I have negotiated a peace agreement with Mr. Super Fluffles and part of the terms require he get his own category on the blog. He’s also agreed to do one photo shoot a month and have final say on what I write about him. Diva!
I made a few promises to myself about what my blog would and wouldn’t be. One of the first rules was that I was never going to blog or post pictures of cats. They are fine animals— I hear some are even good pets. I have Mr. Fluffles. Enough said.
How can I keep my promise with pictures like this? I’m done.
We recently celebrated Gustavo’s 16th birthday. He’s more than just a little taller than me— it still seems impossible but you can’t deny the pictures.
When I first found out Gustavo had autism I was given the phone number to a program called Parent to Parent. I never called. Thankfully they were persistent and knew something I did not. I needed to talk. I had questions that the doctor could not answer. Some questions no one could answer. I wondered if I had done something wrong while pregnant. I spent hours thinking about what I might have eaten or drank that could have caused autism. There is a story on this blog that tells more about those early days– Autism Tales: He Gets It From Me.
Parent to Parent is a program that connects parents of children with special needs with parents of newly diagnosed children with special needs. In the reading material Jennifer, my helping parent had left me I found this story on brightly colored paper. I keep a copy folded in my wallet.
Here is what Emily Kingsley and Jennifer gave to me.
Welcome to Holland: I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
“Things are too good. It scares me.” How could I be worried about something like things running too smoothly? I had a vision in my head of what a good life would look like and now that it appeared I was in the thick of something good, I couldn’t stop worrying. Why?
Unfrenemy yourself if it comes to it. It’s a real word now and certainly a real thing. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Procrastination, letting others put you down or being overly hard on yourself are some of the sneaky and mean things we do to ourselves. Here’s a quick self test– how do you respond when someone compliments you? If someone says, “Hey, I like your shirt! You always look like you just stepped out of a fashion magazine” do you quickly tell them it’s your sister’s outfit and if they saw what your real style was like they would have to call the fashion police? There is a difference between arrogance and being able to accept and acknowledge that someone wants to call out your awesomeness. Whether it’s fashion or a job well done at work, how about responding with a thank you and throw that negative self talk out the window. It can be uncomfortable at first. Here’s my advice– practice. I’m pretty sure you deserve it!
After you’ve mastered the thank you, it’s time to start working on that list of things you started but always push off until later. If something is really out of reach and the only option is to wait on it– wait. If you find that you have an excuse for every thing on your list, what’s really stopping you? For a while, fear stopped me dead in my tracks. Sure, I was afraid of failing and what people would say or think– for a while. If I was able to move past that, sometimes the fear of succeeding at something would send a thunderbolt of fear back at me. I know it sounds crazy but I convinced myself that the familiar was just fine, even if I knew there was something more. I once talked myself out of even applying for a job I knew I was qualified for. By the end of the talk with myself I was convinced I was nuts for even thinking about applying. For three years, I put off taking an exam for a professional certification that could open up so many doors. I had taken practice exams, studied and paid a non refundable deposit each year only to cancel at the last minute. I took back my future from fear and then took the test. I walked out of that building with my unofficial score– I passed the test. Self-sabotage is an ugly cycle but the good news is that it starts and ends with you. You have a choice. It’s your life. Drive!
I was a young– way too young mother but I never really dropped out for long. I quickly passed small milestones like getting my GED and enrolling in courses at a community college. My transcripts could be the soundtrack to my life with their rise and fall— sweeping silences for many quarters. When I stopped going to school in 10th grade I received a letter from the principal. I am surprised I opened it. It was a letter that cemented my frenemy for many years. The letter said that if I was unable to complete high school, what hopes did I have of ever finishing anything. It went on and on and perhaps if the tone had been that of “How can I help you?” and less mightier than thou I would have called and asked how I could finish high school– I did just need a little help. I was 16 and had a child. He was the principal and surely had heard of the pregnant 9th grader. Now before you go to far down the path of “Where were her parents?” and that this story is what’s wrong with society, take a step back. That’s a graduation picture down there. I pay taxes and have a great job as an HR Manager. I unfrenemied myself but I needed some help. I share this to you potential letter writers, like my old principal– the pen is mightier than the sword. Use it wisely.
Thank you to C.E. Robinson of Before Sundown for nominating my blog for the Liebster Award. Check out her super awesome blog at http://cerobinsonauthor.com/
Well C.E., you wanted to know more about me, here goes– my answer to your questions…..
Where do you live? Why do you live there? I live in Oregon state. I was born in central California and lived there until I was 4 years old. My parents worked in the orange and lemon orchards and packing sheds. We started coming to Washington state and ended up staying because there was work year round. I am an HR Manager for a large potato and tortilla chip maker and accepted a job that required relocation so that’s how I made it to the Oregon Trail.
What is your favorite season of the year? I used to love summers. Something about it being bright when you wake up and then staying outside until 9 pm because it’s still not too dark is magical. When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune system disease called systemic lupus, I found out that sunlight and even florescent lights can trigger a lupus flare up. It changed my life in so many ways but one of the nice things I discovered is that it’s an adventure to garden in the early morning hours before the sun really comes up or even in the evening. I’ve always been a little different. This just gave me a reason people could understand.
What have you learned about yourself recently? I learned that I am an introvert. I had heard the word before but it didn’t seem to fit who I was. Most people I know would call me an extrovert—the life of a party or someone who always gets a conversation going, even if the group involved are strangers. I can do that and on the outside appear to be an extrovert but the truth is that it takes a lot out of me and I need quiet time to think and relax.
Describe a happy memory from your childhood. We lived about an hour away from Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. My father and mother took us to see a laser show that was played against the dam’s running water on the Fourth of July. It was a beautiful dark starry night and I felt like I was in a dream. The dam is massive and the roar of the water makes it seem like it’s alive. I’m kind of a big nerd. When we lived in Washington state, we lived in an area that got a lot of snow. We didn’t have money for cool moon boots or even good shoes. We did have store bags. We would wrap plastic grocery store bags around our shoes so our feet and socks wouldn’t get wet on the way to school. I would always walk in the deepest pockets of snow and try to get the other kids walking with us to pretend we were Lewis & Clark exploring the Oregon Trail. It should go without saying but yes….I was that girl!
What is the best book you’ve read recently? These is my words by Nancy Turner. It’s got stuff about settlers going out west, love, tragedy, humor— all the things I love!
If someone were to make a movie of your life, what actress would you want to play you? What genre would best characterize your movie? (Of course it’s a repeat favorite question).Penelope Cruz would be such an honor! I love her. I’m going to add sparkly vampires, time travel, John Oliver, people in capes, at least one zegraffe (cross between zebra/giraffe), The Bukis and The Tigres Del Norte and such to make up a totally new genre.
If you could live in another time, what time would that be? I’m good with the time I’m living in now. There have been a few really amazing days that make me want to invent a Groundhog Day Remote control so I could go back to them whenever I want.
If you could be an animal, what animal would that be and why? Tina the Llama from Napoleon Dynamite. Why? Because she’s Tina the Llama from Napoleon Dynamite.
Why did you decide to start blogging? I thought I wanted to publish a book. I was so self-conscience and still am a little. I like telling stories but I hate trying to figure out where the commas, and all those other annoying punctuations go. I have systemic lupus and my son has autism. I have found that there isn’t always information from the individual or family that has special needs or serious medical condition. When I first received both of the diagnosis I wanted to hear and see what this looked like and how it impacted other families. I found some books at the library but not what I needed. I also like to make people laugh and smile. I hope my blog makes people do those things! I want people to see that anything is possible. As my writing continues to evolve I will explore and write about deeper topics that I am passionate about.
Where do you find inspiration for what you write? Family, friends, walking around, after I experience brain freeze from eating a Tropical Blizzard too fast. Personal experience is in there too.
What is your blog theme (or more than one), stories, photography, books or poems? Why did you choose that blog title?My blog is called 4utu (For you too) and my tag line has been: It’s Your Life. Drive! I want people to see their individual power and not be afraid to assert themselves and fight for what they want. I have a few themes: Lupus & Me, Autism Tales and ongoing stories about some pesky cats— the ringleader’s name is Super Fluffles as he insists we call him.
—Singer and song writer, The Best Mom In The World
We’d all bounce that fat baby brother around trying to keep him happy. If he cried, we were all in for it. We all loved him so it wasn’t really a chore. He had brilliant bluish eyes and a disdain for any type of clothing.
I had never heard her sing before then but I wish to hear her songs all the days of my life. As she rocked Sunny Buddy Bull, she sang the story of him, the story of they and the story of us.