books that help

My mom told me about this book, after hearing the author interviewed on CBC radio.
Its about a goose...."Gus", who is "direction impaired", and can't do (fly in the right direction) what come's easy to other geese. Comparable, as intended by the author, to a learning disability of a child. What seems straight forward to one child (reading, spelling), might be a great source of anxiety to another.

My son wants so much to be "the same" as his classmates. And in many ways he is. However, I sense there is a small flicker of shame growing inside his little soul each time he's pulled out of the classroom for speech therapy or spelling, or when his anxieties overcome his perception of a problem. Liam may excel when it comes to math or historical facts, yet in other areas of the gr. 4 curriculum, he faces a great deal of difficulty.

Part of this struggle stems from the fact that his speech-delay messages certain words back to his brain incorrectly. Which then makes spelling out those words (especially those with silent letters), almost impossible for him to figure out. Thankfully, there hasn't been any serious bullying or teasing from his classmates, but his own frustrations and anxieties produce negative thoughts and self-talk. L often tells me during homework, that he feels stupid and dumb.

If it is appropriate, I may buy the book and leave it out for Liam to read on his own. Books are such a wonderful tool for generating conversation, aren't they? and this is topic, of accepting ourselves, is one that I can't talk enough about.


where ya at?

i haven't written about depression in a very long time.
there is just so much to write and express.
there are so many things that have happened since this past December,
~when in a crumpled mess i desperately hailed the white "i surrender" flag.
~when i admitted it to myself, and those closest to me, that i just couldn't "do it" anymore.
~when i let go of caring too much, and slept for about a month.
There have been so many highs and lows since that time.... I've pretty much avoided the subject all together. 

In brief, what have the past 10 months looked like?
I've been without work,
I've talked to a few professionals,
I've said "no" to many commitments.
We've moved.
and I've taken a nap (if not 2), pretty much every single day.

In brief, what have I to show for it?
Am I better now?
{That is one of the frustrations around a disease like depression, it is invisible....a brain or mental disease. There are no large tumors to take away (for which I am grateful), no x-rays to refer to...no concrete tests to show that my body is better or that things are improving. Instead they look for signs in my: level of fatigue, appetite, weepiness, thought patterns, motivation, and the all encompassing ability to handle "stress" ..... large crowds/ fighting children/ grocery shopping/ getting out of bed/ getting dressed/ having a shower/ using the phone/ leaving the house/ church/ school functions/ hosting company/ cleaning/ driving the car/ making appointments/ advocating for my children.....}
Yes, stress in depression is mainly formed through the basic day-to-day stuff that just isn't easy anymore.
And yes, I can honestly say that I AM feeling better.

I see that demonstrated in my ability be involved in SOME activities again without feeling overwhelmed. I am not as tired all the time...and my appetite is back. Hooray! (I guess I was never meant to keep off those 10 lbs).Ha!
Interestingly enough, the greatest observation I have made within the realm of depression, is how I am not alone. Not alone in the experience. In the on-going battle. Other people are out there that can relate.

Until I began sharing on the blog, I wasn't aware of all the people around me, who have or are currently coping with, this disease. It has both surprised and saddened me. I welcome every single window or glimpse into someones soul, into another's vulnerability. I not only welcome, but I cherish and feel honoured. Talking about depression is incredibly difficult, especially to someone who "doesn't understand". So to commune with someone who has "been there" is like a balm to a very fragile, painful wound. It is a blessing from the Lord. He gives us people to feel safe with. He gives us comfort through people who understand.

I am so very thankful for all the comfort, compassion and love I have received in these last 10 months. I don't feel the same shame that I used to around this topic, and I don't feel alone anymore. (Thank you to those who have had courage to share your vulnerabilities, and your struggles with me...God bless you. I hope we can continue to find safety in each other.)

Two quotes I've found incredibly inspiring from Brene Brown's book "The gifts of Imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be, and embrace who you are."

"Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others." p. 16
"Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection." p. 53.


a journey

You pack your suitcase.
You are going on a trip.
Inside you've carefully folded your best dress, your prettiest shoes, and some good books to read.
Your train is scheduled to leave any minute,
and you sit on a bench at the station, waiting to hear the whistle.

When it arrives, you proudly hand your precious luggage to the conductor
and board the narrow waiting room on wheels.
You've been planning this vacation for such a long time,
and now that you are here, you can hardly believe it is happening.

As you sink back in your plush seat, and close your eyes,
the trains wheels slowly begin to turn.
You feel yourself moving forward, just as you had imagined it.
After awhile, when you finally open your eyes, you blink....
and blink again.
You gasp.

Pressing up against the smudged window you gaze upon an unfamiliar landscape.
You do not recognize the countryside that whips past.

The passengers around you do not look alarmed,
so you lean back and try to relax.
You close your eyes again,
hoping the view will change.

But rechecking only adds to your bewilderment.
Now you not only see an unfamiliar landscape, but an entirely different season.
The weather was hot and muggy in the train station, when you left home...
you are shocked to now see mounds of snow covering the world that flashes past.

Without further hesitation you turn to the nearest occupied seat.
You must make sense of this,
Excuse me? you sharply ask a fellow traveler across the aisle,
Why does it look like winter outside?
The young man with whom you speak, looks at you with a vague, annoyed expression.
And responds with words in an unfamiliar language.
You shake your head and turn away.

Now your ears become acutely sensitive to the voices around the coach.
They are muffled but unmistakeably a language you do not recognize.
A staff person comes by with a tray of refreshments, and offers you a drink, but you
don't understand what she says to you.
But why? You are in Canada!

What is going on? Doesn't anyone speak english here?
Are you dreaming?
Your heart starts to race as you fear that you've somehow made a mistake,
and boarded the wrong train.
Finding your ticket you rise out of your seat and wave frantically at the conductor
to come to your aid.

When you ask him the question as to the trains destination,
the conductor forms a now familiar expression, one of hesitation and uncertainty.
He can't understand me, you realize.
And when he speaks, you are horrified to realize that you can't understand him either.

With one last ounce of determination, you again ask for help.
slower this time.
Pointing at the ticket stub and then towards the window,
Your fate seems to rest on the conductor understanding your predicament.
But his polite face becomes increasingly strained, and his answer is absolute gibberish to you.
His tone however, is unmistakably impatient and rude. That much is clear.

Pushing past the conductor, and weaving through the aisle you then
desperately try to find something (anything!) familiar about the train you boarded.
You notice that the passengers are wearing strange clothing.
You feel sick to your stomach, frightened, and very, very cold.
People look up at you with questioning stares.
Pulling themselves into their seats as if to avoid your touch.

Panic rises up in your throat. You can't breathe.
In a state of great agitation and anxiety you break down, and start to cry.
Your shoulders shake, and you are overcome
not caring if your distress is evident.

What is happening to me?
Where am I?
Why doesn't anyone understand me?
Why is everyone staring?
Am I going crazy?
You start to collapse and your knees give way.
You find yourself giving in to the loss of your strength,
and fall in the cramped aisle.

Someone moves toward you.
You recoil initially when a warm blanket is placed over your body.
But a comforting hand grasps your shaking hand.
Are they friend or foe?
The person brings comfort and looks kind.
Its her eyes. They seem safe.
You relax a bit.

It is then you notice something weighted hanging on your wrist, a bracelet.
It has an inscription, a word, but you can't read it.
You can figure out what it says.
Its a long word.
You wonder how the bracelet got there.
You don't like it, and try to take it off.
Unsuccessful, you sigh and surrender to your bodies fatigue.
More confusion. More frustration. Its all so tiring.

The blanket grounds you. It settles your anxiety a bit.
You don't want to move for fear of facing more of the unfamiliar.
The awful strangeness that has paralyzed you with fear.
As you feel yourself doze off, you remember your suitcase,
and promise yourself to ask for it,
when your strength has returned...
In the morning, or the evening,
or whenever you wake from this horrific, frightening nightmare.
This journey turned horribly different than you had imagined or planned.


a promise to you

our days are crowded
our minds are crowded
our hearts are crowded

 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
Jeremiah 29:13


School mornings at the Rygiel household, are generally busy, frantic....and loud. No matter how much I try to prepare ahead of time (make lunches, have clean clothes ready, lay out agendas and permission slips to be packed), there is usually a school bus-load of crying, impatience and scolding.
This morning was no exception.

Safe to say our hectic morning routine, wouldn't have inspired a Norman Rockwell painting. The familiar Saturday Evening post artist tended to gravitate to deeply serene, nostalgic images of family, or pleasant day to day interactions. Scenes that depict anger and frustration he left for ......Jackson Pollack?
We'd probably be better represented by the folks from Family circle or Dennis the Menace.
With pride of course.

Part of the frustration we experience each morning, is the tension between MY expectations (of what I think the children should be able to do without reminders), Kent's expectations (of how the children should be listening and responding), and the children's actual abilities at that hour of the day. It all turns into an imaginary cocktail called "butting heads" (please drink responsibly).

Parenting is an incredibly challenging, stressful, mind-altering, sleep-depriving experience (I'm sure you know that already). And I wouldn't give it up for the world!! However, I've heard that much of the stress in parenting isn't so much in relating to your children, but in relating to your spouse. It takes practice learning the intricate dance of  how to teach, mold and instruct your children, TOGETHER, without stepping on each others toes.

Plans of actions, implementations of behavioural modifications, correcting mistakes, encouraging learned skills, and getting your kids motivated and out the door.... only works smoothly, when both parents are actively communicating the same thing and on the same page. Do I hear an amen?! (thank you Beth Moore). Kids tend to get confused with what they are to do when a parent interrupts, and corrects the other, in the middle of a request.
Spouse 1: "Johnny, please go get your shoes".
Johnny gets up and walks to closet.
Spouse 2: "Johnny doesn't need to get his shoes yet, he needs to brush his teeth first."
Spouse 1: "Johnny brushed his teeth already when you were in the shower, he needs to put on his shoes so we arn't late!!"
Spouse 2: "Why are you mad at me?"
Spouse 1: "What are you talking about? i'm not mad at you, I'm just stressed!"
Spouse 2: "You sound angry"
Spouse 1: "Good grief! I'M NOT ANGRY!!!!
Spouse 2:  "Hey, where did Johnny go? He's supposed to put on his shoes....?"
Spouse 1: "oh look, he's on the driveway. Barefoot, holding his toothbrush".

I am not writing that from personal experience, for I've never personally heard anything so outlandish and ridiculous. That poor couple. Pray for us them.

Since this mornings loud parade out the front door once again provided live entertainment for the entire neighborhood, I decided to take the matter into my own hands, and do what I should have done weeks ago! Boldly go and purchase something off the internet. Yes. SOME kind of tool to assist us in generating independence, cheerfulness and family unity, without having to break the bank, and or anyone's pride ("toes").

Ta DAH!!!!!! Meet the "Kids daily activity organizer", from Amazon.com.

Kent and I are very unified in the purchase of this handy dandy, color infused sensory overloaded, clothes divider creation. Our families survival is counting on the children's motivation to fill each little cubby with a daily outfit, so that they can (GaSp!) go on their own to their closets each morning, and get fully dressed without asking for help. No more,
son: "MOM have you seen my star wars t-shirt?" mother: "which one dear, you happen to own over 10". son: "the black one". mother: "they are all black". son: "the black one with darth vadar." mother: " there are 2 in the laundry and 3 more somewhere in your room." son: "but I promised my friend that I would wear "this" specific one. I'm too tired to go get it.....can you find it for me pleeeeease."

Here's to the multi-coloured clothes organizer. If this doesn't work, we may just start charging our neighbors  admission fees if and when they insist on watching our performances.


This intrigues me

cool blog

from We are THAT family.
I turn to this blog from time to time.
I love Kristen's servant-heart, resourcefulness, and her ability to be kind to herself when admitting failure/or disappointment.

I'm thinking Erma was pretty resourceful herself.
Should have thought of the playpen idea when I had the chance!
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