Those who know me would describe me as a "lifelong learner". I love to learn. I learn informally through everyday life experiences and I also learn formally by attending trainings and conferences.
I had many learning and networking opportunities on my personal and professional agenda for 2018. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend some of them due to my current health condition, but I wanted to let you know about these upcoming conferences. The ones listed below will be held either in Hershey, PA or in State College, PA. Let me know if you plan to attend any of them and please share with me what you learn.
January 8, 2018 - Pennsylvania Inclusive Higher Education Consortium's Symposium 2018 – The Journey of Inclusion: Experiencing the College Years. An interactive day of learning, reflection, initiative and application with international leaders, innovators and award – winning authors: John O’Brien, Bruce Uditsky and Cate Weir. Please register at -https://PIHEC.regfox.com/symposium-2018-the-journey-of-inclusion-experiencing-the-college-years (If you register for the Everyday Lives Conference, you can attend this Symposium for free!) - Hershey Lodge, Hershey.
January 9-11, 2018 - Everyday Lives Conference. Eric Carter, PhD & Al Condeluci, PhD will be speaking at this conference - Hershey Lodge, Hershey.
February 26-28, 2018 - Pennsylvania Department of Education – Bureau of Special Education Annual Conference – Making a Difference: Educational Practices That Work! . Dr Rosemarie Allen will be one of the Keynote Speakers at this conference. Limited parents/caregivers scholarships available - Hershey Convention Center, Hershey.
March 22, 2018 - Family Coaching Implementer’s Conference - Nittany Lion Inn, State College.
April 30, 2018 - May 3, 2018 - 20th Children’s Interagency Conference, “We Are Better Together - Penn Stater Conference Center, State College.
May 22 - 23, 2018 - 2018 Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support (PAPBS) Network Implementers’ Forum – Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey
July 25, 2018 – July 27, 2018 - 2018 PA Community on Transition Conference - Pathways to Success: Transitioning into Tomorrow Together, The Penn Stater Conference Center, State College.
August 6–9, 2018 - National Autism Conference. Limited parents/caregivers scholarships available- The Penn Stater Conference Center, State College.
I hope we all continue to learn, grow, and inspire change in our communities.
I know that I don’t have to write a blog post each week, but this is a goal I set for myself. It keeps my brain and fine motors working. Writing has been so therapeutic to me, I get to work on so many therapy/recovery goals in one exercise. Hence, I will do my best to write a few sentences each week.
I’ve been home for five days now. I already had one trip to the Emergency Room, that was scary. Thank God, I’m back home. Home Health services are going well. I was looking forward to being home but being home has also been very overwhelming.
However, it’s a joy to see how much my children have grown during this time. On Monday, I watched my middle child get yogurt and cereal from the kitchen, serve himself, sit at the table to eat, then clean up the table. He also returned the yogurt and cereal to where he got them from and washed his bowl. He did all that before getting his shoes and coat on for school. He will be 6 years old in a month and completing all those tasks took lot of effort and planning. He had to overcome many organizational, fine motor and sensory challenges, but he did it! I was so proud of him.
This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter, the oldest, asked to mop the kitchen floor. I kept telling her not to worry about it, but she found many reasons to do it and assured me she would be safe. She sure did! She moped the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom and has been cleaning many other things around the house.
Last night, the youngest of our family (he will be four years old in a few days), applied lotion on my very dry legs. He loves that texture, so he had fun doing it but when he was done, he said to me, “does that make you feel better?” I had tears. I thought I was giving him something fun to do but he was more concerned about taking care of me.
In their unique ways, my children have been taking good care of me. I’m a blessed Mama, I have great kids. I also have awesome friends who shower me with love and take care of my children and me during this time. Thank you all for your prayers, visits, cards, calls, texts, emails, messages, gifts, meals, and encouragement. You make me brave and I thank God for each one of you!
Science says it takes 21 days to learn a new habit or forgo an old one. Well, it’s been 21 days since I had my stroke and I’ve seen lot of improvements. It’s amazing how many tricks my brain had to re-learn in these 21 days. Lot of new pathways have been created in my brain and my synapses and neurons have been hard at work. I realize that everyone’s recovery from any brain injury is different and I do not take lightly the challenges that we all face. As I share a glimpse of my progress in this blog post, please be advised that it’s just that, a glimpse of reality. I still have many things to work through and some things might never get better. However, many things did get better and here’s some of what has happened in the past three weeks.
The facial nerves that were affected by the stroke are the ones close to my nose and my mouth. I somehow now have an “extraordinary” nose and tongue. I smell things I didn’t smell before - sometimes smelling my own food is too overwhelming. I remember eating something that was not spicy and feeling like my tongue was on fire. Two weeks later, I’m craving more spicy food, go figure! My taste buds are just as confused as the rest of my body.
My blood sugar has stabilized and I’m finally off the finger pricks. I also had difficulty chewing and swallowing, especially on the left side, the side that was affected by the stroke. That has greatly improved as well.
My blood pressure has also stabilized, but now that I had a stroke, I will be taking baby aspirin for the rest of my life. I started other new medications as well while at the rehabilitation hospital and most of my symptoms seem to be under control. Quite a few specialists have been added to my follow-up treatment team and I’ll have to get used to that.
I can organize my thoughts and answer questions or explain things, but the more thinking involved, the harder it is for me to produce the words on demands. For example, I can tell a story or relate something that happened earlier in the day with no problem at all. However, when presented with an issue that requires problem solving, I need more time to process the situation, think about solution, pick a course of action, then share that with others. The more thought process involved, the more time I needed.
I have also been very sensitive to sound and light. I get easily stimulated, which triggers my headaches. I’m glad to report that I have been making accommodations for myself and slowly learning to cope with stimuli.
The Good News: I will be leaving the rehabilitation hospital on December 15!
I will continue with my physical and occupational therapies once I get home.
The next big goal I’m working on is getting back to work and driving again.
Until next time, remember that you can teach an old brain some new tricks…so learn something new today!
Self-Advocate & Ally to the differently ABLE
Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC
T’was the day before Thanksgiving…Perhaps a day to prepare for all the festivities: Making the last trip to the grocery store, cleaning the house for guests, planning recreational activities for the long weekend…But I was preparing for something totally different.
I had a scheduled surgery that morning. I ran a few errands in preparation for the surgery, drove back home to park my car since I wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure. I then requested an Uber ride to the hospital.
All the people I talked to who either had this surgery or knew someone who had it, had wonderful things to say about the procedure… “You’ll be so glad you had it …You won’t have to deal with all this pain anymore… You’ll feel like a new person”. I looked forward to the procedure. It promised a new beginning. A new beginning, I had. Just not exactly the one I expected.
My scheduled procedure went well, just as expected. Once in the recovery room, I started complaining of excruciating headaches that felt very different than my regular migraines. I was taken to the observation room and given pain medication, but the headache persisted.
Then a couple hours after the procedure, I was eating a Popsicle and tried to tell a family member that my head was feeling weird, but no words were coming out. My lips were moving but no words were coming out. I could see the worried look on everyone’s faces and knew something was wrong. Within a few minutes, my room was full of people. I suppose they all came to help. Rapid response was called.
By the time the medical staff were in the room, the symptoms had progressed. I couldn’t answer questions like “who’s the president of the United States?” I knew the answer but couldn’t get the words out. I couldn’t move the left side of my body. The left side of my face was numb. My left eye was drooping. I was presenting all the typical signs of a stroke.
I was then rushed to a different hospital by helicopter. The initial plan was to remove the blood clot as soon as possible; we all assumed that I had a blood clot from the surgery. Once in the new hospital, the CT scan and MRI could not find any blood clot, yet I still had all the stroke symptoms. I was put on stroke protocol and treated as such.
I was in that hospital for a week, three days were spent in the Intensive Care Unit. My entire body was out of order during that time. I had developed medical problems I didn’t have before. My entire being had changed, internally and externally.
While the changes were debilitating, I was not ashamed of them, but I slowly became aware of other people’s discomfort with my “new disabilities”. One person who had known me my entire life said, “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three kids” and by that comment I was reminded of society’s view of disability.
Ten years ago, I was legally declared “disabled” due to debilitating medical conditions. Those conditions were however invisible and apparently did not bother anyone. I have worked since, I have been a mom, a business owner, and so many other things while living with the same challenging conditions.
Somehow, as long as they were invisible, nobody cared. There were my problems, not society’s. I spent some days in bed, some days I had to call for help, other days I canceled work assignments and prior commitments. Somehow, nobody ever told me I couldn’t afford to be a “disabled woman with three kids”.
This time my disability is visible, and it seems to bother people more than it bothers me. I’m in a wheelchair. I’m having difficulty communicating. I can’t take care of my personal care needs. It’s obvious that I’m not “independent” according to society’s standards.
Does society view people with visible disability as a burden? Now that they can see my limitations, is it a constant reminder to them of their lack of support? Perhaps my invisible disabilities made me look “normal” for ten years and now all the sudden I’m no longer “normal”? Sadly, the answer to all these questions is a loud “YES” and I have read many research papers on this topic during my post-graduate studies, but I will not bore you with that.
If my visible disabilities do not bother me, does that mean that I will not apply myself to regain the functions I’ve lost? Not at all! I’m doing physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapies and I have already seen major improvements. What I’m trying to say is that I do not fear limitations. Even if I do not regain all the functional abilities I had before the stroke, I believe and KNOW that with support and accommodations, I can still have a meaningful life. Maybe my life will be even more meaningful than it’s ever been because I now have a deeper sense of gratitude, appreciation, and empathy.
I will not apologize for having disabilities, visible or invisible. I’m a beautiful human being inside and out. What you see or do not see does not define who I truly am. Get to know me and other people that society calls “disabled”, then you will realize that we are all able and disabled in our unique ways. Every human being has both strengths and weaknesses.
Now, look at the title of this article again, but only read the words in capital letters. You should read I CAN BE ABLED. Yes, people can be "abled" by the respect they receive from society and that respect starts by assuming that they can have meaningful lives.
If we assume that people can have meaningful lives, regardless of their functional limitations, then we start supporting people in achieving lives of purpose, and therefore, there will be no room for statements like “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three children”. In fact, I will joyfully be a "disabled" mother of three "disabled" children because our family has embraced disability as part of our human experience. It’s time the rest of society gets with the program!
Self-Advocate & Ally to the differently ABLE
Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC
P.S. Hallegra is my middle name. It comes from the Italian “allegria”, which translates into “allegresse” in French or “glee” in English. Therefore, Hallegra means lively joy or gaiety, which I want to identify with even more in this season of my life.
I like that Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC....
- Changes lives
- Helps others integrate their faith into their emotional wellness and other services they receive
- Was inspired by life experiences and continues to keep it real
Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC has a new riverfront office located at 2843 North Front Street, Suite 203 - Harrisburg, PA 17110
Remember why I reduced my work hours this summer? Well, here's what we've been up to:
- My daughter is taking piano lessons. She also started gymnastics again.
- My middle child is making new friends and having new experiences at my friend's house who takes care of him on those 3 days that I'm working.
- My youngest has been busy expanding his engineering skills, taking things apart and sometimes putting them back together (and this is not always a pleasant experience for the owner of the item :)
- As a family, we have fun going to the creek and enjoying nature once a week. We also visit our local libraries often and enjoy the summer events. We are finally putting our YMCA membership to use and going for a swim and I started walking on the track again last week. I'm hoping to resume with the aerobic classes as soon as my lungs get stronger.
Speaking of those lungs of mine, some of my bloodwork came back with some deficiencies but those still don't explain why my lungs are not getting enough air so, more tests are coming my way :( But I have felt the power of those prayers and I wanted to thank all those who have been praying. I'm feeling a little better each day and had more energy to do some fun things with my kids, like impromptu dance parties and going to the playground. I've not been feeling the best but we found ways to have fun.
Living life to the fullest is not waiting for the problems to go away, it's finding ways to enjoy the life you have today. How about you? How are you incorporating some fun into your life?
I hope you have a fun fourth of July and a fun week!
Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? “The Sick Mom’s Guide to Having Fun Again” will lead you through a journey of fun and laughter, so you can LIVE your life again, not just exist. Filled with 19 missions of fun, 100 fun things to do with the kids, even when you’re exhausted, and much more, the Sick Mom’s Guide will keep you smiling and help you rekindle your joy.
Check out what happened when Chou Gabikiny and Jen Hardy had a virtual meeting to talk about Jen's book and how to starting living beyond our diagnoses and enjoying life to the fullest.
The book is available TODAY! Grab it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0714H94MG?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660
Today is Father's Day and I want to celebrate with those who are celebrating. Happy Father’s Day to all the biological, adoptive, foster, and step fathers, as well anyone who is a father figure to others. Happy Father’s Day celebration to you, if today you are taking your father out for dinner or you are offering him a gift or just hanging out with him, maybe you are enjoying the day with family and reminiscing about your dad.
My heart also goes out to those who are hurting today. Maybe you have painful memories of your father. Perhaps your father is no longer living or your father may be physically and/or emotionally distant, this short message is for you.
If you are finding it hard to celebrate Father’s Day, may I encourage you? Before you were born, before you were placed in your mother's womb, before even anyone on earth knew who you will become, there was a God who fearfully and wonderfully created you and He loves you so much more than anyone on earth. His love is unconditional and His ways are perfect. So if you have no one to celebrate today, may I suggest that you celebrate his love for you? He's your heavenly Father who loves you no matter what. He's always been there and He will always be there. He promised not to leave you nor forsake you and His promises never fail.
Something else you can do today is to look around you, around your community, your church your place of work, and try to find those people who are there for you. Family is not always blood-related. I like the verse in Psalms 68 verse 6 that says that “God puts the lonely into families”. Perhaps your biological father is distant physically or emotionally or is no longer living, but has God blessed you with another family? Who can you celebrate today ? Maybe it's your neighbor, maybe your step-dad, maybe it’s a pastor, an uncle, a mentor, etc. I'm sure if you look around you'll find people who would welcome the opportunity to spend time with you. Maybe you have people who have already blessed your life in so many ways and today can be an opportunity for you to celebrate them.
Dealing with emotional wounds can be really difficult and it takes time to recover from them. So I'm not taking lightly the fact that today you might be grieving so hard that Father’s Day hurts. Please consider this : It’s in the deepest wounds that we found the most beautiful healing story. God promises to turn our ashes to beauty and I believe dealing with father wounds is no exception. Knowing that you are loved and that you have a Heavenly Father creates the foundation to seek out His perfect love and in the day-to-day life you might need specific strategies to recover from these emotional wounds that you carry and that's something that counseling can be help with.
How can our communities support those who are hurting on Father’s Day?
On Father's days, churches will often have arts and crafts for kids to do in Sunday School classes, like make a card for Dad. Most likely the preacher will be talking about fatherhood. Although those things are good in their own merits, they can become painful ways that people have to relive some of their hurts.
Maybe our communities can be more inclusive and ask kids to create a craft for not just dads, but also grandpas, uncles, brothers, older siblings, and any other male role models that are part of their lives. Maybe instead of just talking about fatherhood, the sermons can more inclusive as well and talk about all the men in our communities that take on those father roles and stand in the gap for so many. But of utmost importance, I hope that all the sermons point us to the Heavenly Father who is always there and always carries us through all of our painful experiences.
I leave you with this:
If Father’s Day hurts, our Heavenly Father's arms are always open and He puts the lonely into families. And in the multitude of counselors there’s safety and healing. So today celebrate your Heavenly Father and reach out to others who can help you recover from daddy wounds.
No matter your situation today, I hope that you find ways to enjoy this day that the Lord has made.
walking with you on your journey to emotional wellness
Three years ago, I left my comfortable position as a Case Manager so I could be fully devoted to the care of my sick child. A year and half later, I launched Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC as a mental health counselor and a disability consultant. Why am I sharing this?
Well, it’s been a year in half since I became a business owner and I have not looked back since. I enjoy what I do and my family gets to be part of it all. My own mental health journey led me to helping others achieve wellness but it was my children’s medical and developmental needs that opened my eyes to the needs of people with disabilities and chronic health issues, their caregivers and siblings, but also the professionals who support them. I first became a disability advocate because of my children, then three years ago when my own physical health started deteriorating, my passion for the disability community grew even bigger and I decided that I needed to extend grace and offer hope to people with disabilities and chronic illness, and the people who support them.
Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC started because of my own struggles and my children’s challenges. I stayed home because of my children and as this endeavor grows, I’m reminded of where I started, or rather why I started all of it: my children and my determination to live beyond diagnoses. There you have it!
It’s summer and my children need me, not because they are sick but because they are well and this summer we are making it a priority to have wellness memories, and that’s why I’m changing our business hours for the next few months. I want to be fully present with the people who make me who I am, a mom, a caregiver, an advocate. As I shared in one of my videos, I’m on a quest to live on purpose and this summer we will do just that. We might not have anything extraordinary planned but we decided that we will make everyday life feel extraordinary.
Chou, living on purpose
Today is the last day of May and to end our Mental Health Awareness Month, I felt compelled to share my mental health story. It's okay to be vulnerable, it's okay to seek help. Let's end stigma, one recovery story at a time! #mentalhealthawareness#letsthinkagain #endstigma #pleaselive
Hi everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny again. For those who do not know me, I'll reintroduce myself again. I'm Chou Gabikiny, the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting, and my organization provides training, consultations, and counseling to help people achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives.
Today I want to talk about person-centered practices in the home. Those of you who are familiar with what I do know that I'm a certified trainer for person-centered thinking. Often when people think about person-centered practices, they think about person-centered planning and how we use it to plan for services for people, but it's actually a way of thinking that looks at the individual, what's important to them and for them and being able to make the distinction and actually incorporating that into everyday life. So I'm just going to share a little bit about how I use person-centered practices in my home.
I have three children, they're all very unique, just as your children are, and they're all very different, just like any of the children out there...but knowing what's important to each of my children helps me parent them in a way that is more supportive to them. So I'll talk about my daughter for example.
My daughter does not like to be rushed, this can be true for all three of my kids, and it goes beyond just the feeling of being rushed. When she's rushed she gets very overwhelmed and then it becomes hard for her to actually plan her next step. Since I know that…that's who she is, that's something that she needs, then the way I parent her I give her extra time to complete tasks. That's just one way I use person-centered practicing in my home.
I have my son, Gabriel, the middle child, he does not like to be bossed around (to put it bluntly). He likes to have control over things, he likes to have control over what impacts him. So knowing that...again I'm the parent but I can power struggles with him forever or I can find a way to respect what's important to him and incorporate that into my parenting style.
So what does that look like? Instead of me telling Gabriel, "I need you to do this right now." I could do that, there are times where I get to a point where I say that, but what works best for my son is when I explain what's going on: "This is what we need to do...this is why we need to do it...and this is how you can help us do it." By doing that I just gave him the power to actually be part of this end goal that the family has, and he feels empowered to contribute. When I’m asking him to do something I'm not just bossing him because
I'm the mom, but I am actually helping him to make those decisions, make those choices so he can be part of something bigger and do something to help the entire family. He loves that, and it works!
My younger one, he has sensory issues. In another video I did, I talked a little bit about it. Because I know he has sensory issues, then I address those needs because it's important to him that things are done a certain way. Instead of just doing whatever I want, whatever will work for me as a parent, what will make my life easier, I kind of turn it around and do what will make life easier for my child. And that doesn't mean I'm going to enable every behavior out there, no; but it actually helps me prevent behavior by including what's important to him.
The focus of Person-Centered Thinking is finding that balance between what's important to someone versus what's important for someone. When we think about what's important for someone, we're focusing on health and safety: people taking their medication, people living in a safe environment, people being somewhere where they're not abused, so we think about those things. Health and safety are the main components of what's important “for” someone.
By the way, the best for people is going beyond that. I can be safe and healthy but be miserable. I can be safe and healthy and be bored, that's not fun for anybody. So person-centered thinking actually incorporates this added value to people's lives that is what's important “to” someone, what makes them tick in a good way, what are the things that make them smile, what are the things that bring joy to them, what are the things that actually make a whole lot of difference in their life, like the things that they like to do. It can be that they like their coffee cold, maybe they like it with two cups of sugar, might not be healthy, but again, it's finding that balance. Supporting people in a way that incorporates what's important to them help them have meaningful lives.
If you're just providing health and safety, people will be miserable and then you get more behavior, now you might get more attention. Then you're not meeting your outcome goals. You're not meeting your goals because people are just not happy. All of us want to live a life that's free from constraints whatever that be, we don’t like somebody to have control over us.
When we incorporate what's important to someone it actually helps to give people power, instead of serving people or supporting them in a way where we have power over them. When we use person-centered practices, we're actually having power with them because we're incorporating what's important to them so they can have meaningful lives. We’re showing them that we value what's important to them, we value what they want, and we do our best to make that happen. And that doesn't mean that we have to fake it. No, if we cannot do it right, find someone who can do it right, but it is important for all of us to do it.
This thing is just not for people with disabilities, it's not just for people who need extra help per se, this goes for all of us. Person-Centered Thinking practices are for all people regardless of age, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of your background or your ability level, your function level, it doesn't matter. We all want better lives, we all want meaningful lives, we all want lives that make us happy so that's why we must practice Person-Centered thinking.
If your agency can benefit from this strategy if you can benefit from it… Honestly as a parent, my goodness, just learning about those tools myself made a lot of difference in how I parent my children. It made a lot of difference in how I even treat myself.
The Person-Centered Thinking training is usually two full days. I can break it down into four half days. Through this training, you learn to gather information about the person and find meaningful information that you can use to help them have better lives.
We look at tools like important to and important for. In trying to make that distinction and incorporating that throughout all the other tools that you learn for the training. We also look at other tools like the morning routine...what are those things that make for a good day for someone. We do what's working, what's not working, so looking at certain situations and it becomes a good decision-making tool.
This one, for example, I just had to use it recently when I needed extra care for my child and we tried a setting and we had all these little things that just did not work and made it more stressful for me and more overwhelming for my child. I had to sit down and use that tool (the What’s working and What’s not working).
Once you get comfortable with these tools and you actually get to the point where you're not using it like on paper all the time, it becomes this thinking process; cause before you plan you have to think. And if you start thinking in a way that's person-centered, then your planning, your actions, your treatment plans, become person-centered. So again, that training is really useful for all of us.
I just shared a few examples, of how I changed the way I parent to be a more person-centered parent... but you can use this for an agency. You can use that at home, in society. All of us can benefit from Person-Centered Thinking training. So if you need it, want to find out more about it, please contact me. I'll be glad to share information and set time to talk with you.
Alright, thank you. Remember everybody's meaningful, everybody's important and everybody wants a better life. Be the person that allows others to have the best life that they want for themselves. And that's why I teach person-centered thinking.
Happy Mother's Day!
Hello everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny. For those of you that don't know me, I'm the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting. I'm a board-certified Christian counselor and a certified cognitive behavior therapist. Today I just wanted to wish all the moms out there happy Mother's Day!
Today is one of my favorite days because not only I get to encourage all the mothers, but it's a special day that my kids remind me that they appreciate having me as a mother. They're young so they do things maybe a little differently but even the smallest thing touches my heart.
Today I just want to encourage the mother, the one who's doing it all, and maybe you are doing it alone and it is hard, and it is stressful. It is overwhelming. I just want you to remember that what you're doing… it is an investment and there is going to be a return on this investment. It might be hard today but just wait and see. I know I talk a lot about long-term because I want you to plan for the future, brighter future, so yes in the moment it might be stressful but remember your kids need you and you are building the next generation of brave people, brave women and men, and responsible people who will contribute to society and make a big difference in the world, so stay encouraged.
Also, try to cherish this moment. Try to cherish the moment that you have right now with your children, they grow up so fast. My oldest just turned 11 like a month ago and I can still remember the day I brought her home. I remember when she was just born. Oh my goodness, I was a first-time mom and in a foreign country and I was alone and saying that I felt overwhelmed would be an understatement, right?
Again, cherish that moment, they grow up so fast, and those little things they do today might be annoying but looking back those are the things that make life a little more colorful. So enjoy your kids today, enjoy your family today and remember that what you're doing is making an impact in the long run, that you are the one taking care of and building that next generation of women, men, of people bringing change to this world. Stay encouraged. Keep at it. Stay the course. keep up the good work and know that you are valued. Yes, you are valued. What you do, no one can do what you do.
I read a while back somewhere about...I can't remember, I'll paraphrase it, I don't remember exactly how it was written but something to the extent of “God knew that you could do such a wonderful job that's why He gave you the kids that you have”.
I'm going to speak now to mothers of kids with special needs. The journey is long, it's tiresome. All the doctors’ appointments, all the therapy appointments, the sleepless nights and all the people you have to coordinate, the care that you have to coordinate day in and day out. It is hard but God knew that you are able to do it, that you are stronger than what you thought, and He will never give us more than we can handle.
Sometimes we might feel like "we cannot handle it anymore," but there's more strength in us. I can make a whole two-hour video about the strength that I discovered in myself when I started taking care of my children. I learned that I had more patience than I thought I did. I had more strength than I thought I did. I was more organized than I thought I was just because again, through those times of need came those skills. It was by necessity that I discovered who I am and what I’m good at. I had to become that person in order to provide the care that I provide to my own children right now. But through that process it made me who I am today, it made me this...I can go on and on, but I learned to advocate because I had kids who need someone to advocate for them. I learned to navigate systems of care because I had kids who needed someone to navigate the system for them, and I became a parent that was living more in the moment because I needed to live in the moment and enjoy even the smallest milestones.
I remember with one of my sons, he was maybe nine months by the time he could sit. He had a physical disability at birth and when he started sitting I made a big deal out of it. Many people didn’t understand why I made such a big deal about my son sitting up. Perhaps they didn’t realize how hard we've worked for this, how many therapy sessions we had just to get to this point right, and the frustration itself when you're trying to make everything fit in the calendar and get everybody's needs met.
Again, on this Mother's Day, please know that you are special; that what you do is very worthwhile. Nobody can do what you do and that your children see it. God sees it, and that you are irreplaceable.
Keep up the good work and enjoy your day. Maybe nobody will give you flowers, buy flowers for yourself, I do that. It's like if you can’t always wait for someone to do that for you. If your kids are young like mine, they can't do much but maybe they might do a drawing for you, and that's great; maybe what you wanted was chocolate and flowers, or it was a treatment at the spa. Whatever it is that you think you need in order to celebrate Mother's Day, do it for yourself. Don't always wait for other people to do it for you, especially when there's nobody else around to do it. When you learn to recognize that what you do is enough and that you are enough, you start treating yourself accordingly, and the way you treat yourself tells people how to treat you. So happy Mother's Day!
Alright, stay encouraged gals!
If you need hep finding resources in your community, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-216-0230.
If you’re caring for a loved one (parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend, etc) with a chronic illness, developmental delay, and/or any type of disability, we have an online support group for you!
Grace & Hope 4 Caregivers is a supportive environment where caregivers can encourage each other. In this private Facebook group, you can share success stories or a challenge that you’re facing so that others can keep you in their thoughts and prayers. You will also find resources that have helped others along the way. If you're a caregiver, we invite you to join us. If you know a caregiver, please tell them about this group.
Grace & Hope 4 Caregivers is just one more way we want to offer you grace for today and hope for the future. You care for others, let us care for you! Join the group here.
See you there!
I know it's past 8 pm here in Pennsylvania and most people are done with Easter celebrations and they are now getting ready for the work and/or school week ahead. Why am I posting Easter wishes at the end of the day instead of this morning?
There are a few reasons. On a personal note, I have been caring for a sick child all weekend and didn't get to work on this l earlier today. However, it makes absolute sense for me to send this message now. You see, I wanted to talk about my favorite Easter hymn "Because He lives" and share how much it encourages me throughout the year and not just on Easter day. The phrase "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow" speaks hope to my heart.
I might not know what you are dealing with tonight or what you might have to face in the morning, but I know this one truth...When we believe in something bigger than ourselves, our fears of the unknown and fears of what tomorrow might hold no longer paralyze us. No matter what tomorrow brings, we can face it because He lives!
I pray that your heart is filled with hope and peace as you trust in Him to fight your battles.
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow!"
Can you help us help others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives? We have 1,000 brochures to share with the world. If people who visit your business or place of worship could benefit from our services, then please consider sharing our brochures with them.
We can mail or drop them off at your location (if you're in our area). Let us know by emailing email@example.com. Thanks in advance for helping us reach others!
Is there something in your life that you would like to change? Maybe it's a bad habit or simply something that no longer serves a purpose in your life. Maybe it's something that keeps you from living the life you want.
Join the Change Challenge: 5 action steps to making one simple life change!
Have you ever worked so hard on something but it didn't turn out the way you expected?
My last newsletter did not work out too well, at least from my perspective. When I worked it on it, things looked fine on the editor/creator side of things, then I hit submit and I was not happy with the outcome. The layout was not the same and the pictures were larger than intended and crowded the page...It just wasn't how I wanted it to be. Nobody complained about it, but I wasn't satisfied. I actually got a couple emails from people who liked the new logo (thank you for focusing on the positive :)
On my end, everything looked okay; not perfect, but acceptable. The published version did not look like what I saw before hitting "submit". I only viewed the newsletter from one angle (my editor/creator screen) and not what it would look like once displayed on the reader's screen. I did a preview before sending out the newsletter and that was fine as well, perhaps I should have sent out a test email to myself before sending it out to everyone.
Needless to say, I was disappointed with the program that I used to manage my subscribers and send out my newsletter. I was also disappointed in myself for not investigating other options to ensure the quality of the newsletter. I assigned blame...to the system...and to myself.
Blaming technology and blaming myself did not fix the problem. This reminded me that things are not always as they appear. I only have a limited view of things, of the present, of life. Since I can't see it all, then I can't control it all. If I can't control it all, then stressing about it doesn't change a thing!
This newsletter mishap forced me to research other programs that would be more effective in helping me connect with others. If this didn't happen, I would not have looked into programs that offer more features and would allow me to do even more than I did before. I now have more options to enhance my communication system. Sometimes, things don't work out so we can find better options to do better and be better.
After this ordeal, I switched to a different program and this is my first correspondence with the new email system. I would appreciate it if you could let me know that you got this email. With a new system, comes a time of learning and a time of adjustment. I'm getting the hang of things and I like the additional features that are available in this new system and I can't wait to try them out in the future. But I also realize that it will take some time to get used to doing things a different way and I need to allow myself the time (and grace) to adjust to this transition. When we find that better option, it doesn't necessarily mean that things will be easier at first. It might be a rocky road as we take on those first action steps but if our projected outcome outweighs the difficulties of the present time, then we can rest assured that our path will lead to a safe destination in the future.
What about you?
Is there an area of your life that you need to gain a different perspective on? Instead of blaming yourself or others, consider how limited your view might have been. You probably made the best decision with the information you had at the time. Well, just like I cannot control it all, neither can you. Just like I can't foresee the future, neither can you. So don't be too hard on yourself...
Are you going through something right now that might require you to seek for an alternative route? It's okay to know your options and take advantage of "additional features" that might enhance your life. Just because you've done it a certain way for so long, does not necessarily mean that it was the best way. Maybe it was the only way you knew how to do it, and that's ok, but now you have options. So don't limit yourself...
Have you already decided that you need to change course and steer in a different direction? Deciding is the first step, but an idea without action is only an idea. So act on it...
And when you're turning those action steps into reality, remember it took a long time for you to get where you were and it will take some time to get where you want to go. So be patient with yourself...
I hope this email encourages you to soar toward higher grounds and reach your full potential.
Here's our April Challenge:
Find one thing that you want to change in your life, write down why you want to change it, and what life will be like after the change occurs.
Write this down somewhere safe, like in a journal. I will send out additional action steps in a few days.
Until next time... remember, you are worth it!
The US Social Security Administration provides benefits for people with disabilities and those who are retired. The disability benefits that the Social Security Administration offers are Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The two are quite different and the chart below highlights some of the nuances between the two. To find out more or to apply, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or check out https://www.ssa.gov/.
Happy Valentine’s day, friends!
Has cupid’s arrow hit you yet? Do you feel love in the air?
I don’t know about you but I find it sad that we wait for thanksgiving to be thankful and valentine’s day to be loving. I believe that these values should be expressed daily in order for our actions to have lasting impact in our relationships and lives. But let’s change gears a bit; shall we?
Today, I want to talk to the person who does not feel love in the air, the one who is not expecting roses and chocolate today…yes, I’m talking to you! You might not feel loved. You might feel as every relationship in your life ended up as a failure. Maybe, you even gave up on love. I’m not a relationship coach nor do I provide marriage counseling, but I know this one truth…
TRUE LOVE STARTS INWARD & UPWARD.
People cannot fill the deepest longings of our hearts; they just can’t, otherwise they won’t be human. Humans by definition are limited and fallible. You won’t feel loved until you start loving yourself. Maybe you don’t see anything in you that is lovable and that might just be the problem. You are not lovable based on something you do, you are lovable because you are a person created in love!
Let me explain. The simple fact that you are alive and breathing today is proof that someone loved you enough to allow you to be… Let that sit with you a bit…
Now, if you were created in love, then why is it so hard for you to feel loved? Perhaps, it’s because you have been evaluating yourself against your own standards instead of seeing yourself through grace.
Here are 3 questions to help you determine your love standards:
1.What makes you feel loved?
2.What helps you love others?
3.In which situation(s) do you feel the least lovable?
Answering these three questions can give you an idea of how you evaluate love. Once you have determined whether your love tank is fueled by performance or grace, then you might want to work on specific steps to help you love yourself as you are. I realize this takes lot of work and it would take more than one blog post to cover that but here is a principle to get you started:
It is easier to love ourselves when we realize that we are first loved
and that becomes a truth that we choose to live by.
Yes, it is a choice. Everything in life starts with a decision. We cannot wait on other people to love us if we cannot love ourselves. And even when we start loving ourselves, there will always be a person or two that we might think do not love us. So, stop waiting for the world to love you, you need to start loving yourself for the beautiful person that you are; beautiful in all your flaws and shortcomings.
Here’s how I define LOVE : Living Out Values Everyday.
What are your values? What do you believe in? What do you stand for? What are your non-negotiables in life? Those are the things that should guide your life and be the lenses through which you see yourself. If you value respect, then you start respecting yourself more and expecting respect from others. And that’s just one way of loving yourself. Same goes for honesty, diligence, perseverance, and others values that you might have.
We love ourselves by treating ourselves as the beautiful people we were created to be!
So on this valentine’s day and everyday, please love on yourself. Start by seeing yourself as all that you are meant to be. And because you are all that (I mean it in a very positive way), then treat yourself as such. If you are not expecting any roses or chocolate today, offer yourself some!
You deserve your time and attention!
Happy valentine’s day and remember, you are loved!
Living Out Values Everyday...
On 2/1/17, I spoke about Self-care during a Facebook empowerment summit for women (SUPER YOU:All Powered Up!) and I wanted to share some resources with everyone : the self-care worksheet and self-care wheel . I hope they help you become more proactive in taking care of yourself.
You can catch up on all 30 Super YOU speakers here.
During my presentation, I talked about how self-care being both a mindset and a lifestyle. We have to first change the way we think about ourselves in order to make self-care a way of life. The mindset that empowers self-care is the one that says "I am valuable for my time. I am deserving of my care".
If you find yourself struggling to believe such statements, then you would benefit from my next online workshop on The Power of Self-compassion.
Remember to take care of yourself (because YOU ARE WORTH IT!)
Chou is an Author, Speaker, Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org