Wind Moving

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A wind moves

Through my blood

Power building

Needs releasing

Words that are born

Images that flash

Otherworldly

A Muse Dancing

How do I tell you

That when I see you

Or when I see a picture

When I hear your words

That a wind moves

Through my blood

That I can feel something

Happening unseen

Not felt by most

Beyond observation

Waxing inspiration

Your child is coming

Your thoughts are dark

Your past is crashing

Or your skeletons are dancing

In front of my eyes

I am not a shepherd

I am not a leader

I am not a builder

I am not a healer

I am a watcher

I see the dreams

And the nightmares

I see the becoming of things

And the endings of some things

And the words

That sometimes come with my seeing

Frighten me

Empower me

Are stronger than me

I cannot heal you

I cannot lead you

I cannot guide you

I cannot build you

But I can see you

And you will push me away

The good with the bad

This I already saw

 

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 9/4/2013

Keep On Keeping On

When I started advocating, I had an “ask everybody to get involved” attitude. Then I got burned a few times. A simple no is not the worst answer you can receive I found out.

So then I was confused and hesitated about talking to people. It was like standing in quicksand. Do you move? Do you stand still? Do you reach for the branch?

It is so rewarding though to go to meetings and hear people’s success stories. To see restaurants and companies getting on board with our amazing cause. It is inspiring and you walk away a little in shock at the awesomeness of the people you just shared a lunch with and definitely feeling like you are on firmer ground.

The longer you stay in the realm of advocating, the more connections you make. The more you learn how people navigate these waters.

It just takes the right words, the right timing, the right exchange. You also have to be willing to take the hard hits. The more than just a simple no response.

I am not quite there yet with knowing the right words, but I am growing and learning.

I plan to keep talking. I plan to keep believing. I plan to keep on keeping on.

My next step is to lead my team in the Arkansas Walk Now for Autism Speaks event on October 5th. One more month! To support me in my first Walk, my fundraising page is http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum. I am so honored to be able to help Autism Speaks by doing this Walk. They have been advocating for my son since before he was born. I am a lucky, lucky mom to have them.

From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 9/3/2013

Battle Dance

Life Vs Migraine: Round 436ish

Body sweats
Exhaustion
Throbbing, encompassing pain
Pressure
Skull too small
Light blinding
Noise roaring
Movement disorienting

I don’t have the time or energy for you, Migraine. I have boys to raise and care for. I have time I need to spend with them. I have smiles my husband deserves. I have projects that need work. I have dishes that need washing. I have exercising that needs doing.

My life is already a balancing act of getting the minimum possible done and doing things well. My time is already stretched too thin.

I have given you so much time and effort and have gotten nothing back from you.

You are a price I have paid since my first pregnancy and your interest rate keeps increasing.

When women give their body to their children, they go into it thinking weight gained, sleep lost, time surrendered.

What we really give is all that and more. My giving is my mind. My word filled, good memory, stress handling mind. All that gone. Replaced by migraines that steal my ability to read, my memory that loses whole chunks of time, my ability to confidently rise above a hectic situation with a smile and a wink.

Take my hands, Fate. Take my feet. Take my body and my mind. My heart I have already given to my family. You think you have beaten me by stealing my precious mind. You have not. I still have my sons and I can see the world through their eyes and their minds. My body wanes but theirs grow.

I give freely. Take it. I will not look back. This is better. I may never beat you, but you won’t beat me either. Dance with me, Migraine. I dare you.

From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/31/2013

Okay. Let’s do that.

So about a week ago, I noticed I was entering Sadness on the Grief Cycle. I had no idea how much this would affect all the different aspects of my life. Before I could write 10,000 words a day. I could barely wait a day before blogging again. I was sewing and painting. I never wanted to sit down and read a book because I had too much stuff to do. I was getting settled into my exercise routine to prepare for the upcoming 5K for Autism Speaks.

Now…now I am so ridiculously unmotivated it is frightening. The lingering sadness I am experiencing is coloring everything I do. Even brushing my teeth seems futile. They are just going to be dirty the next time I eat something. Sigh.

Sometimes it is my mood, but more often it is just the lens through which I see everything. I am still happy about a lot of things. Tyler is doing really well in school so far. We just ordered our Team Ty-Ty t-shirts. The Walk Now for Autism Speaks is only a little more than a month away. I am doing a Vendor Show in three weeks which will hopefully raise more money for the Walk and help me sell some of my horde of made baby items.

But everything seems a little less colorful…a little washed out.

Especially my creativity. I open a New Post screen on my computer and just stare at the blank box. Nothing comes. I will sew for a few minutes and then just wander away from the sewing machine.

I look at my Walk Now for Autism Speaks Walk Fund, which isn’t growing anymore, and instead of brainstorming new ideas, I just get discouraged and close the app. And it is stupid that I am discouraged because I have exceeded my goal for the year and I am really proud of myself and the people who have supported me. But then I think about all the families struggling with non-verbal children and bullying (the parents get bullied too) and it just makes me sad.

The ONLY reason I even know I am on this repeating grief cycle is because I have read books on autism and families dealing with it. How many other parents are out there that are going through what I am going through right now, but they don’t understand why? You know, when I am talking about autism awareness and trying to raise support for it, I am not only picturing beautiful, gifted children who need our help. I am picturing the mothers as well. The ones who are confused, angry, sad, and broken. The ones going through what I have had to go through and am still going through. I can look into the eyes of a mother of an autistic child and see many things that I wish I could take away. There is pride, love, and fierceness, but there is also brokenness, betrayal felt, and exhaustion.

How can we keep the good things of this experience but remove the bad? Tyler is AMAZING. He is loving and kind and honest. Having Tyler as my son is a blessing and I love every part of him. Even his autism. I would have been devastated if my parents had tried to force me to be right-handed. I have no intention of curing or “fixing” Tyler’s autism. He is unique and we need his perspective and contributions. But raising him to function in our world should not be a traumatizing event. So he needs to do things differently or needs extra help. Okay. Let’s do that. I shouldn’t have to fight for it. I shouldn’t have to bleed for it. I shouldn’t have to be broken in the process.

I wish mothers lived in a world where their child, whoever they are, are accepted as who they are. Do they need time with a professional therapist to learn to talk? Okay. Let’s do that. Do they need to have a place they can go to when things overload? Okay. Let’s do that. Do they need to get a service dog to keep them from wandering off and hurting themselves? Okay. Let’s do that.

Why isn’t that the answer more often. Okay. Let’s do that. We need a Let’s do that World.

I need to get out of my sadness funk. Of course, that will just land me in another category. Sadness can be good. I usually use the time I am stuck here to put things into perspective. I build up some inner reserves and just let myself be still for awhile. Life doesn’t slow down though and right now Sadness is not working in my favor.

So time to move on to another Grief category. Okay. Let’s do that.

For more on the Grief Cycle categories and other information I have picked up along my journey, check out my book.

From my heart,

Rachel

(c) Rachel Flinchum 8/30/2013

Beauty That Will Change You

On Sunday, our family went to a car club gathering. I did a bad job of prepping Tyler. We were going to a park that had a lot of playgrounds, so I told Tyler about the playgrounds.

When we met up with everyone there wasn’t a playground in sight. Tyler became really upset. I had to hold him while he cried and Ash walked around in the trees.

Everyone felt bad and we moved to an area with playgrounds.

Then there were two playgrounds. One was for kids 5 and older. Of course Tyler wanted to play on that one. But it was too dangerous for him and Ash, so I made them go to the smaller one.

Tyler had a lot of reasons why this was not a good playground. He tried saying there were too many kids and then not enough kids. He tried claiming there were too many rocks. My favorite excuse was that playing on it would make him tired.

Eventually he started playing. And then he was upset when it was time to leave to go to dinner.

At the restaurant he was inconsolable. He wouldn’t stop crying. There he said the restaurant smelled and was hot.

We normally don’t take him to restaurants unless they are fast food places with playgrounds. Tyler doesn’t eat much and he won’t eat out. So the thought of him sitting there while everyone else eats is a little laughable.

I ate quickly and Tyler, Ash, and I ended up sitting in the car while everyone else finished their meals.

These were all my husband’s friends. I didn’t talk to any of them because I was interacting with Tyler the whole time. But even though I felt disconnected with everyone there, I got the sense that everyone felt bad that Tyler was having such a hard time but that no one was angry at us because of his behavior.

I can get very defensive of Tyler, but my defensive side wasn’t necessary. It was a blessing in the midst of a very difficult time for me.

It reinforces the idea that people are capable of great good and that my dream of a world that holds autistic children in great value can exist.

I hope that one day having an autistic child won’t put parents into a grief cycle. That it can be seen as a blessing and not a tragedy.

We are all born as uncut diamonds. Autistic children are the same. Their inner beauty is locked more tightly away than most. But if given the right tools, they are diamonds with phenomenal clarity and beauty.

It takes someone who knows how to shape the stone. Someone who knows what to remove and what to keep. It takes parents but also teachers and doctors and therapists and siblings and friends all lending their own efforts.

It is a lot of work and many times you are holding your breath because you don’t know the next step and these stones are hard to visualize. these stones can’t be cut in the normal way. They are made differently in their very core, but if you learn to let the stone shine the way it was meant to, it will be the most beautiful sight you have ever seen.

Beauty that you cannot hold in your hands without being changed. Beauty that makes you more beautiful as well.

You will cut your hands and bleed. You will lose some of yourself in the process because it will take that much of you. But what you get back will be better.

To support these beautiful diamonds, please consider going to http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum to help me raise awareness and funds for families struggling to reveal their child’s beauty.

Become an advocate for children. Become a supporter of overcoming hardship and of being different…not less.

From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/27/2013

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I Will See You

Runnings errands with two small children is no easy feat. When Ash was a baby it was easier. He stayed in the carseat the whole time, even inside the store.

Once two mobile entities come into play, it gets harder. They do not bolt in the same direction.

Add Tyler’s autism into the mix and going out alone with them becomes a mythological trial of Hercules.

So for a long time I was trapped at home with the boys. Need groceries…gonna have to wait for the hubs to get home from work. Bored…get used to it. See Facebook pictures of families at pools or at restaurants…how alien and strange.

Recently I decided I was getting out of the house again. Fast food places with playgrounds and pet stores are frequent haunts for us.

If I am either super brave or super desperate, like today, we go to the grocery store and pray one of those special car carts are available. It seats two in the car part.

As we were leaving I was politely trying to explain to the cashier that I couldn’t listen to all the instructions for surveys and double points on gas because the boys were more than ready to go.

I look over at Ash and he is bolting for the front door. I call him to no avail, so I go straight into a run and catch him as he is leaving the store right into the busy parking lot. I was terrified. I barely caught him in time.

I go back for Tyler and the groceries and the whole store watches as I struggle out of the store with two small children and a cart that won’t turn.

I was angry everyone watched. I was angry no one offered to help. I was angry the cashier thought it would be a good idea to give me a five minute long speech when I was obviously struggling to control two small children.

As I got into my seat and started my car. A lady with a baby had walked up to the car next to ours. When my engine started, she looked over her shoulder and gave me a really nasty look.

A look I recognized.

So I waited until her baby was secure in her carseat and the lady had moved to the back of the car to unload her groceries. Even though there had been plenty of room for me to leave before then.

But even though it has been four years, and my current grocery store hurdles look very different, I still remember going with just the one baby. At the time, that wasn’t easy.

I almost didn’t even notice her. Our lives are so hectic and filled with struggles, that seeing moments that we can respond to is really hard.

It was so easy to wait for this lady to safely secure her baby girl before pulling away. How many of these moments am I blind to?

I read a Facebook post about the importance of caring about your community and country. Investing and sacrificing for your neighbors can turn a broken place into one of growth and strength.

That is what I want my autism advocacy to do. We have no grants we have applied for. We have not asked for any assistance or free services. I am not raising money and support for Tyler.

I am doing it for our community and our children. No family should have to raise a special needs child without professional guidance. No family should be broken by this. No child should feel broken. No community can be strong without understanding its children and the needs of their neighbors. No person is whole unless they understand the people around them.

People don’t understand autism. They don’t understand Spina Bifida. They don’t understand Down Syndrome. We see children with cancer and birth defects and disorders and we see an object of sympathy. We don’t see people. We don’t see a forming adult. We don’t see their potential…just their ticking clock.

I do it. I see a clock and a broken family. I am wrong.

I dream of a better world and of a stronger community. A proud community. And that community is one where you can take your baby and your kids out of your house and into that community.

One hard to see moment at a time is what it is going to take. I commit to opening my eyes. Will you do this with me?

From my heart,
Rachel

http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum for another hard to see moment

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/24/2013

My New Book

I am super excited. My new book is finished. I got a copy in the mail two days ago!

I know I put it on Amazon myself, but it was still crazy being able to find it on Amazon when I searched for it.

I loaded it up with pictures and poetry, but the bulk of the content is about figuring out how to get a better handle on life. It is about learning how to live again instead of just surviving.

It also has my most helpful info from my first book that includes some very important things that have helped me work with some of Tyler’s issues that come with his autism.

I even have the book listed on the Autism Speaks directory.

Please take a gander! If it looks interesting, order one. It came from my heart!

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/s/ref=is_box_?k=Rachel+flinchum

From my heart,
Rachel

(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/21/2013

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