Thursday, December 26, 2013

My 4 Lessons of 2013

New years. A time of reflection, change, and rejuvenation. It was a pretty good year for me, I learned a few things. Here are the 4 most important things I learned this year.

1. Respect your children. I feel like I have done the best I can as mother, and when they were babies it was easy, feed, cloth, shelter, and snuggle. As they have grown and begun to think and feel as little individuals it has become more complicated. Respect is important to me; I won’t tolerate being disrespected especially in my own home. But now, I realize more than ever, it needs to be earned, not just because “I said so.”  I need to keep my word, create space for bonding, and try to foster learning without crushing their spirits. I have been called out, hurt, inspired, and awed by my growing boys and know there is work to be done as they transform into young men.  So thank you dear children for keeping me honest.

2. I need to be creative. Everyone has an urge to be creative, whether it’s painting, crafts, writing, singing. We all want to create something beautiful just for its own sake. I think it’s something that can easily be ignored and brushed aside, but that ignoring this aspect of your being can be toxic. I have been writing now more than ever and my blogging has been cathartic and healing. I also still have my grand dream of publishing a memoir. It still feels rather far off but I'm glad to have a dream. 

3. Healing is ongoing. I once thought I was as healed as I was going to get. But after some significant backsliding, and rude awakenings I know it’s something that is never done but needs continuous work. Thank you therapy for helping me unpack those boxes. Often unpleasant, and sometimes a lot of work but well worth it.

4. I am a lover. I am unabashedly, adoringly, enthusiastically in love with people. I need to express my love, my heart overflows with it. If I like you, I’m probably in love with you. I am in love with your uniqueness, your strengths, your weaknesses. I love the ways you are different from me, and the ways we are the same. I believe love is an amazing radiating energy and I thank the universe I have been given such a large capacity for love. I used to be apologetic about being too soft, making “excuses” for the way people were. No more. If I am soft hearted, that is my place, there is room for everyone in this world, being a "softy" is who I am.

So here is me wishing you a Happy New Year! My wish for you all to have continued learning, and more love than you can handle. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Brilliant Gift

I identify with this woman and her journey with her daughter. (See link at the bottom of the page.) I was one of those judgmental people, who blamed ADHD on bad parenting and what have you. Until I was blessed, yes that is right, blessed with an incredible, intelligent, sweet, curious boy...with ADHD. And just like woman in the story, we picked up on his gifts, yes gifts, early on. Here was a bright boy with a nearly gifted IQ, who was unable to succeed at school, struggled with appropriate behavior with friends and family. He had repetitive verbalizations, interrupting constantly, fidgeting, zero ability to concentrate, and impulsive behavior. (I have plenty of exposer to other children, so I know the difference between “normal boy” stuff, and what it looks like to be ADHD)But he was smart! And intuitive, artistic, empathetic, and FUNNY! The type of funny you have to be smart for. He NEVER gave up.
After years of struggling to keep up, testing with specialists and doctors, multiple diagnoses of Dyslexia, ADHD, and a vision disorder too complicated to explain, I was resigned that school was always going to be a huge challenge. I spent countless hours tutoring him with an expensive reading program, volunteered at the school, and took him to vision therapy, which was also hugely expensive.  I find it noteworthy that none of these interventions were covered by insurance.  Finally as a last resort, and not without hesitation, we started him on medication.
We waited a full year before getting a prescription because of the negative stigma attached.  The idea that parents throw their kids on medication as an easy-out is quite simply untrue. But it got to the point he was barely keeping up, there were daily tears and frustration (his and mine) trying to complete the simplest assignments, things that should have been easy.
When he started his meds...the change was amazing. He is so proud of his success at school now, he bursts through the door 90% of the time either having done his homework already or excited to do it. He gets happy little notes on his work from his teacher. And today, he was awarded top in class for WRITING! One of the most difficult things for him to do. And he also received a “Most Improved” award.  I am so very proud of him, and it brings me to tears to see the pride on his face. This little boy is a brilliant gift to me and has many many brilliant gifts to share. 
So if anyone wants to judge anyone else for the decisions they make to help their children have the success they deserve, stop and educate yourself.  
Are there problems with our education system? Definitively yes. Are there natural interventions? Of course and we use them as much as possible, diet, nature walks, and focused time doing things he enjoys. (Lately it’s cooking.) But to discount the benefits of ADHD medication, or worse, discount the existence of ADHD altogether, is only increasing the stigma, and making the struggle of these children (and adults) that much more difficult. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Atheists Christmas

On Christmas, being an Atheist, and what it means to me. Being an atheist one would think I would have no reason to celebrate the holiday. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
I am an atheist, but this does not mean I don’t experience reverence. Reverence for my fellow man and the capacity we have to love and care for one another. Reverence for things that are beyond me to understand, “miracles” if you will. Reverence for life and all of its unexplainable beauty, a frozen pond or tiny winter bird on a bare branch.
 I also value bonding with my friends and family through traditions. The memories we create at the holidays, when our hearts are full and we have lots of love to give, become treasures to future generations. Christmas carols bring tears to my eyes because of the sense of love and nostalgia they evoke. I love the cooking, and family gatherings, I love the snow and warm fires. There is an overall sense of family being celebrated. It is traditions that keep those who have passed on alive in our hearts.
Also charity and the generosity of the human spirit comes alive this time of year. People are reminded of the importance of caring for others. When we have so much, be it love or money, we are compelled to share it liberally during the holidays.  And whether we have everything we want or just what we need, people seem to be more grateful.
I know many people will argue that Christmas is about the wee baby Jesus, and that is fine, but it means something to me as well. And if I am wrong in the end, I am quite confident I will be forgiven for my non-belief, because the things I do believe in are Love of my fellow man, Charity, and Reverence for all the beautiful mysteries of life we cannot understand.  All of these things are important to me year round but I very much enjoy celebrating it in unity with so many others during this season.

Have the happiest most joyful holiday with those you love, celebrating it in whatever manner fills your heart.