Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

Rise Above

I have not been myself emotionally for about a month now (all is well here at home right now, thank God, we are Blessed). There are things that are happening in the world that have angered me, and there were days that I just wanted to speak my mind, and then get off of social media, and never come back. I also realized that it’s not enough anymore to just ignore, remove myself from groups, stay quiet, and scroll past. I’m not going to do that because the problems won’t go away.

It’s NOT okay to be rude. It’s NOT okay to ridicule anyone. It’s not okay to spew vitriol. If you don’t like someone move on. If you don’t care for your leader, exercise your right to vote, don’t perpetuate hatred, animosity, and negativity, because you’re falling right into their pit of ugliness. Find another way, a positive way to express yourself.

Rise above.

Luckily, I stumbled across this beautifully written piece by a person I admire, and I gained a healthier perspective on how to conduct myself, because anger, and hostility will never ever work.

So enlighten yourself by opening the link below, and we all, one person at a time, CAN and should make a difference.

A clip from Oprah’s piece:
https://www.oprahmag.com/…/a25401249/oprah-coming-together/…

“In moments of meditation and reflection, I try to take the cosmic view, imagining our world from the vantage point of the stars. All of us here on earth demeaning each other, thinking that skin color, ethnicity, or territory is a reason to devalue another human; killing the “other” for how they look, how they worship, how they speak, how they act. For simply being.

We’re losing what it means to be civilized. We’re losing respect for lives other than our own.” (Oprah)

Posted in Atttitude, Autism, Disney, Disney Parks, Special Needs, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World Resort

“Leave Me Alone!”

If I may preface this Post with a brief word about judgement.

Judgement is a natural instinct, I don’t care who you are, we’re all guilty of it, and we’ve all passed some during the course of our lives. The challenge here is to try to stop yourself before you act, and do any more potential harm. You can’t get your words back. You can never repair the damage, because at the end of the day it’s about how you made that person feel.

Recently I took my son on vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, his favourite place on Earth, and ours too, because that is the place where we have seen the greatest developmental gains, both spontaneous, and gradual. We’ve seen his independence thrive, his sensory limitations expanded, his adaptive skills increased, and everything in between, so yes, we try our best to get him there as often as possible because the joy that radiates from him when there, is magnanimous. Just take a closer look at the photo of him on his way to Walt Disney World Resort.

It was there that he learned proper dining etiquette, and how to wait in lines (we’re up to 30 minutes now), and it was there that we are always made to feel at home by the caring, helpful Cast Members (that’s what Disney employees are called). But, it wasn’t always so easy, or straightforward.

I clearly remember the days when we had a card for a special accommodation to attractions, and we were judged by others in line because my son’s disability is not clearly visible until you begin to really observe him. I was the mom who had little cards printed up explaining his disability because I was truly interested in educating others, and this helped me save my voice from repetition, but most importantly, it saved my son’s dignity. He may not be verbal, but his comprehension is close to his age level.

So, yes, I was and still am his greatest advocate, and my antennae are on high alert for any unfair stares, and/or comments, but I always try to handle uninformed people with care, because it’s not their fault that they do not know about autism. So I can’t judge them, and I won’t. Life is not always about us after all, and not everyone is affected by disabilities.

But, last week, I learned something new about my son. He does have a voice other than through his art, and his music.

He spoke up.

We were lined up at a kiosk at Epcot to pay for something, and while he stays close to me, while I am paying, he tends to swagger from leg to leg, and do odd things with his hands, and he may babble a few words.

Until I heard a voice behind me from a woman who quite harshly asked him, “what are you doing?”

His response, “leave me alone!”

So, while this may not have been the best response to the woman, it gave me great hope, because he actually advocated for himself.

At that point, I turned, smiled, and briefly explained about my son, to which her reply was mockery through sneers at us.

We just walked away.

It was the best thing to do.

My job now? I have to teach my son the proper language in dealing with comments that ruffle him, because “leave me alone” is harsh, and inappropriate.

So please, while it’s easy to judge, try to derail from it, by thinking that we all have feelings, and that we may all do things differently from each other.

If you can’t say something nicedon’t say nothing at all.” – Thumper

Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

The Power of a “Like”

What is it we are all seeking by being on social media?

Validation? Friendship? Making money? Adoration? Popularity?

What?

Do we all really know what happens when “Like” is clicked?

It’s a lot deeper than we think. When people “Like” our posts, it gives us affirmation, and a feeling of validation, and it also has a lot to do with the feeling of popularity. Some people need that. It’s like a thirst, a craving, a need. And I believe that’s dangerous. As adults, most of us know how to deal with controlling this, and putting this feeling in its place, and carrying on with what’s really important in our daily lives.

But for some, it’s not that easy. It becomes a competition, a race. It also becomes about who liked what, and how much. Some people cannot control what happens to them when they see someone else with dozens of “Likes” and that’s when it gets complicated, and often time, confrontational. That’s when private messaging begins with accusations and harassment. They don’t want to see another person getting ahead, or gaining attention, because they think, for some reason, it will detract from them. Sadly, the anonymity of the computer equips some people with the gaul to intimidate, harass, and threaten other people.

Sad and alarming.

Here’s something else which is quite disturbing. “Likes” are important to the social media platform people use. Did you know that computer algorithms are compiled from “Likes” and Personality Tests?

From a recent study: “With just 10 likes, the algorithm would know you better than a work colleague. With 150 likes, it would know you better than members of your immediate family, and with just 300 likes, it would know you better than your spouse.” (Branwell Moffat)

The reasons listed above are two fairly serious reasons why we need to re-evaluate the power of the “Like” feature, and I personally, am pleased that Instagram is dealing with this.

For our relationships, our sanity, and for our mental health as adults. And more importantly for the young people who are on these platforms attempting to garner popularity, and who are not equipped with the tools to properly deal with rejection, with bullying, and lack of popularity.

I’m more concerned with young adults and teens. I’m concerned about what they’re seeing online. I’m concerned about who is messaging them, and what they’re being told. I’m concerned about how young adults compare themselves to those who have huge followings, and hundreds of “Likes” and how they’re dealing with all of this privately. For some reason, social media with young adults, and teens has become incredibly influencial, but sadly not always for the right reasons. If you perform a quick online search about teen suicides, you’ll be shocked to find many are the result of pressure from online exchanges.

I can’t wait to see how the emotional climate will shift when Instagram shakes things up a bit for everyone.

 

 

Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

The Grass Seems Greener on the Other Side

My daughter posted this last week, and it stopped me in my tracks.

Facebook for some, is a place where they choose to express themselves. For others, it’s a place to find support and solace. Many people use this platform to post highlights of their life, which others may interpret, and often do, as bragging, or even unreal. Everyone has their own reason for sharing what they do.

I use Facebook to highlight my life, mostly my ups, a few funnies, a bit about Andrew, and rarely my downs. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have challenges, and that I didn’t struggle, and worked super hard to get to where I am. Many of my choices were bang on the money, and others not so much.

It’s all about what everyone wants to post, and we, as followers and/or friends, need to respect that, and not make assumptions that someone’s life is a bowl of cherries, just because they choose to share all their gatherings, vacations, and me times, and all that. Alternatively, don’t come down hard on people for voicing their politics, or sports teams, and all that. They are emphatic about their claims, and that’s alright! It’s just folks doing their thing, posting what matters to them, and that’s it!

But mostly, when someone experiences success with a personal goal, we must all remember the message in this photo, and that, that person probably went through thick and thin to get to where they are.

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Uncategorized

Disney Cast Members

Recently, a poignant story came out about an autistic boy’s positive experience with a Disney Character at Walt Disney World Resort. I must admit, this is not a unique experience amongst guests with special needs at “The Place Where Dreams Come True”. It’s commonplace, as Disney continually strives to afford all guests as enjoyable, enriching, and as inclusive a vacation experience as possible — and to this very day, I can honestly say that every single Disney vacation holds a unique and special moment, and compassionate accommodations for our son that ensured he had a magical visit.

So, this is why…

  • to Winnie-the-Pooh who was easy-going about Andrew nuzzling against his snout…
  • to Buzz Lightyear who captured and maintained Andrew’s attention in mere seconds…
  • to Simo, our delightful server at ‘Ohana who knows exactly what to bring Andrew and when…
  • to Eeyore who lets Andrew pull off his tail and thanks him for noticing…
  • to the Guest Relations Cast Member who nods with understanding with no further explanation…
  • to Donald Duck for not losing his feathers when Andrew stepped on his big, yellow webbed feet…
  • to Cinderella for her feather-light embrace and the first girl that Andrew smiled at…
  • to Mickey Mouse for noticing Andrew’s shyness and for stepping out of the tent to tickle Andrew’s feet and make him giggle…
  • to the countless Cast Members for making us feel like a ‘normal’ family…
  • to the Cast Member who spotted us on the Monorail platform and who came over with Mickey Mouse stickers and a set of FastPasses…
  • to the place where Andrew told me he loved me and gave me a peck on the cheek for the first and only time in 2012…

Great customer service with The Walt Disney Company stems from their  “Four Keys”, which guarantee exceptional Guest experience – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Experience!

They’ve unlocked the magic when it comes to customer service.

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Posted in Attitude, Autism, Decluttering, Disney, Jackie's Adventures, Life

FREE At Last!

The biggest mistake I ever made was the ‘art of collecting’ and storing things in boxes when I first got married. I actually thought I was demonstrating organization. Everything was important, everything mattered and everything was tied to a special memory – even the tiniest piece of paper filled with doodles opened a flood of memories while learning about Louis Leakey in university.

I was the person, who as a kid, felt sorry for any kind of candy wrapper, or scrap of paper and who would stuff the wrapper in a box, between pages in a book, or a coat pocket. I felt sorry for a piece of paper and what would become of it, so imagine my anxiety when recycling programs came about and the great relief of the emergence of fancy storage boxes.

I saved everything. Even receipts from our meals at Disney. I’m not kidding. It was, after all, a great example of explaining how to keep track of Disney Dining Plan Meal Credits, which, at the time was really important.

But, at some point, after the move to our second home, after our kids began to get older, there was a shift, and all those boxes of ‘things’ began to cause me great grief. I would think of the closets, and the piles of books and papers and bags of memorabilia which I just HAD TO HAVE at the time, but would now send me into a panic. My closets were filled, organized, but filled and sadly, excessive.

But, there was a problem, I was physically exhausted from being up most of the night with my son and his nighttime behaviours for fifteen years. Fifteen years of walking around like a zombie during the day, trying to catch a wink here and there, fifteen years of struggling with my weight and mobility and yo yo diets which left me anemic and unhealthy. The struggle was real and the motivation at an all time low. I just had no energy, so all I did, was to focus on what I loved to do, something that fed my soul and boosted my moral. For me, that was anything related to Disney. And then came the internet and chat rooms and social media and cyber-friends and the distraction was massive and it took me away from my task at hand and made and continues to make me very happy.

Over the next few years, we would attempt to clear ‘the piles’, but stuff still had a way of creeping into the house- well I was the one who brought it all in, I’ll take the onus.

I would bag stuff, I would donate it, I would run things over to schools and shelters, but that wasn’t enough and those donations did not even make a dent in the clutter that lurked around my home and that kept coming in. This was all I began to talk about with family and friends, even more so than my chatter about Disney and this is when I knew this was a huge problem that had to be dealt with.

Something else had to happen. I wasn’t getting very far stuffing bag upon bag for donation. My biggest problem, was that there were items that couldn’t be stuffed into a bag, such as thick binders and books and papers and frames and you name it. So, I decided to rent a residential bin and to set a time limit. This, for me, was the only way to get anything done because I paid for the bin and didn’t want to send it back empty.

So there it sat for ten days and with each purge, I felt a release. With each toss, I felt a sense of freedom and more importantly control. As the house began to open up, I felt a growing momentum to let go of all those things which were burdens and as I did, I felt more free and strong. When they came to pick up the bin, I actually felt a pang of panic because of not having the luxury of being able to toss something out so easily.

This had a huge impact on me and I vow, that, because of the immeasurable anxiety the clutter and junk had on me, I vow, to never bring in another item on a whim. I vow to let go of something when I do bring in another item, no matter what. Otherwise, I’ll be in this same position before I know it, and I cannot and will not live like that!

I don’t need knick knacks, I don’t need new pots, or pans, or coffee makers, or irons, or things to stuff in bowls, or containers filled with sand or shells, or even testimonial mugs – I have many, many mugs. Years ago, I paid good money for a few cooking pots and small appliances and they’ll do their magic until their end. I won’t visit those home stores which will tempt me to buy this or that, I don’t need anything. What I have serves its purpose and I’ll never be able to make my house look like the pages of a magazine, or what have you. I’d rather save my money for what truly makes me happy, and that’s travel, experiences and making memories.

Now, I love my empty corners, tabletops and shelves because they give me a sense of peace and make me feel in control. Best of all, dusting is a breeze.

That’s what works for me.

The 20 yard residential bin rental was from “Bin There Dump That” which I thought was at a very reasonable cost, and I highly recommend this company. For me there was no other way.

I hope you remove the clutter from your life, because it’s very liberating and empowering.  And now, I can proudly state that my household ‘To Do List’ for 2018 is finished. For the FIRST time in forever, I don’t have that nagging feeling that I have to do this or that, and I can now focus on my daily and weekly tasks at hand.

I can’t express how great that feels.