“Do Work” with Ali!

Ali_nSomething happened to me over the last couple of months!  I lost my inspiration or confidence, or just ran out of things to share.  Life happened, the holidays came and went, and I just….stopped.

I’m realizing yet again, that sometimes you have to start doing to get momentum to kick back in.  I’ve come out of my hibernation to create more positive change in my life.

I started training with Ali Crosbie at my local gym.  His motto is “do work!” which says it all.  It began as I watched my sister-in-law train with him and make terrific changes!  In the meantime, I decided my comfortable complacency was over.  I knew that if I wanted to make the changes I was looking for, I needed to kick things into higher gear…and I needed someone to push me.

Ali is a fantastic trainer.  His generosity, knowledge, and kind spirit stand out in a world that makes me feel a bit cynical at times.  I always leave the gym feeling happy, invigorated, strong, and empowered.  He is someone who has a true love for helping and training others to reach their potential.

Ali motivates in a very positive way that makes us “be” stronger and “do” our best work.  He pays attention to details about each person he works with and tailors the exercises and type of encouragement to be uniquely effective for each of us.

Now, the reason I’m sharing this is I’ve noticed that this dramatically influences the rest of my life.  It affects how I interact with my family; when I am feeling confident, accomplished and invigorated, it just makes everything better!   When I do new things at the gym, I notice that I am more likely to try challenging things in other areas of my life.  Choosing an appropriate high school program for our son, Tyler, is top on my list and, is way out of my comfort zone.  Getting out of my own rutmaking good plans and striving to be the best person I can be is my constant focus.

How many of us make resolutions at the beginning of the new year to watch them unsuccessfully fade away?  I am guilty of this and then journey down a disappointing path of regret.  After I workout with Ali, I feel like I can tackle just about anything.  I make better decisions about what to eat, how to spend my time, and how to focus so I can follow through on my goals.

When you find someone to trust in your “circle” who is truthful and has your best interests at heart, keep them in your world.  Training with Ali helps me truly believe I can make the changes I want to my fitness level and this spills over into all other areas of my life.   It helps me tune into the “mind/body” connection.  

Belonging to my local gym is a great pleasure and privilege.  It’s a place that is part of my community where I can work out with my husband (Ali trains him, too!), my sister-in-law, and other friends.  It’s a terrific spot to make regular connections with fantastic instructors and other amazing trainers as well.  Our gym has assembled a top-notch, caring staff all around.  It’s always the place, when I get discouraged or lose motivation, that I can take a class or have a workout to get me feeling inspired again!  

With 54 years almost under my belt and a health scare a few years back, I think more about living long and well.  I want to be vital, fit and active for a lifetime!  Training with Ali, and working out at the gym definitely stacks the cards in my favor!

Of course this leads me to my Latest Fabulous Revelations to begin 2014:

  • You can always start again right where you are
  • There are generous people in the world who go above and beyond for the love of what they do
  • When there is trust and  ”give and take”, everyone wins and feels good!
  • Nothing matters more than being healthy!
  • I can make it through a series of Burpees and Boot camp activities!
  • A local, fantastic, and well-run gym is an asset to any community!

How about you?  Do you have goals for 2014 that involve your health and well-being?  Do you feel that a gym and a trainer can help you get closer to your goals?  Do you have a community gym and a community that you treasure?  As always, I would love to know!

Best to you!

Kim

 

So hard to let go

Me, not letting go of my boys many years ago

Me, not letting go of my boys many years ago

Why is it so hard to let go?

I go to yoga to sit on my mat and practice “letting go”.  I’ve read enough and believe that “clinging” to what I think I want, instead of accepting what “is” causes me to suffer.  The suffering may be slight, like watching my plans to go to Zumba be cancelled due to other obligations.  Or, it may be something bigger like learning to let go of who I think my children (and everyone else) should be.

When Tyler was first diagnosed with autism, my world completely fell apart.  I was beyond despair.  It felt like there had been a death.  My ideas and dreams of who I thought he should be were completely obliterated.  The anguish and suffering were indescribable.

I remember sitting with Tyler  in the car.  We had gone to see, after 6 months of waiting, a neurologist that our pediatrician recommended.  This was at a time, over 10 years ago, when there wasn’t The Seattle Children’s Autism Center.  In our naiveté, my husband and I thought a consultation would just be a quick visit before we came away with any sort of, well, anything.  We were completely unprepared for a diagnosis, so I was there alone.  After “the diagnosis”, the neurologist sent me away with a 1-800 phone number to call the Autism Society and wished me well.

Yeah, right.

I pulled over to the side of the road with our son blissfully buckled in his car seat.  I remember just staring out the window at nothing and feeling complete emptiness.  I was numb.  I didn’t know what to think or feel, and worst of all, I didn’t know how I felt about my son.  The label completely confused me.  Who was he?  Who would he be?  Who was I and how did I feel about him now?  Nothing was at all “right.”  Nothing was the way it was supposed to be.

I made a quick appointment with our son’s pediatrician to try to begin to understand.  I had absolutely no idea how to move forward with our lives.

We talked, and I cried; we talked some more and I sobbed.  And, after that, there was no more to say.  She couldn’t make it better.  She couldn’t make it go away.

But, she kindly shared some wisdom that I try to remember as our children grow.    The pediatrician said, “You are learning something that many of us don’t begin to understand until our children become teenagers.  Our children are not put on this earth to fulfill our dreams and wishes.  They are here for their own lives.  Our job as parents is to love them, guide them and help them have what they need to be the people they are to be.”  I understood that as “loving unconditionally”.

I know this is wisdom of the ages that should be passed along to all.  She shared this to help me begin letting go of who I thought Tyler should be.  But, I’ve had to think of this lately with our younger teenage son as well.

I loved being a good student growing up.  I valued  straight “A’s”, reading and studying.  I strongly identified with being an excellent, compliant student.  One day, our son did not have the grades I thought he should have.  I felt myself become intensely irritated and angry inside.  I wanted to control the situation, take away privileges, and just fix it the way I wanted it to be.  I was bound and determined that he would be an excellent academic student like me.  I dug a little deeper, and found that my ego and identity were completely wrapped up in his grades.  What a splash of ice water in my face!

His grades were fine.  But more importantly, he appears to be a very happy person with well-rounded likes and interests.  He is not me.  He is not my husband.  He is himself.  Our boys are themselves.

I’ve always loved rules, boundaries, identities.  And, at the same time, I notice that I push against them.  As soon as I “proclaim”, by way of  actions or words, that I am “something”,  I want to break free from that identity.  I am always delighted when I discover that someone I’ve formed an opinion about reveals unexpected facets of themselves.  It reminds me that we all are dynamic and constantly changing.  We get to be who we want to be.  We can “reinvent” ourselves if we want to call it that!

This parenting role is challenging.  Life is challenging.   I want to share my values with my children and husband, but it’s a hard walk to gently let them figure out who they want to be and enjoy what is meaningful to them.  How do we keep everyone safe when they want to venture out into the unpredictable world or play risky sports?  How do we let go of the fear that they may get hurt, or that they aren’t who we think they should be?

I know this will be an ongoing challenge in my life; to support enough for safety and to share my interests and values, if certain meaningful notes strike a chord.  But all I can do is share, not impose.  If I can practice “letting go” with each breath of how I think life should be, I may find a bit more ease.  All I have is this present moment.

 

Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • All I have is this present moment
  • When I attach my intense feelings about the way things “should be” I may suffer when they are not that way
  • Letting go over and over is difficult
  • It can be challenging to let the dearest, most beloved people in our lives, be who they want to be
  • The ultimate gift I can give my children and those who are dear to me is to let them be themselves and love them unconditionally

How about you?  Do you struggle with “letting go?”  Do you feel that things are awful if they don’t go the way you want them to go? How do you deal with this?  How do you let the ones you love and your children feel the freedom to be themselves, if you don’t agree with their choices and goals?  Can you love unconditionally?  As always, I would love to know!

Cheers and hugs,

Kim

 

 

What does SUCCESS mean for you?

Our younger son helping his older brother.  Kindness.  A mark of success.

Our younger son helping his older brother. Kindness. A mark of success.

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.”


― Bessie Anderson StanleyMore Heart Throbs Volume Two in Prose and Verse Dear to the American People And by them contributed as a Supplement to the original $10,000 Prize Book HEART THROBS

 

A motivating and encouraging friend suggested a great idea for a post!   How do we define SUCCESS?  

I love to turn to famous quotes for inspiration, and uncovered the above gem by Bessie Anderson Stanley, written at least 100 years ago.  Its simple wisdom still holds true today.

I view success on many levels, as I would imagine we all do.  There is financial success that seems to be re-defined with each chapter in life.  When I was young and single, I felt accomplished to have an entry-level job that provided benefits (health care!), make my car payment, pay my rent, stash a little into savings, and still have a bit for food, fun, and a clothing item from time to time.  I was very happy during these modest, early days on my own.

For our family today, financial success has many more facets; being prepared for the future and being able to retire and live comfortably with choices and options.  We want to be able to offer the best we can for our children, providing avenues for appropriate advanced education beyond high school for each boy.  We are challenged with how the future will look for Tyler, our son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I feel successful knowing we continue to create a life for our sons that allows them to thrive; feel safe, happy, and contribute to society in positive ways.

I also look at balancing”work and play” as a good measure of success.   It’s wonderful to have meaningful “things” and to be able to travel while enjoying sound health.  I love living in our community, in the house we have, and enjoying a very pleasant and fortunate lifestyle.  I have immense gratitude for the skills I’ve been able to acquire during my life that add to a sense of success.

I feel successful when I maintain health-promoting systems that offer the best opportunity for health and happiness.   Scott Adams of the comic strip “Dilbert” has written a terrific book called  HOW TO FAIL AT ALMOST EVERYTHING AND STILL WIN BIG.  I embrace his idea that what we do each day becomes our “system”.   Something productive that we do on a regular basis can increase our odds of happiness over the course of time.  He generally seems to support the idea that a goal is something we shoot for and then move on; a system is something we do regularly with the sound notion that it can get us  (or keep us) in a satisfying place in our lives.  He further asserts that if we see people who seem successful to us, we will notice that most of them are following “systems”, rather than simply shooting for goals.  As Emerson says, “life is a journey, not a destination.”  

Overcoming the personal struggles that are unique to each of us exemplifies success.  During my teen and young adult years when I was quite overweight and struggling with my difficulties, I did not feel at all successful.   But I always had a deep-seated sense that I would overcome my personal challenges.  I looked for support from others who could help me and still do this today.  I know in my heart, that no matter what the path of life presents, I will choose to see the glass as “half-full“.

MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, a great book by Viktor Emil Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, sums up the deepest meaning for a rich life: “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.    Maybe this really is the best measure of success in life; to always know the attitude we choose to hold in our hearts and minds.  I constantly strive to make the best choices I can in life so that I can know happiness, success, and the ability to be a helpful member of society.

And, as aways, I have my Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • Success, defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” can have multiple facets in life
  • Material things and educational opportunities can offer a snapshot of hard work and successful personal systems
  • Setting up and living “systems” can lead to happiness, and a feeling of accomplishment and success
  • Bessie Anderson Stanley’s quote, especially the words “to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded” is the best indication of a successful life to me!

How about you?  How do you define “success”?  Do you feel it has many manifestations?  Can a person “look” like a success?  Can a successful person not look “successful”?

As always, I would love to know!

 

Cheers, much success in life, and xox!

Kim

The Student is Ready…

Gautama Buddha

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

― Gautama Buddha

 I have always loved the idea of being available to what life has to teach, hard as it can be at times.   This concept goes with my understanding of the idea of “non-attachment” that I am learning to focus on during yoga classes.  As one who is always “seeking” and is an open-hearted optimist, I have to challenge myself to let life teach me to be a ready, willing “non-attached” student.
Since I started my blog, I’ve typically received very encouraging and kind comments.  I love discussion, sharing, and constructive criticism.  It’s been interesting to watch how I felt when I received a few comments that have had a tone of unkindness and non-constructive criticism.  In fact, if I was a person with consistently very high self-esteem and a thick skin, I’d just ignore this type of mean-spirited commenting.  But, I challenged myself to see beyond their words, and consider that people who speak unkindly really show their own fears and suffering.
Another concept I’ve learned in yoga is to “sit with the discomfort” (a dear friend has reminded me of this wonderful concept as well).  So, I practice that, too.  What I found is that I can tolerate discomfort and even respond in kindness and compassion to others, if I pause.  I am delighted at this emerging skill.
As a young woman growing up, I tended to be “a good girl”, fly under the radar, be nice at all times, and not challenge anyone or anything.  There are times it’s best to choose your battles, as they say.  At other times, being someone who has fears and insecurities and still shares with hope of inspiring a safe, kind and compassionate community, is the right thing to do.   At times, it’s critical to take a stand that treating others with respect and caring is a way to make the world a little bit better.
With boys in middle school, and a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder, I think about the subculture of bullying and unkindness that is unfortunately, prevalent in our society.  It’s often displayed in the media as we all know.  It truly breaks my heart to see people in such pain that they can only feel momentarily better by treating others unkindly.  I could never do that.
I recall a time long ago when we were in Maui, and I needed to have Tyler on a “tether” because he had no sense of danger and would run off; it was the only way we could go anywhere and keep him safe.  Some young people were sitting outside an ice cream spot and were laughing at us.  It broke my heart, and really pissed me off.  I couldn’t help but respond.  I mustered up every bit of self-composure I could find, and walked over and confronted them.  I let them know I knew they were laughing at us and asked them “why?”.  They all turned there heads in embarrassment except one girl who defiantly challenged me; “You have your kid on a leash.”  I took a deep breath and responded that our son had autism.  This was the only way our family could go anywhere with him and keep him safe.  I also told the group  that I hoped with all my heart that they never had to have autism in their lives.
Surprisingly, the girl who was speaking told me she had no idea and was sorry they laughed.  I wished them all well, and hoped that maybe in the future, they might pause, take a moment to step into someone else’s shoes to try and understand another.
Rather than shut down and run from the unkindness in the world and as one who will always be optimistic about the inherent good in people, I continue writing my humble blog, sharing my insecurities, thoughts and musings in the spirit of connecting with others.  I always want to live a life based on kindness and compassion for all others, as well as myself.
As always, I’ve learned some Latest Fabulous Revelations:
  • When people are unkind to others, they are showing how they feel about themselves
  • Fear takes the appearance of unkindness
  • People can change
  • I will always practice honesty, authenticity, kindness, and compassion
  • I value this life and all that it has to teach me, the easy and the difficult
  • I am always a willing student….

 

How about you?  How do you feel when you are the recipient of mean-spiritedness?  Can you sit with the discomfort?  Do you shut down or can you watch your feelings and just see what happens for yourself?

I wish you all well and a “kind-spirited” Halloween!

 

Cheers and xox!

Kim

Birthdays and High Schools

 

Tyler on a fun, school adventure

Tyler on a fun, school adventure

 

“Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.” 
― Mitch Albom

Tyler, our oldest, just turned 15 years old.

Did I blink and this happened?

I can’t help but become reflective (as I tend to do anyway) when our boys’ birthdays roll around.  And, this year, in particular, there are many changes coming.    Tyler, who has been in our caring school community, will need to move from this comforting and familiar place to start at a new high school.  Our district is special and unique; it is too small for its own high school, but just the right size for our children to thrive and not fall through the cracks of anonymity.  For a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, this is a wonderful thing.

Until it’s time to leave.

Our team met this week to plan Tyler’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that will transition him to a high school.  Even though it hasn’t been always the smoothest ride (life with Tyler has not been a smooth ride) this District knows us well and feels very comfortable, supportive, and a bit like an extended family.  It is a remarkable community from the students to all the educators, and particularly, his teachers.  They put heart and soul into educating our son.

What will the next school be like?  Will they care about him somewhere else?  Will students and faculty be kind to him?

I feel comfortable enough with our team that I can share my thoughts.  I told them that out of fear, I have buried my head in the sand, and haven’t thought about transitioning much at all.  My husband and I haven’t begun to talk about what we want for Tyler and what an enriching program for him would look like.  I wonder if schools even want to have our son, or is it something they know they just have to do?  So many worried and anxious thoughts buzz around in my busy brain.

And then, I remember that my mother, who was a Special Education teacher, was passionate about all the children she taught, just as Tyler’s teachers feel about him.  I have to remind myself that people who choose to work in this field do so because they care very much about children like Tyler and want them to have the best they can give.

I still can’t believe our once very active, very little boy is now a 15-year-old.

I was completely touched to know that so many students at his school wanted to come to Tyler’s lunchtime school birthday celebration.  Even our younger 7th grade son headed down to Tyler’s class to help celebrate!  This is a huge milestone for us; for many years, because of Tyler’s difficult behaviors, it was too hard for our younger son to take part.  I am incredibly proud of both of our boys for changing and growing and not staying locked to the past.  They have been able to redefine their relationship as brothers.

For now, we just celebrate this birthday!  We went to Mosby’s Pumpkin Patch, shopped for Halloween costumes, had dinner out and about, and enjoyed time with part of Tyler’s supporting team and friends.  It is cause for celebration.  Many years were very hard and I felt deep sadness when I watched the way other families could have “typical” birthday parties.  Now, I don’t feel that same pain; I just enjoy the fun and all the dear people who love and celebrate our boys.

Which leads me to my Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • “The days are long but the years are short.”  -  Gretchen Rubin
  • If I continue to share honestly my thoughts and concerns, then people can help me address them
  • There will be other caring educators, students, and a high school that will teach our son(s)
  • Kind people are everywhere; I don’t need to be afraid that I will be alone
  • As long as you have community, it doesn’t matter what it “looks” like
  • My boys can change and grow, and so can I

 

How do you feel about the passing of the years and your children growing up?  Do you have fears that you avoid even thinking about?  What happens if you put your true fears out there?  Can you meet and accept change as part of life?  How do you just get comfortable with it?

As always, I would really love to know!

 

Cheers and xox!

Kim

Costume fun

Costume fun

“How’s that working for you?”

 

Images of a crisp October day

A Crisp October Day

 

“It’s never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels. 

Geneen Roth Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

 

I meet periodically with Kimberly Mathai, MS, RD, CDE.  I discovered her when I was looking for a nutritionist to help us with food/eating/nutrition strategies for Tyler, and now she helps with ideas for the whole family.

Feeling a bit “stuck” lately, I asked for an extra-long appointment.  I made my way up to her office in the Northgate area, admiring the beautiful scenery on this crisp, autumn day.  I always feel nostalgic when I see the University of Washington.  Meeting up at her office, I get right to the point of my ongoing frustrations.

I have some habits that are not serving me well.  I want to make manageable, but effective changes that will help me stay on a trend of health, vitality, and well-being.  As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to be a vibrant centenarian!

We chatted about strategies and I told her what I had been doing (and not doing).  She asked very kindly, but with a slight smile in her eyes, “How’s that been working for you?”  I literally laughed out loud!  What a fantastic way for me to answer my own questions!  I loved the objective nature of this concept; it was non-judgmental, simple, and got right to the heart of things.

Kimberly is a phenomenal resource.  She is an author on the cutting edge of current research about health and nutrition, with a newly updated book about to be published.  She is objective, research-based, with vast insight and knowledge into nutrition, eating and food issues.  She can help you “right where you are” and always makes you feel empowered.  She deftly incorporates preferences, as well as family and personal goals.  She helps me deal with many deep-seated eating struggles that go back to my teens.

Currently, I find myself in a constructive state of mind.  As one who often defaults to “black or white” thinking about eating and exercising, I am challenging myself to see shades of grey.  For instance, I banned bread from my diet (adopting the current trend), only to feel unhappy and then choose crummy alternatives like gummy bears and “cheese it” crackers.  When did whole wheat bread become a terrible thing?  I am happy to say, much like the slender Parisians I admired this summer, I’ve added back a bit of tasty bread into my diet to the delight of my soul.  Just a simple adaptation like this makes me swoon with joy.  But why did I need “an authority” to tell me it was okay to eat bread?

Kimberly is also helping me understand that foods and choices are not either “all bad” or “all good.”  Sometimes I need to make “the best choice” at the time and that could be a sandwich from a convenience place instead of not eating, or grabbing junk food.  I let myself get stumped by trying to only have the “perfect” food,when a next best choice is the only option.  I will often end up not eating and then become so ravenous that  ”cheese-its”, fish crackers, gummy bears, and chocolate almond squares become my mid-afternoon meal.

While I am aware that my weight is in the acceptable BMI range, by dropping 5 to 10 pounds, I make changes to my health profile that are quite significant.  This idea fascinates me!  Since our meeting, I have been eating “enough”, at appropriate intervals, and keeping track on myfitnesspal.com.  Additionally, I have become more aware (yet again) of the health benefits that just 3 times a week of strength training, 30 minutes a day of walking (or other moving/aerobic activity) add to my overall well-being!  (Yes, I do sometimes need it repeated an infinite number of times to truly grasp these simple, obvious concepts!  It doesn’t need to be “all or nothing”!)

Key for me is removing the  ”all bad” or “all good” label to what I eat as well as what I do.  Instead, I am trying to practice a mindful, objective way of stepping back and asking myself, “How’s this working for me?”

Simple, but not easy!

Which, of course, leads me to today’s Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • Simple concepts are not always easy to do
  • Shades of grey can be harder to see than black and white
  • Sometimes the best decision is the BEST decision at the time
  • Skipping meals is not a smart weight loss strategy!
  • Not eating is not a smart weight loss strategy!
  • Regular, pleasant exercise (not “all or nothing” strategies!) is actually manageable!
  • Attending regular yoga classes helps me practice being present and mindful and not reacting, but responding to situations
  • Even reading while on the elliptical counts for daily moving
  • I will forever be a “work in progress” and I am eternally grateful for the community I have who supports me in this life
  • I will forever be grateful for the opportunities I have to process these ideas over and over and over and over…..
  • Asking myself “how’s this working for me?” is an objective way to decide how to go ahead with anything

 

How about you?  Do you have a way to check in with yourself to see how things are going and how you are progressing along your life paths?  Do you have checks and balances?  Do you have habits, patterns, “black and white” thinking?  Can you see shades of grey?

As always, I’d love to know!

Cheers and xox!

Kim

 

imperfection

IMG_3863

 

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame,judgment, and blame.”
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

“The real questions for parents should be: “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention? “. If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.”
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

 

I started writing about my life with autism to help me figure out how to find peace and contentment.

I notice that I am always searching for something to fill a place in my soul.  (Oh dear…getting lofty…not meaning to).  I look to fill that spot with somethings (the “right” clothes?  the “right” food?  the “right” exercise?  the most “perfect” way to be?) but the seeking never ends.

This is not to say I’m unhappy!  I love my life, my husband, children, work, job, home, house, lifestyle, friends, my curiosity…I am an eternal optimist!  I believe the glass is half-full and when you connect with others in a truly honest way, life is incredibly rich.

But, it still doesn’t seem to be “enough” to sustain me.   I know that only we can fulfill ourselves; it’s not the job of our children, spouses, friends, family, or things to make us happy.  I wonder what elusive perfection I am looking for?  Do I allow myself too much time (when I could be doing practical things like grocery shopping, preparing good food for my family, etc.) to “over-think” everything?

After writing my post about the Autism Success I had the other day with Tyler, I was humbly touched at the warm responses I received from so many kind people in my community and beyond.

It made me think about my life.

I really wanted to be someone who had a different life than the one I live.  I wanted to be someone who was known and admired for creative or intellectual abilities and have the “successful job” that showed I could be a financial success.   I didn’t want to have autism as my “lot in life.”

As soon as I had both of our children, I knew I wanted to give every ounce of myself to my family.  And, when Tyler’s autism became painfully obvious, I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to help him, fix it, rescue our family, save him.  I love being “that mom” and “that wife”, knowing I would do anything for the well-being of my family.  But I was also feeling resentful that it took all of my energy and focus and it was never enough to make everything right.  Selfishly, I felt lost in the shuffle and then felt very guilty for feeling that way.  I wanted to be it all; perfect mom, perfect wife, perfectly fit Kim, perfect eater, perfect friend, perfect, perfect, perfect…..  Really hard to be perfect.

I try then to understand why I feel this need for perfection and why I constantly have the need for outside approval?  Is it something that I put on myself?  Is it really necessary for me to understand and spend the energy learning why?  Or, is it enough to try not think about it and just “do good work?”  I don’t think there will ever be a great epiphany, or “aha” moment.  I’m hoping for a gradual removal of the veil of elusive perfection that hides authentic contentment.

I think back to the other day of taking the boys to the doctor.  I tried to be mindful of all that I said and did.  I saw that my husband misunderstood the plans and wanted to help on that day and time, but was unable to arrange it.  I watched my old habits kick in.  I saw myself feel angry, very resentful and scared, wanting to immediately leave the moment, and “punish” with sulking silence.

I am sooooooo tired of doing things the same way that I always do.  I was tired of the pattern of feeling angry and resentful because I was scared.   I knew my husband wanted to be the support I needed that day.  So, I stayed and challenged myself not to do what I always do; I was honest with him.  I said, “I’m afraid, but it will either work or it won’t and I’ll just do what needs to be done at the time.”  Whew!  That sent things into a whole new direction.  There was kindness and no defensiveness from either of us.

I long to be “a success” in all that I do.  I often worry that in some way Griffin will be “scarred” as a young man by all that he has to deal with in this life with autism.  I worry that he will carry the same burdens that I put on myself from childhood.  I continue to be tired of the effects, for whatever reason, that I still feel from growing up with a brother who has developmental disabilities.  I know my family did an amazing job; there were so many kind people around us in our community, and we all have grown into mature adults.  And still, that young person that I was, with her frustration at being overweight and always wanting to be perfect, good, and nice, still “hangs out” with me.

I read books or at least download them like crazy on my iPad.  I just discovered Brene Brown, and her books including Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) and have these all downloaded.   I have my Eat To Live books and recipes by Dr. Joel Fuhrman downloaded.  While I am excited and invigorated with my new reads, I know I will not be able to “perfectly” live  up to my expectations.  And then, as excited as I am at the hope of new answers, I think, “Am I someone who will feel compelled to read “self-help” books in an endless seeking quest, my whole life?”  It makes me shudder…….

I love the sharing and connection I get by telling my stories and having thoughtful people respond back.  I am always deeply touched when someone says kind things about the way our family lives and manages.  While I am humbly honored at these words,  I don’t feel worthy at all.  I never wanted autism in my life or any developmental disability.  I am grateful to somehow have the drive, skills, and resources to help us find the path where we have support and understanding.  Anyone would do whatever they could for their family to thrive; I know this is true.

I struggle with the heartache and sadness I feel knowing that Tyler will live with the lifelong effects of autism.  I have profound sadness that I don’t believe he will experience life in the ways I dreamed he would.  I also deal with my own feelings of isolation and pretending I am not self-conscious when Tyler behaves uniquely.

I am trying to “sit with the discomfort” of imperfection and see that I can make it through.

I do have some Latest Humble Revelations that have come from these thoughts:

  • Striving for perfection is ultimately discouraging
  • Striving for perfection is not a happy lifetime pursuit and goal
  • Sharing with others my “life with autism” helps me in infinite ways
  • I will always want to understand who I am so I can better understand where I am going
  • Community, support, friends, love and understanding point me in a positive direction
  • I will always work to be mindful, live in the present, and try to make the best choices I can
  • I will try to know peace more than perfection

How about you?  Do you struggle with feeling disappointment at not being “perfect”?  How do you deal with this?  How do you sort all of this out?

As always, I would love to know!

Cheers and xox

Kim

 

Autism Successes!

 

The boys and I had a huge “autism success” yesterday!

Both Tyler (our almost 15-year-old who has autism) and Griffin, (our “typical” 13-year-old) needed to get a couple of shots at their doctor’s office.  We’ve had a rough and difficult history, not only of going places, but especially going to the physician.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I took them together, by myself .  And, most definitely, I cannot recall the last time I took Tyler, without any support, to the doctor’s office at all!

With the wonderful support we are fortunate to receive that helps Tyler learn to manage his difficult autism behaviors and inability to communicate verbally, Tyler has gone from someone who Griffin and I felt anxious to be with in public, to one who can stay calm and appropriate often.  He used to run, climb, scratch and bite others; it was impossible for me to take him anywhere.  As I’ve explained in an earlier post, Griffin and I were often on the receiving end of his bites and scratches and occasionally he would have aggressive behavior toward others.  We always stay guarded from this history, but are willing to allow Tyler to show his growth, too!

As plans sometimes change, my “supports” were not able to accompany me to the doctor’s office .  (I did give very short notice!)

I thought long and hard about it.  I wanted to cancel, but we were under a deadline…

Could I do this myself?

Old fears kicked right in.

I decided, for both Griffin and me, that we would do it.

I explained to Tyler that we were going to the doctor’s office, that he and Griffin would be getting a shot in the arm, it would hurt for a moment, and then we would go get a “treat” and head to school.  He appeared to listen to me and watch my eyes as I talked.  I always wonder about the extent of his understanding when I talk to him.  In the past, I am ashamed to say I would not have even explained, assuming he would not understand.  I am now taking a new approach believing that he is able to understand much more than I know.

We got to the office, and Griffin and I made it “as fun” as possible (Griffin was feeling pretty apprehensive himself, over the whole “shots” thing) for Tyler.  We let him push the elevator buttons (a preferred activity!), and talked about the “cake pops” at Starbucks we would have after the visit.

Sitting in the waiting room, Tyler pulled out his iPad and used his communication program to say “I need to go to the bathroom.”  This, too, is such remarkable progress for him!  After this, we waited some more.  I watched and complimented him for how well he was waiting, since this has always been extremely challenging for him.

As we headed back with the petite nurse, my mind wondered whether she could handle Tyler, whether Tyler could handle this, and what would come of it?  I had angst-ridden visions of Tyler biting, running, screaming, or making some sort of horrific scene.  I tried very hard to “sit with the discomfort” and allow him to prove me wrong.  I believe Griffin was cautiously thinking many of the same things, too.

To our great relief, Tyler did beautifully.  He ran quickly past the room they directed us to (I believe he remembered long ago that he had gotten a shot there) and the nurse kindly allowed us to change to another room.  More waiting, but no “drama” at all.

It is amazing watching Tyler, who has no ability to lie, pretend, or act like someone he is not, process situations.  He looked at the needles and shots that the nurses had and his eyes opened wide.  ”Here it comes,” I thought, waiting for a run or a yell.  He was not at all happy and I could see trepidation in his eyes, but he “sat with the discomfort” and finally allowed this very petite woman to give him two quick shots.  Not a tear was shed, but he looked at it and understood she would apply a band-aid.  He touched the area and I asked, “Does that hurt?”  He echoed “hurt” as I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him!

You would think the story ends here.

I have found, in a family like ours where Tyler’s autism over-shadows everything, that the people without the unique needs (in this case, Griffin) can be overlooked at times.  I was so happy and relieved that Tyler handled the shots well, that I forgot to see that Griffin was looking at me to support him, too.  I felt truly inadequate as a mother, that I needed the look in his eyes to remind me he was there, too.  Life is always there to humble me!

We left feeling very successful, I am thrilled to say!  Everyone received their “treats” and I was able to move past an ancient fear, this time.

This is not to say I won’t feel great anxiety again when we have to make a visit to the doctor.  In fact, I wonder even now if Tyler has filed away in his mind, that place and the hurt of the shot, to recall at a future time.  But, I will celebrate this success, and not worry about the future for now.

Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • People with autism can grow, mature, and make wonderful progress
  • People without autism can grow, mature, and make wonderful progress, too!
  • It is always good to “be in the moment” and “sit with discomfort” at times
  • Sometimes I can be pleasantly surprised at the skills my children have and the kindness of others
  • The promise of a “treat” can also get all of us through the tough stuff!

I am just so delighted to share my successes!  It has been such a long and difficult journey.  There are no guarantees for the road ahead, but each success is a celebration!

How about you?  Do you find that people will exceed your expectations, to your great joy as well?

Cheers and xox!

Kim

 

 

 

 

Sonja, Beautiful Clothes, and Frozen Yogurt Bliss

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Welcoming Sonja!

 

When you visit Sonja, she welcomes you into her shop(s) and offers you a wonderful cup of coffee or tea.  She listens intently as she invites  meaningful, friendly conversation.  She loves to build community.

I met Sonja about 10 years ago while I was working at the Bobbi Brown Counter at Nordstrom, and she was browsing at another cosmetic line.  While I offered her help, she was curious to know about Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and why I adored them.  I loved her interest, and wanted to share my passion for the line.  Sonja found a fabulous red lip color that day, and we each found a new friend!

It’s rare that you connect with someone, lose touch for a bit, and then pick up years later right where you left off.  Sonja moved her store to the wonderful Proctor District in North Tacoma, and added a simply divine yogurt shop during the years that I had to deal with breast cancer and Tyler’s extremely difficult autism behaviors.  I didn’t make time to come for visits, although it would have been a welcome breath of fresh air.

Sonja has two shops; the front of this quaint cottage is Proctor Frozen Yogurt, which truly has the tastiest yogurt I have ever had in my life!  (I will make the drive from Lake Tapps to have this on a regular basis!)  When I was there (twice in the last week) I had a cup filled with Salted Caramel, Milky Chocolate, and Creamy Vanilla.  I added real caramel sauce, bits of roasted sea salt, tiny slices of dark chocolate, and a touch of toasted coconut.  Beyond heavenly!!!

In the back, she has a charming clothing boutique, Sonja – Clothes to live in, right near the Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District of North Tacoma.  I feel as if I’m transported to a lovely Parisienne’s vast boudoir.  The walls are painted the palest pink, and there are intriguing objects to admire in every corner and on each wall; a quote by Collette, a hanging photo of Coco Chanel, children’s drawings to Sonja, notes from her beautiful daughter, Emy, and plenty of girlish trinkets beckon you into this unique space.

Sonja sets you free to “play” and dress up, as you like.  For those of us who love advice and ideas (especially from great creative sorts), Sonja will help you choose fun things to try on.  She has a useful mix of great, comfortable basics, along with eclectic pieces to fit different moods.  I found several fabulous additions for my closet, along with my most treasured item…a handmade Sonja necklace!  Yes, Sonja makes jewelry, too!  We shared our love of all things Parisian (she recently made a trip and picked up buttons, bits, antique-y key chain pieces and old baubles) and I found a necklace to treasure always.  Made of pieces from Paris, hearts and charms from her travels and quirky antique shops, my unique necklace will not only remind me of Paris, but of the delighted feeling I get whenever I visit Sonja’s shops.

Sonja said something the first day I met her, so many years ago, that has never left my mind, and truly influenced my outlook on life.  “I love to build community.”  When I asked her about her shop she said this with such warmth and invitation, that I have remembered it always.  I reflect on this regularly, in light of understanding that we all thrive when we have our own “community” to support us.  It has resonated with me during the toughest “Tyler” years and during my breast cancer recovery.

On a particularly spectacular Saturday during the Proctor Chocolate Fest, Sonja’s shops were a hub of comfortable friendship and connection.  People gravitate to her warmth, hospitality, and creative ways.  Danielle Dunlap had a display of her gorgeous handmade silver jewelry and color-saturated warm, wooly infinity scarves.  Visitors came and went, shopping for jewelry, clothes, and, of course, dining on frozen yogurt.  Everyone seemed to know Sonja and Danielle, and the conversation was genial and good-natured.  I lingered for a couple of hours, just wanting to be part of this “Gritty Tacoman” community!

Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • Shopping at Sonja’s for yogurt, clothing, or jewelry is a visit with a warm and welcoming community builder
  • Kindness and generosity know no bounds; Sonja sends you around the neighborhood to check out the other local shops
  • I can revisit Paris in my mind at Sonja’s
  • She has the best coffee and frozen yogurt I’ve ever tasted
  • A friendship can endure and grow even when it’s been on “hiatus”
  • “Building community” is magical

 

When you have the opportunity (or make the opportunity!) to go to the Proctor District in Tacoma, Washington, stop by Sonja – clothes to live in and Proctor Frozen Yogurt.  It will put a smile on your face and warm your soul as you visit with Sonja Silver, one Gritty Tacoman with a heart of gold!

Support your local shops everywhere!  It’s such a great feeling and I am certainly encouraged to do more; build community!

Cheers and xox!

Kim

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The front of Sonja’s “cottage” — Proctor Frozen Yogurt and Sonja – clothes to live in. You can take a seat on the front porch and enjoy your visit!

 

Sonja and Danielle; jewelry extraordinaire!

Sonja and Danielle; jewelry and community

 

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Lovely Sonja jewelry, carefully displayed for the Proctor Chocolate Fest Event

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Danielle Dunlap’s gorgeous silver, handmade jewelry and color-rich infinity scarves. A cozy assortment of Sonja’s sweaters and more from the shop.

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I was captivated by Sonja’s trinkets from Paris and antique spots; what inspiration for her beautiful jewelry creations!

 

A fabulous picture of Coco Chanel, hanging on a wall in Sonja- clothes to live in

A fabulous picture of Coco Chanel, hanging on a wall in Sonja- clothes to live in

 

Love this!  One of Sonja's cherished pictures.  Such inspiration!

Love this! One of Sonja’s cherished pictures. Such inspiration!

 

Love this quote that casually hangs on a wall by Collette

Love this quote that casually hangs on a wall

 

A wall of the Proctor Frozen Yogurt shop; drawings from appreciative children, a meaningful quote

A wall of the Proctor Frozen Yogurt shop; drawings from appreciative children, a meaningful quote by Wilferd Peterson

 

Step into the lovely pale pink backroom that is Sonja - clothes to live in

Step into the lovely pale pink backroom that is Sonja – clothes to live in

 

A peek from the yogurt shop to the clothing spot in the back

A peek from the yogurt shop to the clothing spot in the back

 

A playful chandelier illuminates

A playful chandelier illuminates

 

 

Sonja!

Sonja!

 

My beloved necklace, made by Sonja with baubles from Paris!

My beloved necklace, made by Sonja with baubles from Paris!

 

Sonja creating

Sonja creating

 

A quiet spot out back, for conversation, coffee, tea, or frozen yogurt

A quiet spot out back, for conversation, coffee, tea, or frozen yogurt

 

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Connections (and calories!)

 

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“Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone.”

― Rebecca SolnitThe Faraway Nearby

 

“Gone are the days when meals were moments of connection and conversation; now it’s all about consumption and calories.”

― Mary DeTurris Poust

 

I stumbled onto these quotes, looking for words about connecting with others.

 

These words express my thoughts about blogging, writing, connecting, (and those ever-present eating struggles) especially with the internet and dieting in mind.

I’ve never been a “joiner” and I tend to worry about all sorts of things that are unlikely to happen.  So, putting myself out into the wide open internet has been a cautious, careful journey for me.  I swing back and forth on Facebook, for instance, from being nonexistent to being everywhere.

I’m trying to set aside worry and fear as much as possible.  I don’t know if this completely developed out of feeling guarded over our son with autism and a brother with developmental challenges, or if it’s just me. The sad thing is, I believe it limits me from all sorts of positive connections.  Maybe I am always “safe” but, as I continue to learn, there are great, supportive, wonderful people in the world.

I jumped back onto myfitnesspal.com with a different approach to achieving my “goals”.  First, I redefined my goals, thanks to some helpful comments on my little blog (I love the constructive feedback!) that got me asking myself what I really wanted.  Did I want “a number” on the scale?  Or, did I want to be practicing good, health-promoting habits?

I have been fixated on a number for so long…in fact, many numbers; clothes sizes, scale numbers.  But, am I a number?  Really?  Or, do I want to feel vital, energetic, and healthy?

Also along these lines, I sought out like-minded, seemingly kind and supportive “friends” on myfitnesspal, and I have been incredibly delighted at the outcomes so far!  Not only do I feel accountable (just like I do with my blog, “saying to no one and to everyone” the things I want to express) but I feel a friendly connection.  It’s helped me stick to my plans and goals so far.  (That was another helpful comment; to focus on achievable goal setting.  I like this notion of framing things in the positive!)

Latest Fabulous Revelations:

  • Kind and helpful people really are everywhere
  • The world is not entirely a scary place
  • Trusting myself for doing what I know works and is right for me, is the best way to go for sustaining success
  • Setting goals that are actually achievable is a positive thing
  • Paying attention to how I feel is better than just fixating on numbers
  • I am finding a lot of great inspiration on the internet as well as from my community, family, and friends.

How about you?  Do you shy away from meeting new people and trying new approaches to solving old problems?  Do you find it hard to change and do things differently?  Can you look at the world from a different perspective?

I would love to know your thoughts!

Cheers and xox!

Kim