Step Into Your Shadow To See Your True Light

What you see:

Someone getting up in front of hundreds at a motivational speaking event to share her story.

What you can’t see:

Someone that has battled anxiety for most of her life. Someone who avoided many events and opportunities because of this. Someone who has been off and on several different medications to help with said anxiety. Someone who never in a million years imagined agreeing to get up on a stage to speak publicly to such a large audience.

Someone who felt like she lost herself in her motherhood role and experienced a whole new level of anxiety. Someone who, once a mother, realized that a lot of the anxiety she experienced in her life was due to chasing unrealistic perfection. Because, let’s face it, motherhood is an inevitable way of showing someone that perfection is impossible and frankly irrelevant. A mother who yearned for more, for something different, but felt guilty for feeling that way.

Someone who decided enough was enough and vowed to take control of her life. Someone who realized that if she wanted change, then something had to change.

Someone who thought she was “too above” and “too busy” for unconventional opportunities. Someone who once cared way too much about what other people thought of her.


Someone who is immensely thankful that she believed in herself, faced her anxiety head on and jumped into opportunities that continue to change her life. Someone who continues to become comfortable with getting uncomfortable.

Someone who wants to show her children that they shouldn’t settle; but instead encourage them to embrace who they are, imperfections and all, go after what they want and to enjoy the journey along the way.

Someone who strongly believes that the absolute best part of the opportunity she continues to share with others is the personal development she herself is experiencing. Someone who loves helping others achieve more in their own lives. Someone who believes everyone should embrace their own imperfectly perfect story.

Someone who is darn proud of how far she has come.

My favorite part of stepping out of my comfort zone and being a part of this speaking event was listening to others share THEIR stories. These beautiful forces of nature in the picture above let us in to view parts of their souls; uplifting and empowering so many in doing so. They showed me how beautiful vulnerability truly is and how owning your own personal journey is so incredibly powerful and cathartic.

I want to thank each and every one of you that has supported me; whether that has been through words of encouragement, “likes and shares,” becoming one of my loyal customers, joining me in business or just following along on my journey.

We all have our own battles, our own struggles and our own stories to share. Whatever role you have played in mine, I truly appreciate you.

Click here for full video:

#nothingchangesifnothingchanges #gettingcomfortablebeinguncomfortable


Don’t be a damn hatchimal

Friends, don’t let the highlight reel fool you. We all want to focus on the great parts of our days, of our life, right? And that’s what we share.

I know I’m guilty of this. Many of us are.

Some days I share poems about how having a special needs child is equivalent to arriving at an unexpected vacation destination…

Other days I want to scream AUTISM F*CKING SUCKS from the rooftops.

Over the past several months, I’ve shared a lot about Jack’s progress and the strides he has made. What I also did was bury my feelings of how incredibly difficult, frustrating and exhausting this all is. One can only do that for so long.

This past week, I came to my breaking point. I was like one of those damn hatchimals. Every time a friend asked that simple and innocent “How are you?” question that many of us give the automated “Great, and you?” response to, I slowly started to peck at the shell that held all these feelings in. I found myself crying – at the gym to a couple of sweet friends, in the middle of a restaurant to another mama friend whom I adore and then last night with some of my best girlfriends.

I came to realize that I thought I was being strong by highlighting all of the good and suppressing all of the “bad.”

I was wrong. I now see that strength is being honest with yourself. Letting your feelings out. Admitting that you don’t know what you’re doing sometimes. Admitting that parenting is hard. Really hard.

I love social media for many reasons. I rely on it for keeping in touch with friends and family, for my business, for entertainment, etc.

But I think it’s too easy to assume everyone else has it all together. We have to realize that what we are seeing is the highlight reel. We aren’t seeing the behind the scenes reality. This isn’t to say that I am going to start publicly airing all of my dirty laundry nor do I wish to know everyone else’s… I guess I just want others, who feel like they can’t open up about what it is they struggle with or are having a hard time with, to know they aren’t alone.

So, my friends, take it from me – don’t be a damn hatchimal. Call a friend, talk to your husband, your sibling; heck, call me. And when I ask how you are, I don’t want the programmed “Great, and you?” response either. I’ll take the tears. And I’ll be here to tell you that you aren’t alone.

#dontbefooled #bythehighlightreel

Weighted Vests for Autistic Children

Imagine every day tasks being so incredibly difficult, nearly impossible; going grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, sitting through service at church, even walking through parking lots.

Imagine not being able to concentrate on the task at hand, not being able to focus on the people around you, not being able to remain calm.

Imagine the lights seeming painfully bright, every faint sound agonizingly piercing your ears, the wind bitterly striking your skin as you walk outside.

Wouldn’t you want to do everything in your power to escape all of that? Now imagine you are only 2 years of age with little to no words to communicate. Imagine what that reaction would look like…

Unfortunately, we don’t have to imagine. This is our reality. The outcome is countless tantrums, epic melt-downs, extreme frustration and LOTS of tears. Shopping trips aborted. Meals out cut short. Scary moments in parking lots. Countless events and situations woefully avoided.

Our sweet Jack is autistic and THIS has been our norm. But recently, we have seen some BIG changes in Jack’s behavior. So, I felt compelled to share more details about it and the progression we are experiencing in hopes that it may help others looking for alternate ways to help their own autistic children.

I first have to say that we have been so incredibly grateful for the intervention we are receiving at Jack’s early age. Between my amazing mother-in-law who is an Occupational Therapist that has worked with children on the spectrum for decades (and just so happens to live next door) and our Early Intervention state run team we have access to here in Massachusetts – I just can’t say enough about the strides our sweet Jack has made over the past couple of months.

In addition to the Early Intervention services, one major difference came from something that seems so simple and was first recommended by Jack’s sweet Mimi – a weighted vest. The weighted vest provides deep pressure that has a calming and organizing effect on the central nervous system. It’s kind of like a portable hug.

It is suggested that approximately 10% of the child’s body weight is evenly distributed across the whole vest. Jack is a little over 40lbs, so he has about 4lbs of bean bag weights throughout the specifically designed vest pockets in the front and back.

Prior to using the vest, shopping was a nightmare. Dining at restaurants was so incredibly frustrating. Walking in parking lots was quite the struggle. Jack always seemed to focus on the negative ways he processed the sounds, the lights, the wind – literally everything around him.

Enter the weighted vest… now, we are able to walk hand-in-hand in parking lots. Grocery shop with little to no tantrums. Have an enjoyable meal out at a restaurant. We have seen a dramatic shift in Jack’s behavior.

Jack is like a different child when the vest goes on. He doesn’t seem to focus on the light, the sounds or the feel of what’s around him as he normally would. He is not melting down and trying to escape the situation he is in. He is grounded and focused on his surroundings; seemingly taking everything in around him – AND ENJOYING IT. Not trying to escape. It’s truly amazing.

I know that all kids are so very different, especially kids on the spectrum; and what will work for some, may not with others. My suggestion to other special needs parents is to talk with your own Developmental Pediatrician, Early Intervention team AND do your own research. Have your own trials with some of these available methods out there. You never know what may work for your child unless you try it.

There are MANY weighted vest options out there to purchase. The fleece one that we have been using is great. It doesn’t scream “special needs” and just looks like a typical vest, which I like. I put a link to similar ones below.

I hope this helps!

#autismawareness #ASD #littlejackiepaper

*make sure to buy the weight inserts separately when needed!

The Ladder Of Life

My husband and I are not the planning type. At all. So on the last day of winter vacation week we decided last minute that we would take the train into Boston to see Disney On Ice. We took the 3 older kiddos, as Jack is not quite ready for that just yet and he happily stayed back with Mimi and Grampy for the day.

Everything we did was such an adventure for the kids; from riding the train, enjoying a nice lunch in the city to watching a great ice skating performance. I must have said “Imagine if Jack was here” or “Jack would LOVE this” at least a dozen times to Matt and the kids.

I know Jack is not quite ready for that type of adventure just yet and I was sure he was having a great time back with Mimi and Grampy. Then, I received the picture from my mother-in-law. Sweet Jack climbing an old ladder out in the yard.

I couldn’t take my eyes away from it. The proud look on my baby boy’s face. The accomplishment he felt for making his way up like that seemed to radiate through the picture.
Then, it hit me. This picture was a perfect metaphor for life. We all have a ladder to climb. Learning, experiencing all along the way up. Jacks ladder looks very different than the ladder of most kids his age. His ladder has some unique obstacles. The beautiful part, however, is that he doesn’t focus on that. He looks forward, he adjusts and does what he can to keep moving upward.

But what I realized is that each and every one of us has a unique ladder to climb. Sometimes it gets slippery. Some ladders are taller than others. Some are rickety, while others are sturdy. Some have wider boards making it easier to climb. Sometimes it gets wobbly, sometimes it feels like the ladder may break.

As I starred at that boys sweet face high up on that ladder, I also realized something else…
No matter what obstacles we come across during our journey up the “ladder of life,” what truly matters is our perspective during the climb and how we look up to the next step in our trek. No matter how difficult our journey may be going up, it is so important to appreciate how far we have come, and more importantly to keep moving forward. To enjoy the journey up our ladder. If we stumbled up a few steps on the way, to try harder on the next steps in front of us. To appreciate the uniqueness of our own ladder, for no two are exactly the same.

So, friends, no matter what YOUR ladder looks like, I hope you grip tightly and enjoy your unique journey upward.  What makes life beautiful is how very different each and every one of those journeys up that ladder is.0D0CC712-1132-4071-B9E2-44B5B59CF173

There Is Magic That Awaits On The Other Side Of Fear

“Now how many more days, mama!?” my sweet 5 year old asked eagerly as he stood on his bed reaching up to cross off yet another day on his calendar.
“That’s it, buddy… just one more sleep and tomorrow is your first day of ice hockey. It’s finally here! So exciting, isn’t it?” I happily replied, with a bit of relief that the 20+ times a day of this same question would now come to an end.

The next morning, a delicious scent of our traditional Saturday morning pancakes and bacon filled the house. As I entered the kitchen with the littlest on my hip, I kissed my husband as he handed me my morning fuel and I could hear Cam excitingly reminding his sisters that today was his day, his very “fourst day of hockey.”

After everyone’s belly was full, my husband and I discussed the days schedule and firmed up who was going where. Then it was finally time for Cam to get going with daddy and head out for his big day. As I helped my boy find his missing boot in the pile of snow gear, he grew quiet… then, I heard his sweet crackly voice whisper “mama, I don’t want to go,” as he burst into tears and reached for me.
“Oh Cam… what’s wrong buddy? You were so excited. What happened?”
As he fought through tears trying to explain how he was scared and just didn’t want to go, my heart sank.
You see, my Cam has always been this little fearless ball of energy. A funny, witty, confident, mischievous, smart boy – a tiny clone of his dad. No wonder why I just adore this boy oh so very much. But as I have found in life, starting something new can be scary. Hesitation can take over our minds; filling it with doubts, what-ifs and fear.

As I held my little trembling man and felt his warm tears falling from his eyes onto my own cheek, every fiber of me felt his fear. A tiny part of me wanted to let him stay home and start when he felt ready, but a bigger part of me knew this was my moment to put my big girl parent pants on and encourage him. After 8+ years of parenting, one would think this would be easy, but it’s still quite the struggle for me. I squeezed him tight, then gently pulled him slightly away so he could see my eyes as I spoke to him…
“Cam, this is all normal. Feeling afraid before we start something new is normal. I still feel scared before I start anything new too, buddy. But you know what? You’re going to get past that fear and when you’re out on that ice you will feel something amazing. Believing in yourself is one of the absolute best feelings in the world. Go have fun, bud. Daddy will be right there with you, cheering you on. I want to hear all about it when you get home. I love you.”
And just like that, he was out the door. My heart ached a bit as I watched the car pull out of the driveway, hoping it was all going to go well.

A short time later, my phoned buzzed. And there it was, Cam’s ear to ear smile on the ice, proud as can be. Oh the joy I felt staring at that picture. Moments later, a second picture arrived with a note that read “He already ditched the walker!” I could just picture dad’s proud face cheering him on. I was so proud of Cam for fighting through that fear and realizing the joy and pride on the other side.

Cam hockey 2

As we get older, these fears all too often paralyze us and hold us back from attempting new things. Whether it’s writing that book you’ve always dreamed of writing, starting that new business that you have been thinking about, training for that half marathon you’ve always wanted to do. Just as a child sometimes needs that reassurance and support, often times we desperately need that as adults as well.

So next time you hear of or see someone post about something new that they started – a new sport, a new business, a new blog, a new job, a new school, etc – remember that you are seeing the highlight reel. Remember that there was most likely a moment of fear, of hesitation, of doubt that they had to get through in order to arrive at that new venture. Cheer them on. Congratulate them. Tell them how proud you are of them. Believe me, they will appreciate it.

I pray that my husband and I can instill the determination and confidence in all of our children to fight through that fear and hesitation of new beginnings. I also hope that you yourself fight through those feelings when something inside you desires to try something new.  Because there truly is magic awaiting on the other side – just ask Cam.


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