Inspired

Happy Monday, folks. Between the two blogs and the normal day-to-day (with the extra life throws in as one goes), I’ll most likely be alternating my posting schedule. Thank you for your continued kind support.

These past few weeks, I’ve had varied reasons to reflect on drive: that inner something that propels one through the challenges life brings; keeping one’s focus on the prize despite obstacles (external and internal). For some reason, my mind jet-setted to a lady patient I had in my first, in-patient rehab setting.

This lovely lady will go by Margaret (not her real name). Margaret was about 65 when she came to me. She was much disfigured and disabled by a long-standing history of rheumatoid arthritis. Diabetes had also taken its typical (associated) toll on her vision and circulation: she was legally blind and had been admitted to rehab due to a below-the-knee amputation of one of her legs.

Margaret couldn’t really turn her head b/c of the arthritic changes. Her fingers were thick little sausages that couldn’t open wide enough to really hold on to a walker. And her hips and knees were already fairly contracted into flexed positions.

Little by little, Margaret shared pieces of her story. Sometimes, more than I wanted to know, on a highly-detailed and personal level. She had many a reason to be bitter and resentful of her past, but was one of the kindest, quietest patients ever.

Because of her multiple deformities and weakened state, no one expected much of this tiny, hunched lady. She was fitted with a prosthesis anyway. The physical therapist most likely adapted her walker so she could hold on to it, and Margaret found a way. She was able to walk short distances with her very-devoted daughter nearby, enough to manage in her living space.

For some reason, she wasn’t able to return home right away and wound up on an ‘alternate level of care’ at our sister facility. Unfortunately, ‘alternate level’ wasn’t good. Long story short, Margaret wound up with an amputation of the other leg, ABOVE the knee.

Anyone who has worked with prosthetic patients knows that walking with two below-the-knee prostheses takes less energy than getting around with one above-the-knee.

To this day I don’t know how she did it, but Margaret pulled it off. There was no way she should have accomplished what she did, but I’m thinking her drive, spirit and motivation made the difference. So did her daughter’s support.

Who am I to make excuses when I remember that?

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When You Take That Step Back…

A solution often shows.

Hi all and welcome to the next-to-last Monday of June. We are six months into 2014. How does time keep going faster?

Wimbledon is underway today. All the best to Andy Murray, defending champion, and all the players competing, especially the qualifiers. This is the professional tennis world’s biggie tournament, especially when it comes to prestige.

Ma n Kev  Mamma and YS (18 months)

Younger Son is a great kid, but definitely a work-in-progress. Although not diagnosed, my inner occupational therapist notes a touch of each of the following: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); anxiety; cognitive inflexibility and decreased frustration tolerance. (Translation for the latter two terms: being able to conjure a Plan A, B, C, etc and staying cool when the going gets tough. Neither skill is among this 15.5-year-old’s strong points. He’s also true to his ADD in that if something isn’t of high interest or motivation, he probably won’t be bothered with it.)

Did I mention when he gets an idea in his head—as in, my-Xbox-isn’t-working-at-9PM-Friday-night-so-we-have-to-go-buy-one-now—redirecting him is next to impossible?

A little background: The kid loves football. He played in a recreational league at age 10 (?) and maybe picked up an allergy to commitment sometime after that. He quit after a second season. During middle school, he came home with papers for wrestling and decided last minute he wasn’t joining. Talked about football too, but never took active steps to join his school’s team or any league, for that matter.

Aside: He finally agreed to join me on the tennis court this past weekend. If he practices and gets a feel for the court, his serve and winners have potential to take my head off. (Must be all that weight-lifting turning him into a power hitter.)

Back to the post: This past November, he asked me, “If I join a Saturday basketball league, do you think I’ll commit to football?”

Awesome question! (Showed insight into his issue.) “My suggestion: try and see where that takes you.”

That small commitment has so far resulted in having joined—and stuck to—training for football for the upcoming school year.

Hubby and I constantly express praise for how committed he has been to his decision.

He’s come up short in one place: commitment to his grades in school.

I’ll tell you true, folks, the boy is no stellar student. Not that I expect him to be, but a little effort here and there would be nice, especially when it comes time to studying for quizzes and tests, and especially since he gets a decent return when he takes a whole 15 or 20 minutes to look over his study guide nightly a few days before a test. (Homework isn’t an issue. He gets that done, usually w/o a hitch and w/o help, reminders, etc.)

Kevin kindergarten school pic Kindergarten

Long story short, I had to bite the bullet and step back when it came to freshman algebra. He was in danger of failing—and not having the necessary credits to play football come fall. I gave frequent reminders to pull out the material, do five measly practice problems a night, employ his older brother/math whiz for help as needed, go to teacher for extra help, etc.

The result? Viva la resistance. The only time he studied is when I hid the X-box controller. (Remember the high interest and motivation I talked about before? The grand irony: only the controller he liked went missing. He couldn’t be bothered playing with either of the other two sitting near his unit. “But I didn’t do anything!” he usually wails when he notices its absence. “Exactly,” Mom says. Then he’ll pull out his notes and come back, pleased as punch to claim an 82 on his Social Studies test. See what I mean?)

Anyway, I finally decided to stop “necking,” as he tends to say. In other words, if he failed algebra, he failed algebra. He wasn’t taking direction from me or his dad, and life lessons tend to stick better anyway, or so says MHO. (Besides, as a freshman, he has three years to make it up–he needs it to graduate. I figured if he loved the class so much the first time, why not sit through it another year? Or, better yet: rather than sleep late during vacation, he can get up every morning for summer school then go to football practice. 0:-).

photo (49)  One of my favorite pics, when YS played with the rec league. 

I also checked with his guidance counselor to find out if he has the credits to play next year. Somehow, I wound up getting a call from the supervisor of the phys-ed and athletics department.

I gave her some background on my guy and his lack of commitment to studying.

God (Universe, Higher Power, etc) provided the EXACT answer and direction I needed. The supervisor advised me to direct Younger Son to her office the following week. “In cases like this, I have the kids bring me their work on a weekly basis. If grades aren’t up to par, they’re not allowed to play.”

Woot! Younger Son will have to be accountable to someone other than his ma, his pa and himself. He enjoys pleasing teachers, coaches, etc, he likes (as long as the effort he has to put in isn’t overwhelming).

Being able to play and not be benched or not allowed on the team might be just the carrot that needs to be dangled in front of him to get him to commit to his schoolwork a tad more.

And mamma doesn’t have to be the studying enforcer.

Sometimes, you have to take a step back and be open to different ways a situation can work itself out. You might be pleasantly surprised at how life jumps in and gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get out of the way, let life take over and see where it takes you? Have you ever gotten what you need exactly when you need it?

Have a great day everyone!

Joanna

 

Letting Go: They’re Growing Up—Part 2

Hi everyone. Hope those to whom this applies got to enjoy a wonderful Father’s Day doing exactly what they love to do. I know my hunny deserved a great day. Hope he feels he got one. 🙂

As we’ve all come to learn about Joanna Aislinn, she is not particularly good about creating—let alone sticking to—a schedule.

I am very glad, however, to have hosted Christine Warner as she launches her next book, Secret Love. (If you missed it, the link to last week’s post is below.)

I wanted to tie into Stacey Wilkes’ Life Lessons of a Mom posts one more time. (They’re quite interesting and very mom-relatable, or so says MHO.  Feel free to check them out.  I linked you to her most recent.  This one and this one are read-worthy as well.)

Ended my post-before-last on the topic of overprotective Italian mammas with a promise of a post about D-Day, a.k.a., the day Older Son’s acquired the dreaded DL. That would be the—scary music please—Driver’s License. (Thought I was bad the day the kid went on the ski trip.)

Joanna n baby boys  Older Son is on my right.  

Background: I always remember a day when Older Son was eight. I was standing on a neighbor’s porch, watching my boy cross the street alone. Out of nowhere a thought hit me: That boy is halfway to his driver’s permit.

Well, that stay of execution came, sooner than any parent wants, I guess. At sixteen-just-turned, the boy did his six-hours-behind-the-wheel course and practiced driving with his mamma every chance he could. (Talk about not feeling in control that first time the kid is controlling the car and mamma is in the passenger seat. The perspective changes big-time!)

DL Day came in December—on a snowy morning. He already had a car and went to school with it immediately after finishing his road test.

Aside: My Italian mamma didn’t let me take a car alone anywhere for the first six months. See? I’m much better at letting go than my ma was–and is. She’s an off-the-boat Italian mamma–and far, far worse than I. Just sayin’.

Back to the DL-Day: That evening, Older Son told me he was picking up his girlfriend at work, off a nearby, VERY BUSY highway. No way was that boy going onto THAT highway, and driving up a slippery, snowy and/or icy ramp in the dark w/o his mamma.

He did fine until after we picked her up. I knew where three lanes on that stretch become two; wasn’t sure the kid did. Not sure, either, whether he noticed the semi-trailer merging right to left—sans blinker—at that exact spot.

Mamma calls out: “Watch the truck!”

Older Son swerves left at the very instant a car flies by on the same side.

Don’t ask we didn’t get side-swiped. God was watching I’m sure.

We got out of there safely and dropped off his girlfriend at home.

Mamma promptly lost it, on the less-than-five-minute-drive between our houses. Older Son, in all his compassion, pulls over and hugs his mamma. “I knew this was coming.”

“I’m sorry! It’s just that I love you so much, and I know I can’t hold you back, but I’m so scared at the same time.” Sob, sniffle. Sniffle, sob.

The next morning, I got up and did the li’l old Italian lady thing—sobbed like a fool—while everyone else slept. The morning after that, the inspirational books came out.

By the end of that first week, people often asked, “How’s the driving going?”

“I’m doing much better,” I would answer.

I realized then I hadn’t texted the kid—for the first time in a week—to make sure he’d gotten to school.

I suppose I’m doing better, almost seven months since DL Day. I’ve survived his first snowboard trips with only a friend, and a spring-break ride to the shore. The next biggies: going to the shore with his friends and no parent(s).

The weekend-after-the-senior-prom deal is more than a year away.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

photo (33)  This was taken on the first day of this school year. (Only they aged, right? Right??) The brute on my right is Younger Son. He’s training for a lineman position for his high school’s football team. (Now why can’t either one of these guys be into a nice safe sport like…uh..tennis? 😉 )

Check out Christine Warner’s virtual visit here.

Have a great parent war story to share? I’d love to read about it! Solidarity!

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for indulging me!

Joanna

Could We Have Possibly Done Something Right? (Part 6 and Done :)

The Australian Open Tennis Championships are underway! The first Grand Slam of 2014 is here! Tennis in the morning. Tennis after work. Tennis in the evening. Tennis at night.

And everyone wonders why I don’t get any real writing done. (“Yeh,” say the Aussies).

Yes, I’m moving on. Maybe a calming chamomile tea is in order. (Nah. Hate tea. Coffee’s my brew.) Hope everyone is well, this second full week of the New Year.

Can I possibly wrap up this series? I suppose I should have be done, but one incident with Older Son (OS) stands out too much to not share. And it’s so interesting how several seemingly unrelated events came together to help Hubby and me with our responses to the situation.

OS turned 17 this past November. In my state, that means a driver’s license, which he got December 11, 2013.

That means OS has had a driver’s permit since April. Sometime before June he came across a used car for sale, pretty much what he wanted, and a great deal for him. Hubby and I had our misgivings, but we allowed him to use a portion of his savings to buy it.

It got parked at a friend’s house, pronto, not to be registered or insured until he got the DL.

On a mid-June weekend this past summer, Hubby and I were supposed to go to our PA cottage. A dear friend had passed away and we’d hoped to attend the funeral, which was in the vicinity. OS was scheduled to work and Younger Son (YS) is in the ‘bored’ stage in PA (no internet connection for the X-box in the woods).

Because putting together arrangements for a responsible adult to be available to a 14- and 16- year-old was turning out to be more tedious than we figured it should have been, Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to stay home. Neither of us felt all that comfortable leaving the kids home while we were three hours away. And we’d visited my friend twice during her bout with cancer, so I felt better knowing I’d connected with her before she exited this life.

So, there we were Saturday afternoon, June 15th. Kids are both out and Hubby decides to step out—maybe run to the deli or something along those lines.

He came home livid.

He’s spotted OS driving his should-have-been-parked-car, with his girlfriend (GF) in the passenger seat.

OS came in a few minutes later, pleading his case for the necessity of the run.

Hubby grounded him on the spot, including not allowing him to attend a rather formal birthday party he and GF were due at in less than two hours.

Not sure I agreed with Hubby’s choice of handling the situation—he was pretty mad—and the party, as far as I could see, had nothing to do with the transgression. I spoke to Hubby privately (so that OS wasn’t aware of the conflict of opinions Hubby and I had), but supported his decision since it had already been made, and he felt very strongly about not changing it. He believed strong action that showed OS the severity of his transgression was necessary. I did agree with the rationale, but might have chosen a more related form of discipline (i.e., revoked even permit-driving privileges for x-amount of time, or something along those lines).

Aside: GF was kind enough not to attend the party w/o OS.

So, that’s how Saturday, June 15th went. OS probably said something to me here and there, but I reminded him (nicely) that he’d made a choice, got caught and now had to deal with the consequences of his action.

The next morning we realized there was some emergency vehicle activity going on a few blocks from our house. Being the mind-our-own-business folks we usually are, Hubby walked down to scope out the action then texted OS and GF to come down. They took off on their skateboards.

A FIFTEEN-year-old boy had taken his mother’s SUV—she had gone to church—piled in at least three friends and lost control making a turn. He ploughed headlights first into an electrical pole. (Don’t ask how the force at the bottom toppled the top third of the pole, knocking it onto a power line and taking out the electricity to one or more houses on that street.)

OS hung out, and chatted for a while with the tow truck guy, who talked about the law-end of what this kid and his family would be dealing with in the not-so-far-future. And that kid won’t be seeing a driver’s license anytime near his 17th birthday. (He kind of seriously messed up that privilege.)

So what’s my point? Hubby and I could have ranted and raved at OS for making the impulsive choice he did. We didn’t. In agreement or not, we stood united in doling out consequences. (We are lucky. OS takes his lumps like a man (?). YS shows a much more dramatic side, but eventually does his time—often the next day, once he’s calmed down.)

I’m getting at this: LIFE stepped in and demonstrated a real-life example of what could happen when a kid takes a vehicle, especially if said kid is not terribly skilled/experienced at handling it. Sans getting preachy, we used that illustration to point out how flippin’ lucky OS was that his actions the day before cost him a party and little else.

And how crazy was it that Hubby and I stayed home and Hubby just happened to be on the same road at the same time OS had taken out his car? Coincidence? I’m not so sure…

Anyone out there with similar experiences to share? Please do! How did you handle it? Would you have grounded OS from the party? If not, what consequences might you have imposed? Did life show up with a lesson better than anyone you could have given?

Have a great day, folks,

Joanna

Discipline V. Control (Part 4): An Opportunity to Learn

Happy Tuesday! To those of you who returning for more of this series, I do thank you. For those just tuning in, here are links to parts one, two and three–in case you want to catch up!

One more illustration on discipline, control and the idea of giving a kid the opportunity to learn, then I promise I’ll let this subject go—after one more post. (If y’all want to deal in it more, feel free to let me know in the comments, via email or on Facebook.)

This example is fresh in my mind, as it took place the week I was getting together this monster of a post, lol. My younger guy—the thirteen year-old I’m giving up for Lent—can be a little inflexible in his thinking and difficult to redirect once he has an idea in his head. I can also tell you, he’s typically not nice when he doesn’t get his way.

Like his mother, he likes order and visually pleasing spaces. One evening, he wanted to hang a curtain in the doorway between the laundry room and the semi-finished area of the basement where he hangs out to play video games. I hung the brackets for a rod there about 8:30PM and gave him an idea of how to thread the curtain onto a rod. (He got one from my bedroom closet about an hour later.)

I’d just sat down  to check email (circa 10PM) when he started calling for help with the curtain rod, which he didn’t know how to get onto the brackets. Long story short, he started throwing a typical fit when I told him I’d help him the next day. Rather than react—a.k.a. yell (and please don’t ask me where I get this stuff)—I told him he was putting me in the position of being a ‘bad parent’ if I went down to help him when he was behaving in such a manner. He blustered some more then all got quiet downstairs. Next thing I know, he came up, gave me a hug and said, “I figured it out.” (Maybe I’ll give him up for only part of Lent.)

See? This post is even shorter. (I think. ;)) Back to your experiences. What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?

Next time, I’ll take this one step further: regrouping and starting your day over after you’ve really lost it with your kids–probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do.

Okay, my new mantra of a request: if you like what you read here, would you kindly take a second and click the Facebook, Twitter or any of the share buttons below? (Any others you like that I may not be represented here works as well!) Reblogging is nice too, and helps get word out to others in cyberspace. By working together, we can each get our content and our names out to that many more people. Mega-thanks!

Have an awesome day,

Joanna

Diane Lang–More Blessings

This just in from Diane Lang, and at a time when, just yesterday, I was speaking to a friend about something I perceived as very negative. She suggested I ‘bless it’ rather than complain about it. I’m now working on that and figured it tied right in to Diane’s email. Thanks to my friend and to Diane for passing these on!

Hi! My sister shared with me that I needed to update my abundance list for the fall/Winter season. So, I added some seasonal blessings.

More Blessings…

*I feel blessed to see the leaves changing colors and how pretty my drive to work,school,etc with all  the pretty colors

*I feel blessed to cook all this great food on the holidays and to open my doors and welcome in family and friends to share with me

*I feel blessed that everyday I wake up, nothing exciting has to happen, I’m just grateful to see another day

*I’m blessed that I actually learned less is more and really truly understand what it means

*I’m blessed that everyday is a new chance to help others and be the best person I can be

*I feel blessed that I get to see my 12 year old dog roll around in the snow like he is a puppy all over again

*I feel blessed to watch my young daughter put on her snow suit and run outside to make snow angels

*I’m blessed that I can bring out the child in me and make snow angels with my daughter

*I feel blessed that I can let things go and realize it’s ok not to control everything – what a release it is to let things go!

*Finally, a personal blessing- I feel blessed for the illness I ‘am going through because it’s taught me to slow down, let go and trust within

Thank you to everyone for being part of my blessings. I’m so grateful to share my thoughts with all of you. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Please feel free to share your blessings/gratitude moments with me.

Thank you

Diane Lang

http://www.dlcounseling.com

Ten Year Wake-Up Call–Or Not? (Part 2)

Last time I talked aboutSeptember 11, 2001and how ten years elapsed since the day that date gained the dubious status of “a day that will live in infamy,” much likeDecember 7, 1941.

I shared how time passes, how I barely notice and how that decade mark tends to wake me up a bit to how quickly time really flies. (Sorry folks. A cliché is cliché for a reason. It resonates.)  Of course, my topic ran away with itself, so I opted to explore a point separately. I want to talk about prioritizing and ‘making time.’

IMHO, life today is so crazy because ‘priority’ is a term that applies to pretty much everything in one’s home and work lives. My kids want me at the ready and all my schoolwork, housework and everything else needs to be done yesterday. Yes, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the point ties into when I worked at my first hospital.

By my third year there, I was a senior therapist and supervising most of the occupational therapists that treated the rehabilitation-bed patients. I worked in a teaching hospital, on a unit whose beds were being increased faster than staff was hired. One day, I went to my director one on behalf of a very burnt-out group of young women. She told me we needed to work on ‘time management.’ I very respectfully told her we’d already done that to the very limits of human capability given the workload we had. In short—and I told my director this: “We have no time left to manage.” Despite the realities, we had to get creative and learn how to ‘make’ more time in a day.

That brings me to my biggest life lesson on the subject, one I still let life get in the way of routinely, I guess. (Hey, the day-to-day gets in the way.) I had a cousin who was my mom’s godson. Every now and again we’d chat. He was always pleasant and I always enjoyed talking to him. As Italians tend to do, we visited him in his new home after he married and had his first son.

He moved to a new home. My mom kept getting on my case that we had to go see it (it’s an Italian thing and since my mother doesn’t do highways her only daughter gets assigned designated driver). Every time I ran into this cousin he too, reminded me to bring my mom over for a visit.

Never managed to scare out that time. By the ten year mark, he and his family had moved into a third home. Now my mom was really on my case to visit. So was he—as always in a fun way—when I called to give condolences after his mother-in-law passed away from cancer. His also shared that his father (my dad’s first cousin) had been diagnosed with a terminal illness as well. He hung up, laughing as he said, “I’m not talking to you anymore. It’s too depressing.”

I’m sure we had other conversations but I consider that one our  last real one.  While at a sporting tournament with his teenage son my cousin started getting terrible headaches and vomiting. A visit to the doctor led to one with an oncologist. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died nine months to the day he got diagnosed.

In ten years I never made the time to visit him in his new home.

Ten years.

That’s a huge chunk of time.

Italians are big on dovere—duty. When someone dies, you show up at that person’s family’s home in a show of sympathy and support. My cousin passed away in the early morning hours of the Tuesday following Labor Day. That night, I managed to get to his house. Amazing how I was able to make getting to his house a priority then.

And I still let life get in the way of making time for the things that really matter.

Hope you do better at that than I do.

Joanna