Obstacles to Speech Therapy – Dealing With a Stubborn Child

I hate to put labels on my child, but sometimes I just don’t know another way to describe her behavior.  Now, I won’t say she is unique or didn’t come by this honestly.  Her father and I are known for our stubbornness, so when I say it about my daughter it is with love and understanding.

We have come to a roadblock in my daughter’s development.  She is trying to talk and learn to problem solve.  Teaching her has proven to have its own challenges.  First off let me say, she HATES to have someone help her.  Independent to the core!

She loves to investigate news tasks and objects, but in her own way.  If you try to help her with the hand-over-hand method, she will leave the task and refuse to accept your assistance.  This applies to putting on her shoes, clothes, eating with a spoon, and so many other tasks.  We have learned to accept this about her and even admire her independence.

There are days that I find myself struggling with my desire to help her, but I know she doesn’t appreciate the assistance.  For example, One day, I found her hiding in the kitchen trying to put on her shoes.  I was so excited, I tried to assist her.  All I did was hold the shoe so she could see how to insert her foot – SHE LEFT!  I couldn’t encourage her to try again.  Later that month she tried again, but this time she was trying to put her foot in her shoe while standing on one foot.  I realize this is very difficult and tried to show her how to sit down – again SHE LEFT!  This time she even threw her shoe to make her point.  On the positive side, she will let me put her shoes on when it is time to leave.  However, just to make sure we don’t get any ideas about teaching her, she refuses to watch.

With all of this being said, we have known about our obstacles in teaching our daughter.  As we have been trying to help her catch up in speech and fine motor skills, we have been seeing occupational and speech therapists.  I have found this process to be very enlightening, frustrating, and even hilarious at times.

My belief of my daughter’s stubbornness, has been confirmed.  I watch as the therapists trying to work with her, struggle.  As a first time parent, I thought it was my lack of knowledge that made it difficult for me to get through to her.  I was wrong, she truly doesn’t want any input!  Although if the therapist is laid back and lets her direct the play, she will learn and even try to talk.  Conversely if the therapist is pushy and expecting her take direction, she will shut down!

One example stands out in my mind, it left me laughing for a long time.  The therapists were trying to get her to put some balls in a gumball machine.  She was given the first ball and she put it in as directed, but then they asked her if she wanted another ball.  She took the ball and threw it.  She was then instructed to go pick up the ball and place it in the machine.  Shockingly she did, but she did so in protest.  She cried all the way to the ball, picked it up (still crying) and then THREW it in the machine (still crying).  She was given four more balls in which she cried as she took each one and threw them into the machine.  She was actually playing in protest!

I was proud of her for continuing to do as asked, even when she clearly didn’t want to.  This is progress!  I have so many other examples and am enjoying watching her learn.  Nothing beats that look of pride she gets when she figures something out – all by herself!  She still isn’t able to grasp putting on her shoes yet, but she is getting so close!  One day, I know she is going to come into the room wearing her shoes with that look in her eye of “I told you I could do it!”

Love Drop for April – Brenna’s Battle with Tuberous Sclerosis

It is funny how things happen in your life at just the right moment and it can change your path for a lifetime.  Fate, divine intervention, whatever you want to call it…  I have experienced this many times in my life.

During a recent blogging conference I heard about this new organization, Love Drop,  that is working hard to “Change the world!”  and bringing communities together to help those in need.  I have always stood on the outskirts of volunteering and never felt that I had the time or finances to contribute.  But Love Drop has invented a way to micro give and get involved as little or as much as you can, yet still feel good about helping.  Every contribution either small or large is greatly appreciated and makes you feel apart of this movement and community.

My journey into motherhood has been filled with many moments of fear, sadness, and even loneliness.  I expected the birth of my little girl to be a time of joy, happiness and plans for her future, which they still are at times.  Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis at one month old and that is the day everything changed for me.  No one can ever imagine this struggle, until you are faced with it yourself.  Having come from a family with absolutely no history of any serious medical conditions, Heck! – I have never even broken anything!  This diagnosis BLEW me away!!!!  I remember thinking they must have made some mistake, I am the one who goes to the doctor feeling terrible only to be told “It is a virus!  No medications needed!”  I don’t think I have taken a full breath since that day!

I have always been stubbornly independent, even prided myself on not needing anyone to help me, and I believed that life was in my control.  My view has changed, because of my daughter and her condition.  I value my support network of friends and family, I couldn’t survive without them.  I now understand unconditional love, although it doesn’t come without the fear of loss and hurt.  An inner strength is so important to accept things that I can’t change and be happy for right now.  Asking for help is necessary and even essential to survival.

With this being said, I know this is why I was meant to read this story on Love Drop, Brenna’s battle with Tuberous Sclerosis.  This story is about a family fighting for their daughter who has the same condition as my little girl.  I can hear her cries for help in my heart,  I have cried the same ones.  She needs help and Love Drop is trying to give it to her.  Can you find it in your heart to do the same?  Contribute a $1, contribute $20, or just contribute a special gift for this little girl – whatever you can afford is GREAT!  You never know when you will be the one who needs help.

By Shannon Henrici of My Baby Clothes.  Use the code GIVE2TSA at checkout and 12% of your total purchase will go towards the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.  As you look at your beautiful budding ballerina in her new tutu and matching flowered baby headband, smile and think about the other babies you are helping with your purchase.


Shame is something I have been learning more about over the last few years.  After attending Blissdom 2011, I heard a phenomenal speaker who boldly discusses her study of shame in herself and others.  She left me feeling free and ready to tackle this concept of shame.

According to Merriam Webster the definition of shame is – a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.

Who hasn’t felt this at some point in their life?  Brene goes into more depth about shame and how we all have it, the ways in which we handle it makes all the difference.  Shame leaves all of feeling unworthy, as if we aren’t enough just as we are.  It gets in the way of forming connections with those around us, even our families.  It leaves us vulnerable and the less we want to talk about it the more shame is allowed to take over leaving us feeling empty, lost and lonely.

The greatest part about her study is that she not only teaches you about shame, but she also explains how to run it out of your life.  The answer is simple – talk about it, let it out, and free yourself of its burden.  Well, all right!  Maybe it isn’t that simple.  Talking about the good and bad or our lives is very difficult, but it is worth it. “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Brene Brown.

I have let shame burden my life for a very long time, but I am ready to let go.  There are a number of things that I am ashamed of, but I realize that they were necessary in my journey to who I am today.

I am ashamed of my selfish behaviors, especially when I was in my teen years.  I made a lot of decisions that I later regretted.  Gossip and caddy behavior plagued my life and I am not proud of it.  I am sorry for all those I have hurt in my life, due to my selfishness.  I suffered from self hate, lack of self confidence and made many bad decisions because of it.  I wasn’t able to truly connect with others, because I didn’t like who I was.  Superficial relationships and fleeting friendships were my story.  I remember feeling so alone, unsatisfied and very unhappy.  Nothing was ever good enough.

Due to my search for excitement and fun, I didn’t spend time on the things that mattered.  I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t spend the time on my studies and reach my potential.  Finding shortcuts and easy ways out were my shame.

I am ashamed of my past and not always proud of my actions.  But one thing I am not ashamed of is my daughter!  Her battle with Tuberous Sclerosis is difficult, but I am proud to take this path with her.  I am proud of the person she has helped me become, less selfish, more thoughtful, more loving, and much stronger.  I believe in her completely and love her wholeheartedly.  During her journey I realize how important it is to admit my faults, move past them and learn from my mistakes.

Serving as a role model for her is going to be so important.  Showing her how to love herself, believing in herself and having the confidence to stand up for herself.  The one thing she needs more than anything is a place to come home to and the support of her family.

I feel so privileged to have been in attendance of Brene Brown’s amazing presentation.  Her book has become my bedside companion and release for my soul – “The Gifts of Imperfection – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are”.  I am thankful for all my shame and past experiences, they have made me a better person.  My strength comes from these battles and pain of the past.  I am able to learn from my own mistakes.

Aspirations for the New Year – 2011

Not much of a believer in New Year’s Resolutions, I feel that it is just a source for feelings of failure and regret.  Weight loss, financial freedom, spending more time with family – these seem to be the popular resolutions, but they really don’t provide a quantifiable result.  You never have enough money, lost enough weight or had enough time.   Not liking to commit to specifics, my aspirations are more open ended and simple for each new year – HAPPINESS!.

Happiness is a funny thing – it can be faked, it can be fleeting, and even hard to describe – almost like trying to catch a cloud.  For those who have found true happiness, they will tell you it lies within ourselves.  Sound like some philosopher?  Well, I used to believe that I didn’t deserve or know how to find this “happiness”.  I tried to force it, control it, buy it and even manipulate it – all to no avail.   I always had a constant feeling of wanting something different, something more.  During my journey of many twists and turns, I actually have found IT.  The struggles, heart ache, doubts and failures opened the doors to my inner happiness.  Sound strange?  If someone had told me that it would take all of these lessons to get to happiness – I would have abandoned this journey a long time ago.  BUT, if I had to do it all over again the exact same way to get to where I am today – I would say “Absolutely, let’s get started!”  Some might not see my life as successful, but I am proud of my journey and the knowledge I have collected along the way.  Someone once said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, that is a pretty good way to sum up my life.  Happiness is a choice, it involves taking chances, sometimes even going against the grain.  Over the last two years I have faced some of the toughest times I have ever had to face.  Staying true to myself, finding my inner strength and consciously choosing to be happy are what have gotten me through.

My only child was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis in the first few months of her life.  No one in my life has ever faced as serious health condition of any kind, not even a broken limb.  I never dreamed of having to face something of this magnitude.  Sure, I went through the normal feelings of fear, anger, and denial that anyone goes through.  But, my daughter was only two months old, I didn’t have time to linger in the self pity.  I had to find an inner strength to be there for my husband, daughter and even myself.  Many people ask me how I can remain so calm, and I can only attribute it to the journey I have taken.

I wanted the fairy tale, much like anyone else.  It wasn’t in the cards, my first marriage fell apart.  We grew apart and couldn’t figure out how to get back.  I was scared to death, venturing out on my own, no home, no money, self employed, no health insurance and so much more.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it.  So, I put one foot in front of the other and re-invented myself.  Happiness was my beacon and guided my every step.  So, I left a corporate career as a programmer to start a professional pet sitting business – it just seemed to be the right thing to do.  No matter where I was or what I was doing, I would always stop to greet a dog or cat.  I have always been drawn to them, but never pursued a career working with them.  Growing up my parents pushed my focus to corporate jobs for the financial security they could provide.  So in turn, it was my intellectual focus – but my heart was not in it.  Starting this business that was going to take many hours of hard work and not much financial gain, made my family think I had lost my mind.  But, I knew in my heart that I felt so at home and happy with my business of caring for animals.  I managed to get my life back together through the help of many of my friends, my business and the support of my animal family.

Eventually horses became a big part in this equation, the life skills I gained of patience, confidence in my abilities and hard work are key to who I am today.  My path was not the norm – trainers or hours of expensive lessons on trained horses – truthfully I didn’t have the money for this path.  My passion was real and I had to follow my heart, so I found another way.  Many years of working for breeding facilities allowed me to watch, absorb and learn everything I could.

The first time I saw a “freestyle” dressage performance I knew – THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO!!!!  I still get chill bumps just thinking about it.  It takes years of practice, especially if you try to start your own untrained horse.  Unfortunately due to financial constraints, I couldn’t afford many lessons.  Learning came from watching, reading, studying and taking in advice.  Many people were at the ready to tell me to get rid of Dreamer (my Arab), and buy a trained (expensive) horse.  In my heart, I knew that path would be a cop out.  My true desire was to bring out the best in my partner (my horse), whatever that meant.  My little Arab wasn’t able to do a lot of the movements or even compete, her abusive past created many hurdles that couldn’t be overcome in the show ring.  But, she became my trail buddy and would do anything for me – in fact I was the only one she trusted. I was able to build a partnership of trust, which was very rewarding.  For example – she could be in a full rear and one tap on the shoulder with a stern “cut it out” from me, she would immediately calm down.  You can’t buy this kind of relationship.  I can even say that my struggles in training her sealed the deal, in five short years she taught me more that I could have learned from lessons.

Today, Dreamer is retired due to many injuries from her past.  In fact, later in our career I learned that much of her inabilities and previously believed misbehaving were because of the amount of pain she was enduring.  Many times I had vets and trainers watch her to see if she was in pain, no one saw it.  After over 5 years of riding, a Chiropractor/Veterinarian come out to adjust her and found that her pelvis had been broken during those years of abuse (before me).  The pain from this old injury are what had been affecting her ability to build strength in her back.  I was devastated to know that my years of riding were causing her pain from this old injury and no one saw it.  She loved and trusted me, she was willing to endure this pain for me.  Out of love for her, I retired her immediately to enjoy life as my companion.  I grieved the loss of my riding partner.  But her lessons continue on in my relationship with a rescued Standardbred from the race track.  She was only two years old and couldn’t make the cut for racing.   Without theses lessons, Angelina and I would not have developed such a strong partnership of love and trust.  We are working towards the dream I set a long time ago – freestyle dressage.  Angelina is only six years old right now and transitions in my life have slowed our progress – but I will never give up on my dream.  The moment of extreme partnership with my beloved horse is accomplished – you will hear my shouts of joy around the world.

Fast forward to my daughter who is now 2 years old and has some delays in her development due to her condition.  We are working with Neurologists, Pediatricians, and Therapists to help her catch up, but the most importantly I remember to be patient!  I work hard to understand her, even when she can’t tell me what she wants.  Body language, trusting my instincts and reading advice with an open mind are my communication tools.  It isn’t easy, but I turn to my lessons learned from Dreamer.  I get frustrated and even angry, much like everyone else.  Many times I find myself trying to compare her to other children and fall prey to the naysaying professionals – but I know in my heart that Dreamer and I overcame a huge obstacle and together my daughter and I will do the same.  Having fun, enjoying each other, loving her unconditionally and discovering new things with her are the most important thing I can provide.

The side benefit is the gift she has given me, healing of my inner child and finding a joy that I could never imagine.  Much of my life was wasted in a mire of criticism and self deprecation, I am free now.  One look in my daughter’s eyes melts away my pains.  We have managed to meet each new test or doctor’s visit with a fun, light and adventurous spirit.  It is my job to support, even admire, the courage and trust my daughter has shown through so many tests – MRIs, spinal tap, CAT scan, ultrasounds, EEGs, x-rays, blood tests, and so much more in her short life.  In the beginning, each visit to the hospital or neurologist would bring back the horrors I experienced in her first two months of life. I would walk in holding my breath, my bags packed in anticipation of a long stay, and an overwhelming feeling of numbness. Steeling myself against the next report of bad news.  The only thing important to me at that moment was that my daughter be happy and not aware of the pain and fear we felt.

This test has taught me to not try to control things in life, enjoy each and every moment.  No one has the control to stop things from happening – BUT we all have the strength to cope and make the best of the situation.  I work very hard at not trying to predict the future, because no one can tell you what it holds.  In the beginning my daughter’s neurologist didn’t want to give us false hope, so he made the worst case scenario very clear.  At only three months old, we were told that she might never learn to walk, talk, feed herself, or maybe even live past 5 years old.  The one thought that kept running through my head and became my mantra “I can handle this and anything that lies ahead.  I will be strong for my daughter and make the best of the life she has, be it short or long!”  She has overcome many obstacles and is blowing away the specialists with her progress.

So when someone asks me what my aspirations are for 2011, I can honestly say that it is to be “HAPPY”!  It is always my resolution and will always be my resolution.  The definition of what makes me happy is the only thing that changes.  Watching my daughter grow and thrive – makes me happy!  Playing, singing and snuggling with my daughter – makes me happy.  Sharing my love of animals with her and seeing her appreciate them as well – makes me happy.  Learning new things as I take this journey of discovery through a child’s eyes – makes me happy.  Having a loving home and family – makes me happy…..  These are my resolutions for 2011!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network blogging program, for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Inner Mean Girl Cleanse – Giving up Gossip

Gossip, wow!  This is going to be as hard for me as giving up chocolate.  I have known that I gossip, I also did realize how damaging it was.  So, shame on me for not stopping long before now.

Facebook and Twitter are wonderful medias, but they are also fodder for gossips. As much as I love facebook, I have gotten tired of reading statuses that are geared towards bragging and gossiping.  In fact, the term friends for facebook is funny, I think many people use facebook to see how their high school friends and enemies turned out.  It is a secret way of seeing their lives without having to deal with seeing them in person.  FACEBOOK STALKING!  Is this good?  I would even guess that the numbers of attendees to high school or college reunions has dropped for each generation.  The new generation, social media savvy, get their fuel from stalking rather than waiting 10 years for a reunion.

As I spent more time trying to discover my motivations, I realized one main thing about myself.  It is my way of making me feel better about myself.  Sad, huh?!  What is wrong with me that I need to compare myself to others?  I never tried to gossip to hurt others (well maybe a few times I did).  My gossip was more to have something interesting to say to make people want to listen to me.  In most cases, I don’t think I am interesting enough for others to want to listen.

In some further evaluation, I have found the reasons why gossiping became so mainstream for me.  I am a generational gossip, it was passed down from my mother and her mother etc.  It became a norm.

My mom, as beautiful a person as she is, suffers from low self esteem.  In an effort to battle this, she would gossip about others in an effort to bring them down to a level that she feels better about herself.  One of the most shocking things for me was when I heard her say, “I don’t have to know the truth about someone.  I can make it up!”  In her mind this creation becomes the reality for her.  Bless her soul, she was extremely protective of her children.  If one of our friends hurt us, she would find all their faults to criticize them and explain to us why we were better off without them.  I can see that she dealt with a lot of pain and rejection in her life.  The gossip was her survival mechanism.  She is able to put herself back up on her pedestal, by placing others where she can feel comfortable with them.

Now, with that said, I should have learned from this.  I fell victim to this gossip many times.  My family felt rejected by me as I grew and started to develop my own life.  In response to the rejection, they started gossiping about me when I wasn’t around.  My sister’s jealousy and competitiveness has destroyed our relationship.  She would run to my mom with gossip about something she overheard me saying, by using this information she was able to feed my mom’s sickness.  She in turn would be my mom’s favorite.

I hate that I learned to gossip as the only way to connect with others.  I thought if I could have some good gossip, people would want to be my friend.  I know that I have hurt a lot of people with this and I WANT to stop. I am a mom of a two year old little girl and leading by example is my job.

I know in a lot of ways, I have seen and even contributed in gossip to alienate someone.  I have seem my mother and sister unite in their anger towards the same subject.  The gossip about this subject is the glue in the relationship and if one deviates from this anger they are excluded.  I think the fear of being gossiped about is the motivation to continue.  I have heard and even thought the same way, “I am going to hurt them before they get a chance to hurt me.”  I have learned better ways to handle this.  Unfortunately, the hardest part for me to let go of is gossiping about my family.  Many years of hurt and anger, lead me to gossiping about them.  It is my response to knowing they are talking about me.  My pride gets in the way.

One my other weaknesses is when I see a beautiful woman, I have a hard time being around them.  I want ways to find cracks in their armor to make me feel better about myself.  Sad!  Why does beauty have to be a driver for gossip?  I think competition for men’s attention and the media fuels this feeling.  How many times have you heard someone say, “She must be anorexic, no one is that skinny and healthy.” or  my favorite is the pictures of beautiful celebrities in magazines trying to show off their imperfections.  What does an ounce of fat have to do with their ability to act?

In order to combat this part of my gossiping, I stopped caring what others thought of me.  I am taking the power away from those who are gossiping about me.  I know they are going to and I know gossip is real, so I choose not to worry about the things I can not change.  Live and let live has been my motto.  Stop judging others is the key to ending the gossip for me.

I am so excited about this series, Inner Mean Girl Cleanse.  I want to shut her up for good.  It is time to nurture the woman I am inside – Loving, nurturing, loyal, and beautiful!  I want to be an authentic friend.  I do care about others and don’t want to hurt anyone.

A Chance Encounter – A Fawn

I have always loved nature, animals, and just being outside.  Sometimes I forget to slow down and enjoy these things, I have had some amazing experiences when I do.

One of the greatest joys of my new job, is that I get to spend time working from home.  I pull my computer table outside, settle in my cushioned lawn chair and go to work. During one of these mornings working on my porch, I noticed a fawn munching on some grass in my front pasture.  He was so small, still had his white spots.  As I watched him for a while, I noticed that he was alone.  I thought for sure his mother would show up, but she never did.

Over the last few weeks, I have spotted this little fawn near the barn with the horses.  He will run off when he sees me coming to feed.  Still alone!  I am assuming that he is orphaned.  Pretty sweet deal for him though.  He hangs out with my crew, drinks fresh water from their trough, eats their left over oats, and is protected by these other “gigantic deer”.  I am thinking at this point the little guy thinks my horses are his new family.  Kind of funny when you think about it.  Here are these 5 gigantic deer who are feed by humans twice a day, fresh water every day, shelter from the weather, and lazy days to safely hang out.  I am sure he thinks “WOW!  These guys have it made!”

I haven’t gotten a chance to get a close look at the little fella, until the other day.  I woke up at 5 am to take a ride on Angelina, my soul mate.  We are so in sync.  Riding her is so much fun, I feel connected and complete when I am with her.  A little like in the movie “Avatar” when they hook up with the banshees to fly.  Anyway, back to the ride……

Angelina and I were lazily walking around the pasture when we happened up on the little fawn hiding in some brush.  I was only 5 feet from him.  With my being on Angelina (the gigantic deer), I must not have seemed like a threat.  He watched me for a few minutes then ran off into the woods.  Thinking it would be impossible, I decided to try to follow him to see if I could get closer.  I headed off in the direction that he fled.

I wasn’t much help in finding him, he took off so fast.  As I started down a path, Angelina pulled me away through some high brush.  Strange, I thought!?  She hates tall brush.  But, right in the middle of this brush was the little fawn.  She knew exactly where to look and that I wanted to find him.

He took off again.  As fate would have it Angelina slowly sauntered after him and tracked him down 3 more times.  First time, I thought it was blind luck, but the next three showed me that she knew exactly what she was doing.  Her mom wanted to find the little fawn, she found the little fawn.  I have always known that we were connected, but it is always amazing when you are reminded with those magical moments!

As for that little orphaned fawn, he has found his new home.  Pretty smart fella, if you ask me!  I can’t wait for my next ride.  I am taking the camera this time.  I will post the picture soon.

Passwords – Damn forgot mine again……

I have an ever increasing problem – every site that I belong to or account I have requires a password.  Do you know how many passwords that is?  Take a minute to see how many places you have a password.

I have a horrible memory for details like these, it is much worse since I became a mom.  They say that we can only hold so much information in our memory before some things have to move out to make room for new things.  If this is true, then the part of my memory that holds my passwords has moved and left no forwarding address.

I find myself changing my passwords just about every time I need to pay credit cards online.  It is so frustrating!  My favorite part of this process is when they ask you for your security question and the answer.  The answer I am always using is “DAMN!  I forgot that too!”

I have tried making my password one version with a minor change to one letter each time I change it.  Worked great for awhile, until someone hacked into my email.  The worst part was not that my email was hacked, it was trying to remember all of the accounts that I now had to change the passwords.  GRRR!!!!  The damnedest part is that they also hacked into my pay pal account a week later, they not only figured out my password – they remembered it!  I can’t ever remember the password to this account.

I think I was cursed with this genetic defect.  The long running joke in our family is my mother’s inability to remember simple things, conversations, or even our names.  I guess I have learned my lesson about picking on my mother.

One example that really stands out with my mother’s handicap, was when the came to visit me.  I walked into my kitchen to the smell of something burning.  I asked my mother if she was cooking something.  “OH, I forgot my toast!” was her reply.  Very common for mom to forget bread in the oven, we ate many a piece of burned toast in our day.  But this time, the toaster oven was on fire!  I put it out and thinking it had malfunctioned did further investigation.  Somehow she had managed to put the bread BEHIND the pop up baskets.  This was not only strange, but extremely difficult.  I couldn’t remove the bread in the same manner in which it went it.  Her answer was, “I knew it seemed difficult to put in the bread.”

No, my other is not diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or senior moments.  She has been doing things like this since she was in her 30’s.  She isn’t stupid, in fact she has a very high IQ, but her memory is very poor.  GENETICS!!!  I guess this is my future too.

Any ideas on how to fix this problem?  Do you have any experiences where you forgot something?

Unconditional Love – Is It Really A Mystery?

I received an update from one of my favorite sites this morning and it made me think.  Is unconditional love an urban myth?  Are we able to accomplish this?  What stands in our way of true unconditional love?

The topic of this article is Unreasonable Love.  These words are going to be engraved on a plaque to remind me everyday:

To love unconditionally means you don’t need a “reason” to justify loving. In other words…

  1. When you have a good reason to love, then you love.
  2. When you have a good reason not to love, you love anyway.
  3. You love for no reason at all.

I didn’t experience this type of love growing up, everything had a condition and you better be appreciative.  If you weren’t perfect, you were excommunicated.  I can guarantee any of the doubters that this type of love is cruel.  You might even find yourself excommunicated one day, from this type of love.

Why do we put conditions on our love?  The message I heard growing up, “It is tough love.  It makes you a better person.”  Their point was to make sure I learned to survive on my own and didn’t rely on anyone.  Another message constantly repeated, “Your family is the only one who will tell you the truth about yourself”.  There are some benefits to this type of lesson, but the downside is that you learn to be an island.  You don’t rely on anyone and you feel that you don’t need anyone.  Pretty lonely!  Is that the lesson to learn?

I ask myself “Why do we expect so much from those we love?”  Do we try to control them with love as the ultimate reward for compliance?  Is love meant to be part of the reward/punishment method?  We need to stop and ask ourselves – “What is my motivation for what I am doing?”  Maybe there is a better way to gain cooperation, without taking away love.

The time out process can be misused to demonstrate the withdrawal of love for non-compliance.  If our child is not behaving by our standards, do you really think putting them in the corner to be ignored is a good way to set an example of good behavior?  I have seen the threat of time out (isolation) being used in this manner.  Don’t get me wrong, getting frustrated and even angry is normal.  Refusing to love or saying things that are focused on withdrawing from them is not all right.

The process of time out, in my opinion, should be used as a way for your child to learn to stop, calm down, and rejoin the activity.  Nothing is wrong with hugging them, telling them you love them, and you are sorry they don’t understand.  Show them the correct behavior by example and calmly explaining it.  What is wrong with time out in mom’s lap?  You aren’t accepting the behavior, you are changing it through love.  Many times children are so excited they can’t control their emotions.  It is our job to show them the tools to regain this control.  Not isolate them!

During my journey to find myself, I have started to notice many of my lessons were learned from the animals that I saved.  They never rejected me and they showed me unconditional love.  Their hearts were always so full of love and devotion, they weren’t afraid to need me.  I was key to their survival and in some cases I was their last stop.

Just to name a few of them:  Dreamer, the severely abused horse who was headed for a very short life.  Horatio, you can see his story on an earlier post.  Desdemona, the road weary Pekingnese.  Drucilla, the one eyed, deaf, declawed, defenseless, homeless cat (her story is to come.)  Smithers, the bear like puppy with Parvo.  Slinky, the homeless cat who chose me (of course more to come about her as well).  Rosie, the lost, starved, unwanted, saddest hound I have ever seen (yep, I will write her story too).  Oh yeah, how could I forget Abe the retired gentleman who’s owners didn’t find a need for him anymore.  There have been so many kittens I have nursed to health and found homes (Stay tuned for the great story about 30 kittens I saved at one time).  Squirrels, puppies, homeless dogs …..  you name it.  I felt their need and I answered.

I mentioned before that I have been lucky to have met some inspiring animals in my life, that is so true.  These lost souls taught me to love, no matter what.  We all could learn a little from this.  Previous owners of these animals used the “Unreasonable Love” methods and almost destroyed their precious lives.  These animals could choose to never trust or love anyone ever again for fear of the same outcome.  But over and over they choose to love anyway, in hopes that someone will appreciate their love.

My debt to these wonderful creatures is something I can never repay.  They have given me the gift of unconditional love and taught me how to give it in return.  My efforts with my little girl are based on these lessons.  I have found a depth of love that I never knew existed.  I love her for who she is, what she is, and what she wants to be.  My only goal is to help her obtain her goals.  Support, unconditional love, loyalty, patience, forgiving, and understanding are my tools to accomplish this task.

Ask yourself what you can do to show unconditional love to your family?  Share some of your stories of unconditional love and how it made you feel?  What do you do when you find this love tested, how do you remind yourself to show love in all of your actions?

Found On The Side Of The Road –

I have had the unique experience of spending time with some great animals in my life.  Most people love to talk about the most inspiring people they have met, but for me it has been some of the most inspiring animals.  Horatio, the lost lonely dog on the side of the road, was one of these.

Before moving to Georgia, I lived in the boonies of Virginia.  Loved it – long roads with fields of animals on both sides, no cars pass by for hours, no cell phone coverage (not so great at times), long drives to the grocery store (lots of time to contemplate your life)…. During one of these long drives, I noticed a black dog hunched over on the side of the road.  Nothing is extraordinary about seeing dog on the side of the road, Beaverdam (name of the town) is the home of the free roaming hunting dogs.  But this dog caught my attention, he looked as though he was extremely old or very sick.

I was compelled to turn the car around and check on him.  On closer inspection, I saw that he wasn’t old at all, in fact I thought he was a very large adolescent.  Paws were almost the size of my hand, head was a big as a basketball, long gangly legs, long droopy jowls, and super long ears.  Almost as if a Great Dane had mated with a Bloodhound and a Black Lab.  He was extremely skinny, hunched in his back, one ear was swollen to the size of a baseball, and tears in his eyes.  I knew I could not leave this poor guy, so I called my husband.

At that time, I was overrun with animals already in my home – six dogs, seven cats, one horse, and 4 ducks.  So you can understand when my husband said, “WHAT?!!???  NO!”  I convinced him that I was just going to take him home, take care of him, and find him a NEW home.  My husband hesitantly agreed to come help me.  Although, he knew that I had said that about the other 10 animals in our home.

As soon as my husband saw him, all hesitancy was gone.  He insisted that this lost dog ride in the truck with him back to our house.  Upon arrival home, my husband immediately stepped out of his truck and said “Horatio!  His name is going to be Horatio!”  At that moment, I knew Horatio wasn’t lost anymore.

Oh, did I not know what was in store for me.

Immediately I took him to the veterinarian to determine his health.  This guy was not trusting of people, but laid back enough to let you do whatever you wanted.  With this in mind, I walk him to the car for our trip.  As soon as I open the car door at the clinic, Horatio can’t seem to walk.  I was forced to carry this small horse sized dog inside.  All the techs came running to my aide and were concerned that Horatio was paralyzed.  I was a little confused, I knew he could walk.  The hunched posture and the hump in his spine did concern me though.  During the examination, he never stood up.  We couldn’t find anything that would explain his inability to walk.  What we did find was that he was full of worms, heartworms, severely dehydrated, underweight, and incontinent.  Several infections required antibiotics.  His enormous ear was a hematoma from shaking his head, because of the rampant ear infection.  HE WAS MISERABLE!

Determined to help him, I carried him back to my car.  (I failed to mention that my car was a two door Mitsubishi Eclipse – TINY!)  Safely in the front seat we head home.  As soon as I open the car door the previously immobile dog comes bounding out.  WHAT!?  He could walk just fine.  Apparently when faced with fear, he goes limp.  No amount of encouragement will make him move.

During our time together, Horatio amazed me and always made me laugh.  We were able to get him back to health, but were never able to rid him of his incontinence.  He actually leaked urine all the time.  Being creative, I made him a diaper.  Not wanting to hurt his feelings, we called them in “big boy pants”.  He wore the proudly.  You could actually see him smile, standing there in his bright white big boy pants.  He never fought me when I put them on and he never tried to take them off.

Riding in the car was his thing!  I would put the seats down flat in the back, so he could have enough room to lie down.  He almost filled the entire hatchback area.  Most dogs would hang their heads out of the window or fall asleep, but not him.  We would drive down the road with his gigantic head draped over my shoulder.  Another little quirk I learned later – he was going to go with you in the car whether you wanted him to or not.

One afternoon, as I was patiently waiting for him to do his business, he disappeared.  I ran around calling for him, for hours I am sure.  My husband came home from work and started looking as well.  We both were starting to get worried.  I decided to take the car and look for him.  As I am about to start the car, I feel a big head rest down on my shoulder.  He had jumped through the car window and was waiting, for hours, for me to go for a ride.  He did this many more times over the years, my first sign to his stubbornness.

I got a new car – small SUV.  I didn’t want to take him with me as much with the new car.  One day, as I was pulling out of the driveway, Horatio was trying to follow me.  I had to get out of the car to open the entry way gate.  As I have my back to the car, I hear him trying to put his paws on the side of the car.  I am saying, “NO Horatio, not this time buddy.”  I still hear him, so I turn around.  I couldn’t believe my eyes – He WAS ON THE ROOF.  The scratching was his efforts to open my sunroof. I can just imagine the laughs the neighbors were getting at my expense – red SUV, giant black dog on the roof, and me with my hands on my hips trying to reason with him.  Of course, I caved and took him with me.

From Horatio’s days on the lamb, he picked up some interesting habits.  One was stealing.  I was working for a horse breeder and he used to go with me.  The horses loved him.  I think they thought he was a foal.  Many times you would find him standing in front of a stall with a horse licking his face.  I know I saw him smile!  But, as for the stealing, we couldn’t keep a pair of gloves anywhere within his reach.  In fact, one day I laid my gloves on the ground for just a second to undo a horse blanket.  I returned to only one glove.  GRRR!!!!

It got so bad, I had to replace my gloves on a monthly basis.  I went to the local feed store and purchased 12 pairs, the owner kind of chuckled.  He told me he had just sold another lady several pairs.  I laughed and said, “I wonder if her dog is eating her gloves too”.  He told me it wasn’t her dog, but it was a dog.  Uncanny, so I mentioned the name of the owner of the barn where I worked, it was the same person.  HORATIO!!!!!!

Unusually enough, Horatio took a liking to carrots.  In the barn, we used them as treats for the horses.  One day I bought a large bag of carrots (not the pre-cut ones) and put it on the counter in the feed room.  When I returned the entire bag was gone, thinking I had misplaced them I searched everywhere.  I heard the owner of the barn laughing, so I came out to see.  There was Horatio, lying on the ground (smiling) with chewed up carrots all around him.

I miss the old man, he was such a joy!  He definitely kept me guessing and laughing.  Horatio was given 6 months to live when I found him, he lived for 6 years.  What a journey and gift the time was that I spent with Horatio.  He was one of the quirkiest, funniest, and fun loving dogs I have ever met.

The Road Less Traveled

In looking back at my life a poem by Robert Frost popped into my head, “The Road Not Taken”.  I am by no means a literature buff or can even recite poems.  In fact, I thought the name of the poem was “The Road Less Traveled”.  Robert Frost is probably rolling over in his grave right now.

I first read this poem in high school and I guess it resonated with me.  They say that the great writers talk to your soul, well I guess this one did.  (Apologies to my English teacher, I don’t remember anything else.)

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Don’t you think that some of the great people in the world took this less traveled path?  You hear people say, “She is a trend setter.” We tend to flock towards these people who are agents of change.  We want them to show us the way.  It takes a lot of courage to be this kind of person.  You are always making the way for others to follow, but you don’t know as you head down this road where it will end.  No footsteps to tread in, no map, and no previous experiences to learn from.  Some of the people I admire are: Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and then efforts to free others; Susan B. Anthony in her fight for women’s rights and sufferage;  Mohandas Ghandi in his nonviolent approach to civil disobedience that freed India and set an example for the world;  Martin Luther King a human rights icon.

There are so many people in this world that have achieved greatness by taking the road less traveled.  Society promotes that we follow the rules, listen to our elders, fit in with a group, or just be a follower.  Too many times, modern education grades us on how well we follow directions.  Your scores are compared with those ahead of you.  I think parents even gauge their children’s successes based on their own or those of their siblings.  Shouldn’t we be teaching them to find their own strengths.  Guide them to use those strengths to accomplish anything they want.  Encourage them to think for themselves and to ask “why?”

I think I was born with some sort of quirk that made me buck the system, defy the rules, and set my own path.  I can remember my mother once saying, “You seem to always run into the doors before opening them.”  For some reason, I have to know the motivation behind rules that have set.  If I agree with the motivations, I can follow the rule.  If not, I set my own path.  I have this innate ability to want to do things differently than they were done before.

In my parenting, I am trying to encourage my child to have this courage to expand her horizons, take risks, and be courageous.  Due to her condition, having different ways to accomplish the same end goal is going to be key.  Current teaching methods might cause her frustration and inability to move forward.  My role will be to come up with ways to use her strengths to overcome her weaknesses.  Who knows what her future holds?  I hope she is an agent of change and  always challenges herself to take the road less traveled.

I am telling you this, not because I am a leader or role model by any means.  My hopes are that it will encourage you to take that first step down your road less traveled.  It won’t be easy.  There are always bumps in the road, but with each step you will become more and more able to circumvent and handle those bumps.

“When you develop yourself to the point where your belief in yourself is so strong that you know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, your future will be unlimited.” – Brian Tracy

What challenges do you face?  Who do you admire as an agent of change?  Do you have an experience with taking the road less traveled?