Tag Archives: postaday2011

2011 Run For Autism – The Countdown Begins

3 Jun

I’m feeling fantastic today!

Actually, that’s not strictly true. I was awake all night with a sick child, who at some point during the process very generously shared his bug with me, as a result of which I am bone-tired and tossing my cookies. So in reality, I feel really, really rough. I feel like a hedgehog that just got dragged backwards through the business end of a lawnmower.

But despite my less than stellar physical condition, I am feeling good about some things that have happened this week.

First, I resumed early morning running. I’ve been a little out of it for a while, and a lot of my running has been done on the treadmill. But two days ago, I dragged myself out of bed and went for a run before work. It was great. I felt the way I always do when go for early morning runs: alive, invigorated, positive about starting the day with an accomplishment. And since my route involves me running east over the Rouge Valley bridge, I get treated to the most spectacular sunrises. I mean, what’s not to love about all this?

Later that same day, I got a series of emails informing me that I am now officially registered for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. Which means that everything I do between now and then (everything running-related, anyway) is in preparation for that race. It is my annual Autism Run – the reason I got back into running two years ago. This will be my third year doing the run. In 2009, I finished in about 2 hours and 28 minutes. In 2010, I improved that time to 2:22:38, knocking more than six minutes off my time from the previous year. This year I want to do something even more spectacular, and break 2 hours.

That will be a tall order. Taking 22 minutes off a time over a distance of 13.1 miles? It’ll be tough. But that’s not going to stop me from trying.

The other thing this all means is that I am now officially fundraising, enlisting people to sponsor me for the run, trying to gather together as much money as I can that will all go towards providing services for children and youth with autism.

I cannot stress how important this is. George’s progress since diagnosis has been off the charts, but this is no accident. It has taken many hours of hard work, buckets of tears, patience, IBI therapy, parent training, information sessions, and advice. George would not be where he is today if it weren’t for the Geneva Centre for Autism, who have provided services and training and all kinds of other resources.

I cannot help but think that if George continues to get services that evolve with his needs as he grows up, the sky will be the limit for him. This child is so loaded with potential, but he does need help and support to realize it. If funding dries up, so does my child’s future.

So I spent some time yesterday setting up my fundraising page. I have set my initial target at $500, but I am really hoping to surpass that and raise the target. Preferably more than once.

My call to action is this: if you have the financial means, please consider sponsoring me for my run. If you cannot afford it (and I totally get  that – life ain’t easy for many people right now), then please spread awareness about autism. Help spread the word that people with autism are a valuable part of our society.

And if you circulate the link to my fundraising page, that will be an added bonus as well.

I am excited about getting this show off the road and doing the best I can for my George, which means doing the best I can for my family, and for the community of autism.

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The Beauty Of Autism

31 May

"Peep And The Big Wide World" by George

It was a beautiful moment. One of those moments that autism parents celebrate, that parents of neurotypical children completely fail to notice.

I got home after a long, hard day at work, feeling tired and cranky. As I trudged my way up the driveway, all I wanted to do was grab a glass of wine, collapse into a chair, and never get up again. I didn’t just feel lethargy. At that moment, I was lethargy.

I opened the front door and stepped into the house. Moments later, I heard a pair of feet thundering up the stairs from the basement, and a seven-year-old whirlwind launched itself at me, almost knocking me to my feet. After giving me a ferocious hug, George said, in his sweet sing-song voice, “Hi, Mommy!”

Without me saying hi to him first.

Without me or anyone else prompting him.

This was a social exchange that was initiated completely, 100%, by my child with autism – my child who has, as one of his biggest challenges, social communication difficulties.

Instantly, my energy was back and I was ready to laugh and play with my family, with this amazing child who always seems to give me surprises of wonder.

As a special needs mom, I find that my life is punctuated with moments like this. I remember firsts that I probably wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t have a child with autism.

Like the first time he pointed. What a joyous occasion that was, coming as it did after almost a full year of me teaching him how to point. I blubbed my eyes out that night, all over the Bob the Builder book that had been the vehicle for this accomplishment.

Then there was the first time he made a request using a full sentence. It didn’t matter to me that the sentence was only three words long. This child who said, “I want juice” was streets ahead of the child who, just a few months before, had indicated his need by grabbing my hand and thrusting it in the general direction of the juice boxes.

And what about the first time he pretend-played? It was a simple game that consisted of George crouching down on the ground, and crawling around with his back arched skyward while repeatedly saying, “Turtle.” So what if it was unsophisticated play that included only himself? He was pretending – something he had never done before.

More recently, we celebrated him drawing his first picture. He’d made lots of scribbly-type drawings in the past, of course (and I have kept every single one of them), but this was his first picture depicting an actual scene. That it was an instantly recognizable scene from his favourite kids’ show, Peep And The Big Wide World, makes it even more special.

We have seen the advent of humour, and this is all kinds of significant. Humour is a complicated intellectual process, and George gets it. And let me tell you, he is funny.

All of these moments, when strung together, tell a story of a very special little boy who is making a journey through life that is somewhat different to the way other kids do it. But the point is that he is making the journey and having all kinds of adventures. He may be taking the scenic route, but ultimately, he does pass through the same places that other kids do. He achieves many of the same things, but it takes a little longer and is accomplished in unconventional ways.

I believe that having a child with autism makes me a better parent than I would be otherwise.

It has given me the ability to spot a single flower in a sea of long grass, and more importantly, the power to stop and smell every single flower that I pass on this journey through my kids’ childhoods.

Moving On After A Disappointment

29 May

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. I got up and half-heartedly made breakfast for my family. I put on a cheerful enough face as we all ate together, but Gerard could tell that I was not quite my usual self. As we were drinking our coffee, he asked me what was wrong.

“I was supposed to be running a race today,” I said.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Today is the day I was supposed to line up at the start line of the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon, run a gruelling but satisfying race, and be doused with water by shirtless firefighters.

But because of life getting in the way of my training all season, I was not able to run today. Since the beginning of the year it’s been one thing after another. Weather so bad that I just couldn’t face outdoor training. Me being sick. James being in hospital. Me being sick again. Gerard being faced with ridiculous work deadlines and therefore being unavailable to watch the kids. Planning a wedding.

I have not, at any point, stopped running altogether, so I’m in reasonable enough shape. But still, considering how sporadic my running has been, attempting a half-marathon today would have been sheer lunacy. I would have risked illness or injury or both, and I would have stood a better-than-average chance of sidelining myself for the rest of the season.

But still. Knowing that I did the right thing in forfeiting this race does not make me feel any better about it. My Facebook page is full of statuses and pictures of people who did run the race, and I am – well, jealous. I feel as if I missed out by not being there.

At the same time, though, I cannot allow myself to dwell on this. Sure, I could mope around all day lamenting the fact that I missed a race I registered for months ago, and have been looking forward to for ages. I could tell myself that running at all today is out of the question because Gerard is at work and I have no-one to watch the kids.

Or I can put on my running clothes, pull out the treadmill, and as much as I hate treadmill running, get in the 10km that I want to do today.

I am going to choose the second one. I am going indulge in my guilty pleasure (a DVD of Friends episodes) while I clock up some miles on my lab-rat machine. The good thing about this: it’s a treadmill that has a slight built-in incline, so it replicates outdoor running fairly well. It’s a lot harder to run on than the treadmills at the gym.

Because I have a big goal this year: to break two hours in a half-marathon. And I want to do it in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon in October – my annual autism run. I want to break all kinds of records this year. I want to kick butt with my fundraising, and make lots of moolah to benefit people like my son – people who are loaded with potential that can be realized if the services are there. And I want smash last year’s time of 2:22:38.

It’ll be tough, but it’s never too late to start working towards it. I definitely won’t get there by sitting on my ass and feeling sorry for myself.

I do, however, stand a good chance of it if I start working towards my next race: a half-marathon in the Niagara region on July 18th. I’m not running this race with the intention of clocking up a specific time. I just want to gain the psychological advantage of having done a half-marathon this year: a practice run in preparation for the real thing.

So, this is my choice: I am going to write off today’s missed event as an unfortunate but necessary loss, and I am going to immediately start focusing on the race coming up.

I may have woken up feeling down this morning, but I am by no means out.

I am ready to pick myself up, dust myself off, and kick some serious ass.

Making A Living Out Of Dying

26 May

A week ago, my co-worker H lost her father. He had been sick with cancer for a long time, and seeing him go through so much pain had taken its toll on H and her family. His death, as one would expect, hit the family hard. I know perfectly well what it’s like, having been through this with my own Dad several years ago.

As if losing her father was not a huge enough thing to begin with, H has been dealing with the funeral home making it abundantly clear that him dying right before a long weekend was inconvenient to them. They didn’t come right out and say that, of course (that would have been insensitive – note the dripping sarcasm). No, they just showed the sentiment through their actions and their stonewalling.

H’s father was cremated in accordance with his wishes. Sounds easy enough, no? No. Because of that pesky long weekend, the funeral home couldn’t arrange the cremation until five days after the deceased passed away. Which, OK, I can kind get because lots of people aren’t around for long weekends. Just don’t be narky about it to the grieving family.

In the meantime, the cemetery have a policy whereby they refuse to begin preparing the plot until the ashes are in their possession. Again, OK. You don’t want a hole in the ground – even a little one that will contain an urn – and then be faced with delays.

The crematorium had promised the family that they would have the ashes on Tuesday evening. The plan was to get the ashes to the cemetery, who for reasons known only to them need two full days to dig a little hole for an urn, and then have the funeral on Friday.

Despite H making repeated phonecalls to a bunch of people, the funeral home only told H this morning that they had received the ashes from the crematorium. Which meant that the cemetery did not have the ashes. Which meant that they were not willing to dig that little hole in time for a funeral on Friday.

Which means that this grieving family have not only been waiting to say goodbye to their loved one, they have been getting royally jerked around while they’ve been waiting.

To add insult to injury, the funeral home admitted that they received the ashes yesterday morning and didn’t bother to tell the family. If they had, the funeral could have happened on Friday as planned.

While this has all been going on, the funeral home guy has been – to put it mildly – a condescending, arrogant, insensitive jackass.

I feel very angry on behalf of H and her family. I think it is disgusting that a grieving family can be treated this callously at such a sad time in their lives.

If you’re going to be in the business of death, at least be kind and sensitive, and mindful of the fact that your clients are vulnerable and grieving.

Time’s A Bitch, But I’m Gonna Beat It

25 May

I am having a battle with Time. This battle has been going on for a while, and I confess that for the most part, I have been letting Time win. I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to stand tall, square my shoulders, hoist up my big girl panties, and KICK TIME IN THE ASS!

I am tired of the following statements being rules of my life:
– I don’t have time to run.
– I don’t have time to write.
– I don’t have time to cook nutritious meals.
– I don’t have time to get enough sleep.
– I don’t have time to relax with my family.

Basically, all I have time to do is commute, work, commute again, and then do a different kind of work when I get home.

This is no way to live. And I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m going to take the time to sort out the logistics of my life, so that going forward, I can do the stuff that matters.

I’m going to systematically go through the stuff in my house and throw crap away so that I can have the physical space to be organized. (I’ve already made a start on that – this weekend I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and linen closet, and Freecycled three big garbage bags full of baby things).

I’m going to get all of my paperwork filed and up to date, and THEN I’m going to deal with things as they come in instead of waiting for a big fat pile of papers to be teetering over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (I’ve made a start on that too).

I’m going to prepare kids’ clothing and lunches for the following day, and get my own stuff ready as well, as soon as I get home from work. That way it will be over and done with, and I won’t be dashing around at eleven at night looking for the kids’ socks or trying to find an apple to slice up for a lunch box.

I’m going to go to bed at a reasonable time.

That way, I will be able to get up early to RUN.

I will have time to write, time to cook real food, time to live my life the way it should be lived.

And with all of the crap and clutter out of my way (physical and mental clutter), I will have time for the most important stuff of all. My husband and children.

So that’s the plan, and I am publicly declaring it here.

Now, wish me luck. I think I’ll need it!

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atportas/329630852)

For Some People It’s Not So Funny

24 May

It’s almost too easy to make fun of Harold Camping. For the second time the world has, with absolutely no fanfare whatsoever, failed to come to an end despite his predictions. He was so sure of it this time. He said that “there is no possibility that it will not happen.”

Now, I am one of the most Biblically illiterate people around. I know some basics, of course, having been educated in a girls-only Catholic school that’s short on life training and high on guilt training. The Bible story that I know best is the one where Jesus turns water into wine, but I have a vested interest in that one.

As vague about the Bible that I am, even I know that there’s some passage in there somewhere that says the Rapture will pretty much sneak up on us without warning, and that even Jesus doesn’t know when it will happen.

Why Harold Camping thinks he knows something that Jesus doesn’t is beyond me. But anyway.

Now he is saying that his date was off by five months, and that the Rapture will actually happen on October 21st, the date that was originally supposed to be the earth-turning-into-great-ball-of-fire date.

What’s he going to say come October 22nd? That he had the year wrong?

I confess that in the last week or so, I have made much mockery of all of this. On Saturday I posted a Facebook status update suggesting that everyone fail to answer their phones after 6:00 p.m., just to mess with their friends. I posted links to post-Rapture animal rescue services, and I shared Rapture-related jokes. I tweeted about what I planned to wear to the Rapture, and pondered the question of whether I would still be able to go on Facebook when it was all over.

Not that I expected to go anywhere. With all of my skepticism and mockery, if the Rapture ever does happen, the most I’ll see of God is his middle finger.

As easy as it is to poke fun, though, there is a serious side to all of this.

There are people who really and truly believed Harold Camping’s prophecy. Some of them based their entire belief systems on the idea that they would be taken to Heaven on Saturday. Some non-believers might be tempted to dismiss these people as stupid, but that’s hardly fair. I would venture to say that many of them were vulnerable, and got caught up at a time in their life when they really needed something to believe in.

Can you imagine their disappointment when nothing happened? It must have been crushing for a number of Camping’s followers. They are now in a position where they are having to re-evaluate everything they believed in, and in some cases, cope with the onset of depression and anxiety. I think it would be a fair bet to say that there will be a sharp rise in mental illness among Camping’s followers, and that is so, so sad.

What about the people who spent their life savings in the belief that they would need the money after May 21st? Some of them are retired, and they no longer have the nest eggs that they had spent years working hard to put together for their old age.

What about the pregnant lady who gave up medical school, and who now faces life as a new Mom with her chosen career thrown away?

Harold Camping and his prophecy have cost many people a lot – both financially and spiritually.

What of Harold Camping himself? Is he an arrogant opportunist who knowingly deceived his followers, or did he truly believe what he was preaching? Is he deserving of sympathy or criticism?

(Photo credit: Kelly Beall)

Time For Each Other

22 May

So, my post a day initiative has gone to goat shit lately. Sometimes life has this annoying habit of getting in the way of stuff we really want to do. Having said that, this evening me and my husband took some time to be together in a special way. He came home from work (yes, he was working on a Sunday due to a ridiculous deadline), and we had a picnic. Right in our front yard. We had nice fresh-baked bread, some cold cuts, cheese, and wine. And we spread out a blanket in the front yard, and sat there eating our food and drinking our wine. And just being together.

After a while, the kids migrated from the back yard to the front yard, and they joined our little picnic. James showed us some games that he tells us are virtually mandatory at picnics. Red Light, Green Light. Doggie, Doggie. Bug In The Rug. We played the games with him. It was lovely.

Sometimes we struggle to find time to just enjoy ourselves, either as a couple or as a family. But when we do, it is totally worth it.

Being married is awesome. Yes, we have lived together for ten years now, so in practical terms, nothing has changed. But somehow the depth of our love for each other is more pronounced. Looking at this man and being able to call myself his wife – that’s pretty darned special. I really and truly appreciate what I have in him. We have our moments of conflict, but that doesn’t matter. Because we have each other.

At our wedding, we had well over 1000 photos taken. Out of all of those, there is one that stands out. It stands out because it is a perfect reflection of the joy we felt that day. The joy we feel now about being married to each other.

Sometimes, life gets in the way of important stuff, like running, or writing, or spending time with loves ones.

But sometimes, the important stuff wins.