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Keep experiencing and don't avoid.

Last month I got an email from a woman named Lisa. She was encouraging me after that crazy trip to the post office. The point of her email was this: keep experiencing and don't avoid. As an occupational therapist she has seen many families (kids and parents) benefit from experiencing rather than avoiding. I totally resonate with this idea.

And you know what? It is hard.

Sometimes it is easier to just avoid, go down the same path, not take the risk, just stay home. Especially with a special needs kid who responds differently to everyday situations. In all reality, it does no one any good to avoid.

Sometimes I want to avoid stuff. Like taking Simon to school. He does awesome when Chris takes him - when I do, it's not so awesome. The reason? It is different. Things that are different are hard for SImon. But helping him through these things, and finding ways to work through the moments, are part of my responsibility as his mama. I have to put aside my own feelings of wanting to avoid so that I can make his experience better. So that I can show him that different is ok.

Simon likes to try to avoid stuff too. Like meat. Lately we have been working with him on trying new foods (anything other than potatoes). The school is on in the whole adventure with us as well. Here is a copy out of our communication notebook talking about meat:

Putting the meat on his tongue is the first step. Then gumming, Then maybe chewing and potentiall swallowing...and maybe even ending up liking it. So many things in our lives involve experience rather than avoidance. Experience makes our lives richer. It helps us develop or true sense of self. Assists in the development of our minds and our hearts.

Maybe there is something out there that you are avoiding (as simple as meat, as complex as the changes you need to make to live a happy, passion-filled life). Something that appears to be so very hard to experience. I ust want to take a minute to encourage you to take that step today - whatever that means for you.

Life is for living.

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103 thoughts

  1. Kimberly L.C. says…
    08/03/2006

    Oh my... have you had a hidden camera trained on my life??? This message resonnates with me so much right now. There are so many things I need to do to be happier right now -- find a new job (stop avoiding the application process), exercising consistently (stop avoiding the gym) and stop avoiding the realization that I can't make everyone happy all the time and just do my best to be happy and live fully with those around me. Thank you Ali!

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  2. Alana M says…
    08/03/2006

    True enough...

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  3. jenn shurkus says…
    08/03/2006

    as always thank you ali for the wrods of wisdom.... i always find them so refreshing.. and use them to reflect on whats going on in my life at the time :)

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  4. capello says…
    08/03/2006

    I have a hard time pushing myself to do stuff, because it can be so much easier not to (one of my sons and I have sensory integration disorder, which for me turns into public panic attacks at times).
    But life is so much full if it is *lived*. And thank you for getting the message out.

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  5. Yvonne says…
    08/03/2006

    Ali,
    I have to say that this post comes at a very timely time.
    It is very h ard to keep experiencing and not avoid -- as it puts so much stress in our lives. I hope Simon will like eating meat progressively -- especially the kebabs when he grows up!

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  6. Denise says…
    08/03/2006

    Thank you. I so needed this post today. :o) Feeling much better now...

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  7. Shawnna / flipflopmom says…
    08/03/2006

    I so LOVED your post today -- have been trying to get the ball rolling with Modifications and such at Noah's school -- he has Tourette Syndrome -- and was diagnosed this year but because we moved and he is going to a different school - i feel like a lot of the progress we had made with the last school has been washed away and now we are starting ALL OVER -- frustrating but NECESSARY -- I want him to have the BEST EDUCATION -- (change is really hard for him to deal with too) -- thanks for being so open about your life -- and know that it gives others the extra push we need sometimes
    thank you

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  8. Ilona says…
    08/03/2006

    Just wanted to say how much you inspire me. I met you in Ohio at scraptacular and love your books, articles, blog and view on life. YOU ROCK! Scrapping has really helped me put in words how I feel about things that happen in my life as well as make me feel creative. When I am having a bad day with my kids I keep reminding myself to be grateful for what I have in them. There are so many others who face challenges with their children that I can't even imagine. As a stay at home mom I found myself in a comfortable rut and decided to push myself and start watching a friend's children 2 days a week. Everyone thought I was crazy to do this but it pushes me in a way that I like-trying to be more organized and utilizing my time better. Well thanks again for giving all of us something to think about. I have a five year old who is just starting to eat cooked chicken and turkey (not nuggets!) and I feel very proud! Hang in there and safe trip!

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  9. Gina says…
    08/03/2006

    My three year old son is autistic. I struggle with this very thing. I too have resigned, as you, to go do those very things. The beach petrifies my son. My job as his mom is to be the "buffer" to the world. But if I ignore this all important task, and keep him isolated, he may never experience the richness of life I could have shown him. As mommies we alone have that unique opportunity. The unique chance, before they are grown and it's really too late. What a fresh perspective you have. Beautiful and true. I'm with you, I understand.

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  10. Sarah G. says…
    08/03/2006

    I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother of 4, one of whom has Autism. The other 3 have inherited my hesitancy in trying new things, activities and going new places. I don't want them to have this life-limiting trait. So the statement that has become somewhat of a family mantra, "Sometimes you have to be brave."
    Go Simon, sometimes you have to be brave.
    Sarah G.
    Olympia, WA

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  11. katie says…
    08/03/2006

    Ali, you are just incredible. And I really mean that. With all of life's challenges you don't let them turn you away, you just move forward. You are the living definition of "inspiration".
    Take care & safe travels!

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  12. laura t. says…
    08/03/2006

    so true for children & adults...thanks for the reminder. and wtg Simon with the meat!

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  13. Jen says…
    08/03/2006

    Wow, what an important reminder. Thank you for sharing this with us today!

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  14. Denise Kashyap says…
    08/03/2006

    WOW, you hit the BULLSEYE. This is so dead on, so applicable to me at this moment, and I thank you for inspiring me with the nudge I needed. Avoidance can be so much EASIER, but life is so short not to live it and FEEL it.
    Also very cool to see how well Simon is doing in school. Gotta be so proud of your little dude!
    Have a safe, AWESOME time down under!! Take care.
    Denise K.

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  15. maggie Holmes says…
    08/03/2006

    great thoughts ali! it is so true - and yet so hard at the same time. i think as mothers of children with autism we are so protective of them and we are sometimes reluctant to let them experience because we are afraid of what might happen. i am experiencing this right now with tyler starting to go to the public schools and i am so nervous about him fitting in, keeping up, etc. and yet, every day he surprises me at how well he is doing. and i have to remember that his best is o.k. and that it is not all about keeping up with the other kids but just about keeping up with what he can do!
    thanks for the reminder!!
    hugs
    maggie

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  16. Kimberley says…
    08/03/2006

    Thank you so much for your post today! I so needed this. I have so many things I need to be doing right now to put my life in a much happier place. Your words are just what I needed to move me into the right direction. Amazing and inspirational!

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  17. Erika Martin says…
    08/03/2006

    I SO understand where you're coming from, Ali. My 7 1/2 year old "Zachy" doesn't take change well, either. Things outside of his routine can throw him for a loop. There are times when I am scared to death to take him into a new situation.....even into taking him into the store sometimes.....because I know there's never a predictable way that he's going to act. But I realize it's a stretching experience for each of us and would I really want to miss out on that? Even if it's hard? Sometimes I'd like to answer yes, but that's only out of my own selfishness. When I think about it, deep down, the answer is no. Life is short.....drink it up while you can. Even the trying times. It's better to go out of this life with as many experiences as you can possibly fill it up with than to regret the ones you answered no to.
    Keep on drinking it up!
    -Erika Martin
    www.stampinmama.typepad.com

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  18. Debby says…
    08/03/2006

    Ali, you are amazing! I appreciate how something like eating a piece of meat can become a huge life lesson when we take the time to reflect! I so appreciate how you do this! I just made a big decision in my life, stepping out of my comfort zone, taking some risks, and your message was inspiring and affirming to me. Thank you!

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  19. Amy B says…
    08/03/2006

    You couldn't have written this at a better time. I just got home after visiting a potential preschool for my four year old. I have procrastinated until now to take this step because I can't believe that we are already at that place in her life where she leaves me for a few hours a day. Maybe I selfishly waited in the hopes that everything would be filled and we would have to wait, but how childish that makes me sound and feel:) It's been difficult to face the fact that it's time and of course a very healthy step for her. But for three hours, twice a week she will be away from me......and now she is signed up.

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  20. Muriel says…
    08/03/2006

    So true we tend to avoid things, so they can't affect us, but we need to take whatever may come. These experiences only help us to grow and to continue on our journey. Thanks for sring your story.

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  21. lisamcg says…
    08/03/2006

    You have no idea how this resonated with me this morning. Thanks for posting. I needed this post a lot.
    Have a great trip too. :)
    Missyou.

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  22. CD says…
    08/03/2006

    thank-you for that post. For Tiara, for me for us all. a good reminder that We gotta just LIVE it now today...thank-you :)

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  23. Mary Rogers says…
    08/03/2006

    It sure is hard, and thanks for the reminder Ali....life is for living, and taking chances, and making decisions.
    ~Mary

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  24. Lora says…
    08/03/2006

    Wow... I needed that today... sitting here with tears in my eyes... thanks!

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  25. Jeanine Baechtold says…
    08/03/2006

    Ugh. I don't know how you keep such a positive attitude! LOL - I love that about you (I have been a lurker of your blog and writing for a while now), but I just don't know how you do it. I have a 4 1/2 year old with autism (high-functioning) and ADHD and a 2 1/2 year old with ADHD and a neurological disorder, and the days can be so hard. Sometimes it is just easier to avoid! I was diagnosed with a significant illness last week that makes me REALLY want to avoid EVERYTHING, so I look to blogs like yours to make me realize (1) i am not alone and (2) I can get through this. Thank you for keeping it upbeat and giving us reason not to avoid! :)

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