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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 It's a Wrap

It didn't always feel like it, but in 2013 Our family did manage to make a lot of progress.  Blue started high school and came through his first semester with a killer GPA, despite the fact that "teachers are mean and give him bad grades."

Red actually, completed high school his high school credits and turned into a legal adult.  He is now 18. He grew spiritually as he attended a two-week Christian camp for kids on the autism spectrum.  He returned home, a person who no longer choses to express himself by using curse words.  He's also fixated on Christianity and how come the rest of of us are not as hardcore into our faith as he is.  You gotta take the good with the ...not so good I guess.

I wrote some killer blogs in 2013.  The most popular blog by far was written in July after the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict.  "On This Night" was about how I felt tucking my own African American boys into bed, the night to the verdict.

I was featured and published on several additional autism/parenting blogs and various media outlets, including an interview that I did for Facebook media relations after I wrote the blog, My Facebook Life .  The article I wrote about my online support groups was featured on She Knows.com 

I also had an essay accepted for publication in an upcoming book written about parenting kids with hidden disabilities.

I was featured on a Blog Talk Radio show, "Back to Us", where I discussed Special Education Advocacy for parents.

The online support private support group I created actually thrived and became a lifeline for so many parents raising kids on the spectrum.  As well, for those on the spectrum themselves or with someone in their lives with Aspergers.

Hubby did his usual working his ass off to make sure that financially all of these things were possible.  He turned the big 50 this year and we had a great party to celebrate it.  We then took a trip to L.A. for the Playboy Jazz Festival and visited with my family and some of our best friends.  This was one of the best 2 weeks of the year! I will always and forever be a California girl.

It has been an extremely rough year for Blue.  His hormones, anxiety and anger have been completely off the charts, especially since high school started.  To be honest, trying to get him figured out and emotionally balanced turned our lives completely upside down for a good part of the year.  We've been living in an explosive world.  There were countless phone calls from school, plenty of days, missed, and countless meetings held at school, in therapy and with his doctor to try to help him navigate through this tumultuous time.

Honestly, dealing with the changes Blue has been going through this year left me exhausted and exasperated.  We have all been living, walking on eggshells, waiting for the next anger-filled, volatile,  meltdown.

Where I wanted to rev up my writing this year and actually get started on writing a book, I was forced to take my writing down a notch.  Where I wanted to have a daily exercise routine, including yoga and Zumba, I was often too spent to leave the house to go work out after getting them off to school.  It's unbelievable how much energy it takes to juggle these two boys out the door in the mornings.  It's like playing a game of chess with pieces that explode if you make the wrong move.

I became pretty depressed.  There was hardly any time or energy for anything fun, or social.  There was little mental energy left for planning, and getting away to get much needed breaks, even though I needed them more than ever!

When things seemed to go from bad to worse with Blue, internally I blamed myself for not being able to figure out how to help him.  All kinds of fears and self-doubt seeped into my being.  The daily deluge of negativity, self-loathing, anxiety and fear became contagious in our house.  Many days I felt lower than low.

The luxury of hiding underneath the covers for months on end, was not on the table.  I had to press forward, try to put on the happy face, try to be loving and encouraging to both boys, while feeling like absolute crap myself.  Hours upon hours were spent driving them back an forth to therapy, doctors appointments, academic and social activities.  All while my personal and professional life was at a sad, pathetic, standstill.

During this dark period, I spent a lot of time wondering about friendships that seemed to have dissipated.  My closest girlfriends that live here in Texas seemed to almost completely disappear from my life.  Daily, in my depths of despair, fear and self-loathing, I wondered what I had done to bring these friendships to this place.  In the quiet moments I wondered, why doesn't she reach out to me anymore? I asked myself this over and over and over again.

Occasionally, I would muster up the courage to reach out to my girlfriends with a phone call or a text.  I would usually get a text back.  But never ...a phone call.  I experienced various emotions about what feels like a loss.  I had lots of internal dialog about it.  I attributed the gravity of my negative thoughts to my own depression.   It could be nothing.  It could just be my imagination. What could I do about it?  I didn't have the time or the energy to fix these broken-down relationships.

I am blessed with many true friends that I have had over most of my life.  It wasn't until having these children that I actually experienced the friends who simply moved on.  I guess that's an aspect of adulthood, especially adulthood when the day to day of your life requires so much time and attention because of the responsibility of raising my high-needs children.

Sometimes I wonder, if I were still in L.A. with friends that I've had for most of my life, would our friendships break down because of the demands of our adult lives? Hopefully, I will never know.  I am still in close contact with all of my L.A. friends.  Some now are in other parts of the country, but we always manage to connect and pick right back up where ever we leave off.  There is always reaching out, and it is NEVER one-sided.

In fact, when I'm in L.A. all of my girls make time for me.  They have me to their homes.  We lunch, we dinner, we spa together.  Several of them have come to Texas, or we've met for girls trips in various locations.  Most recently, my girlfriend Mary came to Houston for business.  Months ahead of time, she contacted me to make sure that we could get together while she was in town.  In November we met for a fabulous weekend get-away.  I also got to see one of my Asperger mommies while I was there for brunch.

At the same time all of this was going on,  I began to strengthen my online friendships with other moms like me.  Women who feel my pain, who I could be totally honest with because in many ways we live the same lives.

My friend Kathleen in Denver became a lifeline for me, not just online, but I could call her if I needed to talk.  Kathleen has 3 sons, just like I do, with a range of diagnosis from ADHD, to bi-polar, to Aspergers.  Not only can she feel my pain, she lives my pain.  Yet, she was always there to comfort and encourage me.  She is such a positive light and loving spirit.  I couldn't have made it through the year without her. She even wrote a very successful guest post for me titled "If You Really Knew Me".



Elena sharing a bottle of wine with me



My kindred sister and friend Elena, lives in Miami.  We have yet to meet in person. She too has 3 sons, with issues.  She writes these beautiful words of encouragement in a blog called "The Laid Back Cloud of Peace", which always speak directly to my heart. She also reaches out to me on the phone, and online almost daily.  She puts a smile in my heart and on my face.  I love and follow the stories of her 3 boys, as if they are my own.  Especially her youngest, we call G3.  All of her boys names start with the letter G.  She is crazy as all get out! Yet, she is brilliant, and has such a loving heart and spirit.  We drink together from across the miles.  I so look forward to the day when our paths will physically cross.  That's going to be a beautiful day.

Elena also wrote a guest post for me, titled "Hope".  You can get to know her story by reading it and/or checking out her blog.

Each friend crazier than the next, brings me to my friend Sam who lives in New York.  She had an extremely rough year, going through a divorce and temporarily losing custody of 2 of her children in the process.  Now part of me thought, I don't have the time or energy for that! But my heart said otherwise.  Helping her, being a support for her helped me.  The first time, I heard her sweet little New York, jewish voice on the phone, my heart melted and I fell in love with her.  Even though there were days she was at her lowest of lows, she still encouraged me, listened to me and I tried to do the same for her.
Sammy @ the Beach
Sam kept me going through the summer with her days at the beach.  She would always post pictures.  I would encourage her to get off the couch, and go out and enjoy life, even during this most difficult time.  It's funny how I can live vicariously through my friends and encourage them to do things that I couldn't even do myself.   Sammy is another lifeline that kept me going in 2013.

I am so blessed to have so many friends, both online, and across the miles,  so many that I can not mention them all in this post.  I value my friends like no other treasure on this earth. Some I have had for a lifetime, some for a short time.  I appreciate that our paths have crossed that you have loved me and I you.

Me and Jen
This summer also met my white sister Jen through one of my online blogging networks.  Jen lives in Ohio.  She actually came to Texas to visit her mom and we got the chance to meet.  I got to hang out with her girls, and her mom down near San Antonio.  We had a blast.

I have to give an honorable mention to my brother Jim of Just a Little Blog.  Jim also helps me run my private support group.  According to him, he does all the work, along with the 4 other Admins.  Many a day, he is my only reason for laughing.  His daily antics with something as simple as an apple or an orange, can have me in stitches.  He may never know how much his fruit means to me.  (Inside joke...sorry).

I can't go without mentioning my online support groups of parents, bloggers, and adults and teenagers with Aspergers that I have come to know and love this year.  How awesome is it, to be able to log in at anytime and get feedback and support from other people who really get it?

So even though I am sad about friendships that seem to have lost their way. I have to see it as perhaps it's just not the season for those relationships.  It's hard, and I feel so alone some days.  I pray that the season for them will come back around.  Until then, I can not worry about what I may have done, or not done to make things fall apart.  I know that I have a loving heart and that I am a person who does good in the world.  I am a friend you should want in your corner.  In fact, I'm the best.

Until things come around, or the seasons change, I will try to remain positive, continue to help my children through these difficult years, and count the blessings, the support systems, the friends and the family who walk through my life, and help keep me afloat.

I will fill my life with simple pleasures that make me feel something good about each and every day.  In 2014, I hope to be able to keep myself on the priority list.  To make strides in my writing.  To grow spiritually, and to take care of me.  I want to go back to my art lessons and make yoga and meditation a part of my daily life.

Even though everyday when I look in the mirror, I don't always see an awesome human being staring back at me.  Sometimes, I see ...Ugh! You again. How did you get so old? What happened to your skin?  How can you be so lame as to let these children completely take over you life?  

Deep inside I know that my heart is pure.  I am enough.  I am worthy.  I do do good things in this world and I am loved by many.

My apologies now, if I did not mention you personally.  However, please know that if you are reading this ...I love you.  I appreciate you.  I look forward to continuing this journey together in this new year.