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A Week Of Inspiration: What I’m Taking Away

7 Jan

As 2011 drew to a close, a gave myself a mission to start off 2012 on the right note. To do that, I would approach some women who I found to be inspirational, and I would ask them to post something on my blog that would send a positive message. It started off as a simple resolution for me to start the year in a positive way to get myself out of the funk I have been in. By the time I was scheduling the posts, it had become a project to help everyone: I realized that many people – including a couple of the writers – were in need of a dose of the good stuff that life has to offer.

This would be my small way of trying to make the world a better, happier place filled with possibilities and motivation.

I took something valuable away from all of the posts this week – things that I will take forward with me as I navigate my way through the jungle of life in 2012. For that, I want to give heartfelt thanks to all of my contributors.

I am battling with some personal demons right now, and it’s hard. There are days when I can barely see my way through to getting out of bed. Ultimately, though, I have support. I have my family, I have friends, and I am in good enough health to put on running shoes and pound the hell out of the pavement when I need relief from the stress. On Monday, Kerry White gave us a reminder on perspective. It does me good to remind myself that no matter how difficult things may be, I will muddle my way through it all, aided by the support system that I have around me.

A few minutes ago, my son George – autistic, eight years old, and very long and lanky – clambered into my lap for a hug and a cuddle. As I held this treasure in my arms, I reflected on the fact that special needs parenting is sometimes as hard as hell, but life without this amazing child is just unfathomable. Sara Morgan expressed this on Tuesday, when she said that yeah, we have kids with autism, but at least we have them.

How easy is it for us to just lie down and quit when we’re faced with a personal tragedy? On Wednesday, Phaedra Kennedy took us through her heartbreaking unsuccessful quest to have a baby, and her subsequent resolve to make 2011 the best year of her life. Not only does Phaedra’s tale inspire me to set goals for this year and really work towards them, I am honoured to have her mentoring me through my next stage of evolution as a runner.

Perhaps there is truth to the idea that the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can ultimately cause a storm on the other side of the world. In the same way, a handful of women blogging about motherhood can result in impoverished children receiving life-saving vaccinations, and fewer babies dying of pneumonia. On Thursday, Jennifer Burden told us about an idea that started small and morphed into something huge. Over the next year, I will endeavour to follow my dreams, no matter how silly they may seem. Who knows where they will take me?

There have been times in the past, when things have been rough, that I have succumbed to the temptation to just let myself go. I have asked myself what the point of it all is. If Margie Bryant had given in to that kind of negative self-talk, where would she be today? She survived addiction, a string of meaningless, emotionally empty relationships, and time in a federal prison. She kicked low self-esteem in the butt, and has turned her life around. She leads a life anyone could be proud of, and she’s found true love to boot. If she could make that kind of U-turn, surely I have it in me to control the direction of my own life.

My personal mission this year is to focus on taking care of myself. I am going to find some balance in my life and do more things that I want to do.

Will this take away the time and energy that I have always unquestioningly devoted to my husband and children? Or will doings things for myself inject me with more energy, and lead to a more enriched, satisfying life for all of us?

(Thank you again to Kerry, Sara, Phaedra, Jennifer and Margie. I am sure your tales of inspiration have touched the lives of many people reading this blog.)

 

 

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Autistic Is Better Than Dead: Guest Post by Sara Morgan

3 Jan

Two years ago, my husband’s cousin lost his 20-year-old son to cancer. At the funeral, I kept myself together reasonably well until I saw the friends of the deceased enter the church. I remember thinking that this – the loss of a friend – is not something that any college student should have to deal with. And later, in the cemetery, I saw the bereaved mother standing there bravely, clutching the teddy-bear her son had had as a child. The overriding thought in my mind as I watched a mother and father burying their child was, “Thank God all my child has is autism.”

Today’s post, from Sara Morgan, expresses the same sentiment. Sara and I have two things in common: we are both autism parents, and we are both moms of angel babies who never got to live. In this heartfelt post, Sara reminds us that where there is life, there is hope.

As a mom of a child with Autism ( and one Highly suspected of having Aspergers, but that’s it’s own rant) I seem to get a lot pity, or compassion, or…I’m not always sure what to call it…. thrown at me.Like I’m some sort of saint for not thowing my child in the dumpster because of his Autism. I’m not brave, or special really in any sort of way except that I’ve come to the conclusion that Autistic is better than Dead.

When people see me walking on the street they see me and my 3 children,Faith, Alexia & Gabriel. What they do not see is the 3 I carry in my heart. Angel, Devan & Jeremiah….who would have been Gabriel’s twin. Pregnancy loss has long been a taboo subject, and I have fought hard to keep thier memories alive…how they died doesn’t matter near as much as that they once LIVED. That they will continue to live on in our hearts and our memories, that I will share them with thier siblings, even Gabriel with his autism and his limited understanding will know someone was in there with you….and he has a name, and a place in this family as do all his siblings.

Autism can really be it’s own depresing journey, it has it’s own grieving process, just as losing a child does…..It has the ups, the downs. The times you just want to throw yourself on the floor right along with your child and scream “WHY ME?” At the end of the day I can hold myself together because in the long run, he’s still HERE……I can do Autism…..Autism is Better than DEAD any day of the week….we can work with this! Autism will always be a debilitating condition,My son will always stuggle….but there is nothing more debilitating…more final…than the death of your child, anything else has possibilities.

I have Grown so much since I started these journeys, both as a bereaved mother, and as an autism mom. Don’t look at me with pity, Heck don’t even look at me with pride because I’m doing exactly what anyone in my position would do….I’m picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together and move on the best I can…and that my friends is all any of us can do.

(Photo credit: Sara Morgan)

A Dose Of Happy For 2012

1 Jan

The calendar has clicked over into 2012. This is the day on which thousands of people are quitting smoking, going on diet, starting an exercise program, or finally starting to write that novel they’ve always been talking about. I myself will be participating in the 5km Resolution Run later on today.

Although I’m not really big on the idea of making major life changes just because of what day it happens to be, New Years Day is a convenient time for us to re-evaluate our goals, see where we’re at, and maybe give ourselves a bit of a kick-start. For some people, it may indeed mean starting over, like pressing the reset button on the back of a mobile device.

2011 was an eventful year for me. Despite a poor season of training, I had some success in my races. I worked hard on my writing, and in the last couple of months of the year, I finally started to find some traction in the writing community. And of course, there was my wedding in April – a fantastic event that included friends and family from far away. Having my mom there, and my brother to walk me down the aisle, made it all extra-special.

Despite the good stuff, I found myself sinking towards the end of the year. I have, for several weeks now, been dealing with depression. It is something that I have chosen not to write about, because it’s such a painful, private thing. But it is something that I should at least acknowledge, if only to let other people suffering from this problem know that they are not alone.

I have been reading these articles about how the simple act of laughing releases natural happy-drugs into your brain, how the biggest single predictor of happiness is the degree to which a person does good for their fellow man, and how being around proactive people can spur you on to action in your own life. In other words, positivity breeds positivity.

In that spirit, I decided that I would start off 2012 on a positive note in my blog. I would host some guest writers: inspirational women who have done amazing things. A couple of the women I approached told me that writing something positive might help lift them out of their own states of psychological disequilibrium. So much the better! This became a little project to raise everyone’s spirits – mine, my guest writers, and any readers who need a lift.

I am excited about this week. For the next five days, my blog is given over to some women who inspire me and remind me that anything is possible.

We lead off tomorrow with single mom Kerry White, who tells us that although things have been kind of turbulent for her, life isn’t all that bad. It’s a wonderful reminder about perspective.

On Tuesday, we will hear from Sara Morgan, an autism mom who has also experienced the trauma of pregnancy loss. She brings these two things together and reminds us that where  there’s life, there’s hope.

On Wednesday, Phaedra Kennedy (who has the distinction of being the first friend I had in Canada) tells us about how she rose above some deeply sad and traumatic events in her personal life to have a phenomenal season of running.

Thursday is given over to Jennifer Burden, whose idea for a group blog for moms has ballooned into an entire project for social good that includes the United Nations.

And on Friday, we hear from my friend Margie Bryant, who gives a whole new meaning to the idea of turning your life around. Margie describes how she made the transformation from someone with no hope into someone with huge possibilities for great things.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of these women for giving of themselves to contribute to my quest to start off the year on a positive note. I wish them all continued success in 2012.

And for everyone reading this, may 2012 be a year filled with love, peace and happiness, as well as just the right dose of adventure.