Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Soul-Blowing Sunset

Happy Wednesday!

I just noticed that last week's post was number 50 for Downs by the Bay!  50 posts inspired by Brady P. and Copper Harbor.  Wow!  Perhaps that's why last night's sunset was so soul-blowing.

Let me tell you about it.

But before I tell you, I will inform you that you need to pay extra attention to my words. Why?  Big surprise... I did not have a camera to capture even one moment, one color or one sparkle.  

But I captured it in my soul.

Brady P. and I drove to Bryce's beach to catch a sunset and throw some rocks.  The whole drive there, I could see these clouds.  They were very unique.

It was like looking at the underside of hundreds of sacks of fluff.  They all hung, packed together across one section of the sky.  And somehow, with the sun still above them, a golden light illuminated their curves, so sensually that they each left their own impression in the sky and on my mind.

I watched those clouds the whole hike down the beach, too.  "Oh, those clouds!" I kept exclaiming.  They just grabbed a part of me.  I wonder if I will ever see that sight again.

After Brady P. was done being mesmerized with the oncoming waves in the freshly open lake, I got him to run down the beach to a rock throwing spot.  That kept him busy while I sunk a few myself and watched those clouds.

I kept checking to see when the sun was going to sink below them.

Hold your fist out in front of you as far as you can with your thumb down.  Now imagine your thumb side is the horizon of the lake and your pinky side is the bottom of those clouds.  The rest of your fingers represents approximately how much clear sky was between the clouds and the water.  Not too much in the grand scheme.

After a few more splooshers, I noticed a concentrated spot of golden light at the bottom of the cloud sack clusters.

"The sun is going to drop!" I squealed.  I found it ironic that the sun was dropping during a sunset, but it was going to slowly fall out of those clouds and drop into the middle of Lake Superior.

*Insert giddiness here.*

Suddenly, pshew!  The rays shot forth from behind the clouds, and started to illuminate the beach with a soft, warm glow. The golden sacks of clouds darkened into a mass of shadow.  They became the great dark wall in the sky.

The waves started to sparkle from behind.  Oh, my mighty Mother  of Nature.  The rhythmic waves, about 6 inches tall from base to crest, turned into clear, moving water windows.  I could see the slowly dropping sun's light right through them.

It sparkled, it danced, it took me to a new place right on this earth.

My heart felt like it was struck by lightening.  Every cell in my body tingled and shook as I took in the beauty before me.  

And the water splashing from Braeden's rocks leapt up like liquid gold as the sun illuminated the droplets from behind.  I had to throw rocks myself just to watch the golden splashes.

Remember your fist as the sky?  Now imagine the bright burning sun filling that gap like your fist. Just fitting between the clouds and the lake for a minute before it sank into the sparkling water.

I know you're not supposed to stare at the sun, but I did't care.  I had golden orbs filling my vision everywhere I looked and each time I blinked.  It was so worth it.

Because then the sun sank into the lake.

"Bye-bye, Sun!  See you tomorrow!" I waved, hopeful that I really would see it tomorrow.  That is never guaranteed here in the Keweenaw.

And slowly the golden backlight faded as the waves became dim.  I could have taken that as a loss, but the next show was equally as spectacular.

As the last bit of sun sank below the horizon, all hell broke loose.  Now I only say that because, well, what do you think the sky would look like if "hell" opened up and spewed its fiery hues?

A deep magenta/red glow lit up the horizontal stripes on the bottom  of that wall cloud.  It was like a  claw ripped across it, and the claw marks remained dark.  

In the foreground, new clouds made an appearance.  You know that pearl-backed white dragon from The Never Ending Story movie?  He was up there, with hot pink fur and his mouth open, billowing his deep, hearty laugh, as he flew northward through the sky.  And all around were similar shapes as if he was joined by smaller friends.

I dropped my jaw in the rocks.  Holy fantazamagoly.  I was simply stunned sitting there in that swath of rocks.  I just stared in amazement at the beauty in this world.  This sky.  This lake.  This universe.

As the sky continued to darken, and the red glow retreated, I found my jaw and clicked it back into place.  I took the lightening bolts out of my heart and threw them in the lake.

Surely, she would deliver more again.

Thanks for reading about the magic!

You've earned a picture of the other day when we were puddle splashing.  Braeden likes splashing in puddles as much as he likes throwing rocks.  He always comes back drenched, and it's hard to pull him away!

Mud face standing in a puddle

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Do You Really Want To?

Hey there!

Thanks for clicking to read.  

No, really.  Thank you.

I wouldn't make the effort to post each Wednesday (or soon after) if I thought nobody was reading this.  But you are.  So thanks.

With your dedication -- weekly or otherwise -- I want you to ask yourself why.  "Hey, (myself), why do I read this blog?"

Do you know the answer right away?  

Do you personally know and love Braeden and me, and this is how you stay connected?  Do you know and love someone with Down syndrome and enjoy the camaraderie?  Do you love Copper Harbor?  Did you read my last blog, A Little Slice of da Harbor, and habitually switch over because you enjoy my writing?  Did a friend show you this blog?

You don't have to tell me.  Unless you want to.  But I just want you to look inside yourself, and ask why you do this one little thing.  Really, it's best to do that with everything you do, but we will start with this.

For now.

Okay,  thanks for that introspective moment.

I have had a very introspective winter.  For years I was a social butterfly, and I overextended myself for others when it was actually zapping my energy.  I just felt like I should do it all for others.  Even though I physically couldn't.  

Nobody can.

But I have been sober for over a year.  I find comfort in meaningful conversations instead of surface chatter.  I find power in telling people 'no' when their request does not fall in line with my purpose.

Because I need all the energy I can get to help save the world. To help raise the consciousness of humanity to its highest potential.  But before I do that, I have to do it within myself!

So I am working on it.  It is starkly revealing at times.  It can also be difficult to face.  But at the same time, it is empowering and liberating.  My old friends and family might not understand it, but it is a beautiful transition in my life.

It's as though I've been uprooted from my old habits and plunked into fresh soil.  Soil with great potential for growth.  But in order to soak up the energy, I need to focus on the sun.  And the rain.  And the darkness and mystery of what my roots are now pushing into and through.

I just need to believe.

My heart can feel that it's right.

I am grateful.

Okay, so thanks for exploring the inner world of Amanda for a moment.

Do you ever do that with yourself?  Just like I asked you why you read this blog, I would encourage you to ask yourself "Why am I doing this?" about more things.

If your answer is usually "Because I want to, and it helps me fulfill my purpose," then you are on the right track, my friend. 

If your answer is, "Because I have to," or "Someone is making me," or "This is just what I have always done," then please take it a step further and notice how it feels to realize that.

How does it feel to be forced?  To feel like you have no other option?  To follow old habits out of "comfort?"  Just sit with that feeling.

*Please note: some things you have to do, like biological functions and taking care of people and animals you are responsible for.  But you can ponder ways to do these things in ways that they work best for you.

Now think about something you love to do.  "I love to (fill in the blank), and it makes me feel (fill in the blank)."

Now feel it.  Really feel it.

Feel the difference in your body when you focus on those two different frequencies.  I don't even have to tell you which one is better.  You already know.  And only you can feel it fully.  Because it is part of you.

So right now, you are either thinking, "Hmm, this is very interesting.  I will do this more in my daily life."  Or you are thinking, "Where are the pictures of Braeden in all this snow we just got?  This is boring."

And that's okay.

Like I mentioned in a previous post, this blog is full of surprises and variety.  But all of them have the same purpose: to help make a difference in this world.

Thanks for reading.  But only if you want to....

Braeden stomps in puddles because he wants to

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Little Chucker

When deciding on Braeden's middle name, I first picked Charles.  That was my Grandpa Wilbur's middle name.  

The May before Braeden was born, I was in North Dakota, the state where Grandpa Wilbur lived and passed in 1986.  I didn't know him very well because I was so young, but he came to visit me that May of 2014 while I slept on my aunt and uncle's couch.

It was Grandpa's 100th birthday, and my mom and I went to visit his grave that day.  I felt a coolness behind me as I tried to sleep on my side with a little bun in my oven.  I knew instantly that it was him.

He told me I was having a boy.

I smiled.

So when Braeden was born, I had the inclination to brand his middle name after Grandpa Wilbur Charles.  However, my own father is still alive.  My wonderful Daddio Philip.  I figured he would be honored, too, so I switched it to Braeden Philip to carry on that legacy.  All from the convenience of my hospital bed.

Why am I telling you this?

Because "Chuck" lives on in Braeden.  He is a rock chucker to the max.  He chucks each rock enthusiastically and deliberately.  Like each one is his first and last.

Double-fisting before the double chucker

Luckily Bryce has a beach nearby where we can go, so Brady P. can satisfy his obsession... in April!  There is no place to sit on a rock beach near open water in the Harbor right now.  I have looked.

Thanks Bryce, for finding a beach, chucking with us and capturing the moments (all photos on this post courtesy of Bryce).

Watching Braeden do this is inspiring.  He is in his element, no doubt.  The moment he sits (or stands) on the beach, he  scoops up a rock and tosses is in.  Giddily.  Merrily. Seriously.  Like he means it.

It's so inspiring, that anyone around has to join in for a few.

B and me in rock-tossing bliss

Over and over and over and over again.  The other day we sat out for almost two hours, and he still disagreed when we said it was time to leave.

"Three more rocks, Braeden," is always my cue to inform him that we are about to leave.  Then we have to say good-bye to the rocks and lake, so he knows that we are really leaving.

He still disagrees.

And that is a nice way to say that sometimes he throws himself into the rocks and screams in protest.  Sometimes he comes reluctantly.  But he always disagrees.  At minimum.

I can't blame him.  Who wants to leave Lake Superior?  Who wants to leave the beach?  Who wants to stop doing their favorite thing in the world?

Certainly not Braeden.

He could sit there all day in mild to warm weather.  He doesn't even know he is hungry until we get inside.

I really wonder if he might be the first Major League baseball pitcher with Down syndrome.  Not that we watch sports, but he's got mad skills.

It is in him.  My little Chuck.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Say Whaaat?

Well, spring break is over, and I got my little boy back.  I haven't worked my life around a spring break since I was in college, and now, here I am, planning around my little boy's school.

Because he is in school -- for the most part.

And he is learning.  A lot.

For much of his life, he's been living with only me.  Unless we are visiting family, I feel like it's just been B and me.  I know he thinks I am cool, and he loves me, but I am his mom.  He needs to branch out.  See other faces.  Hear other voices.  Receive different perspectives.

School has been awesome for that.  He sees and interacts with other kids.  He works with other teachers.  He is part of a social hierarchy, if you will, whether he knows it or not (because, as the youngest, he is on the bottom.  Ha!).

He is working so hard on talking.  So hard.  He will now imitate me and others as they slowly speak a word to him.  He intently moves his mouth and voice while he watches their lips and listens to their sounds.

He can say some short words and even some people's names! And he certainly enjoys the thunderous applause when he nails a word.  

I'm so proud of him.

Of all the areas a child with special needs gets tested in, speech was his weakest.  And actually, it is the only area in which he qualifies for continuing special education because his current level is less than half where a normal child would be.

His struggle to speak does not come as a surprise.  In fact, I started sign language with him at two months old in preparation.  He used his first sign just before he turned one. "More," he signed when he wanted more food.

I nearly fell off my chair.

But here's where the struggle is apparent in him.  He is so smart.  So smart.  He can point to nearly any color, shape, letter, number, animal, object or person you ask.  But he can't say it himself.

So when he wants one of those things, he can't always express it, unless he has a sign or a combination of sounds that someone recognizes.

It frustrates him.

But even more than that, I think he feels a bit inadequate about it.  He sees other kids (sometimes younger) say what they want.  He watches adults converse.  He knows exactly what he wants, but can't always convey it.

And let me tell you, when he knows exactly what he wants, that is exactly what he wants, and nothing else will do.  For those things, I make sure he has a way to communicate to me, or he would probably spend time pounding his fists on the floor in a tantrum.  Luckily, that is rare.

And luckily, he is trying and learning at an accelerated rate.  His ability to even try a sound has taken off in the last few months.  His ability to make the sound correctly has doubled.  And his desire to try each word someone might say is remarkable.

For all this, I thank his speech therapist, Miss Dawn.  I thank his grammies and grampies who work so hard with him.  I thank his teachers who work with him one-on-one.  I thanks the students who take extra time to learn his signs, interact with him and speak clearly to him.  I thank each person who has watched him in my absence because they take that time to learn his signs and make him feel comfortable.

I also have to thank myself.  It's been a lot.  Trial and error for extra programs.  Learning some sign language myself.  Using extra patience to pay close attention to that magical little boy who just wants to be heard.

It's  a lot for everyone involved, but it's so rewarding.

And someday, he will tell us all about it.  He will blow our minds with the things he has to say... the things he knows... because there is much wisdom in his eyes.

Thanks for reading and learning with me.  As a present, here is a picture of him splashing in puddles.

Splashing through the puddles