fragments of dream,
pieces of me
lost, missing, stolen.
I no longer
new and shiny
the voids they
Loss becomes gain
with release of pain,
once worn like armor.
Still, anxieties preach,
false prophets of doom,
a dragon hard to slay.
A day will come
its lies will cease,
and in that moment,
I will rest in peace.
Crystal R. Cook
Alrighty friends . . . Please whisper a prayer for safe travels as my son heads off on his first adventure, by himself. I am so proud of him, and nervous. Mostly proud. I remember how anxious I was when he took the city bus for the first time, I may have needed a Xanax when he hopped on the trolley by himself for the first time. Okay, the first several times. Today as he boards the plane, I may need two!
I know he is a man, almost 25 now, but this is monumental. It’s hard to even describe the well of emotions this stirs. I know some of you will relate on a level only a parent with an autistic child can relate, I know you understand the hugeness of what is happening today.
In this moment, I haven’t yet found the words to describe the magnitude of what is taking place, I’m not certain I’ll ever be able to accurately convey the depth of this occasion.
Whisper a prayer for me as well . . .
We have infinitely more power over our thoughts and emotions than we realize. It is within each of us to change, redirect, and refocus the negative into the positive if we allow ourselves to let go of what we think controls us . . . Don’t give the power you hold inside to undeserving thoughts, feelings, emotions, and what you perceive as pain. Grow from it, learn from it, use it, but never, never give it your power.
“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung
Tomorrow I celebrate the turning of yet another page in the story of me. When I awake, my first thoughts of the new day will be the opening lines of my 44th chapter.
Birthdays always seem to be a good time for reflection, I tend to think of all the joys, sorrows, triumphs, and tribulations that filled the last 365 days of my life. Today, I find myself pondering the many things I’ve learned throughout my life thus far.
I’ve learned life is an ongoing process of discovery. Knowledge and exploration of all things emotional, spiritual, and intellectual transform the playground of youth. When I was a little girl, I thought once you reached whatever age it was you became a grown-up, everything you needed to know in life would somehow be revealed. What I learned, was you never reach some magical age when you know all there is to know. If anything, you need to know more and more as the years pass by.
I’ve learned each day is filled with challenges and twists and turns, I’ve learned there is no easy way to navigate through the labyrinth of life. Through trial and error we find new truths, we gain wisdom through experience, in turn we continue to grow and evolve into the person we will be when tomorrow comes.
I’ve learned it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we find the lesson in each one. I’ve learned it’s okay to fall as long as we pull ourselves back up, as a matter of fact; I realized we need to fall in order to learn how to stand.
There was a time in my life I thought I could do it all on my own, I thought I was supposed to. I’ve since learned it’s okay to ask for help. I now know there isn’t one among us who can live a full life without the aid and support of those around them. I must admit I still struggle at times, I’ve not yet learned to ask for help often enough, I’ve not yet learned how to fully accept it when it’s offered. Sometimes the learning process is long; perhaps this is why God gave us an entire lifetime to study.
I’ve learned to listen and to learn from listening. I’ve learned strength can be gentle. I’ve figured out being strong doesn’t mean putting up a wall, while it may keep the unwanted out at times, it isn’t impenetrable and too often it keeps out the good we need to keep our hearts from breaking. I’ve learned love is real and wonderful and deserving of both giving and receiving. Love is something you give and accept without condition.
Growing older has only brought me closer to the values and morals my parents worked so hard to instill within me. Faith, character, honesty, integrity, and humble pride are important companions as you travel through life. Without a road map, it can be hard to know just which way to turn when the paths are many, these are but a few life lessons which serve to provide the direction you need to reach your ultimate destination.
Every action we take impacts the way our future will unfold. What may seem to be nothing more than a shiny pebble in the road can become a mountain we must one day climb if we choose to pick it up and put it in our pocket instead of passing by. The pebble may be a moment of weakness, one wrong choice, one opportunity missed. Things in life are not always what they seem. That one little pebble may be the heaviest burden you will ever carry.
I’ve learned time is precious and fleeting. I’ve learned children grow much too fast, every moment must be treasured and used to teach and love and nurture them so they know how to pass those pebbles by when they come to them.
I’ve learned sleep is a gift, hugs are essential and respect is more than powerful, it must first be given if you expect to receive it. I’ve learned sometimes tomorrow doesn’t come and every hour of every day counts. I’ve learned sometimes the faster you try to get somewhere the harder it can be to get where you want to go.
I’ve learned not to let go of hopes and dreams, not to forget what it was like to be a child and to let the child still inside you come out to play. I’ve learned we must let go of anger or it will control us and eventually destroy us. I’ve learned there is no room for love in a heart filled with prejudice and hate. I’ve learned to give when you can and help when you should. Sometimes the impossible is possible and what seems so easy can be the most difficult. Simplicity can be complex and complexity can be simple.
Parents are gifts to be treasured and honored and revered. Grandparents are angels in waiting and when they hold you in their arms you can feel their wings wrapped around you in comforting warmth. I’ve learned never to miss a chance to say I love you or I’m proud of you or I miss you and need you.
I’ve learned sometimes we get second chances, but we should always try to get things right the first time. Failure is not optional, it is inevitable and it is a great teacher. Worry is wasteful, anger is unproductive and disappointment is fleeting. I’ve learned you must accept yourself if you wish others to accept you.
I’ve learned God is good and real and miracles happen and the only unanswered prayers are the ones never meant to be. I’ve learned faith truly can move mountains, angels exist and heaven awaits those who believe. I’ve learned acceptance is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another and I have learned ignorance can be contagious and we are the only cure. I’ve learned God truly is pure and perfect love.
I’ve learned I still have so very much to learn . . .
Crystal R. Cook
“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” – Epictetus
I ran across something I wrote quite some time ago, when my oldest was around 18. My intent was to bring hope and encouragement to those who work so very hard, wondering if and when they will ever see the fruits of their labor. I was thinking of my fellow autism mommies as I penned the words, but now, as I read them again, I see they can be suited for just about anything in our lives.
I suppose it’s really about never giving up, even when it looks like we are working in vain . . .
All children are unique; they learn and grow at their own pace. Almost 25 years ago, a seed was planted, a new life. My son. I was told he would never reach the heights other children would. I cared for him, nurtured and taught him, just as I would had I not been told such a thing. Today, he stands tall and proud. While others said my efforts were in vain, I was cultivating and tending to the growth that would sustain him throughout his life.
When his brother was born I faced even more challenges, and while tending to my garden I learned many, many lessons. Thinking upon all they have taught me, I am reminded of something so simple in its complexity, the Chinese bamboo tree. They say bamboo is one of the strongest of trees. It seems hard to believe when you look at it. Tall and skinny, easily bent – but not broken, the Chinese bamboo tree is an amazing thing.
Once you plant the tiny seed it doesn’t take long before you see growth sprouting through the damp earth amongst the other trees and plants surrounding it.
It requires care as all plants do. After quite some time passes, you notice everything else has grown and blossomed and the tiny bamboo seed you carefully placed beneath the soil, the one supposed to become so tall and strong, doesn’t seem to have grown much at all. It shows no signs of becoming the hearty bamboo you expected it to be. Of course you still care for it and nurture it because it was your seed, you planted it. Sometimes though, you doubt this fledgling tree will become what you hoped it would one day be.
Then comes a time when you finally see the growth you’d been hoping for and quickly it reaches the grand height of eighty feet. It is strong and you are proud. Those who had doubted and made light of your long suffering faith in that one little seed are astounded. While the seeds they planted grew quickly and bloomed with great beauty, they were not as strong and stately as your bamboo.
While they basked in the success of their gardens and you toiled in yours, an intricate root system was forming beneath the surface. Years of unseen growth and progress resulted in a strong foundation, strong enough to hold the bamboo that would stand tallest among the rest.
Sometimes, we don’t always see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes we wonder if everything we do matters, if all our hard work will make a difference. It’s easy to become discouraged when you don’t see results and change and progress, but you have to remember, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
Our children are like that bamboo tree. Their growth is often slow, but we keep doing what we do every day. We tire and we grow weak, but even though doubt tries to steal away with our hope, we continue to nurture and care for them.
We may not see the results of our labor for many years, sometimes we need to be reminded that while we are above the surface hard at work, there is a foundation of strength and knowledge being built below us and one day, our children will stand tall and we will be rewarded with their every success.
They will grow to be strong enough to withstand the greatest of winds because they have the power to bend . . . but not break.
I have learned many lessons in life; this was among the most valuable.
Crystal R. Cook