Wednesday, June 27, 2012

memories of a sparkly green motorcycle helmet.

This morning I found out that my aunt and uncle's home in Boulder, Colorado is in the path of an out of control forest fire. They have been put on evacuation notice, and at this point, all anyone can do is pray the wind blows in their favour and the water bombers do their job. Besides praying for their safety, I am also praying that their wonderful home is spared. It is a place that I have always loved. Mostly for the people under its roof, but also for the times I spent there as a child.

When I was quite young, my Aunt Lynn's parents, Joe and Cecile lived there. My mom tells me that they built this home to live in for the rest of their lives. It was their dream home. I remember laying on their family room couch, my new head gear causing me much pain. Cecile fed me frozen m & m's to help my mouth feel better. I don't know if it worked, but I sure liked the m & m's.

The house is situated on a very steep hill, and when the infamous Colorado winds are blowing, it is hard to open and close  car doors. In quiet moments, you can look out the window and find at least one deer staring back at you. Back in the day, the garage was (and I imagine still is) filled with motorcycle parts and artist supplies and all sorts of fabulous things little kids have no business getting their mitts on. The ceilings are vaulted high with wood beams, and the windows stretch across every wall making it feel as if one was a part of the outside, while still being sheltered.

One of my favourite memories is my uncle Gunner taking me and my cousin Dana on a motorcycle ride. Dana had a sparkly red helmet, and the spare kid helmet was sparkly green. In recollection, he had no business putting two little girls on his motorcycle. But damn was it ever fun. My uncle Gunner also had a cockatoo named Lester, who was allowed to roam free. Lester, a female (this was discovered after she was named), was in love with my uncle Gunner. While he may have always had the soul of a grumpy old man, he is also an artist and has a dark, Danish sense of humour, so who could blame her? She would stalk anyone and everyone and pretend to play nice with my aunt Lynn so she could get close enough to bite her. When I heard Lester had passed, I shed no tears.
I always imagined that I would return to Boulder as an adult to visit my aunt and uncle and sit in their living room and enjoy a glass of wine (without the company of Lester). One of my favourite friends from college lives there as well and has a daughter Cammie's age. It has always been my intention to return, and I'm annoyed with myself that I have waited this long to make my way back. One of my uncle's etchings of a viking ship hangs in the entryway of my home. I think of him every time I see it, today especially.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

please stop growing.

Kid needs a haircut. He is staring into the camera lens for his Aunt Jenny. Note, when my camera comes out, he runs for the hills. I guess she gets special Aunt Photo Op Privileges (aka "Ap-Op"). Either that or he was trying to glamour her.
Cameron has taken on my love of colouring full stop. She is also quite particular about the sharpness of her pencil crayons, just like me. Which is kind of a pain in the ass when I am trying to colour and she is demanding that I sharpen her pencil crayons. Clearly, I need to teach her how to sharpen them herself.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

we live on a mountain.

I always thought I would travel the world, experience different cultures, dip my toes in every ocean. So far in my 37 years on this earth, that hasn't happened. Many of my friends have led far more adventurous lives. Touring Australia and New Zealand for a year, moving to Japan, honeymooning in Paris, enjoying extensive family trips every summer - I'd be lying if I said I'm not envious. But something I have learned through my very limited travel, is that "Wherever you go, there you are" (Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis). What this has come to mean to me is that no matter where you are, be it in Iceland or Toronto, you are the same person with the same joys and sorrows. You may find inspiration staring across vast glaciers, but the most important journey we must all take, is within ourselves.

There are days when I feel very much at peace with my life. I have a family in the suburbs. I have a son with autism who has changed the way I view most things in this world. I am mostly happy to take things at a medium pace. My brain runs away on me often and when I chase after it, on whatever tangent it has decided to take, I feel as though I am being swept away with the tidal wave of blood pumping through my veins too fast. So I go along for the ride, to see where I will travel on this particular afternoon. Will it be to explore the patterns of my life that I keep repeating, over and over? Or maybe I'll rush turbo speed into the future, mapping out all of the possibilities and what ifs. There is always the possibility of sinking down to the murky depths of the past, an endless corridor of recollections. And I can do all of this without leaving my home.

Nobody ever asks me about these "trips". As they regale me with tales of their travels and share photos of their loved ones in front of well known monuments, I secretly think of the journey I have taken in recent weeks. And I send light and love to my friends, light and love to the universe, and hope that some of it comes back to me before my next great adventure from my fingertips to my toes.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

tmi tuesday: don't snort your wellbutrin up your nose.

Wednesday Burrito Lunch Date
After two visits with a psychiatrist, he was able to determine that I am not bipolar, and I am not schizophrenic. In fact, he found me to be a bit of a conundrum. I don't have ADD or ADHD, and yet I am still extremely depressed. I don't fit into a pretty little diagnosis which would mean a clear cut path on what medications I should be taking.

The conclusion he came to, is I have a lot of stress, a harder life than most, and I have a legitimate reason to feel sad. Medications are helping to keep my head above water and manage my anxiety. And I will probably always need them to manage. But I don't need more medication to help me feel better. I need therapy.

So, after agreeing to commit to attending weekly therapy, he filled out my prescriptions and told me that after this session, I didn't really need to see him anymore. One of my prescriptions is Wellbutrin, and he reminded me not to crush it and snort it up my nose. Say what? I guess his patients at the prison take their meds in a different way than me. I like to wash mine down with a nice pinot gris. I'm sure if he reads my blog he'll be horrified by my candour, but as I told him, I write as part of my therapy and also to help break the stigma that mental health is a dirty little secret to be ashamed of. Every time I write about my journey with depression, I receive many emails from people who are also struggling. So, word to the wise, don't crush up your Wellbutrin and snort it up your nose. But if you do, email me and let me know what happens as I am a little curious!

Monday, June 04, 2012

helping your child with autism make friends.

The one thing that I want for Max to have more than anything in the world, is friends. That sounds like a simple thing, but for that to become a reality, there is a lot that needs to happen. From a skill development perspective, Max has to prefer the company of others to being alone. He will need to understand the give and get of relationships. He needs to have the opportunity to develop deep and meaningful friendships outside of his immediate family.

Max has a lot of people in his life who he likes a lot. He has favourite therapists who he lights up for, his EA at school who he will do anything for, and of course, his respite worker Sarah, who is his favourite person on earth. Out of all of these people, only one is male. I would like him to have the chance to have a male role model, besides his dad. One who he feels comfortable with, and likes as much as he likes Sarah. It has been a long time in the planning, but, it looks like he will finally get to build this type of relationship.

Over the summer, Max will be spending mornings with my friend Tracy's teenage son, Matt. They have started spending time together on Sunday afternoons to give them the chance to build a friendship naturally, no pressure. Last week Sarah came over for the first Max and Matt afternoon to answer any questions Matt had about the ins and outs of Max. Yesterday, the two fellas hung out on their own and played stair-ball (a game that involves throwing a ball up the stairs and catching it when it bounces down), played outside, and cut paper. Max was very, very happy and Matt's comfort level and confidence increased considerably. The key for me is that Matt is not a therapist - that isn't his role with Max. Matt will help Max learn an entirely new skill - and that is how to be friends.