want to break free ?

from early on we strive to build friendships, work, build networks and build a home, but during all this ‘building’, do we ever feel overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed and then feel the need to break free?

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We are conditioned by nature to seek out relationships.  We are engineered by our environment as to the types of relationships we build, based on what and whom we are exposed to.  Some of us are born to our families and remain with them all of our formative years and maintain good relationships when we flee the nest.  Others do not get to stay with their family of origin but may still have some form of contact, or none whatsoever, depending on the circumstances and the circumstances can be many and varied.  We are shaped by the people around us, parents, siblings, grandparents, teachers, friends.  We learn from each other.  We build and we adapt, depending on whom we are with and what we are doing.  We often ‘go along with things’ so as not to stick out, be the odd one out, rock the boat.  To keep the peace is often the easier option. We may surpress what we really feel and deny ourselves the opportunity to be honest and open.  To do so could offend, incite an argument, evoke scrutiny that we may not wish to recall or simply we may think it is kinder to not be honest in certain situations.  After all, we all have different tastes, ideas, ideals, opinions, beliefs and perspectives, and that is fine.

Sometimes though, it can all become too much.  We are but one person.  In order to survive we NEED others, we NEED  relationships.  We need to love and be loved, to feel value and give another person a sense of value.   We need relationships on some level, for us to feel full and complete.  This can lead us to feeling good, yet overwhelmed.  As the saying goes, ‘we cannot please all of the people all of the time’.  One person, whether a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandparent, a child, we must ‘interact’.  It is in the interacting with all of the people in our circle and indeed outside of our circle that can lead us to feeling overwhelmed, overburdened, overshadowed.  We can deny ourselves so much and so often, that we don’t even realise that we are denying ourselves.   It can become a way of life, a habit, and habits are easy to form yet difficult to break.

Like an animal, taken from the wild and placed in a zoo,  it can adapt to his new surroundings.  He will be fed, exposed to company, given somewhere to live, given the basic things needed to survive, but, will he be happy, all of the time or for that matter, any of the time.  Yet he stays, no option but to stay, he is so tightly monitored and guarded that his existence is secured.  He learns to adapt to his new way of life, but may still yearn for his former life, for his independence.    His offspring born in this new habitat will no nothing of the wild as they would have been born to this habitat and will not know any different….. but what is their instinct.  They may not know how to hunt, how to take care of themselves, how to survive in the wild, but perhaps they have a desire to find out.  Perhaps they have a desire to break free, perhaps their instinct is engrained in their DNA.

We are the same.  We were born into our surroundings, guided, nurtured, ensuring or needs were met.  We conform to the rules of our environment and of our society.   We built friendships, relationships, homes and families of our own.  Some of it is easy, some of it is difficult, but still we strive.  However, there comes a time, often more than once, that we may want to’ break free’.   Not necessarily forever, maybe just for a day or a week or even a few hours.  We need to break free for our sanity, for us to be us, the person we were born to be, not the person someone expects us to be.  For a short time we need to take care of us, we need to take the time to be free, to recharge, re-energise, reflect and reconnect, if we so choose.  We have to NOT deny ourselves of what we want or need. We need to practice self care, in order that we can fulfill and continue to be part of all the other relationships that we encounter and are party to.  We need to go and find something, a place, a thing, a journey, whatever it takes, but we need to find our joy,  our peace, our inner calm and ourselves.  If that means you need to break free, then break free, just do it – you need to love and have a relationship with you!

 

Picture authors own taken at Fota Wildlife Park.

 

 

That’s me in the Corner

When everything else looks the same, when you are looking at what you expect to see, take a look closer. Look for something that seems different, look for the unexpected and you many well have your mind opened and be so totally pleasantly surprised……

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I think of the words of R.E.M…… just look at them and think about them…

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger
Than you and you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
Every whisper
Of every waking hour
I’m choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up
Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
Try, cry
Why try?
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
Dream

These words can be interpreted in many different ways. For me, it brought to mind my wonderful grandson. Last night he participated with his school and other schools in our National Opera House in a concert called ‘Sing out Loud’. The Irony is, my grandson cannot speak. He is non verbal and has autism.

As I watched him, with immense pride, I was amazed at how he managed to stay on the stage for an hour and a half, with others, singing and dancing and playing instruments. It was indeed a spectacular show. I was truly mesmerized. I was particularly in awe and mesmerized with my grandson.

Children/people with autism are very sensory and react, often in a negative way to sensory overload. The noise on that stage, to him, must have been so bombarding on his hearing that he must have thought his ear drums would burst. Instead, my heart bursted with pride, at how he stood there, and at times sat, but nevertheless, he remained there, on the stage, at all times, with his peers, PARTICIPATING in a SING OUT LOUD, concert.

It was a full house. I knew he had autism, his father and his brother and a few other people who know our family, know he has autism. The rest of the audience did not. I imagine most were too busy watching with pride, their own family members on the stage. However, if they did happen to notice the boy, wearing the ear phones, NOT SINGING, and wondering, what he was doing there, let me tell you. He was being INCLUDED. He was being acknowledged and recognised by his teachers, by his school, as a person who could and should be allowed to participate in, and be engaged by, and with, what they were doing on that stage – having fun!

At school he has begun to communicate through a model called R.P.M. (Rapid Prompting Method). He touches a stencil, one letter at a time, in between his stimming and perceived lack of concentration, and his teacher (and his mother, my wonderful daughter, manages to get some words down, spelled out by him – (by the way he has taught himself to read and spell out words, because before RPM, it was considered that he would not learn like ‘typical’ children learn…. How wrong was EVERYONE!

Today, his teacher did an RPM session with him in school :-

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Could we, as his family, be any more proud or in awe of him? NOOOOOOOO . He is wonderful. He is incredible. He is astonishing. He is important. He is entitled to be included. He is not an empty vessel. He is trying, so hard, to communicate. He is patient. He is kind. He is funny. He is sometimes isolated. He is amazing. He is hope. He is our everything. He is ENTITLED to be loved and acknowledged as a typical person. He just cannot speak…… He tries. He stimms… Do not think he is not a worthy person. He is, and more. He has to do more to prove is worth. He has to stand on a stage, with his peers, with them singing and joining in, while he stands there, with his toothbrushes, which he loves, and he has to look on, and endure the noise and the lights and the heat, and the stares and the knowing looks, some may give him, but he perseveres and he stays there, and he enjoys himself, BECAUSE, he has been included. He has been ACCEPTED as an equal to his ‘typical’ peers.

So, the next time you see a person, who may look or act or seem a little strange, remember our boy and the joy he communicated the day after he was treated like his ‘typical’ peers.

Always look for the extraordinary, for the odd one out, for the boy in the corner, and you may well be so suprised with what you will find out! Smile at him, accept him and know how amazing he actually is. Believe in the unbelieveable and never judge a book by its cover…… There is a whole new world inside!

When it rains…..

Is it too much to ask for sunshine everyday? Is it too much to be ‘happy’ every day? If it never rained, then the grass would never be green and if it wasn’t green, we wouldn’t try to get to the otherside…. right?

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It’s raining outside, in fact there has been another weather warning! Status yellow, gusty wind and heavy rain. No hurricanes, no real structural damage predicted, just drive with caution, take it easy, keep your distance from the cars in front, for to be too close you will surely skid into them if you need to suddenly break!

A similar warning could be or perhaps should be announced for stormy relationships. After all, they are not always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes they are thunderous and and miserable. Sometimes it may only be a ‘status yellow’ where a little ruffling or prickling of just ‘uncomfortableness’ rears it’s nasty head

The weather, unfortunately, we have no control over. We have to wake up and hope for the best. The ‘best’ depends on what you are hoping for. If you are a farmer for example you may welcome the rain. If you are a sun worshiper you may always hope for sunshine. To always have rain or sunshine is not realistic or healthy, so mother nature gives us a measure of both, this side of the hemisphere anyway, to try to keep the ecology balanced, lush and green.

We do, however, have control over our relationships, but it does depend somewhat intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, needs and wants. It also depends on our patience, tolerance, and level of self worth does it not? Some may think grass is greener on the other side, no matter what type of relationship they are in…. Whether it parent/child, peer to peer, siblings or a romantic relationship. Far away fields often look greener.

The thing is, should we try to cross the fence and see, just how much greener it is, how much better it is, how better life would be? I heard a piece of advice last week during the Wexford Literary Festival, where an author said ‘if we were in a room full of people and we were all to put our disabilities, struggles, stresses etc into a magic bowl in the center of the room, and were asked to take one out, we would probably all take our original one out.

Think about that for a minute, then answer honestly, would you take the same ‘thing’ out of the bowl? Better the devil you know sort of thing, OR, would you chance it, would you edge your bets, would you risk taking a risk? Would you check out the potential of the lush green grass in the far away field or would you hide under the duvet?

It depends! It always depends on many different varying factors, on motivation and other things. Isn’t it exciting though, like when a weather alert comes, it can be somewhat ‘exciting’. The anticipation of what is going to happen! Yes we prepare, we batten down the hatches, we stock up on essentials and we wait it out. We may see something spectacular or extraordinary in the storm, like flashes of fork lightening brightening up the skies. We may see or hear something devastating too. The thing is, we see or hear or feel something, something different. Something out of the ordinary. Something that takes us out of our comfort zone.

What we do after the storm is up to us. We can go on as normal like nothing ever happened and continue with life as we know it, OR, we pick up the pieces, rearrange them, re build them and begin again.

Sometimes to remain is the scariest thing of all, because, what if, what if we miss something, something truly magnificent in taking the risk to not only learning to dance in the storm, but to embrace it, to throw caution to the wind, to be flung from one place to another, without a safety net and to take the risk of trying out that greener grass.

Better to fail by trying than to fail by not trying at all……..

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