Uncategorized, autism, faith, Morgan, family

The Elephant in the Room

When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” – Creighton Abrams

Years ago, I worked as an assistant to a bookkeeper.  She was top notch. Although the top of her desk was covered with endless stacks of tasks to be addressed, she could easily reach in and find whatever was requested.  Still, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t put things that weren’t urgent in a drawer.  She said, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Keeping it all on her desk, kept her conscious of what was next.

It was mindboggling to me how Mrs. Juanita could work on the task at hand, while so much was staring back at her.  Just seeing her desk made me hyperventilate.  Yet, each day she approached it all, calmly and systematically.  She was always pleasant, and had a great sense of humor.  I had to know her secret.  When I asked how she did it, she smiled and said “How do you eat an elephant?”  She saw my puzzled look, and answered her own question, “One bite at a time.”  My youth and impatience just couldn’t swallow it at the time, but today I’m thankful for the living example of peace she offered me.

Dumbo Rider

As the parent of a young adult with disabilities, I’m aware of “The Elephant” of needs, now and in the future, that I cannot possibly address in their entirety today.  I can’t act as if they don’t exist.  But the reality is, there is a daily limit to my mental digestion.  Knowing my appetite is better on some days than others, and Morgan is invariably going to throw in a squirrel or two, I hang on tightly to my sense of humor.  I’m learning to address each day with joy and purpose, as it comes.  I start with a prayer, a fresh breath, and accomplish what I can, when I can.

Elephant Cup

With the right perspective, even an elephant can be digested in bite sized pieces.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy

 

 

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autism, faith, Morgan, Uncategorized

The Blue Side of the Rainbow

“April showers bring May flowers.” – Thomas Tusser

“April is Blue” – Morgan Vice

Morgan assigns each month a color.  During the month, she collects and creates things of that color.  January is white, because of snow.  February is red and pink.  March is green,…  We do an autism awareness event at the Bluebird Cafe’ each year in April, so Morgan has decided April is blue.  One day recently, she noticed there are “Lots of Blues!”  So she created this blue rainbow pictured below. 😉

Blue Rainbow Small

And look at this “Cool Bluebird Clock” we found to match her Bluebird hat. 🙂

Bluebird Clock Small

After several rainy blue April days, mom is ready for the “Rainbow Month” of May, with all it’s flowers blooming.  Whenever I’m on the blue side of the rainbow, I remind myself that everything is only for a season.  Time is always ticking, bringing a new day, and new light.

I CAN WAIT

WITH THE CLOUDS AND ALL THE THUNDER

SOMETIMES I CAN’T HELP BUT WONDER

IF THERE WILL EVER BE ANOTHER SUNNY DAY

AT THE END OF MY ROPE

HANGING ON TO WHAT’S LEFT OF HOPE

BUT THE WEATHER’S ALWAYS CHANGIN’

I CAN WAIT

 

WHEN I’M ON THE BLUE SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

IT CAN BE SO HARD TO SEE THE LIGHT

BUT SOMEWHERE I KNOW THE SUN IS SHININ’

AND ALL THE OTHER COLORS ARE IN SIGHT

 

 SOMETIMES CALENDERS AND CLOCKS

TEND TO BE MY STUMBLIN’ BLOCKS

ONCE AGAIN I COME UP SHORT AND ONE DAY LATE

THEN A SECOND HAND GOES WHIRLIN’ BY

BRINGS A HINT OF GOLDEN SKY

SO TIME IS NOT MY ENEMY

I CAN WAIT

WHEN I’M ON THE BLUE SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

IT CAN BE SO HARD TO SEE THE LIGHT

BUT SOMEWHERE I KNOW THE SUN IS SHININ’

AND ALL THE OTHER COLORS ARE IN SIGHT

I CAN WAIT

by: John Edd Thompson & Tammy Vice (c) 2002 BMI

Available on iTunes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope,

Tammy Vice

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Chains and Rainbows

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Each year, our family holds an autism benefit for Autism Tennessee at the Bluebird Café.  This April will be our sixteenth year.  The event was named “Breaking The Chains”, after a song that was written for our daughter, during a time I had so many questions about her and her future.

You know that old saying, “Be careful what you pray for.”  I remember a time when Morgan seemed to have no interests in anything we presented, and we had tried everything.  She was diagnosed with autism when she was 3 1/2 years old.  Below are the lyrics to the song, a prayer, to be able to connect with her.  One of the lines is “open your eyes to the colors of rainbows”.

Help Me Break Those Chains

 How can I reach you so that I can teach you

Open up the world and put it in your hands

Cast out those shadows, replace them with meadows

How can I help you finally understand

There is a place out, I need to show you, please don’t hide

 

Help me break those chains that hold your precious mind

Like Rapunzel in her castle, please let down your golden hair

I need to climb and join you so that I can find

That something that’s missing between here and there

Help me break those chains

 

Open your eyes to the colors of rainbows

Open up your ears to hear the whippoorwills

Come out of that midnight, reach into the sunlight

Feel the warmth that greets you as your climb those hills

Taste the sweetness of each day, together we will find a way

 

Help me break those chains that hold your precious mind

Like Rapunzel in her castle, please let down your golden hair

I need to climb and join you so that I can find

That something that’s missing between here and there

Help me break those chains

Tammy Vice J Rees Music BMI (c)

Now Morgan is 23.  Education through the Arts has played a major role in opening the doors of communication.  I call her my event planner.  She is always about the Next Big Thing, and our house looks a lot like an art gallery.  She assigns each month a color and theme.  March was green, and “rainbow kites”.  We paint a scene on our sliding glass door to ring in the new month.

The rainbow is a promise.  There are still countless things I don’t know, so I’m thankful I do know  The Rainbow Maker.  🙂

Until Next Time,

Know the Hope!

Tammy

 

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autism, faith, family, Morgan

Keeping Life Meaningful

Atrophy – A wasting away, a gradual decline in effectiveness or vigor due to underuse or neglect.

Every now and then, I need to revisit WHY we do all we do.  It’s not about being busy.  It’s about staying engaged in community, giving and receiving joy.  It’s about living our lives with purpose.  Just as a muscle will atrophy from lack of exercise, a person’s spark for life will decline and waste away if meaning cannot be found.  There is a human need to be recognized and relevant.  The more I include Morgan, the more Light I see in her.

morgan-mom-program

Since Morgan exited school last May, my biggest concern has been how to keep life meaningful for her.  Knowing that college, marriage, and the other norms of life are not in her future (short of a miracle), I continually pray to be able to provide things that bring quality and enrichment.  Having a schedule is imperative to keep down her anxiety, but having “Too Much Schedule” can be equally stressful.  We’ve been on and off the treadmill of activities, and we’re learning, it’s all about striking a healthy balance.

Once upon a time, in the Hundred Acre Wood, when asked whether it was time to WORK or PLAY, Winnie the Pooh replied, “YES!”.  Following the wisdom of Winnie, we do a little of both, and Morgan has no problem letting me know when she’s “Busy Relaxing”. 😉

job-small    raptors-bowlingbusy-relaxing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Morgan works a couple of hours each week at a local sandwich shop, and has her list of chores at home.  She volunteers once a week, helping her Papaw with Meals on Wheels, and her Sunday school teacher put lesson plans together.  She enjoys piano lessons, special needs sports, social activities, and Sunday school.  Together, we enjoy music, art, and baking on occasion.  Recently, we’ve both become part of an Adult Friends Choir at church that performs for assisted living centers in our community. And we have one day a week that NOTHING is planned, except “Staying Right Here” at home.  Image result for winnie the pooh quotes

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice

 

 

 

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autism, family, Morgan

Visiting IF-ville

“If you worry too much about what might be, and wonder too long about what might have been, you will ignore and completely miss what is.”  From the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

In my early years of parenting Morgan, I remember visiting If-ville on several occasions.  Every time I saw another child on the autism spectrum making bigger strides, I would question our course.  I would question what might have been, if we’d had access to an earlier diagnosis, if we could have afforded more therapy, if we’d had more knowledge of the best practices,…  I found myself repeatedly mulling over missed opportunities and bygone possibilities.  It was a lot like riding on the roundabout with the Grissw0lds, 

It’s been quite a while since I visited IF-ville.  I found it to be an enormous waste of time.  It also created lots of unnecessary baggage that I don’t have the energy to lug around anymore.

Finally realizing our journey is, and should be, uniquely our own, has allowed me to genuinely celebrate the success of others, without feeling like I missed the mark.  It has freed me to celebrate and enjoy Morgan for the remarkable young woman she is.  I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Below Morgan is pictured with her nutcracker collection.  That’s my girl! 🙂

I do occasionally look to the future “what if’s”, and new possibilities we might want to visit, when the time is right for her.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Mist – Judged

Morgan has two dolls now that she enjoys taking on outings at times.  She has named them “Baby Doll” and “Baby Boy”.

babies

She took Baby Boy to church for the Christmas Eve Candlelight service, because it was about Baby Jesus.

candle-3

Earlier that day, we were walking Baby Doll in the misty drizzle. I was holding an umbrella to cover Morgan and me. A well-meaning motorist pulled up beside us, offering another umbrella. I told her we were fine, but she insisted we take it. It was then I realized she thought the baby was real, that Morgan and I were choosing to cover ourselves, and not the baby.
Sometimes you just don’t have the energy, or the inclination, to explain things. I smiled, took the umbrella, covered the stroller and waved goodbye, leaving her to think she had rescued the situation. What she must have thought of us, and later, shared with her friends. Life with Morgan is never boring.

walking-baby-doll

Until next time, stay warm and dry out there. 🙂

Know The Hope,

Tammy

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autism, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

When Words Hurt

Recently, while Morgan and I were walking down an aisle at Walmart, we noticed a toddler fussing with his mom.  Just as we passed them, the little guy yelled, “NO!”  Morgan whipped around and said, “Oh Baby!  Do Not Do That!  You Scared Me!”  Needless to say, he stopped mid yell, eyes wide open, mouth shut.  Mom was pleased.  I blushed.  We both shared a knowing smile.  Whew.  With Morgan, what comes up, comes out.  Thankfully, this was a positive for everyone, even the startled toddler. 😉

One of the most difficult challenges for Morgan is something we call “trigger words”.  While her response to the child in Walmart was kind of appropriate, her response to these triggers can be anything but.   I’m beginning to understand that each of these words and phrases bring back an unpleasant memory for her.  Hearing them puts Morgan back in that moment, as if was happening right then, causing a knee-jerk reaction.   Unfortunately, these words and phrases are a part of our everyday conversation and they come up often.  They can quickly bring a pleasant interaction with her to an end.  When helping her develop new relationships, and greater independence, they continue to be a major roadblock. 

fashion-show-8

The following is a short list of her trigger words and phrases; Choice, Hour, Looks Like, Sounds Like, Tickle, Difficult, Typical (words that have the “icle” sound), Fine, Something Else, and the most recent is the word “OK”.  OK, as you can imagine, this is hard to keep up with for those of us who know Morgan.  A new friend is certain to step on one or more of these when trying to get to know her.  Morgan’s reaction is to sternly say, “Oh, Do Not Say That!” or “You Hurt Me!” leaving her new acquaintance very bewildered. ;-/

I remember one family vacation where the word “hour” kept coming up on a very long car trip.  Morgan would yelp.  Just when we’d get her calmed down, someone would say it again.  We were so exhausted from the fallout, we all got the giggles.  I threatened to head-bonk anyone who said it again, including myself. 

fashion-show-gold-dress

We welcome any educated or creative ideas, if they exist, to help Morgan cope with the words that hurt.  In the meantime, we keep a thesaurus handy.  To loosely quote a mom friend of mine, ” There is no FBI agent, or Homeland Security team,  more able or driven to flush out the culprit, and secure the area of concern, than a mom on a mission.” 😉

Helping the world see the Morgan I know and love, helping them see beyond these barriers is my daily prayer.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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