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Be Great

A wise soul said something earth shattering to me the other day, when I asked about her recent changes in her life. She said “I didn’t want to just live a good life. I wanted to live a great one.” She also mentioned the importance of her daughters watching and the way she had hoped they would live their lives. Vibrantly ALIVE.

This got me thinking about all the things we settle for and the culture in which we create. Once you are at a certain age you are expected to “lay in the bed you made”.  You are expected to live a good life and not a great one. Go on living it because it is what you chose, and you no longer have another choice – or do you?

We are so driven by fear that we snuff out the dreams we are silently seeking to awake our sullen souls. We are afraid to hurt feelings, adjust the norm, seem selfish, and most of all – fail! We are told over and over again that the grass isn’t always greener on the otherside, but how do we know this is we never dipped a toe onto that other field? What if it was exactly what you were meant for, and it sets your soul on fire?

How often have you found yourself in a career that is no longer fulfilling but you you stay because of the thousands of dollars you spent on that degree? Or stayed in a friendship just because you have been friends since you were children, and wouldn’t that be horrible if you chose it no longer served you? Or a relationship you are stable in but don’t feel whole? Or a town you desperately want to  move from but don’t because it’s to late to meet new people at this stage of your life? And the list goes on and on and on …

What if you chose to no longer let fear lead you, but faith? The stir in your belly that has you yearning for more of something different. What if we listened to that more and less of what our cultures expectation of the hamster wheel mentality?

We look at those who are living vibrantly alive, as immature, unsettlers, that just can’t get their stuff together. What if they are really the only ones really living? While the rest of us sleep walk through life until we die with a eulogy of “he had a good life”. What about GREAT? What about great?

I’m personally, slowly, learning that nothing is impossible if you dare to go beyond dreams and others expectations. I am learning to trust in the process of what is meant for me, while daring to do things afraid. Pushing the boarders that life continues to create the longer we are alive.

I personally, want the world to remember I lived my life vibrantly alive, always seeking what set my soul on fire. Dancing on all the fields of grass, knowing, I dared to not only dream it, but brave it!

We are made for greatness. Don’t settle for good. Be brave- and let go of fear.

Be Great.

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Willing To Adjust

7F5702C0-2706-4628-99BD-7D735D6FD684I read a quote recently that was one of those feel good, picker uppers. Usually this is 100% my forte. However this particular quote I wanted to yell at and scream “ LIAR”.

It was “be you, the world will adjust”.

The pain staking truth is the world won’t adjust when you are different or hurting – you must adjust to the world. It will not stop when you are in despair, nor will it give you grace when you are at your very last nerve.

Almost twelve years ago this day, I had no idea the day I gave birth for the first time, that this beautiful baby boy, would gift me some of the very hardest lessons of my life. I was focused on my heart exploding, that I couldn’t even dream he would ever be my  greatest adjustment.

I have received some of the most judgemental and colorful “advice” over the years: “he is fine, you just spoil him”, “you over diagnosis because of what you do”, “you created this monster by giving him the world”, “if I was his mom I would ——-(insert ridgid judgement that is delivered as “help”)”. And then I have had the most support from the most unexpected sources with: “I see you”, “It’s so hard”, or they do something amazing and listen. All of which- the good, bad, and the ugly, have birthed my own adjustment into this world, and I would continue to support his.

To the outside world I may be that loud mom that has been advocating for her kid for years. People that don’t know me may wonder why I am so vocal, or such a pain in the butt. They may wonder why I don’t follow through at bringing him to appointments  or activities, when I make a stink about how his individualized educational plan is written. They may think when I mention I have a son with Autism, I’m trying to get their sympathy or manipulate the system. They haven’t lived a day in my shoes but will assume they could.

The truth is when I held my baby for the first time, I could not imagine the warrior he would make me, or the level of resilience I would have to face. I had already been a social worker and a elementary school teacher, and I thought I knew Autism. I also believed then that the world would adjust.

Listen closely – seriously all the way in: You have NO clue about Autism until you LIVE Autism.

And our greatest job as parents is to reach our children the tools to maneuver through life because the world will NOT adjust. This is a daunting task for our Autistic population.

When I am laying on the floor restraining my son who is cursing me out because he didn’t get his way over some minor thing,I remind myself, I will adjust.

When I am in public and he is making loud noises, or flapping, or cursing, and the world stares. I remind myself, eventhrough embarrassment, I will adjust.

When he gets older, more aware, not getting invited to certain things, wanting things in his own terms more, and pain stakingly stands out in a group, through worry and pain, I will adjust.

And the greatest gift I can award him is to know- he will adjust to. In his own way and on his own time. The world will not adjust for him.

I imagine these moments so hard for me to persevere and come out the other side, how it is for my son whose brain doesn’t function quite the same. What it will be like for him? Who will he become? What will move him to be a resilient warrior of life too?

Although I wouldn’t have chosen this life for him twelve years ago, I can’t imagine it any other way – simply because it was God intended.

Not all things perfectly made by the almighty is easy or for the faint of heart. In fact, some of our greatest accomplishments come from our biggest adjustments.

I will adjust.

So will he.

We both have God on our side.

I am seasoned in this area. I have diagnosed it and helped people through it. And still I have struggled.

I have everything going for me. A deep faith, an amazing family, friends that love me, a job that I feel needs me, and so much more. I am well educated, insanely positive, a damn good therapist, and live my life to love deeply. And still I struggle.

The ugly monster and his tricks. The days I can barely get out of bed, or the moments I wonder “would anyone really care?”. The pain unbearable. Silent and behind closed doors. Alone. The devils whispers nobody cares nor understands.

Even I had a hard time- a seasoned mental health professional- in going to my doctor when post- pardum depression had me thinking sucicial thoughts. Even I had a hard time telling my primary care physician I was so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed most days but knew I had too.

The stigma surrounding depression is much like mass shootings in this country. We hear another life lost to suicide and share on our social media feeds our thoughts and prayers. Yet silently, those of us in the muck of it- muddle through because our society demands us too. They expect us to figure it out and just “get happy”. Or … why don’t you just seek help or take medication? Or my favorite – you have such faith and love God – how could you feel this way?

I’m telling you world- as a woman with a great life, well loved, and in the mental health profession- it was incredibly hard for me. Imagine what you are asking of those that don’t have this background! You wouldn’t be telling someone with cancer to just get well already! You would have compassion and empathy. You’d hold their hand through chemo, and hug them tight.

I do not lie when I say I live and love life vibrantly and hard. However, I experience the pain of exsistence just as hard, and sometimes it swallows me whole. It doesn’t make me weak- it makes me a warrior.

Mediaction doesn’t work for me. I graduated therapy for now. I own my own tool box of coping skills (like writing, reiki, and prayer). I am healthy. I love the fresh air of the morning, and the sun shining on my face.

But I still struggle.

I don’t need your well wishes, I just need your compassion.

Love those around you- they may be silently struggling and needing you to be present with all of who you are. I am not talking your social media well wishes and a post of the sucicide hotline number pleas. They need YOU. Love them! Love them HARD. Iglnowledge the struggle! Say the I love you’s! As we have learned in the past week in the headlines- tomorrow is never promised- but this VERY moment IS and can make ALL of the difference in someone’s life.

Keep Pouring

D29E0D7E-7643-477D-AB4C-552E3437A6AE.jpegI am light. A hand crafted vessel purposely made for this earth. No other like me. I bring forth what the almighty has filled in me, offering it to you. I am not made of perfection, in fact I was perfectly made to be imperfect. Although you may see some of the most beautiful colors that line my core, you will also see the cracks that have made me human. The hardships of life that have seized their dark ways through my beautiful lining. I can either become the dark, or I can insist the light I was crafted with, take flight into these fractures. The best parts of me are grown from the dark I worked so hard to turn light.

It is the same for you. Our interaction with the world often tells us we are not made for what we wish, that we aren’t really good at anything, and never enough. The truth is it is easier to believe what the dark feeds us. It is easy to sit stagnant, and be comfortable in the ragged clothes we wear of “I can’t”. However, it is the biggest lie ever to be told my friend.

You see, you were made with kit gloves. Purposely crafted for a precise reason to be executed for light and change of the greater good. You were made to be enough because your creator IS the enough. How often can we sit and list what we are great at? Rarely. I dare you to try. However, if I asked you what you weren’t great at, I am sure you could provide me with a thesis. You need to flip the switch on this. You need to toss the ragged clothes of “I can’t”, and re-dress yourself with the beautiful, vibrant colors He originally dressed you with. When you were born in this world, and people coo’ed and ahh’ed at you- all they could imagine were the endless possibilities. You still got it! ALL the possibilities just waiting for you to believe that YOU CAN!

When you settle for all that you are not, you give up all that you are made to be. You become stagnant. The darkness loves nothing more than to steady you in your comfortable grey rags of fear and anxiety. There is no space for the light to flow. The vessel can’t move when it is completely filled up with dull lit oil. You must ignite what is meant to be given and pour it out. Pour out your rainbows of vibrant colors onto this world. We are all waiting.

On the days we have done our very best, and it seems like it wasn’t enough, we crack open feeling as if we failed. It is there, in our moments of hardship, we must choose to keep pouring. The energy must flow, we must keep giving, so that we can continue to be an open vessel to the one who fills our soul. So that the stranger standing next to you in line, or the kid you are trying to teach, (and so on and so forth), is SO enamored by your being, they are forever changed as a result of it. Yes. That my dear is the power in which you were made.

Our God. He needs you to keep pouring. No matter how broken your vessel may be, He has made you in this very space for a very intentional reason. Be willing to move. The world is waiting for you to arrive. Allow it to flow. Search for the beautiful linings you were made of, and treasure them. You weren’t made for spiritual rags, but spiritual riches.

You are more than enough. Which is why, my beauty, you MUST keep pouring!

When He calls

aimeesaratoga.jpgGod isn’t always where you expect. Nor is His calling for you ever stagnant. You want to know what your “true calling” is? Its growth. Spiritual, connectedness, growth, that you continue to evolve until you have reached your maximum potential in this life. Clearly, when I was eight and died, I had not reached mine. So here I am at forty-one pressing on my friends.

After a particularly hard week a few weeks ago, I went to my hometown church in hopes of finding solace. Instead I found a familiar and typical pull, that I am to seek Him elsewhere. This frustrates those I love around me, since we often get settled into a church community, and then I am moved by the holy spirit, to go some where new. It usually starts with a slight hint, which I have had for about a year now. Then, when I try to ignore the gentle pull, its a very clear urge of obedience. And I go. This happens not only with church, but people, places, and things. When it is no longer serving my purpose, I leave.

I entered into another difficult week following this. I was discouraged because I was not only in a difficult season of my life (anyone working in a school system can agree that the end of the year is always the hardest), but now my church home was no longer my calling. Luckily this was leading into a long weekend, which my husband and I planned to go away. My initial pull was to be in nature and connect with the universe. So that is exactly what we did, and headed to Saratoga Springs, NY.

On Sunday, I had planned to find Jesus near a waterfall, but it was pouring rain. Discouraged, I healed my soul with a tasty brunch. On our way back to the hotel, a few very friendly men greeted us with good mornings as they stood on the side walk by a sign. As we returned our greetings, we noticed a familiar sound coming out of the comedy club, it was worship music. I’d like you to know, on my way to brunch I had a moment when I noticed the comedy clubs door open, and thought who in God’s name is practicing stand up comedy at 9am on Sunday morning. I’ll tell you who my friends- Jesus is! So I kept walking. And walking. And saying to my husband things like, “Do you want to go to church since its raining?”, “Do you think they are Christians like us down there or some type of crazy comedy club cult?”. Finally my husband demanded we turn around and go back.

I preface this with, as a social worker, I hate to socialize in new places. I was anxious. I let my husband who is completely opposite, take the lead. I followed him into the comedy club and met Next Level Church. It was small and intimate. The pastor that day delivered to me exactly what I felt the Lord has been calling me to do. You see, it isn’t only church I have been feeling the tipping point about- its over many facets of my life. One being a yearning, and great desire to share the Jesus I know and love through my written word. The Pastor pointed out, if it is Jesus calling you to do something, you are either to rest in it, or to work at it. Resting in hopes Jesus will write my story isn’t going to happen. Working and making the time to write, I can do, and He can make the rest happen. His desire, his timing. Not only for what we know we are made for, but even in the small things of our daily life, as simple as church in a comedy club while on vacation.

Jesus is a wonderful comedian. The great reminder that it isn’t about the four walls I worship Him in, but about the relationship I align myself with. This can be done in my home, in my car, amongst friends over wine, at a hike in the forest, or by golly, in a comedy club.

He is also very serious. Humans don’t enjoy the word obedience. It is as if we are giving up our control and freedom when leaning into the word. However, even when I have had the lump in my throat of “MY GOD I don’t want to do this”, if Jesus is behind it, it always, ALWAYS, delivers exactly what I need.

So as you may have guessed the rain stopped after church. I went for that hike. I heard God speak to me while I walked up the river to the waterfall. I repeated a line that set my heart ablaze years ago, over and over in my head. It was: “set a fire down in my soul that I can contain, and I can’t control, I want more of you God, I want more of you God”. Warning- do not say this unless you mean it- because Jesus will absolutely do this. This is the sweet spot my friends. When you have no idea what our almighty God is up to for you, but it is always in your favor when you go blindly in faith.

When your core yearns for you to go, you go. When your have a knowing that a friendship or relationship no longer is serving you, let it end. When you no longer feel something is meant for you, it is not. Pray on it. Either wait or work. You must not only invite Him to move in your life, you must allow Him too. Even if this means a comedy club in a random town. He made that inner compass of yours, don’t second guess it.

As always, give yourself grace knowing He has made you perfectly as is. He loves you as so. He will wait until you get it right.

The wilderness is an unknown space, that beckons you in. A place we can’t see through to the other side to assure us safety, because of all the glorious mountains to climb and pines to walk around. We aren’t always prepared for the weather changes or the treacherous hike. Somehow, we take a deep breath and start walking the walk.

When He calls, I listen and deliver. His greatest desire is always my first priority. My obidence is often unwavering, but never comfortable. Which is my never ending human experience question: Why Lord is your calling never comfortable?

I wish I could always be obident to His desire in my pajamas from home, or with people that I already know and accept me. Instead He calls me by name out into the wilderness to experience the unknown.

I always found it interesting that devote Christians felt they could only associate themselves with other Christians. Years ago I remember a devoted Mom tell me she wouldn’t let her kids have a play date with another family because the Mom was an atheist, and the Father abandoned his Catholic faith. This to me speaks volumes of what is wrong with organized religion these days. For if Jesus took this stance He wouldn’t have had any followers! We learn from eachother by experiencing life beside one another. When we are immersed in one dynamic being the same, there is no room for growth. Growth happens to be the sweet spot of Gods glory!

My job isn’t to fill people with scripture and a wagging finger while saying things like “you should …”, my job is to live my life as an accurate reflection of Him, and inspire people to want to know the Jesus I know. Doing this “job” requires me to engage in discussions I may not want to have, and go to places/spaces I would rather not be in.

You see, I often suffer from extreme anxiety. The surge of it turns into a tidal wave of enmourous pain and suffering. It swallows me whole. Yet, you aren’t gonna find me hiding in a corner refusing to try. It’s not an option, and completely what the enemy is counting on me to do. Sometimes- I will pause- everyone has their limits, but I’ll always try.

I used to be the girl that never showed up. I made last minute lame excuses for not being able to make that dinner, or party. I’d say things like “I have enough friends”,or “they won’t get me”. Then one day out of a life experience, and pushing through anxiety, I realized life happens in the spaces we try to excuse ourselves from.  I decided to be a show upper, and to give people a chance. This requires a softness that my deeply empathic self often worries about.

I have not only watched God move within others, but He has continued to transform me. Little by little, I can see the path He had showed me being cleared of the obstacles I always declared were in the way.

Recently, a dear friend of mine said I couldn’t write these words in this space, and not expect people to feel a certain way or want to talk about it with me. This aligned with a sermon I had watched about how our anointings from God are our “usual” every day self, that we down play who we are. Why would anyone want to talk to me about Jesus- when I am average and broken too? My ability to hear the Lords voice is “normal” to me. The visions I see are no big deal. However, my “normal” could be someone’s break through, if I allow myself to rise to my ordained potential. The devil is counting on me to downplay my blessings. The devil is counting on me to be debilitated by my anxiety over my actions and intentions for God.

Lesson being: the most powerful things in life happen when we exceed what we thought was our potential, get out of our comfort zone, try our best in less desirable situations, and declare our existence in the gifts God has given us over the perceptions the devil is feedings is.

So when you are called out into the wilderness: GO. Embrace in the not knowing of what to expect, but knowing you will be a better person for it while obident to the God calling on you.

26908119_10155347841714639_9186842244593627689_n“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.”

I’ve been blessed by the kindest comments of people’s perceptions of me. “You are always so positive”, “You have quite the social life”, “People gravitate towards you”,”I wish I had the God you have”, “You are so lucky”, and so on and so forth. What an honor it is when peoples eyes gaze upon you with such uplifting ideals and values of your core. Sometimes these things are true, and others they are mere illusions.

What they don’t see is the day I am laying in bed wondering how I will survive it. My body aches so badly I can barely move. I am so exhausted, that espresso has no impact, and although I slept ten hours the night before, it felt like one. My stomach is off because it is being pumped with a handful of antibiotics that are wrecking havoc inside it. I feel like I have a fever, yet I don’t. The chills, the sweats, each take turn taking a dance within me. I feel faint and dizzy. My legs give out in public and I have to literally talk myself through from the door to the car. I am in a fog. My memory that was once known as the very best, is now often fuzzy and confused. All because a tic bit me, I had no bullseye, and had no clue for a very long time.

Thank God it has been found. Although the medical profession continues to not see it as the epidemic it is. They also think a thirty-day supply of antibiotics will “cure” it, and think it’s a new bite when it comes back in a few months or a few years. As it lingers in the body it gets worse and worse, and steals so much of what makes you wonderful. When untreated, it serves and copycats a million other “treatable” things, when in fact it’s not that at all.

I found this out about myself thanks to my very sick son. My oldest who has Autism, developed some extreme rage and behaviors. The psychiatric medications were like band aids, sometimes working, sometimes bleeding through. He was given a range of diagnosis, but nothing was quite fitting. For two years, I can confidently say, my biggest joy for my husband and I, was that we kept him alive. We took him to so many medical professionals that kept saying they couldn’t quite figure him out. His depression was severe for a child nine, and ten years old. Often he looked as if he was on the brink of a psychiatric break. Seeing as my degree is in mental health, I often beat myself up over the fact I could not pin point what I was seeing, or save him from all the pain he was in. For awhile there, I thought this was a lost cause, and that I would never see my true son again.

Those in my inner circle either hugged and loved me, or slowly backed away. Its true what they say, you find out who your true friends are in your hardest of times. You would think when you share with friends that your greatest achievement is keeping your kid alive, they would show up! Mental health issues are so confining, and lonely. If it was a physical disease, I am sure my doorbell would’ve been rung with dinner, or actually maybe not.  It was heartbreaking to learn that some only wanted to know you in the happy perspective, and not through the hard stuff. Value those that show up for the hard stuff! They are few and far between.

I learned the words PANDAS/PANS a few years ago when most thought it sounded crazy, and not a “thing”. This “thing” that the overall, the medical community still chooses to  question, and not treat correctly, is not only a thing- but nearly cost me everything! This past January 2018, my entire family tested positive for some type of co-infection, lyme, or strep- some with one, some with all. That is all FIVE of us- sick, living in Conneticut where Lyme disease was named- but what epidemic? My oldest with it in his brain, and the reason we were seeing such extreme concerns that we couldn’t figure out. We are all on long-term antibiotics thanks to an amazing doctor. The results have been life changing. I actually feel like I have my son back after two years!!! My daughter had lyme, co-infections, and strep so bad, that the doctor said she was a ticking time bomb of PANDAS/PANS too! My two youngest had strep all the time and I wondered why that was, with no answers from the medical community other than ten-day antibiotics! My personal symptoms of severe anxiety and depression that no antidepressant worked on in the past, now lifted. Sadly the doctors that actually treat this correctly, and the labs that test blood correctly, are all done out-of-pocket thanks to our corrupt medical system that is all about the money-making business, and not about the cure. I stand to wonder, what if a huge chunk of our mental health concerns could be simply cured by antibiotics what would that do to our pharmaceuticals and psychiatric departments? I had been tested for Lyme, seven times in the past, all negative, done by the least reliable but most common Lyme test given in the United States. That means, it was years I was being seen as negative for this disease, while it grew inside of me.

I have learned an abundant amount of lessons on this journey. My most important being, never giving up hope, or faith. Also, just because someone has a Dr. before their name, doesn’t mean they are fully informed, open to learning, or correct in diagnosing what is complex at hand. That I am stronger than I ever thought I could be, and that the power of prayer works. That although modern medicine can “cure” this, it is an ongoing roller coaster ride that I would not wish upon my very worst enemy.

Personally, I have been able to show up and give my all at a job that takes all of me, while being treated myself. This in itself, has floored me. I always thought I was weak and fragile. It is amazing how the worst storms of your life show you fragility isn’t an option when you need to be ironclad. Our house looks like a pharmacy dosing out insane amount of supplements and antibiotics. However, we are better, more present, and finally- FINALLY- able to leave the house. Most importantly, I not only know the what — but the WHO — matters most.

And the WHO still see me as positive, loving, and wonderful. While holding me while I am broken and a mess.