sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Posts tagged ‘letting go’

Spiritual Connections

When my husband was in the hospital after his massive heart attack, I had many spiritual experiences.  My husband experienced  near death as he went into cardiac arrest in our living room on May 4, 2011. He left the house in ventricular tachycardia, a fatal heart rhythm.  The medics had used the defibrillator several times before they wheeled him out of the house on the gurney. I remember his dark blue face as they took him.  I am forever grateful to the wonderful medics from Mint Hill Fire Department and Robinson Fire Department who took care of my husband and then stayed with me to help make a plan to get to the hospital.  And Lia Schwinghammer who came to my rescue and drove us to the hospital and stayed with us until I got to see Don like 4 hours later. She was one of my many angels and I had many, so I will just thank all my family and friends here.    I am also thankful for the cath lab at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte and the entire team who fixed his occluded arteries with stints allowing him to be with my here today, nearly 5 years later.

He spent 4 days in the CCU and then 8 more days in the step down unit.  I had family helping my kids at home and I would wake up usually before 4 am and head to the hospital each morning and spend the entire day with him and come home in time to put my 2-year-old to bed.  It was a crazy time and yet my priorities have never been so focused in my life as they were for those 12 days.  My husband was disappointed that he did not remember experiencing “seeing the light”.  I told him that I saw it for him.  I really do believe that.

I don’t even know how to begin to explain the spiritual experiences.There were many.  The first one was at home. I called 911 and 5 minutes after the medic arrived, my husband went into cardiac arrest.  The medics immediately moved me and my three children out of our living room.  I vividly recall taking the children to the stairs off our kitchen and sitting down with them and tapping.  I have since decided that the only way I was able to calmly sit with them and use EFT, was because Don’s soul guided us.  Later, when he was recovering in the hospital, I vividly recall being in the cafeteria getting food and hearing a song being piped into the cafeteria and I knew it was Don speaking to me.

The biggest experience was around day 8 or 9 after going with only 3 hours of sleep each night.  Because, the first night at home after his heart attack, I awoke after 3 hours with a horrible dream reliving the experience and I told myself I wasn’t going to do that again.  I did not consciously choose to not sleep more than 3 hours but that is what then happened. So by day 8,  I was very sleep deprived and living on adrenaline, and maybe even having blood sugar issues or just panic attacks.

 I had this one night at home where I  felt panicked and scared and I called my good friend and EFT mentor and therapist, Jan Luther. It was very early in the morning, too early to make a phone call, yet I decided to call her.  I heard the line pick up yet there was no one there on the other side, I began talking. I have no memory of what I said but all I know is there was silence, no dial tone, no one talking, just silence.  I think I tapped and talked.  Later, I talked to Jan about it and she told me the phone rang, she picked up and no one was there and so she hung up the phone and began tapping, because she knew someone needed her to do that.  She hung up the phone, yet I heard no dial tone.  We both knew that was spirit at work.

Just last month, my father had back surgery for his spinal stenosis.  He had the surgery on a Friday and I showed up at the hospital at 5:30 am to meet my parents to help my mom navigate the hospital system.  Surgery went well, took a little longer than expected because it was worse than the doctor had thought from the MRI and he took longer in recovery because of breathing issues. We got to see him for a few minutes in recovery area  but he was in a lot of pain but they couldn’t give him too much pain medication because they needed his breathing to improve.   An hour later, he was in his room and we went to visit with him.  He did well that day, he had to lay flat for 24 hours as a precaution but then the next day even got up with the nurse and walked to the bathroom.  I left after dinner Saturday night, with the plan to return in the morning again.  I woke up at 3:45am.  I have been waking up early for many weeks, most like from peri-menopause but usually after at least 5 hours of sleep.  I woke up and looked at the clock and said, “Why am I waking up now?”  I  had been asleep for like 3 or 4 hours.  I knew it was strange.  I should have gotten up.  I went on my phone like I usually do when i wake up early, using it in the dark in my room.   I got a text from my mom who had seen my posting on Facebook and so she texted me. It was 4:11am: 

 I’m in the family waiting room while they put restraints on Dad. Med Dr saw him then They gave him something for hallucinations and for blood pressure. Thought he finally fell asleep  when he awoke and starting lashing out violently. He is having some kind of psychotic meltdown. REally scary to see him like this.  

I immediately replied to my mom

Oh mom.  I’m so sorry.  I’m awake. I’ll just shower and come in.  It’s going to take time for the meds to clear out of his system. (We new he was reacting to anesthesia and/or medications.)

My mom was surprised how quickly I arrived, less than an hour after her message.  I showered and gathered my things for the day and drove to the hospital. It was 4:45 am, no traffic, easy drive and plenty of parking. I walked into the lobby at 5:13am.   She didn’t realize I had experience with this from the 12 days I spent going to the hospital to be with my husband.  I also had the strong feeling through my dads 5 day hospital stay that this was in part the reason that I became an Occupational Therapist.

It helps that I texted all of this on my iPhone and therefore have all the times of our conversation including the when she texted me, and I let her know when I got in the car to head to hospital and again when I arrived in the lobby.  As I read these posts, I see that she had also contacted me at 12:27am via text because my dad was asking for me. I was asleep and didn’t see those texts until morning.  I can share that in another post.  I talked to my dad tonight to get his permission to share this story and he is happy to sit with me and tell me more so I can share more of it. He believes he was talking to God and telling God to decide about leaving his body or staying.  I believe that he did experience that as well.  More on that for another post.

My dad slept all morning. They had to put him in 4 point restrains and  give him Haldol which is an injectable antipsychotic.  He had kicked a nurse.  It was weird seeing my dad in his hospital bed in restraints.  AFter talking to my mom when I got to the hospital, I had told her to get some rest. The waiting room had a couch.  I went to sit with my dad to be there when he woke up.  I was able to explain to dad as he was waking up that he was in restraints and he was calm.  Later when he was fully awake, he shared the experience with us.  He actually remembered the psychotic episode and described what he experienced. he also appologized to all the nursing staff that saw him for the next few days.   I will just summarize: he explained feeling like he was in a box and there were bad guys trying to hurt him and he had to get away.  He explained it with much more detail but I don’t want to misquote him. But he also told me he heard me laughing. He couldn’t see me or get to me but he heard me laughing.  As the day progressed, he continues sharing about what he remembered in detail from his Psychotic episode.  I wondered if some of what he was sharing was also from when he was under anesthesia for his back surgery (3 hours) as well as the 3 hours he spend in recovery getting his breathing back to normal before he could be moved to a room.

It didn’t occur to me right away, but then I realized some things. I woke at 3:45 am which is when my dad had his psychotic episode and I knew it was odd that I woke up.  Looking back, I should have realized it was my dad.  But then I got ready quickly and grabbed my things and headed out in the car at 4:45 am. I turned on the radio and “Crazy Train” was playing on the radio.  I laughed out loud.  I switched stations and heard, “Take a Walk on the Wild side”.  I had the instant feeling like I did when Don was in the hospital, that my dad’s spirit was speaking to me.  Hearing these two songs both playing at the same time on 2 different local stations tickled me.  I talked to my dad out loud in the car, laughing as I did.  And sending positive energy and love to my dad.  Cause, I am weird like that and I talk out loud in the car.  I really do, all the time.  My favorite thing to do is scan stations to find a song that fits my mood.  I never listen to commercials, ask my kids and Don, I am always scanning for a song, a good song.

Wow!  I was laughing out loud in the car and my dad heard me! 

Some would call this coincidence yet as a student of Unity, Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God books,  and just my own personal spiritual beliefs, I don’t believe in coincidences.  It all has meaning, at least the meaning we give it.  I believe on a spiritual level, we are creating our reality, all of it.

 Creation is energy and all of life is energy.  

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Quicksand

Today in my son’s science club class, a monthly class held at our local homeschool co-op, we did kitchen science activities.  One activity included mixing corn starch  with water at a ratio of about 10 to 1.  As the corn starch is mixed with the water, it becomes more and more difficult to mix it.  When you put your fingers into the final product, it feels solid, yet as you pull your fingers out, two things happen, the solid become more liquid and it also feels like it is sucking you in, like quick sand.

I have  been sitting here for over 2 hours, searching the web in an effort to find a topic to write about.  I then came to the conclusion that I needed to write about being “stuck”.  Because for the past month or so, I have felt stuck. Stuck with life and my efforts to write.  I have started over 4 blog posts in the past month that have been left unfinished.  I have also found myself dreading my weekly writing time.  That has been a tough thought for me to swallow.  As a busy mom of three kids who also works outside the home on average 20 hours per week including weekends, writing has always been my outlet and escape.

So here I am with time alone to myself in a favorite coffee shop. My husband is taking care of the kids.  I haven’t even had an interrupting phone calls or texts about issues at home.  Yet, I am left feeling blank.  And so as I wrote out the word stuck in the tile, I then came to the body of the post and the first thing that came to mind was quicksand.

That feeling of being pulled in and every effort to pull myself up and out, leaves me more exhausted and more swallowed in my lost feelings.  I feel this in particular as it relates to my youngest child.  He has shown signs of anxiety for nearly his entire life.  Yet, these signs have become more pronounced over the past six months.  A year ago, he was begging me to participate in classes like his older siblings have done.  I remember picking my daughter up from her bimonthly girl scout meeting during which time she would want to talk the entire ride home about her experiences in girl scouts that day.  My younger son would become mad with her talking and demand that he talk too.  Later it became apparent to me that he too wanted to participate in activities like his sister.  I found the information for our local nature center which provides preschool age nature classes centered around a story and nature walk.  We attended several of these classes. I remember the first day of class. My son, who was 4 at the time, was disappointed that the class did not involve writing things in a notebook.  Ironic coming from a child growing up in an unschooling family.

I think the vast age difference between him and his siblings, his sister is 7 years older than him and his brother is 11 years older, has added to his sense of being left out.  OVer the summer, I learned that our homeschool group was starting a monthly co-op.  I was excited and he too was eager to participate in the classes.  We encountered one challenge of him not being old enough for the chess club, something he desperately wanted to participate in.  I contacted the parents who were running the class and had an online discussion with them.  I learned that there 14-year-old son was the one leading the class and because he had never done anything like this before, they felt that 5 was just too young for the class.  I understood and yet also was aggravated by the age limit.  My reasons for homeschooling when my oldest was 5 had very much to do with age related learning.  My oldest learned to read and write before being of kindergarten age and thus school would not have been a good academic fit for him.  Here I was 12 years later dealing with this issues with my youngest in the homeschool community.

Four months have past and we have attended the monthly co-op with my youngest participating in 1oam science club and 11 am art class.  There were more kids in science than art but yet he had more issues with art class and would not even go in the room today.  He participated in the activity the first three weeks.  So much for the idea of him becoming more comfortable with being around other people.  His social anxiety seems to have grown worse over these past 4 months rather than diminish as I had hoped.  We have known some of the individuals in the co-op for a long time.  Both parents in his classes were extremely respectful of his desire to be off by himself and did not push him in any area.  They were very accommodating to us both as I attended the classes with him and was the one to participate in the past two months science activities.  Again, as I look back, I see his participation lessened in science class as well as art over the 4 weeks.

What is a parent to do?

I grappled with this issue for some time and with the help of a close friend who also has children with anxiety issues, finally made the phone calls necessary to schedule my son for a psychological assessment.  I also took him to a well visit which I had not done for some time due to his anxiety around new people.  He refused the hearing test after tolerating the headphones on his head for less than a minute, refusing to raise his hand when he heard a beep and then pulled the headphones off.  HE then refused to take his clothes off to wear the gown for his check up.  I knew the nurse practitioner at the clinic from taking my two older children and was really impressed with how well she handled his anxiety and refusal.  I was not impressed with how I handled the experience.  I am usually my son’s biggest champion for respecting his space and need to do things at his own pace but sitting there in the doctor’s office, I wanted him to comply and follow the rules.  Maybe this is more a testament to my own issues with authority and rule following and may have very little to do with my son.  I know I have fears of looking like a “bad parent” because of my children’s behavior.

The more I pushed my son to comply with the required taking off of his clothes in order to be examined by the doctor, the more he dug in his heels and resisted.  Like stepping in quick sand, I found myself becoming more stuck, not knowing what to do and then realizing I had pushed too far became angry. I sank further into the quicksand.  The nurse practitioner managed to listen to his heart and lungs and look in his ears and eyes and even his throat.  Thank goodness she remained very calm.  And we talked at the end of my upcoming appointment for a psychology assessment that would not be until February because that was the first available appointment.  I can still see the look on her face when I said “February”.  A few days later, I got a call stating there was an opening at the clinic later this month. unfortunately on a day and time that would not work for me.  There are two appointment times at the clinic, 8:45 am and 1pm.  In order for us to successfully arrive at the clinic, I knew we needed an afternoon appointment.  My son needs warm up time in the morning.  The assessment is a 3-4 hour process and I want us to at least have the chance to take our time in the morning and not be in a rush to get out of the house.  I need that so I can remain calm.  Taking him to  the psychologist feels less threatening to me than to the well visit appointment.  Maybe because I know that the psychologists are educated and trained in working with children with psychological issues.  And I trust that they can be objective and calm in the face of my son’s defiance and resistance.  Yet, I also know without the presence of other children or a noisy environment, some of his issues will not be apparent.

While I wait for his appointment, 2 months away, I find myself sinking further in the quicksand of worry and self-doubt.  No matter how many times that I read that parents do not cause their children’s mental illness, there is a perpetual thought that lingers in my mind that somehow this is my fault.  I do have the luxury of blaming my son’s anxiety on early child-hood trauma including his sister’s sudden behavior outbursts and personality change when she was 8 and he was merely 1-year-old.  The onset of her severe OCD and the resulting years of struggles within our family and between my daughter and us, her parents as well navigated the process of finding help for her.  On top of that, at age 2, my son witnessed his father going into cardiac arrest in our living room and the subsequent trauma of me being gone for 10- 15 hours each day over the next 12 days while he was in the hospital.  And to top things of, the following year, when he was 3, I was in a car accident and he and his father came to meet me in the emergency room.  I went home that same day, but suffered much physical and psychological pain for many months with lingering post traumatic driving anxiety.

Maybe I need to step back in this time and assume a role of observer rather than trying to change his behavior.  I know that some regular routines have helped him with bedtime rituals as well as morning wake ups.  We have  also found removing some foods to have helped some extreme behavior for the most part.  And taking an amino acid supplement along with magnesium, thing his sister has been taking for years, also seem to help make our days manageable.  I am very attached to my son, this child whom I waited to bring into the world until my husband had full-time salaried employment allowing me to be at home full-time for the first time in my 10 years of parenting. Yet, my husband’s loss of this steady job when I was 3 months pregnant, sent me back to work.  I resisted returning to work after he was born for a year because I wanted that experience of being home with my child full-time, something that I had only for weeks with my older two.  He is also very attached to me and me alone which has presented  many challenges with his father watching him as I have gone to work over the past 4 1/2 years.

Somehow, I need to take a deep breath and step back.  I need to accept my son and the struggles he currently has.  I also need to acknowledge that his issues do not have to define him.  I resisted for many months, almost a year with labelling my daughter’s issues.  This time, I know that a label can help us to know the path to receiving help and helping him to understand what he is going through.  This is particularly true when  child sufferers with OCD.  It is important to help the child to see the OCD as separate from himself.  Personifying the OCD helps a child to see it for what it is and can help him to overcome the challenges that OCD creates.  You would think my experience of having traveled the journey with my daughter, would help me to deal more effectively with my son’s issues.  I know there things that I can handle much better this time around and yet, maybe my awareness also creates more dread of what lies ahead.  But I must stop myself from projecting into the future and catastrophizing his current issues.

Overcoming OCD: Helping My Daughter Get Her Life Back: part three, week 2

Read the early two entries to follow the story….http://wp.me/p12VUh-aR

Week 2:  Continuing to sit in the car

I was home again on Monday  and Abby continued to sit in the car, but no seat belt on yet as it is a source of large anxiety (over 10 on the scale of 1-10).  We would talk about the next step and have her think about touching the seat belt or us touching it as well as have her look at it.  We also just spent time in the seat doing something fun, like me reading a story she was writing outloud.  The goal being to make sitting in the car a positive easy experience for her.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

She did not move past sitting in the car onto any other steps other than allowing her younger brother to sit in his seat next to her. This was stressful to her at first and he only stayed in the car for part of the time.   My husband and I began talking about what we needed to do if she would not progress to a next step.  Something we had done a week ago when she was refusing to participate.  We had even come up with a drastic plan to not allow her on the computer until she completed a step.  Yet, this was her primary way of engaging in life and after many weeks, months really of her not being able to touch her computer unless she went though a long- weeks long washing process but would then not be able to touch it again after bumping something.  And so it felt drastic.  We also could not agree as I did not want to take Skyping with her cousin away because it truly was the most valuable part of her life right now and the most real part of her life.

And reading my last entry when I wrote how Abby decided to touch her dog after seeing her cousin hugging her dog- over the internet, only reaffirmed my belief that we must keep this precious time on the computer with her cousin intact.

Sunday, the new  miracle day

I worked on Saturday but Sunday I only had to go in for 2 hours.  I decided to take Jason to the swimming pool that afternoon.   We both said outloud that we wished ABby could come with us as she loves to swim.

Abby was having an really bad time because we had told her that I had spoken to my brother about her skyping at first with her cousin in the car so her cousing could help motivate her to take steps to putting her seat belt on and being able to go places in the car.   This is something Don and I had talked about and I had spent a lot of time talking to my brother who agreed with me that his daughter could be very supportive for Abby as she wasn’t likely to pitty Abby, something ABby did not want and could remain calm and objective and also help her as they have a shared interest in seeing each other in July- just a month away at the Kids Dog Camp run by my sister (their aunt).   Abby was mad about this idea and did not like it at all.  She was upset and crying when we left.

Jason and I enjoyed swimming and then I checked my messages before we headed home at 4:45 when the pool closed.   I got a text that Abby was in the car with her seat belt on.

What?

Really- did she put it on herself?

Before I could get an answer, he told me that she had given him a big hug!   I told this to Jason who got very excited.  He has been a big cheer leader for his sister and so excited over the progress she has been making.

I get goose bumps remembering this.  She spontaneously hugged her dad.  I later learned that he was on the phone with a company getting information on ordering a part for our stove and she just came up and hugged him.  He had to tell the woman on the phone to hold on a minute.

I was never so glad to be going home (other than last Saturday) but this time with the potential of a hug from my daughter.  My last memory of hugging her being in January when she was in a fit of panic and fear late at night after her worst episode of rage and severe depression. The night we almost had the ambulance take her to the psychiatric emergency room.  A very sad yet touching memory of my last hug from my now 11 year  old daughter.  A girl who just 5 or 6 months ago was sleeping in a bed next to mine and always a snugly, hugging,and loving child had not been able to hug anyone in her family for months.

The best hug ever

We got home from the pool and Abby and Don were outside in the car, showing me that she could sit and put her seat belt on.     I changed and  approached Abby about a hug.  I got the biggest, strongest embrace ever and it felt so good to hold her.  I  didn’t want to let go.  Would I be able to hug her like this again?  With OCD, you never know, she might be able to do something one day but not the next.  Now I know what I can picture in my mind when things are challenging with her, I will just recall that wonderful long awaited hug.  I am sealing it into my memory now as I write this and remember vividly the wonderful hug.

The week continues

Today she awoke very happy and enjoyed time with her younger brother. She asked me about going out to the car.   She agreed for her brother to come with us and we all buckled in the car.  We talked about the next steps. She decided bringing Olvie in the car was the next step and also she did not want to rush this process.  I was eager to work towards me sitting in the driver’s seat while she was in her seat but this is another area of great stress to her.  As I write and reread what I am writing, I believe that is Abby’s higher self talking about not rushing it.   We are eager but we can breath and take some time as long as she continues each day.

Monday, I often get time to myself.  Something I have found a necessity for some time in order for me to refuel and engage in writing and my areas of interest.  As an introvert with two very energetic children and a teenager with intense needs, I find it not only helpful but mandatory for me to go out of the house alone and to have time where all I need to worry about is my own needs in the moment.   I am not an extreme introvert and so I am often at a coffee house or a restaurant with WiFi with my lap top.  On occasion, I have gone to a move by myself, a treat I would never had enjoyed prior to having kids.  Today, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to head somewhere outside my usual path.  I went somewhere I had been many times before but never by myself.  And here I am 6 hours later, still here and having now written two blog entries in addition to working on other things.

Tomorrow will be another day and I will be home with my children and continuing to help Abby to fight her OCD, to push out of her comfort zone and to gain control of her life again so that she can really live her life again.

Powerful and Timely Reading, 6 months later

Tonight,  I sat to write because I knew the grief was getting to me, the persistent cough and illness that would not go away. And after I wrote several posts that no one may never read, or not right now, as I let it all out, frustrations and aggravations I have been feeling for 6 months. I spared no ones feelings, well, this is still me writing, but I really let it out.

And then I moved on to researching something which I decided to share on Facebook as a note and then I read this post, the last note I apparently wrote but it jumped out at me on my screen: my own words needing to be read by me. Here it is unedited, just as it was written in the moment, on my 17th anniversary while my husband was in the hospital recovering from a massive nearly fatal heart attack (much more fitting than “event”).

 

Working Through Anxiety and Panic

by Gina Menzo Grothoff on Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 7:04am

Working through the anxiety and panic:

One step at a time.

From the first moment, I was in a place of calm, with my mantra:

The past is behind you, keep moving forward.

 

Recently I have gotten ahead of myself, projecting into the future,

playing the “What If?” game.

I learned fear serves a purpose, it teaches us to come back to now, to the present moment and use the fear to tune into our feelings to make decisions.

I began floating on cloud nine, tuning into my feelings for everything.

I saw signs everywhere and felt so connected.

I knew Don was with me always on this earth or not and felt him talk to me as I walked the halls of Presbyterian Hospital while he rested in his room.

 

I got a bit lost in all of it, and lost my grounding and my focus on the other component of tuning into now: being in your body.

Being in this world but not of it.

I needed grounding.

And so from my adrenaline high, I came “crashing down”

into my body.

Anxiety and panic brought me back to my body and to pay attention.

Yet, anxiety and panic fed into the “Waht if game” along with people telling me, it is normal to have panic attacks after a crisis and hearing “you may have them for a long time, even 3 weeks”.

 

It is all good. I needed to hear all of it.

It brought me to take care of my body more. To stop and refocus.

And then as I took care of my body more, with nourishing foods, going to acupuncturist, drinking more water, paying attention to possible blood sugar issues, and taking some herbs when necessary to help with the anxiety.

And of course the trusting that this is a process, and there will be stages but I can’t pretend to know what it looks like, even if I have “signs” coming to me.

I can say, “Isn’t that interesting.” hold onto the vibration of the positive and stay here and now and not focused on the future.

 

Much harder to do than it sounds.

Tuning in to my other needs, my spiritual connection needs was as important as taking care of my body. I talked to the people who I most connect to spiritually.

It all brought me back to focus and to more energy work.

And the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) brought me back to myself again last night. After having two nights with panic attacks with me way outside my comfort zone, I was anxious about the night and sleeping.

It all tuned me in to what work I needed to do with EFT, to release my fears and let go of doubt, guilt and limitation. I began to incorporate what I had learned with the anxiety and panic attacks. I had difficulty going to sleep, and so I connected on facebook by posting my truth and checking email and messages to be in the here and now and receive the love and prayers that others were sending me.

When I woke up after short sleep, and noticed I felt dry and thirsty and a bit of low blood sugar signs, I got myself something to eat and drink.

And felt calmer and then wrote more which further connected me.

Back to sleep, still having fears about sleep which I needed to work through and release all the pent up feelings I had been having.

I did EFT while laying in the bed, releasing my emotions with tears, while my three angels slept around me in my room.

It took a bit, but I was able to work through it enough to sleep again.

When I woke, and felt anxious, I allowed the fear to lead me, did research and sought some answers which all brought peace.

 

I woke up with a new greater understanding.

 

You see, yesterday morning, when I woke up, I was ready to see the reality of cardiac arrest.

(more later)

Did you know they make boxer shorts for toddlers?

A little more than a week ago, my 2-year-old son, Jason, who is 2 years and 9 months to be exact, decided that he did not like having a diaper on anymore and began refusing to wear one.

At first we tried many methods to get him to allow us to put a diaper on him.  After he had several “accidents” around the house, I decided to bring the potty chair to the kitchen. (Our bathrooms are both upstairs in our split level house.)

I encouraged him to use his potty chair to go the bathroom.  He agreed to do so and began using his potty chair.  He still did not want to wear anything on his bottom, not even the underpants I had for him.  It seamed to me he did not like the tight feeling around his legs or body.  Leaving the house was a challenge and for a while we did not take him anywhere.

A few days later, I went out shopping and decided to find him some underwear.  I first thought of finding character underwear that he might like and in a bigger size then the pair we had at home.  Low and behold, I found something better.  Did you know they make boxers and boxer briefs for toddlers?

I debated briefly on which size and decided to go with the larger 3T-4T but worried they might be too big on his waist.  When I got home, I discovered that I had made a smart move.  Jason really liked the boxers and the waist was not too big!

He soon began wearing the underwear to leave the house and even while in the house- much to the delight of my other children who were bothered especially at meal times by the sight of their 2-year-old bare -bottomed brother.

And so now before his third birthday, and earlier than either of my other children, much earlier- I might add, than his older brother- I have a toddler who is potty training.  Along with the underwear, I had bought a different style of diaper as well as some pull -ups.  He did not like the pull ups I had at home and had tried, which I figured might just be too small.

It took some effort the first couple days to convince him despite using the potty during the day, that he needed to wear a pull-up or diaper at night.   Now he is in the routine of putting on his own pull-up before bed.  He even gets them on correctly!

It is funny, because with my older two children, potty training was the one thing that I did not like at all about parenting.  My oldest had held out for a long time and we “forced- potty trained him” when he was 4 and I was 6 months pregnant with his younger sibling.  I wasn’t about to change a 4-year-old’s diaper and a newborn’s.  Looking back, sure, I would do things much differently now.  I know for one, that potty training can become a power struggle and my insistence on him needing to be potty trained, didn’t help the situation.

So hear I am, older, wiser and  with no expectations  that my youngest boy would potty train anytime before 3 -and yet he has done just that- in his own way.  He is strong-willed like that and shows much independence in wanting to do things for himself and by himself- he has always been that way; from talking early and walking at 9 months, and in countless other ways like  pushing a chair into the living room to reach something up high when he was not even one.

He even just takes himself over to his potty chair when he needs to pee and lets us know that he has gone.  Going “number 2” is a bit more challenging but I am totally at peace with all of it.  For here we are easily passing the hurdle of what I previously considered the most difficult aspect of parenting a young child.

He is so eager to be like his much older brother and sister.  For once, his “wanting to be older” has been a blessing.  Sure, I find having a toddler who needs to use a potty more work than changing a diaper but I am happy to help him navigate this monumental aspect of toddlerhood.  He is my youngest and my last child and with a son about to turn 14 and a 9-year-old daughter, the challenges of potty training now seem so much less stressful and simple than they did to me in the past.  And so I appreciate my toddler for the simpleness of life with him and for his making what might otherwise have been a dreaded aspect of parenting to be one of joy and ease instead.

Life with a dog… 11 months and counting

Our dog, Olive, came to live with us in late October of 2010.  She was our neighbor’s dog.  We met her as a cute little puppy and got to know her as we assisted our neighbors with dog sitting on occasion.   My daughter, the animal lover who has wanted a dog of her own, enjoyed helping take care of the dogs across the street.  She then had opportunities to take Olive for walks and got to bring her to our yard for visits.  My neighbor described that when Olive would hear Abby’s voice outside their house, she would get all excited and come running to the door.  Olive became my daughter’s best friend.

Then in early  2010, my daughter’s irrational fears, nighttime difficulties  and over hand washing grew into full-blown dysfunctional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  It was a crazy time for the entire family.  Through the most difficult times, she begged for a dog, saying that a dog would “make it better”.  We realized that a dog would not really make it better but as we learned to cope and help her navigate this disruptive anxiety disorder, we considered the idea of a dog.  We did witness how our neighbor’s dog, coming over and at times into Abby’s room could take her from a state of rage to a more calm and rational place.

Then in October, we learned our neighbor’s were moving due to a job change.  They were looking for rental property and could not find any that would allow all 3 of their dogs.  They came to my husband and I quietly and asked if we wanted Olive.  We did not have much time to make a decision.  We choose to take her temporarily and they agreed and had others who could take her if it did not work out for us.   We told our children it was only temporary to give us time to figure out if this was going to work for us.

I have had cats since I have lived on my own and am clearly a “cat person”.  My husband grew up with dogs but dogs who lived outside.  We would have been happy to continue through life without a dog.  Cats are self maintaining.  They bathe themselves and use a liter box. They can even be left home alone for a few days with plenty of water, food and clean liter boxes.   We have always been able to find someone to check in on our cats when we have been away.

So just prior to Halloween, 2010, Olive came to live with us and a few days later we watched our neighbors drive off in their moving truck- off to live several states away.  Olive was on her best behavior when we first got her.  I vividly recall that first night as we ate dinner, she sat quietly at a distance from the table.   We had to fix our fence to be able to let her run in the back yard and I can recall standing outside with her on a leash in the dark before bed.   Sometimes, I was happy to be standing outside in the quiet of my yard at night.

Somehow, after Olive came into our home, her place with my daughter changed.   The first few nights, Olive slept in my daughter’s bedroom but then something changed.  I am not sure what, other than Abby’s OCD- the part of her brain that is not functioning as it should and giving her false messages of danger. Olive was no longer an escape from her anxieties and fears but now part of our family and part of her issues.   Because we took Olive in on such short notice, we had no expectations for our daughter as to her role in caring for Olive.  We hoped she would take to caring for Olive and it would become her activity, something she enjoyed.  Yet, as time passed, we saw that Abby’s irrational fears and anxieties and inability to touch things now included Olive, feeding Olive, taking her outside, and even petting Olive.

We made our first trip with Olive over Thanksgiving and even my non-dog mother declared her a great  dog and she was welcome at her home.  Olive is a great dog with a wonderful temperament.  She is an ideal dog for a family with a toddler.  She gets along great with our cat who I think despite her air of superiority, is happy to have an animal companion.  She gives that away when she hides from and then jumps out at Olive, running from her, knowing despite being much smaller, she the cat with claws, has the upper hand.

At times, I do grumble about having a dog because I feel that we have the dog for my daughter and yet she can not usually do the simple things like feed her and take her outside.  Things are much better than those first few months~for Abby and with Olive.  Abby has participated in Canine Good Citizen Class with Olive and my sister has been coming about once per month and spending time with Abby and Olive with dog training.  Olive is more comfortable and now begs at the table and follows us when we have food.  She also is attention seeking at times and has wiggled her way between Jason, the toddler, and another person to get affection.  She likes to sit in our lap even though she is about 37 pounds.

Olive has become our family dog.  Jason calls her “my dog” and enjoys giving her treats- often many treats- but this makes for a good relationship with the two of them.  She barks a lot when she is outside.  She didn’t bark at all the first week or so that we had her.  She rarely barks in the house.  She is a great dog.  Yet, I do ask the question, “Why is there a dog in my house?” at times because I am still a cat person.

We are going to take our first trip where Olive can not come and so we needed to find someone to watch Olive.  Before Olive came to live with us, and we contemplated getting a dog for our daughter, we figured our wonderful neighbors across the street could dog sit for us.  The ones who gave us Olive and moved several states away.

I found a homeschool family with a young daughter who loves animals so much she started her own pet sitting business.   We had met them  several months ago and so they came over to meet Olive and will be coming over to take care of her when we are gone.   It feels good to hire another young girl who loves animals like my daughter with a mom that I know and trust.  I am not sure how Olive will do with us gone as she is so used to us being here during the day.  It is rare that we are gone for more than maybe 4 fours at a time.  Olive’s previous owners, our former neighbors both worked full-time and so she has lived that life.  Yet, she has been with us for almost a year and has grown accustomed to us being around.  I know we will pick up all the toys in the living room.  She has chewed a few toys on days when we were gone for a long stretch of time but only one toy per incident and I would say less than 5 times total.

I have come to appreciate aspects of life with a dog.  The happy, tail-wagging greeting whenever we return home.  Her unconditional love and acceptance of us as we are.  She listens well and can be trained easily with treats.  She does come when you call her (unless she is in pursuit of a cat or rabbit) and tolerates bathes and nail clippings as well hair cuts in a calm manner.   She is happy to go off in a corner when given a good bone.  She has learned to get off the couch when people are sitting on it~ well, will move as told, we are working on this.  Our youngest, Jason, has learned to be gentle and loves Olive.  Our oldest has learned to tolerate a dog in his home and even has helped to care for her.  I think having pets is wonderful for children.  We had a dog when I was young, but my sister, like my daughter, loved the dog and took full care of our dog.  I was very sad when our dog ran away from home and we never found him.  We only had him for about 3 or 4 years.

Olive is really a part of our family now even though some aspect of me still resists this.  When my husband had a heart attack and was in the hospital for 12 days, it seamed that Olive sat at the top of the stairs, almost watching over us but also waiting for him to come home.  I think my husband has bonded more with Olive than I have.  That part of me that still resists having a dog has not fully accepted that she is with us permanently now.  When our neighbors were still trying to sell their house, across the street from us, there was this possibility that they would move back but once they sold the house and new people moved in, that door closed.   It has been about 6 months now since that time.

My husband’s heart attack happened just shortly after our new neighbors moved in.  So now, that we are getting back to “regular life” do I find myself reflecting once again on life with a dog.   I feel that I am only now beginning to step back and reflect on life with a dog.  I know I could re read this post and likely want to re write it or start over.  Writing the post has propelled me in to thinking about it from a different perspective.  This post reflects where I am now (or where I was as a wrote it).  In my commitment to writing on a regular basis, I will share it for all to see.  Know that even now, I see it with a new perspective and possibly an altered title.  It is what it is: life with a dog, 11 months now and counting.

Getting Unstuck: No more “trying to”

Recently,  I decided to let go of my story of loss.  I wrote out all of my losses over the past several years, all the big ones and decided I would let go of “my story” of loss.  What does that mean? I don’t know but what comes to mind is Debbie Ford.  And so I googled to jog my memory and found this wonderful interview with Debbie Ford.

I wrote all about the letting go of loss in another blog entitled, Letting Go of “My Story”…of loss.

Today, I would like to talk about the part of the interview that first caught my attention; getting unstuck in “trying”.

I was immediately drawn to read more of this part of the interview because I, too often, find myself saying that I am “trying” to do something.   I have had ideas and even visions of what I would like to do with my writing and yet, find myself frequently getting stuck.  Even though I was reading this interview to learn more about letting go of “my story”, I knew that what I was reading was extremely relevant.

At the above link, if you scroll to page 5, 3rd paragraph,   the interviewer, McGee,  speaks of something Ford once said, “Don’t say you’re ‘trying’. You’re either doing something or you’re not doing it.”  and asks her “How do we get unstuck in “trying”?”

Debbie Ford answers:  quoted from the text

I use the analogy in The Right Question of a car trip.  If you just say, “I want to have a better business,” that’s like saying, “I want to go to the South.”  Where in the South?

How much better do you want your business?  You need to get really specific, and yes, you may have to modify your course.  You need to start with a very, very strong vision, because then you can wake up every morning and say, “What do I need to do to get there?”

If you were going on a road trip, you wouldn’t look at your map once a week or once a month.  You’d look at it every day.  Say, “This is where I want to go.”  Then, ask yourself, “What can I do today to get there?”

That is where we’ve got to go with people.  Whether it’s a New Age retailer or an individual, we’ve got to inspire them to have clear and concise vision.  And know you can change your vision.  Maybe I say I’m going to New York, but all of a sudden I wind up in New Jersey and I love it. That’s  okay-you can change your vision. 

We need to be clear about it.  We have that picture, and we hold it in.  We have the intent to get there, and we’re taking those steps. We’re taking really good, strong steps.  I don’t think the universe can guide us.  I think our souls know. 

The above information  is taken from an article in the  New Age Retailer from Jan/ FEb 2007.  The author and editor in chief is Kathy McGee.

After reading that, I had the idea of creating a plan for my vision in the form of a map.  Instead of listing out goals and objectives in outline style, I need to create a map of my vision.  A map that I can write on and amend as my vision unfolds. Unlike, a travel map with clear highways to travel on your route, this map needs to be ongoing.  I can write out my vision with as many descriptions and specifics including financial aspects and then, I can either work backwards and add in possible things I need to do to get to the final destination.  Or, I can just start from today and list what I can do now to get to my destination.

My brain is busy with possibilities of how I can create this map.  I do need to let my right brain, my creative side, take the lead.  My left brain has already made the list, written goals, objectives and daily tasks, only to find myself not able to follow through in that format.  I think I need to keep this visual and start with a vision collage of what I would like my life to be like.  From that vision collage, I can then create my map.  I believe I need to plan to do just that and stop thinking about it, because then I am once again, “trying”.

So, I will make a vision collage.  This You Tube Video gives a good explanation on Vision Boards.    I also found this blog that describes the idea well, How to Make a Vision Board.  After I make my vision board, I will let you know where I went from there and how I am making my map.  Maybe you might be interested in doing the same or something similar.  I would love to hear about your vision collage, or road map to where you want to go.  Please share, for the benefit of all.