Thursday, December 10, 2009
Some time ago, Joanne Cashman, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, posed a provocative question: If transition is such a good idea, why is it so hard to do? As a former director of special education for a large school system and an instructor in George Washington University’s Teacher Preparation and Special Education Department, I believe I know one important reason that helping youth successfully transition from school to postsecondary life is so difficult. During and after high school, parents are one of the most important links in the transition process, yet parents themselves often do not have the support they need in managing the many challenges they face.
In an effort to address this challenge and to assist youth with learning differences in making successful transitions, my colleague, Doreen Fulton, decided to approach the transition process from a different angle and with a unique focus. As a mother with three young adults with learning challenges, Doreen had many people counting on her to “be there.” She knew that she had to work tirelessly and with purpose and resolve. She had to work smarter, not harder. Rather than focus on the challenges of her children, she decided to focus on her own competencies, her own resources and her desired outcome.
As a human resource professional and certified Dream Coach®, Doreen had helped countless young people to move in the direction of their dreams, to get scholarships, to find satisfying careers and to embrace their strengths and innate talents while actively supporting their peers in the transition process. She decided to use these skills to help her own children and others like them who struggled with academics. She customized the proven transition process and developed a visioning course to address the specific needs of parents and educators who were facing transition with fear and trepidation.
Knowing that dreams work best when shared, she called on me to join her in this outreach activity. Doreen and I have since collaborated to create Transition Quest: A Visioning Course for Parents, Educators and Advocates. During the past year, we have had success in reaching parents and helping them gain the support and strategies they needed to enable them to reach their own goals. This success led them to see the strength in their own children and to influence them by active engagement. Many young people seeing their parents in action joined in and eagerly explored their own options and pursued their own passions and career paths with success.
We hope that you will take a few minutes to review the course at http://believeinarayofhope.com/31101/index.html and that you find it appropriate to share with the families you serve. We have seen that this approach provides one significant answer to making transitions work better for young people and their families.
Carie Rothenbacher and Doreen Fulton
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
During this time, when I had planned to visit the ocean, I found myself at home, reading and listening to CDs. I connected with my spirit with a greater intensity and was flooded with gratitude. Since I was not driving, I found more time to journal, to connect and to align myself with my core values and higher source.
I wrote about the special people in my life and saw my sister dance across my pages. I remember the beautiful girl who lit up the room. I see her bright eyes and engaging spirit. I remembered her warm hugs and uplifting jokes.
Throughout my life, she has added sparkle and fun to our family gatherings. In times of challenge, she has provided a home and a safe haven. On countless occasions, when I sought comfort, she provided not only words of encouragement but a listening heart. She has been fierce defender and a warm companion. Her spirit literally radiates energy and we have been blessed to have her in our lives.
Without rain, the sun would not be so dear. Without challenges, my sister would have been special, but not nearly as appreciated. The darkness reveals her brilliance.
Who lights up your life? When will you find reason to celebrate with the rain?
Sunday, November 15, 2009
- When you are tired, how do you rejuvenate?
- When you are on the ground, how do you rebound?
- When you feel like giving up, how do rewind?
- When you are stressed, how do you regroup and get ready for the next challenge?
The fastest method, I can think of to get out of the doldrums and into a more joyous state of mind, is to turn inward and begin thinking of my blessings. I think of my blessings and journey back to those special moments that I have shared with my creator, my family and my friends. These special memories align me with my creativity and community and often inspire me to discover new dreams and next steps.
Appreciation, seems to be the key to regaining not only energy but resiliency. When I take time to appreciate my gifts and the gifts of others, my spirit soars and I refuel. As a result of turning inward, focusing on my transition and giving voice to my dreams, I have discovered my ResiliencePoint! I can say without doubt, that my resilience begins with Appreciation.
For the next several days, I will focus on Appreciation as this is how I like to begin my week. With my journal in hand, I begin writing about where I am. I focus on my current challenges and decide, I need fortification. I remember my main job is to feel good, but.....
- How will I find time to connect with my husband, my son, my family?
- How will I balance my many responsibilities to myself, my family and community?
- What will give me relief?
- How can I feel better, get refueled and recharged?
Come back with me, and you will see a little girl. See her now; she is very shy. She is hiding behind her mother's skirt. She peaks out every once to see who is coming in to view. She is a curious child but scared of what lurks beyond her familiar surroundings. That little girl wondered even then what made people tick? She was a girl who loved to read and write.
Thanks to her mother, she was given lots of books to read, and lots of paper and pencils with which to write. Me,
being that little girl,remembers now, how much I loved those instruments! I also remember the woman who opened my world through books and unconditional love. I did not always appreciate her and yet looking back, I can truly see that Rose Gray, my mother, was my first teacher and my greatest ally. She helped me to grow and develop, to trust in myself and time to fine tune my dreams.
I often think of my mom and how she helped me to overcome stress and reconnect with my gifts, talents, and blessings. When I reconnect with my core blessings, I remember my Mom, and with appreciation, I feel renewed, rejuvenated and ready for my next challenge.
In the days to come, I will continue to focus on appreciation and those I love, as they have helped me to discover my ResiliencePoint.
What gifts and talents do you have to help you on your path? Where do you often find your solutions? What do you appreciate in you? What qualities do you admire in others? What is your ResiliencePoint?
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
FALL IS HERE and Winter is not far behind! Time is racing fast in our neck of the woods and transitions and opportunities surround us!
Our children are shining brightly, and as I think about their transitions, I feel joy and delight. They are like the pumpkins in the picture.
Our youngest, Robert, turned 18 last week, got his driver's permit two weeks ago and is so happy. This was quite an accomplishment for him and my heart swells when I think of the obstacles he has overcome! Our daughter, Sandra, is happy with her new found freedom and is enjoying her first year of college in a dorm 7 hours from home. Our oldest, Greg, continues to enjoy his life in Blacksburg, loves his job and is self-sufficient. I say hip, hip, hooray!!
The leaves are changing and becoming more vibrant every day, and Transition continues to be front and center in my life. As you may know, I have been planning for my own transition for the last year and have been taking deliberate steps forward toward my vision.
Looking back, I have accomplished much already:
- Established my niche (Visioning for for Those Living with or Working with Special Needs),
- Identified my target audience (Parents and Educators),
- Created and offered Transition Boot Camp to multiple audiences, and
- Established my Blog, my Website and my LLC.
Despite my steps forward, I still find a large gap between my reality and my vision and until recently was not sure how I would make the leap from full time employment to my post-retirement livelihood.
With my retirement in sight, I have been searching for a way to bridge that gap. I have been trying to find a way to replace my income, trying to regain my vigor while determining my own schedule and hoping to shed unneeded pounds. I have been looking for answers and as the saying goes when the student is ready, the teacher arrives.
Just last week, that special educator arrived, as I was contemplating next steps. Heather, my long term friend and trusted confidante, who has counseled and guided our family through many difficult challenges, came forward and shared her own vision with me. I found that our reality and vision paralleled in many ways. This is what I discovered:
- We are both tired of working hard to earn money and not having the time to enjoy it;
- My weight is increasing and I rarely make time for exercise or wellness routines;
- More and more people are losing their jobs, many young people in our lives are struggling and all the talk of recession wears us down; and
- My savings in my 401K plan have shrunk, my doubts and fears have surfaced and my retirement plans are becoming iffy, at best.
- I am my own boss, plan family fun and beach time along with my own goals into my schedule. I am physically fit, visioning with my family and others and witnessing amazing results;
- I am full of energy, people around me are optimistic, competent, and supportive and we live the American Dream; and
- I retire; my income continues to increase and soars exponentially with deliberate intent and my joy is abundant.
If you share my reality, and can envision greater health, wealth and energy in your life, and believe that the time is right to take action to make it happen, I want to tell you more. Heather told me that she had taken the last several months to align herself and her vision with those of other winners. Needless, to say, I wanted to learn more!
Heather explained that I could earn significant residual income while setting my own pace and being my own boss. I suddenly realized that this was the bridge I had been looking for.
As time goes on, I will be inviting those who enroll in the proven program with me to a special beach retreat. Together, we will engage in visioning at our beach house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We will Dream Big, walk along the seashore, rest, set goals and return refreshed and reinvigorated!
If you don't think you are interested right now, but are inclined to pass this info on to someone who might be, I would be delighted and will find a way to show you my appreciation.
I see us growing wise together and working together in one way or another. Please know, that you can count on me for support. I hope that you will call or email me soon.
With Appreciation for All You Do and Hope to Do,
Doreen@believeinarayofhope.com - email
Call me Today! I would love to hear from YOU!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Looking for inspiration after a rather challenging week, I decided to follow up on a lead I had received at a telecommuting conference this week. A Google representative and I chatted about the work we do and discovered that we both write policy for our organizations. He shared a tip that he found useful and encouraged me to try it. I learned that it was a great tool for finding stories on topics of interest via the Internet.
I googled Google Reader as he suggested, located the site, and typed in Abilities with Disabilities, knowing that I am always inspired by stories that highlight innate talents/abilities that help us overcome our challenges/disabilities.
Almost instantly, a wonderful link emerged that led me to the Justice for All (JFA)Blog and the remarkable story of Diana and Kathy. Diana and Kathy have been friends for 42years and living interdependently for most of those years. They met in a sheltered workshop in 1970 and they teamed up to stay out of institutional settings. Kathy who died unexpectedly just last week had severe cerebral palsy and her caretaker of 38 years, Diana, has Down Syndrome. Together, they capitalized on their individual strengths, overcame major obstacles, served one another with love and compassion, and lived fully. They not only stayed out of institutions, but became wonderful advocates and role models for those living with challenges.
Their story warms the heart and spirit and inspires us to live courageously. Read more about them and be inspired to follow the lead of these two courageous souls at this link: http://www.dianaandkathy.com/
The press release about Diana and Kathy and their upcoming movie is found here:
You can view a short clip of their movie which will be shown on PBS in October by clicking on this link, http://dianaandkathy.com/purchase/bstrailer.php
Let me know how you will step out to make a difference this week. How will you reach out to serve another? What strength do you have and how will you use it?
Friday, September 25, 2009
At the same time, you are also feeling a bit overwhelmed and also yearn to get organized, to clear the clutter that has accumulated over the summer and to simplify your life. You and I want to focus on our priorities and to get more done in less time. I am always looking for tools to rejuvenate my drive and fuel my spirit and I am happy to share what I find.
I recently came across a short movie, that got me energized and I believe you will find it helpful, too. It is about a remarkable little book entitled Eat That Frog! and is by Brian Tracy. The book and movie is loaded with unconventional wisdom and tips to stop procrastinating. Enjoy watching and then come back to the blog. I want to share one more tip that has helped me to get in motion!
According to Brian Tracy, author of the book above, only about 3 percent of adults have clear, written goals. He reports that these people accomplish five or ten times as much as people of equal or better education and ability who have never taken the time to write out exactly what they want.
I encourage you therefore to write out your goals and get very clear on what you want to accomplish and then EAT THAT FROG!
What will you do today to get organized, focused and energized?
I added the special emphasis to whether you feel like it or not. It is easy to say these words and harder to implement them. Self discipline is the secret key to success according to Mr. Huxley. He does not mention tapping into your passion or purpose, and yet these elements are key components to success and are foundational. Without passion or purpose, these words are often ignored while we become heavier and heavier and ladened with guilt.
When we combine our passion and purpose and implement these words, we take action, stand out and move forward! People notice, we form habits, and it becomes easier to succeed beyond our initial yearnings. When we are doing what we are "meant to do," and step out of our comfort zone, our actions take on a life of their own and often stepping out can turn out to be exhilarating and very rewarding.
Let me know what you will do today, to step out of your comfort zone, to move forward in pursuit of your passion and purpose, whether you feel like doing it or not, to further your dreams?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
This is a resource for those in VA and provides great information to all, no matter where you live. I was especially impressed with the resources and online training. At this site, you will also find info on Assistive Technology, SOLs, and Upcoming Events. This resource is funded by the Virginia Department of Education.
T/TAC Online provides resources and linkages to help parents, educators and youth with disabilities. T/TAC offices are linked to universities around the commonwealth of Virginia.
To see the Parent/Family category:
1) Go to the website: http://www.ttaconline.org/
2) Click on your region off of the map.
3) Click on one of the tabs labeled: Resources, Events or Online Training.
4) Once on selected page or section, scroll down to "Parents/Family." (left side of page) -- Click on the word, Parents/Family for more information.
I encourage you to take a look and let me know what is most valuable to you and your special ones.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Are You Interested in Focusing Your Efforts on a Meaningful Career?
Are You Looking to Shift Gears and to Try Something New?
If so, these websites can help you to not only explore thousands of possibilities, but will help you find what makes your heart sing. Happy exploring!
This is a great source of occupational information. It contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptions. It allows you to explore and learn about hundreds of occupations. It also contains Career Exploration Tools for individuals looking to find or change careers.
How well do you think you know yourself? Take the quiz at this website and in a few minutes you’ll know the answer. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover something you didn’t know about yourself. Bottom line: You can use the information from Who I Am to help you choose a career.
This site provides many fun exercises to tap into the kinds of activities you enjoy.
The aim of this free site is to assist you in making better career decisions. Do you know what you're looking for? There are several instruments that can provide insight. Two are featured below:
The CDDQ's goal is to locate the focuses of your career decision-making difficulties, and to recommend ways to overcome them. http://kivunim.huji.ac.il/eng-quest/cddq/cddq_main.html
The purpose of PC questionnaire is to explore the extent to which your career-related preferences are crystallized and will help you in becoming aware of what you're looking for in your future career. http://kivunim.huji.ac.il/eng-quest/pce.html
Career Path offers scientifically proven and reliable career tests to help you find your unique career path. Each test is designed by psychologists and utilized by professional counselors and career educators across the world. The variety of career tests offered provide you with a customized tool, depending on where you are on your career path, and what area of your career you are looking to learn more about.
You can expect to experience real career satisfaction when your work allows you to use your best strengths and natural talents. Such work is energizing and enjoyable! Begin by identifying your natural talents and find great jobs that match them at this website.
Practice interviewing for a variety of jobs. Your webcam can help you on this website to gain interviewing confidence.
On this site, you can locate employers. You can use the Employer Locator to find contact information about a specific employer or list of employers. It will be necessary to contact each employer to see if they have job openings available.
Serve.gov is a great resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your community. Use this site to explore your interests and to connect with like-minded individuals. According to the website, "America’s foundation will be built one community at a time – and it starts with you."
Please dig into those websites of interest to you and share your discoveries with me. I look forward to hearing from you!
Friday, September 18, 2009
As a child, I was shy; I doubted my abilities, and in many ways I was an introvert. I hated leaving my mother's side. The first day of school always presented a host of wails and worries from me. I remember crying out in horror in kindergarten, and also in 1st and in 2nd grade as she left me in the care of a new teacher and classmates. My mother worked with me relentlessly, encouraged me to identify my strengths, and to find a friend. She applauded when I took a small step forward, and encouraged me to take another step forward, and yet another. She finally pushed me into the pool of life. Once, I was left to sink or swim, I decided to swim.
When God blessed me with a child with special needs, I decided to stand up, share and soar for both of us, following the example of my mother. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and take action myself. I heard long ago, most likely at my mother's knee, a bit of wisdom, that seems especially relevant. "Never expect anyone to do anything, that you would not be willing to do, yourself." Thus, if I wanted my son to speak up with confidence and respect for human dignity, I had to be willing to speak up myself with both confidence and respect for human dignity. In short, I was called upon to serve as a role model, before I pushed.
As my youngest approaches 18, and is transitioning to the age of majority, I am beginning to push. We all need encouragement and some, like me, need the extra push to soar. As I watched the movie, I looked into the eye of the eagle, and saw my mother. There must of been days when she doubted herself and me, but in the end, she decided that we were both able and worthy. She tapped into her faith in both of us, put God in the driver's seat and pushed. As a result, we both soared.
Enjoy the movie and let me hear from you! What do your children need from you?
Monday, September 14, 2009
What practices do you use to pull yourself up when you face a disapointment?
Who do you turn to?
What skill do you use to bounce back?
When I am disappointed, my first choice for renewal, is always some time spent alone. I have always enjoyed solitude, and find a good book and a journal a wonderful way to collect my thoughts, learn the lesson, and identify next steps.
In the last several years, I have stored meaningful quotes and kept them close at hand and find that they help me to get my bearings when I have been knocked off kilter. Recently, I typed many of my favorite quotations up, cut them into strips, folded each up individually and placed them in a candy jar.
Now, when I am feeling down and out, feeling tired and worn out, I often reach for my "candy jar and a quote." It's almost like a fortune cookie as you never know what will come out next. I am constantly delighted with my "pick." As I savor the candy, I contemplate the quotation and try to figure out how I might apply it to the challenge I am facing. Often wonderful insights emerge.
I recently enjoyed the movie above and the quotations within. In a matter of minutes, I was energized.
Please enjoy the short movie above and let me know what quotations you like the best. Which one has special meaning for you today? When life throws you a curve, what practice will re-energize you?
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Marcia's Dream Note:
Summer is just whizzing by. Don’t miss the opportunity to Dream Time before you have to focus on getting the kids back to school and then (good grief) the holidays. Be sure to do at least a few things that really make you happy, even if it’s just a lazy afternoon lounging in a hammock with a glass of lemonade.
12 Ways to be a 21st Century Visionary
by Marcia Wieder
Over twenty years ago, when I began to write and speak about achieving our dreams, I had a big vision. It was (and still is) to change the way we think and speak about our dreams. Instead of it being a nice idea that you might (someday) explore, a dream is something that matters to you and that you fully intended to achieve.
As expected, life brought the unexpected and with it many challenges. We could justifiably look at the economy, the lack of heath care, war, education and many other areas and declare that this is no time to dream. Many would say it’s a time to focus more on what is, than on our dreams.
And yet, without our dreams, and this new definition of dreams, nothing changes. Since living in unusual times requires that we think, act and are different, here is my call to action.
I invite you step up and out as a 21st Century Visionary. A visionary has a big dream, shares it, and inspires others to join them. Here are additional qualities for you to consider.
A 21st Century Visionary:
1. Is comfortable with uncertainty, the place where true creation occurs. He or she knows we were created to create and allows the time and space for this to occur.
2. Has extraordinary faith. They are able to act on what’s important to them even without assurance and guarantees. They can walk on faith without knowing the strategy or even clear next steps.
3. Knows that the secret to enlightenment is to relax. As we relax, our ego (with its agenda, fears and doubts) can slip away and we are left with our essential self, essence or soul.
4. Practices getting empty, so they can hear the voice of the Divine and/or feel this presence. They often create ritual and sacred space as way to invite this in.
5. Can consciously drop into a deeper place of wisdom, knowing and truth and can ideate/dream, and speak from this place.
6. Is aware that miracles happen in their own time and is able to wait rather than asserting his or her will or effort too soon. They trust the process enough to let it unfold.
7. Is receptive and knows that “give and take” is not the same as “give and receive” and that giving and receiving need to be done in balance. They practice restraint, allowing space for the space where true creation and original thought happen.
8. Does not live primarily as a problem solver, but more as a creative force. They are aware that it is more powerful to move toward what you want than away from what you don’t want, yet they know that both creation and destruction serve.
9. Has a conscious relationship with the silent witness, the part that can see many points of view, all sides and new perspectives. They are big dreamers with great imagination and willing to traverse new terrain.
10. Is collaborative rather than hierarchal. They have the courage, clarity and commitment to share dreams and ideas and empower others to take ownership.
11. Is crucial to the Dream Movement's ultimate dream, which is to make the world a better place. They know that with one single highly intentional step, the world can and has changed.
12. Has tremendous integrity. Beyond keeping their agreements with themselves and others, they answer to a higher Source. They usually have a purpose, mission, vision, calling and dreams in many areas of life.
Here is mine. My purpose is to believe. My mission is to help others believe in themselves and their dreams. My vision is to lead a Dream Movement in order to make the world a better place. My calling is to help us remember who we are and why we’re here.
What’s your purpose, mission, vision or calling? How are you living as a 21st Century Visionary? What qualities or values would you add to this list?
I hope you find Marcia's article inspirational and will respond to her questions before the summer ends. It is good to get our ideas out of our heads and onto paper! On a related note, it's also good for the soul to reconnect with our friends and fellow travelers. Enjoy the short movie.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Once you have figured out who you are at your core, identified the authentic self with your talents and quirks, you can count on your dreams to help you go beyond your reality and to address how you want your life to be.
In your dreams, you are invited to turn inward and to listen to the whispers of your soul. Listen to the small voice within you and learn what you truly desire. Is it to get a new job, to go on vacation, or to gain support for a loved one? What ever it is, no matter how big or how small, it is something that you long for...
If we listen intently, we can hear those fond hopes and desires emanating from our purpose and our unique talents. When we have identified our dream and determined that we are passionate about achieving it, we can then begin to remove obstacles, limiting beliefs and take small steps forward to make it happen!
Our job is not to ask How; Our job is to say Yes! Our job is stay open, receptive, and to nourish our passion. Our job is to stay in motion, to recommit to our positive core belief, to take daily action and to share our dream with others on the journey.
Marcia Wieder, gifted author and coach, inspired me with many stories and helped me to find my dream and to move forward on my transition. I encourage you to check back tomorrow when I share a moving book that keeps me going when I am feeling temporarily discouraged.
Monday, August 24, 2009
One thing that has helped me in making these decisions and in keeping me in motion is the work I have done to connect with my joy and purpose. When given an opportunity to decide what I will do with my time, I focus on my purpose and what brings me joy, and then I can often decide between my options and how to confront the challenges before me. I enjoy laughing and when I share a laugh with a friend, I feel reenergized and ready to tackle the knotty problem.
Finding my purpose, and letting it help me in making decisions, has proven to be a good time management tool for me, too. I always get more done when I enjoy what I am doing and my purpose helps me to make choices that are right for me. This morning, I was faced with a countless emails. After connecting with my purpose, of giving voice to unspoken dreams, I was able to respond to those work-life issues confronting me and able to speak from my heart.
When we connect with our purpose, we reignite our flame and build the fire within. When I am focusing on bringing more joy into my life, I serve as a good example and my enthusiasm serves to encourage others to make time for their own joyful activities. I returned my telephone calls, with a smile on my face and my interactions were positive.
When I am living on purpose, my sense of humor returns, daily annoyances seem smaller and my perspective and attitude improve. I thank God for helping me to find my purpose and for connecting me with my passion which is intertwined with it.
Many people believe that their purpose is bigger than life and this can be intimidating. Marcia Wieder, my teacher and coach, suggested that our purpose may simply help us to define who we are are and what we are passionate about being. We can turn inward, focus on our heart, listen to our truth, and let our passion guide us into purposeful action.
It seems to me that once we connect with our essence, our uniqueness, and determine what matters to us, we can then begin to connect with our purpose and give voice to our reason for being. I encourage you to make your purpose broad so that it can support many dreams and still leave room for passion.
Standing in your purpose, your dreams often emerge from this foundation. When you know who you are, what is important to you, and what brings you joy, you are perfectly positioned to create a dream that you are passionate about. Marcia has said that the dream that is most important to you and most tied to your purpose will have the greatest chance of becoming a reality. I believe this to be true! How about you?
What is your dream and how will you move forward to make it happen? Perhaps, finding your joy and bringing more of it into your life, should be your first step...
May you have pleasant dreams and blissful sleep tonight!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
My fellow travelers and I have been examining our dreams, values, and purpose. Today's lesson focused on our beliefs and attitudes. As I was searching for words of wisdom that might help us on our path, I came upon this inspiring movie.
I believe that this movie will help us to move forward. Click the link above and let me know if this inspires you to take action in the direction of your dreams.
Friday, August 21, 2009
If you are like me and many other parents, you will be saying good bye to your teens this month. College has begun for many already. I dropped off my daughter at her dorm a week ago and in the week since, I have found myself reflecting on how fast the years have flown by. It seems like only yesterday, that she was a small toddler. Now, she is 6.5 hours away and deciding when to get up, when to go to bed, and what to do with the hours in between! I do hope she is finding time for her classes....
When a day goes by without a telephone call, I wonder:
Have I prepared her? Have I sheltered her too much? Will she be able to make it without daily reminders from her Dad and I? Will she steer away from dangerous situations? Will she speak up for herself and get answers to her questions. Will she find supportive friends and teachers to walk with her on this new path?
You may remember, incidents from your own years of transition and fear that your own teen will make similar or worse mistakes. You may wish to turn back the clock and regain the control you once had. This wish can not be granted, this moment is no longer in the distant future. It is here! I realize that I can choose to use my imagination to support or diminish my peace of mind. Rather than play out the worst case scenarios in my mind, I look up to the clouds above and affirm:
1. I release control, let go of my negative beliefs and see new possibilities for me and my teen.
2. My nurturing skills soothe my soul and spirit.
3. I laugh every day and connect with my teen in new ways.
4. I find a perfect place to relax and enjoy moments of solitude every day.
5. I enjoy a new sight every day.
6. I rejoice in pleasant memories shared with my teen.
7. I am talented, skilled and appreciated for my past and present efforts.
Affirmations can help you and me as we confront new terrain without those wild and wonderful teens who grew up so fast. Without those who have traveled with us in the past, we may find ourselves focusing on our fears which doesn't help our children, our spouses or ourselves. In fact, our thoughts influence our emotions and lives significantly. At this time of transition, we must remember that our thoughts and beliefs can be changed in an instant. Knowing that fear drains us while joy energizes us, we must seek to change limiting beliefs to empowering beliefs and follow up with action.
Wayne Dyer reminds us the fastest way to get from fear to love is through compassion. It is in reaching out to another and offering a helping hand without expecting anything in return that we experience love and joy and leave fear behind.
- How can you get past your fear to love?
- What beliefs and affirmations will support you and your teen on this new path where you are no longer traveling hand and hand?
- What act of compassion or act of kindness will you extend and to who?
The choice is yours. You are in control and I encourage you use your imagination and to create affirmations that empower you and those you love. The time to has come to see you and your children rejoicing and celebrating lessons learned and eagerly embracing new adventures!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Reading these words, I see and hear another side of Michael Jackson. As he passed, I learned more about the children he left behind and more about those who loved him. A softer, kinder, more tender Michael emerged as he died. He is no longer just "Wacko, Jacko."
He had thoughtful and lofty ideas to share and now he is gone, but his words, work and legacy live on. His persona was often portrayed as troubled, he did outlandish things, and he was not completely understood or appreciated. Reading the headlines, I noted that his 11-year old daughter was moved to say, "I loved him so much. "
As we approach the second half of the 2009, I have been reflecting on my hopes, my blessings, my dreams, and my beliefs. I am filled with a greater sense of urgency. I wonder how can I make the next 6 months matter? How can I put my hopes, dreams, and beliefs into action and bring comfort to not only me but to my community?
I have decided to focus my energy on creating another workshop for Parents and Educators- this one will be entitled, "H" to the 4th Power. In this workshop, I will connect participants to their own hopes, hearts, heads, and hands and encourage them to tackle their challenges with renewed vigor and passion. I will prod, pull and provoke them until I hear their unspoken dreams clearly.
I intend to ask participants: What are you hoping for? Who are you comforting? What are you dreaming of? What are you choosing to believe? What action are you taking to leave a lasting legacy? What words do you say and what words will be remembered, when you are no longer here?
Friday, July 10, 2009
At home, I was met with an angry mother and my attempts to share my concerns and gain her support failed. As my daughter struggles to gain her independence and freedom, I worry about her fate. She is worried about hurting her boyfriend, worried about his anger, and wants the 30 to 40 texts she receives daily to be limited. Meanwhile, the texts continue....
As she shares her desire to breathe, to step back, his clutch becomes tighter and his pleas louder. She is finished talking to me and does not seem to be overly concerned. He is learning to text "less." Breaking up is hard to do and transitions are difficult. Meanwhile, I listen to stories of obsessive lovers and fear that her desire to spread her wings will be stifled by a "friend" who can not get enough of her. I share my concerns with her and vow to myself to reach out to a counselor. Getting her out of the area gives me reason to celebrate. Getting support from loved ones is crucial in times of transition.
Remaining here, I hear stange noises, start to fret and worry about the consequences of my actions. I fear the ramifications of confronting the controlling behavior and yet I know that these ties will limit her growth and development. After listening to the concerns and worries of friends and relatives for her safety and for my own, I decide to turn inward and seek guidance. In my quiet solitude, I hear, "Let Go, Let God." Knowing that I have done everything I can, I decide do just that. I Let Go and Let God.
I slept and woke up refreshed. I called the counselor with firm resolve and my daughter is now getting objective counsel and help. I remind myself again and again to continue to reach out for support, to tap into my inner resources and to Let Go, and Let God.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
As we move forward, taking action each day, our lives are transformed. Decisions on transitions deserve our attention and energy. As a parent, my emotions have soared high and low as I have contemplated life with my two oldest living several hours away from us. This is a major transition and it can be a difficult transition for your son or daughter and for you as well.
As parents, we have helped our children to receive the resources and supports that he or she has needed and now as they get ready for this transition, we must step back and let our youth step forward. Services are no longer spelled out in Individualized Education Plan and we must depend our teens to voice their needs, share their strengths, and get the supports that they need.
“Going to College” http://www.going-to-college.org/ has proven to be a great online resource in our house. It is designed for teens with disabilities and helps them to prepare for it. I have used it myself and it has given me much food for thought. I have sat next to my daughter and we have learned together what helps to make college life successful for those with learning differences.
What I like about “Going to College” is that you hear the voices and stories of college students with disabilities. My adults- in- training are much more interested in listening to the advice of other students then they are in listening to me. They view these students as experts. After all, they have gone to college with a disability and they know what it is like.
“Going to College” is divided into three major themes: My Place, Campus Life, and Planning for College. In going through the material, your young adult will be encouraged to apply lessons learned, to respond to questions and to watch associated videos and podcasts. You and your teen will be engaged and will be encouraged to think about upcoming transitions and whether college is the next step on your journey.
Many of these thought provoking activities provide useful information that can fuel self assessment and lead to powerful discussions at IEP meetings in high school. These exercises can be added to an online portfolio that can be used while visiting colleges and talking with college personnel or taking other action steps forward.
For more Tools to Fuel Your Journey, visit my Website at http://believeinarayofhope.com/
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I hear her and understand, she is very anxious to say goodbye to high school, to her early morning classes, and to senior projects! She wants this high speed race to the finish line to be over. She seems to be gasping for air...while dreaming of easier, more relaxed and fun-filled days of summer! She yearns to sleep in late, to roll over and to reflect on the life she is leaving behind and to just be. She wants to just Be!
I empathize, as I too have been racing to complete projects, planning for celebrations and preparing for the upcoming transitions. I have been juggling many balls, shiftng my direction and focus daily and I am nearing exhaustion. I too, have wanted to shout, I AM SO DONE!
We all need a vacation and June 19th will come none too soon for me! Knowing that the end is near, I am pausing for a moment to catch my breath and relishing thoughts that bring me joy and hope. The day after graduation, our family will be heading to the beach and life will slow down for at least a week. We will all breathe easier.
Right now, I am slowing down, and I will soon be heading upstairs for a relaxing bubble bath. While I can not quit now, I can entertain the following thoughts that refuel my soul and spirit.
I envision a sunny day at the beach and suddenly I am transported to another time and place. I am sitting in a lounge chair, close to the water's edge, listening to the crashing waves, and reflecting on my many blessings. I clearly see myself awakening refreshed and renewed the next morning. As the sun rises, I am jounaling and I plot more days of delight! I acknowledge accomplishments and move forward only after I have savored the victories and reviewed the lessons learned in failures. I let it all soak in and simply enjoy my moments in the sun.
While the day at the beach is only in my imagination at this point, my thoughts have recharged my spirit. It helps me get up and gives me hope. Yes, the days ahead will be busy, hectic and demanding and I know I will continue to move forward.
How do you recharge? What do you do to refuel when you feel like yelling, I Am So Done? What will you do today to re-energize you?
I urge you to seize moments of relaxation, to seize moments of reflection and to seize and savor your accomplishments and the lessons you have learned along the way. In so doing, you will be refreshed and ready to get out of the I AM SO DONE pot hole and on to new adventures!
Monday, May 25, 2009
On stage, Susan is comfortable with herself and audiences around the world are taking notice. Her performance makes us all cheer. We stand up and applaud her authenticity. As we applaud her, we are given a message.... Appearances do not tell the whole story. What makes Susan so endearing? She is open, frumpy and immensely talented. She does not make excuses for her appearance or life. She shows up and dazzles us with her powerful voice.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The story below, was sent to me my Dad via e-mail. He is my own Ray of Hope and constantly makes me laugh. He also makes me think more about how laughter refreshes me and how it is instrumental to my success. To be successful, I am reminded...not to take myself too seriously!!
Grandma is eighty-eight years old and still drives her own car. She writes:
The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a 'Honk if you love Jesus' bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from athrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.
Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed. I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost inthought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.
I found that lots of people love Jesus! While I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy,and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, 'For the love ofGod!' 'Go! Go! Go! Jesus Christ, GO!' What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all thoseloving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!
There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach. I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle fingerstuck up in the air. I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant. He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii , so I leaned out the windowand gave him the good luck sign right back.
My grandson burst out laughing. Why even he was enjoying this religious experience!! A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment thatthey got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this iswhen I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove onthrough the intersection.
I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersectionbefore the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leavethem after all the love we had shared. So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!!
Will write again soon,
In thinking about your dreams, have you encountered roadblock and obstacles? Do you hear a doubting voice inside of you that tells you, "You don't have the time or energy to move in the direction of your dreams." This is simply a limiting belief that requires a change in perspective.
Did you know, that you have the power to change your limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs? Did you know that you can change your mind and that you can move forward, like Grandma in the preceding story?
You can change that limiting belief in an instant. You could choose to say, "I do have lots of energy in the morning. My battery has been recharged with sleep. I paused to read a funny story and I am refreshed. "
With this fresh perspective, and new empowering belief, I will get into my car tomorrow morning, take action and step on the gas pedal! It is never to late to begin to have fun, just like Grandma!
Monday, May 11, 2009
I have also asked you to envision and to imagine the life you would like to live once you clear the mountain and get to your desired destination. For the last week, I have been encouraging you to go on a passion/vision quest, to remember events and times in your life when you have been felt satisfied, successful, appreciated and valued.
I have had you focus on what you love and asked you to schedule more joy and pleasure into each day. I have asked you to live more purposefully, to avoid scheduling activities when your heart directs you elsewhere. I have given you exercises to help you live on purpose while doing things that matter to you. I have told you that I want you to avoid meaningless activities that zap your energy. I have told you that the time of our departure is near and there is no longer time to waste. Life is too short and too precious to simply go through the motions.
I have also asked you tap into your emotions and to light the fire inside of you to identify your purpose and passion. I have asked and... You have responded with your essence and your values. You have a greater understanding of what gives you joy and what you were "born to do. " You have unearthed your buried dreams and yet they are still dusty and your next step is unclear.
Your head is full of lofty visions but you wonder, what will I do next. How will you gain clarity, focus and direction while aligning your dreams with your purpose and moving toward your desired transition? As your guide, I highly recommend that you begin journaling to capture your visions, your thoughts and your insights. I believe that getting those ideas out of your head and onto paper, brings clarity for navigating the road.
You can read these writen pages when you become flustered and confused and they can provide stability. You will learn to trust yourself in the process of journaling. You will give voice to your fears, your dreams and your anxieties. Having a place to store them, they need not weigh you down. These journal notes can become your roadmap and can ground you when you stumble and come upon a roadblock.
I use my journal to explore new vistas before I venture forward. Before stepping out, I take time to reflect backwards on where I have been, what I have learned, what I have accomplished. Before devising a plan, I share my fears and worries. As I write, I seek internal guidance from my knowing source to give me focus and direction. I listen and I write for approximately 30 minutes. During this time, I vent, I fume, I forgive, share appreciation, give thanks and before I know it, I feel energized and ready to move forward.
What will you do to gain clarity, focus and direction on your journey?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I never heard of it before yesterday, yet it is right across the river from the Statue of Liberty. It did not spring up overnight, but somehow I never saw it or recognized this wonderful act of caring. It makes me wonder how many other special gifts and tributes have gone unnoticed and unappreciated. Far too many, I am afraid.
In my busy world, I have often neglected to recognize friends or share my appreciation for those who have impacted my life in a special way. Today, I am sharing my appreciation for this memorial. Further, I am pausing and taking note of the Russian people who showed us compassion at a very trying time in our nation's history.
I am also going to reach out to my special Ukrainian friend who was raised in Bayonne and has been there for me when I faced trials and tribulations. She was there when I faced the loss of my mother and was a steady presence when I faced the challenges of adoption. She has positively impacted my life, made many days special, and today is a day that I will acknowledge her as well. I am going to recognize her for being a very special friend to me. I am also planning to acknowledge her for being a wonderful mother and educator as well. She has found a way to balance all these roles simultaneously and deserves recognition.
I bet you have people in your life too, that deserve praise and recognition. Who has been there for you over the years? Have you paused to recognize them, lately? Perhaps, today is a good day to remember; to remember those who have positively impacted your life.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
A few minutes later, I learn the horrible truth. I have provoked it. Not consciously, but nonetheless, I have sent her mixed messages and this is the result. She tells me she is tired of the double standard in our house. She says, "You constantly let Robert get away with disrespectful behavior and I'm entitled to vent my frustrations too!"
Upon reflection, I can definitely see her point of view. For far too long, I have excused his rude behavior. While feeling sorry for him and his learning challenges at school, I have chosen to ignore his snide remarks, while preaching that I valued respect. By turning my back and not naming the inappropriate behavior, I have been sending mixed messages to both my daughter and son and saying in my inaction that I condone this disrespect. Seeing the behavior go unnamed, with no serious consequences, it had become contagious in our home. Wow, what an AHA moment I got! While I truly intend to right my wrong, and change my behavior in this regard, I see an opportunity to make the point stick.
I will share this lesson with my visioning group and show that we are all works in progress! I had planned to talk to the participants about integrity and how it is very important to honor our agreements with ourselves and others if we want to live the lives that we dream of. I was planning to connect integrity with visioning. Now, I would be able to talk about integrity on a whole new level and with an added dimension.
You might be wondering, "What does integrity have to do with effective visioning and relationships?" I respond, "Integrity is an essential tool that often makes or breaks our dreams and relationships. When we act with integrity, we send out clear messages, we honor the truth within and our actions mirror our values. When we live up to our promises, we feel more deserving and become more receptive to the abundance we desire. We can look in the mirror, see ourselves and feel confident. "
Others want to work with us, because they know where we stand and can depend on us to do what we promise. Living your life with integrity brings you peace of mind and sound sleep patterns. As a result, you will have more energy and clear focus when you wake up the next day. With energy and focus, you can march at a steady pace in the direction of your visions.
What I have come to know without a shadow of a doubt, is that when I have not honored my commitments and my actions have been out of sync with my values, I have felt restless, stuck, and have been unable to make significant progress on my dreams. At such times, my mind wanders back to unresolved issues. I try to make excuses for not doing what I promised to do and try to put it out of mind, only to have it resurface moments later. To move forward, I find that I must resolve the issue and "finish the unfinished business."
Living in integrity, means that you say “no” when a friend calls to invite you to an event that is not appealing to you. Before saying yes, you insure that the activity rates high on your internal "passion scale." You actively seek to reduce the activities that fill your days, but not your heart. You eliminate unnecessary activities to make space for new interests. You avoid making casual promises that you later regret. When we do these things, we feel worthy, our self esteem improves and we develop trust in ourselves and others know what is important to us.
To be truly in integrity, it is not enough to honor agreements we make with others and ourselves, we must also honor our values and demonstrate this honor in our words and actions. We cannot turn our heads and look the other way when we see or witness harm being done or our children acting out in disrespect.
If you value respect like I do, you must confront the misdeed immediately and let the person who has offended you know that disrespect is not tolerated and that it has negative consequences in building relationships at home, school and work. If you just shrug it off like I did, you will send out a message that these remarks are acceptable and they will escalate in intensity and regularity, taking more of your time and energy away from your vision.
I encourage you to learn from my mistakes. Integrity is an essential tool for building relationships and dreams. With integrity, you are steady, your messages are clear and your focus is undeniable. With this intensity, your dreams are closer than you can imagine. Clarity comes next.
Are you ready to get clarity and move closer to your vision?
Monday, April 20, 2009
This reading garden sprung to life when Sandra gave voice to her vision and followed up with a letter of intention at the beginning of her senior year. She got into action, did research at the library, asked for advice and help, visited hardware stores, secured permission and approval and then put the plans aside expecting to get it done before graduation.
As spring time beckoned, other priorities competed for her time. Sandra was tempted to toss the reading garden idea off, say that she was too busy with school work and just hang out with friends. She wanted nothing more than to plan for the prom and graduation, yet her integrity kicked in and triumphed. She decided to follow up and fulfill the promise she made at the beginning of the school year when graduation seemed far away. She gathered us all together, explained her plan and we were assigned duties.
My husband, his brother and several friends worked with us to build the benches according to the plans she had found on the internet. While the younger guys, were digging post holes for the benches we built, I distributed snacks, drinks and took pictures. Sandra drilled holes and became quite proficient with the electric screwdriver. When the benches were all assembled, we sanded them and made quite a dusty mess in the garage. The work was not done however as the benches now had to be cemented into the ground. It was hard work and well worth the effort. At the end of the day, I checked off one task on my unfulfilled promise list and I felt good and so did Sandra! One less thing to weigh me (us) down.
With this success behind us, I felt free to reflect and envision Sandra's upcoming transition and my hopes and dreams for her. She will be heading for college on August 14th and she will be 7 hours away from us at UVA Wise. I hope she will remember this day and how good it felt to complete what she had promised to do. I hope she will remember how intention, integrity, and her imagination helped her to achieve her vision.
I hope she will remember her success and remember that she did not succeed alone. I hope she will remember to acknowledge those who helped her to realize her vision. I hope she will find time to help those who need support and an exta hand. In the years to come, I hope she will continue to share her dreams with others and to gain from their support and encouragement. I hope she will continue to imagine bigger projects and more fun filled days that are both recognized and celebrated.
Looking now at my hopes and dreams for my daughter, I realize that these are my hopes and dreams for me too!
What are your hopes and dreams? How you can you put your intentions, integrity and imagination to work for you?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Just two weeks ago, snow covered the ground and we wondered if spring would ever arrive. It's amazing how time flies and how our reality shifts everyday. Seeing the daffodils blooming and thinking of our friend in the hospital for another three weeks, makes my heart ache. By the time Ashley emerges from the hospital, the blooms on these daffodils will be withered and long past their prime. It is a gentle reminder, that we must enjoy the beauty around us today and cherish the special moments we share with those who are dear to us.
While Ashley will not see the daffodils blooming this year, she can still count her blessings. She can relish the sight of her smiling visitors, the gurgles of her baby who visits often and enjoy the love of her husband who spends most nights on a small sofa beside her hospital bed. She can use this time to get well and to relax knowing that her family is caring for her baby. She can rest, nourish her body and envision a brighter tomorrow. She can plot the actions she will take when the chemo treatment is over and see herself walking out of the hospital. She can see in her mind's eye, the time ahead when she can again frolick in the ocean, with her darling little girl.
We, like Ashley, are encouraged to enjoy the beauty around us and to make time for dreaming. We are also encouraged to take action on our visions because before we know it, our moments on earth will end. Please take a few moments to read the following story and then begin working on your dream tomorrow. We must remember, time waits for no one, but the little actions we take each day add up and will be remembered.
THE DAFFODIL PRINCIPLE - Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!" My daughter smiled calmly and said," We drive in this all the time, Mother."
"Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her. " I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car. "How far will we have to drive?" "Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this." After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't the way to the garage!" "We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils." "Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around." "It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience." After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden". We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped.
Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns - great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn. "It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" was the headline.
The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "one at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958." There it was. The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than thirty-five years before, had begun - one bulb at a time - to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top.
Just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time - often just one baby-step at a time - and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.
"It makes me sad in a way," I admitted to Carolyn. "What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!" My daughter summed up the message of the day in her direct way. "Start tomorrow," she said.
After reading the stories above, I wonder, what path will you follow? Are you more committed to your dream or your reality? What baby steps can you take to show you are taking action and walking toward your vision?
Saturday, March 14, 2009
This workshop was well attended and each of the students became fully and openly engaged. Utilizing resources from the Able Trust, the instructor created a two page timeline for the students. The timeline began in the 18th century and ended with the passage of the 2008 bill that will lead to the teaching of the disability rights movement to Florida students.
The workshop began with a discussion of previous rights movements in the United States. Many of the students could identify with the African Americans Rights Movement and the Women’s Rights Movement, but none of the students had heard of the Disability Rights Movement. Many expressed surprise when they discovered that events connected with the Disability Rights Movement began only a few decades ago.
While reviewing the time line, the group discussed eugenics, ugly laws, ADA , and improvements in telecommunications. A lively discussion ensued as everyone shared their opinions on the information. Asthe students discussed their thoughts, the instructor, handed out pictures of famous individuals, including celebrities, artists, scientists, and politicians who had lived and prospered with a disability. The students were encouraged to identify the person in the picture and to identify what the individual was known for and to learn about his/her disAbility.
As they worked with the pictures, exclamations of surprise were heard around the room. The students were clearly impressed as they learned about the person in each picture and how each had lived amazing lives with their disAbilities.
As a consequence of these revelations, many of the students began to disclose their own disAbilities. For example, one HS/HT student disclosed her specific learning disAbility in reading after she learned that Marilyn Monroe stuttered.
Another HS/HT student revealed his own learning disability after he identified and learned about the lives of Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein. After, learning about Troy Aikman's club foot another HS/HT student (an avid football player), was empowered to begin speaking about his own disAbility.
The most powerful moment of the workshop came about when the students learned that actor Dan Aykroyd had Asperger’s Syndrome. Unknown to most of the HS/HT students at that time, one of the students also has Asperger’s Syndrome. Throughout the activity, she had grown more and more excited as she discovered many creative individuals such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh had learning disabilities with possible autism.
After hearing that Dan Aykroyd also had Asperger’s Syndrome, she shared her Asperger’s and spent nearly five minutes describing it to her peers and answering their questions. She revealed that for the first time, she was not ashamed of having Asperger’s Syndrome and was proud to be in the same category as Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh.
The workshop ended shortly after she spoke about her disAbility but many connections and conversations continue. Several days later, the students were still discussing the time line. The students continue to ask questions and it is clear that the workshop has brought these students closer to one another. Rather than breaking off into small little groups, all continue to cluster together, talking and laughing in a manner that had not been witnessed before. They have become empowered and know that they too can overcome their challenges and can claim their strengths and talents.
What actions can we take today to empower our students with disAbilities? If you wish to learn more about the High School/High Tech curriculum in Florida or to get the time line and stories of successful individuals with disAbilities, please contact Donna Mundy, Florida HS/HT Director, at Flhsht@aol.com.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
He then used his shaver to add a few more distinctive circles to the top of his head. He arrived back in my room to show me his handiwork. Somehow, I was successful in keeping my composure....amazing to myself as he was truly looking "unique." While I did not like his crazy hair cut, I decided to relax, to calm myself with a hot bubble bath and to affirm his right to his unique style.
As I soaked, I let go of my anger and my need for control. I got over my frustration and my own embarrassment and decided that I would not diminish him for his harmless exploration of a new look. I decided that I would not ask him why he had decided to do this now and in this way. I decided that his actions were not worth ranting about and I decided that his actions did not reflect badly on me as a parent. Instead, his actions, revealed his own creativity. Asking him why would not serve a purpose. Instead, I simply got out of the tub, put on my pajamas and watched a favorite TV show and waited for his return.
He came back into my room with a cap on, reluctant to reveal what was underneath. As it turned out, he did not like the look either and he decided to shave it all off. Unfortunately, he did not have the right equipment, and it was clearly evident that his hair cut was done by an amateur. He told me, “Mom, I am bald and I do not know what the kids and teachers will say. I will wear a cap to school.” Knowing that caps and hats were not allowed, I told him to be prepared to go into the school without it. I kept my fears to myself, knowing that he would have to live with the consequences of his creativity.
Before, he went to bed, I said, "Robert, with or without hair you are still Robert and I love you." Much to my surprise, he said very clearly in his deep 17 year old voice, "I love you too!" This is not a comment that I hear very often from him and was a big improvement over his typical response of "Whatever!"
It occurred to me later in the evening that the “hair challenge” had brought us closer together and that our relationship had become stronger as a result of this trial. I had made a conscious decision to approach his actions with unconditional love, to applaud his daring action, to appreciate his sense of adventure and to reaffirm his right to claim his unique style and it had paid off.
I was nonetheless worried about the upcoming day. How would his "new look" be received at his school, by his teachers and his peers? I quickly wrote a note to his teacher and to his counselor to prepare them for the sight of the "new" Robert and I prayed for the best.
Much to my delight, Robert had a great day. According to the teacher report, it was one of his best! He participated fully, was engaged and walked around without a cap. He was bald, confident, had fun, laughed at the “Grandpa” jokes and connected with others in positive ways. Looking back, I believe that his positive day was an outgrowth of our positive interaction the night before.
I am reminded that our words are powerful and that we are given opportunities every day to positively impact the lives of others. Today, I am grateful; I was able to keep my composure and to express unconditional love in a challenging situation. I thank my father for teaching me to love unconditionally and for weathering the challenges of my youth when I also made some questionable decisions.
I came across a quote by Ben Stein that seems especially relevant, “Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.”
What relationship will you nurture today? What challenge will you face and how will you respond? Who will you hug? Who will hear....I love you from you?
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Sometimes, we need a boost of inspiration; Sometimes, we must hear good news from a national leader; Sometimes, we have to be reminded of the generosity of our neighbors; and Sometimes, we need to remember when we have experienced unexpected surprises and enjoyed exuberant victory against all odds!
On this wonderful Sunday morning, I want you to enjoy this wonderful video highlighting the challenges and triumphs of an extra special kid and the community that supports him and his family. Our kids with challenges do not quit, parents do not quit and our communities thrive with inclusiveness! "Remember, Wisdom begins with Wonder and Dreams begin with Desire," Doreen G. Fulton
Click on the link, view the 3 Point Kid, and Cheer with me! We are America!
Please share other inspiring videos with me!
Monday, March 2, 2009
As a parent of children with learning disabilities, I am seeking positive adult outcomes and I am wondering how I can nurture social competence and success attributes while I still have them under my roof. How can I help them to help others? In today's world, I see people struggling all around me and I am wondering what I can do to make the world a kinder, more caring place for my children.
When I listen to the small voice within, the message is clear. I must be a positive role model. If I want to make the world a better place, I have to look at the woman in the mirror and begin with myself. Rather than tell them over and over... to be kind..., to treat others with dignity and respect..., I must show them in my actions what it means to care for others.
I invite you to view the video below and see what this community did when they saw their colleagues in danger of loosing their jobs. Their generosity helped to keep teachers in their jobs despite the terrible economy and slashed budgets. They put their heads together and collaborated and their collective action made a difference. Their actions inspire me to do likewise and to pay it forward for the benefit of my community and my children. I am reminded, we are all connected.
Enjoy the video and let me know how you will pay it forward.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This was certainly the case with Susan, a mom who had a job that no longer interested or excited her. She did not feel valued and yet she had a hard time leaving because she had competing priorities and fears. Her teens were facing their own transitions, working hard with learning challenges and Susan was torn between meeting her own needs and the needs of her family.
Seeing her predicament, I offered her the same well designed and highly acclaimed visioning program that I had been taught to jumpstart my own dreams. I had been drawn to Susan because I remembered myself being very much like her. She was a mom, clearly struggling, and looking for another job while feeling stuck. On the positive side, she was eager to investigate new possibilities, had a strong work ethic and creative talent.
She knew she was no longer content with her job. Her husband suggested that she to go back to school to hone her computer skills with hopes that she would land an office job somewhere. She was less than enthusiastic about returning to school to learn the Microsoft Office Suite and she was worried about her family. She was seeking work-life balance and looking for work that would provide self satisfaction. She yearned to find another job that would be satisfying and yet keep her close to home.
Over a period of ten weeks, Susan and I worked together and she faithfully did all of the exercises in each module designed to crystallize her interests, values, and purpose in life. She was approaching the latter part of her work life and could no longer afford to waste her time or energy. In the visioning course, she identified her passion for art and decided to pursue artistic endeavors. As she found ways to incorporate art into her daily routine, I saw her enthusiasm mount, her energy improve, and her confidence emerge. She discovered many opportunities and took action to learn more about many of them.
She excitedly called me one afternoon, “Doreen, I have found a job teaching art through the recreation program. I will be able to design my own work schedule, teach in local elementary schools near my home and they will pay me twice as much as my old job! "
A couple of weeks later, Susan noticed an ad about a new Art Gallery that was opening up. She attended the meeting to learn more and brought her oldest son with her, knowing that he too enjoyed creative gatherings. The new Gallery opening inspired them both to create artistic projects. They worked side by side and shared their art with new enthusiastic energy. Within a month, Susan's son had placed his work in the Gallery and found a new job also.
He is very thrilled with his new livelihood and is taking art classes at a local college to further enhance his knowledge and skills. He is much happier and now realizes that he is most successful when he is pursuing his innate interests and talents.
If Susan had not pursued her passion, I doubt that her son would have pursued his. She served as a great role model. The visioning course gave her permission to explore interests, values, and to connect to her family in new ways. Today, she has more energy and vitality than ever and her family sees new possibilities for themselves too.
According to Marianne Williamson, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?" Actually, who are you NOT to be? As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Frederick Buechner reminds us that we are all connected and says, "The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt."
Susan showed courage, perseverance and her loved ones emulated her. When we decide it is our right and responsibility to light our path, others notice and they will often decide to take action too. When a son or a daughter says, “If Mom can do it, so can I," watch out, there is happiness and self satisfaction around the corner.
In closing, I will ask again… What is holding you hostage or keeping you stuck? Do you want your child to follow in your footsteps? Are you ready to emulate Susan and to commit to finding your passion, love, and purpose?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I can imagine how good he must feel to have this commitment finally complete. It must give him much personal satisfaction as he proudly annouced his upcoming graduation on February 7, 2009, at a halftime ceremony honoring his induction into the College Hall of Fame at the UCLA-Notre Dame basketball game.
Living a life with integrity, doing what you say will do, allows one to sleep well at night. I imagine Troy is sleeping better than ever these days!
Do you have unfinished business? What promises have you made and not kept? Do these old promises weigh you down? If old promises are weighing you down, what steps can you take to either fulfill the promise or discard it. If it is no longer meaningful, how can you bring it to closure and move forward with ease? Will it take you 20 years to fulfill your promise or are you willing to begin taking action today?