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!

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A Turning Point – The Primordial Awakening

Quick Note: While this story is about the power that comes with having a human life grow inside of you and the power of the birthing experience AND if you are not a woman or mother, don’t think this isn’t for you! If you are human then this is for you. As, most likely, at some point we all will deeply experience and connect with fear and pain. Think of whatever that moment was/is for YOU as you read this.

Author’s Note: At times I am intuitively moved to write in third person. This is one of those times. May you enjoy this “story” and may it ignite the primal within you.

A Turning Point – The Primordial Awakening

“It is a “journey without distance” because the journey is within our minds. We have never left our place on high. We are only dreaming otherwise.” ~ Lessons in Love by Brad Oliphant

September 14, 2001 was a turning point in her life. A time when she connected with an acceptance to feel fear and pain. This acceptance was a doorway that opened a primal portal to her awakening. She grabbed that opening and clung by a fingernail. This was the day she gave birth to her first born.

At the time she didn’t know this is what was happening for she had closed her heart years ago. She didn’t even know she had closed her heart.

She had been laying the foundation for this awakening since the night she could not sleep in 1998. The night that led to her deep hunger to learn about and come to know her self.

Layer upon layer of not being herself, of not speaking her thoughts for fear they would turn others away or cause her exclusion, agreeing with others without even thinking, taking on others likes and dislikes, years of “just handling” it, sucking it up, not speaking up when she had been taken advantage of ….. layers of fear, falseness, anxiety, comparison, worry that stretched back to childhood.

Each layer built upon the next in such a way that her true self was buried so deeply she could no longer remember her passions, source of joy, or unique talents. …. And this she did not realize either.

She lived in the illusion that all of life was outside of herself. All that mattered was without rather than within.

By outside appearances she was a successful, strong, and happy woman. She thought she was all of these too. She had gone to college, earned a paralegal degree, fallen in love, married, become pregnant, and worked successfully as a civil paralegal at the county prosecutor’s office.

There are no words to describe the magic and mystery of having another human growing inside of you. If one is open to it on some level, something shifts within a person during that time.  A doorway begins to open that fully opens at the time of giving birth.

She lived one of the most powerful experiences she had ever had up to that point in her life when she naturally birthed her first child, Lillian, and again 4 years later when she naturally birthed her second child, Thomas.

During her first pregnancy she read as many books as she could regarding natural child birth, including The Bradley Method. She even found herself reading books about chanting and childbirth (all the while thinking that this definitely was not her style and she would NOT be chanting during childbirth). She read how powerful an experience of natural child birth could be, and intuitively she knew she must have this experience.

On the day of delivery, with help and reminders from her husband, she focused on breathing through contractions. She visualized what was actually happening during each contraction as to not focus on the pain.

She decided to get into a warm, soothing, and relaxing tub of water. So relaxing, in fact, that the process began to speed. With each contraction she saw her belly roll, distort, change shape and intensely felt the pressure of baby making her way down the birth canal.

Each contraction brought a strange, heavy, earthy, out of body feeling to her. She had never felt anything like this before. Without any thought, she began deeply chanting the vowels with each contraction. Afterwards she had no idea where this had come from.

She continued to focus on her breath and visualizing her baby moving down the birth canal, feeling her move, and soon she could feel the baby’s head nearing the end of the birth canal. The nurse was beckoned and after only a few more contractions the daughter was about to enter our world.

The room quickly filled with nurses and doctors. Someone said to her, “Don’t push yet.” She said, “Are you crazy? My body says push and I’m pushing. Be ready.” With the next contraction, she instinctively pushed and the baby flew out so fast she nearly landed on the floor. She was still snuggled warmly inside the amniotic sac. Not yet ready to be here.

At this point something within her awoke and opened. A place of peace, beauty, joy, and love. Instinctively she knew she must not let it close. With that one fingernail she grabbed onto the portal.

Slowly and throughout the next 14 years, it would soon give way to a finger, then more fingers, then a hand ….. and eventually her heart emerged through the portal into a world of peaceful wholeheartedness and love.

The journey from one clinging fingernail to her whole heart was a long one full of judgment, feelings of superiority, feelings of inferiority, darkness, comparison, struggles, love, laughter, fun, and life lessons.

Immediately after and for at least 24 hours after the birth she lived in a euphoric, peaceful, joyful, love-filled world. A world in which she was a powerful creator who knew with full conviction and self-confidence that ANYTHING is possible. She had a similar experience with the birth of her second child.

Many times during the past 14 years she has called upon this experience when she needed a reminder of just how powerful she is … and that indeed, ANYTHING is possible.

Little did she know at the time; she had just birthed a being who would be one of her greatest teachers. And four years later, she was to birth another of her greatest teachers.

But, that’s another story …

Authors Note: It is fully understood that natural child birth is not for everyone due to medical reasons or simply personal choice.

And there are those whose path it was and is to not have children as part of their experience.

And there are those who wish passionately to conceive and cannot. My heart opens and wraps you in warm, nurturing love … you either have or will experience a deep moment that will serve as your own turning point.

This post is titled, A Turning Point, and not, The Turning Point, for these reasons. I don’t believe this is the only way to experience a turning point.

Any moment in time or an experience in which we embrace fear and pain in such a deep way can be the catalyst for this shift.

The Point:

Have you experienced your own moment in time in which you have deeply embraced fear and pain? Or do you sense it approaching?

Listen to yourself.
Listen within.
Do NOT discount inner urges.
Love yourself.
Release judgment of yourself.
Have compassion and empathy for yourself.

For if you EVER hope to love others, stop judging others, and have compassion and empathy for others; you must first do this for yourself. If not, you risk leading yourself down paths that take you further and further away from you true self.

The story behind how this blog post came to be is a story in and of itself. A story of listening, being aware, being in the present moment, and doing as I was guided to do. That will be shared in an upcoming blog post. xoxo

Blessings,

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

Did you know I wrote a book? It’s titled “D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance” and you can read more about it here.

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(This article includes an amazon affiliate link for the book Lessons in Love.)