Monday, May 16, 2016

Recovery Tools

This is me today, however I haven't always been this way. Most every day finds me with a kind heart. When I take care of myself properly, my mind is unstoppably fierce. And brave spirit... well yep, I can call myself that now.

I didn't always have a brave spirit. I was so meek and mild growing up. But I did have one part of me that felt very brave. Once I figured out I could take that part and rely on it, I finally learned that many more parts of me were braver than I thought. Now, I see that braveness can seep into every aspect of my character and finally I am proud to call my spirit "Brave" :o)

In advocacy, I have learned a big dose of being Brave. Once I learned the tools to advocate successfully for myself and my family, my Brave qualities have grown exponentially. Even though I am still working on this in my professional life as an artist, I know in my heart I will get there one day. Of that I am sure.

I have had people tell me I am the bravest and strongest person they know.  I wasn't always like this, let me tell you! How do we get to that Brave Place when we are struggling deeply? My "Tools" are what I use to take me from a place of fearfulness to a place of strength.

How do we get these "Tools"?  

First, we have to put a name to our needs. For me, it was learning as much as I could about my son's disabilities. From there, I did many google searches so I could understand complex terminology and workings of the brain. One thing would lead me to another. Information gathering became the first tool in my tool belt. Even today, I may learn a new piece of information that tags onto old learning. I never waste the chance to stop what I'm doing and check into this new piece of information. Informational gathering takes us from a place of hopeless mystery to the place of knowing.

Second, we have to align ourselves with the right people to help us navigate this new path. I don't take this tool lightly. I firmly believe that in asking, we receive. So, put your desires out there. Name them by speaking them aloud. Write them down, or talk about it with someone you trust. Pay attention to the answers you receive. Answers can come in all forms. Opening a magazine to a page that totally touches on your dilemma is one example. Meeting someone new that is (unbelievably) struggling with your same dilemma is another. Do not cast aside freak experiences to chance! When you ask for answers, you will receive them if you are truly open to finding them.

Third, support groups are your friend. That is were you will meet those people we talked about in Tool 2. Locate support groups that cover your particular situation. Even if you are not sure if it's a good fit for you, go. Sometimes, the group might not cover your exact situation, but someone there might know of a new group for you to try. Other times, you might stumble upon a wealth of information. What is one evening, or 1-2 hours of your time when you could potentially learn so much about how to deal with your dilemma?

Fourth, take a class. This will help you get to the nitty gritty part of the learning about your dilemma. Some classes are free, like NAMI's wonderfully supportive Family to Family class. Other courses might have minimal charges. Contact the website for the cause you are concerned about and ask about any classes they may offer. Consider taking a class offered by your local community college. Can you believe there are organizations that are funded by the government that will pay for you to take a class? Free, people, that means free!

Fifth, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call. I do want to caution you about saving this step until you have completed Tool 1 (information gathering) and possibly Tool 4 (taking a class). I have picked up the phone and asked to speak to the head of Neuropsychology at a Children's hospital. I have tracked down the top decision maker for my family's insurance company. The most important consideration before doing this is making sure you have full comprehension about your family member's situation. If, for example, they start speaking about a particular brain situation, it would be best that you know a little bit of what they are talking about. You want to use as little of their time as possible, but you want to get your questions answered.

Sixth, speak out. Don't be afraid to share some of what you've learned with others. In our NAMI Family to Family class, we tell our class participants that they are all an expert in what they have had to deal with in supporting their family member. So, that goes for you too. Yes, you. You are an expert in your situation and you can help others with your lived experiences. In my case, I tell people I am always happy to talk with someone who is struggling and help out in any way I can. People helped me when I was first navigating this path, and I was so grateful. It is the least I can do to give back, and help out someone who is just getting started in their information gathering period, or Tool 1 as I like to call it :o)

What tools have worked for you? I'm sure there are so many more. Please post a comment below if you have something to add, so others can hear your voice in all of this as well. And, thank you in advance for caring enough to speak up.

PS. To get your own version of the wonderful print at the top of this post, please visit this link:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Daily Miracles

I might add; "and where your head is at during the walk..."

What I have noticed lately is that things rarely change exponentially. Meaning, they might change slightly, or maybe they will improve a bit before they return to a semblance of the way they were before. Sure, there may be life moments like marriages, births, deaths; those major changes. But the everyday? I find what is resonating with me right now is how I am choosing to handle the everyday challenges. And what I have finally learned deep down in my heart is that what truly matters is where exactly my head is at during the handling of ... the thing... the person... the situation... That is the challenge.

In AA and Alanon there is the saying of the 3 Cs:
We did not cause it
We cannot control it
We cannot cure it 
I will be the first to admit that I have been working prettttttty hard to control it. What "it"? Um, pretty much Everything. I've spent the better part of my life to be Captain At The Control Panel of everything in my life. Without me, things would certainly fall apart, right? And all those nasty little sidebars like perfectionism, being judgmental, feeling stuck because things just weren't "right" or weren't "good enough" and then the shame, blame, name game until I just want to lie down.... it all gets really tiring, this control business.

So, what about letting go? I have talked about it before. I've done the letting go, and handing it over to my higher power. What I'm going to say next is said with a weary shake of my head....

It is never easy to "give it to my higher power" when watching a loved one struggle, especially when they take themselves to such dangerous places. But I've had to really ask myself: who am I to stand in their way of learning the natural consequences of life? I am not God. I do not count like that. Really, if death is their consequence, I will only drive myself to the brink of death in trying to personally control their outcome. So, no. It is way, way easier to step out of the way, and let God (my higher power) take the reigns.

So, yeah....

Thank you, Pema. I have read your book many times, and I know this. But knowing something in your head and taking it to heart like a missing puzzle piece are two different things. I have finally, THANKFULLY, learned what it means to truly TRUST, to Let Go, to Give it to God. And it is working for me. Yes, thank God, it really is. 

So, yeah. Teaching me time and time again is my very own son and this time was different. It was different in a small way, but a very good way. It was different because this time, I stepped out of the way.

So, I am going to name off a few miracles. Like the title of this post says, they are Daily Miracles. And they do indeed come each and every day. And simply the fact that I can look at life now through my daily blessings is miracle number 1. So, here goes... 
  1. Seeing daily blessings and miracles. Somehow they have always been here, but I wasn't looking at them the same way. I'm so thankful I can see them now for what they are.
  2. My son turned 20 on April 24. This in itself is the True Miracle. I made a promise with God during my son's pregnancy, and God made a promise to me. In that I/we got him through the teen years, I have fulfilled my promise. I told God then that if He allowed me to carry the pregnancy to term and give me a healthy baby (I had gone into pre-term labor at week 21, with my doctor telling me they could not save the pregnancy), I would do whatever it takes (took) to get my son through his teen years. And it took A LOT. Way more than I ever thought I could do, more courage than I ever thought I had, enduring more heartache than I ever thought a person could bear. (Who is the teacher in this? I swear, it's my son...)
  3. My other son turned 18 yesterday, and he is doing so well. *big smile*
  4. My husband and I work at daily thankfulness, and we both feel so blessed in all of this.
  5. Completing my first time teaching NAMI's Family to Family class. What an amazing experience for me! I am equally as thankful as our class participants :o)
  6. "In the asking, we have found the answer" Our Rock Recovery Families meeting has found a new leader. *Feeling so thankful and amazed that Ryan and his family showed up at the zero hour and volunteered to lead this wonderful Al-Anon based meeting. 
  7. In this journey, I have found my true friends. Thank you all. You know who you are. I love you all so much!
  8. For such a "doubting Sally" I have been led to the truth. In that, I am forever thankful, forever changed....
Thanks for listening. I am leading tonight's meeting, and this is my share.