Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Quiet is Everything

It's strange to have peace and complete quiet in my house. That’s not a thing that has happened for years. There is always noise of one kind or another. The landline ringing. My mother’s daytime television shows, “Judge Judy”, ”The Price is Right”, “The Young and the Restless”. (OMG! If I have watch Victor Newman die and come back to life one more time, I would have to shoot myself.)

Not all of the noise was loud noise. Some of it was benign noise but nevertheless, annoying noise. 

There were years of explosions that could happen at any given moment in this house. It was like living in a War Zone. The boy’s teenage years were full of meltdowns and sibling fighting. When Kendal lived here there was non-stop talking, ranting, complaining, and following me around from room to room until I threatened his life. I could never watch a live television show if I wanted to hear the whole thing unless at least one person was out of the house. 

More recently the explosions are “conversations” between my husband and Blue, my 20-year-old. Blue is a lot like I was at twenty. I did not want to be controlled. He doesn’t either. The difference though is that he is still very much dependent on us. He works, but he doesn’t have a car yet. He doesn’t make enough money to fully take care of himself. We still pay for his transportation and he usually runs out of money before the next paycheck. Therefore, there are uncomfortable conversations that have to be had on a regular basis. 

For a long time, I just didn’t really enjoy being at home. Home has been a place from which I needed to escape. There was always noise, bad energy, conflict, and conversations that I didn’t want to hear or be a part of. My husband is a talker too. He and my mother would constantly listen to political news and talk about how horrible the world is on a regular basis. These were conversations that I just did not need or want in my life. Not to mention, my husband works from home. He is constantly on loud conference calls. And frankly, I think he loves the sound of his own voice. 

Every since Kendal moved out, I crave silence. I love to be alone. Some days I put on my “Beats” and drown the rest of the world out just to make things tolerable. 

Me and Mom after her hair appointment
So a few weeks ago, after almost 10-years, of living in the downstairs dining room of my house, my mother moved into her own apartment. It’s a senior independent living building located literally just around the corner from my house. It had come to the point where Mom could not or would not attempt to climb the stairs because of arthritis and pain in her knees. All of our bathing facilities are on the second floor of our home. She needed a more accessible environment. 

Convincing her that we needed to make this change was no piece of cake. I had her work with Occupational, Physical therapists and doctors for months to get her to believe that she had the strength and tenacity to make this happen. She was starting to convince herself that she needed me to do everything for her. Instinctively, I knew a lot of her apprehension was anxiety. Her brain is way too sharp for her to be as dependent as she was becoming. I just did not have the capacity to do 24/7 caregiving after so many intense years of raising my special-needs sons.

I swore months prior to her move that when she left, I would be getting rid of the house landline. I actually had to fight with my husband to make that happen. The phone was primarily used by mom to stay in touch with our relatives and her friends. Otherwise, the constant ringing was either telemarketers or my son, Kendal who would robo-dial the house phone over and over and over, if I didn't answer my cell, which I also keep on silent for the same reason. 

Phones ringing is one of many triggers for my anxiety. A pleasant phone call for me is the exception, not the rule. This comes from the days of schools calling to let me know there was an issue with one of the boys and I needed to fix something NOW. My call logs are full of nothing but calls from one of the boys in a panic because they needed something from me...NOW. There is always work and drained energy on the other end of the line. 

So, my landline is gone. My cell phone remains silent. I had to set a new boundary with Kendal about phone calls. I simply refuse to answer his calls and texts all day long. Basically, our arrangement is, don’t call me. I’ll call you. Maintaining this boundary is a constant work in progress.

My mother and Judge Judy now live around the corner. I am creating a more silent, and peaceful world. I am not constantly accessible to do all of the things for all of the people.

Mom is doing great by the way. She is more motivated to live her best life and take care of herself as much as possible. She actually likes her space. She doesn’t have navigate around all of our junk. Her refrigerator is just for her. Her bathroom and walk-in shower do not have to be shared with young men. Her paths are clear to walk through her space as she wants to. 

She has plenty of help coming in and out all week from her caregiver, who totally pampers her with delicious home cooking, to all of the therapists that she still works with. I am there almost daily. My husband and son also visit her regularly. I can be at her door in a four-minute walk or a one-minute drive. At 80 years young, she is becoming an independent woman. 

I am happy as f*@% in all of this silence! I actually play music now through the stereo during the day. I stay at home and write. It’s especially sweet when my husband travels for business and Blue is at work. In fact, it's pretty close to heaven.

You can love your family and need space from them at the same time. It is allowed. In fact, all of your feelings are valid and allowed, no matter what anyone else thinks. 

I’m sure that isn’t politically correct to say that I am so happy with the silence in my home with two of the adults who were living here out of it. Mom will probably hate it if she or her friends read this. I don’t apologize. I am still dedicated to taking care of her. 

I don't write for my mom or her friends. I write for me and all of the women like me who are caregivers to adults, who are wives and mothers to children with special needs, who wish that they could scream their truth out loud. 

I hope that you will and don’t apologize for it.  

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Top 10 things I wish I had known In High School.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of high school students at one of our local schools. I was invited by a teacher/friend of mine. Somehow she thought I might have something relevant to say to the African/American History Club that she sponsors. She asked me to speak about my "career," which I did. Mother, Wife, Caregiver, Autism Advocate, Writer, Creator of an online autism support group.

A good part of the time, my self-esteem is in the toilet. It's like I know I'm a badass, but only kinda, sorta. We all have some insecurities. I guess a part of mine is because I haven't reached all of my goals.  Been a little busy.

Anyway, I didn't want to make it all about me. Because, who cares? So I added this list to my presentation. I hope the students got something out of it, other than the donuts I brought. Ha ha!

Top 10 Things I Wish I had Known in High School 

  1. Find your passion and follow it!  Don’t worry about what other people think. What do you love doing that you would do for free if no one paid you? I always had a passion for writing and telling stories. From YearBook Editor in high school to English Composition which was my favorite class because it allowed me to be creative. 
    I enjoyed high school English so much I wanted to teach it. But No...I listened to my mother and studied business in college. I got into Property Management, Real Estate and the mortgage industry, which was a great learning experience.  However, years later I found myself back to my passion for writing. 

  1. The best love affair you can have is with yourself. Learn to love yourself and listen to your inner voice. In your teens and twenties, relationships are something, but they are not everything. You will have the time of your life. You will meet a couple of jerks. You may even meet the love of your life and still end up heartbroken. It won't feel like it at first, but your heart will heal. Each relationship is an experience that teaches you something about yourself, so it’s worth it. I don't regret one, single relationship I had. I do regret how much power I gave them.

    Never settle for less than you deserve just to be with someone. You can be happy. You don’t need a relationship to validate that. 

  1. Freedom is everything!  The ability to choose your own path, your career choices, where you will live,  without thinking about what other people think, need, or want from you is priceless. 

  1. Take every chance you can to see the world. -Acquiring things, and wealth is great. But you will always treasure your experiences more than your things.  -Take the trip. Go to the concert. Instead of buying the things that you may not even like next year. Get your passport and acquire as many stamps from other countries that you can. Put your toes into as many bodies of water as you possibly can. They're all healing.

  1. Mistakes are okay. Don’t beat yourself up when you make them. Failures and mistakes teach us the most important lessons. Make sure you pay attention to the lesson and don’t keep following a pattern that doesn’t work. 

  1. Friendship -You do not have to chase TRUE friends. You don’t have to always make the plans. Always make the call. You will mutually reach out to each other. You will offer each other comfort and advice. True friends will not make you feel less or unworthy. 

    With a true friend, time can pass without seeing each other and you still pick right up where you left off. 

    Also, become friends with people who don’t look or think just like you. You will learn from each other.

  1. As a minority ...you will have to work harder than your peers in Corporate America and many other areas of life.  It may not be fair, but it’s a reality of life. Always work hard and do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, someone else is always looking. Let the results of your work speak for itself. If your results are good, eventually you will win the game. 

  1. Helping others is good for the soul.  It helps you to get outside of yourself and to bless someone else. My son had the biggest struggles in high school. It was when he worked with other students with special needs that he felt the best. Those kids were always genuinely happy to see him when others rejected him.

    The support group and this blog that I created is probably my favorite accomplishment because I reach so many people all over the world and help them feel less alone.

  1. Marriage and children are a huge responsibility! It can limit your choices. The two sons I gave birth to, are on the autism spectrum. Meeting their needs was really a full-time job.  Marriage is hard and long. You definitely start compromising your own wants and needs for your family. 

    My niece (is my hero) because she is following her passion and not a guy. She just graduated from AFI (film school)  and has already traveled all over the world and has already worked on a major television show. “How to Get Away with Murder.” I always told all of my nieces to enjoy life as much as possible before settling down. So far, they are listening.

  1. Life is not a race. You don’t have to conform to anyone else’s timeline. It’s never too late to live your dreams. You are not a failure if you haven’t graduated college by 22 or received your Masters by 26. Or published that memoir by age 54. The only failure is if you stop moving forward.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

"21 Day Self-Love Challenge"

A little over a year ago my friend Becca started making daily self-love/self-care posts on her facebook page Love Becca. I thought she was secretly spying on me. It was as if she was speaking directly to me.

Let me tell you a little bit about my friend...

Love Becca

Becca is a single mama to a teenage girl, living in the greater Los Angeles area.  She has worked as professional organizer for 18+ years, having started out in her career working as  an actress. She is also a certified Feng Shui consultant. Throughout her career, and being a single parent, she discovered the importance of living a happy and well balanced life. She believes you have to treat your mind, body, and soul with love to obtain true happiness...Self Love

Becca was my very first roommate when we were both in our twenties. I can attest to her natural talent of organization. She was then and is now, everything that I'm not with organization and planning.  At the same time we have so much in common. We both ended up back at our passion for writing to support women.

In her daily Facebook posts, she talks about simple things that we should be doing to take care of ourselves as women. During my busiest years with the boys, I have been guilty of ignoring my own basic self-care.  For years I allowed my family to be a priority over taking care of myself.

One day she wrote about making regular doctor appointments. I was like...Hello. How does she know I’m overdue for my annual exam by several months.  Then she wrote about drinking more water (not including the ice cubes in my vodka cocktail.) She wrote about having dates with yourself, doing simple things that you love each day, to spending more time doing something creative.

Her writing speaks directly to me.

I believe that her "21 Day Self Love Journal Challenge" will speak directly to you. Better yet, it will give you the opportunity to have a serious talk with yourself.

I hope that you will click the link above and take the challenge. This challenge changed my life and the way that I look at myself. It got me further down the self-love road.  I hope you will take the time to give back to your self.