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. 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

    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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP-73pinHbE&spfreload=10

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 concepts...it 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:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV4F2yfEt9o

*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: https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga

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 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 Christmas treat it is a DELIGHT! As you can see, my eager family dug in with their five forks...we are a tad informal...it was a savoury moment of enjoyment:) *** Please see note at bottom of page about Gluten free Cooking/ Baking.



  • 1/2 cup (120ml) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (156g) molasses
  • 3/4 cup (150g) coconut sugar
  • 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.
Invert cake onto a cake stand or a large serving platter. 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.
Cake adapted from Martha Stewart

*** 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 and Paleo.
A fun version for you while you bake:) May your days be merry and bright.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

We (Autistics) Are NOT Missing! (#mssng / #NotMssng )

For more information, this post carries legitimate stats and explanations of why Autism Speaks is not a healthy organization:   http://goldenheartedrose.tumblr.com/post/89338501188/autism-speaks-masterpost-new-updated-6-20-14

Also John Elder Robinson, who QUIT Autism Speaks, (He was their science advisory board.  He resigned his position in November 2013.  See his blog. ) wrote a great post about this here:

If you participate on twitter join this statement instead:

I am not missing. My kids are not missing out on life. We are not a burden. We are a beautiful difference. I had to swallow my hurt at this ignorance and the feeling of being pre judged and found unworthy because of my brain wiring. Do not support the site Autism Speaks. We are not being spoken for or being represented. We are worth more and if we “get rid” of Autistics we will loose many people who have enhanced life on this earth. :

I have stepped out into bravery because I believe in people like you who believe in those like me:)

I hope you have a Happy Holiday season full of cheer and celebrations of all people groups and beautiful diversity! Thank you for supporting and “seeing” us.

Someday at Christmas we will find out what Autistic life is really worth...maybe not in time for you or me but if we keep speaking for ourselves, finding our worth and celebrate our Being, perhaps one day we will share a world where people care... when all our equal!

(The LeAnne Rimes version on iTunes of this song is worth looking into.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas Season/ Holiday Albums/ Song Recommended and List of Christmas TV shows and Movies

* This is a Re post. The original post can be found within this label at the bottom*

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I am a sap. I love magic. I love LOVE. I like sparkles, presents, coloured lights, cheesy happy music, and meaningful stories of family or cherished bonds. Christmas can also be the toughest time of year (I wrote about that in one of my points here:http://worldwecreate.blogspot.ca/2014/10/a-letter-to-my-younger-self-from-my.html ) It's unfortunate that it is one of those times of year that tends to be fulfilling only if one has hope or the joy of family. When experiencing loss of any type Christmas is very hard...but I still find some of the videos and songs hopeful. December is my favourite time to stuff in a bunch of holiday festivities, albums and videos. These are my lists of listening pleasures and holiday stories (in no particular order.) I hope you can find one to enjoy!

We love family movie night. Our old fashioned maker pops out popcorn and we soak it with real butter and sea salt. We also allow the kids dark chocolate on the side and frothy glasses of almond milk or iced water/tea. Cozying up under various throws and blankets we snuggle and laugh together. It is hard for me to choose favourites because I am obsessed with good Christmas tunes (My iTunes has 809 christmas songs- ridiculous I know...and every year I can't wait for the new ones to be released to add more favourites!) but there are a few full albums that stand out. Usually I only like a few songs from certain compilations but I will put a double star by a few stand out CDs that have a whole slew of goodies:)

My top Favourite Christmas Albums:
1. Baby, It's Cold Outside**- Starbucks compilation
2. These are The Special Times**- Celine Dion
3. A Christmas Portrait**- The Carpenters 
4. Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas- Ella Fitzgerald
5. The Gift- Jim Brickman
6. Home for Christmas** AND A Christmas to Remember- Amy Grant
7. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas- Burl Ives
8. Original Glee Christmas- Glee Cast
9. Let it Be Christmas**- Alan Jackson
10. The most Beautiful Christmas Songs Of The World- Boney M
11. Once Upon A Christmas**- Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
12. Wintersong**- Sara McLachlan
13. White Christmas**- Elvis Presley
14. And Winter Came- Enya
15. Merry Christmas- Bing Crosby
16.  That Christmas Feeling**- Perry Como
17. "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas**" By JUDY Garland/ "Peace **" By Norah Jones/ "River**" by Joni Mitchell
18. Merry Christmas 2 you- Mariah Carrey
19. Let it Snow AND Christmas**- Michael Buble
20. This Christmas- 98 Degrees
21. A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas- Kristin Chenoweth
22. Soundtracks to the 1950's animations of: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowmen, Santa Clause is Coming to town, and the Little Drummer Boy.
23. Shall I play for You?- Paul Brandt
24. The Christmas Shoes- Newsong ( This album was put out before the movie and has a few wonderful advocacy songs.)
25. My Christmas- Andrea Bocelli
26. A Very She and Him Christmas ( Zoeey Deschanel)
27.  O Christmas Three- Chicago
28. This Time of Year**- Steve Tyrell
29. James Taylor at Christmas- James Taylor
30. White Christmas- Martina Mcbride
31. An old Time Christmas- Randy Travis
32. Christmas Time again- Compilation Classic
33. Country Christmas- Compilation Mix
34. Martha Stewart Living; Traditional Songs for The Holidays**- Excellent compilation Mix
35. A Charlie Brown Christmas- movie Soundtrack
36. Making Merry**- Classic Starbucks Compilation
37. Winter Moon**- Mindy Gledhill
38. Christmas in the Sand**- Colbie Caillet
39. Dean Martin Christmas**
40. Rod Stewart Merry Christmas Baby
41. Christmas**- Alabama
42. Christmas with Nat King Cole**
43. Supremes Christmas or Motown Christmas
44. Aretha Franklin Christmas songs
45. White Christmas Soundtrack
46. The Chipmunks Christmas
47. Brenda Lee Christmas
48. Leanna Rimes- One Christmas: Chapter One** (* Someday At Christmas* is one of my current favourites)
49. Seth MacFarlane- Holiday for Swing
50. Michael W. Smith and Friends- The Spirit of Christmas
51. Darius Rucker- Home for the Holidays
52. Pentatonix Christmas
53. Idina Mendzel- Holiday Wishes
54. Bette Midler- Cool Yule
55. Michael Bolton- This is the Time
56. Brad Paisley Christmas
57. Christmas with Love- Leona Lewis (*One More Sleep* is cute)
58. Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas- Cat Power
59. Loretta Lynn Christmas songs ( I won't decorate your Christmas Tree or Country Christmas**)
60. Ali and Theo- Christmas singles and Christmas 2013, 2014 ect.
61. Johnny Reid- A Christmas Gift to You
62. Christina Perri- a very Merry Perri Christmas
63. It Won't be Christmas without you- Brooks and Dunn

(I adore Judy Garland and her version is still the most emotional, heartfelt and soul stirring)

My Top Favourite Holiday DVD's ( Also Including the top ones for My Children)
1. Love Actually ( Don't watch this if you have a more conservative taste or are insulted by sexual images.)
2. White Christmas
3. Holiday Inn
4. The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Blessing
5. Elf
6. Muppets FAMILY Christmas ( 1987/8) Because this is hard to find- here is the full version. We absolutely love this lost treasure:) So fun.

7. A Charlie Brown Christmas ( Animated)
8. I Want A Dog For Christmas Charlie Brown ( Animated)
9. The Christmas Carol ( Tons of versions of this- any will do. Muppets/ Jim Carrey/ Mickey/ Flinstones/ classic Dickens ect.)
10. Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas and Mickey's twice Upon A Christmas (Animated)
11. Anastasia (Animated)
12. While You were Sleeping
13. The Holiday
14. Christmas In Connecticut ( 1945 Version- Surprisingly ahead of it's time.) There is a newer version of this with Kris Kirstoffesen which I enjoy but it is cheesy in a country cute way.
15. It's a Wonderful Life
16. Miracle on 34th Street ( 1994 version)
17. Babes In Toyland ( Version with Annette Funichelo)
18. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer ( Clay version narrated by Burl Ives)
19. The Santa Clause series (Tim Allen)
20. How The Grinch Stole Christmas ( Cartoon and Jim Carrey versions)
21. Santa Clause is Coming To Town ( Narrated by Fred Astaire)
22. The Family Stone
22. You've got mail
23. Meet Me in St. Louis (Part way through Judy Garland sings 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'- A classic moment in movie history. No one can get across raw human feeling emotion like Judy...especially this bittersweet song.)
24. Smoky Mountain Christmas ( Corny cult classic starring Dolly Parton. Weird movie following a Snow White Christmas plot line. Surprisingly I like it. Dolly is just so sweet. Full version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MagaharfAw)
25. Bridget Jones Diary and Sequel (Don't watch if you have more conservative taste in regards to innuendo, language and/or are insulted by sexual imaging.)
26. Alvin and The Chipmunks Christmas (animated)
27. Sleepless In Seattle
28. Night Before Christmas- Barney movie -This is actually adorable and quite magical for the little ones.
29. Annabelle's Wish (animated)
30. The Nutcracker Ballet (For Kids The Carebear's Nutcracker)
31. We also like to watch The old 1940's Fantasia for the Nutcracker Suite, Ave Marie, and Tchaikovsky's waltz of the flowers. (Animated) This is a timeless classic.
32. O Henry's The Gift of the Magi ( Starring Marie Osmond, also The Mickey Minnie version for the kids.)
33. The Ultimate Gift (2006)
34. Narnia ( The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
35. Les Miserables and Sound of Music ( I don't know why but I like these at Christmas.)
36. Prep and Landing (Animated)
37. Little Women
38. Snowball Express
39. Mr Beans Christmas
40. The Mistle Tonnes
41. A Very Glee Christmas ( we love watching this episode at Christmas as well as the other two Glee Christmas Episodes)

(I realize 'A Christmas Story', 'Scrooged', 'National Lampoon's Christmas' and 'Nightmare before Christmas' are NOT on my list. I honestly feel less christmasy watching them- but if you like them that is great. My sister also likes "Edward Scissorhands" at Christmas)

This is just a start. I admit I am a bit Christmas crazy. I love this season and everything it brings. If I have missed one or mentioned one of your favourites- leave me a comment. I would love to hear about it.
Fun scene from Love Actually...

"If you really love Christmas, Come on and let it snow." Billy Mack. Love Actually. *

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Letter to My Younger Self from My Thirty Year old Self- Ten things I am Grateful For

My friend Glynis wrote a poetic version of this here:

I am borrowing her idea but am doing it slightly different because I do not feel poetic today. I am going to do this in the form of writing to myself to infuse hope into my younger child self.

Dear Self;
By age 30 you will have seen at least 14 different specialists in your life, from anxiety to bowel to reproductive organs to gull bladder specialists to stomach specialists. You will have gone through degrading medical tests and horrible moments with other people. You will have often wondered what the purpose of your oddity, your unique body and brain, and your counter cultural perspectives are? You will have lost hope for most of your twenties even though they were some of the best family years of your life, giving birth and learning. Yours is a story still unfolding. There will still be pain and loss, but there is a lie out there that says life goes downhill after 18. Ages 3-6, 12- 14 and 20 to 27 were the toughest for you. During these times there was fear, there were lies that you believed regarding health, beauty and what matters...and even though you had the inclinations all along it was hard to believe it when the proof seemed to be all around. I am writing this letter to you, dear self today, to show you ten things that IMPROVED as you aged or changed your life for the better.
Love Older Self

*The following will be written in first person to make things easier.*

1.) My Youth IMPROVED. I spent my twenties resenting my age. Resenting everyone underestimating my old soul or our little family...and now I realize it's a gift. I feel younger at thirty than I did at twenty one. This is not a joke. When I first turned thirty I felt WAY older. My body went through some weird adjustments in a matter of months. I could no longer stay up past eleven without feeling it! But other things? They improved! Youth is a blessing but it's not an age. I learned to embrace the parts of it I have- whether it is a youthful outlook or a youthful body! Last month I walked into the Specialist/Doctors office and he remarked, "What are you doing in my office? You should be out roller blading." This stunned me into awkward laughter, but I thought about it a lot after, and every time I feel old or tired I think, "People think I look young and vibrant enough to roller blade!" Even if roller blading would kill me! ( It probably would grievously injure my dyspraxic, klutzy self but the concept is exhilarating...and helps me get out of bed in the morning!:)

2.) My uniquely wired brain. Sometimes it's also my curse, but on most days- I am so honoured to have a Neurodiverse paradox that guides my life. Finding out I was an Aspie or am on the Autism Scale was one of the TOP ten things that positively changed me forever. It was also hard at some points, but I found out where I BELONGED. I always felt like I was from another planet, another time period, another family, and another species. My secret wish was to find out time travel really existed so I could find the time and place I TRULY belonged in. I knew who I was living...wasn't ME. I had to hide this particular pain and mask to fit in. Everyone thought I was SO normal, but deep down I knew something was SO not typical. Even now, only my husband and kids really see the meltdowns, the profound wisdom and almost scary intuition, and the beauty that is completely me. On most days they benefit from it. But the rest of the world gets me filtered in one way or another because to most, different is scary. Or different is rebellious...which I suppose in some ways COULD be seen that way. But most of myself is better served masking because it is more depleting to try to get others to understand...even if they think they are open minded. It's not that I am not true- these fragments of myself are true, but it would be exhausting to reveal my truth to more then my little family. The other place I finally belong is with the friends made online...all the aspies, the differently wired and the "normal" stable friends who support like Sara. Finally, after many books and my son's official diagnosis, I stumbled upon Rudy Simone's Aspergirls. It changed my life. The entire book was highlighted within two hours and tears were streaming down my face- I BELONGED. I finally found my species, my friends, and my brain wiring. People who lived with similar war stories. So many factors fell into place slowly after that day. Seven years later I have found my rhetoric, reasonings, and place in this world...furthermore, despite it's disabling attributes at times, I respect and admire how my mind works. I UNDERSTAND myself more than most people do and those that truly know me are in awe of how much understanding there is. This was hard earned and I will reap the benefits the rest of my days. I have my soul home. Much of this benefit also came from Cognitive Therapy and my great therapist who fit me so well because he was also a physician. Most of my struggles of anxiety came with physical odd ways my body responded and having a therapist who knows both body and mind was the perfect fit for me. Ten years of therapy has been one of the best decisions of my life.

3.) My husband. I am glad I did not listen to all the lies that told me we were too young to marry. I  often worried,"What if they were right?" Twelve years later, they were WRONG. We almost called it quits, mostly due to listening to too many well meaning voices, but marrying young was the best thing we could do because we grew TOGETHER. As an Aspie this is HUGE. We have been through diagnosis, differing beliefs and family value changes at the same time. We helped form each other. Some days I hate everything he does but I KNOW we are soul mates. We balance each other out. One of my favourite attributes of him is that he is physically strong. I need him to be strong because I am not physically strong. I am always in admiration of his raw strength. I am dyspraxic, anemic, fibro riddled and easily injured ( due to the MTHFR -CLICK HERE gene and other factors.) He is like my Wolverine. He heals fast, has very large arm muscles/strength. He has lifted a piano by himself down one flight of stairs (NOT that I was happy or proud of him for that!) But his raw natural strength (he does not work out) is unparalleled to most men I meet and I am continually in awe of it. I love knowing if the building was burning he could carry me out. I love knowing if we were trapped he could find a way...and I love that I can call on him for anything to be moved or taken down or...and I have complete confidence that he is the best person to call. It's like being married to a super hero. This also helps with our current renos. He has his limits and right now he is depleted in minerals and salt and iron because he is working so hard, but the Naturopath is fixing him up and I am SO in awe of all he can do! From plumbing, to electrical to walls to paint. He really is my superhero. My talents lie in the brain- he often calls me his Jean Grey but his talents are VERY physical. He resents this sometimes and thinks it's somehow inferior. I am in awe of it and most days I think if I could trade gifts, I would trade him...(but I also DO love my brain.) I know it won't always be the case for him to be unusually strong and there are so many other attributes I love about him. Another one is his open mind and stubborn heart. He chose me and chose his life. Despite what some people assume, I can never choose for him- I wouldn't respect him if I could and he definitely has a mind of his own. Every day I am grateful. He infuses my life like no other and no one else will EVER come close to him.

4.) The kids who wake me up every day with hugs, cuddles and breakfast in bed. Yup, every morning I get granola mixed with greek yugort from one of my little gifts...I'm pretty spoiled. They are mostly peaceful and infuse my life with their lessons, freedom and insights. My life would not be on the path it is without them. They taught me to defy convention. My unique kids taught me to avidly search out ways to live life differently, to find the lies in culture, to find different ways of living outside the box of conformity. My kids forced me to become. I had to change beliefs on birthing, childcare, food choices, education, spirituality, mental wiring, healthcare...pretty much everything was turned on it's head and for years it felt like I was over my head but the changes came suddenly and were always for the best. The years under five were pretty hard and I don't think I would go back. I call them the dark years because I did not have the confidence to follow through on what I knew was right for us...I was just too exhausted and barely coped through the resulting PTSD and PPD...some of the depression was from not living the way we needed to but instead living the way well intentioned voices were telling us to live that did not suit who we were. Once we changed that, EVERYTHING changed for the better mostly. Of course we are perceived as selfish, odd and contrary by those who do not know us or our reasons or systems...we are pot stirrers because of the lack of convention or our ounces of mystery, but weirdly enough we belong now more even though there is no place we can actually belong to...if that makes any sense? Our children did this. My children formed, tested, broke and healed me in ways I will never be able to pay them back for. They are my heart.

5.) Being able to Unschool my kids. I am grateful I live in a country that this is possible. I am grateful that I live in a community that helps my children learn in various ways. I am grateful for our funding for the curriculum I need to purchase and learning experiences we get to take. I am so grateful that even if I live in a province that requires some schooling in the main subjects I can mostly find ways to Unschool without too much paperwork involved. I am grateful for my facilitator who works with my gifts and my children. I am reading Home Grown by Ben Hewitt -CLICK  out loud to my husband and sometimes I get so choked up because I am living the dream. It's not the way Ben Hewitt lives, but the concepts are very similar. We are living in our freedom. It's such a profound and different way of treating our children that goes counter cultural and every day I am grateful that I stumbled into finding a way that works with a combination of friends, books, hard work, supports and perhaps a bit of destiny.

6.) Health. I had the best readings at Naturopathy that I have EVER had yesterday. I only have a liver issue that could possibly be causing some stomach rashes but is easily remedied with a few homeopathic drops and our continued healthy eating (we think it was caused from the multiple dental appointments this year and amalgam not carefully removed) and I have lower levels of magnesium. Otherwise I am in good order!

 If I could go back to my younger self I would tell her, "In your 30th year you will experience the best physical health of your life. Don't believe the lies that you are at your best young...that fact depressed you because you knew you were not and you KNEW this. But there is hope. You lived too long without hope. I have now tasted it and I can tell you hope for healing can happen at ANY age. FOOD. Food is something you always struggled with because you hated it all and hurt yourself or others when you tried to make anything and thought you would never figure it out. Each step of your journey brought you closer and it can only click when it DOES. You will find your food groove and you will find people who support this food groove. Your personal small community will come through for you. You will make a few sacrifices but it will be so worth it. And going of gluten, processed foods and sugar will be one of the easiest and best things you will EVER have done. SO much so that when you look at food it will no longer be tempting. There will be an odd time where some treat will look delicious but wait a few seconds and suddenly you will smile, take a whiff of the sugary air and enjoy the smell without consumption. The concept was scarier than the doing, but this only happened because of seven people. Your grandmother, father, mother, mother/father in law, friend and your husband. They all supported this change even though it affected their lives. They came up with yummy alternatives when you joined them for meals. They baked treats that followed your bossy guidelines and they accepted that it was a life change. But your husband you owe the most to, because he was willing to do this with you and cook regular meals. You now clean up everything and help prep but you are no longer the one figuring out meals or getting injured trying to prepare them. You now are able to live within your abilities and this is HUGE. Your body will change, your health will change and you WILL have more answers."

I know I am lucky to have a supportive husband...So many women tell me that. But sometimes I wonder if they actually know what it takes to get a supportive husband? It takes communication, asking and if not respected, being strong enough to challenge him to attend counselling. It takes compromise, it takes time invested and sacrifices in other areas and most of all it take vulnerability. Supportive husbands don't just happen. Loving ones do if they are good men, but supportive ones? That is a mutual destiny that needs pursuing. I have to constantly read to my husband articles explaining my limits and finding articles that explain his. We are constantly evolving together. Almost any good hearted man can be a supportive husband if both spouses are willing to communicate, understand themselves and each other and ASK. Yes, I am lucky my husband has a sensitive heart. I am lucky he grew with me and is who he is. I can not take credit for his amazing BEING, but I can take half of the credit for how supportive he is now and he would agree with me. It took hard work to get where we are and a lot of emotional output, moments of allowing him to see me at my weakest, and allowing him to be at his weakest. So yes, my husband is a huge part of my health journey, but I can also say that determination was too. Also, having had ill health and still having a chronic physical pain condition I can say that non health also teaches and transforms. My pain has given insight. Health is not everything but when I have it, I am grateful for it. There is always hope.

7.) Answers. I am a mystic. I believe more in questions than answers and I still live my life this way HOWEVER, I am finding that it's simply not quite true that there are NO answers. There are some. They are individual perhaps but at crucial times it is ok to embrace an answer. It was a slow process, finding some answers, and most of my personal answers are just that...PERSONAL, but having some is a balm to the vulnerable, flawed human psyche. I am realizing it's ok to hold on to some answers loosely but to never put those answers on others. I can suggest the answers. I can passionately tell how they helped change me, but sometimes what works for one, will not work for  another or not be chosen, I try to learn how to let go of that. My answers have solidified choices. They will transform and evolve but right now, the answers in health, spirituality and family have indeed improved the quality of our life.

8.) My best friend, Sara. We have been friends now for almost 9.83 years ( I did the math based on my daughters years/months of living. We met when she was 18 months.) I have never had a friendship this strong with this much time spent together. She is more than a friend. She is my soul sister. Back in Junior High I remember praying for a best friend who would love me as much as I loved them. I had a lot of good friends but I knew I was the one typically loving and giving more. I begged God to send me a friend who would click with me, who would get me mostly...but I didn't realize that I had to first be that friend to myself. As I started to begin my new spiritual path after I had my second born son, who changed EVERYTHING, she walked into my life. In fact, I was instructed by another friend to reach out to her and "convert" her. At the time, most of my beliefs on that were transforming but they were definitely not at the place I am at now, so with a question in my heart, I reached out, and ended up being pulled up instead by the other soul love of my life. She turned my life around. She turned my fears around. I taught her things about movies, songs, historical events and thoughts but she taught me how to LIVE. She listened, truly listened, about all my  interests and fears. We only had an argument once. Sure, we have had moments where we needed space or disagreed but it's a weird peaceful relationship like no other I have had. It is full of respect and mutual admiration. It is equal in it's unequal ness. I loved watching Anne of Green Gables while growing up and I saw myself in Anne...I often wished for a Gilbert (and my husband is as close as one can get to the persona of Gilbert and far outshines him) and a Dianna...now I have my Dianna. I often joke that she is my other therapist because of all the time we spend talking through life. My husband knows that the day Sara and I became close was the day he no longer met his wife at the door after work either in tears or with a verbal onslaught of all the day held. She has brought peace. In Sanskrit Sara means Essence or Core, she really has been one of the main supports that reminds me to be my own essence, she is part of the core of my caring and even though we can be SO different in our Being, we are similar too.

9.) Home has always been elusive to me. As I said before, I have never felt like I belonged anywhere. The closest home I ever had tangibly was my teenage bedroom. It was my haven and my place to be myself but as soon as I walked out the door or another person walked in my door, I was no longer at home with myself. This has changed due to all the previous 8 points. I love Canada my country and I love my place in it.  Moreover I now love my home. We used to live in a home that was full of mold, toxicity, and poor building. We were really poor the first decade of our marriage, but during this poverty we found home within ourselves and ways of installing dignity, beauty and peace into any place. However, an opportunity presented itself in our 6th year of marriage by our boss at the time. It was a risk for all involved but we took it and found ourselves homeowners. The first four years were a struggle every month to meet the mortgage. We tried to sell or rent it out to afford it. We went to the food bank a couple times and one awful christmas we were so depressed we both bawled watching "It's a Wonderful Life" because it WAS our life. We had a few cans in our pantry and no money for groceries, bills or presents. Two nights later my parents called and gifted us with a pantry full of groceries and five hundred dollars to spend on Christmas presents. We felt as if we had been handed LIFE. Our story would not be the same without them or my grandma constantly feeding our hungry mouths. We would accept any dinner invite at that time because it meant we would be feeding our kids a balanced meal. Not many knew how desperate we sometimes were, but we made it...and the sacrifices looking back were worth it because we had so many family and friends who simply were who they were. Now we have a mortgage we can handle and a safe home that we put sweat, tears and sacrifice into. I am so glad our attempts to sell were futile but at that time I viewed it as we were cursed. Now I sigh with relief because we are exactly where we need to be. I love our home. It enables us to be who we are. It is our ultimate place of rejuvenation and belonging. It is SACRED.

10) I could not have all the previous points without my support system. Sure, most of our way we MADE ourselves. A lot of my personal choices were all on me, as it should be, however supports are crucial. Supports change as we journey. Just because I am not close friends with some who supported me before, does not mean they were not crucial or part of my infused self.There are some who contributed to our family well being in small ways and some in large. Some people contribute just by visiting at christmas, exchanging gifts or stopping by for a quick bonney fire (named after my husbands best friend). Some people foster my growth by calling my husband for an hour long chat. Others contribute their wisdom by sending articles, videos, or a few sentence email. Some people made it their mission to break us down, but in doing so they made us stronger in our boundaries and protective of our time, so in that I am also extremely grateful to them from afar. Most of our enemies have been well intentioned so I cannot even blame them for the particular choices they made even if I can choose how I will let them in. I realize that those that oppose us also help make us. We need the balance in some way. But those who are for us? They BECOME part of us.
We have been physically fed, nurtured and picked up from family and friends. We have been challenged in beliefs, argued with and put on paths we can never go back on from dear Aunts...and those moments became the best parts of us. Mostly we have been loved. I have been loved. From my mother in law, who I put myself in her perspective and can see how we must hurt sometimes simply by being ourselves, and though I can not prevent that, I can regard her with respect for how much she loves her son and grandkids and how in turn that translates to me in a way. I look at my youngest and see my husband and my heart breaks literally a bit for the future me...because I see it. Although I can't choose my choices based on this I can appreciate it and find little ways within my power to ease the pain even if our BEING means the pain will always be present. I have been loved by my parents, who took my husband as their own and he fits like he has always been in our life prior to him being there. It's weird. I have been loved by grandparents who fed us and cleaned for us when my kids were young...my grandma taught me everything I know about laundry and she waded through piles of mouldy garments when I was too tired and too young to figure it out myself. I look back at that girl I was and wonder how she became me, and realize it was through many others. My aunts shaped my concepts of self in one way or another. My younger sister gave me an opportunity to try out aspects of parenting when I was a teen myself, she is also teaching me to transition into being a friend...which has been interesting and I still have not managed to fully transition into whatever role I am supposed to play in her life and hers in mine. In ways she is much younger, but in others much older. It depends on the circumstance. My brother has challenged me to hold on to boundaries. Others who have had crucial roles have been the witnesses, the friends who speak their meaning and by speaking their meaning help me form mine. From mom's group ladies to blog group ladies, to occasional friends for varied years...each one individually and collectively became PART of my multi layered soul in one way or form.

 I am who I am and that I Am partially, in fragments, belongs to some of them. Ultimately though, I have realized that I must be the best friend to myself that I want. I must be the change I wish to see in my life, in my beliefs, in my community and in my family and the world. In this knowledge EVERYTHING has changed. Ultimately, I can not blame anyone but myself because even if someone hurts me, I am the one who has to choose how it will effect me inwardly. I am the one who has to chose how they hurt or how much input I allow into my life from people who simply can not understand. I am the one who has to realize it is not necessarily their fault and they are a victim of their own selves and perspectives...I can only control MINE. In this I have found my sanity, my soul, my wisdom and my heart...Life is part circumstance, part what is made, and part what is found. I am grateful for it all because it all means LIFE.
*My husband and I feel this is one of our many songs. We found love right where we are.*