Within this website, you will find resources and opportunities devoted to supporting, encouraging and motivating you to be empowered to go beyond your expectations as a parent and hopefully you will find a bit of joy and acceptance residing within you as well.
Thanks again for stopping by and know that by embracing the joy together, we WILL Empower Your Village!
I’m not sure where and when it happened along my journey of being an advocate for kids with special needs, but it happened and it has really stuck with me whenever I hear people talking about others with challenges.
It’s the whole ‘label’ thing and it really makes me perk up and want to speak up!
There is a strong tendency to label a child with special needs; that autistic kid, the aspie, the cp child, the down’s child….that adjective may describe what is happening medically, but it is not who that person is…they are a child first and that is what I want to talk about a bit.
Some may say it’s just a case of semantics, that it’s just a way to describe a child and their needs….but I would like to encourage you to be aware and a bit more conscious about the use of those labels.
Think about it….think of a dysfunction that you have. We all have them. Put that adjective in front of your first name. Is that how you want to be addressed? Whether it is shy, overweight, underweight, abrasive….whatever the negative label. That is what is being done to a child that has a special need.
They are being identified by that dysfunction, not the fact that they are a person first.
What can you do differently? A child with Autism can be called just that….A CHILD with Autism. Or better yet…get to know them and call them by their name.
They are a child first, with the same passions, desires and dreams that every other child on this beautiful earth has and wants to achieve.
This is an encouragement to think before you speak….just a change in the order of how you phrase the person you are talking about and being more cognizant of what you are portraying to others. Because really, you don’t know who is listening…you may be encouraging your own child to be thoughtful in how they speak about others that may be different from them.
Modeling this to the world can be life changing….for them and the ones to whom they are speaking.
Just think about it.
Isn’t it interesting how you can have the best of intentions, but life has a way of showing you more in each day that you need to focus on, to pay attention to and to be present with no other distractions? This is my life in the past year. My goal for this site remains to be an encouragement and support for those faced with the challenges of parenting and caring for a child with special needs. It is my passion and my drive that keep me coming back to be that source for you. And like anyone that comes to this site, I have my own set of challenges….challenges that needed to be focused on in the last year. They will still need to be focused upon in the future, but I feel that I am at a point of being able to manage my time to spend being a support here and also being there for my family.
I hope to offer you more writing and more resources to aid you in your journey with your child. More community involvement and just more of me being present with you!
I hope you will continue to join me….Empower Your Village.
“‘Tis not enough to keep the feeble up, but to support them after” William Shakespeare
*photo courtesy of: http://www.freenaturepictures.com/corona-sunset-2.php
Hi, all you Empowering Villagers!
I wanted to share a little bit of information about our newsletter that is available for you. All you have to do is put in your information in the box to the right of this post and you will be included in our mailing list for the newsletter.
What will you get out of this?
So, sign up today and start receiving The Empowering Voice! It will encourage you, uplift and inspire you to be your best self and to go out and…
Empower Your Village!!
I wanted to take the time to let you know that I have the opportunity to join some amazing women in a free telesummit called, Enlightened Mom’s Tele Summit. It is taking place on May 9-13, and the topics are amazing!! You are sure to gain so much from this week of talks.
I will be speaking about the importance of community in our lives…the concepts of community, the different types of community that are available and how you see yourself in your own community. I hope to encourage others to know that they are worthy of community, they have so much to offer and the community that will value and accept you is available. And much of it has to do with the energy that we are giving out and taking on….are we giving energy to those that are not supporting and encouraging our lives or are we giving our energy to those who WANT to see us succeed? It makes a difference…
So, take a moment to browse though the speakers and their topics, sign up for the free conference and show up the week of May 9-13…all online and in the convenience of your home (or wherever you and your computer may be!)
You will be enlightened!
Do you realize how important gaining resources and having someone to talk to is to MANY people out there?
It’s a life line, really… a place to go when you have exhausted all other resources and help. We typically wait until we are at the end of our rope and then reach out in desperation for someone to understand our situation, for someone to be that life line.
What if we already had connections and relationships built….what if we knew of a place we could turn when we needed a resource on our specific situation? Knowing this would be instrumental in helping us be better, choose better in that moment as a parent struggling to cope.
This is what I envision Empower Your Village being to you. Connection. Relationships. Empowerment.
I know there is much to be said about HOW we can empower…..the resources, the articles, the links, the coaching…but I want you to know WHY this site exists.
My passion to help people. Plain and simple.
I have always been driven to help others. From the new student that came to my 9th grade social studies class and didn’t know a person in the room to the mom with a challenging child that no one wants to talk to, let alone let their children join together in play time…I want to offer my hand, I want them to see value in themselves and their place in the world…and share that same value and worth to their children.
Having experienced both in my profession and in my personal life the challenges that can arise from parenting, I want to share and learn alongside others walking the same path.
Children are a gift…there is no doubt in my mind about that…and when we can see them as the gift that they are, and not defective and not an obstacle to anything that we may want to achieve, then we become happier, and our children, in turn are happier, as well.
So, think about this…do you have a need to connect, to gain resources and to build relationships with others on the path of parenting a child with specific challenges? Is this something that you could find value in? Is this something that you could see yourself sharing with others to encourage them on their path?
“Each of us is a being in himself and a being in society, each of us needs to understand himself and understand others, take care of others and be taken care of himself.” ~Haniel Long
Connection…what does it mean to you?
Is it maintaining a casual relationship with the people close to you geographically and close only to those willing to connect with you or do you go out of your way to make connection happen, making it a priority because you thrive on building relationships with others?
People come to relationships in various ways and for various reasons.
I have been reflecting this week on connections. I think when we lose someone close to us, we tend to do that….reflect. And even though I knew this in my head, my heart really grabbed it this week:
The most important thing that we can ever do is cultivate and maintain connections with other people because people are more important than anything else that we could hope to attain.
Some of us are fortunate to have many connected people in our lives and we really know who those people are when a crisis happens. I really know who those people are in my life after this past week of losing my grandmother….they are the ones that love you through everything, even when you can hardly hold your head up, they are there still loving you. True connections…
There are many people that come here, hardly able to lift their head, struggling to get through each day of the challenge of parenting a child with specific needs.
I hope that you find that connection, that true connection, here….and that you will feel safe, valued, honored and supported.
The challenge really can’t be avoided and for some it is a daily occurrence…this is the reality that some face each day. But you don’t have to go through it alone, you can know that what you are seeking can be found here with others on the same road that understand what you are facing each day. And even though the challenge is there, that isn’t the end of the story… you can gain the tools needed to face it with strength and with love.
All it takes is reaching out your hand and connecting….and know this, my hand is reaching out to you. Will you take it?
“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.”
~ Albert Einstein
Peace to you on your journey today-
All of us have labels that we have given ourselves or someone else has given us.
Some labels are quite useful or overall welcoming: creative, kind, friendly, intelligent….and some are not as positive but can be equally useful: reserved, active, expressive, inquisitive, special (and I say these aren’t as positive because they are sometimes used to describe a frustrating experience). Some labels, though, can be very damaging: shy, destructive, drama queen, high maintenance. Where do we get these labels? and why do we think they would be at all effective?
Labeling is also used in determining how we may describe someone or place them in a particular “box”, especially in the areas of special needs, fostering and adoption. Autism, ADHD, RAD, OCD…these are all labels that we put on children to help us understand them better. And they do help us…they do allow us to research certain areas of our children’s personalities, traits and behavior. They help to categorize the disorder.
I think the trick though, is not to categorize the child.
Yes, these disorders are real and they affect children every day and cause us, as parents, to scratch our head and wonder why? or more importantly, how? As in, How am I going to manage this?
I point that I am trying to make is that we don’t “manage” our children. We support, encourage, facilitate and learn along side them, but we don’t attempt to manage them. Think of a predominant label that has been placed on you….does it feel good or does it hurt? I was an extremely shy child and that is the first label that comes to my mind. I have spent years shedding that label and it is still there some 43 years into my life. I would not want to place that label on my children, although when my son is reserved, others give him that label or my daughter is particularly dramatic, she gets that label.
Having a need to place a child or adult, for that matter into some kind of box is what our society does. What I am asking is that we rethink that mode of communication. If a child seems to be shy, offer a hand or love to that child instead of labeling them as shy. Maybe they are overwhelmed socially…if so, get them out of the situation.
Nothing is more important than showing your child that their needs are important to you.
If a child is speaking loudly in public and they dismiss your attempts to speak quietly, they are sending you a message that they are overwhelmed. Pay attention to that message.
Children who are labeled with a disability are most definitely put into a box, just remember that they are people. And all people are not the same. They have differences, have passions and have desires that are separate from us and separate from their disability.
My belief is that the label is only helpful in describing the disability, not the person.
The label can help understand the disability better, but you have to take time with the person, to get to know THEM better. And it is SO worth your time.
I have literally spent a lifetime being around others with disabilities and those range from mild to severe, but the moments I was able to truly connect with them and see the passion that they have for life, were the most rewarding. To see a child that everyone was written off as unteachable, read stories and write words that were beyond his skill level….wow, unbelievable. And I believe that everyone has their WOW moments. Tap into it…take the time…you WILL be rewarded.
And you will learn to rejoice in the small things.
Foster parents are a needed resource in this world…that is a fact.
I know it, I have seen it and I have lived it. Children are born into some very dire circumstances and they have no other choice but to go and be where they are told to go and be. The other fact is this…they didn’t chose to walk that path. It is chosen for them and that is the reality of fostering a child.
When people look at a child that is the foster system, what do they see? Do they have pity or do they say, as I have heard over and over….”oh, I could never be a foster parent!” And the reasons that are given are interesting…”I would get too attached to them” or “I couldn’t give them back!” Yes, you do get attached to them and have that longing for them to be attached to you. But, in general, children that have dealt with early trauma, are going to have a hard time attaching to anyone. (another post) And…sometimes you may have to make the decision to give the child “back”, either for the biological parents to have another chance at connecting with their child or to another family that can give that child exactly what they need.
I think the real question that we need to ask ourselves is this….What can *I* do to help children that are in the system?
Sometimes it is taking children into our home, but sometimes it means “helping” in other ways….volunteering your time to a child or a parent or offering your skills to a family that may need just what you have to give, maybe giving monetarily or calling representatives to ask for more funding to keep our programs intact. Searching ourselves for that answer is very personal.
Parenting a child with early trauma is not easy…I will not mince words….it s not easy. But it doesn’t have to be a daily battle.
You can find a place of peace and contentment in your life with your child.
There are many paths and many “experts” that will give you advice and proclaim that their way is the right way to proceed. I say….listen to yourself. When you find yourself in a situation with your child that just feels bad and there’s no connection happening, step back and observe the situation….ask yourself what feels right to you. You have more power and answers within you than you realize. Trust that process and you will receive not only answers about how to move forward in parenting your children, but also answers about yourself, answers that will enable you to be a better parent, partner and friend.
I heard someone say once that, “Children are here to teach us more about ourselves and about situations that we didn’t even know existed”. This is so true as you are living and learning with children that have suffered trauma. They tend to bring out your trauma as well. And it’s okay….embrace this, use it as a teaching moment not only for your child, but for you as well.
“Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow,’ his name is today.” – Gabriela Mistral
Since focusing on on some key areas of needs in our families is my passion, I would like to discuss a little bit about each area, my thoughts and experience. Maybe this synopsis will give you an idea of where I am coming from in each area. Today I will discuss adoption and how it became an important aspect of my life.
I had heard of families adopting children, giving them a home and calling them their own…especially working with the special needs population, this can be quite prevalent. But it had never touched my life as personally as it did over 2 years ago. My husband and I decided to pursue adoption though the foster care system in the county that we were living at the time, after getting the okay from our son, that is! We fell in love and cared for our daughter for a few months through fostering and then she officially became our daughter through adoption…and now we just call her our daughter! We were so fortunate to be able to take a child that had been nurtured and cared for by very loving foster parents before us. Although the transition at first was challenging, she quickly settled into a very comfortable life with us as her family and we can’t imagine life before her or without her.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges…there are, many of them. She is a child with high sensitivities to sensory input and has the added challenge of experiencing several traumas in her very young life. This is hard for her to process and we proceed in each day as a new day, with new joys and new outcomes.
Another way adoption has entered our family is that my husband, who is not my 18 year old son’s biological father, adopted my son about a year after we married. This is actually how we became interested in adoption and considered as it a possibility for our other children. Through this adoption process, we came to truly understand what the word adoption really means.
Adoption is not only giving a child a home, a warm place to sleep, food in his belly and all the things that money can buy. No, it is more than that…it is giving your adopted child your heart, your joys, your sorrows and simply living life with them.
It is really a sacred connection that takes place.
You are connected, not by a biological connection, but by a conscious choice to love a child, no matter what the history of this child and no matter what may come from the connection. Yes, you are choosing to adopt a child, but it seems as though this child and the universe itself, has chosen this child for you, like it is destiny for the bond and connection to take place. That is what I mean by a ‘sacred connection’.
Having said this, there are challenges. Any time you take a child into your home that has had early trauma and it has affected their development, there will be obstacles to overcome. What I hope to offer you here are resources to overcome those challenges and to be the best parent you can be….and more importantly, to be able to see your child as the beautiful child that they are and to be connected to them in ways that will encourage peace in your home. In doing this, you will feel compelled to help others experience the same freedom. I have created a group for Empower Your Village to help you connect with others on the same journey. There are many of us attempting to make sense of this life of being adoptive parents….many who have been living it for a while and can offer so much to the conversation and many who are just starting out, but have an equal amount to give. Use this resource to your advantage! I know how hard it can be to find just 2 minutes to yourself….but if you find yourself at a place of needing a connection with someone walking the same journey as you, this is the place for you.
I believe that we are all in this together, creating that village that will honor children and will honor each other in each challenge and in each success.
The Gift of Life
I didn’t give you the gift of life,
But in my heart I know.
The love I feel is deep and real,
As if it had been so.
For us to have each other
Is like a dream come true!
No, I didn’t give you
The gift of life,
Life gave me the gift of you.
Peace to you as you enjoy this wonderful, sacred journey of adoption…and know that you are not alone….