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Finding Positivity Five Year Later. . .

My youngest son was a couple of months away from turning three when he was seriously injured on January 4, 2015. I started working from home to attend to his increased needs during recovery. His personality seemed to return to normal after a few days. However, I continued to grow emotionally, mentally, and physically worn out. Finding positivity was becoming more and more difficult at this time.

I felt guilt and embarrassment for not keeping him safe. My intense emotions caused a lack of focus on my work projects, and the fear of my jeopardizing my job only increased my stress. I was also physically drained from maneuvering and transporting my son in his heavy cast.

It was more than two weeks before I returned to the office on January 22, 2015. After my work day ended and I ran a couple of errands, I returned home to find that my mother left me two voice messages. I immediately became alarmed. When I returned her call, she informed me that my father had been killed earlier that day.

2014: An Unusual Year

One day, late in May 2014, my dad called and said that he was coming to visit me and my family, and that he would be without his family – my stepmother and half brother and sister. He had been upset and needed a break. He stayed until the begin of June.

Before he left, he added a garden in my backyard. He also made plans to return the next month to celebrate my oldest son’s seventh birthday. I was surprised that he would be coming back so soon, but so happy that he did. It was the first time that he was present for one of my son’s birthday. And since my youngest son was scheduled for surgery a few days later, he extended his stay to accompany us to the hospital.

Memories Heal

These two usual visits were full of so many great memories. I did not have cable at the time of the first visit, and my dad made a request for the movie Deja Vu. He would play this movie, fall asleep to it, and start it all over again, repeatedly. I can’t see that movie, or hear that phrase, without smiling and thinking of him.

During his visits, he told my things about himself that I had never heard before, including a story about him getting hit by a car as a kid. His older brother told him to get a ball that rolled into the street. My dad, listening to his big brother, darted into the street for the ball without looking. His recovery took many long months.

I learned that he was a day manager at a night club while he was stationed in Vietnam. He also commented about the loud (wartime) noises that polluted the environment; this is the only time I remember him speaking about his time in Vietnam. Lastly, I found out that my dad loved table tennis, and had played seriously in many places, including Japan. I loved finding out this jewel of information.

I was surprised that my dad was a serious table tennis player.  Apparently, he was really good. Learning this about him months before his death helps finding positivity a little easier for me.
Photo by Josh Sorenson

Thanks for the Grilled Cheese, Dad!

The last time I saw my dad was at the hospital after my youngest son came out of surgery. My dad then left with the rest of my family and I stayed at the hospital with my son. He returned to Tennessee before my son was released from the hospital.

One of the sweetest and most personal memory from these visits with my dad is that he sent two grilled cheese sandwiches for me to the hospital. He knew that my mind was on my baby and he wanted to make sure that I ate. I always loved his grilled cheese sandwiches, they were one of his specialties. They were still delicious and greatly appreciated even after the 15-20 minutes travel time. Now, any time I make grilled cheese sandwiches, I try to recreate his masterpiece!

Finding Positivity While Dealing with Grief

After five years, I still cry when I think of my dad, but I am not paralyzed by my grief! I am energized by the unexpected visits that allowed us to spend valuable time together. I am thankful for the time that my sons were able to share with their grandfather. Everyone deals with grief in their own ways but finding positivity and holding on to it helps us cope in a less destructive manner.

You can read more about coping with reminders after a loss here.

I am Not Mad. I am Motivated.

My father was killed by an impaired driver. The driver had just left court after being convicted of a previous DUI. Cocaine was found in her system after she caused a crash that killed two.

Although I am angered by her actions, my Faith guides me toward finding positivity. My Faith ‘says’ that perhaps my dad was at the best place, spiritually, for him to leave this world. Perhaps his death protected him from a life that would become unbearable with suffering.

Being positive and having Faith makes difficult events and situations have a purpose. When we can place value and purpose to our pain, we can grow from it. When we become stagnant in our pain, we are at a greater risk of self-destruction. Unfortunately, self-destruction is often not contained to just one’s self.

Not Mad. Motivated. was created as a reminder to use difficulties as opportunities of growth. Your support of Not Mad. Motivated. will help us continue to spread the message of finding positivity and purpose within life’s challenges. Please consider purchasing your Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise today and inspire your community for a long time to come!

Celebrate Often and Be Peppered with Possibilities!

Many parents experience difficulties with children having ‘picky’ eating habits. This challenge is often magnified for Autistic children because of the increased probability of sensory processing complications. Whether the food overstimulates or underwhelms the senses, it can be a quick and easy refusal of food on sight or smell alone!

Of course there are Autistic children who enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits. However, many parents – including myself – find it difficult to persuade our Autistic child to voluntarily and consistently consume the most healthiest of foods.

One minor solution to help increase vegetables/fruit intake is to hide these items among food that your child already enjoys. For example, try adding a purée of carrots to spaghetti sauce if your picky eater loves spaghetti. One may conclude that ‘hiding’ fruits and vegetables is a good start. However, the ultimate goal is finding the right healthy foods that your child will be eager to eat!

For more ideas about boosting meals with purées, check out this book.

The Right Super Food Made it to the Table

I admit that I have not been the best at preparing and eating vegetables. I recognized that changing my eating habits could directly influence the habits of my son. This thought, along with some unexpected weight gain, helped guide my decision to participate in a Reset and Rebalance Program. The “Reset” included a week of all the vegetables that I could stand. So when it was time to dice all those vegetables to make some easy and filling soup, I had my seven year old son sitting at the table with me. To my surprise, he picked up a piece of a bell pepper and took several bites!

I must admit that when he first tried bell peppers, he only chewed then (which got messy). But my “Celebrate Often” excitement of knowing that he chose to opened his mouth and try peppers overruled my concerns over the mess. Now, whenever I chop and dice vegetables, I try to have my youngest son sitting with me, leaving every type of vegetable within his reach.

Small Change, Great Reward

You might think that adding bell peppers to a diet is not much to celebrate, but you would be wrong. There are many amazing benefits of bell peppers. They are high in vitamin A, supporting eye health. They are a great source of vitamin C, which supports tissue health and immunity. The folate in peppers supports the functioning of red blood cells. The lycopene, in red bell peppers fight free radicals that are acquired from natural exposure to environmental toxins. Are you celebrating yet? All these benefits are great, but there are a couple more benefits, or possible benefits, that really causes me to celebrate!

The high sources of potassium and the good source of fiber helps keep fluids and minerals balanced and can help regulate digestion. Since my son regularly suffers from constipation, these combined benefits are greatly reflective of his nutritional needs. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, consumption of bell peppers may help lower the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Although my son is only a young seven, his Autism is thought to be a symptom for a rare disease, PTEN Hamartomous Tumor Syndrome (PHTS), which can increase the risk of cancers such as colorectal, breast, and prostate. Amazing, right?!

The Not Mad. Motivated. Mindset

When it comes to a picky eater, just like in life, it is important to create new paths and possibilities to success. We all come across difficult situations, some more difficult and more traumatic than others. These situations are ours to overcome! Whether we have the support of a community, or we are in our “corner” alone, it is ultimately our decision to use all the strength within and around us to survive and seek success.

Not Mad. Motivated. was created to be a reminder to use current and past difficulties and challenges as motivation for forward movement toward positive change. Help us spread the Not Mad. Motivated. mindset by purchasing your Not Mad. Motivated. shirt today!

Not Mad. Motivated. short sleeved t-shirt in Royal Blue with white print.

Coming this week: New Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise!

The Mindset of Motivation

Your attitude,  not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.

When I was younger, I remember seeing a motivational poster with an eagle soaring in the sky. The poster featured the phrase “Dream Big” along with the above Zig Zigler quotation. Throughout my life, I thought about that eagle and the freedom that it represented. With the right mindset, I was able to use that visual input as motivation to achievement goals.

The Tales of Two Mindsets

Do you realize that there are two main mindsets that helps determine our personal drive? Someone with a fixed mindset believes that aspects such as intelligence, characteristics and skills, and perhaps circumstances, are unchangeable or static. According to Carol Dweck, psychologist and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, a fixed mindset “leads to the desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to”:

  • Avoid challenges
  • Give up easily due to obstacles
  • See effort as fruitless
  • Ignore useful feedback
  • Be threatened by the success of others

This type of mindset can be extremely danger to not only the individual and their family, but also to society in general.

Conversely, someone with a growth mindset believes that they can develop their intelligence, characteristics, skills, and circumstances. A growth mindset “leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to”:

  • Embrace challenges
  • Persist despite obstacles
  • See effort as a path to mastery
  • Learn from criticism
  • Be inspired by others’ success

Encouraging a Growth Mindset

If you have a growth mindset and you are a person of influence, such as a parent, teacher, caregiver, or other type of leader, make the effort to encourage others, especially children, to embrace their ability to grow and develop themselves with hard work, planning & goal setting, and accepting help from others. Be an example by asking them to critique how YOU are doing as a person of influence in their life, and use their comments to demonstrate positive change. Teach others to discuss their challenges using positive, reaffirming statements instead words of defeat and discouragement. Also, use visual input as reminders of what they can achieve, and that which they have already achieved!

Need more information, see 10 Ways to Teach Kids to Have a Growth Mindset, which includes suggested books and additional resources!

Embracing Visual Input to Increase Motivation

With a growth mindset, the concept of dreaming big is completely rational since there is an acceptance that one’s abilities and situations are not limited by what one is experiencing today. Seeing hard working parents or leaders creates a visual example which can help inspire the work ethics of a younger generation. When you plan your day, or week, and you are able to check off tasks, you can established a visual that is encouraging you to recognize your efforts and your successes, while motivating you to continue toward additional goals. Get out into nature and be inspired the always changing world that sustains us all! Create a vision board using pictures that reflect your goals and words to elevate your passion and commitment! Make time to be creative and remind yourself that your success is for you to develop and foster!

The Not Mad. Motivated. Mindset

The Not Mad. Motivated. brand was conceptualized from a growth mindset! Being Not Mad. Motivated. represents the decision to grow and succeed despite challenges and obstacles. Living among negative elements with a fixed mindset of hopelessness and anger is a quick way to a life of misery and pain. Not Mad. Motivated. wants to be a reminder of the fact that current difficulties are only temporary if you use them to motivate you into the necessary movement toward positive change. To help us spread the mindset of Motivation, purchase your Not Mad. Motivated. t-shirt today!

Coming soon: New Not Mad. Motivated. merchandise!

Have a Not Mad. Motivated. New Year!

Are you doing anything special to prepare yourself for a new year? At Not Mad. Motivated., we are planning a Motivated New Year and we are loving it! We are developing goals in order to provide you with more content that inspires, encourages, uplifts, and connects our communities.

What to Expect from Not Mad. Motivated. in 2020

With excitement, we will launch the Not Mad. Motivated. Newsletter in early 2020, which we intend to deliver monthly! We are looking forward to our newsletter being energizing and thought-provoking for the creators and readers, alike. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter so you do not miss a single issue.

Also new in 2020 will be our weekly blogs. An important aspect that we will bring to our blog is active goal setting. Setting goals helps improve productivity, focus, and growth, but sharing goals with others can add a useful level of accountability! If you feel the desire to share your goals for the year, month, week, or day with the Not Mad. Motivated. community, you are welcome to leave a comment on this, or any, blog post. We would love to hear the success that you are planning to achieve – not matter how small or large!

In addition to our monthly newsletter and weekly blogs, we offer merchandise at our shop. Your support will help us build a sustainable business to create future employment for our Autistic family member. Purchasing a t-shirt will also help us all remember that obstacles may occur but when we use our obstacles as motivation for new solutions and positive outcomes, we win! Wearing a Not Mad. Motivated. t-shirt really can help boost my mood and mindset!

Our NMMountain t-shirt comes in many colors. Check out our shop for more options.

This is an exciting time at Not Mad. Motivated.! I pray for us all to have a Motivated New Year! God Willing, we will have good health, success, growth, and achievement in 2020.

#GivingTuesday2019 #DonorsChoose

Teachers need supplies all school year long!

For Giving Tuesday 2019, we are giving at least ten $10 DonorsChoose donations! To recommend a project for a donation, comment to this post or on Twitter @NotMadMotivated. While you are here, subscribe to the Not Mad. Motivated. (NMM) Newsletter (located toward the bottom of the page). If 30 people subscribe today, I will give 15 $10 DonorsChoose donations instead of 10! Happy Giving! Happy Funding!