On being forged into a warrior mom

If I could summarize our journey from Hell to HOPEISM, it would be in my faith, which I call HOPEISM. It has been my weapon of choice to get me through each battle I have had to fight in my mission to win our war called life with autism and seizures. Vaccine injury to be more specific. It would also be in committing to heart, soul, & mind the words and motto's from Forged, NDCQ, the Lone Survivor, and Levi Lusko in his book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion." I will be forever grateful to the inspiration, encouragement, and mental fortitude found through all of them collectively. Because of that, I am not allowing this tragedy of vaccine injury that has come into our lives to be an obstacle to being used by God. I am instead turning it into an opportunity to be used like never before!

This blog is dedicated to Brandon. His life has been forged by difficulty, obstacles, & all too often because of seizures - pain, blood, broken teeth, & broken bones. Yet through all that he has shown such fortitude. The bravery, strength, & resilience of a true warrior. He taught me that having strength through adversity means that even if you lose every battle, like the Lone Survivor, you never quit fighting until you win the war. That in the words of "NDCQ," you keep "dreaming," keep "daring," & keep "doing." As Team Guppy has yet to be able to escape vaccine injury, we have no choice but to as Levi Lusko writes, "Run toward the Roar." God has indeed given us such incredible power in enduring such impossible pain.

Some days the HOPEISM in that simply takes my breath away.

May 15, 2012

The Joy Box...

I have a "Joy Box" in my office. 

Got the concept from one of my favorite Christian authors of all time -- Barbara Johnson.  I suppose my motto is from her life --- Choosing Happy, Living Joyfully, Following Christ, and for me, -- Wearing Camo.

She's been through some STUFF in life, but like one of my new motto's -- she "Made her Mess her Ministry".  As part of that ministry, she kept a "Joy box" of things that when life got her down, she would go to that and look through each sentimental picture, thing, or saying, to cheer her up.  I have a "Joy file" as well as a "Joy box" -- I've saved e-mails of thanks from folks about my writings, quotes from people, etc.  Things to encourage me or make me laugh when I need to.

I guess this evening I found myself dreading taking Brandon to the doctor tomorrow because of his shoulder.  It just keeps popping and crackling and my stomach churns each time I hear it.  I hate being a "the glass is half empty" person in situations like that, but I've got a good record going, in how the glass is indeed half empty when it comes to our track record in such doctor visit matters.

And of course, misery loves company, so I thought about how I was missing my son Matt as well.  How we are back to "Boot Camp" days of little to no communication.  (Anything less than a Skype a day, a call a day, and a dozen texts a day, in this mamma's book translates to "little to no communication.)

So I found myself digging through my "Joy box" and I came across Brandon's t-shirt I had put in there long ago...

Not only has he grown since that toddler-sized t-shirt -- but he's changed.  I've changed. Our family has changed.  And yes, because of all those changes in us, the world of autism we live in has not only been unlocked, but changed.  We may always have some difficulties, but in just looking back at that t-shirt and how autism affected the newly diagnosed boy who wore it at that time, compared to the young man of now, -- oh my ---  how.he.has.changed.

Some things however, ahem Matthew, - don't change!  Ha ha ha....

I actually had to resort to my "Joy file" of humorous quotes to get me over missing my Matt.  I came across this one:

“Cheer Up the worst is yet to come!”
Barbara Johnson

I think I put that in there during a particularly "high volume call period" from the AP at his High School to me at home.  I think that might have been the time the track coach asked if he could have free reign to discipline Matt for driving to Sonic during practice, and when Matt felt he could just leave school to drive to Wal-Mart to get a poster board for his next class and have no one notice.  (Which, the way he drives, I'm sure he indeed felt he could get there and back between classes!)

But much like that t-shirt of Brandon's -- that quote I put in there for Matt has proven true too! The worst kind of worrying for a parent is yet to come for us!  Matt is now in a training program that will test him, and us, in every way possible.  Oh, for those AP phone calls instead of dreading a phone call that he's injured or something! 

Which is why a parent shouldn't worry in the first place.  There's always going to be something worse to worry about, than the trivial thing you're worrying about right now!  Ha ha ha....

I even have a quote in there for that situation:

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. ”
Barbara Johnson

That puts a lot of my worrying into perspective. 

Assures me that there is purpose in all things.

My Joy box reminds me that sometimes when I think I'm not getting anywhere, I need to go back and be reminded of where I've been. But most of all, my Joy box reminds me to laugh, and to laugh deeply.  Something Barbara Johnson's writings were all about.  Using humor to cope.

She laughed deeply, as do I each time I read this very last note my beloved Grandpa ever left under my pillow.  It was a tradition of his to when they left from a visit, leave a note to me under my pillow that I would find that night.

Ha ha ha, - sorry Grandpop, but as many things in my life that have changed for the better ---- "cutting down on my sassing" hasn't been one of them!

But then again that's probably what has allowed me to bring about the most change in the autism world we live in..........

To each of us having a Joy box full of joy, love, and laughter!
To changing the world we live in!

May 13, 2012

To all the Warrior Moms of Autism on Mother's Day.

It's no secret that I have a high regard and respect for the U.S. Navy SEALs.  My son's hero is a Navy SEAL, and because of that I have read all there was to read about them.

As a Warrior Mom of Autism, those books have inspired me.  Those books share about the mental strength one has to have to be a SEAL.  The same mental strength a Warrior Mom of Autism must have as well! 

SEALs for the most part fight enemies they can see using a battle-tested strategy they have studied and prepared for.  Warrior Mom's have no such intel and must fight an enemy we can't even see --- autism.  Oh, we know it's there and has captured our child - what we can't see is exactly where it is.  What we don't know most of the time is what to do.  Mainly for me because my son can't tell me where it hurts.  What is bothering him.  How I can help him.  SEALs must fight the enemy using rules of engagement that aren't fair.  Mom's like me are engaged by an enemy whose rules constantly change and whose tactics aren't ever fair.  

SEALs become SEALs because that is what they want to be. They fight because they chose a path that would necessitate they do that.  Warrior Mom's are not Warrior Mom's because that's what they wanted to be.  They were made to be.  They fight not because they wanted to, but simply because they have to. 

Navy SEALs enlisted.

Warrior Mom's didn't.

SEALS are the best of the best, that one percent of the nation whose character, willpower, strength and stamina cannot be beat. 

The Warrior Mom's I know are the same. 

To become a Navy SEAL, that BUD/S Candidate must go through a grueling testing.  One of the "highlights" in that hell, is Hell Week.  Those candidates must endure every form of physical training and "surf torture" a person could endure, all while not sleeping for more than four hours that entire week.  Some Warrior Mom's I know have gone weeks on four hours of sleep. That Hell Week pushes those candidates to the ultimate extreme of what a person can handle both physically and mentally.  As does Autism. They must be able to endure and survive Hell Week if they ever hope to survive a deployment to a war zone once a Navy SEAL.  We must survive a diagnosis of autism if we ever hope to rescue our child from it.  It's an unforgiving training, and one that is necessary if they are to become what they want to become and are -- the Nation's best of the best.

As much as "Hell Week" is the highlight of a Navy SEALs training, "The Bell" is the highlight of Hell Week. The bell as pictured above, is located at the "Drop Area" on the base in Coronado where they train.  When a candidate can endure no more, for reasons only they know, they take that solemn walk to where the bell is and they ring it.  They place their helmet under that bell on the concrete in a row where others before them have done the same. To the candidates who see that bell each and every day, it is either a friend or a foe.  It is a motivator encouraging and challenging candidates to Never Quit as much as it is a tease that begs them, taunts them, and assures them they will give up and quit.

The test for a SEAL wanna-be -- is which voice will win.

I guess for me on this Mother's Day, as a Warrior Mom of Autism, -- I find that bell and all it represents more inspiring than any gift or Hallmark Card.  I know that as a mom whose son is severely affected by autism and in all the ways that diagnosis has affected our lives - that bell represents all the extremes I have endured.  All that all Warrior Mom's of Autism endure.  In what we have to go through each and every day from the moment our child is taken by autism.  In trying to reclaim them from that autism we sometimes daily go through our own Hell Week.  For the SEALs, "The Only Easy Day was Yesterday".  For us, "There Ain't No Easy Day."

Heck, there ain't even no bell for us to ring even if we wanted to!

Let that sink in...

In their training, the elite of the elite have a bell to ring for their pain to stop when they've had enough.  They can choose to ring it and be free of the pain, or go on enduring the pain for the triumph over it that their earned Trident pin, the symbol of a Navy SEAL, will bring.

I know no Warrior Mom of Autism who has given up.

What I do know, is that there is a row of helmets of those who have tried to defeat us or our child, but failed.

The reward for those of us who never give up isn't a trident to wear, but our child that we've healed.

Or died trying to...

And that's what I want to share with my autism-mom friends on this day.  Especially for those like me whose child cannot even make them a card for Mother's Day or tell them that they love them.

That you are the top one percent of Mother's in this Nation, in this World. 

You have endured what no typical Mother could ever endure.

You have made it through each Hell Week autism has thrown at you.

You were not given a bell to ring when you've had enough and wanted to quit - and even if there were one for you to ring ---

You wouldn't.

From reading about Navy SEALs to keep my own mental strength where it needs to be to survive autism, I came across Richard "Mack" Machowicz and his "NDCQ" (Not Dead Can't Quit) philosophy.

I'll leave you with his encouraging words on this Mother's Day---

Dream! Dare! Do!  N D C Q!!

Keep DREAMING the wildest dreams for your child...
Keep DARING to defy those who say those dreams can't come true...
Keep DOING all that is in your power to change attitudes, policies, discrimination....