A City called Now

As I continue cleaning out my bookshelves I’m finding more old musings and short stories.  This one could be better but I like the concept so I’m typing it for safe-keeping 🙂

A City Called Now

You’re standing in a train station. The station is beautiful. There are intricate tapestries and many statues and gilded fixtures.

The single track that runs through the station is the only way in or out of this great city.

This city is called Now. The weather is variable – some days sunny, some days rainy. There are many roads and buildings to explore.

One way down the train tracks is the town of Old Now. It is deserted and desolate. The yards are overgrown and the buildings are boarded up and crumbling. The only remaining residents of Old Now are the hobgoblins in neighborhoods with names like What-If-Land and Regretville. Tourists who visit too long on Memory Lane risk being held hostage and never returning to Now.

Going the other way along the track takes you to New Now. This city hasn’t been built yet. There are no neighborhoods, no buildings, and only a few street signs labeled “Maybe Street” or “I Wish Lane”. Visitors here spend their time thinking about what they want the city to look like. They wander wistfully around dreaming of grand buildings and beautiful gardens. They risk getting lost and having a hard time making their way back to Now.

The train station in Now has a secret. The truth is there is no train. There is no way to get to Old Now or New Now. Now is the only place that is real. There is no way out but it goes on forever. There are thousands of neighborhoods to explore. There are countless roads to walk and an infinite number of buildings. Many of them are beautiful beyond description while others are things out of nightmares. But it’s all right here in Now and if you don’t like where you are, you can choose another road. It might be difficult to get there but as long as you aren’t lost in Old Now or New Now you can find a way to a part of Now that you like better.

This musing needs a good re-write but the reminder to live in NOW, not the past or the future, is something I need once in a while!

Five Happiness Habits

Last night the bookshelves in my room started throwing things at me so I took it as a sign to clean them up!  Sorting through the books and the stacks of paper and the endless craft supplies has been quite interesting.  I’ve found all sorts of hidden treasures!  And I’ve only done one set of shelves!  I’m saving the other one for tomorrow 😉

One of the best things I found was a paper titled “Five Happiness Habits”.  It’s in my handwriting so I know I wrote it down but if I copied any of it from other sources I apologize now.  I’m just going to type it here as is.

Five Happiness Habits

1. Be kinder than necessary

If someone is rude, smile and wish them a nice day.  If children leave garbage or toys on the stairs, push it aside instead of stepping on it.  Try to make someone feel a little better for having crossed your path.

2. Accept what cannot be changed

Life isn’t fair and some things just really suck.  Get over it.  Everyone has challenges and problems but not everyone lets that hold them back.  Accept, adapt, and adjust.

3. Tell the truth

Lying or even just softening the truth has never done you any good.  Just be honest, with other and with yourself.

4. See problems as challenges

The word “problem” is never part of a happy person’s vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task or a chore.

5. Let go of negativity

Focusing on the negative attracts more negativity to your life.  Focus on the good, positive things in your life to attract more good, positive things.  Re-watch “The Secret”.

OK, so there’s nothing truly groundshakingly original there but it’s all good advice.  I’ll be posting the original paper where I can see it daily and perhaps I can better incorporate some of these attitudes into my life, especially #4!

Empty Bowls; i.e., starving in a house of plenty.

I have been ill for the last several years and my house has fallen into a shameful state of affairs suitable, to my disgrace, not for living but for one of those reality clean-up shows.  I am now graced with the gift of health enough to begin the reparation process.

As I clean the kitchen I find bowls.  Bowls in cupboards.  Bowls on shelves.  Bowls nested inside of other bowls.  Bowls of all shapes and sizes and materials.  Some left from when my children were young. Some plastic sets with lids, two complete sets plus some extras! Some borrowed from my mother, now returned.

I also threw away pound after pound of expired food – cans as many as 10 years past their use by date!  I haven’t even lived in this state for 10 years!

How often do we say or hear “I’m hungry” or “There’s nothing to eat”?  How many neighbors do we have who actually ARE hungry and have nothing to eat?  While we sit here in our houses of plenty, staring at our empty bowls, and whining.

What is, what was, what could be

Saturday afternoon I received some bad news.  It’s not that it was unexpected news.  I knew it could happen this early.  But I hadn’t thought about it in a while and thought I had a few more months.  When I learned the extra time was not to be, I had to move forward with planning for this new circumstance.

Unfortunately I don’t handle bad news well.  It’s Tuesday evening now and I’ve had this knot in my shoulder since Sunday morning!  But I’m finally moving forward with some alternate plans.  Not enough yet but it’s a start!  And I have a month to work things out.

Saturday was also closing night of Tyler’s play!  I only got to see 2 shows but it was opening night and closing night so those are the 2 I would have chosen.  He had a great time and he is sad it’s over but I know he’s happy, too.  He’s missed a lot of sleep the last couple of months!  But the next project will come up very soon (he’s involved with 2 local theaters and the new drama program at his high school… it won’t be long!) and once again he will never be home and will wish he could take a nap.

Riley is doing awesome!  Having three part time teachers rather than 1 full time teacher doesn’t seem to be bothering her at all.  Plus she’s in practice for the Special Olympics Equestrian event.  We were there earlier this evening and they finally took the lead rope off the horse!  She was riding independently in the spring but her new coach had never worked with her before.  The show is in 4 weeks and we’re already excited!

As for me, the word is stress!  Yesterday Riley had therapy so I spent 3 hours in the waiting room!  The last hour was pretty nice but before then, ugh!  I really wanted to suggest to that other mom that her verbal reprimands were going unheeded and perhaps he would respond better to distraction or some other option but decided to just shut up with the unsolicited advice.  Because, seriously, almost nobody wants to hear it!

I’m trying to take my stress out on planning for the future, cleaning up my home, and crafting.  I did have a bag of M&Ms yesterday.  Chocolate just seemed the thing to do at the time!  But I kicked my butt this morning during my workout 🙂  I was also hoping a good workout would help this painful knot in my shoulder.  I guess it helped some.  It’s gone from knotted kite string to knotted shoe string so that’s something!

Maybe this week I’ll share a craft I’ve been working on.  But then the question becomes, which one!  Greeting card?  Clock?  Jewelry?  Bookmark?  Decisions, decisions, so many decisions!

So what is?  Change!  Always change!  Ready or not, something WILL change!  What was?  Tyler’s play.  My procrastination.  The lead rope from Riley’s horse!  What could be?  The beautiful (yet terrifying) thing is I have no idea!

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is…

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is frustrating.  Why doesn’t she understand me?  Why won’t he listen?  Just tie your own shoes already!  Therapy.  Testing.  IEPs.  School therapy.  School testing.  More meetings.  She threw a fit at lunch today and we don’t know why.  Was the cheese melty or the vegetables cooked?  For a long time she refused to eat anything brown.  He won’t eat a sandwich with condiments on it or anything with mayo.

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is stressful.  She forgets she needs to be quiet right now.  He picks on her to get a reaction.  She reacts.  Violently.  He thinks he’s smarter than everyone else.  She can say “4 times 8 is 32” twenty times in a row and forget it on the 21st.  The restaurant made the food wrong and meltdown is imminent if they don’t eat soon!  I just want to scream!

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is sad.  I didn’t get the experiences I expected to have with my little girl.  There are things that she just wasn’t/isn’t/may never be able to do.  Other experiences have filled in for what I thought I wanted.

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is full of questions ranging from guilt-induced to unanswerable.  What did I do wrong?  Nothing.  That’s counter-productive, harmful thinking brought about by grief and guilt.  When will she (fill in the blank)?  In her own time… or not.  What will happen when she’s 18?  Will she be able to work?  Will she be able to live independently or will she always need a caretaker?  Will she ever be able to have a family of her own?  Too many questions!

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is a major learning experience!  I have learned patience.  Now I can wait for her to finish her own sentences and tie her own shoes.  I can listen to them fight and not intervene until it’s obvious neither of them can change the course.  I can scrape a perfectly delicious meal into the garbage and make her a bowl of ramen noodles (OK, not often but as long as she’s TRIED it!).  I can sit through a public melt-down and smile and wave at anyone who stares.  I can explain to anyone who asks what set her off (usually, I know the kid pretty well now).  I can sit for hours at a time in waiting rooms with other parents and a magazine to keep me company.

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is joyous!  It took her a year to potty train.  Her first steps were at 17 months.  She was pre-verbal until she was five.  Learned to ride her bike at 8.  Brought home a party invitation from a classmate… and actually wanted to go!  She used a full sentence to state a request instead of a single word or, worse yet, a gesture.  Those early years where other parents have a milestone seemingly every day are filled with questions and why-nots but we get many of the same milestones just spread out over a longer time frame.  Making them much more precious and joyous when they do occur.  We also count every little accomplishment as a milestone where as many parents may overlook them.

IN MY EXPERIENCE having a child with autism is full of every kind of loving imaginable.  Giggles, hugs, cuddles, cats, horses, smiles, running across a store with a big smile to a certain toy then running back screaming “MOOOMMMMMMM!” as though she hasn’t seen me in a year, storytime, throw a blanket on her head, fits, meltdowns, emotional upheaval, major mood swings, roller coaster, my worst day is your Tuesday, your worst day is my Thursday.

I want her to grow and to learn.  To have better control over certain behaviors that make her a bully target.  But never to change.  She is sweet, loving, caring.  Strange animals come up to her so she’ll pet them.  Horses, cats, even chickens.  She doesn’t like dogs much, though.  They’re too loud and bouncy.

I know other families have a much harder path than I do and I know there are parents who would change their disabled kids in a heartbeat if they could.  If I were in a harder situation, I may want to, too.  But that is not my path.  My path is a 16 year old with Asperger’s Syndrom and a 9 year old with PDD-NOS/autism.  And although some days seem as though bedtime will never come, my life is an adventure.  An adventure that my kids make well worth any frustration or stress or headaches.  And I love them for the perfectly imperfect, amazingly amazing individuals they are!

Sabotage? I think not!

Riley is doing amazing!  Seriously.  Incredible.  The difference in her in just the last few months is unbelievable.  Her speech.  Her social skills.  Pretty much everything.  I was terrified at taking on multiplication again after the summer since it was so hard in 3rd grade but it feels as though she assimilated that information over the break.  She’s doing great!

I’m doing wonderful, too!  I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds in the last month or so.  I’m really close to a milestone!  I’m wearing pants I haven’t been able to squeeze into for months and they’re comfy!

Then there was the weekend…

Oh dear.  Run, run, run.  Busy, busy, busy.  Tyler had his play performance on Friday night then two showing on Saturday.  Riley and I went to a symphony concert Saturday evening.  (It was a fundraiser for the ranch she where she rides and they host the Special Olympics horse show.)  I ended up having dinner at 4pm at Steak N Shake.  Single burger with fries and a diet coke.  Then everyone… both kids AND my parents… ordered ice cream!  Ugh!  It’s soooooo yummy!  And I sat there sipping my diet coke.

So of course I had to have a snack at the concert (concession profits also went to the ranch).  Thankfully they provided some veggie chips (surprisingly good), fruit and bottled water.

Then Tyler’s play let out right after our concert (at adjoining venues, conveniently) so he just HAD to go to McD’s to hang out with the other actors some more.  So here I am at McD’s with an excited 16 year old, exhausted (and grumpy) 9 year old, my very tired daddy, and me.  Again, all these calories are just flying around me!  Did you know McD’s is now putting calorie counts next to every item on the menu?  I love it!  Fruit ‘n’ Yogurt Parfait!

I’m so proud of myself!  I just went over 1200 calories for the day!

Today wasn’t much better.  I didn’t even get lunch today!  Busy, busy, busy.  Run, run, run.  What’s a gal to do?  I’m sure I’ll make up for it tomorrow!

But with everything against me and temptation abounding and stress through the roof, I stuck with my desire to be healthier and fit into more flattering clothing.  Sabotage will just have to try harder next weekend!  (I don’t mean that as a challenge… really!)

The little things

It’s all about the little things.  The random hug from Tyler.  A note in Riley’s daily agenda saying she’s having a good week at school.  A friendly message from someone I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from again.  Purr therapy from my cat.  Realizing I chose the PERFECT shade of blue to paint my dresser.  Knowing someone who can find great homes for all these orphaned clothes we’ll never wear again.  My Libman Freedom Mop.  Slice-o-matic… never will I dice a cucumber with a knife again!  A fresh peach dipped into Greek yogurt with honey.  Feta.  The scale saying 1.5 lbs lighter than the day before.  Seeing Riley excited about the book fair at school next week.  Baking soda and vinegar.  Borax.  Being able to put my right hand flat on the floor when I try to do a push-up.  OK, that’s not a little thing… it’s HUGE!  Wearing those jeans that have been hanging in the bathroom for a month waiting for me to be able to squeeze into them 🙂  Walking the block with my neighbor for a little morning “walk n talk”.  Saying goodbye to the kids in the morning.  Welcoming them home again in the afternoon.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll bake them some cookies.  Beautiful days like today!  White, puffy clouds.  Opening the windows.  Just BEING!  I guess the little things really are the big things, aren’t they?

And it begins…

That nightmare that made 3rd grade so difficult for Riley and me started again today.  Just a week into the school year and she’s already whining and complaining when it’s time to do homework.  Everything else is great.  She gets up on her own.  Gets dressed without a fight (with a bra, even).  Bounces happily to the bus.  Even bedtime has minimal fuss.  But homework… What is it about homework?

There is something about having to do any sort of homework that just turns her into a whining, procrastinating, complaining diva.  You know what her homework was tonight?  She had to spend 10 minutes reading her library book (about cats, as they often are) and practice multiples of 4 for the quiz tomorrow.  That’s it.  It really didn’t require the 10 minutes of whining that preceded the 15 minutes of actual work.  Or maybe it did.  What do I know?

Starting tomorrow she will begin homework at 330.  That’s right after snack time and only 30-45 minutes after arriving home.  Maybe doing it earlier means it won’t interrupt the flow of her evening.  If that’s what causes the mood swing.

She also has an absolute obsession with going into a cartoon world or having cartoon characters come visit her.  Listening to her go on about what it would be like if she found a way into Ninjago City gets a tad tedious after a few hours.  She was working on a great little story about the Pound Puppies going to Ponyville.  I was really enjoying that one!  But she hasn’t worked on it in a few days.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll find her pages and ask her to keep going.  She’s so creative!

Around here I really never know what tomorrow will bring.  But, truthfully?  I’m okay with that 🙂  Each day is a new adventure and most of them are quite enjoyable lately!

The best laid plans…

So last night I was all hyped about the potential I had to get so much done today.  Yeah, didn’t happen.

Maybe because I went into overdrive yesterday.  Maybe because I didn’t take my Adderal this morning.  Maybe it’s stress.  I don’t know.  But I pretty much shut down this morning.  After Riley got on the bus I came home and passed out.  Then when I finally woke up, I was hungry all day!  To the point where I was just snacking all day.  Bananas, apples, no idea how many grapes, Special K baked chips with sea salt (I love those…).  Not exactly any diet busters in the mix but just a lot of it!

I tried to work on a braided fabric necklace I saw on Pinterest but just wasn’t feeling it.  I did get quite a bit of it so I can finish it tomorrow, I’m sure.  I definitely want to work on some greeting cards this week, too.  It’s been a while since I’ve done any paper crafting.

And since today was Tuesday, Riley had Special Olympics equestrian training!  There’s nothing she loves more than riding horses 🙂  Last year they put her in an independent category even though she’d never ridden independently.  This year, she’s ready for it!  I’m so excited for her!  There is one thing she loves almost as much as horses.  Getting trophies.  Horse trophies are just so awesome!  And of course there is always at least one cat at the arena.  Today there were two!  Eek!  Excitement overload!  Even at home with her cat that she’s had for 2-3 years some days it’s every five minutes I hear, “Mom, did you know there’s a cat in the house?”  Or “Do not move a muscle.  It’s sitting right on you!”  She is truly adorable!  Until she does it 50 times in an hour, then it can be kind of annoying.

But I’m going to bed a few minutes earlier tonight.  I want to set myself up for another day like Monday instead of like today!  I’m really not annoyed or frustrated or kicking myself about today.  It’s not all or nothing for me.  So long as my scale keeps going down instead of up, last week’s skinny jeans are next week’s fat jeans, and I have relatively healthy food for myself and my kids, I feel good about it.  I need more projects completed if I’m going to do the craft fair coming up in two months but I have a ton of excellent ideas and it’s all happening slowly but surely!  I’m in a good place in life right now and I’m just going to enjoy each day and it’s challenges and rewards one at a time 🙂


I tell you what, with the kids back in school, my productivity has shot through the roof!  Finally I was able to put a coat of paint on my dresser.  It’s been sitting on my balcony for a week now.  The primer took days to dry because of the humidity.  Then it rained.  I could have painted it yesterday but Riley wanted to go for a walk.  How can I turn down an offer like that!  But today… high around 80.  No humidity!  Clear, blue sky.  Kids at school.  Yep, that thing finally got a coat of paint on it!  I really want it back in my room.  There are no words for how much I HATE having my clothes on the floor and in a laundry basket!

I also did some prep work for my healthy lunches and snacks for the rest of the week.  As well as some of the more prep-intensive ingredients for scheduled dinners.  I made hummus!  I put a bunch of stuff into my blender (a food processor would have been useful) and a few minutes later had some hummus!

I didn’t get any crafting done today but the dresser really is the top of my priority list until I get it back where it belongs.

Tyler seemed to have a decent day today, too.  He didn’t complain about school at all.  When he got home the cupcakes I’d made were just ready to eat (yes, I was THAT productive!).  Then his usual theater group had their first meeting of the season and he didn’t have rehearsal for his other play so he got to go!

Riley was pretty good today.  Poor kiddo has the first-week-of-school sniffles.  I know not all kids get that but mine get it bad.  Go back to school and within a week sniffling, sneezing, coughing, etc.  No fever as of bedtime but I do need to find her Symbicort.  It sounds like her asthma is flaring up.  Of all the traits I wanted the kids to inherit from me, my tendency towards respiratory distress was not on the list.  She was good all afternoon and evening, though.  She even did three yoga workouts that she found on the video on demand through our cable (sniffling and coughing the whole time)!  But she wouldn’t eat the dinner I made 😦  Quinoa with lightly sauteed veggies (just a tad soft but still crunchy), baby spinach, and balsamic vinegar.  I thought it was amazing and saved the leftovers to have for lunch.  Neither kid would eat it, though.  Their loss.

And tomorrow is Tuesday… oh yes, I have plans for Tuesday!  My dresser will either have a 2nd coat of paint on it or be pushed back to my room.  I’ve got some other kitchen prep on my to-do list.  And crafting!  Will it be card-making, jewelry, or something random?  Hm, I wonder what the muse will bring!  I haven’t done any cards in a while.  That’s tomorrow’s decision 🙂