I am in awe of two things today: the power of gratitude and the power of attitude.

Since my last post, I have made a real effort to stop “should-ing” on my son and, instead, open to the beauty that’s already there. It’s a mystical, magical thing that, when we shift, the world shifts with us. I got to see that this past week.

We went on a little vacation to the beach. My old-time readers know what our last beach vacation was like in Maui, as we dealt with a child who was terrified of the ocean, who flapped his hands constantly and sang loudly on the beach, and who, while other kids ran and swam and built sand castles, simply couldn’t figure out what there was to do on a beach and  just wanted to go home.

I bring this up because RDI, the behavioral intervention we use, teaches us to look for benchmarks — things we’ve done before that allow us to measure the changes, if any, that have taken place in our kids. Going to the beach again provided a great benchmark.

This is what I saw: when we got to the beach, Joseph had a plan: put on a bathing suit and get in the water. Even though the weather and the water were both cold (this is Northern California, not Maui!), Joseph was bound and determined to get in there and swim. This time there was zero, zilch, fear about the rather rough surf. Even the cold water – something he’s quite sensitive to – couldn’t stop him.

This took up a huge chunk of time, and then he was cold. We wrapped him up in a towel and he sat in front of me while I held him close, warming him up.

After this Joseph decided it was draw-in-the-sand time. Joseph is quite the artist, and he drew many scenes of underwater life, as well as more silly scenes of himself as a robot — calling Blue Eyes and me over several times to marvel in what he’d drawn, or to join in the humor. I don’t think the parent of an autistic child ever takes things like this for granted. His imagination, his humor, and the fact that he wanted us to share the experiences with him, are all things we’ve had to fight for, things we’ve marked and celebrated every step of the way.

We’ve been on the coast now for several days, and each day has only gotten better. Today we went out on a kayak. Joseph, who  screamed constantly during Disneyland’s mild Storybook boat ride, was nervous beforehand. But he courageously got on the boat and ended up having a great time. I am so proud of him.

Just now, when Joseph kissed me goodnight, I told him I love him. He looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, “I love you, too.” He started up the stairs and stopped — feeling, I believe, my love and gratitude for him. Again he looked me in the eye and held the gaze. I said, “You’re the best,” and he replied, “Me, too.” (Kids with ASD sometimes get their pronouns mixed up, but never mind — the intent was behind it!)

I’m feeling connected — with him, with Blue Eyes, with God. Feeling grateful for the gifts of the moment. Knowing that nothing stays the same and there will be difficult times in the future, but appreciating how far we’ve come and how fortunate we are right now.

The Universe is always and only ready. When we turn to gratitude, the world shifts to give us more to be grateful for. It’s the power of living from the inside out rather than from the outside in — which is the essence of Yoga.

The benchmarks have shown some remarkable improvement for Joseph. I am celebrating that. But that is not all I am celebrating.

My attitude has been piss-poor lately, and my shift this week provides a valuable benchmark for me. Changing my attitude has brought cause for gratitude. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must say that I am ever so grateful.

Wishing the same for me…uh, that is — you. 🙂

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