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Archive for June, 2010

by Shannon Penrod

I have a few friends that seem to have a different outlook on money than I am familiar with.  These individuals look at money like I tend to look at my kitchen faucet.  I turn the faucet on knowing that the water will cascade out.  Sure, there have been a few times in my life when I went to the faucet and nothing came out, but those were momentary lapses in how I understand the world to work.  This is how a few of my friends look at money – it’s always there, there’s lots of it and if you want it all you have to do is turn on the faucet.  They don’t believe in wasting it, just like I don’t believe in wasting water – but they trust completely in the fact that it is readily at their disposal.  This is shocking to me.  There is a part of me that thinks they are crazy – but it has not escaped my notice that these are the same friends that always have money.  It boggles the mind!  I don’t understand it… but I want to.  I want to “get” it.  I want to relax comfortably in the knowledge that money is ever abundant.

About a month ago I had Marla Tabaka as a guest on my radio show, Everyday Autism Miracles.  Marla is Life Coach who hosts a radio show on Toginet Radio as well.  Her show is called The Million Dollar Mindset.  Even the name of the show makes me sigh with longing.  I had Marla on the show, not to talk about getting a million dollar mindset, although what Autism parent couldn’t use that, but to talk about EFT.  EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, is sometimes referred to as tapping because you tap different points on your body to relieve stress, tension, traumas and emotional blockages.  I was 100% sure that Autism parents could use some free stress relief tips that didn’t involve drugging themselves.  It was an amazing show.  We had three callers who tapped on 3 different subjects and all of them reported feeling totally different after only 3 minutes.  I was intrigued!  So when my friend Ally Loprete told me that she was going to have Marla on her show, This Little Parent Stayed Home, I quickly volunteered to tap on my money issues.

I could tell you all about the tapping but suffice it to say it was amazing!  You can listen to the entire session by downloading it here.  The session starts about 22 minutes in.  The actual tapping only lasts about 3 minutes but it was life changing.  Do I now think of money like my faucet?  Not quite, but I do have a sense that I’ve unclogged a pipe or two.  I intend to keep tapping.  I’ll keep you posted on how it affects my bank account.

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by Shannon Penrod

In the summer of 1977 James Taylor released “JT” and for the first time I heard the lyrics “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”.  I was a sophomore in high school so while the lyrics were pretty, they didn’t carry much meaning for me.  However, my unwavering love for James Taylor and his music has meant that the song and it’s lyrics have stayed with me through the years.  And maybe, just maybe, in the summer of 2010, I am finally starting to wrap my brain around the meaning of the song.

This summer seems to mark a number of milestones for me; my 30th high school reunion – Yikes!  The 20th anniversary of completing graduate school, and I just enjoyed a brief summer vacation with two of my sibling’s adult children.  Nothing delivers the blow of the passage of time more effectively than seeing how other people’s children have grown.  Oye! 

The other day I found myself in the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland with my adult niece and her two and a half-year old daughter.  As we were walking in to the attraction I explained to my niece that while it isn’t Disney’s best work the Tiki Birds were one of my Grandma Dorothy’s favorite things in life.  We sat down, the lights dimmed and as my little grand nieces face lit up like a Christmas tree I did a little mental time travel.  First, I had a really vivid memory of being about 4 sitting on my Grandmother’s lap while watching the Tiki Birds on a Wonderful World of Disney special, then my mind was whisked forward in time about 20 years to a time when I took my niece to the circus, she was only about 4 at the time.  I looked at my niece in the present and couldn’t believe how much time had passed.  

As though my mind couldn’t help it, I time traveled in my head 25 years into the future.  I imagined myself in my early 70’s at an event with my grand niece’s child.  It was a startling vision.  Am I really only 25 years away from being in my early 70’s?  How can that be?  25 years ago I was YOUNG! 

When the initial shock wore off I just sat with the image.  How terrible would it be to be 70?  After all what’s the alternative?  I imagined sitting with my niece, who will then be my age, her daughter, who will be in her twenties and this new little girl who is yet to be.  I felt a wave of melancholy followed by a wave of excitement.  I know that in 25 years there will be people missing from my life that I can’t currently bear to think about losing.  Twenty years ago I couldn’t have imagined losing my father or my grandmother, but I was comforted by two thoughts.  1. Telling stories to  new generations means that those we have lost live on and 2. Twenty years ago I could never have imagined all of the family members that have joined us – these little lives, like my son and my grand niece and my youngest nephew have changed us all and made us better people.  I wouldn’t have missed knowing them for the world.  Chances are there are more lives joining our family, this is something to look forward to, not run away from.

I sat there in the Enchanted Tiki Room, listening to the clicking of the animatronic birds chirping like a bunch of prozac infused balls of feathers and I felt myself actually enjoying the passage of time.  I knew that somewhere, on another plane my Grandmother was really happy that I had taken her along for the ride and I relaxed in the knowledge that someday I will tell my great grand niece about watching her mother clap and sing with a bunch of nutty robotic birds.  And while I’m telling her that story I will tell her about all the wonderful fabulous people in our family who came before her.  I will enjoy that day.

I don’t know about “aging gracefully” but I’m grateful to James Taylor for once again providing me with a road map.

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by Shannon Penrod

I remember when my nephew was born and my parents became grandparents for the first time; my mother would stop at nothing to make that baby laugh.  When asked about it my mother proudly said, “I would dye my hair purple and dance on top of the public library if that’s what it took to make that baby smile.”  As it turns out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  This weekend we celebrated my son’s 7th birthday.  I suppose a 7th birthday is a big deal in most families, but I feel like it has special significance if you are in the Autism community.  We have a thing called a “window of opportunity”.  This is a wonderful/terrible ticking time bomb that is ever reminding us that early intervention is the key.  While progress is still possible after the age of 7, the statistics show clearly that the most progress can be made before age 7.  I have always known in my heart that 7 was our magic number.  Recent studies suggest that maybe the window is closer to 7 1/2 or 8.  7 is still a big deal in our house.  

When planning birthday parties I am always stunned at how much money you are expected to spend.  Every year I say I’m not going to do it.  Then I think about how hard my child works, how much he has overcome and how much he loves getting together with his friends.  Then I go completely and totally insane.  I set out to do something small and inexpensive, somehow that becomes something large and inexpensive, which always just becomes expensive. 

This year my son decided he would like to bowl with his friends.  Actually his first choice was to have a Lego party.  Did you know that it ONLY costs $600 to have a Lego party in your home?  But it has to be on a Tuesday, that doesn’t cover the cost of any food and you can only have 15 children?  Clearly I am in the wrong business.  Next week I am going to become a Lego party planner.  So, we settled for bowling.  Not cheap either, but not $600.  

I made the decision that we would only serve cake.  Let them eat cake, I say!  The party was at 7pm on a Friday, I’m sure I broke some party rule by not serving pizza and chips and everything else under the sun!  Oh, well!  I can hear Jamie Oliver saying, “It’s 7 o’clock they just ate dinner and now we are serving them pizza and cake?”  Besides, it wasn’t in the budget.  Fine, all I have to do is bring a cake and some parting gifts.   Finally a low maintenance, stress free party!  Which is when I decided to make the cakes myself.  Because that’s what crazy people do.

I asked my son what kind of cake he wanted.  You have to understand that he doesn’t eat cake, not really.  I knew that I would be making him a gluten-free, sugar-free version of a cake, but he and I both know that I was talking about what kind of cake did he want to serve his guests.  Even though he doesn’t eat it, the cake is a big deal.  Whenever we go to a party he wants to see the cake.  It’s like another “toy” to him.  So I asked and the answer I got was a “Lego cake with Lego guys bowling on it”  Can you forsee the insanity coming on? 

First there was the researching of Lego cakes on google, then the search for a brick mold, then a gummy candy recipe, and ultimately the search for a sugar-free vegan gummy candy recipe.  Insanity.  But this is what we came up with:  Three cakes (I can’t do one cake – we had 8 different cakes at our wedding)  The first cake  was chocolate fudge with a raspberry and chocolate mousse filling, the second cake was strawberry with banana raspberry filling.  Both of these were decorated with white and dark chocolate bricks as well as gummy bricks in cherry, berry, lime and orange.  The third cake was gluten-free carrot cake sweetened with pureed pear (no eggs) frosted in (are you ready?) red pepper humus!  It was decorated with gummy bricks made from agar-agar and pear juice.  I have no idea what it tasted like but that wasn’t really the point. 

As if that wasn’t a big enough adventure, three days before the party, my son lovingly turned and asked me how I was coming dressed to the party.  I thought this was part of his growing concern that I would embarrass him.  A few months ago he informed me that one of the boys in his class said I had crazy hair and that I really needed to do something about it.  I suppose my feelings could have been hurt, but this is a little boy with Autism, the fact that he cared what his friends thought – this is the equivalent of winning the lottery!  And it was windy that day, everyone had crazy hair!  Anyway, I asked my son what he thought I should wear to his party and that is when he informed me that I could only come to the party if I dressed like a clown.  He further went on to explain that when you turn 7 years old your mom can no longer come to the party.  However, if your mom dresses like a clown and works the party by blowing up balloon animals, it turns out it’s okay.  I wasn’t going to do it.  In fact I told him no!  Cue the crazy music.

Fast forward to my husband and I scurrying around to put together a clown costume.  Look, he only turns 7 once.  I don’t want to be at his college graduation and thinking “Why didn’t I just dress up like a clown?  How hard is that?”  The truly hilarious thing is that we didn’t tell him I was going to dress like a clown.  When he saw me in the costume he said, “Oh, Mom I hope they don’t make fun of you!”  Autism 0 – Jem 2.  In the end it was all good.  I blew up balloons and the kids had a ball twisting them into shapes themselves, I think I was only forced to make one dog.  Color me crazy but if that’s what it takes to make my kid smile,  that’s what I’ll be doing.

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