Monday, April 23, 2012

Change Happens

Its been over a week since I've blogged and so as I logged in to write about some quirky little things the kids have done and said recently I was shocked, dismayed and uncomfortable by what I saw on my screen. Blogger changed their format. The fonts are different, the layout is weird and everything is unfamiliar ... I hate it.

While I mumbled and fumed about these dumb and unnecessary changes I was reminded of the many conversations I've had recently surrounding change; both the word and the reality.

Some people see change as exciting and refreshing but the vast majority of people dislike change. It makes them uncomfortable, insecure and out of balance. To many people, change is the signal for impending doom; its the starting line for chaos and an open door invitation for every bad thing to walk right in. Change is bad. Status quo is good; its safe, familiar and predictable ... everything change is not.

I live in a house where change is the enemy for everyone but me. Mr. Awesome and the kids have a really hard time with change; even the small stuff like changing the pictures that hang in the living room make some members of this Random Family cringed and squirm. Whenever change is necessary we have to have a lot of conversation about it, why we are making the change and all the good that will come from it. The kids will squawk and complain and we will try to quell their fears but the time comes when the conversation has to stop and action must be taken.

And you know what? Everyone survives the changes and most of the time they grow to like them!

Change is like everything else in life, how you think about it influences how you feel about it and ultimately how you deal with it. If you think change is a bad thing then you will feel insecure whenever you are required to change and will probably experience only the negative side to whatever change is taking place. You will create the situation you dread.

What if you look at change as an opportunity to grow, mature and experience something new? What if you saw change as an open door to endless wonderful possibilities? What if change wasn't change but a step forward?

I have experienced a lot of change in the past two years; new town, new home, new friends, new church, new body. Some of the changes are ones I planned and orchestrated, others I just had to roll with. One thing In learned very early on is that if I can find one positive thing to hold on to during a time of change, it will act like a magnet and draw other good things to it.

For instance, while my body is healing my energy level has changed, as in some days I have no energy. At first this really annoyed me (and to be honest, some days it still really annoys me) but in being forced to be still I have had time to think about things, like seriously think about who I am, what my life is about and what I want for my family. I have had time to read some amazing books and best of all I have had time to talk with people, really connect with some amazing people. In this time I have grown and matured in ways I wouldn't have had I not been forced to change.

All I am saying in this rambling post is that change is going to happen, you have no choice sometimes, but you can either be the master of it by embracing it, celebrating it and growing with it or you can be a slave of it by feeling its burden and collapsing under its weight.

You choose.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions. ~Ellen Glasgow

Friday, April 13, 2012

An End of An Era

Today our 19 month Hair Saga has come to an end. In the fall of 2010, Dude decided to let his already unruly locks keep growing; his plan was to grow out his hair and donate it to make a wig for a kid in need. As I've written before, this has been a bumpy road for him but he has always held fast to his conviction that he was doing the right thing; he was growing extra hair for some kid who couldn't grow any hair at all.

This morning, fighting waves of nervous nausea, Dude entered his school to face the clippers. I was worried for him; I was concerned that nerves would get the better of him and he'd feel overwhelmed and back out. I was worried that we had planned this big assembly and that none of the kids would care. It turns out all my worry was for nothing. As I walked down the hallway with Dude his friends and classmates started calling out his name, some chanting for him, many high-fiving him and a few girls were brave enough to approach him and touch his luscious locks for one last time.

The kids at the assmbley

"Dude, you're a rock star!" I said, in awe. He shrugged and said, "Y'know how it is."

 Before The Big Cut, I took a before picture of Dude and his pal, Colton (the other brave soul who was donating his locks today), gave them both a high five and wished them well. Within half an hour this two hippy boys were transformed into two hip young men, to the hoots and applause of their classmates. Aside from donating their hair the boys, and their school, raised well over one thousand dollars for Angel Hair for Kids.

Once the assembly was over, Dude walked us to the doors to say good bye. We told him how proud we are of him and what an example he is. He looked down the hall, watching his friends move into their next classes, and laughed.

"I did this. This whole thing today was because I had the idea that I could give my hair away. It was just an idea!"

"It was an idea you shared and from that idea other people were inspired to help out too ... that's how people change the world and make a difference," I said.

"That's cool and it wasn't even that hard to do!" he smiled, said good-bye and headed down the hall to his class. I stood there for a second and marvelled at this young man who I have the privilege to raise and the amazing friends he has surrounding him and cheering him on.

These boys are rock stars and heroes, they are compassionate souls and inspirations, they are magnificent. I am so proud of them and their friends for understanding that one kid with a head of hair, a pocket full of coins and a caring heart can make a real difference.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. ~Edward Everett Hale

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Yesterday was World Autism Awareness Day ... or something like that. It was kind of cool to see Facebook and Twitter light up with blue puzzle pieces and stories of exceptional people, thriving though on The Spectrum. Hearing all those success stories made me a little nostalgic and I started thinking about the journey we've been on with our kids; this crazy ride called Autism.

I have written before about how chaotic and stressful our life was during those early years of Autism and how much Dude has grown and matured but it still amazes me. I am in awe of how much he's learned and how independent he is getting. We hear often from his team at the school about how good he is at speaking up for himself and communicating his needs. The strategies we have spent years teaching him are becoming second nature to him.

We are also seeing how his Asperger focus is enabling him to excel in certain areas of his life. His obsession with Lego and building is turning into a real skill of understanding balance, perspective and basic engineering principles as he constructions towers, buildings and structures in our basement. Even his sensory sensitivity, which was once a huge obstacle to every day living, has steered him towards activities that he he seems to have a natural ability in, like swimming, curling and drumming. His love for science drives him to discover how our planet works, how things like light and sound travel and how the ocean affects all life. His mind is an amazing thing.

What I also find amazing is the friends that are emerging in his life. Making friends has always been a bit of a rocky road but recently there have been these wonderful, open minded and accepting kids who have welcomed Dude as one of their own. They accept his quirks, try to guide him through some of his awkwardness and understand his 'rudeness' is just the truth as he sees it. They praise his talents and engage him in conversation about his interests. They also have taught him that he needs to be a friend if he wants to have a friend, so he asks about them and gets excited for their successes.

When I look at my beautiful twelve year old boy I am aware that we have come a long way. I am also aware that we still have a fair stretch to go. I am aware that people are amazing and that Asperger's doesn't have to limiting, it can be a gift.

Here's a video about an extremely talented surfer who found his normal on top of the waves ...

"I see people with Asperger's syndrome as a bright thread in the rich tapestry of life"
- Tony Attwood.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Fight Like a Girl, So There!

It's that time of the month again ... time to Check Yourself!

The last couple of weeks have been kind of hectic; I had treatment, the kids had a curling bonspiel which the grandparents came to town for (and Dude and Mischief's team won second place!) and then we packed up the van to spend the better part of Spring Break week at my parents' place.

My treatment week turned out to be a pretty frustrating week. My port was blocked and after spending five hours at the hospital clearing it I went home with the plan to return to CancerCare the next day for my treatment. When I arrived the next morning, my port was blocked again. I had a mini melt down while the medical staff discussed the options (reinserting the port - meaning another surgery -  or installing a pic line - ewww! ). Sometimes going through Chemo really bites.

They finally got my port flowing, after another round of what Mr. Awesome called 'medical draino', and I had chemo. By the time my treatment was done and I got home I was physically and emotionally spent so I put on my favourite post-chemo DVD and crawled in to bed. My doctor and I had decided to decrease my anti-nausea meds so I wouldn't be as stoned but that evening I ended up taking a hefty dose anyway because I was feeling rough. I made it through the night and by the next morning I was feeling much better.

 That evening my family showed up and then curling and Sunday school and play dates and drum practice and BBQ shopping and meal making and, and, and ... The weekend was fun but busy and in the midst of all the regular life mom stuff I have been trying to cope with the side effects from chemo.

On Sunday night, when I crawled into bed, happy but exhausted, I thought about my life; the family, the friends, the Autism, the volunteering, the writing, the mothering, the wifing, the writing, the cancer. I thought about all of it and how lucky I am to have so many people of my side, pitching in and helping out. I would be hooped without the support and encouragement from My People.

That being said, I still feel alone sometimes. Sometimes when I am having a hot flash followed by an intense wave of nausea, sometimes when I am in the shower and my hair is running down my face, sometimes when I am desperately tying to cover up the taste of metal in my mouth, sometimes when I look in the mirror and see how this cancer has changed me forever; sometimes I feel like this is my fight alone.

In those moments, I close my eyes, square my shoulders and picture myself literally kicking cancer's ass and then I hear it. Coming from all around me and inside me, I hear it. It is in the distance at first but the more I fight the louder it gets. Its shouting, yelling, cheering. Its the roar of applause. It's My People, in my corner, right there with me, every punch of the way.

Most mornings, as I do my make up and tie on my scarf, I think of My People. I think of myself, preparing for battle and My Legions doing the same. I think of all of the other Warrior Women who have fought this battle and I glean strength from them. I fill my heart with all the good wishes and healing prayers and I know that I am not alone.

About a month ago I stumbled across I website that I now visit often. Anytime I need I pick-me-up, a reminder or an inspiration I click on over to I Fight Like a Girl and read about my fellow warriors and the triumphs they've had. I look at their pictures and see hope, strength and determination in their faces. I learn from their experiences and am inspired by their take-no-prisoners approach to beating cancer and living life. They are My People, also.

This month, as you Check Yourself, think of Your People. Who in your world gives you strength, inspiration and hope? Think of them and thank them.

Thank you!

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. ~Winston Churchill