Inhale, Let Go, Keep Going

The size of the world will grow and shrink according to the eyes that view it. Day after day the weight of the world bears down onto your shoulders, and just holding it up takes everything you’re made of. A good night’s rest does little to revive you. Your spirit begins to crack and you begin to wonder exactly what, if anything, you’re made of. You feel like the sand along the shoreline, beaten endlessly by a careless and brutal ocean. On the worst days the world is closing in, the air is thick and suffocation feels inevitable. You wait for the heaviness to steal your last breath, you exhale, your lungs deflate, and you wait. How many times did you pray for a miracle? Inhale. There it is, your miracle. The chance to breathe another breath, the chance to keep going, is your miracle. While you’re spending your energy angry at a God who would allow you to keep going in spite of your suffering, this miracle is denied to many who desperately beg for it.

Though the world may feel closed in on you, the good news is you aren’t alone in it. How self-absorbed we become in thinking our suffering is so great. We hurt, we cry, we struggle but we get to keep going. And despite the turmoil, the weight of the world doesn’t crush you. The pieces of you that feel broken are in reality, only momentarily dark. That light that once was bright has lost its power, but it remains in place, waiting.

One day the world will open wide again. The air will become thin and fragrant and the birds will once again sing a glorious morning song into your ears. One day the light inside you will be fed again and its warmth will radiate from your eyes. One day the sound of your breathing will be a soothing lullaby as you drift warmly into peaceful slumber. Music will be for you, sunshine will warm your face, your stride will be a dance, and your smile will return. One day.

Inhale, let go, and keep going.

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Musical Chairs

I told him he was handsome and he told me he wasn’t sure. I told him he was special and he shook his head. His eyes downcast, he thought about my words. I saw the way his eyes rushed around the room, moving like sparks of lightening but seeing nothing. He was deep inside his mind, with my words and his own. Inside his mind our words danced face to face. He said nothing. His eyes returned to me, seeing my face and he shrugged. In his mind the words I gave him were still roaming, in search of a place to sit.  When I told him he was very smart, he gave me a list of things he had yet to learn. My words again went into the warehouse of his mind, and found no place to rest.  Inside his mind, a game of musical chairs played out.  Imagine there are 5 chairs in a small circle within the mind of my seven year old son. Each chair has been claimed. Then, I add a new player. My new player is an expression of positive affirmation. The new player enters the game, and has no seat. The game begins. The music starts and the others get up and circle the seats. The other players are not like the new player. The other players are doubt, fear, worry, disappointment and sadness. When the music stops, my son has to decide who gets a seat, and who does not fit. Time and time again, my words of affirmation are left without a seat, and the game is over.  This is what happens in the mind of my child with ADHD. Meanwhile within my chest, my heart breaks again and again for him.  They called him defiant, disruptive, unruly, stubborn, and bad and those words each found a seat within him. Ask him what he thinks of himself and those words will parade out of his mouth in a declaration of self-destruction and shame. He did not do this to himself.  His mind is a wide open field of discovery, endlessly in search of something new. He is amazing. Facts and numbers enter the stream of his thoughts and return in perfect order. Questions pour out of him and answers absorb back in. He is happy when he is learning, and he is perfect. One day the game of musical chairs will begin to change. One day when the world opens up to allow him the freedom to be himself, he will let go of those hopeless words and mine will sit in their place. He is good, he is smart, he is handsome and he is loved.  ADHD is a diagnosis, not a curse. ADHD is a condition not a limitation. Encourage your children, help them to replace the negativity in their minds, with the love and affirmation they truly deserve. Be the voice that speaks louder than the doubt. Be the smile that covers them. The music is playing, change the game.

The me I hadn’t met 

I have fuzzy memories of a time when I was carefree and confident, before anxiety came and took me under its wing. As an adult all I knew of myself was the fearful woman who couldn’t venture out into the world without a suffocating sense that every eye was on me. I wasn’t afraid of judgment, wasn’t afraid I was being followed, I was just afraid. The idea that someone would look at me became the only reason needed to cause panic in me. 

This was the me I knew. Until 3 months ago. 

I’m tempted to ask for forgiveness for what comes next, but I can’t. I can’t ask forgiveness for my desire to change lives like mine was changed. 

3 months ago I was introduced to a nutrition system. Plant derived vitamins and nutrients, that I decided to try, hoping only for some extra energy in my day to day life. What I got was so far beyond my imagination. 

Anxiety, fear, doubt, the paranoia of eyes following me, went black. Like someone flipped a switch and suddenly I wasn’t aware of the eyes. I had boundless energy sure, and felt physically better than I ever remember feeling, but it was the eyes that made my world open up. 

  Giving my body what it had long been missing, filled in nutritional gaps, closed vitamin deficient crevices and made me whole. A whole I have never experienced before now. I NEED to share this with others like me. Moms who have their minds and hands full every day and barely get through the necessities! The dads who work and tend to families, the grandparents and aunts and uncles and siblings who know SOMETHING is missing, but don’t know what. 

16 bottles of vitamins in my medicine cabinet and I never felt any better. 3 days of Thrive and my body kicked into a gear I didn’t know I had! 

  (31 years old and finally getting in shape)

Please understand that you are designed to live above struggling, above exhaustion and above the financial burdens. You were MADE to thrive. It’s time. 

Please find a way to contact me 

Apriluhoward@gmail.com works 

You can also choose to register for a free account on my site. 

http://apriluhoward.le-vel.com/

Don’t spend another day missing out on the better you! I wish I had met this me years ago! Your family deserves the YOU, that you want to be! 

 
(This was me before. And now I can laugh about it)

Day 3, The Game Changer 

Somewhere in the years between 2006 and 2008 I developed a crippling fear. I couldn’t check the mail alone, couldn’t shop, take a walk or in any way stand, speak or be in front of people. 
Being on stage had been a part of my life since early childhood. I danced ballet, tap and jazz in front of crowds of people, then performed in school plays both acting and singing without worry. In high school I loved the freedom of my acting/drama courses and continued to sing in choir. When I was in my early 20’s I joined the worship team in church, and spent a couple years both in the background and center stage.

Looking back it seems so sudden that something changed inside me. What may have developed over months or years, in memory seems to have happened like a strike of lightning. Something broke, something went haywire, and short circuited and zapped a piece of me out of service.

From then on I lived in a piercing spotlight. It followed me, always too bright to tolerate. I felt it driving, I felt it anytime I stepped outside, and it consumed my thoughts. Anywhere I went, anything I did, I felt every eye on me (even when there were none to be seen).

Simple activities like shopping, checking the mail, walking from my car into a building, opening a closed door or even walking into a familiar place, became high anxiety experiences. My heart pounded, my stomach flipped, and my mind raced. The logic was all there, I knew I was not the center of the universe, I knew I was not so important that everyone needed to focus their eyes on me, and yet I could not control the way it felt. I was closing in on myself, and the weight of the eyes I constantly felt on me was crushing my ability to feel anything resembling normal. Still, I hid it well.

In 2009 I began the long process of self-healing. Just as suddenly as it seemed to have happened, it started to decrease in intensity. I began to have days where I felt confident, instead of watched. I had days of increased strength, freedom and hope mixed in with days of crippling fear. Little by little the need to be both full-time employee and single mother chased more and more of the anxiety into submission. It took a few steps back but never retreated far enough to be unseen. It popped up anytime I was under stress, anytime I had a bad day. Last year it became louder, Stronger, heavier, again. On my wedding day, I was almost crippled by the fear of walking down the aisle in front of all those eyes. They were my closest family and friends and still I dreaded the moment. That beautiful moment when a groom sees his bride for the first time, was supposed to be like a fairytale. I hope for him it was, but for me it was terrifying, and uncomfortable. All that planning and excitement and all I wanted was for it to be over so I could go back into hiding. This was my life. No matter how I tried to push myself, the anxiety was stronger.

2 months ago I tried a product called Thrive. After endless Google searches and hundreds of testimonies that tugged at the heart strings, and with level 10 skepticism, I sacrificed $25.00 of my budget on a 3-day sample.

Day 1:

The first day I felt nothing noticeable, other than my body craving water. Water was not part of my normal diet (I know, shame on me). Listening to my body, I drank water most of the day, and gave it back every couple of hours! Holy cow, do normal people pee this much? I waited for some miracle effect to kick in, and thought of what else I could have spent that $25.00 on; a movie? A pair of shoes? A new piece of decor?

Day 2:

After a normal busy work day, I went home to my usual house full of kids and cleaning. Around 6 pm I noticed that I wasn’t tired like I normally was by then. By 7 pm I had finished cleaning, dinner, and baths and still had energy to keep going and finish homework. Hmmm, pretty cool but could be a fluke.

Day 3:

On day 3 I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm and could not wait to take my THRIVE, I wanted that energy back! On day 3 I got more than I expected. I went about my morning routine and left for work at my usual time. By noon on day 3 came the game changer! Something happened that I will try to explain calmly: OH MY GOD, my anxiety! Where was the fear??? I interacted with people without hesitation, walked the halls in total comfort, leisurely and confidently. When did the weight of every eye dissolve? I hadn’t noticed! I noticed the mental clarity I had gained, I noticed the stabilizing of my blood sugar and the way my body began responding to hunger simply as hunger rather than an imminent sugar crash. I noticed the endless and steady energy that powered through my day and through hours of homework at night. I even noticed the quality of sleep I was suddenly getting every night. My anxiety was the last and biggest change I noticed, and I’m not even sure how long it had been different, because with it gone, I forgot all about it.

I placed my first month’s order that day, with excited fingers, butterflies in my stomach and tears in my eyes!

2 months later I take my Thrive every morning. I have become accustomed to the energy levels, blood sugar stability and restful night’s sleep. I expect every day to have more than enough motivation, clarity and drive to tackle anything that comes at me. The one thing I have not gotten used to (and hope I never do) is the loss of my anxiety. Those moments when I realize I am doing what once was impossible for me, still give me butterflies. The confidence I have regained is exceptional, and I have become passionate about sharing my Thrive experience with others. (I should also mention that I have since gotten my monthly supply for free, as most Thrivers do month after month simply by referring 2 friends). I can honestly say that while I LOVE getting my THRIVE for FREE, I would gladly pay full price for it month after month because of what it has done for my quality of life.

All that being said, Let me be CLEAR: Thrive is not a miracle cure, it does not treat any medical conditions or claim to cure any illness, disease or condition!

I am now a Thrive Le-Vel Brand Promoter, eagerly sharing my experience and assistance with anyone I can. From one skeptic to another, if there is an area of your life either mental or physical that you’d like to change please contact me!

Go to my site,

http://apriluhoward.le-vel.com/

register for FREE as a customer, and read info, nutrition facts, watch videos and listen to testimonies. I cannot express enough the life changing opportunity waiting for you! Do what I did, get a sample, and see for yourself! You could be 3 days away from realizing your own potential! Thank you so much for reading a little of my story!

**Check out my photos below!!

(Yay clean room!)

Wearable nutrition!?? Yes please!

(2 A’s and a B, juggling kids, work and school!)

(3 steps to start my day off right!)

(When you’re up and motivated on Saturday morning WAY before the kids) woohoo!

The Weight Of Us

 

 

We set them apart like diamonds among rocks,

without all the shine

We recycle our dreams into them

like the eager pouring of old wine

A world full of lukewarm enthusiasts.

Achieving without the work

Loving without the hurt

Believers without a cross to carry

Hope without the fear it marries

Entitled and undeserving with a bravery that’s unnerving

We gave them what we had and what we didn’t

We expected it to make them better versions of who we should have been.

They are the remnants of us, bits and pieces of our lust

Gathered together

Desperately tethered

Wearing the mark of our failings and honors

Fighting to balance the past and the future

With us on their shoulders

 

A Beating A Day, Keeps Disablility Away

DO you find this title offensive? Good! It is.

How many of us with ADD/ADHD kids have left a conversation soaked in the vomit of horrible parenting advice?

What he REALLY needs is a few welts with a leather belt, that’ll straighten him up

I would NEVER let my child act that way

He OBVIOUSLY needs more discipline

.thCALGOH5F                   thCALEP8HD                     thCAT5PX5K

This foul upchuck has decorated my perfectly lovely attire on more occasions that I can count, leaving its putrid scent on every part of my conscious. Well-meaning advice- as it is commonly called- is nothing more than an offensive barrage of insults aimed like a sniper rifle, at the parent; me.

In its simplest form, I call it ignorance. Webster defines Ignorance asa lack of knowledge, understanding, or education: the state of being ignorant”

                                                                                                                              thCAE40BTG

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If you are a janitor, do you give your surgeon lessons before undergoing an operation?
  2. If you are a dentist, do you tell the mechanic how to repair your car when it breaks down?
  3. If you are a stay home mom, would you show up on a construction site and make suggestions on the proper wood to use or how to lay a slab?

Chances are the answer is no. When you are not experienced in something, you are ignorant. I am not an Oncologist, I cannot treat a cancer patient. I am ignorant.

So why is it, that it seems perfectly acceptable for ignorant people, with otherwise decent intentions, to do exactly that; to storm parents with destructive criticism in the form of advice? The short answer:      IT IS NOT!

As a parent we are perfectly within our rights to deny, revoke and rebuke these kids of destructive, forcible suggestions! It has taken me 7 years to get to this realization, and I owe my son an apology for every time I blindly followed this kind of horrid advice, and he paid the price for it.thCAS37RRM

I’ve swallowed the rotten words of people who aggressively tried to coerce me into believing that my son needed more extreme discipline, harsher punishments and stronger limits. These types of advice act like an ice pick, gouging out chunks of the parent’s spirit, self-esteem, confidence and hope. How dare they!? Now of course I am not speaking out against discipline, structure, routine or punishments, these things are crucial for children. What I am speaking against is the overuse of harsh discipline as a “fix” for children with disabilities. In the same way you would never expect a spanking to cure someone with autism, it is no more effective in “fixing” a child with ADD/ADHD. These children need our HELP not our RATH! They are struggling just as we are, to understand themselves, to hold onto their self image in a world tearing it apart day after day, and they WANT to be good. ADD/ADHD minds work fast, and are wired uniquely, they need unique techniques to thrive. The discipline tactics used in history may not have all been flawed, but in today’s society I see an enormous increase in alarming adult behaviors that may have stemmed from the parenting choices they were subjected to. Consider the number of adults who habitually  resort to anger, bullying, hostility and fighting as a response to stressful situations? My guess is these adults came from homes where the main sources of discipline were fear and intimidation. I dont want that passed down to my children. I want their moral compass to come from within themselves not forced upon them by outside forces of fear and anger masquerading as “respect.” I want better! Dont you?

The expression “stay in your lane” never seemed more appropriate than in this context. If you are heavy under the weight of advice that does NOT come from someone experienced in raising a child with ADD/ADHD, or a place of positive encouragement, YOU DO NOT have to accept the offered advice.

It takes some time to build up the defenses we need, the heart of advocacy for our children, and the confidence to use the voice we have, but we must not relent!

If you are bombarded with advice that your gut tells you is wrong for your child, it is OK to stand against it!

You are a capable and wise parent! You are amazing! Did you forget? You have been equipped to raise the children gifted to you! It may not feel that way often, but the truth and the moment are not the same. The moment says “I can’t do this, I have failed, fallen short and feel incapable” but the truth says “I will find a way, I will keep pushing and I will succeed”.

 

The Other “C” Word

The power of a word rests in the weight we give it. Some words are considered extremely powerful, some words offend, some inspire. Still others bend and contort to change according to their environment. Words like love and hate make declarations of passion, while words like life and death convey a coming certainty. Every word can be broken down into a simple combination of letters, strung together to create a sound. Then, one word, on any given day, can change everything. Cancer.

Did you feel that? Chances are, you felt the gravity of that word.

For years that word has echoed around you, playing its benign song in and around your world, always giving just enough space not to invade your comfort. Then one day it comes barreling out of a black tunnel aimed at you. With a savage howl it hits you, pierces through you, and leaves you crumbled in its wake.

His name was John. Cancer took him.

One day the word Cancer took center stage, with only a short performance in mind. Three weeks later the word funeral replaced it, the show was over. Cancer is a greedy word, and it wasn’t done yet.

John’s younger brother was Josh. Cancer took him too. This time Cancer stuck around for more performances, granted a few encores, and when it had the audience on their feet, the curtain came down hard.

When the fog lifted, two brothers were gone. Swallowed by the blackness of the word Cancer.

Then I saw it. Like the ripple left in the water after it has been touched. Like a scent in the air that lingers. Like warmth of a hug long after its embrace. LOVE.

thCA7IJLXD

Love is the greatest of words. Love covers, cleanses, heals, refreshes, inspires, and comforts. When the dark of the world succeeds in defeating the flesh, love comes to light the way out. Love endures beyond the grave, beyond the pain, beyond the loss. Love has this power even when we don’t realize it.thCA9289YC

It may not be possible to remove the fear and suffering from words like Cancer, but we can choose to give more life to words that lift and strengthen us.

Consider the power of your words. How do you speak to the ones you love? What words in your life have you given power to destroy you or others? Could you take back that power and use it to encourage? Could you cover more darkness with the light of love? We shoulder the responsibility of our words. We are individually responsible for our usage of these simple words. Your words will define you and remain long after you are gone. Your words will be your legacy. Be wise in using them.