Category Archives: My Story

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!

FREE Today and Tomorrow Only – Learn 4 Secrets That Will Change Your Life!

Have you ever wondered, “Is this really all there is?” My life used to consist of work, chores, taking care of the kids, and a couple hours of TV to unwind before I went to bed. After my divorce I met people who helped me realize that there really is more out there – a LOT more! My life has changed in ways I would never have believed possible.

As a result of everything I learned, I published my first book in April – Thriving not Surviving: Bravely Pursue a Life That Will Blow Your Mind! It is a straightforward guide for changing your thinking in a way that will help you move from simply surviving to thriving. I’ve done it and so can you! (see below for an excerpt from the book)

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, click the image below to download the Kindle version for FREE today and tomorrow only (the paperback version is also available but not eligible for the promotion). Go grab it and let me know what you think! Miss the promotion? Email me at gratefulsinglemoms@yahoo.com and I will notify you of the next promotion!

After you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It helps more than you know!

I was fortunate enough to be able to include writing from two of our fellow bloggers as well:

The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom

A Creative PTSD Gal

Click the image below to get your free copy today!

Goodbye 2018!

December has been a busy month. I guess that’s not unusual for us but the holidays for us involves traditions that we just won’t give up no matter how packed our schedule is.

Every year we have a cookie making party. This year we had 8 teenagers spend the weekend baking cookies and cakes – okay, mostly cakes because what they really enjoy these days is decorating cakes. There was flour everywhere and they used over 30 eggs. There are still 6 open cans of frosting in my fridge that need to be thrown away.

We also visit the lights at a park with family friends every year. We have been doing this since 2013 and even though the girls we bring are now 15 and 17 they still get excited about going. The 4 girls pose for hundreds of pictures at the same places they’ve been standing for years and looking back we can see how much they’ve changed.

We fit these activities in on top of Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating and more.

As if that weren’t enough, we fostered kittens, three this time. They were with us for over 3 weeks and although they started off timid and scared they eventually grew to be more adventurous.

My daughter held a yard sale the weekend before Christmas where we sold some of our furniture – 3 book cases and a sectional sofa, making room and clearing clutter. We began renovating my daughter’s room, removing everything including the carpet. I’ve never seen so much sand under a carpet before! Where does it come from? We changed the walls from purple to grey and finally painted the baseboards that have been the horrible yellow that was there since we moved in 8 years ago. I took down the old shelving in the closet to make room for more functional storage. My younger daughter’s room is next…after we finish.

I stuck to running a couple times a week and am up to 5 miles now. I can hold yoga poses I had once thought impossible. I got back out on my bike Christmas day and did 20 miles in spite of the tires being flat. I feel strong and fit.

On top of everything the girls had another trip to NH for their third funeral this year. While it was sad saying goodbye to yet another grandparent this one was not only expected but in many ways a relief. Their dad’s father had been suffering for a long time and he is now at peace.

We have definitely finished 2018 with a bang. I look forward to what 2019 will bring!

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

Let’s Create a New Tradition!

In an effort to get back to writing I have begun posting on my other blog. I hope to resume the more creative posts here but until then I thought I’d share today’s post.

Thriving Not Surviving

This time of year is filled with family, friends and traditions. It is a time for saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.

I started 2018 strong – stronger than any year I can remember. I achieved more than I ever thought I could in a single year:

  • I lost over 40 pounds in 9 months and have been maintaining for 3 months.
  • I started running and can now run 5 miles.
  • I took up yoga and can now bend myself into a pretzel.
  • I started meditating.
  • I began writing and blogging.
  • I wrote and published my first book.
  • I started my novel.
  • I took over 2 MeetUp groups.
  • I traveled to new places.

I became a version of me that I truly loved.

But since October my life has gotten a little off track.  My mom passed away and even though we weren’t close it hit…

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Staring at a Blank Page

As many of you know, I have been working on my novel now since June. The ideas for the story came fast and furious, flowing with little effort. Every day I would write 500 to 1000 words, sometimes more. I used the word of the day for inspiration, and I was happy with what I came out. The pieces had been written out of order, but I had put them together in one document in order. When I started to read through it I realized it still needed a lot of work – a full rewrite instead of just an edit as I’d hoped.

A few months ago I stopped responding to the word of the day prompt so I could focus on my masterpiece. I started the rewrite and what I wrote the second time was so much better I was motivated to turn it into something truly great. Pretty quickly I got about 20,000 words into the new story, and it was good. Really good. Better than I thought I could write.

And then I got stuck.

Life happened. My mother passed away. While we weren’t close, I didn’t handle this well (does anyone?) and suddenly I felt other areas of my life starting to unravel. I disengaged from WordPress. I missed time with my kids. I had issues with my rental. And although I have great friends, I didn’t get the support I needed (largely because of how I was dealing with the situation).

I spent a week in NH dealing with the practical things that need to be done when someone passes away. It was exhausting both physically and emotionally. I took the week off from writing – there was no time and how could I justify writing at a time like that? I came back and still had a week off from work to get myself together. I went away to Savannah and Charleston – a trip I’d planned before my mother passed away. I was alone and had fully intended to spend the time writing. I did everything but write. I ran. I wandered around the towns. I read. But I didn’t write. Not a word.

And still I made excuses. I was healing. I would get back to it.

It has now been 2 months, and still I struggle to get back to writing. I don’t post to WordPress. I have added some to the story but I keep getting distracted – emails, texts, dinner with friends, running. I spent 4 days at the beach where I finished my last book and still I found other things to do. I ran on the beach. I hung out at the bar down the street and met some interesting people. I listened to music. I did yoga. But I didn’t write.

And now I’m adding to my excuses. Work is busy. It’s Christmas and I need to buy presents. It’s cold and I don’t have any clothes that fit so I need to go shopping.

Plus we’re fostering 3 kittens and one of them – even after a week – hisses at me when I enter the room and any time I go near her. She needs socialization or she will never be adopted.

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And so I play with the kittens instead of writing. Or I have dinner out. Or I go running. Or I go to yoga. Or shopping. Or I do anything but write.

And so the page remains blank. I miss the days when I could write for hours, lost in the story. Some day I will do that again. I just don’t know when.

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