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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memories

            Looking back on my life with my son I can clearly see things I wish I had done differently, things I wish I had understood differently, and the many fears I had in life. I wish I had appreciated the little things more. The problem is that most people don’t know that those little things are actually the big things. When you look back over decades of photos is when you see how big they were. You retell the story when you look back. You can see how everything is flipped around and how the big was really small and the small was really big. My son had hair on his head that stood straight up all the time. I put gel on it to get it to lie down, but it would not. I was constantly brushing it to the side with my hand to get it to lie down. I complained about how it always stood straight up no matter what I did. Guess which pictures are most precious to me now? They are the ones where his hair is sticking straight up!
He was such a doll. I don’t know why I cared about it so much, or why I did not see how damn cute it was! In many of the pictures, it looks as if the wind is blowing it to the side, even though we are indoors because it is not completely down or completely up due to my efforts to get it down. I was crazy, obviously. Anyway, here is word you may have never heard or read:

Anakephalaiosasthai
(Possibly pronounced ana – ka – fay – lo – ay – sas – tie, but do not hold me to it!)

            That is an actual word, rather a combination of two words. It is a Greek word and it can mean several things: everything in heaven and on earth, to sum up, to bring unity to, or to retell. I heard of this word through Rob Bell. He does a weekly podcast he calls the RobCast. He spoke of this word in podcast number 16, named 19 Letters! Click the name to hear it. He posted a picture of this word on his Instagram and he asked people to post a photo of them anakephalaiosasthai-ing. That is probably not a word, but you understand what he means. By the way, at the end of this post, you will see some funny photos of me and Joshua. I was trying to take a selfie of us with our new T-shirts and the results are hilarious!
            Anakephalaiosasthai is what I do with this blog. I retell our story and I sum it up. I wish I had someone do that for me when I was a young mother trying to figure out how to cope with this new kind of life I had not anticipated. Well, actually I did have people who did that for me, but it took many years and a few books to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. The first person helped me to begin to seeing the world and my life a bit differently as I was reading HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. That person was author Barry Neil Kaufman. Then, some time later I read LIFE STRATEGIES, by Dr. Philip McGraw. I did the work, too. Dr. Phil gives assignments in that book and I did all of them. Wow! That was a real eye opener. He taught me how to look back at my life with clear eyes and see how each person and event impacted the woman I am today. Realizations were popping up left and right for me when I did that. There was some blame going on, but I also had to take responsibility. And then, some time after that, I read A NEW EARTH: AWAKENING TO YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE, by Eckhart Tolle. Reading that book gave me a clear understanding of my role in my life. I had to take total responsibility at that point because it made me see there was no one impacting my life, but me. Looking back at my life and summing it up I can see that almost all of the decisions I made were fear based, including the ones I thought were love based.
            So with every new book I read, I remembered my life and retold my stories. Each book brought me closer and closer to a new way of seeing my life and my child. Each book showed me, with greater and greater detail, the fear I held inside along the way and how that fear shaped my thinking and my attitude. They showed me the impact my fears had on all of my decisions, on my child, and on all of my relationships. I was able to retell the story of my life with more honesty because the veil of my ego was removed. I saw all of the ugliness I brought to my life without my ego glossing over it. I could clearly see my fears and the fears of others. When you can do that your life changes because you can see where your changes need to be made. You can see the lessons your life is trying to teach you. Most importantly, you can start to retell your stories as they happen.
   Right after I listened to the RobCast about anakephalaiosasthai, I listened to a sermon by Rev. Ed Bacon called LET LOVE FLUSH THE FEAR OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM. Click the title to hear it. He spoke about the ways we are taught to fear, but it made me think about our children with disabilities and all of the fear that surrounds them. He spoke about letting go of our fears and becoming a place where people feel loved and safe when they are around us. He said we can become “a place where love abounds.” It is our purpose to move from fear to love in our lifetime. Fear is the barrier keeping us from a life of complete love. How do we humans, who are so accustomed to living in fear and allowing fear to control our actions, all of a sudden start overcoming it? The first step is to become familiar with it and to recognize it as soon as we feel it.
            Keeping your child in mind, I want you to think about your life and your attitude about your life. Think about your feelings towards your child and your feelings about their disability. Think about the decisions you have made, the things you have said, and the things you have done. Were you motivated by fear? Any action you took that was negative, harsh, manipulative, or harmful was motivated by fear. How did you feel at the time? Get in touch with your fear, so you will recognize it as soon as it comes up. Notice how it feels in your body. Notice what it does to your mind; the thoughts that arise when you feel fear.
            Now put yourself in the place of your child. Imagine being them. How scary is it? What do you think causes fear to arise in your child? What stories might they tell in their mind about your actions and reactions toward them? Think about what their life would be like if their caregiver – you – did not live in fear. Imagine how it might free them to get free of their own fears. Rev. Bacon says we are meant to “become healing, whole making agents of God’s love in any anxious setting or transaction.” Imagine recognizing your fear as soon as you feel it and deciding to overcome it in that moment so that your child can know they are in a safe place with you. You can be their safe harbor. You can be the place where they can rid themselves of anxiety and relax into your love. All you have to do is recognize the fear and retell the story from a place of love. To quote Rob Bell, you say to yourself, “Yes, this is a hell on earth. Yes, this is awful and difficult, and yet right now I’m going to trust that it won’t last forever and at some point I’m going to get through this. And I’m going to be so grateful that I got through this. What you’re already doing in that moment is you’re anakephalaiosasthai-ing that thing.”
            One more thought before I close: Memorial Day is a time when many people remember their lost loved ones. Often, when remembering them, we retell the story in a softer way than we would if they were still with us. Being separated by death can cause us to realize the problems we had with someone were not as bad as we thought when they were alive. We rethink and retell the story of that person as we realize the impermanence of life. Maybe we wish there was a second chance to say things we did not say. Maybe we wish we had not been quite so petty about little things. Once again, as we do when going through old photographs, we see that the things we thought were big were actually very, very small. After someone has passed we are able to look back at our relationship with them more honestly and see our own mistakes; mistakes we could not take responsibility for when they were alive. Suddenly our ego can let go of pride. We are able to see the fear we brought to the relationship and how the fear impacted our interactions. Sometimes the person we lost was not easy to love. This person treated people badly, picked fights, had to always be right, and was self-centered. Now that they are not here to defend their ego or to fight with us, we can see that they were vulnerable and scared. We can see that they were desperate for love and afraid they would never receive it. We can see how fear of rejection motivated them to act the way they acted. We can see that they could not receive love because their self-worth would not allow them to believe they were worthy of it. They acted as if they did not care about others because they were protecting their heart. Once this person is gone from our life, our ego no longer has a reason to defend itself and we can clearly see their fear. We can also see the ways we chose not to show our love for them. They made it difficult, and maybe we did not see their vulnerability at the time, but we can now see areas where we could have reached out with love toward them. We can look back and see times they tried to reach out to us, but our prideful ego blocked their efforts. Suddenly their actions and words make more sense. Looking honestly at our fears and recognizing their fears, we can retell their story, healing the relationship within our own mind and heart.
            Michael Singer wrote in THE UNTETHERED SOUL that if death were to come knocking on your door you would say please give me one more week, one more day. It would say back to you, look at all the weeks and days I already gave you, what did you do with them? That is a sobering thought. What did I do with them? Did I love as freely as I could have? Did I spend them working at the expense of time with my family? Did I take much from them and only give a little in return? Did I worry too much about cleaning the house rather than spending time with my child? Did I live my life in fear? Start recognizing fear now, in yourself and in others.
            The single most important thing you can do in your life is to overcome your fears and show love to the people you love. We all think we have some big purpose in life, some great achievement we need to do for the world, but our one and only purpose is to learn to love. Love unconditionally; love freely; love with inhibition; love without fear. That is your purpose in life. If you can let love flush the fear out of your system you have achieved your purpose in life and you have completed a great achievement for the world. I believe Satan is fear and God is love. Kick Satan to the curb, anakephalaiosasthai your memories and your current events, and live in the abounding love of God. Happy Memorial Day! Now, grab some tissues because these photos are so funny you may cry!



Opening Doors Here is a way one young man decided to retell his story. 


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