Autism Awareness

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If you don’t know already, the month of April is Autism Awareness Month here in the United States. And seeing how the month is almost over, I thought I’d dedicated this post to those individuals with Autism, my brother, specifically.

My brother was three years old when he was diagnosed, and my family’s life hasn’t been the same since. I can’t tell you how many countless hours my brother has spent with therapists working on his speech and cognitive ability and how many days he was in the Special Education room at our high school only for us to realize that he isn’t so different after all. He’s still a typical boy who has his own likes and dislikes, he just can’t express himself in the same way we can.

For years, my family has gotten stares and weird looks in public places when my brother has cried out, hummed, or even danced near complete strangers. Even tonight, we went to our local YMCA for a swim and a young boy (probably only about 10 or 12) told my brother to hand over the ball he was holding because he was supposed to use it to shoot hoops not hold it! Of course, I glared at the boy and flipped him the bird…in my mind. But, we carried on, business as usual.

When I was younger, I would get so embarrassed half the time because my brother would have to use the ladies room with my mom if my dad wasn’t around so that someone could help him in the bathroom. We even stopped going to church because my brother loves to laugh, hum, and cry out during inappropriate times. Whenever someone looks at him, all they can see is his age, so they’re completely confused as to why he’s behaving “in that way.” Nowadays, I don’t give as many shits. If he cries out, he cries out. If he decides to dance in the middle of the grocery isle, let him have at it (as long as he’s not in anyone’s way)!

I’m not saying that I’m completely fine with his outbursts and that they never embarrass me. Of course, I still get agitated with him every once in awhile. But he’s my brother, and that’s what siblings do. If anything, he’s made me more of a tolerant person. Yes, people mess up once, twice, three times even! But, because I live with a boy who constantly needs to be reminded to wash his hands after he uses the bathroom, or to take his shoes off before climbing into bed, I’ve never gotten into a heated/screaming match with anyone. No one has ever pissed me off that much…because, it takes A LOT for me to REALLY show my frustration.

Like my dad says, “everyone should have at least one disabled child so that they know what it’s really like.” And, I completely agree. There’s too many government officials trying to cut funding for those with disabilities and it brings me to near tears when I think about how much those with disabilities have already been shafted in life, how many limitations they have when it comes to things to do, places to go, or people who will take care of them, and now this? My father actually has a friend who works for the government and has a disabled daughter, and because of that, he makes sure that he knows every law and is able to fight that much harder for her rights. He’s actually helped a lot of families (mine included) knowledgeably advocate for their disabled child. And, never would he have become so involved if he didn’t have a daughter with a disability.

My brother and other individuals with disabilities that I have spent time with over the course of my life thus far have helped me get a better perspective on what really matters in life. Not only that, but they’ve also taught me how it’s important to treat individuals with the utmost respect, say what you feel, and do what makes you happy.

If you’ve never had the chance to spend time with an individual or individuals with a disability, I encourage you to volunteer for the Special Olympics, or for a disabled group home. Even if it’s just for an hour and only one time! Make some sort of interaction with these uniquely talented and special individuals, and I guarantee your life will change for the better.

Granny Smith – over and out

There’s More to Life Than This

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Hold on, kids because we’re about to get spiritual! Now, if you’re like me, your parents or guardians told you growing up that you should NEVER talk about religion or politics with acquaintances!! It’s just out of the question. And for me, it still is…but not today!

I recently started reading “There’s More to Life Than This” by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and I’ve got to say, she’s completely pulled me in and I’m fascinated. First of all, I love her show and believe that the gift she has (talking to those that have ‘crossed over’) is real, so I don’t feel the need to question the stories or descriptions that she’s written in her book.

The truth is, I’ve never been a religious person. My mother grew up in a very Catholic home and my father’s mother and family had a high respect for God, but I’ve never read a single sentence in the Bible, and I can’t really tell you much beyond who God, Jesus, and Mary are, but I’ve been compelled recently to discover that “religious side” of me that I’ve never dived into.

Basically, there are a few things we need to understand regarding when we die and I’ve listed them below. According to Theresa:

  1. When we die, our soul leaves our body and is greeted by our loved ones that have crossed over. We are almost immediately at peace.
  2. When we get to Heaven, we meet with our spiritual “guide” that has been with us throughout our entire life. Everyone has one. Here, we’re basically given a performance review. We watch what we’ve done in the physical world, but most importantly, we see how it affected the lives of the individuals who were on the receiving end of our actions. With your guide you talk about the life lessons you learned while on Earth, how you did, and what your soul needs to do in order to grow and evolve.
  3. There are many different “levels” in Heaven and God is on the highest level. Your guides and God place you at a specific level based on how you acted in the physical world. You can either select to work on achieving higher levels and learning “life” lessons in Heaven, or, you can select to reincarnate and go back to Earth and continue to grow and learn those valuable life lessons. Sometimes, individuals even select to become guides or teachers on the other side once they have truly evolved and learned all of life’s lessons.
  4. If you select to go back to Earth, you more than likely won’t be reincarnated into the race, ethnicity, or even gender that you are now. Your body will be different. You may even have a physical disability. But, while you’re on the Other Side getting ready to start your new life, you can select (with the help of your spirit guide) who you become in order to help you learn those life lessons you missed in your previous life. For example, if in your previous life you made fun of individuals with disabilities, you may select to come back in your next life as someone in a wheel chair to help your soul grow and evolve.
  5. God and spirits don’t look a certain way. God is a massive white light with gold trim.

It all sounds completely ridiculous, but because I believe in Theresa, I almost feel that what she writes is very real. And if it’s false, I mean, she must have a lot of time on her hands to make up these elaborate stories! And, the book doesn’t stop there! She’s written so much about God and our loved one’s that I’m only half way done with the book and I’ve already learned this much.

However, one thing that I do want to address is in regards to my last post, soul mates. I originally didn’t believe in them, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. But, Theresa says that our loved ones continually live with us in our next lives. So, say you have a husband right now. Your husband will probably be your cousin in your next life. You might have such a deep connection with the cousin he’s become in your next life and not understand it, but that’s because your bond was so crazy great in this one! Theresa used an example that in her previous life, her now daughter was her brother that she saved from a burning building!

Now, you might be thinking, Granny Smith, you’re posts have been pretty great up until this point..why did you have to go and ruin the fun? I know, I know. This isn’t something that everyone likes to talk about and these ideas haven’t existed much before Theresa. But, I find it fascinating and I thought maybe you might too. After all, maybe her words give us something to believe in if we don’t believe already…

Granny Smith – over and out

You Love Who You Love

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Happy Birthday to the love of my life! Seeing as how this is the first birthday he’s had while I’ve maintained this blog, I felt extremely compelled to give him a shout out on his special day…and because I know his eyes will eventually see this post!

Originally, I thought about using this space to gush about how great he is and how much I love him, but then I remembered you guys probably won’t find that as fulfilling as I do, and then we’ll both have wasted our time. So, instead, I’ve decided to discuss how we came to be, a bit of what we’ve gone through as a couple, and the idea of “soul mates.”

First, let me quickly explain a bit more about who I am and “my type.” Ever since I can remember, I’ve been crazy, weird, obnoxious, creative, and just plain different from everyone else I’ve ever met. I was picked on like a lot in elementary school, but the real struggle for me was that my peers and I had similar hopes and dreams, so I didn’t think I was that different. I also had (and still have) helicopter parents who made sure that I got everything I ever wanted. Back in the day, life was easy for me.  And, because I was like any other young girl, I wanted a Disney prince as my boyfriend. But, I quickly discovered that because I had crazy high expectations coupled with a ridiculous personality, my chances of finding this person were slim to none…until I met my boyfriend (we’ll call him “Matt” for the sake of this post). Matt was and is a class A gentlemen. He not only opens the doors for you, but he pays for dinner, always knows exactly the right thing to say, holds your hand, kisses you goodnight, and let’s just say he does everything perfectly. Sometimes, I freak out because I’ll be thinking and hoping that he’ll do something for me, and he’ll just do it! Men like to say that they’re not mind readers, but Matt definitely is one. I swear he came right out of a romantic comedy and into my life.

In terms of our relationship, our story is just as off the wall as my personality, but it’s a great one! We first met briefly in 2005. Matt had just started dating one of my best friends (we’ll call her “Ann”) at the time, but I didn’t truly get to know him until about a year later. The funny thing is, I didn’t like him when I first met him. I thought he was really cocky and aloof. But, once I got to know him a bit better, my opinion changed. We started hanging out more, and then, a terrible thing happened. Just before my 17th birthday, Matt broke up with Ann, leaving me in a very uncomfortable situation. Ann and I had known each other for years, but the truth was, I had formed a better friendship with Matt and liked being around him a lot more. That same year, I had actually gone through not one…but two breakups and he was there for me through it all, not Ann.

And, that’s when things got realllllly complicated. I began supporting Matt more than Ann through their breakup process, and Ann began accusing me of screwing around with Matt behind her back! Of course I wouldn’t do that! I was so furious with Ann that I completely shut her off, and because I was solely hanging out with Matt, he opened up more and showed me a side of him I’d never seen. I couldn’t believe that he was letting me in. Friends that I had known for 10 years had never opened up to me in this way, and I had only been good friends with Matt for less than a year. It felt like a huge compliment.

Fast forward a bit and Matt and I are “secretly” dating. I wanted to wait until Ann’s jets cooled a bit before going public. Well, we didn’t go “public” for a good year or two…and by that time, we were off to separate colleges.

We lasted separately for about 2 years and then we broke up…for about a year and a half. The time that we were separated was one of the weirdest times of my life. Some days I’d miss him so much I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, and other days I was so busy being me and doing everything I wanted to do, I didn’t know how life could get any better.  Ultimately, I worked hard to get Matt back because I realized once he was gone how much we’d (but mostly I’d) messed up. We basically broke up because we got lazy. We got sick and tired of doing the same old things together, and we were too lazy to come up with new stuff, so we quit.

The saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” was never more apparent to me then when I lost Matt for that year and a half. I realized that I had made a huge mistake and that there truly are no other guys like him. He’s too special, he’s one of a kind, and he’s perfect for me. When I was down and out growing up, thinking that no one would ever love me because I was “too weird,” he was there. He never judged me. Actually, he found me to be quite funny and entertaining. And, it turns out, he’s just as funny and entertaining, if not more.

I knew I had to fight to get Matt back because no one was ever going to sync with me as well as he did, and I wanted to turn things around. Personally, I don’t believe in soul mates. I certainly did when I was younger and it was pushed by the media, but I can’t anymore. With everyone getting married multiple times, or committing themselves to a variety of different relationships in their lifetime, I don’t think that there is such a thing. You love who you love, and sometimes it’s more than one person during a lifetime. I don’t believe in soul mates as much as I do in just “mates.” Yes, Matt is the one person that I want to be with for the rest of my life, but what if I died tomorrow? He’d have to move on and find someone else. I obviously wouldn’t be his soul mate if he was able to pick himself up and find someone else that he was just as compatible with.

However, in my case, I’ve always had this weird feeling like my deceased grandmother helped orchestrate our relationship. Her birthday falls on the same day as Matt’s and she passed away when I was 12. Somehow, in some weird way, I feel like she pushed him towards me and the fact that they share the same birthday is her way of reminding me that this was her doing. Because she couldn’t be here with me today, she thought she’d give me one of her birthday gifts.

So, do you believe in soul mates? Do you and your partner have a crazy good love story? Tell me! I wanna hear all about it!

Granny Smith – over and out