communication, Love, Uncategorized

What Did You Say?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. They listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen Covey

Recently I attended a women’s retreat in Alabama. The highlight for me was a conversation that happened because one of the speakers, Tammy Tkach, challenged us to listen to others without interrupting.  She said let someone else tell you their story, and even though you may be tempted to interject yours, don’t.  Just listen.

During a break, I looked across the table, and there sat Marguerite.  I asked where she was from.  She said, Baton Rouge.  I nodded, kept my mouth shut, and continued to listen.  She grew up south of Baton Rouge.  She met her husband, while in college there, and moved to the area.  I smiled, leaned in, and kept listening.  She had taught middle school for 30 plus years, and is now retired.

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know.  But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama 

Next came the gem of her story.  She told me other teachers would always ask her why her students were so well behaved, why they followed her directions, and stayed in line.  She said it was simple.  When someone was misbehaving, she didn’t yell at them across the room.  She motioned them to come to her.  She would have a private conversation with them, asking them to tell her what they were doing wrong.  She asked them why they were doing it, to help them think about what they had done.  Then she would say,  “Now are you going to do that again?”  This gave them the opportunity to make their own decision and be responsible for their actions.  As she shared, I could hear the love and respect she had for each child, the lesson of respecting others she was passing on to them.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” Bryant H. McGill

Thank you Tammy, for the challenge.  Thank you Marguerite, for your story.  A great lesson for this mom who is always learning.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

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autism, family, holidays, joy, leap of faith, Love, Morgan, risks and rewards, Uncategorized

Family Gatherings

“I am brave. I am bruised.  I am who I’m meant to be.  This is me.” – Lettie Lutz in The Greatest Showman

Reconnecting with family can be very joyful; going over old memories, catching up on hugs, sharing what’s new,…  but for Morgan, it can also bring a lot of anxiety.  A couple of the hallmarks of autism are the difficulties with social interaction and communication.  This is partly due to the inability to understand other people’s thoughts and feelings.

Not saying family is scary, but whenever any large group of relatives come together, there are numerous opportunities for things to go awry for the best of us.  For Morgan, “too many friends” for “too long”, with no understanding of when the shindig is going to wrap up,  can make her “all done” much earlier than the rest of us.  For this reason, in the early years, I became more and more weary of family gatherings.  Little by little, I backed off, encouraging everyone else to carry on without Morgan and Mom.

Now Morgan is 25.  Her cousins are grown and married, with kids of their own.  We’ve missed a lot of years.  Since her dad and his sisters all have summer birthdays, we decided to gather to celebrate.  This time, to relieve my anxiety, we called ahead with a game plan.  We had the conversation with family, letting them know that Morgan may have to come for a short time, and then take a break.  And It wouldn’t be because anyone did anything wrong.  It would just be the best way for everyone to have a good time.

   Peggy Jackie and Rudy.JPG Rudy and his sisters

Morgan meeting her new cousin, who lives in Canada now

We booked a hotel nearby, where Morgan and I could retreat when needed.  We really enjoyed seeing family again.  When she was “all done”, we left dad to relax and continue catching up with everyone.  We went for a swim, took walks, rides, and naps, and came back ready to visit some more.  She told me twice that weekend, “I doing a good job.  I’m trying to be brave.” 🙂 She did do well.  I’m thankful for how far she’s come.  I’m thankful for learning to drop the veil, and be brave enough to have the conversation, so we can just be ourselves.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable visit.

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy Vice and Family

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caregivers, faith, family, joy, Love, Uncategorized

Nothing Up Her Sleeve

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” 1 John 4:16

When I was young, some of my favorite memories were spending time at my grandma’s house.  There was nothing extraordinary about the visits.  Every day was pretty much the same. She was either cooking, washing, cleaning, chasing my cousins and me, tending to my aunt Laura Mae, or ironing clothes for “customers”.

Grandma Edmonds was a “One Woman Show”.  She kept one of those big old family bibles open on her kitchen table.  I’d see her sit down from time to time to sift through it quietly.  Come to think of it, that was the only time I remember seeing her pause from her labor.  Day in and day out, that was her life.  Even with all the busyness, there was a peace in her house.  I loved thumbing through the pages of that old bible, looking at all the pictures, hearing her whistle old hymns from the kitchen, while she baked.   I felt safe.  I felt loved.  The song below was written about those memories.

Grandma Edmonds’ Daily Bread

    Grandma Edmonds' BibleFamily Bible 1 John 4

Pictured above – Grandma Edmonds’ Family Bible

Before all of us grandkids came along, Grandma Edmonds had raised my mom, and four other children, on her own.  Her daughter, Laura Mae, had physical and intellectual disabilities, due to spinal meningitis.  It was clear to see that caring for Laura Mae was a labor of love for my grandma.  I remember her speaking softly and sweetly to her, while she fed her.  She’d tell her how pretty she was when she combed her hair.  She’d gently rub her arms and legs to relax her muscles.  Laura Mae was safe.  Laura Mae was loved.

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, … We love God because He first loved us.”    1 John 4:18,19

Laura Mae ChairLaura Mae and Mamaw

My Aunt Laura Mae

Laura Mae Bed

From my grandma, I learned the value of every life.  I learned that I can do whatever I need to do, with joy.  I understand that nothing is accomplished by wishing, but prayer and little elbow grease can bring about some amazing outcomes.  There are no fairies, but there are plenty of angels among us.  The stories in that old bible are not fairytales.  They are practical, factual, powerful words of life.  There was no magic up my grandma’s sleeve.  Although, Love IS a miracle.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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family, Uncategorized

A Cardinal, A Squirrel, And a Wake Up Call

“Call your mother. Tell her you love her. Remember, you’re the only person who knows what her heart sounds like from the inside.” ~Rachel Wolchin

Recently, I was on the phone with my mom.  I was in the middle of telling her something I thought was important at the time, and she stopped me to let me know she saw a cardinal and a squirrel on the ground near the bird feeder.  🙂

I love phone calls with my mom. I know there are always going to be a few conversation detours. I hear about her latest trip to the store, if there were any good deals, how friends are doing, and what they’re up to. She’ll tell me which chores she’s gotten done, and how much more there still is to do. During flower season, she keeps me updated on what’s been planted, repotted, and how much rain is in the rain gauge.

I enjoy our Friday morning visits over a cup of coffee, while Morgan chimes in on almost every sentence.  We laugh, shrug, and shake our heads, rarely completing a thought.  We end our visits with a hug, a kiss on the cheek, and a promise to call again soon.

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We celebrate my mom’s 78th birthday this year, and I’m realizing just how important these conversations are, whether they’re about something I need to tell her, or just about a cardinal and a squirrel.  I love you Mom.  I’m blessed to have you here.  Happy Birthday!

 

 

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, caregivers, Morgan, Uncategorized

Social Graces and Hidden Disabilities

“Parents don’t make mistakes because they don’t care, but because they care so deeply.” – Berry Brazelton

As a parent of a young woman on the autism spectrum, I’m realizing there’s a fine line between accommodating and crippling Morgan. I am forever tripping over that line. The Judgers only trip me more. The Getters keep me trying.

You see, there are two Morgans.  The one I see at home is confident and assured, able to express her wants and needs most of the time, able to create, and even crack a dry joke.

Then there is the Morgan out in public.  The one that tears at my heart, because she’s so anxious about “Too Many Friends”, uncomfortable places, not enough schedule, too much schedule,… She has two reactions to the stress of public gatherings.  One is to loudly announce her discontent to everyone, and the other is to completely shut down.

A while back, Morgan participated in an exhibition basketball game.  Things were just a little noisy and chaotic.  She squeezed her eyes shut, and lowered her head to disappear.  I watched from a distance as peers passed her by, moving on to others who met them with smiles.  Morgan’s self isolation continues to cost her so many opportunities.  Whenever this happens, everything in me wants to jump in and rescue her (and I have on several occasions), but I realize there’s going to be a time when I’m no longer able to be that link of understanding between her and the world.  In order to make it out there, she will have to somehow find it within herself to reach back to those who reach out to her.  Daily prayers go up for her social graces, and others’ understanding.

Thankfully, we had a successful event recently, which gave me a little renewed hope.  Morgan was asked to pass out programs for a community gathering with Borderless Arts Tennessee.  She was given an active roll, and rose to the occasion.  She also sat along side friends to do a little creative activity.  Later, when she announced she was “Tired and All Done”, friends gave a knowing smile.  Morgan was asked to help present a couple of awards, and continued to hang with a little encouragement.  She even managed a smile for the camera, in the middle of her protests. 😉

I. Just. LOVE. the Getters, those who truly understand, and I’m most thankful for the Knowers, like Dr. Temple Grandin, Emelyne Bingham, and other amazing women on the spectrum for reminding me to continue to challenge Morgan.

In my parenting experience, I’ve had many proud moments, and some very humbling ones. When our children are flying high, we can be tempted to pat ourselves on the back, thinking we’ve got it all together.  In those times of pride, shame on me if I’m ever a Judger of another parent, who’s loving their child the best way they know how.  “But for the grace…”

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

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autism, faith, family, Morgan, Uncategorized

Magical and Practical Places

“Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

We are born into a family.  We play and learn and grow.  And as we do, so does our world, and our circle of friends.  We gather at schools and churches and ballparks and businesses.  When we become adults, we take on grownup roles.  We work, play, worship, grieve, and celebrate TOGETHER.  We are a community.

Children with intellectual and physical disabilities become adults, just like everyone else.  Once they grow up and leave school, they have the same need to continue to belong, and play active roles in communities.  Being intentional, working together, we can ALL break down the barriers that separate us.

Mary's Music

I’m so thankful we live in a community that gets it.  From employers who open their doors, hiring our young adults for their strengths, to organizations that offer special needs sports, recreation, creative arts, and adult ministries, You Get It!  We are truly blessed.  As Morgan would say, “I LOVE This Place!”

Recently our community has added a couple of places that are Extra Inviting and Super Exciting!  The first,  Mary’s Magical Place, is a park that is accessible to ALL abilities and ages.  Their mantra is “Make It Happen!” And Boy did they! 🙂

 

And PEER Place , a community based program, where our young adults can continue learning job, life, and social skills, empowering them to achieve their highest potential.  We think these places ROCK! 🙂

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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faith, family, Uncategorized

A Break in the Weather

“There is something to be said for sitting still and letting things come clear, the way morning fog burns off the lake.” – George Witte

OJ and sunshine

Sitting here, with a glass of orange juice, nursing a summer cold. There’s a beautiful blue sky today. Hoping a little sunshine, and sunny thoughts, will clear this head fog. 😉

Bristol viewIn early August, Allison treated her dad to a getaway to celebrate his 60th birthday. They took a trip to Bristol, or as Morgan puts it, “Around the circle, ready to race!” They had been planning this for a few months. Allison found a little place, with a peaceful view, not far from the race track.

A friend gifted Rudy with some great tickets on the start-finish line. The week before, weather forecasts were not looking so good.  I could tell dad was getting in the dumps, thinking the race might not happen. Morgan and mom were sending up lots of weather prayers.  Thankfully the clouds broke just in time for the race.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  That’s how God works.

Rudy and Allison have always had a special bond.  They’re both hard workers, loyal to a fault.  They give their best on the job, and that gives them precious little time for times like these.  It was a gift for me to see them enjoying this time together; a long drive with time to catch up, a low-tech getaway above the clouds, good food for their bellies and their souls, and of course Bristol Baby!

When any of us get too caught up, for too long, in the day to day duties, we can find ourselves in a fog.  So thankful for this break in the weather for Rudy and Allison.

Until Next Time,

Know The Hope!

Tammy

 

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