I feel like a broken record coming here AGAIN with my tail between my legs because I am uncomfortable within my skin. Why should any of my variables be the exception for grace? (Grace to myself, Grace from others ~ and I know, I know – The opinion of others doesn’t matter.) I have a MILLION excuses as to why I am no longer the 6-pack-ab wearing hottie I once was. Maybe for you, you never were. OR maybe you are exactly the same since high school? (I have compassion for WHATEVER your story is)
I haven’t seen that body since I was 33. (12 years ago)
It went something like this:
I am 5’9 and in 2010 I was 160 pounds. Perfect BMI range.
Then I moved from Arizona to Michigan. Less physical activity in the cold and more drinking and eating brought me to 185-ish.
In 2013 I had my 3rd child. Then I was 215 – Slowly it would rise and fall to 210-230.
Finally, menopause stuff starts up, and all of a sudden I am 240! 80 pounds in 10 years!
I go on weight watchers and lose 30 pounds! woo hoo~
Then I miss periods and start hormone therapy to help balance out depression stuff and boom! I see 250 pounds for the first time in my life.
I find myself discouraged. All my hard work is gone. I have no energy for anything more than my responsibilities. I have wished time and time again that reading, writing, painting, or anything having to do with one’s mind… somehow burned the same amount of calories as a cardio session.
I am now at a point in my life where I have so many factors swirling around me, that I don’t have the control of my weight as I may have had at one point. So “Way to go, Tiffany! You blew your shot while you were in your youth”. My family is a plethora of beautiful creatures. For real, they could be their own modeling company. They are also intelligent and successful. I have had this conversation with my Mom hundreds of times. “Their path is not my path. None of them have been dealt my hand or I theirs. Who knows how they would be now if they were parents of disabled children & single & broke.” – Oh look, more excuses. The evil voice in my head assures me, they would still be beautiful and a CEO of a major company.
The next thoughts this provokes in me are ~ I just left a job of 7 years and in hindsight wished I would have done it years earlier. I felt like I wasted so much time staying put instead of living my best life. So maybe I am here UNsilently suffering when I should be getting off my butt and doing something. I have so many friends who have tried bypass surgery, who work at health clubs, and who find how to be active and not feel miserable. I just cannot find anything that feels right. I walked on my treadmill yesterday and the whole thing was just stupid.
I should probably mention I am afraid. My hips and joints are now hurting, undoubtedly because of the extra weight. I am afraid I will die before I can get my older two set up for when I am gone. I am afraid that my organs are being smushed and I am slowly killing myself. You’d think with all this fear I could muster up the gumption to just stop eating as much & just start walking/running/swimming – ANYTHING.
But I’m sad. Maybe just feeling sorry for myself and feeling the “Failure” within. I have NO excuse. I am just tired. I am trying to hold it all together to do what needs to be done.
I share this with you because I know I’m not alone in this.
I see you too, exhausted from giving your all day after day.
I see you having an extra 30 minutes to do anything and you choose to sit.
I see you teaching, cooking, driving, working, paying bills, cleaning, and just trying to fit it all in.
I see you supporting all of those people around you and slowly sinking at the end of the day with not enough energy for yourself.
When Trin was young, she said “Mum Mum”, “baa baa” and “Up”. Around 15 months of age, she stopped. No more words. She didn’t speak again until she was 4 & a half. We started using sign language. Simple things like “more” “all done” “yes” and “no”.
One of the therapies she took was Oral Motor. Definition: Oral-motor exercises are specialized exercises that aim to improve the strength, control, and coordination of the oral muscles (tongue, lips, vocal folds, and the jaw). She would chew & bite on devices and there were sensory things like tiny sponges on a stick that we would dip in juice and rub on the side of her mouth. Honestly, the staff was amazing and the lady developing this 20 years ago was groundbreaking and determined to help.
During these therapies, we realized that Trin was unable to “blow”. She wasn’t able to control the breath escaping her mouth which was probably why she wasn’t talking. (Or we prayed it was that “easy”)
She must have been able to before if she spoke before, right? So much is unknown as to WHY this skill was lost.
We did 20-minute sessions twice a day. Our house was filled with bubbles, horns, and party blowers. We had milk with straws at every meal and would encourage her to try blowing bubbles in her milk. We would play “Happy UnBirthday” weekly to see if she would blow out the candles. This went on for almost 2 years.
Then one day I was in the living room and I hear a squeaking noise. I get up and start looking around the house and I remember stopping in the hallway and thinking “Oh My Goodness… Could it be?!!?” Sure enough, Trinity was sitting in her closet blowing a toy horn!!!
A week later, she called me “Mum Mum”. I never knew if I’d ever hear those words again. 💙💛💚
#ThursdayAutismAwareness I will be sharing Autism testimony every Thursday. I have 21 years of experience.
Today I write about a man I don’t ever want to live without. My husband.
In 2012, I played an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role play game) video game on my computer (SWTOR- Star Wars the Old Republic). As a single mother of 2 autistic children, I needed a pastime that was in my home & also provided socialization. Going anywhere was a nightmare and respite & child care was a constant battle.
I spent years defending the galaxy with people all over the world. I was a healer. Shocking I know, taking care of others in the trenches. I participated in a LOT of PVP (player vs. player) battles and having a healer was essential. I didn’t suck and was asked to tag along all of the time. I found people I enjoyed. We all had our reasons for gaming. I actually met a lot of other parents of disabled kiddos. Then I met a man. We accomplished many things in the virtual world. We became household names on our server. (I wasn’t the best, but he may have been close LOL yolo) My name was Cuore. His name was Tae.
Finally one spring in April we decided to meet in person. He was in St. Louis for business and God himself threw together a dozen people to handle my kids for 5 days. It was bizarre meeting him LOL. It’s funny how you can talk with someone for hours each day and yet – being face to face is like starting from the beginning.
10 months later we decide to live together. The kids call him Mister Tae.
He was the first man to ever intentionally be a part of my children’s lives.
He was there:
When Trin was having MRIs for cysts in her brain.
When she got her period.
At EVERY SINGLE Special Olympic practice.
When Preston sang the National Anthem at multiple venues.
To teach them how to ride scooters.
Every Christmas he spent all the money he received as a gift, back on the kids – He wanted them to have everything they wanted.
To take Preston to the Movies and they played video games together.
To read to them at night and talked to them every evening at dinner about their day.
When the schools failed us.
At the ER/doctor when they got sick.
When they cried from frustration.
Dancing to Pikachu and Charlie the Unicorn Music.
Jumping waves in Lake Michigan.
And… a million other things. He was always there. He was there on the worst days when it would have been so much easier to leave. He chose us. He chose THEM. He chose to stay.
I am not the easiest person to love. I will be the first to admit this. I left my first marriage. I’m sure it was a relief for us both. I was different after having kids. The depression I had as a teen was amplified after childbirth. I am surprised we lasted as long as we did. I have baggage from childhood and I would rather have been alone the rest of my life than staying and making us both miserable. I will say, however – my first husband never asked me to stay. I’m not shaming him for that. Just noting a difference.
Mister Tae, James, Alex – He goes by many names in our home. He has seen me at my absolute worst. He has seen me ready to die. He has seen me fail, be ugly, & stuck in darkness. He also has been the one there to pull me out. He is loyal to a level I can only compare to God not forsaking us. My Husband loves me like I’ve never known love. He wants me to succeed, be happy & thrive. He wants me to have everything – lucky for him I am a minimalist LOL! He loves to travel as much as I do and will book us flights at a drop of a hat for a quick getaway. He is kind and takes care of me in a way I have been failed to by others, over and over again. I know God’s plan is perfect. I know I am exactly where I need to be to do His best work. I feel fully accepted, unfathomably loved & undeniably fortunate.
Mister Tae asked me to marry him a million times. This story is for another time, but after a few years, I finally agreed. This Friday will be our 8th Wedding Anniversary. It’s been messy and wonderful and hard and adventurous. He still makes me laugh and I can still make him blush. Cheers to many more!
This past weekend, my middle little turned 19 years old. Preston is my most polite child. All of my children have good manners but he is EXTREMELY polite. Every Single Time we are in a social setting since he was 5 years old, I have been told how polite he is.
Preston is also my child who struggled the most to be inside his own body. He has had a very difficult journey and has come so far! He is witty and creative and so so kind. He puts everyone else’s needs before his own. He has a gift for music. He has been asked to sing the National Anthem multiple times since he was 10 years old. Sporting Events, School Events, City Events ~ He is in demand. He is also my piano player and often gifts me music on my birthday and Christmas that he performs.
Preston was a twin and I lost his sibling early in the pregnancy. I remember praying for him to hold on, and stay strong. After he was born, I always had a lingering feeling that Preston’s twin was still meant to be. Maybe in my future. After he too was diagnosed as Autistic, I still held onto that feeling. My family thought I was nuts! “Tiffany! You have 2 Autistic kids, you do NOT need more on your plate!”
Growing up I always wanted 10 kids. I gave up that dream after Trinity was Diagnosed, but I was already pregnant again with Preston. I just knew with my entire being that there was one more. I was a foster parent for a few years and made a difference, but that wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
10 years later I was married to someone new & that’s when the baby came. The baby I KNEW I was supposed to have. Now I was done.
I share this story because I want you to know – Preston is BEST FRIENDS with this delayed sibling. You wouldn’t even know there are 10 years between them. His Autism makes him the same “age”. They enjoy the same things, play the same video games and watch the same movies. When Preston goes to a store while in transition academy (A daily skills school for disabled adults) he ALWAYS gets something for his little brother.
God makes no mistakes. It also confirms to me to trust my gut.
Me: “Hi Mom! The doctor just called and said the baby does not have down syndrome and she’s a GIRL!”
Mom: “Oh Tiffany I am so happy. Thank Goodness!”.
Me: “I am so excited! A baby Girl! YAY! Time to buy Pink tutus!! Will you let everyone up there know we have a healthy baby girl on the way please?”
Mom: “Yes, I will call Grandma first! This is such wonderful news!”
I think about this conversation often. I was one of the many women who had a false positive alpha-fetoprotein test. I had an amniocentesis to check the baby’s risk of birth defects and genetic disorders, such as neural tube defects or Down syndrome. I remember hanging magazine pictures of children and babies with down syndrome on my kitchen cabinets. I was ready to love my baby no matter how she was born & was processing it all in my head.
After the call, I thought the worst was over. I assumed I was in the clear.
How naive? Presumptuous? How wrong I was to think those were the only defects that were on the table. Maybe just inexperienced? Young? Maybe I just thought I was “Untouchable” because my entire family was healthy.
Looking back I see how insignificant I am. How limited my knowledge is. God trumps all of my plans. Life is never what we think it will be.
And yet, everything is perfect.
This was the first of many situations in that I began to realize we are all part of something bigger where anything is possible. Odds are bigger than they seem and I am not exempt from anything. But with each wave, I will flow with it all.
#ThursdayAutismAwareness I will be sharing Autism testimony every Thursday. I have 21 years of experience.
The Illusion of Money ~ James and I are reading this together a chapter at a time. I know I shared this before, but we are still working our way through it. He has been out of town and we only read when together. It isn’t about money really, but about false truths from your past preventing you from living in abundance. SO GOOD!
As I heal, I find peace. I have fully embraced my past. Embraced the pain & let down, and felt all of the emotions. I have grieved and told the little girl within me that all her feelings are valid and she was safe to feel all of those feelings. To cry it out, to get mad, to go through the emotional scale.
Then there is calm and I am “floating”. The peace I have now was worth feeling all of the pain. This whole time I thought I had dealt with it, but I had unreleased deeply suppressed emotions within. I still get triggers sometimes, but it’s NOTHING compared to before. I sit in the trigger, feel out the pain and repeat the healing process.
Making space in my life, to deal with this head-on (crying for weeks) was the BEST thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. Removing myself from everything that chipped away at my self-worth, has saved my life. Literally! I know realistically, that most people cannot just walk away from their job. Most people don’t have the ability to STOP life to deal with past trauma.
When I look back though, I am overflowing with relief and I cannot even fathom living out my days the way I have the last 4 years. I even feel like I wasted so much time suffering. We get ONE LIFE. Why are we muddling through trying to survive instead of dealing with our ISH and reclaiming our joy? I am ashamed I even thought I wasn’t strong enough to get to the other side of forgiveness. That I thought I could push it aside and ignore the pain. Or half deal with it – until I was distracted from Life and stopped.
Until it is dealt with – in your face – until you have felt it all and worked through the healing process – It WILL keep resurfacing. To take a few months out of my life to ensure the REST of my life will be full of love and peace, was worth it! I wish I would have faced the music years ago, but I know God’s plan is always perfect timing.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been so full of love. I notice I have more patience. A calm listening ear. I am more gentle. I started writing letters of kindness to people who have touched my life. I feel that this is a second chance and I want to do my part to bring sunshine vibes and good into the world. I’ve even started a Facebook group that’s sole purpose is to lift people up! Feel free to seek it out when you have a case of the blues.
I love my life again. Every inch of it.
This doesn’t mean I am not frustrated with menopause stuff or Stupid IEPs for the kids or that my husband doesn’t drive me bananas, it means I am a walking being of love. My entire view of what surrounds me has shifted. I forgive those who’ve brought me pain. I can say their name out loud finally and not feel sick to my stomach. I wish them all well and abundant happiness. It’s been a journey for sure, and like I said above, I still get triggers. But the worst is over.
I’m not sure how much more I will write in this forgiveness series. Maybe I will share AHA’s I get from my many books or any “Tiffany Epiphanies” I have from triggers yet to surface. But I want to thank you for sharing this rough road and seeing me through it. Hopefully, all that is left is Smoooooth Sailing.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had in my adult life is the struggle it is to have open communication with schools. Throw in IEPs and teachers who get personally offended when I ask questions and you have an armageddon.
This isn’t an “Autism” post per se because my youngest was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – PDD. Diagnosis is different from 20 years ago – now there are a million labels under the umbrella of “Autism Spectrum Disorder”.
School stuff causes me extreme anxiety. I’ve been doing IEPs for 17 years (my daughter got her 1st one at 3 years old and she is now 20). I know the policies and procedures and rules and laws. You would be surprised how many people are placed in a position they know NOTHING about and expect the parents to just sign. “Just sign it, it’s fine.”
I was supposed to give you a 10-day notice invitation to discuss the IEP, but I gave you 24 hours. “Just sign it, it’s fine.”
Even though I am about to wave your rights and say you declined to show. “Just sign it, it’s fine”
And we are going to leave everything the same as it was last year since you aren’t here to talk about it and that is what is easiest for us. “Just sign it, it’s fine.”
I have 60 more of these to do – and even though it’s MY JOB – which I wouldn’t even have if it wasn’t for your children, let’s just move along to the next kid. “Just sign it, it’s fine”
Oye Oye Oye~ !!!
Xander is going into third grade and this is the first year he would be eligible to be “held back”. He also has more testing this year than he has ever had in his school career. He is not mainstream (grade level skills) ~ YET. I knew all of this coming into the year and it had a great influence on my decision to walk away from my job. Last year it was difficult to run my business while spending hours a day making sure he comprehended the daily lessons. I know firsthand that early intervention is EXTREMELY important and while he is young, it is the most crucial time to get him caught up. My kids will always be my #1 priority and I couldn’t do it all.
The whole reason I share this topic today is that I had a chaotic morning with school stuff. Xander was moved to a different school a few days ago by accident which spiraled into a whole mess of Speech/Occupational Therapy and regular classes tornado cluster. I reached out to the new teachers, praying I wasn’t the annoying “in their face” parent. Even I hate that parent. But I had no idea what to do and it is my responsibility to get Xander into his classes. The new teachers were so kind. (enneagram 2 or 9’s I think LOL) and figured it all out. And they gave me a small bit of news that the “Just sign it, it’s fine.” lady NO LONGER works at the school! PRAISE GOD!
I walk into each school year with kindness in my heart, wanting to get along and work as a team to get my kids the best education that works for them, and I was terrified this mess would ruin these brand new relationships for the rest of the year.
My point: Hey Autism parents, I see you. I know sometimes it’s easier to get along and to “Just sign it, it’s fine.” and let them read to you what they think is best. But I am giving you permission to ask questions if things don’t seem right. I am cheering you on if you think there is an error OR you have a better idea and you bring it up! It is NOT disrespectful to want to understand what the plan is for our children and honestly, WE ARE NOT THERE TO MAKE FRIENDS. No matter how much we want people to like us, our responsibility is to our children, and their education – that trumps all. The IEP laws are in place to PROTECT our kids. To give the parents an opportunity to have a voice! We all know our children better than anyone else claims to. It’s wicked uncomfortable and causes mass anxiety, but God gave us these kids to protect, defend and set them up for success. I believe in you!
I have had an enormous response to my forgiveness journey. Thank you for reaching out and feeling all the feels with me. Thank you for supporting my intentional search for “Who I am, What I believe, and Where I am headed next.”
My “Biblical Faith” is new. I was in a small fishing town in Mexico for a retreat and who knew that one conversation and many nudges had me three weeks later, buying my first bible.
I am thankful that I wasn’t raised in Traditional religion. (Any religion) I have seen many bouts of “Inherited Faith” and can’t really wrap my head around it.
In my house growing up, I watched my Mom explore the world in search of Truth. I am thankful for exposure to many beliefs and for constantly being encouraged to find my own Truth.
I am slowly working my way through the Bible. It is not an easy read and I may have a spiritual advisor or two that I trust to break it down. I have also found many books & apps that really explain it all in a “For Dummies” type of way.
I share all this because so many of you “know” your truth. I see you. I am watching and learning and taking notes. As an enneagram 5, I am trying to gain as much knowledge as I possibly can.
Making a final decision on what my Truth is, is still up in the air – BUT I do know I have a minuscule existence in this world. I know that I am fully provided for and never alone. I know that everything is perfect although may be extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient.
I have seen many just drink the Kool-Aid and jump in head first. “I’m getting baptized!”, “I have joined a coven!”, “Metaphysics is where I belong”. I am so proud of you for being so SURE!
As for me, I’ve seen a woman I trust with my entire being literally travel the world in search of her truth and it wasn’t something she took lightly, and neither will I. No matter what faith I end up choosing, this spiritual journey has been incredible. I respect everyone who believes in something & dedicates their life to it. I will never judge the truth you hold.
I wander through this "waiting period", sharing life blips, autism testimonies, self discovery processes and growth inspirations ~
Until the Lord lets me know what I am to do next, I would love a cup of coffee.