Autism, Encouragement

God Created Us, Too

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Religion can be a tough one for neurodivergents. Either we just don’t have the sort of cognitive processing that allows for discussions on philosophy and spirituality to really land on an even footing; or we have such bad experiences with organized religion that we tend to stay away from the institutions completely.

I’ve been on both sides of the coin in this issue; I’ve attended churches where people clearly thought my family was demon possessed (instead of simply developmentally disabled); and studied non-mainstream belief systems that seemed a lot more accepting of people who didn’t quite fit a norm or traditional standard.

It took me a while, but eventually I figured out that what other people think of me or want from my family isn’t anywhere near as important as what God thinks of me.

For thousands of years, all sorts of conditions that provide challenges or limitations, based on the way our society works, have been considered curses or ill luck. That point of view almost always came from a human perspective, rather than anything specific you’ll find in sacred texts.

If someone is suffering, in any number of religions, you’ll come across several references to miracles being performed by a deity or divine agent, to bring forth welcomed healing. People who genuinely felt afflicted by whatever their situation was were grateful for the cosmic intervention. Not that I have a problem whatsoever with that.

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What I do have a problem with is my entire self being thought of as a disease.

When you read the New Testament, the whole point of it is that the Crucifixion and Resurrection occurred so that everyone could receive grace. If you truly believe that, then there shouldn’t be space in your creed for exceptions.

I will never be one of those women who can parent, homeschool, attend every single Bible study, sit on the committees, and turn up to all the ministry events or conferences. Especially not with absolutely perfect makeup, or recently re-styled hair, utterly fashionable clothes, and chances are high my purse won’t match my shoes.

And I finally realized a couple of years ago that I am OKAY with all of that.

There’s nothing wrong with the fact I’m on the spectrum affecting how I dress and socialize, what my interests are, how I’d prefer to spend my free time. We live in a culture that sets out certain expectations and roles, but these aren’t necessarily the purposes God calls individuals to.

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Why would it be so unimaginable that God can be using me to stretch others’ minds, to open their hearts? Why does the only point of my existence have to be so that God can perform a miracle by “healing” me…when it may very well be that autism isn’t what needs the restoration?

Why is it such a terrible thing to be different? Why does the world think we deserve the opportunity to become more normalized, to fit in? What if all of that is completely irrelevant to us living our best lives?

The major reasons I struggle with particular environments or circumstances is simply down to the way my brain is wired — physically, my nerves prefer quiet to loud, small to big, the arts to sports. I get overwhelmed when the world decides it isn’t going to adhere to these requirements. And, honestly, I don’t hold it against the people who are fine with that.

All I ask is that they do the same for me.

Here’s what I don’t need: People trying to get me to change who I am in order to have a “better life.”

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We still don’t know what causes autism, but I stand firm by my belief that, no matter what, an all-powerful God would know who was going to be born on the spectrum…and let it happen, for whatever reason. Just because we don’t understand why an unusual arrangement of neurotransmitters just is in some brains doesn’t mean it’s the result of random chaos that will ultimately ruin our carefully constructed civilizations.

People need to worry about bigger, more real problems than autism.

If the prevailing Good News is that we’re all loved and redeemable, then why should it be any different for neurodivergents?

My condition is nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t require a cure.

God created us, too.

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Autism, reading

Review: The Boy Who Steals Houses (Arm Yourself, With Tissues and Cake)

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MAJOR WARNING: IMPENDING SPOILER ALERT. I will try not to blow the lid off the entire plot, but this time it will be a challenge. You cannot say I didn’t make a disclaimer.

And there is much flailing (and not always the good kind — sorry, everybody) to be done over CG Drews’ 2019 release, The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a contemporary novel focusing on the broken and battered teenage Sammy Lou, who eventually finds that his life, and his heart, can be mended.

There are complicated and sad factors at play here: Sammy and his older brother, Avery, have run away from a neglectful home, and they’re both barely scraping by, using minor theft and breaking and entering to stay off the streets. Is it the best choice? No. But have these boys been gnawed up and spit out by a world that refuses to accept Avery’s autism? Yes, they have.

This is at the core of the plot’s conflict: Avery is autistic, and because of it he was consistently ridiculed, punished, even physically beat by the adults who were supposed to be taking care of him and Sammy. Sammy got used to sticking up for his brother because no one else was. Sam was forced to grow up way too young, and nobody taught him the proper way to handle difficult situations.

Into all of this comes the De Lainey family, a widower with 7 children to raise. The older kids — twins Jack and Jeremy, Grady, Moxie — are all teenagers, and help out with the younger ones and their dad’s construction business. Through pure happenstance (no spoilers here, I promise), Sam winds up being mistaken as a friend of a De Lainey child, and so begins a beautiful, perfect summer he so, so desperately needed.

Most of Sam’s backstory is nothing but tissue fodder. (Hey, better I prepare you now.) It shows the worst side of adults — neglect, abuse, refusal to understand developmental disabilities — and while it’s hardly pleasant, it is important to let the world know there ARE autistic children treated this way. And because Drews is herself an Actually Autistic, she doesn’t just want people to know, she wants people to give a damn.

And after reading 340 pages about the Lou brothers, you will.

Under all this horrible mess that has become their lives, these boys are sweet and smart and so pure at heart, and you never doubt that rooting for them is the right way to go. Do they get it all right? No. Do they need some attitude adjustments? Yes. Is all of this possible? Absolutely.

See, the biggest problem for Sam and Avery is that they’re just kids, and they had THE WORST role models ON THE PLANET. When you’re neurodivergent, you don’t view the world the way most people do, and you won’t know the difference unless someone points it out to you. The true villain of this story is the Lou brothers’ Aunt Karen, who really should be in prison for child abuse and failure to provide proper care for a disabled minor. The saviors of the story are the De Laineys, because they LISTEN and HAVE HEARTS and DON’T CARE that Avery’s different.

The ending of this book — that will steal your heart and charm the pants off you, then break that cardiac organ, with a hammer, no less — is just, and makes sense, and there is SO MUCH LOVE AND HOPE. It’s also realistic — teenage runaways who steal things and get in trouble with schools and peers and others who are breaking worse laws than petty theft do have to face consequences for bad decisions. But is it totally unfair to Sammy and Avery Lou? No, it’s not.

And this is the most vital part of it all. While Drews includes the harder, fiercer, colder, make-you-curl-in-a-ball details of such circumstances, she doesn’t throw her boys to the wolves and leave them to be scattered by the wind. The De Laineys are there to pick up the pieces and reassemble them. There will be LIFE for the Lou brothers after the end of the last page.

Oh, and another massive reason you should read this book? My name is in the acknowledgements.

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Seriously, just go order it already. You can find it on Amazon, Book Depository (free shipping!), and bookstores in the UK and Australia!




Autism, blogging

Letting Go

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One of the hardest parts of reaching the point of no longer being ashamed of your “disability,” in actually taking pride in being how you naturally are, is working through the guilt and dishonor that comes from a lifetime of the world telling you you were wrong, messing up, not in tune.

Admittedly, this can be a rather daunting task, when all of your society — in some instances, those closest to you — keep reinforcing that your condition is not something that you should be “stuck” with. After all, it’s why there are these treatments to get you more “included” in civilization.

The unfortunate, brutal truth of that approach is this: The majority of these treatments are to make other people feel more comfortable around us. To get us to blend in, to stop stimming in public, to get a handle on our emotions, and fade into the background, rather than stand out for being different.

Counseling to make us work through emotional obstacles that we don’t understand probably won’t raise our self-esteem. Training us to mask our autistic traits only results in creating more, deeper anxiety, and that often leads to actual physical illness. Trying to force us to be “normal” is about as sensible as forcing a lion to become a vegetarian.

For a while, I fell prey to this feeling that everything I am was wrong, and should be changed. I encouraged a younger White Fang to participate in therapies that would teach him to think and process things like “regular” people. Not to build understanding and empathy in him, necessarily; more to eventually convince him that he could one day act like that, too.

I didn’t want my baby boy to be bullied, repressed, discriminated against like I had been. Like I still am. But recently I’ve realized that the best way to fix this is NOT to make him change. It’s to change the perspective of those who come across him.

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Are we perfect as is? No! Do we sometimes hurt feelings by speaking in a tone or with body language that takes others aback? Yell out phrases or thoughts that humanity finds impolite? Yes — and who doesn’t, at some point in their lives? Do we react suddenly to strange circumstances or unexpected events, do we accidentally cause distress to random passerby? Yes — and again, who hasn’t done or said something they wish they could do over?

Are autistic children harder to parent? Sometimes. But how many neurotypical children throw tantrums, break toys, refuse to eat their dinner? Plenty. And does the world view them as problems that will never be solved without government or medical intervention? Hardly.

The biggest difference between us and the NTs (and honestly, I hate having to divide the world into camps like that, but it wasn’t my decision) is that we have concrete neurological and physiological reasons behind everything we do. Either it’s our external environment or something internal that causes overstimulation or brings us to a shutdown or meltdown. We truly aren’t doing it just to make other people mad or upset.

Motives like greed or envy rarely influence us. We know what we need and what we like, so we generally are content if we get it. We aren’t spoiled for knowing there are certain requirements to maintain our calm and well-being.

So, while we sadly do still have to fight the uphill battle to convince others of these facts, in the meantime, we can apply them to our own hearts.

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Would it benefit us to tamp down our anxiety? Absolutely. Does it mean we’re horrible, vile, screwed-up people beyond redemption if we suffer a setback (or many)? Not one bit.

Do we need to keep beating ourselves up for being different? No. What’s the fricking point of that?

Will our lives not be what parents, neighbors, teachers, authorities envision for us? Most likely not. Do we have to follow their plans to feel successful, accomplished, happy? No way.

Will we feel more accepted by the “average” folks if we conform? Sadly, yeah. But will that actually make us feel better? Experience is proving no.

I don’t have it all figured out yet myself, but the best advice I can come up with at this moment is: let go.

Let go of a sense of worthlessness. Of loss. Of missing out. Of having made mistakes.

You are okay. You have made it. You are further today than you were last month, last year. You can keep moving forward.

Let go of striving to reach someone else’s ideal. Let go of not being “enough” for people who don’t really want you.

It’s all right to be different. To be yourself. To want to feel whole.

Do it. Go. 

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Autism, blogging

Here’s Why I’m Proud to be Autistic


Welcome to Autism Pride/Autism Acceptance Month! Let’s jump right in, with a list of reasons why I’m proud to be autistic:

My life is rarely boring. The way I look at and experience the world means that the beauty of nature and the comfort of a routine becomes just lovely things to take in. I don’t get bored or irritated by familiar things or places, I drink in the sunshine and the snow, the rain and the wind, flowers and trees and birdsong. Very simple pleasures bring me much joy. Re-reading favorite books, reruns of favorite TV shows, sharing the best movies with White Fang as he reaches the right age (and anticipating the same for Muffin one day), just makes my heart sing.

And because I have a vivid imagination, my daydreams often provide cheap entertainment. Thinking “outside the box” comes so naturally, I can create magic from the simplest things.

I know what I like. Whether it’s entertainment, academics, hobbies, occupations, cuisine, pets, or social events, I know what I like, and I’ve reached the point of not caring if others disagree. I make no apologies for my passions, and see no need to follow trends or keep up with “the popular kids.” I’m not sure whether you’d call it self-confidence or just stubborness, but there is something quite refreshing about not engaging in “fear of missing out” or giving in to the pressure to conform.


Because I have specific interests, I take time to hone my strengths and skills. It’s how I made my way from completely unrecognized hobbyist writer to self-published author in about a year. While I’ll probably never be rich and famous, there are now books in my house, my local library, my friends’ houses, that I can point to and say — with absolute accuracy — “I wrote that!” And while national newspapers and most literary magazines have never heard of me, there are still a lot of people who have read and enjoyed my titles, and would be very happy for me to write more. Not at all bad for someone who couldn’t figure out how to format a 6×9 paperback manuscript in 2017.

I can sympathize with a wide range of people and animals. The marginalized, the underappreciated, those with trauma in their past, their present, even if I haven’t been in their particular circumstances, I get so many of the feelings that go along with discouragements and setbacks, heartaches and loss. While I’m very practical and believe action is always the wiser course, I’m highly unlikely to try to minimize or brush off depression or anxiety.


Being part of a very special community. Finding other autistic adults through the power of social media has taken the phrase “These are my people!” to a whole new level. Never having met another autistic female until a couple of years ago — heck, not even knowing was on the spectrum most of my life — meant that I didn’t really “fit in” with any one group at school or work. Now that I know I’m not only “not the only one,” but also that I’m not the only autistic mother/self-employed/felt they were on their own, too, has made a HUGE difference in the way I view myself. I feel special, respected, understood. And I know that, regardless of what symptoms/lifestyle/education/career I do or don’t have in common with others on the spectrum, I still am, and accepted.

I may very well change the world one day. People who have made significant waves in history did so because they weren’t afraid to be different. This isn’t to say that everyone who changed the world for the better was neurodivergent or autistic; but their success started with refusing to accept a status quo, bravely taking on new ideas, and not letting the odds get them down. That’s a spirit I strongly relate to. It isn’t so much “when life gives you lemons…” as when the world says no, I say yes, and make my own way.

So, there we are for now! Tune in later this week for a promotional post on ASD author CG Drews’ newest release, an Own Voices novel on anxiety and autism entitled The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a book you won’t want to miss!


Autism, blogging

Is Spring Here Yet?: Featuring What I May or May Not Be Doing with My Life After The Longest Winter Ever


So, for those of you who live in places where it snows, can we all just agree, now, that this was the LONGEST WINTER EVER? It feels like the last 5 months in fact spanned at least 15. I definitely feel like I should’ve had a cameo in Game of Thrones. Usually I embrace living in a region where all 4 seasons are in concrete representation…but not this go-round.

Anyway, I don’t think it helps one sliver that this rollercoaster of a winter finished for us with a strong bout of sickness that we’re still trying to kick. There’s been multiple days — sometimes in a row — of more rest than doing anything else, which has led to falling behind on other stuff (welcome to my writing goals getting completely tossed out the window), and domino-effect-issues like the contents of the freezer reaching uninspiring levels. Poor Muffin and White Fang are still on the road to recovery, while the cat seems largely unscathed (yay), and my husband and I are finally turning the corner.

By some miracle, I’ve still been able to do at least a little editing on my current projects, and the distant dream of having a book ready to release in the next couple of months is still alive! I’m not going to be anywhere near as bold as to slap an actual date down, but it may still happen, and I am awesome with that!



Interestingly, I haven’t even been reading very much. I did complete a re-read of books 1-3 in Kyle Robert Shultz’s delightful Beaumont and Beasley series, mostly before he releases a million new novels and I realize I forgot everything that took place previously. (Ahem. My memory generally is much better than that, but, hey, it’s been a hell of a time.)

I have been able to make it to recent book club meetings at my local library, which is important for me as a self-published author, because I don’t have a highly-paid marketing team behind my titles, so I need all the exposure I can get. And joining in community events (and they are small, as we live in a rural area between the big cities) means I have the chance to share my street cred, which increases that, and it all keeps rolling merrily along.

And can I just say…the promotion part of indie authorship is much harder than a lot of folks realize. Yesterday I noticed a Tweet that mentioned since Amazon changed its review policies, it’s harder for readers of indie authors to leave reviews supporting our work. This becomes Reason # 4736 I don’t use Amazon for self-publishing. If anyone who has loved my books would like to leave a review on the new Barnes and Noble links for my re-releases, please, feel free! It only takes a B&N account (which costs nothing to have), and a few minutes of your time, and when you do something like this for your favorite indies, it really makes our day!

(Wow, I worked that plug in pretty seamlessly…)


In non-writing-or-reading news…

Hmm, there’s really not much. I think by now everyone knows (or may have come across hints) that personally February was rather brutal, and a lot of March was picking up the pieces of that. For privacy reasons, I’m not sharing certain details with the entire world, but suffice it to say, it was hell in a handbasket. Not even kidding.

Now, the positives from this: At the moment, there has been some significant progress made, and while there are still a few loose threads, we are, praise the Lord, a far cry from where we were. In the midst of all these appointments and meetings and schedule changes and costs that weren’t there before, we have received so much heartfelt emotional, social media, and even financial support that we remain eternally grateful for. I would be flatout lying if I claimed it hasn’t gone a long way towards helping me make it through. Waking up every morning terrified of what the day would bring was an absolutely horrible feeling. Knowing there are people who have my back, even in the darkest moments, gave me that little push to keep going.

So, what’s coming up next?…

April is going to be a month featuring autism, and not much else. It’s Autism Acceptance/Autism Pride Month, as typically it’s been a month where organizations pushing for a cure to neurological and developmental disorders try to get people to feel sorry for us, and we’re just not tracking with that anymore. So the goal of the online Actually Autistic community is to reclaim this month, to share what we love about how we are, and to push for people to love us, to hell with “awareness.” Especially since many people who are aware of autism still judge and condemn us, which makes our platform for tolerance nearly impossible. Hence shifting the focus of the campaign, and this is an endeavor I am more than happy to get behind.

I will be blogging only about once or twice a week, though, in April, in the interest of getting more writing and editing done, and I can. Not. Even. with the idea of May showing its face. So if you notice I’m not around as much, it’s simply due to expending my energies elsewhere. Forsooth!




Autism, community

Get Ready For Autism Pride Month


I really hope you’re ready for a whole lot of autism.

April is Autism Awareness Month in many English-speaking countries, and many of us #ActuallyAutistic folks have an issue with the way we’re often portrayed during this time period. “Autism awareness” all too frequently translates to “being aware of the affliction of autism.” When we don’t consider ourselves afflicted, generally. Some of us suffer with physical difficulties, such as seizures or food allergies or other medical conditions, that happen to go along with our being on the spectrum. But just having autism is NOT what creates our “affliction.”

To us, we just ARE how we are. Our normal IS having autism. We don’t know anything different. Some of us don’t care for that status quo, and some of us would change it. But most of us don’t see the need. And all we want is to be ACCEPTED for taking that point of view.

We don’t need to conform, we don’t need to become just like everyone else. We can bring so much value to this messed up world simply by being ourselves.

There’s a push in the #ActuallyAutistic community this spring to TAKE BACK the month devoted to “raising awareness” about us. We’re going to call it Autism Pride.


So, throughout April 2019, every post I make on this blog will be dedicated to something about autism. Once or twice a week, I’ll pick a topic and share all the positives and negatives, all the “it is what it is” of the subject.

The prevailing theme for all of this WILL be taking pride in being autistic — no matter what the rest of the world says. No matter how hard it gets sometimes. No matter how much we do struggle.

It took me most of my life to figure out I’m on the spectrum. And when the realization finally did come, it was AMAZING. All the human behavior and perspectives I never could understand, now I got WHY I didn’t grasp it. The environments and hobbies that made me squirm because of the noise and heat and too many other people all made sense. I stopped feeling the push to apologize for wanting to be introverted, for not wanting to look at other faces the entire time I was talking, for not joining groups or having a very small social circle. I no longer cared if I wore makeup, high heels, or dresses more than twice a year. I embraced sticking to my comfort zone, at last comprehending that all my boundaries had developed from a very real physical reason of protecting my extremely sensitive nerves — not at all from shyness or stubborness or a refusal to adjust. wasn’t what required adjusting.

Knowing that, for the first time, finally, felt LIBERATING.


For years, I’ve been speaking up on behalf of my autistic son, fighting for his acceptance in a world that would rather change him before tolerating him. Now I’m also fighting for myself, and for the next generation of ASD girls, so that they can be heard, and not have to spend their lives doubting, fearing, aching.

Neurodivergence is the civil rights platform most of us never thought we’d have the opportunity to stand on. Now that we are, and on the cusp of turning the corner, we can’t give up. We’ve been abused and mistreated for decades, and at last that’s being exposed and shamed. It’s not too late for our children to have a great life, their strengths applauded, discrimination scaled back.

Who’s with me?




On The Prospects for an Autistic Adult


So, this may not be a fun post, but it is a necessary discussion. And although it doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s something that more people need to be aware of. And it’s been weighing heavily on my mind lately, for a variety of reasons.

We’ve all heard the advice given to teenagers or young adults about to enter the “real world” — do well in school, go to college or get vocational training, gain experience in your chosen field through volunteering or an internship, learn how to submit a killer resume and ace the interviewing process. Then you’ll find a job to get your foot in the door and begin building your career.

Simple. Right? Not when you’re autistic.

When you’re autistic, you do all of these things…and won’t automatically succeed. We have what’s known as “an invisible disability,” meaning that we look completely “normal” on paper. But when we’re sitting in front of someone, most likely we won’t be able to help stimming, or we’ll really struggle to keep eye contact, or we’ll forget the perfect word halfway through a sentence, and need a few seconds of waving our hands around to recover it. Although none of these things are a criminal offense, they really turn off interviewers. Somehow we’re seen as potential screwups, not potential employees who could still do the job with our disability.

There’s something about us that makes people uncomfortable — mostly, just the fact that we’re different. And a lot of “average” people have issues with anything they don’t recognize, can’t quantify, or don’t have a slot for.

This has happened to me so many times I stopped keeping track.

I stopped working outside of home in 2014 after Muffin was born. In the past four years, I’ve submitted numerous applications and had several interviews. Here’s how many jobs I’ve been offered: Zero.

There were occasions when I did not pursue the next step of the interview process, though, as I realized early on the position or business in question would not be able to support any accommodations I’d request. I’ve come to a point in my life where I know my limitations, and I won’t pretend otherwise. I don’t believe I can work more than 30 hours a week, know I can’t commute more than 20 minutes one way, can’t deal with tough parking situations, or loud, crowded environments on a regular basis. And yet, in spite of these factors obviously creating difficulties for my day-to-day, the chances of me actually securing a partial disability stipend are slim to none. The government will say that since there still are jobs I can do, that means I won’t qualify.

Well, how am I going to get a job that no one offers me?


I spent a lot of money returning to college to finally obtain a degree…which I now can’t use. I accumulated debts that I can’t pay off. My references are quickly becoming outdated. I’ve explained my situation about 17 times to the people who handle the student loans, the credit checks, and the job training places — that I’m more than qualified to work part-time with small children, but because I have an intellectual disability nobody lets me through the door, or won’t let me have reduced hours or a low-key environment once they do — and I get no sympathy, no advocacy, no practical solutions. Most of the suggestions I receive are pointless — I can’t drive 45 minutes one way to go to a center that will re-train me in masking (such a commute would cause panic attacks, and masking will only result in a breakdown later on from building and then ignoring anxiety). I can’t refinance to achieve a lower interest rate because I have no numbers with which to juggle terms and conditions. And I am not going to finish a Bachelor’s degree, because that will simply mean more debt that will remain unpaid later on when even more mainstream positions — like that of a kindergarten teacher — won’t hire me.

When you think about it, it’s so ridiculous — if society is gearing towards including all sorts of people, such as those with intellectual disabilities, then why wouldn’t all sorts of businesses hire them to carry out all sorts of tasks? But the fact remains: Anything outside of the norm is viewed with extreme skepticism and prejudice.

And a “place” for us is developed within the constraints of what the rest of our culture is comfortable with letting us have.

But that place often does not benefit us.

Before I had Muffin, I had basically become a professional floater. A floater in childcare is someone who fills in for whatever staff can’t be present that day, whether it be with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, the elementary age afterschool, even the kitchen and cleaners. Most people don’t like switching their duties that frequently; they prefer to be in the same space every day, doing the same thing. For me, that’d equal soul-killing boredom. I loved getting to work with such a range of ages and developmental levels, help the kids in everything from counting the blocks to folding their nap blanket to trying a new food. And most of my colleagues respected my versatility — I could breeze into any classroom and pick up the routine within minutes, which kept their day running smoothly, and anybody who works with kids knows this means sanity is maintained.

But for some reason, eventually people will start asking, “Don’t you want to move up?”

Actually, no, I don’t. This position fits my lifestyle, and provides enough money for what I put into it, and I’m good at it. Why does this bother you?


So now here I am, a perpetual stay at home parent, and not completely by my own choice. One could say that the clear solution would be to go into business for myself — and believe me, I’ve considered it — but how does one do that when she has no money to rent an office or studio, and no financial means to secure a loan or startup costs? How do you get customers through the door when you can’t afford advertising, have very limited networks, and a disability that prevents you from holding massive fundraisers or events? How do you get around the issue of some people simply refusing your services because you’re not like them?

None of these questions have easy answers yet, either.

So, in the face of all the hardships and uncertainty, the biggest inquiry becomes: Do we give in, or do we push on?

Pushing on can be very, very tiring.

Giving in may result in consequences we didn’t foresee, or don’t care for.

As much as there are days I feel I cannot go forward, I refuse to give up.

So I’ll keep trying.

And probably regressing.

And with any blessings, one day, I’ll make it.