Archives for posts with tag: special needs parenting

joyJoy a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

What brought you joy before having your child? Several parents I work with have difficulty with this question. “It’s hard to remember,” and “sleeping,” were the most popular answers. I see parents being run down, overwhelmed and turning to outside pleasers to feel good. Food, shopping and having a glass of wine. While I know these activities are socially acceptable ways of relaxing and having fun… they do not feed the soul, which means they are short  lived joy.

Waiting behind two Moms in a discount store.  It was close to the time to go pick up their children from school.  It was a medium sized line, and they were “high” on the bargains they had found. As the line got closer to their turn, they began taking turns to go get one more thing, run away and come back with a new score. Along with the time crunch of paying and having enough time to get their kids.  I felt the energy rising. At one point, the woman who was on the line, began grabbing things nearby looking at them, tossing them in her wagon, then taking them out, leaving some… Then she grabbed some chocolate covered almonds and went at it. The friend came back and they both began eating their eatable find until it was their turn. WHEW!

I knew these feelings, I know these feelings, and I am aware of the compulsive shopping and food challenges. There are many false feelings of fulfillment, joy, excitement, deserving,

“Outer joy is more like excitement, involving a quick flash of pleasure. It stems from either thrill or some animated feeling.” –WWW.PRAJNAYOGA.NET  This is an exact description of the ladies in from of me. The truth is, I can see this outter joy, because I spend many years only knowing of this joy.

Inner joy suggests contentment, contentment that is more refined than the quick pulse of pleasure.

What are the benefits of this inner joy?  Pshhht! Many! Here are a few:

  • Improving heart health, less risk of heart disease
  • Better overall health, (both in individuals and communities, to include families)
  • Positive thoughts flow
  • Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness,

Are any of these a priority for you?   There is no Dr., no shooting, no amazing bottle of wine that will help you attain this inner joy. Here are a couple of practical and easy ways, to insert joy into your day. Tricking the body into joy is REAL, and it has actual impact on the brain.

  • Start laughing, even if it feels weird
  • Look in the mirror and smile
  • Look in the mirror and make absolutely wacky faces (your kids or anyones kids will love it.)

Laura Kubzansky  “State of mind = State of body”

What awareness does this blog bring you? Do you resonate with it? Have you witnessed it? Are you that shopper?  Know this. You are not alone! I think we all have felt these shopping highs, purchasing impulsively or compulsively. We do live in an age where you can text someone hello, just as easy as you can buy airline tickets on our smartphones.. I hope your biggest take-away is awareness. Nothing has to change, nothing has to be done different, just an awareness of the activities we engage in. Your state of you mind correlates to the state of your body. 

Respectfully,

Shane

 

Thirteen years ago, my mother-hero’s journey began. My almost-three-year old’s teacher stopped me at the classroom door. “We’d like to have someone from special ed come in and observe Ellana. She’s not like the other children.” My heart raced. My world whirled. Hours passed and I began to extract meaning from the teacher’s words, concluding that she thought something was wrong with Ellana. I wept. I raged. I decided that Mrs. Francis was wrong. I refused the Call to Adventure. I rejected the labels the teacher and observer wanted to associate with my beautiful, brilliant daughter.

Twelve years ago, I acknowledged that my child was very different from the other preschoolers and accepted the challenge to be the kind of parent (I thought) she needed. I decided to overcome the autism spectrumy thing. I donned my battle gear. I read, researched, and planned. I drove my daughter to therapy appointments and sampled treatments of many flavors. I had a goal: I would help Ellana to modulate odd behaviors and acclimate to the ordinary world. I would fix the glitches in her system. I would make my child normal.

Eleven years ago, when my second child was two, he was evaluated and given an autism diagnosis. While Ellana’s way of being defied labeling, Daniel had never spoken a word. He pressed the buttons on his toys repeatedly. He gleefully stemmed, flicking his hands in front of his face. He was happy, affectionate, intelligent, and obviously autistic.

Nine years ago, my first grader was in her fifth school in five years, when we were asked to withdraw midyear. I plunged into the abyss. Amidst deep, dark despair, I experienced a moment of insight: I would teach my daughter at home.

After five years of homeschooling, after much yelling, crying, and foot stomping from mother and child, revelation dawned: I did not need to fix my daughter or her brothers. They were not, and never had been, broken. None of them resembled the children I had envisioned, but they were perfectly themselves, and I loved them, no changing required.

Four years ago, my three children went to school. For the first time in eleven years, I was home alone during the day, so I decided to write a book. I interviewed mothers of autistic children and wrote about the transformative power of our parenting journeys. I was healed and enlightened. I recognized my children’s inherent awesomeness. Life was easy and good. And we lived happily ever after.

~ The End ~

Image

Cue the laugh track. While the above is an accurate, though drastically abbreviated, telling of my parenting experience (the whole is told in Swan Mothers: Discovering Our True Selves by Parenting Uniquely Children), and though I did feel as if my mother-hero’s journey had come to a natural conclusion, I relaxed on my (virtual) lounge chair on the beach, margarita in hand, rather briefly. The end was not The End, but a curve in the spiral of life, circling into another loop of The Journey. I had arrived . . . somewhere, yet felt more unmoored than ever.

Mother,
      a small BIG word, 
       gave my life purpose and meaning.

It was I,
         who knew what my children required.
It was I,
         who fed and healed.
It was I,
         who soothed and strengthened.

I was
     needed,
     heeded,
     indispensable.

Until I was not,
             not needed to fix, for they were not broken,
             not heeded, for they invoked their own wisdom,
             not indispensable, for they were competent and complete.

Mother,
      a BIG small role,
      forged the woman I am today.

It is I,
       who practice non-interference.
It is I,
       who aim to advise less and listen more.
It is I,
       who teach and support.

I was
     heated,
      hammered,
        beaten into shape.

Until I became,
               cool and unrestricted, flowing like water,
               expansive and pliable, open to constant change,
               sovereign and free.

Image

Since I first heard the word autism, 13 years ago, my Awareness has expanded exponentially. My worldview widened, and continues to grow. I evolved, and continue to evolve. Before autism (and my children) expanded my Awareness, I was very certain of what I should do, how people should act, and how the world should be. Because my children didn’t match my image of how children were supposed to be, because I loved them, and because I wanted to be the mother they needed, I softened. I realized the value of being like bamboo, flexible and bending with changing conditions. I recognized the importance of acknowledging when I was wrong. I learned to be different from the mother I’d been expecting to be. Without the gift of autism, I would be shallower, more narrow-minded, and more rigid.

Thirteen years into the journey, I am trying to not try to figure out a new purpose for being, striving to adjust to the flow of life’s currents, and learning to thrive in this uncertain space. I do not remember what I know every day. I relearn lessons I previously mastered. I slip, stumble, and fall. I notice twists, hills, and valleys on own journey honor the journeys of those around me.

The spectrum of people on the planet today is an invitation to see the essence of one another. It is an invitation to look with new eyes and listen with new ears, and to perceive with our hearts or our senses. It is an invitation to expand our perceptions and evolve. It is an opportunity to embrace uniqueness and individuality while recognizing our oneness.

Natalia Erehnah lived her first 29 years in beautiful and secure ordinariness, enjoying a pleasant childhood, school and job success, easy friendships, and a happy marriage. Motherhood landed her in a new land, for each of her children arrived with a clear mission and unique way of being. One was diagnosed with autism. None developed in accordance with timelines or charts. Life as she knew and envisioned it, was over, and the journey of a lifetime had begun. Natalia loves connecting with mothers on-line. 

www.swanmothers.com
Twitter @SwanMothers
Facebook: Request to join the Swan Mothers group
G+ Natalia Erehnah

I have been writing a book for a couple of months now.  I have never called myself a writer, although I’ve also been writing this blog for some years now, and have published a couple of articles.  Why do some people comfortably state, “I am a writer?”  Is it because they majored in it in college?

Did someone in school tell you, “you can’t write?” or “you have difficulties writing?”  Where are those people now? How important are they now?

I value the use of  THE JOURNAL, I’ve even been called a “born again journaler.”   Journaling was introduced to me when I was young, my Aunt Myriam gave me a journal to write in when I was mad or angry. I used it alot. I stopped, only to really come to love it in the last couple of years.  When I began to write I realized how judgmental of myself I was.  It made me realize how much self-depricating I did.  I saw I “felt stupid” and judged my writing and thoughts so harshly, and this was never going to be shared with anyone, just myself.

Children have been using journals for quite some time in school now. It’s a place they keep their work, but are they given a chance to write their feelings? Ever?

ImageUsing a journal as a parent is powerful. I recently heard that if you are a parent, your heart is always some where outside your body.  WOW. I heard this while I was traveling in California and practicing being present.

Is it ever possible to be present as a parent when you always have your child’s well being and health on your mind?

After the big tragedies with shootings, and the “small” ones locally happening every day. How is a parent ever to feel fully present, unless their child is attached to them physically?

I have friends with teenagers, they often talk about how they are always worrying about what their children are doing until they are home safe in bed. Yikes. I would be endlessly journaling if I had teenage children.

If your choice is a journal, a blog/vlog or actually talking to yourself;) Its’ great!  It’s healthy and very insightful.

If you are a beginner, you could start your writing   “I love and accept you exactly as you are.”  Louise Hay suggests writing it 25 times! I follow her suggestion when I need to and it works! So start!, write your:

  • stories
  • your feelings
  • your imagination
  • the truth
  • your wishes
  • poetry & songs

I find it a great healing tool, clearing space in your head for more ideas, and to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression…

Happy writing! And I thank you with all my heart for reading,

Shane

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