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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Made it to the Mat


I come down the stairs this morning on my way to yoga when I notice the sink full of dishes. Blue was supposed to have cleaned them last night.

After having my supposedly, professional, surface-cleaning crew clean the kitchen yesterday, I can't tell you how happy I was when Blue decided to make homemade cookies last night at 10 p.m. (I call them surface cleaners because last week after they left, I changed a room around and ended up vacuuming up a ton of dust from places they apparently have never seen.

I look at Blue like he has three heads. He told me the dishes were clean last night. He appears to be sticking to his story despite the evidence. It's kind of like the current President of the United States, who expects us not to believe what we actually see with our own eyes and hear coming out of his mouth. 
"The dishes are clean," he insists. 

They are nowhere near clean. They are piled one on top of the other. There are remnants of cookie dough, sugar, and flour on everything, including the kitchen floor. 

"But I used hot soapy water," he says.

I left him with hot soapy water in the sink before I went to bed so that he wouldn't attempt to use cold water and no soap because no one was watching. 
"You didn't wash them thoroughly or there wouldn't still be food on them. And then you piled dirty dishes on top of ones that are supposed to be clean. Clean dishes that have been washed go in the drainer after being rinsed with hot water, so that they can dry. Cleaning the kitchen means clearing the sink ...entirely." 

From there, I start getting caught up in showing him how to do it correctly ...again. 

We're going back and forth when my mom chimes in, interrupting us. "You know Blue, your father is going to notice those cookie crumbs on the kitchen table when he comes down to have his coffee." 

Seriously mom? You have to interrupt us to mention crumbs when I'm already trying to get him to do dishes he doesn't want to do. You need to add your two-cents right at this moment?  Insert massive eye-roll here. Help me, Jesus. 

After all the years she has lived here, she still doesn't get that it's hard enough to discipline or correct him, but to have more than one person correcting him at the same time, is what can make him blow a gasket.

In autism, over the years I have found that everything is worse with an audience, especially with audience participation. 

I know that he needs money for the day. There will be a negotiation for how much because he has several stops to make. He has to take the train. He doesn't have a student pass for the summer. I don't want to discuss this in front of Mom. I ask him to meet me in the garage. This is how I have to live my life. Always the secret meetings behind closed doors. Always, explaining and compensating for the behavior of others. 

I am tired of giving him money. I am tired of negotiating over money. I am tired of micro-managing his spending. I am tired of justifying the money I have given him to his father who always blows a gasket and second-guesses me. 

Blue worked a five-week internship this summer through Texas Workforce/Vocational Rehabilitation's Earn and Learn program. He blew through that money faster than my head could spin. He still has one more check coming. Thank God! Not that it will last any significant amount of time. 

Half-heartedly, I pull out of the driveway and around the corner. I get to the stop sign at the end of the block. I make a u-turn back towards the house. I decide not to pull in front. I pull up on the side. I don't want anyone in my family to see me contemplating. I spend a lot of my time contemplating. It's a whole thing in my day. I should put it on my calendar.

Should I take him to the train station? 
It's going to cost at least ten dollars for him to get there. 
I could just take him and save that money.
Alan's always bitching about how much Uber money he spends. 
I really want my frappuccino before class. I haven't had one in three whole days. 
(I've been addicted to them this summer. They have been my guilty pleasure.)  
If I take him to the station I could go to the other Panera, grab my frappuccino and probably make it back to class on time. 
Nope! 
I'll be cutting it too close and I'll end up missing class.
f*#% that. 
I missed class last week. 
I need this today. 
Why am I sitting here negotiating my own self-care? 
You don't do that much for yourself, Karen. 
Remember last night at the grocery store? You felt like you were ready to jump out of your own skin, while Blue shopped with the speed of a turtle with only 3 legs. You wanted to run away and change your name? It was like you just couldn't do one more damn thing for another ungrateful human.  Like you need a vacation ...yesterday. And today, you're negotiating yoga time?  What is wrong with you? 
Fennis in Maui
Owner/Instructor
Flow Yoga, Cedar Park TX

Thirty minutes and one frappuccino later, I'm in some version of twisted root pose on my mat when Suzette the instructor, comes over to ask if she can help adjust me into the pose correctly.

"Would you like a blanket to prop your shoulder?" she asks in the softest, most kind, voice. 
Soothing yoga music is playing softly and my heart melts a little.
She props my shoulder onto the blanket. I want to cry real tears.

I'm here. 
It's so nice to have someone checking on ME, asking what I need. 

In this moment I am so thankful that I decided to walk away from the madness.
Well, I drove away, but I made it to Yin class.
I put myself first. 

The usual Yin class instructor who I really dig is in Hawaii on vacation. That may have had something to do with my hesitation.

I will not mention how I wish that I was there in Maui ...with her or instead of her.  I won't call her any ungodly names, out loud.  I love the beautiful pictures on Instagram of her doing yoga poses on the beach in front of the bluest ocean I've have not personally seen this summer. I certainly will not mention any envy over her sculpted, lean, yoga body, and the fact that she has carried children more recently than I have. Nope. Jealousy is not a part of my vocabulary. 

Before class, I thought maybe I wouldn't appreciate the practice as much as I do when Fennis teaches. I was wrong. Suzette was great.  

After savasana, she guided us to thank ourselves for making it to our mats this morning.

I am truly thankful. Today I chose me.  

Namaste. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By the way...I am happy to announce that my blog made the Top 30 Autism Parenting Blogs on Blog Feedspot for 2018.  Check out the hyperlink to see some of my homies who also made this list. 



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Liberating and Anomalous

Every smile you see from me, there is work that goes into making it happen. Sometimes when I look back at pictures, I can’t believe how many smiles I’ve managed over the years.
When I say my smiles take work, I mean therapy. I mean a concerted effort. I mean juggling responsibility and obligations to the adult humans in my life. I mean deflecting incessant phone calls long enough to actually enjoy an adult activity, without stopping to save the world. 
What's your superpower?  

Everything these two sons of mine need from me is urgent and according to them, should be my first priority. My smiles and happiness are not on their list of important things in life. I have to be vigilant to make them a priority in my own life. For a long time, I forgot to do that.

So, if you see me out on a date with my husband, traveling or having a cocktail with my girlfriends, you can bet your ass, it took a lot of work to make it happen.

I’m working intently to not be depressed this summer. I have written about my Summer Sadness many times over the years. Going to therapy is often the highlight of my week. (How sad is that?) It may be the only day that another human actually sees me, hears me and validates my thoughts, feelings, and desire for happiness.  

When you spend most of your time around crazy, needy, people you can start to doubt that you are entitled to happiness and self-fulfillment.  My children always have one issue or another problem. They repeatedly tell me 'everything is my fault.' I know it isn't true. Or is it?  After a while, I start to wonder what is fact and what is fiction?

(Please don't be offended by me calling my family members crazy and needy. I consider myself to be every bit as crazy as they are. My husband would probably also describe me as needy, or at the very least, uniquely high-maintenance. Or be offended. That's okay too.)

Summer is often a trigger for my depression for a number of reasons. The number one reason one being the Texas heat. This third week of July the temperatures will hover over the hundred-degree mark every single day. I got a serious attitude when I read the forecast a couple of days ago. I started cursing inside my head. I do that a lot. This sun is intense like no sun I’ve ever felt anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun. I would just prefer it to come along with an ocean breeze, not mosquitos.

In Texas, during the summer if you are shopping or running errands when you come back to your car you will feel like you have been assaulted. You will want to run home to your air-conditioned house, and vow never to leave again until the fall. Except in my case, you have to leave the house. I can’t spend too much concentrated time in my own home with my family. I love them. I also need space from them. I take care of them. It is a big part of my job in life. If I want real time-off ...home is not the most opportune place to get it.

This summer the boys are 19 and 22. They are both working. This is Blue’s second try at having a job. Kendal now works full-time however, he is going through a transition to another city, living with his brother. Apparently, his part-time job is calling to argue about anything and everything. Our conversations may start out pleasant, but they can go left pretty quickly. It’s almost like he still needs this fix of someone to argue with every day. Oppositional Defiance much?  

The thing we talk about most is his plans for the future. The conversation is the same one we've been having for over a year. Sometimes, he takes a different route to get to the same destination, but we always end up at the point of frustration. I can't tell you how much I look forward to it every.single.day.

Holding the boundary on his phone calls is an energy drain. I set the boundary of only one-call a-day, in the evening when he gets home from work. He works overtime to cross that boundary. It is exhausting. But hey! At least he’s not popping into my house for these extended conversations, and by conversations, I mean circular arguments that don't go anywhere. So there's that.

This summer, I continue letting go, trying not be weighed down by every factor in the boy's lives of which I have no control. They are making progress. In my head, I know that I have to accept their rate of growth and the adult choices that they are making or not making. That doesn’t stop my heart from wanting more for them.  I mean honestly, what good does it do to worry about all of these things I have no control over?

Well, whoever said that anxiety is rational?

Just let them wing it, right? How can I leave everything up to them when they are facing challenges that most people don't have to face? They are autistic adults who have trouble with executive functioning. Depression and anxiety and feeling overwhelmed is also a factor. Anxiety alone can completely shut your entire system down. I don't care how smart you are.  I'm not autistic, but I believe I do have issues with ADHD and anxiety. There are times that I feel incapacitated by fear. I've had a lot of years to work through it and find ways to compensate for it. Their adult lives are only just beginning.

Blue is growing but at the pace of a turtle race. If I just sit back and continue to watch him flail, the longer he will be here in my house. And literally, the more money we as his parents will spend supporting him and his education. We have to come up with an exit plan. The biggest growth we saw in his brother was once he moved out of this house I am their comfort zone. I think close proximity to me stunts their growth. I think with Blue there will need to be a gentle push out of the nest. Otherwise, home is a comfort zone that he may never want to leave. The funny thing is, he doesn't really want to be here anyway. It's all a big, fat, frustrating, catch 22.

How does autism factor into all of this? What part is just stubbornness? What part is the typical behavior of a young adult who just doesn't have everything figured out? 

Because he is still at home sometimes it feels like I am still very much in the throes of raising an adult-sized, strong-willed child. I know it’s supposed to be all about natural consequences at this point, but when the natural-consequences affect me, I tend to want to avoid that.  For instance, if he doesn’t take medicine regularly; he ends up having a meltdown here at home, I feel the pain of that meltdown and then my blood pressure goes up. I remind him in order to save myself. I’ve been so on edge for so long. My body is conditioned to stress. There are times when I feel like I've forgotten how to breathe. I'm so used to holding my breath, waiting for something to happen. I actually forget to exhale. I have to make a conscious effort to do so.

I’m looking for peace wherever I can find it. Yoga helps. I wish I could live in the yoga studio. Only there are no cocktails there.

It’s not good for inner peace to have a stubborn, young adult in your house. He wants to be independent, but he’s not. He is frustrated by that. I am frustrated by that. He asks for help and for advice only to follow up by doing whatever he wants to do anyway.

I’m fighting hard to find myself again. I’m setting boundaries, as they continue to push back hard against them. I work diligently at exercising purposeful self-care and self-love. I’m finally doing some of the things in life that I enjoy. I’m doing things that are just for me more than I have since these boys were born. This takes some getting used to for everyone. They are so used to having me available at any given second. 
The transition to adulthood feels like it’s by far the hardest part of raising them so far. Watching them wade into the deep social quagmire of High school was difficult emotionally. Coaching them through the anger, depression, loneliness and intense desire to be accepted was excruciating. Somehow, the weight of their adult choices feels heavier to me. I know I shouldn't be carrying that weight. But I am their mother. I don't think we ever stop worrying or wanting the best for them. Maybe the weight feels heavier because I know that I am no longer in control. 

 I confess... I love to be in control. I think most people with anxiety have an excessive need to be in control, even over things in which we have no jurisdiction. That's not an easy thing to admit, but I am flawed --a constant work in progress. Letting go is the right thing to do. It's what they need and deserve.

I can not jump in and wave my magic-fix-it-wand like I did when they were still in high-school.  They need help and guidance, but most of that will now come from sources other than me.  Making adult life choices is up to them at this point.  

This time in our lives is liberating and anomalous at the same time.  I'm letting go, but it's not a straight path. It feels foreign to not be in control anymore.  It’s a constant challenge between what to do for them and yet,  stay out of their way.  I’m more of a consultant than a parent.  I can’t make them do anything. I can only help them find the resources so that they have the best chance at helping themselves. 

I’m letting go and they are screaming, "Leave me alone! But can you talk to me twenty times a day?" "Can I have some money?" And, "I don’t need your help!" sometimes comes within the same breath. 

I know will get there. I'm kind of in a hurry. I want my freedom back. I got things to do.



Friday, June 22, 2018

Everything and Nothing

My youngest son Blue graduated from high school one-year-ago. It feels like three.  I'm exhausted. I think my last nerve has disintergrated and there isn't anything left to trample on. 

This is my third and final launch and things are not going smoothly.  You'd think I would have this figured out by now. This is the one I hoped would be the easiest. I could not have been more wrong. 

Every day we fight about something, everything, and nothing. 

To ice that cake, I'm not quite finished launching his 22-year-old-brother who also has autism, anxiety and a mood disorder. He's out of the house, but with his recent move to another city, there are all-new transition issues that are coming up. His anxiety goes up, his phone calls increase, which means my anxiety goes up and my patience is short.


The phenomenon --kids in their late teens and early adulthood not getting along with their parents has been happening since the dawn of time.  

I remember breaking away from my mother. I was eighteen when I told her I was done with the religion she raised me in. I would no longer deal with the judgment of those people. I would find my own relationship with God. I'm sure she loved every moment of that conversation.

Look. I get it. Young adults don’t want to be told what to do or be limited by their parents.  This is why they should move out. This is why they go away to college or go away somewhere, the military, anywhere, but away, to start their journey to independence. Unfortunately, in our situation, that has not been possible thus far. 

Blue spent this year transitioning into community college with a great deal of angst.

He survived. 

I survived. 

The second semester was slightly better than the first as he got more used to the new environment. 
.  
I got more and more used to the fact that this story was not going to play out the way that I had pictured it for so many years.

I can't tell you how many times I have to stop myself from thinking about some of his peers who are also on the autism spectrum, who are moving right along, attending a University, working, driving and living on campus. 

Nope! You’re not supposed to compare your child to other people. Ever. Out loud. Try telling that to your brain. Try not feeling the pain of dreams broken and dealing with a new reality.

I know that everyone has their own journey. His journey is not mine to decide and all of that. He has his own strengths and challenges and his life will unfold the way it's supposed to. I can't lie though. I wish things would move along a little easier and a little faster. A sister is tired. I'm ready to step back and watch him wander off into the horizon.  

From the time he was in the 6th grade we were planning for him to have a college career. That’s when he started taking advanced math. All of his grades were nearly perfect. He had such a great work ethic. He pushed himself to the next level without any prompts.

We had been told by several teachers, “With his grades in math and science, he has the kind of brain that would make an engineer or a scientist.” 

My eyes lit up. I was eager to see him soar …out of my house and towards success.  

In middle school, his Special Education team did their best to edge me out of the Advocate role by the time he was in 8th grade

“If he’s going to go to college, he’s going to have to advocate for himself,” they told me. 

He became his own advocate. In middle school, he once sat in a meeting full of teachers and administrators fighting for this one particular teacher to adhere to the terms of the accommodations of his Individual Education Plan. 

Yeah. She was a real piece of work and I wanted to thrash her, but I sat back and watched him fight his own battle, and I was proud. 

By the time he was in high school, I was able to sit back and take a seat while he did the driving.  (It was a good thing because his brother was busy making me crazy with HIS transition to adulthood.)  

Blue’s coursework in high school was advanced for the most part. Like I said above, he did have accommodations. His anxiety was the major factor that slowed him down even though his intellect and work ethic were on point. 

The biggest among the accommodations in his I.E.P. was extra-time for processing and turning in major assignments.  He also had a tracking teacher who worked with him to make sure things were not falling through the cracks. 

He was always such a good student who appeared to be doing his best. Teachers were willing to work with him. “He’s such a positive contribution to class,” they would say.  They loved him. 

He took a college class on our community college campus the summer before "Senior Year Hell." It was Speech Communication. Even with his anxiety, he managed to make an A. 

But that same summer is when things started to unravel for him. His anxiety was at an all-time high. We were working through medication issues. He started working on his first job and it was a bit of nightmare. The job ended after three weeks with a meltdown in the parking lot right outside of the store. 

Social relationships, especially of the female persuasion, became super important to him.  He has always had friends …lifelong friends who were loyal. He started to see that his new social relationships with groups of teenage girls came along with a lot of conflict. He didn’t have the capacity for keeping up with his course load and all of the drama at the same time. He ended up having to drop AP Physics and was barely holding on in several other classes.  

He managed to do well on his SAT’s, but during the time when he should have been applying to colleges, he was barely keeping his head above water. 

Per the suggestion from his therapist, we tried to ease him into college by having him carry a small course load.  We didn’t push for him to get a job both because of his anxiety and so that he could focus on school. 

I had the bright idea to give him an allowance and some freedom of transportation via Uber and the metro system. One, to give him more of a sense of independence and two, because quite frankly, I am tired of being everything for him. I'm tired of being the designated taxi driver. Most of the time his attitude sucks. He is rude. He doesn't exactly smell like fresh flowers, and he doesn't tip. There have been countless times where I have had to pull to the side of the road and get out because of a meltdown. Meltdowns and driving are not a good mix. 

I'm tired of cooking meals for him. I cook and more than half the time he doesn't show up for dinner, and he complains about having to eat here when he does.  I could make a big pot of spaghetti and he would come home and pour a bowl of cereal. Um. Okay dude. I'm done. 

I admit, at first I was happy to have him spend so much time outside of the house. It was worth every penny we were spending. 

I justified giving him this allowance. If we helped him buy a car it would end up being even more expensive, than paying for Uber. Not to mention, we wouldn’t have the liability and possibility of him getting into an accident.  (He has his permit. What we have not been able to do is get him to do the actual behind the wheel training.)

Our agreement was that during school his allowance would be in exchange for some basic chores here at home, going to class, and making good grades.  More money could be earned for additional jobs and projects around the house. 

What I didn't factor in is that even though we were providing this opportunity for him to earn money, he would come to resent us for not only being his parents but his employers. He sees the chores as my way of "controlling him." Insert eye-roll here. 

Gradually, he stopped meeting his end of the agreement. Sometimes he'd go to class. Sometimes he'd sleep all day. And yet, he would ask us to go above and beyond meeting our end of the bargain. He wanted more and more money and privileges. He would actually have the nerve to get really angry when he didn’t get what he wanted.  

It was like someone forgot to give him the memo that he is now an adult, and we are no longer obligated to meet all of his wants and needs. 

Only we did give him the memo. His therapist gave him the memo too. She spelled it out quite clearly. He wanted to ignore the memo. He wanted an alternative fact memo. 

What we are seeing now is an independent soul trapped in the body and mind of a boy who doesn’t have the resources for all of the independence that he wants. He wants the privileges of adulthood without creating that world for himself. 

This puts us (and by us, I mean mostly me)  in a position of having to say NO to a lot of requests and demands. Therein lies the power-struggle. He is pissed off that he has to come to me for money, which ultimately means freedom. 

I think it's hard for everyone when you first start managing money. I also think when you haven't really worked for it,  it's is like trying to hold water in your hands. It’s leaking everywhere and before you know it, it’s gone.

We have the means to support him, but at the same time, we have the obligation to create a desire for self-responsibility.

This isn't our first time at this rodeo. Our older boys have worked to help take care of themselves from the time they were teens. Adrian, our oldest, also went to college on us the first year. After he blew off our money and came back home, it wasn't long before he had to move out and figure things out on his own. 

Now with Blue, we are having to establish new boundaries around finances and spending. All of this is going on at a time when we are the last people on earth he wants to deal with. He certainly doesn’t want to hear “NO” from us. 

I  try to give him the freedom to do what he wants to do as an adult. That doesn’t mean that I have to pay for it all. It was getting to the point where he was eating out more than we do, and he has an affinity for sit-down restaurants.  Okay, I'll admit he gets that from me, but when I was his age, I was paying for my own restaurant excursions. 

College students have to learn to do things that are free …or at least on the cheap.  You do not have endless resources. We don’t have endless resources to give you. Most people in the real world have financial limits. 

I'm so tired of the fight. I miss my sweet child. Growing up I saw so much of myself in him. He has a kind heart. He has always been the kind of person that wanted to make others feel better. I know he's still in there somewhere, but I'll be damned if he will come out to play. 

As he attempts to break away from me, he is less than sweet. He is bitter and he wants me to suck the lemon too.  

He is angry with me …a lot.  

My stress level is through the roof. 

I know it’s not really about me. 
I believe it’s about him feeling powerless. 
I believe it’s anxiety and fear. 
It’s about being at a stage in life where he wants to break away but making it happen feels overwhelming… 
Maybe even impossible. 

And so it is time …for a job. He starts tomorrow. 

I’m praying about it. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Coffee with Laura


It’s not often that I get to sit down to have a coffee and catch up session with a girlfriend. I don’t have many friends...locally...anymore. When you stop having the time and bandwidth to socialize with people, over time most of them forget about you. When things keep coming up, people that you don't have a lifelong connection with stop thinking of calling you and inviting you out for coffee, lunch or happy hour.

The majority of my closest friendships now have a healthy dosage of distance. For the longest time, I wondered why that is the case and it made me so sad.  As I do the work in therapy, I've come to realize that perhaps having distance between me and my friends is what I need. Maybe, for now, that's all I'm capable of giving.

My closest friend is a two-hour drive away. We have to be very intentional with our time together. Other close friends are scattered about the country, mostly in California.  Thanks to this blog and Facebook I have close friends all over the world, some of whom I’ve never met in person. Yet many of them are my biggest supporters. My online autism parent network is a lifeline for me.

I am however blessed with my local friend Laura and a few others who haven't been able to get rid of me yet. No matter how much time passes with Laura, we can get together to catch up and it’s like no time has passed. There are no penalties or guilt.

This time, I think an entire year has passed. She has been busy with her life --her daughter’s wedding, her mother’s illness and her own personal issues. I have been busy with being the beck and call girl for the people in my family and trying to get Kendal transitioned into the next phase of his life.

Laura was my yoga teacher years ago at the local Y.M.C.A. I felt a special connection with her then. I loved her energy --the genuineness of her being. She is authentic, funny, zen and laid back. I connect with people who let me into the realness of their lives. Laura did that in a yoga class where I saw her two or three times a week. This was when the boys were in middle and high school and I was desperate for local friendships at the time. I wanted so much for her to see me, this lonely girl, and maybe want to hang out with me. Eventually, we did connect, and though she stopped teaching a few years ago we have remained in touch. We still get together for lunch and the occasional coffee and chat.

On this sunny, late morning in May, we are sitting in Starbucks catching each other up on the happenings of our families over the past year. I’m bragging to her about how I’m in therapy now. She has been in for years and always encouraged me to do the same. I tell her about how I’m trying to take back my life and set boundaries with my now young-adult children.

“When I go out, I keep my phone on silent. I don’t go out that often so when I do, I refuse to take any calls.”
“That’s great!” she says. “It teaches them that they are capable of solving some of their own problems. It’s much easier for them if mama does it, but it doesn’t serve them as developing adults if we are always fixing things for them. Even though we love them and we want to.”
“Absolutely, girl,” I reply in full agreement. She has been through this a time or two with her own children who are older than mine.

Meanwhile, as we are enjoying our conversation I happen to sneak a peek at my phone which is sitting face-down on the table next to my cafe’ mocha. I have no intention of calling anyone back if there are any messages. I’m just curious to see if there is anything important that I missed. Whatever it is will definitely have to wait until I am finished socializing. Big mistake!

When I turn over the phone and look at the screen,  there are several missed calls from Kendal. Ugh! I punch in the gut. These rumbling butterflies are an automatic physical response from years of panic calls.  If the boys are not in a panic, they want some kind of action or thought from me and they want it NOW.  Everything is an emergency. There is always some problem to be solved,  a thought to process, a list of what-ifs to dispell, a pep-talk to be given.

If you look at the call log on my phone all of the names of my children, my husband, and my mother are listed in a rotation. They are the only people who actually call me on a regular basis. Hence, I have a love/hate relationship with my phone. I keep it on silent. The ringing makes me nervous and usually pisses me off. WTF do they want now? In fact, when I’m out in public and someone else’s phone rings, I feel my heart-rate increase. I jump. I want to ask them to please turn it down or off, especially if it keeps ringing over and over again.

I decided to ignore the missed calls from Kendal. I turned the phone back over, face-down and continue talking to Laura as if everything is totally cool. I figured he will end up calling the house. My mom will tell him that I’m having coffee with a friend, and he will stop calling. Ha! No such luck.


Let me stop here and give some background in case you’re new around here. A month ago, Kendal moved out of the group home. He moved to San Antonio to live with his older brother, Adrian. Adrian is my neurotypical (mostly) son who I raised from the age of five. He is now 30-years-old, has a great job as a Programmer and his own townhouse, that he is willing to share with his brother.  I didn't want to believe it would happen until it actually happened. Because, me getting a break from these boys is like, unheard of.

San Antonio is a ninety-minute drive away from me. Can you hear me smile when I say that?  Kendal can no longer just show up at my door unannounced, come in, drink all of my coffee and be knocking on my bedroom door before I can get out of bed. (Insert eye-roll here.)

So far, for the most part, he is acclimating to his new life. He is working full-time, over-time even, on a contract through Goodwill Industries doing Grounds Maintenance on Lackland Airforce Base.

There have been kinks to work through and I  am still helping him manage the details of his life. There are still several phone calls to me every time he wants to process a thought or work through a challenge. I take some of them, not all.

As crazy as it sounds, a part of me misses him. It's not easy letting go of a pain that you've had in your ass for 22-years. Transitions are tough for most humans.

At the same time, there is also a part of me that just can’t do it anymore. I’m burnt out! I don't want to be the instant human listening machine. The fixer of all problems. That shit stresses me out.

Keep in mind, I am still dealing with the stress of transitioning my 19-year-old into the idea of adulthood. He isn't taking it too well. It's like nobody gave him the memo that adulthood was coming, and I no longer have to do all of the things for him. He is now responsible for his life.

Thanks to anxiety, he's fighting me on everything and has the suckiest attitude. He's just about right up there on the Richter scale where his brothers were at this age, which is why they had to MOVE!  I'm ready for him to get out of my house, like yesterday. Only we don't have a viable exit plan for him yet. To say that everything is not going as I predicted it would is putting it mildly.

Cut -back to my coffee date with Laura 

Phone calls turn in to texts, “I need a ride.”

I refused to call him back, but I did  excuse myself briefly and text him to ask, “Why do you need a ride?”

It’s 12:30 in the afternoon. As luck would have it, he got off from work early. Mind you Adrian (older brother) had given him cash money.  He had $10.00 to eat lunch and catch the bus to get home. He went to Wendy’s and spent $8.25, which left him with $1.75 to catch the bus. The bus costs $2.00.

So what does he do? Borrow a quarter from a stranger? Of course not!
Tell the people at Wendy’s he needs to order something else, so he has enough money for the bus? NO!!! He panics and starts blowing up my phone.

Why didn't he use a credit or debit card for lunch so he would have the cash for the bus?

Well, a few nights before he went on a dating website and was convinced to put in his credit card information. Then the site proceeded to wipe out all of the money in his checking account. Subsequently, we had to shut the credit/debit card down and attempt to get the fraudulent charges refunded to his bank account.

One bad choice leads to another problem and then the domino effect kicks in. Now he has no emergency credit card. He can’t get home from work. It’s 100 degrees plus humidity in San Antonio. He’s hot, frustrated and agitated and probably pretty damned tired after working in the heat all week long.  And who gets to deal with all of that attitude? ME!

I ignored the calls and texts as long as I could, however, a part of me envisioned him exploding in a public place, the police being called and his entire life is shot to hell in an instant. I had to at least navigate him through a way to get home.

I ended up leaving my coffee with Laura after we had been there for over an hour.

She gave me a sample of some DoTerra Essential Oils.  She is now an Advocate for them. She gave me a “Chill Out” blend and a “Shield” blend which is supposed to help protect you from taking on someone else’s negative energy. Lawd have mercy, do I need that!?
I used the “Chill Out” blend before I could even put the car in drive because my heart rate was extremely elevated and it actually worked! I love my friends!

I helped Kendal navigate through getting home to the apartment that he shares with his brother.

His brother Adrian, by the way, has been extremely supportive through this transition and he's a hell of a lot more patient with him than me or his dad. Adrian does, however, have a full-time job and can’t drop everything when Kendal panics.

By the time Kendal made it home, I was completely spent for the rest of the day.

Do you think he learned his lesson with the whole, impulsively putting your credit card that is attached to his bank account information on the internet, after all of the dominoes that fell afterward? I can only hope. I am trying to put some safeguards in place to hopefully avoid this kind of fiasco in the future.

But dear Lord, just when I  think things are getting a little more peaceful around here, I discover that Kendal still has the ability to give me an instant headache from miles away.

I am one burnt out mom.

Never give up on your child, they say. I don’t think they ever met these children of mine.

Kendal, Myself, and Adrian
Good news! Just as I got ready to post this, I got a phone call that the application we put in for paratransit was approved. He will now have curb-to-curb transportation! I am so relieved!







Friday, May 25, 2018

Drowning -A Guest Post

By Carrie...

My son was in elementary school when I became a reader and follower of Karen’s blog. When our regional community was rocked 2 months ago by the drowning of a 14-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder after he eloped from his city school, I asked Karen about doing a guest blog. She agreed. It’s been just over 2 months since I first mentioned it. At 4 a.m. this morning the blog hit me upside the head.

Carrie's son Tom
I am a single mom to a 16-year-old young man with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We live in a rural community in the heart of New York’s Finger Lakes (and WINE) Region. I had the first inkling of an autism diagnosis when my son was 2 years, 9 months. He suddenly lost the ability to speak and had extreme, physically violent meltdowns with self-injury; sometimes requiring up to 90 minutes of physical restraint by me.  I had modified restraint training I had received through an employer. With the DSM-IV he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 5/6 and had a whole host of rule-out diagnoses. We saw a local developmental pediatrician for many of his early years.

My son started in an intensive Universal Pre K program at 3 years, 1.5 months run by one of our area’s best special needs programs. He had 1:1 aides, occupational therapy, music therapy, speech therapy and more. When he started elementary school at our home district things changed, some for the better and some for the worse. His educational team tried, for the most part, to do what was in his best interests within the constraints of our school district’s abilities. And he even qualified as disabled under NYS’s DDSO (Developmental Disabilities Service Organization.) In 2011 due to regulation changes through DDSO he no longer qualified as disabled.

A couple years later his developmental pediatrician announced her upcoming retirement to us. That led me to seek out a more concrete evaluation from a world-renowned regional autism center/clinic. We waited over 6 months for the appointment/evaluation date, which was 9 months after the local developmental pediatrician made the referral. After spending only 90 minutes with my son and I the specialist, (at this world-renowned autism clinic,) deemed that he had “outgrown the autism” and was most definitely ADHD inattentive type. My heart shattered, to put it mildly. We only had three visits with this specialist, and she tore me down each and every time we met. At several points during our appointments, she would tell me that I was failing him as a parent when I would question her or her recommendations. That immediately instilled a distrust in developmental disability professionals from that point forward. It was 2014, and it took me 3 full years before I would seek out another professional for my son.

In 3 years’ time, he spiraled. Our April 2017 Autism Awareness Month was eye-opening. He punched holes in a large portion of the walls of his room.  He physically broke our outdoor, make-shift clothesline by snapping a 2x4 board in 2 different places just with his shear strength.  And finally, his 3rd quarter school grades came home with 2 incompletes and outright failing one class. I started a renewed search seeking out a counseling professional for my son.

Fast forward nearly a year, in March 2018, to the drowning of a 14-year-old with ASD in the Genesee River in Rochester, NY, a mere 60 miles from where we live. His physical drowning has been enacting some changes in the Rochester, NY area. But where’s the help for those kids and parents who are metaphorically drowning in the rural areas, (and cities and suburbs)?!?

In the past year, we finally have 2 professionals, (a Licensed MSW, and an independent Licensed Clinical Psychologist,) agreeing that my son has Autism Spectrum Disorder as specified in the DSM-V. The school still says he’s a “student with Autism” in his Individual Education Plan, and this has never changed since his first IEP meeting at 3 years old. Yet with all that documentation, and documentation going back to his very first evaluations for services in 2003 and 2004 it’s not enough in the eyes of the former NYS DDSO, (now NYS OPWDD, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.)

With the help of our local Arc, I recently re-applied to qualify him for services through that state-run office. Despite about 100 pages of documentation showing a continued need for services, the office said he did not show enough of a qualifying diagnosis for services, and his IQ is 4 points too high to automatically qualify under IQ requirements. And because he didn’t qualify for OPWDD services, he doesn’t qualify for Arc services. And if he can’t qualify for OPWDD there’s no way he’ll qualify for Social Security Disability assistance.

After receiving the letter disqualifying him our county had a community input forum in response to several recent teen suicides, overdoses, and other community concerns. My full-time employment with a community based social service agency meant I was well known by one of the facilitators. I had just received the denial, so I opened my mouth to the forum and asked where we were supposed to turn to next for help. That put me in touch with a youth services advocate through our county health and mental health dept. We had a referral put in with another local agency who provides HARP (Health and Recovery Plan) services. However, because my son’s only diagnosis is ASD, he won’t qualify for services in that program without a mental health or addiction diagnosis. We have 8 days to find a medical professional who will agree with a comorbidity of a mental health disorder, or get my son hooked on meth or heroin, or we have to start that process from scratch again too. Meanwhile, I have 3 more days to file my request for appeal to OPWDD and I have lost that paperwork.

But the issues don’t stop there. My son’s 35-week report from school arrived in the mail yesterday. He’s currently failing 3 out of his 4 core academic subjects with grades in the 40’s and 50’s. He is also failing one of his extra academic classes and on the verge of failing a 2nd for not turning in assignments and research projects. These 2 classes are areas he excels at and loves. He also owes $80 to the school for technology and reading items that he never returned.

He struggles with life skills/activities of daily living. He rarely brushes his teeth without adult prompting.  He washes his body only half the time without adult prompting. He’s nearly burnt down our home by being so engrossed in a TV show that he cooked pizza-snackers in the microwave for 15 minutes and didn’t notice the burning smell. The smell woke me from a dead sleep, and he then stood in the middle of our kitchen with a plate that was still on fire IN HIS HANDS.

His inability to know follow-up on his chores caused his air-conditioner unit to flood our living room, requiring a whole flooring remodel, (which I had to take on myself because I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it on my meager earnings). It and ruined the box spring of my brand-new bed. 18 months later I’m still sleeping in the same bed and box spring.

He can’t get a summer job because he might have to go to summer school, and I’m not sure he has the skill set to keep a job without an intensive job coach. He has developed skills from volunteering in our church’s media room, volunteering with the free food truck food distribution, volunteering at our local thrift shop, and being a new member of our local fire department. However, he can’t process how to transfer those skills to an employment-based environment. He doesn’t know how to budget or understand money, something I have tried to teach him for years. He doesn’t want to drive; not because he doesn’t know how, (we live in farm country remember) but because the other drivers on the road scare him, and he doesn’t understand the NYS DMV driver’s manual enough to pass the written exam to get his permit.

He still has to be told when to do laundry, because 3 weeks of clothes piling up and no clean jeans or underwear didn’t trigger any response in him to do laundry. Every Monday he has to be reminded that Tuesday is garbage day and he needs to bag up the garbage and clean the cat’s litter box. This isn’t typical teenage behavior as our family acquaintances and community friends try to tell me because it has never gotten better. It’s been this way for YEARS!!! This is just the tip of the iceberg if you were to live our life.

I have begged people publicly for help, I’ve begged Facebook friends for in-person help. I have gone so far as to ask Amish members of our community if they will offer him an apprenticeship of sorts, (talks are still ongoing there.) I’ve asked the school for help with a life-skills class. Next year they are finally offering a cooking class, which my son is currently signed up for.

My son is regarded by many as high-functioning on the autism spectrum because of the skills and abilities he has, but we are metaphorically drowning! I'm wondering, would it take my son physically drowning in Cayuga or Seneca Lake before someone or some agency says, “We should be doing more to help to help families in this situation,”?!?

We are very community involved. My son is a 4th generation firefighter with the same fire department. I have spent over 20 years volunteering between the local fire department and EMS.  I regularly volunteer my time and photography talents to the community and school programs. My son volunteers in many facets of our local church from the media room, to food distribution, to clothing distribution, and will hopefully be attending an out of state mission trip to Boston in July. He plays 2 varsity sports and is a starter for one. He competes in NYSSMA music solo festivals each year and is in honors band and chorus at school.

We give of our time and talents to help those around us in need nearly every day.

Why can’t we qualify for any help?!?

Why are we metaphorically drowning?!?

I don’t want your thoughts and prayers or sympathy.  I want some action, resources, and services! My son has long terms goals. He wants to work in law enforcement. He wants to live on his own, realizing it may only be with assistance. He wants to be a contributing member of society. None of that will happen without help and services in OUR OWN COMMUNITY!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carrie is a single mom of a 16- year-old young man with autism, living in a rural area of Rochester, New York. She is trying to raise her son to the best of her ability. This is a story of the frustrations getting the right kind of community support services for him. Her story is the story of so many parents in the U.S. and all over the world. We can't raise these kids alone. If we expect them to be contributing members of society, they need these supports. Honestly, once they reach a certain age, we as parents, literally cannot teach them everything they need to be a successful adult. It really does take a village. 

Thanks for reading. 
~Karen 


Friday, May 4, 2018

Reclaiming My Time

Going on vacation is a wonderful thing. Anytime you have the privilege of getting away from day to day life to see something different in the world should be a cause for celebration and hopefully, an opportunity for relaxation.

In my life, however there are a lot of ironies. Things that other people celebrate and enjoy can be complicated for me. In fact, many things that average families would normally celebrate, can be an additional source of stress and anxiety for an autism family. If you are a parent of a child with any kind of special needs, you know exactly what I’m talking about. 

Over the years of raising these children, travel has been a dual between fun and overwhelming. There are so many details to put into place before I can think about going anywhere with or without my children. I also have to add my mom to the mix since she has lived with us for the past eight years.

Before I can travel, I have to make sure that everyone will be taken care of while I’m away. This means arranging for most of the things that I do for them, to be done by someone else. All bases must be covered. Oh yes! Let's not forget about Harry, our dog. I don't like to put him in a kennel. He is used to having someone to sit next to. He's a lap dog. And, Yes. I am a spoiler of all of my children.

I have anxiety from years in this autism life. My anxiety is real and at this point and time, requires medication to keep me functioning without taking someone's head off. The thing about authentic anxiety is that it doesn't have to make any sense to anyone else. It's real inside my head and in my physical reaction to stress. I have worried about every single trip that I have planned since my children were born. 

Will the plane crash? 
I can’t die. They need me! 
If I am leaving them at home... did I take care of every last detail before I left?
Did I write all of the operating instructions for whoever is taking over? 
Did I remember the special foods, the wine for my mom, the projects for school that need to be turned in on time? 
Did I fill prescriptions? 
Did I pack meds? 
Does anyone know what to do if I die?
Yes. I have a will. But still…the details of everyday life. The things that only I know. Most of the time, their father didn't even know the name of their teachers, or their doctors. 

Is there any wonder when my husband or my friends say, “hey let’s take a trip,” I hesitate?

I hesitated when my husband said let’s go to Italy in 2007. I was dying to go to Italy, but what would we do with the kids for ten days? I had never been away from them for that long. How would I get along with my husband for ten days? Would we kill each other? Would we still be married when we came back home?

When we planned our trip to France in the summer of 2016, I freaked out. There was a terrorist attack right before we left in Nice. We were going to Nice! Again, what if I die?

I finally settled on, I'm going. I may die on this trip, but at least I will die having seen France.  I have just about gotten these boys through to adulthood. I’ve already done a lifetime of work. If it's my time, so be it. 

A couple of weeks ago my husband planned a trip to Las Vegas with my best friend and her husband for my birthday. Spectacular, right? Vegas is one big adult playground. He planned everything perfectly. He bought tickets to the best shows, “Michael Jackson One.” He even bought awesome seats to see Justin Timberlake in concert! We had gorgeous adult dinners at gourmet restaurants and stayed in lovely accommodations. 

It's a good thing he planned it because I never would have done it. I would find every excuse not to go. Why? Because of anxiety —that’s why. Like I said, there’s nothing about anxiety that has to make any sense. In my case, it sort of does, because over the years so many things have hit the fan when we traveled. 

Hubby works for a global IT Corporation so he goes to Las Vegas every year for his sales conference. Sometimes, he goes twice a year if there is a Regional Meeting there. The first time I joined him in Vegas for one of his business trips, Blue was in the 6th grade. He was still freaked out by thunderstorms back then.

I left on a Friday morning. The sun was shining brightly I felt so happy and free to be getting on an airplane alone. I made arrangements for Blue to spend part of the weekend with one of his best friends. I can't remember where Kendal was, but he wasn't home. My mom was at the house with Blue. When his friend's mom came to pick him up that Friday afternoon, he would not leave the house because of his anxiety. In fact, he ended up spending the entire weekend hiding out in the bathroom because there was a threat of storms. 

How free and easy breezy can one feel knowing that your child is hunkered down, camping in the bathroom with pillows, blankets, music and a fan to drown out the sound possible storms?

This is just one example of the things that play on a highlight reel in my head every time someone talks to me about traveling. My body  goes into fight or flight tension from all of the years when things have gone wrong in my absence

I usually work through the anxiety. I go on the trip despite the anxiety, but no one can tell me not to freak out. It’s just like when you tell someone who’s having a meltdown to just “calm down.” Yeah. That goes over perfectly. I am working on getting over some of this with my therapist. Hoever, it takes time. I have a lot of crap to work through. 

Our most recent trip was to Washington D.C. We took the entire family (my mom, Blue, me and Alan). Kendal just moved to San Antonio to live with his older brother. Preparing for his move was a whole other source of stress that went in conjunction with the planning of this trip. I won’t even go into the details of that.   

Our family trip was a total of five days. We rented a lovely AirBnB, two-bedroom apartment so that my mother would have accessible accommodations. An apartment, as opposed to hotel rooms, would mean a lot of family togetherness. There would be no quick and easy escapes.

We were also meeting my siblings in D.C. to go to the Smithsonian African American History Museum. No pressure, right?
My peeps

There are extra details to traveling with my mother. Her arthritic knees keep her from being as mobile as she used to be. Wheelchairs were arranged at the airports to get her on, and between, flights. Sitting all together in a row on the plane where I was smushed in-between my mother and my husband was lots of fun for a woman in peri-menopause.

I reserved a scooter with a medical equipment company in D.C. because of the extensive walking that would be required at the museum. The night before we left, she informs me that she refuses to even try the scooter. It was too late for cancellations, so I ended up paying full-price for the motor-scooter rental, while we got an old crappy wheelchair that was hard as hell to push her around in. 

Overall, it was a great trip. The museum was powerful and I'm so glad we were all able to see it. 

Per my therapist's suggestion, I decided to take one day to get some time to myself. Self-care is pertinent when you need to have extra patience. Years ago, I would never have considered gifting time to myself. I would be too worried about what others would think. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Ever. I would just do all of the things whether I wanted to or not.

My mother and my husband were not happy when I told them that I would not accompany them to church and to visit with some of his family. I told them that it wasn’t up for discussion. I know what I need. No one will speak up for me, except me. 

I am “reclaiming my time!” Like Auntie Maxine Waters! The people who were used to me not having boundaries will find themselves disappointed at times. However, they will benefit from the happier person I am after refilling my cup. 

I was ecstatic as soon as they all walked out the door. 

Here’s the video of my favorite moment of our adventure. I highly recommend taking time for yourself whenever possible.


May self-care and self-love carry you through your stressful situations.

Love,

Karen

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Self-Love 101


Today was therapy day for me, also known as “Me Day.” Therapy is usually followed by lunch by myself, reflection and writing. This one of the self-care tools that I have tried to implement consistently over the past few years. It is one of few things I look forward to every week. That is unless someone somehow plans an appointment during my time. Nothing upsets me more than missing my Me-Day. 

Therapy is a full-time job for me.
I go to therapy.
I  drive other people to therapy.
I wait outside of therapist's offices, doctor’s offices, possible employers offices, colleges, beauty salons, you name it. I drive to it.
I’m am the designated personal driver for all of the grown-ass people in my family. 
I actually go to therapy to help me cope with driving people to therapy for no pay, and no tips, while I put my own dreams and personal goals on hold. The worst thing? Half the time my passengers don’t smell so good. At least soccer moms have a good excuse for their passengers not smelling so good. 

Oh! Yes. Also pestering young-adults about the art of showering is also a big part of my job. Who wouldn’t need therapy with a job like this? The reward is ...um. I don't think there is a reward.  

Recently, I have been attempting to as Auntie and Senator Maxine Waters says, “Reclaiming my time!” -in an effort of self-preservation and self-care. I am working hard at maintaining the boundaries surrounding the time that I need to take care of me …to do the things that make my heart smile and feed my soul. This means there are more times when I have to say, “No. I can’t do that today. I have a prior engagement.” Even if that prior engagement is just me sitting at a coffee house or who am I kidding?  A bar --working on a writing project. 

Not consistently taking care of myself made me become this angry, cranky, resentful person. I was feeling like a non-entity ...like I have no right to my own wants and needs. People will try to make you feel like you're being selfish when you start putting yourself first. As if doing things for your personal enjoyment is wrong because after all, you owe them your life. And by people, I mean family. Everyone wants what they want -now. Yet, not one of them pays me one red cent.

My friend Becca of lovebecca.com  wrote a 30-day Self-Love challenge on her website. She also posted it on her Facebook and Instagram every day during the Month of March. 

When I opened Facebook and read an entry I felt like she was speaking directly to me. She wrote about simple things that we as women should be doing to take care of ourselves. Some of the things she mentioned, I have been ignoring for months. 

One day Becca wrote about making your regular doctor appointments. I was like …Wow! Hello. I’m overdue by several months for my annual exam. How does she know this?
She wrote about getting a regular form of exercise and drinking enough water (not including the ice cubes in my vodka cocktail.) I know she had me in mind when she wrote that one.
She wrote about having regular dates with yourself, doing something simple that you love.
She reminded me to spend more time doing something fun and creative.
In other words, we need to find our own personal joy. That doesn't have to mean spending a lot of money. It really just means spending time on the things that make us feel lighter, even if that's just taking a nap!  

I did not complete the 30-day challenge in full. However, I am pleased to report that I have become more conscientious about improving in the self-care department. As a result, I am happier than I have been in a very long time. My anxiety is down. I’m less angry and resentful. I don’t want to run away and change my identity —well, most days I don’t. It’s work-in-progress. 

Of course, when I started pushing back saying no and making plans for myself, this limited my availability to do for others. My bosses don't like it so much. They have come to believe that they are the priority in my life. This includes my two young-adult sons (who do not drive) and my 78-year-old-mother, who lives with me. She thinks since the boys are grown now, it’s HER turn. Nope! Sorry, Mom. It’s MY turn. 

I’ve been working hard to keep boundaries for my time. I leave the house to write more regularly so that my thoughts are not interrupted. During those times I don’t answer my phone. I also don’t answer my phone if I’m out at a social event. If I’m having dinner with friends, I put my phone away, out of sight so that I am engaged and present with my friends whom I see so seldom. This doesn't mean I don't have dozens of missed calls when I finally do check.  Last week I came out of a spa treatment and had 13 missed calls from the 22-year-old. Talk about a way to kill a buzz.   

I have become like the panic-button or the easy-button for my kids. I am not amused. I want them to get to the point, where they stop, think and try to solve their own problems before they resort to calling me. Sometimes, they just want someone to scream at because they’re frustrated. All of that is putting me on anxiety overload. I cringe when I see their names on my caller ID. It's not the school calling anymore. It's them. Did I mention, I keep my phone on silent most of the time?  The ring makes my heart-rate go up. 

Now, I tell them ahead of time, I will not be available between this time and that time. DO NOT CALL ME! My phone will not be accessible. Because -boundaries. Hello. If they call anyway, I don’t answer. I give it time so that hopefully they can figure things out on their own. 

I started painting again. Sundays have become my painting day. I told my mom, “The only thing cooking in my kitchen on Sundays is acrylic paint!”

A friend of mine turned me on to this website www.acrylicpouring.com. I downloaded their “Getting Started” manual and have been watching “how to” videos on You-Tube. So far, I’m not that great at it, but I’m having fun playing with color on canvas. I plan to keep at it until I get better.

One of my First Pours 
I haven’t reached all of my self-care goals, but I’m definitely headed in a better direction. I just hit my 53rd birthday. And the day before I was feeling so tired, I felt like I knew what it's like to be dead.

As my youngest child crosses over into adulthood, he seems to want to walk backward trying to escape it.  Meanwhile, I am running in the opposite direction towards reclaiming myself and my time. The two scenarios make life complicated.

The 22-year-old son is working on relocating to another city not too far away, but just far enough that it may help him grow to the next level. Meanwhile, the transition process is extra work and extra stress for both of us, which makes my need for self-care and proper rest even more important.  

I'm not saying any of this is easy or that it changes your life overnight. My life is always a work-in-progress.

I did finally make it to my new doctor. She didn't seem to be nearly as concerned about my imminent death as I am. But she did do some bloodwork. So we will see. These traditional medical doctors never seem to believe it's an issue when I ask them about a hormonal imbalance,  which means my next step is to find a naturopathic doctor.

I hope you will join me on the path towards self-love and self-care. Don't be like me and wait until everyone else is taken care of because guess what? They will NEVER be!

What are you doing just for you lately?
Remember, you are the most person to love.

Check out my friend Love Becca’s 30-day Self-Love challenge for some ideas.

BTW -do you follow me on Instagram and Twitter? I am kwesleywrites on both. I'm always afraid that someday Facebook will die especially after recent activity.