...and the day is done.

The girls usually come home this tired after their day at school.  I take that as good signs they've been stimulated and exercised.  Their bodies and their brains are tired -for good reasons.

I felt a little like that last night, returning home from the annual OACRS (Ontario Association of Children's Rehabilitation Services) conference.  From Sunday to Tuesday, therapists (PT, OT, SLP, RT, etc.), administrative staff, families, educators, researchers, and many others all affiliated with children's treatment centres in Ontario gathered together to share best practices, ask questions, and learn from each other.

My experience in 129 words or less? Arrive Sunday after one hour of driving, meet family reps from across Ontario, confess that I iron during our important once-a-month teleconference, discuss matters we want to address in the coming year with OACRS, have a lovely long dinner with two moms - Anchel who is a great writer and Sarah-Leigh who also drives a Sprinter, meet Minister Tracy MacCharles and Deputy Minister Alex Bezzina of Children and Youth Services, be inspired by sports psychologist Dr.Jensen, attend amazing sessions that emphasize the need for family engagement and preparedness for the future, have another lovely long dinner with people from KidsAbility (Kitchener CTC), have more wonderful conversations late into the night, and finish Tuesday with attending a panel of speakers who are moms to adult children with special needs.


And then I drove four hours in the rain last night to find our house again.

The temptation to walk away from a conference like this is to think poorly of myself or feel overwhelmed by the conversations.  There are some amazing parents at this conference who have changed their career, created new business, motivated change in their community or local gov't - and there are amazing staff that have done so much for children with special needs.  I look at all of it, and wonder where I fit.

I don't like admitting that two kids with special needs (along with the other two kids and a furry almost-kid) are a lot of work because that evokes the pity or sympathy that doesn't motivate me or encourage me.  Yet, I know I have to admit it to myself, so that my expectations for a day's work are realistic. I have lots of ideas, but the reality of my responsibilities threatens to squash my desire, and I end up sticking it all in a (figurative) box and shoving it under my desk the day after such a conference.

On Monday morning, when Dr. Peter Jensen stood up to speak, I wondered if I'd be struggling to pay attention. He's a sports psychologist, and I'm not really into sports - and I'm often skeptical of the self-help/motivator stuff.  But, the minute he started talking, I was all ears.  Sure, he used stories of working with athletes, but his message caught my attention- the girl who still can't shoot a puck.  In short, he talked about igniting the emotion and imagination to persevere.  What propels you to be the best you can be? He challenged the notion that adversity and failure are negative influences.  His experience has taught him that the journey of trying to reach our goal is often richer and more rewarding than achieving the actual goal.  And if we never reach our goal, it is twice the loss if we ignore the growth and change that has come as a result of trying.

Not new words -but wise words. He may not have intended to preach the Word, but he was speaking words that rang familiar to my faith.  I might never learn how to dribble a basketball, but I'd listen this sports guy again.  So maybe I need to work a little harder and pull out that box.  Maybe some of those ideas I have are worth the emotion and imagination that I forget I have.  I'm still wondering where I fit.

Prof. Susan Cadell also presented at OACRS, and she shared her research on post-traumatic growth.  Her work echoed Peter Jensen's - without her intending so.  The idea of post-traumatic growth resonates with the resiliency of someone who is trying to reach a goal, in spite of/with the failures, trauma, and sorrow.

Grace in disguise.

I'm living to embrace that and use it as I find my fit.  I believe it - and I also like hearing it come from different places and different people.  See the mess and find the message.

peace for your week,