“Seas the Day and Adjust the Sails”

The thought has been lingering well over a year to write on a particular matter. However, the matter touches every star in my little universe. It may also touch on one of your stars. My hesitations come from wanting to protect my privacy. I also don’t know how to write about this so it won’t come across as too self-indulgent and whiney. So it is what it is, let’s begin by talking broadly about a few of my blessings in life: Jake has a good job that allows me to stay home with my children, I attend Palomar College, I have three children and a dog, and I live in San Diego! Each of these bring me great joy and I like it just the way it is. These blessing are not here because of only myself. Everyone in my life has helped put me here. These blessing don’t come from one solitary choice and acted out only by me.

Blessings also come with heartaches and challenges. Jake travels every other week, leaving me to be a single parent. Learning my school material is harder because my brain isn’t as absorbent as it once was and I’m a lot busier. My children each have their challenges. My dog, well… she just causes a lot of unwanted hair all over the house. Living in San Diego, means I’m away from family and their possible help while Jake is out of town.

The other day was one of these challenging-blessed days. Often I feel there are so many different opposing sources being thrown into my life and I cannot keep up. During this reflection in a doctor’s waiting room, I looked up and saw these signs on the wall.

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My body settled down and attained a bit a stability. I cannot direct the wind, but I can adjust my sails. One of my sails is that Ayzia has ADHD and Autism. Some say these are disorders, and I find myself saying that as well. However, hear me loud and clear it is NOT. These are blessings in my life and just like any other blessing, it comes with challenges. I remain physically active because of my Ayzia, I keep my brain learning new things because of my Ayzia. But how do I really feel about the diagnoses? As Donald Trump would say, “The relief was HUGE!” But so was the self-inducing guilt. I was happy and blessed to have an ADHD, Autistic child and that all her beautiful and challenging eccentricities had a name. The guilt came from, “I had a feeling it was this all along and not until 8 ½ years old is she getting a diagnoses.” I am angry, frustrated and impatient! I am protective and defensive. I also feel refined individually and in my marriage. My impatience and frustration comes from this rough estimated time line:

  • January 2015: Scheduled an appointment with Rady’s Children Hospital at Autism Discovery Institute to be evaluated. They picked the date of the appointment and my job was to agree it’s timing, August 2015. Say What?? 8 months away!!
  • March 2015: Sitting down with her school and talked about getting her some extra help. We came up with a plan, but getting her an IEP was held off.
  • August 2015: Evaluated and diagnosed with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Wahoo! All things sail straight from here right? Nope.
  • April 2016: 1 year and 3 months, she finally started speech and behavioral therapy and the school is working on getting an IEP.

Around the time of Ayzia’s diagnoses, I was to restart school. Somehow I got the start time confused with my kids and missed the first two weeks of class. Consequently, I took fall semester off. Which proved useful because it allowed me more time and energy towards family and myself. Reading articles on learning disorders; many of the articles felt deeply familiar and I related to most of them on a personal level. It was then, I admitted to myself that I too, have a learning disorder. It may not be the same as Ayzia’s, but I have something, I just don’t know what exactly. I vowed to myself then, I would not leave Ayzia in the dark about this part of herself and this is why. My prior school years burned a self-belief in myself that “I was stupid.” I genuinely felt and knew I was stupid. Not because anybody told me I was, but that school and friendships were an extreme challenge. I didn’t understand most of my social interactions and friendships. I self-taught myself to read people’s mannerisms. To this day when people talk, I mostly read what their body and face are saying and little of what words they choose. I can look back and understand why, in high school, my friend was frustrated with me because I wouldn’t talk with her as we walked to our next class. During a math test, I couldn’t answer any of the questions because one of my guy friends was chomping on his bubble gum. Near the end of the period I blew up and yelled at him to stop “Smacking his gums!” I cried and laughed to my best friend all during lunch about how stupid I acted and confused I felt. If I would have known what was going on and why, if it had a name, maybe I would have had a stronger self-esteem. I couldn’t and didn’t know how to tell my parents. You may be thinking, what did her parents do? They didn’t know. Because like Ayzia, I didn’t tell them most things and unless you are watching every intricate detail in someone’s life…..it’s still nearly impossible to understand internal problems. For the most part, I look and act ‘normal’ and so does my girl. But if you want to have a conversation with us? Brace yourself because, it is going to take a lot longer than the typical. It is difficult to get thoughts out. I stuttered as a young child and as an adult, if it’s urgent and I have to talk fast the stutter comes back. Learning and dealing with Ayzia’s challenges forces me to deal with myself and my own learning problems. Now that Ayzia is getting therapy, she knows her autism and that I can relate to some degree. I’m helping her believe and feel she is beautiful and extremely smart. She is highly motivated in learning and has an amazing memory with scientific facts and creativity. Our family enforces we are here to help each other build our strengths and overcome our challenges and with this we have times of success and times of failures.

Learning is difficult for me and always will be. I am smart and dealing well with being a slow learner. Given the right topic and the right amount of studying time, I can do well. I received all A’s and 1 B in massage school. In the last 2 ½ years I’ve taken 7 college courses and achieved 6 A’s and 1 B. There are 2 supplements (Phosphatidylserine and Huperzine A) that I take every day that help me absorb new information, retain memory and help me verbally express my thoughts. I should add that my fibromyalgia causes brain-fog and these supplements help with this as well.

To those who come across this blog entry, may God bless your little universe and know that I am here with you striving to be the best kind of star in His big universe.

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After we had a heart-to-heart talk about some of her challenges, she was teary and a little upset. She didn't want to talk and wanted to be alone. She gave me this after some time passed. I truly cherish these gifts from her.

After we had a heart-to-heart talk about some of her challenges, she was teary and a little upset. She didn’t want to talk and wanted to be alone. She gave me this after some time passed. I truly cherish these gifts from her.

 

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Maui Family Trip 2015: Cemeteries and Churches

Ka'ahumanu Church Maui, Hi

Ka’ahumanu Church
Maui, Hi

Makawoa Union Church

Makawoa Union Church

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Roman Catholic Church

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Roman Catholic Church Maui, HI

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Wailuku Church Maui, HI

Wailuku Union Church
Maui, HI

Japanese Cemetery Lahaina, HI

Japanese Cemetery across from Hanakaoo Beach Lahaina, HI

Japanese Cemetery Lahaina, HI

Japanese Cemetery
Lahaina, HI

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Makawoa Cemetery

Makawoa Cemetery This was the most unique one we have been to. When comparing how peaceful it is, Jake ranks it the best.

Makawoa Cemetery
This was the most unique one we have been to. When comparing how peaceful it is, Jake ranks it the best.

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Maui Veteran Cemetery

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Boiled Eggs and Poopy Diapers: A Life Lesson in Jokes, Religion and War.

It’s Sunday morning, the day of our church primary program. Our family and many others are excited and anticipating how our children will do. There is a wonderful feeling children bring when they sing about Jesus. On the car drive over Ivy poops her diaper. There isn’t a clean one because I’m planning to leave early due to a head cold. Brainstorming synapsis fire away. I can make it work! Go to the bathroom inside the church, clean out the poop, fold lots of toilet paper inside the diaper. We are good-to-go, problem solved!

Directly turning into the crowded church parking lot, a car is parked in a non-designated stall; along a curb where everyone who enters can see! The trunk is opened. Just below, on the freshly tarred lot, are at least 10 white manikin limbs, each having a section of bloody red dye at the base! I’m not Ann Rice or Tom Clancy, but try to imagine in your own words a disturbing scene. Completely caught-off-guard lightly palpitates what my heart feels. Thoughts occur: this is supposed to be a place of refuge, a place to heal my spirit, a place to enjoy my child’s primary program-where they sing about Jesus and feel His love. Wow! That’s one way to kill the spirit of the Holy Ghost. Could this be a joke? No, it can’t be. It must have been an accident. Someone was trying to get something out of their car. Their career is giving seminars teaching First Aid and they have these props that coincidently fell out. Right? Fiction or Non Fiction, the initial reaction to the ‘stage’ has been felt and imprinted into the sinews of each person affected.

Luckily the awful scene leaves my mind during the few minutes of Ayzia and Eden’s parts. Eventually Ivy is too active during the program and people sitting nearby are trying to enjoy the performance so I leave. In the car, I exit the parking lot the same way I entered. Three men stand by the car of the incident. The trunk is still open, but no bloody limbs scatter the ground. I pull out onto the road without an episode, but my eggs are boiled and they need to be shelled! I turn around, back to the men. Our exchange goes something like, “Were your guys involved with the bloody limbs?” A man answers, “Yes, this is my car and my friend thought it would be a funny joke. We have thrown the parts away. In the service of the joke, my tire got popped.” To my calculations they are standing around, waiting for the tire to be repaired. I don’t know if it is him or I who spoke next, but an apology is made. My feelings are relayed, “I had kids in the car, it was a disturbing image and most likely the people walking out of the church with their kids were also disturbed.” He admits, “It was too graphic of a scene for young kids.” Then he turns to one of the men and says, “He shouldn’t have done that.” I can only assume this was the ‘friend’ who played the joke. The ‘friend’ hugs close to a tree, with his arms folded and head down. His body language portrays his remorse, but his snickering face says he enjoys my complaint because it fits perfectly along with his joke.

I love to laugh. Years ago, I was the one to play the April Fool’s joke too far! I have since then learned my lesson. This man was older than me. One would think being wise in years gives the knowledge as to where and when these kinds of jokes are played. I say to the group, “I’m all about playing jokes and having a good laugh, but this was the wrong place at the wrong time.” Driving away, more thoughts come to mind. The bloody limbs aren’t just obscene for young kids. Real crime scenes look like this that afflict trauma on family members and friends. What about the people who fight in war and come home struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of the members in our church congregation serve our country. Recently I was in possession of a graphic picture of a family member with an infection in their leg from a surgery. I am able to look subjectively at these kinds of medical photos. Unfortunately I tried showing a friend this picture, who incidentally fought in the war on terror. Shamefully I remembered his service too late. As I replay the scene over in my mind, I see on their face the trauma of war and will for the rest of their life. Of course, my phone-photo of an infected leg is real and the manikin legs aren’t. But it doesn’t matter whether it is fake or real, each person is affected differently with or without past trauma.

Reasons over shadow each other as to why this post is necessary. To the reader it is based upon their interpretation. Personally, some would be: repenting for what I did to my friend, to keep my kids innocent as long as possible, to be aware of my actions, respect people’s life story that isn’t similar to my own, to check myself before I think a joke ‘would be’ funny. One thing is certain, the reasons for war, an act of crime, and PTSD cannot be resolved simply by stuffing a diaper with toilet paper. When we share or re-share a video, a picture, a news clipping, a joke or display a dreadful scene; let’s ask ourselves, “Who’s hard boiled eggs do you really want to crack open?”

Losing Grace

A friend of mine pointed out on her blog that most family blogs only tell the light-hearted side of life. She vowed to be more honest in her writing. In trying to do this myself I’m forewarning you this post will do just that; show a side of me that is unlikeable.

I thought grace left me on the day of my daughter’s birthday.(For several reasons that don’t pertain here.) The next 3 days were spent dwelling on how I managed to lose grace. But I was wrong… Grace actually left me on the third day of grieving its absence. It could be, grace was long gone and this event was the repercussion or the after-math effect. But either way, it was this day I knew for sure grace was gone.

To help my daughters not be scared, I’ve tried hard to create monsters into something good, funny, or a metaphor. However, one of the worst things I’ve done as a parent in the last 6 years(since my oldest is 6) was trying to do just this. Our girls have a problem with screaming at each other. It looks very much like a monster you’d see on television. So I created this space where, if they did this kind of behavior, they would be sent there to calm down. The place? Under my massage table. Why? Seemed like a great place, a save place to me. What was it called? The Monster Box.

Well…it was the stupidest name! After thinking more about putting the two words, monster and box together, I could see the warped image a child might have. Most of you reading this are probably muttering to yourself, “Yeah, I could have told you that from the beginning.” It took the second time using this space to see, that trying to get a small child to sit in this space actually turned me into a monster.

The rest of this day was spent trying to recover from the event. Filling our day with happy pictures was a must. We hiked Elfin Forest, the girls played in the yard, had popsicles and then watched the movie, Monster in Paris. The movie was quite befitting; since the monster was kind-hearted, had a lovely singing voice and played the guitar. (all the attributes I wish to possess). Most importantly, we denounced the monster-box and instated the Safety-Fort. A place where they can say anything they want and won’t get in trouble. A place where they can calm down from whatever is giving them anxiety or frustration. The new title fits better for the intentions is was created for. After their showers I gave them a massage on the roof of the fort. Their pops then put them to bed and I finished this post.

I’m putting myself back onto the road to find grace.

Let Others Have Their Grace

A girlfriend of mine took me out for my birthday. It was a lovely night. We ate at Seasons 52 on La Jolla Village Drive,  http://www.seasons52.com/about_us.asp and saw the movie Life of Pi at the ArcLight Theatres. https://www.arclightcinemas.com/locations/san-diego/la-jolla/showtimes?origin=la-jolla Before I left to meet her, a quick prayer was said that I’d have Grace. I can’t say if it was noticed by my friend or the others around me, but the voice of Grace spoke throughout the evening. Instead of feeling guilty for my friend treating me to a night out, the words came to mind; it was okay to let her do this for me. I wasn’t supposed to crowd in on her Grace.