Love is Love is Love

IMG_0384 (1).JPGI do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I make hourly resolutions. I couldn’t possibly store up all of my potential improvements to force them out in a year end blast. My journey is iterative and I’m forever fine tuning the workload. At this point there is also a collision between resolutions and  bucket list items. Kind of what do I need to do vs. what do I want to do, etc. Good news is it’s my set of lists and I can manage it any way that fits. So although I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I do try to take a pause to appreciate my life and the people in it at this time of year. So this  year I am going to focus on love. When I watched Lin-Manuel Miranda give his Tony speech right after the Orlando shooting, he said “love is love is love….” in reference to the respect for the people who are homosexual and were victimized by the gunman. It is a great reminder and his speech really touched me. It was a rough, emotion-filled speech/sonnet fueled by his need to acknowledge the Tony he was receiving  and yet his compulsion, his pure heart, that couldn’t pass up the forum to comment on the most recent tragedy. Something about his delivery, his body language really struck me; this man feels his words, he just doesn’t say them. It was almost as if he was holding back the words but they had to escape from his brain via his mouth. Do I have that much passion about anything? Hmm, kids maybe. I actually think my main passion at this point in my life is to try. I just want to try at being better at everything. The only way for me to achieve this is to work on what is most important, the priority, my love relationships; to which I am proud to say I have plenty. So here are some of the ones that are most precious to me and my recognition for their significance in my life and my desire to enhance them.

Sibling Love: If you have a sibling and you are lucky enough to love them and feel love in return, you get it. This person who shares the unique joint perspective of growing up in the same home and watching parents and family members influence your development, there is such a crazy bond that a quick glance over dinner can say it all. I am proud to say that the shitty relationship my sister and I had growing up, the constant fighting and comparisons have been left in our childhood home and the mutual respect and fun we share now makes up for it all. Sharing the burden of our aging parents has solidified the bond even more. Fortunately we understand our individual and collective roles in the process. My sister, luckily, like me, finds humor in the humorless. We could write a book with optional titles such as “laughing at your life when you should be crying”, “Things you never thought you would hear or should hear coming from one of your parent’s mouths”, and “Who am I and how did I get here?” As far as sibling love goes, I cannot even do justice to the sibling love between my boys. They adore each other; their relationship is very complicated, yet not. Bryan may be older by 2 years and 8 months, but chronology is not a significant player in their situation. Jason has always been a very caring and loving brother. Often other people remark about how good he is with Bryan, how helpful he is, etc.  To Jason, Bryan is just Bryan, his one and only sibling, and there since his birth. I would not say I take it for granted, because that would be untrue, but if you truly know Jason at all, it’s just who he is. His level of empathy and compassion for people, not just Bryan,  is just as much a signature trait of his, as autism is for Bryan. It’s hard coded in and that’s that. And like all sibling relationships there is ebb and flow in their bond and growing pains both literally and figuratively.

Parental Love: So you know the love I feel from my mom has changed dramatically over the last few years. I no longer have the ability to call her multiple times each day just to share something funny or get some advice. I no longer have that confidant who always had my back and thought I was the jammy jam. My mom was so reasonable and so thoughtful in her advice and she had many close long term friends who also feel the void. In later years she really helped me navigate tricky waters between my dad and my ex husband and ultimately was very supportive when I began to speak with her about my ailing marriage. She was a homemaker and not a career woman in any way and we talked about how different our lives  were and we agreed we each were programmed so differently that we could not walk each other’s path through life. My mother respected me as a woman, mother and business person. What propels me now when I see her is this need to be even better because I don’t have her to talk to. I want to show her, or really me, that I can be a “big girl” and handle things. In order for me to move forward I need to have personal goals; some very tangible and achievable and some more esoteric which manifest on the fly. Either way, I want my Mom’s legacy, for me, to be that I am that girl she loved and respected. I need to earn my way. With my Dad it’s become such an interesting change. I was always daddy’s girl and he looked at me with love and pride since childhood. Over the years there have been tons of bumps and bruises but now we are on a steady course, banded together over decisions for my mom  and forging ahead with his new and uncertain life.

Mommy love: Is there anything so great? Before you have a kid you hear about this gripping bond people feel for their children. You think it must be something special but you cannot truly conceive of it. The little angel appears and you think, “oh so this is what they were talking about!!!” Take my heart, melt it over and over again. And then when it was time for another, you think can I really love another one just as much? Yep you can and you do. My boys are my joy, my focus, my reason, my why. Their triumphs are mine and their challenges, well yep get those too. ‘Nuf said.

Bryan/Autism love: The kid knows how to work the fan club. He is a one man PR specialist for autism awareness. He loves to love and reaches out on a daily basis to friends, family, teachers, therapists, counselors, etc via facebook, facetime etc. I am truly fascinated and beyond appreciative of the warm reception he receives most of the time. Whenever talking to the recipient of these daily calls, etc. they feel special, as if contact from him is directed only at them. Who does not want to talk to someone who makes them feel special? Autism, however, is still so challenging, imagine having someone in your home who literally cannot stop talking or repeating and at the same time is so anxious the minute they sense you are not happy with them and what they are talking about. It’s the ultimate test for Jason and me on a daily basis. But somehow Bryan’s sweet goofiness, his silly inappropriate behavior more often than not forces a chuckle between us and we forge ahead. When meeting my cousins a few days ago for lunch,  I was so happy with the way they celebrated his silliness and made him feel just like he was “one of the kids”. We have tons of friends near and far that are cheering for him. No real words suffice.

Friend love: I am truly beyond lucky to have wonderful lifelong friends. My bestie  is a lifer and she is my touchstone for all things. My close inner circle of female friends are a combo of coaches, partners in crime and sisters from other misters. My close friends are not limited to women, however, I have some incomparable male friends that I adore. Some of my friends live nearby but often they are in NY, solidifying my need for quarterly visits up north. Over my years in Florida, I have made many new friends that have started out either as “autism parents” that morphed into real friends or “work colleagues” that have also become warm, true friends. What I value besides the loyalty and trustworthiness of my friends is the variety. Some friends are more advice givers, some are more just buddies for happy hour. Either way, I love observing human nature and understanding the different dynamics.  I am a very social person and I enjoy hearing other’s life stories. At this point in my life we have all lived a while and no one is without some sort of challenge, lesson, or funny anecdote which I find very captivating.

Cousins/extended family love: If you know me personally, you know my cousins are not cousins they are brothers/sisters, nephews and nieces. One of the main attractions for living in Florida was the proximity to this crazy clan and you just have to see my face when I’m with them. The depth of these relationships is personified through unending teasing, laughter and appreciation. If you go to one of our events and you left your thick skin home, well sorry Charlie, you are screwed. The need to laugh at yourself through the eyes of those you love is a great lesson. It is so freeing to know you can be yourself with a large group of people who will take you down and build you up inside of any group gathering. The link between us and our kids is one of the best parts of my life and although I tell them all of the time how much I love them, they know just by my body language displayed at any event.

Pet love: This one should be quick. Furry creatures make me happy. A curl up on the couch with a yummy dog or cat is therapeutic and warm. I love my animals, they are family and they make our lives better.

Romantic love: It is always a necessary part of life for me. I am a very affectionate person and I would like to say I have fallen in love since my divorce. I have not. I have fallen in like once or twice which is electrifying!  I have found some connections and have had fun along the way. I have learned that I am still capable of having great romantic feelings and that feels awesome. I believe real love is out there for me and I will not settle or fail to take risks to find it. No pain, no gain. Simple but true. I am totally willing to be in the game for the better of team me.

Happy 2017!


Base Camp, Everest

Last Sunday I woke up with a stomach virus, you know the drill, no visuals necessary. I also had a wrenched neck and back after volunteering on Saturday at Feed the Hungry and pretending like lifting boxes was something I do every day. The combination of my stomach, neck and back literally pushed me way way way over the edge emotionally. Get it, mind-body connection? In my case my body reacting poorly forced my mind to become unglued. If you play those mind games where they ask you to say one word to describe yourself, fortunately or unfortunately my word would be “responsible.” How lame is that? To get to 50 years old and that’s the word that comes to mind, my alternative is “capable” but that would mean I would have to think very highly of myself and my mind is not quite there this week. So when you are the responsible person and you are overwhelmed beyond belief, combined with physical discomfort, what’s the result: meltdown, that’s what happens. In my case, I would not say meltdown really, more of an implosion of sorts. I literally could not get out of my own way. You know if you cry a lot while taking lexapro you’ve reached somewhat of a milestone.everestThe doctor doubled my lexapro prescription. Better living through chemistry!

The only way I can explain how I felt was imagine you are at the bottom of Mount Everest. You know you have to get to the top or at least to the first summit so you won’t be too embarrassed. In your mind you are thinking, I’ve been climbing all of my life, I got this, I’m good. You are standing there with your fancy gear and ropes and then it starts to snow a little, no worries, I can handle snow. You climb a little more and then it starts getting super windy. Again you think, come on, I know about wind, I will just hold on a bit tighter. This is all well and good until you stop for a water break only to realize you forgot your water bottle, a completely amateur act, bullshit for novices. And then, then, what do you do? You fall back to the ground knowing in reality you cannot climb without water. I was without water all week. Loser!
I am trying to learn this week. I am trying to learn that it’s ok to have people help you when you need it. My group at work allowed me the time to unplug and regroup and I am grateful. I have also learned that when you need a break you have to take it before your life breaks you. I have this need, this drive to be productive, to get shit done, so when I don’t I feel worthless. I have learned that my boys have compassion and empathy. Bryan was very snuggly all week and he kept saying, “Mommy, you’re sick.” He kept coming over to me wherever I was and just hung out with me. Bryan has his way of letting me know that he cares. Jason gave me plenty of hugs but on Wednesday morning, when I truly felt my worst and was crying and puking at 6am and looking like hell, said to me “you look beautiful.” I see an Oscar in this kids future. Earl allowed me to freak, didn’t try to talk me out of it, didn’t try to minimize my feelings, I am not sure if he learned too or he was afraid to poke the bear. Either way he treated me with kindness and respect for the person I am and that too helped the healing process. Kindness and warmth should never be minimized.
In reading back this post as I am writing I am thinking, wow this is not about autism. Does that mean I am falsely representing my blog? Well I will offer up some autism stuff. I went to the doctor on Tuesday and let loose all of the problems and issues that had me in knots. He asked me how things were going with my son, meaning Bryan. I was able to say, without hesitation, that right now Bryan is great. He is communicating better, he is more aware, he is more engaged. He is loving school this year and is genuinely happy to go each day. When I see him making progress, I know I can make progress too.

Less Chit Chat, More Combat!!

Have you ever watched Ben 10? Cartoon Network show starring a boy, Ben, his cousin Gwen, and their grandfather, Max. They are travelling around for the summer in an RV, affectionately called the Rust Bucket, since it’s old and rusty. Ben finds a watch called the Omnitrix and it allows him to transform into 10 different ass kicking aliens. The show has been on a long time and they have had 3 or 4 series as Ben and Gwen get older. In the early days they were fighting some aliens that were threatening Earth’s survival and Ben was trying to learn info from a somewhat friendly alien while others were attacking. Gwen, in her sassy 10 year old style says to Ben, “Hey, less chit chat, more combat”. I am not sure why but that tickled me. I say that to Jason when he is dilly dallying on something or not paying attention and action is required. The young Gwen is a take charge kind of female preteen.

I am surrounded by a lot of highly motivated women who are all about action or combat. I am not sure if these women knew they had it in them, but when you have a special needs child, your inner Wonder Woman may take over. I am in awe of these women, one who is starting a school, one who has their own business whose partial proceeds go to autism awareness, another who has been a chairperson for the local autism walk, etc. They have reached beyond their motherhood to see the big picture. Change and awareness is a must and for them it’s personal. It’s the kind of get off of your butt and do it attitude that I am attracted to in friends and people. Admittedly, the slackers turn me off. It’s your kid, how much more motivation do you need??? I strive to be one of these warrior moms. I am not sure why but it is important to me that when Bryan and Jason are grown up and they are thinking about me that they think I did what needed to be done for them… and then some. I want them to know that if you make up your mind to help yourself, you can!!! No excuses.

I try to steer clear of politics in my blog although I don’t think you need to be a brain surgeon to know how I’m leaning.I do not agree 100% with what either side says or does and as many of us feel, the media circus and campaign process are a turn off. However, I just don’t get women who support Romney and Ryan. I am not partisan. I am not registered with a party. I am registered with my brain. I vote based on what I think is common sense for the issues at hand and would have no problem voting for any party if I believed in the candidate. (I kind of liked John McCain in the early part of his campaign but when he chose Sarah Palin he completely lost me). I don’t know how you can support a candidate who does not support your right to choose what you do with your body. I am not pro-abortion by any stretch of the imagination. I have had 3 miscarriages, and even when I knew the baby was not alive I had trouble with a D&C. Do you have any idea what it is like to be waiting to get a D&C and they hand you a “Certificate of fetal death” form to sign?” But to tell me I can’t do with my body what I think is right for me and for my family is preposterous in modern times. I get that some people believe that abortions are wrong and in conflict with their religious beliefs. I respect that opinion and their right to act on it, but why can’t they respect mine? Religion dictating policy is exactly why we left England in the 1700s. And who doesn’t support equal pay for women? Why not support the Lily Ledbetter Act. I just don’t understand. I am a professional woman and I work very hard. On what planet is it ok to not make the same amount of money as a male counterpart? Why would I vote for a MAN who won’t support equal pay? What truly amazes is me is the naiveté of some women that think their rights won’t go away or things won’t change. Bring back women like Susan B. Anthony who are willing to stand up and say we are valuable. If she behaved like the women in today’s world, we still wouldn’t have the right to vote. And if you have a daughter, what message do you send when you say, sorry honey, I voted for the guy who won’t allow you to choose for your body. And sorry, honey, I don’t think your work is as valuable as your brothers??? Or oops, didn’t realize the President would be selecting Supreme Court Justices that could change rights. Less chit chat, more combat.