Swan Mothers

Discovering Ourselves through Parenting

Autism Awareness Flight (1)

This post is brought to you from 30,000 feet in the air, from Phoenix to Detroit. As I look at my fellow passengers, I see people napping, reading, chatting, working. In three hours, we will have traversed most of the country.  Yet no one seems astounded by the magic that we are experiencing, sitting in cushioned seats flying through the air. Just as few seem to perceive the magic that is present in today’s children.

Mountains and Red Earth

We’ve been in the air less than 20 minutes. Already the landscape has changed from mountains to green valleys to flat red Earth. In the distance, I see smoke as some part of the Earth transforms from wooded to charred. Below me, I see vast spans of almost-untouched Earth.  Narrow roads wind through the red plain, but there are no farms, few buildings. Newly alert after my time in Sedona, I take in the majesty of our Planet. And I wonder what I missed all those times I boarded a plane and fell asleep before the plane even took off. I wonder too what I missed while I was worrying about labels and growth charts and milestones. What miracles were unfolding while I was analyzing child development charts and evaluating information from books?

Gorges, Canyons and More Mountains

Out my airplane window, I see deep gouges in the Earth. There was a time when I would have wanted to know the name of these formations and what geological events were responsible for this dramatic design on the Earth. Now, I am content to gasp in wonder, to look. There was a time when I wanted a name for what was going on with my children. Now I am content to be dazzled by their brilliance without understanding every reason for how and why they are the way they are.

My Version of Autism Awareness

I don’t need to label what I see out my window. I don’t need to label children or people. My practice of autism awareness is to honor magnificently unique people in all their expressions.

Clouds

We are flying over a thick layer of clouds. Of course, there are countless creations of Nature and Humanity below, even though I do not see them. There is much talk in some parts of the autism world of children in shells, children to be recovered. This is not my perception. Perhaps there are simply clouds obstructing our view. Clouds have purpose, function, and beauty. Clouds move and change. Some of the clouds are in our eyes.

Farms between the Clouds

There is space between the clouds. The ground below me is divided into astonishingly precise squares. Every inch, as far as I can see has been conquered by humans. Some of my family’s food is probably grown here. For this I am grateful. Yet as I gaze at the grid below, I find myself overcome with sadness as I consider: What have we done? What are we doing? Is the world ours to conquer, to plow and poison and fertilize into submission? Are our children ours, to bend to our wills and our visions for them? This post has gotten long, so I will tell you about the remainder of this flight in Autism Awareness Flight (2).

 

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The Amazingness of Atypicalness in the Age of Half-Bloods, Wizards and Magical Creatures

All around the world, influenced by brilliant stories from gifted authors, children who thought they were different in a bad way are discovering that they are, in fact, different in a magnificent way.

  • Harry Potter thinks there is something wrong with him because his family forces him to live in the cupboard under the stairs.  Plus, he “makes things happen” and can talk to snakes.
  • Percy Jackson has profound ADHD and dyslexia.  He’s so “bad” that he has never been able to attend the same school two years in a row.
  • Elissa is being raised by an old woman as a servant in a castle and knows only that her mother is dead.  Yet, she is the daughter of a king and deeply connected to the Earth by her magical powers.
  • Aang is the last of his kind.  He is the only person left on the planet with the ability to bend air.

At the heart of every myth and legend lies a grain of truth.

Grain:  The smallest possible amount of anything, a small, hard seed – the essence, crux, heart, significance, or soul of the matter.

How do the stories of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Elissa and Aang reflect what is going on with our real, uniquely magnificent children?

It is neither surprising nor coincidence that there so many hugely popular books and movies about magical children have been produced in the past two decades.  This is the same time span during which magical children began appearing on Earth in large numbers.

Many of today’s children are called indigo, crysal or rainbow, autistic, ADHD, atypical or neurodivergent. They probably arrived via quite-ordinary birth.  But those who are paying attention see clearly that there is something different about our children.  Some want to call the differentness disorder or disability. I call it magic.

Learning from the Magical Heroes

Each of the characters mentioned above must find his or her own way for the old ways no longer work.  The premises have changed.  Their perceptions of themselves have been turned upside down.

Harry must shift his perspective from the Muggle to the Magical World.  Percy has to embrace his god-nature.  Elissa, a humble girl who knew her own mind even if she did not always choose to speak it, embraces her mission and taps into powers she had not realized she possessed.  Aang, at only 11 years old, must restore balance in the world.

As our heroes become attuned to their powers, they realize that with great power comes great responsibility.  This can be a heavy burden for a child or teenager to carry.  Our heroes waver, err, and complain, but they stay true to their calling.

In each of the books of the Harry Potter series, the Percy Jackson Series, the Phoenix Rising Trilogy (Elissa’s story) and the Avatar:  The Last Airbender Saga (Aang’s story), it is not only the hero who is magical.  Friends and enemies have magical powers too.  Our heroes do not possess unique gifts.  They possess gifts that are available to many.

As we notice our children’s gifts and talents, it is useful to consider:

  • What are my gifts and talents?
  • What can I do differently than I have always done it until now?
  • Am I working from an obscured premise?

Parenting the Heroes

In many fictional accounts, the heroes’ parents are conveniently missing. Harry’s parents are dead.  Percy’s mother, fully human, is not allowed at Camp Halfblood and his father, a god, does not have time for his half-human children.  Elissa’s mother is dead and her father is missing.  Aang’s parents have been dead for almost a century.

For those of us parenting magical children, there is no hint in these books of what the children might need from us.  We are left with a bit of insight into the children, but with no new information on what is required of us.

You must get used to the fact that there are many things in magic which are not and never will be explained. God decided to do certain things in a certain way and why He did this is a secret known only to Him.”  (Paulo Coelho in Brida.)

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

“May your path be one of peace in times of peace, and of combat in times of combat.  Never confuse one with the other.”  (Paulo Coelho in Brida.)

Again and again we are presented the lesson that there is nothing to do but carry on, taking one step and one second at a time, learning what we can when we can, being willing to walk in the dark.  Without a roadmap or a manual, we learn to listen and watch our children and our hearts.  We figure out a way to make it through each day.

I love listening to podcasts. Here’s a good one about being your true self.

 

In Autistic Hermione Thoughts, autistic blogger Alyssa of Yes, That Too, writes about reading Hermione as an autistic person.

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A New Kind of Time Out

Most of us are rather enlightened parents these days.  When our children hit or scream or take another child’s toy, we don’t spank them.  We put them in time out.

There they sit, one minute for every year old, contemplating their transgressions and regrouping.  They take a break from out-of-control emotions and behaviors and call on inner resources and external support systems to return to a harmonious state.

As I walk through our modern world, watching adults running like hamsters on treadmills and children getting exercise from wii and x-box games, I wonder:

If children had more time out(side) and time off, would they still need time outs?

We live in an age of over-stimulation and overwhelm.  For all of our time-saving devices, we work more and sleep and relax less than humans of times past.

Children need time off from school and from schedules. They need to have time to do nothing and time to do whatever they want.

There are studies that validate the importance of play in the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills.  But we don’t need studies.  Be observing our children at play, we can see this natural development in action.

IMG_20110808_111243When my children were 13, 11 and 8, they often played in our yard with the neighbors (12 and 10). They figured out how to play kick-ball and other games in a way that was fair. They made adjustments for ages, special needs or extra skills (my middle child is autistic), number of children out playing that day.

“Sarah and I get only two outs and the boys get three,” my daughter informed me one day.  The next day, if three or four of them wanted to play, they found another solution.  No adults mediated or suggested anything.  When they are red-cheeked and sweaty, they reach for water and flop on the grass to rest.

Implementing the New Time Out

Amidst school or homeschool activities, sports, music, and dance schedules, and work obligations of parents, it can be challenging to find a way to, as my children say, chillax.  Here are some ideas to get started:

1.      Take a Mental Health Day away from school.

Let the kids stay home and do nothing once in a while.  This may keep them balanced and healthy so they don’t have to get sick to get a break.

2.      Schedule at least one day per week with no planned activities.

For us, this is Sunday.  We all look forward to it.

3.      Encourage free play.

Let the children fill their own time.  Save your boxes and paper towel rolls and see what happens, even if your children are in middle school or high school.

4.      Spend time outdoors that is not in organized sports.

Children love to make up their own games or explore.  You don’t have to do anything (beyond ensuring safety).  They will create worlds, climb trees, and make their own fun.

2805_70655739737_5197931_n5.      Be Silly.

I’m not good at silly, but the children love it.  So Daddy takes over and they giggle and scare each other and tell jokes.  If you need help, share your children with an adult who knows how to have fun.

6.      Go All the Way:  Take a Year Off

Consider how you can take a Really Big Time Out.  Take a vacation.  Homeschool.  Travel.  Enjoy.

Check out these families who did it.

One Year Off: Leaving It All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children by David Elliot Cohen

The Family Sabbatical Handbook: The Budget Guide To Living Abroad With Your Family by Elisa Bernick

Benefits of the New Time Out

There is a Sufi tale that tells of a scholar being ferried by Nasrudin across a body of water.

“Have you learned mathematics?” he asks the ferry-man.

“No,” Nasrudin replies.

“Do you understand the sciences?” he continued.

“No,” Nasrudin answered.

Next, the scholar chided Nasrudin for his ungrammatical language, and, hearing that the boat-man never went to school exclaimed, “Half of your life has been wasted!”

Shortly afterwards, Nasrudin asked him: “Did you learn to swim?”

“No, I did not,” replied the scholar.

“Well, in this case it seems all your life has been wasted.  We are sinking,” said Nasrudin.

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are useful skills.  Proficiency in sports, music, and arts can bring much enjoyment.  But over-planning and over-scheduling may produce an ignorance of how to live.

After I post this, I will go and enjoy my own time out(side).  I hope that after your read, you will too.

Want to believe this is possible but don’t?  Join me starting January 2014 and shift to joyful thinking and easier living. More information coming soon.

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6 Tips for Surviving the Darkest Days

There are times in the parents’ journey when we do not see the light. We forget that there is light. We feel abandoned by everyone, utterly alone.

At times like these, it is appropriate to feel our pain, to swim in our despair. It is healthy to allow all of our feelings to flow through us. It is not necessary (and often, it is not possible) for us to cheer up and put on a happy face.

The thing to remember is that we want the sadness to keep moving. We want to allow our sadness to be. We do not want to drown in it.

Six Ways to Support Yourself During the Darkest Days

1. Honor your sadness.

Find a way to take some time for your sadness and yourself.

  • Light a candle.
  • Sit quietly.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Ask your sadness: Do you have a name? What do you want me to know?
  • Listen. (If it feels strange to do this, try it anyway. I have often been surprised by the insights that came when I asked myself such questions. If you hear and feel nothing, let that be okay.)

2. Support your body with nourishing foods.

Your body needs to be nourished with healthy foods to remain strong. Let this be easy.

  • Brew a cup of nourishing, relaxing tea such as oat straw or chamomile.
  • Mash an avocado with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime.
  • Order a smoothie or a cup of soup.
  • As you eat or drink, feel every cell and every organ in your body being fed and sustained.

3. Accept help from Flower Essences.

In the early 20th century, Edward Bach discovered that each of our negative emotional states could be brought into balance with a flower essence. Bach Flower Essences may be purchased at most health food stores.

  • For general emotional support during difficult times, try the combination of four flower essences called Rescue Remedy. Put four drops of the essence in a glass of water and sip throughout the day.
  • Other flower essences may be indicated. If you feel drawn to healing with flower essences, I recommend contacting Amy Hendrickson for a consultation.

4. Tap, tap, tap your blues away.

At least 2000 years ago, the Chinese discovered that energy can be moved by stimulating specific points on the body. From this, they developed the practice of acupuncture. You can stimulate acupuncture points on your body, simply by tapping on them. If you do this while thinking about your sadness, the sadness will begin to shift (not necessarily disappear), as if by magic. The basics of tapping for stress relief.

5. Locate the sadness and breathe it away.

Instead of thinking about why you feel this sadness, ask yourself where you feel this sadness.

  • Breathe in deeply through your nose.
  • Feel your breath go to the place where you feel the sadness.
  • Breathe out through your mouth.
  • Repeat until the sadness moves to a new spot.
  • Then, feel your breath go to this new place.
  • Notice colors, images, sounds, and feelings associated with the sad spots. No need to do anything with them, simply notice.
  • Continue as long as it feels good.

6. Read these words of hope.

The following are the lyrics to a song called “Inscription of Hope.” It is based on a poem found on the wall of a basement where Jews were hiding from Hitler. Perhaps reading these words will feed your soul. You can listen to children singing The Inscription of Hope here.

Inscription of Hope

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
and I believe in love
even when there’s no one there

and I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way

but sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
my heart cries for shelter
to know someone’s there

but a voice rises within me
saying “hold on, my child
I’ll give you strength, I’ll give you hope
just stay a little while”

I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
and I believe in love
even when there’s no one there

and I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way

May there someday be sunshine
may there someday be happiness
may there someday be love
may there someday be peace

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Tapping Script for Choosing Joy

I just went through and did this using your script. What an amazing experience! I’ve looked into EFT for a few years now, but never really took the time to DO it. I was always so intimidated. You helped change that. Thank you.–Laura

My journey from shock and overwhelm (after hearing “We think she’s autistic.”) to acceptance and joy has been supported by energy-shifting tools such as homeopathy, meridian tapping, Matrix Reimprinting, and reading. This post is a how-to for one of my favorite techniques.

The “Choices Method” is an EFT technique developed by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D. It is one of my favorite meridian tapping techniques because I find the wording “I choose” so empowering.

Try out this tapping script.  Adjust the words so that they accurately reflect how you feel.  (See the Super-Easy Tapping Guide for a quick how-to.)

Begin by considering the statement “I have this difficult life.”  On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how true this statement is for you.

Tap on the Karate Chop Point while saying:

  • Even though I’ve been on this path of suffering for so many years, I choose to forgive myself.
  • Even though I’ve been giving up everything for so long, I choose to love myself.
  • Even though I have this difficult life, I choose to experience joy every day.

Now tap through the points. (If you need directions, see the Super-Easy Tapping Guide.)

TH: This path of suffering.
IE: I give everything for my children.
OE: I have a difficult life.
UE: This path of suffering.
UN: I give everything for my children.
CH: I have a difficult life.
K27: This path of suffering.
UA: I give everything for my children.
TF: I have a difficult life.
IF: This path of suffering.
MF: I give everything for my children.
RF: I have a difficult life.
LF: I have a difficult life.

Tap again on the Karate Chop point saying:

  • Even though I’ve been on this path of suffering for so many years, I choose to forgive myself.
  • Even though I’ve been giving up everything for so long, I choose to love myself.
  • Even though I have this difficult life, I choose to experience joy every day.
TH: This path of suffering.
IE: I choose to forgive myself.
OE: I’ve been giving up everything for so long.
UE: I choose to love myself.
UN: I have this difficult life.
CH: I choose to experience joy every day.
CB: This path of suffering.
UA: I choose to forgive myself.
TF: I’ve been giving up everything for so long.
IF: I choose to love myself.
MF: I have this difficult life.
RF: I choose to experience joy every day.
LF: I choose to experience joy every day.

Tap again on the Karate Chop point saying:

  • Even though I’ve been on this path of suffering for so many years, I choose to forgive myself.
  • Even though I’ve been giving up everything for so long, I choose to love myself.
  • Even though I have this difficult life, I choose to experience joy every day.
TH: I choose to forgive myself.
IE: I choose to love myself.
OE: I choose to experience joy every day.
UE: I choose to forgive myself.
UN: I choose to love myself.
CH: I choose to experience joy every day.
K27: I choose to forgive myself.
UA: I choose to love myself.
TF: I choose to experience joy every day.
IF: I choose to forgive myself.
MF: I choose to love myself.
RF: I choose to experience joy every day.
LF: I choose to experience joy every day.

Reconsider the statement “I have this difficult life.”  On a scale of 1 to 10, rate how true this statement is for you now?

Notice any changes in your feelings.  Note any feelings in your body.  Consider tapping on any memories or sensations that come up.  If you need support or direction for optimizing your tapping time, considering working with an energy psychology professional.

Prepare to be Amazed as Your Life Gets Easier with Each Session

Did you try the tapping?  Did you notice anything?  I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.
If nothing happened, please see

The Difference Between Mundane and Miraculous EFT: One Session with a Pro can Change Your Life

and read how I went from EFT skeptic to convert.

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