G is for Gift

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

Each and every person on this Earth is unique, and holds a gift to share with the World . . . our true selves. This includes those in our society who have a handicap, disabilities, and those with special needs. Many of us keep our true selves buried deep within, as I did, for fear that we will be considered different and unaccepted. Some of us just need a little extra help in the form of guidance to nurture and grow our special gifts. Okay, maybe a lot of extra help! Everyone benefits when we let our differences and gifts radiate and glow.

Our differently-abled children simply process the world, information, and life, differently than we do; but they are in good company. There have been many throughout history who also processed differently; like Albert Einstein; Michelangelo; Thomas Edison; Amelia Earhart; and Steve Jobs, to name a few. They had amazing, life changing, life improving gifts, and were successful in spite of their label as freaks and kooks. Today the labels may have changed, but the thoughts still remain.

Lillian is a young lady who shines like no other, and has a beautiful inspiring energy about her. She and children like her teach us lessons about acceptance and change. This is one of their gifts. As an integral spoke in the wheel they can turn around societal and stereotypical views that they don’t have anything to offer; are a drain on our country’s resources; or views that they, and their family are unhappy and should be pitied.

Another one of Lillian’s gifts is showing us the benefits of embracing technological innovation, and the shift in the way we communicate. Technology can be life changing and life improving for some amongst us, and should be approached with an open mind. We no longer solely communicate with our mouths and voices as a society. A great majority of us use technology and social networking sites to stay connected, communicate, and conduct business.

On a beautiful summer day in 2009, I visited Lillian at school. Her class was at recess. As I stood chatting with Lillian’s teacher, I was scanning for Lillian among the sea of kids. My eyes landed on a petite young lady pulling a cart behind her. Yes, that was my Lillian, pulling a cart loaded with her DynaVox unit. Tears welled in my eyes, a lump formed in my throat, and my knees got weak. I thought, “There has to be something better.” I made a firm commitment to myself and to Lillian in that moment that I would find something more mobile and compact for her to use to communicate, something that did not make her stand out. I began monitoring the use of keywords and phrases like speech impaired, nonverbal, and AAC on Twitter and Google Alerts. Almost immediately I came across Twitter mentions of an application for the iPhone and iPod touch by the name of Proloquo2Go that had just been released four months earlier. Proloquo2Go is a communication solution with natural sounding text-to-speech voices for people who have difficulty speaking. I researched a bit more, went to the Apple store, and bought Lillian an iPhone. With Proloquo2Go installed, I gave it to her that day when I picked her up at the bus stop. A meeting with the school followed that same week to inform them she would no longer be using the DynaVox and would be using the iPhone instead. Lillian figured out the iPhone and Proloquo2Go within a week. This was technological innovation at its absolute best! Turning Views Foundation’s Gift-a-Voice Project was birthed from this experience (Learn more at www.TurningViewsFoundation.org).

Today, our communication methods have shifted and are literally evolving to include more of our society than ever before. When a mother of a speech impaired, or nonverbal child “hears” “I Love You” or “Mom” for the first time, it touches their heart like nothing else can. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices for one reason or another. This includes people who are nonverbal, speech impaired, autistic, hearing impaired or who have dysarthria, apraxia, or aphasia due to chromosome abnormalities, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, Cerebral Palsy, brain injury and many other conditions.

To fully grasp the impact technology has in your daily life, take note throughout your day just how often you communicate using technology via email, text or social networking sites. If you still conduct many of your conversations over the phone, or face to face, stop and think, “How would I be having this conversation if I did not have the use of my voice, or if I could not articulate what I’m trying to say?” There are options now that weren’t available years ago. One of Lillian’s gifts is using my voice to show how technological innovation is benefiting society.

Our children with special needs are not broken, and do not need to be fixed. When we use negative words like “problems”, “cannot”, and “deficits” to define disability it is difficult to see the positive gift our child possesses. Focusing on what our child cannot do, is a barrier to seeing their gifts. When we accept that it is their “normal” to have special needs; our eyes can be opened to see our child’s gift that probably has been right there all the time.

Some will continue to only view those differently-abled as having something wrong with them and being limited. These same people won’t take the time, nor would have the patience to connect with those who are differently-abled. Unfortunately, they miss the experience of being on the receiving end of a unique heartfelt gift, a gift that only those with patience and peace can receive.

Until we have moved past the guilt stage and are well on our way to acceptance of ourselves and our children, it will be impossible to see the gift in situations, and the gift of our children, with and without special needs. No matter what, guilt gives power to the wrong thoughts and is a barrier to acceptance. Even in our most painful lessons there are hidden gifts whether we see them as such or not. The process requires patience with ourselves and not forcing the process to get over the guilt and “why” questions quickly. Guilt is a stage we simply must make our way through. Rest assured, when you arrive on the other side of guilt, you will realize the gift you hold, the gift your child holds and the gifts revealed through situations.

Tip for the Journey:

Identify and embrace your child’s strengths, needs, interests, fears and motivators. Focus on your child’s strengths and be open to providing opportunities for them to express themselves and their thoughts. Remember; don’t discount qualities that you or others find odd, irritating, or annoying. That just may be the wrapping paper around the gift they hold. Provide opportunities for them to paint, play an instrument, make crafts, dance, practice yoga, swim, play sports, write and use their hands to create.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Latest “Special Needs Parenting” Articles:

Go here to subscribe to my blog to ensure you receive new posts delivered straight to your inbox! Right here!

Z is for Zigzag

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance”)

Conventional wisdom says “do it this way, this is the way it’s always been done.” I am the type of person who questions conventional wisdom. I pause to think about whether the way it’s always been done is really the right way for me and my family.

Conventional wisdom says that the best path for Lillian is to attend traditional public school to benefit from what she’s entitled to according to federal laws and what’s established in her IEP. Well, that worked for us through fourth grade, but it doesn’t work now. You see, I simply believe with all my being that this little lady will not follow any conventional route in her life, or in her career. I believe she will be self-employed, and I don’t believe she will reach her full potential staying in a traditional public school. Of course, I will accept whatever career path she chooses, but for now, I choose us to zag instead of zig.

I’m not saying that we should always zag when others zig. But, that we pay attention when something inside us is saying, “not so fast there, find a different way,” or “don’t keep doing that.” We may hear these messages, but dismiss them due to doubt, fear, or laziness. As these messages bounce around in our mind, we find that we have invited another person’s voice telling us we are crazy for thinking that way.

Happy and successful people didn’t get where they are today by making the same choices as the masses. If you take time to study them, you will find there’s something different in the way they think, their attitude, and how they make choices.

One of my kids made a statement once that we are poor. I explained that I don’t agree and here’s why. We may be broke at the moment, but we are not poor. I consider us to be rich because of our relationships with one another, our adventures, and the joy we experience. I believe there’s a fundamental difference between being poor and being broke. Poor vs. rich is all in how you look at it. Being broke is temporarily having no money. Being rich depends on how our attitude and thoughts perceive our reality. How do we measure “rich”?

It is most important to me that I try to not take myself so darn seriously. I fully understand that we have some serious situations to deal with, especially as parents of children with special needs. I’m not advocating that we ignore serious medical conditions. I’m only suggesting that we become aware of our attitudes and thoughts concerning serious matters. Do your best not to dwell in the past, or get stuck in the “why” questions. Accept the present moment for what it is. Really and truly listen to your gut. Listen even if you don’t understand why it’s pushing you in a certain direction.

The bold overriding theme of this entire book is the ability to accept ourselves, listen to our intuition, and live in the present moment. That’s why it is repeated throughout this book. I know I need to be continually reminded of this. I forget. Acceptance, courage, flexibility, and our view of life all comes back to how we think. Our emotions are an expression of our thoughts. Take it slow and have patience with yourself.

Tip for the Journey:

Awake each morning and realize with awe that you have been given a very special, unique gift. You have been given a precious gift of another full twenty four hours to make your own. Twenty-four hours to do with as you choose, to experience joy and happiness, and to share with those around you. I truly believe the more we share joy and happiness, the more it will spread. Every day you get another twenty four hours to work toward your dreams and goals, and another day to enjoy the heck out of while you’re on your journey. I like to refer to this as a Sunrise Gift and no two Sunrise Gifts are the same. You choose the nature of the gift and what you will do with it. Make the most of your Sunrise Gifts.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Latest Articles:

Go here to subscribe to my blog to ensure you receive new posts delivered straight to your inbox! Right here!

 

F is for Flexibility

(Excerpt from my book, “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” – published 2012)

Flexibility, fun and faith . . . that’s a trio I definitely want in my life!

There are times in our lives when fun does not fit in with what’s going on! It’s not possible to always have fun, or find the joy in every situation. However, it is possible to be at peace with the experiences life deals us. To be at peace is to be in a state of acceptance, and be present and attentive in the here and now. Once we have achieved the place of acceptance it is easier to see the joy, humor, and fun in the everyday happenings of life, and ultimately have faith.

With each passing day acceptance becomes easier. I am more attentive and present when Thomas and Lillian are talking to me. I am really listening to what they are saying. Sometimes, I must admit, it is just plain funny! One morning Thomas, Lillian and I had a conversation that each of them are actually aliens from Planet Mercury. They told me they are just here visiting and will have to go back home soon. We had a thirty minute conversation about their home planet. I told them I would miss them so very much when they go back home. They said they would miss me too. After breakfast they began packing for their return voyage back to Mercury. Not your typical Saturday morning breakfast, but we had tons of fun using our imaginations. I choose to stimulate their imaginations instead of discounting what they say. Being able to call upon their imagination is a skill I want them never to lose.

As often as possible, I attempt to create an adventure out of as many minutes, hours and days that I can. It may sound like a lot of work, but really, it doesn’t have to be. Adventure is what one makes it. If we remind ourselves to be flexible and think simplistically, it isn’t hard at all to create adventures. I find great fun in turning a simple task or event (something we are already doing), into an adventure.

Something as simple as going to the library can be made into an adventure by having a scavenger hunt for certain types of books. One day, I had Thomas and Lillian make a list of about five places or things they wanted to see, or find. We had a great time driving around all day to parks and stores finding the items on their lists. We didn’t buy anything, but I marked their success by taking a photo of them in front of the place, or with the item they found (you can see some in the photo gallery).

Being flexible decreases stress, and allows us opportunities to be creative. Flexibility also serves us in releasing our attachment to rigid expectations. When we choose to be flexible rather than rigid, it is much easier to accept change when situations do not turn out as we may have planned.

Flexibility is a characteristic that serves me well as a parent, definitely as a mom to a child with special needs, and in life in general. I am sorry to say that the old Camilla was not a very flexible person. Things had to be done my way, or someone was going to pay! I cringe when I think about how rigid, and inflexible I used to be.

The awakened Camilla has learned the wonderful quality of being flexible. To some, it may seem like indifference when I shrug my shoulders, or turn the other cheek, but through practice, I have learned to be okay with whatever happens.

F is for Fear

I could not let this chapter be complete without mentioning fear. Fear is something that every parent experiences. In fact, everyone has fears. Parents of children with special needs have an entirely different set of fears, and then some, compared to parents of kids who develop typically. Fear is one of the stages we move through when we first learn of our child’s diagnosis. These fears can get the better of us if we are not managing our thoughts in the present moment. For instance, we may take one little comment from a doctor, nurse, parent, or friend, and let our mind run away with it. We fabricate in our mind what the future would be like; what about the next time …next week…next year…from now to when our time here is over? I am not saying we shouldn’t make plans for our family’s future. Make those plans, get everything lined-up, and set in the best way for your child with special needs and their siblings. Just remember not to always play out future events (school, friends, sports, marriage etc.) in your mind.

Learning to have faith in myself, and the decisions I make has absolutely helped me along this journey. Even though I still experience moments, days, and even weeks, when my faith in myself gets weak, I never ever fully lose sight of it. Having a rock solid faith in ourselves, is the foundation for the journey we are traveling.

Tip for the Journey:

Learning to be flexible comes with patience and practice. Choose one situation a week to be flexible about. Then take it to one situation per day. Each morning when you wake up, say to yourself with love and joy, “I choose to be flexible today.”

Developing the habit of having consistent, strong faith in yourself and your choices will only come with time and practice. To battle being your own worst critic, put sticky notes on your mirror, in your purse, in your car, and wherever else you need them, with reminders that you are amazing, you are perfect the way you are, to have faith in yourself, trust your path and trust your intuition. Choose whatever phrases or quotes are meaningful to you and put those on the sticky notes also. It can be hard to keep faith in ourselves; but the more we practice being kind, the quicker we will pull ourselves out of those times when we lose the faith.

Heartfuly Inspired,
Camilla
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Latest “Mindful Living” Articles:

Go here to subscribe to my blog to ensure you receive new posts delivered straight to your inbox! Right here!

Emotions: Embrace the Emptiness

View During the Writing Exercise

The below is a brief glimpse of a moment in time was inspired by Eckert Tolle’s book, Stillness Speaks (amazon affiliate link) and the author’s participation in an experential outdoor workshop centered on connecting with one self.

The day had finally arrived. Her day of respite; a day to herself to do with as she pleased. She looked forward to these days with the anticipation of a child as her birthday approaches.

She is a single mom, raising two kids. One creative, artistic, writer child who is a 13 year old girl with a genetic abnormality and a wise old soul masquerading as a 9 year old boy who has a difficult time BEing still and whose intellectual abilities are at the level of a 13 or 14 year old. On this day of respite the kids were to have a sleepover with their grandparents.

On Saturday morning as they said their goodbyes and the van drove out of sight, she felt an emptiness engulf her like a dark stormy cloud darkens the brightest of days. With heavy legs and heart she slowly walked inside feeling lonely and sad.

Why was this? A day to herself was supposed to be a day to rejoice, enjoy freedom from responsibilities, and take pleasure in time alone. Could these feelings be arising because she is purging and packing? During this time of “purge and pack” she is re-discovering treasures of cards, drawings, and creations from her beloved children. And in the process she is reminded of the meaningful lessons and simple adventures she has enjoyed with them.

Perhaps she is mourning the death of each of those experiences and feeling the emptiness that envelops one when any life experience comes to an end. Perhaps she is also mourning the end of another chapter with her kids as they pack and prepare to move.

In moments of reflection and little messages received throughout the day, she realized that she had never let herself grieve over the cooling of friendships a couple of years ago. She had been reminded of those friendships the day before and the reminder scratched a wound that had never healed. Perhaps this was the exact moment to grieve for those friendships and that’s what she let herself do. For her, the lesson is to be with and accept the emptiness that feels so heavy.

For her, the way through the darkness is to feel it; really feel what it feels like in the body and breath it into her heart so that the darkness can be transformed into light, spaciousness, gratitude and joy for the experience having happened in the first place.

Now she understands. When feelings like this arise, she is to BE still, BE quiet, and experience it so that she can gift herself deep peace for she knows her true self is peace and love. Instead of resisting the feeling, she now chooses to welcome that dark stormy cloud for she knows that within the core of the stormy cloud is pure love and beauty.

BE still, BE quiet … and Let GO to LOVE … xoxo

Author’s Note: I was inspired to share this from a third person point of view. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, so hope you like it.

I decided to spend this day of respite at home watching movies as it would be a while before I would have “home” all to myself. I watched Miss Potter, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, and Magic of Belle Isle (amazon affiliate links) and ate hot buttered popcorn with raspberry lime sparkling water. It was heavenly!

During the triple feature a theme kept repeating of sharing information with others, writing, grieving, and friendship. The next morning, I still had the lonely, empty feeling. I picked up “Stillness Speaks” and said a little prayer that I turn to the exact page I needed at this moment. I opened to page 107; which states, “If you can learn to accept and even welcome the endings in your life, you may find that the feeling of emptiness that initially felt uncomfortable turns into a sense of inner spaciousness that is deeply peaceful.”

After reading the above passage, I realized that all 3 movies I had watched were about authors. Then on Sunday I attended a ConneXion workshop at which we did a writing exercise.

I began with these words – “Let go. Know that you don’t need to know the how before beginning. When self-confidence is lacking or you give in to fear, the consequences will be un-lovely. It is time to write more, share more, reveal more, reveal the real you, it matters not if what you write is fiction or non-fiction. And then I wrote the above.

I sat in a shaded area with a view of the mountain, closed my eyes, centered in my heart, and asked what to write ….

Latest “Mindful Living” Articles:

Heartfuly Inspired™,
Camilla xoxo
See It. Share It. BE IT … Spread Love Everywhere You Go!

Go here to subscribe to my blog to ensure you receive new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Pictures from the workshop:

 

Allowing the Gift of a Situation

Gallery

This gallery contains 3 photos.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.” -Lao Tzu Team TLC stands at the helm of a new adventure. Change is upon us. Anyone who has read my book, “D iz … Continue reading

D iz for Different – Best Seller

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” -Albert Schweitzer

The screen shot above is the Gratitude List from page 2 and 3 of “D iz for Different“. During the books Kindle debut from April 28, 2013 – April 30, 2013, the book had about 2,500 downloads and reached #1 Best Seller in Special Needs Parenting and #2 Best Seller in Self Help Motivational on Amazon.

I am overflowing with gratitude for everyone who helped make this happen. All involved donated their time and services to help make this book a reality and all of YOU have helped spread the word. I deeply thank all y’all for helping me live my purpose, share my story and help others to see things differently.

The book is not only for those parenting someone with special needs, it’s for anyone who is struggling with acceptance, needs to align with the courage within, and/or someone struggling to see the gift in a situation. Thanks from the depths of my soul y’all!  All my love. ♥

D iz for Different Kindle Release

 

FREE for the next three (3) days! 12:00 a.m. on Sunday, April 28, 2013 through midnight, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. Help me out y’all! Even if you never plan on reading “D iz for Different“, please take a minute to download it while it’s free! The more downloads the book receives the more exposure it will receive. Go here for the kindle version of “D iz for Different”.

Feel free to leave a comment here when you download or tag me on facebook! Also, feel free to share this post or the facebook event with your friends. If you comment here, tag me or post on my timeline that you downloaded the book during this 3 days, I’ll draw one person to receive an autographed paperback version of “D iz for Different“!

I’ll owe you a big hug when next we see one another!

(iPhone, iPad and Android users can get the ebook for free also by downloading the free Kindle app!)

30 Day Journey of Life: Non-Judgment

Non-Judgment

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

And so it is … I accept and realize that to become enlightened and enrich my own life I must stop searching, trying so hard, and waiting for some “thing” to happen. I must be that which I seek. I embarked on a Journey of Life just over 30 days ago. For at least the next year, I plan to dedicate myself to a different 30 Day Journey of Life at the beginning of every new 30 days.

The first 30 Day Journey of Life was Giving. The second 30 Day Journey began this past Tuesday … Non-Judgment. I like to think I’m pretty good about keeping my opinion to myself. And, yet, I deeply wish to take this further. I want to halt judgmental thoughts before they enter my mind. For me, this is a deeply ingrained habit. Having Thomas and Lillian in my life has already propelled me forward with acceptance, compassion and being non-judgmental. I would say there has been a 100% shift in this area for me since September 14, 2001 … the day my beautiful daughter was born. Having her handsome brother arrive on November 13, 2005 just added to the gift!

For the next 30 days I will fill my thoughts with “Today I shall judge nothing that occurs”. When my mind begins to wander or dwell, I will come back to this thought. Especially, if I begin to judge a situation, event or person.

I’ll write about this at the conclusion of the 30 Day Non-Judgment Journey.

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” – Paul Coelho

Do What You Really Want to Do

“The minute you begin to do what you really want to do, it’s really a different kind of life.” -Buckminster Fuller

Even if what you want to do seems like the silliest thing ever . . . I’m not talking about deep stuff here like what do I want to do with my life . . . Just simply going with your gut/intuition when being pulled towards an activity. Accept that there’s a reason . . . the reason will become clear if you simply trust yourself.

Last weekend I got the feeling, the urge that I wanted to go through boxes in my garage.  I kept thinking “I don’t have time for this right now, I’ve got to do this, that and the other before the two conferences I’ve got upcoming in July.” I could not get this thought to go away.  It’s as if there was something in those boxes pulling me out there and it was not gonna give up.  I decided I’d go out there and just go through a few.  Many of these boxes have been packed since moving to Reno in 2006 and my divorce in 2007.  Some not as long as that, just since we made our last move about 2 or 3 years ago.

This is exactly what I need to be doing right now. I’m still going through them . . . in fact, I’m headed out there after I get this written. I’m definitely getting rid of a ton of stuff – boxes and boxes . . . some in the garbage, some to Goodwill and some to a friend who just had a baby.

The simply amazing aspect of this is that I’m also finding little treasures and messages that are perfectly timed. If I had ignored my gut telling me to “Do this NOW”, I would not be discovering these treasures and messages.  I would not be processing and getting rid of some thorny little thoughts that still sneak their way back into my life.

Camilla’s Purge Palooza 2011 has shown me the path for something I’ve been stuck with for almost a year now.  All I’m saying is that the quote above, “Do what you really want to do . . . ” doesn’t have to be about figuring out the meaning of your life or something deep. Just simply going with your gut/intuition when you get the urge that you should be doing this, that or the other.  The reason will become crystal clear as you are doing it or shortly thereafter.

Here’s to trusting ourselves and going with our gut!

{Wanna share with your Facebook friends? Press here to share it with ‘em or press that little ole like button below if you are so inclined! Thanks!}

This article is now part of my inventory in Inspired Living.  

I enjoy taking the time to share information with y’all that I think is helpful and give you ideas to live an Inspired Life. So, if you feel this helped you in any way, toss a tip into the tip bowl on the way out of Inspired Living.

PayPal Tip Bowl

If you can’t afford to donate, please feel free to pass this article along to others who might get some help from it. Thank y’all to everyone who has donated and shared in the past. I don’t always get a chance to respond, and the donations, shares and comments are my indicators that what I share is helpful. Thank YOU!