Today there is light. It is warm and encouraging. It tells me that for today, everything is okay.

I’ve been struggling with homeschooling lately. Struggling with pretty much everything in fact. I feel lost, unmotivated, bored, confused. I’m confused about how to get a relationship with my son back. The son* reminds me that it never left. It’s there. It’s just covered with darkness, shadowed by my uncertainty. My uncertainty and lack of trust makes things tight, tense, hard to move in.

*Freudian slip here – I wrote son instead of “sun”. Hmmmmm.


But the sunshine today softens the tightness, loosens its grip on me just a little. The warmth untethers my muscles from their death grip on my bones. A little space seeps into my ribcage and my hips.

I’m writing again. Make that – today I am writing. Every season of writing seems to be spurred by a different purpose. The purpose of this particular season of writing seems to be healing and a need for meaning.

We focus so much on our children’s healing. There are a million therapies and treatments for children with autism. We go the extra mile, we put in the hours and the cash, we totally DO THIS. In some ways this is wonderful (my opinion here depends on what therapy is being done, in what way and at what impact to the quality of life of the child and the family). In other ways, I think the focus on them instead of us is misguided. Both parents and kids are in need of healing.

Where is the healing for us as parents? The deep work that wants to happen in response to our having a different child (and if you truthfully don’t feel your child is different then you may be one of the lucky ones that is already healed!). Where are the guides and supports that walk us through deep acceptance of ourselves and our kids, that help us find peace in the midst of chaos. Where are the millions of therapies and processes that support is in remembering our strength and power to change what we can and accept and love what we cannot. (They are coming, I have already been blessed to work with two that are on some part of this path of supporting parents, see them here and here).

 IMG_8582Some more son-shine in my life this week! Dancing!

Maybe the question should be turned on its head, why is that as parents we assume it is primarily our child in need of healing? And even if we believe we are also in need of healing, why is it that my default reaction when things are going badly is that my child needs fixing, that I haven’t done enough to help him?

I feel the weight of the responsibility to offer my child the best life possible. I feel confused about whose responsibility it is for what parts of my son’s development (think mine, God’s or his own). That weight and confusion both inspires me to do better and shuts me down.

Today’s balm to the wounds inflicted by this weight of responsibility is the sunshine. Warming me, brightening the world around me and not asking anything of me in return. For the sun (and my son?), it is simply enough that I receive the light.

The Gifts of Necessity


Random summer shot that has nothing to do with this post! But nifty toy, huh?

Have you ever noticed that sometimes when something we need to do is so very necessary – seemingly we don’t have a choice, its just obviously what we need to do – the necessity of it can actually be freeing? What is necessary can take away the uncertainty of decision-making.

I noticed joy this morning despite, or rather because of, my ongoing back pain. I have to exercise. It is necessary. If I don’t, I don’t see this pain going away. I have to move in the morning because I can’t keep lying down or sitting. Too painful. I have to change my diet because I have so many issues in my physical body. As I write this I realize that these too are simply beliefs – I don’t have to exercise or change my diet. But the risk to benefit ratio strongly suggests I give it a try. It feels necessary. Diet and exercise are things I’ve wanted to and have tried to change forever.

So today I’m grateful for what is.

Grateful for the pain and disharmony that is nudging me to take care of myself.


Another random photo. A lovely day in the woods with friends.

Loving “what is” is a truism of spiritual teachings. And it’s easier said than done! Although the  loving the hard or unwanted elements of my life is challenging (or should I say nearly impossible some days?), I circle back to this core idea over and over again.

Can I love my back pain? Can I send love to my back pain?

Can I love my resistance and to and procrastination in doing my work?

Can I love that it is necessary for me to invent ideas for play for my son (when it would be “easier” if he sought out novelty himself)?

Can I love the feelings of hate that sometimes surface when I think about autism (caution – this is very vulnerable for me to share so I would be grateful if you would not judge)?

Can I love that my son wants to play lego for hours on end? And if I can’t yet love these parts of myself and my son, am I willing to simply notice my feelings and be with them?

IMG_8506Z playing lego on hours for end is one of the things that triggers worry, frustration (when we have to go do something else), amazement, pride, freedom (I have time to do other things!) and many other emotions. The invitation is to allow all of these emotions, connect with them and become curious. 

Last summer I had a mini-revelation in loving what is. I had been working with this idea in the form of accepting Z in the midst of things that triggered me. For example when he was dysregulated in some way I would sit beside him working on accepting him without taking any action. I would often be in a state of crazy frustration and irritation as I watched him bounce around when we were supposed to be doing something intentional. I was describing this practice to the leader of an NVC parenting workshop and she suggested I connect with myself first. Connect with my own feelings of frustration, anger and fear first. I have to accept my own inner feelings before I can accept other’s behaviours. This was a radical shift for me, despite it seeming obvious as soon as she said it.

When it works, it’s like magic. The pain and resistance and anger towards what is dissolves, and I am just left with observation. I’m left simply seeing what is.

I now believe that this is a necessary step for all parents who want to do better. But particularly for parents of kids with special needs who undoubtedly feel a wide range of emotions on any give day.

We need to allow our emotions. Let them move through us. Soften to them. Love what is.

I’ve noticed that when I don’t accept and connect with my emotions, I encounter resistance and fear which tends to stop me and lead to bed ridden angst or procrastination.

So I must learn to love those emotions! Embrace a mindset of curiosity around what is – inside and out. And begin by just noticing. This week I’m beginning by noticing my fear – both subtle and big. Want to join me?

Nature Illumines What Has Value


If there is something not happening, some expectation of ourselves or our children not being met, question it.

Is what we believe true? Do we really need to be good at everything? Do we really need to achieve X, Y and Z to get to A, B, C?

Is it really true? Byron Katie speaks of this process of questioning beliefs as a mechanism for transformation, though it’s not what I used. I used the trees. I have long used the trees to give me answers but I’ve never actually realized that is what I am doing until now.

The trees, and the natural environment in general, have the answers. They have lived, and lived well, long before humans.

For years now I have had an image of the diversity of trees lingering in my mind from an early morning meditation session in my backyard; at a time when I was grappling with what an autism diagnosis meant for my son.

The trees told me that diversity is beautiful.


These “weeds” beside the road caught my attention on my walk.

IMG_8504Look at the beauty when I took the time to look closely! 

They showed me how the smaller ones fit perfectly beneath the larger ones. And that all are needed to provide clean air. What would a forest be like with only the towering trees? Where would the beauty be? I’ve seen forests like this before, planted by humans in neat rows with all the trees lined up and the same height. A forest constructed this way, well, it’s not even a forest. And it definitely can’t compare to the beauty of a natural forest in all its rich diversity.

Plants and trees of all different shapes and sizes, colours and textures.

Each one necessary for the whole to be beautiful.

Each one with a role to play to make the ecosystem work and come alive. Even the decaying trees have a role. An offering to give.


I’ve been pushing for ‘making’ to happen in our home. Longing and expecting and wanting to ‘get there’. I want us to be creating puppets and scenes and sewing clothes and gluing cardboard together. I want us to be inventing games and making tall structures and physical representations of our deep interests.

I still value that making. If we are drawn that way I want to prioritize time and money and energy directed towards that making. But this morning the forest told me to let go of the striving and my limited conceptualization of what ‘creating’ is.

What is the tree making? It is making oxygen for all to breath. It is growing green leaves and new branches. It is creating shade. Producing new seeds. It is doing exactly what a tree is meant to do. Does it have value? Of course. Does the tree need to be crafting new birds to offer to the world? No. Crafting new birds is not aligned with its true nature.


 The transformation of our tiny tadpoles into frogs. Does this froggy have more value than its brother tadpoles (upper left) because it transformed at a faster rate?

So maybe gluing cardboard is not aligned with Z’s nature. And maybe sewing is not aligned with my true nature. If it were, we’d be doing it already. Or maybe those things are aligned and we are not yet at a place where we can manifest those creative offerings. Just like a tree can’t produce seeds until its ready. Until it’s gone through other necessary growth. And then when it’s ready – it just happens. Like Z learning to ride his bike.


So to notice what we are doing is the key.

To notice. To search for what energizes us and gift ourselves the space and supports to do more of that.

I’m not sewing. I’m not making physical things. But I am blogging. I am staying home and creating a safe space for my son; without doing anything more I’m standing strong like a tall tree. Rooted. It’s offering is in the nurturing steadiness. Without even moving, without doing, that steadiness is such an incredible gift to beings that inhabit it.

This morning at breakfast Z created a game and offered it to us – match the superhero with it’s creator (DC or Marvel?). Cool! And I wanted it to be different – “Make it on cards!” I say. “No! We just say it!” he retorts. Perfect. This is his creative offering. Notice it. Engage with it. Even offer invitations to expand it. But don’t look for it to be something it’s not.

Leave the expectations behind. And notice the beauty of what is.


I would love to start a conversation. To be privy to your wisdom. What expectations are you harbouring that are not being met? What would it feel like to notice what is and drop the expectation? What would it feel like to trust nature’s perfect trajectory of growth?

This is My Dream World


I’m reading this book right now, it sparked this post.

Imagine a world where everyone’s needs are respected. Where quirks are celebrated as unique expressions of who we are. Where our ideas aren’t dismissed or put down, but instead allowed to be until they find someone they resonate deeply with. Where we feel safe enough to express our needs and have them met skillfully and creatively by others. A world where we remember the joy in finding new ways to get everyone’s needs met; a world where one person doesn’t need to suffer for the sake of someone else’s pleasure. A world where we collaborate instead of dominate.

Imagine a world where we are allowed to do what energizes us! A LOT of the time. Allowed and encouraged to follow our dreams. Allowed to get messy, to make mistakes, to fall down and still be supported in cleaning ourselves up and getting back on our feet when we are ready.

Imagine a world where we didn’t have to fear the judgement of others and we were free to just be ourselves. AHHHHHHHH – wouldn’t that be amazing????

Imagine a world where people looked for our strengths (instead of focusing on our weaknesses). Imagine if our friends and family sought out the silver lining in our character even in the midst of our bad choices and actions made out of ignorance. If they saw their role as helping us to see more clearly for next time.

How would this environment make you feel?


Imagine a world where all of the different strengths possible for human beings (think working with one’s hands, caring for the elderly, ability to conceptualize math, realizing philosophical insights, teaching others lessons of compassion and patience, etc.) were celebrated equally for their potential to create and add value to the world. And there were no expectations that everyone be good at ALL things. Imagine we were allowed to develop at our own pace and let passion and internal motivation drive us forward.

Imagine a world where each person is skilled in meeting people exactly where they are.  Where we know how to support people from that place to help them grow to their maximum potential.

Imagine a world where we don’t put limits on possibility; no limits for human beings and no limits for the change we could create. Where we lived as though there were no question that:

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill


What would the world look like?

I imagine a very different place. One where people worked joyfully. A world where people supported one another and cheered them on instead of competing with them. One where burnout was far less common.

In this world, the word “disability” wouldn’t exist. It just wouldn’t make any sense.

So I suppose now that this imaginary world has been conceived…according to Napoleon Hill the only thing left to do is to fully believe it is possible and then work at making it a reality. I’m beginning with myself and my family.

Are you willing to help?


Children are Seeing Beings, Not Little Devils


Photo credit: Joanne

Yesterday something really rotten happened that my child was involved in. It was so upsetting that my normal instinct would have been to freak out. I didn’t. (Instead I freaked out later about something far less significant, leaving the house after negotiating an agreed upon time…but that’s another story). I think it helped that there was a group of them and so my son wasn’t the sole child to blame.

What good would it have done to freak out? It would have shamed Z, modeled inappropriate self-regulation and taught him that yelling at someone is okay.

Somehow, in the midst of the chaos I remembered that “children do well when they can” (from The Explosive Child by Ross Greene).

I became curious – what had been going on? What was the full story? I took time to listen to the kids re-enactment of what happened and each time they blamed it on someone else I gently reminded them “each of you played a role”. I did my best to allow their emotions and thoughts to be heard and then we focused on what they could do differently next time. And then how they could make the affected child feel better.

The kids astounded me. They calmed down, stopped blaming each other and were each coming up with wild and wonderful ways that they could make it up to their friend. They ran inside and apologized and hugged him – wholeheartedly, not from a place of I’m in trouble.

Does this make the act right? Of course not.
Did they learn something useful from it? I like to believe so.

Earlier in the day, when the kids wrecked something of mine because they ignored one of my requests, I was not such a good listener. When Z broke his negotiation (we try to negotiate when we disagree over a decision) about leaving his friends house when I asked, I was really frustrated and irritated and ranted about it in the car.

I’m sooooo not perfect. Video game fights make me nutso. Really nutso.

I’m a work in progress. Parents also do well when they can.

I’m trying to get closer to respecting children (and all people) and treating them the way I want to be treated.

I’m trying to remember – in the heat of the moment and in the midst of my own big emotions – my belief that children are fundamentally good and rarely are their intentions malicious.

My work is to treat Z and myself as “seeing beings”* – our job here is to grow towards greater clarity in all things. To help him see the impact of his actions. To help him see options for different choices.

One of my many jobs is to explore and grow and expand what his beliefs are about what right action looks like. And to help him see his own power to stand up for what he believes is right.

I can’t do this when I’m freaking out or giving him trouble for what he’s done. And I imagine he can hear me better when I approach him with calm, love and compassion.


*the concept of “seeing beings” stems from a book I love called Whole Child Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berands.

Learning at the Edge


Our Little Free Library we painted

What do yoga, an ongoing sickness and parenting all have in common? They are all opportunities to explore my edge. And what I’m discovering is that reaching a little to explore my edge is where the aliveness is. My edge right now is to be able to tolerate the insane itching in my vagina stemming from too many rounds of antibiotics without going stark raving mad. My edge is being willing to write that on the blog (did I really just share that? forgive me, I’m SURE its TMI but I’m exploring my edge). My edge is doing triangle pose at all – being willing to enter into it – because it feels so awkward and uncomfortable.

Yesterday I found aliveness in the edge of entering into forward bend (a yoga pose that is super hard for me) and playing with posture and relaxation to find the place where there was a stretch but not strain. The exploration was energizing!

I also explored the edge of being able to stay connected with myself, with my own emotions and boundaries and not get sucked into the dysregulating, chaotic energy that was my wild little Z man. To tap into my energy and enthusiasm for doing new things with him, to maintain my steadiness even when he resited me and tried to thwart my efforts.

Many days I am unwilling to go to my edge. I want safety and security. Today for example, I didn’t want to sit down and write this post. I wanted to go back to bed.

But what I’m noticing (and wanting to remember, note to self!) that exploring my edge – without going over it – brings me energy, joy, enthusiasm for life. The not going over my edge is key; not pressuring myself to achieve or pushing myself just to get over my fear. It’s not that. It’s tuning in and really exploring what would be a tiny, gentle next step that I could take: where is the uncertainty? the discomfort? what am I willing to do? what am I willing to admit I don’t know?

Yesterday we painted our Little Free Library. He didn’t want to. He wanted to stay in his lizard brain type play (apologies for that very judgmental statement – but that’s how I perceived it). My edge was to get clear on my intention – to give both of us the opportunity to remember that we enjoy doing things together – and to enforce a boundary of togetherness. This is something that is still hard for me. Making him do something. I value freedom.


And it’s hard for me to admit that our desire for doing new things together ebbs and flows as our life and schedule ebbs and flows throughout the year. This feels like a failure in RDI terms. I know better. And yet our life is beautiful in how it flows. There is learning at every corner. And I course correct when I need to.

So the edge I was exploring was taking away his freedom to play (at least in the moment) for what I came to understand as the higher good of discovering joyful togetherness in a seemingly menial task.

That time my edge exploration paid off, I allowed him to just watch and eventually he joined in and reveled in the painting. It was joy filled. I took away the freedom to play what he wanted but I gave him the freedom to choose to participate, to make a mess, paint however he wanted, even to paint on the floor (we’re renovating). Other times I’m sure my exploration of the edge won’t pay off in such tangible terms. But I will learn. And I think it’s part of being alive. Part of growth. Part of learning to see who we really are and what we are capable of.

Today my edge is to learn from those recent experiences, to ask – what does he need in this period of dysregulation? To get really present with him and listen deeply for what it is that he needs. How can I adjust my actions to better support him? To invite myself to explore and play with how I am with him and to let go of the idea that I need to know how to fix this. To open to learning. And to allow any fears to surface and fall away without grabbing onto them.

Are you willing to share with me what edge you are playing with right now?

Relaxing into a Hard Day


Yesterday Z and I spiraled down into a soft, woolly kind of meltdown. The day started out okay, but when he came downstairs he rejected me. How to say that more objectively? He came downstairs, sat on the floor to read a comic book. As I repeatedly called his name, he continued to read his comic. He didn’t look up. He didn’t greet me. He didn’t make eye contact. That’s a little less judgemental, and that’s what happened.

Unfortunately, I took that first interaction of the morning personally and felt rejected. I can’t really recall the specifics of what happened afterwards but essentially I felt all of the energy drain out of me. The day became characterized by sullenness; lying around, not doing much of anything. When I asked Z if he wanted to play cards with me, or do some drawing with me, play chess maybe?, he was able to articulate that yesterday’s biking around tired him out and now he felt like he needed rest. He just wanted alone time.

I should have said: “That’s what I’ve been craving too!”

But instead of celebrating that we were on the same page in wanting a day of quiet alone time, I allowed the sting of rejection to spiral me downwards and keep me mostly bed or couch ridden. I allowed the worry and fear around his development (why doesn’t he want to play with me?) and my skills as a homeschooling mama (I haven’t been doing enough and NOW look what’s happened) to drag me deeper into despair.

That is the dark-side.

And there is light.

I allowed myself to feel the feelings. I didn’t lash out (with the exception of the odd comment laced with some negative energy – I’m only human!). I didn’t numb the pain with web surfing. (I did numb it with a brownie – I’m only human!). I intended to stay with the emotions, to explore them and allow them to move through me.

I repeatedly noticed the tension in my shoulders and gut as the worry and fear crept in and then relaxed into what I was feeling.

Then out of that dark place, there was a crack of light. I had an insight about a new practice I want to start. Not fighting my emotions seemed to create a tiny space where some insight could flow through. And the insight was big! I feel gratitude for the angst filled day.

Eventually we had a beautiful drawing session together where I created my ideal superhero. She is powerful (she has a power ring on her finger) and has trust and love to help her our (notice her trust bracelet which holds powers). She is fearless and strong enough to walk through the forest in her bare feet. She is joyful in her work. This is what Z created…


Then we went on with the rest of our day.

Relax into the hard, allow it, don’t fight it.