Saturday, February 21, 2015

Glee and A True Young Marriage Success Story: Love Part 2 of 2 Post: The Wedding Episode

*This is a follow up post to part ONE here: which was written in September 2013. To gather some context I would recommend that post. For those who do not feel like reading the short post, the basic point of Part One was that I applauded Glee for supporting young marriage (and a double minority of gay, young marriage) and I sincerely hoped the writers would follow through on the promise of a young union despite the critics. Glee, once again delivered.
(Picture: My husband and I, 13 years married, at my brothers wedding. I was the maid of honour.)

True love of any kind should be celebrated. News feeds are proof enough that tragedy, bullies, critics, hate crimes and intolerance's are plenty. The main reason I have stuck with Glee through the crazy (the inconsistency could be frustrating but I shrugged this off because LIFE is inconsistent and the fact that they made fun of it themselves was enough for me) is because it was the ONE show on television, that despite the tough, crazy or uncomfortable subject matter at times the heart of the show was based in acceptance, unconditional love, and frivolous fun. Out of my favourite shows Glee was the one that could inspire incredible emotion. Songs have a way of touching the heart when conveying emotion, but it was the poignancy of the writers in unexpected moments that would catch my soul off guard. My spirit felt camaraderie to people I have never met. I felt united with people all over the world who were represented by the characters.

The struggle to belong, be validated in our short and precious journey of life, and be supported is a need we all feel, but minorities feel it more profoundly. Glee creators and writers had a way of filling this need through T.V. in unexpected moments to the hurting and misplaced that were willing to watch it simply for that hope...without criticism...who were willing to take what they could and leave what they couldn't. Despite what any critic have said, I really believe that there are not many places anywhere online or on T.V. that gave/give hope without having to show opposing graphic violence. Plus, what other show breaks out into song with heartfelt innocence?

There have been numerous weeks throughout the years where Glee was my one glimmer of light.  I have been lucky enough to have the support of my husband but otherwise, sometimes I felt completely alone. Despite the fact that it was just a show, I felt like there were people, who if they met me, WOULD support the life decisions that we had to fight for....young marriage being one.

*Spoiler alert: I am going to quote a few profoundly written lines from the latest episode "The Wedding" in the following section.*

Kurt and Blaine are speaking with his father Burt and mother Carole about their previous engagement plans. Kurt says,"And that would have been a beautiful day too but you know it just wasn't meant to be, you know... young and foolish."
Burt:,"Hey, maybe you two guys weren't meant to be but it's like young and foolish? Come on, are any of us ever really ready for anything? You know, I wasn't ready to lose your mom."
Carole, "And because of that we haven't wasted one day since we met."
Burt, "That's right. It has been a crazy adventure ever since."
Carole, "It has. You're gonna make mistakes and that's OK. I've made so many."
Burt, "Are you saying I'm one?"
Carole, "No you are not one. You are one of the good things but you just have to take every second of every day and squeeze it as tight as you can. Just wring every last bit out of it. Finn taught me that."

As I mentioned in Part One, my husband and I knew at 17 that we were soul mates. It made no logical sense for us to wait until school was over or we were older, just for the sake of age, yet that is what people continually told us to do. Our support, which we needed desperately, was either pulled from under us, bossed and demanded from us, or hard-won. It was rare to have anyone with enough logic to see the love that we had and accept that even if it was a mistake, it was worth supporting love. Those who DID actually give support have stayed as a fixture in our lives and we deeply appreciate that accepting love.

We did not want to waste a day. We were not being harmful to ourselves or abusive, yet we were treated like criminals at times because we were (and never have been) traditional, conservative, or followed society's protocols. My eyes teared up at the above conversation because it was one I never had... and really wished for. I just wanted someone to say, "Are any of us really ready for anything? Go and fight for your love." As I mentioned in this post, "Marital success and wise life choices depend on the situation, but regardless, young love could use a little more support. Maybe if couples had more support and successful portrayals of the good and the bad, there would not be as high of a break up rate? Maybe, just maybe, those stats are a little misused? Marriages break up often, regardless of age. It depends on LIFE, on circumstances, on support, on personality, on communication and dedication. Thank you GLEE for once again fighting for the underdog. Finally, I got to see my life choices promoted in a positive way." 

I hope, if circumstances happen to others like when I was young that I give Walter's following advice to my children or anyone who is in love.
Walter: "I'm jealous. I mean you are right at the beginning of it all...You're lucky Kurt, Go be lucky and whatever happens, even if you get hurt again, just remember, the only thing worth doing is going toward love don't waste time double guessing and don't waste time behaving yourself. You gotta run, you gotta jump, you gotta grab it while it's right in front of you and whatever you do- don't let go."

My husband and I believe that we SHOULD grab life when we can. Love is something worth running towards. We have often felt like Santanna when she told Brittany that the rules do not apply, they never have, and we often make our own luck. Humanity has always been scared of that which is different. But there are a few enlightened or brave people who come around and who either change their minds over time, or dare to think outside the box to see that we are not causing harm but embracing LIFE and LOVE. Even if they do not agree, they can still CHOOSE to be supportive.

There was a conversation in The Wedding episode between Santanna and her Abuela which induced a few tears on my part. (A brief context: Abuela/ grandmother was Santanna's best support system until Santanna came out and she disowned her. Despite attempts to reconnect, her grandmother refused to attend the wedding based on her beliefs. It crushed Santanna yet she was strong enough to choose her new love Brittany over her grandmother even though it broke her heart.) In the end Sue brings Abuela to the wedding and this is the conversation:

Santanna's Abuela, "I was wrong. I'm not saying I agree with every decision you make. I still don't believe it's right for two women to get married but I do believe that family is the most important thing in the world, and I love you Santanna. I don't want to be the person in your life that causes you pain, and I don't want to miss a day that I have been dreaming of my whole life or the birth of your kids or any other important days."
Santanna: "I don't agree with everything you believe either. I just want my Abuela back. I've missed you."
Abuela: "I've missed you too."

The beauty of friendship, family and support is not in agreeing. It's being able to be present and be supportive even if there isn't agreement. It's being the people who do not want to CAUSE the pain because we all get enough involuntary pain through life. Life IS pain. Family and support do not need to dish it out because our fair share will come around. I deeply admire my mother in law, because despite the many obstacles we have had to overcome in our relationship, we both learned how to respect each other even if our stances on life are opposing in just about every area. There has been misunderstanding but instead of being the last straw, we both respectfully stepped back and re tried again with more explanations and understanding to omit subjects that would be explosive. Though some family members made big issues out of little moments or beautiful moments were ruined from their continual phone calls of judgement, my mother in law's deep love for her youngest son would always trump her stances. I saw that and it was enough for me. There has been hurt from her and from me but because of our mutual love for her son...she is the one person in the family I deeply love and respect. In our conservative community anything different is often disowned or tolerated in the hope that the person will come back to the fold of the majority consensus. One of our friends was  engaged to his best guy friend. When he bravely faced his family before Christmas, they had him come him only to be disowned Christmas morning with bible verses read to him as he walked out the door. Perhaps this is seen, from their perspective, of standing up bravely for their faith, but to me, I see weakness and an inability to be able to love differently despite the fact that faith may differ.

Burt (officiating): "I want to thank you guys for being so brave and so honest and for standing up here and showing all of us that love and marriage is so much bigger than we thought it could be and also so much simpler. Love and marriage is when two people say to one another I love you because I love you, and I know this is gonna be one heck of a ride and I don't want to do it unless I am doing it with you."

(Vows) Kurt: "Blaine I'm a man whose always lived in the shadows and every one whose has come into my life has always tried to pull me out into the sun or push me back into the darkness."
Santanna, "I have been bullied, outed and misunderstood."
Blaine, "I honestly thought that I would never find real love."
Brittany, "The world seemed so scary and confusing- it was just too fast- it made me feel dumb just because my brain worked differently."

At this point of the show, during the magnificently written vows, tears are leaking down my face. I also often felt dumb because my brain worked differently. Finding someone to love me FOR that, and having almost everyone tell him that he was making a mistake, or that I was too sickly or too odd, was completely devastating. Especially on what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. Like the old cliche the car was waiting "just in case." In every big event of our lives thus far, I have had to continually tell myself that I AM enough. Deciding that any person is not enough based on sickness or differences is a form of prejudice.

Kurt continues to address Blaine in his vows as Brittany and Santanna also give their vows.
Kurt: "And then you came along and even if someone had told me that it wasn't gonna work out and at the end of all of our struggling and all of our work it would just end in heartache..."
Blaine, "I would have said yes."
Santanna, "A thousand times yes."
Brittany, "I would have suffered it all just for the chance to be standing up here marrying you."

I would STILL say yes to my husband despite our fair share of heartache. Even if it ends bitterly because the moments I HAVE had, have been worth anything else life throws at me. I have never been loved so completely by anyone. While my parents loved me, they did not completely understand my autistic brain and open minded view points the way my husband does. He has held up a mirror and I have seen my value. I also believe I have done the same for him.

Santanna and Brittany, and Kurt and Blaine close off their vows expressing, "I'm a work in progress." (I thought this was a particularly beautifully written statement by the writers. )

My husband and I will always be a work in progress. We are fine with that and those who support us are too. A quote I came across said, "You can not change the people around you but you can change the people you choose to be around." I have learned how to choose those who celebrate and not just tolerate or condemn based on their beliefs. We try to choose wisely. Sometimes we need to kindly distance from those who do not support. A close circle of supporters does not need judgement. Enough people in the world will take up the cause of judgement, hate and opposition. True friends/family (which can be blood related or not) do not need to be one of the main oppositions.  I know I am lucky to have my husband and the few treasured friends we DO have despite some differences, LOVE regardless. Our built in family provides advice without attachment to outcome, and show up if we ask them to without their judgments accompanying them.

My husband has never pushed me when I have not been ready nor has he regarded my shadows as wrong. Instead my darkness has been viewed as part of my light. Any shadows that have bothered me he has bravely helped me fight. Together, we are stronger than apart, and our soul bond delivers. This fact, gives me hope for the greater world we ALL create it Viewer/Fan, Creator, Writer, Actor, Activist, or simply person of BEING. I believe we all are unique and deserve respect on the same level. Together, in love and acceptance, we CAN help shape the world into a better place from our own platforms of living and being. Thank you Glee for being part of my personal platform of contribution and delightful witness.

As Kurt eloquently expressed to Blaine at the end of his vows, "You don't ask me to come out of the shadows you help rip out anything that is blocking the sun, it's time for all of us to walk out into the sun together. Is that something you want to do together?"

I do.

Song Choice: "At Last" by Etta James. This song happened to be on the episode last night which is serendipitous because it is my husband's ringtone for two reasons...
1.) Even though we were married young it felt like I had waited for someone to love me like he did and really SEE me from birth. At last... he did.
2.) He is ALWAYS late because his is an ENFP (click) and chats it up to anyone in his path. When he FINALLY calls me to tell me where he is or that he will be running late, my sentiment is "at last!"so it is with both humour and romance that when I hear the first swell of the music my heart skips a beat and I smile EVERY time (even if I am annoyed which helps diffuse the situation. Who can be mad when this song is playing?!) With my Soulmate at last my lonely days are over. With Philip every day has a moment where life really is like a song.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dyspraxia: The Struggle of An Adult with Dyspraxia

Post Addition: I want to clarify that I celebrate ANY difference including Dyspraxia. It does not make one flawed or wrong or less. However, there are some symptoms that create definite challenges in the current culture we live in especially...and daily life in general. I wanted to shed light on some of those issues to create understanding...NOT to get sympathy nor to disabuse those who have Dyspraxia (including myself) but to provide a sense of community to those who may struggle within their beauty.

*This is mostly addressing Dyspraxia in an adult. I feel with my son that Dysrpaxia in children can sometimes feel like a completely different issue. He has more communication difficulties and has to depend on adults to help him. While I do suffer from speech slurs, mixing up words and stumbling over my points, I CAN communicate my needs.Writing takes multiple drafts to catch all my mistakes but I DO end up getting my point across with people who understand which really helps being Dyspraxic in my case even if I am severe in many symptoms. I also am quite adapt at looking capable which confuses people.*

Many people and even professionals look at me like I am speaking a foreign language when I bring up "Dyspraxia." Dyspraxia is a disability that mainly affects motor skills but can also bring on a bunch of other difficulties. It can overlap with Executive Functioning issues, however many people can struggle with Executive Functioning yet not have Dyspraxia. For a full list of adult symptoms this is the best website: 

Dyspraxia can often accompany Autism or Dyslexia but just like there are so many variations of different diagnosis, there are so many ways Dyspraxia can present. Many people who have Autism do NOT have Dyspraxia and many people who have Dyspraxia DO NOT have Autism. 

I can appreciate Autism and the beautiful ways it makes my brain work. I can look at Dyslexia and truly believe it helps me see the world in unique ways. I attribute my amazing capability to multitask in thought and deed plus a host of other great things to ADD and while each of these things (Autism, ADD, Dyspraxia) come with hardships, they each have Neurodiverse traits worth celebrating! (See Autism Labels on the side) Yet, I have not been able to find many positives to living with Dyspraxia besides having an understanding of others who struggle which I already had from my other differences. I do believe it DOES contribute to a differing perspective on life and I celebrate the Dyspraxic's unique wiring as well, but some of the symptoms can be challenging.

I recently checked out the Dyspraxia in Adults checklist to see if any of my symptoms have lessened. To my chagrin they have become worse. I can check off every point of the first 7 headings which is extremely depressing. I have a more severe case compared to the few I know who have Dyspraxia. Sometimes I wonder if it also can come hand in hand with Fibromyalgia? Regardless, both seem a tad extreme to have together.

When I was a child I was the last to be chosen for sports teams, gym class, recess, band class and even some artistic pursuits that required movement. I knew it was not because I was disliked but because I was horrid at any type of performance. Knowing did not take the sting out of best friends overlooking me because they wanted to be the best. I was an obstacle in their achievement and not a friend during competitive moments. As we grew, they picked me more out of friendship or maturity, but sometimes I wished I could opt out to save them the trouble. Teachers were harsh when they worked extra hard yet I showed no improvements. I was branded clumsy. I found it ironic that as a Christian Private School, competitive sports and music were the main values of students and teachers and that moral "fruits of the spirit" were judged according to outward acts and performance. Luckily, I was deemed intelligent in other educational spheres (I could write because that is how I had to adapt to communicate my thoughts) so I was not branded lazy, but they required more than they should have. Many times I would come home to crash on my bed, unable to move because my brain was completely unable to keep my body upright any longer.

I mistakenly thought that I would magically grow out of these issues. I had hoped that one day I would wake up as an adult and have that super power that most adults seemed to have: Capability. Instead of getting better, I became worse. When my kids were born I was expected to take care of more than myself. It's a wonder how I survived the early child rearing years not knowing any of the diagnostic criteria I know now. I was depressed. I never seemed to "get" the cooking and cleaning rules or movements. As time passed I found the judgement or "helpful hints" more and more frustrating. I had tried it all over and over. Practice, in my case, did not make perfect. In some circumstances, practice did help me to achieve minimal results, but it never made me exceptional nor consistent. Sometimes I could tie a shoe, other days I would kick my choice of footwear out of the way in extreme frustration and wear flip flops because ten minutes of attempts did not get me my usual results. Somehow, I made it through, and found the years after age six much easier...and homeschooling helped ease all the issues I would have had to deal with on a daily basis. My kids and I are way healthier in our home, doing what needs to be done, and not conforming to society's expectations. This came with a cost. A cost I would pay over again and do pay from time to time in other's opinions or society's expectations.

The toughest part for me was feeding myself. Most people are expected to make simple meals in adulthood. Even toast was (is) a problem for me and all the decisions that go into purchasing, choosing and prepping food was too much. Over the years I have suffered multiple burns, cuts, dangerous fires, accidentally caused food poisoning and contamination, have had laughable accidents, and broken many appliances, dishes and even have BENT (yes bent!) a knife. I can not understand pressure, too much or too little, and often I forgot to wear oven mitts even if they were plainly in sight. I grated my fingers many times. Not just grazed but took off chunks. One time a knife flopped out of my hands and just missed my kid. In the end, it was safer to stop attempting any sort of meal prep. As, I have mentioned in other posts, I was lucky enough that my husband finally (after years of struggle) took over all meals and grocery shopping. The kids and I eat greek yugort and granola for breakfast every day to keep it manageable. With the help of our therapist, my husband's work schedule is different so that he could have an hour to cook lunch and be home early to cook supper. We are lucky enough to be in a position of work right now to do this but it came with it's own sacrifices and hard work (yet being perceived as lazy or not working hard.) He also helps a lot more than most fathers at home (plus home renos!) because all three of our children have special needs in differing areas - most unseen and not understood by our community- so thus we have had to learn how to live on a lesser wage because his time keeps myself, the kids and himself healthy and sane. We end up giving back more to society by seeming like we do less because we are healthy and whole.

 Luckily, my husband has ADD so he can sort of understand our brains because he is also Neurodiverse. He gets sensory overload because he has it minimally, so he can at least empathize more than most. He is creative and also thinks outside the box. He enjoys cooking on most days. He blasts his podcasts and gets creative. I felt guilty for a long time in regards to the cooking but since I do all the clean up after him, counsel our family, creatively think outside the box and organize the budget/ pay bills and many other difficult tasks that I can still somewhat manage- we have found our balance. It took a lot to get us to this point...especially in a conservative town that values traditional gender roles and the biblical version of the Proverbs 31 woman. To say we have run into sneers, jealousy, bitterness at our personal choices/ arrangement, and annoyance would be an understatement.

 It was embarrassing to go to the In Laws for supper and not be able to offer meal prep help or even sometimes clean up. It had nothing to do with being unwilling to help out but everything to do with being unwilling to hurt myself, others or dishes. What do you do when people define help as purely physical? How do you contribute to a family function when there is that miscommunication? And what happens when you also suffer from social anxiety so thus do not even seem to contribute with wit or glamour? It's easy when I feel comfortable enough with dear friends or family or when I am in my own home where I know the pitfalls and can control my environment. My awkwardness and blunt mixed up phrases bring comfortable laughter or respectful camaraderie with those who truly love. In places where I was often misunderstood, I would typically find myself playing with the kids when they were under toddler age or conveniently caught up in a conversation when it came to help out physically to avoid mishaps. That fact shows how much I LOATHE physical performance because being Autistic, I do not love empty social chit chat either (I do LOVE deep philosophical conversations!) but I would take that over many physical activities.

I am thankful for those who tried to help. Unfortunately, the help never put me too far ahead and I think that fact bothered many. People like to see fruits of their labour when they offer help. The only part of the kitchen I can master, from time to time in my life, is baking. Baking seems different from cooking and if my husband or someone else is around to take the goods out of the oven, I do not need the use of knives.  I have broken two sets of beaters and both times it was loud and scary. Some years I do better at baking and some years I completely lose the skill only to regain it at a future date. I can't predict when I will succeed and when I will fail. To outsiders this is confusing and looks like I am making up excuses but the literature on Dyspraxia explains the fact that some days (even years) we can suddenly perform a skill for awhile until we can not. There are some skills that never will happen, even with practice (cooking and driving outside my limits are mine) and they vary from person to person. With Dyspraxia I have had to find unusual ways of doing normal tasks in order to be safe. 

We do not own any poisonous chemicals because of toxicity and health, but also because I easily mixed up unassociated bottles even while telling my brain what was needed. I have to go out of my way each day to make sure the stairs have nothing on them, that the rugs are completely secured, that my knives in the dishwasher are pointing down in the ONE container they are supposed to be in. Knives are NEVER thrown in the sink because it is a guarantee they will find my hand.

I can not clean up broken dishes. I have to call my husband or daughter. Because each time I do, I misjudge the pressure or distance of the object and slice open myself. Many people would think the daily habits I have to get through the day are due to OCD but they are just vigilant behaviours to keep me or those around me uninjured and alive.

There are moments I am occupied with something I love, like decorating, and am generally really good at, but if I have had an overwhelming day in any other regard (sleep depravity, social appointments, menstruation, being hungry ect.) suddenly my skills can seem obsolete. My husband heard me mumbling with frustration because I was decorating a mirror and the greenery I was putting around it fell down six times before I got it right. It would have taken him ONE try but typically, if it's something I enjoy, I prefer to work at it till I get it myself. It does bother me though that a simple task can be so frustrating and my body is uncooperative. Unfortunately, there are days where I reach my limit and give up completely. Sometimes giving up is the bravest decision and it takes strength to know our limits and listen to our body.

My son has Autism but he does not have Dyspraxia (he has other additional diagnosis.) He is capable of riding a bike or moving the dishes without breaking one. I look at his ten year old self or my daughter's eleven year old capabilities and sometimes I feel inferior in the physical realm. My youngest is Dyspraxic like me and I understand the frustration of working with someone who can not grasp simple tasks. Yet I know his frustration is double at himself more than anyone could feel towards him. It is continually frustrating to not be able to perform daily activities. Most Dyspraxic adults are highly individual. We like our independence. We crave being able to do what we want to do. It can be absolutely humiliating to ask for help day after day with tasks that can seem so simple. It's also annoying when people hear about our struggles and decide to stay away because they are afraid we will misuse their help.

We will mostly underutilize help because sometimes "help" makes our issues worse. We compromise certain movements or do them in unusual ways which sometimes can require privacy. Help means putting all these issues into the spotlight. My grandmother sometimes comes to randomly help me with my house. While I appreciate the gesture, this also requires ME to clean alongside her normally. In the end, I become more exhausted than doing it in my own unusual way. It also means the next day I will probably have more executive functioning fails than usual. I don't mind if she takes my keys while I am gone for the day and scrubs up my sink to her liking (if that makes her happy) but I do not want her to expect me to keep it up to that standard or for her to measure my cleanliness by my abilities.

This fact also plays into hygiene. Since I have been a teenager the Dentist always tell me that I am either over brushing or under brushing. They show me every time how to apply the right pressure, and I go home and have no idea if I am applying the needed movement for perfect teeth. Showering and shaving can be dangerous. I have a certain routine I must perform to keep injuries to a minimum and often I still end up with lots of cuts and bruises on my legs. I am always full of bruises from daily life.

Each time I go to physiotherapy, my therapist has to point her hands to the direction she wants me to go because it will take me too long to figure out right from left. She also has mentioned multiple times that I am TOO flexible and double jointed but one would never know because my muscles are so weak I can barely perform any actions. This double jointed flexibility causes me to over reach or underestimate a movement. I do not drive beyond my home streets unless it is an emergency and by the end of it I will be a nervous wreck from having to be hyper aware of all the movements that go into driving a car that other people simply go on autopilot for. I am constantly bumping into people, spilling things, and have never been able to ride a bike, throw a ball to someone accurately, or dance. I LOVE the concept of dancing. I used to long to be able to move like a dancer. I will dance in my living room but often it ends in tears from either bruises or awkwardness. The only time I can dance is when my husband takes me in his arms, allows me to step on his toes, and leads me around buffering me from any couch edges or inconvenient walls. Walls look so far away to me but yet are right there... I have walked into our walls many times.

I could give many more examples of daily living fails. If you want to understand someone with severe Dyspraxia, mindfully be aware of each task you do in your day...including breathing and walking...and think of how it must feel to consistently mess it up or have to be aware EVERY day of possible injury. My eldest two children and my husband surpass me in most daily movement activities. They have to make up for my lack of balance, muscle control or ability. This fact is DEVASTATING.

 I will try to achieve what I can. I contribute to the health of our family in many emotional and intellectual ways that it balances out but my ways are more unseen. It is sometimes a vulnerable position to be unseen yet be enough an of an anomaly to draw attention. In an achievement world, it is hard to not be able to show most achievements. In my world daily activities ARE achievements. I get giddy when I actually throw a ball into the net or when I suddenly am able to do a dance move. Those moments are very rare for me and when they happen I am delighted. I can not get disability even though I would not be able to work due to Dyspraxia (and other differences I have and anxieties) because it is not recognized as the extreme disability it can be.

Dyspraxia sometimes feels like the bane of my existence. About twice a year I break down over all of the fails and daily challenges. I sob and beg the powers that be to take Dyspraxia away from me. It seems dramatic but an unseen disability is just as traumatic as a seen one. Especially a disability that can take independence away or that has at least a few moments each day that are hard to cope with. I may have a list of "Can'ts" but I also have a list of spiritual enlightenments and aha moments many people will not master in their lifetime. Each difference comes with some good and bad.

One positive fact of living with severe dyspraxia is not defining myself by achievements. Because if I did, that would mean on most days I am worthless. I do not believe I am worthless, however, I have had moments when my self esteem is incredibly low because my eleven year old knew what to do and how to perform a task better than I did. In the privacy of our home it can sting a little but out in public it looks neglectful. I have had to learn that it is ok to look like what I am not. I have had to believe confidently in my worth and my actions despite how I may come across. I have had to fight for myself, my moments and my safety.

My biggest fear, when the kids were little, was that someone would find out how hard life was for me and would deem me as an unfit parent. I never really talked about my struggles in these areas. Now that the kids are older and I have the power of my therapist, best friend, husband and small community I have built for myself, I know that my kids would not be taken away without a fight of support. I know people see I AM capable. In fact, often people see me as more capable than I actually feel I am. Because I am hyper vigilant they think I am the best babysitter safety wise (probably I am in some cases but it is EXHAUSTING) or a very put together person because of my confidence and ability to mask for short periods (or at least get through things with different strategies.) I do believe in myself strongly and my gifts but that does not negate the struggles.

This story is the one people misunderstand the most. It is the part of my life I am most wary about sharing. The only reason I am putting it out there is because it hurts. Some days it completely lays me bare with gut wrenching grief at some of my limits. I know that perhaps someone else will be hurting too...and maybe they can find this post and know they are not alone. I don't have answers for living with Dyspraxia but I do know that it is important to leave the tasks that can not be done to others, and find alternative ways of doing things that work the best for you personally. It's important to find a way to live outside the box of society yet still contribute in some way! Most of all, I hope that anyone who suffers from severe disability can look at themselves, despite the suffering and see worth. Even if it is not severe Dyspraxia or disability your struggle is STILL legitimate. In anything, there are good days and bad days. Celebrate the good, get through the bad any way you possibly can and give yourself grace. It's easy to feel alone in these invisible struggles (thus my song choice), but you are not alone. I need to remind myself of that fact often, and perhaps this can also be a reminder to you.

*I found an incredible lack of pins on Pinterest for Dyspraxia so I created my own which can be found here with the written quote underneath:
I would also recommend my 'Quotes I Believe In' board to inspire you on your life path OR if you are an INFJ/INFP that board also has some encouraging pins:)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Confessions of an Unschooling Mother; Links on Education, Rethinking Traditional Methods of Learning to Read and Write

**If you read the first linked article you would see this is an example of age 4/5 proprioception...because it is drawn by a 71/2 year old boy who had constant fluid in his ear and infections up until age 5 (and the need to be in the Children's Hospital) as well as extreme visual problems we did not know about until age 3- it makes sense that his brain body awareness (and management for handling instructions ect.) is at a current age 4/5 level.  He also has multiple diagnosis including Dyspraxia, HOWEVER, he has an incredible mind that knows more information on the species and types of animals and inventions than I will ever be able to remember. That is his natural state and it's beautiful. Because of this, it is important NOT to force reading, writing, phonetics ect. until his brain body awareness have matched each other in complete 3D before moving on to other activities. It is important to strengthen instead with movement, imagination, considered and patient instruction, and meeting him where he is at.**

Sometimes I sit in bed panicking about my child’s preparation for this world. I wonder if I am being “wrong” in teaching methods. Every now and again, I see a child way younger than mine perform at a higher level. I actually celebrate them and their natural progress (or their uncanny ability to memorize and mimic which is also a celebration in it’s own right) but I also wonder, "Am I doing my child a disfavour?"

To be honest, it’s tough to be so against the grain in my schooling methods and beliefs. Many people make the vocal or silent judgement that I am failing my kids when my children do not reach certain milestones at certain ages. When it is found out my children are homeschooled, I have experienced random quizzes of math at grocery stores, strangers asking my kids how to spell basic words or  constant questions from family on what they have worked on (and of course measuring their schooling with traditional schooling mindsets.) 

There is a collective pressure to ACHIEVE, COMPETE and SUCCEED. Sometimes I get panicky before a dose of common sense sets in. One of my children is seven. He still draws stick figures at about an age 4 level, still can not write and does not read much. When he does read he astounds me with his knowledge of some BIG words but often he prefers to hear me read and he certainly does not understand phonetics - no matter how many times I attempted to teach them in my prior ignorance. 

His body awareness is still happening and he is still developing those neural pathways. I made the mistake of doing heavy occupational therapy with him last year only to find out months later that he was secretly bothered by it. He felt like he was dumb and different. I think OT can be good. We were doing a Handwriting with no tears program, and while it was good, it did not match him NOR was he needing to be at that level yet. It was a mistake of mine. Every child is so different, but from what I have read, if kids are left fairly naturally to imaginative play, education WILL happen more naturally and instruction can happen more around ages 7- 12 depending. 

I have realized watching him that he is his own type of brilliant. He has this moral integrity that can not be taught, massive amounts of energy, and a ton of love. He has profound thoughts when he decides to open up about them and his play is creative and sharing and only needs guidance at critical times of boredom or misbehaviour. He takes life and LIVES it and that more than anything, is where I want him to get his value from.

When I think hard upon it, I have no real concern about his future to be honest. I know HIS future will be HIS because that is who he IS. He will do anything he sets his mind to eventually- at his own pace. Of course, I still teach things but sometimes I see his peers mimic back words memorized or things accomplished (i.e. riding a bike which he was JUST ready for last summer even though his older brother was ready for a two wheeler at an early age) I start to doubt. 

Tonight I doubted yet again so I googled it and the first article that popped up to my question was EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I honestly think it’s an excellent read for any mother or child because it explains the neural pathways and differences in learning and what our schools need to start changing:

Frankly, I was relieved reading the direct biological evidence to learning...and that the schools have it a bit wrong too. Yay for puppets, knitting, making, drawing, playing outside, sharing, reading TO him, and tons of free time to exercise those muscles that are still in development for him! I knew  from my prior Early Childhood Development studies that his pictures of people are about age 4 level (The article states that this shows he is about at that age for processing still.) One day that won’t be the case but for now he is his own delightful existance. I am savouring who he is NOW. Who knows what the future holds? Most likely he will move on eventually. Right now, this is my son whom I love, and while I will not stunt his growth purposefully, I will also not force it with memorization or continual practice…in time, everything has a time, and his may be longer in this regard, but there are so many beautiful things along the way.

I wanted to throw the article out there for support in case you ever lay in bed panicked like I did, or become discouraged at what our world titles “progress.” (Or if you are concerned that I am doing him a disfavour- if that is the case it is even more crucial that you consider the research behind my methods which I have dedicated hours to. There will be mistakes in this and consequences like anything in life but also many benefits and they are what I am willing to live with.) 

My community of friends and family have also helped form some of my conclusions either by agreement or disagreement. I have observed carefully both fully grown adults of the school system and homeschooling system and both types of children currently. The conclusions I have come to suit MY life, and my children...but the biggest factor has been observing the fact that in adulthood, the most content, loving people are the ones who have learned how to BE in the now, regardless of circumstance or knowledge or talent. Yes, those factors play a part in existence, but a balanced life is mainly about attitude and presence.

Sometimes even when you know what you are about, you need to be supported once again, or inspired. Ignore anything that can not enhance your personal story. We each have different stories and traditional schooling also has many benefits and delights! Yet, if your child is in the current system, and seeming to be “behind” consider these articles and remember that brain development has it’s own place. Often the ones who seem ahead in the early years do not necessarily stay ahead in adulthood. Life is about attitude, morals, choices, and mindsets. It’s about feeling worthy and giving worthiness…it’s about love…and if your child is excelling in any of those areas, you really do not have to spend the night fretting over milestones or accomplishments. Even those who accomplish little can still BE…and in BEING we BECOME love and that love can not help but garner love and find ways to LIVE.

For more on this topic a few of my favourite resources are (links in Author's name):
  • Kids: How Biology and Culture shape the way we Raise Young Children- Meredith Small
  • Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World- Ben Hewitt
  • The Magical Child- Joseph Chilton Pearce

    *For more great articles and quotes see this Pin board:

    Disclaimer: There are MANY ways to educate. I understand the innate privilege of being able to CHOOSE how to educate my children and also to have the privilege of staying at home to do so. As I have mentioned in a previous post- we are under the poverty line and while I would not consider us poor- we are definitely privileged and blessed but we are not at a place of FULL stability either. We are careful. My husband works in Construction which enables him to work less hours for more money and we value our family time. We are glad we invested in his Journeyman even though it came at great cost to us. We are honoured that he has the physical capability to work hard at a job that is one of the most dangerous jobs to do everyday. Everything comes with sacrifices, and our ability to live  on less hours of work for him came at a cost- but a cost we are willing to pay. We have had many circumstances work to our advantage (like being able to get a mortgage at age 24 with the company my husband was in construction with at the time) and in that regard, the decisions we have made and the people who have guided us- have mostly been ones that have given us a higher quality of life than what it seems we should be able to afford. We ARE privileged and we have also worked hard to make good decisions and use our gifts and support system. It's a balance. Many people say they cannot afford to home school, but being slightly under the poverty line, WE HAVE and we find it more cost effective then having me work or sending them to school. It depends on the situation and there are ways to work it out. THAT SAID, I live in an amazingly supportive place with a beautiful provincial policy on homeschooling. I love Canada and it enables me to have some privilege of freedom. I am speaking from a place of privilege. I understand MANY do not have this privilege I have. I believe the school systems desperately need to change. Please read the article sourced below and the books and links above to see the steps on how to do this. It starts with our mentalities as a society.

     Quote from article below "So what do my students need, then? Access to the same funding, opportunities, and “exceptions” afforded to privileged, affluent students.
    They need a society and educational system designed to actually meet their needs, instead of a society that passes laws to keep them constantly underfoot and an educational system designed to test them to death and tell them how they are inadequate instead of educating them."

Another post similar to this is:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Heavy Dose of Atmosphere

I belong to the big skies where hours upon hours stretch out with full possibilities. In a short span of time the sky can change from foggy grey to patches of azure to pink ocean depths or to a world enveloped in silvery flakes.

Every form of sky is my favourite but I come most alive at Dusk. It is my time to thrive. Dusk reveals vivid colours that are not part of our natural world during the days of winter. Typically white is everywhere with the exception of bare brown trees and rusty evergreens. At dusk and twilight the sky comes alive with dusty reds, purples, blues, greys, and greens. I wish it could be longer. "I taste the sky and feel alive again."- Owl City

The north with it's harsh climate brings untamed beauty. I love my Canadian prairies and their great partner of sky. It can be treacherous in any climate and in mine I recognize the wild spirits in the strong steel of survivors of the land. The snow makes life more difficult, but that is almost valuable in a strange sort of way. The cold is a refreshing type of environment. It's almost like mountain air...that icy fresh blast of clean, crisp oxygen. That is what minus 25 Celsius feels like. It can be dangerous but little bits of minus 20 is delightful IF the proper precautions are being taken. On these colder days the sparkles are more apparent. The icicles drip their tips dangerously off of homes that pump out the smoke of cozy fires...Unfortunately, most cameras can not capture the sparkles or the purity that blankets the land for a short moment.

This year we have experienced many Chinooks. The snow starts to melt and the land takes on a soft appearance. Part of me gets restless for a spring that is at least three months away, but part of me enjoys the fact that I still have some time to be in winter. I can always feel a Chinook before it happens... my spirit gets agitated and my bones feel heavy. As the winds start to pick up I feel the wildness inside of me and the changes that brings. As the winds die down, the quick warmth of the world and drastic change from minus 28 celcius to minus two feels slightly draining. An emotional melt as well as a physical one ensues. It's a quick adaptation, but it holds a different palette of inspiration. Windows bring in fresh air and new beginnings.

From season to season, the skies continue to inspire, enhance and remind me, both of how large I am in my world, and how very small. A blanket of stars is often the last sight I see in my window before I sleep. Upon waking it's the brilliance of drastic changes and possibilities reflected in the sky. The symbols of freedom, heritage and passionate, ever changing spirits.

From dusk onward the moon starts it's hidden path into darkness. That moon, unapologetic, shows off it's full face to the world, nude and resplendent without shame. Paradoxically, the moon allows itself to shrink into dark shadows. It leaves an air of mystery as it slowly circles inward. It's cycle comforts, hides and brings to light. It has witnessed darkness and light, shadow and sight. Yet, it never fails to show up in any state. The moon is a brave part of nature. A instigator of tides and schedules, but also a spiritual nature that causes chaos and moods. The moon just IS. From century to century it has witnessed the love and hate. It has shone down on lovers in the darkness and crimes of the centuries. It has anchored the earth and contributed to weather. It is steady yet not. A magical guide that is explored and scientific. A paradox. A beacon.

The skies hold hope, steady inspiration within every changing circumstances, and wild freedom. Looking into the stars, following the moon path, gazing into afternoon sun clouds, or being enveloped by a heaven full of fluffy flakes steals breath from the lungs and pumps it back into the heart. From dusk to dawn, inspiration arrives simply by walking to my window and looking out over open fields and stretching skies. As Owl City croons so aptly, "pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere..."

Alberta Skies 2013 from Alan Dyer on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015, How to start the New Year, Beating January Blues, New Years expectations and Goals- Why I don't have them.

The new year often goes unmarked for our family. Sometimes I am still awake at midnight and I hear the fireworks of the neighbours and their cheers. I smile slightly but have no inclination to get out of my comphy bed. I love that they want to celebrate. I also appreciate those who make resolutions or words they want to live by. There have been certain years where we set the clocks back and and at 8:00 pretended to count down with our kids. It was fun when our attempt at some sort of festivity happened, but in general most of our New Years Eves are pretty ordinary.

Even in the tough years where I needed a word for the new year to inspire me to live the next, it felt false. It simply did not match my journey. The word would change within a month or two and I often felt that it was like giving a post title to a blog post that was not written yet. Some people write their titles first to get their story going. I have never been one of those people. It's not wrong. It just is not me. I need to write my story first and then give it a title as an afterthought. Or at times, if I do mark a new year it is usually my Birth Day...the start of an official new year for me. Even at those times, I am careful about my goals and write them loosely. Goals are important to a psyche but only if the goals are flexible and if they do not set the tone for our entire existence or give us our meaning.

I really used to struggle with expectations and do still at times, but in general, I have found that any expectation for a year can not possibly be met in the way I hope it will. Sometimes it is better, sometimes it is worse. I want to live in the NOW. I like to go to sleep on New Years like every other night and wake up to a fresh day of opportunity, heart ache and delight like every other day. Perhaps part of it is that I am an Aspie and prefer gradual transitions? Perhaps my idealism hopes that if I treat each day as a possibility- no more and no less- I can simply BE? Whatever the case, I feel I am healthier if I do not mark New Years.

There are other holidays I mark that others do not feel significance for. It really comes down to personality. I do not resent the go getters who party on New Years and make lists of ambitions. It simply is not me. I hope they do not resent that I like the night and new day to be as ordinary and extraordinary as it is every other day. I feel this way of mine prepares me more for the onslaught of messages that try to tell me that getting healthier, achieving status, getting money, being free or whatever will FINALLY make me feel better or have a good year. I have had health, status, money and freedom- immense privileges but with them I have also had sickness, insignificance, poverty and restriction and I have found that BEING through all of these has brought enrichment. In some of the privileges I learned and in some of the hardships I learned, but in ALL I WAS. I guess that is what I celebrate on New Years, but what I also try to celebrate each day when I wake up...that I am alive, that I am grateful for the breath I am breathing and will continue to choose at this moment, to make it what it IS.

Goals and expectations and words for the year are all fine in theory. In fact, I love reading some of my friend's posts on these mindful pursuits, but for my personal story they don't fit. I have struggled too much in the past with living up to an ideal I put in my mind. I have found the years I thought would be the best, turned out to be ordinary or the worst. I have found that the years set up to start horridly  have ended in beauty, and some years have just been really hard. But, if I really think upon it not EVERY moment was hard. I smiled at points. I became. I had some beauty. The years that have been beautiful in sum- have had tears and pain. We often forget about the multitude of moments that make up our years. Profound is in the day to day ordinary with no marked words of description to describe, yet the fact of Being brings out contentment. The things I want to hold close to my heart are already in it. What I want for who I am, is already inside.

This MOMENT, what I am now, clicking on my keyboard in my pjs, sore from physiotherapy, listening to my children chat while getting together their breakfast and hearing the morning traffic pass by my cold window...this moment is what I have. I chose to share it briefly with you, because I know I also have something to contribute to the conversation. Those who write goals and ambitions also have something to contribute ...and those who do nothing at all.

I suppose my point is that a party or an ordinary day on New Years is the perfect way to ring in the New Year...but it's only perfect if it suits you. If it makes you a better person, a more compassionate person, an ordinary person who sees ordinary as extraordinary or a person who thrives on existence- go for it!  If you are an introvert who likes to avoid all New Year's festivities and likes to lay low through the January Blues - embrace that. If you are an extrovert who prefers to party hard through the January Blues- embrace that. January is hard because of the weather, the post christmas bills or because of the way we agonize over the old and new year...What if beauty and life is just in the daily?

We are all hiding and exploring in our varied ways. Regardless we each have to face ourselves. It is better if we face ourselves with honesty and perception into who we really are instead of living an expectation or a word or a list of what we should be. Yet, if those lists and words truly show our soul- they are part of our experience too. BE what you need to BE because that is what is brave.

Happy Right NOW. Yes, we all need a will to try. But it can be moment to moment. May your right NOW be filled with all you need for the next minute. May you find contentment and beauty already. You are already standing on what you need. You ARE.
This is our family's theme song. Love it.

I still love this song regardless...I also apply it to every day...Happy New Day:)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Musings On Solstice And Autism (yea I am weirdly tying them in together)

I prefer to think of Winter Solstice as Mid Winter up here in Canada...and not the beginning of Winter as it is said to be. Starting tomorrow days get a little brighter, and Christmas with it's sparkles and joy (on good years anyway) is just a few days away. If one suffers from SAD, this tends to be the time, that hope is seen around the corner. Weather is regional anyway, so I do not judge my weather by the supposed "official" seasonal times of the year. However, I do love Solstice. If we were to have had another girl, Solstice would have been her middle name. Despite how hippie that sounds, it brings meaning... Meaning of beginnings, of beautiful endings, darkness and light, and of the rhythm and flow of life.

Yesterday, I was having a dreary day so I decided to make something of it. I mustered up the strength to fill the house with the smell of cinnamon and baking. At first it wasn't too fun but eventually my mind was triggered and a feeling of safe, childhood feelings was evoked. I cleaned the house to innocent Christmas songs of peace and helping the world at large. The Christmas tree was glimmering and I forced myself to sit in front of it, inhale deep breaths of the spiced air, and stare at the lights the way I used to when I was little. After a few minutes, my forced reverie turned into a natural state of wonder. For a fleeting moment I had to remind myself I was not wasting time, but only for a fleeting moment, because my practical side does not often win when my childlike joy of beauty is in competition (probably because I tend to live in my practical logical way of Being more- but that childlike wonder is STRONG when it does show up.) I don't know how long I savoured this moment, it felt like forever and also like an instant...a very good sign that I just WAS, and in BEING I AM.  The lights shimmered and my soul sighed. Yes, there are bad events, life will bring my own share to my door and has in the past, but there is also the good. The good of simply forcing yourself to BE in a moment, and in BEING suddenly you ARE. Any Solstice reminds me of this. We do not mark them with huge events, but we make sure to have a form of light purposefully set (a fire, candles, the fireplace) and to take some time to BE in whatever state we ARE.

I felt my child self at five, sitting in wonder, care free to the worries of the world, and enjoying the fact that I could stare at a tree for hours and not be told that I was wasting my time. Peace is for everyone, if only for an instant. Crimson is in the embers, bells are tinkling, and the snow outside is melting ( a refreshing change from our LONG blustery winter last year.)

I have two sides to myself...most Autistic people would describe themselves as a Paradox. Part of my brain is logical, practical, reasonable, assessing and in tune with continual new is open to constant evolution. It's the side that is often shown to myself on a daily basis but is hidden when I am uncomfortable or not accepted. I can come across quite ditsy when my brain is actually a phenomenon. A metaphor for those who do not understand would be similar to Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory (except a lot more complicated and less straightforward.) Half of my brain really relates to Sheldon. But the other side of my brain is mystical, childlike, overwhelmed with sensory data, the source of my clumsiness and inability to feed myself, and the place that causes me to automatically clap and squeal when I am filled with joy. I could not stop this part of myself if I wanted to. Perhaps it comes out a little less in the daily but it shocks me how often it shows up in  unsuspecting moments. It's the reason why I still cry at the song "Where are you Christmas?" or why I look forward to the Muppet Family Christmas EVERY year. It's the part of my brain that forces my logical side to step aside for a moment and to STOP assessing, stop reasoning, and for heaven sake stop criticizing every philosophy or thought or perspective from each angle and just ENJOY. While I do believe there are certain gifts that come from being able to step outside boxes, think from another person's perspective (even the craziest person or the seemingly most mundane) or critiquing philosophy or religion, sometimes it can get a tad exhausting. There are times when I find it wearing to be the one who has to rise yet again to put myself in the other's place to extend grace, and find that they can not replicate back in quite the same way. There are times when it is slightly jading to be able to say in my mind, "I have already been through that transition that you at 60 are going through and it happened to me at fourteen." It may sound pompous but it's just a fact, a fact that leaves one a little more alone if not in the company of those who share this brain state, and a little bit misplaced. It's also disheartening because it can not be shared or stated unless in the company of others who KNOW because people just take it as attitude, judgement or haughtiness. Most do not see this as genuine. They also get  confused by the juxtaposing paradox. Who could really be truly like that? It seems to conflicting, but I know it to be my truth. There are perks to having a paradoxical way of being and some of them are quite enlightening.

My point is, that my childlike side that also can seem to the world like the "worst" part of Autism can actually be quite a gift. Sure, being subject to sensory overload can be painful at times, but it also opens my eyes and triggers my brain to the state of a child. Like the Solstice, there is dark before light, and there is a transition time. There is a moment when all that is needed is a shift. Yes, being clumsy from executive functioning issues has it's downsides, but it also forces me to stay humble...willing to take help where most 31 year old women do not need help. Not knowing left from right or not being able to wade through verbal instructions forces me to compensate creatively to get through the daily. It's not all sparkles and Christmas lights, but it has it's moments or CAN if I choose to see life that way. This is where hope comes in. Hope is found where BEING is. Hope is found in ACCEPTANCE and LOVE. It is found in the darkest of places where light is needed. Hope is an ending needed for another beginning.

This is where Solstice hits my heart. It's a reminder brought in by the earth that I am enough, I am what I am, and there is beauty and brutality in BEING. Life is here now and I must rise to that.

Wishing you the beauty of sacred beginnings and necessary endings on this Winter's night with you.

Disclaimer: I am not literally saying Autistics have divided brains NOR am I actually explaining the scientific theories behind Autism but I am describing SOME of the general consensus among my Autistic friends and I about how being in our brain feels...and the general feelings I have about myself and how it feels to me in simple terms.

This song is my Winter Solstice song and evokes all the emotion beautifully in it's imaginative, descriptive and romantic lyrics:

*To see more thoughts on Autism/ Aspieness click on the Autism/Asperger's label below...there are posts on  Creating Autistic Safe HavensAspie motherhoodFeeling Younger While Getting Older, The Consequences of Growing an Aspie up to realityGender Bias in PsychologyFamous People speculated to Have AutismHurtful Misconceptions about VaccinationsWhat Autism Means to MeGuest Post from Samantha Croft on Aspie Communication, Disclosing AutismAutism Positivity/ Autistic Healers FlashblogSensory Autism experiences at the ZooAutism DOES NOT cause ViolenceDealing with and Understanding Meltdowns Autistics Don't Need Your Awareness and Other Crucial Links Doesn't Everyone Have a Little Autism in them? (And other Wounding Statements Addressed)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Excellent Exercise (Cosmic Kids) for Neurodiverse Children ( ADD/ Autism/ Aspie/ Down Syndrome ect.)

*These are not my kids pictured.*

My kids are on the Autism spectrum and we have tried many forms of exercise. While we have found many enjoyable activities, nothing has captured their attention more than Cosmic Kids Yoga. Click on this link:

The beauty of Cosmic Kids is that it can be done in a living room, in a child's own sensory environment. Each Yoga session has a story to keep even the most ADD child captivated while engaging in healthy movement (I should know as my youngest has high attention issues and he manages each session...the 25 minute ones are a little tougher for him than the twelve but he generally still participates.)

My family all has different levels of Dyspraxia and Executive Functioning issues but we still managed to do most of the movements...I would say it took us a few months of doing the first sessions of 12 minutes over and over to be a tad more fluid, but it wasn't the frustrating experience that most class exercises are for me....Perhaps because it was in my own private home with no one to judge? We all took it at our own pace and when we couldn't manage we just listened to the story or performed other movements. (See Note on Bottom.)

My kids prefer the sessions if I participate with them and make all the necessary sounds and movements that are supposed to be made. It's a bonding moment as well as an opportune moment for storytelling, learning through emotion and sound, and following instructions. If they see mommy willing to be goofy and participate while creating the structured routines, they also are enthusiastic. One of my children especially struggles with emotions and meltdowns...and this child does NOT like to do things not deemed worthy. However, I have found it amazing how suddenly a smile surfaces after Yoga. Even if there is an adamant refusal at first to join, we are seen enjoying it, and eventually the story captivates. Almost every time, this child eventually joins in...which is rarely the case in other sports or such. 

My Aspie son who is obsessed with Star Wars (even though he has never seen most of it due to high anxiety and sensitivity) was ecstatic to see the Cosmic Kids Star Wars Episode. Of course, he had to point out the many differences between the actual film, his Star Wars books and the Yoga story, but he still had fun.

The rest period at the end of each session also has a special effect on my kids with a light moral lesson in each ending.  I have found that other children we have had over also enjoy these sessions. My daughter is older but she LOVES doing Cosmic Kids. I find that if the parent shows that no one is too old to join in a story and follow the instructions of the teacher (including robot noises ect.) the kids do not think they are too old for it either. I especially find that those who are Neurodiverse especially enjoy stories and movement because they are often young at heart, yet old in spirit. The Neurodiverse seem to get the beauty in the simple and the joy of a creative moment. I love Cosmic Kids and it really is my favourite type of exercise. The stories make it easy for the time to pass and I don't feel like I am stretching my body. I have Fibromyalgia as well as being an Aspie, and I find that it is light yet safe form of exercise to do every day with my sensitive body. 

I would HIGHLY recommend trying this with your kids. We started at around age 5 but I am sure younger kids may be able to follow along if they are given the opportunity. We mirror our computer up to our Apple TV or we find the episodes on Youtube to play on the TV from Apple or if you do not have access to that, just follow along on your computer screen (put it in a higher area where everyone can see.) This alone has been incentive to purchase our Apple TV (not discounting Netflix ect.) but there are definitely other ways to participate.

After each session of Cosmic Kids my children look up Just Dance sequences on Youtube and  take turns mimicking the movement to get out any bottled energy. These rituals are their favourite part of our morning routine.

NOTE: For younger kids I would start with the imaginative 12 minute sessions like Pedro the Penguin or Cracker the Dragon. Even if they NEVER get the proper movements” most children still enjoy the whimsy, the backgrounds and the story lines…my kids also enjoy her facial expressions of emotion and I feel they benefit regardless of the motion committed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gluten Free * EASY* Gingerbread/ Cream Cheese Mud Cake (with Oat Flour) Made with Coconut sugar and Honey instead of Processed Sugar

I have had the toughest time finding cakes without complicated flours that are gluten free that have good textures. I adapted this cake and it was a raging success! We try to stay away from milks but use cream when necessary (you can research the effects of milk, the benefits of whole milks and creams and full fats, and alternative almond or coconut milks.) We are also gluten and processed sugars and preservative free...this IS very RICH and a small morsel does the trick, but for a special birthday or once a year treat it is a DELIGHT! As you can see, my eager family dug in with their five forks...we are a tad was a savoury moment of enjoyment:)
*** Please see note at bottom of page about Gluten free Cooking/ Baking.

 CHOCOLATE Gluten Free GINGERBREAD Mud CAKE Cake adapted from Martha Stewart:

 *1/2 cup (120ml) coconut oil
*1/2 cup (156g) molasses
*3/4 cup (150g) coconut sugar
 *1/4 cup of water
 *2 large eggs
*1/4 cup (60ml) half and half cream
*1 cup (125g) ground up gluten free oats or Oat flour
*1/2 cup (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder (use a top brand)
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
*2 teaspoons ground ginger
*2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


*1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
*1/2 cup of (4 oz (112g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
*1/2 cup of honey
*2 Tablespoons of half/half cream
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon of Cinnamon *chocolate (dark) for drizzling (optional)


Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a 9-inch bundt pan or round pan with coconut oil and dust with cocoa powder and tap out excess. Set aside.
*Over medium-low heat, melt together the  coconut oil, molasses, coconut sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan until all of the coconut sugar has mostly dissolved (only a couple minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
 *Whisk the eggs and cream into the molasses mixture after it has cooled (to avoid heating and scrambling the eggs). Set aside.
*Sift together oat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a medium bowl. Gently fold the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until just combined. There will be lumps remaining. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30- 40 minutes until cake is pulling away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
*As the cake cools, make your frosting.
*The butter and cream being room temperature is KEY. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until creamy. Add honey, vanilla and the cream,  until you've reached the desired thickness. I like to add a few sprinkles of cinnamon to this as well. Add a little more honey if necessary to achieve a spreadable frosting. Frost cake immediately before serving and drizzle with chocolate sauce (optional). Eat warm and refrigerate right away. SAVOUR!
*Note: My cake always falls apart because of the lack of gluten...but I pile it on to a plate, smooth the top and just pour the cream cheese mixture generously over the top and pour a bit of chocolate on top and it's an informal mud cake. My kids and I LOVE it.
Cake remains fresh for up to 4 days stored in the refrigerator.

*** I have researched many different diets. Our family was very sick dealing with different symptoms and many doctors could not figure it out. Finally we went to a Naturopath and my therapist suggested cutting out processed foods, sugar and gluten for two years to heal our guts. I also have possible celiac but cancelled my Gastroscopy as I was 8 months off gluten and doing so well I did not want to eat some beforehand. I eat according to a Celiac diet because so many symptoms I was hospitalized for in serious pain went away after about four months. NOTE: Some Celiacs can not have gluten free oats. I run into problems if it is not gluten free but I find I can process oats ok if I keep it minimal. The gluten free diet has gotten a lot of flack lately and I agree with many points on this...many on gluten free diets eat MORE sugar, MORE processed foods and MORE gluten alternatives that are not healthy for the body. We are careful to limit our rice products to twice a week, rinse well and only eat Basmati rice because of Arsenic levels. We substitute a small amount of honey for sugar and we only eat veggies, fruit, meats and my occasional baking with rice, potatoes and a variety of seeds, beets, fermented foods, high fat butters and organic Greek yogurt, granola and natural products. We also make sure we take a good supplement and drink plenty. A gluten free diet is NOT the only way to go and it does NOT cure Autism. In fact, we found cutting out sugar helped us with sensory overload the most, but it HAS cut down inflammation issues and other serious health concerns. Plus, for two years, if you have chronic pain, a diet similar to ours can help heal the gut and inflammation so you can slowly add things back in. But that does not mean you can't enjoy an occasional treat like above. Life is also enjoyed. I have enjoyed my food so much more since I adjusted to this diet. I can honestly say I do not miss my old foods and purely enjoy the treats when I can have them. We only drink water, club soda, pure home made blueberry juice and tea. Check out Gut Psychology in your search engine for more. I have adapted the Celiac diet with Gut psychology, the High Nourishing diet, Weston Price, and Paleo.
A fun version for you while you bake:) May your days be merry and bright.