My Final Blog Post for 2017

Finally

I shared my thoughts earlier on introspection and how this might help you to determine some of your goals for 2018. In my final blog post for 2017, I share some of my greatest accomplishments of this year. Several of these were goals that I attempted in previous years but finally happened in 2017.

2017 accomplishments

It’s always a work in progress. Many of these goals will continue and here’s my vision board for 2018. Be sure to stay tuned for updates on these goals… and maybe some added ones as I continue to reflect on my joys, challenges and experiences in 2017.

2018 vision board

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Introspection and Resolutions

As 2017 draws to a close, expect social media to be inundated with the “New Year, New Me” posts, coupled with the multitude of failed attempts at resolutions. But why are resolutions so difficult for many of us to commit to and so easy for us to fail at? I think the answer lies in what we set as our resolutions. How genuine are these goals and how accurately do they reflect our true desires? Are we attempting to learn a new skill because it might help us with our personal marketability or because it sounds cool to say? How about those fitness plans… because it’s the easiest goal to think of or because we really have a vested desire to be healthier?

A few years ago, I changed my approach towards resolutions. Instead of focusing my attention on setting goals, I started using this time for deep thought and then allowed goals to unfold from my thought process. For me personally, I think introspection is needed for growth. This allows me to reflect on all that I accomplished and decide what is most important for me to focus on as we move into the new year.

One of the tools that helped me was an introspection article, which included a list of 100 questions that can sometimes help in your thought process and maybe allow some goals to unfold for 2018. I’m sharing some of my faves with the hope that they can assist you as they’ve done for me. Allow your thoughts to run as deeply as possible… not simply answering the question but focusing on the why in your answer.

  1. When was the last time you told someone “I love you”?
  2. When was the last time someone told you that they love you?
  3. Can you be alone without feeling lonely?
  4. What is one thing you love most about yourself?
  5. What made you feel the most alive this year?
  6. What did you do this year that you regret?
  7. What made you cry the hardest this year?
  8. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
  9. What did you accomplish this year that you’re most proud of?
  10. Was 2017 better or worse than 2016?
  11. Who is that one person you can talk to about anything?
  12. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?
  13. If you died tomorrow, what would you be most remembered for?
  14. What was the best book you read this year?
  15. When did you feel most at peace this year?
  16. Who might you owe an apology to at the end of this year?
  17. What’s the most important thing you learned this year?
  18. Are your actions guided by love or fear?
  19. Do the people you surround yourself with add value to your life?
  20. Are you more likely to follow the crowd or listen to your own heart?
  21. What is one thing  that you could start doing to immediately improve the quality of your life?
  22. When was the last time you did something nice for yourself?
  23. What was the last new thing you learnt?
  24. Are you a happy person?
  25. If you had to give a child one piece of advice, what would it be?
  26. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
  27. Is there someone who has hurt or angered you that you need to forgive?
  28. What has my heart been telling me that I might be ignoring?
  29. Where am I not being honest with myself and why?
  30. What would you do differently if you only had one more year to live?

Stay tuned for my 2018 resolutions in a blog post coming soon.

New Year’s Resolutions for Special Needs Parents

If you’re like most parents, it can be challenging under ideal circumstances to make self-care a priority. Add a special needs child to the family and that goal of self-care feels almost impossible. But in order for us to be the best parents and advocates for our children, it’s critical that we find balance to our lives. And what better time to focus on creating those goals, than the New Year.

So here are my thoughts on some possible resolutions that you can consider for you and your family.

Take a moment for yourself

In theory, it makes sense. If you’re stressed, you can’t give your best. In reality, how do you find a quiet moment with your spouse or by yourself when the care for your child is so delicate? Taking those moments to relax don’t necessarily have to be away from the kids (although it’s a little nicer). Perhaps movie night at home; a game of twister; anything to bring a smile to everyone’s face. And don’t underestimate willing grandparents. Maybe they don’t do everything as you do. But will your little one be safe and enjoy himself? That’s most important and you get a few hours to recharge.

Celebrate the smallest of victories

It’s sometimes overwhelming when we consider the simple things that our children can’t do. When your child is 6 years old, they aren’t fully verbal, still potty training and only eat mac and cheese, it can become very disheartening. Firstly, give yourself permission to have those feelings. You are human and entitled to have a despondent moment occasionally. But then start to work on changing your perspective. While you’re setting goals to work on the challenging areas and know that progress will happen eventually, start to rejoice the little things that our children CAN do. To this day, I’m delighted every time my son gives someone a hug because he hates people in his space. If he tries a new food, I’m ecstatic. And my entire social network will hear about it!

Find a strong network to provide emotional and informational support

Ideally, real life support is excellent. But don’t underrate the power of Facebook groups and online forums. Our support group Autism Spirit was created for this exact reason… so that parents could find people willing to listen to them vent and support them.

One day at a time

This was a difficult lesson for me. OCD Virgo with a Type A personality usually means planning the next 10 years of your life. But this was a real resolution that I set a few years ago. I knew that I needed to change my outlook and that meant taking away my compulsiveness to plan and generate results. It was a huge challenge but by reminding myself daily to take each day as its own individual and special allotment of time, it allowed me the opportunity to appreciate the results as they unfolded, instead of on the timeline I would’ve planned.

Become the best advocate that you can be for your child

There are many challenges to raising a special needs child worldwide, not just locally. Greater awareness and acceptance is needed in schools, hospitals, business places so that inclusion and better resources can be made available. Who knows your child better than you? And who can speak on their behalf better than you? Not everyone can speak publicly. But find support groups and organisations that align with the vision you want for your child and find out how you can lend your talents to creating a unified stand for special needs.

Originally written for Care Parenting for publication in the Trinidad Guardian

And feel free to check the social media links for our support group Autism Spirit: