Sunday, August 25, 2013

Would I Medicate My Child?

Halfway through the whole ASD diagnostic process, when comorbid ADD (and less strongly ODD) came into the picture, someone raised the question of medication.

Ryan and Ian on the way to Sports Day in June.  (This IS our chilly winter weather gear!)

Why was I getting a diagnosis?  Did I think medication would cure her?

Was I trying to cure my child?

Do I even consider autism a disease in the ordinary sense?

It is not only part of my daughter's genetic make-up but a large part of her personality.  She is who she is in part due to her autism.

Would I change her?  No.

Would I like her to be more easy to deal with sometimes.  Absolutely.

Is this a reason to medicate?  Absolutely not.

Sports Day at Kurwongbah State School

Would it make her situation easier?  Probably not.  Her doctor would only suggest it if SHE thought it would help her with attention difficulties later on in a classroom setting.  But she does fairly well - has always done fairly well - without medication.  Well enough that she escaped detection all these years. 

What my daughter needs is understanding, acceptance and alternatives to traditional teaching practices, not medication.

On the other hand I know a child who not only benefits from his medications, but cannot be himself without them.  His mother, after pulling him out of the stresses of a traditional school and home schooling him, after gluten-free, sugar-free diets and everything that she was told she should try, had such success with his behaviour that they tried stopping his medication.  Within a week he could barely function.

He told her that he couldn't find himself, that he couldn't see without his medication.  His condition was clouding his ability to see himself.

He was losing himself without medication.

That, for me, would be the gold standard with which to judge whether or not to medicate my child. 

Those of us who do medicate our children do it because the symptoms the medication alleviates hinder our child from finding himself.  We don't do it to make our children more manageable or because we are too lazy to apply proper parenting techniques.  We do it because proper parenting techniques don't work.

Did she KNOW there was a camera on her?!

We do it because we lose our child without them.

Medication or not, what all children on the autistic spectrum need are acceptance and understanding.

If we could put that in a bottle and sell it to the world we'd cure a lot more than autism.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


We had our last visit to the diagnosing paediatrician on Tuesday.

My daughter has Autistic Spectrum Disorder with comorbid symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder: Inattentive Type. 

It is a permanent, non improving condition listed under legitimate disabilities by the Australian Government.  This, among other things, means she qualifies as special needs for schooling, and that we are entitled to free long distance state education  and extra financial help for home schooling a child unable to be traditionally schooled.  Our family also qualifies for a carer's allowance from the government - irregardless of income level - to compensate for the extra time it takes to care for a special needs child.  Ryan also qualifies for a health care card that entitles her to almost free medical care including medications as well reduced rates for public services such as transportation and also for reduced entry into attractions such as amusement, water and animal parks.

I shouldn't need the government to legitimise what I already knew but the acknowledgement is more important to me than the small financial compensation (although it helps, it does not drastically alter our life-style or our choices). It is acknowledgement of the extra work that goes into raising Ryan as a contributing member of society. 

It is acknowledgement that she is different, that it has been harder for us than for most, and that spending the extra effort to home school her is worth something to the community as well as to her.

It means that I wasn't just an overambitious mother looking for excuses for my daughter's lack of success at school or with personal relationships.

It means that my daughter CAN learn and CAN go to university, so take that and stick it up your asses, you pricks.

Oh sorry.  Still a little anger there!

No better cure for anger than a big "I told you so."  In third grade math you pricks.

It also means that Ryan is now starting to show more obvious signs of being different now that she is a teenager.  It means she won't be acting like a normal teenager, that she might not make friends like the rest of us, that she will need help with everyday tasks that take you through a day.  She might not marry (Temple Grandin says this is okay: deal with it Mom!) or make a brilliant career out of her many talents.  She might ride her horses for fun but never be able to make a business out of it or teach others.  She might be a brilliant artist but never get that work out of her sketchpad.  She will make beautiful music that no one ever hears, dance beautiful dances for herself alone.

She might need my support - and be my little girl - forever.

I have come to accept this gradually over the past year  and so no tears fell at the final say.  Let's face it, we knew she was different; were relieved last November when a new friend pointed out the obvious, were relieved when all of her signs exactly matched what was printed in the literature and on the internet (I mean, honestly Leute, HOW did you miss this in Germany?!  When I CAME to you with suspicions of ADD?!).  What it means for the future is still unclear, but it only shows me that nothing is certain, that I can take nothing for granted and that Ryan's future is hers, not mine.

Faces fall when you tell them you are home schooling an autistic child.  They are so impressed.  But there is nothing new about my situation, or about Ryan's, other than an official diagnosis.  We have both been struggling with this since she started showing signs around the age of five - even before that now that I know what to look for - and the only difference is that now we can give ourselves credit for our struggle.

We have both done amazingly well; so well that Ryan doesn't come across as autistic at a casual glance.  She is lucky; she will do quite well in the adult world, on her own terms and in her own way.  She won't be able to fit the mold, play by the rules, be like everyone else; mostly because she doesn't see the need to.

How awesome is that?!

How great is it that God saw exactly what I needed - a daughter who can't and won't fit the status quo - for me to finally be brave enough to escape from it myself?

And that Ryan, in turn, got a mom who is stubborn enough to fight for her, to advocate for her, to work with her even when it means working against her sometimes, a mom who loves doing it - despite the exhaustion and the burden - more than any other job she could do right now.

What does all this mean for Ryan?  Does she know what it means, what it will mean? 

It's hard to say. 

All I know is that she has been happier this week, since the diagnosis, than she has been in a while.  She has settled into her school work, babbles incessantly about the personalities, real and imagined, of the horses at the barn and jumps around - mostly joyfully - with her brothers.  She struts around the house with her hot chocolate in a travel cup like she owns the place; like any other normal teenager in fact.  (Although the turban on her head might be a bit out of the ordinary!) And then struts around the shops with a ball of yarn tucked under her shoulder looking like Quasimodo and attracting the stares of everyone walking towards us because she doesn't want to interrupt her crocheting while we shop.  NOT like a normal teenager,

Like Ryan.

My daughter has Autistic Spectrum Disorder with comorbid symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder: Inattentive Type.

It is a permanent, non improving condition listed as a legitimate disability by the Australian Government.

And that's okay.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What Fills the Emptiness?

I had a great talk with a friend at soccer a few weeks ago:  we were discussing the mania of afterschool activities and how difficult it is to slow down and just start appreciating being with family without the constraints of practice here and a game there and a race to run on Sunday and two birthday parties and a large homework assignment to get done, swim classes starting up and do we or don't we join Little Athletics because that means Friday nights out and Sunday AM runs are great but that means Sundays out and if we do baseball that's all day Saturday shot again and....

What would happen if we didn't sign up for activities this term?  What would happen if the boys didn't learn to shot put and high jump and they didn't train for long distance?  How terrible would their lives be without baseball for a season?
What would fill the emptiness?

I'm only beginning to discover what fills the emptiness, but it's great already.  What fills the emptiness is building forts out of bed linens and building cities out of Legos.  What fills the emptiness is starting up a band (with Matthew on piano, Aidan on recorder, Andrew on drums and one of the many girls they are auditioning at recess at school as lead singer!).  What fills up the emptiness is tying up a string in the backyard to make our own badminton court.  What fills up the emptiness is meeting friends - cousins really, right Bobbi! - for a 2 km fun run as a family and watching the seven years olds, the same seven years olds that whinged the entire time last year - break out of the pack and leave their parents in the dust.

What fills the emptiness is the beginning of spring, the smell of sunscreen and mozzie spray, towels and togs on the clothes line, trips to the beach, surfing in the waves.

What fills the emptiness is bike rides and weeding the garden, home-made pizza and home-made sushi.

What fills the emptiness is meeting friends for lunch or at the park. 

I've been so afraid of the emptiness: but doing nothing means I'm not enough.  I have to do more for my family; I have to do more for myself; I have to do more to be worthy, more weight loss, more running, more laundry, more cleaning, better. healthier home-made meals.

The emptiness has been expanding.  Time I used to chase - but there isn't enough of it to clean the house AND weed the garden AND get the kids' assignments done for school let alone take a break and go to the beach - is now expanding. 

It's amazing how much of our so called "good-for-you" after school and weekend activities involve more time spent in the car than anywhere else. 

Oh.  So THAT'S where the time goes.

We've got all weekend to enjoy ourselves.  This despite - or because - I've been to the gym Saturday, Damon cooked the kids omelettes, they built forts and badminton courts while I read and napped, we then had a leisurely (well, with seven kids leisurely) visit to friends where we swam in the pool and had awesome Hungarian food before dropping Ryan off for a sleepover before she and her friend got up at 4:45 AM today for their dressage competition today.  This morning the entire family (minus Ryan) ran 2 kms - again with friends - and is now playing, making their own brunch, while Damon does a dump run and groceries, the laundry is going and I am chilling out writing. 

It is 11:00 on Sunday and the whole weekend still lies before us!  Andrew has a friend coming to pick him up for the beach.  Damon and I want to hang up some more family photos.  (A fact Damon is not yet aware of!)  The twins can weed the garden.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll finally get the bathroom and kitchen pantry organised.

Or not.

Don't worry about Ian.  He just runs around in the middle of all this, almost 2 years old going on 7.  When he gets tired, he pulls himself a bottle of milk out of the fridge and puts himself to sleep on the couch.  Good parenting technique?  Maybe not.  Good survival skills: definitely!

And so the emptiness grows.  And as it expands, time expands with it.  The less we do, the more we are doing with it.  How we get more out of less, with less work, is still beyond me.  It's all a bit too Zen for me to comprehend.  How am I trying less, working less, and accomplishing more?  How is it that by stopping the struggle, the goal is already achieved?

My friend, a Christian, defined it in terms of God versus Satan, that it is important to know WHICH being is filling your empty spaces, which activities are being proposed by which entity.

I realise that Satan, for me, wouldn't be in the activities themselves or in what he is telling me to do or not to do, but in a disproportion of activities, in a focus or emphasis on the wrong thing.

Satan, for me, would be unbalance.  Satan is the struggle, the striving to achieve, the expectation of perfection.  Wow.  All this time I have been trying to be perfect so that I would be worthy of enlightenment, nirvana, a better reincarnation, God.  Who would have thought it was Satan making me strive for perfection?  Sneaky little bugger, ain't he?!

God is not perfection.  God is balance.

God is the emptiness.  God is the breath.

I am sure Lao-Tzu would say that God is already here.

Go out and play with the kids and get over it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Am I Special or Do I Have Asperger's Syndrome?

I honestly don't think I'd be labelled as Asperger's.  There has to be some level of dysfunction that interferes with work, school, personal and social life that I don't know that I'd qualify for.  I do fairly well, even if I am faking it.

On the other hand, if Steven Spielberg has it.  How dysfunctional can he be?

There are obvious signs once you know what to look for: for starters, girls with Asperger's tend to come across as "little philosophers" as opposed to boys who sound like "little professors."

Think and analyse and try to find the underlying meaning and connection much?  Who me?!

I also don't get a lot of everyday social skills.

That people don't say what they do or do what they say, for instance, just kills me.  I accept this and I don't condemn it, but I just don't understand it.  Why lie to yourself?  How can you DO that?  Don't you feel guilty?  How can you just forget about it?

Sigh.  I wish I could do that.

I also don't get when or why not to butt in on two people in a conversation.  If you are all standing around together and thinking the same thing, why not share it?  I don't get the one on one connection.  I have spent my whole life trying to include others, trying to make others feel comfortable and welcome.

When I was six I apparently stopped a race I was winning to turn around a cheer the others behind me on to victory. 

It's only recently occurred to me that not everyone needs to be made to feel comfortable.  Most people already are.

If this overly social nature doesn't sound like the typical Asperger's person, just note how much thought goes into my social interactions.  They don't come naturally.  They come through intense study and determination.  This is why Asperger females are so often underdiagnosed and slip through the cracks.  We work really hard at it.  And our Asperger's strength and obsession can paradoxically be social interactions: we study them to the point of excellence at the same time that we don't intuitively understand them.

We are great mimics.  We can even fool ourselves.

On the other hand, Asperger's Syndrome is this nice disease that carries with it implications of intellectual brilliance. 

If I feel guilty about giving such a strong version of it to my daughter, I am also more than aware that the strengths of my sons stem from the same source.

I wouldn't be who I am without my over philosophising.  I would not be able to become who I would like to become without it. 

Labels, letters and syndromes: what do they all mean?

No one in my entire life - from my early childhood on - has ever told me I was like every one else.  I was always told I was special, different, not like everyone else, not average.

I always thought that was a good thing.

And there's no reason to think any differently just because my uniqueness has been listed under autistic disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV).

Sunday, August 18, 2013

About The Gym

There are a few things I realised at the gym this morning.

One:  I like going.  Even if I was my ideal 65 kg weight, I'd still want to keep going.

Two:  People at my new gym are nice too and I need to get over all this bullshit about missing my old place and move on.   People move through our lives at a certain time for a certain reason.  When life tells you it is time to move on it is because you are ready for new experiences.  Embrace the change.  This does not mean you don't treasure your old friends or the time you had with them.  It means you are accepting that there are good people and good experiences left to meet.  SURRENDER!

Three:  Sleep is important.

Four:  Balance is important.

Five:  Saying NO is important.  Realising that maybe now isn't the time to start getting up at 4:45 again is important.  Even if that new class looks really really great.  

Six:  Balance is really hard for someone like me.  I want it all.

Seven:  This has to be FUN, not about weight loss or about building muscle mass but about FUN!

Has anyone else noticed that I spend way too much time thinking while I am working out?!  This is why belly dance class on Thursday nights has been so good for me.  I only started recently, and our first dance is relatively straightforward but when my mind wanders - when I start thinking about how great this would be to write about or about how good I feel and maybe, just maybe, I should do that pump class at 5:30 AM tomorrow - I forget the steps.  I have to focus on the dance.  It is forcing me to be present in the moment.

Margaret also tells us that if it isn't working, or if it hurts, that we are trying too hard.  This is totally different from what I hear at the gym.  Push harder.  Try harder.  You can do it.  No pain, no gain.

Eight: What I have to realise is that personal trainers are trained to work with normal people.  I am not normal.  A normal person apparently hears these words and ignores them if they feel like it.  No thanks, I don't need to push that hard today.  No thanks, I don't need that extra effort.

I take every word to heart.  Why would they be saying them if they weren't meant to be taken literally?

It's an Asperger's thing.  Why do normal people keep saying they want one thing and then continually do another?!  I don't get it. 

So today I had fun and ignored the instructor if I felt like it.  Like a normal person.

I've been pushing myself so hard that a few of the trainers have told me to slow down and sleep in a while.  Note to self:  having five kids is not an excuse to ignore, but a reality to appreciate.

Nine:  I still had problems breathing at the end of the class and it's not all in my head and it's not all about stress.  And when I have problems breathing then I do start to breathe more in my chest because that is where I can't breathe.  It's not horrid, but it is uncomfortable.  And it is a sign of high blood pressure.  My vanity tells me to ignore it: I AM working out, I AM eating well, I AM NOT remarkably overweight or underfit.  But the reality is that 150/100 might need medication.  And how awesome would it feel to be able to run again without feeling so horrible at the end of it?

How much less stressful would my life be if I could breathe again?

How much less stressful is it once I realise that it isn't about getting there, but about enjoying being where you already are!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Worth Repeating!

There are no bears out there trying to get you.

There is only the life you asked for.

(Pause.  Moment of silence.)


Friday, August 16, 2013

Show Don't Tell!

"Breathe": everyone keeps telling me.  (Can you use a colon backwards like that?)

"I am breathing, I AM breathing," I think, forcing huge gulps of air past the barrier in my chest.

"Breathe": I've never noticed they ask you to do that in between sessions at the gym too.  All I ever heard before was: "Push it, faster, harder, farther."

But until now I took it all figuratively.

And it turns out someone else DID have the answer, Lao-Tzu: my therapist actually showed me HOW to breathe!

I didn't cry at the session, which was a huge surprise to me since that is all I ever did at the therapist in Germany. 

Maybe it was the nice cuppa tea!

Maybe it was the fact that I am not depressed, that I am actually quite happy with my life, and that I KNEW and KNOW that this is all ridiculous.  I keep TELLING myself this is all ridiculous.  I was laughing as I told her about the stresses in my life: home schooling an Asperger's child with a profound obsession and complete apathy in anything else, a child also diagnosed with all nine symptoms of ADHD; a two-year old, seven year old twins, five children in all; moving two months ago with five children, moving internationally less than three years ago with four children and starting completely over; getting up at 4:45 to work out, running on weekends before soccer matches, dieting; looking for schools for Andrew, designing a curriculum for Ryan; cleaning the house (or not), UNPACKING and moving in, cooking and getting everyone ready for school, homework, family time....

I wouldn't change a thing except for the fact I can't breathe.

I keep TELLING myself how good my life is, but my body won't listen.

Turns out I was making the same mistake with my body and managing stress, stress that I actually WANT in my life, that I make as a writer.

I was telling my body not to stress, but I wasn't showing it how.

Light bulb moment here:  you have to breathe!

But I am breathing, but I AM breathing, as my chest expands and I inhale.

"Uh, from your diaphragm," says my therapist.

"Which means what?" I reply.  (Nice to know all those years of medical training paid off, right Mom?)

She shows me how.


From your stomach.  Big breaths deep into your stomach.

How could I have missed that in yoga?!

"And then you unclench your fists and relax them," she continues.

You tell - no, I corrected my therapist, you SHOW - your body to relax.

There are no bears out there coming to get you.

There is only the life you asked for.

Breathe, Lao-Tzu, the answer is in the breath.

What do you mean you already said that thousands of years ago?


 And Om.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Speaking of Colons

Whoever coined the term "those who can't, teach," hadn't tried teaching.

Ryan managed to learn about negative integers  this week despite my teaching, not because of it.

We do happen to be studying the digestive system in science this week as well, but have only made it through the small intestines.  No colon there yet. 

The colon I am speaking of is one that no one in my generation seems able to grasp.  I blame my own lack of grammatical knowledge on the gifted and talented program which decided we were all too bright to concentrate on this stuff and rushed us past (or is it passed?!) in favour of creative writing. 

Great.  Now I can write creatively with improper grammar and punctuation.  (Great: now I can write creatively with improper grammar and punctuation?  Hey Dee, Hey Lorraine: is the colon the answer to some of these debates we've been having on sentences: has our generation just forgotten how to use the colon?)

Does that make me more gifted or talented than someone who actually learned how to do it so that other people could understand them?!

Youtube to the rescue: if that young and perky woman actually knew what she was teaching her high school class.

And then I pick up The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.  Turns out a Czech living in France knows how to use a colon better than anyone else I've read.  Or at least his editor does.

He uses a colon in his very first sentence!  Four times in the first segment, including a beauty of a sentence with a colon, two semicolons and a comma.  Followed by four beauties in a row at the end of the second segment.  All this by page five.  The beauty of the sentences isn't in the punctuation: the punctuation only serves as an elegant frame that enhances an exquisite work of art.

How'd you like that one, huh, huh?  Better learn to love them because I plan to use them until I get them right.

The problem in using Kundera's work to teach colons to an uninterested thirteen year old girl is the subject matter.  Take the first sentence: "The idea of eternal return is a mysterious one, and Nietzsche has often perplexed other philosophers with it: to think that everything recurs as we once experienced it, and that the recurrence itself recurs ad infinitum!"


"Let us therefore agree that the idea of eternal return implies a perspective from which things appear other than as we know them:  they appear without the mitigating circumstances of their transitory nature."

Uh, I guess.

The colon, two semicolon and comma beauty is about Hitler: "Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood.  I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler's concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?"

Oh.  That's two sentences.  So much for gifted and talented.

Let me redeem myself with Parmenides: "He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fineness/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/non-being.  We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple except for one difficulty: which is positive, weight or lightness?"

"Parmenides responded: lightness is positive, weight negative.
"Was he correct or not?  That is the question.  The only certainty is: the lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all."

Sigh.  This is the sort of thing that got me labelled gifted and talented.  Not only have I drawn a connection between the colon as an organ and the colon as a form of punctuation in the third sentence - oh so clever of me - but now I am connecting the correct use of the colon by Milan Kundera to draw a parallel to my anxiety.

No matter what Nietzsche says (and I'm not sure exactly what he said, since I am only going on what Milan Kundera says he said!),  I find both the idea of eternal return AND the transitory nature of life to be a heavy burden right now.  Nothing is light: nothing is insignificant.

But lookie there: at least I am learning to use proper punctuation when I whinge about it!

Although I probably still shouldn't be teaching it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Kundera and Nietzsche; Colons and Parking Spaces; Louise L. Hay and Lao -Tzu

"I'm not good enough.  I don't do enough.  I'll never make it."

Did I say that?

Turns out that, although I did say it, and do say it often - to myself at least, subconsciously - it is a direct quote out of Louise L. Hay's book "Heal Your Body."

It's the thought process that leads to coronary thrombosis. Heart attacks.

No duh, right?

Anxiety, which I have been feeling ever since I can remember, is not trusting the flow and process of life.  All of which is bullshit, because I do trust the flow and process of life.  I just don't trust that it will flow well for me because I'm not good enough, I don't do enough and that is why I'll never make it.

All I want is for life to flow better for my children.

Which isn't going to work if I have a massive coronary worrying about which parking spot to take.

Or which route to take to school.  Or whether I should give them each two one dollar coins or one two dollar coin. 

I'm telling ya, anxiety sucks.  And no matter how much I keep telling myself how silly it is to be having heart palpitations over where to park, no matter how much I KNOW this is stupid, I have been having them over parking spaces since I had the twins in Germany.  Now THERE was a reason for worrying about parking, but no one cared, no one realised, and now, now here I am in an entire country of people who park wherever they choose, taking spots so large an American AND a German would BOTH shoot them over it! - parking on curbs, on grass ways, on lawns, wherever, really just about wherever you want, with as much distance between as you'd like - usually enough to just about fit in 7/8ths of the car I am driving - and I am still having palpitations.

I have been doing behavioural therapy on myself.  Which means that I just go and do it anyway.  I park.  I tell myself this is stupid and I park.  I ignore the feelings of discomfort and I do it.

I don't know if this behavioural therapy is supposed to make a person function better with the disability - which it does, I DO park and I DO park every day, multiple times a day.  Or if the feelings are eventually supposed to go away if you just keep doing the action that makes you uncomfortable.

But the feelings aren't going away.

On bad weeks - and YES, they coincide with my cycle, and God help me if this will get worse before it goes away - I also start breathing with difficulty over which route to take to school.

Again, I can talk myself through it.  And I do it despite the discomfort.  Over and over and over.

But it's terrifying to have to work this hard to do dumb little things you know aren't all that life altering no matter which you choose.   (I am going to have a mental word with Milan Kundera - and Nietzsche - about the Unbearable Lightness of Being : turns out Kundera also knows how to use a colon properly in a sentence: this means I can learn two things at once from him!)

I explained to the kids that I feel the way they described after running a 2 km race this week.  Aidan's heart was pounding so fast his chest hurt: I said I felt like I am running a race all the time.

Good news is that Louise L Hays has a three sentence fix for what ails me.  (I am currently reading Milan Kundera and plan to have a look at Nietzsche but quick and easy is good, right?!)

I have been writing her affirmations in a large notebook:  "I love and approve of myself.  I trust the process of life.  I am safe."

(Meanwhile I am going to use those colons until I get them right!)

I follow it with pages and pages of free writing which usually being with: "No, I don't."

I will spare you the rest. 

Instead I am going to focus on the fun things that are happening around here.  I firmly believe that these next few years are the best of my life; this despite that my body is physically trying to make me believe otherwise.  I don't trust YOU body, so there!  (Oh, and I am going to speak to a therapist tomorrow, so no need to worry if Nietzsche ends up being over my head.)

Ian is so much fun.  He played in the Pacific Ocean today.  And went pee pee on the potty.  Three times.  And he sings all the children songs with hand motions.  Better than any other almost-two-year-old, I am sure.

Ryan is going to be okay.  I am doing okay there, I can feel it.  (I am just SO EXHAUSTED by the struggle.)

Andrew is entering secondary school.  The world awaits him.

And the twins are only 7.

We have so much fun ahead of us these next few years.

Too much to have a coronary thrombosis.

Too much to have a panic attack over where to park.

Always we hope
someone else has the answer.
Some other place will be better,
some other time it will all turn out,
This is it.
No one else has the answer.
No other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.
I don't know what this says about eternal return or lightness and weight, but it does help me with which route to take.
Because I'm already there.
And Amen.

Friday, August 2, 2013

God's Answer

Well, listen Lord, I'd say that was uncalled for, but I have to admit, I wouldn't have listened without that big punch to the eye.  (That's a mean hook you got there, for a non corporeal being!)

Yeah, but Bobbi  LIKES running!
I was up at 4:45 AM again on Friday and dressed to go to the gym (did I promise to do nothing ALL month?!) and feeling rather lousy, but it was just a cold right, and it was only one hour of body pump, right and...oh dear, lookie there, turns out I can't see out of that right eye because it is almost swollen shut.  ( For those of you who don't get up at 4:45 AM,  it is often hard to determine just how horrible you feel that early in the morning, how much is the early hour and how much of it you will shake off once the sun has risen.  I also don't see well that early in the morning, so stumbling blindly looking out of one eye really wasn't all that out of the ordinary!)

But God, did you really have to give me a black eye to make me slow down?

Yeah.  I guess you did.

The swelling had gone down by evening though.  Enough to make it to yoga class.

If that sneezing fit you sent me hadn't laid my out flat, thanks.  Louise Hay (Heal Your Body) interprets you nicely for those of us too dumb - or too stubborn - to understand you ourselves.  A cold signifies too much going on at once.  Mental confusion, disorder.  No duh, right?!

She says respiratory ailments signal a fear to taking life in fully. 

So about those breathing problems I've been having. 

You're right.  I don't feel worthy.  Unless I am losing weight, lifting more weight, running faster, holding warrior pose longer.  Oh dear.  Yoga isn't supposed to be competitive. 

The running especially, Lord, started out as fun.  And now it is about how often I do it and how early I get up to train.  It is about breaking my personal best. 

Running for what?  To what?  From what?  If I am totally honest with myself, I don't even LIKE running that much.  I like that I CAN.  But it seems kind of pointless to just keep trying to go faster and faster.  Why TRY to make your lungs hurt?  Unless you love it.  Which I don't.  I like being outside, I like some activity, I like the buzz I get from doing it.  But that's not loving the run, that's loving the result.

I am squeezing in more and more classes.  On a slow week I still do four to five. 

And it's never enough.  I can always do more.  I can always eat less. 

Can I squeeze it all in, Lord?   Yeah, but for how long and at what cost?

What AM I trying to prove?

What would rush in to fill the emptiness left if I slowed down?

Ah, but that's the Tao speaking, Lord.


I'm willing to give it a go, Lord.

But it's nice to know you're there to knock me out cold if I ever need help!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ryan's World

Let me give you an example.

On Monday this week Ryan, Andrew and a friend of theirs participated in a SLAMMed Poetry Seminar at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane.  We got them in as a special home school group.  (And the more I home school, the more I realise that they learn all they need at home.  Traditional school is just an adjuvant and a place to have fun if you like going there.  This is why traditional schools fail, and will continue to fail, children from disadvantaged homes.  Schools can't replace family.  They also can't cater to the gifted and talented when they are trying to help the poor and underprivileged.  No hard feelings there.  I don't need a traditional school.  I can teach my kids at home.  The boys just go to school because they like it!  But I have no qualms about taking Andrew - or any of them - out for opportunities that I am able to better provide them on my own.  Lucky for me this is one country that agrees with me!)

I am beginning to feel more and more often that I am home schooling the wrong child.  My four boys light up the world with their energy and enthusiasm.  Ryan barely tolerates it.

Since she was going to a poetry seminar the following week, and since we really haven't found anything at all else to interest her even remotely - I decided to do poetry on Friday.  Street poetry.  Cool poetry. 

She wasn't interested in Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky or Ts Elliot.  (Relax, it was 'Cats!')  No to Dr. Seuss. 

So okay, maybe she is too old for this stuff.

No to Australian Bush Poets I have on CD.

I went to my fall-back.  Miley Cyrus.  The Climb.  High School Musical.  Status Quo.  Vanessa Hudgens.  Good God, no more Vanessa Hudgens please!  Plus, there still wasn't that much interest.

Black-Eyed Peas.  Where is the Love?  Classic.  Lady Lumps.  It's got rhythm, it's got rhyme.

Does it have a message?

I decide for myself that good poetry needs rhythm of words, needs skilled usage of words AND preferably a message.

(Oh my God!  Where do you come up with all this stuff, other mothers ask me.  Listen, this is what I'm good at.  Although I would have liked to take it up from a grade two level eventually.)

Ryan said, huh.

Justin Bieber and Will I Am.  Brilliant work.

Justin and Jaden Smith.  (Sorry Will Smith, I love your work but I couldn't find a message.)

And then we went from rap to actual street poetry via You Tube.  We learned what would happen to Jesus if he was born again as a refugee to Australia.  We learned about talking to the sky.  We learned why not to let a test result determine your fate. 

We spent an hour and forty-five minutes on words and rhythm and message.

Then Ryan asked to share her favourite poem with me.  And I knew where it would end.

One of the "My Little Pony" ponies sang some song about friendship or about trying your hardest or about rainbow clouds and cotton candy moons.  I don't know.  I wasn't listening.

Ryan spent the next hour and a half listening to "My Little Pony" songs on her tablet.  I have rarely seen her happier.  She sang along at the top of her lungs, bouncing Ian on her knee, a huge smile on her face.  She knows all the words because this is what she does alone in her room.  This is what makes her happy, what is meaningful and important to her, what she prefers over all else.

This is Ryan's World.

It is a world of magical ponies created for four year olds. 

And while she tolerates ours for bits at a time, this is where she would rather spend her time.

This is where she is happiest.

How hard must it be for her to listen to maths and biology and civil rights and poetry? How hard must it be to go through your life with no interest in what's around you?  Can you live like that?

How hard is it for me to hide the fact that I am screaming inside at the sound of one more bloody "My Little Pony" song from my thirteen year old?

Not hard at all, as it turns out.

She's too happy singing at the top of her lungs in her world to notice the tears falling down my face in mine.