HELP EMMA'S DREAM'S COME TRUE
I had another amazing adventure at the Autism Treatment Center of America last week. I spent the week in the company of about thirty of the most amazing parents I have ever met, and learned so ,so, much!
I learned that taking Emma’s learning to the next level can actually be more fun for her and I , and not so much like adding a “ have to” onto to her fun activity.
I learned (again) that “good” is the death of “great”.
I learned that making daily tasks fun doesn’t have to be more work, it can actually be less.
I learned that letting go means being fine, even great with everything thing that could happen. And I do mean everything.
I learned that building, requesting an initiating are three different bears, and how to extremely effectively do all three in the playroom.
I learned how to effectively use green lights to move Emma’s learning to the next level.
I was given tons of resources for building games and activities build especially for Emma, to address her particular challenges, and how to help others do that as well.
I gained strength to continue this journey, for myself and for Emma.
I gained the knowledge that contact with specific people can help me, and others I will avoid at all costs.
I learned that I am only alone in this journey if I chose to see it that way, that there are two groups of amazing parents out there rooting for me and cheering me on. These parents love Chris, Emma and I and understand the challenges we face.
I learned that each day is another opportunity to love what is happening, stay present and enjoy the ride.
Weeeeeee! Both hands up as I ride this rollercoaster!
A big heartfelt thank you to all who helped me get to New Frontiers….. Another life changing week…. Another opportunity to help Emma!
Adventure! What exactly is it, and how do you know if you are having one? I used to think the obvious: the no armed no legged guy that climbed Mount Everest on a skate board, the woman who single handedly saves 17 children with a toothpick… you get the idea. Then I would think about the people around me, real ones this time, who go rock climbing, kayaking, and surfing, people who go on missions trips and run soup kitchens. Now THOSE people are living an adventure! But what about me?
About two weeks ago, I started to look around and seeing lots of people living lots of “adventure”, and I started to wonder if I was missing out; if life was passing me by. I mean, my kayak is about to dry rot from lack of use, I gave my bike away, and I hate to admit it, living in the backyard of Acadia National Park, but I really am not into hiking. Soup kitchen? I can barely get Emma’s special foods cooked! So, couple that with my grey hair sprouting like weeds, and some serious cellulite on my legs, and I began to wonder if I HAD any adventure in my life.
But here is the thing: Adventure comes in lots of different forms, and actually, nothing is an adventure until each of us personally makes our experiences into an adventure. For the third grader I once taught who had no running water in his house, a trip to the bathroom at school WAS an adventure. Kayaking down rapids for the outdoor guide that does it everyday may not be all that exciting. Recovering a child from autism and other health issues might bored you to tears.
But to me, it’s the grand adventure of a lifetime. It’s a wild ride, where I learn to let go… and take control, I look inside myself and become all I can be. I learn about how to live in the healthiest way possible. I learn what a true friend is, and what I want my relationships to look like. I learn what’s really important to me. I learn to love more deeply and completely than I ever knew was possible, no strings attached. I learn all these things, in greater depth each time, over and over and over again. AMAZING, and the adventure of a life time!
So, I invite you to join me with prayers, good wishes, and even a donation or two, as I set off for another chapter in this adventure I am living. Next week I will travel back to The Autism Treatment Center of America for New Frontiers, the third and final class in the three class series that trains parents in the skills they needs to set up and sustain a Son-rise program for their child. I will be meeting up with other parents and professionals using this profoundly powerful program to transform children with Autism and other special needs. I’ll be sure to let you know how this chapter goes, and what amazing things I have learned.
So, enjoy your rock climbing, snowmobiling, kayaking, etc. Those are all amazing adventures, and someday I may partake. But today, I am living my adventure of a lifetime. And, why? Because I make it an adventure. And when I choose that, I create happiness in my heart, which in turn creates a power and energy unhappiness does not, and allows me to choose to love my life, my adventure, my world.
Do you love your adventure, whatever it may be?
It's funny how life provides you with lots and lots of learning opportunities. Sometimes, it doens't feel so funny. This past week has brought us the opportunity to say good-bye ( for now) to two family members, as they have "graduated", or as many people say, they passed away. One was my husband's dear, sweet "Nanny" and the other my Great Uncle Dan. Two people who will be sorely missed. We were able to attend Nanny's service, as it was right here in Bar Harbor, on a beautiful fall day, as well as to help with cleaning her apartment out and things of that sort. My Uncle, on the other hand, I will have "make do" with sending letters to his wife and son, as attending his service was not possible right now.
During this time of good-byes, I chose to go for an afternoon to the land of regret. I had a lot of it at first. I hadn't been able to do the things I might have liked to for both Nanny and Uncle Dan. Visits, frequent or infrequent, local or long distance, have not always been possible. For Nanny I did manage an occasional visit and cooked for her on a few occasions, stocking her freezer with homemade, easy to reheat, good food to nourish her.
Uncle Dan, well, not so much. He lives about 7 hours away. We were very close when I was in college and traveling back and forth from Ohio to Maine. I enjoyed he and his wife Louise so much, and love meeting his second wife at my wedding, a bit after Louise's death. We sent Christmas cards and generally stayed in communciation with each other. It was really great. Then Emma was born. I mean, do a really need to say more? He was out of sight, out of mind, and when he did come to mind, I didn't act. Even the Chrsitmas cards stopped.
So many balls in my life have been dropped in the name of caring for Emma. It's easy to have regret. No very helpful, but easy. You see, I pick the things I want to prioritize, and what I want to let go of. I did it then and I do it now. Many people don't acknowledge this fact but it's true. We are always doing what we want to do. Always. Would I have changed what I have done for the past 7 years? No way. Do I wistfully wish I could put another 12 hours in the day so I could have done more. Absolutely.
So what's a girl to do? Well, first off, leave the land of regret behind. Check. Second: do right now, what I want to do. Pen to paper I will write my dear Uncle's son, and wife, and I will tell them each of times I thought of my uncle, wanted to reach out, and why I didn't. To let them know that even if my letters didn't come, in my heart, I was there.
You see, parenting a child with special needs doesn't just happen when it's convient, and autism doesn't just "go on Holiday" when someone is sick or dying, or death hits your family. It's all the time. And the demands are more than you can imagine. Sometimes, balls get dropped. It happens.
Please know if I have dropped a ball with you, it's not for lack of love or trying. I love deeply, but not perfectly. And maybe, just maybe, that, in itself IS perfect.
Ellen is a counselor, educator and Biomedical and Son-Rise mom extraordinaire. She has many years of experience in public, private, "typical " and special needs educational settings, as well as extensive training as an Option Process® Mentor Counselor through The Option Institute in Sheffield, Massachusetts, sister organization of the Autism Treatment Center of America
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