Autism Awareness Day 2017

Snorkelboy

I wanted to say a special THANK YOU today, on International Autism Awareness Day, to all the beautiful souls touched by this “label”. It is especially (ironically) fitting for me this weekend, when I personally was touched and blessed by some such beautiful souls.

A THANK YOU to the kind, loving, patient boy who spent 3 hours swimming around the pool with my son yesterday at a pool party. My 6-year-old son was surrounded by a dozen fun loving 11-year-old girls who (understandably) wanted nothing to do with him, so my son put on his snorkel/mask/fins (doesn’t everyone bring these to a pool party?) and swam around, on top of, and next to this kind boy who befriended him and became his “person” for the rest of the party. My son didn’t know this boy was “different”. But he did know he was kind.

A THANK YOU to the beautiful, compassionate, joyful girl today who saw my son struggling to fit in with his peer group at a big, busy social event, and took him under her wing and invited him to play and tag along with her. He was thrilled to find a kind soul to relate to and belong with.

See my son is 6 years old, and doesn’t know what autism is. He is innocent so far and hasn’t needed to see these “differences” among people, differences that require “labels”. He himself (or is it me? Or the rest of us?) struggles with his own set of labels. Highly sensitive. Highly spirited. High needs. He dances to the beat of a different drum himself, and not a day goes by for me that I don’t wonder to myself “Did I miss something? Is he on the spectrum?”. But the better question is aren’t we ALL on the spectrum somewhere or other? It’s a damn SPECTRUM after all, with a hugely wide range of colors and shapes and sounds. And doesn’t that placement on the spectrum change as we navigate life with our own highs and lows, stressful and peaceful periods, struggling and being ostracized at times and at others fitting in quite well?

So THANK YOU to you, beautiful souls. To your kindness, compassion, and uniqueness. The world is a more beautiful, colorful place thanks to you. And a huge THANK YOU to the parents…who tirelessly teach, model, and repeat the same phrase 56,432 times in hopes this time it will stick….your diligence and love does not go unnoticed. Your work is so hard, so important, and I admire you.

THANK YOU.

Six Degrees of Cuban Bacon

fry-the-bacon

Okay, so I realize this post is completely self-serving, and I’m okay with that. Sometimes, shit happens. And it makes me think and ponder and wonder… and these thoughts yell and scream at me until they are allowed out into the world. Sometimes through spoken word, sometimes through a blog post. It helps me process.

So there’s your warning. This may or may not resonate with you. It doesn’t matter. It just needs out. But be careful if you choose to keep reading. This MAY resonate with you, and cause YOU to think and connect some dots or raise some questions.

Two days ago, I had a kind of epiphany regarding energy, spirituality, life….and our connections with loved ones specifically. Because two days ago, I wound up in the hospital surgery “Family Waiting Lounge” …waiting. Waiting to get an update about my father.

Let me back up a little.

I have spent most of my life striving to connect to my spiritual, higher self…learning everything I could that might remotely relate to that topic, through workshops, live classes, coffee dates, “date” dates… you name it. I have learned so much and awakened so much, so much so that at times now I am often shocked at how quickly things “connect” for me. How quickly, or oddly, things manage to manifest in ways I never imagined.

A big challenge for me (as I imagine may be true for many on their own spiritual path) was clearing certain blocks that were hindering me in a few places in my life and spiritual growth.  That was something I was really, actively “trying hard” to do. I’ve taken quite a number of courses on this particular area in hopes of “mastering” it, because I “needed” to be done with those blocks.

One of these blocks was the grief I still felt at losing my mother when we were both too young to be ready to part. She was 49, I was 22. Cancer took her away, and I won’t go into the details because it honestly doesn’t matter. But for a good 20 years I held on to that grief (apparently). I was angry/sad/frustrated that she didn’t get to see me get married, to become a grown-up, to have my own child…and no amount of therapy or meditation or reading or anything made a dent in that grief. And we’re not talking sadness here, we’re talking true grief.  It nagged at my soul when I wasn’t even thinking about it, and really did a number on me during holidays, Mother’s Day, birthdays, etc.

It wasn’t until almost 2 years ago that I really got a true grasp of the energy world and how it functions, surrounded myself with my “tribes” of energy people, that I was truly able to release that grief. And it was almost effortless. Well not exactly, but it felt quite miraculous and instantaneous. I had an incredible encounter, and it was DONE. Once I grasped that we truly are all one, that energy never ends or dies, just transmutes and transforms…that we never truly “lose” our loved ones, they are very much “still there” and we can still connect with them (and when I finally embraced that this was my truth, that I was brave enough to embrace that & honestly & completely accept it and own it) it just fell away, and opened up a whole new world for me.

Apparently the universe wanted to test me as it has tested many of us during this last year, just wanting to make sure we really have our souls firmly planted in our truths and we can’t be shaken. So this past summer I lost another being near and dear to my heart, another great teacher to me, my faithful and fart-full long-time doggy companion Sammy Davis Junior Jr. It happened fairly suddenly, and the loss was huge for me and left quite a gaping hole in me for a while. But knowing what I know now, I was okay feeling all my feels and allowing myself the grieving process of losing his physical presence, knowing it wouldn’t debilitate me for long. So I reached out, used my tools & newfound knowledge….and lo and behold just about a month later, I had another encounter, and BAM, the grief was gone. I do still feel some tiny bit of sadness once in a while, but it subsides quickly and is usually also mixed with love and joy and wonder.

So I am learning still how to best deal with these energetic ties… how to learn from them, to use them for good and not to let them swallow me up or overtake me. And this past couple of weeks I had a great opportunity to practice with someone still living, my Dad. I realized just this week what an amazingly strong connection we have…. which had you asked me a month ago about our relationship, I would have had a completely different point of view.

You see, of course I love my stubborn, old-school, Cuban Dad, I always have, but we never really “connected” at all growing up together. We were very similar and very different in so many ways. We didn’t live well together, and our relationship did improve once I moved out on my own in my early 20’s. But we never really have a lot of common interests to discuss. He doesn’t understand my spirituality, my passion for following my dreams. He is ever the realist, firmly living on this planet, in the practical here and now. He doesn’t believe in stress, depression, anything intangible, or discuss emotions or anything of that sort. And that’s okay! I love him as he is, I just never felt very understood or close to him on a soul level.

His health has been deteriorating a lot lately, and at 83, he is battling all sorts of issues. We’ve had a number of scares within the last year, and this man has more than 9 lives it seems. On top of his “usual” daily health struggles, he has been dealing with debilitating back pain for 3 weeks now….and ironically (not really as it turns out) so have I. Granted, I have always had a bad back, but not like this. I had sought out the help of a dear, close friend who is a chiropractor, and that provided some relief. I have also played detective, trying to figure out what could be making me feel so much pain. This back pain is unlike ANY I have had before, it just feels different, and radiates down one leg. Ironically, my Dad’s pain was very similar. But unfortunately, due to his age and other issues, his was taking away his ability to stand and walk. His health care provider (aka CRAPPY CLINIC IN HIALEAH) leaves a lot to be desired, and the awful advice and care they have given him in the past have almost cost him his life a couple of times.  So here we are both trying our best to get help and treated for our back pain (and I hadn’t really even realized the connection yet at that point)… he has been back and forth from doctor to specialist to hospital multiple times, I have been from massage therapist to PT to chiropractor…. until finally last week my chiropractor suggested me getting an MRI to take a better look. I was desperate for relief and answers, so I took the steps to make it happen. Which meant heading to my primary doctor, a DO whom I adore, who coincidentally happened to have an amazing machine in his office which provided immediate (temporary) relief, and he also laid the groundwork for me getting a referral for an MRI. I shared all this info with my Dad and urged him to find a chiropractor to get a different perspective.

So what happens next is where it starts to get crazy. My Dad is now to the point where he can’t walk, or stand, or control his bowels or bladder, and his pain is so great he says he can’t go on another day, and heads to the hospital (all this from a man who avoids doctors & hospitals at all costs). They send him home within hours after running all sorts of tests and attribute it to a fall 3 weeks ago, his age, and his general health. One day later he is rushed by ambulance to different hospital in the wee hours of the morning because now he can’t even move his legs or get up into a sitting position. He finally gets taken to a “real” hospital, and they run tests. And you know what solves the mystery? An MRI of his back. Revealing a huge, deep infection pressing against his spine, compressing T9-10 to be exact. He needs immediate (Laminectomy) surgery if he hopes to walk again. So he’s transported to a bigger, regional hospital with a Neurosurgery department, gets examined, and indeed, they agree surgery is needed.  The infection has branched out and compressed his spinal cord and is the reason why he has had all sorts of issues for MONTHS. As have I.  I just didn’t know what my back was trying to tell me.

So oddly enough, now my back pain is virtually gone (without the MRI, or any further treatment since this all came to light). And he has answers, and has had surgery, and is on his long road to recovery, rehab, and learning to walk again.

Coincidence? I think not.  It’s like a strange “6 Degrees of Cuban Bacon” or something.  But what came first, the chicken or the egg? His back pain or mine? Did mine help save him? Did his help save us? Who knows.

All I know is the universe never stops communicating with us, teaching us, connecting us. We just have to be quiet and aware enough to listen.

Where will YOU go?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright...

Tiger, tiger, burning bright…

Every night as part of my son’s bedtime routine, we pick 1 or 2 books to read. My son has loved books since he was a toddler (as do I) and his collection started even before his birth. So the nightly reading can range anywhere from”Everyone Poops” (no I’m not kidding and yes, he’s been potty trained for years) to Ranger Rick magazine, to “The DK Encyclopedia of the Human Body” (limited to 5 pages per night, cuz seriously? Bedtime?), to Dr. Seuss….you get the picture. He gets to choose every night.  Ironically, tonight, on the night before he “officially” starts school (VPK) he chooses “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”.

Have you read that book? Because if you haven’t, you should. It’s not a kids book! I mean of course it is, but not really, as is the case with many of the Doctor Seuss books.  I find it ironic he chooses this book tonight on the verge of this important, significant transition (for us both), because that’s exactly what the book is about- setting out on a bold, beautiful new journey.

Tomorrow, he starts school full time. For the next 14 years the majority of his waking hours will be at school, away from home, and from us. That is the reality. I might wish it were different at times, that we could home school, or unschool, or a combination of both.  But for now, the reality is that’s where he will be. And I have to trust that it will all be okay, because that’s what I choose to think.

So out of nowhere, reading this book, so much comes up inside me. It is profound. It speaks to me right now more than to him I think. Because the other aspect of our reality is my transition, me taking my own journey and leap of faith into following my dreams full time.

The book speaks of walking straightforward into one’s truth, into the unknown.  It speaks of all the wonderful as well as the scary things we will encounter once we do that. Of the times we WILL fail, because it’s the truth, we all do. Except when we don’t, because every failure is a lesson that can teach us how to move forward in a more perfect direction for us, if we have the courage to continue on to follow our own truth.

And the secret is, all we have to do is be ourselves. Unapologetically, authentically, 100% ourselves. It’s truly that simple. Not easy, but simple. Now that is easier to do when you’re a child, especially a young child, when you’re so raw and untainted, before things get too complicated, before you forget who you are, before they tell you who you are supposed to be. Somehow along the way we all tend to get a little lost. We forget to read the signs. We forget what we are here for.

But the beauty is it’s never too late. And boy has that message been coming to me (again!) from all directions.  From songs on the radio, to memes on Facebook, to books that fall into my lap, to strangers I meet.

It’s never to late to be you. To follow through on your you-ness on all levels, as scary and intimidating as it may seem. Because when you do, the places you will go will be amazing.

So now, tell me: Who are you, really? What are you here for? And where will YOU go?