Category Archives: My Story

Another Milestone Reached!

The book I’ve been working on with my sister has officially been released on Amazon! This is an exciting accomplishment. I feel like I am finally moving in the direction of doing what I love – writing! I don’t know where this road might take me, and I’m still going to pursue my novel and write a sequel to Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind!. I have a lot of ideas about both of them, and I need to give them some of my attention, but this has been a fantastic experience.

Links to our book are below (click the image to go to Amazon). There is more to do in order to promote these, and that in itself isn’t a small task. But I feel like I’m moving forward, making progress on my dreams. I’m thrilled to share this journey with all of you!

Available in paperback:

Or for Kindle:

We have also made a companion journal available. I’m particularly excited about this as it will help parents follow the process on their own and provide enough space to record everything they need in one place:

Puppies!

I’ve been so busy with all my projects that I barely have time to post here anymore. We had a wonderful litter of kittens who never got to be announced to the world (because it is the lifelong dream of all kittens to be featured on a blog post).

We’re now fostering two puppies. It’s the second time we’ve done puppies and it’s exhausting. They’re cute, especially now that they’re getting more comfortable when they have to be in their crate. But at less than 5 weeks old (with still 3 weeks remaining with us) these guys are already finding things to get into….and for some reason they love to bite my feet.

Just like having babies, these guys like to keep me awake at night. This video will give you a taste of what I have been living with:

(for some reason the video is turned sideways…and I’m just too tired to try to fix it) I find it hysterical to watch him howl…unless it’s between the hours of 12am and 5am. Fortunately this too is getting better. Now that they’ve been with us for 5 days we’re starting to adjust to each other. I’m hoping to sleep more tonight.

Wish me luck!

I Had Never Imagined the Possibilities

Get up. Go to work. Take care of the kids. Watch TV. Go to bed. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

For years this was my life. Before kids it was the same, minus the “take care of the kids” part (substitute dog for kids). That is what my life was. Sure, I had friends and sometimes we’d get together on the weekend, or I’d have dinner with my sister and her family. But this was pretty much it.

I dreamed of my life being different. I tried to get my ex husband interested in doing something together other than watching TV (something I regretted each time I tried). I looked into ways to pursue a career that wasn’t the 9-5 grind at a soulless company but was met with resistance from my ex and paralyzing self-doubt. I thought about writing in my free time, but the stories always remained in my head.

And so nothing ever changed.

My divorce 7 years ago was a catalyst for me. I won’t say that suddenly I was free to do all the things I had dreamed of doing, because in all honesty I was TERRIFIED of the responsibility I was shouldering. I felt overwhelmed. I had no idea how I was going to manage everything – a house, kids, work. Worst of all, I lacked confidence in myself to be able to handle some of life’s most basic challenges.

Change was slow in the beginning. But every little success built on previous successes. Every time I overcame a challenge, no matter how small, I gained faith in myself. I started meeting people who were living a life I’d want to live, and started thinking about ways I might be able to make that happen. Instead of telling myself all the reasons I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, follow my dreams I started taking action.

It wasn’t easy. And sometimes it’s still not easy. But I’m getting there.

I published my first book last April: Thriving Not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind!

It was an achievement I had only ever dreamed of.

Shortly after that I began work on my novel. I won’t lie…writing fiction is just harder than writing non fiction. I love it, and I’m really proud of what I have so far, but I’m just over half way done the first solid draft and other priorities have pushed it to the side.

But that’s okay because I’m still moving toward my dreams. I’m still creating things, still writing.

Tonight I submitted the book my sister and I wrote together. It will be available soon on Amazon. It’s another non fiction: 6 Step Behavior Change Process. It’s a parenting guide to help parents of children with autism (although this process will work with any child). The book is great on its own, however we’re also making a journal available that matches the steps in the book. This provides a convenient place for parents to track their progress through the process.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s yet another example of something I never would have imagined possible just a few years ago. And yet it’s becoming a reality.

We really do have more control over our lives than we realize. Even after all the changes I’ve made, all the ways I’ve grown, I’m still amazed at each and every achievement. And I’d like more than anything for you to realize your dreams as well!

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Haunting.

Explaining Autism to Siblings

In our most recent post on children with autism we talk about how to explain autism to siblings. I know first hand how challenging sibling relationships can be. My kids fight as often as my sister and I did when we were growing up. How to divide things, like our room at our mom’s or the pull out couch at our dad’s, was a common one. My kids are fortunate in that they don’t share space, but they find other things to argue about.

I have done a lot of reading about sibling rivalry and I understand where their conflict comes from. I do my best to minimize it, and they know this is one of my buttons. Bickering is a sure-fire way to push me past my breaking point. On the other hand, cooperating and “ganging up” on me will get them most anything.

When they get frustrated with each other I try to talk to them about how each of them might be feeling. When my youngest was having a hard time sleeping and I was spending extra time with her, my oldest would be upset so I would explain that her sister needed the extra attention (being replaced as the baby in the family when her dad had a new baby was the root cause of the sleepless nights). Similarly when my oldest needs help with homework and my youngest feels ignored I take the time to talk to her about why her sister needs my help.

These are all common, everyday problems that most families face. In writing our latest post for my sister’s website, we discussed ways to explain the much more complicated topic of autism to children. It was a very interesting post for me to help write:

Explaining Autism to Siblings

I love that I’m learning new things every day.

Writer’s Block Isn’t Fatal

After more than three months of struggling with writer’s block I was finally able to write. I posted a short snippet of a story yesterday in response to the word of the day. It’s not unlike something I wrote last year but I posted it anyway. Writing anything at all was the goal. Even better, I have been able to write a whole chapter in the novel I have been working on. (For more on this project see the post: With Eager Anticipation I Watch My Story Unfold)

I’ve also been writing for my sister’s blog (Accessible ABA). As part of that project we have a book that is close to being ready to publish. It will be part of a series titled Understanding Your Child with Autism. The first book is the 6 Step Behavior Change Process. In addition, because the process involves recording information we will be releasing a companion journal that follows the 6 steps. This is truly a project that has required us to combine our skills. She is the behavior expert; I am the writer. It’s not that she can’t write, but that isn’t her passion; it’s mine. So far it’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to several other projects we have planned.

Over these months I’ve had brief bursts where I have been able to write, so it’s possible this isn’t the end to the writer’s block. But I can feel my creativity beginning to come back; the ideas are bubbling under the surface. It’s not quite as it was when I found inspiration everywhere, but I have faith it will get there. It might even be time for me to start carrying my journal with me again so I can write down my thoughts as they come to me. There are so many good ideas written there already…

Yes, just maybe writer’s block isn’t quite fatal.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Combine.

Is It Better to Follow a Plan?

I always used to be a planner. I believed having a plan and sticking to it was the best way to achieve goals. I studied SMART goal setting and repeatedly tried to follow the process. It never worked for me, and worse I spent more time working on setting up the process than I did following it through.

I had things I wanted to achieve and yet I wasn’t making progress. I was stuck.

Over time I started reading books that led me to realize my real problem was fear. I was afraid of what people would think. I was afraid I would fail. I wasn’t sure if I could do something and so I didn’t try to do it. It was safer that way.

I admit, I still have a little voice inside me that tells me I can’t do things or I’m not good enough. “What if it doesn’t work?” it sneers.

But I’ve gotten better at responding, “What if it does?”

I’ve also found that allowing myself a backup plan helps. While the girls were on winter break I took on the major project of redoing their bedrooms. Normally we would just paint and rearrange things a bit but this time I decided I was going to do it all. I ripped out their carpets, changed their electrical outlets (they were so loose they could barely plug anything in them) and tore down the old shelves in their closets.

At various points that fear would grip me. As I pulled up the rug and thought about how I was going to pull tack strips out of concrete I thought, “What if I can’t get all the nails out?” Rather than letting it stop me I allowed myself a backup plan. If I couldn’t get the nails out then I would hire someone to help. Normally I’d ask my neighbor but he was gone for 2 weeks…but I’d ask someone. The city is full of people who can get nails out of concrete.

But I found out that I could do it. I got every last one of them out. Maybe it wasn’t the best way, or the easiest way. But I did it.

After painting, my daughters and I started laying the new flooring. I had selected vinyl planks, similar to wood laminate but more durable. I had laid wood laminate before, or rather I’d assisted laying it before. I’d never done it on my own, but I understood how it worked. We laid the first row and I had to cut the first plank. The instructions said “score with a utility knife and snap it.” It was not as simple as it sounded and I began to worry about how hard it was to cut.

We pressed on to the second row and found that the second piece in the second row was quite a challenge. Getting it to lock into two sides was much more difficult than one. I started to feel discouraged. The room isn’t huge but suddenly the task felt daunting. “Is this too much for us to take on?” I wondered.

But I knew that things get easier the more you do them and so I pressed on. I should not have been surprised when after the 4th or 5th row we had a smooth process and we were moving along faster than I’d ever expected.

In the end, the first room came out fantastic. The second is done except for finding a place to store all her treasures (no pictures of that room until it’s cleaned up!).

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I’ve done the same with my writing. I was able to publish my first book by taking control of that little voice of doubt inside me. Working furiously to finish before a tight deadline (that I’d imposed on myself) gave me little time to worry and the community here on WordPress helped bolster my courage.

I’m now working on a novel, when I can. It’s probably 1/3 done and I’ve been taking a break to work on another writing project. My sister asked me to help her write for her blog and I now find myself writing about children with autism. This isn’t a topic I know a lot about, but I’m learning. I worry as I’m writing…”Am I saying this the right way? Will people take offense if I say that?” My sister has posted our second collaborative post and although I’m still learning I am getting more comfortable:

How to Help Siblings Get Along When One or More Has Autism

Honestly the things I’m learning I could have used when my kids were little!

We are also working on a book series with the tentative title “Understanding Your Child with Autism.”

This isn’t a direction I’d planned to take, but I’ve decided that sometimes NOT sticking with a plan is the best course of action. Keeping myself open to possibilities might actually help me achieve more than I could ever plan for.

This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Plan.

Why Time Out Might Be Making Your Child’s Behavior Worse

My house is still torn apart. Neither bedroom I’ve been renovating is finished, although one is close. I have piles of things the girls want to get rid of and a yard sale is pending in my future – and I hate yard sales. I’m still stuck with my novel. I feel like I’ve somehow lost the message of the story and I’m trying to get it back. I want to do a second book on my Thriving Not Surviving theme. My Christmas decorations are down but not put away. I’m finally getting back to yoga and running after nearly 2 weeks without either.

But I couldn’t resist one more thing. My sister has asked me to partner with her on her website and so I have been working on that. She is an expert in child behavior and works with children with autism. She’s a licensed BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) with a master’s degree and plenty of knowledge but doesn’t enjoy writing the way I do. So we are combining our skills.

Our first collaborative post I could have used about 10 years ago: Why Time Out Might Be Making Your Child’s Behavior Worse.

I have long wanted a way to contribute, to use my skills in a way that makes the world better. It’s why I wrote my first book and will continue to write. I’m excited to learn and grow in this new way. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts! Even if you’re not a parent feel free to subscribe to the blog and keep up with what we’re doing – and share it with people you know who have kids!