I will sip my cabernet from a solo cup because that is as good as it gets for me. I probably won't shower, and I will eat too many pretzels. That is okay. I fought against it being okay...but a couple weeks later, acceptance is all I can muster.
 The loss is unbearable for now, the change is too much for my unbalanced mind. The love is there though...the gratitude doesn't leave.
 Because of that I truly know that Joy Will Come in the Morning. 
Until then, I will watch the night sky slip away into a pink dawn and I will forget that I didn't sleep. 
I will replace the cabernet with black coffee and I will toast bagels for the four little souls that depend so much on their mama. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Full Heart

When you buy your house in the dead of winter, spring becomes one long gift.
New sunsets every evening, that I can see ... right from my deck.
Sunshine slowly settling down behind dark blue peaks, oranges and highlights and birds above. 
One long continuous gift. 


Everyday I spot something new - a flower or a bit of moss or a new tree blooming. 
Our yard really isn't that big but Heavenly Father gifted me with lots of trees. 
 He knows what makes my heart tick. 
When you love nature, when you delight in God made beauty, 
life really is a never ending present. 


The trees all have their leaves, each time a breeze blows they laugh 
Branches raised high in worship, 
back and forth,
back and forth.


We are planning out our garden - it will be small but enough. 
It isn't planted yet but that's okay. 
Small steps - raised beds made out of scrap wood, a fence to plan.
We will have to buy veggies that are already sprouted this year just because we are so behind. 
A couple of days ago it hailed so much though that if we would have planted, we would have lost.
I guess we aren't behind - we're fortunate. 


I found this lovely plum and blue flower in the front yard. I imagined the person that planted the bulb ... if you plants bulbs ... you are a person that nourishes hope. I thought about that person, here in this house ...with all of it's 1980's fixtures ... and wondered if they were happy. They must have been.


The lilacs bloomed (are they lilacs?) Whatever they are, their scent is as soft as their color. 




My little fish have found a new home - the sound of their little wooden fins clacking against each other is one of my favorite summer sounds. 
Peace, even for a moment - the little wooden fish bring me peace.


"Greatness is not where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.
Me must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -
but sail we must and not drift
nor lie at anchor."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes


Little Koala Bear has made his bit of dirt patch. Since  he was about one years old I have watched him warm day after warm day, sitting in a bit of dirt, taking the grains into his hand and slowly watching them sift through his fingers
. He does it over and over again, his eyes studying the falling dirt. He inspires me. I wonder what he sees that I don't see? I wonder what his hands feel that maybe mine can't? This part of his autism ... an everlasting gift. Joy in the ordinary.
I guess ... dirt is pretty special. 


We are also getting things ready for Trinity's little dollhouse family - they like to be outdoors don't you know ... with the warm air and everything. A bit of felt and a picket fence and they are set for soaking up the sun. 


This photo is a little out of place - but this is the hail that fell. Remember the gorgeous purple flower? It had one lovely day of life, one gorgeous day to stand proud and wave her colors and be admired.
Then she was gone. 


During this day-long cold snap I tried painting again.



It was my first landscape painting - I have MUCH to learn about values, but for just a bit...while the cold air was wrapping itself around our house, I was in a warm grassy meadow, my hand propped on a rustic fence post, watching the daisies dance.


...and just like that, the chilliness is gone today, and the kids are outside playing. 



The sun is in their hair, the grass tickling their feet. 
They are laughing and imagining.
They teach me. I watch them and I learn. 
Light of heart, real emotions, relaxed, enjoying their hands and their feet and their voices.
I learn. 


Through my camera I see my little blessings and I have such deep gratitude that a lump forms in my throat and I feel overwhelmed with what I have. 
Children, such an everlasting gift when you love them for exactly who they are. 


"Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
The fruit of the womb is generous legacy?
Like a warriors fistful of arrows
Are the children of a vigorous youth!
Oh, how blessed are you parents with your quivers full of children."
- Pslam 127:3-5 The Message




I'm grateful for the trees, for the purple flowers, for the bird song.
I'm grateful for the deck and my view of the sunset.
I'm grateful for late gardens and balls of ice that fall from the sky,
I'm grateful for a new home.
I'm grateful for colors on canvas,
for creativity.


But out of all those things - I am most grateful for my littles. 
A "quiver" isn't one specific size. It holds how many you need, how many you are given.
A quiver is the heart - and if that heart is full of them ... there is no greater blessing than to love another with all of you, the best you can. Vigorously. 

Have a lovely weekend friends,
Alyssa Spring

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. 
Addicting. 


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