Moving Through Molasses

(**REPOSTED from AUG 20,2010**)

I don’t know why there are some things that prove to be so difficult when others just fly on past, but moving through molasses is what seems to be the case when it comes to such things as getting a scheduling mistake worked out for my son at school. Or finding him a mentoring program. Or asking for help in any way with his social understanding deficit.Slogging through. An uphill battle. Exhausting.

The schools do a good job with his academics. Don’t get me wrong.  They make small adjustments in the classroom to increase his chances of success – sitting closer to the teacher, allowing him to type any handwritten work, sending a copy of assignments via email.  Little things that add up to honor roll and advanced placement class success. And we really do appreciate it!

But academia was never really his main problem.

It is staying engaged in his day. It’s knowing how to ask for assistance in class. Its about not understanding subjective thoughts that are grey instead of black and white. Its not being able to empathize.

Its about not having anyone to sit with at lunch. Or to talk to in between classes. Or having a clue as to how to carry on conversations.Its about not understanding innuendo. Or not recognizing sarcasm. Or not knowing when the laughter is at his expense, but feeling the burn of ridicule. Its not being able to read facial expressions or body language or voice inflection as part of communication. Its recognizing not being a “part of” and feeling “apart from”, but not knowing how to make it different and being utterly frustrated and defeated by it.

Its about believing other kids when they tell him they’re his friend and doing what they tell him to, without understanding its not a good thing to do – until it hurts him. Its about bullying. Its about how to act in social situations – like football games and pep rallys and concerts – how to act like all these other kids his age who must have been given the instruction manual, because they all seem to know how to act.

That’s a pretty significant gap that I, as a parent, can only do so much about. I can’t go with him throughout his day. And realistically the best time to work on these things is now, while he’s still in school. Because once he leaves high school in another 2 years, the opportunities for social development drop off alarmingly. College is much less structured, relying instead on the kid to initiate social interactions. But what if he doesn’t really KNOW how to initiate? What happens to him then?

So I’ve been searching for some sort of program – one that can pair him up with a mentor or peer buddy. To help him navigate some of these unfamiliar places while he still has an entire population of kids who have structured activities to attend and socialize in. This article echos much of what I’ve been looking at and trying to find a solution for.

And it makes me wonder.

We live in an area lovingly dubbed “Dilbertville” for all of the engineer, rocket scientists, physicists, and other geeky types of that ilk who are concentrated here. And many of them have children who fall in the high functioning autistic/Asperger’s Disorder spectrum. The schools are inundated with a variety of these kids, but the one common thread among them is lack of social skills. So wouldn’t it make sense for the area schools to recognize that to fully educate these kids, the social aspect of their lives needs to addressed? Particularly in the school setting, where so much of their waking hours are spent? Imagine if, in all those situations there was a kid with him who could suggest what to say, how to approach a group, what not to do and how not to act…one to sit with him at lunch and go to the fall football games and winter basketball games… to hang out with him after school and include him in the activities that kids their age do on weekends. Probably a pipe-dream, but it happens in other cities and other schools all the time. Why not here?

I’m just saying.

Namaste,

~me

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Autism Awareness Month

Welcome to Autism Awareness Month!!

If you are unaware of autism…well… you have to have been living under a rock! What was once an unusual, unheard of diagnosis is now affecting one in every 110 babies, out numbering all childhood cancers and diabetes combined.

 

 

Today was the Autism Society’s Walk for Autism. It was the PERFECT weather day and there was a tremendous turnout! Its a great way to start the month and we found resources in our area we didn’t know about before today. That and we got some exercise and sun and fresh air! 😉

Happy Autism Awareness Month, ya’ll!

Namaste,

~me

 

In the Silence

In response to the questions asking about my long absence and am I still here, the answer is an unequivocal YES!

A little over six months ago I was devastated by the sudden and unexpected death of my dad. (“Father” seems too formal, “Daddy” a tad too intimate, though that’s who he’ll always be to me.) While I’m no stranger to the various faces of grief, grief of this magnitude is beyond the scope of my experience. And while I’ve often thought that I’d like to try and somehow convey the road I’m traveling, my companions Motivation and Desire have been conspicuously absent, as well as Inspiration.

The noise of life seems almost unbearable, in stark contrast to the silence of death.  Rationality can’t get an inroad into my heart’s grief – the reality and finality make it untenable.

Its a strange thing for somebody who loves to communicate to suddenly be thrust into a silence. Grief is like that. Silent and colorless. Foreign.

It rose with me in the morning, robbing the morning’s sunrise of color.

It moved through the day with me, weighing me down like a wet towel in the cool of a summer’s evening, making every thought and movement cumbersome.

The pieces of my heart’s breaking sink like stone in my belly, burying my appetite for life and sustenance somewhere deeply beneath it.

The sheer effort of trying to be a part of a life – a life that now has an enormous chasm in it – pushes out all but the most basic instinctual habits. Priorities get shifted so that whatever energy is mustered during the day goes to the responsibilities of family and engaging in the immediate lives around me. In the sum of it all, finding the “oomph” for re-engaging in a wider circle of life falls by the wayside.

Friends and family alike ask, “have you been writing? Taking pictures? Reading?” In other words,  basically anything that I’ve been passionate about since… forever. Nope. Haven’t been able to. ← (“Able” is the operative word.)

But time passes and it does get easier. That dense fog I seem to be moving though continues to dissipate a little each day.  I only get blindsided by the reality that he is no longer in this world (how can he not BE anymore?!) every other day – instead of every hour on the hour.

Its in the moments between being brought to my knees that I remember. I remember that words move me, buoy me, ignite me; that photographs draw me into the emotions evoked and suspended on the screen or in print; that stories carry me into a different reality for a space in time; that music takes me back into the soundtrack and rhythm of life.

Its a gradual re-awakening of the parts of me that grief dimmed. I realize its a process that has to be gotten through if I want to be able to continue truly LIVING my life. And I so do! So I’m getting back to good.

And I realize just how amazingly I’ve been blessed that I got to have such a rich and full life with him in it. I’d like to write and tell you all about him, but I’m not there yet. Baby steps.

Today is the beginning of the Lenten season. Contrition for faults and character defects that directly affect my usefulness in this world.

I attended an Ash Wednesday service this morning, its name taken from ashes daubed on my forehead as a sign of penitence. As the priest anointed me, he reminded me, “Remember you are dust and will return to dust.” Dad’s funeral flashed through my mind, an echo of those words resounding in my memory. I know not the time, nor the hour that these words will be uttered to those who will stand in the silence that I will leave behind. I felt a quickening inside, telling me to move along the shores of life and jump in – make a splash! – live out loud in the time I’m given.

Lent is an opportunity to do some spiritual housecleaning and pare it down to what really matters the most in this soul’s life.

  • It is a time in prayer with my Creator. Listening in meditation, as well as petitioning in prayer.
  • Giving alms in charity, love, and kindnesses given in service to others.
  • Fasting by setting aside my physical self and focusing on the spiritual. I deny my fallible humanness and fasting heightens my awareness. During the spiritual housecleaning I’m much better able to sort out the things that are cluttering up my life so that I can honor and rejoice in the important things and people in my life. Rejecting what no longer serves me well in preparation for an Easter renewal.

I’m settling into the silence of this Lent with a heart that still feels shattered. My fingers still drag over the keys with intention and effort. But just as I believe that the better part of my Daddy is ingrained inside of me, I know that this Lent holds a special purpose in the promise of the joy of Easter.

Namaste,

~me

YOU

I’m leaving you with this:

Can’t remember EXACTLY when I wrote it (definitely in the last couple of years)

…but I loved it then as I do now!

webflower.jpg

You are the memory that smiles through my yesterday,

the thread holding together my today,

and the promise of my tomorrow’s assurance of a sunrise…
Namaste,
~me

 

Attention is Seeing

Photo by L2B Photography ~ © 2010

“The clouds began to gather in the morning, light, fleecy ones;

they were gathering from different directions, mostly from south-west;

the sun raced between them and shadows covered the land.


“Towards the evening, the sky was dark and rain was in the air . . .

it began to drizzle; it laid the all-prevading dust, washed the leaves clean and it brought that fragrance of rain on dry earth.

It was a pleasant smell and the birds had taken shelter for the night . . .

Attention is seeing. Seeing is an art as listening.

But one hardly ever listens or sees; everyone is so occupied, so busy with the things that have to be done, with one’s joys, problems and tears.

One has no time to see.

But time does not give you sight; time hinders seeing, listening. Time is the space for experiencing and experience only dulls the mind and heart. The mind is filled and the heart has turned away and so there is no seeing.

To see knowledge must be kept in the books and not in the mind; knowledge interprets, chooses, giving colour, opinion, weighing, criticising, choosing and then there is no seeing. When the mind is so crowded and the heart dull with sorrow, how can there be seeing? What you see is your own projections, your own desires, your own fears but you don’t see what is. It goes by and you are lost with your own toys.

But when you do see, do listen, then that act is the miracle that transforms, that has emptied the mind and the heart of the past. You don’t have to do anything, thought is incapable of this miracle; then that seeing is love, as listening is. You cannot come by these through exertion, through the dullness of discipline, through any bargaining nor through the shock of unanswerable questions. There must be emptiness to see, to listen there must be a quietness.

It was rather late in the night; lightning and rain were making great noise. Again, the brain was aware of the lightning, and the rain on the window, but it was motionless, astonishingly still, for that immensity was there with clarity and unapproachable strength.

— J. Krishnamurti, Krishnamurti’s Notebook

An Instrument of Peace

Worth a repost, the following post came into my reader. Having to do with St. Francis’ prayer, it arrived at the perfect moment for me. =) Enjoy!

Namaste,

~me

(From Wayne Dyer’s website)

Being Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
The Prayer of St. Francis

You can become an instrument of peace in any given moment of your life by deciding that you are not going to use your mind for anything other than peaceful thoughts. This may sound extreme to you when you take into consideration all the difficult people you have to deal with, your financial picture, the illness of a close relative, the inconsiderate boss you must face, the taxes you owe, as well as outrageous traffic delays, and on and on. Try taking a breather from your habit of continuously looking for occasions to be non-peaceful. Go to that quiet, serene peaceful place within you that is covered by the outer layers of your material life. It is here that you know what being an instrument of peace means. Here, your emphasis is on giving, rather than receiving, peace.

When you are an instrument of peace, you are not seeking anything, you are a peace provider. You do not seek peace by looking into the lives of others and wishing that they would change so that you could become more peaceful. Rather, you bring your own sense of calm to everyone you encounter. You do not go about viewing every circumstance of your life in terms of whether it meets with your standard of peace. Rather, you bring your peaceful countenance to the chaos you encounter and your presence soothes the outer turmoil. Even if the turmoil continues, you have the freedom to choose a peaceful thought, or to quietly remove yourself from the immediate scene. How do you do this? Repeat the words of St. Francis that appear above. Chaotic moments are times to remember that you will not gain your peace from anyone else and that you choose to bring peace to every life situation you encounter.

The most important moments for cultivating this awareness are when you find yourself right smack in the middle of a tumultuous exchange, when someone is argumentative, surly, or irrational and you sense yourself falling into the pandemonium. Usually, in such moments your inclination is to blame all of the external forces for your absence of peace. Begin to look at these situations in a totally new way, one that will help you not only become a delivery person of calmness, but will make you a more reliable and steadfast instrument of peace.

Every Day Another Opportunity

What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.

Pericles (via Angie at Pick My Brains Art)

Wandering through my inbox, I found this quote from my good friend Angie. It was followed by a Google Reader feed that also addressed the question of what our purpose is here.  Things that keep popping up in my days I call my “theme” of the week/month/year. So my theme, it would seem, is what I’ve come to believe is what’s important to me and how I honor that principle.

Every moment in my day is an opportunity to try a different way of thinking. To truly SEE with the eyes of gratitude. Each moment offers me a choice – in how I  respond and act, words I choose, etc.  But also and just as important to this soul is choosing the myriad of little, seemingly trivial choices: which thoughts to listen to, choosing to make eye contact with a stranger and smile, choosing what’s more important in a situation, or choosing my motives.

Consciousness is a requirement. I find that when I’m not practicing gratitude, my actions all become rote. I sleepwalk through so many things, so many opportunities that would be lost without making a decision to pay attention to each of the individual moments I’m given.  And at the end of the day I take stock of what would be left behind in that day, should it have been my last.

  • Where was I Love?
  • When did I choose forgiveness?
  • When did I offer charity, even if I wasn’t really feeling like it?
  • Did I offer hope?
  • Did I uplift people in my world that day?

“Everybody knows they’re going to die, but nobody believes it. If we did, we would do things differently…

‘So we kid ourselves about death’

‘Yes, but there’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die and be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can be actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.

Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?‘ … The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live…

Most of us walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully because we’re half asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do…

Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.'” – Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom

If we really had that little bird on our shoulder asking us throughout our day if we are ready to die today, we would find gratitude and so much opportunity in every moment. We would appreciate every sunset, every drive or walk,  every phone call from our parents or siblings, every chat with our friends, every taste we experienced through all of our senses, and so on. Urgency, significance, and passion would electrify every moment.

We would remember how significant each human experience is and pinch ourselves regularly as a reminder to appreciate these moments. Every day and every situation and every event would be meaningful and memorable down to the most routine of things.

I choose to imagine that little bird on my shoulder, though some days I’d just as soon he fly away and find some other shoulder to perch upon! But when I’m honest with myself, in my heart of hearts, I like to keep it there as a reminder to stay conscious and present. For its in learning how to die, that I learn how to live.

Namaste,
~me