Inspiration

General inspiration

Celebrate!

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It’s a tricky thing, achieving some sort of balance.  Some days trickier than others, huh?

Finding the balance between work and play.  Between taking charge and going with the flow.  Between supporting family members with our presence and supporting them by giving them space.  Between focusing on our goals and personal development and focusing on what we can do for others.

And then there’s the profound balancing act between doing and being.

A few years ago I was in bed with some health challenges.  It went on for months, and the challenge changed in part to just enduring the unknown.  I’m sure you’ve had experiences when you didn’t know what it was you were supposed to be learning from something difficult, but you wished you’d hurry up and learn it so that you could move on!?  That’s how I was feeling.

And somewhere in all that time, I observed an important thing.  My children, all grown and gone, would come home to visit and instead of me running around getting things ready for them, cleaning, cooking, planning activities, I was just laying here in my room!

And they would come in and sit down on the cedar chest and talk.  And I would listen, and we would visit.  For hours.  I made a mental note that when I was up and going again, that I needed to adjust my brain from always feeling the need to be “doing” for my family, to valuing more time spent “being with” my family.

So, during Christmas this year, I was a little crazy.  I started out the season feeling behind and in the press to “catch up” I was doing and doing and doing.  In the end, I felt I had missed out on much of the “being” that makes the holiday a holiday!   But just like every other stage of my life, I have to learn and practice and eventually get good at balancing myself, my time and energy and expectations with the new variables of grandchildren and all that comes with this current stage of life.

So, here’s a little activity to consider.

On a piece of paper by your calendar, take a moment (this really shouldn’t take nearly as long as checking Facebook once…) and write down all of the things you did during the day. Not just the “to do” items, but all the stuff you usually don’t give yourself credit for, like making the beds and fixing breakfast and combing a child’s hair and getting everyone dressed, and changing X number of diapers and taking the garbage to the street and doing three loads of dishes or laundry (or both) and feeding the dog and wiping up spills and getting the mail and paying bills and sweeping the garage and vacuuming the car…you get the idea.

Then, when you get that jotted down, step back and look at all you accomplished!  Wow!  You are a veritable house on fire!  Turn on some music and dance with the gang!  They’ll think you’ve lost it, but you can share with them the reason for your celebration!

After the party, take a break and just “be.”

Sing songs at the piano with the kids.

Read story books.

Chit chat with your husband.

Relax.

If you think of things you need to do, write them down and tackle them tomorrow.

You’ve done more than enough.  Now, enjoy being.

You’re wonderful!

Love,

Jacque

“I am enough.  I have a wonderful sense of balance and I can feel when I need to take a break and recharge my battery.  I am making steady progress.  I learn from everything I experience.  I am keeping my heart soft and open and I trust that God is leading me to my highest good.  I trust that He is preparing me to be useful to His purposes.  I am happy and I am at peace.”

When the Plot Thickens

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I few weeks ago I met the grandmother of a child newly diagnosed with Autism.  A new chapter for the whole family as a mind boggling reality begins to sink in.  I promised my new friend that I would write a post to let that little mother know that she’s not alone! And already I see I need the tissue box…

The night before we went to the University where our son received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome a friend came to me in a dream.  She had been like an older sister to me and had passed away during childbirth a few years earlier.  In my dream, I walked into a beautiful building and she came out of an adjacent room and into the hallway where I was standing.  She looked at me with compassion and walked to me and hugged me. That was the whole dream, but I woke up feeling so comforted and understood and stronger.

It wasn’t until the next day when the doctor said, “Asperger’s” that I realized that Anne had been there in my dream to help me deal with all that the diagnosis implies, the grieving and the restructuring of my plans. Of course at the time there is no way to know what doors having a diagnosis might open and which doors it might inevitably close.  And then you realize that a diagnosis only represents what you already knew somewhere inside; that this child is seeing the world differently than you do and you’re headed on a journey to try to understand that unique perspective!

You walk around in a daze for awhile. You forget and then you remember again.  You get sad and wonder if there has been a mistake.  Then you see a new issue arise and you hope that someone will know what to do to help!

Of course no two lives are just alike and no two family’s stories could possibly be the same.  But there are certainly similarities and so for what it’s worth let me just express, that to some degree, I know how you’re feeling.  As I have looked back, I have a clearer view of the road we have traveled, and so I offer this list of things to consider that might be helpful to you as you begin your walk.

~Your child with disabilities has many abilities that others don’t have.  Know that this is true and look for those abilities and capitalize on them!  My son is incapable of saying anything bad about anyone.  He is kind to animals and does not know how to be depressed.  He is tenacious beyond reason and keeps growing even when it is very difficult.  He is my hero.  As a couple and as a family, we have come to realize that being a family with a disability has grown us in ways we are still figuring out.  I am profoundly grateful that in the midst of such struggle comes such growth.

~You are the only mom.  There will be doctors and therapists and specialists of all sorts, but you are the only mom.  And as the mom you are entitled to inspiration and insights that only you and your spouse qualify to receive.  I say this because there were many times that I second-guessed myself and my ideas and those are the times I have regrets.  Yes, you will need the expertise of others, but ultimately you are the one who is calling the shots and you need to feel good about the plans that are made for your child.  So if you feel uneasy, listen to that feeling and give it expression!  Everyone else involved is there to support you and your family, not to tell you what to do, so listen to and consider their counsel, but claim the final say.

~If you have other children, know that this challenge is theirs too.  Do your best to let them talk and then validate their feelings of frustration and sadness or even anger when they hit. You don’t need to fix them! Just listen to understand. Ultimately, my children have grown in ways that they couldn’t have without this experience.  Listen to them and help them find ways to deal with their feelings.

~Just as your children need to be heard, YOU need to be heard too.  Express your frustration, your sadness, or whatever you are experiencing to a qualified professional or find a secluded spot in nature and LET IT OUT!  The problems come when all of your intense feelings stay inside.  You may be tempted to try to explain things to those who have not lived with your situation and for me, that led to increased frustration!  Do you know other moms who are dealing with similar challenges?  Do you have a therapist who knows your situation?  Those are the people who can offer validation and empathy.  But even if you just shout out to the trees you’ll be better off than holding your tongue and expecting yourself to stop feeling.  You’re welcome to write to me, I will hear you!

~You need breaks.  All moms do, but you need them more often.  Please, please accept that fact and create a way to keep yourself healthy and balanced.  Ask for help and become the best receiver of all time!  Being a hyper-vigilant parent when it is needed has a price, and believe me you will be paying the piper if you don’t take the bull by the horns and advocate for yourself while you are advocating for your child. {Contact me if I can help you figure this out.  No charge!}

~Life is hard and love hurts.  It’s supposed to be a challenge to grow us so don’t be tempted to get caught on the wheel of “what if.”  It is worth the risk to love and to hope.  I experienced times when I would be so overcome with the challenge that I would feel completely alone.  Those are exactly the times when we have the choice to opt out of feeling or turn to God for his comfort and strength.  Do your best to allow this experience to grow you and your family, without resistance.  (I know that sounds crazy, but remember this is my retrospective view!)

~I firmly believe that all things work together for our good when we put our hand in God’s and let Him lead us along.  Events that could be devastating can actually turn to joy when your perspective is that of a humble child asking for guidance from someone much wiser than you.  He loves you and He loves your child.

I hope that something I have expressed here might be inspiring to you.  Mostly, my message to you is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I understand the grieving process that you will or have gone through.  The prayers and pleadings that will arise from your heart.  The tears that will come and the ultimate joy that will be yours.

I send you my love and my best wishes. Please kiss your little one for me!

Sincerely,

Jacque

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Eat Cake!

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Hi!  I am so excited to share something new with you!  New to me, maybe new to you too…first a little background:

Three years ago this fall I took drastic measures.  I came to grips with the fact that gluten was hard on me and decided it was time to give it up.  It was a HUGE change, one that challenged me to tears on and off through the first few months. As many of you know, it is quite a shift to change your diet that drastically! Our family had made this change before, years ago,  when we (I, the girl in charge of food) cut out gluten and dairy after I attended an autism conference and learned about the possibility of such a diet helping our son.  It wasn’t easy then either, but only lasted the summer.  This time it was me who needed the help.  Thankfully, eating a gluten-free diet made a huge difference in my health within just two weeks!

Fast forward to last month when a friend of mine asked if I had ever heard of natural yeast.  I hadn’t.  I immediately went to town reading up on it.  What I discovered is that like a traditional sour dough starter, natural yeast dramatically changes the chemistry of regular wheat when it is combined with water and kept in a cool place. Ooooo.  The more I read the more interested I became.  I believe that there are ways to prepare foods that are much easier for us to digest, and culturing is one of the major tools we use to accomplish that. Could this work for me I wondered? Me, eating wheat again? Eating waffles again?  And toast and sandwiches….It was a heady thought.

After reading Caleb Warnock’s blog on natural yeast, I determined that I wanted to find out if I might be one of the people with an intolerance or celiac who might be able to use wheat prepared in this way.  Shortly after that decision was reached, my friend called again and asked what I had learned.  When I said that I wanted to try it she surprised me by saying that she had a start for me and that her daughter had baked a loaf of bread for me to try!  (I owe you Pam Thomson!) I was so hopeful that I would be able to graduate from pasty starchy gluten free “bread” but mostly to be able to get the nutrients in the seeds and grains that I have felt I’ve been missing.  I decided to try it….

(Note: We are each responsible for our own health decisions.  What works for one may not be a good option for someone else.  Caleb suggests that you take some of this bread to your doctor to lab test it and see if it is something you could tolerate if you are concerned about getting sick. For some, better safe than sorry.) I personally went with a “gut feeling” that it was ok for me to try it carefully and slowly. It was great to eat bread again.  I ordered the book!

I can’t say enough about the quality and thoroughness of this book by Melissa Richardson and Caleb Warnock. (Melissa’s blog is http://www.thebreadgeek.blogspot.com fantastic stuff there!)  The book is a delight in so many ways; the writing is witty and real, the pictures are beautiful and instructive and the recipes are tasty and healthy. 
 Can’t ask more from a cookbook than that can you?

Over the past few months, I have devoured the principles in the book and tried the recipes, created some of my own recipes and of course learned to keep my starts going. The actual hands-on time this kind of baking requires is minimal, it’s the thinking about what you want to make a day ahead that is a little tricky.  I have baked bread, made many different kinds of pancakes and waffles (which are crispy and light and taste a bit like a funnel cake), an amazing chocolate cake and cinnamon rolls.

Holy cow!  It is so much fun to create and to try new things!  I have been tweaking the sugars (another difficulty for me, maybe you can relate) and have found that natural sweeteners work well in these recipes. For instance, in the chocolate cake, I used sucanat and agave in place of white sugar which made the cake sweet, but calmly so.  It certainly takes time, when shifting to a whole foods diet, to untrain your taste buds to expect sweeteners on steroids, but this brand of baking sure helps.  You eat a piece of chocolate cake made with natural yeast and natural sugar and wait for the blood sugar spike…..and wait…..and it doesn’t come!  And that may mean that diabetes won’t come knocking either!


 Fresh garden tomato
Fresh basil
Toasted natural yeast bread
Mustard/mayo/basil pesto spread

“Mammy’s Bread” recipe by Melissa Richardson

We think this cake tastes divine!  And wow, it’s just so pretty!!!

Please let me know if there is some way that I can help you get started cooking with natural yeast if you are interested. I have only scratched the surface of what there is to learn about this here, so please continue to read on the author’s blogs.  They are amazing.

Hey!  I can share a start!  (8 starts went out of my fridge last night for cooking class! Hoorah!)

Happy eating!

Love,
Jacque