#SeeAmazing is actually AMAZING

I have been digging into the Sesame Street #‎seeamazing‬ initiative the past few days. I must admit, I was extremely nervous about #‎SesameStreetandAutism‬, because Autism Speaks was involved (I detest the way they present Autism as a tragedy). I went into my research praying that there would be limited negativity, and was pleasantly surprised to find it all VERY positive.

I think I have gone through everything on the site, and now Beth is going through it all. She absolutely LOVES the We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3! book and has read it several times. She also really enjoys watching all the video stories of different children with Autism. With each one, she happily flaps away singing: “Look Mommy, they’re autistic like me!”

It is wonderful to see one of my favorite childhood shows, now becoming a favorite of my girls. I cannot thank Sesame Street enough for including differently-abled children in their show. Over the years, I have seen (and loved) many differently-abled individuals on the show. I cannot even express how much I LOVE Julia, the first autistic Sesame Street character. Hopefully this is the first step among many to help our children (and the autistic adults in the world) be treated with the Respect and Kindness they deserve.

I leave you with The Amazing Song, it has become a household favorite. ❤

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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14 Years later…

I am sitting here on September 13th, it is not an exceptional day, and there are no “We Remember” memes for today. My heart has been heavy since last week, and today I am finally working through the reasons why. Fourteen years ago, on September 11th, the unthinkable happened in our country. We were attacked on our soil, and thousands died.  It was horrific day, and I will never forget that day, and the weeks that followed.

I remember staying at work, because I didn’t want to be alone; then driving blindly to my parent’s home, and sitting for hours crying while watching the coverage on TV. I remember being terrified for my coworkers in the Sears Tower, and thankful that I only had to work out of that office occasionally. I remember my counterpart from that office calling me in tears, after they did an evacuation drill, and she realized that with just 1 person from each office in the stairwells, she could not make it out of the Sears Tower (from the 35th floor) if it fell in the same time as the Twin Towers. I remember our Sears Tower office being a ghost town for months, as everyone came and worked from our “safe” suburban office.

I also remember a country that came together in the face of tragedy. I remember people putting aside their differences to stand as one nation. I remember people acting with love, respect, kindness, and compassion for their fellow humans. The devastating acts that were meant to destroy our nation, seemed to only make us stronger. I was proud to be an American.

The list of lives lost on 9/11/01, which was published in the Chicago Sun Times

The list of lives lost on 9/11/01, which was published in the Chicago Sun Times

14 years later… People share the memes around September 11th declaring that they will never forget, but their actions show the world that they have already forgotten. Our country is slowing killing itself. While we still fear terrorism, it is the wars being waged on our own soil that should scare us the most. People are killing each other over race, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc… Our nation no longer stands together in love, it is divided with hate.

Our country was founded in diversity, it was founded on a belief that ALL men were equal, and free to believe as they chose. After 9/11, people in positions of power used our fear to slowly change our country under the guise of protecting us. Now we live in a country where being different can get you killed. Our society (as a whole) has no tolerance for people with different beliefs. As I fight to teach my children to love and respect EVERYONE, the world around them shows them that if you are different, you must fear for your life. It is WRONG on so many levels! I am no longer proud to be an American, because I live in fear of the world my children are growing up in.

I do not post often these days, because I tend to stay offline. Everyday I log on to social media I see hate, disrespect, cruelty and judgement. It hurts my heart, and lately I cannot bare to see such negativity spewed. I will continue to teach my children that God created us all differently for a reason, because he LOVES diversity. I will continue to teach them to treat EVERYONE with respect and kindness. All while praying, that American people come to their senses before we completely destroy our country. You do not have to agree with your neighbor’s beliefs to treat them with respect and kindness. Just as they do not have to approve of your way of life, to treat you with love and compassion. If the Lord wanted everyone to be the same, and think the same, He would not have created us so differently and given us free-will. PLEASE stop trying to force others to live by your beliefs, and start embracing diversity. ❤

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Layla

On August 7, 2015 our cat Layla went over the Rainbow Bridge. Layla would have been 11-years-old in November, but kidney failure forced us to have her euthanized. This is a picture of Layla, from when she was younger and full of mischief.

Layla1

The girls were with me at all the veterinary visits, except the last. When the time came, the girls and Henry said goodbye to Layla at home; and I took her on her last car ride alone. She was my first baby, and I needed time alone to grieve.

Since Layla’s passing Beth has been struggling to process everything. We frequently replay all the vet visits with her horses. She cries at random moments, because she misses Layla, and keeps repeating phrases she heard during Layla’s last days. One of her favorites is: “Layla was family. Those we lost are always in our hearts.” She is right Layla is family, and will always be in our hearts. I am trying to help work through her grief, but some days I simply sit and cry with her.

We have made great progress in the past few weeks, but last night was a TOUGH one. In trying to help Beth get some tarter off her teeth, Henry mentioned that there was some blood on her gum. This sent her into a complete panic, and had her sobbing: “NO! Now we have to go to the doctor.” Thankfully the angels were whispering the answer, and I listened, which allowed me to calm my girl down. The first visit at the vet, the doctor pointed out blood on Layla’s gums (due to gum disease and dehydration). Beth (who remembers everything, because of her beautiful mind) automatically thought she was sick like Layla. I held her tight, and assured her that she was NOT sick like Layla. Then I explained about why our gums bleed at times. It took a while, but she finally stopped being scared and was able to talk to me about her feelings.

My heart breaks for my girl, and I don’t think children should have to experience such loss; but life is messy, and hard. I think it is important for them to see us grieve, and to know that no feelings are ever wrong. This year our school year is starting off with some very important life lessons, the book learning will come later. ❤

Layla2

The pet cemetery provided us with Layla’s paw-print, as well as two packets of wild flowers, so the girls can spread the seeds in Layla’s memory. ❤

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Dorothy

Do you believe in Spirit Guides, or perhaps Guardian Angels? Do you ever put a name to that inner voice that whispers to you? I have always believed in both, but until recently I did not have the name of my Muse. Now, I know her name is Dorothy, and is it wonderful to be able to put a name to the voice.

My husband and I recently visited a lovely shop in Paducah (Kentucky), called Wildhair Studios’ Rock Shop. As soon as I walked into the shop, I was drawn to the rack of pendulums. My friend, who does Healing Touch uses one, and although I did not know what I (personally) would use one for, I knew I wanted (or perhaps needed) one. There were so many beautiful pendulums, it was hard to decide which to purchase. I picked up one, which I thought particularly dainty and pretty. It began to spin counter-clockwise. I read the information posted next to the stand, and realized that meant “No.” I asked my husband to hold it, and it spun clockwise, which meant “Yes.” I told one of the employees that the pendulum appeared to not like me, so he offered advice on how to center myself and suggestions I try again. This time, it practically screamed: “NO!” I tried a few other pendulums, and all had the same answer of “No.” Finally, I picked up one that began spinning immediately, shouting: “YES!” Of course I bought it, and tucked it away in my purse. In all honesty, I do not know much about pendulums, but I look forward to learning.

Upon returning home, I had a “Getting to know your pendulum” session. I still don’t know why, but  I asked if it had a name, even though that was not suggested in any of the readings I did.  A few minutes into our session, the question came out of my mouth:  “Do you have a name?” The answer was: “Yes.” So then I started asking: “Is ______ your name?”  It took several names before I found the right one. The only name, I received a “Yes” to was Dorothy. When I chose my pen-name to write under, I always thought it was in honor of my great-grandmother, and in some ways it was; however, now I realize that it was also my Inner Voice (aka Spirit Guide/Angel/Muse) wanting to be heard.

I love that I found my pendulum, and have a new tool to use on my spiritual journey. I love that we have fluid conversations (my talking, her moving), which often include spiritual messages I need to hear (whether I want to or not). I REALLY love that I have a name to use when talking to my friend. This is Dorothy, isn’t she beautiful?

Dorothy

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Stronglove Family Garden

Have I mentioned just how AWESOME Beth’s Occupational Therapist (OT) is? Well, in case I have not, she is beyond awesome! Ms. S has been with us since Beth was 2.5years old, and has become part of the family. She has been such a blessing to our family, but this year she gave us a special gift, she gave us part of her gardening space to use.

For the first time ever, our family has a garden! Beth is VERY excited about having a garden, and getting to visit Ms. S (and her family) a LOT this summer. I am praying that Ms. S is not tired of us come August, because my girls never want to leave.

We planted our garden yesterday, and only had one rain delay during the process. Unfortunately, my back is acting up, so I did not get to plant, but I did get to take pictures of the girls working with Henry. I am so thankful to have a husband that doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He knows a lot about gardens, even though he has never had one, because he talked to the horticulture teacher at his school quite a bit. During the weeding and planting, he tried to teach the girls things, but there was too much excitement and too little focus.

I am greatly looking forward to the coming weeks, as our garden becomes a large portion of our school day. This quote, by Helen Mirren, says it all: “Gardening is learning, learning, learning. That’s the fun of them. You’re always learning.While, I do have trouble “thinking outside box” when it comes to education, I know for sure the garden will be (at the very least) science and math; I am thinking I can also get some language arts in there too. For those of you more creative than myself, what else could I teach my girls (4 and 6) using our garden?

Here is a picture of the Stronglove Family Garden, which consists of 3 different Tomato plants (4th of July, Early Girls, and Super Steak Hybrid), 3 Sweet Pepper hybrid plants and lots of Cucumber plants (because I thought I was buying 2, but there were at least 4 in each tray).  I am praying that my “black thumb” does not ruin this wonderful experience for us, but even if it does cause trouble, we will have a wonderful summer filled with learning fun. ❤

Stronglove Family Garden

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Befriending Myself

I was recently talking to someone about who I am now, versus who I was prior to Al-Anon. The truth is, had I met myself back then, I would not have wanted to be my friend. After three years of being committed to my Al-Anon journey, and working the program the way it is meant to be worked, I actually like myself most days.

The problem is there are still a lot of days, when I don’t like myself. There are still far too many days when I cannot be a good friend to myself. How will I ever teach my girls to treat themselves with Respect and Kindness, if I cannot do it for myself? The sad answer is: I won’t. In order to break the cycle, and help them be good friends to themselves, I must start treating myself better, NOW.

My greatest dream for Beth and Anne is for them to LOVE themselves in every way. I pray for them to have self-worth; to be proud of all that they are and have confidence in all that they do. Basically, I pray for them to grow-up feeling the opposite of how I did.

As I work my program, I am slowly beginning to love myself, as completely and unconditionally as I love my children. One day, I will be proud of all that I am, because I will be the person God knows I can be. Some day, I will have confidence in all that I do, because my actions will be based in the serenity of recovery.

I am not perfect, but as long as I am making progress, I am healing. As long as I am healing, I have the opportunity to be the kind of mommy my girls deserve. Personally, I can think of no better friend to have, than the woman they already think I am.  So I am befriending myself, and giving us all a brighter future. ❤

Background image is property of Lindsey Schultz. It is used by Serenity Spectrum with her permission.  Text Reads:

Background image is property of Lindsey Schultz. It is used by Serenity Spectrum with her permission.
Text Reads: “I will spend more time with myself in this lifetime than anyone else. Let me learn to be the kind of person I would like to have as a friend.” ~ Anonymous

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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The Labyrinth

This past weekend, I attended an Al-Anon Round-Up, which was held on some of the most spiritual grounds I have ever set foot on. This is my third year attending the Round-Up at this location, and my favorite part of the weekend is walking the Labyrinth.

The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking our replica of the Chartres Labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral around 1220, you are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn. Walking the labyrinth is an ancient spiritual act and a physical meditation that is being rediscovered during our time.  A labyrinth is an ancient circular diagram. It consists of a single concentric circular path with no possibility of going astray. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. So walk it with an open mind and an open heart. Anyone from any tradition or spiritual path can walk into the labyrinth and benefit, through reflecting in the present moment.

The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking our replica of the Chartres Labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral around 1220, you are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn. Walking the labyrinth is an ancient spiritual act and a physical meditation that is being rediscovered during our time. A labyrinth is an ancient circular diagram. It consists of a single concentric circular path with no possibility of going astray. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. So walk it with an open mind and an open heart. Anyone from any tradition or spiritual path can walk into the labyrinth and benefit, through reflecting in the present moment.

Typically I experience a myriad of emotions during my meditative journey through the Labyrinth, while also receiving spiritual messages I may need at the time. This year the messages were different. This year I received specific, repetitive messages and actually wrote them down when I got back to the car. Here are the messages I received:

Thoughts based in Faith
Vision based in Beauty
Smells based in Sweetness
Words based in Kindness
Heart based in Love
Soul based in Respect
Energy based in Light
Roots based in Positivity
**Walk with Me and follow My beacons of Hope and Joy.**

Honestly, I do not know the extent of what these messages mean; however, at face value they are a magical blueprint to live by. I suspect they tie into my Chakras in  some way, but I will need to pray and meditate about these messages, before I can fully understand their significance.  If you have any thoughts on what my Higher Power was trying to convey, please feel free to share your insights.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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