Category Archives: Blessings

Light Peeks Through the Darkness


aurora-borealis-aurora-borealis-10324489-1280-848

Yeah.  I’ve got stuff to be grateful for.  If you read some of my recent posts, you know that I’m between a rock and a hard place trying to find a job.  The rock in the hard place is me.  The hard place is between two circumstances of life.  Job vs. Jobless.

JOB:  Trying to be short on the back story, we live without any income and without pubic assistance. It’s getting down to the point of not knowing if we can make the rent next month. Tight and Tough.  I need to find a job for money and possibly, if I can manage it, health benefits.

JOBLESS:  Being jobless would mean that I’d have all the time in the world to advocate for my son’s education. It’s been non-stop and has spilled over into the summer.  I thank God that I am not working… and feel guilty about it.

GRATEFUL:  I’m so grateful for the free time I have to do that advocating thing.  My boy has been thriving at his school and I feel so grateful for every single person at that school who works with him.  It seems that next year he will be pulled out of this school, and away from all the people he knows and who know him.  I’m so grateful that I have the luxury of being able to jump right on this thing and I’ve been talking to people, and wrote a letter to request they make an exception for him.  See, they decided to build another school in our area and needed to fill it up.  My son was not moved to this new school, but to a school in between OUR school and the new school.  I guess what it is, is that I don’t want to take that chance and risk all the progress we’ve made, and start over at a different school.  SO MANY changes for him to deal with, and so many people he will never see again.

It’s just too God damned much.  Also, we fought for things at that school like forming a social skills group, a Lunch Buddy group, both of which are designed to teach the kids appropriate social behavior and create scenarios where they have to interact with one another.  They’ve gotten older students in the school to help out with this.  It’s HIS community.  Also, we, the parents, have been able to successfully work with the professionals at the school.  We’ve been able to, I think, change how they see the autistic child.  We’ve seen progress in this area, and though they really need to finance this, they are actually suggesting/urging to their professionals to take workshops in autism.  That’s a big freaking step.  I’ve talked to them about how the kids get labeled and how they had, indeed, labeled an incident incorrectly because they were not familiar enough with what autism is.

They know that we are involved parents.  We care.  We volunteer.  We support them, take their advice, they listen to us and sometimes take our advice on how to handle our son.  I mean, it’s been working!  We’re a team!  Keep calm. Yeah, I know. So can you see how grateful I am that I am jump on this right away?  If I were working, I wouldn’t even know about this switching of schools until I got the letter right around a week before school starts.  I’m so grateful for the professionals at that school who have listened to me and have spoken to me.

Aside from the above, and of which I can go on and on, another thing I wouldn’t be able to do if I were working would be taking SPAN (Statewide Parent Advocacy Network) workshops.  I’ve been learning a lot about our rights and the laws.  I am still learning how to approach IEP meetings and interacting with the professionals at school in an effective way, a non-threatening way.  Anything having to do with advocacy for the special needs child.  Just being exposed and networking with the professionals and other mothers has given me more confidence than I ever thought I’d have.  I’m more assertive which surprises the heck out of me and I like it!  Another thing I’d really like to do is bring the awareness up to education of the school professionals and also the school body, the neurotypical kids. Ignorance breeds fear.  Fear breeds violence.

So yeah.  For right now, I can see some light in the darkness… and it’s pretty amazing.

Desperate Housewives? Not THAT Desperate!


paint-variety-colours-pretty

I’ve been feeling very sluggish lately and I’m realizing more and more that my emotional state is the culprit.  I really don’t want to come off as a complainer, or negative person; but what I do want to do is explore what the heck is going on in my head.  Isn’t this blogging stuff supposed to be about that?  Our deep thoughts?  Anyway, don’t really think anyone who knows me actually reads my blog, so I’m safe.

Well, when our son was born I had to quit my job after trying to get them to let me either work from home or as a part-time employee.  Yes, I feel that I have to interject that part–the effort I made to keep my employment in some form or another.  That makes me feel better and that my intentions were not to become a deadbeat.  What a conflict of emotions.  It was ingrained in me while growing up that I was going to be a wife and SAHM (stay at home mom).  It was the 1970’s and that’s what most women did.  If they were working, when they had their babies, they quit work and stayed home to raise the kids.  My time was a time that was this was still socially the norm, yet little by little women were making headway in the workplace.  While attaining “careers” but still a rare breed.  High school career day did not feature any careers for women aside from secretary.  Ah, I’m blubbering and you get the idea.  The other side of this is that I needed a job to make me feel valuable and useful, financially.  Socially, if you do not have a job, you’re a worthless, lazy deadbeat.

So, I’ll start off by saying that I “know” that the work of the mom is THE most important work that anyone can do.  It’s your job and responsibility to raise and teach your children to grow into GOOD people.  Caring people, compassionate, smart, loving, giving, resourceful, and SUCCESSFUL, self-sufficient, independent people.  In our case, “independent” and “self-sufficient” are particularly important.  So.  I know this…..

I’d really like to focus on my current day-to-day living.  We are barely getting by and where it shows the most is with the food we buy.  I love to cook and I love to cook with fresh everything, meat, veggies, cheese, and fresh spices preferably grown in my own backyard.  Well, I can’t do any of those things now and it hurts me in every way.  I love fresh ground coffee. I loved going to farmer’s markets in the summertime.  I loved that occasional purchase of something totally different to what we’re used to buying.  I know that hubby loves doing this, too, but we’ve long since stopped the extras and stuck with the bare necessities.  What used to make me very happy was just going food shopping.  Now, my hubby does that shopping and while I know that he’s trying to save money, the stuff he buys is not very healthy.  I keep quiet because I know that he’s trying to do the best he can with the money (or credit) he has.  Without getting into specifics, we are buying cheap.  We practically purchase our food on a day-to-day basis, which means I cannot cook the way I want to cook.  Heating up freezer food is not my idea of cooking and, indeed, it is NOT cooking at all.  No leftovers to create another meal.  No divided servings in the freezer from cooking a lot at once.  No real ingredients on hand to put together something delicious at the last minute.  Oh, but I can say that I did just that only yesterday.  I made an awesome white bean dip with beans, mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes left over from March, a bit of left over sour cream and spices that have been in my cupboard, and a bit of honey.  I made a meal out of that for myself and dipped pretzels in there.  Believe it or not, it made me forget.  It gave me control over the food.

Last year I took a canning class and I was so set on canning blueberries or whatever presented itself when I had the extra money to buy the ingredients.  Well, it didn’t happen for the blueberries and not sure when, or with what I’ll be able to do this magic of canning.  It’s a bit depressing since I did make sure to get all implements of canning last year, especially for the jellies, jams and preserves.  What I did manage to can was about five jars of honey mustard.  It came out thick, pastier than expected but then again I did “tweak” the recipe and so I had to deal with the result.  Still, it tasted great and I was very happy with that batch~!

So, it’s not only about the food.  It’s about the skyrocketing costs in gas and tolls, and the ability, or non-ability to bank.  I do not have a bank account or even a credit card of my own.  Don’t cry for me on that one because I am glad that I don’t have a credit card, but miserable that I don’t have a bank account.  TOLLS.  $28.00 in bridge tolls alone to visit my brother out on Long Island, NY, from Elizabeth, NJ.  Same goes for Brooklyn, NY, my hometown.  The Port Authority should be ASHAMED of themselves!  So, what do I tell my family and friends when I say we can’t visit?  It’s a bummer.  I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, a mere few miles away, and I can’t even visit there.  I drive myself crazy trying to combine activities on trips, but that’s really not fair especially the last minute plans.  It’s also about worrying about conserving gas and I end up not going out at all to meet up with friends.  Our, or I should say MY lifestyle has changed so much and it’s not even like I’m used to luxury.  Never had that, but I always managed to do something stupid to make myself feel like I’m doing something special.  My old tricks are not effective any longer and so, I’m feeling a bit depressed.  When I think of “luxury,” I think of going out for dinner at a nice restaurant, maybe take in a movie. Oh, and that diamond ring, earrings and necklace!  (Ha, a leftover sentiment from my last post, Dream Home, Dream On.  DH and I have given up on date night, let alone spring for a vacation.  We probably don’t need a vacay since we’re not working, right?

DH is doing the best that he can.  He finally got his degree and even substituted five days the last week of school.  However, he is now finding out what I’ve known all along… that there are no jobs out there.  I have sacrificed the skills and experience that I have, professionally, and applying for supermarket jobs, preferably for overnight, or late night.  I realize that this is needed as DH really needs to work daytime and I can comfortably work nighttime.  DH has applied several places and has not received back a whisper of interest.  This is definitely depressing, especially since we really need health insurance.  Nobody is offering health insurance these days.  Yeah, and on that topic, I really want to know if the president and congress will give up their gold card health insurance plans and put themselves on Obamacare with the rest of this country.  Congress!  That’s a whole other disgrace~!

English: Managing emotions - Identifying feelings

English: Managing emotions – Identifying feelings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I might paint a pretty awful picture, and I tried not to get “complaintive” with it.  When I think about it, I’ve got to be grateful for what I do have. What we do have, at least for this month, is a roof over our heads and an air conditioner that works. Maybe we should start really worrying when we can’t get provide the basics for our eight year old boy. Also, if I were working, I’d never have adequate time to advocate and prepare for his educational needs.  I’d never have the time to research and go for training on Autism.  So what the HECK. Something’s got to give.  Unfortunately, I can’t get paid to advocate for my child.  I’d love to feel free enough to devote my time for what I think is truly important–my son’s education.  If I were working, I’d never have found out, as soon as I did, about the school district re-drawing the school borders, effectively kicking my son out of his present school and into another one.  So, this week I had the time to research into that, make and keep an appointment with our principal, then write and hand deliver a letter requesting they make an exception for my son and keep him in his current school.  HO LY Crap!  Counting my blessings on THAT one.

I have a great husband, beautiful son, and I am so very proud of both of them.  I wish that I could get rid of this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, but I can’t.  It’s with me day and night.  I postpone waking up in the morning for as long as I can.  My doctor says that stress is not good for me right now and I look at him and wonder why I came to see him in the first place.  No way this stress is leaving any time soon, but you can be sure that when my son wants a cuddle, I will give him the best cuddle I can give.

God Don’t Like Complainers


NoComplaining

Um…. I guess that would be me.  So embarrassing to say that, but yeah.  Life is so weird.  You live, you try to sculpt yourself into the person you’d like to grow up to be; then as you try to “be” that person, you say to yourself that you’ve got to be you, you’ve got to voice your opinions.  That’s paramount and you assert yourself.  But let’s see where that got me……

Before I go further, I must state that I am fully blessed.  Despite my many failings, I am deeply loved.  That gives me the courage to write about myself and my flaws and failures.  First and foremost I am loved by God and have the firm belief of His profound forgiving nature.  There is a quote that speaks to this and I read it every day.  I have a firm belief that God has a purpose for each and every one of us, despite our imperfections.  He literally has a specific need, or finds a specific need for our specific imperfections.  We are useful despite it all.  This give me hope for my own soul.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing
  from God as my successes and my talents,
  and I lay both of them at His feet.”
   ~Mahatma Gandhi

All my life I was the quiet one.  The one who desperately strove to melt into the background, and blended in, right in between those gigantic flowers, painted onto the wallpaper in our kitchen.  I was a stutterer and I could not get a word out before the several attempts that usually bored people right before they moved on to other subjects.  Get the picture?  Not only could I not communicate, but I did not learn the social skills in order to interact with other human beings.  So I listened.  I listened to exchanges that totally, totally bored me.  I simply was not interested in most female conversations regarding curtains and home decor.  So what developed was that I became judgmental of females…. well, whether I am justified or not on that is still out for debate… pfst.  To this day, I find a conversation with a man much more interesting than talking to women…. sorry gals.

Anyway, so I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I can hold a conversation, but struggle with the social cues.  I do not stutter, except under stress it might come back a little.  I find that I am a woman who has a problem recognizing and honoring moderation.  I seem to be either this way or that–to the extreme.  Like, I could abstain from soda for months, yet if I get one taste, I’m off and running consuming more soda in one day than one has a right to.  WTH?  Same with water.  One day I’m consuming massive quantities of it, and the next I am a camel in the desert and you could not force one drop down my throat.  As a matter of fact, I need some right now……..

I’m back…. So, now that I’m going verbal, my Gemini self cannot shut up and every single thought in my head is out and off the tongue no sooner than my brain gets a hold of it.  Well, some thoughts should stay unspoken.  After years of keeping my mouth shut tight, the flood gates are opened and with my relatively newfound confidence, I speak my mind whenever and wherever and to whomever.  And it’s not all good.  You know if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.  The bottom line for me is that after I speak my mind, I feel better.  But taking my judgmental self outside and giving the double-parkers blocking traffic with their cars a piece of my mind, well, that can’t work for anyone but me.  Even then, afterwards I usually feel that I could’ve handled the situation a lot better.  I can’t abide inconsideration in any of its forms… but I really shouldn’t be getting into confrontations like I do.  Maybe writing about this will help me remember that next time.

Today I was listening to Alan Horvath who is a musician who does videos about the bible and religion.  I do suggest checking out his videos on youtube if you have a desire to listen to the Word with the names in their original languages.  I’m hoping the meaning of these books go back to the beginning, without the contamination of the human pen.  I watched one video about  Alan’s experience during Frankenstorm Sandy and he talked about how he heard a lot of people complaining.  He said, “God doesn’t like complainers,” and I thought, O.M.G. that’s me.  I complain long and loud to anyone who would stay quiet long enough for me to do so.  But you know, even though we didn’t have power for ten days, we had everything else, until our food spoiled; but even then we could still travel to towns every day to pick up some food for that day.  Yes, we were in long lines at the gas station, but heck, it was not bad enough to complain about.  I think people today don’t want to wait for anything.  We are under so much pressure to do it fast, then move on to the next thing.  I used this blog to complain, I also complained on facebook, I got together with my neighbor and we complained to each other… sigh.  But it was driven home to me, an active member of a Roman Catholic church, that God does not appreciate complainers.  Should that have been news to me?  Nope.  The whole book of Exodus tells us of the Jews complaining every other day and you know what?  God kept them wandering in the desert for forty years.  You’d think they’d learn their lesson.  You’d think that I would have by now, also.  My hubby is an excellent example.  He doesn’t complain at all.  Usually, that plays out well for me when I am involved, but if it’s something outside this house, I get frustrated with him, but you know, he’s got the right way to go.  It shows, too.  God is with him.  He’s just one of those people, that you just know.

I need to really learn my lesson.  It’s not like I’m an ignorant bitch…. not really.  So I will close with stating I am truly blessed.  Things are never really as bad as my first impression.  Regarding Hurricane Sandy, we got through it.  We did not flood though this house has a long history of flooding.  Because we did not flood, we kept our hot water.  We had a gas stove to cook on.  No heat, but plenty of handmade blankets to keep us warm at night.  We had radios and thanks to the presence of our seven-year old, plenty of batteries to keep the radios and flashlights going.  I was so grateful for NJ101.5 to keep myself connected to the outside world.  Finally, I had my loving husband and my beloved son with me.  What more could I possibly have the audacity to ask for?

I am Alive With the Sound of Music


Okay, so I couldn’t resist this one.  Daily. Prompt.

What role does music play in your life?

I am not a musician, though I did learn how to play the guitar later in life, which I think is so cool, but I’ll talk more about that.  Music literally saved my life.  That belief is so embedded in me that it’s a part of me.  I grew up in a depression.  I know that now.  In my teens I had serious thoughts of suicide.  I had a pretty vivid imagination and I would fantasize exactly how it would happen.  As a pre-teen, I’d fantasize about near-death situations usually by writing scripts for favorite TV shows.  One was the Wild Wild West, starring Robert Conrad.  This was the TV show that the recently made movie was based upon.  It was high tech for it’s time, which was cool, and I might be able to say it was sort of Steampunk because of that… hmmm that’s a thought.

the wild wild west-jim west-robert conrad-cowboys-western-tv-vintage-retro-television-train

The other was a show about rescue personnel, a helicopter and one guy had a rescue dog, a German Shepherd.  Don’t remember the name, but I’d type out the scripts on my grandfather’s old Underwood typewriter… I mean OLD.  One of those that had the exposed keys…..

PHI3743

Typing on this thing was a bitch but I loved it.  I got to really know the machine and could fix it, tweak it… I made it work for me.  When I really got going, the carriage would fly across and I’d promptly hit the carriage return.  To this day, computers have a “Return” button, well, it used to be called Carriage Return.  It was a lever at the upper left on the carriage.  The carriage was the roller and the thing that held the roller in place.  The paper would be inserted at the top, in back of the roller and you would roll it down, around and into place for typing.  At the top, the carriage return was just employed and the paper is back to the starting position, ready for typing another line… Anyway, I see I’ve digressed again… with pics to boot.

So you should have grasped the point by now that I was depressed and suicidal, or at least had suicidal thoughts as a teenager.  I am alive to this day because of Barry Manilow‘s music.   I would sing along constantly.  His music touched my soul in such a way that I felt that someone out there understood me.  All along, the range of my voice was on the lower end, but I can also sing higher now.  I know almost all of his songs by heart and every time I sing something, I feel that little tear, meaning tear drop, in my heart.  I am so grateful for that, for his music.  I’m sure that he already knows what his music has done for this world, but I’d somehow like for him to know how deeply it/he has touched me.  Mr. Manilow, you saved this life.

I can’t end this post in such a dark, non-presence of light.  All music touches me.  Growing up, and I hated it, my dad would play classical and yes, the old country music.  Now, I can say that I love almost any kind of music and I owe that to my dad.  My dad country music and my mom the top hits of the 50’s and her 45’s.  When I was very young and had the chicken pox, my parents got me a Close N Play phonograph and gave me quite an assortment of 45’s from their own collections, mainly from the 50’s and early 60’s.  I learned the lyrics to those by closing and playing all day long until I got all the words written down.  I’m sure my mother appreciated that… HA.  Oh, it was because of a wacky song or pseudo song called, “The Flying Saucer,” by Dickie Goodman that I came to love those story narratives with parts of songs inserted to fill out the story.  Buchanan and Goodman

Through music, I started writing lyrics to songs, and then poetry… or maybe visa versa.  Sad though because I’d never post them up on the internet because I know that someone will steal it for their own.

In my later 30’s I learned how to play the guitar from a friend.  It was a trade off.  I stayed with him while he recuperated from surgery and he taught me the chord of the guitar.  He’d play melody and I played rhythm.  I enjoyed that, but because of a lack of understanding, and math, I could never learn to read music.  That makes me sad, but I like that I can play by ear.  Even playing just the chords touches me deep inside; and just knowing that I can do it, makes me really happy.   I sang in our church choir for a few years and that was very satisfying as I could sing in front of people… and they actually liked it!

So in closing, what music means to me is memories, both good and bad… but mostly good.  Through music I can relive my past, know exactly where I came from and not be very bummed out about it.

Thanks for listening.


I thought I would take the opportunity today to talk about the added significance of this Federal Holiday. You see, it’s a personal holiday for me, too. This is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The day we commemorate a great man who gave his life so that EVERYONE could be truly free in this “free” country of ours called the United States of America. A man whose life was wasted, taken away from him, BUT his life was not wasted. This country started out with a great foundation, but those ideals were actively held back from the population of this country who were not white. The black people who had helped make this country what it was. Black people who fought along side the whites so that this country could be free from British rule, but they were also fighting for their own personal freedom.

As I said earlier, this is also a personal day, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday of Jan. 2005 will never be forgotten by myself or my family. This was the very day that we found out about my “late” pregnancy. A day that is written in our history and in my soul. I am reblogging a post that I wrote way back when as a private post, then made it public but did not tag it to sort of keep it under the radar. Today I reblog it with categories and tags because, well, it’s my contribution for the day. I couldn’t ask for a better day to have the door to my future open up wide and loud. It was this day that God’s plan started to unfold for me, my purpose in life was finally revealed. Now that I look back, so appropriate that his name would be Gabriel.

Back in 2005, I read somewhere that the definition of Gabriel was “strength of God.” Very simple. But if you think about it further, it was the Archangel Gabriel who came to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, he appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of John (the Baptist). I am reassured I chose the perfect name for our little Life-Changer.

So without further ado, I present our birth story:  (oops, the link is above)

DragonMommie's World

August 23, 2005 ~ Written in Yahoo 360 blog

It’s 11:50AM and I am expecting Gabriel to wake up from his nap any minute. Nothing out of the ordinary today; but later we will go shopping for a crib. Gabriel has almost outgrown his cradle, the one in Ed’s family for a generation. All his brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews have been in it, and now, our son. We hope the tradition is carried on by the kids. This weekend we will be going to Ed’s sister’s house, so I probably will not blog over the weekend. We want to bring back the cradle when we go, hence the crush to get a crib this week.

Gabriel has been such an unexpected blessing in our lives.

First of all, we didn’t even find out I was pregnant until I was almost 7 months along. I experienced no symptoms…

View original post 1,737 more words

A WordPress Exercise


No lights?  Light some candles.

No lights? Light some candles.

Okay, so I thought I could answer prompt questions thrown out by WordPress to keep blogging, even if it’s just a little bit.  We’ll see, usually my “little” blurbs grow into monstrosities.  First one up:

Honestly evaluate the way you respond to crisis situations. Are you happy with the way you react?

I jumped on this question right away because I can honestly say that I’m not happy with the initial way I react to crisis situations, or at least some of them.  What comes to mind right away is Hurricane Sandy.  We live in Elizabeth, NJ and had lost power for 10 days.  We ONLY lost power and had no flooding in the basement to speak of.  Immediately, I felt isolated in the dark and a bit scared when the power didn’t go back on right away.  We are used to the power going off, but never had gone more than a few hours without it coming back on.

After the fear (I never got over the isolation), I started to get angry.  Angry because I was hearing about everyone else getting power back and we were not slated to get ours back any time soon.  The feeling isolation was profound and something I had not felt since after my divorce and was forced to take up residence in a succession of rooms.  After the storm, no power, no phone.  I had a cell phone, but could not make calls.  I needed to connect with the outside world, my family, but I couldn’t.  Eventually, I discovered that I could do text messages and texted my family to relay our situation, inquire of theirs and hoping that I would hear back from them.

Forever tuned to NJ101.5, this radio was my lifeline to the outside world.

Forever tuned to NJ101.5, this radio was my lifeline to the outside world.

We had a radio and I latched onto that all day and night to hear news about the storm.  The station I listened to was NJ101.5 and at the time just didn’t buy into the “just be grateful” speech.  I wanted my power back, but really?  I wanted my internet back.  I feel ashamed, but that’s what it was.  I resented not having my internet.  I really don’t know why.  When I look at the things I do when online, I can’t see what is so important.  Also, our whole routine was disrupted, mainly our son was not in school for 10. whole. days.   That’s a LOT of days.

What refused to come into my sphere of any importance were the people who were REALLY affected.  Those who lost family and friends, who lost their homes, clothes and possessions…..lost memories.  Those who had no idea where their next meal was coming from.   Traumatic stuff that forces a realistic perspective.  I had my family and that really should have been enough for me.  It was hanging off my peripheral consciousness, but I was too hyped up.  Much too much caught up in the stories I was listening to on the radio and applying them to myself.

I can only pray that I have learned from this.  I am not going to “say” that I’ve learned from this because how many times do we say that, then the next time the so called definitive lesson eludes us and we jump right back into that trench.  A good thing to do to keep it into the forefront is to just keep thinking about it.  Think about the petty way that I reacted to this situation.  I say “situation” because it wasn’t a real tangible crisis.  We managed.  We kept warm.  We took hot showers…. That’s right, because we didn’t flood, our hot water heater was not affected.   On the coldest night, we all slept in the same bed.  HA… there I was thinking that DH and I were going to keep our seven year old warm and he was the one who kept us warm!  We had gas, so the stove was available, but after the food was gone two days later, we had to drive to other towns to get our food every day.  Was that so horrible?  Looking back, I cannot think that it was.

I really have to learn to stop, breath, and think things through.  I’m such a baby sometimes, which brings my thoughts back to someone in my past who told me just about as much and that I needed some growing up to do.  I guess I will never stop growing up and that is somewhat of a comfort.  My challenge to myself is to start being more mindful of not just my external environment, but my internal environment.

If after this, you’d like to read more about the details of our storm situation, you can go to the links below:

Day Nine Post Sandy

Who Turned on That Light

Frankenstorm Sandy Continues

Halloween and Frankenstorm Sandy

Winding Down the Days Post Sandy

Stormy Reflections

Imperfectly Perfect

Water Gives Life


Today I attended the 2012 Catechist Convocation at the Paramus Catholic Regional High School in New Jersey. Whew, that was a mouthful!  Usually, I’m alone for most of the day during these things and my schedule today left me free from any workshops from after the opening ceremony, ending at 9:30am, to my scheduled lunch then my first workshop starting at 12:45pm.  Basically, I was left to my own devices most of the morning.  I spent some time browsing the “exhibits”,  but I shall call them vendors.  I pretty much spent almost all the money I had on a book about my favorite author entitled, “Genius Born of Anguish~ The Life and Legacy of Henri Nouwen” and a car bumper sticker that reads:  Abortion stops a beating heart.  Yeah, the book took up 98% of the money I brought.  Normally, I would’ve gotten something for the current RCIA class but there is no class currently in the works.  Thanks to Cyndi for teaching me the proper “etiquette” for these things.  The first time I attended, she got me a booklet and cards for our then class.  Well, after that purchase I headed outside and got halfway around the building, and found a nice gazebo to sit a spell and start this book.  The weather was really nice and stayed there a while until the groundsmen came around with their leave blowers and drenched me full of diesel fuel or whatever they throw in those things…. yuk!

I also attended two workshops:

  • Be An Evangelizing Catechist
  • One Body in Christ:  Sacrament Preparation & Participation in Liturgy for Individuals with Autism

That’s one bitch’in title and I had to write that whole thing when I took the survey with my opinions on the classes.  The first one really focused on the CCD kids.  Some really great ideas for teaching kids and inviting the parents to get involved.  I really enjoyed that class for the ideas, but I spent the whole time getting up and down to get my handouts, which were one after the other the whole hour fifteen minutes.  The up side is that I have the actual handouts to give to the school, and I’m going to make sure I do some of this stuff with Gabe at home.  I think I’ll work on a separate post for that…. Heck, maybe while this Frankenstorm comes through.

The second workshop focused on providing an effective education for, as it says, Individuals with Autism.  This is near and dear to my heart and I took this workshop with Gabe in mind, hoping I could bring some of this home.  My second hope is to try and get the church to develop a program for the autistic student, both children and adults.  Not sure how it will go over, but this is SO important and would go a long way with families who are not yet advocating for their autistic child for whatever reason.  While I didn’t really hear anything new about autism in this class, I found it helpful, though I do wish the speaker was more prepared.  She spent most of the time fiddling with her electronics and getting them to work.  We did not go over all the material she had for the class and that was a downer.  It was a major distraction, all the while I was thinking about the previous instructor telling us we should be well prepared with our lesson before the children walked into the class….  priceless!

Well, getting to the inspiration of my post.  I’m sitting in the cafeteria eating my lunch at 11:15am and I realize that I don’t have any money to buy more water.  The lunch people were very specific as to what we could take:  ONE sandwich, ONE packet mustard or ONE packet mayonnaise, ONE drink, ONE bag of two Oreo cookies and ONE half-bag of chips.  I’ve been guzzling water lately like an elephant and all I had right there was a 16.9 oz. bottle of Snapple Spring Water which was to last me the entire rest of the day.  Snort…. I’m sitting there knowing that will never happen.  So I sat there, counting the minutes till I could get home for a nice frigid cold glass of water …. (glugg… glugg…) I’m thinking that the fountain water was not too bad of a tasting water.  I sat there knitting (yes, I brought my knitting and knit through the whole opening ceremony and keynote speech, though I wasn’t actually there for the speech as I was stifling hot and couldn’t wait to get out of the auditorium.  Let me just say that God most certainly works in His own way and in His own time.  Whenever or however, He knows what you need and exactly when you need it.  Just before I got myself ready to leave the cafeteria, my friend from our parish came out of nowhere and offered me her 16.9 oz. of cold water, unequivocally stating she was not going to drink it.  I accepted her offer with such gratitude that even that completely overwhelmed me.  It was all I could do not to tear up, there.  She really had no clue of my dilemma, yet she handed it over just when I was going through my options.  Even after I finished her bottle, I refilled it with water from the bathroom because that water was colder than the water in the drinking fountain.  It had a distinctly chlorine taste but I told myself that it was sanitized… ugh.  That bottle, though, kept my tongue from drying onto the roof of my mouth and my lips moist and separated during my two workshops.  Oh well, not a life and death situation, but God certainly has looked out for me in many ways and many, many times.

His Name is TONY, Dad~!


First and foremost, this is amazing to me, and that I caught on to it.  This morning we were free to head on over to our diner for breakfast.  I say “our” diner because this is the one that DH has the school discount for.  He always goes there to, 1:  Support a local business, and 2: the school discount gets him 15-20% off the bill…. also, it’s very close to us and that’s a plus.

So we were there today, waiting for our breakfast and I sort of hear, on the peripheral, a conversation happening between the hostess and a man.  I don’t see them, but she calls him ‘Tony’ and all of a sudden Gabe pipes up (he must have been listening, too) and blurts out, “His name is Tony, Dad!”  He was so excited.  I still don’t really know who the guy is and just let it go and never turned around.  I mean, give those people their privacy, right?

So then later on the manager comes over and he says hello.  He always says hello.  Then Gabe says, “Hi, TONY, how are you?”…. and blah blah’s of other stuff he talks about, but then it just clicked that my little guy, who’s been talking to this manager like forever, but I guess without knowing his name, picks up on his name, then immediately uses it in a greeting.  How cool is that!  Now, this might seem trivial to most of you, or all of you; but it’s a pretty BIG damned thing for me. First, I feel so blessed to be able to actually see this in action and then put two and two together, myself.  Usually my boys are out together, but without me to  save some money here and there, but big guy wanted us all to eat out this morning.  Second, part of Gabe’s disability is that his social skills are/were practically non-existent.  I can’t wait to tell the supervisor of the social skills group… I think it’s working!  It’s so wonderful to see this progress in action and taking hold. This coming week is the last week, but then it starts up again when the summer semester at the school starts.  Gabe is also starting to hold the doors open for me and even gesturing with his hands and saying, “come right this way”…. LOL.

Oh, another biggie thing happened at breakfast.  Gabe made an actual egg sandwich all by himself…. what?  Up until now, he always refused a sandwich and has not had eggs in a very long time, since being a toddler.  Out of the blue, he orders an egg, then proceeds to make a sandwich with the toast that was served.  I suspect that he saw me modeling that behavior because I always get scrambled eggs and rye toast, then make a sandwich out of it, which I also did today.

Okay… I just wanted to write that down.   Every year he is making progress and it’s pretty exciting.

Oh hell, am I too “mothery” and not realizing that he’s growing up and can do a lot more than I thought?  I’ve been told that I baby my little guy and I try to keep that in mind, but there are still a lot of things I won’t let him do by himself.  I have no other children to know what is supposed to come next, and then I see all these new things… Just wondering.


(I preface this post with a note that this post was already published and linked to “a diary of a mom”, prematurely, through the quickie post feature at WordPress and still trying to get used to it.  This complete post is really an update. My apologies for any inconvenience.)

This is Autism Awareness Month and my boy is autistic.

I don’t say that to draw attention to my son being autistic. I write that to draw attention to Autism.

Lately, I’ve been seeing embryos of posts for myself that start with comments I make on other blogs.  Finally, I am writing one here that I’ve written for Jess at A diary of a mom, which I highly recommend reading, BTW.  Her post today is entitled, “Passed Right By – and Never Knew”, thoughts that we all must be thinking.

Long before autism, I believed that we are meant to turn our negative experiences into positives by sharing them to help others.  There is such a liberation, a burst of freedom when this clicks within our consciousness.  Just think about it.  For eons people have been asking themselves, “Why?”  Why does God let this happen to me.  I believe that I’ve found the answer.

“…sharing them to help others.”  What I left out is “sharing them to help others who share the same suffering.”  While everyone suffers uniquely in intensity and within our own circumstances, we so deeply share the hurt of our suffering.  I am reminded of this just this morning.  Our son has been very upset lately surrounding “school”.  At first, I thought it was the typical adjustment from spending a week off from school without the structure provided at school.  I could not get out of him why he was so upset or what had happened to cause it.  This morning he told me that “the kids don’t let me play…”  This was the only phrase that I could understand, yet it burned me to the core.  If you know any of my history, you know that I spent 1st grade through 8th grade without friends, among people who actively pushed me away.  This morning, my hurt was Gabe’s hurt… and visa versa.  I took him in my arms and generously administered copious skin on skin back rubs.  I told him that not everyone is going to be our friend.  I told him that he does have other, new friends at the social skills group he just got into.  I told him that Zach is his friend.  I couldn’t tell, but I hope that was a consolation to him.

Just found an article I wrote about the “Blessings of Pain,” hoping to elaborate more about what our personal pain can be elevated to.

My quoted comment above states that I discovered this little bit of wisdom “long before autism” and that is correct.  For my whole life, I was wondered why God would isolate me, it seemed, so deliberately.  I wondered why none of my teachers or school principal did anything to help or stop what was going at school, a catholic school, btw.  Just this week I confided this bit of my history to a counselor at Gabe’s school and she had an answer that made sense and I had never even tried to rationalize an answer for myself.  She said that the reason they didn’t do anything was because they were thinking that this experience would make me strong.  Well, I don’t doubt that, but it had also screwed me up emotionally and socially for most of my life and I still carry the baggage that can be seen at times, more than I would like.  It’s dirty baggage.  It’s smelly baggage.  It’s damaged baggage.  My old school is closing and I cannot say that I am sorry to see that happening.  Thirty years later, my old classmates want to have some kind of party to commemorate the school.  Since on facebook, they had gotten dinners and fundraisers started to save the school even before this.  Needless to say, I had no desire to participate in any of this.  My memories are damaged.  Distorted.

Counselor Lady told me something that I knew already.  She said that God would not have let Gabriel into our lives if we could not deal, if we could not handle a child as special as him.  Yes, I knew this.  I didn’t know it from the first day, but I learned it.  After continually, if even with humor, complaining about how my life was over because I had a kid in my mid forties, I learned that I would’ve made a horrible mother if I had a kid when I was biologically supposed to, in my twenties.  I know more and accept more about myself now than I did before and that is so damn important… to be as comfortable as you can be in your own skin… BEFORE having kids, and this applies to ANYONE, any mother, any parent out there.  Young parents teach their kids what they were taught from their own parents because that is all they know, quite frankly, and I had a mom who was a yeller, screamer and a hitter (and I’ll not say with what).  An older parent can teach more than that.  We can teach what we’ve learned from our own lives, from our own personal perspective and less from the strict perspective of our parents.  I am SO aware that I am more like my mom than I care to be.  With this knowledge, I am super sensitive about checking myself before I get to the “hitting” point.  I’ll not lie and say that I was always successful, but I can say that those episodes were stopped very quickly and I have been successful for over a year now.  Even at his young age, I made it a point to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

Somewhere in my thirties I came to the realization, s-l-o-w-l-y, that all my hurtful experiences could be made clean by using them to help other people going through the same pain that I went through.  God made me a talker and even though I spent the first part of my life largely in silence, when I started talking you’d be hardpressed to try and get me to stop.  It’s well known that if someone had an issue and needed emotional support, what is appreciated and helps the most is if someone could talk to that person who had experienced the same problem.  Other people try to help and say the same kind, yet superficial and irrelevant words; whereas others who have that specific empathy, offer so much more than that.  They offer their own experience, they offer their own pain up in an effort to heal the hurt of another.  Grace such as this not only can help that person, but the person who offers it.  We are indeed healed a little bit more by sharing the most darkest parts of ourselves.  When we can realize the poetic harmony this plays in our lives, we will never question again the “why’s” of a tragedy.  We will never doubt or blame our God (whatever the name) for making us suffer.  We can immerse ourselves, bath ourselves in the pain and emerge on the other side with something in our pockets for an emergency.  With such an arsenal, we now can find purpose in any part of our lives.  We can be the wounded healers (I did not coin that phrase.  It’s the name of a book, “The Wounded Healer”, written by Henri J.M. Nouwen, one of my very favorite writers, may God bless his soul.  He also said, “By giving words to these intimate experiences I can make my life available to others.”

We are put on this earth to interact with others.  There is no doubt about that.  Let’s love one another.  Let’s help one another.  Let there not be hate or violence against others.

Hey, just adding in here that I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment with any and all of them.  I welcome any and all comments… with spam, disrespect and filth being the exceptions.  Thanks!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far


Don’t be afraid.  This is just me from this past Halloween and I totally enjoyed making myself up for the day.  Now, it sort of fits my feelings.  This post will be written as a specific comment for Jess’ post on “Diary of a Mom” blog in which she chronicals her family’s experiences, specifically with autism.  I am responding to her post entitled, “I See Myself”, without taking up too much space in her comments, which is kinda inevitable at this point as my middle name is “Tangent” and at least here, I can go as far away as I want… hee hee.  I almost did not read it because I’ve been rushing through my delayed morning routine which is to go through my morning emails and community sites I frequent before getting into much needed knitting this week.  I read this post and saw myself and had to stop myself to breath.  I am forever seeing myself, as she has.  I’ve seen myself even before my son was diagnosed, but never knew it to be Autism.  I mean, I see myself as being fine.  Different, but fine.  I grew up in the sixties and if I were diagnosed back then, it might have been for retardation, not autism and my life would most certainly be very different…. I don’t like to think about that.  As a matter of fact, I don’t like to think about anything.  As far back as I can remember, I could just sit there for hours, just staring off into space without a single thought.  I still have these times, but not as much because, I suspect, solely because I have a computer with internet.  Games? NO… My vice is just surfing from one site to the next without much thought or concentration.  I LOVE information, and that is what I get though I rarely take the time to read each thing through… really.   Wow, sort of the same thing except it’s external.

Jess, I know what you’re going through.  The difference is that I’ve lived my whole life painfully knowing that I was strange, weird; and it was unexplained.  I yearned to be normal, accepted as normal, make friends and be comfortable with them.  I was acutely aware that I should look people in the eye, yet never could seem to get my eyes to accept my will.  People judged me as being stuck up.  Stuck up?  I wondered how anyone could think that when I lived without the “things” in my life that I thought were instrumental for that assessment in other people, people I judged…. and it went on and on.

Eventually, I learned to compensate, but I was always criticized, chided by family for not seeking out peers, for being a wallflower, for never “making an appearance” when we had company in the house.  I’d spend summers holed up in the basement, pursuing my interests, instead of being outside with the other kids on our block.  I had a miserable school experience (I always have to add that in), but then later on, when I started working, I realized that I would meet people that didn’t know me and I could be whoever I wanted to be.  I did that, but I soon realized that I’d have to spend time with friends if I wanted to HAVE friends… lol.  How was I going to do that if I could not even hold a conversation without stuttering, without running?  To this day I absolutely love to entertain gatherings, I find that I have a LOT of things to do in the kitchen, away from the people.  It’s my refuge in some ways.  I’m comforted by doing, preparing food and serving.  This past Christmas, I was almost bodily forced to sit down with my own family.

I can remember one New Year’s Eve party.  I was with a bunch of people, most of whom I did know.  This was in the late nineties.  I can remember not wanting to be the center of attention, I was cringing, I was frantically looking around, I was on the verge of what I can only assume was a melt down.  I was shaking with pins and needles exploding into my skin.  The irony of this is that I definitely was NOT the center of attention.  As a matter of fact, I was not being noticed at all, a fly on the wall, sitting at a table, all alone.  Yet, I burst from the room, into a bathroom stall–pretending.  I was in my mid thirties and it was this night that, after 5 minutes or so, after the clock struck midnight, I first forced myself out of there to intentionally mingle.  I tried to look normal, but felt far from it.  I left soon after, but still, this was a good idea, I thought.  I could accept and allow myself that social break when I needed it, but after 5 minutes I’d come back to people.

My own flashbacks include my dear hubby from the time our son was born, routinely would almost force me out of the house at least once a week to get out and take time off away from being a mom.  He never wakes me up to get our son ready for school.  Does he know something even from way back then that I am totally oblivious to?  Believe me, he has his own demons, yet he either strives to make life easier for me OR he is merely sticking to his own routine which is so deeply embedded inside him.  I like to actively believe the former.  Jess, to this day I’ve never made it to the doctor’s office to discuss this possibility and probably won’t for a good long time.  Heck, before my son got diagnosed, I thought I would be judged as a hypochondriac.  Jess, that took a lot of guts and I’m inspired.

Last year I read “Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s” by John Elder Robison (little did I know that, at will, I would remember and spell his name correctly)  I linked to the author’s blog.  I don’t like it that Amazon has a monopoly on book links.  I’d rather give the reader a little more than just the obvious.   I gained a lot of insight into my son and myself from this book; and hopefully, it’s the template for future insights into myself.

Not sure if I should continue so I’ll stop dead in my tracks.  It’s been my experience that I will repeat myself over and over, word for word because I wasn’t sure if I had anything more to say, but just felt that I should keep talking… and well, got nowhere for that effort.  Oh maybe I got somewhere.  I zeroed in to the Weird Zone.

 

edited to add:

Okay, of course immediately after posting, I decided that I’m not finished talking.  There IS more I’d like to say. More about how I’ve adapted and more about the positives.  Maybe these ideas belong in separate posts, so this is a good thing……

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