We LIT IT UP……Blue for Autism Awareness

We LIT IT UP BLUE

Autism Support
Light it up Blue on April 2, 2012

As I came home last night and approached our house, the shining blue spotlights clearly made a statement. I love that we chose to do this as a way of showing our support for World Autism Awareness Day. It demonstrated part of our commitment in raising awareness for Autism but in my mind, also made me keenly aware of how different we are from our neighbours. As they went on with their nightly activities, I came home…poured a drink…cuddled into my husband and had a good cry.

I was so overwhelmed by yesterday.

Throughout the day, I felt incredibly proud of how people in the world were coming together on one singular day to raise as much awareness as possible. It seemed every store I had stopped into recently- Toys R Us, Home Depot- there was a message about raising awareness. The Autism Speaks website had an incredible amount of shots of structures around the world Lighting It Up Blue in support. Amazing.

I found myself reading a ton of blogs, following a number of streams on Twitter, posted on Facebook, and received messages of support via email, direct message and posts on my walls from friends who generously reached out to make their statement about Autism.

My heart hurt with how many people wrote honestly and with raw truth on what it feels to be a parent with a child with special needs. The one that hit the nail on the head was 7 Things You Don’t Know About a Special Needs Parent. I appreciated so much what Maria Lin wrote in terms of the feelings you have as a parent in this situation.

When I was online after first hearing the diagnosis, I wish I had seen this. Instead I went through months of guilty feelings trying to get past that life will be different now but not really knowing how to move on. (Thus the running)

I feel like the cog in the awareness wheel is finally starting to move a little bit. That people are more and more aware of Autism (and an increasing number of kids are getting diagnosed with some form of ASD) but they still don’t really understand it. No one really does.

Now I find part of me is filled with an unruly amount of impatience. I want to do something. I want to fix something. I want to see change.

I keep thinking we need to look at things just a little bit differently..to better understand Autism and how it works, we could come up with stronger answers on how to help them manage through the key challenges they have in daily life. I used the example to my husband of one of those 3D puzzles you have in the paper. Looking at it, its just a series of spots..but if you let your eyes relax, suddenly you see an entire picture that wasn’t there a second ago.

I am trying to relax… my eyes…just a little bit more.

Autism Diagnosis – 1 year later…It gets better

We’ve officially just passed our first year with an ASD diagnosis.

It’s sometimes hard to believe that it was only a year ago that we first got sucker-punched with the announcement that our 4 yr old son (at the time) was on the spectrum. This year became a test of everything. A test of our patience, a test on our marriage, a test on our ability to learn, to cope, to support, to stay positive, and ultimately to keep laughing.

For those of you new to a diagnosis, here is a snapshot of what might happen within the first year of discovering your child has Autism. (NB: I’m being brutally honest here in hopes to pass on a realistic viewpoint and let you know that you are not alone)

First 2-3 months: Feels like you’re in a foggy haze. I have seen people react many different ways to a diagnosis. Self-pity, frustration, anger, heartbreak. As much as I tried to be positive, there were still moments I felt like I wanted to scream. I couldn’t comprehend why us, didn’t think he was really that far off from regular kids to be defined as Autistic, embarrassed by how often when someone asked me about it I couldn’t hold it together. There will be many tears, often from frustration as you fumble through trying to figure out what you are supposed to do (especially when it comes to finding support and school). You might feel useless, overwhelmed, sad, disappointed and still completely (if not more so) madly in love with your child.

A dear friend gave us a copy of The first 100 Days by Autism Speaks. It helped. Although my husband and I are both Do’ers- I’m an event planner and he’s a project manager and we didn’t get the sit back and process mode, instead stupidly tried to project manage the Autism right out of our little guy.

100 Days of Autism Diagnosis

Source: etsy.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

 

The next 4-8 months: Once we finally got to the realization that indeed our son was Autistic, that this was going to be a lifelong venture and we needed to start adjusting the how to’s in managing his success, we (or should I say I more so than my husband) had a really difficult time informing people of T’s ASD diagnosis. It felt often that people were a bit stunned and didn’t know what to say..choosing to say something like “well, he doesn’t seem Autistic to me” (hated that)..or gave us that dreaded pity look (hated that more). Then there are those friends who say something brilliant and just help you get through. Best examples of peeps we love and their originality that helped so much..

J- Simply said “Oh..so he’ll be an engineer” That matter of fact..like ASD would help guide his career path to a place where other socially awkward folks might hang out..that there was a pre-existing destination that would be completely accepting of the way he functions

G- Who sent a lovely email with “I don’t know what to say” (love her honesty) and that she was there..on call…standing by if we needed her.

T- Who let me just bawl and agreed it sucked and let me rant to her more than once and asked me how I felt…that rarely happened and I would rarely talk to anyone how I was feeling but T and I are that kind of veritable friend soul mate..who can call you out, ask you tough questions and you love them for it

W-Who is one of the most generous hearts I know and also has had a ton of experience in Autism given that she has family who are as well. She was the greatest listener and advice giver ever. Having a ton of wonderful matter of fact conversations that helped me better understand what Autism is all about.

School

In this time period, we also felt the massive and crushing experience of “working” with the school system to get T some help. It blows my mind how often we heard “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”…and they’re right. Chris and I are both very much sit in the camp of you get more bees with honey but this is one example I can truly say, YOU GOTTA FIGHT! FOR YOUR RIGHT…to have your children supported in school. Many parents who went before me with the an ASD diagnosis, kept telling me to advocate for my son. I truly didn’t know what that meant until dealing with his education. It felt like a battle from the word go.. and we have to say we are incredibly fortunate to have a principal we feel supports us and lucked out with an EA who T and another boy share. The key issue..budget. There is 4X as many Autism diagnosis than in 2002 in our province and yet they have not changed the budget significantly to manage how many kids are needing help.This is something I plan to go on a crusade about once we get our lives in order.

Help

Another key change we did was coordinate help. We went to the Triple P parenting class offered by the Geneva Centre for Autism, which I highly recommend for a number of reasons. 1) You get to talk to other parents who are having similar struggles at home 2) The videos might be a bit hokey but they give you great foundations to work with not only your special needs children but parenting in general 3) You start developing a series of strategies for managing through the day to day to keep your spirits high and your energy focused on the positive. We also worked with an Occupational Therapist to look at ways to help him manage (we discovered he is a deep sensory kid and that a really big squeeze hug will help often when he gets overwhelmed). It also explained a lot why he doesn’t like certain textures..(right now jeans are on the outs) as the OT explained for him, its more like sandpaper than comfort..and why he gets really excitable in loud scenarios (his hearing is super sensitive as well) One of our worst moments was in the midst of a fire alarm. A situation I will never forget. The most valuable we are finding is working with a Speech Pathologist. She has made incredible strides with T in making eye contact when he is talking, taking time to think through what he is saying and learning how to be quiet and not talk..something I didn’t realize how important until we started using this as a technique at home. When he is really excited, we put our finger to our lips (for quiet), gesture for him to focus on what we are pointing at and wait quietly while he accomplishes the task. I tell you, getting dressed went from hellish to happy simply by using that strategy.

8-12 months: I think it wasn’t until then that I was actually able to get out the words Special Needs without cringing at the response I was about to get from people. We still get the pity look but I now realize that its simply because they don’t understand. Who I did feel totally got it was all the teachers in my life. One, an old friend from high school, Jamie M simply asked was kind of savant quality had and talked about the 5 kids he has in his class (this makes total sense as he is an absolute ham and would completely “GET” an Autistic sense of humour). The other, my cousin, shared a beautiful poem with us about truly understanding Autism in the form of the Night Before Christmas. It made me cry but also  made me realize how she and many others are part of that quiet strength we have in our corner. Friends and family are what you need to help you get through sometimes. Talking is good.

Marriage

Speaking of talking, the one thing I can’t stress enough is to keep the dialogue open with your spouse. As I was initially researching Autism, I came across a stat that 80% of marriages with special needs end in divorce. It freaked the crap out of me. So a key thing we concentrated on was keeping our relationship strong to be able to stay strong as a family. We set up and maintained date nights, met at the kitchen table for wine, tears and conversation, banded together to fight the school system. We are (what I would say) one of the strongest “teams” around and even then we faltered on occasion- getting frustrated at each other because of being frustrated with the system or bottling up the heartache we had that life wasn’t going to be ordinary in certain ways. That T might or might not do well in team sports, social situations, school..but talking about it and sharing our struggles made sure that neither of us felt alone in this journey. Check out Our Son Destined for a Team for our perspective on sports.

One Year Later

Life is moving forward and we are seeing some great progress in T’s development.I was starting to feel like he was really behind in the way he interacted with kids but he is starting to integrate a ton better and we are working on social situations. In speaking with his support team at daycare/school, turns out he has lots of friends and in that beautiful way that kids are, when he starts getting upset, they somehow have figured out strategies to keep him relaxed throughout the day. (They gave us a great example of T starting to get agitated and one little girl coming over and handing him a train to hold onto…seriously, I turned into a mushy mess in the middle of the meeting).

To anyone out there who might have recently received an ASD diagnosis, it will get better. You will learn to adjust to the changes in your life and the grieving period will start to subside. You might be surprised by how much of a protector, fighter, lover, or comedian you will become. It will likely change you somehow. If it does, be sure to figure out what you need to get through. For me, its been exercise and laughter and an invaluable support system behind us.

Make yourself strong. Mentally, Physically, Spiritually…so that you can help your kids have the best adventure of their life.

Source: etsy.com via Christine on Pinterest

Couch-1/2-Tri: Exercise is helping us combat the challenges of Autism

As you will see in previous blog posts, I started running to get over the anger and frustrations I had in learning our son was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum last year. I ran to let go of all the pent up furiousness and feeling of being completely helpless in  terms of negotiating what we can make happen for our little man.

I couldn’t even get close to running 3km the 1st of January last year. and then we managed through a 5k, 10k and half by October. It’s amazing what a bit of exercise and a new year can do for your fighting spirit.

I didn’t go back to the gym after our half in October. Really didn’t hit it hardly at all throughout the months of November and December, although I ate and behaved like I was still in training. Naturally, the awesome tightness I had developed from all that running went mushy and the weight quickly came back (But I did have one helluva holiday season!)

And so the new year began…full of promise and hope and realization that I will go nowhere if I don’t have a goal to work towards and friends to train with. Fortunately, I have both and my neighbour has agreed to try this one more time. But wait…we’re not just training for a half…NOOOOOO! That would be too easy. We have now decided to join another of our friends to work towards accomplishing a Try Triathalon shortly after the half. An adventure I think it borderline nutty, but one I am excited about conquering.

Getting back into the routine, the better eating habits and the training schedule has felt a bit gruelling..especially as we’ve just returned from a decadent week away skiing, are heading to the south shortly and seem to have a much higher wine consumption interest while hibernating in the dead of winter. I’m not a fan of forcing myself into a cold night either for a run or a swim, in fact it makes me cringe just thinking about it.

Now however, there is something that is pushing me to keep moving forward (aside from my pals). a) I have discovered I REALLY enjoy how I feel once I’ve worked out…getting muscles moving, being more limber, feeling healthier and b) My kids are taking notice that mommy is “doing a great job” of exercising and daddy is “kicking butt” as he ventures off to hockey. We find ourselves looking at exercise as a foundation and lifestyle we are establishing for our kids that will always include physical activity.

Family exerciseIt is so important for both kids- T, who often has a ton of extra energy at the end of the day and exercise helps tire him out in a way that his brain actually shuts down for a bit while he sleeps (You can tell the days he’s active vs not as that’s usually when he’s up at 5am and wants to chat). N, because she’s an energetic lovely little girly girl who I want to grow up in a world where a positive self-image is vital and reflects more so on being fit and healthy than anything else.

This drive for exercise is helping our family and we, as a couple, are growing stronger.  Both physically and mentally. As we combat challenges navigating the world of Autism, it truly does sometimes feel like a never-ending battle. To win..to get the most for T.. to see success, we have to be on top of our game. This is getting us there.

To Oui or Not to Oui?

That’s OUR question..

We talk often about our victories and challenges with our autistic son but we haven’t written a lot on our daughter, N. N is a gregarious, lively, effervescent little 4 year old. She might occasionally be accused of being a bit of a drama queen but her endearing kindness and generosity of heart is something we are so incredibly proud of, we surrender to the “fancy pants” nature of her dramatics and just let her be.

She is too smart for her own good. We have been told more than once that she’s a chatty cathy at school, more so because she’s bored with the curriculum than disrespecting authority. She is extraordinarily creative and is constantly creating her own songs, painting pictures, telling us about the gang of imaginary friends and what they are doing “hanging out” in her room.

All this to say that we are now at one of our first mega cross roads in making a parenting decision that could significantly affect N’s school career and either put her on a path of great success and adventure or have her starting the list of “things my parents did to make me turn out this way”. The decision?

French Immersion.

I know…this is truly not the most agonizing decision a parent needs to make but there are a lot of little pieces to the puzzle that are effecting our decision on this. In part, the decision is being swayed by the fact that N has an autistic brother… very close in age that (over the past year) has really grown into a reliance on each other that I’m not 100% sure we want to change anytime soon.

The Pros

  1. Establishing learning of a new language which could greatly assist in career decisions, travel, and so much more
  2. Learning french at a young age would potentially set her up to be capable of learning other languages easier as she grows up
  3. This could provide her the challenge she needs to keep her engaged and enjoying school
  4. This could be something that is hers…and hers alone. I often worry about her getting her fair attention from us. We are so very cognizant these days of making sure SHE gets big props when she accomplishes something, gets alone time with each parent and even gets disciplined in the same way we treat T.
The Cons
  1. N (as young as she is) has taken on a maternal protection of T at school and helps guide him when they are at daycare together or when they come home having done the same curriculum. Conversely, T adores N and protects her if ANYONE gets upset with her. Their connection as brother and sister at this age is fierce and they truly play and interact almost as if they are twins than 18 mths apart. It’s beautiful and I’m not sure how drastically it would affect both of them if we made this choice.
  2. As much as she is bright, I have heard some terrible stories of how much kids struggle in learning regular subjects in a different language, so much so that if they choose to leave the french program, they are years behind other kids and occasionally have trouble catching up
  3. The daycare and school we have the both of them at right now are amazing and we worked hard with them in the development of assistance for T, not to mention the wonderful friends that N has at the school where she would have none at the new school. This would mean two drop-offs, two pick-ups, twice the school activities

There you have it. My quick synopsis of where we are struggling and time is running out. I ran into another mom the other day and she indicated that they are close to a waiting list at the French Immersion and we had better get a move on. She also indicated that the school is darker, dingier and the staff don’t seem to be AS interested in working with parents on their kids success. Fabulous!

So I am appealing to you, the reader, to let me know your thoughts on whether we should move ahead or stay status quo?

How the IPad has saved my bacon..and kept me smiling at my kids

I know this post might create a bit of animosity with certain peeps. You know, the ones who don’t believe in TV..but this is an homage to today’s world of technology and finding a way to live the life of sanity in a world that is chock a block full of flurried activities, kids hopped up on goofballs, media infusing into every dimension of our lives, and the constant desire for “balance”.

So it is here I make the statement, that I truly think the Ipad saved my bacon (or at least for now, my sanity)…and had it not been for its beauty of creating the ability to compromise, share, educate, entertain and satiate the desires of one 5 year old Autistic little guy and his 4 year old bossy boots sister, I’m not sure I would be in such a happy place at the start of 2012.

Here are 3 examples of how our lives have personally changed with the addition of a valuable piece of technology.

Mornings

  • Mornings were a disaster. Full of hyped up, non-listening moments of repetitive requests to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth and get out the door. Usually ended up with a meltdown (Depending on the day it could either be a parent OR a kid- take your pick) but nonetheless, it wasn’t typically a happy experience. But one crazy day in the fall, my darling husband introduced the IPad and the insanely fabulous games it can produce (like Angry Birds) and suddenly our little guy turned into an angel. Why? Because we employed the First (list of all tasks required to get ready for school) and Then tactic (you can have 5 minutes of playing games before we go). We don’t have to give promise playing every morning now, its just the matter of T has started to recognize that good behaviour reaps good rewards and it is working amazingly well.
Restaurants
  • Any regular kid gets tired of waiting at a restaurant for food. Our daughter is exceptionally driven by food and can turn Medusa on you in a nano-second if she’s hungry (she gets that from her mom) whereas T often finds the crayon drawing papers to be an exercise in frustration as he loses focus quickly and finds challenges when he can’t pick something up or stay in the lines. Enter the IPad, a portable chance for brother and sister to amicably take turns playing a game together, doing word recognition, drawing, spelling, you name it (they know if they don’t play nice its gone) and mom and dad to have a small chance at catching up with each other without having to be on 100% of the time we are out.
Grocery Shopping
  • Quite often in the past would translate directly to H E Double hockey sticks if I had the kids with me. Imagine Groundhog Day and every time I went, it would be a battle ROYALE…constantly asking to stay in the cart, (or close to the cart), Don’t disappear around the corner- (I grew up with a mom who has the kids kidnapped the minute i lose sight of them), singing ridiculous songs to keep them entertained, begging T not to hide under the cart for fear of appendage loss. The entire experience would have the kids upset, me upset and ready for a drink the minute I walked in the door. Voila, we share the Ipad now with me downloading our whole shopping list via epicurious while the kids play and often we are playing against each other while shopping. This has taken something that was causing me to go grocery shopping at 11pm or to suffer through avec the kids to something I actually find enjoyable with them now.

Yes, I know some of you are horrified that it sounds like I am using the Ipad as a babysitter. Maybe I am but I am doing it responsibly and in ways that help my family manage that illustrious balance we all desire and keeps a much happier group together when we get home. I’m not reaching for the wine and I am finding I am smiling more when we roll into the parking lot after our adventures. Think about it.

** I’d like to salute those who have gone before us without technology at their side. The pioneers of parenthood if you will. I once asked my grandma how she managed to raise 4 kids and stay relatively jovial..her answer..”Sometimes, you’d just have to leave the kids with the neighbours, go for a walk and treat yourself to a glass of wine”. Grandma, I’m in!

Come before winter. Do what you need to do now, before it’s too late

This has been a heartbreaking season for many people dear to me. Every week it seems, we are talking with someone who has been dealt a huge loss or going through the stages of a terminally ill friend/parent/loved one as we get closer and closer to Christmas.  We try to be as supportive as we can, wishing we had those perfect words of  comfort to help the people we love but its hard to find exactly what to say.
Hearing news like this often causes reflection on your own life, thoughts of mortality of people close to you, how you are running your life and does a great job of kicking you in the ass when you need to keep perspective on what’s important. What we have realized is most essential for our happiness is spending meaningful moments with the people you love and telling them what they mean to you. No words left unsaid.
My mother in law recently went to a hospice workshop in which the speaker quoted
a line from the bible that (even though I’m not religious) has become a bit of a mantra for me as of late. He talked about losing his daughter and the importance of recognizing that life is too short. He quoted St Paul who (knowing he didn’t have much time left) wrote in a letter to Timothy ‘Make haste and come to me quickly..Come before Winter’.
This resonates with me so much as we navigate through the waters of parenting and parenting special needs in particular. I easily get caught up in feeling the need to clean the house, or organize parts of our lives but am steadily realizing that as I’m focusing so much on maintaining order in our world, I’m missing out on a ton of just having fun with my kids. (Something I am sincerely envious of my husband’s ability to do and boy! does he ever do it well!)  Taking this into consideration, instead of figuring out my to do list the other day, we randomly went to a movie at 2 in the afternoon. To say the kids got a kick out the fact that we were the only ones in the movie theatre is an understatement. That moment was FULL of giggles and joy as we sat through a personal screening of Happy Feet 2.
I am now realizing that I have put off a ton when I was stuck in corporate schlock-land and am hell bent on changing numerous parts of my life. First off, running…
I thought one half marathon was what I needed for my bucket list. That after I accomplished that I didn’t need to do it again. But I’m hooked…I’m missing the discipline of training, and feeling slumpy after having felt so fit for awhile.
I have been inspired by so many stories as of late of people who have just “done it”, “gone for it” and “proven to the world that they can…that now I am intrigued about what else I could do in exercising…My girlfriend has suggested a Try Tri and I am seriously thinking about going for it.
The second, believing in our idea and not letting ups and downs of a challenge bring you down but more focusing on what needs to happen to make a dream become a reality. That Operation Thanks, a project we have designed to say Thanks to the Canadian Forces next year is truly going to be the most epic movement of pride and nationalism, Canada has experienced since the Olympics.
The third, and this is starting to get easier…to relax a bit on the need for clean and tidy and just let go…spend the kind of quality time our kids need to thrive and focusing on what kind of moments we can make together. To help them dream as far and wide as they can and believe that they can do anything.
And if you think you need a little motivation to conquer a dream…watch this.. youtube.com/watch?v=gZ8Ttq…

Our Autistic son destined for a team?

I sit here. Watching my guy skirting around the ice, wobbling, “hockey ready” (our translation: keeping the stick aka:weapon on the ground) and holding my breath till he gets off the ice.

T is loving hockey. Like loves it in a way that he will put down the mouse, step away from the computer, go get dressed, stop doing whatever he is doing to happily head to hockey and get his skates on. You can tell he feels part of a team and embraces the notion of having friends at hockey that he loves to see.

We thought because of his enthusiasm, this might not be as bad as we expected..and that he would come out of this Hockey Skills program with the possibility of playing for an actual team…the verdict is still out..

There are good weeks (many of them in fact) as I watch, amazed, as he gets up and falls down, gets up and falls down, tries and retries to get the puck in the net, over and over again with an incredible amount of determination to keep going.

Then there are bad weeks. The kind of weeks were he is all over the place, skating off in numerous directions, nearly pelting his fellow players with his stick, not listening to the coaches, and seeing them get frustrated over his lack of focus.

They know he is Autistic and has trouble with broad or multiple instructions but you can tell with certain instructors, this is simply 1 of a dozen classes they are teaching this week and taking the time to chunk things down is way too much energy. I don’t blame them…most of them are young guys just making cash to do other things and working with a special needs kid is not necessarily something on their agenda. I’m not sure that at their age, I would have been any different.

So we watch, hardly breathing…keeping count of the good moments to compensate for the not so good ones…reassuring ourselves that he’s not the only one lying on the ice, getting into it with another player, or taking off because he simply does not want to listen anymore.

A couple of examples of our not so great moments..

1) The moment I had to run down to the ice to reinforce that your hockey stick should not actually be held like a tomahawk and attempting to show a friend that he was being mean by responding like a tomahawk was not the solution (he was like THIS close to schmuckin this poor kid in the helmet)

2) Having to watch a repeated antagonist (let’s call him a poop disturber) who constantly jars/jabs/hooks kids (especially T)  and then complains to the coach that one of the kids retaliated and pushed him back. Let’s just say I have already pegged this guy as one of the mean guys on Glee who throw slushies in everyone’s face to make up for their own inadequacy.

and a few great moments…

1) Watching the little guy head towards the goal…focused, driven, bound to score…and then he missed…and missed..and missed…but the fact that he would try, miss and go grab the puck to reposition in front of the net until he actually scored was phenomenal and a proud triumph for our whole family.

2) The time where he walked away from that antagonist…just asked him to leave him alone and simply skated away ??? #epicwin

I’m not sure if T will ever actually be a part of a hockey team (if he does ends up participating, for sure he will be a bruiser Defenseman…making sure NOBODY got near his goal) but for now…we have hope. Hope that this is an experience that he can continue to be a part of, not hurt anyone in the process, enjoy and take tremendous pride in what he accomplishes. That’s all we care about. Nothing more.

Well…and I hope if he makes the big leagues that he plays for the JETS 🙂 They are my hometown team after all ..:)

What I’m Thankful For: Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance

I am working on a project all about Thanks next year. I can’t hardly wait…but I have to exercise patience while we wait for people to make decisions, agree to ideas and come to the table with the support needed to make this effort as huge as we want it to.
While we wait, I have been reflecting on what I’m Thankful for after living through a fairly turbulent albeit incredibly exciting year. Below are a few “Thankfuls” I have realized have been a major part in getting me to where I am these days… happy, fulfilled, and getting closer to balanced every day.

From Twitter to Wine to Work/Life Balance, life is good.
  • I am Thankful for a husband who is truly a partner & gets that in this period of our lives he is the cheerleader, supporter, parent, chief bottle washer and laundry keeper upper. These days I have definitely been the worker bee (this pendulum has swung many times throughout our relationship) but I think he sees that I am energized and excited by what I’m doing vs coming home in a big giant stressball.
  • I am Thankful that being forced into a career change has helped create a much stronger work/life balance than I’ve ever had before in my life. I had a friend recently post on her blog about the time element of work/life balance, discussing the fact that you are never really “on” and “off” working freelance or for yourself. I look at it from a different perspective and see all the other positive elements of that work/life balance, opportunities I have had a chance to enjoy since starting up my business again. A few examples…I can take my son to his speech pathology appt every week without having to beg permission or explain to a boss: I have been able to volunteer at my children’s school, which feels good and right: I can choose when to go workout to stay healthy and focused (certain weeks it doesn’t always work, but I am doing it a heck of a lot more than when I was working corporate side): and my overall happiness is balanced and positive..I don’t rush to get out of the house in the morning…I take a deep breath to enjoy a quiet moment at times…because I can.
  • I am Thankful that I am working on projects that truly resonate with me vs. slogging/marketing products for the sake of a paycheque. Figuring out and coming into my own on what I like to do, the strategy I enjoy developing and the social media engagement that plays a major role in my business.
  • I am Thankful for Social Media. I think in a world of working on your own and working from remote locations, Twitter and Facebook is a way to keep in touch..meet around the virtual water cooler and maintain that base social need people have to stay connected. I am also incredibly Thankful for Twitter. In the past year, I have met online and in real life, some of the most beautiful (and hilarious) people I have ever had the privilege of getting to know. I have such fondness for so many of them and enjoy the daily laughter, quips, support and encouragement that these tweeps have sent my way, and I in turn want to do the same.
  • I am Thankful that I can now fit into Banana Republic sizing (They have fabulous work/life balance cross-over clothing for the fabu working from home gig) because of actually getting into exercising and running specifically, learning to endure it and proudly achieving some major accomplishments this year.
  • I am Thankful for wine…this just an ode to the fact that a glass of wine can somehow magically soothe the day away, be enjoyed at a party, insinuate a romantic moment, and be the perfect company to a girls night out…
  • I am Thankful for friends. Real life, got your back, biggest fan, encouraging friends.  I didn’t realize how deeply those friendships went until so many changes happened in our lives. When I lost my job, I got Congratulations : When I decided to start my business again, I got absolute faith that I could accomplish it: When T was diagnosed,  we got “what can we do?”: When I don’t know how to talk about Autism and the roller coaster of emotions I have felt, they have listened, talked, hugged, been a shoulder, asked questions and quietly waited until we have found the ability to ask for help..Those friends have gotten me through so much and I cannot express to them how much I love them but hopefully as they read this post, they realize how very special they are.  THANK YOU.