Friday, July 31, 2009

The Positives

Being Positive

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”
-Louisa May Alcott

As I was sitting in the hospital one day, as happened a lot when my daughter was younger, another mom came in and we started chatting. Her daughter has a feeding tube button, as well as needed dialysis weekly because her kidneys were dying. The sad part was that a transplant wasn’t feasible since it had been tried before and rejected. This little girl was a spit fire! Personality oozed out of her every pore. At that moment I was the most grateful mother on the planet!
The funny thing was, the other mom thought the same thing about me and my child. “At least I can hold my child and never fear of hurting her” she told me.

Perspective is a strange bed fellow! We each have our own (like opinions and ass holes, isn’t that how it goes?). Spending time in a children’s hospital will always show you a family who is going through something worse than you, and it’s humbling. On the flip side, we don’t always know we are an inspiration to others…we’re just living our daily lives the best we can. I sure am inspired and humbled by all you other moms!! It’s okay to be grateful for how lucky you are. To say “Thank God my child doesn’t have that!” (Hell, I do that in regards to some “average”, yet very bratty, kids and their overscheduled weeks.)

I think many of us are so used to working ourselves to the bone within our own special needs world that we forget to find the pleasure of life outside. We are looking back to fix the past and we miss out on the wonderful future that is ahead. What are some positives about your child’s diagnosis and your family situation? What are you grateful for in your life? What can you step back from and laugh at? Make a list (or lists) and keep it where you can see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. You can’t change a diagnosis but you can change your perspective.

Here are just a few things on my “I’m so grateful for” kid list:
*If your daughter is in a wheelchair, you don’t have to worry about her butt cheeks hanging out or her tummy showing.
*Wheelchairs limit access to go with friends, so I’ll have to transport her to and from places and always know where she is.
*My Asperger kid likes quiet play so I can have time to make dinner.
*PT can wear my kids out so I could get lucky and get a nap in on the weekends.
*Since neither child is really sports inclined, I’m not running to practice all week and tournaments on the weekends. Saves me money and headaches!

Another positive of having SPED kids – I understand the fragileness that life is. We’ve been put in the life or death situation more than once. Time is precious and I don’t have to waste it on dumb things – I have a ready-made excuse. High maintenance friends are gone, committee memberships I felt I had to do are over, and I just send a check for school fundraisers and don’t bother doing them at all. Mask on me first, my kids second, then everything else in priority order. I also don’t have to watch the sappy movies to remind myself to be grateful for my life: I can open my kids’ doors at night and watch them sleep for that.

The rough days will come and sometimes it’s very hard to see the positives when you’re in the middle of a life melt down. That’s when you will need to find a mantra, or a few mantras, to say to yourself as a reminder of your strength, your courage, and your pleasure in life. Say it over and over until you believe it every day. Some of mine are “This too shall pass”, “I am the rock”, “Slow, calm, smooth”, “Abundant wealth”, and “Live, Love, Laugh”.

When the day is done and you survived outstandingly well (which simply means everyone is still alive) you can reward yourself with your favorite positive pleasure. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Give yourself all the kudos you deserve. Brag on you! Toot your own horn! Lavish in self pride. Another day is coming and you need to start it off as positive as you can.

Sending positive vibes to you,

Thursday, July 16, 2009



Today is an extra personal blog. Last week I started on anti-depressants. This was a HUGE deal for me! I don’t even take aspirin. I decided to take my mental health as serious as my body health because my relationships with myself and my family were, I felt, at the bottom of the barrel. I tried many different tactics to pull myself out of my funk, but time, money, and commitments are factors that are fixed. Shopping, alcohol, and endless hours at the gym weren’t going to help my family and sneaking in an hour at Target just wasn’t cutting it.

I tried my hardest to be “the super mom” and I’m happy to say that I failed. My expectations of myself and the expectations others have for mothers is ridiculous.

Depression doesn’t mean that you are in a ball on the floor of your closet sobbing 24/7, though it can be that. There were many moments over the years that I was very happy. But the underlying feeling of being overwhelmed was a constant low vibration within me. Two special needs kids, a husband, a job, a house, family and friends. Pleasing them all didn’t leave any room for taking care of me. And quite frankly, no one else was taking care of me either because I didn’t ask them too. When the help didn’t magically come I thought I wasn’t worthy of their consideration, and deeper I sank into the barrel.

I’ve also felt, and heard from other friends, that admitting you’re on anti-depressants means you are weak and can’t handle things. No it doesn’t. It means that there are stressors in your life that are blocking your brain chemicals and you just need to help re-wire a few things to run more smooth. Depression usually runs in families, whether or not anyone admits to it. And let’s face it, raising special needs kids means you need more help anyway. Our society, and the insistence of independence away from the village, is killing mothers. Moms are the highest ranked group of people in the world of depression, only above divorced dads. So, obviously, you are not weak, you are human. Not super human, but average.

The two medications I’m on are supposed to:
1. Help my brain shut off at night so I can sleep and
2. Even out my moods during the day.
It’s only been one week and I honestly can’t say either is working so far but that is expected. It takes at least a month for the meds to start their best work in your system. I will say that my body has felt like lead, very heavy limbs, for the first few days and I’ve been yawning all day every day but the symptoms are lessening as each day passes. In a funny way, I’ve been so “hung over” that I haven’t cared about much, so perversely the anti-anxiety drugs are working. I’m a bit slower and more easy-going. Always a way to make a silver lining!!

I share this experience with you because I want you to know that you aren’t alone. Hope is there in many different forms. There are many of us out there who can answer your questions and give you support, no matter what you are going through. I will keep you updated on my progress. Take care of the whole you!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Better Bellies

Well, after a nice long holiday weekend, it is officially swimsuit time and I can hear the groans from many of you. Not only do you have to pack a billion things (just in case) for a 2 hour stint at the pool, but you need to fit into last year’s suit after a long winter.

Personally I judge myself on whether or not I can see my feet. If my belly is bloated so much I can’t see my toes, I know I need to do a little maintenance ASAP. The secret weapons are….drum roll…….diet and exercise. Okay, Okay, I know, not rocket science, but it’s the kind of diet and exercise that makes all the difference.

Bellies can bloat for many reasons, but two that are overlooked are Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance are both on the rise, and according to Natural Health magazine, some experts believe they’re doubling every ten years. Why? It could be from how wheat is being grown and processed. Genetically altering the crops is taking its toll on our digestive systems.

If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor:
1. Frequent abdominal pain
2. Bloating
3. Bone pain
4. Constipation
5. Diarrhea
6. Fatigue
7. Low moods (even depression)
8. Muscle cramps

Getting tested isn’t a big deal, but you need to do it BEFORE you start eliminating things from your diet so you get true results. The blood test will look to see if you are making auto-antibodies (proteins made by your immune system that attack cells) to gluten. If the blood test is positive, your doctor will want to see if there is any damage that your immune system has done to your intestines. Your intestines absorb nutrients so you want them as healthy as possible.

Celiac Disease = damaged intestines
Gluten Intolerance = no damage, but body can’t break down gluten

I have been told that I have both, so I don’t know which diagnosis is right, but I do know that I need to watch what I eat. My round lower belly isn’t fun and I pay the price for eating things I know I shouldn’t….like the whole weekend over July 4th. Gluten is everywhere! Seriously look at labels for any forms of wheat, rye, barley or triticale. It’s in play-doh, lipsticks, sauces, toothpaste, and many things in boxes and cans. You’d be shocked at how many products use those ingredients as fillers. It’s as bad as high-fructose corn syrup.

But life isn’t all bad. Fruit and veggies are a big GO! I can also have rice, potatoes, corn, soy, tapioca (yeah!), nuts, and a few other grains like buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. You can find tons of stuff at and . I also take a probiotic just to help my digestive system get a step up. Am I good every day? NO. I’m a sucker for bread and brownies like everyone else, but I try to limit what I can.

The other thing that really helps is Pilates and Power Yoga (not meditative yoga). Both forms of exercise use your core abdominals intensely….thus moving around everything on the inside to keep it going in the right direction. With both Pilates and Yoga, you must breathe deep and be precise. Controlled movements are key. You will sweat if you are doing it right, and the muscle gain will be tremendous. Cardio has its benefits, but it’s important to give your mind and core some attention as well. Plus, neither of these really needs any equipment when you are starting out.

You can take a class at your community center, check out a book, or rent a video for home. I happen to really like the Windsor Pilates set of videos, but there are many out there to choose from. The three best reasons to take a class are because the instructor will push you farther than you will yourself, you’re more obligated to go since you paid for it, and people are expecting you to show up. When doing workouts at home there is always something that comes up you could be doing instead. But, I completely understand the time and money factors of taking a class, so books and videos are still great opportunities for you to increase your health.

Make this your summer! You are fabulous, beautiful, smart and sexy. You will have a body and mind at the top of your game because you deserve it first, and your family deserves it second. You just can’t put a price on health and happiness. Go for it all!!