Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

WONDERFUL WORLD, BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
October 16, 2017

“Take a look at the world,
and the state that it’s in today,
I am sure you’ll agree,
We all could make it a better way.
With our love put together,
Ev’rybody learn to love each other,
Instead of fussing and fighting.”
Jimmy Cliff

There have been so many natural and human disasters around the world recently. It seems endless and it seems impossible to know what to do to help besides throwing whatever money one can afford to throw. But that doesn’t feel like it’s enough and it precludes any direct connection with the victims, and fall out.

After seeing the devastation in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the tragic aftermath of the senseless shootings in Las Vegas, or the massive loss of life in Somalia due to two car bombings, we look to one another for answers, comfort, and relief. We hold our loved ones tighter and make effort to let those we love, know we love them. We join campaigns and donate to organizations to provide assistance. We hope that our own cities won’t be the next struck by any kind of tragedy, natural or manmade. And we then we go about our lives feeling we’ve helped.

And we have. Being kind to one another is important and providing much needed funds to relief efforts is necessary. Going about our normal daily lives is also important both for our communities, our families, and us.

But there are some people who think outside the box and make effort to effect change and to impart a different kind of care, the care of action. I am blessed to know one such angel, and I want to share what she did in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. She made a pilgrimage of kindness to Las Vegas; where she did fifty-eight acts of kindness, encouraging each recipient to pay it forward themselves, in honor of each of the fifty-eight victims.

The deeds ranged from surprising random diners in Flaming Fajitas with gift cards to cover their meals, to presenting flowers to a senior in an assisted living home, to paying for haircuts at a local Fantastic Sam’s, to bringing pizzas to the first responding police station, to providing her cab driver with a generous tip, that he then donated to a collection his company had going to provide aid to the victims, and so much more. Each deed was accompanied by a note with the name, hometown and age of the shooting victim she was honoring. Many of the recipients had stories of their own to share with her and ideas for paying her kindness forward on their own.

She touched an entire city. She connected with people on a whole different level. The local paper caught wind of her mission and wrote about her. She shared the journey on Facebook and had lots of supporters wanting to help facilitate her passion. She took the idea of helping a step further than most of us even conceive. I know her to be one of the kindest, most caring, friendly, enthusiastic people I’ve ever met and I’ve been inspired by her since she came into my life. I aim to think outside the box like she does. I hope you will find inspiration in her actions too.

58 Acts of Kindness

JUST LIKE STARTING OVER
September 19, 2017

I’m one month out, post surgery. I got the clearance to begin easing back into physical activity. I can walk with vigor, exercise moderately, and tend to some of Cole’s needs (still not quite ready for heavy lifting, but can move towards it over the next few weeks). I’ve been back in the office since the start of the third week. I tired quickly at first but I feel like myself again.

Yesterday all of the surgical tape was removed, and I got my first clear view of my new self. While the procedure was prompted by health concerns and constant pain, I must say the superficial benefits of it are pretty amazing. I actually have breasts that fit my frame and compliment my body. I feel lighter, stand taller, and am completely inspired to get the rest of me in better shape to better suit my new boobs. All of my clothes fit differently too.

As I wrote previously, the aching pain I have suffered from for twenty odd years is gone. Though I haven’t been able to lift Cole yet, I can tell that not having so much body in front of me, will be an asset in lifting him safely and more comfortably, especially as I move deeper into my fifties and beyond. The need to lift him and support his body whilst taking care of personal needs and dressing is not going to end.

It will be several months before I’m completely healed, and at least one or two more before my new breasts settle into their final size, but even just four weeks in, I have to say it was worth all of the hardship I’ve inflicted on my poor husband and child, who have had to make adjustments to their routines to accommodate my needs. At the end of the day, it’s just a few months in the lifetime we will continue to share. From here on out, each day will give me a chance to get stronger, healthier and to become more the self I dream of.

Doing something this major, largely for myself, has taught me that it’s okay to take chances on myself. I view it as an opportunity to reset some of the habits I’ve fallen into over the years of my adult life. I am eager to continue transforming myself both physically, through better eating and regular exercise, mentally, by engaging in things that interest me and feed my soul, and emotionally, by trying to be a better wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister – a better me. My guys and my friends have shown tremendous kindness, support and love during this process and I want to keep that alive in all of my relationships.

Who knew that new boobs could lead to such a whole being revolution?

SHARP DRESSED MAN
July 24, 2017

My boy is growing up.

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Sometimes it’s hard to see the subtle changes in his personality, demeanor, and interests as he ages. There are delays to be sure, and some changes are diminished because he simply doesn’t have the communication skills necessary to adequately express everything that he’s feeling internally. I like to think, hope, that we’ve all (me, Dan and Cole) got some of the communication down to where the important things, especially, are eventually made known.

This past weekend, after running a few necessary errands, Cole vehemently did not want to go home. Having groceries in the hot car, we agreed to stop at home so Dan could run things inside, while I talked to Cole about where he wanted to go. He actually really seemed to need to go somewhere. Turns out he really wanted to go to the mall to do a little clothes shopping for himself.

I’m a big fan of on-line shopping, especially for his clothes. He hasn’t shown much interest in what he wears until recently so it works out pretty well. I made a promise along time ago not to dress him stupidly and I’ve managed to keep it thus far. I frequently ask for his opinion of things and recently he showed interest in selecting a new swim suit ( a cute crew cuts pair of navy trunks with little orange embroidered stars) and rash guard for an upcoming beach get-away.

Needless to say, the mall excursion came as a bit of surprise. He happily searched through Gap Kids looking for, what exactly, I don’t know. We left with a cheery striped polo shirt and a pair of madras plaid Bermuda shorts. Both confidently selected by the boy. He tightly held on to the bag as we continued through the mall (and even into the car). We didn’t find anything else he was keen on, and he made it pretty clear that this trip was not intended for parent browsing or shopping (though his dad did manage to snag a little something on sale at Lucky, despite protests from the boy).

He proudly wore his shirt to summer school today, and has already requested that it be cleaned and ready to pack for our trip. I’ve promised to involve him in any future shopping for his needs. It adds another layer to the process but it will be interesting and fun to see where his taste takes him. Just another reminder of how important it is for him to have every opportunity to express himself, with wardrobe, words, and whatever other ways he finds.

IF MUSIC COULD TALK
January 6, 2016

I realized today that I haven’t provided the songs and artists that title my blog entries for quite a long while. I thought I’d use this rainy gloomy day as my chance to get you caught up with the songs and tomorrow with a new playlist for Cole for January.

Music plays a huge part in our lives. It was always in my house growing up and my dad used to take me to see live music, heavy on the jazz. I discovered punk rock in the late ‘70’s, which influenced my youth in a big way. While I like all kinds of music and as a teen, young adult, went through phases where in addition to the punk rock, I’d listen to Patsy Cline or the ‘60’s girl groups incessantly.

My husband too grew up around a lot of music. He played in bands, sang with a somewhat tongue in cheek quartet and spent much of his formative years seeing bands in clubs in the Baltimore/DC area.

Music has been in Cole’s life from the start. We sang to my growing belly, and broke out every Beatles and Elvis Costello song we could remember once he was born, singing to him in the NICU while he was healing and recovering those first tenuous frightful weeks after his birth. He’s been exposed to everything we love, and shot down most of it, opting for discovering his own favorites. Our influence doesn’t really interest him but he does love music and is interested in exploring which is why I started creating monthly playlists for him.

When I started blogging last year, I decided to try to title each blog with a song title that somehow, in my mind, related to the blog topic. Following are the titles with the song artists for the past couple of months, including today’s:

If Music Could Talk – The Clash
Girl, Afraid – The Smiths
Innocent – Taylor Swift
Christmas Present – Andy Williams
Smile – Lily Allen
Thank you – Sly & The Family Stone
Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles
I Am The DJ (Series 11) – David Bowie
Say It Isn’t So – Hall & Oates
Ball of Confusion – Love & Rockets
Frustration – Soft Cell
That Old Feeling – Frank Sinatra
All Together Now – The Beatles
Run The World – Beyonce
Love & Happiness – Al Green
Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
Baby Elephant Walk – Henry Mancini
Reinvention – Superchick
I Hate My School – Redd Kross
Phenomenal Cat – The Kinks
Restless – The Bangles

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GIRL AFRAID
January 5, 2016

The New Year always brings thoughts of improvement, change, and resolve. It always seems like the time to devote oneself to overhauling ourselves, our finances, our jobs, our lives, and despite my reeling against making resolutions, I do find myself in that same contemplative mindset.

The big ah ha for me is that I am my own worst enemy. I seem to get in the way of my own success or interest far more often than I don’t. A big part of my problem is that I have become a creature of comfort. Where I once barreled into things head on, I now research, create excuses, and find myself sitting resolutely where I am comfortable.

Comfort however should not be construed as content or satisfied. It’s simply a place where I know what is expected, or how to do maneuver, or how to behave. Some of this comes naturally with age and some of it comes from trying to maintain some sort of control in a life where I often have very little and some of it comes from fear.

Fear can be debilitating. I don’t think I’m that extreme but I do have a level of fear of the unknown that frequently keeps me from reaching a perceived goal or intention, or from trying new things.

I really started thinking quite a lot about this as we began contemplating our annual family trip to Mammoth so Cole and Dan can ski. We’ve been doing this for several years now with three or four other families in tow.   I learned to ski when I was nine and skied often until I was in my early 20’s. I was actually pretty good and really loved the sport.

I haven’t skied on any of the recent trips. The first year my excuse was that I needed to be available for Cole, who skis with an amazing adaptive program, Eastern Sierra Disabled Sports, in case he wanted to stop or needed anything. The next year, I got it in my head that I would fall and hurt myself and it was all over.

This year, I’m skiing. So what if I fall. I’ve fallen lots of times in the past and I know how to fall and to get up. I’m not that fragile and I want to have fun skiing with my husband and friends.

I do the same sort of thing to myself concerning my weight. I know how to be the fat girl. I know how to be the curvy one. I know how to handle myself with extra padding. When I start to lose weight and am working towards becoming fitter, stronger, and yes, thinner, I sabotage myself. The minute it becomes noticeable, I feel less confident with the attention and begin the slow decline of success. I’m not good at envisioning myself at my goal where I will likely be less comfortable, even if I’m healthier and smaller.

This past year or more I’ve actually managed to keep weight off despite my best efforts to thwart myself.   I’m intending to rejuvenate the efforts to improve my health and to lose weight, to lose baggage. The reality is that there is more to fear in staying where I am, as I am, in terms of longevity. It’s time to learn how to deal with my own discomfort and my own pathos so that I can become a support to myself, not a hindrance.

I’ll save some of the other fears for another time. I know I’m not alone in this pathos and I know it’s a challenge to get out of my own way, but I face challenges all of the time as Cole’s mom and I don’t view them the same way I view my own. I would move heaven and earth to make every day of his life better, easier, more fulfilled. I just need to try to give myself the same care and attention. The better off I am, the better able I am to rise to his needs.

Here’s to a New Year! One filled with first steps, second steps, and new steps.

SEE THE LIGHT
September 11, 2015

This week has been all about filling my mental toolbox.

I’ve come to realize that if I want to successfully help Cole with is anxiety I need to arm myself with some useful tools and strategies. My approach, generally to try to reassure him that everything is going to be all right and to spell out every step of each day so that he has a complete understanding of the days expectations isn’t working, even just a little bit. Last night I started reading a book about dealing with kid and teen anxiety and they eschewed my instinctive actions practically from the first page, so I have some reading to do this weekend to see if I myself can get a better understanding of anxiety and methods for supporting Cole.

I am also adding some creative tools to my box. I have quite a few DIY home projects I want to work on and while I’m not necessarily a builder, designer, or mason (some involve brickwork!), I do have some visionary qualities and want to build on that. Saturday night I’m attending an art party where I’ll paint and drink wine, both with the intention of sparking my creativity. I’m not a painter, but it sounds fun and I’ve come to realize that I don’t pursue fun enough. I need to play more!

I’ve also recognized that I have a tendency to procrastinate so I’ve been working on moving myself forward instead of being stagnant. The summer left me a bit shell shocked and I felt like I didn’t accomplish any of the little projects I had wanted to take care of whilst being tethered to the home front. Now they are all screaming at me to take care of them!  Each little task that gets handled makes me feel lighter, and brighter.

Even though things are still in flux and Cole’s still not back to his old self entirely, I realized that me standing still isn’t going to help anyone.

On a really positive note today, Cole happily stood up for about ten minutes at his physical therapy evaluation…Maybe he realized that moving forward even just upward, is better for him too!

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LET’S GET PHYSICAL
April 20, 2015

(An obvious song choice but how I could I not?)

Finding time to exercise is a chore. I’m not inherently disposed to love exercise, although I really do enjoy being physical and moving my body. I just have to find the right mix of good workout, interest and perhaps passion. A friend I know loves yoga and dance, and looks forward to her classes as they bring her joy. Physical movement and challenging your body and mind kind of joy which to me is a great thing and I wish I could find the class(es) or activities that could bring this to my life, and that I can actually fit into my daily life.

I know a lot of people struggle with this. In the realm of life, we all know we need to exercise and that it’s something that we should prioritize in our daily lives in order to maintain good health and sanity. I know this. I know this. I know this.

But I can’t manage to do it.

I took What’s Your Fitness Personality, an online quiz I found that resulted in me being a “seeker”. My results suggested that I pursue running, walking, weight training and martial arts. Apparently I’m goal driven and self-motivated. I have both of these traits in life, but not when it comes to setting fitness goals and self-motivating my ass out the door to workout.

I’m not a runner, though I do imagine myself running from time to time. It’s a workout that I know I could fit into my weekday because I can do it in my neighborhood, before or after work, and it doesn’t require equipment or cost. I actually want to like running but again struggle with starting it.

Given that I’m (allegedly) goal driven, I found a couple of online routines that promise to take you from zero to running 30 continuous minutes in eight weeks, and a six week training program that takes you from zero to running a 5K. Both seem reasonable and both interest me. Running for 30 minutes straight seems like an achievable goal, as does training for a 5k. Reaching one or both goals would be empowering.

But no one tells you how to push yourself out the door on that first day…HELP!

DON’T STOP ME NOW
January 29, 2015

We had Cole’s IEP today. The IEP is our annual review of educational goals that we, together with Cole’s team (which includes speech therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, teachers and school administration), set each year. It’s a bit more involved than that but in general its purpose is to ensure that the necessary services are in place to help facilitate his access to the curriculum and support his needs. All in all today went well and the process was collaborative and informative, with what feel like achievable goals that all, in one way or another, tie to improving and expanding his communication skills, which we feel is vital to his success in school, and in life.

I left the IEP feeling positive and as I drove to work I continued to think about the morning. Despite the process and conclusion of the IEP being positive, it also strangely serves as a reality check. In order for it to be successful and appropriate, we have to accept that some goals from the previous year were not met and that even though we believe that Cole could have, should have achieved them, he did not. There are so many factors that play into his success. Some he can control and some that are out of his hands.

The effort that is required of him to construct even a small sentence or find specific fields in his Tobii (the eye gaze voice output device he uses to “talk”) is considerable and if he’s distracted by a friend or sound or himself, starting over makes the process that much harder and after time, that much less interesting to him.

Motivation seemed to be a running theme. Like most kids, when he has an interest or curiosity he can be quite adept at finding the word or words to communicate. When he’s relaxed and no one is paying too much attention to him, he can quickly find things on his Tobii, or can say actual words. There’s no stress or pressing need. However, when pushed to a task or asked to find specific words or phrases on Tobii, he seems to have trouble focusing, or worse, doesn’t always want to, and therefore does not try.

In addition to highlighting his strengths, the IEP shines light on his weaknesses and brings some of his limitations to the forefront. In our family, we tend to lead with hope. We have instilled the belief that he can do anything he wants to do as long as he tries, or as long as we can figure out a way that works for him. But sometimes we’re reminded that despite our best efforts, despite his best efforts, that may not always be his truth. It’s a hard thing to have to face and accept the realities of a life so young. It’s not always easy to recognize that as amazing as Cole is, there are going to be limits. Limits we intend to stretch and expand as much as possible to ensure that his life is rich and full, and that he’s the best Cole he can be, but limits nonetheless.

That’s when the tears flow…

WHEN I WRITE THE BOOK
January 14, 2015

This year I’m determined to learn how to better promote my blog. I’d at least like to figure out how to link it to a Facebook page I created for it. I’ve come to realize that I enjoy sharing my writing more than I previously thought I did. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m full of great wisdom or extraordinary insights or humor but I love the outlet writing gives me and I’ve come to understand that writers write to be read. While I may not be a writer per se, not yet anyway, I will admit that sharing my words is satisfying.

Writing is simply a medium of expression. Like an art, it’s best when shared. I harbor a dream of completing a novel that I’m writing. Well, of completing one of the projects I’ve started over the years. I kept journals for many years and thoroughly enjoy the art of letter writing. I save them and I send them. An actual letter through the post is a treasure. I have letters from my dad, my grandmas, old boyfriends and friends. I save the beautiful cards my husband gives me, and a small scrap of paper where he wrote a sweet nothing to me before I traveled when we were dating. I have a box somewhere with notes passed between girlfriends and I during class in middle and high schools. Words to paper make me swell with joy.

Since my early twenties, I’ve had countless false starts at writing my debut novel. For a short time I toyed with the idea of a collection of short stories. They’re a medium that I greatly admire. The art of the short story is far more of a challenge than a full blown novel because to create a magical short story, it has to unfold so much more quickly but still have the impact of completion. I’ve started all sorts of different chapters of different stories, never to finish any of them. It’s only recently that the idea struck for a book idea that I might actually finish. That accomplishment would feel amazing, even if nothing were to come of it. Just the idea of completing a book…it’s enough.

DON’T STAND SO CLOSE TO ME
January 13, 2015

Cole’s maturing in some ways and not so much in others. It’s a fascinating process to observe. He rails against our efforts to lead him forward but then has recently found preference in hanging out alone in his room, watching TV or listening to music for hours at a time. Up until this point, he’s never found comfort in himself so we’re thrilled by this typical teenage move. I feel great pride in his newly found step toward independence.

Also returning to school after the winter break has been surprisingly stress free. Prior to the break, the morning routine had been tough. For the first time, Cole was not enjoying school, which made morning prep difficult. He teetered between saying he was not feeling well, or was sad, or just angry. The past week and into the current week, he’s easy and happy about going to school. I’m not entirely sure what changed but he’s seemed to have found a way to look forward to school again. There was a change in staff, a new teacher who he has for both Social Studies and Language Arts, which may be part of the interest in school again. The former teacher never managed to understand the concepts of inclusive education so he had a lot of frustration of being overlooked in her classes. Whatever the incentive, it’s a relief to see that he’s found his way back to liking school and he came to it on his own.

When one is physically dependent upon others for nearly everything, developing self- confidence and having opportunities to find trust in one’s self is crucial to having good self-esteem. I see Cole starting to recognize that he needs time to himself and that he needs to have us (us as his parents, and us as all of his supports collectively) respect his choices and to provide as many opportunities for him to have more independence. For now, I’m proud to step back and support his efforts to stand away from me.