Sunflowers

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 4.05.15 pmRecently a close friend of mine lost her brother in a tragic car accident, which is a terrible thing for anyone to have to live through.

There will never be any words that I could say to her to make it hurt any less and the only thing that I could ever do for her is hug her, be there for her and pray for her. I really wish I could do more. I can’t speak from experience but I imagine that her pain would be very different to mine because of the shock factor and the sheer sudden-ness of it all.

Because when we lost my Dad, he was already very sick so even though I didn’t allow myself to think “what if” very often, it was always something that hung around in the back of my mind. Then when the cancer started to grip him more and he became noticeably sicker – that thought then started to creep further and further into my conscious mind, which was – in a sense – some kind of preparation I suppose.

Sadly, my friend simply wasn’t afforded any of that. She was given no time to say goodbye, no warning and her brain wasn’t given months (or weeks) to mentally prepare for the shock. Her world changed in an instant and her heart, emotions and brain were literally thrown in the deep end and told “COPE” or else.

I caught up with that friend last week, it was the first time I had seen her since the dreadful passing of her brother. On my way to the restaurant, I was praying for her (like I do for all of my friends) and the thought occurred to me that I should buy her some flowers for no reason other than to say: “You are loved”.

It was also exactly 2 months since losing her brother and I didn’t want to make her focus too much on that but wanted her to know that she means something to me and flowers seemed like the perfect way to do it. So I walked into the shop and started chatting with the florist as I admired the many bunches of bright colours that surrounded me. I was clearly overwhelmed for choice so the lady then asked me if she could help me to make a decision.

She asked me what the occasion was so I told her that it was an anniversary for my friend and left it at that. The florist got to work bringing me bright bunches of gerberas and carnations and roses, which were all pretty but none of them felt “quite right”.

Then suddenly my eyes went to a bunch of sunflowers that were wrapped in red paper over in the back corner so I walked over and picked them up excitedly. Noticing this the florist said: “They’re nice aren’t they but they’re not really what you’re looking for. How about this bunch they are $5 cheaper too and much more cheery”. I glanced at them and agreed that were certainly more exuberant but I was still strangely drawn to the sunflowers and just couldn’t explain it?

Maybe it was the red paper around them that I liked, or maybe it was because I LOVED sunflowers when I was 18? Maybe it was bringing back memories of the quilt cover and curtains that I had appliquéd with sunflowers to decorate my very first flat when I left home?

Whatever it was – I KNEW that the sunflowers were the ones that were coming with me that day. I HAD to have them and there was no talking me out of it. So I paid for them and starting walking toward the restaurant where my friend was waiting.

I walked in and handed them to her saying: “I’m sorry if sunflowers aren’t your thing but I really needed to get these for you and I just can’t explain it any better than than that. It was more of a compulsion that anything but you know how impulsive I can be so I figure you’d understand.”

I waited for her response CONVINCED that she was going to laugh at me and tell me what a loon I was but instead, she smiled and thanked me.

The after we’d sat down at our table, she pulled out her phone to show me a photo that she just needed to show me. It was a photo that she took the day that she arrived home from her brother’s funeral and she told me that it would blow my mind.

She was right.

This photo was the evidence of something that she’d begun before receiving that phone call that changed her life forever. It was a photo of the sunflowers that she’d planted in her front garden that she thought she’d never see but they had bloomed in memory of her brother whilst she was attending his funeral and they were standing proud and tall waiting for her to get back home to admire them. I was almost lost for words. Amazed.

But I will say this: I refuse to put this down to mere coincidence because I simply wouldn’t have gotten to the place where I am right now if it weren’t for the knowledge that God is present even in the seemingly small and insignificant details of our lives both lately and even when I refused to acknowledge it.

With all the hurt, pain, lies and backstabbing that I’ve experienced in these past few months I can honestly say that He has brought me through just like He promised He would when I had thrown myself down at his feet in desperation. Never will He leave me, never will He forsake me and for that – I am truly grateful.

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Neon signs and Eyebrows.

image via morguefile.com

image via morguefile.com

Today I got my eyelashes stuck together with hot wax and also somehow managed to wax off almost half of one eyebrow. All because I got momentarily distracted. It turns out that having poor eyesight and trying to do this with my glasses off wasn’t my smartest move!

I’m quite clever I know, and anyone who knows me well will attest that I am not known for my attention span, but today was a particularly bad one and I have one and a half eyebrows to prove it.

After I’d googled “how to remove wax from your eyelashes without pulling them out” (yes I really did) and I had read hundreds of ridiculous remedies, I eventually decided to try cutting it out with manicure scissors.

Yeah, that wasn’t my finest moment, either – so now, not only am I missing half an eyebrow, I also have only got a few small eyelashes on the opposite eye!

Oh my goodness I look quite a sexy beast I can tell you!

Then after I’d spent another ten minutes laughing at myself in the mirror, I jumped in my car and went down to the pharmacy to buy myself a set of fake lashes and an eyebrow pencil and I plan to google “how to draw an eyebrow” next.’

So I was telling this story to Paul tonight, and after he’d picked himself up off the floor from laughing he said: “Wow Fi, this would have devastated you only a few months ago. It would have had you in a total mess”.

He was right.

If something like this had have happened only as recently as a few months ago, I would’ve been a complete basket case. It would have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and would have pushed me over the edge because I was already standing on a very thin balance beam between coping and completely losing my mind.

But a lot has changed here recently and it takes ridiculous mishaps of the grooming variety like this for me to be able to realise just how far not only *I* have come, but how far all of us have come.

Many of you know that my boys started at their new school last week.

It was something that I knew in my heart of hearts had to happen but I kept putting it off because I was so incredibly afraid of change. But the story surrounding my final decision to move them is actually quite remarkable and I now feel ready to share a little bit of it here with you guys; my loyal readers.

It was back last November when I finally realised that things had reached a point with Harley’s OCD and anxiety disorder when he was referred to see a psychiatrist after saying some very troubling things to us. I won’t go into details of what he told us but suffice to say that it was enough to warrant immediate attention and enough to cause me to draw a line in the sand and look for a new school for him.

My Mum was visiting at the time and we spent literally hours researching schools, visiting campus after campus and making phone call after phone call, when one morning as I was I sitting opposite her in a cafe I said to God aloud: “I’m tired of chasing dead ends and I’m exhausted from trying to figure this out. Please give me a neon sign because I’m not in a place where I can pick up on subtle hints, I need something obvious. Give me a neon sign answer”.

I had no idea how powerful that prayer would turn out to be.

A few minutes after asking God for a sign, I got a phone call from my sister and she asked me why I hadn’t considered sending the boys to the local public school? I gave her the same stock standard answer that I gave everyone who asked me that question: “Because I’m afraid that the boys won’t get the education that they deserve”. Amongst other things that I really, really didn’t want to tell her.

But the truth was – I was probably just being an uninformed and clueless snob. It’s not that it is a bad school that my children are zoned to, it’s just that, ok yeah – I WAS being a snob and I clearly had my head so far up my butt that I just couldn’t see any sense.

So I told my sister that I would at least consider it because I knew deep down that she had a point and I was fast running out of options.

She then asked me to tell her exactly what it was that I didn’t like about the public school so eventually; I told her what else had been troubling me.

I could hear the loving smile in her voîce as she pointed out that the two main reasons that I gave her were actually both already happening at the Independent school, and she then pointed out that we were paying bucket loads of money for it! So in her words: “It can’t possibly be worse, and even if it is – at least you’re not paying for it”.

{I couldn’t argue with that logic and it turned out that this particular conversation ended up being the catalyst for several other decisions that I was able to make straight afterwards}.

So Mum and I finished our coffees and she suggested that we drive past the local school on our way home ‘just to have a look’ so I agreed. We talked in the car on our way there and I had started to reach a point where I was willing to give anything a go because I just didn’t have any peace about any of the schools that we’d visited.

I pulled up out the front of the school and climbed out of the car and started walking toward the administration office when I stopped dead in my tracks because out the front of the school was a flipping NEON sign with the words:  “Enrolling for 2014” and I started laughing.
I’d driven past this school countless times and never once had I ever noticed that sign before!

Mum and I looked at each other grinning ridiculously and I knew right then that I had my answer. It was unmistakable and I knew that there was no denying that God certainly had a sense of humour and that this was the place the boys needed to go.

So I went in and filled out the application forms on the spot and had a meeting with the Principal and Learning Support Head Teacher only a few days later.

At that meeting, they looked over all of the boy’s paperwork and put plans in place to transition them into the school almost immediately. They told us all about the programs that they ran for children on the spectrum and assured us that they would do everything in their power to bring Harley’s grades up where they needed to be.

They also told me that several of their teachers had just completed autism specific training and they promised to place each of the boys with one of the teachers.

And they did!

It’s now been almost 2 weeks since they started at their new school and both of the boys are absolutely loving it there. They are both coming home at peace, happy and the aggression and anger that we had become so accustomed to has vanished completely.

The stress and angst and anxiety that was permanently etched on Harley’s face has disappeared and he has become the gorgeous little boy that I knew was always hidden behind the agony that he had learned to live with.

He didn’t know that school could be this great and my only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.

And me. Well, I have been able to wean off the anti-depressants that have been my constant companion for years because these days, I just don’t have the same levels of stress that my poor body had become used to.

Things certainly aren’t perfect in other areas, but I am now able to look in the mirror at my one eyebrow and laugh at the lack of eyelashes because I KNOW that in the grand scheme if things that this is really no big deal.

I can see now that things are definitely only going to get better and better. And that my friends: is HUGE!

But even after watching several tutorials on youtube, I still look like a bit of a circus freak so it looks like I’ll be sticking to the LARGE framed sunglasses for a while whenever I’m in public. If you know what I mean 😉

Addendum: psst – I got a job today too.
YAY!

Midnight Musings…

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 2.42.39 pm

 

 

 

 

1. Sometimes, it’s nothing you have or haven’t done that cause grief and heartache to enter into your life.
They just do.

2. There will always be some things in life that you will never find answers for, and you will drive yourself crazy trying to figure them out. Learn to be satisfied with not knowing everything.

3. Trying to work out the intentions and motivations behind other people’s words and actions is virtually impossible and turns out to be a massive drain on both time and energy.

4. One of the hardest things in life is pushing through depression and continuing to put one foot in front of the other when all you want to do is curl up into a tiny ball under the covers and cry.

5. You can preach autism awareness until you’re blue in the face but there will always, ALWAYS be those who will never ‘get it’ , those who REFUSE to ‘get it’ and sadly – a group of people who just don’t give a crap and you’ll never ever change them no matter what you say or do.

Making peace with this last group of people is vital for moving on and making progress. Cutting toxic people out of my life seemed harsh at first, but you can’t grow beautiful flowers in polluted, murky water.

And a bonus point:

6. Writing out my inner most thoughts at midnight may not turn out to be my best ever idea  😀

Life Lessons from 2013

I was thinking today, that I’d like to sit down and write a little about what I’ve gained in the area of life-lessons from last year
So what did it teach me? Here are the top 3 things.Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 2.45.44 pm

1. God is everything.

Not religion, not church, and not just “faith”. I’m not talking rules and regulations here, nor am I talking legalities and requirements to do or say anything but a personal and truthful relationship with God.

With all that has gone on in my little family, He has remained a steadfast and strong rock for me to collapse on to time and time again. And this year I have collapsed a lot. Mentally, emotionally and even physically I have been pushed past my limit many times but through all my personal trials: God has been a constant source of strength and comfort.
I’ve had far too many friendships and relationships go pear-shaped this year and I have been baffled by most of them. I have found myself treading water on many occasions, but every time, EVERY TIME He has caught me and set my feet upon solid ground.

2. I’ve learned that I am enough.

I, (like the rest of you) will probably never be able to successfully juggle three kids, special needs, keeping house, working and studying all at once, but as long as I continue to do my best in all of those areas – that is enough.

Because enough doesn’t mean that my house is always spotless. Enough doesn’t mean that I will always keep my cool and never yell at my kids.
Enough doesn’t mean that my marriage is perfect. And enough certainly doesn’t mean that I have got it all together, but enough means (by definition) “as much as required.”

 

So ‘enough’ means to me, that though there’s rarely any of me left over at the end of each day – my kids are fed, they are healthy and for the most part – they are happy. Taking on board the concept that ‘I am enough’ has brought me such freedom and peace.

3. I don’t have to be like everyone else.

This last one is similar to the above point (I am enough) but refers more to me personally. It refers to the fact that I am owning the parts of my personality and character that are unique and unusual and not following the crowd and I am starting to be ok with that. I’ve spent far too many years worrying that I am not like the rest and beating myself up for what I once considered to be character flaws.

For example: I admit that I am more emotional than your average Joe. I cry more, I take more things personally and I react to things that other people can just let slide. I take longer to get over things than most people, I get hurt more easily and I try to make everyone like me. I don’t cope when people are mean and I over-analyse EVERYTHING inside out and back to front until it turns my brain to mush and I end up in a crying soggy mess on the floor.

But on the flip side- I am extremely loyal to those whom I love to a fault. I forgive more times than people deserve it and I give second, third, fourth and so on chances when other people would have just written someone off. Even if I cut contact with someone to protect myself, I will always let them back once the dust has settled. It’s just who I am. And because of this, I will probably continue to get hurt time and time again, but this is me and this is how I’m made: and God doesn’t make junk.

I am learning to shake off what some people close to me have said and have started to see myself as God views me.

And the lastly: (3a if you like?!)

Autism is always going to be a part of my life.

It’s true – my boys won’t magically lose their diagnoses but they will continue to learn where they fit in this world. Slowly I am learning to embrace it and let it shape me. Autism can be a really huge pain in the butt, be heartbreakingly difficult and can rob my boys of so much but it is a part of who my boys are. I can dislike the difficulties that it brings them and my family but it doesn’t change my love for them at all.

Autism is no longer the big scary “A” word that it once was and for that I am grateful.