Thursday, April 25, 2024

just keep swimming

There are always multiple ways to look at circumstances and events in our own life, yet so often it’s easier to get stuck looking at something in just one way. Our brains can absolutely be rewired, but the older we get- the more we get stuck using the same thinking we've always used. 

Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to change and adapt due to experience. It is an umbrella term referring to the brain's ability to change, reorganize, or even grow neural networks. This can involve functional changes due to brain damage or structural changes due to learning.

It's an amazing concept. By learning new things, we can actually change the structure of our brain. While people used to believe that the brain became fixed after a certain age, newer research has revealed that the brain never stops changing in response to learning.

Every ying has its yang and there is always a flip side. There's ways we can apply that to our own selves.

I’m type A, rule driven, a (trying to be a recovering) perfectionist. But an awful perfectionist because nothing I do is perfect. My head can be an exhausting place to live. Sometimes when I’m lying down watching tv I notice my jaw and hands clenched, even my lips pursed so hard they ache when I let it go. Anxiety is often my wingman. When I screw up- when I forget something- when I don’t follow through I hate myself. I feel shame when I do something wrong. If my room is cluttered I can’t just be. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so uptight.

But guess what- There are so many ways this part of my psyche serves me in life too. I’m organized. My house is tidy. I am very thorough. I don’t usually forget things that I promise or things that need to happen. If I say I'm going to be there I will be there every time. I've always provided a schedule and routine for my boys, important for all kids but especially important with kids with autism spectrum disorder. At times my anxiety morphs into excitement. I love learning new things. I love exploring the world like a child. 

Try and look at the things you criticize yourself for, and then flip that trait over and look at it through a different lens. Your soul will thank you.

Big inhale. (Bigger exhale). Jaw unclench. Shoulders down. Repeat after me: I am most powerful and at peace when I focus on gratitude for my goodness, while better understanding/forgiving the things that I don't love. 

Over the weekend I fell into a deep funk. Sometimes it’s just the shit that we go through as part of being alive. (Whew it’s complicated!- this life gig!) Sometimes it's circumstances. Sometimes it’s brain chemicals (Effexor is also my wingman.) Sometimes it's a mixture. Why I was in a doldrum doesn't matter (and on retrospection is so ridiculously stupid), because we've all been there.

Sometimes feelings are very dramatic things. At least mine are.

And then I feel guilt. I SHOULD be happy. Something is wrong with me because I have such big feelings. I SHOULD be normal. My boys deserve someone who always has their shit together. 

Life is hard for every one of us in moments. It's imperative that we do not forever our moments. They are like bubbles, and bubbles always pop. Sometimes we need a hard reset. At first- that might look like laying in bed all day, taking two naps, eating crappy food and watching too much tv. That was my Saturday. By Sunday I was still deep in my feelings, but I knew I had to crawl out. There's only one way to do that- and that is inch by inch. 

On Sunday, I took a shower. It felt like a marathon. I washed my hair. (Egads- why is an everything shower so hard?!) I got dressed. I put on makeup. I left the house, despite the fact that nothing sounded worse. Parker had a practice swim meet for Special Olympics, and I knew I couldn't miss it. I felt like I was moving wearing 400 lb weights, but I moved. 

Suddenly for the first time in his life, Parker was scared of the deep end of the pool. Parker's nickname is "Danger Doodle" because he isn't scared of anything. Playing with knives? No. Almost burning our house down? No. Eloping and being brought home by a Sheriff not once but twice? Nope! All true stories.

But he was terrified of the deep end. I tried to bribe him. (I'll buy you more VHS tapes! I'll get you a double scoop of ice cream afterwards!) I tried to reason with him. I tried to just make him. 

Finally, it was his turn to swim the 25 meter breast stroke and he stood at the start, frozen in place. My heart was pounding with anxiety. GO PARKER! YOU CAN DO IT! I yelled. But I was DONE. My reserves were at an actual zero, and I had nothing to give him because I was empty. I almost started crying when the starting sound went off because I just wanted to go home and crawl back in bed. 


And so he did. He made it. Imperfectly. Holding onto the side of the pool and slowly scooching down his lane, he made it. In that moment, he did all he was capable of. It wasn't his best in the world, but it was his best in that moment. And now I realize-I did my best too. Definitely not my finer parenting moments, but it was all I was capable of at the time. And that's ok. I'm working on rewiring those neural pathways.

Acting like yourself when you are not feeling like yourself is exhausting. So sometimes all we can do is show up. 

As the day went by I was able to focus on the gifts. I told my amazing new momma friend Angie that I was in a funk and not ok. New people in our proverbial village stepped in. A coach/Dad got in the water and worked so hard to help Parker gain confidence. The whole entire time that he scooched down his lane, the crowd was cheering for Parker. We went out with new friends for ice cream after the meet. 

Photo Cred: AC❤️

Chances are, when I look back on this picture years in the future, I won't remember how hard it was, or how sad I felt. I will just remember the good. I will remember that Parker got into the pool. And I will remember the fact that we both showed up.


  1. ♥️♥️ Just keep swimming.

  2. How’d you get in my brain? Thanks so much for putting into words what so many of us are feeling … we love you so much 🩵