Monday, November 7, 2011

pondering life's sweet spot

For the past 2 years I've been writing a regular column for Autism Asperger's Digest called,  parent to parent :: the sweet spot.  My final entry just came out in the latest issue, and I wanted to share a few excerpts with you.  In case you're thinking "Aw, no more?" please celebrate with me, as this is a conscious decision to move on toward greater challenge and a wider audience.  Future Horizons was not able to pay me for my work.  I expect that to change, soon.  At least, that's the goal!  Oh, and look out for the next issue - some handsome faces you'll recognize will be on the cover. :)

A few excerpts of my final (regular) column.  It may not  flow well, because I've lifted the opening and closing paragraphs, and included only a bit of what came in between.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the title of this column: the sweet spot.  For me, it describes the place where we find ourselves balanced between a broad view of life and actually being present in the here and now. Without a view of the horizon, we can fret over needless details, but if we fail to enjoy today, we can become overwhelmed by worries that belong to tomorrow.

The sweet spot mentality plays into making marriage not only work, but thrive.  I've seen the statistics on autism and divorce and it breaks my heart.  None of us are immune to the heartbreak of divorce, and all relationships suffer under stress.  But I simply refuse to accept that our marriages must deteriorate because our children have challenges.  I believe that with intentionality and (yes) work, we can foster balance in our marriage and family life.  I reject blanket statements like "Your kids have to come first!" or "Your marriage has to come first!" These relationships are not pitted against one another- they are integral parts of us and of each other.  There is no need for absolutist prioritizing.

Your child needs you to kneel down, look them in the eyes, and listen to what they have to say.  Your partner needs that same focused attention.  Every day.  For a few moments, when you're together, look him or her deep in the eye and give your full attention.  This is the best gift you can give a person, young or old.  If I'm giving my husband my attention and one of our children enters the room talking, my response needs to be, "I'm having a conversation, please don't interrupt."  Similarly, if I'm giving one of my children my attention and my husband walks in the room talking, I need to ask him to wait a moment (and he does). Mutual respect - not competition. 

Living in life's sweet spot is simply my way of describing something we all recognize when we experience it but don't always know how to attain: peace.  Peace within radiates out to everyone around us.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers."  I take that as a bit of a challenge.  Stop reacting.  Start choosing.  Keep one eye on the big picture while remembering to be present in the moment.  And be at peace.

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