It has been a very difficult month for me, filled with issues in both my personal and professional lives that have consumed much of my time and energy.
And yet, along my journey the past month, there have been many instances where I have been inspired to look beyond the difficulties and see the positive - the silver lining behind the cloud, so to speak.
One such instance occurred yesterday, and it serves as an inspiration for this post, and future monthly posts to follow.
When I started this blog in July, I noted that this blog is not about the "why" my daughter Helena is on the autism spectrum, but the "why not." There is no reason why autism should hold her back from achieving all she wants to in life - she is just going to go about it differently than most. There will always be times when things will be difficult, or frustrating. These are not obstacles though, but building blocks. We learn a lot from the difficult times, so when we face them again, they are easier to overcome.
Like the quote above from Mr. Rogers, Helena, and indeed all my children, are my little candles. And it is up to me to light then and make them shine brightly on their journey to adulthood.
I visited a dear friend's blog yesterday that I had not visited in quite a while. And I read what I commented to her was one of the most beautiful blog posts I had seen. At first, I was inspired to simply write about it, but then the idea formed inside my head to go beyond that - and actually create an award.
And so, it is my pleasure to introduce the Shining Light for Special Needs Award!
I am honored to announced that the recipient of the inaugural award is Michelle, from In the Life of a Child.
For those of you who do not know her, Michelle is the mother of two adorable children, Jacqui and Kyle. Jacqui has endured much in her young life, from a rare birth defect called lymphatic malformation (LM) to random bouts with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) which can last a week or more. Michelle and her husband Ken have endured right along with her, and it is through their love and the miracle of God that Jacqui is the delightful little girl she is today. I encourage you to read Jacqui's story, which Michelle has posted here.
Michelle's posts are sometimes whimsical, sometimes exasperating (go to her blog and search "Reasons I Dye My Hair"), sometimes sad. But more often than not, they are inspirational. Like the post that inspired this award.
On December 5, Michelle's entry was titled "Choosing to See Beauty." It is an entry about parenting a special needs child, with paragraphs interspersed with hand-cut snowflakes that adorn Jacqui's room during Christmas. To transcribe what inspired me would mean rewriting the entire post. but perhaps I can sum it up like this:
As a parent of a special needs child, so often it is easy to focus on the needs part of the equation, and all the trials and tribulations that come along with it. But Michelle chooses to focus on the special part of the equation, and the needs are part of what makes the child so special.
Michelle, you and Ken have been an inspiration to me and countless others, and I am honored to present you with the inaugural Shining Light for Special Needs Award.