Tomorrow is my birthday (as I write this). I usually feel quite reflective on my birthday and this birthday is no different. I have also been a little low in spirits so the reflectiveness is tinged with bitter sweetness. What a couple of years it's been!
I've realized a lot of things about myself and others in the past 2 years. I've learned a lot. Some of my beliefs have changed. Some beliefs have been strengthened. I've lost friends and other relationships have withered. But I've made amazing new friends that feed my soul every day too.
I still look at the little book that my friend DeAnna gave me before she died. I don't look at it every day anymore, but I look at it a few times a month. I like to see what the "theme" is each month. June's theme is "Forgiveness." I am mostly thinking about forgiving myself. I forgive myself for not being able to forgive those who betrayed me... yet. I am moving in that direction and my heart is softening, but I am not there. And that is ok. I love the post by Jeff Foster which he called YOU DO NOT NEED TO FORGIVE. Thank you Jeff for that grace.
I also forgive my past self for being imperfect. My former friend said in her last email to me: "Your posts feel like proselytizing (I realize that is your right) and I believe what you are working to convince others of is dangerous." I had to look "proselytize" up back then. Even today, I looked it up again to make sure I understood. And I remembered another person saying something to me when we were moving to Florida - he said that it was different for me to share our reasons for moving (we could see the coercion and tyranny coming) than when I was trying to "convince" him a few months back.
And I've realized - I was trying to convince them. There is nothing "dirty" about the word "proselytize" although it felt a little bit like an insult at the time. I was trying to convince them that my family and I are human and worthy of being treated as such - even though we don't believe the same things and would make a different medical choice than they would. If that is proselytizing then call me a proselytizer! Yes, I am trying to recruit people to my cause - to support my human rights and also those that share beliefs and certain choices with me. As long as there are those who don't believe we have the right to exist and live as we choose, we will not be left alone in peace.
I've spoken before of putting science to the side and picking up the lens of philosophy. I think we also need to become knowledgeable of human psychology. When I was sharing in 2020-2021 I was feeling quite desperate. It's true. I think that air of desperation is partly why the word “proselytize” feels negative. But I could see what was happening in the world and I did want to persuade people, so things might be different. But the fact is: humans don't respond well to desperation. In fact, they are repelled by it. I forgive myself for my behavior and how I communicated, because I had little control over that feeling at that time in my life.
Before 2020 I believed in living by example and in alignment with my values. I figured that was the best way to bring people along the journey with me who were ready and willing. I was right. It is the best way. But desperate times bring out the desperate in us. So I've returned to a calmer state and sharing feels a lot better when I can remain here.
But I still miss some of those people and relationships. It's sad how many people have lost significant relationships these past 2+ years.
I've learned a lot. I still share to inform and inspire. And I still strive to remain curious, with an open mind and heart so I don't close myself off to people, information, ideas, and beliefs. Because we all have our blind spots.
And now on the eve of my 44th birthday I am ready to move on from this bittersweet reflection into pure sweetness. Tomorrow I will celebrate with the people who matter most and be filled with gratitude for this beautiful life. Because it’s really too short to do anything else.
We all know that social media is not an accurate representation of "reality." Specifically, most people post "highlights." But we often scroll through our favorite social media wall and begin to compare ourselves - no matter how much we know we shouldn't!
Maybe you're having a day where you feel like you "never" leave home. Or everyone is sick. Or you're exhausted from a poor night's sleep. The kids are out of sorts and you're SURE that you are the worst mom ever. Then pops up one of your best friend's from high school - they are on an amazing vacation, out in the "real" world, exploring and having a blast. Ugh. You're brain short-circuits what you know to be true about social media and how people share the best of the best, and you become convinced that you are failing at life.
Why do we do this to ourselves?? I'm not sure why we do it, but I do know that it is pretty darn universal.
So below I've supplied a slide show of the Highlights of our recent family get-away. But I am going to fill in the Highlight reel with a few bits of reality so you can be assured that the happy smiles in sunshine were not EVERYTHING that went on during this adventure.
Bits of Reality:
Despite all of the harder parts I am glad that we went and made some fun family memories. It was overall a wonderful week. I am learning to push my and Carter's comfort zones being away from home (and our family's in general!) There are always moments when you think - oh man, what did we do??! But I am almost always able to shift my perspective or mental outlook at embrace the moment. It's such a great practice - to do something different and spice Life up! And then it's always so great to be back home again to decompress and feel comfortable again.
Now - if we can all just remember that social media posts are almost always the "Highlight Reel" and don't represent all of what really goes on, that'd be great.
My dear friend Diana led an awesome discussion with me about unschooling, parenting, Life and autism. It was so much fun! You can listen here (and find all the different places Diana's amazing podcast is available).
I'd love to hear what you thought! Comment here or send me a message/email.
There is Black & White:
We are born.... and then one day, we die.
But in between, we are all Living in the Gray.
Living in the Gray means:
Grief and Gratitude will always coexist.
It means loving my son - as he is - with all my heart, feeling complete joy when he stares into my eyes laughing, feeling grateful for how his journey deepens mine... AND grieving an easier path for him, remembering his very "normal" baby years and accepting that something changed - something I was unable to stop.
It means freshly laundered sheets, dried in the sun, sweet smelling from the Spring Breeze... but sometimes a bird poops on them.
It means accepting human imperfection, letting go and forgiving... especially forgiving ourselves when we feel unable to let go and forgive.
It means knowing the most fulfilling way forward is through clear eyes and open hearts - hearts opened by breaking - AND also knowing that there are times when it is best to protect our hearts so they can remain soft.
It means knowing my way isn't everyone's way, and that is A-OK.
It means knowing when to STAND UP and knowing when the best thing I can do is stare at the leaves blowing in the breeze.
Living in the Gray feels like... a much lighter heart, a less cluttered mind, and fresh eyes that see the world's bright colors anew. And it also feels like a heavy heart, a tired mind and tear-filled, blurry eyes.
Living in the Gray is NOT wishy-washy, cowardly or a cop-out.
I am struggling. I find it difficult to forgive you. When the sky was falling and the world was falling apart...You abandoned me and my family. You told me to be quiet. You insisted that I was a danger to others because I had questions.
You thought our relationship was better off if we just ignored the issue.
Worse...you cut me off because it was too difficult for you to see me.
But you were wrong... our relationship isn't better and the questions didn't disappear because you banished me.
I'm not lonely. I've made amazing new friends...people who are my family and love me for who I am - questions and all. I feel more peaceful and connected than I ever have before.
But it still hurts. I miss you. Because no one else is You. And no one else shares the history that we did. It sucks.
I hope you are well. I wish health and happiness for you and yours. I'd reach out but... it feels you've set a boundary. The chasm seems too deep and wide to bridge right now.
And so I cry. And slowly I heal. This is my work.
I am wary of you. You showed me I could not trust you (at least "past you"...) Maybe someday we'll rebuild a shaky bridge together. And we'll place each plank...with intention, carefully hammering in new nails, slowly reaching out from our respective "sides" of the ravine...taking our time until we can meet in the middle.
I'm ready when you are. Life is too short and Love is the only way.
As gas prices skyrocket, I am thinking of all the families that are being impacted. It's no small thing when such an essential part of our life changes so quickly and drastically. We have homeschool friends who drive over an hour to hang out with us - will we be able to continue our regular meetups?
Another friend posted how her business is impacted because she drives to all of her clients.
I feel the tension of all of these things as I continue to grow my own baby business. I am hyper-aware of how incredibly fortunate my family is (husband working from home, kids that have always been homeschooled, a roof over our head and plenty of money to meet our needs and then some). I also know through first hand experience that everything can change overnight - we've been through unemployment before and came close to facing it again this past fall.
Many of you are friends that I know in real life. But I consider all of you friends. I am incredibly grateful for each of your support and engagement as you help fuel my personal and business growth. I want to make a few things clear both as your friend and as a business owner who believes in what I am offering to you.
I purposely made "Uncertainty" the biggest Elephant in the image above. Uncertainty makes us humans feel insecure and scared about the future. We tend to contract in fear and pull things tighter when we feel this way - it's natural. But I truly believe that the changes that will help us best navigate Uncertain times come by us loosening our grip and tuning into our intuition. That's what I've been doing for about a year and a half now.
For example - the decision to move in Fall of 2020? I stopped reading and listening and obsessing, and started spending long hours lying on the trampoline with Carter staring at the sky. Over time I got very calm and knew in my gut what our family's next step was. This is just one example of many.
Thank you for being here and sharing your journey with me, wherever you are. I truly appreciate you and hope you are finding joy, peace and connection every day, even when the future seems so unpredictable.
Remember: Be Bold, Be Brave, Be You!
Because who else is there to be?
The last time I wrote about "Balance" I was not very kind to her. In fact I titled the post "F*ck Balance". Eek.
Here are a few bits from that post:
"Balance... I'm done with you. I'm done obsessing with you, striving for you, feeling like I'm no good when I can't achieve you. Maybe some people can seek you and feel good about it, but for me (a recovering perfectionist) it just feels like I never can get you right."
And now as a mother I find my world always just a bit askew. My kids are a teensy bit older now so things are way better (and by better I mean easier) than they were four years ago or even two. Now I have time to write, I go on walks alone (every once in a while anyway), I regularly teach Hypnobabies, and I actually COOK meals (sometimes) And yet... I still find myself trying to catch even a glimpse of you in my days. But you remain ever elusive. My plan changes daily. I will get up early and walk. No, I will get up early and do yoga. No, I'll stay up late and write. Every day the book I'm (not) writing is in the back of my mind. Every day I think, I need to exercise more! Every day I feel like I need to give more to my kids only to realize I'm wanting to give more to myself.
I think that there are a lot of really worthwhile thoughts and feelings in that post. But maybe it wasn't "Balance" that was at fault. Perhaps it was my idea of what balance is and conflating balance with some kind of perfect destination. Yes, I was definitely conflating "balance" with "perfection." But recently watching my daughter compete on the balance beam gave me a fresh outlook on this word I felt so strongly about 8+ years ago.
The balance beam is an event that always has us on pins and needles. Will the athlete fall? We cheer for them when they fight to stay on the beam, feel intense, vicarious disappointment when they do fall and awe when they nail a routine that 99.9% of us can't even imagine doing on the ground.
Watching my daughter do all of these things made me realize - balance isn't a destination, it is a constant practice. Good yoga instructors tell us the same thing - when we practice yoga our balance varies day to day - some days we are like statues and others we can't stay upright on one leg for the life of us! And think about elite gymnasts who train as a full time job - even they fall off the beam. No one is immune to losing their balance.
The reason I was so angry at the idea of Balance was because there are modern world challenges - especially for moms of young children - that make it very difficult to feel like you are ever close to a healthy balance. But that doesn't mean we should stop trying to find creative solutions to fill our cups while also taking care of our babies and loved ones at the same time.
If you lose your balance give yourself grace. Then pick yourself up, climb back up on that beam and try again. We're all cheering you on!
This week I have Perspective on my mind. My thoughts are a little bit rambly as usual, but I think that maintaining a healthy Perspective on Life is an important skill and habit to cultivate, so I'm going to attempt to break it down a bit. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment and let me know what resonated with you or how your experience has differed! I want to hear it all.
We all know that "losing Perspective" isn't a good thing. But what does that mean? And what is a "healthy Perspective"? And who gets to decide?
For me, having a healthy Perspective on life means that I am able to see the big picture, prioritize appropriately within the *actual* circumstances of *my* life and put things into place - within my mind and heart and more practically within my schedule - How do I spend my time? Where do I put my attention?
One thing that embracing an Unschooling philosophy has really helped me understand is our individuality - how we each learn and process the world is very unique. So there isn't one "right" way to find a "healthy Perspective". So what is True for me, may not be for you.
But I also know that for most people BIG life events often "give them perspective" - things like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, losing your job or home, a difficult break up etc. A loved one recently said to me that they didn't like thinking about people dying. The first thing that popped into my head was, well maybe that is something you need to dig into then! I know that over the years facing death as a general concept and also as a very real experience in my personal life has led to great expansion of my Perspective on Life.
Another example in my family's life was when my husband lost his job. Much of the world was focused on Politics and who had just been elected to President of the United States of America. At that point in my life I just didn't have the time, energy or desire to focus much on those topics. I was intensely focused on the problem my family faced immediately. Survival does that. It changes your Perspective.
Last point - this is not about "Finding" Perspective and then being done with it. Perspective is dynamic. As the circumstances of our personal lives and the world change (as they constantly do) we need to adjust what is most important in our lives. This is a journey and a process. Evaluating how you are prioritizing your time and attention is a healthy habit to get into so you can continually adjust as Life flows. Those big "Perspective Giving" events are helpful, but most of our life is spent in between those moments. So we have to actively and consistently choose what matters most to us and then actually apply those values to our lives.
This is getting long so I'm going to wrap this up! This is a conversation that I'd love to continue with you. Leave a comment now and let me know what are the most important factors influencing your Perspective on Life right now.
Are you happy with these factors playing such a big part in your Life? Or are you desiring a change... a shift in Perspective?
I recently wrote about being Carter’s mom and how that has made me trust more. My exact words were: “He teaches me to Trust with a capital T”.
A friend asked me the following: “I wonder if you could offer more thoughts about how he (or being his mom) taught you to trust more.”
First, let’s define Trust:
I began the post about Carter by saying this: “Parenting a child with special needs doesn’t require a different philosophy. Sometimes we may *think* it is different or we are learning different lessons…or ways of being/doing…. But really, parenting Carter just magnifies what I already know to be true and brings my life philosophy more sharply into focus.”
Let me explain further. The truth is we don’t know the future for ANY of our children. We don’t know how long they will live, what jobs they will have, what successes they will achieve or challenges they will face. We don’t know any of it. But most of us have an internal program that ASSUMES the best. If we didn’t, we probably would do our best to avoid being parents!
But when you have a child who does not speak or use the toilet at 5 years old – well let’s just say Doubt, Uncertainty and Fear are very easy friends to allow into your Life. The Truth (with a capital T) is that I have absolutely no idea what Carter’s future will be, AND that is actually not very different from my other children. Allowing fear into my mind, heart, body… soul – does no one any good. It doesn’t help me, Carter or anyone else in his life. So I have to actively CHOOSE Trust (with a capital T). I have to have a firm belief in his abilities and MINE to navigate this journey together. I have to have CONFIDENCE. I have to believe in the possibilities for the future – aka I need to have HOPE.
Is it easy to choose this state of being? Sometimes, yes. Oftentimes… no. But there is plenty of evidence for why it is the right and best thing to do, whenever possible. First of all – I have lots of evidence that me, Carter, his dad and everyone that loves him CAN and DO navigate this Life pretty well together. The first (almost!) 6 years of his life have been pretty darn good. We have chosen Trust as much we possibly could and the results have been a happy, healthy, connected Life. So that is a pretty great foundation!
This past year I learned about Spell To Communicate (S2C). This has made me Trust that we will figure things out even more. Reading JB and Jamie Handley’s book, “Underestimated: An Autism Miracle” was just what I needed. We now have evidence that what we thought to be True… IS. Carter understands us. He knows what we are saying to him. He is a smart cookie. Carter’s developmental challenges are not a matter of intelligence or receptive language – they are a matter of motor control from his brain to his body. Not only that, there is a pathway for us to help him learn to communicate with us. And that is like a existential sigh of relief to a mama’s soul.
I am beyond-the-power-of-words-to-express grateful for the fact that we learned about this when Carter is so young. There are an uncountable numbers of individuals that have been trapped in their bodies, minds intact and unable to let others know. That is heartbreaking. But the hope and Trust that our family has found is foundational to us moving forward. It gives me resolve to push Carter more than I would have a year ago. I know he can do this.
It doesn’t change my Philosophical core though. It just reinforces it: Love over Fear. When we are unsure about our children’s future, Fear does us no service. Fear causes us to freeze or be frantic. It spreads to those around us. The more we can choose to Trust the more we will be anchored in Love. Will we make mistakes? Of course. We are human. But to choose our relationship with our children - every time - over voices of fear that come from society, conditioning or our past…. That is the way forward my friends. Choose Trust. Choose Love. It won't steer your wrong.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.