Why It’s Okay To Be Down Sometimes: Honest Happiness

Yesterday, someone on my Facebook feed raised an interesting point about the perceptions people have about life. “Why is it ok to only share the good things that go on in our lives but the second we share anything bad its ‘airing our dirty laundry.’ Life is not always rainbows and unicorns.” Did you know there’s such a thing as honest happiness?  great honest happiness comes from great pain I don’t know if any of you have read The Giver by Lois Lowry, but a similar concept exists in that book. The Elders decide that in order for the people to stop experiencing pain, they should give up their memories and also give up experiencing anything in life that may lead to pain and discomfort. No relationships, no childbirth, and no true life. Only one person in society is responsible for knowing the history of the their society. As a result, no one really knows happiness. They just trudge about life and when they die, no one really cares. Jonah, the protagonist of the story, learns what life is about and fights that system. The lesson: without pain and unhappiness, you cannot know what happiness really is. Why do we spend so much time lying to people and telling them we’re happy when we’re not? Because it makes them uncomfortable? Because we’re afraid it makes us look bad? Because they’re lying and saying they’re happy all the time? No one is happy all the time.  In an article by Andrea F. Polard on The “How” of Happiness in Psychology Today, she explains the unified happiness theory. She states the following:

Taking into account science, direct experience, many schools of thoughts, modern and ancient, western and eastern, I think that honest happiness must entail,

  • Occasional bad feelings (“Smiles come best from those who weep”–Rumi)
  • Occasional bad thoughts (Don’t trust the alligator)
  • Bad events (Death and taxes really do happen; Life happens…)
  • The human condition of imperfection (I am, therefore I err)
  • De-identification with the perfect “other” (“Be a light onto yourself”–Buddha).

We should allow that dark side of ourselves to be seen and not think that we should be “superhuman” and that happiness exists forever. I like to think that too much of anything isn’t good for you. Those people who are sickeningly happy probably act that way to mask something deeply wrong. Hiding the darkness and trying to pretend it doesn’t exist doesn’t help you. We should learn to live flexibly, seeing both the good and bad, and deal with it. If you cannot handle seeing, reading, or processing even a small among of tragedy, look within yourself.

On the flip side of that, if too much darkness and sadness exists in your life, it’s time to seek some type of help. I’ve dealt with major depression before and it’s not pretty. Just as you have to embrace and live with the bad things that happen in life, you also have to acknowledge and embrace all that’s good in life. How can you survive otherwise? Take the time to take inventory of the beauty in life. Surely there’s something good going on. I’m not puking out rainbows and butterflies either, but I have two beautiful children, I have a job, a house, a car, and the ability to think for myself. Many people don’t have what I have. I can wax poetic about all the shit that’s gone wrong today too. I have bruises on my body from my son, I go crazy daily from breaking up fights between my boys, and our financial situation could be better. But, hell, I sure am glad I could get out of bed this morning.

I don’t have to pretend life is a bed of roses. Or maybe I do. Beautiful flowers that smell beautiful, but, shit, watch out for those thorns! The sooner we stop pretending that everyone is happy all of the time, the better for all of us. Let’s support each other. Life it too damn short to pretend we all need to be happy all the time. It’s time for some honest happiness.

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Celebration Giveaway Post and Review of The Coven

Some of you may wonder what this celebration giveaway post is all about. Well, I started this blog in 2011, inspired by my son and other bloggers out there who had children with autism and developmental disabilities. My message was a simple one: to reach out to others in support, to lessen the stigma attached to the disability, and to begin to inspire hope.

I had no clue what I was doing. I started a blog, then Facebook, then Twitter, and eventually joined Pinterest and Instagram. Finally, I decided I should get on Google Plus as well. As my community grew, I went from Blogger to WordPress, and then decided to move to my domain as my growing followed. Today, I’m celebrating what some other bloggers might see as a small achievement, but I see it as a large one, because 500 people have decided that I’m worth following on Facebook. Thanks to everyone who has supported me!

Chrissy Lessey, author of The Coven, has generously offered a copy of her ebook to one of my faithful readers for nothing in return from me. I just happen to know her family, and they’re wonderful people. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing that she has a sweet, intelligent daughter and a precocious, well-spoken young man who both go to my son’s school and that he  loves them both. Her son happens to have autism, but he’s just as awesome as my son. Their mother also has a winning personality, which is probably how she got this book written that I’m offering to one lucky reader.

the coven chrissy lessey celebration giveaway

The book is about a photographer named Stevie, a single mom raising a five-year-old son named Charlie who has autism while running a business she shares with her best friend. She lives in historic Beaufort, North Carolina near her parents. Her life seems average, but it turns out that it is anything but average when Vanessa Moore returns to Beaufort to get revenge for her mother’s imprisonment and retrieve a magical amulet.

In fact, the Historical Society that her mother belongs to turns out to be a coven of witches with her mother as queen, and Vanessa seeks to destroy every single one of them. Suddenly, Stevie’s magical powers come alive when she’s forced to save her son, Charlie, from Vanessa. Stevie must learn to master her magical talent and protect her son in this break-out book by Chrissy Lessey.

Believe me, it’s a page-turner. It’s not just a story about witch-craft and magical powers, but a message about hope for the future, as Stevie learns more and more about her son. I won’t give away any more about the book. You’ll just have to see for yourself.  

I will be using Rafflecopter to determine the winner. The celebration giveaway will end on 8/25/2014 at 12:00AM.

Required question for giveaway (leave in comments): What interests you most about this book?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Scrumptious Salmon Patties with Lemon-Marjoram Sour Cream Sauce

Want to know the secret to making scrumptious salmon patties? My kids even ate these bad boys! You read that right. Salmon patties…eaten by kids. They gobbled these things down like there was no tomorrow, and I didn’t even have to bribe them. You’d think I’d starved them all day, but I didn’t do that either. I guess they were just that good!

I had a recipe, but it just so happens that I didn’t have all of the ingredients listed, so I put my twist on it, which I think really made this whole thing happen. So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to make some…

Scrumptious Salmon Patties with Lemon-Marjoram Sour Cream Sauce

scrumptious salmon patties with lemon-marjoram sour cream sauce
The plate may not be fancy, but the taste totally is.

Ingredients for Salmon Patties

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers
  • 1 can of Salmon (bones and skin removed)
  • 1/4 tbsp salt
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 glugs of olive oil (for the pan)

To prepare salmon patties:

  1. Mix the egg and the milk in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the salmon once you’re sure you have all of the bones out. A few small bones are fine, just make sure you get all the big round ones out and most of the skin. You won’t notice the rest once it’s all mixed together.
  3. Mix in the rest of the ingredients (except for the olive oil)
  4. Heat 2 glugs of oil in a skillet (it should be enough to coat the bottom of the skillet so your salmon patties don’t stick to the bottom). I don’t measure mine out. I just pour until the bottom is covered.  Medium-high heat should work just fine.
  5. While that oil is heating up, form the patties into nice, palm-sized patties. You can make smaller ones for the kiddies if you want. You’re going to measure doneness by the looks of the patties anyway.
  6. Test the oil by sprinkling a drop of water in the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready. If it sizzles really fast, it’s probably too hot. Turn it down, you mad woman!
  7. Add your patties when the oil is ready. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes or until a beautiful golden-brown color. Drain on paper towels or on a rack (if you have one).

For Lemon-Marjoram Sour Cream Sauce:

  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp mayo
  • 3/4 tsp  dried marjoram seasoning

In a small bowl, stir sauce ingredients until well mixed. Serve on top of salmon patties to make your tongue dance with delight.

My kids loved these Scrumptious Salmon Patties even without the Lemon-Marjoram Sour Cream Sauce, but I gotta tell you, I thought the sauce was a must-have.  I’m getting hungry again just thinking about them.

kids food eat scrumptious salmon patties

 

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9 Things I’d Rather Do (Than Wake Up at 4 in the Morning)

Let’s face it. Waking up at 4 a.m. isn’t really my cup of tea. I’ve never been a morning person. Just ask my mom or my husband. Trying to talk to me first thing in the morning will likely result in a series of responses that resemble grunts and, if you push it, short irritable comebacks. I’d rather do so many other things than get up at 4 in the morning.

morning person 9 things i'd rather do

Recently, I got diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, further complicating things for me. No wonder I’m so tired, sore, and grumpy. I suffer from perpetual fatigue and I definitely do not go to bed early enough to compensate for early morning awakenings and occasional nighttime visitations by my little minions. Advice from the doctor? Go to bed earlier so that when I have to get up so early it doesn’t kill me so much. Sleep is vitally important for anyone, but especially for me.

So, yeah. Even though I’m going to bed earlier, I’d still rather not have to get up super early. Here are 9 things I’d rather do than get up at 4 in the morning:

  1. Eat pickles. I hate pickles. I’ll eat them, though, if you don’t make me get up. Just wake me up at a reasonable hour to eat them.
  2. Get bit by an ant. I had an ant bite that nagged at me for three days afterward. The itching. I don’t care. At least it didn’t make me so tired! I hate the tired, groggy feeling I get when I don’t feel rested. Itching, I can handle.
  3. Watch NASCAR. I find it incredibly boring, so it would probably help me sleep. Win!
  4. Read Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe again. What a dreadfully boring piece of 18th century literature. Again, it would probably help me sleep…so…win!
  5. Speaking of literature, let’s go up a century. I’d even read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I haven’t attempted it since AP English in my Senior year of High School, but what the heck?
  6. I haven’t seen Centipede and I heard that’s pretty bad. I’ll watch that.
  7. Watch that horrible ’80s movie my husband likes to watch with Mel Gibson in it. Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.
  8. Listen to Country music. The twangy stuff.
  9. Lie in bed and SLEEP.

What did I do instead? Well, this morning my son just couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t. No amount of telling him to go to his room would help that. He had woken up Big Guy, us, the dog…the whole house. What recourse do we have at that point? I mean, I went to bed too late the night before, which really was poor planning on my part. I can’t stay up past 10:00 p.m. anymore. My new bedtime is 9:00 p.m. I should probably go to bed at 8:30, honestly.

Anyway, I got up. I got him dressed. I got him to put his shoes on. I did the same myself. Then, we went for a walk. He didn’t want to walk, so it was a small battle getting him out the door, but he needed to burn energy, and, according to my rheumatologist, I need exercise. So, walking when he wakes up is the solution. We searched for bunnies and birds. We did not find any bunnies, amazingly, but plenty of birds were out looking for food. We watched the sun come up. Most importantly, we got exercise and made something out of the morning.

I didn’t want to get up this morning, but I did. He didn’t want to get up either. I know he didn’t. We do what we have to do to get by. If he gets up at 4 in the morning, we walk. Would I rather do the 9 other things on my list than get up early? Sure. But if I have to get up, I’m going to walk. At least then I’m getting exercise and not wasting my breath telling him to go back to bed when I know he can’t.

Linking up with: Shell from Things I Can’t Say and Mama Kat’s Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop.

 

 

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Going to Church

Five years. That’s how long it had been since I had gone to church last. I had let so many of life’s obstacles get in the way. I had made so many excuses for why I couldn’t go, not the least of which was that I had a child with Autism. I couldn’t possibly go to church with the behaviors he exhibited, right? Wrong. I needed to go to church for that very reason. After all, what’s missing in my life? A community of support. Where would I find that? Not sitting at home by myself, that’s for sure.

Besides, my son needs friends. Both of my sons need friends. They also need to grow up learning about morals and the right way to live. I’m doing my best to teach that at home, but do they not also need to hang out with friends who have the same belief system they do? There are activities at church. Bible camp. Youth basketball leagues. All kinds of things, and for cheap. The youth ministry even understands all types of children without me having to say anything to them. What was I thinking, staying away for so long? We’ve been welcomed with open arms!

church autism welcome

Aside from all of that, our first Sunday at church went pretty well. The first thirty minutes the kids had to stay with me. We had mixed results with that. Big Guy told everyone who came up to him he wanted to sing and dance, and even told some people he would dance with them. When they asked if any newcomers were in the congregation, I raised my hand timidly (I do not like to stand out), and they brought me a bag of popcorn and a flyer. Squeaker and Big Guy lit up, thrilled beyond belief about the popcorn. Later on, the pastor asked if anyone had any blessings to share. My son, Squeaker, raised his hand nervously, not quite sure if he wanted to share. I wound up having to raise my hand to get the pastor’s attention because he’s so short, and then told him it was okay to share. So, he raised the bag of popcorn in the air and gave his goofiest grin with his tongue hanging out while bouncing. Yes, he was thankful for the popcorn.

In that moment, I felt blessed that I had raised children who felt thankful for even the smallest things. The pastor said he hoped that we enjoyed the popcorn. Others in the congregation murmured about it, and I could tell they thought he was cute, like any other kid, of course. I felt so much pride in him. There were moments where he hit me and his brother because he felt bored and nervous and we were in a new place, and we did have to take a break before leaving, finally, to go to the nursery to wait out the time for them to leave for the children’s part of the service. I spent the last part the service without them. No one said anything about his behavior. No judgment.

At the end of the service, several people welcomed me and said they were thankful I had come and hoped I would come again. The usher who gave the popcorn to us found me and gave me two more bags. He told me to please give my boys that popcorn. I don’t know if, in today’s world, kids just don’t express appreciate like that anymore. I think that that’s just one of Squeaker’s most wonderful attributes. He appreciates the small things and expresses it in big ways. I love that about him.

We will return. The kids want to go back. Big Guy, who insisted he would dance and sing on the stage, definitely wants to go back. He still wants to go up on the stage and dance.

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Our Life With Autism